The Obama World Tour : Reaction (Race Card Analysis)

“People of the world — look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one,” Obama said at Berlin’s Victory Column in the Tiergarten park.

“The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers — dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean,” he said.

Obama said people of all nations must stand together to face challenges of the 21st century — from terrorism to global warming to genocide.

“We cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats or escape responsibility in meeting them,” he said.

Obama uses Berlin symbolism to reunite old allies – CNN.com.

And so the world’s introduction to Obama to complete. Now pretty much everyone knows who he is and what he stands for.

At least for those outside the U.S. Inside the U.S. there is still plenty of work being done to reduce his candidacy and the man himself to a simple concept. A basic label. This process is now complete.

Obama is “The One”.

Yup. The Annointed One. The Saviour of All that is Good and Holy.

Not a bad label, really, when you compare it to some of the previous attempts.

Much of this was solidified by his speech last week in Berlin.

More on this one later. As with many things that illicit a strong reaction, this one is probably best processed personally.

Update: 8/7/08…just got back from driving across the country with a friend who was moving across the country.

Read more for some analysis…

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The Net Reigns Supreme (For Better or Worse)

Alter: All Umbrage All the Time | Newsweek Voices – Jonathan Alter | Newsweek.com

After a decade of waiting for the first “Internet election,” its finally here, and were adrift from all the old-media moorings. “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one,” the great critic A. J. Liebling wrote more than half a century ago. Today, of course, were all press lords, or can be. But the “crowd-sourcing” of news cuts both ways. Like democracy itself, it can cleanse, correct and ennoble. Or it can coarsen, spread lies and degrade the national conversation.

Everything about the Web is double-edged. Its hard to believe, but YouTube wasnt even around in 2004. Now it or other streamed video is a godsend for anyone who wants to follow politics closely. But YouTube is also a pixilated guillotine for any public figures inclined to show a little humanity that is, fallibility or a penchant for inconvenient truth-telling when they step out of their house. Colin Powell told me recently that hes even had to put up with picture takers in the mens room.

Alter makes a number of good points in this mini-rant/whine about the interwebs and the reality of a democratized media.  As one actually educated in how the media works and how much works it takes to make much of it look effortless on the consumer end, he makes some good points.

Read more to see my take on it.

Continue reading

Desktop Clearing Post

I have started a new productivity initiative where I’ll be using my desktop for writing and my laptop for blogging.  Hopefully this will work out better for everyone.  With that being said, I have to clear off my desktop, here’s the stuff I didn’t get to, but thought was worthwhile

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Here’s the walking across the U.S. for a good cause.

SAN DIEGO (AP) ― It took 10 months, 24 pairs of shoes and 40 pounds of flesh, but former New York Giant George Martin has finished a cross-country walk to raise money for people with health problems linked to the September 11 attacks.

[full article]

You can read all about it here.

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A slightly different story about Iraq can be found here.  It’s a more true-to-life kind of this.  Tyler Ziegel and Renee: one year on. 

To understand that story a bit better, here’s the picture that goes with it.

As I said, true-to-life.  Here’s the video if you want to watch that. It gives another angle on the story.

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5 Bible Superpowers

5 Reasons GTA IV is the Worst Great Game Ever Made

I haven’t read Cracked in years, but found both of these articles read-worthy.  The GTA:IV one is particularly good.  It’s always nice to critique perfection..which kinda goes along with the first link…

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Cheney is a lying, cheating jerk.

Vice President Dick Cheney’s office was involved in removing statements on health risks posed by global warming from a draft of a health official’s Senate testimony last year, a former senior government environmental official said on Tuesday.

He hasn’t been heard from much lately, but he’s up to the same old b.s.

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Israel keeps pissing off her neighbors and allies.

Jerusalem – Israel plans to build some 1,800 new homes in two Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem built on occupied West Bank land, Israel Radio reported Wednesday.

Some 900 homes will be built in Homat Shmuel G’, an eastern extension of Israel’s controversial Har Homa neighbourhood, on Jerusalem’s southern outskirts, the radio said.

This settlement building just keeps angreing the Palestinians and even goes agiainst what the U.S. has asked for.  With each new settlement built under protest, peace retreats a bit more.   Stop building until an greement is reached, por favor.

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The U.S. is teetering.

Loong article on the problems facing the U.S.  A good read from a solid scholar.

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What it’s like to watch Fox for 24 Hours.

Found this one pretty funny.  I wouldn’t recommend watching Fox (or any cable news) for 24-consecutive hours.  Heck. I wouldn’t recommend 24 hours a year.

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This is the best Halloween tower EVAR!!!

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World’s oldest bible on the Interwebs.  In the dump trucks.  Just like Jesus predicted.

This is actually pretty cool.  The technology makes so much knowledge and history so much more widely available than ever before.  Good times.  Good times.

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Terror driver in court.

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — The judge in the first American war crimes trial since World War II barred evidence on Monday that interrogators obtained from Osama bin Laden’s driver, ruling he was subjected to “highly coercive” conditions in Afghanistan.

But Judge Keith Allred, a Navy captain, left the door open for the prosecution to use statements Salim Hamdan made at Guantanamo, despite defense claims that all his statements were tainted by alleged abuse including sleep deprivation and solitary confinement.

Hamdan, who was captured at a roadblock in Afghanistan in November 2001, pleaded not guilty at the start of a trial that will be closely watched as the first full test of the Pentagon’s system for prosecuting alleged terrorists. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted of conspiracy and aiding terrorism.

It looks like they are going to allow “coerced” (i.e. tortured) testimony in these trials.  So much for “justice
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And last but not least, my favorite song of the summer.

Bush Administration Takes RPN Advice and Talks to Iran

WASHINGTON, July 16 (Reuters) – With just six months left in office, the Bush administration has done an about-face in joining talks with Tehran over its nuclear program, a move analysts say is driven partly by a desire to avoid war with Iran.

For years, the Bush administration said it would join nuclear talks with Iran only if it gave up uranium enrichment, but with President George W. Bush’s term ending in January and tensions rising with Tehran, Washington feels it cannot afford to be excluded.

The perception, especially in global financial markets, of a growing likelihood of a confrontation between Iran and the United States or Israel has rattled oil markets in recent months, helping drive prices to record highs.

ANALYSIS-U.S. seeks talking over war with Iran | Reuters.

Ahh, finally we found the way to leverage the Bush administration to action…the near total collapse of the U.S. economy…at least it would if we attacked Iran.  Mere speculation has probably added 10-15% of the price of oil.  War itself would do something along the lines of 100-150%.

But to the main point here, the idea that Iran had to stop everything before we would even talk to them was a pretty fanciful negotiation tactic.  It’s the kind of tactic that only works of you have a boot on someone’s neck.  While we certainly overpower Iran, they are far from totally defenseless (as covered in this post regarding the recent missile launches and this one from a while back about the fast-boats.)

And the main weapon they have is economic.  Which is where we happen to be weakest at the moment.

So the talks began.  And since the story above is from a week or so back, here’s the results…

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran on Monday of not being serious at weekend talks about its disputed nuclear program despite the presence of a senior U.S. diplomat, and warned it may soon face new sanctions.

In her first public comments since Saturday’s meeting in Switzerland, Rice said Iran had given the run-around to envoys from the U.S. and five other world powers. She said all six nations were serious about a two-week deadline Iran now has to agree to freeze suspect activities and start negotiations or be hit with new penalties.

Rice was briefed on the meeting by the State Department’s No. 3 diplomat, Undersecretary of State William Burns, who attended the session in a shift from Washington’s previous insistence that it would not meet with the Iranians unless enrichment of uranium had stopped.

[full article]

So there was little progress on this go round.  That is understandable, since now positions are being re-trenched.  There are also limits to the punitive actions that can be taken, which complicates the options for the Six Allies.

Meanwhile, world oil prices rose above $130 a barrel in part on concerns that the threat of new sanctions against Iran may escalate tensions in the Middle East.

At Saturday’s meeting, Iran had been expected to respond to a package of incentives offered in exchange for halting enrichment of uranium, which can be used to fuel atomic weapons. The Bush administration broke with long-standing policy to send a top diplomat to support the offer.

However, Rice said that instead of a coherent answer, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili delivered a “meandering” monologue full of irrelevant “small talk about culture” that appeared to annoy many of the others present at the table in Geneva.

And so the haggling begins. The next round should be in two weeks or so…

“We will see what Iran does in two weeks, but I think the diplomatic process now has a new kind of energy to it,” she said. “If they do not decide to suspend then we will be in a situation where we have to return to the Security Council.”

High-level contact between the United States and Iran is extremely rare and Burns’ presence at the talks may have confused the Iranians, Rice said, acknowledging a tactical change to demonstrate U.S. unity with the other five powers: Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

“From time to time, it is important to invigorate the diplomacy,” she said. “I think that the fact that we went may have been a bit surprising to the Iranians, and they didn’t react in a way that gave anyone any confidence.”

Hey, at least we’re talking.  It’s a fair sight better than shooting.

Gramm Responds to RPN Criticism by Resigning

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former Republican Sen. Phil Gramm said Friday that he is stepping down as co-chairman of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign amid criticism for saying last week that “we have sort of become a nation of whiners.”

Phil Gramm, left, said his comments have become a “distraction” for Sen. John McCain’s campaign.

Gramm on Friday said he would “join the growing number of rank-and-file McCain supporters.”

Democrats blasted Gramm for the comments, made in a Washington Times interview published July 10, and McCain forcefully repudiated the remarks.

In a written statement released Friday, Gramm said his comments had become a distraction for McCain.

“It is clear to me that Democrats want to attack me rather than debate Senator McCain on important economic issues facing the country,” Gramm said.

Phil Gramm steps down after ‘whiners’ comment – CNN.com.

This seems to be in response to my post the other day slamming Mr. Gramm and by proxy Mr. McCain, for the uninhibited and enthusiastic support for the rich and Mr. Gramm’s flippant disregard for the people who stlll have to work for a living.

I hate to see a fellow Texan go down, but that’s probably the way it had to be.  His comments were so far in line with the typical Bush line that he could no longer be a public presence on the campaign.

I’m glad to see this.  But it doesn’t really address the larger issue, which is McCain.

McCain Response RE:Iraq War Policy Paper, Which the NYT “rejects”

(CNN) — The New York Times has rejected an essay that Sen. John McCain wrote defending his Iraq war policy.

Sen. John McCain wrote an op-ed for The New York Times, but the paper said it could not publish it as written.

The piece was in response to an op-ed from Sen. Barack Obama that was published in the paper last week.

In an e-mail to the McCain campaign, Opinion Page Editor David Shipley said he could not accept the piece as written, but would be “pleased, though, to look at another draft.”

“Let me suggest an approach,” he wrote Friday. “The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans. It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama’s piece.” Read McCain’s rejected piece

New York Times rejects McCain essay – CNN.com.

As mentioned, you can read the essay at the link above. I can understand the NYTimes position, as I read and commented on Obama’s position in a post here. At the time it was published, it was new news.

So the NYTimes asks for another version, but the thing is still on the Net as is, and will get passed plenty.

And that’s that.

And this here, below, is some of McCain’s op-ed and reactions from yours truly. Also known as “Reason the Next I can’t Vote for McCain” (reason the previous here).

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

I don’t think, if cornered on it, Obama would say that no political progress has resulted. What we are hoping for is accelerating political progress. This is to be done through more political pressure. Having the U.S. in Iraq puts pressure on the U.S. political process and removes it from Iraqi politicians. The less of us there are there, the more the Iraqis have to take over.

This is called political pressure and it’s meant to accelerate progress.

After the previous “surge” barb, McCain’s argument starts to lose coherency.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City?actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale.

Umm. Wait a second. First off, why does it matter that there is ANOTHER reason to end the war? Given all the recent successes, and general feeling of progress, why isn’t NOW a good time to really put the pressure on the Iraqi government? After all, and this is very important, they want us to leave. (see previous obama analysis for quotes, or read this story.)

Going back to McCain, we see him directly contradicting reality.

McCain: To make this point, he (Obama) mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

And the reality.

‘Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.

SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?

Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans’ business. But it’s the business of Iraqis to say what they want. ‘

Now, McCain finishes his bashing Obama’s timetable, which the Iraqis endorse, by giving his own arbitrary egotistical date, which would artificially prolonge the tenure of US troops.

As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

So the place where we are at now, IMHO, is a place where staying can destroy much of the progress we have made. If we give a window of hope and a goal, NOW, we might be able to pull this thing off before it gets totally catastrophic.

And by totally catastrophic I mean a number of things, including retardedly huge explosions here in the U.S. both real and economic. It’s time to end this war. Or at least set an end date.

Which bring us to my final complaint about McCain’s rejected Op-Ed and why he’s probably better off if it is less read…

But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

…his concept of “winning” is crazy. We went in to get the WMDs and remove an evil man. The WMDs were long gone (thanks Bill!) and the evil man was a shell, a spider living in a hole. The country he had hollowed out was on the verge of collapse and we finished it off.

The goal, now, is to make Iraq stable, secure, self-sustaining and quasi-democratic.

We’ve given them their country back.  Slightly blown to shit and with a million or so less citizens (because they are dead).  Now it’s time to take the guns out and slowly back away.  This is as close as it gets to “winning” when you President and his advisors MAKE UP A BUNCH OF SHIT AND LIE TO YOU TO GET YOU TO SUPPORT AN IDIOTIC WAR.

Staying in Iraq, waiting for a full-western democracy that is a close ally to sprout from the desert is fanciful at best and insane at most likely.  Hoping to make Iraq an ally in the war on Iran (or Saudi) is retarded. When our first closest ally in the Middle East in Israel, it’s a hard question to ask Iraq to be #2. At least if it’s up to them.

We are not losing when we are returning something that belongs to another.  It’s the right thing to do and now is the right time to do it.

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Update: There was another Iraq / McCain article I wanted to mention here.

A simple edit makes McCain look a bit off…

On Afghanistan, McCain said, “I’ve always said it’s long and tough and hard.”

As to Iraq, “We’ve succeeded. We’re not succeeding, we’ve succeeded,” McCain said later at a fundraiser.

“When you win wars, troops come home,” McCain said. “He’s been completely wrong on the issue. … I have been steadfast in my position.”

All I did was move the first sentence to last. If we’ve won and succeeded…isn’t it time to come home?

Wii First and Pulling Away, PS3 Third and Closing, 360 Second and Lagging

DailyTech – Nintendo Wii Tops for Console Sales in June

Bloomberg reports that the Nintendo Wii outsold the Sony PS3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 in the U.S. last month. Nintendo sold 666,000 of its Wii consoles in June compared to the 405,500 PS3’s sold and 219,800 Xbox 360’s. It’s interesting to note that the PS3 sold nearly 200,000 more units for the month than the Xbox 360.

Both Sony and Microsoft recently increased the size of the hard drive inside their respective consoles to lure new buyers. The minimum hard drive on the PS3 will now increase to 80GB with the Xbox 360 growing to 60GB. NPD Group says 10.9 million Wii consoles have been sold since it launched in November of 2006 – that tally pushes the Wii past the Xbox 360 in total U.S. sales despite the Microsoft’s consoles one-year head start.

Just a quick update on the console wars.  This has been an interesting generation, as it looks like the Wii is expanding the market so much all three can be winners.  With online markets and downloadable old-school content, all three platforms have IMMENSE libraries.  It might even be hard, at this point, to know how many games, exactly, are playable on each system.  I’ve been seeing torrents with 5000+ roms for various boxes.

Regardless, interesting times in the gaming world.  Transformative, even (Boom Blox, FTW).

The Utter Lack of Justice (a Bush Administration Trademark)

Report Sees Illegal Hiring Practices at Justice Dept. – NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON — Justice Department officials over the last six years illegally used “political or ideological” factors to hire new lawyers into an elite recruitment program, tapping law school graduates with conservative credentials over those with liberal-sounding resumes, a new report found Tuesday.

Skip to next paragraph

Back Story With Eric Lichtblau (mp3)

The blistering report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general, is the first in what will be a series of investigations growing out of last year’s scandal over the firings of nine United States attorneys. It appeared to confirm for the first time in an official examination many of the allegations from critics who charged that the Justice Department had become overly politicized during the Bush administration.

“Many qualified candidates” were rejected for the department’s honors program because of what was perceived as a liberal bias, the report found. Those practices, the report concluded, “constituted misconduct and also violated the department’s policies and civil service law that prohibit discrimination in hiring based on political or ideological affiliations.”

The shift began in 2002, when advisers to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft restructured the honors program in response to what some officials saw as a liberal tilt in recruiting young lawyers from elite law schools like Harvard and Yale.

adsfasdf

In th elong run, I think this might be one of the wrost thing that the Bush administration has done.  I mean, when you think about going from Ashcroft, who was a horrid idealogue who set up these practices, to Gonzales, who ended up resigning from office because he got busted implementing these practices…what does that say about Bush’s concept of “justice”?

It’s more of a “political justice” kind of thing, and it becomes evident that everything these folks see if filtered through the lens of political leaning.  And I mean filtered at a base level.  Coulter and Rush are not, as it turns out, outliers.  For a while there, they were pretty mainstream.  No wonder we have gone so far off course.

More on this one later.  This is actually an older story, but I’m trying to keep up with everything on my desktop and this was sitting for a while.

How They Justify Spying on American Citizens and Baracks Betrayal

Understanding Recent Changes to FISA — A Visual Guide (Flowchart) | Ketchup and Caviar

“Ketchup and Caviar” (which is a euphemism for “West and East”, one would guess) has put together this wonderful guide for how the government decided we were scared enough as a people to accept them monitoring everything we say.  But hey, they only keep the parts where people say (or it sounds like they say) something about the terrorism and/or terror-related stuff (said stuff to be slowly expanded to drugs, crimes, and then finally pr0n).

Go and look at the charts.  Pay special attention to the loopholes.  The guys who worked on this stuff were pretty smart and know how to build in loopholes (like the ones they built at Guantanamo to allow for torture).

Here’s the gist of it…

What New FISA does is create a special case involving our bold red line in the first chart. It provides a way for the executive branch to engage in warrantless (but “certified”) wiretapping of wire and cable (including email and phone) of any Foreign-to-U.S. communications collected inside the U.S. You’ll see the new set of criteria for certification in this special case. It does add new protections for U.S. Persons (citizens or greencard holders) by requiring the typical FISA warrant in all cases in which they are targeted.

On the face of it, this new loophole might not seem to be such a big problem, barring the facts of a) retroactive telecom immunity and b) the implication that Bush will never be held accountable for numerous felonies. Unfortunately, it also really is, as far as I can tell, a back door to greatly expanded wiretapping powers. Beyond the obvious fact that it requires only certification and loose judicial review rather than a warrant, it does so in the following way:

  1. It Eliminates the requirement that there be probable cause that a foreign target is a suspect of any kind — terrorist, criminal, ore “foreign agent.” They merely need be your French grandmother, as long as they are outside the United States and not a U.S. person, and if the government says wiretapping them is for the purpose of collecting “foreign intelligence information” (e.g., her Pommes Frites recipe)
  2. It requires the cooperation of telecoms in these efforts
  3. It eliminates of the need to specify a particular email address or phone number to be wiretapped
  4. 1-3 together imply that certifications of wiretapping on individuals is not the issue. The point is to use telecom cooperation to target large collections of data on communications between U.S. Persons and foreigners. This implies data mining — where, for instance, because a foreign target has communications passing through a given domestic switch, any communications (domestic or international) passing through that switch are subject to collection, analysis, and storage.  There are “minimization requirements” meant to ameliorate this, but it is unclear if they really help.
  5. The compromise of domestic communications in (4) is exacerbated by the fact that targets need only be “reasonably believed” to be outside the U.S.
  6. It includes only minimal court oversight — who it is that is subject to warrantless wiretapping will not be know to the FISA court; the government can wiretap before it court order is sought and continue to do so even if it is denied — during a lengthy appeal process.

I have to say I’m really unhappy about this one.

There’s been some other good news recently and hopefully I can get to post some of that today, but this one sucks.  And I’m very unhappy with Obama for supporting it….especially because he said this…

The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend.

No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people – not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed.

back on January 28, 2008.

And then did this last month.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) today announced his support for a sweeping intelligence surveillance law that has been heavily denounced by the liberal activists who have fueled the financial engines of his presidential campaign.

In his most substantive break with the Democratic Party’s base since becoming the presumptive nominee, Obama declared he will support the bill when it comes to a Senate vote, likely next week, despite misgivings about legal provisions for telecommunications corporations that cooperated with the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program of suspected terrorists.

In so doing, Obama sought to walk the fine political line between GOP accusations that he is weak on foreign policy — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called passing the legislation a “vital national security matter” — and alienating his base.

“Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as president, I will carefully monitor the program,” Obama said in a statement hours after the House approved the legislation 293-129.

[full post]

And so the virgin-fan portion of my Obama love passes into the past.  I ahte to see him reverse so plainly on this topic, yet I can understand why he felt the need to.  I hope he got bad advice on giving in to this and didn’t make the decision himself.  This was exactly the kind of change we needed, Mr. Obama.

The national security thing is bullshit.  People are not that scared.  it’s not the trump card it was in 2004.  Be honest, dammit.

Science Confirms Bill Hicks Theory on Religion

Spiritual effects of hallucinogens persist, researchers report

Writing in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the Johns Hopkins researchers note that most of the 36 volunteer subjects given psilocybin, under controlled conditions in a Hopkins study published in 2006, continued to say 14 months later that the experience increased their sense of well-being or life satisfaction.

“Most of the volunteers looked back on their experience up to 14 months later and rated it as the most, or one of the five most, personally meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives,” says lead investigator Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., a professor in the Johns Hopkins departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Neuroscience.

In a related paper, also published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers offer recommendations for conducting this type of research.

The guidelines caution against giving hallucinogens to people at risk for psychosis or certain other serious mental disorders. Detailed guidance is also provided for preparing participants and providing psychological support during and after the hallucinogen experience. These “best practices” contribute both to safety and to the standardization called for in human research.

I remember running into this study a while back. And personal experience has confirmed it rather well, both in the insight and the lasting impact of the insight.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, a fellow Texan Bill Hick nailed the whole concept in this bit. you can just listen..

A number of cultures have realized this curious confluence of psychological substance and religious experience.

The U.S. made some serious moves towards this attitudes a couple of generations ago, but then the religious and experimental aspects of the culture became set at incompatible angles because of an idiotic war (speaking of the 60’s obviously) and a historic opportunity was lost.

UPDATE/Bonus:

O.k. I just found this funny. It was linked on the YouTube page. Here’s Bill Cosby on lysergic acid diethylamide (lsd, acid)

Death, RIP, Belated

“The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating…

…and you finish off as an orgasm.”

Changing the World, Internet Style

So there’s been an ongoing battle in the United States over the nature of our knowledge. Which is to say, how we communicate our knowledge to the next generation of Americans. While the vast majority of this battleground is decided, there is a persistent hotspot regarding the nature of Human Creation.

Or perhaps I should more accurately say, human evolution.

I’m not going to go into all the details right now, but basically all life on this planet is related. Small genetic changes over time have led to different species, including our own. That’s basically it. If I had to reduce it to a verse or two to hand down verbally over many generations, that’s how I’d say it.

If I didn’t have knowledge of genetics and DNA and all the evidence that supports their existence and the theories and science surrounding them, I might instead reduce all human knowledge to something poetic. Maybe along the line of …

24 ¶ And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 ¶ And God said, Let us make man in our image, 1 Cor. 11.7 after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Mt. 19.4 · Mk. 10.6

[more here]

That’s pretty much all background information for the meat of this story, which is how the Internet is helping us help each other teach the next generation a…shall we say…more enlightened understanding of how we came to be we.

As mentioned previously, the topic of the battleground is Evolution. The location of the battleground is Kansas. The time of the battleground is the Election.

And so bOINGbOING gets the ball rolling…

Progressive geek looking for 3,000 people to help him win Kansas election against dinosauric anti-science/pro-surveillance dude


Sean Tevis is a geeky geek from Kansas who’s fed up with his state rep, an anti-abortion, anti-evolution, pro-censorship, pro-surveillance, anti-gay incumbent. Tevis — an unknown — is polling within three points of his opponent, and is looking to raise some Internet dough to kick this guy’s (extremely tight) ass, and to promote his cause, he’s made a fantastic, XKCD-style toon called “It’s Like A Flamewar with a Forum Troll, but with an Eventual Winner.” Specifically, he’s looking to raise $8.34 from 3,000 people (no state rep in Kansas history has ever had more than 644 donors). I’m in*. Who’s with me? Link (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)*Actually, I’m not. I’m a dirty foreigner and I’m not allowed to meddle in American elections. Someone else donate $8.34 to this guy for me, OK?

Which then got picked up by Digg.

And somebody on Kos mentioned it. If it involves fundraising and progressive causes, Kos is going to be a part of the solution.

Anyway, all of that led to this.

UPDATE!

Backup

Donate

We’ve met our goal to run a competitive campaign, but you can help us win. It’s for an excellent cause, you’ll be making history, and you will be greatly appreciated.

…which is awesome.

You can read the whole story, XKCD-style here.

We’ll keep you updated on the story of this guy…

And his fight to help make things a little bit better in one way or another.

/Sean Tevis pimping over.


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