Facebook ≠ Good Governance

Facebook wants me to use Facebook to contact my representatives in government. I’ll get to the issue of my never giving Facebook the authority to be the messenger to and from my representatives in government eventually. First I would like to explain why none of these people really want to hear from me again.

There is one preliminary quibble I need to get out of the way. Facebook claims my local government representatives are on Facebook. this is false. Austin’s mayor is on Facebook as part of this new Townhall function they’ve come up with, so there is a representative of my local government. But not nearly all of them, or even more than that one. No one below that, local townsfolk who have actual knowledge of what I need and might want to say to them are on Facebook as part of this function that Facebook has given itself. None of them; City Manager, City Councilmember, County Commissioners, Justice of the Peace,  County Clerk, Municipal Court, Police Department, Fire Department, EMS, Austin Utilities, Texas Gas, Or the various information service providers, all of whom are between me and my access to Facebook who has deemed itself my conduit to speaking to my government representatives, are listed as being part of this townhall dublafluwichy they’ve invented for Facebook.

Now, these guys? These guys aren’t local, but one of them was. So I’ll follow him. He’s also the only one of these people who would willingly take a call from me personally and not actually ignore anything I say, so he’s the only one worth talking to. Now, you could say, What about Dawnna Dukes? She’s local. Yeah, she’s local, but there’s no point in talking to her. She wasn’t present to do her job this session in congress, and I voted for her for the first time in 2016 only because she promised she’d retire and let a special session pick her replacement. This time around I will vote for anybody who runs against her in the primary. Anybody. I’ll vote for anybody running against her in the general. Anybody. That’s how much I want her out of the seat she’s sitting in.

The other two state Schmos? The ones who represent the entire state of Texas? I’ve never voted for either of them at any point in history, and I doubt that I ever will. One of them is a crazed religious zealot who wants to kick all Hispanics out of the state of Texas and thinks that the transgendered, homosexuals and atheists are threats to the christian way of life, and the other one is Dan Patrick. The less said about him the better.

These guys are definitely not local. District twenty-five is a gerrymandered piece of shit that the Texas GOP came up with to get rid of what was then the only sitting Texas Democrat in the House of Representatives. They failed. He’s still there sitting in the seat he inherited from J.J. Jake Pickle.

Roger Williams is from Killeen, a place way up North of Austin. He’s not local. If Texas was broken up like the Atlantic states are, He’d be from Maine while I was from Connecticut. Not even vaguely similar. Killeen is as much like Austin as a Catholic is like a Baptist. Jesus is their shared savior but they aren’t exactly sure how that is.

Likewise John Cornyn is from Texas but his notion of what Texas is and mine will never be the same. Ted Cruz is Ted Cruz. I’ve talked to both of them before. I’d rather have a conversation with my dog. I’m pretty sure my dog understands me better and I’m quite comfortable calling my dog a friend I can relate to. If I could relate to those two I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night.

All three of those guys, Williams, Cornyn and Cruz are on the same list as Dawnna Dukes, which is a low point for Democrats for me. The one Democrat who represents me is the one Democrat I want to be rid of; the one Democrat that I would vote for anybody on the ticket other than her. The other three are just typical Texas Republicans. People I generally have no use for but are stuck in the same state with anyway. Their twisted values are as familiar to me as the taint of oil refinery polluted air around Houston and Borger. The shell-shocked town of West. The destitute colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. No, I know these people quite well. They are the problem, not the solution.

All of the negative observations above goes double for both Mike Pence and Donald Trump. Mike Pence may end up being the person in charge of the federal government but that will only be because the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) is completely incapable of holding government office successfully. His probable presidency will not be because Mike Pence has the slightest clue in which direction reality lies or an idea of what good governance is or might be. He’s only the Vice President because the OHM picked someone everyone would be less inclined to trust than him. We can’t impeach Trump, then we’d have to face President Pence. Except we have to impeach Trump because he’s probably a lunatic, making him more dangerous to the world than a President Pence would be to us.

Fresh Air, Understanding Mike Pence And His Relationship To Trump: ‘His Public Role Is Fawning’, October 18, 2017

Having now taken the tour of Facebook’s townhall offering, I’d like to make a counter-offer. Be careful, Facebook. You are starting to look like the Post Office. The Post Office was Benjamin Franklin’s invention that allowed an informed public to be created and through it for representative governance to be possible. If you are the Post Office, then you are subject to direct federal oversight. You are a part of government; and as such, can be dictated to by the exact same representatives you list for me to contact. You can be altered, ordered or dismantled by the government without an appeal to the population at large. Without a claim to private business or privacy protections. Branches of government can come and go at the government’s whim.

With a user base of over a billion people, I have to wonder if there is anything with enough power to bring you to heel? I’m beginning to doubt that there is an entity with enough authority to govern the internet in general and Facebook in particular. But it may be about time that we starting talking about that kind of authority, if not well past that time.

An Open Letter to the 47 Senators Who Should Have Known Better

I am forwarding this on behalf of a friend of mine, Jim Wright. I agree with his sentiments so solidly that I feel little need to embroider them with thoughts of my own. Please feel free to peruse his article that accompanies the letter, to be found at http://www.stonekettle.com/2015/03/the-second-coming-of-richard-millhouse.html (Please forgive the misspelling. Milhouse has already forgiven him)

To the United States Senate, Attention: Tom Cotton, David Perdue, Joni Ernst, James Inhofe, John Cornyn, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, John Hoeven, Richard Shelby, Thom Tillis, Richard Burr, Steve Daines, Jeff Sessions, John Boozman, Cory Gardner, Shelley Moore Capito, Ron Johnson, Mark Kirk, James Lankford, Chuck Grassley, Roy Blunt, John Thune, Mike Enzi, Pat Toomey, Bill Cassidy, John Barrasso, Ted Cruz, Jim Risch, Mike Crapo, Deb Fischer, Ben Sasse, Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller, Pat Roberts, John McCain, Rand Paul, Rob Portman, Lindsey Graham, and Mike Rounds

Senators,
Now might be a good time to rethink the road you’re on.
Your partisan fanaticism and your self-admitted ill-considered actions make the Iranian government seem sane, sympathetic, reasoned and moderate in comparison.
You have measurably damaged the reputation of the United States and risked open war, the lives of millions, and the world economy, solely to further your own selfish goals. You have placed partisanship and loyalty to party above your own country and the lives of your fellows.

At this point, whatever the final outcome of your actions, history will very likely remember you in the same light as your fellow Republican, Richard Nixon – and potentially far worse.
Were I you, I’d give that some very, very serious thought.
Your oath, the oath you swore with your right hand upraised before your God, was to the United States of America.
The Pledge of Allegiance you swear is to the American flag, not the Israeli one.

Your legal, moral, and sacred obligation is to the citizens of the United States of America first, ALL OF THEM NOT JUST THE ONES WHO VOTED FOR YOU, and second to all of our allies and partners – not just Israel. Your duty extends far, far beyond the small and selfish interests of your religion and/or your political party and it is long past time for you to remember that.

I won’t presume to say you should be ashamed of your recent actions, since many of you obviously lack the capacity, but I will say it is NOT necessary to destroy the village in order to save it – and your fellow Senator John McCain should know the moral bankruptcy of that particular strategy better than anyone. What will save our nation and our world, the only thing that will ultimately save civilization itself, is that we work together, all of us – and that’s something else Captain John McCain USN(ret) and the veterans among your number should know as well. Perhaps they could explain it to the rest of you.

Respect is earned, Senators.

For people and likewise for nations, respect is earned – or lost – by every action, by every word.

Now might be a good time to consider yours.

Signed,
James Wright
Chief Warrant Officer, United States Navy (ret)
Citizen of the United States of America

It bears noting that if Ronald Reagan authorized the negotiations with Iranian terrorists holding US hostages in 1980, he was only following in the footsteps of his hero Richard Nixon, as noted in the Stonekettle Station article. I find it hard to believe that his administration only thought of negotiating with the Iranians 4 years later during Iran-Contra and not at the earlier time when it would have meant defeating Carter in the election. It simply doesn’t add up.

A copy of the letter sent to my Texas Senators.

Fascist Form Letters Rule the Day

Posted my thoughts on Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s form letter endorsement of federalizing Texas law enforcement here. At that time I thought John Cornyn (Texas’ other Senator) was savvy enough to understand not to send form letters endorsing legislation, to people who are on file as being opposed to the same legislation. Apparently I’m mistaken.

Campaign for Liberty, Downsize DC and EFFector all sent messages out requesting that we contact our representatives and express our desire that the PATRIOT ACT provisions be allowed to sunset, about the middle of February. I dutifully sent of a few lines of text that day;

Repeal the Patriot Act. Do NOT renew any of its provisions. Do not follow the House in this. Refuse to extend the Patriot act. This is the ‘patriotic’ thing to do…

Not my best writing, but I thought it was pretty clear my thoughts on the subject. Today, I get this message in the mail;

Dear Mr. Steele:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding efforts to strengthen our nation’s ability to investigate and prosecute terrorism while protecting our constitutional liberties. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this important matter.

Recent events across the country, including in our home state of Texas, remind us of the real threat terrorists pose to our national security. The USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107—56) was signed into law on October 26, 2001, and contained specific provisions that enable the United States to carry out the War on Terror. This legislation broadened the authority of law enforcement officials to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications and permitted them to share grand jury and wiretap information with intelligence, defense, national security, and immigration officials. Additionally, the USA PATRIOT Act enhanced border security by increasing the number of immigration inspectors, Border Patrol agents, and Customs Service personnel and authorized funds to purchase equipment that improves border security technology.

During the 111th Congress, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division David Kris testified in support of renewing critical provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act. Renewing this important legislation ensures that law enforcement officials have the resources necessary to complete their goals and increases our nation’s security without compromising our civil liberties. As you may know, three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act were set to expire on February 28, 2011, and on February 15, 2011, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass the FISA Sunsets Extension Act (H.R. 514) and reauthorize these critical intelligence tools for three months.

I appreciate having the opportunity to represent the interests of Texans in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator

517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
http://www.cornyn.senate.gov

Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.

Well, at least his secretary knew how to do a mail merge. Still, I would have appreciated some feigned disappointment at being unable to comply with my request. Some heartfelt commiseration? But braggadocio about extending provisions of legislation they didn’t even read before they passed? Provisions which have been shown to have been abused, repeatedly, by the organizations entrusted with the enhanced powers?

Loved the invite at the end. Did you know, if you mail Senator Cornyn you get added to his list automatically? Going to start reporting him as a spammer shortly.

Who exactly do these people represent? It certainly isn’t me.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in favor of federalizing Texas law enforcement

Downsize DC sent out an alert yesterday in response to the announcement by the Attorney General that he intends to enforce federal drug laws in California even if the people there vote to legalize Marijuana.

War on Drugs: How the Attorney General Will Waste Your Money and Trash the Constitution

Being the slacktivist that I am these days, I copied the content of the letter in the alert, and posted it as my own, changing the text to reflect my state instead of James Wilson’s. It went like this;

If California’s Prop 19 passes, it will mean the voters believe the War on Pot is unjust, ineffective, unworkable, and too expensive.

If Texas passed something like Prop 19, how would you react? Would you follow the will of the people? Or would you want the DEA to randomly terrorize law-abiding Texans?

Attorney General Holder wants to do the latter. If Prop 19 passes, Holder promises to “vigorously enforce” federal marijuana laws in California.

This would be a complete waste of my tax dollars! There won’t be enough DEA agents to effectively enforce the federal laws.

More importantly, most federal marijuana laws – as with most federal drug laws in general – violate the Tenth Amendment. This means that the fraction of pot growers and users who do get arrested in CA will be law-abiding citizens singled out arbitrarily or maliciously by the DEA.

Please speak out against Holder’s plan. Please do so before the election, so I know where you stand.

Cornyn’s mail server, being the mail server for the savvy politician that he is, just auto-responded that he got the letter. I’m sure he won’t have much to say before the election. Senator Hutchison though…

…Her office sent out a letter of a completely different nature. Her reply follows.

Dear Friend:

Thank you for contacting me regarding efforts to legalize marijuana. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

As drug use continues to rise in our country, especially among our youths, I believe we need to send a message that all illegal drug use is dangerous. We can win the war on drugs, but we will not do so by legalizing marijuana or encouraging its use for any purpose.

Researchers have found that marijuana use can adversely affect brain activity and the respiratory system, lead to increases in heart rate and blood pressure, and impair critical skills related to attention, memory, and learning. In addition, the harmful chemical in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been linked to low birth weight and impaired motor development in children whose mother used marijuana.

I appreciate hearing from you, and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you.

Sincerely,
Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senator

284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-5922 (tel)
202-224-0776 (fax)
http://hutchison.senate.gov

Dear friend. Such a personal response too. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Yes it’s a form letter, but it’s a form letter that her office felt addressed my concerns. Let’s parse this so that we understand what this response means.

First off, she says “we can win the drug war” a claim that is patently absurd based on the multi-decades long attempt to outlaw drug use, as can be demonstrated by the briefest perusal of the content over at CATO.org. To truly understand the magnitude of the folly we are engaged in, one need look no farther than the history that documents alcohol prohibition, and what a success that endeavor was. Which is why alcohol remain illegal to this day, right?

Then she goes on to list out the harmful effects of marijuana use, the claims of which are highly exaggerated, to say the least. Even so, the harmful effects of alcohol consumption are far greater, not to mention tobacco use. Good thing neither of those can be consumed legally, either.

All of this is beside the point that motivated me to write. While the drug warriors won’t admit it, the writing is on the wall; the War on Drugs is a failure. It’s all over but the crying. I’d like to limit the harm inflicted on the population at large by grandstanding politicians, greedy state and city police forces that see dollar signs every time they confiscate another families entire list of assets if they can only be shown to be dealing drugs, and the ignorant population that doesn’t read up on subjects that they think they have valid opinions on. (that’s right. If you disagree with me, your opinion is invalid. Have a Nice Day!) What motivated me to write was the news that the Federal government (those guys in Washington that our state leaders here in Texas are always whining about) is going to go out of it’s way to victimize Californians that dare to engage in legal activities within the State of California.

…And Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in favor of federalizing Texas law enforcement as well, apparently. If we dare to pass laws that the feds don’t like, that is. Time for a new Senator or two. Perhaps an entirely new Senate is in order. I hear-tell that there’s a movement afoot to repeal the 17th amendment. Perhaps it’s time to reverse that one, just like the one that was reversed and should have stopped all drug enforcement operations in the US. If only they had gone that far then.

Victory at Sunset – Protect America Act is no more

Downsize DC sent out a notice earlier this week that I failed to blog on:

68 Senators violated their oaths of office

This is their oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”

And they violated this oath (blatantly) by

They voted to pass S. 2248, a new law designed to replace the so-called “Protect America Act.” This bill violates the Bill of Rights . . .

* It permits the President to spy on Americans without a warrant.
* It grants retroactive immunity to tele-communications companies that collaborated with the Bush administration in previous warrantless spying, thereby creating an incentive for other companies to engage in similar crimes in the future (only Qwest Communications insisted on warrants).

Will this new, un-constitutional power, prevent future terrorist attacks? Of course not, nothing can do that, just as there is no law or power that could completely stop murders by domestic criminals.

68 Senators violated their oaths of office

Kay Bailey Hutchison essentially bragged that this was what she was going to do in canned responses to my requests that PAA be allowed to sunset. Citing unnamed threats to national security she (like most conservatives) was all to willing to give up our freedom for the appearance of greater security.

At least she answered letters sent to her office. John Cornyn has never responded to a single request that I have sent him.

If only Texas allowed for a method to recall Senators from Washington, I’d be agitating for that right now. As it is I think it would be a crime to send either of them back to Washington. It was the job of the government to protect us from 9-11 in the first place, not remove our freedom as a consequence of their failure.


All is not dark on the subject of illegal spying on us by our government, with the duplicitous assistance of our telecommunications companies. Perhaps the House understands the Constitution, or at least the will of the people:

Speaker Pelosi announced the sunset of PAA. She pointed out that the government still retains all the powers it needs to spy on suspected terrorists under the old FISA law, which remains in place. She also talked about the need for the government, and the telecommunications companies, to operate under the rule of law.

DownsizeDC.org – Victory at Sunset

Goodbye Protect America Act; which is the next best thing to not passing it in the first place.

Some serious house cleaning is in order at the federal level. The problem is that the house cleaning needs to go deeper than those individuals who can be removed by the people through election. Don’t ask me how we achieve this goal; I only wish there was a tool suitable to the job at hand. I’ve often thought that anyone who draws a salary paid directly with taxes should be able to be fired directly by tax-payers. That would be a suitable tool. Don’t hold your breath on it’s being crafted any time soon.