Monday, January 31, 2005
On the Mark begins by ripping my post apart, saying that my statement about Bush's gross oversimplification of the democratic process wasn't backed up by research and that I'm just pulling this whole "Mission Accomplished" thing out of my rosy red, baboon ass. I'm sorry if I thought that Bush's message about the end of combat in Iraq was a point of contention:
If you're looking for Bush's unrealistic statements specifically about the Iraqi elections try this one or maybe this one or if those don't suit your fancy perhaps you'll find this one enjoyable. If you can stand to read the President entire statement from his own website click here.
In his statement, the President does point out that the elections are part of a process, and that the road to real Democracy is long and difficult, but the President and On the Mark missed my point completely. I'm not trying to denigrate the Iraqi people or minimize their sacrifices, as I pointed out in my initial post. The voter turnout in Iraq was 60%, which is roughly equivalent to the estimated voter turnout for the 2004 US election. The Iraqi people should be proud.
My point was simply that Bush's statements, policies, and actions have done nothing to change the underlying instabilities in Iraq. An election is a cosmetic change at best, and certainly not a solution when you're dealing with three groups of people who have fought for longer than we've been a country. I have the highest hopes for a peaceful Iraq in the future, but there are a number of factors such as the continued presence of Al Qaeda and political differences that will exist regardless of what type of government Iraq chooses. I simply am asking people, the President included, not to expect a democratic government to be a panacea to Iraq's very complex problems.
As far as doing my homework, On the Mark goes on to say that "We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated." I guess he didn't get the memo from the Bush Administration that there were no weapons of mass destruction. If you want more sources to back that up, how about White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's Press Briefing from January 12th, where McClellan tries his best with this exchange:
(Question) The President accepts that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he said back in October that the comprehensive report by Charles Duelfer concluded what his predecessor had said, as well, that the weapons that we all believed were there, based on the intelligence, were not there. And now what is important is that we need to go back and look at what was wrong with much of the intelligence that we accumulated over a 12-year period and that our allies had accumulated over that same period of time, and correct any flaws.
Read the whole thing if you think I'm taking it out of context. Maybe On the Mark needs to pay more attention to what W. and his administration are saying these days or back in October, to borrow McClellan's own words.
On the Mark goes on to do something that Republicans live for, which is to give examples of minorities, he chose Dr. Condoleeza Rice and Alberto Gonzales, and what inspiring success stories they are. I don't disagree with On the Mark that both of these individuals should be held in high regard. I may not agree with them politically, but I can seriously respect their hard work and determination against all odds.
The problem is not Dr. Rice or Mr. Gonzales. The problem is that Republicans use these examples, generally referred to as Horatio Alger stories, to show the best that any person can achieve in American Democracy. Horatio Alger was a 19th century author who wrote "rags-to-riches" stories about people who worked hard, and were rewarded for their hard work. It's the American way, really. And not bad stories. And if you talk to a Republican about race in our society, you're bound to hear one. "Everyone has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of skin color, religion, socioeconomic status etc."
It was used as an argument against affirmative action, until people realized that it's crap. Our country does, in fact, continue to discriminate against anyone who isn't white, male, and affluent. This could be an entire posting on its own. Horatio Alger stories are terrible devices to use to prove the anyone can succeed because if the poor and minorities had the same opportunities that we whities did, then Horatio Alger stories wouldn't be so damned remarkable. It would just be commonplace for a black women to be the Secretary of State. The fact that these stories are so rare that they are noteworthy proves either one of two points: 1) Not everyone has the same opportunities, which makes these stories so amazing 2) Minorities are all lazy, and don't take the opportunities they are given. I'm going with #1. Republicans would rather focus on a handful of exceptions, than the fact that we could do a much better job of educating and providing opportunities for minority students, for example.
On the Mark finishes up by pointing out that liberals just like to bash the US, based on my statements that I think it's funny that we're the model for democracy. I get this a lot, because I obviously hate our country. Oh wait, it's not that.
My philosophy has always been that in order to love something, wife, friends, or your country, you have to accept it for what it is. Believe it or not, there are things in this country where we could a do much better job than what we're doing presently. I feel like in order to make this country a better place, it's helpful to acknowledge those shortcomings, so that maybe things don't have to be that way. It's the first step in constructive change.
I might come across like I don't appreciate how great our country is, or that I don't like democracy, but really, my complaints and opinions are the core of a functioning democracy. I think in order to make this country a better place, we need to come to terms with the fact that we're the largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions in the world, or that we're not consistent in our foreign policy when it comes to weapons of mass destruction, and a whole host of other issues.
On the Mark would prefer that I just hail to the chief, salute the flag, screw a soldier (but no butt stuff!), wave a flag, eat my apple pie, and shut up. Unfortunately, this country wasn't founded by a bunch of greedy, corporate appeasers with flags shoved up their asses, and I'm not about to go that direction just to get a few people off my back. Question the answers. It makes you an active participant in the democracy, and while it might not be the easiest thing to do, it's better than having to explain to your grandkids why we don't have clean water or only the wealthiest people can afford health care.
No doubt that it is an exciting and historic time for Iraqis. But, to say that having an election is the only requirement of a democracy would also qualify Survivor, American Idol and my high school prom as democracies. Before we start talking about putting a McDonald's on every corner, destroying their environment, and putting aside the well-being of the Iraqi citizen for corporate profits, we need a reality check.
As many of you already realize, Iraq has three different groups fighting for control of the government: Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and the Kurdish or Kurds. These three groups have been killing each other and fighting for control for hundreds of years. Simply having an election doesn't change all those years of history.
I'm not trying to minimize the importance of the election or the sacrifices of the Iraqi people and our soldiers in making this happen. Conversely, I think that denying the realities that currently face our soldiers and the Iraqi people and making bold proclamations about Democracy is a gross oversimplification and gives the false impression that our mission has finally been accomplished, when really it's only just beginning. And we know how the Bush Administration loves to say "Mission Accomplished".
It's funny to me to hear what Americans say and write about our Democracy. What makes us the experts on Democracy? We've twisted our government into a capitalist theocracy, where only those with money can attain and control power. My hope for Iraq is that they do what we've failed to do, and get this whole Democracy thing right.
Friday, January 28, 2005
It seems like you can't have a conversation these days without someone pointing out how much they totally hate Reality TV shows. And yet, some of the highest rated shows every week end up being Reality TV. It's like in college when you said you didn't like that fat girl, and then you ended up sleeping with her repeatedly for like seven semesters. People just need to come to terms with the fact that they love it, and it's Ok to admit it. If we didn't love it so damned much, it would have been cancelled like every single show by a Seinfeld alumni.
To celebrate our collective acceptance of Reality TV, and being adult enough to admit that we enjoy seeing John Gotti's grandkids fist fight each other or watching people eat milkshakes made of donkey shit, I have compiled a list of suggestions for new Reality TV shows to keep everyone happy.
Real World: Sunni Triangle / Road Rules: Afghanistan: These two MTV staples have proven that there is no shortage of whiney, anorexic skanks or chest-waxing, meathead douchebags in this country. Nothing would be more enjoyable than seeing those Snotty McPoopypants contestants dodging bullets, being taken hostage, and pissing their pants. No more private confessionals about how the world doesn't understand where your spoiled, suburban asses are coming from. Welcome to reality for thousands of kids your age who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fear Factor: PETA Edition: This version of the show would combine two things that I would enjoy watching: Self-righteous dietary moralists being forced to eat disgusting crap and falling down a lot. We'll see how much they love the animals after they have to ride a pig into a giant lake of shit.
Bush's Next Top Director of Homeland Security: Twelve of the hottest Presidential ass-kissers in America will battle it out through airport security, border patrol and real terrorist attacks to find out who will be the next top Director of Homeland Security. (Contestants will be screened to ensure that they didn't employ illegal aliens or help John Ashcroft write "When Eagles Soar up my gaping asshole.")
Survivor: I know, I know, it's not what you're thinking. I was thinking that a different type of show that could use the same name as the hit series could feature Dick Cheney and his cardiologist. See Dick and his team of heart specialists tackle issues regarding Dick's treatment and care including how many still-beating orphan hearts can Dick's doctors attempt to transplant to keep Dick's ticker ticking and keep hope alive for more no bid contracts for Haliburton, Corp?
Remember you heard about it here first.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
First, this item from the Indianapolis Star. Apparently, W. has been promoting his Social Security policy to a consortium of African-American Community leaders. His selling point: Blacks don't live as long as whites do, so the new Social Security plan will give you more bang for your buck. There's nothing like a President dedicated to the health and well-being of his people. The life expectancy for blacks in America is in fact much less than it is for whites, but it's hardly a proud fact and I wouldn't be using that as a selling point, unless you're trying to sell something to the Klan. I'm not accusing the President of being racist based on this attempt to promote his policies, since he's done a fine job demonstrating that on many other occasions, but I do think we can add this to the already lengthy stupid things Bush did in office list.
Secondly, I came across this piece from the January 4th Washington Post. It's obviously not enough that Bush has a plan to divert money from Social Security to private savings accounts. As I discussed in my previous post, Social Security's demise becomes much more of an immanent problem once we start funneling cash out of the program and into the private sector. This article essentially drives home the point that in addition to private savings accounts for younger workers, Bush's plan would result in benefit cuts for existing and soon-to-be retirees.
On the Mark made a comment on one of my posts below about Bush's legacy as a fiscal conservative, saying that Bush may sacrifice some of the programs that we liberals hold dear, in order to save his legacy as a fiscal conservative. I must say to President Bush "Don't bother." Any cuts you would make in social programs now will just destroy the integrity of those essential programs, and your legacy as one of the most spendy Presidents (he's obviously shooting to top Reagan in the fiscal responsibility department) in history is locked up. All you conservatives out there who supported the President knew of this inability to do math when you elected him. We had four years of his fuzzy accounting to see what he was capable of and what probably caused his pre-gubanatorial business ventures to crash like the Challenger Space Shuttle. Yup, we all knew it and you still voted for him. Not only are you not allowed to call yourselves fiscally conservative now, but you've got a historical deficit legacy to pass on to your grandkids (who will all be born with 4 fingers because of Bush's destruction of environmental regulations). I'm sure they will be proud of their Republican ancestors for their fiscal responsibility.
It seems that among all the chaos, no one, not the public nor the media, doubts that Social Security is in crisis. Advocacy groups for the elderly have been proclaiming that the system would not support the growth in the number of retirees for as long as I can remember. This article claims that Social Security has been in financial crisis since 1977. The crisis is not as significant as the Chicken Littles in Congress and in the Bush Administration would have you think, however.
Here is a dose of reality from the actual Social Security Administration (you know the government agency that collects and distributes Social Security?). Currently, the Social Security system is receiving billions more dollars in revenue than it's paying out in benefits. Take 2002 for example: Social Security had a surplus of $165.5 billion. Social Security will continue to collect a surplus over what it pays out until 2012.
But 2012 isn't that far away! We better do something fast! The problem with using 2012 as the end of Social Security is that it doesn't take into account that the US Government has been investing that surplus in stable Treasury Bonds, which average about a 7% annual return. According to AARP, about 14% of Social Security's income is from interest from those investments. Presently, Social Security has about a $1.4 trillion surplus invested in trust funds for retirees. Based on that figure, everyone seems to be in agreement that in 2042, the system will not be able to pay benefits at 100% for all retirees. There's obviously a problem here, but when you look at the figures, and the amount of time that we have to fix the problem, it doesn't seem as imperiled as people, including President Bush and the media, make it sound.
President Bush has focused primarily on private savings accounts as a solution to the impending Social Security crisis. Today's New York Times Business Section has an excellent article about the how privatizing government retirement plans in Chile, a country President Bush has said he would use as a model for his plan, has resulted in fewer benefits and more corporate profits. You can read the article yourself by clicking here (requires free registration).
The main problem with diverting Social Security earnings into private retirement accounts is that the system won't last until 2042, if we do so. You see, projections for Social Security are based on continuing contributions from workers into Social Security. Diverting funds into private accounts would leave those people in their late-30s and 40s in quite a pickle. This group of workers would not have enough time to save money in private accounts to create benefits equal to those of regular Social Security, but would also be faced with an inadequate Social Security system because of declining contributions from young workers who are unlikely to contribute anything to a collapsing Social Security program. Have you noticed that none of those in favor a private savings accounts have addressed this issue?
As a young worker now, I am not considering Social Security in my retirement plans. I am fortunate enough to have a job with a gracious retirement plan, and essentially unlimited investment options. In that way, I am quite fortunate. When you're in that position, it's very easy to lose sight of what the majority of the labor force has at their disposal. Most workers, particularly those who will end up relying on Social Security for retirement, don't have those options available to them. I think those of us who are fortunate enough to have those options should not abandon the rest of our labor force. Bridging the gap between what Social Security pays out and what it receives, given the 37 years we have until 2042, may be an easier investment than we think.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Feedburner offers a reader that you can download a trial version of for free. There are also a number of feed readers available on CNET.com under downloads. Bloglines runs a feed reader in your browser like a website, and it's what I use at work, since I am not allowed to download programs after I accidentally crashed the entire network by listening to the stream from NPR.com. The guys in the IT department love it when you crash the network.
You can subscribe to my feed and thousands of other feeds from real websites that you like at Bloglines by clicking on the Sub Bloglines Icon at the bottom of my sidebar. My subscription list includes Scientific American, Salon.com, NY Times Front Page, and even that lunatic World Debate website. If you have problems or questions let me know. I have a real post in the pipe for this afternoon.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
I can hear you asking "Ryan, who gives a rat's ass about the budget deficit? Don't we need to spend money so that we're safe from terrorists and regimes with nuclear weapons, and gay marriage?" The fact is that most people don't understand or don't give a crap about the federal budget deficit or Bush's $427 billion spending for this year, when you include the $80 Billion Bush is asking for in Iraq.
But, isn't all this spending making us safer? Think again. Not only have we conceded that Iraq did not possess even the materials to draw pictures of weapons of mass destruction and that there is no link between Iraq and Al Qaida (aside from the one that resulted when we attacked a sovereign Muslim country), but bankrupting the United States is apparently making us more vulnerable in the eyes of Osama Bin Laden.
Why should we care what Bin Laden thinks? BECAUSE HE'S THE SICK FUCK THAT ATTACKED US and NEWS FLASH: We're not as safe as we think we are. I can see how it would be easy to lose sight of this with all the Republicans running around telling us the sky is falling because a bunch of gay people got married or because somebody had an abortion, and with the Bush Administration blaming the 9/11 attacks on Saddam. Speaking of which, here is an exercise in politics with Dick and George click here and then click here. I dated girls in college who were more clear about their intentions than these two ass clowns.
Osama Bin Laden wants us to spend billions in Iraq because its billion of dollars that won't go towards preventing terrorism at home or chasing his crazy, goat-screwing, bearded-ass through the mountains of Tora Bora. Read this and tell me if you think we're safer focusing all of our attention of Iraq. After all, Iraq is starting to look more and more like a real democracy every day!
As an aside, my cousin was in Washington, D.C. to protest Bush's $40 million party. I will be posting some photos of the protests, since the left-wing media didn't bother to show the protesters since they were peaceful and kept all their clothes on.
Mr. Williams posted an apology online here, where he explains that in retrospect, it is a conflict of interest to write an opinion about a government policy, while not revealing to your audience that you are being paid big bucks to promote said policy. Williams hosted radio and TV shows, and wrote columns for conservative websites. I'm not sure what you think, but this is the very definition of propaganda. The company in charge of syndicating Williams' programming, Tribune Media Services, terminated it's contract with Williams after discovering that he had received somewhere in the neighborhood of $240,000 for his promotion work.
I'm not so naive to believe that this is the first time that this has ever occurred in politics. I wouldn't even be so ridiculous as to imply that Democrats haven't resorted to this sort of media manipulation in the past. But, Williams got busted, probably because No Child Left Behind is such a piece of garbage, that it automatically raises suspicion when someone promotes it. It's like the guy that comes up to you in the parking lot at Target and wants to sell you car speakers out of the back of his van. It raises more than a few questions about the quality of the product.
Why would the Bush Administration pay someone almost a quarter of a million bucks to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB)? The administration needed street credibility for its patchwork policy. To understand why NCLB is such a piece of crap, it's important to understand what NCLB does. If you want details, the Department of Education website has an overview that borders on propaganda, but at least will give you an idea about how the Bush Administration is trying to sell its policy.
The Reader's Digest version is this: NCLB is a federal mandate that provides funding, creates standards for school performance based on Math and Reading scores, rates schools based on their performance in those areas, and allows families more choices if their children attend an underperforming school. Sounds pretty innocuous, even a little bit like real education reform. But, my statement is an example of the beauty of NCLB. It sounds like a wonderful policy, but as many have pointed out before, the devil is in the details.
Funding is a big issue with this policy. Overall, NCLB does increase funding for education, something the Bush Administration points out anytime someone questions their dedication to Education. The problem, however, is not increased funding or lack thereof, but where the money ends up and how it is divided that creates the biggest problems.
For example, NCLB mandates that students should be given the opportunity to receive their education through a Charter school, Faith-based school or another higher achieving public school, if their school is underperforming. NCLB doesn't do anything to address why the school was underperforming, and even diverts funding away from poorer performing schools. So you've got funding being diverted away from poorer performing schools, which doesn't address the performance problem, and in fact, just shifts the students who can't read or do math to a school where the students are performing better, which would likely result in overcrowding, lack of funding, and poorer performance at the good school.
Real education reform should address the problems that cause schools to be underperforming in the first place, rather than endorsing a strategy of abandonment and shifting the problems to schools where performance is good. Educational achievement is a complex issue, and can be affected by poverty, parental involvement and education level. NCLB does nothing to address these issues, and there is no evidence to support the idea that moving students from a poor performing school to one where students are performing up to government standards will make them better readers or better at math. The negative impact of moving poorer performing students into a high performing school has also not been adequately evaluated.
NCLB focuses its assessment of schools solely on Reading and Math scores, and doesn't provide enough funding for mandates such as Teacher Improvement and the overcrowding that can result from NCLB's Choice initiatives. Instead of fixing the problems with the Education system, NCLB shifts the current problems and creates new problems in the process. It's simply bad policy. The only comparison I can make is an environmental policy that simply moves pollution from one place to another, rather than cleaning it up. We have plenty of those already, thanks to the Bush Administration.
So, if it's such a bad policy, then why does the Bush Administration promote it so fervently? Much like Bush's relaxation of many environmental regulations, profits and capital gains are at stake, as they are with any of Bush's domestic or foreign policies. Think about Bush's solutions to these problems: Social Security? Privatize it with savings accounts. Medicare? Privatize prescription drug benefits for Seniors. The War In Iraq? Sponsored by Halliburton. Homeland Security? Focus funding an efforts on privatization of airport security, border patrol to follow. Tax Policy? Tax cuts on dividends for the richest Americans, tell the poor to appreciate their $300. Education? Allow public funds to be diverted to franchised charter schools. See a pattern here? Regardless of how bad the policy is, and what affects those policies will have on the general public, heaping money into the private sector is Bush's favorite thing to do. And why wouldn't it be? The private sector paid for him to be elected.
That's why they paid Armstrong Williams $240,000 to promote it on his conservative radio and TV programs. If the NCLB policy was worth a damn, you wouldn't need to pay someone to promote it. No one ever had to pay a political pundit to promote The GI Bill, Americorps, The Clean Water Act, or a whole host of other successful government programs. Stories like this one show the sad state of what the Bush Administration is willing to do to make it's policies seem legitimate. And to think, that $240,000 could have gone towards Education reform, Tsunami Relief, or a REALLY bitchin' inauguration party. I bet they could have lured the Spice Girls out of retirement with that sort of cash.
Monday, January 24, 2005
For those of you who don't live in a cave in Montana, you've probably heard that Ron Howard (a.k.a. Opey Taylor from the Andy Griffith Show) is directing the movie version of the mega-ultra-superific-blockbuster book The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. The last time I checked on the New York Times Bestseller List, it had sold like 5.99 billion copies worldwide. If you haven't read it, it's like you and most of the people who live in Mississippi (they can't read).
One of the villains in the book is an albino, we'll call him Silas, because that's what his name is in the book, and I don't want like 100 emails from The Da Vinci Code fan club. Everyone already knows that albinos are evil. To further the point, the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) is pressuring Ron Howard to change the character, so the villain is not an albino. If you don't believe me, I understand my credibility is lacking this week, but seriously click here to read the press release. Here is information about albinism and some creepy pictures to drive the point home.
This whole campaign by the albinos to get Ron Howard to change the movie pisses me off. First of all, I hate censorship. Last time I checked being an albino doesn't take away your free will, so if you don't agree, then don't see the damned movie. Encourage your friends not to see the movie. Protest, if you can handle being out in the sun long enough. Just stop trying to guilt the director of a major motion picture into changing the movie because you don't like how your group of people is portrayed.
Secondly, where the hell was NOAH when the book came out? About everyone (outside of Mississippi, of course) on earth has read the damned book, experienced the stereotype, now obviously has a preconceived notion that all albinos are evil. If your mission is to advocate for people who lack pigmentation and to present them in a more positive light, you probably should have tackled this one before it spent the last 5 years on the NY Times Bestseller list.
The problem with the idea that the movie is going to create or reinforce existing stereotypes about the inherent sinister nature of albinos is that it doesn't add up. Just because I saw an evil albino in a movie or ten through the years, doesn't mean that I think albinos are evil. Give people some credit here. I'm more likely to have a negative opinion of an albino that I meet because NOAH is trying to censor an integral part of a movie.
Any movie with a plot conveys some person or group of people as the villain. We've all had our turn. Most of us Irish people were too drunk to care, but the book and subsequent movie, Patriot Games, portrayed the Irish as a bunch of terrorists. Did I send Tom Clancy a letter and ask him to change it? Hell no. Because I knew that my friends had the required brain power to understand that the people in the movie were characters, and were not modeled after every single Irish person in the world. See how easy it is to think for yourself? Maybe NOAH should stick to their advocacy, instead of trying to leech publicity off of a major motion picture.
First of all, in my posting on Friday I stated that Clinton won 60% of the popular vote in the 1996 Election. I was completely wrong. Clinton did kick Dole's ass, but the margin of victory I stated was false. As a result, two research assistants and the two producers who encouraged me to write the post were immediately fired. I apologize for any abdominal discomfort, herpes flare-ups, or explosive diarrhea that my posting may have caused.
To make up for my obvious mistake, I posted a link to the World Debate Blog in my links section. Despite the fact that we're unlikely to agree on anything, I do respect the fact that unlike anyone who appears on Fox News Channel, On the Mark does his research and is open to having a discussion. If you get tired of my left wing ranting, it will at least offer something from the opposite end of the political spectrum.
In his response, On the Mark made the point that percentage increases were the only relevant statistic to consider in this case. I couldn't agree with him more. My point was not that you shouldn't use percentages to show trends in those data. Rather, my point was that the author of the article On the Mark cited, and subsequently On the Mark, completely overstated the significance of the percentage increases. If you look through my comments, you will be hard pressed to find the part where I said that you shouldn't use percentages, because frankly, I never said that.
My point was that when you have two groups of data that are not equal in number (like the 2000 and 2004 election numbers), there are going to be percentage differences between the two groups of data that are not based on any trend, aside from the trend of more people voting. It just so happened that the 2004 data was the larger set, so there was a trend across the board for percentage increases that had nothing to do with the Republican revolution taking place, but rather the fact that 20% more people voted in 2004 than did in 2000. There are statistical means of analyzing the data that could reveal those trends (like a t test), if they truly existed and were truly statistically significant, but neither On the Mark nor the original author chose to take it that far.
There is nothing wrong with looking at raw percentages. There is something VERY wrong with stating a trend exists between two unequal groups of data, when you haven't done enough analysis to determine if such a trend exists. It's almost as bad as saying Clinton won 60% of the popular vote in 1996, but not quite.
I'm not going to deny that the political pendulum has swung firmly to the right. It's hard to make an argument against that when you have both sides of Congress and the Presidency dominated by the less compassionate among us. On the Mark makes a great point, as does my great friend Ben, that these things tend to be cyclical. History has shown that. For those of you who believe in Karma, we're paying heavily for the Clinton years now.
The motivation behind articles like the one posted by On the Mark and other Republican pundits is to dismiss the idea that the country is divided. To show that the country is behind the President. To distract us from the fact that there are a whole host of REAL problems that the Bush Administration will likely do nothing about, including, but not limited to Social Security, Education, Health Care, North Korea, Pollution, and Human Rights.
I apologize again for my misleading statements in my previous posts. I can assure you that those resposible have been dealt with.
Friday, January 21, 2005
It all started with this posting on another blog. I have posted comments here before. The guy that writes the site is actually quite open to having good debate and discussion, which despite our obvious difference of opinion, makes him pretty damned cool in my book. You can read his post, and my comments on his posting to get the gist. The writer in the blog and the author of the article he cites in the posting are trying to say that Bush is making huge gains across every state and demographic group in the U.S. I obviously think they both need to take a statistics class.
I have been hearing it a lot since the election, but even more with the inauguration this week that Republicans are overwhelmingly taking over the country. To write it makes me cry a little tear (because midgets can't make big tears). And of course he throws in a little comment at the end that the mainstream media won't address this trend, because of the overwhelming liberal bias in the mainstream media. Because Republicans haven't said that enough times.
The problem, as a stated in my rebuttal on his website, with the idea that Republicans are making huge gains across the country is based on flawed statistics. Bear with me. The author of the article cited on world debate is comparing 2000 election data with 2004 election data. Roughly 100 million ( or a little more than 1/3 of the US population 18 and older) people voted in 2000. 120 million (or about 20% more for you math majors out there) voted for President in 2004. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 with just over 50 million votes, but won the electoral college. In 2004, Bush won the popular vote with 59 million votes.
The guy writing the article would say based on these figures that Bush increased his percentage of votes by 18%, which is absolutely true. The problem is that because so many more people voted in 2004 than in 2000, it doesn't really tell you anything about the outcome of the election, and in fact, it only amounted to a 2% increase in the percentage of total votes for the President. If Ralph Nader had an 18% increase in the total number of votes he received in 2000, he still wouldn't have had enough votes to have beaten the guy that was elected Governor of Indiana.
The author wants us to believe that it means that there is a huge demographic shift taking place, when really it's just showing us that more people voted. As I pointed out in my comments, 56 million people voted for John Kerry in 2004 than voted for either Gore or Bush in 2000. I wouldn't say, based on that line of reasoning, that the Democrats are increasing in their strength, but rather it's just a simple fact that more people voted. That's really all percentages are good for demonstrating.
It's a completely misleading way of presenting statistics, because percentages are based on their relative sample size. He claims that Bush made gains with Hispanics, but he doesn't take into account that the overall number of Hispanics who voted in 2004 was significantly higher overall than in 2000. Of course Bush did better among Hispanics than he did in 2000. John Kerry also did better than Al Gore with Hispanic voters. Not because of some change or trend, but because more people voted, and when you look at percentages, you're looking at parts of a total number.
It's quite troubling when you start thinking about it, that this is how Republicans analyze things. They want to scare people into thinking that the country is shifting towards their favor, which it may or may not be. The problem isn't the idea, but rather the fact that they can't find statistics to back it up, unless they distort how those statistics are presented. For an educated person, like the one who apparently wrote that article, it's pretty damned irresponsible to make those sorts of claims, and not to explain how you get to your conclusions.
Did I mention that I am in a bad mood today?
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Despite the efforts of protesters in Washington, D.C. and around the country (chronicled nicely here), President Bush has attempted to silence and hide dissenters by limiting access around the parade routes and banning certain types of signs due to security concerns. Once again, the President manages to create some association between people who don't support his administration and security and terror threats. Despite the President's concerns for security, the protests today were mostly peaceful, a stark contrast to President Bush's warmongering first term.
One of the largest pieces of irony about the whole inauguration is the negative impact the costs of providing police and other services have on the city of Washington, D.C. For previous inaugurations, the city was compensated for overtime costs for police and security personnel, but with the Bush administration and their record spending for the event things are obviously different. From the Washington Post:
"D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday criticized the Bush administration's refusal to reimburse the District for costs related to tomorrow's inauguration, calling it "an unfunded mandate" that promises to gobble up cash needed to prepare the nation's capital for a potential terror attack.
Speaking at the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Williams (D) called on that organization, as well as other groups that represent local government, to protest the decision to force the city to use $11.9 million in homeland security funds to pay for police and other services on Inauguration Day. Traditionally, the federal government covers those costs."
If you're interested in reading more, click here. Basically, the Bush Administration is telling the city of D.C. to use money set aside to prevent and respond to terror attacks to pay for security so the President can have a huge party. That's what I call Homeland Security. A number of people this week have tried to point out that part of the $40 million is going to pay for increased security, but in all actuality, the $40 million is being blown on confetti, coke, whores, and ice sculptures of Dick Cheney's wiener. No wonder people all over the country and in Washington, D.C. are protesting.
I would be interested in hearing how Republicans can justify this whole scenario. You throw the most expensive inauguration of all time, spend more on parades, champagne and concerts featuring some of the worst performers of all time than we offered to people in Southeast Asia who are dying of preventable diseases and starvation and don't have access to clean water, and you're leaving one of the cities that is a primary terrorist target with the bill for providing security. You might understand how this makes Republicans seem like selfish, greedy, dickheads. Thanks again, Tex!
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Hippie, Your website is everything that is wrong with freedom of speech.echo_doctor raised an interesting point in her comments on a previous post: If my website sucks, then why do these jackholes read it? Another similar person who enjoys leaving Caps Lock on:
You use your website to creat misinformation, and it's pretty unoriginal, when
you consider how many anti-Bush websites there are out there. If a bunch
of people who support Bush want to get together and have a party to celebrate
his victory in November, why do you care? Do you have nothing better to
worry about than your hippie, left-wing agenda? Get a life.
Now, that's what I call intelligent discourse. First off, both of these people, and a number of others with poorer grammar skills and a proclivity for using fuck in their emails, called me a liar. Yet, not a single one of them pointed out something that I had posted that wasn't true or even was presented incorrectly. You'd think if I were such a huge liar, these people would be all over it with facts and research to refute what I wrote. No such luck, not even an opinion, aside from the fact that I suck and my website sucks, of course.
HEY DEMOCRAP! Get over yourself. If you DEMOCRAPS weren't such losers, you
would be the ones having a party tomorrow. Too bad you and your war hero
couldn't get the job done in November. Most of the $40 million is there for security anyway. Stop posting your lies and get a real job.
Bush supporters in general seem to be proud of this inauguration party tomorrow. You can read all about what's going on and how much it's going to cost here. The $40 million cost is going to be covered mostly by private donors, mostly companies who have a stake in Bush's second term agenda.
During this whole discussion, this report about the cost of ending poverty and starvation worldwide was released. The report basically says that if rich countries, like those who can afford to throw $40 million away on a victory parade, would increase their aid, we could cut poverty IN HALF in 10 years and end it completely in 20 years. I'm not trying to say that $40 million not spent on a fraternity event would prevent world hunger, but the $40 million reflects a mindset that we have that is harmful to the rest of the world.
Companies like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, who have a lot riding on Bush's success with personal retirement accounts, donated $250,000 to a single day event. And then, these same companies will turn around and complain that they have to pay too much in taxes. If you can afford to drop a quarter million on a single event, and you're charging me $2 every time I use your stupid ATM because it happens to be conveniently located close to the liquor store, I think it's time for you to step up to the plate.
We, as a country, have the power to end world poverty. It sounds like a speech at a beauty contest, but we could do it. The worst part of all of it is that we won't even try. We'll continue to dump billions of dollars into wars that can't ever be won. If we took a quarter of the $68 billion military aid package that Congress approved last year, and applied to it poverty and not to killing people who don't agree with our government, we could end starvation. We could also fund health care for every child in the US under the age of 18 for the same cost as one Trident Nuclear Missile Submarine ($5 billion), but don't even get me started on that.
The Second Inauguration symbolizes our greed, wastefulness, lack of compassion, and a complete lack of awareness of what we could do if we weren't too busy caring about ourselves. I hope it's a great party.
Also, now that my posting have become more periodic, the volume of hate mail has picked up again. I have some great ones to post this afternoon. Stay tuned....
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
You commie moron!! The 40 million for Bush's inaguration is being paid for byWow! Someone knows an awful lot about the Bush's Inauguration without even being able to spell inauguration! And no, I will not eat shit.
rich private donors. They can spend their money on anything they want. Stop
trying to make people think that the taxpayers are going to be footing to bill
for the inaguration with your piece of shit website. When are you losers just
going to accept that he's our president? Eat shit!
Originally, I wanted to imply that Bush was willing to throw $40 million away in one day on parades, fireworks, and a downright shitty concert to celebrate an election where he won by the smallest percentage margin of an incumbent President since Woodrow Wilson in 1916, but he didn't want to spend more than a paltry $35 million so that Tsunami victims could eat, have clean water, and not die of explosive diarrhea.
That not only makes Bush an asshole for not spending more money on Tsunami relief, but it also makes his supporters a bunch of greedy ass kissers for their willingness to drop $40 million for the opportunity to drink champagne from his wiener in the back of a limo, when people in India and Southeast Asia can't even eat or find their kids or get a drink of water without a turd floating in it. And people are pissed off about Randy Moss? Wake up and smell the coffee.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Don't Steal! The Government Hates Competition. - I hope it makes the people who have this bumper sticker feel good to know that Timothy McVeigh had this bumper sticker on his El Camino. What does this mean? People in Iraq during the Hussein regime had the right to display this sticker. In America, it makes absolutely no sense.
If I'd Have Known It Was Coming to This, I Would Have Picked the Cotton Myself. Some bumpers stickers imply that the owner of the vehicle is a racist moron. This one leaves no doubt.
Frustrate a Liberal. Buy a Gun. As a liberal, there's obviously nothing more frustrating than gun ownership. Except shitheads who think that they're the next incarnation of John Wayne, when really they're just too stupid to have a hobby that requires reading.
Misplaced Texan Nothing says "I've had sexual intercourse with a member of my immediate family on multiple occasions." like this one.
Anything from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) I have issues with these folks. There is not another group on the planet that is more hypocritical and morally inconsistent than these assholes. As others have pointed out before and actual research has shown, millions of animals are killed every year in the harvesting of your plants for food, even your $6.99/lb. Organic brussel sprouts. So unless you grow and pick the food, you've got just as much blood on your hands as those of us who use our canines. They also oppose using animals for scientific research, and have even stood behind groups that have made death threats against researchers who use animals in their experiments. Do the whole world a favor and stop eating anything.
Pray is a four letter word you can say anywhere (except in Public Schools). This one represents one of the cardinal fallacies of the religious right. Act persecuted while attempting to persecute others. People pray in schools all the time. What you're not allowed to do under the law is organize a religious service during a school activity or require participation. Christians forget that our forefockers came to this country to escape state-sponsored religion. This one is nicely countered with "Don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church."
You can tell there's a lot of pent up aggression here, so I might start doing this as you send them to me or as I see them. Post them under comments or send them here.
Friday, January 14, 2005
1) They stole the idea from Star Search. I have a lot of ideas for TV shows: California Motorcycle Cops, A talking car driven by David Hasselhoff, and a creepy old white guy that adopts two lovable black kids, one of which is a midget. Sound familiar? Don't be suprised if they're all part of Fox's Spring Television Line-up.
2) The contestants are annoying. Maybe it's just because their parents rode them like John and Patsy Ramsey, parents of Jon Benet Ramsey. Maybe it's because they spent their high school years (those few glorious years when it's not illegal to date high school girls) in a dark basement practicing voice excercises with Celine Dion's creepy old husband. Whatever the reason, you put these kids in front of a live studio audience and it's about as much fun as babysitting your schizophrenic uncle.
3) The judges are morons. Letting Paula Abdul judge a music contest is like having Dan Quayle judge a spelling bee or having President Bush oversee an ethics committee. Simon is only a judge because he's a dick. He probably listens to Zamfir or Yanni, which hardly qualifies him to tell people their rendition of Celine Dion, which sounds like crap when Celine Dion sings it, sounds like crap.
4) The resulting music is garbage. This is like the 5th or 6th season of American Idol, and what do we have to show for it? Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, Ruben "Cypress Hill" Studdard? I thought to purpose of the show was to discover talent? All we've managed to do so far is discover that a large percentage of America has incredibly poor taste in music.
If you're looking for something to watch on TV, at least don't encourage the production of super-commericalized donkey poop.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Somebody in the Bush camp was obviously attempting to put together one of the worst live concerts of all time. And that is really not an easy thing to do when one considers how many live shows Creed and the BeeGees performed. While they're at it, they should just call Josh Groban, Michael Bolton, and Celine Dion. I mean, if it's going to suck, why not go all out? The again, given Bush's stance on gay marriage, it might be tough to get Groban and Bolton to show up.
Some of the most excellent parts of the article:
- Kid Rock's first album, "Grit Sandwiches for Breakfast," fixates on oral sex, including one song, "Yo Da Lin In The Valley," that describes the lyricist's exploits with multiple women in detail. Another similar tune is "Wax the Booty."
- The performer's lyrics often center on the recreational nature of sex and speak of women as mere playthings. According to an online bio, "Kid Rock is noted for his use of adult film stars when he performs (nude when he can get away with it), as Kobe Tai and Jenna Jameson have danced on stage while Kid does his thing."
The person that wrote this article for World Net Daily should write album reviews for Rolling Stone. What is the article, a book report?
The cherry on top of this entire fiasco sundae is that Republicans, in general, and Bush's Camp, in particular, are obviously surprised that Kid Rock, not surprisingly one of their supporters, could be such a piece of crap. Kid Rock is a poster child for the Republican Party, in my opinion. It's like they're all in shock that they discovered that there is a Republican out there who swears, hangs out with porn stars, and sings about blow jobs. If only Bill O'Reilly could sing and write songs.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
If you're ever having a conversation with a Bush supporter, and you want an example of how his persistence and self-righteousness has a negative impact on our country, try this one. It's been months since they concluded that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, no imminent threat, no chemical and biological weapons. And we're just now calling off the search? That's a pretty stellar response time. The Fire Department in Lingle, Wyoming (Population 200) could have responded faster, and they're drunk about 96% of the time.
It would have been much easier (not to mention less expensive and deadly for thousands of people) just to admit that he didn't like Saddam, and that's why we invaded Iraq. Instead, he sent Powell in front of the UN with satellite photography of grain silos and anhydrous ammonia tanks from a farm in Crawford, Texas in a Power Point presentation, and lied to the world.
The best part: No one cares. Randy Moss pretending to moon the crowd at Lambeau Field is front page news to Fox, CNN, and the Green Bay Daily Cheesagram, but the completely futile, 2 year search for Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction that resulted in countless deaths and assured us to experience a whole new generation of terrorism? Try page A15, next to the story about the woman in Cleveland who was mauled and killed by her cloned pet cat.
Monday, January 10, 2005
You probably also saw the Minnesota Vikings' Randy Moss pretend to moon the fans at Green Bay's Lambeau Field, after scoring a touchdown in the 4th Quarter of Sunday's game. As far as the act itself, it was barely noteworthy in my opinion. Reaction to Moss' celebration has varied from who cares (which adequately sums up my feeling) to Fox Sports Anchor Daryl Johnston calling for Moss to be suspended. Most observers in the media think Moss will likely be fined the customary $5000 for an obscene gesture by the NFL.
Jake Plummer, Quarterback and interception aficionado for the Denver Broncos, received such a fine by the NFL for giving the finger to fans in Denver at the end of the first half in the Miami Dolphins game earlier this season. I wonder if Daryl Johnston was calling for Jake Plummer's suspension after that incident. I can tell you that he wasn't. But, that's probably because flipping people off is much less offensive than pretending to moon the crowd, right?
The problem I have with all of this is that by putting it as the top story from an exciting weekend of football, as Fox Sports currently has, you're giving Randy Moss the attention that he craves. It's not even worth the amount of time and energy that it takes a someone to write it up, and Fox is making it front page news.
Uh Oh! We're back to exactly what I was talking about on Friday with the things that people choose to get pissed off about. Randy's actions on Sunday were absolutely and completely inconsequential in our lives, and people are acting like he lied about weapons of mass destruction and got us into a war where thousands of people have died unnecessarily. Oh wait, we wouldn't really get all that upset about that, would we? In fact, Randy Moss might be President right now if he had done that. But, as per usual, I digress.
I have a suggestion for Daryl Johnston and anyone else who actually gave more than 2 seconds of consideration to Randy's ridiculous display: take that same outrage you are subjecting us to about football, and direct it towards something that really matters. How about what the hell we're going to do about North Korea, or why the Bush Administration refuses to sign the Kyoto Protocol, or why 10% of US children have no health insurance?
I don't care if Randy Moss sticks a banana up his ass the next time he scores a touchdown. If we didn't heap attention on him or Terrell Owens or Joe Horn each time they did something stupid like that, it would go away. And the best part about not caring, is that even if he continued to do it, we don't care because he's just a football player! See how easy that is? No time spent worrying about what will Randy do next. Maybe we even start putting our thinking caps on and trying to solve some real problems like how exactly are we supposed to force Iraq to become a democracy or how to prevent terrorists from attacking power plants. Outrage is such a powerful thing, except when it's inappropriately applied under circumstances we should have barely even noticed.
Friday, January 07, 2005
This time of year also marks the one-year anniversary of the Super Bowl Surprise featuring Janet Jackson and her right nipple. Mister Bling sent me a link from The Smoking Gun that includes some of the complaints received by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the broadcast. If those aren't quality enough for you, The Smoking Gun also has a group of similar complaints about an episode of Oprah, where Oprah discussed teen sexuality, including how to toss someone's salad. As if we needed Oprah's advice on how to lick someone's anus.
As you can see from reading the complaints (I particularly enjoyed the one from the person who was a member of the Citizens against Unclean Network Trash), people really have a ton of moral outrage for what they see on TV. This guy is suing Fear Factor for making him and another person in his home vomit while they watched an episode where contestants ate dead rats. I wish I could sue every bartender that has served me drinks that eventually made me puke.
Aside from the obvious entertainment value of some of these complaints, the message here is that a large number of people are pissed off about what they see on TV, so much so, that we're willing to write a letter to complain to the FCC about it, when someone shows us their nipple or eats a dead rat or describes a sex act. The last time I checked, we've all got nipples (I've even met a few people with more than just the customary two), we're all products of a sex act (except George Bush, who was conceived during a crude oil wrestling match between Dick Cheney and Carl Rove) and Fear Factor has a segment every single week where contestants have to eat something disgusting. Despite the predictability of it all, people continue to voice their outrage.
Seriously, I want to know where the public outrage is for the increasing number of US casualties and already staggering numbers of Iraqi civilian casualties? This is something that we see every day on the news, and no one really seems to care what the justification is behind all this carnage. Some of the most touching complaints to the FCC were from parents who were concerned that their children were being exposed to sexual subject matter that was inappropriate, and yet, these same families seem to show no similar outrage for the massive killing that's going on as a result of our President's hubris that is highlighted on the news each night. This parent was incredibly upset because she was going to have to explain oral sex and tossing salad to her children who viewed Oprah, but I would like to hear her explain to anyone, let alone her children, why we continue to occupy Iraq at the cost of thousands of human lives on both sides of the conflict. I have yet to hear a good explanation.
Do you think the Tsunami victims would care about seeing Janet Jackson's nipple or hearing Oprah give oral sex tips? Our President pledged a mere $35 million to the Tsunami relief efforts ($5 million less than his proposed inauguration gala). According to this site, the average cable bill is about $50/month and rising. If you're so damned outraged about what's on TV, take the money you're paying for cable just for this month, and give it to the Tsunami victims. This way your kids won't grow up to be in porno movies because they saw how to give a BJ on Oprah, and people in Asia will be able to eat and have clean water. See how taking action with your ridiculous cable television problem can help someone else in a very real way?
We spend so much time and energy worrying about what's on TV, that we completely lose perspective about REAL PROBLEMS. If you don't like what's on Fear Factor or Oprah, change the channel. It seems like the 700 Club is on 24 hours these days. And it's not like you're sitting there watching an Oprah episode about remodeling your kitchen, and then all of the sudden, in between why Sub Zero makes the best refrigerators and why composite sinks are better than cast iron, Oprah just throws out how to give a great blow job. The entire episode was about sex. Fear Factor is a stupid show, where EVERY WEEK they eat something gross. They ought to rename Fear Factor to Fall, Get Wet, Eat Shit, and Lose. If you have a weak stomach, they're showing Golden Girls reruns on the WB. Ok, maybe that's not the best suggestion for those with weak stomachs, but you get my drift.
Can you think of the collective good we could achieve if these morons quit watching so much TV or even donated one month of cable subscription to UNICEF or The Red Cross? Stop acting like your TV owns your mind and that of your entire family. If people didn't tune in to watch sex on TV, they would find something else to try to get you to tune in. There's a reason that Desperate Housewives is one of the top rated shows on TV, and it's not for the riveting, intelligent dialogue. People who complain about what's on TV should remember how lucky they are to have electricity, a safe place to watch TV, enough money to afford cable, and a government that hasn't yet seized control of all media. If you think about all that, it makes you realize how lucky we all are to be ABLE to complain about what's on TV. There are people all over the world who don't have food or water right now, and you're complaining about your damned TV?
If you don't like what I've written, I included a link in the title of this posting to the FCC website so that you can write and complain.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Now that the Presidential Election has given us another reason to drink and do drugs, The Polling Report continues to provide a variety of interesting and troubling information about the state of public opinion as we start 2005.
Top 5 Reasons for Hope in the American People:
5) Even after he died on the day I got married, only 31-36% of Americans surveyed would support putting Ronald Reagan on US Currency. Last year, only 16% want to replace Franklin Roosevelt on the dime with Reagan. Source
4) Despite the increasing Evangelical leanings of our society, 61% of Americans polled would have pulled the plug on Terri Schiavo last year, given her medical condition. Source
3) Abortion may be very controversial, but 56% of Americans still think abortion should be legal under some circumstances and 50% believe that Roe v. Wade should be upheld. Source
2) Just about as many people think education and health care are as important as terrorism, in terms of what issues our President and Congress need to address in the next year. (86-87% for all three issues) Source .
1)You won't read about it in the mainstream media, but two recent polls showed President Bush's approval rating dipping below 50%. Source Despite the outcome of the Election, it's still good to know that more people question the ability of our President than think he's doing a good job.
And then we have the Top 5 reasons to flee to Canada (aside from the fact that you can get a flu shot):
5) 62% of Americans support the death penalty, even though substantial evidence exists to show that we're not doing it justly. Source
4) A majority of Americans polled are opposed to civil unions for homosexual couples. That is so unbelievably QUEER! Source. One of these days, we'll figure out what equal rights really means.
3) A reason for #4? A whopping 55% of Americans in-general (not just Christians) believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Have these fools read the whole thing? Source. Strangely, 35% of non-Christians also believe Jesus was the son of God.
2) Along similar lines and in spite of a wealth of scientific evidence, 55% of Americans polled believe in Creationism alone, without any scientific explanation. Source. Why haven't we figured out that Religious beliefs are not a substitute for good scientific education? When will we understand that scientific theory and religion are not opposing forces? Obviously, not right now.
1) If you scroll down this page far enough, you will see the results of a Gallup Poll conducted in May 2003. It ranks different acts as being more or less morally acceptable. For example, the survey found that while 66% of people think divorce is morally acceptable, only 14% of those polled feel suicide is morally acceptable. I hate people who place judgement on other people's actions probably more than anything else. Some highlights of this survey:
- 41% think sexual intercourse between unmarried people is not morally acceptable.
-About the same percentage of people think doctor-assisted suicide and homosexuality are morally acceptable.
-Twice as many people think suicide (14%) is morally acceptable than those who think polygamy (7%) is morally acceptable.
-People find polygamy and infidelity to one's spouse almost equally morally repugnant (only about 8% think either is morally acceptable).
I have an idea, let's all make a New Years resolution to not be so damned judgemental. I can hear my critics out there saying: "This website is one giant pool of judgement about other people." That's very true. The difference is that I don't hold other people to any moral standard that I am unable to meet. When I bash Bush for invading Iraq, being a homicidal maniac while Gov. of Texas, running up the deficit, ruining our education and health care systems, among other atrocities, I'm just asking him to live up to his own moral standards, and not be such a hypocrite.