seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Will White People Ever be Secure Again?

Musings during the debate...

So the debate tonight starts with the tired subject of the "War on Terror." Will our children grow up in a world as safe as the one we did? Interesting question. The moderator looks old enough to have been alive when Nazis were trying to take over Europe. The candidates were certainly alive during the Cold War when people lived in constant fear of the red menace.

Now that was supposedly the safer time to live. I think it was a safe time to live. I think now is a safe time to live - especially if you are a white male. White females have to worry about being attacked when they head out on the streets. People of color have a bunch of additional worries as well.

Terrorism is one issue when it comes to being a safe time to live. Being able to support your family would be another. All in all, this is a pretty good time to live. The question is: can we make it better? Hell yeah. Will Kerry or Bush lead the way? Unlikely.

How can we get there? By getting involved in our communities. By starting to understand how things work now, and what can be done to make everything more responsive to the needs of the community.

Nixon, a conservative, created the EPA. Not because he was worried about the state of the environment but because people had spent years organizing and rallying to force the government to do something about pollution.

Bush is talking about increasing the availability of community colleges. It seems to me that they have gotten more expensive under his term. He talks about creating the jobs of the future, but the only plan he seems to have is cutting taxes for the richest 1%. Clinton created the jobs that Bush wishes he could have created. Not that I really support what Clinton did while in office on the whole, but he did it without giving the richest people extensive tax cuts.

Another Question: Is it fair to blame the President for the loss of jobs. Hell yes! Bush's mismanagement of the economy lost far more jobs than otherwise would have been lost by the economic downturn. Bush brags that there is finally positive job growth in recent months. Big deal - the world economy is flying along! The U.S. should have created far more jobs in recent months but it hasn't. The simple fact is that Bush has proved to be incompetent in every sphere of government activity.

Kerry will be only marginally better. He talks about how many more uninsured there are under Bush. Well, I see Kerry talking about a health care plan which covers more people, but not all. That is a problem in my mind. In this time of gross material abundance, people have to weigh whether they want to go to the doctor when they are ill or take a chance and ignore it.

Bush is talking about protecting marriage now from homosexuals. Forget that marriage is under attack by heterosexuals who get divorced at increasing rates. Interestingly, I did see a report that suggested women's suicide rates dropped as States' enacted no-fault divorce laws. If marriage is under attack, it is not from homosexuals. In truth, homosexuals remain under attack from conservatives who try to find ways of putting down homosexuals.

Why? I don't really understand it. Perhaps for some it is biblically inspired. As if God's plan is to create millions of homosexual "deviants" to be second class citizens. Absurd.

Kerry says "We are all God's children." Why doesn't he just say: "Vote for me, I'm not ashamed to invoke God's name!"

Bush thinks abstinence programs are a viable alternative to abortion. Please! This is a society in which people eat dinner in front of the TV which uses sex to sell everything from toothbrushes to beer. As if people are going to say, yes, I'll wait until I get married to have sex when they are surrounded by thousands of messages a day that say sex is fun, cool people have lots of sex. Especially if that person is a young person whose body has just started releasing hormones which themselves beg for release.

If you want to reduce abortion, you have to encourage sexual education. This also reduces sexually transmitted infections which is a double whammy.

Kerry says Bush doesn't understand Kerry's health care plan. Shocker. Kerry wants to cover all children. This is good. Wants to give people a choice. I would like to see a commission that looks at health care programs around the world and locally before describing why our system is so expensive and what changes can be made.

Bush says government led health care will lead to poor health care. This is 10 minutes after he was bragging that he just expanded the government run health care for seniors. Further he said U.S. health care is the envy of the world. Well, probably the envy of the developing world (minus Cuba). I seriously doubt anyone in Europe envies the bills which Americans are regularly saddled with.

I cannot get over how unintelligent Bush presents himself to be. Because Bush's campaign is run by focus group results, I have to assume this is intentional. Yet another reason I hope the sinking political system in the U.S. doesn't drag the world down with it.

This morning I heard a radio personality say the Cato Institute said it would have rather had Clinton remain in office rather than Bush because he had increased non-military government spending so much more than Clinton had. Clinton balanced the budget. Bush lost his veto pen and invited pork barrel spending to explode. And he is talking about Kerry not being fiscally responsible.

Sigh ... I'm gonna stop musing and just listen to the rest of the debate.

Condi Rice: America's Funniest Idjit

I had a chance to listen to Al Franken today as I worked on web design stuff (hooray for a day off from the bookstore). He ran a clip of Rice bragging that the U.S. had bagged 75% of the al-Quaeda leadership. This is a claim that many have used. The interviewer, showing more spine than most U.S. based media personalities ever exhibit asked 75% out of how many?

This is a great question. Rice was very flustered and said she couldn't say. He asked for a ballpark figure. Rice eventually said it could be in the range of tens to hundreds. So the question becomes: if we don't know how many leaders there are, then how do we know what percentage the U.S. has arrested?

Way to go Ms. Rice, proving once again that no one in the Bush Administration needs to actually know what they are doing. What exactly has Rice done correctly? Judging from her testimony in front of the 9-11 Commission, she seems to suffer from the same problems Bush does when it comes to admitting errors.

Meanwhile, in the land of the free...

Saudi Arabian women will be denied the vote in the upcoming first nationwide election in the Kingdom. As someone who doesn't believe electoral politics offer significant change, I do believe everyone should have a chance to vote. Denying someone the ability to vote is indicative of other forms of discrimination.

That being said, I have to question those who see elections in Saudi Arabia as a step forward for humanity. When I was studying in the Middle East, one of the first things I observed was that the dictatorships served as a bulwark against dangerous fanaticism. For instance, in many countries, people are so angry against Israel (due largely to government propaganda) they never would have voted in a peace candidate who promised to make peace with Israel.

In this, I am talking about Arabs living outside Palestine. From what I have seen, Palestinians do want to live in peace with Israel, but again, no candidate will ever win on a peace platform - this is one of the reasons I shy away from electoral politics.

At any rate, encouraging Democracy in a land where people are dominated by a regressive system of extreme clerics may not be the best idea. Rather, encouraging elections before other societal democratic reforms may not be the best idea. I would be shocked if they do not start electing people who will take a much harder line against American interests than those in power now.

Why do I care? I oppose U.S. empire. Well, I also oppose religious fundamentalism and this is not a matter of my enemies battling. This is a matter of the U.S. blundering into strengthening fundamentalism yet again. This is a major problem with empire - inevitably, even if somehow, the empire acts with the interests of the world in mind, at some point, it will be run by someone without the foresight to enact sensible policies which will hurt everyone. That's the power of empire. Not that the U.S. empire acts in anyone's interest but its own of course.

Bitzi and Buster in the House

So I'm chilling at my parent's place again tonight, house sitting the doggies. My sister is here too which is nice. Lots of Mario Kart - the best racing game ever created by humans.

Saw that the libertarian party might get a seat at the debate. This could prove very interesting - if I recall correctly, Ross Perot was polling quite poorly when he was allowed to debate in '92. Then he got big numbers. Could it happen to the libertarians? I sure hope so! Not that I think it will make a huge difference, but getting someone who actually thinks differently on the stage would be nice.

I don't know how much I'll be posting this week. I am going to be getting some overtime at my 40 hour a week job at the bookstore and I have a lot of web design work from my clients currently.

Last Samurai movie better than preview

Last night I watched the Last Samurai movie starring Maverick from Top Gun. Goose couldn't make it because he died in that freak F-14 accident. Too bad, Mav coulda used a good sidekick.

I really enjoyed the movie. This leads me to the conclusion that the preview was awful. When I saw the preview, my first thought was that I would never ever go see that movie. After hearing my co-workers rave about it, I figured I'd see it on DVD. Dang - pretty powerful stuff. Made me want to learn more about Eastern religion while also contemplating what could be done to improve modern warfare. By that I mean, making modern warfare more discriminate in killing only combatants - which is pretty much a theme of this movie.

Don't have much time, so I'll bail by posting this link to a site which offended me yesterday which I then commented upon - thank you blogs that allow comments!

Don't give a Hoot

In early September, my sister, Kim, won 2 gift certificates to Hooters at a charity golf tournament she participated in. So last night she and I visited the Hooters restaurant at the Mall of America in Bloomington.

Now I am a big fan of Playboy magazine. I have subscribed in the past and still enjoy reading it from time to time. I am well aware of the tired popular joke of "I read Playboy." Well I do. In this time of free internet porn, people who pay money for Playboy are not buying it solely for the nude photos - although Playboy's are certainly higher class than any other publication. Playboy's reputation for quality nudes means that it occupies a unique free speech zone. It really can say whatever it wants to without fear of upsetting advertisers - something very few other publications can claim.

Playboy has published things I have not seen anywhere else, not least of which is Shel Silverstein's funniest poem: Hamlet as told in the Streets.

I say this because no one can plausibly claim to go to Hooters for the food. Or, it turns out, for the sports bar aspect of it.

Kim and I left my apartment with the Twins tied with the Yanks in the eighth. Showing up at a Sportsbar, you would think that someone might know the score? Not until a manager chanced by. None of the waitresses knew. So I waited, watching the St Louis, Dodgers game on the TV tuned into a fox channel above me. Have I mentioned how much I hate Fox sports? It really is the lowest quality sports channel. They never showed scores from around the league. Not helpful.

At any rate, I had a Buffalo chicken burger which wasn't half as good as my sister's pork BBQ sandwich. The fries were actually seasoned really well and were quite tasty. Service was pretty good for being a busy Friday night, so overall, it was a positive experience, but I'm glad all we had to pay for was the tip.

Another Debate

We want another one, just like the udder one. There is a lot I could say about this - but the fact is that the American voter seems to have a simple mind. Bush is counting on this. On the issue of abortion, Bush announced that Kerry voted against the so-called partial birth abortion ban and parental notification. Kerry responded that he voted against the ban because it had no provision to save the the life of the mother. He said he opposed parental notification because a 16 year old girl who was raped by her father shouldn't have to deal with him when considering an abortion. Kerry essentially said these are complicated issues.

Bush stood and replied they are not complicated issues - either you are for it or against it. My first reaction was "Oh my God, Bush is so stupid he didn't even understand what Kerry said." My second reaction was "Oh my God, Bush understands exactly what Kerry said but he also understands that more Americans will respond to a with-us-or-against-us mindset." The man is not as dumb as he seems - or at least the puppeteers aren't.

Bush continues to distort Kerry's position on Iraq. He repeats tidbits from Kerry's statements out of context while offering no ideas of what he would actually do to improve the situation in Iraq. How can he? In order for him to start talking about improving the situation in Iraq, he would have to admit there is a problem there - which he absolutely won't do. He keeps claiming things are going great and the elections are on target. More like targetted.

I thought Kerry missed a huge opportunity when Bush couldn't name 3 things he did wrong during his term when asked by the audience member. He made some vague statement about some appointments. Kerry should have pointed out he totally avoided the question and cannot deal with his own failings.

Meanwhile, I'm curious about Kerry's commitment to cut the deficit in half in 4 years - or the debt, I'm not sure which d word it was - by repealing a few credits and tax breaks for the rich. I think it is unlikely. I would support a major undertaking to systematically evaluate what the government does and cut it in half. That would of course produce some unemployment though. The government continues to grow larger while offering fewer services.

I like the idea of repealing 2 laws for every new law they pass.

FBI raids UK?

I am the slightest bit peaved to see that the FBI has raided a site in London which hosted several indymedia web sites. The FBI has harassed Indymedia the past as it is an organization that has offered protester point of views and forums across the world during major events. The site pioneered "open publishing" wherein anyone can publish a story without review. Anyone can also comment on a story - which helps to block out false stories.

I realized that the UK had long ago ceded its foreign policy decisions to D.C. but this recent development of seizing hard drives located in London at the behest of the FBI without even notifying the owners seems extreme. Fortunately, most Indymedia servers are run by people dedicated to protecting the privacy of participants.

Check out the local twincities indymedia site.

I have posted new football photos of Macalester from early in September. I am now scanning in photos from a men's soccer game.

Where is the rest of the world anyway?

Quick thought: Just where is the rest of the world when it comes to this election? The election is basically for King of the American empire - which touches everyone. Well almost.

Perhaps it is just not being reported in the press I read, but when Bush makes assertions about being better than Kerry at making the world a safer place, I would like to see people around the world laughing and world leaders correcting him.

Are they afraid to take a stand in case Bush wins? Or do they not care? I have to believe that most Europeans are hoping for Kerry - someone who doesn't totally personify the American Cowboy in his swagger.

When someone has alienated as many people around this world as Bush, it would be nice to see a karmic balance. Perhaps it is there and I am missing it.

5 Hours of Music later...

I just got back from the Move On Vote for Change concert at the Xcel Center in St Paul. My parents took me for my birthday and Adam came along on a stray ticket. My first time at that venue. Nice place. Saw Bright Eyes, REM, and Springsteen with Fogarty and the E Street Band. Incredible show.

Bright Eyes led off nicely. REM kicked it up several notches. To be honest, in my opinion, they were the highlight of the evening in terms of sound. They sounded great, their front man worked the crowd brilliantly and the sound was great. They also brought out Neil Young as a surprise who rocked out on guitar. Did I mention I really liked their sound?

Then came the Boss with the E Street Band. The man is incredible and I really like their band. However, the Xcel Center sound system was not kind to them at all. As a Supreme Court Justice might opine, "I don't know music, but I know what I like." Quite honestly, I thought the sound system butchered Bruce.

Adam's response to this criticism was basically, "yeah, but it didn't detract from him at all." I somewhat agree because Bruce brings an energy to his performances that is difficult to explain if you haven't seen it. Fogarty came out, announced the Twins beat the Yanks and launched into his song Centerfield on his baseball bat shaped guitar. Nice touch!

The Twins victory news brought a rousing cheer - I wondered at the time if the cheer would have been different if he announced the debate was pre-empted by John Edwards leading an exorcism of Cheney on national TV.

At any rate, Bruce was amazing but really left me wondering how much better it could be under a better sound system, or perhaps just one better managed. The distortion really bothered me during the pitched guitar battles between him and Young.

Seeing the Xcel Center packed (not capacity, but not too far off) by all these people sharing a common political goal freaks me out a little bit. I'm somewhat freaked out of large political crowds ... I don't like organized chants (not that there were any tonight) or huge parades or things like that. I don't really know why - it is somewhat of a gut instinct. I wonder sometimes if it is formed because when large groups of people gather for change, anarchists seem to get framed for murder?

At any rate, I made a couple of observations. The first was that annoying people who have to stand and sway during concerts vote Democrat. Seriously people ... there are General Admission tickets for those who want to stand. Get close to the stage and wave your arms around to your heart's content. If you are in a seat area though, when you stand up, you block the view of those behind you. Annoying.

The other observation is that I think that if it takes events like this to sway the vote to Kerry, this country is in serious trouble. Duh. This country is in serious trouble regardless in my humble opinion. What I should say is that I don't really see how events like this actually have anything to do with democracy.

The bands have very political lyrics, yes. But you really can't understand most of them during concerts so that isn't it. Perhaps the main advantage of events like this is to remind people to register and on what day to line up for pick-the-new-King-day. I don't really think that is it though.

As far as I can tell, the purpose of this event was two-fold. 1) Raise money for MoveOn.org. Great. Now we'll have more commercials on TV. That's great for democracy. 2) Confer the popularity of the bands to candidate Kerry. Another sign of democracy: "I vote how the Boss votes."

They did pass out a pamphlet on why should vote for change which includes a number of facts. Most are true. Well, the main one that smacks of falsehood is the oft-repeated claim of $200 billion for Iraq. I think if you are going to use that number, you should have to explain exactly where it comes from, because from what I understand it is a reach (look for the story on factcheck.org.

The concert was great - especially REM which I think I'll have to see again. I would love to see the Boss again, if I can afford him next time he is around and not in the Xcel Center. Prospects for democracy remain pitiful even after the show though.

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