Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

News items 9/28/2004 

A first-hand report from a journalist patrolling in Baghdad with 1st Cavalry soldiers ran on the front page of today's Washington Post. A few Iraqi National Guard members were patrolling with them in a Nissan pickup truck,

Without warning, an orange fireball engulfed the area, followed by a deafening explosion and then gray smoke that blotted out the sun. When it cleared, the Nissan and the Iraqis inside it were riddled with marble-size ball bearings that had sprayed from a roadside bomb.

"They're dead! All of them are dead!" shouted an American soldier who had rushed to the vehicle.

The article details the gruesome attack - this month 100 such attacks have happened in Sadr City alone. An account of what the corpses of guardsmen looked like struck me differently than pictures from the invasion and war do - the narrative made me think about what it may have been like to have been there. I've been seeing pictures from the war long enough to be desensitized to most of the immediacy a photo brings. I wonder if I'd be more or less numb if I had a TV.

Stateside, since 9/11, we've accumulated a backlog of "hundreds of thousands of hours of wiretap recordings" from counterterrosism investigations, the aim of which in part is to prevent orange fireballs from engulfing areas, followed by deafening explosions, then gray smoke blotting out the sun. We still don't have enough translators. They're all in Iraq, trying to prevent orange fireballs from an insurgency George Bush's invasion and handling of the occupation made possible.

Also stateside, Rep. Diana DeGette is calling for an investigation into allegations that soldiers have been given a choice to re-enlist for service until 2007 or finish out their current enlistment in units in Iraq or Korea. There is no question that the invasion of Iraq has made us less safe on count of an insufficient number of soldiers and translators.

Another study is out showing employees' costs for health insurance are becoming dangerously expensive. The study by Families USA found that health insurance costs have risen 36 percent since 2000, three times the rate earnings have increased. I did a study of my own a month or two ago - I looked up how much my premium for my individual plan was in 1999 and compared it to what I pay now for the same plan - which now covers less. The result: an 80% increase. My study was prompted by shock to find that my copay for prescriptions increased 100% in a single month.

Oil prices continue to skyrocket as well, having increased 75% in the past year. Some have noted sharp increases in the price of oil have preceded the defeat of incumbent presidents: Ford in 1976, Carter in 1980, Bush in 1992.

An article in Salon describes a recent study of the stock market and incumbent presidents. The study found that since 1950, if stock markets are down in the April of an election year, the chances of the incumbent president being defeated are 5 out of six.

The study by Jeffrey A. Hirsch of the Stock Trader's Almanac written of in Salon did find something unquestionably significant. Since 1833, the stock market,

I take little stock in applying these types of predictions and observations to an election where people are basing their vote on the idea that either George W. Bush is the Antichrist or John Kerry likes the wrong kind of cheese. Bush likes the wrong kind of cheeses too, but he also lies about it, so on balance, Kerry has the clear advantage on the Antichrist and right kind of cheese fronts.

Undaunted by reality, the Iowa GOP mailed out a brochure touting their candidate for a state Senate seat, Ron Longmuir. The brochure boasts of his voting record in the Iowa Senate on educational issues. Problem is that Longmuir has never served in the legislature.

To his credit, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell accepted his panel's recommendation that Ralph Nader not appear on the November 2 ballot due to many of the signatures on the petition for inclusion being forged. He's being consistent: If someone doesn't want to vote for Bush, their signature deserves scrutiny.

I've been intending to put together a map/list of states where Nader is on/off the ballot and/or there are heterosexual superiority ballot initiatives - which could turn out the vote for anti-gay bigots who will vote for the presidential candidate who thinks heterosexuals deserve more rights due to their intrinsic superiority. There is also at least one state which has a ballot measure which may help turning out the vote for Kerry - the citizens of Alabama will on November 2 vote wether to repeal portions of their Constitution requiring school segregation and a poll tax.

No updates to the 10 polls I'm tracking today, but bucking the trend, a new Pew Poll shows a significant gain for Bush to leading Kerry 48 percent to 40 percent, while a new Investors Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor poll shows Kerry leading Bush by one point, 46 to 45.

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