Friday, July 30, 2004

What's so hard about politics?

Did you catch John Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention last night? I always questioned his speaking ability a little bit, but he has not failed to impress me the last few weeks. One thing struck me right away about it...he can actually speak from his head and his heart and not rely solely on a teleprompter! He can actually turn his head and make eye contact without stumbling, losing his place, and mispronouncing things! Wow! Haven't seen that in a while.
Today on Yahoo! News, I encountered 2 articles on the front page that I find troubling in various ways. I will post the articles in their entirity, and my own comments will be placed in bold and in parentheses behind whatever I feel the need to comment on.

Article Number Uno...

Bush Criticizes Kerry's Achievements

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - President Bush launched his counterattack Friday against John Kerry saying his Democratic rival spent 18 years in the U.S. Senate with "no signature achievements."(Is it worse to have no achievements of notice than to have a bunch of mistakes attributed to your name?)
"My opponent has good intentions, but intentions do not always translate to results," Bush told thousands of supporters who repeatedly interrupted his remarks with standing ovations. (Even if good intentions don't mean good results, I'd rather vote for someone who at least HAS good intentions. )
Appearing at a baseball stadium at Southwest Missouri State University, Bush said that during eight years on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kerry voted to cut the intelligence budget but had no record of reforming America's intelligence-gathering capability. Problems with the intelligence agencies have been blamed for many of the failures surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Bush also said Kerry has no significant record for reforming education or health care. (George Bush is currently president. Does HE have any significant record for reforming education or health care? I'm pretty sure that costs for health care have skyrocketed the last few years, and that Bush's No Child Left Behind act has been a colossal failure....)
The president said that Kerry and running mate John Edwards consistently oppose reforms that limit the power of Washington and leave more power in the hands of the people. (Hold on there, partner. Are you trying to tell me that it's a BAD thing to give the people power to make decisions that directly affect their well-being? You have got to be kidding me! It's a really scary thing when your best argument against your opponent STILL makes you look bad...)
"This week members of the other party gathered in Boston," Bush said. "We heard a lot of clever speeches and some big promises. After 19 years in the United States Senate my opponent has had thousands of votes but very few signature achievements."
Bush also mounted a defense of his record, saying that Kerry would erase gains made in the past four years in the economy and U.S. security. (Do you feel safe right now? I sure don't. As for the economy, stay tuned for article #2)
"We are turning the corner and we are not turning back" in the war on terrorism and on issues from improving education and health care to maintaining the tax cuts he has put in place, said Bush, declaring: "Results matter."(Yeah, they do. And we can all see how much it matters when Bush gets the results he wants...terrorism thrives, our soldiers are killed, and a once self-sufficient and sovereign nation is under our militant rule.)
"They're going to raise taxes, we're not," Bush said of Kerry.
He said the Bush administration has "a clear vision on how to win the war on terror and bring peace to the world." (So why hasn't he put his vision into place yet?)
Bush also contrasted the longtime government service of Dick Cheney to Edwards, a first-term senator. (Politics is the one place where it almost pays to be inexperienced...that way, you haven't learned how to profit from everyone else's misfortunes yet.)
"I appreciate my running mate," said Bush. "He's not the prettiest man in the race, but he's got sound judgment." (He's the one who pushed for Iraq...he's the one that refused to have a meeting about people flying planes into buildings...Yep. Sound judgement.)
Offering broad outlines of his re-election agenda, Bush promised better times and fresh ideas, declaring "we have more work to do." (You think???)
In response to Bush's speech, the Kerry campaign said "results do matter" and that Bush's policies have led to record deficits, skyrocketing health costs, lower quality jobs, a military that is stretched too thin and a nation isolated from its allies. (Oh, but that stuff doesn't matter! I'd be un-American to think George Bush may have been wrong!)
In his acceptance speech Thursday night, Kerry hit hard at the president's handling of the Iraq war and the war on terror.
"Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so," said Kerry. "Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so."
Outside the minor-league baseball stadium where Bush spoke, hundreds of protesters carried signs and chanted.
"I'm so frightened about what's happening to the country," said Joan Wagnon, 72, of Springfield. She held a sign reading, "Don't waive your rights while waving your flag." (Isn't it a sign of the times when even senior citizens won't vote Republican?)
Bush did not stay up to watch Kerry's convention address but read and saw reports about it, spokesman Scott McClellan said. Adviser Karl Rove watched the speech, McClellan told reporters. (Heaven forbid he ever try to pay attention to anything important....)
"I think the senator of Massachusetts is a walking contradiction," McClellan said. Although he called Kerry's speech "nicely crafted," he criticized Kerry's Senate record and said he is "running as fast and as far as he can from that record."
In a trip focused on the Midwest, the president campaigns Saturday by bus in Ohio, the second bus tour he has made in the state in three months. He will wrap up two days of campaigning with a rally Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, just hours after Kerry speaks in a nearby suburb. It will be his 31st visit to Pennsylvania since being elected.
Bush won Missouri in 2000 with 50 percent of the vote to Al Gore's 47 percent, and in Springfield, Mo., the president appeals to some of his strongest supporters in the state.
"This is a turnout game and whoever mobilizes their base most effectively is going to win the state," says political science professor Martha Kropf of the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Missouri has lost nearly 40,000 manufacturing jobs since Bush took office, but the picture has improved markedly in the past year, with the labor force as a whole adding 83,000 jobs. (So what does that bring the unemployment numbers up to?)

And now for article Numero Dos.....

White House Projects Record $445B Deficit

By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The White House projected Friday that this year's deficit will hit a record $445 billion, further fueling a campaign-season dispute over President Bush's handling (mishandling) of the economy.
The figure easily surpassed last year's $375 billion, making it the largest-ever in dollar terms. (Did you hear that? LARGEST EVER!) That gave ammunition to Democrats who say Bush's tax cuts and failure to prevent a loss of jobs during his term has worsened the outlook for the budget and the economy.
But in a political plus for Republicans, the new projection was also an improvement over forecasters' expectations of earlier this year. In February, the administration projected a $521 billion shortfall for 2004, while the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated a month earlier that the deficit would be $477 billion. (Well isn't that great? Hey, we have the largest deficit in history but at least it's not as bad as we thought it would be! That's got to count for something, right? right....?)
The White House was attributing the improvement to the collection of $82 billion more in revenue than had been anticipated, which generally reflects more vigorous economic activity. That was partly offset by $6 billion more in spending than was expected, mostly for Medicaid and Medicare. (To help form that fan-fricken-tastic Senior Drug card?)
"We are meeting our national priorities and by showing spending restraint elsewhere in the budget we are on track to meet the president's commitment to cutting deficits in half" over the next five years, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One as Bush flew to campaign stops in the Midwest. (It's easy to show spending restraint when there is no money to spend.)
Democrats argue the report underscores the decline of the government's fiscal health under Bush, who has seen three straight years of worsening annual shortfalls following four consecutive surpluses under President Clinton. (Bill Clinton, remember that guy?)
"Anyway you slice it, a deficit exceeding $400 billion this year alone is bad news for the country," said Thomas Kahn, Democratic staff director for the House Budget Committee. "Republicans' failed budget policies have converted record surpluses into the biggest deficits in American history." (Maybe this is going to be one of those eras, much like the Vietnam era, that we casually exclude from our school history books.)
The White House was also boosting its estimate of Medicare spending by $67 billion over the next five years. Administration officials attributed the increase to added expenditures under last year's bill expanding Medicare coverage and to changes in long-range technical estimates about the program.
Medicare, the government's health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, spends about $300 billion a year. Extra Medicare spending could further heighten concerns about the program's solvency, already in jeopardy over the next two decades with the impending retirement of the huge baby-boom generation. (So far their solution has been to up the retirement age to 70...)
Medicare's anticipated rapid growth in coming years is expected to be a major engine keeping the budget in the red.
The federal budget year runs through Sept. 30. That means the final deficit figure will be available shortly before the Nov. 2 election, further shining a spotlight on the issue.

There you have it...if you see anything else that needs to be discussed, go right ahead. I'd love to see someone on the other side's argument, but of course people on that side would never come here or read this. Who would ever want to learn both sides of the story? Then you might actually have to question what you believe!


Monday, July 19, 2004

Happy 1 Month Anniversary!

Get out the party hats and noise makers...today is me and Ryan's one month anniversary. Who would have ever thought it could last a month, huh? Ha!
 
This weekend we went home for Sovereign State Days in our hometown (at least my hometown) of Winneconne. It always seems like a good idea until you actually get there...then you quickly remember that there is a reason that you don't live there anymore. With the exception of most family and our close friends, I have no desire to see anyone in that town at all. I always find it a little sad yet amusing when I see someone that I went to school with and they see me, but we both continue on pretending that we didn't see one another so as to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. I am 20, but I am not your average 20 year old. I forget sometimes that my friends are all very mature for their age, so when I meet an actual normal 20 year old it strikes me that it is a very young age. Most of them are going to college, parties, and working part time jobs. They probably don't have significant others and if they do, it is very fleeting. I am married, I do not attend school, and I work full time for the welfare office. Let the good times roll! In all honesty, I never wanted to be your average 20 year old...I got sick of that before it ever started.
 
In between running into old friends and non-friends, we did manage to go and see an actual friend at Dan's Citgo and enjoy some really nice animals. I petted a pig's snout and watched a deer pee. Who knew that deer had wangs? I guess I should have figured, but it's quite a sight to behold. Lemurs, ferrets, a camel, and elk...all waiting for me to watch them and pet them when possible! That's the sort of thing you want to come home for.
 
For those of you who know what I'm talking about, don't eat pizza at Antler's bar...the pizza sauce is just Prego or Ragu. I swear!
 
I don't ever want to hear God Bless America again. I can't even tell you how much I hate that song...memories of people singing it on the steps of Congress, choruses of school children singing it at their winter concerts, and now, people singing it during the fireworks at Sovereign State. As it was pointed out to me, Sovereign State Days is the celebration of when Winneconne decided to secede from the United States...was it out of irony that they decided to sing that song during the celebration? I highly doubt it, though if it were it would be a very clever gag. I think that somehow people are unable to think of fireworks in any other context than the fourth of July, and therefore did not even realize the complete idiocy of what they were singing and when.
 
I don't know why I insist on going back to Sovereign State Days...it's always a bitter disappointment in some ways. The flea market has little but junk that the seller no longer wants, the parade gets weaker and weaker every year, and you never ever see a new face. I hate it, but I know I'll go back next year. I'll probably go back every year and bring my kids back too, to tour the little school house and the newly restored steamboat. I must be some sort of salmon or trout...going upstream, even though they know there will be a grizzy bear waiting to scoop them up at the top of the waterfall.  I'm a trout...haha.
 
Anyway, I hope that your Sovereign State weekend or just plain weekend was eventful and happy. Or uneventful and unhappy, if that's the way you like it. Enjoy the week! July is almost over!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Facts about Iraq.

Listening to a program on WPR this morning, the guest cited the website she was representing so I decided to check it out. Here are some incredibly interesting statistics regarding the big mistake that is the war in Iraq. These facts come from The Institute for Policy Studies. Feel free to be outraged.

-Total number of coalition military deaths between the start of war and June 16, 2004: 952 (836 U.S.)

-Of those 952, the number killed after President George W. Bush declared “an end to major combat operations” on May 1, 2003: 693

-Number of U.S. troops wounded in combat since the war began: 5,134 (Number ill or injured in “non-combat” incidents estimated to be over 11,000)

-Number of U.S. troops wounded in combat since President George W. Bush declared “an end to major combat operations” on May 1, 2003: 4,593

-Number of civilian contractors, missionaries, and civilian workers killed: 50-90

-Number of international media workers killed: 30

-Iraqi civilians killed: 9,436 to 11,317

-Iraqi civilians injured: 40,000 (est.)

-Iraqi soldiers and insurgents killed prior to May 1, 2003: 4,895 to 6,370

-The bill so far: $126.1 billion

-Additional amount to cover operations through 2004: $25 billion

-What $151 billion could have paid for in the U.S.:

>Housing vouchers: 23 million

>Health care for uninsured Americans: 27 mil.

>Salaries for elementary school teachers: 3 mil.

>New fire engines: 678,200

>Head Start slots: 20 million

-Estimated long-term cost of war to every U.S. household: $3,415

-Amount contractor Halliburton is alleged to have charged for meals never served to troops and for cost overruns on fuel deliveries: $221 million

-Kickbacks received by Halliburton employees from subcontractors: $6 million

-Percentage of Americans who now feel that “the situation in Iraq was not worth going to war over.”: 54

-Percentage of Iraqis who said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign troops left the country immediately: 55

-Percentage of U.S. soldiers in Iraq reporting low morale: 52

-Percentage of soldiers who said they would not re-enlist: 50

-Percentage of wounded unable to return to duty: 64

-Number of soldiers whose tours of duty have been extended by the Army: 20,000

-Percentage of reserve troops who earn lower salaries while on deployment: 30-40

-Fraction of National Guard troops among U.S. force now in Iraq: 1/3

-Percentage of U.S. police departments missing officers due to Iraq deployments: 44

-Effect on al Qaeda of the Iraq war, according to International Institute for Strategic Studies: “Accelerated recruitment”

-Estimated number of al Qaeda terrorists as of May 2004: 18,000 with 1,000 active in Iraq

-Percentage of Iraqis expressing “no confidence” in U.S. civilian authorities or coalition forces: 80

-Price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. in May 2004: more than $2

I don't know about you, but I think I'd rather spend my $3,415 on things that actually BENEFIT someone other than George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Saudis...

I had to work 240.67 hours to give the government my share of the money they need to fund this war. What I find funniest about this is that the oil companies have gotten richer from us emptying our pockets to this war, but someone they just can't seem to pass the savings onto us. Supply and demand, right? Right....?


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Global Idiot Epidemic.

This is a front-page news article from Yahoo. First, read the article:

Expert: AIDS Could Breed Africa Terrorism

Wed Jul 7, 8:39 AM ET

DUBUQUE, Iowa - If African nations lose the war against AIDS, the continent risks becoming the next breeding ground for international terrorists such as al-Qaeda operatives, an American diplomat said this week.

"If they lose the war on AIDS, everything else doesn't matter," Dan Mozena said. "The reason this is our top priority is not because we're nice guys, it's because it's in the interest of the United States."

Mozena, last week finished a three-year tour as deputy chief of mission in Zambia and becomes director of the office of Southern African Affairs at the State Department in mid-August.

He said Tuesday that fighting AIDS remains the United States' main goal in Zambia, a nation about the size of Texas.

More than 1 million adults — 21.5 percent of the Zambian population — suffer from AIDS, pushing the landlocked country into more turmoil every year, he said.

"If those states fail, they become breeding grounds, safe-havens for the next batch of Osama bin Ladens," Mozena said, noting the destruction and turmoil in Afghanistan proved appealing for the Saudi-born terrorist.

Mozena, who was raised on a dairy farm north of Dubuque, traveled in Zambia frequently, talking with orphaned street children and visiting villages devastated by AIDS and HIV.

"I want to see what's really happening, because I was in a position where everyone was reporting to me and telling me what happened," Mozena said.

Mozena said due mostly to AIDS, 850,000 children in Zambia are orphans — 8 to 9 percent of the country's population.

The life expectancy in Zambia, where about 380 people die daily of AIDS, has dropped to about 35 years from 52 in 1981.

Such devastation and destruction in the south African nation leaves it vulnerable to political instability, he said.

Mozena, a former Peace Corps volunteer, also warned ignoring the AIDS epidemic could have a more severe, immediate effect on the American population than terrorism.

"If the AIDS epidemic keeps sweeping across Africa, it will come washing up on our shores as well, in ways we cannot know."

Mozena, however, remains optimistic that a $15 billion, five-year, 15-country initiative by President Bush launched 1 1/2 years ago will help stymie the global AIDS epidemic.


Okay, now this article raises a number of interesting points. First of all, why would AIDS cause terrorism? Political instability, bla bla bla. Despite that sort of fragile logic, what else has one got to do with the other? Plenty of contries "suffer" from political instability...why all the sudden is THIS particular case THE CASE that we should worry about? Because the people are dying of a disease rather than genocide? There's just not a whole lot of sense in this...maybe it makes sense to a writer from Dubuque, Iowa, but I think it seems drastically blown out of proportion and more than a little bit presumptuous.

And I quote: "If they lose the war on AIDS, everything else doesn't matter," Dan Mozena said. "The reason this is our top priority is not because we're nice guys, it's because it's in the interest of the United States." I don't think that any of us were ever fooled for a second into thinking we would try to help a nation because we were "nice guys." But why is this in the interest of the United States? We certainly don't care about the people...unfortunately, my first logical thought is "What do they have that we want?" Is it just a matter of we-better-get-it-before-the-terrorists do? Suspicious to say the least.

Next issue...how can there be an AIDS epidemic? If there is one thing that I'm glad about regarding AIDS, it's that I don't HAVE to get it if I don't want it. What can you do to not get AIDS?:

1. Don't have sex with gay men from Africa.
2. Don't have sex with men.
3. Don't have sex. At all.

Okay, so the point I'm getting at is just don't be a whore. Man-whore or whore-whore, you still can get AIDS. Talk to someone before you sleep with them, find out who THEY have slept with, and if you're not sure go together hand-in-hand and get a fricken AIDS test. How romantic it will be! It's not that hard.

Here's another thing...DON'T DO NEEDLE DRUGS! Just quit shootin' the smack, or if you MUST, go buy a box of goddamn 99 cent hypodermic needles from Walgreens and use THOSE! Don't use the one that your 97-pound dying junkie friend just threw on the floor, and don't use the one that you found in the street. Just save up a wee bit of your drug money and buy a fresh box of needles. You'll be king/queen of the streets! Sell them for profit, I don't care! Just don't use them again!

AIDS does not live on toilet seats. It's not spread by kissing or handholding. The HIV-virus lives in the blood and is spread as such.

I think it's pretty easy to see that there will be no "washing up on shore" of this "epidemic" anytime soon. Don't be whore and don't do drugs...it's NOT THAT HARD!

I understand that many of the people in Africa are not as educated as we are about the cause of AIDS and HIV. Why doesn't our lovely government go over there and start a program to teach people HOW the virus is spread, rather than trying to cause a fear epidemic over here? Oops...I think I stumbled upon the secret...

There is no epidemic. We are being forced to live in a constant state of fear regarding attacks, disease, poverty, and the unknown. This article proves that the government has found our top 3 weaknesses: Fear of destruction, fear of death, and fear of the unknown. Let's just throw it all together, blend it up, and come up with the concoction that will scare every flag-pin wearing, bumper sticker sporting American: AFRICAN TERRORISTS WITH AIDS.

What a scoop!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

MY BUM!

Hope everybody had a nice holiday weekend. Since I'm a rockin' government worker, I got Monday off which was certainly a nice treat. Ryan did too since he's also a government sap, so we got to have a pleasant 3 day weekend. This year, once again, we missed the Rhythm and Booms fireworks. Last year it was because we went to the downtown MATC campus rather than the northside one, thus putting us on the totally wrong side of town. This year they were rained out. The fireworks did get shot off last night as the rain date, but I really couldn't see them over the tops of the apartment buildings. Oh well. Maybe next year! On Saturday I got to add 2 new additions to my repertoire of bodily mutilation. I got a lovely celtic design on my right shoulder, so I'm no longer lopsided in respect to tattoos. I also got a little heart on my butt with my first initial in it. It's just like the Care Bears, see? Get it? Hmm? 2 other lovely ladies got it with me, but I will spare posting there names for fear they do not want their bum atrocities exposed to the world. My butt is a little sore today, but it'll be worth it in about a week when it's no longer a hard and crusty scab-ball. I hate blogs where people just say what they do every day...that's what I'm doing right now. It's lame. I just wanted to tell people that I have new tattoos, and thusly have disgraced my blog. I apologize for that!

Maybe this funny picture of cats playing will help? I hope so.