Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Absent in Ohio

My sister recently returned home to Ohio from her campus in West Virginia for Winter Break. I teased her about how lucky she was to have the right to an absentee ballot as she wasn't forced in to a GOP "challenge", able to vote in privacy for the candidate of her choice.

Surprised by my comment, she informed me that as an absentee voter, she was in the most unfortunate situation of all. She received her ballot in the mail (along with every other Ohio voter at her university) the day that it was due back in Ohio. The out-of-state student vote from Ohio, (along with many out-of-state votes from Democratic counties in Ohio) simply did not count. A late day Ohio court ruling tried to fix the mistake on election-day by allowing out-of-state voters to come to their regular polling places in Ohio to vote standard before polls closed at 7:30. My sister, (and I imagine any Ohio voter more than 300 miles away) unfortunately didn't make it back to Cincinnati in time to be counted.

In addition 17,500 absentee ballots were simply discarded regardless of which candidate received the vote when Ralph Nader's name was discovered printed on them. (The Nader vote was not allowed in Ohio when fake names were discovered on his petition to be a candidate). Kerry's name was likewise omitted from Absentee Ballots for former Cincinnati residents.

Out-Of-State voters from the Cleveland area were stumped when their absentee ballots didn't quite line up candidate names on punch card systems causing many to actually vote for the wrong candidate.

These absentee errors along with many other suspicious mistakes in Ohio (an error in an electronic voting system that gave Bush 3,893 extra votes in a suburban Columbus precinct where only 638 people voted) has inspired Jesse Jackson to campaign for a "contest of election." The request requires a single Supreme Court justice to either let the election stand, declare another winner or throw the whole thing out.The seven-member Supreme Court is currently dominated by Republicans 5-2.Those Ohio Residents who had the courage to cross the Ohio River for something slightly less conservative were simply counted absent as opposed to absentee when it came time to vote.

And then there were two

With Ridge's departure as head of the Department of Homeland Security the administration is going to have a dramatic new face. I still can't believe Rumsfeld is still around, particularly after the recent 9/11 commission recommendation debacle. Giuliani or a perhaps a Democrat to replace Ridge? Now that's wishful thinking...


If there is a single entity that exemplifies corporate America’s ability to exploit the working class it is Wal-Mart. In corporate terms it is a behemoth out earning both Exxon and GM in revenues. The business model is simple:

(i) find areas that serve a socio-economically challenged population
(ii) ensure the location is more accessible than competing retailers
(iii) offer every necessary product and service
(iv) undercut local retailers

To use an ecological analogy, think of a rock on an inter-tidal shore. The rock is covered in different species like barnacles, crabs, algae and anemones. Everybody on the rock is happy and as time unfolds the rock experiences different events that favor some species and not others. In the end the balance is always changing but the species richness is maintained. Then one day a big ass crown-of-thorns starfish finds this rock and consumes everything. It blocks light so the algae can’t grow, it eats the barnacles and starves the crabs. In the end there is just the rock and the starfish. All the other rocks are also inhabited by starfish. Now what? As soon as there is a new event that kills the starfish there is nothing, just a whole lot of rocks.

This is the problem with Wal-Mart and with the general pattern of conglomerating the planet. The lack of corporate diversity makes it difficult to react to social and economic changes. Challenging Wal-Mart is complex. It’s easy for people like me to say “Boycott Wal-Mart” the reality is that some families can’t afford to shop elsewhere. It’s not that they aren’t willing to support local family owned retailers, they can’t. The resolution lies in changing the global distribution of wealth. I’m not decided on how to accomplish this, and probably never will be but I’m certain that the root cause of many problems, including the rapidly spreading disease that is Wal-Mart, can be solved by addressing inequities.

Monday, November 29, 2004

I feel a draft

It’s time. The majority of America voters support Bush’s foreign policy. Now that there aren’t enough troops for the “battle for freedom” it’s time to fire up the draft and test the average Americans appetite for war. Nobody should be exempt from the draft. The draft should be random and initially call up 1 million healthy men and women between the ages of 18 and 40 for training. No sarcasm here, the US needs more troops and people must understand that decisions have consequences and those consequences must directly affect their lives.

An angry Ukrainian

Semitic religion has become the antithesis of progress

Human progress is being stifled by Semitic religions. For many centuries Judaism, Islam and Christianity have been a cornerstone of society and have contributed to much of our current knowledge. Religion inspired many great thinkers to expand the vault of human thought to bring us to the brink of a consensual understanding on the question of existence.

At some point in history the theories of science and Testaments differed so broadly that there was a split, and that's exactly where we stand today. Ideally the Testaments would be living documents that are updated to reflect human advances. Unfortunately these documents are immune to modification because of the belief they are the word of a single deity and his son. Now we are left with two contradictory schools of thought.

The ramifications of this split are obvious. There are a group of people that believe in changing their opinions as knowledge becomes available and another group of people that believe what is right is always right.

It's this second group that is impeding us from progressive thought. These people create wars, internal conflicts, disparities in wealth and suspicion to further their agenda of power and control. We would be richer without this philosophy masquerading as capitalism driving our society. The rewards of a consensual understanding of existence could be great, they could also be devastating. Don't we all need to question our existence without the cloud of religion distorting our view?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Bryson v Russert

Since Meet the Press was about the 9/11 commission I decided to forego today's episode and instead start a new book. Obviously the President needs to start pressuring Congress to get moving on the recommendations. Do people really think there is some disagreement between Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush on this? If their relationship has been characterized as anything it definitely has not been dissent. According to Bush we have eliminated 75% of Al Qaeda and are well on the way to winning the war on terror. I guess we should think about abolishing the department of defense altogether.

The book I am reading is Bill Bryson's "History of Nearly Everything". I'll write more about it next week.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Hatin' on Tom

Thomas Friedman wrote this in a New York Times Editorial:

"In my next life, I want to be Tom DeLay, the House majority leader.

Yes, I want to get almost the entire Republican side of the House of Representatives to bend its ethics rules just for me. I want to be able to twist the arms of House Republicans to repeal a rule that automatically requires party leaders to step down if they are indicted on a felony charge - something a Texas prosecutor is considering doing to DeLay because of corruption allegations.

But most of all, I want to have the gall to sully American democracy at a time when young American soldiers are fighting in Iraq so we can enjoy a law-based society here and, maybe, extend it to others. Yes, I want to be Tom DeLay. I want to wear a little American flag on my lapel in solidarity with the troops, while I besmirch every value they are dying for."

Anyone that knows the history of how this rule was created can understand that DeLay's actions are beyond comment...

The buckets of life

When discussing racism, sexism, cubism, feudalism or polymorphism I invariably turn to my belief in one fundamental human behavior. Our innate necessity to compartmentalize. Anything we can't define we either fear or ignore. Death is a great example. It's tough to put death in a box so we either rationalize it with mythology or accept our inability to classify it and move on. The universe is another hard to fathom concept. In fact anything that borders on the infinite is a stretch for the mind, like the national debt.

Kierkegaard's three stages of life have always fascinated me. He defined these stages as "aesthetic", "ethical", and "religious". He believed that the only way for man to comprehend the true meaning of life was to attain spiritual enlightenment. I too believe in three stages of life but mine differ slightly to Kierkegards. I propose the "village idiot", "spiritual", "unfortunately I get it" model.

The village idiot is the guy who is ignorant to everything. He makes little money, competes obsessively with his neighbors who also make little money, talks a lot about Nascar, fears outsiders and rejects any conversation that may hint at reality. It's interesting because by my reckoning this guy makes up about fifty percent of the US population. Kierkegaard called them aesthetic but I'm pretty convinced they are just dumb.

The spiritual people are an odd group, their God is money. These guys are the establishment and most of us never even get to meet these people let alone experience their world as a life stage. They probably make up less than 2 per cent of Americans. It's interesting because only very few people move from this stage to experience an "unfortunately I get it" epiphany, but some do. Those people are particularly cool.

Since Kierkegaard was arrogant enough to place himself in the "religious" bucket I'm going to consider myself a member of the "those who get it" club. It's not fun to be in this club. We often consider whether being a village idiot would make life easier. We know that the spiritual people are basically running our lives and making decisions we don't agree with, but we don't do much about it. We drink a lot of red wine, it's a prerequisite, and we often try to make our mind grapple with infinitely challenging concepts like the universe, entropy and George Bush. We are definitely in a minority and many of us have one foot in the village idiot camp but we are striving for something.

Problem is I have no idea what it is.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Revolution in the Ukraine

The outgoing Ukrainian President described the situation in the Ukraine as a "revolution". Since the Ukrainian Supreme court ruled that the election results should be put on hold, citizens supporting the challenger have surrounded key government buildings in peaceful protests.

Many US citizens have similar distrust in the November election results. What will it take for average Democrats to take their outrage to the streets? We are so brainwashed by the illusion of American democracy that people don't want to accept that this country is anything but democratic. The concepts of democracy and capitalism have become so intertwined that people believe them to be the same.

Watch the events unfold in the Ukraine. The tolerance for these protesters will fade and the military will eventually take back control of government buildings. I wonder whether the fight will end there....

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

I always wonder what native American families do on Thanksgiving. Do they re-enact the symptons of smallpox and starve themselves? All you puritans out there have a great day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

No place for violence in sport

After viewing the entire video of the Pistons brawl I must say I'm left shocked and angry. It brought up memories of Bertuzzi's hit on Moore on March 8 in Vancouver during a NHL game. Both were completely unnecessary reaction to a situation. A pro-level sportsman's aggression seems to be heightened by their over-inflated ego. The difference between Artest and Bertuzzi is that one was apologetic, the other seems to have found an excuse to promote a rap video. There were at least 10 scenes during the Pistons brawl that warranted legal charges. Chairs were thrown, punches were flying and heads were kicked. Charge these people with crimes. Janet Jackson's breast and the Monday night football "Desperate Housewives" intro are not reasons for moral outrage. This is.

JFK Reloaded

Maybe you have heard of this video game, maybe you haven't, but it's causing quite a stir in the mainstream media. I bought it. When I tell people the initial reaction is invariably: "I can't believe you bought it, that's sick", followed by "What's it like", followed by "Can I play it?" After playing it for an hour I got bored with trying to recreate the assassination. Instead I would shoot the driver then cull the entire motorcade with head shots. Once that got boring I'd injure the driver so the car would accelerate and crash head on into a tree killing the passengers. Then I started to look at the faces of the people and began to feel uneasy. After all what is it that I'm recreating here? Sure the ballistics analysis and the comparison to the real assassination are intriguing but the idea that a game is simulating a real event down to Kennedy's brain explosion isn't right.

I'm an advocate of gun control and free speech. Games like this reveal that technology increasingly blurs the line between reality and fantasy. Legislation banning games like JFK Reloaded may not be a terrible thing.

Back to Halo II for me, at least I don't recognize any of the people...

"Daily" Dose of Stupid

There are many important issues that absolutely need to be discussed with as many intelligent, thoughtful people as possible. But, especially in these times of crippling awfulness, it is crucial to acknowledge the importance, and inevitability, of sarcasm.

Sarcasm is not just a tool for gen-x-ers to address one another and further suppress their conflicted egos. It is also a mechanism to cope to with the typically mind-boggling insanity that confronts us every day.

I just finished watching The Daily Show – man, that’s funny stuff. In one of their phony news segments, they had a guy questioning various Florida election officials about the question on registration forms asking whether the potential voter is mentally competent or not. If the potential voter answers no, or more importantly, leaves the box blank, then they are not allowed to vote.

I thought that this was an interesting issue, quite worthy of coverage. They even interviewed a woman from the ACLU who gave some very reasonable arguments against the question. But the kicker was, while the phony news guy was listening, he produced a bar of soap, unwrapped it, and ate it. Now that’s comedy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Where do you draw the line?

I agree that stem cells offer limitless potential in the understanding of cell biology but I do find the thought of mixing human stem cells with animal cells a little disturbing. As it stands, the law fails to keep in step with technological advances. If scientists start experimenting with stem cells to create human brain tissue in other animals an ethics catastrophe will ensue. Our system of anthropocentric allocation of rights flies out the window. Do humans deserve more protection than a monkey with a human brain? After all isn't it the brain that distinguishes us from other animals? Scientists with little interest in animal welfare will no doubt exploit these new creations. These scientists will find an unexpected ally in the evangelicals. Believing it is the soul and not the brain that indicates a human these people will find it easier to accept this type of science. They probably take more issue with the concept of cloning. Something I am less opposed to.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Go George!

I must admit I was encouraged by George Bush's behavior when dealing with the detention of his secret service agents at an event in Chile. Now I know the whole "I'm a regular guy" thing might not be an act after all. Maybe it's not the way for a world leader to react but in the same situation I would have done the same thing. Then again I'm not the leader of the free world...

US President George Bush, centre, reaches to pull his Secret Service agent from the crowd after he was blocked from entering the official dinner hosted by Chilean President Lagos during the APEC forum.Photo: AFP

Hunting the hunters

Five men were killed and three wounded when a man was angered by his fellow hunters request to get down from a "deer stand". Perhaps this guy was mentally unstable, perhaps he shouldn't have had a rifle. Wisconsin has some of the most relaxed gun laws of any state. Hunters with a history of mental illness can purchase hunting rifles as there is no state background check and only a cursory federal check on an applicants background. The NRA is one of the most destructive organizations on the planet and has contributed to the preventable deaths of thousands of Americans. The NRA recently lobbied for a Wisconsin law, eventually vetoed by the governor, that would have allowed the possession of loaded, concealed handguns. The NRAs objective is to create a more violent society; populated by angry afraid conservative paranoid white men who believe around every corner there is an opportunity to protect their life and property by blowing someone's head off.

John McCain

McCain, a fiscal conservative, anti-Evangelical, pro-life Republican was on Meet the Press yesterday morning. It was interesting to get his insight into the fiasco concerning the bill to overhaul intelligence. Apparently Rumsfeld is to blame. A letter sanctioned by the Secretary of Defense and written by the chairman of Joint Chefs of Staff was sent to Republican leaders. Those leaders then urged fellow Republicans to vote against the bill. Ironically, at the same time Bush was urging members of the house and senate to vote for the bill.

So why would Rumsfeld not want the creation of this new head of intelligence? Money. Budgetary control is what it's all about. The head of the pentagon doesn't want someone else to be controlling the purse strings. Seems like this is driven solely by Rumsfeld's ego and with complete disregard for the safety of the American people. You have to wonder whether Bush knew of Rumsfeld's intentions.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Nobody left to blame

The Republican controlled Senate has blocked legislation overhauling US intelligence agencies. The Democrats need to sit back, shut up and let the Republicans implode. When a party has this much control it's impossible to play the blame game with the opposition. Instead we are likely to see more and more Republican in-fighting as they try and push a conservative agenda. This is good news for the Democrats unfortunately it's bad news for America. Delays in passing legislation of such high national security importance make the country less safe and increase the potential of a future successful attack.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Cut and run?

I'm coming to the realization the US will inevitably fail in Iraq. Violence continues to plague Baghdad and Mosul. Each day brings news of more setbacks as the battles in Falluja and Mosul seem to have had little impact in quelling the insurgency. The rhetoric of the US and Iraqi governments has been supported with inaction. The battle for "hearts and minds" has been won by the insurgents and Al Qaida.

Withdrawal from Iraq will constitute a failure, persisting with the occupation propels that failure further. I wonder whether Middle-East chaos was the US governments plan from the beginning. I just can't imagine how military and administration planners could be so inept.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Steven Milloy raising my blood pressure again

This guy just doesn't stop. Now Milloy claims a study indicating an increase in deaths associated with smog is bogus. His conclusion is that evil-doers at the EPA are trying to find excuses to make the air cleaner. Those bastards. This study was released THIS WEEK. How the hell could Milloy interpret a study that took months to conduct in a couple of days?

Time to trim the credit limit

Bush has signed an 800 billion dollar increase in the US government’s credit line into law. Republicans still blame 9/11 for a large part of the fiscal shortfall. If we are still feeling the economic impact of an attack that killed 0.001% of the US people, what will happen if there is a more catastrophic incident on US soil? Anyway I don’t really buy that argument, tax breaks for the wealthy and economic mismanagement are to blame for the current economic crisis.

Our debt has risen to 70% of the economy. As a home owner I’m well aware of lenders saying a 40% debt to income ratio is borderline and anything over 50% requires you to seek professional help. Greenspan gets it. He knows that the increasing deficit, and associated debt, is making the dollar weaker and although makes our exports more attractive does nothing to address a serious fiscal policy failure.

Advertising Bigotry

Driving to work this morning I came across a middle aged woman in a 10 year old, white Toyota Corolla; white probably being her favorite color. Attached to her rear windshield were three handwritten signs in large print on letter sized paper. The first read “Bush loves families”, the second “Democrats – communists in disguise”, the third “homos need not apply”. Now say for arguments sake this woman’s name is Joy, she looked like a Joy. Does Joy drive into work each day and her colleagues say: “Hey look at that whacky Joy, I wonder who she hates today?” I just can't fathom what cocoon this woman lives in to think it’s OK to advertise hate.

The irony of Joy is that on her bumper she had a sticker that read “God loves all people”. I guess there wasn’t enough space for the exceptions.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

No Child Left Liberal

With the nomination of Bush advisor, Margaret Spellings, as the Education Secretary there will be the inevitable regurgitation of the merits of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA). Recent studies have found the US will not be the world’s largest economy in 75 years. Current trends indicate China and India will both surpass the US by 2100 and perhaps sooner. Statistics also reveal that for every engineer who graduates from a U.S. college, 40 graduate in China. Considering this, it seems the introduction of NCLBA is a good solution to the problem of increasing student performance across the country. It’s similar to the introduction of the PATRIOT act, at the time when it was touted as reform that would make the country safer it also seemed like the right solution. The reality is different, like the PATRIOT act NCLBA has increased the level of government intervention in citizens’ lives.

Schools are held to federal standards that have given the government unprecedented control over public education. Mussolini said, "At every hour of every day, I can tell you on which page of which book each schoolchild in Italy is studying". Substitute Mussolini for Bush, make the sentence grammatically incorrect, and replace Italy with the US and that’s where we are headed.

Spellings has bi-partisan support, Kennedy and Frist have both remarked that she is a great candidate for the job. Is she really going to have any say in policy? Of course not, like Rice she is a puppet in a bigger game and has been rewarded for her blind loyalty.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Holding Wolfowitz to his word

In a new yorker article Wolfowitz is quoted as stating the following objectives for Iraq.

January 2005 - Iraq will hold elections.
February to November 2005 - Newly elected transitional goverment will write a permanent constitution.
November 2005 - American forces will have trained several Iraqi Army divisions and fifty or more battalions of the Iraqi National Guard (the domestic stability force).
December 2005 - Iraq will hold elections for a permanent fully independent government.

Ambitious? Time will tell.

Oh and anyone looking for a reason from Wolfowitz to kill 1200 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis, here it is: "It is something of a test, We can’t be sure they’ll pass. And they’re not going to pass with an A-plus. I mean, if they do Romanian democracy and the country doesn’t break up that’ll be pretty good."

Describing the fighters

The following words have been used to describe Iraqi's and Americans who are fighting in Iraq:


Insurgents - Rises in revolt against established authority, especially a government.
Terrorists - The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
Freedom Fighters - One engaged in armed rebellion or resistance against an oppressive government.
Revolutionaries - A militant in the struggle for the overthrow of one government and its replacement with another.
Animals - An animal organism other than a human, especially a mammal.
Rebels - To refuse allegiance to and oppose by force an established government or ruling authority.


Troops - A group of soldiers.
Occupiers - To seize possession of and maintain control over by or as if by conquest.
Liberators - To set free, as from oppression, confinement, or foreign control.
Forces - A unit of a nation's military personnel, especially one deployed into combat.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Postcard from Falluja

The war on frivolous lawsuits

Bush has reiterated the necessity to cap lawsuit damages, and has vowed to make reform a priority. I'm willing to bet that capping lawsuits has as much affect on healthcare costs as lowering taxes had on the economy. Not much, if any. The truth is tort reform is another kickback for special interest groups loyal to Bush. American businesses file 4 times the number of lawsuits than individuals but it's individuals that are blamed for the bulk of frivolous claims. Considering attorneys are paid based on the amount won, what incentive does an attorney have to file a frivolous suit?

Corporations don't want profits diminished by their mistakes. When a jury awards damages, more often than not, they are reasonable for the amount of pain and suffering experienced by the plaintiff. Capping lawsuits only punishes victims and rewards corporations.

If this legislation is passed and healthcare premiums decrease I promise to never write another anti-Bush word.

Cheney's CIA

There's a shake up happening at the CIA and anyone who is suspected of having anything to do with the leaks on faulty pre-war intelligence should watch their back. Already Goss is making waves with his inexperienced Republican staff. "Resignations" are coming swiftly and senior agents with much needed Middle-East experience are being pushed out.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Rice Replaces Powell, how bad can it get?

I can't believe Bush is going to ask Rice to be Secretary of State, obviously she was hopeless in her role of mediator between State and Defense but at least Powell was able to be some voice of reason when presented with arguments by Rumsfeld and his posse of neo-cons. Now Rumsfeld will be able to run wild. I guess I could still hold out hope for a National Security advisor with some clout. Since my predictions are always wrong I'll go with Wolfowitz that way I'll be over-joyed when it doesn't happen. I guess nobody turns down the President but I hope she does us all a favor and takes the job teaching in California; maybe she will learn something.

Utopian, Interrupted

I read an article today by Sir Joseph Rotblat, 1995 Nobel Laureate in Peace. The article is a call for ethics in science - an ethical "standard", similar to what we have in medicine with the Hippocratic oath. Rotblat makes the point that we, the modern human race, are experiencing a great disconnect between the advance of pure science - chemistry, biology, etc. - and the advance of social science - economics, politics, etc. This is evidenced by things like our outrageously overblown weapons programs.

Why do we need to continually build new and ever-more deadly weapons of mass destruction when the purpose of these weapons, deterrence, was realized and surpassed decades ago? How many billions of dollars does the USA have to spend on warheads (while telling the rest of the world to cease and desist) to deter the new enemy: terror? How can we wage war on a noun? The solution, as I see it, is simple: we need to lead by example, and we need to focus on the causes of our ills, not the affects.

September 11 happened for one reason: USA foreign policy. It's like daring someone to punch you, then getting pissed when they do. But we have interests in the middle east - all of us understand that. It is not as simple as just getting the hell out. This is where it ties in to the disconnect between social and pure science: we may be technologically advanced; we may be able to send millionaires into space, but we are idiots when it comes to understanding and empathizing with each other.

If we could set aside our hate and prejudice - not because we had to, or were forced to, but because we wanted to, we knew it was right - then the path would become clear. We need to look our aggressors in the eye, and we need to look within ourselves. Almost all the time, our instinct is to assign blame, but this is a totally unnecessary reaction. We need to truly and honestly realize the problem and address the root cause, rather than looking for a scapegoat, a martyr, or some other form of vengeance.

In our attainable future, we can make these words abstracts, we can antiquate the entire concept of war, and we can certainly coexist without murdering each other en masse. "Perfect world" is a phrase that is thrown around so much these days it has become an excuse to stop trying. But isn't that the ultimate goal? Isn't that what we are all striving for? In the end, who we are is simply a combination of two things: how we perceive ourselves, and how we are perceived by others.

Like the gulf in the two worlds of science, this also must be reconciled.

Steven Milloy and Fox News

I have a new target for the wrath of Mochi, his name is Steven Milloy and after reading his articles over the last few months I'm finally at the point where I just have to "out" this guy for what he is.

Before I continue please take the time to read these, written by Milloy and published by the state run news network, Fox:

Enviros Exploit Mother's Day With Mercury Scare
Snack Foods Don't Fatten Kids
Study Blows Smoke on Lung Cancer Causes
Trash-Talking Landfill Safety
Secondhand Smoke Scam

Could anyone so blatantly side with special interests against reputed scientists without fear of editorial retribution at any other major news network? No, of course not. The depth of this guys partisanship and the lack of expertise and understanding of the methods behind each of these studies would most probably lead to him being fired. Not at Fox. All science that doesn't agree with a conservative agenda of wreaking destruction on the environment is junk science to this lunatic.

His latest article attempts to debunk the study by 200 scientists that found global warming will lead to the melting of the ice-caps and the extinction of polar bears by 2100. I loved this opening statement "I'm not quite sure what the future holds for polar bears, but it doesn't appear that any alleged man made global warming has anything to do with it." The problem with Milloy is just like he can't admit living under high tensile power lines is dangerous, smoking causes cancer, junk food causes obesity and fish are high in mercury; he also can't admit there is such a phenomena as global warming. It angers me that Fox has the audacity to give this man an audience and advocate him as an expert.

CSI: Palestine

NEW YORK (AP) -- CBS News has fired the producer responsible for breaking into "CSI: NY" last week for a special report on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death (CNN)

The God Gene

Behavioral geneticist Dean Harper is causing a stir amongst evangelicals with his claim that spirituality is linked to a gene. His findings come on top of a earlier discovery that homosexuality also has a genetic basis. Since the church can't admit that genetics is a science, it's not surprising that they are lambasting Harper's findings.

Be afraid, be very afraid

With Powell out and up to 4 resignations being announced we will see a massive change in the face of the White House. The Bush administration has historically favored the most incompetent for the best positions. I predict Wolfowitz will be named Secretary of State and Rice will be named Secretary of Defense, maybe Larry Thompson for the Homeland Security role. That means Rumsfeld, Powell and Ridge are gone. I won't even guess as to who number 4 will be.

UPDATE: Damn it looks like all my predictions are completely off ... "In addition to Powell, sources said the White House today also will announce the resignations of Education Secretary Rod Paige, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman." I still think it's likely Rumsfeld and Ridge will go, if not Rice will probably resign.

Go right to the biblical authority

I have it on good authority this letter was initially addressed to Doctor Laura, but it definitely makes sense going to Bush. Plus it's great fodder for debating all your right wing conservative evangelical Christian friends:

Dear President Bush,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said "in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man a woman." I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18: 22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25: 44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21: 7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness -Lev. 15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev. 1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35: 2.
clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11: 10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21: 20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11: 6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19: 19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev. 24: 10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20: 14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, Mr. President, and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Bob Jones III Selling Crazy

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America -- though she doesn't deserve it -- a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

Dr. Bob Jones III, president of Bob Jones University, in a letter to President Bush

Carville's Performance on Meet the Press

James Carville was in great form on this mornings edition of Meet the Press. After admitting that he had egg on his face after predicting a Kerry win he literally smashed an egg on his head. Soon after he quipped "the only politician with a mandate is James McGreevey". He came off a little nuts but made some excellent points. He defined some strategies for the future of the Democratic Party and hinted that the DLC shouldn't capitulate to the Republicization of their policies.

Tony Blair was also on this morning. Other than clothing selection, he continues to refuse to differentiate himself with Bush on any of the issues. He seems willing to brush aside opinion polls back home that overwhelmingly disapprove with both Bush and the war in Iraq. To me he looks very different to the man I saw in interviews before the Iraq war. It must be difficult for an obviously intelligent man to align himself with policies that have been and continue to be fundamentally flawed.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

It's viability stupid

After reading Justice Harry A. Blackmun's Row v Wade decision and listening to opinions from both sides I have come to some conclusions. Abortion must be legal until the point at which a fetus can viably live outside the womb. Abortions should only be carried out after the point of viability if the pregnancy threatens the mother's physical health. Anti-abortion proponents debate abortion with a variety of arguments that have a common theme, it's not supported by the constitution and it's murder to kill a "child" from conception.

Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily bases his abortion argument on the use of posterity in the following: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America". Farah argues that posterity in this context means descendents, and therefore unborn. It's an interesting but entirely ridiculous argument to say that the mere potential for future life demands the allocation of constitutional rights. A woman that admitted to thinking about having a child in the future but didn't, could theoretically be charged with the new crime of thought abortion.

Another common argument is that human life begins at conception. By ignoring the religious and mythical "ensoulment" contention an understanding begins to form of the insanity of allocating anthropocentric based rights to a zygote or early stage embryo. A woman who admitted to a miscarriage could be questioned to understand whether she was criminally negligent.

As a society we have an obligation to assign rights equitably. Not giving a woman a chance to terminate a pregnancy is discriminatory. She should have the freedom to make a decision about her body when the pregnancy is unwanted. Unfortunately many state laws disagree with the Supreme Court on the issue of viability and privacy at the core of Row v Wade. Bush's debt to the evangelicals will not be paid unless there are constitional ammendments banning abortion and gay marriage by the end of his second term.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Two Cheeseburgers, Onion Chips and a Side of Death

Almost a year ago, a 350 lb Black Man named Nathaniel Jones was visiting a proud Cincinnati Landmark: The original White Castles: the first location of the restaurant ever built that launched the chain into the cult success that the Beastie Boys continue to praise today.

This visit was special. Nathaniel, the father of two described as "eternally jolly" by his family was dancing an exceptional version of the moonwalk apparently brought on by a small taste of PCP that only a cheesburger could cure. When this dance became disturbing to the clientele, he was approached with weapons by several officers. His large stature was described as a terrifying threat in and of itself. This gave the officers the necessary authority to beat him in to submission and arrest before the four themselves could be harmed by an awkward dance move. Hours later, Jones was dead from the beating. He became the 18th unarmed black man killed in Cincinnati by the police since 1995.

Today on my way to work, I checked the road sign at White Castles hoping for a special to die for.


Lack of common sense at the ACLU

The ACLU fights for the civil liberties of all Americans. I have been a staunch supporter of their protests against the Patriot Act and push for greater separation between search and state. The ACLU needs to pick their battles wisely, in Boston they are currently challenging Logan Airports "controversial" use of behavioral profiling when identifying potential evil-doers. When the ACLU contests programs that are inherently logical it only serves to diminish their standing on other fronts. I can't understand why the ACLU would take issue with police interpreting behaviour as a method for identifying suspects. In subways it is regular commuters who are asked to report suspicious activity, at least the police have some training...

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Saving Ryan's Privates from the FCC

ABC affiliates have chosen not to show Saving Private Ryan citing concern of retribution from the all mighty FCC. "Affiliates in Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and West Virginia said they were worried about running afoul of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington." How did Massachusetts, the bastion of liberal extremism, the epicenter of homosexuality, the Godless state of freeloading socialists get on this list? It must be a typo.

I don't get it. The FCC refuses to assess content prior to it's broadcast as this could be described as censorship, but the unwillingness of the FCC to pre-screen content is censorship in itself.

What's up with those freaky deaky dutch?

Try as I may to ignore the violence in Holland as an anomoly, I can't. I thought those guys smoked dope ,wore clogs and grew tulips, apparently they are also into religious warfare. It's a little egotistical to have an opinion on how to solve religious conflicts. I would like to be able to say "Can't we all just get along?" But the answer to that is obviously "No". Perhaps we are destined to all live under muslim theocracies, strength of conviction is the new world order, flip-floppers need not apply.

Arafat is "officially" dead, Now What?

With Arafat's death comes new hope for fresh PLO leadership that can negotiate peace with Israel and establish statehood for the Palestinian people. But there is little likelihood of that happening. Lately the PLO has been politically impotent. Israel, ironically in retribution for Hamas attacks, has controlled PLO movement for the last 3 years. This has given Hamas leadership the latitude to recruit heavily amongst young Palestinians. Although the PLO will nominate a new leader it is highly improbable that leader will have similar support to Arafat.

To understand better the Palestinian plight watch James Miller's documentary "Death in Gaza". Miller was shot and killed while shooting this documentary, it really is a great testament to his career.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Is the economy doing better?

Call me cynical, but I don’t share the Federal Reserve’s optimism about the economy. Unless of course, everyone else got a raise and I was left out of the loop. I concede that October’s employment figures look promising, but what exactly do they represent? The Economic Policy Institute is a non-partisan think tank that promotes a more financially secure middle class. They have an interesting paper, released in October 2004, that addresses the financial realities middle class families are facing. Their findings mirror my experience, everything gets more expensive but there seems to be little change in take home pay.

I have to wonder as interest rates go up how people with large equity lines of credit and credit card bills are going to be able to make minimum monthly payments. Who didn’t take a second mortgage to avoid PMI? I know I did. At this point I am willing to concede that America’s taxation system is fundamentally flawed, but if Bush institutes a flat tax that places an even higher burden on the middle class, and interest rates continue to rise, we will see an exponential increase in the number of middle class Americans declaring personal bankruptcy. I just hope I’m not one of them.

The Big Thaw

It’s official! The Arctic is melting. Temperatures are rising at twice the average global rate and this means extinction for polar bears and seals and a major “life change” for the indigenous people of the far north. But wait, it’s not all bad news, Reuters Environment Correspondent, Alister Doyle, sees the brighter side in this article titled “Arctic Thaw May Open Ship Lanes, But Risks High”. Thanks Alister I’m so happy we will be able to further erode the ice caps with increased shipping. So what is the Bush administration doing about global warming? “President George Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto protocol in 2001, saying curbs on emissions were too costly, and unfairly excluded developing nations. The White House would not comment on Monday's findings but will await the full report next year.” I wonder what they will say next year…..

Real America

A colleague forwarded me this website today. I have to warn you the language is fairly atrocious, even by my standards, but I agree wholeheartedly with the point. The sources this view cites are legitimate. The article on Massachusetts having the lowest divorce rates does deserve special mention. Every time a conservative friend has been throwing the values issue in my face I have been happy to quote this editorial.

Replacing Ashcroft with Ashcroft II

So Ashcroft is out. No surprise there. I'm going to go out on a limb a make a prediction. Had Bush lost the popular vote but won the election Rudy Giuliani would have been his pick. Since Bush believes his policies have been ratified by the electorate I'd say we are looking at Ashcroft II, Larry Thompson. Thomson would be the nations first black attorney general. I'm not discounting Giuliani as a replacement for Ridge but a lot of favors need to be paid back to conservative right before moderates like Giuliani get any benefit from the second term. Thomson is not good news for the ACLU he's an ardent supporter of the Patriot Act.

UPDATE: I may be wrong, Gonzalez looks set to take the job. Gonzalez advised the President not to follow the Geneva Convention when dealing with Al Qaida and Taliban prisoners. He is also behind the authorization of military tribunals and is considered the fiercest defender of administration secrecy. Gonzalez will be the nations first hispanic Attorney General. He seems to hold fairly moderate Republican views; now there's an oxymoron. The bad news is this takes him out of the running for a Supreme Court position, for the time being. Gonzalez would have supported Row v Wade.

Falluja, The New Samarra

US Marines are fighting pockets of insurgents in Falluja and have apparently captured or killed more than 100 Iraqis after taking 70% of the city. Hang on a second. Weren't there estimated to be between 3,000 and 5,000 insurgents in Falluja? Where did they all go? Probably back to Samarra, the area the marines left to attack Falluja, or to Baghdad. Considering the increase in violence in Baghdad and Samarra over the past couple of days this probably isn't a bad hypothesis.

The US military are feeding the insurgency with these attacks on Iraqi cities. Iraqi resentment of US military presence increases as more civilians are killed and more homes are destroyed. This makes life more dangerous for US troops who seem to be being killed at more alarming rates each day. Rather than describing the problem I guess I should offer a solution. Unfortunately too many mistakes were made early by the CPA. Dissolving the Iraqi military, marginalizing Baath party members, Abu Ghraib, the installation of a CIA linked puppet government and a lack of any cultural understanding have created an environment rich for organized rebellion. Following the inevitable US withdrawal a vacuum will be filled by a ruthless Shiite theocracy in Baghdad and the South, and an autonomous Kurdish government in the North. I hope the sectarian government can be replaced with a secular government over time. That's assuming they don't catch wind of the US led religious renaissance in government.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

In touch with whom?

Professionally I associate primarily with Republicans and one of my conservative southern Baptist friends has introduced me to something called the In Touch Ministry led by Charles F. Stanley. This month's magazine contains the election speech Bush would like to have given but couldn't. Apparently In Touch touches millions of people worlwide primarily by radio with annual revenues of 60 million dollars. This is an excerpt from an article titled "America at the Crossroads - Impacting the 21st Century":

"The Bible never encourages Christians to be wishy-washy; we have the responsibility to stand up, speak up, and be strong about our convictions. The issue is not whether we are uncomfortable; all that matters is what pleases God. He wants His people to exhibit honesty, integrity, and faithfulness to Him. So, while we must never be disrespectful or hateful toward individuals, we should be unwavering in our condemnation of anti-Christian philosophies. Some people consider this a social struggle, but in reality, it is a spiritual battle."

I guess it would have been too ridiculous for Republican faithful at the national convention to be shouting "wishy wash" while waving dish rags.

Hendrik Hertzberg Comment - Blues

The New Yorker has a great opinion piece on the election that summed up a lot of my feelings but also added some value to the post-election analysis and gave us some direction on what to expect from the second term.

"What people on what might be called the cultural blue side, which includes many who voted for Bush, find deeply unsettling about him is not his religious faith—he is hardly the first devout President—but the way he speaks of making decisions with his gut, which, he has often suggested, takes its direction from God. In his second term, given the validation he received on Election Day, he is likely to be more confident—in himself, in his “instincts,” and in Almighty Gut. He will be less inclined than ever to listen to his earthly father, or to his earthly father’s earthly surrogates, such as Colin Powell."

Weekend at Yasser's

Since Arafat is basically dead the Palestinian Authority should start telling their people the truth. Continuing to say he's in a "deep sleep" doesn't cut it when the doctors and the rest of the world seem to realize he has one foot out the door. Misleading the Palestinians is going to make them angrier when the discover the truth; and nobody likes to see an angry Palestinian.

Must admit I never realized Arafat had a wife. I always thought he was more of a guy's guy than someone who would settle down. Apparently Suha was his secretary. I'm not sure what the attraction was, maybe Arafat is a romantic at heart. So Suha appears to be complicit in the Palestinian Authorities cover up of Arafat's true condition. She said Arafat "is well and will return to his homeland." and promised "a revolution until victory."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Real Time.

During the week I'm planning to keep my postings short and, as the vibrator-philic Bill O'Reilly would say, pithy. I hate that word, but then again I hate O'Reilly.

Watched Real Time on "on demand" tonight. I wish Maher would quit saying "I kid the President". The first 500 times it was kind of funny now it's just annoying. It's interesting that I have a new found resentment towards people like Bill Maher. It started at around 7pm as the returns dribbled in on Tuesday November 2nd, 30 minutes before I had been jumping around my house saying Kerry will owe a lot to Michael Moore for this victory after I saw the exit polls on slate. It solidified around 1.30am when I went to bed with a throbbing headache. Now I go around saying why don't people like Moore and Maher just shut the hell up. I'm sure it will pass.

Anyway, I'm planning to write more elongated opinionated pieces on the weekend. I'm sure Tim Russert will keep me flush with material. Now there's a guy Jon Stewart would like. You'd never see Russert in a bow tie.

Taking back the South.

This weekend I came up with an amazing plan to get southern voters to understand it's the Democrats who best represent their "values". I sent my plan to George Soros, but surprisingly he hasn't responded... Since Republicans are tracking down these disciples of morality in church on Sunday and in Wednesday evening prayer meetings, the Democrats should approach them in bars. Sure the churchgoer who frequents a watering hole on a Friday evening is on the moral fringe, but I have to guess they represent enough votes to swing the electorate back to the Democrats in 2008. This task will require time and patience and a substantial stipend for the chosen liberal (most probably me). Open bar "meetings" will be held each Friday in different Southern cities and towns. The objective being to listen and build relationships. Follow up meetings can be arranged with interested individuals but at no time during the Friday events should a liberal agenda be forced on the participants.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Evangelical Christians and the new Western Theocracy.

Carl Rove to Tim Russert on Meet the Press Sunday November 7th 2004.

MR. ROVE: “Well, my understanding is that he [Bush] was referring to civil relationships defined at a state level. He clearly believes that states have the right to define such things as the right to visitation in the hospital or inheritance rights or benefit rights. Those ought to be up to states. But he does believe very fervently that 5,000 years of human history should not be overthrown by the acts of a few liberal judges or by the acts of a few local elected officials. Marriage is and should be defined as being between one man and one woman.”

Bush's plan to seek a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is troubling, but more worrisome was Rove’s reference to 5,000 years of human history. This wasn’t a reference to recorded history but to the date of creation. Rove is warning any non-God-fearing Christian that times are about to change. Rove’s use of the word “few” is to let the American people know that anyone not agreeing with their policies are firmly in the minority. Bush has his evangelical mandate and he intends to use it.

Prior to November 2nd, I though a lot about Sistani taking power in Iraq and the subsequent installation of a Shiite theocracy. Now my greatest fear is the further permeation of an Evangelical Christian theocracy in America. The proposed administration changes will likely see promotions for the Neo-Cons, including Wolfowitz and Perle but will also see many favors paid back to Christian conservatives aka the Theo-Cons. Theo-Cons, like James Dobson of the Focus on Family Group, are already pressuring the Senate majority leader to reconsider whether Arlen Specter should be appointed as the head of the judiciary committee, following his comments on judges who would overturn Row v Wade. Make no mistake, the Evangelicals take full responsibility for Bush’s win and have every intention of claiming their prize.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The reason why...

This election became a referendum on values. Democrats were demolished by the RNC grassroots movement that worked hard to ensure Christian conservatives voted on Tuesday, and they did. While Kerry refocused his campaign on Iraq, Bush hit on an issue that resonated strongly with mid-western and southern voters. Interesting how the Republicans were able to use the Democrat slogan “this is the most important election of our time” to energize Republicans. Assuming there is no Diebold conspiracy, Bush won. Considering he improved on the result in 2000 he won well and has a mandate. By a majority the American people chose to ignore , the economy and healthcare in favor of protecting their perceived “values”, and at the same time giving the Republicans a majority in the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court. Young people did not turn out to vote in record numbers, that won’t happen unless a draft is reinstituted. Until low income earners in red states have a fundamental understanding that the Democrats best represent their interests and that tax breaks for wealthy Americans only deprives them of essential services the Republicans will continue to dominate US politics.

Michael Moore, MoveOn.org, the DNC, P-Diddy, Rock the Vote, and the many other celebrities who involved themselves in this election did little to help John Kerry. Considering the popular vote and the record turnout I would say that the perception, amongst mid-western and southern voters, that Kerry is part of the liberal elite made Republicans more enthusiastic to vote against him. Democratic grass roots campaigns to energize the base are not enough. The base needs to be extended into states where Democrats should do well but don’t.

We didn’t see this coming, it was impossible to predict that the protest vote wouldn’t be against George Bush but instead be against John Kerry. The backlash against John Kerry can in large part be blamed on ruling on the legality of gay marriages. As dubious as this seems, it gave the Republicans the ammunition they needed to misinform Christian conservative voters across the country that a Kerry win would result in the federal support of gay marriage. As their children die in , they live without healthcare, without adequate education, they have low paying jobs and little prospect of retiring before 70, residents of the south and mid-west should ponder whether a bigoted protest vote against a group of fellow citizens was worth 4 more years Bush.

Where to now? I guess I could just shut up and reap the “rewards” of a Bush Presidency. Perhaps not.