Empire Maker Wins
For those of you not paying attention, Empire Maker just won the Belmont Stakes. The most newsworthy part is that he beat out Funny Cide, the underdog who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. If Funny Cide had won, he would have been the first Triple Crown winner in a quarter century.
Looking deeper though, I think this bodes well for America. Empire Maker winning shows that though there are still troubles ahead, America will eventually succeed in making the world a safer place for democracy. And on a closer temporal note, Funny Cide sounds a lot like cyanide, a nerve agent. This shows that we will overcome the WMD allegations. Now I have to go back to my tarot cards.
Davis' Main Campaign Aid to work for Lieberman
Garry South pushed Gray Davis through his last three electoral victories. We all know that Bill Simon's campaign wasn't super, but for a governor to get reelected with such a low approval rating does reflect well on Mr. South. Somehow, through his guidance, Davis was able to trick the same people into voting for him that two months later would start a recall, because they realized how much he sucks. Political manoeuvering at its best.
This could be good news and bad, but I think it's good all around. First the good. With his main strategerist® gone, Davis' chances of shooting down the recall are greatly diminished. That's good news for everyone. A successful recall against Davis could bring in many republicans with it, especially if it's coupled with the all new legislature that will be elected in March 2004.
The potentially bad news. Garry South could do a good job with the Lieberman campaign. I don't think this threat will materialize. First, Lieberman isn't popular enough with the Democratic base to get the votes needed in the primaries. His positions have just been too inconsistent, and sometimes opposed to Democratic views. Case in point, he is the closest thing the Dems have to a hawk. That's not good at a time when the Democratic party is saying "see I told you so" about the war. Howard Dean is probably the anti-War's hero at this point, and they're a rather large constituency. Also, even if Lieberman did get the party nomination, I sincerely doubt he would win the presidency. South may have done wonders for Davis, but Bush's PR machine is quite possibly the best ever seen. Bush has set the standard that will not soon be overcome.
Summary. Good riddance to someone who might have an effect on California, but who won't at the national level. Thank you Mr. South, for making the selfish decision to advance your own career while leaving Davis to rot and fester.
Some good Muhammad Ali quotes, compiled by Right Wing News. You have to love this guy's attitude. Ali is the poster boy for the "I'm good enough, I'm strong enough, and gosh darnit, people like me!" crowd.
Am I the only one who thinks that Cassius Clay is a way cooler name that Muhammad Ali? Maybe if he added the (PBUH) afterwards it would be cooler, but then also rather sacrilegious.
Gray Davis' Special Interests vs. Schools
Last year, Gov. Gray Davis slipped a bill under the radar right before the election. SB1419 limited the ability of local school districts to contract out for noninstructional services, such as busing or maintenance
"'It just doesn't make sense to tell me that I can't look at a cost-saving measure in a noninstructional setting,' San Jose's Union School District Superintendent Phil Quon continued as he discussed the squeeze of operating next year's schools on this year's budget, despite cost increases."
Let's put this into context. California is facing a huge budget crisis, we're $38 Billion in the red. School's are having their budget's slashed, and they are forced to fire teachers and lessen services because of it. Yet school's aren't allowed to outsource non education related services to companies that would perform cheaper.
"A 2000 audit found that Los Angeles Unified alone could save $25 million by contracting out all its busing. 'The Democrats are complaining that the recall costs $25 million, yet the same majority is unwilling to pass a law that would save (all) school districts 10 times that amount and protect teachers, ' said Mitch Zak, who represents yellow-bus giant Laidlaw Education Services."
This is just another example of Democrats knee-jerk reaction against capitalism. There are companies that specialize in busing, maintenance, cleaning, etc, but California's government requires that these services be done in house. Sometimes I feel that all elected representatives and appointed bureaucrats be required to take a course in economics before assuming office. This is a clear case of how specialization and the free market can make more efficient changes. All Laidlaw does is drive buses. They know how to do it, and they already have the experience and infrastructure. Why should we reinvent the wheel?
When in a budget crisis, with budget cuts and teacher layoffs, our goverment shouldn't handicap the effectiveness of the marketplace. Let schools outsource so that they can spend the difference on teacher salaries, school supplies, and construction.
A House Divided Against Itself
Environmentalist groups are squabbling amongst themselves over the merits and ugliness of windmills.
"I can't believe how large and hideous they are," Mr. Collins said. "When you hear the word `windmill,' you think Holland and Don Quixote. That's wrong. They look like alien monsters coming out of the ground."
I've believed that ever since I saw my first windmills in the movie Mac and Me. I'm certainly not opposed to cleaner, greener technology. All throughout elementary school I would religiously chant "reduce, recycle, reuse, reduce, recycle, reuse, ..." It got so bad that I wanted a tatoo of the recycle triangle (with the three arrows). But when it comes to windmills, it's great to see all the self-righteous, anti-SUV, pro-lumberjack death people get all in a tizzy because they don't want to spoil the view from their Cape Cod, Nantucket home. It's okay for people in less afluent areas to look at windmills, but not the limousine liberals. Also, there is some truth to the allegations that windmills cause problems to migratory bird populations. But I guess that's just one of the wonderful ways that evolution works.
That said, I do think it's kind of cool to see huge windmills in the barren, mountainous desert of Southern California. It's very apocalyptic and surreal. And it makes the land value so cheap it's probably the only place I could afford a home right now.
Selling a curse
Check it before it's gone. Someone on ebay is selling a cursed jar. Thanks to Gusher Hero for pointing this out. Only in America would someone think of taking a horrible curse, pawning it off on someone else, and making a profit. God bless the USA.
BTW, check out the bottom black and white picture. You can see shadowy images of some people that aren't supposed to be there. It's cool and freaky at the same time.
Weapons of Mass Destruction as a Red Herring
I am tired of the justifications for war being misrepresented in the media. Especially this claim that since we haven't found WMDs yet, the war is a failure, Bush and the CIA are liars, and we never should have gone to war in the first place. I reached the breaking point after this pointless article by Molly Ivins at Working For Change. Basically, the main Bush haters are saying, "Either Bush lied, or we had a huge intelligence failure."
To respond directly to this point: neither is correct. The WMD evidence has been known for a long time. After the first Gulf War we found plenty of materials, including a nuclear weapons project. This is what spawned the 17 UN Resolutions over the next decade. We knew what he had, so did the UN. Defectors regularly gave details throughout the 1990's. Saddam Hussein was supposed to get rid of his stockpiles, and verify that fact through the inspectors. Since he did everything he could to impede the progress of these inspectors, it was very reasonable to assume that he was not cooperating, and hence still had the materials. We know what it is like when a country gets rid of its nuclear and other materials. They cooperate, they allow flyovers, they give unlimited access. We have empirical examples of this in countries such as South Africa and Ukraine when they disarmed. Given this information, the logical conclusion was that Saddam had not disarmed. We knew he had these materials at one point, he was supposed to provide documentation that he destroyed them, and he never produced it. Period. No reasonable person would conclude from his actions that he had disarmed.
Now we get into the justifications for war.
Let's start with the Weapons of Mass Destruction, because as Wolfowitz said, it's the only argument everyone could agree on. As per the previous paragraph, we know he had them, and we had not been given any reason to believe he was not still in possession of them. Furthermore, Saddam has a long history of supporting terrorism. Abu Nidal, one of the most accomplished terrorists ever, lived out his life in comfortable asylum in Iraq. Saddam had office space in Baghdad for Hamas. And he gave $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers in Israel. During the war, we found Abu Abbas. But wait, I forgot, there's "no link to terrorism." Saddam's actions showed he is a friend, harborer, funder, and trainer of terrorists. Terrorists who hate Israel, America, democracy, and the West in general. Couple this to the idea of WMDs and we see why Saddam was such a threat. He could easily give WMDs to a terrorist group to devliver anywhere in the world, without his fingerprints.
The next important justification was the humanitarian mission. Before the war, many people were talking about this. Saddam Hussein would have people eaten by dogs or burned alive, killed for the most minor of offenses. He had professional rapists. Why didn't the liberals cry out over that? The man institutionalized one of the most barbaric and horrific acts possible. The rapes were often done in front of husbands and family members. Women prisoners, as punishment, would be hung upside down during their period, so that the blood would flow down their bodies. Torture chambers were commonplace. Uday Hussein was free to run rampant over the country, doing as he pleased, including raping thirteen year old girls for his pleasure. Even more surprising were the images of children being freed from prison, or mass graves of kids buried with their dolls. When it comes to human rights abuses, Iraq was right up there with the worst of them. If we had to pick a country to invade based solely on human rights, Iraq would have been tied with North Korea. This alone was reason enough to invade. Liberals charge back that we supported Saddam Hussein during the 1980's, even when he committed the massacres and gassing of the Kurds. The simple response is that we can and should learn from past mistakes. Because we once supported him, does not mean we cannot wise up. Beyond that, since it was our support that allowed him to rise to power, we have an even greater responsibility to remove the monster we created.
Third, if anyone wants international law to be respected at all, this action was necessary. Saddam violated 17 binding Security Counsel resolutions over the course of a decade. Many of these were Chapter VII, calling for military action to be imposed if there is a breech of compliance. Saddam violated more resolutions that any other country in history. Some people would point out Israel, but that comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of international law. The vast majority of resolutions against Israel were done by the General Assembly, and thus non-binding. The highest Security Counsel resolution against Israel was a Chapter VI, calling for mediation on the part of the parties affected, not military action. To allow Saddam Hussein to flout, on an annual basis, the highest and most binding of International Law demonstrates its decent into irrelevance. Anyone who truly cares about the "rule of law," ought be concerned with such behaviour. Furthermore, the UN was in dereliction of duty when it refused to follow through on its function of enforcing the resolutions, as described in Chapter VII of the Charter. US military action was not a pre-emptive strike. Since Saddam Hussein was in violation of the ceasefire terms ending the Gulf War of 1991, that engagement was continuing. Allied military action in 2003 was simply a continuation of '91, and an attempt to enforce the ceasefire.
The last main reason for the invasion was to establish a Middle Eastern democracy. A democratic Arab country would be a beacon of hope for the rest of the Middle East and its reformers. It would prove that life can and will improve if the corrupt Arab regimes are forced to give way.
Clearly, we can see that WMDs were only one of the reasons, and that the current situation in no way shows that our pre-war analysis was flawed. Even if we never find WMDs, the logic behind the invasion is intact - there was no reason to believe that the weapons had been destroyed. Beyond that, for reasons of humanity and democracy, that regime had to go. We must always remember that anyone who did not want the war was de facto complicit in the atrocities that occurred under Saddam's regime; and if they had their way, women would still be daily raped, pre-teenage children would be imprisoned and executed, Uday would be on the loose, terrorism would still have a home and benefactor, and the world would be a much more dangerous place. Now the world knows we are serious.
In the words of Paulo Freire, "Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral."
Rolling Stones Sympathetic to Neo-Nazis?
Thanks to Daimnation for the link. Apparently the Stones' opening act in Germany is a very popular German rock band ... with neo-nazi sentiments. Read the post.
Texan to Lead Forces in Iraq
The new U.S. military commander is Iraq will be Major General Ricardo S. Sanchez. This is as good a time as any to point out some of positive aspects of our Armed Forces, and the Bush administration that people (ie. Liberals) overlook.
First, why is it that Republicans are the party of whites, and Democrats the party of minorities. It is becoming increasingly clear that Republicans practice what they preach in terms of meritocracy and color blindness. Clinton is considered the first 'black' president, but Bush has appointed more blacks to higher positions than Clinton. Republicans have tried to appoint well qualified minorities to the bench - most recently Miguel Estrada - but they are fiercely contested by Democrats. The most well known black judge ... Republican. The first woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court ... Republican. And now a hispanic will be in charge of the most high profile position in the military - in charge of all the US and Allied troops in Iraq. It's odd to think that liberals, who have tried to push people based on their race as a pivotal factor, have much less racial diversity in thier power structures than conservatives, who try to appoint the best person for the job. The Democrats should well be worried about this, especially in light of the recent trend that some minority groups, like blacks and hispanics, are increasingly identifying as Republican.
Second, the military, for all the evil that the liberals want to ascribe to it, is the most racially integrated body in America today; public or private. Moreover, it is a vehicle of social mobility. Gen. Sanchez started out life poor and decided that the military would act "as a means of escaping poverty." There is a burgeoning campaign with liberals to stop the military from recruiting at high schools - even though the military offers free job training skills, a good paycheck, and time to get your life in order after graduation. If the liberals are so keen on helping minorities and lower income people, why do they hate the institution that singularly best accomplishes both of those goals?
Chirac, the Globalist
The editorial in Sunday's Le Monde, France's newspaper of note, praises Chriac for opening the G-8 up to the rest of the world. This year's G-8 included the regulars, Germany, Italy, UK, USA, France, Japan, Russia, and Canada, and added representatives from 13 other countries: including China, India, Brasil, Egypt, and Nigeria. The editorial goes on to praise Chriac for eschewing, throughout his career, Western Ethnocentrism.
If it's true, that Chirac, as host, included these countries because he so cares about non-Westerners, then why did he: support a regime in Iraq with weapons and money to brutally oppress its own people; handicap an inspections regime that could have avoided a war he so hates; invade the soveriegn nation of Cote d'Ivoire without any international backing or discussion at the UN; push the North Korea crisis onto the shoulders of America alone saying "it's your problem, bud," while the people of N. Korea live in the worst conditions on Earth?
Answer, Chirac doesn't care about anyone except his constiuents. He's brining in these countries because they are visibly opposed to the current US administration. The balance of power at the G-8 could be seen as tenuous with Italy, the US, the UK, Canada, and Japan on the same page, against Russia, Germany, and France. By bringing in countries sympathetic to his postion, Chirac can boost his powerbase at this important conference.
p.s. for a rough translation, go to //babelfish.altavista.com
Top 10 Impediments to Peace
A brilliant top ten list by Frank J.
I'm ... Persephone?
I'm not entirely sure what this means ... or why. But who am I to question fate, and the eternal wisdom of quizilla.
Well, at least I'm hot.
You are Persephone, from "The Matrix."
Tough cookie, you are, yet there are strains of
sadness and desire that lie beneath you- of
course, you wouldn't want anyone to know.
You're too busy putting up a facade.
What Matrix Persona Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
"When toilets are clean, people are happy and healthy"
That about sums up my view. Singapore will soon begin rating its public toilets. I think it's a fantastic idea. They spent time developing standards for the ratings, which would mimic hotels, and it shows. For example, "To received a five-star rating, a restroom has to have an especially well-designed layout so that traffic flows smoothly from the toilets to the sinks, ... It has to have a very good ambiance, probably with plants and pictures." Layout and ambiance - exactly what separates a good public restroom from a truly great one.
Women and Their Pants
Mswati, the king of Swaziland, has denounced women wearing pants as the root of all evil in the world. Apparently God frowns upon this sort of activity, but screwing 11 women at once is just fine. My take is that Mswati just wants women's clothing to be a little more easy access.
Truth as Defense
This is an odd story, one I haven't heard much about. The gist is that there is a woman, Katy Johnson, who is a two time Ms. Vermont, and a big social activist in terms of teaching abstinence and drug awareness to little children. Good for her. The only hitch is that there is a jackass named Tucker Max who is a sexual predator. Basically, he's an average male who admits to it. Mr. Max hosts a website where he recounts all of the stupid things he's done, and many of the women with whom he has had sexual exploits. Apparently Ms. Johnson is one of them.
She is suing to have him remove all comments and links to her website because it is a violation of privacy. Max's response is that people have a right to know about the private lives of public figures especially in regards to what they claim to stand for. Accordingly, Max says that Ms. Johnson is no representative of abstinence or sobriety. A judge has ordered Mr. Max to remove all remarks and links about Katy Johnson. I find this ruling highly suspect.
First, what about truth as an ultimate defense. Ms. Johnson isn't denying any of these allegations. She claims that it is an invasion of privacy, not libel. If it's true, Max should be able to write it. Particularly when it goes directly at the relevant character of a public figure pushing an agenda. This may seem odd that I would hold this stance seeing as how I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Johnson's public position, but I think that free speech shouldn't be abridged because it might hurt someone I agree with. As a person promoting virtue, she shouldn't equivocate in these matters. If the allegations are true, she should admit to them, say she learned her lesson, and move on. In fact, this could be an example of the bad side effects of getting drunk and screwing around. Not only do you spend the night with a nasty sub-human, risk STDs and pregnancy, but you also put your professional career and good name in jeopoardy.
Second, the idea that he can't publish true stories about his relationship with someone infringes upon his right to tell about his own life. The rulling effectively says that certain parts of his own life history can't be expressed. That's a horrible form of censorship.
In conclusion, abstinence and sobriety are laudable goals, ones that I adhere to myself. But so is free speech, especially when it's the truth.
Protesters Clash Amongst Themselves
The anti-G-8 protesters are so diverse, that they can't even agree with each other. You have to love it when the Socialists are considered too conservative and are violently harassed.
For anyone planning to travel to Chile, here's an idea. I don't know how "clean" the flight attendants are, though. I always thought the whole excitement about the mile-high club was the whole taboo aspect. If you pay, and that's the reason you're up in the air, I imagine it would diminish the excitement.
On this wonderful International Children's Day Yassir Arafat instructs children on how they can become good Palestinian citizens. I'm glad to see that he's finally gotten around to instilling such good civic values as dying for the cause. In this picture you can see a girl whose shirt appears to say "Freedom for Israel," but I assume that some other message is hidden in the folds.
Today, from 3-6, I'm going to go watch Bill Nye the Science Guy and someone high-up from SETI. The astrobiological society is bringing them to campus. Bill Nye was on "Almost Live," my favorite sketch comedy show from the early nineties. It was canceled rather quickly in it's national run on Comedy Central, and since has stayed on local public television in Seattle. Most people have never even heard of it.
After that, I plan on attending the 'Not in Our Name' anti-war protest set to take place from 5pm-midnight in Westwood Plaza. I'll do my best to engage some anti-war protestors and try to educate them in the facts of the real world.
My kind of protestors
Only Europeans would think: "I know, I want to protest something ... so I'll get naked." And we're supposedly the "little kids," who need to learn from our more sophisticated "elders."