Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sanctity of Life

"We should not use public money to support the further destruction of human life,"

Okay that's what our fearless leader said about stem cell research. But haven't we used public money to destroy lives of Americans and Iraqis, and quite a lot of money, nearly $200 billion and counting? So it's okay to destroy some lives, but how does one determine which lives are expendable?

I'm not so sure about stem cell research, it all sounds really sci-fi to me. And I am a bit uneasy about the thought of some mad right wing scientist cloning someone like Tom Delay, or Dick Cheney, and allowing them to ferment somewhere in a test tube, until there were so many, that they burst from the labratory and took over the Senate and the House.

Oh...maybe that's how they did it.

On the other hand, it would be nice to be able to replace my worn out brain cells with brand new smarter brain cells, or grow myself a new set of boobs, more upright than my present pair. And it would be really useful to grow some new lungs, maybe a new set for everyone in the country, to replace the old ones that have been damaged from poor air quality and dangerous emissions.

The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Guns and Money

Why are Americans so fascinated with guns and war? I'm including myself in this mix, I don't mean that I'm fascinated by war, not real war anyways, I prefer the Hollywood variety, with fake guns, fake blood, the kind where know one gets hurt, and in the end, the good guys win. I like a good action flick, ( I especially like both of the Tomb Raider films, cause wow, does Angelina Jolie look hot in those action outfits?) I much prefer action to those emotional chick flicks that my partner likes to watch. But in real life, guns scare me. People who own guns scare me. How do you know that they're not going to just flip out one day and start shooting at you? I would never own one myself, I would be too afraid I would shoot the windows out or something, or maybe shoot my foot off trying to figure out how to work it. I like to be a responsible citizen, I don’t drive drunk, and I don’t shoot guns.
Keeps the neighbors safe.
So anyway, today I log onto the Guardian, (that's a London newspaper, I read it because I can hardly ever get serious news in any of the American newspapers), and I read this article about a report produced by the Arms Trade Resource Center in New York which spells out pretty clearly that not only do Americans love their guns, but we love it when other countries buy our guns. In fact, we love selling guns so much, that we sell them to anyone, even some questionable states that might be considered, well…unstable. How do we know that these weapons will not someday be used against us? We haven’t always chosen our allies wisely, we all know that the US armed and trained Osama Bin Laden. We know that before both of the Gulf Wars, that we sold Saddam Hussein guns and WMDS. It is possible that those very same guns are the ones firing at our soldiers today.
“In 2003 alone, the Pentagon and the State Department delivered or licensed the delivery of 5.7 billion in weaponry to countries which can ill afford advanced weaponry; nations in the developing world saddled with debt and struggling with poverty.
Despite having some of the worlds strongest laws regulating the arms trade, almost half of these weapons went to countries plagued with ongoing conflicts and governed by undemocratic regimes with poor human rights records. In 2003, 2.7 billion in weaponry went to governments branded un-democratic by the State Department.”
What’s up with that?
Okay, I’m not sure if I understood this part of the article correctly, but it seems that we actually lend these countries the money to buy these weapons. I’m not sure how that makes any sort of business sense, if we lend them the money, then how are we even making a profit? Are we doing this as some sort of gesture? And the money lender, is an American military aid program called Foreign Military Financing, and I hope that it isn’t funded by American tax dollars, because that would mean…no…we’re not funding these sales are we? Because I have a real problem with selling weapons to countries like Saudi Arabia, (shit,19 of their guys killed 3000 of ours, and with our planes!) Pakistan, Afghanistan (you’ve got to be kidding!) Uzbekistan?
“Under FMF (Foreign Military Financing) recipients get outright US grants on the condition that they use the money to buy US weapons systems. The foreign countries get nearly free weapons (they incur the operating costs and additional expenses for parts and in some cases, training) and the money is churned back into the US defense industry.
I must have read this article incorrectly. There’s got to be some mistake. How can we, American tax payers, be subsidizing the sales of weaponry to a country like Afghanistan when most of the country is still controlled by warlords and the country is only one car bomb away from anarchy? We only have 18,000 troops in Afghanistan, and I sure wouldn’t want them to be looking down the barrels of a bunch of M-16’s courtesy of the American taxpayer. The same can be said for Pakistan, their leader, Musharref , (please don’t expect me to spell that correctly) has almost been blown up twice in the past year, and the Pakistan military has close ties to the Taliban. And they have nukes. So why exactly are we selling them weapons? Lending them the money to buy them? Is this some sort of insanity? A death wish? And Uzbekistan? I don’t even want to imagine.
Can somebody please tell me that I’m wrong?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Tank Woman

When Is Nuclear Ever An Option?

I was out in the back yard today, and I am happy to report that there is no mushroom cloud over the Capital. Apparently, reason has thus far prevailed, and we still have a Constitution. It is pretty safe to say that we're okay until tomorrow, I'm pretty sure all of our elected officials are off duty, and being wined and dined by the special interest group with the most money.

So, safe for the moment, in the comfort of my office chair, I can still speak my mind about the appalling things that are happening just across town. Basically, it's a power grab. The Republicans have us against the ropes, and the only thing between the Democrats and total defeat is the filibuster. If the analogy is boxing, the change in rules would amount to allowing the guy still standing to continue to kick the guy on the floor until he's unconscious. I hate boxing. Let me give you a different sports analogy. If you're in a soccer match (football in most of the civilized world), and there were 50 members on your team, and you were playing against an opposition of 55 members, the off-sides rule would become really important. If you eliminated the off-sides rule, and the offense could have as many players in the box as they wanted, the team defending the goal would lose, and lose badly.

What is at stake here, and I should totally feel more passionate about defending it, is the system of checks and balances in our government. I feel sort lukewarm about the whole argument because I still think that Americans should get to know in an intimate way, just what they voted for last November. Here's what they bought. On the up-side, there's no gay marriage. Never will be. On the down side, you can't sue large corporations for damages. You can't declare bankruptcy if you fall on hard times and unemployment. Your SUV will cost you more to drive, and it's not ever going to get cheaper. Oh yeah, if you're really poor, and not insured, you're on your own. Oh and your teenage daughter. If she gets pregnant because we're preaching abstinence while we're marketing sexy products to make her look more attractive, she's shit out of luck, and so are you if the Republicans get to vaporize the law-making process.

Oh and for the record, can you think of any name that’s less appropriate when speaking about our government, than nuclear option? The phrase gives us a whole new insight into just what the Republicans think of our system of checks and balances. I have to pass on to you this brilliant post on tomdispatch, (tom is amazing, and a mentor of mine, even though he doesn't know who I am), because it spells out so clearly just the lengths that this Administration will go to in order to consolidate power.

Nuclear Option.

Say it softly to yourselves, and think about the imagery that goes with it. Then think about Americans using it to destroy our law-making process. Is it a phrase that should ever be used when speaking about other Americans? I think it is a phrase that should not be used at all, not against our vilest enemies, not against anyone, but most certainly not against our fellow Americans.

I'm looking out my window, looking out over the Capital, and I am assured that for now all is well. But be wary of things that happen behind closed doors, in the dark of this rainy DC night, the deals that are being made right at this very moment that will never see the light of day.

Pay attention.

Tank Woman

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Further Foot Funk

My partner, A, just came back from a writer's conference in New Orleans yesterday. When she leaves town on business, she usually brings me something back from where ever she has gone. It's almost always something to eat, which is the surest way to my heart. We spend the evening catching up, and when it comes time for gifts, she brings me two bags of my favorite coffee called "Wake The F UP!" It really does just what it advertises. Then she presents me with a jar of "Volcano" foot mask. I look at the label and read: "Afraid To Take Your Socks OFF?" Yikes! So she does find my feet offensive. And after all these years she still loves me. How Sweet! So I apply the foot mask and wrap my disgusting feet in a couple of layers of Saran Wrap, just like the directions say, and wait the required thirty minutes for my dismal dogs to emerge born again, oder free and refreshed. I get bored after 2 minutes of waiting, and hobble over to my computer. My feet make this squishing sound inside the Saran Wrap, and I am careful to avoid getting it on the rug. I log onto the Washington Post and read about the current Newsweek scandal that is the talk of the media.

When I read news stories that seem sort of wrong, I get this kind of nausea. It's like I have this BSometer in my gut that tells me when someone's trying to hose me. When Bush landed on the "Mission Accomplished" aircraft carrier, I almost ralphed. When ever I read about Bush trying to fix Social Security, I go immediately for the Tums. When the Administration speaks about democracy and freedom, I get the double whammy, I have to eat handfulls of Tums and drink soda water.

Whatever. So I'm sitting at my desk, waiting for my foot mask to dry and I'm reading this story about the Koran, and the toilets, and the riots, and after all of this violence, Newsweek retracts the story. Why did they do that? If it's already out there, how can you take it back? They're not saying it's not true, even the Pentagon isn't saying it's not true, they're saying that whoever confirmed it in the first place is hiding out in an office in Pentagon City about to shit himself because he told the truth. And now Newsweek is getting the same treatment that Dan Rather got last summer for the desertion story. No one in the Administration said it wasn't true, they focused on the documents as being untrue. NO one challenged the facts.

So what is happening here is that we are trying to shoot the messenger.
My gut is telling me that this is one of those instances where the Pentagon doesn't dispute the facts, instead they smear the person who comes forward with the facts. Yikes. I'm feeling kind of sick to my stomach. Oh no. The Tums are downstairs. My feet are encased in foot splooge and layers of cellophane. I can’t get downstairs to get to the Tums without leaving a trail of foot by-product all over the rug. I’m stuck with my nausea, and my Saran-wrapped feet. I look around for the waste basket in case of emergency, and courageously begin to remove the cellophane from my feet.

Oh Wow! They smell like cinnamon! Minty Fresh!

But in my gut, I can still smell the stench of something foul, and I’m pretty sure it’s not my feet.