Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gitmo WTF?!

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Bad news first: Today Robert Gates announced that the Guantanamo Bay detention center will likely remain open for a while, despite President Obama's pledge and efforts to close it within the first year or two of his administration. The obstacles to permanently closing the facility are about what we might expect - the GOP, and Tea Party candidates/congresspeople. Basically, we're not going to see any definitive actions on the issue for another two years. There have also been claims that the President might indefinitely detain some of Gitmo's prisoners.

I don't know about you, but I vaguely, almost indeterminately remember something about an executive order that required Gitmo to be closed by the beginning of THIS year... That clearly didn't go as planned.

So how exactly do they expect this all to play out? What now? Congress blocked funding for the (parts of the) Defense Authorization Bill that would have transferred prisoners out of the detention center. And still, Congress continues to refuse to fund much of anything. None of the other states, nor even countries want to take the prisoners. We all saw that fiasco with New York... As much as I hate to think that there's little that can be done at the moment, that might very well be the case. The US will continue to censor, and detain, and torture, until...?

I think what I find most disturbing about this is the fact that so many of our political leaders (and failed half-term political wannabes), news commentators, and various other people continually call for violence and denial of basic human, civil, and legal rights to those they determine are "enemies." Our justice system promises fairness, and "innocence until proven guilty," and protection from "cruel and unusual punishment"-- for ALL, even non-citzens. Yet again and again we see the same faces, same names, same voices calling for blood, for "whatever means necessary," condemning based on conjecture alone. The Guantanamo Bay detention center is very much un-American, and I would like to see it closed ASAP. Not soon, not later, not "in a while," but now.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Random Holiday Happenings/Ramblings - AWK-WARD!!!

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Ye-ah, please don't retweet this.

This isn't going to be serious or anything. In fact, it might not even be coherent. I'm riding a sugar wave so high, my head might explode into skittles and ice cream. My co-workers tell me that my excuse until New Years is "It's the holidays!", which also explains why I've gained back 5 of the 15 lost pounds in the last 3 weeks. (Please people, stop feeding me! I'm trying not to be rude by letting it sit there untouched in front of me, after you've placed it there even though I've said I don't want any, because I've noticed that it makes you very sad when I don't eat it. But I really don't want to eat anymore! Delicious, but seriously, stop it!)

I should totally just rename this post to Why I Hate Christmas. But then I'd get branded a "knee-jerk commie liberal" (which, ironically, I would probably like) hell-bent on destroying Christmas. Whatever. I can't think of any time of year that makes me want to grab a chainsaw and smash the hell out of a radio tower (before remembering that chainsaws can cut things) than Christmas. But I digress.

So I spent a lot of the morning either watching the Nightmare Before Christmas (which is like somewhere lost in my top 3 favorite movies of all time. And of course I'm wearing my Pumpkin King tee with my plaid pajama pants this morning, while adoring the packet of awesomeness Storyteller Knight sent me... By the way, I will be sending something in return, once I decide on exactly what...) or reading this on AS (may not be a gay lady [though I suppose I'm close enough, these days], but I love these girls to pieces lol... I have yet to find more amusing comments ANYWHERE. And I really, really mean that. Except some of these scare me, if only because I'm like "zomg, me too!" only I've never once had a crush on one of my female best friends... Yea, sorry if it ever seemed that way? Just in case you thought I did, for some reason or whatever? Wow I'm way off topic, what the hell was I talking about? And it just occurred to me that I picked out plaid flannel... shoes. And those shirts at work are starting to look more appealing every day... This makes me rather uncomfortable. Stupid stereotypes... [hums along to the Lumberjack song...])

Alright then... As usual, holidays at my house are more awkward than the mint I just popped into my mouth. It's not a mint, it's a freakin "hard candy" that was painted to look like a peppermint. LIES! BLASPHEMY! MOAR WINE! Like this morning, my mom and I totally had a *Moment* while peeling apples for a pie. It was like Hallmark and Oxygen and LOGO and Oprah all rolled into one-- until she flipped out that I was trying too hard to make it look nice and bake properly...??? Whatever. Fast forward a few hours... Anyway, so my mom was in the shower when the doorbell rang. We were all pretty surprised to see Dad on the other side, holding 2 wrapped boxes-- both for me. (Oh FSM. We'll get to that horror in a second.) Apparently, he was here to pick up my sisters to take them over to his house in PA for Christmas with his wife and step-kids. Only, they had no intentions of ever going, and thought he knew that. Awk-ward. Mom got dressed and came downstairs to argue that he knew that we all like to spend Christmas here. So he just left, all super-sad and mopey, and now we're all standing around here, super-awkward and feeling kind of bad. (Well, I don't think I was invited anyway. Seeing as he brought my presents here, and left theirs at his house, clearly he wasn't expecting me to go. But then again, I've never once had any intentions of playing "happy family" with his new wife. Even if I'm hoping to use her connections to pay my way through grad school. I know, I'm being evil, but as far as my 13-year old self is concerned, bitch ruined my life! :-t  Plus she was kind of a total bitch to me before I knew who she was, and made my life a living hell before I knew they were even together, let alone getting married. He didn't tell us they got married, but that's a whole other nightmare. I have very, very little reason to like her.)

Right, so about those presents... I wasn't able to afford my annual Toys for Tots gift this year (is it just me, or have toy prices skyrocketed in the past 2 years?! Or am I just really that poor now?), but I'm thinking I might have a few donations for the thrift store or Goodwill (or the Goodwill thrift store...). But ack. I know we always say that "it's the thought that counts," but that's the part that hurts the most sometimes. I could care less about presents. I'm lucky enough to get some, and grateful for what I get, but there are people who don't have homes or food right now, and that matters so much more. Give a donation to Greenpeace (oh, but I have a rant about them too...), or Interfaith Hospitality Network (now called Family Promise, so I've been informed), or St. Jude's instead. I'd actually be far happier with that than receiving anything for myself. But when your parents pick out things that are the exact opposite of "me," proving that A) they don't know you at all or B) they didn't bother to think about "me," I'd rather just go without. This year - 2 Old Navy belted sweater cardigan things with a matching knit beret and rainbow striped gloves. I'm not even going to talk about the gloves. I'll just show you.

I know, right?? Seriously. And that patch of black in the left bottom corner is one of the sweaters. The beret matches it.

 A beret?!?! Has he EVER seen me wear a hat? Hell, has ANYONE ever seen me wear a hat? I have cat ears and a gray and black striped baseball cap from H&M that I oh so rarely wear except when I'm feeling particularly emo (or queer. Honestly. I don't know what it is, but some days, this hat screams *PRIDE*). I wear black. Lots of black. And occasionally bright teal or purple or blue, with more black. Ripped up things, band t-shirts and jeans and things with skulls on them and skate shoes or my geisha high-tops that everyone who's ever seen them loves (Seriously. These things are magic, I tell you, pure magic. I've had random people come up to me on the street and say how awesome they are. Kohl's 2009 clearance, $11. Magic.) and the occasional skirt or corset. The last time I shopped at Old Navy I was 14 and needed a super cheap bathing suit bottom to go under my new Billabong surf shorts. Me= occasionally girly, but mostly andro tomboy. Tomboy, this is not. Preppy & girly, yes, tomboy, no. Evil-sister is the preppy ivy league one who likes sweaters and berets, remember? I burn them. Hey, remember me? No? Ok.

I feel like such a spoiled, ungrateful little brat for feeling upset about all of this, which is why I'm probably not going to say anything (unless he asks, at which point I don't know if I can lie). But really, it's the lack of thought that counts, and I'm kind of like, REALLY upset that he would let his wife pick out, wrap, and write his name on a present for me like he couldn't be bothered to do it himself. (My mom even said it. "It's not even personal." It's one thing when it's someone from work who barely knows you, but it's completely another when it's your parent...) So what do we do when we get gifts we don't like? Suck it up and pretend to like it, even though inside we're really disappointed-- not because it's a sucky gift, because in all fairness it's not all that bad and someone else would totally appreciate it, but because it's just not right for "me" and shows a lack of personal touch-- and sit around feeling guilty because you feel like you're being ungrateful? Try to get our hands on a receipt? Or just smile and donate it to charity when we can? I'm opting for that last one, I think. (I tried one of the sweaters on anyway. It looks terrible on me... Seriously. I can't wear this kind of style. It's for someone taller and thinner. >_< Other than the fact that it doesn't suit my personality either...)

ANYWAY! So my mom and sisters and I just spent the last few hours watching Girlfriends. ZOMG I am waaay too much like that one girl. Ex-Roomie says her name is Lynn, "except you're not as lazy as she is." Well, that is kind of comforting... but really, between the character's anthropology classes, and vegetarianism, that time she found an old skateboard, her upbringing (other characters complain that she's too "white," because she was raised in a very... monochromatic neighborhood and her family isn't African American), and her tendency to go on feminist/egalitarian/human rights rants, boho academic type, etc... (& without getting into details - I may be one of the last few v-card holders in the group, but from discussions, I think it's fair to say I'm apparently open to way more than a lot of my friends... Then again, a lot of them are kind of conservative, socially and sexually, so... I guess that kind of makes sense, if that makes sense.) It's a little freaky. I can't escape stereotypes!

I think I will probably shut up now. I need more wine. And sleep, since I actually just realized it's actually after 2AM, I have work in a few hours, and I typed this up hours ago and never posted it. Fuck. Oh well, I can go back in time on Blogger! [giggles maniacally] Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I sure hope so. (RT@ltdanchoi)

Obama Signs DADT Repeal Into Law | TPMDC

Obama Signs DADT Repeal Into Law

WOOT! WE DID IT! It's official- DADT repeal is law. Now the question is, how long will it take until we truly see the end? The military is supposed to stop discharging LGBT soldiers within 60 days of the bill's signing, but there are some practical concerns that have to be addressed as well-- benefits packages, housing of families (& apparently other living/shower arrangements? I don't think there's a real need for that.) recognizing marriages and civil unions, etc. I see a lot of new paperwork in their future... But it can be done, and it will be done, and then we can get back to work on DOMA, and ENDA, and equal pay for women. (I went off on a mini-rant when Obama started talking about how men and women are treated as equals in America. I'll believe it when I see it. [Just as a note, I do not identify as a feminist. I'm an egalitarian. And I'm going to backtrack and delete what I was about to say, because I'm getting way off topic, and heading into the "off-limits" zone...])

So TL;DR: DADT has been officially repealed, but we're still waiting for it to really end. Still, progress is progress.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mid-Week Updates. Because I felt like it. | #DADT, #DREAM, #FCC

Mid-week updates:
  • You may have noticed a few minor changes here and there. I'm renovating! New year, new look. (Well, maybe. I don't know how far I'm planning on going with this, but we'll see...) Storyteller Knight has also been promoted! Yay! lol... She now officially has her own page here,  accessible from the link at the top. Check it out. (Uh, layout's still a work in progress ^^" I got into a fight with the html & css editor... Ultimately, I won, but it was a long, hard battle with a bit of collateral damage.)
  • I think I should make a general statement regarding a topic that has been brought up far more times than I am comfortable with. Several people have mentioned or asked about the Assange rape allegations and events stemming from it (more specifically, controversial comments made by 2 very well-known media figures). Other than the brief and somewhat off-hand comments I made regarding this situation before, I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to think about it, I'm not going to discuss it. I've had enough of horrifying sex abuse stories for one year. Between this, and the Columbia "consensual" incest thing [shudder], and all of the other stories I hear on a daily basis, I don't want to think about it. This sensitive topic is already one that rarely leaves a woman's mind, and in light of recent events, I would like to ask that you not attempt to discuss it with me, or on this particular page at this time. (I believe Storyteller Knight may be interested, *hint-hint* so maybe you should head over to her new page. Yes, this is also a shameless plug. Believe me, I can fit these in anywhere. Plus it takes my mind off of the topic for a moment, so...) I don't think either side would like what I have to say on the subject, and as I've gone off on one too many fem-rants this week, I would really rather not get involved in the feud. So I'm staying out of it and keeping my mouth shut, lest someone get their head bitten off. ([grumbles] Fucking asshole called me "Baby"...)
  • The FCC caved. Bye-bye net neutrality, hello "premium corporate speed lane" for those of you with the $$$. The rest of us will probably be waiting for Facebook to load, so that we can complain about how slow the internet's gotten. That is, if Facebook doesn't get on AT&T's shit-list.
  • And the only news I really care about right now - DADT repeal bill is getting signed tomorrow, 9:15AM EST. I'll be watching. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed by how much is getting done in the lame duck session. We've had 2 years with few major bills getting through, and now all of a sudden we have DADT repeal, the START treaty, the Food Safety bill now sitting on President Obama's desk, this tax "deal" (regardless of how I feel about it, or the FCC deal, fact is something actually got done for once). Now if Obama & Congress can just pass the 9/11 Responders bill, close Gitmo, repeal DOMA, do something productive and proactive to fix the immigration system, up job growth, and end these stupid, expensive wars, he might do alright after all... I think that might be enough to make everybody happy. (What a wish list, eh? But that is their job...)
  • Speaking of fixing immigration, I came across some comments the other day that suggested (well, ok, flat out said) that the DREAM Act is just another way to say "amnesty." How is it amnesty if they're required to work for it? Getting into, paying for (without scholarships!), and completing 2 years of college is super easy? Military service is "just a giveaway?" I'm not sure I'd buy that argument.
  • Even Fox News was in on the WTF?! regarding the obstruction of the 9/11 responders healthcare bill.
  • Oh yea... Speaking of the Food Safety bill, I'm going to take a few moments to totally bask in the glory of being totally right for once ^^". Remember a while back I got into that argument with all of those people on Care2 regarding their claims that the bill would allow the government to take over people's personal gardens? And remember how I kept showing them that the bill explicitly stated that it was intended for farmers only, and I kept asking them to clarify exactly where they were seeing this "garden" clause? Yea, well they couldn't tell me. Because it was "sugar-coded [sic]". Yea right. Like I said, IT WASN'T THERE! Politifact ruled that statement to be Pants On Fire. So yay, 10 points for Kiely!
  • Massive snowstorm in Europe... and I'm dreading the fact that we're actually supposed to have a "white Christmas" as well this year. I hate snow. And I hate it even more when I have to shovel it.
Alright, that's enough of that...  I have very little time before the sibling from hell arrives home from college. This is my last chance to spend some time alone, for almost an entire month. I want to enjoy it while I can...

FCC Caves on Net Neutrality -- Tuesday Betrayal Assured (NSFW Vid)

Timothy Karr: Obama FCC Caves on Net Neutrality -- Tuesday Betrayal Assured

(In my haste, I accidentally published this to the wrong blog this morning when I was getting ready for work. Oops...)

Corporations will now be able to control the internet as they wish. The FCC has the power to ensure that the internet remains free and open for everyone, and they're choosing not to.

Fuck. FUCK. There is no other word right now. Here, let Eric Idle (from Monty Python) do it:

I'd very much like for someone to prove us all wrong right now, that this idiotic bill isn't about to pass and good things are going to happen from here on out, but I don't really suspect that will happen. If there is anything that has really been reinforced this year, it's that "free speech" in this country will never truly be free. And "caving" seems to be a trend. (Well, at least finally I stood my ground this year. Maybe that's why everything's so out of whack...)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More DADT comments...

Still suppressing disappointment about the DREAM Act. Obama has insisted that he's not giving up on it. Which to me doesn't really mean much right now, but I won't take it off the list just yet...

Anyway, I was posting a reply to a comment on one of my many forums, and decided against sharing a huge chunk of what I wrote (leaving my response to a meager 2 sentences). So since I've already typed it up, I thought I might as well just stick it here:

DADT has done much more harm than the so-called "good compromise" it was purported to be. Instead of protecting LGBT soldiers from potential harm or "protecting" hetero soldiers from being uncomfortable, it left the door wide open for LGBT soldiers to be abused and unable to defend themselves out of fear of losing their careers, everything they had worked towards, simply because of who they were. As many soldiers noted during the survey and various interviews, they knew that there were LGBT people living and working with them, sharing showers, etc. I think any fear associated with being ogled in the showers, or sleeping in the same barracks is pretty irrational. Nothing happened before, nothing's going to happen when DADT is officially repealed.  The only difference is now everyone can know who's gay/bi and who's not.

The military's moral code isn't going to go flying out the window because soldiers are finally allowed to be honest. If there are soldiers who are so uncomfortable being around openly gay people that it affects their ability to do their job, they should not be there... To put it simply, it's very unprofessional. Many of us will at some point in our lives have to work with people who make us uncomfortable. But part of our job is sucking it up, getting over it, and getting the job done, as a team, regardless of any personal feelings.

By the way, this was me trying not to start a fight, cuz I seem to accidentally do that often... [sigh] Yea, I know, I'm an annoying know-it-all bitch. What else is new...

All of this being said, I'm absolutely dreading the upcoming year... Between the Tea Party, and applying for grad school, and not having hours at work to pay my bills for a few months (as well as dealing with a few thousand jobs being cut in my state, & competing amongst thousands of 99ers for another entry-level position)... I don't see much being particularly good for a while. Oh well. So let's enjoy this victory while we can.

DADT Repealed by Congress!!!

Ok, President Obama. Another promise kept. Thanks, man. (But I'm still going to pout in the corner over the tax "deal" thing, and Gitmo, and surges in Afghanistan, and [grumbles on...])

You'll have to forgive me for posting this so late. I had work, & then spent the rest of the night celebrating/getting distracted... After all the efforts we've put in over the years, all of the letters, the phone calls, the donations, the urgent pleas and cries for equality- The military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy has been REPEALED. All that's left is the President's signature. Granted, the repeal doesn't go into effect immediately-- the armed forces will have a period of time to make any necessary adjustments to ensure a smooth "transition" in openness. But they did it. I didn't think they would be able to do it in time, but they did. The Senate passed the stand-alone bill at about 3:02 pm, December 18th, 2010, after a successful cloture vote after 10AM this morning.

It's funny... it was only until this morning that I realized that DADT directly affects me as well. Just last year I had been looking into a job with the army. But being... Well, it occurred to me that I wouldn't be allowed to take the job. I would have been fired if anyone found out... (Though I wonder if I would have even figured it out, had I chosen that route...) And that brief moment of "omg I'm screwed," I feel like I could understand just a bit of what it feels like... To be forced to choose between hiding a part of yourself and lying (under oath) to everyone around you, or losing something you've worked towards your whole life. Though many of us do face smaller incidents like that throughout our lives. I'm "closeted" IRL because I choose to be. Not because of fear of backlash (anyone who matters pretty much knows anyway, or I'm working up to it, and thankfully, they don't seem to care), but because I dislike awkwardness. (Plus my family already treats me  So for all of that joking around that DADT was my last chance at legally dodging the draft [insert smirk], I'm so very thrilled that it's going to end. If the military is what you want, you should be allowed to serve openly, just the way you are. And if others can't accept that, can't/won't do their jobs because they have a problem with that, they shouldn't be alongside you. I certainly wouldn't want them to be. So if the paleos' fears of a "max exodus" should actually happen, I say this-- good riddance. Way to prove you're weak and can't hack a "hardship." (Yea, I'm just being a brat tonight because I'm so happ-eeeee!!!!)

But in less happy news... the DREAM Act failed. I'm waiting to process this info until morning, when all of this really starts to sink in. Tonight, I just want to celebrate. (That & listen to Dr. Rachel Maddow talk about it. ^^" she's totally my hero/girlcrush lol... Nerds r awesome. Oh, and if that wasn't enough... Is this getting creepy now? Lol, I was just curious, and one link lead to another...)

Just a quick, wine-induced shout-out-- to all of us who annoyed the hell out of our senators and reps, and President (especially regarding last week's flood of emails, "tweets," and calls regarding an Executive Order, should Congress have failed...)-- way to go, everyone! WE DID IT! To my awesome senators, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, & my super-awesome Rep Rush Holt-- Thanks, guys!!! Obviously wouldn't have been possible without you, seeing as you're the ones who actually get to vote & stuff lol... (Menendez- wtf was up with the tax deal, though?! Dude!) To the HRC for their tireless and continued efforts to ensure civil rights for all Americans. To the 8 Republicans who stood up against the rest of their party for the rights of LGBT servicepeople. Way to rock, everyone! 1 down, 3 more to go. DREAM, DOMA/Prop8, ENDA - you're next.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Updates -Tax Cuts, #Wikileaks, #Payback/#Leakspin, & #DADT

Ok, now that I've had a bit of time to process some of what's been going on lately (among other things), I think it's about time I get back to the weekly updates (and once the holidays are over, I'll finally be able to work on real posts again! Yay!)

  • Crazy weather all over the world, from massive blizzards in the Midwestern US, to torrential rain in the Middle East... This winter is going to be brutal. I hate winter. Stupid global warming/climate change... [grumbles]
  • Haiti was tormented this weekend by the arrival of yet another disaster in their country, decked in cargo pants and giant designer sunglasses. Can't catch a break, can they? [sigh] Ms. Palin's "humanitarian" trip was marked by the quizzical stares of perplexed Haitians (None of the people interviewed had any idea who she was. They're so lucky... I wish America could say the same. Damn you, McCain staffers!!!)-- who promptly decided that any publicity was good publicity, amongst the cholera outbreak and continued post-earthquake rebuild.
  • Anyway... In LGBT related news- 
    • The Prop 8 trial is back in court for the appeal! And is certainly looking good for our side.
    • Illinois passed a civil unions bill. Progress is progress.
    • DADT repeal is currently somewhat stalled. While we're hoping for Obama to step up and sign an executive order (a move he has stated he does not want to take), the fight isn't quite over yet. The stand-alone bill has been introduced in the Senate, however odds are, we aren't going to see a successful vote on it (or the DREAM Act) until this tax-cut issue is resolved.
  • Speaking of tax cuts... Obama's deal with the GOP. Wow. Um, no, no, that's not a good idea, Mr. President. Since this is a huge story overall, I'll break it up into parts:
    • Backstory: GOP threatens to block everything (yea, what else is new) unless they get to continue or expand tax cuts for the uber-wealthy. Obama, in what I'm sure was supposed to initially be a friendly gesture to keep things moving, met with McConnell, and made a deal, and then announced it to everyone - Democrats would get their wish of 1 more year of unemployment benefits and tax cuts for the middle class, and Republicans would get... everything else. Tax cuts for the top 2%, including a reduced estate tax.
    • Here's why it's a bad idea - it actually raises the tax burden on the lower and middle classes (primarily by replacing a current tax cut with a payroll tax cut. For anyone making less than $20,000, and $40,000 for families, the payroll tax cut is smaller, and will basically leave us with smaller paychecks... Trust me, $80-100 LESS a month adds up fast when you're poor. A day after I shared this info with Care2, I discovered that the White House admitted it was true. So yea, guys, apparently it is actually true.) while giving the upper classes (especially those making over $5million a year) a bunch of very huge breaks that last for 2 years-- while unemployment benefits will only get 13 months of extension. We know that the continued tax cuts have been estimated to add a staggering $700+ billion to the deficit, but the CBO recently announced that this plan will actually add $858 billion. It will cost almost $100 BILLION more than the stimulus plan, and we actually got something positive out of that. This, not so much. So, yea, dreadful idea. I mean, I have nothing against compromise, but dude, it's not a compromise when it's a sneaky, back-door deal in which the other side gets everything and you get the wimpy consolation prize. Totally lame. Create jobs? I fail to see how continuing the same tax cuts that failed to create this magical trickle-down job thing will somehow work now that the rich can continue get richer without doing a damn thing-- well, nothing but screwing over the rest of us. So you're going to have to explain this one to me. I've tried, and tried, but nothing. Supply-side simply doesn't work.
    • So what's happened since? - Democrats in Congress have basically revolted. 54 Dems in the House signed a letter, rejecting the deal. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders staged an 8.5-hour-long filibuster explaining why he did not agree with the President's decision. (Mixed feelings. Awesome, epic speech, but I really hate filibusters. Total waste of time, which we are seriously running out of. In just 3 weeks, the so-called "Teabaggers" take over, remember? And that's not even taking into account the holiday recess. Then again, maybe wasting time is in our best interests here-- waste enough, and ALL of the tax cuts will expire. Which will suck for us, yes, but will probably do a lot more good for the budget than this deal ever could.) Speaking of the TP, this is one thing we SHOULD actually agree on, though apparently they're split on this. TP "Patriots" says no, FreedomWorks (you know, the corporate leaders of the TP) says yes.
    •  As a result of all of this, there are rumors of a possible rival in the 2012 Democratic Primary... Good idea, or bad idea? I personally think it depends on who it is... but overall, probably a bad idea. I don't know if there are enough of us to get a strong progressive in the White House, nor do I want the GOP to have the satisfaction of having their dreams of a "one-term Obama presidency" come true. (Ok, that one might be a little petty, but c'mon!)
  • I think now I should get around to the whole Wikileaks issue. I won't/can't talk about my own opinions of it all right now, or any involvement I may or may not have in anything other than blogging about it ;-), but if you know my past or what I stand for, you should know where I stand.
    •  Well, we know now how the world feels. Less than 2 weeks later, we have this long, lovely list of the government leaders' reactions. Some are negative, some positive, some indifferent. Will it spark an international war? Other than what's already been started, it's unlikely, for the time being.
    • The "sex by surprise" charges brought against Assange in Sweden might be dropped if the US decides to go ahead with the new plan-- charging him with espionage. I'm not even going to go into how silly that is, (or how ignorant a certain someone sounds when she calls him un-American-- lady, he's AUSTRALIAN, not American.) or how strange consensual "sex-by-surprise" sounds when in the US or the UK, it wouldn't even qualify as sexual harassment, let alone rape. I'm all for women's rights of course, and I do believe that rape allegations should always be taken very seriously; but based on what information I have right now, I think that in this case it's likely it's a specious argument. Well, very suspect, to say the least. (Btw, if you want someone to get tested for STDs, wouldn't it make far more sense to do that BEFORE you sleep with them? And then not try to sell the story to tabloids & get "caught" via text messages? Just sayin... It sounds a little weird. But maybe that's just how things go down in Sweden. I don't know.)
    • Over the past few weeks, the gathering known as Anonymous has been launching cyberattacks on opponents of Wikileaks-- primarily against the companies that have been censoring information or trying to shut down or block aid to the whistle-blower organization: Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, etc. They will be switching tactics away from the DDoS attacks of Operation Payback to a flood of information known as Operation Leakspin. The media--well, one half of it, anyway-- is very wrong about the group, though-- they're not cyberterrorists. Most of them aren't even hackers and were not involved in the DDoSing attacks. Their objective, as they state, is not about damaging or destroying anything, but getting noticed, and getting a message out, which is why the tactics have been changed. So again, I'm still not "officially" announcing my position on any of this, but tonight, I'll recruit for them. If you're interested in getting involved, or just finding out more information, email me or find me on IRC, Care2, or AIM. I know they need hosts, writers, editors and graphic designers. (Official Info & sites are somewhat hidden and change frequently due to government/corporate intervention plus various attacks from "enemies," so unless you're already involved, it might be difficult to keep up with them. I've been trying to keep an eye on all sides of things, to say the very least, and it sometimes proves to be a challenge... There's a lot going on.)
    • I love Love LOVE Dennis Kucinich. "Wikileaks ... gave us 92,000 reasons to end the wars. Pick one!"
    • There are rumors of a new Patriot Act for the internet. I'm hoping it's just related to that horrific, supposed law that gives the President the power to effectively shut down the entire internet (good luck with that...), and it's not the new horrific supposed law that allows them to tap into our IMs and emails and webcams, and is a continuation/expansion of this crusade against the P2P community... Call us paranoid, but this is a netizen's worst nightmare.
    • I finally found a much better organized database of all of the cables and their contents, at the Guardian. (Yea, trust the British media to do it right!) Or you could just find one of the mirrors at this point. Either way, seriously, go check it out. You'll find out some pretty wacky things.
      • Like how Iran is hiring ninjas to take part in political assassinations. Yes, NINJAS. (Let the ninja-pirate wars begin!!) So if you're unemployed and have wicked nun-chuck skillz, I'd get on that. Probably your best bet at a job nowadays...
      • Or how Sarkozy chased a dog chasing a rabbit chasing a... well, I don't remember what, but diplomats share some damn weird gossip...
And most importantly... this past week saw the passing of Elizabeth Edwards, a woman of great grace and courage who fought for our rights to proper, affordable healthcare. RIP.

And I thought 2010 was bad. 2011 is looking to be a whole new level of Hell...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Go Away, Sarah Palin, Go Away! (Video)

Video by Tom Chapin

Currently watching this. Best thing I've seen all night (that I can talk about, that is... Still not publicly taking sides on certain issues... at least, trying not to, but beliefs are getting in the way of that...)

Little updates on the world - DREAM Act passed in the House today, DADT cloture vote is tomorrow morning. See my Twitter feed for info about Obama's tax cut "compromise," as I'm not getting into that anymore tonight.

Go away, Sarah Palin, go away... [drifts off to sleep, humming...]

Saturday, December 4, 2010

@StateDept - re: Wikileaks & social networks-- Confidential was so last week.

Let me just state that I am not discussing the Wikileaks fiasco tonight. I was going to, but then this little issue popped up...

Dear State Department,

I am rather irritated by your request to the students of Columbia that they refrain from discussing Wikileaks on Facebook and Twitter. It is utter nonsense to claim that discussing what can now be considered public knowledge should have any effect whatsoever on a person's ability to handle confidential information. The information revealed by Wikileaks stopped being confidential the moment the first few cables were shared with the entire world. (Or, if you want to get technical, when they were leaked by someone-- possibly in the State Department!) Get over it. The information is out there (and oh, is it so very interesting...). This is a public matter now. What you should be focused on right now is not threatening students' future jobs or even hunting down Julian Assange, but finding out who it was that breached confidentiality protocol, and preventing future leaks. Assange is just the messenger, the face to the Wikileaks name. He is not the one you should be worried about. ([gasp!] There's a spy among you! A double agent! Oh no!)

Students should absolutely use this situation to their advantage to discuss diplomatic/international affairs (as well as the need for honest/privacy) in matters of state, how to avoid international incidents if issues like this should arise, etc. I'm sure you get my point. This is a learning experience in foreign relations, not a time for you, the government, to tell the world to cover their ears and pretend they've never heard of the most infamous scandal of their lifetimes (well, other than the Clinton affair, but we were little kids back then...).

Yes, there are some secrets that should probably never be shared. But the problem is, once they're out, they're out, and there is nothing you can do about it. Trust me, I've been there. Forget about trying to control what people are talking about, and focus on what you do best- controlling what people know. And the whole being a diplomat thing, because odds are, you're probably going to need that skill right now.

All of that being said, I am thrilled I decided a long time ago that I had no interest in working for you, or the United Nations. (And it is likely that you will reject my younger sister as well. But that's for your own good. She's a total bitch.) I hope you all have happy, long lives, locked away alone in your "secret" little buildings, pretending the world doesn't know anything about what you do-- just the way you want it.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

State of the "Union," Early Edition!

Wow, ok, quite a bit has happened recently, and there's a lot to talk about, so I thought I would do this now rather than wait until Sunday. (Especially since I haven't been here due to NaNo! I would have been here sooner, but I haven't been home much today...)

- The DADT press conference was yesterday, along with the release of the final report (PDF, & suggest you skip ahead to Section VI. It's kind of interesting/depressing/infuriating, but then it gets better. And a bit sad.) -- to make a long story short, the Pentagon now officially endorses repealing DADT immediately, but Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants Congress to allow the military some time to prepare. How long, he can't say, but I guess it's still good news that one way or another, it's going to end.

- I just found out today that new offshore drilling off the East Coast has been BANNED for the next 7 years!!! But sadly, this news came after an offshore drilling rig exploded off the coast of New Orleans, injuring 3 people. Offshore drilling will be banned in certain sections of the Gulf until 2020. (So we have 10 years to stop it completely and create new alternatives!)

- Extended unemployment benefits were allowed to expire last night, several days after the most financially successful Black Friday we've had in a long time. Food banks are said to be preparing for a huge rush (so donate what you can!) My guess is this is going to be a very rough holiday season for many families (hence the rush to get the "best" deals last Friday), and this may very well be a bigger-than-anticipated hit to the economy, especially once holiday workers are let go. Job growth has been increasing, but it still isn't enough to bring us completely out of the red... But don't take my opinion for fact, I'm not an economist by any stretch of the imagination.

- Today is World AIDS Day. Get tested. (How do you know if you should be tested? Check out these general guidelines.)

- So I had this whole section on the Wikileaks thing, and it's gone. Don't ask where it went, I don't know. Point is,  [that's "telegrams" for all of us under 50, which, I've learned, are some sort of primeval communication method that existed prior to the invention of email and texting. Go figure ;-) ], revealing all sorts of state secrets and potentially straining our international relationships with... well... everyone.

- Here's something incredible - Texas (you know, that state that carries out close to one third of all capital punishment executions in the US?) might soon rule the death penalty to be unconstitutional. Yes, I said UNCONSTITUTIONAL. (Conservative red-state Texas wants to rule the death penalty unconstitutional. I think this may be the first -- and last-- time I'll ever say "Way to go, Texas!") Can you believe that?? It will be a huge victory for those of us who want to do away with the death penalty entirely, even if it's just a state thing
-- you know, provided it ever actually happens. I doubt it. But the argument being presented is that there are too many innocent people being killed-- "disproportionately high risk of wrongful convictions." (Haven't we also been telling them that for the longest time?) Hmm...

- What else is new? GOP threatens to filibuster forever unless they get their tax cuts for the rich. [yawn]  Have they done much else lately, or did I miss something between the "sticking up for the corporations?"

- Oh! I almost forgot. Remember I went off on a rant about how I got into a fight with all of those people on Care2 about the new food safety bill? It passed with bipartisan votes in the Senate. And people who aren't Tea Partiers (or hardcore hippies, apparently...) like it! (I'm off to go gloat in my room-- not really, it's totes bedtime.)

- NaNoWriMo is over!!! And I was a winner! Yay! Storyteller Knight was a winner! Yay! (Winning means writing over 50,000 words between November 1st-30th, by the way) So congrats to all of our fellow winners-- we did it! Way to go! (And I already have a story topic for next year... Sweet.)

- Wikileaks... Where do I even begin? I personally have mixed feelings about the whole affair, but let's take a look: On Monday, Nov 28th, Wikileaks  published almost 300 of over 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables [that's "telegrams" to those of us under 50. Apparently telegrams are some kind of primeval communication method that existed before email and Facebook. Go figure ;-) ], revealing all sorts of confidential state secrets and potentially straining our international relationships with... well... everyone. Amazon has removed the Wikileaks sites from their servers today, though I was able to sneak a peek when it hit the net. Wikipedia has a long list of some of the contents. The director of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is being considered for charges of espionage... you know, for leaking state secrets to the world. So... hmm. Again, mixed feelings on all of this.

I look forward to getting back to regular posts... though i do think I'm going to keep working on my novel for NaNo, if only because I left off during a very interesting argument, and I want to see where it goes... Goodnight!

P.S. - This is mostly a note to myself: Have a hilarious video link re: the TSA. I should find it.