22 November 2005

State of Talk Radio in the Valley 2005

Time again for my annual descent into the dark underbelly of AM radio, into the seedy realm of talk radio. Another examination, on a local scale, of a genre of radio that could serve so wonderfully as an open forum for erudite discussions on the issues of our time, but alas, it's more often the case that it caters to mob like thinking and and pumps fuel to simplistic "blame {target}" bromides.

Again, as with every annual roundup, a bevy of disruptions to the local talk radio scene, this year, even greater the drop into destitute tidings for the Phoenix listener. Air America burst upon the scene, but most if its programming is devoted to syndicated Democratic shill-dom, though they do offer up two of the better hosts, and a nice sampling of local voices on the weekend. The one time radio giant, KTAR 620 AM, dumped popular morning host David Leibowitz, and decided to substitute in a surrogate Limbaugh wannabee for morning drive time, much to the chagrin of the Valley listenership. KFNX 1100 AM retreated back into infomercial hell, after a promising 2004 program schedule full of local hosts, two of which migrated over to the Air America affiliate, KXXT 1010 AM. But one must wonder, given new ownership, how long KXXT will continue with the progressive talk format. Finally, ratings leader and neoconservative beacon, KFYI 550 AM, plods along, plugging in sweet sounding radio voices to prattle on a generic, homogenized, cookie-cutter setup, that is indistinguishable from the horde of syndicated talkers that occupy the radio dial, across the nation.

Now, onto the roundup…
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15 November 2005

20 Amazing Facts about Voting in the USA

Blazing its way over the internets, reproduced for your perusal here…

Did you know…

  1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.

  2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.

  3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.

  4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

  5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.

  6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.

  7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.

  8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes

  9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.

  10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.

  11. Diebold is based in Ohio.

  12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as consultants and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.,2645,61640,00.html

  13. Jeff Dean was Senior Vice-President of Global Election Systems when it was bought by Diebold. Even though he had been convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree, Jeff Dean was retained as a consultant by Diebold and was largely responsible for programming the optical scanning software now used in most of the United States.

  14. Diebold consultant Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.

  15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.

  16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it! (See the movie here),2645,63298,00.html

  17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.

  18. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.,2645,65757,00.html

  19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President's brother.

  20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.,10801,97614,00.html

Rampant proliferation of voting machines without any accountability is an invitation for fraud. In the recent initiative elections in Ohio earlier this month, newspaper polls of registered voters varied from the actual Tuesday vote in a statistically inconceivable margin.

Concerned citizens have been sounding an alarm for rectifying this lack of checks and oversight, but to date, nothing of significance has been done by lawmakers to ensure that vote counts are accurate and free from any monkey business. Paper ballots can be recounted; proprietary machine algorithms with dubious security provisions overseen by rabid partisans cast a fog of suspicion and a ring of total uncertainty about the the voting process. While 100% proof of no impropriety may be a utopian goal for any system, action must be taken to position the engine of democracy above reproach. It is beyond belief and an outrage that this is not being remedied ASAP.

14 November 2005

Patriotic Americans can no longer afford the hollow comforts of blind self-deception, nor the transient respite of continued silence

Confessions of a Repentant War Supporter

Reestablishing an American consensus for an honest, reality-based policy of national defense and domestic liberty requires the integrity to refrain from exploiting the twin passions of fear and hope.

But this is the challenge we must overcome if we are to avoid endless war and preserve for our children a free and open society.

This will be difficult. The cult of empire is propped up by a ubiquitous and effective spin machine. Megastar media surrogates saturate the airways with their 24/7 presence. They advance a creed of conquest that confuses the strength to defend the nation with the pursuit of world domination. Their message thrives on the demonization of both foreign power and domestic dissent. While they peddle a creed that holds in contempt both the actual exercise of liberty and the practice of authentic faith, these false prophets cloak their message with a veneer of moral and patriotic values. And they have infected our culture with their audacious claim that their values reflect the values of America. The challenge of properly reframing these issues is amply demonstrated by the 22 percent of Americans who say they rely on talk radio as their primary source of news.

12 November 2005

And, whenever they can, they vote for it

The apocalypse, that is, for the legions of Left Behind fans.

Fred Clark is performing an excellent job of critiquing the blockbuster LaHaye & Jenkins series of dispensationalist novels. His recent Friday read along review details how the authors and their devotees gleefully anticipate their prophesized end times, celebrating the torment "unbelievers" are destined to face.

L&J believe that the rain has already started, and they genuinely desire to persuade as many others as they can to join them on the ark. (There's plenty of room, since this time they won't have to give a damn about the animals.) But they're also excited about the flood they believe is coming. They're quivering with anticipation, watching the headlines for confirmation that things are getting worse just as Noah watched the skies for the gathering clouds.

This eagerness, this enthusiasm for apocalypse, is theologically malodorous, but it is also politically dangerous. Here again are L&J and their 50 million readers cheering for entropy, celebrating calamity, wars and rumors of war as the confirmation of their desires, and railing against peace and progress as setbacks to this consumation for which they devoutly wish. They believe that things must fall apart and the center must not hold, because even now the beast is slouching toward Jerusalem.

They want this to happen. And, whenever they can, they vote for it.

Personally, I never made it through the first volume of the Left Behind series. The writing, to my taste, was dreadful and in lesser form than even a juinor high school creative writing exercise. And the whole dispensationalism deal is pure spiritual pornography, devoid of any scriptural merit. Even other dispensationalism advocates take umbrage at LaHaye & Jenkins.

7 November 2005

The Hooverization of George W. Bush will resume and accelerate

According to Jim Kunstler, the euphoria over recent gas price dips will be short lived.
What they failed to notice is this: since the hurricanes shredded our Gulf of Mexico oil and gas capacity, Europe has been sending us 2 million barrels of crude oil and "refined product" a day from its collective strategic petroleum reserve. The "refined product" includes 800,000 barrels of gasoline, plus diesel, aviation, and heating fuel. Meanwhile, US domestic production has fallen to around 4 million barrels of conventional crude a day. America uses close to 22 million barrels of oil a day. Bottom line: post-hurricane, total imports have accounted for 80 percent of America's oil consumption.    

Now, the important part of all this is that last week the International Energy Agency (IEA), Europe's energy security watchdog, declared that it would now end the 2 million barrel a day shipments to the US. Not because they are hateful meanies, but because, after all, it is Europe's strategic reserve and they can't sell it all to us because, well, some strategic emergency might come up for them, too.       

It will take a few weeks for the last of Europe's tankers to offload supplies and for the various fuels to work their way through the US fuels retail system. With US production and refining still crippled, we can look forward to watching the price of gasoline, heating oil, diesel and aviation fuel kick back up through Thanksgiving and on into the heart of the Christmas shopping season. At the same time, homeowners will be getting their first substantial heating bills of the season.

3 November 2005

The toilet seat separated from his skin, leaving abrasions

Glued to toilet, man sues Home Depot
Home Depot was sued by a shopper from a Colorado store who claims he got stuck to a restroom toilet seat because a prankster had smeared it with glue.

Bob Dougherty, 57, accused employees of ignoring his cries for help for about 15 minutes because they thought he was kidding."They left me there, going through all that stress," Dougherty told The Daily Camera, of Boulder.

"They just let me rot."

Dude, I feel for you and all, but next time, you might want to perform a cursory examination of a public toilet seat before you just plop down on it. Better yet, you might want to slip on one of those sanitary covers over top of the bowl, or use it wipe the seat off before you attach your tush to it.