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, December 13, 2010

Typical Winter Global Warming Misinformation

Go anywhere on the internet and in light of the cold weather in the South and the heavy snow hitting the Midwest, you will find people joking about Global Warming, but not in a polite way.

It doesn't matter if you browse Twitter, Facebook, or a forum. People still do not understand what it is that constitutes Climate Change. Even worse is when people take literal components of Climate Change and twist them to disprove Global Warming in 140 characters or less. We as a people are no longer thinking. We are no longer taking the information given to us and processing it effectively.

So here are some points to keep in mind this winter.

Climate Change dictates that colder seasons will shorten and warmer seasons will lengthen. Growing seasons will become longer. Winter will not last quite as long. Snow generally aids in reflecting the radiation from the sun during the winter months. A shorter winter means that snow will not be on the ground come February and March. Shorten this time period and the Earth absorbs more of that radiation, perpetuating the problem even further.

Ocean temperatures are warmer. That results in more precipitation coming on land. Precipitation just does not magically appear over the mainland. Anyone who lives around the Great Lakes knows this all too well.

Because of temperatures and more energy feeding storms, the severity of such storms will be enhanced. This goes for hurricanes and your run of the mill thunderstorm.

What one person experiences in Minnesota will not be as pronounced as someone living in a coastal city where ocean levels are rising. The impact of Climate Change is felt more apparent in areas where subtle changes have profound effects. As Climate Change worsens, those of us living on the United States mainland will feel the full brunt of these effects. Americans tend to only think in terms of their own little world and disregard all that happens beyond our shores. This is one reason why the notion of Global Warming has been ridiculed.


Individual weather events do not speak to the problem of Climate Change as a whole, but aspects of these individual events speak to the effects Climate Change is having on our planet. When you live in Iowa and Mother Nature dumps a lot of snow on you, first, you must remind yourself this is winter. Climate Change has not rid us of all four seasons yet. We still get cold in the winter time. The amount of snow depends on the moisture that has traveled across from the West Coast. That moisture, for the most part, came from the ocean.

Keep a sane perspective and you will continue to receive sane answers to your questions. Learn that the "warming" part of Global Warming is not as simple as saying it's going to be warm. Just because it's cold does not mean Global Warming is not real. It's winter. It's supposed to be cold. Just realize that winter may not last as long as it previously did. Anyone who confuses "Warming" with expecting December to feel like Florida in Minnesota is posing an idiotic view.

A curious, humorous, and rather entertaining link:
Darryl Cunningham Investigates: Climate Change
(Link added 1-9-2011)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stop Calling Independents "Moderate"

Moments ago, David Gregory on Meet The Press asked a question of the panel, reflecting back on the 2010 midterm election. He phrased it in terms of the moderate voter moving away from President Obama and more to the Right. There's just one thing wrong with that comment. Referring to Independents as Moderates is no longer a legitimate perspective. The political spectrum has changed and our media talking heads have yet to make the adjustment.

I wrote a post about this a long time ago, yet no one seems to be catching on.
See A New Trend: Being an "Independent" Voter

Visit any Conservative web site where a forum is in place. Ask the Conservatives if they identify themselves as Republicans or Conservatives. Ask them!!!

Their answer will be the following.

They no longer associate themselves with the Republican party. They are Independents. THAT'S RIGHT. Those Conservatives are now calling themselves Independents. Conservatives who do not align themselves with the Republican party are not moderate Conservatives. They are fringe Conservatives. They believe in far Right policies. They will never support a Democratic agenda, let alone a moderate agenda. When news organizations conduct their polls and end the questionnaire by asking if participants identify themselves as a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, do you see now how these polls can suddenly make it seem as though the general public is against what Barack Obama and the Democrats are doing? The terminology needs to change. An Independent and a Moderate voter are not one and the same.

Leading up to the 2008 presidential election, we saw this trend. After Barack Obama won, we continued to see this split on the Conservative side of the fence. Our news outlets have not fully recognized the trend. They are asleep at the wheel. This sort of trend has existed on the Left for some time now. Only until recently has the "Independent" voice on the Right gained any traction.

So...will someone in the media shake some screws loose and stop referring to Independents as people who vote from the middle? It's misleading. Even top Conservatives in Washington, from Mitch McConnell to John Boehner have used this "statistic" to spin politics in their favor, claiming middle America is on their side when in fact, this is not the case.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Who the hell is Robert Caspar Lintner?

Thanksgiving is upon us and while many are scrambling to make a flight, cook a turkey, and put up with family members, I'm standing here wondering who the hell Robert Caspar Lintner is.

Go ahead, do a Google search. Look on Wikipedia.


Well, except for the sites which provide two quotes about Thanksgiving. Why do you think I'm asking who this person is in the first place? Yeah. THAT quote is popping up everywhere. It's almost as if someone made the guy up. There are no other mentions of Robert Caspar Lintner, except in reference to either of the two quotes below.

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.
Thanksgiving is nothing if not a glad and reverent lifting of the heart to God in honor and praise for His goodness.

Did I miss a lesson in History class? Am I not religiously well connected enough? Who is this guy? I do not pass along a quote unless I know who it is that coined the phrase.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nancy Pelosi Isn't Gone, Folks...

Visit any negative Nancy Pelosi fan page on Facebook that has anything to do with getting rid of her and you will soon notice one trend. People seem to think that because she will no longer be the Speaker of the House, she will be leaving. It just goes to show you, Americans do not understand our political system. Apparently this includes how Congress operates.

Nancy Pelosi is still the congresswoman from California, representing the 8th district. So she's not fired. She's not leaving Congress. She will still be very active in the legislative process. In the 2010 election, she was up against Libertarian, John Dennis. She won with an 80% majority and will be serving her 12th consecutive term in Congress. Until January, Pelosi will still be House Speaker. She's not gone, folks.

Once again, conservatives have shown me they willingly choose to disregard reality and vocalize their skewed perceptions, complete with hatred and vitriol. Don't believe me? Stop on by some of the anti-Pelosi Facebook pages. Quite a few "fans" want her dead. If you're looking for examples of how conservatives spew hate and death threats, Facebook is the best place to gather evidence.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thoughts on OS X Lion, the iOS transition

Most of the subject matter I write here is political in nature. On rare occasions, I feel the need to cover technology from a perspective that I do not usually hear from the main tech media outlets. I am an avid TWIT listener, so what I do hear via Tech News Today or This Week in Tech usually covers any and every possible story that would be of interest to me.

That being said, the most recent episode of TWIT discussed the recent announcements by Apple, including iLife 11, the new Macbook Air, and OS X Lion. When the discussion began revolving around Lion, my attention immediately shifted to Leo Laporte's astute observations and his understanding of the inner workings of Steve Jobs. Why? Leo knows what he's talking about. However, there was one aspect of the iOS transition I did not hear discussed. Maybe I missed it. Maybe one of the other hosts said it. The fact remains. I did not hear it.

Most of the discussion revolved around the notion that the app store transition reflects a philosophical shift with Apple, but also that the overall interface does not necessarily cater to pro users. It was said that for the casual user, the interface will likely be comfortable, but given that we are now a multitasking society, OS X Lion will most certainly have to learn to evolve.

What did they not discuss? Switchers. No, I don't mean your run of the mill switcher that Apple has been targeting for a few years with their Mac/PC ads featuring Justin Long and John Hodgman. I have a feeling Apple is targeting a whole different brand of switcher, users who have an iPhone or iPod Touch, but still manage the device using a Windows environment.

We've already got them by the balls when it comes to familiarity with the iOS interface. Make OS X something they are familiar with and they will be easily swayed into using what now feels very natural.

Now that I have that point out of the way, I'd like to address some concerns I have about the next major revision of OS X.

In my mind, this transition represents another major shift in development, the likes of which we have not seen since we went Intel. Developers at that time were slapped around a bit, being forced to rewrite all their apps to support the x86 architecture. Sure, we had Rosetta. Sure, many of those developers recall making the switch from OS 9 to OS X. Even fewer developers recall what it took to go from a 68040 platform to PowerPC. I'm showing my age here, I suppose. The fact remains. The notion of an iApp means developers will once again have to rethink their approach to Mac computing.

But that's not all they have to worry about. Apple is going to centralize the application delivery system using an app store in much the same way the iPhone and iPod Touch has access to new applications. With this sandboxed approach, Apple essentially gives themselves ultimate power with a closed system. One can only hope the app approval system is much more lax than the rigid rules used for the iOS store.

Several questions remain, but there are some worrying questions I'd like answered.

Will keyboard navigation be a thing of the past? As a long time Mac user, I am completely reliant on keyboard navigation, whether via command keys or typing the names of folders and documents as I move around in the Finder. As Leo Laporte said, this looks like the death of the Finder. Power users, like Photoshop users, are invested in keyboard shortcuts. Surely there are reasons to maintain that level of interactivity? Lion looks more mouse and gesture oriented, two areas I don't use a lot of in Snow Leopard, at least not as much as keyboard navigation, even if I'm using Spaces.

Will the app store be the only place I can get my apps? Will I be able to go to MacUpdate, a well known application repository, to get my applications?

Will developers start charging small fees for their apps? In other words, is this the end of freeware on the Mac?

I know what you're saying. Think of it this way. In the iOS app store, there is no real try before you buy business model in place. If an app costs money, you have to buy it to try it. If you don't like it, I'm sure there is a refund process, but as with anything we buy these days, getting a refund is not as simple as it used to be. In the current store, free choices certainly do exist, but look at all the other apps that cost money. Am I going to have to pay for everything now? I'm certainly not advocating being a freeloader, but Freeware is what makes using a computer enjoyable. When everything starts costing money, owning a computer becomes a major expense. When all I want to do is perform a simple task or make my interface a little different, an application is usually out there to remedy my problem for free. Consider it a friendly relationship we have with developers.

I had a similar fear when we made the Intel switch, and yes, for the most part, my suspicions were correct. The idea was to bring in more developers and in turn, more applications. The Intel switch made a Mac a more appealing platform to write for. Unfortunately, at the time of the big switch, Windows apps were notorious for being shareware-only. I was afraid the Mac world would become inundated by greedy shareware devs wanting to charge too much for an application. The trend certainly is on the rise, but with the advent of the app store, I'm afraid freeware might be on the way out.

Although jailbreaking allows piracy to continue, a centralized app store also helps combat the illegal distribution of copyrighted software. If we are required to use an app that acquires our own personalized usage signature when we download it, sharing apps between machines will become a thing of the past. No more will you be able to try out something a friend has in an attempt to decide whether or not you should buy it. No more will you be able to go to a friend's computer with a utility and fix their problem without having the proper license.

I'm scared of where Apple is taking us in terms of usage and licensing.

That also brings up the notion of "sideloading." At least I think that's the correct term. What I mean by "sideloading" is that if I buy an app on my Mac for use on my Mac, but the developer has coded it so it supports both use on an iDevice as well as my Mac, will I be allowed under the license to use it on both systems? I'd hate to have to buy the same app twice, or worse yet, three or four times. Face it. We are at a time when one user controls several devices. Licensing language should change accordingly to allow one user to spread an app across those devices. Here's a perfect example. Let's say I own a Mac Pro and I do my heavy lifting on that machine. Let's say I travel and do business on the road. I'd likely have a Macbook Pro or even a Macbook Air for doing all the light work that usually happens on the road. I'd like to be able to install the same program on both systems without worrying about licenses. It's not like I'd be using the program simultaneously on two machines. This philosophy has yet to be embraced by developers, but I'm hoping they come around instead of offering the grotesque insult that is the "family pack."

I'd like to close with one other interesting point in defense of the closed system that is the app store. It may be closed, but Apple has shown that it works. How many apps have been sold? How many iDevices are out there? People do use this interface regularly. It stands to reason that using it on a desktop will work equally as well for Apple as a company. It may not be good for the pro user, but it works for Apple.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My vote. A decision to make. What is it worth?

Our current voting system is flawed, driven by negativity through attack ads and falsely guarded under the pretense that campaigns are geared towards tackling the issues we care about. Once elected, the person who goes to DC faces the same bribery and underhandedness that the rest have who came before them fell prey to. Lobbyists control their campaign, and in turn, their vote. My vote becomes meaningless. The sad truth is still that I helped put them there.

I have said this before in previous posts, but our elected officials are a reflection of ourselves. American voters are at each other's throats. We are unable to agree on anything. We elect men and women who are extensions of that disagreement. Government can't get anything done because we cannot agree on what should be done. If I want progress, I have to seriously consider how I vote.

Which leads me to my conundrum, and perhaps your own.

I want to vote my conscience. I want to vote for what I believe in. I want to vote based on someone's record. I want to vote for someone I can defend, someone I can stand behind. Instead, I'm being convinced that I must vote against all of that and support the lesser of two evils. If I vote my conscience, I might be able to sleep at night, but the person I vote for will not win. If I vote for the lesser of two evils, I may not like them, but they have a shot at winning and some of what I want might get through Congress. By voting for the lesser of two evils, my wants and needs as a US citizen have a chance. Ironic, isn't it?

But the opposite side votes the same way now. Take David Vitter, for example. He's running against Charlie Melancon who is admittedly a conservative democrat. Republicans and "independent" conservatives will be voting for David Vitter despite his afflictions and very public penchant for prostitutes. Family values are important to those voters, but Vitter is not expected to walk the walk. Why? He is a reflection of the conservative voter. His constituents don't have family values either. They behave in ways which favor selfish interests too. They may not be chasing after hookers, but their values are most certainly compromised. They would never be caught dead voting for "some damn democrat." As far as they are concerned, Melancon is a socialist, despite the fact that he's obviously a conservative democrat. In terms of the political spectrum, he's light years away from being a leftist. Still, conservative voters play the lesser of two evils game too, even when their candidate is an outright scumbag. Apparently Melancon is worse that a john.

The people voting for David Vitter are casting what I call a pseudo-protest vote. They are voting for Vitter to protest Obama, but all the griping going on in this country about incumbents, crooked politicians, and and reforming DC politics becomes meaningless by voting for David Vitter. We do not send a message to the corrupt that we want them out. We continue to put them back in because they will supposedly vote at some point in time in line with our belief system. We vote for the chance, not the reality.

If I do not vote for Melancon, those who vote for Vitter give their side a lead. If I do vote for Melancon, there is a chance he could win. But is my vote worth a sacrifice? Do I break principles and go for the win? Do I play that game? What does that say about me?

I do not like this feeling one bit. I would much rather take a stand against the status quo of conservative Louisiana. I have the gumption to cast a protest vote. Practically, it amounts to nothing in the long run. What would you do?

I would prefer to cast a vote of no confidence. I think that is a sentiment those of us on the Left and Right can sympathize with.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cash is King - The Paladino Trend

I don't know a whole hell of a lot about New York politics, but I probably know just as much as you do about the race for governor in New York thanks to very basic news coverage. What has me perplexed is how anger has supported a character which represents the same corrupt structure they are angry with. Voters are specifically angry with lobbying special interests, greedy politicians, and money grubbing dirtbags.

Well, Paladino is a rich dirtbag.

Why support him? I know you're angry, but why pick that guy? Pick someone better.

I am seeing this across the country at all levels of government. People are angry with the elected officials who presently hold office, but the challengers are all spread out among wackjobs, well financed campaigns, and less than kosher souls even Bernie Madoff could win against in a popularity poll. That isn't going to result in change. I don't see how it could. Replace one dirtbag with another dirtbag? You've got to be kidding.

People demand common sense politicians. Where is our common sense? Where is the real outrage? What I am seeing is a bandwagon that rides on anger, but is fed by money. You're a Tea Party candidate, yet you're not an every day man or woman. You aren't an every day American. You're either someone who upholds fringe beliefs, works the system, or makes a hell of a lot of money in the process.

So where are the noble challengers? If you're tired of spending and corruption, don't replace one asshole for another. That doesn't make any sense. People are still voting with a lesser than two evils mentality when what we need are more good men and women running for office.

At the local level, there are small time campaigns with individuals scrapping at each other in the name of revenge, not for building up a community. Local residents know these candidates have dirty pasts, yet they fully support them. I can cite the election going on in Camden, Arkansas as an example. Everyone in that town should know that Stan Kendall has a questionable past as a dirty cop and even more unsavory pastimes prior to his career. Dirty. Chris Claybaker is also no angel and critics throw many of the same unsatisfied remarks in his direction. Only recently has a slightly more noble candidate appeared on the ballot, a local reporter by the name of Ed Parham. While Parham might have a reputation as a gossip reporter in some instances, he certainly has more of a reputable history and could definitely turn a crap town around. This is but one example, but I'm sure there are towns all across American where voters are picking sides and playing favorites, not voting for the betterment of their community. The dangerous alternative is to pick a candidate who holds crazy ideals simply because you don't like the other two main stream candidates (And Parham did hold some wacko beliefs).

David Vitter is still a viable candidate here in Louisiana. Why is that? Faith. Sure, he loves himself a good hooker, but he's a Republican Christian, so he's the lesser of two evils...and he's the only one running with an R on his sleeve. His challengers didn't survive.

I stand by my belief that government is not the root of the problem. We are. Our elected officials really do represent us. They mirror the dirty people who put them in office. We don't demand more from them, so they only put in the least amount of effort so we don't complain. You want change? Start with yourselves and work your way to the top. Otherwise, you'll just keep getting more of the same. Anyone who thinks otherwise is only in this to say their side won.

Fuck sides, man. What we need here is a little solidarity against big money.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oust the Blue Dogs

There are two things I am fed up with in the Democratic Party. Both involve our elected officials. The first is that predominant Dems in power are wishy washy pansies. The second is that conservative Democrats, the Blue Dogs, do not vote party line when it matters. The argument against Democrats this year is that we hold the power. We could pass whatever we wanted. Those are two big arguments against us this election season. Unfortunately, we just don't have any solidarity like Republicans do. There is too much individuality within the Democratic Party. We need to get rid of some dead weight.

While I admit it is a good point to argue against rank and file conservatives by saying our tent covers people who may not agree and vote as a matter of principle over party line, times are dire right now. Things need to get done. Don't Ask Don't Tell is on the table and it may get botched up because of one vote, a Republican from Maine. The health care debate was screwed up by conservadems like Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu. Dems can whine all they want about Republican obstructionists and they'd be right, but our own house needs to get cleaned out too. The notion of an inclusive tent is a ruse and only serves as eye candy so those on the Left can have a talking point. Blue Dogs do not represent us. They are not liberals. They are moderates with problematic conservative stances.

On the flip side, Democratic voters tend to vote their conscience in addition to being party line. For instance, it's usually nothing for a staunch Democrat to cast a protest vote. Democrats are likely going to struggle this fall, so the last thing Democratic elected officials will want to do is piss off voters who have no qualms over voting someone out for being a douchebag who can't get DADT and other key agenda items through Congress. Just like the Tea Party, if you don't vote for what we want, we will get rid of you. We should be doing this to all of the Blue Dogs. Oust them so we can get some work done. On both fiscal and social issues, they are seldom progressive at all. They might as well be Republicans.

Blue Dogs are naively considered the compromising souls between the Left and the Right. Unfortunately, our system does not work under the notion of compromise and legislation winds up getting watered down into ineffectual nothingness or becomes ushered into the wasteland that is a bill that goes nowhere at all. Conservadems are right in the middle of this mess, but in terms of ideas, they should not be considered moderate. Oddly enough, conservative groups run slanderous campaign ads touting most Blue Dogs as Leftists when they are nothing of the sort. Their records show us this much.

If the Tea Party can put the screws to the GOP, surely liberal voters can hang conservative Democrats out to dry. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Tim Kaine, and yes, even Barack Obama can all start cracking some skulls. We cannot rely on moderate Republicans to vote in our favor. The Republican leadership has them on a short leash. On the Left, there is no leash. We need to crack the whip and then strap a choker chain on some of these Democrats. If they don't want to be chained, suggest to them that they should retire their political career so we may vote in someone new.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Small Business Owners Could Save The US Economy

It seems to me that if small business owners across this country took the lead and hired at least one person per business, the effects would be far reaching and our economy would improve accordingly. What we have now is a situation where small businesses feel the pinch and refuse to take on any new workers because it constitutes a liability. They don't want to be put in the poor house either. I can sympathize with that, but I also denounce the premise that they are hurting as bad as they claim to be.

I see two ways out in terms of creating jobs. Consumer confidence can improve and people can start buying things, bolstering businesses, thereby producing an incentive for new job creation. The alternative would be to make the jobs happen first, allowing people out of work to then pay into the system, spreading money around a bit, creating more jobs by bolstering other small businesses. Crying about taxes isn't going to move us forward.

Let me explain.

Over the last few months, there is no doubt lavish expenditures have been made, whether it be that brand new boat, big screen television, or even a summer vacation. What I'm saying is, there is evidence SBOs spend money on themselves. I'm not saying they don't have the right to. I am saying that given the current situation, such expenditures are unwise and selfish. This is the way small business owners are these days. I recall having an argument with a friend over this very subject. When confronted with the notion that his family would spend money saved via tax cuts on themselves and not on a new employee or business investment, he remained silent. During World War II, when the proverbial fit hit the shan, we came together. Now we are in a crisis and people only think of themselves.

I am losing my sympathy for small business owners out there who continue to whine. Put off plans for expansion in other areas. Put off your dreams. The country is in a tough spot. The sooner people start hiring, the better. If you aren't planning on hiring at least one new employee during this economic downturn, I really have no need for you, nor does this country. You got into something you were not ready for, plain and simple. If you can't handle your business, stay out of business. It's a hard line to follow where I sit, but that's the way I feel. Before all of this, I did not trust big business because of corruption and greed. This economic recession has revealed to me a level of greed present among our citizens I had hoped would be muffled by screams of compassion and dedication to one another. Show me that you've hired someone. I'll be more than happy to tell my representatives in Congress to give you a tax break. Otherwise, I'll be giving you something for nothing and that isn't going to sit well with me right now.

If you're not hiring, you're in the way, I say. Quit thinking about yourself for a while. We need to dig our way out of a deep hole, but the shovels are in the hands of small business owners, not the government. Dig us out or dig us deeper. The decision is yours. Make some necessary cuts so that you can hire at least one more person. Just one person for every small business out there would send the unemployment rate into a tailspin. It's a hard decision to make, I know, but blaming the government for your woes will not make our economy budge. Words and whines do not equate to action. You'll get no sympathy from me anymore. The words "small business owner" leave me with a foul taste in my mouth now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

America, where we do not learn from our mistakes.

Part of the problem I have with the Left-leaning main stream media is the disconnect it has with the goings-on among the real Right-wing electorate. When pundits sit at their desks discussing the power struggles going on in this country right now, they direct most of their focus at the elected officials who wear an R on their sleeve. The Left-leaning media does not hone in on their supporters. These pundits put things in context of an America which does not want to dive back into the ditch of the Bush years. A vote to the Right in the mid-term elections most likely will send us back into the old habits which got us into our present predicament to begin with.

The notion that we know where the mistakes were made cannot be any clearer. Those of us in the Center and on the Left seem to find solace in that ever popular quote, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." It's a good soundbyte. It does make sense. The problem is, the real world doesn't think that way, especially if the eyes looking out on the world are firmly planted in the head of someone Right-leaning. There is an alternate universe with a skewed version of reality chomping at the bit, hungry for control of this country.

Pundits need to take a vacation. They need to spend some time living in disguise among the entrenched Right wing zealots. Shreveport is just such a place, as is East Texas. I say, pack your bags and come on over here. You'll be shocked at what you learn after only a day or two among these southerners.

They do want the Bush years back and it has nothing to do with paying attention to the mistakes of the past. The mistakes are forgivable in their mind. Why? Because it fed into their paranoia. They could sleep at night knowing there was someone in the White House who wanted to kick some ass and who wouldn't let some Liberal pantywaist bring homosexuals into their churches and blacks into their neighborhoods. For them, our strength lies in our military, not our populace or our resilience. W gave them the out of sight, out of mind comfort. On top of all of that, the angst right now is deeply associated with the loss of an election, stirring up emotions only seen when two college football teams face off in the Southeastern Conference. They don't have the cajones to stand up against the corporate corruption and greed ruining our communities. They would rather have a job that kills them from the inside out than a government who fights for them to make the workplace safer and holds big business accountable for their misgivings. Our Left-leaning media does not know this group of people all that well. Unfortunately, I'm living among these kinds of people, distraught at the notion that I am living in some sort of personal Hell. We need to stomp these people out and shout them down the same way they go about handling us. The fight is on and we need to step up our efforts.

So while it might sound nice to be optimistic about the Democratic agenda and our success in previous elections, it has no bearing on what this country really wants, even if they want to drive us into a wall. It's a wishy washy way of thinking. The gloves need to come off. Barack Obama said it best in his speech the other day when he endorsed Harry Reid.
"We know how the movie ends when the other party is in charge. You don't have to guess how they'll govern, because we're still living with the damage from the last time they were governing...and they are still singing from the same hymnal. They haven't changed. They want to do the same stuff."

Unfortunately, Barack Obama still has faith in the American people. I do not. He thinks that Americans know that the policies of the previous administration will be remembered. He needs to recognize that the dialogue has been hijacked by the Tea Party and the spin has already begun on history barely even old enough to grow mold yet.

But even his quote targets elected officials and not the electorate. Don't get distracted, folks. We are up against more than a few idiots advocating chickens in exchange for health care and making lemonade out of children born out of incest. Their followers spew the same crap. We are up against the threat of idiocracy.

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

And repeat we shall.

Again and again.

Until we learn our lesson.

Or until we poison ourselves and our planet in the name of our own selfish interests.

But by then, it's probably going to be too late.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I wish I had more to say

I really wish I had more to say about the current political landscape, but with every new story comes the same tired Republican banter I've already written about. There really isn't anything for me to add. I could sit here and discuss the Kagan confirmation hearings, immigration laws, the oil spill, or even health care for that matter, but I'd keep coming back to the same point.

What point?

Republican talking points and blind followers of the fringe conservative bowel movement are front and center every day.

I'd like to be able to say I'm optimistic about our future here in America, but I am not. In fact, I feel much the same way I felt the day George W. Bush won, or rather, the day Al Gore conceded. That prediction I made about hard times ahead of us still seems to be coming true and although Barack Obama is honestly trying to dig us out, the same people who had terrified faces the night McCain lost are trying to derail everything to send us back into the tailspin we were in prior to the '08 election.

With the new Supreme Court ruling regarding firearms, I'm even more unhappy with the way this country is heading. I'm frankly scared, especially since I'm surrounded by southerners. I'm afraid we are on the brink of something very bad and very violent.

While all these things are going on behind the scenes, the ditto heads are front and center, spewing rhetoric and playing the politics game. There is no real threat of anti-incumbency. When folks like Boehner, McConnell, Graham, Vitter, and all the rest lose their cushy seats in Congress, then I'll tip my hat to the conservative anti-incumbency trend. Until then, I refuse to believe conservatives are angry enough at our elected officials to create any kind of legitimate and worthwhile positive change. They'd much rather criticize Democrats and point fingers at corruption within the Democratic party than to question members in their own ranks. Everything comes back to Obama, and in some instances, Bill Clinton. This has never been about fixing Washington. It has always been a game of winners and losers.

So when you're celebrating the 4th this week end, know that there are many other Americans ashamed of what this country has become as a direct result of the fringe conservative hijacking of our political system. We were ashamed in 2001. We had an ounce of hope in 2008 into 2009. Now we're just apathetic about moving forward because so many on the Right want to hold us back. I really wish I had more to say, but to be honest, I'm flat out terrified of anyone who claims to be conservative. They live in a completely separate reality than the rest of us, a reality that is out of touch with the real sweat and blood Americans who are in worse shape than the Tea Party crybabies.

Idiocracy, here we come.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blanche Lincoln: Twisted Political Meaning

Blanche Lincoln is a conservative Democrat running to keep her seat in Arkansas. Anyone who followed the health care debate is familiar with this woman. She was just one of many so called "Democrats" holding up the process. Her reputation at the time was that of a member of Congress whose seat was in trouble.

Now that elections are coming, all the ads and commentary surrounding Blanche Lincoln are being twisted to fit some sort of anti-incumbency/anti-Obama agenda. Let's bring the nuts back to reality for a moment.

Her job was already in peril. From what most pundits said during the HCR debate, she was screwed and her attempts at opposing HCR were merely for show to save her job. Her present uphill battle has nothing to do with being an incumbent or being a Democrat. It has everything to do with things she did during her term in Congress.

The sad thing is, the media hasn't framed her in this light since the HCR debate. Somehow, her predicted loss is being used as a political ploy to convince the rest of America that people are coming after Democrats in the 2010 elections. While many other Democrats are facing battles in their home states, Blanche Lincoln is not one of the primary targets, even if they are building her up into one. When she loses her job, we should not interpret the result as a reflection on President Obama. It is simply a reflection of her inability to represent her constituents effectively.

Come on now people. Get a clue. This is all election fluff.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Poor Yahoo/AP News Journalism Stirs The Pot

With rising costs of running government programs, certain decisions will be necessary. Some programs will face cuts. Others will be deemed wasteful and cut altogether. The fact remains that in order for Americans to continue to enjoy services offered at the federal level and to remain a major military power in the world, we are going to have to find money somewhere. We also owe a few countries some money. No bones about it. We need to figure this out.

But what has Yahoo News thrown into the mix? Fear over a VAT, a value-added-tax. In simplest terms, that's a value based form of tax where an expense gets tacked on to a product which represents its journey from creation to market. Not many like the idea of a VAT, but that's not the point of my post, at least not directly.

What Yahoo News has done is write an article with a daunting headline striking fear into the minds of taxpayers, specifically wingnuts, and stirring the pot of anti-Obama sentiment a little more.

What the article mentions, yet fails to responsibly convey, is that President Obama is not actually considering, nor his he proposing, a VAT. As expressed by the Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, a VAT “is not something the President has proposed nor is it under consideration.”

Can't get much clearer than that. The only people who should predictably fall for such an article already feel Obama is a liar. The truth could hit them in the nose and Obama would still be a liar.

But wait, there's more.

Like another recent debacle over a fishing ban spawned from one editorial piece on ESPN which got the wingnuts all riled up, the dubious VAT proposal is only being purported by Yahoo News. Anyone linking to a story about a VAT coming from the Obama administration leads directly back to the same Yahoo News Article. Read the article for yourself and follow along carefully. The headline asserts that Obama is considering a VAT, yet at every turn in the article, the message being sent in response is that a VAT is not being considered. What Obama did say is that many options are on the table. Perhaps he misspoke slightly, making himself appear as though in fiscal matters, he is remaining open minded. Blame poor question/answer prep.

Take the research one step further. Michele Bachmann tried to spin this VAT notion the other day when she went up against Chris Wallace. He called her on it, plainly stating that a VAT is not being proposed. Paul Volcker might have suggested that we as a country might have to consider it to pay our way out of the hole we've been left in, but that's as far as the idea goes. We all know Bachmann is nuts anyway.

Come on now people, crack some heads over this. Call me when Congress has moved beyond committee proposing an all out VAT. Otherwise, spare me the tin foil hat diatribes. The Senate just went 85-13 against the idea of having a VAT.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To the "Small Towners"

Lately in the debate over President Obama's approval numbers, people on the Right, the Tea Party ilk especially, are trying to use their insulated and isolated groups of friends to justify widespread disapproval of anything Obama proposes. While I know attempting to explain the interactions involved in this dynamic may be a matter of futility, I will try nonetheless.

The logic follows as such. If all the people I know dislike what Obama is doing, then it stands to reason the rest of the country feels the same. Let me fill you in on some extra aspects of the interaction going on.

1. I have to ask about the specifics regarding "everyone you know."
2. I have to ask whether or not you have any liberal friends to begin with.

Have these liberal friends questioned you? Have you wondered why?

They are tired of repeating themselves when confronted with outright lies and misinformation. Repeating oneself is not a fun thing to do. Ever sit around with a group of friends? How often to disagreements arise? You are a group of friends for a reason. Those outside your circle never participate in your get togethers. You seldom hear from opposing views.

I can sit around at the barber shop and never once hear anyone agree with Obama. Why? I'm in the South at a white barber shop. I'm not going to hear anything other than dissent, justified or not. That should raise a red flag. I can proudly say that I no longer waste my money on such nonsense and get my hair cut elsewhere.

It is this sort of social dynamic that perpetuates the idea that those who surround themselves with people of the same ilk refuse to see what is right in front of them. It is why FOX News is a single entity and other news organizations are labeled as "liberal media." While the Right continues to claim the "liberal media" controls what you hear, it is more true that FOX News and the talking heads on the Right follow the pattern which exemplifies controlled information and parroting of ideas because the information being passed around is often done in a circular fashion among themselves. They are an insulated entity. Everyone else is scrambling for a story and a career in journalism.

Take where I live, for example. None of my local news outlets are fair and balanced. They all stink. They use Rasmussen polls. Anchors have their own Right-leaning web sites and columns. Reports only report what the viewership around here wants to hear. Polls in local news broadcasts often perpetuate misinformation by using said misinformation as the premise for the poll, thereby legitimizing something that never was true to begin with. They get numbers in favor of something that does not exist. None are FOX stations. Well, one is, but I never watch it. My local NBC, CBS, and ABC affiliates are all Right-leaning.

Two perfect examples:

A poll I posted on here at the blog asked whether or not we approved of the Obama health care bill. At the time, no Obama health care bill existed. There were multiple bills in the works and no one bill stood out as the leading piece of legislation. When asked the question, the ideal response is not yes or no, but rather "Which bill are you referring to?"

The second example is a recent one. The poll had to do with whether or not voting out career politicians would bring about repeal of the health care bill. It has already been pointed out by many, including Republicans, that it would take a miraculous number of wins in the midterm elections and even then, the chances of repealing the health care bill simply don't exist. The news disregarded this point, instead, choosing to fire up the Right wing base over anger related to the passage of the health care legislation to justify voting out elected officials.

But this is to be expected. You see, quite often, political differences are different because of a discrepancy with one premise. Often is the case that the premise on the Right is severely flawed, covered up with more animosity than real critical thinking. When one side of a debate operates from a very different premise, it is next to impossible to make your point shine through without drawing unnecessary and unrelated fire from the opposition.

I will never be able to point out the irony in - a Texan who feels abortion is a selfish arrogant act - to an actual Texan. Why? They will ask what Texas pride has to do with abortion. They are completely oblivious to the irony I see. The epitome of a Texan is that of an arrogant and selfish ass and in turn, I would not expect someone so selfish to have a problem with another so-called selfish act. An additional ironic point to make is that this is the new platform of the Religious Right component of the Republican party. Do as I say, not as I do. David Vitter exemplifies this utter hypocrisy in Christian Conservative thinking. But I digress. Hopefully you get the point of the example. The problem is premise.

You will never understand the broader picture until you step outside of the small town way of thinking. While Mayberry can be an enjoyable place, it operates under a very strict system of control. Those with power in small towns are able to manipulate anyone and everyone in the town. Those who question the power structure are chastised and cast out into the cold. There is nothing wrong with having pride for living in a flyover state, but you cannot suggest that you are any more American than someone living on the coast. It happens in coal mining towns. It happens in farming towns. It even happens in somewhat larger cities.

By limiting your argument to the opinions of only your friends, you have just introduced a hell of a lot of bias. I have very few friends where I live, but that is largely because they would prefer to have nothing to do with me as I'm not a church going, Right-leaning redneck. No, I'm not stereotyping. I'm simply telling you that the population of this town is largely comprised of this group and they are very selective about who they choose to surround themselves with. I highly doubt they are getting additional perspectives from anyone like me seeing as how I, myself, have very few friends as a northern transplant in the South. I've seen the outside world with my own two eyes living among the natives, not stationed on an army base.

To this accusation of corruption and arrogance, I expect anyone on the Right to respond with the well scripted "Liberals do it too." While I agree several on the Left insulate themselves, they do not follow the same pattern of limited information flow that occurs on the Right. The information being passed around outside of your circle is much more varied and open to interpretation whereas the information inside of your select group is limited by your own townsy lifestyle. This is why the "regular guy" has been pitted against the "elite" so as to prevent open interpretation of information from being accepted as legitimate. Your modus operandi should not be to screw over liberals every chance you get. I do not wake up every morning plotting to make life a living hell for conservatives. That is what has become of our political system. No longer is the statement "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game" true. Nowadays, it's more about whether you win or lose. Much of the anger circulating among the Tea Party has more to do with being a sore loser than being a true conservative.

Prior to Columbus, the notion that the world was flat seemed almost painfully obvious. Look how that turned out. Things are not always that simple and seldom follow what Billy Bob considers common sense.

To steal a line from Pulp Fiction, move out of the sticks.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Michael Steele and the Slim Margin of Error

Some media networks today are covering aspects of a question asked during an interview between George Stephanopoulos and Michael Steele.

GS: "Do you feel that, as an African-American, you have a slimmer margin for error than another Chairman would?"

MS: "The honest answer is yes. It just is. Barack Obama has a slimmer margin. A lot of folks do. It's a different role for me to play and others to play, and that's just the reality of it. But you take that as a part of the nature of it."

I agree with Steele, for the most part. I disagree with some of the commentators on major network TV. Listening to Al Sharpton right now on The Ed Show. I'm agreeing with most of what Sharpton is saying. It seems criticism over Steele's comment is largely partisan in nature and not focused around issues of racial disparity.

African Americans are under greater scrutiny and offered a much slimmer margin of error. It is a fact of life, but it is not one we should accept. It's not playing the race card as many have implied. The GOP does not have a stunning reputation when it comes to embracing ethnicities that are not Caucasian. The question is a reasonable one in light of this trend. Steele using Obama as an example is also legitimate and helps point out the drive from the Right towards criticizing Obama because of the color of his skin, although I do not think Steele meant for that conclusion to be drawn from his answer. When a white guy screws up, on average, he is going to get some leeway. When a black guy screws up, he is likely to be fired. Plain and simple.

That being said, Steele should be held to the standard by which any GOP Chairmen should. Whether or not he is being crucified as a result of his race has yet to be revealed, and perhaps never will, but the question is there. The "race card" is only a race card when it is played to avoid personal responsibility for matters unrelated to race by dragging race into an argument where it does not belong. The notion that perhaps Michael Steele was being set up or is simply taking the fall for this, in part, because of his race has been in my mind from the moment he took heat for Voyeur-gate. I'm not saying he should be excused, but I am saying that the reaction might be accentuated by matters of race.

We are not out of the (back)woods yet with regard to racism in this country.

Hitler, Fascism, Extremism, and How it All Started on the Right

The dialogue present in today's politics among the people, not our elected officials, is that of a divided finger-pointing banter aimed at advancing opinions of oneself and not of historical fact. While I admit at face value, the title of this post can be seen as unbalanced finger-pointing aimed at continuing the nonsense, I would ask readers to indulge me for just a moment out of the spirit of listening, not waiting for me to finish talking so you can interject the thoughts welling up inside of your head. Take ten deep breaths and continue reading.

When journalists these days talk about all the extremism and violent rhetoric on the Right, "true conservatives," "patriots," and the tea party ilk have one very common response that comes in a few different flavors.

The Democrats did it first.
The Democrats do it too.
The Democrats are a bunch of hypocrites.

While the second on that list might be true and violent behavior most certainly has been exhibited by groups on the Left, Democratic party leaders have not stood out in front of said groups, egging them on to elevate their own ideals. The lines on the Right between activist and politician have been blurred. Democrats have kept a clear separation between their own statements on the Hill and the protesters down below. Only media outlets and talking heads on the Right attempt to merge the two. Just because some on the Left resort to violence certainly does not excuse anyone else to do the same. I openly criticize violent actions, regardless of the cause.

However, if it were true that Obama, for instance, were a radical, I would not condone it. I know that wingnuts will cling to things like Ayers and Obama at this point, claiming close ties, but that simply isn't true. Google the terms Factcheck, Obama, and Ayers. Let's move on beyond the obvious stalemate to the real meat and potatoes. Distraction is their game, no matter how much they believe themselves to be true and those people cannot be reasoned with. They need to face that lots of misinformation has been flat out debunked. Move on to the next topic already.

But Hitler comparisons? Do you realize where the accusations of Fascism, Communism, and Socialism originated?

The exchange over Hitler and Fascism did not originate with Democrats. The sentiment originated on the Right and the defensive posturing explaining the absurdity was situated on the Left.

Go back to before Obama was elected. Go back to the Bush years (No, this isn't about blaming Bush). Look at some of the book titles that were circulating at the time. Several compared Liberalism to Fascism. On discussion boards, Right-leaning individuals opened up the flood gates by calling Liberals Fascists and Socialists at the same time. Astute Liberals on these forums stepped up to point out the idiocy in such a comparison.

Pick one, but they can't be both.

Followed by...

History lessons on Hitler, Mussolini, Fascism, and Socialism.

Followed by...

If you really want to see Fascism and Hitler like behavior, look at some of the Bush policies, the Religious Right, and the notion that if you don't like America, you can leave it. Nationalism. Blind patriotism. Corporate control.

These were defensive comments against an already implied statement that Fascism (read Hitler) and Socialism (read Mussolini) were all Liberally held tenets, not the other way around. I'm not denying that Liberals used the Hitler comparison. What talking heads on the Right fail to disclose is the timeline and series of events which lead to these comments. Those on the Right were directly comparing Liberals to Fascists and Socialists. You can't talk about either without understanding Hitler and Mussolini.

No. I'm afraid the stones being thrown over Hitler and Fascism came from the Right, not the Left. Only the keen eye accustomed to reading how debates arise will be able to spot it. I suspect wingnuts who go back to read the exchanges will see only what they wish to see and not the text in black and white on the page of their web browser.

And therein lies the real problem.

One group is compromising and living in reality. The other is uncompromising and living in some world of magical thinking. One side recognizes a difference between what you hope will happen and what will actually happen. Nuance is something only those on the Left seem to understand. Nuance is scoffed at by those on the Right.

We will never again see reasonable debate and that is unfortunate for this country. We are on the down and out. It was nice knowing you. The arguments used by the Left for so many years are now being incorrectly employed by those on the Right to project an unrealistic series of events leading up to what we are facing today. We can't fix our country if we botch up the story like a bad game of telephone. Sad, indeed.

I hate to say it, but as a Liberal, I fail to see any benefit from indulging ideas from those on the Right spewing vitriol, favoring those who are ready to work to get things done and casting aside those who would prefer to mangle everything in sight.

...At least for the time being. Once we get back on track, maybe we can start talking again. I welcome that day, but I do not see it happening. There is no arena of ideas when misinformation dictates half of the public opinion. When Democrats are no longer considered legitimate leaders by those on the Right, those on the Left will question the legitimacy of ideals held by those who stand on the Right.

Our best option is to put our ideas and laws into place and watch them succeed just to show the nuts that they were wrong. We cannot continue to argue over matters of reality and imagination. Put common sense back in the hands of those who actually have it and not those who toss the term around in a stump speech to win votes and support.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

• Thought of the day: It's easy...

It's easy to call someone lazy from the comfort of an armchair.

It's easy for someone who had opportunities to call someone else lazy who works two jobs, has a couple of kids, and struggles to make ends meet when they cry out for help and health care coverage. It's easy to call someone lazy and demand someone gets off their butt to work when you, a small business owner, has not hired anyone lately. It's easy to call someone lazy, when you, a white person, 30 years ago, were able to go to a decent school and receive a quality education while they, a minority, experienced the exact opposite. It's easy to call someone lazy when you're not the one being screwed over. It's easy to call someone lazy when the company refuses to provide health insurance, so you accuse this person of asking for a government handout instead of placing the blame on the company in question.

It's easy to call someone lazy from the comfort of an armchair.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Will Vitter Win Re-election?

David Vitter is a US Senator from Louisiana. As someone from the state, I have a vested interest in how elections down here turn out. Given the current "mood" down here, I'm wondering if Vitter will get re-elected. He has stated he will run this year to keep his seat.

He's a Republican, so obviously I don't want him in the Senate, but what do Republicans in Louisiana think about him?

Let me shed some light on why I'm so curious.

In 2007, Vitter was named as a client of the infamous DC Madam, suggesting that he was into hookers. Vitter ran on the classic "Family Values" platform, yet he proved to be one of the Republicans who can't seem to keep his dick loyal to the woman he married. This is not his first run-in with a prostitution allegation. In 2002, Louisiana Weekly also ran a story on the subject. In 2004, Vitter continued to deny his links to hookers. His hooker fetish has been traced back to at least the 1990s.

In polls, Vitter maintains a substantial lead against Democratic competition. What about against his own kind? (Assuming he deserves such a compliment)

Has he been forgiven by the electorate? Do Republicans just think a hooker-fiend is still better than a Democrat? Any up and coming Republican in Louisiana who wants to move up in the world would have a slam dunk case for running against this lowlife. Shouldn't we, as voters, send the guy packing and put someone honest in?

What about the push from the Right to eject incumbents? He's had his term. Oust him and put somebody new in. Grow a pair, voters. He obviously lied when confronted with prostitution allegations. You would re-elect a liar like this? Interesting.

Louisiana must like the taste of hooker spit. I thought they preferred hot sauce.

It just goes to show that once again, Republicans will refuse to cast a protest vote against their own kind.

Vitter's Voting Record

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Welcome Back, Domestic Terrorism

Joseph A. Stack flew 25 miles to an IRS building off of I-83 this morning. He then dove straight into it, Stack, the only death so far. Investigators are still searching for more casualties. Associated with the tragedy was an approximately 3000 word manifesto expressing his thought process for such an act along with the events which lead to his decision.

He repeatedly edited and finally posted a 3000 word manifesto leading up to this morning's disaster. The letter, a rant about taxes and the government, spurred from years of hassles with the IRS. Unfortunately, the language in the document was more than your basic gripe about the IRS.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures."

Desperation and anger sums it up. That is the disturbed paranoia on the Right which has triggered some to consider behaving violently. To deny the existence of such an element is to deny the serious nature of the accusations anti-government groups have made. Those accusations are not without consequence.

The strange part in the tirade was that I could not pin down which side of the fence the guy sat on. Much of his suicide note is obviously anti-government and anti-taxes, yet at the end of the document, he invokes Communism. The letter is peppered with Tea Party style language and other phrases which hint he leans more Right than Left. Strange, indeed. But we should not attempt to rationalize the ravings of a lunatic.

Moments after his name surfaced, Tea Party enthusiasts jumped at the opportunity to use the attack on the IRS to elevate their own anti-government position. The real question to ask then is, will Tea Partyers mistakenly take this act of violence as a green light to take action against the government in a violent manner themselves?

What troubles me even more is how Tea Party supporters and Limbaugh/Beck listeners will sympathize with this man. These same people call critics of the war terrorist sympathizers. I'm sure they feel that this man's violent response represents a legitimate message being sent to the Obama administration. They will defend is insane suicide note as something that represents a growing source of frustration in this country. The problem is, there is no IRS squeeze being put on Joe Taxpayer. The notion has been manufactured and perpetuated via ideology and fear. The Obama administration cut taxes for people in this group.

What they won't say, however, is that the manifesto has clues which suggest Stack may have not been all that kosher when it came to his taxes. I'll get to that in a minute. First, let me focus on the Tea Party reaction to this act.

Search Twitter for Stack sympathizers. These are just some of the gems you'll find.

Mixed feelings? Main stream media misinformation? Well written and poignant manifesto? Tea Party martyr?

Some folks on the Right are even claiming Stack was a wacko from the Left. They claim to have read his manifesto, yet aside from a jab at George W. Bush and a small tirade about health care being a crisis, nothing about his manifesto stinks of straight Liberalism, only Tea Party anti-government angst. Those on the Right consider anyone who criticizes Dubya or our "wonderful" health care system a Leftist. Part of his manifesto actually hinted that he was possibly weaseling around tax laws in order to evade paying. See the part where he talks about tax law readings with neighbors and lawyers and the section where he had undocumented income. He made himself out to be a patriot of all things. Draping oneself in a flag definitely belongs in the Right corner, not the Left. He also made it relatively clear he had a negative impression of unions and of a Democratic politician, Patrick Moynihan. I would personally love to get my hands on some of the letters he claimed to have written to politicians in the past. Perhaps they might shed some light on his thought process and how this dreadful day came into fruition.

So let's give these sympathizers the benefit of the doubt and say Stack wasn't a member of the Tea Party movement. Take all his angst and make a list. All of it resembles things said at speeches during the Tea Party convention. Someone with anti-government angst focused against the IRS does not fit a Leftist profile at all. On the contrary, self proclaimed "true Conservatives" post this kind of nonsense on the net minute by minute. "No taxation without representation" is a tag line of the Tea Party movement, a quote elevated with some importance in the Stack manifesto. Tea Party jargon inadvertently justifies his state of psychosis.

What Tea Party folks need to realize is that their choice of words resonates with more than their own protesters. Talk of revolution and oppression by way of taxes speaks to these lone wolves with psychotic tendencies. It speaks to those carrying signs with swastikas on them and those who play the Socialism card far too often than is necessary. All of those signs we see at Tea Party protests are not the least bit light hearted. They have a clear message directed at a clear target. The Tea Party marks the target. The crazy ones use a scope and fire away. Then the Tea Party gets to act as though they aren't to blame.

Speaking out against the entire US government with vague complaints leaves the uninformed to come to their own ridiculous conclusions. You've fired up the wrong people and now we've suffered as a result. Time to tame your own followers. Time to keep your volatile language in check.

What is ironic is how things are looking to become a self fulfilling prophecy. What do I mean by that? The Tea Party movement and several wingnuts claim the US government will turn into a police state, the likes of which we haven't seen since Communist Russia. I don't think they realize that by advocating revolution and trigging men and women to wage attacks on US soil, they will actually justify actions which would police our freedom.

Some additional points:
He became a Texan, although it would appear he has roots in Pennsylvania. Texas does strange things to people. It's why I really try to avoid driving into Texas altogether. I do give him credit, however, for noticing the over-inflated ego present in Texans.

He complained about all this money lost, yet he had a small plane. Doesn't seem to be hurting that bad. Although it appears that in his younger years, hard times were upon him, real poverty and hard times, he knew not. Who among you owns a plane? Who among you facing hard times owns a web site? That also means he owns a computer and has a decent internet connection. If money is an issue, I certainly wouldn't be throwing it away on a plane and a hosted domain.

My final word:
If his message resonates with you, I am scared of you. I wonder if you will be the next to take your own life and possibly many innocent others. I worry that members of our military will act out in a similar fashion. B52's fly training exercises above the city I live in. Imagine what kind of disaster could ensue should one of our own who swore to defend this country drove a plane like that into the ground. I wonder if I will become a victim of your angst. A body count is nothing to be proud of. You really do terrify the rest of us. Whether you post at FreeRepublic, NewsMax, InfoWars, or any of the many other "Conservative" leaning sites, comments which endorse violence and sympathize with revolution need to be weeded out. Freedom of speech only gets you so far before you become a threat to the rest of society.

I should not fear for my own life on this scale. That is terrorism. Are you a threat? If your answer is yes, you deserve to be on the FBI watch list and no-fly list. It's not oppression or police state when we come after you. You seek to cause physical harm to fellow Americans. Nothing excuses that kind of behavior. Nothing.

This is your "revolution"? You've made Americans afraid again. The language you choose to use to speak to your audience has consequences. They are preparing to take desperate measures. Time to rein in your fringe and send a clear message that this is not the way to solve problems.

Palin vs Macfarlane...and Maher?

There is a small Twitter war brewing and for someone liberal like me, it's friggin hilarious.

The Back Story:
On the most recent episode of Family Guy, Sarah Palin and her Down Syndrome son, Trig, were the subject of a questionably low, but still fairly humorous joke. A new character in the series goes on a date with the eldest Griffin son, Chris. Chris asks the girl with Down Syndrome what her parents do. The girl responds that her mother is the former governor of Alaska.

There's the jab.

Palin went on Fox News to speak out against Seth Macfarlane and the show, Family Guy. Apparently the world is full of evil people. Yeah, I know. The poor gal hasn't looked in the mirror. Her snarky and bitchy comments from stump speeches and party affiliated addresses serve as evidence for her own evil streak.

But that's not where I'm going with this post. I'm taking it in a new direction. I'm calling out the Palin dittoheads.

Retweets on Twitter are quoting Maher as saying the following:
Palin’s Job at Fox Equivalent to Talking to Her Down Syndrome Baby

Made me laugh. Anyway.

Dittoheads at the FreeRepublic are going on their usual tangents, referring to Maher as scum, someone lacking intellect, and the like. By extension, these dittoheads are also referring to liberals in general, but specifically to Maher fans.

Hate to break it to you guys, but we feel the same about you wingnuts. We're not the ones opposing science.

So I have a proposition for the Sarah Palin dittoheads and ass kissers. Show me you differ with her on some issues. The entire thread I found on the FreeRepublic paints Maher fans as kiss asses who await his every word.

I'm a Maher fan, but I also do not agree with everything he has to say.

Proof? Sure.

On legalizing marijuana, I'm against it. Maher is adamantly for it. As a member of the medical community, I am against illicit substance use and abuse. Even if it were legal, I'd be against it. Medicinal purposes are different. Maher wants more than that. I don't. I really really don't. Potheads piss me off.

Along the same lines, Maher has a twisted perception of the medical community as a whole. He doesn't understand what makes people sick. He doesn't understand that more is involved in health care than eating healthy and all of that jazz. Maher goes on a rant like he has stock in Whole Foods. He has a thing against vaccines and medications. Those rants of his are crazy. Even his panel gets uncomfortable when he brings that crap up.

I have disagreed with some of his criticisms of Barack Obama, mainly with regard to the war on terror.

I have disagreed with Maher, to some extent, when it comes to religion. While I enjoyed Religulous, I consider myself more of an agnostic and have slightly more respect for certain people of Faith than he does. Yes, there are batshit crazy religious folks. Nuts are nuts. He and I are on the same page there.

There are several other smaller instances where I have shaken my head at the man, but he's a comedian, not a pundit, so he's there to make us laugh. I watch the show for a laugh. Republicans generally don't see Maher in that light. They consider him an entertainer with a following like Limbaugh can influence. Maher is something different, but I digress. No sense in trying to rationalize with a right winger.

So let's start with you, Palin ass kisser. What has she done or said that you personally disagree with as an "informed" voter?

That's the challenge. Who has the balls to step up? Who doesn't eat up every word the stretch mark-laden hockey mom says?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Mac OS X Path Bar

The Path Bar is, in my eyes, a new feature in Mac OS X. What is the Path Bar? It's a hierarchal listing of folders at the bottom of a Finder window. The hierarchy tells you where you're at and lists every folder above your current location. Prior to the addition of a Path Bar, navigating via a hierarchy came by the way of the Path toolbar item or by holding the Command key while clicking on the name of the folder at the top of the window. While those last two features still exist, the Path Bar makes life a little easier, at least for me.

At face value, that's all the Path Bar is for novice Mac users. Nothing more than a list. Well, fellow Mac fans, there's more worth knowing.

First, you need to familiarize yourself with basic Mac keyboard and mouse actions. The Command key is your best friend. Formerly known as the Apple key, most Command keys on new Macs are branded with the funny cloverleaf pattern Command symbol and the word "command." In terms of mouse actions, there isn't anything new to learn. Double clicking and right clicking are the only two skills you'll need for this lesson.

To enable the Path Bar:
In the Finder, with a folder open, select the View menu and select Show Path Bar.

Duplicate the current window:
So let's start with the first trick, but let me preface it with a quick story. An app called Clone Window was a useful tool in my repertoire, snugly positioned in my Finder window Toolbar. The purpose of the app was to open a duplicate window of the current folder. For anyone who moves files around, this approach, while somewhat more analog in nature, is much more comfortable than navigating in Column view. Well the Path Bar makes this task possible without any special add ons. What's especially useful about the Path Bar is that, unlike Clone Window, when the Toolbar is collapsed, the Path Bar hangs around.

To accomplish this simple task, find the folder you'd like to have open in two windows listed in the Path Bar. Hold down the Command key. Now double click the folder icon/name in the Path Bar. Presto. Two windows of the same folder are open.

(You might notice that Clone Window is still present in my Toolbar. I haven't parted ways with the app just yet.)

Let's take this trick one step further. You can Command click on any folder in the list. That means you can open any folder in the hierarchy in a separate window.

In this regard, several other features common to navigating the Finder and managing files and folders are applicable. By holding down Command and Option followed by dragging something from the Path Bar, you can create an alias or shortcut to said item. Option clicking and then dragging allows you to copy a file or folder. Go ahead an experiment.

But it doesn't end there.

I use it to eject discs too. This trick is especially useful when I'm doing software updates, whether system related or simply for installing a series of newly released apps.

Sure, you can click on the icon on the Desktop and eject. Sure, you can do a Command E or select Eject via a menu. Yes, you can even drag the disc to the Trash icon in the Dock. But where is the fun in that?

Mount a disc image or pop in a DVD or CD.

In my case, I mounted the disc image for Formulate Pro, an app for dealing with PDF forms.

Instead of clicking on the icon on my Desktop, I can right click (control click) or use my Secondary Tap on my trackpad to bring up a contextual menu. You'll notice that in my screen shot, Eject is listed in said contextual menu. Select it and go on with your life much more efficiently.

There you have it. The Path Bar is a very useful tool for Mac users. Don't let it go to waste.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"And the South shall rise again"

The morning George W. Bush was announced as the winner of the 2000 election, the first words out of my mouth were "We're going to have hard times ahead of us." In addition, I said we were going to have a war and that it would not be pretty. After eight years, I can honestly say we were put on the path towards hard times and we are now in wars that have not been ideal, not that any war is, but that things were done half-assed. Somewhere in between his first term and his reelection, I was someone who said a civil war was coming. Along the same lines, I was also hinting at the saying those below the Mason Dixon line know all too well.

"The South will rise again."

Only in the last few years have we seen a glimpse of this trend on the national stage with any regularity. Now we are seeing a large movement with principles coming from the old ways of the South. I'm speaking, of course, of the current Republican Party, but the Tea Party movement has benefited from these sentiments more than any other faction of the Conservative base.

A few of these signs rest in plain sight. The voting pattern in the 2008 election which put Barack Obama in office clearly had a slant towards McCain in southern states. The overwhelming caucasian demographic of the Republican party is another trend hiding in plain sight.

Let me toss out a few more.

The Tea Party movement specifically refers to their organized approach as a revolution. In recent history, there have never been more threatening words towards our own government by a group of people this large. They feel that as a party and as a people, they are at war.

Along the same lines, members of this particular flavor of the Conservative base feel as though it is their duty to take "their" country back. Let's set aside the fact that the 2008 election was democratic in nature and Obama ended up in the White House as a result of this democratic system. Let's set aside the fact that Americans are Americans, whether they sit Left, Right, or Center. Let's even set aside the possibility that many want to "take their country back" from a black man (who isn't completely black, but a mixed-race individual). There exists the same sort of southern "us against them" mentality which was around at the time of the Civil War. This North vs South thing is evident in the language chosen by the Tea Party movement.

These people are clinging to old ways. Whether it's a religious thing pertaining to gay marriage or a cultural thing related to race, people in the Tea Party movement are clamoring to return to the 50's. Suggesting that the notion is ridiculous by way of a question is simply asking the wrong question. I'll give you the answer. Yes, they do want the 50's. Why? "Simpler times." To a small town local yokel, that kind of life resonates.

As discussed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, a speaker at the Tea Party convention suggested having to pass a civil literacy test in order to be able to vote. Instead of granting the rights of all citizens in this great country to vote, a test of this nature has been used specifically to prohibit any black person from having a voice in any election. The test wasn't designed so that the uninformed were not allowed to vote, a notion admittedly present in the minds of many Liberals after W was elected when dumb shits were clearly to blame. While I understand the sentiment, that is not the nation of ideals we were founded on. The literacy test was designed as a form of selection, allowing certain people (white) to vote and others (black) denied. The suggestion to use a literacy test in any form is simply wrong.

The Secessionist movement, or perhaps simply the sentiment, is rooted in the same mentality of southern pride. Even the notion of "Big Government" is related to this idea that the South has this unspoken sovereign power to withstand the northern influence.

Even gun ownership has its own flavor of southern spice. There is a very apparent preparedness of gun toting rednecks to take up arms in some grand stand against the government. The only way you'd know about this sentiment is if you spend any time living in the South or take some time out of your day reading posts online by rednecks who own guns. They are under the impression that since Liberals are for gun control, it would be a quick battle since they, as rednecks, have all the guns. I'd hate to be the bearer of bad news, but gun owners come from many different backgrounds. I can shoot. Rachel Maddow can shoot. If you come shooting, rest assured, there will be people ready to shoot back.

Whether it's elite vs middle of the country, white vs minority (a statistic that will change soon given the growing hispanic population), redneck vs city folk, or Liberal vs Conservative, all show signs of the South rising again.

Anyone who lives outside of the South who enjoys their way of life should be afraid of this movement. Anyone supporting the Tea Party movement should make themselves aware of the language they choose to use among its followers. Such a violent sentiment will rip our nation apart and leave both our economy and infrastructure in ruins. While the Right has a very paranoid element to it, I admit that this post has a paranoid quality to it as well. I'm sad to say that the language on the Right is more pronounced than what you might think and the reality of a revolution in a violent form is a distinct possibility.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bible Babble In Schools? A Literary Take

Headline News reported on a story pertaining to teaching the Bible in Tennessee schools. Organizations like the ACLU have a concern that this is an attempt to inject religion into our public schools. As illustrated by a commenter on Facebook, this assertion is not far from the truth as the comment clearly leaned toward the desire to inject God into every day life. While the course is an elective, you just never know how it will be implemented. Even as an elective, funding for such a course still comes from taxpayer dollars. Any way you slice it, there appears to be an immersion between church and state, two things that should remain separate in our education system.

This issue is a complex one and when discussed, typically becomes an argument between believers and non-believers. That is a lesson in futility I choose not to entertain in this post. I won't waste my time highlighting who is the more rational member in this discussion. I already know which one is. I'll approach this debate from another direction.

High school courses are meant to lay the foundation for what you become in life. Whether you decide to dive head first into the job market or continue on to higher education, that foundation should provide you with the necessary skills to continue on either path. High school courses should be geared towards college and the work force. Courses like math, english, literature, and science should be at the forefront of our children's minds in high school. They are our future and unless they get a solid footing in these subjects, they will find it incredibly difficult to compete in todays job market. A class examining the Bible regardless of the intent will offer no added benefit in this regard.

If a course on the Bible should be taught, there is only one way it should be approached. A teacher well versed in literature should offer a curriculum which revolves around the literary analysis of the writing in the Bible, not a Faith based course praising the existence of a higher power. All the symbolism and literary style that went into writing the Bible is well known to theologians. If anything, a literary approach to the Bible would erode away at the evangelical movement, not accentuate it. In my own experience, very few who take the Bible literally have the patience to listen to me ramble on about writing styles present in religious texts such as the Bible. From a literature perspective, the Bible is nothing more than a collection of short stories. From just such a standpoint, familiarizing yourself with these stories is no different than acquainting yourself with the works of Henry David Thoreau or Robert Frost. Granted, Thoreau and Frost blow the Bible out of the water in terms of literary depth, but it's still literature. Those of us who do not take literature literally to the same extent evangelicals do the Bible take no issue with writings of many different backgrounds. Ah, but that's assuming people behind the movement pushing the Bible into our education system want a literature course, not a Bible study class, something that should be left in church.

So where does that leave me on this subject?

Save the Bible analysis until college. I took a course covering the Old Testament in college because in addition to a six credit philosophy requirement, I also had to knock out six credits of theology. It was a Catholic university, after all. That knowledge has fallen on deaf ears when discussed among religious zealots like evangelical Christians. That knowledge means absolutely nothing to them, yet as someone who is fond of literature, the twists and turns of how the Bible was written remains interesting from both historical and cultural perspectives. From a scholarly standpoint, even the most shrewd Atheist should respect the text even as a non-believer.

Whether you're someone who wants more Jesus in your life or a literary aficionado raring to acquire knowledge that allows you to criticize religion, a course like this will be of some benefit, but only if taught as a literature course, not something Faith-based designed to spread the "Good Word." Still, this is not something that should be taught to young minds preparing for college and the real world. Religious studies really require a certain level of critical thinking, something our young minds in high school should acquire first and use at the college level to expand those horizons.

My final say: Keep it in church, in private schools with religious affiliations, and at the college level. Want to take a useful elective in high school? How about a foreign language? Music? Theatre? Even a computer class would serve you better than an entire course about the Bible.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Show me right wingers aren't indoctrinated crazy people

One subject that is often present in the disgusting political debate of late is the notion that our opposition has been indoctrinated or brainwashed. When you see this kind of approach, back away slowly and leave the discussion. The person you're talking to has no intention of finding resolution. They want to be right. They want to be heard. They want to argue.

If you take a look at the tent hanging over each political ideology, you'll notice the one covering the Left is much larger than that which covers the Right. While the political spectrum is agreeably much more diverse, it's clear to me that lines have been drawn. What's even more striking is how those on one side of the line believe in all of the same things while variation rules on the other side.

That leads me to one very direct conclusion.

There are very few independent thinkers on the Right.

Pick any major issue plaguing our country at the moment, whether it is a fiscal or social problem. Now run down the list of everything that is stereotypically considered Republican. Now tell me how many Republicans or "true" Conservatives you've talked to who deviate from the stereotypical stance.

Likely none.

Let's run down the list.

On social issues like gay marriage and abortion, unless you consider yourself a Libertarian, there's a damn good chance you're going to be against both come Hell or high water. Why can't we find Republicans in great numbers who differ on these two major issues? No independent thought.

On health care reform, global warming and climate change, the environment, gun rights, animal rights, creationism vs evolution, and use of military force, if you're a Republican, it seems like there is only one acceptable answer with regard to any of these issues. No? Find me some Republicans who deviate from the herd mentality. Yeah. Find me some. I dare you.

Declaring yourself an Independent does not make you an independent thinker. It just makes you someone who doesn't want the label of a political party, yet you still follow rank and file opposition to anything left of center. It does not make you an independent thinker by claiming you're immune to Liberal indoctrination. Prove me wrong. Show me where you deviate from the issues I've listed only moments ago.

The ones who deviate from the batshit crazy people are more likely to be Libertarians and moderates.

Make the same comparison to those sitting on the Left.

On health care reform, there are differing opinions on whether we should have a single payer system or a public option. On climate change, there are people who insist we go completely green while others recognize various necessary evils. With regard to gun laws, the Left has people who are completely against guns altogether and others who understand we need to regulate, but not ban firearms. On the environment, you have people on the Left who strap themselves to trees and people who simply go out and plant more trees. On gay marriage, some on the Left are very socially conservative and many others openly accept homosexuals and desire to grant them the same right to misery in marriage the rest of us have been given. On abortion, there are both pro-life and pro-choice folks.

The Left is a much more diverse population which suggests some level of independent thought, not indoctrination. On the Right, there is a finite list of must-haves that few deviate from. That suggests sociological factors which lead to a herd mentality. There are clear signs as to whether or not you sound like one of the batshit crazy Conservatives. Deny your insanity if you must, but you aren't going to be able to dispute my accusation that you've been indoctrinated if everything you believe in is the same as every other Republican or conservative standing next to you at a town hall meeting or commenting on your blog.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On Distracted Driving Legislation

The legislation related to "Distracted Driving" currently sits in committee. I'm primarily writing this post to first voice my opposition to such legislation, but also to make it clear both Democrats and Republicans are cosponsoring the proposed legislation.

While I understand the risk for having an accident has been shown to be increased while texting or talking on a cell phone, I, like many others, find serious faults in the rationale of the group spearheading the movement. One cannot use drunk driving as a direct comparison to advance the cause. A call on a cell phone may impair, but not always. Alcohol most definitely will impair someone's ability. Proponents speaking out on national television also assume that a vehicle is a deadly weapon when, in a legal sense, a vehicle really isn't viewed as a deadly weapon until AFTER something has happened.

Another problem with this push rests in enforcement of the law. Targeting cell phone use, while admittedly a difficult task by officers, is still a form of selective enforcement. Those eating, singing to music, audiobooks, or podcasts, fiddling with the radio, mp3 player, GPS, child, or any other distraction in the vehicle will not be included, yet all will increase the risk of having an accident. The inevitable question to ask is "Where does it end?"

A third problem with this push involves enforcement via GPS. An idea has been proposed to allow GPS based systems to prevent drivers from making or receiving calls while driving. While this will indeed cut down on phone usage while driving, the rights of passengers to make a call or text falls under question. This GPS system would undoubtedly prevent anyone else in the vehicle from making a call or sending a text message. They aren't driving. They can behave as distracted as they please. Having a passenger make the call or send the text is a responsible alternative. You also infringe on the freedoms of a passenger whose phone call or text probably has very little to do with matters of conveyance.

Proponents of limiting mobile phone use while driving claim no phone call is worth someone's life. I would argue that there have been times when I needed to contact someone who was driving over matters of both life and death as well as patient care. I've also had circumstances where an immediate decision was required and I did not have the information necessary to make that decision without the input from a third party who was on the road. While not life or death, it was a situation requiring an urgent answer that could not wait until the person stopped driving. It leaves me wondering if there are calls that should be allowed. We cannot legislate or enforce anything of that scale.

Lastly, as an advocate of technological advancement, legislation like this will impede development of communication technologies as we know it. The drive for better mobile networks, interactive electronics, and technological integration into our lives in part, comes from those devices we use in our vehicles.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't condone unsafe driving behavior. I am willing to support legislation prohibiting texting while driving. Calling is a whole different can of worms. Texting just hasn't taken hold like it has in other countries. That being said, I'd love to find some stats on driving and mobile phone use in England, for example, where texting caught on faster than it did here. Where do you think I learned to text in the first place?

The second point to make I direct towards conservatives who assume that this is some sort of liberal attempt to cram something down our throats. There are Republicans cosponsoring the legislation sitting in committee.

Senate: Distracted Driving Act of 2009
Sen. John Rockefeller [D-WV]
Robert Casey [D-PA]
Kay Hutchison [R-TX]
Amy Klobuchar [D-MN]
Frank Lautenberg [D-NJ]
Bill Nelson [D-FL]
Charles Schumer [D-NY]
John Thune [R-SD]
David Vitter [R-LA]
Mark Warner [D-VA]

House: Distracted Driving Act of 2009
Rep. Eliot Engel [D-NY17]
Jean Schmidt [R-OH2]