Category: Politics

The Consequences of Usage-Based Billing

Just this week, Canada approved usage-based billing for the internet. What’s this mean? Now, Canadian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can place caps on the amount of bandwidth subscribers can use, and charge them heftily for crossing that cap. While this may make sense in the abstract, the implementation is where it’s all shot to hell: Bell Canada is switching to an incredibly low 25GB monthly cap, and is charging almost $2 for each gigabyte past that cap. (The cost to Bell to deliver a gigabyte of data is far less than a penny, for reference.)

This is bad in so many ways.

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WikiLeaks

A few things about Wikileaks

I have many strong opinions about WikiLeaks, but for now, a few thoughts will suffice:

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The leaders of Myanmar and Belarus, or Thailand and Russia, can now rightly say to us “You went after Wikileaks’ domain name, their hosting provider, and even denied your citizens the ability to register protest through donations, all without a warrant and all targeting overseas entities, simply because you decided you don’t like the site. […]

Hypocrisy? What’s that?

The leaders of Myanmar and Belarus, or Thailand and Russia, can now rightly say to us “You went after Wikileaks’ domain name, their hosting provider, and even denied your citizens the ability to register protest through donations, all without a warrant and all targeting overseas entities, simply because you decided you don’t like the site. If that’s the way governments get to behave, we can live with that.”

Clay Shirky, “Wikileaks and the Long Haul

Similarly, whatever a ‘talking’ wishing well may be, it obviously was a center of attention separate from the crèche. Justice Blackmun, County of Allegheney v. American Civil Liberties Union (1989)

Whatever it may be

Similarly, whatever a ‘talking’ wishing well may be, it obviously was a center of attention separate from the crèche.
Justice Blackmun, County of Allegheney v. American Civil Liberties Union (1989)

The growing power of the angry mob

According to numerous sources, last night, outside a political debate in Kentucky, a group of Rand Paul supporters threw a MoveOn member to the ground, incapacitated her, and one person stomped on the back of her head.

You read that right. Stomped on her head.Political activist being stomped upon

So, let’s be clear here, America. Maybe there’s been some confusion as of late. Not many people have stood up and opposed this sort of behavior. We’ve kind of let it slide.

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Jeff Merkley on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

A week or so ago, I sent an e-mail to Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley asking him to do what he could to oppose the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Today, I got a response!

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for contacting me to share your support for repealing the military’s current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. It is an honor to serve as your Senator, and I appreciate hearing from you.

Like you, I strongly support repealing this misdirected policy that prevents openly gay Americans from serving in the United States Armed Forces. I believe every American should have the opportunity to serve this country, and for too long, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has undermined that fundamental right. For this reason, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (S. 3065), which would repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the armed forces.

The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy not only compromises equal rights, but it unnecessarily limits the capacity of our military to draw upon America’s best and brightest. For the United States to have the strongest armed forces in the world, we must recruit and retain those who have the knowledge and skills necessary to enhance military effectiveness. The private lives of our troops should have no bearing on their willingness or ability to serve. This legislation would overturn an injustice that has kept far too many Americans from serving our country.

This bill is currently pending in the Senate Armed Services Committee. While I am not a member of that Committee, I want to assure you that I will be closely following the progress of this bill. Please know I will continue to fight for the equal rights of all Americans on this issue and others.

All my best,

Jeff Merkley
United States Senate

While it sounds a little like a form letter, I greatly appreciate his response and his opposition to the policy. It’s good to see a clear perspective on this issue.

Three cheers for partaking in the democratic process!

On the National Day of Prayer

Let’s say you’re a parent. Let’s say that one day, under pressure from a bunch of acquaintances who are convinced you’re doing something wrong by neglecting to do this earlier, you start giving your child dessert every night– not only that, but expecting her to eat it. You keep the practice up, night after night, and you see no harm in it, since she seems perfectly happy with it.

Your daughter grows up with this practice. One day, when your daughter is fifteen or so, a friend points out to you that expecting your daughter to eat dessert every night is definitely a bad parenting choice. It’s bad for her health, it fails to teach her how to act with responsibility– in short, it goes against many of the values you had when you became a parent. In light of this, you decide to stop making her eat dessert every night, and instead, to keep sweet options available without pushing them. Your daughter can choose to eat dessert, but you’re no longer pushing it on her. From your perspective, and from the perspective of an outside observer, you’re respecting her right to do what she wants, giving her options while remaining consistent with the beliefs you hold dear as a parent.

Your daughter, though, has grown up expecting this. She hasn’t been unhappy with it; her whims have been catered to for a good chunk of her life. She expects that you’ll provide her with dessert every night. To her eyes, what you’re doing is not an exercise in liberty, in fact she it as the opposite. She feels entitled to her dessert every night. What happened? She was given a privilege so long she began to view it as a right.

This, in a nutshell, is the National Day of Prayer.

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One Nation, Indivisible

 

Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Editor’s note: As I wrote this, I started nodding off. It has been a long day. I may revise it later, to make it a bit more clear.

My friends and family, and fellow Americans:

We did it. We stood up across the country and made our voices heard. Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike flocked to the voting booths in incredible numbers, and many Americans made it clear: it’s time for change.

But as our new President-elect, Barack Obama, spoke from Grant Park in Chicago this evening, he made a point that rings true with me now. He said that this election has always been about us. It has always been about the American people. The change we want, my dear friends, is not something we should lazily expect from Washington. This is a government of the people, for the people, and by the people, and we have to remember that we have the power. Not gigantic corporations, not faceless entities. We do. This is our country, and we must remember to make our voices heard– and listen to those that are speaking.

Listen. Now that’s something none of us have really done in the last eight years. How many liberals, myself included, have shut out President Bush as soon as he mentions “nuke-yuh-ler weapons” in a speech? How many of us have become so proud and angry that we’ve begun viewing the opposing party as a bunch of enemies? How easy has it become to look at someone– a well dressed businessman, or a casual-looking college student– and think, “Well, they’re a conservative,” or, “Well, they’re a liberal”?

The unfortunate fact is that we’ve allowed ourselves to make our political parties more than political. What was once only an issue around election time has permeated every day of our lives, and “Republican” and “Democrat” carry weight even when they shouldn’t. We see our neighbors as “like us” or “not like us,” and no idea has ever been more divisive than that.

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Making Education Intelligent

 

Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

I am not a fan of the current American public school system. I’m quite grateful that I have the opportunity to receive a decent free education, but I have a number of beefs with the system itself.

Let’s start with a misconception.

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All Fired Up

 

Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Spencer’s really pretty fired up right now, if you’ll pardon the pun.

The topic of the day? Flag burning, and the people who are trying to put a Constitutional end to it.

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