22 November 2006

Sport Shooting Iraqis

Two PMC workers are shocked after they witness their boss murdering Iraqis for fun. While their employer doesn't deny the charges, they are summarily fired for following their conscience. Their boss returned to the U.S. at the end of his contract, unpunished.
On July 8, according to their lawsuit, Schmidt and Sheppard were riding with their shift leader in a convoy to pick up a KBR employee at the Baghdad airport.

As their vehicle approached the airport, their shift leader declared that he was "going to kill someone today," the lawsuit states. The man then stepped out of the vehicle and fired several shots from his M4 rifle into the windshield of a stopped truck.

Schmidt and Sheppard were horrified, Smith said. According to the lawsuit, the shift leader told them, "That didn't happen, understand?"

After their convoy picked up the KBR employee, the crew headed to its next destination.

At this point, Schmidt and Sheppard allege, their shift leader declared, "I've never shot anyone with my pistol before." The man then opened his door and fired seven or eight rounds into the windshield of a nearby taxi. Schmidt and Sheppard later heard that a cabdriver was found shot to death in the area, according to the suit.

Winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis…

12 November 2006

The Republican Party has no respect for democracy or the rights of those who disagree with them

Republicans made dishonest, even threatening phone calls to intimidate and confuse likely Democratic voters.
Within hours of the polls opening in Virginia - battleground of one of the tightest Senate races in the mid-term elections - both the state attorney's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had opened inquiries. But reports of dirty campaigning, most if not quite all of it carried out on behalf of the Republican Party, cascaded across the country so fast that it was almost impossible for law enforcement, or anyone else, to keep up.

In several states, Democrats - especially African Americans - complained that they had been called and told the location of their precinct had changed, when it hadn't. In 20 of the closest House districts around the country, registered Democrats and independents found themselves bombarded with so-called "robo-calls" - computer-generated messages that sound at first like get-out-the-vote initiatives on behalf of Democratic candidates but grow ever more negative as they go on until it finally becomes clear they are endorsed by the Republican Party.

Voters complained not only that the messages were deceptive, but that they arrived with deadening regularity, sometimes very late at night, in what appeared to be a concerted effort by Republicans to anger their recipients and turn them off the idea of voting at all. Some of the underhand tactics were even perpetuated by the media. The conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham spent some of her morning show openly mocking a voter protection hotline set up the Democrats and repeatedly aired the phone number - leading to a spike in crank calls that slowed down voters with bona fide complaints to air.

10 November 2006

248 ways to annoy people

Floating around on the internets, reproduced here for your laugh pleasure...

1. Specify that your drive-thru order is "to go."

2. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.

3. Start each meal by conspicuously licking all your food, and announce that this is so no one will "swipe your grub."

4. Name your dog "Dog."

5. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions "to keep them tuned up."

6. Reply to everything someone says with "that's what you think."

7. Claim that you must always wear a bicycle helmet as part of your "astronaut training."

8. Follow a few paces behind someone, spraying everything they touch with a can of Lysol.

9. Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.

10. Do not add any inflection to the end of your sentences, producing awkward silences with the impression that you'll be saying more any moment.

11. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist to others that you "like it that way."

12. Tell 1-800 operators they sound gay and ask for a date.

13. Sew anti-theft detector strips into people's backpacks.

14. Hide dairy products in inaccessible places.

15. Order a side of pork rinds with your fillet mignon.

16. Change channels five minutes before the end of every show.

17. Tape pieces of "Sweating to the Oldies" over climatic parts of rental movies.

18. Decline to be seated at a restaurant, and simply eat their complimentary mints by the cash register.

19. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.

20. Repeat everything someone says as a question.

21. Write "X - BURIED TREASURE" in random spots on all of someone's road maps.

22. Inform everyone you meet of your personal Kennedy assassination, UFO, and OJ Simpson conspiracy theories.

23. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times: "Do you hear that?", "What?", "Never mind, it's gone now."

24. Light road flares on a birthday cake.

25. Wander around a restaurant, asking other diners for their parsley.

26. At the Laundromat, use one dryer for each of your socks.

27. Stand over someone's shoulder, mumbling as they read.

28. Ask people what gender they are.

29. Lick the filling out of all the Oreos, and place the cookie parts back in the tray.

30. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.

31. Lie obviously about trivial things such as the time of day.

32. Leave your Christmas lights up and lit until September.

33. Change your name to "John Aaaaasmith" for the great glory of being first in the phone book. Claim it's a Hawaiian name, and demand that people pronounce each "a."

34. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.

35. Chew on pens that you've borrowed.

36. Wear a lot of cologne.

37. Listen to 33RPM records at 45RPM speed, and claim the faster speed is necessary because of your "superior mental processing."

38. Sing along at the opera.

39. Mow your lawn with scissors.

40. At a golf tournament, chant "swing-batabatabata-suhwing-batter!"

» read more

The trade-off in redistricting is between safety and maximizing the numbers

You can't do both.
Gerrymandering was supposed to cement Republican control of the House of Representatives, offering incumbents a wall of re-election protection even as public opinion turned sharply against them. Instead, the party's strategy of recrafting district boundaries may have backfired, contributing to the defeats of several lawmakers and the party's fall from power.

The reason: Republican leaders may have overreached and created so many Republican-leaning districts that they spread their core supporters too thinly. That left their incumbents vulnerable to the type of backlash from traditionally Republican-leaning independent voters that unfolded this week.

Redistricting, the traditionally once-a-decade process of redrawing of House districts to adjust to population trends, has always been a contentious procedure. But Republicans, under the leadership of Mr. DeLay, took the opportunity to use it as a reward or punishment to new heights in 2002.

In so doing, Republicans created two new vulnerabilities: the dangerous dilution of core voters and the nurturing of a sense of invulnerability that contributes to corruption and scandal.

The drive to maximize seats was seen by Republicans as a matter of survival. Democrats regained ground every cycle after the 1994 Republican takeover. By 2000, the Republican majority had shrunk to 221 seats from 231 in 1994. Democrats, aligned with the chamber's one independent, needed just six seats to retake control in 2002.

So Mr. DeLay and House Speaker Dennis Hastert turned to their allies in the statehouses to redraw congressional district boundaries to erase Democratic seats and give Republicans new ones. "We wish to encourage you in these efforts, as they play a crucial role in maintaining a Republican majority," the two leaders wrote in a letter to Pennsylvania lawmakers.

There are three weapons to employ in redistricting. "Packing" involves concentrating a group of voters, such as African-Americans, in one district. "Cracking" means splitting up a group of voters to diminish their influence. "Pairing" forces two incumbents into the same district. Pennsylvania lawmakers used them all.

7 November 2006

Here are the final polls

Election Day 2006

The scorecard shows 239 Democrats 195 Republicans and 1 Tie for House races, 51 Democrats 49 Republicans for the Senate race tally.

6 November 2006

When All Else Fails… …Execute the dictator

Some perspective on the Saddam Hussien verdict from Iraqi blogger Riverbend.
Iraq has not been this bad in decades. The occupation is a failure. The various pro-American, pro-Iranian Iraqi governments are failures. The new Iraqi army is a deadly joke. Is it really time to turn Saddam into a martyr? Things are so bad that even pro-occupation Iraqis are going back on their initial "WE LOVE AMERICA" frenzy. Laith Kubba (a.k.a. Mr. Catfish for his big mouth and constant look of stupidity) was recently on the BBC saying that this was just the beginning of justice, that people responsible for the taking of lives today should also be brought to justice. He seems to have forgotten he was one of the supporters of the war and occupation, and an important member of one of the murderous pro-American governments. But history shall not forget Mr. Kubba.

Iraq saw demonstrations against and for the verdict. The pro-Saddam demonstrators were attacked by the Iraqi army. This is how free our media is today: the channels that were showing the pro-Saddam demonstrations have been shut down. Iraqi security forces promptly raided them.Welcome to the new Iraq. Here are some images from the Salahiddin and Zawra channels.

Once again… The timing of all of this is impeccable- two days before congressional elections. And if you don’t see it, then I’m sorry, you’re stupid. Let’s see how many times Bush milks this as a ‘success’ in his coming speeches.

A final note. I just read somewhere that some of the families of dead American soldiers are visiting the Iraqi north to see ‘what their sons and daughters died for’. If that’s the goal of the visit, then, “Ladies and gentlemen- to your right is the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, to your left is the Dawry refinery… Each of you get this, a gift bag containing a 3 by 3 color poster of Al Sayid Muqtada Al Sadr (Long May He Live And Prosper), an Ayatollah Sistani t-shirt and a map of Iran, to scale, redrawn with the Islamic Republic of South Iraq. Also… Hey you! You- the female in the back- is that a lock of hair I see? Cover it up or stay home.”

And that is what they died for.

Arizona Election 2006 (Part 3)

Prop 100: Illegal Immigrant Criminal Bail

Prohibiting of bail for any illegal alien immigrant charged with a felony offense (scope defined by the Legislature). Seems like immigrant bashing to me, and I am voting against, as it doesn't change the laws already on the book.

Prop 101: Local Property Tax Levies

Michael at Blog for Arizona says: An illegitimate legislative grab for power over local taxing authorities. Punishes localities which have not used the full extent of their taxing authority and could unduly limit the taxing authority of fast growing regions. Substitutes mindless flat formulas for the judgment of our local elected officials. Bad policy, bad politics, bad for Arizona. Anything that transfers such control up the ladder is not good IMV, thus, I am voting NO.

Prop 102: Illegal Immigrant Civil Lawsuits

A terrible measure, as it parlays anti-immigration sentiment into a free pass for corporate interests to abuse and exploit, and gives no recourse for the application of injustice. Vote NO.

Prop 103: English as Official Language

Not the way a free state should handle these sorts of questions. Instead of following xenophobic and ethnocentric examples of French Canada, let the free market sift the language question out. Another knee jerk anti-immigration appeal that seeps into another agenda. Vote NO.

Prop 104: Municipal Debt

Sounds like a good idea to give local governments more flexibility in financing projects other than parks and playgrounds.

Prop 105: State Trust Land

Like the smoking initiatives, this one seems a counterattack to Prop 106, which is the better of the two.

Prop 106: Conserving Arizona's Future

Backed by an assortment of organizations, from all slants of political persuasion. Vote YES.

Prop 107: Protect Marriage Amendment

Backed by militant right wing conservatives and radical fundamentalist Christian extremists, this is the anti-gay-marriage amendment. Whilst I am no supporter of gay marriage, this is nothing but hate mongering in action, will have negative repercussions for folks who are not gay, and in no way really addresses the ills that plague marriage. A strong NO.

Prop 200: AZ Voter Reward

I've written of this proposition already — at first, I was opposed, but the more I think of it, I am inclined to vote for it. With all the vote supression going on, is a measure to encourage voting so bad? Yes, I understand the charge that it will bring more unknowledgeable folks to the polls, but it isn't like the people voting already have a good grasp of the issues. Vote YES.

Prop 201: Make Arizona Smoke Free

I think it's a worthy goal. Sorry, all my friends who continue to puff away. Maybe it will lengthen your life if you are prevented from lighting up, but more essentially, spare the innocent from the health ills of second hand smoke.

Prop 202: Raise Arizona Minimum Wage

Long overdue. If you agree that a minimum wage is a necessary thing (and I realize there are Libertarians that buy into the flawed notion that it isn't and would like to return our nation back to the times of the Gilded Age), then you must wisely assess that the mark needs to be raised, and that it is about showing dignity and respect for workers at the bottom of the economic chain. This, IMV, is the real family values issue. And recent studies have illustrated that other states that have raised their minimum wage have not seen spates of job loss as opponents have charged. Vote YES.

Prop 203: Early Childhood Development and Health Fund

Prop 204: Human Farms

On this one, I agree with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and am voting YES.

Prop 205: Switch to Mail-in Ballots, Close Polling Places

An unnecessary proposition and a total diversion from rectifying real problems with transparency and accountability in the voting process.

Prop 206: Tobacco Company and Alcohol Company Anti-Smoking Plan

Same as Prop 201, except would except bars and restaurants, which is the same as what is today IMV.

Prop 207: Private Property Rights Protection Act

A reaction to the recent Kelo amendment, and I am inclined to say yay, but I understand it's a trojan horse, and supported only by out of state interests. Up in the air on this one still.

Prop 300: Illegal Alien Public Program Eligibility

Another part of the illegal alien backlash. Not really going to stem the flow of illegal immigration, just a feel good measure that's really hate filled. Vote NO.

Prop 301: No Probation for First Time Methamphetamine Offenses

NO, shuffling drug abusers into overcrowded prisons on first offense is not a restorative approach.

Prop 302: Raise State Legislator Salaries

Yes, though it's not a strong yes.

Some other scorecards you can review:

Blog For Arizona: Arizona Ballot Measure Guide 2006 for All Propositions
Andrew Tallman Views on the Ballot Propositions

4 November 2006

Arizona Election 2006 (Part 2)

Now I turn the light on the races for state offices.


An easy choice — incumbent governor Janet Napolitano (D). It is quite refreshing to have a governor for the first time in a over a generation that (a) has not been convicted of federal fraud and extortion, (b) impeached for grievous wrongdoing or (c) embroiled in financial scandal that ended up costing Arizona taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. On the contrary, Napolitano has served Arizona admirably, and shown true leadership. While I don't agree with her on a number of issues, she's been a role model for good governorship.

Secretary of State

Jan Brewer (R) has illustrated that she is a hardened foe of transparency and accountability in the elections process, instead, preferring to commit coverup in deferrence to the vote counting machine distributors. I'd like to cast my vote for Ernie Hancock (L), as opposed to throwing the vote to Israel Torres (D), who may not have a any real chance to win either, given the public indifference to serious security problems with voting machines. Torres has been invisible, seemingly drawing less attention than the Libertarian Hancock, who is a familiar voice to Valley AM radio listeners.

Attorney General

Terry Goddard (D) has proven to be a capable office holder, exercising his position in non-partisan fashion. He deserves another term.

State Treasurer

Dean Martin (R) might be the only Republican next to a checkmark (well, actually here, it's a completed bar…) on my ballot this year. Martin sounds earnest in his desire to clean up the mess left by disgraced former state treasurer David Peterson. Questions of ethics may dog Martin too.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Elect Jason Williams (D) over the ethically challenged incumbent Tom Horne (R).

2 November 2006

Arizona Election 2006 (Part 1)

Here is the full candidate slate but I am breaking this down into three separate pieces — federal office, state office, and the numerous ballot propositions, which make the Arizona ballot the weightiest in the nation, at least for the 2006 election campaign.

For the first installment, focus is on the federal offices in play.

U.S. Senator

A total no-brainer. Let's see, we can opt for the slick talking lawyer man who has served as the ultimate rubber stamp for a neoconservative administration embroiled in a culture of corruption and state of denial, but most notably, engaged in an illegal, immoral, unconstitutional invasion of a country that posed no threat to the United States. Jon Kyl (R) may not fit the standard profile of the predatory attorney type, but favorable illusion aside, fact is, he has served the role perfectly. Time after time, siding with corporate interests over the health of the working Arizonan — whether it be allying with insurance giants or throwing weight behind Wall Street predators seeking to siphon retiree money into their own coffers.

Jim Pederson (D) is the answer and will serve Arizona in admirable fashion. But in all honesty, even if Pederson was not the solid candidate he is, he'd have to be seducing underage Congressional pages for me not to vote for him over the vile Kyl.

U.S. Representative District No. 1

It's time to oust one of the most corrupt members of Congress, a carpetbagger who should be sent back to his Virginia home. Let's put in the honorable Ellen Simon (D) to restore dignity and respect to this Arizona congressional district.

U.S. Representative District No. 2

While Trent Franks (R) may waltz to victory, given the Democrats indifference to this race, it won't be counting a vote from yours truly. Franks represents the worse in contemporary Republican politics, with his vile hate mongering and extremist stances. John Thrasher (D) gets my vote.

U.S. Representative District No. 3

John Shadegg (R), just like John Kyl, has been one of President Bush's biggest rubber stamps. Time to alleviate him of his sycophantic duties. Herb Paine (D) will do the office justice, and if you don't like Paine, cast a vote for Libertarian Mark Yannone. Additonally, Shadegg swore to abide to a 6 year term limit when initially voted into office in 1994, but then broke that pledge.

U.S. Representative District No. 4

Ed Pastor (D) wins this gerrymandered district handily.

U.S. Representative District No. 5

Give 'em hell Harry. Hopefully incumbent J.D. Hayworth's (R) district will express their desire for honest government and dump J.D. and his infantile antics. Even the Arizona Republic, despite its endorsement of Bush lackeys Shadegg and Franks, calls out Hayworth and terms him "the Bully" and recommends voters cast their ballots for former Tempe mayor Harry Mitchell (D).

U.S. Representative District No. 6

Jeff Flake prevails here, and while I don't see eye to eye with Flake on his positions, it must be acknowledged that he represents his district ably, and I admire his steadfastness to his principles, even when they bump up against the neoconservative agenda.

U.S. Representative District No. 7

Raul Grijalva will continue to serve his constituency well.

U.S. Representative District No. 8

Hopefully, if polling bears true, Gabrielle Giffords (D) will emerge victorious over the hate monger Randy Graf (R), as Graf has hitched his chariot to a one issue, anti-immigration crusade. While many Arizonans are concerned over the rampant illegal immigration crisis, they in good conscience should not succumb to the eliminationist rhetoric forwarded by Graf and the white supremacist militia groups.

Is Kerry's statement true?

John Kerry is taking a lot of heat for this statement^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H, er "botched joke":
You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

First Kerry went on the offensive in response to wide scale backlash. Since then, he's made a formal apology.

As unpleasant and unsavory as it is, is the pronouncement true?

I bet it is. I am sure (without data; I see this feelingly) that the kids who are serving in Iraq are not nearly as well educated as, say, the kids who are getting internships at media companies that served the Koolaid on WMD, or serving as pages to closeted gay Republican congressmen.

It's an economic draft, stupid.

In days of past, I would eagerly scour the net for information and statistics to prove or disprove such assertions, but today I find myself burdened with tasks galore, and an even a "to post" list here that I need to get to ASAP, and thus I am unable to devote any attention to proper study. But I would wager that the statement is indeed true — that while there are many who eagerly volunteer to serve despite their individual economic circumstances, an equally greater lot exercise an option motivated in large part by the matter of economic livelihood.

One thing I am certain of is that Kerry's "foot in mouth" faux pas isn't anywhere near as offensive as this famous presidential indiscretion that made light of the deliberate misrepresentations fostered by the Bush administration for its illegal, immoral and unconstitutional invasion of a country that posed no threat to the United States.

And I stand by the statement that anyone who tars Kerry for this latest gaffe, yet is unwavering in loyalty to a chickenhawk president who during an age where he could have served in a war he supported, instead opted to skip out via pulling influential family strings, is a blinded partisan, impervious to reason.