December 31, 2005

Completely UnReasonable

There are some bloggers who for fun or masochism will go spelunking in the sewers of the Daily Kos or the Democratic Underground. They go to see what is on the minds of the lunatic fringe of the left and for the heady rush of adrenaline that comes with the blood pressure spike. They go for a good laugh.

I don't go there.

I go here. Reason Magazine's Hit and Run.

The goal and the effect is the same it's just a different brand of idiocy. At Hit and Run you can explore the twisted reasoning of the Libertarian lunatic fringe. The would be no need to create a Libertarian underground. Reason has already done that.

Consider this post by Jeff Taylor. In which he quotes the following from a T.J. Rogers oped appearing on Common Dreams "Breaking News and Views for the Progressive Community.

What's the worst thing that Al-Qaida can do to America? We have probably already seen it. Of course, the government can talk about bigger things, like the use of weapons of mass destruction, to justify its use of totalitarian tactics.e>I would much rather live as a free man under the highly improbable threat of another significant Al-Qaida attack than I would as a serf, spied on by an oppressive government that can jail me secretly, without charges. If the Patriot Act defines the term "patriot," then I am certainly not one.
By far, our own government is a bigger threat to our freedom than any possible menace posed by Al-Qaida.
Taylor ads the following input:
T.J. Rodgers, founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, has penned an op-ed that frames the War on Terror and its impact on civil liberties correctly. Namely, that there are worse things in the world than another 9/11, a 24/7 police state for one:
The architects of the maximum security state do not think this way. In fact, they probably do not understand Rodgers' argument in the slightest and assume he is making some sort of moral equivalence claim about the American government and al Qaida. Or perhaps that Rodgers would not say such things if he understood the wholesome motives behind the security measures he fears.
But Rodgers gets it. We get it. A lot of us get it. More people need to start saying it out loud, though.
There are worse things than another 9/11.
So I guess if we had another 9/11 that wouldn't be really all that bad? What would qualify as worse, a terrorist attack that killed 4,000? 5,000? How many innocent people would have to be bad enough?

And as for the 24/7 police state argument - where exactly is that? I'm sure if Taylor and the rest of the sky is falling hysterics that are cheering him on wanted to learn about what life actually is like in a 24/7 police state they could ask the people of Afghanistan or Iraq.

So bring on the car bombs. Kill a few thousand more people. Hey. It could be worse.

UPDATE: Apparently some of the commentors over at Hit and Run don't take kindly to criticism and I received my first official threat of bodily harm. Here is what Akira Mackenzie had to say:

Click on Stephen Macklin's name to see his troll confession of today and what he thinks of the people who post here.
I've read it, and Mr. Macklin should thank whatever mythological being he worships that he and I are seperated by time, distance, and the information superhighway...
...otherwise the right-wing pile of shit would be chewing his teeth.

UPDATE 2:There is a bit of intentional hyperbole in my description of Hit and Run. I painted the participants of that forum with a fairly broad brush. Despite largely being proven right I have found that there are exceptions. It is unfortunate that the exceptions are not the rule.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:26 AM | Comments (32) | Add Comment

December 27, 2005

By Way of Comparison

I was reading this post at helluvablog (after I didn't read it - see the comments) and this comparison sprang to mind.

There were two constitutional referendums held this year. One resulted in voters approving a constitution that lead to the election of a new government. The other was rejected.

Somehow the failure of one seems to have gone as unnoticed as the success of the other.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:04 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment

The Grinch After Christmas

The newest podcast is available. A little longer than the others it weighs in at 4.4MB. If I start becoming long winded I promise to explore ways to make the files smaller.

Exploring the Inner Grinch

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:43 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

December 25, 2005

On Burning the Flag

Hillary Clinton sponsored legislation to ban the burning of the American flag. It's part of her effort to fool people into thinking that she is politically more to the right than she will ever actually be. But I did come across one flag burning story that I am sure would evoke the senator's honest outrage.

The story came to me from one of the flag burners, my good friend Wayne. Wayne recently moved from somewhere in the south to the wilds of New Hampshire. Wayne does a little computer consulting and general upkeep on the Macs in our company, which is how I met him seven years ago. I think he has moved his family four times since I have known him. He can run his business from anywhere so I think he's just trying a lot of different place until he finds one he likes.

He has never come out and said that it was his intention in moving to New Hampshire to be a part of the Free State Project but it was inevitable once he moved there that he would be. I don't know how deep he has gotten - you be the judge from this photo of Captain Liberty.

Yes, that's my friend Wayne in the funny hat at the Second Annual UN Flag Burn put on by the New Hampshire Underground. From the photos it seems that everyone had a good time. Wayne did eventually take the hat off!. The the U.N, flag burns nicely.

I am not sure how effective a cook-out, sledding-party flag burning is as a form of protest. U.N. Flag Code and Regulations state

2. Dignity of the flag: The Flag shall not be subjected to any indignity
3. Flag protocol: (1) The Flag of the United Nations shall not be subordinated to any other flag.
I strongly suspect that the attitude contained in that second example has a lot to do with the motivation do violating the first.

U.N. flag regulations also specify that

Any violation of this Flag Code may be punished in accordance with the law of the country in which such violation takes place.
Somehow I get the feeling that the people of the New Hampshire Undergorund would like to see them try.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:28 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment

December 22, 2005

Outrage Found

The headline on the Newsweek column of Arlene Getz reads Where's the Outrage?

One doesn't need to read beyond the subhead to find it:

Bush’s defense of his phone-spying program has disturbing echoes of arguments once used by South Africa’s apartheid regime. Why Americans should examine the parallels.

This may be the biggest stretch of Bush-Derangment Journalism yet. What are the parallels that Getz thinks we need to be examining:

No matter that Pretoria was detaining tens of thousands of people without real evidence of wrongdoing. No matter that many of them, including children, were being tortured—sometimes to death. No matter that government hit squads were killing political opponents. No matter that police were shooting into crowds of black civilians protesting against their disenfranchisement.
Apparently Getz has paid attention enough to realize that she will get nowhere comparing Bush to Hitler so so she is comparing him to P.W. Botha.
I'm sure there are many well-meaning Americans who agree with their president's explanation that it's all a necessary evil (and that patriotic citizens will not be spied on unless they dial up Osama bin Laden). But the nasty echoes of apartheid South Africa should at least give them pause. While Bush uses the rhetoric of "evildoers" and the "global war on terror," Pretoria talked of "total onslaught." This was the catchphrase of P. W. Botha, South Africa's head of state from 1978 to 1989. Botha was hardly the first white South African leader to ride roughshod over civil liberties for all races, but he did it more effectively than many of his predecessors. Botha liked to tell South Africans that the country was under "total onslaught" from forces both within and without, and that this global assault was his rationale for allowing opponents to be jailed, beaten or killed. Likewise, the Bush administration has adopted the argument that anything is justified in the name of national security.
Obviously the Bush administration is falling behind on the locking up of its political opponents. I swear I saw Harry Read, Nancy Pelosi, Teddy Kennedy, John Kerry and Hillary on the news just last week. As oppressors go, Bush seems to be incredibly incompetent.

Getz ends this column of stupidity by complaining about assaults on free speech in America. It never ceases to amaze me when pundits speak and write at length about how they are being robbed of their right to free speech. But then maybe Bush is waiting to oppress Getz until after he takes care Howard Dean. After all, he can't oppress everyone at once. He's a busy guy.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:03 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

December 19, 2005

Who's Spying On Us?

The new Podcast is here.

Today I'm talking about the conspiracy to use the NSA to deprive us of our civil rights.

This one felt a little easier and a little more comfortable. I hope that comes across.

Who's Spying On Us?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:15 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

December 17, 2005

Plugging the Leaks

News reports of classified information have become so common that the New York Times is seeking to rename it's reader advertising section so that it can create a new "classified" section. They will probably run this section between the news and the editorial pages.

I hope no effort is spared in determining who leaked classified information about NSA intelligence activities to the Times. And it shouldn't be that difficult. The list of people who had knowledge of the activity can't be that long.

Personally I would start with "Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it." I have a hunch that starting there would probably bring the investigation to a swift conclusion.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:52 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

December 15, 2005

Watching History Happen

There are a growing number of moments that are etched forever into my consciousness. Some are good. Some are not. They include The resignation of Richard Nixon, the end of the Iranian Hostage Crisis at the start of Ronald Reagan's presidency, The Challenger, the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, Reagan's Berlin Wall speech, the sight of people dancing atop that wall the day the Iron Curtain collopsed, Tienamen Square, 9/11 and the advent of Constitutional Democracy in Iraq.

Of all of these events, the last may be the most astounding. In just over four years since the 9/11 attacks we have brought freedom and representative government to two nations that had known only brutal tyranny.

There is something that bothers me greatly though. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks there were those who said that our response needed to be something other than or a least more than going to the Middle East and killing terrorists. They said we needed to understand and address the root causes of terrorism. (They also seemed to think that we were responsible for those root causes but that's a different issue altogether.) They argued that we needed to do something about poverty and the sense of despair and powerlessness that drove young Arab men to terrorism.

What gets me is, we did that. We did what they said we should do. And they are none too happy about it.

The people of Afghanistan and Iraq are no longer powerless. They have the power to choose their own government. No longer ruled by oppressive authoritarian governments, they now have governments that derive their powers from the consent of the governed.

They have freedom greater than many in that region of the world have ever known. Freedom greater than they can probably yet comprehend. But with that freedom will come prosperity. An honest look at the world will show a pretty clear correlation between freedom and prosperity. Even China which is experiencing a tremendous economic revolution has done so to the extent that they have allowed a degree of freedom.

So we have given the young Arabs so drawn to terrorism the power of their vote. The power of their freedom which if they use it wisely will lead to prosperity. This should put a good dent in their pervasive sense of despair.

All of this and there are people - the same people - who think that we have done a bad thing. Michelle Malkin has a round-up of some of the people who gone in search of the Left's response to the Iraqi vote. Don't bother trying to understand the root causes that drive these people. They are not worth the effort.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:09 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

December 14, 2005

Complaining About The Weather

After a very mild November that probably saved me more than $100 in heating costs (I love those months that require neither heat nor air conditioning) December has become very cold. It's probably not just cold in the Northeast. My guess is is it got colder almost everywhere. It seems a very large percentage of the world's warm air has been concentrated in and around Montreal, Canada.

The meeting is mostly a last chance for the environmentally devout to get together with the stridently anti-industrial crown to use the fading remnants of Kyoto to bash the Americans.

Here are some interesting statistics about the self-righteous victims of Kyoto. Here are their Co2 level changes based on the Kyoto 1990 benchmark.

Canada +24%
Japan +24%
Spain +42%
Portugal +37%
It seems that the total failure of the Kyoto Protocol might not be result of the U.S. not being a signatory after all. Especially when you consider that U.S. emission levels have only risen 13%.

There cannot be many people who do not understand (even if they are unwilling to admit it) that Kyoto was nothing more than an attempt and global industrial/economic egalitarianism of the worst kind. The kind that does not seek to raise the level of those a the bottom, but whose only goal is to bring down those at the top.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:19 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

December 09, 2005

Podcast 2

I have decided that I like the whole podcasting thing. The feedback from the first one was all positive as far as the recording quality goes. Hearing myself when I play it back is still a bit weird but I suppose I'll get used to that.

I'm not really all that happy with my delivery yet. It sounds sort of uncomfortable and there are moments in this one where it feels like I'm reading. I expect I will get better in time. An actual microphone might help, but short of that when I can remember that I don't actually need to hunch over so that my mouth is close to the PowerBook's built in mic it will get better.

I think I may have gone a little long with the into music this time but the whole podcast is only 3:28.

Maybe for the next one I'll try to come up with a more clever title than "Podcast" for the link.


Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:52 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

December 05, 2005

Headline Bias Survey

I went looking for headlines on the news regarding the dismissal of one of the indictments against Tome Delay.

New York Times
Judge Upholds Most Serious Charges Against DeLay

No headline or story Available

Washington Post
Judge Drops Conspiracy Charges Against DeLay

LA Times
No headline or story Available

Judge drops Bush ally charge (I didn't realize just being a Bush Ally was a crime!)

FOX News
Some Charges Dropped
Judge throws out conspiracy counts against DeLay

DeLay money-laundering charges upheld

I have to give the win to MSNBC. Not only did they put the worst spin possible on the story, they ran the headline in red!

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:16 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

December 04, 2005

Unfit To Govern

The good folks at the New York Times in an effort to further shift the blame for everything related to hurricane Katrina onto the Bush Administration shines a pretty bright light on what is wrong with the Democratic Party and the Government of Louisiana. The article details some of the contents of about 100,000 pages of documents, records and notes from the Louisiana Governor's office that are being provided to congressional committees looking into Katrina preparedness and response.

Let's start with this little illustration of what matters to National Democrats from page 2 of the Times article.

The struggle with Washington and questions of who was in charge - the state or federal government - emerge frequently in the correspondence. It is also clear that Democrats in Washington recognized that the federal response to the storm provided an opportunity to win some political points.
Aides to Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, called Mr. Mann to discuss strategy, a conversation that indirectly included Mike McCurry, the former press secretary to President Clinton, according to one e-mail message.
"By the weekend, the Bush administration will have a full blown PR disaster/scandal on their hands because of the late response to needs in New Orleans," Mr. Mann wrote on Sept. 1, the Thursday after the storm, attributing that observation to Mr. McCurry.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm Governor Blanco's people were on the phone with the Senate Minority Leader's people strategizing about how play the crisis up as a "pr disaster."

Well here's a pretty good indication of what one of the problems with the governor's response might have been. I think just maybe a little less time and effort working on how to score political hits on the White House and little more time and effort on actually doing something could have made some difference.

As for what is really wrong with the governor's office we need look no further than this statement from Johnny Anderson, Governor Blanco's Chief of Staff:

"The governor needs to stay on message, and that is getting people out of New Orleans, provide stability for them and rebuild," Mr. Anderson wrote on Sept. 1. "The governor must look like the leader at all times."(emphasis mine)
No. You've got that quite wrong. The governor needed to BE a leader, not just look like one. "I'm not a leader but I play one on TV," wasn't what the people of Louisiana needed.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:44 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

December 03, 2005

The First Hold The Mayo Podcast

I have completed the first ever Hold The Mayo Podcast. I thought about doing this for a while and was very hesitant. Podcasting to me is audio blogging. I started blogging in large part for the writing, so how does podcasting fit into that? Then there was the whole technical intimidation factor. Could I do it?

Oh look there's my copy of Garage Band. So much for the technical hurdle.

The last bit of trepidation came from the very real fear - but what if I do it and it really sucks. But having created the thing does not obligate me to post it anywhere so if it sucks it dies here on my system. Beyond that, I average about 80 hits a day so what have I got to lose?

So I created it. And I'm posting it here. I'm not to sure about the voice recording quality as I did it with the Powerbook's built in mic. If this becomes a habbit I may get some sort of Mr. Microphone to get better quality.


Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:45 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment

December 01, 2005

With Liberty And Justice For All

Ronald Reagan famously said "The most terrifying words in the English langauge are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." The government tries to help. I tries to protect us by forcing us to wear seat belts, by sheilding us from second hand smoke, by all regulating all manner of other things mostly with the aim of protecting us from ourselves. They do that very well. Then tend fall a little flat some times when it comes to protecting the good of us from the bad of us.

I used to work with Audra Fleury. She was one of the good ones. She's smart, funny, and a genuinely nice person. She never took offense at a little gentle ribbing about her tendency to have every detail about practically everything she did organized and recorded in spreadsheet. It was sad when she left the company. And even sadder why.

Audra received the call that no parent wants to ever get. Her 15 month old daughter had been hurt badly in a fall. She had suffered a skull fracture that caused her brain to swell and she almost died.

Now three Catherine has only limited use of her right side.

If you are asking how this could happen from a fall, you are not alone. In the arrest warrant affidavte for the Fleury's nanny, doctors compared the injuries to those sustained in high-speen crashes.

Audra and her husband David have avoided speaking publicly about the incident or the prosecution choosing instead to work with the state to seek justice for their family.

They ended that silence when the state chose not to pursue the prosecution and allowed Erika T. Wade to enter a no contest plea to one count of risk of injury of a minor. She was sentenced to 8 years suspended after 90 days, with five years of probation. Having already served 90 days she was released. The state dropped a charge of first degree assault.

There is a lesson in this story that we would be well advised to learn. It's not about how careful you should be in picking a nanny. Audra would not have put her children in the care of someone she had not checked out extremely thoroughly. No doubt she did all of the research your supposed to do and then some. What we should learn is that while doing an overzealous job of regulating our lives in ways that they never should, the state cannot always be counted on to be there to back us up in the way that they are supposed to.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:50 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

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