Politics and Whatnot

Just another liberal political blog

Monthly Archives: May 2011

Palin: “I love that smell of the emissions.”

RealClearPolitics – Palin to Visit Iowa as Bus Tour Kicks Into Gear.

Yes, it’s in there.  Look for it and you will find it.  To be fair, she’s referring to motorcycle exhaust.   So the way a normal person would say it: “I love the smell of motorcycle exhaust!”

My first spammers!

Apparently I’ve been getting spammers, but wordpress has been filtering them out automatically.  So unfortunately, my posts still are lacking in significant comments.  But at least they’re not spammers.  I will get this blogging thing eventually.

Romney in Iowa: “I support things that stereotypical Iowans like”

RealClearPolitics – Romney in Iowa: “I Support the Subsidy of Ethanol”.

“I support the subsidy of ethanol” Romney told a Iowan who is statistically more likely than not to also support the subsidy of ethanol.  “I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution in this country.”

Upon encountering another Iowan of unknown political views, Romney added “I support building baseball diamonds in cornfields.  I believe cornfield baseball diamonds are an important part of our sports culture in this country.”

Finally, Romney discussed the issues with another Iowan who had originated from Germany.  “I support the acting and singing career of David Hasselhoff.  I believe David Hasselhoff is an important part of our entertainment industry in this country.”

There are so many places I could go with this – Black Iowans, Japanese Iowans, Jewish Iowans… not going there.

Republicans take gutsy, stupid stand on tornado aid spending

Rep. Eric Cantor: Spending cuts in exchange for Missouri tornado aid | The State Column.

Well I have to give the Republicans credit – it takes guts to refuse to give aid to tornado victims until you and several other well-paid representatives debate what programs should be cut to pay for it.   I mean, even you were concerned about the deficit, you could simply pass an across-the-board tax cut of a fraction of a percent to pay for it.  But no – the Republicans are going for the moonshot – paying for all of it from program cuts, not tax increases.

But I suppose it makes some sense – these people need the money really badly.  Maybe that’ll be enough to end some important government programs, and bring them closer to the everyone-for-themselves right wing utopia they were apparently elected to install at all costs.

Conglomerate-owned media silence on internet-censoring Protect IP Act

News has been a bit slow lately.  Fake apocalyse, Obama’s visiting Ireland, made up controversy with Israel.  If only there were something worthwhile to report…

Well, maybe someone might want to report on a new law that Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is pushing through Congress, comfortingly named the Protect IP Act.  The law is worrisome enough to Google that it said it will actually disobey the law if passed, and its chairman Eric Schmidt compared it to the Great Firewall of China that allows the government to block any website that it deems undesirable, like those discussing the Tiannamen Square Massacre.

So, when the same Eric Schmidt told 30 Rock’s Tina Fey to ditch her iPhone a couple weeks earlier, well, that’s Today Show material.  But the first step down the road towards a China-style Great Firewall internet censor – no one cares about that, right?  A Google News search for “Protect IP Act” shows none of the mainstream sources, except those that are internet-focused, even discussing it.  Why should they?  NBC’s owned in part by Comcast, CBS is closely tied to Viacom, ABC is owned by Disney, and Fox is owned by Newscorp – all companies that have fought many copyright battles and, assumably, lobbied for this bill.

These companies are no longer media.  They are marketing arms of their respective conglomerates.  The independents out here in the blogosphere, out there on Youtube and Twitter are all that’s left for giving news untainted by profit motive.

I got a free domain name – thanks Tokelau!

Thanks to the good folks of the nation of Tokelau, and my very low visitor count, I get a free domain name.  As you might guess, it’s politicsandwhatnot.tk .

As a token of appreciation, I am making the first image uploaded to this blog the flag of Tokelau:

Tokelau’s flag is like a shark’s fin.

Ok, back to my job.

Is Jesse Helms Dead Yet? needs updating.

The page Is Jesse Helms Dead Yet? needs updating.    The senator (mostly famous for being old and racist) has been dead for like three years.

Understanding the War Powers Resolution, as if you care

AFP: US senators challenge Obama on Libya.

If you’re like most people, you don’t know much about the legal debate over the war in Libya.   Here’s why this is an issue:

1. The Constitution doesn’t provide for fighting people without a declaration of war (which is something Congress has to do).

2.Presidents throughout history have fought people without a declaration of war anyway.

3. So after Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution.  In a nutshell, it says that if there’s an attack on the US or whatever, the President can fight people without getting permission from Congress, but if he does that, he has to get Congress’s permission within 60 days of the start of fighting.

4. One problem: the War Powers Resolution isn’t a real law.  It’s basically what Congress thinks the law should be.  Due to separation of powers, Congress really can’t pass any laws telling the President that he has to get their permission for something.

5. So now a bunch of Congressfolk are getting pissed that Obama doesn’t seem eager to get their permission for whatever it is he’s doing in Libya.

6. My view?  From a legal standpoint, Obama doesn’t have to do anything.  The War Powers Resolution means no more than a newspaper editorial signed by a majority of the members of  Congress 40 years ago.  But from a political standpoint – well, he should do something.  It sets a bad precedent for the President to declare war without involving Congress.  Even if this Congress is filled with a bunch of dicks who are likely to use this as an excuse to score political points and to shove through pork.

7. You still don’t care.   Oh well.

The insanity of trying to read the Adobe Flash Player License Agreement

A website upon which I wanted to watch a video recently forced me to download the very latest version of Adobe Flash Player, that one proprietary plugin I need to view just about anything put on the internet in the 21st century.  Upon installing it, the program required me to click a checkbox if I wanted to proceed with installation, indicating that I agreed with the “Flash Player License Agreement”.  Just for shits and giggles, I decided to see what would happen if I actually tried to read the agreement:

1. First, I click on a link in the installation program saying “Read the license here”.  Easy enough.

2. I am taken to a ridiculously long page with what appears to be license agreements for every product Adobe has ever made.  There are about 10 that begin with “Adobe Flash.”  Next to this, three versions are listed: 10.2, 10.1, and 10.0.  I look at my installer, which says “Adobe Flash Player 10.3 Installer”.  How many people are supposed to be going through this process again?  Ok, I’ll just pretend it’s 10.2 and click on that.

3. I wait for my computer to  download the 3.3 MB license PDF, which is slightly larger than the size of the flash player installer.  I happen to have a non-adobe PDF reader.  Let’s say I didn’t – presumably I would have to download “Adobe Reader”.  You can probably guess what’s coming next – yes, Adobe Reader’s license is only available in PDF as well.

4. Upon opening the 280 page license agreement, I notice that it appears to be in Arabic.  Confused, I look back at the download page, which is in English.  Scrolling to the top, I see the following:

“For your convenience, when available, we have provided you with a selection of languages in which to review the product license. ”

Oh how very convenient!  I always wondered why other companies didn’t combine multiple languages into one gigantic file instead of allowing me to select my language before downloading.  At least, when I open the bookmarks toolbar, I see that they provided a link to each of the 35 languages that are included in the agreement.

5. Clicking on the English section, I notice one final irony – despite making me click on the specific product and version, this appears to be a one-size-fits-all agreement for several Adobe products, including Adobe Reader, Adobe Air, and others.  Finally, I can see the terms I’ve been waiting for.  Here’s a sample of what I’m agreeing to:

– I understand that Adobe does not warrant that Flash Player is free from defects, and I accept all of its defects.  I waive the right to receive any damages for any losses caused by Adobe, even if an Adobe representative has been advised of the possibility of such loss.

– I will not use Flash Player with any application or device that circumvents copyright protection (note that this is much broader than using it to circumvent copyright protection).

– I acknowledge that third parties may use web beacons in PDFs to track me (all I want is to watch a fucking video!)

– I acknowledge that the software may automatically connect to Adobe’s website, download an update for itself, and install without telling me, but while telling Adobe that the software has been updated.

– The software may allow third parties to store information on my computer, which they can later access, in a manner completely controlled by that third party.

– I’ll just post this one here: ” If your Computer is connected to the Internet, the Software may,
without additional notice and on an intermittent or regular basis, facilitate your access to content and
services that are hosted on websites maintained by Adobe or its affiliates…If your Computer is connected to the Internet, the Software
may, without additional notice, update downloadable materials from these Adobe Online Services so as
to provide immediate availability of these Adobe Online Services even when you are offline.”  (???)  I’m worried about the way they use the words “facilitate your access” here…

– If I’m a “business or organization”, an Adobe representative can request that I fully document how I use Flash Player and certify in writing that I am complying with all terms and conditions, and I must comply with this request within 30 days (all I did was click a fucking checkbox!)

Oh yeah, during this whole thing, the Adobe flash installer is staying “on top” of my screen, partially obstructing my view the whole time.

Whew, that took a while longer than I expected.  Hopefully just looking at the length of this post should get my pojnt across, though: click-wrap agreements are ridiculous.  The notion that anyone reads them is laughable, and it seems that even the software companies themselves don’t take them seriously, and don’t actually want you to read them, while “requiring” you to do so.

I’m calling bullshit on Huckabee not running

Imagine, for a minute, that you ran for president, four years ago, and lost.  While you didn’t win, people thought you had potential as a candidate.  So in 2012, you act like you’re running for president, going on talkshows and the like.  Everyone thinks you’re running.  You have some opponents in your party, but you top the polls.  Then, in the span of about two weeks, your opponents numbers begin to plummet, making you the clear frontrunner.  So, what do you do?  Run or not run?

Well according to Huckabee’s aides, the answer is to be “likely to forego” running.  The media is eating this up, and the likelihood of Huckabee announcing a run has plummet on Intrade to about 25%.  The excuse for not running, apparently, is that Huckabee doesn’t want to face scrutiny and doesn’t want to lose his lucrative media career.

Bullshit.  Huckabee already faced plenty of scrutiny in 2008 and if he thinks his media career is lucrative now, you can imagine what it will be like after he wins the primary.   This sounds suspiciously like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2003 Tonight Show announcement that he was running for governor – his aides said he was “leaning against” running,the media bought it,  and then it was more of a shock when he announced he was running.  It’s an excellent strategy, and it probably helped propel him to victory.

So here we have the exact same pattern – everyone assumed Huckabee was running, and now, just before the announcement, we have rumors of a sudden, baseless change of heart.  According to intrade I’m 75% likely to be wrong, but I say he’s running.

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