Wednesday, November 27, 2002

And now, we learn that Kissinger will lead the September 11 "investigation."

Oops...they did it again.
Would someone please explain to me how even the brazen Bush administration could appoint John Poindexter director of the Information Awareness Office? It is horrifying enough that we have an Information Awareness Office, and now we learn it will be led by the man who shredded government documents to conceal the Iran-Contra affair and lied to Congress about it. The message is clear--the administration believes it takes a a totally dishonest person to properly direct the nation's spying. Makes sense, I guess.

At least people are outraged. A few years ago, Congress appointed the good Father John Danforth to be in charge of the FBI/Waco investigation. This was the man who, just a few years before, orchestrated a truly dirty campaign of lies against Professor Anita Hill (something he admitted) in order to get Clarence Thomas confirmed. Those were busy days for Danforth, an Episcopal priest. When he wasn't plotting the smear campaign against Hill, he was down at the church, celebrating the Holy Eucharist. Members of Congress said they selected him to be the Waco investigator because of his integrity.

Where's Lewis Carroll when you need him?

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Most states--about 35--recognize animal cruelty as a felony offense. However, the FBI does not have a category for publishing animal crimes against animals in its Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which studies crime trends. Not only does this omission hinder those who are trying to prevent cruelty to animals, it also hinders those who are trying to prevent violence toward humans. And--perhaps most important--it does nothing to legitimize the crime of animal cruelty.

Of course, animal cruelty laws are absurd, too. If someone starves or tortures a pet dog, s/he can be prosecuted. But thousands of farm animals are starved and tortured every day and they are protected by the law. The only thing the law requires of farmers is that they follow guidelines for "humane slaughter," one of my favorite oxymorons.

Monday, November 18, 2002

A poll conducted in August indicates that 49% of Americans believe that the First Amendment "goes too far." 48% believe that the government has the right to monitor religious groups, 46% believe that the Constitution should be amended to ban flag-burning, and 40% believe that university professors' speech should be restricted during a "time of war."

If that doesn't have you in a dead faint, read on: only 2% knew that freedom to petition is part of the Bill of Rights; only 10% knew that freedom to assemble is; only 14% knew that freedom of the press is, and just 18% knew that freedom of religion is a Constitutional right. 58% knew about freedom of speech.

Not scared yet? Have someone take your pulse.

Friday, November 15, 2002

It was two years ago this month that Kenneth Lay began selling his Enron shares.

He has still not been indicted.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Remember right after September 11 when the government asked if any of us ordinary citizens could translate Arabic since the FBI couldn't, and maybe this was causing some tiny holes in national security? Remember how shocked you were?

Well, the U.S. Army, in its wisdom, just fired seven expert Arabic translators. It seems they were gay, and therefore had to be weeded out. One of them, understandably afraid to trust Clinton's spineless don't-ask-don't-tell policy, outed herself, as is frequently the case. The Army said "no problem," then fired her. Then went about spying to see if they could find some more gay soldiers to get rid of. They found six.

Talk about your war on terror. I am feeling so much safer now.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

A few days ago, I asked: What will Florida do to screw up this time? It wasn't a rhetorical question, and Florida didn't disappointment me. In Broward County, they misplaced 103,000 absentee votes. It turns out that the votes wouldn't have made a difference in the election, but that is hardly the point. What are those people in Florida doing, and why can't they stop doing it?

There is, of course, one correct answer that is both probable and frightening: that Florida is not alone, and that other states are better able to hide their failures to count votes.

But who cares? Not elibible voters. Only 53% of them showed up at the polls for the midterm elections, and I don't want to guess the percentage of that group who knew much about the issues.

Friday, November 08, 2002

21% of eligible American voters have sealed your fate for years. Though there will be another election in two years, there is no telling how long we will have to live with the outcome of war, tax structure devastation, and the appointment of right-wing judges to federal benches and the U.S. Supreme Court.

21% of eligible American voters isn't very many.

But they have sealed your fate.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

A low voter turnout is expected today, even lower than for most midterm elections. It doesn't take a great mind to figure out why: thousands of people have no interest in government, and thousands more don't understand why they should take the trouble to make a selection among a group of candidates for whom they feel neither trust nor enthusiasm.

Of course, there is a Big Question that will be determined by today's voting:

What did Florida do to screw up this time?

Fooled you, didn't I?

However, now that I've mentioned it, the scariest part of this election is the possibilty that the White House will get enough control to appoint some judges and justices who will make Clarence Thomas look almost moderate, if not competent. There has already been enough damage done by the Supreme Court, but it could get much, much worse. If you are an employee, a woman, gay, a person of color, handicapped, someone who is fond of free speech, an academic; or if you happen to breathe the air, eat the food, and drink the water--take heed. You could be in danger.