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Journal: Venezuela gives US cheap oil deal 1

Journal by Libby Liberal

Venezuela gives US cheap oil deal

Officials from Venezuela and Massachusetts have signed a deal to provide cheap heating oil to low-income homes in the US state.

The fuel will be sold at about 40% below market prices to thousands of homes over the winter months.

Complete story

Given the Bush administration's deep ties to the oil industry and the idea in America that the "principle" of capitalism is more important than human life, I wonder what this means from a political perspective, especially given the rancor between the two administrations recently?

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Journal: Rep. Murtha and the Bush Administration 7

Journal by Libby Liberal

This news about Murtha in the U.S. Congress is pretty widespread now, and I remember seeing a clip that made me pause and think about something.

Somebody in the Bush administration was speaking about Murtha's comments and said something to the effect of "Murtha has not explained how a withdrawal would make America safer".

But, isn't part of the problem here that being in Iraq in the first place didn't make America any safer? The recent NewsMax story blowing a few minor comments way out of proportion not withstanding.

I also find it ironic that the U.S. turned Iraq into a terrorist-plagued anarchy and is now using the excuse of the presence of terrorists to beat back critics. I'd be interested in knowing how many terrorists versus insurgents there really are, however. I hear a lot of reports about U.S. and Iraqi military units being bombed and civilians being injured or killed as a result, but it seems to me that, just like when the U.S. does it with much, much greater volume, that's collateral damage in a legitimate war act on a military target.

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Journal: The French Problem, Honestly 1

Journal by Libby Liberal

France has a policy on immigration which basically goes like this:

"You are not an African-French, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Chinese immigrant, etc. You are French."

The idea is nice. There is no official recognition of races or religions, everyone is the same. As far as the government is concerned, you're a French person no matter what color your skin is or which church you go to.

Unfortunately, individual people do not always see eye-to-eye with their government, even if the government seems to have a pretty good idea. Some people, for example, are racists. Others hate Muslims. Still others simply hate anyone, no matter what, who can't trace their French ancestry back to the dawn of European civilization.

Naturally, if you don't recognize races, relgions, etc. you can't recognize bigotry against these things. After all, if everyone is just French, there is no racism. You can't really be racist against yourself in any significant way.

So, the problem becomes that while the French government says "everyone's on a level playing field", the French populace is free to do whatever it wants. If you're a black man trying to get a job at a company run by a white supremacist, you can be denied on the grounds that you're black because you're not black, you're French, so you can't be protected against discrimination because of your skin color. The same goes for Muslims, Irish, Chinese, Jews, etc.

Of course, while all the bigots are running their mouths about how the media isn't calling a Muslim a Muslim in this little debacle, they're ignoring the much more important point that the media is missing: these people are angry for a very good reason.

Without any kind of protections, they go through the paces of education and labor only to be denied jobs on the grounds that they're Muslim or black or whatever else. No recognition of traits which can be used in discriminatory practices means no protection from those practices. They can't vote to change the problem because they have no candidates from their stock who will work toward that goal because those candidates can easily be shut down and locked out by the majority. They can't speak out in the media because they can't afford the airtime, and they have few, if any, representatives to speak for them.

Now, I'm not condoning the actions being undertaken in France right now. If you have problems, the best way to resolve them rarely involves going on an anarchic rampage like a bunch of common thugs. However, I am pointing out that to call them "Muslim rioters" as if the key here is that they're Muslim is both disingenious and dangerous. There are many, many problems in France for all immigrants, not just Muslims, and the common thread here is not Islam, but the fact that they can be and are regularly discriminated against for their religion.

But, of course, even though the media has begun to cave to the Right in calling them "Muslim Rioters", that vitally important cultural aspect of the French integration program will never be made public on most of the news reports. It's so much easier to identify them as "ragheads" and write them off as dirty brutes. Then, just as with Watts, you don't need to look deeper than the violent rage at what actually caused it, you can just storm in with guns blazing and wipe them out, smug in your certainty that you are, in fact, better than "them".

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Journal: Rampant Dishonesty in Politics 1

Journal by Libby Liberal

And, naturally, since the controlling philosophy right now is one of conservatism, that's the philosophy in which there is the most dishonesty (or at least where it's most obvious).

For example, in the last week I have seen not one, but two conservative posters on slashdot post a list of "liberals" or democrats who made quotes about Iraq's threat in response to charges of inaccurate intel and the misleading way in which it was presented to the American public. This, of course, sounds nice when you're on the defensive in the matter, but the thing it does not address is this one simple fact:

George Bush is the only one out of all of those people who actually started a war.

After all, I mutter under my breath that I'm going to do nasty things to people who make me mad all the time. That, however, does not make me culpable for, for example, an actual murder unless I'm the one who actually did it.

Another common theme is in the abortion debate. I'm fairly uncertain on the issue, but one thing that drives me hard left on the matter is the outright lies that the religious conservatives use as scare tactics. For example, it is not, in fact, a medical fact that abortion increases the risk of any type of cancer. It is also not a fact that a properly performed abortion increases the risk of future pregnancy complications.

Contrast this with the actual fact that pregnancies can and do damage critical portions of the reproductive system making it dangerous for women to have future pregnancies lest they or the baby suffer serious medical complications or even death.

Another lie is the comment that makes the rounds regarding the medical necessity of an abortion. To the contrary, numerous complications including tubal pregnancies and problematic development of the fetus can endanger the very life of the mother and create a situation in which a pregnancy brought to term will almost certainly result in both a still birth and a massive risk of death or serious, permanent injury for the mother.

This is hardly the end. Whether they're making comments about science being "religion" and evolution being nothing more than faith, or claiming that there's no evidence that humans influence global warming, it just seems to me that the hardline right's agenda is primarily focused on spreading disinformation and slander rather than making an intelligent, well-designed case for it's policies.

Despite my chosen name, I am not exactly a cheerleader of the left. However, when I evaluate the left's claims and the right's, I find a strong tendency in the right, and it becomes worse the farther right you move, to supress facts, spread disinformation, and sling slander and libel.

If I have to choose between the two, and they're all equal otherwise, the right's seeming reliance on lies necessitates an alignment with the left.

I think that as people become more aware of the right's real agenda, and the way it is pushing the more hardline policies, they will vote back toward the left. At that time, I will not be surprised to see the disinformation level swing back toward the left which will slowly drive the moderates right again. It seems like a recurring cycle, and we're just at the high point where the extremist right wing is driving the debate and, hopefully, alienating the moderate and intelligent voters in the country.

We will see next year one way or the other, I suppose.

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Journal: Drive An SUV Today, Kill Your Children Tomorrow 2

Journal by Libby Liberal

Drivers unaware of rear blindspots accidentally backing over more small children, experts say.

I've never met an SUV driver who needed to be driving an SUV, and the same problem affects a large number of pickup drivers as well. In fact, just for fun, I ran my own little non-scientific experiment the other day. In a matter of a quarter mile, I was passed by six SUVs. None of them had more passengers than the driver, none were hauling anything, and none were towing anything. On one of them, an Escalade, I noticed that the tires were even something more akin to the sort of tires you would see on a sports car meant to be driven on a dry road at high speed.

They always seem to be driving these vehicles for no particular reason. I suspect it's a matter of the Jones's and snake-oil salesmen saying the SUV was "just what they needed for their family".

It's sad, but it's not surprising. This is the sort of thing that happens when you make decisions based on such ostentatious and superficial qualities.

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Journal: Posting On Slashdot is a Bitch These Days

Journal by Libby Liberal

I used to post AC, but anymore you have to wait as much as a half hour before you can post another comment. Now I get an account and log in and find out it's not much better.

Am I not the only person here who thinks that if your bread and butter is a site where people have discussions, sometimes spirited and rapidly developing discussions, it's probably not a good idea to make it annoyingly hard for people to post?

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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