Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Out with the old!

Shame on you Barack!

I was trying to reserve judgement on your cabinet picks until you were actually President but now I am so repulsed by what you are doing that I can't stand it.  Robert Gates represents the the Bush Administration and the policies of President Bush's failed wars.  We need new leadership in the White House and in the Pentagon.  Get rid of Robert Gates and bring someone new in, someone who isn't tainted by the policies that were maintained after Rumsfeld was shown the door, and someone who hasn't been supporting policies that CANNOT work in the long term.

What am I talking about?  Isn't the surge a success?  NO!  The relative peace that exists in Iraq today is due to the gratuitous cash payments that are being made to the militias.  In effect, we are paying people not to fight us.  These cash payments are part of the giant cost of the Iraq occupation and need to be stopped, but once they are the violence will resume and the supposed gains of the surge will be wiped out.  

Get rid of Robert Gates!  Shame on you Barack!

And fuck you Joe Lieberman and the spineless democrats who voted to keep him!

Spam: Survival of the fittest

After reading about the recent lawsuit in which Facebook won a $873 MILLION verdict against Canadian spammer Adam Guerbuez (read about it here) it made me think about what a Malthusian challenge spam has created for our society. To date I have received dozens, if not hundreds of spam messages telling me that my Amazon account is blocked, or my credit card was used in a foreign country, or a friendly member of the Nigerian royal family wants to cut me in on a good business deal and never have any of these resulted in me divulging any information that would allow an online account to be hijacked, my money stolen, or my identity assumed by the spammers. And why have I been so fortunate as to survive these assaults that claim millions of people every year? I think the two best explanations are that I am not "click happy" and I have am sufficiently proficient in English grammar and spelling.

My best guess is that over 95% of the spam/phishing/scam emails I receive are filled with terrible spelling and grammar that looks like someone threw a Chinese sentence into babblefish (does anyone still use that?) and translated it into 4-5 other languages before finally translating the last results into English. Those emails are also dreadfully inpersonal, typically addressed to "user" or "customer." From working in IT I know that businesses and organizations spend a shit-ton (that's a lot) of money to make their mass emails seem personalized. They also spend a good deal of money to hide user information in their mailings so if you receive something that's addressing something as serious as credit card or bank accounts, and you can see 30-40 email addresses in the CC: box, then you know that's fake too.

Ultimately, those who are not suceptible to these kinds of fraudulent attempts will continue to hold onto their identities and accounts while those who aren't will continue to be fleeced. I guess in a way that's the natural order of things and I imagine the same people who are being conned and hoodwinked today are probably similar to those that were tricked by the snake-oil salesmen of the past.

So while this Facebook lawsuit might deter some from scamming, it's going to keep happening so long as the "n00bs" out there keep clicking on links and giving away their account passwords, or opening the emails that say "Dude...you gotta sea this!!!!***!!!!"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Turkey Day

As we ramp up for Turkey Day I jut wanted to share this little blast from the past. It came to mind when a friend of mine texted me about a "pilgrims and Indians" party she was hosting. While that might seem like a good time and just some light fun, it is also a sad reminder of our own historical past. Just as Prince Harry was chastised both for attending a "Colonizers and colonized" party and for wearing a South African military uniform (which looked a little too much like those of Nazi Germany), "pilgrims and Indians" should be no less offensive as a theme.
As poor little warpath here demonstrates, the mythology of Thanksgiving has completely overtaken the history that accompanies the birth of this country.

On that note, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

California Wildfires


Watching all the news coverage of the efforts by the bankrupt state of California battling wild fires only leads me to one conclusion.  People should not be living in those mountainous regions that are prone to wild fires.  If they do choose to live there they should be responsible for footing any and all bills related to fighting the fire and should not be elligible for any federal disaster money.  If I build my home on a sandbar and the tide comes in I shouldn't get federal money to rebuild my home on that sandbar.

How does Jane and Isabelle's marriage affect yours?

With the renewed discussions about gay marriage in the national spotlight I find myself posing this question more and more: how does the marriage between 2 women or 2 men affect you and your marriage?  While I've heard a lot of bull shit in response to that question I thought I'd throw down the most common responses along with my evisceration of those reasons.

1.  It diminishes the meaning of marriage and therefore is an attack on my marriage:
Really?  Does your neighbor's divorce diminish your marriage?  Does your co-worker's infidelity diminish your marriage?  If an other's divorce or infidelity negatively impact your marriage are you for a constitutional ban on divorce?  Or criminalizing adultery?  My guess is you are not and so your stance against gay marriage is not only hypocritical but misplaced.  By including same-sex couples into the realm the marriage you add proponents for policies and issues that defend and support marriage, be they tax policies or public education for your children.  Ultimately the more people who marry the stronger the institution of marriage becomes.

2.  I don't want my children to go to school with the children of gay couples because it will teach them that there's nothing wrong with being gay:
This is one of the last forms of acceptable discrimination in our country.  I'm not saying that other forms of discrimination do not exist but most attacks on other groups (based on race or religion) are met with strong opposition in the public.  This line of argument points to a problem in your own life and your discomfort with gays and lesbians.  Most of the data show that younger generations are more comfortable with gays than their parents and grandparents, so chances are your children will encounter homosexuality during their time in school and be OK with it.  The easiest response to this argument is that there was a time not too long ago when the same arguments were made against integrating schools.  Complaints from (mostly) white parents who did not want their children in school with "Negroes" was the driving force behind maintaining segragation as long as it lasted.  Luckily we have, for the most part, agreed that this reasoning was bigoted and wrong and hopefully we will view the issues of homosexuality through a similar lens in the years to come.

3.  My religion/church/spaghetti monster tells me that a marriage should be between one man and one woman:
For starters, let's remember that most major religions were founded over a thousand years ago and that they also contained passages like the following: "Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death."  So the next time you want to use the bible or some other holy book as a defense for your discriminatory policies towards gays remember that there's a lot of rules and decrees found in any religious text and if you aren't following every single one of them who are you to judge someone who is breaking one of them?

4.  Studies show that children do better when raised by one man and one woman:
This study, which is often brought up by groups like "focus on the family" (side note: organizations with the word "family" in them tend to be very bad for families) as a reason to stop gay marriage.  What these studies usually look at is the presence of two parents versus one parent in the home.  I assure you that Rosie O'Donnell's kids or Ellen DeGeneres and Portia deRossi's kids will have a fantastic life and will not have any socio-economic issues despite the absence of a father in the home.

If you have or have heard any other reasons why two men or two women should not be wed please let me know.  I'm sure we can debunk them as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The real Barack Obama

To all of you who are pretending to be so shocked that Obama is shaping up to be a rather moderate President and not the rabid leftist pinko-commie Trotskyite that Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly told you he would be all I can say is, you're a moron. If you actually "drank the koolaid", as Bill is so fond of saying, and believed that President-elect Obama was a Socialist then you obviously don't know what a Socialist is. And at the same time, if you are now shocked because you had hoped he would be a radical leftist then you too are a moron.

Barack Obama is, above all else, politician. Granted, he is a phenomenally better politician than George Bush, John McCain, Sarah Palin or Joe Biden, but he's still a politician. I believe he will make some great changes (or try to) for this country, and I believe that we as a nation will benefit from greater respect abroad, but he's still going to try and keep most of the country happy (or at least not angry).

He's not going to take your guns, he's not going to force you to abort your baby, he's not going to burn your church to the ground, and he certainly isn't going to get every last American soldier out of Iraq and Afghanistan in the next 4 years. These are the compromises that exist in American politics and we should be grown up enough by now to recognize them. Americans need to stop taking what they hear on the campaign trail as the gospel and start viewing it for what it is...campaigning.

At the end of the campaign Republicans were without a message so they ran ads calling Obama a risky radical. Not because they believed he was, but because they believed that would stop people from voting for him. Likewise, the Democrats pushed the notion that McCain was the same as Bush, not because they really believed it, but because they thought it would resonate with the anger people had towards this administration and be good for their candidate. If you want to be disappointed, fine. If you feel disgusted by it, fine. But it's just how the game is played.

The most important thing isn't getting someone elected but making them do right by you once they are in office. President-elect Obama has vowed to make his administration one of the most open and transparent administrations in American history. Good! Use that! Go to the websites, send emails, make phone calls and not just to his organization but to your local elected officials: your Congressman/woman, your Senators, your Governor, your state assemblyman/woman and your city councilman/woman. If you sit around with your thumb up your butt don't be surprised when nothing happens because despite what anyone says on the campaign trail, they are influenced by the voices that keep talking after the voting is done.

WTF Black Californians?

Preface: I've been sitting here thinking about how to write this. I feel the need to tread lightly, but then because of that feeling, it seems more important than ever to take off the gloves.

First off, let me say I'm sorry to the 3/10 of black voters in California who went to the polls and voted down Proposition 8. I'm sorry that for the past week and probably the next few weeks, you will be included in the many discussions about why a discriminatory ballot measure passed in large part due to the African American vote. Just know that it's not your fault and you voted with your conscience. If there is any fault to lay at your feet it's that you were unable to convey to your neighbors or family that importance of striking down discriminatory legislation even if it doesn't target you specifically.

To the 7 in 10 of your who voted for Proposition 8, I hope that a number of you misread, or didn't read, the ballot. I have always held the belief that for an oppressed group of people to turn around and discriminate against another oppressed minority is one of the most shameful things that can happen. Where was your empathy on November 4th? It was not that long ago that many states had laws banning interracial marriage on the books but people fought it, and some opponents of those laws may not have planned to marry across race but they fought it none-the-less because it was wrong.

Now I'm not going to try and make a case that gays are more discriminated against than Blacks or vice-versa, but I will say that if you believe in fighting for civil rights, AND you believe that your own civil rights still hang in the balance, then you have a moral obligation to support the civil rights of those around you. In my opinion, by not helping those around you gain equal protection under the law you deserve any and all bigotry, oppression or discrimination that befalls you.

For everyone one of you whose faith tells you to oppose gay marriage, remember that somewhere out there someone else's faith tells them to oppose your right to vote, or your right to marry, or your right to marry someone of a different race. Marriage today is a civil institution that carries with it rights and benefits granted by the State, not by god. If you want to close your church's door to gays and lesbians, so be it, but your church should not be in the business of stripping rights from people as it does a great disservice to the struggle so many of you have been involved with in using your faith and your church to fight discrimination.

So please, do not argue that we must take away someone else's rights because Blacks are still discriminated against. Do not argue that we must take away someone else's rights because our church tells us to. Do not argue that we must take away someone else's rights because the case was not made clearly to you. Recognize that whatever your reasoning, you took away some fundamental rights from a minority group and you should be ashamed.

Oh yeah. One more thing. Fuck you Joe Lieberman.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not our candidate but our President

Lately, a lot of McCain backers have gone out there under the guise of reconciliation and healing the nation after an often bitter campaign. Mike Huckabee recently penned a few words about how he will be supporting Barack Obama as President but he quickly sets that thought aside to go after President Bush's critics who "went beyond loyal opposition and engaged in angry, vile and mean-spirited hate." The problem with any comparison is the different manner in which Bush 43 got to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and how Obama 44 will.

The facts are these:

1- Bush 43's photo-finish "victory" was in large part due to the disenfranchisement of numerous minority voters in Florida as well as user error on the part of many Florida voters who cast their ballots for Buchanan.

2- Bush 43 had a tremendous amount of support following 9/11 both from Democrats at home and from leaders abroad. He took this good will and used it to implement his idiotic invasion of Iraq despite the protests of people in this country and throuhout the world to let the inspectors do their job.

With those two issues in mind, it is no wonder that millions of Americans who felt cheated by the 2000 election and then lied to in the lead up to the war would vent that frustration and anger with what Governor Huckabee calls "angry, vile and mean spirited hate." Still, even those that called (or continue to call) for his and Cheney's impeachment do not call him vile names like "terrorist" or try to stoke the flames of xenophobic fears to bring him down, and when they do call him a terrorist they do so because of the monumental civilian deaths he has caused in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan to name a few.

So let us dispense with these false words of healing that begin by saying "I want him to be successful in leading our country," when you really mean to attack those brave Americans who from the beginning recognized the lies about Iraq and WMDs and tried, by whatever means they could muster, to stop American boys and girls from dying for Halliburton's bottom line. Doing everything within your means to stop your fellow citizens from unnecessary death is far more patriotic than anything Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity have ever, or will ever do.

Oh yeah, and FUCK YOU Joe Lieberman!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Poor Sarah

While I am tremendously relieved that Wasilla's Sarah Palin will not be our next Vice President, the recent attacks on this poor little fish (barracuda's are fish right?) out of water have really shown the GOP's true side.  By calling her names like "Wasilla hillbillies" the GOP presidential campaign staffers show their true feelings about so called "wal-mart moms" and those folks that live in the "pro-american" parts of the country.  They may have hidden behind their "Joe the plumbers" and "Lenny the lumberjack" but the true powers behind the would-be GOP administration is more elitist than any of Karl Rove's depictions of President elect Obama.

Move on America, and leave Sarah to her gubernatorial duties.  Stop giving any more attention and coverage to this nearly catastrophic candidate and let's focus on what's ahead.  We need the news media now to focus on the work ahead and how we as a nation can and must provide health care and education to all Americans.

And fuck you Joe Lieberman!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


We've managed to change YES WE CAN into YES WE DID. Fantastic! Celebrate! Spend the next short while enjoying this monumental achievement of the American people...but not for too long. The work begins now! Now we have a chance to really steer our country in the right (not to the right) direction. President elect Obama and the new Democratic Congress will need to validate the trust we have shown in them and we will need to be there to guide their policy decisions.

Now is the time when our voices can be heard and attempts by the Congress to implement progressive policies will not be blocked by veto threats. We need to demand an end to this wasteful health care system that sees Americans spending more per capita than any other industrialized country but covering far fewer of the population. We need to demand an end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to demand increases in funding to our education system and increased assistance for students trying to find a way to afford the skyrocketing college fees and truitions.

YES WE DID! But we must be careful not to bask in the glory too long. YES WE DID! But the work is just beginning. Stay organized, stay informed and stay alert. We've got our eyes on you now Mr. President elect. Do not let us down.

Will a democratic president mean no more political satire?

NO!  Absolutely, unequivically NO!  All these recent blogs and news articles about how it would be difficult for the late night comedians (Stewart, Colbert et al) to make fun of Democrats is stupid.  Think back to the 90s.  They made fun of Clinton all the time.  They currently make fun of Obama, Pelosi and Reid as well.  It's nothing more than stupid thoughtless conjecture and takes the place of real news.  Please stop this nonsense.  The reason the Daily Show succeeds and the "Half Hour News Hour" (Foxnews' attempt at late night comedy) flopped so stupendously is because the Daily Show makes fun of everyone and the HHNH only made jokes about Democrats.  They are skilled comedians and the day to day business of government is always going to contain the c-span clips that provide comedy.  Just in case your mom was doing crystal meth when she was pregnant with you and you were going to cast a vote based on how funny Jon Stewart would be for the next 4 years, don't worry, he will be hilarious regardless, but President McCain will make puppies cry.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Catholics and Politics

I was watching c-span today and I caught a video broadcast of a Denver radio show called Calpis and Silverman.  It's a small radio show gets to be on c-span once a year (or so I understood from the clip I watched).  It fit the genre like so many other bi-partisan shows these days with one host on the far right and other to the right of center, it's an interesting sea saw with one guy on the end and another in the middle (leaning to the right).

Calpis was going on and on about what a radical Obama is and what radical Jeremiah Wright is but what really "ground my gears" (thanks Peter Griffin) was the focus of Calpis' abortion debate.  He talked about Bishop Chaput who has echoed the same nasty rhetoric that we heard back in 2004, that Catholics that support abortion rights or vote for a candidate that does should not be eligible for communion.  While I personally think that Catholicism is shit and that Priests are either child molesters, child molesters that haven't been caught yet, or secretely having sex with parishiners, this idea that if you disagree with the current teachings of the Catholic church you cannot be a Catholic would only make sense if the Catholic church had always been on the right side of history.  Even if they don't believe in evolution, I would turn Calpis and Silverman's audience to the flat earth/round earth debate.  If that was going on today, and the pope with his infallible words was proclaiming that the earth was flat and to think otherwise was heresy, why should that invalidate a person's belief that Jesus was the son of god and through loving him you can attain eternal salvation?

I'm sorry if it seems I'm picking on Catholics.  To be honest I think that all religions are a farce but if you want to believe in spaghetti monsters, your political views should not prevent you from doing so.

NON POLITICAL - Television Comment

I just saw a preview for the upcoming episode of "Heroes" and I just have  to vent my disgust at what I call "filler episodes."  If you have a show and there's a very engaging story arc DO NOT INTERRUPT IT for some mundane flashback kind of episode where you can reveal some things about your characters that you hadn't thought of in the first 2 seasons of your show.  All the shows do it and I don't understand why other than an excuse to let the writer's illiterate nephews and nieces write  an episode of their favorite show.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Letting the fox run the henhouse

If someone believes that government cannot work, don't put them in charge of running the government.  These "small government" acolytes hold near and dear to themselves the belief that no government can function and that we should privatize nearly every service in this country.  If you elect someone who thinks that the government shouldn't run the schools, expect your schools to fail.  If you elect someone who thinks that we should privatize social security, expect social security to fail.  If someone believes that the  government cannot manage health care, then expect to see more failures in medicare, medicaid and the VA system.

Don't let foxes run the henhouses!
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