28 September 2004

A Day in the Life of Joe Republican

Floating around the internet, reproduced for your edification here...

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.
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26 September 2004

Discrimination based on caste

Indian American professor at University of Michigan files suit over discrimination based on caste.
The Hindu caste system is a hierarchy of social classes established centuries ago. Discrimination based on caste has long been banned in India, yet many say it's still practised there and subtly, even in distant America.

Mazumder said he is a Kayastha, a semi-farming, lower caste, while Promod Khargonekar, the former chairman of the department of electrical engineering and computer science, is a Brahmin, the highest in the caste hierarchy.

According to friends and colleagues who are from India, the caste system is still in effect, official proclaimations to the contrary.

Annual unemployment insurance exhaustion rate at highest level in 60 years

Lack of job creation still evident in this "economic recovery"
Last year, 43.4% of people who began receiving state unemployment benefits ended up exhausting all the benefits to which they were entitled without finding a job.   This exhaustion rate is the highest rate since 1941, and it exceeds the 38.5% rate for 1982 when the unemployment rate was over 10%.

25 September 2004

Those who attack lawyers and demand radical changes to the legal system are blaming the messengers and trying to punish the victims

Neurosurgeon Harvey Wachsman pens an insightful USA Today column regarding medical malpractice lawsuits. Basically, lawsuits are the only protection the public has against negligent physicians.
The malpractice crisis is not about lawyers and lawsuits. It is about the tremendous amount of malpractice being committed. And it is about the conspiracy of silence that keeps the public in the dark. Lawsuits are the only protection the public has.

And a recent Public Citizen analysis refutes a link between medical malpractice lawsuits and insurance premiums. Thirty states already have instituted caps on jury awards, but the caps haven't resulted in lower insurance rates.

On average, only 3% of physician revenue is spent on malpractice insurance. How much of your monthly budget is earmarked for health insurance? It's probably closer to 10% or even higher if you're not endowed with a discounted employer group plan.

Considering that 5% of doctors are responsible for the majority of all medical malpractice claims, wouldn't a more prudent strategy in combating medical errors involve weeding out bad doctors?

24 September 2004

Vanishing Middle Class

Washington Post begins a series of articles on the middle class squeeze in America.
This transformation is no longer just about factory workers, whose ranks have declined by 5 million in the past 25 years as manufacturing moved to countries with cheaper labor. All kinds of jobs that pay in the middle range -- Clark's $17 an hour, or about $35,000 a year, was smack in the center -- are vanishing, including computer-code crunchers, produce managers, call-center operators, travel agents and office clerks.

The jobs have had one thing in common: For people with a high school diploma and perhaps a bit of college, they can be a ticket to a modest home, health insurance, decent retirement and maybe some savings for the kids' tuition. Such jobs were a big reason America's middle class flourished in the second half of the 20th century.

Now what those jobs share is vulnerability. The people who fill them have become replaceable by machines, workers overseas or temporary employees at home who lack benefits. And when they are replaced, many don't know where to turn.

17 September 2004

A method that is old and wrong

How much creedence can be given to polls that rely on landline telephones only, and completely ignore cell phones?
The telephone polls do not include cellular phones. There are almost 169 million cell phones being used in America today - 168,900,019 as of Sept. 15, according to the cell phone institute in Washington.

There is no way to poll cell phone users, so it isn't done.

It does indeed taint any polling numbers that still rely upon landline telephones solely.

16 September 2004

First time the state has revealed the tribes' total take

Indian casinos rake in over $1.3 billion.
Arizona's 22 Indian casinos recorded more than $1.3 billion in total gambling revenues in the fiscal year ended June 30, the state Department of Gaming reported Wednesday.

For 3.5 million Arizonans over the age of 21, that comes out to nearly $300 a head.

12 September 2004

Across a whole range of objectives, al-Qaeda has accomplished more of its goals than the US has of its

A different perspective on the post 9/11 world, one that is at odds with what the Bush administration is touting.
Al-Qaeda has succeeded in several of its main goals. It had been trying to convince Muslims that the United States wanted to invade Muslim lands, humiliate Muslim men, and rape Muslim women. Most Muslims found this charge hard to accept. The Bush administration's Iraq invasion, along with the Abu Ghuraib prison torture scandal, was perceived by many Muslims to validate Bin Laden's wisdom and foresightedness.

After the Iraq War, Bin Laden is more popular than George W. Bush even in a significantly secular Muslim country such as Turkey. This is a bizarre finding, a weird turn of events. Turks didn't start out with such an attitude. It grew up in reaction against US policies.

It remains to be seen whether the US will be forced out of Iraq the way it was forced out of Iran in 1979. If so, as al-Zawahiri says, that will be a huge victory. A recent opinion poll did find that over 80 percent of Iraqis want an Islamic state. If Iraq goes Islamist, that will be the biggest victory the movement has had since the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. An Islamist Iraq might well be able ultimately to form a joint state with Syria, starting the process of the formation of the Islamic superstate of which Bin Laden dreams.

So what is going to happen in Iraq?

  1. Freedom and democray reign in a new democratic republic of Iraq?
  2. Former CIA asset Allawi (or new puppet) becomes Saddam2, or at least serves up hefty dose of oppression to Iraqi people?
  3. Islamic fundamentalists wrestle control of government, and begin a New Taliban regime?
  4. Continuation of the status quo, death statistics of US soldiers, insurgents, and Iraqi citizens accumulate more.

11 September 2004

I don't know what he's talking about

The words of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, in response to Phoenix New Times reporter John Dougherty's questions about his public records requests. The Arizona Republic article only briefly mentioned what Dougherty's reporting has uncovered on questionable doings at the Maricopa County Sheriff Office. I don't believe the Arizona Republic (or even the city's flagship AM news station) have even given a peep to the substantive charges brought forth by that alternative weekly periodical. The article in the Arizona Republic even put the onus of a disturbance on the reporter asking questions, and not the heavy handed treatment dealt out to inquiries made on behalf of the public.
Dougherty was quickly headed off by a contingent of sheriff's deputies, who blocked his path and jostled him into onlookers, including Andrew Thomas, the newly nominated Republican candidate for Maricopa County attorney.

Arpaio kept mum as Dougherty repeated his question, and the security scrum grew as the room quieted.

Yeah, such a security risk, asking all those questions…

One of the Arizona Republic "official" bloggers even trumpeted Joe's victory, celebrating "egg on their face", directed at what Mr. Genrich termed Phoenix New Times "hit pieces".

The New Times recently published a hit piece about Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio handily won his primary race.

Which leads me to ask why is the Arizona Republic such a chickenshit publication that's serving as nothing more than a shill for the corporate and governmental local power base? Again, the investigative reporting by Dougherty has revealed some serious issues on how MCSO is being managed:

  • Gestapo type tactics in harassing political opponents.
  • Refusal to release public records.
  • Preferential treatment to celebrities and sons and daughters of the privileged, in return for campaign coffer contributions. This, to me, is a serious charge, and I cannot believe that the state's "paper of record" would ignore this scandalous discovery.
  • Arpaio's concealed commercial real estate transactions and any possible impropriety from such dealings.

The lack of attention to these reports by both Arizona Republic and KTAR is an affront to responsible journalism. It's become nothing more than a glorified PR organ. Minus the AP news releases reprinted, I can't see much else of substance there…

9 September 2004

I'll vote for Kerry

Well written blast that accurately frames my disenthrallment with the contemporary state of Republican politics.

Nary a word about Iraq in the eight reasons listed, but I had to clip this text out, these facts that are somehow obscured in the media circus that surrounds the political debates in these times.

With the exception of Webster Hubbell, who was convicted for an embezzlement he'd committed before coming to Washington, no Clinton official was ever convicted of anything. Why not? Because they didn't commit any crimes. Whitewater was just a land deal. Travelgate was a clumsy but not illegal personnel move. Vincent Foster was clinically depressed. Bill Clinton was horny.

Just for fun, let's compare Clinton's administration to Reagan's. In eight years of Reagan rule, 32 officials were convicted of felonies. Three of these were overturned on appeal, but over 30 more Reagan officials resigned or were fired following charges of legal or ethical misconduct. And Caspar Weinberger, Reagan's defense secretary, was indicted on five counts but pardoned by George H.W. Bush before he could face trial. Bush also pardoned Elliot Abrams, Reagan's assistant Secretary of State, and Robert MacFarlane, his National Security Advisor, before they could face charges. In all, over 130 Reagan officials were indicted, convicted or investigated. Strange that we never hear about that on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

The information in here was correct, but it was picked up from the real ones

The conservative echo chamber is reverberating with charges today that documents CBS produced regarding President Bush's National Guard service were forgeries.
As is standard practice at CBS News, each of the documents broadcast on '60 Minutes' was thoroughly investigated by independent experts, and we are convinced of their authenticity," she said.

The White House distributed copies of the memos, apparently dampening speculation they are fraudulent. But the copies are from faxes sent by CBS News yesterday.

Um, contrary to the freeper sentiment that proportional fonts did not exist until Microsoft Word, typewriters capable of generating proportional fonts existed way back in the 50s. And, I may be dating myself here, but doing superscript and subscript with a typewriter was indeed possible with such an archaic tool.

04-09-15 18:00 Update: The former secretary to the Texas Air National Guard who reportedly wrote memos critical of George W Bush says the memos are fakes, but the information contained in them was accurate.

6 September 2004

The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003-2004

From Project Censored
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This Labor Day, most U.S. workers are worse off than they were at this time last year

Productivity is rising, economy is growing, yet American workers continue to lose ground.
The average real wage – that is, adjusted for inflation – has actually fallen over the past year. This is in spite of the fact that the economy has grown by 4.7 percent. In other words, even when the economy is growing, most of the people who make it grow aren't getting anything out of it.

This continues a long-term trend – briefly interrupted in the late 1990s – that has dominated the last 30 years. Over the last three decades the median real wage has grown by only about 8 percent. In other words, the majority of the American labor force has failed to share in the gains from economic growth.

But CEO pay is rising at a record pace.

Another piece of evidence that shows that the current regime is anything but a good steward when it comes to the economic matters.

A nice perspective regarding the 120,000 jobs added in August.

5 September 2004

Primary is THE election

In Arizona, the primary elections may hold more importance than the general election.
Turnout is not expected to top 20 percent, showing that most voters either don't know or don't care that this primary will determine whether centrist Republicans still hold sway at the Capitol, or if the Legislature takes a hard ideological right turn.

"The rule in Arizona is now that the primary is the general," said former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano, a Republican who has taught political science and is organizing the upcoming presidential debate at Arizona State University.

Giuliano said that it's not necessarily a party issue but a numbers issue: "Why would Democrats spend any money in districts tilted so much the other way?"

Tuesday, September 7. Get out to vote!

Nothing Funny About a Deceitful War

Florida Senator Bob Graham says Bush administration blocked an investigation into Saudi government financial involvement with the 9-11 hijackers.
Two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers had a support network in the United States that included agents of the Saudi government, and the Bush administration and FBI blocked a congressional investigation into that relationship, Sen. Bob Graham wrote in a book to be released Tuesday.

The discovery of the financial backing of the two hijackers ''would draw a direct line between the terrorists and the government of Saudi Arabia, and trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration,'' the Florida Democrat wrote.

I find it offensive also, and not humorous whatsoever, the deceitful justification for war and coverup of this information.

3 September 2004

Audience boos as Bush offers best wishes for Clinton recovery

Former President Clinton checks in to the hospital, Bush offers best wishes and the crowd boos.
President Bush on Friday wished Bill Clinton "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."

"He's is in our thoughts and prayers," Bush said at a campaign rally.

Bush's audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them.

Or did they?. Many of the Bush faithful are up in arms, and letting loose a barrage of negative feedback against the AP news organization that apparently was the source of the story.

One individual has posted an audio clip.

Sounds like there were a chorus of boos amidst the cheering. At any rate, an audio recording isn't going to be gospel, as the audio could conceivably be totally different (or inaudible) at different microphone spots.

But I'm curious if the avalanche of bias cries is going to dictate AP retractions and/or apologies. It would surely show the power of this internet deal, even if it was an unjustified pullback. That is, supporters of the president, don't wish to be seen in a negative light, even if it's the truth. Again, it sounded like there was a smattering of boos – I can't fathom folks crying "oooh" that loudly in response to such a statement. And it's hard to believe an AP reporter made the whole story up, in front of an entire audience. YMMV.
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1 September 2004

Leave No CEO Behind

Lynne Cheney introduced her husband Dick at the GOP convention with a little anecdote.
One of our granddaughters asked him a few months ago if he knew anyone famous, and I treasure the fact that she didn't know he was.

At some future point she'll discover he's the country's vice president and former CEO of Halliburton, a company that coincidentally has profited immensely from geopolitical decisions heavily influenced by Mr. Cheney. In fact, he's still receiving compensation from them. Are Halliburton's best interests always in the country's best interests? From looking at the records, it appears that's how the VP thinks.

Even without the Cheney conflicts of interest, serious doubts remain about whether a company with a record like Halliburton's should even be eligible to receive government contracts in the first place. This, after all, is a company that has been accused of cost overruns, tax avoidance, and cooking the books and has a history of doing business in countries like Iraq, Iran and Libya.

Confidential U.N. documents show that Halliburton's affiliates have had broad, and sometimes controversial, dealings with the Iraqi regime. The firms traded with Baghdad for more than a year under Cheney, signing nearly $30 million in contracts before he sold Halliburton's 49 percent stake in Ingersoll Dresser Pump Co. in December 1999 and its 51 percent interest in Dresser Rand to Ingersoll-Rand in February 2000, according to U.N. records.

He's made money off of both building and destroying Iraq, and his companies have dealt with nations that were illegal for U.S. companies to have business relations with.

And they don't need any permission from you to start a war.

George W. Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the American people.