Thursday, June 29, 2006

Flag Burning Amendment Fails

"Our country's unique because our dissidents have a voice. While I take offense at disrespect to the flag. I nonetheless believe it is my continued duty as a veteran, as an American citizen, and as a United States senator to defend the constitutional right of protesters to use the flag in nonviolent speech."

Senator Daniel Inouye (HI)

The moral argument against outlawing flag desecration is that people have the right to say whatever they like in whatever manner they like. The realpolitik argument against it is that it makes it easier to identify the hardcore malcontents. A person who burns a flag has to understand that it is not a good way to gain support for one's cause. At the same time, it is probably very emotionally gratifying for a flag burner to upset onlookers. But it is a far healthier emotional outlet for a protester to burn a flag than to engage in violence or distraction of property.

Nevertheless, if the issue of flag burning is still important to you, if the three flag burnings that took place last year cause you as much grief as the rest of this country's problems, then this is my idea. Retailers and manufacturers of American flags can require customers sign a contract that requires them to refrain from intentionally abusing the flag. A person who signed such a contract and desecrated it anyway would face severe civil penalties. If anyone truly wished to burn a flag while avoiding getting sued, they would have to make the flag themselves.

It is already common practice for people to waive certain free speech rights in exchange for certain privileges. For example, I waive the right to denounce Securitas Corporation in exchange for the privilege of my continued employment with that company. Likewise, you might have the right to call your friend a jerk to his face, and he has the right to stop hanging out with you anymore. So you waive that right to call him a jerk.

Regular readers of this blog may remember when it was noted that she had supported a ban on flag desecration. She has voted against that amendment. She may believe that it is not necessary to amend the Constitution when she can simply violate it. Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar have voted for the amendment. I do wonder what Hoosier Democrats and Republicans have to say about that.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Congressman Peter King Uses the "T" Word

Congressman Peter King (R-NY 3rd) has called for the New York Times to be charged with treason. Not even Mark Souder is this crazy. If the government starts shutting down newspapers and throwing editors in prison based on what they write, then we have more to worry about than fanatics wearing turbans and living in caves. We now have despots wearing nice suits and living in Congressional housing.

Apparently Mr. King thinks that the Times reporting on the government tapping phone lines and tracking the financial records of suspected terrorists amounts to aid and comfort to the enemy. If the enemy needs the New York Times to tell them that the government is spying on them, then they are so dumb they should have been defeated a lot sooner.

If the police knock, will the dealers flush?

Some people have made the argument that knocking first gives criminals time to dispose of evidence. This of course only applies if the evidence happens to fit through the s-trap of the suspect's toilet. In that case, here is a way to make your neighborhood drug free. Start knocking on every door. If you hear a flush, you have either gotten someone off drugs or you can be confident that he is eating his fiber.

You might be able to flush a few joints down the can. Bong pipes and meth labs will not go down the drain however. A dealer with a big stash had better hope that he can think of a better way to hide or ditch the goods than using a plumbing fixture. And the fact of the matter is that junkies and dealers hate having to flush the stash. Even if the police don't make the arrest they still have caused someone to flush a lot of expensive dope.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Possible cause of obesity epidemic?

I think some teenagers and young adults are overwieght on purpose, just in case there is a draft. Plus I think that military conscription is weeding out the fit and leaving the physically unfit behind to reproduce. Think about this for a moment. Three consecutive generations of American men have been subjected to the draft. It may end up being the case that men who are 4-F are more likely to survive long enough to have kids.

I also hear that it is hard for a person with attention deficit disorder to get into the military. If its hard for an ADDer to volunteer, it's impossible to draft him. If we go to war with Iran, and have a draft as a result, we will become a nation of fat people with short attention spans.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Win Moses proposes new "Knock First" Bill

State Representative Win Moses (D-81) has proposed a "Knock First" law. He insists that homeowners might shoot police by mistake. While I agree that the safety of homeowners and police officers is important, this seems to imply that police do not need to knock if they are raiding the house of a non-gun owner. Police should give some notice that they are about to search a residence so to give the resident time to pull their pants or skirt up.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Monitor-Side Chat Show

Because nobody uses their fireplace anymore...

Folks, there have been some very long comment threads on recent posts on Mike Sylvester's blog. Some of you have comments, concerns, and criticisms about libertarian positions on certain issues. I think that these are all worthy of being addressed, but we end up have a ten way conversation. So I thought I'd open up the floor to comments about the libertarian philosophy to non-libertarians, and I'll try to address them. If this works out well, maybe the Monitor-Side Chat Show will be a regular feature.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Red Cross Banquet

Yesterday I attended a Red Cross banquet for pheresis donors. It was held in Bentley's on Broadway, which is the old Fraternal Order of Eagles building. Pheresis is a process in which blood is drawn from a donor, then run through a centifuge. Platelets and plasma are seperated out, and red blood cells are returned to the donor. This allows the donor to contribute up to 24 times a year instead of only 6 times a year. The platelets are used to help hemophiliacs and cancer patients.

There they fed and entertained us. Several nurses sang and danced on stage. They did their own renditions of "So Happy Together", "Daydream Believer", and "Proud to be an American". For that last song, the crowd stood up and sang along with the chorus. The lyrics had been slightly modified for the times: "And I won't forget the ones who died" instead of "men who died". It reminded me of the change in Star Trek's "To Boldly Go" speech.

For more information on pheresis, please call (260)480-8299 or 1-800-589-8127.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How to make someone disappear

My mother had loaned money to a friend. Now that friend is never home, nor does she return any phone calls. My mom is somehow suprised by this, but I've seen this happen before. Loaning people money tends to make them disappear. It's the one exception to the laws of matter and energy conservation. The Earth suddenly has 68 less kilograms of mass because this person who is debt to you simply no longer exists.
I wonder what would happen if I were to try this myself. Now, I get along swell with all the neighbors and all my coworkers. But the next time I have a feud with somebody who happens to have financial problems, I am going to try the following. I'll go up to them and say "Look, I know we had some differences, but I've been hearing that you've run into some tough times. Here's $50, you can pay me back in a couple weeks." Within two weeks this person will be gone. For %1 of the cost of an actual contract killing, I can be rid of the person.

After reading this, I bet there are some anarchists who are now tempted to buy US savings bonds. Don't do it. That is exactly what the Chinese are doing, and probably for the same reason. The ChiComms will actually make you miss the federal government.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Luxury Issues

Sometimes political scientists will refer to issues unrelated to the economy or an ongoing crisis as "luxury issues". That means that no matter what public policy is set on these particular issues, they are unlikely to have much of an impact on most people's overall quality of life.

For example, posting the Ten Commandments in a public school is unlikely to convert any students to Christianity, nor is it likely to improve the behavior of the students. Likewise, forbidding the Ten Commandments from being posted is not going to create a hostile enviroment for Christian and Jewish students. Rather, it is an issue designed to get you all hot and bothered. The proponents of posting the Ten Commandments know that it will not pass constitutional muster. It is designed to get those who feel strongly about it to send in their contributions. Likewise, organizations that oppose the posting of religious documents in government buildings can have use it to get their own supporters alarmed enough to send money.

The same goes for issues like flag buring and gay marraige. One would think that a person opposed to gay marraige should be quite content with the status quo, since it is illegal on the federal level and in most states. Nevertheless, the Senate had to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment even though it had zero chance of passing.

Typically luxury issues are brought up during times of relative prosperity. Gay marraige was not discussed as much in the months immediatly following 9/11. Nor was flag burning discussed much during the recession that took place during the early 90's.

Politics is fueled by drama. Even when things are swell politicians need to find ways to pit voters against each other. Now, with public interest in the war waning, both Republicans and Democrats are trying to find new things for us to be upset about. We don't need issues to be upset about. We have politicians to be upset at.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Same-sex marraige.

I see it as a seperation of church and state issue. Right now, two men can be married in a Unitarian church, but the marraige would not be recognized by the state of Indiana or the federal government. Likewise, a person who got divorced but did not get an annulment prior to getting remarried would not have their marraige recognized by the Catholic Church, yet it would still be recognized by the state that it took place in.

Marraige usually consists of two things. It consists of a expensive party in a fancy building with stained glass windows and a legal contract. Let the entities who own the fancy buildings decide who may get married inside. And let any consented adult enter into whatever legal contract they choose.

Or we can go back to the good old days, when a man had his wife, and his secretary, and the babysitter. And a woman had her husband, and her gardener, and the mailman.

Friday, June 02, 2006

What I bought this week

On Wednesday, I bought the following at the Borders on the corner of Coldwater and Coliseum

"Settling Accounts: Drive to the East" by Harry Turtledove
"Against the Tide of Years" by S.M. Stirling
"On the Oceans of Eternity" by S.M. Stirling
and a CD entitled "Our Time in Eden" by 10,000 Maniacs.

See, Borders gave me a discount card, so that I would swipe it every time I bought something in that store. This allows them to write down and record everything that I buy. I figure that if Borders knows what I bought on Wednesday, everyone else should too.

Seriously though. If you want to protect your privacy, pay cash. I did not mind using the discount card because I don't care if people know that I read alternate history or listen to sappy music from the 90's. However, Borders may accumulate a list that reflects my reading habits. Some of what I have read contains nudity (National Geographic). Some of it contains violence. (the Old Testament) And some of it could be considered subversive (the Bill of Rights) Under the Patriot Act, the government can request a copy of that list. So I will probably take care to make I don't buy the wrong things with my discount card.

This Patriot Act was intended to fight terrorism. Actual terrorist pay cash when they buy a copy of the Koran and "Anarchist's Cookbook". This law was never mean to track them at all. It is designed to see who is buying Al Frankin's books and DVD copies of Fareinhiet 911. Some Republicans may think that this ability of the government to spy on leftists is a good thing. They should be concerned about what will happen if, God forbid, Hillary wins in '08.

My advice to the Republicans is to repeal the PAtrioit Act while they still have the majority. I'm worried that the Democrats have no intention of repealing this bill themselves....