Observations on the world today.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

The Coolest Pen Ever... 

The coolest thing happened today. Completely out of the blue, and with no warning, I got this really cool pen in the mail today from True Majority, the 527 founded by Ben Cohen from Ben and Jerry's.

They are available through The True Majority Store for $5.00 each, or you can get more for a discount. I may be sending away for 10 which will only cost $20.

The pens feature a scroll which shows through graphs how America's spending on the military in terms of billions per year relates to such countries as Russia and China, and how it relates to the military spending of the "Axis of Evil."

In non-graph terms: US = $399b, Russia = $65b, China = $47b and the A of E = just $7b.

The chart also shows that our allies (which I suppose means the "Coalition of the Willing" as well as our other allies - Canada, France, Germany etc.) spend an additional $225b combined.

The reverse has yet another chart. This one shows that same $399b US dollars budgeted for the military in relation to how much was budgeted for a - children's health programs, b - kindergarten through 12th grade education, c - humanitarian and foreign aid, d - Head Start programs, and e - to reduce our reliance on oil.

a - $41b
b - $34b
c - $10b
d - $7b
e - $2b

At the bottom, the chart shows how by simply taking a small percentage off of the military's $399b ($60b or roughly 15%) we could more than cover the costs that all of those other programs are lacking - and it would still leave a military budget of $339 billion. That 15% could come from several now superfluous and wasteful cold war era military programs, including nuclear and other programs designed specifically to fight the cold war - which is over.

All that from a litle pen.

Steady Leadership My Eye 

Yahoo! News - Bush Ads Use World Trade Center Imagery
"I know exactly where I want to lead this country," Bush says in a different ad.
And just where exactly would that be, George? Down the crapper?

This is the same thing dubya said in his Meet the Press Interview.
President Bush: Well, I don't plan on losing. I’ve got a vision for what I want to do for the country. See, I know exactly where I want to lead. I want to lead us — I want to lead this world toward more peace and freedom. I want to lead this great country to work with others to change the world in positive ways, particularly as we fight the war on terror, and we got changing times here in America, too.
Well, that's just great, George. And now would be as good a time as any to start.

Seriously, I think this may be a theme that they have trained him to parrot. And it doesn't mean a damned thing. It's almost as if he is saying that - unlike those other guys - he has a secret plan for where he wants to lead the country.

Any boob can say, "I know exactly where I want to lead this country." I'm sure Dennis Kucinich knows exactly where he wants to lead this country. So does Lyndon LaRouche. Why should I vote for George W. Bush just because he claims he knows exactly where he wants to lead this country over either of those other men? Doesn't John Kerry know where he wants to lead the country? Didn't Howard Dean? Doesn't Osama bin Laden?

We all know where Bush wants to lead this country. A greater variance in the gap between rich and poor. A huge deficit. Culture wars. Quagmire after quagmire. The gradual destruction of every single New Deal program. And who knows what else - the New World Order?


Friday, March 05, 2004

An Adjustment to the Cabinet. 

Pandagon: Government in Waiting

Ezra Klein at Pandagon suggested what he calls a "shadow government." His idea is that Kerry should name his cabinet NOW and let them counter every statement Bush's cabinet makes move-for-move. Of course, since the actual cabinet needs congressional confirmation, these people would still be subject to republican review.

At any rate, several readers of the site chimed in that ex-military must be out of the service for ten years before being named secretary of defense. This effects my own pick of Lt. General Claudia Kennedy, so I am going to do a little reshuffling.

President John Kerry
VP Max Cleland
National Security Advisor Wes Clark
Sec. of State Lt. General Claudia Kennedy
Chief of Staff Gary Hart
Sec. of Homeland Security Al Gore
Sec. of Defense Leon Fuerth
Deputy Secretary of Defense Joe Wilson
Attorney General John Edwards
Surgeon General Howard Dean
EPA Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Fed Chair Paul Krugman

I had to remove Hillary from this list, but I'm certain there is a good position for her. Perhaps Management and Budget Director?

The Poll's Okay; The Headline Sucks. 

Yahoo! News - AP Poll Finds Bush, Kerry Tied in Race

Let's look at this poll, shall we?

First, the poll shows Kerry gradually gaining on Bush even before he was the nominee, but even more significantly, the poll gives 6% to Nader. Surely those 6% are not drawn from the pool of Bush supporters, no matter what Republican Virgil Ahlberg of Apison, Tenn. says. So the question becomes, is Nader a spoiler, and my answer is no.

No for several reasons. A - it's still early. B - Nader will not even be on the ballot in all fifty states. C - Nader has suggested himself that he may pull out if it looks like his candidacy is going to benefit Bush (although I'm not sure that we can take him at his word for that one.)

Nader is supposedly making a statement with his candidacy (although I'll be darned if I can figure out what that statement is.) Perhaps those who - in polls today - claim that they plan to support Nader are also making a statement. But if they want rid of Bush, come election day, they better understand that the only statement that is going to count is the statement that they are pulling the Kerry lever.


Thursday, March 04, 2004

This Is the Only Comment That Needs Be Made Today 

New York Daily News - Home - Furor over Bush's 9/11 ad
"It's a slap in the face of the murders of 3,000 people," said Monica Gabrielle, whose husband died in the twin tower attacks. "It is unconscionable."


Wednesday, March 03, 2004

New Nominee For the Fed 

Op-Ed Columnist: Maestro of Chutzpah

I had nominated Paul O'Neill for a replacement for Alan Greenspan. What was I thinking? Paul Krugman! I sing it from the mountaintops! O'Neill is still a good choice to sit in on some economic panel or other, or maybe under-secretary to the treasury. But Krugman, Krugman, he's our man!

What's Good for the Cooked Goose... 

MSNBC - Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind
With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.

But NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.
Remember when all of those stupid email rumors were flying around about how Clinton had let bin Laden get away when he had the chance to stop him? Well, here's the thing, those rumors were NOT TRUE. This story PROBABLY is. AND this happened AFTER Bush declared war on terrorism.

I swear, if Bush wins his election in 2004, every Republican in the country ought to be forced to be tattooed across the forehead with the word "hypocrite" in bold red letters.


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Super Tuesday 

Well, it's finally here. Once again Super Tuesday has come and again there is almost no real reason to vote in the party nominating system as it is a foregone conclusion already. Oh well, at least Ohio is not New Jersey. Actually, that is a sentiment I could express for several reasons, but in this case it is just because New Jersey votes on the last date in the primaries.

As you are by now surely aware, my candidate, Howard Dean, has dropped out of the race. He is, however, still on the ballot in Ohio. I intend to vote for him today. I realize that my vote for him will not help garner him the nomination. It will, however, potentially help him to garner delegates, although it probably won’t even do that.

The thing is, my reasons for supporting his candidacy are all still in play. My vote would do nothing for Kerry, and I see no reason to support Edwards over Kerry or vice versa. However, my Dean vote may just demonstrate my disappointment with the way our system allows the vote to be manipulated. After all, this is just a primary vote in a decision which has mostly already been made by other states than Ohio. I certainly wouldn’t advocate "wasting" a vote in the general election, but today is my chance to let Iowa know that I think they got it wrong.


Sunday, February 29, 2004

But What About Naomi? 

ActForChange : Act Now
Spurred by the recent Massachusetts State Supreme Court decision against discrimination, some members of the radical religious right are aggressively campaigning to amend the U.S. Constitution to deny the right to marry to same-sex couples in committed relationships. The proposed amendment (H.J. Res 56/S.J. Res 26) would also invalidate all state and local domestic partnership laws and nullify civil rights protections based on marital status.
Not that I think this Amendment has a snowball's chance of being ratified anyway, but I've come up with a few very interesting questions which I think we, the loyal opposition, could use to help squash the issue even in some of the iffy states.

The questions all concern the issue of transgendered couples. Suppose a man was to marry a woman who used to be a dude? Suppose a woman who became a dude married a chick who used to be a guy? And another thing, suppose a woman marries a guy, and the guy later becomes a chick? What happens to the marriage then?

Then there is the issue of swingers. If marriage is between one man and one woman, what happens to people with open marriages? Do we still have to recognize polygamous marriages when foreign visitors from countries where it is legal to take several wives come to our shores?

These issues are not addressed in the legislation. And simply asking the question of proponents of the Amendment puts them in a very dubious position. It basically forces them to acknowledge that the issue is not cut-and-dried. It forces them to examine the paradox of what-they-mean-by-that when they try to define heterosexual normalcy let alone when they try to dictate private decisions like who one will mate.

And then there is the issue of the reasoning for the amendment push in the first place. That being that marriage is a sacred institution established by God. As noted by Jon in the World Wide Rant:
The first "marriage" was between Adam & Eve (unless you count legends of Adam’s earlier wives, but we’ll ignore those and go strictly with the ancient texts that are available in Wal-Mart). That "holy union" resulted in the Fall of Man, the expulsion from Paradise, original sin and an excellent novella with a beautiful epilogue by Mark Twain.

Skipping ahead many generations we come to Abraham, the man 3/5 of the world’s population claim as founder of whichever of the several one true religions they follow. Abraham was married to his half-sister, a fact which evidently bothered God not in the slightest as He chose the couple to be the direct ancestors of his Chosen people and of the Messiah (now a major motion picture). When Sarah grew impatient for a child, Abraham, at her request, impregnated Hagar, her maid (this was long before unions), whose willingness to the union is not mentioned. Later Sarah thought better of the idea and drove both maid and son into the desert. (That God wasn’t terribly upset by the first recorded surrogate mother is evidenced by the consolation gifts he gave them, which included a supernatural spring for Hagar & Ishmael and the world’s richest petroleum reserves for their descendants.) After Sarah died Abraham married again, going Tony Randall four better by siring six children when he was well over 100 and then driving them into the desert as well like a good father-uncle would do for his sort-of firstborn.
In fact, the bible takes no position whatever on transgendered marriages, or - for that matter - on the responsibility of the federal government in democratic nations to define them with legal-speak. It does however, sanction incestuous, vengeful, whoring, chattel-taking, polygamist, hetero unions.


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