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Mike the Usurper
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"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ" --Gandhi

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -Theodore Roosevelt

"A little revolution, now and then, is a good thing." -Thomas Jefferson-

"In my lifetime, we've gone from Eisenhower to George W. Bush. We've gone from John F. Kennedy to Al Gore. If this is evolution, I believe that in 12 years, we'll be voting for plants." -Lewis Black-

"When you're born in the world you're given a ticket to the freakshow; when you're born in America you're given a front-row seat. And some of us in the front row have notebooks and pencils." -George Carlin

Condition: Orange
Topic: Current Events 2:11 am EDT, May 21, 2003

Well it's that time again. Time for John Ashcroft to look like he's doing something (or is it Tom Ridge in charge of these things now? I can never tell they look the same, although my guess is that Ridge isn't as inept as Ashcroft) and we're now back to condition Orange.

How we got there looks something like this. 18 months ago 19 guys demonstrated just how much of a joke US airline security was and killed over 3000 people. If their timing had been better and their aim, they could have killed 25,000, and I think that's what their target number was, but they're terrorists and pretty much botched it. This is not to say what happened wasn't bad, but that it could have been much much worse.

Somehow, this national tragedy catapaulted a man singularly unsuited for such a job into the role of national saviour. And watching GW Bush at the National Cathedral, all I could think was, he looks like a televangelist. He's wearing this powder blue tie, and sounding like he's about to call for an amen.

Fast forward to now. We've spent billions of dollars bombing Afghanistan, and failed to find the person who was behind the airplane attack. We have spent billions more and alienated every other first world country with the exception of Great Britain removing from power someone who there is no question was a despot, but obviously without any idea how to fill the void left by removing him.

In the meantime, nothing has been rebuilt in Afghanistan, which may actually be in even worse shape than when we started (brutal theocracy vs brutal tribal warlords?) and the Iraqis are even angrier. The oil fields are safe, but we can't seem to figure out how to do basic things like provide water and electricty in places that, before we sent in the tanks, had them.

To put this another way, we kicked the Taliban out of Afghanistan and left it to the warlords, and have kicked Saddam out of Iraq, but what's showing up there now looks surprisingly like the Taliban. I'm not saying we should have left these guys where they were, but it seems to me that a good rule for foreign intervention, and one that we only followed from about 1940 until 1953, and even then we managed to slip up pretty often, is the first rule for doctors, "do no harm."

So now, the guys we didn't catch have blown up a bunch of buildings in Casablanca and Saudi Arabia, and now I can't park my car at the airport? How does this make anyone safer?

Allow me to pose another conundrum to you, since I'm talking about airports. Rather than spread things out and so minimize the damage if it does strike, the current idea at airports seems to be to concentrate people as much as possible. I don't want to give the people who would actually like to do harm any ideas, but the way security at US airports is run right now, we've made them even better targets than they were before.

I'm all for security, but the fact that the chief law enforcement officer in the country got the job because he was unemployed after losing an election to a DEAD GUY tells me that the standards are way too low.

And if "Condition: Orange" tells me anything, it tells me not to fly anywhere because getting to, from, and around the airport is too much of a hassle and even more dangerous than without it.

Dividend Voodoo (
Topic: Business 1:29 am EDT, May 21, 2003

When Warren Buffet, formerly the richest man in America (he's down to #2 on the list at 30+ BILLION dollars) says this...

] Now the Senate says that dividends should be tax-free to
] recipients. Suppose this measure goes through and the
] directors of Berkshire Hathaway (which does not now pay a
] dividend) therefore decide to pay $1 billion in dividends
] next year. Owning 31 percent of Berkshire, I would
] receive $310 million in additional income, owe not
] another dime in federal tax, and see my tax rate plunge
] to 3 percent.
] And our receptionist? She'd still be paying about 30
] percent, which means she would be contributing about 10
] times the proportion of her income that I would to such
] government pursuits as fighting terrorism, waging wars
] and supporting the elderly. Let me repeat the point: Her
] overall federal tax rate would be 10 times what my rate
] would be.

I certainly hope someone is listening.

Dividend Voodoo ( Technology | Microsoft admits Internet Passport was vulnerable
Topic: Technology 5:12 pm EDT, May  8, 2003

And now for all you techies...

] by typing a specific Web address that included the phrase
] "emailpwdreset," he could seize any person's Passport
] account and change the password associated with it.

And Bill Gates wonders why people don't trust Microsoft. Might it be that there are gaping holes in every system to come out of Redmond? I really want my financial and personal information in .net now! Technology | Microsoft admits Internet Passport was vulnerable

The American Experience/Presidents/Intro
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:59 pm EDT, May  8, 2003

There's a reason I love PBS. This is just part of it.

The American Experience/Presidents/Intro

Negro League Baseball Dot Com - The Online Home Of Negro League Baseball History
Topic: Sports 4:50 pm EDT, May  8, 2003

Both a bright spot in American History and a sore one. Everyone knows the names Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig, and while most people know the names Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron, there are many more that should be known.

Negro League Baseball Dot Com - The Online Home Of Negro League Baseball History

Meddling in the Middle East
Topic: Current Events 4:43 pm EDT, May  8, 2003

Just a few thoughts for the day.

The Balkans, without any help from us, turned back into the Balkans and are back to their natual state of affairs which is trying to wipe each other out.

Afghanistan, which had a really crappy system of government (hey they blew up giant Buddahs, Buddah is about as inoffensive a religious figure as you get, and anyway, he's tending more towards philosophy than religion) now has the only crappier system of government, it's the same one they have in the Balkans. That's always a winner. When in doubt blow stuff up and get the hell out.

Iraq, well Iraq is even more fun. We removed a despotic dictator and they seem to be ready to put in place a despotic theocracy. I'm not sure this is an improvement. It of course gets better. 12 years ago we sold the Kurds down the river. It looks like we're about to do so again, only this time, the government that appears to be gaining ground will be one happy to remove the kurds rather just oppress them. Iran 1978 all over again? Hard to say, but the only sure thing about it is, everyone in Iraq except the Kurds wants us to get the hell out.

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