Thursday, September 26, 2013

Indiana Libertarian Party's Facebook Page Deleted; Facebook Has Few Answers

If you follow the Libertarian Party of Indiana (LPIN) on Facebook, maybe you noticed that they weren't
appearing in your news feed lately.  Maybe you were one of the people interested  enough to try to find their page and look over it, but had no luck doing so.  Well, there's a reason why:  it's gone.

Sometime Friday the LPIN's Facebook page just disappeared.  Upon learning of the missing page, party leadership began looking for answers as to why the page was gone, and who was responsible for its disappearance.  The party reached out to Facebook for answers, hoping the missing page was just a glitch and that could be easily remedied.

Facebook is notorious for being a difficult company for getting direct answers to real people, and this case was no different.  Despite reaching out early to Facebook, it was Monday afternoon before LPIN Chair Dan Drexler was able to speak to a representative about the issue.

Drexler's conversation with Facebook didn't provide many answers, though.  The conversation also, unfortunately, didn't leave much hope for the return of the page.

Facebook informed Drexler that the LPIN page was somehow breached.  Whether breach was defined as an intentional hacking of the page or a virus or some other intrusion was not clear, as there were some specifics that Facebook would not reveal.  When the breach occurred, though, the page was unpublished.

LPIN Chair Dan Drexler
The most somber news from Drexler's conversation with Facebook was that the company doesn't have a magic switch they can throw to turn the page back on.  Apparently, once the LPIN's Facebook page was unpublished, it was gone for good.

Despite the content of the page being lost forever, there is still a small glimmer of hope for the LPIN.  The page was one of the most "Liked" State Libertarian Party Facebook pages in the nation, and had more than five thousand followers.  Facebook indicated they will be working this week to see if there is still any way for those "Likes" to be salvaged and then incorporated into whatever new page the LPIN starts.  Drexler will be speaking with Facebook representatives again later this week to learn what they found.

In the meantime, the LPIN is trying to stay focused on business as usual.  Chairman Drexler was in Newburgh, just East of Evansville, last night for the official affiliation of the Warrick County Libertarian Party.  The Party is also remaining committed this year to the Double the LP campaign, geared towards growing their membership.

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Five Real(?) Impacts of a Government Shutdown

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Five Real(?) Impacts of a Government Shutdown

You want to prove that a government "shutdown" is really a misnomer and that hardly anything that really matters gets affected?  Perhaps you should look around at the major media reports of what is going to happen.

For example, you might want to take a look at this story form Elizabeth Hartfield of ABC News.  She penned this article Saturday, and it seems that she wants to convince you that a government shutdown is a horrible thing to endure. Her tone implies that she believes a shutdown should be avoided at all costs.

But why does she believe that?  Why does she have such a concern about a government shutdown that she would write an article for a major news source titled "Five Real Impacts of a Government Shutdown,"  an article whose title alone seems to imply fear about even considering the idea?  Well, of course, we're lucky enough to have her spell those reasons out to us.  I think you'll find, though, that those reasons might surprise you.

You see, Hartfield goes back to the last real government shutdown, in late 1995 and early 1996, and examined what REALLY happens when the government is shut down.  She points out that she fears the current lawmakers that are considering a shutdown may not really remember the impact of the shutdown that occurred back then.  And, as you might imagine, in order to prove her point, she picks out some of the biggest things that were impacted.

And that's where I find the point that a government "shutdown" isn't really all that bad at all.  Let's take a look at the five things she mentions.

Suspension of Approval of Applications for Small Business Loans

Don't get me wrong here...I love small business.  I believe that small businesses are truly the driving force of America.  But I am not convinced that suspending approval for small business loans for some indefinite, but probably short, time is necessarily all that bad.  In fact, I'm not even sure that it's the government's job at all.  I'm not completely against the idea of these loans, but there's no way you can convince me that a temporary suspension of these loans is going to have have some horrible impact on our country as a whole.

Museums, Monuments and Parks Would Shut Down

So what?  Again, don't get me wrong, museums, monuments, and parks are all great.  I do believe that there is some benefit in our government archiving our history and our arts.  I do believe that there is benefit to having some areas of land set aside for us to be able to enjoy the beauties of nature.  But I also think that if the government is in dire straits, these should be the first things to go.  And considering the reality that any government shutdown is going to be short-lived, no harm done.

Medical Research Interrupted

So this one sounds pretty bad.  But that's just SOUNDS bad.  Truth is, it sounds worse than it is.  It makes it sound like all medical research in the world would come to a screeching halt, and that simply isn't the case.  Plenty of private organizations are doing medical research and plenty of government funded research has already received its money.  You're going to hear plenty of people try to spin this like the cure for cancer will somehow now be lost forever, but that simply isn't the case.

Passport Services Suspended

Well, except in case of emergency.  A passport is good for ten years.  Unless you're a traveler that has procrastinated, then no worries.  This will impact like 0.001% of people.

D.C. Residents, Start Composting

So apparently residents of the District have trash pickup as a government service.  Since Congress must pass the D.C. budget, things like trash service would probably be suspended.  But I'm sure there will probably not
be any shortage of private companies coming to save the day by offering trash pickup to the city.  As a resident of a city that takes care of trash pickup, I wouldn't mind the option to shop for the best service myself.

So Does That Sound So Bad?

Take a second and just look back over that list of five things above.  Try not to chuckle when you do so.  Go ahead...I'll wait.

Now ask yourself, was there anything on that list that really concerns you at all?  I mean, even if you would like to keep the above things going, don't you think it's not going to hurt anything if they are all put on pause for a bit?

And don't forget that this list came from an article that was written to scare you.  It was written to convince you that a government shutdown is unbearable  She says she's afraid you don't remember or weren't around for the last shutdown and went back and did research to remind us of all the bad things that will happen.

But mostly don't forget that, after all that trouble, the above list was all she could come up with when it was time for her to write down the top five reasons a shutdown should scare us.  Yep...that's the five worst things she could find.

I think I can live with that.  How about you?

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Why the Starbucks Gun Carrying Statement Doesn't Bother Me at All, and Why Gun Advocates May be to Blame

Army's "Information Dominance Center" Designed to Look Like the Bridge of The Enterprise

Friday, September 20, 2013

IMPD Officer Killed in the Line of Duty

We are saddened this morning to hear of the death of IMPD Officer Rod Bradway.  Officer Bradway was killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic disturbance call in the area of 46th St. and I-465.

Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Officer Bradway's family and friends, as well as to the entire IMPD community.

Please stay tuned to your favorite local news source for updates on this story.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why the Starbucks Gun Carrying Statement Doesn't Bother Me at All, and Why Gun Advocates May be to Blame

Well here we go.  Again.

If you follow anything resembling politics at all, you have undoubtedly heard by now...Starbucks says no guns.

You know how it all started...a few months ago some patrons at a Starbucks felt uncomfortable in the presence of another Starbucks customer that was legally open carrying their firearm.  (For those that may be unaware, open carrying refers to carrying a firearm in plain view of others around you, similar to the way a police officer carries a firearm.)  Those patrons complained to Starbucks, and Starbucks issued a statement that said that they would not interfere with patrons operating lawfully within their establishments.  Basically, if it's legal where you are at then you can open carry, and if it's illegal then you can not.

Gun advocates celebrated the statement.  Especially since so many conservatives were very anti-Starbucks due to some false stories floating around the internet about Starbucks not supporting our troops, this was an especially interesting turnaround regarding public perception of the Starbucks brand.

The gun rights supporters took it too far, though.  They organized "Starbucks Appreciation Days" in which lawful gun owners would flood the stores with groups of open carrying gun owners to thank Starbucks for their position.  They would often go above and beyond traditional open carry, and bring shotguns and rifles with them and pose for pictures.

In return, the anti-gun lobby responded equally loudly.  They would also stage events at Starbucks locations to show that they disagreed with the positions that Starbucks had put forth. They despised the fact that Starbucks wouldn't make a strong stand in their favor, and just tell gun owners to take their business and their firearms elsewhere.

Well, that all came to an end yesterday, when Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz issued a new statement on guns via a blog posted on the coffee giant's website.

" we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas - even in states where "open carry" is permitted - unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel."

Aaaaannnnndddd cue the outrage.

As you might imagine, the immediate response from people on both sides of the issue was overwhelming.  Those that were celebrating the original Starbucks statement were suddenly irate that the company would ever go down this path.  Protesters of the original Starbucks statement were suddenly strong Starbucks supporters again.

But what did Starbucks REALLY say with each statement???

Basically...they just said to leave them alone and leave them out of the discussion.

The reality is that everything would be better for gun advocates if, after Starbucks' first statement was released, they would have just left Starbucks alone.  Instead, gun advocates stomped on Starbucks' original statement as some broad statement of support that it was not.  Starbucks basically said they don't want to get involved, and gun advocates paraded the statement as if Starbucks had said they were on their side.

But the simple reality was that neither side was properly embracing what Starbucks wanted.  Starbucks had, for all intents and purposes, only said one thing: " long as your legal we don't care...but, PLEASE, leave us out of this.  We don't want to be involved."

And, of course, the anti-gun advocates leaped out in response.  The gun owners were having their open carry events, and the anti-gun crowd was bound and determined to have their rallies at the same places and at the same times.  Suddenly, Starbucks' locations everywhere were being turned into political battle grounds.

So, now, Starbucks has done what was left for them to do.  And that is where we truly are with them today.  They just want left out of this.  They said, "if you're legal it's ok, just leave us alone."  But they weren't left alone...they were turned into a 2nd amendment warzone.

So, now, they've come out and said, "Eff you.  We asked to be left alone, and you instead turned us into a political pawn.  We're not going to ban bringing guns in, but, please, just leave them outside.  Please, just leave us alone."

And, really, that's all I think that Starbucks is saying.  And I think it is all they have been saying from the beginning.  Their original statement simply said they don't want involved.  But instead they were made a focal point of the gun rights war, so they replied.

"we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers."

Really, I don't think that I can blame Starbucks for their recent position.  And truthfully, I think Schultz handled it rather well.  He even said that they weren't banning guns, they were just asking nicely for you not to bring them inside.  He stated that they wouldn't be asking you to leave if you carried, just that you please respect their wishes to not do so.

 Of course, no matter what side of the gun debate you are on, you are free to respond how you wish.  If you are a gun owner, maybe you stop going to Starbucks.  Or try to find somewhere else first.   And if you hate guns, then maybe you pop into Starbucks a little more often to show support.  I rarely open carry, but I am a gun owner and I do carry concealed.  Nonetheless, I will still go to Starbucks once or twice a week, just as I did before now.

In the end,  other than a possible little hiccup for the first few days, I don't think Starbucks business will be too drastically affected by this statement. Nor do I think it should be.

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Army's "Information Dominance Center" Designed to Look Like the Bridge of The Enterprise

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Army's "Information Dominance Center" Designed to Look Like the Bridge of The Enterprise

Well, specifically the Enterprise-D.

Daily Mail Online is reporting that when NSA Director Keith Alexander was the head of Army's Intelligence and Security Command, he had the "Information Dominance Center" he ran the show from designed to look like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  That's right, folks...that's the kind of trust we can give for people that are the stewards of our tax dollars.

Pic from Daily Mail article
The room is decked out in chrome and stainless steel.  It is divided into control stations you could just see Commander Data sitting at.  It has a huge monitor on the room's forward wall.  And, perhaps most importantly, it has a very obvious Captain's chair that is the center and focal point of the entire room.

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not saying that the design couldn't have merits, and that the similarities between that design and the bridge of the Enterprise could possibly be coincidental.

Oh, wait...

Designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the famous ship's bridge...

Okay.  Wow.  That seems a bit much.  But, just because you're hiring a Hollywood set designer to design
Pic from Daily Mail article
the Army Intelligence and Security Command's "Information Dominance Center" doesn't mean it was a total waste, right?  I mean, the design and some designer couldn't have real-world advantages, couldn't it?  I mean, it's not like you went COMPLETELY over the top.

Oh, wait...

Just like in the Star Trek series, the doors to the so-called Information Dominance Center made a 'whoosh' noise as they opened.

You mean they added sound effects?  Now that's just being silly.  Thankfully the irresponsibility ended there.  It's not like they played Star Trek with other government officials or anything.

Oh, wait...

Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in the leather 'captain's chair' in the center of the room...
Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard.

This is just disgraceful.  Don't forget, folks, this is something that YOU paid for.  Things like this should be reserved for movie studios, or theme parks, or super rich people that want to add a bridge or a Bat Cave or a secret passage in their house.  This kind of thing has no business being a part of our government's expenditures.

But, alas, they are something our government spends money on.  Why?  Because our government has become so ridiculously huge that what oversight there is has no chance to really look over everything.  And that equates to government agencies getting blank checks written to them and saying, "now spend it wisely."

It's so huge and so sad that when I saw this article, I wasn't really all that surprised.  And even worse, voters will keep electing the same people that make this happen.