Jim Varagona

Category: Politics

About That Photo of Ted Cruz and Fidel Castro

I follow many active liberal folks on Twitter. It can be great to share links to articles and ideas that we share. That kind of thing can also be a bit hairy when people don’t look into sources and blindly post items. I’m sure I am even guilty of it on occasion in this culture of immediacy.

Something I see a lot of though, is this photo of Ted Cruz and Fidel Castro.

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To me, it is obviously Photoshopped. I think people that post it want it to be real to rile up his followers. I easily did a Google image search to see that there were even worse Photoshop jobs of George W. Bush and Fidel of the same image.

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In reality, the original image was of Nong Duc Manh, the Vietnamese Communist Party chief and Fidel in June of 2007. See a news piece from the time here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1553577/Castro-could-soon-resume-power-in-Cuba.html.

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Whoever messed with the photo did a flip of the image and added the head. See flipped below.

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Yes, the images are funny. We risk not being taken seriously though when some people sharing the images accept them as real and pass them off as such. It’s like like when we see others passing off pieces from The Onion and The Daily Currant, two known satirical web sites, as real. It may seem silly but it’s dangerous, just as people that watch Fox News believe all they are presented on there without looking further. So bookmark this, and if someone is passing around that Cruz and Castro photo, share this and get back to attacking those we disagree with by using facts and substance.

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>The Birth of DMV

>Blogging has not been my priority as of late. That seems to have bothered some folks.

Reading those comments on my previous posting wishing for my death and stating “WOW 2 blogs in 3 months. You are fucking pathetic. Fuck you.“, made me laugh and wonder who out there cares for me so much that they monitor my blog output. I appreciate it. I also encourage readers to check out “Anonymity opens up split personality zone”, a great article I recently read about how some can be so uncouth on the Information Superhighway, especially considering they do not have to identify themselves.

As the world’s economy crumbles and people lose themselves on the Internet, I am experiencing many new life events. As my wife and I moved into our new home this past week, our son, in the womb for over 35 weeks, decided it would be a swell time to get out into the world. As of yesterday morning, I am a home owner and a father. These are scary and exciting times.

We named our new family member Dylan Matthew after two of my heroes, Bob Dylan and my brother Matt. I don’t expect my son to love Bob Dylan as much as I do, but rather to respect his two namesakes as two unique individuals that spoke their mind through poetry, song, humor, and sheer bluntness. I hope to raise my son to be an honest and upfront individual. It may cause one trouble, but in the end, it is a more respectable approach to take.

I appreciate political discourse, as long as it is intelligent. Tell me your position, but give me some meat with it. Help me understand your views, even if I disagree with each and every bullet point. I think it is more honorable to be able to back yourself up rather than make blanket statements. Some say avoid political and religious conversation. Why avoid any kind of tension? Get it all out there as long as you can give a basis to your belief system. Don’t vote one way because your parents do or decide on a position based on a 30 second advertisement that may not have an ounce of truth. Don’t say you won’t be voting because of your options. There are more than left and right. There is more to a candidate than his or her position on gay marriage or abortion.

I’m not sure how many tangents I’m going on, but it all makes sense. As my son enters this world that is full of the most uncertainty I have seen in my life, I only hope that he can be strong, speak his mind, and make an impact. I don’t expect it to be anything huge, but I want my son to be true, no matter how others feel about it or react to it. I don’t see these as high expectations, but in this world of convenience and low expectations, who knows?

Dylan will grow up in changing times, whether we vote for it or not. We are at war on multiple fronts and our economy is entering a recession or depression or whatever label is convenient during tomorrow’s news cycle. I fear the future and where we could end up, but I am hopeful and excited about what my son will see and experience. I will do my best to do my part and hope that he will do his, even if that simply means feeding me pureed sweet potatoes in my old age.

>Jesus Obama

>Considering where our country is at this point and where it’s headed, we may need a savior to save us from Bush the antichrist. Could Barack Obama be just that? The nature of his candidacy is of change and redemption from this path we are on. So the recent depiction of Obama as Christ by a college student in Chicago, entitled “Blessing” makes a bit of symbolic sense, but obviously is expected to ruffle some feathers. Folks should lighten up. It’s art, right?


The man who represents the change that Bobby Kennedy represented in his candidacy in ’68 has also inspired some interesting t-shirts that push the envelope a bit, but maybe not as much as Jesus Obama.

>Now Taking Pictures of Cloned Babies from Election Day

>Forgive me father, it has been over a week since my last blog.

The thing is that I found new employment since ditching the automobile classified photography business. Now, instead of traveling around the area getting photos of cars, I have moved on to in-home photography of infants and toddlers. It still involves quite a bit of driving to get to customers’ homes, but photographing children is more challenging and enjoyable than snapping pictures of cars, trucks, boats, and RV’s.

I must say this is closer to my goal of actually having a job relating to my Bachelors Degree in Media Communications. That looked hopeless during my days in the Italian Retail Service.

In other news, I fulfilled my duties of guarding and troubleshooting the electronic voting machines on Election Day. I understand now why this country has so many issues with the validity of elections. I felt very competent in my role, which I aced every examination for during training. It was very disconcerting though to see that anyone that applies to help with the elections is pretty much accepted. I know we all have a duty to serve in whatever capacity we can to be true patriots, but this is ridiculous. The written exam which determines whether or not one could go on to be in charge of these machines at a location was around 60 written questions. To pass, you only needed 60% correct. I think this helps explain why some precincts have a hard time reporting on time.

Not only were the tech positions filled this way, which I feel is a very important role throughout the day, the other poll workers don’t seem to be scrutinized much. For the first hour and a half, during the biggest rush of our day at my site, one of the precincts had a woman with moderate Alzheimer’s handling the looking up of names in the register. I don’t blame her, because she was doing her best to help, but someone should have recognized her ability level sooner. After she was pulled from that post at 7:30 AM, she asked me what time it was. I told her and she was shocked that it was so late. She thought it was already 12 hours later, and that we were going to go home. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I later hung out with this woman as she stood by the large machine that accepts the optical scan ballots. She helped folks slip their ballots in the shredder looking machine and proceeded to clap and cheer for them. This is how we replaced the fact that our city wasn’t giving out “I Voted” stickers this year. A couple of people were really irked that she was standing right next to the machine, considering it an invasion of privacy. If they took it any further than mumbles under their breath, I planned to tell them that even if she wanted to see their votes, she wouldn’t remember it later. She was a sweet woman, about 90 years old. She told me the same story 10 times about her family and her current living situation. We also chatted about how girls in schools these days like to have their breasts hanging out of their shirts and that she thinks that is reason enough for uniforms. “Everything’s all about sex”, she explained to me, “that’s why they have so much AIDS in Africa.”

Listening to my new elderly female friend, I realized something. She made sense a lot of the time, but then she would get confused and repeat herself, sometimes completely. Sometimes she made no sense at all. It summed up my experience that day. This system means well, I’m almost sure. The thing is that if the workers at the polls continue to be an aging crowd, not many will know what is going on. They all mean well. More emphasis should be put on recruiting of these temporary workers, especially on college campuses to get younger people involved that have experience with the technology that helps us vote. We can all learn something from eachother, no matter what age, race, or belief system. This is another example.

After I got home from the day at the polls, I passed out to the news that Claire McCaskill was trailing Jim Talent by over 10 points here in Missouri and our Amendment 2 that Michael J. Fox helped promote was losing as well. It didn’t look good. Then a funny thing happened on the way to further Republican domination…

I woke up about 3 hours later to hear McCaskill giving her victory speech. Amendment 2 was leading by a slim margin with more votes to count. The Democrats had gained the upper hand in the House and were too close to call in the Senate, because of Montana and Virginia (which both later went blue to win the Senate). It was as if Santa had paid a visit during my slumber.

I know that this doesn’t mean the world is saved from our downward spiral, but now there’s a bit more hope. And it doesn’t hurt that silly Republicans think the Dems will now go on baby killing sprees, clone armies of mutant children, impeach the evil Emperor Bush, tax every penny they make, spend, or hoard, and let Michael Moore live.

MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

>Responding to Responses

>Man, don’t you hate when you go two weeks between blogs. My last posting about my personal opinion about embryonic stem cell research really touched some nerves. While I appreciate Maire‘s opinion, I have to say that her two main points didn’t do much for me or fellow diabeto, Mr. Momarsh.

The violence against women argument doesn’t do much for me. For an argument coming from feminist groups, it doesn’t say much about females if you say that they are completely susceptible to offers to buy their eggs. Why is it so wrong for offers like that to be made on the backs of our alternative weekly papers or on college campuses? People do desperate things for money, but at the same time, it must be their own responsibility to research the pros and cons of the procedure. It only makes sense for something that pays $2,000-$10,000 to look into things. And besides, this legislation bans buying or selling eggs for the purpose of obtaining cells.

I agree that SCNT is cloning. My argument is that feeding it to the general public in 30 second ads doesn’t give them much background, and as much as listing a web address is giving background information, I don’t think a lot of people actually take the time to read those partisan informational sources and consequently any opposing or bipartisan sources. I think when folks hear cloning, they think of Dolly in human form. Now, Dolly was conceived through SCNT, but the process is not taken any further than the blastocyst stage when extracting embryonic stem cells, which I don’t think is really explained thoroughly by either side too much. By creating a blastocyst from my adult stem cells and an unfertilized egg, the idea is that it is an extension of me to heal me.

I must also emphasize that SCNT is a very small part of the current initiative being voted on in Missouri. The process hasn’t progressed very far anyway to be a viable option anytime soon. The main point in my mind is to make use of the cells in embryos that are thrown out from fertility clinics and from abortion. Keep in mind that this is all legal already, but not federally funded. The most important passage from the initiative states it will “prohibit state or local governments from preventing or discouraging lawful stem cell research, therapies and cures”. I would think that by making this an amendment to the state’s constitution, it would help clarify the issue. While Maire states that the researchers she works with do not like the idea of this as an amendment, I have seen plenty of researchers on the other side as well, which only show how divisive this issue is.

The issue will continue to spark debate well after it is voted on because I am sure other states will follow with similar measures. It would be helpful to list more factual information in the ads and to inform anyone involved in any related process of the full scope of what is involved.

On a larger scale, I wish there was a check and balance system in political advertising to lessen the back and forth of he said, she said. There should be a bipartisan board made up of equal numbers of folks from the various parties, including the “others”, that review each ad before it is run and release it to the public only after its claims are verified. I realize there are groups now that have ad watches in effect, but it should have to be done before the ads are aired instead of questioning them after folks are basing decisions on the information in those ads. I think it would cut down on campaign spending and wasting by negating the need to respond to every ad by the other side and simply state your case instead.

That’s a dream though. Politics don’t work that way in America, and it’s a shame.

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>For Those Against Stem Cell Research

>For those that question stem cell research, tell your family, friends, and co-workers with diseases that could benefit, that their quality of life means nothing to you. No babies are being killed for these cells. They come from otherwise “discarded” embryos.

The current Conservative administration has not outlawed abortion, so it will occur. I don’t think more women will abort for the purpose of furthering stem cell research, so until someone repeals Roe V. Wade, why not make something good of something you find despicable.

And yet other cells come from embryos stored by couples at fertility clinics. Once they get pregnant, or reach a desired goal, the rest of their stored embryos are thrown out at some point. So until someone decides to save all of these discarded embryos and make a commune of discarded humans from them, I say help find cures from the cells, which were taken from the woman with her consent, so don’t throw in a violence towards women debate here.

Opponents of my opinion have said that you can get the same benefit from adult stem cells, but adult stem cells can’t transform into any cell, which embryonic cells have the ability to do, no matter what part of the body they’re from.

As far as cloning goes, I have yet to see any scientific document from an American scientific publication that states this will lead to the cloning of humans. Now there is SCNT (Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer), which is labeled as cloning by the opponents (the link is to what I consider to be a funny, yet blunt domain for the opponents…http://www.nocloning.org/). It is therapeautic cloning, which differenciates from reproductive cloning, what people generally think of when it comes to cloning.

In SCNT, the nucleus of an unfertilized egg is replaced with the nucleus of an adult somatic cell. The egg evolves into a blastocyst, which is one of the earliest stages of an embryo, with about 100-200 cells. Compare that to an adult human with over 10 trillion cells. Once at that stage, the stem cells are taken and may be transplanted back to the patient with no danger of rejection, since they are an identical match. Maybe in that case, the adult stem cells could provide the same benefit, by creating embryonic stem cells.

Reproductive cloning would involve taking that blastocyst and continuing to help it along until it can exist outside of the body, but the chances of a healthy embryo coming from SCNT are still small.

I’m sure everyone knows of somebody that has died with a disease that could be helped with this research. And cures may not happen right away. What in science does without years of research? Whose to say that those folks and those with those diseases now do not deserve a better quality of life? If you are against that, then you are inhumane.

I myself have Diabetes and know others with it as well. It would be great to live without multiple shots in a day or a device connected to my body at all times in order to live. It would be great to not have to bleed everyday to better control my blood sugar. A life without messing up one insulin calculation and suffering with a seizure or being nauseated for days sounds really nice. And I’m sure Michael J. Fox would love to simply sit still. And Christopher Reeve would have enjoyed walking again or simply to live another day, but since you are humane people, we must deny people what may be available to us through science.

That makes as much sense as a war in a country that had nothing to do with killing our people and only takes more of our people’s lives, especially considering that our tax money could be going towards saving lives instead of killing our boys and innocent Iraqis, not to mention it has more factual evedience backing it than the reasoning for that war. It’s a shame that the President used the only veto of his tenure to prevent more lines of cells to be backed by federal funding. It only shows his continued ignorance. This whole debate may be based on an idea that doesn’t have many years of research behind it, but the possibilities are backed by fact. This would require a bit of hope on our part, but as Michael J. Fox said when in St. Louis on October 5, “You can’t quantify hope. And I’ll come down on the side of hope every time.”

Missouri, the state I have lived in all of my life, will be voting on this issue. This is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

All eyes will be on Missouri for the Nov. 7 vote, the first of its kind in
the nation. Some say the outcome could provide clues on national voter sentiment
on a contentious political divide, perhaps spawning similar referendums in other
states. To this point, the legislative battle has largely been confined to
Congress and state general assemblies. In the case of Illinois and a handful of
other states, lawmakers have backed embryonic stem-cell research with state
funding.

The measure seeks to ensure that any forms of stem-cell research that are
legal under federal law also would be legal in Missouri.But voters are being
asked to do more than simply preserve the status quo. The measure would negate
the state Legislature’s ability to ban certain forms of controversial research,
such as those involving cloning technology.

Once again, it’s this cloning technology that scares people away, but I urge folks to look beyond the word “cloning” to see that it isn’t bringing cloned humans into the world. Cloning technology is used in the world today to bring people like me our insulin. A lot of biotechnology today involves “cloning technology”, but this involves human cells, so it creates the idea of creating humans. When used in SCNT, I believe an extension of the person is being used to save them. For it is their own adult stem cells that are being used in the process to prevent rejection. And while some would say that the blastocyst is a child being murdered, I would say you’ve gone too far. It’s amazing that the anti-abortion movement doesn’t stand up for the lives of those with these diseases, those fighting in wars, and those innocents our country kills in war. It’s a bit of a double standard if you ask me.

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>”How Dare you, Mr. President…”

>As a follow up to my post from yesterday (9/11 To Me, and the American Crutch of Stupidity and Convenience), I am posting some materials that have come out in the past day that also reflect my feelings.

Last night, on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Keith addressed the administration with obvious emotion. I’m sure it will be labeled as part of the conspiracy of the liberal media, but if you’d like to label it that way, at least you have a Republican controlled government. Here is the video from last night (and transcript):

Howard Zinn, writer of A People’s History of the United States, offered this commentary about a week ago about current events:

War is not a solution for terrorism …By Howard
Zinn

THERE IS SOMETHING important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.

The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.

I remember John Hersey’s novel, “The War Lover,” in which a macho
American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his
sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent.

The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations — the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan — and were forced to withdraw.

Even the “victories” of great military powers turn out to be elusive. Presumably, after attacking and invading Afghanistan, the president was able to declare that the Taliban were defeated. But more than four years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country.

The two most powerful nations after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, with all their military might, have not been able to control events in countries that they considered to be in their sphere of influence — the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the United States in Latin America.

Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a “war on terrorism” is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations, whether by the United States or Israel, are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are.

The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.

This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a “suspected terrorist” is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is “inevitable.”

So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in “accidental” events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism.

For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by “accident.” Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll.

If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism, including the terrorism of war. And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, may have to reconsider their policies.

I only hope that others feel this passionately during these times and challenge what we are fed as the truth.

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>Iraq War Blues

>The following is a song I wrote last year about the war in Iraq, which will never end. I just dug it up and thought I’d share it. It is obviously influenced by Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and Johnny Cash.

The Iraq War Blues
A couple of years ago
and a few days before
someone got the idea to go to war
freedom for these men
by killin’ some of those men
who do we kill first?
women and children

All these bombs flyin’ through the air
some of ’em goin’ to we don’t know where
all because he hate me
who? I don’t know
why? I ain’t sure
shock and awe ’em
that’ll be the cure

We’ll send our boys over to here and there
to fight an enemy that’s everywhere
Iraqis, Afghanis,
Shi’ite..I don’t know
mission accomplished
let’s take it real slow
people are dyin’
but our way’s the way to go

Fahrenheit nine one one
everybody grab a gun
and some duct tape
and a can opener
code yellow
code orange
code red
get it through your head
a Dick and a Bush are callin’ the shots
We’re in good hands
like Allstate

We’ll they’re doin’ it now
and they’ll do it again
the fleecing of America
plucking from our mother hen
so send some more of our boys over
and send some bodybags back
just don’t take pictures of their coffins

I’m gettin’ tired now
I’m gonna not vote
I love my country

copyright 2005-2006 Jim Varagona


Additional Links

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