The current trend in government is to promise big things and no new taxes. We've seen it in Texas, where the Republican majority took YEARS to come up with a working way to continue financing a basic service -- the public school system -- because they also promised to cut the taxes people pay to support this system. This story from San Antonio is evidence of the same political sleight-of-hand happening in the federal government:
SAN ANTONIO — Fort Sam Houston has received 1,300 utility service termination notices for delinquent bill payments, which officials blamed on a major budget shortfall.
CPS Energy warned commanders at the post to pay $4.2 million by Wednesday or risk losing power. The post is three months behind on its bills, but both Army and utility officials said the two parties were talking and no cutoff was imminent.
"Who would imagine us not paying our bill?" said Col. Wendy Martinson, Fort Sam Houston's garrison commander. "I worry about it. I can't sleep at night."
The post, which trains medics, faces a $26 million budget shortfall this year — a problem that officials said is symptomatic of the financial woes facing posts worldwide.
Only commands at Fort Sam Houston funded by the Army Installation Management Agency are affected, which excludes Brooke Army Medical Center.
The installation management agency is wrestling with a $530 million deficit and is awaiting funding from a $94.5 billion supplemental appropriations bill. The Senate is set to vote on a revised supplemental bill following House approval earlier this week. The funds are intended for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as hurricane relief.
So essentially, it sounds like the military is diverting money from every piggybank they can at home to pay for wars abroad. And despite the incredible levels of military spending in recent years, some military bases at home are barely keeping the lights on. Just more evidence that we're overextending ourselves fighting a war on the abstract concept of terror...
Read this post on the ABC news website. And then check out the first few comments from all the knee-jerk patriotic I-just-saw-this-on-Fox-News-at-the-Cracker-Barrel people who have absolutely no concept of how scary this is.
If you're not scared yet, you damn well should be.
Open government and a free press are what keeps our mass society functioning as a (quasi-)democracy. Sadly, we've seen for years that the Bush administration has little respect for these concepts, and in fact, has everything backwards -- enforcing governmental privacy and spying on the people, rather than upholding individual privacy and transparent government. (As one of my favorite lines from the West Wing goes, "Republicans want small government. Just small enough to fit into people's bedrooms.")
Of course, the Bush administration is well within its right to dissuade people from talking to the media, especially about issues of secrecy and national security, because that's what they signed up for. However, any governmental entity is CLEARLY out of bounds if they think they have the right to monitor calls in any way, intimidate a reporter, or file lawsuit on the press in the name of "national security" (which can encompass just about ANYTHING these days).
In this case, the government is tracking who reporters are calling from ABC News and other news outlets (and I'm SURE it doesn't stop there, they have the motive, opportunity, and "national security").
Meanwhile, I wonder if any of these guys has fucking seen Osama lately?
Definitely the most disturbing news I've heard in a long while, although it totally doesn't surprise me. Say goodbye to any information from your government other than what they want you to see.
Reporter's rights are so important they are spelled out in the Bill of Rights, and protected by shield laws and sunshine laws that protect the anonymity of sources and reporters' rights to seek information (To educate yourself on Reporters Privilege, start here). Even if the government is allowed to track who we call for national security purposes as long as they don't listen to content, they would not be able to target reporters' phones. If they track every call, they are likely to see the ones they make to family, friends, and sources for other stories that have nothing to do with national security.
In short, this makes me sick. Canda, anyone?
PS -- please spare me the argument about how troops are dying for reporters' right to know. I'm 99.9% sure that no one has reported troop movements, previewed assault or defense strategies, or given away any other information that has led to US soldier's dying. Troops are dying because they're over there for a trumped-up war and happened to be driving down a road with an improvised explosive in the dirt. Iraqis in this guerilla war are not checking CNN to find out what time the tanks will come down the road to Basra today.
Kenneth Dale Mason, Jan. 23, 2006 - Mar. 29, 2006 My family got some very difficult news last week -- my sister's 2-month-old son, named after her father, died early Wednesday morning...a mysterious and tragic incident of sudden infant death.
The funeral was last Friday. I took off work and convinced my mom to make the drive with me to Greenville, east of Dallas -- at first she didn't want to go for some bullshit reason (which really would have pissed off everyone), but luckily I was able to convince her because I was going to do all the driving.
We got there just in time for the service. I held my sister's hand as we walked down the aisle toward the little casket and the pews in front. I thought about a lot of things -- how awful it must have been for my sister and her husband to answer questions from the police, how gruesome it is to have to autopsy a baby (as they do in these cases), and how I wished that I wasn't seeing my nephew for the first time in a casket. He looked sweet and peaceful, like he was sleeping, and had the little Winnie the Pooh bear I mailed to him when he was born.
I've had trouble falling asleep for a few nights since then. Just a few days before this happened, I had a dream (and it's rare that I remember dreams when I wake up) about leaving a baby alone and coming back to find it dead or gone. We stayed the night at my sister's house -- the first time in many years that my family has slept under the same roof, which went better than I expected, so it was comforting. I wish we could have stayed longer, though. For now, I'm settling on calling my sister a lot (especially when her husband is at work and their other son is in school) and making plans to visit her again this summer.
So, I'm a nerd girl. Which is why I think this picture is awesome:
My level 60 mage in World of Warcraft is ranking up nicely and getting some cool gear, including these scary-looking horns I was able to buy today. Not important in itself, I was just imagining a world where you start wearing really ridiculous hats to signal to others that you command some sort of respect on your local dung hill. Hah.
From this trailer, it looks like "Snakes on a Plane" is definitely about...well, you can guess. I was kinda hoping the title wasn't a completely literal description of what the movie will contain. I'll still watch it of course...but I really hope they fix some of the bad CG work seen in this trailer! (Look for the part where a snake comes out of a fat lady's blouse).