seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Politics & Religion

Thoughts on the two - frequently both.

Frontline: Bush's War

Months ago, I watched PBS's Frontline series called "Bush's War." I meant to put up a well thought-out post, discussing the insanity of the last 7 years since 9/11 when the Bush Administration and Congress began wetting the bed each night due to fears of terrorists.

This series offers many insights into the war and how the Bush Administration made the worst foreign policy decisions in the history of this country. And I might note that this never should have happened - the Republican Congress, aided by Democrats, refused to honor the Constitution and simply allowed BushCo to do whatever they wanted sans oversight.

You can watch the entire series online - and more. Please do. The first amendment is meaningless if citizens refuse to educate themselves and take advantage of these investigations.

A final note - the same people who have steadfastly refuse to admit that anything was going wrong in Iraq are now telling us that everything is better. It isn't. And Afghanistan is heating up. Just because Iraq is no longer on the nightly news does not mean we can now ignore it.

The next administration had better investigate the hell out of Bush and friends.


Historically, laws relating to things like obscenity have skirted first amendment concerns by using "community standards" to decide when something is beyond the pale and receives less legal protection.

But how does one know what community standards are? Is it what people confess to or what they really do when they think no one is watching? Well, Google is ALWAYS watching - if you are someone like me who has traded privacy for the stunning array of services that google offers.

So, can a court use a community's search history to decide what community standards are?

I hope so - because the community standards are traditionally defined by what people would admit to in church, not what they really do. If people really admitted to what they do in private, you would know that outrage against things like pornography is largely theatre.

Jihadism Kills Itself

Fareed Zakaria explains why Islamic terrorists have literally killed their own support.

The Simon Fraser study notes that the decline in terrorism appears to be caused by many factors, among them successful counterterrorism operations in dozens of countries and infighting among terror groups. But the most significant, in the study's view, is the "extraordinary drop in support for Islamist terror organizations in the Muslim world over the past five years." These are largely self-inflicted wounds. The more people are exposed to the jihadists' tactics and world view, the less they support them.

The situation is an obvious result to the trend of terrorism. These people ultimately offer no vision for the future and cannot succeed in the long term. Another reason the overreaction of Bush and the roll-over and play-dead Congress is really really bad.

Obama Flag Pin

Thanks to Russell for this email forward that sets the record straight on Obama - or as I like to think of him, Chuck Norris with a deep tan and functional brain.

There are many things people do not know about BARACK OBAMA. It is every American's duty to read this message and pass it along to all of their friends and loved ones.

Barack Obama wears a FLAG PIN at all times. Even in the shower.

Barack Obama says the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE every time he sees an American flag. He also ends every sentence by saying, "WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL." Click here for video of Obama quietly mouthing the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE in his sleep.

Every weekend, Barack and Michelle take their daughters HUNTING.

Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.

Read them all at the Slate

McCain Full of it on Budget

For most of my life, I have heard Republicans and self-proclaimed conservatives railing against government spending and blaming the left for the majority of it. Despite the fact that Republicans have been in control of the Executive Branch for most of my life, they are somehow credited with fiscal conservativism. Clinton's administration was probably the most fiscally responsible during my years whereas Bush and the Republican controlled Congress were the worst, but Dems still have this reputation.

The 11 June, 2008, issue of The New Republic features an editorial that reveals McCain's Budgetary Bullshit.

Actually, McCain is following the pattern of not just Bush but every Republican president since Ronald Reagan. Phase One is to enact tax cuts and promise that they'll cause revenues to rise, or will cause revenues to fall (leading to spending cuts), or somehow both at once, so, either way, there's no possibility that it will lead to deficits. Phase Two is deficits. Phase Three is to blame the deficits on big-spending congressional fat cats and to issue increasingly strident threats to cut expenditures, without going so far as to identify actual programs to cut.

The article is short, easily accessible by everyone, and even features some snarkiness:

McCain is promising to cut taxes by $300 billion per year on top of the Bush tax cuts, which he would make permanent. In addition to this, he promises to balance the budget in his first term. When asked how he could possibly pull this off, McCain has asserted that he could eliminate all earmark spending, saving $100 billion per year.

I don't find this explanation persuasive. The first point I'd make is that $100 billion is, in fact, less than $300 billion. The second point I'd make is that McCain won't even cut $100 billion, or anywhere close.

Lessig - Change Congress

I started the National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR) on Friday and have been doing a lot of tweeting about it. Fortunately, it was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center so I did not have to travel far.

I was there mostly in a work capacity - speaking on a panel and meeting lots of people I have been reading about as we push for more community networks. The panel I was on went remarkably well - I got the sense that we spoke to what the audience wanted to hear, so that is a good feeling.

Larry Lessig gave a terrific presentation to kick off Friday morning's events. Lessig has done amazing work on copyright issues, trying to restore the balance between the interests of content creators (like me) and society at large (including me). Disney, a company that may never have made a movie it did not steal from the public domain is responsible for destroying that balance, making sure its products do not fall into public domain as the Founding Fathers intended.

At any rate, Lessig has decided before we make any progress in areas like this, we have to deal with changing Washington. This is an incredibly important campaign - perhaps _the_ campaign we need to push right now. Obama is a good start, but a single candidate will not go far enough. Take a few minutes to watch this important video:

More Change Congress videos here

Media Reform

I've been at the National Conference for Media Reform and loving it. Bill Moyers addressed us this morning - I'll be writing more about the conference soon.

It's (not) Over! Hillary's Ego Expands; Threatens Universe

Never assume you cannot get more annoyed at a Clinton. I thought Andrew Sullivan summed it up:

The speech tonight was a remarkable one for a candidate who has lost the nomination, though not remarkable for a Clinton. It was an assertion that she had won the nomination and a refusal to concede anything to her opponent. Classless, graceless, shameless, relentless. Pure Clinton.

Hillary's supporters rail on a sexist media. Maybe some are sexist, but I wonder how many of them have given her a pass on her slash-and-burn strategy long after it was clear she could not win. I cannot imagine the cries of sexism if the roles were reversed and Obama - a black man - had the temerity to attempt, over and over again, to derail the campaign of the first woman nominated to run for President and demanded to be #2 on the ticket just cuz.

Oil Grandstanding

(or how I stopped caring about the profits of oil companies)

Every time I hear someone (usually liberals, bless their hearts) blame oil company profits for the high cost of oil, I want to rip the wings off a butterfly. Politicians love grandstanding on it - grilling these execs as though it will reduce the price at the pump.

Meanwhile, conservatives are trying to blame environmentalists for the lack of spare refining capacity - but I don't see any of those Republicans moving downwind of one (even with the enviro regs we have pushed over their objections).

High oil prices hurt. It is like burning yourself on the stove. Short term pain for long term gain. You learn a lesson. In the larger sense, Americans need to learn to be more efficient with fossil fuels. We could have learned it decades ago, but we chose to be irresponsible instead, hoping that prices would always stay low - which may be as naive as hoping Republicans won't hit on you in the bathroom.

Back to the point - oil prices are high because there is a fixed amount and LOTS of people want it. It takes a decade to really increase the supply on the market, which means when demand suddenly accelerates, the cost must go up (to make sure what is available goes only to those who really want to pay for it).

Executive pay has nothing to do with it. Oil companies are making insane profits. If they were forced to lower prices, we would see shortages. How pissed off would you be when rolling up to empty gas stations? Want to drive another 10 miles to find a gas station with gas?

There is another factor - one I am pissed I do not see enough taking seriously. The cost of oil has doubled in Euros but quadrupled in dollars. This is because the dollar has dropped significantly in value. The Bush Administration has thoroughly trashed this country - and the Republican nominee (McCain) admits he knows nothing about the economy.

Great. And he'll probably be elected because he wants to put women back in their place, encouraging the government to make decisions about their body if they become pregnant. And the people that elect him will continue bitching about tax-and-spend liberals while chickenhawk Republicans borrow to fight stupid wars around the planet and liberals bitch about oil companies.

Thank you Chris Matthews

Ansver dat!

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