Ominous Developments

The Bush administration is now endorsing a white-washed form of assassination. (Only kill Saddam Hussein in self-defense, but go ahead and get yourself into a situation where you’d have the opportunity, would be threatened and could then do it seems to be the general policy).

Assassination is wrong, evil, unacceptable.

It goes against the principles of democratic freedom. (Incidentally, it also is a violation of the Ten Commandments, but as is usual, far Right Christians apply those rules selectively – fetuses must be protected but political opponents can be killed).

I’m rather astounded that his handlers convinced Bush to voice this policy change; he might just as well start wearing a bullseye on his jacket. Perhaps they convinced him that he can be protected. Perhaps he knows he’s already the prime target for all sorts of enemies of the United States. Still, I worry about the rest of the administration considering him expendable; yes, he’s an idiot, a coke-riddled frat boy who acquired the presidency through fraudulent means, but the prospect of President Cheney scares me even more.

These are very bleak times politically and most Americans seem to be quietly agreeing to going to war against the rest of the world in order to preserve our oh so comfortable lifestyle. In the choice between comfort and freedom, people seem to be picking the SUV and cheap sneakers over the bill of rights.

In Berlin last month, Mr. Bush stood in the Reichstag, whose burning in 1933 marked the beginning of Hitler’s rise as Europe stood by, and warned his European allies that “wishful thinking” would not eliminate “the new totalitarian threat.” [source]

Well, at least I agree with him on that point.

Understand

Chris pointed me to a fascinating interview with and essay by biologist Richard Dawkins. Here’s a bit I particularly liked:

Interviewer Sheena McDonald: How do you prepare for death in a world where there isn’t a god?

Dawkins: You prepare for it by facing up to the truth, which is that life is what we have and so we had better live our life to the full while we have it, because there is nothing after it. We are very lucky accidents or at least each one of us is—if we hadn’t been here, someone else would have been. I take all this to reinforce my view that I am fantastically lucky to be here and so are you, and we ought to use our brief time in the sunlight to maximum effect by trying to understand things and get as full a vision of the world and life as our brains allow us to, which is pretty full.

McDonald: And that is the first duty, right, responsibility, pleasure of man and woman. Christians would say “love God, love your neighbor”. You would say “try to understand”.

Dawkins: Well, I wouldn’t wish to downplay love your neighbor. It would be rather sad if we didn’t do that. But, having agreed that we should love our neighbor and all the other things that are embraced by that wee phrase, I think that, yes, understand, understand is a pretty good commandment.

In that light, I went to “church” Saturday and studied the good works of the universe. Chris & I had a happy time puttering around the Exploratorium playing with physics, chemistry, biology and our own goofy little monkey brains. We followed that up with a walk through the woods. Nice planet we’re on here; you should check it out.

Breakfast in a Sock

Some mornings you need something stronger than the usual drive time chatter. Today I tuned in to The Sandman. Alas, my good friend Pete Spomer no longer broadcasts, but I have a mix tape he made some years back called “Songs To Annoy My Friends”. There’s something special about a day that starts with Fred Lane’s The French Toast Man.

***

I notice that our tax dollars will be going to support a “kid-friendly” section of the internet. Given that it will be protecting the little darlings by these means

Web sites in the domain would be prohibited from linking to sites outside it, and they could not set up chat rooms, instant messaging or other interactive services unless they could certify that they did not expose children to pedophiles or pose other risks.

I’d say it’s really more of an intranet than the internet per se.

Also, given this clause

If privately held NeuStar were to lose money on the venture, it could give control back to the Commerce Department, which would seek another operator

I fear that the kids will be protected from the terrible danger of exposure to pictures of naked people (that’s sarcasm, folks), but be laid wide open to corporate messages on every page. Well, I guess I should be glad there could be a place for kids which is free from “sexually explicit material, hate speech, violence or other material not suitable for minors”, but I sure do think commercial advertising falls under that last clause.

Peace Requires More Bravery Than War

Catching up on old mail, I found this wonderful statement from journalist Danny Pearl’s widow:

Revenge would be easy, but it is far more valuable in my opinion to address this problem of terrorism with enough honesty to question our own responsibility as nations and as individuals for the rise of terrorism. My own courage arises from two facts. One is that throughout this ordeal I have been surrounded by people of amazing value. This helps me trust that humanism ultimately will prevail. My other hope now–in my seventh month of pregnancy–is that I will be able to tell our son that his father carried the flag to end terrorism, raising an unprecedented demand among people from all countries not for revenge but for the values we all share: love, compassion, friendship and citizenship far transcending the so-called clash of civilizations.

[thanks to Uncle Larry for the link!]

Now here’s a political speech worth reading

As my uncle Larry pointed out to me, it’s interesting that George W. Bush did not want the United States delegates to the International Conference on Financing for Development to hear this speech by Fidel Castro: “A Better World Is Possible“.

I do not approve of a president who is afraid to have his people hear opposing opinions. Apparently he has not read the Bill of Rights or believes its ideas should not apply outside of the United States.

Some nice tasty venom

My friend Mike (who I wish would start writing online) just pointed me to a lovely bitchy summation of American political parties. I think the author, John Scalzi, is pretty accurate along with with his snarkiness.

(Mike also pointed me to this account of a guy taking the Navy Seal training which as I read it is making me oh so glad I didn’t have to get up at 4:30 this morning and do push-ups).

Take that, you corporate jerks!

I stayed registered in Mountain View to vote in this election (and why not given that I’m still paying rent down there). I wanted to be sure to put in my vote against Measure N, Home Depot’s slimy attempt to circumvent city planning.

To my delight, all the money they spent trying to manipulate the system to put their monster store in at 85 & El Camino was wasted. In a very low turnout election (statewide), Mountain View jumped above the average with a 36.5% turnout to defeat the measure 64.6% to 35.4% (as reported on that great site, Smart Voter this morning).

Ha! That’ll teach ya to jerk around the city, hire out of state telemarketers and waste everyone’s time, energy & money in a lame attempt to knock Orchard Supply Hardware out of the area. I mean, jeez, Home Depot, you’ve got 5 stores within a 10 mile radius of Mountain View, 3 of which are within 6 miles and right off major freeways; who needs another one? Particularly if located where it will create traffic hassles and change the personality of a fairly quiet neighborhood.

It makes me happy to see corporate slimeballs get their come-uppance. Screw the big block stores! Shop at locally owned businesses!

Slavery is Legal in the U.S., did you know that?

The 13th Amendment states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

An increasing number of prisons in the U.S. are run by corporations, using their prisoners as workers and selling their labor to corporations. Federal safety and health standards do not protect prison labor, nor do the National Labor Relations Board policies. The corporations do not even have to pay minimum wage.

“J.C. Penney, Victoria’s Secret, IBM, Toys R Us and TWA are among the US corporations that have profited by employing prisoners. Put together long mandatory sentences for minor drug offences, a strong racial bias, prisons run by corporations for profit, the sale of convict labor to corporations, and a charge for prison room and board and you have a modern system of bonded labor – a social condition otherwise known as slavery.” [from Take It Personally: How to Make Conscious Choices to Change the World edited by Anita Roddick, p.75]

I’m trying to find out if Victoria’s Secret or their subcontractors still use prison labor and plan to cut my “Victoria’s Secret Angel” credit card in pieces – inside one of their stores – if they do. I will not support slavery.

It is fitting and proper

It is fitting and proper that Derek has placed I voted 2000 in the "Hope" section of fray.
I voted.
I’m watching the returns roll in. A close race. Scary, and exciting too. Despite the fear and depression inspired by political rhetoric, my basic mood is one of optimism and pride. I’m wearing red, white & blue today.