A Real Way 'Forward'

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Posted on : 7/12/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

The Washington Post's Jonathan Rauch has suggested a path towards re-election for Mr. Obama.  While it isn't everything that I would hope for, it does represent modest real progress for the country.

The three elements that Mr. Rauch suggests are:

1.  Long term fiscal retrenchment - He suggests something along the lines of Simpson-Bowles; the national commission that Mr. Obama established to look at long term fiscal reform.  Given that he created the commission and established its objectives, it would be a pity to waste all that effort.

2.  Short term economic stimulus - Given the patronage and graft evident in the 2009 stimulus as well as the wholesale transfer of American funds to European banks, I have my doubts about Mr. Obama's ability to pull off a proper stimulus.  But if it were coupled with the other elements with an emphasis on the "fiscal retrenchment" now instead of in the ubiquitous "out years", then I am sure that we could survive another round of modest stimulus.

3.  A two-year extension on the debt ceiling - As with the stimulus, I think this is something that could be worked out if enough emphasis were placed on spending reductions.

But the problem is that Mr. Rauch has properly qualified his suggested course of action.

The president’s failure, so far, to show that he understands the scope of the economy’s problems and knows how to fix them does not stem from having nothing to say: investment in education, energy, innovation and infrastructure are reasonable things. But they are also slow-acting, small-bore stuff. Such talk does not include additional economic stimulus, an element that many economists, especially Democratic-leaning ones, consider crucial to prevent a double-dip recession. Nor does it deal realistically with long-term growth in spending.
Emphasis added.

The problem is that he does not understand how the economy works.  Instead he prefers to trade upon stoking class envy and the lust for unearned wealth. 

Unless that changes, Mr. Obama is doomed to be a one term President.

The Eye In The Sky

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Posted on : 7/11/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Duality.

How does a technology geek possess concerns about the lawless use of technology?

How does a civil libertarian appreciate our ever increasing knowledge and application of technology?

It is a bit of a conundrum.

The news this past week included word that our friends at Lockheed-Martin have come up with a new spy drone that is based on the physics of the maple seed.  For the uninitiated, a maple seed has a pouch on one end.  The balance of the seed is a broad thin blade.  When the maple drops a seed, the blade naturally causes the seed to spin.  The aerodynamics of the blade helps the seed stay in the air longer and thus be able to travel further from the tree before it reaches the ground.

This new spy drone has a pod on one end where the electronics lives.  The blade is an airfoil like half of a helicopter rotor.  There is a small engine with a propeller on the end of the blade that can drive the blade so the whole thing spins.

Unlike the maple seed, this drone...the Samarai...can fly up as well as down.  It can also move forward, backwards, and side-to-side.  They think it can even fly inside windows to snoop around inside buildings.

Just think of the fun!


Which is why so many folks that care about our ever intrusive government...and limiting that intrusiveness...were posting comments about this new bit of technology.  Rich Lowry of the National Review suggests that such concerns are overblown.  He thinks that past legal limitations on the use of past technology provide a reasonable model for how future technology will be similarly limited.

I'd really like to believe that.

One the one hand, I really am fine with using any and all technological advances to their fullest in our War on Terror.

On the other hand, I really want our law enforcement officers to have rules that limit their actions and respect our individual liberty.  History suggests that such limitations are not always as effective as intended.  It does not help that the current administration seems to be stuck on the idea that Americans who profess a preference for individual liberty are a greater terrorist threat than some extremist Jihadists that have spent so much time and effort at attacking Americans; military and otherwise.

I think you can see the problem.

The fortuitous aspect to the current discussion is that I have a book idea rolling around in my head.  One of the sub-plots for this book has to do with the thorough use of surveillance technologies.

While I would like to say that this is a "win-win", I think the best I can do is a mild "tie-lose".