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The results of applying rational thinking to political problems



Cost of the War in Iraq
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War on Drugs: Wasted Resources




Friday, July 30, 2004

Restricted Freedom: The irony of the USA Patriot Act

Our "free" America isn't really free.

Let me clear something up: my opposition to the current version of the Patriot Act is an informed opinion. I actually took the time to read the whole thing. Most of it is actually quite reasonable. The problem is that the parts that are unreasonable have shocking effects on due process. Here are the parts that I find particularly alarming.

To start this off, I'd like to mention that Syria and North Korea were added to trade sanctions under this act. If these two countries are considered threats to the U.S. enough not to fund them, then what are our troops doing in Iraq? I can't figure out the logic behind that one. North Korea still has illegal nukes, after all. You want WMD's? How 'bout ones that can take out entire continents?

What happens when the government thinks you're a terrorist?

"EVIDENCE- In considering a claim filed under this section, a court may admit
evidence that is otherwise inadmissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence, if
the court determines that the evidence is reliable, and that compliance with the
Federal Rules of Evidence may jeopardize the national security interests of the
United States."


So if the government thinks you're a terrorist, they can use
whatever evidence they want against you. People are already falsely imprisoned
and even executed. We don't need any more of this. Perhaps government officials
should just do their jobs and find good evidence. They seem to have a pretty
good handle on "chatter" and "non-specific warnings."

What about this one?


"`(a) COIN AND CURRENCY RECEIPTS OF MORE THAN $10,000- Any person--
`(1) who is engaged in a trade or business; and
`(2) who, in the course of such trade or business, receives more than $10,000 in coins or currency in 1 transaction (or 2 or more related transactions), shall file a report described in subsection (b) with respect to such transaction (or related
transactions) with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may, by regulation, prescribe.
`(b) FORM AND MANNER OF REPORTS- A report is described in this subsection if such report--
`(1) is in such form as the Secretary may prescribe;
`(2) contains--
`(A) the name and address, and such other identification information as the Secretary may require, of the person from whom the coins or currency was received; `(B) the amount of coins or currency received;
`(C) the date and nature of the transaction; and
`(D) such other information, including the identification of the person filing the report, as the Secretary may prescribe."

This means that if any two people exchange more than $10,000 they are automatically suspicious and must be tracked and identified by the feds. So what happens if terrorists simply decide to make a large number of smaller transactions?

The one thing I do agree with is being ignored. Here's what the government is SUPPOSED to do with suspected terrorists:


"`MANDATORY DETENTION OF SUSPECTED TERRORISTS; HABEAS CORPUS; JUDICIAL REVIEW


`SEC. 236A. (a) DETENTION OF TERRORIST ALIENS- `(1) CUSTODY- The Attorney General shall take into custody any alien who is certified under paragraph (3).
`(2) RELEASE-
Except as provided in paragraphs (5) and (6), the Attorney General shall maintain custody of such an alien until the alien is removed from the United States. Except as provided in paragraph (6), such custody shall be maintained irrespective of any relief from removal for which the alien may be eligible, or any relief from removal granted the alien, until the Attorney General determines that the alien is no longer an alien who may be certified under paragraph (3). If the alien is finally determined not to be removable, detention pursuant to this subsection shall terminate.
`(3) CERTIFICATION- The Attorney General may certify an alien under this paragraph if the Attorney General has reasonable grounds to believe that the alien--
`(A) is described in section 212(a)(3)(A)(i), 212(a)(3)(A)(iii), 212(a)(3)(B), 237(a)(4)(A)(i), 237(a)(4)(A)(iii), or 237(a)(4)(B); or
`(B) is engaged in any other activity that endangers the national security of the United States.
`(4) NONDELEGATION- The Attorney General may delegate the authority provided under paragraph (3) only to the Deputy Attorney General. The Deputy Attorney General may not delegate such authority.
`(5) COMMENCEMENT OF PROCEEDINGS- The Attorney General shall place an alien detained under paragraph (1) in removal proceedings, or shall charge the alien with a criminal offense, not later than 7 days after the commencement of such
detention. If the requirement of the preceding sentence is not satisfied, the Attorney General shall release the alien.
`(6) LIMITATION ON INDEFINITE DETENTION- An alien detained solely
under paragraph (1) who has not been removed under section 241(a)(1)(A), and
whose removal is unlikely in the reasonably foreseeable future, may be detained
for additional periods of up to six months only if the release of the alien will
threaten the national security of the United States or the safety of the community or any person.
`(7) REVIEW OF CERTIFICATION- The Attorney General shall review the certification made under paragraph (3) every 6 months. If the Attorney General determines, in the Attorney General's discretion, that the certification should be revoked, the alien may be released on such conditions as the Attorney General deems appropriate, unless such release is otherwise prohibited by law. The alien may request each 6 months in writing that the Attorney General reconsider the certification and may submit documents or other evidence in support of that request.

`(b) HABEAS CORPUS AND JUDICIAL REVIEW-
`(1) IN GENERAL- Judicial review of any action or decision relating to this section (including judicial review of the merits of a determination made under subsection (a)(3) or (a)(6)) is available exclusively in habeas corpus proceedings consistent with this subsection. Except as provided in the preceding sentence, no court shall have jurisdiction to review, by habeas corpus petition or otherwise, any such action or decision.
`(2) APPLICATION-
`(A) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, including section 2241(a) of title 28, United States Code, habeas corpus proceedings described in
paragraph (1) may be initiated only by an application filed with--
`(i) the Supreme Court;
`(ii) any justice of the Supreme Court;
`(iii) any circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; or
`(iv) any district court otherwise having jurisdiction to entertain it.
`(B) APPLICATION TRANSFER- Section 2241(b) of title 28, United States Code, shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus described in subparagraph(A).
`(3) APPEALS- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, including section 2253 of title 28, in habeas corpus proceedings described in paragraph (1) before a circuit
or district judge, the final order shall be subject to review, on appeal, by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. There shall be no right of appeal in such proceedings to any other circuit court of appeals.
(c) REPORTS- Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 6 months thereafter, the Attorney General shall submit a report to the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate, with respect to the reporting period, on-- (1) the number of aliens certified under section 236A(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as added by subsection (a); (2) the grounds for such certifications; (3) the nationalities of the aliens so certified; (4) the length of the detention for each alien so certified; and (5) the number of aliens so certified who-- (A) were granted any form of relief from removal; (B) were removed; (C) the Attorney General has determined are no longer aliens who may be so certified; or (D) were released from detention."


Unfortunately, these proceedings have been completely ignored. Instead, detainees are labeled "enemy combatants" (similar to POW's) -- despite having no weapons and cooperating with authorities -- so that they can be imprisoned indefinitely with no right to due process. Three years later (now), these people are told that they can contest the ruling. But how? They have no access to legal counsel!

Don't think this is important? A quote from Attorney General John Ashcroft in Time magazine illustrates his blatant disregard for our legal rights:

"There are no civil liberties that are more important than the right to be uninjured and to be able to live in freedom."


So now civil liberties can be revoked in the name national security? Then comes a part that doesn't even make sense.
"SEC. 1007. AUTHORIZATION OF FUNDS FOR DEA POLICE TRAINING IN SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA.

In addition to amounts otherwise available to carry out section 481 of
the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2291), there is authorized to be
appropriated to the President not less than $5,000,000 for fiscal year 2002 for
regional antidrug training in the Republic of Turkey by the Drug Enforcement
Administration for police, as well as increased precursor chemical control
efforts in the South and Central Asia region."

The total stupidity of this provision floored me. Why the Drug Enforcement Agency? Shouldn't we have CIA agents taking a look at the WMD's of South Asia? The logic I'm sensing is that it's acceptable for North Korea to have illegal nukes, but we have to watch that they aren't too stoned to use them, making them more dangerous, I guess.

I agree with the parts I didn't mention here. Like the Kerry/Edwards ticket, I support revision of the act, not its repeal. I also believe action must be taken soon. Three years have passed, and the objections of many citizens have been ignored.

Don't mistake me for an armchair warrior. I will run for office when I can, and I will get involved. Besides, I don't even have an armchair.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The USA Patriot Act strikes again

Apparently, copyright violators are terrorists.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Kerry cares about national security

Argument #1 for Bush supporters seems to be that Kerry doesn't care enough about national security. Perhaps his call to extend the work of the 9/11 commission will debunk that theory.

The Republicans just don't get it

According to this Washington Post article, some well-respected Democrats have refrained from speaking at the DNC this year, mostly due to campaigns at home. Why not briefly make an appearance at the DNC for just one day, though? I think this paragraph explains it all:
"Missing in Action

Congressional correspondent Charles Babington noted that some top Democrats will be conspicuously absent when Kerry claims the party's nomination on Thursday night. "The top Democratic candidates from seven of the eight most competitive Senate races will be back home, as will dozens of House candidates," Babington reported. "Publicly, these candidates say they need to spend every possible minute campaigning at home. Privately, some acknowledge they do not want to hand their Republican opponents a ready-made campaign ad linking them to the Democratic Party's more liberal figures, such as Massachusetts Sens. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy, who will loom large here."
They fear Republican mudslinging. More proof that my thoughts on digging up dirt are true.

Dems go positive

The Democrats are now officially anti-mudslinging. Yes, this headline is real:

In Boston, Democrats Seek a Positive Sign: Party Aims for Upbeat Tone at Convention

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Good non-partisan news

Leaders Pick Up Urgency of 9/11 Panel (washingtonpost.com)

It's not the removal of Bush from office, but it's good progress. At least I can feel safer with the rest of Congress working together on national security.

Ted Rall vs. reason

There's a difference between having unconventional views and unnecessary lunacy. Let's compare:

UNCONVENTIONAL

John Kerry is a douche bag, but I'm voting for him anyway.

This site contains factually based political essays backing the author's choice to vote for John Kerry, even though he isn't his favorite.

UNNECESSARY

Ted Rall's comic strip

Outsourcing War Crimes

For starters, there are much better ways of expressing yourself. I'm rabidly anti-censorship, but I don't think any reasonable editor would want to be associated with this toilet humor. I'm not calling for censorship. I just wish the guy could find a more intelligent outlet for his political views. He has valid points, but nobody is receptive to the way they're being brought up.

What I am calling for is for newspaper editors to be more responsible and stop asking for Doonesbury to be pulled while this crap continues.

Idiots like these are the reason the left isn't taken seriously.

Out of control in Iraq

Yes, I know. Nothing new there. What's new is who is out of control: the government, possibly.

Question everything -- including 9/11

Was Flight 93 Shot Down?

Were the emergency calls fake?

I'm going to ask it. Why? The entire story reeks of government cover-up.

The "Let's Roll" calls were quite improbable.

Cell phones can indeed work from airplanes, but some calls are cut off, and the rest are difficult to hear. How, then, do all 9/11-related calls reach their destinations?

The color of Islam is green. Why would Islamic terrorist hijackers wear red bandanas, as described in the cell phone calls?

The Cleveland radio transmissions were never confirmed.

Nobody ever confirmed the identity of the caller. For years, we have simply assumed that claims of hijacking meant that it was the nearest airplane with a terrorist on board. No one ever said this outright.

The government has fed the public hoaxes before. It's standard procedure to protect secrets.

I'm sure the recent panic over ephedra is still fresh in your minds. However, I'll bet that most of you don't think aspartame (also known as NutraSweet) is a poison.

Does this have anything to do with the election?

Most people would probably argue that discussion of the events surrounding 9/11 should be bipartisan, as it was a tragedy that we all experienced. While this is true, I believe that the response to the tragedy was poorly handled, from inaction to misguided action to poor reporting.

I doubt that, when faced with a tragedy, that anyone but Bush would respond by continuing to a photo op, and then reading The Pet Goat while the nation is under attack. This would also eliminate the problem of the vice president being forced to act with little or no authority. In turn, this would avoid miscommunication and distrust from the public -- they would be getting the news straight from their leader. The media would then have a clearer handle on who to ask and what exactly happened, eliminating question marks such as this one and replacing them with facts.

Please don't give the Bush administration a chance to fall into any further irresponsibility. One would be led to think that a tragedy followed by seemingly endless war would be enough!

Vote Kerry/Edwards in 2004. At least if the country is headed downhill, you can say you tried to make a change.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Out of war money

War Funds Dwindling, GAO Warns (washingtonpost.com)

It goes without saying that George W. Bush is a great wartime president. Unfortunately, that is all he is good at handling. He forgot about where the money to fund war comes from -- you and me. It doesn't grow on trees, you know. There is a limited amount of it. Perhaps this could've been avoided had we not driven the deficit to record highs while continuing tax breaks for the wealthy.

John Kerry would ensure that the domestic issues are straightened out first, so that we are properly prepared for war, should the need arise.

UPDATE:

It seems that Bush is terrible with the military, too. So much for his so-called strength.


Don't believe me about that "Saudi Privilege" thing yet?

The event speaks for itself.

Video Shows Pentagon Hijackers Passing Through Airport Security (washingtonpost.com)

Video here.

The bottom line is votes

Latino voters pick Kerry over Bush by a 2 to 1 ratio.

If it's about the money, I smell victory

Democrats Outraising the GOP This Year (washingtonpost.com)

Add this to the list of government waste I paid for with my taxes

Certainly you remember Bill Janklow's case, right? Well, the government waste rears its ugly head again. I have also unwittingly paid for soldiers' plastic surgery.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bill O'Reilly gets the ass-whooping of his life

Not only that, but the man he argued with and eventually stopped "out of respect for his father," Jeremy Glick, isn't done with him. For those of you who, like me, have blown this guy off a long time ago, here's a transcript of the original episode.

Transcript of Interview of Jeremy Glick by Bill O'Reilly

(Source: Al Franken Show)

Allow me to open up my own can of whoop-ass on the nutter O'Reilly. He deserves every single negative response he gets.

Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly

Bill, how can you censor a guy "out of respect for his father?" How do you know what his father thinks? Are you, perhaps, a psychopath who needs to be institutionalized? The best thing to do when you don't understand a guy is to let him finish!

I thought you never told guests to shut up. You did it at least three times there. That is a bold-faced lie, and the media doesn't need liars right now.

Where do you get the idea that you can host an echo chamber for a talk show and expect people to like it? You silence the opposition and praise your supporters. Billl, you just have to be in control, don't you? Megalomaniac. If you were left in charge of any government, I bet that you are accused of being a dictator within the first week. Good luck in your fascist quest to ruin debate, the heart and soul of democracy.

Signed,

A concerned voter searching for truth

America's love-hate relationship with the world

Hating America

I think this is a much-overblown argument here. I'm just going to explain the issue in a few short sentences.

1. America will always have more $$$ than most countries. Therefore, they will all be envious of our success, an unattainable goal to the rest.

2. America is near the top in wealth, but near the bottom in education and worse than socialist countries in standard of living. Foreigners look at this and immediately recognize the waste.

3. Foreigners are not used to a democratic society. They do not value freedom over all other things. Critics of the U.S. are thinking that, from a socialist standpoint, we should give up some of our freedoms for the good of the country.

Europeans criticizing America are full of it. Their healthcare is worse, they can't make as much money as us, and their government is far from effective. Of all people in the world, Europeans should not be hating us. They should, instead, be taking notes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Saudi America? The Bush family sure thinks so

George W. Bush's campaign song for this fall should be "All About the Benjamins," because greed has always been the driving force behind him and his associates, not to mention that it would be really cool for a president to play a rap song at an official gathering. In his worship of the almighty dollar, Bush has found himself entangled in a complex web of illicit money, beginning with a friend from the National Guard and continuing through the current war in Iraq, with references to Saudis, oil, Enron, and Dick Cheney in between. Get ready to pull the wool off of your eyes and discover one of the largest conspiracies to ever infiltrate American politics.

The year is 1972. George W. Bush and James R. Bath go AWOL during their service in the National Guard.

Fast-forward to 2004. To dispel rumors about his military service record, George W. Bush releases it to the press. Instead, we are left with more questions than answers. White House press secretary Scott McClellan dismissed a reporter's question regarding the record as a "trashy rumor," but I beg to differ. We have been given the key to unlock a vast business connection linking W. to James R. Bath, James Baker, George H. W. Bush, a number of oil companies, an alleged criminal, and the bin Laden family. Our journey begins with the release of George W. Bush's military record. Two different versions of this record reached the public, but only one of them was censored. The censored version was determined to have left out the name James R. Bath, who was reprimanded for the same offense as W. at the same time. Why? Thanks to the current Bush administration's careful image control and contempt for the press, the answer is left to research.

Back to 1968. W. joins the National Guard to evade the draft. While serving, he befriends fellow serviceman James Bath. In 1976, George H. W. Bush (W.'s father) takes over the CIA and privatizes it. Bath, being an aircraft broker, is a beneficiary of this measure. James Bath then becomes the financial representative to Saudis Salem bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's half-brother, and Kahlid bin Mahfouz, who ran the Saudi royal family's bank at the time. Bin Mahfouz went on to run the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, which would later become the center of attention for scandal involving criminal funding and investor fraud.

Are you sensing a recurring theme yet? The Bushes, upon realizing that they have been used as a funnel for terrorism, decide to...quit? No. That would be too honest and make too much sense. Instead, they quickly censor future reports. However, they forgot to cover their tracks, and I am finding them via a cable internet connection.

We now find ourselves in 1976. George H. W. Bush, W.'s father, becomes director of the CIA. While serving at this position, he begins to privatize operations, and Bath is a beneficiary of this measure.

Advance forward to 1978. A man named Bill White graduates from Harvard Business School and is introduced to James Bath. White becomes Bath's business associate, managing his real estate company. The bin Laden and bin Mahfouz families both invest in this company. In return, they are granted gifts, including apartments, offices, and investments in Texas banks. Salem bin Laden and Kahlid bin Mahfouz end up buying a mansion in Houston. Meanwhile, Bush the younger starts up an oil company called Arbusto 78, with the help of bin Laden and bin Mahfouz. They contributed something to the tune of $1 million. A series of limited partnerships continue into the mid-1980's.

Is this the way to treat powerful foreigners? Never before have I heard of international business associates relocating to do business. To me, this looks like a plot to gain control has been hatched. I smell a rat already.

Move ahead into the year 1979. Under the direction of the elder Bush, the CIA funds the Mujadeen of Afghanistan to prevent the Soviets from invading. George H. W. Bush becomes vice-president in 1980, ensuring that they will be treated well. A year later, Osama bin Laden relocates to Afghanistan to support the Mujadeen. At this point, the U.S. is on the same side as Osama bin Laden.

It is now 1983. Enter Bandar bin Sultan, who is appointed Saudi ambassador to the U.S. He builds a close relationship with the Bush family, even being nicknamed "Bandar Bush." Even as al-Qaeda turns up in Saudi Arabia, Bandar Bush continues to be close to the Bush family. This is unheard of, and it will hamper investigations before, during, and after 9/11.

In 1986, White and Bath go broke. Bath ruins White's business career with 28 different lawsuits. Bill White rejected a pay-off involving silence on James Bath's involvement in the Bush family's ties to the Saudis. Bill White is now out of the picture financially, but he goes to the media to expose these secrets. You can find an interview with White here.

A year later, George W. Bush rolls all of his failed oil ventures into one company, called Harken Energy. This new company is funded by members of the BCCI, who contributed $25 million. Beginning in 1988, the public would discover that the BCCI catered to criminals. The Senate report on the BCCI Affair was edited, but here is the uncensored draft of that report.

Guess whose name appears on that report -- none other than George W. Bush's rival for this fall, Senator John F. Kerry! Some accuse him of being too rude toward his opponent, but I think it is more than justified. Kerry has witnessed and investigated a piece of this scandal for himself! Perhaps he sees the connection as well.

The CIA succeeds in one of its largest covert operations in 1989, forcing the Soviets out of Afghanistan with a $3 million campaign in Afghanistan. However, the U.S. would then abandon the country. An angered Osama returns to Saudi Arabia. I am no military strategist, but if you are going to do back-stabbing, I do not think it should involve someone with clout who can get revenge. Turning on a bin Laden effectively pitted the Bush family against itself -- a supportive business interest juxtaposed with a political opposition. This should spell disaster, right? Let the betrayal begin.

Enter Saddam Hussein, president/dictator of Iraq. When he invades Kuwait in 1991, Osama suggests raising a Saudi army to fight the invaders. However, against his wishes, the rest of the bin Laden family asks the U.S. for help. The U.S., with George H. W. Bush as president, responds and leaves 20,000 troops in Saudi Arabia afterward. Osama is now disenfranchised from the bin Laden family.

When 1992 rolls around, voters are upset with the recent failings of the Republican party. They elect Democrat Bill Clinton into office. George H. W. Bush moves on, taking on roles as an advisor to the Carlyle Group and serving on the board of directors for one of its subsidiaries. This group invests in a company that trains the Saudi military. By '93, Osama bin Laden has distanced himself from his family. He leads al-Qaeda when it attacks the World Trade Center for the first time. Osama evades capture.

In 1994, Bush the younger becomes governor of Texas. The Bush line of succession in politics has been re-established.

The year is now 1995. A car bomb strikes a U.S.-leased office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killing five Americans and wounding 30 others. Clinton "vows to track down those responsible." However, the Saudi government arrested and beheaded four suspects in 1996 without permitting a U.S. investigation. Trying to hide government-sponsored attacks, perhaps?

In 1996, the Taliban rises to power in Afghanistan. Around the same time, Osama bin Laden (now in Sudan) is pressured by the Clinton administration to relocate to Afghanistan. Bin Laden was not arrested despite offers from the Sudanese government allowing the U.S. to pursue him. Clinton would later state that this was his biggest regret. He had no idea that this man would commit one of the worst terrorist attacks in American history five years later. Bin Laden is now situated in Afghanistan, still the leader of al-Qaeda, now supported by the Taliban. Why was Osama not arrested, after claiming responsibility for the first WTC bombing? He committed crimes against the U.S., yet he did not pose an immediate threat? I will never understand this move, but I suspect that the Bush family had some influence in this decision.

Al-Qaeda strikes again in 1998, bombing two U.S. embassies -- Kenya and Tanzania. Nobody is arrested, once again. In October 2000, the U.S.S. cole is bombed. No suspects are found, and no search is initiated. Officials wait until mounting pressure forces them to solve the case -- four years later!

In one of the most controversial elections in U.S. history, George W. Bush defeats Al Gore to become president in 2000. His victory was determined by a 5-4 Supreme Court vote not to recount the votes. The innaguration is protested, highlighted by the throwing of eggs at the president's limo. Bush is the first president in U.S. history unable to complete the traditional walk due to the mounting protests. The next day, members of Congress have objections that eligible voters were refused at the ballot box, but not a single senator will sign them. By law, the objections are discarded.

The election was by far corrupted. Florida, the state that gave W. the determining votes, fell under Bush control. The fact that Katherine Harris, his campaign manager and Florida governor Jeb Bush, his brother, controlled the election sure helps. Why did these people not recuse themselves due to a conflict of interest? All of the ballot design, list purging, and flawed e-voting aside, should people directly involved with the Bush campaign have been lawfully permitted to remain in charge of the "impartial" election? Justice will never truly be served in the courts or in the polls until conflict-of-interest cases are clearly defined and determined by outside observers. Of course someone who has a conflict of interest will stay on -- they'll get their way!

Further complicating government is the miscommunication between the CIA and FBI. Why they both exist is beyond me. Both agencies do the same work. Further emphasizing intelligence (or lack thereof) blunders, Ziad Jarrah, soon-to-be 9/11 hijacker, is interrogated by the CIA in 2001. They find no evidence of criminal activity, but they miss one key fact -- two 'Ziad Jarrahs' were inside U.S. borders at the same time! Many more mistakes will follow, most of them being because workers were not permitted to inspect Saudis coming into the country. Also in 2001, Bush's lawyer, James Baker, engages in negotiations with the Taliban over plans to run an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. This is yet another classic example of chasing the dollar -- at any cost, including our security.

Following the major breakdowns between the CIA and the FBI, 9/11 happens. There should have been no surprises, but the news comes as a shock. Immediately, conspiracy theorists go to work, claiming everything from this Bush-Saudi connection to the date being symbolism for 9-1-1 to the U.S. planning the attacks. Rumors of Palestinians celebrating the attacks circulate through the news. No suspects are identified. We later discover that 15/19 of the hijackers who escaped security checks are Saudis. The weapon of choice: box-cutters. Airport bans become ridiculous in order to prevent this from happening again.

The suspicion continues as the bin Laden family is permitted to leave the U.S. without questioning, even though standard procedure for any criminal investigation is to interrogate relatives. Besides that, all U.S. flights have been grounded -- except for the Saudis. "Saudi privilege" ruins the investigation. Further supporting the "Saudi privilege" is James A. Baker, who defends Saudis in a massive 9/11 lawsuit.

Congress then passes the Patriot Act, which basically signs away Congress' right to approve war, and relinquishes our rights whenever terrorism is suspected. The government is permitted to do as it pleases so long as it is in the name of security. Almost immediately, the military establishes a prison in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba and begins holding suspects prisoner there. People continue to be held there today, and the feds still cannot explain why.

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden communicated with the U.S. via video releases. In one of the releases, he claims responsibility for 9/11. When this one comes out weeks later, Bush initiates an attack on the Taliban, the Afghani government that was harboring al-Qaeda. Still no investigation occurs, and we are out of luck, maybe time. Osama escapes.

We now find ourselves in 2002 with no rights, no clear information, and a mess in Afghanistan. Since we invaded, there had no longer been a Taliban-imposed ban on opium. Afghanis return to drug dealing, and the Taliban just keeps coming back for more. They will not be totally eradicated until a year later. Afghanistan finally has a democratic government, but U.S. troops remain. The tape releases cease, and the U.S. government assumes that he is out of the picture.

Then, unexplicably, White House officials try to convince us of a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Bush opponents are quick to point out that Iraq could have come from W.'s father. The proof: satellite spy photos. The Bush administration believed that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction and supporting bin Laden's terror organization.

When Bush states his case to invade Iraq to the U.N., he is outright rejected, and weapons inspectors find nothing. Instead, W. builds a "coalition of the willing," mainly consisting of countries that could contribute nothing. With maybe two or three other countries, the U.S. invades Iraq in March 2003. George W. Bush claims that the war will last 5 months.
Following the invasion, Osama returns with the last video release to date stating that he does not care whether Saddam lives, and no WMD are found. There goes the entire premise for war.

It is now July 2004, troops are still in Iraq, and the government has not been fully established. Furthermore, Saddam Hussein was ousted and lost. He went missing for quite some time before being captured last spring. Now, without U.N. approval, the course of action remains undetermined. Saddam is being held prisoner still. Insurgents continue to assault U.S. troops. Troops also remain in Afghanistan despite claims of victory. U.S. troops now stay in Iraq past the June 30 deadline as well.

Time out! I sense another theme -- invading and leaving troops everywhere to monitor the situation. Is this not what is commonly referred to as "policing the world?" I thought Bush the candidate was strongly opposed to this. Also suspicious is Dick Cheney's own Haliburton winning Iraq contracts unopposed. It just does not make sense for every other business in America to be uninterested.

On the home front, the Department of Homeland Security forms in 2002 with Tom Ridge at its head in order to coordinate communications between the CIA and the FBI. It fails miserably on Iraq evidence, as more claims of miscommunication abound. The department establishes the Bush administration's scare-mongering by developing a terror alert system that never dips below "elevated." The colors mean nothing. For some strange reason, the feds can never provide evidence when they raise the alert level. Apparently, the terrorists like to "chatter" quite a bit, and it always increases around holidays. John Ashcroft frequently discusses the "war on terror," a war with no enemy and constant threat. The Homeland Security team spreads the word all over the place to stock up on duct tape and plastic to protect the home from bioterror hazards following the mail crisis. Nothing comes of this, but they continue. All the while, Bush and co. try to assure us that no threats are imminent.

Actions following 9/11 follow perfect form for a manipulator. U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott should know. As a psychiatrist, he points out that the Bush administration is playing mind games so he can have his way. This is why nobody will stand up to the president and outright state that he is wrong. Do not let yourself fall into this trap.

So far, the Bush presidency has been marked by deception, greed, terror, war, invasion, and regime change for bad leadership. This entire mess formed because the Bush family made oil deals with the Saudis back in the '70s and just could not let go. I put the question to you: if the Bush administration has nearly run this country into the dirt, and the Senate agrees, is it not time for a regime change at home?

[At no point in this piece do I intend to accuse President Bush of committing any crimes. Feedback is welcome.]

Gov. Schwarzenegger forgets where he is

Calling Democratic legislators "girlie men" for not passing a budget is one thing, but failing to look back and find your own mistakes while standing by your remarks is another.

I thing Gov. Schwarzenegger should apologize to all Californians for being too dumb for government. These kinds of insults only sway people's opinions in movies. Take a step back and look at the facts:
"Number of employees on Gov. Schwarzenegger's staff who make $100,000 or more: 14.

Number of employees on Gov. Davis' staff who made $100,000 or more: 8."
What budget cut? I thought that's why Davis was ousted. Read on:
"Pay concessions Gov. Schwarzenegger vowed to extract by playing hardball with the California prison guards union: $300 million.

Amount of pay concessions actually negotiated by Schwarzenegger with the prison union: $108 million.

Number of weeks it took before a federal judge lambasted Schwarzenegger's prison guard deal for hindering reform: 3.

Amount by which annual payments from Indian casinos will fall short of Schwarzenegger's projections: 30%.

Schwarzenegger's whereabouts just hours after vowing to stay in Sacramento and fight like a warrior to end the budget stalemate: Beverly Hills fund-raiser.

Amount raised at Beverly Hills fund-raiser by Schwarzenegger, who earlier promised to end fund-raising during budget season: Roughly $400,000.

Number of days that have passed since the budget deadline: 21."
Now for the most important numbers -- the bottom line:
"Total dollar amount of the 2003-04 budget signed by ex-Gov. Gray Davis: $99.1 billion.

Total amount of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's first budget after promising to shrink government: $103 billion."
Readers, the numbers can't lie.

hot air vented by Alex | 3:56 PM | 0 comments links to this post

U.S. Military looks into mind control via computer chips

Mind Control

For those of you who haven't noticed how military veterans all act the same once they're back to civilian life or how the military has already been into brainwashing for the past half-century, maybe this is a wake-up call.

hot air vented by Alex | 4:50 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Osama bin Lotto

When will the U.S. capture bin Laden? Some say we already have but won't tell anyone else. Which date will it be? Is that the real reason Bush wants to delay the election?

In case the scare-mongering and the "war on terror" without an enemy haven't worked yet, wouldn't that really distract people from the millions of jobs lost to outsourcing, the uprise in Haiti, the U.S. ignoring pleas from Libya to intervene and instead invading Iraq without asking, the record budget deficit, the proliferation of nuclear arms to people not named Saddam Hussein, etc.?

(Source: The Red Carpet)

hot air vented by Alex | 4:41 AM | 0 comments links to this post

The Arabian Candidate?

Paul Krugman seems to support my theory that, while acting as if they're doing what they can to fight terrorism, the Bush administration is actually causing us more problems by letting the home front slip and showing preference to his Saudi friends.

(Source: Andy's Intestinal Bloggage)

hot air vented by Alex | 3:43 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Monday, July 19, 2004

Where have all the values gone?

Seven Inches of Sense had a post titled Jefferson, Washington, Where are you ? I made what I think is a blog-worthy comment:
"Look at education and pop culture today. I think one of the sacrifices of freedom is the choice of something less desirable. Back in the late 16th and early 17th century, there were no computers, T.V., or anything else that eliminates reading and manual labor. Your only choices for entertainment were plays, reading, and writing, things that are widely absent in today's society, but they are things that can educate as much as they entertain. The only choice for food was farming. With this setting, physical fitness, character, and leadership were built-in features of American life. However, with the advent of modern technology, people can make machines do things for them and waste time, accomplishing nothing.

Don't get me wrong -- I am generally liberal politically. It's just that I see what the bad choices do. In the end, choosing conservative values seems to make an individual a better leader in society."

I don't hate conservatism. I hate the self-righteous politicians who try to make it law.

hot air vented by Alex | 9:28 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Irony in Washington

Via Armchair Subversive.com, I have a list of Republicans who act counter to the very values they preach.

hot air vented by Alex | 3:56 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Study of Bush's psyche

Conservatism labeled a mental illness

Things like these are what irks me. The biased psychologists think they have the answer and nobody else does. While I agree with the analysis, and many Republican politicians are like this, not everyone is. Conservatism itself isn't all about tradition. Some of it is about conserving money and eliminating government bureaucracy.

Besides that, Bush is, by definition, not a conservative. Why does the GOP continue to support him? He doesn't represent their ideals...unless I am correct in detecting a conspiracy of the Republican party to gain control of Washington.

I also conclude that George W. Bush's values are similar to those of a dictator, but I will never accuse a large group of people of being clinically insane. Not only is it rude and degrading and inaccurate, but nobody is perfect. I could probably connect liberalism to a mental illness, too, if I wanted.

hot air vented by Alex | 3:54 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Let's take a look at the real "Flipper"

How can you accuse Kerry of changing his mind on policy from 10 years ago? For starters, Iraq I and Iraq II happened under different circumstances. Also, over time, ideas can change. That's how we get progress.

Now, let's look at what's happening now. W. promised that we wouldn't "police the world" and that every single American will be insured. We are presently occupying Iraq on a police-type mission to remove Saddam, and 44 million Americans are uninsured. For one of the wealthiest nations in the world, this is a disaster.

Here's more insight into the flip-floppery of G.W. Bush:

George W. Bush, Flip-flopper-in-chief

Bush vs. Bush debate

hot air vented by Alex | 1:24 PM | 0 comments links to this post

What a candidate should be doing

Kerry Keeps His Faith in Reserve

Headlines like this shouldn't be so shocking. Separation of church and state is one of our principles. Why, then, is this even an issue?

hot air vented by Alex | 12:13 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Middle Easterners strike again

Terror in the Skies, Again?

(Source: Tomorrowism)

I am in an interesting predicament: there is some good being done in Iraq, but I think efforts are being misdirected. We're presently too concerned with clearing up Iraqi insurgents to look at what's happening within our borders.

Meanwhile, gangs still roam the streets of our large cities, and we still have massive amounts of homeless and unemployed.

What a great humanitarian effort. I think we need to sacrifice our attempts at putting down Iraqi insurgents and focus on what's going on here in the U.S. We need to solve the problem of why we're one of the world's wealthiest nations, but we still have a mediocre education system and standard of living. Where's the money going? Into the pockets of the elite, never to return?

Let's clean up around home first. Image is everything, after all. I'm beginning to wonder why everyone is so surprised that the majority of the world hates us.

hot air vented by Alex | 11:35 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Kerry and Bush to duke it out

Finally, I'll get to see them go head-to-head. With Kerry and Edwards' recent public appearances, I have a feeling Bush and Cheney are in for some embarassment.

Kerry accepts proposed debate schedule

hot air vented by Alex | 9:44 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Newsflash: Identity theft is already illegal

New Law Gets Tough on Identity Theft

The Bush administration has not yet proven that it can handle the enforcement of existing laws. To cover his shortcoming, he signs yet another anti-terrorism law. Why can't he just focus on enforcing what we've got? I thought the Patriot Act was extreme and had the potential to go too far. However, it's not being used to its full legal potential. Thus we have another waste of ink. What a way to thwart terrorism.

hot air vented by Alex | 8:57 PM | 0 comments links to this post

He said it before he didn't say it

Dick Cheney Caught In Lie On Video

hot air vented by Alex | 4:56 AM | 0 comments links to this post

The gay marriage debate hits home

Rick Santorum is a moonbat.

How did a religious rite such as marriage ever fall into the hands of the state in the first place?

hot air vented by Alex | 4:19 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Victory for Freedom

Senate Scuttles Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage

hot air vented by Alex | 3:56 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Hillary Clinton invited not to speak at DNC

I join James of Outside the Beltway in saying: Outrage? Ha!

I am a left-liberal, and I think she's a liberal wacko. Kerry should be counting his blessings and thanking the folks at the DNC right now.
 
UPDATE:
 
She's going after all. Wishful thinking, I guess.

hot air vented by Alex | 3:48 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Kerry screws up...

...and Allah makes a mockery of him.

More ingenious action-reaction political humor, brought to you by Photoshop. Allah is indeed in the House.

hot air vented by Alex | 3:12 AM | 0 comments links to this post

RFID for profit

Schoolchildren to be RFID-chipped

Before you get all worked up, let's take a deep breath and look at the situation. We have a cool new device, albeit a misused one. Let's redirect efforts a bit.

hot air vented by Alex | 2:53 AM | 0 comments links to this post

I just payed Bill Janklow with my last paycheck

Taxpayers would pay damages in civil lawsuit against Janklow, ruling decides

(Source: Waste Blog)

hot air vented by Alex | 2:39 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Mike Ditka + U.S. Senate = Disaster

Once a Football Coach, Always a Football Coach

UPDATE:

Bingo.

hot air vented by Alex | 1:23 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Non-pressing Non-issues that W. thinks are important

Are gay marriage and flag burning really that important that we have to pursue them before housing, interest rates, taxes, unemployment, the future of Social Security, prescription drug prices, etc.?

hot air vented by Alex | 12:07 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Bush shoots himself in the foot -- again

Bush lifts logging ban for national forests

Pick one: good for the environment or good for big business? Hey, whatever happened to the hydrogen fuel experiment?!

Bush, without saying a word, makes his choice clear -- he doesn't care about our environment's future.

It doesn't take an environmentalist to oppose this. It just takes someone who lives in an area of the country (Western PA) that has already been ravaged by logging efforts. While you can't save every single tree, the forests shouldn't look like a tornado came through.

hot air vented by Alex | 12:04 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Monday, July 12, 2004

Bush Is One of Us

Kerry takes advantage of Bush's NAACP snub

Bush was asked why he snubbed the convention. Here's how it went:
"Last week, Bush declined an NAACP speaking invitation because of 'hostile political rhetoric' from the group's leaders. 'You've heard the rhetoric and the names they've called me,' Bush told the Philadelphia Inquirer."


So he admits that it's rhetoric and still succumbs to it to maintain acceptance. That's grade-school mentality right there. Or Bush is a pansy.

We need a LEADER, someone who will stand up for his/her beliefs.
President Bush is a FOLLOWER, someone who gains acceptance by succumbing to a larger group's ideas.

hot air vented by Alex | 11:12 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Logic Before Alignment

I always advocate the making of decisions based on your beliefs -- as well as finding your own beliefs -- before you wind up subscribing to someone else's ideas. Be yourself. Here's why that's so important:

The World's Smallest Political Quiz doesn't use the word "best" for a reason -- it sucked the first time. It pegged me and my liberal leanings as a libertarian. Now that they've fixed it, it's a bit better. If you took it before and actually based your vote on it, please try it again. It covers some more defining issues this time around. Here's my new score:



It better reflects my endorsement of the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

hot air vented by Alex | 8:42 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Who Would've Guessed?

It's "Democrat" and "Reagan" in the same sentence!

hot air vented by Alex | 11:03 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Once Again, the U.S. Is Doing Some Good

Good news from Iraq, Part 5

hot air vented by Alex | 5:18 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Asshole on My Side

I'm hoping not to be connected with Robert Fisk in my opposition to censorship. If it's meant to protect someone's life, let it be!

(Source: Chrenkoff)

hot air vented by Alex | 5:15 PM | 0 comments links to this post

George W. Bush: President for Most

Bush Snubs NAACP

hot air vented by Alex | 3:38 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Guess What? Democrats Can Use the Military, Too

Democrats' Platform Focuses on U.S. Security

hot air vented by Alex | 3:24 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Is It Clear Yet?



The Bush-Cheney ticket has the phrases "what a real asshole" and "go fuck yourself" attributed to its campaign. Kerry-Edwards only has charisma.



Before you accuse Kerry of running up debt, look at what Bush has done. Didn't he run a record deficit in the name of military spending?

hot air vented by Alex | 2:32 PM | 0 comments links to this post

The Republican Party Has Met Its Match

There's a wealthy Democrat in the race now.

John Kerry's Five-Star Campaign - How many millions can you spend in three weeks?

BRING IT ON!

hot air vented by Alex | 2:22 PM | 0 comments links to this post

It's the Economy, Stupid

The Sin of Wages: The real reason to oppose the minimum wage.

Landsburg says Kerry's policy doesn't make sense because the minimum wage is not connected to job creation. He's right. It isn't:
"The minimum wage is nothing but a huge off-the-books tax paid by a small group of people, with all the proceeds paid out as the equivalent of welfare to a different small group of people."

Welfare equivalency: yes
Tax: no

There are ways around minimum wage laws, and I have had experience with one such exempt job, so I know they exist. Therefore, the minimum wage can't be a tax. Businesses are just too stupid to adapt. All you have to do is use temporary workers instead of full-time employees. Problem solved.

He also misses another point, and a reason conservatives should actually support minimum wage laws -- businesses pay them, and not the government, thus eliminating a chunk of welfare that would have to be paid out to people who "lose their lousy job[s]." It's the perfect compromise: liberal law, conservative practice. Herein lies the reason our Republican president won't change this -- it makes perfect political sense.

The Perfect Compromise

Landsburg thinks the problem is minimum wage because of its concept:
"If a tax-and-spend program that arbitrary were spelled out explicitly, voters would recoil."

It's not spelled out as a tax because it isn't one. Hmmm...

If a movement to eliminate the minimum wage were spelled out this explicitly, voters would recoil, too. Is Landsburg too blind to see his own extremism?

How Minimum Wage Really Affects the Economy

Welfare and unemployment don't pay minimum wage. If people rely on these government paychecks instead of a low-paying job, we face a reduction in consumer spending, the driving force behind our economic success.

hot air vented by Alex | 2:18 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Separation of Church and State

We still have a long way to go.

I agree that we must have separation of Church and State in the U.S. The problem is that even though most Christian religions believe in separation of Church and State, in theory, if not openly, they continue to fight for our Christian roots. This isn't as bad as most people think, but it's still a problem.

I can speak for the Catholic religion. By believing in free will and that people must come to accept Jesus willingly, we are bound to tolerance, meaning that a truly Christian government is one that doesn't endorse Christianity.

However, I don't think it would've been possible for this to have happened overnight. The original colonies were founded by Puritans who disagreed with the Church of England, so, while it wouldn't endorse a particular religion, nearly all the people were Christian (and the others were cast out or killed -- like the Salem witch trials), and the government reflected this.

The problem is that most conservatives have trouble accepting the fact that we've moved beyond that period, and that we now have to be tolerant of non-Christians, and this is why anything perceived as "evil" will continue to be regulated today.

This can be seen in the regulation of sex, drugs (including alcohol), and gun ownership. Here's the message that I believe a truly free country would send:

1. Sex

Pornography is legal, but apparently going off-camera into prostitution suddenly becomes a crime. This is both inconsistent and wrong, as the government is conditionally regulating morality.

2. Drugs/Alcohol

[NOTE: Far too often, people look at these two issues as separate. They should come hand-in-hand. This is another governmental inconsistency. They forget that alcohol is a drug, and perhaps a more dangerous one than the illegal ones!]

Drug control is government waste. If people want to ruin themselves with drugs and alcohol, let them. We have rehab services for a reason. Let's put them to use instead of throwing addicts into jail and punishing them for nothing but human weakness. As many law enforcement officers as possible are needed to help fight the war on terrorism.

[NOTE: If you think drugs and terrorism are connected, you're backward! If you studied even basic history, you'd realize that, in the 1920's, prohibition led to the rise of organized crime via black market alcohol deals! Drug laws and their enforcement are exacerbating national security problems.]

3. Gun Ownership

This is by far the worst case of the three regarding flawed logic. Owning a gun isn't even immoral. The problem is the use of a gun. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Besides, if we require gun ownership by law, every household would have one, and crime would become dangerous, thus reducing the crime rate.

These stances on moral freedom should also be reflected in the Pledge of Allegiance and the oath in court.

1. The Pledge of Allegiance

The phrase "under God" should be removed to reflect true religious freedom and to avoid the irony of "with liberty and justice for all" at the end. Here's what it should resemble [additions in regular print]:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

2. Oath in court

People who take an oath ending in "so help me God" but don't believe in God probably aren't as concerned as Christians about lying. Here's how it should go [additions in regular print]:
Do you solemnly swear, under penalty of perjury, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

I'm not surprised that the rest of the world hates us. Is the use of simple logic too much to ask from our government?

hot air vented by Alex | 2:26 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Fun with Politics

To take a break from all the ranting, I made a top ten list that, essentially, was another humorous rant. Look for me in the next Bonfire of the Vanities contest.

Top Ten Reasons to Vote Kerry/Edwards This Fall

hot air vented by Alex | 11:12 PM | 0 comments links to this post

A Ticket I Can Finally Vote For

Kerry Chooses Edwards

Kerry is shaky in his economic policy. While opposing certain appropriations, his support of overseas agreements could cause trouble with outsourcing on the rise. With Edwards, however, comes a plan to offer monetary incentives to keep businesses in the U.S., Clinton-esque charisma, and the energy needed to get Kerry's campaign off the ground. I am thrilled with this choice and would have had second thoughts had it been any other man.

Duly Noted: The press screwed up again.

hot air vented by Alex | 10:36 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Monday, July 05, 2004

More Good News from the Middle East

Kudos to Chrenkoff for finding more good news.

Good News from Iraq IV

Good News from Afghanistan

Even as a Democrat, I think the actions in Afghanistan were quite justified. My problem was when this spread to Iraq. Despite disagreements, you just can't say it was a completely bad idea.

This post has been rated "N" by the BPAA.

hot air vented by Alex | 11:44 AM | 0 comments links to this post

Independence Day

Independence Day Mind Benders

New email address (freedom from ads!)

Google's Independence Day Art

hot air vented by Alex | 11:11 AM | 0 comments links to this post