Views from the Outside
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A place to ramble, cavort and endlessly ridicule.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Apparently...

...A last throe can last upwards of 12 years. So join up kiddies. It's almost over. Only one decade (and a bit) to go!


posted by Michael 10:10 AM . . .
. . .
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
First Time for Everything

My wife voted Republican... and I was glad that she did it. In our riding there is next to no chance of a democrat being elected. We're probably the token liberals in the entire neighbourhood. So primary season was today and we decided to vote Republican. Vote for the moderate against the ultra-conservative family first religious platform of the other fellow. Has it really come to this? The lesser of two evils?


posted by Michael 8:40 PM . . .
. . .
More Military Woes...

While the media briefly reported the flagging recruitment numbers there has been a complete silence on the ‘other shoe’ statistic that recently dropped. Retention numbers are also down. Not only is the military having problems finding new people. They are having problems holding on to the ones that they have. Re-enlistment is way down from pre war figures as people finish their (often extended) tours and then opt out of military life. Currently there’s an 8.7% opt out rate among lieutenants and captains, the highest attrition number since 2001.

Applications to WestPoint, the Naval Acadamy and the Air Force Acadamy are likewise down.

Looks like more and more people are saying "I don’t want to die in this war."


posted by Michael 8:39 PM . . .
. . .
Monday, June 06, 2005
All Volunteer Army?

Is it needless fear mongering to point out the failure of the armed forces to meet its recruiting goals every month this year? And May's numbers so bad that they have had to put off releasing them on time in order to try and come up with a spin for the public that doesn't make it seem like a giant disaster. Numbers being bandied about the liberal websites are 40% decrease. Around the conservative 25% decrease. Either choice isn't all that great and should raise a flag of caution and alarm.

So why the low turn out? Can it be that the Administration's efforts to promote a 'pay no attention to the war -life as usual" attitude has backfired to the point that people don't see a need to join up. The Administration keeps telling us things are going well. The fighting is over there. Nowhere near our backyard. There's no rationing. No war bonds. No real indication in the average American's life that there is a war going on at all.

I bet the same thing can't be said for the average Iraqi though which could explain why the 'insurgency' hasn't been crushed under heel and ground out like all the early pundits predicted (and all the military leaders said was a pipedream)

Or could the decrease in enlistment be the result of a growing consciousness and concern that the war isn't going as well as our leaders are telling us. As the truth slowly trickles into the collective understanding of the citizenry, is there a reluctance to take part in what is perceived as a more and more dangerous and untenable action? Every car bomb that explodes, every suicide bomber that tries to destroy a checkpoint, every spontaneous pitched gun battle in the streets of some Iraqi city is an exclamation point shouting that the mission has not been accomplished. And nobody is really certain what that mission is anyway.

We know that our government really really wanted this war. Read
the Downing Street Memo. Read Richard Clarke's book 'Against All Enemies'. Listen to the testimony of any number of people correlating this fact.

Didn't anyone ever tell Bush "be careful what you wish for"

Well we know that there isn't going to be a draft, right? I mean aside from the backdoor one that is keeping the volunteers on duty well after their terms have expired. The President has said so. The Vice President has said so. Any number of Republican leaders have assured us in no uncertain terms there will be no draft.

And assuming you believe them... what does that mean for the all volunteer army already stretched to its limits and not meeting its recruitment numbers? Can we continue with operations under these circumstances? The Administration has made clear that pulling out of Iraq is not an option. The military command has made clear that to succeed our commitment in Iraq will stretch upwards of two years of occupation.

Read my lips "there will be no new taxes."



posted by Michael 10:51 PM . . .
. . .
Sunday, June 05, 2005
This webcomic suits my twisted sense of humour...



posted by Michael 5:37 PM . . .
. . .
Seen on the back of a car...

Two bumper stickers almost side by side:
"We vote Pro-life"
"Guns Save Lives"

Well... it made me chuckle.


posted by Michael 5:35 PM . . .
. . .
Sunday, May 15, 2005
The Nuclear Option

Isn't the real nuclear issue that we should be focusing on North Korea? Bill Frist might have explosive flatulence but I think he's making an issue of something that is going to come back to haunt him. He says the vote on the fillibuster was going to be two weeks ago. Then the beginning of last week. Then by the end of last week. The beginning of this week. What does this tell me? That Frist isn't convinced that he has the votes. If he pulls the trigger and fails then there goes all his political capital.

Now -surprise surprise- I'm against changing two hundred years of senate tradition in order to push forward a questionable judicial agenda. But I also think that the Democrats aren't doing themselves any favours suggesting that they are going to fillibuster this and fillibuster that. Right now there's a lot of bi-partisan public support against changing the fillibuster rules but I can see that eroding as the media spins these threats into something larger.

Every time a bell rings and an angel gets its wings.

Well everytime a democrat mentions fillibuster somewhere there is a Bush hardliner salivating. It's practically Pavlovian.

Anti-Bush Site of the Day

.

posted by Michael 2:57 PM . . .
. . .
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Papers Please...

So two things of rather large import have happened since I went away to my in-laws for the weekend which just served to convince me further that my mother in law is a herald of doom and the dark prophetess of the Apocalypse. The passing of the national id card. And a federal court siding with United Airlines in saying that they didn't actually have to live up to any commitments they might have made to their employee by way of retirement and pensions. I think I'm going to start trying that. Ordering a lot of stuff C.O.D. and then taking the product when it arrives and refusing to pay. If it's good enough for a billion dollar corporation then its good enough for me!

The idea of a National ID card makes me profoundly uncomfortable. Especially if they add the RFID chips. Does the governement really need to know where we are at every moment? What sort of information will they want to encode into them? and how can they possibly safeguard our identities from capture from those that would use the information for ill? Sure... a lot of the information is already out there. Our SSN, D.O.B., vital statistics. But generally it isn't collected together in one handy place or broadcast indiscriminately waiting for someone with the right equipment to pull it out of the air.

More thoughts on the card after I read the Senate bill.

My Anti-Bush Site of the Day

posted by Michael 7:07 AM . . .
. . .
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Taken a Year Off...

But the blogging itch has returned redder and flakier than ever so I've just got to scratch. But what to talk about? And where to begin? Bill Frist seems like an easy target. Delay even moreso. Will Bolton be confirmed as crackpot to the UN or will republicans break from party line (also known as: the Bush line) and give voice to the non-partisan concerns that keep bubbling up like gas at an all you can eat tex-mex restaurant? Hey! There's a new pope. And even though he's 78... he seems absolutely spry in comparison to the man whose shoes he now needs to fill. Who cares if he threatened priests with excommunication if they broke their silence around the sexual abuse scandal? He can walk! He can finish his own sentences! Halleluhah!

There are students occupying the president's office at the University of Hawaii. There are students blocking army recruitment drives in High Schools across the country. There are students staging mock fillibusters outside the Frist Building. I view this wave of activism as something of a comfort.

Watch this space for further thoughts on politics, being a stay home parent and anything else that happens to come to mind.
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posted by Michael 4:51 PM . . .
. . .
Friday, April 30, 2004

Getting it straight from the talking heads
I don't trust the media. They are all spin machines set to in-sanitize. Fox News for all of its unabashed favourtism is at least honest in its bias. They are neo-conservative apologists and they make no bones about it. They don't try to dress up their 'fair and balanced' reporting with a semblence of neutrality. They are talk radio news and they know the audience that they cater to.

Unfortunately their audience seems to be in the majority in this country: the terminally stupid. The great mass that are just not interested that they are being lied to on a daily and dangerous basis by the people that are supposed to be looking out for the welfare of the country. They must be stupid because the alternative is just too frightening for me.

Does it really matter what Kerry did with his medals after Viet Nam? Isn't this an obvious diversionary tactic from speaking about the issues of today? Does it change the fact that Kerry was in Viet Nam while our president was using his father's influence to avoid the war and avoid the consequences of going AWOL? Does it change the fact that the country is now in a quagmire and leaking soldier's lives like a sieve? So why is the media focusing on the medal non-issue instead of going after the failed foreign policy?

Why are they giving air time to Ann Coulter who is not an expert on anything except saying inflamatory things of dubious truth? Aren't there expert sources they could be talking to instead?

I hate the media here. They are really stupid sharks in a perpetual feeding frenzy. They repeat the same stories verbatum with minimal actual reporting or fact checking. They propagate the idea that if you repeat the same lie long enough that it becomes true.

And we've been listening to those lies for a very long time.


posted by Michael 10:08 AM . . .
. . .
Friday, April 16, 2004

How Long Oh Lord. How Long...
It's been quite awhile since I've thought about typing in this sucker. My daughter is now a walking talking agent of chaos. (She's currently sick and throwing up all over the place which isn't fun -not for her and not for me. In fact its the exact opposite of fun. It's anti-fun.) US Politics is a field day for the liberal. Where does one start the mocking? So many areas to choose from!

Kerry was my last choice for the Democratic candidate. I admit it. I was a Dean person. And then a Clark person. And then a Dean/Clark person. Kerry really is Bush-lite. He's voted along Republican lines most of his time in the Senate. He belonged to the same "secret society" as Bush. He's not in the pocket of the Oil Barons but pharmaceuticals has him by the short and curlies. But then again he's not Bush so if I could vote I'd vote for him. Twice.

I love
Air America. Al Franken is as dry as toast. He's not a very good radio announcer but he's still saying things that I wish more people were saying. I wish more people were saying "Did you know if a soldier is wounded and dies in a hospital away from combat he's not counted as an official casualty?" Which means nobody in the States really knows how many soldiers have died over there.

Maybe he'll grow into the position with time. I've got my fingers crossed.



posted by Michael 9:36 AM . . .
. . .
Friday, December 12, 2003

Is anyone surprised...

Is anyone surprised that Halliburton has been overcharging the military for gas in Iraq? The very fact that they are importing gas into Iraq should have been the first clue that something was kind of fishy. Importing gas. Into. Iraq. You know that oil rich country whose oil revenues were supposed to fund the rebuilding effort for all the damage that we caused bombing them for weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist.

So Halliburton has been charging 2.20 a gallon for gas when local sources charge about 20cents/gallon (according to CNN) netting the corporation over 60million dollars in profit -a portion of which no doubt finds its way back to Cheney through his lucrative severence package.

The Democrats could run on just this government's corruption. But that would be negative campaigning. It's dirty pool to point out the lies and war profiteering of your opponent.



posted by Michael 11:16 AM . . .
. . .
Sunday, December 07, 2003
Nemo has been found!!!


posted by Michael 9:47 PM . . .
. . .
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

While the media has been dutifully reporting the number of casualties in Afghanistan (remember Afghanistan?) and Iraq they haven't been saying anything about the number of wounded in those two theatres for good reason. If the slow drip of pointlessly wasted life has such a negative impact on the Administration's support numbers imagine how much larger the outcry would be if the public was hearing about the 2076 wounded in Iraq since March 20th.

I know that numbers are spin, that statistics can be applied to show just about anything. I don't know if those numbers are high or low or somewhere in between but I do know that the media isn't reporting them.

You would think with the liberal media bias that such statistics would be gleefully hounding the Bush Administration but instead silence. Maybe the liberals figure that the 1-2 dead a day is enough of a stick to whip up the public outcry?

Check out
the numbers here. The site seems to be pretty well sourced and documented.


posted by Michael 1:41 PM . . .
. . .
Saturday, October 18, 2003
You want lies with that?

(image and caption blatantly stolen from
Hesiod)


So what's going on in the World of note...
I notice that the Bush administration has quietly stopped using the phrase "the roadmap to peace" with regards to the MiddleEast. A quiet admission that their policy has been a complete failure. As sympathetic as I am to the idea of a Palestinian state and as much as I view the policies of Israel as inflamatory and unwise when it comes to settlements and the Berlin Wall v2.0, I am slowly coming around to the idea that what really needs to be done is kill all the Hamas members. So here's my suggestion... stop shooting missles at cars. It's not very precise. It causes 'collatoral damage'. It is wildly unpopular with the foreign press. Instead, wait for the Hamas spokesperson to come before the cameras and then shoot them. When they send out another spokesman to decry the death of the first, shoot that one too. Continue until they stop sending out spokespeople.

How hard can it be to find these leaders? They are always in front of cameras giving interviews.

At the same time divert some of the millions and millions of dollars that the United States is giving you toward better housing and healthcare for Palestinians. Stop bulldozing down their houses. The tank on the streetcorner isn't doing anything to make anybody safer. Iron fist. Velvet glove. They've got the iron fist part down. They need to start making with the glove.



posted by Michael 11:03 AM . . .
. . .
Friday, October 17, 2003
Fake or not... who cares?

Like the Buddhist monks in Viet Nam, Canadian PrimeMinister Jean Chretien decided to make a public demonstration in protest against modern mediocrity by cutting off his own head with pruning sheers before a stunned press junket.



posted by Michael 8:58 AM . . .
. . .
Thursday, October 16, 2003
I Love this comic...

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction, Tanya.


posted by Michael 8:02 PM . . .
. . .
Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Who's the Man? Izzard may be the Man

And the new Doctor Who is Eddie Izzard (at least
according to Tom Baker and BBC News). This man is a comic genius and I don't doubt that he can pull off a very flamboyantly memorable Doctor. We just finished watching 'Circle' and while it was not as good as "Dressed to Kill" it was still really funny.

I hope someone carries the new episodes here in the States when they start in 2005.



posted by Michael 9:38 AM . . .
. . .

Sort of a Variation on SSDD
Just how desperate are they to put a positive PR spin on Iraq? They wouldn't stoop to fabricating letters from soldiers stationed in Iraq would they? Of course not. That would be dishonest. And the people that brought you Enron and Weapons of Mass Destruction would never do anything patently dishonest...

And yet how do you explain the identical letter appearing in different newspapers all over the United States purported to be written by different hometown heroes?

A Gannett News Service search found identical letters in 11 newspapers. They were signed by different soldiers with the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment.

Six soldiers contacted by USA Today said they did not know who wrote the letter but agreed with its message. A seventh soldier said he only learned of the existence of the letter when his father congratulated him for getting "such a good letter" published in his hometown paper.

I suppose
propaganda of this sort has to be excused. It must be hard to try and boost public support for the war in Iraq when those pesky facts keep getting in the way. Just waiting for them to trot out the happy smiling children waving American flags.

And much like the Wizard of Oz... pay no attention to the dead soldiers behind the curtain.

UPDATE: According to ABC the form letter from home was actually written by the commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Infantry Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Dominic Caraccilo. One soldier, who asked not to be identified, said he was reluctant to sign the letter because he did not agree with the comments in the letter but said he was ordered by a superior officer to sign. More info on the incident available here.


posted by Michael 8:55 AM . . .
. . .
Thursday, October 09, 2003

More fun facts from the Catholics
Condoms help spread AIDS... at least according to the Catholic Church.

"The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which the HIV virus can pass - potentially exposing thousands of people to risk. The church is making the claims across four continents despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to the HIV virus"

While I appreciate that the position of abstinence and condemning the use fo birth control is a matter of Catholic dogma, I'm pretty sure that lying is still considered a sin isn't it? Why make stuff up? Why not stick with "Use a condom and go to Hell!" It may not be a more defensible position but at least it's more honest.

You can
read the story here.




posted by Michael 12:54 PM . . .
. . .



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