RIP Theodora Nathan

Theodora “Tonie” Nathan passed away today at the age of 91.  If you are scratching your head not sure of who that is or why you should be aware of it, Tonie was the first woman in the United States that earned an electoral vote for Vice President of the United States.  This happened in 1972.

In 1972, running as a vice presidential candidate for the first Libertarian Party ticket for the presidential candidate John Hospers, Republican elector Roger MacBride of Virginia who was supposed to vote for Richard Nixon but in protest voted for the Hospers-Nathan ticket instead.  When reading the results of the vote, the man reading them read her name as ‘Theodore’ instead of Theodora.

At that moment, she became the first woman to receive an electoral vote for vice president, as well as the first Jewish person to receive an electoral vote for vice president.  John Hospers was the first gay man to receive an electoral vote (as far as we know).

In an era when both Democrats and Republicans work very hard to smear the ideals of libertarianism and the Libertarian Party for political purposes (they feel that those vote that they ‘steal’ are rightfully theirs despite not having earned them) the facts of the Libertarian Party in leading for civil rights for everyone have been lost.  To the point that when frustrated about a comment he made about a reporter, Alec Baldwin responded with the tweet

@ABFalecbaldwin: When did all this Breitbart libertarian trash become the defenders of gay rights?””

While most libertarians can’t speak to Breitbart’s group (as he isn’t a libertarian, nor is his group), libertarians have been defenders of gay rights since, well, always.  And defenders of women’s rights.  And everyone’s rights.  Progressive Democrats didn’t get around to supporting gay marriage until 2012.  Conservative Republicans will get there, kicking and screaming, within ten years.

Because, unlike Progressive and Conservative views, Libertarians are bound by a basic philosophy that puts others above them.  The rights of the individual, not the individual self but every single possible individual, are above politics.  The real measure of your defense of rights is not how vehemently you defend your own, it is how you defend the rights of those that you disagree with.  Our views don’t change for political expediency or getting votes, we don’t think that natural rights that each person has are up for political negotiations.  Unfortunately the same thing cannot be said of the two major parties who put your rights up for negotiation at every election.

Theodora earned her nomination on merit, not as a political stunt.  Nor did she campaign for it.  She was a TV producer from Oregon who showed up for the convention.  Because of some well-phrased comments from the floor during debates over the platform and statement of principles that impressed the rest of the delegation, she was nominated as the candidate for vice president of the United States.

She was also a founding member and former vice chair of the Libertarian Party, as well as a founding member and former president of the Association of Libertarian Feminists.

The New Normal

Many people think that the road to totalitarianism is going to be a swift seemingly overnight change, but the reality is that in today’s world, the best way it can occur is little by little over a long period of time.  Most people would be aghast of thinking that they could support such a horrific form of government, but as it is introduced in small chunks, over time, abuses that we once thought were egregious are accepted into our everyday lives and we fold them into our new normal.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what has been happening for decades in the United States.  A good example are the RICO statues that allowed for law enforcement to seize assets from SUSPECTED crime organizations.  The notion that a person was innocent until proven guilty was thrown out in order to give the government more power to prosecute drug offenses, blocking the defendant’s ability to use their assets to defend themselves.  They have had the support of both parties in power so there is little to stop the encroachment.  Under the current administration, they have become even more commonplace, giving billions to the federal and state governments.

The Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund under President Obama is the largest it’s ever been, having grown from $500 million in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2011, according to a new report from the GAO.

In addition to the fund’s size, payments from the fund to local law enforcement agencies totalled $445 million in 2011, another all-time high. These payouts are part of the DOJ’s “equitable sharing agreement,” which incentivizes local cops to conduct federal raids. They then get a portion of the assets seized during the raid (more money if they contribute more resources). That money is then used to finance SWAT and paramilitary training, as well as the acquisition of military grade weapons and equipment.

Originally enacted in 1970, the power assumed by the government to do this was debated heavily with civil libertarians fighting against it, suggesting a ‘slippery slope’.  Once enacted, it because the new normal and the criticisms died down except for staunch civil libertarians who were then seen as ‘fringe’.

Of course, it was eventually expanded to include drug lords, securities fraud and yes, the holy grail, terrorism.  In fact, many people don’t realize it but it was the power taken by the government for the RICO statutes that allowed for much of the Patriot Act to be seen by its proponents as somehow legal.  Had the government not taken that initial power, that we eventually accepted as ‘the way things are’, the Patriot Act would have had a much harder time passing.

Of course, this is just an example.  Let’s start with the Patriot Act now and see where that has gotten us.

When initially proposed, civil libertarians again decried it.  Some Democrats and some Republicans were also against it, but the established senators and congressmen voted for it.  But to get it passed they had to attach expiration clauses to the law so that in the future it could be done away with, at such a time when people realized that the fear they were living in because of 9/11 was temporary and would go away.

But what has happened since?  The law has been renewed and renewed, time and time again.  First with a Republican congress and president, then with a Democratic congress and Republican president, then a Democratic congress and president.  Now it is likely to be passed again.  And why?  Well, we’ve come to accept that it is normal.

As Glen Greenwald writes:

Remember when, in the wake of the 9/11 attack, the Patriot Act was controversial, held up as the symbolic face of Bush/Cheney radicalism and widely lamented as a threat to core American liberties and restraints on federal surveillance and detention powers? Yet now, the Patriot Act is quietly renewed every four years by overwhelming majorities in both parties (despite substantial evidence of serious abuse), and almost nobody is bothered by it any longer. That’s how extremist powers become normalized: they just become such a fixture in our political culture that we are trained to take them for granted, to view the warped as normal.

His article then expands on several more examples.  From the initial screams about torture that faded into acceptance as this administration has been torturing US citizens to President Obama now acting on the claim that he has the right to act as judge, jury and executioner, for suspected terrorists, including US Citizens, on the basis of secret evidence.

Isn’t it amazing that a newspaper editorial even has to say: you know, the President isn’t really supposed to have the power to act as judge, jury and executioner and order American citizens assassinated with no transparency or due process? And isn’t it even more amazing that the current President has actually seized and exercised this power with very little controversy? Recall that when The New York Times first confirmed Obama’s targeting of citizens for assassinations in 2010, it noted, citing “officials,” that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.” No longer. That presidential power — literally the most tyrannical power a political leader can seize — is also now a barely noticed fixture of our political culture.

Don’t forget the expansion of the wiretapping powers of the president that this administration has put into place after excoriating the previous administration for first implementing it.

Or the new ‘all seeing’ surveillance systems being implemented.

Or the TSA violations of search and seizure protections without reasonable suspicion.

Or the new cybersecurity law that will incentivize private businesses to spy on you and turn that information into the government.

Or the unmanned drones that are used to spy and carry out executions from the air.

There is zero question that this drone surveillance is coming to American soil. It already has spawned a vast industry that is quickly securing formal approval for the proliferation of these surveillance weapons. There’s some growing though still marginal oppositionamong both the independent left and the more libertarian-leaning precincts on the right, but at the moment, that trans-ideological coalition is easily outgunned by the combination of drone industry lobbyists and Surveillance State fanatics. The idea of flying robots hovering over American soil monitoring what citizens do en masse is yet another one of those ideas that, in the very recent past, seemed too radical and dystopian to entertain, yet is on the road to being quickly mainstreamed. When that happens, it is no longer deemed radical to advocate such things; radicalism is evinced by opposition to them.

No, this is how totalitarianism comes to be, little by little, like the frogs in the boiling pot of water.  For those that are unfamiliar with that anecdote:

The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.

Here we are, in the boiling pot of water, and the ‘left’ and ‘right’ are too busy shouting insults at each other to realize that by remaining quiet to the abuses of their own party in order to attack the other they are allowing the heat to be turned up, little by little.

The sad fact is that by the time enough people realize what is going on, it will be far to late to turn back the wheels of oppression.

Your Voice is Needed Now

Showing how little regard the Obama administration and a large percentage of both Democrats and Republicans have for our rights to privacy, today the Obama administration is pushing the US Senate to pass the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 before opposition from several lawmakers can either stall or alter the bill to actually respect the rights of the American people.

Computerworld provides some details:

Four White House officials called on the Senate to pass the revised Cybersecurity Act, a bill that would create a new mechanism for businesses to share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies.

The bill would also create a new intra-agency council to work with private companies to develop cybersecurity standards that businesses could voluntarily adopt. The bill would offer incentives to companies that volunteer for cybersecurity programs, including protection from lawsuits related to cyberincidents and increased help and information on cybersecurity issues from U.S. agencies.

It’s “imperative” for the Senate to pass comprehensive cybersecurity legislature, John Brennan, assistant to President Barack Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism, said during a press briefing. The bill would give cybersecurity professional the “tools they need to deal with this increasingly sophisticated and pervasive threat,” he added.

Anti-privacy Senators are pushing this bill to hand the reins of our cybersecurity systems to the miligary intelligence agencies like the NSA, the very agency responsible for the warrantless wiretapping program instituted under the Bush administration and expanded by the Obama administration.

Not everyone in the US Senate is happy about this, there is an amendment that would help go a long way to neuter the outrageous violations that this bill would use.  Senators Franken and Paul have teamed up to offer the Franken-Paul amendment that would ensure that companies do not have new, overbroad authority to monitor and even block our private communications.

But the purpose of this bill is very clear.  It would incentivize private companies to collect AND hand over communications that take place on private servers over to the government.  The thinking is that this will not violate anyone’s rights since the government would not be demanding the info, it would just be given to them.

And that’s the insidiousness of the whole idea, we, the American people, would be paying the government through taxes to pay private companies to spy on us…

This bill is not needed and is a gross violation of our rights.

This is also the end result of ‘bipartisanship’.  I keep hearing many calling on our government to lead through bipartisanship, but whenever that happens, that is when our rights get stripped.  When neither of the parties is blocking the overreach of the government being pushed by the other party, the end result is the further erosion of our rights.

Stand up for the rights, not just yours but everyone’s.  It’s the American thing to do.  Blocking this outrageousness is the real imperative.

Obama & Romney, Identical Cousins

With supporters of both the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates treating each other as if they are total opposites in their views, but the reality is that there is very little difference between the two.  A recent article written has listed out 100 areas in which they are similar.

W E Messamore has compiled a list of 100 Ways Mitt Romney is Just Like Barak Obama.  It was based on a New York Times article that could only come up with three, obviously they didn’t give it much thought.  Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

4. The signature legislative accomplishment of the man that Republicans have chosen to repeal and replace “ObamaCare” was “RomneyCare,” which was the blueprint and model for The Affordable Care Act.

11. The same Wall Street recipients of TARP bailout money that were top Obama donors in 2008 are top Romney donors in 2012.

14. Like Obama, Romney supports taxpayer bailouts of struggling corporations– handouts that go from hardworking Americans to wealthy companies with irresponsible management.

19. Another thing that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have in common is that the numbers strongly suggest they were both wrong about the 2009 economic stimulus package.

21. On monetary policy, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama do not see any urgent need to change the status quo and any reform of the Federal Reserve system is not a public policy priority for either candidate.

22. Like Barack Obama, who reappointed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Mitt Romney has approved of Ben Bernanke’s handling of the financial crisis and monetary policy in America.

23. Mitt Romney approves of Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner’s record on economic policy as well.

32. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama‘s federal budget plans would add trillions of dollars to the already unsustainable national debt over the next ten years.

33. Neither Mitt Romney, nor Barack Obama have offered a plan of detailed, substantive spending cuts to the out-of-control federal budget that pass the straight face test.

36. Neither Barack Obama, nor Mitt Romney‘s actions are consistent with their rhetoric on earmarks.

37. Spending categorized as defense-related has only gone up during President Obama’s first term from $616 billion under Bush in 2008 to $768 billion in 2011, and Obama still wants even more. So does Romney.

42. Despite running on a platform of change, Obama’s first term as president has demonstrated his commitment to the Bush era strategies of nation building and counter-insurgency. Mitt Romney doesn’t think Obama’s commitment to nation building is strong enough.

43. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support the Bush era doctrine of preemptive war.

44. Mitt Romney agrees with President Obama that the president can act unilaterally to take the country to war without Congress.

45. Though Obama paints Romney as an American unilateralist willing to take military action without the blessing and cooperation of the international community, Romney and Obama actually both agree with the Bush era foreign policy of unilateral US military action, and Obama took unilateral military action in the Osama bin Laden raid.

51. Barack Obama has been a consistent supporter and escalator, as both Senator and President, of George W. Bush’s war and counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. Mitt Romney thinks he isn’t supportive enough.

56. Tim Pawlenty– on Romney’s short list for a VP– has suggested that Mitt Romney would expand Barack Obama’s already unprecedented use of drone warfare.

61. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney support indefinite detention of terror suspects without trial as a valid and legal tool in the national security state’s war on terrorism.

66. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support the warrantless wiretapping of the Bush-era USA Patriot Act, which Romney has praised and Obama has acted to renew multiple times as both Senator and President.

68. Like Obama, Romney believes in the legitimate power of the president to execute American citizens by “targeted killing” done in secret without charges or trial.

69. Mitt Romney emphatically supported Barack Obama’s decision in 2011 to use “targeted killing” to execute US citizen Anwar al Awlaki by drone strike without charges or trial.

70. On the Bush and Obama-era TSA, Mitt Romney’s position is tinker a little, but maintain the status quo.

72. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support continuing drug prohibition and the forty-year-old, Nixon-era War on Drugs.

73. Mitt Romney also supports the continued raids and prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries (and even patients) that have characterized Obama Administration as well as Bush-era policy on medical marijuana.

75. Despite criticizing Bush for unconstitutional executive overreach via signing statements, Obama has continued the practice, and Mitt Romney says he will too.

The writer leaves several more out that they couldn’t fit into the 100.  In reality the list could continue for quite some time.

People were tired of Bush and wanted something different.  They were promised that in Obama, but more often than not were rewarded with just more of the same.  And now, along comes another just like them both that will keep rolling things down the hill, expanding the power of the federal government and limiting the rights of the people they are supposed to be serving.

It is also why 80% of the people in the US are willing to look at a viable change to the current Status Quo and vote for a 3rd party candidate, one that isn’t beholden to entrenched powers that are only after the accumulation of power into one place to be easily wielded.

It explains why Gary Johnson at this point, before any real news support or inclusion into the debates, is polling higher than any other 3rd party candidate in the past 20 years.

Even if you are a supporter of the Democrat or Republican party, admit to yourself that neither candidate is adequately representing your views or needs.  They don’t feel they have to, they just have to make you dislike the other guy and you’ll ‘forgive them’.  The only way to actually get them back on track is to put a scare into them.  Demanding that a viable 3rd party candidate be included in the debates and allowed to be brought into the discussion is the only way they will be forced back to their base and listening to you again.

Support Gary Johnson’s inclusion into the race, you don’t have to support him or say you support him, just that he should be included.  After all, choice is good, right?

Massaging the Numbers

The worst part about modern politics is the lengths that politicians will go through just to convince those unwilling to use logic and facts that they are telling the truth.  And further, when they attempt to use fallacies to bolster these claims even though a little fact checking will counter them pretty quickly.  But beyond that, when the organizations we depend upon to do this legwork for us are just either too lazy or too self-interested to give it a good honest try.

And so it goes with the constant assertion we hear that health care reform is going to ‘lower our national deficit’.  Most people with common sense will immediately question this claim, because history has shown us that this just is never the case with the government managing something.  Government is politics and when politics get involved, it always costs more money. 

However, when you have an administration that has no scruples and is willing to lie directly to the American people as this one has done on several occasions, and who have the backing of the media in this endeavor, it will be years before people finally realize what was done to them and by then, of course, it will be too late. 

But, for those who do have common sense but are baffled as to how the administration can keep saying that they are going to cut the deficit by 1 trillion dollars while paying for 15 million new people’s healthcare (and eventually another 185 million), let’s go through just how they have gone about this so that hopefully you will be able to identify the tactics in the future.

Now to begin with, where does the president get this figure?  He is taking it from the Congressional Budget Office.  The CBO is a nonpartisan group that is responsible for evaluating legislation and then determining the eventual economic impact of that legislation.  That sounds great, except that the CBO is still a government agency and, more importantly, must abide by specific rules while evaluating legislation.  It is knowing and working within these rules that the administration has acted dishonestly in order to push through legislation that they know will not do what they claim.

One of the areas that congress was told would not lead to deficit neutrality was what has been called the ‘doc fix’ by those in the know.  This is a permanent change to the way doctors are reimbursed for Medicare claims.  This was originally in the legislation but was removed when the CBO warned that, when combined with the rest of the healthcare package, it “would increase the budget deficit in 2019 by $23 billion relative to current law, an increment that would grow in subsequent years.”  So, what was the answer?  The democrats removed the section from the legislation and then passed it on its own.  So, because this is no longer in the legislation, it is not evaluated, even though we already know that once this goes into effect it will result in the same outcome, increasing the deficit.  The CBO has since warned about this but because of their rules they are not allowed to include this information in evaluating the actual healthcare bill.

As you can see, manipulating the CBO, once you know the rules, are easy games that the politicians play.  Because they are not interested in the final outcome matching what they say, they are interested in increasing power to their political party and passing their agenda at all costs.  Honesty is just not a priority, just as liberty and freedom are words they read in a speech while trying to attain the power they work towards.

Of course, that was not the only example, or even the worst.  Another rule is that the CBO must take congress at its word about future, unspecified, cuts in spending.  The legislation mentions that spending will be cut but doesn’t mention how or where, but because it will be cut the CBO has to accept that in its evaluation.  And did they promise some cuts!  Lots and lots of cuts, around $300 Billion, which we all know will NEVER EVER HAPPEN.  The CBO, to their credit, has issues supplemental warnings about this and what would happen if those cuts don’t take place as promised, but those don’t make it into the president’s speeches for some reason.

But wait, there’s more!  In addition to having to evaluation only the specific piece of legislation and having to accept as fact future unspecified budget cuts promised, the CBO can only evaluate the effects of legislation 10 years out from the date of passage.  This is why, in the legislation, it starts collecting for the programs years before any spending takes place and then kicks in to high gear on the spending phase just as that buffer starts to get depleted.  What happens when that clock catches up is beyond the limits of what the CBO can, by their own rules, evaluate.

Of course, this is all trivial considering the history of what government programs end up really costing as opposed to what they are proposed to cost.  Looking at the promised costs of Social Security, Medicare, the Iraq War, just to name a few and comparing them to what the true eventual costs were can leave someone scratching their heads. 

And none of this has anything to do with the political ramifications of what is being discussed.  For example, the blatant unconstitutionality of requiring every single American to be covered under a health insurance plan?  Or the fact that we already have the US government paying for over 50% of our health care with the government spending $1,000 more, per person, for health care than the Canadians do, for example.  Or even the fact that insulating individuals even MORE from the results of their own actions and needs with insurance costs based not on their lifestyles but on how much they make is ensuring that we will become less and less healthy without further governmental action into our lives to tell us how to eat, sleep, drink and live…

And to be honest, that is where I think this is really headed.  Once we buy in that we are all costing each other (and the government) money by how we live, the government will determine that it has an authority to ensure that those costs are mitigated by passing laws restricting how we choose to live our lives.

Definitely NOT a view of freedom and liberty that millions have sacrificed their lives over the years for us to enjoy.

More on My Watchblog Departure

Ok, so I was obviously upset last week when I had five years of my life wiped away in an instant for questioning the editor of Watchblog.  I was going to write a detailed post concerning the events surrounding what happened then, but while it was cathartic, I felt it came from a much darker place than I really wanted to put out for everyone to read.  Instead, I decided to take a week away and consider what had transpired and come back with a much calmer and more even-handed explanation of what led to this situation.

First, I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to write for Watchblog five and a half years ago, I had been doing political writing on and off before then but was just getting into making it a serious endeavor and the people at Watchblog who I agreed and disagreed with over the years made me a better writer than I ever could have been without them.  This is the one positive I can take away from the experience.

Over the past five years there have been many things with Watchblog that I was saddened to see happen to a place that I really believed in.  Writers being dismissed because they disagreed with the Managing Editor has not been an uncommon occurrence, unfortunately.  One writer was removed because he wrote an article that did not link back to another article.  This wasn’t a requirement when I was hired and indeed, I have since seen other writers doing the same thing, including the Managing Editor himself.  Other times it appears that people are blocked access because of who they disagree with rather than how they disagree.  But since none of this is made public, instead we are supposed to accept that the Managing Editor is without flaw, we must continue on and accept the situation as best we can.  Further, asking for such basic things that other blogs have now like ‘share with facebook’ or ‘digg’, etc are just not available on the site, the website’s technology has not changed in 6 years since it was originally put in place, it is even running on a very outdated version of Movable Type.  This, however, is more of the fault of the lack of interest in the site by the owner, Cameron Barrett, than the Managing Editor.

Even worse, the Managing Editor started his own copy-cat blog of Watchblog (politwatch.org) and invited many of the current writers of Watchblog to start writing for his site.  I’m sorry, but this was one of the lowest things I had seen anyone do in a long time, without even having the guts to cut ties with his current responsibilities to Watchblog but to then use his access to the email addresses and contact information for the current cadre of writers to invite them to a new site you are opening while still managing the existing one?  The fact that it is a complete failure doesn’t lesson the ethical embarrassment of what was done.  I of course declined his invitation.

Unfortunately, two weeks ago I found something that struck me to the bone even worse.  In the comments section of an article, I had engaged the Managing Editor about deficits and surpluses, etc.  In one comment he mentioned that I should be using Fiscal Year numbers, not actual year numbers, to be accurate.  I pointed out to him that if he had read the link I had presented, he would have seen that I had done just that.  Then, in his next comment, he mentioned that I should be using actual year numbers, not Fiscal Year numbers.  I was kind of dumbfounded, especially when I had just answered an comment from him stating the exact opposite.  When I went back to find the original comment he had made, I was shocked to find that the comment was no longer there!  It had been edited (or as David pointed out later, deleted and a new comment put in his place, as if that makes a difference) to not say what he had said at all!  Not that a typo had been corrected, which is really the only reason anyone should be editing anything they have previously written.  Or even grammar.  He didn’t even change it to say he really meant actual year instead of Fiscal Year, he just took that portion of the comment completely out.

I’m sorry, but this is inexcusable, not just as a writer, but such an abuse of power from an Editor, especially the Managing Editor!  The response?  Nothing.  No admission of guilt, no apology, no mention of it at all.  It just wasn’t to be talked about.  This would have cost any other writer the privilege of writing there, but the Managing Editor is able to just continue on as if it meant nothing.

So naturally, my disappointment with the way the site was being ran fell to a level that left me wondering why I was even still there.

However, the problem with leaving Watchblog is that your articles that you’ve written are lost forever.  There is no way to allow for a writer’s posts to remain but just cut them access.  Which is insane.  And very sad in the fact that many writers have been removed to have their posts removed allowing for no real history of the place.  I would have recommended changing my password and leaving the articles in place, but apparently this option has never crossed the minds of the Managing Editor, or else he wants to retain that threat to use over the heads of the writers who cross him.

Finally, last week in a comments conversation, much like several I have had over the years with David, he wrote a long reply to one of my comments saying things like calling my views ‘Bullcrap’, that I should ‘Get over it’, restating things as fact that I had refuted several times, and generally being very terse towards my views.  A couple of minutes later, he posted another comment to say ‘Let’s move this conversation to emails’.  This was done as David Remer, not as Managing Editor, as he had done in the past when warning people that they were about to cross the line.  As I was told later, it was still him and I should have shown him his due respect.  So the lesson is that David is the Managing Editor, do not cross him or disrespect him ever, in any way, or your fate may be the same.

So now we have a long public mean-spirited comment towards me left on the comments section and I was not allowed to respond to it publicly.  After everything that had happened and the lack of respect that had been shown me while writing for Watchblog, including multiple accusations of racism, I was not about to let it go without  making it clear that I did not approve.  So, my response was simply:

You mean, “let me make wild accusations, reclaim things that have already been shown to be false, jump to all kinds of conclusions and leaps of logic of dizzying hights, all in a public venue, but don’t respond to me in public…”?

Nah, I’m good with leaving it as it is.

This is what cost me five years of work and the ability to continue even commenting on anything at Watchblog.  In the emails that followed, I was told that the reason for the request to go to email was because David ‘had a feeling I would end up crossing the line in my replies’ which of course hadn’t happened in our conversations, which were much more heated over the years than this was.  Worse, he then told me that I had ‘proven him right’ by responding as I had, with a personal attack.

Now, you can say what you want about this being a personal attack.  I disagree, it was an observed redefinition of what he had said, a tactic he has used himself over the years.  But, beyond that, to not even accept that his actions of posting such a comment in public towards me and then not wanting me to respond?  To not admit that he was wrong in any way?  I just chose not to take it anymore.  I responded to him in email and let him know of my displeasure.  He responded that since my response was not sufficiently ‘bowing and scraping’ enough, that I was not
showing him any reason to be reinstated.  My response was that I had not asked to be reinstated and would not be asking such a thing since he could not accept for himself that he had done anything wrong. 

I’m sorry, but i can no longer work for this type of management of a weblog.  It is irrational and mean-spirited, accepting more of those that agree with than disagree with David politically and I simply will no longer be treated in such a manner by anyone, even if it does mean that I will no longer be writing at Watchblog.

The unfortunate piece is that I started doing this writing because I wanted to make a difference, to affect and influence the minds of people to think beyond what they are told and look at things in a new way.  I never wanted to ‘brainwash’ anyone, but to kick start the thinking processes in others so that they could come to better informed conclusions themselves.  I am saddened that it appears that no one was ever affected, that my missions was for naught.  I received one email about my leaving, I had sort of expected there to be more.  It just appears that I was not as much of an influence as I had hoped that I would be and has caused me to further evaluate my purpose in doing this writing as opposed to the other things in my life that bring me pleasure and happiness. 

If I decide not to do any more writing, I’ll make sure to post on that before I shut down this blog, but as it is I am not sure how much motivation I have to continue.  That is some soul-searching that I am going to take on and determine over the course of the next few weeks…

Watchblog Writer No More

Yes, I am no longer allowed on Watchblog, it is probably the best decision.  If anyone wants to get in contact with me, please feel free to email me at rhinehold @ rhinehold.org, just remove the spaces.  I will post an article about this later tonight when I have a little more time.

I am also writing at rhinehold.newsvine.com if you want to continue following my articles there and providing me scorn and derision.  Don’t worry, I only take things personal when they are intended that way so feel free. 🙂

I have also been in discussion with the Libertarian Party about officially writing for them, these are exciting times.

Land of the Subsidized

Friday was an important day.  A day when the US crossed a threshold that it is looking less likely to cross back the other way on.  On Friday, January 22, 2010, the United States federal government put into full force of law its 2000th subsidy program.

This number may seem small but in reality, compared to the past, it is disturbingly large.  In the 70’s we were around 1000, this didn’t change much through the Nixon, Carter, Ford and Reagan years.  But between George Bush the first, Clinton and George Bush the second we managed to push that number up to 1,645.  Over 20 years. 

However, since the Democratic Congress took over from the Republicans, and then a Democratic President was elected, that number has exploded to over 2,000.  Data for this information can be found here.

People are upset about our debt, and they should be.  They are upset about our spending, and they should be.  But I wonder how many know just how many DIFFERENT subsidies that are handed out from the federal government (this does NOT include state or local governments)?

Do we really need this many?  What is the point of them all?  How many are trying to force people to live their lives as the politicians see fit instead of letting people live their lives as they want to?  How many are in response to previous programs that have created greater need but instead of being pulled back just needed some ‘tweaking’ with another program?

How many do you think the people who need them even know about them?  I recall one program put into place a year ago in response to the home mortgage ‘crisis’.  The program was set up to allow homeowners to renegotiate their mortgage.  After months of being available, it turned out <strong>ONE</strong> family had qualified and taken advantage of the program.  More people were going to private companies and renegotiating directly instead.  How much did that program cost us just to exist, staff and finally service a single family?

Who is doing the means testing?  Who is doing the cost/benefit analysis?  Who is performing the oversight while we continue to rack up trillions of dollars in debt that we have increasingly no hope of ever paying back, all the while spending billions on just the negotiations and talks around creating one of the largest new spending programs ever?

President Obama was going to get out his red pen.  I’m sure you all remember the promise.  I am thinking that he must have forgotten where he put it…

Atheists Need Not Join

In doing some local organization of Libertarians I have come across some of my fellow party members that are latching onto the 912 Project of Glenn Beck’s.  Not knowing much about it I did some research and found that not only was it ‘phony’ Libertarianism but I was definitely not a person it is directed towards or included in.

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The InDecider

Perhaps President Obama is trying too hard to not be seen as his predecessor. Instead of being known as “The Decider”, is President Obama trying to be known as “The InDecider”? In most cases he can spend time making up his mind (by reading polling data trends) but his lack of a quick decision in the Afghanistan theater is a worrisome trend.  However, worse for the world, next spring he may not be able to take that time as the issues in the Middle East quickly come to a head.

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