Friday, February 27, 2004

Friday Cat Blogging



I don't know if it was Calpundit who started this trend, but I know it's totally dope! Get some! Check out that fat-assed Inkblot! Too funny. Getting sleepy already...





Calpundit's cat Inkblot is so fat and lazy and relaxed-looking, he reminds me of Fatso the fat-arsed Wombat - unofficial and beloved mascot of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. I'm not sure how he came to be, but I think he was popularized by the two funny guys covering the Games for Channel 7 in Sydney, Roy and HG. Those guys are hysterical.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Gettin' Some Love From Salon's King Kaufman

King Kaufman of Salon.com writes (I think a daily?) column called King Kaufman's Sports Daily. In general, I'd say he does a decent-to-good job. I probably agree with him...30% of the time, but his stuff is still semi-interesting to read. That's tough, methinks, especially in the sports writing community. It's a rare occasion when I can read something, disagree with it, and still respect the writing. The reason for that is because I read so much Republican/GOP/Bush argument and so much of it is total bunk - so completely dishonest. But that's a story for another day.





A couple of days ago Kaufman wrote about ESPN's new reality show, Dream Job, that was being hosted by Stuart Scott. He subtitles his article with this little ditty:


ESPN to its talent: You can be replaced. "Dream Job" shows that any untrained bozo can be as annoying as Stuart Scott.


Of course, I disagreed with him. I think Stuart Scott is probably the second best sportscaster on ESPN, if not the best, and not annoying at all. So, I wrote something, and he posted it - edited for viewing pleasure, of course.





Here is a link to a short Stuart Scott article in Black Enterprise magazine. And here is a very cool audio stream from the Tavis Smiley's show on PBS.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Awful Waffle



Marshall has a post on the waffling of Kerry and Bush. In order to refer to such waffling, I think we should commandeer an old southern phrase for political purposes of The State - The Awful Waffle.

So, you would have left Saddam Hussein in power?

This is a favorite talking point, or talking question, of Republicans. Here is the definitive answer to this ill-premised question:


Actually, I'd prefer to have 550 American soldiers and 10,000+ Iraqi civilians alive and well, rather than dead, so they could answer this question for you. But we all know that is not going to happen now. These people are dead, and there is no way to bring them back. Now, all across America, families struggle to repair their lives and forge ahead without their loved ones - sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, uncles, auts - all gone - forever - for what? No amount of rhetoric, no amount of lies, and no amount of ill-premised questions can bring back the innocent Iraqi civilians and our fine young men and women who were led to believe they were fighting a war of necessity, not a war of oil conquest. And I mean no disrespect to the valiant men and women who went to Iraq to fight Bush's War for Oil and came back with fewer body parts than they left with. These brave people will lead a life-long struggle due to this ill-fated war. We should all be looking for ways to compensate these people for the tremendous efforts they have extended our country in the name of national defense. They were called to duty and acted bravely. They were not politicians - they were citizen soldiers - and they did what they were ordered to do - follow orders - follow the chain of command. True patriots, in every sense of the word. I urge everyone in our audience to think not what your country can do for you, but think what you can do for your country's veterans. More than any chickenhawk in The White House, more than any chickenhawk member of Congress bent on sending innocents to die for oil, more than any flag-waving, liberal-bashing talk-show host, our veterans are our true patriots. Remember that next time you read another headline about Bush cutting Veteran's benefits.





And in case you are just repeating a Bush talking point, a talking question, and are not sure why your question is ill-premised, let me explain for you, and anyone else in the audience who might have been swayed by it: To suggest that anyone who was against this illegal war also approved of keeping Saddam Hussein in power is bold deceit and slander of the worst kind. Many of us have known about the horrors of Saddam Hussein for many years. Regardless, many of us believed that upholding the rule of domestic and international law and maintaining the trust of the American people was more important, more important, than removing Saddam Hussein from power immediately. If the case was made to attack Iraq based on humanitarian grounds, I'm sure the American people would have considered with the utmost attention. Would the American people agree that an attack on a sovereign nation which would cost hundreds of American lives was worthwhile? I don't know. I believe the world community could have put enough pressure on Saddam Hussein, or any dictator around the world for that matter, to either remove him from power or get him to respect internationally-established human rights standards. I still believe that. The Bush Administration didn't want the world community involved in Iraq because the Bush Administration didn't want to divvy up the spoils of war - those illustrious oil fields sure to bring massive wealth to companies like Halliburton for decades to come - if the Bush Administration can only delay elections long enough for American oil companies to buy-up control of the Iraqi oil and financial infrastructure.


Take that, bad guy.

Enter Mr. Nader, Again

An editorial in the WaPost this morning rips Nader's policies without any backup. Check the following hawk sequence:


Asked whether the Iraqi people are better off without Saddam Hussein, Mr. Nader rejected the premise of the question -- he said the problem of Saddam Hussein should have been resolved after the first Gulf War -- but then went on, disturbingly, to suggest that they are not, citing postwar problems with food, electricity and security.


Why is it disburbing to suggest that Iraqis are not better off now than when Saddam was in power? You'd have to have your head stuck in a hole - or buried in The Washington Times - to think that Iraq is as rosy a place as the Bush Administration paints it to be. Take the following except from a recent New York Times article on the state of hospitals in Iraq - post-Saddam Iraq, that is:


At Baghdad's Central Teaching Hospital for Children, gallons of raw sewage wash across the floors. The drinking water is contaminated. According to doctors, 80 percent of patients leave with infections they did not have when they ... Doctors say they have been beaten up in the emergency room. Blood is...


Ummm....yeah, you get the idea of how wonderful post-Saddam Iraq is.

Goethe-Institut - Washington, DC

Caught a flick at the Goethe-Institut downtown tonight. The Goethe center was rockin' - very nice, modern, big-'ol theatre with seating for 100+ people it seemed. Puple theatre seats - that's gotta count for something. Great downtown location. Pleasant atmosphere. Etc.





The movie, however, sucked. Unless, of course, you're into watching an at least slightly-unrealistic story of a spoiled child-come adult junky writer who loses her mind and her place to live when the Berlin Wall falls. I like the idea of looking at the fall of the Berlin Wall from the 'other' point of view, but this flick was typical, I figure, of why people who hate independent flicks - hate independent flicks. Dark, slow scenes that go nowhere - 90 minutes of incessant smoking, drugs, drunkenness, fits of rage, and abstract imagery that doesn't work. Nope. That's a two thumbs down. Die Unber├╝hrbare is name of the the flick - yep - that's No Place to Go in English for all you cretins. :D

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Situation FUBAR

The Nation covers the horrific state of affairs in DRC right now. Rape, torture, murder, and lawlessness that not even post-war Iraq could match. For those Republican shills screaming about an Iraq invasion on humantarian grounds, how about a little love for our neighbors in Africa?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Instant Runoff Voting

The DC Institute for Policy Studies came to speak at a Dennis Kucinich/Green Party information session a few months back, and that's where I first got an explanation of the term IRV (Instant Runoff Voting). It's a wicked-cool concept that purports to remove the 'spoiler' effect of any 3rd party candidates - as best I can tell, it does. I'll give you my very inexact explanation of how it works:


  • If there are four candidates running for President, you can vote for your favorite candidate as your first choice, your second-favorite candidate as your second choice, and so on.

  • After all the first-choice votes are tallied, if your first choice candidate fails to receive a certain percentage of the vote, then your second choice candidate will be used.

  • If your second choice candidate fails to receive a certain percentage, then your third choice candidate will be used, if you chose to vote for a third candidate.

  • If you choose to not vote for a particular candidate at all, then you can do so (or not do so). This means you will never cast a vote for George Bush, for instance, either directly or indirectly!


OK, if you're not too confuzed by this confuzing explanation, consider the impact. I could vote for Ralph Nader for President first, then vote for John Kerry as a second choice, and never choose to vote for George Bush. This means, in effect, that it will be impossible for Nader to 'steal' a Dem vote, thus rewarding Bush the Presidency via a split vote. How cool is that?!





Of course, tallying the votes is more complicated, but isn't it worth the effort? I think voter participation would skyrocket if we did something like this. Many municipalities and even some states (I think) use IRV to great effect already. There are several organizations who have been working to make IRV a reality - I don't know which one is most prominent, but here are a few:

  1. The DC Institute for Policy Studies
  2. The Center for Voting and Democracy
  3. Instant Runoff Project
  4. InstantRunoff.com by the Midwest Democracy Center
  5. Coalition for Instant Runoff Voting in Washington (State)


This blog has a very simple example of how an IRV might look. Here is a very cool interactive Flash animation of IRV that uses the Florida 2000 debacle as an example of votes cast.





Whoops. Here is some stuff that makes IRV only look good until one of the minor parties becomes threatening as a not-so-minor party. Plus, more election methods?! The American people are too stupid to figure out 2+2! More methods?! Yarrrrgh! Well, we should check out all available options.

CSPAN Website Down

That's odd. I know that the Nader Press Conference was receiving a lot of attention, but I wonder what else might be going on? A little DOS attack, perhaps?





UPDATE: Well, she's back up. No reports yet what happened. Maybe it was my own access?

Run Ralph, Run!

For the record, I'm glad Ralph is running. I'm not sure yet if he'll get my vote - that's where things get complicated - but people trying to stifle his dissent is....what? Hypocritical? Horrific? Atrocious? Anti-American? GOP-like? Bush-like? Ashcroft-like? Republican-like? Nazi-like? Cowardly? Us liberals have been crying about the crushing of dissent under Bush and his crew for years now, and now some of 'us' are actually trying to crush someone who dissents from our POV. It's just too comical to be real.





UPDATE: Nader is saying all the right things. The Dems should be very scared. I can see a lot of Dems going the Nader route - not limited to Dean and Kucinich voters. Check out his press conference via CSPAN. Also, I feel vindicated for what was my supposition that the only reason Nader was running was because McAuliffe and the rest of the Dem establishment would not ever come to the table of negotiation. Would not even come to the table. Talk about ego. It's the good 'old GOP tactic of slime and defend. Call Nader an egomaniac when it is really the Dems who are the egomaniacs. Too funny.





UPDATE: People who are apoplectic about Nader's decision to run for office seem to think that he also has the ability to pull the lever on the voting machines as well. Last time I checked each American citizen only had one vote, and each citizen had to explicitly cast said vote for a candidate. I would think it obvious by now, but Gore didn't automatically get everyone's vote in 2000 just because he decided to run for the Presidency. Nader is just a presidential candidate, not an all-powerful being.

Senator Tom Daschle: GOP Shill

This dude is just a punk. He definitely needs to be booted from the Democratic party. He's been an embarrassment to the Dems for a long time, and he'll continue to embarrass the Dems. He epitomizes the cowardice that reigns in the Democratic party.

Fortress DC

Plenty have written on the Green Zone-ization of Washington, DC since the Bush Junta found their golden opportunity in 9/11, but the scare-mongering hasn't really died down - and neither has the de-beautification of the City. The Times covers it this time, and includes some pretty telling pics. We never know which terror attacks are real, and which ones are fake until we get a body count. Anyways, being a part-time jogger, I've witnessed the massacre of the natural beautious DC landscape up close. I can't even imagine DC sans the war party - it must've been sooooo nice. It's still soooo nice, but...

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Ohio Blocks Ballot Access for Libertarians



I saw Andrew Bradley, the College Libertarian Leader, on CSPAN recently. He was speaking at the annual Winter meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State. The Libertarian Party of Ohio submitted their application for a slot on the upcoming November elections ballot, along with the required 27,000 or so signatures (actually, they turned in 57,000 signatures), but the Secretary of State of Ohio, Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, invalidated those signatures. Needless to say, Libertarians in Ohio are bent. Andrew roasted the S's of S present, finishing his speech with a 'put us on the ballot!'-type screech. There was this odd type of pseudo-silence-clapping thing going on as he strode away defiantly from the platform. It was kinda funny.





In any case, it's no secret that Dems and Republicans hate third parties and will do everything they can to keep them off the ballots. In general, Libertarians get more Republican votes (small government, less/no taxes), and Greens get more Dem (environment, against draconian Drug laws) votes. So, The Libertarian Party of Ohio filed a lawsuit on January 7 alleging infringement of civil rights or something. The judge denied a request for an injunction - to get Libs onto the Primary ballots - but a decision on the November ballot is forthcoming.





Here's a little ditty about the event on the national Libertarian Party site.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Redfern on Fire

One potential detractor from Sydney/Australia is its lack of diversity - more specifically, its lack of dark-skinned people. There are plenty of white folks and plenty of Asians - just no dark people. I can't really say whether the aborigines get roughed up in Sydney like black people get roughed up here in the States - my guess would be 'yes' just because Aussies, while easygoing, seem to be a rather isolated lot (image that). It was odd not to see any dark people in Sydney, but after a while I just got used to it. It felt like being in Grand Rapids, Michigan, or something. Anyway, the Sydney Morning Herald is the paper that I prefer. It's covering the race riots in Redfern.



I had heard Redfern could be a tough place - one friend of a friend I knew got his ass kicked and his laptop stolen when getting off the train there late one night. This particular bloke (u like?) was, I'm guessing, on route to or from the new ATP (Australian Technology Park), which is another one of those government-subsidized incubator-type places. The ATP is walking distance from the Redfern train station. The first time I hopped-off the train at Redfern to check out the ATP I was knocked back a bit. I saw what seemed like homeless people - my first taste of the Sydney not shown in the travel brochures. Didn't seem too bad, but I didn't venture off the path leading directly to the ATP, either.



This race riot thing is tough. I'm all for stamping out police brutality, but I'll be damned if I'll have my officers getting arms broken and all sorts of stuff like that. The aboriginal boy who died apparently impaled himself on a fence when running from cops - that's the story - so it was no Abner Louima-type beatdown. Time for a little Rudi Guilliani action over there.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Terrorist Unmanned Vehicles All Over US!

Remember the pictures of those flimsy-looking toy-like remote control plane thingies that Bush and his crew were saying had the ability to fly thousands of miles across the Atlantic and then drop and disperse biological weapons and kill thousands of people? Well, what if, if, some university in Iraq actually was working on unmanned aircraft that could carry a decent load? Would that be justification for Blitzkreig III? If so, someone had best tell the kiddies over at UC Davis, and the rest of the schools around the world that participate in this same sort of weapons-making program-related activities. Wouldn't want anyone to unnecessarily get collateral-damaged into the land of a thousand virgins.

Mickey Kaus: Waste of Space?

I'm no fan of war, nor Kerry, nor dishonesty, nor war crimes, but this little ditty by Mickey Kaus is almost beyond belief - especially coming from a right-winger. Here, Kaus seems to suggest that doing combat duty in Vietnam didn't require any guts. In this piece, Kaus is referring to his revelation that Kerry actually disliked the Vietnam War before he (Kerry) went to fight it. No, I couldn't make this stuff up (http://slate.msn.com/id/2095238/, 1:40 am post):


Ann Coulter might say "No wonder we lost." I can't make up my mind if Kerry's prior view makes his service more noble--he opposed the war but did his duty anyway--or hypocritical and self-preserving--he went and killed people in a cause he didn't think justified the killing. If Kerry opposed the war maybe he should have resisted it. It would also have taken some guts, after all, to go to jail.


Of course, the rest of the post goes on to trash Kerry and every other American GI who served and didn't agree with the cause as laid out by our warmongering politicians. I guess all those Americans who served in Vietnam were a bunch of gutless pussies, huh? I mean, the least they could have done was leave a limb or two on the battlefield? Oops. Well, at least some of them could have fought a little bit before they got shot and killed like a bunch of fuckin pansies!

This guy Kaus wouldn't know honor unless it kicked him in the teeth. Maybe he thinks that hiding out in the safe-haven Air National Guard, even though you supported the war, would have taken more guts? Fuckin coward pissant.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Kerry Runs 'Osama' Ads Against Dean

Just like they did to Max Cleland in Georgia. These guys are class acts:


Former senator Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.), who is raising money for Democratic presidential front-runner John F. Kerry, contributed $50,000 to a secretive group that ran hard-hitting television ads against Howard Dean in December, a new Federal Election Commission filing shows.





Torricelli, who was formally rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee two years ago for his relationship with a top political contributor to his campaigns, last week attended a fundraising meeting with the presidential front-runner.





In November of last year, Torricelli transferred $50,000 from his Senate campaign to Americans for Jobs & Healthcare, a little-known group that this winter ran more than $500,000 in ads against Dean, then the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. The ads sharply criticized Dean's support of gun rights, free trade and slowing Medicare's growth when he was governor of Vermont. The most controversial ad raised the image of Osama bin Laden and questioned Dean's foreign policy experience.





UPDATE: Check out the commercial here. KOS has some more on this here.

Friday, February 06, 2004

How to Fix the Nader Problem

Let Nader and the Greens agree to the Dem nominee beforehand...then, everyone is happy! :D

Jobless Rate Goes Up! I Mean Down! Sideways?

Here are two headlines on Yahoo! News from two different sources released at exactly the same time, both talking about employment data for last month. These snapshot were taken at 10:40 am, February 6, 2004:





Reuters Job Growth















AP Job Growth














The both essentially report the same hard factual data - but one is realistic, the other is very pro-Bush. Didn't think the AP was pro-anyone, did you?

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

US Bribe of UN Complete

Isn't it interesting that Kofi Annan decided to go back into the increasingly-dangerous Iraq? Wasn't it just a few days ago that there were more crazy bombings - hundreds killed and injured? I thought Bush & Co. just decided to threaten the UN somehow, to get them to go in to Iraq, but instead, they waved a carrot - a big carrot at that:


US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) has asked lawmakers to approve a 1.2-billion-dollar loan to the United Nations (news - web sites) to pay for a major renovation the UN headquarters in New York, the State Department said.


Call me a cynic.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Iraqnophobia

I thought of this one morning and thought I was all cool. I declared to my coworkers that I'd coined a new term. Well now, a couple of months later, I decided to Google it, and I'm not as cool as I thought I was. Apparently the word has been in use since Gulf War I. From the wordspy:


Iraqnophobia


(i.RAK.nuh.foh.bee.uh) n. An unusually strong fear of Iraq, especially its ability to manufacture and use biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. Also: Iraqnaphobia, Iraqniphobia.

CAIR: 78 percent of Muslims voted Republican in 2000

Life is funny sometimes. Like, you elect a guy you see as a family values-type, and he goes around pimping Christiantiy in Muslim nations. Well, maybe Muslims will think twice about voting for Bush this time. Check out the MSNBC article here.


According to CAIR, 78 percent of Muslims voted Republican in 2000. It was a departure from previous elections, when this community tended to side with the health and education policies of Democrats. But conservative family values that Bush touted were attractive, as was his hints that he would seek to eliminate the 1996 Secret Evidence Act, which many Muslims believe targets members of their community.


Hey, if CAIR didn't know before the 2000 election that the Republican party was a bunch of racists, I bet they know now. To believe that Bush would eliminate a law created to harass brown people, what...how....what would one need to be smoking? So much for eliminating the Secret Evidence Act. Instead, we got the Patriot Act. Nice!





P.S. I don't want to rip on the collective Muslim vote too much - after all - 22 percent didn't vote for Bush. Getting beat down, enduring threats, getting kicked off your schoolbus, having your Western Union funds rejected, getting fired, getting harassed, and having the top cop in America talk trash about your religion - it all seems like a fairly hefty price to pay for voting for the wrong white guy. On the other hand, most Americans are paying a pretty heft price for 'electing' Bush - but I don't think most of us have had the opportunity to experience it so directly. Maybe the troops in Iraqistan...

Monday, February 02, 2004

Moroccan Parliament Members Held in Oregon

I've got a quick, but important message for all you brown people out there who, for whatever sadomasochistic reasons, still attempt to travel to the United States of George Bush. Don't come. Unless you don't mind being completely stripped of your dignity. And if you absolutely must come, then learn how to speak English - would ya? I mean, you're gonna get locked up, no - your weakling government won't be able to do anything about it, and you're gonna greatly inconvenience us white people who actually have some place to go. So, seriously, let's all get on the same page here.





I was just telling a very good (brown) friend of mine that visiting the U.S. these days could be a scary experience. Just ask Maher Arar - the slightly-brown Canadian citizen whisked out of JFK airport in New York to be tortured in Syria for almost a year. (Also, @see previous post by James Bovard on the inept TSA.) Perusing AntiWar.com I came across a link to this article detailing how some brown Arabic-speaking people were detained:


Authorities who searched their bags became alarmed when they found documents written in Arabic with 911 written on them, Coose said. The delegation could not speak English to explain the documents, he said.


Now, I'm no genius, but I don't think one has to be Sherlocke Holmes to figure out that terrorists would probably not risk carrying documents in their baggage that are written in Arabic, except for a bunch of 911's all over it.





Of course, there are people who are stupid/ignorant/oblivious enough to come to a United States airport, in all their brown glory, and not be able to speak English. I can't really speak to that. I mean, what planet are these guys and their hosts living on? Maybe our Moroccan visitors didn't know how Hitleresque our airports have become, but their hosts sure should have.





But there's plenty of blame to go around. If the TSA is targeting brown, Muslim, Arabic-speaking men, then don't you think it'd be a good idea to have a native Arabic speaker somewhere in the airport? Maybe? Good idea? Nah, I didn't think so either.