Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I'm Thankful For Many Things

None of which include thankfulness for the results of Election Day

I'm thankful that:

  1. I have great family and friends.
  2. There are many groups trying to hold election officials accountable for the errors and issues with the process.
  3. That the groups from #2 kinda sorta maybe include Kerry and the Democratic Party (though that is by no means certain).
  4. That I live in a country where I can title a blog post "McCain Did It For The Reach Around", even if that means I regret the crude humor days later.
  5. That I don't absolutely need a second job (for now).
  6. That I have the time to sit down and post stuff like this.
  7. That I can piss away a few extra dollars trying to bring readers to the blog that I waste my time on.
  8. That, even though there is more I could list, I am able to say I'm calling it a night.

It's that time of year...the holidays. I'll be making every effort to provide some updates...especially if I get some interesting recount news.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Open Letter to Fareed Zakaria

Or "Gee, I wonder if there isn't a little bias to your extolling the virtues of student visas"

The title of this post links to Mr. Zakaria's opinion piece that garnered this response, as does this sentence.

"To: comments@fareedzakaria.com
Subject: Your visa overreaction

If we stop allowing corporations to fill high tech positions with cheaper foreign workers, those corporations will have to go back to paying a competitive American wage. With the restoration of that wage, you will see more Americans training for the positions that you remark have widely filled by foreigners.

Americans, unfortunately, don't do one thing or the other for anything more than the money involved. If you paid the average landscaper $200k/year, you'd find a lot of people flocking to the field...and a good deal of those people working hard to do the job not because they love landscaping, but because they take pride in their work.

We're not talking landscaping jobs here, but that's a line of work that is probably less desirous than any scientific field...which is my point: we go where the money is.

Don't give me the line about the damage this will do to our scientific advancements while waiting for people to flock to these fields. If waiting for the shift in economic dynamic is fine for those who lose their jobs to outsourcing, then it is fine for us to fall back a little bit for the greater good.

Though, I am sad at the lessening of opportunities to convince foreign students that America is a great place of freedom. That sadness will be tempered with the knowledge that less tax payer dollars are being used to educate foreign students that don't pay into the tax system.

And here I thought that you'd be a little more objective on this issue...try to see both sides...but obviously I overestimated your ability to remain impartial.

I do admire much of your other work (including your DAILY SHOW appearance), but strongly disagree with you on this.

Kevin Huxford"

Bill Bradley...Please Come Back

Where have you gone? Oh where have you gone!

I don't have a lot to put up on this topic right now. The hour is late and I want to put something together with a lot of love and care regarding my favorite Senator to ever have served this great nation of ours: Bill Bradley.

He is an idealist and a realist, in my eyes. I know the two labels seem contradictory, but they only SEEM that way.

Required reading, whether you like him or not: Bill Bradley's Vietnam

Republicans Hate Democracy

OK...maybe only the Washington state ones do...

If you take a look at the story about the gubernatorial election in Washington, that state's GOP doesn't want every vote counted.

They tried to pass a restraining order to prevent the handcounting of votes that weren't able to be electronically processed.

That's all. Nothing more I can possibly add to that. What more explanation or comment does that need?

OH, How Ohio is Screwed Up!

Or "If Ohio Were a Real Person, It Wouldn't Have Passed 1st Grade Math"

Well, folks...we have 2600 ballots that were counted TWICE in Ohio. They ran them through the optical scanner and then apparently wanted to see if it would feel as good the second time...and ran them through again.

They've, also, uncovered almost 20 suspected incidents of double-voting.

Yeah yeah...20 is an underwhelming number. But we're not talking about the results of having doublechecked the entire state. We're barely into the research efforts here.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave...

McCain Did It For The Reach Around

John swallowed more than his principles when he endorsed Bush for re-election

I believe it is official: McCain endorsed Bush in order to guarantee himself an excellent chance at garnering his party's nomination in 2008.

Let us be clear on something: I have said many times over the last 4 years that I could have gone to sleep happy on Election Night without knowing who won had it boiled down to Bill Bradley vs. John McCain for the privilege of serving this great nation. I would have gone whistling down the street through the whole recount process. I could imagine McCain and Bradley being cordial through the whole process and allowing every vote to be counted without courts needing to be involved.

But it is possible that the John McCain of the 2000 Republican primaries doesn't exist anymore. That McCain wouldn't have given a ringing endorsement to the same Bush that smeared his good name and military record. But this McCain hugged and kissed Dubya, for God's sake! The 2000 McCain wouldn't have ignored all of the work that he collaborated with Kerry on to support Bush. McCain wouldn't have supported a President that he acknowledges has mismanaged the war in Iraq, the war on terror, and the piss poor economy (amongst other things).

It is a sad day when the true leaders in public service we have become nothing more than favor-trading politicians.

I've experienced two days like that in the last few years:
  • the day that Colin Powell went from dove to hawk overnight, after being put over Dubya's knee on the issue of making war with Saddam
  • the day that John McCain tossed his principles aside just so he can give it a go in 2008

Don't know how many days like that I can stand before I lose the faith I have left in our methods of finding and choosing leaders.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Hypocrisy in Action

Or "Hypocrisy Through Inaction"

I work as a help desk analyst. You could consider my position to be in the IT or tech industry, I guess. I'm not interested in labels unless they translate directly into a better salary.

So, you can imagine that the outsourcing of tech jobs has been an item that catches my eye on a regular basis.

Like with manufacturing jobs, technology jobs apparently can be done abroad for a much cheaper price. IT companies send jobs abroad either to increase their profit margin (9 times out of 10) or to be able to bid more competitively against other companies that have already outsourced to Second and Third World nations. Executive compensation doesn't get cut or see their jobs outsourced; management often stays on even when their whole department is outsourced to Banglore, India.

As referenced in another one of my posts here (
Congress Approves $388B Spending Measure), Congress spent time approving an additional 20,000 work visas for tech workers to come to America for jobs and didn't attempt to restore overtime to the many white collar workers the Bush administration has taken it away from.

But some other things they failed to do are even more important:

  • didn't pass any legislation to discourage the outsourcing of American jobs (in any industry).
  • didn't remove the tax benefits that encourage American companies to send jobs outside of the country.
  • didn't pass a bill that would have demanded that federal government work be done by American companies that will not outsource the work to facilities outside of this country.

Not to use this quote too much...but:

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."
by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

First, thousands upon thousands of manufacturing jobs were moved outside of America (most profound is that no television set is made in America these days). I didn't sit and take notice: I had no intention of ever working at a plant on anything. I said little or nothing. Then, customer service jobs were sent over to India, but didn't take too much notice as I never plan to go back to such work. I said little or nothing. But then my company sent the high tech jobs in my career path to India, which woke me up. I stood up, took notice, and decried the move to anyone who would listen...but who was left to truly listen?

This country stopped supporting its unions regularly after Reagan stomped a mudhole in them. Not long after, the "Made in America" sentiment seemed to start to die a slow death. The best you can do to get people riled up about the outsourced companies being outside of US jurisdiction, meaning private information could be used for identity theft with little legal repercussion.

So here we are...with no one caring about where this economy is going; namely, fleeing to other countries.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

What's The Matter With Blue Collar Republicans? Part Deux

You're now as American as baseball, mom, apple pie, and...oak trees???

OK...on 11/18, I posted a lame reference to Thomas Frank's "WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS?". I say "lame" because it was my second and least attractive effort. The first effort...which I would have taken great pride in if posted...was wiped out after I highlighted it to copy it and accidently hit the SHIFT key. Apparently, on this BLOGGER app, if you have every single letter of a blog highlighted before hitting the shift key, it wipes it all out. I tried to duplicate it with all but one sentence highlighted and found it only worked if the whole thing was highlighted. God bless technological advancements...

OK...I've gotten off track. The point of this post isn't to complain that technology can lead to almost as many frustrations as it resolves, but to further the point that blue collar workers in the heartland of America are voting for Republicans who betray the same moral issues that get them elected.

Case in point (courtesy of Yahoo News):

Congress OKs $388 Billion Spending Bill

"Resolving one last-minute fight, Senate GOP leaders agreed to give abortion-rights supporters a chance by spring to repeal language making it easier for health-care providers to decline to provide abortions or offer counseling and referrals."

You read that right. The GOP leadership is keeping anti-abortion language of the spending bill available for further debate.

Let me list some items that, apparently, they didn't need to leave open for debate:

  • $335,000 to protect sunflowers in North Dakota from blackbird damage.
  • $60 million for a new courthouse in Las Cruces, N.M.
  • $225,000 to study catfish genomes at Alabama's Auburn University.
  • $2 million for the government to try buying back the former presidential yacht Sequoia for President Bush. The boat (sold about 30 years ago) is currently assessed as being worth almost $10 million...but the current owners will likely be forced to take much closer to the $2 million approved.
  • The FBI (news - web sites), the Securities and Exchange Commission (news - web sites) and NASA (news - web sites) got healthy increases.
  • Education, however, grew by less than 2 percent. "No Child Left Behind"? How about "Every Child Underfunded?
  • Denied attempts to block the Bush administration's restriction of overtime; as many as 1 million or more Americans now are at risk to lose their overtime pay.
  • There will be visas for 20,000 more skilled foreign workers for high technology businesses (workers that are cheaper than and redundant to the many unemployed American tech workers, mind you).
  • Defeating efforts to extend some federal milk subsidies and repeal country-of-origin labels for many foods.
  • A provision was included that named the oak tree as our national tree (added by a Republican from the great state of Virginia).

So, folks, an unborn child could be said to be considered less important by the GOP than...

  • Designating a national tree.
  • Screwing our kids out of budgeted funds for their education.
  • Shielding Corporate America from having to compensate a good portion of the American worker for the time they lose with their family when forced to work overtime.
  • Providing Corporate America with cheap, legal immigrant workers rather than pay fair wages to Americans.
  • Getting a sweetheart deal on a $10 million yacht for Dubya.
  • Sending man back out to space again (likely to help "spacial entrepeneurs").
  • Finally understanding the elusive catfish DNA.
  • Building a court house in New Mexico that, by the budget, appears to have plans calling for it to be made of diamonds and assorted precious metals (but of course, I jest).
  • And...finally...protecting sunflowers in the RED state of North Dakota; apparently meaning that the Republican congressmen from that fine state aren't sure if life begins at conception, but are sure that it shouldn't end with blackbirds tearing apart the precious, living sunflower plant.

So...my brothers and sisters in the heartland of America...allow me to quote Richard Dawson's character in THE RUNNING MAN:


Really...if seeing where the GOP's priorities really are isn't more disturbing than the revelation that no one really wins in THE RUNNING MAN...then y'all are just sheep willingly being led to the slaughter.

If that's the case...by all means...don't let me keep you any longer and deprive the GOP from feeding on your carcasses...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

What's the Matter With Blue Collar Republicans?

Or "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

Thomas Frank recently appeared on Comedy Central's THE DAILY SHOW WITH JOHN STEWART in support of his book, "What's The Matter With Kansas?"

I've read transcripts of previous interviews on the book and reviews of it as well. In the book, Mr. Frank makes a case for the heartland of American being the victims of a political "bait and switch" by the Republican party.

You see...the Republican Party plays up their positions on Godly issues (anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, pro-censorship/decency laws, anti-gay marriage, etc) to sway the blue collar, God fearing voter to choose Big Red.

But, upon getting into office, those same Republicans can't deliver any changes on the issues (and some suggest they don't want to). See...it is almost impossible to legislate any changes on these Godly issues. The will of the people is too divided on these issues for us to come to a consensus that will change them and principles of democracy demand that we err on giving people free choice rather than on telling them what is good for them. So, there is really nothing that can be accomplished by sending elected officials to Washington for issues of morals.

Well...our GOP friends have been elected to office, but can't change anything on these issues...what to do with the rest of their time? Why, follow through on the rest of their platform, namely the economic issues that are pro-corporation, of course...often at the expense of the same blue collar, God fearing voter that elected them.

This happens time and time again. Are the Republicans just that good at pulling the wool over the eyes of the voter? No...they have plenty of help from the Democrats.

Over the last few decades, Democrats appear to be moving more towards the middle economically while staying to the left on social issues. They think that they are trying to broaden their appeal to Republican voters, but all they really accomplish is further polarizing the voter on the social issue...since the differences there standout the most.

Thus, a blue collar worker votes his spiritual conscience on Election Day and votes his or her way to a decreased paycheck or to no paycheck at all.

And I blame the Democrats for their slow abandoning of the blue collar worker and the unions.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Pardon the Quiet

Just waiting on the storm...

The Green and Libertarian Parties (called the "Glibs" by Mr. Olbermann) announced on Monday that it was able to raise the $150,000 necessary to get their recount in Ohio. Nader is getting his recount in New Hampshire. The General Accounting Office is expected to respond by the end of the week about the calls from members of Congress to investigate the multitude of issues and errors with the way the voting has been run in several states (even those where the overall results aren't in question).

In short, it is, to me, the equivalent of a tie score in the Super Bowl with only 1 second left on the clock and one team lined up for a 54yd field goal to win the game. It has me on the edge of my seat, focused, and too nervous to say anything. Well...OK...I am posting here, but you get the point.

Since I'd feel ashamed to post so little, I'll add this: all of the confirmed e-voting errors show you how little regard those running the system have for getting an accurate account of your vote. It, also, shows how ignorant YOU, the American people, are of exactly how little the system cares to make sure your vote counts.

How else can you explain NC finding out...OOPS...that computer couldn't hold the 4500 votes that were recorded on it, leading to a crash that lost ALL of the votes? How else can you explain insufficient testing done to catch little things like machines that recorded negative vote tallies? Or the lack of testing that missed it being possible that a machine in Ohio could give Bush 3900 votes more than he got on a machine that recorded 658 votes?

Maybe even a little care in making sure we truly have a representative government on all levels could have been exhibited by training Florida election volunteers a little better on the maintenance and calibration of the touch screen machines used there? For Pete's sake, they resorted to wet wipes and pencil erasers to try to get the right vote recorded. For the record, much like the popular gag video that had been passed around the weeks before the election...many people tried to select KERRY but found BUSH selected on their screen...sometimes having to repeate the process 11 times to have the machine get it right. They say "user error"...but where there's smoke, there's fire (as in a problem with the machine, not necessarily a conspiracy at work).

Go ahead...Google some of my examples if you think they're sound far-fetched (search option supplied at the top of the page)...or e-mail me and if a few people ask, I will Google and post links to newspaper articles that give every detail your heart desires.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Eh...Who Really Cares Anyway?


I've read countless mainstream media articles over the last two weeks about how paranoid/crazy anyone who thinks there has been any vote fraud/error of a large enough quantity to make a difference in the final tally of Ohio must be. There message: President Bush won...now get over it.

Lost on the supposed journalists we currently have in this country is that voting is a sacred right in America. Whether the end result of the election would or would not change, any reports of lost votes or incorrect official tallies of votes should be front page news.

We're already an apathetic nation. I submit to you that most of the registered voters that stay home on Election Day do so because of apathy. "Eh, who cares? If Candidate A gets in, it won't change my life overnight." Or...as is universally accepted..."Who cares? My vote won't make a difference anyway!"

When the media tries to portray itself as fair, balanced, and rational in saying, "there are some anomalies in the voting, but it wouldn't have made a difference, so just let it go, people," do you think this increases or decreases voter apathy?

If there was one e-voting machine that lost 4000 votes (crazy idea, eh)...but it didn't make a difference in the results of the election...how important would you feel that was?

Now...imagine it was the machine you recorded YOUR VOTE on.

If there was a college campus that served as a voting precinct for all of the students and a good portion of off-campus locals that, for all of the voters registered for that precinct, only had TWO VOTING MACHINES (resulting in waiting on line for HOURS to vote), how important would you feel that was?

Now...imagine YOU had to vote in that precinct, had been waiting for an hour and a half and had to make the decision to wait longer to vote or avoid being late (risking losing your job or at least drawing your boss's ire)?

I can give more examples...but wouldn't you want someone out there to care about counting your vote whether or not it would make a difference in the end results? If for nothing else, at least for your peace of mind?

Unions, Uh, Good God, Y'all, What Are They Good For

Alot, Actually, But They Were Blasted By a (Ronnie) Ray Gun

As I've said many times in person conversations, unions are a very good thing. I know that a lot of people have a bad opinion of them. They either think that they're all mobbed up and corrupt or they simply think they are ineffective.

Let's dispell some myths:

1. Unions collect more in dues than they give back to the workers in wage and benefit increases.

FALSE - The average monthly dues payment is 2.5 hours of pay per month. If you were getting paid $10/hr, that would mean about $25 a month. It is fair to say the average full time worker has 160 paid hours a month. If the union simply got your hourly wages increase by 16 pennies an hour, it already has paid your dues for the month...and that is without factoring in their power to reduce what you pay for your benefits and the introduction of additional low-or-no cost benefits (tuition reimbursement, on-site daycare, etc.).

2. Unions are always making their workers go on strike.

FALSE - Workers in almost every union have to take a vote to authorize their leadership to call a strike. That means no one is forcing anyone to go on strike. According to the AFL-CIO's own myth-busting portion of their website (http://www.afl-cio.org/aboutunions/joinunions/myths.cfm), 97% of all negotiations are settled without a need for a strike. In the cases where it is needed, it is hard to argue with its effectiveness.

For instance, in CWA's strike against SBC Global, the company wanted to increase healthcare premiums, guarantee the workers' jobs for only 3 years of a 5 year contract, and continue outsourcing internet service telephone support. Through the strike, they negotiated to get the jobs guaranteed for the full 5 year contract, 3000 outsourced internet support positions will be transitioned back to the US over the next three years, and for the premiums not to be raised quite as much as the company had planned. On top of that? The workers received a $1000 annual bonus. All from a 4 day strike.

Now, like any good diet pill or MLM ad on TV, let me say that these results may not be typical. But they are possible and...this I'll guarantee...they're 100% better than the average worker could negotiate with HR on their own. I'd like to see an hourly wage worker walk into HR and get lowered insurance co-pay, a 5 year guarantee, and an extra $1000/per year (on top of hourly wage increases). Not bloody likely.

Want an example of success without striking? Check out http://www.cwa3204.org/ and the details regarding the Lucent contract.

3. Companies fold because of unions.

FALSE - Unions decrease employee turnover rates and increase productivity. Again, according to the AFL-CIO's site, about half of employers illegally threaten their workers with plant/location shutdowns if they unionize, but only 1% of newly organized shops/locations shutdown. A vast majority of companies that close their doors for good are NONUNION.

4. Unions have corrupt leadership.

FAL...well... - Look...you can check out http://www.afl-cio.org/aboutunions/joinunions/myths.cfm for a more apologetic explanation...but unions are, at their core, democracies. Translation: their leadership is only as good as the voters decide it will be. One man, one vote...and with no such thing as an electoral college, that means a helluva lot more in a union. In my opinion, any union corruption (which is statistically a very rare thing) is caused by the rank and file membership being asleep at the wheel. The response to finding corruption isn't to throw out the system, but to throw out the offenders and re-double your efforts to get things running right. If we dismissed systems due to the corruption of individual leaders, tell me what system of government this great country would be practicing?

That's enough for me. It is 6am here in Chesapeake and I need to be at work at 2pm. Screw that "recommended 8 hours of sleep a night" stuff, eh?

Oh...and if you'd like to see a little bit of what my "(Ronnie) Ray Gun" reference is about, check out http://www.stfrancis.edu/ba/ghkickul/stuwebs/btopics/works/atcstrike.htm.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A Little Welcome to New Readers

New Readers? This Blog Started Last Sunday!

Yeah...it has been around a short time, but there are new readers everyday. I'm taking this moment to ask that, if you read no other post, please read "WHERE IS THE MORAL OUTRAGE?"

Why? Because as heartfelt and important as I feel US HOUSE OF LORDS is...and it really is...that post isn't the sexiest set of words in the world. Which, I guess, speaks to one of the weaknesses in this apathetic country: the most important issues can often fail to capture the attention of an electorate that doesn't really care so much about gerrymandering as they do about whether Rupert really deserved to win the first SURVIVOR.

Anyway...come for the "WHERE IS THE MORAL OUTRAGE?", stay for the "US HOUSE OF LORDS".


The US House of Lords

What Happened to Short Terms Equaling a Voice for the People?

David S. Broder has written an article for the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41304-2004Nov10.html - free registration required) that is at once fascinating and disturbing. The article documents how the House of Representatives has been set up to be a haven for incumbents. This year, excluding Texas, 99% of incumbents were returned to Washington. Please note that I say "returned", not elected. It is an important distinction.

David points to Representative John Mica, a 61 year old Florida Republican, will return for another 2 year term without receiving a single vote! Shocking? Yes. Criminal? No. You see...no one ran against Rep. Mica. In Florida, if you are running unopposed with no one notifying the state that they intend to wage a write-in campaign, you are automatically reinstated to serve in Congress.

But why would no one run against Representative Mica? Was it that everyone in his district thought he was clearly the best man for the job? Certainly someone had to feel (foolishly or no) that they could do a better job? It is downright undemocratic and unamerican to let someone run unopposed. I mean...insert sarcasm here...isn't that why the Republican Party dragged Alan Keyes to Illinois to run against Senator-Elect Obama?

Well...he ran unopposed most likely because of the composition of his district. You see...if his district is heavily Republican or votes heavily Republican (there is a difference between the two in FL, as per the presidential election results)...the Democrats could be inclined to concede the seat and not waste money on a campaign.

Across America, thirty other seats in the House of Representatives were similarly decided without anyone challenging the incumbent. THIRTY SEATS!?!?! THIRTY DISTRICTS IN AMERICA HAD NO CHOICE TO MAKE!!!

Why? Because of gerrymandering/redistricting. Let me give you the basics.

Each state has is split up into a number of districts equal to the number of seats they have in the US House of Representatives. The state legislature (with their own senators and representatives) basically have control of where the lines are drawn for each district. From time to time, when one party has a significant power advantage over the other in the state legislature, they attempt to re-write the districts in an effort to give them the best chance at easily KEEPING that power or INCREASING their power in US House of Representatives. Forgive me if I oversimplified.

So...a district that is an even mix of REDheads and BLUEheads gets the line shifted to swing it to a clear majority for the party that is in power at the time. Now, with a district that has a clear majority that votes or is registered Republican, a Democrat might think twice about spending their time running.

Now back to the 99% rate of re-election outside of Texas. Maybe you're wondering, "is Texas so much more enlightened than the rest of the country?" Sadly, I wish I could say that was true.

Think back to over a year ago when you saw reports on the news about Democrats from the state legislature of Texas having left the state of Texas to avoid a vote for redistricting. The Republicans in power were endeavoring to gerrymander their way to a shift of power for their party in the US House of Representatives. They wanted to redraw their districts to give Republican challengers a much better Republican base for their attempts to bounce the Democrat incumbents.

And it worked.

Republicans took three out of the five seats they had aimed for. Power to the people? If, by the people, you mean a group of wealthy land owners (be they Republican or Democrat), then sure...that is what it is.

We don't elect people to spend time changing districts in an effort to be able to retain their job or get their cronies a job. We elect people to represent us. Isn't it bad enough that the people who are supposed to SERVE & LEAD spend more time trying to insure they get re-elected than trying to see to the rights and welfare of their people?

I urge all of you who read this to contact your representative in their state legislature and make sure they know that you don't want them wasting taxpayer dollars spending time on redistricting. It doesn't matter if they're doing it for your team or against it; it is counterproductive to a free, democratic and representative government.

There is no legitimate need that can only be served by re-districting that outweighs the potential voter disenfranshisement that can occur due to gerrymandering.

While you're at it, make your feelings known here by commenting on this or any other post. I look forward to getting to see where your thoughts are on these and other subjects. Don't hesitate to e-mail me, as well.

Technology is Beautiful

The "They Can Put a Man On the Moon But They Can't _______" Argument

Pardon me for just wanting to take a moment to share with you how much I hate the internet sometimes.

I just wrote a post in the Blogger tool that was lost because, upon attempting to upload, I received a 500 error. When I hit back, the title to my post was all that remained...the body had been lost forever.

I've had this happen when composing e-mail in Yahoo. Either it will decide this moment is the best time for me to have to renew my login or some combination of their site and my connection have a hiccup...and my "War & Peace" length correspondence is lost in a pothole along the information superhighway.

All I can say right now is that Bill Gates should hope I never wind up on the jury in a case against him or Microsoft for even the smallest offense...

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Yasser Arafat Has Passed Away

Muslim to muslim, I pray for Allah to forgive him for his sins and accept him into heaven.

As an American...well...I don't quite know yet how I truly feel about his passing. The next few months will tell us if he was actually the roadblock that some say he was or if he was, in that area, a victim of his leadership position.

Selfishly, I was a little frustrated that it kept me from catching the 12am re-air of COUNTDOWN on MSNBC. It is the only place I can get my vote fraud/recount fix.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bush, Iraq, and Repeating Lies Until They Are True

Speaking of journalists, so many gave Bush an easy 3-4 years in office. Softball questions during any press conference...apparently scared to fall out of favor with a White House administration that you didn't want to anger.

Burn me on this quote...oh, how I know someone will want to burn me on this quote:

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."
by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

But the Bush administration reminds me of the quote based on their:

  • persecution of gays in this country...
  • insistence on repeating the same bad information (defined by most of us as lies) until most of America has been pounded into submission and takes it as factual evidence...
  • harrassing, detaining, and deporting Arab Americans and muslims...
  • abuse of Arabs who were neither terrorists nor enemy combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan (many of the abused were in for common crimes, rather than military fighting, but the prison population wasn't segregated)...
  • shipping American citizens off to GITMO if they are suspected of aiding or participating in terrorist acts, without any semblance of due process...
  • attempts to rig the vote while intimidating African Americans away from the polls...
Someone, please paint me a pretty picture on Iraq...if you can. Day by day, it becomes more of what I have always heard Vietnam to have been: a fruitless exercise littered with the dead bodies of economically-challenged young Americans. This battle for Falluja...mark my words...will not turn the tide in our favor. In fact, I can't think of much of anything that will turn the fight in our favor.

After toppling the Hussein regime, we had a wonderful opportunity to return the country to its citizens. But, of course, we didn't. An overwhelming majority (and I'm not talking about Rove's 51% definition) wanted a theocracy...a government that would be led by the Holy Quran and the people. Perish the thought! We couldn't let that happen. Self-determination and sovereignty? What are these things? No...we forced democracy on them (one, I believe, without an electoral college, I might add).

"Forced democracy" has to be the most oxymoronic phrase I've ever encountered.

The administration's failure to create an effective post-war plan of action for Iraq would certainly seem to make "military intelligence" rank a close second. (Note: I'm directing that at top brass, not at the men and women that are putting their lives on the line every day in Iraq)

We've made every attempt to keep religious leaders from having a fair chance at garnering a position of power. You know...the leaders that most likely helped galvanize the failed attempt to overthrow Saddam previously (one we basically gave Saddam a thumbs up to crush in the 90s). Good thing we didn't let them in...it isn't like they could rally their people or anything.

So...with a country that wasn't theirs under Saddam...and stands a great chance of not being truly theirs under Allawi...they have nothing to lose. Every night that we add to the total of dead Iraqis and foreign combatants, we basically produce a new recruitment video.

To put it in terms that any fan of bad 80's movies can understand: this is the Iraqi version of "RED DAWN"...except with porous borders that allow the Iraqi rebels to replenish the numbers of the resistance early and often. They're, also, much more effective than Patrick Swayze and C. Thomas Howell.

This can only end badly, folks...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Where Is the Moral Outrage?

Growing up, I recall a great moral outcry against South Africa for the crimes against my darker skinned brothers and sisters. Boycotts against companies that did business with or in South Africa based on their practice of apartheid. Where is the outrage regarding the forced labor camps in China? The human rights abuses against people who create products for many corporations. Go around your house...check a few things for the label of where it was made. From phones and speakers to Phat Farm clothing and virtually anything sold in Wal-Mart (a company that (I only say with tongue half in cheek) is ushering in hell on Earth)...they are being made by workers who are threatened with death if they refuse to produce.

Speaking of a lack of moral outrage...how about the treatment of the Palestinian people? Oh...we all hear how groups commit acts of terrorism against Israel in the name of defending Palestine. Why was so little media attention given to the display of words and photographs from past Israeli soldiers who can no longer stand idly by letting the discussion be so lopsided...no longer stomach holding on to information regarding the atrocities that go on daily.

Somehow...it appears as long as the reason behind the human rights abuses aren't based mostly on a difference in skin color between the two groups, it isn't newsworthy. That isn't to criticize the efforts against South Africa. It is to criticize the current crop of journalists that seem all to content to only focus on news and angles that sell papers and magazines or drive ratings points.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Definition of a Huxford

Well…at least this one…

It dawned on me that writing a bit about my fondness for my father and his small, yet important role in helping the worker might not really tell enough about who I am.

I was born to two Irish Catholic parents, but I am a muslim and was born a muslim. A muslim, by definition, is one who submits to the Will of God. Being ushered into this world is an act of submission to God. We’re all born in submission to God…draw your own inferences…

I have had two moments in my life where I uttered “the N word”. My first was in 1st grade (involve the “ger” version) when I had no idea that it was a bad word; a stone cold death stare across the dinner table from my father quickly brought me out of ignorance. The second occurred while I was a high school sophomore (involving the “gga” version) having a discussion with my older, black art class friends about who our favorite rappers were. Everyone going around the table saying things such as, “LL Cool J…that’s my n….” was quickly brought to a screeching halt by my similarly saying, “Rakim…that’s my n….”. There was a pregnant pause while everyone digested what I said, saw the look on my face, and realized that it was an honest mistake that wouldn’t be repeated. Sorry…no Dave Chappelle punchline involving one of my friends saying, “I hated to do it, but he was talking about my people!”

I was raised in a Democrat home. I consider myself independent these days, but…all things being equal…I’ll vote for the Democrat. I rather vote for the party that at least gives lip service and promises to the working man, rather than the party that pisses on him and calls it “trickle down economics.”

I’m a lover of movies; I’ll often head to see a new movie in the theater straight from work or catch one before work with just enough time left to make it to work under the wire (the luxury of working a 2pm-10pm shift). I believe parents, not the government, have to take a more active role in policing what their children see. If big business and Republicans weren’t holding down the wages of good, hardworking Americans, more parents would have so much time and energy to spend looking out for their kids that they’d laugh off Congress’s attempts to legislate morals on motion pictures and video games.

I believe that baseball should do away with the designated hitter, but it will never happen. I feel that home field for the World Series should not be decided by a midseason exhibition game. Sorry…not a huge baseball fan, but felt I had to throw that in there since I live in such close proximity to a NY Met Triple A team.

I feel outraged that the president of Mexico has the audacity to attempt to dictate to us that we give illegal immigrants full rights of citizenship. Excuse me, but when did Merriam-Webster change the definition of ILLEGAL? No one…not the president of Mexico or the president we unfortunately have…should award any sort of rights or luxuries to people who come into this country illegally, work illegally, and regularly have to use illegally obtained documents to get by. If you all of a sudden feel we need to have this influx of workers, then make the LEGAL immigration process less of a nightmare. Don’t try to sell me some bull that it is all about the American dream when President Bush is interested in supplying cheap labor to his corporate donors and Vicente Fox is interested in some of that illegally earned US green making its way back down into the Mexican economy. You can, also, stuff that “no one else will take the job” argument: if we didn’t have a steady stream of illegal immigrant workers, employers would be forced to pay a wage that would attract workers. It is all supply and demand…with the “wink wink, nudge nudge” system currently keeping the supply of cheap workers artificially inflated.

Screw Kerry for backing off of it: outsourcing CEOs are very much the Benedict Arnolds that they’ve been accused of being. Let’s see:

  1. Outsourcing the locations of their corporate offices to tax shelter countries like Bermuda (hello, Accenture).
  2. Outsourcing work to Banglore, India, to pay people $20-30k/year to do a job that only a few years ago was paying $80-120k/year to Americans, with profit margins rising, unemployment rising, and more American dollars circulating in someone else’s economy.
  3. Outsourcing manufacturing to Chinese forced labor camps where good, God-fearing people are made to work at fear of death. In the best Chinese manufacturing, the workers are treated in ways that would get bosses life in prison if it happened here. Where’s the human rights abuse outrage daily from the Democrats? Where’s the “better dead than Red” outrage from Republicans that China is making a mint off of America while being able to artificially manipulate their markets to put us at a constant disadvantage?

One of my maternal ancestors was on the boat with George Washington when he crossed the Delaware River to bring the fight to the shores of New Jersey. Just thought I'd add that out of left field.

I’m a wordy SOJ, ain’t I? All this and I’m sure I haven’t touched on half the stuff I need to. I guess that’s why these blogs allow you to add and add and add and add….

Moral Issues Dividing Our Nation

Politicians Only Make It Worse

God Bless America. It is a phrase that you hear often, but I don’t think many of us really take time to think long and hard about it. For a country that is supposed to have a separation of church and state, there certainly are a lot of times where we invoke God’s blessings.

That’s as far as I got before choosing to check out
http://www.andrewsullivan.com based on the fierce words he had for the host on REALTIME WITH BILL MAHER. After reading some of his work and still being moved by his words on REALTIME, I chose to write him an e-mail. I wound up writing a column instead. Since etiquette doesn’t forbid me from simply posting it here, I’ll do just that:


I don't always agree with what you say. I'm often too flabberghasted by seeing a gay man so forthrightly Republican that it might be hard to pay enough attention to what you're actually saying. For anything I may have missed, I apologize.

On Friday's show, though, you made all the sense in the world to me.

I have a genuine appreciation for Bill Maher's sense of humor and passion for all things politics. But his dismissal and hatred of faith borders on obscene. He seems to have a mad-on for people who have faith; and not just organized religion or those that try to force their faith on others. His criticism of Bush for seeming to be rushing to welcome the Day of Judgment is understandable (as in to say, it is fair to criticize a President for not focusing on ensuring another century or more of our country's existence). But to label the rest of America that has faith in a higher power as fools and idiots (and that is, to be sure, his least damning sentiments), is beyond the pale.

I'll be painfully honest with you: I'm anti-abortion and believe that homosexuality is a choice...and a sinful choice, at that. I love my God (I happen to call him Allah) more than my country...but the two are very close (sometimes closer than I'm comfortable with). We live in a democratic republic...and as long as we have some form of democracy (limited though it may be), we have to protect the rights of those that we disagree with. I believe it is called, "majority rules with minority rights," or something like that.

I am dead set against abortion. I would never suggest someone have it performed (except in the cases of incest, rape, and the mortal danger of the mother in giving birth). But...we live in a country where everyone should pretty much have the right to live their life how they choose, as long as they do not trespass on the rights of others in the process. Why should we even try?

This country has made it painfully obvious that you can't effectively legislate morality on to the lives of its citizens when it comes to things that happen behind closed doors. Abortions occurred before they were legal...but people were scared and ignorant...often paying for their ignorance with their lives. Sodomy has gone on despite laws having been on the books in most of America...and continuing to be on the books now in more of America than I'm comfortable with.

I think there are too many people that love God, but don't truly love their country. Oh...they think they do...but they're just infatuated with it. They love this land for what they see on the surface: prosperity, freedoms, rights, and a land where your dreams can actually come true (often, unfortunately, on a reality show).

But they don't try to dig deeper and really get to know their country. If they did, they'd realize America likes freedom for all, thinks we shouldn't pass judgment on what others do in their "pursuit of happiness", and is really tired of people using her. She's tired of being walked all over by people who want to take what they need but rarely give anything back in return: draft dodgers (sorry, Clinton), trust fund babies (sorry, Bush), or (in this case) taking for granted that you might be a member of the Anglican church (or dead in a ditch somewhere) for practicing your faith, if not for her (sorry, many members of the religious right).

Before I make this even wordier (while knowing you get a lot of mail), I'll sum it up:

  • I hope that those who find morals to be an important issue for America spend more time leading by example, rather than trying to legislate it.
  • I hope that more people hate the sin but love the sinner.
  • I hope that Americans spend more time trying to find common ground, rather than picking up on the things we disagree on.
  • Most importantly, I hope that more Americans realize how futile it is to attempt to legislate on these "wedge issues"...and wake up to the fact that they were used to distract them from the issues that can really be effected politically: government, taxes, wages, wars, security, economy, etc.
The person that can really show Americans the light on this will have my undying gratitude. We need to be less RED and BLUE and more red, white, and blue. Tired as it has become to say, we need to unite.

Thanks for listening, Andrew...and thanks more for talking. Get it into the REDheads and BLUEheads not to ridicule each other and increase the divide.

Kevin Huxford”

That’s all for now. Hope to have more soon.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Son of James William Huxford

Hoping I Don't Fall Far From the Tree

A very wise & dear friend of mine suggested that it may have been a good idea to present a little background about myself before jumping head first into the deep waters of “blogging”. Being such a logical request, I guess I’ll try to do just that. At this point of my life, the best intro to who I am is to tell you about my dad.

My name is Kevin Huxford. I’m the twenty-nine year old son of James William & Margaret Ann Huxford. I grew up in a working class family. I spent the first twenty or so years of my life in Rahway, NJ, a town mostly known for Rahway State Prison…the place that SCARED STRAIGHT was filmed. Ironically, the prison is actually located in Avenel, NJ (a more affluent town that has successfully avoided being identified with the prison even still (renamed to East Jersey State Prison)).

My father (may he rest in peace) was a Teamster truck driver for all of my young life. But that doesn’t fully tell you who my father was. Unfortunate events in his teen years made it necessary for him to drop out of high school to help support his family. He later obtained his equivalency diploma and served in the Air Force, having the luck to serve shortly after the Korean War and completing his service before Vietnam. He was, for the most part, a private man that didn’t spend a lot of time telling you the stories of his past. Instead, he showed you what he was about: he was a get-in-your-face, get-off-your-butt, hardworking provider who would give the shirt off his back to any family member who needed (even if he seemed to hate you intensely).

What he worked hardest at was being a construction truck driver and dues paying union brother. And he was honest about it. When my brother lucked his way into a summer job at one of the sites my dad frequented, my father’s friends figured they’d give my brother an easy time of things: he’d be one of the shameful union workers who gets to clock in, do nothing, and collect a check. My father would have none of that and, much to my brother’s chagrin, his son was given the regular load of work the rest of the summer (sorry, JR).

When my father was laid off during the recession under the 1st President Bush, he became a regular at every union meeting. He became a thorn in the side of the piss-poor union leadership in power at the time. Fortune smiled upon my father, as this truck drive with a GED was noticed for his outspokenness by the government. It seems that the local union had been engaged in some manner of shady dealings, forcing the government to step in, replace the leadership, and put the local under its watchful eye for a few years before allowing them to go back to independence. My father was one of those lucky few chosen to lead as a union business agent.

Much of the years that would follow, sadly, are not really known to me. No human is perfect and, by extrapolation, no human relationships can be perfect; I had a falling out with my father that lasted until a few months after September 11th, 2001. Unfortunately, it was only about a year later (December 2002) that my father was diagnosed with cancer. He worked through his chemotherapy and retired (as previously planned) in August 2003. Unfortunately, he left this world on November 13th, 2003.

In the coming posts, you’ll see me defend the place of unions in just about every workplace. Readers might call me out for being a little idealistic regarding unions. You might think it is just because I believe my father was a great man attempting to perform great works. Personally, I think it is because the union is nothing but a democratic organization that is for its people more than any other. Any argument you can make against a union can be made against any democratic organization, but I doubt that you’d argue vociferously against democracy.

PROUD Son of James William Huxford, who fought for the working man daily while battling cancer
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