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DIDGE - The View From Down Under

An Aussie’s ridgy-didge view of world affairs and popular culture.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

The latest Bush campaign poster

Friday, October 29, 2004

Faux News hypocrisy… again

Fox News Channel has lately been attacking celebrities that dare have a political opinion, oh sorry, I mean democratic political opinion. Yes, if you are a celebrity who supports John Kerry that means you are “stupid” and “living in a bubble”. But not all celebrities! Fox has interviewed actor Ron Silver (who is that?) twice, a singer and Stephen Baldwin. So if you are a celebrity who supports Bush then somehow you are not stupid and live in reality. See, Fox News isn’t biased!

The Baldwin interview was interesting, especially when Baldwin asked what society is coming to when children play video games like Grand Theft Auto, where, he pointed out, that you can have sex with a prostitute then beat her to death with a baseball bat. The host and audience looked shocked. Oh yeah, it’s so terrible. You have to be careful of those gangs of seven-year-olds who have sex with prostitutes and then kill them. Lock your doors people! Then Baldwin talked about hosting a TV show called Scare Tactics (I thought he was going to talk about the way Bush campaigns). According to him the show is “good, clean fun”. Oh really? So in the first series when these men were made to believe a prostitute had been killed (with lashings of fake blood in the shower) that is meant to be “good, clean fun” and GTA is somehow abhorrent. Yes, f**k you Stephen Baldwin, you’re the one living in the bubble.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Faux News at it again

In the past two days Fox News has been overflowing with stories about Bush signs being defaced by crazy Democrats. Yesterday I witnessed two stories (one with a Republican internet café owner and another with a Republican nominee) and already today I’ve seen another one. But since this channel is so freaking fair and balanced I want to know one thing: where are the stories about crazy Republicans defacing Kerry signs? The Internet is rife with complaints, but it seems as if Fox News doesn’t want to report them, as I have seen no stories at all about Kerry signs being attacked. Hmmm… I wonder why?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

John Peel dies at age 65

Very sad day for music lovers. John Peel, one of the world's greatest radio presenters, has died of a heart attack. I think it would be a nice way to remember John if we all listen to our favourite song today. For me that is Aphex Twin's Alberto Balsalm.

John Peel 1939 - 2004 R.I.P.

Read the BBC story here.

I believe these are the only Peel Sessions in stock at Amazon:

Autechre - Peel Session
Autechre - Peel Session 2

Plaid - Peel Session

Over 100,000 voters registered twice in Florida

Here we go again. Yes, Florida, that name that conjures up words like hanging chads and cheating Jeb, is back in the news for, and wait for it, irregularities regarding the election. And what a huge surprise that is.

It seems as if more than 68,000 people are enrolled to vote in Florida AND in either North Carolina or Georgia, according to a US newspaper. How did they find this out? Simple, they compared voters’ rolls and surprisingly found that almost 70,000 residents of Georgia and North Carolina had the same names and date of birth as Florida residents. Yes, they are enrolled twice, which is illegal. Another newspaper discovered that almost 50,000 New Yorkers were also registered to vote in Florida.

I’m just shocked that such a thing could ever happen, and in Florida of all places. In the last election Bush “won” by 537 votes, thanks to Florida. I wonder what would happen if, oh I don’t know, just a few of those almost 120,000 voters decide to vote twice? And since there is no national register the chances of getting caught voting twice is more or less as impossible as a President almost being assassinated by a pretzel.

Monday, October 25, 2004

When is a stretcher not a stretcher?

Recently the Israeli Army accused militants of using a UN ambulance to ferry a rocket, citing a video of people putting something into the back of a UN ambulance as proof. However this claim is easily debunked as the object carried in the video appears extremely light and a rocket would be too heavy to carry as easily as the object in the video. The video most likely shows paramedics putting a stretcher into an ambulance. The Israeli Army has just released some more surveillance shots depicting alleged militants using innocent objects to ferry weapons. The photos are provided below.

The latest Israeli Army surveillance pictures

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Iraq threat exaggerated by Pentagon

According to a recently released probe, the Bush administration desperately wanted to invade Iraq, and when intelligence said Saddam Hussein posed little threat the Pentagon deliberately embellished Iraq’s threat to please the Bush administration.

The inquiry, headed up by Senator Carl Levin (D), said that intelligence could only find a “relatively weak” connection between Hussein and al-Qaeda. Levin said the Pentagon overstated the threat posed by Iraq to “support the policy goal of removing Saddam Hussein.”

I'm not surprised by this at all. Just one more reason to vote out Dubya!

Go Ricki! Go Ricki!

Last night I was channel surfing and I came across a Ricki Lake show about amateur porn. An audience member was attacking a man who works in the field, saying it was offensive. The man replied that it wasn’t offensive to him, then listed three things that offended him and should offend people more than porn: Cheney, Enron and Halliburton. It was a nice little surprise.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Israeli Army: Shooting a girl 20 times is ethical

An Israeli Army investigation has concluded a soldier's actions not unethical after he shot a thirteen-year-old girl twenty times on the 5th of October.

Iman al-Hams, a thirteen-year-old Palestinian girl, strayed into a restricted area of the border town of Rafah, and was shot at by Israeli soldiers as they believed the satchel she was carrying contained explosives. It was later revealed that the satchel only contained school textbooks.

The soldiers fired at her and she ran away but fell to the ground after being hit. As Iman lay on the ground, either wounded or dead, the platoon commander advanced towards her and fired two bullets at her head. He returned, putting his gun on automatic and fired the complete magazine into her body. As this happened fellow soldiers pleaded with the commander to stop. An Israeli soldier said, “We couldn’t believe what he had done. Our hearts ached for her. Just a 13-year-old girl. How do you spray a girl from close range? He was hot for a long time to take out terrorists and shot the girl to relieve pressure.”

The practice of shooting bodies from a close range to make sure they are dead is called confirming the kill, and is against Israeli military regulations.

Palestinian doctors said 20 bullets had hit her body, including five shots to her head. Her brother, Ehab, said her body was “peppered with bullets, in the head, chest, legs.”

The soldier who shot Iman defended his actions by saying he fired into the ground near the girl after he came under fire. However, this explanation is rather peculiar, because if you were coming under fire wouldn’t you shoot in the direction that it was coming from and not at the ground? Regardless of the bizarre explanation the Israeli Army accepted his response and concluded that he had not acted unethically and that the incident should not be cause for his removal from his position. However, the soldier will be suspended from his position, but because of his poor leadership skills.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Fox News Hates Freedom

It has not been long since my entry "Murdoch’s War on Freedom" and now we come to today's entry. Yesterday I was watching that bastion of fair and balanced journalism, Fox News Channel, and it seems as if Fox is all hot under the collar. And what has caused this you ask? Well, simply, they are angry that people living in a democracy would dare use their freedom to hold an opinion. Yikes! How depraved can some people get?

The English newspaper, The Guardian, wants readers to send letters to residents of Ohio, asking them to consider voting for John Kerry. And Fox News is angry because, um… well… um, because, well you know, because Fox News is an extension of the Republican party and any ill press against the beloved George Dubya Bush is just not on. Oh, and yeah how dare any non-Americans have an opinion on the American election! No, cause it’s not like American policies affect the rest of the world.

Apparently many Americans are outraged that foreigners dare have an opinion of their gracious leader and have angrily retorted. Though, these angry retorts sadly reflect a low intellect of the letter writers as they are filled with ridiculously outdated stereotypes and are ignorant and arrogant beyond belief. But who is actually writing these letters? Fox News, in all their journalistic integrity, forgot to actually attribute each letter with a name, or even where these letters came from (were they printed in newspapers, published on the net, etc). Or did, I don’t know, Fox make them up? Surely Fox News Channel would never, ever, go so low. Surely. (I should also point out that the letters were read out with outrageously strong accents). (Edit: After some surfing I found the letters published on The Guardian’s website. It would have been nice if Fox pointed that out).

But before you get too angry, soothed the reporter, you must keep in mind that The Guardian only attracts people who miss the Soviet Union, and that the newspaper is an outcast in Britain who is read by practically no one. He then went on to call The Guardian “kooky and bizarre”. Since when has journalist integrity become kooky and bizarre? Well, I guess if you work for Fox…

Then they took swipes at the BBC, saying they just spout anti-Bush propaganda. Yeah, Fox lecturing another media organisation over broadcasting propaganda? Damn that’s vigorous irony! Oh, and the BBC don’t broadcast propaganda, they only tell the truth (that’s like holy water to Fox). The host said he was in London for a month and said the media were so anti-Bush that it was shocking. Well, I guess it must have been odd to be in a country where its media actually tells the truth.

They jokingly suggested that the fall of the British Empire was to blame for the campaign against Bush. Um, like, do they actually realise that the rest of the world really, really hate Bush?

Finally they said not to take the story too seriously, but if it’s such a non-issue why show it at least three times in as many hours, not to mention at least twice several days ago. That’s a lot of reporting for a nothing story.

And anyway, what’s so wrong with foreigners wanting government change in another country? I seem to remember the American Government really wanted it in Iraq. It's not like the letter writers are actually forcing the citizens of Ohio to vote for Kerry.

Which leaves me with one final question, if The Guardian were anti-Kerry would Fox have such a big problem with that? It’s highly unlikely. My advice to Fox News, just keep deluding yourselves that Dubya is the reincarnation of Christ while the whole world looks on knowing the truth.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

My recent entries have tendered to be a little verbose, so I thought I'd treat you with a picture today. I've seen this actual advertisement at many different sites, and it always makes me laugh. I mean really, Me: Man, You: Woman, surely we have progressed somewhat from the caveman era.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kerry would win in landslide if world were able to vote

In a story published in last Friday’s newspaper, a worldwide survey of people from ten countries concluded that if the world could vote in the up-coming American Presidential election that Senator John Kerry would easily win.

People were asked whether they wanted Bush or Kerry to win the November election. Eight out of ten countries said they wanted Kerry to win. In Russia 52% want Bush re-elected, with 48% for Kerry. Bush’s winning margin is much more striking in Israel, where 50% are in favour of a second term for Bush, with just 24% on Kerry’s side. However Russia and Israel are the minority on this issue. 60% of Canadians are for Kerry, only 20% for Bush. 54% of Australians are for Kerry, 28% for Bush. In Japan Kerry received 51%, Bush 30%. The UK gave Kerry 50%; Bush only 22%, which is very simular to Mexico’s 55% for Kerry and 20% for Bush. France is the most supportive of Kerry, with a whopping 72% of the vote, with Bush on a paltry 16%. But Bush fairs even worse in Spain, polling just 13% of the vote, while Kerry enjoys 58%.

Every country but Israel has an unfavourable view of George W. Bush. 64% of Canadians don’t like Bush, 29% do. In France 75% don’t like Bush, against 21% that do. 60% of the UK have an unfavourable view of Bush, 25% think differently. Spain overwhelmingly dislikes Bush with 77%, only 13% like him. Surprisingly 56% of Russians don’t like the current President, with 44% who do like him. 66% of Japanese dislike Bush, 30% like him. 65% of Australians don’t like Bush, with 32% who have a favourable opinion of him. In Mexico 70% are against Bush, with 23% support, which is mirrored in South Korea: 72% against, 23% for. Israel is the only country that has a majority of favourable views of Bush, with 70% of the vote. Only 24% of Israelis have an unfavourable view of Bush.

On the question of favourable or unfavourable opinion of John Kerry, well his results were much more mixed. 55% of Canadians like Kerry, against 20% who don’t. Things were clear-cut in France, where Kerry enjoyed 61% of the vote, against just 16% of dislike. Things were much closer in Britain, with 33% who like Kerry and 25% who don’t. In a surprising result Spain was the only country that polled more against Kerry. 23% have an unfavourable view of Kerry, while 21% have a favourable opinion. Another close result, this time in Russia, where 51% like Kerry, against 49% who do not. Japan was spilt down the middle, where 37% like Kerry and 37% don’t like Kerry. Australia’s support of John Kerry was more substantial, with 38% supporting him and 25% disliking him. Mexicans love Kerry with 42% of the vote against 25%. More Israelis like Kerry than don’t: 30% have a favourable opinion, while 22% have an unfavourable view. South Korea again mirrored Mexico with their love of Kerry, 47% in favour, while only 19% dislike Kerry.

While the world hates George Bush their ill will is not aimed at the American people, as every country had a favourable view of Americans. The closest results came from Spain (47% like, 32% dislike), Mexico (51% like, 43% dislike) and South Korea (65% like, 30% dislike). The countries where Americans are most liked were Russia (86% like, 13% dislike) and Israel (81% like, 10% dislike). The majority of the rest of the countries had favourable views of Americans in the low 70s, with dislike in the low 20s.

Eight countries where questioned whether it was right or wrong to invade Iraq. Seven countries said it was wrong, with only Israel believing the invasion was the right thing to do. 67% of Canadians believed the pre-emptive attack on Iraq was wrong, 24% disagreed. 77% of France was against the war, 18% for. 80% of Spaniards thought the war wrong, with only 13% for the war. Things were closer in Russia, with 54% against the war and 39% believing it was the right thing to do. 83% of Japanese said the war was wrong, with just 10% thinking it was right. In their continuing similarity 83% of Mexicans said it was wrong to invade, with just 10% disagreeing. 85% of South Koreans also believed the invasion was wrong, with just 11% saying it was the right thing to do. Israel broke with all other countries; with 68% saying the invasion was correct. Only 26% of Israelis opposed the war. Results from Australia and the UK were not printed.

Of seven countries polled all of them overwhelmingly said it was important to keep good relations with the US. Out of six countries, five believed American would remain the world’s largest economic power for the foreseeable future. Only Mexico believed otherwise.

Four countries were polled on if they believed America wielded excessive influence regarding international affairs, with every country saying yes. 86% of Canadians, 73% in France, 87% in South Korea and 66% in Mexico.

Of four countries asked, all said American culture threatened their own (countries polled: Canada, UK, Mexico and South Korea).

Of five countries polled, all of them felt it likely American would be attacked again in the coming months. Of those same countries all said they would not fear visiting America.

This was a very interesting survey. I just wish the rest of the world could vote in the US election.

The countries, and their newspapers, involved in the survey were:
Australia - The Age (Melbourne) and The Sydney Morning Herald
Canada – La Presse
France – Le Monde
Great Britain – The Guardian
Israel - Haaretz
Japan – Asahi Shimbun
Mexico - Reforma
Russia – The Moscow News
South Korea – JoongAng Ilbo

Spain – El Pais

Monday, October 18, 2004

My thoughts on the third Presidential debate

And finally we reach the third and final debate. The structure was pretty much the same as the first. So here’s my take...

The first question of the night: “… will our children and grandchildren ever live in a world as safe and secure as the world in which we grew up?” The moderator then translated for Bush: “… is our children and grandchildren ever living in a world as safe and secure as was the world in which we were grewed up in?”

Kerry: “Police officers are being cut from the streets of America because the president decided to cut the COPS program.” What? Bush axed COPS? I love that show. How dare he!

Kerry: “Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, “Where is Osama bin Laden?” He said, “I don‘t know. I don‘t really think about him very much. I‘m not that concerned.”

Bush: “Gosh, I just don‘t think I ever said I‘m not worried about Osama bin Laden. It‘s kind of one of those exaggerations.” Gosh George, you have a pretty poor memory, don’t you? This is what Bush said in 2002: “Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the centre of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I… I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.”

Bush on the flu vaccine shortage: “We‘re working with Canada to hopefully - that they‘ll produce a - help us realise the vaccine necessary to make sure our citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season.” Oh Canada! You’re going to get the vaccine from Canada! But in the last debate, on importing drugs from Canada you said, “Just want to make sure they're safe. When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you. And what my worry is is that, you know, it looks like it's from Canada, and it might be from a third world.” How much of a flip-flop is that!

Bush: “They were just shuffling too many kids through the system, year after year, grade after grade, without learning the basics.” Yeah, you know all about that, Mr C Grade.

A good question: “Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who‘s being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?”

But George, as he has constantly done in the previous debates, didn’t actually answer the question. He just went on about education for when people lose their jobs. Yes, he is not even trying to cut down on outsourcing. And of course Kerry noticed it: “I want you to notice how the president switched away from jobs and started talking about education principally.”

You’ve gotta love this quote from Kerry: “Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country.”

Moderator: “Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?”

Bush: “You know, Bob, I don‘t know. I just don‘t know.” You don’t know? YOU DON’T KNOW?! Oh no, of course it’s a choice. Teenagers all over the world, struggling with their sexuality in a world of hate just choose to be gay. Teenagers come out to their parents because they want to be hated. Oh hey look, homosexuality looks cool with all the homophobia and hate crimes. You don't know if homosexuality is a choice or not? What a complete moron!

Bush: “And if it gets overturned, then we‘ll end up with marriage being defined by courts, and I don‘t think that‘s in our nation‘s interests.” No, we wouldn’t want the courts defining marriage, would we? We’d rather leave that to the religious right. You know, this really bothers me. Marriage should not have anything to do with religion when it comes to the government. What do they say to the many married atheists? If you are looking at marriage from a religious viewpoint doesn’t atheists getting married destroy the sanctity of marriage? And what about the millions of divorces? Does that not destroy the sanctity of marriage? Ultimately, marriage is a legal contract in the eyes of the government, nothing more, nothing less. If you are to bring a church service and religion into it that is fine, but it most certainly is not the be all and end all of marriage. Opponents of gay marriage cite that the Bible is against homosexuality and therefore gay people should not be able to get married. But to think such a thing is to completely miss the point, marriage is a legal contract. I know it should be about love, but in the eyes of the government it is a legal binding of two people. To stop gay people getting married is to bring religion into government, where it absolutely has no place.

Bush: “I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I think it‘s very important that we protect marriage as an institution, between a man and a woman.” I’d like to know how gay people would ruin marriage for heterosexual couples. Would gay people fly into their homes at night, sprinkle fairy dust over the poor heterosexuals and poof, when they wake up they hate each other and want to bang the closest member of the same sex? Or perhaps it simply comes down to the fact that people who are against gay marriage are bigots, who look at homosexuals as inferior human beings and therefore will ruin marriage, as if they opened up marriage to animals.

John Kerry’s response turned out to be arguably the most controversial thing said in all three debates. He said of Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter, Mary, that, “I hope that f - - king f - - - - t gets Aids and rots in hell for eternity.” Well, actually no, he didn’t say that. But he did say that he hopes she is sexually assaulted and has her throat cut. Well, actually no, he also didn’t say that. What he did say was: “We‘re all God‘s children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney‘s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she‘s being who she was, she‘s being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it‘s not choice. I‘ve met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it. And I‘ve met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them.”

This has to be one of the most beautiful things to be said by a politician in years. The idea that anyone could skewer it to make Kerry the bad guy totally boggles my mind. To hear Lynne Cheney attacking Kerry just shows how low she is. And the spin by the Republicans just goes to show that Kerry won so convincingly that they were grasping at straws for material to attack Kerry with. They should be downright ashamed with themselves. John Kerry, my heart goes out to you. You are a truly beautiful human being and deserve to be President.

On the issue of abortion Bush gave this wonderful gem, “I think it‘s important to promote a culture of life. I think a hospitable society is a society where every being counts and every person matters.” Oh, really? I know I wrote this in my review of the second debate, but it bears repeating. Tell that to the more than 150 people you executed, including mentally disabled people. Tell that to Karla Faye Tucker Brown, who you publicly mocked over her plea for clemency. Taken from Talk Magazine: “Please,” Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, “don’t kill me.” What kind of person does that? Someone without any compassion in them at all.

Moderator: “Health insurance costs have risen over 36 percent over the last four years according to The Washington Post. We‘re paying more. We‘re getting less. I would like to ask you: Who bears responsibility for this? Is it the government? Is it the insurance companies? Is it the lawyers? Is it the doctors? Is it the administration?”

Bush: “Gosh, I sure hope it‘s not the administration.” Is anyone else tired of Bush treating serious issues as a joke?

Kerry: “When I‘m president, I‘m sending that back to Congress and we‘re going to get a real prescription drug benefit.” When I’m president – it’s nice to know he is so confident! President Kerry, can’t wait to hear that!

Bush: “Our health-care system is the envy of the world…” Oh really? That’s the first I’ve heard of it. What a load of nonsense!

Moderator: “Mr. President, the next question is to you. We all know that Social Security is running out of money, and it has to be fixed. You have proposed to fix it by letting people put some of the money collected to pay benefits into private savings accounts. But the critics are saying that‘s going to mean finding $1 trillion over the next 10 years to continue paying benefits as those accounts are being set up. So where do you get the money? Are you going to have to increase the deficit by that much over 10 years?”

Bush, again, doesn’t even answer the question. I was going to quote the entire response, but it's too long and boring. If you want to see Bush dodging the question there are many transcripts of the debate on the internet.

Bush: “They‘re coming here to work. If you can make 50 cents in the heart of Mexico, for example, or make $5 here in America, $5.15, you‘re going to come here if you‘re worth your salt, if you want to put food on the table for your families.” If you had seen Bush’s interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News Channel all that would sound very familiar: “If you can make 50 cents in the interior of Mexico, and five bucks in the interior of the United States, you're coming for the five bucks, and they're poor.”

Bush not answering questions again: “Mr. President, I want to go back to something Senator Kerry said earlier tonight and ask a follow-up of my own. He said, and this will be a new question to you, he said that you had never said whether you would like to overturn Roe v. Wade. So I‘d ask you directly, would you like to?” Now that seems like a yes or no question, but of course Bush darts around answering the question. “What he‘s asking me is, will I have a litmus test for my judges? And the answer is, no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but I‘ll have no litmus test.”

Bush: “But the best way to protect our citizens from guns is to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns.” Oh, that makes everyone so safe. Let AK-47’s available on the open market, and then when someone goes on a murderous rampage put them in jail. I’m sure everyone feels so much safer than if the guns were unavailable.

Bush: “I believe we ought to love our neighbour like we love ourself, as manifested in public policy through the faith-based initiative where we‘ve unleashed the armies of compassion to help heal people who hurt.” Armies of compassion? That has a disturbing connotation.

And we finally reach the very last question of the very last debate: “All three of us are surrounded by very strong women. We‘re all married to strong women. Each of us have two daughters that make us very proud. I‘d like to ask each of you, what is the most important thing you‘ve learned from these strong women?”

Bush: “To listen to them. To stand up straight and not scowl.” Yeah, keep making fun of the fact you looked like a moron in the first debate.

Bush: “And she (Laura Bush) speaks English a lot better than I do. I think people understand what she‘s saying.” He is actually making fun of the fact that he is completely inarticulate. How can people find that endearing? Why aren't people thinking, Hmmm, we’ve got a dumbass for a president, maybe he should vote for someone who has a command of the English language.

After Bush’s failed attempts at humour, Kerry showed some comedy with nuance: “Well, I guess the president and you and I are three examples of lucky people who married up. And some would say maybe me more so than others. But I can take it.”

During Bush’s closing statement he brought back this little gem: “Over the next four years, we‘ll continue to rally the armies of compassion, to help heal the hurt that exists in some of our country‘s neighbourhoods.”

Bush really wanted to hammer home what century we are currently living in:

“I‘d say, Bob, I‘ve got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the twenty-first century.”
“We want to help pay for you to gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the twenty-first century.”
“… a community college which is providing the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the twenty-first century.”
“In order to make sure people have jobs for the twenty-first century, we‘ve got to get it right in the education system, and we‘re beginning to close a minority achievement gap now.”
“You see, we‘ll never be able to compete in the twenty-first century unless we have an education system that doesn‘t quit on children…”

And that’s it. I guess there’s not much else to say but goodnight and god bless the United States of America. Oh and, vote for Kerry!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

My thoughts on second Presidential Debate

The second debate structure was different from the first, in that it was the touted “town hall” meeting. When I first heard “town hall meeting” I pictured a barn, but that’s just me. And indeed the set was much more fetching than an old barn. Well, I mean the set wasn’t that great but then anything’s better than a barn.

Anyway… A group of around 140 “soft voters” (essentially undecided) each wrote a question to President Bush and Senator Kerry. The moderator, Charlie Gibson from American television station ABC, chose the questions he thought were the best. Gibson also chose the order in which the questions would be read out. The question writer got to ask their question directly, but didn’t know if their question had been selected until the moment they were called to read it out.

After explaining the rules to Bush and Kerry, Charlie added: “Those are the candidates' rules. I will hold the candidates to the time limits forcefully but politely, I hope.” He then went on to say, “And thanks to Bush forgetting to renew that gun law I’ve got an AK-47 under the desk, so pay attention to the red light, or I’ll pop a cap in yo ass.”

Have you ever noticed that when Bush finishes a sentence he always moves his head forward, like a chicken pecking at feed? That really irritates me. Also, whenever Kerry was talking Bush would fidget and his gaze was moving all around the room, very disconcerting. When Bush was talking Kerry remained still. Sometimes when Bush would say something stupid Kerry would smile, I found that really cute. And I really hate it whenever Bush finishes a sentence, he smiles and pauses as if waiting for everyone to pat him on the back for constructing a sentence or for making such a great point.

Bush showed early on that he was still living in la-la land. “Saddam Hussein was a threat because he could have given weapons of mass destruction to terrorist enemies.” Let’s just back up a second. In a previous question, was the Iraq invasion justified because they had found no weapons, Bush said: “I wasn't happy when we found out there wasn't weapons, and we've got an intelligence group together to figure out why.” Ok, I’m no genius but if Saddam Hussein didn’t have any weapons how could he have possibly given them to terrorists?

“I know how these people think. I meet with them all the time. I talk to Tony Blair all the time. I talk to Silvio Berlusconi. They're not going to follow an American president who says follow me into a mistake.” Does that sound familiar? This is from the first debate: “I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently. They‘re not going to follow somebody who says, “This is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Damn, he really is a broken record.

The next question was excellent: “Mr. President, my mother and sister travelled abroad this summer, and when they got back they talked to us about how shocked they were at the intensity of aggravation that other countries had with how we handled the Iraq situation. Diplomacy is obviously something that we really have to really work on. What is your plan to repair relations with other countries given the current situation?”

Bush, as usual, tripped over the question and in fact didn’t answer it at all. “No, I appreciate that. I… listen, I… we've got a great country. I love our values. And I recognize I've made some decisions that have caused people to not understand the great values of our country.” Um, ok.

“I remember when Ronald Reagan was the president; he stood on principle. Somebody called that stubborn. He stood on principle standing up to the Soviet Union, and we won that conflict. Yet at the same time, he was very - we were very unpopular in Europe because of the decisions he made. I recognise that taking Saddam Hussein out was unpopular. But I made the decision because I thought it was in the right interests of our security.” No, taking out Saddam Hussein was never the problem, it was how you went about it that was the problem.

“You know, I've made some decisions on Israel that's unpopular. I wouldn't deal with Arafat, because I felt like he had let the former president down, and I don't think he's the kind of person that can lead toward a Palestinian state. And people in Europe didn't like that decision. And that was unpopular, but it was the right thing to do. I believe Palestinians ought to have a state, but I know they need leadership that's committed to a democracy and freedom, leadership that would be willing to reject terrorism.” Um, ok, that’s all good but you’re not actually answering the question. In fact you’ve gone completely off the question.

“I made a decision not to join the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which is where our troops could be brought to -- brought in front of a judge, an unaccounted judge. I don't think we ought to join that. That was unpopular.” Yeah, I get the message that sometimes you make unpopular decisions, but you’re still not answering the freaking question. Which was, incidentally, and I’m paraphrasing here: The Iraq invasion made pretty much the whole world hate America. How are you going to repair that?

“And so, what I'm telling you is, is that sometimes in this world you make unpopular decisions because you think they're right. We'll continue to reach out. Listen, there is 30 nations involved in Iraq, some 40 nations involved in Afghanistan.” So what? Just because the country is involved doesn’t mean the people hate America any less. Australia has troops in Iraq but the invasion was very unpopular here.

“People love America.” Yeah, I constantly see people all over the world waving the American flag with pride. Though most of the time the flags are burnt and desecrated, although I guess the people of the world have been waving their American flags so fervently that they have worn out or caught fire.

“Sometimes they don't like the decisions made by America, but I don't think you want a president who tries to become popular and does the wrong thing. You don't want to join the International Criminal Court just because it's popular in certain capitals in Europe.” You know, there is more to the world than Europe. There were huge protests against the invasion of Iraq in Asia. And you never even answered the question.

Bush: “That answer almost made me want to scowl.” Oh, ha ha ha ha ha! You’re so funny! Oh, and he’s making fun that he looked like a defensive sourpuss in the first debate. Oh, that’s so cute.

“I hear there's rumours on the Internets that we're going to have a draft.” Oh dear me! Is Bush actually trying to look dumb? Perhaps buy the hick vote? I wonder if Dick Cheney visits factcheck.com on the Internets? Though I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on Bush, I mean that’s what you get from years of alcohol abuse, the inability to say complex words like internet and subliminal.

Lately people have been watching Mount St. Helen’s, thinking that it might erupt again. But the real eruption came from President Bush. He rudely interrupted the moderator: “Let me just - I've got to answer this.” Wow, calm down cowboy! But he didn’t calm down: “Let me answer what he just said, about around the world.” Yes, yes, please answer about around the world. God, this guy sounds like a little child. But I wanna do this, I wanna do that. And then the huge eruption came: “You tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Tony Blair we're going alone.” He yelled this at the crowd. People gasped, children cried. People around the world stopped burning American flags for a few seconds to ponder what was up with this guy? Why is he yelling at those people? What is his problem? Can’t he control himself? What a dick.

Then Kerry counted with possibly the best line from all three debates: “If Missouri, just given the number of people from Missouri who are in the military over there today, were a country, it would be the third largest country in the coalition, behind Great Britain and the United States. That's not a grand coalition.”

And to add insult to injury: “Go to johnkerry.com. You can pull it off of the Internet.” Yes, John Kerry is able to say the word Internet without trouble. How refreshing!

“And you'll find a tort reform plan.” I’m sorry, I don’t have anything to say about this line, I just find the word tort funny.

Bush: “Let me see where to start here. First, the National Journal named Senator Kennedy the most liberal senator of all.” Now let me see where to start! First, his name is Kerry. K – E – R – R – Y. Kerry. Not Kennedy. I know they both start with the same letter, followed by an “e” and then followed by a double letter, so it must be very hard for your feeble brain to understand but they are not the same person. You’ve got to learn that, George. Just keep repeating, K – E – R – R – Y. Secondly, yes the National Journal named K – E – R – R – Y the most liberal senator of all, but how they came to that conclusion is flawed. It is technically true for the year of 2003, but only because they judged it on 22 of 62 votes cast. Kerry’s lifetime rating puts him at #11 in the list of most liberal senators, not #1.

Bush: “Maybe you think that makes sense. I don't.” Is he trying to boost Kerry here?

Kerry: “But look, what's really important, Charlie, is the president is just trying to scare everybody here with throwing labels around. I mean, "compassionate conservative," what does that mean? Cutting 500,000 kids from after-school programs, cutting 365,000 kids from health care, running up the biggest deficits in American history. Mr. President, you're batting 0 for 2.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Bush: “You see, he's proposed $2.2 trillion of new spending. And you say: Well, how are you going to pay for it? He says, well, he's going to raise the taxes on the rich -- that's what he said -- the top two brackets. That raises, he says $800 billion; we say $600 billion. We've got battling green eyeshades. Somewhere in between those numbers -- and so there's a difference, what he's promised and what he can raise.” I’m sorry, but… WHAT THE F - - K?!?!! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS GUY TALKING ABOUT?!?! BATTLING GREEN EYESHADES? WHAT THE F - - K DOES THAT MEAN?!?! WHAT THE F - - K IS THIS GUY ON?!?! Ahem.

Bush: “Is my time up yet?”
Moderator: “No, you can keep going.”
Bush: “Good. You looked at me like my clock was up.”
Moderator: (thinking) “We already went through the damn lighting system. How much easier can it get? Damn this guy is dumb.”

Bush: Yes, I mean, he's got a record. It's been there for 20 years. You can run, but you can't hide. He voted 98 times to raise taxes. I mean, these aren't make-up figures.” What? Bush’s talking about green eyeshade again?

Bush: “You can run, but you can't hide.” I’m sure Kerry is afraid, being told he can run but he can’t hide by the guy who said he was going to get Osama bin Laden “dead or alive.”

Another great question: “Mr. President, how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist? What specifically has your administration done to improve the condition of our nation's air and water supply?”

Bush: “I guess you'd say I'm a good steward of the land.” Oh my god, please tell me he is joking. That answer is proof that George W. Bush is officially retarded.

Kerry’s response: “Boy, to listen to that - the president, I don't think, is living in a world of reality with respect to the environment.” Oh my goodness, this guy is my hero!! That’s telling the environment hating, alcoholic, coke snorting, C grade student cowboy.

Kerry kept up the attack: “Now, when it comes to the issue of the environment, this is one of the worst administrations in modern history.”

I loved how Kerry brought back a previous question into the environment question: “You wonder, Nikki, why it is that people don't like us in some parts of the world. You just say: Hey, we don't agree with you. Goodbye.” (Kerry was talking about Bush's response to the Kyoto protocol).

Bush: “I own a timber company? That's news to me… Need some wood?” Need some wood? Need some wood?! THIS IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE FREAKING UNITED STATES, AND HE IS ASKING, “NEED SOME WOOD?” THIS GUY IS TOTALLY INSANE.

Another brilliant question: “President Bush, 45 days after 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which takes away checks on law enforcement and weakens American citizens' rights and freedoms, especially Fourth Amendment rights. With expansions to the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II, my question to you is, why are my rights being watered down and my citizens' around me? And what are the specific justifications for these reforms?”

Bush: “I appreciate that. I really don't think your rights are being watered down. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't support it if I thought that.” Wow! Then he must be really stupid. Government being able to find out what books you are borrowing from the library? That’s not watering down people’s rights? I still don’t understand why people support Bush when his stupidity is so blatant.

Bush: “Every action being taken against terrorists requires court order, requires scrutiny.” So your plan to fight terrorism is A) let the guy responsible for the worst terrorist attack on American soil get away, invade a country that was not responsible for it, making a whole new generation hate America and erode your own peoples freedoms. Great, just great.

“I mean, I… because I think whoever is the president must guard your liberties, must not erode your rights in America.” He’s just said he doesn’t want to be president!!

“And so, I don't think the Patriot Act abridges your rights at all.” I, I… I don’t know what to say. This guy needs help. I’m almost starting to feel sorry for him.

Another audience member asked a very good question: “Mr. President, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who would you choose and why?”

And what was Bush’s response? “I'm not telling. [Laughs] I really don't have… haven't picked anybody yet. Plus, I want them all voting for me. [Laughs again].” That’s a great way to respect someone’s question, ar - - hole, just laugh at them.

Bush: “Culture of life is really important for a country to have if it's going to be a hospitable society.” Yeah, tell that to the more than 150 people you executed, including mentally disabled people. Tell that to Karla Faye Tucker Brown, who you publicly mocked over her plea for clemency. Taken from Talk Magazine: “Please,” Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, “don’t kill me.” What kind of person does that? Someone without any compassion in them at all. What a disgrace. What a dick. What a hypocrite. He loves life? Yeah, and the moon is made of cheese.

And we reach the final question of the night: “President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realise you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it. Thank you.” That is a fantastic question. The test of a real man is if he admits he has made a mistake and tries to fix it. Is Bush a real man? Let’s find out…

“I have made a lot of decisions, and some of them little, like appointments to boards you never heard of, and some of them big.” That’s a great start, talk down to her.

“And in a war, there's a lot of… there's a lot of tactical decisions that historians will look back and say: He shouldn't have done that. He shouldn't have made that decision. And I'll take responsibility for them. I'm human.” Um, ok. Care to elaborate? Cause you know, the question was for you to name three mistakes you’ve made. Care to actually answer the question?

“But on the big questions, about whether or not we should have gone into Afghanistan, the big question about whether we should have removed somebody in Iraq, I'll stand by those decisions, because I think they're right. That's really what you're - when they ask about the mistakes, that's what they're talking about. They're trying to say, "Did you make a mistake going into Iraq?" And the answer is, "Absolutely not." It was the right decision. The Duelfer report confirmed that decision today, because what Saddam Hussein was doing was trying to get rid of sanctions so he could reconstitute a weapons program. And the biggest threat facing America is terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.” Um, ok, but like the lady didn’t ask you to defend your decisions. She asked you to name three times when you’ve realised you’ve made a mistake. You’re not doing that. Answer the damn question!!

“We knew he hated us. We knew he'd been - invaded other countries. We knew he tortured his own people.” Yes, we get that, ar - - hole, Saddam Hussein was evil. Don’t you think we already know, you stupid c - - k? ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION!!

“On the tax cut, it's a big decision. I did the right decision. Our recession was one of the shallowest in modern history.” ANSWER THE F - - KING QUESTION YOU F - - KING AR - - HOLE!!!

“Now, you asked what mistakes. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV. [Laughs].” So he finally comes as close as he will ever to answering that woman’s question and he disrespects her by making a joke out of out. Bush is the real joke.

“But history will look back, and I'm fully prepared to accept any mistakes that history judges to my administration, because the president makes the decisions, the president has to take the responsibility.” You didn’t even answer the question. So there, George W. Bush is not a real man. He is just a little wimpy alcoholic, drug addicted, civilian killing moron.

Kerry: “I've met parents who've on the Internet gotten the armour to send their kids.” Ok, ok, we get it! You can say really complex words like Internet and cat. Stop rubbing it into poor Bush. It’s not his fault he is inarticulate. Blame the years of alcohol abuse.

“And you can't say, because Saddam might have done it 10 years from now, that's not a reason; that's an excuse.” Take that Bush! KERRY FOR PRESIDENT! KERRY FOR PRESIDENT!

Bush: “Saddam Hussein was a risk to our country, ma'am.” Um, with what? I still can’t believe people support Bush after all the crap he says. Are they really that dumb? If so, that’s pretty sad.

In Bush’s closing statement I enjoyed this line: “The great threat to our country is that these haters end up with weapons of mass destruction.” Is Bush trying to appeal to rap fans now?

Bush: “But our long-term security depends on our deep faith in liberty. And we'll continue to promote freedom around the world.” Bush went on to say, “Because we sure ain’t promoting freedom and liberty here, huh Guantanamo Bay, wink, wink!”

Bush: “Freedom is on the march.” Yes, it is, on the march out of America.

I'm starting to become a huge Kerry fan now, but his constant namedropping was irritating. Here's what I mean:

" I just don‘t like the way John Ashcroft has applied it..."
"King Abdullah of Jordan said just yesterday..."
"Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee..."
"Senator Hagel of Nebraska said that the handling of Iraq is beyond pitiful..."
"General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff..."
"... if we were ready to work and letting Hans Blix do his job and thoroughly go through the inspections..."
"... despite the warnings of former Secretary of Defense William Perry..."
"The president—and this is one of the reasons why I am very proud in this race to have the support of General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral William Crowe, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Tony McPeak, who ran the air war for the president‘s father and did a brilliant job, supporting me, General Wes Clark, who won the war in Kosovo, supporting me; because they all—and General Baca, who was the head of the National Guard, supporting me."
"... because I‘m going to run a foreign policy that actually does what President Reagan did, President Eisenhower did, and others."
"Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, others, knew how to lead."
"And I‘ve gotten good people, like former Secretary of the Treasury Bob Rubin, for instance..."
"I think John McCain called the energy bill the “No Lobbyist Left Behind” bill."
"... you‘re going to see a rollback to the level we were at with Bill Clinton..."
"Former Governor Racicot, as chairman of the Republican Party..."
"Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, he is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee..."
"... Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois intervened and was able to get him out."
"But like Nancy Reagan, and so many other people—you know, I was at a forum with Michael J. Fox the other day in New Hampshire..."
"Chris Reeve is a friend of mine."
"And he said also that his two favorite justices are Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas."
"I subscribe to the Justice Potter Stewart standard."

With that said, Kerry easily won the debate. There really is no question about it.

And that’s it. I’ll post my thoughts on the third debate tomorrow.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

My thoughts on first Presidential Debate

I wrote this the day after I first watched the debate. Since this blog didn't exist at the time I was obviously unable to post it back then, so I'm doing it now. Tomorrow I'll post my thoughts on the second debate, followed by the third.

The first Presidential debate for the White House was held Friday morning (Melbourne time) in Florida. I wasn't up to see it live but I did get to see a repeat in the afternoon. I watched the whole 90-minute debate, and here is what I thought.

I don’t know why anyone has been debating over who won. For anybody who seen the debate Kerry won by a mile. The only people who will say otherwise are either extremely biased or extremely stupid. I heard a hick ring up a breakfast television show and say, “Bush won hands down.” Now, we all know hicks are stupid. Very stupid. Very, very stupid. Very, very, very… well you get the idea.

Bush came across as weak, agitated, sour and defensive. As one person put it, he looked like he was sucking on a lemon. He looked tired, as if he wanted to take a nap and resume later. And he couldn’t stop blinking! I once heard that people who blink profusely are liars. Kerry, on the other hand, came across as strong, determined, and articulate. Indeed, Presidential material.

John Kerry won a coin toss to see who would go first, and was asked whether he thought he could do a better job preventing another major terrorist attack on America than George Bush. Now of course Kerry is not going to come out and say Bush could do a better job, so this question was largely uninteresting.

The next question posed to Bush was did he think the election of Kerry would increase the chances of America being attacked again. That's a pretty crappy question, but I enjoyed this quote from Bush, "I have ... I understand everybody in this country doesn‘t agree with the decisions I‘ve made." UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY!!!!

Bush continued... "In Iraq, no doubt about it, it‘s tough. It‘s hard work. It‘s incredibly hard." Sorry, now that's THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY!!!!!!

"The enemy understands a free Iraq will be a major defeat in their ideology of hatred. That‘s why they‘re fighting so vociferously." Wow, when did he learn such a big word? I can just imagine him rehearsing the pronunciation over and over again... "Vocifersoftly... vocifersolly... vocifersanly..." "George, honey, it's past midnight, come to bed now." "Sorry Laura, honey, but I'm having troubles with this here word vocifersocotty..." Um, and anyway doesn't that word mean loud? I think the insurgents are doing more than just shouting.

Kerry then responded with articulate and sane words... "And smart means not diverting your attention from the real war on terror in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden and taking it off to Iraq where the 9/11 Commission confirms there was no connection to 9/11 itself and Saddam Hussein, and where the reason for going to war was weapons of mass destruction, not the removal of Saddam Hussein." Yay!!

Kerry continued... "This president has made, I regret to say, a colossal error of judgment." Double yay!!!

Bush continued with straight out lies, such as "The world is safer without Saddam Hussein." If you honestly believe that, well then I feel sorry for you because either you are being cruelly misinformed or you are very, very stupid. (In other words, a hick).

Bush: "We‘re facing a group of folks who have such hatred in their heart, they‘ll strike anywhere, with any means." I don't know about you, but when someone in a powerful position, especially the President of the free world, uses a term like "folks", well that just doesn't feel right.

Bush: "The biggest disaster that could happen is that we not succeed in Iraq. We will succeed. We‘ve got a plan to do so." And when are you going to use it, cause like, it's kinda bad in Iraq at the moment, so if you could just use your great plan of yours then I'm sure everything will be ok.

Bush: "He (Interim Prime Minister Allawi) believes, like I believe, that the Iraqis are ready to fight for their own freedom." Um... a lot of them have already been fighting for sometime.

Bush: "There will be elections in January. We‘re spending reconstruction money. And our alliance is strong. That‘s the plan for victory." Well that's good to know! So in other words, they hold elections (in the areas where they only have a few car bombings a day, throw money to rebuild buildings America bombed and then run away. Now I can sleep at night knowing Iraq has a great future!

After all that crap Kerry injected some sanity into things:

"The president just talked about Iraq as a centre of the war on terror. Iraq was not even close to the centre of the war on terror before the president invaded it." Double triple yay!!

Then Bush returned to fantasyland... "What my opponent wants you to forget is that he voted to authorize the use of force and now says it‘s the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place." And what's wrong with that? Ok, let's get this straight, the Bush camp love to mislead people on this issue. Kerry DID vote, but he did not vote for this war, he voted to give the President the capability to go to war if absolutely necessary. But as we all know this war was not necessary. Bush just doesn't understand this. He is so dumb.

Bush: "But, again, I want to tell the American people, we‘re doing everything we can at home, but you better have a president who chases these terrorists down and bring them to justice before they hurt us again." Yes, like you done with Osama bin Laden, oh... oops!

Bush had a message to the American troops: "Thank you for what you‘re doing. We‘re standing with you strong. We‘ll give you all the equipment you need. And we‘ll get you home as soon as the mission‘s done, because this is a vital mission.” Bush went on to say… And when the mission is done I'll stand on an aircraft carrier and declare Mission Accomplished... oh, hang on....

I loved this quote from Kerry: "The terrorism czar, who has worked for every president since Ronald Reagan, said, “Invading Iraq in response to 9/11 would be like Franklin Roosevelt invading Mexico in response to Pearl Harbour.”

This exchange has garnered a lot of laughter:

Kerry: "Secondly, when we went in, there were three countries: Great Britain, Australia and the United States. That‘s not a grand coalition. We can do better."

Bush: "Well, actually, he forgot Poland."

There is even a website dedicated to that comment, http://www.youforgotpoland.com

Bush: "You know, it‘s hard work to try to love her as best as I can, knowing full well that the decision I made caused her loved one to be in harm‘s way." No, your decision caused her loved one to DIE.

Here Bush plainly spells out how much of a stupid person he is: "I understand how hard it is to commit troops. Never wanted to commit troops. When I was running—when we had the debate in 2000, never dreamt I‘d be doing that. But the enemy attacked us, Jim, and I have a solemn duty to protect the American people, to do everything I can to protect us."
Um… what the f--k?! The enemy attacked you and then you invade... Iraq?! That is such an offensive remark. Thankfully Kerry picked up on this major oversight: "Jim, the president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important in this debate. In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said, “The enemy attacked us.” Saddam Hussein didn‘t attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. al Qaeda attacked us."

Bush reacted wildly to the truth: (acting agitated) "First of all, of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that."

More words of wisdom from Kerry: "It‘s one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong." There are cars all over America and the world just waiting for that message to be put on a bumper sticker.

Plus more: "The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons. It doesn‘t make sense. You talk about mixed messages. We‘re telling other people, “You can‘t have nuclear weapons,” but we‘re pursuing a new nuclear weapon that we might even contemplate using. Not this president. I‘m going to shut that program down, and we‘re going to make it clear to the world we‘re serious about containing nuclear proliferation."

Kerry said something Bush would never even think of, he spoke out against Russia: "I regret what‘s happened in these past months. And I think it goes beyond just the response to terror. Mr. Putin now controls all the television stations. His political opposition is being put in jail."

Bush’s closing statement didn't make much sense: "We‘ve climbed the mighty mountain. I see the valley below, and it‘s a valley of peace." Um… ok. Apparently this a religious message.

Proof that Bush is just a broken record:

"It‘s hard work." (In Iraq)
"It‘s incredibly hard." (In Iraq)
"It‘s hard work." (Protecting America)
"And it‘s hard work." (In Iraq)
"I understand how hard it is." (In Iraq)
"The plan says we‘ll train Iraqi soldiers so they can do the hard work, and we are."
"It is hard work." (In Iraq)
"It is hard work to go from a tyranny to a democracy."
"It‘s hard work to go from a place where people get their hands cut off, or executed, to a place where people are free."
"You know, it‘s hard work to try to love her as best as I can, knowing full well that the decision I made caused her loved one to be in harm‘s way."
"It‘s hard work." (In Iraq)
"Everybody knows it‘s hard work, because there‘s a determined enemy that‘s trying to defeat us."
"Vladimir is going to have to make some hard choices."
"We‘ve done a lot of hard work together over the last three and a half years."

"My opponent looked at the same intelligence I looked at and declared in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat."
"The intelligence I looked at was the same intelligence my opponent looked at, the very same intelligence."
"And when I stood up there and spoke to the Congress, I was speaking off the same intelligence he looked at to make his decisions to support the authorization of force."
"You know, we looked at the same intelligence and came to the same conclusion: that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat."

"I had the honour of visiting with Prime Minister Allawi. He‘s a strong, courageous leader."
"Well, Prime Minister Allawi was here. He is the leader of that country. He‘s a brave, brave man."
"One of his campaign people alleged that Prime Minister Allawi was like a puppet. That‘s no way to treat somebody who‘s courageous and brave..."

"He doesn‘t want U.S. leadership, however, to send mixed signals, to not stand with the Iraqi people."
"I know we won‘t achieve if we send mixed signals."
"I know we‘re not going to achieve our objective if we send mixed signals to our troops, our friends, the Iraqi citizens."
"I think that by speaking clearly and doing what we say and not sending mixed messages, it is less likely we‘ll ever have to use troops."
"You cannot lead if you send mixed messages.
"Mixed messages send the wrong signals to our troops."
"Mixed messages send the wrong signals to our allies."
"Mixed messages send the wrong signals to the Iraqi citizens."

"First of all, what my opponent wants you to forget is that he voted to authorize the use of force and now says it‘s the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place."
"I don‘t see how you can lead this country to succeed in Iraq if you say wrong war, wrong time, wrong place."
"My opponent says help is on the way, but what kind of message does it say to our troops in harm‘s way, “wrong war, wrong place, wrong time”?"
"So what‘s the message going to be: “Please join us in Iraq. We‘re a grand diversion. Join us for a war that is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time?”
"They‘re not going to follow somebody who says, “This is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
"They‘re not going to follow somebody who says this is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time."

"And if I were to ever say, “This is the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place,” the troops would wonder, how can I follow this guy?"

Friday, October 15, 2004

Tollway Road Rage

There has been a lot of controversy over the Mitcham-Frankston Tollway, and I’m tired of hearing people complain! For a one-way journey along the full road, that’s 39 kilometres, the most it will cost you will be $4.84. Victorian Opposition Leader Robert Doyle has been particularly vocal about the tolls, but let’s not forget that the Liberals were responsible for the tollway of CityLink.

However one alarming issue is that statistics say the tollway will bring in $10 billion, while the road will cost just over $2.5 billion. I don’t know how they have worked out that $10 billion, but if that is true then it is worrying. The Government should keep tolls on the road until the $2.5 billion is paid for, and then make the road a freeway. And remember Premier Steve Bracks said there wouldn’t be any tolls on the road, but of course this has changed (though at least he did apologise, for whatever that is worth).

But back to my irritation. I’d like to point out that the people up in arms over the tolls are forgetting a few things:

One - You do not have to use the road if you do not wish to. You do not have to pay a toll if you do not want to. Just avoid the road and use your usual route.

Two – The road has to be paid somehow. Would you rather it come out of taxes, so people that don’t even use the road pay for it. Don’t you think it is much fairer for those who actually use it to pay for it?

Three – Keep in mind the people who use public transport every day. They pay a toll every time they ride on a train, tram or bus (well most people anyway). A normal train fair from Chelsea to Frankston costs around $4, and that’s not very far. $4.84 for 39 kilometres is a very good deal indeed.

Four – Think positively. Think about how much time and petrol you will save. Isn’t that worth a small fee?

Oh, and with all the fuss this is causing you’d have thought the tolls would start tomorrow, but rather the road opens November 2008.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

A night of terror for character as well as viewers

Last week’s episode of US cable drama Six Feet Under was definitely the most powerful thirty minutes of scripted drama I have ever seen.

The episode started off normal enough (well, normal for Six Feet Under!). David Fisher was saying his goodbyes to his boyfriend Keith, who was leaving to do bodyguard work on a music tour. If you have never seen the show I should point out that each episode begins with a death. And so about fifteen minutes into the episode we cut to David driving the corpse of the lady who died at the start of the show back to the funeral parlour when he spotted a young man on the side of the road. The man said he had run out of gas and just wanted a lift to a gas station. David was only too happy to give the man a lift, however his kindness was not going to be repaid. At a liquor store the young man attacked David, sending him to the ground. Then David had a gun pointed at him and was forced to withdraw all the money from his account. Then the horrible situation turned into a confusing mess as the young man reverted back to his friendly persona. Indeed, for the rest of the horrific night the man would change back and forth between seeming friend and psychotic torturer.

For David it was the most harrowing experience of his life, a night he thought was going to be his last. But it wasn’t just David who went through hell. For me, and many others, it was the most tense and upsetting ride I have ever witnessed on a fictional program.

After the episode had finished I walked outside and stood in the cold, thinking about what I had just witnessed. Well, not so much thinking about it but rather trying to absorb it, make sense of it. After about fifteen minutes I returned inside, sat down and continued the contemplation. At several points I felt like crying. It was odd. It was as if a family member had been abused, or even myself. An hour after the episode had finished I was finally able to speak again.

There are several reasons why this episode affected me so heavily. I’ve been a fan of the show, and David since the beginning. These characters have entered my living room so many times over the past few years that they almost feel like family. In every medium – film, television, literature – I have never come across a character that I could relate to, until Six Feet Under. I can see so much of myself in David Fisher. Little things he says, thinks and does, a lot of the time I can totally relate. Many of the issues he has battled with have mirrored my own life. I could also see myself getting into the situation David got into, and that’s a very scary thought. During the episode I imagined myself in David’s shoes and wondered what I would do. Though really, you could have never seen the show before and be a total opposite to David, yet I believe most people would still find the episode harrowing.

At one point during the night David asked his abuser how he could be so completely disconnected from another human being. Indeed, the program might be fictional, however it holds more reality about the world in one line than most other programs manage to say in a whole season.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Afghanistan does democracy American style

The very first elections have been held in Afghanistan this past weekend, and while there was no violence there has been controversy.

To make sure citizens didn’t vote more than once officials at polling stations stained each voters thumb with a marker pen. The ink was supposed to last for up to fifteen days, however it is believed normal markers were mixed up with the long lasting variety. Instead of lasting for weeks many voters found that the ink washed off within seconds. It is unclear how many people took advantage of the ink mistake and voted more than once.

We managed to speak to one woman who admitted to voting more than once. The woman, dressed in a blue hijab, said she had voted seventeen times. “This is the first time we’ve ever got to vote. I thought I’d make up for all the years we’ve missed out on.” She said nobody at the polling station had suspected anything. When we contacted the officials at the polling station they said they didn’t think anyone had cheated the system. He said they had seen an unusual amount of women in blue hijabs, but a female colleague interrupted, saying they were in fashion at the moment.

When the story first broke most of the candidates running against Hamid Karzai said they would boycott the election results, casting a shadow over the historic elections. But it now seems likely that the majority will accept the results.

In a shock announcement, officials running the election said the ink situation was not a mistake, but had in fact been planned. “The Americans saved our country from the Taleban, they brought democracy to this country,” explained a spokesman. “When it came to holding elections we had no idea what to do, so the Americans helped us out. I believe they came all the way from Florida to do this. The people from Florida know how to hold great elections. I believe it was their idea for the ink. I’m not sure why they would want to do that, but they know what they are doing, so we didn’t complain.”

Photos of a man suspected of voting more than once have surfaced on an Islamic website. The website claims the man wore a different disguise every time he voted. But another website claims the photos are of different people. The photos are included below so you can decide for yourself.

In Afghanistan's first direct elections an ink mistake meant that some people could vote more than once. The above photos allegedly show a man who voted more than once, each time in a different disguise.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Our neighbour's cat is always coming into our house. Yesterday it entered the toilet, or as our American friends would call it: the bathroom (I didn't want anyone to think it had entered the actual bowl). In this picture it is sitting on the hot water system.

Then it jumped up onto the dryer. Note the cobweb on its face.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Murdoch’s War on Freedom

The American documentary OUTFOXED: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism has been released to Australian art house cinemas this past week. SBS’s The Movie Show had a review, as well as ABC’s At the Movies. The current affairs show Dateline had a feature on the documentary.

From a past entry you may have got the impression that I don’t really like the newspaper the Herald Sun all that much. But I give credit where credit is due, and Herald Sun film reviewer Leigh Paatsch is a reviewer who I like and respect. So I looked forward to seeing his review of Outfoxed, but alas Thursday came and there was no review. That’s odd, I thought. Perhaps the film was being released next week, but alas, once again, the film had indeed been released and The Age had a review (followed with another review and a full page story the next day). The Age was running advertisements for the film, but the Herald Sun’s pages were oddly devoid of any advertising for the film, save for the microscopic art house listings. I can’t comment on any other states News Corp. papers, but it seems as if Murdoch is making his Melbourne paper act as if the film doesn’t exist. Which is a huge shame because A) that goes against free speech and such an action should be deplored and B) I like Paatsch’s reviews and wanted his (honest) opinion on the film.

The Age: How could you do this to us?

In Melbourne we have two major newspapers, Rupert Murdoch’s Herald Sun and Fairfax's The Age. It makes me cringe just to look at the front cover of Murdoch’s trashy tabloid (it’s so jam-packed with irrelevance, ignorance and a general apathy towards anything other than sport and sensation that I need to shower after reading it), so The Age is my source of quality news. At a time when the Herald Sun is printing blatant lies about The Greens (including laws to make people eat less meat and ride bikes), in an attempt to stifle their rising popularity, I have come to embrace The Age as a defender of journalistic credibility. But Friday’s (October 8) issue hit me like a truck. The unthinkable happened: The Age supported John Howard in his bid for re-election.

The editorial cited economic reasons, and also pointed out Mark Latham’s inexperience. There is no doubt the economy is good, but surly you have to stack it up against all the horrible things this government has done. The locking up of children in detention centres, the amount of time people remain locked up in detention centres (one man has been locked up for over six years, yes – six years), lying that asylum seekers threw their children overboard, even though Howard was told this was not true, knowing about the abuse going on in Abu Ghraib prison and not saying anything, then lying about knowing it was happening months before the story broke in the American media. Oh, and ignoring intelligence that said Saddam Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass destruction and then entering Australia into an illegal and immoral war, making Australia a greater terrorist target.

Oh, and then there’s Howard’s stance on gay marriage, which is offensive, out-dated and bigoted (he actually said gay marriage would lead to the end of humankind because homosexuals can’t copulate). Howard’s abolishment of ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission) is truly insane. The governement suspended the ATSIC chairman Geoff Clark, but in an embarrseing turn of events the Federal Court found the suspension to be unlawful and “discriminatory against indigenous people”. Huh, what a pack of racists. And Greenpeace, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness society, have attacked Howard’s environment policy, calling it a “disaster”, and he still refuses to sign the Kyoto agreement. If you just look at the economic issue, yes, they probably deserve to be re-elected. But a government should not be elected on one issue. Their pros and cons should be weighed up. And somehow I think his failings would tip the scale towards being kicked out. Dismissing every horrible thing Howard and his colleagues have been responsible for, just to focus on the economy, is something I would expect from a Murdoch paper, but not The Age.

Needless to say many other readers felt the same way. The next day the letters page was flooded with readers shocked by such an honest newspaper supporting such a dishonest man. Some of the opinions expressed included:

“The Age let us down – badly. The editorial’s marginalisation of the Government’s ‘shortcomings’ (dehumanising treatment of refugees, sending young Australians to risk their lives and others in an unjustified war, lack of meaningful reconciliation with Aboriginal Australians) insults the value, respect and trust we have for The Age.”

“I’m hoping mad. How could The Age possibly back John Howard? I thought your paper at least would stand up to these liars, but your editorial was timidity itself. I can only guess that your leader writer doesn’t even read his own newspaper. Well, be assured that from now on, neither shall I.”

“The Age has betrayed Australia.”

“I am appalled that The Age endorses the Coalition. Some readers will not forget or forgive. I, for one, will not renew my subscription.”

I will, however, continue to read The Age. What other choice do I have in the area of newspapers? The Herald Sun? No thanks. I’d rather inform myself of important world issues rather than stare blankly at half naked celebrities and the frequent, pointless, pictures of children and animals, only to come across a major story shoved down into one paragraph on page 37. But my love of The Age has diminished, and it will take awhile to resurrect that faith. I don’t know what it will take, and I really don’t know if it could ever be fully restored. What The Age has done is huge. I know many people run to The Age to get away from all the butt kissing that goes on in most areas of the media. But now what do we do when a quality paper shuns the stories in its own pages and chooses John Howard? A few months ago The Age printed an editorial, which outlined the ridiculousness of banning gay marriage. It was intelligent, compassionate and much appreciated when the world seemed to be getting more hateful. Some more editorials with the same amount of intelligence would be nice.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Election 2004: Howard wins fourth term

Three more years. Three more f--king years.

I don’t know what to say. I feel kind of sick. I’m pissed because the lying rodent didn’t get kicked out like he oh so deserved to, but I’m also feeling sick because I feel disappointed with the Australians who voted for him. Why would they do such a thing? Are they intent on the destruction of Australia? The Liberals scare campaign over interest rates had better not be responsible for this. Howard and his cronies went on and on if Labour were elected interest rates would go up, even though the freaking government does not control interest rates and the majority of economists said interest rates would not be affected by who was in power. But it seems as if the terror campaign worked, which is so f--ked up. Winning an election by lying to your people, that’s just great.

The Liberals have 76 seats, Labour 47, and the independents have 3. It also seems likely that the Liberals will have a stronger force in the Senate, which means it will be easier for them to do all the insane stuff they have wanted to do but which was been previously blocked. You can bet we will see the sale of Telstra, among other travesties.

Predictably George W. Bush was pleased that his deputy sheriff got re-elected, calling Howard from Air Force One to congratulate his “great victory.”

But, there was some good news to come out of the election. The Greens have had their best election ever, with close to one million votes Australia wide. It is expected that the Greens vote will be around 10% nationally. Last night Greens leader, Bob Brown, predicted Christine Milne would win a Senate seat. This now makes the Greens the third strongest political party in Australia. On the other hand, the Democrats have had a disastrous election, getting just 1.1% nationwide.

In our electorate it seemed that the Liberals were going to win, but Labour came back and late last night seemed to have won.

Just as the sun is rising over the dawn of another three years of Liberal rule I have the feeling things are not going to get better. And I suspect the children waking up this morning in detention centres around the country would be feeling the same way.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Hanson buys sympathy votes with another suicide confession

The former One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, has admitted that she considered killing herself while locked up for fraud charges in a Brisbane prison. And most of Australia sighs with disappointment that she didn’t actually go through with it. But what do you expect from a politician, that she’d actually see her words through to the end?

During the interview, which took place on the bastion of credible news shows, Mornings with Kerri-Anne, a tearful Hanson said she had become so depressed in prison that she considered suicide. Unfortunately thousands of her supporters sent her letters of encouragement, which lifted her spirits.

This story was reported in News Limited papers and on news.com.au, but in fact this is not the first time Pauline Hanson has said she thought about suicide in jail. Back in November 2003, in another tearful interview, this time for 60 Minutes, Hanson confessed she had been placed on suicide watch. So why is she back on TV saying the same things, just a couple of days out of the election? Well, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it! While in jail she received thousands of letters and many people admitted they felt sorry for her. The interview was just a publicity sham to get sympathy votes for her bid for the Senate.

Meanwhile, Hanson has attacked Mark Latham; calling him nasty and saying he has no compassion.

Um… what?! Pauline Hanson attacking someone for having no compassion. Please! Someone get this woman an agent, she has a successful career in stand-up comedy just waiting for her.

Election 2004: Australia, vote out the bigoted war criminal!

Tomorrow we will know wether we can look forward to three years of new leadership under Mark Latham or fear three more backward years with John Howard. I’m really scared that Howard will get in again, and at this stage it seems very likely that he will. I can’t imagine what else he can possibly do to this country. His refugee policies are disgusting. And let’s not forget Howard led Australia into America’s immoral and illegal invasion of Iraq, making Australia a greater terrorist target. His views on gay marriage are bigoted and his ‘environmental’ policy is just insane. He is a pathological liar and his desire to abolish ATSIC and his refusal to apologise to our indigenous population is indicative of racism.

Please, please, please Australia; tomorrow vote “Honest John” out of office.

On a lighter note, yesterday I was woken by a thunderstorm. There was no rain, so I was able to hear the thunder extremely clearly. You know, I’m not a religious person, but as the thunder ripped through the air (I know that’s a cliché, but it’s the only way I can describe it) it felt so angry. I could picture an entity of spiritual existence being so pissed off with the state of the world. The thunder sounded so real, so solid, as if it saturated the sky - very powerful. It’s been ages since I’ve heard thunder…

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Greetings, greetings and even more greetings

Hello and welcome to my blog, or as the great Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali would say: greetings, greetings, greetings!

Maybe I should have wrote, “would have said” because Dali is dead, which renders him unable to extend his exuberant greetings to anyone, unless of course it was his ghost, but I have yet to bump into a real live (dead?) ghost in my life, and if I ever have the honour, well I’m sure I’d be lumped with a generic type, say the sad little girl in period dress or the depressed teen who shot himself, and not one of the worlds greatest painters.

Er, anyway, as I was saying, welcome to my blog. There are so many blogs wasting space on the net these days that you might just ask yourself, why the hell should I read yours? Well, I must say that is a genuine question, especially since the sentence ends with a question mark, which most always indicates that a question has been asked, unless of course you wished to type a forward slash but accidently held down the Shift key, or maybe you can’t speak English and just enjoy adding that funny squiggle at the end of every sentence.

Hang on! I’m typing this, not you. Um… But you might have thought it, and I’m just assuming your thoughts have good grammar, even though that technically doesn’t make sense. But hey, at least it makes more sense than people voting for John Howard (the Australian Prime Minster, if you don’t know who he is) or George W. Bush (if you don’t know who he is, well… I so envy your life).

As I was trying to say, welcome to my little corner of the World Wide Web. Here you will find political commentary, ridicule of popular culture, and long-winded entries on the humdrum of everyday life. So it has something for every one! Well, all except right-wing lunatics and fans of Charmed.

Well, ok, maybe I’ll include something for the right-wing lunatics from time to time, but definitely nothing for Charmed fans.

That is all.