Saturday, July 07, 2012

Willard Romney -- Bush 43 redux

A while back I asked to hear from the Romney supporters among my friends on Facebook. The response was underwhelming, to say the least. Nobody, and I mean nobody, bothered to lay out a case for electing Willard. The few responses that I did get were just attacks on BHO -- their reasons to vote against BHO, but no explanation of why they plan to vote for Romney. Sadly, my Romney supporting friends continue to pass along the same falsehoods about BHO. One of the biggest is the claim that BHO blames all of our current problems on Bush 43.

The problems in the US go back a lot farther than Bush 43, although he certainly played a huge role in exacerbating them. We've been on the decline since Nixon. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class, the group that made the US great, is disappearing. BHO has done a lot of things I don't agree with, but I will say this. Since 2009, Osama bin Laden is dead, GM and Chrysler are still alive, the unemployment rate has come down, the occupation of Iraq is almost ended, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and Sarah Palin is still a has-been ex-half-governor living in Alaska.

Romney is just Bush 43 without the stupid fake Texas accent and without the history of alcoholism and drug abuse. If Americans are stupid enough to elect Romney, then the financial crises and economic hard times we saw under Bush 43 will seem like a walk in the park. If Romney's proposals become law, the national debt will increase by at least $3 trillion. Taxes will go down even more on the ultra-rich and will go up on the poor. The safety nets established by FDR in the 1930s and LBJ in the 1960s will be eviscerated. It will be Great Depression II, and Americans will have brought it on themselves.

I don't hear BHO blaming Bush 43, but I do hear him blaming the obstructionist Republicans in Congress, and for good reason. They vote against their own proposals if BHO supports them. They have operated with a single goal, to make BHO look bad so that he won't be reelected. They don't give a rat's ass about the country they proclaim to love, or the people that are hurting because of the idiotic economic policies they advocate. They only care about two things, making sure that the ultra-wealthy oligarchs who call the shots get to amass as much power and money as possible. The rest of us, well we can just go fuck ourselves.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Government that works for all us? I don't think so.

Our GOP controlled school board in Douglas County just disclosed that they are working on a voucher program to provide "choice" for parents, even though the public schools in our district are among the highest performers in Colorado. The only private schools in Douglas County are religious, so guess who would benefit.

Unfortunately for the school board, Article IX, section 7 of the Colorado constitution expressly forbids a school district from "... [paying] from any public fund or moneys whatever, anything in aid of any church or sectarian society, or for any sectarian purpose, or to help support or sustain any school, academy, seminary, college, university or other literary or scientific institution, controlled by any church or sectarian denomination whatsoever..."

So, after they hired a new superintendent at $250K+ annually, discontinued free bus services for students, and laid off teachers, now they're going to waste money on legal fees defending this obviously unconstitutional policy. And on top of everything, they had the chutzpah to demand that the local media not cover the story. Government that works for all us? I don't think so.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Taxation is slavery?

Taxation is not slavery. To equate the two is an insult to every unfortunate soul who has ever suffered under that despicable institution. And yet, people who know better continue to spout such nonsense.

Taxation is legal, constitutional, and necessary.

From the Declaration of Independence:
"...[G]overnments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

From the Preamble to the US Constitution:
"We the People of the United States ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

From Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution:
"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes..."

When you go into a store with some money in your pocket, grab an apple, and take a bite out of it, that apple now belongs to you. When you used the apple, you entered into an agreement to pay for it. It is an enforceable contract, even though there is no piece of paper with your signature on it. The money in your pocket now belongs to the store, even if it's still in your pocket, once you take possession of the apple.

When we make an informed choice to reside in the US, we agree that we will live by its rules. That agreement imposes certain responsibilities on us in return for accepting the services provided by our country on our behalf. The government regulates the utilities that deliver electricity and gas to our homes, schools, and businesses. Water is pure (usually) because a government utility has purified it and pumped it to our faucets. We drive to work on roads that are built and maintained by the government. Radio stations broadcast on airwaves that are owned by the people and managed by the government on our behalf. The government makes the rules and enforces the business framework that allows commerce to function reliably. The government provides healthcare to many citizens, and protects us from foreign enemies via the armed forces. All of these services, and thousands more, that we take for granted are paid for with taxes levied on you and me.

Living in the US and using the services provided by the government is just like picking up an apple in a store and taking a bite. You agree to pay for them because you live here and you use them. The agreement takes the form of taxation. The obvious conclusion is that the money that goes to pay taxes was never yours in the first place. It is the money that you owe to cover the costs associated with services that you use every day. To claim that it is "your" money is to suggest that you are separate from and above the social contract that we all agree to when we continue to live in the US. When you say its "your" money, what you are really saying is that you don't honor the social contract. You don't believe in paying for the services that you use every day. Such an attitude is anti-democratic and dangerous to our great country. And, if you really don't believe in that social contract, then maybe it's time to find a new place to live.

Conservatives no longer honor the social contract. Liberals do. And that makes all the difference...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Criticism of

A Facebook friend of mine recently repeated the meme that the Obama administration had spent $19 million on the website, and that the erroneous information that has shown up there is all Obama's fault. He also cited examples from Oklahoma and Arizona of spending attributed to nonexistent congressional districts.

In fact, the data is provided by the states, who actually spend the money, not the feds. The feds just compile the statistics. Now, I grant you that it's not that hard to write software to audit the data for validity, and it should have been done. I also find it extremely humorous that the two states he cited as examples of fishy spending are controlled by the GOP, not by Democrats.

Nobody has spent $19 million yet. The GSA awarded a contract in July for $9.5 million to build a new version of the website, substituting crappy and expensive Microsoft SharePoint for the current open source Drupal-based website. There are options for up to $9 million in additional payments through 2014 for upgrades and ongoing maintenance. I don't know if those amounts include the salaries of the staff who process the data from the states. My friend also claimed that the website could have been provided by GoDaddy for $200 a year. It is not possible to run a website with the volume and interactivity requirements of for $200 a year. However, using open source server software, commodity hardware, and a standard web application framework, it could probably be done very well for less than $1 million, plus annual maintenance.

IMHO as a software professional, the decision to use M$ is stupid and wasteful, but GSA procurement rules favor M$ almost to the exclusion of anything else. It is next to impossible for a federal employee to purchase a Mac or a Linux PC.

The GSA rules and the GSA decision makers predate the Obama administration, so sticking Obama with the blame for this is a stretch, even for my friend. Let's remember that the GSA writes rules subject to legislative oversight. The Dems have only controlled Congress since January, and given all the crises that were inherited after 14 years of Republican misrule in Congress and 8 years in the White House, I somehow doubt that hardware and software purchasing rules have risen to the top of the priority list. I agree, though. These Newt Gingrich-era rules need to be changed, and quickly.

Will the $19 million ultimately be spent? Absolutely. That's how every bureaucracy works. Allocated budget that is unspent is lost. There are no rewards for parsimony in a bureaucracy. That is just as true in corporations, too. Private enterprise does no better than government in this area.

That's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I wish I was 1/10th as smart as Teddy Roosevelt

During his tenure in the White House, Theodore Roosevelt had shown how powerful that office could be in marshalling reform sentiment. He believed that the president had to be responsive to the will of the people, but that he also had an obligation to lead and not merely follow the mob.


Rich Germans demand higher taxes

Wealthy people who actually give a damn about their fellow citizens? Unthinkable!

From the BBC


I've tandem-jumped twice, in 2003 and 2007. Both jumps were part of 21st birthday celebration weekends for our daughters Emilie and Katie, and both jumps were in Las Vegas.

The first jump was exhilarating. We jumped from a converted cargo plane that held eight pairs of jumpers. I was the last to go, after my daughters Sara and Emilie and my nephew Chad. The view was fabulous -- we could see the Strip, Lake Mead, and Hoover dam on the way down. I remember standing in front of the door, waiting to go, and looking down 10,000 feet to the desert below. What a rush!

The second jump was terrifying. We jumped from a converted four passenger Cessna that had all the seats removed except for the pilot. We sat on the floor, and when it was time to go, we had to clamber out onto a narrow strut under the wing and stand outside the plane without hanging on to anything until the jump master was ready. My guy was a daredevil, and he executed a barrel roll out of the plane without telling me first. I nearly lost my goggles and glasses, and spent the time in free fall frantically trying to get them back into position. The view was pretty lame, just desert and more desert, as we jumped with a different company from a different airstrip.

I will jump again when my niece Amanda turns 21 in about six years because her dad is afraid of heights and won't go with her. Probably not before then, since it's a rather expensive hobby and because I don't want to tempt fate too often...

What is it with politicians from South Carolina?

A [Republican] deputy assistant attorney general who said he was on his lunch break when an officer found him with a stripper and sex toys in his sport utility vehicle has been fired, his boss said Wednesday.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

More news you won't see on Fox

What kind of person can equate an attempt to provide health coverage to all Americans with the systematic slaughter of 6 million Jews? I just don't understand...

Matthew Yglesias » Scenes From a Tea Party

What a shocker!

A Republican chicken hawk blocking improved benefits for our deserving veterans. I wonder what Rush Limbaugh will have to say about this?

Take Action: Senator Coburn Blocking Vets' Aid - Will You Stand Up To Him?

More fun and games from South Carolina

Federal judge nixes SC license tag with cross

I'm a Christian, and I don't understand why these so-called Christians don't follow Jesus on this one:
“Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:5)

The Tragedy of the (Unmanaged) Commons

A Libertarian acquaintance insisted that I read The Tragedy of the Commons by Garrett Hardin. I also read Hardin's later comments about his 1974 essay, in which he said:
"Individualism is cherished because it produces freedom, but the gift is conditional: The more the population exceeds the carrying capacity of the environment, the more freedoms must be given up...Yet the slightest attempt to limit this freedom is promptly denounced with cries of Elitism! Big-Brotherism! Despotism! Fascism! and the like. We are slow to mend our ways because ethicists and philosophers of the past generally did not see that numbers matter."
It's obvious that Hardin was a smart guy who grew wiser with age. However, I suggest libertarians pay attention to everything he said, not just the cherry-picked parts that fit libertarian dogma.

More insanity from South Carolina

Apparently it's now illegal for any Republican to work with Democrats to make the world a better place.

The Associated Press: US Sen. Lindsey Graham censured by SC county GOP

Monday, April 06, 2009

Meet the new boss...

Anybody else who wants to personally oversee the greedy SOBs on Wall Street being drawn and quartered? I happily contributed money to and voted for Obama, but I cannot believe what is going on in his Treasury Department or in our gutless Congress. This interview by Bill Moyers is simply terrifying.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. -- Pete Townshend

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sign waving in Highlands Ranch

I finally had some free time today, so I spent two hours waving Obama signs on Broadway just south of C-470.

My (admittedly) unscientific observations about the folks who responded:

  • Among the folks who expressed an opinion, Obama supporters outnumbered McCain supporters by about a 2-1 margin.
  • I got three obscene gestures, two from Joe the plumber clones and one from a white-haired guy in a Cadillac Escalade.
  • Two guys yelled "Communist" as they drove buy, and one guy in a BMW Z3 tried to tell me that I would regret my choice.
  • The Obama supporters seemed quite upbeat, with lots of shouting and cheering. The McCain supporters (with a few exceptions) were pretty subdued.
My shoulders are sore from holding my arms up that long, but it was a beautiful afternoon and a lot of fun! Maybe I should have run for HD43 again this year. 2008 might be a pretty good year to be a Democrat in Highlands Ranch!