Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Sorry it's been awhile since I last blogged...my life has been pretty boring lately, and hence I've been too bored to actually write a blog post. Although, in my defence, I was out of town from Thursday to Sunday night (actually, Monday morning if you want to be technical), and so I couldn't blog.

So...in the news this week, local police officers are now going to have even more license to make eternal nuisances of themselves, as their job descriptions are now going to be expanded to "watching for precursor activity to terrorist activities" or something like that. (And an hilarious image of Barney Fife trying to apprehend a terrorist just popped into my head...)

From this article: "But this initiative represents the administration’s first thoughtful steps in fulfilling President Obama’s commitment to defining a lasting rule of law for this brave new world. We must make it work."

We "must"? Oh yeah, that's right. So we can be safe, yada yad. Right. I forgot that part. Of course, there are other options. Like, you know, we could, like stop bombing and invading sovereign nations without cause and stuff. You know. Be smart and courteous and all that good stuff. Stop hitting other children on the playground.

But oh wait. That would be the smart thing to do. We're Americans. We aren't smart, so we're not needed to be. That's right.

In that same vein, our government is now trying to control the internet- oh wait. Not control it...just make sure...you don't say something stupid, using the vehicle of fear. There goes half of my Facebook activities. Sarcasm? Out the window. Joking references to terrorism and your plot to blow up the 2011 Comic-Con? Don't even think about it.

You see, apparently the government has decided that Americans don't use phones enough anymore. We've all migrated to the internet, so now, naturally, the government is going to have to start imposing rules upon the internet. Well, to be fair, not quite rules. They just want to team up with social networking sites to get information about their widdle citizen's activities. Because we all need to be babysat, of course.

"Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages."

Mm-hmm. Because it's always good to tie the hands of independent companies that operate on the free world of the internet so that they have to cooperate. At least Google went into willingly.

Once again along that tack, the Obama administration (which is, of course, for terrorists and against anything akin to intel gathering or the wars) wants to have more control over banks, not for the purpose of money, but so that banks have to report money transfers out-of-country.

But always remember- Obama is soft on terror.

In a rather ironic twist, atheists and agnostics score the highest on a poll on American religious knowledge.


That's sad, Christians.

The midterm elections are approaching, which is rather...well, not exactly exciting, per se, since I am fixing to make a prediction about who's going to take the Congress. Before I do that, I'd just like to say that this prediction kind of stinks.

Because I'd really rather the Democrats lose their majority, but the Republicans not gain one.

I dream of a better world where the true interests of the people are represented by a four, five, six party Congress...

I dream big, in case you couldn't tell.

There's lots more I could talk about. But I don't really want to. I'm already depressed enough.


suntzusays said...

If you go in and parse the data, atheists did better generally across the board because we tend to pick apart all of your religions and not just the main event for America. We've probably read more books in other words on average.

Also Christians who were active (weekly church attendees/read the bible frequently) did actually very well at at least knowing their own religion on basic questions. Just got their butts kicked on knowing anything basic about Islam (which surprisingly wasn't asked much about other than which countries were Islamic and what's the Koran), Buddhism or geography. Or history (Jonathan Edwards question probably threw a lot of people).

The Golden Eagle said...

It would be good for everyone if there were more parties in Congress; two is just too few.

Lucas said...

So do you think that Obama should legally be President?

Liberty said...

Golden- indeed.

SunTzu- somehow, I just don't find it surprising that Christians knew nothing about Islam, considering the rhetoric that abounds on that subject...

Lucas- I don't think there is a strong enough argument for him _not_ to be legally the President...

suntzusays said...

@Lucas... ? Where did that even come from based on the arguments Liberty was making here?

There isn't an argument legally for him not to be President. Not even a weak one really. The real question isn't a legal challenge of him holding office; it's what he's doing with the office. Given that what he's doing on foreign policy and terrorism is remarkably similar in most respects to what Bush did in office, and in some more egregious cases amplifications of things that our hardline war junkie friends in the neoconservative worldview have long craved that we do, I'm kind of confused why you'd want to find so much time to complain about him... so I'll ask.

On what legal grounds are you complaining then? Extralegal assassination programme? Intrusive surveillance procedures to tap into email and blackberries and so on? Increased arrests and deportations with fewer prosecutions of terrorism suspects in civilian courts than Bush? Increased drone strikes and black ops snatch and grabs?

Or were you going for something else?

suntzusays said...

And I second the more parties please, but I'm not optimistic.

I'm kind of suspicious that the tea party folks could end up fracturing the GOP in 2012, but I doubt it. Democrats might need a big issue to split over, and there's clearly a large sector of progressives who are major league pissed, particularly on civil liberties, but also the economic "liberals" who wanted more on health care and a different set of finregs. Maybe there's some hope yet, but I think the us-them dynamic of a large tent of semi-unrelated issues (what do unions have to do with environmentalists anyway?) is just too strong to depolarize it into smaller and more flexible coalitions of ideologically stronger teams. We might be able to fix it with some serious social pressures as happened in the late 60s or prior to the Civil War. But I don't think immigration or terrorism or even "the economy" is going to do that. These are small potatoes compared to slavery and denying tens of millions of people basic civil rights that they are legally entitled to (even legal immigrants do not have the same citizenship rights as blacks were denied illegally by state governments and local officials for generations).

Maybe the looming debt crisis might break this up. But that's going to be another decade or so before people really get serious about it. Tea party isn't. They're faking it because they don't, by and large, have a serious plan. We can see this because the GOP just announced a "plan" that included no serious cuts to defence or entitlements, the two things that absolutely will need cutting because they account for gigantic chunks of our long-term spending. I mean "foreign aid?" That's what you want to cut? Okay fine, now what about the other 99.5% of the deficit (and what happened to Israel and Egypt and Saudi Arabia getting billions of dollars for defence contracts while we're at, since that accounts for over half of our non-Iraq/Afghanistan related foreign aid spending)?

So I think they're just disenfranchised angry conservative voters without a Perot type at the head of it to give it any form and make deficits a forum issue that needs to be talked about seriously rather than in swallowed in pill and platitude form. If elected, they won't be able to enact anything anyway (veto powers) and even if they were about to get around that, there's not much they would do instead that would make me think yes, that was a serious effort to trim the size and power of government. Even if it fails. I respect Paul Ryan a lot for trying and honestly announcing that yes, we're going to have to make serious cuts to entitlements in some fashion, voucherizing things and so on, and suggesting doing so in ways that I might even be comfortable supporting, but he's not getting a whole lot of support from these types of people. That should tell you something. Important.

I also don't hear many of them complaining about the intrusiveness of government police powers or Presidential war powers for example. These are just as pressing and damaging as repealing a bill that cemented the health care status quo where it is (and didn't change anything meaningfully, nor did it fix the debt problem).

When they start talking seriously, I'll listen and hope we've got a new political movement that will break the mold. Until then, it's just mold.