Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Irony in Obama's election

Yesterday was a mixed blessing for me. I was very happy for America and for African-Americans especially and for my own African-American nephews that a black man was elected president of the United States. At the same time I was deeply saddened by a vote on Proposition 8 that told me that I was not accepted and not equal. I felt personally rejected by the state that I live in. I felt the weight of a mass of people that dislike me, fear me, and wish I wasn't around. I can only imagine that's how black people feel on a daily basis as white people look at them with fear or instant judgment. It took a vote for me to feel that same slap in the face. I'm very happy that Obama's presidency and the visibility of his family may go a long way in lifting this instant judgment, fear, and misunderstanding for African-Americans and other people of color. But while that great step forward was taken a giant step backward was taken for gay people. While one hand giveth, the other taketh away.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Arguments against gay marriage

I would like to know any reasonable arguments for denying marriage to same sex individuals. The arguments I've seen don't hold water according to our constitution and bill of rights. Here are the arguments I've seen:
  1. It's in the Bible.
    That doesn't hold up - our constitution and bill of rights ensure religious freedom and not imposing a specific religion through government on anyone. Our founding fathers were very clear on this.
  2. It's unnatural.
    This also doesn't hold water. There is tons of evidence that all kinds of animals engage in homosexual activity and that it's part of the natural order.
  3. It's a lifestyle choice not an innate characteristic.
    This would be the only argument that would justify the denying of any right to gay people. Obviously discrimination against characteristics that come at birth like skin color are against the constitution and bill or rights because they are inherently unfair. If being gay were a choice then you would not have to provide the same rights to a gay person because it's a behavioral decision. But clearly this is not true.
Despite what the vast majority of gay people say, that it is not a choice, straight people refuse to believe them. Well, if you're straight, ask yourself these set of questions?
  1. Why would anyone in this society choose to be gay?
  2. Can you choose to be gay? Would having sex with the same sex feel natural to you?
    If you are truly 100% straight the answers to these questions will be no. If you're 100% gay the answers will be exactly the same. Having sex with the opposite sex will seem unnatural and impossible. Many gay people live a majority of their lives pretending or wanting to be straight. If it were a choice why would this choice fail?

    So if it is not a choice, denying a right to a group that has an innate characteristic that is outside of their control is against the constitution and bill of rights. It seems pretty simple. People claim that the courts are undertaking a social agenda or social activism. I disagree - they are just enforcing the constitution and unfortunately for those who oppose gay marriage, the arguments are clearly not strong for their side.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why I may not buy the new macbook

So, I was waiting and waiting for the expected date of arrival of new MacBooks - Oct. 14th - because my old mac book has a broken keyboard, super-drive, etc. I was hoping for faster cpu, better battery life. Some of the features of the new Mac Book are improvements but overall I'm disappointed.

Here are the improvements:
  • Aluminum case with more sturdyness due to single block design.
  • Better graphics card with offloaded graphics processing.
  • Macbook pro-like look.
  • That's about it.
Here are the main detractors that may keep me from buying it:
  • No firewire port. What?
  • Higher price. Double-what?
  • No major increases in power or battery life.
  • Looks more like an HP than a mac.
I think I can get basically a much better computer for $800 and put Linux on it and buy an external battery. I admit I still haven't seen one in person. Maybe I'll be over-awed by the coolnesss of it and buy it anyway.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Myth of Socialism

I've been hearing a lot of cries of "socialism" in our current election. The word is used with a lot of misunderstanding and often as a scare tactic.

The American political system is a mixture of democracy, capitalism, and social programs. Social programs are not necessarily the same thing as socialism. Here is the webster definition of socialism: "Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods."

To advocate social programs is not the same as advocating socialism. But when the social program refers to "universal healthcare" or tax breaks for the middle class or government programs that benefit the middle class, the label "socialist" is often applied.

We have many "social" or government run programs. Examples - our highway and transportation system, our agricultural subsidies, welfare, social security, education, higher education in state universities, medicare, fire, police and national security.

Why do we have these? Because we've chosen to take a portion of our incomes and collectively pool them towards enterprises that are necessary for the functioning of our society as a whole. Businesses rely on these enterprises as much as we do. No one calls our military "socialist", or are education system, or our police, fire department, or legal system. The fact is that free enterprise is not structured to fulfill these type of infrastructure needs. Individual corporations are only responsible to their shareholders and to produce the greatest profits. But free enterprise is dependent on all the services that we collectively provide through our elected government and taxes.

There's a common political philosophy that free enterprise left alone will take care of everything. How can that be possible if each individual corporation is only responsible for itself and its shareholders?

The truth is that some kind of collective investment in the infrastructure required for a stable and healthy society is necessary. Once you have this investment, it will need to be administered towards the required infrastructure. Those who invest(we the people) will want oversight and decision making power as to how this investment is administered.

There has to be some structure to administer the collective investment in infrastructure. This is commonly called "government". Government governs the common investment. We vote on "representatives" who represent our interests in how this common investment should be administered. In a well working system of government, we decide what we require in this infrastructure, what the priorities are, and how the money will be spent on different parts of the infrastructure.

We have temporarily lost control of this process. More often than not corporations are deciding how this money should be spent and which parts of the infrastructure are important. Nowadays much of our infrastructure has been turned over to private enterprises. This is not inherently bad, as long as our representatives ensure that the corporate entities best fulfill our interests in implementing specific pieces of our infrastructure. But currently there is an incestuous relationship between corporations and our representatives, for several reasons. One, a lot of our law makers are extremely wealthy. Two, it requires a lot of money to get elected. Most of this money is donated by corporate entities who want the business that government provides or want the advantages in business that government can pave for them.

Nowadays, government's job has been to help facilitate corporations - to pave the way for their unlimited growth. We are more closely approaching the real definition of socialism as government and business become more and more tightly coupled. Recall: "state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods". Our government - through deregulation - just allowed our banking system to freeze up and almost collapse, and in order to prevent that collapse, they just bought up major sections of our financial and banking system. What is more "socialist" than that?

Is a government run health care system socialist? Or is government turning health care legally over to corporate entities and paving their way for financial success socialist?

Certain parts of our infrastructure, I believe, should not be in the hands of corporations. Health care is one of them. A business that operates on profit should not be making life or death decisions. On the flip-side, certain parts of our economy should not be in the hands of government.

As a society we need to rework the following:
1. What are the necessary parts of our infrastructure for a healthy society?
2. Which parts can be run by private enterprise and which parts can not?

We have to break the incestuous bond between private enterprise and government so that "we the people" are truly making this decision.

Also we need to eliminate the myth of socialism because it doesn't help in making these decisions and is often used as a tool against us. It blurs our clear vision.

Most of all, we need to be educated. Only through education will we learn the discrimination necessary to administer our own government. Remember - this is our government. We truly can have control over how our government runs, but only if we, as citizens, are educated enough to understand the concept of government and the principles this country was founded on.

McCain: Why do you keep lying about taxes?

McCain's strategy seems to be to take a theme and continually harp on it, whether it's factual or not. Remember "Earmarks?" Now it's Obama's tax plan.

McCain said that 50% of small business owners would have increased taxes under Obama's plan. The fact is that only 2% of small business owners would have increased taxes and the increase would only apply to the income above $250,000. So this is a flat out lie, but a lie he keeps repeating. I'm sure McCain has been informed enough about Obama's tax plan to know he is lying. Therefore we have another potential president who is not afraid to lie and mislead repeatedly.

And to use gimmicks like Joe the Plumber. Joe the Plumber is meant to convince us that a tax break for the super-wealthy that George Bush imposed will hurt the little guy. Maybe that gimmick works - if you're STUPID! Maybe Sarah Palin works, if you're STUPID. We're not voting for hockey moms and Joe Six Packs, we're voting for a president of the United States. And the United States has serious issues that have been ignored for a long, long time and now are coming home to roost. If John McCain dies of a heart attack, Sarah Palin the Hockey Mom will be President of the United States.

Well his gimmick backfired. The fact is that Joe the Plumber himself admits his taxes won't be raised under Obama's tax plan. (

So Obama is a tax raiser? He intends to cut taxes for 90% of Americans and repeal the tax cut for the super-wealthy that George Bush gave to his friends and McCain wants to continue. Looks to me like he's making the tax burden more fairly distributed. How people are convinced to vote against their best interests for higher taxes for themselves and lower taxes for the super-rich is beyond me? I guess they fall for "Joe the Plumber". I guess they think that McCain - the son of an Admiral who owns seven houses is more one of them then the guy who grew up in a single family home and struggled through college and law school - who owns one house, who lived on a public servants salary?