Mar 28, 2014

Unanimous Supreme Court Decision: Too Bad There Is No Means Of Enforcing It In Majority Of The States

Common sense prevailed this week deciding that those convicted of domestic violence forgo their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, and with a unanimous decision. Convicted violent criminals can be universally understood, at least by reasonable individuals, to be individuals that can not be trusted with firearms. This comes along with criminal stats that 94% women who are murdered are victims of a male perpetrator were known to them, and two thirds of all murders from the same FBI statistics are committed with firearms. Firearms utilization in two thirds of American homicides has been a consistent percentage within the FBI statistics for nearly a decade, undercutting the primary argument for gun rights advocates that access to firearms isn't determinative to effect homicides. Though if firearms couldn't kill people effectively, the Department of Defense should see if they can get a refund for all of their small arms.

The Supreme Court decision barring convicts of even a "misdemeanor domestic assault" charge is enough of a violation to legally posses or purchase firearms. This is clearly a decision with 2nd amendment's "to ensure security" in mind rather than the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" clause. I still hold the belief that writers original intentions of the Second amendment was intrinsically tied to conscripted local militias to ensure slave revolts would arise (often refered to as 'slave patrols') and the since the passage of the 13th amendment alleviated the original intentions that necessitated the 2nd amendment it would be perfectly within a state's right to ban all firearms similar to the universal ban of firearms in the Wiemar Republic after Treaty of Versailles until 1928 when a firearms registry was instituted and that was done away with in 1938 (for all of those that believe Nazis against gun rights, they actually did the opposite in 1938, stop believing that misguided claptrap).

But on to the actual point, so the Supreme Court ruling that those convicted of non-felony violent crimes would be included being barred by Federal statute from buying and possessing firearms. If only a minority of states have instant universal background checks, what prevents the local wife beater to drive down to Virginia and purchase a firearm legally without ever even showing ID? If you guessed 'nothing' you are absolutely right! What would the gun manufacturers' lobby have against violent criminals accessing their wears? Will that where the expanding market is, of course. It's actually a two pronged viscous circle with two different expanding markets. The first market is for those convicted of crimes whom have had their firearms justifiably confiscated by law enforcement -- they are itching to get replacement guns when released from whatever correctional facility they come out of. The second market is for the woman that are now justifiably afraid that their convicted male acquaintance might have them at the other end of the right to bear arms-- therefore if there was an universal instant background check national implemented they would be able to play off the fears of women and relying on just law abiding male citizens is just not quickly expanding as much as the shareholders are demanding to be. So we have the acknowledgement of some the most conservative legal minds in the free world that violent people shouldn't be given any access to "boom-sticks", while the National Rifle Association (also known as NAMBLA) exerts force on Congress to do the will of gun manufacturers all for the sake of maximizing profit regardless of the 8,000 or so lives that are loss to homicides by firearms.

Mar 27, 2014

Re: Free Birth Control and Unfree Photographers


So everyone has a right to the market when they open a business, and a right to withhold services and resources based upon nothing more than spite? That is an opinion that could only be held by individuals who have the privilege of being a member of the dominant class. Acceptability of excluding all those that do not meet the majority's expectation is a sign of irrationality; and Jacob Sullum is free to proselytize the right to refuse your fellow Americans without a viable reason, but to appear on a venue such as is abundant with irony.

The individual has a right not to offer consumer services to the general public, but once you take the endeavour to provide those consumer services the only way that it encroaches on the business owners right is when the owner choses to profess the withholding of services are based upon the demographic group that the consumer belongs to. The action, overt by the choice of the business owner, to choose to withhold while offending the perspective customer is impractical and unnecessary since the business owner could have simply stated “sorry, we aren't available that week, could I refer you to so-and-so they would be able to help you out.” Most of the readers of will likely agree with the sentiment that Title II of the Civil Rights Act which bars discrimination within businesses that are available to the public is utterly irrational, but the social contract that provides government services to businesses implies that the businesses should be for the public that paid for the infrastructure the businesses utilize on a daily basis. Would it acceptable if businesses that did discriminate, that the local government would roll back the roads that lead to the business? To discriminate against counter parties that did business with the discriminating owner? If there is a right to discriminate then any business exercising that right would have a lot more to lose than just one gig for a betrothed couple that the business owner despised. You have a right not to participate in any market, but once you choose to enter said market it is no longer your right to discriminate; and once you do choose to infringe on the rights of individuals for simple practicality find any other excuse to withhold services or goods and return to under whatever bridge you come from. Every market relies upon public goods, and deny that fact is irrational and unreasonable.

In regards to Hobby Lobby, they are receiving tax credits (which they free are to reject) when they provide their employees with health-care insurance that happens to include birth control. If they were so adamant they would refuse the tax credits and pay for health insurance that did not include birth control (which would be difficult to find since birth control has such a great epidemiological benefit that any insurance company denying birth control would see their expenditures go up and so the market and reason has spoken and few health insurance policies are offered sans birth control at reasonable rates) as well as the difference in costs that are being set by the for-profit insurance companies. Hobby Lobby, while paying lip service to their right to principle, would rather bemoan their inability to access government services and benefits on their own terms. But when your cant stick to stated principles because inconvenience, and you would rather have them subsidized than pay the true costs of those principles they are no longer principles but just a hobby.

Mar 26, 2014

Proprietary Liberty Vs. Open-Source Security

Within the world of computers there is a significant sectarian divide of software being either proprietary or closed-sourced software versus open-source software. Examples of proprietary software is the vast majority of consumer purchased and freely available software such as Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, Adobe Photoshop and Acrobat, Rosetta Stone, along with most games. Open-source software includes Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin messenger, Linux operating system, Libre Office suite, and GIMP photo editor. The difference between these two camps is access to the source code; proprietary software retains source code (instructions written in programming languages that can be read by human eyes before compiled and translated into 0s and 1s that are used by computers) a company secret akin to Coca-Cola's recipe. While open-source software free makes the source-code available to the user those who are initiated and know computer programming language can peruse and alter the code to one's heart content.

The division between proprietary and open-source software is a near perfect analogy for national security versus transparency debate. The national security apparatus presumes that they can not provide any semblance security or tranquillity without ad nauseam amounts of secrecy and opaqueness. Software publishers, being private companies can make the business decision to provide the source code or not, our government on the other hand are obligated to include the people's representatives on how security is exactly implemented while remaining within confines and restrictions of legal statutes (that can be plainly read by all citizens) and our Constitution; if such implementation can not be executed within legal restraint that are placed upon law enforcement and national security agencies while making the process available for public scrutiny then those demanding secrecy need to get moving to pass an amendment to the Constitution. The false argument that secrecy is absolutely needed to provide security need only to look at programming. Proprietary software may very well have impenetrable security measures when used, but the only means of knowing that is trusting the software publisher's word. Open-source ensures the usage of the software to be both rock solid stable and security not through blind trust but scrutiny of a community that revenue and test the code. Open-source being peer reviewed is a direct descendant of the Age of Enlightenment, just as scientific method and the rationale that our founding fathers borne this nation with, if public policy could not be defended in the light of day to the common person but relied on blind faith the policy was not worth implemented no matter how good the intentions are.

American national security is currently provided under a mentality straight out of the Dark Ages, with a dependence on the public to remain ignorant of both innocuous and heinous activity being done in the American public's name. The impenetrable vale of secrecy is actually detrimental to the cause of security. Arbitrary usage of indefensible actions such as torture (enhanced interrogation), indiscriminate remotely administered executions (signature drone strikes), and government intrusion into 300 million Americans' privacy (bulk domestic surveillance), all have two things in common that they are ineffective in providing security and they are not actions the American public ever wilfully consented to. It can be characterized that these actions are indefensible even by those that currently practitioners of these acts, merely by having these same actions being perpetrated by any other nation, local government, or group of individuals or these actions  done to those the elite could relate to on a personal level. I believe that Barack Obama genuinely stopped surveillance on Angela Merkel, not because it was ineffective (which it was) for American national security purposes, but because he has met her and knows her (even if they had not met face to face, Barack Obama could easily relate to fellow head of state of a Western power).

Without widespread scrutiny, national security can only be provided with as much certainty as alchemists can transform base materials into precious metals; the alphabet soup that makes up national security apparatus (NSA, CIA, DIA, DoD, FBI, DHS, etc) are never to be challenged or questioned about the effectiveness of their activity, just as royalty of old were never to be questioned no matter how ridiculous their beliefs and actions were (Von Ludwig's castle, Marquis de Sade, or the parable of the emperor's new clothes). Individuals are free to believe whatever they want, even if they are to believe the world is flat and not round, until those beliefs harm others, such as using over-classification of the inner workings of our own government while professing a false sense of security leaves the American people ready to be blind-sided by those who want to carry off mass casualty events. That is harm that is unacceptable, no matter what the intentions are.

I propose an alternative in providing security, absolute transparency of the process and means which security is provided, that even those who wish to do the public harm would be aware of the defences (not the particular investigative targets or operational details, but what the law enforcement/national security is allowed and restricted from doing) which is exactly is done within the world of open-source software development. Despite black-hat hackers and other ne'er-do-wells have the same access to source codes that the developers have, and the open-source software through this transparent scrutiny is all the more reliable and secure entirely due to being put through the gauntlet. Proprietary software may have a lot more coders on the payroll, that are able to create and edit the code but like the Encyclopedia Britannica vs. Wikipedia is liable for significant flaws such as proprietary iOS devices to the GoTo Fail when handling SSL connections. It wasn't prevented by Apple because it wasn't big enough catch it, but due to it's size Apple had the hubris of assuming that an error that egregious would never occur under the watchful eye of the thousands of coders they had on payroll. PGP encryption being the creation of Phil Zimmerman, has made improvements over the 20 years in existence with help of a plethora of coders from all over the world.

Those interested in securing America would be able to audit protocols and procedures carried out by the national security apparatus and improve and innovate to ensure best practices are carried out. If there are things that are practices that are initially deemed unseemly, then effectiveness of usage can be weighed against perceived barbarism. As the Senate Intelligence Committee discovered only a couple of weeks ago, CIA use of "enhanced interrogation" was utterly ineffective and that practice should have been ended immediately if not never attempted (as our armed service men and women are trained in resistance to such torture, even though we already understood it to be ineffective except to get coerced apologies and political speeches for the benefit of North Korean or North Vietnamese audiences). But such abandonment of American principles could only happen under the vale of secrecy that occurs when national security apparatus classifies everything embarrassing, hiding their mistakes from public scrutiny.

This openness, is not a vector which can be utilized to carry out mass casualty events since the operational details would still remain secret, it would have the additional advantage that being so open we couldn't be characterized as "the Great Satan" or the "Evil Empire" any longer (this term originally used against the USSR, but American foreign policy since 9/11 certainly a case can be made that we have usurped the derogatory title); though we would have to take years to rebuild global trust, stopping our descent into moral darkness is a great first step.

We can remain under the rubric that not knowing what is being done is what is best for democracy, but that type of thinking is delusional, dangerous, and undemocratic. As President Kennedy said:
A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

We are a nation of the brave, and a people that does not merely deserve to be trusted but entitled to be trusted by our government, anything else from our government is a treasonous act by our government.

Mar 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Parade and the historical exclusion of the LGBTQ community

A parade permit was granted to non-Hibernians for the 1993 parade after the 1991 parade included Irish Lesian and Gay Organization (ILOG) marchers under the Unit #7 of the Ancient Order Hibernia (Manhattan unit traditionally organizes the parade and the inclusion was against Manhattan unit's wishes), and that unit was eventually reprimanded by the National Ancient Order Of Hibernia. 1992 AOH NYS organization was granted the permit, deceiving the Dinkins administration, and then was successfull in barring the ILGO from the parade. 1993 Mayor Dinkins created an alternative organization to grant St. Patrick's Parade permit, in response the AOH boycotted the parade as long as the parade would include ILGO or any other "sinful organization". AOH would have rather had no parade than a St. Patrick's parade with openly gay participants. The 2014 parade seems to continue with a few less sponsors, Heineken and Guinness dropped their involvement while under pressure to be seen as supportive of homophobic organization such as Ancient Order of Hibernia(AOH).

The 23 year old battle between ILGO and the AOH keeps returning to the central fact whether or not LGBTQ Irish and LGBTQ Irish-Americans should be considered equal in the eyes of AOH, just as they are equal in the eyes of our creator.When this issue first flared up Mayor David Dinkins took the side of the ILGO, whom he marched with under the banner of AOH Unit #7, and described the vitriol that he experienced on the parade route (including half empty beer cans thrown at him during the parade) as:
"It was like marching in Birmingham, Alabama" during the civil rights movement, he said. "I knew there would be deep emotions, but I did not anticipate the cowards in the crowd."
Certainly the AOH that would decry the celebrations of the medieval Battle of Boyne as hateful and exclusionary towards Catholics like themselves, but couldn't fathom why excluding fellow Irish-Catholic LGBTQ community members from an Irish-Catholic celebration. Often cited are passages from Leviticus and Romans from the Bible as rationale to excluding non-heterosexuals from an ethnic pride parade with only a passing reference to the Roman Catholic Church (because on St. Patty's Day everyone's Irish, but no one refers to anyone's theological affiliation), but the Bible and the especially the Gospels give far greater rationale for inclusion no matter whom seeks out to be included. Whether or not believers or non-believers, whether or not Irish or not, whether they are heterosexual or not-- whomever wants to march should march in the St. Patrick's Day parade and the organizers choice to treat the least of their brothers is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

What would be best for both sides would be AOH seeking out or cultivating a LGBTQ chapter that would be welcomed into the 5th Avenue parade. While continuing to bar ILGO from the parade but having LGBTQ community represented would defuse nearly all reasonable criticism and would provide cover for politicians and PR-aware corporate sponsors to return the fold of the 5th avenue parade.

Mar 11, 2014

Re: Charter schools are public schools

The following is a response to an opinion piece from NY Daily News regarding Harlem Success needing to be relocated.

"they are explicitly denied some funding streams, like facilities funding, made available to district schools" So the 9 out of 45 charter schools that are being relocated out of public schools were doing fundraising to pay $0 rent? What facilities funding do they need if charter schools aren't paying rent?

"They educate some of our most challenging students, the vast majority of them low-income, black and Latino. They are open to all applicants, with seats determined by random lottery." Charter schools get to filter out the most challenging students, those without family structure concerned enough to apply for the lottery.

"proof of what can happen when you smartly unleash innovation within a system that, thanks in no small part to a rigid teachers’ union contract," so the only means of succeeding is breaking the backs of unions? So the egalitarian and democratic need to have everyone educated regardless of ability to pay can't be delivered by employees as long as they have a say in their own workplace? Democracy is great, except in the workplace according to Josh Greenman.

The space that the charter schools were using as class rooms, you know the art, music, & other non-classrooms, they displaced public school children from their art and music facilities so there was significant draw back to students, just the ones that weren't in the charter schools. On second thought both are harmed by duplicating the bureaucracy of school administration and hampering art & music education of both segments of the student population.

What innovation can be transferred into the public schools system at-large? If charter schools were acting as they were intended to, as experimental educational policies that would benefit the greater school system, that previous question could be answered and the charter schools have self evident value to all students, currently they are not. When charter schools are used merely to undercut a unionized workforce, and educational benefits stem from culling students with family backgrounds that place value on education enough to enter the school lottery, then their raison d'etre is non-existent. Pointing out that there are outside funding sources for district schools just as there is for charter schools leaves me with the question: What is differentiating factor why donors contribute to charter schools instead of the public schools other than political philosophy? If someone is hellbent to privatize all functions of government, contributing to charter schools is an efficient means to get the camel's nose under the tent to an American expected government service. Charter schools should unionize, if they were creative in their contract maybe using project labor agreements (PLA) over the school year, and then deliver innovative educational solutions the so-called opponents of charter schools would either dissipate or have unfounded objections to charter schools. If in this hypothetical situation where charter schools tackle resolving both unionized workforce and policy solutions to our educational system, while receiving the same support from private sources, then my accusation that the charter school movement is entirely a stalking horse for plutocratic sycophants is unfounded; but in the case that a charter school can't raise funds for a democratic workplace then that would prove my accusation. And to avoid any benefit from prejudicing the student body of charter schools, NYC should implement a charter school draft of all non-special needs students so the students with families that do not speak English at home and are domicile and/or nutritionally insecure are included in the charter school experiment; since the leaders of these charter schools are run "remarkably well" despite being "complex and unique organizations", so I'm sure they can handled that I'm mean the public schools  in large part also are meeting the state standards and their administrators are doing it for half the cost than Eva Moskowitz.