Friday, December 31, 2004
Happy New Year, almost
Courtesy of Stephane Peray, The Nation, Bangkok, Thailand
Let's hope that 2005 brings us some good news for a change.
Viva la Revolution!
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Change is good
While I am quite content with my life right now (aside from my outrage about the current political climate) I do think it is a good thing to shake things up from time to time. Since there is little I can do right now about Dubya and Co, I have decided to make a personal change. And while I have talked about doing this for a long time, I feel that the time has come. I am going to cut my long brown hair really short, and possibly dye it blond. While you may think that is no big deal, I assure you, if you knew me, you'd know it is.
I'm hoping that it also helps with my worsening OCD. One of my compulsions is trichotillomania. Maybe if my hair is really short, I'll be less likely to pull.
Tomorrow I will start my quest for a decent hair stylist.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Amazon.com Is For Republicans
Amazon.com Is For Republicans
Attention, liberal shoppers! Next year, screw those GOP-supportin' companies, and try buying blue
by Mark Morford - SF Gate Columnist
Do you care much that greasy ol' Pizza Hut gave tens of thousands in PAC money to the GOP last year? How about the fact that Taco Bell stopped pumping out their happily toxic semirancid meatlike substances just long enough to write a fat check to the conservative Right? Isn't that weirdly fascinating, in a depressing and indigestible sort of way?
Does it matter a whit that, say, Fruit of the Loom underwear gave nearly 100 percent of its corporate donations to tighty-whitey-wearing Republicans, nearly every one of whom I'm guessing wouldn't know appetizing undergarments from a flap of burlap and some string?
Do you think maybe it should? Matter, that is?
This is what happened: there was this list, see, a long and rather surprising list of major consumer corporations in America, and it detailed just how much money each company forked over to the respective political parties last year in political-action-committee (PAC) donations.
Stop yawning. It gets better.
And the list was a bit revelatory and interesting, as such lists are often wont to be, and the companies' fiscal behavior might even surprise you a little, might even take you aback and make you reconsider your consumerist options, especially the part about how Amazon.com gave 60 percent of their donations to the GOP and except maybe for the part about how Coors Brewing gave almost every penny of their donations to Republicans in a concerted effort to, presumably, stop them icky Colorado gays from getting married and keep women in their place, all while furthering the cause of skanky undrinkable pisswater beer made for red-blooded Americans who lack taste buds and hope.
And this list, it recently winged its way around the Net and landed in a million liberal e-mail boxes and it became an instant mini sensation, and then did what any good electronic sensation does: it spawned a Web site.
And the site, called buyblue.org (along with its more detailed but less intuitively named counterpart, choosetheblue.com), spawned a mini movement and the mini movement spawned this very column and now you are right now encouraged to go see for yourself and discover the moderately shocking truths regarding which big shiny companies suck up to the happy sneering homophobic enviro-slappin' warmongering Repubs and which give thousands to the whiny limping kick-us-when-we're-down Demos.
And then what? Just what are you supposed to do with this information? Well, like any good American living in a gutted economy that's trillions in debt, all while a massive bogus unwinnable war is being waged by the most irresponsible cadre of pseudo-leaders this nation has ever known, you go shopping.
But maybe, just maybe, you shift your choices just a little. Maybe you change where your weakened and abused dollar goes as it slowly dawns on you that you might not be as powerless as you might've thought.
And maybe you recognize that if there's one thing that corporations absolutely goddamn never fail to respond to in a million years, it's the bottom line, consumer satisfaction, the almighty but increasingly limp dollar. You think?
Because I don't care how shriveled the souls of a given company's GOP-lovin' board of directors are, if they see profits dropping because all the shoppers in the huge and culturally potent blue cities -- the shoppers, in other words, who don't live in the red welfare states and hence who actually have a shred of disposable income and maybe a modicum of concern and integrity regarding who profits when they spend it -- if they notice that those shoppers are suddenly skipping nasty little Circuit City (98 percent to Repubs) and instead buy their compressed-plastic Japanese-made landfill-ready electronics at monstrous Price Club (98 percent to Dems), well, it sends them a message.
And the message is, in a calm and respectful nutshell, "Bite me."
Because this is what I get asked all the time: What can I do? How can I possibly help stop the ominous onslaught of born-again right-wing hypocrisy and fear and the Parents Television Council and all the bogus Texas machismo now flooding the nation like a bad country song? Here is part of your answer.
And no, it ain't exactly like marching in the streets and it ain't exactly as helpful as shifting your lifestyle over to organic foods and sustainable living and to buying local and supporting hybrid this and recyclable that, all while cranking your alt-spiritual vibration and having spectacular and deeply nonconservative sex.
But it's something. It's a start, a baby step. It is about getting informed, just a little, and realizing that you are, in fact, the fuel for America's economic engine, and if you decide to get yourself into massive credit card debt at the right kind of stores instead of those whose executives apparently believe that God really does hate gays and trees and women and the poor and anyone who wears a turban or speaks French, well, maybe it will make you feel just slightly more aligned and maybe it can make a tiny bit of difference and Goddess knows a difference is so desperately needed right now you can't even believe it.
What can you do? You can skip the Marriott or the Holiday Inn (76 and 73 percent to the GOP respectively), and stay at the lib-friendly Hyatt. Skip Yahoo.com (58 percent to the GOP -- what the hell?) and head over to Google, which gave 100 percent (!) of their donations to the Dems (side note: Google rules).
What else? Toss American and Continental, fly JetBlue. Join NetFlix. Screw Repub-lovin' Wal-Mart and K-Mart (and, if you're reading this column, chances are you need no prompting from me to avoid those epic karmic wastelands) and head over to the giant vortex of consumer madness known as Bed Bath & Beyond, which gave 93 percent to the Dems. I know. I hate that store, too. But now you get to hate them a little less.
Another amazing example? Starbucks. And as much as I despise their ruthless march into funky neighborhoods and strip malls across the nation, the coffee monolith does indeed have truly fabulous employee benefits and incredible customer service, and now you learn that they gave 100 percent of their donations, every single frothy frappaccinoed dime, to the Democrats. It's true. So leave that hideous Folgers and the Sanka swill to jittery BushCo. Go get yourself a peppermint mocha and feel good about it.
As for Amazon, well, it is a bit distressing for many of us who love that bulbous megastore and who shop there all the time to discover that they gave so much to Repubs, which is just odd and a bit inexplicable, especially given how they're based in hugely liberal Seattle and geeky CEO Jeff Bezos seemed at one time to be reasonably attuned and quirky and progressive, except maybe he's not.
Maybe he's just another hollow profiteer who supports war and disses foreigners and thinks gays are, you know, icky. But then again, Amazon did give 40 percent to Democrats. So it's a close call. After all, the venerable and terminally annoying Barnes & Noble gave 98 percent to the Dems, and I can't stand Barnes & Noble. But now, like Starbucks, I hate them a little less. And now maybe I'll just skip Amazon and buy my next gift copy of "The Surrender" or "What's the Matter with Kansas?" or "The Book of Bunny Suicides" from B&N instead.
See? See how easy? Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
Thoughts for the author? E-mail him.
NOTE: Mark's column will be on holiday break until January 5.
Mark's column archives are here.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Friday, December 17, 2004
Should we peel off their magnets?
Before Clinton left office, he told the Bush administration that Osama bin Laden was our biggest threat. Since the info came from Bill Clinton, whom they hated with a passion, they ignored it.
Then 9/11 happened - on Bush's watch, remember. But, the world came together and America's support was never greater.
When the talk came of invading Iraq, liberals protested. Dubya was pulling a fast one on the general public, and along with the mainstream media, they were falling for it.
I kept thinking of those teenagers in NY that enlisted right after 9/11. They were attacked in their own backyard and joined the army to go after bin Laden. Bush betrayed them in the worst possible way. Yes, Saddam was a bad man, but according to every General that was interviewed at that time, he was contained and not a threat. Even Daddy Bush agreed.
But, W had something to prove...and that oil was there for the taking. However, there was a problem. Saddam didn't attack us. Dubya needed an actual reason to go there, so he had to come up with one. He tried many. Remember these? 1) He tried to kill my daddy. 2) Saddam tried to buy uranium in Niger. 3) Saddam was involved with bin Laden. 4) Rape Rooms!
And the one that worked... 5) Saddam has WMDs!
Unbelievably, the general public bought it and off we went.
All during this time, we (liberals) didn't buy it. And when they tried & tried to blur the line between al Qaeda and Saddam, we knew it was all a pile of shit.
Oh, and let's not forget that when they didn't find WMDs, he changed the reason again! Now we are "spreading democracy" Can't ya tell? I always find that bullets and bombs are the best way to spread democracy. (Yes, I am being sarcastic.)
The righties support the troops as long as they keep their mouths shut. Last week, a brave soldier got the guts up to confront Rumsfeld about the lack of armored vehicles. Instead of applauding this young man's courage, the righties investigated who put him up to it! Nevermind that asking the question brought the situation into the light and made changes happen. How dare a soldier ask a question like that! (um, is that what you guys mean by support?)
Next time you see one of those Bush people with a flag or ribbon magnet, remember this:
Bush cut veterans benefits.
Bush opposed a supplemental bill that would have added $1.3 billion to veterans' health care.
Bush cut millions from military children's education funding.
Among those whose families are left out of the Bush tax cut are soldiers serving in combat zones.
Some children of soldiers in Iraq rely on charity.
Bush has yet to attend one soldiers funeral.
I support the troops. I define my support for them by speaking the truth and hoping that they come home alive and well. Bush is lying, people are dying. Now THAT should be plastered on cars.
PS. To the blogger who calls himself "True American." How can you have such an impenetrable loyalty to Bush & Company? Do you think that if you look beyond the flag-waving hype that you won't be a true American anymore? There is nothing more American than questioning your leaders, free speech and dissent. Maybe if we can turn you around, there is hope for the rest. It has to start somewhere. It has to.
Who knows, maybe it already has.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Overwhelmed by the GOP
I'm sure I'll get something out in the next couple of days. In the meantime, your blogs will keep me focused.
Monday, December 13, 2004
It's Time to Stop Being Hit
It is no surprise that the Republicans are sore winners. They have spent the better part of the past month beating their chests, threatening to send to Siberia any Republican who doesn’t toe the line (poor Arlen Specter), and promising everything short of martial law if the Democrats don’t do what they are told.
What’s worse is to watch the pathetic sight of the DLC (the conservative, pro-corporate group of Democrats) apologizing for being Democrats and promising to “purge” the party of the likes of, well, all of US! Their comments are so hilarious and really not even worth recognizing but the media is paying so much attention to them, I thought it might be worth doing a little reality check.
The most people the DLC is able to get out to an event of theirs is about 200 at their annual dinner (where you have to pay thousands of dollars to get in).
Contrast this with the following:
* Total Members of Move On: More than 2,000,000
* Total Attendance at Vote for Change Concerts: An estimated 280,000
* Total Union Members in U.S.: Around 16,000,000
* Total Number of People Who Have Seen “Fahrenheit 9/11”: Over 50 million
* Total Number of You Reading This: Perhaps 10 million or more
The days of trying to move the Democratic Party to the right are over. We lost a very close election (a one-state difference) by running the #1 liberal in the Senate. Not bad. The country is shifting in our direction, not to the right. But the country was attacked and people were scared. They were manipulated with fear. And America has never thrown a sitting president out during wartime. That’s the facts. Oh, and our candidate could have run a better campaign (but we’ll have that discussion another day).
In the meantime, while we reflect on what went wrong, I would like to pass on to you an essay that a friend who works with abuse victims sent to me. It was written by a woman who has spent years working as an advocate for victims of domestic abuse and she sees many parallels between her work and the reaction of many Democrats to last month’s election. Her name is Mel Giles and here is what she had to say…
Watch Dan Rather apologize for not getting his facts straight, humiliated before the eyes of America, voluntarily undermining his credibility and career of over thirty years. Observe Donna Brazille squirm as she is ridiculed by Bay Buchanan, and pronounced irrelevant and nearly non-existent. Listen as Donna and Nancy Pelosi and Senator Charles Schumer take to the airwaves saying that they have to go back to the drawing board and learn from their mistakes and try to be better, more likable, more appealing, have a stronger message, speak to morality. Watch them awkwardly quote the bible, trying to speak the ‘new’ language of America. Surf the blogs, and read the comments of dismayed, discombobulated, confused individuals trying to figure out what they did wrong. Hear the cacophony of voices, crying out, "Why did they beat me?"
And then ask anyone who has ever worked in a domestic violence shelter if they have heard this before.
They will tell you: Every single day.
The answer is quite simple. They beat us because they are abusers. We can call it hate. We can call it fear. We can say it is unfair. But we are looped into the cycle of violence, and we need to start calling the dominating side what they are: abusive. And we need to recognize that we are the victims of verbal, mental, and even, in the case of Iraq, physical violence.
As victims we can't stop asking ourselves what we did wrong. We can't seem to grasp that they will keep hitting us and beating us as long as we keep sticking around and asking ourselves what we are doing to deserve the beating.
Listen to George Bush say that the will of God excuses his behavior. Listen, as he refuses to take responsibility, or express remorse, or even once, admit a mistake. Watch him strut, and tell us that he will only work with those who agree with him, and that each of us is only allowed one question (soon, it will be none at all; abusers hit hard when questioned; the press corps can tell you that). See him surround himself with only those who pledge oaths of allegiance. Hear him tell us that if we will only listen and do as he says and agree with his every utterance, all will go well for us (it won't; we will never be worthy).
And watch the Democratic Party leadership walk on eggshells, try to meet him, please him, wash the windows better, get out that spot, distance themselves from gays and civil rights. See the Democrats cry for the attention and affection and approval of the President and his followers. Watch us squirm. Watch us descend into a world of crazy-making, where logic does not work and the other side tells us we are nuts when we rely on facts. A world where, worst of all, we begin to believe we are crazy.
How to break free? Again, the answer is quite simple.
First, you must admit you are a victim. Then, you must declare the state of affairs unacceptable. Next, you must promise to protect yourself and everyone around you that is being victimized. You don't do this by responding to their demands, or becoming more like them, or engaging in logical conversation, or trying to persuade them that you are right. You also don't do this by going catatonic and resigned, by closing up your ears and eyes and covering your head and submitting to the blows, figuring its over faster and hurts less if you don't resist and fight back.
Instead, you walk away. You find other folks like yourself, 57 million of them, who are hurting, broken, and beating themselves up. You tell them what you've learned, and that you aren't going to take it anymore. You stand tall, with 57 million people at your side and behind you, and you look right into the eyes of the abuser and you tell him to go to hell. Then you walk out the door, taking the kids and gays and minorities with you, and you start a new life. The new life is hard. But it's better than the abuse.
We have a mandate to be as radical and liberal and steadfast as we need to be. The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core, must not be altered. We are 57 million strong. We are building from the bottom up. We are meeting, on the net, in church basements, at work, in small groups, and right now, we are crying, because we are trying to break free and we don't know how.
Any battered woman in America, any oppressed person around the globe who has defied her oppressor will tell you this: There is nothing wrong with you. You are in good company. You are safe. You are not alone. You are strong. You must change only one thing: Stop responding to the abuser.
Don't let him dictate the terms or frame the debate (he'll win, not because he's right, but because force works). Sure, we can build a better grassroots campaign, cultivate and raise up better leaders, reform the election system to make it fail-proof, stick to our message, learn from the strategy of the other side. But we absolutely must dispense with the notion that we are weak, godless, cowardly, disorganized, crazy, too liberal, naive, amoral, "loose,” irrelevant, outmoded, stupid and soon to be extinct. We have the mandate of the world to back us, and the legacy of oppressed people throughout history.
Even if you do everything right, they'll hit you anyway. Look at the poor souls who voted for this nonsense. They are working for six dollars an hour if they are working at all, their children are dying overseas and suffering from lack of health care and a depleted environment and a shoddy education.
And they don't even know they are being hit.
How true. And that is our challenge over the next couple of years; to hold out our hand to those being hit the hardest and help them leave behind a party that only seeks to keep beating them, their children, and the kid next door who’s on his way to Iraq.
P.S. There are only a few hours left if you want to vote for “Fahrenheit 9/11” in the People’s Choice Awards (online voting is cut off at 3pm Eastern Time today). Go to http://www.pcavote.com/voting/film/f01.shtml to vote.
Friday, December 10, 2004
People's Choice Awards Nominates "Fahrenheit 9/11" as "Favorite Film of the Year"
December 8, 2004
May I take a break from our post-election despair to share with you a little piece of happy/silly/cool news?
"Fahrenheit 9/11" has been nominated by the People's Choice Awards as the American public's "Favorite Film of the Year." The five nominees were chosen from a poll of thousands of Americans in mid-to-late November. The other nominees for best film are "Spiderman 2," "The Incredibles," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (with Jim Carrey), and "Shrek 2." It is the first time ever a documentary has been nominated for best film by the People's Choice Awards.
The People's Choice Awards are considered, among all the awards shows, to be the one which most accurately reflects the "mainstream" public opinion in the United States.
OK, now, here's the best part: YOU get to vote! Online. Now. Just go to http://www.pcavote.com/voting/film/f01.shtml, click on the little circle next to "Fahrenheit 9/11" in the "Favorite Movie" category and press the "vote" button. Voting is going on now and continues only through this coming Monday, December 13, at 3:00pm ET, so send an e-mail to your friends and let them know they can vote, too. Winners will accept their awards live on CBS on January 9.
Now, normally I wouldn't make a very big deal out of something like this. It's nice and I'm honored, but it's not exactly the number one priority on any of our minds these days. In fact, when we found out we were nominated over a week ago, I didn't even think to tell you about it or put it up on our website.
But then a group of top Republicans took out a full page ad in USA Today (and placed a similar one in the Hollywood trade magazine, Variety) proclaiming that "An election is over, but a war of ideas continues." The point of the ad was to say that while they, as right wing conservatives, were proud of getting rid of Kerry, there was still one more nuisance running around loose they had to deal with -- me! They also issued a not-so-subtle threat to the Academy Awards voters that, in essence, said don't even THINK about nominating "Fahrenheit 9/11" for Best Picture. And Bill O'Reilly recently bellowed that if the Oscars recognize my work this year, Middle America will boycott Hollywood.
Oops. I guess he spoke too soon. Because now along comes Middle America's favorite awards show, the People's Choice, and the People's Choice this year, along with a Spiderman superhero and a lovable green ogre, is a film that apparently continues to resonate throughout the country. The truth about Iraq, Bush, terror and fear. The election has not altered or made irrelevant, unfortunately, a single one of these issues. That they (and the film that dealt with these issues) are still at the forefront of the majority of the public's minds should give serious pause to Mr. Bush as he brags about a nonexistent "mandate" and begins to spend his "political capital."
He may have been (barely) the people's choice on November 2 (Ohio recount excluded), but now the people get to vote again, this time for a movie. It's about the best we can do right now, and, trust me, it won't be long before we start the real work we need to do to get our country back.
Again, go to http://www.pcavote.com/voting/film/f01.shtml if you want to vote for our film. I promise, if we win, to give a nice and polite speech.
P.S. Please feel free to post or forward this to your friends...
P.P.S. Yes, it's true, I'm on the Barbara Walters people of the year special tonight. Did I cry? You'll have to watch to find out! :-)
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
24 years ago today
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
He constantly lies and then comes up with wild excuses for his behavior.
He hangs out with his creepy friends instead of working, or when he does work he's so incompetent that his friends have to cover for him
Before she met him, her life was good. When they met, he promised her the stars. Now that she's married to him, every part of her life has turned to shit. Her son is gone, she's lost her job and is about to lose her home.
And in the end, he's robbed her of her independence. She can no longer think for herself. She is scared all the time. Her friends are always showing her the facts to convince her that he's rotten, but she can't see it. He's brainwashed her. For her, abuse is the norm. She doesn't remember the way it used to be.
That is the way I see most Bush supporters.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Too much to ask?
1. Clean air, water and soil
2. The best public education system in the world, including early childhood education
3. True free speech
4. Fully staffed (and well paid) police and fire departments
5. Health insurance for every man, woman, and child
6. Affordable college educations
7. Equal pay for women
8. A women's right to choose
9. A fair criminal justice system that puts sentencing back into the hands of judges
10. Common sense drug laws / treatment on demand
11. Abolish the death penalty
12. Protect endangered species
13. Protect our lands from being overdeveloped
14. Support and protect unions
15. Strengthen animal abuse laws
16. Separate church and state
17. Research alternative energies
18. Give tax breaks for/to environmentally sound investments & industries
19. Fine environmental polluters and make them clean up their own messes
20. Allow stem cell research
21. Promote racial, religious, sexual and cultural tolerance
22. Support family farms
23. Shut down factory farms
24. Enact REAL gun control
25. Only send our troops to war as a last resort
26. Don't attack countries that did not attack us
27. Elect only intelligent, honest and admirable politicians
28. Do everything the 9/11 Commission Report advises
29. Overhaul voting process
I'm sure I'll think of many more