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CIVIS: Free Societies Archives

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April 8, 2011

A Soldier Speaks Out On The Shutdown - 'Leaders Eat Last.'

By Armed Liberal at 22:07

From one of my military correstpondents on the Federal shutdown and the military:

I've been trying to get my head around the idea that those of us in the military might not get paid next week. I don't really care about myself, in as much as I'm a single soldier without dependents. I can eat in the DFAC, put my bills (and some beer) on a credit card, throw a temper tantrum and get on with my life. But I am lucky to be slightly above living paycheck to paycheck. I'm a moderately responsible E5 with a girlfriend who likes nice restaurants.

Privates and their new families, on the other hand, are often barely above water. Too much of the time, issues that you deal with as a leader in the military revolve around family issues or privates and their money. These are not people who can afford two weeks without pay. In the area just off post, there are a lot of people who make a living off families not being able to pay the bills, and they charge rates that would make the Mob blush.

That isn't even getting into the soldiers who are deployed.

Ever had to try and resolve a bank overdraft charge on a satellite phone on a combat outpost with about a half day time difference? It's not easy, and again, single soldiers aren't the ones I'm worried about. A late truck payment sucks, but it isn't the end of the world (whether they will get reimbursed for late fees by their employer or bank is another issue for another day).

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  • mark buehner: True, and a lot of those 'cuts' are mirages- something read more
  • MikeDC: Meh... neither the Republicans (outside of Ryan and the Pauls) read more
  • mark buehner: I think you guys are missing something- this may be read more
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November 23, 2010

Give Everybody Eat!!

By Armed Liberal at 06:09

A parable for our times, courtesy of Joseph Heller, and Catch-22.
To Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a glorious pain in the ass, since it complicated their task of organizing the crews for each combat mission. Men were tied up all over the squadron signing, pledging and singing, and the missions took hours longer to get under way. Effective emergency action became impossible, but Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren were both too timid to raise any outcry against Captain Black, who scrupulously enforced each day the doctrine of 'Continual Reaffirmation' that he had originated, a doctrine designed to trap all those men who had become disloyal since the last time they had signed a loyalty oath the day before. It was Captain Black who came with advice to Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren as they pitched about in their bewildering predicament. He came with a delegation and advised them bluntly to make each man sign a loyalty oath before allowing him to fly on a combat mission.

'Of course, it's up to you,' Captain Black pointed out. 'Nobody's trying to pressure you. But everyone else is making them sign loyalty oaths, and it's going to look mighty funny to the F.B.I. if you two are the only ones who don't care enough about your country to make them sign loyalty oaths, too. If you want to get a bad reputation, that's nobody's business but your own. All we're trying to do is help.'

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  • toc3: As brilliant as Major _______DeCoverly was in this instance, I read more
  • Avatar: Honestly, the scan itself isn't a huge deal. I'm not read more
  • mark: mark, again, I am not saying we ought to have read more

November 22, 2010

"Don't Touch My Junk": TSA's Expiry Date Event?

By Joe Katzman at 04:50

Just finished celebrating a birthday. Fortunately, it was rather less depressing than last year's, though the recruiter's consoling comment that "everything happens for a reason" did end up looking damn near clairvoyant over the next 12 months - basic training has nothing on this. Still separated from my wife by circumstances and a continent, though she will be getting on an airplane at some point to be with us again. Airport idiocy, here we come.

Which neatly bridges 2 things much on my mind lately. One personal, and deliberately somewhat cryptic. The other (TSA) very public, and a source of more than considerable irritation to many of us. That irritation is boiling over into widespread anger at invasive, quasi police-state "security theater" that keeps no-one safer. As my friend Jack Wheeler puts it:

"After traveling around the world - and through airport security in 18 countries - over the past few months, then returning to the US, I can confirm that no country I know of on earth has airport security as stupid, obnoxious, and intrusive as the US. And yes, that includes North Korea."

The grains of irritation have been piling up for quite some time, and like any sand hill, you can never be sure when the system reaches its "critical state" and suddenly begins to give way. Eventually, however, it will - and when it does, things happen fast. That anger may have found its critical state flashpoints at last...


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  • Marcus Vitruvius: Actually, MB, I think it's just that the attacks currently read more
  • Glen Wishard: Once again we stare in disbelief at this administration that read more
  • Treefrog: My personal favorite TSA face-palm moment was brought about by read more

November 7, 2010

Copyright and Culture: Newly Enemies

By Joe Katzman at 03:08

The problem faced by this documentary film is common to all such works - which, unlike newspapers etc., must secure permission to quote when it uses news film clips, etc.

"[The series Eyes on the Prize] is no longer available for purchase. It is virtually the only audiovisual purveyor of the history of the civil rights movement in America. What happened was the series was done cheaply and had a terrible fundraising problem. There was barely enough to purchase a minimum five-year rights on the archive-heavy footage. Each episode in the series is fifty percent archival. And most of the archive shots are derived from commercial sources. The five-year licenses expired and the company that made the film also expired. And now we have a situation where we have this series for which there are no rights licenses. Eyes on the Prize cannot be broadcast on any TV venue anywhere, nor can it be sold. Whatever threadbare copies are available in universities around the country are the only ones that will ever exist. It will cost five hundred thousand dollars to re-up all the rights for this film."

Larry Lessig sees this as a larger problem, and I think he's right...


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  • toc3: I think the Internet will take care of a lot read more
  • Joe Katzman: The problem, Dave, is the level of effort and difficulty read more
  • DaveC: What's the problem? Amazon.com has the complete DVD set from read more

August 5, 2010

The Gay Marriage Court Decision as Roe v Wade

By Armed Liberal at 20:04

I wish I could be excited about the decision - it does give me what I want - but I'm not.

The lawyers are all over the tactical issues (is the decision too monolithic? Will it risk having a conservative Supreme Court establish precedents that will make achieving gay marriage harder?); let me take one social/political one on.

I don't want this to be Roe v. Wade. That decision arguably 'settled' the abortion issue, but in reality, it pulled a half-baked cake out of the oven and put it in front of the polity.

The law and social values must interact closely; at times each tugs the other forward or backward. Where they move in rough concert we get massive, successful social changes - suffrage, civil rights, improved rights for women. I tend to think that Roe v. Wade pulled them a little too far apart - which is why the issue of abortion remains so curdled and poisonous today.

I want gay marriage to happen, and faster, please. But once it happens, I want it to be widely accepted - a tranquil part of our social order, not a scab that everyone keeps picking at.

So yes, I'm happy that the court has made a decision for marriage. And I'm also sad that they have, because this needs to come from the political process, not the courts.
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  • Jecsonmetho: When I read your entire comments then I really impress read more
  • Grim: The reductio ad absurdum you're attempting fails because the argument read more
  • mark: So Grim, in your view it is rational and it read more

July 30, 2010

More Polls Like This One, Please

By Porphyrogenitus at 05:21
Not necessarily because of the specific issue, but I'm really keen on polls with this breakdown:
But while 76% of Mainstream voters think the United States should continue to build the fence, 67% of the Political Class are opposed to it.
We need a constant stream of polls showing "N% of the general electorate has this view, X% of the political class believes the opposite."

Not because the majority is always right, but because it's absolutely critical to repeatedly demonstrate on a range of issues how detached the governing class is from the people they govern, how alienated they are from the society they rule.

Which is also why, alas, such breakdowns are unlikely to get widespread mention in the Official Press.
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  • Glen Wishard: They call it "Doing the right thing." Often in a read more
  • Porphyrogenitus: "Is that really how little the elite thinks of us?" read more
  • mark buehner: Its even worse than that- the current game (and Bush read more

July 3, 2010

Morlock on BP: "When Things Fall Apart"

By Joe Katzman at 05:28

I think Marc has his finger on one of our society's bigger problems in his recent post "BP & Obama as Morlocks and Eloi."

Since Winds is partly about trying to do something constructive about such things, I offer Popular Science's "When Things Fall Apart," by a well inspector, as an initial 4th of July weekend contribution. See also the comments there, as some of them are useful contributions in their own right.


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  • Armed Liberal: Roland, I think it shows a safety process that's all read more
  • Joe Katzman: I didn't see the article as support or refutation. I read more
  • toc3: Can't wait to read it. I did not think Marc read more

May 20, 2010

Depictions of Mohammed

By Porphyrogenitus at 16:58
I posted this over at my own blog first and was planning on leaving at most a link to it here, but in solidarity with AL I'll post the whole thing.
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  • Glen Wishard: It is simply not true that depictions of Mohammed have read more

May 18, 2010

I Win Ben Stein!

By Porphyrogenitus at 22:09
I had a e-mail exchange with Win Ben Stein this weekend after watching him on the "Cost of Freedom" block saying he felt Socialism was inevitable in America. Obviously he wasn't cheering it, he just felt it was inevitable. Well I went to the trouble of looking up his e-mail and having a polite go at him: Yes, I can do polite.

I made a bit of fun of the usual way people start off such e-mails, about saying how they love someone's work and really admire them right before they launch into a vicious attack. Then I launched into my attack not on Mr. Stein but the assertion he made and its underlying premise(s).

I didn't figure I'd hear back from him: Heck I wasn't even sure I had his correct e-mail. But to my pleasant surprise he did write back, saying it was a great e-mail, before having a brief go at me. Well we went back and forth a bit over the weekend. I'll spare everyone the details except to say he was polite and brief and I rambled. I haven't heard from him since my last reply.

So I'm going to say I Win Ben Stein! I'll conclude that I convinced him with my brilliant arguments, while somewhere he's out there no doubt thinking I'm an ignoramus. So then we're both winners!


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  • Porphyrogenitus: Yes, it's that Ben Stein and I criticized him on read more
  • Joe Katzman: I thought these were all supposed to start with: "I read more
  • Alchemist: This is basically the story everyone tells their friends when read more

May 3, 2010

The Governments Have Learned from their Mistakes

By Porphyrogenitus at 18:11
It's too easy to satirize the mocking of naive innocents such as Jonah Goldberg, to engage in the fun but unedifying art of tu quoque aimed at the well-meaning gentlemen who note market failure and imply the panacea: Good for what ails you! Got market failure? Government will cure it. Government failure? More government will cure it. Personal problems? Government is here to help you with all your needs.


We live in an era where some fringe cranks focus in an inchoate way on government failure, or the pitfalls of government solutions for perceived market failure.


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  • Porphyrogenitus: I have little I care to add right now, some read more
  • mark buehner: I think there is a distinction between 'government' learning, and read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: I wish I'd had a chance to comment before now, read more

Prominent Governor Gives Aid and Comfort to "Sedition"

By Porphyrogenitus at 15:25
On March 2nd 1930 a prominent Governor of a major U.S. State gave the following speech. Be sure to check out the highlighted portions:
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April 14, 2010

So A Man In Plain Clothes And An Unmarked Car Cuts You Off And Pulls A Gun...

By Armed Liberal at 00:57

...what would you do?

I mean I hate to sound like I work for reason magazine, but this is flipping outrageous on three counts...

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  • NicholasV: This sure doesn't sound like a "land of the free" read more
  • mark buehner: Hopefully Randy Balko is on the case. I seem to read more
  • georgfelis: It is quite plain what happened here on the street. read more
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