Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Election Review

I feel that the Republicans are in a little trouble this election, but I wouldn't hold my breath. The fact that the Foley scandal has hit the Evangelical base of the Republicans, should be looked at. Jack Abramoff and other scandals are more than a month ago, so they don’t really matter to the public anymore.

Congressional candidates, recently have concentrated on the fictional writings of candidates, and with such ridiculous arguments and other incidents such as Sen. Allen’s Racial Slur to Kerry’s bad joke and the bad reactions to it (Remember, Bush has made his own jokes about the war and no one got in a huff about that, don’t believe me? There is footage of it on YouTube, on Comedy Central and on TV. ) just makes one want to never be involved in the mess ever again. It seems ridiculous that people are so hypocritical on every side and that the news has become what the movie “Network” worried that it would become someday, so, you know what? I AM mad as hell, and I am NOT going to take it anymore. I am going to yell at the top of my lungs at any idiocy I see on any network and any news source by any individual.

The fact that these things have sent the Foley scandal to the back burner a bit. To paraphrase the Republican outcry of the Foley scandal, “Don’t you think it’s a little strange that this comes out NOW? RIGHT before an election?”

Dick Mountjoy, who, in fact is a dick. On the assembly floor he is known for his sense of humor and his rotund jokes. However, he is also known as a bigot, as a flinger of insults and just a callus man even to the extent of sexually harassing comments to female members of the Assembly. When I first heard he was running against Feinstein, I laughed. I thought, “oh man, he doesn’t have a chance” and today, even with a (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) attack from the LA Times, she is ahead in the polls by a staggering amount.

Unfortunately, Angelides doesn’t really seem to have a chance; he is floundering, and he is definitively not a character that California Democrats want to stand behind. As a friend of mine said; “I was around for eight years of Reagan in California and eight years of him in DC, sometimes sh*t happens.”

That is all the energy I have to talk about right now. Maybe more tomorrow about the election results.

My irrational fears

I am very worried, on the whole, about the next world war, it is inevitable. Along those lines, I love the fact that no one is really talking about Russia anymore; the fact that Russia seems to be turning into a Fascist state, with persecutions of Georgians and detentions of ethnic minorities, and what seems to be a political motivated murder which has still not been solved. It seems that another “internal” conflict is on the horizon, not to mention the oppression of Muslims in the area, which could lead to the European Nations getting involved and not admitting Russia into the EU (which I have been told will never happen anyway since it is not even a candidate country).

The upcoming Asian War that seems destined to happen between Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea (and therefore the United States). Even though North Korea seems to have backed down a little.

Then there is the Middle East; the perpetual powder-keg of discord and strife. I don’t even really need to mention that there seems to be no real movement in the war in Iraq, that the Afghani government is incompetent and creating a power vacuum to suck Al Qaeda right back into powerful roles, or that Iran is freeking nuts and wants to Blow up Israel who is still constantly fighting with Palestine and Lebanon who is being controlled by Iran and Syria, or the fact that the major donator of funds and ammo to terrorist organizations continues to be Iran and the country with the major training facilities and cells remains Syria, so I wont even mention it.

Basically, I am just confused as to why all these things aren’t worrying the public enough to distract them from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Part of me feels that Angelides doesn't have a chance. I have three things to base this on.

1. The fact that there are many signs that his campaign is already faltering.
2. The fact that Angelides is going against someone with amazing Star Power, Name Recognition and free airtime (and THAT situation isn't being handled well at all).
3. He looks like a mouse.

One person has stage presence and the image of actually being animate. Angelides is rather reserved when it comes to expression and it is sad that image and presence means everything but it really does. The majority of the electorate does not care about the issues, most vote by their gut.

Angelides really needs to prove himself on this field.

Thursday, April 6, 2006


can we impeach him now?
In Court Filings, Cheney Aide Says Bush Approved Leak

Immigration Policy

I want to quickly talk about immigration and American culture. People recently have been taking to the streets because of these bills passing through our government increasing the penalties for illegal immigrants. Claims of creating a second class citizenry based culture have come up and there have been compromises made. In the NY TIMES they said;

”Those who have lived in the country at least five years would be put on a path toward guaranteed citizenship, provided that they remained employed, paid fines and back taxes, and learned English. Mr. Frist said this group accounted for about 60 percent of the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants believed to be living here.”

Now, to begin with, my main problem with this provision is that it requires that they learned English. Some say that this provision is reasonable and necessary because it is the language of the land. Not true. In most state constitutions, such as California, there is an official language listed; English, however, there is no official federal language. So, for a federal bill to mandate learning such a language would be about as justifiable as having immigrants necessitate learning Esperanto.

It is an attempt at curtailing an invading culture. If you have ever played Civilization 3 you would know how important culture is in winning as a society.


NPR reporting on proposed solutions for illegal immigrant problem. Laws being “willfully ignored” allowing illegal workers to work for less and ends up using more government services than they pay for. Arguments claiming both that these illegal immigrants are hurting the economy and that the economy cannot exist without them. The fact of the mater is that the American workforce has changed, that there are more Americans who are better qualified for better jobs than these illegal immigrants end up taking. It has also been argued that more open borders would be an answer to curd the illegal immigrant problem. Opening the border with Mexico would help allow temporary workers to actually be temporary workers and returning to Mexio, instead of being trapped in America and setting up roots here.


According to the NPR review of American culture and attitudes towards immigration, there is an actual American culture. They polled a sample of the citizenry and 2:1 found that America is more of a dynamic changing culture, and not a specific culture. Personally, besides consumerism, baseball and a couple of songs and holidays the American experiment is rather pale in comparison when it comes to “culture.” Most of the concepts that are drummed up are from the 1950’s bomb-shelter era of beatniks and conformity. So these 2:1 that found America to be ever changing, were also reported as claiming that immigrants should assimilate to American culture. This is a double standard; we are a diverse and ever changing culture, but we are unified and “American.”

Americans could be an immigrant country (as Roosevelt said) or as one Harvard professor seems to believe; a settler country of a core value system of anglo-individuality which is under attack from all these “Hispanics” coming in (as said on the NPR sound file). This is ludicrous. These original settlers were leaving Brittan because they refused to assimilate with the British beliefs, so why should anyone coming here do the same with American beliefs and culture? Isn’t that a double standard? We are a nation of subcultures and counter cultures that shift back and forth with the norm but never really meld. America is NOT a melting pot, it is a honey comb of boroughs and subsets and neighborhoods.

So why should we curb immigration? Some say security, but who from Mexico wants to blow up a government building?

There is still this zenophobia that chokes us and it is not just the white people, it is everyone and it is so well grained in our genes and our minds that different is scary that I am not sure what to do.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Election Review

"The biggest litmus test in the Democratic Party seems to be not how much you hate Arnold but how long you have hated him," said Dan Schnur, a Republican political analyst. (from Sacramento Bee).

Though the article that this quote comes from is referring to the upcoming California Gubernatorial race between Arnold and whomever the Calfornia Dems choose (either the moderate Westly or the more liberal Angelides) it brings up an interesting point. Mr. Schnur has not only pointed out how this race is being accessed, he has also stumbled upon the entire democratic platform; not "what do we stand for" but "who do we hate." When looking for a presidential candidate, the Democrats seem to only be interested in who hates Bush the most. According to various polls (that as I have said before I never trust), Hilary seems to be the front runner everywhere. But look at the names that they used to test her against; John Kerry, John Edwards, Al Gore, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, Barack Obama, these are all recycled names, save Obama, every single one of these men has thrown thier hats in the ring. What the Democrats need is a unifying figure that they can all rally behind. Someone new and impressive who can inspire all the Democrats to forget their difference and fight for a cause.

According to USA Today;
Other Democratic possibilities include Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.

Let us look at these possibilities, first, Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Now, while he has been doing well with Health, Women's and Education issues, he has been apparently dissapointing the Democratic Party in Ill to the extent that his name has been left off the Get Out the Vote (GOtV) mailer. And let us not forget the Daily Show deboggle.

Gov. Janet Napolitano has done well with budget cuts that are not sweeping, and seems to be tough on immigration but has been a little confusing on both. She has stayed fairly under the radar but seems to have enough spitfire to impress some of the more crotchity members of the party.

(This was taken from Wikkipedia)
William Blaine "Bill" Richardson (born November 15, 1947) is an American politician and a member of the Democratic Party. He has served as a Congressman, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and U.S. Secretary of Energy; he is presently the Governor of New Mexico. He was also chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention that nominated John Kerry for the presidency.

His being a Congressman and a Governor, he has experience both in the legislative and executive branch. This means that he is not really an insider or an outsider but is still impressive. Mixed with this is the fact that he ought be very knowledgable on foreign issue (UN Ambassador). One thing that he has done that I am concerned with with is that he is the first governor to veto eminent domain reform legislation. Which is legislation surrounding the ability for the government to sieze people lands. An article is here.

Gov. Tom Vilsack was the founder of Heartland PAC which is a PAC trying to elect Dem. Governors and was named chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council in 2005. This possition was also held by Bill Clinton just prior to his election, but this seems more like insider rung climbing to me; nothing to really rally behind.

Sen. Evan Bayh is very impressive based solely on the fact that in a Red state, he recieved more votes than Bush, as in, more people voted for him than for the President, something almost unheard of esp. in a Red state. He was considered a running mate for Gore in 2000 and has been a big oppose of Bush and his appointments for a while. But, he is a Senator, and rarely have Senators become President.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Levies and races oh my

In my last entry I noted that the race between Juan Vargas and Bob Filner was the only one in California that had a viable Democrat trying to unseat annother Democrat, this was wrong. Lynn Woolsey, the representative of the 6th District of California, is being given a run by Joe Nation, the State Assemblyman, you may remember Representative Woolsey from Sheehan being let into the State of the Union with the controversial shirt.

Anyway, to day is going to be a short rant. I don't know if anyone else has noticed the recent news about Bush being warned August 28th, 2005, it is not only on the main news but also discussed on the Daily Show, about how Bush knew that the levies were going to be a problem, promised to aid in every way possible (including praying) and then, denied the fact that this problem was addressed, but it seems to me that maybe we are being too hard on Bush. He may have lied, gone against the US interestes with the port interests and attempted to use that and other economic insentives to "bribe" foriegn countries to help us out on our "war on terror", may be a bit incompetent, may have sent many of our soldiers to die for a cause no one is truelly sure of, but at least he didn't have an affair. That could get him impeached.

Why was Clinton impeached again?

According to the brilliant people over at Wikipedia (as in anyone who cares to edit it)

President Bill Clinton was impeached on December 19, 1998 by the House of Representatives on grounds of perjury to a grand jury (by a 228-206 vote) and obstruction of justice (by a 221-212 vote). Two other articles of impeachment failed — a second count of perjury in the Jones case (by a 205-229 vote), and one accusing Clinton of abuse of power (by a 148-285 vote) was acquitted by the Senate.

This brings up the question of why a president can be impeached.

(Also From Wikipedia)
For the executive branch, only those who have allegedly committed "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" may be impeached. Although treason and bribery are obvious, the Constitution is silent on what constitutes a "high crime." Several commentators have suggested that Congress alone may decide for itself what constitutes an impeachable offense.

It is my personal belief that the current President has commited gross violations that could be considered high crimes against our civil liberties and the liberties of others, including their very lives. While lieing to the press is hardly perjury, it is my belief that the American people ought put together a grand jury, and have the President subpoenaed and testify so that any more lies that are thrown out there he will be accountable for.

There are others out there who already have put together articles of impeachment, but I doubt they will get very far.

-Antisthenes out

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Blogs and Races

First of all, before I get started I would like to tip my hat to Glenn Reynolds, for those of you who don't know who that is, there is a link to his site on the right here. He is the creator of Instapundit and recently, it has been decided, been awarded the status of "expert" in his field by the New York Times. And I would like to say SHAME to Walmart, not because they have strange dealings with China for cheap goods or even that they do not provide healthcare for their workers. The reason I am upset with Walmart is because they actually trust bloggers and have started what could turn into a horrible trend of "sponsored" bloggs where the freedom that this internet dealy gave individuals, like myself, to freely express what they feel will be hindered by where the money is coming from. When individuals start getting paid to mouth off their minds here from specific companies, that destroys the blogg's and the blogger's impartiality. Can you imagine a world where the net is filled with sponsored bloggers? Just cramming the information superhighway with Starbucks bloggs or McDonalds bloggs?

Anyway, I need to point out how disappointed I am with one of our California Congressmen. To begin, there have been a lot of interesting facts coming out about him already in this campaign in the 51st district. Mr. Filner has given over half a million dollars to his wife as a "campaign strategist, though it isn't a registered business and apparently a lot of this was when he was running unopposed. As part of California's community property law, half of what Filner's wife makes will technically also be his, so in a way he is paying himself $250,000. Some of Congressman Filner's responses as to why this is "totally ok" make some sense but others, like she "only has to answer to the candidate" are preposterous.

There have also been an article or two talking about his opponent for the congressional seat, California Assemblyman Juan Vargas, and his paying of a family member and keeping him at his house. But Vargas only paid his brother-in-law 1k a month. If he worked, let's say 8 hours, 5 days a week (which anyone who has ever worked on a campaign is a ridiculously low amount of time) that would be 1k dollars for 160 hours, equaling $6.25 an hour, and this is not taking into account the fact that he probably worked weekends and nights as well as any full time staffer on a political campaign can tell you. So it is not just a monetary difference, it is common practice to have campaign workers stay at the house of the candidate to save money on expenses and to get the most out of the work day because the candidates' house is sometimes the campaign center as well. Some of the campaigns I have seen have had upwards around 10-15 people living in one house as an almost campaign factory.

What is really interesting is the fact that negative adds have already come out. In most statewide and local campaigns, negative adds come out about 10-15 days before the election based on the fact that there is little money to keep up that type of campaign for too long. Presidential Campaigns traditionally start about 20 days before the primary and 40 days before the election for partially similar reasons, but also because they do not want the candidate to look like too much of a bully too early. Filner ran a TV add against Vargas about 100 days before the election. This is unheard of. The short segment was listing off three reasons why not to vote for vargas and had a decent picture of him scrolling across the screen. It was a sucky negative add; completely uneffective. But it is still amazing that Filner started this early. Even if you take into account that for the last election, 2004, Filner was able to raise $812,402 unapposed (besides a libertarian candidate, but they don't really count yet) and Vargas was only able to raise $90,202.12 for his Assembly race while being apposed (this information can be found on the CalAccess site) which is about 9% of Filner's total, it is still rediculious to start with this type of campaign this early just based on how the public could react to it.

Even the race between State Sen. Richard Mountjoy, who was previously retired, and Dianne Feinstein, who is California's most popular elected official according to most polls, hasn't started too much mudslinging, but then again, the primary hasn't even ended yet. What makes the Filner-Vargas campaign so interesting is that, so far as I have seen, it is the only campaign where a legitimate democratic candidate is looking to unseat annother democrat.

Vargas has made two previous attempts at this seat, once as a "wet behind the ears" lawyer who, after losing to Filner the first time won a city council seat and then, then next voting cycle, Vargas again made a vie for it, and, once losing again, gained a State Assembly seat. This is the third time Vargas is going for it and the timing of it centers arround California State Assembly term limits.

Both times that he went against Filner, Filner went dirty and quick, but not this quick. There has been a long standing rivalry between them because of the politics. This race is one to keep your eye on because it will definately get interesting.

Other issues to keep in mind with this race; the word "bajagua" will be coming up a lot; it is regarding a sewage project in Tijuana, Mexico where many shady practices have been noticed involving many public officials including Filner.

If Assemblyman Vargas won he would be the first Latino and the first man who was born in the district to represent it in the 100 years that it has been in existance. Just, FYI.

(ok, so you know, when I wrote this I was working on Juan Vargas' campaign.)

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Honduras - Negroponte - Iraq

It seems silly, I know, to point at the current administration and try and point out the similarities to the past and the ways that they have failed, continuously, to learn from the mistakes of the past. In this situation I point to the decision to appoint Mr. John Negroponte the head of all of our intelligence organizations as the Director of National Intelligence. To begin, such an organization in itself rings a little to close to any centralized intelligence agency that handles all foreign and domestic issues on terror, counter-terror and espionage seen in totalitarian states, but I (as usual) am going to skim over that issue and move onto my points about the man.

Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador to Honduras during the Regan administration. The previous Ambassador, Jack Binns, was appointed by Jimmy Carter and had made innumerable complaints regarding the Human Rights violations that occurred in that nation perpetrated by the Honduran military. Not only did Negroponte deny being told of such violations, or observing them, he was accused by the Honduras Commission on Human Right of human right violations and he oversaw the growth of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a year. An article published in 1995, went over the various accusations that were thrown towards Negroponte. It states that Mr. Negroponte was informed that; "GOH [Government of Honduras] security forces have begun to resort to extralegal tactics -- disappearances and, apparently, physical eliminations ` to control a perceived subversive threat," and that “a Honduran army intelligence unit, trained by the CIA, was stalking, kidnapping, torturing and killing suspected subversives.” A long list of abuses was apparently shown to Mr. Negroponte, and he apparently ignored by the ambassador and to order a cover up; ”Rick Chidester, then a junior political officer in the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, told The Sun that he compiled substantial evidence of abuses by the Honduran military in 1982, but was ordered to delete most of it from the annual human rights report prepared for the State Department to deliver to Congress.” Why was this happening? Well, had Congress known of the actual occurrences in Honduras, they would have stopped payment of the aide to Honduras under the Foreign Assistance Act which prohibits military aid to a government engaging, “in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights."

Why would Mr. Negroponte not want funding to stop to Honduras? Because of Nicaragua. During the Reagan administration, Negroponte was a U.S. ambassador involved in helping rebels in Nicaragua; the words “Iran-Contra Scandal” come to mind. Honduras was the staging ground and base camp for Regan’s attempt to battle south and central American Communism. The problem with Nicaragua, was similar to many countries in the area. They were communist. So the Regan administration decided to start a “war” against them by funding rebels. This was against the Leftist Marxist political group known as the Sandinistas, the rebels were from the remaining from the Somoza family government known as the Contras (meaning against in Spanish). The Sandinista movement was the main opposition group against the dictatorship of the Somoza government that won power in a civil war in 1979. Somoza, popularly known as "Tacho," amended the Constitution to centralize all power in his hands. Was the country communist? Not really. They created a “Junta” (Council) of National Reconstruction, to begin the task of establishing a new government, which was made up of five members and while the majority were Marxist, there were different ideologies represented; no one wanted annother dictatorship like the Somoza family had instituted. Also, in contrast to the Cuban revolution, the Sandinista government practised political pluralism throughout its time in power. A broad range of new political parties emerged that had not been allowed under Somoza. According to someone at wikipedia;

“One of the most notable successes of the revolution was the literacy campaign, which saw teachers flood the countryside. Within six months, half a million people had been taught to read, bringing the national illiteracy rate down from over 50 per cent to just under 13 per cent.”

They also held free and open, national elections where the FSLN won 61 out of 90 seats not including president and vice president.

So why did Regan hate Nicaragua? In 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan condemned the FSLN for joining with Cuba in supporting Marxist revolutionary movements in other Latin American countries. I am not going to say that it was Regan who authorised the CIA to begin financing, arming and traing the Contra’s, but somehow it happened and there are ties to America, and to the military of Honduras while Mr. Negroponte was the Ambassador there.
This was brought up at the hearing for his appointment to the position of Ambassador to the UN in 2001, in fact some of the comments are rather hilarious such as the following from Senator Christopher Dodd ;

“I know there will be those who say, that it isn't terribly important that the Honduran military committed human rights abuses more than fifteen years ago in some cases. Moreover, in relative terms those abuses in Honduras paled in comparison to what to else where in Central America. My response to that is that the Senate has a duty and responsibility to be a partner in the fashioning of U.S. foreign policy, and the only way it can be a full partner is if we in this body are kept fully informed. When it came to our ability to be full partners with respect to U.S. toward Honduras or elsewhere in Central America, I would tell you that we were unable to do that because we were flying blind. It gives me great pause as I ponder how to vote on this nomination to think that someone as intelligent and capable as Ambassador Negroponte would treat this committee and this body so cavalierly in his responses to my questions. I wonder who he thinks he works for?”

And if you want to know more, there are various news articles that talk about his involvement (alledged) in the Nicaraguan revolts.




What happened to Nicaragua? The US backed Contras and the Sandinistas both are accused of atrocities through the struggle from 1981 to 1990 but I have no right to claim which is valid and which not. The full on war was so bad towards the later years that the only option was a cease fire. There were new elections and the Sandinistas peacefully stepped down. The results of this election have always been suspect but the nation seems peaceful enough now.

From Honduras, Mr. Negroponte moved to being the Ambassador for the UN in 2001 which met with a little controversy and then to Iraq for one year in 2004. Currently he is head of all intelligence agencies and now he claims that the port deal has low threat potential.

I am usually for forgiveness and forgetting, but something about his past makes me question his honesty or his intelligence. If he was “unaware” of what was going on in Honduras and Nicaragua while he was there then he is a moron, and should not be given this power. If he was aware and did nothing then he is a man without compassion and should not be in this position. If he not only knew of it but also participated in it, he should be tried for war crimes and breaking the law (giving/providing aide under the Foreign Assistance Act.).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Graven Images

In events that bear a striking resemblance to the aftermath of the release of the Satanic Verses in 1989 when Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini called on Muslims to kill British author Salman Rushdie and incited mass rioting in Pakistan and other areas it seems that the world is close to falling apart again. However it also seems that there are certain discrepancies that could make me bear the “Conspiracy Theorist” label.

The fact that certain Danish imams (religious leaders) would spread fake cartoons to inflame the situation is nothing compared to the selectivity of arrests in the area. 11 editors of newspapers in Yemen (perhaps other countries in the area as well, but the article did not specify) were arrested and await trial for printing either the entire images or partial images of the cartoons in their newspapers, this seems reasonable based on the fact that the area is ruled by Islamic law however, so is Egypt and they are apparently not applying the same stringency to the press there.“After all, Ahmed Abdel Maksoud and Youssra Zahran are free. They are journalists with the Egyptian weekly Al Fajr, one of the first Arab newspapers to publish the cartoons. They wrote a story about the caricatures and reprinted them in October — months before the conflict erupted — to condemn the drawings. “The fact that these cartoons were republished “months before the conflict erupted” is a very telling item. When news spreads, especially inflammatory news, it spreads like a grease fire – consuming everything; for example the riots in LA over Rodney King began the night the press got a hold of the tape. The main issue here is that the rioting started when someone actually lit the fuse and seems to want people to have mass chaos."The feelings of the Muslims are being exploited for some purpose," said Adel Hammoude, editor in chief of Al Fajr. "Religion is the easiest thing to use in provoking the people. Egyptians will never go out on the street in protest about what happened in the case of the sinking ferry or against corruption or this or that." (see link above)It also doesn’t help things that the same paper that published the cartoons had refused to publish other cartoons. The original reason that I heard was that the cartoons would be deemed offensive to Christians, however, this Story changed.

""My cartoon, which certainly did not offend any Christians I showed it to, was rejected because the editor felt it would be considered offensive to readers -- readers in general, not necessarily Christians," cartoonist Christoffer Zieler said in an email he sent to Reuters on Wednesday."""Having seen the cartoons, I found that they were not very good. I failed to see the purportedly provocative nature," he said in a statement. "My fault is that I didn't tell him what I really meant: The cartoons were bad." Kaiser said he told Zieler he had not used the cartoons because they were offensive to some readers."According to the editor, his reason for not publishing the Christian cartoons was because they were not funny or interesting. For anyone who has seen the actual published ones, hopefully you will agree with me. They are just not funny. One looks kinda cool, but they are just stupid. So either the Danish sense of humor is completely alien to mine or the editor had some ulterior motive in publishing it.
Most religious heads have been denouncing the cartoons but attempting to calm the rioting, but once that starts, tension just raises again from the inside.

From “Blast Destroys Shrine in Iraq, Setting Off Sectarian Fury”The New York Times By ROBERT F. WORTHPublished: February 22, 2006

The attack in Samarra began at 7 a.m., when a group of a dozen men dressed in paramilitary uniforms entered the shrine and handcuffed four guards who were sleeping in a back room, said a spokesman for the provincial governor's office. The attackers then placed a bomb in the dome and detonated it, collapsing most of the dome and heavily damaging an adjoining wall. "In the southern Shiite city of Basra, Shiite militia members destroyed at least two Sunni mosques, killing an imam, and launched an attack on the headquarters of Iraq's best-known Sunni Arab political party."

This was the version at 12:00 pm, however the version at 9:00 am the following morning said that a representative of the Sunni government said that several mosques were burned and the headquarters attacked "at the same time" but not in reaction to the explosion. Again, this is strange to me, but will cause internal anger. This mixed with the already growing hatred of the US from the Iraqi war and the hatred of the west over the cartoons, this could escalate into a world war. So what next? How can we secure ourselves against such an event?

“You don’t need to worry about security.” Bush tells America with his cute face and child-like reasoning.

According to Bush, the logic is that if Britain can manage ports on our soil, why shouldn’t another ally? Such as Saudi Arabia;

"I also want to remind folks that it's really important we not send mixed messages to friends and allies around the world as we combine, put together, a coalition to fight this War on Terror. So we'll continue to talk to people in Congress and explain clearly why the decision was made."
This reminder is a little funny for reasons to be discussed, however the main reason that we shouldn’t is because they are only a small cry better than Syria, who trains and funds terrorism and terrorist groups such as Hamas;

“The revelation that Hamas operates a command center in Saudi Arabia with close ties to Hamas militants executing attacks and the movement’s political and social-welfare (dawa) operations is remarkable. But neither the fact that individual Hamas operatives are active in Saudi Arabia nor the fact that Hamas receives significant funding from within the Kingdom is news.”

This quote is extracted from an article from September. So, though we have known of the connections between terrorist organizations and our ally for some months, we will apparently continue to give them free access to our eastern seaboard and control over our ports.

Another problem is the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Why is this a problem? Well, to play the card that the current administration loved to play for the past 5 years, 9/11. Two of the Hijackers were from UAE and many migrated here through their system, though they had know terrorist connections and were on a watch list. Marwan Al Shehhi, who piloted one of the hijacked planes into the towers was one of these individuals. AQ Khan, the Pakistani scientist with a name that sounds like he should be a Star Trek villain, smuggled nuclear materials, components and contraband to Iran, North Korea and Lybia through the UAE.

Why is this important? What does it have to do with Saudi Arabia? Location and status of boundary with Saudi Arabia is not final, de facto boundary reflects 1974. And while the UAE has a growing role as a heroin transshipment and money-laundering center, there is a death penalty for traffickers who are responsible for increasing consumption of heroin and cocaine in Saudi Arabia. The political structure of the UAE is an elected oligarcy sitting in a sort of Federal system of a “Supreme Council” who “elects” the President from the Al-Nahyan clan of Abu Dhabi and the Premier from the Al-Maktoom clan of Dubai and uses . Both of which are basically hereditary appointments from these clans. Where Saudi Arabia is a monarcy based on Islamic law. Both have serious human rights problems and corruption problems and have ties to international terrorist organizations, and yet they are both our allies in the “war on terror.” If Saudi Arabi takes over American Ports because it was ok for annother ally, as what seems the logic put forth by this administration so far, then why not UAE. Such an agreement will not strengthen the bonds of the region and could respark certain old problems there and send mixed messages to other allies.

Here is the point: Watch out world, we may all go caboom soon, so just keep an eye out for strangeness.

Here is the disclaimer: I recognize that the issue of images of Mohammed is sacrilegious but it is not you who is publishing them. If a non-Muslim draws, he is not breaking your laws because he is not bound by your laws. By the same respect, if you are going to publish something that you think to yourself, “hey, this might cause world wide riots because they are offensive” just think twice. We have to remember that there are angry and frustrated people out there and others, who seek power, that want to manipulate them. The last bit, be wary of who we call allies or who the yako in office has picked for his own purposes.

Here is a bit of confusion: If having images of people is a shunder in the Muslim religion then can someone please tell me how this is not a sin by the same rights?

"Holding pictures of the Iranian late spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini, left, and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Muslims chant slogans during a rally at the Saint Masoumeh shrine in the holy city of Qom, 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Thursday. (AP)"

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Good Luck Hilary

In a recent poll that has been splashing the newspapers yesterday and this morning, it was revealed that the United States is apparently ready for a Female President. According to these sources; the S.F. Chronicle amongst others, 79 percent of the participants in this survey were willing to vote for a Female candidate. What they so mention but fail to extrapolate upon is that the sample size (number of people who participated in this survey) is astronomically small. In most polls there are three things that are encouraged; randomness, wording and size.

The randomness issue is in reference to the sample; the participants are randomly selected from a larger group known as the population and the smaller selection is known as the sample. For example, the sample is meant to represent an entire state (the population) and the testers/pollsters select 100 people from one major city in that state (the sample). In this example, it is a very poor sample to represent the population the test is generated for, a random sample would have included other areas. You then come across terms like “blind” or double blind, normally this is generally referring to a study or poll where there is some sort of experiment. There are usually two groups, one where you apply the experiment to and one where you don't. (In medical drug trials it is usually something like Group A gets a drug and Group B gets a sugar pill) The unadulterated one is known as the control group and the other the test group. In a blind test the participant is unfamiliar which group he or she is in and in a double blind test neither do the testers. In polling this is hard; the only real “test” you are giving are the questions to see the reaction of the participants, however this leads us to the second issue - wording.

The wording of the questions are very important. Most pollsters and polling groups are paid by parties or candidates and the pollsters know what their varying bosses want to hear. So they will tweak the wording of the questions to generate the results that they want, either consciously or unconsciously. The general term for this is measurement error, where there is some error in the results as a result of something wrong in the test itself. For example, if I am a staunch conservative and want to prove that the U.S. Population is against abortion, my polling could have a question like; “Are you for or against the murder of unborn children?” where a question worded simply, “what is your opinion on abortion?” with a small list of possible responses could have been used. This is an extreme example but even in certain polls the decision to use one simple word or grammatical phrasing can alter results entirely. Other ridiculousness that comes about in the polling world surrounds the fact that you can change a poll any way you want to prove what you want. In certain polls those that examine the data will change the responses. Let us say that in a certain poll those being questioned were given the option to provide five responses; Strongly Favor, Favor, Undecided, Oppose, and Strongly Oppose. If the results are too similar or not providing the gravity that the pollsters want it to, they will simply group the Strongly Favors with the Favors, and the Opposes with the Strongly Opposes to only three possible responses. Not only does this alter the significance of the responses, it causes another error; those who responded to these questions could have answered differently had these been the original options. For example, an individual could have answered “Favor” to signify “Slightly Favor” but could have been so unsure that if the options were only three, he may have been geared more towards the middle ground since it now had more significance to the question – with five options there is more room with only three the answers mean more. It is a little hard to explain what I truly mean here, so I will try to put it another way; in a number response system as in 1 to 5, where one is Strongly Favor and five is Strongly Oppose, there is more of a gradient than for 1 to 3. In reference to size, it only makes sense that the larger the sample size of the population the better it represents that population.

If the population is say 295,734,134 and the sample size is 1,120, that is a rather small sample, that is approximately 0.0004%, not even a half of a percent. For those who wonder where I pulled those numbers, they are the totally population of the United States and the size of the sample used in the poll these papers are referring to. The sample was all from New York and grossly inadequate to make such claims as the Newspapers are attempting to. The wording I cannot comment on for I cannot find a copy of the poll, but, based on these other facts, it would seem that this poll does not show that America is ready for a female to run America, but that New York seems to be ready.

Here is the point; in the words of Public Enemy, don't believe the hype. If you see a poll or a survey out there remember to look at three things; randomness, wording and size. All those talking heads on Fox or MSNBC or other shows that have “call in polls,” the thing you should remember about those is that the population that they are sampling is not America, but the viewers of their programing, and the sample they get are those with enough time on their hands to call into the show and (in some cases) waste their money on the cost of the call.

Here is the disclaimer; I would love to see a female President, however, I would also love to have the media not treat us like idiotic children that will believe anything with the words “poll” in it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I thought Harvey Milk fixed this?

In this last year this country has held the issue of Homosexual marriage as a fore-front issue. The question of what is actually marriage and what it means for a couple to be in such a union is at the center of this issue. The paradox being that we are still denying that not allowing such an action to a specific demographic is treating a U.S. Population as second class citizens. The arguments have been wrung through the legal, political, and especially religious domains and here, I shall bring forth a few of these issues and address them in my own little manner.

It has been brought up that allowing Homosexuals to marry would change the definition of “marriage” or destroy the sanctity of marriage. Firstly, nowhere in the religious texts of the Jewish or even Christian religion is there a definition (I am not familiar with Islamic texts so I cannot comment on them). So, since there has never been a definition of the union that would not allow two men or two women to participate, that argument is invalid and, if a constitutional amendment be passed, would be erroneous and illegal based on some of the constitutional rights discussed later in this article. As for the supposed “sanctity” issue, I personally find it ridiculous because of the divorce rates and the fact that there has never been a generation of humanity where the majority of the population were in a “holy” and “perfect” union; there have always been domestic problems, cheating, dissolution and even savagery in such relationships. I sincerely doubt, as has been pointed out by the majority of comedians out there, that anyone will not be married or will divorce if homosexuals were allowed to get married.

Some protest that Homosexuals in general are “immoral” based on the passage in Leviticus that a man laying with a man like one lays with a woman is an “abomination” and that such a union being allowed legally would be offensive to themselves. Even if this were the case, by not allowing them to express themselves in this way, you are imposing your religion upon them. If we are to follow this course of action; denying certain religious freedoms then the United States would next regulate all forms of religious expression so that one group would not be offended by another's which could logically happen, seeing as how it has already happened in France and England (regarding to displaying religious paraphernalia on one's person).

There are many States in this country that still have laws on their books that should be repealed as a result of being discriminatory on the basis of a consensual sexual orientation (the consensual issue is to be addressed later). Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, and Utah all list consensual sodomy as a misdemeanor. The penalty for breaking these laws were a fine from $100 to $900. Texas, surprisingly enough, had repealed their version of this law in 1994, but in the others, they are still on the books. This is not the worst of the situation; Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma and Virginia all have laws on the books that call such acts a felony which have the penalties of at 1-10 years in jail and harsh fines. Some of the codes even call the act a “crime against nature.” In most instances, such congress between a man and a woman are not subject to this law. These are instances of unjust laws that make sexual relationships between consensual adults illegal and are therefore unconstitutional, but again, we shall come to why later.

Another issue that has been consistently brought up (much to my surprise given the childlike nature of the argument) in my conversations with individuals from the other edge of the bench is the following scenarios; “if we allow gays to marry, what is to keep the path from moving towards individuals marrying animals or children?” To this ridiculous argument, I have two responses. First this argument brings the discussion towards the issue of consent; there should be nothing wrong with two individuals who are at the age of consent to have a union, anything else would be a gross abuse of their civil rights for equal protection and expression. Children and Animals cannot give consent and to even bring up this argument is ludicrous.

The second response I have to this manner of argument is that we could take this line of thought in the opposite direction; let us say that there is an amendment to the constitution that defines marriage as a lawful union between a man and a woman. What is to keep the next step from being that we refuse marriage between individuals with different skin colors? This argument isn't as strange as the right would make it sound. In the U.S. Supreme Court case “Loving V. Virginia” (1967) this situation was addressed. Virginia, at the time had a ban on interracial marriages and charged a couple who had recently been married in another state and setting up residency in Virginia with violating that ban. For those who may be wondering, it was a felony to break this law; "If any white person intermarry with a colored person, or any colored person intermarry with a white person, he shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by confinement in the penitentiary for not less than one nor more than five years.” The U.S. Supreme Court found that while, “marriage is a social relation subject to the State's police power... there can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.” This argument can be directly applied to homosexual weddings, just replace the word “racial” with the word “sexual.” It is dumbfounding to me how anyone can deny that this is a gross violation of the Equal Protection Clause. This has been found in a few State Supreme Court rulings, such as one in Vermont in 1999 and Massachusetts in 2004.

It seems that there is some fear with the religious right that the government is going to come into their congregations and regulate their practices and force them to perform homosexual weddings. This is not the case, that would be unconstitutional. The reality of the situation is that if a congregation were to allow homosexual marriages in their church then that union would be recognized by the United States Government and any congregation would have the right to refuse to perform such a ceremony.

All I can really say to those who call the situation immoral or a sin and scream at homosexuals that they are bound for hell, is “so what?” Is it really your place to push your religion upon others? If they, in your eyes, sin and as such, in you eyes, go to hell for such action, let them. They are adults and can make their own choices and, look at it this way, you can have more room in your heaven. This situation on the sidelines, the legal and constitutional case is clear; by not allowing the homosexual demographic the right to express their religious and relationship beliefs and denying the same right you allow to a different demographic, you are committing unconstitutional acts. While I am not myself a homosexual, I do wish them luck and hope that the United States finds sanity in regards to this issue soon.