June 30, 2005

On the brink of a CAFTA vote

The Senate sends the free trade agreement to the floor with a favorable recommendation amid news that the Department of Labor withheld information on labor rights in the countries signing onto the agreement:

The Associated Press is reporting that the Labor Department kept secret for more than a year government-funded studies that could hinder the passage of CAFTA -- the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The studies had concluded that several of the countries involved in the trade negotiations have poor working conditions and have failed to protect workers' rights. The studies' conclusions contrast with the administration's arguments that Central American countries have made enough progress on such issues to warrant a free-trade deal with the United States. The studies were conducted by an outside contractor -- the International Labor Rights Fund. According to the AP, the Labor Department instructed the contractor to remove the reports from its Web site, ordered it to retrieve paper copies before they became public, banned release of new information from the reports, and even told the contractor it couldn't discuss the studies with outsiders. The Labor Department said such moves were taken because the agency had concluded the contractor had "failed to meet the academic rigor expected."
Stop CAFTA by calling your rep. In California, Lofgren, Eshoo and Davis are on the fence.
Get educated about the impact of trade liberalization.

June 26, 2005

Pride Week 2005

Between going into the Global Exchange/CODEPINK office and Pride Week festivities, I've spent almost more time in San Francisco this week than at home...Bart is my new love. DC Metro, I'm sorry--you just don't have the cooshy seats I need.

Went to the Castro yesterday to watch the Dykes on Bikes parade. I was totally awestruck, all these righteous babes, engines roaring, and topless girlfriends in tow...it was just so inspiring, hundreds of self-assured, powerful--but not aggressive--women together, asserting their right to be there and to create a safe space. Everyone was respectful and very peaceful, despite the crowd reaching almost riot-sized proportions. People in apartments overhead waved and cheered and held signs like "I came out of a vagina" and "Fags <3>

The parade marched conveniently in front of Good Vibrations, and my girlfriends and I all went in and spent an hour and a half testing the merchandise (well, not testing testing) and flipping through how-to books and coffee table art books. That was also a super comfortable environment, everyone was so accepting and the salespeople were very approachable and knowledgeable. I found out Good Vibes is actually a co-op, which makes it even better...should've applied for a job there, it's right around the corner from GX.

I <3>

June 21, 2005

Freeloader Foundation

Sky Andrecheck from Campus Progress talk about his lunch with the dark side:
Come to think of it, I was surprised that these conservatives would take the food at all. I could still hear the words of Senator DeMint ringing in my ears, telling me that when people are dependent on food stamps and subsidized school lunches, they become helpless. Yet when these wealthy conservatives were offered a free lunch, they seemed to have no problem loading up their plates.
While my economics professor was preaching that "there's no free lunch," I took advantage of as many Heritage luncheons as possible, though I had to scrounge for crumbs after the republicans gorged themselves. Of course this is assuming I still had an appetite for cheap Chinese food or the Subway subs after a heavy dose of right-wing propaganda. I think they might've reserved the orange chicken to the German exchange students...naturally that's the only thing Heritage would think to recycle.

June 20, 2005

Some harmless fun

Most forwarded Yahoo! news story of the day. Yes, it's about sex--what other news would the American public find fit to foward?:

Brain Areas Shut Off During Female Orgasm

"The fact that there is no deactivation in faked orgasms means a basic part of a real orgasm is letting go. Women can imitate orgasm quite well, as we know, but there is nothing really happening in the brain," said neuroscientist Gert Holstege, presenting his findings Monday to the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Trust him, he has experience with this sort of thing.

Good old yeller journalism

Big media outlets are still failing to address what many suggest could be “the Pentagon Papers of our time.” TV and print media have downplayed the memo, insisting that it contains “nothing new.” They’ve tried to justify their lack of critical attention by saying it was “conventional wisdom” that Bush wanted to invade Iraq. But as FAIR points out, if Americans knew the administration’s ultimate goal was to attack, regardless of intelligence,

- Why would Bush have lied and said war was a last resort?
- Why would the White House have needed to justify invasion by misleading Americans (as they still do) into believing that Saddam had ties to al-Qaeda?
-Why did the media have to selectively report information on the existence of WMD?

If administration plans were “conventional wisdom” outside the beltway, why would polls have shown a bamboozled American public—the majority of whom were in no hurry to go into Iraq—who were confused over the reasons for going to war even more than a year into the occupation? How is solid evidence of a rush to invade, without adequate intelligence or an exit strategy, not shocking and newsworthy?

While many news outlets have brushed off the Downing Street Memo and the hearing held in Washington to discuss issues brought up by the memo, others have offered gross misrepresentations. Even that bastion of the “liberal media,” The New York Times, dismissed those who attended the meeting—including distinguished members of Congress, prominent lawyers, diplomats, and families of victims—as less than credible “antiwar activists.”

But some of the most irresponsible and spiteful coverage of the “Downing Street Memo” and the Democrats’ hearing has come from the Washington Post. Dana Milbank’s June 17 editorial, 'Democrats Play House to Rally Against the War,' distorted facts and mocked democrats for “taking a trip to the land of make believe,” belittling their legitimate inquiry into Bush’s reasons for risking the lives of soldiers and civilians as “antiwar theatrics.”

Conyers responded with a letter to the Post, slamming Milbank’s false claims and derisive tone. The Congressman refuted the notion that the memo has been unimportant to Democrats in Congress, pointing out that at least four representatives—including the minority leader—have brought the memo to the floor, and more than one hundred have signed Conyers’ letter to the president. If more Democrats were unable to further show their support at the hearing, Conyers said, it was likely because Republicans scheduled an unheard of 11 consecutive floor votes during the forum and refused to grant Democrats anything more than a small room in the basement of the Capitol for the meeting.

Watch for a CodePink media alert on this...

June 18, 2005


The Nation sees light at the end of the tunnel--"This really can be the beginning of the end of a disastrous war and a bankrupt national security strategy."

"It's the very beginning of a new wave of activism on this war. There's a real sense that something is beginning to move."
--Tom Andrews, fmr Maine Rep. and executive director of Win Without War, Los Angeles Times, Friday June 17, 2005

Poll numbers have been encouraging...success now hinges upon pressuring big media into giving ::gasp:: objective coverage and inquiry...AP finally caught up, let's see if networks will follow.

June 17, 2005

"Sit and Spin Zone"

Faux News was really in fine form yesterday. They demonized Durbin, polled their misled viewers to "prove" Americans want to keep Gitmo open (recall that 80% of people who got their news from Fox had misperceptions about the war in Iraq), and aired car chases. Basically they did everything in their power to avoid talking about yesterday's public hearing on the Downing Street memo (which Yahoo! headlines only described this morning as "Hearings sought on 'Downing Street Memo'").

My favorite clip was online though--in a feeble attempt to write off Kucinich's bipartisan coalition calling for an Iraq exit strategy, Fox called republican Reps. Walter Jones and Ron Paul the more "eccentric members" of the GOP (citing an unnamed source--as usual).

Eccentric? Sure, if you're talking right winger--after all, Walter Jones is the father of "freedom fries" (and don't forget "freedom toast"!).

"I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there."

Why the change of heart? He attended the funeral of sergeant killed in Iraq and was moved by the words of the GI's widow. Perhaps if we were seeing more of these flag draped caskets, more Americans and lawmakers would reconsider the occupation.

Until then, Fox will do its damndest to spin poll numbers, like yesterday's CBS poll showing only 37% of Americans approve of Bush's handling of the war. Here comes the PR campaign...

June 11, 2005

Drum Major Institute

"Too often, the left operates in silos. There are the people who work on health care, and those who focus on economic development, and the environment, and voting rights, and too often, we operate in isolation from each other. We need to challenge those tired orthodoxies. That’s DMI’s mission as an organization." -Andrea Batista Schlesinger, Executive Director of DMI

Lame excuse for an illegal war

via Raw Story--another secret memo just released by The Times shows that Tony Blair's cabinet felt it was “necessary to create the conditions” that would legitimate the invasion of Iraq. They knew the US would be using UK bases, and they would be complicit in any US undertaking, so they knew they'd better come up with a legal excuse to go to war. Given that "regime change" isn't adequate justification for invasion under international law (the memo made sure to note US unilateralism on this--"US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community"), their only option was to make sure Saddam refused to cooperate with UN inspections. Funny, given that "Blair and Bush...repeated during their Washington summit last week, that they turned to the UN in order to avoid having to go to war." A UN ultimatum was their only chance.

AMERICAblog has more.

Democrats led by Conyers are scheduled to hold a hearing this Thursday on the Downing Street memo--this one ought to be used as additional evidence. We demand answers.

June 09, 2005


From Common Dreams--keep your eyes peeled for developments on this. Corporate media sure as hell isn't gonna do it for you, after successfully ignoring the Downing Street Memo and murmurs of impeachment as 160,000 Americans sign a letter by John Conyers to demand Bush address the damning evidence that he sent us to war on false pretenses...

ANYWAY, here's the newsflash--as if there wasn't enough to prove that Ohio was Florida 2000 Redux:
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur...during a statement on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday night, said "there is a major political scandal that is unfolding in the state of Ohio."

"The governor of our state has permitted millions and millions of dollars of workers' money from the Ohio Worker's Compensation Fund to be invested in high-risk investments"...

Democrats such as Miss Kaptur and U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain say the latest scandals mirror problems in Washington and even call into question the results of the 2004 presidential election...

"I think the George Bush campaign raised a lot of illegal money in Ohio," Mr. Brown said. "That puts the election in some question. I know these people stop at nothing and I know their incompetence kept a significant number of people from getting to vote."
Fixing intelligence, fixing elections, fixing social security...right wingers sure are industrious little buggers. Kinda like termites.

Back to studying for my oxymoronic global business ethics final--so many Enrons and WorldComs and Tycos, so little time. Oy.

June 07, 2005

They don't call it BJU for nothing

via Raw Story--Bob Jones University bans Abercrombie and Fitch from its oh so daring "leave room for Jesus in that ankle length moo moo, ladies" dress code, citing "antagonism to Christ."

BJU does, however, fully endorse Urban Outfitters' Jesus friendly "Jesus is my homeboy" shirts.

Funny, the certifiably most uptight school in the US didn't seem to have a problem with cross-dressing among members of its squeaky clean admissions staff:

Q: How did you meet your wife?
A: We sang in an opera (Aida) on campus and had to dress as Egyptians. She must have really liked me because I had to wear a blue dress and dark eye shadow the whole time.

That's hot repressed lovin right there.

The American Daydream

Going along with material I'm studying for a contempory world systems final...
From Bob Herbert of the NYT:

Put the myth of the American Dream aside. The bottom line is that it's becoming increasingly difficult for working Americans to move up in class. The rich are freezing nearly everybody else in place, and sprinting off with the nation's bounty.

Economic mobility in the United States - the extent to which individuals and families move from one social class to another - is no higher than in Britain or France, and lower than in some Scandinavian countries. Maybe we should be studying the Scandinavian dream.

As far as the Bush administration is concerned, the gap between the rich and the rest of us is not growing fast enough. An analysis by The Times showed the following:

"Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes - a minimum of $87 million in 2000, the last year for which the government will release such data - now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to $75,000. Those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000."

June 05, 2005

Too close to home quote of the day

"[The United States was] still in the intellectual thrall of the megalomaniacal and self-righteous clergyman-president who gave to the American nation the blasphemous conviction that it, like he himself, had been created by God 'to show the way to the nations of the world how they shall walk in the paths of liberty.'" -international-relations critic William Pfaff on WWI Wilsonian politics

June 04, 2005

Jar Jar Bush

Despite the fact that I've always been more of a Trekkie, and the movie was a flop:

(Thanks to David for this one.)

Wonder if any of the fans are political enough to strike back (yea yea, pun intended) for the misappropriation of "Star Wars" to describe weaponizing space? Or better yet, did Lucas sell the rights? His politics are pretty apparent:

"I'm more on the liberal side of things," he says...Lucas' own geopolitics can sound pretty bleak: "All democracies turn into dictatorships—but not by coup. The people give their democracy to a dictator, whether it's Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. Ultimately, the general population goes along with the idea...One day Princess Leia and her friends woke up and said, 'This isn't the Republic anymore, it's the Empire. We are the bad guys. Well, we don't agree with this. This democracy is a sham, it's all wrong.'"

Return of the Sith's not so conspicuous political message is his own hyper-commercialized way of calling out the imperialists (though I'm afriad they'll never be as conscientious as Leia)...probably why it's so easy to draw parallels like this (like you've never seen it...posted on every TA's door in the humanities and social sciences building at UCSB for the last 2 years...Christ it's really been that long):

June 02, 2005

Roosevelt goes big time

The Times did a story on the Roosevelt Institution last week. Been following them for a while, did a story a while back and considered starting a branch of the think tank at UCSB before I got into the idea of starting a paper with Tizzie P instead. I met the guys from Stanford at the State Dems conference--they're very outgoing and ambitious, and as the article pointed out, "show no signs of an inferiority complex" (to say the least). Good to see that progressive students are getting national attention. While I agree with and enthusiastic about the premise of the Institution, that it act as a means to bring forth students' energy and untapped intellectual capital, I'm concerned that some students might get turned off by the perception of Ivy League elite leadership. It'll be especially important for Roosevelt to give public institutions a mouthpiece as they grow.