Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

Very good post from Mr. Barlow echoing a fear he voiced just earlier this year that the Bush administration would try to postpone the upcoming elections due to “terrorist actions”:

BarlowFriendz: Postponing Democracy

My friends had some funny comments on the possibility as well:

– oh good, Bush is looking for a way to postpone the Nov election…
– just tell me, after postponing an election in such a way, how does
+the gov’t decide when the people are ready to vote again?
– knowing bush, it will be when the war on terrorism is over

Boredcast Message from soda!*** (ttyDW) at 15:44 …

if we have the election in november, the terrorists will have won

Boredcast Message from soda!*** (ttyFk) at 15:54 …

“terrorists are planning a major attack on the coasts on election day. only
people in the south and midwest should leave their homes and vote”

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I came across this article today linked through Joi’s blog and I was immediately filled with rage:

Published on June 16 in the Federal Register, the censorious new CDC guidelines will be mandatory for any organization that does HIV-prevention work and also receives federal funds — whether or not any federal money is directly spent on their programs designed to fight the spread of the epidemic. (The CDC is the principal federal funder of prevention education about HIV and AIDS, and its head is a Bush appointee).

These new regs require the censoring of any “content” — including “pamphlets, brochures, fliers, curricula,” “audiovisual materials” and “pictorials (for example, posters and similar educational materials using photographs, slides, drawings or paintings),” as well as “advertising” and Web-based info. They require all such “content” to eliminate anything even vaguely “sexually suggestive” or “obscene” — like teaching how to use a condom correctly by putting it on a dildo, or even a cucumber.

And they demand that all such materials include information on the “lack of effectiveness of condom use” in preventing the spread of HIV and other STDs — in other words, the Bush administration wants AIDS fighters to tell people: Condoms don’t work. This demented exigency flies in the face of every competent medical body’s judgment that, in the absence of an HIV-preventing vaccine, the condom is the single most effective tool available to protect someone from getting or spreading the AIDS virus.

Always wanting to see both sides of the coin before trying to spend it I searched Google News and found a matching article from the regularly conservative Washington Times:

Proposed changes to the guidelines for giving federal money to AIDS-prevention programs would require approval of educational materials before they are posted on the Internet.

The revisions, issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also would increase accountability for AIDS-prevention grant recipients and ensure their compliance with a federal law requiring education materials to “contain medically accurate information” about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

(I’ll come back to that last bit about condoms in a moment)

It appears that the right is saying these restrictions are necessary so that “the CDC demanded more accountability from HIV prevention groups receiving taxpayer dollars”. In particular, they site the San Francisco’s Stop AIDS Project and other groups for having sexually explicit workshops. The funny thing though is that “Stop AIDS Project lost its CDC funding last month”, so these regulations do nothing in that case!!!

(I’d like to put a few of these people through explicit workshops to sit with AIDS victims and their families and see how disturbing they think that is)

What really worries me is the sledge-hammer approach to this policy where a group can have all of it’s federal funding pulled for offering any AIDS-prevention programs, even if those programs are funded through completely different sources. This is very similar to one of Bush’s earliest executive orders that pulled federal funding from any family planning organization that even mentioned abortion.

But back to the condoms. For a while several of my friends have been noticing an interesting trend coming from the Bush administration that is very similar to double-think. For example, statements like “the occupation of Iraq will end on June 30th, the troops will remain indefinitely” seem a little oxy-moronic (more-so if you recall that they specifically said this wasn’t an occupation at the beginning of the war).

What really worries me about this new policy is the mandate for all materials to include information on the “lack of effectiveness of condom use” (this is about the only quote that the two articles have in common). To be sure, abstinence is truly the only way to completely avoid transmission, BUT IT IS A COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC APPROACH. Barring abstinence, condoms and other barrier devices are the single most effective way to prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted HIV…but since “condom education encourages promiscuity,” the Bush administration wants their use and effectiveness to be put in to question by the people who this information can help the most!


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MoveOn.org: Democracy in Action

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ob.blog on DRM

Chris has posted a good article on DRM. Instead of pontificating about it on my own I’m just going to point you to it…please go read: ob.blog: DRM and you: this is important

Practically-speaking DRM is a concerted, aggressive attempt to prevent you from watching and listening to all the media you’ve rightfully purchased in the manner you want to enjoy it. In other words: no matter how much you pay for that DVD, DRM ensures that the media companies own it anyway and you’re just renting it. Its a concerted, aggressive attempt to steal your property from you.

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billmon has some very good things to say about the Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 commissions recently reported findings (2+2=5) and the State Departments two-sided advice to foreigners working in Saudi Arabia (Watch what we say, not what we do).

I am exceedingly disturbed that anyone in this country can continue to support BushCo these days, for any reason what-so-ever.

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Bush election campaign ran from Noida call centre : HindustanTimes.com

The political split in the US over outsourcing notwithstanding, till very recently the fund-raising and vote-seeking campaign for the Republican Party was done partly out of India. And this was handled by two call centres located in our own friendly neighbourhood in Noida and Gurgaon.

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It seems kinda obvious now why the White House went through the trouble of saying that Bush “called Rumsfeld to express his displeasure”. They’re gonna build this one up so big that they can take out a few high-placed people and try to draw attention away from THE MASSIVE FUCKING LIES that bush has been telling us.

Sorry, I’m slow, I didn’t sleep last night.

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Dear Ralph

How much is the RNC paying you?

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Ever since I read Laurie Garrett’s personal letter posted around the net almost a year ago following the World Economic Forum, I’ve been intrigued by Davos and what goes on there every year. This year I was following the posts of Joi Ito, who attended as a panelist on Davos’s first ever forum on blogs. Yes, really, one of the biggest economic/business events in the world had a discussion of blogs this year (Joi didn’t seem to be as bowled over as I was).

I followed a link to a site I know I’ve seen in the past, but for some reason haven’t been tracking lately. I will now though. This entry on Whiskey Bar has a lot of great commentary on Davos, the state of the world, and blogs as well:

One guy from Business Week was particularly outraged about the whole thing. He waxed eloquent about the importance of the news “filter” (in my day we called it the gatekeeper function) as mankind’s last best defense against the barbarian hordes. I felt like I was listening to a buggy whip manufacturer, circa 1910, talking about the growing threat of the automobile.

Actually, there was a time when I probably would have agreed with the guy — back when I was on his side of the fence and thought journalists played a valuable watchdog role. But after watching the steady deterioration of the profession over the past ten years or so, I have no patience for such self-serving crap. Yeah, there’s a lot of misinformation and just plain nonsense on the web, but a mass media that gives us Bill O’Reilly and Michael Savage on a regular basis, and that devotes more coverage to Michael Jackson’s legal problems than the Iraq War, isn’t in a position to lecture anyone about standards. The truth is that the blogs are getting better and better, and the mass media is getting worse and worse. If the credibility lines haven’t crossed yet they soon will.

I particularly enjoyed some of his more random comments, especially about Thomas Friedman:

Seeing Tom Friedman at Davos this year was to see the Peter Principle in its late stages — when the inadequacy and egotistical overreaching have become obvious to all but the victim. Even several people I know who generally share his world view told me they found his strutting pomposity almost unbearable this year.

I’ve been reading The Lexus and the Olive Tree quite voraciously lately even though I nearly threw it away after the first chapter since it was nothing more than pithy observations of old-world-versus-new without a shred of analysis or real data. OK, so the rest of the book is pretty much the same, but as I come from an engineering background the pre-school like introduction to world economic forces is rather interesting to me right now.

Net-net, keep an eye out for what happens at Davos, read billmon, and borrow Freidman’s book from a friend.

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Energy Bill Boondoggle

I’ve been pretty busy lately, so I haven’t kept up with current events as much as I normally like to. Something came across the bow recently is already too late to stop. The massive pork barrel energy bill architected by Vice President Cheney and his energy-industry compatriots has already passed in the House “with ease”, and it looks like the Senate will give it the OK before Thanksgiving.

Frustration set in for me tonight when a friend pointed me at an excellent article by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (yes, that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., he’s been fighting for the environment for quite some time now). It’s a comprehensive story; I was amazed that Rolling Stone would publish something so long, but then I remembered that their pages are really damn big. It talks to many points of Bush’s oxymoronic environmental policy, and details their all out war on any regulation which keeps our air clean. A point which hit particularly close to home:

As if to prove that point, Republicans simultaneously eliminated the tax credit that had encouraged Americans to buy gas-saving hybrid cars, [kind of an odd move for an administration so enamored with tax cuts] and weakened efficiency standards for everything from air conditioners to automobiles. They also created an obscene $100,000 tax break for Hummers and the thirty-eight biggest gas guzzlers. Then, adding insult to injury, the Energy Department robbed $135,615 from the anemic solar, renewables and energy-conservation budget to produce 10,000 copies of the White House’s energy plan.

UPDATE: I’ve been challenged on the elimination of the tax credit, and can’t find anything to back that up. There is actually a tax credit for hybrid vehicles in the new energy bill (proposed by Dick Cheney). I guess a stopped clock really is right twice a day.

But really this isn’t what got me frustrated. I started to delve into the new energy bill a bit more. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to review all 1400 pages of text; and it appears that neither did House Democrats. Apparently this bill has been debated by all-Republican committees for the past several months and then released in it’s entirety to the rest of the House with only 48 hours before the vote (the only faster bill passing of this size was the PATRIOT act, and we all know how well that worked out). At a time when our country is running massive deficits, basic social services are being cut left and right, and we’ve embroiled ourselves in an international conflict which is going to take several years and TRILLIONS of dollars to extricate from, how can we afford to pass off massive subsidies to the already well-to-do energy sector. (From the Economist article):

This is a ghastly bill, which, by the calculations of Aileen Roder of Taxpayers for Common Sense, could cost taxpayers $96 billion over the next decade.

The tax breaks for industry form the bulk of the package: $13 billion for the oil and gas industry; $5.4 billion for coal; $4.2 billion for producers of the corn-based fuel ethanol; and $1.4 billion for nuclear power.

Back to the Kennedy article and issues close to home:

After one meeting with Enron CEO Kenneth Lay, Cheney dismissed California Gov. Gray Davis’ request to cap the state’s energy prices. That denial would enrich Enron and nearly bankrupt California. It has since emerged that the state’s energy crisis was largely engineered by Enron. According to the New York Times, the task-force staff circulated a memo that suggested “utilizing” the crisis to justify expanded oil and gas drilling. President Bush and others would cite the California crisis to call for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Tax cuts for the energy companies here at home, massive overcharging to the taxpayers by energy companies in Iraq. HOW IS THIS A GOOD IDEA?!?

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