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Frankie Say Politics (2000-2003)

PARENTAL ADVISORY: contains rabid attacks on many sacred cows. CLICK HERE to avoid this page.

Divider, not a Uniter

2003 December 20

Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean was a messy mistake. For starters, he didn't even have the courtesy to tell Lieberman first. And he definitely should not have said "all of us need to get behind the strongest candidate". Heck, that would be George W Bush.

The Democrats are supposed to be about inclusiveness and strength through diversity, right? People who want divine commands from a chosen son know where to get that.

A Bunch of Fickle Mush Heads

2003 October 10 - Who believed the lies about Iraq?

Running Man / Predator: Total Recall

2003 October 8
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura

There are now two US Governors who starred in the movie Predator. Who's next? I say Run Carl Run!

update 20 October 2003

I forgot that Arnold (who gave the environment a Hummer) also starred with Jesse in Running Man. How about Yaphet Kotto as "The Running Mate"?

Remembering September 11

2003 September 9 - Forgotten lessons of Septembers past

Vote with your Wallet

2003 August 1

Although our democracy is technically a republic, in practice it's more of a plutocracy. Are your spending habits helping to elect officials that you oppose? Think about it.

Powell for President

2003 May 21

Visit my Powell/Whitman 2004 Campaign page. I am a registered Republican. I have voted in every major US election since 1988, but never for any Presidential candidate named Clinton, Gore, or Bush.

Update 2004: Campaign closed; time to move on.

Get Your War On

2003 March 31

"If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us; if we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us." - George W Bush, October 2000 (draft dodger)

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D Eisenhower (former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in World War II, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO), April 1953

"Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. ... That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along. ... That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." - Hermann Goering (former Reichsmarshall & Luftwaffe-Chief, war criminal), April 1946

"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 (former Colonel of 1st Cavalry Regiment, Nobel Peace Prize winner), May 1918

Have a happy International Peace Day

2001 September 12

I'm not getting any work done, so I may as well write.

This one really disturbed me because it's exactly how I would have done it. Years ago I worked this scenario out in my head. You need a team large enough to control the passengers but small enough to be inobvious. Guns will get you caught. Lay a knife blade flat against the zipper of your bag to confuse the x-ray. Wooden knuckles with protruding razors or nails. A Leatherman. My theoretical target was the State of the Union. Apparently a real terrorist had different priorities, but figured out the concept perfectly. I had hoped that none of them were smart enough.

The passengers on the first two planes had no way to know what was coming. In the past, hijacking and hostage taking was done for its own sake. You land the plane in Cuba and make demands. Not any more.

After the sheer horror wore off, my second impression was a tech issue. "I hope those companies have off-site backup". The financial data flowing through WTC was probably worth more than the building itself. The value of [x] thousand people is another issue entirely.

For now, we mourn the victims, honor the heroes, and search for evil.

Once we verify the enemy, what do we do to them? The first option to consider is strict police work. Catch the specific individuals, bring them here, and grind them through the court system. We imprison or execute a few dozen people. "Big whoop", thinks the public / thinks the world / thinks the remaining terrorists. It clearly isn't a sufficient reply to the WTC crash. The civilized approach conveys an appearance of weakness. It's not going to happen.

At the other extreme lies over-shock, wherein we do something so much utterly worse back to them. Don't think "an eye for an eye", think "both eyes, your tongue, kneecaps, right arm, and your balls for good measure". It would be so completely devastating that everyone in the world gets the message "I think it might be best for us not to ever piss the USA off again". My favorite example is how Ender dealt with Stilson.

"We're willing to consider extenuating circumstances," the officer said. "But I must tell you it doesn't look good. Kicking him in the groin, kicking him repeatedly in the face and body when he was down--sounds like you really enjoyed it."
"I didn't," Ender whispered.
"Then why did you do it?"
"He had his gang there," Ender said.
"So? This excuses anything?"
"Tell me why you kept on kicking him. You had already won."
"Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too, right then, so they'd leave me alone."

The main problem with the over-shock approach is that the 10000ish dead of the WTC crash could only be outdone by inhuman levels of slaughter. For example, if Bin Laden did it, we'd have to kill every human being in the southern half of Afghanistan in order to make the point. That's obviously way too far over the top, but anything less wouldn't drop people's jaws. So scratch off Plan B.

Last there is the realistic plan. It won't be enough, and it will be too much. American troops will be standing on enemy soil by the end of the year. Some nations will be satisfied, others will seek to continue the cycle of blood. The big question is whether we hit the leaders. If not, there'll be Sarin gas in Grand Central Station a few years from now.

Copy Wrong

2001 February 18

A few years ago, free software zealot Richard Stallman wrote an allegory about a future without the right to read. It was cute but inconsequential, since the premise was too farfetched. How times have changed.

Multiple companies are falling over each other in a race to eliminate personal ownership and force you into perpetual leasing. They want to block out what you can hear, what you can see, what you can do, what you can own. Rather than eliminate the doctrines of Fair Use and First Sale, the DMCA simply makes your old rights irrelevant.

Publishers are even willing to come out and say "libraries are the enemy". Don't they realize it was supposed to be a joke?

So what can an individual do about it? Read. Learn. Join. Vote. Speak out. I can't believe this is happening so easily.

False Compromises

2001 February 10

A parable from Raymond Smullyan (retold by Douglas Hofstadter): Two boys are fighting over a piece of cake. Billy says he wants it all, Sammy says they should divide it equally. An adult comes along and asks what's wrong. The boys explain, and the adult says, "You should compromise -- Billy gets three quarters, Sammy gets one quarter".

Ariel Sharon's statement on East Jerusalem: there will be "deep concessions on both sides". What concessions, asked NPR? Answer: Sharon will generously allow the Palestinians to keep the territories they currently control, and not throw them out by force. Israel gets everything else.

And of course we come to the $1.6 trillion tax cut plan. Most Democrats and many Republicans prefer a more modest cut, perhaps $1 trillion or less. Another group (led by Patrick Toomey, who met with Bush a week earlier) proposes a bigger $2 trillion cut instead. Golly gee, says Dubya, I guess we should split the difference and stick with a reasonable $1.6 trillion.

My point here is left as an exercise for the reader.

Destroy All Monster Trucks!

2000 December 5

About my anti-SUV rant (see below) -- yes, that's really how I feel. Of course, none of this matters now that big oil owns the White House. But I still dream...

For example, the PT Cruiser is a station wagon, not an off-road vehicle. It should be treated as such. Meanwhile, the Chevy Suburban is a cargo truck, not a commuter car. It should be treated as such.

The effects would be quite remarkable. First, since the smaller SUVs (now called cars) would be pushing auto maker's averages above EPA's CAFE limits, they would work to build more efficient cars. Second, since the larger SUVs (now called trucks) would be off-limits to 90% of US drivers, our roads become cleaner and safer very quickly.

Oops! We elected the wrong guy by mistake!

2000 November 9

Visit my Theresa LePore ballot designer fan page. This election was a statistical dead heat. It could easily have gone the other way with just a few more Nader traders in New Hampshire ... or a different layout selected by one woman in one county of Florida.


2000 September 21

There are several hot button topics in this election that don't bother me much. Bush would reduce my taxes, but we don't need a tax break. We're not rich (yet), but we're doing fine. Bush would make abortion illegal, but we don't need one. Gore can talk about his "lock box", but Congress won't play along. Gun control, big tobacco, Medicare, and so on: either way is about the same to me.

No, my personal issues are rather specific -- I hate SUVs and I hate Microsoft's unfair practices. On both of those counts, I am strongly anti-Bush. Gore is only so-so, but the drunken frat boy will bring us to grief.

When Dubya is elected, the environment will get worse. For starters, increased mileage and emission standards will be scrapped. That translates to an instant rebate on all SUV purchases. Bush would drill in the Alaskan wildlife refuge to produce 1 million barrels per day. Joe Lieberman made a great point in the VP debate -- we could save 1 million barrels per day if the average American car got a measly 3 more miles per gallon.

Fucking bastards in their Excursions and Canyoneros piss me off much more than harcore racists do -- at least a neo-Nazi knows that he's hurting people. These selfish shitheads are my neighbors. I do bitch out my friends who drive guzzlers, but if I give the finger to people on my street it could affect my daughter.

Meanwhile, Dubya has loved M$ for a long time now. He'll have the Justice Dept settle the case on Microsoft's terms. Embrace, extend, extinguish.

So what to do? If either of the Republicrats own your state and there's no chance of changing the outcome, vote for one of the other candidates, such as Browne (Libertarian), Buchanan (Reform), or Nader (Green). Doesn't matter which. Really! Having more parties of any sort is A Good Thing.

Addendum 2001/Feb: I was right on both counts.

Return of Melissa

2000 May 8

Salon Magazine nailed ILOVEYOU right on the head. cNet News also did a decent job explaining who is really to blame.

Addendum 2001/Mar, et al: Just a reminder: Melissa, Bubbleboy, KakWorm, ExploreZip, LoveBug, AnnaKournikova, NakedWife, SirCam. Look Out!

School Shootings, Goths, and several related issues

2000 Jan 9

In many ways, those assholes were my descendants. Back in high school, my friends and I wore black trenchcoats (although ours were el-cheapo from Sunny's Surplus), enjoyed industrial (gothic) techno, and generally reveled in being outcasts. We even read the Anarchist Cookbook and made homebrew bombs. Really.

Of course, we had two very big differences from the shooters. First, we were fucking bright, our course schedule was "Honors Everything", and we had absolutely no plans after high school except for "go to a science-oriented university". Second, we were rabidly anti-gun. Guns were for the dumb redneck kids with confederate flags painted on their pickup trucks (and our school had several matching that exact description). Why would we want guns? It was so much more fun to get back at our oppressors through untraceable pranks. But back to my rant.

1: It's Violent Media, Stupid.

Sure, my friends and I all watched Silence of the Lambs, and none of us decided to eat other people or make clothes out of skin. But it's not the reasonably sane folks who are out committing heinous crimes. It's nuthouses, addicts & dealers who are responsible for most violence against strangers.

People with weak minds are heavily influenced by what they see in movies. John Hinkley Jr watched Taxi Driver, then shot the President to impress Jodie Foster. Several teenage gangbangers watched Money Train, then decided to set subway ticket attendants on fire and rob them. Numerous football players watched The Program, then lay down in the middle of a highway to prove their courage (and got run over).

Hmm... that last one presents an idea. More movies should portray stupidly self-destructive acts as being cool, rather than stupidly violent acts against others. It's not so bad if idiot sheep remove themselves from the gene pool, rather than inflicting undeserved harm.

2: It's Bad Parenting, Stupid.

Very few felonies are committed by young children, but they sure are eye-catching on the evening news. I say that whenever a juvenile is convicted of a crime, the judge should calculate what the full-term adult prison sentence would be. If that number is larger than the amount the juvenile will actually serve, then any remainder is served by the parents (probably using house arrest and radio collars).

The whole point of juvenile court vs adult court is the theory that young children are not fully responsible for their own actions. Well then, the people who are responsible should be punished.

3: It's Guns, Stupid.

Why don't mass murders like Jonesboro happen in other industrialized countries? The Constitution has two spots with particularly confusing language, and the "well-regulated militia" part is one of them.

Verifiable Voting in Maryland

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