Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Obama Voted For Teleco Immunity (Illegal Wiretaps) in FISA HR 6304 Bill

Posted in Government,Law,Scandal by Elliott Back on July 9th, 2008.

There’s now a serious reason not to vote for Barack Hussein Obama in the upcoming election. On the issue of illegal wiretapping he voted for HR 6304, which grants retroactive immunity from prosecution to telephone companies who cooperated with Bush’s presidency to illegally spy on millions of Americans.

obama-wiretaps.jpg
Illegal Wiretaps We Can Believe In

We are all disappointed, Obama. TechCrunch, in Barack Obama Breaks Promise, Flip Flops, and supports Telco’s, says it best:

In voting for the bill, Obama acted in direct contradiction to his earlier statements. In 2007 Bill Burton, an Obama campaign spokesman, said “To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”

Update: BoingBoing just posted the same thing a little late to the game!

9/11 Terrorist Attack’s 8th Anniversary

Posted in CIA,Government,History,Holiday,Homeland Security,Military,NSA,NYC,Politics by Elliott Back on September 11th, 2009.

Today is the 8th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York against the World Trade Center. On September 11, 2001 suicidal jihadists flew fully fueled airplanes into the World Trade Center, the pentagon, and other targets. America’s most gut-wrenching 21st century moment cost 3,000 lives, and permanently scarred the memories of New Yorkers:

9 11  towers

In light of the anniversary, it’s worth spending some time to ask yourself “what has America done to make them hate us so much?” Consider the recent imperialist unjust wars fought in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and the illicit actions of the CIA around the world, or the hundreds of military bases we maintain in other countries. The aid dollars we dole out to dictators to preserve the status quo, our arbitrary tariffs and immigration policies that alienate foreigners, and the eroding of Americans’ own civil liberties in the name of “freedom” and the “war against terror.”

America was once respected as a nation of justice, wisdom, and opportunity. Perhaps over time the Obama administration can repair America’s reputation.

“So, let’s imagine how [the September 11th attacks] could have been worse for example. Suppose that on September 11, Al-Qaeda had bombed the White House and killed the President, instituted a murderous, brutal regime which killed maybe 50,000 to 100,000 people and tortured about 700,000, set up a major international terrorist center in Washington, which was overthrowing governments all over the world, and installing brutal vicious neo-Nazi dictatorships, assassinating people. Suppose he called in a bunch of economists, let’s call them the ‘Kandahar Boys’ to run the American economy, who within a couple of years had driven the economy into one of the worst collapses of its history. Suppose this had happened. That would have been worse than 9/11, right? But it did happen. And it happened on 9/11. That happened on September 11, 1973 in Chile. The only thing you have to change is this per capita equivalence, which is the right way to look at it. Well, did that change the world? Yeah, it did but not from our point of view, in fact, who even knows about it? Incidentally, just to finish, because we [the U.S.] were responsible for that one.” — Noam Chomsky.

Why Sarah Palin Sucks for VP

Posted in Politics,President,Religion,Science by Elliott Back on September 7th, 2008.

Sarah Palin, after winning John McCain’s VP nomination, has been in the news a lot these days. Photoshopped and real pictures showing her in her beauty pageant glory days have been flooding the web, while incriminating Youtube videos exploit her poor camera performance and public speaking ability. Everywhere I look, no one can take her as a serious contender for the Vice Presidency.

But that’s not why I think Sarah Palin sucks. I don’t care about her looks, her messy personal life, or her pregnant teenage daughter. I care about what she’s done, and what she’s willing to do, in office.

Sarah Palin: Eminent Domain

Sarah Palin, while mayor of Wasilla (1996-2002), decided to build a $15M multi-use sports facility as her legacy. However, when the city failed to close the $125k deal on the land where she wanted it built with the Alaska Nature Conservancy, they went ahead and began to build anyway. On someone else’s land. Sara Palin then invoked Eminent Domain law to sue the developer who held title to the land, Gary Lundgren, who eventually won the court case, and settled with the city to the tune of an additional $1.7M.

Sarah Palin sucks because she is willing to try to steal private property from its rightful owners for her own good.

Sarah Palin: Book Bans

According to Time, Sarah Palin, “asked the library how she could go about banning books” because some of her constituents believed they used “inappropriate” language. Sarah Palin also threatened to fire the librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, for not giving “full support” to the mayor.

Update: the following list of books Sarah Palin wanted banned, courtesy of Liveleak, looks similar to every other list I’ve seen of books the Christian right has wanted banned.

Update 2: The above list is a complete fabrication, a copy-paste job of an older list of books banned over time. Some fact checking shows that books late in the Harry Potter series are on the list, which came out after Sarah Palin’s inquiries into book-banning. The truth of the book-banning incident is apparently a rhetorical inquiry into how the librarians would react were she to issue the order… still scary…

Sarah Palin sucks because she is willing to censor anything that doesn’t fall into her narrow set of beliefs.

Sarah Palin: Creationist

According to The Lang Report, Sarah Palin in 2006 said in a gubernatorial debate, “Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of education. Healthy debate is so important, and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both.” In spite of courts having (fortunately) ruled that teaching creationism is a violation of the separation of Church and State, electing someone with Sarah Palin’s beliefs will inevitable continue the Bush legacy of eroding America’s scientific prominence.

Note that the education arena is not the only area where Sarah Palin’s policy may have been shaped by her religious views. Her Pastor Kalnins believes in the “end times” or “last days,” and that Alaska may soon “be the refuge” for those fleeing the apocalypse of the world. These beliefs are absurd.

Sarah Palin sucks because she’s willing to compromise educational policy for her own personal religious beliefs.

Sarah Palin: Homophobe

I’ll submit the following quotation from The Bilerico Project, which lays out the facts fairly well:

Palin said she’s not out to judge anyone and has good friends who are gay, but that she supported the 1998 constitutional amendment. Elected officials can’t defy the court when it comes to how rights are applied, she said, but she would support a ballot question that would deny benefits to homosexual couples. “I believe that honoring the family structure is that important,” Palin said.

Sarah Palin sucks because she believes homosexual couples are inferior to heterosexual ones.

Sarah Palin: Racist

Sarah Palin’s attitude towards native populations living in Alaska, or black Barack Obama, indicates that skin color matters to her. The LA Progressive article Palin Is “Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean” sheds some light:

“Sambo beat the bitch” may be everyday language up in the bush. Whether it – and the outlook, politics and worldview Palin reflects when she says such things in public – should be part of a presidential campaign is another thing altogether. The comment says as much about McCain as it does about Palin, and it says a lot of things about Americans who overlook such statements (as well as her record) and vote anyway for McCain.

Sarah Palin sucks because she refuses to treat those she views as different as her equals in politics. America is a complex country, full of differing cultural groups and interest; only a president sensitive to the variety of man can successfully navigate the American melting pot.

Sarah Palin: Anti Sex Education

Sarah Palin oppose the “right to choose”, and advocates abstinence-only sex education. The Huffington Post quotes her saying, “The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.” This is a problem, because abstinence-only sex education is futile and ineffective, and has been thoroughly debunked. Reading statistics like “by age 18, about 71 percent of U.S. youth have had sexual intercourse” would lead one who cares about America’s youth to teach them safe-sex, not tell them a “no sex” message that will be ignored.

Update 3: For the other side of the story, you should read Newsweek’s great Sliming Palin: False Internet claims and rumors fly about McCain’s running mate story. Although I feel many of their anecdotes are just trying to muddy the waters, no issue in politics is black and white either, and this certainly deserves the “fair and balanced” treatment. Isn’t life just shades of gray?

Update 4: Check out what Matt Damon thinks of Sarah Palin:

Matt Damon Rips Sarah Palin –
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