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Friday, March 31, 2006


LJ user and Peak_Oil lj community member [|everydayreform] [|points us] to [|an interesting press release] on regarding the best way to invest your money while still taking peak oil into account.

There's no point in investing money if the lack of oil is going to prohibit the making of money. Now, mind you the post at PRWeb is just that: a post at PRWeb, so it's just a straight advertisement. Still, it's important to think about the direction things are going in.

Do I believe that peak oil is real and that we just might be on the cusp of a world-changing-event like the Industrial Revolution? While I don't want to put my money down on anything, I do think changing our way of life to be a good thing even if the end of the world as we know it isn't coming.

After all, I live in LA--you think I enjoy breathing in toxic air and paying absurd prices for gas when I borrow my wife's CRV? No--we can make changes and we should make changes--global warming/peak oil or no...


In case you haven't heard, Rep. Cynthia McKinney was rumored to have punched a cop who grabbed her after she failed to stop so she could be identified at a security check on Capital Hill. Check out [|my first post on McKinney] for more on this.

Today, [|an article] at is reporting that there will be an arrest warrant issued for McKinney--a United States Congresswoman is going to be arrested, apparently, because she punched a Capital cop for grabbing her after she blew him off after he failed to recognize her or see her ID.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Sec. of State Conolleeza Rice admitted that she and the Bush Administration made thousands of mistakes in Iraq. No, seriously, she did. Check out this clip from [|this March 31, 2006 article] at (my emphasis added):
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accepted on Friday the United States had probably made thousands of errors in Iraq but defended the overall strategy of removing Saddam Hussein.

Local Muslims and anti-war activists told Rice to "Go Home" when counterpart Jack Straw earlier led her on a tour of his home town of Blackburn in the industrial northwest, an area which rarely plays host to overseas politicians.

"Yes, I know we have made tactical errors, thousands of them," she said in answer to a question over whether lessons had been learnt since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

So, let me get this straight:

1) The Bush Administration get 13 Strikes against it (breaking international law by invading Iraq, violating the federal ban on covert propaganda, warrantlessly wiretapping Americans, to name just four of the 13).

2) Condi admits thousands of mistakes in connection to the Iraq Attack and occupation that is now responsible for tens of thousands of Iraqi dead and thousands of American military dead.

3) McKinney over-reacts to a grabby cop and punches him.

4) McKinney is arrest-worthy, but not Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, etc...

If historians will be allowed to tell the truth in the future, they are not going to look fondly on this era...

Super-Mario Brothers DS Pushed Back

Just a quick note for anyone looking forward to the release (as I am) of the new Super Mario Brothers DS game that is coming out in just two months. Turns out it's been pushed back to May 21, 2006. I believe the previous date was the 17. I'm not sure why they want to release it on a Sunday, but whatever. You can read more about this in [|a March 31, 2006 post] at

Ballpoint Adventures for March 31, 2006 by ThePete

Ballpoint Adventures for March 31, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)


One of my best friends IMed me the night before last with the following messages:

Hey, had to tell you this....I went to the Dollar Tree today in Champaign Illinois.....they had PREGNANCY TESTS there


but they were keeping them behind the counter, so I guess that's okay, huh? LOL that was SO surreal

Yeah--that's pretty bizarre! I wish birth control pills were as cheap as pregnancy tests!!


Wow--the world is ending, apparently. While many of us have been talking about [|peak oil] and global warming for years now, it seems to be turning into something cool to report on both.

Time.Com has [,9171,1176980,00.html|a huge cover story] on the polar ice caps melting way faster than anyone expected. 60 Minutes did [|a thing] back in February of 2006 on global warming that I blogged on, as well. Salon.Com has posted [|a huge piece on life after peak oil]. As all of this is going on we get [|little reminders of the end of the world] like the new city-sized iceberg that broke off the Antarctican continent [|this March 27, 2006 article] at LiveScience.Com reported on.

With all this mainstream attention put on these serious issues I am finding myself suddenly suspicious of it all. Usually the media trumps crap up, like the War Against Terror and the bird flu. The odds are incredibly low that anyone you know will die from bird flu or a terrorist bomb, yet the entire world is going to change thanks to global warming and peak oil--I guess.

It's kind of a chicken little deal. The media crows about all sorts of imaginary threats and now that they're finally crowing about two real ones my urge is to be suspicious.

I guess we'll just wait and see if oil continues it's rise along with the temperature of the globe.

We're sure feeling it here in LA--it's raining AGAIN here. GW is screwing up the weather on planet Earth something royal.

OH yeah and just so I don't seem like I'm taking all the credit for being ahead of my time on talking about this peak oil stuff, [|Fireghost] [|posted a link to a PDF transcript of a lecture] given by scifi writer Isaac Asmiov in 1974 that recounts a 1933 prediction of what modern life would be like after fossil fuel depletion.

In short, we've known all along that we'd run out of oil eventually but we decided not to prepare for that eventual reality.

Find more great posts on peak oil in the Peak_Oil LJ community.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


K, so I'm not a fan of prying into people's private lives--that is unless they're setting a lousy example for their fellow human. In this case, it's Scientology in the crosshairs [|once again]. See, I have no problem with religions of any kind until they start to use said religions as motivation to harm themselves or others. In this case, it's Tatie--er--Kam, I'll just go with Tomkat, who are said to be giving birth the Scientology way--in silence so as not to scare the living crap out of the baby as he/she is born.

In theory, this makes sense. Except for the fact that it could harm the mom. Expressing pain is a part of dealing with it. I'm no doctor, but my guess is surpressing it could be harmful to Katie's health. Just my take on it, of course. I mean, come on--if Xenu had wanted us to be born in silence why did he make birth so painful?

Hell, I'm guessing the experience is pretty messed up for the kid being born anyway--how much more damage are screams going to do.

Of course, in the interest of full-disclosure, I am biased--I was born cesarean, so I suppose I shouldn't comment. :)

Read more about this in [,,2-2006140204,00.html|an article] at

In other scientology news, Nick Madigan of the Baltimore Sun newspaper recorded [|a short show and podcast] for KCRW.Org this week and it's all about Scientology/Tom Cruise/Isaac Hayes/South Park. He points out how in the interest of political correctness (I'm paraphrasing) most of the press fails to do the proper digging when covering stories related to Scientology. He mentions that the Scientology high-up mucky-mucks have been known for doing exactly what the rumors say Cruise did to Comedy Central--pressure them to make changes.

Madigan goes on to point out other things not often discussed about Scientology ending with his opinion that his own brother's life was ruined by Scientology. From my own personal research I can vouch for everything up to the stuff about his brother--my little brother's Catholic and there's absolutely NOTHING wrong with those guys! ;)


So, you may have heard about Democrat Congressperson Cynthia McKinney punching a United States Capitol police officer. Here's the way it is supposed to have happened, according to [|a March 30, 2006 article] at 11alive.Com:
Sources say that the officer was at a position in the Longworth House Office Building, and neither recognized McKinney, nor saw her credentials as she went around the metal detector.

The officer called out, “Ma’am, Ma’am,” and walked after her in an attempt to stop her. When he caught McKinney, he grabbed her by the arm.

Witnesses say McKinney pulled her arm away, and with her cell phone in hand, punched the officer in the chest.

According to the Drudge Report, the entire incident is on tape. Drudge continues, "The cop is pressing charges, and the USCP (United States Capitol Police) are waiting until Congress adjourns to arrest her, a source claims."

Before I play the role of McKinney apologist, I'd just like to point out that McKinney has had a history of being outspoken against Bush and the neo-con policies that have ruled America and much of the world since 911. She actually spoke out against Bush being assumed the winner of the 2000 presidential election, too. As a result, she believes, the Republicans got an African American woman to run against her in 2002--she lost her seat but was able to get it back in 2004 (I may be off on the dates, but everything else should be accurate). In other words, she was targetted by the Republicans as a loud-mouth trouble-maker.

She's the last person on Congress to keep her mouth shut when it comes to things she doesn't like. So, when Drudge, of all sources, posts a story about her punching a cop, I was immediately suspicious. Then I read the above description of the supposed events and I just shrug.

It seems to me like she was just shoving the cop back--saying she punched the cop conjurs images of real violence--not the reality of a busy Congresswoman getting grabbed on her way to work. If this cop actually does press charges, I'll be interested in seeing proof that McKinney's "punch" did any damage at all.

In short, it's my belief that this is just another attempt to silence her or smear her. It won't be the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last. Seems anyone who has the history of trying to fight the powers that be gets stomped on. Too bad we can't trust our leaders (both political and media) to do the right thing.

OH yeah--and if you click through to that article you'll see a very unflattering picture of McKinney. She dresses professionally every day of her life and they run a picture of her in some sort of graduation gowny-type-thing. It makes her look like she's just shared the stage with Aretha Franklin. Do [|a Google image search] as see how many pages you can find of pictures more flattering than the one the article uses.

Original Enigma On eBay

Wow--you got 13,000 Euros? You, too, can own an Enigma coding device! In case you didn't know, the Enigma was the device the Nazis used to pass secret messages to each other. Go check out the decent (but not great) movie Enigma for a decent primer on some of the history surrounding this device.

[|Check out the auction] on

Ballpoint Adventures for March 30, 2006 by ThePete

Ballpoint Adventures for March 30, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)

The iPod Sports New Volume Control--SO WHAT??

Man, over the past couple of days I have seen a huge stack of articles about how the latest iPod firmware upgrade allows the user to limit how loud the volume can get. This is an unofficial response to lawsuits Apple is dealing with that claim they don't do enough to prevent hearing loss in iPod users. Regardless of all of that, WHO CARES??


This lawsuit is absurd, too--you need to be a brain surgeon to know that playing music too loud is bad for you???


And hey you tech journalists--GET A REAL STORY TO WRITE ABOUT!

Ooo, the iPod has a VOLUME CONTROL!! NEAT!


Remember my [|post on how Bush used signing statements to qualify the torture ban effectively negating any good the anti-torture law could do]? Yeah, well, Bush has done it again with the new abridged version of the Patriot Act. The following comes from [|a transcript] of the DemocracyNow.Org [|podcast from March 27, 2006] :
the Bush team has never vetoed a single bill in the five years he’s been president now. Instead, they’ve used these signing statements to say that ‘we will take, you know, the bits that we want and ignore the other parts.’ And no one has been used to looking at these things.

So, Bush issued this signing statement on the PATRIOT Act on March 9th, the same day that he signed the bill. But it went almost unnoticed. There were a few legal specialist blogs that sort of took note of it in a wry way. I wrote this article that came out in Friday's paper. And there was a huge response, as people realized what he had done again. But that was the first time in the mainstream media, at least, that it's received any kind of attention.

Oh, this is getting so OLD... how much of this do we have to sit through before someone in DC decides to enforce the law???

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


According to [|a March 10, 2006 article] at Reuters.Com Wal-Mart wants to open a bank in Utah. Of course, the next logical step, one assumes, is for them to open branches of said bank in Wal-Marts around the country (world?). According to the article:
A group of lawmakers on Friday said an industrial bank owned by Wal-Mart, {...} the world's largest retailer, could threaten the stability of the U.S. financial system and drive community banks out of business.

In a highly critical letter to the acting chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., obtained by Reuters, a group of more than 30 Congress members asked the bank regulator to reject Wal-Mart's application to open a bank in Utah.

"Wal-Mart's plan, to have its bank process hundreds of billions in transactions for its own stores, could threaten the stability of the nation's payments system," the lawmakers wrote.

"Given Wal-Mart's massive scope and international dealings, it is not possible to rule out a financial crisis within the company that could damage the bank and severely disrupt the flow of payments throughout the financial system."

The congressmen said the losses to the FDIC, which insures deposits at banks and thrift institutions, could be staggering if Wal-Mart begins to have financial troubles that bleed into its bank's business.

"Consider the consequences if Enron or WorldCom had owned a bank," the group said.

Oo, good point--but what if that happens with any huge company that happens to own a bank? Well, anyway, what Wal-Mart wants Wal-Mart usually gets.

One thing it doesn't want is to get into the hotel business--not yet, anyway. This dumb college kid, according to [|a March 27, 2006 article] at DesmoinesRegister.Com, planned to spend his entire spring break in a Wal-Mart just to see if it could really meet all of his needs 24/7.

Of course, the puss bailed two days in and the article doesn't say entirely why. Here are a few excerpts:
Some kids go to Cancun. Skyler Bartels, a Drake University sophomore from Harvard, Neb., went to the garden and patio department.

The great experiment had been over for a few days, but Bartels was still in great-experiment mode. As we sat at a booth in the Subway sandwich shop toward the front of the store, he glanced at the friendly white-haired Wal-Mart greeters.

Were they onto him? Why were they staring? Bartels was still suffering from greeter phobia.

He was never out to get Wal-Mart, he explained. This wasn't supposed to be an expose.


This was part sociology experiment, part school project. Bartels is a writing major. Maybe he'd put it all down on paper and pick up an independent study credit, or even sell it to somebody someday.

Maybe he'd move on to another Wal-Mart and produce a documentary, like the guy who ate nothing but McDonald's for a month.

All of this seems to make sense, so far, but check the following out:
Bartels got the idea from a commercial. Was it true what those happy, shiny people were telling him: "Always low prices. Always"?

Following this logic, he was doing this project simply to find out if Wal-Mart had low prices, say, at 2am or at 5:42:30am. The article goes on in the very next paragraph:
Could the biggest, most successful discount store in the world really meet his every need? Twenty-four hours a day? That's what the TV spots were telling him.

WHAT? This makes no sense. The reporter goes from the "always low prices" thing to "meeting his every need"?? There is no logic to this.

So, why did Bartels bail? Here's what the article says:
By Tuesday morning, not even halfway through the great experiment, the store was on to him.

"I noticed the greeters pointing at me," he said. "Somebody got on the intercom and announced a meeting of the department managers. One of the shift managers came up to me and asked, very politely, if I needed anything. I could have told him where everything was."

His debit account was frozen. He was exhausted and paranoid. Game over. His med-student brother picked him up and took him away.

HUH? He wasn't caught, arrested or even kicked out. He just sort of gave up. The article doesn't explain why his "debit account was frozen" or if the Wal-Mart staff were really on to him.

What terrible journalism and what a lame kid. He could have made history--he could have made his career right out of the gate--instead, he screws the pooch and gets his 15 minutes of fame for actually NOT doing something.

Wal-Mart is the perfect target for something like this. Most stores are open 24 hours--they can't really kick you out as long as you're not causing any problems, so why did he puss out??

OK, I've done enough free advertizing for Wal-Mart.


Literally years ago I first discovered the female Iraqi blogger Riverbend ( Reading her blog almost every day I was able to follow the way things only seemed to be getting worse after the fall of Sadam. In her blog River recounts the things that she or her roommate (and family member, I think) "E" have experienced in the time since the Americans came.

After quite a while of reading I began to grow a little weary of her accounts of life in Baghdad. I have always had sympathy for her, her fellow Iraqis and what they all are going through, but reading about it (along with all the other incredibly depressing stuff I read) every day got to be a bit too much for me so I stopped. Every once in a while though I stop in and see how she's doing. Today was one of those days. In [|her most recent entry] she talks of a disturbing thing she read on a local news show's ticker. Here's a clip:
E. was sitting at the other end of the living room, taking apart a radio he later wouldn’t be able to put back together. I called him over with the words, “Come here and read this- I’m sure I misunderstood…” He stood in front of the television and watched the words about corpses and Americans and puppets scroll by and when the news item I was watching for appeared, I jumped up and pointed. E. and I read it in silence and E. looked as confused as I was feeling.

The line said:

وزارة الدفاع تدعو المواطنين الى عدم الانصياع لاوامر دوريات الجيش والشرطة الليلية اذا لم تكن برفقة قوات التحالف العاملة في تلك المنطقة

The translation:

“The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.”

That’s how messed up the country is at this point.

In short, people who look like the military may not be the military. Iraqis are now being told to not trust any military unless Americans (or other coalition soldiers) are there, as well. This is even more frightening if you consider that [|the Americans have been accused of a massacre recently].

I often find myself complaining about not being able to trust anyone on TV to privde the truth. This is nothing compared to what the Iraqis now must deal with. They can't trust military people to not kill them.

On a somewhat lighter note, Riverbend also did [|her own version of the Oscars], substituting Hollywood stars with local and international occupation-related celebs.

Here's the main URL again just in case:

Ballpoint Adventures for March 29, 2006 by ThePete

Ballpoint Adventures for March 29, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)


Ugh, lots to cover on Iraq.

First up, there's W and Dick complaining about how the media doesn't report the good stuff that is going on in Iraq. On March 27, 2006, [|IMDB's Studio Briefing] [|reported] that:
CBS correspondent Lara Logan reacted angrily over the weekend to comments by President Bush and Vice President Cheney that the news media are not reporting on progress on the rebuilding of Iraq and are focusing on violence there instead. Interviewed in Baghdad for the CNN program Reliable Sources, Logan said, "I really resent the fact that people say that we're not reflecting the true picture here. That's totally unfair and it's really unfounded." She said that it is generally difficult to report on reconstruction because reporters are hamstrung by the increasingly difficult security situation preventing them from moving about the country.

That's so funny. Effectively, she's explaining that if things weren't such a mess she could report on the good stuff. :)

Nailed 'em!

Then, on March 28, 2006 IMDB's Studio Briefing [|reported] that NBC Nightly News anchor has commented on his blog:
"that our colleague at ABC News, Bob Woodruff, is engaged in a personal and titanic struggle to fully recover from the wounds he received while trying to cover the 'good news' in Iraq. ... Many of the journalists killed while covering this war were doing the exact same thing."

Nailed 'em again! Damn liberal media! ;) (Liberal apparently means "truthful" and/or "accurate.")

Next up, Reuters.Com published [|an article on March 27, 2006] that reports:
Iraq's ruling parties demanded U.S. forces cede control of security on Monday as the government launched an inquiry into a raid on a Shi'ite mosque that ministers said saw "cold blooded" killings by U.S.-led troops.


Iraq's security minister accused U.S. and Iraqi forces of killing 37 unarmed civilians in the mosque after tying them up.

Hm, this would jive with [|that suspicion I had regarding the destruction of the golden domed mosque in Samarra being US supported]. However, [|another article], this one dated the same day as the article at Reuters.Com, reports:
US troops defend raid, say Iraqis faked "massacre"

U.S. commanders in Iraq on Monday accused powerful Shi'ite groups of moving the corpses of gunmen killed in battle to encourage accusations that U.S.-led troops massacred unarmed worshippers in a mosque.

"After the fact, someone went in and made the scene look different from what it was. There's been huge misinformation," Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, said.

THAT'S bloody rich coming from Americans who pay a PR firm to plant positive stories written by American GIs in local Iraqi newspapers!!

What a mess this all is.

Come on, folks! Enough's enough! Time to pull our guys out, civil war or no. We're clearly not capable of making things cool in Iraq so we should stop making things worse. Man, I'd love it if there was some other super-power that could keep American forces at bay. Until there is one (and even then) America will never just mind her own damn business.

So, let's pull out and trust the Iraqis to create a country for themselves.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Which Super Hero Are You?

I was a little nervous about this, but check it out, I'm Green Lantern! COOL!

Your results:
You are Green Lantern

Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

I was concerned I'd be Blue Beetle.



Wow--according to EditorAndPublisher.Com, [|a new Gallup poll] says that the number one concern most Americans have right now is healthcare--NOT the war on terror!


Healthcare is actually a good thing to be concerned about!

It also means that the excuse of "fighting the War Against Terror" just may be losing its traction with the average American citizen.

Of course, there's still plenty of other things that we really need to be more worried about. For instance, there's poverty, our seriously sinking economy, and, of course, the environment. However, once the ability for the trumped up war against terror (a few thousand people who don't even have nukes) completely runs out of juice as far as influencing the American populace, you can expect to see "grave threats" from mad cow disease and bird flu. After that, we'll probably see an alien invasion--only the aliens will be those "animal/human" hybrids Bush warned us about in his State of the Union address. Why do you think he wants to ban the creation of such beings? Because he wants government scientists to have the monopoly on animal/human hybrids, that's why!!!


I am, of course, KIDDING... well, the faked alien threat. Although if aliens with rabbit heads do show up, don't say I didn't warn you!!


OK, here's the deal. Chevy has a "make your own Tahoe ad" contest that allows anyone with a browser to whip up their own TV spot for the Chevy Tahoe. Some "tree hugging" hippie-type had the brains to take full advantage of this by doing the best thing anyone could do--make a commercial slamming both Chevy for making GIANT vehicles like the Tahoe as well as stupid customers who don't really need GIANT vehicles like the Tahoe but buy them anyway.

For now the ad is [| here].

Though, I suspect it won't last long there. So, I've managed to post a copy of the video shot right off a laptop's screen (crappy audio and all) right here. Click the pic below to download the 5MB mp4 (iPod compatible, natch):

Please click through to page 2 of this post to see my post on this Chevy ad in its entirety.

Special thanks be to [|birdbard] for [|posting about this] to the Peak_Oil LJ community and to [|Ka-Crow] for [|posting a link] to his LJ before that.

OK, here's my orignal post in it's entirety:
|this video] at ChevyApprentice.Com QUICK before they take it
down!! It's awesome!! GO!!!


Then come back here for updates!!

UPDATES (3:34pm PT):

I'm working on getting a copy of the video up. I just need a bit more time. Also, thanks be to [|birdbard] for [|posting about this] to the Peak_Oil LJ community.


The director of one of my favorite films and the son of one of the best animators ever died over the weekend--his name was Richard Fleischer and he directed the classic scifi movie Soylent Green which is in my top 20 list of favorite films ever. You probably know the movie, or at least it's most famous line that gives away the big plot twist. That plot twist happens to be one of the most telling metaphors for humanity.

Fleischer also directed a STACK of other movies that helped shape the imaginations of countless movie goers over the span of five decades. While he will be missed his movies are still with us and I can guarantee that they will go on to influence people for many decades (centuries?) to come.

He was also the son of classic animator Max Fleischer who is best known, along with his own brother, Dave, for animating some amazing stuff from the very early days of animation. I always think of the old Superman cartoons. Clearly Max's son took his childhood with him into his adult life--something I wish more of us would do.

Rest in peace, Richard Fleischer.

Head over to for [,1,18655,00.html|a good obit for Fleischer].

Ballpoint Adventures for March 28, 2006 by ThePete

Ballpoint Adventures for March 28, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)


During the aftermath of all of the various screw ups of the Bush Administration we've heard the common excuse about whether members of said admin are going to resign. A good number of Bush's pals have been asked this with many of them dodging the question by simply saying "I serve at the president's pleasure."

For instance, check out [|this March 28, 2006 article] at AP.Org that reports on Andy Card's abrupt resignation and Joshua Bolten, his replacement:
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bolten will have the authority to make personnel shifts if he deems them necessary, and he declined to say whether top aides, such as the two current deputy chiefs of staff, Joe Hagin and Karl Rove, would remain in place.

"All of us serve at the pleasure of the president," McClellan said. "It's premature to talk about any future decisions that may or may not be made."

This may seem like a minor criticism, but that phrase is now starting to bother me as much as the use of the word "homeland" to describe America. It's obvious why "homeland" is a bad idea--because it's so similar to "fatherland." How many times have people like me been criticized for comparing Bush and Co. to the Nazis? Well, Bush started it.

Anyway, so any time someone refers to "serving at the president's pleasure" I get unnerved. This makes it sound like the people saying it are willing subjects of the crown. Except, this is America, we don't have a "crown" in any real sense. Still, this sort of phrasing, I am concerned, will encourage the mindset in Americans that the government and Bush are royalty.

It's bad enough we STILL can't know for sure if Bush really won the presidency in 2000 or 2004 (with no real investigations of either), it's bad enough Bush did, in fact, follow many Nazi battle tactics and strategies in the Iraq war (no, serious, he did--go find a copy of the book Shock and Awe. It's all about Nazi war tactics). It's also bad enough that he almost always speaks only to his supporters and hardly ever allows his detractors in the room with him. He also has been accused of breaking a great many laws (and, in fact, has broken them) but has yet to answer to those accusations in any real way.

Now with phrases that refer to Bush's "pleasure" instead of his "discretion" or "judgement" it just might create the idea in the minds of the American public that the guy in the White House can make things happen based on his whim--by the wave of his hand or by the pointing of his thumb up or down. You know, like a Roman emperor.

Most Americans already think that Bush has the best interests of Americans at heart (they just disapprove of the way he's handled things) but fail to see that impeachment really is necessary. He's used nationalism, patriotism, the threat of new terrorist attacks and the memory of 911 to manipulate the American people into supporting him when there is no substantial threat from terrorists or anyone else.

Sure sounds like a king to me.

Monday, March 27, 2006


It's true! The #1, #2 and #4 are white, but the #3 richest man alive is Mexican. Can you believe it? There go all of my stereotypes out the window!!

Ha-ha, just kidding.

Anyway, so who is the #3 richest man on planet Earth? His name is Carlos Slim, although he is also known as Carlos Slim Helu. According to [|his entry] at Wikipedia.Org, Slim has a very fat bank account--he's worth $30 billion. That puts him just $20 billion behind Bill Gates.

Here's a bit more from Slim's Wikipedia entry:
Slim has six children and lives in Mexico City. He is an engineer by profession, graduated from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (National Autonomous University of Mexico) in 1961, where before graduating he taught Algebra and Linear Programming. He has given lectures in public and private institutions, and also in international bodies such as the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA).

So he started somewhat small--more medium sized, really--and then moved up from there. Check out a bit more:
He has been vice-president of the Mexican Stock Exchange and President of the Mexican Association of Brokerage Houses. He was the first President of the Latin-American Committee of the New York Stock Exchange Administration Council, and was in office from 1996 through 1998. He is on the Board of Directors of the Altria (Previously Philip Morris) Group and Alcatel, as well as for SBC Communications, a position from which he retired in July 2004 to devote more time to the Latin American Development Fund, focusing on infrastructure, health and education, amongst the most relevant work. He later built an important Mexican financial-industrial empire, Grupo Carso, that owns, among other companies the CompUSA electronic retail chain.

Sheesh--a Mexican owns a company with "USA" in the title. I've got nothing against Mexicans, but it seems a little disingenuous to me. I would say "more power to him" for being a non-white insanely rich guy, but you know what? It's totally not about being white, Mexican, black, Asian or whatever--it's about what you do with your money/power. Sure, he may be trying to help the Mexican economy, but he's on the BoD for Altria (fka Philip Morris, the cancer spreaders) so he's clearly yet another guy who is only interested in the financial bottom line rather than the well-being of humanity or even his customers.

I think he's worth of "Honorary White Guy" status on these grounds.


I'm a big fan of Google News (News.Google.Com). It's like DrudgeReport.Com only it's got actual content and it's updated all day and night long, practically. However, check out the news source for the article on the only real Al Qeada guy the US is prosecuting on this screengrab taken earlier today:

Yeeeeah, if you check out that site it's not exactly a real news source--it's just some dude who grabbed a copy of Wordpress 1.5.2 (a newer version of WP runs ThePete.Com) and set up shop with the slogan "Beating them with their own Sickle and Hammer!" underneath their logo that replaces the "C" in ACLU with a hammer and sickle. How clever--since one guy in the ACLU made the mistake of being filmed while admitting he was Mr. Pro-communism 50 years ago, now all the ACLU is to it's enemies is a commie org. Forget that it protects the rights of people on both sides of the fence.

ANYway, if these idiots can get treated like an official news source by Google News, I want to know how ThePete.Com can. I mean, come on--I'm more balanced than any of the corporate news sources, after all--which isn't saying much, granted.

Ballpoint Adventures for March 27, 2006 by ThePete

Ballpoint Adventures for March 27, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)


Not THAT Seal!
Money, money, money! That's what Canadian seal hunters are motivated by--not morals, not cute seals. Canadian seal hunters head out to hunt their prey at the time of year at which it's easiest to kill the most baby seals--when they're all hanging out together on the ice, trying to feed. Here are the first three paragraphs from [|a March 25, 2006 article] from Reuters.Com about the ritual:
Canadian hunters started shooting and clubbing harp seal pups on Saturday at the start of an annual hunt that is the focus of a tech-savvy protest by animal rights groups.

This year, 325,000 young seals will be killed on the ice floes off the East Coast where the animals gather.

Unusually warm weather means the floes are a fraction of their normal size and thickness, prompting hunters to kill the seals individually rather than clubbing them to death en masse as they cluster on the ice in pools of blood.

Sadly, this seal was clubbed.
Yeah, so the hunters actually have to WORK at killing them. They're still using clubs, though. Without those clubs there'd be no fun, right? Ugh... Here's more from that article:
Once the animals are killed, they are skinned and taken into the hunters' boats. The pelt is taken to make coats while the rest of the carcass is usually left behind.

At one point a hunter, frustrated at the activists' presence, picked up the bloody carcass of a skinned seal and threw it at a small inflatable craft full of protesters and journalists. It hit the boat and sank.

One sealing boat steamed straight toward the journalists' craft and turned at the last moment, sending a wave crashing over the observers.

The good news is that you can follow the wacky adventures of these lovable seal hunters ;) at where they are posting video clips of the carnage.

Hell, we see every day how horribly we humans treat fellow humans--to me, this kind of treatment of seals is not surprising in the least. The only real shock here is that the normally passive and docile Canadians are the ones committing the atrocity. [|Head on over and see what a fleshless baby seal looks like!] ...ugh...

Sunday, March 26, 2006


One of the many styles
of Art-O-Matic machines
out there
I believe in reincarnation--well, for vending machines, anyway. Haven't you ever wonder what happens to a cigarette machine when it stops vending packs of cancer sticks? It dies and comes back as an Art-O-Mat machine. Check out the one to the left, there. What's an Art-O-Mat machine, specifically?

Well, it's an old cigarette machine that has been restored and repurposed to sell small pieces of artwork. Yeah, pretty cool, huh? This is an interesting bit of competition for Mold-A-Rama, I should think (check out [|my Mold-A-Rama page]).

Art-O-Mat art designed
by folks at
I think this is an awesome idea--the artworks sold by the machines are small, but very cool. While the machines aren't everywhere, I think the potential is there for them to appear in many more places. I mean, what better way to help put more art out there in the world? Make it cheap and easy to buy--who needs galleries when you can buy small, inexpensive art from vending machines? It sounds kind of weird, granted, but why not embrace this? Hey, museums can be fascinating--but they can also be boring as hell--a vending machine that dispenses art is cool because of all the different types of art you might end up with. It's also fun because you get to work a machine--and EVERYone enjoys working machines, I think--right?

So, check out ArtOMat.Org and [|find an Art-O-Mat machine near you]. Supporting art has never been easier, cheaper or taken up so little wall space! :D

Thanks to RetroThing.Com for [|blogging on this]!

Ballpoint Adventures for March 26, 2006 by ThePete

Ballpoint Adventures for March 26, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)


Yep, I made the jump--I switched to T-Mobile pre-paid from Sprint's contract. The decision came when I was a whopping 2 days late with paying my Sprint bill and they suspended my service. I struggled with the decision for a couple of weeks and finally decided that my initial instinct was right. It was time to leave the contract cell phone service scene and go pre-paid.

First off, I was paying $80 a month for about 500-600 minutes of actual time used. Sure, I could have gone as high as 1000, but the only time I ever did was when I was putting on my play last year. FYI: $80 starts out as $45 a month but goes up a bit when you want free nights and weekends to start at 7pm. Then it's $50 a month. I also wanted free mobile-to-mobile, that was another $10. After beefing it up to $60, I then wanted to be text messaged every day with how many minutes I had left. This was another $3 a month. From the $63 to the $80 are all taxes. (I think I'm rounding up by like $3, but still.)

Since the bill's due date is just arbitrary anyway and I always do pay my bill, I'm not sure why treating me like a child and suspending my service when I'm a couple days late is acceptable. They didn't even call me to warn me or send me a late notice or even text a warning to me that service was about to be suspended. I think my choice to go pre-paid is perfectly justified because of that.

I got a cheesy, super-cheap Nokia 6101 for $80 with a $30 rebate. It's got no camera or anything, isn't bluetooth and doesn't have a data transfer cable, even--it's kind of quaint really. It does get OK reception in my apartment and that's the most important thing, really. It also came with 60 minutes of talk time and with my next big paycheck I'll be buying 1000 for $100--yep, those minutes cost more but they don't expire for a year and what happens if I move to a place that T-Mobile doesn't support (like another country)? Nada. I don't have to pay any fees to get out of a contract because I'm not in one.

My life just got so much more simple!!

No more paying the bill late, no more random outages of service because I paid my bill late--I just make a quick phone call to T-Mobile to find out how many minutes I have left (a free call) and that's that. I can buy more online, on the phone or at any number of stores--hell, even 7-11 apparently sells T-Mobile minutes!

Life is too short of complications.

Life is too short for contracts.

Go pre-paid, even if it isn't T-Mobile. Get the power back where it belongs--in your hands. Sure, you have to buy your phone and pay for more expensive minutes, but really, you're paying for your freedom.

GOD BLESS A CONTRACT-FREE AMERICA (and the rest of the world, too--no exceptions!)

To read about the last time I switched cell phone carriers, check out:

Friday, March 24, 2006


So, posts [|a March 23, 2006 article] on their site from AP.Org about how Democrats say Bush violated the Constitution and I'm like:

Wow! The Democrats are pointing out how, when Bush invaded Iraq, he violated the UN Charter and thanks to the US Constitution that makes all international treaties (like the UN charter) domestic law, too, he violated domestic law, too?

Sadly, that's not what happened.

Oh! Well, then they're pointing out how Bush violated the 4th ammendment with his warrentless wiretapping program!

Nope, it wasn't that, either.

It turns out that they're going after Bush on a technicality. Check out an excerpt from that article:
House Democrats want President Bush to say whether he knew of what they call a "fundamental constitutional problem" with the $39 billion deficit reduction package he signed last month.

A letter to Bush, signed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Henry Waxman of California and released Thursday, is the latest challenge to a bill that was passed in slightly different forms by the House and Senate before it was sent to Bush.

"A bill is not law unless the same version is passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by the president," top Democrats wrote to Bush. He signed it on Feb. 8.

The Senate version of the bill said Medicare can pay to rent some types of medical equipment for 13 months, as intended by congressional negotiators. A clerk erroneously wrote down 36 months before the bill was sent back to the House for a final vote, and that's what the House approved Feb. 1.

Yeah, talk about a technicality!

This is crazy though--they've got Bush on so many laws he's broken--I can't imagine why they don't just nail him.

There's the UN Charter/Iraq Attack thing that's a violation of both international and domestic law. There's this new wiretapping thing and then, my favorite old chestnut, the violation of the law banning covert propaganda. Bush violated that when his administration produced commercials for various Bush programs but made them look like news programs--they didn't source them to the US government--this is a violation of federal law.

Then there's the whole "betraying the public trust" thing. Clinton lied under oath about oral sex in the Oval Office and he got impeached. Bush got us in Iraq based on what ended up being untruths--whether you believe they were lies or not, they were wrong and in my job if I screw up as bad as Bush did I get fired.

So, anyway, they've got all that against Bush yet they go after him for a technicality.

Well, whatever--if the USG could get Al Capone for tax evasion, I'll settle for impeaching Bush on a technicality.

OH and that's not all we heard this week from the Democrats. Madeleine Albright penned [,0,5251258.story?coll=la-home-commentary|an opinion piece] for LATimes.Com slamming Bush for using a tragedy, not a strategy. Check out this clip:
THE BUSH administration's newly unveiled National Security Strategy might well be subtitled "The Irony of Iran." Three years after the invasion of Iraq and the invention of the phrase "axis of evil," the administration now highlights the threat posed by Iran — whose radical government has been vastly strengthened by the invasion of Iraq. This is more tragedy than strategy, and it reflects the Manichean approach this administration has taken to the world.

It is sometimes convenient, for purposes of rhetorical effect, for national leaders to talk of a globe neatly divided into good and bad. It is quite another, however, to base the policies of the world's most powerful nation upon that fiction. The administration's penchant for painting its perceived adversaries with the same sweeping brush has led to a series of unintended consequences.

Understatement from the woman who reportedly said the millions of children who died thanks to the sanctions on Iraq was worth it.

Still, it's nice to see them damn Dems doing something--even if they still have a long way to go to having a full-on spine.


Hey, well, never let me be accused of not being the independent I call myself. ABCNews.Com reported in [|a March 22, 2006 article] that new docs have been uncovered that seem to suggest at least a vague connection between Al Qeada and Saddam Hussein. There are actually quite a few documents that the article talks about--but the gist is that while there is no solid proof where Saddam says officially "Yes, Osama, my friend, we are working together."

They had a couple of tentative deals, though. Osama asked Saddam through an aide of Saddam's if Saddam could run some religious radio shows. Saddam agreed. Saddam also apparently showed some interest in forming an "operational relationship" with Osama, but there's no proof that this relationship ever happened.

Still, it's enough, I would think, for Republicans and Bush to run with. They have been making a habit of inflating the tiniest morsel into a giant buffet.

Ha-ha--wouldn't you know it? ABC changed the article--it's now about how the Russians may have passed the US war plan to Saddam before it happened. The article has much of the same content, but now the date is changed to March 23. Oh well, the gist is the same, ultimately.


I'm not kidding--well, at least, I don't think I'm kidding. I mean, what can you trust these days? Regardless, AP.Org reported in [|a March 23, 2006 article] at MercuryNews.Com that:
A videocamera recorded a 63-year-old hospital patient dressed only in a gown and slippers being dumped onto a skid row street - a controversial practice that has come under fire from police, politicians and homeless advocates.

Officials from Kaiser Permanente's Bellflower hospital apologized for the incident, which occurred Monday and was revealed by authorities during a Wednesday news conference.

The videotape, recorded by a camera mounted outside the downtown Union Rescue Mission, shows a taxicab making a U-turn and driving out of camera view. Moments later, a woman appears from the direction of the cab, wandering for about three minutes on a street and a sidewalk before mission staff take her inside the building.

"I'm just concerned about a society that would drop its most vulnerable onto the streets of skid row," said the mission's president, Andy Bales, who witnessed the incident. "It really troubles me."

The patient, Carol Ann Reyes of Gardena, said in an interview that she could not remember what happened when she left the hospital, where she had been a patient for three days, or how she got to skid row.

Los Angeles police Capt. Andrew Smith said he believes she was taken there against her will.

City Councilwoman Jan Perry described the episode as "egregious."

Diana Bonta, vice president of public affairs for Kaiser Southern California, said the incident violated hospital policy and would not occur again.

The issue of dumping people released from jails and hospitals onto skid row surfaced in September, when Smith publicly complained about it.

The city attorney's office is investigating and may criminally charge or sue hospitals that drop off patients against their will, officials said.

Wow--it's happened more than once! Yikes! Why the hell does it happen? Patients can't pay? Patients smell too bad? Too many patients?


Now I've got another reason to not like doctors/hospitals. GREAT.


OK, rant time. I'm running a bit late for work this morning. I've got to leave at 11:30 to safely get to Hollywood by 12:30pm to set up a film festival I'm projecting for. Not a huge deal if I'm late, but still, I like to be on time/professional so when I get out of the house at 11:45, I realize I'm going to be taking full advantage of my 80cc scooter--especially since I need to hit the PO Box to check on a check from a web client. Of course, the check wasn't there, but the slight detour slowed me down nonetheless.

See, that's what makes a scooter, even a slow one like mine, a great choice for a traffic-stupid city like LA. It may have the smallest engine on the road, but thanks to the absurd traffic situation in this city, during rush hour I can beat a Ferrari across town--seriously. When I used to drive a Nissan Maxima, a trip from the West Side into Hollywood would take an hour. I can do it in half that time if I take full advantage of my scooterness.

What that means is that I drive in between stopped cars at traffic lights and when making right-hand turns I move inbetween stopped cars and the curb. Once in a blue moon I'll pass moving traffic, but that's only for safety's sake, to get out of the way of a vehicle that can't pick a lane.

So, it's now about 12 Noon and I'm zipping along, not being dangerous in the least, but I do drive in between cars when they are stopped. I see other bikers doing this all the time. I did have a weak moment where I actually passed moving cars, but it was only for about ten seconds--again, not dangerous in the least. Oh and I ALWAYS signal.

So, about halfway through my trip I've just turned off SM Blvd for Beverly Blvd and I am coming up behind this big cargo truck when I see a black Mercedes slowly move into the right lane (my lane), just as I am about to take up the same space as it. The driver isn't signalling. He's just veering. He sees me (I assume), stops, moves back into his lane despite the fact that I've slowed down to let him in. I speak outloud when I ride because no one can really hear me over my own engine. I suppose it's possible he could have read my lips in his rear view mirror as I called him a dickhead for not just going since he wasn't bothering to signal anyway. Regardless, he doesn't, the light changes and he takes off.

I hit the throttle as well, racing up behind him and then cutting in front of the big cargo truck which is lumbering along slowly, now behind me. I then zoom off as traffic in the lefthand lane slows down (I don't really "zoom" at all since it was really just traffic slowing down that made me feel like I was moving fast). At the next light the black Mercedes pulls up next to me and the white guy behind the wheel calls out to me.

"Hey," he says smiling, holding his black cell phone to his face--he's not calling anyone, just holding it to his jaw absent-mindedly.

"Hi," I say back in a tone that suggests I'm suspicious of strange men talking to me in traffic.

"You drive that thing pretty aggressively," he tells me.

"I have to," I reply.

"Well, be careful on that thing."


Light changes and I take off.

Fuckin' hell, man! How old will I be before people stop lecturing me on my behavior? How old will I have to look before people like this rich idiot think "no, I'm sure he knows what he's doing."

I mean, OH YEAH, my little 80cc Honda Elite is a major danger on the roads of Los Angeles!! WOOOOO!! LOOK OUT!

Here comes ThePete RACING ALONG AT A WHOPPING 43mph!! 47 down a hill!! YOWZA!!

I know it was just a few words exchanged an he probably wasn't even thinking about what he was saying (which is still lame) but when you consider just how many conversations LA drivers have with one another while on the road, you'll realize that this was a serious anomoly.

In hindsight I really feel like I should have read him the riot act. He's the rich guy driving around in a Mercedes--not one of the most energy or cost efficient vehicles around. I pay less than $3 to fill my tank even these days while he must pay over $30. I spew a tiny fraction of the polution he does into the air.

My scooter cost me $800--he probably pays more than half that every month in financing payments. Hell, if I crash my bike into something, the damage on most vehicles will be minimal if existent at all--sure, I'll be horribly mamed or killed, but that's my risk.

To me it struck me that this guy was suffering from two things and I'm not sure which:

1) Jealousy. Seeing another little prick on a bike blow past me in rush hour traffic, seemingly without a care in the world is something I myself have experienced. I beat that feeling by selling my car and buying a bike. ;)

2) Pomposity. A typical male affliction--especially typical among white men. Again, I suffer from this every so often, too. That doesn't make it right. The idea, here, is that you always think you are right, so when you see something you think is wrong, you have to say something about it (without considering whether you maybe wrong). He saw me and thought "he's not driving the way I would!" and decided to say something if/when he had the chance.

I'm all for interacting with my fellow human. I just wish people could think before they interact with me. Sure, I do/say stupid things, too. But I can at least say that I think about what I am about to say/do before I say/do it. I highly doubt this guy did that.

I mean, hell--I'm a licensed driver of motorcycles. I'd wager he's never even set his clammy white buttcheeks on one. Of all the things he had to speak up about, it was me--in the middle of traffic. NO ONE talks to other drivers in LA traffic, yet something I was doing was SO WRONG that he HAD to say something.

Get a hobby, dude.

Another thing that annoyed me about that guy was that I could barely hear him--do you know how hard it is to have a conversation with a helmet on? I can hear traffic sounds just fine, but words are muffled.

And what was that thing with the cell phone? Why was he holding it like that? Was that some sort of threat? "Oh, if you don't drive the way I want you to, I'll call the cops!"

Yeah, and then I'll tell them how you endangered my life by not checking to see if there was another vehicle in the lane before you started to swerve into my space--without signalling, no less (you didn't even signal when you decided to move back into your lane).

I hate to think of myself as a misanthrope--but what the hell else am I supposed to be when my fellow human gives me so many reasons to dislike him?

Ballpoint Adventures for March 24, 2006 by ThePete

Ballpoint Adventures for March 24, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)


Let's hear it for unorthodox weddings!! I think they're awesome, if I do say so myself. Joining the ranks of the nonchurch-married husband and wife teams are my 'net buddies Kris and Chris who, just this Monday, tied the knot at Disneyland. Check out [|their official announcement] (at their site DreamLogic.Net) or check out [|the pics from their day].


Those golden ears look great on you!


So, the below grab comes from DrudgeReport.Com yesterday, late afternoon (I believe):

I guess the idea is that we should all be so shocked that a guy who helps run ABC News doesn't like Bush.

Why should we be shocked that someone doesn't like Bush?

We're not shocked that Fox News loves to love Bush.

With all the things Bush has screwed up royal over the past however many years he's been in the White House it's shocking that our media and our government is so lame that both allow Bush to remain in the White House.

This is absurd.

Besides all of that, this guy sent a private email to someone. Why shouldn't he be honest in a private email? Sure, no email is truly private, but the point is, he wasn't being critical of Bush in an official sense, so why are we shocked that he's human and has an opinion?

I say bless this guy for letting it slip that he at least knows Bush is bad--it's just a shame more people in the media don't have the balls to say it publically.

It's just our country, folks!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ballpoint Adventures for March 23, 2006 by ThePete

Ballpoint Adventures for March 23, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)


I bet most Americans think the news media is just another genre of business. Something that you train to do in college and then you do it and it's "how you make a living" and nothing more. The sad thing is that the news media is supposed to be as important as a branch of the US government. Why is this? It is because the news media is the only way to know whether the government is lying to us or not.

It isn't about being liberal or conservative--it's about challenging the government no matter who's in office. If Bush says "The sky is blue," it's not enough for a journalist to then report "According to Bush, the sky is blue."

It's that journalist's job to challenge Bush. "How do you know the sky is blue? Are you sure it will stay blue? What do you say to reports that the sky isn't blue at certain times of the day?"

To that Bush would then reply: "We have been told by experts around the world that the sky is blue."

That's not enough either.

"What experts? Can you tell us their names?"

"Uhhh, British experts and French experts all say the sky is blue."

"What are their names? I'll need to contact them."

"Uhhh, I can vouch for them, it's OK."

"No, sir, it's not OK."

And so on.

Last Friday on the DemocracyNow.Org podcast, I listened as Amy Goodman grilled NYTimes reporter Michael Gordon on his pre-Iraq-War reporting. Well, I think Goodman wasn't "grilling" him so much as she was simply asking him why he didn't do his job. She did manage to fall short of doing the best job she could do but I still give her credit for bothering at all these days. You can read [|the transcript of the interview] but the gist of it is this: Goodman asked Gordon why he reported most pro-Iraq-Attack stories before and leading up to the war. The point she was making was that he mainly reported what authorities said: that Saddam had WMD. He then defended himself pointing out how so many people had said Saddam had WMD. Even people who said they had doubts ultimately admitted that Saddam probably had WMD.

The thing is, Saddam didn't and there were loads of experts and non-experts who believed Saddam didn't. So what do I believe Gordon did wrong? Well, first off, I know Amy Goodman should have lectured this bastard as to what reporters are supposed to do. She did suggest that he and other reporters could have challenged assertions more, which caused Gordon to fall back on his "everybody was saying it" argument, which of course wasn't true. It was the "everybody your lazy ass was talking to was saying it" argument.

So, I would have liked to see Goodman remind Gordon of his duty as a reporter. That it was Gordon's job to challenge, challenge, challenge. It's the press' job to catch Bush lying.

Gordon clearly didn't do enough challenging. Clearly, since so many American citizens thought Iraq had WMD and when the NYTimes corrected it's errors it didn't do so on the front page, either.

But there's more. AP reporter Jennifer Loven is now being targeted for doing a Bush slam piece by Drudge and others. Loven points out Bush's use of the "Straw Man" argument.

The "Straw Man" argument is when you set up a weak premise, representing it as the reality and then shoot it down to look the cool, smart cat. In [|Loven's March 20, 2006 article] she points out a number of ways Bush has done this:
"Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day," President Bush said recently.

Another time he said, "Some say that if you're Muslim you can't be free."

"There are some really decent people," the president said earlier this year, "who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care ... for all people."

Of course, hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions.

When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

As she points out, if you look at all of Bush's setups there, none are accurate. For instance, most critics of the Iraq war are not saying that it's "not worth another dime or another day." They're saying too many people have died and we're just making Iraq worse.

By redefining what the argument is, Bush makes it easy for him to win that argument--and Bush isn't the only politician who does this--most do. The point is, Loven [|is now being taken to task] for doing the very thing that she is supposed to be doing--challengeing, challenging, challenging. Well, actually, the article points out that she fails to represent the opposing view point--that the tactic is perfectly reasonable.

This is kind of laughable since:

1) No one in the media presents the opposing viewpoint these days.
2) The opposing view point is a lie--using the "Straw Man" argument is a falacy of argument--it is a fact that this is a falacy of argument, in other words, you can't argue using it. (I should know--I spent a year as a Speech Communications major before switching into film school.)
3) Almost everyone in the mainstream media presents a much more for-Bush story than a challenging-Bush one--in other words, she's presenting the challenging-Bush story to make up for the usual lack of it.

Here's a bit more from Loven's article:
The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he "strongly disagrees" - conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.

Bush routinely is criticized for dressing up events with a too-rosy glow. But experts in political speech say the straw man device, in which the president makes himself appear entirely reasonable by contrast to supposed "critics," is just as problematic.

Because the "some" often go unnamed, Bush can argue that his statements are true in an era of blogs and talk radio. Even so, "'some' suggests a number much larger than is actually out there," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

A specialist in presidential rhetoric, Wayne Fields of Washington University in St. Louis, views it as "a bizarre kind of double talk" that abuses the rules of legitimate discussion.

"It's such a phenomenal hole in the national debate that you can have arguments with nonexistent people," Fields said. "All politicians try to get away with this to a certain extent. What's striking here is how much this administration rests on a foundation of this kind of stuff."

What's also of note here is that in the documentary/slam-piece Outfoxed, Fox News is said to also be quite a criminal when it comes to breaking the "No Straw Men" law.

The sad thing is that while EditorAndPublisher.Com is nailing Loven for failing to present the other side of the argument, MediaMatters.Org takes her to task for failing to point out how the news media hasn't been challenging Bush on his use of the "Straw Man" argument. Here's a clip from [|their piece on Loven's article] :
In a March 20 article, Associated Press staff writer Jennifer Loven noted President Bush's frequent use of "straw man" arguments, in which he misrepresents his opponents' arguments in order to knock them down. Loven gave numerous examples of Bush's use of this rhetorical device in speeches and press conferences and noted that he is resorting to the tactic "more often these days." But nowhere in the article did she acknowledge that many AP writers -- including her -- have simply reported Bush's misrepresentations of his opponents' arguments without challenging them.


In her March 20 article, Loven also highlighted Bush's "mischaracterization" of the opposition to his counter-terrorism policies, which he repeatedly advanced during his re-election campaign:

Running for re-election against Sen. John Kerry in 2004, Bush frequently used some version of this line to paint his Democratic opponent as weaker in the fight against terrorism: "My opponent and others believe this matter is a matter of intelligence and law enforcement."

The assertion was called a mischaracterization of Kerry's views even by a Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

But Loven made no mention of the fact that Bush has continued to put forward this argument since winning re-election in 2004 and that the AP has reported it without challenge.

The MediaMatter.Org piece goes on. Ultimately, the point is, the press is an incredibly important part of our society.

They should not be thought of as just people doing a job or people just trying to make a living. The news media are supposed to be guardians of our democracy in every way our government is supposed to be.

What the EditorAndPublisher.Com piece does (along with all of the conblogs that have slammed Loven's piece) is excuse Bush for using the SMA and the reporters who don't call him on it.

To any reporters who happen to be reading this blog post, here is my script for you the next time you ask a politician about something and they use the SMA:

YOU: Sir, why did you support the XYZ bill?

THEM: Well, some say that XYZ bill is bad for the little guy, I disagree.

YOU: Who says that the XYZ bill is bad for the little guy, exactly?

THEM: Critics. Critics of the XYZ bill.

YOU: Can you name specifically one or two critics that have said the XYZ bill will be bad for the little guy?

THEM: Joe, Bob and Steve.

YOU: Thank you, sir, I'll be sure to confirm that they said that the XYZ bill will harm the little guy.

See? Does that seem hard? Of course, now you have to call up Joe, Bob and Steve to find out what they said BEFORE you can report on your interview with the politician, but hey, that's your job. If you reported just what you saw in front of you, you wouldn't be a reporter. You'd be a blogger. ;)


Wednesday, March 22, 2006


From [|a March 21, 2006 article] at
The NYPD is installing 505 surveillance cameras around the city - and pushing to safeguard lower Manhattan with a "ring of steel" that could track hundreds of thousands of people and cars a day, authorities revealed yesterday.

The police cameras will constantly keep watch over neighborhoods plagued by crime and monitor potential terror targets as the city moves to put another 1,200 cops on the street, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

So, in other words "it's for our own good"?


Is crime really THAT bad? Could you maybe, oh, I don't know hire more cops? Or train the ones you've got better?

As the US economy continues to tank crime will only get worse. And don't tell me it's not tanking. When Reuters.Com is reporting in [|a March 22, 2006 article] reports that GM has to buy out all of its 125,000 hourly employees you can't tell me the economy is coming back.

So, I guess rather than creating new jobs, let's just buy more cameras.

Sheesh--and people are worried about losing jobs to outsourcing and illegal immigrants!

Republican Pot Calling the Democrat Kettle

I'm not making this up--this is from [|a March 22, 2006 article] at WashingtonTimes.Com:
Republicans accused Capitol Hill Democrats yesterday of plotting to use military bases as props for political press events to criticize President Bush for his handling of the war in Iraq.
"I think that is deplorable," Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, said yesterday on Fox News. "It is pitiful. We are at war. This country needs to be unified and realize who the enemy is -- it's not fellow Americans."

Man, that would be hillarious if I wasn't already so damn tired of this kind of absurd doublethink.

Republicans do something and it's fine. Democrats do something and suddenly it becomes deplorable.

How can these asshole-Republicans get away with criticizing the Democrats for this tactic AFTER BUSH LIED ON AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER and told us the Iraq war was over and we won. COME THE FUCK ON--WHAT? DO YOU THINK WE'RE FUCKING MORONS??

Sorry, folks--just getting real tired of this crap.

Oh and I've been meaning to mention my disgust for the Republican use of the phrase "hindsight is 20/20" in relation to the Iraq war. I've heard this A LOT on talk shows where Republicans are guests without an opposing guest. They say something like "It's really easy to sit here and look back at the things that have happened in Iraq and point out the mistakes. Hindsight is 20/20."

Once again, the Republicans must really think were fucking retarded because most of us "America haters" predicted EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HAS GONE WRONG.

I'm saying "I told you so."

I'm saying "Don't you dare tell me I didn't tell you so!"

It's just another version of the Bush Administration's patented "we had no idea" argument.

After 911 Condi "White" Rice said that she didn't think anyone could have predicted that terrorists would use hijacked planes as missiles. That's funny because on that very day NORAD was running a drill on that very thing.

After Katrina, George "What Me Worry" Bush said that he didn't think anyone knew the levees would breach even though he was warned before hand that Louisiana experts were very nervous about the levees being overrun (there was also an article published in National Geographic that detailed almost PRECISELY what happened to NOLA a full year before it happened).

This is just Republicans distracting from their own dramatic screw ups and as usual most Americans fall for this crap.



Here name is Tammy Duckworth and she was a helicopter pilot in Iraq. An RPG hit the helicopter she was in and she lost both legs. She's just won the Democrat primary in Illinois. I'll give you one guess as to which side she falls on regarding Bush and the Iraquagmire (and one guess which party she's not running for: NOT the Republicans).


Here's a clip from [|a March 22, 2006 article] from Reuters.Com:
An Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in the conflict narrowly won her bid to run for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat in a district held by Republicans for 32 years, returns showed on Wednesday.

Tammy Duckworth, 37, is among several Iraq veterans running for the U.S. Congress this year in a challenge to President George W. Bush's Iraq policy and the traditional perception that Democrats are weaker on national security issues.

With 98 percent of the ballots counted she squeezed out a win, holding a 1,080-vote lead over her closest opponent for the right to face Republican Peter Roskam, a state senator, for whom Vice President Dick Cheney made a campaign appearance.

She will be a long shot in November to take the seat in a heavily Republican suburban Chicago district being given up by Rep. Henry Hyde, who is retiring after 32 years in Congress.

It's going to be tight--but if you're in Illinois (or even if you can spare a couple bucks) please support this woman! CrooksAndLiars.Com has [|a good little piece on her featuring video]. In the video she is asked if she thought Bush has laid out a plan for victory in the Iraq war. She replies: "No, but I think he's got some great banners..."

'nuff said.

Check out DuckworthForCongress.Com to follow her progress and to see if you can help :)

Ballpoint Adventures for March 22, 2006 by ThePete

Ballpoint Adventures for March 22, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)


Reuters.Com is reporting in [|a March 20, 2006 article] at News.Yahoo.Com that:
Older women who say talk shows and soap operas are their favorite TV programs tend to score more poorly on tests of memory, attention and other cognitive skills, researchers reported Monday.

That doesn't mean that daytime television is a brain drain, they say, since it's not clear that there's a direct relationship between the two.

Yeah, and cigarettes don't cause cancer, either...

But the findings do point to some association between TV choices and intellectual function, and that could prove useful in evaluating older people for cognitive decline, according lead investigator Dr. Joshua Fogel of Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

I can vouch for this--every so often my wife will put on a TV show that I feel is worthless--just utter crap. However, there's probably SOMETHING entertaining about it, so I find myself distracted from my work while it's on. I keep leaning over at my desk so I can see the TV. Suddenly I start griping that Santini is actually a cool guy and I don't understand why the other fashion designers hate him so much. Maybe it's just that I have seen enough of the episodes where he's a jerk. That reminds me, I have to check the listings to find out when Project Runway is on again so I can find out why everyone hates him so much.

Wait--what was this post about?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Designer for Men? Why??

So, I'm cruising down Sepulveda on my scooter the other day and I spot this billboard--it's huge and it's got a big messy logo and this guy laughing maniacally on it. Check it out:

Have a closer look:

Bijon is some kind of "designer for men" and has nothing to do with a new type of mustard--although his name seems to be painted on the billboard in mustard. His tie is also made up mustard, it would seem. The main thing that puzzles the crap out of me is why he's maniacally laughing like that. Is it because men don't really need designers? Seriously--they don't. I mean, all we get to wear are pants, shirts and suit jackets--really, what's to "design"?

I just imagine this guy always laughing like that. Call him on the phone he doesn't answer it by saying "Hello?" He's just cackling madly. He's at the supermarket, trying to decide which is the freshes avocado--he squeezes one in curiously and then starts laughing madly, unnerving everyone nearby.

Then I picture this guy in a fender bender. The other driver tries to exchange insurance and other info with Bijon but can't because the bastard is laughing like someone just told him the one about the pope, the lesbian and the rabbi going into the bar.

Who is this Bijon guy and what makes him so happy???

Should we be worried? I look at that picture and imagine he's just said "...and then I will take over the WORLD!!!"


Wow. I want to be Simon Pegg so bad. OK, well, I'd like to keep my body and mind, but to be in his shoes--like, in his life, I mean--that's where I'd like to be. He and Edgar Wright, the guys behind Shaun of the Dead and the UK TV series Spaced, have just started shooting their new movie Hot Fuzz. From the production company's official [|web page for the movie] :
Police Constable, Nicholas Angel is good at his job, so good in fact, he makes everyone else look bad. As a result, his superiors at the Met have decided to sweep him under the carpet. So it is that London's top cop finds himself in the sleepy West Country village of Sandford. With garden fetes and neighbourhood watch meetings replacing the action of the city, Angel struggles to adapt to his situation and finds himself partnered with Danny Butterman, an oafish but well meaning young Constable. Just as all seems lost, a series of grisly accidents motivates Angel into action. Convinced of foul play, Angel realises that Sandford may not be as idyllic as it seems. With his faithful new partner in tow, Angel fights to prove his instincts are correct and uncover the truth about Sandford. Is Angel simply losing his mind in the safest, sweetest village in Britain? Or is something far more sinister at work? Whatever the truth, Sandford is about to get a lot less sleepy.

The best bit is the cast. The film features Jim Broadbent, Nick Frost and Timothy Dalton and Martin Freeman. CRIKEY I can't wait to see this movie!!

Hey, with the world as messed up as it is, every once in a while I've got to distract myself from it SOMEhow...


Check out what [|a March 21, 2006 article] from, reported (emphasis added by me):
British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday will call for a global, interventionist approach to confront terrorism head on and win a battle over values and ideas.

"This is not a clash between civilizations, it is a clash about civilization," Blair will say in a speech this afternoon, according to extracts released by his official spokesman.

"'We' is not the West. 'We' are as much Muslim as Christian or Jew or Hindu. 'We' are those who believe in religious tolerance, openness to others, to democracy, liberty and human rights administered by secular courts," he will say.

The speech, due to be given at a Reuters Newsmaker event, is the first of three that Blair plans to deliver on terrorism and the significance of Iraq and Afghanistan. The second will be given in Australia and the third in the United States.

"The only way to win is to recognize this phenomenon is a global ideology; to see all areas in which it operates as linked and to defeat it by values and ideas set in opposition to those of the terrorists," the speech will say.

Shit--that's insane. That's total paranoia--he speaks like terrorists blow stuff up around the world every day--or even every week.

They really don't.

Iraq is a hotspot and so is Palestisrael along with Afghanistan--all for obvious reasons. There's also terror in the Philippines and we have terror being practiced by what I call Nigerian oil rebels, too. But the likelihood of the recent coup in the Philippines and the Nigerian terrorists both being connected to the terror the Taleban are practicing in Afghanistan AND the terror in Iraq is absurd. Especially when in each case no proof of direct Al Qeada involvement has been provided (AQ may be in Iraq, [|but a tiny fraction of the insurgents are actually from outside Iraq]).

Blair's insane rhetoric is like the father of the house waging a jihad on a minor cockroach infestation.

Blair acts as though our civilization is so weak that it is about to fall apart with the slightest antagonism--Blair is a coward.

In fact, anyone who says that terror is a threat to our way of life is a coward.

If you're one of them, you have to seriously examine just what you're afraid of. A few thousand terrorists with NO nukes is a threat? I'm not saying we shouldn't go after them--but for Christ's sake--why are our morals going out the window?

W. Bush, himself, said during the 2000 presidential debates that he didn't think America should go around telling the world how to be. This is precisely what Blair now says is the best thing for the West to do.

This goes against everything America stands for.

Here are some other interesting bits from that article:
Blair's spokesman played down fears the speech might ring alarm bells in Iran, which is locked in a battle of wills with the United States and Europe over its nuclear program.

OH, like the UK isn't going to play American lapdog with Iran? Why doesn't the article include a reference to the UK being part of the "we" there? The UK won't sit by and watch [|Iran open their oil exchange] (Even if [|it has been postponed]).

More from that article:
"The terrorists know that if they are to succeed either in Iraq or Afghanistan or indeed Lebanon or anywhere else wanting to go the democratic route, then the choice of a modern future for the Arab or Muslim world is dealt a potentially mortal blow," Blair will say.

Yes, because the only "modern" future is one with democracy at the helm! We can't let the Arab world decide for themselves what they want! DEMOCRACY IS IT, FOLKS!!

Man, didn't Tony ever watch the classic Star Trek when he was growing up? The Prime Directive was there for a reason and Captain Kirk was a fictional character.

"Likewise if they fail and those countries become democracies and make progress, then not merely is that a blow against their whole value system but it is the most effective message against their wretched propaganda about America, the West and the rest of the world."

Again, because the West is PERFECT and the ONLY MODEL for civilization that extremist Islam could be against.

Look--I'm not defending extremist Islam--I hate any kind of extremism. This includes Extremist Westernism. How are we any more right to tell them how to be?



Don't do what they say, they have to do what we say!

As Jon Stewart would say: Waaaaaaa?

Besides all of that, this is all a big fat distraction from:

1) The fact that humans generally get along with each other just fine, making much of the military/industrial complex useless.

2) The west has a HUGE stack of MAJOR problems of its own to deal with (poverty, pollution, disease).

3) The past five years of major fuck-ups where just about EVERYTHING a Western Government has told us has been wrong.

It's George-Orwell-Overdrive.

More from that article:
Blair said nations must recognize extremism is deep rooted --

Yeah--in the West, too.

with 40 to 50 countries subject to regular terrorist attacks loosely linked to its ideology -- and that an interventionist stance was the precondition for future prosperity and stability.

Hey, GOOD POINT! Want to know what that ideology is? A unified hatred of the WEST!



Perhaps it's because they're the literal squeaky door hinge that's about to get blown out of the door completely with a thousand M-80s instead of just getting some oil (no pun intended)? Perhaps it's because we're just a bunch of fucking hypocrites who think India, Pakistani nukes are fine but Iranian nukes have got to go?

Personally, I think, since we are in charge of the world, it's our job to make sure everyone is happy. No, I'm not saying free oral sex for Osama--I'm saying it's EASILY within our power to at least address the concerns of countries and political organizations who have issues with us. We can handle it.

We're America.

No, I'm not saying we should do whatever they want, but I think we're strong enough to be adults about this, compromise with the people who hate us and be mature enough to know that we can't always get our way.


That's exactly right.

We're America.

Take a real look at American history and you'll see that for hundreds of years we've danced around this planet like we own the damn thing. It's time we live up to the moral principles America was mythically founded up.

Whent he Declaration of Independence says we believe that all men are created equal and that all men have certain inalienable rights, it means ALL people EVERYWHERE on Earth. That means EVERYONE should have a voice and a right to fair trial and the right to avoid TORTURE.

The sad thing is, I can't even leave America to go live in the alternative. There IS no alternative because America is still the most free country in the world but when it's spewing this kind of bullshit and now has it's #1 ally doing it, too. Where am I supposed to go?

Somebody build me a spaceship and book me a ticket on it. I'm ready to leave this crappy planet, thank you very much.

Ballpoint Adventures for March 21, 2006 by ThePete

Ballpoint Adventures for March 21, 2006!
(click to make it bigger)


Remember [|my post on the real reason the US will invade Iran?] Well, things have changed. The following comes from [|a March 14, 2006 article] at TheGlobeAndMail.Com:
Despite repeated reports over the past 18 months or so that the planned bourse would finally open for business on March 20, 2006 -- and go head to head with the New York Mercantile Exchange and the ICE Futures Exchange in London -- the start date has been postponed by at least several months and maybe more than a year.

“In the middle of 2006, we are able to start the bourse,” Mohammad Asemipur, special adviser on the project to Iran’s Oil Minister, said when reached in Tehran. The plan is to trade petrochemical products first, with a crude oil contract coming last, a rollout that likely will take three years, he said.

The reason given for the delay, in a nutshell, is that they're just not ready. Fine, but the plan is still there, apparently. Regardless, the exchange isn't happenning just yet, but if it does, you can expect a US invasion of Iran. I'll try to stay on this story.



Check out this screengrab that ran on DrudgeReport.Com last night:

Um, why are we defending Israel again?

1) They've got nukes (aren't we against those)
2) They're an occupying country (in violation of International Law)
3) [|They've violated more UN resolutions than Iraq did.]

Hey Bush, way to:

1) Come across like a hypocrite--Israel can have nukes but Iran can't--why?
2) Set a good example for the Israeli government--occupying Iraq wasn't enough, now you want to occupy Iran? That'll really help solve the Palestisrael problem!
3) Again, come across like a hypocrite--Sadam violating UN resolutions is bad, but Israel violating them?

As I've said many times before--I have nothing against Jewish people--I have a lot against any government that behaves like Israeli or the US governments do.

Thank you and good night!

OH YEAH and nice going, Drudge! Put the good King George on your site front and center so everyone can know exactly what you Bush thinks is right. Like I said, I don't have anything against Jewish people--but I do have a lot against low-rent pretend journalists like Drudge who does less than what thousands of bloggers do and comes across as somehow more reputable. Jealous? No--envious of his traffic, sure. But jealous of what he has/does? Definitely not--all he does is recycle other people's news without actually interpreting it--he just posts links to stories he wants people to know about and does virtually nothing to contextualize them or even admit that he's a virtual mouthpiece for the Bush Administration.