Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fluff For the Holidays Pt. 2



Merry Christmas, happy holidays.








Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Misinformer of the Year

Media Matters names their Misinformer of the Year.

"No one in 2009 peddled more hate, stirred more groundless fears, or spread more lies".


Some fluff for the holidays

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Keith Olbermann vs Conservative Media

Olbermann single handedly takes on pretty much every conservative pundit.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kill the bill?

The fight for health care has erupted in to total chaos. No one even seems to know what side they are on or what they are fighting for anymore. A growing force on the left is saying the bill has been hijacked by insurance companies and unfairly held hostage by Joe Lieberman, and argues that without the public option or medicare buy-in, the bill doesn't work the same and isn't worth passing.

Keith Olbermann fuming over the current state of health reform. Pleads with Obama to take action:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy





Howard Dean opposes the current health care bill-

"If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers' monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these."


Read his full argument-

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/16/AR2009121601906.html



White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs hit back on Howard Dean's assessment-

(From the Huffington Post)

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs strongly hit back at former DNC Chairman Howard Dean for criticizing the Senate health care bill, suggesting, at one point, that Dean was being irrational and didn't understand the contents of the legislation.

"I don't know what piece of legislation he is reading," said Gibbs.

"I would ask Dr. Dean, how better do you address those who don't have insurance: passing a bill that will cover 30 million who don't currently have it or killing the bill?" he added. "I don't think any rational person would say killing the bill makes a whole lot of sense at this point."

Asked if Dean was acting irrationally, Gibbs replied: "I can't tell what his motives are, to be honest with you."

(Read more)-
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/16/gibbs-lashes-back-at-dean_n_394596.html


Nate Silver's analysis of the current Senate health care proposal. He welcomes criticism of the numbers.




Read how he came up with the numbers here-
http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/12/why-progressives-are-batshit-crazy-to.html


As if health care reform wasn't enough of a war zone already.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Terminator Now (Pt. 2)




The breakthroughs in robotics are not limited to ground warfare. While the Navy has invested in to the technology, mainly in the realm of artificial intelligence for defense systems, it is the air force that has perhaps vested the most interest in to the field. The Predator, a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) or drone plane, has been in operational use since the late 1990s.

As the technology has advanced, so has the military’s dependence on it. As of March 2009 there were a reported 195 Predators in the Air Force’s arsenal. Another report shows Predators firing missiles 244 times in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2007 and 2008. (Wikipedia) In 2009, President Obama cancelled funding for the overpriced and impractical F-22 fighter jet, and approved the Unmanned Aerial System Flight Plan, which places a heavier focus on the development of unmanned aircrafts. At $4.5 million, one could buy eighty-five Predators for the cost of one of the F-22 jets. (Singer, Wired for War)

A lot of people are at least aware of the existence of the Predator drone planes. These twenty-seven feet long, 1,130 pound planes are known as UAVs. (Singer, Wired for War) This means that the plane is pilot less and is flown by a “pilot”, usually on the other side of the ocean, via satellite communication. In his book, Wired for War, P.W. Singer likens the control panels for the drone planes to an arcade video game. After a day in one of these consoles, flying a satellite controlled robotic plane over the mountains of Afghanistan and attacking enemy targets, the “pilot” gets to go home and have dinner with his family around the kitchen table.

There are other advantages to having a plane without a pilot. The Predator can spend twenty-four hours in the air, at heights of twenty-six thousand feet, before it needs to refuel. (Singer, Wired for War) It goes without saying that would be impossible with a human pilot, who needs to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. Also, the controller receives satellite imagery from cameras attached to the plane that can see through clouds, smoke, and dust, something a human pilot would not be able to do. Since the Predator was originally created for surveillance, the cameras can also reportedly identify something as small as a license plate from two miles up.

The Predator is now one of the most lethal tools in the militaries arsenal. Although designed as a surveillance plane, Predators are now armed with laser-guided Hellfire missiles. The general populace started becoming familiar with Predators after some high profile attacks on the Pakistan border in 2008, but the truth is that as far back as between June 2005 and June 2006 Predators carried out a reported 2,073 missions, flew 33,833 hours, and surveyed 18,490 targets. (Singer, Wired for War) As noted before, the Air Force has been drifting towards the unmanned approach for some time.

The Predator has received some press and is more widely known than anything else in its robotics family currently on the battlefield. The Global Hawk, affectionately referred to as the Predator’s big brother, has stayed surprisingly in the shadows for something so big. The Hawk is forty feet long and is used to patrol entire regions of land, not just particular targets like the Predator. The Hawk flies autonomously after being put on a set course, which basically means it flies itself and doesn’t even have a pilot in an arcade console controlling it. It can stay in the air for up to thirty-five hours at altitudes of sixty-five thousand feet so the Global Hawk primarily serves the purpose of surveillance. (Singer, Wired for War) Think of it as the equivalent of the Star Destroyers in the Star Wars films, with the Predators being the smaller and more numerous TIE Fighters.

The Predators are not the smallest drone in the robotics chain though. There are UAVs even smaller that are launched and controlled by soldiers on the ground. One of these is the Shadow, which is about the size of a model airplane. The Shadow is used almost exclusively to patrol neighborhood sized areas. Its noisy nature, due to its propeller flying system, makes it incapable of being used for stealth surveillance missions.

For those missions that the Shadow cannot do, there is the Raven. The Raven is thirty-eight inches long, weighs four pounds and can fly for ninety minutes at up to four hundred feet. (Singer, Wired for War) In addition to being used for stealth surveillance on the ground, the Raven is also ideal for ground soldiers because it can be used to see over hills, walls, or buildings that may be obstructing their view. In effect, the ground military now has its own air support.

This is the present state of the robotic revolution. These wonders of technology that were once confined to the pages of science fiction are now being used daily on the battlefield and in civilian homes. Whether they are fighting our wars or cleaning our pools, the age of robots has arrived. But this is all just the beginning.

The peak, the ultimate goal, of robotic research is the sentient humanoid robot. These robots will be much like the ones in movies like Terminator, capable of independent thought and decision making, and humanoid in form and action. Steps towards this evolution have already been made. For years, iRobot has been researching animatronic facial expressions and responsive and expressive robotic software. (Wikipedia) In addition, scientists have been working on complicated networks of software with intricate ethic and judgment systems. The age of Terminators may be a lot closer than anyone realizes.

Another much talked about robot of the future is the Wasp. The Wasp, sometimes described to be a mini metallic robot beetle and other times a robotic moth, is the pinnacle of stealth surveillance technology. These tiny bug sized robots carry microscopic cameras and would (ideally) be completely silent; the literal fly on the wall.

All of this, these limitless possibilities of robotic technology, is where the questions of ethics begin to arise. Should robots be able to make decisions on their own? Should we license them to be able to make life or death decisions? Is the microscopic camera robot too much? In 2008, there were reports of several sightings of these “Wasp” spy robots at political events; claims that are widely regarded to be paranoid conspiracy babble, but it does put in to perspective the terrifying prospect of the power of such tools.

Ultimately, humans have nothing to fear from the robot revolution, except for maybe the prospect of the complete deficit of self sufficiency. All technological revolutions bring about their own problems, questions, and obstacles. Inevitably, they are always exaggerated and inflated by the human race’s crippling fear of change. The technology and lack of responsibility already exist in the world’s atomic bomb supplies to destroy this planet ten times over. Comparatively, what threats do robots pose?

For even though there are legitimate and sizable complications in the transition to a robotic age, it will always be us humans in control of the direction of progress. The biggest fear in some circles is that al-Qaeda, or any enemy organization, could disable and capture a robot and then reprogram it to work under their orders. Already, the human race is its own biggest obstacle and enemy in this new field of development. When the Terminator arrives, it may just be that it has more to fear from us than we ever could from it.



Sources
Antal, J. (2009, July). I Fight the Body Electric! . Military Technology
Engdahl, S. (2008). Artificial Intelligence. Contemporary Issues Companion
Knight, G. (2009, March). March of the Terminators. Daily Mail (London)
Singer, P. (2009). Wired for War. Penguin Pr.

iRobot. Wikipedia. Retrieved (2009, December ) from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irobot

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Terminator Now (Pt. 1 of 2)




Abstract

I decided to write “Terminator Now” because I feel that the advancement of robotic technology has been neglected by the mainstream media, and as a consequence there are many who are totally oblivious to what is happening in the field. Robots and autonomous technology are the future of military conflict. We are right now only in the beginning stages of this transition, and it is important these breakthroughs don’t sneak up on us. I have tried to concentrate primarily on technology already in use or in development. The rise of the robots is inevitable, so what actions we as humans take is really inconsequential. My purpose in this writing has simply been to inform on the subject so that the reader can begin to anticipate and better prepare for this new age.


Terminator Now

To the general populace, the current wave of military technology developing in all three branches of the United States military is the stuff only possible in science fiction. Most of the million dollar contracts currently funded by the Pentagon are invested in technologies straight out of the Terminator movie series or a H.G. Wells novel. It has been dubbed the era of “robots at war”. The future is here.

When the tank and the bomber plane made their debut they seemed like works of fantasy; strange, alien inventions of a new age. Today too the breakthroughs occurring in military test fields and scientific labs seem to be the work of fiction. Artificial intelligence programs capable of making decisions through complex software judgment systems; Robotic planes equipped with missiles and state of the art surveillance technology that are controlled by pilots on the other side of the world via satellite controls; Soldier droids that can be equipped with machine guns and grenade launchers. The age of robots arrived without anyone even realizing it.

The Prometheus of robotic technology is a company by the name of iRobot. (The company was named after the book “I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov, which was recently adapted in to a Will Smith movie). iRobot was founded in 1990 by Rodney Brooks, Colin Angle and Helen Greiner who were all students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. iRobot originated with several small government contracts and to make service robots for individual sale on the public market. The Roomba, an autonomous vacuum cleaner robot was their most successful model. A range of robots for other home chores such as the Looj, a gutter cleaning robot, and the Verro, a swimming pool cleaning robot, soon followed.


It didn’t take long for the military to begin aggressively funding research at iRobot. In 1998 iRobot formed a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Soon after, what is perhaps at this time the world’s most famous robot, the PackBot, would appear.

The PackBot weighs forty-two pounds and, in the words of P.W. Singer, is about the size of a lawnmower. It is controlled via remote control, and in some instances have even been controlled using rigged Playstation and Xbox video game controllers. The PackBot essentially looks like a small metal box with tank treads on either side, and with two large metal poles on top, one with a camera attached, and another with a “gripper” hand. The tank treads are made of a special polymer patented by iRobot that allow it to travel over rocks, snow, mud, and even under water while moving at speeds of up to five miles per hour.

Most critically, the PackBot has eight payload bays and hookups that allow for interchangeable tools such as a mine detector or chemical weapon sensor. (Singer, Wired for War) The PackBot has been serving the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, primarily by disarming IEDs (improvised explosive device) in the war on terror. However, there are already reports of the robots being field rigged, with everything from claymore mines to a shotgun, to be the first combat robot model.

One PackBot costs about $150,000, which may sound like a lot, but is significantly cheaper than the costs that go in to training and then caring for a human soldier to do some of the same jobs. (Singer, Wired for War) Of course, there is also the obvious benefit of being able to send a robot in to a possible danger area to disarm an explosive than a human soldier. The military also obviously realizes these benefits as evidenced in the $286 million dollar contract awarded to iRobot in 2008.

iRobot is not the only company making history through robotic invention. Foster-Miller, a perhaps better known name due to the diversity in their products, has been providing for the military for almost as long. The company has essentially its own version of the PackBot, called the Talon, but its true gem is the SWORDS (for Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System), the robot that could be called the first Terminator.

The SWORDS is not a humanoid android robot, it essentially looks like a little tank. It is, however, the first robot created specifically for combat. In place of a gripper like on the PackBot, the SWORDS has a gun mount. Everything from a M-16 to an antitank rocket launcher can be equipped to the mount in less than a minute.

Unlike the PackBot, which has a small amount of artificial intelligence, the SWORDS can only be operated through manual control via remote. Still, the robot interface has its advantages. In addition to not endangering the troops operating it, the SWORDS is a lethal sucker. In military tests, the SWORDS hit the bull’s-eye seventy out of seventy times. For everything it can do, at $230,000 per unit, the SWORDS seem like a bargain. (Singer, Wired for War)

To be continued...


(Not much of a cliffhanger, I know, but I wrote this as a paper for school, not a blog)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Religious Leaders Protest Beck

Church groups were upset at Beck's use of Christian imagery and
Christmas as a way to disseminate what they call his largely hateful
message. They believe the way Beck addresses women, people of color and
immigrants is incompatible with the Christian ethic.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Way Forward in Afghanistan



Sorry, my (most) liberal friends: I support the President's decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Yes, I am aware that we have been there for over eight years. Yes, it is true that al-Qaeda is mainly based in Pakistan. Yes, it is also true that Afghanistan has never been (and can never be) a fully functioning democratic nation state. And yes, our "partners", the Afghanistan government run by Karzai, could not possibly be any more corrupt or worthless.

But no, none of that is reason enough to risk a premature withdraw from the region, if for nothing else but for security's sake. I don't care what Michael Moore says. Afghanistan started as a war of necessity, after the attacks on 9/11 by al-Qadea who were based in Afghanistan at the time. It is true that they might be primarily based in Pakistan now, but they continue to launch attacks and have influence in Afghanistan. If we left now, you can bet they would regain control of the already destabilized region before anybody even knew better.

What I think is interesting is the political fall out of the President's approach. For once, in the first time since the Inauguration, the Republicans are actually vocally standing behind the President and supporting him. (Except for the vampire Dick Cheney who apparently operates on an island of his own).

In contrast, it is now the Democrats losing their heads and grumbling about the next election cycle. That is even after Obama threw the left a bone by announcing a withdraw plan for Afghanistan beginning in 2011 (so for accuracy sake, the plan is a temporary surge followed by a timed withdraw). All I have to say to these Dems, is if the President has a plan to start getting us out of the region in 2011 (which will be about the 10 year mark in the war), why not just let him and the generals have the troops they think they need to do it? Honestly, don't pretend like you know more about strategic military decisions than the people at the top of the chain of command. Remember when Cheney accused Obama of "dithering?" The President spent weeks, almost months, on this decision. It was not made lightly. There were debates and deliberations between some of the sharpest minds of these subjects the entire time. There is something in this plan for both sides. A troop increase for Republicans and a timed withdraw for Democrats. So far there has been a lot bigger of a fuss on the left.

It just goes back to the saying that in politics, when you drive down the middle of the road you get hit by traffic on both sides.

In short, I support the troop increase because I think our attention and focus has been negligent in Afghanistan since pretty much the start of the Iraq war and needs to be made up for. I support the timed withdraw, because we should not be occupying Afghanistan, or trying to turn it in to something it can never be (a fully functioning democratic nation state). And hopefully, as the idea goes, the time line will make not only our only military actions more efficient, but make our partners in the Afghanistan government wake up and actually do something.

So for this blogger, another home run for President Obama.




*EDIT* Next day update: Republicans are suddenly turning against the President's plan in waves. Big surprise.

The American Conundrum




Bob Englehart. more here : http://blogs.courant.com/bob_englehart/

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's Wrong With Glenn Beck



The following is clipped from a conversation I was having with an ideological opponent, so if it seems short, crude, or incomplete, that is why. Still a good summary of my feelings on the subject:


...it is a sad testament to Beck that despite watching his show, having heard his radio show, and reading his book (Common Sense), I can't actually argue against any of his political positions, because he doesn't really have any, which is what my problem with him in short boils down to. He admits himself to being a rodeo clown entertainer, and if that is all he was worth, I wouldn't even care about him. Unfortunately, he presents himself and some perceive him to be a credible news source or a fair and legitimate pundit opinion.

Let me get to it with some examples-Beck is fond of saying that health care reform is a government take over, is going to lead to a socialized state, and is Obama's way of getting back at whites for slavery (yes, he actually said that), yet he presents NO ideas, alternatives, or solutions of his own. (This is where that party of "no" stuff comes in). Even if they don't agree how to do it, a majority of Americans support health care reform and recognize the system is broken. Steeping your speech in anti-government rhetoric and hate is not tantamount to offering a solution or alternative. The same goes for him on the bailouts and the stimulus, which he railed against, cried about, said all kinds of offensive and crazy things and generally lost his mind over without offering any ideas or alternative to how to save American jobs, companies, and savings. Just saying "no" or "less government" does not address or solve any of the problems facing President Obama and America. It's easy to sit on the side lines and shout how the plays should be done, anyone can do it. Doesn't mean it's worth anything. But in addition to having no ideas or substance, he is also just a hate-mongering, possible racist, that plays to and amps up people's irrational fear for his own selfish reasons of book sales and ratings. That is why I not only don't like Glenn Beck or agree with him on anything, I don't have any respect for him.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Beck on Palin

While talking about the possibility of being on Palin's ticket in the 2012 election on his radio show, Glenn Beck said:


"No, no I'm just saying -- Beck-Palin, I'll consider. But Palin-Beck -- can you imagine, can you imagine what an administration with the two of us would be like? What? Come on! She'd be yapping or something, and I'd say, "I'm sorry, why am I hearing your voice? I'm not in the kitchen."


Friday, November 27, 2009

Get the F*** Out




From the Huffingtonpost-

In a little-noticed blog post published on the White House website in September, President Obama's special counsel for ethics and government reform Norm Eisen announced that the administration no longer wanted federally-registered lobbyists appointed to agency advisory boards and commissions.

These appointees to boards and commissions, which are made by agencies and not the President, advise the federal government on a variety of policy areas. Keeping these advisory boards free of individuals who currently are registered federal lobbyists represents a dramatic change in the way business is done in Washington.


As has been reported, the President has made a commitment to close the revolving door that has in the past allowed lobbyists and others to move to and from full-time federal government service. In furtherance of this commitment, the President issued Executive Order 13490, which bars anyone appointed by the President who has been a federally-registered lobbyist within the past two years from working on particular matters or in the specific areas in which they lobbied or from serving in agencies they had lobbied. The aspiration we are announcing today builds on this commitment. While the letter of the President's Executive Order on Ethics does not apply to federally-registered lobbyists appointed by agency or department heads, the spirit does and we have conveyed that to the agencies who are responsible for these appointments.

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the move "may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama," resulting in "hundreds, if not thousands, of lobbyists" being ejected from federal advisory panels.

http://bit.ly/6qqQtH

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why People Love Sarah Palin



From New Left Media at http://www.newleftmedia.com

They also had this posted, in response to any potential criticism of partisanship:

THERE ARE UNINFORMED OBAMA SUPPORTERS, TOO
It has been said in comments that we would find similarly talking point-driven, substance-less supporters at an Obama rally, and we agree. But no politician has emerged on the national stage as ... See More undefined and unqualified as Sarah Palin, and her public persona--which is anti-intellectual by definition--discourages substance. Instead, we get winking. One could hardly imagine her giving a complex speech about race in America, or speaking eloquently about our country's relations with Islam. Not just because she couldn't write such a speech (Obama has speech-writers, of course) but because she wouldn't--such necessarily academic discussion is antithetical to the persona she's created for herself and that her supporters have come to love.

Are You Smarter Than a Politician?

Lou Dobbs is reportedly talking about running for the Senate, as an intermediate step to running for the White House. There has been talk about Glenn Beck running for office. Some still consider Sarah Palin a serious nominee.Has reality TV really already effected people's brains this much? You've always had to have a celebrity appeal, they call it charisma, to run for office. All three of them do. But you use to be required to actually know something too. Is everybody else as frightened by the prospect of having celebrity "face" politicians, who have a television smile, but literally know nothing more than what their advisers just briefed them on? I shudder for us, Facebook generation.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Open Letter To A Delusional Reader

From Mario Piperni, at www.mariopiperni.com

A reader from Tennessee writes in response to the current health care system.

“I have never in my 58 years of life known anyone first hand, or even second or third hand that has experienced the difficulties you mention. While I am certain there are exceptions, I don’t think it is nearly as rampant as the left/libs want us to think. I think a lot of the “hysteria” concerning shortcomings of the Health Care System are a healthy dose of “Chicken Little”.”

To him I say, check this link from a View from a Stall. (http://shar.es/aikXH) Former health insurance executive, Wendell Potter talked about dropping into…

“…a three-day charity program at a county fairgrounds to provide medical care for patients who could not afford doctors. Long lines of people were waiting in the rain, and patients were being examined and treated in public in stalls intended for livestock.”

You sit wherever the hell it is you sit surrounded by the possessions of your comfortable life and doubt that there is real suffering out there. You talk about “exceptions”. You try to make people who speak of the suffering and death caused by a broken health care system appear as if they are delusional and hysterical.

No, my friend, it is you who are not only delusional, but blind. I think you honestly believe your own words and that makes you the most dangerous and pathetic type of American. You believe that with some tinkering, whatever minor problems there might be within the current system, they would be fixed and everyone would shut up and stop complaining. You are one who judges everything by the manner in which they themselves are affected. If it isn’t raining over whatever part of Tennessee you’re at, then it just isn’t raining. Or, should someone convince you that it is indeed raining in California or New York, then you have no problem assigning blame to the individuals who are getting wet. It is their fault. It is always their fault.


Read more at mariopiperni.com

http://shar.es/aikX1

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Democrats Get It Done

I have to say, I am legitimately shocked and impressed. The Dems actually move the ball down the field.

In a way you can neither overstate or understate the importance of this vote. On one hand, yes, it was only a procedural vote that just allows the legislation to enter in to the real debate and actual vote. The Dems will still have to break another Republican filibuster attempt to close the debate. If they can do that, all they need is a simple majority vote (51), which they have easily.

But on the other hand, this is an effort that some critics have labeled dead for months. The Democrat's incompetence and impotence is something of legend. Three Democratic senators were on the fence until today. Republicans were in a full uniformed united effort to filibuster the bill and kill it before it reached the floor and could be debated on. Not a single Republican voted to allow the legislation to even reach the floor.

In the end, the Democrats secured all 58 members of their caucus and brought in both Independent votes to reach the needed 60 votes to break a filibuster. For now at least, our sometimes friend/ sometimes foe Joe Lieberman came through.

Good on you, Joe.




From CNN.com-

"Health care reform backers won a key victory Saturday night as the Senate voted to move ahead with a floor debate on a sweeping $848 billion bill.

The 60-39 vote to prevent a Republican filibuster against the start of debate on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's legislation broke down along strict party lines. All 58 Senate Democrats -- along with independent Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- supported bringing the measure to the floor.

Thirty-nine of the 40 Senate Republicans opposed the motion. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, didn't vote.

"Tonight's historic vote brings us one step closer to ending insurance company abuses, reining in spiraling health care costs, providing stability and security to those with health insurance and extending quality health coverage to those who lack it," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement."

http://shar.es/aiYWc

Friday, November 20, 2009

Senate Health Care Vote

Tomorrow there will be a vote on whether or not to allow the Senate Health Care Bill to move on to the Senate floor (where the real vote on the actual legislation takes place). Every single Republican senator is united in a filibuster attempt to block the legislation from even having a chance to be properly debated on.
(Why they are so afraid of a fair vote beats me).

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needs every Democrat in the Senate to be united in this vote tomorrow.

Call your senator, now!


And especially call if you have a Republican senator and let them know you are paying attention and not happy with their actions.


Organizing for America | BarackObama.com



"We're in the final sprint toward reform, and the next challenge is already here. It's critical for constituents to weigh in right away, and for senators to hear quickly and unmistakably: Move forward! Please call your senators now.


We need to thank those who have fought so hard to get us this far, and remind them all that their constituents support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and want a fair and honest debate without delay."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jon Stewart vs Lou Dobbs

While having some border line fringe positions, I don't think Dobbs is as bad off as a Beck or Hannity. While I believe Stewart is the clear winner, it was a good debate for both men. An important conversation.

Round One:
Exclusive - Lou Dobbs Extended Interview Pt. 1
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


Round Two:
Exclusive - Lou Dobbs Extended Interview Pt. 2
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


Round Three:

Exclusive - Lou Dobbs Extended Interview Pt. 3
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


Your winner, by TKO in the third round, Jon Stewart!

Gone Rogue

Daily Show: The Rogue Warrior
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Senate Health Care Reform Bill (Reid Delivers)



From CNN.com-

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled a sweeping health care bill Wednesday that would expand health insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans at an estimated cost of $849 billion over 10 years.

Reid and other Senate Democrats cited an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for the coverage and cost figures.

In addition, they said at a news conference, the budget office estimated that the proposal would reduce the federal deficit by $127 billion over the next 10 years and by more than $600 billion in the following decade.

Reid, D-Nevada, needs 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to overcome a certain GOP filibuster attempt and open the chamber's debate on the bill. It would take another 60 votes to close debate that could last for weeks, while final approval of the bill would only require a simple majority.

A public option with an optional state opt out is included in the bill.

President Obama's statement-

"From day one, our goal has been to enact legislation that offers stability and security to those who have insurance and affordable coverage to those who don't, and that lowers costs for families, businesses and governments across the country. The Senate proposal meets those principles."

Read more-
http://bit.ly/SY3Bz

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Going Rogue

Thought I would post this again in light of all the talk about Palin and her book.




Deeply funny stuff.

Monday, November 16, 2009

President Barack Obama at Town Hall in China

President Obama begins his prepared remarks at about the 9 minute mark. The really interesting part is when he starts the "town hall" question segment, at about the 25 minute mark, which (keep in mind this was broadcast on TV and the internet) is something that is unprecedented in heavily censored China. (In China, Facebook and Twitter along with many other sites are blocked on the internet by the government).



Read the prepared remarks here-

http://shar.es/az0a6

America Hates Immigrants!



Moves kind of slow at first but it's worth it. Funny stuff.

As an advisory, it's worth noting I don't actually share the sentiments of the "Anti-Columbus" crowd (I don't know if they even do or if it is just a symbolic protest), but think it's appropriate that the Anti-Immigration crowd got a taste of their own medicine. We are all immigrants to this land and it's not a nice feeling to have people accusing you of crime, disease, and the disintegration of communities while shouting for you to leave.

I saw this on http://www.brilliantatbreakfast.blogspot.com

Originally from http://www.idonthateamerica.com

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Copenhagen=Epic Preemptive Fail

From Time.com-


"Confirming doubts that had been growing for months, the world leaders in attendance at APEC... announced on Sunday morning that a legally binding deal on climate change would be impossible to achieve at the U.N. summit on global warming in Copenhagen next month.

Instead, in Copenhagen, diplomats will aim to reach a less aggressive — and much less specific — "politically binding" agreement, with the hope that hard numbers and legal obligations to reduce climate change would be added soon, in a two-step approach.

The reason is simple: the deadlock between developed nations and developing ones. Developing nations refuse most responsibility for climate change, arguing that warming is primarily the fault of rich industrialized countries, and want the developed world to take on strict short-term emissions reduction targets. Developed nations, led by the U.S., argue that fast-growing developing nations like China and India will emit the vast majority of future carbon emissions, and that any deal that exempts them from action — as the Kyoto Protocol did — is a farce. Despite months of negotiations in Barcelona, Bangkok and other world cities, that gap remains vast.



Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1939573,00.html#ixzz0WyoNGVhK


Epic fail.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

President Obama Speaks on the Future of U.S. Leadership in Asia Pacific Region

The Tea Party Hypocrisy

From a fellow liberal blog here on blogspot, Brilliant at Breakfast. http://www.brilliantatbreakfast.blogspot.com

"If you're a liberal and the President is a Republican, your protest is penned in a mile away from where the president is. If you're a teabagger and the President is a Democrat, you can take a loaded gun to the place where the president is appearing.

If you were a lefty activist in the 1960's and you advocated armed revolution, you might find yourself on an FBI watch list for the rest of your life and ended up going to jail for conspiracy. For that matter, if you are an adviser to the president and you ever used the "r" word, you're hounded out of your post by teabaggers. But if you're a conservative teabagger in 2009, you can advocate revolution and get paid millions of dollars by a corporation to use the public airwaves to do so. You can even be a United States Congresswoman."


Read the full blog-

Brilliant at Breakfast

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FOX News Is Full of Crap

If that hasn't been evidenced enough already, here is Jon Stewart blowing it open-


Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
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FOX News=opinion journalism masquerading as news.

Happy Veterans Day

Thanks and respect to those who have served and those who continue to serve America.

The Greatest Country


"According to a study released by the Harvard Medical School, 2,266 veterans under the age of 65 died last year as a result of not having health insurance. Researchers emphasize that "that figure is more than 14 times the number of deaths (155) suffered by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2008, and more than twice as many as have died (911 as of Oct. 31) since the war began in 2001."




http://bit.ly/38eaKl

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Congressional Steel Cage Match

The Men Who Stare at Votes
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Shit On Rupert Murdoch

Gay Marriage Should Not Be Legal

I originally saw this on http://www.brilliantatbreakfast.blogspot.com It is originally from http://www.modernfabulousity.blogspot.com


THE TOP TEN REASONS WHY GAY MARRIAGE SHOULD NOT BE LEGAL

1. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed, like many of the principles on which this great country was founded: women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of marriages like Britney Spears’ 55-hour, just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry, because our orphanages aren’t full yet and the world needs more children.

7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society, and we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Health Care Reform TODAY

"The House is poised to vote today on comprehensive health reform legislation — and we expect it to be very close. But with only hours left before the vote, the insurance industry and their allies are putting extraordinary pressure on every representative to defeat it.

So we need to make sure representatives' phones are ringing off the hook with constituents supporting reform."


Here is what you can do now-

Organizing for America | BarackObama.com



The website gives you the telephone number for your local representatives based off of your zip code, and even gives you some tips on what to say. Here is pretty much all that needs to be said-

"Hello, my name is __________ and I'm a constituent calling from __________ (city or town).

I'm calling to ask you to vote for the House health reform bill."


The official House health care bill-

http://shar.es/akHEc

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fort Hood

Thoughts are with the families and those others effected by the Fort Hood tragedy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Glenn Beck, go to hell




"Beck, you and the 9/12ers have the nerve to exploit 9/11 for your lousy TV raitings? You cannot make light of 9/11, nor bandy about as if your petty political grievances are comparable to it and still be an actual, patriotic American. In short, Glenn, 9/12ers, if you're invoking 9/11 just to oppose health care reform, go to hell."

Maher: Is this as good as it gets from Obama?

"It's still too early to lose hope in a guy as smart and talented as Barack Obama. But I would counsel him to remember: If you're going undercover to infiltrate how Washington works, so you become one of them for a while, to gain their confidence, well, it can be just like all those movies where a cop goes deep, deep, DEEP undercover with drug people and -- fuck, he's a drug addict, too!"


Read the full blog here-

http://bit.ly/NYmPT

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nov. 3rd Elections

If you've missed it, the big story in politics right now is the Republicans sweeping hotly contested elections for governor in New Jersey and Virginia. Republicans are, of course, claiming this is a referendum on the entire Obama agenda.


The Huffington Post-

"Conservative Republican Bob McDonnell's victory in the Virginia governor's race over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds and moderate Republican Chris Christie's ouster of unpopular New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine was a double-barreled triumph for a party looking to rebuild after being booted from power in national elections in 2006 and 2008."


Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/03/virginia-governors-race-2_n_344576.html

The Republicans won some governor positions. Congratulations. But as to this being a referendum on President Obama?


CBS News-

A majority of voters in both states said they are worried about the direction of the nation’s economy over the next year. 85 percent of Virginia voters said they are worried, as are 90 percent of voters in New Jersey. These percentages were similar on Election Day in 2008.

In both states the economy topped the list of issues that mattered most to voters in their choice for governor – in Virginia health care was second, while in New Jersey the second choice was property taxes.


Still, majorities of voters in both states (55 percent in Virginia and 60 percent in New Jersey) said President Obama was not a factor in their vote today. Those who said Mr. Obama was a factor in New Jersey divided as to whether their vote was a vote for the president (19 percent) or against him (20 percent). In Virginia, slightly fewer voters said their vote was for Mr. Obama (18 percent) than against him (24 percent).


http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/11/03/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5514455.shtml


Also, in other news, the so called Conservative candidate in the New York congressional race that forced the RNC endorsed Republican candidate out of the race lost to Democrat Bill Owens. The story was significant because after the Republican party officially endorsed the Republican candidate Dierdre Scozzafava, Sarah Palin went rogue and endorsed the Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman (the Conservative candidate was essentially a representative of the tea party factions, as it has been explained). After all the drama, the Democrat won anyway.


Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/03/bill-owens-leads-doug-hof_n_344776.html

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Obama: Dropping the ball?




For the record, I would be fine with a "trigger" or the state opt-out currently present in the Senate bill. I agree with Ed, however, that President Obama is not pushing hard enough for the public option or putting enough pressure on Republican legislators.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Democrats Suck Pt. 2

In the last minute, Jon Stewart nails why Democrats are incompetent gutless fools.

Public Option Limited
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What You Can Do For Health Care Reform NOW

The most important thing at this stage any one can do is to remind crucial members in the Senate that the public option is what America wants, and to put pressure on them by letting them know that we are watching where they stand on it.

Forget Olympia Snowe, she's a lost cause. Here are the people you need to email, at least once, to tell them you want the public option and you want them to support it-

(It doesn't matter AT ALL if they are not from your state. In fact, that is the point. To let these Senators know that all of America is watching their stance on this issue.)

(Do not be afraid to do this!!! Every representative has their contact information posted on their site for a reason-they are suppose to hear from the people. That is how they know how to do their job.)

Senator Joe Lieberman (Connecticut)-

http://shar.es/aqADp

If you are only going to contact one person, make it Senator Lieberman. He is the only Independent in the Senate, and with his vote all the Democrats would need to do is secure all of the Democratic seat votes. Today, Lieberman said he would join the GOP in a filibuster against the public option. Tell him that is not acceptable and the American public demands the public option.



Senator Evan Bayh (Indiana)-


http://bayh.senate.gov/contact/email/



Senator Ben Nelson (Nebraska)-


http://bennelson.senate.gov/email-issues.cfm



We have to do this. The fate of the public option is in the hands of these Senators, and without pressure saying that America wants the PO and is watching, they will probably be cowards and be content to duck away from the fight. Don't let them weasel out of this.

If you are unsure of what to say or are just shy, feel free to copy this message (it applies to all of them), that I wrote, especially for you:


"Dear Senator,

I am writing to inform you of my support for the public option. America wants the public option in health care reform and is counting on you to do the right thing in supporting it."

Short, simple, and to the point. All that needs to be said.

Take action. Be involved. Shape history.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tea Parties, Dick Cheney, and the Public Option

Sorry it has been so long since the last update. I have been (and continue to be) sick.


Three major new blogs coming in the next week though. Stay tuned.

Until then, some thoughts on a host of issues-


Conservatives-Sorry, but it is not the 1700's anymore. We are not a thirteen state agricultural country. In a country as big as America, in this globalized world, we cannot afford to NOT have a strong federal government. (Full blog on this coming later).

**

Tea Parties=sensationalism. Why did the Tea Parties, and now the "Tea Parties 2", receive twice as much coverage as the gay rights march even though the movements had the same number of people? And, on top of that, the Tea Parties have been proven to be politically organized by former Republican legislators like Dick Armey.

**

In 2002 Dick Cheney said "The Taliban regime is out of commission [in Afghanistan], permanently." Obviously, this guy knows what he is talking about. /sarcasm. (This had to be right around the infamous "Mission Accomplished" scene...). Now, the Dick is chastising Obama for taking time to make a deliberate decision about sending more troops in to a war zone. Please, Mr. Penguin, shut the hell up.

**

60% of Americans want a public option. At least 53 Senators are behind it. The White House is behind it. Three different House Committees have passed bills with it. Fuck the obstructionist, this needs to get done. Do it, Harry Reid, do it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jesus is a Liberal

In the 21st century, many see the Republican Party as the political arm of Christian faith. I find this odd, because I think the Democrats, the party which has historically been more involved in social justice and helping the least among us, are more in line with the teachings of the Bible. Many times in the Bible it says to “love thy neighbor”; a code Republicans tend to forget about if their neighbor is black, poor, or gay.

There is also a passage in the Bible that states “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. This philosophy seems to conflict with the Republican message of “Get a lot of money, to hell with everyone else”, or in the case of the majority of already rich Republicans, just “to hell with everyone else”.

Somehow I don’t think Jesus would find “They didn’t work hard enough” or “It’s mine!” a rightful response to people who are poor, sick, or in need. Jesus wouldn’t rationalize living in extreme posh and luxury while others are starving and homeless by saying “I deserve it better”. Jesus wouldn’t let millions get sick, go broke, and die because they have a “pre-existing condition” and can’t pay out of pocket for treatment.

So why is the Republican Party synonymous with Christian morals and belief? A lot of it stems from the issue of abortion. Most Christians are pro-life and for many this single issue dominates their political perception and persuasion. Gay marriage has also been a divisive issue as of late but mainly it comes from Republicans being better at playing the “I’m just like you!” political game. (This was Sarah Palin’s entire resume).

None of this explains how Jesus became Captain Capitalist to rural Republican voters. Many, for some inexplicable reason, think that the Bible advocates free market principles. It doesn’t; and for the record, neither does the constitution. The wide spread belief of both of these myths is actually just a testament to the political powers of Republicans like Karl Rove, a prominent force in the politicization of religion and using it in elections.

The GOP is at its core a political party, not a governing or legislative one. Typically, Republicans fair much better in sound clip wars and television ads than they do in substantive policy debates. The manner and effect in which they have framed the ideological debate, and more so how many people they have got to believe their story, is impressive in political terms. For many in the South and Mid-West, the Republican Party, free market ideals, and Christianity are one in the same while the inner city Democrats are a bunch of elite, godless, out of touch, communist monsters here to destroy America. There irony is that if Jesus was here today and he had a choice between helping the poor, impoverished and sick or supporting big business and their endless quest for higher profit, I know whose side he would be on.