The Most Important News Story of 2010 - NOT!

 

“We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization” - Franklin D Roosevelt
 
Looking back at 2010, ask yourself what do you think was the single most important news story of this year?  That is exactly what the Associated Press asked 180 of the top U.S. editors and news directors in their annual poll.  Without telling you what I think the single most important news story was of 2010, I will tell you that I believe that all 180 of these editors and news directors got it wrong.  The reason I believe this is because from looking at their answers, what I really believe they answered was, what do you think the most “popular” news story was of 2010, and there is a vast difference between what was the most popular news story and what was the most important news story.  Now don’t get me wrong, all of the stories that were chosen were news worthy stories and deserved the attention that they received.  All of these stories had a vast impact on the world, the environment, and politics.  They kept us interested, engaged us, angered us, and often shocked and sometimes awed us. But I still don’t believe that any of them were the most important.  The winning story of this poll was also the story that lasted the longest, was probably the most disturbing, and coincidently generated the most news readership, the BP Gulf Oil Spill.  I know what you are thinking, what could be more important than the Gulf Oil Spill.  The sheer impact that this disaster has had and will continue to have on the environment, on the people and communities of the gulf coast and on generations to come is immeasurable.  And the way that it was handled by both the government and by BP is inexcusable.  This is clearly a disaster that since it happened once will certainly happen again.  It is important, but never the less it is far from the most important story.  It sold the most news papers, generated the most ad revenue, but it was not the most important. Some of the other stories that made the cut were:
 

  • The Health Care Insurance overhaul - with legislation that paved the way for millions more Americans to have insurance coverage, the end to pre-existing conditions, extension of coverage for minors, extended drug  benefits, but without the inclusion of a public option, in my opinion, did not go far enough.
  • The Elections in November - Where the Republicans took the house and gained seats in the Senate.
  • The Economy - with unemployment staying above 9%, foreclosures on the rise, home prices down, even though consumers were spending more.
  • The Earthquake in Haiti - Human devastation and a corrupt government.
  • The Tea Party movement – Oh PLEASE, don’t get me started.
  • The Mine Rescue in Chile – It was incredible, emotional and great TV.
  • Iraq - The ending of formal combat operations, but when isn’t Iraq a top news story?
  • WikiLeaks – Hero or demon?  I guess that’s a matter of perspective.
  • Afghanistan – Again, when isn’t this a top news story.  Each day it’s something different.


Each one of these stories that made the cut were all important, incredible, headline making news stories and deserve to be on this list, but the one story that is missing, and that while it might not have made the most headlines and sold the most newspapers, is far more significant than any of the stories mentioned. And that is because this story isn’t just about a disaster or an election, a rescue or the economy.  This story is about the rights of people.  This story is about a monumental leap in human decency.  This is a story about correcting a wrong that regardless of politics or religion, was finally made right and brings our nation one step closer to ending legalized discrimination everywhere in this country. The story that is missing and should have been number one on that list is the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell from our U.S. Military. 
 
If you’re not homosexual or not in the military don’t be so quick to think that this story doesn’t apply to you because it does.  While this particular chapter of the history of civil rights in this county is focused on homosexuals, this is only the most recent chapter of the battle for equality for all people living in this country.  Discrimination in America has affected African-Americans, Jews, Mexicans, Japanese , women, the handicapped, as well as homosexuals.  This battle while currently focused on the wrongs being perpetrated against homosexuals is part of a long process of eradicating legalized discrimination against Americans from all walks of life.  At one time African-Americans were legally separated from “white” Americans in our schools, at our drinking fountains, on the bus, and even in the voting booth.  At one time women were restricted from voting because the law said that to vote you must own land, and most women did not.   It was just two years ago that President Obama signed in to law the Lilly-Ledbetter Act that guaranteed woman equal pay in the work place.  At one time it was legal for the handicapped to be denied entry in to buildings and even employment due to the barriers of curbs and stairs.  At one time it was legal for Jews to be denied employment or membership in certain clubs for no other reason than they were Jews.  At one time Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps for no other reason than they were of Japanese descent.  And at one time openly gay individuals were denied entry into our armed forces simply because of their sexual orientation and were forced to pretend they were straight or face a military court marshal and dishonorable discharge, not unlike my wife’s grandmother who in world war two was forced to pretend she was Christian or face death at the hands of the Nazis.  All of these injustices were once legal.  While this story made the news for a day or two, it was not seen as meaningful of a story because today homosexuality is much more accepted then it was in the past.  We see gays and lesbians on television all the time. It is no longer shocking to see people of the same sex kiss each other in sitcoms, dramas or movies.  We have openly gay talk show hosts, politicians, and news commentators. And I believe that most of us expected DADT to eventually be overturned, but expecting it to be and it actually happening are two different things.
 
To help place things in perspective we need to realize exactly where we have come from on the issues related to the discrimination against homosexuals in America.  As recent as 2003, nine states had laws on the books that made sodomy illegal, not only for homosexuals, but for anyone.  That’s right, if a two people of the same or opposite sex wanted to have anal intercourse, in the privacy of their own home, it was against the law. Four additional states specifically directed those laws towards homosexuals. Exactly how they planned on enforcing those laws I am not really sure.  Currently there are fifteen states that do not have any hate crime laws that include crimes involving sexual orientation or gender identity and there are five states that have no hate crime laws at all. As early as 2003 President Bush stated in a press conference that he was for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. In 2004 a Kansas court ruled that homosexuals having sex with a minor could receive harsher sentences than heterosexuals committing the same crime.  These laws exist. These attitudes exist, and they are wrong.  No one is ever going to be able to stop individuals from discriminating, or stop religious groups from thinking that homosexuality is a sickness that they can cure, because the real disease is ignorance.  Ignorance, unlike homosexuality is learned and the cure comes from education, from exposure and from our government and its leaders sending the message that legally these discriminatory practices will not be tolerated.  It was Martin Luther King Jr. who once said, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.”
 
The late Senator Edward Kennedy said during his speech at the funeral for his brother Robert:

 
“There is discrimination in this world and slavery and slaughter and starvation. Governments repress their people; millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich and wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere. These are differing evils, but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfection of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, our lack of sensibility towards the suffering of our fellows. But we can perhaps remember -- even if only for a time -- that those who live with us are our brothers; that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek -- as we do -- nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.”
 
And to that I say, Amen.

 

 

 

 


Red Carpets, Champagne, and No Worries!

 

There are few times in this life when we can share a singular commonality, a shared experience, an extraordinary moment, that in ways that you never expect, fills you with awe, joins you together and humbles you and all around you.  Only a small number of events have occurred in my life that have given me this feeling. Watching an African-American being sworn in as president, something that I thought I would never see in my lifetime, seeing the U.S hockey team defeat the Russians in the 1980 Olympics, watching our country come together as one after the tragedy of 9/11, all of these things collectively filled us with a feeling that extraordinary things are possible.  An experience that goes way beyond the generous gift I was given, way beyond the sights and sound that we all were fortunate enough to share, way beyond anything I could ever imagine, has taught me lessons that will stay with me for the rest of my life.  I was with 301 individuals who were handpicked by the queen of daytime talk herself, Oprah Winfrey, to receive the trip of a life time to Australia.  My wife and I were lucky enough to be In the studio audience for her 25th season premier and while that experience of being in that audience and seeing the collective explosion of emotions, people hugging, and women crying, was amazing in its own right, it is nothing compared to the collective experiences and emotions that we all came to experience while actually being in the country of Australia not just as guests of Harpo, but as guests of this amazing country.  The one word that I have heard over and over by the people on this trip in regards to the way we have been treated and the things we have done, is Humbling, humbling because we are all just ordinary people.  We are all mothers and fathers, teachers and students, business owners and workers.  But somehow we all were given this gift, and when you talk to people in this group you start to realize why each person was chosen for this adventure.  Each person has a different story that makes them stand out, that makes them one of one hundred and fifty one who were picked to come and each bring someone special.  Then when you hear why that person they brought is their someone special you start to understand that good things really do happen to good people.  We all knew that this trip was going to be something special.  We all knew that even if we could afford to come to Australia ourselves we would never be able to experience it on the level that we would on this trip.  But what we never expected was how we would be treated as true guests of not just Oprah, but of the land down under.  These ordinary people whose only dream was to get tickets to just one Oprah show before her show ends this season, became instant celebrities.  They had been greeted by press and paparazzi, had the literal Red Carpet rolled out upon arrival to the hotel, only to be greeted with more press and paparazzi, appeared on the front page of papers, featured on news channels all over he world, had dinners hosted on the scale that would rival international celebrities and heads of state, and that was just in the first day. Collectively we experienced a country that was so grateful to have us and so thrilled to share with us there culture, and we are the ones who should be grateful, and we are.  We are grateful for this experience, grateful to have been picked, and that is why we are humbled, because we should be grateful to them.  We are all just ordinary people being treated extraordinary.  We are humbled, collectively humbled.  

We were given a gift but the gift we were given goes way beyond the obvious of the things we received and the places we went.  The gift was the message that Oprah herself expressed to us numerous time while on this odyssey, that great things can happen to all of us, that miracles can happen, that we did not make it to Australia by accident, that we were all picked for a reason, that there is a divine power that brought this together, that if a little girl who could never find her name on a pen or a plate could one day see an entire regatta of twenty one sail boats with her name as big as life flying from each of the sails, sailing under Sydney Harbor Bridge with a giant O lighted up for the world to see, then it is possible for each one of us to achieve whatever it is that we can dream.   

It’s not every day that these ordinary people are greeted on white sand beaches, only accessible by boat, by celebrity chef Curtis Stone, fed unbelievable food and given free drinks while being serenaded by Australian singing groups, as Oprah herself flies in on Helicopter to join us all for the party.  It’s not every day that we are taken to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world to snorkel with Gayle King.  It’s not every day the these ordinary people are interviewed by press and appear in papers or walk red carpets usually reserved for celebrities, get stopped on the street and have people excited to see us just because it’s us, dine with celebrities and treated with such kindness and hospitality that you start to wonder why.   If I take back with me anything from this adventure it is that we don’t need red carpets and champagne to make us feel that we are extraordinary because it is not about what we receive it is about what we give.  It is not about where we work or how much we make, it is about how we live, not living to work, but working to live.  It is about our family, our friends and knowing that, in the words of Paul McCartney,” the love you take is equal to the love you make.”   And in the words of Miss O, “everything is better when you share it with others.”  This trip, this experience, this moment, is one that I will never forget and not because of where I went or what I did, but because of who it was shared with, the collective experience, the extraordinary moments that filled us with awe and changed us forever.  Thank you to my 300 new friends. Thank you Oprah. Thank you Australia. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


At Least WikiLeaks Didn't Find Any Bestiality

 

In 2001, a network administrator who I worked with at one of the largest, most prestigious law firms in the United States, and whose headquarters was located in Chicago decided to do a search of all of the employee folders on one of the main servers where each employee saved their “personal” files, for any file that ended in JPG, MOV, or AVI, or in other words, any photo or video files.  He was not looking for anything in particular, but instead just to see what types of things the partners and associates at this firm were looking at.  Like almost every employee in that I.T. department he had full access to every file, every piece of information, no matter how mundane or sensitive that information was to the person or the firm.  Major case files, major pieces of discovery, major evidence that could easily be copied on to a DVD and passed along to the opposing council, were all available to every person in that I.T. Department, completely unrestricted in any way.  The only thing stopping anyone in that department from stealing any data they wanted to and passing it along to anyone they wanted to was the confidentiality agreement each employee signed, and a certain level of blind trust, not any real network security or restrictions to data, just trust.  What was most interesting about what that network administrator found that day, when he searched for every photo or video file that was in the home folders of some of the highest paid partners and associates at this firm, was not the amount of sensitive legal evidence that could have been stolen and passed to council or the press, yes that was there, but instead the amount of pornography, racist or offensive “humor”, or even illegal materials that could ruin the careers of any one of those lawyers.  And it wasn’t just a handful of photos and videos that were found, it was thousands.  One attorney’s folder actually contained a video of a woman having intercourse with a horse.  This law firm was lucky.  Nothing was ever done with what was found, no one was turned in for having inappropriate materials, although they could have and probably should have, and the I.T. Department had a good laugh at the attorney’s expense, which I’m sure is some kind of HR violation right there.  The files that were found were all copied for safe keeping and deleted from the attorney’s folders with certain confidence that no one would be coming to us to complain, “Where is my video of a woman screwing a horse?!”  And even if that video was evidence in a case, it was not the proper place for evidence to be stored.
 
If you think I am trying to make some point here about what is appropriate or not appropriate to save  on your work computer, or any type of commentary on the morality of attorneys, then you are wrong.  Personally, having worked in Information Technology, I always find it amazing the types of things I find on the computers that people use for work. A work computer is the property of the company you work for and so is everything on it, so keep that in mind next time you are thinking about checking out barelylegal.com on your company laptop.  The point I am making here is simple.  What just happened to the U.S. Government with the release of tens of thousands of documents, that supposedly were considered secure but instead were easily obtainable by anyone of the 600,000 persons with security clearance to those electronic network based files, was a WikiLeaks accident just waiting to happen, and if you think the data at your own company is secure for even just one heartbeat, you are wrong.  The data at your own company not only can be stolen but I will go so far to say, to some degree, it has been.  Keep in mind, the U.S. government was not hacked into by international foreign spies, or by operatives working for Al Qeada.  The information obtained, stolen, and given to WikiLeaks was done so by a U.S. soldier working internally inside the I.T. structure of the supposedly secure computer network of the U.S. military and government.  The files leaked to the world were simply copied off a server and on to one or more DVD disks, and no one knew about it until it became international news, and a nightmare not just for the Obama administration but also governments and individuals around the world.   The biggest threat to any organization whether private or public is not external threats but internal ones.  Employees today have far too much access to the information stored on company networks and any person who has worked in any I.T. department for any decent amount of time will tell you that the WikiLeaks indecent doesn’t surprise them at all, in fact they will tell you that they are surprised it didn’t happen sooner. With USB flash drives available up to 64 gigabytes a person could easily walk out of a company with millions of confidential and damaging documents without ever being noticed.  And to complicate things further, the trend towards outsourcing the administration of company servers and data farms to third party firms that have no vested interest in the data they are administering is like handing the keys to your house to a group of strangers and hoping they don’t steal your jewelry.  According to Perimeter E-Security, a security firm based in Milford, CT,  who each year publishes their list of the Top 10 Threats to Information Security, “Malicious Insiders” are the number two threat for 2010, only to be beaten by “Malware”, and falling from the number one spot last year.  According to this report:
  

“Malicious insiders were listed as the #1 threat for 2009 and were listed as a rising threat. According to a survey released in October of 2009 by Actimize and reported by DarkReading, nearly 80% of financial institutions worldwide say the insider threat problem has increased in the wake of the economic downturn. 70% of financial institutions reported incidents of insider fraud in the last 10 months. Nearly half of the banks in the Actimize survey say they are losing 1 to 4 percent of their total revenues to insider fraud.”
 
This report also cites a number of specific incidents including:
 

  • The University Medical Center in Las Vegas learned that an employee allegedly leaked confidential patient data including Social Security numbers, billing data, and full descriptions of injuries and it has been reported that the information was sold.
  • A T-Mobile employee stole customer records and sold them to a data broker who in turn sold the data to T-Mobile competitors. It included millions of records that contained valuable information such as account expiration date so competitors could target those customers at the time they may look for a new provider.
  • Former Bank of New York Mellon employee Adeniyi Adeyemi was indicted on identity theft charges. He was charged with grand larceny, identity theft, and money laundering after stealing and using New York Mellon employee information. He opened phony bank and brokerage accounts where he deposited stolen money.

 
It would be very easy for all of us to focus on the person or persons who reportedly stole this information, or the founder of WikiLeaks who made the choice to publish this information for the world to see but the reality is, it is the government who opened up their networks to far too many individuals and made it far too easy for this information to get out.  Should we be surprised that there were secret deals made behind closed doors, or that the CIA is involved in things that could be considered illegal or even immoral, or that foreign leaders presented their views to the public in one way but communicated entirely different messages in “private”?  There is an old saying that goes, “ignorance is bliss.” Quite frankly I depend on the fact that we don’t know everything that goes on behind the scenes nor should we.  International politics is a dirty, stinky world and it is these behind closed doors where private deals and conversations make politics function.  The problem is that to get us to the places that we need to be, whether it is a peace in the middle east or nuclear disarmament, trade agreements or the search for terrorists, it is counterproductive for us to know the details of every e-mail and covert operations that is happening around the world.  All that we really need to know is that peace was made, deals were formed, hostages were released, and our troops came home.  How it all happens is something that we are better off not knowing because if we did, much of what is now history may not have happened. The individuals who are responsible for leaking this information should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if for no other reason than they broke the law, but they are merely a symptom of a larger problem that effects governments and private organizations around the world and that is the security of our internal networks and who is given keys to the kingdom.  Without serious action taken in both the private and public sectors “Malicious Insiders” will continue to be one of the top two threats to network security and this will not be the last we will hear from WikiLeaks.

 

 

 


A Republican Guide to Handing the President His Ass

 

So, how do I put this tactfully? Awe forget it, there is no way to put this tactfully.  Obama got his ass handed to him on a silver platter Tuesday.  At his news conference the next day he looked like a wet puppy dog standing in the rain that just got struck by lightning.  The correspondent from Fox News looked happier then Glenn Beck does after he pleasures himself to a photo of Sarah Palin.  The Republicans, the Tea Party, Fox News, they did it, so go ahead guys gloat, no really it’s ok, I understand.  After all you did get your asses handed to you two years ago and we did plenty of gloating at that time, so go ahead, I’ll wait………Are you done? Good, now shut the fuck up because here’s the deal.  You didn’t win.  I know what you are saying to yourself.  “What, are you on crack Brian?  We won the house.  Nancy Pelosi is out, we run things now.  The people spoke and the people told Obama NO!  This was a direct repudiation of Obama’s reckless policies!  We are taking this country back!  How’s that hopey changy thing working for you now!? Palin for President, Palin for President! WE WON!”  Let me say this again, You…didn’t…win.  Oh sure, you took the house, but you didn’t win.
 
One of my favorite shows is The Apprentice.  Inevitably on each season there are one or two people who do nothing but complain.  They are no help to the team, and think they know everything and week after week they skate by while someone else takes the fall.  Then comes the week when it’s their turn to step up to the plate and be project manager, and prove that they know better than everyone else, and prove that they are not all talk, and nine out of ten times, when the task is over, when the talking is finished, when they get to the board room, they lose, and The Donald says to them those two words that no one in that board room ever wants to hear, “You’re Fired.”  You see, while it may seem like the Republicans won, what happened on Tuesday was actually the best of scenarios for President Obama and the Democrats because now the Republicans have power.  And the Republican and Tea Party candidates who got elected, who vowed to take back this country can no longer simply blame President Obama and the Democrats for the issues that face this country.  The Republicans can no longer just sit back and say “no” to every initiative that the President tries to push through.  It’s easy to let the President take the fall for all of the issues facing our nation when you have no power to do anything about it, but now the Republicans have the power and with power comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes accountability. 
 
The reality is that the Republicans took the elections that they did, in the numbers that they did, not because “the people rejected the failed policies of Obama”, but instead for a number of reason, the first being that President Obama overestimated the American public’s  ability to wait for change.  Obama, like every presidential candidate has done, promised change on a scale that was epic in proportion.  The people expected Obama to swoop in like super hero, create jobs out of thin air, and magically turn around the economy.  But what the President neglected to tell everyone was that it just does not happen in less than two years.  To turn around an economy and restore the amount of jobs that were lost during the Bush era takes time.  After Obama got done fighting to become president he thought all he had to do now was govern and the people would wait for the results.  He was wrong.  What he did not expect was the amount of continued fight and venomous opposition he would receive from those on the other side. He did not expect a Republican party that would do anything it could to stop every initiative that the Democrats put through.  He did not expect a Republican party that would refuse to find any middle ground with the Democrats on any issue.  He did not expect A Tea Party movement funded by billionaires and corporations that spread lies about health care reform.  He did not expect town hall meetings that were drowned out by republican protesters who were instructed on exactly what to say to make those meetings as unproductive as possible.   He did not expect a major “News” organization to actively participate in and broadcast in their entirety “Tea Party” rallies.  He did not expect ongoing campaigns designed to discredit everything from his religion to his citizenship, but this is what he got and more.  The mistake the President made was not beating them at their own game. It became clear early on that the Republicans, the Tea Partiers and Fox News were not going to do what has traditionally happened in the past and accept who ever won the election as their leader and give that person their full support. 
 
The president neglected to realize that the campaign was not over, the fight was just beginning and he needed to be just as vocal if not more vocal then his opposition was.  To put it simply, the Republicans yelled louder, while the President didn’t yell at all, and by the time he started, it was already too late.  It didn’t seem to matter that the middle class received the largest tax break in decades. It didn’t seem to matter that the Stimulus Package prevented our country from slipping further into a depression.  It didn’t seem to matter that 30 million more people who could not get health insurance in the past now could, or that no one could be denied health insurance for pre-existing conditions. It did not seem to matter that preventive medicine is now free, or that there is no longer a co-pay on birth control. It did not seem to matter that women are now guaranteed equal pay in the workplace, or that the balance on student loans will be erased after twenty years of on time payments.  It did not seem to matter that millions of jobs were saved by keeping GM and Chrysler in business, or that the ban on stem cell research was over turned.  It didn’t seem to matter that the President Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs with more than $1.4 billion to improve services to America's Veterans, or that he Signed the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which provides health care 4 million children who were previously uninsured, or that he banned the Bush Administration’s approved use of torture as a method of interrogation by our armed forces, or that he established the Credit Card Bill of Rights, preventing  credit card companies from imposing arbitrary rate increases on customers, or that he increased funding for the Violence Against Women Act, or that he expanded hate crime law in the US to include sexual orientation through the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, or that he signed a financial reform law establishing a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to look out for the interests of everyday Americans, or that he cut prescription drug cost for medicare recipients by 50%, or that he appointed more openly gay officials than any other president in US history!  I just did not seem to matter!  But why?  Because President Obama did all of these great things and more in less than two years, but didn’t tell anyone.
 
You didn’t win.  You didn’t win because blaming the President is now over, the Republicans are now responsible and unless jobs are created and our economy improves they will be accountable as well. You didn’t win because by lying about everything from the President’s religion to his proposed “Death Panels” you disrespected the American people and did them a disservice.  You didn’t win because if President Obama is prevented from passing even one piece of ground breaking legislation even remotely similar to the type of legislation he was able to get passed in less than two years, then all of us will have lost.  I’m sorry, but you didn’t win.

 

 

 


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

 

Share

 

 


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.

 

Share

 

 


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?

Share


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.

Share


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.

 

Share


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:

 

Share

 


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.

 

Share


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.

 

Share


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.
   
 

Share