Software Quality and Catalogs

I still find it odd that I write so little about software development in my blog, as this what I do 60 or more hour per week. Maybe that is the reason, I am tired of doing and thinking about it all day that I tend not to write much about it. But anyone that knows me knows how I feel about software quality (or lack thereof) and how much I truly despise the “get it done yesterday” approach to software management.

When I was at Microsoft, we used to joke that “Quality is Job 1.1”. Sure, it was funny, and only partly true, mostly said tongue-in-cheek. When you look at the vast majority of the software that Microsoft ships, most of it is quite good. There is the occasional turd (Windows Vista), but mostly it is very good quality. Why is it good quality?

Some think Microsoft hires only the best programmers in the world. I tend to disagree here. True, they have many very, very talented programmers, but the vast majority are of the mediocre variety. The seniors lead the projects and make sure that the juniors fix their mistakes, and teach them better ways. Oversight and code and peer reviews here make all the difference. You cannot stay mediocre forever.

I don’t know what the current ratio at Microsoft is between programmers and testers. It used to be about 1-to-1 (1993), that meant, a tester who was not a programmer (at least not paid to code) was responsible for testing all of the code that a developer wrote. They were in nearly constant communication with each other and it was the testers job to find bugs and report them. Sometimes this is easy pickins, when new code is being developed quickly. Other times it becomes increasingly difficult as a project matures.

Microsoft makes a distinction between developers and designers. Every book I have ever seen on development (especially web based) also makes this clear distinction. They are not the same person. One is artistic in nature (the designer), the other very scientific (the coder). The designer likely has a background in good user interface design, graphics, usability and accessibility. The programmer likely cannot draw more than a stick figure and has never used a computer without a mouse, monitor, etc. The designer may have been educated at a well respected design school, while the coder is largely self-taught and has learned by the school of hard knocks.

So if these 2 individuals are so different, and talked about as such at great length in books and education materials, why are they so often considered to be the same person? I have NEVER worked for company, outside of Microsoft, that made this distinction. It’s as if a company expects its programmers to be able to create wonderful user experiences, gorgeous graphics, create a consistent look and feel, and make it all work. I have no doubt that those people do exist, but I also doubt just as highly that most programmers make good designers. I have been coding professionally for over 20 years, and non-professionally for many more, and cannot design a nice looking UI to save my ass. I can code it for sure, in about 10 different languages and 3 different operating systems, but I cannot design it. I do not have an artistic touch.

And why should I? I am not an artist, I am a programmer. Since when did having artistic ability become a prerequisite for a developer? If these jobs were intended to be done by one person, why are the development tools so obviously catered to two different people?

As an example, let me look at HTML, the markup language used to make web pages. First there was just HTML, a simple markup language that allowed a designer to make a simple page. By definition, it was never intended to describe how the page looked, only the content of a page. The whole idea was that a HTML page could be displayed on any computer-like device, whether it be a full blown GUI like Windows or Mac OS, a text based browser like Lynx found on UNIX systems without graphics, a telephone, whatever. It was a replacement for GOPHER and America Online’s custom page creation software.

And it worked, but only for a while. Designers just could not live without defining, in minute detail, exactly how every page should be laid out. So they added tables, frames, objects, etc. to HTML that did exactly that, allowed the layout of the page to be defined, completely breaking the original design of HTML. But they still called it HTML.

So everyone started creating real fancy HTML pages, with lots of pretty graphics and it was all beautiful. But the beauty was only skin deep. Because somewhere in the dark confines of an HTML coders office was someone breaking a cardinal rule of quality software development. Copy and Paste is NOT good code reuse. What I mean by that is that every page in a site, in order to give the site a consistent look and feel, was probably 90% of the same code of every other page. The content was different, but the look and feel was the same. To get the look and feel consistent, a ton of code was copied and pasted from other pages to create a the new page, and then just the wording and graphics were changed.

Now to an outsider you might think “so what”? And you would be right, in the eyes of a designer. A goal was achieved, the site is consistent and looks nice. In the (good) programmers eyes though you see only slop. All of that code shared between web pages using copy and paste is really annoying. If you change one page, you have to change them all. You have to open each file and change the code, a very tedious, repetitious, and error prone proposition.

So they came up with a new way, CSS. Now you would not define the look and feel in the HTML document, only the structure. A programmer would define the HTML, while a designer would define the CSS, and it would all merge in glorious web page heaven. We have come full circle, back to the original intent of HTML. Now we have a perfect world, right? Don’t we wish. CSS is implemented differently by different web browsers, Microsoft Internet Explorer does it one way, most of the rest (FireFox, Safari, Opera, etc) do it another. And somehow Internet Explorer is still the most popular browser out there, despite not being standards compliant, despite being the front door used by many virus’ and malware, despite being inferior to FireFox in almost every way.

But does that mean HTML/CSS is broken because of Microsoft? Hardly. The specification alone has a lot to do with it. First, CSS was designed to remove the layout and formatting from HTML code, so why did they let coders put CSS content directly in the HTML file? That is not separating look from content. CSS formatting can be applied in 3 places, an external file that is referenced from the HTML (the way it should be), defined (normally) at the top of an HTML file (which can compliment or override CSS read from a file), or the evil of all evils, added to HTML tags, once again completely breaking structure from layout.

From a designers standpoint, the web is wonderful. From a programmers standpoint, it is a chaotic mess. And who is to blame for the mess? The designer? The HTML/CSS spec writers? No. Programmers are responsible for the mess, and I will explain why.

Just because you can shoot yourself in the head with a Glock, does not mean it’s a good idea or that you should. Likewise, just because you can define your CSS style in your HTML pages, or worse in your HTML tags, doesn’t mean you should. Like grandma used to say “It’s just not right”. Yet that is exactly what I see being done everywhere I have ever worked, and on every web project I have worked on that I did not personally control.

Quality. That is lack of quality, pure and simple. As developers we have the best programming tools ever, they make many of our tasks almost mindless. Look at the number of really bad web programmers out there in the world making really nice looking web pages. The code is horrible, but the pages look nice. Sometimes that is just fine with companies, but it is not fine with me.

Maybe I am too old school for this stuff. I learned to write code on a computer that had 4KB of memory. That is 4 kilobytes guys, not megabytes or gigabytes. 4,096 bytes of memory, of which I could use about 3,000 to get all my work done. And I could write some pretty impressive programs in those 3KB when I was 11 years old. I was probably a better programmer then than I am right now.

After all of these years I still enjoy writing software. I do not enjoy creating web pages, or what I call Catalogs, Rouge and Lipstick, or Chrome. Being a “Web Developer” has never been on my resume, and will never be. I can program just about anything I want, operating systems, applications, network protocols, reusable tool kits, etc. But I am not a catalog creator. I don’t get my rocks off creating pretty pictures with embedded video. I like writing code, real code. Code that you don’t see, but does the work. That is my comfort zone.

And I refuse to write poor quality code just to get something done quickly. I am a firm believer it takes less time to do something right the first time, than to patch and hack it together quickly at first. I thoroughly test all of my code, every single line, and use automated testing tools to make sure that things don’t break accidentally when I make changes. I am not saying that I never create bugs, we all do, but I am skilled at finding them early, well before they ever see the light of day in production code.

I have always preached that software development is art and science. But the art in this case does not refer to pretty pictures on a web page. I am referring to creating software as an art form, something that is readable, understandable, and yes, downright pretty, if only in a programmers eyes.

I am now pushing 40 years old real hard, and have begun to question whether or not I am too old for this shit. A young development manager that I know thinks he knows everything. He never used a computer before the web, but thinks he understands quality software. He preaches about it out of one side of his mouth, while simultaneously rewarding those who just slap something together quickly for the sake of adding yet another feature to the software. Never mind they wrote 100% of the code when they could have used 90% that was already written before. Never mind that while the user interface looks pretty, the code behind it is horrible. Never mind they used tools from 10 years ago when newer and better software is available that would have cut the actual time in half, and increased code reuse 10 fold. It works and it looks pretty. That’s what makes a good programmer these days? Not in my book.

It’s as if quality really does not matter any longer, or is measured differently from how I measure it. Real programmers are scarce, though Web Programmers are plentiful. Maybe the best position for me is to develop the tools that others use. Right the real code and let the kids create pretty pictures from it. But then who will be the real programmers of tomorrow? It’s the hardcore guys that make it possible for every other mediocre coder to stay employed. What will happen when the juniors start creating the tools? Will software become even worse than it is today? Is that even possible?

This blog entry is depressing. Maybe I am the old curmudgeon telling the kids to get off my grass, I don’t know. I do know there are some great technologies maturing now that are truly incredible. The .NET platform has grown up and revolutionized how code is written and shared. Even the old school C/C++ programmer in me says, “WOW”! Silverlight is very promising, and has the potential to be the death nail of HTML, CSS and Flash. Apple’s market share is increasing (while their quality is, sadly, going down) and Mac OS X and FireFox keep Microsoft honest. I am excited by Vista’s replacement and hope to see something solid next year. The Linux guys are creating wonderful tools in both the server and desktop arenas.

So I am not sick of software development, only sick of mediocrity. I am sick of programmers that do not take pride in their work, never read the writings of those with much more experience (Code Compete anyone?), don’t separate UI from domain or business logic, think it’s perfectly fine to have SQL sprinkled all through their code, think unit testing is a waste of time, think HTML and CSS are God’s gift to web developers, and think comments in code are useless.

I am sick of not having standards, or having standards that get broken without repercussion, not having time for code reviews, not designing software before you write it, expecting programmers to be designers and their own QA, quantity over quality, and generally writing software without your brain engaged.

Maybe I should drive a truck 🙂

Today is the Most Important Day in Recent US History

We need change, we need solid leadership, we need a president that cares about the middle class. We need a man that has spent his entire life building community organizations from the ground up, someone that has not spent their entire life in Washington and selling themselves out to the special interest groups. We need a man that will restore the worlds view of the United States, who will carefully and thoughtfully pick the battles that we must fight, and end the fight we should have never started.

He must be able to restore our economy and repair the damage of the last 8 years. Restore pride in America and provide incentives to keep good jobs right here at home, though it is a sad statement to the lack of patriotism shown by many American corporations that monetary incentives must be provided in the first place.

He must be ready and willing to fix our schools and social programs, eliminate programs that do not work and fund those that do. We need a man that knows right from wrong and rules based on his own convictions and morality, not those of the church. He must not pander to big oil companies, PAC’s and other special interests. He must be intelligent, an excellent speaker, and able to convey his thoughts and ideas in a cohesive manner. We need a man that can reach across party lines to do what is right for this country, not compromise for what is convenient or easy.

We need our tax system overhauled to make it fair for everybody. And yes, how great would it be to have our first black President? I think that would be pretty cool. Imagine a president that can shoot baskets, dance, but not be able to bowl 🙂 Pretty cool, huh? I think so. If you are a racist and don’t agree with me, vote for his white half.

But even if you don’t agree with me on Obama, today is a milestone in our country. Even if you support McCain, you must get out and vote today. Failure to do so is very un-American, you are giving up a right that many have died for, a right that many in the world will never know. We should all be upset about elections decided by the Supreme Court. Elections are to be decided by us, “We The People”.

Now STOP READING THIS STUPID BLOG and get your ass to a polling station!

Ron's Response Was Equally Interesting…

Misguided, Uninformed, but Interesting 🙂 I put Ron’s email in italic, my thoughts are in red. His heart is good, and his belief in God and Jesus are without question. I will certainly never dis him on his beliefs, and he is smart and educated. I find it ironic that someone like him can be so equally ignorant of simple facts.

Wow. I didn’t know that a Roman living in 55 BC could generate such response 🙂

Here’s my problem. Principles guide everything that the man in the Whitehouse does–not the Constitution. The Constitution is our basic framework for government. It provides framework–not direction. Our elected officials provide direction.

Principles yes, religion no, certainly there is no mandate that a president be a Christian, though I still believe that Barack Obama is.

There is no doubt that Obama is Muslim–his own family has said that repeatedly! Not conservatives, not Fox News, his own family. That concerns me a great deal considering that nearly every enemy America has in the world is Muslim! I do not want our president to sit down and talk with the President of Iran. I want him to deal with them just like with dealt with Sadaam Hussien. Don’t run from bullies–deal with them head on. I don’t think that we should look for a fight, but I don’t think that we should endlessly try to talk our way out of one either. Only whimps and liberals do that.

No doubt that he is Muslim? I must not have gotten that memo. Sure, I’ve heard these allegations against him, nothing more than fabricated lies intended to scare uneducated voters. His own family has said that? When? Where? The only reference I ever saw to him being a Muslim was a grade school application completed by his step-father so he could attend a school in Indonesia. He likely would have been persecuted as a Christian, so his step-father lied to protect him. His step-father eventually became an atheist.

And, even is he were a Muslim, does that disqualify him from being President? Being a Muslim does not mean you support radical Islam, no more than saying a Christan supports the KKK. The Klan is a Christian organization, I doubt seriously that you would ever align yourself with them.

Why not talk with Iran? What does talking hurt? If they refuse to listen, then get tough. They cannot be allowed to build a nuclear bomb, under any circumstances. I don’t think Ron and I disagree much here, other than I think we talk first, fight only if talking does not work. I certainly would not be opposed to dropping a nuke in the center of Tehran to prevent them from developing their own nuclear weapons.

Regarding the economy. My gas prices are almost dipping below $2.00 per gallon. Not bad. Yes, they climbed up. But why not blame the Muslim nations of the world for sticking it to us per barrel instead of blaming a successful American company for that? I have no problem with Exxon making untold billions of dollars of profit. Why not? That’s America. If you don’t like, take the bus. Stop consuming. I don’t ever want my government telling me that they want me to be successful on one hand, then blaming me for the countries problems when I am successful! And I certainly don’t want my government to wait until I have finally worked my way to success, take MY money, and redistribute it to individuals in our country who don’t even pay federal taxes!!! That’s wrong. But that’s what happens when we are guided by the principles of those are a socialists (i.e. Obama).

I absolutely do blame the Muslin nations for the high crude prices. And I don’t have a problem with Exxon making a substantial profit either. What I do have a problem with is that the more they pay for crude oil, the more profit they make. They markup of gasoline is based on a percentage of the cost of barrel of crude, not by a dollar amount per barrel. So, the more they pay for crude, the more profit they make. I don’t inherently have a problem with this either, but only to a point. When the prices are so high that you are sucking the American economy dry and damn near forcing huge companies that employ hundreds of thousands of Americans out of business, that is just greed, pure and simple. There are not enough oil companies, they can collectively act like a monopoly. And they get huge tax breaks for conducting business like this.

What the McCain camp is calling socialism is far from it. Bailing out the big banks and other financial institutions is far closer to socialism than anything Obama has said. Everyone in this country, individual or corporation, must pay their share. It’s simple taxes really, a very Roman idea. But the problem is that many do not. Taxes are structured such that big corporations and the very rich can easily find loopholes to avoid paying their share. The middle-class is who ultimately picks up the tab for this. What Obama is proposing is NOT redistribution of wealth at all, it is simply a plan to close loopholes and make the tax system more fair for everyone. Yes, that includes a middle-class tax break, just like McCain’s plan. But it is huge tax increase to those that have dodged paying taxes for years, and that sounds totally and completely fair to me.

Regarding Ford and GM, I say let them go under. That’s how America works. If you run your company intelligently and have a product that others want, then you will do well. If not, you go under. Do you think that the government should come along and bail out every business that is on the brink of going under? That’s simply not possible and shouldn’t be done even if it were. Mark my word, if Ford and GM go under, there will be a new American company out there within a year that can and will compete with our world market. Our ability to produce quality is of legend in the rest of the world. Nobody in the world works harder than Americans.

I most respects, I agree with Ron here. GM and Ford need to make products that Americans want to buy, and foreigners too for that matter. They are hurting now because they are not making what we want to buy, and are too slow and bloated to change quickly. Where I think Ron is misguided here is the economic impact to all Americans if one or both of these companies goes under. Ok, so they have screwed up and are in quite a pickle right now. But should a mistake by a handful of overpaid and under worked executives be allowed to punish all of the hard-working employees of these companies? What about the thousands of companies that are in business solely to serve GM and Ford? The economic impact of losing companies like this is unimaginable and unprecedented in US history. The Republicans are quick to say a company like this deserves to go out of business. I agree 100%, but there are always exceptions. If there weren’t, why is the government spending $840 billion right now to save AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and others? It’s for the reason I stated above, the economic impact of inaction is too far reaching. Yes, that is socialism, which is apparently ok sometimes when capitalism is ruined by greed.

Back to principles. I think that who you associate with speaks volumes about your character. From Rev. Write, to Ayers, and now a spokesman for the PLO. Then to couple that with the fact that his own wife said, “For the first time in my adult life, I’m proud to be an American.” What!!!!!! That in and of itself is enough to lose my vote. The Bible says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” That simply means that whatever is on the inside will come out sooner or later. She did not mis-speak. She said what was on her heart. In America, she has that privilege. But I also have the right to keep her from influencing my president!!

Rev. Wright is a CHRISTIAN PASTOR, just like you Ron. Well, ok, not exactly like you, but a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ nonetheless. He may also be a racist, and certainly his comments and preachings speak to that. But his background and upbringing is far different from what you and I experienced growing up. We did not grow up as poor black kids on the south side of Chicago before and during the civil rights movement. Now I am not justifying any hate speech, so don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t put him anywhere near the class of people such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But he is still free to preach and speak his mind, just like you are. I am sure tomorrow you will preach to your flock about the upcoming election. You may call Obama a Muslim, a socialist, a baby-killer. I don’t know what you have planned, but to those who think Obama is exactly what this country needs right now, I am sure your sermon could also be construed as a hate speech, though I know that is not your intention. And I am sure there is some part of your congregation that is planning to support Obama. I am quite certain Jesus was neither a Republican or Democrat.

As for Michelle Obama. I heard what she said, and yes, I did not like it either. But I have also heard her speak to length about her beliefs, views, and faith in Barack. She said she mis-spoke, I tend to give her the benefit of the doubt. Who hasn’t said something they wished they hadn’t?

Regarding Roe v. Wade. It’s legal for now. It was poor law then and it’s poor law today. The reality is that Obama said that the the very first thing that he would do if elected is to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That legislation will remove any and all state level restrictions to abortion. No parental notification, no waiting period, nothing. It doesn’t reduce abortion–it provides an express lane! That law can be changed with the appointment of ONE Supreme Court Justice. Oddly enough, the next president will probably nominate TWO. That has the ability to radically transform our nation. Again, principle is everything. Obama is absolutely, overwhelmingly wrong for America. An Obama presidency will spiral this country out of control financially, morally and legislatively.

Like I said, not worth fighting over. There are 3 sides to this, Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, and ENOUGH ALREADY. I am squarely in the Enough Already crowd. Nobody is Pro-Abortion, that would be sick. I am not familiar with Obama’s Freedom of Choice Act, so I cannot comment on that. I will assume what you say is true. This is one of those issues that cannot be won, people of both thoughts will never change their mind. We have to agree to disagree on abortion and look to find better alternatives, including education, better adoption systems, teaching of morals to our children, etc. The law is the law. If we as a country want to vote on this every 20 years, fine. Otherwise, the money, time and effort spent fighting this battle on both sides is a tremendous waste.

As for Obama spiralling the country out of control financially. Really? Seriously? What do you call the mess we have right now? Did Barack have anything to do with that? Nope, that was all Bush, and the policies and changes that were put in place during his time in office.

As a great theologian once said, “Beware of the darkside!”–Yoda, Star Wars.

You know what’s funny? Here I am a computer geek and I still have not seen Star Wars! I have seen 1/2 the movie about 10 times, but have never seen the whole thing.

Hopefully, the message Sunday will be uploaded by 2:00 p.m. or so. It is our first time to attempt this. We ran through some practice uploads, but had difficulty compressing the video so that it didn’t take 5 hours to upload. I think that we have it worked out now. Guess we’ll see. The audio will be up and running almost immediately.

I look forward to watching it. Compressing video is as much art as science, and quite honestly, a major pain in the butt. I usually cuss at my computer a lot when doing video compression. I haven’t tried prayer yet, guess that could work for you 🙂

Love you guys–all moderate, don’t stand for anything, blow according to the wind, and move by infomercials that you are 🙂

Hehe, I take that as a compliment 🙂 I still consider myself a Republican, just not of the McCain variety. I have gotten more liberal as I have gotten older, I realize that. But I think it’s as much becoming more tolerant and maturing, as well as understanding more about how the world works and should and could work that has changed my beliefs.

My morals have never been based in religion, but you and I share a common set I am quite certain, via blood, family, and upbringing. You are a good man, and I know that. A good father, a good husband, and a great preacher. Even as an agnostic, I enjoy hearing you preach. You are inspirational, uplifting, and intelligent. You manage to speak to the heart in a way few preachers can. I would likely attend your church myself if you were here, you know, in purgatory 🙂

My beliefs, or lack of, are not pushed on my children. They do not know that I am agnostic, and they attend church often, though not regularly. When they ask me about God or Jesus, I share with them what I know, which is not a lot, just the basics. I tend to look at the bible as a story, not history, and relate what I can without them knowing that I don’t believe it. A true agnostic cannot preach or teach their children one way or the other, I must allow free will to take its course and allow them to choose what they believe is right.

They certainly do know who I support for President, the Obama/Biden sign is proudly displayed in my front ya

rd, and Obama 2008 bumper stickers are on both trucks. Delaney likes McCain, she is the only hold-out. And I support her 100% in her choice of McCain, and have never tried to sway her. She went with us to an Obama rally in February, and was unimpressed 🙂 I was hoping that John McCain would also visit Madison so I could take her to see him as well, but he never came here. I think he knew Madison was a lost cause for him, there is a lot of super-left wing bleeding heart liberal types in Madison.

I do hope that you give Obama a fair shake. Even John McCain admits that Barack is a good and decent man and that there is nothing to fear in an Obama presidency. The rest of the country will speak on Tuesday, and I am looking forward to a major celebration Tuesday night when we all realize that the man that we NEED right now for president was just elected to the position.

A Letter to Ron

My cousin Ron is a Southern Baptist preacher, and a fine one at that. He wrote me an email this morning that I could not agree with more…

The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.
— Cicero, 55 BC

So I started to write him back. Then it got long, real long, and finally I gave up 🙂 But here is my response, and my basic take on the election Tuesday.

And Cicero was right. When Bill Clinton left office we had a $123 billion dollar annual surplus. We had a huge debt of course, but the federal government took in more money than it spent. We had about $4.3 trillion in debt at the start of 2000.

Bush, even though a republican, has run up the national debt to $10 trillion dollars in 8 years. And that is not due to interest, though a part of it is. It is mostly due to the fact that the government has spent far more than it took in the entire 8 years Bush was in office.

And I always thought republicans were supposed to be the fiscally responsible party, and the dems were supposed to spend, spend, spend. It sure hasn’t been that way under Bush.

I voted for Bush, twice. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do. I like how he handled 9/11, and have always supported (and still do) the invasion of Afghanistan following it. I supported going into Iraq based on the information we were given at the time, but now think that Bush knew all along that there was no justifiable reason to go to war with Iraq. Yes, I think he flat out lied to us and we should all be pissed off about that, republicans or democrats.

But my vote this election is not really based on any of these things. John McCain is a good and decent man, I have no doubt about that. I just believe Barack is a better man, a more decent man, and the type of person we need in office right now. We need some young blood in Washington, someone that has not spent a lifetime there. We need someone that has proven time and again that people are far more important to him than money or job title. Obama has spent his entire life working in community and political organizations with little monetary gain, even though with his credentials he could have been making some serious bucks.

Obama is a Christian, but that does not dictate how he will lead. I know you would like to see a president that leads by his moral belief and teachings of the bible, and I respect that. I don’t agree with it, but I do respect it. I would rather have a president that actually leads this country based on the Constitution, and I doubt anyone in government knows and understands the US Constitution better than Barack Obama.

Leadership based on the Constitution includes separation of church and state, and I believe extends to separation of church FROM state. Not every citizen of this country is a Christan. We have Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Scientologists, and every other religion known to man living here. And some good Americans are atheist and many more, like me, are agnostic. It is perfectly fine for a US president to have strong religious convictions, but those must remain personal to him, this country is not ruled by religious law. The ones that are appear on the State Departments Travel Warnings list, or the Axis of Evil. We must be better than them.

The way other countries view the US must change. We must be respected again abroad for all the good that we do in the world. We cannot be the worlds police, and always sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong serves nobody.

We need to get out of Iraq and let them govern themselves. They will likely never be a democracy, nor look anything like the United States. They will continue to be governed by Islamic law, and as long as they don’t harm us or our allies, they should be left alone.

Our efforts should be concentrated on Afghanistan for right now, specifically Taliban and Al-Quida. They must be crushed, because they have attacked us, in their typically cowardly way. Iran must be watched, same for North Korea and Venezuela. I am all for a strong military and support military action when justified. We just have to pick our battles much better than we have in the past 8 years.

I see in Bush the same flaw that I saw in his father, the reason I also voted for Bill Clinton, twice. His head is so far outside this country that he seldom looks in to see what is happening right in his own backyard. Our economy is a mess, big banks and financial corporation are collapsing due to greed, and now the US government is going to bail them out. They will do this with money we DO NOT have, and do you think anyone will ever be held accountable for the mess? I don’t. And the republicans are accusing Obama of being a socialist? Exactly what do they call this?

Did we ever think and oil man from Texas would ever do anything to curtail rising gas prices and record profits by the oil companies? Trace the cost of gasoline to all the other industries that are now hurting and the damage is truly amazing. Our food prices have gone way up, air travel is so expensive (and annoying) that airlines are hurting, Ford and Chevy cannot sell a truck and factories are closing down. Exxon is posting record profits while GM and Ford are trying to figure out how they are going to survive.

On the environmental front, Bush barely acknowledges that global warming exists, certainly not recognizing it as a serious and potentially catastrophic problem. Now I can hardly be accused of being a tree-hugger, so I am not really in a position to cast stones here. I quite happily drive my Ford F-150 and Ford Explorer all over the place, even though they get pretty dismal gas mileage. I still feel like a better American sitting at a stop sign next to a Toyota Prius. I may be burning more gas, but at least my ass is inside an American made truck! So I am part of the problem (we all are), but I am doing things to change as well. I am not going to give up my truck, but I do use CF light bulbs throughout my house, and try to cut the power to things when not in use.

My point here is that I don’t know a lot about the problem, and barely understand the affect of inaction. I do know that the US needs to change drastically, and the leaders on the environmental front come from the democratic party.

The conservatives keep hounding about Roe V. Wade, gay marriage, and Obama’s ties to Ayers. Ok, 1 out of 3 of those may be worth fighting over, but seriously… Who really gives a damn if homosexuals marry each other, if you are straight like us it does not have any bearing on our lives. Personally, the republican side of me says that I don’t believe gays should be allowed to marry, that is just my view. But I don’t think it’s worth 1 minute of fighting over when we are facing the problems that we are right now. Ayers? Seriously, is that McCain’s only talking point? A guy Obama met a few times, it’s not like they were buddies or Ayers is up for a cabinet position. Pretty lame talking point, and only serves to hurt McCain more, though they don’t realize that.

Roe V. Wade was decided decades ago. It’s done, over with, let it sleep. Nobody is Pro-Abortion and I think everyone can agree that the need for abortion should be curtailed, through education and public programs. But it’s legal, and there is no point arguing about something that is legal in this country. It is not up for the courts to re-rule on this every time a new justice is sworn in.

Ok, I could go on forever, but I am just tired of typing… 🙂

I love you guys, all bible-thumping, right-wing conservative, preaching and moral high ground takers that you are 🙂

Love Todd”