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Thursday, October 16. 2008
I'm a dual citizen, the product of an English father and American mother, and born in the UK. The British part of me cringes when I read things like this. How does any government get to the point where they believe even setting one foot down the road to despotism is the right thing to do? Similar, equally frightening things could happen in the US, but we do have one bit of advantage, we haven't given up our guns like the citizens of the UK have.
In this country I've seen things like The Patriot Act as a cynical grab for power by a government intent on grabbing as much power as possible. Is this the case in the UK also? Or am I over-reacting and these are really "good" people who simply live in a culture of fear trying their best to alleviate their fears by giving up essential liberties?
How does this play out? Do we go down Orwell or Alan Moore's road? When do people who need to be free men and women start saying enough is enough?
In the USA we have the opportunity to send that message in just about three weeks. Unfortunately we won't do it. We will vote for the lesser of two evils. We will vote for status quo. We will vote for those who will protect us from the terrorists and the pedophiles by limiting essential freedoms.
What will it take for us to become more frightened of our own government, and tell them "We are not afraid and will no longer sacrifice essential liberties for some illusory safety?"
Wednesday, October 1. 2008
Finally someone in Washington is showing some common sense.
Three US senators are pushing the "Travelers Privacy Protection Act" to restrict the right of US customs to search or seize laptops, iPods and other digital devices.
Ron Wyden is the Democratic Senator from Oregon. I'm not a Democrat, I generally don't believe most of the things Democrats believe, but I vote for Ron Wyden in every election (even going back to his terms in the House) because I truly believe he is one of the few people in politics who actually cares what his constituents think.
In a government full of people over-reaching, and grabbing power where they should have no power, some people in government apparently still understand that Constitution still means something.
If you are a constituent of Senator Russ Feingold, Senator Daniel Akaka, Senator Maria Cantwell or Senator Ron Wyden. You should tell them thank you for standing up for what is right.
Via: The Register
Wednesday, September 24. 2008
According to this article at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Public Schools board has implemented a 50% minimum score for all grades handed out.
While some districts use "F" as a failing grade, the city uses an "E."
"The 'E' is to be recorded no lower than a 50 percent, regardless of the actual percent earned. For example, if the student earns a 20 percent on a class assignment, the grade is recorded as a 50 percent," said the memo from Jerri Lippert, the district's executive director of curriculum, instruction and professional development, and Mary VanHorn, a PFT vice president.
If Johnny get's one out of ten correct on his math quiz, Johnny get's 50%. If Susie get's 45 out of 100 on her social studies paper, Susie gets 50%. They are doing this so students who don't do well don't have such a big hole to dig out of later on. What sense does that make?
More importantly what does it teach the children to whom anything less than an A is unacceptable? All three of my sons are straight-A students. All three of them bust their tails to do work that is worthy of an A. Why don't they get any bonuses for doing exceptional work? why is it only the stupid kids who get bonuses? Quite frankly, if you earn below a 50% in any course of study at any time it's because you weren't even trying. So why are the students who try, who take pride in the fact that they do try being singled out unfairly?
Perhaps this quote from the article is the ultimate irony:
...she said one teacher she knows already worries about how awkward it will look when a student correctly answers three of 10 questions on a math quiz -- and gets a 50 percent.
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board gets an epic fail on this one...
...Oh wait, they can't, they only get a 50% epic fail.
Wednesday, September 17. 2008
Thank you John Scalzi and his Whatever blog for making me laugh out loud at the state of things with the AIG bail-out...
Are we socialists yet?
No, no. Relax. We couldn’t possibly be socialists. Socialists only nationalize successful businesses.
I was appalled when I read we were bailing this company out. If companies are not forced to evolve, to make smart decisions, to change as change is demanded of them, then they deserve to fail, not to be bailed out by the Federal Government.
Friday, September 12. 2008
Stephen Toulouse (Stepto) is the head of Microsoft's XBox Live Policy Enforcement. I first ran into his name when reading the XBox forums where people would regularly cry about being suspended or banned for "no reason." He would step in and post exactly what the reason for the suspension or ban was, and the results were often hilarious. Shortly after that I started noticing some horrible clan tags in Call of Duty 4. I would file complaints on those clan tags, but was unsure whether MS had a way of checking on game content that was not a part of Live. He assured me that MS was working with Infinity Ward to make sure they could take action when needed. I started reading his blog, I started following him on Twitter and have been impressed with how passionate he is about a number of things, including politics.
His politics and mine do not really match at all, but I certainly appreciate anyone who is willing to to shake off the bonds of apathy and get involved in the process. Yesterday he posted his 9/11 Story. I found it quite interesting, but the part where I sat up and took notice was where he said...
I'm tired of having this shit scared out of me to make my decisions in life. Who I vote for, what measure should pass. I'm tired of thinking about pre 9.11 and yearning for that time and people saying that yearning is naive.
He goes on to talk about what has happened to our society, and how the terrorists cannot be displeased about what has happened to our Great Nation since the attacks.
Our politics don't match, but we certainly share some ideology when it comes to this subject.
Thursday, November 1. 2007
Some categories of human garbage are to despicable to be described using polite language. Fred Phelps, his daughters and the members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas are one such class of people. These are the "Christians" who go around the country picketing at the funerals of our fallen troops with signs that read things like "God Hates Fags," "Thank God for 9/11," "Your Pastor is a Whore," and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."
There have been several responses to this group of hate-filled bigots. One of the more interesting ones to me (since I ride a motorcycle and all) was the formation of the Patriot Guard Riders who will form a human shield, separating the protesters from those paying their last respects at the funerals of our fallen soldiers.
The father of one of those soldiers filed a civil lawsuit against the church and just won an $11 million judgment against them.
When I first heard the news I rejoiced. Something needs to be done about these despicable pieces of human filth. Upon further review, however, I'm torn. Not over my belief that these people are sick twisted fucks, but over the fact that they could lose a civil suit for exercising one of the freedoms granted to us in our Bill of Rights. One of the things that makes this country great is that we are able to say things, we're able to take issue with our government. There are many places in this world where I could be arrested for saying the equivalent of "George Bush is a dangerous moron and does not deserve to be President." So far the brownshirts haven't come knocking on my door though. These funerals are public events. The sidewalks and streets used to hold the demonstrations are public venues, and like it or not. That pesky First Amendment protects speech, all speech (yes, I do know there are a few limitations), even abhorrent speech.
While I sympathize with the jury that returned this verdict. While I sympathize with the father and the family that filed the suit, I'm not sure that this is a road I want to go down. What happens when someone decides that "George Bush is a dangerous moron" is abhorrent speech and not worthy of First Amendment protections?
The best I can hope for is that when these pathetic excuses for human beings stand before God, they will see a bit of their theology played out. I hope He will look at them and say "Get away from me I never knew you."
Friday, September 28. 2007
Thank god for the third branch of our government, a judge with some common sense, and for Portland's own Brandon Mayfield.
Yesterday U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken slammed part of the the so-called Patriot Act. If you remember those bunglers, who under the guise of protecting us from terrorists, arrested Brandon Mayfield, and held him in solitary and secret confinement for an extended period of time, used the Patriot Act as their excuse for illegally and secretly searching his home and office.
Mr. Mayfield has successfully sued and beaten a government that was making an un-Constitutional power grab.
Whether you believe it or not, all Americans owe Mr. Mayfield and Judge Aiken a debt of thanks.
Wednesday, September 12. 2007
Yesterday I wrote one line. One line that I hope you all paid attention to. It was directed entirely at those who would use terror as a weapon against innocent people. Today I'm going to use almost the same line...
Never forget what small-minded and cowardly men are doing in the name of god.
Yes I mean that. Remember that according to those in power, this is a Christian country, so what they do they do in the name of god.
Small-minded and cowardly men have co-opted the tragedy we remembered yesterday, and in the name of god and freedom and safety are destroying our freedoms and the lives of the innocent.
I'm a registered Republican, I have been all my voting life. I have, however, not voted Republican in the last 18 or 20 years. I'm still registered as a Republican because I still view myself as a conservative. I guess I'm not any more, and I guess I don't really want to be if our current administration is an example of conservatism.
In the name of the "War on Terror" they have foisted all sorts of things on our country that our founding fathers would have found anathema. The administration doesn't believe in the Bill of Rights. They believe that those Rights make the job of being a terrorist far too easy. When the rules make it too difficult to catch the "bad guys" it is far easier to change the rules. "It's ok, we're doing this to protect you from the terrorists." Unfortunately, I'm cynical enough to believe that they do not so much care about the war on terror as in grabbing as much power as they possibly can.
Now that our very own Minister of Propaganda, and Chief Brownshirt has stepped down, I have some small hope that things may return to the way they ought to be, but it's a very small hope. I thought John Ashcroft was bad, and was thrilled to see him go. The only problem was that his replacement was far brighter and far scarier. Let's hope that pattern is not repeated with Gonzales's replacement.
In the name of the "War on terror," brave men and women are putting their lives in harms way every hour of the day. These men and women, doing only what their Commander and Chief orders them to do, are losing their lives, fighting for what--a few points in the popularity polls?
As for me, I want to retain those Rights that our founding fathers, who in the birthing pains of bringing forth a great nation, granted me, granted you, because they knew, knew first-hand how power and authority could be abused. I would much rather retain those Rights than give them up for a bit of illusory safety.
A very wise man, one of those founding fathers, once said something along these lines, "He who would sacrifice essential liberty for a little safety deserves neither liberty, nor safety."
Saturday, January 20. 2001
There has been much that I wanted to write about since Election Day, 2000. I have refrained from writing until today, Inauguration Day, just to see how this whole drama played out. Watching President Clinton, Vice President Gore, President-Elect Bush, Vice President-Elect Cheney has turned into something of a national pastime.
I did not vote for either Vice President Gore or Govenor Bush, however, that did not stop me from getting a little teary eyed while watching President-Elect Bush take the oath of office...
Many people have claimed to be embarrassed by the events of the election. Embarrassed that the one remaining Super Power could not decide who its new President should be. My question for them is "Why?"
There is a missionary at my church who works in Uganda. He was home from the field for this election, and I had opportunity to chat with him about his thoughts on the election. His response, confirmed my thoughts on the subject: in many corners of the globe (including the one in which he ministers) the indecision over the outcome of an election would have resulted in civil war. Tanks and troops would be found in the streets as people tried to take advantage of the indecision. The worst thing we saw here was extremely vocal supporters of the Vice President or the Govenor shouting at each other.
The day after the election no one knew who the President was going to be, yet people all over the country got up, went to work or school, did their jobs and returned home peacefully. Even as doubt over the outcome deepened, there was no unrest, people continued to live their lives in peace and prosperity.
So today's inauguration was not just a great day for President Bush and his family; and Vice President Cheney and his family, it was a great day for the United States and its people as they made the peaceful transition to their 43rd President.
I'm proud of our country. I'm proud of our system of government. I'm proud of our people.
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