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Cost of the War in Iraq
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Over 4000 American soldiers have died liberating Iraq.
So why, as the President asks, do they hate us? One clue may be found at

For much more bombast than I could ever produce, along with a penetrating mixture of history, politics, philosophy, religion, and science, visit Patrice Ayme at Tyranosopher.

February 2004

The next presidential election is soon approaching, so we're being inundated by polls, supposedly used to gauge public opinion. Increasingly, they're used to influence opinions. The most egregious examples are "push polls", where the questions are phrased in a way that obviously influences the answer: "If you knew that the person running against George Bush had been molesting your daughter and having sex with goats, which one would you elect President?" Even when the questions are not so blatantly biased, polls can still be subtly devised to indicate trends that may not exist. A favorite technique is to demand a yes/no answer to questions that require a nuanced response.

If people thought for themselves, the approach to pollsters that I would recommend is: Lie. But Americans seem to have the unfortunate faith that if some news or "infotainment" show reports that a majority of people believe something, it must be true, no matter how obviously wrong the premise. This makes the approach to answering polls trickier. The best strategy might be to claim the most extreme positions on which ever side of the question you most agree. This has the pitfall that you might polarize people whose beliefs may actually be close to your own. An example is the recent approval, then disapproval, of California driver's licenses for illegal aliens. There are valid arguments on both sides of this question, but politicians, of course, presented it as black or white. When the law was passed, this approach allowed opponents to be just as polarized and, via short one-liners about the issue, to get the public to rally against it. The "debate" excluded any middle ground, where real solutions to the problems caused by unlicensed alien drivers might be found.

After due consideration, the best approach to pollsters is to not approach them. If you see one of them standing with his clipboard in front of your favorite store, wait for a group of other shoppers to provide cover while you rush in or, if you're feeling more confident or more antisocial, ignore his insistent pleas as you enter and leave. If a pollster calls you, hang up. If the caller is especially pushy, ask them to wait a moment, put down the phone, and go back to whatever you were doing before the call. Hang up when you hear the dial tone.

The only poll that counts takes place Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Save your opinion until then.

New Year, 2002

The occasional visitor may have noticed that this page has not been updated in a while. Recent events have been too depressing or too banal to demand response. Pronouncements from our "democratically elected" President and his Attorney General in the weeks since September 11 have forced me to issue my small protest ...

The New Order

President Bush has been mumbling to the press the last few weeks, trying to justify the attempts of his attorney general to abrogate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on the basis that we are engaged in a short-lived (yet undeclared, in the legal sense - the U.S. is supposed to be ruled by laws, not by fiat) war.

Attorney General Ashcroft, meanwhile, has tried to coerce local law enforcement offices into illegally "requesting" anybody that he considers suspicious (namely, anyone of the Moslem faith, especially Arab students) to subject themselves to interrogation, claiming that no "honest" person would feel intimidated being confronted by a demand for information - however ambiguous - from some big guy in a quasi-military uniform. Fortunately, many police departments share the convictions demonstrated by the Chief of Police in Portland, Oregon, who has refused to cooperate with Ashcroft's delusions of autocracy. If Ashcroft was consistent, why didn't he call for interrogating all Marines contemporary with Tim McVey to see if they knew about any possible conspiracies or call for investigating all high school students after Columbine? It's not as if America doesn't have enough wackos of its own!

Ashcroft has also been using the distraction of last September 11 to try to sneak through some of his other pet projects: Denying people with terminal diseases the opportunity to end their suffering with some amount of dignity and without impoverishing their families by trying to quash Oregon's Death With Dignity law, and denying similarly suffering people access to the use of a substance - marijauna - that can quell many of their symptoms, like the pain, nausea, and loss of appetite that affect many cancer and AIDS patients.

Atop all of this, Ashcroft claims to be a "Pro-Lifer", but he's also a proponent of the death penalty.

What's wrong with this guy?

Combining this with Bush's statement that his model Supreme Court justices are Scalia and Thomas, what other encouragement do you need to vote for anyone who opposes these guys in the next couple elections? Vote for anyone you like, right or left wing, as long as it's someone who actually believes in democracy and not that professed belief in fundamentalist Christianity and rich buddies in the energy industry (and, as we and God know, these have so much in common) are more important than the Constitution.

Since the previous entry, written almost a year ago, our plight as Americans has been further degraded. Arab-Americans are being profiled as were Japanese-Americans during World War II and an attempt is being made to track all of our online transactions, through the Office of Information Awareness, run, ironically, by the only person convicted of misconduct during the Iran-Contra scandal (and later pardoned by a judge appointed by ... surprise, surpise ... Bush, Sr.) And still the President has the gall to call America the most free country on the planet. The one bright point recently has been the foot-in-mouth disclosure by Trent Lott of his true feelings about integration and the reactions of his colleagues, displaying their desire not to repudiate his message, while at the same time distancing themselves from the messanger. Given the memory of the electorate, I only wish this had taken place in the autumn of 2004.

One last thing: The administration has recently made noises that in certain loosely defined circumstances, it would consider preemptively using nuclear weapons. These are TRUE weapons of mass destruction and we are the ONLY country that has ever actually used them. How is this threat supposed to enhance our credibility with respect to the administration's desire to preemptively attack Iraq because they MAY be thinking about deploying some vaguely defined "weapons of mass destruction"?

To find out more about these & other human rights issues around the world, including here in the U.S., visit the web sites of Amnesty International and the ACLU.



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