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Read My Lips

The governor of Nevada’s current budget proposal is a textbook case of why it’s a bad idea to put people who don’t like government in charge of government. Our governor’s “no new taxes” campaign pledge currently translates into “screw public services and everyone who needs them”. He’s playing a game where he’s taxing local governments and state employees and calling it balancing the budget.

When will free market ideologues learn that business needs a well run, well funded government in order to thrive?

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Barack on the Secular State

For those who get tripped up on the idea of a secular state, Barack Obama gives a good definition. A secular state isn’t anti-religious. It is religiously neutral, allowing everyone to believe whatever their conscience dictates. It involves coming together on common ground to work together.

It’s good to hear a presidential candidate making this much sense.

(via Mind on Fire)

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Moyers on the Free Press

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Security vs. Privacy

Bruce Schneier, renowned security pundit, wrote in his latest Cryptogram newsletter that the dichotomy between security and privacy is false: increased security doesn’t necessarily a decrease in privacy like some inversely proportional law of nature.

We’ve been told we have to trade off security and privacy so often—in debates on security versus privacy, writing contests, polls, reasoned essays and political rhetoric—that most of us don’t even question the fundamental dichotomy.

But it’s a false one.

Security and privacy are not opposite ends of a seesaw; you don’t have to accept less of one to get more of the other. Think of a door lock, a burglar alarm and a tall fence. Think of guns, anti-counterfeiting measures on currency and that dumb liquid ban at airports. Security affects privacy only when it’s based on identity, and there are limitations to that sort of approach.

Since 9/11, approximately three things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back, and—possibly—sky marshals. Everything else—all the security measures that affect privacy—is just security theater and a waste of effort.

By the same token, many of the anti-privacy “security” measures we’re seeing—national ID cards, warrantless eavesdropping, massive data mining, and so on—do little to improve, and in some cases harm, security. And government claims of their success are either wrong, or against fake threats.

The debate isn’t security versus privacy. It’s liberty versus control.

So don’t let a politician sandbag you into giving up privacy for promises of greater security.

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Muhammad Comics

Remember the Muhammad comics from Denmark that got some Muslims in an uproar? Here they are just in case you haven’t seen them yet because newspapers in the U.S. don’t want to take the heat (I don’t really blame them).


Jyllands-Posten (the newpaper that originally published the comics) reports that “all of [Denmark's] major dailies decided to re-print it on Wednesday after it was discovered that Muslim extremists had plotted to assassinate the man who drew it, Kurt Westergaard.”

We have a conflict of ideas: the idea that a person’s religious sensibilities must be respected under penalty of violence versus the idea that we must all be free to say what we want within very liberal bounds. Tolerance of opposing viewpoints in a liberal democracy must find its limit when people plot murder, yet the freedom of conscience of innocent Muslims must be respected. Religious extremism like this might be the poison pill that kills democracy if we can’t strike a proper balance in response.

Having said that, the whole point of this post was just for me to stick up for freedom of speech in my little way.

(via Jesus and Mo)

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