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Mike's Soapbox - Best 2006 Rants

2/12 - Politics:  The rant that hadn't been ranted about until now - So, one of the hottest news stories today is the story about the domestic wiretaps.

And you are probably saying, "Hey Mike, what's up with the lack of a rant on the subject?"

Well, I'll tell you.

About 2 years ago, I had a bit of a surprise.  I regularly check my logs to see where visitors come from, what they are looking at, and from that, I can see what works and what doesn't work.  One day, I saw that I had a visitor who visited A LOT of content on the page, and unlike most visitors to my page, a reverse IP lookup (which translates an IP address into a readable domain) didn't work.  So, I got out my tools and looked up the IP address, and guess who it was - the Department of Justice.

So, what would the DOJ want with my web page?  I started looking at the trail.  They started up on the "Ashcroft Cover Up" page , and then looked around, perused the Forums, looked through some of my soapbox rants, and then finally, back to the Cover Up page for several visits.

At the time it was pretty odd, and being slightly paranoid, disconcerting that perhaps John Ashcroft himself had visited my page.  But after looking back at the trail - and the lack of subsequent visits - I didn't think anything of it.

Then, fast forward to last December, when it was disclosed that there were secret wiretaps going on, and our government was in the midst of spying on its own citizens in the name of the war on terror.  And Adele turns to me and says, "Hey, remember when the Department of Justice visited your site?  I bet that was part of this!"

Hmmm.  Could it be?  Then again, the targets of the eavesdropping were those people who had a number of foreign contacts, who frequently traveled overseas, or who were linked to people with Al-Qaeda.  I was none of those; or was I?

I did have the Nigerian spam contest, which meant that I was frequently exchanging e-mail with people all over the world - Germany, Nigeria, China, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, among others.  I also frequently have visitors from Canada, Britain, and Australia.  I myself have traveled to Poland, Canada, and Greece at that time, so I have that box checked.  But, I do not now, nor ever have I had, any connections to terrorists.

My sources (and for those of you who know me know that I have sources) tell me that while they can't tell me if I have been the target of the domestic eavesdropping, my site certainly fits the profile based not so much on content, but on the fact that I have a high number of international visitors.

But THAT is the scary thing - no one really knows who was targeted or why.  And I am not so naive as to believe that if the NSA does come to visit that they won't be as bold as to announce themselves like the DOJ did (they'll probably use an AOL account or some crap like that).  But, until we know that someone is accountable for properly conducting surveillance, I am going to remain paranoid - and be on the lookout for those wiretaps.

2/17 - Politics:  An open letter to would-be suicide bombers - So, you decided to go blow yourself up because you believe that you will be promised seventy virgins when you get to heaven.

Now, I don't claim to be an expert on Islamic theology, so let's just assume that it is true.  But, I want to give you something to think about that might make you pause and reconsider.

According to the Koran, the key to getting into heaven is to live a good and virtuous life here on earth.  If so, you are rewarded by going to heaven.

From that, you can deduce then that the only way virgins can get to heaven is to live a good and virtuous life on earth, and then die a virgin.

So, then, who dies a virgin?  Well, nuns, spinsters, and ugly chicks.

And THAT is the loophole.  You are promised virgins, but no guarantees on the quality of said virgins.  Chances are you'll end up with a chick with one eye, 4 teeth, and a few warts on her face.  Oh, and don't forget all those cat-scratch scars from a life of having lived with 3 dozen cats as her only companions.  But hey, she's a virgin, right?

Which then brings us to the second issue.  Let's say you do get your 70 virgins.  Then, you have sex with them.  After 70 times, they aren't virgins any more.  And, to be honest, sex with an inexperienced woman would, IMHO, would be a far from satisfying experience.

Now, if it were me, it would only be worth doing on the promise of 70 porn stars.  I'd want women wise in the ways of pleasure and capable of various sex acts in a variety of positions.  With virgins, you get 70 shots, and then it's just the same old, same old.  With porn stars, however, the combinations would be, well, infinite.

So, faced with that fact, you really have to look at the promise of the 70 virgins and ask yourself - is that a reward, or a punishment? 

3/8 - Politics:  It's NOT partisan politics - Senate Republicans just defeated a motion to investigate domestic spying.  However, there is much more here than partisan politics and it is much more important than they would have you believe.

According to a Reuters story, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted down an attempt by Democrats to launch an inquiry into NSA eavesdropping that goes against the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

I know what you are saying again - "I'm not a terrorist so what do I have to be afraid of?".  Well, you see, that's the thing about the in query.  Right now, we only have to go off of Bush's word that the eavesdropping is limited to those suspected of ties to Al Qaeda.  This is the same word that said there was absolute irrefutable proof of Saddam's WMDs, that we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq, and said there was no reason to believe that levees would fail in New Orleans.  At best, gross misstatements; at worst, outright lies.

So, you see, I want an investigation into current eavesdropping.  I want to be sure that only suspected terrorists were eavesdropped on.  Might I remind you that the Patriot Act was used more often against non-terrorism suspects than terrorism suspects?

An investigation is what the founding fathers would have wanted.  Then again, the founding fathers would never have permitted this much power to be given to the president.

You see, Congress, this isn't about Republicans versus Democrats.  This is about Executive Branch versus Legislative Branch.  This is about power resting between a single person and a group of legislatures who represent the people (and note I said represent the people and NOT special interests).

This is not partisan politics; this is about using all tools at your disposal to ensure the checks and balances are properly there.

4/25 - Politics:  This just keeps getting worse - You know, just when I think President Bush can't get any worse, he seems to find a way.  Not content with having screwed up with all things Iraq, he now aims for new lows in Iran.

There are reports that the Pentagon is considering using tactical nuclear weapons to deny Iran from having a nuclear weapons program.

There is the one thing, which is the long standing policy that the United States reserves the right to first-strike of nuclear weapons.  That has always been a tacit threat; we have never NOT said we wouldn't use nukes, but then again, one of the things that has worked to stop nuclear proliferation in the 60+ years since the last time nuclear weapons was used was that the US did not openly use that threat against another country,

Until now.

And it is truly ironic.  

The United States is afraid - and rightly so - of what might happen if Iran gets a nuclear weapon.  I agree with the Administration there.

But to consider OUR use of nuclear weapons to deny THEM nuclear weapons?  Holy crap!  It would only PROVE why they absolutely NEED nuclear weapons if we did it.  And all the countries who presently don't give a crap?  Well, let's just say I doubt they will look upon us favorably.

I hope the reports are wrong.  I hope the "nuclear option" is only that.  And I really, really hope that no one in any level of our government is actually considering any use of nuclear weapons against Iran...

7/12 - Politics:  Ironic? -  So, a few weeks ago, I got a nice letter from the VA telling me that I was one of the lucky few veterans who had his personal information on that dumbass's laptop who got stolen.

The letter told me that my personal information and that *I* should go to the trouble of ensuring that my personal finances have not been royally screwed due to the lack of security of a dumbass "analyst" (Washington code-name for "dumbass who can't get job with real company"). 

Yes, lucky me, I get to call the banks and get my credit history report and ensure that my information wasn't nefariously used by thieves who took the laptop from the dumbass. 

But - here's the ironic thing - while my personal information was floating in the ether, available to criminals who only had to boot the machine and pilfer my account, available because the dumbasses at the VA did not have adequate security in their process - the identity of the dumbass who caused all these problems is being protected by the VA - they won't even release HIS NAME!

Thanks, VA, I gotta hand it to you. Way to protect your OWN asses in return for the service that WE did to protect YOURS.

8/16 - Politics:  Summer, World War 3, and still updating - It's summer, so you know what that means - I have to enjoy the few days of nice weather in Minnesota while I still can.

Meanwhile, you've probably been wondering why there isn't a rant about the recent Mideast violence,  However, is a new rant truly necessary?  I mean, what can I say that hasn't been said a billion times before?  It's pretty much why when anyone asks me about it, I really don't have anything to say - I can probably rant more about the weather in Minnesota than I can about two eternal enemies blasting the hell out of each other.  And is it World War 3?  Well, I think you need more of the WORLD involved to claim that title.

Meanwhile, I am still in the process of converting the site over.  It is my goal to have the content converted - and to begin regular updates - as soon as possible (probably even this weekend).

 Stay tuned!

8/22 - General:  What's in YOUR mailbox? - I don't know what's in my wallet, but I know definitely what's in my mailbox - more junk mail from Capital One!

What is the deal with Capital One?  Seriously, every two or three days, I receive credit card offers from these guys. 

Do they have an unlimited mass mailing budget?  Does this campaign work?

Even worse is the fact that the Capital One does the one thing I absolutely HATE by junk mail senders: disguising their junk mail as official and important looking.

For example, yesterday I got a large envelope with an "IMPORTANT - Time Sensitive Materials" label on it and no return address.  As my driver's license is coming up on renewal, I thought this might be the paperwork.  But, alas, no - it was another freaking credit card offer from my good friends at Capital One.

And I don't really see what the "time sensitive" component is - after all, I will be receiving another offer from them on Wednesday and again on Friday.

And Capital One?  Is there any confusion with "Capital Two"?  What about "Capital Zero"?  Why even have the "One" in the name?  Maybe just call yourself "Capital"?

If you ask me, I think Capital One has some serious investing in the USPS, else I can't figure out why they wouldn't end their endless junk mail campaign.

Is it bad enough I have to sit through all those "What's in YOUR Wallet?" commercials every night that I now have to be bombarded by Capital One in my mailbox?

Capital One - I'd like to take a Capital Two on you and your junk mail!

8/24 - Entertainment:  Once again - why is this news? -  With all that is going on in the world - Mideast violence, Iraqi insurgency, Iran thumbing its nose at the world, North Korea possibly preparing for a nuclear test - why is THIS news?

Why the HELL is this news?

Jessica Lynch is pregnant.  Who gives a SHIT?  Her 15 minutes was up like, well, 3 years ago!

She got captured, rescued, and now she's pregnant? Whoopdie-freaking-do.

Want to know what's newsworthy?  I wrote a rant today!

Hey, say what you will, but I challenge you to prove that my breaking news is any less earth-shattering than that crap that is being announced at CNN.  After all, I think the overall impact to the entire civilization as we know it is the same - NONE. 

9/26 - Politics:  Bill Clinton and Osama - You know, I'm not really a fan of Bill Clinton, but let's give this guy a break.

Here's the deal: after the embassy bombings, he fired missiles into Afghanistan to try and get Osama and he blew up a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that might be used to make chemical weapons.

At the time, Republicans calls it "Wag the Dog" - and said Clinton only made the strikes to take the press attention away from Monica Lewinsky.

However, after the Sept 11th attacks, we not only invaded Afghanistan to go after bin Laden (something we failed miserably at) but also invaded Iraq on the pretense of stopping WMDs from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Now, the thing is, if it was good enough of a rationale for Bush, why wasn't that same rationale good enough for Clinton?

Of course, Bush did succeed in getting into Afghanistan where Clinton didn't. A lot of this had to do with two things - 1) It was hard to deny us after the horrific attacks of Sept 11 and 2) It is now revealed that the Bush Administration strong-armed the Pakistanis into letting us invade Afghanistan by threatening to invade them to get to Afghanistan.

Of course, had Clinton pulled the same strong arm tactics after the embassy bombings or the Cole attacks, Republican lawmakers would have been all over him. (Those same Republicans were mad enough as it was after we lobbed a couple dozen cruise missiles into Afghanistan.)

Let's face it - there's plenty of blame to go around between Clinton and Bush. After all, had Bush been as concerned about Osama, he wouldn't have spent the summer of 2001 arguing stem cells at his ranch in Texas.

10/9 - Politics:  A different world - This morning I woke with a shiver that I haven't felt in 12 years.

Not since the death of Kim Il-Sung in 1994 have I felt like this.

Kim Jong-Il went against the rest of the world and blew up a nuclear bomb.

While it may not seem like that big of deal, you have to understand that North Korea has been as much a sponsor of terrorism as any of the extremist Islamic countries.  In addition to their implication in the October 1983 bombing of the South Korean government in Rangoon, they also have been known to provide technology to anyone willing to pay the price.  North Korean missiles have been sold to Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen - we now have to believe that any one of those can likewise become a nuclear state for the right price.

And, of course, we had to focus on Iraq - which was already in its own sandbox - to make the world safer, while ignoring the long-term and much larger ramifications of this action.

Will Japan develop its own nuclear weapons?  What about South Korea?

How will countries like the Philippines or Vietnam react should Japan develop their own nuclear deterrence?   

It's a whole new world, and much more dangerous than it was yesterday.

10/10 - Sports:  I can't believe I ate the whole thing - Want to know how the Twins pulled off that amazing season? It was due to me - and my poor stomach.

So, my friends and I went to a Twins game this past spring when they sucked. In fact, the game itself sucked out loud.

However, I was the highlight of the game. How did I pull off such a feat? My buddy Scott bet me buck that I couldn't eat an entire bag of cotton candy in under a minute.

No problem, I thought. It's all sugar and air, and it will melt in my mouth. An easy buck made. However, what I didn't count on was two things.

1. Cotton candy melts, but it turns into a sticky paste that doesn't want to go down very easily - especially when you have an entire mouth full of the stuff.

2. Cotton candy doesn't go well after two beers, a hot dog, some chips, and a large coke.

I almost hurled several times, and missed the one minute mark, although I didn't puke and ate almost 75% of the bag.

Afterwards, the sugar rush was too much. I decided to eat something called "Texas Tornado Mexican Taquitos" - that was a big mistake. When the Taquitos met the cotton candy, it was again almost time to hurl.

However, after the cotton candy incident, the Twins season started to turn around - so much so that they won the Division!

Still, I can't believe I ate the whole thing...

Mike eating cotton candy

10/13 - Politics:  The truth about that crash in New York - The government wants us to think that the crash into the apartment building earlier this week was by a small plane, but I for one am not buying it.

The parallels to September 11th are eerie, and just as all the other conspiracy sites say, there was no way that damage could have been caused by a small plane.

Clearly it was a cruise missile - likely fired from the same source that brought down TWA Flight 800 - that caused all that havoc. You are aware of this source - it is the same ship used in the so-called Philadelphia Experiment, which was modified at Area 51 with the technology taken from the Roswell crash.

It's time to wake up and discover the truth about who is really behind this latest attack on our country.

10/31 - Politics:  John Kerry is a dumbass - Why doesn't he just shut the hell up? He lost the last election, and he's on his way to causing the Democrats to lose this one.

As anyone who has been a long-time visitor to this site knows, I have no love of the Bush Administration. In the 2004 election, as much as I hated to do it, I voted Democrat. And again this year, I plan to vote Democrat.

My votes for Democrats aren't so much because I believe in their platform, but rather because I believe in having them keep the President's power in check. The President has gotten us into this war in Iraq, eroded our civil liberties, and pushed the Constitution to dangerous limits with regard to allowing torture and labeling American citizens as enemy combatants and denying them of their Constitutional rights; a Congress from the opposing party will keep that power in check (I hope it's not too late).

My biggest problem with the Democrats, however, are exactly these actions of John Kerry!

What kind of dumbass says "Study hard or you'll get stuck in Iraq" when you are a Yale educated senator? I mean, I was offended by his comments. And now the Bush Administration has jumped on them faster than an illegal alien trying to outrun that new fence...

It's the Democrats election to lose (AGAIN) and if Kerry keeps up his old tricks, they will...

11/7 - Politics:  Election 2006: The issues and a solution - So, today is the day of the 2006 midterm election.

I've noticed two issues that each party is centering their platform on. First, the Democrats are all about how the Iraq War isn't being run properly. On the other hand, the Republicans are up in arms about illegal immigration.

Perhaps that is oversimplifying, but that is how the issues are being presented here in Minnesota. When it comes down to it, I am much more concerned about the troops dying in Iraq than I am about illegal immigrants getting state benefits. I care more about the fact that North Korea now has the bomb and Iran is on its way to getting it than I am about two gay lovers who want to form a marriage union. And it is for those reasons that I will be voting Democrat on the Federal level.

On a state level, I am a firm believer in a third party system, so I will be endorsing the Independence Party candidates for state office.

Of course, back to that issue of the Iraq War versus illegal immigration - I have a solution. The solution is this: all of the immigrants that are in this country illegally can choose to serve in the Armed Forces in Iraq. If you do well and survive your tour of duty, you earn citizenship. It's that simple; it reduces the risk for American soldiers, as the actual American troops who would be in harm's way would be made up of large numbers of probationary Americans, and those who would become US citizens would have done so by proving themselves in a "trial by fire" if you will. They always say that illegal immigrants take the jobs that Americans don't want; I can't thank of any job that an American wouldn't want more than being a target for a roadside bomb.

But, as always, remember the core rule here at You don't get to rant about the current state of politics unless you get off your butt and vote. And remember the other important rule about voting: The only vote that doesn't count is the one that is not cast.

So what are you doing reading this rant? Get out there and vote!

12/12 - Politics:  Hurricanes - It was announced that unlike 2005, in 2006, there wasn't a single hurricane that came ashore within the United States.

Dick Cheney was quick to announce that it was, in fact, proof that we were winning the war on hurricanes.

Hey, it worked for the war on terror, so why not?