Thursday, May 27, 2004

Blogging the good fight . . .

Rock Against Bush . . . pUNk FucKIng RoCK!!!
Woah, man. I just purchased my very own copy of Rock Against Bush Vol. 1, a compilation by such punk luminaries as NoFX and such non-luminaries as Sum-41 with a DVD featuring bits and pieces from a couple of MoveOn.org movies and such . . . and I have got to say I'm glad to see that A. Punk is far from dead and B. Punk hasn't lost its original battle cry of FUCK THE GOVERNMENT.

But it's not just about flipping the goverment off these days, it is about DOING something. Getting the word out, getting people off their asses and getting stuff done. Meeting up, protesting, writing letters, making sure that everyone knows just how much they personally are being screwed by the administration.

One of the more striking bits on the DVD is a brief trailer for a longer documentary titled "No More Enrons."

For all that the war has done, for all that the economy has failed, for some reason the Enron thing really drives home to me what this administration has always been about. Screwing the little guy for big, fat, sweaty profits. Let's review:

1. Energy- electricity is necessary for modern life. Everyone needs it for cooking, heat, light, blah blah blah. People need electricity.

2. Retirement- People work their whole lives saving enough for their last couple of decades so they can really live it up. Buy cruise tickets, RVs- and these days, Harleys. People expect to have their retirment kept safe by their bosses, their CFOs, the private companies that are contracted to keep their money.

3. Connections- Bush was an energy man before he was sort of elected. The largest contributor to his sort-of election was Enron. They had a vested interest in having him as president. Not because he was the best man for the job, not because they agreed with his born-again Christian values, not because they thought he could make the world a better place. But becaue he could help them get around regulations in the energy industry.

4. Greed. While Enron was raking it in from utilities customers (that is, everyone with a house) they paid less in taxes than I spend on shoes. They paid less in taxes than the employees who were minding their 401Ks and sat smiling at meetings where Ken Lay said Enron could look forward to many more successful years. They placed millions in off-shore tax shelters while they laid of employees with a 2-hour notice.

These four elements of the story are the most troublesome when put together. Greed and connections placed millions of Californians in the dark while rolling black outs saved Enron millions of dollars. Greed and connections put hundreds of Enron employees out of work and out their retirement funds, some only a handful of years before they planned on retirement. Greed and connections got Mr. Bush elected despite the fact that more people voted against him, because of the fact that thousands of voters were "marked" as felons by Katherine Harris (on the board of directors for the Bush for President campaign, and also the Secretary of State- talk about your conflict of interest) and the fact that people were ticketed for "loitering" while waiting in line for the polls . . . Greed and connections bought the election and I'm scared to death that it's going to happen again. Because greed and connections trump the will of the people.

Here's why people voted for Bush in the first place:
-He gave them $600
-He had no disclosed record of sexual misconduct
-They didn't like Gore

But that doesn't really matter. All those things have no real bearing because even the people that did vote for Bush don't really matter to him. He has no regard for the American people, not his supporters and especially not his detractors. The expensive ads are a smokescreen and aren't directed at gaining voters for Bush but at taking voters from Kerry. They are just a way to burn some of the money he's getting from the vast pockets of his corporate sponsors.

My prediction is that he will not get the popular vote. He didn't get it last time and he's not gonna get it this time. But as we've seen, the popular vote means little. My hope is that he won't find a way to sleaze himself into a second term. My hope is that the popular vote will be undeniably against Bush. My hope is that the system will somehow redeem itself. This is my hope . . . but as time goes on, hope seems to hold the same diminishing value as a single vote.

Monday, May 24, 2004

The New York Times > Arts > Frank Rich: Michael Moore's Candid Camera

The New York Times > Arts > Frank Rich: Michael Moore's Candid Camera
"Speaking of America's volunteer army, Mr. Moore concludes: 'They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is, remarkably, their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?'"
True, Michael Moore is polemicist. True, he is often a big blabbermouthed slob who offers an easy target to people like Ann Coulter. But only big blabbermouthed slobs with gobs of talent and an empassioned drive to seek truth can win the Palme d'Or. So congratulations, Mikey. Here's hoping I can catch Fahrenheit 9/11 at the local AMC 21 soon . . . or at the very least, at the Boulder Theatre.
Before, Moore was just pissed. It doesn't take more than a viewing of the Dick Clark scene from Bowling for Columbine to see that. But now, he's angry and sad and frustrated and frightened and embarrassed like so many of the rest of us. Fahrenheit 9/11 is not an exploration of issues in our American culture, nor of a collection of cultural contradictions leading to violence and fear, not like Bowling for Columbine . . . the film exposes the truth that a madman is at the helm of the most militarized nation in the world.
My concerns, however, lie with the fact that the movie will never be seen by the people who need to see it the most. Moore's name is like kryptonite to moderates and conservatives alike. Moore's main problem is that since Roger and Me, he's been preaching . . . or rather, yelling, Sam-Kennison-style, to the choir.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Yahoo! News Full Coverage - U.S. - Report: Rumsfeld OK'd Program Encouraging Physical Coercion

Yahoo! News Full Coverage - U.S. - Report: Rumsfeld OK'd Program Encouraging Physical Coercion

Geneva convention what? Sounds like something those pansies over in Old Europe devised to keep us Americans from rightfully exercising our rights to crush nations of brown people under our bootheels. I've got a better idea. Since we've already effectively removed ourselves from the U.N., trampled on international laws of engagement, and sparked a preemptive war a la minority report, it's clear that the US only operates by one set of rules: the ones we make the hell up.

I am having another one of those moments where I'm just overwhelmed by my own distress at the world's direction. At first, it was just irritating that the administration had decided to denegrate the integrity of such institutions as the UN, such notions as diplomacy, such concepts as dialogue and multilateralism. Now it's frightening. Now we're saying that we can physically, mentally and sexually abuse people if it is to our advantage. Now there's no limit to how bad this can get.

The Geneva convention was established for a reason- as the world became more barbaric, nations stood up and said there were certain rules that we should abide by, even in our most chaotic circumstances. These nations took the high road, they saw that there was a better way to conduct themselves, even in war. They saw that there was an empirical idea of humanity that deserved preservation.

And now, in a time when we are supposed to be more civilized than ever, in a time when we are supposed to be working toward democracy and freedom for all, decisions such as Rumsfelds are made that completely undermine everything the Geneva convention stood for. And in my mind, everything that America is supposed to stand for.

But these are two different Americas-
The America of theory is one in which we are all created equal, where we can all acheive our dreams with enough perserverance and hard work. The America of theory is one that offers freedom and refuge to those who are willing to work for it. The America of theory is the benevolent world superpower, supporting the sick and dying of other nations as it does its own.

The America of reality "liberates" nations by deploying troops and corporations to obliterate and infect and dominate. It has turned its back on those seeking shelter and safety within its borders. It has forsaken ties with the world in order to exist as a globalizing corporate juggernaut. It has ignored the basic principals of human conduct in favor of inflicting terror in its own right.

As Moby once said, everything is wrong.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Ladies and gentlemen of the press . . .

party hearty!
I learned this weekend that my colleagues are a rowdy, hard-drinking bunch. But they're also a lot of fun.
The Boulder Bars, where we did the traditional "crawl" had previously been unknown to me, and I have to say I do not regret that. They're really nothings special, though the smoke-freeness is kinda nice.
I met a nice guy named Jonah who gave me his number- he's the EA for Colorado Hometown Newspapers- a little conglomeration of small-down weeklies over in East Boulder County. I've never been the one to *get* the phone number, though, so how things will progress from here remain unknown.
Val is having a big-time drama day today where she's making sure EVERYONE knows she's upset about something but she's being sure to NOT let anyone know what that something is. And while some people here have taken the initiative to ask, I'm not playing her game. She's sitting over at her computer, speaking in conspiratorial tones, opening her emails and doing those breathy, Christian expletives like "Oh JEEZ, OH my gosh, HOLY cow," just BEGGING me to say "what's wrong, Val?"
But I haven't. I don't really want to know, and I don't really care. Maybe she'll quit?
I told her about Jonah, though . . . maybe know she'll finally but out of my personal life.
She should be back from lunch now . . . I am starving.

I sent along the Kurt Vonnegut piece from In These Times to a few friends of mine- a little something called "Cold Turkey," and got some interesting responses. My Uncle Chris suggested that Kurt owes an apology to chimpanzees everywhere, while my friend Liz said she felt like inflicting repetitive head trauma on herself in frustration.

Ah, these times.

It's official

More than Half Disapprove of GW Bush's Job Performance

52 percent . . . Considering Mr. Bush "won" on less than a majority vote, things are not looking good for our favorite Simian in Chief.

In losing millions of jobs, maybe he'll finally lose his own.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Latter Days

Latter Days: Mormonism in West Hollywood
Ha. I wonder what Val would have to say about this?

April showers bring May showers.

Snow, too.

Grr . . . the religion reporter here has taken it upon himself to publish another of those "we're doing so freakin' great in Iraq, but the mainstream media is a bunch of pinko commie lefty bastards and won't show the world" articles featuring one persons opinion who happens to be in Iraq. You know, the kind you get from your righty freak uncle with some smug subject line like "You won't see this on CNN."

I personally don't see how "doing good" in Iraq balances out the torture, rape and humiliation of some of the prisoners in U.S. custody. It does not balance out to say, we have immunized 40 thousand children, and sodomized twenty prisoners. We're doing good in Iraq!

There is a failure here to see that despite the "good" being done, (and good is a bit relative, because a large component of what is being done in Iraq is westernization, which is not necessarily the godsend most Americans imagine it to be) despite the "good" being done by American forces worldwide, terrorism is always going to come from the extremist reaction to the "bad." Kinda like how no matter how the Arab world contributes to the greater global good, many Americans will always consider them backwards, violent zealots. One bad apple, as they say . . . It's human nature to focus on the negative, especially when you dont *want* to like something or someone. Try to remember the last compliment you received. Now try to remember the last insult. It's always easier to remember why you were angry than why you were content.

This is why there was no vocalized gratitude from Iraq. Peace and democracy are still far off, untested and very shaky for them. They are not ingrateful, they are just (very rightfully) skeptical. And the rage comes so much easier, and is so much more frightening. Hence, atrocities by U.S. troops=beheading of Nick Berg. These are people who are used to being angry at the West. And as horrifying and unfortunate as the Nick Berg thing is, I have to say I will be very surprised if that is the last (or only) action the Extremists will take in response to the prisoner abuse.

So no matter how much fresh water the Iraqis have, no matter how many schools are opened, no matter how much better the economy becomes, there will be groups that resent the U.S. occupation and will remember the prisoner abuse footage like so many Texans remember the Alamo. Bush keeps talking about how the U.S. occupation of Iraq was an opportunity to change the world, to eliminate terror cells, to secure that area of the world. What he doesn't understand is that no matter how much "help" the west gives these people, there will always be people who don't want our help. To the degree that our help only incites more rage. The prisoner abuse certainly doesn't help matters.

Any war that imposes western capitalism on people who are willing to die in an attempt to destroy western capitalism is fundamentally flawed. Rather than destroying terrorism, it only adds more of an impetus to the extremists who commit it.

I would have this kind of sentance at random:

1. Go into your LJ's archives.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions

"It’s this desert island between adulthood and adolescence, but really too far from either to be considered one or the other."

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I always kinda figured I was Ted

Ted Allen
You are so a TED Allen: The Food and Wine
Connoisseur, Go work in that kitchen, boo ya!


What Fab 5 member from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy are you?(with pics)
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Raw Story | Military papers call for Rumsfeld's ouster

The Raw Story | Military papers call for Rumsfeld's ouster
Wow. Those lefties over at the Army, Navy and Marine Times are asking for Rummy to leave? How typical of them to side with the vast liberal conspiracy.

The thing that creeps me out the most here is that this is the type of thing that led people to turn against the troops in Viet Nam. Atrocities are one of those things, like employees not washing their hands before returing to work. People suspect that it happens, but when you actually see it happen, its a very visceral, base, biological response. I don't see public opinion going in Bush's favor after this.

It sickens me, of course, as it does many others- but I'm left wondering what causes people to think that this sort of behavior is justified- even in a war situation. I have a theory that it belongs to the same family of psychosis that causes people to act the way they to at CU recruiting parties. In either case, we have a class that is privileged- football players and the American Military have been afforded many of the same liberties based on much the same criteria. They are strong. They are placed in an environment where they can do whatever they want because they can use force to get what they want. They are not reprimanded for behavior that others would consider atrocious.

It is not a gender issue- women can be twice as evil given the chance . . . or given a fighting dog on a leash, as we saw with the latest round of photos and video. It is an issue of privilege and of superiors turning a blind eye. It is an issue of being given power outside the rules of normal society.

The Fight Club fan in me says this kind of thing is just under the surface of every person. It's why we buy Grand Theft Auto and cheer for Neo when he's beating the living daylights out of Agent Smith. But a good society is measured by how much of this kind of thing happens. A good society is measured by its restraint in situations like this. It is not just a matter of humiliation of these prisoners. It is rape. It is, in some cases, murder. The rape and murder of a group of people who, in decades, have not waged a peacetime attack against any American civilians. What do they think justifies this behavior? The fact that they are Iraqi?

In some ways, it is just so appropriate for this administration to try and gloss over these kinds of incidents. This is such a belligerent, boys-will-be-boys, don't-look-at-my-drug-record, my-god's-better-than-your-god group of smug, privileged white guys that it doesn't seem to be too much of a stretch to imagine that yes, they do think this behavior is justified by the fact that the victims are Iraqi. It's the classic rapist mentality. They were asking for it. I can just see Rumsfeld and Bush thinking, "they'll forgive us. We're America."

Monday, May 10, 2004

It's a fabulous funny blog out!

Heath Ledger + Orlando Bloom
Aw yeah. Focus Films knows how to treat a lady.

So it's 5:46 on a May afternoon and it's definitely raining. Hard. And I rode my bike to work.

Oh, no, it's hailing, now. Great.

Trevor said he'd give me a ride home but his Jeep has had its top down all afternoon. So sounds like I'm getting wet somehow.

WTF? I thought we were having a drought!

Looks like I'll be heading up to Ioway this Memorial Day to remember our fallen heroes by helping my sistah move. It'll be nice to have a bit of a vacation. I'm going to try and get The Car fixed in time so I'll have nothing to think about while I'm there. That will be nice.

It's going to be hell talking myself into working out tonight, that's for damn sure. I'll try and entice myself with the prospect of watching CNN for free . . . no, that's not helping. I always forget my contacts and I'm pedaling away squinting to see the closed captioning on Lou Dobbs.

The rain seems to have slowed a bit . . . ten minutes to go. This is Colorado, so the chances that it will quit in a few seconds are relatively good.

I'm off my Saab kick now. People all over are saying they are a huge money pit. This is very troubling. Now I'm hoping for an Acura Integra- a little more oomph and a 9.1 Edmunds reliability rating. And an Acura isn't quite the econobox that a Honda is.

I've nothing against Hondas, really, I just don't want one. Volkswagen may directly translate to "People's Car," but now that Volkswagens are manufactured in Mexico and marked up to pay for slick TV ad campaigns, it's clear to me that Civics are truly the car of the people. Everyone has had one. We had the little 1990 box wagon for ages. I'm just in the market for something a bit more distinctive.

A bald guy twice my age flirted mercilessly with me while I filled his photo reprint order. That was kinda funny. He said I had a beautiful name. I had to laugh.

Well, this is seriously lacking in continuity or content. But it's Monday. And I'm tired. And it's time to go.

Until next time . . .

Friday, May 07, 2004

The Church of Jesus Blog of Latter Day Saints

The Mormon Cult Conspiracy
Crazy stuff, man.

I was trying to find out some information regarding Mormonism and Psychosomatic illness. Here's why.
Val's Ailments:
-Ruptured discs (2)
-Endometriosis
-Osteoporosis
-Multiple Sclerosis
-Asthma
-Scoliosis
-Arthritis
-Deviated Septum
-Apnaea
-Excema
-Diminished appetite (due to a bout with anorexia as a teenager. Although she sure doesn't look anorexic now)

These are the ones I know. But I think the hypochondria may be a separate phenomena from the Mormonism. I think some people just don't want to be happy.

Christianity, though, does teach that suffering is the path to righteousness, and that if you're happy, you clearly aren't doing something right. So that may be the base reason for it all. All I know is that if I'm sick, I'll deny it to the end. I could be hacking up pieces of lung and try to pass it off as a head cold. I try to avoid pity parties whenever I can- much less make up reasons to be pitied.

I am still reeling about the FDA's decision to strike down over-the-counter use for the Plan B pill. Their reasoning is easily one of the most sexist, idiotic attacks on women's health I've ever encountered. The official reasoning is that teen girls will not take the pills properly without a physician's help. The political reasoning is that girls that are already having sex would have MORE sex given the chance to get Plan B over the counter.

There's something very wrong here. Teenage girls are perfectly capable of taking two pills. It's not difficult. And most young women know that a morning-after pill is a last resort- costing upwards of $50 bucks a throw, it's not something that most girls can afford to purchase every weekend or so. These assumptions are being made by people who simply haven't taken any time to understand female sexuality, or women in general, at all.

I told Lizzie today that it seems the religious right may have given some high-level financial donations to some folks over at the FDA. Or that there's a vast conspiracy to continually limit the options young women have to keep themselves from getting pregnant. Hence, they will ave simultaneously a child to try to convert and a young woman to judge and villify. The pregnant teen is a favorite of the hardcore Christian. She's practically a folk hero.

I simply do not understand what anyone has to gain by narrowing the control that women have over their bodies. Why does it matter to a Christian what anybody does in their bedrooms, doctor's offices, backseats, or pharmacies? Christianity seems to be a to-each-their-own faith until it comes down to sex. Which, for a faith that promotes chastity, Christianity seems to be a wee bit obsessed with. But the question is, why should faith have any say in the legislation of health laws? Recently, a case came up where a woman was refused her own contraception by her pharmacist. This in an administration that claims to free the nations of the Middle East from the ties of theological tyranny.

I wish there were a better expression to fit this current state of affairs . . . I'm sure there is one, but I'm at a loss . . . the best I can come up with right now, is simply, succinctly: this is some fucked-up shit.



Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Just So You Know

Just So Y'all Know
Weird. I've tried to post this one several times today and it hasn't worked.
Ah well. My hair is no longer green. Yay. Bad news: a madman is running the nation with a group of criminals and bazillionaires.

What bugs me the most is that Mr. Bush has taken the most vacation time of any other president. He doesn't seem to understand that being president of the U.S. is not like being president of a company. You do not sweep in and out of the office, make sure all is well, then go hit the links for the rest of the day. It's a bit more involved than that.

Thing is, if any supervisor had an employee that acted like President Bush, he'd be fired in a heartbeat. He's a slacker, a liar and doesn't face the people he needs to answer to (the people) nearly often enough. Three press conferences. And most of them are scripted.

The U.S. needs to wake up and realize that we owe him nothing- just because he is our president, doesn't mean he deserves special concessions. He owes US the best he can do. And when he's jetting off to Crawford for brush-clearing photo ops, he's not doing his job.

In the words of Donald Trump, (who, I've heard, works from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m. on a fairly regular basis) He's Fired©.

Hey, there's an idea. Trump for president?

Always blog prices . . . Always

Always Low Prices--Always.

I figured it was just a matter of time before the blogosphere took a stab at Wal Mart. I'm sure it's been done before these guys, but they do it very, very well.

My friend Grazaiman (hehe. save time, make it one word) told me she thinks Wal Mart represents everything that's wrong with America. I have to agree- it exploits the disenfranchised, offers cheaply made goods at the expense of the well-being of other societies, it destroys small businesses, it promotes mindless, capitalistic, Christian fundamentalism, it censors art and music and markets all of these evils in a big red, white and blue wrapper. See, see . . . if you DON'T shop at Wal Mart, that makes you ANTI-AMERICAN.

I shop at Target and have no problem with the communistic connotations of that fact.

The main issue I have with Wal Mart, however, is hardly political. It's out-and-out, openly elitist- Wal Mart stuff looks like crap, feels like crap . . . hey, whaddaya know? It is crap. And the people that shop at Wal Mart don't care how cheap they look. They are bulk people, for the most part (no, the poor of America do not HAVE to shop at Wal Mart, they are only convinced that they do. Kmart, Target, Shopko, thrift stores, etc etc are really no less of a deal, it's just that you can't buy your hunting gear and bras under the same roof when you go to your neighborhood Salvation Army. The bottom line is another of my pet peeves with the U.S. of A- sheer, unapologetic laziness.) who don't shop at Wal Mart so much because they can't afford to go elsewhere, but because they can get MORE. Why buy one pair of unflattering ring-spun jeans at Target when you can buy TWO for the same price at Wal Mart? And then there's the issue presented in the last post at ALPA . . . the complete change a Wal Mart imposes on a neighborhood.

The proposed Wal Mart in a Chicago neighborhood would reduce crime, they say. Right. There are more police calls to the Wal Mart parking lot in Longmont than to most poorly-staffed 7-Elevens, I'm sure. The kinds of people that gather near a Wal Mart to hang out in rural or sub-rural (like Longmont) areas aren't the future Rotarians of America. And in the projects in Chicago, I imagine little would be different. The notion that a Wal Mart could do anything to reduce crime (other than redistribute it- maybe people would be too busy shoplifting to start a knife fight). Bleh, I say to you, Wal Mart! Even if there is less crime AT the Wal Mart, ask any resident of any small town in any midwestern state. The boarded-up buildings that once housed local businesses are hardly the safest places in town.

So- you wanna know what's cold? Going down 287 on a motorcycle at 11 p.m. when the weather's soured. That's cold.

I finally caved and let Val's son take me to a movie. It wasn't bad. We'll see. It will be good for me to do something that I don't have to take seriously. When you write about dead people all day, it's nice to get out.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Lather, blog, repeat

Hoo boy. I've had some hair disasters: baby bangs, wispy bangs (pretty much anything in the bangs family), overdyed, sponge rollered, etc. But this takes the cake.
It's green. Not like, Oompa Loompa green, but there's definitely a St.Patty's day hue to it. I'm never, ever, henna-ing at home again.
People at work say they don't notice (whew!) but it doesn't really look like a color that hair should be. Luckily, Megan's coming to my rescue tonight. I hope we'll be able to make it look at least normal again.