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Phyrric Victories are still Victories

This past weekend, President Barack Obama was able to announce1 to the world that, ten and a half years after taking responsibility for the single worst day of attacks on American soil in our history, Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

I am not going to discuss the morality of killing Bin Laden. We are a nation which practices the death penalty, and whether the operation which finally caught up with Bin Laden would capture or kill him, he was going to die. At least this way, we will not be subjected to a mockery of a trial, as the world was given following the capture of Saddam Hussein2.

Some have made much of the fact that Bin Laden had been at the compound in Northern Pakistan which was assaulted on Saturday for some time, certainly long enough that JSOC3, the special forces unit directly answerable to the President which was designed around this sort of mission, had time to build and train in a replica of the compound for one full month. But I think that it’s a simple answer to why, in the end, this turned out to be relatively easy.

Osama Bin Laden was a great many things, but I do not believe he could ever have been categorized a fool. He choose to attack in the manner in which he did in 2001 because he knew that in no way could Al-Qaeda stand up against the American Armed Forces. By taking principle responsibility for the attack, he put himself in our line of fire, he began living on borrowed time, and prepared himself for martyrdom.

For a time, there as clearly value in remaining alive to release statements and further antagonize the West, but in order to be a Martyr, it would eventually become necessary to die.

This is why I believe he had lived so long in North Pakistan with a relatively small retinue of defenders. When dealing with a strike team like JSOC, five militants would stand about as well as twenty, but it would be easier to live, and live in relative comfort with fewer. No doubt there were other activities in progress, training new leuitenants for instance. Plus, a martyr does not walk into death, they must wait for it to find them.

However, even if you don’t believe, as I have come to, that this death was, in some way, prepared for by Bin Laden, there is no true victory in his death for us as a nation.

Ten years ago, we as a nation had certain harsh realities thrust upon us. It was demonstrated that we were not as insulated as we’d believed from the realities of global politics, or the terrible truth of the distrust and resentment created by our government’s historic policy of convenient involvement in other nations’ affairs. The world did not change that day, but American’s view of our place in it certainly did.

And what do we have to show for it today? The death of an enemy for whom 66% of American’s age 13-17 didn’t even know who they were (which, if anything, shows just how irrelevant Bin Laden had become). The legacy of the PATRIOT Act. The formation of the TSA. Erosion of our civil rights. Three Middle Eastern wars, two of which were justified as linked to those September 11, 2001 attacks.

I do not mean to downplay the actions of JSOC and the SEAL team which is responsible for Operation Geronimo. It was a well executed military action, particularly that we only suffered the loss of a single helicopter to mechanical failure. They executed their assigned mission, by all accounts, professionally and expertly.

I am not even terribly concerned with the lack of respect for the deceased shown by the decision to dump the body into the sea, while attempts were being made to follow all other tenets of Islam surrounding the handling of the dead. The concern that Bin Laden’s grave would become a place of pilgrimage for extremists was an understandable one, though the claim they couldn’t find anyone to take the body is absurd, given the size of Osama Bin Laden’s family.

I do not wholly misunderstand the jubilation felt by many at the news, particularly in the city of New York. I myself was in New York City, standing on the roof of the World Trade Center in July of 2011. When those towers fell I was awash in a surreal feeling over that experience. But I didn’t know anyone who lost their lives in the attack. I haven’t watched the growing health problems of the first responders. And I certainly haven’t lived with a daily reminder of the tragedy in the form of a damaged skyline and gaping hole at ground zero.

No, I do not begrudge the celebration, especially in New York.

And while this will no doubt drive many in Al-Qaeda into a new level of fervor, improved communication and analysis of intelligence, disruption of what command structure Al-Qaeda has, and a new level of proactiveness and willingness to respond among Americans has greatly reduced their chances at success. Combined with the real and reasonble security improvements, it is untrue to say we have nothing to fear, but the risk is likely better mitigated today than at any time in our past.

I just can’t help but think that, until we as a nation decide that we will not trade essential liberty for the illusion of security (and much of it has been illusion), than that enemy has still won. Terrorism is not defeated by killing terrorists. It is defeated by refusing to be terrorized.

Notes: 1. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/05/02/osama-bin-laden-dead 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TrialofSaddam_Hussein 3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JSOC

How Not to Redact a Document in the Digital Age

The Freedom of Information Act has proven to be an very useful tool for government transparency over the last four decades. Traditionally, this information has always been revealed on paper, with the sections deemed “sensitive” redacted from the document with permanent market.

However, today is a new day, and now most documents are kept in a fancy non-editable format like PDF anyway, so when the TSA recently decided to publish their Screening Management Standard Operating Procedure online (outside of a FOIA request, go government transparency), they decide to redact it by doing what was familiar: drawing over the sensitive data using black boxes.

Of course, in a OCR’d PDF, that doesn’t actually block any data. You can still highlight and paste the data, since it’s still in the text, even though you can’t see it. Great job, TSA.

The original document’s been pulled, but the good folks over at Cryptome have the document, with the black boxes replaced by red ones so you can still see all the data, which I’m perfectly okay with. This information really has no business being classified as sensitive, but that’s my opinion, I guess.

So, when you’re going to be redacting information from a document, especially one you’re willingly offering. You might want to make sure you’ve actually kept the information you want to keep secret, secret.

Tort Law and Necessary Reforms

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After Last Monday’s post, where I discuss how I feel that I disagree with the some actions and feelings of one particular personal injury lawyer, Bill Marler, and the brief discussion I had with Marler regarding what was, frankly, a far more personal attack that it had any right to be, I’ve been thinking quite a bit again about the issue of Tort Reform. I’ll get to that in a moment, but I want to start by talking about my stance on risk.

First, I agree wholehearted with Bruce Schneier that we, as humans, are absolutely awful at estimating risk. Going back to the discussion from last week, based on Marler’s own statistics, since 1993 the CDC has had 667 reported cases of illness caused by E. coli O156:H7. The most recent (and largest) reported on Marler’s site was from Spinach from Dole in 2006, which accounted for 205 cases.

Even assuming that only 1% of cases were properly attributed and reported (which I feel is a low estimate), that 2006 instance would have resulted in roughly 20,000 food poisonings. I’m chosing to focus on this 2006 instance because it’s the largest instance, as well as the most recent. But what is 20,000 (or even 200,000) food poisonings in the large scheme of things? As of the most recent US Census (2000), the population of this nation was 281.4 million people. It is assumed that our population passed 300 million in 2006. But even with that 281.4 million number, amd guessing that only .1% of cases were properly reported to the CDC (a figure I guess is ridiculous), the odds of contracting E. coli O156:H7 are in the neighborhood of .07%, roughly 1 in 1,400.

Note that those figures are focusing on a particular strain of E. coli, one which is considered to be particularly vicious. With a more reasonable error rate of maybe 1 in 10 cases being properly reported, the likelihood drops to about 1 in 140,000. Now I’ll admit, that figure is a little scary, since the odds of contracting this particular strain of E. coli significantly lower than hitting the grand prize in the Powerball. But, even at 1 in 1,400, most people will never contract this particular strain of the bacteria. At the more reasonable 1 in 140,000 figure, most people will never even meet a person who has been poisined with this particular bug.

In reality, the figures are a little different. Outbreaks tend to not be spread evenly across the entire population. The 1993 instance which brought Marler to the front of the Food Safety issue, was restricted mostly to Washington State, and more specifically, people who also ate at Jack-in-the-Box. However, since the meat-packing industry effects just about everyone, and according to the USDA 70% of all cattle were processed by only 4 companies by 1997 (a sharply increasing trend from 1980), it is clear that beef production (in particular) is an industry which can have widespread affects when something bad happens. I wonder what that figure is today, but I was unable to find any data.

A phone conversation I had with Mr. Marler on Monday on this, and a few other topics, contained a comment regarding that, while the odds are slim, if it happened to you or someone you love, how many of us would just say, “Oh, well, that’s the luck of the draw.” Not very many, and while I’d acknowledge the rarity of the case, I’d certainly still be upset. But I never tried to imply that people shouldn’t be culpable for their actions. If someone causes an outbreak through deliberate action (or failure to act in a reasonable manner), they should be held accountable. If someone fails to respond in a timely, appropriate manner when an outbreak is discovered, then they are open to legal action.

For instance, last week it became apparent that there was a national Salmonella outbreak that was getting traced back to Peanut Butter under two particular brand names, King Nut and Parenell’s Pride. King Nut issued a recall on January 10th for their peanut butter, but on January 12th, they issued a press release claiming that they absolutely couldn’t be responsible for the outbreak, because they are only distributed Peanut Butter in 7 states that they recieved from the Peanut Corporation of America, who happens to distribute Parnell’s Pride. It wasn’t until January 13th, three days after King Nut’s recall, that the PCA decided to recall their product. The potential link was first identified on January 8th, and confirmed on January 9th, making PCA’s tardiness even more problematic. Especially when you consider that their primary market is large-scale food service operations (like, say, school lunch rooms), and by their own admission several of the lots in question were produced as early as July 1, 2008. Even the CDC recognized the source of the outbreak the day before PCA’s recall.

Is the Peanut Company of America liable for these illnesses (and deaths)? Possibly. It’s perfectly reasonable that PCA knew that King Nut Peanut Butter was really just their own peanut butter repackaged, and when King Nut recalled, they should have followed suit sooner than 48+ hours later. I can’t speak to the conditions of PCA’s factories where the peanut butter is made, so I can’t say if there was any negligence on the part of PCA, but certainly an investigation is warranted.

Returning from nuts, to meat. I will not argue that the meat-industry has not generally shown a real lack of concern for quality and safety. In the case of E.Coli in beef, the evidence is clear. However, I would argue that the issue is far deeper than simply the packing. The majority of the cattleman’s industry has led to the situation we have today. We took a ruminant that ate primarily nutrient poor grasses and began feeding it a diet rich in corn and grains which has drastically changed the stomach chemistry of cattle. Even some Free-Range, Organic, or Grass-Fed beef end their lives in some sort of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) operation, where their diet is pretty much the same as the diets fed the ‘normal’ beef. High animal concentrations in small spaces also leads to immense disease problems, just look at the brucellosis problem in Yellowstone. Now brucellosis in Bison is not dangerous to humans (as far as we can tell), and may not be transmissible to Cattle (but most ranchers don’t want to risk it), but when USDA estimates set the brucellosis rate at half the herd, clearly there is a population problem. If half of a town of 5,000 got infected with something, it would be considered a fairly serious outbreak.

So, in the realm of food safety, there is clearly a lot of room for improvement. Both on the parts of government (FDA and CDC, primarily), but also on the parts of the handful of companies we’ve ended up handing the majority of our food production to. But enough on Food Safety, Risk, and Accountability. This post is, ostensibly, about Tort Reform.

Tort law is the name given to a body of law that addresses, and provides remedies for, civil wrongs not arising out of contractual obligations.[1] A person who suffers legal damages may be able to use tort law to receive compensation from someone who is legally responsible, or “liable,” for those injuries. Generally speaking, tort law defines what constitutes a legal injury and establishes the circumstances under which one person may be held liable for another’s injury. Torts cover intentional acts and accidents.

From the Wikipedia article on Tort

Now, part of the reason that Tort law has such a bad name these days is because of Personal Injury Lawyers who will take any suit, on the off-chance that it might work out in court. Things like that woman who spilled McDonald’s Coffee on her lap and sued because it burned her, or inmates suing the prison system because they only had access to the wrong kind of peanut butter (chunky v. smooth, not salmonella-laced v salmonella-free).

Now, for every asshole lawyer out there who takes on bullshit cases like these, there are several who really do try to only take cases they feel involve real fault. Mr. Marler assures me that his firm works hard to only take cases they feel are valid, and while I still disagree with that particular case of the raw milk dairy in Massachusetts (mentioned in the post on Food Safety and Accountability), I accept that the firm of Marler-Clark had evidence which suggested to them that there was fault.

However, while many lawyers aren’t shifty, there are enough who are, that it leaves a poor impression for the entire profession. The Bar Association’s across in most US states require membership to practice law, and have method for revoking bar membership for cases where people step beyond appropriate lines. Traditionally the Bar has been very reluctant to do this policing, and that is understandable. But there are cases like Jack Thompson, who spent 11 years of his career on a tear against the Video Game and Pornography industries, because of his strong feelings that such things undermined his Christian Values. In short, he used the law, not as a tool to find Justice, but as a weapon to fight something he disliked on religious grounds. It wasn’t until last year, that the Florida Bar finally disbarred him (a process that had begun in 2007) for professional misconduct.

Now, by their definition, his professional misconduct was related to defamation, lying (even under oath), and attempts at coercion to win his cases. However, I think that the Bar, as a professional organization needs to take a more active role in policing their own members, even in Jurisdictions where the Bar lacks the legal power to disbar their own members. Clearly, this wouldn’t change the need of the Bar to not take disbarment proceedings lightly, but for cases where people are clearly using the law as a weapon, and have a demonstrable history of this, the bar should be more proactive. A lot of lawyers lament the reputation of their chosen profession, and I suggest taking things further and supporting better policing of the profession from inside the profession. Particularly for instances, like Thompson, where the research they use to present their cases is routinely sourced from research institutions who have an obvious agenda, and who routinely contradict a larger body of evidence to the contrary.

But there are more issues that simply this. In much of the US, there are no penalties for bringing a frivolous suit against a defendant. In Britain, the rule is that the loser of a case is required to pay the legal fees of both sides. I like this situation a lot, but there is a definite fear that this system unfairly benefits the wealthy (which largely will constitute large corporate entities), in that they can generally afford to pay the legal fees far better than the people seeking the damages. So, while the system discourages frivolous cases, it can also make prosecuting potentially legitimate cases, that certainly should be heard by the courts, from being brought forward all together.

Mr. Marler described to me a system in a Mid-Western state (I forget which one, and my Yahoo!-fu is not helping), where a panel of judges would decide on the ‘value’ of a case, and whomever lost the case by at least 10% was responsible for both side’s legal fees (if no one won by the 10% figure, both sides pay their own). I know very little about this system, but it sounds intriguing, and like a really good compromise between the the “British” and “American” systems of Tort Law.

As a final note, I’m not convinced that a jury is appropriate for civil cases. For one thing, the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution, only talks about a jury in criminal prosecutions, so there is no constitutional reason for a Jury in a civil case, but I’m willing to allow the decision to be made by a jury based on the rule of law as presented by the Judge, and both sides of the case. The Jury simply won’t be as educated on the law, either existing case law or the written law (nor will they be as educated on researching it) for me to feel completely comfortable turning the decision, which is ultimately a decision based on the interpretation of the facts and the law, into an fully educated decision.

Then, there is the issue of unreasonable awards. The $2.9 million award for the old woman spilling the McDonald’s coffee on her lap, or the $15.6 Million settlement for the 9-year old Seattle girl who was poisoned in the E. Coli outbreak at Jack in the Box that made Bill Marler famous, seem on the surface to be patently absurd. There may well be underlying circumstances that make those judgments make much more sense, but on the surface, this feels ridiculous. This concern, however, may be somewhat unfounded. Certainly, there are cases where Juries provide judgments which are ridiculous, but Mr. Marler (and a few other litigators I’ve asked), have indicated that there experience is that most of the time, Juries are not willing to make judgments for enormous sums of money. This is functionally hear-say, but I’d be interested in seeing an analysis of these sorts of judgments.

There is no perfect system. The system that we have is probably one of the best, particularly compared to China. However, in my opinion, a lot of problems that this country is facing, comes down to the ease of filing and lack of repercussions there are for filing lawsuits that are baseless. Medical Malpractice Insurance is higher than it historical ever has been, in part because of the increased trend of people suing doctors. Some doctors deserve it, but many probably don’t.

People are emotional, particularly when things happen to them or their loved ones. Their desire may often tend to be toward retribution instead of justice, and the system needs to ensure that the line between retribution and justice, which can get blurry, is better considered. Some of that burden needs to fall on the state, through deeper penalties for baseless suits, but some of it too should rest with the bar association, in the self policing they do of their members. Certainly, some of this is already done, but I’m not convinced the self-policing of the profession is vigilant enough.

Above all, we all would do well to remember that sometimes bad things happen, and it truly is nobody’s fault.

Is Funding NASA Worthwhile?

Today, the Daily Tech reported that, according to NASA, Barack Obama is planning to scrap the Constellation program. Constellation is a pair of vehicles NASA has been working on with the stated purpose of getting the United States back to the Moon for the purpose of building a permanent Moon Base by 2020.

This base is important for several reasons: Learning about life in Micro-Gravity (not Zero G), Telescopes and Radio Telescopes cheaper than Hubble but still free of the Earths Atmosphere, and the stated goal of being the jumping off point for a manned mission to Mars. Even with the plans for ARES, we are already facing an enormous lag of Space Service with the impending retirement of the Shuttle in 2010 (which is long overdue), and scrapping ARES at this point would put the US at such a severe disadvantage as the issue of Space Exploration heats up again.

My main issue is why anyone is surprised. Yes, Obama did endorse a $2 Billion bill to extend the shuttle a single misson, but his stance had always been that he wanted to cut NASA’s funding to support his educational programs. Obama doesn’t feel that human space exploration is worth the cost. And it is expensive. And it is dangerous. But the people engaged in the program are well aware of the risks, and they accept them, for the purpose of science, and the furthering of Human Knowledge and Understanding.

And this is woefully important. Already, we face a looming crisis on this planet. Our population is rapidly approaching 7 Billion, while rising oceans are slowly creating a refugee problem. Ecologists have estimated that the Earth’s Biosphere will only be able to support around 10 Billion people. At the current rate of population growth, we’re likely to face a try, honest, global famine within the next twenty years or so. Science may be able to help us find a way out of this, and space may be able to as well. We’re barreling into a pretty miserable situation, and cutting back on Science is not a good long-term strategy.

Space Exploration may not be the thing that saves Mankind, but the things that we’ll need to fund to sponsor the development certainly won’t hurt. Further development in Hydroponics, Solar Power, Low-Power Electronics, and on and on will be necessary to fund to take us in this direction. All of these have honest, and sincere potential for changing things meaningfully in the next ten years, and the Space Program can (and should) be but one of the ideas pushing this. Even people who don’t believe that the problems of Climate Change are real (or as serious as some claim) can easily get behind pushing these technologies in that realm.

I am reminded, once again, of the words of President John F. Kennedy, given at Rice University in Houston, TX in 1962, where he focuses on the fact that these expensive, and impossible tasks serve to unite us, and drive us forward in ways we never thought we could. We need this sort of inspiration now, we need a goal, and not only the doomsday scenario we are facing. I firmly believe that solving those problems with help with many of ours.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

The End of One Thing, the Beginning of the Next

Tarot Card - DeathOn Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at about 8pm Pacfic Time, the major news networks officially called the election for the President of the United States of America for Democratic Candidate Barack Obama. But you all already knew that. A lot of people have been expressing excitement over the issue, but to be honest, I’m not one of them. I did not vote for Barack Obama, but neither was I able to bring myself to cast my vote for John McCain.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect John McCain as one of this country’s greatest public servants. I know some would disagree, but John McCain’s devotion to this country and it’s people is inspiring. So, why did I not vote for him? Because the last six months have made me wonder if John McCain was his own man anymore. He refused to bring the party away from it’s modern message of hate and fear. While he didn’t come out himself and try to mark Obama as a Muslim, he did virtually nothing to stop his people (particularly his Vice Presidential Nominee) from making those suggestions. While McCain didn’t act poorly himself, he did not, in my opinion, do enough to put a stop to it. In essence, this honorable man, through his own inaction, let his own name get sullied, more so, because it was in the name of an unfair attempt to sully the name of another.

Which brings me to Sarah Palin. When Palin was first announced as the VP Nominee, I was interested. Here was a virtual unknown, from a state that is often poorly represented on the national stage, and it seemed for a moment to be a decision that way like the McCain I respected. It seemed that he did something in spite of the party, intended to shake things up. I was disappointed that the nomination wasn’t given to Joe Liberman, or another more moderate candidate, but I knew that the Party would never allow McCain to select a Non-Republican as his running mate.

Then Palin started talking, really falling into her stride. It was clear that she appealed to a large number of people, and energized them for the campaign. Unfortunately, this is exactly why the race became such a blowout. Sarah Palin attracted exactly the kind of people the Republic Party shouldn’t be pandering to, but has been anyway. The willfully ignorant. People who revel in Barack Obama being referred to with his middle name, Hussein. People for whom McCain’s energy policy boiled down to three words, “Drill Baby, Drill.” People who honestly believed, and looked forward to, McCain and Palin attempting to overturn Roe V. Wade.

In other words, people who were never going to vote for Barack Obama. However, this choice as Vice President, and the apparent recklessness with which it was made, drove a lot of middle-ground voters away from McCain. If you look at the National Polls, such as the one below, McCain suffered a major hit in early September, right after announcing Palin as his running mate. It continued to drop for well over a month. Yes, eventually there was a bit of a rebound, but Obama’s numbers were consistently rising over that same time period.

As much as I disagree with Obama’s policies, I did find it amazing how he ran his campaign. I had never, in my entire life, seen people as excited about a candidate as many were about Barack Obama. For once, this election felt to be more about the man than the party for a lot of people. I watched as expatriate citizens and resident aliens worked hard to volunteer on behalf of Obama. I watched hundreds of students here at Washington State University not only walked around wearing Obama merchandise, but actively engaging people in discussion regarding the issues. I still fundamentally disagree with most of the policies they were arguing for, but I can not argue with the passion embodied by many Obama supporters.

And so, in an early night, just after the polls closed here on the West Coast, the election was called. Barack Obama won, by a healthy margin. And John McCain spoke. His concession speech is exactly what I’ve been wanting to see out of John McCain for the past six months or so, but have been desperately missing. It was respectful, and clear. McCain still disagrees with Obama on many core issues, and no doubt this will show in McCain’s voting record for the remainder of his time as the Senator from Arizona. Had the McCain I saw in the following video been the McCain who I had been watching for the last few months, I would have gladly cast my vote for him, a man I wanted desperately to believe in, but found myself unable to. Had McCain stayed true to himself, I firmly believe this election would have been far closer.

But, like McCain, I do not wish to dwell on the loss. I do not wish to enter upcoming Obama presidency full of spite and anger. Obama ran a good campaign. One of the best campaigns I’ve ever watched. In his speech on Tuesday, accepting the role of President-Elect, Obama continued his message of change, passing on his “Yes We Can” message beyond not only his supporters, but this entire nation. It’s like what Trent, over at The Simple Dollar, said in his morning post yesterday.

Today (Tuesday), America pretty clearly voted for change, for better or worse. But today is when the real change begins, and it begins with you.

Ultimately, if change is supposed to happen, we cannot depend on Barack Obama. We cannot depend on anyone, except for ourselves. This country is hurting, and the healing it requires is something deeper than any one man, however charismatic, can accomplish. It requires work from all of us.

I agree with some of Barack Obama’s platform. I believe in Open, Transparent Government. I believe in Network Neutrality. I believe that while Faith is important to life, it should not be a consideration in governing. I don’t believe that Obama is right when it comes to Health Care Reform. I don’t believe Obama is right where it comes to Tax Reform (note, I will benefit from Obama’s Tax Plan). I don’t believe that Obama’s Energy Policy is enough.

But, I’m willing to give him a chance. What choice to do I have? I won’t leave this country for this reason alone, not yet. If Obama can bring about positive change in the way our government operates, but more importantly in the way people view their role in government, I will be content. If Obama makes it easier for me to track the government in a meaningful way, I’ll be content.

Obama’s acceptance speech didn’t feel terribly important to me. It was mostly reiterating what he’s been saying for months, which is reasonable. The only thing I feel is truly important in his speech, are comments beginning around the tenth minute of the speech. Where he begins to call out toward the people to be better, to work together, and work harder. He invokes Abraham Lincoln (a Republican), and in so doing reminds America (albeit briefly) of the qualities on which that party was founded, and the principles for which I tend to agree with that party.

To those American’s whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight. But I hear your voices, I need you help, and I will be your President too.

I do not believe that Barack Obama’s Presidency will be what many people do. I believe that Barack Obama will work hard. I believe that he will, by his very nature, improve the way many people globally view this nation. But I don’t believe that many of his plans are ultimately good for this country. I could be wrong, but there are ways to improve health care, that don’t involve government subsidies. I believe that while alternative energy is important enough to invest in, but that Nuclear Power is safe, reliable and effective now and needs to be a part of a major energy policy. I believe that America electing a Black Man as President does not make America not racist.

I wonder how many people voted for John McCain, purely not to vote for a Black Man. I know that some Black People went out of their way to be remarkably racist, going so far as to keep white people from getting to the polls. That story is backed up by personal reports. Admittedly, America has come a long way at breaking down it’s racist roots, and there is a good chance Obama will take that even a little further, but the next step in breaking down racism in this country is to recognize that white people are not the only one’s capable of being racists.

So, for the next four years, we as a country are saddled with a President, who, while I respect his campaign, and agree with a few of his stances on the issues, I disagree with on enough important issues that he could not earn my vote. Perhaps that will change by 2012, I know that I’ll be watching with interest. There is change in this countries future, and I know that some of it is for the better. It’s not the change I chose, but often, that really an option.

Look into the eyes....

Bush Blinking

Watch the hypnotic gaze…

So, I’m still kind of undecided in this election. I’m not as upset about the War in Iraq as most people. I think it needed to be done, but the lying about the reasons behind the war is getting a little old. The Bush Administration has had honesty issues that made Clinton look like ole Honest Abe.

However, I’m not fully convinced that Kerry is a good alternative. I’m probably going to vote for Kerry, but I’m just not convinced he’s the best candidate for the job. What I’d really like to see is a viable Third Party Candidate. Maybe when there is one that isn’t nuts…