Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why We Fight: The Q & A

So going to see this film once I get back from the weekend, but here's a little snippit from an interview in the Village Voice:
The film argues that the forces now at play in Iraq aren't a few years old or 15, but 50 or 60. Why is that perspective so rare even among progressives in the U.S.?

There's a tendency to lay all our problems at the feet of George W. Bush, to want to see him as taking a radical departure from the traditions of U.S. foreign policy. But Bush wasn't born overnight: He's the product of decades of movement by this country away from its origins and ideals, and toward something more aggressive, more arrogant, more imperial. The Iraq war certainly isn't the first time that the reasons we were given to go to war have turned out not to be the real reasons why we went. Ultimately I think it's a political distraction for us to be obsessed with Bush or any other single figure. The larger forces that the film examines are those—including the military- industrial complex—that are undoing the very fabric of the democracy we're fighting for. It's what Eisenhower meant when he said, "We must avoid destroying from within that which we are trying to protect from without."
It'll be playing at the Laemmle Sunset 5 starting Friday.

Cell Phones & the Spanish-American War

In our quest for 'more efficient' government (which does not mean 'privitize'), comes this completely weird story:
3 Percent Fee On Cell Phones Started 107 Years Ago
Call To Repeal Tax Under Way

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There is a call to repeal a cell phone tax most people probably don't even know they are paying, NewsChannel5 partner ONN reported.

Anybody who has ever tried to decipher a cell phone bill knows how tough it can be. One of the charges is a 3 percent fee on every cell phone bill in America. The origin of the tax predates the invention of the cellular phone by nearly a century.

Annie Brinkman and her friend, Stacey Lemle, don't know it, but every time they use their cell phones, they are supporting the war effort -- the Spanish-American War.

The 1898 war involved Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders.

The fee began as a luxury tax on phones at the turn of the 19th Century. And we're all still paying for it today.

Phone bills don’t specify that the tax originates from the Spanish-American War. It is labeled as the federal excise tax, which amounts to 3 percent of every monthly bill.

"When you say it's a federal excise tax, you know, most of the time, oh it's the federal excise tax," said Laura Merritt of Verizon Wireless. "And that's just understood that it's a tax you pay. Where exactly those funds go is something that's a mystery to all of us."

It's not such a mystery anymore. And now, at least three federal courts have ruled the tax illegal. Many cell phone companies support a repeal of that tax. But they say they are caught in the middle.

"We're required to continue collecting that tax from our customers until the IRS tells us to stop doing that," said Merritt.

Some lawmakers are demanding cell phone companies stop collecting the tax and refund three years worth of fees.

But for now, every time you make a cell phone call, you'll continue to pay for a war fought more than 107 years ago.
As opposed to using your cell phone and not supporting the current war because today's Republicans think you can finance multiple wars while repealing taxes. Though you have to wonder how people will react when a tax is specifically designed to support a war...

According to the Web site, you can ask the IRS for a refund of up to three years of past taxes. You can also contact members of Congress to ask them to repeal the tax altogether.
Yeah, you can ask... but that may just get you labeled as a 'trouble maker' and who needs that at tax time.

(thanks to Gizmodo for the story!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Rude Boy

The Rude Pundit tells us what he thinks about Al Gore's "speechifying" yesterday. (Warning: He is as rude as advertised, and I, for one, thank him for it.)

Why We Fight: Redux

Eugene Jarecki was on the Daily Show last night and I have to say...he seems like a thoughtful dude: I am really, really looking forward to seeing this film.

From the website:
"Frank Capra made a series of films during World War II called WHY WE FIGHT that explored America's reasons for entering the war," Jarecki notes. "Today, with our troops engaged in Iraq and elsewhere for reasons far less clear, I think it's crucial to ask the questions: 'Why are we doing what we are doing? What is it doing to others? And what is it doing for us?'"
Those Films Capra made? Apparently produced at Fox & Disney.

It's a magical world, isn't it?

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Medicare Drug Program: Dream and Nightmare"

Whoops, the Bush Administration just lost NPR's Daniel Schorr because of the Medicare debacle - now officially a fiasco. Have a listen...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Why We Fight

Just heard about this movie, and wondering if folks know anything about it?

Starts on the 20th, apparently...
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Why did Dwight D. Eisenhowser hate America so much?