Thursday, September 30, 2004

Puttin' the Bag on Krako

Been reading this:
I find myself wondering, how can I be a hard-hearted liberal?

I've been reading so much about hostages in Iraq, and I don't get it. How can anyone possibly think that you can get ransom money out of a government? And, based on this article, can you?!

Italy may have paid a million dollars to free two people. I have no idea what part of the budget that comes from. The Philippines withdrew they're 51 troops from Iraq in order to free one man, but hey, they've only got a population of 76 million or so, they can't afford to lose any or the balance on the islands goes awry and they're all winding up in the drink.

So here's my take on it: I'm the U.S. government. I'm involved in a war. Some non-military terrorist group abducts a few of my civilian citizens that are working over in the dangerous war zone. They want anything, doesn't matter what. I can't do it. Not at all, not for anyone. Not for a "regular" guy, not for the President himself. If I give in, then kidnapping proves to be an "effective weapon". Not giving in can disarm this weapon.

I understand that kidnapping goes on all the freakin' time in Mexico City, and that it's just expected that people will pay the ransom and get their loved one back. It's more or less an acknowledged profession, "Kidnapper". But that's not where these people are. We have no established practice of "give in, get what was yours in the first place". We have no guarantee that paying the ransom, or acquiescing to the demands will result in the hostages actually being freed. It stands to reason that I - if I'm now a kidnapper instead of the U.S. Government for a moment, here - would not want to free my captives, what with there being the possibility of them ever identifying me. Plus, I hate the foreigners, and want to make them suffer. I shoot the hostages and take off with whatever it was that I demanded.

This is why, I (being myself again, and not a hypothetical abstract or criminal), the peace-loving, murder-hating, every-life-is-sacred-spouter, actually support the way our government is handling the situation. Criminals cannot be rewarded. Kidnappers cannot be shown that their methods will work. We can't give in. I know it's hard for the families. I know it seems cruel, but it's hard for everyone, and it's the only thing that makes sense.

Now, can we make it so that people don't want to kill each other in the first place?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Apple A Day Plan



Small businesses will have a new option to buy the same health plan available to members of Congress. John Kerry will allow small businesses to buy into the same group health plan as Members of Congress. This will allow small businesses to get better prices available to big groups. It will also reduce their administrative costs, as they won’t have to shop for or administrate their plan.

Wacky! I mean, really unexpected! Use *government* to *help* people?

OK, my sarcastic-Democrat side is showing. Still, I think this is a really clear, really good idea. And I expect that it's the kind of thing that kills a campaign. People don't like radical new plans. They expect to hear complicated things that they don't understand, and that they know won't work in the end. This whole "let small businesses join the Congress' helth care plan", it sounds too simplistic, too good to be true. I wish I could read more details on it, really. More meat! About my health care plans!

I'm going on about this idea being a good one, but thinking about it, it wouldn't make one bit of difference to me. I work for a BIG company. We have a BIG health care plan. And yet, this year, my prescription drugs, which were previously $5.00 for 3 months worth, are now $50.00 for three months worth. There's an increase for you. And I'm getting bills for services that, according to my documents, are covered. And, most of all, I'm on my second appeal of a decision where my health care provider has denied coverage on the last three days of a six-day hospital stay in April.

So forget that part about me wanting more information about small businesses and their future options - give me the candidate who's going to make it illegal for HMOs to nay-say your doctors. It's pissing me off.

Wow! This has spun wildly out of control. And I posted it, anyway.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Sharpening My Teeth

A nation of philosophers?

This article by Steven Levy has a line that says:

We were promised a society of philosophers. But the Blogosphere is looking more and more like a nation of ankle-biters.
Really? I was supposed to be a philosopher? I thought I was just a woman with an exhibitionist tendency towards my opinions! Well, if it's true, and I'm a philosopher-cum-ankle-biter, I guess I'd better sharpen up my teeth, so I can be the best darned ankle-biter ever. In honor of this (which I read in my friend Jazz's blog, because I steal ruthlessly from him, having no original tendencies, either), I'm wearing my pajamas under my work clothes today.

I mean, if I'm going to aspire to political blog-dom, I'm going to do it right!

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Difference Between Assassination and Terrorism

I've been reading:

Found at

The assassination in Damascus is the best embodiment of the term terrorism... There must be a reaction at all levels so that Israel understands that it cannot get away easily with violating the sovereignty of Arab states.

Jordan's Al-Dustur

From The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Main Entry: ter·ror·ism
Pronunciation: 'ter-&r-"i-z&m
Function: noun
: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

Main Entry: as·sas·si·nate
Pronunciation: &-'sa-s&n-"At
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -nat·ed; -nat·ing
1 : to injure or destroy unexpectedly and treacherously
2 : to murder by sudden or secret attack usually for impersonal reasons

Hunh. I guess that they're pretty compatable, really, definition-wise. Thing is, I have a major bone to pick with that quote, up there, from the Al-Dustur. In my opinion, the "best" embodiment of the term terrorism is an oxymoron. I can't use positive terms to describe something so despicable. But if I must describe the "best" embodiment of terrorism, wouldn't it be something that was designed to strike terror into the hearts of many, many more people? I mean, come on, they just killed one guy! Knowing that the Israeli government was targeting leaders of militant groups that are trying to destroy Israel just wouldn't terrify me as much as the idea that an 18-year-old girl next to me in line at the airport might be willing to blow herself up in order to do as much damage as possible to a group of travelers who aren't involved. I'm more terrified by people who target random civilian groups. I am.

Here's another quote posted on the BBC's site:

Damascus will, as usual, probably avoid retaliating directly in the Golan Heights to this blow to its heart. The most efficient response would be to continue its "peace attack", which embarrasses Israel, and continue Syria's role in sponsoring the Palestinian dialogue.

Commentary by Hasan al-Batal in Palestinian Al-Ayyam

Peace Attack. This man is implying that Syria and it's citizens are not committing any violent acts, but rather are just representing themselves in negotiations and these things are being done by other people. And someone believes him. He doesn't sound terrorized. He sounds pompous.

Assassination is a terrible thing to resort to, but in my peace-loving mind, you know, the one that says that taking another life, *any* life, is a terrible sad thing, I'd rather see someone targeted who at least is asking for it. Being the a LEADER in the Hammas operation is knowing you're in danger. Buying fruit at the market is going about your normal life.

You want to know what my idea is of the best embodiment of the word terrorism? It's using young people, who have been so brainwashed that they think that taking a group of unrelated lives actually helps their cause, to commit acts of killing and destruction that should by rights be repulsive to even think about. That people line up to kill themselves like this sends a good dose of terror right down to the bottom of my stomach.

I feel strongly about the peace in the Middle East issue. I spent 7 months of my life in Israel in college, and being there changes you. I had my bag searched at every door. I waited, sometimes for hours, for public transportation to start up again because a package had been found in the street and the bomb squad had to come get it. I saw soldiers running, guns poised, in order to go defend other soldiers at a grenade attack at the Western Wall. Well, I saw it for a few seconds. I quickly got in a cab going the other direction.

These experiences made me angry, and possessive of a country that I don't even live in. I started to see how nothing could be solved without violence. Then, I started to see how nothing could be solved with violence, either. I don't support the violent move that the Israelis may have made - they don't outright admit it last time I checked, but you'd have to be an idiot to think they didn't do it - but I can't condemn it, either. They targeted someone who was both feet in the fight, and took him out. Some random insurance salesman trying to get to a meeting in another part of the country was never involved. To me, that's a lot less terrifying.

My Friends Probably Aren't Reading This

I got another letter about the original appointment of Dr. Hager today. No one listens! No one!

Friday, September 24, 2004

I guess I'm wrong...

OK, so last night I was watching The Daily Show (not last night's episode, though, one from last week that I'd recorded and hadn't gotten to yet), and Jon Stewart KILLED! He was so excellent. And concise, and interesting. This morning, I'm listening to the radio, and Minnie Driver's doing an interview, and who does she quote when the subject of politics comes up? Jon Stewart.

I take it back, Jon, you are the political pundit voice of our generation. I can tell you don't want to take credit for it, but there it is.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Being female inspires me to post a second time in one day

You know, as I was reading the Bush speech to the UN, I found myself continually wondering, "Who *wrote* this stuff this way? Who's the one who thinks that it's a great idea to pull on as many heart strings as you can, as hard as possible? Why are Women and Children mentioned so many times that I'm starting to believe that no one ever oppresses or brutalizes men?"

This article suggests a pretty good answer to those questions. Hmm.

Stealing from my friends, random fluff

Jazz has a quote of the day up from the Jon Stewart interview in Time Magazine.

This has inspired me to do a little reading and discover that Jon's original last name was Leibowitz. How come I didn't already know that?

You know, I think that Jon's a really cool comedian and all, but why are people taking him seriously as a political commentator? Do they think he writes all that stuff alone? I watch his show (but never yet while intoxicated!), I love his show, and I get a little confused every time my friend Zoe says that Jon just wasn't all that funny in high school. I believe her, though, high school is not often the time when someone's confidence solidifies enough to become a real wit. You're still cooking, then.

Know what I'd really like? I'd like to have an extra room where I could decorate with a car sofa. That would be cool. Jon had a car seat for the guests on his original show, a zillion years ago. It was one of the things that hooked me in.

So, I was watching CNN last night, and there was a story about how both candidates are creatively choosing numbers in their speeches. For example, Bush says (in a statement correcting an earlier, bigger, lie) that there are 95,000 Iraqi troops ready to fight. Kerry has stated that this number is way off, that there are only 5,000. CNN had experts on that stated that there *are* currently only 6,300 trained Iraqi soldiers, but if you add in all the police officers and national guardsmen and stuff, that theres something like 93,000 of them total. (I looked briefly for the actual numbers, didn't quickly find them, am working from memory). So we see where each side is picking the facts that they like from. A second expert was involved, and he said, yes, there are close to 95,000 Iraqi "security personnel", but that a ridiculously small percentage of them were actually trained to fight, many of them do not report for duty or wear their uniforms, and the number of active troops is impossible to gauge accurately. So, really, both candidates are making stuff up.

Let me be the first (although I'm not actually a member of the media) to follow Jon Stewart's suggestion, and say to them both, "No! Bad Monkey".

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

After The Fact

This morning, I got an email regarding Dr. David Hager, and his reappointment to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. Actually, now that I'm looking at the letter closely, I see that this is the *original* chain letter, from 2002, and the fact that this man, the author of such great works as Jesus Cared for Women: Restoring Women Then and Now", has been recently re-appointed to this committee is merely coincidental. The sender had no idea that these events had already occurred. Not that the letter-writing campaign against them did any good, even when it was on time.

Time magazine ran an article about Dr. Hager when the subject of his nomination first came up. It was not, in my opinion, the most flattering article ever. If you click on the Amazon link I've provided above, you'll see that all the visible "reviews" of the book are unflattering, and that two of the entries aren't really reviews at all, but comments on this particular chain mail. A lot of people really seem to dislike this guy.

When I first received word of Hager's possible nomination, I joined a letter writing campaign against it. Before doing so, I read up on the man, I looked for every article I could find, including the ones that were pro-Hager. I researched, and I made up my own mind that this wasn't a person whose opinion was based on science and safety, but rather someone who let faith guide his decisions. That's fine on a personal level, but not a national one. So, I wrote a letter, for all the good it did. The man was appointed to the committee, proceeded to make all the kinds of statements and recommendations that I thought he would, and when his term was up, he was reinstated. What really burns my britches about that one was that it never crossed my radar. It happened, and was reported on by news agencies that I'm supposedly paying attention to, and I didn't notice. I'm pretty cheesed off that something like that gets past me so easily. But it did, and he's there, and good gravy, I hope you don't buy his book, because that would just send him money.

On to my next point: while this passed right over my head when it was happening, today I found out all about it, because I received a petition via email. What's the first thing I do when I get something like that? Well, if it's from someone whom I think might be the least bit flaky, I instantly delete it. Sorry folks, I know you really don't understand what you're doing. If, however, it's from someone I know and trust a bit, or even trust implicitly, I go out to Google and find out what I can about it. That's right, even when it's someone I trust. The Internet is notorious for its ability to create what I call "zombie causes". This is a cause that *was*, at one point, legitimate, but due to the eternal nature of the web, lives on despite its time being long over. Emails to that Brandeis address about Afghan women being mistreated? Probably still circulating. Dire warnings about underarm deodorant causing breast cancer? Out there every day. Warnings about Swiffer-brand (Swiffer® is a registered trademark of Procter & Gamble) cleaning supplies killing "my neighbor's dog"? I got one last week.


Do not sent out a mass email on a subject that you haven't done the least bit of checking on. Just because you're not some news agency that has to answer for this kind of mistake to the whole nation doesn't mean you shouldn't care enough to be responsible for the kind of information you spread. And, to spare you the repetition, I won't even consider commenting on the news agency thing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A Leg to Stand On

John Kerry's Speech at NYU

Finally, a speech with some actual points in it. I'm sure he's been making them all along, but me, here in my little bubble of isolated Taminess hasn't been hearing them. I did some more reading today, poked around the Kerry website some more. I have to say, I don't like reading the site, the style is too slick, too general. I understand that the site is an important marketing tool for the campaign, but it *feels* like they're not telling it to me straight. The speech I read (given at NYU) felt more like an explanation than a hard sell. It felt more like information than advertising.

As I was saying, I'm really glad to read this speech. It (for me) starts adressing not only what the current administration is doing wrong, but what an actual alternative plan might be. No, I can't say that every talking point here is stellar, or even likely, but I can say that they aren't immediately stupid. I particularly like the point about not awarding reconstructionist contracts to big American companies, especially ones that are under investigation. I applaud the fact that Kerry says that more Iraqi companies should be involved. I like these points.

The statement that Bush denied UN members who didn't send troops the ability to take part in the reconstruction sounds a tad bit petty to me. We're just talking about France. Denying France oil drilling rights to Iraq isn't that black and white. France was in bed with Iraq and was willing to sell them a nuclear reactor. Selling nuclear technology to a nation filled with people who seem eager to kill isn't my idea of a good thing. There was more going on there than just sour grapes. So while I think that getting other countries, and definitely Iraq itself, involved in the reconstructionist efforts is a great idea, I think the spin on it is a little too... childish? Simplistic? Not sure what the right word is, but this statement is not looking at all the ingredients.

I'm actually kind of glad that I see that kind of fault in the speech, because a perfect candidate would make me *really* nervous. As it stands now, Im' confident that a change in government would be a very good thing, and this is the particular change that I'm going to back. I refuse to back or not back a candidate based on his personal behavior alone. It's a relief to finally have some points to agree or disagree with. I was uncomfortable backing a candidate just because he wasn't the other guy, and now I don't feel like I have to, anymore.

Friday, September 17, 2004

From a mailing list I'm on, in discussing violence in Iraq:

Most of the victims of the bombings are not US soldiers. They're everyday Iraqis just trying to get a job, worship or buy dinner. We uncorked the bottle, but in certain ways I wonder if we're incidental. Put it this way, if we left tomorrow, would this still be going on?

I feel the need to suddenly chime in with this: Yes, it would. This country has been a site for violence and upheaval a lot longer than we've been there.

No, I don't think we're right to be there, I just think that, unfortunately, the country is populated with unsatisfied and violent factions of people who haven't learned that playing nice is an option. Shiite? Sunni? Kurdish? All struggling for top positions whether their cause is political or religious. Iraq is a place filled with many people who think that violence is the answer. Before we got there, ordinary folk who were get trying to get a job, worship or buy dinner could randomly be grabbed from their homes in the middle of the night and tortured. Our arrival on the scene and deposing (deposition?) of their leader brought the violence into the forefront. I don't think it will go back into the "we don't talk about that because we're afraid" background when (and if) we leave.

The violence was always there, it's just that now car bombs and insurrection are the latest style. It's not completely our fault.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I didn't get the last word

I hate not getting the last word in. If I can't win an argument, I at least try to come to some sort of agreement before stepping back from it. Last night, I was unable to do either of these things.

I made a comment about being afraid of the return of an abominable practice, the burning of heretics. When referring to this, I mean it literally, purely, and in its original form. I am speaking directly of a large, dominating mass of people rounding up other smaller, non-dominating groups. Once these people are imprisoned, they are then given a chance to "repent" sometimes, but mostly, they're strapped to a stake in some public place in town, and made an example of (in mass quantities) BY SETTING THEM ON FIRE. While they're still alive. So that people can see their loved ones die in agony, and the smell of charring flesh invades everything for miles.

Anyway, I made a comment about being afraid that this practice would start again, and I was told that it already has. War was cited. People's homes being destroyed when they were nothing but innocent bystanders was made reference to. These things are terrible. Yes, war is bad. War is bad! It solves problems by using force, and there's no guarantee that the more reasonable side has more force than the other. It's a terrible thing when families who've done nothing but live their lives in an unlucky location lose their electricity, or their source of groceries, or water, or the only home they've ever known, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I gave in last night, I shut my trap. Because the horrors that do exist are bad enough. I don't want to belittle them by whining about how it's not the specific thing I'm afraid of.

But deep down, I'm petty, see, and it's not.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Time for me to talk about something

I want to talk about George Bush. I want to talk about Neocons, and Jews, and the president. My dad, when faced with the giant hole our economy is in, and how we've lost all the good will of almost every country on earth, he says, (out loud), "Well, at least the Bush administration is a friend of Israel".

I want to clear this up, right now. NO THEY'RE NOT. They support Israel, yes, with weapons, and money and words, and everything they would need from us, which is good, but the reasoning behind it.... ah, the reasoning behind it is why I'm so freakin' worried about how the world will continue when we're gone.

If you're a radical Christian, the kind I define as "Anyone who thinks I'm going to burn in hell literally", then you probably believe that Israel has to be under the control of the Jews in order for the Messiah to come. They're leaving us there just becuase of some wacky prophecy that says that their perfect world won't happen if Israel isn't Jewish.

This scares me to no end. Really. People with strong faith scare the crap out of me in the first place, but people who believe that "in the end" one group is going to be favored over the other just because scare everything else out of me, too. Shouldn't we all just try to live our lives as decent people, not purposely hurting others if we can help it? I mean that. SHouldn't we at least *try* to be as good a person as we can, without worrying what the reward will be, afterwards? Wouldn't the world be a better place if people at least tried?

I don't think that the President wants to believe that people who aren't Christian might have an OK afterlife. I think that Christianity truly has a stranglehold on his brain. Not that I know when the heck that happened! The man certainly had a lack of visible morals regarding drug and alcohol use in his younger days. But my point is, I don't think that you can deal fairly with another person when you really believe that someday that other person is going to go to hell.

That ain't right.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Loss of Brain Function

Who thought it was a good idea to let people make microwave popcorn at work.
All I can smell is popcorn.
All I can think is popcorn.

I don't want to *eat* any popcorn, I've been through the emotional wringer too many times this afternoon for that, but the smell, the smell! It's everywhere. It's everything, and it will be until I go home for the day.

Microwave popcorn at work is NOT a good idea.