Archive for January, 2012

1012 Monroe County, IN Primaries

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Indiana Primaries are May 8th this year, so what better time to get to know your candidates.Data from USElections.com

Mitch is term limited as governor, so here are your choices:

In the Senate race, Dick Lugar ( Dick Lugar (R) | Campaign Site ) will be trying to retain his seat for his 5 zillionth term. His opponents are:

In the House race, Todd Young ( Todd Young (R) | Campaign Site ) will try to hold his seat for a second term. His opponents are:

I can’t seem to find information about who is running in the local elections. Here is a list of all offices we will vote for in Monroe County in 2012 from the Monroe County Election Board.

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SOPA

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h/t iOwnTheWorld. Check out BigFurHat’s take on this.

When I was a teenager, compact discs were brand new, it was mostly vinyl and cassettes. I had a voracious appetite for new music that outpaced what I was willing to spend. I would borrow friends’ music and “dub” it to cassette with no guilt. I would also make mixes for people. This did help the artists some, as if I really liked a band or album I had dubbed or discovered on a mix tape, I would pick something up by them. In retrospect, stealing whole albums was wrong, but sharing mixed tapes, is a little more nebulous. Not only is the creative assembly of the mix-maker involved, the chosen songs could act as advertisements for the act’s albums. Piracy back then was low quality bootleg cassettes.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Everything is digital now, save for the scattered vintage audiophile. You can get almost anything for free if you know where to look (I don’t, but that’s my understanding). The MPAA, RIAA, etc. are still wresting with piracy and are failing to find a nuanced approach to the issue.

Bill Maher has a point here (did I just write that?) : There is a moral dimension to this (and Bill Maher is talking about morality?). Matt Lewis also has a point: That SOPA would apparently allow the feds to take down the Daily Caller because a commenter on the site adds content that infringes on a copyright before even investigating. Giants such as Facebook and YouTube may have the resources to comply, but the overhead for start-ups would be crippling.

I think there should be steps taken to curb piracy, but my understanding of SOPA shows that media giants and legislators are still out of touch with media consumers. I agree with BigFurHat’s conclusion.

Ultimately the best comment was by Jennifer Granholm, “the issue has to be addressed with a scalpel, not an ax.”

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Blog Spam

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I find it incredible the amount of spam this blog receives. I think I hadn’t checked for a week and I had over 700 spam comments. The headache this produces is mostly my own, as there are reasonably priced tools such as Akismet to ease the pain of handling spam, but that’s not my point. I also point out that I had zero real comments not to complain but to convey that this is not a popular blog. I would imagine the number (~100 per day) would increase if it was more popular. Also note I must approve all comments, and I deleted all these, so the goal (to get links to the spammers’ site on to my site) failed, as far as I can tell.

So what we have is a 100 or so comments a day being delivered to a small blog that never publishes them, but they keep coming. I’m assuming the spammers are getting ROI, or they would stop, but I wish I could reach out to them and tell them that spamming me is a waste of effort. I first imagined children in a third world country being paid pennies an hour to post comments, but looked into it and apparently there are tools such as Trackback Submitter that can find blogs and auto-spam them. Great.

I should probably break down and use Akismet. I will get an ironic chuckle when they try to fill this posts’ comments with spam.

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U.S Military Bases on Foreign Soil

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So I was talking with some co-workers the other day and the topic of U.S. bases on foreign soil and why we have so many came up.  None of us could say for sure. The liberal view is that it’s an occupation, while conservatives tend to take a “peace through strength” view. However, my fellow conservative and I had to admit that the fact that we have hundreds of overseas bases seemed hard to justify. While military spending admittedly is a political third rail for conservatives, injudicious military spending is not adding to our strength. So I tried to discover how it was justified.

The primary reasoning for having any satellite bases around the world revolves around the idea of the  Loss of Strength Gradient, which posits “that the further away the target of aggression the less strength that could be made available.” While faster transportation of troops and advances in missile power have diminished the importance of the gradient in some respects, “Transport is said not to be becoming permanently easier while air power is said not to be permanently replacing need for forward deployed ground forces. [3]” As a civilian, I’m not sure how this works, but I can imagine if genocide broke out in, say, Eastern Europe or North Korea for example, squads can not only arrive faster from Germany and Japan (respectively), but they (God bless them) can also rotate in and out of the combat zone without flying half way around the globe.

That’s the basic justification for having military bases around the world, as far as I can tell, but hundreds? The exact number is in dispute, but I think those that argue with the the Department of Defense numbers are using shady tricks like considering an off-site daycare center to be a military base. With that in mind, according to the DoD, the number of military bases on foreign soil as of 2011 is 611, the number in 2009 was 716, and in 2004 was 902. For the mathematically challenged, that is a 32.2% decrease from 2004-2011 (OK, I admit, I had to look up the mathematical definition of percentage change). So if there are too many bases, at least the number is going in the right direction.

There’s the executive summary. Details of my findings follow.

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Debt Limit – A Guide to American Federal Debt Made Easy

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My cousin sent this to me. Nice analogy. I realize national and family debt are not synonymous, but that our extreme accelerating debt is a problem is just common sense.

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Constitutional Interpretation

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These are the two major schools of Constitutional interpretation:
Originalism:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Originalism
Living Constitution
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_Constitution

I’m an originalist and while I understand the living Constitution is a tempting concept, at a certain point, there’s no longer a basis anymore. Mark Levin has made the point: What if you had a living mortage, whose terms could be arbitrarily adapted to suit the times? How would that work? No. The mortgage is a contract. You can amend it (refinance?), but it says what it says.

Unfortunately, with a 200+ old year mortgage, the terms can be harder to decipher. Hence, originalism doesn’t resolve all the conflicts, it just provides a framework for and limit on interpretation.

Wikipedia provides a nice example:

Suppose that the Constitution contained (which it obviously does not) a provision that a person may not be “subjected to the punishments of hanging by the neck, beheading, stoning, pressing, or execution by firing squad”. A strict constructionist would interpret that clause to mean that the specific punishments mentioned above were unconstitutional, but that other forms of capital punishment were permissible. For a strict constructionist, the specific, strict reading of the text is the beginning and end of the inquiry.

For an Originalist, however, the text is the beginning of the inquiry, and two Originalists might reach very different results, not only from the strict constructionist, but from each other. “Originalists can reach different results in the same case” (see What Originalism is Not — Originalism is not always an answer in and of itself, infra); one originalist might look at the context in which the clause was written, and might discover that the punishments listed in the clause were the only forms of capital punishment in use at that time, and the only forms of capital punishment that had ever been used at the time of ratification. An originalist might therefore conclude that capital punishment in general—including those methods for it invented since ratification, such as the electric chair—are not constitutional. Another originalist may look at the text and see that the writers created a list. He would assume that the Congress intended this to be an exhaustive list of objectionable executions. Otherwise, they would have banned capital punishment as a whole, instead of listing specific means of punishment. He would rule that other forms of execution are constitutional.

The paragraph above does not give examples of Original intent vis a vis Original meaning. Using the former, the Judge would look for the letters and journals of the Founders on the subject of capital punishment. If he found that a majority expressed an aversion to it, the interpretation would be averse to capital punishment. Using Original meaning the Judge would look for the frequency of each contemporaneous form of capital punishment. If any form other than those listed was extremely rare, the decision could be averse to all capital punishment. If another form, not listed, was not rare, the decision would have to be in favor of capital punishment because reasonable persons in 1793 would so interpret the clause.

I have a hard time imagining a credible argument against this approach. Oh wait, I just thought of a couple (for liberals): Scalia and Thomas. Actually, I appreciate the judgements I’ve read of theirs. My point is that even if they are rogues, hi-jacking the term “originalism”, originalism is (to me) the only approach to the constitution that treats it properly.

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Voter ID

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I was talking with some co-workers about Voter ID laws after James O’Keefe’s latest escapade. I heard some very reasonable and astute criticisms of them. But we all agreed that we didn’t know enough about the quantities of either unregistered voters or voter fraud (not to be confused with voter registration fraud, another issue.) I volunteered to do some research and email the results. The email is below. One item I failed to include is the Heritage Foundations’ (conservative think tank), Without Proof: The Unpersuasive Case Against Voter Identification, which is more of a point by point refute of the Brennan Study.

Two issues I said I’d look into: the number of people without ID and the prevalence of voter fraud.
Did you know (at least as of 2008), Indiana had the “most stringent voting requirements in the nation?” I’ll admit I didn’t, but on that I trust the Indiana Voter Study (linked below (p. 2)). I also didn’t know that our Voter ID law was upheld by SCOTUS in 2008.
For the record (from the Background section of the wikipedia link):
“A 2005 Indiana law required all voters casting a ballot in person to present a United States or Indiana photo ID. Under the Indiana law, voters who do not have a photo ID may cast a provisional ballot. To have their votes counted, they must visit a designated government office within 10 days and bring a photo ID or sign a statement saying they cannot afford one.[1]
Not sure if that tempers whether the law is draconian, but to me the last sentence does take some wind out of some of the horror stories’ sails. Regardless, the next paragraph really hones in on the complexity of the debate:
“At trial, the plaintiffs were unable to produce any witnesses who claimed they were not able to meet the law’s requirements. The defendants were likewise unable to present any evidence that the corruption purportedly motivating the law existed.
Anyway, the study I found most referenced is this one by the Brennan Center (2006), “Citizens for Proof”:
I must be missing the long version of this, but it was the one linked to in the article from them linked below. It’s three pages and doesn’t list the questions they asked (they list four questions and describe it as “several”?) , how they chose their 987 voting-age American citizen phone respondents (“randomly”???), or anything. Again, probably missing the long version, but couldn’t find it. Read the rest of this entry »
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2Pac on Religion

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I agree with a lot of what he says here. I think his position that the bible is all about controlling people is misguided. Clearly not a sola scriptura guy. Also, I used to have a cassette of a late interview he did (back in circa 1998) and I’m not sure if the whole thing is verbatim, but the good->god; evil->devil thing is word for word. I found it here http://www.2pac2k.de/religion.html. Spelling intact.

Where do You stand On Religion?

I’m the religion that to me is the realist religion there is. I try to pray to God every night unless I pass out. I learned this in jail, I talked to every God (member of the Five Percent Nation) there was in jail. I think that if you take one of the “O’s” out of “Good” it’s “God”, if you add a “D” to “Evil”, it’s the “Devil”. I think some cool motherfucker sat down a long time ago and said let’s figure out a way to control motherfuckers. That’s what they came up with-the bible. Cause if God wrote the bible, I’m sure there would have been a revised copy by now. Cause a lot of shit has changed. I’ve been looking for this revised copy-I still see that same old copy that we had from then. I’m not disrespecting anyone’s religion, please forgive me if it comes off that way, I’m just stating my opinion. The bible tells us that all these did this because they suffered so much that’s what makes them special people. I got shot five times and I got crucified to the media. And I walked through with the thorns on and I had shit thrown on me and I had the theif at the top; I told that nigga “I’ll be back for you. Trust me, is not supposed to be going down, I’ll be back. I’m not saying I’m Jesus but I’m saying we go through that type of thing everyday. We don’t part the Red Sea but we walk through the hood without getting shot. We don’t turn water to wine but we turn dope fiends and dope heads into productive citizens of society. We turn words into money. What greater gift can there be. So I belive God blesses us, I belive God blesses those that hustle. Those that use their minds and those that overall are righteous. I belive that everything you do bad comes back to you. So everything that I do that’s bad, I’m going to suffer for it. But in my heart, I belive what I’m doing in my heart is right. So I feel like I’m going to heaven. I think heaven is just when you sleep, you sleep with a good conscience-you don’t have nightmares. Hell is when you sleep, the last thing you see is all the fucked up things you did in your life and you just see it over and over again, cause you don’t burn. If that’s the case, it’s hell on earth cause bullets burn. There’s people that got burned in fires, does that mean they went to hell already? All that is here. What do you got there that we ain’t seen here?

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