<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d7401543\x26blogName\x3dat+ease\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://atease.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://atease.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-8065695051366861910', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Finally...

Okay, the URL is finally all set up. I am now the happy owner of my very own online photography business. You can go on over to www.mikelanephotography.com to have a look. Okay, I know, there are only 5 pictures and a bit of a message, but it'll get better over time. I am planning on modifying the look of the site and add my very own header to replace the smugmug header. If you have any inputs, please feel free to let me know and I'll see what I can do. Smugmug is limited in certain ways, and it may get frustrating but I hope not. I'm signed on there for a year, I suppose by this time next year I will be able to figure out if I like the site or if I can't stand it and want to move everything to my own server and do things my own way.

But no matter, for now, I am up and running with www.mikelanephotography.com. There will be more than 5 images soon and even more after this weekend's regatta. Come back often to see if I've got anything you'd like.

Also, if you are in the Seattle Tacoma area and you'd like to hire a photographer to cover an event, feel free to contact me. I am free most evenings and weekends but I will need 2 weeks notice so I can get all the necessary lenses and equipment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I am so unbelievably excited!

That's qute a lens you've got there fella...


I can't believe it. On a whim, I searched Google for "camera rent seattle" and one of the first results was Glazer's Camera. After a smidgen of looking around, I found out that they have an absolute TON of lenses available to rent for next to nothing prices. I am renting (if you're a camera buff, you'll like this) a Canon 35-350mm f/3.5-5.6L USM lens (pictured above - not sure if it is the IS or not) for $25. I can pick it up on Friday after 3:00pm and drop it off on Monday. I get that monster lens for the whole weekend for $25!

He was right before...

The scourge of the right wing, Scott Ritter, says that the US is planning on attacking Iran in June 2005.
On Friday evening in Olympia, former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter appeared with journalist Dahr Jamail. -- Ritter made two shocking claims: George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and the U.S. manipulated the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq....

SCOTT RITTER SAYS U.S. PLANS JUNE ATTACK ON IRAN, ‘COOKED’ JAN. 30 IRAQI ELECTION RESULTS
By Mark Jensen

United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
February 19, 2005

Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday in Washington State, dropped two shocking bombshells in a talk delivered to a packed house in Olympia’s Capitol Theater. The ex-Marine turned UNSCOM weapons inspector said that George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and claimed the U.S. manipulated the results of the recent Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

Olympians like to call the Capitol Theater "historic," but it's doubtful whether the eighty-year-old edifice has ever been the scene of more portentous revelations.

The principal theme of Scott Ritter's talk was Americans’ duty to protect the U.S. Constitution by taking action to bring an end to the illegal war in Iraq. But in passing, the former UNSCOM weapons inspector stunned his listeners with two pronouncements. Ritter said plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted that knowledgeable sources say U.S. officials "cooked" the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

On Iran, Ritter said that President George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran’s alleged program to develop nuclear weapons, but Ritter said neoconservatives in the administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70 million -- a possibility Ritter regards with the greatest skepticism.

The former Marine also said that the Jan. 30 elections, which George W. Bush has called "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom," were not so free after all. Ritter said that U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%.

Asked by UFPPC's Ted Nation about this shocker, Ritter said an official involved in the manipulation was the source, and that this would soon be reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major metropolitan magazine -- an obvious allusion to New Yorker reporter Seymour M. Hersh.

On Jan. 17, the New Yorker posted an article by Hersh entitled The Coming Wars (New Yorker, January 24-31, 2005). In it, the well-known investigative journalist claimed that for the Bush administration, "The next strategic target [is] Iran." Hersh also reported that "The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer." According to Hersh, "Defense Department civilians, under the leadership of Douglas Feith, have been working with Israeli planners and consultants to develop and refine potential nuclear, chemical-weapons, and missile targets inside Iran. . . . Strategists at the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, in Tampa, Florida, have been asked to revise the military’s war plan, providing for a maximum ground and air invasion of Iran. . . . The hawks in the Administration believe that it will soon become clear that the Europeans’ negotiated approach [to Iran] cannot succeed, and that at that time the Administration will act."

Scott Ritter said that although the peace movement failed to stop the war in Iraq, it had a chance to stop the expansion of the war to other nations like Iran and Syria. He held up the specter of a day when the Iraq war might be remembered as a relatively minor event that preceded an even greater conflagration.

Scott Ritter's talk was the culmination of a long evening devoted to discussion of Iraq and U.S. foreign policy. Before Ritter spoke, Dahr Jamail narrated a slide show on Iraq focusing on Fallujah. He showed more than a hundred vivid photographs taken in Iraq, mostly by himself. Many of them showed the horrific slaughter of civilians.

Dahr Jamail argued that U.S. mainstream media sources are complicit in the war and help sustain support for it by deliberately downplaying the truth about the devastation and death it is causing.

Jamail was, until recently, one of the few unembedded journalists in Iraq and one of the only independent ones. His reports have gained a substantial following and are available online at dahrjamailiraq.com.

Friday evening's event in Olympia was sponsored by South Puget Sound Community College's Student Activities Board, Veterans for Peace, 100 Thousand and Counting, Olympia Movement for Justice & Peace, and United for Peace of Pierce County.

Administration-led character assassination on Scott Ritter (again) in 5... 4... 3...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Request for input!

Okay, so it looks like I may possibly have the opportunity to start making a little money from this whole photography thing. There is a guy that works with Beth who has a sailboat and sails in races. He said that there is possibly a big market for getting pictures of people's boats during the races. I'm thinking this could be a great way for me to get a foot in the door and maybe get my name out there. So I've decided that I'm going to set up a premium account over at smugmug. They have the best features that I've seen (but if you know a better place, feel free to let me know) and they let you set the pricing for pictures. One of the really nice things is that they let you have your own URL.

And it is that part which I'm hoping to pool the creative juices of anyone who may be reading this. I need a name for my virtual photography store. Something photography related would be good, something witty maybe, something memorable, and most of all something that can be made into a good URL that isn't already taken. If you think of something post it in the comments. Who knows, maybe your idea will be the one I pick! I tell you what, if you win I'll get you one of any sized image that I eventually post on that as yet to be named site.

Friday's Random Ten

Kind of a fun Friday. I forgot that the Army usually takes down days on Fridays when there is a holiday on a following Monday (and vice versa). I remembered when I got to work and the parking lot was empty. So I went and got my car washed and my hairs cut and then went to go visit Beth for a while. More about that visit in a bit, but first this week's Random Ten!
  1. Talking Heads - Love Goes To a Building on Fire
  2. The Beatles - Mother Nature's Son
  3. The Beatles - Glass Onion
  4. Radiohead - Paranoid Android (that's familiar)
  5. Gang Starr - Code of the Streets
  6. Tom Petty - The Dark of the Sun
  7. Mull Historical Society - Watching Xanadu
  8. Violent Femmes - Old Mother Reagan
  9. Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds
  10. Soundgarden - My Wave

Nice.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Photography thread...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Picasa2 is pretty cool


Post a comment to this thread if you want to talk about pictures and photography.

Monday, February 14, 2005

You ever wonder...

When they make a move of the week about Bush's downfall and impeachment, who is going to play the US Marine/high priced gay male prostitute who ends up getting a press pass from the administration and leaking classified information to out a CIA agent?

World O'Crap has more in case you don't know what in the world I'm talking about.

**Update** - Great, once Google indexes this, I'm going to get a ton of search hits for "gay male prostitute".

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New blog feature...

Thanks to a very nice and helpful haloscan user, I have implemented an RSS feed to my latest comments. You'll notice this feature on the right-hand side of the blog. The latest comment is on top (it refreshes every 30 minutes I think) and if you hold your mouse over the name a tool tip will appear that gives the title of the post to which that comment belongs. Sweet! Notice that I have also removed the send a care package link, but I will put Anysoldier Inc. on the blogroll in case you need to find it from at ease.

I have a couple of other things that I'd like to do with the blog. The Books I'm reading thing is a pain in the ass to update, so I think I'm going to create another blog that lists the books that I'm reading and then feed the RSS from that blog into my sidebar. There are a ton of things that I'm thinking that I can do. Maybe a list of my most recently watched movies and a quick personal rating. Fun fun!

After that, my next blog project is to go back to the color picker that helped me pick my blog colors and start working on different color designs for the blog. I'm not going to change everything though. My plan is to get a bunch of different color options to choose from and let you, the reader, pick what's best dynamically. I am also planning on revamping my title bar with some of my photography because it's getting a bit stale.

Of course, this may take a while since my UoPhx class is weighing down on me these days. I will be complete with my whole master's program by April. Graduation is in July and I will be putting my graduation announcement up on the Blog rather than sending an actual physical announcement to everyone.

This is so cool!

Six Dancers


I found this site via Chaos Digest which I found via the most recent comment by a guy named Rob. You should go check both of the sites out because they're both great.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

I may be paranoid, but I'm not an android...

I'm not very good at doing weekly recurring posts am I? Here is the list of the first 10 songs that came up when I did a random playlist of all the tracks on my Rio Karma (aka. the random 10):
  1. Corrosion of Conformity - Albatross (great song!)
  2. Alice in Chains - We Die Young (how prophetic the lead singer died of an OD not long ago)
  3. Blondie - Call Me (is it wrong to have liked this song since I was a little kid?)
  4. Green Day - In the End (I'm not sure I've ever heard it)
  5. Tonic - Soldier's Daughter (Tonic has some great songs and then they have some songs, I wonder which this is)
  6. Nine Inch Nails - The Becoming (Ever so moody)
  7. Soundgarden - Fell on Black Days (How would I know that this could be my fate)
  8. The Magnetic Fields - All My Little Words (From the most recent CD mass buy, probably heard it, but I don't really remember it)
  9. Radiohead - Paranoid Android (Oh how I love this song)
  10. Bomb the Bass - Bug Powder Dust (Who? What?)

So there you have it, my random 10 for the week (or so).

Last week's Tom The Dancing Bug...

Reuben Boling is a genius


Hilarious.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Goddamned liars!

When can we finally say it? When is it okay to call someone in this administration a liar? Let's just say for the sake of argument that Condi Rice wrote an article in the Washington Post about 9/11. Let's also say she gave it an authoritative name like 9/11: For the Record and said something like "No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration."

Flash forward to nearly one year after having read that theoretical column by Dr. Rice. What if we open the paper to find a copy of a recently declassified memo written to Dr. Rice by Richard Clarke (who was the counter terrorism chief at the time) just days after the new administration was sworn into office ... oh, I don't know, say 25 Jan. 2001. Maybe it would have looked something like this:

Hypothetically of course...




You are shocked ... shocked! ... to read that in the first days of the administration the counter terrorism advisor was nearly begging the administration to have a "principles level review on the al Qida [sic] network." Would you then consider the possibility that Dr. Rice told a bold face lie to make it seem that this administration had done everything it could to prevent 9/11?

There is more too. According to the Herald Sun:
Another document released by the archive said that from April to September 2001, the US Federal Aviation Administration received 52 intelligence reports on al-Qaeda, including five that mentioned hijackings and two that mentioned suicide operations, according to today's New York Times.

Interesting. According to that document there were 52 intelligence reports concerning al-Qaeda and the FAA in roughly 21 weeks. That's nearly 2.5 intelligence reports per week for nearly 6 months. These reports talked about hijacking and suicide operations. I seem to remember Dr. Rice saying something about that some time ago as well. If only there were some kind of massive instantly accessible database of information where I could get a transcript. Oh, wait, I know, I'll try that interweb thingy.
DR. RICE: Steve, I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile. All of this reporting about hijacking was about traditional hijacking. You take a plane -- people were worried they might blow one up, but they were mostly worried that they might try to take a plane and use it for release of the blind Sheikh or some of their own people.

But I think that there's always a fine balance, but even in retrospect, even in hindsight, there was nothing in what was briefed to the President that would suggest that you would go out and say to the American people, look, I just read that terrorists might hijack and aircraft. They talk about hijacking an aircraft once in a while, but have no specifics about when, where, under what circumstances.

Okay, "once in a while"? I don't know about you by my definition of "once in a while" is significantly less often than 2.5 times per week (every third day or so). That isn't enough to make someone to take the President by the collars and say, "For God's sake man, wake up! Stop it with the faith-based crap and the moronic missile defense system for just one damned second and do something about this teeny little issue would ya"? Do we honestly need to know (or even expect to know) that at 6:00am Mohammed Atta is going to be in Bangor, Maine airport on his way to hijacking an airplane to beef up security a bit? What if the administration had upped security to its current level after, oh I don't know, 4 months of intel threats coming at 2.5 threats per week (if not sooner even)? Would 3000 people have ended up dying?

If they were Democrats, they'd be in prison by now. Actually scratch that, if they were Democrats, this wouldn't have been an issue because they would have done what they needed to take care of it. Are we sure that its the left that hates America because the right doesn't seem to give a crap until after it's too late.

Brit Hume should resign...

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition defines the word "lie" as follows:
1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
2. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.

On February 3rd of this year Hume said the following:
Senate Democrats gathered at the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial today to invoke the image of FDR in calling on President Bush to remove private accounts from his Social Security proposal. But it turns out that FDR himself planned to include private investment accounts in the Social Security program when he proposed it.

"In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, quote, 'Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age,' adding that government funding, quote, 'ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.'

The full quote from FDR is as follows:
In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps thirty years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.

In this quote FDR is talking about 3 necessities. First, pensions for those who were too old to pay into the system at the time that it was established. Second, a system built upon compulsory contributions that would be self-sustaining (i.e. Social Security as we know it today). Third, a system of additional voluntary contributions that would increase the amount a person would receive when they became eligible. As an almost aside, FDR mentioned how his first step should be paid for and how it should be replaced (i.e. phased out by the normal Social Security system).

Hume deliberately misrepresented what FDR said to support his own position. FDR clearly was not interested in any type of private investment accounts as Hume specifically said that he was. Moreover, by comparing two things that were unrelated (extra, voluntary contributions - the thrid part of FDR's plan and not intended to be private - and the initial non-contributory pensions - the first part of FDR's plan that was to be replaced by the normal Social Security over time), by confusing one word "annuity", and sneaking in the phrase "government funding", Hume has specifically given people the idea that FDR wanted something which in reality he most certainly did not.

In other words Hume made a false statement and deliberately presented it as true. Since Hume's position on the issue is clear (he clearly wants Social Security to be privatized) this statement was a statement that was meant to deceive or give a wrong impression. In short, Hume's statement was the definition of a lie. He clearly knew it to be a lie and he said it anyway. That is why Hume must resign a news anchor for Fox News. He is not presenting news, he is pushing lies as the truth in order to support his ideology.

New journal entry over at Open Photo...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Sunset Over the Fish Market


I have posted a new journal entry over at Open Photo along with plenty of new pictures. (If you don't see my name on the front page, simply scroll until it shows up.) Go have a look!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Hey guess what, Medicare is going to cost more than they said it would...

File this under the surprise, surprise category. Let's take a trip down memory lane shall we? Way back in December of 2003 the Republicans did some underhanded political maneuvers to get Bush's Medicare proposal passed in Congress.
Recall how that bill squeaked through Congress only after some heads were cracked. A retiring Republican from Michigan, Rep. Nick Smith, even charges that supporters of the bill offered him a bribe in the form of financial support for the political campaign of his son. The bill was priced at the time at $400 billion over 10 years. After the deed was done (the specifics of which amounted to a huge giveaway to the pharmaceutical and health-care industries), it came out that the real cost will be at least $551.5 billion—a difference of $150-plus billion that will translate into trillions over time.

What's worse, the administration knew the real costs of the program would be much higher because the chief actuary, Rick Foster, had calculated that it would cost between $500 billion and $600 billion. But, in true Bush administration form, he was told he would be fired for telling the Congress the truth.
On July 6, 2004, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (IG) released a report stating that former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Thomas Scully pressured the agency’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, to withhold cost estimates of the Medicare Prescription Drug bill when it was being considered by Congress last year.

Foster has claimed that Scully ordered him to withhold estimates that showed the bill would cost between $500-$600 billion, well above the $395 billion estimate on which members of Congress were set to base their vote.

Specifically, Foster’s estimates were anywhere from 25 to 50% higher than those provided to members of Congress, and showed that rather than helping seniors lower prescription costs, the bill would be a windfall for drug companies, HMOs and insurance companies.

For instance, Foster’s estimates projected that the new plan would boost Medicare payments to private health plans by $46 billion (over 3 times the $14 billion Bush estimate), and that drugmakers would collect $100 billion more than the estimate provided to Congress..

Bush knew about Foster’s higher projections. On March 20, 2004, The Washington Post reported that, Trent Duffy, a Bush spokesman, acknowledged that the actuary's cost estimates had been sent to White House officials, including Doug Badger, a special assistant to President Bush who negotiated with Congress on the Medicare bill.

Now lets fast forward to today shall we?
The Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost taxpayers $720 billion over its first full 10 years, the Bush administration said Wednesday, offering a glimpse of how the program's price is expected to rise as baby boomers begin retiring.

The new estimate is far higher than the $400 billion the administration promised lawmakers when Congress narrowly approved Medicare legislation in 2003. It also exceeds the revised estimate of $534 billion that the White House issued just two months later, after the law was enacted.

But wait, there's more!
"Of course the costs go up when you add in more years at the end and more people are on Medicare," Karr said. Drug costs, which have been rising far faster than inflation, also are expected to be higher in those years.

White House budget chief Joshua Bolten said Wednesday the new price tag reflects $134 billion in savings the government expects over the period because states are paying some drug costs; $145 billion more from beneficiaries' premiums; and $200 billion in savings the program will create for Medicaid.

Added to the $720 billion price tag the administration is using, that would bring the drug program's gross 10-year cost to $1.2 trillion before the savings.

The $400 billion and $534 billion figures used earlier included the effects of projected savings and are comparable to the $720 billion estimate.

I said it once and I'll say it again. If you voted for Bush you voted for a liar, someone who will give the ultra rich and big businesses handouts while taking away services that the poor desperately need, and a downright immoral person. I have a feeling that this is merely the tip of the iceberg and we haven't seen anything yet.

It makes you wonder what it will take to wake people up.

More budget madness...

This is getting ridiculous. First Bush makes his budget appear smaller than it is by leaving out OIF and OEF costs ($80 billion). Then he decided to leave out the cost of his social security non-plan (which could reach into the trillions). Now Bush is trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes by including revenue that doesn't exist. Specifically, Bush has included $1.2 billion income from drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
WASHINGTON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling would raise an initial $2.4 billion in leasing fees, half of which would be shared with the state of Alaska, the Bush administration said in proposed fiscal 2006 budget documents released on Monday.

Democrats and moderate Senate Republicans oppose legislation to allow oil companies access to the wildlife refuge in northern Alaska.

With Republicans having a bigger majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives this year, the White House included the ANWR drilling plan in its proposed government budget for fiscal 2006, which begins on Oct. 1.

The administration said in its budget documents that it hopes to begin leasing tracts in ANWR in 2007.

The refuge, which is home to a variety of wildlife such as polar bears and migratory birds, stretches across 19 million acres (7.7 million hectares). The White House wants to offer 1.5 million acres (607,000 hectares) in the coastal plain for oil and natural gas exploration leases.

The Interior Department estimates the refuge could hold between 5.7 billion and 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil. If the refuge was opened to drilling, it would take about eight years before the area reached full production of around 800,000 to 1 million barrels per day, according to the Energy Department.


We need to make people understand that this sort of thing would not have happened had a Democrat been voted into office. We need to make Bush own this by making sure people understand exactly what it is he is trying to pull.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

How does the US compare?

There is a lot of propaganda out there these days. Michael Medved begins and ends his show by reminding people that America is "the greatest nation on God's green Earth." It is to the point that to be taken seriously in just about any conversation you have to agree with that premise. If you don't agree then you're an America hater, a member of the blame America first crowd, a communist, terrorist sympathizer, or even an actual terrorist and are to be dismissed as a moonbat. In the opinion of those on the right if you disagree that America is number one then you think the troops are dying in vein and you therefore hate the troops, you hate America.

That is all propaganda of course. Medved uses that line to lure in listeners and to give himself that "Trust me, I'm a model American" sheen. Callers to the Sean Hannity show will regularly blurt out just how great of an American Mr. Hannity is before they say anything else (to which Hannity often replies that they are great Americans too which means apparently you only have to think Sean Hannity is a great American to be a great American - count me out I guess). America's sweetheart, Ann Coulter, uses the terrorist line to convince her followers that liberals are not to be trusted no matter what they say.

Fortunately, I still believe that most people put more emphasis on facts than in blathering idiots like Medved or Hannity. I would say that it is not the GDP of your country or the size of your military that makes that country great, it is the quality of life of the majority of the population that makes a country great. After all, if a person is constantly working then their quality of life is poor even if they are rich and if services like schools and health care are cut so that money can be spent on the military then the quality of life will be reduced. There is a correlation between GDP and quality of life (in the poorest countries, the quality of life is arguably the lowest); however, it is not necessarily the case that countries with the highest GDP have the highest quality of life. Take a look at the following metrics from Swerve Left:
  • In the EU, there are 322 physicians per 100,000 people; in the United States, 279.
  • The U.S. ranks 26th among the industrial nations in infant mortality.
  • The U.S. ranks 24th among the industrial nations in terms of economic equality. (All 18 of the most developed European countries have less income inequality between rich and poor.)
  • The U.S. homicide rate is four times higher than the EU's with the rates of childhood homicides, suicides and firearms-related deaths in the United States exceed those of the other 25 wealthiest nations.
  • The United States has only 4% of the world's population but contains one-quarter of the world's entire prison population.
  • The average paid vacation time in Europe is now six weeks a year compared to two weeks in the U.S.

By these metrics the US is not the best country on the planet. Our priorities are all mixed up. We could spend our money more wisely. We should be out of Iraq ASAP, we should begin downsizing our military and begin working with Russia to limit or even eliminate our nuclear arsenal (yes I do think that is a possibility and a wise decision). The Bush tax cuts should be eliminated, corporate tax loopholes should be closed, the budget should be balanced, the debt should be paid down, and social security should be enhanced. Americans shouldn't have to slave their lives away just so they can afford healthcare (and we shouldn't have to worry that if we lose our job that we won't have healthcare). The dismal infant mortality rate is inexcusable and is a direct result of a poor healthcare system where many mothers go without prenatal care because they can't afford it.

I will not give praise where praise is not due. America is falling short of its promise to form a more perfect union and I refuse to accept the title of "America Hater" simply because I recognize that fact. It is the right wing pundits on TV, on the Radio, and in the Blogosphere, those who use patriotism as a means to an end, those who are willfully blind to the facts of the world, are the ones that truly hate America and want to destroy her and rebuild her in their decidedly un-American image.

Monday, February 07, 2005

I wanna play!

Okay, so apparently it's all the rage in the blogosphere to randomize your iPod and post the first ten songs that come up - that's ingeniously called the "random ten". So this'll be kind of difficult since I don't have an iPod; however, I do have a Rio Karma (which in my humble opinion is much better in lots of ways than the iPod) and said Rio Karma does shuffle the tracks and I just so happen to have shuffled them and for my next feat, I will proudly display them. So here we go:
1. Everclear - So Much For the Afterglow
2. Stray Cats - Rock this Town
3. Beulah - A Good Man is Easy to Kill
4. Alice in Chains - Sludge Factory
5. The Smashing Pumpkins - Thirty-Three
6. Menomena - Strongest Man in the World
7. Menomena - Trigga Hiccups
8. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - You Got It (Donut)
9. XTC - Summer's Cauldron
10. Tonic - Bigot Sunshine

So there you have it: Pop Rock, Grunge, Alternative, Indie, and Rap. I can't believe that Menomena got on there twice and right next to each other. Raise your hand if you have ever heard of Menomena. Their CD is called "I am the Fun Blame Monster" which is an anagram of "The First Menomena Album". It rules and you should buy it.

Atrios has the digs about Bush's SS non-plan...

If you're still one of those people that think that Bush's Social Security non-plan (don't forget, Bush has only hinted and propogandized, he has not given a plan yet) will offset benefit cuts with higher returns you need to head on over for some good information from Atrios:
NO. This is not even true in theory let alone in fact. Right now the closest thing to an actual Bush plan is "Model 2" from the "President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security" According to the scoring of the Graham version of the plan (which is essesntially Model 2 pushed forward in time a bit with an addon feature which doesn't affect the numbers here), a median income worker retiring in 2050, 2070 will have his/her total retirement income, including private account annuity, in half relative to promised benefits and by a third relative to benefits projected to be payable under pessimistic and internally contradictory trustee projections by the CBO.

Follow the link and take a deep look at Table 2.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Hey righties, this is what you voted into office...

From CNN:
According to figures obtained by the AP, Bush would slice a $600 million grant program for local police agencies to $60 million next year. Grants to local firefighters, for which Congress provided $715 million this year, would fall to $500 million.

He would eliminate the $300 million the government gives to states for incarcerating illegal aliens who commit crimes. It's a proposal he has made in the past and one that Congress has ignored. Also gone would be assistance for police departments to improve technology and their ability to communicate with other agencies.

The Environmental Protection Agency's $8.1 billion would drop by $450 million, or about 6 percent, with most of the reductions coming in water programs and projects won by lawmakers for their home districts.

The Bureau of Indians Affairs would be sliced by $100 million to $2.2 billion. The reduction would come almost entirely from the agency's effort to build more schools.

The $2.2 billion program that provides low-income people -- in large part the elderly -- with home-heating aid would be cut to $2 billion. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said the reduction would be "wrong-headed an inappropriate," especially with this season's jump in oil prices.

White House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton said Bush has added hundreds of millions of dollars to the program since taking office and said his budget will provide "adequate resources to make sure we can assist low-income Americans."

The park service's budget would drop nearly 3 percent to $2.2 billion, largely due to a reduction in its construction account.

Several cultural agencies will get about the same as this year's levels, including the Smithsonian Institution and the national endowments for the arts and humanities, which distribute money to local groups.

Even on the plus side, Bush's budget will show constraint compared with previous years. That in part reflects his pledge to cut last year's projected $521 billion in half by 2009. One lawmaker said the budget will estimate that year's shortfall at about $230 billion -- well under the record $427 billion it will project for 2005.


But hey, at least the military will have an unprecedented amount of money:
Defense Department documents obtained Friday show the Pentagon's budget would grow by 4.8 percent to $419.3 billion -- $3.4 billion less than he planned to seek for 2006 a year ago.


See, what we need is billions less for poor people, the elderly, and the environment and billions more for the military. That's exactly what we need.
vote...">

I trust I can rely on your vote...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Girl in Tulips


It's not too late to vote for me over at Photo Friday. Last week's theme was "youth" and I submitted the above image. It is the first one that came to mind and it seems to be the picture that gets the most attention from people. I took it at the Skagit County tulip festival last March with my Olympus C-750UZ. If you like it, may I suggest that you hop on over to Photo Friday and cast a noteworthy vote for yours truly? I am number 469 on the list over to the left and all you need to do is click "cast noteworthy vote" on the top frame.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Sweet Jesus Bill O'Reilly is a moron...

I was just listening to The Al Franken Show and they were talking with Joseph Minton the owner of Sweet Jesus I Hate Bill O'Reilly and I just wanted to blog it because it was so hilarious. So here's the story, Barbara Boxer is way up in Bill's craw. He thinks that she's a nut (which someone called him on and he said he didn't then said that whoopse he forgot). That part was funny, but it wasn't the most hilarious part.

If you'll recall the Condoleezza Rice hearings Senator Boxer said one line to which Rice rebutted and that exchange has been used to obfuscate the fact that Dr. Rice is in fact a liar:
...
Senator Boxer: And I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth. And I don't say it lightly, and I'm going to go into the documents that show your statements and the facts at the time.
...
Dr. Rice: And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said without impugning my credibility or my integrity.

It was Rice's response to which the right wingers affixed their attention. They needed some way to make this an issue about Boxer not about Rice. Boxer was being irrational, Boxer was being a "nut", Boxer was impuning the credibility of Dr. Rice. Of course it begs the question, "Was Rice being less than truthful during the lead up to the Iraq war?" Furthermore, if she was being less than truthful in that job, would not that immediately disqualify her for Secretary of State? It was a dodge, punch, and run just like the whole "memogate" fiasco.

So Bill O'Reilly is on board with the obfuscation. I mean he's really on board. He's so on board with it that he decided to lead the charge and just outright lie about it. And when not one but two callers attempted to correct him on it, he chastized them for not knowing their stuff and that on his show you really need to know your stuff. That his show wasn't like the other radio shows and he was going to call you out when you were wrong.
O'REILLY: I don't have any problem with Boxer grilling Rice. But when she says to Rice, "You allowed your loyalty to the President to override your concern for the troops" -- that's over the line. Don't you see that?

CALLER: Did she say "for the troops" or "for the truth"?

O'REILLY: No, "for the troops."

CALLER: Okay --

O'REILLY: That's when she went over the line. When she started to make it, "Hey, you're a craven politician who will do anything for power, and you don't care about the guys dying in the sand" -- which is what she was saying --

CALLER: Okay. I thought she said "for the truth," because I do believe --

O'REILLY: No, she was talking "the troops" -- and then you saw Rice get her back up by saying, "Don't you impugn my concern for those troops over there. I was involved with sending them there, and I'm" -- and dah, dah, dah, dah --


Oh, but there's more from the same show...
CALLER: Yes, Mr. O'Reilly. I just wonder, why we are speaking against Barbara Boxer? I thought she was there doing her job. She was to question Condoleezza Rice on her past performance and her present performance. What she was going to do in the future --

O'REILLY: Well, you're puttin' a happy face on it, though. Lemme ask you a question. Boxer goes in and says, "Your devotion to Bush and your obsequiousness to the administration was more important to you than the welfare of our troops." I mean, that's grossly insulting, is it not?

CALLER: I don't think she did mention our troops.

O'REILLY: Yeah, she did --

CALLER: And you were just talking --

O'REILLY: [Caller], [caller] -- whoa. Yeah, she did. That's exactly what she said. And then Rice came back and said, "Don't you impugn my integrity. I have tremendous feeling for the sacrifices the troops have made."

So, [caller], you gotta understand if you're gonna come on The Factor, and you're gonna say, "Barbara Boxer asked all the right questions and did all the right things." And then I say to you, "What about this?" And you say, "I don't think she did it," when anybody following that hearing knows she did it -- Lis Wiehl?

LIS WIEHL (co-host): Mmm-hmm.

O'REILLY: OK. [Caller], how can we possibly take your analysis seriously? And I'm not saying this to attack you. I want you to call in again. I want you to be a listener. But, I'm trying to send a message out to everybody. If you're gonna call the program -- this isn't the usual talk show where you can just blather about stuff you don't know anything about -- I'm gonna ask you questions. I'm gonna ask you to back up your position with facts. Now, [caller] didn't know about that exchange, which was the most contentious exchange, and played on every news show.

I just love this. I really, really do. Bill is not only lying about what Boxer said, he is lying about how Rice followed up to what she said. See, Bill is the one who is woefully uninformed and, as he argues, "how can we possibly take [his] analysis seriously?" It's also hilarious that he asks for an amen from his co-host and she gives a sassy "mmm-hmmm".

So, if there is anyone who is an O'Reilly fan who is by chance reading this page (there are a few now and again), how is it that you can take his analysis on anything seriously knowing that this is the type of thing that he has no problems doing?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Stevens is getting on my nerves...

If I weren't such a kind, caring, reasonable guy I think that Cat Stevens (the cat not the singer) would have been dropkicked off the Tacoma Narrows Bridge this morning. Seriously, the goddamned cat just won't shut up. It's tough to get any sleep at all. It sucks. We wanted to get a cat because we aren't able to give it as much attention as a dog (or a kid) needs right now but this cat throws that idea out the window. Even when we kicked the normal, sane cat out of the room and opened the bathroom/quarantine area and let Stevens into the room, he still meowed! What ... the ... hell! I'm just hoping that he's just in a kitten phase and just needs a bigger space to roam and a friend to hang out with. If this cat stays the same cat that he is right now for the rest of his life, we're all going to have some problems.

Come to think of it though, if I had to listen to Cat Stevens (the singer) all night long, I may drop kick him off the Narrows Bridge too.
Google
WWW atease.blogspot.com


Watch More TV - Explodingdog.com