How I voted, and why

For the first time in my life, I voted straight down the Democrat line. I voted Obama, I voted Waterworth, I voted Sullivan, and in Illinois State Representative District 93, where no Democrat was running, I did not vote for Republican Norine Hammond.

First, I want to make something clear: There are Republican Candidates that I like. I like Bobby Schilling’s attitude that congressmen shouldn’t get special treatment when it comes to pension plans. I like Randy Frese’s position on transparency and term limits.

The big elephant in the room, of course, is Mitt Romney. I like Mitt Romney. I don’t think he would be a terrible president. I think he’s an experienced and capable leader. I think he’s honest, if wavering, and of course I appreciate his faith (we do share a religious belief).

But in the end, my decision not to vote for these men comes down to their party affiliation, and here’s why:

First, the last few years have seen incredible Republican Obstructionism. Mitch McConell, the Senate Minority Leader, summed it up when he said “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” That’s just astounding! His single biggest priority is not keeping America safe from terrorists, or helping to revive a struggling economy, or improving American education to make our children more competitive in the world marketplace. No, his single priority is to shut down anything and everything that might make Obama look good.

And the Republicans have followed suit. They have refused to compromise. The have refused to negotiate. In fact, many economists and professional political pundits now blame the lackluster economic growth of the last few years not on poor policy from the executive branch, but on willful, intentional opposition to measures (including some that they supported until the President did also) that would help the economy by a Republican party whose top priority is simply to not let Obama have his way.

So, my conclusion is this: To vote for a Republican is to reward and encourage this tantrum-throwing behavior, and I refuse to do so.

Second, for some reason, the abortion issue has reared its head more than usual in this election season.

Now on this topic, first thing’s first: I believe that abortion for the sake of convenience is wrong. I believe it is immoral and frankly, a sin in the sight of God. However, I believe that in cases of rape, incest, or when continuing a pregnancy is likely to result in the death of the mother, abortion is an acceptable choice, with that decision to be made by the parent(s) in conjunction with medical professionals and according to their faith and conscience. This is why I think abortion should remain legal, despite the terrible consequences of its misuse.

But this isn’t about wanting abortion to be legal. It’s about what’s going on in the Republican party. When Todd Akin made his idiotic comments about “legitimate rape,” he became the recipient of considerable backlash from Republican officials. Here’s the problem: The backlash was all comments about how he made the party look bad. How such comments can cost Republicans votes. How he should drop out of the race. Where were the comments about how he was WRONG? The suggestions that he actually learn how the human reproductive system works?

Republican backlash against Todd Akin wasn’t about him being unfit to serve because he was an idiot, it was about how saying such things in public is politically unsound. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that most Republicans actually share his view, but are smart enough not to say it in public!

Beyond Todd Akin, there was another recent comment by Republican Richard Mourdock about pregnancy from rape being “something God intended.” I won’t repeat the same arguments as above, but I want to make my position abundantly clear:

If you oppose abortion in the case of rape, then you believe that a man who rapes a woman should have more power over that woman’s body than she does.

I have come to the conclusion that the Republican party as a whole has shown in the last few years that they are unfit to lead, unfit to legislate, and unfit to make appropriate choices for this country. Like a tantrum-throwing toddler, the entire Republican party needs to be sent to the corner to think about what they’ve done and learn to make smarter and more appropriate choices.

And that’s why I voted.

An old college paper has new relevance

I, by nature, am a procrastinator, and chronically late.  As part of an often-frivolous attempt to remedy this, the clock in my family room runs five minutes fast.  On Wednesday, February 26, the clock’s impatient hands struck 5:30, and found me seated in front of my television, miraculously five minutes early for the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather.  I suffered through the last 5 minutes of yet another asinine production aimed towards the degradation of American minds, and waited for a 30-minute synopsis of the most important events in the world.
As the syncopated cacophony of the trademark xylophone sounded through the television speakers, a faceless voice announced again that the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather was about to begin.  A few previews were shown, tantalizing the morbid part of me that yearns to know exactly how the United States will trounce Iraq, or how a 10-Billion dollar supersonic glider simply melted 36 miles above the earth.
Setting my humanity aside, I settled in for my half hour of “important things.”
I continued this pattern at 5:30 each day for a week, though I tried to forgo the five-minute prelude of tastelessness that I experienced that Wednesday.  The stories each day were the same: First was the latest non-news about the non-war in Iraq.  The first day, we learned the monumentous news that Iraq was positioning its troops in preparation for a possible invasion.  The highlight of this sadistic enterprise was a portion of Dan Rather’s interview with Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s internationally embattled dictator.  He was quoted as saying “No one destroys his own [oil] wells or dams,” and when asked if he would consider exile, he replied, “I will live in Iraq and die in Iraq, as decided by God almighty.”  France called the war that hasn’t happened yet “precipitous,” while another story described how the United States would control Iraq after winning the war.  By The following Monday, the last time I watched the news on television, the news had changed little.  Again, it was reported that Iraq was moving its forces into strategic defensive positions, and Hussein was being only marginally cooperative with outsiders. France called the war that still hasn’t happened yet “premature.”  A later segment described how the United States might handle the situation should troops have to invade Baghdad herself.
Other segments not advertised as “top stories” included some startling revelations: Credit Card fraud is real, and bad. Had NASA known that Columbia was in trouble before attempting to land, they may have been able to do something about it. Icy roads can cause car accidents, and caused 11 fatal ones in New York. An arsonist burned Connecticut nursing home to the ground, killing 10 patients.  Security at the country’s most secret laboratory is faulty.  Zoo animals are dying in Washington D.C.  Consumer spending is down, and the economy is getting worse.
The reader will have to forgive my cynicism.  With all of this bad news being thrown rapid-fire in my face, with the accompanying images and graphics to drive “the story” deeper into my soul, it’s a wonder I’ve kept the will to live.  Pessimism runs rampant through the news media, especially on television.  We can’t blame the journalists though; it’s not their fault.  They are whores to the statisticians at Nielsen, willing to do anything, include meet with Saddam Hussein or drive down the same icy highway that killed eleven other human beings, because people will watch.  Tucked in between these glamorous tragedies, there is humanity.  One story, and perhaps the one that has stuck with me the most, was of a young couple who are both in the army, stationed 45 miles apart in Kuwait, while their son celebrates his second birthday a hemisphere and 12 time zones away in the Midwestern United States.  Even the “humanity” is found in the midst of the war and international aggression.  Perhaps it’s not so humane after all.
I am bitter.  I realize now why I gave up on regular television news programs.  They bring out the worst in me, by showing me the worst in the world around me.  Somewhere, we became infatuated with things that are terrible.  Perhaps they make us feel better about our own lives.  Or perhaps they feed the paranoia that we experience as a result of our own deviance.  After all, with all of those people killing each other and threatening to remove each other from their positions of power, my own preternatural behaviors don’t seem quite so wicked.
Thursday morning, I secured a copy of the Chicago Tribune, almost afraid to find the same twaddle that had wasted half an hour of my life the night before.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a degree of objectivity, and a sense of humanity, even in the more pessimistic stories of the front page.  This particular paper’s main story was about an exposed scandal involving guards beating prisoners at a Chicago jail.  While depressing, the article told the story from the points of view of both prisoners and guards, and offered enough facts that I was able to form my opinion about what I read, whereas the television was determined to keep the facts from me and tell me what my opinion was.   Other stories on the front page were about a new, uplifting design for New York’s World Trade Center, and the Supreme Court’s protection of certain rights of abortion protesters.  The next day, the jail beatings ran as the chief headline again, but what attracted my attention was a feature-length story on the life of Fred Rogers, an American Icon known for his optimism and, as one writer put it, “[daring] to be calm.”  Humanity may yet have a voice!
While the Chicago Tribune’s selection of stories was much more balanced, the writing was still on the misanthropic side.  Writers were skeptical about the possibility of democracy in Iraq, wondering in print if the Iraqi people just might hate America more than they hate Hussein.  In a slant untouched by the television broadcast, the monetary cost of an invasion, occupation, and rebuilding of Iraq was discussed.  Numbers in excess of $100Billion were printed, and a reporter wondered where the money would come from, when the national budget is already overdrawn, and the economy back home is failing.  I get the impression that the Tribune, perhaps echoing the feelings of most Americans, would rather America stay home and solve her own problems, rather than go and solve the problems of a nation that would rather not have our “help.”
Reading the Tribune, I found that the same stories from the television broadcast the night before were covered, but with much more detail.  The cynicism seemed intact, but there was balance.  There seemed to be just as much “good news,” as bad.  In the first section of the newspaper, where the most important things are usually printed, there was equal time given to the prison beatings, and the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, a feel-good symbol of America’s resilience and determination to go on after tragedy.
As the week went on, I felt again and again that the television was trying to beat the independence out of me, forcing its opinions on me as if they were my own, all so subtly that I hardly realized it was happening.  The newspaper seemed intent on expressing its opinion, but it also calmly acknowledged that I was allowed to have my own opinion too.  It even went so far as to provide facts that may counter its own opinion, to assist me in forming mine.  This was a pleasant change from what I saw on television.
Because I’m chronically late, I tend to watch the clock with an obsessive eye.  One fact that can’t be denied is that reading the newspaper takes longer than watching the evening news.  This may be the major difference between the two mediums.  In an attempt to present the bare facts, the television news can lose sight of what is actually important.  When I sat down to watch 30 minutes of “important things,” I often wondered just how important this information was to me.  The newspaper, on the other hand, does not constrain my time.  I can read as little or as much as I like.  Because my priorities are different than those of the television producers, I find myself wanting information that they do not provide, and not wanting some of the information that they do offer.  The newspaper allows me to read at my pace, and absorb only the information that I decide is important.  The television never offered the right amount of information; there was either too much, or too little.  The newspaper seemed determined to err on the side of “too much,” and because I was reading, and could reread what I read (I did not record the evening news to take advantage of my “rewind” button), until I was satisfied, and then go on.  I never felt overwhelmed, or underwhelmed, by the newspaper, and when I was done reading, felt that I was a better person, or at least a better informed person, for having done so.  Television made me feel like a deviant and an antipatriot, because I did not agree with its opinions.
A standout among newspapers is USA Today.  I enjoyed the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times because their localized nature made them attractive as people-oriented publications; they often focused on how national and global issues affect individuals and groups within their respective areas.  USA Today, however, is a national paper, with a refreshingly optimistic sentiment.  It was mostly objective, focusing on national issues, and a “just the facts” attitude.  It would seem that when we simply look at the facts, the world doesn’t seem to be quite as troubled as CBS would have us believe.  It comes as a great surprise that Gannett’s USA Today is the most circulated newspaper in the country, according to a study by GlobalFor Media Services.  Its refreshing optimism and objectivity stands in dire contrast to the pessimism and forced-opinion reporting of the most popular television news programs.
The media is a whore.  She goes wherever the clients are, and does whatever they want.  Demographics are a fascinating science.  Why would the television cater to those who want fewer facts, less humanity, and more carnage, while newspapers strive to be complete, objective, and some even a bit optimistic?  I don’t know the answer to this question, but I know what I want.  I want facts, and I want lots of them.  I want to be able to form my own opinion, and discuss it with other people who also form their own opinions from the same facts.  I want to know what’s good about my country and my race, as well as what’s bad.  I believe that humanity is inherently good, and mankind carries the seeds of something greater than we can realize.  I want to see that face of humanity more than the evil of it.  I want objectivity, not sensationalism.  I want information, not streams of images moving too fast for me to comprehend.  Thanks to the Tribune, I realize what it is that I want.  I want Mr. Rogers.  I want media that’s not afraid to discuss the issues, but discusses them openly, optimistically, and without feeling the need to cater to those who have the attention span of a goldfish.  I want a medium that will, like Mr. Rogers, “dare to be calm.”

The following is a paper that I wrote for a political science class in February 2003. The assignment was to watch, read, or otherwise experience two very different forms of media, and compare and contrast them. I’ve decided to post this here today because this paper discusses the late Mr. Rogers, a children’s television host. Recently, a piece on Fox news discussed how Mr. Rogers was “evil” (yes, they actually used the E-word) for insisting that every child is “special,” even if they “didn’t deserve it.” Here’s my response, written 7 years ago:

Is the Media Cynical, or is it Just Me?

By Jacob Thurman

I, by nature, am a procrastinator, and chronically late.  As part of an often-frivolous attempt to remedy this, the clock in my family room runs five minutes fast.  On Wednesday, February 26, the clock’s impatient hands struck 5:30, and found me seated in front of my television, miraculously five minutes early for the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather.  I suffered through the last 5 minutes of yet another asinine production aimed towards the degradation of American minds, and waited for a 30-minute synopsis of the most important events in the world.

As the syncopated cacophony of the trademark xylophone sounded through the television speakers, a faceless voice announced again that the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather was about to begin.  A few previews were shown, tantalizing the morbid part of me that yearns to know exactly how the United States will trounce Iraq, or how a 10-Billion dollar supersonic glider simply melted 36 miles above the earth.

Setting my humanity aside, I settled in for my half hour of “important things.”

I continued this pattern at 5:30 each day for a week, though I tried to forgo the five-minute prelude of tastelessness that I experienced that Wednesday.  The stories each day were the same: First was the latest non-news about the non-war in Iraq.  The first day, we learned the monumentous news that Iraq was positioning its troops in preparation for a possible invasion.  The highlight of this sadistic enterprise was a portion of Dan Rather’s interview with Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s internationally embattled dictator.  He was quoted as saying “No one destroys his own [oil] wells or dams,” and when asked if he would consider exile, he replied, “I will live in Iraq and die in Iraq, as decided by God almighty.”  France called the war that hasn’t happened yet “precipitous,” while another story described how the United States would control Iraq after winning the war.  By The following Monday, the last time I watched the news on television, the news had changed little.  Again, it was reported that Iraq was moving its forces into strategic defensive positions, and Hussein was being only marginally cooperative with outsiders. France called the war that still hasn’t happened yet “premature.”  A later segment described how the United States might handle the situation should troops have to invade Baghdad herself.

Other segments not advertised as “top stories” included some startling revelations: Credit Card fraud is real, and bad. Had NASA known that Columbia was in trouble before attempting to land, they may have been able to do something about it. Icy roads can cause car accidents, and caused 11 fatal ones in New York. An arsonist burned Connecticut nursing home to the ground, killing 10 patients.  Security at the country’s most secret laboratory is faulty.  Zoo animals are dying in Washington D.C.  Consumer spending is down, and the economy is getting worse.

The reader will have to forgive my cynicism.  With all of this bad news being thrown rapid-fire in my face, with the accompanying images and graphics to drive “the story” deeper into my soul, it’s a wonder I’ve kept the will to live.  Pessimism runs rampant through the news media, especially on television.  We can’t blame the journalists though; it’s not their fault.  They are whores to the statisticians at Nielsen, willing to do anything, include meet with Saddam Hussein or drive down the same icy highway that killed eleven other human beings, because people will watch.  Tucked in between these glamorous tragedies, there is humanity.  One story, and perhaps the one that has stuck with me the most, was of a young couple who are both in the army, stationed 45 miles apart in Kuwait, while their son celebrates his second birthday a hemisphere and 12 time zones away in the Midwestern United States.  Even the “humanity” is found in the midst of the war and international aggression.  Perhaps it’s not so humane after all.

I am bitter.  I realize now why I gave up on regular television news programs.  They bring out the worst in me, by showing me the worst in the world around me.  Somewhere, we became infatuated with things that are terrible.  Perhaps they make us feel better about our own lives.  Or perhaps they feed the paranoia that we experience as a result of our own deviance.  After all, with all of those people killing each other and threatening to remove each other from their positions of power, my own preternatural behaviors don’t seem quite so wicked.

Thursday morning, I secured a copy of the Chicago Tribune, almost afraid to find the same twaddle that had wasted half an hour of my life the night before.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a degree of objectivity, and a sense of humanity, even in the more pessimistic stories of the front page.  This particular paper’s main story was about an exposed scandal involving guards beating prisoners at a Chicago jail.  While depressing, the article told the story from the points of view of both prisoners and guards, and offered enough facts that I was able to form my opinion about what I read, whereas the television was determined to keep the facts from me and tell me what my opinion was.   Other stories on the front page were about a new, uplifting design for New York’s World Trade Center, and the Supreme Court’s protection of certain rights of abortion protesters.  The next day, the jail beatings ran as the chief headline again, but what attracted my attention was a feature-length story on the life of Fred Rogers, an American Icon known for his optimism and, as one writer put it, “[daring] to be calm.”  Humanity may yet have a voice!

While the Chicago Tribune’s selection of stories was much more balanced, the writing was still on the misanthropic side.  Writers were skeptical about the possibility of democracy in Iraq, wondering in print if the Iraqi people just might hate America more than they hate Hussein.  In a slant untouched by the television broadcast, the monetary cost of an invasion, occupation, and rebuilding of Iraq was discussed.  Numbers in excess of $100Billion were printed, and a reporter wondered where the money would come from, when the national budget is already overdrawn, and the economy back home is failing.  I get the impression that the Tribune, perhaps echoing the feelings of most Americans, would rather America stay home and solve her own problems, rather than go and solve the problems of a nation that would rather not have our “help.”

Reading the Tribune, I found that the same stories from the television broadcast the night before were covered, but with much more detail.  The cynicism seemed intact, but there was balance.  There seemed to be just as much “good news,” as bad.  In the first section of the newspaper, where the most important things are usually printed, there was equal time given to the prison beatings, and the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, a feel-good symbol of America’s resilience and determination to go on after tragedy.

As the week went on, I felt again and again that the television was trying to beat the independence out of me, forcing its opinions on me as if they were my own, all so subtly that I hardly realized it was happening.  The newspaper seemed intent on expressing its opinion, but it also calmly acknowledged that I was allowed to have my own opinion too.  It even went so far as to provide facts that may counter its own opinion, to assist me in forming mine.  This was a pleasant change from what I saw on television.

Because I’m chronically late, I tend to watch the clock with an obsessive eye.  One fact that can’t be denied is that reading the newspaper takes longer than watching the evening news.  This may be the major difference between the two mediums.  In an attempt to present the bare facts, the television news can lose sight of what is actually important.  When I sat down to watch 30 minutes of “important things,” I often wondered just how important this information was to me.  The newspaper, on the other hand, does not constrain my time.  I can read as little or as much as I like.  Because my priorities are different than those of the television producers, I find myself wanting information that they do not provide, and not wanting some of the information that they do offer.  The newspaper allows me to read at my pace, and absorb only the information that I decide is important.  The television never offered the right amount of information; there was either too much, or too little.  The newspaper seemed determined to err on the side of “too much,” and because I was reading, and could reread what I read (I did not record the evening news to take advantage of my “rewind” button), until I was satisfied, and then go on.  I never felt overwhelmed, or underwhelmed, by the newspaper, and when I was done reading, felt that I was a better person, or at least a better informed person, for having done so.  Television made me feel like a deviant and an antipatriot, because I did not agree with its opinions.

A standout among newspapers is USA Today.  I enjoyed the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times because their localized nature made them attractive as people-oriented publications; they often focused on how national and global issues affect individuals and groups within their respective areas.  USA Today, however, is a national paper, with a refreshingly optimistic sentiment.  It was mostly objective, focusing on national issues, and a “just the facts” attitude.  It would seem that when we simply look at the facts, the world doesn’t seem to be quite as troubled as CBS would have us believe.  It comes as a great surprise that Gannett’s USA Today is the most circulated newspaper in the country, according to a study by GlobalFor Media Services.  Its refreshing optimism and objectivity stands in dire contrast to the pessimism and forced-opinion reporting of the most popular television news programs.

The media is a whore.  She goes wherever the clients are, and does whatever they want.  Demographics are a fascinating science.  Why would the television cater to those who want fewer facts, less humanity, and more carnage, while newspapers strive to be complete, objective, and some even a bit optimistic?  I don’t know the answer to this question, but I know what I want.  I want facts, and I want lots of them.  I want to be able to form my own opinion, and discuss it with other people who also form their own opinions from the same facts.  I want to know what’s good about my country and my race, as well as what’s bad.  I believe that humanity is inherently good, and mankind carries the seeds of something greater than we can realize.  I want to see that face of humanity more than the evil of it.  I want objectivity, not sensationalism.  I want information, not streams of images moving too fast for me to comprehend.  Thanks to the Tribune, I realize what it is that I want.  I want Mr. Rogers.  I want media that’s not afraid to discuss the issues, but discusses them openly, optimistically, and without feeling the need to cater to those who have the attention span of a goldfish.  I want a medium that will, like Mr. Rogers, “dare to be calm.”

Epilogue

The professor’s comments at the end of the paper read “You have a great writing style, and I have to admit I laughed out loud a couple of times – a rare event in reading term papers. (Crying is somewhat more common – just kidding). Anyway, good discussion of your media experience.”

This is not fair

So last spring/summer we had the back door open for fresh air, a lot.  A mouse came in, so we got traps and caught it in just a couple days.

This fall another mouse dared to enter the house.  We set the traps again, and it was caught with-in the hour of setting.

We had one still set along the wall, just waiting in hopes that we would not catch another.

We went out of town for a week, and the trap was empty.

The temperatures dropped, a mouse came in for a snack.  It died.

We went to pick up more traps (because even though it says reusable, let’s be honest here, I am not un-clipping the mouse and using that nasty thing again!) just in case we need them.  The temperature outside keeps dropping, and I don’t want to be outside!

The price of the traps this time was $6.88, I think-once I find the receipt I will know for sure.  This evening we were at the store getting other supplies in that area of the store, and passed the traps display, and this is what I saw:

IMG00315mouse traps

It is the original price again.  It makes me so stinking mad!!!!!

We figure that because the outside temperatures dropped, many people were having trouble with the mice coming in, and the store (or rather the people who run it) decided that they might as well make extra money off the people who already have enough problems in their lives.  And now that the traps are in less of a demand, the price has dropped back to the original rate.

Now, if I can just think of how to make this work to my advantage….  Any ideas?

Blame Drew’s Cancer

“On May 20th, 2009, Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with cancer: Hodgkins Lymphoma.

“Ever since that day, Drew has blamed everything on his cancer. Losing his keys, misplacing his wallet, Twitter being slow, the Phillies losing, etc.

“Why? Because you have to beat up on Cancer to win… and you can help out.

“Blame Drew’s Cancer for everything you want….”

It takes a strong guy to take his cancer diagnosis and turn it into a viral internet phenomenon. People by the thousands are using twitter to blame Drew’s cancer for their problems, and we can see them all at http://blamedrewscancer.com.  They’re hoping that some nice companies will donate a dollar for every person that blames something on Drew’s cancer to the American Cancer Society or the Make a Wish Foundation. Sounds like a bit of fun and potentially a good cause….

Marcia blames Drew’s cancer for the squirrels that keep attacking our garden, and I blame Drew’s cancer for every software bug I’ve fixed since May 20th.

Thankfully, Hodgkins Lymphoma is one of the most curable kinds of cancer, with a 90%+ remission rate. Still, Drew will have a tough road ahead, and we wish him the best.

So if you use Twitter, go and #BlameDrewsCancer for something.  Then watch http://blamedrewscancer.com for yours to pop up (mine took about 10 minutes to show).

Technology issues in the election

OK, I’m really going to try not to be political with this. It’s already pretty clear who we support in the upcoming election, but I thought putting together this list would be interesting.

The following is a list of four major technology-related issues that are important in the upcoming presidential election, and the candidates’ positions on them. I will say that I don’t agree 100% with either candidate here, and I’ll try to be as objective as possible in putting together this list. Here goes…

Net Neutrality

What it is: Currently, your internet service provider (ISP) is required to give all internet traffic equal treatment, whether you are looking at ebay, cnn.com, or jacobandmarcia.com. This basically ensures that you can get what you want, when you want it. Some ISPs have announced their intention to begin treating some traffic with greater priority than others. For example, yahoo.com might pay your ISP to give preferential treatment to them, which means that yahoo will work faster than google, or any other website that doesn’t pay for priority handling.

Barack Obama’s stance: Supports enacting a law to ensure a neutral internet

John McCain’s stance: Believes ISPs should be able to determine what content they deliver and how they deliver it

Intellectual Property Protection

What it is: Copyrights, patents, and all that stuff.

Obama: Wants to ensure that intellectual property (IP) is well protected both in the USA and internationally

McCain: Says government should handle blatant IP issues, but warns against “protectionism”

Broadband Availability

What is is: Helping as many people as possible have access to fast, always-on, internet connections.

Obama: Supports government involvement in getting broadband access for everyone. Also wants to change the legal definition of “broadband:” Currently the government defines broadband as 200kb/s or faster. Obama wants to raise that number so that it has to be faster to qualify as “broadband.” (For the sake of reference, at 200 kb/s, it will take about 3 minutes to download a typical pop music mp3).

McCain: Supports increased broadband access via competition between ISPs, instead of government intervention. No comment from McCain on the definition of “broadband.”

Internet and Telephone Privacy

What’s the big deal? The internet has created a whole new world of privacy issues: How long should a website that you buy something from keep your credit card number? How much personal information should myspace and facebook be allowed to publish to the masses? What about information about your children? Also, the national security climate has led to government agencies listening in on phone calls or monitoring internet use without a warrant (“warrantless wiretapping”). Many believe that this is unconstitutional, while others argue that it is not actually “search and seizure” as defined by the constitution. When the issue finally makes it to the supreme court, IF it is deemed to be unconstitutional, an interesting legal question arises as to the liability of the telephone companies and ISPs that participated in the wiretap.

Obama: Wants to increase the Federal Telecommunications Commission’s budget to give them more resources to track down cyber-criminals. Wants to update laws to ensure that information gathered for national security is properly used, and that all intelligence-gathering is done by completely legal means.

McCain: Supports retroactive immunity for companies that participated in warantless wiretapping. Believes the government should use all instruments of national power to fight the war against terrorists. Says that this must be done without “impinge[ing] on the rights of our own citizens or restrict[ing] their freedoms.”

As already stated, we’re supporting Obama this time around, but I tried to make this list as objective as possible and to not take anything out of context, giving each candidate a valid representation in terms of the technological issues that we currently face.

Without pushing my views on you, the only thing I’m going to encourage you to do is to make sure you’re registered to vote, and when the time comes, go out and vote!

It’s time…

We have avoided anything political on this blog for a while, but the time has finally come…

There were a few candidates of varying persuasions that we felt an inclination for, but most have dropped out of the race, and only one remains: Barack Obama.

We do not agree with everything that Obama stands for, but we agree with most of it:

“I don’t want to just end the war, I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.”

“We are not going to baby-sit a civil war.”

John McCain still thinks the war in Iraq is a good idea.  He wants our troops in Iraq forever, or indefinitely, whichever comes first.

Clinton still refuses to admit that her voting in favor of the war was a mistake.

Obama has opposed the war since the beginning.  We want a president who had the foresight to know that this would not turn out well, and the integrity to stand up for that, even when it was unpopular.

“Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let’s set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let’s recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let’s make college more affordable, and let’s invest in scientific research, and let’s lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America.”

Obama believes in keeping the internet open and free (did you even know that many of your representatives are under the influence of lobbyists who want to close up the internet and allow your internet provider to charge you extra for visiting any web site that they don’t run?).  Obama believes that education, not war, is our future, and wants to put our money where it will help rather than hurt.

“We now face an opportunity — and an obligation — to turn the page on the failed politics of yesterday’s health care debates… My plan begins by covering every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less. If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness.”

Imagine that you could provide for yourself any kind of health insurance you want.  You could simply declare “this is my health coverage, because I said so.”  That is what you get to do when you’re a U.S. Senator or Congressman.  As a result, they have pretty good coverage.  Obama wants to give every American the opportunity to have that same coverage, and to ensure that every American has health insurance – that no one will be forced into poverty and bankruptcy as the result of some circumstance beyond their control or their ability to foresee.

“I believe that America’s free market has been the engine of America’s great progress. It’s created a prosperity that is the envy of the world. It’s led to a standard of living unmatched in history. And it has provided great rewards to the innovators and risk-takers who have made America a beacon for science, and technology, and discovery…We are all in this together. From CEOs to shareholders, from financiers to factory workers, we all have a stake in each other’s success because the more Americans prosper, the more America prospers.”

Obama wants to make taxes simpler for the majority of Americans: the middle class.  Obama wants to provide tax breaks to the middle class, instead of the rich upper class, who got tax breaks they didn’t even ask for from the Bush administration.

Now for a call to action:  This week we celebrate the birthday of a laywer from Illinois who, through integrity and hope, made a difference, and saved our nation: Abraham Lincoln.

In the spirit of that hope, we have made a donation to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.  We followed a call to action from dailykos.com, who has asked people to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday by donating a multiple of $5.01 to the Obama campaign (Lincoln appears on the $5 bill and the penny).

We’ve contributed what we could responsibly afford, but it’s going to take more than just us and the others who’ve acted so far.

It’s going to take a movement. It’s going to take millions of people to beat back the avalanche of dollars from Washington lobbyists and special interests, who are planning to spend more money than ever to try to own our political process and dictate our policies in Washington.

Barack Obama will not play that game.

Barack Obama is not taking any contributions from Washington lobbyists or political action committees.

Barack Obama is transforming the political process by bringing together hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans in a campaign that’s owned by no one but the people.

Will you join us by making a donation?  Can you spare $5.01, or $10.02, or $25.05 to show that you have hope for the future?  That you hope for your children to grow up in the land of the free?  That you support a candidate who believes in you?

The future is coming, and it is time to make it happen the way we want.  Please join us:

https://donate.barackobama.com/page/contribute/pf?outreach_page_id=28895

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