Thursday, July 10, 2008

Change sells out

Barack Obama and a majority of democrats voted yes on extending wiretap powers of the federal government. This in a ongoing debate about preserving privacy of individuals and getting those pesky Al Qaeda-types who use cell phones to call their contacts in Canada, Florida, and Tacoma, Washington.

In a quote that sounds a bit like Yosemite Sam meets Tony the Tiger, Republicans allay our fears by explaining that some new safeguards are in place to insure no prying on citizens who don't deserve it.

There is nothing to fear in the bill, said Senator Christopher S. Bond, the Missouri Republican who was a lead negotiator, in the NYTimes “unless you have Al Qaeda on your speed dial.”
Yeah, for all those pesky militants that carry Al Qaeda in their cell phone address books...

Back to Obama...

The campaign of "Change" (whatever the hell that means) is smelling like a sound-bite ridden, not-too-offensive pile of goat dung. The man who made brilliant speeches about the need to deal with racial bias, the need to preserve civil liberties, proper judgment to keep out of unnecessary wars.... Now is talking about "moderating" his Iraqi pullout timetable, giving states more leverage in limiting reproductive choice, and voting to spread the backward policies of impinging on civil liberties in the name of "getting the badguys."

A big point of contention was the issue of retroactive immunity for telecom companies who helped government spy on us. Obama had earlier said that he'd vote against immunity, even filibuster, before deciding to "moderate his position." (Is there something moderate about government powers to spy on citizens?)

Democrats are sure doing a heckuva job trying to portray themselves as the party of change. What with voting to extend the war funding, and this latest policy blowjob to a president that's unpopular and policies that are seen as failing.

A CNN poll late June puts the percentage of Americans opposing the Iraq War at 68 percent. 64 percent want to see most troops removed from the war in the first couple months in the next administration.

Bush now has a whopping 24% approval rating. Congress is got 21% of Americans happy with them.

Why can't the democrats(Feingold and friends are excepted), and Obama in particular, get some balls and legislate change instead just putting out nice PR rhetoric about "valuing everyone's perspective," even if its counterproductive? Say, bringing the troops home, using the millions per day spent over there to foster private and public investment in green technologies, education, health care etc?

Why do I give tax money to these people?

I love how we're "dealing" with the poor economy. Printing off more dollars for people to spend in the form of tax breaks. Yes, when the people are angry, lets give them money that doesn't exist to make them happy. Cutting interest rates so that people can borrow more...

The Audacity of Acquiescence...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sad Days

My beloved Isthmus, Madison's alt-weekly, is considering lay offs that are spreading across the newspaper industry, reports the Capital Times, who itself had to cut staff and quit printing paper editions of the daily.

This as advertisers prefer to go to lower cost venues instead of pumping money into a paper that not only uncovers police brutality and government corruption, but does it with personality. The great thing I like is that editors there don't pretend to be objective and rehash quotes/old story lines. In this way the paper addresses a more specific audience.

Much more valuable to advertisers than just a general info rag for the "average American."

I've been thinking for a long time that Isthmus should collect a minor subscription fee instead of being soley funded by ad dollars. Such a fee could be negligible, but still help fund substantive gaps.

For example, instead of being free, how about charging $0.05 per copy? A lot of readers would likely pay a nickel for Isthmus.

If Isthmus charged five cents with its current circulation of 61,000, that's $3050 extra each week. Enough to pay for more reporters (and freelancers). Even if circulation dropped to 45,000 due to the price, that's an extra $2,250...

...jeez I'm happy I joined the journalism industry...

Thedailypage/Isthmus will find a way to get its message out despite changes/a poor economy. If not just because it's a Madison institution.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Operation Iraqi Oil

It's official, Bush cronies have swapped oil deals for international cred, despite the Iraqi government, according to a Congressional panel. Bush's friendly friends at Hunt Oil contracted under the semiautonomous government of Kurdistan (a region in Iraq's north); this without the consent of Iraq's central government in Baghdad.

In the NYTimes:
The company, Hunt Oil of Dallas, signed the deal with Kurdistan’s semiautonomous government last September. Its chief executive, Ray L. Hunt, a close political ally of President Bush, briefed an advisory board to Mr. Bush on his contacts with Kurdish officials before the deal was signed.

In an e-mail message released by the Congressional committee, a State Department official in Washington, briefed by a colleague about the impending deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government, wrote: “Many thanks for the heads up; getting an American company to sign a deal with the K.R.G. will make big news back here. Please keep us posted.”

...The encouragement by State Department officials did not end with the signing of the contract on Sept. 8, the documents suggest. Five days later, a State Department official in the southern city of Basra wrote to Ms. Phillips, “I read and heard about with interest your deal with the regional Kurdish government.”

“I don’t know if you are aware of another opportunity,” the official wrote, mentioning an enormous port project and a natural gas project in the south. After a few more lines, the official concluded, “This seems like it would be a good opportunity for Hunt.”
Glad we went to Iraq to build democracy and help our brothers and sisters in the Iraq government, by allowing that central government to be undercut by private American interests allied with the president.

This also may pose a problem as Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish Iraqis have tensions between them. A thorny issue is reception of revenue of rich oil deposits in the northern city of Kirkuk.