Tuesday, May 30, 2006

why centrists suck

david sirota writes about why centrists are awful. the term “centrist” has been co-opted by radical right-wingers in washington, d.c., and now anyone who does not support their powerful wealthy corporate interests and who is not in bed with the corrupt lobbyists is labelled “out of the mainstream”. to be a centrist you have to be a corrupt lobbyist crony who takes bribes and has no morals, basically. and senator joseph lieberman of connecticut is the biggest centrist of them all, which is why we should all support ned lamont in his campaign for senate. joseph lieberman should just come out and say it already: he is a republican. why does the democratic party have these wolves in sheep’s clothing like senator lieberman? at least with the republicans, you know they are evil; they come out and say what their evil agenda is. they say that they want to outlaw homosexuality and outlaw abortion and nuke iran and make christianity the official religion that is mandatory for everyone and forcibly remove over 11 million illegal immigrants and enact tax policies that benefit the wealthy and big business and dismantle what is left of the welfare state and let huge corporations outsource as many jobs as they want out of this country. we know that they want to destroy everything that is good about the united states of america and turn this into a third-world militaristic totalitarian hellhole. but what is the deal with people like lieberman? why do they have to not only be traitors to our country like the republicans all are, but also traitors to their own party, the democrats? senator lieberman always sides with president bush and against his fellow democrats. so now half of the democrats think it is perfectly fine to have general michael hayden be cia director, after presiding over a giant program to spy on all of our phone calls. this is absolutely treasonous! this goes against everything in our bill of rights and all of our constitutional liberties! when are these “centrists” going to wake up and realize they have destroyed what made this country great? and when are the american people going to wake up and stop supporting these thugs? while people in iran may chant “death to america”, the neocons are already busily at work carrying out this deed, committing national suicide and destroying this great nation. let us work together to save this nation from the misguided, corrupt fools who are currently in charge of it who are destroying everything. it will take quite some time to undo the damage they have caused, not only at home, but around the world.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

pure madness

the media and the politicians in washington, d.c. are having pure madness right now; that’s not to say that they weren’t loons all along, but it is just more obvious now. first of all, the media is saying hillary clinton is practically guaranteed the democratic nomination for president in 2008. real democrats oppose her, however. there are polls that show her far ahead of any other potential nominee among the millions of people who happen to be registered as democrats, but really, who cares about the opinions of the unwashed masses? the unwashed masses are simply the media’s brainwashing victims who repeat back the talking points they heard on tv. of course they say they would support hillary clinton as the front-runner, because they heard on tv that she would be the front-runner, and these people are all sheeple, bandwagon-jumper-onners who lack any real opinions of their own. the “news” media are basically a bunch of hacks, lunatics, idiots, and the rare occasional actual good reporter. now, do we real democrats believe any of the nasty conspiracy theories about the clintons, or have anything against them because of their personal lives, or stuff like that? hells no! the only beefs we have with the clintons are 1) their right-wing, anti-progressive policies (e.g. welfare “reform”, censorship, pro-iraq-war, pro-patriot-act, anti-flag-burning, anti-palestinian) 2) their strange bedfellows like bill clinton’s former top adviser dick morris or hillary’s new buddy rupert murdoch (both men are pure dagnasty evil) 3) their negative baggage that makes them very unpopular with certain voters we would like to win over. overall, if you compare hillary clinton to other washington politicians, she is definitely on the liberal side of the spectrum, though by no means a radical or anything remotely out of the centrist mind trap. on the majority of issues, she actually has the right positions, but of course, progressives and real democrats like to have people who represent as much of their beliefs as possible, and on several major issues, she has abandoned her own party’s base and embraced the views of the ruling party. while this is an unfortunate development, it does not mean that she is beyond repair and that we should get rid of her; it just means we should probably wait longer and see what happens. sometimes it takes a while for politicians to develop the courage to take the right stands on important issues, if they think it might make them less popular or “electable”. while i usually agree with most of the things posted in the comments on huffingtonpost.com blog entries, and i certainly sympathize with the people who are vehement in their hatred of hillary clinton as a neocon sellout, i also sympathize with her side of the story too, having to act very carefully about what she says. i think the media often tends to bully politicians into taking ridiculous positions, by how they portray issues and brainwash the public to manipulate everyone and thereby change the results of public opinion polls. the media probably helped brainwash congress into approving the war in iraq, and they have had a similar role brainwashing congress into accepting the nsa spying on american citizens. first the media brainwashes the public, and then politicians have to do what the public wants, even though the public are mostly sheep/idiots. individually, of course, people are much more intelligent, but, taken as a large group, the intelligence level decreases, due to group psychology and the herd mentality. anyway, my point is, while hillary clinton is nowhere near perfect, and just barely acceptable, if that, i will probably vote for her anyway, since at least she isn’t as awful as joe lieberman (ugh!).

and some more of this pure madness is with regard to the senate confirming general michael hayden as cia director, and failing to do anything about the nsa wiretapping scandal, such as impeaching the president (or at least censuring him like russ feingold modestly proposed). so, congress has nothing against having the government spy on us. but then, when some moron who works at veterans affairs brings the personal info of 26 million veterans home and then gets it stolen from his house, suddenly congress cares about our privacy all of a sudden? fucking hypocrites. they think it is perfectly fine for the government to spy on everyone, but for some two-bit house thief to have access to the same data the government has, suddenly that’s a huge danger to the public safety. well excuse me uncle sam, but if you cannot secure your fucking computer networks to keep your data from falling into the wrong hands, maybe you shouldn’t be spying on all of us and keeping all of the data in your crappy insecure networks. i know of countless ways to hack the shit out of a computer and get all its data; there are a million ways to do it and there is no way in hell you clowns can protect against all of them so you might as well not collect the damn data in the first place. if you really want good i.t. security for your networks... well... you would have to monitor everything that anybody does at a computer, with video cameras. and it would be quite hard to have good security on microsoft windows-based systems; it is so complicated, and good security in microsoft windows requires the user’s active and positive cooperation with security software such as antivirus, antispyware, antitrojan, antiworm, and firewall programs, along with a proactive stance against dangerous activities like opening email attachments and downloading software. in unix-based operating systems, things are much different, and it is probably easier to have security, but if the entire government switched to some unix-based operating system like linux, freebsd, or mac os x, there would surely be great interest by hackers and the people who write spyware and viruses and trojans and worms. in any event, it is necessary that the computer users are all trustworthy individuals who are not enemy spies or criminals from organized crime or disgruntled misanthropes. no computer with classified or highly sensitive information should ever be connected to the internet, nor should any of these computers have usb enabled. disabling usb means no usb thumb drives can work; also, the computers need to have the cases physically locked shut to prevent people from messing around inside. the rom bios needs to be password-protected. the boot order must be hard drive first, and not allow for booting from a floppy or a cd or anything else. the operating system must be password-protected, and not allow for pressing f8 to bring up a menu, or for safe mode or anything like that. the “administrator” account should be renamed, have a really hard-to-guess password, and be disabled. and only very high-ranking i.t. personnel should have administrative access to any of the computers. all computers would have to have automatic updates enabled and to do everything automatically without asking the user anything. these are just the minimal security requirements; surely there is some weak point i did not think of, and any such weak points would also have to be addressed. and since that is so impossible, and it is only a matter of time before the nsa’s data leaks out like the veterans affairs data did, the government ought to mind its own fucking business.

but congress has reached new heights of insanity and depravity. democratic congressman william jefferson of louisiana is under investigation for corruption and taking bribes in exchange for official acts. the fbi raided his office lawfully after obtaining a warrant from a judge. and now the speaker of the house, the republican dennis hastert, and house democratic leader nancy pelosi, along with house judiciary committee chairman james sensenbrenner, these and other congressional leadership types from both parties are all singing the same tune, the same tune of being completely fucking out of touch with america and thinking they are above the damn law. news flash to congress: you are not above the law! if you commit a crime, you can go to jail. if a judge issues a warrant, they can search your office. this is how law and order works. you dipshits are supposed to understand this! and now you are all presenting yourselves as anti-corruption crusaders? yeah fucking right. i know the real reason congressional leadership wants to cover william jefferson’s ass. guess what: they know they are next. that’s right: the justice department is doing a massive investigation into criminal activity by lobbyists and members of congress, and jack abramoff, tom delay, bob ney, duke cunningham, and william jefferson are just the tip of the iceberg. congress has got to establish some kind of court ruling or precedent or tradition that says that it is above the law and the justice department doesn’t get to go around looking through congressional offices for evidence of criminal activity. now, certainly, there ought to be separation of powers, and the legislative branch has been weakened lately and the executive strengthened, in the 6 years of bush ii. but the legislative branch’s decline was its own doing; republican committee chairmen chose not to do any oversight or investigations into the bush administration. they allowed the executive branch to claim absolute power, to turn the president into a king. but now, when the legislators personally feel threatened, because they are afraid of being implicated in a massive corruption probe, they suddenly find their constitutions and remember the importance of separation of powers? what hypocrisy! and such me-tooism! instead of telling bush he isn’t above the law by censuring or impeaching him, they are asking the justice department to make them above the law just like president bush! well guess what suckers? you can’t have that many people all be above the law at once! you’ll have chaos! there is no way anyone should even consider letting congress be above the law. congress is only above the law in one sense, which does make sense to be preserved: people in congress can say whatever they want on the floor of the house or senate, and not be held responsible for any criminal or civil penalties for doing so. people in congress don’t have to be worrying about lawsuits if they say something that isn’t true about someone else. now, i think this particular protection makes sense. but, no protection for taking bribes makes sense, nor should congressional offices be off-limits to the fbi. making something off-limits to law enforcement is asking for trouble, almost guaranteeing that they will be hotbeds for illegal activity. just check out this quote from msnbc.com: “there is nothing unusual or illegal about a defense contractor with an open checkbook for campaign fund-raisers and seats to fill on a corporate jet.” you know what? MAYBE THERE SHOULD BE. you know my solution to this kind of corruption? shoot everyone involved in the head at point blank range. problem solved. our judicial system is too damn slow, just look how long it took to get ken lay and jeff skilling convicted. who needs evidence, anyway? let’s just give guns to the news reporters who know who the corrupt people are, and let them kill whoever they want without any punishment, and i guarantee you that very quickly, things would be a helluva lot less corrupt in our nation’s capital. let’s have a coup d’etat in THIS country, and show our dear leaders what they have been doing to all the other countries of the world. maybe a military dictator might be the only way to wake people in this country up and make them realize that something is horribly wrong, since most people seem to bury their heads in the sand and pretend our democracy is somehow functional or actually represents the common people somehow instead of just corrupt special interests. and let’s thank great britain for being complicit in our war crimes for so many years (for example, try and guess what happened to the original inhabitants of diego garcia). and if you think THAT’S bad, guess what happened to the people who lived on the island of bikini atoll? you don’t wanna know, but it has something to do with the biggest nuclear bomb ever detonated. it seems like you can do pretty much anything to pacific islanders and get away with it... too few of them to fight back.

and guess what some of our beloved soldiers, our troops, the ones we all support so much, did? they shot and killed about 24 innocent iraqis in some small town in iraq last year, in cold blood. and the whole thing is well-documented and our own government is actually acknowledging it took place, and it’s worse than abu gharaib. these marines who killed the innocent civilians... these are not troops that i support. i do not support the troops. i support the civilians, the ones who are unarmed. i support the human rights of civilians not to be shot and killed arbitrarily, or blown up by bombs, or beheaded. are there any troops i support? probably. i think so. but only if they follow the “rules of engagement” to the letter, and hold their fire against innocent civilians. and i think most soldiers on the ground probably do not go around killing innocent civilians. airplane pilots, on the other hand... they can drop bombs and shoot missiles, impersonally sending bombs from far away. i do not support their butchery. they are simply told to shoot various “targets”, without knowing who or what is there, and expected to obey orders, which they do. and what is the result? innocent civilians die from this, quite often. it is usually called “collateral damage” or some other misnomer that hides the nature of this brutal massacre. still, we cannot really hold the pilots themselves responsible, since they would face quite harsh punishment if they refused to follow orders. in the end, the civilian leadership of the military is responsible; they are the ones who have committed war crimes. the military itself are simply the hapless pawns of the civilian leadership and don rumsfeld, although this does not absolve the military of all of its crimes. but how can we judge whether this was simply individuals committing war crimes, or an entire institution? who is really to blame? the idea of holding an institution itself responsible is ridiculous, because an institution such as the united states military is simply a set of individual human beings, along with various other things that are part of the institution. but really, certain people in this institution of the military are responsible for the bad things, and other people are honorably trying to do their job as best they can. most of the soldiers are good people. but they are in a bad situation, it makes them desperate and feel in danger, and this can make good people go bad, and commit atrocities. we must really examine this phenomenon more closely in order to establish who is truly guilty of these crimes, and what the chain of causality that led to them is. it is an encouraging sign that the u.s. government will be prosecuting those soldiers who took part in this particular massacre that is in the news. but how many other massacres were there that we didn’t hear about? and who created the conditions that led to this massacre occuring in the first place? this is the real madness. for most of our troops, i still think we should give them the benefit of the doubt, and treat them as heroes, for theirs is a thankless task, fighting a losing war in a dangerous and chaotic nation. but as we do this, we must never forget that among our military there are those who have spilt the blood of the innocent on purpose and not been punished. that is why honoring them as heroes is even more important. it may spur some of them who have guilty consciences to confess their crimes, after thinking about how they are undeserving of all of the praise. and for the ones who did nothing wrong, this will help their emotional stability after all of the traumatic experiences of war. we ought to appreciate those who did their job right, to send a message to those who did it wrong. and we should also show our support for the innocent civilians of the countries we invade, the ones who die because of the misguided bloodlust of a small percentage of our soldiers. one way to show our support for them would be to ban depleted uranium from being used in war. because the use of depleted uranium munitions is, quite simply, yet another example of pure madness, and it is a crime against humanity. it gives people cancer and other diseases, polluting the environment for many years with dangerous radioactive toxins. unfortunately, the politicians in washington don’t seem to care about this issue, and they accept the pentagon lies about depleted uranium being safe. craziness. all i know is, as strange as it may sound, alberto gonzales, bush’s attorney general who wrote the pro-torture memo, is now suddenly a hero in my book, because he is standing on principle in saying that congress is not above the law, and if congress succeeds in making itself above the law, he has pledged to resign in protest, along with his deputy attorney general and the fbi director. alberto gonzalez may not usually be on the right side of the issues, but on this one he is truly standing up for what is right, so he ought to be praised for belatedly finding the light. if me praising alberto gonzales is not madness, i don’t know what is.

Friday, May 26, 2006

hooray for my cousin

wow... my cousin sîan héder made a film called mother last year, that i saw, a very good short film, and not only has it gotten first place in a film festival in florida, and gotten into the cannes film festival, and gotten into the la times as a news item (as well as the boston globe), but now her film has come in #3 at the cannes film festival! kick ass! right now i'm visiting her parents, my aunt and uncle, who are famous artists in cambridge, massachusetts; they just told me about it. and her sister thyra, another cousin of mine, is graduating brown university tomorrow. so things seem kind of hectic for my aunt and uncle and those cousins, i guess. i was playing with my aunt and uncle's pet turtle, alfie, who is a female turtle about 12 years old, i think. i took alfie out of her aquarium and let her walk around inside, and also outside in the grass, but i always supervised to make sure she didn't run away. luckily turtles are slow so it was not much of a risk. now the turtle seems very tired from all the exercise from running around outside; apparently they hardly ever take it out of the aquarium. i am not a big turtle expert but i feel bad for alfie because i may have exhausted the poor beast and made her tired. i was at harvard yard earlier today and it was quite nice there, although the performance artists that live in the streets and are begging for money are kind of annoying but also interesting. like this one girl was all covered in silver paint and pretending to be a statue, and had a jar out to collect tips. and there was this family with a sign out saying they were homeless, and they had a dog and a cat sitting there with them, and the sign said they also need food for their pets. right now i'm using an apple macintosh ibook notebook that used to belong to my cousin thyra but she got a newer better mac and gave this to her parents... it is kind of hard to use these mac computers for someone like me who is not used to it, but i installed mozilla firefox with a bunch of extensions, so at least i have a decent web browser to post this blog entry from. i hope my aunt and uncle and whoever uses this computer try out firefox because it's really nice. the computer also has an old version of safari and internet explorer for the mac, but since it has os x 1.2, it is kind of out of date. at least it can run the latest version of firefox though; that's a mercy. my aunt and uncle are real big on cooking great food, we had this big salmon thing the first night, and last night we had jamaican jerk chicken and these wonderful sausages. cambridge is a nice place, it is too bad i was rejected by both colleges here, but luckily cornell still took me. anyway, buh-bye.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


wow, it seems like the government is full of idiots. the senate intelligence committe just voted 12-3 in favor of bush’s nominee for cia director, michael hayden. this comes after these same people openly criticized hayden prior to his nomination and said he would be the wrong choice. hypocrisy anyone? ok, so people are entitled to change their minds... so what? this dude was responsible for the program to wiretap phone calls people make with other people overseas, meaning the government actually listens to what you say sometimes if you call the wrong people overseas. and the much bigger, wider telephone surveillance program he did at the nsa was one where they didn’t really listen to what you said, they just knew who called who at what number and when the call started and ended. this much bigger program is the one that is meant to monitor ALL phone calls in the united states, using “data mining” to look for “suspicious calling patterns”, and this is the one that the qwest phone company turned down, while verizon, bellsouth, and at&t all said yes. since my phone company is verizon, i am pretty pissed off. this is supposed to be a free country, and we have the bill of rights, yet the clowns in the senate flip-flop, and after dissing general hayden and saying he’s the wrong guy for the job, now they suddenly think he is awesome. wtf? at least 3 senators on the committee managed to remember to bring their brains inside their heads, including the only senator i actually trust to do the right thing consistently, russ feingold of wisconsin. russ feingold is that rare type of politician who actually means what he says and consistently stands up for what is right and opposes what is wrong instead of looking at polls and being a flip-flopping pansy like over 90% of the politicians in washington. the rest of them are mostly idiots.

speaking of idiotic politicians in washington, there is this corrupt democratic congressman from louisiana named william jefferson (without the clinton at the end). he took bribes and stashed the cash in his freezer. what a friggen moron! that dude is gonna go to jail, so the democratic leadership had best not defend him, or else their whole campaign of openness, honesty, and anti-corruption is going to look a little shabby come november. and yesterday i was watching the idiots in congress debate a bill that would keep us from giving any aid to the palestinian authority as long as it is run by hamas (with a few silly exceptions that don’t mean anything). the chief person arguing for it is a guy i like to call “dracula”, namely congressman tom lantos of california. tom lantos is the ranking member on the house international relations committee, but what really gets me about him is that he is hungarian and has a strong hungarian accent. i am half hungarian and have many hungarian family members with strong accents, but i have always sort of thought of them as sounding like dracula, but nobody sounds more like dracula than tom lantos. the other person in the house i have a nickname for is “dr. evil”, a.k.a. bill thomas, chairman of the ways and means committee. that is because when he talks, he sounds exactly like dr. evil from the austin powers movies (although he does look completely different). oddly enough, they are both from california. anyway, this bill that dracula and his colleagues were arguing in favor of was really really dumb. see, there are these people called “muslims”, and they “dislike” this country called “the united states of america”, because of its “foreign policy”. if “the united states of america” had better “foreign policy”, the “muslims” might not “dislike” it anymore. but does dracula care? no, he and his friends are all supporting this bill that would make it illegal for the united states to help pay the salaries of people who work for the palestinian authority. the palestinian economy depends on the salaries of these public sector employees being paid (many of them are nice, harmless people such as elementary school teachers and doctors and nurses). the palestinian territories are much poorer than israel, which is a wealthy country. if we want muslims to stop hating us, we have to show that we care about them and don’t want to dominate them with imperialism. helping out the palestinians would be a nice way to do this, and another nice way would be to withdraw our troops from iraq and instead of spending so much money on the military occupation, we would just give all those billions directly to the iraqi government and to non-governmental organizations to spend on rebuilding the country. and we should stop being assholes to the iranians, who just want nuclear power plants, not nuclear bombs. they say they just want nuclear power and not bombs, and if we do not believe them, why do we not simply allow them to make power plants but use weapons inspectors to make sure they are not building the bombs? instead we want to prevent them from making nuclear power plants in the first place, or prevent them from enriching any uranium. back when the shah was in charge of iran, the united states government supported giving them nuclear power and having them enrich uranium. and we are helping india out with this, even when india never signed a non-proliferation treaty and iran did, and even though india has nukes and iran doesn’t! we are such hypocrites! this is a main reason for muslims to dislike us, because we are discriminating against iran due to its islamic government. iran has a much better human rights record than saudi arabia, but you never hear us criticize the saudis for executing innocent people; they are our allies with all the oil, so we let them do whatever the fuck they want. most of the 9/11 hijackers were from saudi arabia, yet the saudis never let us question their friends or family... and yet we are friends with the saudis and enemies of the iranians, when the iranians have not done anything bad to us since the iranian hostage crisis over 25 yeas ago! and why do we like general pervez musharraf in pakistan so much, when he is a fascist dictator? what about a. q. khan giving pakistani nuclear secrets to iran, libya, and north korea? why do we turn a blind eye to the fact that osama bin laden is alive and well and lives in pakistan? and what is the deal with our puppet leader in afghanistan, hamid karzai? he was once a part of the taliban, but he is an opportunist who changed sides when he saw which side his bread was buttered on. we need to stop trying to build an empire in the middle east with these rogues, and treat the countries there in a more consistent, less discriminatory manner. if we had a more compassionate, less imperialist, less idiotic foreign policy, we might be able to have some more success in stopping all this anti-americanism and terrorism.

but one thing i am thankful for is the re-election of mayor ray nagin in new orleans. he is one guy who will tell it like it is and not fuck around with bullshit like the other politicians. he was running against the brother of a senator and son of a former mayor, the lieutenant governor of louisiana, mitch landreiu. enough with the cronyism and family political dynasties! i have had enough of the adamses, the roosevelts, the kennedies, the bushes, the clintons, and all the other families that aspire to be american royalty. one president john adams was enough. two president roosevelts were enough. jfk and rfk were enough. the first bush was enough. bill clinton was enough. just say no to political dynasties! they are un-american. but ray nagin is the quintessential american, with his folksy dialect and no-nonsense attitude. he is the man who can rebuild the Chocolate City! his phone call to that radio station during hurricane katrina was, quite literally, a Real Wake-Up Call (cuz it really was a call, since it was a phone call). now earlier i was talking about idiots, and yes it is probably true that ray nagin is an idiot, but he is a good idiot, the kind who actually cares.

and one last idiotic thing about the middle east... our idiotic prez-o-dent is endorsing the israeli prime minister ehud olmert’s proposal to unilaterally draw the borders between israel and palestine. wow is that ever dumb. i mean, hello? that is not going to get us any brownie points with the people who are waiting for their 72 virgins in heaven after they achieve martyrdom. i mean, come on... there is a big fight, i wouldn’t call it a civil war, between the palestinian factions of fatah and hamas, but both of them have their armed wings that engage in terrorist activity. even fatah, the beloved fatah of yasser arafat and mahmoud abbas, has terrorists in it: the al aqsa martyrs brigade, to be precise. but we negotiated with them! we are still willing to talk to mahmoud abbas, even though he has terrorists under his command. so why not talk to hamas? i mean, yes, hamas does do terrorism and it does want to destroy israel, but isn’t that even more of a reason to talk to those bastards, to try and talk some sense into their crazy little heads? if we ostracize them, they will just get nuttier and nuttier, and hate us even more. if we want them to stop doing terrorism and recognize israel, why don’t we tell it to their face instead of telling them what to do from washington, d.c. and we have to recognize what terrorism really is. terrorism is not an ideology or a group of people. terrorism is a military tactic used in unconventional war. terrorists are not criminals in the law-and-order sense, although they could be considered war criminals perhaps. really what they are is soldiers in a war against us. and their tactic is to attack easy targets that are not defended, rather than well-defended military installations, and to use bombs and the element of surprise to their advantage in this war. but we must not confuse the issue of what terrorism is; it is a military tactic, and a very good one, but often it violates international law. really we are fighting a war against islamic extremists. but some of what we do in this war could probably be called “terrorism”, depending on how you define the word, which is why we should not refer to terrorism in the first place. it is better to think of hamas as an army fighting a war against israel, rather than a bunch of terrorists; terrorism is just the tactic that the army of hamas uses against the army of israel in the war the 2 armies are fighting. the army of israel uses tactics like collective punishment, but we do not call them terrorists, so why use this term in the first place, when it simply leads to confusion? if we regard this as a military conflict, then of course the leaders can meet and negotiate a peace treaty, just like robert e. lee met with ulysses s. grant to negotiate a peace treaty when their armies were fighting. let us not complicate the issue with irrelevant terms like “terrorism”. we can denounce their terrorist military tactics as violating international law, and call them war criminals, but there is no 3rd option besides law enforcement problem and military conflict. the u.s. government is trying to portray terrorism as something that is neither a law enforcement problem (so no due process or trials for terrorists) nor a military conflict (so no geneva convention for enemy combatants), but something else entirely (so terrorists have neither the protections afforded criminals nor those afforded captured enemy soldiers). this hypocrisy must end, and unless we choose the ridiculous option of calling them criminals, we must recognize them as enemy soldiers under international law. and, as enemy soldiers, once we capture them, we can keep them imprisoned until the war against them is over, without putting them on trial; all we have to do is afford them geneva convention protections while they are imprisoned. this doctrine of declaring them to be enemy soldiers could also be helpful to israel, since it could simply achieve military victory against hamas and then demand an unconditional surrender. this would be just like robert e. lee and ulysses s. grant, who was sometimes referred to as u. s. grant, with the u. s. standing for unconditional surrender, since this is what general grant demanded of the confederacy. such an unconditional surrender at the end of world war i could have possibly avoided the indignations that germany suffered that led to adolf hitler coming to power and world war ii occurring. anyway, that is all for today. adios!

Monday, May 22, 2006

the cia: evil conspiracy or heroic defenders of freedom?

i came across an interesting site run by the cia, which is mainly full of declassified articles about the history of the agency. it has some very fascinating reading on it, and i highly recommend it to anyone who is a conspiracy theorist or wants to find out more about the cia (short for central intelligence agency). i found out about all sorts of things, like the history of how the cia was created, and the very fascinating history of the cia bungling public relations and fanning the flames of conspiracy theorists throughout its history. if you study the history of the ufo controversy and cia involvement, you will see that the cia constantly lied and covered up the existence of the secret u2 spy plane program in the late 1950s, for example. another defining moment in the history of the cia was the coup it organized against the democratically elected leader of iran in 1953 that put the shah in power. the cia also horribly mishandled the public relations when a rogue district attorney in new orleans prosecuted an innocent businessman for conspiring to kill president john f. kennedy with cia assistance, based on faulty information from an italian communist newspaper; this ended up being the basis for oliver stone’s movie jfk. all of these great mistakes are chronicled in great detail in various articles on that site, which is where i found out about them. it is all quite interesting and illuminating. it seems the central intelligence agency does not make any great claims at infallibility; indeed, it is publicly admitting to all of these great mistakes, on its own website. it is rather ironic then, because a skeptic might ask, if the cia has lied so much in the past, why on earth would anyone trust it now? obviously, the answer is quite simple: most of the stuff in these articles happened long ago and can easily be fact-checked from other independent sources. the portrait these articles paint of the cia is not a very flattering one; the cia seems to have been plagued by incompetence and people doing their own thing without oversight, ever since it was founded, although in the 1970s, when congress began its oversight, things did improve somewhat. there is an article on how the cia consistently got it right on vietnam throughout the vietnam war, but how the closed-minded kennedy and johnson administrations refused to admit things were going wrong. more recently, some in the cia tried to undermine the bush administration and get john kerry elected president, according to the neocons at the weekly standard, but unfortunately the cia fucked up, like usual. all in all, the cia is a maze of contradictions. both accountable and secretive, according to president bush. both incompetent and brilliantly effective at times. both good and evil. but, it is undoubtedly a very complex organization. however, the history of the organization shows quite clearly its true nature. since its inception, the cia has been fighting a constant struggle to assert itself, to demonstrate its importance, to maintain its secrecy, and to defend its reputation. on all of these counts it has had many failures that are publicly known. but, its successes are things that are not known to the public. things that are secret, that worked... these are its true secrets. the cia always says that it wants to protect “sources and methods” by keeping various things classified, but what is ironic is, this stance makes the cia all too willing to discuss its myriad of failures since it was founded in 1947, yet they are obliged to keep their successes private. i imagine this must be quite annoying for them, which is probably why they have this website in the first place. but does that website really enhance their reputation, or just make them look even more incompetent? all signs point to incompetent. but at least the cia is openly willing to admit to its many faults, and does not deny any of them. so, i do believe the information on that site is accurate, because it would not make any sense at all for them to portray themselves in such a degrading manner if it were untrue. i just think, the whole enterprise seems rather pathetic, as a whole. but it was interesting to read that just 3 years into his presidency, george washington was spending 12% of the national budget on secret intelligence matters. there was really no oversight of intelligence matters until the 1970s, which marks almost 200 years of spooks holding free reign. but several articles discuss u.s. intelligence matters at the time of world war i, when it seems the united states intelligence services were in quite a disarray, understaffed and marred by infighting, and relying on a nationwide organization of self-appointed ultra-patriotic civilian spies who took the law into their own hands, with both comic and tragic consequences as their system of vigilante justice failed. this civilian organization was loosely affiliated with the justice department, while the justice department’s fbi and the treasury department’s secret service fought endless battles for power and prestige and for the support of president woodrow wilson. i think the fbi had a different name back then, i forget what it was. and there was a quite interesting article about a secret contact with high-ranking nazi official heinrich himmler during world war ii. if that had been handled properly, there is a possibility that we could have avoided the cold war by allying with the remnants of the nazis after a coup d’etat organized by himmler against hitler, and together going to war against the soviet union and defeating communism once and for all. but, this would have obviously had tragic consequences, since himmler was a war criminal, and this would have perpetuated the holocaust. a more likely scenario about what would happen if himmler tried to organize a coup against hitler is, himmler would have been found out and executed, but this would have caused major disarray and led to germany getting defeated earlier, and this could have saved many lives on both sides. but as the article astutely points out, it is impossible to really know what would have happened, and perhaps it was for the best that we chose to ignore himmler and maintained our alliance with the russians until the end of the war. in any event, i think the cia today is not doing well, especially after the fiasco of porter goss’s tenure, and it will probably be quite some time before they are able to get many people of the caliber of john walker lindh working for them. i mean, how easy was it for john walker lindh to just go off and join the taliban? and the cia can’t get any agents to join al qaeda? and the cia doesn’t have any clue about what is going on in iran nowadays or if it is pursuing nukes? i know this is easy for me to say and hindsight is 20/20 and i am monday-morning-quarterbacking, but seriously... come on. the cia is incompetent. they need to be fixed, so they can actually do what they are meant to do. and as for coups, i think the cia has become outdated and useless, and the u.s. government has increasingly turned to newer groups like the national endowment for democracy in order to carry out revolutions abroad. after george tenet’s famous “slam dunk”, the cia is pretty much a joke. they have become irrelevant, and all the real action is being done by other groups that are not accountable to congress. you know, ones like the national security agency, or the ones inside the defense department, or the shadowy foundations like the national endowment for democracy, or the new office of the director of national intelligence (dni). if the cia is to survive, it has to prove its worth, or else these other organizations will sideline it even more, until it becomes as irrelevant as fema and congress decides to scrap it entirely.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

a new test

well... i have a new test of my a+ certified computer technician abilities. yes, i passed the official tests necessary to get certified, but now i have a real computer problem to fix. a computer that doesn’t work, that has strange errors, and crashes pretty regularly, for no apparent reason, when i’m in the middle of something. there, i gave it away. yeah, it’s my computer. my computer is broken. and, if i am anywhere near as good at fixing computers as i claim to be and as my a+ certification ought to indicate, i sure as hell ought to be able to fix my own damn computer when it has a problem like this. so, i gotta fix my computer. now, the most recent time it crashed, i actually got an error message, unlike before. it said “bad_pool_caller”. usually the error message at windows xp stop screens that i have seen is “irql_not_less_or_equal”. so this is something new, something i never saw before. now there are strange noises that come from the computer every time i turn it on or restart, a sort of clunking noise, which, from my studies, probably indicates that the hard drive is fucked up and might suddenly stop working at any time. so, i should back up all my data. and my research online seems to indicate this particular bad_pool_caller error is often associated with bad memory, but it could also be caused by bad drivers or bad hardware. for the time being, i am re-enabling the error reporting service and automatic rebooting so that the next time an error like this occurs, it automatically reboots and then sends all the information to microsoft. that will allow me to see if they know what the problem is. now maybe this is something serious, and maybe i don’t have that much time, and maybe the hard drive is about to crap out for good... but i really don’t want to have to deal with this stupid problem, i have other shit to worry about. i suppose besides that i should probably get this program called memtest86 and use it in dos mode to test all of my computer’s memory. finally my dual-boot setup between dos and windows xp will be useful! that’s right, i have a dual-boot setup between ms-dos 7.10 and windows xp professional, using the windows nt boot menu system that comes with xp. the dos boot sector is in... get this... a file called bootsect.dos. wow. how original. plus i have other important files for dos, like io.sys, msdos.sys, command.com, etc. and i have the nt boot files like ntldr, ntdetect.com, and boot.ini. so, i have 2 operating systems... on a single hard drive partition! they said that it can’t be done, but i did it. a single fat32 partition, 80 gigabytes, supports both windows xp professional and ms-dos 7.10. of course i couldn’t format it using my bootable windows xp installation cd... it can only format a drive fat32 if the drive is 32 gigabytes or less. for larger drives... you have to format from dos. there is no other way, unless you have some fancy-ass expensive utility like partition magic or paragon partition manager. or i suppose you could probably do it for free from linux, but that is a crazy idea, because i don’t know linux, i know dos, and i can do it from dos, easy. so, that’s how i formatted the drive, from dos. i actually used free fdisk 1.3.0 beta to format it, back in december. you can find it on the internet, if you are an expert at finding stuff on the internet. free fdisk 1.3.0 beta is awesome. well actually, i just used that to partition it as fat32, technically. to format it, i actually used microsoft’s format.com utility from ms-dos 7.10. and of course the ms-dos 7.10 i refer to comes as a part of windows 98 second edition. it comes with a few earlier versions of windows, like windows 95 oem service release 2, and windows 98 original release, but windows 98 second edition has the best versions of all the files. now the ms-dos 7.10 i use is actually not entirely the one from windows 98 second edition, because it has many files replaced with alternative ones from other sources (in dos most commands are .exe or .com files, so if you know how to search the internet like a pro you can find the best ones for each command). on richmcgrew.com you can find a disk i made that has the special custom bastardized version of ms-dos 7.10 that has most of the files replaced with alternative ones from other sources, and it is based on the custom bastardized version of ms-dos 7.10 made by wengier and roy at the china dos union. basically they took several files from ms-dos 7.10 that comes with windows 98 second edition, and they somehow edited out all of the stuff that was unnecessary, and made the files as small as possible. so there are smaller versions of io.sys, command.com, and himem.sys, for example. they also did it for a bunch of other less important files too but those are the three most important ones they screwed around with. their bastardized, slimmed down versions of the files are much better than the originals, especially if you want to be running dos programs and have a lot of conventional memory free, or if you want to make a boot disk and save space by using small files. anyway, i kinda got off on a tangent there, but my point is, i am dual-booting between wengier and roy’s slimmed down version of ms-dos 7.10, and microsoft windows xp professional with service pack 2, and they are both on the same 80 gigabyte fat32 drive. the point of all this is, if windows crashes and stops working, i know i can count on dos as a backup, and be able to back up all my files safely from dos. it is basically convenience for someone like me who has a mystical appreciation for things like dos that are so retro and out of fashion that they only seem cool to someone as insane as me. and that is why my hard drive is fat32, because the default for windows xp, ntfs, is quite a bitch to get working under dos. there are ways to get ntfs working under dos, yes, but they are quite a chore, and a lot more iffy than fat32. 2 such utilities are sysinternals/winternals ntfsdos and datapol ntfs4dos. i wouldn’t trust either of them on a bet. the ntfs filesystem is very complicated and its details are kept hidden by microsoft so other software developers can’t take advantage of it, and it is really just a big complicated proprietary mess, and in case anything goes wrong, the only people who have a clue would be microsoft. fat32 on the other hand is very simple and straightforward and a lot easier for software developers to write software to directly interface with. it doesn’t have the bloat or secrecy of ntfs streams, file permissions, compression, encryption, or raid array support, which are all “features” of ntfs. but it’s funny... with some things, the more features it has, the less you trust it. and none of those features are things i would ever need or have any interest in, so for me, the simplicity of fat32 is superior in every respect. microsoft can crow about how ntfs is superior all they want, but if my computer ever has serious problems and windows stops working, i want a system that will at least let me have full read-write access from dos without any major headaches. so for the time being, i will just wait for this problem to happen again, and see if it happens differently the next time. i know that is a foolish approach, but i would like to observe the incubation period of this particular problem a bit longer so i can see exactly what i am dealing with. otherwise, it would be difficult for me to learn much experimentally. another thing i have suspicion about is the motherboard (besides the memory and the hard disk). the motherboard is a very suspicious component because it is actually a whole lot of moderately suspicious components all integrated together onto one giant circuit board. if just one of them goes wrong, the whole thing can be fucked up. so just based on size and complexity alone, the motherboard beats out any add-on card, except perhaps a video card. video cards are another sort of suspicious entity that you have to beware of, because they process a lot more data than other add-on cards, and are absolutely vital since they are in use all the time; modern video cards generate a lot of heat and often they actually need fans to keep cool, which means there is plenty of likelihood of failure. another thing that can really fuck a computer up is stuff you connect to it, like a big giant monitor or a huge subwoofer for a surround sound system. those types of things can zap the hell out of computers with big surges of electricity when you turn them on, because sometimes monitors or big subwoofer boxes have a lot of electricity inside them just waiting to attack any computer they get connected to. subwoofers also sometimes burn themselves out, creating some smoke and a burning smell, but usually there aren’t any flames... that happened to me once. the subwoofer i have now is the same model as the one that went up in smoke. and my parents’ computer has an evil monitor. mainly the monitor is evil because it is old, but it also zapped the hell out of this one video card, a trident pci card that had 8 megabytes of video ram. ever since that infamous zapping, that monitor has behaved itself, and the zapping incident was understandable, because the monitor had been sitting outside in the sun on a hot summer day, and then brought inside and hooked up to a computer. i am not exactly sure of the electrodynamics of it, but somehow, sitting in the hot sun and then being brought into an air-conditioned house does certain things to a monitor that make it just want to zap the hell out of whatever you hook it up to. electricity doesn’t really make much sense to me, actually... i never studied electrical engineering and i don’t know much physics. my college education in computers was all about software, and practically ignored hardware. the class for a+ certification and the books on it have covered a few basics about electricity, but it still seems like something too complicated for me to grasp fully; i am aware that many phenomena exist that are beyond my understanding, given my lack of education in this topic. so when one of these phenomena occurs, such as the monitor zapping a video card, it baffles me as to why that would happen. the photoelectric effect? an endothermic reaction? the earth’s magnetic field? electromagnetic induction? who the fuck knows? all i know is, electricity is pretty fucking complicated, and although we all take it for granted, most of us have no idea how it works, the resistors and capacitors and transistors and diodes and transformers and ac-dc and voltage and power and current. or how about a motor or a generator or an electromagnet or a light bulb. did you know that light and electromagnetic radiation are synonyms? why the fuck is that true? i have no clue. i don’t see any connection between light, electricity, and magnets. and what is the electromagnetic force, and why are there exactly 4 forces (gravity, electromagnetic, strong, and weak)? none of this shit makes any sense. so anyway, i am going to try and figure out what is going on here, despite the fact that i don’t understand electricity. what i do know is, too much electricity will fry a circuit and it will burn and there will be smoke and it will smell bad. but is that too much current, or voltage, or power, or what? i just say too much electricity. then at least i have everything covered. zappy zap zap zap zap. and if a spark is a form of electricity (static?) then why is a gun not considered an electric circuit? the gun sets off a spark to explode the gunpowder, producing a gaseous explosion that sends the bullet out of the chamber at high speed. isn’t the spark a form of electricity, and therefore a circuit? i know when people talk about lightning rods going into the ground they talk about completing the circuit, and a spark is the same thing as lightning except smaller (less big!). but in either case it can start fire. so why is light electromagnetic radiation, instead of fire, or sound, or heat, or something? seems kind of arbitrary to me, but i know there is some deeper sort of connection between light, electricity, and magnets that somehow justifies it. i just don’t know what that connection is, because my understanding of these concepts is about the same level as an unfrozen caveman from 10,000 years ago (fire bad! big light shoot from sky, make loud noise, start fire! what is machine? how it work? me not know.). i hope i can still fix computers. i should probably study this stuff.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

the wrong side of history

when historians look back on the bush jr. era, they will undoubtedly see that bush’s arrogance, anti-intellectualism, and messianic delusion that he is somehow the world’s greatest defender of freedom had a lot to do with his public and foreign policy shortcomings. but, while it is easy for any detail-oriented policy wonk to discuss at length how bush is a massive failure in just about every aspect of policy, he does have his defenders. in fact, there are certain intellectuals who formed the intellectual basis for many of his policies, most notably, the neoconservatives who have many of their kind holding prominent posts in his administration. and the main magazine that publishes pure neoconservative intellectually masturbatory nonsense is the weekly standard. when reading the weekly standard, it is often difficult for a rational, well-informed person to avoid feeling like they are going to puke, or wondering whether the people who write the articles actually have brains or are complete dipshits. but when we talk about a neoconservative or a neoliberal, we have to remember: a neoconservative is completely different from a real conservative, and a neoliberal is completely different from a real liberal. neoconservative intellectuals like the people who write articles at the weekly standard are not conservatives, nor are they liberals. they are a different beast entirely, one far more dangerous and far less rational. here i will try to summarize their ridiculous worldview and why they are on the wrong side of history.

the neoconservative movement was originally started by followers of max shactman, who was an american communist thinker and a follower of leon trotsky. other early neoconservatives were irving kristol (the father of weekly standard editor william "bill" kristol), university of chicago economist leo strauss, and james burnham, a founding editor of the national review. max shactman and his followers originally believed in communism and trotsky, but at some point, shactman became disillusioned with communism and trotsky, and he ended up being staunchly anti-communist. they replaced the communist doctrines of worldwide proletarian revolution with their own doctrines of worldwide democratic revolution against dictatorships and communist regimes. they became firm believers that “people everywhere just want to be free”, and that one-size-fits-all western-style multi-party democracy should be the form of government in every country in the entire world, regardless of that country’s specific circumstances, culture, or history.

the neoconservatives, or “neocons” for short, also are strong believers in capitalism, and they oppose socialism, left-wing movements, and communism with equal fervor. they have particular disdain for anyone who sympathizes with or proclaims their support for anyone they consider to be too left-wing. just as important to them as their belief in democracy is their belief in free-market capitalism, and they do not support democracies in which socialist leaders get elected and then nationalize industries. they view any socialist leader who acts in such a way as an undemocratic tyrant, even if such a leader has the support of the vast majority of their country’s people. neoconservatives view everything from the point of view of the united states’s ruling class and its interests, and as such, they have a very skewed view of things, especially things that happen in other countries whose class structure is different from in the united states. they cannot understand why anyone would support a socialist, even though their movement started out with former socialists, because they think that history has proven that capitalism is correct and all other forms of economic organization are fundamentally flawed. moreover, they assume that working-class people in third-world countries ought to understand the supposed benefits of free-market capitalism, and that if they vote for socialists, they are voting against their own best interests and are being coerced by propaganda which, in the neocons’ view, must be untrue.

the neocons believe in a highly interventionist foreign policy for the united states, and they believe in having military spending be as high as possible. they think the united states should be the world’s only superpower, and should keep its military spending many times higher than any other nation, and use its great military might to promote the great causes of capitalism and democracy. they also believe that capitalism and democracy can be forced on other people by the barrel of a gun. and, they are willing to compromise on the democracy front; instead of supporting a “temporary dictatorship of the proletariat”, they support a “temporary dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”. they are very elitist and do not take in consideration the views of average people; neocons believe that they are smarter than everyone else and that they have a monopoly on the truth. as such, they refuse to believe anything that offends their sensibilities, instead dismissing it as lies and propaganda. they believe that the united states is the greatest force for good in the world, and in their eyes, the united states can do no wrong. they think united states foreign policy is always righteous and good; the only thing they criticize about united states foreign policy is when it is too weak or diplomatic, when we do not flex our muscles and bend others to our will. they think that people such as noam chomsky who criticize u.s. foreign policy are crazy cranks who are completely out of touch with reality, and that anybody who even considers that the united states has less than noble intentions with regard to the rest of the world ought to be confined to the loony bin.

so, the neocons, these aggressive defenders of the united states ruling class, are at best useful idiots for the large corporations, defense contractors, and other elements of the ruling class. the people who really understand what is going on do not have this same black-and-white view of everything being either totally right or totally wrong, and no shades of gray in between. the people in the ruling class who really understand things have a much more nuanced, shades-of-gray view of reality that can account for the true nature of things, and because they are able to perceive reality in a more-or-less reasonable manner, they are much better situated to act effectively and be successful. but neocon intellectuals are not really that smart. they are tribal, us versus them type thinkers, unable to ever see the bigger picture of any given situation. neoconservatives view every conflict as a zero sum game, they never question whether they are right, and their sole purpose is to win at any cost. as such, they are very out of touch with reality and unable to deal with changing circumstances or with the consequences of their own actions. they are like little children, going around making messes, and then blaming it on other people and saying they were right.

so, president bush is surrounded by neocons, and they have brainwashed him into their ridiculous ideology, because it appeals to him. besides their magazine the weekly standard, the neocons also have their own special little think tank, the project for a new american century. they have considerable appeal and influence inside the larger conservative think-tanks, the american enterprise institute and the heritage foundation. but, they are not conservatives. a conservative is someone who values, first and foremost, tradition, who likes stability and the rule of law, who tends to think society is in a state of moral decay and that religion should play a more prominent role in restoring traditional morality. conservatives instinctually oppose all change, except change that makes things more like the way they used to be, back in the “good ole days” that all conservatives look back on so wistfully. conservatives believe in moral absolutes, and they do not think that any society could have its moral absolutes get better over time, since absolutes are set in stone. the only way a society can become more moral, in the conservative view, is if it increasingly embraces tradition and if new ideas that conflict with tradition become less and less common and less and less popular. a neoconservative is not a conservative, not by any means whatsoever. they are incompatible viewpoints, and the neoconservatives have only temporarily allied themselves with the conservatives to support george w. bush. in the past, neoconservatives have sometimes allied themselves with liberals when it was convenient for them to do so.

and what are liberals? a liberal is someone whose primary concern is making the world a better place, and helping out those who need help the most. the liberal thought framework is one of oppression-liberation. liberals identify many groups of people, or sometimes causes such as the environment, that they see as being oppressed, and then they set out to liberate whoever is being oppressed from that oppression. the notion of political correctness was invented by liberals to castigate conservatives that the liberals viewed as being the oppressors of various minority groups. the purpose of political correctness is to ostracize from polite society anyone who makes uninformed remarks insulting an entire category of people, i.e., someone who makes illegitimate overgeneralizations about large groups of people in order to make those groups look bad. there has always been plenty of backlash against political correctness, because sometimes there are certain advocacy groups that accuse innocent people of making uninformed overgeneralizations, when in fact the people accused of this thought crime were simply pointing out an undeniable truth. for a perfect example of this, you can look at the reaction various jewish/pro-israel/zionist advocacy groups had to the paper by john mearsheimer and stephen walt about the pro-israel lobby in the united states. however, in many cases, people actually do say ridiculous, unfounded, hurtful things about large groups of people that are unjustified. for example, many leading conservatives, even today, denounce homosexuality as immoral and an abomination that should be outlawed. it is this type of “hate speech” that is unacceptable to most liberals, but liberals have assisted and helped each of the minority (or in the case of women, majority) groups they see as oppressed in forming their own advocacy groups, and it is these advocacy groups who sometimes try to cross the line in terms of making certain kinds of free speech impermissable. however, since liberal thought can sometimes lead people to have a dogmatic view of viewing one side as the oppressor and the other as the victim (for example, feminists who view men as oppressors and women as victims, or civil rights activists who view white people as oppressors and black people as victims), oftentimes many liberals support advocacy groups for groups of people they are not a member of, even if this is against their own self-interests. this is because the liberal is someone who views the interests of oppressed people as more important than their own interests. liberalism is a very useful and good frame of reference for thinking about things, as long as people do not get too dogmatic about which groups are oppressors and oppressed, or about accusing everyone of hate speech without considering the merits of the arguments other people make.

so, what exactly is “neoliberalism” then? neoliberalism is usually used to refer to something completely different from liberalism. neoliberalism refers to a certain set of economic policies, namely, global free trade without restrictions, and free-market capitalism. now, this does not fit well with modern liberalism and its oppression-liberation ideological framework, but neoliberalism is more rooted in what is known as “classical liberalism”, which is distinct from today’s liberalism. classical liberalism developed in the 1800s among those who wanted to achieve positive change, but it has an entirely different thought-framework. in the classical liberal framework, there is an eternal struggle going on in every country, between tyranny and freedom. the more power the government has, the more tyrannical it is. the less power the government has, the more freedom there is. classical liberals also oppose forms of systematic inequality such as slavery, because they think everyone is entitled to freedom, and nobody should have the authority to deprive others of their freedom without consent. however, classical liberalism is resolutely capitalist in its economic outlook, viewing excessive taxation as a form of tyranny. a classical liberal would uphold the right of any person to act in whatever manner they please as long as they do not do anything illegal; moreover, they would want the government to have as little intrusion into people’s lives as possible, except when intrusion is needed to fight non-governmental tyranny such as slavery. classical liberalism eventually split in the 1930s into franklin delano roosevelt’s modern liberalism and the resolutely capitalist libertarianism. ayn rand was a prominent figure in early libertarianism, establishing a philosophical ideology called “objectivism”, and promoting the autonomy of the individual, opposing all forms of governmental tyranny, and upholding free-market unregulated capitalism as the best economic system. however, the vast majority of liberals have gone in a different direction since then, embracing the idea of a “mixed economy”, where the government plays an activist role in the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor, in order to combat the tyranny of the wealthy. neoliberalism, on the other hand, is an outgrowth of classical liberalism, not modern liberalism, and neoliberalism has much more to do with libertarianism than with modern liberalism. neoliberalism is basically just the economic philosophy of libertarians, which is much more popular among the ruling class than the social philosophy of libertarians, which the ruling class views as subversive and dangerous. essentially, neoliberalism is just an economic philosophy, and it does not address any viewpoints except economic ones. and the few viewpoints it does express are: free-market capitalism is good, free trade is good, tariffs and trade barriers are bad, labor unions are bad, and socialism is bad. so, ironically, neoliberalism is more popular today among republican politicians than democratic ones. in fact, the neoliberal ideology is a subset of the neoconservative ideology; neoconservatives believe in all of the neoliberal ideology, but they also have more ideology that they add to it, with regard to foreign policy, militarism, and the best form of government. so, with that in mind, it should not come as much of a shock that neoconservatives have allied with liberals in the past, at times when the liberals were supportive of the same types of foreign policy that neoconservatives advocated. in fact, they were a key part of bill clinton’s constituency, supporting his military adventurism abroad and his free-trade agenda with other nations. but, in the 2000 election, the neoconservatives backed george w. bush overwhelmingly, and since that time, they have tied their fortunes to his. the reasons for them backing bush rather than gore are straightforward: they thought al gore had some dangerous leftist rhetoric sometimes, and wanted to support someone they could reliably count on to support free-market capitalism and the u.s. military.

so, what have the neoconservatives actually done? well, they were the principal architects of the decision to invade iraq, having been arguing in favor of invading that country for years. they are very hawkish about military matters and anything relating to national security. the neoconservatives trust the bush administration, so they are willing to trust giving it virtually unlimited authority, not realizing that future administrations might misuse it. neoconservatives are quite an arrogant bunch, and refuse to admit to being wrong about anything; instead, they nitpick the arguments of others for flaws, rely on straw man arguments and guilt by association, and try to portray themselves as natural allies of the conservative cause. neoconservatives are very strong advocates of a close u.s.-israel alliance; this probably has more to do with the fact that many prominent neoconservatives are jewish than the fact that israel is a capitalist democracy. what this shows, more than anything, is how neoconservatives are a small, elitist group, and they have no broad-based backing by anyone. they do not have grassroots support or appeal, nor do they care about that. they care about working behind the scenes to get power, not as politicians, but as advisers to politicians. their current prominence is largely a function of their institutional backing by the corporate power structure, to which they are useful idiots that are helpful in promoting the ruling class’s interests. but, more and more signs are showing that the neoconservatives have outlived their usefulness to the ruling class, because the ruling class has realized that the neoconservative zeal for endless war is ridiculous and runs counter to their interests of having enough stability to keep making money and not turn the public against them. so, they will probably be thrown out like yesterday’s garbage, done in by their own stubbornness and refusal to acknowledge reality. thus neoconservatives are, more than anyone else, on the wrong side of history, and the current debate over iran shows how their power is dwindling. soon they will be nothing more than a footnote in history, while conservatism and liberalism will continue to flourish.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

a+ certified

yup, i just got a+ certified today. passed the test, got a really high score. that was the second test, the operating system test... i already took the hardware test. now i’m officially certified to fix any computer problem! hells yeah! give me your tired, your broken, your malfunctioning circuits. i will restore all ibm-compatible desktop computers to full working order. with laptops it is a bit harder since you can’t just take out whatever part you want and replace it with a different one. with desktops, everything is pretty much standardized and easy once you understand it all. but i noticed at least one error on the test. it asked about how to change the themes in windows xp, and there were 5 different choices, each of them a step-by-step list of things to click on. and guess what? all the choices were wrong, every single one of them. the real answer, the correct answer, wasn’t even listed. i hate trick questions like that. but, i managed to get into the high scores. i hope someone else doesn’t beat my high score to knock me out of the list. that would suck. anyway, maybe i should learn how to fix apple macintosh computers next. i wonder what percentage of computers are macs. probably around 10%, right? but macs are arguably not even real computers, they are all fake. for a computer to be real and actually count, it has to run microsoft windows. that is just a fact. so anyway, i changed my mind and i think i will support hillary clinton after all. i mean what is the point of having in-party fighting between democrats? that is just silly. we need to defeat the republicans first, and then, after republicans have been eliminated, then we can go back to our silly infighting. and as for hillary’s ambitions for president, maybe the reason so many people say she can’t win is because the republicans are afraid of her and are trying to trick democrats into not nominating her because deep down inside they know she would kick ass. and i shouldn’t be mad at her just because she hangs out with people i consider to be unsavory characters like the dlc and rupert murdoch. maybe she needs the help of those evil people to be elected, but that does not actually prove that she is as evil as they are. nor is it a good reason to be mad that i disagree with her on a few issues, since we agree on probably 80 or 90 percent of issues. i mean sure i can find politicians that i agree with more of what they say, but what is the point if they are considered wacky kooky underdogs that could never get elected? supporting them would just undermine the unity of the democratic party, or what little unity may or may not exist, theoretically. well ok, there is no unity. but that is the point... there should be. because that way, it would be a helluva lot easier to beat the republicans, if we stopped fighting amongst ourselves. we can get back to fighting each other later, after we win the elections, but if we keep it up now, we might lose the elections, again, despite all the massive republican failures in governance. so, we would be left with the knowledge that republicans can win elections but can’t govern, and democrats can govern but can’t win elections. there should at least be somebody who can do both. why, my favorite senator, russ feingold, has an approval rating in his home state that is not as enormously high as i would expect it to be. maybe he is not as charismatic as i thought. but at least he knows the difference between right and wrong. it is too bad the other 99 senators have such a slow learning curve on that issue. but at least i am a+ certified. maybe someday we will be able to fix people’s brains, just like how we can fix computers nowadays. that would be a start.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

fingers crossed

i had a big job interview today. i have my fingers crossed that i’ll get it. wish me luck. it was at this computer repair shop, the biggest one in town, the only one that can afford to have television commercials. i really need to start making $. i think maybe i might not get hired due to lack of experience, but my educational credentials and technical knowledge are quite good. i do admit that i also have a lack of technical certifications, but on thursday this week, i am taking the second and final part of the a+ certification test, and if all goes as planned, i will be an a+ certified computer technician, albeit one without a job. fixing computers is exactly what i want to do, because there is no way in hell anybody could outsource it, and more and more people in this country have more and more computers, yet less and less of them are able to keep their computers from crashing or getting broken or being overtaken by viruses or spyware. just yesterday, i read something quite depressing in the book i am using to study for the a+ software exam on thursday: apparently, for the last decade or so, hard drive manufacturers have been purposefully manufacturing hard drives in such a way that they will eventually stop working after a few years. you might be thinking, yes of course, isn’t everything made to be broken, but try and be more idealistic and less cynical for a change... why can’t we trust corporations to make products that last a long time? anyway, the companies that make hard disks have been designing them in such a way that they will inevitably stop working after a few years, and the only hard disks that do not have this design flaw are old hard disks that are less than 504 megabytes. any hard disk bigger than 504 megabytes has already been sabotaged by the people at the manufacturer who designed it to stop working. in their defense, the manufacturers did this for a very good reason: they knew how to design hard disks that could store more data but they would never be able to implement this design and have it be compatible with existing operating systems and bioses, unless they put in special computer chips to trick the operating systems and bioses into thinking of stuff the old way, while secretly doing things the new way. so they came up with ide (integrated drive electronics), as well as large and later lba modes of data transfer for these new drives bigger than 504 megabytes. since each manufacturer has its own special way of doing things, the hard drive controller, a little computer chip on the bottom of each hard drive, talks to the rest of the computer in a standardized way, and then it deals with the reality of where the data is really stored on the hard drive and how to access it. so anyway, each manufacturer does this differently, so you need special low-level-formatting utilities that are different for each manufacturer if you want to actually reformat the entire hard disk including the secret parts that microsoft windows and the rom bios don’t know about. but if you reformat the secret parts, although this can fix the problem that makes hard drives stop working after a few years by strengthening the magnetic fields in the secret areas, this can also totally screw things up and completely ruin hard drives. also, while you can do a high-level format as many times as you want and do no damage (you know, the kind of formatting dos, windows, or any other operating system does), a low-level format (the type special utilities from the manufacturer can do) is something you can only do a certain number of times before the drive is toast. so, what we have is sort of a paradox: if you never do a low-level format, the magnetic fields in the secret parts of your hard disk will get weaker over time until your hard drive controller loses track of where everything is. but, if you do a low-level format, you put significant wear and tear on your hard disk, you lose any and all data it holds, and you shorten its lifespan, although this is the only way to fix the problem of the weakening magnetic fields. in other words, hard drives are all doomed to destruction: they are designed to break, no matter what you do or don’t do. they are mortal and their lifespan is short, and this design flaw is 100% intentional on the part of the manufacturers. but i suppose they have to make money somehow... i just hope i will find a way to make money too, and i hope i won’t do it by ripping people off. as far as i know, the business i interviewed at does not go around ripping people off either, and they actually do a good job and don’t overcharge for it, which i know having been a past customer. that must be why they have such a good reputation and so many repeat customers. but there are plenty of other computer repair shops in town too, including at least one that i have gone to that had very unethical and nasty business practices towards its customers (including me and my mom). i am normally the type of person who would never sue anyone in a million years, but that one computer repair shop, i took a computer there a few years ago, and they kept it for a really long time before they bothered to do anything at all with it, and instead of fixing anything, they physically broke some of the electronic components off of the motherboard and the video card, and these components were rattling around loose inside the computer case... and then these clowns charged me for breaking it. silly naive me, i trusted them, and i paid them, and when i came home i was surprised to find those loose parts rattling around inside... and if you look at the better business bureau, this business has tons of complaints filed against them. anyway the place i interviewed at today is the exact opposite of that type of computer repair shop, as far as i know, which is why i would prefer to work at a shop of that caliber. i would hate to have to end up working for a bunch of crooks, but i might have no choice if i don’t get this job. i do still have some unanswered questions about hard drives, like i do not know if scsi hard drives are likewise doomed to failure the way ide hard drives are. probably. but, i suppose even the old under-504 megabyte hard drives are doomed to failure, simply because of the small size of the mechanical components and the ease of things getting out of place. even if people could solve the problem of the magnetic fields weakening, that problem would still remain, and hard drives would still be doomed to failure. but at least now i know the importance of backing up data. and maybe someday someone will invent a permanent way to securely store large amounts of digital data for many years. and maybe that person might be me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

to re-elect or not to re-elect

so, usually i have very little trouble deciding who to vote for. yet, this year i am faced with a real dilemma: whether or not to support hillary clinton’s re-election campaign for u.s. senate. hillary clinton, of course, is up for re-election this november as a senator from new york. and i am rather displeased with her (here are some of the reasons). i am a very loyal democrat, of course, and i would never betray the party, especially not at such a vital time such as this. but, her dlc shenanigans and lovefests with rupert murdoch, her endorsement of flag-burning amendments and her denunciations of grand theft auto, her support for the war in iraq... it is all shameless pandering and trying to reach across party lines and pander to her enemies. but guess what? most people do not like hillary clinton, especially not right-wingers. so why has she been trying so hard to reach out to them? people in new york state like her a lot, of course; she will easily get re-elected here if she is the democratic nominee, which looks likely. however, i simply do not agree with her power-hungry ways and her lack of any real principles. i mean, maybe she really does believe in the policies she supports... but why on earth is she cultivating a relationship with rupert murdoch? that is like selling your soul to the devil, except even worse. at this point, after much thought, i have decided i simply can’t support her in the democratic primary, although of course she would be better than a republican. yet, if her senate victory is by a slimmer margin, that might help the democrats choose a better candidate for president in 2008. so if hillary clinton is the democratic nominee, i hope she wins by a margin of victory of about 1%. as for who i want to win? jonathan tasini. he is the only progressive candidate who is running for senate in the democratic primary. he is awesome! i can feel much better about voting for him, than about voting for ms. clinton, who is probably going to just be a part-time senator, have a lousy voting record, and then ditch the senate entirely after another 2 years. i would definitely vote for hillary if she were willing to promise that she is not running for president in 2008. that would be a good deal. then the dems can get a real candidate like russ feingold, and if we somehow lose in ’08, her senate term ends in 2012, which is another presidential election year. so, for now, i am supporting jonathan tasini, and hoping to see less of hillary clinton. but, come november, i will vote straight party-line democrat, no matter who the candidates are. because if we don’t vote out the republican congress, the lobbyists win. and i am certainly not anti-woman; that has nothing to do with my opposition to hillary clinton. i am quite a fan of nancy pelosi and i look forward to her being speaker of the house of representatives, and maybe someday she could be president. stranger things have happened. of course, nancy pelosi might take some flak for representing san francisco, but who needs the homophobic vote? the democrats aren’t going to get the homophobic vote anyway, and we should stand up for what is right, not for what is wrong. of course racists and homophobes and bigots vote republican, because it is the democrats who always oppose them; we should never compromise our values, because then we would be no better than republicans. and as an ardent supporter of free speech who hates all forms of censorship, i vehemently oppose hillary clinton’s efforts to ban flag burning and the game grand theft auto. people should be free to play whatever video games they want. period. and we should be able to burn any flag we want, whether it is an american flag, a venezuelan flag, a british flag, an iraqi flag, or a united nations flag... everybody should be able to think of at least one place they don’t like, that they might want to burn a flag of. for me, i think i would choose to burn a chinese flag. goddamn chinese! the people’s republic of china really pisses me off. check out the epoch times for a fair and balanced view of that country. taiwan, on the other hand, is ok... i got no problem with them, in fact i think taiwan is a pretty awesome country. well, technically, it isn’t officially a country... but that is because of the goddamn chinese bastards! hey china guess what? stop massacring your own people, you sick fucks! executions should be limited to people who committed murder, and don’t harvest people’s internal organs while they are still alive! weirdos. anyway, what the hell is up with russia? dick cheney criticized them, and then vladimir putin criticized the united states, and now u.s.-russian relations are at the lowest point since ronald reagan signed legislation banning russia forever. you know what, dick cheney? you need to shut the fuck up, that’s what you need to do. russia is a democracy now and we need them as an ally so we can put pressure on iran and help keep them from getting nukes. good job, asshole. and you know russia has, like, more natural resources than anyone? good luck trying to get access to any of those. and what is up with normalizing relations with libya and taking them off the state sponsors of terror list, while we ban arms sales to venezuela and put them on a list of countries that are sort of kinda state sponsors of terror but not really? since when is muammar qaddhafi our friend despite being an evil dictator, and how come the democratically elected president of venezuela, hugo chavez, has to be our enemy? hint hint: hugo chavez has oil but he is a leftist and he won’t respect our authoritah. why not be nice to him for a change? i mean, he is a pretty awesome dude, in case you saw that documentary about him, the revolution will not be televised. if we stopped being so evil, he might be nicer to us. and that starts by electing a congress which is less evil, this november. you know what to do. vote for that party that jack abramoff wasn’t in, the one that actually sometimes tries to help out regular people instead of just the elites who don’t need the help.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

a new low

bush’s approval rating is now down to 29%, the first time it has ever hit the 20s. finally some sanity in this country! i have hated president bush all along, even when his approval rating was close to 90% i still thought he was terrible. so, i have a message to all of the republicans and the people who voted for bush in 2004: i told you so! you were wrong and i was right! and now we have found out that the national security agency really is spying on us, and is trying to collect records on every single phone call made in this country, not just ones involving terrorists. and you right-wingers said this was just being used against terrorists and not ordinary americans. wrong again! hmm, i wonder what else you right-wingers were wrong about: lying to get blowjobs is impeachment-worthy for a president, but lying the nation into war isn’t? segregation is good? women should not have the right to vote? slavery is good? white males who are not wealthy land owners should not have the right to vote? nobody should have the right to vote and instead we should have an absolute monarch that we support unconditionally? if you look back at history, right-wingers tend to have always been the people who were wrong about everything. conservative philosophy is based entirely on the idea of preserving “tradition”, even when that tradition is immoral or unjust, even when it is obvious how immoral and unjust it is. you want to know how they justified slavery, how they justified absolute monarchy, how they justified all the immoral traditions of the past? religion. the bible. they said, anyone who wants to get rid of their precious traditions is evil, hates god, is a heathen who should be killed. for almost 2 thousand years christian conservatives have had this same tactic, and conservatives of other religions have been around for even more thousands of years than that. so, i don’t think we can get rid of conservatives (unfortunately), since they have been around since forever, and we are probably doomed to always have some of them lurking around plotting our demise. but, when you read about things like roy moore and the christian reconstructionist/dominionist movement, it really makes you wonder, are we humans really “sentient beings”, or are we just a bunch of dumbasses? they talk about our founding fathers being christians and this being a christian nation, as if any of that is even relevant today. just because the majority of people in this nation believe something doesn’t mean it is correct (unless what they believe in is that bush is a bad president). but in all other cases of beliefs, aside from when they say bush is bad, united states majority public opinion is not really infallible. i mean hell, iraq is a muslim nation, right? india is a hindu nation, isn’t it? and china is a communist nation, right (let’s just pretend for a moment that communism qualifies as a “religion”)? so, how can we pretend that public opinion in those countries does not matter? if public opinion in the united states proves christianity to be correct, than public opinion in foreign countries also proves islam, hinduism, and communism to be correct. so, we should really govern our nation in a christian, islamic, hindu, communist style of governance, by that line of logic... but no... that is not their point at all. their point is, the majority in this country is christian, so they ought to be able to run everything. even though christian reconstructionists/dominionists don’t believe in democracy or freedom, and just want to oppress everybody under a theocracy like the taliban or saudi arabia. yay! it’s good president bush is not quite as radical a christian right-winger as they come. but these christian reconstructionists have just taken conservatism to its logical conclusion, putting the value of “tradition” above all else. but, you know what? i place zero value in “tradition” whatsoever. and zero value in conservatism whatsoever. i sort of see some value in liberalism, which is usually defined as being all about open-mindedness or some type of wonderful high-minded thing about making the world a better place or something like that. but i am not really open minded; i have already made up my mind on most things and nobody can convince me to change it on many of them. so, while i am a liberal democrat, i am of the closed-minded variety; nobody could possibly say anything at all to me that would make me change my mind about being a liberal democrat. i make up my own mind, by observing the world around me, reading the news, seeing what different people say about things. if anyone were to change my mind, it would be me. or, perhaps somebody else would brainwash me, but that would only work if i don’t suspect a thing. but anyway, i think bush is a horrible president, i have thought he was a horrible president ever since the day he took office (which i considered to be a national tragedy at the time), and prior to him taking office, when he was governor of texas, i hated his guts since it was obvious to me the guy was pretty much a psycho. i mean, the shit he said back during the campaign about all the people he had executed in texas, and whether he ever worried any of them were innocent... it was absolutely ridiculous, it made my blood boil. he just had such an arrogant notion that it would be completely impossible for an innocent man to ever get the death penalty, even when it had been proven otherwise, by all the innocent men on death row freed because of dna evidence proving their innocence, all around the country. but this jackass had no clue about any of that shit, even though he was running for president! during the recount stuff in florida in late november of 2000, i saw bush appear on tv, with this arrogant demeanor, as if the presidency was this thing that he was entitled to have, that belonged to him, and as if other people were trying to take from him something which everybody knew belonged to him... ridiculous! only thanks to katherine harris taking minority voters off the voter rolls by putting them on a list that was only supposed to have actual convicted felons on it but ended up being mostly innocent people that were now denied their right to vote. and forget about who won the popular vote in 2000, that was al gore, and bush didn’t care at all about the will of the people, he only cared about his own will! so, i am glad to see that finally everybody else is waking up and starting to understand reality for a change! just don’t change your minds back to supporting bush again... don’t be flip-floppers. changing your mind once is enough. once you see the truth, don’t go off looking in other directions for lies again. bush is spying on all of our telephone conversations; we are all “terrorists” according to him, every man, woman and child in this country who has ever made a telephone call is considered to be a terrorist by the national security agency. so general mike hayden can go fuck himself... who does he think he is, spying on my booty calls? whatever goes on between consenting adults over a telephone... well... let’s not get into that. suffice it to say, i feel violated. the government has had phone sex with me, except i did not approve of it, so it was phone rape. what i am saying is, i was raped by a telephone. well actually this happened in jail, and there was another inmate involved... ok ok i sort of made that part up, but my point is, don’t have sex with a telephone, because they have many sorts of nasty diseases that the phone company doesn’t want you to know about. and if you have to have sex with a telephone, use a condom, and make sure the phone company doesn’t add any unusual charges to the next month’s bill, or it might turn up on your credit report, resulting in higher interest rates you would have to pay if you ever take out any loans. it would also go on your permanent record, which lasts not just through elementary school, middle school, and high school, but on into college, and now your boss at your job is probably adding to it comments like “does not work well with others” and faxing it to the head office. and what does president bush have to do with this? well, he authorized the secret government program to keep a permanent record on every citizen, starting in elementary school, that program that your elementary school-teachers only hinted at threateningly. actually, this program had been in place since the 1800’s, as part of the new world order’s so-called “dewey decimal system” for total information awareness and full spectrum dominance, but president bush re-authorized it when it came up for renewal, so it is sort of his fault. now, the conspiracy might tell you the dewey decimal system is just used to sort books in libraries, but you know better than that. you know it exists to sort thoughts in your mind! and it is working. just remember, bush and kerry were both in the secret order of the illuminati’s local chapter at yale called “skull and crossbones”, and they have sworn to uphold the power of the great lidless eye atop the pyramid on the dollar, the dark lord sauron. the only people who can save us from bush now are the tricksy hobbitses that took the precious, and they are arguably not even people, but some odd sort of fur-footed small primate that can talk. ironically enough, bush is also some odd sort of sub-human chimpanzee monkey, but the liberal media has agreed to keep quiet about it because bush is such a liberal and they love him so.