Thursday, October 28, 2004

O’Really O’Reilly

“I should have been more alert, of course, but I never could mix vigilance and sex.”
William S. Burroughs (1914 - 1997), U.S. writer.

The eponymous right-wing republican (who says he is not voting for George Bush) host of the O’Reilly Factor on the Fox News channel, settled his extortion lawsuit against his female producer, who asked for $60 million in her sexual harassment suit against Bill O’Reilly.

In language that Karl Rove of the Bush White House could have written, O’Reilly told viewers that there was, “no wrongdoing in the case whatsoever by anyone" -- and went on to violate the agreement to keep the details confidential -- by disputing some of the details of what Andrea Mackris alleged were phone-sex conversations between them. “Please do not believe everything you hear and read," he said on "The O'Reilly Factor." The Misanthrope would go slightly further and ask viewers to remember that as it relates specifically to O’Reilly’s show and Fox News as well.

Since when does someone give another person a pile of money, estimates range from $2 million to $10, when there was no wrongdoing? The Misanthrope would like to be the next in line to collect some “no wrongdoing dough.”

This is just another example in a long line of pious republicans and evangelists caught being hypocrites about the morals of society, only to get caught themselves doing exactly what they revel in others getting lambasted for. Right off the top, The Misanthrope recalls two separate examples, a drug addicted Rush Limbaugh and Trinity Broadcasting televangelist Paul Crouch, who paid $450,000 to keep a homosexual tryst quiet.

Maybe republicans and the pious will eventually stop trying to dictate virtues and focus listeners and viewers on issues that matter, war, budgets, medicine and health care.

“Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men—the other 999 follow women.”
Attributed to Groucho Marx (1895 - 1977)

How to Vote More Than Once

I just can’t believe the state of our elective process. I voted early this year, as I usually do, at the library downtown. I brought my sample ballot with me, since I had already marked my choices after going through it with my wife, and I figured it would make the actual voting process go a little more quickly if I didn’t have to reread everything in the booth.

That sample ballot unraveled the last threads of my belief in the system.

When I got to the front of the line, a polling official asked me to sign and date the tear-off portion of the sample ballot, and she took it for processing; they handed me a card with a number on it (19) and I was sent to wait in a chair. A few minutes later my number was called, I was handed a smart card, and pointed to a booth.

What was missing there, do you think?

Hmm... how about any attempt to verify my identity? Perhaps a request to see a driver’s license or other official identity document? Or maybe even asking if I was the person named on the sample ballot?

That’s right – as long as you walk in with a sample ballot, you can vote. And it doesn’t even have to be yours.

“So what?” you may ask. How about this: you know someone who isn’t voting, and you ask if you can have their sample ballot. Or you borrow one from a friend, and “lose” it. Or you grab a few from unattended mailboxes. Whatever. Then you go on a tour of early polling places during the week before the election, and you proceed to vote as many times as you have sample ballots. The people whose ballots you stole will probably still vote on election day, since you can vote with a driver’s license if you don’t have your sample ballot – but you’ll have more than made sure your candidate has the most votes, because you and all of your friends have been voting early and often.

I wonder if this is the way we taught them to do it in Afghanistan?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Bravo Boston!!

And so I drink long life to the boys who plowed a new equator round the globe stealing bases on their bellies.
Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Yeah! They won eight in a row. They came back from a historic impossibility of being down three games to none to the powerhouse New York Yankees, who had the highest payroll in baseball, but obviously not the best team. Then Boston beat St. Louis, the team that had the most wins in baseball, in four straight. Tenacity and perseverance pay off every time, albeit 86 years in this case.

With all the turmoil around the world and in this country during the election season, it is nice to enjoy a great baseball series. The Misanthrope loves being able to enter the world of baseball and for nine innings and a couple of hours forget the outside world, this is what makes baseball the greatest American sport.

Baseball is the greatest of American games. Some say football, but it is my firm belief, and it shall always be, that baseball has no superior.
Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931), U.S. inventor.

Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem...It's impossible to understand America without a thorough knowledge of baseball.
Saul Steinberg (1914 - 1999), Romanian-born U.S. artist and cartoonist.

Dubya Thinks The Camera Is Off

Yes, it's old... but it's good. How does Bush behave when we're not looking? This may give us a clue; download the quicktime file "Victory Salute".

A Reckless and Arrogant Presidency

I wasn't lucky. I deserved it.”
Attributed to Margaret Thatcher (1925 - ), British prime minister. After receiving a school prize, aged 9.

Once the issue of the missing explosives was uncovered, a reporter asked the President about the weapons and the President just glared at him. How dare a member of the fourth estate, a watchdog of government dare question this president who believes God ordained him to lead this country.

Finally, President Bush addressed for the first time today (October 27, 2004) the disappearance of 380 tons of explosives in Iraq, accusing his campaign rival, Senator John Kerry, of exploiting the issue without knowing, or caring about, the truth.

Following his religious roots, he practices hypocrisy without missing a beat. Exploiting an issue is what the Bush Administration has done better than any previous president has.

This is the real kicker, "Our military is now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site," President Bush told a Republican crowd in Lancaster, Pa. "This investigation is important and it's ongoing, and a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander-in-chief."

That is right, we don’t want a president who jumps to conclusions or distorts the facts and places the country in the middle of an unwinnable war – a catastrophic success, if you will. The Misanthrope certainly does not feel safer with a clueless president.

Wireless Guns = Public Safety

In the spirit of Eric Drexler's Engines of Creation, in which the author predicts technological developments based on a visionary's ideas of "what" but not an engineer's knowledge of "how", I present my thoughts on gun control.

We already have PDAs and phones with wireless net access, that allow you to surf and buy and track and find, so I'm suggesting wireless handguns as the next step forward in personal and public safety.

Here's the deal: handguns that only operate for a particular user are already available, made possible by RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device). This equips a gun with radio waves and an antenna to receive those waves. The waves are transmitted from a ring or wristband worn by the shooter. The gun would be capable of accepting several memory codes; this would be helpful for families that have more than one authorized user. It would also satisfy law enforcement's need to have several officers capable of firing the same weapon (so that, for example, if one officer is killed in a firefight, another officer can use his gun). [Source]

This could be made a mandatory component of all handguns, with one addition: an uplink that logs each use of every gun to a database, which can be searched and cross-referenced by law enforcement. Any firing would be recorded, and the possible users of that gun would already be registered. Normally this sort of data wouldn't be accessed - hunting and training ranges and similar legal and regulated activities have little need of such constant observation. But bullets from the guns would be "tagged" in some fashion as they are fired from the gun, and could be traced to the gun records on-line. Get the bullet, trace the user, put the criminal in jail.

Another thought is a DNA sniffer on the trigger of such guns which would identify the user and then encode or tag that information on the bullet - guns don't need to be registered or on-line for this to work, since alll bullets would be traceable to the person who fired them.

Until the public starts demanding such new technologies to better protect themselves, unregulated purchase and use of handguns will continue to result in needless deaths. This isn't to say that such technologies will eliminate crime immediately, but improved tracking and prosecution of criminals based on these or similar methods will deter such crimes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

But where will they get the tacos from?

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Taco Bell will serve up a free taco to every American, baseball fan or not, if a Boston Red Sox or Saint Louis Cardinals batter hits a home run into a taco target during the World Series game tonight.

One question: where is Taco Bell going to find tacos?

Drooling and Driving

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California prosecutors are cracking down on motorists who are driving under the intoxicating influence of kava, an herbal tea gaining in popularity here.

Following their first successful conviction in June, San Mateo County prosecutors have filed three other cases, said San Mateo Deputy District Attorney Chris Feasel on Monday.

Motorists under the influence of Kava had a "thousand-yard stare," Feasel said. "They're drooling on themselves sometimes, their motor function is so bad," he added.

Later reports revealed that the convicted driver was not under the influence of kava at all, but was just George W. Bush out for a joy ride.

"The drooling was the real give-away," Feasel said.

Budget Discussion, with a Side of Fries

Lawmakers in Food Fight Over Arms Budget

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A food fight erupted in Taiwan's parliament on Tuesday as lawmakers quarrelling over a massive arms budget hurled their lunch boxes at each other.

"You've got no shame!" screamed Chu Fong-chih of the opposition Nationalist Party, after throwing a take-out box of chicken and rice at Chen Tsung-yi, a legislator from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party who backed the special budget. Chen responded by accusing Chu of sympathizing with Taiwan's arch-foe China, and flung his own lunch box at her.

Tom DeLay could not be reached for comment, but I'm sure he's taking notes.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Encouraging You Not to Vote

This past week in Mallard Fillmore (a right-leaning comic strip), the title character encourages everyone reading the strip to "ignore your T.V." and, if they haven't acquainted themselves with the issues of this presidential campaign, "DON'T VOTE!"

Aren't they embarrassed?

Seriously, it's not that I want uneducated people choosing a president based on the sound of his (or her) name, or the cut of his hair, but discouraging people from voting is a horrible form of anti-Americanism. The comic could better use its space to present issues, perhaps, rather than discourage popular participation in the electoral process.

Or, with a week to go before the election, how about just encouraging people to read up on the issues and make an informed decision? I get the feeling that the suggestion to skip voting is followed with a "wink wink" to Bush supporters, who should know that, of course, they should not be deterred from the polls, regardless of their knowledge of the issues; it's all of those moderate and liberal Americans who will vote for Kerry that scare the creators of Mallard, and whom they hope to discourage.

It makes me sick - with only half of all Americans voting in presidential elections, it is shameful to discourage even more from voting; espouse your crazy right-wing views, criticize Kerry, use your soapbox for whatever information you wish, but don't do America the disservice of telling its citizens not to vote.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

All Voters Welcome, If You Vote for Our Candidate

As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?
Boss Tweed (1823 - 1878), U.S. politician; or Jeb Bush, Florida, Governor

The Bush Administration is trying to spread democracy around the world just as missionaries worked to spread the teachings of Christianity. But, a closer look reveals that the Republicans follow the old cliché ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ While the Republicans happily point to the numbers of people who voted in the elections in Afghanistan and who will hopefully vote in the upcoming elections in Iraq, they don't want you to vote in the U.S. unless you are voting for them. The Republicans plan to give new Democratic voters a difficult time in the United States, if this is their first time.

According the Oct. 23, New York Times, Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.

Party officials say their effort is necessary to guard against fraud arising from aggressive moves by the Democrats to register tens of thousands of new voters in Ohio, seen as one of the most pivotal battlegrounds in the Nov. 2 elections.

Election officials in other swing states, from Arizona to Wisconsin and Florida, say they are bracing for similar efforts by Republicans to challenge new voters at polling places, reflecting months of disputes over voting procedures and the anticipation of an election as close as the one in 2000.

If republicans can’t win honestly, they will find another way.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Attack of the Clones

What is the real problem with cloning, anyway? We are on the edge of the future (as everyone is and has been on every day of their lives from the beginning of time until this very moment and into the forseeable future) and still, many people are very nervous about anything new or strange.

Let's face it: first, we've never been any good at developing technology and then not using it. So it's pretty much inevitable that if we can clone people, we will.

Second, is a clone going to be any different from a "regular" person in any important way? (Especially once we conquer sickness and death.) Once decanted, a clone will grow and mature, affected by nature (its cloned genes) but also by nurture. Are identical twins less "normal" because they are not unique? They why should clones be any different? They will not be exact copies of the individuals from which they are cloned, because they will grow up under different circumstances. And anyone who wants to read mre on the topic can check out Ira Levin's The Boys From Brazil, which is apparently so en vogue right now that it's out of print. And as for the religious argument: if identical twins, with identical DNA, can have independent souls, then why not clones? To misquote Shakespeare, "if you prick a clone, does it not bleed?"

Third, let's look at the folks that are really going to take advantage of cloning. People who can't have children any other way? Good for them! People who want to live out their dreams through genetically-identical children? If you can't make "regular" children do what you want, what makes you think clones will be any easier to push around? What about terrorists or dictators building a clone army? Again, it would take so long to do it, and be so fraught with logistical difficulties... it's easier to get some regulars off the street and brainwash them or promise them an afterlife filled with virgins.

Clone away, I say.

For all the good it'll do you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

France Rolls Out Red Carpet For Hitler

In a stunning display of the kind of courage and integrity that France is known for, French schools have started expelling students who refuse to remove religious headgear, in violation of a national education policy.

Muslim headscarf? Take it off!
Sikh turban? Take it off!
Jewish yarmulke? Take it off!
Hitler-style mustache? Tres bien!

You can read the article on Yahoo.

Etiquette for Public Transportation

Just so there's no more confusion on the issue - if you intend to board a vehicle for public transport, whether bus or train or similar conveyance, it is considered polite to wait for passengers to disembark before attempting to climb aboard; this will speed the flow of people in to and out of the vehicle, and just makes good plain sense.

And here's a proposed plan for increasing the efficiency of escalators and other related pedestrian conveniences: in Europe and, in point of fact, the entire world outside of the United States, the right side of the escalator is for standing; the left side is for walking. If you intend to dawdle or pull up your socks or search in your bag for that itinerant pack of gum, please move to the right and let me get on with my day. Don't stand in the middle as if you have claimed the stair for you and your descendants for all posterity.

Hey Congressional Representative, Can You Spare a Flu Shot?

Many people consider the things which government does for them to be social progress, but they consider the things government does for others as socialism.
Earl Warren (1891 - 1974) U.S. jurist.

The Los Angeles Times reports today that despite a nationwide flu shot shortage members of Congress are able to get shots even they don't fall into a high-risk group. So far, more than 2,000 shots to lawmakers and their staff members have been given out. This is what representing the people has come to - let the elderly stand in line for hours and suffer the indignity of trying to stay healthy. Now, if they needed a profitable drug such as Viagra there would be no line.

Hey CEO, Can You Spare a Dime?

Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.
Erich Fromm (1900 - 1980) German-born U.S. psychoanalyst and philosopher.

While looking at today’s Los Angeles Times’ Business Section, the Misanthrope noticed that Callaway Golf Posts Loss for 3rd Quarter, Avery Dennison Shares Down 3%, Safeway’s Profit Hit by Lingering Effects of Strike, and Wall Street Falls Despite Some Upbeat Earnings. Then the Misanthrope noticed on the bottom of page 4 CEO Pay Up Substantially Across U.S. Industries. What the hell is wrong with this country to allow such blatant profiteering at the expense of average workers? At some point in the near future, people need to embrace their power and not support companies where CEO pay is more than 300 percent of their lowest paid employee.

Iraq in New York

A near riot in Yankee Stadium erupted when Yankee fans like our president couldn’t stand the truth. The umpires akin to weapon inspectors, determined that A Rod did indeed cheat and swatted the ball out of Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s glove, and that there was no reason to call A Rod safe. The umpires conferred and reached the right answer as the video taped showed. The insurgents at the stadium began to toss baseballs and anything else at their disposal onto the field. Rather than taunt the animals of the Bronx Zoo to “bring it on,” as our president did, which than inspired a surge of unrest and killings, the umpires used overwhelming force by allowing police in riot gear to line the outfield foul lines until things calmed down.

The Misanthrope thinks such fan behavior is unacceptable and the game should have been called in favor of Boston. This will send a message loud and clear that such behavior is not condoned in a baseball game.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Hello... kettle? This is the pot. I'm in Syria, meeting with the Hezbollah.

The Associated Press reported today (courtesy the Los Angeles Times) that "the head of a U.S. Presbyterian Church delegation [specifically, one Rev. Nile Harper] called on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories."

So where was Rev. Nile Harper when he said this? In Syria. Which occupies Lebanon - even the White House has acknowledged this and has asked Syria to get out.

What did Rev. Nile Harper do after his visit to Syria? He went to Lebanon and met with a commander of the terrorist organzation Hezbollah.

And now, some background (for those of you who need it).

In addition to Syria's support for terrorism, Syria continues its illegal occupation of Lebanon in contravention of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 425 and 520. Through its occupation of Lebanon, it undermines democracy and development there. It provides protection for criminal enterprises, such as the growth and production of drugs and of Western and Arab currency counterfeiting in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, whose profits serve to finance the activities of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. [Source]

Hezbollah and its affiliates have planned or been linked to a lengthy series of terrorist attacks against America, Israel, and other Western targets. These attacks include a series of kidnappings of Westerners, including several Americans, in the 1980s; the suicide truck bombings that killed more than 200 U.S. Marines at their barracks in Beirut in 1983; the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847; and two major 1990s attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina—the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy (killing 29) and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center (killing 95). And because Lebanon has been under Syrian control since 1990, Hezbollah could not operate in Lebanon without Syria's approval. [Source]

Rev. Nile Harper, put down the phone and get yourself back to America. Oh, and be quiet.

Learning to Smoke

Early this evening I sat on a train, waiting to depart from the depot, and watched a man subtly smoking a joint as he sat with a small boy I assume was his son.

In this way, I suppose, he can instill in his progeny an appreciation for the odor and illicit behavior accompanying it.

Way to go!

Reconsider Your Vote For George Bush

‘Some visions are intelligent and benign. Other visions are stupid and malevolent. "Where there is no vision ... the people perish," the Good Book says. Where there is a defective vision, people perish too. In a democracy, it is up to the people themselves to make the fateful choice.’

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Historian

The following was taken from Bill Moyers "Moyers on America, A Journalist and His Times"

American democracy depends less on the size of its armies than on the capacity of its individual citizens to rely, if only momentarily, on the strength of their own thought. Before you cast your vote think about the fact that President Bush and his administration have seldom bothered to observe the minimal decencies of moderate thought abroad or nationally, either socially by helping individuals or families who are forced to eke out a living, or internationally with its burning (and maybe personal) desire to unseat Saddam Hussein.

Life is a social, not solitary endeavor
Since the election of the early 1980s, the idea that the public good is superior to the private interest has been out of fashion. Now the Bush Administration has taken that philosophy to a new level. The Administration’s goal is to privatize everything it possibly can, including services typically performed by the military.

Privatization works in some cases, but not in all cases. Government needs an active role in society. Government needs to enforce fair play and when necessary be the friend, the helper and the agent of the people at large in the contest against entrenched power, whether it is a monopoly of oil companies, a cartel of HMOs or military contracting companies. Our society needs to help others who do not have the opportunity to help themselves.

If everything is privatized society ends up as a war of all against all, powered by individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power. How do you help? You help by understanding --

  1. That a Social Security card is not a private portfolio statement, but a membership ticket in a society where we all contribute to a common treasury so that none need face the indignities of poverty in old age.

  2. That our nation can no more survive half democracy and half oligarchy than it could survive half slave and half free, and that keeping it from becoming all oligarchy is steady work – our work.

  3. That tax evasion is not a form of conserving investment capital but a brazen abandonment of responsibility to the country.

  4. That income inequality is not a sign of freedom of opportunity at work, because if it persists and grows, then unless you believe that some people are naturally born to ride and some to wear saddles, it’s a sign that opportunity is less than equal.

  5. That public services, when privatized, serve only those who can afford them and weaken the sense that we will all rise and fall together as “one nation, indivisible.”

  6. That prosperity requires good wages and benefits for workers

The eight-hour day; the minimum wage; the conservation of natural resources and the protection of our air, water, and land; women’s rights and civil rights; free trade unions; Social Security; a civil service based on merit – all these were launched as citizens’ movements and won the endorsement of the political class only after long struggles and in the face of bitter opposition and sneering attacks. Democracy doesn’t work without citizen activism and participation. Trickle-down politics is no more effective than trickle-down economics.

A Brief Introduction

Hi. I'm B2, and I'll be one of your new friends here at Toner Mishap. The concept of friendship, of course, being relative.

Toner mishap?

It sounds odd at first, but it sticks with you. And, frankly, we like the images it conjures up in the heads of unsuspecting participants in our recently conducted unbiased polls.

As for why we picked it, it's an anagram. Of something.

Other possibilites we reviewed include:

in metaphors
orphan items
a mentorship
atheism porn
metaphor sin
another simp

As for what we'll do here, there are no rules. Except for the one about having no rules - that's our only rule. So it should really be, "There are no rules except our rule about having no rules." Or maybe "There is only one rule - we have no rules."

Anyhow, we invite you to join us and enjoy our period of adjustment.