Your Daily Mindjob
This is my personal blog where I'll offer up some political straight talk as well as thoughts on technology and pop culture. That should give me plenty to talk about. The world can give you one heck of a mindjob. Think like me and get your daily dose.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What These Poll Results Really Represent

Three polls being tossed around in the news have been twisted to fit more partisan views without anyone even considering the views that are realistically represented by those polls.

The first two are Obama's approval rating and the "Obamacare" approval rating. At face value, these numbers show Obama might be struggling a little bit. Republicans are rolling in it painting the American public as being against Obama's policies.

That's not quite right. Let's take a look at why people might disapprove of Obama's policies, specifically with regard to the health care debate.

It should be painfully obvious that anyone on the Right opposes Obama's policies and the Health Care reform going through Congress because it's Obama. They think it's all socialism. Yes? Good. We have that chunk of people accounted for.

But surely pollsters asked more than just right wingers? Of course they did!

Let's move our way left across the spectrum.

Why would people in the middle be iffy on Obama? They're just uneasy, caught up between the fear mongering and the economic crisis. Some believe the "socialism" hype. Others are simply fiscally concerned about debt.

Why would people on the left be iffy on Obama?

Progressives want Obama to be more to the left than he really is. Despite what the Right is trying to say, Obama is not some far left politician. If he were, his numbers would be better from those on the far left. Let's face it. Progressives wanted Single Payer, not the Public Option. They aren't happy with that idea. They also aren't happy that Obama isn't fighting more to get the legislation through Congress by strong arming Dems who are being problematic.

That settles the first two polls. What about the second?

Congress does not have a good approval rating either. The House and Senate have not had a good reputation for a long time though. Americans are increasingly frustrated with our elected officials. They can't get anything done because they cannot agree on anything.

In the current situation, it would appear that the group who can't agree on anything is on the Republican side of the fence. In addition, "conservative" Democrats are becoming obstructionists as well. Nothing gets done when so many members of Congress vote "No."

But the numbers are being twisted to make it look as though Democrats will have a major loss in 2010 elections. That implies Republicans will be filling those slots, doesn't it? Republican leaders want to play this out to work in their favor. Somehow because the Democrats have the slim majority, Republicans want all the blame to fall on that watch and not their if they had nothing to do with legislation failing.

Electing more Republicans will just result in less compromise and fewer opportunities for Obama's administration to get anything done. Of course, in the minds of Republicans, that's a good thing. After all, doing something would equate to big government. God forbid they actually do their jobs. We're going to end up with the same problem we had under Clinton. We won't be able to get anything done because the system of checks and balances will simply end up at the whim of stingy old white men from southern states. Don't re-elect Blue Dog Democrats either because they aren't really Democrats to begin with.

The approval rating for Congress is a reflection of this inability to overcome partisan bickering. The Democrats are showing they want to work. The Republicans are showing they can only vote "No." Doing nothing is not an option. Vote with this in mind or expect to get elected officials who are a mirror image of our own stagnant hatred for one another. Want them to get something done? Send people who want to work to get something passed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thoughts On Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Trial

The infamous terror plot which lead to the horrific events of 9/11 will finally face justice after years of sitting in limbo. The debate as to whether or not Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried in a federal court or a military tribunal is an interesting one. I can see reasons for supporting either method. It's a strange feeling I'm having, but for once, I'm actually agreeing with what some Republicans have to say. Certainly not everything they're saying appeals to me. I still think they're a bunch of cutthroat assholes.

In my opinion, the standard has been to try these kinds of cases in a military tribunal and not as a federal case. I am siding with those who prefer we try this terrorist via military tribunal. I'm not 100 percent on this idea. I do have questions. What makes this especially interesting is Khalid's status in this country. It's my understanding that he had visa status and went to school in North Carolina. In light of trials over home grown terrorism, as in the case of Timothy McVeigh for example, it's no stretch of the imagination to suggest that perhaps someone with visa status should be tried in federal court. To suggest otherwise reveals your arrogant inflexibility, a behavior I find unacceptable.

Many have said that to try this man in federal court serves as an example to the world of just how solid and fair our judicial system is. We are, after all, a nation of laws. By trying this man with standards equal to our own, we are saying to the world that we treat people as innocent until proven guilty. As Americans, we need to stand by that belief or lose everything that makes us who we are. We can't be the symbol of democracy for other nations when we treat people from those nations in a less than democratic fashion.

However, would it really matter?

We could try him in federal court. We could try him in a military tribunal. In either case, it appears he will be convicted. To the radical Muslim world, no matter which way we go, we will still be viewed as the infidel out to rid the world of Muslims. We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. No matter how fair of a trial this guy gets, in the minds of Islamic extremists, Americans are incapable of being fair. Putting this man to death will irritate an already volatile group of folks. Imprisoning him will produce a similar reaction. It doesn't matter what we do. So we have to ask what we want. We have to ask what the world wants. After all, the attack on the World Trade Center killed people from countries other than our own. Shouldn't they have a voice in this?

In many respects, Republicans are no different than the extremists. Had Obama sent this guy to a military tribunal, it still wouldn't have been enough for Republicans. They'd still find something to bitch about. Why should we appease a bunch of assholes? We shouldn't.

International law is a funny thing. Perhaps we could hand the case over to the United Nations. Of course, in doing so, Democrats would face anger and severe criticism from Republicans because, if I'm not mistaken, those silly Republicans don't give two shits about the UN. Another interesting point to make in international terms is that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is not a solider. He is not an enemy combatant fighting under the command of any one nation. He is a terrorist and in legal terms, that's something different. They have no place in a military tribunal. To blatantly disregard this definition is to appeal to an irrational paranoia and the growing trend of intentional misinformation.

One could also argue that by bringing these individuals to New York, the city will have its chance to seek revenge for what was done. It could be our way of symbolically allowing New York some additional closure. I suspect Texans would feel the same way. Nothing screams Texas justice like getting your hands around the throat of the bastard that attacked your home city. If Texans like it, chances are, it's the Republican way too. Revenge is always their prerogative.

Whatever we end up doing, we ought to push for a little solidarity. Instead, I fear we will continue down this divisive path. Republicans would rather divide us than say anything worth listening to. While I may agree with their opinion that we should try this case in a military tribunal, these jerks have been taking it one step further by trying to evoke fear from the American public.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Yet another iPod fix

Forgive me for using ancient technology, but over the last couple of weeks, my 40GB 4G iPod Classic has been acting up. It started with being unable to turn it off by holding down the pause button. After holding down the pause button, it would turn off, and then back on again. I bit my tongue and coped with the occasional difficulty until this week.

The symptoms became more pronounced this week. Not only would it not turn off, but the menu button didn't work right. It behaved more like the center button. Here I was in the midst of an episode of Leo Laporte's The Tech Guy podcast and I couldn't go back to the previous menus.

I discovered that I could turn the iPod off if I pressed down on the middle button and at the same time, held down on the pause button. Granted, in a split second, the iPod would turn off and back on again just as before. I knew the hold switch would prevent the iPod from responding to any input from the controls, so I cleverly repeated this step and kept another finger hovering on the hold switch to catch it as the unit turned off. That worked. Okay, time to crack 'er open.

So I went about troubleshooting the problem slowly. I already have some experience with opening up a 1st generation iPod, so I wasn't scared to pop this sucker open. Of course, opening an iPod is no simple task.

I approached from the bottom edge along the silver metal backing with a very small flathead screwdriver. Eventually, I was able to pry apart the seam and advance along to one of the corners, prying up the guts of the iPod as I went along. After about 30 minutes of trying to get that part started, I had the iPod wide open.

Everything looked okay inside. I worked my way all the way down to beneath the battery which was glued on a bit too good. I scratched my head again.

I went ahead and flipped the hold switch off and tried using the iPod without the case sealed shut. The controls worked fine. That meant something was pressing up against the back side of the controls keeping them from working properly. There was only one thing I could think of removing.

On just about every iPod hard drive, they've affixed a foam backing to cushion the drive and separate it from other parts. Yes, it's glued on. No, it's not fun trying to remove the stuff, but that's what did it. Pull that foam off and your iPod will be back to its jolly old self again.

Sorry I can't provide photos. It's a straightforward fix. Nothing is really wrong with the iPod itself, but after reading several threads and quick fix web sites, I was convinced nobody had approached this problem yet. Hopefully this post helps some poor soul who thinks their iPod needs to be repaired or replaced.