frankilin roosevelt

It's not about being liberal or conservative anymore y'all. That is a hype offered by the fascist whores who want to confuse the people with lies while they turn this country into an aristocratic police state. Some people will say anything to attain power and money. There is no such thing as the Liberal Media, but the Corporate media is very real.

Check out my old  Voice of the People page.

Gino Napoli
San Francisco, California
High School Math Teacher

Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.

a middle-aged
George Washington

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Friday, 19 November 2004 at 2h 17m 2s

Killing them all

There was (or is) a group of tribes somewhere in New Guinea that had an odd cultural ritual which occurred every 100 or so years, once the tribal population outgrew the ability of the terrain to maintain their pig livestock. After 2 or 3 generations the number of pigs that have to be maintained gradually erodes the surface vegetation of the ground and the tribes go on the warpath. There is a bloody war and then the tribes live peacefully again, albeit with a reduced population.

I got this from an anthropological book I read about 12 years ago. Somewhere in one of my 9 boxes of books, this one book is sandwiched in between many other books, waiting for the day when I lift the book on top.

I wish I could remember more details, but the story struck me then, because it was about the time of the first Iraq war in 1990-91. I was in college at the time, reacting to the coming war. That was right after ole Herbert Walker Bush sent the military to grab Manuel Noreiga before he opened his mouth and talked about who was really behind most of the drug trafficking.

And now twelve years later we are in the midst of a much worse war. Our military is now killing a lot of people who happen to live in a country that has a lot of oil that other people want.

Oh don't give me that shit, yes, we are there because of the oil. There is a dictatorship, or a semi-dictatorship in every hemisphere and every continent. In North America, more closer to home, there is Cuba, Santo Domingo, Haiti, Panama, Guatemala, and El Salvador. When we invaded or abetted the coup d'etats in all of those countries, the goal was NEVER freedom or democracy, but economic stability and profitability. Back then the motivation to save our brown brothers was something akin to taking on the "white man's burden" -- having to kill the patriots of other lands in order to install a perceived stability.

But how stable have any of those countries been in the last 100 years?

So don't tell me we are in Iraq because of freedom, or to get rid of dictators, or anything but yet another in a long line of American invasions whose purpose is to create economic and political stability. Although the ideology might be righteous, the end result creates a chaos which renders an inevitable negotiation about what is called stability. Sometimes you need an iron fist who can put those insurgent patriots to rest, preferably an inside man who knows the names and nooks and crannies of the invaded nation. You just pump this man full of authority and cash, just like Great lords would nominate princes and vassals in the medieval period circa 900 A.D.

This has already happened in the middle east as the result of American foreign policy plenty of times over the last 50 years. In 1953, Iran's prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh was pursuing the cancellation of the oil leases to foreign companies and he intended to nationalize the oil industry. The history is somewhat complicated but to make a long story short Mossadegh was eventually overthrown by the CIA and the Shah of Iran was asserted. Iran created a legislature in 1906, and "he abolished the multi-party system of government such that he could rule through a one-party regime in autocratic fashion. The Shah called into life the secret police force, SAVAK." (from )

Over 20 years a virile bureaucracy viciously maintained the myth of the royal Persian kingdom headed by the Shah, that ancient lineage dating back far, far back to the 1950s when America gave him his crown. The sole resistence possible was through religion, and it was in response to the brutal regime that enabled the Ayatollah's to force the regimes collapse.

Would it that the US had just not interferred with Iran? Alas, the number of countries in the middle east (and Asia, Africa, and South America) that have been affected by active American foreign agents or funding is enormous. Saddam was aided by the US and supported in his war versus Iraq during the 1980s. Rumsfeld and the Reagan administration sold Saddam his chemical weapons. After the gasing of the Kurds incident, nothing was ever said by the same Republicans who now bellow and holler about gasing his own people. Cheney and Rumsfeld in particular. During Cheney's reign at Halliburton, he used subsidiary businesses with addresses in the Bahamas to do business illegally with both Iran and Iraq.

How can we have this degree of hypocrisy and still insist that we are creating democracy and bringing freedom to some place halfway around the world?

Thursday, 18 November 2004 at 4h 36m 28s

Thursday, 18 November 2004 at 3h 51m 40s

Alas, comments about the Election are long overdue

Okay, I suppose it is time that I comment on the last month. Yes I know Bush won, but is a 60 million versus 54 million really a solid mandate? Is it right to insist there be no consideration or compromise from 48% of the nation, just because your side got 51% ?

And yea, the House and Senate stayed in the hands of the Republican party, but 5 of the House seats came from the redistricted Texas congressional gerrymandering. In case you didn't know, after every census the state legislatures across the country draw new district lines of their state. So every 10 years, the state legislatures all meet and divy up the state in a certain number of districts. This is a partisan process, especially in large states that have increases in population ( like California or Texas.) Most of the time the districts are fairly divided along natural geographical or socio- cultural lines, as would not only be fair but also make sense.

Well Texas couldn't surpass the the partisan divide created by the party of the bug man Tom Delay and Texas Republicans. A federal judge had to create the new districts so they could be ready in time for the 2002 elections. When the Texas Republicans won a majority after the 2002 elections however, they decided it was time to redistrict the state again. This was an magnificent act. The changes are supposed to happen only once every 10 years after the census, not everytime one party gains control of the legislature. But then no one has to play fair, and since might makes right, the Republicans decided to change the rules.

This was the real story during the summer of 2003, not Kobe Bryant or the Peterson trial. The democrats howled and filibustered but eventually the vote had to come. State Troopers even went to the homes of the democratic legislators to make sure the democrats would drive to the legislature. So the democrats ran to Oklahoma and New Mexico for most of 2003 to avoid the necessary minimum number of state legislators to pass legislation. Tom Delay got homeland security forces to hunt the Democrats down and bring them to Austin in handcuffs. After a year long struggle however, one of the democratic legislators broke and showed up at the state legislature, thereby giving the minimum necessary legislators to enable a vote.

I wish I could make this stuff, but sadly, all of it is true.

Now you might think "so what," but how the lines are drawn are important. Say that, because of a population increase, two districts have to become three (one big Democratic district, one Republican district becomes three) If you can divide up a large democratic block into 3 pieces attached to large blocks of Republican voters, than you can take 3 Republican seats, and eliminate one Democratic seat. This is exactly what happened in Texas. If you look at the map the 2003 Texas Republicans created you will see incredible artistic renditions of what used to be simple rectangular blocks. There are curves, strange odd L shapes branching off of rectangles, dumbells, and unnecessary zig- zags. The reasoning for the map is only understandable once you concede that the objective was to disenfranchise the democratic vote.

Face it. These people are about grabbing power at any price.

I would also like to comment on the oddities of the votes. I suggest you read here what Stephen Freeman, a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote about the odd exit polls in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida.

Reich-wing media pundits have carped on the whiners about the exit polls. Let me explain. Exit polls have been used for more than 30 years for state, city, county, and national elections. Originally they were collected by a company and sold to marketing companies who wanted to know about the electorate. They have been used in Germany for more than 30 years to determine who wins the elections. In Germany, the votes are manually counted by civil servants in about 2 weeks, but they know who wins based on the results of the exit polls, and in 30 years the exit polls have never been more than 0.4% off.

NEVER. But lately the exit polls in the US have been off by 2 to 8 percent. This never used to happen in the United States either until the advent of the computerized scanners and voting machines.

Now look at the discrepancies between the exit polls and the final vote provided by the graphic below.

These polls come from 3 "sweeps" of the voters on election day, one in the morning, one in the middle of the afternoon, and one in the early evening. The voters are choosen by using a predetermined numerical order (every 5th voter for 3 voters, then every 7th voter, then every 6th voter, and so on ...) and a record is kept for each interview slot. Thus if someone refuses to be interviewed, a record is kept.

Much has been ballyhooed about the ridiculousness of this poll being reliable on the victor of the Presidential election, but in the same breath the poll is supposed to be reliable that 22% of the electorate said "moral values" were the reason the electorate decided to vote. It is true that polls have a margin of reliabilitycalled a "margin of error." But there are actually two types of sampling, and they each have differing reliability.

When you sample a population about what they intend to do in the future, or what they feel about right now, the sample itself is merely indicating that a percentage of people felt a certain way at a certain time for whatever reason. We cannot speculate on those reasons, nor can we guarantee that the stated intentions will occur in the future. Thus a "predictive poll" (an opinion poll) has a large margin of error, usually about 5%. Predictive polls have also been known to fail very badly.

Event sampling is much different however. These samples are of events that have actually taken place, thus the data is constant and will not change. The samples are small slices of the data that are presumed to have the same ratios as the real larger population. This kind of sampling has a very small margin of error, because there are no errors due to misinterpretation or a change in the future. So long as there is a big enough sample (3000 for a population of 20 million,) the ratios will be less than 0.5% off.

This type of sampling is so extremely accurate that businesses use it to assess the shipments of inventory they receive. General Electric ships millions of light bulbs at a time. It would be too costly to inspect every single light bulb. So the companies use "event sampling" to check if the shipment broke a lot of light bulbs.

I won't bother you with the sound mathematical reasons for this degree of accuracy. You can read the Freeman article from the above link. Instead I will share with you 2 analogies.

Analogy One Imagine rolling a 3 sided dice. If you roll the dice 3,000 times the ratios for the choices of 1, 2, and 3 would be 1 to 3, or 33.3%. So each number should have about 969 to 1029 tallies ( 32.3% to 34.3% .) Now as we know chance is quite an odd creature, and this type of randomness is really a model for the "predictive sampling" because what the dice does in the future is quite unknown. Thus when 38 or 29 percent occurs ( 1140 or 870) there is no immediate cause for concern.

But "event sampling" again is much different because there is no "unknown future" about solid accumulations of data. This idea of getting an idea about the ratio of the data is more akin to a process of finding the average of a group of numbers. This brings me to my second analogy.

Analogy Two Imagine a box with 1 million marbles, colored either red or blue. Lets say you closed your eyes, and while grabbing handfulls of marbles you selected only 3 at a time until you grabbed 1,000. This is exactly what an "exit poll" does, and is a good model of "event sampling." A good sample is about 1/1000 th of the expected population.

Here is the idea. The number of total possible combinations of 1,000 out of 1,000,000 are very great -- 1,000,000! / ( 1000! 999,000!) for those of you so mathematically inclined. But the ratio of those combinations that are within one percent is also quite large, and so the chance that a random group of 1,000 which has a margin of error greater than 2% is extremely rare.

So (according to the correct mathematics sourced by Dr. Freeman's article above) in the case of Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, the chances that the exit polls differed by 3.5%, 2.6%, and 3.3% respectively, these chances are 0.0008, 0.0028, and 0.0018 that any one shift could occur. The chances that they would occur together, you would get by multiplying the numbers, which is the extremely small 0.000000004032 -- the mathematical equivalent of impossible. This would be like randomly picking the right file out of 248 million. It ain't gonna happen.

Some pundits have blamed the scurrilous poll workers who avidly sought out Kerry voters, or over sampled women in the early votes. But again since records of all interviews is kept, this fault in the data is easily detected. According to the polling organization, the records however did not indicate a lot of denials. So the myth of Republicans not wanting to answer poll questions needs to be debunked. Democrats and independents might just as well deny to be interviewed, but in any event so long as the percentage of denials is not greater than half a percent, there would be no skewing of the results of the polls based upon denials.

The ignorant pundits who bellow this red herring do not know anything about the mathematics involved, or the experience of the professionals who know and understand polling and how to best select a sample.

There were plenty of other suspicious occurences on election day in New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Ohio. In Ohio, Republican lawyers questioned numerous voters on the validity of their registration and thus piled up 160,000 provisional ballots to be inspected and counted later by judges and civil servants. Certainly you don't expect Republican lawyers to delay Republican voters their right to vote. Long lines created by these tactics and insufficient machines, caused voters to wait 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and sometimes 8 hours in order to vote. At the University of Ohio, only 2 voting machines were available for a student population of 10,000. Thus, the votes that didn't occur because of inconvenience is in itself a manner of disenfranchisement. In New Mexico, poor spanish voters were given Provisional ballots at every opportunity. Keep in mind these Provisional ballots were created by the "Help America Vote Act" of 2002 have no solid legal guarantee of being counted. The act is purposefully ambiguous.

A state must have a system to determine whether to count each provisional ballot cast. While the precise details are not set out, the decision to count or not count an individual ballot must be made “in accordance with State law.”

Go here to read more about the "Help America Vote Act."

So, well, yea President Bush won. But this is like saying that after a 4 quarter football game that went into double overtime, your team won by kicking a field goal. And what if the other side lied and cheated their way to victory ? Would that be an indication of a victory for moral values ?

Saturday, 16 October 2004 at 2h 38m 52s

Letter to the Pacifica Tribune

It is simply unbelievable that proud Republicans can close their eyes and believe whatever they want in defiance of the truth, carrying on that tired banter of being ostracized by the propaganda of liberals and socialists. Whatever.

If this indeed is what "closet Republicans" think, than I guess that is a very dark closet. Do let a little light in so you can see the facts.

Bush has a plan on terror. It's called partisan politics, questionable audacity, and crony business ethics. Self-appointed moralists can decry all they want. There never were any weapons of mass destruction. The Office of Special Plans set up by Rumsfeld selectively doctored the intelligence before it ever reached the President. The neocon administration ignored all of the assessments of its generals about the number of troops and the logistics of the operation. Turkey decided it was not going to be bribed to allow a Northern base of operations. And what of the corrupt, brutal regimes of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan? Or how about the 10% of allocated funding that got spent on Iraq reconstruction? These concern legitimate reasons like lack of electricity, sewage in the water, depleted Uranium waste, and dilapidated buildings. But you see those lucrative profits of Halliburton subcontractors were more important than reconstruction and supplies to the troops.

Did you people bother to read the CIA assessment on the absolute failure of the war in Iraq? This is not failed intelligence people. This is called stupidity and arrogance.

Of all the people Ashcroft rounded up for terrorism, there has not been one conviction, and all of those released after 2 years in Guantanamo have been shown to be innocent. The Abu Ghraib prisons were housing random grabs of street teenagers, not terrorists. But public relations are more important than legal rights.

The conflict in Iraq is about a people angry that the neocons have the audacity to invade, appoint officials, promulgate their constitution, sell-off the economy to multinationals who are allowed to expropriate 100% of the profit, and then import cheap labor from Somalia and Nepal. And we are ruthlessly bombing the slums and cities, winning the hearts and minds of the people by killing them.

And now we have another ex-spy "prime minister" Allawi making a speech to Congress written for him by the speech writers of the Bush Administration. So we get rid of one thug merely to appoint another? Anyone ever heard of Noriega or Augustin Pinochet or the Shah of Iran?

Come on now. This is not propaganda. This is the truth, and with all respect, it is time to accept the truth instead of bashing one another with slanderous name-calling. Our country deserves better.

Saturday, 9 October 2004 at 23h 53m 31s

Philosophically rambling

So I found myself thinking about why the universe was round and whole and I came to this resolution, namely, that which each resolution comes another solution, but then what follows is something other than a rational universe, yet in the end there was but another solution, another illusion, another resolve, another time to wonder, another, another, and another.

It just didn't make sense after a while. But then what does. It was but one solution followed by another, simply the aftermath of what followed due to a decision.

But in that decision, likened close to the answer whatever it is that might become what would still be regarded as the final decision, and thereupon hung the nature of ones being, as if clung to the wall like ivy hoping the rains would come soon, lest they starve due to lack of precipitation. And of course, it was the precipitation that the decisions were after, the recourse of the respite, of the neverending rapture of what lay ahead. Tomorrow. There was always tomorrow.

And yet tomorrow comes, and there is another transition.

So therefore, in any event, lest we be resolved to dreadful notions, it seems that the evidence is rather conclusive that nowhere what may come in the way of circumstances, in the way of haphazard events, it was just plain that nothing was stronger that what was coming at you, when it comes, when comes down upon like waves of various amplitude, like light gently falling against the shadows, shedding another answer on just the other side of tomorrow, whereupon you had a glimpse for today, just a glimpse.

Just a glimpse, is that all we who are mortals can understand -- bloating however that glimpse out of all proportion to reality. Obsessed with our glimpses, we try to hasten our views upon the minds of others, who may or may not have any mental association with or perspicacity of these visions.

So we come to a shared understanding, by talking with one another, by getting to know those people whom we meet, so that we are not alone in that lonesome capacity of life's analysis, a task to which no one alone can hope to fathom or understand. We can only hope to come close to the truth when we take into consideration the perspectives of others.

This world contains a great myth about the greatest of the individual, when the individual is only a reflection of the society which produced the individual, because every individual is but the fragmented product of the world with which one interacts. Since we are proud creatures, we like to ascribe to ourselves too much talent when we are just blessed with the right psychic mix to meet the challenges of life. And at every step of the way, everyone is subject to constant challenges. There is never a moment when one can come to expect to escape the inescable human condition. Arrogance and hypocrisy can appear when that expectation arises, thereby protecting the self from self realization, but this is only an illusion.

Monday, 4 October 2004 at 7h 39m 37s

The first Kerry-Bush Debate in Miami, Florida

Here is a link to my navigatable transcript of the Bush-Kerry Debate on September 30, 2004 at the University of Miami.

Bush retorts to reiterating that he wants to go on the offensive. He touts "Prime Minister Allawi" for the ex-spy appointed by the administrative Iraq apparatus to be the new leader after the old appointed leader Ahmed Chalabi fled to Iran.

At times Bush scowled and sneered when Kerry spoke. When answering tough questions, like explaining about bin Liden, he literally glowered in disgusted, and appearred uncomfortable while hunched over the podium.

He kept talking about not sending "mixed signals" then said that we needed to stay on the "offensive" in the "war on terror," or that he would never shirk from "defending America." He reassured us that being President was "hard work" but neglected to mention that he has spent 40% of his presidency on vacation.

Excuse me, Mr. President, what I do as a teacher is very hard work, and although we get 12 weeks cumulative vacation as a teacher, even I do not get 40% vacation time -- which would equate to 21 weeks of vacation. In other words the President goes on vacation almost 2 weeks every month.

Not once did Mr. Bush even admit to making mistakes, even when asked point blank by moderator Jim Lehrer,

You have said there was a, quote, "miscalculation," of what the conditions would be in post-war Iraq. What was the miscalculation, and how did it happen?

to which Mr. Bush says :

No, what I said was that, because we achieved such a rapid victory, more of the Saddam loyalists were around. I mean, we thought we'd whip more of them going in. 

But because Tommy Franks did such a great job in planning the operation, we moved rapidly, and a lot of the Baathists and Saddam loyalists laid down their arms and disappeared. I thought they would stay and fight, but they didn't. 

And now we're fighting them now. And it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work. 

And I'm optimistic. See, I think you can be realistic and optimistic at the same time. I'm optimistic we'll achieve -- I know we won't achieve if we send mixed signals. I know we're not going to achieve our objective if we send mixed signals to our troops, our friends, the Iraqi citizens. 

We've got a plan in place. The plan says there will be elections in January, and there will be. The plan says we'll train Iraqi soldiers so they can do the hard work, and we are.

Do you hear a legimate explanation of why Mr. Bush said there was a "miscalculation" ? He goes on to cite that training of Iraqi troops is going on despite a recent report which said only 8% of the necessary were being trained BECAUSE RECRUITS ARE DIFFICULT TO FIND AND KEEP.

Then Mr. Bush finishes his explanation of the "miscalculation" quote with this :

It is hard work. It is hard work to go from a tyranny to a democracy. It's hard work to go from a place where people get their hands cut off, or executed, to a place where people are free. 

But it's necessary work. And a free Iraq is going to make this world a more peaceful place.

It is such "hard work" to appoint Lobbyists named Paul Brenner to Iraq spending the last year promulgating the Iraqi constitution, selling off Iraqi enterprises to multination corporations. It is "hard work" for halliburton to spend only $8 out of $118 billion available on reconstruction, and unable to account for $3.2 billion in costs. Make that unwilling to account for $3.2 billion, threatening not to pay subcontractors after the Army requested for the third time. All while only 25% of Iraqi sewage treatment plants are operational and electricity still only 18% of necessary capacity (4 hours out of 24 hours.) Depleted Uranium is everywhere along with food and medical shortages.

Currently the military is overstretched, and National Guard units are doing a large part of the Iraq operation than is warranted by tradition and common sense. The national guard belongs here in the United States guarding the nation, not supporting the military operation in Iraq.

This administration is not sensitive to the impression of imperialism in Iraqi. Creating 14 permanent military bases in Iraq, appointing and selecting the last 2 "prime ministers", and promulgating the current Iraqi constitution with laws that permit expropriation of 100% of all profits by foreign multinational corporations. What Iraqi nationalist can be pleased with the lingering resemblance to colonialsim? How can an Iraqi be reassurred that they are not merely trading one thug (Saddam Hussein) for another (Allawi, U.S. colonialism.) At least, we must acknowledge this in the realm of ideas for the average Iraqi.

Are these really a lot of ex-Baathists and Saddam loyalists? Or just a whole lot of angry citizens very angry about what's happening in their country?

Monday, 4 October 2004 at 0h 21m 5s

Two Human Traits

The mind is nothing but an imprint of what the surrounding environment has put upon it. This occurence is largely a matter of choice, but nevertheless still results from the largely uncontrollable experience of one's childhood years. No child ever has a choice as to what environment into which that child was born. However, at the same time, once adulthood comes, it becomes a little harder each time to excuse mistakes on account of the origin of environment.

There's no sorry to it. The art of blame comes in two flavors. Either you tend to blame others for your own faults, or you inflate your self superiority in order to compensate for your own inadequacy. On rare occasions, there is a person who embodies the worst of both traits. To be aware of these faults in our self psychology is the best possible to cure, for surely to exist unaware is but certain guarantee that we will plow forward with ignorance.

When you begin to blame others, when you begin to assess your own weakness in measure with a criticism of others, you begin to separate your self from self- awarenesss because you begin to allow an a minimal acceptance of your own fault in the events that were untoward. because we all have a fault in any relationship to which we accede. If a presumed friend does you some wrong, you were foolish to make an assumption. Rather than becoming angry, instead the most healthy response is to understand the cost of wisdom. You are learning the strengths and limitations of all those people whom you encounter. The only certainty is your willingness to learn and be flexible.

The other psychosis which arises in the human condition, is that which props up that hubris of superiority, or what is otherwise known as arrogance. This originates as a primative defensive mechanism, whereby one is enabled to avoid insecurity by reassuring oneself of one's mastery or superiority. But this yields the ultimate delusion, because all other points of view can thus be decimated by the belief in one's own superiority.

Pity for the unfortunate possessor of both these traits, the individual who both blames the world and inflates the notion of self, for this person has escaped all potential for shame. One who seeks blame as an escape will become confronted with that weakness's misnomer : responsibility. One who seeks to elevate one's esteem, will reach a point where an inhibition to admit fault crosses the uncrossable line of self-respect. When the two traits merge into one, a certain guilelessness awakens in the monstrous ego which cannot recognize honor nor respect the humility of shame.

All of us are guided by the desire to attain our fanciful illusions. We live our days in pursuit of these unquantifiable resolutions. Meanwhile we can never be free of our childhood insecurities, and however infrequently we are reminded of them, they nevertheless reappear. It is during these reappearances that we develop the traits of a lifetime. Do we permit ourselves to blame, or do we protect ourselves with the assurances of our own superiority?

Or do we seek to hear the silent whisper that is wisdom?

Saturday, 25 September 2004 at 21h 58m 45s

A Polite Discussion with some genuine Republicans

Today there was a group of Republicans tabling at the corner of Fillmore and Sacramento in San Francisco. I tried very hard not to approach them, but after an hour my will broke down. There were three people, an older black woman who said she had a small business. She wore a red business vest and struck me as very sincere. Another women was a dental student at the local dental school, who plastered a non-moving smile on her face as if in rigid self-assurance. The third member of the trio was an older white man, with a grey beard who hardly spoke.

I approached the black woman and asked where she was from. She is from Southern California but has been a resident of San Francisco for 25 years. I asked her to tell me why I should vote for the Bush-Cheney team in 2004.

The first issue was national security. I mentioned that not one penny has been spent securing our ports, chemical, and nuclear facilities. Then I mentioned that the administration has wasted a lot of resources on the way it has managed Iraq in the last year, hiring multinational corporations to do the business native Iraqi's could have done and hiring Somali's and Indians for cheap labor instead of local Iraqi's. Then I mentioned that very little of the funds for reconstruction has been spent, and said that I did not believe the Bush administration has any credibility on National Security.

The next issue she brought up was fiscal responsibility, which is unbelieveable. I was calm however. My intention was to be polite and informative. I asked about the latest figures on the deficit and the federal debt, then I mentioned that we only sustain this debt burden thanks to China and Japan's willingness to buy our debt bonds, and that the pressures on the bond market are going to increase interest rates. I next mentioned that 18% of businesses with a yearly revenue of 10 million have 50% debt burdens, which means that they will be squeezed with the inevitable rise in interest rates. Then I mentioned that it was fiscally irresponsible to offer 2 extensive tax cuts in lieu of this debt burden.

She mentioned that she benefited from the Bush tax cut. I agreed that targeted tax cuts are beneficial, but that Bush said in his 2000 presidential campaign that "by far the vast majority of my tax cut goes to the middle class." Now in my mind the vast majority means more than 50%, which is a far cry from that fact that only 16% of the total tax cuts went to those with incomes less than $200,000. 66% of all owners of small businesses have incomes less than $200,000, only the top 10% has incomes greater than $200,000. I then said "If you are going to make a statement in a campaign, you need to follow through when you are in office, and that is not what happened."

A young teacher approached and we got into the Leave No Child Behind Act. I called to attention the item in the law which makes it law that all high schools must give names of students to military recruiters unless the parents sign a form. It was agreed that the law was in need of help. I mentioned that the administration has not spent all of the money that was authorized, up to an aggregate of 32 billion over the last 3 years.

At this point, the young teacher mentioned that she just wanted to get a few stickers to put in her classroom so she could have both sides represented. The dental student began to face me with her changeless smile. I mentioned that she smiled a lot, and she just said that was because she was a dental student and had to practice showing her teeth. So I asked her if she also listened while she was smiling. She said sort of, but then said that she had a different opinion. I said that the issue wasn't a matter of opinion. I mentioned plenty of facts and I would be willing to listen to her refute them.

So she says that she didn't think government should get involved with social services.

Wait, I replied, are you saying that the education of our children is a social service, and that education is local controlled and is not the same thing as the government. Education in the United States grow at the local level and has always been supported by local taxes. The problem is that not every district has a strong local tax base, and so not every school district is equally funded. Most schools don't use Title One funds, but those districts that do are the very poor school districts who don't have a strong local tax basis.

The dental student mentioned that it should be handled at the states. But the states don't have the money, I said. (The black lady almost cut me off to say the same thing, but let me speak instead. I think she was the only one who really listened to me -- but again I reiterate that this was a very civil, peaceful discussion.) Only the federal government has the resources to deal with this problem. That the Bush administration has decided to underfund the Leave No Child Behind Act is an indication of its priorities. You can upgrade the standards and not help fix the problem. If you have a rusty car, you can't pass the inspections unless you fork up the money to repair the engine.

The older man with a beard than said that they were of a different opinion. I again stated that I respect their right to have an opinion, but still, I just wanted to hear a reason to vote for the Bush-Cheney ticket and so far I have not been convinced. As regards having an opinion, I have stated a lot of facts and would be more than willing to hear you refute these facts.

But at a certain point you have to let it go and move on. The trio of genuine conscience Republicans were uncomfortable with having a discussion. They seemed fixed to a set philosophical prescription, so I made my graces to leave. I said I didn't want to give them any trouble, and said that I was glad they were out hear expressing themselves. I thanked them for being kind enough to talk with me and shook their hands. It was truly a beautiful experience, because all of us had a sophisticated level of respect.

This kind of civil discussion is what democracy is supposed to be about. All too often our society gets the false impression that having a different opinion is more important than having an open discussion where people can agree to disagree. The whole point of democracy is to be heard, not to insist that you are right, but to make sure that all points are available to be expressed. When you listen to only one side of an argument you become blinded by the inherent imperfections of one set of observations. An opinion only becomes refined when it is viewed or challenged by a different perspective. Which is why I like to engage in these polite conversations, because I want to hear other points of view. How else is one to know how other people think if they do not allow themselves to listen to what others think?

Saturday, 25 September 2004 at 7h 25m 11s

The reign of paranoia

Why is the Bush administration and Dick Cheney in particular so negative and terrorism-on-the-brain minded? Why accuse and talk negatively, and resort to talking about rosy untruths in order to speak positive? At least Herbert Hoover merely had to worry about the woosy economy, not the failed foreign policy and national policy initiatives made by an administration that has spent 4 years blaming everyone but themselves.

You see, George W. Bush doesn't make mistakes. He miscalculates, and then continues making the same mistakes.

But then ... according to Bush (source)

"The government of prime minister Allawi has earned the support of every nation that believes in self-determination and desires peace," he said. "The UN and its member nations must ... do more to help build an Iraq that is secure, democratic, federal and free."

Playing down the instability and huge loss of life of Iraqi civilians and US soldiers, Mr Bush said: "Not long ago, outlaw regimes in Baghdad and Kabul threatened the peace and sponsored terrorists ... Today the Iraqi and Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom. These two nations will be a model for the broader Middle East."

Warning that there would be worse days ahead, Mr Bush conceded that "we can expect terror attacks to escalate" as elections approach in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he vowed that his mission was "not to retreat, it is to prevail ... We will be standing with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq until their hopes for freedom and liberty are fulfilled."

Coming the day after Mr Kerry, accused him of "stubborn incompetence" and "colossal failures in judgment" on the war in Iraq, Mr Bush will have been acutely aware of his domestic audience.

Then mister Bush starts criticizing Kerry because he doesn't become infatuated with ex-spy now prime minister Allawi, next in kin to the old house-nigger Ahmed Chalabi, that old sycophant who grew fat on the government payroll for the last 20 years as the nominal head of the "official" Iraqi exile group -- for 100,000 dollars a month.

Meanwhile Cheney is busy going from undisclosed location to another telling the nation that Kerry will result in guaranteed terrorist attacks. Yet the same Cheney who as prior head of Halliburton still earning $100,000 per month in deferred salary -- in order to avoid taxes -- condescendingly said in the 2000 debates with Senator Lieberman that he never earned a dollar from the government in order to castigate the senator democrat as the sloth on the government dole, while Cheney, the great bastion of integrity earned his millions as an independent business person.

Now of course it would be ludicrous to assert the known facts that Halliburton gets its contracts completely from government, via defense contracts. That would be not only absurd, but unpatriotic, so I must refrain from saying that.

But going around and making inneuendoes denouncing the integrity of the opposing candidate has become the norm. Maybe it's an indication that the stakes are too high. Dear God I hope this is high enough.

Saturday, 18 September 2004 at 0h 4m 29s

War as a tool

Have you seen the latest piece of sarcastic wisdom on the back of a car bumper? While driving down Divisadero Avenue, I saw the most memorial epitath of bumper sticker-ism since I saw "There's a terrorist behind every Bush" on the back of an old faded-purple volkswagon bug. This bumper sticker was on the back of an expensive new black Lexus.

Except for ending Slavery, Fascism, and Communism, war has never solved anything.

Frankly I was struck immediately with the audacity of this ignorance. While presuming to speak on a higher moral ground, this syllogism has distorted the past with a skewed observation of the present.

Because of the ambiguity, and the fact that war has no adjacent adjective, we have to assume that the statement discusses both the war on iraq and the war on terror. In either case, the logical assumption of the statement is not only inappropriate, but completely ignorant of any contemporary historical context. As the old military adage goes, we are fighting the wrong war with the tactics of the last war.

Slavery was a social condition that evolved from the decision of aristocratic landowners to import black laborers to perform agricultural labor in the new world. After 230 or so years, the American social-economy had evolved to an impasse. The civil war was a result, not a solution. The incorporation of the ex-slaves, the issues of black civil rights lasted another 100 or so years. The process did not have to begin with a war, and could have been legislated, as was the case in England and Brazil ( although to be fair, Brazilian emancipation occurred in a different background, with more violence, including the creation of an independent nation of ex-slaves in Bahia.)

Nevertheless, to say or imply that the civil "war" solved slavery is ridiculous. The solution, if that is what we are to call black civil rights, took another 100 years, after the carpetbaggers, the Jim Crow laws, sharecropping, the Ku Klux Klan riders, the lynchings, the separate but equal laws, and the poll taxes.

The word Fascism used by the bumper sticker must be construed to mean Hitler and Japan and World War Two. Certainly we can't say World War One, because that war would be a perfect example of war's potential for folly and bumbling stupidity. But the sticker wisdom infers that any war is justified on account that war is often the only solution. World War Two consisted of two world governments on a rampage of nationalistic military conquests aimed at world domination. War was the only choice, not a solution. What the hell else were we too do.

World War Two doesn't deserve to be the bastion of justification for stupidity that it has become.

Communism was never Russian ideology taking over the world. War did not defeat communism anyway. After the end of the old colonialism before World War Two, the developing world was in a moment of transition into a shift of global power. The social disruptions that became civil wars in the rest to world were merely pawns in the new global power players. The places where "communism" took root longer than 50 years (China and Russia) were also places with an ancient tradition of bureaucratic centralization of authority. The moniker of the word "communism" ignores the historical tradition of political bureaucracy. The very notion that war ended communism disguises the foreign policy decisions that are involved, namely what government to support and where the support of government ultimately resides.

Assassinating an elected socialist leader, replacing the government with an unelected military government using military units trained in the United States, is not a war against communism. It is a military takeover.

Supporting corrupt governments, providing ammunition and military weapons to the dictatorship in the interest of centralized government is not a war against communism. It is a military dictatorship.

And the presumption that we "won" the cold war is only an illusion. Now that we cover the entire globe with military bases, more than 140 in all, we have made investments that have negligible economic value, and have actually diminished our security. How many other nations in the world have anywhere near that many bases across the globe?

Centralized despotism evolves new descriptions as time passes. Caesars, Kings, Lords, despots, dictators, fascists, and tyrants do not need modern fancy terminology to describe the same results. Communism by another name is not something that got defeated by this mindful policy called war. Russia and China simply evolved into new relationships with the global world, and so to the United States. Not because of this policy called war that was a solution provided by the United States.

War is more unavoidable, than it is necessary, and it is really the only choice rather than a foreign policy tool. A society that uses war as a tool has lost sight of what real foreign policy choices have been made, and what choices there actually are that could be more effective.