Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Independent Weekly: With trembling fingers 

This is the most powerful and eloquent critique I've read yet of GW Bush.

Killer excerpt (italics mine):

I don't think it's accurate to describe America as polarized between Democrats and Republicans, or between liberals and conservatives. It's polarized between the people who believe George Bush and the people who do not. Thanks to some contested ballots in a state governed by the president's brother, a once-proud country has been delivered into the hands of liars, thugs, bullies, fanatics and thieves. The world pities or despises us, even as it fears us. What this election will test is the power of money and media to fool us, to obscure the truth and alter the obvious, to hide a great crime against the public trust under a blood-soaked flag.

(via Pandagon, via Politics and War)

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Do I Have "Sucker" Written On My Forehead? 

In the past two days, I have had two attempts at what can only be called fraud sent to my email account. One claiming to be from eBay looking to update my account - all they needed was my login and password, and one claiming to be from Fleet Bank (a bank, I need to add, with which I have no relationship whatsoever) asking for my debit account number, expiration date, and PIN.

Being the dutiful Boy Scout I am, I decided to do my part to track down the perpetrators of these two really lame scams. I had mixed results.

eBay: I went to their support page, and was able to very easily find an address where I could forward the entire offending email, headers and all, for their further investigative use. After doing so, I received not one but two emails within the next 20 minutes; the first explaining that my email had been received and the second advising that I was indeed the target of an attempted scam, with instructions as to what to do if I had foolishly divulged any account information to the perpetrators. Assured they had the matter well in hand, I moved on to a large banking conglomerate, which one would think would have in place a method for dealing with this sort of thing as well.

Fleet: ...I was mistaken. I went to Fleet's website, and after clicking on the link advising users about email scams (fairness: this was in a prominent position on the front page), after the obligatory DON'T GIVE THEM ANYTHING warning, along with a link to click on if I had divulged any private info, I was advised to call a 1-800 number to report the incident. So I did. The voicemail system didn't provide a clear method to report an incident like this, so I went for good old '0' for an operator. After reclassifying my call as "none of the above", I finally talked to a very nice lady who asked me for my account number. I explained my situation, and asked to be directed to the fraud department. She informed me that there was no such thing. While a bit taken aback that a bank didn't have a fraud department, I pressed on: "Can I forward this to someone who can track the senders down?" I asked. No - she informed me, but she would be happy to get the details of the email and send them to her supervisor. So I ran down the contents of the email with her, including the text of the link the scammer included, and the actual address it linked to. She took down all of this information (I assume) and assured me that she'd get it to someone with more authority than her.

When comparing a dot-com business vs. an "old" economy powerhouse, who is better equipped to handle modern-day fraud? The answer, not surprisingly, is the "new" economy whipper-snapper, eBay. I give Fleet credit for trying to adapt and having people work the phones through the night (which I'm sure eBay doesn't have at 11:30PM), but for this sort of problem, eBay definitely shined. Maybe calls like mine will prompt Fleet to move into the new world of customer service.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Media does matter 

In case you didn't know (and if you're not a political junkie like me, chances are you didn't), David Brock, the former right-wing muckraker behind many of the anti-Clinton "scandals"/fabrications of the American Spectator in the 1990s, has set up a media criticism site which looks primarily at the conservative media from a leftist viewpoint.

You see, somewhere amidst the constant slime being flung at Clinton during his presidency (much of it originating with Mr. Brock), Brock decided that the people he was associating with didn't care about what the truth was, or even about the effect that what they were doing had on the country. They were only interested in one thing - winning at any cost. So he left. Afterwards, he published his own account (Blinded by the Right)of his time as a cog in the right-wing smear machine. This site is the next step in his full repudiation of his former self and associates.

His latest target is Rush Limbaugh's comparison of the Iraqi prison torture to a frat hazing, among other things. He's even going to run a commercial contrasting Rumsfeld's testimony ("fundamentally un-American") with Rush's ("You ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of needing to blow some steam off?")

I know it isn't news that Rush is an insensitive windbag who remains on the air only because the rubes who take him seriously vote Republican (and by Damp-Rid and the various baldness cures and get rich quick schemes advertised on his show), but rarely is his tendency to minimize anything which could hurt someone with an (R) after their name on display so clearly.

Check out the rest of the site too (www.mediamatters.org) - he's doing good work since he saw the light.

Friday, May 07, 2004

For Everybody Who's Down on Kerry 

I found this op-ed a good read.

It points out that Kerry's been fairly consistent on Iraq - it's Bush who's moved from unyielding unilateralism to acknowledging that maybe the UN isn't as useless as he insisted it was before giving the rest of the world the finger and doing what he damn well pleased in Iraq.

The considerable irony here is that Kerry has maintained the same position on the war since he voted to authorize our intervention back in the fall of 2002: in favor of ousting Saddam Hussein but insisting we needed the backing and aegis of the United Nations and NATO to have the troop strength and legitimacy required to rebuild the nation. The flip-flopper on Iraq has been George W. Bush, who was single-minded when it came to getting Hussein but whose views on controlling postwar Iraq have gone from a truculent unilateralism to a Kerry-esque acknowledgement that we need the United Nations to run the place until an Iraqi government can assume sovereignty.

(from the Washington Post)

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