31 July 2003

U.S. Military an instrument not of defense, but of control and plunder of peripheral peoples

A quote from an interview with former Army Special Forces Sergeant and West Point military instructor Stan Goff. Interesting reading and a rebuttal to the sterotypical portrayal of military personnel.

And as you can certainly deduce from the headline quote blurb, he's no fan of the Bush administration.

Bush is making more politically fatal mistakes than I can count these days. His so-called build-up of the military is one of them. He is not in fact building up the military, depending on how you define that. He is building up the weapons industry, at the behest of his mad military advisor, Donald Rumsfeld - a weird man who has convinced himself without a shred of evidence to support it, that he is a military genius.

Rumsfeld has convinced himself that technology can replace human leadership and ingenuity on the battlefield, so he is prevailing on his intellectually challenged boss to buy lots of expensive toys. I write at length about this Rumsfeld Doctrine in "Full Spectrum Disorder," the book that's coming out in December from Soft Skull Press. This whole trend is being reinforced within the administration by his coterie of neo-con economists who think they can replicate the Reagan era recovery through military Keynesianism. Like I said, the sum of these errors will be far greater than their parts. Unfortunately, other people will pay with treasure and blood, and the whole clique will retire in comfort to write their bullshit memoirs and give lectures. The military itself, if you look at the humans who populate it, is undergoing the same kind of attacks on its living standards as the whole rest of the American working class, in order to pay for Rumsfeld’s killer drones and super-subs.

Is the Bush clan that detached from economic reality?

How out of touch is President Bush on the plight of the American worker?

In his press conference today, he was asked about the wretched state of the economy and sour job prospects. Like a robot that spits out the same scripted voice track, he responded with the expected "tax cuts create growth" mantra. But the followup question really details the extent of the myopia that clouds the current administration:

Thank you, Mr. President. Staying with that theme, although there are some signs of improvement in the economy, there are sectors in the work force who feel like they're being left behind. They're concerned about jobs going overseas, that technology is taking over jobs. And these people are finding difficulty finding work. And although you're recommitted yourself to your tax cut policy, do you have any ideas or any plans within the administration of what you might do for these people who feel like there are fundamental changes happening in the work force and in the economy?

Incredulously, W. retorted that "jobs going overseas" is because "technology races through the economy" and "worker skills don't keep up with technological change". He then launched into a call for the championing of the community college, as the savoir of the American worker, ensuring that he or she will be retrained to keep up with the changing nature of technology. Huh?

Holy presbyopia, Batman! Maybe it isn't so far fetched - President Bush has meandered through life as the fortunate recipient enveloped by powerful family and influential brokers that have fed him with a silver spoon, tidied up his transgressions, surrounded him with ideological kingpins and insulated him from what 98% of Americans experience as everyday life.

Not that I expect my words here, or the discourse of many others, will find their way into the Bush camp. Even if they did, they would most certainly be discarded, as I've never been a fan of the Bush presidency. Still, I'm going to clear up a few things for him.

  1. Technology is not changing the "nature of jobs", the drive to replace the American worker with the lowest cost foreign national replacement is. And there exists no feasible possible comparative cost advantage for the American technology worker. When a multinational corporation can hire ten engineers for the price of one in the U.S., there is no way we can compete. Not unless the worker is a lottery winner, blessed with enourmous trust funds or already independently wealthy. Because one tenth of the average American salary isn't going to pay the mortgage or put food on the table.

  2. How can American technology workers be failing to "keep up their skills" when they are training their offshore replacements to take their positions? This scenario is playing out all over American information technology and engineering departments. Even the mainstream media, after ignoring its existence for so long, is devoting coverage to the trend. The deluge of email to business correspondents across the country has overwhelmed their inboxes.

  3. How effective will community colleges be after the devastating funding cuts that result from massive deficits inflicted by the Bush administration? As it stands right now, much of the community college curriculum is under equipped to address the dynamic nature of computing. More apropos, why should effort be expended to train and prepare for work that will no longer be done by Americans who are tagged as too costly?

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30 July 2003

What if voting bought you a chance to become a millionaire?

A gentleman from Tucson has a novel idea to increase voter participation.
Mark Osterloh, a promoter of several past voter initiatives, plans to file paperwork in Phoenix today for an initiative called the Arizona Voter Reward Act.

It would give everyone who votes in state or federal elections a chance to win $1 million in special drawings held every two years.

The prize money would come from lottery revenues and private donations, and the program would be administered by the Arizona Lottery.

29 July 2003

Is the justice system stacked against black men?

KTAR morning host David Leibowitz posed the question in response to the dreadful citation contained within an article announcing a 2.6% rise in the U.S. prison population.
At the end of 2002, there were 2,166,260 Americans in local jails, state and federal prisons and juvenile detention facilities, the report found.

Another important finding was that 10.4 percent of black men ages 25 to 29, or 442,300 people, were in prison last year. By comparison, 2.4 percent of Hispanic men and 1.2 percent of white men in the same age group were in prison.

Of course it is. Just look at the disparity in sentencing between white powder cocaine cases and crack possession penalties. It's not an issue of race, though. It's a socioeconomic issue - those on the lower economic ladder rungs experience the full brunt of the prosecutor's wrath while the privileged skate away from jail sentences. Money grants the aid of competent and effective law resources. Poverty ensures that the defendant will have a court appointed attorney, and the liklihood that he will have to cop a plea even if he's innocent of the charge multiplies. Also, those unfortunate enough to inhabit "high crime" neighborhoods are subjected to more vigorous scrutiny, attention for daily activities that would go unheeded in plusher locales.

24 July 2003

Robotic Nation

Marshall Brain, founder of the web site How Stuff Works, proclaims that by 2050, robots will hold half (over 50 million) of the jobs in the United States. Brain cites Moore's Law in his argument that increasing computing power makes full scale job automation inevitable. And he presents a detailed breakdown of job categories that will be significantly transformed by robotics.

Future prognostications are always fraught with the inherent errancy in applying present day frameworks on an open, uncertain future course that nobody, except God, can see with a prescient scope. Disciples who extol the virtues of technological progress dismiss concerns of job loss by countering that new jobs are created. But, one truth is indeed clear - it does take less work and less workers. Even before the recent economic downturn and widescale job migration to the third world, job totals at Fortune 500 companies were measurably lower than they were a decade ago. While I don't subscribe that the charted future Brain sees is gospel, he is on the mark in identifying a trend that leads in that direction.
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Rumsfeld Needs to Go

Ralph Peters, retired military officer, pens a NY Post column blasting Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for his management of the Iraq campaign. Peters believes that Rumsfeld cares more for the fat corporate welfare privatization in the form of reconstruction contracts than he does the fighting soldiers.
Want to know how far off the rails things have slid at the Pentagon? Recently, the Army wanted to tally up how much money it had been forced to divert to private contractors as part of Rumsfeld's rush to privatize military tasks. The Rummycrats forbid it. They refused to let the Army balance its own books — because the privatization mafia knew what they would find: Contractors cost more, not less, than soldiers.

When honest budget managers in the services calculate the transition of any uniformed job to a private contractor, their working assumption is that the contract employee will cost the Pentagon $100,000 a year. A sergeant barely makes a quarter of that, and a private hardly a fifth — including benefits.

You, the taxpayer, are being cheated outrageously in the name of an ideologically driven crusade to reduce the size of government. This is corporate welfare that has nothing to do with the welfare of our troops. And guess what? Most of those contractors disappear when the bullets start flying.

22 July 2003

Eating Pizza Reduces Risk of Cancer

A team of researchers in Italy suggests that eating pizza regularly may help prevent cancer. Olive oil and tomato sauce are the key protective ingredients.

21 July 2003

Conservative ideology seeks to undermine the values and principles upon which this country was founded

So says Mike Newcomb, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and the only self-professed liberal talk radio host in the Valley. In a Sunday AZ Republic viewpoints column, Newcomb promotes his new radio show, On Second Thought, heard on KFNX-AM (1100) as a venue for liberals and progressives to "deconstruct the myths propagated" by the conservative movement.

I caught a bit of the show Monday morning and his phone lines were lit up with callers from all ends and sides of the political spectrum - some to assault him for his view on the Constitution, others to display support for a badly needed alternative radio outlet in contrast to the corporate conservatism prevalent on other Valley radio stations. Newcomb's show airs from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday.
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Smart Bribes

Even before Gulf War II began, some of the biggest battles were already decided. Quotes from Tommy Franks confirm Arab media rumors that U.S. special forces bribed Iraqi generals not to fight.
The article quotes a "senior official" as adding, "What is the effect you want? How much does a cruise missile cost? Between one and 2.5 million dollars. Well, a bribe is a PGM [precision-guided munition]—it achieves the aim, but it's bloodless and there's zero collateral damage."

One official is quoted as saying that, in the scheme of the whole military operation, the bribery "was just icing on the cake." But another says that it "was as important as the shooting part, maybe more important. We knew that some units would fight out of a sense of duty and patriotism, and they did. But it didn't change the outcome because we knew how many of these [Iraqi generals] were going to call in sick."

20 July 2003

Your Bid For a FOX Sports NASCAR Writing Experience?

When newspapers used to sell space in the newspaper, it was called advertising. Now it's termed a novel method of "connecting with the readers". used Ebay to auction off a NASCAR columnist and cover a race. The winning bid was $310. Actually, the practice is a recurring feature at

Well, considering that news organizations have been publishing PR releases verbatim, it's not surprising that "pay to publish" hasn't already become pervasive. What's next? Viewpoints and letters to the editor only to be printed when accompanied by a check? Slashing journalist positions and replacing with stringers willing to pay for the privilege?

Making the Mac Switch

I'm composing this item on my new toy. After a few days of fuddling with Mac OS X, I am wowed - it is both elegant and functional, even if I am still stumbling with some of the quirky obstacles for someone new to Macs.

I've never enjoyed working on a laptop computer, but this one is pure joy. It weighs less than some frisbees I used to toss around, and even without a mouse that was a requirement with other notebooks I've used, I've found the track pad to be remarkably responsive unlike the Dells and other Win-tel notebooks I've fumbled with.

The mail application included, thus far, seems to be an answer to my epic search for a simple mail client that eloquently performed and included a display presentation that made sense. I loathe all of the mail clients on the market today - MS Outlook, Navigator Composer, Pegasus, Eudora, Emacs, etc. all have their pluses, but are deficient in some key respect. So, I've managed with web mail, or my own python POP mail scripts or simply reading it on the server.

But the big bonus discovery was the ease in which I could get GNU Linux software up and running in short order. Two painless downloads, point and click to install, and then I had the Apple X11 environment operational. From there, I downloaded and installed Fink, a Mac OS X package manager that simplifies software package management by indexing available packages and automatically sorting out the dependencies. Thus, all I have to do is issue a simple command (or use the GUI Fink Commander utility) to install desired goodies like The Gimp, Freeciv and any other Linux/Unix piece of software.
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19 July 2003

GW Bush Approval Ratings Sink to Lowest Level Since August 2001

In wake of Niger Gate, President Bush's polling numbers are plummeting...

18 July 2003

White House Retaliates for ABC Report on US Soldier Complaints

Retaliation came swiftly for the homesick troops in Iraq who complained to an ABC reporter about their low morale and angst over their stay duration.
"It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. "It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."

According to the Washington Post's Lloyd Grove, White House officials were so "hopping mad" about ABC reporter Jeffery Kofman's piece that they struck back at him too, by playing the "homosexual Canadian" card.

So angry, in fact, that the next day, a White House operative alerted cyber-gossip Matt Drudge to the fact that Kofman is not only openly gay, he's Canadian.

Yesterday Drudge told us he was unaware of the ABC story until "someone from the White House communications shop tipped me to it" along with a profile of Kofman in the gay-oriented magazine the Advocate. On Wednesday, for 6 hours 38 minutes, the Drudge Report bannered Kofman's widely quoted ABC story -- in which enlisted people questioned the Army's credibility and one irked soldier went on camera to call on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign -- and linked to the Advocate piece with the understated headline "ABC NEWS REPORTER WHO FILED TROOP COMPLAINT STORY IS CANADIAN."

KFYI Bruce Jacobs Repeats Urban Legend About Clinton Draft Record

I don't know why he was ranting on Clinton, being that Clinton hasn't been president for nearly three years now, but KFYI morning host Bruce Jacobs was serving up shrill yelpings, regurgitating a circulated hoax about Bill Clinton being "a fugitive from justice" for his draft avoidance. I thought that this was beaten into the ground, after all, there were 13,461 stories in the mainstream media covering Clinton's "dodging the draft" (in contrast to 49 stories on W. Bush going AWOL from the National Guard).

It is gravely irresponsible to advance and promote such slander to the radio listener assemblage. But then again, the Bruce Jacobs show would never allow facts to get in the way of a clangorus, ignorant blustering.

17 July 2003

Bush Administration Compromises National Security to Settle a Score

According to columnist Robert Novak, senior Bush officials blew the cover of a US intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security, breaking the law to strike back at Joseph Wilson and to possibly intimidate others.

Time also has also published an article on the administration's "War on Wilson".

Journalist David Corn says that Novak's source outing Wilson's wife are "two senior administration officials".

This is not only a possible breach of national security; it is a potential violation of law. Under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, it is a crime for anyone who has access to classified information to disclose intentionally information identifying a covert agent. The punishment for such an offense is a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to ten years in prison. Journalists are protected from prosecution, unless they engage in a "pattern of activities" to name agents in order to impair US intelligence activities. So Novak need not worry.

Novak tells me that he was indeed tipped off by government officials about Wilson's wife and had no reluctance about naming her. "I figured if they gave it to me," he says. "They'd give it to others....I'm a reporter. Somebody gives me information and it's accurate. I generally use it." And Wilson says Novak told him that his sources were administration officials.

15 July 2003

Pat Robertson and Operation Supreme Court Freedom

The religous broadcaster urges his followers to pray for God to remove three justices from the Supreme Court in response to the its recent ruling that decriminalized sodomy.

On this morning's KTAR David Leibowitz program, the host put forth a proposal for a retaliatory prayer offensive - to pray that one of Robertson's grandsons turns up gay.

Perhaps Robertson is merely scurrying for a deflection of press coverage over his defense of his African business partner, Liberia dictator Charles Taylor.
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Minneapolis is America's Most Literate City

Scored by five factors - educational attainment, newspaper circulation, periodicals published, library resources and booksellers, Phoenix is ranked at #43 out of 64 total cities. Scandalously, Tucson lists at #28. My birthplace, Pittsburgh, is ranked in the top ten, at #6. Three out of the bottom five cities are located in the home state of our current president.

He won't be able to have a career designing and building stuff because all those jobs have moved to India

Another article about programmer jobs departing for offshore centers. I reckon the flurry of emails being sent by engineers, programmers and other white collar workers has resonated with writers across the nation. AZ Republic columnist Jon Talton penned a column last week on the new "brain arbitrage".
Their fearful e-mails, from Arizona and nationwide, have overtaken every other topic I hear about from readers.

American companies are no longer just sending manufacturing jobs offshore - now the jobs are high-skilled technology positions. Forrester Research, which is hardly an alarmist outfit, estimates that a cumulative 472,000 information technology jobs will move to India alone by 2015. Call-center jobs, a staple of the regional economy here, are already on their way. A total of 3.3 million service sector jobs are expected to be part of the exodus.

The companies are playing what the Financial Times calls "brain arbitrage." That's the difference in cost between a skilled knowledge worker in India, or another developing nation, and the United States or Western Europe. The developing nations have an insurmountable advantage. The top 100 financial institutions in the world expect to save $180 billion a year by moving jobs to lower-wage countries. The loss for Western countries: 2 million jobs.

Some, like this so-annointed "Boswell of Silicon Valley" says we should stop whining and embrace the new better jobs and talented immigrants instead of lamenting the jobs lost. Yeah, try telling that to some poor soul who can't meet the mortgage payment now or others who are working double part time jobs in a feeble attempt to make ends meet. The India press is all over the issue, even more so than our national scribes, as they throttle up the lobbyist effort to protect their bustling software industry. One group actually has the audacity to proclaim that outsourcing has saved U.S. jobs! And I guess the H1-B visa holder replacement that I had to train before I was terminated was a positive result on my professional career? Black is white, up is down.
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13 July 2003

Take the 2004 Presidential Candidate Selector Test

A short 17 question survey that will query your stances on the issues and then evaluate your input against the field of 2004 presidential candidates and thier actions, public votes, public statements and special interest group rankings (i.e., National Rifle Association, ACLU, etc. ...). A list is then generated, ranking the candidates on how close they matchup to your political views.
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12 July 2003

Democratic Presidential Hopeful Guest Blogs for Lawrence Lessig

Presidential candidate Howard Dean is going to play guest blogger for Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig. Lessig, author of the classic text The Future of Ideas, has been outspoken about how new and more stringent copyright protections hampers creation and harms the public. In short, Lessig rails against the corporate raiding of the intellectual commons, and the threat to freedom. Applying traditional real life law to cyberspace is lunacy in Lessig's view.

But I wasn't aware that Howard Dean was on the same wavelength as Lessig regarding net policy. Dean is rushing full steam into the internet thing, and he's one of the first presidential candidates to enter the blogosphere. (Dennis Kucinich also has a blog up and running). It's refreshing to witness such candidness by a presidential contender, considering that one of the current executive branch chief's first online policy moves was to refrain from sending any email. And GW Bush's total online dialog is confined to the republishing of carefully crafted remarks, or the sanitized quoting by obedient capitol press scribes.

So it is time for me to take a break from this space too. But I’ve arranged for a much more interesting guest blogger while I’m gone: former governor, and presidential candidate, Howard Dean.

This is, I believe, the first time a presidential candidate has been a guest blogger. But it is an obvious extension of blogs and the process of becoming President. Campaigns are all about meeting different groups and talking about ideas. Where better than a blog?

I have great respect for Governor Dean, and especially the clarity of his voice. I have even greater respect now that I see the doctor makes house calls. So Governor, welcome to this tiny server at Stanford: You’ll find perfect acoustics provided by MovableType, and an interesting mix of views provided by the readers.

Of course, this all could be an orchestrated Dean campaign ruse to solidify his growing base of avid internet patron support. Like antoher previous Democratic candidate, who professed to "feel your pain". Or maybe it's just another step in a pioneering foray deep into an online political campaign, testing the feasiblility of future ventures in a token attempt to capture the Democratic nomination.
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Thirty Tools for Writers

A list of tips on writing and revising.
At times it helps to think of writing as carpentry. That way, writers and editors can work from a plan and use tools stored on their workbench. A writer or coaching editor can borrow a writing tool at any time. And here’s a secret: Unlike hammers and chisels, writing tools never have to be returned. They can be passed on to another journalist without losing them.


U.S. Representative Ron Paul, a Republican himself though he's probably better known for his libertarian philosophy, issues a scathing indictment of the neoconservatives in a public statement to his colleagues (C-SPAN carried the speech live). Paul believes neoconservatism is a dangerous affront to democracy, conservative and liberal ideas.

He decries the Bush administration platform point by point - from "the ends justify the means" philosophy to their secretive practices concealing facts from the public and belief in the necessity of lying. How they are proponents of imperialism, and endorse attacks on civil liberties. Most of all, because they've abandoned the true conservative principles of limited government based on the constitution in favor of massive government growth and the benefits of power that come from that expansion.
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11 July 2003

Baghdad Blogger

The Baghdad blogger, author of the blog Where is Raed, has penned an article for the UK Guardian that contrasts British and American occupation zones and some commentary on "blood money" negotiations. I'm not sure if this his first "installment", or if it's a recurring feature that's elevated the young Iraqi from the blogsphere into the mass media realm, but it's a most interesting read, nevertheless.

The difference between Baghdad and Basra?

The other reason why it feels like you are going into another country is the British presence in the south. The first thing you notice is that everything is smaller, their vehicles are tiny compared with what the Americans are using in Baghdad. They have these cute little tanks which go really fast, our driver called them "baby-tanks". As we were entering Basra we encountered a small convoy, just a couple of vehicles escorted by the British equivalent of a Humvee. On the top sat a soldier with a BIG gun.

In Baghdad that gun would be pointing either at the car right behind the military vehicle or at the sidewalk, scanning the buildings. But the British guy wasn't pointing at anything, he was just looking around with the gun turned in, at an angle that would have shot him in the foot if it had gone off by accident. You appreciate this only after you have been driving behind an American Humvee and praying that your car doesn't backfire or make strange noises, because the US soldier has that gun pointing right at you.

Here, his advice to the British over "blood money" arrangements - to improve tribal connections and employ a better negotiator:
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10 July 2003

Medical Malpractice Bill Dies in Senate

Senate Democrats killed a draconian medical malpractice bill that would have limited damage awards to $250,000. Republicans, in support of the legislation, argued that this proposal was needed to address the health care crisis of rising premiums and "driving doctors out of business". Republicans, in pig like fashion, ever so beholden to thier insurance industry suitors, eagerly distort the truth and promote pure spin in this debate.

An oft repeated bromide is the notion that malpractice lawyers are the primary cause for the high price of health insurance. A number of recent news articles, including an extensive USA Today study, have debunked this assertion.

But a six-week study by USA TODAY finds that while some doctors in particularly vulnerable specialties — obstetrics, neurosurgery and some high-risk surgical fields — face severe problems, most physicians are minimally affected. Premiums are rising rapidly, but no more than other health care costs. They represent only a small slice of doctors' expenses. Even for the hardest-hit specialists, the most severe problems are concentrated in a handful of states.

How much of a doctor's revenue goes to malpractice insurance? A March 2002 government report by MedPAC, a congressional advisory commission, says doctors, on average, were expected to spend 3.2% of their revenue on malpractice insurance last year. That compares with 12.4% for staff salaries, 11.6% for office expenses and 1.9% for medical equipment. Calculations based on two surveys published by Medical Economics magazine — widely read by physicians — last year show that OB-GYNs paid the most for malpractice insurance, as a percentage of their revenue, 6.7%, and cardiologists paid the least, 1.5%.

Some other factual tidbits:

  • Less than 2% of malpractice claims result in a winning verdict at trial, according to insurance industry estimates.
  • In some states, medical organizations and regulators have failed to weed out bad doctors. That has caused malpractice rates to go up for all.

As far as damage caps go, a recent Time article shows doctor's malpractice insurance rates are higher in states with damage caps.
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9 July 2003

Was Liberia Founded By Freed U.S. Slaves?

An article published by Slate, written by Mary Kay Ricks, repuidates the oft repeated mantra ubiquitous in the current news headlines that Liberia was a country "founded by freed U.S. slaves".
Not quite. Although some freed American slaves did settle there, Liberia was actually founded by the American Colonization Society, a group of white Americans—including some slaveholders—that had what certainly can be described as mixed motives. In 1817, in Washington, D.C., the ACS established the new colony (on a tract of land in West Africa purchased from local tribes) in hopes that slaves, once emancipated, would move there. The society preferred this option to the alternative: a growing number of free black Americans demanding rights, jobs, and resources at home.

Ben Miranda Calls Randy Graf a "Racist or an Uneducated Fool"

Critics of the proposed Protect Arizona NOW are tagging proponents of this initiative as "racist". State representative, Ben Miranda (D), came right out and played the race card against Randy Graf (R).
"What drives them is race, there is no other explanation for what they are doing today," said Rep. Ben Miranda, D-Phoenix. "To call Randy Graf, and I wish he was here, a racist or an uneducated fool, is perfectly on the dot."

It's a preposterous charge. Many Arizonians are opposed to illegal immigration, yet are not racist by any means. I'm sure there's some marching against illegal immigration that are motivated by bigotry, but to affix a racist label to a substantive voting block is an outrage. I oppose illegal immigration because, um, it's illegal. Without even venturing into pro or con arguments on whether or not mass immigration is duly needed, it would be a sorry day (and some may suggest this is already the state of America) if everyone decided which laws should be obeyed and which should not, and then acted accordingly upon those whims.

But, let's examine the selling points of the proposed initiative and see if any tint of prejudice can be found:

The initiative will require proof of citizenship to register to vote AND require proof of citizenship to receive any non-federally mandated benefits/goods/services. In other words, everyone will be required to prove they are a citizen to register to vote, and the initiative will ban using taxpayer funds for programs or benefits for illegal aliens unless mandated by the federal goverment.

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8 July 2003

Michael Savage "Wiener" Outed

The virulent right wing talker, who just got dismissed from his MSNBC duties, has a little secret, according to this publication. Radar has posted some letters from Michael Wiener (Savage's real name) to friend Allen Ginsberg. Here's a photo shot of one of the letters ...

No wonder the venom. And it reminds me of that comedian Bobcat Goldwaith's bit where he says "I hate you because you're gay and I like you and you're pretty..."...
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The true story on the Niger Yellow Cake uranium

A letter implicating President Bush has been discovered...

Dear Mister Gaorge Bush:

Please keep this in the strictest confidense. You do not know me, but my name is Umbuto Johnson, and I am the grandson of Ashtari P. Johnson, in charge of the nuclear programme of the African country of Niger.

For severale years, my grandfather had been secretly selling radoactiv materiels to the little known country of Iraqe. He was given the sum of twenty million dollars by Saddem Hussan, of Iraqe, for this materiels. When my grandfather was discovered, two years ago, he was shot by the government. The money from those sales however remained hidden to all.

Before he was caoght, my grandfather shared with me his secret, and gave me instructions on how to move the moneys out of the country. In order to do this, I need the help of a trustworthy American friend and this is why I am seeking to write to you today.

In order to recieve the moneys I must pay a fee bribe of twenty thousand American dollars. I do not have this moneys. If you can send to me these moneys, I will split my grandfathers moneys with you.

Please tell nobody of this message, for I fear I will be in grave danger if it is known. I am relying on you, George Bush, to keep my secret. Respond to me and I will tell you how to send the moneys to me.

Your frend,
Umbuto Johnson

Troop morale in Iraq hits 'rock bottom'

According to a Christian Science Monitor article, U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, in the heat and danger, are suffering from low morale that in some cases, has hit "rock bottom".

The open-ended deployments in Iraq are lowering morale among some ground troops, who say constantly shifting time tables are reducing confidence in their leadership. "The way we have been treated and the continuous lies told to our families back home has devastated us all," a soldier in Iraq wrote in a letter to Congress.

"Make no mistake, the level of morale for most soldiers that I've seen has hit rock bottom," said another soldier, an officer from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq.

Is this just whining or are these legitimate charges?

7 July 2003

You should only get AIDS and die, you pig

Well, that Michael Savage crack to a caller on MSNBC Savage Nation show cost him his gig. He's been canned.

I'm not surprised that he got the axe. I am astonished that he lasted nearly five months, given his penchant for bigotry and hate mongering. It shocks me that MSNBC ever awarded a show hosting spot to such a controversial figure who had a track record of issuing offensive slurs:

He has spoken of "the grand plan, to push homosexuality to cut down on the white race" (San Francisco Bay Guardian, 9/20/00). In his book Savage Nation, he complained that Sen. Hillary Clinton and Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor have "feminized and homosexualized much of America, to the point where the nation has become passive, receptive and masochistic."

Aside from being a homophobe, Savage has referred to women as "whores", Asians as "little soy-eaters", and immigrants or people of color as "natives of the Turd World". Here's what Mr. Savage thinks of those helping the homeless:

Discussing student volunteers distributing food to the homeless in San Francisco, Savage declared that "the girls from Branson [school] can go in and maybe get raped... because they seem to like the excitement of it. There's always the thrill and possibility they'll be raped in a dumpster while giving out a turkey sandwich" (San Francisco Bay Guardian, 9/20/00).

Not that I was a fan of the MSNBC Phil Donahue show - but Heavens Gate, how could the network execs dump their highest rated program and replace it with hate filled jabbering of a racist?

Liberal media bias my arse...

Rush, Newspeak and Fascism

An 87 page, 40,000+ word essay on Rush Limbaugh, newspeak, and fascism. A scholarly study on the word fascism and whether or not it's an obsolete term or a significant political threat facing America. David Neiwert, author of In God's Country: The Patriot Movement, argues that the term has been abused, but that the political right now has morphed the word into meaningless newspeak. Neiwert discusses Limbaugh and his successful role as a propagandist serving as newspeak transmitter for the extreme right.

The closest historical parallel to Rush would be the radio reign of Father Coughlin in the 1920s and 1930s. While Clinton was in office, Limbaugh offered up a steady palette of anti-government rhetoric to "drive a wedge between middle and lower class workers and the one entity that has the capability to protect them from the ravages of wealthy class warriors and swarms of corporate wolves". Now, with Bush in power, anti-government is out and the only "evil" people in government are liberals.

It's not just Limbaugh, but the tone of many right wing media pundits has started to become dangerous - by associating anybody that disagrees to President's Bush's policies as "anti-American" and equating liberals with Nazis and other fascist regimes.
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6 July 2003

Beyond Bush

An article by Michael Ruppert presents an argument that a decision has already been made by corporate and financial powers to remove George W. Bush.

And check out the 9-11 timeline posted there...

The New KUKQ

KUKQ is back.
The NEW KUKQ - Arizona's only real alternative Rock Station is now online!- Welcome to Listen to music from: Front 242, Love and Rockets, Morrissey, OMD, U2, REM, The PIXIES, PIL, The Rembrandts, The Replacements, The Smithereens, Social Distortion, Sonic Youth, Tones on Tail, Violent Femmes, PWEI, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, DramaRama and everything alse circa 1990-Present.

Like Before, is also dedicated to bringing you the latest in local music, like The Fuck You Ups, TheForm, Pistoleros, Blossoms and more.

Cost of the War in Iraq

Check out the running counter displaying a total of the money spent by the U.S. government to finance the war in Iraq.

Pat Robertson Engages in Illegal Mining Operation in Liberia

Pat Robertson, despite chiding Americans for hedonistic pursuits, has been a business partner of Liberia's President Taylor, the infamous West African warlord/president now being asked by President Bush to step down in wake of a recent UN indictment.
We now know that in April 1999, Charles Taylor and Pat Robertson signed a document labeled "Mineral Development Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and Freedom Gold Limited". By signing his agreement, Taylor was, in fact, assigning gold mining concession rights to Pat Robertson from an established businessman, Ken Ross II, whose Bocon Jideh gold-mining operation dates back to the Tolbert administration.

According to the GQ article, Pat Robertson has committed at least US$15 million of investment to Freedom Gold. The terms of contract call for Freedom Gold to spend about US$500,000 annually in investment and rental fees in Liberia. "The agreement gives Freedom Gold the right to mine, sell, export and explore minerals, with an additional 3 percent royalty rate to be paid to the government of Liberia."

5 July 2003

Changes I'd Implement If I was Major League Baseball Commissioner

And if I actually had supreme power to institute these items even in the face of potential owner revolt.
  1. Expand the field of playoff qualifiers to 16, 8 in each league. Deep down inside, I'm a baseball purist and would actually prefer the old setup where teams played in an 8 team league (or division) and only the league winner advanced on to post-season play. But I'm a pragmatist too, and accept that Americans love playoff elimination contests and that regular season games grow increasingly ho-hum with the sporting audience. Too many teams exit out playoff contention way too early, transforming Indian summer and fall game nights into meaningless slumberfests. The recent wildcard setup has been ridiculously ballyhooed, considering that one spot is fought over by just a few contenders. Additional playoff teams would grant smaller market teams a greater chance of making it to the big dance along side the financially brobdingnagian squads like the Yankees. To answer criticism that I'd be killing the playoff exclusiveness that is emblematic of baseball over sports like hockey and basketball, see next proposal.

  2. All playoff series should be best of nine instead of best of seven. There is historical precedence for this - the first world series between the Americans and the Pirates in 1903 was a best of nine series. Baseball would be still enjoy a special hallmark, a distinction for having the most grinding playoff slate. How on earth are all these games going to fit into a summer's schedule? Read on.

  3. Begin the post-season playoffs in September. Complete the regular season at the end of August. With the other game enhancement items (best of nine, increased playoff field), it will be necessary to slide the regular season back a few weeks. Still, with a maximum of 36 post-season games, in the rare case that a world series entrant will have endured a game #9 throughout, a champion could will be crowned by mid October, in stark contrast to the current playoff structure where world series games are dragging into November.

  4. Eliminate the designated hitter rule. It's just not baseball. Fans can debate whether or not it adds to managerial strategy, but I don't care either way. If you don't field a position, you shouldn't occupy a batting lineup slot. Let pitchers bat and face off against the opposing hurler and permit the possibility of payback for any brushback pitches he's thrown while on the mound. Also, I don't believe it's required anymore as a tool to boost offense, as it was originally intended. Newer ballparks with shorter fences and less foulground area have more than offset the additional runs the designated hitter presently provides.

  5. Schedule more doubleheaders. Nothing beats summertime enterainment than a twi-night doubleheader or a weekend day doubleheader. Two games for the price of one and the net addition of more baseball played in a shorter duration. Get those bench players some more playing time!

  6. Shorten the season to 154 games. With the other proposed recommendations (i.e., doubleheaders, expanded playoffs), sacrificing a few games off the schedule may be needed. But it would have the added benefit of adding to the luster of new season records.

  7. Enforce a consistent strike zone, from the knees to the arm pit. No special privileges for established veteran pitchers or preference for low strikes or high strikes. Evaluate the umpires on their compliance and dismiss those that won't call the game as the rulebook states.

  8. Dump the superstation "grandfather" clause for national broadcasts. Or compel those channels (WOR, WTBS) to carry broadcasts from the other 28 MLB teams. It's absurd that a Cubs fan or Braves fan can tune in to their team's games for the price of basic cable whilst all other fans must pay for a satellite subscription. It's wrong and further strengthens a feudalistic system of haves and have-nots.

  9. Permit an intentional walk to be auto-intentional. That is, don't force the pitcher to toss 4 pitches - if the defensive team wishes to intentionally walk a batter, then give him first base without going through the rigaramole of 4 pitches.

  10. Ban game play domed stadiums and forbid the use of artifical surfaces. Baseball is meant to be played outdoors on grass. Anything else is an abomination. Yes, it gets sickeningly hot in southern cities and rain is a big factor in others, but there's doubleheaders, sprinkler mist systems and night games to address those issues.

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4 July 2003

Bring Them On

George W. Bush is taking some heat for his recent braggadocio contained in his verbal challenge to Iraqi militants.
"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House. "My answer is 'bring them on'. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."

Though some have suggested that this was a bad idea and others decry the inherent "lack of dignity" in such remarks, I don't think the words are off base. It really should be the mindset of every American to support the elimination of sworn enemies and support our forces to the fullest degree. But coming from George W. Bush, it smacks of hypocrisy, like just about everything else that is emblematic with his character. He can sit at his cozy desk, thousands of miles away from the battlefields, and engage in world wide wrestling speak, while he himself ducked out of hostilities, courtesy of a cushy National Guard slot that Poppy Bush and friends procured for young George back in 1973. Dubya couldn't even meet his committments then, going AWOL and never showing up for over a year.
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3 July 2003

'Bracero' — Another Word for Corporate Welfare

A Ruben Navarrette Jr. column exposes the flaws in the proposed resurrection of the old Bracero program that imported temporary workers from Mexico. Navarrette notes that we've not learned the lessons history taught - that the Bracero program was curtailed when Americans realized the degree which guest workers were exploited. The great journalist Edward R. Murrow revealed the dirty secrets of this "guest worker" program to mainstream America with his video documentary in 1960. Navarrette correctly tags it "an affordable dose of corporate welfare intended to free businesses of the obligation to pay decent wages".
Guest-worker programs should offend our national sensibilities. They designate a class of people and say that they're good enough to pick our crops but not good enough to stick around, buy a home and join the PTA. Besides, the programs never work. You just can't make employers pay the wages and provide the benefits and build the housing necessary to keep workers from being exploited, because doing all that would negate the value of the subsidy.

Well stated.

Jobless rate up to 6.4%

The U.S. unemployment rate rises to its highest mark in 9 years. Also, the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims rose 430,000.

Bush-o-nomics has a tragic financial trifecta going on now, with home loan foreclosures at a record high and personal bankruptcies at record marks, up 25% since 2000. A soaring level of consumer debt threatens to make it a superfecta...

Feeling Lucky for WMD

Go to Google. Type in weapons of mass destruction. Click the "I'm feeling lucky" button. Or view the search results here ...

2 July 2003

Re-redistricting is an ugly power grab

An insightful article on undemocratic nature of recent redistricting that augments and confirms my thinking on the matter. I'll have more to write, but thought I'd share the link for now...
Does redistricting make a difference? You bet it does. Virginia Democrats in 2001 won their first gubernatorial race since 1989. But Republicans went from barely controlling the statehouse to a two-thirds majority. How? That's right -- Republicans drew the district lines before the election.

In many states, one party stuck it to the other in redistricting. Take Florida, where Democrats are strong enough to hold both U.S. Senate seats and gain a virtual tie in the presidential race. But with full control of drawing the district lines, Republicans hold an overwhelming 18 of 25 U.S. House seats. In 2002 Maryland Democrats picked up two of the state's Republicans' four U.S. House seats as a direct result of redistricting.

However dangerous to democracy such partisan power grabs are, however, the problem is more fundamental and sweeping. The real story of the last redistricting cycle was that both parties generally colluded in a crass way to take on their real enemy: the voters. "Incumbent protection" was raised to a whole new level.

The result was that in 2002, just four incumbents -- the fewest in history -- lost to non-incumbent challengers. In California, every single incumbent won by landslide margins. It was no coincidence that Democratic incumbents forked over $20,000 apiece to the redistricting consultant to draw them a safe seat, and that the consultant was the brother of one of the incumbents. To buy their cooperation, Republican incumbents were given safe seats too. California voters were the real losers.

Lessons From Japan About War's Aftermath

My desk sits next to the coffee machine and water cooler. It is a window seat though, so I'm not going to complain. Try as I might to block out the chatter from gathering co-workers, their conversations still seep into my small cube. Yesterday, two chaps were puzzling over why the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is not proceeding like the post WWII history in Germany and Japan, and is deteriorating into a quagmire. As they speculated in jest, I wanted to blurt out some answers, but I didn't, and instead, returned attention to my work load.

Just about everything about our presence in present day Iraq differs from post WWII Japan:
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1 July 2003

Republicans Betray Public Trust

A genuine spy who is also a major Republican fundraiser but no hearings, no investigation, no outrage whatsoever. Where is the so called "liberal media"?
In March, 2003, the FBI arrested a Chinese-American businesswoman and Republican fundraiser, alleging that she had passed a frighteningly broad range of American intelligence secrets to the People's Republic of China (PRC). For two decades, Katrina Leung had been a paid bureau informant, supplying information on Chinese intelligence operations in America. She'd also been sleeping with two senior FBI agents--one of whom was her so-called "handler"--for the better part of those two decades. It was alleged that she had transmitted what she learned about American counterintelligence from her lovers to Beijing and sent Beijing's disinformation back through the FBI. The story was sordid, embarrassing, and, worse than that, quite grave: Intelligence sources told The Washington Post that Leung had single-handedly compromised 20 years of American counter-intelligence work against the PRC.

Democrats, who in 1997 weathered endless--and ultimately unproven--accusations of selling political favors or national security secrets for PRC money, can take a measure of satisfaction from this unlikely coda: The only bonafide Chinese spy so far turns out to have been not only a Republican, but a well-connected GOP fundraiser. And not just any Republican fundraiser, but one who happened to be sleeping with one of the lead FBI agents investigating Democratic fundraising.

Ellman To Soak Scottsdale for Millions

What a shrewd financial operator Steve Ellman is. While cities across Arizona, including Phoenix, Glendale and Peoria, beat back plans for new Wal-Mart stores, Scottsdale wants to toss a subsidy worth $150 million or maybe more to Mr. Ellman so that a Wal-Mart can be built on the old Los Arcos Mall site. The Scottsdale City Council will cast votes Wednesday on the proposal.

Ellman has held the site hostage in retaliation for the Phoenix Coyote arena fiasco and has threatened to leave it a bare eyesore or worst, giving the land to Sheriff Arpaio to turn into an alternate "tent city" jail facility. Nearby residents are understandably miffed at the whole ordeal.

Ellman's position is further strengthened by recent changes in state law that make it more difficult for the city to condemn and acquire the property via eminent domain laws.
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