North Texas Tollway Authority Now Officially Suing the Pants off Habitual Toll Violators

We knew this was coming. The North Texas Tollway Authority kind of telegraphed it when the agency announced that some 6,000 of its top scofflaws would be referred to an outside law firm for possible litigation over their toll-ignoring ways. And now, its here.

via North Texas Tollway Authority Now Officially Suing the Pants off Habitual Toll Violators – Dallas – News – Unfair Park.

And the continued move to a class-based transportation system continues.  Now public services are going to be denied to people that private businesses deem unworthy.

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The White Russian, The Dude’s Favorite Drink

The following is a conversation about a girl I met in the final moments of 2008 {the white “Russian”.  She mentioned a passion for Russian literature, and that’s how I remember her.}.  I gave her my card, but I’m not sure if she’ll call.  She is a quiet girl.

I’ll be playing the role of “the Dude.”  A friend of mine will be playing a dead queen,  Queen Elizabeth of England.  [I “talk” to dead people some times, and yes, I can “see” them too.]

To continue…

[Roy lamenting about the girl who won’t call.  The white “Russian”.  The Dude’s favorite drink. We pick up the conversation, already in progress… ]

Continue reading

Hindsight 20/20 : Inside the Campaign 2008

Newsweek has a rather fascinating story about some of the inside stories in the 2008 election.  Here’s some excerpts of the full article and my take on ’em.  BTW, I’m ignoring the Palin stuff on this post, I have concentrated that information here.

The computer systems of both the Obama and McCain campaigns were victims of a sophisticated cyberattack by an unknown “foreign entity,” prompting a federal investigation, NEWSWEEK reports today.

But by the next day, both the FBI and the Secret Service came to the campaign with an ominous warning: “You have a problem way bigger than what you understand,” an agent told Obama’s team. “You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system.” The following day, Obama campaign chief David Plouffe heard from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, to the same effect: “You have a real problem … and you have to deal with it.” The Feds told Obama’s aides in late August that the McCain campaign’s computer system had been similarly compromised. A top McCain official confirmed to NEWSWEEK that the campaign’s computer system had been hacked and that the FBI had become involved.

When a federal tech spook tells you this, listen to him.  Listen to him closely and do what he says.  I have a bit of experience in this line of work and most people, particularly community organizers and those that tend to trust others, have no idea, no idea at all, how hard people will work to gain access to certain information.   Super-paranoid doesn’t being to define it when you are defending against..who knows what.

The article mentions that the Obama campaign mentioned maybe “Russian or Chinese” hackers.  It doesn’t matter where the hackers were from.  What matters is who paid them.  Considering that complete access to the campaign computers could probably be had for less than seven figures, and don’t kid yourself, when it reaches this point, THE INTRUDERS HAVE COMPLETE ACCESS,  there are lots of possible suspects.

And just so you know the paranoid level it takes to keep some of this stuff secure…it’s possible to gain root access by recording the sound of the keystrokes a person uses to log in (record the sounds, test the keyboard, run it through an analysis, repeat the pattern for the password.  Each keystroke has a distinct sound, if you listen close enough).  A good microphone is all you need, nowadays, at least.  And that’s being slightly tricky.  There’s a lot easier ways, when given the motivation.

So that’s kinda funny.  Palin got hacked with simple social engineering, Obama and McCain probably got hit by professionals.

I mentioned this quite a bit….even going to far as to parody the sentiments….

The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. “Why would they try to make people hate us?” Michelle asked a top campaign aide.

Yea…that was to be expected.  As I’ve joked quite a bit over the last few days, the Secret Service is hiring.  A lot. 

On the Sunday night before the last debate, McCain’s core group of advisers—Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, adman Fred Davis, strategist Greg Strimple, pollster Bill McInturff and strategy director Sarah Simmons—met to decide whether to tell McCain that the race was effectively over, that he no longer had a chance to win. The consensus in the room was no, not yet, not while he still had “a pulse.”

This was a few weeks ago.  This was after the economy had gone to shit and everyone had decided on Palin.  Without an event on the scale of an alien invasion, Obama was heading to win, and they all knew it.   I’m pretty sure Obama did too.

The Obama campaign’s New Media experts created a computer program that would allow a “flusher”—the term for a volunteer who rounds up nonvoters on Election Day—to know exactly who had, and had not, voted in real time. They dubbed it Project Houdini, because of the way names disappear off the list instantly once people are identified as they wait in line at their local polling station.

The Obama campaign had some serious techonology working for them.  This was part of why I made fun of McCain for not knowing how to use a computer (and Palin not knowing how to securely use one).

It was an amazing GOTV (get out the vote) effort.  For a quick example…if you signed up for their site (as I did) you would get lists of numbers to call and places to takes notes, all online and “live”.  It didn’t work perfectly, but I think it was impressive enough, and effective enough, to gain some notoriety.

McCain also was reluctant to use Obama’s incendiary pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as a campaign issue. The Republican had set firm boundaries: no Jeremiah Wright; no attacking Michelle Obama; no attacking Obama for not serving in the military. McCain balked at an ad using images of children that suggested that Obama might not protect them from terrorism.

McCain did try to keep the thing clean.  It wasn’t until the last few days that the real bad poo started flying.  I’ll give this to McCain, he didn’t make this nearly as dirty as it could have gotten.  He could have disgusted everyone, much, much more than he did.   Many of his supporters wanted him to go there, and Palin pushed it, but he had he honor and the power to keep it (mostly) clean.

Obama was never inclined to choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, not so much because she had been his sometime bitter rival on the campaign trail, but because of her husband.

Yea, I never thought HIllary was a real choice for VP.  Maybe early on, but even then…the Bill factor would have been huge, and he would have overshadowed Obama in a lot of respects.  Particulary because he would, like Hillary, have a unique place in American history…and one that would continue for another decade or more in the White House.  That’s just too much Clinton for anyone.

McCain was dumbfounded when Congressman John Lewis, a civil-rights hero, issued a press release comparing the GOP nominee with former Alabama governor George Wallace, a segregationist infamous for stirring racial fears. McCain had devoted a chapter to Lewis in one of his books, “Why Courage Matters,” and had so admired Lewis that he had once taken his children to meet him.

This was because McCain wasn’t being told by the Secret Service about all the threats against Obama.  There’s a decent chance that John Lewis might have…   I *really* don’t think McCain understood how much anger and ignorance he was whipping up.  I’m absolutely sure that Palin had *NO* idea what she was messin’ with.  People where I live *ACT* when you tell them there is a threat to their country in the White House.

I did mention I’m from Dallas, right?  This shit ain’t no joke.

On the night she officially lost the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a long and friendly phone conversation with McCain. Clinton was actually on better terms with McCain than she was with Obama. Clinton and McCain had downed shots together on Senate junkets; they regarded each other as grizzled veterans of the political wars and shared a certain disdain for Obama as flashy and callow.

And that disdain came through loud and clear.  It came through in Clinton releasing Obama’s picture in “Muslim Garb” and it came through in McCain refusing to look at Obama in the first debate.

We heard you both, and we rejected it.  You were the uppity ones.

When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’

So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’

What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I fucking changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”

Note: I un-censored that bit.  I hate the those fucking “—” when I really want to make a point.

I *really* want to hear this tape.  When I hear Obama talk, I often hear myself thinking.  This has been a rare thing for me in the political realm.  When I hear Obama say somehing like this, and show a bit of that fire and disdain for the bullshit, I like him more.

This also makes the whole “tire gauge” attack even funnier.

How out of touch is Barack Obama? He’s so out of touch that he suggested that if all Americans inflated their tires properly and took their cars for regular tune-ups, they could save as much oil as new offshore drilling would produce. Gleeful Republicans have made this their daily talking point; Rush Limbaugh is having a field day; and the Republican National Committee is sending tire gauges labeled “Barack Obama’s Energy Plan” to Washington reporters.

I’m pretty sure his internal reaction to that non-controversy was something along the lines of “Niggaplease, these people have to be fucking retarded.”

Check out the full article for the bits I left out,  Newsweek isn’t exactly “Just some blog” and they don’t normally print stuff without multiple indepentent sources and thorough fact-checking.

It was a wild election, even more so because we are only now learning how wild it was.

Why I Voted For Barack Obama (and who I fought with about it)

Here is the follow-up to the previous video, “Why I’m Voting for Barack Obama.”  Astute readers and viewers will note the change in tense and the change in tone of the videos.

The first topic in the rant has to do with the with some of the reactions I witnessed here in Dallas, TX.   There were…shall we say….different than the vast majority of the world.

The second topic in the rant is why this election and this candidate…above and beyond all the political b.s., was so important to me personally.

Avery Out As Maverick Leader

SportingNews.com – Your expert source for NBA Basketball stats, scores, standings, blogs and fantasy news from NBA Basketball columnists

 Steel817Blog on Wed Apr 30, 2008 03:24 pm

When Avery Johnson was hired as the Mavs Head Coach by Mark Cuban, Avery Johnson said the following at the Press Conference”If I don’t win an NBA Championship in three years, I should be fired”! That pretty much says it all….
Too bad to see the little guy go.  I liked his style.  Unfortunately they made one of the worst trades in years (to get an over-the-hill boring Kidd) and never really recovered from it.  
It doesn’t look like the Mavs will ever bring home a title…and it hurts even worse because they got soo close…then crumbled…
The crumble is now complete

Big D Just Got Bigger

The Associated Press: Census: Texas Is the Hot Place to Live

DALLAS (AP) — Four Texas metropolitan areas were among the biggest population gainers as Americans continued their trend of moving to the Sun Belt in 2006 and 2007, according to Census Bureau estimates to be released Thursday.Dallas-Fort Worth added more than 162,000 residents between July 2006 and July 2007, more than any other metro area. Three other Texas areas — Houston, Austin and San Antonio — also cracked the top 10.

A lil shout out to the place that spawned me.