Observations on the world today.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

A Brief List of Pro-Death Penalty Catholic Politicians 

The Catholic church opposes the death penalty. The following politicians - all republicans - favor the death penalty.
Tom Ridge
George Pataki
Arnold Schwartzenegger
Rick Lazio
Alan Keyes
Jeb Bush
And I wonder how many of these people use contraception?

Candidates by Issue 

Just found this site. Loved it. Thought I'd publicize it. OnTheIssues.org - Candidates on the Issues

I Don't Want to Call Anyone a Liar, but... 

Yahoo! News - Saudis Said to Aid Iraq War Extensively

The American air campaign against Iraq was essentially managed from inside Saudi borders, where military commanders operated an air command center and launched refueling tankers, F-16 fighter jets, and sophisticated intelligence gathering flights, according to the officials.

Much of the assistance has been kept quiet for more than a year by both countries for fear it would add to instability inside the kingdom. Many Saudis oppose the war and U.S. presence on Saudi soil has been used by Osama bin Laden to build his terror movement.

But senior political and military officials from both countries told The Associated Press the Saudi royal family permitted widespread military operations to be staged from inside the kingdom during the coalition force's invasion of Iraq.

These officials would only talk on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity and the fact that some operational details remain classified.
This may all be true, but the timing is incredibly suspicious. It's Saturday afternoon, and it was a week that saw a lot of criticism of the Bush administration for having shown war plans to the Saudis who then refused to aid us in the war. And none of the prinicpals will speak on the record, but they will make this sensitive "information" public for political gain? If it turns out to be true, the damage is the same whether we know their names or not, and if it turns out to be false, there is nobody to call a liar.

Color me skeptical.


How Ironic is This? 

According to most recent polls, Bush leads Kerry in the popular vote.
Graphic from pollingreport.com

Polls show Kerry ahead on electoral vote - (United Press International):

Ahh, sweet sweet irony.

So if the election were held today, the possibility exists that more Americans would vote for Bush, but John Kerry would become the 44th president of the United states. And he wouldn't even need the supreme court in his pocket to make it happen. It's a slam dunk.
The Hotline's study of reputable statewide polls conducted since January 1, 2004, has Kerry holding an overall lead in 13 states containing 204 electoral votes. President George W. Bush is currently leading in 16 states and has a total of 174 electoral votes out of the 270 necessary for election.
But this is what would be even sweeter. If Bush was to win every state he won in 2000 (except one) by a huge margin, but lose every state Gore won in 2000 by just a few votes AND if he were to lose Ohio by 535 votes. Yeah, that would be cool.


The Flip is a Flop 

John Kerry was accused yesterday of flipping in his abortion position. The premise is that shortly after the Roe v Wade decision, he commented that he opposes abortion and felt that it should be a state’s rights issue. Since then, he has come to fully understand the law, and supports it whole-heartedly. This is not a flip-flop.

Nuanced adjustments are not flips. In 1972, Kerry felt that the federal government had no business interfering in the issue of reproductive rights although he personally opposed the idea of abortion as a choice. In 2004, Kerry feels that the federal government has no business interfering in the issue of reproductive rights although he personally opposes the idea of abortion as a choice.

In 1972, Kerry was not running for president, so he spoke to the issue as a representative of the state of Massachusetts. In 2004, he is running for president and speaks to the issue as the potential emissary of the executive branch.

But the right-wing is also using the fact that Kerry, a Catholic, accepted Eucharist after being told by an Archbishop that his position on abortion makes him ineligible to receive the host. True, Kerry supports a woman's right to choose. However, he is not pro-abortion. He feels strongly that abortion is wrong. So do I. Kerry has never driven a girlfriend to an abortion clinic. He simply votes based on the law and lives by the bible. The first is his duty to his constituents as defined by the Constitution. The second is how he sees his duty to his God.

By the way, the church is also anti-death penalty. How many Catholic governors have ever taken Eucharist and then sent a man to his death in ol' sparky? The Catholic church is also opposed to the war in Iraq. How many Catholic chaplains give communion on a regular basis to soldiers in the field? How many women in this country who have had abortions or men who have paid for abortions and have never confessed to it do you think the church sees in the lineup every week?

Look, the Catholic church is free to be hypocritical about their own positions any time they want. I'm fine with that. But I'm not going to allow their hypocrisy to determine my vote.



Friday, April 23, 2004

Win a Pizza 


Read the article linked above, and if anyone can give me a reasonable explanation for what the flip was, I'll buy you a tray of Iggy's Pizza.


Show Your Colors 

Photos of Soldiers' Coffins Revive Controversy (washingtonpost.com):
The Pentagon lost its tight control over the images of coffins returning from Iraq as about 350 such images were released under the Freedom of Information Act and a Seattle newspaper published a similar photo taken by a military contractor.

After Dover Air Force Base, the main port for returning remains, released hundreds of government photos of the ceremonies, the Defense Department ordered yesterday that no more photographs be released. In addition, two employees for defense contractor Maytag Aircraft were fired after the Pentagon complained about a photo of flag-draped caskets taken by one of them that appeared in the Seattle Times.
You know, people have actually bought into the idea that showing these images is somehow un-American. I was recently berated for posting the picture taken by Tami Silicio, the Maytag employee who was fired, on a message board. And the webmaster deleted the image to appease the terrorists patriots thugs who complained that they had to see images of casket-shaped flags in a cargo hold.

Well here's news -- people in Iraq are dying. Our soldiers are dying. They made a sacrifice, and now they are gone, and we honor them by mourning their loss and recognizing the return of their remains.

So look. Look, ponder and understand.


Defining Sovereignty 

The New York Times > Washington > Politics: White House Says Iraq Sovereignty Could Be Limited
The Bush administration's plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on its sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact new laws, administration officials said Thursday.
Here's what sovereignty means:

1: government free from external control 2: royal authority; the dominion of a monarch
Well, the kind of sovereignty we are talking about "turning over" to Iraq clearly does not fit the first definition, now does it?


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Observations on a Trip to Pittsburgh 

It’s taken me a few days to post this. I have something in common with George W. Bush. We were both in dahntahn (that’s downtown to the uninitiated) Pittsburgh at 6:30 PM on April 19, 2004. I was there because my five-year-old daughter had been accidentally burned. (She’s home now, by the way.) Bush - on the other hand - was there to promote his God-given right to burn five-year-old Iraqi children.

What happened was that I had heard on the radio that W. would be coming in at 5 PM, so I intentionally waited until after 6 to leave the hospital. However, I had not taken into account that he would be in the convention center speaking just as I would be passing the building. I turned off Liberty Ave., onto Grant Street toward Ft. Duquesne Blvd., and the road was blocked by a police barricade. I was redirected down Smallman St., and I turned on a side road to Penn Ave.

Something else I didn’t realize was that Penn Ave. was the street selected for the free-speech zone. So, Bush came in on Ft. Duquesne Blvd., and the protesters were two blocks away on Penn Ave. in a smallish corral - unseen, unheard and unnoticed by Bush. I was momentarily tempted to pull over and join the protests, but luckily thought better of it. There seemed to be very few protesters, and I saw almost as many police and reporters. The protesters had signs and banners, but seemed very disorganized. Traffic was slow, so I was able to make a leisurely observation. I became aware that many of the protesters were dressed as Ninjas. It was sort of embarrassing. They looked like the monkey warriors from Disney’s Kim Possible .
Then suddenly, right in front of me, it was 1969 all over again. I saw a policeman grab a protester by the arm, and another protester jumped in and grabbed the first protester’s free arm and engaged in a human tug-of-war.

Now here’s the thing. When protesting, and agitating, at least have the strength of conviction to go to jail. It’s fine to lay down and be dead-weight so that you are not participating in your arrest. But resisting arrest and struggling is an actual crime separate and independent from free expression. It’s the stuff of bad Cops episodes.

Then the next day, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I learned what was actually going on:
Earlier in the protest, a line of officers used their bicycles to push back a group of young people carrying signs who stepped off the curb. Most wore black hoods and masks.

Tim Vining, executive director of the Thomas Merton Center, a local social justice group that organized the protest, said the masked people were part of the Pittsburgh Organizing Group, which opposes authority.

T.J. Hicks, Bloomfield, said he and others wore masks so they could not be "singled out." He said he would likely protest any president.
So these people were not protesting Bush. They were protesting authority. They’d have put on their black Harlequin costumes to protest Clinton, the pope or a convention of bossy mothers. These people didn’t have a message, and I don’t think they were particularly honest. Also from the PG article.
Tiffany Way, 22, said her friend, Nina Trimbath, was arrested because she questioned one of the other arrests.

"All she did was ask why," said Way, of Alum Bank, Bedford County.
If these were the Ninjas I saw playing push-me-pull-you; no, she didn’t just ask why.

Kids, do us all a favor. Leave the protesting to the professionals.



Holy Crap! 

Los Angeles Times: Recruiting Student Privacy:
School districts across California have wrestled with a desire to protect student privacy while complying with a mandate authorized by the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act, the education law passed in 2001.

Under that mandate, recruiters are entitled to get the names, addresses and phone numbers of high school juniors and seniors, unless parents or students sign a form requesting that the data be withheld. Districts that don't comply stand to lose millions in federal funding.
Is this happening everywhere? I'm on the phone firstthing tomorrow morning to find out if this is happening here in my hometown! I have a son who is a high school junior. He's smart enough not to fall for recruitment propoganda, but I still don't want the school handing his records over to the military whores recruiters so that they can tailor their pitch.

Screw them. Let the people who supported this idiocy lose their children to Bush's pipedreams and leave my kid alone!


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Why the Draft is Immoral 

Pandagon: The Military Archives
I think a draft would be significantly more moral than our current way of staffing our military. In fact, I'm sympathetic to the idea that the country should have two compulsive years of service in return for free college, and make that relevant across the board. If people want to pay for private schools fine, everyone's kids have to serve the country and they'll all reap the rewards in the successive years. Programs that force people of different classes, races, regions and ideologies are, in my view, a good thing for the country.
I am very weary of this topic. Two days ago on Majority Report, Janeane Garofalo announced that she favors the draft also because it is the only way to assure that Americans from all walks of life serve equitably.

If this is the only reason you favor the draft, the argument against your attitude is easy. Let's break it down logically.
• Because the military is all volunteer, they have to find ways to staff the positions.
• To do this, the government offers incentives such as housing, job training and free schooling.
• However, the rich are not attracted by these incentives, so the military is inordinately staffed by the poor and middle class.
• This is de facto classism.
• So when there is a war, the poor are disproportionately the ones to fight and die.
• Therefore, to fix this inequity we must...
...have mandatory service of some sort.

But let's look at three other solutions:
• Therefore, to fix this inequity we must...
a.)...have mandatory service only for the wealthy since there is no way to create incentive for them to serve and since they benefit the most from freedom.

b.)...eliminate all incentives so that only those who truly want to serve will sign up.

c.)...allow the volunteer military to continue as it exists, but put all wars on a ballot and allow them to vote on whether they will fight or not.

Obviously, none of these options are viable. Working backward: option c is the antithesis of what the military is all about. However, of the four options, I like option c the best. Option b would result in zero enlistment and undervalues the service of those who are owed a debt by their government. Option a fixes the problem as presented in the bullet points, but it's every bit as anti-American and counter-freedom and elitist as the current situation. But the option as stated (a draft) also faces many of the same difficulties. Mandatory service is (like option c) not good for the military because it brings in hostile conscripts, and (like option a) it's anti-freedom.

Not every war is just. Present circumstances make that decidedly clear. Conscription not only says you don't get to choose your own battles, it says you don't even have the right to decide for yourself if you are willing to trust the government to choose your battles. Mandatory service tells our young people that their liberty has a window of obligatory suspension. We wouldn't suggest telling people that every citizen must perform mandatory prison time. We don't make charity or community service mandatory as a requirement of citizenship. We can't put the state and it's defense above freedom of choice - the choice to define one's own destiny.

How can people who support reproductive freedom reconcile that with supporting the concept of the suppression of actual freedom?

So do I have an alternative? Well, yes, I do. The solution is to make the incentives appeal to the children of the wealthy as well as it does to the children of the less-than-wealthy. Make it illegal for schools to grant favorable admission status to legacies. Require that applications to college be double-blind. And weight them in favor of veterans.

Socialize higher-education. Mandatory conscription is socialism and anti-freedom. You're already prepared to go the socialized route with a draft. Socializing higher-education at least eliminates half of that insult - the anti-freedom aspect. We already have socialized lower-education (although admittedly, there are inequities, but that's another issue.)

In addition, this solution not only makes the volunteer army appealing to all Americans equally, it also democratizes access to college.

Works for me.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

This Makes No Sense 

CNN.com - Woodward, White House, Saudis: No election deal on oil - Apr 20, 2004
"I don't say there's a secret deal or any collaboration on this," Woodward told CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday. "What I say in the book is that the Saudis ... hoped to keep oil prices low during the period before the election, because of its impact on the economy. That's what I say."
Wow, that's a compelling thing to put in a book about Bush's drive for war. NOT!

And it completely contradicts what he told 60 Minutes:.
Prince Bandar enjoys easy access to the Oval Office. His family and the Bush family are close. And Woodward told 60 Minutes that Bandar has promised the president that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election - to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day.
And when he had the chance to make the administration's case during a recent press gaggle, Scott McClelland completely hedged.

Now, I don't know why Woodward is unselling his book NOW, but it certainly seems to me that he's trying to mend some bridges.


Monday, April 19, 2004

Personal Note 

My 5 year-old daughter was burned last night. It's not a serious burn. She leaned too close to a candle and her hair caught fire. My wife rushed to her and put the fire out but not before she received a second degree burn to her left forehead and ear.

She has to spend a few days in Pittsbugh at the burn unit until the swelling goes down and the wounds begin to close. I'll be running around a lot for the next several days, so blogging will be on the back-burner (so to speak.)

At least we don't live in Fallujah.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

She Doesn't Represent My USA 

Thanks to Ms Magazine for the heads up.

Missouri Author, Musician Named Miss USA
A Republican, she told Reuters she would use her position to help explain America's involvement in Iraq. "What needed to be done had to be done," she said.
Asked what had to be done, she replied "You know, what needed to be done." Pressed to explain what needed to be done, she answered, "Look, if something needs to be done you have to do it. You know. Because if it has to be done you need to do it. Pshhhhhah!"

I hope Miss France kicks her ass.

Nyeh Nyeh, Told Ya So 

The Truth About 'the Wall' (washingtonpost.com) by Jamie S. Gorelick:
Fourth, the memo I wrote in March 1995 -- which concerns information-sharing in two particular cases, including the original World Trade Center bombing -- permits freer coordination between intelligence and criminal investigators than was subsequently permitted by the 1995 guidelines or the 2001 Thompson memo.
Hey that's what I said.
Friday, April 16, 2004 Posted by: Mister / 2:29 AM

Banging Your Heart Against Some Mad Bugger’s Wall
"The Gorelick rules were meant to ensure that "no 'proactive' investigative efforts or technical coverages" of terrorist suspects be carried out on U.S. soil."
But the actual wording of the memo belies this criticism.
If, in the case of the FCI investigation, facts or circumstances are developed that reasonably indicate that a significant federal crime has been, is being, or may be commited, the FBI and OIPR are each responsible for notifying the USAO and the Criminal Division.
Man, I'm like a genius or something. Either that or I have an average ability to read English, and normal comprehension levels. Sheesh, she should not even have to explain herself. This is so obvious.


Sharon Is Taking Political Advice From Bush's Dislexicon 

Yahoo! News - Hamas Appoints New Leader After Slaying:
Hamas secretly appointed a new Gaza Strip chief early Sunday, but refused to reveal his identity following Israel's assassination of two previous Hamas leaders in less than a month.
There's an old saying that goes, Better the enemy you don't know than the enemy you do.

Wait, that doesn't sound right.

"Fool me once, shame ... er shame on you. Fool me ... fool - you can't get fooled again!" -- George W. Bush

Freepers Make Such Useful Idiots 

CNN.com - IAEA: Iraq nuke plants apparently unguarded - Apr 16, 2004
Some Iraqi nuclear facilities appear to be unguarded, and radioactive materials are being taken out of the country, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency reported after reviewing satellite images and equipment that has turned up in European scrapyards.
When this story broke a few days ago, it blew my mind, but I chalked it up to oversight. However, somebody recently brought this eleven month-old Free Republic article to my attention:

Iraq looters exposed to radioactive yellow cake
Iraq-Villagers looted a nuclear power facility here during the waning days of the war and instead of treasure, may have made off with death-drums filled with radioactive uranium oxide concentrate, also called yellow cake.

According to officials with the Iraq nuclear energy commission, the storage facility at Zafaraniya was guarded by Iraqi troops until April 4. However, they fled in the face of approaching U.S. Marines.

With the arrival of the Marines, the Zafaraniya facility was nominally under control of U.S. forces. However no special guards were posted and residents of a neighboring village looted the facility on April 6 and 7.
If this is still going on after this story - which was widely broadcast at the time - it isn't simply attributable to oversight any longer. It's outright negligence.


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