Archive for the Politics Category

Texas Conservatives Are Acting Like Communists

Posted in education, Politics with tags , , , , , , on March 19, 2010 by Bitch Slap Poli

Last week the Texas Board of Education, which is made up of 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats, decided to do what many communist countries do – namely rewrite history and make themselves seem in the right on every matter no matter how far that is from the truth.

Every American, from far right conservatives to far left liberals, should be very concerned about the Texas Board of Education’s actions. There is clear bias and inaccuracies in the changes that they are wanting to make to history and social study books and our kids’ education is no place to be playing politics or letting ideology get in the way of facts.

Conservatives Seemed to Have Become Scarily Disconnected with Reality

This is just another example of the disconnect that is plaguing conservatives. They are getting farther from reality and the standards that our forefathers established when they formed our country.

They see their ideology as the only correct ideology regardless of the fact that this country is founded on the principle that personal ideology would not stand in the way of rights for all people – including a public education that is based on factual evidence not political positions.

Stalin himself rewrote the history books in the Soviet Union in order to cast himself and his party in a more positive light. They removed names from history (in particular those that they had executed) and replaced it with their own. He wanted to establish a specific mindshare in the brains of the youngest soviets knowing that would influence their loyalty in him.

Maybe the Rampant Hypocrisy is Worse

Supporting the case of how disconnected Texas conservatives have become is what they have stated as their motivation for the amendments.

Conservative board member Don McLeroy said after the vote, “We are adding balance. . . History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

So the Texas board of Education decided to clearly skew it to the right.

Among the changes are:

Down playing the significance of Thomas Jefferson in the creation of the US government and out right removing him from history books because he was a proponent of separation of church and state.

Changing ‘democratic’ to ‘constitutional republic’ because the prior term favored democrats too much – they clearly don’t mind the new terminology favoring themselves.

Removing mention of hip-hop as a cultural movement in America.

Putting more focus on the right to bear arms in the teaching of the constitution.

‘Capitalism’ is now called ‘free enterprise system’ because as republican member Terri Leo puts it:

“Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation. You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ”

Of course that negative connotation has made a come back after the Bush administration’s economic policies of the 2000s. Clearly it a term the Republicans would love to replace and wipe the slate clean of.

The list goes on and is aptly summed up by the New York Times if you care to be amazed and shocked that such a thing could happen in this country.

The Real Losers – Texas Students

Consider this, elected officials – politicians, with no expertise in any of the subjects at hand are amending standards that were set by an association of teachers. POLITICIANS are overriding TEACHERS curriculum standards.

In a country where our students are already falling behind globally the last thing we need is for our own states to start impeding their progress by replacing and ignoring facts in exchange for political ideology.

Given the reason events in the state where I reside, I wonder how much collateral damage will pile up before the 2010 November elections.

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Google’s Losing Hand in China

Posted in government, Politics, Tech with tags , , , , , , on January 21, 2010 by jwilhelmy

It took me a while to digest the situation that’s arisen between Google and the Chinese Government.  On the face of it you have the PR statements directly from Google’s official blog:

“We detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property” and “we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.”

Which, was followed by Google publicly calling out the Chinese Government and stating that they will pursue the operation of an unfiltered google.cn.

However, if the Chinese Government will not allow the unfettered access for it’s people to all that Google indexes then they will pull out of the Chinese market completely and shut down google.cn as well as the offices that the company operates in the country.

A Champion of Free Speech?

Huzzah Google!  But not so fast.

Regardless of the corporate slogan, “Don’t be evil” Google is a for-profit publicly traded entity that exists to make money.  Why would a company that actively cooperates with the Chinese Government by employing people whose sole job is to track down and eliminate disallowed content from the google.cn index suddenly change it’s tune and become a trumpeter for free speech?

Advertising revenue is by far the largest source of income for Google so why threaten the Chinese government in such a way that would deny your ad partners the chance to reach the 338+ million internet users in China?  On a stance of free speech the shareholders will not have it.

So what really happened?

What Really Happened

It’s important to understand what Google is really concerned with in its relationship with China.  The attacks that China made on the intellectual property of Google and at least 20 other western companies is the real key here.

It’s smart for Google to focus its media spin on the activists whose gmail accounts were hacked (using pure social engineering techniques, BTW), however, the reason so many of us use Google is because of its prowess in search.  Though ad revenue may keep the cogs going, if the search functionality was crap there would be no reason for people to use Google.

China’s attempt at co-opting the search algorithms potentially degrades the functionality of Google search. Big time – potentially.

The Search Algorithm, Not the Users, is What Google is Afraid of Living Up

Currently, estimates put Google’s China revenue in at around $300 million, or 1.6% of its total sales. Which is a rather small concession compared to what it would lose if say Baidu, the current king of Chinese search, were to get their hands on what makes Google such a worldwide search powerhouse.

A Chinese competitor using the Google IP could become a worldwide competitor in short order, leaving much greater Google losses in its wake.  I guess keeping enemies closer is a bit trite in the eyes of Google, but it looks like this is simply their safest bet.

The Chinese have no incentive to concede and Google can’t risk its golden goose.  The days of google.cn are numbered indeed. That is, unless China decides to stop their cyber theft ways.

But hey, China is already hacking into our very own government’s web systems and are the biggest thieves online at the moment, so I’d say that is not likely to happen.

Going Rogue Review Chapters 2 and 3

Posted in Politics, reviews with tags , , on November 29, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

We continue on with our review of Sarah Palin’s fiction, sorry memoirs, Going Rogue. There are a few reoccurring themes throughout the chapters, so much so that Palin literally repeats thoughts (sometimes word for word) which made it daunting to read but easier to review.

Chapter 2 Kitchen-Table Politics – Palin is on a Mission from God

The second chapter outlines Sarah Palin’s experience in politics before being elected governor in December of 2006. No coincidence it’s one of the shortest chapters in the book.

Like many leaders and politicians before her, Sarah Palin is attributing her actions not to ambition but to divine intervention, stating that God is obviously wanting her to take the paths she’s taken by putting opportunities before her.

This tactic always annoys me because really its a just way to deflect criticism. If God is responsible for “opening doors” for Palin to go through who is anyone to say that he or she is wrong to do what she’s doing.

There’s also the underlying suggestion that she is chosen by God for an important purpose, to lead Alaskans and Americans toward what’s right. Reading Going Rogue you’d think Palin should have a book in the bible like the other disciples.

On page 83 Palin mentions another book she’s read, a children’s book The Flyaway Kite. After reading the book to her daughter Willow Palin decides that she’ll run for lieutenant governor because that’s what God wants her to do.

However, she didn’t win. But after campaigning for Murkowski (who ran and won the governorship) he appointed her as a chairman to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Like her role as governor, she also quit her chairman position when the job didn’t turn out as easy as she thought it would be.

When directly contemplating her political motivations on page 103 Palin says;

“There was a longing inside me that winter, a sense of purpose hovering just beyond my vision. Was it ambition? I didn’t think I didn’t think so. Ambition drives people; purpose beckons. Purpose calls. I definitely wasn’t driven toward any particular goal, like power or fame or wealth.”

We’ll have to hold her to that.

Palin goes on to write a letter in the voice of God in chapter 3.

Palin also recollects in this chapter how she snubbed her husband’s stepmom, Faye Palin, during the Wasilla mayoral election that would determine who would replace her. Even though Palin’s stepmother-in-law was running for mayor Palin publicly supported another candidate behind her family’s back.

In fact she sought out and recruited other city council members to run for fear that her old mayoral opponent, John Stein, might when and undo all she had done in office. Of the event Palin recounts:

“To beat Stein, I thought we needed a safer bet than Faye, whom I feared wasn’t as well known as the council members.”

Isn’t this the politics-as-usual mentality that she so feverently speaks out against repeatedly in the book? Another little gem for this portion of the book – after describing the fight that ensued when Todd found out what she had done, Palin writes: “It didn’t go exactly like that. . .”

Seems to sum up Palin’s approach for writing much of the book.

Chapter 3 – Palin Leads Alaska Towards Socialism

Chapter 3 outlines Palin’s run for governor and her brief time in that position up until the point when she gets the call from John McCain to compete for the vp nod.

The most interesting portions of the third chapter are actually related to Palin’s political and economic theory of how Alaska’s oil and gas resources should be produced and who should profit off them and how. Not only does this give a rare glimpse into complex political thought on Palin’s part, it also shows how hypocritical she can be for political purposes.

Here’s how Palin describes her view on the distribution of profits from Alaska’s gas and oil resources:

“ACES represented a major philosophical shift in the role of government. As resource owners, Alaskans literally had a “working interest” in energy exploration and development.”

The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend is the tax credit all Alaskans get each year based in large part on how much the state brings in with gas and oil production taxes (ACES).  So in other words Palin highly supports this dividend and growing it because state resources belong to all Alaskans  therefore all Alaskans should be directly benefiting from the revenue they generate.

The 2009 tax credit was $1305 per person regardless of age or income.

Here’s part of Wikipedia’s definition of Socialism:

Most socialists share the view that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital and derives its wealth through exploitation, creates an unequal society, does not provide equal opportunities for everyone to maximise their potentialities and does not utilise technology and resources to their maximum potential nor in the interests of the public.

Palin is quick to call Obama a socialist along with all the other Tea Baggers, which goes to show many of them don’t really know what socialism stands for.

It’s also very intriguing how Palin repeatedly likens her own campaign messages in 2005 with those of Obama’s in 2008, with a conservative, insulting slant to them. She does this even when it’s not so clear that her messages were the same.

On page 114 Palin says of her 2006 Alaska governor campaign;

“Every part of our campaign shouted “Change!” . . . We were amused a couple of years later when Barack Obama – one of whose senior advisors (come to think of it) had roots in Alaska – adopted the same theme.”

However, Pain states just 5 pages later that her campaign slogans were “New Energy for Alaska” (her lieutenant governor slogan 4 years prior was “New Energy”) and “Take a Stand”. Her main initiatives included building a natural gas pipeline and getting rid of corruption in the capital with ethics reform.

The pipeline was nothing new and the corruption level had gotten a little out of hand in Alaska, even for politics. So I don’t completely buy the “change” comparison. Instead of it coming off as though Obama is snaking Palin’s ideas it appears Palin wants herself to be likened to Obama.

Looks like she’s working on gaining more mindshare outside her hard right-winger segment.

Did Sarah Palin have an Abortion?

Posted in entertainment, Politics with tags , , on November 23, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

The most interesting segments of the latter half of The Last Frontier, the first chapter of Going Rogue, is Palin’s discussions of her pregnancies. Unlike Palin, I try to write accounts in chronological order because that makes most sense. So sorry, you’ll have to wait for the most controversial thoughts on her motherhood.

Peachy Perfect Life for Palin or Just Gaps in Information

When describing she and Todd Palin’s shotgun wedding, Sarah Palin left out one major point. That she was already pregnant at the time. I was actually shocked and dissappointed when she conveniently left this fact out when describing why they had a shotgun wedding.

But hey, Christian conservatives believe in abstenience only education so I see her reasoning behind the decision.

Still those who understand how dates and time work can easily turn the page and put two and two together. They got married on August 29, 1988 and had a kid on April 20, 1989. This is just one example of how Going Rogue has put Palin in a do-no evil sort of light.

The book is littered with all of Palin’s good, sound decisions, but has yet to cover in bad decisions she had made along the way in her life. Honestly, having two sisters who became pregnant out of wedlock themselves, I was hoping Palin would discuss this trying time in her life because it would humanize her.

We all make very poor decisions from time to time because we’re human. These mistakes aren’t just fodder for “biased, gotcha media” to latch on to and spin. They are a way of connecting with others, of showing that like everyone else you’re not perfect. It seems Palin would like you to think otherwise.

She took the easy way out and glazed over the whole single and pregnant episode, even going as far as to make it seem that the pregnacy occurred after the marriage. For example, a full page after giving reasons for the unconventional marrige Palin writes:

While he (Todd slimmed down, I porked up, pregnant with our first child.

I’m Not Saying She Had an Abortion, But Wow this is Strange. . .

Palin contradicts herself a lot in the book (big surprise) but the contridictions made from pages 50-55 are particularly confusing. She goes from discussing the hard to manage work schedules and living situation she and Todd had right before and after having their first son Track, to then saying “I loved the fact we had planned so well and that events were falling into place in our well-ordered lives,” upon finding out she would have another baby just a year after giving birth to her first child.

Then the shocker. Palin states that at the beginning of her second trimester she went for a regular doctor visit and found out the baby she was carrying was dead. My heart actually wrenched for her at this time, thinking of a friend who just recently went through the devastating ordeal herself.

But then Palin says something very strange while describing what happened after she elected to have a D&C rather than letting the baby pass naturally.

When the doctor’s bill arrived it came with a typo. In the box describing the procedure, someone had typed, “Abortion”. Instead of starting over with a fresh form, they painted over it with a thin layer of Wite-Out, and retyped, “Miscarriage”.

First of all, let me say, I’m not saying she had an abortion, but I’m asking the question of whether she did. The fact that she was the only candidate in the 2008 Presidential election that didn’t release her medical records makes me wonder even more.

At the time I thought ‘why not just release it’ when a big stink was made close to election day because she still hadn’t done so though earlier she had said that she would. Now I wonder.

First of all, wouldn’t using Wite-Out on a medical document be improper practice at the very least, if not illegal given the importance of such documents. And if memory serves me right from playing around with my Grandmother’s type writer as a kid you in 1990 type writers could actually go back and correct mistakes.

And given Palin’s staunch pro-life support, wouldn’t she get them to make another form that is correct so that there would be no question of such a controversial act taking place. If anything from a legal and health standpoint it would be a good idea to make sure you have accurate medical records that don’t look altered with wite-out.

Will We Ever Know the Truth?

There’s one solution that would clear up this mess so that it wouldn’t appear that Palin had done the wite-out and retyping on her own: she should release her medical records.

More Shooting Rampages, Still No Better Gun Control Laws

Posted in government, Politics with tags , , , on November 11, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

I completely agree with our Constitutional right to bear arms. Our forefathers made sure the right was on paper after being oppressed by a King and put under Marshall law. Taking away people’s weapons was one of the first things Hilter did to ensure he could control those he had overrun.

However, that doesn’t mean we need gun control laws so loose that the right can be used against us.

If You have to Take a Test to Get a Driver’s License. . .

Each state has their own regulations for finer points such as who can carry a concealed weapon and where but in order to actually get a permit for a gun its basically the same process across the board.

Here are the stipulations to getting a gun:

  • Must be 21 or older
  • Must not be a convicted felon (of course felonies committed as a juvie might not show up on a person’s record)
  • No mental health record
  • Sit tight through the waiting period of 2-3 days after filling out the paperwork

Yep it’s that easy to get yourself a blaster because its your right to get one.

The only problem is, the old saying is true ‘Guns Don’t Kill People, Stupid People with Guns Kill People’. We have to first pass a test and have a learner’s permit for a year before we can drive a vehicle on our own because cars are heavy machinery that can kill people.

So why aren’t there any mandatory tests before you can own a gun?

Even though its your right to own a gun, that doesn’t mean the rest of us should have to forfeit our safety in case let’s say, the person doesn’t know how to properly use the gun, or they actually are a criminal or they actually do have a mental problem.

It may surprise those that don’t pay attention but these individuals slip through the cracks at an alarming rate.

Fort Hood, Oregon Lab Shooting and the Orlando Office Shooting – All Within One Week

Anyone doubting the need for stricter gun control laws need only to look at the news from the past week to see why change is necessary.

Last week alone, between three tragic shooting rampages 16 people were killed and 37 people were wounded.

Here’s the scariest fact in regards to how loosely regulated gun ownership is:

According to the US National Institute of Mental Health, 26.2% of Americans have one or more diagnosable mental disorders, yet only 5% have ever seen a mental health professional.

Each one of the assailants in last weeks shootings were probably off their rockers. With exception of the Fort Hood shooting, it would be interesting to see when exactly the shooters obtained their weapons.

What Does America Think About the Issue?

A recent Ramussen Reports poll in October showed that:

  • 50% of people oppose stricter gun control laws
  • 39% of people support stricter gun control laws
  • 11% of people are undecided

Of course, polls from this week may tell a different story.

Closing argument: We should have the right to bear arms in order to protect ourselves from organized oppression, defend ourselves and protect our property. However, ordinary citizens going about their daily lives shouldn’t have to forfeit their safety so that as many people as possible have the right to carry a weapon. A weapon operation test needs to be put in place, there needs to be a learner’s permit training and evaluation period and there needs to be a mental competency test. You can still get a gun if you want one, you just have to prove that you can own one responsibly.

Is that too much to ask?

Washington Post Pulls a Fast One with Pundit Contest

Posted in entertainment, Politics, Tech with tags , , , on October 31, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

My condolences to all you normies who entered the America’s Next Great Pundit Contest put on by the Washington Post. I had my misgivings about the contest from the start. Being that I work in online media day in and day out I knew the reasoning behind the contest.

I knew what the Washington Post was hoping to get out of it and the upside was even bigger than I imagined it would be.

Online Contests Mean Increased Traffic (At Least That’s the Idea)

Any contest you see online will award a winner with some sort prize whether it be something tangible or simply notoriety, but the site conducting the contest is typically rewarded with much more – increased visibility and traffic. Ultimately, no matter how nicely they spin it, in the end they have to be getting something out of it to make it worth their time.

The Washington Post has put together a contest that I have to applaud. Many times sites will get a short term bump in their traffic numbers from contestants just before and after the contest as they eagerly check the site for updates. In the case of Washington Post there were about 4,800 contestants.

However, the Washington Post understands there’s a way to better capitalize on online contests. By making it partially interactive in choosing the contest winner from 10 finalists not only will they get a boost during the entry period, but they’ll also see a little more traffic during the voting period.

Not to mention they get a lot of free content from contestant entrants.

Normies Never had a Chance at Winning

I was skeptical when I first heard about the Washington Post Pundit contest on NPR.  But I was excited after going on the site and reading more about it. The Washington Post positioned it as a contest where Joe Anybody was given the chance to speak their peace, that those on Main street had valid, valuable points of view that should be heard.

Though some critized the Washington Post for excluding those who had already written or contributed for a major publication, I thought it was genius. In this online world we’re starting to see the power of public opinion and that regular day people can provide insights that are extraordinary. (though a lot of insight is fairly shortsighted as well)

Still, in the back of my mind was nagging suspicion. It’s kind of like in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy shows up to the Wizard’s joint and is told to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Well, once you’ve worked behind the curtain there’s no way to ignore what you know is going behind the scenes even though you can’t see it as it’s happening.

After reading the bios and posts of the 10 finalists it seems to me that entrant’s credentials was the biggest determining factor in who made the cut. Don’t get me wrong all the contestants seem intelligent and some of the posts were good. But normies never had a chance. Despite excluding published pundits high credentials still seemed to be qualifying factors.

Courtney Martin must have read the same Time magazine report on women in the workforce as I did. BSP has a post in the works that examines how this shift in society has affected violence against women. I agree with the comments.

Burton Richter is a Nobel winner so, yeah. I like the facts, I’m big on facts so thank you for this piece.  While the whole ethanol boom has helped some of our nation’s farmers, it has also been a bust overall. Another example of business overriding science.

Darryl Jackson

Jeremy Haber

Kevin Huffman’s piece was a let down in that there’s a lot of important issues needing discussion and  political jabbing helps drown out the conversation. He does get a few points for creativity.

Lydia Khalil

Maame Gyamfi

Mara Gay

Mark Esper

Zeba Khan

Did the Washington Post Cave to Criticism?

Those who saw the online Q&A with Wa Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt a week before the end of the entry period probably remember he caught a lot of flack about not giving professional pundits an opportunity to enter.  They questioned the quality level and qualification level of those the Washington Post was willing to feature in their paper and online.

The Washington Post certainly fooled them. They made sure the majority of the 10 finalists had accomplishments that answered the question of whether they could hang with the big media big leaguers. After all, they have a reputation to uphold.

Would I have done anything differently if I were the Washington Post? Probably not, at least not much.

A Public Option Will Help Us Avoid CARD Act Issues in Health Care

Posted in government, Politics with tags , , , , on October 21, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

Currently the government has come to a harsh reality; companies that were profiting heavily before the recession, even at the expense of consumers, will do whatever they have to now to maintain those profitable margins.

Case in point, credit card companies in wake of the CARD Act. Though the bill was passed in May of this year, the changes weren’t slated to go into effect until February 2010. Credit card companies moved swiftly to squeeze as much as they could out of their cardholders before stricter regulations were enforced. Now Congress is considering their options for expediting the process so that US consumers aren’t bled dry by next year.

So during all this health care reform discussion, Congressman should consider one thing; will health insurers do the same once a bill is passed?

A Public Option Would Keep Health Insurers Honest

Many credit card companies saw their window of opportunity and took it, raising rates on cardholders with no warning (something that is prohibited under the new CARD regulations). It was a business move not humanitarian move, which is understandable – they’re a business. Profits are the bottom line, not how many people go bankrupt to get those profits.

With health reform on the horizon that overhauls and increases regulations over health insurers, I question whether they will do the same thing. There will be an interim period between the passing of the law and the law actually taking affect.

What’s going to stop insurers from jacking up premiums or dropping and denying coverage while they can? What about after the laws go into effect? What’s going to stop insurers from taking advantage of loopholes in the legislation?

A public option, that’s what.

Unlike the credit card industry, we have the means right now while the bill is being crafted to create competition that will keep health insurers more honest. Without a public option it’s a win-win-win for health insurance companies.

If reform mandates that most people get health insurance and there’s no public option that leaves only the health insurance companies, guaranteeing them more business. For the most part we’d be rewarding an industry that has operated so unethically and inefficiently that a drastic overhaul is now needed.

We must have a public option to keep insurers honest. Just because the regulations are being reformed doesn’t mean the mindsets and priorities of health insurance companies will as well. Legislators need to learn from their mistakes with the CARD Act and take the necessary steps now to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen with the health reform bill.