succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, January 30, 2004

Paul Krugman asks what's wrong with our country. I want to know too.

"Surely even supporters of the Iraq war must be dismayed by the administration's reaction to David Kay's recent statements. Iraq, he now admits, didn't have W.M.D., or even active programs to produce such weapons. Those much-ridiculed U.N. inspectors were right. (But Hans Blix appears to have gone down the memory hole. On Tuesday Mr. Bush declared that the war was justified — under U.N. Resolution 1441, no less — because Saddam "did not let us in.")

So where are the apologies? Where are the resignations? Where is the investigation of this intelligence debacle? All we have is bluster from Dick Cheney, evasive W.M.D.-related-program-activity language from Mr. Bush — and a determined effort to prevent an independent inquiry.

True, Mr. Kay still claims that this was a pure intelligence failure. I don't buy it: the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has issued a damning report on how the threat from Iraq was hyped, and former officials warned of politicized intelligence during the war buildup. (Yes, the Hutton report gave Tony Blair a clean bill of health, but many people — including a majority of the British public, according to polls — regard that report as a whitewash.)

In any case, the point is that a grave mistake was made, and America's credibility has been badly damaged — and nobody is being held accountable. But that's standard operating procedure. As far as I can tell, nobody in the Bush administration has ever paid a price for being wrong. Instead, people are severely punished for telling inconvenient truths. And administration officials have consistently sought to freeze out, undermine or intimidate anyone who might try to check up on their performance."


"Still, the big story isn't about Mr. Bush; it's about what's happening to America. Other presidents would have liked to bully the C.I.A., stonewall investigations and give huge contracts to their friends without oversight. They knew, however, that they couldn't. What has gone wrong with our country that allows this president to get away with such things? "

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Just returned from perhaps the greatest taco mac night ever (for clevelanders - think winking lizard). Made friends with the manager who gave us excellent beer recommendations and free chips and salsa. Only downer was discovering that someone treated a good friend really badly. It happened a while ago, but I just heard the story tonight. And I figure I'm upset mostly because this friend is a really good person, but probably also a little bcause I'm really starting to care for this person. I've always been like that. Most upset by wrongs done to my friends than to myself. Ah well. It's over and done with.

In unrelated news, just when I'm thinking that Sid and Amelia are the only ones who read my blog, Steve comments with an answer to my Constitutionality question! Thanks Steve!

Ok, class in less than 8 hours = bedtime.

Jeebus the implications of this are scary.

A commenter over at atrios says this:

While all of the Democratic presidential candidates (except Sen. Joseph Lieberman) criticize President George W. Bush for his unilateral recklessness in starting a war against Iraq, they are missing a larger point: The invasion was not just reckless. It was unconstitutional.

It is time to set the record straight. The United States Congress never voted for the Iraq war. Rather, Congress voted for a resolution in October 2002 which unlawfully transferred to the president the decision-making power of whether to launch a first-strike invasion of Iraq. The United States Constitution vests the awesome power of deciding whether to send the nation into war solely in the United States Congress.

Those members of Congress—including certain Democratic presidential candidates—who voted for that October resolution cannot now claim that they were deceived, as some of them do. By unlawfully ceding the war-declaring power to the president, they allowed the president to start a war against Iraq based on whatever evidence or whatever lies he chose. The members of Congress who voted for that October resolution are as complicit in this illegal war as is the president himself.

Imagine this: The United States Congress passes a resolution which states: "The President is authorized to levy an income tax on the people of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to pay for subsidies to U.S. oil companies." No amount of legal wrangling could make such a resolution constitutional. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution grants the power to levy taxes exclusively to the United States Congress.

Now let us turn to reality. In October 2002, Congress passed a resolution which stated: "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to 1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and 2) enforce all relevant United States Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." As he determines to be necessary and appropriate.

Congress cannot transfer to the president its exclusive power to declare war any more than it can transfer its exclusive power to levy taxes. Such a transfer is illegal. These are non-delegable powers held only by the United States Congress."

I don't know enough about Constitutional law to have much to say about this, and since we've already gone to war and everything, it seems like a somewhat moot point. But it's interesting nonetheless. How does the "war loophole" apply in this situation? Isn't the president allowed to "go to war" (or some equivalent) for a certain number of days without congressional approval? Or is that only if we're specifically attacked? Like I said, I don't know about this area.

If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane...

This John Ashcroft quote brought a little laughter to my day when I found it online yesterday

"Weapons of mass destruction including evil chemistry and evil biology are all matters of great concern, not only to the United States but also to the world community. They were the subject of U.N. resolutions," Ashcroft said.

And this website that expands on the idea made my morning. I especially want to take evil statistics and evil bowling.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Good Grief

"Earlier this month the Georgia Department of Education released drafts
of the future science standards for K-12 education
( The GADOE has intentionally weakened
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) standards by
removing any mention of evolution, common descent, the big bang, or the
true age of the earth. This antagonism towards good science is now
threatening the future of Georgia’s students and Georgia’s economy.
Reed Cartwright from UGA has started an online petition to GADOE. If
you would like to sign a petition to encourage GADOE to use all of the
AAAS benchmarks, you can do so here."

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

From my textbook "Health and Human Rights: A Reader" by Jonathan Mann:

"But, for explanatory purposes here, it is perhaps easier to describe what reproductive health is not, or rather, by showing what these movements have reacted against.
In the health field, they have reacted against population control efforts that treat women as "targets" of contraceptive programs, blatantly manipulating their reproductive capacity in order to achieve demographic goals - goals set by dominant elites in pursuit of any number of different political agendas. They have reacted against maternal/child health policies that view the health of women as an instrument to ensure the health of children, and not as an important or valuable matter in its own right. They have reacted against medical institutions that focus on different pieces of women's bodies as discrete biological systems to be prodded, probed, and fixed, rather than seeing women's health as women live it, as part of complex interactive systems tied inextricably to the broader conditions of their lives. And they have reacted against domination by health professionals who present "risk" as if the only thing at stake in deciding whether or not to conceive or give birth is the possibility of physical injury; who obsess about reproduction but ignore sexuality; who preach about "personal responsibility" but fold on questions of power and resources, of vulnerability and discrimination."


"Thus, stated in the negative, reproductive health and reproductive rights - indeed, human dignity - are about the right not to be alienated from one's own reproductive and sexual capacity; the right not to have that capacity used as an instrument to serve the interests of other individuals, collectivities or states without one's consent and without the opportunity to participate in the political processes by which such interests are defined."


"Once health is understood in this way, then improving health necessarily means dismantling the systems that have wrested away from women the ability and entitlement to decide the meanings and uses of their bodies and their lives. But it also means building social systems that promote and support women as effective actors who are vested, committed, inseparable, and indespensable parts of the families, communities, and states within which they live. This second task, the task of renovating or rebuilding, is not an optional after-thought. It is the essence of the search for human dignity and social justice that is the basic motivation for human rights advocacy."

I must be doing something right if I get to take a class on something I care so much about. This is why I love school. Once again, I urge you to visit

I should know to make my blogger rounds before updating my own. Once again, copying from Amelia (I'll just paste the whole entry, since I think Sudiptya might be the only one who actually follows my links...thanks Sid!):

laurel wrote in comments, "it's really hard for most people (me included) to acknowledge that we've been actually fooled. I think we should all say the things we were fooled about/by, and maybe put that together as a website/ad/something. I'll go first.

"I've been duped. I believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I also believed that there were things the Bush administration would not do for reelection."

here's mine: i've been duped. i believed there were weapons of mass destruction in iraq, because the administration seemed so sure, and i couldn't believe they'd lie about something so serious.

i've been duped. i believed in bush's "compassionate conservative" rhetoric. i believed that he really cared about education, and i believed that the "texas miracle" had some sort of basis in reality. but now i know that the houston schools falsified records in order to bear out the "miracle," and i know that texas kids don't show any improvement on any test other than the one they're taught in texas schools. i care about education because i am a student and my parents are teachers, and that makes me mad.


This is harder for me to answer, as I dug my heels in so hard from the outset...I can't really say that I believed the examples above. I don't mean to say that I wasn't duped by this administration, I guess I'm just saying that I was so cynical about it, there were very few things this administration said that I believed. I have been duped by the people surrounding this administration because I believed that "they" would present more obstacles to this administration (example - I did not expect legislation like the Patriot Act or Partial-Birth Abortion ban to actually be passed). I have been duped by the media, time and time again, because I believed that they were still the watchdogs of our society and would reveal when our administration told lies.

Mark (and other misc.)

So I got to talk to Mark on the phone yesterday, which was terribly exciting. It's the first time I've actually gotten to hear his voice since he left for Moscow back in Sept. (FYI - he'll be back in the states in May) He seems to be doing pretty well, though is a bit lonely right now as it's between semesters and most students have gone home. He's going to sit in on a class this semester taught by some famous guy (who's name and what class I forget) but I think it's funny that Mark described that he's famous because he has a constant named after him. Which is pretty awesome, yet also very dorky.

Not much other news from my end. Just felt like I've been posting a lot about articles and events and less about what's happening in my life, about which, presumably, my friends might care. Classes are going pretty well so far, though I'm having that usual beginning of semester lack of motivation. I'll get back into the swing of things soon enough. Two of my professors are distractingly attractive. We'll see if that's a good thing (keeps me awake during boring lectures) or not (see "distracting" above). Went to see RotK (again) by myself last week. First time I've been to a movie by myself since moving here and it was really nice. Also, RotK was much better upon a second viewing (as expected). Was in a funk Friday night and so just rented movies and curled up in bed. Alas, neither movie was very good. Underworld would be better if it were about 30 minutes shorter. Once Upon a Time in Mexico needed more Jonny Depp being completely absurd and less convoluted attempts at plot twists. But it did include my newest favorite quote, "I'm going to rip off that eye patch and skull-fuck you to death!"

Had the same sort of conversation I usually do with my brother last night. Meaning he talked a lot and I said "yeah" occasionally. Which sounds mean, but his phone calls just seem so tedious sometimes. I know he likes to call and "catch up" and see how I'm doing and whatnot, which is a nice brotherly thing to do.../sigh. I dunno. I just got to thinking last night about how small town Brad has managed to remain. He's lived in DC for a few years now, and works in politics, yet somehow has managed to avoid becoming "metropolitan." Which, I think, in his line of work, is bad. For example, he was all excited about going to a bar the other night and taking part in the SotU drinking game, and described it as "a totally unique DC experience!" I refrained from bursting his bubble. I guess there's no way to talk about this without sounding like a conceited bitch and ungrateful sister (both of which, I'll admit, I'm guilty from time to time)'s just that I'm repeatedly struck by the yuppy sorts of things that he always admired when we were younger, yet doesn't seem to have figured out yet. Like knowing about wine or theater or just random cultural things. I sometimes wonder/worry what his coworkers think, but he seems to get along ok, so I guess it isn't really my job to worry...blah. the usual stream of consciousness crap that's always floating around when I start thinking about my relationship with my brother. I'll stop now.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Looks like lots of people are asking my question. The author's bias is clear, and in places he comes off sounding judgemental, but it's worth the read. And paints a terribly depressing picture of the current state of politics as well as the political future of society at large. I hope he's wrong, but I fear he might not be.

"In Sparks lies the great conundrum of modern Southern politics: The average, white, working-class guy is having a hard time making ends meet -- as if consumer debt recently topping $2 trillion for the first time wasn't enough of a clue. His wages have dropped when adjusted for inflation. His health insurance premiums have skyrocketed (if he has health insurance). He and his wife both have to work, and they pay astronomical childcare bills. His younger kids' schools are crappy and under-funded. His older kids' college tuition jumped (14 percent in the last year, on average). And, if he's like Sparks, 30 percent of what he managed to stash away for retirement evaporated in a stock market fiasco fueled by corporate greed that a bit more government oversight could have prevented.

So where's the anger? And why in the world is he going to vote for a president based on a side issue such as which candidate hates gay marriage? "


"It just ... seemed to be a dwindling of responsibility," she [former member of Polk County Board of Commissioners Marlene Young] says. "People more and more just seem to be looking at their own individual self-interests rather than the larger interests that may be necessary for all of us to live together, ultimately."


In other news, I've finally been convinced to get an account over at livejournal. If you go here you'll just see a link back to this blog, but now you can add me as a friend, if you so desire. Kate has already done so, because, you know, she's cool like that.

A professor from Swarthmore, who's blog I read from time to time because Amelia links to it, has an interesting essay dealing with the idea I tossed out a few days ago - why are so many conservative republicans still supporting Bush? He (the professor) frames his argument as a persuasive piece about Dean, and I definitely have not researched the Democratic candidates enough to agree or disagree with much of what he has to say. Nevertheless, it addresses a lot of specifically conservative republican interests much more fully than I would ever be able to, and provides some food for thought. Read and debate.