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Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:19 AM PST

10 Years at DailyKos (and GBCW?)

by Zackpunk

It's hard to believe, but it was ten years ago today that I joined DailyKos. Ten years? It does not seem like that long ago that we were following the rise of and fall (and rise again) of Howard Dean. And it was Howard Dean that brought me here, tangentially, and I believe that was true for many others. That was the first presidential campaign in which the internet was a major factor, and this site benefited tremendously from that movement. Or was it that the movement benefited tremendously from this site? Either way, I think to understand DailyKos, it helps to understand that moment in history. An explosion of frustration at the timidity of Democratic politicians who were still shell-shocked from Dukakis's epic collapse in 1988. It was as if a spell had been cast over liberal-land. To succeed as a Democrat, you had to accept Republican frames. I believe the purpose of this site was to break that spell.

And pooties. Musn't forget the pooties.

Some personal thoughts on the last ten years after the orange swishy.


How many years have you been at DailyKos?

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Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 06:21 AM PST

We're Winning the War on Christmas

by Zackpunk

We've got Santa on the run. So much so, he needs military backup.

As Santa streaks through the sky this Christmas Eve, Rudolph merrily guiding the way, he will be flanked by some new and unusual companions: a jet-fighter escort, bristling with missiles.
For years it's seemed that our guerrilla armies have had little to no effect in this war. So little, in fact, some have argued they don't even exist, and the whole thing is just a paranoid delusion. But now, finally, someone is taking this war seriously.
An intelligence officer asserts that “intel can confirm that Jack Frost and the Abominable Snowman will not be a threat.” Ground forces then report that all rooftops have been checked to make sure Santa, whose call sign is “Big Red One,” and his reindeer can land safely. Could Santa’s navigation system be attacked by a a computer virus? Another officer in charge of cyber space chimes in that the “anti-Grinch-viral is up and will continue to monitor threats.”

Lastly, the video trains on the cockpit of a fighter jet flying escort to prevent Santa from straying into restricted air space and “to protect from threats.” What threats the old man and his sleigh may actually face are not disclosed.

It's no surprise that NORAD is being tight-lipped about the opposition, which I assure you is formidable and prepared. Good work, soldiers. We've got their attention.

Wed Jun 26, 2013 at 03:46 PM PDT

Why Jesus Wept Today

by Zackpunk


Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 08:35 AM PDT

What spying SHOULD the Gov do?

by Zackpunk

This is going to be a short diary because my hope is to solicit other people's opinions rather than view my own, which I'm still forming. When it comes to the NSA and PRISM, I'm not (yet) quite as outraged as others, mostly because there seems to be a lot of conflicting information, and my experience has been that often these stories don't end up looking like the way they started. Generally though, I do believe the NSA should be doing something to try to keep us safe, and I'm guessing most everyone agrees with me on that. We've spent a lot of time here discussing what constitutes a breach of fourth amendment rights when it comes to information gathering and analysis, but I'd like to shift the focus to what you think the government should be doing, and how exactly they should be going about doing it. If you care to chime in, please be as specific as possible in terms of how the government should be retrieving and handling information -- what sorts of information, where they're getting it from, what they're doing with it, etc... Outline specific scenarios and examples if you can. It might be helpful to review the above link as an example (regardless of whether or not it's true -- it certainly could be true). I believe this side of it is important to consider and I'm interested in your thoughts. And if you feel the NSA really shouldn't be doing any digital spying at all, go ahead and make a case for that.


Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 07:51 AM PDT

A Few Thoughts on Privacy & the NSA

by Zackpunk

I'm not outraged over the NSA spying program (yet), but before I get to that, I have some thoughts on our perceptions of privacy.

It seems incredible to imagine, but back in the 1990's when Caller ID technology began to make its way into the hands of consumers, it was very controversial, and considered by many to be an invasion of privacy. This was before cell phones. You would actually buy a little device that plugged into your land line that displayed the incoming number (I used to have one). Take a look at this 1990 article from the Florida Sun Sentinel after the swishy:

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Faced with continuing Republican abuse of the filibuster, the cute and lovable Harry Reid threatened once again to use the so-called "nuclear option" to place in meaningful reforms. The darling senator from Nevada issued another oh-so stern warning to his colleagues across the aisle, that if they continue to filibuster Obama's judicial nominees, he's going to really do something serious, and he really means it this time.

“We made changes but the time will tell whether they’re big enough. I’m going to wait and build a case. If the Republicans in the Senate don’t start approving some judges, and don’t start helping get some of these nominations done, then we’re going to have to take more action.”
The lovable rascal then proceded to insist that he's "super serious" this time, and that if the Republicans don't quit it, he's really going to do something, he totally means it.

Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 07:47 AM PST

Peggy Noonan is a Freaking Genius

by Zackpunk

This is just the most brilliant thing ever. Written Monday morning.

While everyone is looking at the polls and the storm, Romney’s slipping into the presidency. He’s quietly rising, and he’s been rising for a while.
So quietly, in fact, even the people who supposedly would vote for him didn't even know they were going to do it, apparently. And I guess they forgot to do what they didn't know they were going to do.

There's so much more.

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I know exactly what Republicans are doing right now. They're looking at the polls in key swing states and thinking "it's pretty close." They're thinking the polls haven't taken into account the groundswell of opposition to the incumbent -- just how intensely people hate him. Republicans are looking at a post from a political scientist who makes a pretty convincing case that all his peers have got it wrong. They're refusing to believe that anyone could vote for this guy -- that surely people will get into the voting booth and snap to their senses. Or maybe they'll just stay home. They're thinking about how crucially important this election is and how failure is just not an option. The Republican candidate just has to win and that's all there is to it. They're looking at that one poll and thinking, maybe that poll is truly the right poll after all. They're reading reassuring blog posts from their internet buddies that set aside the technical data and explain in common sense terms why victory will be theirs. And it all makes sense -- of course, yes, those people could be right. They're listening to the media that keeps saying over and over again, "it's a tossup, anything could happen."

I know what the Republicans are doing right now. And I know how that ends.


Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 09:16 AM PDT

There's a 16.3% chance we suck

by Zackpunk

I hope most of you by now have read Nate Silver this morning, as is your civic duty. He argues that in order for Romney to win, the polls must be statistically biased in Obama's favor, meaning they must be overestimating support for Obama. Nate explains it this way:

...many of the pollsters are likely to make [...] assumptions about how to measure the voter universe accurately. This introduces the possibility that most of the pollsters could err on one or another side — whether in Mr. Obama’s direction, or Mr. Romney’s. In a statistical sense, we would call this bias: that the polls are not taking an accurate sample of the voter population.
But there is another way to think of it. The pollsters may be overestimating us. And by us, I mean the Democrats. They may think we're going to do a decent job getting out the vote. They may be wrong. They may think we really care about winning this election. They may be wrong. They may think we're going to make a ton of phone calls, knock on doors, drive people to the polls. They may be wrong.

Political polling is a very strange kind of analysis. You're not measuring the average size of a rock. You're measuring something much more maleable, fluid, ephemeral. You're measuring attitudes, free will. You're guessing what someone might do.

So when the pollsters say that we're winning in Ohio, it's really a vote of confidence. They're saying they think we're going to do our job and get out the vote at very high levels.

According to Nate, there's currently a 16.3% chance we won't. But that's up to us.


Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 08:27 AM PDT

This election is a tightrope walk

by Zackpunk

The numbers don't lie -- if the electorate nudges just a point or two in either direction, it could mean the difference between Obama's second term, or a president Romney. It's true that Obama is doing well in the swing states, but it wouldn't take much for that to change. The best analogy I can think of is a tightrope walk. An inch in either direction is the difference between life and death.

But the real reason why the tightrope walk is such an apt metaphor is because they are actually quite safe. It's a spectacle that plays on your emotions -- something that appears to be dangerous and harrowing, but those acrobats wouldn't be up there if they believed for one second their lives were at serious risk.

Granted, accidents happen, just as they do on construction sites, in automobiles, and anywhere. But you could spend the rest of your life observing circuses across the world and never see a tightrope walker fall.

And that's what I believe we have in this election -- a spectacle that appears to be teetering on the edge of dramatic consequences, but in reality is quite stable. That is why the polls are close in Ohio, but Nate Silver currently has Obama with a 71% chance of winning there.

As long as the tightrope walker does his job and stays focused, he'll be fine. And as long as we do the same, we'll safely guide Obama to his second term.


Just throwing it out there...

"There was a time in this country when people believed in science. We cured polio. We sent men to the moon. We were proud of science. All of us. But the Republican party today continues to denigrate science at every opportunity. Governor, when it comes to climate change, I stand with the people wearing space suits, you stand with the people wearing tinfoil hats."

"Iraq is one area where I agree with your close friend Ron Paul. And I'm glad there are some folks in your party who are making sense on this issue. Your predecessor John McCain said that if the democratic elected government of Iraq asked us to leave, we should leave. I agreed with him, and I honored that request when it came. If your position is to ignore the expressed wishes of the democratic government we helped create, then you are surrendering to the forces that oppose them."

"Shortly after I took the oath of office, I went to our foreign allies to introduce myself to the world stage and lay out our agenda. It was a strong effort, a noble effort, a diplomatic effort. But out on the campaign trail, you continue to speak derisively and dishonestly about these efforts. You call it an 'apology tour.' For saying this, the Washington Post gave you four Pinocchios. said it was totally baseless. PolitiFact rated it Pants on Fire. And yet, you continue to say it. I understand we may have disagreements on policy, I understand you have a different vision. But when it comes to world affairs, the stakes are too high, the consequence too grave, so I'm standing here tonight to ask you, please, stick to the truth, and show some respect for the office you wish to hold."

"Governor Romney, you recently said that Russia is our number one political foe, and that you plan to return to the foreign policy of thirty years ago -- to the policy of Reagan. Maybe you also want Sean Connery to play James Bond again, I don't know. But it's time to alert your campaign staff, the cold war is over. It's time to move forward."

"When it comes to China, I know you have a unique perspective, having invested heavily in companies over there. In our last debate you said you'd base a lot of domestic policy on whether or not to borrow from China. For example, every year 45,000 americans die because they don't have access to health insurance. By the way, that's like having a 9/11 attack every day for six weeks. But you suggested that wasn't a priority, that that problem should have been set aside for another year. Well Governor, when it comes to dealing with China, my priority is with the american people. Your priority is with the Chinese economy."

"Governor Romney, at the very moment Libyan rebels were attacking us with bricks and bottles, you were attacking us with Twitter. I understand you're eager to criticize my administration, but if you want to be president, you have to know when to put down your iPhone."


It's rare that I post something twice on DailyKos, but I made the mistake of putting this up at 2AM Wednesday, and it slipped by. I do think people should see it:

The claim:

"We — as president, I will sit down on day one — actually the day after I get elected, I'll sit down with leaders — the Democratic leaders as well as Republican leaders and — as we did in my state. We met every Monday for a couple hours, talked about the issues and the challenges in the — in the — in our state, in that case. We have to work on a collaborative basis — not because we're going to compromise our principle(s), but because there's common ground."

Let's take a look at Romney's collaborative efforts in Massachusetts. From the New York Times:

Mr. Romney’s struggle to tamp down resurgent opponents and secure the Republican presidential nomination, highlighted by his uneven performance on Super Tuesday, is bringing renewed focus to his sometimes awkward style and aloof manner, which have hampered his ability to connect with some voters. A review of his time as governor shows that those traits affected his relationship with another crucial constituency: the Massachusetts lawmakers he needed to pass legislation.
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