Third Party & Independents

Critique the Message, Not the Messenger
August 2003 Archives

August 28, 2003

Industrial-Strength Stupidity In America

Now that the speculation on the cause of the blackouts seems to be abating in the mainstream media, I wanted to bring up a topic of concern regarding what has become an epidemic of short-term thinking in America. The cause of this lies with ignorant stockholders who seek quick profits, and the CEOs and boards that are willing to sacrifice the long-term viability of a company to them.

The cause of the blackouts is clear, there was inadequate investing in infrastructure and monitoring. The effect of the blackout was a loss of billions of dollars and trust in a matter of days. Months of cumulative overtime had to be paid, PR campaigns that will undoubtedly be run, and possible lawsuits. The shock waves of red ink is already leaving many in the energy industry reeling. So why didn't anyone foresee this?

» Continue reading "Industrial-Strength Stupidity In America"

August 26, 2003

GOP Raising Funds via Offshore Workers

The theory of trickle down economics and tax cuts for the affluent was that American business would grow, and new American jobs would be created. The GOP has, in a sly manuever to elicit fun-raising services from a telemarketing firm in India, shown that such theories and philosophies are merely the gaseous stench of corruption. The stench of course is not limited to Republicans, Clinton himself was party to this type of economic bait-and-switch, endowing China with most preferred nation status, removing trade restrictions (via GATT and NAFTA), and a marked increase in H1-B visas. Albeit without the obvious pandering to business in the form of tax breaks. Is trickle down economics a misnomer? Shall we call it what it really is: table scraps economics?

Iraq War Over?

Today, the number of post-Iraq deaths surpassed the amount of fatalities. Even as George Bush, on May 1, assured the country and soon-to-be widows that major combat operations had ended, fatalities have become nearly a daily occurrence. In recent weeks, the drumbeat of destruction has been loudest, and crescendoed recently with the bombing of the UN building in Baghdad.

White House officials claim that these acts are to be blamed on Saddam loyalists. Independent journalists from the New Yorker (August 4th), on the other hand, have uncovered a more complex motive for the attacks. Through interviews with Iraqis, they have discovered that the majority of Iraqis see themselves at war with both the old regime (Saddam loyalists) and the occupying forces (Coalition of the Willing). Ironically, as remnants of the old guard are flushed out, the focus of attacks has increasingly turned on American and British troops (and other outsiders).

August 25, 2003

Ashcroft's Albatross

A spectre is haunting Attorney General John Ashcroft. Indeed, it's been haunting all of America since October 26th 2001, when it was passed with a hush and a murmer by the fear-stricken Democrats and Republicans in both Houses, and signed into law by the president. It's the far-reaching Patriot Act. Since then, many have taken the time to read the fine print (and between the lines) of a set of laws that effectively stripped away the 4th (search and seizure), 5th (self incrimination), 6th (due process, speedy trial, confront accusors) and 7th (trial by jury) Amendments. And their anger has begun to weigh heavily on Ashcroft's neck and shoulders. He is currently going on a public tour in support of the Act. An editorial, Conservative Backlash, has noted that it's denunciation is no longer a liberal cause, but that conservatives are also joining ranks in their common disgust.

Martin Plan: A Blueprint for MIddle East Peace

I go on the record as stating that I think the quagmire currently swallowing the Middle East in a cesspool of senseless violence and childish thinking, is fault of both sides. That being said, I believe the Palestinians, led by Yasser Arafat(?) and Mahmoud Abbas—also known as Abu Mazen—shoulder a far greater proportion of the blame than do the Israelis at this point. The Palestinian people had peace in their grasp back in January 2000, but they had a fool representing their cause before the world. He blew it and the violence continues apace.

» Continue reading "Martin Plan: A Blueprint for MIddle East Peace"

August 22, 2003

Judge Moore Suspended

This just in: Alabama's (clueless) chief justice was suspended Friday for his refusal to obey a federal court order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of his courthouse. I say here, here! It is comforting to know that Judge (and I use the term loosely) Moore is alone in his elementary interpretation and understanding of our federal constitution.

In God We, ahh... Well, Most of us... Trust

There's a First Amendment battle brewing, and it involves Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, The U.S. Supreme court, and a granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments, in front of a courthouse. The scene is reminiscent of a movie in which Charlton Heston, in a dingy robe and sandals and sporting a white beard, screamed that those monkey people should keep their damn dirty hands off his stone tablets, or something to that effect (in my version Heston then busts out an Uzi and goes all NRA on the primates). In the world of Justice Moore, he too is yelling at the monkeys, and waving his Bible high above himself in order to smite down the unbelievers who would dare ask him to remove his precious rock.

» Continue reading "In God We, ahh... Well, Most of us... Trust"

August 21, 2003

The Roadmap Takes a Very Wrong Turn

Who could have predicted this?

The Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have called off their ceasefire after an Israeli missile strike killed a Hamas leader in Gaza City. This after a Palestine suicide bomber killed scores of Israelis (and others) in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the attack did not mean the end of the roadmap, but doesn’t it? With neither side willing to truly compromise, the Roadmap to Peace(?) really never had a chance to succeed, and now it is just another in a long line of failed proposals. And the Bush Administration seems ambivalent, at best, to the entire situation, unwilling or unable to make the really hard decisions that would move the process forward and put an end, once and for all, to the bloodshed. Action on the part of the U.S. needs to go beyond mere rhetoric to a solid plan of action that draws the surrounding countries into roadmap.

» Continue reading "The Roadmap Takes a Very Wrong Turn"

What it Means to be a Moderate

For a while, I've been kicking around a few drafts on why I am a moderate, or more specifically, why I'm not a Republican or a Democrat. Though I do agree with many points that both sides come up with, I am loathe to associate myself with either party simply because of their corruption. I will say it now for the record, Clinton was corrupt, and Bush is corrupt. It is disturbing to see how one side will bully the other when they are in power. And when out of power, will cry loudly that it is unfair. This is a farce of democracy, and unfortunately, Bush himself has unveiled plan B, which is to turn America into a single-party system (no doubt the Democrats would have done the same). The tactics are straightforward and simple, bully the opposition until they are assimilated or give up. This is why I'm a moderate.

On a related note, Betsy R. Vasquez, of ModerateIndependent.com, has written an excellent editorial in the same thread: Changing The, "They Both Suck, So I Don't Vote" Equation. I stumbled across the site today and was exhilarated to find a very large gathering of like-minded folks who are willing to expose corruption, without reservations associated with partisanship.

Remember, Bush won't be president forever, and a Democrat may wield those same executive powers (PATRIOT, PATRIOT II, VICTORY) that will cause Republicans to cry in dismay.

August 20, 2003

Georgy's Slashdot Interview

She's the California gubernatorial candidate who's working the geek appeal. Georgy Russell was recently asked a few questions by the visitors to Slashdot, a website who's motto is "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters". The questions range from policy specifics, to musing the favorite interview question: "Vi or Emacs?" (both are Linux text editors). Georgy shows that she's a crowd pleaser by responding "both", though more specific ruminations on her campaign could be gleaned from her campaign site. Georgy is running as a Democrat and lives in Mountain View, CA.

Blackout no Excuse to Quell Parking Tickets

Through rain or shine or sleet or snow, and now blackouts: NYPD traffic-enforcement will ticket your delinquent automobile. As private citizens a few car-lengths away directed traffic for those trying to snake their way off the island bereft of voltage, a bureaucratically-minded city employee abstained from responding to their heed to help direct the snarl of vehicles. Instead, giving a dry look and an uncaring cold eye, he placed parking tickets under the wipers of cars, and drove off. Ironically, his vehicle was directed through the same intersection.
---
11:58 AM - I wanted to add that I think a just and appropriate punishment for this person would be reassignment to directing traffic for a month at a very busy intersection.

August 19, 2003

Who is Arianna Huffington?

Who is Arianna Huffington, the woman who would be governor of the state of California? Herein lies (almost), all you ever wanted to know about the articulate flip-flopping, handsome woman with the Greek accent, who lives in an estimated 7 million estate in Brentwood California. Would she make a better governor then the current embattled Gray Davis? I certainly think she would make a better governor then the (overly) popular Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has yet to spell out in any significant way his position on the problems vexing the state.

Huffington sponsored Websites:

LATimes Feature Articles:

August 18, 2003

Clark Talks the talk, but will he walk the walk?

CNN's "War in Iraq" section has an interesting article about ex-NATO commander Wesley Clark and his possible run for POTUS. Like other political candidates for the top spot, Clark has laid down some harsh criticism on Bush's Iraq policies:

"We've [US policy in Iraq] made America more engaged, more vulnerable, more committed [and] less able to respond," he said. "We've lost a tremendous amount of goodwill around the world by our actions and our continuing refusal to bring in international institutions."

Another Texas politician also received criticism from Clark; Tom DeLay's (R-TX) patriotism is called into question through the hypocrisy he has shown in selectively supporting the troops:

» Continue reading "Clark Talks the talk, but will he walk the walk?"

Posted by Lefty at 3:09 PM

August 15, 2003

Power Outage Traced to Dim Bulb in White House

by Greg Palast

I can tell you all about the ne're-do-wells that put out our lights tonight. I came up against these characters -- the Niagara Mohawk Power Company -- some years back. You see, before I was a journalist, I worked for a living, as an investigator of corporate racketeers. In the 1980s, "NiMo" built a nuclear plant, Nine Mile Point, a brutally costly piece of hot junk for which NiMo and its partner companies charged billions to New York State's electricity ratepayers.

To pull off this grand theft by kilowatt, the NiMo-led consortium fabricated cost and schedule reports, then performed a Harry Potter job on the account books. In 1988, I showed a jury a memo from an executive from one partner, Long Island Lighting, giving a lesson to a NiMo honcho on how to lie to government regulators. The jury ordered LILCO to pay $4.3 billion and, ultimately, put them out of business.

» Continue reading "Power Outage Traced to Dim Bulb in White House"

August 14, 2003

And the Candidates Are...

Three-hundred, fifty? Two sixty-seven? One three five?

It's a number that has been difficult to pin down, and will probably continue to move slightly throughout the news media until an authoritative reporter can compile a complete list from the election bureaucracy in California. That will probably take a week or so given the national attention to this recall/election. I was able to get a list for WatchBlog with 135 names on it and broke it down into party affilliations and listed everything alphabetical. There isn't much more to say about any of these candidates that hasn't been said so far, so this will just be an informational breakdown of the certified candidates (the number is expected to rise slightly, of course). Of note is that the third largest party is actually no party; they have registered as independents (little "i"). Angelyne (of L.A. billboard fame), Gary Coleman ("What-chu talkin' 'bout Willis?"), Leo Gallagher (if you are in the first row of his campaign rally, bring a plastic rain-coat) and Arianna Huffington (co-host with Bill Maher) are all running as independents.

The complete list (with contact information and ubiquitous websites) can be downloaded in PDF format from the California Secretary of State website.

» Continue reading "And the Candidates Are..."

August 13, 2003

Warren Buffett to Lead Schwarzenegger Financial Team

In an announcement today, Schwarzenegger has wooed Wall Street billionaire Warren Buffett and cast him in the lead of his financial strategy team. From the Reuters article:

The announcement pairs a movie star completely untested in politics with a Wall Street sage who is the world's second richest man.

"He is truly a giant in the world of finance, and he will be a huge help to me as we work to strengthen California's economy," Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

"Warren is helping me bring together a world-class team to assist me in addressing the problems and challenges facing businesses, investors and job creators in California," he added. "Warren has a common sense approach to business issues and an integrity that is unmatched. That's the same way I want to approach governing."

I think Arnold just found a stable election platform.

White House to Appoint Controversial Scholar Amid Criticism

The man is Daniel Pipes, a scholar who warned in advance of 9/11 about the threats of extremist Muslim groups and festering hatred in the Middle East. Pipes is being appointed to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace directly by the Bush Administration. Several vocal Democrats and Muslim groups have denounced the appointment, claiming that Bush is stacking the committee with partisan politics that would cripple peace initiatives.

Pipes has backed ideas such as racial and religious profiling and surveillance of mosques. He has been derided by Democrat Sen. John Kerry, who said Pipes' "record and experience do not reflect a commitment to bridging differences and preventing conflict" and urged Bush to "find someone better." The Council on American-Islamic Relations chastised Bush and called the appointment "a defeat for democracy and an affront to Muslims, Arab Americans and all those who seek peace."

While the critics are against the appointment in general, the disturbing aspect is Bush slighting Senate approval by making the appointment during a Senate recess (the Reuters article mentioned that Bush has done this with most of his controversial nominations). Bush is also on vacation during the month of August.

August 11, 2003

Don't believe the hype

Is the circus in California another example of the "liberal" media doing everything in their power to ensure that the conservative wins?

In this case, I don't think so. It's a spectacle, it is ratings. While the second allegiance of the media is to the right, the first is to the ratings, which means dollars. Which is why the quality of media coverage, particularly in politics, is so bad. On the rare occasion when they aren't skewed to the best interests of the corporations that own the media, they are pushing a conservative agenda and demonizing not only liberals, but moderates as well.

It strikes me as odd how little attention moderates get in the media, when in reality they likely make up a larger portion of the public than either leftists or rightists. I suppose that again it has to do with ratings. Centrism isn't exciting. It doesn't generate ad dollars. It doesn't make ratings skyrocket. It would be honest and accurate for media to present the news from a centrist position, and would by doing so be equally fair to those on the left and the right. But it won't make money, and I guess that's all that really matters.

Posted by rev_matt_y at 12:36 PM

August 10, 2003

Iraq Threat was Exaggerated

"[I]t would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges. It stretches the imagination to come up with a way. I do not know any real centrifuge experts that feel differently." Said by Houston G. Wood III in late 2001, an alumnus of Oak Ridge, and founder of the Oak Ridge centrifuge physics department. Experts like Wood were sidelined and ignored during the build-up to the Iraq War. They argue that the facts were egregiously manipulated and played on public ignorance instead of relying on scientific reality.

» Continue reading "Iraq Threat was Exaggerated"

August 8, 2003

Bush is looking through a glass darkly!

The Accidental President is looking through a glass darkly if he sincerely believes that Iraq is more secure now than the day the 3rd Infantry Division’s mechanized juggernaut first rolled through the shattered Baghdad streets. Safely ensconced in Crawford TX, with the “good old boys” of his administration, Bush, when asked about American progress toward quelling the violence in Iraq and returning the country to a sense of normalcy offered only this,

"This is our 100th day since the major military operations have ended… [a]nd since then, we've made good progress. Iraq is more secure. The economy of Iraq is beginning to improve.

» Continue reading "Bush is looking through a glass darkly!"

Activist sent to Federal Prison for 1yr

"Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure." Thomas Jefferson wrote that in a letter while in Paris about his present state of American democracy to William Smith. Yet, a mere two centuries later, repeating his statements and ideology could land you in federal prison. And it has cost Sherman Austin of RaiseTheFist.com, one self-proclaimed revolutionary his bodily freedom for one year, and political freedom of speech for three years.

The synopsis of Austin's crime is linking to sites that contain information on building bombs. Federal proscecutors argued that his political beliefs were the violent overthrow of the government, or a revolution combined with information on how to acheive it. Austin's account and rebuttal of the case (lots of comments) can be found on RaiseTheFist.com's website. Extrapolated within reason, this case lays the foundation requiring political journalists to navigate a political minefield when reporting terrorism acts and U.S. policies. For example, any site that has information on weapons (e.g. - CNN's article on the risks of building dirty bombs and the difficulty in acquiring material), combined with an acerbic or dissenting viewpoint of the government's policies (e.g. - a CNN article on the U.S. helping Saddam in the 80s) could be grounds for proscecution.

So watch what you say, the First Ammendment is officially abridged. Is it going to get better? Apparently not (a Q&A concerning Patriot II).

August 7, 2003

Political Implications of Statistics

National sentiment depends not only on the state of society but on people's perceptions of this state. A troubling piece by PBS NewsHour economics reporter Paul Solman hints that the unemployment rate (already a statistical construct to begin with; notice the seasonal and retroactive adjustments) may seriously underestimate the true level of joblessness. He says:

2.2 million more Americans are getting disability than in 1982. Like discouraged workers, they’re also out of the workforce. If they weren’t, David Autor (PDF )thinks disability alone would add considerably to today’s unemployment rate. And then there’s prison. In 1982, about ½ million Americans were behind bars. Today, the number is above 2 million… So, not only do the incarcerated make today’s unemployment rate for men seem lower than it should be because so many more of them are behind bars, they may suppress the rate for years to come by becoming disproportionately discouraged workers once they re-enter society.

» Continue reading "Political Implications of Statistics"

Posted by rjnagle at 10:24 AM

Whatchu Talkin 'bout Arnold?

It used to be that the State of California was a leader in political sway in United States Federal elections, and even influenced the tone of the political parties in the other states. Now, the State of the bear has become a political joke. But it is still, like in the past, setting the tone for other states to follow, and allowing them to fall in line to become a joke as well.

» Continue reading "Whatchu Talkin 'bout Arnold?"

Posted by Beau Wade at 12:28 AM

August 6, 2003

Amateur Hour

The California recall is of course top news. If you are reading this site, you're probably familiar with the basics. Conservative Republicans, in the form of Darrell Issa, have decided that since they lost the election last year fair and square that they'd just demand a new election. How Comintern of them. Granted, Davis has been about as great a leader as everyone expected, which is to say he lived up to his campaign promise of "I'm not much, but at least I'm not the other guy". I question the legitimacy of the recall effort, but this being modern American politics the only thing that has any legitimacy is cash, and Issa funded the recall effort quite gladly.

And oddly enough he feels that the best person to replace Davis is... Darrell Issa. This reminds me of Dick Cheney's months long search to find the perfect Vice Presidential candidate to run with GW Bush, and realized that the perfect candidate had been himself all along. Entertaining, disingenuous, and yet somehow sort of pathetic. Why not simply say "I think I'm the best" and dispense with the transparent dishonesty?

Is this really what our founding fathers wanted in our political process?

» Continue reading "Amateur Hour"

Posted by rev_matt_y at 10:01 PM

Huffington in, Springer out, Schwarzenegger: who really cares!

Its official, Arianna Hunffington, the virtual co-host of satirist Bill Maher’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO, is running for governor of the embattled state of California. Speaking in Los Angeles this morning, Huffington stated,

I'm not, to say the least, a conventional candidate…[i]f we keep electing the same kind of politicians, we'll never get out of this mess.

Meanwhile, Jerry Springer has decided not to run for Senator from the State of Ohio. Citing concerns about his image stemming from his less then upstanding talk show, Springer stated “I can’t do it at this time.” Pity for those of us who wanted to see American politics sink even lower into the pit of mediocrity!

One more tidbit of note: it is now an open secret that Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to bow out (today as a matter of fact) of the governor’s race in California. Too bad, I was looking forward to hearing what the bodybuilder turned action hero, turned political wannabe had to say about the mess brewing in the nation most populace state.

The Trouble with Clarence Thomas

As the debate rages on in the Senate concerning the fitness of certain neo-conservative Bush nominations to serve on various federal District Courts and or Courts’ of Appeal, one that got by in the eighties, quietly serves. The Washington Post recently ran an involved article on Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, which shed new and disturbing light on the man, who according to some, might well become the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The article only served to solidify my opinion of the man as out of touch with most of Americans in general and Black Americans in particular.

Flynt to run for CA Governor

Larry Flynt, the man behind Hustler, Barely Legal and a cadre of other porn industry names under the monolith that is known as Larry Flynt Productions, is running to become the replacement governor of California. In a Los Angeles Times interview, Flynt said "California is the most progressive state in the union. I don't think anyone here will have a problem with a smut peddler as governor." The San Francisco Chronicle has a more in-depth article.

Flynt is running under the Democrat ticket and has a sordid history of being a pseudo-champion of women's rights. Information about Flynt's candidacy and his standing on issues can be found at his website, LarryFlynt.com.

August 1, 2003

Two Parties and Health Care

After listening to the candidates (at least those that have prayer of nomination) I have to admit some real frustration with what I'm hearing on the subject of health care. In the recent issue of Action for Universal Health Care, the Chairman of Ford Motor Company states "The U.S. health care system is the only employer based health care system in a major industrialized nation." He goes on to state "there needs to be a national solution to the problem of rising health care cost and without such a solution, Ford will be unable to compete in the global market" (Norris, Detroit Free Press, 5/31).

It seems that the candidates on the Democratic side only want to tinker with the existing system. The same can be said of the known quantity on the Republican side. I will submit that we have to stop tinkering and look to a total remodeling job of the system. The question is, is their enough will in the electorate to drive any candidate in that direction? It requires resisting a lot of money from companies that have a lot to loose. Even more important, it requires the electorate to become involved. It has happened to some degree at the state level in places like Maine. Personally I hold little hope of a viable candidate getting the job done. What say you? Should we concentrate on the state or the federal level in this area as concerns candidates? Which has the better chance?

Posted by rfrandsen at 10:41 AM