‘Land of the Free??’

2008: Year of the Banned

In a truly free society, people acknowledge that while they personally would not do something/do not like others to do it, they should still have the freedom to.

 
Or, in the words of The American President:

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.

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Local Issues: City of Albany v Freedom: Cell Phone Bans

OK, first off I am going to give a hardy compliment to the local news media here in Albany. This blog centers around an event that happened probably around 7pm last night – barely 11 hours ago- that I read about in an article on the local paper’s website that was on said website at some point before 4:30am, when I first looked at the site this morning. That is very impressive to me, and they are doing a great job insofar as getting the news out fast.

Here is the article in question. In it, it notes that last night at its work session, local resident David Hewett asked the Albany City Commission to ban all cell phone usage while driving.

Evidently, about a month ago Mr. Hewett’s wife was struck by a car. When the driver got out of her vehicle after the collision, she was on her cell phone. There is no mention of whether or not she was actually using her cell at the time of impact, or if she had made the call as she was getting out of the car. Clearly, this distinction is lost on Mr. Hewett.

Mr. Hewett is demanding immediate action on this, and I agree.

The Commission should have laughed Mr. Hewett right out of their meeting.

There are already laws on the books regarding distractions while driving. We do not need more laws regarding particular types of distractions while driving.

I point to myself in this regard: I have been in 2 collisions for which I was at fault. In both cases, I was distracted. In neither was the distraction my phone. In one, the distraction was anger for having to go run an errand. In the other, the distraction was a very long and tedious drive, and I had simply zoned out.

Should we now ban running errands and long, tedious drives?

Further disturbing is Mr. Hewett’s statement to the Commission that it has the “responsibility to ‘assure the safety’ of its citizens”.

You see, I don’t remember the Founding Fathers saying anything about the government having the responsibility of assuring the safety of its citizens from anything other than foreign attack and government intrusion into their lives.

Instead, they put that pesky little thing called the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, giving the citizenry the right to keep and bear arms. To me, that seems to indicate that they viewed the safety of a man, his family, and his property as the sole responsibility of that man.

I do have a bit of praise for Mr. Hewett, in that light. At least he is doing something that he clearly feels will protect his family. The problem is that he is doing the wrong something, and in the process he is endangering the rest of us and our families.

Local Issues: City of Albany v Freedom: Oudoor Indoor Furniture

So not only has the City of Albany decided to ban convenience stores from selling markers and rose vases, they’ve both passed one ordinance limiting freedom and have been asked to pass another.

In the ordinance that has been passed and is scheduled to take effect beginning Jan 1, the city has made it a crime punishable by fines, community service, and even jail time to ‘have indoor furniture on the outside of their home’, per this article in the Albany Herald.

Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful Director Judy Bowles says that leaving indoor furniture outdoors indicates a ‘lack of pride in one’s home and in the city’.

So choosing to have more comfortable furniture outside is a ‘lack of pride’? Even more disturbing, government should be allowed to regulate the amount of ‘pride’ one has in a given area?? Has this lady ever read 1984???

Furthermore, what constitutes ‘indoor’ furniture? Am I allowed to have a wooden table on my patio, or must it be plastic?

Finally, if government is allowed to dictate what can and can’t be on the outside of my house, it will eventually decide it can regulate what is inside my house.

More government control is never the answer. More individual freedom is.

A Response to President-Elect Obama’s Economic Recovery Plan

Video and Text of President-elect Obama’s Radio Message on his Economic Recovery Plan

Did anyone else notice the order of the questions in the second paragraph? To me, it tends to put priorities in order or reveal another’s priorities. In this case, President-elect Obama ordered his priorities as such: Helping parents put their kids through college. Healthcare. Retirement. Jobs.

My question: Are any of those legitimate functions of government? I hold that the first three are absolutely NOT, and the fourth only inasmuch as the government – even a limited government – is an employer and should treat its employees competitively.

In the fifth paragraph, he mentions that he won’t do it the typical Washington way, but will instead demand results. While I agree with him that energy efficiency – indeed, ALL forms of efficiency – are needed and that America should be more competitive in the world, I have to question whether National standards are the way to go. After all, anyone in education can tell you what a nightmare NCLB is. (Though don’t talk to a politician about it. Talk to a ‘crewdog’ – teacher, parapro, etc. Even administrators at the school level will typically tell you NCLB’s horror stories.) And for those that don’t know, I was a teacher in the NCLB world. I have first hand experience with it, and it AINT pretty.

On to the ‘key parts’ of his plan:

1) Make national buildings more energy efficient: Again, I can completely agree with the man here. I’m not a Sierra Club-type nutjob, but efficiency is a good thing, so long as it doesn’t place an undue burden on people. (For example: A person voluntarily replacing their 40yr old toilet with a modern extremely efficient one is a good thing. Government mandating that everyone MUST do this – or even that contractors building new houses must – is a bad thing.)

While I agree with the President-elect that it will save the American taxpayer money, I fail to see where it will create more jobs. Almost every building – particularly government buildings – in America has some form of maintenance crew already, and replacing light bulbs and HVAC units isn’t exactly something they can’t handle.

2) Jobs program tareting infrastructure: The private sector can do this faster, more efficiently, and cheaper than the government can ever hope to. Particularly in regards to the interstate system, let them put a toll booth at every on-ramp. People get the roads and capacity they want, and the government had nothing to do with it.

I do agree with his ‘use it or lose it’ approach though, insofar as this is a wise approach to use if you accept that government should be involved. As I stated a moment ago,I don’t accept that, but I acknowledge that I’m not going to get the change I want any time soon and this is a better way to do it than the current system.

3) ‘Upgrade and modernize school buildings’: Several points here. Primary again being that government shouldn’t be in the education business to begin with, particularly national government. Privatize this sector, and you no longer have to worry about buildings that would be condemned if they were a home.

He states ‘We will repair broken schools, make them energy efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms.” The first two are basically reiterations of his first point regarding repairing all government buildings.

In regards to the third point, however: I am a teacher-trained Computer Scientist. Meaning that I am a computer expert that became a teacher later (and went back to computing after some time in education). I saw first hand that the computers in the classroom is a good idea, but highly impractical within the current educational establishment. Quite bluntly, the majority of kids I encountered simply were not disciplined enough at home to be trusted with a computer, and because of laws such as IDEA and NCLB, the school is not allowed to discipline them appropriately. Furthermore, the vast majority of teachers no nothing about computers more than MAYBE basic word processing and email.

In other words, computers in the classroom are a complete waste of resources.

4) ‘Every child should have the chance to get online’: To do what, Mr. President-elect? Get on myspace/facebook/whatever? Play games?? Look at porn at 8 years old??? I have no problems putting computers with internet access in the schools or libraries, but with a statement like this you seem to be indicating another massive government program to get computers in the hands of kids, which as I stated above is a complete waste of resources.

You see, the dirty little secret in the computer industry is planned obsolescence. Even under the best of circumstances, a mid-grade computer you buy today will be useless in 5 yrs. A cheap one – around the $300-$500 range – will last half that. Yes, there are things that can be done to mitigate this – load up on RAM, bigger hard drives, Linux operating systems – but even then you are typically just buying a couple more years. (Note that Linux is the exception here. At work, I’ve recently taken computers that were completely obsolete, put a small version of Linux on them such as Puppy Linux or Damn Small Linux (DSL) and made them useable for basic Office/browsing uses.) Even with these enhancements, however, there is only so much any given processor can handle, and I’m sorry, but a 1998-era Pentium II 256Mhz just aint gonna give you the performance of a 2008-era Quad Core 2.5Ghz processor.

5) Modernize health care: I worked on this after leaving teaching before I started where I now work. Specifically, my company built an online system to handle EMT billing. And while I didn’t specifically work on that end of the house, I worked enough projects with Medicaid/Medicare links to know that the problem isn’t the electronics or even the paper-and-pen systems. It is the bureaucracy. The biggest hurdle to modernizing health care – and most other sectors-  is the amount of GOVERNMENT involved!!!!!

But I don’t see the President-elect planning to minimize the government in ANY sector, so I’m not going to hold my breath over hoping that this will actually work.

Thanks for playing, and we’ll see you next week!

Myspace Port: THE Party of Principle

Short blog: The Party of Principle

from a Democrat over at Tondee’s Tavern:

“I will compromise most of my principles and values to keep the Republicans out of the Governor’s mansion in 2010.”

I’m sure the Republicans feel the same way about your party, sir. Hence the reason they run candidates like Saxby Chambliss and John McCain.

I, however, will never turn my back on my principles for the sake of an electoral win. Hopefully, the Libertarian Party will continue to stand as I do in that regard.

The Libertarian Party. THE Party of Principle.

Smaller Government. Less Taxes. More Freedom.

Dale Brown on Obama’s Honeymoon

I’ve read most of Mr. Brown’s works. Heck, I got my first introduction to non-interventionism when he created a character he called Thomas Nathaniel Thorn and placed him in the Oval Office. Mr. Brown tends to favor quick, surgical strikes to achieve goals – even when those goals involve interfering in another nation’s internal business. But the weapons in his books… as a tech geek, I just gotta say they are SUPER cool. Interestingly, he debuted one – Sensor Fuzed Weapons – about 5 yrs before they debuted on the battlefield – during the opening stages of Iraq II, when we were still battling an actual Iraqi army.

Update Jan 24, 2009: Currently reading Mr. Brown’s Plan of Attack, about a fictitious Russian nuclear attack on the US.

So here is his blog he titled “A Politician By Any Other Name”.

The text follows:

A Politician By Any Other Name
by Dale Brown, Copyright 2008

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED AT TheBigFiveOh.com Blog @ Yahoo.Com, December 01, 2008

First off: Happy Birthday, Mom!

It looks to me like President-elect Barack Obama’s honeymoon will be much longer than 100 days. The honeymoon actually started at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, but as it’s shaping up, it’s going to continue on for quite some time.

No one has said “boo” to anything Obama has done so far:

Kark Rove is an evil genius but Rahm Emanuel is just “partisan” and “feisty?”

Eric Holder recommends the pardon of fugitive Marc Rich and the FALN terrorists that committed 120 bomb attacks in the U.S. over a 9 year period…but no one says anything about it? If he was a Republican, the outrage would be so loud and boisterous that he would be forced to remove his name from nomination. But not Holder, or Obama.

Alberto Gonzales was far more qualified to be attorney general than Holder, but the hue and cry was out for him the day he was nominated, and he didn’t have a moment’s peace while in office.

Today Obama nominated Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State. Qualifications? What qualifications? She traveled to 80 countries as First Lady? Obama was right when he said during the campaign that drinking tea with other wives of heads of state is no foreign policy qualification. Serving in the Senate? She served 6 years, 2 of which were on the campaign trail. Serving on the Armed Services Committee? What landmark policy stands did she ever have? What important programs did she champion?

Her nomination is clearly political. How is this “change?” What change? It’s politics as usual. Bill O’Reilly said he thought choosing Hillary was good. What? Again, Bill, what experience? She has a famous name and is obviously a tough cookie, but what other qualifications does she have besides the legions of Clinton supporters who Obama needed to bring back to his side?

What I hear from the press is the word “pragmatic.” Obama is not lying, or waffling, or flip-flopping, or disregarding his electorate–he’s being pragmatic. He’s also being flexible and leaving himself “room to maneuver.” He says that he’s picking persons with experience and that the change that he promised was going to come from HIM. HE is the change.

He can say “change” all he wants, but when I see the same old faces standing beside him, I don’t see any change.

I agree with some of his appointments. Robert Gates continuing as Secretary of Defense: good. Obama will take all the credit when Gates’s Iraq and Afghanistan policies are proven to work.

Governor Bill Richardson as Secretary of Commerce? Good. I like Richardson. I think his talents will be wasted at Commerce, but he’s good.

General Jim Jones as National Security Adviser? Good, and maybe better as Secretary of Defense when Gates moves on.

Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security? OK. Another political appointment. She has experience with border security issues but not much with anti-terrorist ones, but she has legal and executive experience.

But where are the fresh faces Obama promised us? Where are the bold ideas, the new directions, the change? Not happening. Where are the young superstars, men and women like Obama himself, who will become the new generation of leaders?

Maybe Obama doesn’t want any smart, bold, fresh-faced newcomers to outshine him?

What about getting out of Iraq in 16 months? Again, Obama is being “pragmatic.” Now it’s getting the troops out “responsibly.” What does that mean? The Democrats wanted a timetable for getting out of Iraq, and they lambasted McCain for his open-ended commitment. But where’s Obama’s timetable? He hasn’t even said he would get the troops out before 2012 mandated by the new Status of Forces Agreement between the U.S. and Iraq.

Maybe it was after he started receiving the Presidential Daily Briefs, but Obama FINALLY realizes that a firm timetable for withdrawal would be a disaster. If he pulled troops out before the Iraqis were ready to defend their country, the internal political situation was more stable, and some kind of understanding was reached with Iran, the U.S. could find itself having to go back into Iraq, and his political career would be over.

I’ll give the President-elect a chance, but it’s not looking good so far to me. Yes, the YouTube talks are good. But I’m still looking for the change he promised–and I’m looking for the mainstream media to call him on it.

I was wrong about Bob Barr

So, evidently, Barr really is just another neo-con. I thought the man actually stood for something, but clearly he is just in it to get back into elected office any way he can. His letter below is just more of the same talking points the Republican side of the Democratic-Republican party has been putting out for the better part of the last 6 months or so.

To my fellow Libertarians, I deeply apologize.

Here’s his letter of support to the people over at Crazy for Liberty:

Dear Doug,

In Tuesday December 2nd’s runoff election we have a choice between incumbent Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin.

I urge you to vote for Saxby Chambliss.

Sen. Chambliss is closer to the Libertarian position on a number of key issues including: shrinking the size of government, less government spending, abolishing the IRS, replacing the income tax with a consumption tax and ending the government bailouts.

And there is one other major consideration: the Legislative branch of our government should not be a rubber stamp for the Executive branch.

There should be a check and balance between the two. The Democrats are close to obtaining a majority of 60 members of the Senate which means the opposition party, the Republicans in this case, will have very few opportunities to have meaningful input on legislative actions.

To me, one party rule in both the Legislative and Executive branches is a prescription for bad public policy decisions.

Please join me in voting for Saxby Chambliss in the US Senate runoff election.

Sincerely,

Bob Barr