October 31, 2004

It's Still a Good Football Weekend...

Even if my teams lose, the weekend can be salvaged by a huge Miami upset.

Posted by wasylik at 04:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stop Voting for Evil

More bloggers come out with their preferences:

Of these, McCardle's postion seems to be the most deeply thought out. At least the most deeply explained. But even she goes with the general trend. Each one is voting for the lesser evil.

I was chatting with a friend the other day about this same thing. If you vote for a lesser evil, you're still voting for evil. And the parties will continue to give us what we vote for, rather than avoid what we vote against. That's an integral feature of the primary system.

Stop voting for evil and the parties will stop delivering it to us on the ballot.

I'm not adovcating that you don't vote. I'm advocating that you vote for someone you can support and truly want to lead the country. In many cases, this means third-party or write-in votes.

As a thought exercise, imagine what would happen if every voter picked someone positive and voted, write-in or otherwise, for that person. How many electoral votes would Howard Dean get? How many for McCain, Giuliani, Nader, or even Badnarik?

Answer: enough to make the party etablishment have to change their shorts.

It's no great stretch to imagine Vermont, Arizona, New York, and even California going for someone other than the major party nominees. Florida? Your guess is as good as mine. And even small states could no longer be considered safe for eith party. They would have to work to generate a broad-based, postitive appeal rahter than focus their efforts on a "better than THAT guy" message.

Presidents might actually have to lead.

The aternative is the status quo - every four years we have to pick the lesser evil, and every four years the choices get marginally worse. Those who are holding their noses to vote for Bush or Kerry to prevent a win by the other - that's a vote for the status quo. (Don't misunderstand - if you actually think either of these guys would make a good President for the next four years, punch that chad!)

If we all stop voting for evil, sooner or later, evil will stop showing up on the ballot.

Posted by wasylik at 09:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 30, 2004

Osama Falls Back?

Wizbang and others think the recent tape from Osama Bin Laden signals a retreat from a formerly aggressive position, to one of "leave us alone and we'll leave you alone."

This certainly suggests that the actions we have taken so far have been highly effective against Al Quaida and its ilk. It further suggests that we cannot now let up on them, while our boots are on their throats. They started this fight, and there's only one way to end it.

Posted by wasylik at 06:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Care and Maintenance of the Garbage Disposal

Alternative title:

What To Do When the Missus Dumps a Load of Squash Parts Where They Don't Belong

Because I was too damned dumb to write this down last time this happened.

  1. Cut power to disposal (breaker no. 16 downstairs)*
  2. Place bucket under disposal to catch drainage**
  3. Use flathead screwdriver to remove flexible white dishwasher hose
  4. Drain dishwasher hose into bucket -- lower and extend for max drainage***
  5. Hand-loosen connections to black PVC pipe at back of disposal+
  6. Hand-loosen connections to white PVC pipe including trap
  7. Remove pipes, catching drainage in bucket++
  8. Unmount disposal by loosening metal collar+++
  9. Use spoon or scoop to remove any blockage inside disposal!
  10. Remount disposal
  11. Reconnect PVC pipes
  12. Reconnect flexible hose
  13. Restore power!!
  14. Check drainage in all connections!!!

*. And write it down this time, instead of darkening every room in the house because the breakers have been mislabeled since the electricians rewired the house two years ago

**. Instead of letting it run all over the inside of the cabinet, all over the floor, and down the stairs to the basement. Do NOT let the dog eat food remnants.

***. If you drop it on the floor instead of in the bucket, the resulting siphon effect will once again irrigate the stairs because the dishwasher is completely flooded due to the clog.

+. Instead of "loosening" it by trying to remove the disposal with the pipes still attached.

++. And clear out all the squash from that little bottleneck in the pipe. Because this is where the problem is. It's not inside the disposal itself, and for god's sake, why are you messing with the electrical connection again? Didn't you learn your lesson last time?

+++. Don't twist it from the base, especially if you forgot to disconnect the pipes. That will seriously mess shit up.

!. Don't use your fingers. Those are blades, dummy.

!!. You DID remember to cut it off in step 1, right? Water and electricity mix like NASCAR and rap music.

!!!. Don't open the dishwasher. Really. Just turn on the rinse cycle and it will eventually drain without getting the basement stairs involved.

Posted by wasylik at 10:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 29, 2004

Electoral Fear

I find myself more fearful every day about this election. The more I read and learn, the more afraid I am that this President will be re-elected.

That fear pales in the face of the absolute terror I have at the thought of a Kerry victory.

I pray the republic can survive the next four years under either of these men.

Posted by wasylik at 12:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 28, 2004

Where Are the Jailed Spammers?

Last May, the FBI told a U.S. Senate committee that it was gathering evidence against criminal spammers under the CAN-SPAM act.

So... where are all the jailed spammers?

Posted by wasylik at 10:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 27, 2004

Margin of Error

Election officials in Broward County, Florida, have lost almost 60,000 absentee ballots they claim were mailed out weeks ago. Local election officials have blamed the post office for the loss.

Dr. Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor of Elections for Broward County, is running unopposed in the general election after racking up a solid victory in the Democratic primary.

Posted by wasylik at 08:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 26, 2004

Debating Badnarik

Radley Balko explains why Badnarik is unacceptable:

Given how close this election is, even if Badnarik does worse than Harry Browne did in 2000, there's a small chance that the LP could draw enough votes in a few states to tilt the outcome one way or the other. Should that happen, both Badnarik and the LP could get more media exposure than the LP's gotten in years. I'm sorry, but I'm just not convinced that either Badnarik or the LP speaking on behalf of libertarianism to a national audience with limited exposure to the ideology would ultimately be good for libertarianism, the philosophy.
This is a guy who gives seminars advocating that the federal income tax is optional, who refuses to use zip codes, who says he'd blow up the UN building "after giving occupants a week to vacate," who has equated FDR to Hitler, and who suggested we chain convicted felons to their beds until their muscles atrophy.

Megan McArdle joins in, not once but twice:

Short answer: because Mr Badnarik is a barking moonbat. He has, if memory serves, been arrested multiple times for driving without a license, because he views getting one as an unwarranted concession to The State. I believe he also has tax protester sympathies. I am not going to encourage the Libertarian Party to nominate more such by voting for this one.

Jim Henley responds, it's not the man, it's the party:

if the Libertarian candidate starts getting more votes it will attract better candidates. Right now the prize is not worth the effort to claim it. That would change with the increase in prestige of a higher vote share. Yes, the LP sucks ass in a thousand ways. But during our quadrennial magic show it's a handy way to signify general preferences.

I disagree with Henley for one very important reason: if I use my vote to endorse libertarian ideals by voting for Badnarik, I am in effect saying that I care more about the label than the substance. A vote for Badnarik says that I am willing to endorse a man who is clearly not qualified for the office, something I refuse to do. Even as a "protest" vote, Badnarik is much worse than my other options for protest - I can cast a write in for someone else (almost anyone else!) or even, as many do, refuse to vote for anyone at all.

I will do my best to figure out who I would view as an acceptable President, not necessarily ideal, but good enough, and cast my vote for that person. Badnarik is not the man.

Henly link via Missy.

Tarpit and Comment-Pay Plug-Ins

Doug Campbell's Spammer Tar Pit and Kitten's Comment-Pay are cute ideas. Possibly impractical, but cute.

Both are for WordPress but could be reasonably modified to work with Movable Type installations.

Posted by wasylik at 04:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 25, 2004

Comments Disabled

Due to a recent flood of comment spam, I disabled comments late last week. Since then, I've had over 300 attempts blocked. Last time, the only thing that stemmed the tide was sending a 403: Forbidden error to comment attempts. So, that's what I'm doing at least until the flood stops. I may not enable comments again for a little while, but like John Kerry, I have a plan.

I'm just not going to tell you.

Posted by wasylik at 03:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Voting by Process of Elimination

Like most people this election cycle, when I consider how I might cast my vote for President of the United States, I think first of those I cannot vote for. This is significant, because voting should ideally be an affirmative act, where each voter embraces a candidate or viewpoint and votes to endorse that candidate or viewpoint.

If our votes were meant to be a statement of negation, our system would look much different. Instead of casting a single vote for the person to hold each elected post, we would get a list of candidates and strike through each one who was unacceptable to us. The candidate who got the least "unacceptable" votes would presumably take office. Such an effect would hard-code pessimism and negativity into our system, and would reframe the political debate into one which is even more poisonous than we have today. Why? Because most people know who the major party candidates are; the obscure ones whose records and views are less known might slip under the radar. But better-funded candidates would have the ability to attack every other candidate, no matter how obscure. Dark horse candidates with fewer resources would lose that battle almost every time. Even so, in times where the major parties have failed to nominate inspiring candidates, the act of "protest voting" would allow third parties a much greater shot at influence than our current first-past-the-post system.

Even worse, the complexity of a negative voting system would make butterfly ballots seems straightforward. (Even Tim Russet gets confused sometimes. In the Florida debate between U.S. Senate candidates Betty Castor and Mel Martinez, Russert asked about a proposed state constitutional amendment which would cap attorney's fees in medical malpractice cases; he mistakenly said it capped damages.)

Fortunately, we have a system of voting for, not against, candidates. But in choosing who to vote for, most of us are deciding who to vote against. I find myself in the same position.

Eliminating Badnarik

I believe in libertarian ideas of government: more personal freedom and lesser governmental burden on every citizen. But I cannot vote for the Libertarian Party candidate, Michael Badnarik, because of stances both he and his party have taken.

Badnarik is not a serious candidate, and two of his personal stances are reasons why. Before securing the nomination (as a third-place long shot going into the convention; the delegates ultimately decided that the two most popular candidates were unacceptable to each other's supporters - another strike against negative voting) Badnarik's website described his views on prison reform. He advocated that prisoners be confined to bed rest and be deprived of exercise to make them more docile. Even law-and-order libertarians ought to recognize that imposing physical and emotional weakness, even on convicts, is a stark conflict with the philosophy of individual respect at the core of libertarian thought. Some may argue that convicted criminals have forfeited the right to that respect; even so, Badnarik's proposal is hardly the well-thought out position of a serious candidate.

Second, Badnarik stated, in a recent speech at American University, that "taxes are theft." That is not a libertarian position, it is an anarchist position. Although taxation in some amounts and in some forms may be immoral, there can be no government if there are no taxes at all. We must somehow pay for those limited functions of government which are both necessary and proper. To claim differently is to abandon the libertarian view entirely. If Badnarik really believes what he said, then he is not a libertarian. If he does not believe it, we cannot trust anything else he says.

The Libertarian Party, by nominating a non-serious candidate, has taken itself out of the running for my vote. Until they nominate a serious candidate (not necessarily one who is likely to win votes, but one who takes the race seriously) I will not vote again for a Libertarian Party presidential candidate.

Furthermore, there is one part of the party's philosophy which I find deeply troubling, and that is its approach to foreign policy. The Party espouses, in effect, an isolationist viewpoint, and their core principle of foreign relations would be "leave us alone and we'll leave you alone." I think this approach is provably false. In today's global society, the United States cannot avoid having global interests. From military alliances to climate change to free trade, the United States must be engaged in almost every corner in the planet. Our interests in those engagements will almost always create friction with somebody, often somebody with the power to inflict great harm on us unless we prevent it. To pretend that we can protect ourselves by withdrawing is folly. Because our national defense is probably the most important issue in this election, and because the Libertarian Party is so wrong on it, I cannot vote for Badnarik or his party in this presidential race.

Eliminating Kerry

This one was an easy decision. Substantively, Kerry is incoherent and advocates inconsistent positions not just over time, but even in the course of a single debate. There is almost no issue in which anyone could say with certainty what a Kerry administration would do. The few things I am confident he would do, I disagree with. The few things I agree with, I doubt he would actually do.

On the most important front, foreign policy, Kerry is a disaster. Three examples highlight this. First, his plan for Iraq is to persuade our allies to take larger shares of the burden of nation building. Those allies, especially France and Germany, have already rejected the Kerry plan. Kerry's Iraq plan is literally a non-starter. Second, Kerry's plan for North Korea is to exclude our allies from the disarmament talks. There is no principled reason for this except it allows Kerry to act differently from Bush. Unfortunately, Kerry's plan is a return to the approach of the Clinton administration which left us in this mess in the first place. Third, Kerry amazingly advocates delivery of nuclear material to Iran. This is a nation that produces about 4 million barrels of oil per day, with proven oil reserves of almost 95 billion barrels. Iran's nuclear power plant at Bushehr, scheduled to go online next year, has 1000 megawatt capacity, or the equivalent of only 40 thousand barrels of oil - just a drop out of Iran's daily production. So what possible need can Iran have for nuclear power, except to enable their development of nuclear weapons?

While some libertarians think that a Kerry administration is the lesser of two evils, I cannot use my vote to endorse a candidate whose administration would rarely, if ever, act in a way I want our government to act. So Kerry is out.

Eliminating Bush

This one is more difficult. There is no shortage of ways in which Bush has let down both conservatives and libertarians. Even those of us who agree that invading Iraq was a proper response to the information we had at the time, as I do, have to recognize that the nation-building effort has failed in many ways. I agree with the core philosophy that America must proactively engage in the world in order to accomplish the primary purpose of government: protection of its citizens. But this administration is bungling its handling of the war on terror, despite a good start. We still can't find Bin Laden. The Patriot Act is being used to fight domestic crime instead of terrorism. We're torturing prisoners in Iraq, and not terrorists but petty criminals and car thieves. This administration may be working hard, but it's not working smart, and as a result, we're traveling swiftly down a pavement of good intentions.

As if foreign policy failures weren't enough, Bush has made significant domestic policy errors. He has abandoned free trade when he wanted to pander to swing states like Pennsylvania. He's failed to put a brake on runaway spending, even discounting the need for additional security needs. He's just signed a tax bill that creates countless new tax breaks for niche corporate interests - one that even Treasury Secretary John Snow condemned - instead of focusing on true tax reform. Finally, the Bush administration cannot be described as coming anywhere close to a libertarian philosophy on the role of government in the lives of American citizens. We are clearly less free than we were on September 10, 2001, and those measures that have reduced our freedom have rarely resulted in any appreciable increase in security here at home.

These points only scratch the surface. But when all things are considered, I cannot justify endorsing a second Bush term. Kerry would be much, much worse, but Bush simply isn't good enough for me to support him.

Who's Left?

Nader? Please. Other third party candidates? I don't know of a third party that has a serious candidate espousing views I believe in. I am almost certainly going to have to write someone in. I want someone who's strong on national security without being a proponent of big government or of measures that erode my liberty. I have a couple of ideas, but I'm also open to suggestions. Contact me if you have any.

Posted by wasylik at 02:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 21, 2004

Tampa Tribune Endorses Neither

My hometown paper, which has endorsed every Republican presidential candidate since Eisenhower except in 1964, is picking "none of the above." The Tampa Tribune explains why in its editorial, Why We Cannot Endorse President Bush For Re-Election

we are unable to endorse President Bush for re- election because of his mishandling of the war in Iraq, his record deficit spending, his assault on open government and his failed promise to be a "uniter not a divider'' within the United States and the world.
Neither can we endorse Sen. Kerry, whose undistinguished Senate record stands at odds with our conservative principles and whose positions on the Iraq war - the central issue in this campaign - have been difficult to distinguish or differentiate.

I have similar conflicts, which I will expound upon in more detail later.

Link via, of all places, William Gibson.

Posted by wasylik at 04:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2004

Chafee May Vote Write-In

Now there's a novel idea - cast a write-in vote for a Republican other than Bush.

I must confess that's something I hadn't thought of before Chafee said it. That idea may offer me some relief from the agony of unaccetpable alternatives a couple of Tuesdays hence.

Posted by wasylik at 02:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 19, 2004

The Taming of the 'Do

Senator Edwards shows you what's on his mind - his scalp.

Via Politicalwire.

Posted by wasylik at 10:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 16, 2004

Tech School

Sometimes one just has to take a support tech to school.

Like explaining that "authentication failure" means that a password reset would restore one's DSL service.

And when it does, one should be graceful and gloat only after hanging up the phone.

Posted by wasylik at 10:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 08, 2004

Town Hall Debate

Well, Bush actually showed up for this one, and made it a contest. Kerry, like before, presented weak substance in a convincing fashion. I doubt there's any winner on this one, except in the contest of Bush vs. Expectations.

I like Hugh Hewitt's analysis, but I'm still firmly convinced that both of these men are completely unacceptable to serve the next four years in the White House.

Posted by wasylik at 11:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2004

Boo II

Since it's October, enjoy this return from the dead of last year's Halloween skin.

Posted by wasylik at 11:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Senator, You're No Senator.

Maybe I should have watched:

Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer.I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session.
The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.

Ouch.

Posted by wasylik at 12:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 05, 2004

VP Debates

Although I was very interested in the first round of Presidential debates, for some reason I can't bring myself to watch the VP Debates. I know that both candidates are better spoken than their up-ticket counterparts, and both candidates are more likely to open fire on the other side (making for a livelier debate) but for some reason, I just can't seem to care about the rhetoric of those who would choose to serve as Vice President.

Posted by wasylik at 09:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2004

A Foreign Policy Critique

Donny thinks there is little difference between Bush and Kerry on foreign policy, and takes each one apart line by line.

Posted by wasylik at 03:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Was Anyone Swayed?

Perhaps more important than the question of who "won" the debate, is the question of whether anyone, who wasn't already going to vote a candidate, was persuaded to vote for that candidate?

Time (and the comments) will tell.

UPDATE: Apparently, ABC's instant poll shows that not many votes changed at all.

Posted by wasylik at 12:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack