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Mike's Soapbox - Best 2004 Rants

1/1 - Philosophy:  God gets lazy - So, I've read the umpteenth on-line editorial about the evil of Islam.

Apparently, according to people like Pat Robertson, it's all in the Koran.

So, I picked up the Koran and read it. Yes, there are passages in there calling for the death of infidels and non-believers.

BUT - and this is a big but (hence the capitalization) - there are also passages in there that say the un-believers are not the concern of believers (Muslims) but rather the concern of Allah only.

Hmmmm. Could this be a contradiction in the Koran?

Well, yes. The Koran says that death will befall the non-believers, but also that non-believers are Allah's to pass judgment on.

A double standard in the Koran? Well, clearly a contradiction in the word of God.

But wait - in the Bible (also regarded as the infallible word of God), it says "Thou shalt not kill," yet most of the Old Testament is full of "the Israelites smite thy enemies"...

So, I started looking at the Bible again.

Genesis starts out easily enough, God creates the world, and when people start getting out of line, God visits destruction upon them in the form of divine retribution - the Tower of Babel, the great flood, Sodom and Gomorrah... It seems whenever people get out of line, God kicks ass.

Even when the Pharaoh enslaves the Israelites, God uses his divine ass-kicking powers to free the Israelites and punish the Egyptians.

But then, something happens. God apparently gets lazy, and decides rather than kicking ass himself, he instructs the Israelites to start kicking ass for him.

As the Israelites make their way into Canaan, God instructs them not only to kick ass, but to commit outright genocide against the inhabitants - the Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Yes, the same God who commanded "Thou shalt not kill" now instructs them to not only attack these people, but to kill all men, women, and children.

Ah, but Jesus would never make such a statement. But, in addition to the "Turn the other cheek" quote, there is this statement: "Don't imagine that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword!" (Matthew 10:34)

The Bible, the Koran - I believe all are certainly fallible, as all are written by men. Yes, maybe the word of God is infallible, but certainly, the word of God as written by man can be fallible. And unless you are lucky enough to dig up gold plates written by God; oh, wait, those were written by some angel... So, unless you have a book written and published and printed by God, chances are you have something that has the influence of man. And thus, imperfect.

I believe in listening to what your heart tells you. If a god asked me to kill someone in his/her name, I'd have to think long and hard about whether that was really the right thing to do.

Personally, I think more would be accomplished in this world if people stopped fighting and started listening. Can non-violence work? Well, it worked for Jesus, Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. It worked for Martin Luther King and Lech Walesa. Not everything has to be decided by war.

Besides, if God wants some ass kicked, I'll be the first to tell him/her to go do it him/herself...

Philosophy:  The infallible word of God? - Many religions believe their religious text (Bible, Koran, Book of Mormon) is infallible. That is, that it contains the complete, inerrant word of God, and that everything it says, despite illogical inconsistencies and outright contradictions, is 100% completely and factually true.

As these works are considered to be provided to a prophet via an angel (Koran and Book of Mormon) or to be inspired via the Holy Spirit (most of the Bible) or to contain the actual quotes from Jesus/God himself (the Gospel), many fundamentalists believe that they are completely and factually true.

But, that being said, the simple fact is that these were written by man himself, in all his imperfections. That is, while the thoughts and words may have been given by a being/beings of higher intelligence/consciousness, it was a man - an imperfect being - who actually put these thoughts and words to paper, and thus, could introduce errors into the word of God.

For example, I have told someone something, and they wrote it down. But, what they wrote down was not what I was saying. I have gotten e-mails that said, "Mike said this at the meeting;" in reality, I said something completely, 180-degrees opposite what they had written down. And have you ever played the telephone game with someone, where you whisper something in one's ear, and then they tell someone, and so on? The ending message rarely ever resembles the original message. And try that with 2,000 pages of religious message.

Let's consider the best case, that the evangelists (the authors of the Gospel), Mohammed, and Joseph Smith were stenographers. That everything that was dictated to them was transcribed, without error, onto pages. Things like sarcasm, emotion, and inflection are all difficult to translate into print. As an example, look at all of the inadvertent flame wars that erupt on the Internet as a result of one person misinterpreting what someone else wrote. Someone compliments another by saying "You rock" and another person is insulted, thinking he is being compared to a piece of granite.

In another question about the infallibility, many of these current interpretations of God's word come from previous interpretations of the documents in other languages, of which they are often considered archaic, and thus, scholars differ on how they should be translated.

And throwing even more into the mix, how do books, such as the Gospel of Thomas, come into the mix? Are they the word of God or not? Who decides?

As for whether or not the thoughts behind the religious texts are those of God, I don't know. But I believe that since in all cases man is in the loop at some point, that opens the possibility - be it ever so slight, if you want to believe - for errors.

1/12 - Politics:  2004 Election: Why Bush Must Go - I am a moderate independent. As you can tell from my rants, I do not like President Bush. People assume it is because I am a liberal Democrat; it is much different than that. In fact, prior to my split from the party in 1994, I was a Republican (Thanks, Newt!), and I still have Republican leanings in that I believe that the power belongs to the states and we need a smaller Federal government.

When President Bush was running for President, he once remarked "There ought to be limits to freedom." And what has President Bush done since he has become President? Well, we saw the passage of the Patriot Act, the institution of military tribunals, and Americans being held against their Constitutional rights by being declared "enemy combatants" by no less than the Executive Branch itself. Think about it: dictators around the world have always held people without trial, without being charged with a crime, and without seeing the evidence against them; now, our President is doing the same thing. Funny, I believe that was the reason the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights explicitly made those part of the Constitution.

But there are other things President Bush has done. We fought an unnecessary war with Iraq in which, at best, he overstated the threat and, at worst, outright lied to the people. Don't get me wrong; Saddam is a scumbag, and I am glad he is no longer in power. I will also be glad when Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il, and the rest of the dictators who abuse their own people are no longer in power. But does the fact that we do not like them give us reason or authority to go in and remove them from power? Should we spill American blood for the rest of the world? I seem to remember a Presidential candidate who once said "I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be." (It was then-Governor Bush in 2000.) I also look forward to the day when free elections and true democracy come to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the rest of our "friends" who promote freedom and practice democracy as much as Saddam did.

We also have tax cuts and deficit spending which, unluckily, Alex and his generation will inherit, along with the sky rising burden of social security.

Corporate criminals have run rampant since President Bush took office, and one of his supporters - ex-Enron chief Kenny-boy Lay - has yet to see the inside of a courtroom. And don't even get me started on the Halliburton no-bid contract worth billions of dollars in rebuilding Iraq...

The Federal government is the largest it has ever been in history, despite a campaign promise of smaller government.

Three years after September 11th, we live in a country where our only defense against terrorism seems to be an indecipherable color code, duct tape, and long lines at the airport.

We have a military that was stretched thin by the nation-building efforts of the Clinton Administration in Bosnia and Kosovo that has been stretched even thinner by additional nation-building efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We have an attorney general who was more worried about covering up naked statues than stopping terrorism, and whose approach to crime fighting is a policy of arrest first and leave them locked up so they can't even think about committing any crime. And try them later? What do you mean "later"? How about never at all...

We have a scandal - someone in the Bush administration leaked national security secrets in retaliation for politics - and yet the administration - and the Republican party, for that matter - seem to regard this as less important than the Whitewater, Travelgate, and Lewinsky investigations in the Clinton White House. Yeah, that was just shady economics and sex; this was possible acts of treason committed by our leaders for personal political gain.

In his defense, George W. Bush has done a few good things. He took a Clintonesque, fence-sitting, non-committal approach to fetal tissue research. He supports more space exploration, although he hasn't identified a way to pay for it. He had the good sense NOT to put social security into the stock market (although he continues to support the idea). He did remove Saddam from power, although we still have no idea where Osama bin Laden - who attacked this country and killed more Americans than Saddam ever did - is.

For these reasons - and NOT party politics - George W. Bush must not be re-elected in 2004.

2/3 - Politics:  Weapons of Mass Distraction? - So, we invaded Iraq to stop weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists and outlawed regimes.


But meanwhile it was revealed that a Pakistani scientist was SELLING nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. Yeah, the same ones as in the "Axis of Evil".

But, wait, I thought Pakistan was our ally in the war on terror!

Who knew that the likely proliferation of WMDs would come from our ally instead of from has-been dictator who has been contained in his sandbox for a decade.

Oh, well. It's not like our intelligence service can be right all the time. Or, any of the time, it seems...

Politics:  President Bush appoints his own investigators - So, almost a year after President Bush said that intelligence left "no doubt" that Saddam possessed WMD, now he finally admits - sort of - that the intelligence is wrong.

He has agreed to his critics' requests that he have an investigation look into the whole WMD/intelligence screw-up and find out how they could be so wrong.

But, President Bush has said that HE will appoint the investigative commission.

You have to love that.

I know he hasn't announced it yet, but I am suspecting the committee will be made up of:

Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, Tom Ridge, John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld...

Seeing as how the Bush Administration has bound the hands of the September 11th investigation panel and failed in their own investigation of a leak of intelligence operatives' identities, tell me again why I should have faith in President Bush or his hand-picked panel of "experts" when it comes to uncovering the TRUTH?

Politics:  More on Bush's own investigators - Well, the allegations are that maybe it wasn't the faulty intelligence, but rather the pressure from the Administration to make a case where none really existed that caused the "intelligence failure."

Will a handpicked team of investigators by Bush himself reveal that the Administration put too much pressure on intelligence analysts? Likely not. I mean, the fact that he is APPOINTING HIS OWN INVESTIGATORS is showing that he wields TOO much power.

The issue is that the President invaded Iraq because he really wanted to. He concocted this "Iraqi WMDs present an imminent threat" to sell it to the American public, playing on their fears of September 11th.

Was he planning to attack Iraq immediately after taking office? Go look up what happened in Baghdad on February 16, 2001.

Was there faulty intelligence on the WMD issue? Look at the very weak argument and shoddy evidence presented during Colin Powell's address to the Security Council.

And never mind that President Bush did not come out with his "Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11" pronouncement until AFTER we had invaded Iraq.

Did the Administration pressure intelligence analysts? Well, we know of one case where an administration official leaked the name of an intelligence operative because of a political disagreement. DAMN RIGHT they are clearly capable of pressuring intelligence analysts; they did it AT LEAST once, which is one time too many.

And the thing that really, REALLY gets me, is that the top news story is STILL the outrage over Janet Jackson's boob. If you ask me, I bet Karl Rove was behind that one as well; no one seems to care about the "intelligence lapses" or the leak.

Where's the outrage over the President possibly lying, or at least putting undo pressure on his own intelligence services? Where's the outrage over a SECOND intelligence lapse that has resulted in more dead Americans?

And I hate the comparisons between Clinton and Bush, but you know that if Clinton had done any of this stuff, he'd have a dozen Ken Starrs on his ass right now. Bush has ZERO independent investigators looking into his actions.

I just don't get it...

2/26 - Politics:  2004 Election: Ten Things Bush Must Do to Get Re-elected - I was talking to someone the other day who was discussing my list of reasons why Bush must go, and the questions asked were: 1) do I think these things are so bad that Bush must go, and 2) do I think that Kerry will do a better job?

The answers: 1) yes and 2) no, but he can't do worse.

But, in all fairness, as a moderate independent, I have compiled a list of ten things Bush must do to earn my vote. Bear in mind that I don't like the things he has done as president, but as I learned as supervisor, critique the behavior you don't like in order to bring about a change.

So here are my list of things that Bush must do to get re-elected:

1. Dump Ashcroft - That's right; Bush must dump John Ashcroft. President Bush often (in fact, TOO often) uses the term "compassion" in describing many of his issues. And for me, there is no bigger antithesis of "compassion" than John Ashcroft. He locked an American in violation of his Constitutional rights; after September 11th, he detained hundreds of Muslims until they could prove their innocence; he kept butting in to a Federal terrorism case despite a gag order and almost caused a mistrial; he is charged with impeding Federal investigations; and most recently, he has sued to make public the private medical records of women who had abortions. Yes, he is very compassionate...

2. Come clean on Iraq. - Iraq had WMDs. Then, it was to liberate the people. Then, a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Now, I don't know what the excuse is. But here's the thing: we went into Iraq to get rid of Saddam, because he was an asshole and he couldn't be trusted. But, why is it so hard for the President to simply say that? Why does he keep trying to justify this war with all these things that we know are not true? Come clean, say, "Yeah, well, there were no WMDs, no link with Al Qaeda, and we don't give a rat's ass about the Iraqi people; I wanted Saddam gone, we did it, and let's move on." All this other justification crap just makes me distrust him and lose what little faith I have in him.

3. Address outsourcing. - It's the hottest issue, but the one that is so hot, no one wants to address it. High-tech jobs are going to India and Ireland. Call Microsoft or Dell tech support; ask the person who answers how the weather is, and you'll learn the awful truth: they are in India. Yep, an average American engineer makes $90,000 a year; the same engineer in India? $12,000. And yes, there is little the President can do about it. But, he can publicize it and criticize it, just like he is doing with gay marriage. I don't give a crap about gay marriage, but I do care about whether or not Rajiv is going to take my job in the next four years...

4. Get vigorous with greedy CEOs. - Kenny-boy Lay was one of President Bush's biggest supporters in the 2000 election, and then a year later, he retires with millions immediately before accounting scandals cause Enron to go bankrupt and the rest of the workers at Enron lose everything. But he has yet to see the inside of a courtroom. Many other CEOs have also bilked their workers of millions, and they too are still free to bilk others. If President Bush wants to help the economy and boost consumer confidence, he'll get the Justice Department to back off covering naked statues for a while and start getting tough with greedy CEOs. Then, and only then, the average American will feel safe knowing that their company's retirement fund is safe, even though their social security probably isn't...

5. Are we winning or losing the war on terror? - After Afghanistan and when he stood on the deck of the aircraft carrier after Iraq, President Bush declared we were winning the war on terrorism. Then, last Christmas, this country was under "orange" alert because Al Qaeda might be mounting another attack. Just this week, the CIA chief was again saying that Al Qaeda was capable of carrying out September 11th style attacks. Which leads me to question - are we really winning the war on terror? The president says one thing, but the actions of the rest of his administration say another entirely...

6. Halliburton - That's right, Halliburton. When I was in military acquisitions, we were told to avoid - at all costs - even the appearance of impropriety. In fact, we were told that even if we did nothing wrong, we could still be disciplined if it LOOKED like we did something wrong. That said, the actions of Halliburton look wrong. The President's connections with the company make it look very fishy; but, if Bill Clinton's dealings with Whitewater warranted a Federal investigation, surely Halliburton's recent actions warrant one. I mean they get a cushy no-bid, sole-source contract worth billions AND they screw the government with it on the price of gas? And Cheney used to be the CEO of that company? Again, I can't completely trust the President until I know for sure exactly what his or his cabinet's involvement with this shady contract is...

7. Find the leak - fast! - Someone in the President's staff leaked the name of a CIA operative in retaliation for criticism of the war in Iraq. If that isn't an abuse of power worthy of an independent investigation, I don't know what is. Again, I can't trust this President until the person responsible is found and dealt with.

8. Focus - The economy and job losses have an immediate and widespread impact on me and my family. And the President is responding to... gay marriage? Between the crappy economy and the on-going war on terrorism, who gives a crap about gay marriage? Focus on the CRITICAL issues, Mr. Bush; quit trying to deflect attention to things that don't matter to the majority of Americans.

9. Cooperate with the commissions. - I really don't believe that President Bush had prior knowledge of the September 11th attacks. But why does he keep blocking attempts to conduct an investigation into those attacks? He blocked the investigation for months, refused to cooperate and hand over information, and then reluctantly did so under very strict terms. And now, the investigation into the intelligence failures with regards to Iraq is a team appointed by him who don't have to report their findings until AFTER the election. To be fair, how can I vote for the candidate that I feel best has a solution to an apparent intelligence failure unless we know what exactly the issue is with that failure? That is, we can't vote on a solution until we know for sure what the exact problem is!

10. The future? - John Edwards keeps talking of a hopeful future, while the President keeps reminding us of the dangers of terrorism. Yes, occasionally he talks of Mars or the Moon, but what about the real, positive future for this country? Yes, I know how the President handled two situations which, God willing, we'll never have to deal with again, but what does the President plan to do about increasing the number of jobs, improving health care, and fixing social security? Does he really think that "tax cuts", "Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage", and "compassion" will fix those problems? Because in all the President's recent speeches, it seems those are all his solutions to this nation's problems.

Yes, the chances are slim that I would vote for the President, but the election is still 8 months away and I try to keep an open mind. Who knows, maybe the President or one of his advisors might read this, do it, and surprise me.

Mr. Bush: I'll be watching this year. It's your time to win back my trust and convince me why I should put my faith in your leadership. The ball's in your court.

3/4 - Politics:  The Caucus: Democracy in action? - So, as an independent against Bush, I decided that I would support my favorite candidate John Edwards by going to the Democratic caucus here in Minnesota yesterday and supporting him. The only requirement was that I support the eventual candidate that the Democrats nominate; well, that's pretty much a given.

I have never been to a caucus before, and I have never really done anything with the Democratic party. Before I became disillusioned with them, I was a member of the Republican party. And then when Newt started his crap up in 1994, I decided it was time to be independent.

And as I arrived last night at the caucus place, I felt good. This is how I always envisioned true democracy: a group of citizens gathering together in their community to voice their opinions and voice their issues for the future. And then I thought: would I perhaps want to leave my independent status and become a Democrat?

The first thing I noticed when I signed it at 7 PM was that for our precinct, the usual turnout is around 11; last night we had 62 people. It was standing room only. And we were all there to show our support for a change in leadership in Washington. I thought, "Wow! Look at all these people here to display their support for ousting the President."

The caucus works like this: everyone arrives at 7, nominates officers for the evening, resolutions for planks of the Democratic platform are taken from the attendees, and then the Presidential vote is cast at 8 PM. Delegates are picked, and the caucus is concluded.

So, they started picking officers for the evening to officiate the caucus. No one volunteered. I considered it, but as an independent, I really thought that I shouldn't be involved in something so official. Eventually, we got our officers and we were off and running.

I looked around the room, and I noticed something unusual: everyone was either very young (18-21) or very old (50+); I was definitely in the minority here.

Then, the call for resolutions came. A woman stood up and announced she had 4 resolutions, another guy said he had 3, and another guy said he had 5. The woman said only one could go at a time, so the first woman began. Her resolution called for lowering the costs of families of children with disabilities. Perhaps she would have been more effective had she not had her hyperactive child constantly interrupting her. And news to me was that hyperactivity is now classified as a disability. But, she read her LONG resolution ("Whereas this, blah blah blah, the party should lower parents' costs.). Debate ensued for about 10 minutes, with everyone in violent agreement with one another. Everyone was supposed to speak for and against the issue and then a vote would be taken. Everyone kept speaking for, for, and for, and then the vote was made. It was unanimous. Why didn't I vote against it? As the guy seated by me said, if you spoke out against it, it was equivalent to saying "I am against children" and likely to result in your lynching.

Then, the next resolution comes up. A guy asks for the issue of doctor-assisted suicide to be part of the Democratic party platform. I agreed. And his resolution was short, sweet, and to the point. However, people started wanting to rewrite it. And the way they were rewriting it, you'd think they were the freaking state legislature. Perhaps I should explain the process for how these resolutions work.

After a resolution is adopted by the precinct, it goes to the resolution committee. This committee rewrites the resolution; clean up the language, make it all legal. Then, the 20 delegates from the precinct go to the district committee and incorporates all of the resolutions from all 2 dozen precincts or so. Then, they go through another rewrite (as part of the merge with other precincts), and are presented at the state gathering. The issues for the state level stop here and can be adopted by the Democratic candidates. Federal issues go through another merge and another rewrite and finally they are presented at the Democratic National Convention for adoption in the Democratic platform. So, the chances of a resolution surviving in the form in which someone presents it in the precinct caucus are less than having a snowball fight in Death Valley in June...

So, back to the doctor-assisted suicide resolution. Debate ensues; no one likes the language, but instead of killing it, everyone agrees to table it, which kills it. The next one is an issue about telling the Federal government to stop telling the states how to run their schools; a central part of the Republican platform during the 90s, I was shocked to see it now had the backing of the Democratic party. It passed, but only after another half-hour debate of speakers in violent agreement with one another as being "for" this law. It passed unanimously.

Then, came the turning point. A woman introduced a resolution to repeal the "Minnesota Conceal Carry" Handgun Law. As evidence, she quoted a study that found that ex-felons had been permitted to obtain firearms. I am all for firearm possession within the scope of the law, and if what she said was true, perhaps there would be a need for a change to the law to make the law more effective. I was going to speak for a rewording of the resolution to call for a change to the law, when someone mentioned getting rid of handguns. Then, another person said why not just get rid of all weapons. Then, suddenly, it seems that we are going to get rid of all weapons all together.

We cast our votes for President and then the resolutions continue. I am selected as an impartial witness to the votes. As I observe the counting of the simple paper ballots upon which everyone wrote the name of their candidate, I make a joke that "at least there won't be any hanging chads." No laughs; in fact, scowls met me from the rest of the vote counters in the room. Guess I touched a nerve with that one; seriously, I thought it was funny. For the 42 voters in our part of the precinct, Kerry gets 17, Edwards 14, Kucinich 9, and uncommitted 2. As I expected, Kerry won.

Back to the precinct room, and now the resolutions have gone nuts. The freaks have started speaking. Someone has entered a resolution to severely cut defense spending and instead use that to better families. Well, I understand where they are coming from, but the reality is that if you cut money from the defense budget, the generals are still going to get their new weapons systems - it will be the troops and their families who will likely suffer. And we are at war; we can cut some weapons systems, but not enough to really make a difference anywhere else; the bulk of the budget is maintaining the force, I was going to speak up, but unlike past resolutions, this one bypassed the speaking for and against and went straight to the vote. I registered the only "Nay" vote, which again presented me with the scowls of my neighbors.

Next resolution: ban all nuclear weapons. In an ideal world, this would be a good thing; however, we don't live in that happy world. It will never happen. Another straight to vote, another nearly unanimous vote, another single "Nay" from me. More scowls.

The next resolution: a call to ask the Minnesota Democratic party to work to get health care coverage for all Minnesotans. Sounds good; the group goes to work hacking up the language. The final resolution? "Socialist health care." I've had socialist health care in the military and the VA; again, it sounds good in theory, sucks in reality. Motion passes; I'm the lone "Nay" vote.

At this point, I realize why I am not a Democrat. Everyone is polarized. Do they really think we can get rid of the military? WTF? But, as I reminded myself, somewhere across town the Republican caucus was meeting and drafting their resolutions, all of which were probably the exact opposite of all of these resolutions...

So, I left. Oh, I still plan on backing Kerry this November, but as I said, it's a long 8 months, and who knows - Bush or Nader or someone else might surprise me in the meantime. For now, my belief is "I don't know who is right for the job, but I know who is wrong for the job."

Why is everything in this country so black and white? Can't anyone work for 'gray'? That is, push to get a tax cut of a reasonable percentage while trimming unnecessary programs to balance the budget? Can't anyone address the issue of school gun violence without calling for a ban on firearms AND without blaming it on the Internet? Can't anyone support a foreign policy built on strengthening international coalitions and NOT pre-emptive strikes based on faulty intelligence?

Well, I returned home from my two hours spent in the caucus, and found out that John Edwards lost. Two hours spent, and I felt like I accomplished nothing.

So, what began with high hopes of a return to the grassroots of democracy left me as disillusioned with politics as usual.

But I haven't abandoned all hope; I think that fact that the turnout was more than SIX TIMES more than normal for a vote that had already been decided in public opinion shows that people are displeased with the Administration. And I think the bulk of Americans are like me: sick of polarizing, partisan politics.

In conclusion, I think the best way I can sum up my evening at the caucus is this: like so many of the resolutions introduced that night, the caucus is one of those things that sounds very good in theory, but downright sucks in reality.

And in the end, I continue to remain a moderate independent.

3/10 - Politics:  Flip Flop - President Bush has been criticizing John Kerry's flip flops in the Senate. And, as you may have seen in my rants, I too have issues with John Kerry's apparent flip-flopping on the Patriot Act and the Iraq War.

But, the GOP has even gone so far as to make a game out of it!

Fun, fun, fun! I love games!

Here let me try:

Flip: President Bush said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was an imminent threat to the United States. "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." (March 2003)
Flop: President Bush said Saddam was a madman and we needed to liberate the Iraqi people, regardless of whether or not he had weapons of mass destruction. "Saddam was a danger and the world is better off cause we got rid of him. ... If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger." (December 2003)

Flip: The UN weapons inspectors were moving too slow. (January 2003)
Flop: "It's going to take time to find them [WMDs]." (April 2003)

Flip: President Bush says that Saddam had ties to Al Qaeda. "The use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001." (March 21, 2003)
Flop: "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in [the] September the 11th [attacks]." (Sept 17, 2003)

Flip: Candidate Bush: "We must reduce the reach and scope of the federal government, returning it to its proper, limited role, and push freedom and responsibility back to local governments, to neighborhoods, and to individuals...." (2000)
Flop: The Federal government has undergone the largest growth since the LBJ administration.

Flip: The president's economics staff, the Council of Economic Advisers, projected that the tax cut plan would result in the creation of 5.5 million jobs by the end of 200406,000 new jobs each month, starting in July 2003.
Flop: Only 294,000 jobs were created in the first seven months after tax cuts took effect for a cumulative shortfall of 2,154,000 jobs. (Source: Economic Policy Institute)

Flip: President Bush was going to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." (2000)
Flop: President Bush has a member of his administration who leaked the name of a CIA operative to the press as political revenge; the leak has not been caught, yet the investigation is crawling at a snail's pace. And there is the questionable Halliburton contract.

Flip: President Bush maintains he had no prior knowledge of the September 11th attacks.
Flop: President Bush is reluctant to meet and cooperate with the commission investigating the September 11th attacks; he tried to do everything he could to stop the investigation.

Flip: "I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be." (2000)
Flop: President Bush created the doctrine of acting preemptively; that is, telling the world it's got to be this way or we will invade you. (2003)

Wow! That was fun!

But, here's the deal for the GOP and President Bush: People who live in glass houses... Well, you know the rest...

4/10 - General:  The Best Web Searches of 2004 - Here are the best search phrases that people have used to visit this site in 2004:

best vagina winners - What rates "best vagina"? Appearance? Size? Color? I am intrigued.

how to build cool stealth paper airplanes - Well, since paper is invisible to radar, ANY paper airplane is a stealth paper airplane...

i cannot find anything on this site cause i am soooooo board - Yeah, and you can't spell either...

i don't speak french montreal - Yeah, well then you are pretty much screwed.

in 1999 a movie titled pi was released are't we all
! - Huh?

jennifer dempster exercising nude - Unfortunately, I don't have that at my site. But if you find it, please pass it along back to me!

jim caviezel minnesota vikings fan - Jesus is a Vikings fan? Looks like we might be Super Bowl bound this year!

kelly osbourne nude - YOU SICK BASTARD! GET HELP - NOW!

make me puke pictures - Careful what you wish for. Oh, and you might want to hook up with the guy who searched for the above item...

mardi gras pants down - Hey, who DOESN'T have their pants down at Mardi Gras?

pictures of ugly stupid fat gross dogs named shadow - Sorry, I just have links to ones named "Kelly Osbourne"...

your honda is stupid
- Have you seen this one?

dildos of mass destruction - You might have better luck with putting "President George W. Bush" into the search engine...

dwayne claus - Perhaps this is why Dwayne is always humming Christmas carols?

bubb rubb is jesus - "Blessed is the woo-woo..."

One of the fun things about having a Nigerian spam scam contest is the interesting names people search for (by the way, as a public service announcement, the spammers make these names up; don't believe them):

dr.earnest ebi
artina abraham
dr. bernard jensen scam
dr. james moore nigeria
dr. zias
gen.maxwell kobe
okosisi okosisi
mr. john mike
prince didon
saadia akhtar
names and pictures of directors in union bank plc enugu nigeria

From the category of "You might have better luck if you took a remedial spelling class" or the "Buy a vowel" category:

voice massege update procedure
back massege kit
steps of writting documentations
transvestit better photo
world bussiness of consigment
dradle game

Filed under the "Huh?" category:

miniclip boob boob password play topless
scam are like brothers
animatrix film clips kid's story kid's story kids story download
non league football kelly osbourne

And filed under the category of "I don't want to know":

sex food pot noodle masturbation
farting streaker
lads nude on ebay
goering raccoons
free contact only nigerians girls email addresses from boobs in
puppet porn
boomhauer porn sounds
fun ass
urinating in public

4/29 - Politics:  Presenting... The Grey Party - I have decided I want to start my own political party.

And I have decided to call it the Grey Party. Why? Because of my slogan: "Because not all issues are black and white."

My Greek friends tell me that both the left and the right have moved so centrist in their country that both parties are virtually indistinguishable. Both parties are pro-EU, pro-US, and therefore, there really is no difference between the parties when it comes to voting.

But, in this country, the parties have split down the center, and people love anything their party does and hate anything the other party does. Example? Bush has done just about everything that Clinton did (short of getting a BJ from an intern), and yet somehow since it was Bush who did it, it makes it all right.

So, I have decided to make a party for moderates who want change. It will be fiscally conservative and socially liberal with an eye on maintaining our liberties. Similar to the libertarian party, only it would advocate responsible government rather than the elimination of government.

One primary plank of the party is fiscal responsibility achieved through a flat tax, balanced budget, and a cut of pork barrel spending. The Grey Party would tax everyone the same regardless of income; you make money, you pay a share. The Grey Party would balance the budget; if the government needs more money, it raises taxes. Finally, the Grey Party would remind people that if they lower taxes, that means that they have to sacrifice the government spending $40 million in their district on bovine emission (aka cow fart) studies; the government is NOT in the business of creating and keeping jobs in key Congressional districts.

Another major plank of my party would be the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. The Tenth Amendment says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." Therefore, gay marriage, education standards, health care, right to die laws - those all belong to the states.

It would be nice if I could actually start a party of moderates. I only advocate John Kerry because he is NOT George W. Bush, but it would be absolutely great to have a third option... And no, Nader doesn't count...

What does everyone think?

4/30 - Politics:  More on the Grey Party - Why the need for a third party?

Right now, both parties can sit there and lob bombs at each other and blame the other for all the problems. And both only see things in black and white - until they actually have to talk about the issues.

Both sides are non-committal when it comes to issues. Like outsourcing: "Uh, it's good for business and bad for the worker. If elected, I will appoint a committee to look into the issues raised with regard to outsourcing. It's both simultaneously good and bad, and therefore I will do nothing so I can hope to be re-elected in 4 years and so I don't want to piss off CEOs or labor unions."

It's how Jesse Ventura got elected. The candidates kept dancing around the issues, afraid to take a stand that might alienate an entire demographic (stereotyping - like everyone in a certain group will vote for a certain candidate because of a certain issue?). Jesse came in and was like, "Yes, yes, no, no, bad, ban it, permit it, yes." Gave straight and simple answers.

Thing is that Bush wants to be portrayed the same way, but he comes off like a used car salesman.

"This thing got air conditioning?"
W: "Yeah."
"Where? I don't see it in the dash."
W: "Well, it's got a special air conditioning. It's 4/55."
W: "Yeah, it's a Texas thing. You roll down the 4 windows at 55 mph! Yuk, yuk, yuk..."
"But that's not air conditioning!"
W: "But it's just like air conditioning."
"But you said it had air conditioning!"
W: "No, I said 'special air conditioning.' Look, that's what the guys at the factory told me; you'll have to take it up with them. They said it has special air conditioning."
"But as I look at this invoice, it says in big letters 'NO AIR CONDITIONING' right at the top!"
W: "Oh, that; that's just historical data. Listen, just buy the car. You'll like it."
"But I want air conditioning!"
W: "Air conditioning is just something the activist liberals want you to think you need. They just want to use that to push for ratification of the Kyoto Accords against global warming. That's how it starts; they want you to cool your car THEN they'll want you to cool the planet. Take a stand, oppose air conditioning. If you buy a car with air conditioning, you're just supporting the liberal causes; next thing you know, gays will be "
"Does this car have a CD player?"
W: "Look at these tires!"
"Does it have a CD player?"
W: "What it does have are these cool bucket seats! CD player is bad; bucket seats good. By the way, tell all your friends to buy cars from me. I'm the straight talkin' compassionate conservative!"

And that's what I don't like about him. He has this likeability because you think, "He doesn't use big words, he just says what he thinks. He's like me." Only problem is that he rarely actually does what he says.

"No matter what, we're calling for the vote." Then, days later, "Well, France showed their cards. Therefore, I'm not calling for the vote." But... you just said...

"The British say Saddam is trying to buy uranium from Africa." Then, months later, "Well, Saddam wasn't trying to buy uranium from Africa, but I am still right, because I was correct that the British said it."

There's the call for funding for research into alternate powered vehicles, funding for fighting AIDS in Africa, stopping substance abuse, and all of the countless other programs that sound good in State of the Union addresses and campaign stops but which never actually ever seem to come to fruition...

It just goes on and on.

I just want someone to say the truth, whether that be "I am for this because..." or "I screwed up; I was wrong about..."

And THAT is the real change I want to make with a third party.

5/24 - Entertainment:  Summer movie preview review - So, as we near the start of the summer movie season this weekend, I look at the upcoming summer movies and I think... it's crap.

First, there is "Troy." I liked it the first time I saw it when it was called "Gladiator."

Then, "King Arthur." I liked it better the first time when it was called "Braveheart," and I know that the same genius behind "Con Air" is certainly NOT going to make an Oscar winner.

"The Day After Tomorrow" - Well, this one certainly wasn't better when it was called "Deep Impact." And it has the creative geniuses who created "Independence Day" and "Godzilla." Yeah, it's going to suck. And I watched the 10 minute preview Fox showed a few weeks ago, and I think I have pretty much seen the entire movie. Sure, I missed the 45 minutes of dialog that explain global warming, but seriously, do you really think I missed anything?

"Spiderman 2" - Yeah, this one could go either way. I liked the first Spiderman movie, although the last few comic book adaptations - Hulk, LXS, Van Helsing - all sucked out loud. I'll wait for some reviews.

"Catwoman" - Yeah, Halle Berry looks hot, but why not just watch the scene from "Swordfish" over and over for an hour and a half?

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Alcatraz" - Maybe if I were 13, I'd be all giddy over this. Or maybe if I were Michael Jackson. But, I'm neither, so I'll be skipping this one.

"Around the World in 80 Days" - "Hey, everyone, I'm Jackie Chan. I'm getting old, so I can't kung fu like I used to, so look at how funny I am. Laugh at me, or I'd kick your ass if I weren't so old..." Makes you realize just how funny Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson really are...

"I, Robot" - Fresh Prince stars in a sci fi movie. Yeah, the last few sci fi movies he starred in sucked, but this one was written by Asimov. And everyone knows Hollywood could never take a beloved novel and turn it into a really shitty movie...

"The Manchurian Candidate" - Remakes have done so well, so let's take one of the greatest movies ever, have Denzel Washington be brainwashed by Arabs, and it'll make a killing! And next year, we'll remake "Citizen Kane" with Keanu Reeves as a music mogul! And this time Rosebud will be a 2005 Mustang GT and we'll get an advertising tie-in with Ford!

In fact, the only movie that looks somewhat interesting is "The Chronicles of Riddick." I've never seen "Pitch Black," which I have been told is the prequel to this movie, but I'm guessing that I can probably pick it up without seeing it. Or maybe I can go rent it at Blockbuster. (And Craig, I know, how could I miss a movie that stars Claudia Black? Just screwed up, I guess...)

Well, that's it for my review of the summer movie previews. And being summer, we have so much else to look forward to, like the "Day After Tomorrow Blizzard Special" at Dairy Queen and the special "Manchurian Candidate Happy Meal" at McDonalds.

Oh, and speaking of "The Manchurian Candidate" - did they at least cast Harry Connick, Jr in the Frank Sinatra role?

6/21 - Politics:  Comparing the US and Saddam - This is something that I have been thinking about recently:

Claim: Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
Fact: The US has weapons of mass destruction.

Claim: Saddam intended to use his WMDs.
Fact: The US continues to not rule out a "first-use" WMD policy. In fact, under the Bush Doctrine, the US states it reserves the right to first-use of WMDs to preemptively strike a rogue state it believes is developing and planning to use WMDs.

Claim: Saddam used chemical weapons on his own people.
Fact: Throughout the 50s, the United States government conducted radiological experiments on its own citizens without their consent. Such experiments consisted of things like feeding children in metal institution oatmeal radiated with high levels of nuclear radiation.

Claim: Saddam tortured people in his prisons.
Fact: US troops have tortured people in Iraqi prisons, lending credence to the fact that past allegations of torture at the hands of US troops may not be entirely fiction.

Claim: Saddam secretly and illegally detained Captain Michael "Scott" Speicher after the Gulf War and hid his existence from the Red Cross.
Fact: The CIA and the military for months have kept hidden the mysterious prisoner "Triple X" from the Red Cross, claiming a clerical error.

Claim: Saddam had ties to Al Qaeda.
Fact: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had - and continue to have - close ties to Al Qaeda. These ties are much more substantial - and more dangerous - than any ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

Claim: Saddam gave money to the families of Palestinian terrorists.
Fact: In 2002, US ally Saudi Arabia held a telethon to raise money for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that we should excuse Saddam Hussein for his crimes. He was an asshole and deserved what he has received and more.

On the contrary, though, we can't continue to go around and play like we are innocent of the things with which we blame the rest of the world. It's not black and white, and no matter how much people don't want to admit our own shortcomings, the fact is that those shortcomings are NOT lost on the rest of the world.

We are better than the rest of the world in these respects, but people have a tendency to confuse "better than the rest" and "perfect." The United States - and the way we conduct ourselves with regards to foreign policy - is far from perfect. And what we, as a nation, need to do is recognize our shortcomings and improve on those.

Why do people hate America? Did they just wake up one day and suddenly decide to hate America? Or do they have a malformed idea of who we are and what we really stand for? Until we can figure out a way to change the opinions of the world - and to make people understand what America stands for in the way our founding fathers intended - we are going to continue to have people hate us, and hate us so much that they want to terrorize and destroy us.

8/2 - Politics:  Code Orange and a half - Is it just me, or does this weekend's publicized threat against financial centers seem a little suspect, coming so close to Kerry's post-convention bounce?

I think they got burned on the last non-specific threat, so they thought, "Hey, let's throw a few specifics in there. Not like anyone will ever know for sure..."

Yeah, it's a conspiracy theory, but with the Bush Administregime, I wouldn't put it past them...

Oh, yeah, and who can forget this quote:

“And [Osama Bin Laden is] just – he’s a person who has now been marginalized. His network is -- his host government has been destroyed. He’s the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match…So I don’t know where he is. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him, Kelly [Wallace, CNN], to be honest with you. I…I truly am not that concerned about him.”

-- President George W. Bush, March 13, 2002

Yeah, it seems that Herr Ridge forgot that we marginalized Osama...

8/15 - Sports:  The Olympics - So, I am watching the Olympics, and I see this new sport: synchronized diving. WTF? Who comes up with these sports? "Hey George, let's dive off at the same time and look cool!" I'm ready for synchronized cannonballs. I rule at that one.

And what the hell happened to the vault? In the old days, it used to look like a pommelhorse without the pommels. Now, it looks like the command deck of the Starship Enterprise. Bring back the vault!

Now, I don't give a crap about "Thorpedo" and I really don't give crap about Team USA in general. Dear NBC: This is what I want in my Olympics coverage - non-stop, 24-hour HD coverage of women's beach volleyball. Seriously; nothing else matters.

And certainly basketball isn't what it used to be. I've seen better basketball with my local high school than that crap that the athletes tried to pass off today. And I can plainly see why Puerto Rico doesn't want to be a state after today!

And I heard a commercial the other day for a movement to make poker an Olympic event. Apparently, people are seriously trying to make bridge an Olympic event, so now some people think any card game can be an Olympic event. (If so, you are looking at the 2012 Go Fish Gold Medal Olympian right here!) Can you imagine one of those old fat guys with his mirrored sunglasses and headphones on as a freaking Olympic athlete? I think not.

10/10 - Politics:  Some recent revelations and a look back at the truth - So, this past week, there have been a lot of recent revelations about things that have been completely ignored by the conservative media, and thus, most of the United States.

First, on Monday, Darth Rumsfeld said about the al-Qaeda terror network and Saddam Hussein: "To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two."

Then, at the same time, former Iraqi governor Paul Bremer said: "We never had enough troops on the ground."

Finally, came the CIA report on Tuesday. What did it say? That there were no WMDs in Iraq, and all of Saddam's WMDs were destroyed during and shortly after the first Gulf War. And what else did it say? According to one CIA official, "There's no conclusive evidence the Saddam Hussein regime had harbored Zarqawi... The official says there is no clear cut evidence that Saddam Hussein even knew Zarqawi was in Baghdad."

So, the Bush Administregime's two major reasons for going to war in Iraq - that Saddam had WMDs and ties to terrorism - are both wrong, according to this CIA report.

And why did we have to go to war? Well, it was because the UN inspectors were moving too slow. Turns out now, that perhaps the UN inspectors were NOT too slow, but rather the Bush Administregime were TOO QUICK to go to war...

And why isn't Kerry just stomping this guy in the polls?

Politics:  The Grey Party Nomination - So, everyone keeps asking me who I want as President: Bush, Kerry, or Nader.

And I have to answer honestly: none of the above.

So, since I consider myself a member of the Grey Party, I figure I should be able to have my nomination of who I think most deserves to be President.

And that person is: Richard Clarke.

Why Richard Clarke? Well, he's the only one who, without regard for politics or his career, owned up to his part in the failures that led to the September 11th attacks. He didn't try to spin it, he didn't try to wiggle out of responsibility, he didn't try to point the blame anywhere else; rather, he owned up to his failings, admitted his mistakes, and apologized to the American public.

THOSE are the qualities I look for in a leader: someone who is HONEST, someone who takes their responsibilities seriously, someone who puts the welfare of the country above their own ambitions, and someone who isn't afraid to say "I screwed up."

These are things that NONE of the major party candidates can claim to have done.

Therefore, I am proud to consider Richard Clarke for the Grey Party nominee for President of the United States.

That said, though, this year is very important, unlike most other election years. As a result, the Grey Party cannot nominate a nominee this year, and instead will support John Kerry for President.

It is reluctant that we do so, but this year truly is a "lesser of two evils" election year.

10/19 - Politics:  Election 2004: Economy - One of the biggest issues this year is the economy, and before we examine this issue, let's just clear up one thing: there's very little the president can do to improve the economy.

That's right; the President can't magically conjure up jobs and improve the economy and improve the economic outlook for the country.

However, that said, the President DOES have a lot to do with the economy, and that is why it must be taken seriously in this election.

This is one area where I feel that President Bush has let us down. Yes, the economy was going down the tubes when he took office. Yes, September 11th did make the economy go down the crapper a lot faster than it probably would have on its own. And yes, CEOs were stealing from the employees during the time while President Clinton was in office.

BUT - President Bush did not take as hard of stand against greedy CEOs as I would have liked (and his association with Kenny Boy Lay still seems somewhat shady); if only John Ashcroft had been as aggressive against greedy CEOs as he was against suspected dirty bombers, naked statues, and MP3 downloaders.

AND, even more importantly, President Bush's two years of threats against Iraq did not help things. Throughout 2002 and 2003, President Bush continued to spout rhetoric about how Iraq was next in the war on terror. Regardless of how you felt about the war, one thing was sure - the country was uncertain about the future. What would it cost? Will taxes be raised? Will gas prices go up? Should I buy that new SUV or wait until next year when we see what gas prices will be like? Perhaps I should cancel that trip to Bermuda until after the Iraq crisis. And so, yes, President Bush does not control how to make things better, but he certainly can influence how to make things worse - which he did.

On the flip side, John Kerry says he'll create 10 million new jobs. How? Is he going to be like Al Gore and invent the Internet? He also says he'll stop outsourcing. Well, let me correct that; during the debates, he said he couldn't stop outsourcing, but he would reduce incentives to cut down outsourcing.

And if you ask business leaders, they'll tell you about how outsourcing is a good thing. After all, if you sell a product for the same amount, but you can pay a guy in Guatemala $3 an hour to do the same labor as a guy in the US who make $10 an hour, well that's $7 MORE profit for you! It doesn't take a genius to see how great that is. And the politicians will tell you that it's great for stockholders, and therefore, great for America.

And earlier this year, a reporter from the New York Times explained how outsourcing was good for America. He explained how when he went to visit a tech support center in Bangalore, he saw Indian workers wearing Levi's jeans, drinking Coca-Cola, and using HP computers. Yes, but they were probably wearing Levi's jeans made in an Indonesian sweatshop, drinking Coca-Cola bottled in Mumbai, and using HP computers assembled in Mexico from parts manufactured in China.

And that's part of the problem: outsourcing is good if you are a major shareholder; it's not so good if you are just a worker bee. And as we saw with Enron, you can't be a worker bee AND a shareholder without risking the loss of everything. You are either one or the other.

And here is the thing: after we outsource all those jobs overseas and have record TEMPORARY profits, who is going to end up buying those services? Will people be able to afford AOL when they have lost their job to an Indian tech support worker? Can they afford to buy an SUV when their manufacturing job went to Mexico? It's a lot like the lumber industry: you can selectively cut the trees around your town and have steady income year after year with low profits, or you can clear-cut the entire area resulting in a massive windfall, but then have 30 years of economic devastation while you wait for the forest to regrow enough to begin cutting again.

So, in synopsis, here are my feelings:

Bush - doesn't know how to improve the economy, but has done a good job - of making the economy WORSE by NOT improving consumer (or producer) confidence in the economy; constantly referring to the "war on terror" is good for re-election but BAD for the economy

Kerry - has optimistic hopes, but really lacks any power to make it happen. Plans to address outsourcing, but doesn't seem to have any real plans on how to achieve such a thing.

When I look at both candidates on this issue, I have to go in favor of Kerry on this one. He may not be able to make things right, but he certainly can't make things any worse than Bush has.

10/21 - Politics:  Election 2004: Health Care - This is one of those mixed issues for me. You see, I have been a recipient of standardized, universal government sponsored health care once (when I was in the military), and it absolutely sucked.

On the other hand, as the most powerful and wealthiest country on earth, we should have NO citizen who is not covered by a health care plan.

I know that there is something wrong with drug costs for the elderly. After my grandfather had his heart attack, he had heart medication that he was supposed to take for the rest of his life. However, after he forked over $100 and received TEN pills, he quickly concluded that he wouldn't be on this drug for very long (for only ten days, in fact).

On the one hand, I can see how some health care costs should be cut, but on the other hand, I do not want to see universal, government sponsored health care. I like my HMO and I want to keep it.

The one area I see for improvement is to maybe have a government sponsored preventative health care plan. You know, maybe someone who could tell that fat kid to ease up on the donuts before he turns into a 500 pound lard ass who requires government assistance to handle his morbid obesity. And maybe this same service could provide free immunizations to help prevent outbreaks.

As far as the candidates, I have to side with Bush on this one. I'd like to see frivolous lawsuits reduced and I am against universal health care, although it is going to be difficult for lawmakers to say who's lawsuit is frivolous and who's is legit.

Still, Bush's assertion that we should not buy drugs from Canada because they may not be safe is absurd; it's CANADA, not Mexico...

10/23 - Politics:  Election 2004: Budget - Basically, what it comes down to, is that both candidates want to spend money on their programs without necessarily wanting to find a way to pay for it. Bush wants more money for defense, while Kerry wants more money for health care and education.

But, neither candidate has found ways to pay for it, especially considering that both have made pledges NOT to raise taxes.

The way I see it, I can't go into debt and neither should my government. We want more defense dollars? Well, we either raise taxes to increase our income or else we cut spending elsewhere. It's that easy; it's Econ 101.

For example, I want to get a new SUV. I can either get a higher paying job or else cut out spending. Well, I don't really want to be working harder than I am now, and I don't want to cut out some spending (such as paying for this site), so I guess I will have to go without that SUV.

As far as I'm concerned, neither one of these candidates really has a plan to solve the budget crisis, they just want to spend more of the taxpayers' money (and then some) on different things.

Guess I gotta go with Nader on this one...

10/25 - Politics:  Election 2004: War in Iraq - Contrary to what the President says, I do not believe the war in Iraq and the war on terror are related. Saddam Hussein had about as much to do with terrorism as Fidel Castro does. If hatred for America is all it takes to have a connection, most of the world would be in out crosshairs...

Anyway, we're in Iraq now, and so now the question is what do we do about it. Me? I believe that the world is safer with Saddam removed. But, I don't believe that America is safer; on the contrary, we have now given Osama and his legion of paranoid psychopaths new reasons to hate America - and ripe fruit with which to recruit new followers.

Someone once said, "I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be." I have to agree with that person. That's why I believe that we should turn over the task of rebuilding Iraq to the UN and pull our troops out of Iraq; French and German troops can make as good targets for insurgents as our own troops, and our troops can go to Afghanistan and back to the hunt for the REAL terrorist killer - the one who HAS attacked our nation and the same one who continues to threaten us.

Iraq is a distraction - a distraction in the hunt for terrorists, a distraction in the road to economic recovery, and a distraction in this election.

I'm sorry, but I can't support President Bush on his handling of Iraq. Sure, Kerry may not have a plan for Iraq, but it is very clear to me that President Bush clearly doesn't have one either.

For example, no one had the foresight to secure the explosives that were being secured and monitored by UN weapons inspectors prior to the US invasion. No wonder Dick Cheney seems so sure that there will be another major terrorist attack...

11/1 - Politics:  Election 2004: Final Thoughts - When it comes to making decisions, I look at the facts, but I have to weigh it and balance it with my experience.

Here is my experience from the past four years:

- I was serving in the military and saw our country preparing to increase military pressure on Iraq when we were attacked by terrorists.
- I watched the President declare “you are either with us or you are with the terrorists” at the exact same time the Saudis chose NOT to support us in Operation Infinite Justice/Enduring Freedom.
- I was involuntarily held past my agreed upon military service date by a military staff that was not quite sure how to best use their manpower.
- I was unemployed for six months after leaving the military because of the terrible economy.
- A dozen of my friends lost their jobs during the past four years. Only seven of them have found new jobs, although they have lost pay and/or benefits in the process.

I don’t know if John Kerry will be much better, but I know that I didn’t much enjoy my four years under Bush. For these reasons, among so many others I have outlined in other rants, I will be casting my vote for John Kerry tomorrow.

11/3 - Politics:  What the HELL happened? - I went to bed last night in the good old US of A, and I woke up in the Twilight Zone...

How in the HELL did Dubya get re-elected? It defies all logic! I - I just can't even begin to comprehend how he got elected.

I am just stupefied...

Of course, though, yesterday's big winner was Osama bin Laden. That's right, you heard me correct: Osama bin Laden was the big winner of election 2004.

You see, if Osama hadn't attacked on September 11th, Dubya would have been sitting there trying to explain to the American people why the budget surplus was gone, why the economy was in the tank, why he has no plan for social security, and how we had all those embarrassing run-ins with Chinese fighter jets and how our crews should be treated as "POWs" and not as mere "detainees".

Instead, though, we've got a polarized populace, with Democrats hating Republicans, Conservatives hating Liberals, and the country in a dead split about which direction we can go. We're embroiled in an unending war in the Middle East for which our main objectives change on a seemingly daily basis. We also have a populace who fears a terrorist attack SO much, that they don't care what liberties they give up in order to stay safe. They also feel that if a boy kisses another boy, it's worse than a thousand people dying for a lie or tens of thousands unemployed so that stocks are worth $0.05 more in tomorrow's trading.

Osama wanted to destroy America, and somehow after this latest election, this place doesn't quite seem like the America I love and grew up in. Perhaps maybe Osama DID succeed in destroying America - or at least got the part of "divide" right while not quite planning to get to the "conquer" part. Did part of America get destroyed on September 11th? And still somehow fearing the passage of additional Patriot Acts, I can't help but think that as a result of this election, we'll continue to see parts of America - our liberties - destroyed over the next four years. Maybe I'm a paranoid pessimist - and God I hope that's all that it is - but I can't help but be afraid of what might happen in this next four years.

They interviewed a guy on TV this morning who said that knowing Bush was going to be President four more years suddenly made him feel a lot more safer. However, for me, knowing Bush is going to be President for four more years suddenly made me feel the opposite; I'm contemplating a run for Home Depot for my supply of "Ridge's Own Plastic and Duct Tape Home Protection (TM)".

BTW, here are some predictions for the next four years:

- If you loved the fighting in Iraq, stay tuned for the sequel "Iran - Operation Elect Rudy". Twice the shock and awe, but this time with GUARANTEED weapons of mass destruction!
- The Patriot Act II - Electric Boogaloo. If you thought the first one was intrusive, wait until you can get arrested for just THINKING about POSSIBLY committing a crime.
- Chief Justice Scalia. Jeb really wants him to be the one to swear him in as President.
- A Constitutional amendment allowing a certain Austrian-born citizen to become supreme leader of our nation (after seeing how well it worked out for Germany)
- And you'll meet your new webmaster Rajiv Gupta, as the shareholders of Rantsinyourpants have decided that we can get two Indians to crank out this crap for far cheaper than we pay Mike.

12/7 - Politics:  Yep, that's your Congress - In a bill under consideration by Congress, our Government is considering making it illegal to fast-forward a DVD through commercials and previews.

Doesn't the government have bigger things to worry about - like reforming the intelligence service, fixing social security, and protecting America from terrorists?

Oh well, guess that's Congress for you...

12/8 - Politics:  Wax Museum Nativity Controversy - I heard about the controversy about the new exhibit that just opened in London's Madame Trousseau's Wax Museum, and I have to say, I agree with them.

The exhibit features the traditional scene of the Nativity, only that they have replaced the familiar images of the Nativity participants with figures from popular culture, such as David Beckham and Posh Spice as Joseph and Mary.

And THAT is where the controversy is - I mean I can't believe it. They actually had the audacity to have George W. Bush portray a Wise Man!

Dubya? A WISE MAN?