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, 10 December 2004 at 5h 5m 50s

The Bushites and the con game

It has been some weeks now since I last wrote a letter to the editor. I did not bother to respond to the four or five letters of criticism that followed that last letter. There was no need to defend myself to persons who would never listen, given that how they responded was indicative of their ignorance. You cannot reason with people who like to believe they've made up their mind about something and cannot admit that they might not be accurate or correct in their assessment.

They believe differently, and they can't explain how or why, but you who have a valid disagreement are still wrong, simply because you don't believe the same thing. It is really that simple.

One thing I have learned in the last 10 years : you do not have to respond to criticism. The truth, wherever it may be, cannot be proven. That might be hard to accept, but in the realm of ideology, proof is whatever you cling to that justifies what you want to believe. Occassionally, the weight of evidence causes the roof to cave in, but when the capacity to believe what you want still exists, people will take the evidence that points in the chosen direction. Some of us don't like the shit to stack too high before we start cleaning house; the rest of us are just full of shit. Accept this, without emotional reaction, and move on.

That being said, I am still amazed at the silly audacity of what suffices for a rebuttal. One man, named Steve Smith lambasted me because I attached my public title. He commented that he stopped writing letters but decided he'd make an exception for me. Funny that Mr. Smith is actually a regular letter writer, who only 2 weeks ago published another, in what was probably his tenth this year (out of 52 issues, 20 percent.) Me, I've sent 2 all year, and both were published.

One fellow said I was a perfect example of why public schools are destroying education, and then said that he would vote no the next time a public vote on school bonds was held. I thought that was funny.

I was told how off base I was. One of the writers mentioned the Buffalo 6 in rebuttal to my statement that "not one conviction" has occurred against any terrorist despite being held in Guantanamo for 2 years. If only this writer had done a google on the "Buffalo 6" and he would have found that the conviction was thrown out. This writer no doubt watched the puffery on corporate television and thought he got the real scoop. When the television that brought him his reality stopped telling him the story, he kept that initial vision of reality in his mind, frozen like a 2 year old steak in the freezer. And still he wants to cook me that steak and call it substance.

The criticism I have concerns the way the Bush Administration is handling these terrorists. Why do real terrorists like Saudi's get to leave the country without inspection, but we quickly arrest 6 fools in Buffalo who happen to be in a mosque that was used by a terrorist agent as a recruiting ground. Why does the Bush administration blow the cover of 2 (yes, not one but 2) undercover agents who are involved in rooting out terrorists? Why does the Bush administration spend 200 billions on the Iraq debacle, but nothing, not one cent, on beefing up protection in the United States? Why aren't the ships and plane cargo inspected? Why aren't the nuclear plants guarded?

If indeed, this truly is war on "terror," how come the homefront is not protected? Why are the FBI and homeland security using the Patriot Act to investigate peaceful groups that have nothing to do with "terrorism" when that was the reason why the Act was passed in the first place?

Remember those Anthrax letters addressed from Iraq. The entire Congress had to vacate because of those letters.

Another man accused me of being mean and out of my mind. He couldn't believe that what I said might be true, like it is somehow my fault that he is not paying attention. All you have to do is watch the TV and believe your armchair philosophy is applicable despite historical fact. But then facts are just concoctions of the vast liberal conspiracy that owns 95 percent of all media.

This other man called me a mean spiteful person, and then said I called him names when I said "this is stupidity and arrogance" while referring to the Bush administration policy. The Bush con is that Iraq is due to a "failure of intelligence" which is a pile of shit higher than a Haight-Ashbury hippie. The Bush gang did what they wanted to do because they have a vast hubris of infallibility, aka stupid arrogance. I was not referring to people in the audience of readers as "stupid and arrogant." Anyone with a fair mind could understand this, but this is just the ole subconscious ploy of moral distraction. You can't handle the argument, so you castigate the appearance.

Or as I've heard on the Bill James show, "If you have the facts on your side, you bang on the facts. If you don't have the facts on your side, you bang on the table."

Friday, 3 December 2004 at 2h 32m 19s

Today's daily philosophical ramble

These days we live in a world of an arrogant and powerful aristocracy. There are plenty of fawning followers who collectively make cconsiderably less money than any ten of the dominant families. There are plenty of the less than powerful who still hope for fame, wealth, or power but are content to merely get by day after day. Sometimes power is obtained through psychological means, whereby one person guilt-trips another, knowing there is line of control in that small special domain. Wealth by itself is not necessarily the creator of a baneful mentality, much as fame does not necessarily accrue to those who are truly talented nor to those who strive -- although the loudspeakers of corporate media do tend to fawn over those who are willing to inflate themselves like bouncing balloons for the national cameras.

No it seems that mentalities are randomly dispersed among the panorama of wealth and power. There are massive accumulations of interacting members of the rich and powerful, but this is merely because those who are willing to strive and sacrifice their integrity will tend to fill the ranks of the rich and powerful, unless they are there by birth. Of course there are countless exceptions, but the exceptions do not defy the averages. This is the inherent state of mankind at this stage of population growth. This is the result of a world in which anonymous people perform tasks and control aspects of life and society in total ignorance of the lives of those whom they affect. A certain perspective of one's rank and position becomes more relevant than the actual reality of that rank and position, which is the breeding ground for hubris and vouchsafed arrogance.

Thursday, 2 December 2004 at 2h 39m 34s

Steam that consciousness

Sometime in the future you should try this. Don't bother to think about what words flow out of your stream of consciousness, and just allow yourself to ramble. The point is to not care what words you say, and just let yourself grab whatever words float to your mind.

The amazing thing is that your sub-conscious will innately create something. Try it. Write down what words come to mind if you care to do so. Once the mind is allowed to flow like an opened faucet, the mind is automatically spilling what is quite natural to its existence. This is the idea behind meditation. Your mind produces thoughts automatically. You don't have to try to have a thought, because the mere process is itself a thought. What you call yourself is nothing but a long history of compiled thoughts by which you have come to understand both yourself and the world in which you exist, albeit affected by the other phenomenom and people in your immediate environment.

So when you let it rip, the results can be rather interesting, and often revealing.

The blue coat was next to a bird which had nothing but songs to sway the abuse of a hot sun that was the afterthought of some long extravagent winter when everyone was next to impoverishment in their relationship with the ethos of wonder.

-- you see what I mean.

Thursday, 2 December 2004 at 2h 25m 31s

That word, socialism, why is it misused?

One thing that really irritates me occurs whenever I hear or read someone of self-proclaimed conservative bent misuse the word "socialist." The word is usually uttered in the pejorative sense, in order to disembowel something they dislike by hinting about something akin to a government bureaucracy . You talk about nationalized health care, and the idea is labeled as "socialism" or "socialistic."

Honestly however, I don't think such a person really understands what the word "socialist" means, or what "socialism" is -- and is not. And what then, could the adjective "socialistic" be, in this already befuddling context.

That's why I think it is high time for a spotlight on definitions.

First, let's go look up the words socialism and socialist in a dictionary. How about

so·cial·ism n.
1.)Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
2.)The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved.

so·cial·ist n.
1.)An advocate of socialism.
2.) A member of a political party or group that advocates socialism.
3.)Of, promoting, or practicing socialism.
4.)Socialist Of, belonging to, or constituting a socialist party or political group.

so·cial·is·tic adj. Of, advocating, or tending toward socialism     

The key component here is the first definition, by which "socialism" is a"social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy. "

How is nationalized health care in anyway related to a centralized government planning and controling the economy? Here we are just talking about paying for the medical treatment of all the citizens of the United States with taxes, sort of like a national insurance premium that pays the medical bills. The only thing centralized is the bank account where the funds are kept. All decisions are made by doctors and hospitals across the country. Government regulators and auditors ensure safety and pursue fraud, not plan or control the economy.

Calling nationalized health care "socialistic" is equally flawed, because it is not "tending" towards centralized planning. Local communities make these decisions in conjunction with the hospitals, doctors, and government officials. This is how America works. People are invited to discuss what is in the best interest of the community, and decisions are made. Sometimes this simply makes economic sense. All of us, companies and businesses and workers and citizens, all of us are held hostage by insurance companies and the privatization of health care for profit.

If people want to say this is somehow socialistic, then I think they really only indicate a certain disposition favoring profit and individualism at the expense of the society as a whole. People are not fully comprehending the meaning of the words they use. They are reacting emotionally and using words like a philosophical salve for ignorance.

Wednesday, 24 November 2004 at 1h 33m 2s

Martha Stewart, the scapegoat for herr Bush

One of the students in my 6th period class mentioned the name of Martha Stewart when I was presenting them a problem involving 2 investments in securities. Two unknown amounts of investment A & B purchase 2 types of securities ( 8% and 10%) with the intention of earning $30,000 in yearly interest, and the restriction that the amount invested in the high risk 10% security is only 1/3 rd of the more stable 8% investment. While the students were copying down the word problem I explained securities to the students as a contract where you buy someone's promise to pay you a certain percentage of the investment every year.

So of course in the mind of said student, Martha Stewart was the image that floated to the top. I think the comment was literally something like "you mean, like Martha Stewart."

What I find to be a shame concerns how little people understand about why Martha Stewart was sent prison, and also how ignorant most people are about our current president's own rich 12-plus-year past as a CEO of three shady oil exploration firms.

In 1990-91, Dubya Bush was a chairperson of the finance board of Harken Energy. During his duration at Harken, Dubya was privy to the various economic shenanigans that came to be "Enron-esque" and "Anderson-like" in the financial scandals summer of 2002. In order to conceal its losses, in 1989 ( attribution )

"The company's executives decided to sell Aloha Petroleum Ltd., a chain of Hawaiian gas stations, for $12 million to a group of investors that included Harken's chair and one of its directors. These Harken officials paid $1 million in cash and gave Harken an $11 million IOU for Aloha, a transaction known as a seller-financed loan. Although there were no payments scheduled on the loan for years to come, the company — in an Enronesque move — posted a $7.9 million current profit on the sale. "

Now Bush was a member of the finance committee, so either Bush knew, he wasn't at the meeting, or he was absent -- but these were the years when Dubya was supposed to have been a born again sober man.

You can consult the same site to learn about how Dubya himself was involved in an insider trading deal.

In 1986, Bush borrowed approximately $96,000 from Harken to purchase 80,000 shares of Harken stock. This loan was part of a generous stock option program that was available only to the corporate brass. Harken did not require repayment on the principal for eight years and charged Bush only five percent annual interest, well below the then-prevailing prime rate of 7.5 percent. You probably could never secure such terms for your home mortgage or any other loan. To secure the loan, Bush pledged the 212,000 shares of Harken he already owned, in addition to the 80,000 shares he purchased. In 1988, Bush borrowed another $84,000 from Harken to purchase an additional 25,000 shares of Harken stock on similarly favorable terms.

In 1989, according to the New York Times, Harken released the original 212,000 shares as collateral from the 1986 loan and removed "any personal liability to [Bush]" on that loan. So if the value of the 80,000 shares dropped to less than the amount of the loan, Bush would not lose a dime, since all he had to do was return the collateral — the 80,000 Harken shares he had purchased. Indeed, Bush later returned the stock he had acquired through the insider loans, whereupon Harken cancelled the indebtedness....

What exactly was the problem with Bush's sale of Harken stock?
The controversy centered around the fact that he sold the stock shortly before the company announced major losses; after that announcement, the stock's value dropped by more than half. Here is the chronology according to various reports:

June 6, 1990: Bush (who was at the time on Harken's board and a member of its audit committee) received the company's "flash report," which according to the Washington Post, predicted second quarter losses in the neighborhood of $4 million.

June 8, 1990: According to the Los Angeles Times, Ralph Smith, a stockbroker, placed a "cold call" to Bush offering to purchase his Harken shares. Bush said he would reply within a couple of weeks.

June 11, 1990: Bush attended a meeting at which a representative of Harken's audit firm, Arthur Andersen, warned of a loss that "could be potentially significant." Although no amount was specified in the meeting, the auditors indicated that the losses would surpass the $4 million forecast in the "flash report." (In fact, Harken would ultimately report a loss of $23 million.)

June 22, 1990: Shortly after getting the transaction approved by Harken's lawyers, Bush sold 212,140 of his 317,152 Harken shares for $848,560.

July 10, 1990: Under SEC requirements, this was the deadline for Bush to publicly report his sale of the stock. He failed to file the report until March of 1991. For reasons Bush has not explained, although he signed the form, he did not date it.

August 20, 1990: Harken publicly announced second quarter losses of just over $23 million. The stock, which had opened at $3 per share, closed at $2.37.

August 21, 1990: Despite the losses reported the day before, Harken's stock price rebounded to $3 per share. However, the overall trend was downwards, and by the end of 1990 Harken's share price had dropped to $1. (Today, Harken's stock trades for about the price of a candy bar on the American Stock Exchange.)

Bush was investigated by the SEC, but was handled with kid gloves. The final report did not however exonerate Bush, despite his false claims that he was "vetted." The final SEC report on the transaction merely notes a close to the examination, and explicitly states that "it should not be construed" as a statement that no wrongdoing took place. The SEC just stopped investigating. Dubya's daddy was president at the time, and it was already bad enough that Herbert Walker's other son Neil Bush was running away from a bank scandal involving illegal loans at Silverado bank in Colorado. It was bad for the party to have that kind of publicity.

So wait, Bush was a member of the CEO, with stock essentially given to him by the corporation?

What about Martha Stewart? What did she do? One of my students asked me that question, because the name Martha Stewart may be known, but not the details.

Martha Stewart sold 4,000 shares (not 212,140, a la Bush) on ImClone stock based on a tip from a friend that the company was tanking. She only owned the stock. She was not a member of the board, and so, unlike Bush, she did not participate in the day to day financial operations of the company. No one loaned her the stock. She was an independent investor, not an inside trader, because she was not on the inside. Someone passed on a tip.

Interestingly enough, Martha Stewart was not even sent to prison for a year for insider trading. ( from the Cato Institute )

James Comey, the federal prosecutor behind the Stewart case, says he went after Stewart "not because of who she is but because of what she did." But that's hard to believe given the audacious legal theory Comey used to pursue her. Comey didn't charge Stewart with insider trading. Instead, he claimed that Stewart's public protestations of innocence were designed to prop up the stock price of her own company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and thus constituted securities fraud. Stewart was also charged with making false statements to federal officials investigating the insider trading charge -- a charge they never pursued. In essence, Stewart was prosecuted for "having misled people by denying having committed a crime with which she was not charged," as Cato Institute Senior Fellow Alan Reynolds put it.

Did you get that? This is called burning the barn down so people won't notice the burglars in the main house.

Tuesday, 23 November 2004 at 2h 39m 40s

The invasion to depose a despot in perspective

So how many places on planet Earth is the US military not located? Whether as advisors, military base hands, or actively involved in brigades or regiments, the US military is on every continent and every ocean of the Earth. The French, Spanish, British, Portuguese, and Dutch all had "possessions" across the globe. Britain, France, and the other European powers certainly carved up Africa into slices and pieces of political ownership over a period of two or 300 years. The customary method of rule was to appoint local dictators or strongmen supported by military police, but their were notable exceptions. Africa since the colonial revolutions of the 1960's has been a sea of military dictatorships, coup d'etats, and civil wars largely because of the way the military history of the colonial era.

So why do we think a military solution will bring democracy now, while we try to snuff out those scurrilous "insurgents" in Iraq? When the war is over, the need to continue the use of the military means the war is not really over. However, lets briefly analyze the history the last couple of wars.

In Persian Gulf War number one in 1991, when the US coalition pulled out, Saddam was allowed to fly military helicopters fly over rioting Shiite and Kurdish cities and kill the "insurgents." The war was officially over, but the quelling of the populace was not, and thus the fight between the government and the "insurgents" continued.

The 9 year Iran and Iraq war in the 1980s was never more than a bloody stalemate that drained the resources and populations of both. The United States decided to supply military weapons and biological weapons to Saddam in hopes that he could agree to a pipeline to the Mediterranean. Members of the Reagan administration were also making deals with the Iranians, selling them arms and then siphoning off the funds into the drug market to raise funds that were supplying the Nicaraguan contras. The Contras were paramilitary squads trained at the school of the Americas in South Carolina. These were operatives who assassinated nuns and priests because of their political involvement. They would pose as ordinary citizens and wiggle their way into the bureaucracy. And they were trained in South Carolina to do this in Nicaragua.

But Nicaragua was communist. Daniel Ortega became President after the horrible dictatorship of Bautista as a member of the communist party.

But I veer off course. All these wars or military political involvement had a beginning and an end. We are not fighting insurgents in Iraq because we necessarily want a free Iraq. We are killing those people because we do not intend to leave until Iraq has a government that we want. We got involved on both sides of the Iran-Iraq war because it was in our best interest that the 2 nations fight each other. Don't be so naive if you think otherwise. The members of the Reagan administration didn't like the government of Daniel Ortega, and was willing to fund internal "insurgents" to destabalize the government.

Now if you take the tack that we were fighting "communism" or justifying our involvement because we were ensuring freedom, those ideals are quite nobel and you should be commended. They are not the results however of our involvement. Daniel Ortega was a native historical figure responding to a historical event in the wake of the fall of the Nicaraguan Baustista dictatorship. He is like a Robert E. Lee rising to the occassion, except the American civil war was more militaristic. What would Americans think if Britain invaded our country because Lincoln won the Civil war, or if London trained and supplied guerrilla units in the five years after 1865?

Can we really be so blinded by patriotism that we cannot see the hypocrisy?

Vietnam? when did it start? when did it end? The Vietnamese rose up against the French after World War 2. The US gradually go involved since the mid- 1950s, getting to the peak of 1968 when "over half a million US soldiers were deployed and US casualties ran at over 1,000 a week." (attribution) The war never really ended, but rather gradually disentegrated as the South Vietnamese were slowly left to implode into abject corruption from 1973, until Saigon was overrun by North Vietnamese tanks in 1975.

After the Korean War, a fortefied barbed wire wall divided the country into 2 waring camps and 2 divergent economic systems. Once again, the response was of native origin. It is arguable that the post-war boom in the South Korean would not have happened had the Northern Communists not been beaten back by the American troops. But now we have a country brutally divided for 50 years, and no solution in sight. There are still 37,000 US troops stationed at bases in South Korea.

To discover more about US troop deployment from 1950 to 2003, see the report by the Heritage foundation here.

To read about the American military bases around the world, see the military's own center here. At this time there are a lot less than there used to be in the 1980s during the Reagan military buildup. The First Bush administration and the Clinton trimmed the number of bases in the world, to reduce costs and become more efficient.

The United States began obtaining bases when Hawaii was annexxed and the Spanish-American War enabled the United States to form protectorates over the Phillipines and Cuba. The civil war in the Phillipines against the American soldiers were still killing American soldiers until 1914 or so, even though the "splendid little war" (as it was called at the time) putatively ended after only 3 months, when Spain surrendered. Yet in both Cuba and the Philipines, both overthrew dictatorships created and abetted by the United States. So what exactly is the history of United States involvement in the affairs of other nations, save Germany and Japan ? In both those nations, we maintained troops peacefully after the armistice to World War Two was signed. Yet both nations had already created a native republican type government, albeit both were hijacked by nationalist rulers bent upon using the military in pursuit of global conquest. These is not a comparable examples. The armistice was signed by distinct representative of 2 nations.

We are not repeating the noble creations of post-war Germany and Japan. We are not fending off a Northern military from taking over the south. We are not even kicking the butt of a weak European power, so that we can takeover and promote the government of our choosing. We went in and took out the dictator whom only 15 years earlier we supported while pursuing our national strategy of foreign policy. We didn't support an internal milita to have a coup d'etat, which has been done before by many nations. We just did what Stalin did after World War Two, sending into East Europe to ensure the political leadership of post-war Europe; or what Japan did in Manchuria; or what Caesar did in Gaul. All the reasons were noble, yet essentially militaristic. The security of the invading nation was at risk. Those Eastern European nations could cause Russia to disentegrate into ethnic pieces (as was eventually the case.) Japan could not have an unfriendly Manchuria on its borders, and needed reassurance. And the Romans could not afford a fiesty independent-minded Gaul on their Northern perimeter, and thus they must be bludgeoned into submission.

Or perhaps the Hapsburgs battling the patriots of the Netherlands in the 1600s would be a good analogy? The armies of the emperor invaded Holland and deposed the government, because of the heresay of the protestant religion rising up and creating a Republican monarchy.

If the issue is terrorism, it seems to me that there are better ways of fighting and corraling the ability of terrorist groups to function. If the issue is about oil, the invasion to secure the oil contracts is a poor response to a problem that can only be handled effectively with conservation and alternative energy sources.

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.