This Is Who You Should Vote For.

 

This is who you should vote for.  Oh, I already know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that I’m going to tell you to vote Democrat.  You’re thinking, why am I even bothering, after all Brian Dann is about as far left as Glenn Beck is right.  You may even be thinking, who the hell is Brian Dann to be telling me who I should vote for. Some of you may even be thinking, who the hell is Brian Dann. And if that is what you’re thinking, you’re right. So, this is who you should vote for.  But before I get to that let me just ask you this.  Is there really anything that I can write at this moment that could make you change who you are going to vote for?  Haven’t you by this point really made up your mind, and isn’t it true that over the next two days, no matter how many negative political ads that you see on the TV, or hear on the radio, you are not going to change what you are going to do when you step into that voting booth on November 2nd?  Isn’t it true that by this time you have mostly tuned out those political ads narrated by that guy with the deep gravelly voice that paints their opponent as the worst thing that could possibly happen to this country since 9/11?  And isn’t it true that it would be completely presumptuous of me to think that for me to tell you who you should vote for would make one god damn bit of difference in this election on Tuesday?
   
The gods honest truth is this.  I don’t care what party any politician associates themselves with.  I don’t care what the opposition is saying about them or what half truths the supposedly fair and balanced media has twisted about them.  The truth is that for anyone to decide to devote their life to serving the public  by running for political office takes a certain type of individual.  The truth is that for all of the bad things that people say about politicians, at least in the beginning, before all of the lobbyists and special interest groups get to them, or before they become overly consumed with their own perceived political power and forget that they are supposed to be representing the people in their districts, they are all essentially good people.  The truth is that they align themselves with a certain political party, be it republican or democrat because they intend to support the agenda of that party.  And the truth is that all of the negative rhetoric that we hear in every political ad, year after year, does not mean a single thing because for one, anyone can say whatever they want about their opponent in a political ad, and it does not make it true, and for two, most politicians are essentially good people at least in the beginning assuming they are not tied to the mob, or their name does not rhyme with Shmod Zgloyavich.  The real problem with our system of electing politicians is that we rely too much on political ads and political pundits who put way too much time and energy into spreading lies about whoever it is that they want to bring down.  The sad truth is that if Glenn Beck keeps saying over and over, day after day that Obama is a racist, socialist, Muslim who hates America and was born in Kenya people will start to believe it, and they have.  If enough people started claiming that the earth was flat and kept hammering that message over and over again, day after day, you would end up with a segment of the population who no matter what scientific proof is presented to them, would believe that the earth is indeed flat.  And this is exactly what politicians count on.  They count on the fact that no matter how false and misleading their ads are, people will believe it long enough to cast their vote.  FOX news depends on the fact that human beings are gullible and that regardless of the facts, as long as they present their message in a format that somewhat resembles news, it will influence enough of the population to push through their agenda for them.  Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite when news people presented the day’s news, unbiased as simply facts. In today’s twenty-four hour news channels there is a constant need to fill time and space and today the pundits and fear mongers outnumber the actual unbiased news.  Today we base our votes on what news channel we watch because each station presents the “news” with its own built in bias instead of simply the facts, and the line between news and opinion is gone, because unlike in the old days when on my local CBS news at 10 they would announce “and now perspective with Walter Jacobson,” at which time we knew we were about to get Walters opinion on things, we no longer can tell when it is news and when it is perspective. 
 
And this brings us to Jon Stewart. If you ask Jon Stewart what he is he will tell you that he is a comedian.  But if you ask the American people that question, which Time Magazine actually did in July of 2009, they will tell you that he is the most trusted News Anchor in America. (Time Mag Poll)Yes that is right, not Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson, or Katie Couric… Jon Stewart.  Now I like Jon Stewart.  If you are a loyal reader of NorthShoreDad you know that I regularly feature videos from the Daily Show, and I do so because I believe that Stewart, is more than just a funny man.  He has a way of exposing the media and the politicians for who they really are, with a rare honesty that is frequently non existent in today’s journalism, and uses humor to stress the hypocrisy that often exists in today’s world.  But Americans most trusted News Anchor?  I believe that the fact that this poll by Time Magazine yielded the results that it did is much more of a reflection on today’s state of journalism then it is on Jon Stewart’s prowess as a news man.  And to this I believe that Stewart himself would agree.  Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson, or Katie Couric should have been one of the winners of that poll and the fact that not a single FOX news anchor was even mentioned in this poll says a tremendous amount about the “Fair and balanced” claim of Fox news.    The reality is that we can no longer depend on what the news reports to us, whether that news is from FOX, CNN, ABC, NBC or CBS.  The reality is that any story that has any trace of politics in it is rarely reported without some sort of spin or angle to it.  The reality is that if we really want to know what is going on with any political figure or issue we must do our own research and forget what is reported by anyone.  We can’t blame the politicians because we expect them to run negative ads and anyone who solely bases their vote on what is said in a political ad is a fool and deserves whatever they get.
 
So this is who you should vote for… no one.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you do not vote.  That would be stupid and if you choose not to vote then don’t complain when the person who wins isn’t the one you wanted. What I am suggesting is that instead of voting for a person, vote for a party.  Why, because no matter what crazy negative thing you hear about any of the candidates, the bottom line is that when that person gets into office, they are going to support whatever the agenda is of whatever party they are a part of.  And if you feel that your values are more in line with the Democrats then you should vote for the Democratic candidates.  And if you feel that your values are more in line with the Republicans, then you should vote Democrat. (Oops I meant Republican)  
 
But to those who voted Democrat in the last election and are considering switching their vote tomorrow I say this.  You are dissatisfied, I get it.  You didn’t get everything that was promised and everything that you wanted, I get it.  Unemployment is still high, foreclosures are still happening, healthcare reform was passed but didn’t go far enough, and Wall Street is still robbing us blind, I get it.  George W. Bush and the Republicans financially destroyed this country decimated our reputation around the world and you wanted President Obama to fix it all in less than two years, I get it. But before you pout all the way to the polls and stomp your feet because you didn’t get your way,  before you start to cry because you wanted three scoops of ice cream and Papa Obama only gave you two, realize that the Democrats want to do something about it, and given the time they will.  The Republicans won’t and only want to return us to the George W. Bush policies that brought this country to its political knees.  Believe all of the rhetoric that FOX News, The Tea Party, and Sarah Palin keep spewing about how we need to take back our country, then remember that two years ago we already did. Then step into that voting booth, cast your vote for the party you believe in.  That is who you should you vote for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Bullying To Death

 

Recently somebody asked me why I keep writing articles about issues related to the rights of homosexuals.  After all, I’m not gay and no one in my family that I know of at least is gay.  I do have friends who are gay and have known many people over the years who are gay, but so have a lot of other people. So why is it that this one issue I have written four separate articles about?  I have written articles supporting the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, about if being gay is a choice or a trait that a person is born with, and about supporting same-sex marriage.  I write about many issues but this issue for some reason really gets to me. The reasons that I keep writing about these issues is twofold.  The first reason is simple.  No person for any reason what so ever in this country should ever be discriminated against and whether that reason is because of their sex, or their skin color, their religion, or their age, a disability or their sexual preference, the fact remains, it is wrong.  This issue goes way beyond what group is being discriminated against, this is an issue of common decency.  It is the same issue that faced African Americans during the civil rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the issue of Equality.  If African Americans still had to sit in the back of the bus and drink from separate drinking fountains then I would be writing about that.  If women were still denied the right to vote then I would be writing about that. If Jews were still restricted from living in certain Chicago suburbs or joining certain social clubs I would be writing about that. And while all of these groups still and always will have to endure discrimination on some level, that discrimination, unlike the discrimination that homosexuals face is currently against the law.  Homosexuals on the other hand not only still have to endure discrimination but they have to endure legalized discrimination and until all discrimination of any kind is outlawed, we all should be outraged that any legal support for discrimination still exist in modern America. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is legalized discrimination against homosexuals in the military.  Laws forbidding same-sex couples to get married is legalized discrimination.  Laws forbidding same-sex couples to adopt is legalized discrimination.  Homosexuality is not a disease, it is not a condition that needs to be rectified, it is not a lesser lifestyle or a way of being that others need to pity someone for. It is a human being, being a human being with every right that every other human being on this earth has.  And if the actual act of two people of the same sex having sex with each other bothers you, well get over it.  No one is asking you to watch.  I would not want to watch most heterosexual couples having sex.  Being gay is not all about sex just like being heterosexual is not all about sex.  Being homosexual is simply about who you love, who you care for, who you choose to date, who you build your life with. Sound familiar, it’s just like being heterosexual.  To deny a homosexual any right afforded to a heterosexual is wrong and it is discrimination
 
The second reason these issues are so important to me is much more personal. Tyler Clementi, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, and Seth Walsh.  If you don’t know these names, these are four of the teenagers who recently made headlines because they were bullied so much for being gay that they felt the only way to escape it was to commit suicide.  Asher Brown and Seth Walsh were only thirteen years old.  These four teens killed themselves simply because they could not endure the abuse they were receiving from other kids.  This is tragic.  This issue of equality for homosexuals has gone way beyond equal rights, and has become about life and death.  These four boys just wanted to be who they are, to live their lives but they were bullied so much that all they wanted was for it to stop.  Being a kid, without having to deal with the stigma surrounding being gay is hard enough.  To be a teenager, where popularity and acceptance is everything, and also be gay is something I can’t imagine having to deal with at that age.  If you got through your first eighteen years of life without being bullied for something, you are fortunate.  I was bullied because I was always the smallest, I had a huge head of curly hair, was better at art then I was at sports, and was a bit of a geek.  I was teased, beat up and there were many times that I just wanted it to stop. Fortunately my positive attitude and close friends kept me going and I never let the bullies destroy what I knew was great about me.  The fact that I went on to marry a girl who was the head cheerleader at her school still amazes me.  The fact is bulling is something that is all too common among young kids but not something that is new.  The difference is that today we have Facebook, My Space, and YouTube and with that bullying has reached a whole new level.  With some teenagers having hundreds and even thousands of Facebook friends, harassment can now happen instantly on a global level.  Bullying can happen on a scale today that was unimaginable when I was a kid.  A video of a private sexual same-sex encounter once posted to Facebook can go viral in a matter of hours.  Verbal harassment can happen even when you are alone in your own bedroom through social networking and where in the past a teen could escape the abuse simply by the sanctuary of his or her own home, today via text messaging, My Space, Twitter, and Facebook the harassment is nonstop.
 
But who is to blame?  It is easy to blame the bullies, but that is too easy and not the true source of the problem.  The truth is, the bullies are also kids, kids who are also looking to be popular, wanting to be accepted, and many times are even more insecure and lacking in confidence then the others in their peer group. Many times their bullying is simply to compensate for this lack of confidence and their insecurity, and without thinking of the consequences of their actions, they lash out at the easiest target, the one that will get them the most noticed, the one that will raise their own level of popularity and acceptance among their peers.  Their actions, regardless, are inexcusable but the solution must come from somewhere else.  Prejudice is not inherent.  Hate is not a gene.  And barring some mental disorder, intolerance is something that is learned.  The solution must come from the home and the reinforcement to the solution must come from the schools.  The blame for intolerance, hate and prejudice lies in the home and in the home is where it must change.  A child must learn that bulling is not ok, that intolerance of anyone is wrong, that we are no better than anyone else because they are different from us.  It is the parents that must set the example and realize that when you call something “gay” and mean it derogatory, a child learns from that.  When you use the “N” word when speaking about an African American, a child learns from that.  When a child uses hitting, punching and yelling to get their way, and you say nothing, or worse, do it yourself, a child learns from that.  And when you are intolerant of others because they are different then you, a child learns from that.  The blood of Tyler Clementi, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, and Seth Walsh is not only on the hands of those that bullied them but also on the hands of their parents, their parents who with or without knowing it taught their kids to be intolerant.  The blood is on the hands of the school system that didn’t provide a safe haven where a teen could turn to for help, and until parents and the schools start taking responsibility for the intolerance that our children are having to face on a daily basis, more teens, who just want to be who they are, will end up ending their lives simply to escape the bulling that the parents of those doing the bulling continue to condone.
 
Discrimination of any kind is wrong.  Bullying anyone for any reason is wrong, and no person should ever be made to feel lesser of a person, whether it is by a peer group who teases to compensate for their own insecurities, or by a State who forbids same-sex couples to marry.  No one should ever have to hide who they are from a military who says Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell, or from a school system who fires their teachers because of their sexual preference.  We are all human beings and not any one of us is lesser of a person because of who we choose to spend our life with. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

 

Please take some time to watch this video created by the young stars of Broadway, and please watch the other videos posted under the Daily Videos to the left.

 

 

 

If you've been bullied please share your story by clicking on the "Comments" link below.
 
If you know a teen who needs help here are some very useful resources:

WeGiveADamn.org

The Trevor Project

It Gets Better Project

GLAAD.ORG

Stop Bullying Now

Kids Against Bullying

 

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Now That's Huge!...That's What She Said,..or He Said, Your Choice.

 

If you were given a choice to be straight or to be gay, what would you choose? For arguments sake, let’s forget about the debate for a minute of whether homosexuality is a choice or not. Just think about the question.  Assume for a moment that you actually could choose.  I’m not talking about choosing whether you would have sex with a person of the same sex as you. You could do that regardless if you are gay or not.  I’m talking about making a choice to love, have feelings, a relationship with a same sex partner just as you would with an opposite sex partner. Think about all the implications surrounding that decision, if it was truly possible to choose one lifestyle over the other, and the implications it would have not only on your life but on the friends and family around you as well.  Forget for a moment about your own personal feelings and prejudices or lack thereof about homosexuality and just focus on society and how your life would be depending on which choice you would make…Seriously think about that.
 
Now, let me ask all of the straight people a question.  When was it that you chose to be straight?  You see, you cannot answer that, can you?  For me I just knew that my seventh grade English teacher was “I’m hot for teacher” hot and I would have gladly given up my new Atari Pong console to get into her skirt!  I never thought about it, never made a choice between her and my gym teacher, never questioned which sex I preferred, I just always knew.  And that’s the answer to the debate.  You just know.  Sure maybe some people are confused, they question what they feel, maybe they even experiment just to confirm one way or another what their feelings tell them, but the bottom line is at some point we all just know.  If you still doubt me, think about for a moment what homosexuals in this country have to endure just to be who they are.  Their lifestyle is continuously ridiculed, questioned and spat upon by members of society that claim the religious higher ground.  They are demonized by homophobes too intolerant of others and too insecure with their own masculinity or femininity to accept those different than they are.  They are made victims of hate crimes, beatings, and social network bullying to the point that they commit suicide.  They are shunned by parents who can’t love their children unconditionally, by politicians who say they can’t marry, and they are forced to hide who they truly are from a military who won’t ask, and who says don’t tell, because if they do they will be treated like a criminal, and discharged dishonorably.  So, if you could choose, if your choice was not predetermined for you, which choice would you make?  The bottom line is you can’t choose. And even if parents dress their boys up like girls, have them play with dolls, and force them to watch Liza Minnelli videos, they will never turn a straight kid gay or turn a gay kid straight.  The bottom line is there is no debate, there is no choice. We are who we are and nothing can change that, and anyone who believes different is just plain wrong. Our sexual preference is something that is ingrained in all of us from birth, just as is our eye color, our skin color, and our desire to watch Glee.
 
On Thursday, President Obama, during a town hall style meeting with college students said, when asked by one student whether he thought homosexuality was a choice or not, “I don't think it's a choice. I think people are born with a certain make-up.  We're all children of G-d… We don't make determinations about who we love. That's why I think discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong."  WAIT! (Screeching tires…Record player scratch!)  Did I hear that right? What was that he just said?  Did the President of the United States just come out and publicly state that he thinks homosexuality is not a choice?  Holy S#!t!  I hope you can grasp how huge this is.  This is “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!” huge.  This is Regan saying the word AIDS for the first time, huge! This is Oprah taking me to Australia huge! (Yea I’m going, jealous? I’ll you send pictures.)  You see, maybe you didn’t know it at the time, but this is what we asked for.  This is what we voted for.  This is the Change we counted on when we put Barack Obama in office.  Oh you thought he was going to walk on water and instantly we’d be manufacturing TV’s again?  Sorry but that is not the way it works.  To change the problems of a nation that are as monumental and diverse as what was handed to us by our last administration takes time and much more than twenty two months.  Why is it that what President Obama said is so huge?  Because it is indicative of the change in attitude that we need in our leaders.  We have a President who for the first time, regardless of politics, regardless of his religion, which by the way is Christian if you were still trying to figure it out, has publicly stated his view on whether homosexuality is a choice or not, and he has said, quite clearly, “I don't think it's a choice.”  And he is right, and if you don’t call that “Change”, then I don’t know what is.
 
We have an election coming up and what all of us who voted for President Obama need to remember is that we voted for Change.  We voted for Change because where we were at, at the time, was so unbelievably messed up, and the party in power had eight years to fix it but instead only made things worse.  When Bill Clinton left office, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that we would run an annual budget surplus of $800 Billion from 2001 thru 2012.  Then George Bush took office and as of today the deficit is expected to run a 1.2 trillion.  Sure you can argue that President Obama’s economic policies and huge amounts of spending are causing this deficit to go even higher but the facts, according to the New York Times, are that only 7 percent of this deficit is from President Obama’s stimulus bill, and only 3 percent is from Obama initiatives such as health care, education, and energy.  The largest percentage of the remainder is a combination of the Bush Tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, the loss of manufacturing jobs in this country under Bush, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the tremendous spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars during the Bush administration and the recession that followed 9/11.  We forget that Bushes economic policies and his blind ambition to invade Iraq at all costs put us in the economic mess that we are still in today and if anything President Obama and the democrats in congress, with the passing of the stimulus bill saved our economy from nose diving into a much deeper depression then what we were currently facing at the time.  Under President Bush 600,000 private sector jobs were lost, the average income dropped $2000, mortgage and bank deregulation flooded the market with home loans that were not worth the paper they were printed on and today we are seeing the result of this reckless behavior.  Manufacturing jobs went overseas due to the increased deregulation on the free market and the elimination of tariffs, and health care insurance premiums outpaced the average income by light years, except of course the income of the health insurance executives.   Under Bush we became a nation that makes nothing, and rewards executives regardless of the negative impact their decisions have on our economy.  And for some reason, we expected the Democrats and President Obama to turn all of this around in less than two years. 
 
Hey I get it.  They say the recession is over but we just don’t feel it.  We are still seeing massive unemployment and foreclosures.  We see a ton of spending with no guarantees of the outcome.  Were we guaranteed an outcome when Bush spent billions each year on Iraq and Afghanistan?  Were we guaranteed that we would capture every Taliban and get those elusive weapons of mass destruction?  No but somehow we went along with that.  I get it.  Things still suck so we do what seems natural and blame whoever is currently in power and that is the Democrats, even though they’ve only had twenty-two months to fix eight years of mistakes.  I get it, we have no patience, and like a five year old who keeps whining from the back seat, “Are we there yet!” we want our change NOW! Well you’ll get your change soon young man so stop your complaining or the GOP is going to give you a time out, and then you’ll be sorry! But before you stomp out of here on November 2nd, pouting and vote for a Republican or whatever ding-dong the Tea party is endorsing ask yourself if things were better for us under George W. Bush.  Ask yourself if you want insurance companies to be able to deny you coverage for pre-existing conditions due to a repeal of health care insurance reforms.  Ask yourself if you want a ban on stem-cell research that could cure countless medical conditions.  Ask yourself if you want “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” to be eliminated or if discrimination should continue in our military.  Ask yourself if corporate executives should be rewarded while jobs continue to be shipped overseas, while banks are denying small businesses loans that could help grow our economy, while insurance premiums double, coverage goes down and health care cost go up, because that is all the Republicans have proposed, the same old policies that the Bush administration used to bring this country to its knees.  Ask yourself if you remember why you voted for Barack Obama and keep in mind that Change has come, maybe not as fast or as sweeping as we would have liked it too, but it has come and given the opportunity it will continue to come.  Maybe not overnight, but it will, and it will come with a President who has the courage to say, “I think people are born with a certain make-up.  We're all children of G-d… We don't make determinations about who we love.” I get it.

 

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Are You Better Off Today Then You Were Yesterday?



During the last election I was asked by a friend, “Are you better off today then you were yesterday?”  The assumption was that if I answered yes I should vote Republican and if I answered no then I should vote Democrat.   The problem though is that the question itself is flawed.  The question forces us to consider nothing but our own situation and assumes that this is all that matters in deciding what candidate will be best for us, when in reality we should be considering not what is best for us as individuals, but what is best for all of us as a country.  The American Dream is that we are all given the opportunity to be anything we want to be, but the fact is that while this may be true for some, for others their situation makes it harder to obtain this dream.  Today the line between the haves and the have nots is growing bigger and bigger, the middle class is growing smaller and smaller, and as this next election gets closer we all have to ask our selves, are we as a country better today then we were yesterday? To answer that let’s consider what has happened since the last election.
 
Today it is illegal to pay women less then men for the same job. (The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act)
 
Today uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid can get affordable insurance through the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
 
Today, Americans investment in General Motors has saved GM from bankruptcy and thereby has saved hundreds of thousands of jobs not only at GM bus also at the thousands of companies that supply parts and services to GM.  With out this investment, which has been fully paid back, the loss of jobs as well as the domino effect on our economy would have been staggering.
 
Today tobacco companies must disclose all poisons contained in their products, must limit any advertising directed towards minors, and can no longer use words such as “light”, “low”, or “mild” to give the impression of being healthier.
 
Today our children can not be denied medical insurance because of a pre-existing condition.
 
Today health insurance companies can not cancel your coverage because you get sick.
 
Today young adults can be covered by their parent’s health insurance until they are 26 years old.
 
Today a health insurance company can no longer put a cap on the amount they will cover over your lifetime.
 
Today for new health insurance plans, preventive medical care is free.  This includes screenings for mammograms, vaccinations, vision screening for children, Autism, HIV, and the list goes on.  For a full list Click Here.
 
Today, in an emergency, you can no longer be charged extra for out of network doctors or hospitals.
 
Today the Mathew Shepard Act allows the government to pursue hate crimes motivated by a persons gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and for the first time extends legal protections to transgendered persons.
 
Today businesses that employ unemployed workers will receive breaks on payroll taxes.
 
Today our ability to regulate Wall Street, prevent consumer credit fraud, prevent mortgage fraud, and overall prevent financial collapse is stronger due to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. At the signing the President announced, "There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts. Period."
 
Today our standing in the world community has been elevated due to the open dialogue that President Obama has created with the Muslim world.  While extremists in the Muslim communities will never be our friends, the trust level between the U.S. and moderate Muslim countries and their citizens has increased.
 
Today peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, moderated by the Obama Administration, have resumed.
 
Today our mission in Iraq has been completed and our combat troops have been withdrawn, as promised by President Obama, and thousands of our troops have finally come home.
 
Today our commitment to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban is back on track and hopefully that will end soon as well.
 
Today it is easier for students to receive Pell Grants for College and the President has doubled the amount of Pell Grants given out.
 
Today Students will be forgiven the balance of their student loans if they have been faithfully repaying their loans for 20 years.  In addition borrowers will only be required to pay up to 10% of their discretionary income each year on student loans.
 
Today, if it passes in congress, we have the potential for lower taxes for 98% of our citizens and increases only for the 2% who can afford it.
 
Today we have the possibility of ending the legalized discrimination in our military against homosexuals.
 
The answer is, Yes, today we are better, and no matter how loud the Tea Party and their candidates want to yell, no matter how many lies and falsehoods they and their friends at Fox News want to tell us, no matter how often Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh want to claim that we are going to become a socialist nation, that our rights are being stripped away, that the Bush Administration had nothing to do with creating this mess, that President Obama is failing at every thing he is doing, the fact is today we are better.  Yes we may still have a long way to go but the fact is that it will take much longer then twenty months to recover from the economic slump that our last administration got us into.  Have we spent a lot?  Yes, because we are finally investing in rebuilding our own country and not waging wars in others.  We are finally putting the U.S. people, businesses and infrastructure before those of the rest of the world.  Finally we are taking care of business at home, not just overseas.  And to do this it takes time and it takes investment.  In order for a company to prosper and grow it needs capitol, it needs to invest in itself and the same is true for our country.  There is an old saying that goes, “it takes money to make money.”  And for those disillusioned by our President, for those still out of work, and that includes myself, remember this, you elected a man, not a magician.  Just like the rest of us he is human and some of our problems will be solved and some of them will not.  This is a task bigger then any one man or woman. This is a task that requires patience.  This is a task that can not be solved in twenty months or even in one term. And when we go to the polls in November we should only be asking ourselves one question.  Are we better today then we were yesterday? Well are we?

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The Tea Party - Yell Loud and Carry a Misspelled Protest Sign

 

Howard Beale, does the name ring a bell?  He was the impassioned newsman from the movie Network who coined the famous line, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”  In the movie he became a voice, a voice with a simple message that people responded to.  Today our Howard Beale is The Tea Party.  The Tea Party people apparently are all “Mad as hell,” and they aren’t gonna take it anymore!  In fact they have made this abundantly clear with their rallies, and marches, and, how should I put it, oh so interesting and inventive characterizations of our President and what his “true” intentions are for our country.  If we were to blindly accept what the Tea Party movement tells us, then we would be required to believe that President Obama, most likely was not born in the country and therefore has no right to be president in the first place.  We would have to believe that he hates white people, even though his mother was white, which actually makes him half white, which would mean not only would he have to hate his mother but fifty percent of his own family not to mention himself, well at least half of himself.  We would also have to believe that he is a Socialist, or Fascist, or Communist, or Nazi, all of which apparently to the Tea Partiers is interchangeable, and he wants to turn our nation into a socialist state.  If I’m not mistaken, didn’t the President just reject the idea of government controlled, universal health care, and refused to even include a government run public option in the recent health care insurance reform act?  I guess if I’m gonna fully accept the rhetoric of the Tea Party movement, then yes, I am mistaken.
 
But just to make certain that I fully understood the Tea Party movement I wanted to go by more than just talking points from the liberal media, so I decided to do some research on my own.  I decided to look at Tea Party sponsored web sites and I decided to Google, “Tea Party platform”. The interesting thing wasn’t what I found, but instead was what I didn’t find, and that was a platform.  That is because there is no Tea Party, well at least not in the sense of a Republican Party or a Democratic Party.  There is no actual “party.”  What there really is, is a bunch of sore loser, pissed off Republicans, who got way to comfortable during the eight years of the Bush administration, and for some odd reason were just fine with having a President who wasn’t able to finish a war that we should have been in, who started a war under completely false pretenses, that we shouldn’t have been in, who diverted billions of dollars away from issues at home such as education, infrastructure, strengthening our boarders, investing in small and medium size businesses, and job creation, just to name a few, in order to pay for these wars, who completely deregulated the mortgage and banking industries that led to the eventual collapse of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, a record number of foreclosures and bankruptcies and a complete meltdown of the stock market, with the ultimate demise of Lehman Brothers and the bailout of AIG.  They became all too comfortable with eight years of George Bush running our country into the ground, destroying us financially, and decimating our relations in the world with foreign governments and there people.  I’m not sure what ever happened to coming together as a nation and standing behind the candidate who won, but I guess that doesn’t apply when he supports gay rights, stem cell research, thinks it’s OK for women to have abortions in the case of rape or incest, and is black.
 
What the Tea Party really is, is nothing more then a backlash, but not a backlash against the Democrats or the President, but against the Republicans.  The fact is, in 2008 the Republicans didn’t simply loose, they were obliterated on all fronts.  The election became more of a referendum on the dissatisfaction of the country with eight years of George Bush and the Republicans, then on the election of Barack Obama.   They became a party with out direction, without focus, and without a voice.  They were lost and so were the people who followed them.  The Tea Party grew out of this.  Unfortunately for the Republicans, the loudest voices became the most radical, and the most extreme in their views.  They became the voice while the mainstream Republicans faded into the background.  And this is where the problem lies for the Republicans.  The voice of the Republican party, the ones to rise from the ashes and speak the loudest are those that associate themselves with the Tea Party movement.  And in this lies another problem for the Republicans.  The voice that is the loudest is also the most disorganized and that is because unlike the Republican party, the Tea Party movement has no central leadership. It is a mish mosh of various groups, with different platforms and with various degrees of radicalism. And this is exactly why I could not find a central platform.  It simply does not exist. The fact is, the Tea Party movement is the best thing that could have ever happen to the Democratic party.  The Tea Party is nothing but a cancer on the GOP.  Instead of bringing them together under one voice that could provide true leadership it has splintered and divided the Republicans.  The Tea Party, of no fault but their own, has come to be associated with redneck bigots, who can’t correctly spell a protest sign and thinks Obama is like Hitler.  Whether this characterization is accurate or not, it is not something that your average Republican congress person wants to be associated with.  There is a reason why the most prominent “politician” associated with the Tea Party movement is Sarah Palin.  It is because most legitimate Republican congressmen and women won’t come within ten miles of a Tea Party rally.
 
What is most interesting about the majority of the people who make up the members of the Tea Party movement is that they are also the people who will benefit the most from the initiatives of the Obama administration. They fall within the 98% of the Americans who don’t make above $250,000 and will benefit from the proposed tax cuts.  They are the uninsured and underinsured who will be able to obtain affordable health insurance regardless of there employment status or previous medical conditions.  They are the consumers who have been abused by Wall Street, the banking industry and the credit card companies and will now have a voice fighting for them by the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  What the Tea Party members don’t seem to realize is that the best thing that ever happened to them was President Obama yet they continue to fight against him as if he is the enemy.  They were perfectly happy with President Bush who fought for big business while neglecting the rest of the country yet they demonize a President who fights for the rights of the middle class.  I understand that there are ideological differences when it comes to issues involved with religion, like abortion or gay rights, and I also understand that many can’t get past the fact that we have a president whose name sounds like none other that we have had in the past, and I further understand that for many in the Tea Party movement the color of our Presidents skin may be an issue, whether they want to admit it publicly or not, but the bottom line is that this administration is focused on the issues that effect the bottom ninety-eight percent of Americans and not only the top two percent earners in this country who can actually afford the higher tax burden.  And further more the fact is that regardless of the party that you follow, the policies of George W. Bush simply failed and that is why President Obama was elected.  It is going to take much longer then twenty months to turn around an economy that took eight years to be decimated my President Bush.  The members of the Tea Party movement decided long before President Obama was elected, long before the Tea Party movement even existed that from day one they would never give Obama a chance, and unfortunately even if things improve for all of us, they never will.  Even if the President succeeds in turning this economy and the job market around, the Tea Party movement will come up with reasons that will have nothing to do with the President and may even claim he hampered the efforts.
 
In my research for a Tea Party Platform, what I was able to find was a number of different policy statements put together by different factions of the Tea Party movement.  These policy statements were created as guidelines for what to ask local candidates so that a Tea Party member could decide if that candidate fits in with the values of the local Tea Party group.  Candidates were to be asked if they agreed or disagreed with these statements.  These are a sample of the statements that I found:

1.   The Right to Life is a Constitutional right, therefore innocent human beings should have legal protection from conception until natural death. If you hold any exceptions please state them.

   -   Abortion due to rape or incest is not an option according to most Tea Party factions.

2.   The regulation of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere should be left to G-d and not government and I oppose all measures of Cap and Trade as well as the teaching of global warming theory in our schools.

   -   Apparently to the Tea Party, global warming is just a theory with no scientific evidence to back it up and G-d forbid they talk about it is schools.  Why this has become a political issue I have no idea.  Maybe it’s guilt or simply denial that we were responsible for f—king up the planet.

3.   Marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, any other type of Union is not marriage.

   -   That’s right, g-d forbid a gay couple should have the rights as any other couple in this country.  No heterosexual couples ever screw up their kids lives.

4.   Children should not be placed into foster homes where the parents are homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered.

   -   But having children in homes with opposite sex couples who are sexual abusers, drunks, drug users, physical abusers, and so on is apparently fine.  It’s only homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered persons that are called out.

5.   Parental consent should be required for sex education that teaches more than direct abstinence.

   -   We all know that if we don’t tell kids about sex, they won’t do it.

6.   Only US Citizens should be allowed to vote and a photo ID should always be required to vote.

   -   Exactly when did we start allowing non-U.S. citizens to start voting?

7.   I oppose the don’t ask, don’t tell policy of the military and believe that all same sex partners should be banned from combat duty in the military because of the propensity to transmit blood borne diseases in the theater of battle.

   -   Are you telling me that in 2010 these people still believe that AIDS is only a gay disease?  They oppose don’t ask don’t tell not because it’s discriminatory but because it stops them from openly discriminating against homosexuals!

 
The truth is that the Tea Party movement is as American as apple pie, and over extending our military.  It is people exercising their freedom of speech and their right to protest.  The problem is that like my father used to tell me, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  The Tea Party was created by those that supported the health insurance lobby as a vehicle to protest health insurance reform.  The Tea Partiers, regardless of how misguided they are, are loud, vocal, and consistently out there, while the Democrats and progressives are not.  The Democrats in 2008 were given a gift of being unopposed in both the House and the Senate and with some exception that gift was squandered.  Had they banded together, had the President stopped trying to make friends on all sides, real change and progress could have been made instead of the limited progress that we have seen.  Democrats now risk loosing an advantage that they had due to a small minority that is yelling the loudest.  Not even the Republicans want to be associated with the Tea Party movement but they will take that any day over a Democratic majority.  In Network, what got Howard Beale noticed was his passion, his anger and his voice.  Whether he was right or wrong was irrelevant.  He yelled as loud as he could, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”  If the only people in this country who are going to yell as loud as they can, that they are mad as hell, are the Tea Partiers, then once again it will be the lunatics that will run the asylum and in 2012 we may all have to get behind President Palin.

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A True Survivor, A Miracle Maker

 

"...I have tried to keep memory alive... I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices."  — Elie Wiesel

 
One of my favorite TV shows that I watch religiously with my wife is Survivor.  Their motto is Out Wit, Out Last, Out Play.  We watch weekly as contestants battle for immunity or reward.  We see them battle, suffer and loose weight, but of course in the end only one comes out victorious, only one becomes that seasons Survivor.  The only problem is that I can’t help but thinking when I watch that show, these people are not true survivors.  For them that word just does not fit, and that is because I knew a true Survivor, I knew Al. 
 
Al and Sonia Nisenbaum are the truest of survivors.  Both Alan and Sonia are survivors of the Holocaust.  Al was born in February 19th 1925 in Lubin, Poland. He was one of nine children.  When the Nazis invaded Poland Al was only a boy.  He was separated from his family, and besides one of his brothers who also survived, he never saw his family ever again.  Al was sent to Auschwitz and while he was a prisoner of the Nazis he spent time at a total of six different concentration camps including Majdanek, Blechhammer, Budzyn, Gleiwitz III, and Dachau from which he was liberated.  When the war ended he was only 17 and was sent to a displaced persons camp.  He had been educated at the Yeshiva before the war and could speak fluent Hebrew.  In the DP camp he became a teacher.  One of his students was a girl who was only fifteen at the time.  Al taught her Hebrew and he was so taken by her that they soon married.  In the DP camp they had a daughter they named Linda, and soon moved to America to start a new life in Chicago.  Since then Al and Sonia had two more daughters who all married and collectively gave them seven grandchildren.  Al and Sonia’s first daughter, Linda married Harry, who’s parents David and Mimi, were also Survivors.  I was fortunate enough to marry Al and Sonia’s first grand daughter and together we gave them two wonderful great-grandchildren.
 
Many times I have heard my wife tell me that she was a miracle child, because if just one of her four grandparents had not survived the Holocaust she would not be here today. But the truth is so much more.  The truth is all of Al and Sonia’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are miracles, and not only are they a testament to the strength, will and determination of Al and Sonia to survive and then prevail, but they are also a testament to the failure of the Nazis and their senseless attempt at the ethnic cleansing of Europe.  Alan went on to accomplish so much in his life.  He was able to turn the most unimaginable experiences in his life in to a triumph, and he set the bar on how to be a good person as high as it could go.  He was kind and generous, smart and funny.  He became not only a successful business man but a community and religious leader as well.  But through it all he always put his family first.  He had an appreciation for life that only someone who had been through what he had been through could have.  As a seventeen year old man, in a DP camp he never dreamed that one day he would be a man in his eighties, surrounded by loved ones that were his family.  He never dreamed that he would have three daughters who he would all get to see marry. He never dreamed that he would have seven grandchildren and attend two of their weddings, and finally he never dreamed that he would get to sit at the Passover table next to his great-granddaughter who could not wait to sing songs with her Papa Al. Papa Al died this past Friday but he will live on forever in the family that he left behind.  He was one of the true survivors and he will truly be missed by everyone that came to know him.  Papa Al may never have won immunity or a challenge for reward, but in the game of life he definitely Out Wit, Out Lasted, and Out Played.

 

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Glenn Beck’s Dream is King’s Nightmare

 

I woke up Saturday morning and realized that I had entered Bizzaro World! The strangest things were happening and it just did not make sense. For example I turned on the television and before me I saw a rally that seemed to be commemorating the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech except that it was being hosted by Glenn Beck and the keynote speaker was non other then Sarah Palin, and to top it off the rally was attended by nothing but a sea of white people! It just did not make sense. There was barely a minority to be found. But the weirdest thing was that on stage was Martin Luther King’s niece, a parade of African-American singers and speakers who all looked like they had shown up to the wrong rally. And all everyone was talking about was “restoring honor” and giving America back to the people. I thought that was what happened when dubya left office and the vast majority of Americans voted Barack Obama and the democrats back into power. I was waiting for Rush Limbaugh to walk out on stage with an African robe on and start singing “We Will Overcome”, hand in hand with Beck and Palin. I swear, it was the weirdest thing! Then I realized that I had not entered Bizzaro World at all but had instead woken up to a normal day and this was really going on!

But what possible reason would Glenn Beck have for hosting a rally of all white people to commemorate the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech? And what did King have to do with the messages that Glen Beck and Sarah Palin have been preaching to the far conservative right wing and the Tea Party movement? And how come the only black people that were there were on stage? Maybe I’m making too much of this. After all, there was no talk of Obama being a socialist or questioning his religion. Their was no talk of comparing Obama to Hitler, and Sarah Palin only spoke of the bravery of our troops. The Tea Partiers did not bring their traditional anti-Obama signs and the overall tone seemed to be as peaceful as could be. At first glance it appeared that Beck’s rally turned out to be nothing but a peaceful get together, with out the traditional Beck/Palin messages, celebrating King and the hope for a better tomorrow. But at second glance, maybe the first glance is the actual problem.

You see when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at that rally in 1963, which was called “The Great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” his message was not directed simply to those who followed him but to all of America, and his message was consistent with all that he had said before that day. What made King so great was that even though his movement was ignited by the social and economic injustices to the African Americans at that time he recognized that for all Americans to prosper, no single group could be held back. His message was always positive and he never used hateful or incendiary language to forward his movement

The organizers of the 1963 rally, which besides King also included many labor leaders including those from what is now the UAW, were not only preaching civil rights but also economic equality for all. Flyers from the rally called for a push back against "the twin evils of racism and economic deprivation," and recommended massive federal intervention, in order to bring jobs to the unemployed, both black and white, the kind that Beck would call socialism and a take over of America. A. Philip Randolph, vice president of the AFL-CIO at that time, and the one who actually conceived of the 1963 march, the man who got King involved, and who in 1964 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson was the first speaker that day. In his speech he said, “"Our white allies know that they cannot be free while we are not. And we know that we have no interest in a society in which 6 million black and white people are unemployed and millions more live in poverty."

The problem is that Beck’s message is nowhere near the dream that Martin Luther King preached that day in 1963 and consistently throughout his whole life. Kings message was for Social and Economic justice for all, yet in Beck’s skewed and warped misinterpretation of the civil rights movement he said that “They weren't crying for social justice…” When Rev. Al Sharpton came out and spoke about Kings dream, that it was “ not to put one black candidate in the White House," but to "make everything equal in everybody's house,” Beck responded with “That is not the Dream, that is a perversion of the dream,” when in fact that was exactly what the dream was. Becks hateful speech has gone so far as to numerous times compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler. He has said that he expects that during this administration we will see dogs and hoses turned on the people. He has said that we will be enslaved by everything from taxes to the health care reforms. He has blatantly called President Obama a racist and has asserted that he has an agenda to “settle old racial scores through new social justice.” While King called for an expanded role by the government to fight poverty and joblessness, Beck equates government intervention to addicting the public to heroin. King called for an economic bill of rights that would "guarantee a job to all people who want to work and are able to work". In contrast Beck called a guarantee to the right of a job, “Marxism.”

The truth is that if Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today and still preaching the messages that he preached in the 1960s, he would be all over Glenn Beck’s blackboard because there is nothing even remotely similar about the views of these two men. In a 1961 speech to the AFL-CIO, King said in regards to the distribution of wealth and jobs for all, “Yes, before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood. Some will be dismissed as dangerous rabble-rousers and agitators. Some will be called reds and Communists merely because they believe in economic justice and the brotherhood of man. But we shall overcome.” King could easily have been speaking of Glenn Beck who has said, “It's economic justice, which is socialism, which is forced redistribution of wealth, which is Marxism.”

Today we have a nation that just as in the 1960’s is filled with the haves and the have not’s. The middle class is slowly disappearing and the distribution of wealth is grossly imbalanced. Today the abuses of Wall Street have created mega millionaires all while manufacturing jobs have been eroded and gone over seas. Joblessness at the time Obama took office was at 700,000, our banks were failing, our auto makers were about to go under, foreclosures were at an all time high, and very little was being done by our government to bring jobs back to our nation. And just like in the 60’s, joblessness in the African American communities far outweighs joblessness by any other social group. If alive today Martin Luther King Jr. would be preaching the same dream that he was preaching that day in 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, of social and economic equality for all. Just as he did in the 60’s he would be calling for an expanded roll in government to help solve these problems. He would be calling for economic reforms and a reform of Wall Street. He would be calling for jobs programs just like he did in the 1960’s and for a strengthening of our education system that did not include vouchers that the poor could not afford. He actually would be more in line with President Obama then with Glenn Beck. In 1961, speaking to the AFL-CIO, King said,

“This will be the day when we shall bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality -- that is the dream.”

Glenn Beck did not “restore honor” or “reclaim the civil rights movement” as he had hoped to. Instead he dishonored King’s message, King’s dream and the legacy of a man who if he were alive today would be so proud to see how far we have come but would still be fighting for how far we have yet to go.


Interview With Participants at the "Restoring Honor" Rally:

 

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Prove That You Are Not Being Attacked at This Very Moment

By Brian

 

Today I am issuing a challenge to everyone who reads this, a challenge to prove me wrong.  Right now, as you read this, you are either being attacked, or a victim of theft, or unknowingly aiding and abetting in a crime, or being set up to fall victim to one or more of these events, or at best being spied upon. How do I know this?  Take my word for it, I do.  Thirteen years in I.T. experience and a Masters Degree in Cyber-Security better count for something, but if you don’t believe me then here is my challenge.  When you get done reading this article, download a free program called Malwarebytes, install it, and run a full scan on your computer. I will provide details on how to download and run this at the end of this article.  If it finds nothing then you have proved me wrong and you or someone is taking very good care of your computer.  But I suspect in most cases it is going to find files or programs on your system that are infected with untold numbers of malware and spyware that you never knew was there, how it got there, or what it is doing on your system.
 
You may be wondering why I am issuing this challenge.  Is it because I am such a caring individual that I want to make sure that your personal computer is safe from danger and potential threats?  No, I am issuing this challenge simply to illustrate to you a growing problem that not only involves you and me, but corporations of all sizes around the world, the Pentagon, The White House, governments in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, Russia, and The Middle East.  If malware exist on your personal computer and is able to spy on your activities and extract data from your system, just imagine the type and amount of data that could be extracted from some of the largest corporations around the world.  Just image the type of data that could be extracted from computers and networks that run our government and military, from the CIA and the FBI.  Recently the number two man in charge at the Pentagon, United States Secretary of Defense, William J. Lynn III wrote an article describing the Pentagons strategy to defend our country from cyber-attacks and the extent to which the threat exists.  In this eye opening article, Lynn, who is only one official away from answering directly to the President, writes:
 
“Every day, U.S. military and civilian networks are probed thousands of times and scanned millions of times…Adversaries have acquired thousands of files from U.S. networks and from the networks of U.S. allies and industry partners…Cyber-threats to U.S. national security are not limited to military targets. Hackers and foreign governments are increasingly able to launch sophisticated intrusions into the networks that control critical civilian infrastructure. Computer-induced failures of U.S. power grids, transportation networks, or financial systems could cause massive physical damage and economic disruption."
 
Lynn goes on to say, “Earlier this year, Google disclosed that it had lost intellectual property as a result of a sophisticated operation perpetrated against its corporate infrastructure, an operation that also targeted dozens of other companies. Although the threat to intellectual property is less dramatic than the threat to critical national infrastructure, it may be the most significant cyber-threat that the United States will face over the long term. Every year, an amount of intellectual property many times larger than all the intellectual property contained in the Library of Congress is stolen from networks maintained by U.S. businesses, universities, and government agencies. As military strength ultimately depends on economic vitality, sustained intellectual property losses could erode both the United States' military effectiveness and its competitiveness in the global economy.”  In other words, we are at war, but this war is being fought in cyber-space.
 
So what does this have to do with you and me? Everything.  Some of those infected files that Malwarebytes will find on your computer could be used by foreign governments, cyber-terrorists and other hackers to launch attacks on government or corporate networks for the purpose of extracting data, or shutting down infrastructure.  If your computer is part of a company network, a rouge file or program could be hiding that could mine your company’s network for data that could be used against you, your company’s clients, or even our government.  Everyday millions of computers are infected simply by the act of going to a website that unknowingly contains malicious code, or from a flash drive that has infected files, or from “worms” that find their own way on to your computer with out you having to do anything at all except be connected.  You see, when governments such as China and North Korea as well as terrorist organizations, are actively training thousands of their citizens and members to be cyber spies and hackers, it is no longer a question of if we will be compromised, but when.  We are no longer on the sidelines watching the war happen on the news, we are on the front lines right in the middle of the gunfire and the fact is in this war we do not have the upper hand. We are chasing the enemy and as of now we are losing.
 
As Lynn states in the first paragraph of his article, “In 2008, the U.S. Department of Defense suffered a significant compromise of its classified military computer networks. It began when an infected flash drive was inserted into a U.S. military laptop at a base in the Middle East. The flash drive's malicious computer code, placed there by a foreign intelligence agency, uploaded itself onto a network run by the U.S. Central Command. That code spread undetected on both classified and unclassified systems, establishing what amounted to a digital beachhead, from which data could be transferred to servers under foreign control. It was a network administrator's worst fear: a rogue program operating silently, poised to deliver operational plans into the hands of an unknown adversary.”
 
Other attacks that we know of have included an attack of over 75,000 computer systems and 2500 companies around the world that began in 2008 and was only detected January 26th of this year.  According to the Washington Post it, “targeted proprietary corporate data, e-mails, credit-card transaction data and login credentials at companies in the health and technology industries in 196 countries.”  Also in 2008 the campaigns of both McCain and Obama were hacked into and mined for data that could predict their foreign policy decisions.  There are actually too many examples to list here and if you still question if this effects you, according to CBS news, “corporate America is losing critical data to overseas competitors, robbing the U.S. economy of up to $20 billion a year.” (Watch the video above for the full report from CBS.)
 
This is a threat that by most news organizations is simply swept under the rug but is as big of a threat as it gets.  This is a threat that involves the continued national security of our country as well as the continued economic growth of our nation, but unless it involves a company like Google that all of us use every day, or our own personal financial data that is contained on some online store or credit card companies data bases, it is seldom if ever talked about in the news. And if you think that your I.T. department is going to keep you safe, think again.  Believe me they have great intentions but quite frankly, the hackers are smarter and many of the hackers either work in your I.T. department or in third party companies that are contracted to work on your systems.  And just as I have challenged each and every one of you to scan your own systems for malware I also challenge each and every public organization and private company to have there own networks "penetration tested" by an outside company that will uncover the holes that exist in your systems. Because the truth is, no matter how secure you think your network is, there are holes and the bad guys will find them if you don't first. And when they do your data will be compromised long before you even knew they were there. So the question is, do you accept the challenge?

 

Click here to download Malwarebytes.   If your browser is set up to not allow files to download then you will get a long yellow bar across the top of the window. Click on this bar to OK the file download.  The file will be called "Mbam-Setup-1.46.exe".  After installing make sure to first run an update, then run a full scan on your system.  The entire scan will take about one hour.  Good luck.

 

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Forty-Four Years of Always Being Right, Well Left Actually

 

Saturday was my birthday and I am forty-four years old.  I am usually told that I don’t look forty-four but instead somewhere in my mid thirties, whereas my wife, who actually is in her mid-thirties, is often mistaken for being in her mid twenties.  Maybe if she took worse care of herself and I took better care of myself people would think we are the same age.  I certainly don’t feel much older and I’d like to think I have grown wiser, but regardless, here are some things that I have learned in my thirty-five years on this planet.

  1. No matter what age someone guesses that you are, simply smile and say, “Yes, that’s exactly right,” unless they guess you are older in which case you simply smile, nod your head, and then spit in their food when they’re not looking.
  2. Never tell your kids any of the terrible things you did when you were their age because all they will hear is “Awesome! Dad got stoned! Now I can too!”
  3. If you do ever catch your kids smoking pot make sure to act very disappointed, apply the appropriate punishment, and confiscate whatever marijuana and paraphernalia you find. Then after they go to bed, make sure to open a window so they don’t smell you “disposing” of it.
  4. Premature ejaculation is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something to laugh at.
  5. Ninety percent of the people that you call Facebook Friends used to be called people you did not care enough to keep in touch with since high school.
  6. You don’t need to update your Facebook status every time your kid makes a crap on the potty, and stop poking me!
  7. Not every movie needs to be shot in 3D unless it’s animated, science fiction, or pornography.
  8. The best advice I ever got was from Steven Colbert, moments before going on stage to audition for The Second City.  He said to me, “Just be yourself.” I blew the audition.  Thanks a lot asshole.
  9. If you like high school reunions then you probably also liked high school.  Personally, everyone that I want to see from high school, I already do.
  10. In life there is right and there is wrong and I’m right, unless you ask my wife, then I’m wrong.
  11. Just because you voted for Barack Obama does not mean you are a champion of civil rights. It means either you finally realized what a dick George Bush was, or the thought of Sarah Palin becoming your next president scared the living crap out of you
  12. Before Tea Party protesters make their signs they need to learn that calling the President a fascist, socialist, communist is like saying Sarah Palin is smart, while also saying she is so stupid that if she got for a penny for her thoughts, you’d get change.  You see, you just can’t be both.
  13. If you voted for John McCain, it does not make you a racist, it just means you lost.  Yep, you lost…lost, lost, lost, lost, L – O – S – T, lost, as in looser, did not win.  Boo hoo for you, go have a tea party.
  14. Whether you voted for Barack Obama or not, if you really thought that in 18 months he was going to be able to turn around the job market, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, bring back manufacturing to this country, reform the greed of wall street, stop record foreclosures and bankruptcies, stop terrorism, and bring every last one of our troops home from the two costly wars that failed in capturing Osama Bin Laden and stopping al Qaeda, but succeeded in killing over 5000 of our troops, and injuring over 35,000 more, not to mention running our deficit up into the billions, all before Obama took office, then you either had unreal expectations, have been watching too much FOX News, or are dumber then Sarah Palin, and that’s pretty dumb.
  15. Global warming exists and if you don’t believe me check out this photo of Sarah Palin on the beach at the Muir Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, in Alaska, and the same beach in a photo from 1880.

    Alaskan glacier2

 

Yes, I have learned many things in my twenty-nine years on this planet, and I have decided that I have a lot more to learn.  You see, I may not know everything, but the things that I do know, I am completely right on.  Oh and one more thing, the other day Sarah Palin was seen talking into a mail box. The mailman asked her what she was doing and she told him, “Sending a voice mail.” What an idiot.

 

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Gay Marriage, Strangled Chickens, And What They Have in Common.

 

"I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman." - Arnold Schwarzengger

 

Is being gay something that is learned or something that is inherent to a persons being? In other words is it nature, or nurture?  Is a person born gay, or are they taught to be gay?  This is the ongoing debate about homosexuality.  Thinking about it for a minute I am not sure what you could do to teach someone to be gay.  I mean no one ever taught me to be straight, I just am.  Oh sure I guess there would be some obvious things you could do like, making your kid listen to showtoons all of the time, although when I was a kid I loved going to see musicals, or encouraging your son to decorate the house, although I was excited to go help my mom pick out wall paper and a matching comforter for my bedroom, or I suppose you could dress up your son in girls clothing and put makeup on him and call him Briana, although my older sister used to do that to me to amuse her friends and tell my mom that she has a new sister, but even through all of that, as far as I can tell, I am completely straight. I am married to an absolutely wonderful, drop dead, knock-out, beautiful wife, I have two wonderful kids and although I feel secure and confident enough in my masculinity to admit that George Clooney is a very good looking man, I have no desire to sleep with him.  The closest I ever got to being gay was when I was in the show “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” for six months.  I understudied the role of the all too obviously gay videographer who if you played the part right made Richard Simmons look like a WWE wrestler.   I wore a purple suit with a cropped jacket with shoulder pads that looked like it was stolen from Prince’s closet.  I knew I had done the role justice when one night after the show an overly homophobic audience member, who I had earlier highly embarrassed at his dinner table came up to me just to make sure that I was straight and not really a member of the Kathy Griffin fan club.   Basically, if nurture was what made a person gay, then I would be a flaming homo by now.  But even so the debate over nature vs. nurture rages on.
 
The answer all depends on who you ask but regardless of the answer, many believe homosexuality is just wrong.  Many believe that it is a sin and that very simply it is against the teachings of the bible.  On that note, what else is against the teachings of the bible?  Well according to the Holy Scriptures these are just some of the hundreds of things that are considered “sins” in addition to homosexuality.

  1. Eating blood. - Ok, it’s gross, but a sin?
  2. Not spanking a disobedient child. - Yes, you read that right, NOT spanking.
  3. Filthy dreams.  - C’Mon, those are the best ones!
  4. Eating things strangled. - I call this one the Dahmer sin.
  5. Striking a man in the groin. – Fuck yea it’s a sin! But apparently it’s ok to do to a woman.
  6. Boasting. – Oh by the way, I just got my Masters Degree!
  7. Wives not submitting to their husbands. – Ok, now that one makes sense.
  8. Wearing clothes of the opposite sex. – Um, does this apply to silk?  Just wondering.
  9. Not honoring the President. – I did not make this up, I swear!  FOX News is SO screwed!
  10. Being Called Rabbi. – Oh that is SO hypocritical!
  11. Being Hypocritical – See “Being Called Rabbi”.
  12. Judging – Now THAT is Hypocritical, JESUS CHRIST!

 
Isn’t judging exactly what people are doing when they say that people of the same sex can not get married?  But I guess that sin is OK to do.  Isn’t the very act of creating Prop 8 in California a sin according to the teachings of Jesus Christ? But I guess that sin is OK. And isn’t the very act of voting for Prop 8 in California a sin in itself since the individual who votes is placing judgment on who does and who does not have a right to be married?  But again, I guess that sin is ok.  The fact is deciding who can and who can not get married in this country should not be decided by religion, by fear or by prejudice.  Prop 8 by its very nature is nothing but pure discrimination against a group of people, in a country that separates the laws of church and state. As Judge Walker wrote in his decision to overturn Prop 8 this week:
 
“Proposition 8 singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates their unequal treatment… Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples… Proposition 8 played on the fear that exposure to homosexuality would turn children into homosexuals and that parents should dread having children who are not heterosexual.”
 
The fact is, there is no law saying that men can’t wear women's clothing, or wives must submit to there husband.  There are no laws saying that you must honor or respect the President, or that you can’t eat a strangled chicken.  It is not against the law to be called a Rabbi, and it is perfectly legal for you and I to have any type of dream that we want to have no matter how dirty it may be.  Yet for some reason this one particular “sin”, same-sex marriage, is singled out by those who claim it to be immoral.  Yet many of those same people have no problem spending an evening watching naked women pole dance while they stuff dollar bills in there g-strings, as they drink liquor, smoke cigarettes, and swear.  Many of those people cheat on their spouses, gamble in Vegas, steal pens from their work place and cheat on their taxes.  I guess those sins are ok to do, but g-d forbid two individuals of the same sex, who love each other, and want to spend the rest of their lives together, and maybe even share that love with children, should have the legal right to do so, because that of course would be wrong, that would be immoral, that would be sinful. Actually, to forbid that would be hypocritical.
   
 

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The Presidents View on The View

By Brian

 

 

Yesterday President Obama made history.  No he didn’t solve the immigration problem or eliminate the national debt.  He didn’t bring peace to the Middle East or teach Sarah Palin the difference between Iran and Iraq.  Yesterday President Obama appeared on The View.  Ok, this may not be history on the level of the falling of the Berlin Wall, but none the less this was the first time that a sitting president has appeared on a daytime talk show.  I believe he was supposed to appear on Jerry Springer but they could not find anyone to claim that the president was their baby-daddy.  This obviously was a big honor for the ladies of The View and I am sure that the fact that Barbra Walters is the producer and a co-host was one of the reasons that the President chose this show over Kathy Lee and Hoda.  Of course being the type of show that it is I didn’t expect the questions to be as hard hitting as Meet the Press, but the ladies held there own.  Perhaps the most interesting part of the show was watching Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who thinks that Fox news really is “Fair and Balanced”, act perfectly giddy as President Obama strolled out onto the stage. (Didn’t she loose on Survivor?  How exactly do you make that transition from Survivor looser to talk show host along side Barbra Walters?  If losing is the requirement to success then I should be co-host of the Tonight Show by now.)  Watching Hasselbeck was like watching Sasha and Malia at a Justin Bieber concert. I was just waiting for her to yell out, “I love you Mr. President, Oh and by the way what about the Death Panels!” or ask him to produce his birth certificate.  Much to my disappointment, neither of those things happened.  She did ask a question, very respectfully, about “saved jobs”, or jobs that were not lost due to the Stimulus Package, that sounded like it was lifted straight from the transcripts of a Sean Hannity show, but as the President pointed out, he was sure that any person who’s job was saved due to the Stimulus Package was not upset about his administration talking about “Saved Jobs”. (BooYa Hasselbeck!)  By the way, before the President goes to bed each night do you think he asks Michelle if she would like to see his stimulus package?
 
It’s no secret that I am a supporter of President Obama but that does not mean I think he can do no wrong.  I believe that pouring more money and troops into Afghanistan is a mistake and we need to get out as soon as possible.  The money we are spending there could be much better spent rebuilding our own infrastructure, investing in clean energy, supporting our schools, and so on. But I believe that President Obama has made two huge mistakes in his presidency.  First, the President needs to realize that the Republicans have not, are not, and never will be on his side.  I fully blame the President for the Health Care debate going as long as it did.  He came into office promising change and fully knowing that the change he had in mind was the complete opposite of what the GOP would ever support.  I can guarantee you that if John McCain had won he would not be spending any time trying to win over the Democrats.  This is a time when there is a Democratic majority in the House and Senate. Mr. President, you pretty much can pass any bill you want to.  Stop trying to make friends.  The second mistake the President is making is that he thinks the campaign is over.  He said on The View that there is a time for campaigning and a time for governing and now is the time to govern.  To that I say you are wrong Mr. President.  In fact they go hand in hand.  This answer was in response to Joy Behar’s question regarding the 27/7 GOP media machine known as Fox News and how they seem to be "hijacking the narrative" with the constant negative onslaught that the right wing media is constantly putting out there.  She asked, "Where on your side is the narrative, where is your attack dog to tell the American people, listen this is what we did?" 
   
Whether or not the right wing media will have an effect on the Presidents re-election is to be seen.  In politics a lot can change quickly and today’s polls don’t mean diddly squat when it comes to 2012.  If the President has proved one thing it is that he is a master campaigner.  He is unshakable in debates and rivals Ronald Regan is speech making. But what the President does not seem to understand is that the election, the campaign is never over and this is what the Republicans have figured out.  Just like American Idol, this is a popularity contest and if the health care debate proved one thing, it showed that the voice of the people matter and not just at election time.  We can vote at any time on any issue simply by calling our congress person, signing petitions, organizing marches and so on.  The reality is politicians do listen to the people that elect them because they want to get re-elected and people are influenced by what they read and hear in the media.  And with a 24/7 media machine like FOX News constantly putting down the President and his initiatives, spreading lies, half-truths, and mis-information, the people will be influenced to believe this negative rhetoric and when they do contact there congress person, sign petitions, organize marches and so on, they may influence there congress person to vote against a bill that actually could be a very positive thing for our country.  Yes, there are progressive talk radio stations out there and television programs like The Rachel Maddow Show, or Countdown with Keith Olbermann, or even The Ed Show on MSNBC, but there is nothing like an entire network, like FOX News, that is singularly devoted to refuting every positive thing that the President tries to accomplish.  The President needs to call out the lies that FOX news spreads just like he did when John McCain and Sarah Palin spread lies during the campaign.  Public opinion may not matter a whole lot right now when it comes to the election in 2012 but it does matter when it comes to individual issues.  The reality that the President does not seem to understand is that when he appears on talk shows like The View or does interviews on the nightly news his numbers go up, and when his numbers go up people support his issues even more.  This is a popularity contest and the person with the least amount of votes must leave the island, the head of the losing team gets fired, and only the winner becomes the next American Idol. The bottom line is that the President is likeable, he’s engaging, he’s tall, he’s good looking, and unlike George Bush he can talk very eloquently without a script.  Even Elizabeth Hasselbeck admitted the next day on The View that after his appearance she thinks she has a little crush on the President. In fact its reported that on her View notebook she doodled in pink marker, “I “heart” Barack”, and “Elizabeth Obama”. The only negative comment that I have heard about so far regarding President Obama’s appearance on The View has come from, master orator, and friend to Tea Baggers everywhere, Sarah Palin.  She said that the President has no time to visit the U.S-Mexican boarder, but does have time to be on a daytime talk show. Then she mentioned that she will be visiting the border in the near future, finally realizing that she can’t see Mexico from her front porch.
 
 

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Let's Talk About Sex, Montana

 

I remember when I was in grade school, sex education was taught to us in fifth grade.  I believe that they spent about two hours on it and most of it consisted of badly animated movies of a very happy sperm swimming upstream to meet up with an equally happy egg only to join together and well you know what happens next.  The egg wakes up with a bad hangover only to look at the smiley sperm lying naked next to her and wonders how she got there and why her panties are around his neck.  Seriously, that is all we got.  There was no mention of love or marriage, foreplay or how the sperm got in there in the first place, and certainly no mention of any of the other creative ways that two people could express there undying lust for each other, although looking back on it, that would have been awesome!  But I was not that lucky, at least not as lucky as the fifth grade class that my oh so cute, blond and perky, twenty something wife taught during the first year of our marriage.  It was her first year teaching science to fourth and fifth graders and she was assigned the task of teaching the fifth graders sex ed.  The first thing I thought to my self was somewhere there is a group of fifth grade boys who can’t wait to get to science class!  Whereas I got two hours of “instruction” in this subject, her students received two weeks.  By the time she was done, each one of her students could name each position of the Kama Sutra and had memorized five pickup lines.  But seriously, her curriculum was very appropriate for the age of the students.  The parents had the option of having their child opt out of those lessons, and my wife pulled it off with the grace, style and professionalism that I knew that she was fully capable of.
 
Now let’s fast forward to today, and a sleepy little town called Helena, Montana.  Actually Helena, the capital of Montana, is not that little with a population of about 29,500 and home to such notables as Gary Cooper, the A-Teams Dirk Benedict, Liz Claiborne, and L. Ron Hubbard the founder of Scientology.  Helena is the type of place where you can stroll down its quiet streets that have retained the feel of the old west, and with a murder rate of zero for 2007 and 2008, feel safe while you admire the 18th century, gold rush architecture.  It is also a place that has turned the subject of sex education upside down and has created a national uproar that had not been seen since sex education was first introduced to our educational system in the 1970’s.  The Helena school board has put forth a proposition that would teach school children, as young as kindergarten, sex education using anatomical terms such as penis, vagina, breast, nipples, testicles, scrotum and uterus.  It would teach first graders about same-sex relationships, and would teach fifth graders that intercourse can not only be done vaginally, but also anally and orally.  That’s right.  It teaches fifth graders about blow jobs. Here is an actual excerpt from the proposal.  “Understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration; using the penis, fingers, tongue or objects.” Objects?  What, are they going to bring in vibrators and dildos?  It’s interesting, talking to a ten year old on the internet about blow jobs is called a felony, but at school in Helena it’s called standard course work.  I mean really, at ten years old most girls don’t even like boys yet.  Are they really ready to be told that they can be used as a human popsicle?  According to one school board member they even want to teach high school kids about erotic art and anxiety about sexual performance.  Thank g-d they did not have this curriculum in the 1950’s or Woody Allen may not have made a single film.
 
But having actually read the proposal (Helena Proposal) I have to say that I applaud them for there honest, well meaning intentions.  This is a crazy time that we live in where girls from as early as 12 years old up think that giving a blow job to a boy is less intimate then having intercourse, where sexting, or the sending of sexual pictures of ones self via a text message to a friend, is common place, and where hard core sexual content is readily available on the internet for anyone of any age to access.  The sexual pressures that kids experience today is light years beyond what we ever had to deal with as kids and the truth is, the way sexual education is taught in this country probably does need to be re-examined.  For example, included in the proposal from the Helena Public School System are proposed guidelines on talking to students about sexual predators, when it is alright for an adult to touch certain private parts and when it is not, and who to talk to if an adult does touch them in a way that the child does not feel is right. But also included in the proposal is the discussion of family and who can be parents, including same-sex relationships.  While I am 100 percent in favor of same-sex couples right to marry and raise children I think that the Helena Board of Education is missing what the real issue is that needs to be addressed.  Same-sex marriage is really part of a larger picture that should be dealt with by our educational system.  What needs to be taught to our children is the concept of tolerance, the concept of acceptance, the concept that it is alright for people to be different then us or our peer groups and that there are many kinds of people and families in this world and it is not our place to place judgment on an other person or group.  What needs to be taught is that discrimination of any kind is not only morally wrong but also legally wrong whether it is racial, sexual, or whatever, and to let that discussion be open to what ever questions our children may have. 
  
Where I think the Helena Board of Education’s intentions were completely misguided was with students from forth grade down.  Quite simply, at that age it is not appropriate for the public school system to discuss in detail the anatomical names of a persons private parts. Children of that age range are not mature enough to take this discussion seriously, and at this age the discussion of private parts should be between the child and the parents.  There are endless resources on the internet and at bookstores for parents on how to address this discussion with there kids if they don’t know how or are nervous about talking about it with their kids.  In addition, it is not the place of our educational system to teach first graders about homosexuality as proposed by the Helena Board of Education.  This again is a subject that should be up to the child’s parents on how and if they want to address this with their child. 
   
After reading what was proposed by the Helena Board of Education I have trouble believing that they truly thought that this would just sail right through with no controversy.  I was waiting for someone to yell out April fools while reading this but that simply did not happen.  It is clear that a great deal of time and thought went into putting this proposal together and minus some of the highly controversial items that the press has reported on, it is a very impressive and a quite comprehensive plan that many educational systems around our country could draw from. 
   
In writing this proposal I think its authors were acknowledging the fact that our world has changed and many of our young people are simply growing up with out certain fundamental skills and information that unfortunately they are not getting from their parents or their peer groups.  To many young people are getting pregnant way before they are ready and others have no idea what to do or where to go when sexually abused.  The internet has become a virtual playground for sexual predators and both children and parents are ill equipped to deal with it.  Children are bombarded with sexual images and peer pressures that they simply are not prepared for.  Most sexual education programs were created way before the evolution of Facebook or MySpace, texting or the iPhone, and just as technology has evolved, how we teach sex ed must evolve as well.  But ultimately it is the parents not the schools who are responsible for what kind of adults their children turn out to be.  Maybe it’s not just the children who need sex ed.
  
  

 

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Marriage, That's So Gay!



I’d like you to ask yourself some questions, some real tough questions, and I‘d like you to be brutally honest with yourself.  After all, you are the only one who will know the answers.  Let’s get started.  First, how stressful is your marriage?  What percentage of the time do you spend fighting, bickering, and arguing, or what ever you want to call it?  And how are you as a parent?  Be honest.  What are your short comings as a parent?  Have you really done the best you can?  Have you given your kids all the love, patience and understanding that you are capable of?  Is there anything that you can see your children looking back at, twenty years from now, that you did or said, that they may say to themselves, during some therapy session, “My parents really messed me up with that one.”  Oh and by the way, if you can’t think of anything, believe me, there’s something.  And finally, what has contributed more to the success or failure of your family, the fact that you have a “traditional marriage”, and by that I mean a man married to a woman, or the decisions that you made as a parent and their effect on your children?  I don’t know what your answers are and frankly, I don’t care.  But what I do know is this.  How you parent has a much larger impact on the type of individual your child turns out to be then if your family is “traditional” or not. I have seen many a heterosexual married couple mess up there kids beyond belief.  I have seen kids scarred by divorce, had there lives ruined by physical and sexual abuse.  I have seen kids who all they want is time from mom and dad but instead are told that they are too busy, kids who crave some attention then act out because they simply can’t get it.  I have seen kids who turn to drugs, alcohol, who get pregnant at fourteen years old.  I have seen kids who whether they know it or not just want a loving family to be there for them. And I don’t care if you are gay, straight or bi, you all have an equal opportunity to mess up your kids lives.
 
According to traditional Christian belief, a marriage is made up of a man and woman who take certain vows and then are “married” in the eyes of g-d.  Add kids to this formula and supposedly you have a family.  And according to traditional Christian belief this is final and absolute.  There is no other form of marriage, or family.  It is precisely this final and absolute Christian definition of marriage that has been challenged in the last few years. 
 
If you look up the word “family” on the internet you find the following definitions:
 
1.  A social unit living together.
2.  Primary social group, parents and children.
3.  A group of people or animals affiliated by close relationship, affinity or co-residence.
 
But my favorite definition that I found is this, “a group of people held together by bonds of love and affection.”  If you notice, there is one commonality between all of these definitions.  That is no mention of parents having to be a man and woman.  These definitions open up the possibilities for many types of families to exist including families that have two parents of the same sex.  The fact is same-sex couples have as much rights to get married and to be parents as any other people in this world do.  Recently I happen to be flipping the channels and came across a documentary made by Rosie O’Donnell, about the cruise that she and her partner at the time sponsored for families with gay and lesbian parents called “All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise.”  I had heard about this movie and remembered when she was putting this together.  There had been many cruises before this one for gays and lesbians, but never specifically for those with children.  This one was meant to make a statement, a statement about what is a family, a statement about who is acceptable to marry.  I watched this movie and saw something amazing, I saw families.  I saw unbelievable, loving, caring families.  I saw parents who cared and nurtured their children in such a loving way that I wished all parents could be like this to their kids, and who like any other parent should, gave them as much of themselves as they knew how.  I saw parents who respected there children and didn’t shield them from the world but instead kept there eyes wide open so that they could grow and understand, and learn to overcome what ever obstacles may come in there way.  I saw parents, loving wonderful parents who simply wanted the same thing that all of us want, to raise there kids to be the best they can be, and the right to commit to each other without the law saying you can’t.
 
Currently only six states allow same-sex marriages, while thirty-six states have prohibitions on the books banning same-sex marriage.  Yet every state will allow a convicted rapist, murderer, or child molester to get married, and do so while they are still in prison. But for some reason, in the eyes of the law, a same-sex couple has less rights then convicted criminals.  We would not be the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.  Currently it is legal in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, South Africa, and Canada. Where exactly is the argument against same-sex marriage?  In every case the argument is rooted in religion.  The law may not word it in such a way, but ask any one who supports a ban against same-sex marriage and they will refer to the bible as there support and rational.  The problem with this though is simple.  In this country we have laws that separate church and state.  Our laws are not based on the teachings of Jesus, Moses, or Mohammad, or any other religion for that matter.  In addition, we also have laws against discrimination, and to ban same-sex couples from getting married is nothing but that, discrimination.  We have overcome so much in this country.  We forget that at one time women did not have the right to vote.  African Americans had separate schools, drinking fountains, places on the bus.  Buildings were not required to be handicap accessible.  But that has all changed, we have all changed, this country has changed.  Shortly we will see the ban barring gays from openly serving in the military change as well.  And eventually “a group of people held together by bonds of love and affection” will be the only thing that will matter when it comes to marriage. This too will change. 

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Guitars Don’t Kill People, People Kill People

 

With this Fourth of July weekend coming up I think it’s time once again to celebrate the United States continued dominance through out the world, to remind ourselves that we are number one, and to never forget that the American dream lives in all of us!  Not only in this country do we have a constitution that promises us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but also a promise of the right to keep and bear arms, the right to have the highest murder rate, involving guns, of all non-third world, higher income nations, a rate that is five times higher than Canada, and ten to forty-four times higher than other high income countries around the world.  According to the Brady Campaign, “in one year, guns murdered 17 people in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States.”  We’re number one!  Woo Hoo!  We should be so proud of our selves.  To anyone who says, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” I say DUH!  A gun lying on the ground with no one touching it is pretty harmless.  What a stupid argument.  I could say the same thing about a guitar string, but if I pick it up and wrap it around someone’s throat and pull it with all my strength, I could probably chop there head off, except that people actually use guns to kill other people, they rarely use guitar strings! 
 
The fact is this.  There is a direct correlation between the number of guns owned per capita, to the number of deaths by firearm per capita. And guess who is number one on both lists, the United States.  For example, the United Kingdom with only 56 guns per 1000 people had only 39 gun related deaths for the entire year.  Canada with 315 guns per 1000 people had only 200 gun related deaths for the entire year.  But the United States with a staggering 900 guns per 1000 people had 9,484 gun related deaths.  You can make any argument you want but these are the numbers and the numbers tell the story.  Listen, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have guns.  If you hunt, you should have the right to own a gun.  I have no desire to deny those who like to shoot wild game for sport their right to do so.  Guns for sport are completely legitimate, but nobody needs a 9mm Glock, a sawed off shot gun, or a semi-automatic rifle to shoot deer, unless of course the deer learn to shoot back.  Hand guns are made for one reason and one reason only, to kill other people.  No one brings a hand gun duck hunting.  And I’ve heard the argument that if you take away the right for people to own guns, then the only people with guns will be the criminals.  To that I say OK.  Because you see, you have to start somewhere.  Too many people in this country are being killed by guns in relation to the rest of the world.  We’ll get to the criminals next.  The bottom line is this, any firearm that is not considered a hunting class firearm should be illegal for any person in any state to possess with the exception of law enforcement and those in certain security related positions.  And for those who require a firearm for there job, other than law enforcement, they should be required to pass a background check, a psychological evaluation, and have at least a two week waiting period from the time they apply for their firearm to the time they receive it.  In addition, and most importantly, we must pass legislation to close what is known as The Gun Show Loophole.
 
If you are not familiar with the gun show loophole, it is a fatal flaw in our system that in thirty-three states allows any person, regardless of their criminal or mental background, to purchase a gun of any kind from a private seller with no questions asked.  That means a person standing trial for murder could purchase a gun.  A person on the suspected-terrorist list, could purchase a gun.  A person with a documented history of dangerous mental illness could purchase a gun and nothing could stop them and it would all be considered perfectly legal according to our current laws.  There are gun shows every weekend in thirty-three states that allow anyone to walk in and buy as many guns as they can afford to with out even so much as an ID check.  No records are kept of these gun sales, who the guns go to, or where they end up. The fact that this is legal in the United States, a country that has seen so many fatal school shootings, so many senseless gun related murders, is beyond comprehension.  It is unbelievable to me that something that is so easily preventable is not being prevented.  How many more Columbines have to happen for this loop hole to be closed?  The fact is the gun lobby, that spends millions of dollars to keep gun-control legislation from being passed, has blood on there hands.  The NRA who refuses to support simple background checks for those who purchase a gun at a gun show has blood on their hands.  And the fact is criminals don’t have to be purchasing there guns in back alleys or behind closed doors. The private sellers at the thousands of gun shows across the country will be happy to sell to anyone who can breathe anything they want, with no questions asked, as long as they have cash.  The fact that legislation outlawing this practice at gun shows has not been passed is unconscionable.  I’m sure this is exactly what our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote in the second amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  Ooooo, Ahhhh!  Was that a firework or did someone just fire a Glock?  Happy Birthday America.

 

 

 

 

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Problems, You Think You Got Problems? You Got Nothing!

 

 

What’s your problem?  No really, what’s your problem? What’s that one thing that is eating away at you that you just want to get up and scream about at the top of your lungs?  What is pissing you off!?  Think about it for a second because I know there is something.  What is the biggest thing that is going on in your world at this very moment that is just making you insane, the one thing that you just wish you could do something about?  Is it that your kids don’t call you enough?  Is it that one is stoned all of the time or that you think your wife is cheating on you?  Is it that you regret not going to med school and life insurance sales is just not working out for you?  Is it that your friends have a bigger house than you do or that your partner who you thought you could trust has been embezzling from you for the past five years? Maybe you think you need to loose ten pounds, or maybe you’re morbidly obese and can’t figure out why you use food to comfort the pain that your obsessive eating is really all about.   Maybe you think that your problems actually matter!  To be honest I have no idea what your problem is but I’m gonna tell you right now… GET OVER IT!  DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!  STOP FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF AND TAKE CHARGE!  Because the truth is nobody gives a crap about your problem because we all got problems and everyone thinks theirs is more important than yours is.  So do something about it and stop wining about it on Twitter!
 
Let’s put your “problems” in perspective here.  The reality is, your "problems" pale in comparison to what is going on in the world right now!  I mean really, the U.S. just lost in the first elimination round at the World Cup! (Yea, like we really cared.  We don’t even call the sport by its real name.  Unless your native land is somewhere in Europe the last soccer match you watched was between bunches of kids while you sat in a folding chair playing games on your iPhone.  The U.S. has given new meaning to the phrase ‘fair weather fan’) The real truth is none of your problems really matter in comparison and if you think they do pick up a news paper. At this very moment man is destroying the earth. Ok, BP is destroying the earth, but we sure are not helping any with our complete dependence on oil in this country.  We have the technology to run cars on hydrogen but refuse to invest in the infrastructure to make it happen.  You can get almost anywhere in Europe on high speed rail but if we did that here it might just damage our failing auto industry, create thousands of jobs, and g-d forbid reduce our dependence on oil.  And how about bottled water, the biggest scam ever perpetrated on the American people.  Some how the beverage industry convinced us to pay for something that you can get right out of your tap, something that is regulated and tested for drinking safety by the EPA, unlike bottled water. Do you know how many inspectors the FDA employs to inspect bottled water plants?  One, yea that’s right one, so basically none.  In addition it takes 47 million gallons of oil, (you know that stuff leaking into the Gulf,) per year to create the 1.5 million tons of plastic water bottles produced each year that are thrown into landfills and the ocean.  Not to mention all of the oil needed to transport all those bottles of water from the plants to the supermarkets.  And guess where Aquafina and Dasani get there water from?  Queens, NY and Jacksonville, FL tap water!  In effect, the beverage industry is selling snow to Eskimos.  C’mon people, there is an oil spill in the Gulf bigger than Rhode Island and we’re using napkins to clean blades of grass.  To quote a recent Facebook status update by my “Facebook friend” and Second City Alum, David Razowski, “We HAVE to stop calling this a ‘spill’. A ‘spill’ is tiny. This is not a ‘spill’, this is a ‘disaster’.”  The Exxon Valdez was a spill, a huge spill mind you that destroyed countless wildlife, but a spill none the less.  This is disaster on the level of biblical prophecy! BP opened up a f!@*kin portal of doom that has unleashed a demonic poison killing everything in its path and has destroyed the lives and lively hood of millions of Americans from Louisiana to the Florida Keys.  Man, I hope Tony Hayward gets his way of life back soon. So how are your problems looking now?
 
Oh, and then there is Iraq and Afghanistan.  The chief commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, just got caught bad mouthing the President in Rolling Stone Magazine, whereas the President responded with “I’m rubber and you’re glue, what ever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!” Then he fired him.  So now our leadership appears weak, we are in the middle of the longest war in our nation’s history, more soldiers have died in Afghanistan this year alone then in all the other years of the war combined, and Osama Bin Laden is probably drinking Mai Tais at the Fontainebleau in Miami.  Seriously, nobody would even think of looking for him there.  So as Michelle said to Barak while they privately celebrated there win against John McCain on election night, “Mr President, it’s time to pull out!”  While I applaud the President for wanting to finish what his predecessor did not, it’s never gonna happen.  And as for Iraq, (yea Sarah Palin, it’s Iraq with a Q, not Iran, you stupid bimbo!) Cheney’s buddies at Halliburton and Blackwater made their money, George W. made daddy proud by overthrowing Saddam, and we poured billions into rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure, while at home our roads and bridges crumble all around us, our educations system is going bankrupt, and our economy is nearing complete economic collapse once again, and you got problems?
 
Foreclosures are at their highest ever.  More Americans are out of work then any time in our history. Illegal immigrants are running over the border stealing those coveted busboy, car wash attendant, and lawn care jobs that we all want so much, and any terrorist fresh from the Al Qaeda school for hating Americans can walk into a gun show and buy as many semi-automatic rifles as they want.  At least my problems are gone because I have a business idea that is guaranteed to make me rich, pure Artesian Mountain Bottled Air.  Just don’t tell anybody it’s really from Queens, NY.
 
 

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