Archive for January, 2008

An interview with the next President

January 30, 2008

Check out this interesting interview.  It’s about 50 minutes long, but it’s worth the investment of time.

And if you live in a state that’s voting or caucusing on “Super Tuesday”, please help save this country.

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Obama’s win “rejiggers” the race, or does it?

January 27, 2008

In an interesting choice of words, both Time and the Dallas Morning News websites posted articles yesterday using the word “rejiggers” in association with Barack Obama‘s crushing, devastating, awesome landslide victory over Hillary Clinton in South Carolina.

This word seemed completely out of place as it’s such an obscure word.  It also didn’t quite seem to do what was necessary in the sentence.  Rejiggers means readjusts.  It carries, however, a connotation of slight tweaking.  Obama’s smashing victory couldn’t be said to be subtle by any stretch.

So, the word doesn’t quite do what it needed to do.  What rejiggers does do is rhyme with niggers.  In a race that has been far more about race than it should have been, I think both Time and the DMN published a cheap shot.

They have since realized their mistake and Time has replaced the word with “reshapes” and DMN has gone with “reshuffles.”

Updated articles found here (I’ll see if I can find a cache of the originals):

Obama’s Win Reshapes the Race

Barack Obama’s South Carolina win reshuffles race

Was I right? How race focused is the coverage of Obama’s SC landslide?

January 27, 2008

Follow up on my prediction from earlier.

Summary of voter race discussion:
Mentioned: 10
Ignored: 1

I can’t be bothered researching this any more.  I was wrong, they didn’t all mention race.  All of the main stream media sites did.  Kudos Crooks & Liars for not wallowing in the muck.

Obama projected winner in South Carolina: Economy remained top concern; half of electorate was black
First mention[Headline]: half of electorate was black.

Barack Obama wins South Carolina, CNN project
First mention[Third paragraph]: Obama, who is hoping to become America’s first African-American president, did well with black voters, who made up about half of Saturday’s electorate, according to exit polls.

Obama wins South Carolina primary
First mention[fourth paragraph]: About half the voters were black, according to polling place interviews, and four out of five of them supported Obama. Black women turned out in particularly large numbers. Obama, the first-term Illinois senator, got a quarter of the white vote while Clinton and Edwards split the rest.

Breaking: Barack Obama Projected Winner In South Carolina
First mention[NONE!]

Obama wins South Carolina
First mention[third paragraph]: Seemingly buoyed by a large African-American turnout – exit polls indicated at least half those voting were black

S.C. Voting Wraps Up as Obama Seeks Broad-Based Victory
First mention[fifth paragraph]: It is also the first state to offer an indication of Barack Obama’s political appeal among large African-American communities.
Further down: while Obama was the pick for 83 percent of black voters.

Obama wins South Carolina Democratic primary
First mention[first paragraph]: Barack Obama easily won South Carolina’s bitterly contested Democratic presidential primary with the aid of heavy black support on Tuesday

Barack Obama Wins South Carolina Primary
First mention[sub-heading]: Large African-American Turnout Carries Sen. Barack Obama to Victory in S.C.
Further mention[first paragraph]: Sen. Barack Obama, vying to become the nation’s first black president, has won the South Carolina primary today, ABC News projects, boosted by huge turnout of African-American voters in a state whose electorate appears polarized along racial lines.

Obama wins in South Carolina
First mention[second paragraph]: Drawing heavily on support from African Americans, Obama led Clinton by several points in a primary powered by one of the most significant shows of voter turnout in recent history in the Palmetto State.

Obama Wins South Carolina Primary
First mention[third paragraph]: More than half of the voters who participated in Saturday’s primary in the state were black, according to early exit polls, a higher turnout than the 2004 Democratic primary and a signal that Mr. Obama enjoyed strong support from African-American voters.

Obama Wins Big in South Carolina
First mention[third – fifth paragraph]: The audience chanted “Race doesn’t matter” as it awaited Obama to make his appearance.

But it did.

About half the voters were black, according to polling place interviews, and four out of five of them supported Obama. Black women turned out in particularly large numbers. Obama, the first-term Illinois senator, got a quarter of the white vote while Clinton and Edwards split the rest.

A prediction: we are racist.

January 26, 2008

I’ve been reading a lot about the upcoming South Carolina Democratic Primary.  I started to notice something, every single article was talking about Obama’s support among the black voters of South Carolina.  It’s not the biggest problem with our political system, but the fact that we ignorantly allow the media to frame politics in these terms is fucking disgusting.

What possible benefit apart from scaring racists in other states could talking about Obama’s support among the black community possibly have?  Honestly, who cares?  Why should that be a noteworthy news item?  Why not devote the copy space to talking about the differences between Obama and Clinton? Why not serve as a tool for enlightening the population about what’s important rather than focusing on what’s clearly not?

I’m going to post a link to all stories I read that talk about the South Carolina results.  I will keep a running count of “mentions voter race” vs “doesn’t mention”.  My prediction is that, in the post counting analysis, every single article I read will mention the racial make up of those who voted for Obama.  Without exception.  Now, I don’t claim that I need every single one to mention race to prove my claims of racism, but it’s more dramatic that way.  I also believe I’ll be right. We’ll see how it turns out.

So there it is.  We are, on some level, a nation of ignorant, racist knuckleheads and the media coverage of the results in South Carolina will proclaim this for all to see.  Few will notice.

If you’re a Democrat who wants to end the Iraq war, you have one clear choice – Ron Paul

January 23, 2008

I realized something earlier today. I realized that, as someone who wants to end the war in Iraq, I should have registered Republican to vote for Ron Paul in the Primary.

Why? Simple. In a Ron Paul vs any Democrat contest, the troops come home.

For any Democrats out there who care about ending our illegal occupation of Iraq, suck it up and register Republican. It’s not like a tattoo, you can wash the stink off later. Vote for Ron Paul, keep his candidacy viable and maybe, just maybe you can help end this awful mess we’re in.

What a fair Ron Paul interview looks like

January 20, 2008

I’m stunned.

I really don’t know how to react.  I just saw a Ron Paul interview via YouTube.  I don’t know what to say other than it was good.

I kept expecting the interviewers to turn on him and start mocking him.  They didn’t.

I kept expecting them to mention all the departments he wants to close to make him sound foolish.  They didn’t.

I kept expecting them to criticize his stance on the war.  They didn’t.

In fact, and give me a second to collect myself here … I think … I think they were actually agreeing with many of his positions.

One of the hosts said “He makes a lot of sense.”

I think it’s a measure of the treatment he’s received so far that an ordinary interview where he’s treated with respect (they called him Dr. Paul) and where Paul performs produces such a strong reaction in me.

I can’t imagine what will happen if this treatment continues.  Actually, to be honest, I can’t imagine this treatment continuing.

American Democracy Repaired – Take Two

January 17, 2008

Previously I had suggested that Americans be given the option to publicize their vote if they chose to. I received a lot of feedback on this idea, most of it positive, but the bulk of the negative commentary focused on one issue: vote buying.

The idea is that if I wan to vote for CandidateX, I approach a bunch of people and say “Psst. Psst. No, over here … in the bushes. Hey, if you vote for CandidateX and can prove it to me, I’ll give you $Y.”

For each person that can demonstrate to me that they actually voted the way I wanted, I pay them.

People seemed quite certain that this would be rampant in any system that allowed a voter to prove that they voted the way they were bought. I think this argument is completely and totally ridiculous, but it’s just something I think, I can’t prove it.

So, with that in mind, is there any other application of the light of transparency that will improve our current system? I’m glad you asked. Do the counting publicly. This is such a simple idea that it’s hard to understand why it doesn’t currently happen. The idea would be that all counting is recorded, and webcast by multiple independent (and ideally opposing) groups.

These videos are made available real time and as archives available to the public on the web.  Every venue has candidate nominated scrutineers to make sure everything is on the level and it’s all recorded for later public analysis.

It still has weaknesses in that there are points in the system where votes could be manipulated, but it’s a ways better than the system we currently have.  New Hampshire is currently undergoing a recount because 81% of the votes cast in the recent Primary were counted by a private company in private.  Imagine how we’d feel if this happened in some other country.  We’d be mocking it.

That’s the state our political system has devolved to.  It’s a laughing stock and needs to be fixed.  Actually, fixed is probably the wrong word to use there.  Let’s run with “repaired” instead.  Our system needs to be repaired.  Visibility, transparency and accountability are a good place to start.

We fight for freedom – or “What if someone else did it to us?”

January 14, 2008

It’s been eight years now. Eight long years. Sure, initially I was glad when China toppled the Bush regime and executed the “retarded tyrant” as I love to call him. It wasn’t that bad at the start, but as time wore on and I realized they weren’t leaving, it started to gnaw at me.

Bush declared martial law in June of 2008 after initiating a nuclear attack on Iran. Martial law became “necessary” in the chaos surrounding the oil shock that followed the Iranian conflict. People had said he’d been planning the Iran move for a while, but the media kept pointing out how much of a threat Iran was so I guess we needed to act. He didn’t have any conventional forces or weaponry available because he’d over-extended our reach in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without conventional options, he went nuclear. The events that followed received sporadic and muddled coverage and what happened is still disputed today. All I know for sure is that oil become scarce in a real hurry. China removed the Yuan/dollar peg, called in its massive store of US Treasury bonds and sent the greenback into freefall. Most Americans didn’t realize that China was trading more with Europe than the US, and while the move stung China, it crippled the US. They then started paying the Saudis and other Persian Gulf countries in Yuan, the new global currency. The greenback was shunned like a redheaded stepchild. The same thing worked on Venezuela and Mexico and their oil output was redirected to China’s burgeoning economy. It is rumored that the Chinese then, using covert ops, disabled much of the Canadian oil infrastructure and America was oil dry within weeks. It turned out that the American government’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve didn’t hold the 720,000,000 barrels that the government claimed. Everything ground to a halt.

So Bush declared martial law soon after and China went on the offensive. Ostensibly, the Chinese invaded to “remove a tyrant that the rest of the world considers an unnacceptable risk”. Of course the US military went nuclear with the Chinese but didn’t realize that the 15+ satellite launches a year the Chinese had been grinding out were all part of an ICBM defense system. None of the nukes got through. It was over quickly. The famed military-industrial complex of the US was an amazing powerhouse. It’s just that without oil, the powerhouse didn’t have all that much power. Unlike previous wars where the might of American production pushed us over the top militarily, production sputtered to a stop and this war was lost without so much as a whimper.

The Chinese instituted some changes. They said that the only truly free society was one in which everyone worked for the common good. They imposed their political system on us without asking. I think they believe they’re doing us a favor.

One of the biggest issues before the media was nationialized and put under government control was the checkpoints the Chinese introduced. There are sickeningly frequent reports of US citizens being killed at these checkpoints throughout the country. Apparently what happens is that a carload of civilians gets shouted at (in Chinese) to slow down or stop. Not understanding, they fail to comply. Result: bullet riddled civilians with confused and terrified looks on their faces. Just last week the Chinese killed a busload of 17 civilians. Most of them were school children on a class trip. There were three teachers too.

While the Chinese have deployed much of their national army on US soil, they’ve also used a lot of civilian contractors to enforce curfews and protect foreign diplomats. These contractors and the company they work for (Redwater) are beyond the reach of the US judicial system. The Chinese have given them immunity for their actions on US soil and the company spirits away any individuals accused of wrongdoing before an investigation can get underway, even if there was a point to conducting one.

The eight years they’ve been here on US soil have produced some heartbreaking statistics. Over 4,500,000 “excess deaths”. I like that. Excess deaths. Basically, that’s people either killed violently during uprisings (ruthlessly crushed by our benevolent occupiers) or those that have died since the Chinese destroyed many of our factories, roads and infrastructure. Of those 4,500,000, about 1,800,000 have been violent or combat related deaths of Americans. Canada, in a stunning act of humanitarianism has opened its borders to refugees and 12,000,000 Americans have fled our home to reside with our now beloved northern neighbors.

Initially, people seemed to accept the fact that we needed help getting rid of Bush’s dictatorship. Lately, I think people have come to understand that the Chinese are really here for our natural resources. In the fusion driven, post-oil world, apparently American soil contains a lot of the minerals that drive the fusion process. I don’t really understand it but apparently the largest supply of “whatever it is” (some sort of helium?) was found in Iowa. The Chinese have set up camp there and apparently haven’t left. They can talk all they want about giving us our freedom but with 4,500,000 dead, 21,000,000 Americans who’ve fled and are now living as refugees elsewhere (12,000,000 in Canada alone) and another 1,100,000 fleeing each month, I gotta tell ya, it doesn’t feel all that free.

There is hope however, apparently the Chairman of the Chinese Communist party and thus the leader of China is frail. It’s said that health-wise he’s on his last legs. All we can do is hope that China’s next leader will curtail China’s empire. China has to realize the futility of trying to police the world. China’s political, social and moral systems are great … for China, but to impose them elsewhere at the barrel of a gun is wrong. I just hope the Chinese leadership realizes that. I’d say that I hope the Chinese people realize it but we all know that the Chinese don’t have any say in how their country is run or what wars it wages. It certainly feels a bit strange to have our future depend on the whims of political leaders far away, but that’s our new reality.

It’s hard for me to get too excited about the possibility of Chinese regime change. Regardless of what happens, the Chinese can’t give me my sons back. I won’t ever hold them again or see their cheeky smiles. So while other people hope that confusing political changes in foreign lands will help us, I apply slightly more direct methods.

Yes, I know they call me a terrorist and an insurgent. I like to think of myself as a freedom fighter. If someone invaded your country and killed your people, I’d like to think you’d fight too. I don’t expect to win but if I don’t fight, if we don’t fight, then all Americans lose.

I’m in love with a man.

January 11, 2008

Dennis Kucinich has come through for me and demanded a manual recount in New Hampshire. I love you Dennis Kucinich. That’s right. Love.

I still think Hillary has lost a huge opportunity here. If she had stood up and said exactly the same things Kucinich has written, I think she would have mobilized this country in her favor.

I’m not sure what I hope happens next. Actually, that’s a lie. I hope that it is shown that there were discrepancies and Obama was the victim. I hope Obama is given the victory. I hope it happens so that all those pundits who came up with “explanations” for the discrepancies are shown to be the prevaricators I believe them to be.

Hillary’s tears.  Obama’s mishandling of Hillary’s lack of likeability.  The ordering of the names on the ballot.  The Bradley Effect.  Etc, etc, etc.

What a story that would be.

American Democracy Repaired

January 10, 2008

So, I’ve been sitting around for the last day or so feeling all depressed. In part because Obama lost in New Hampshire and my dreams of a tidal wave of unity sweeping the nation were dashed but mostly because of my lack of faith in the system. As has been reported elsewhere, Clinton performed significantly better in precincts that were counted by the Diebold optical scanning machines than she did in precincts that counted votes by hand.

After a long history of disliking Diebold strongly and a short period, prior to New Hampshire, of being nervous about their involvement, it was a kick in the guts to see those results. The most stressful thing is that the results might be 100% accurate, but I have no way to know that. So that got me to thinking. And thinking. I should have been sleeping, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I have come to the conclusion that the secrecy of the process is the problem. If secrecy’s the problem, let’s provide an option to remove the secrecy. Let’s allow allow people to vote publicly if they choose.

In my proposed system, if you want to vote secretly, nothing changes. You do everything just like you would right now. You walk into the polling place, your name gets checked off and you go do your thing. However, and this is where it gets interesting, if you want to publish your vote, you go through a different process. Your vote gets associated with your name / ID number / whatever, you get a printed receipt with details identifying you and how you voted. Your name goes up on a big, public screen for you to cross check against your receipt and off you go happy that, once again, you’ve done your bit to protect democracy. There can be as many levels of verification here as are necessary, I haven’t really thought about it that much. The important thing is that your vote is recorded publicly and that you verify the vote that is recorded.

There doesn’t seem to be any downside for the people who don’t wish to have their vote published. They’d be in the same situation they’re in now. That being said, I think that many, many people would happily publish their vote to safeguard their democratic system. I would. Most young people I know would do it in a heartbeat. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t have their vote published.

Anyway, it’s really not that different than having political signs in the front yard of your house, is it? When you have bumper stickers or posters or signs, people know who you voted for anyway. This way not only will others know who you voted for, you will finally be confident that you know who you voted for.

I have received a couple of criticisms of this idea and I think they’re both pretty weak.

Firstly, someone claimed that votes could be bought because the buyer would be able to verify the sale.  This could feasibly happen on a small scale, but it just wouldn’t be worth it.  If we look at the New Hampshire situation, we’re talking about a discrepancy of tens of thousands of votes.  For a vote buying scam to be a serious threat you need to convince me that someone can make contact with tens of thousands of individuals, offer money for their votes, pay the money after the election and not come to the attention of any authorities anywhere.  So, when it comes to vote buying, I ain’t buying it.

The second concern was about voter intimidation.  If people’s votes are public then they can be threatened, or strong-armed into voting a certain way.  Again, I’m not buying.  The numbers of people involved are the issue again.  You need to be able to make a credible threat against tens of thousands of individuals and not have anyone report the blackmail to the authorities.  That’s simply unrealistic.

I think the problem here is that people are sweating the small stuff at the expense of the massive.  Yes, you might have some tiny incidents of voter manipulation, but there will be vastly less potential for vote manipulation than exists today, under the broken, secret system.

Shine the light in, let the cockroaches scurry away.  Down with secrecy!