Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Consensus tokens, Russia and AMS systems

tendenci cloud security monitoring

The headline is ridiculous. But I couldn’t make this up in my wildest dreams. Yes, cryptocurrency, blockchain, and association management systems (AMS) are all interconnected. And the primary connection is Russia.

Stay with me for a second, get a cup of coffee, and read on.

First cryptocurrency isn’t a thing. It’s two parts. I try to explain cryptocurrency like this:

  1. BlockChain = Clipboard with a piece of paper. You check stuff in and out until you are out of paper. Some clipboards have more sheets of paper than others.
  2. Scarcity – Scarce object = some mathematically difficult to produce number. Or controlled by an authority like the Private Federal Reserve in the US.

Picture a clip board. And you are checking in and out some token. That token only has value if it delivers value. And the best way to determine that is really a classic economics popularity contest.

Note: This author does a GREAT job of explaining concensus capital: https://medium.com/@tompocock/consensus-capital-part-1-dff72ba39a63

These are not tulips. Blockchain is a tech that will disrupt everything from how we do a Turn-Around at the Olefins units at LyondellBassell, to how BP manages wind farms, to how carfax will be disrupted by a VIN blockchain startup.

What does this have to do with Association Management Systems?

Believe it or not, they are intertwined. So be careful on your selection of crypto for smart contracts. I’d recommend looking at HyperLedger  (https://www.hyperledger.org/) as an alternative to Russian Bank backed by Dmitry Buterin and his son Vitalik’s Ethereum .  ( https://futurism.com/ethereums-founder-struck-a-deal-with-a-russian-bank-to-create-ethereum-russia/ )

Not everyone in the crypto community is fond of Ethereum and Russian owned AMS Wild Apricot, now Personify, even in the crypto community. ( https://medium.com/@rateico_32282/how-much-would-you-sell-your-homeland-the-secret-of-ethereums-success-748f0b763c62 )

 

If you can’t access the code, self host if you want, and export ALL of your data when you want, well, why not? Why does anyone in the NonProfit / NPO / NGO / Association Management space tolerate that in 2018? It is 2018, right?

If you signed up with a company where the deal was “too good to be true”…. um…. ya, think that one through again. They have to pay people, so they are either funded by someone, or they are selling your data.

YOU are part of the problem with InfoWars and Propaganda in the US. (is that too blunt? Nope.) For example: Wild Apricot / Personify.

Wild Apricot, Russia, AMS
25% of American Constituents in Russian Backed Wild Apricot

Ethereum is at least open source ( https://github.com/ethereum ) so you can view the code. With the exception of Tendenci ( https://www.tendenci.com ) and CiviCrm, ( https://civicrm.org/ ) most AMS vendors aren’t open,  not even ones created and financed by Russia and the Chief Apricot ( https://www.linkedin.com/in/chiefapricot/ ), who is also coincidentally the father of Vitalik himself ( https://twitter.com/VitalikButerin ).

On the plus side, after years of joking about it, for once we can legitimately blame Canada and their dual-citizenships.

We’re building a wall with Mexico and allowing Russian company’s interests to mine Uranium ( https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2017/1114/What-s-the-real-story-behind-Hillary-Clinton-Russia-and-uranium ) in the US. And Russian programmers to control 25% (according to the Personify web site https://personifycorp.com/ ) of US Constituents like Washington’s League of Women Voters ( https://leagueofwomenvotersofwashington.wildapricot.org/issues ) .

And then we act surprised that Russia is meddling in our elections and knows know how to target voters.. Baroo?

These are strange times. But yes, Canada? I’m looking at YOU!

And as a reminder, as if y’all needed me to state this again, but we strongly encourage you to use an OPEN SOURCE solution with transparency. If it’s Tendenci, WordPress, Drupal, CiviCRM, Joomla,

Just please stand up for what’s right.

Demand access and transparency.

Tendenci is a movement.

Tendenci is a community committed to open association technology.

Global. Multilingual. Collaborative. Positive. Respectful of your privacy and functional at a level as you would expect from a product approaching 20 years old.

FCC Repeals Net Neutrality because … WHY?

The FCC has repealed Net Neutrality as pressured by Congress and the President. Just … wtf?

HOWEVER: Note: Congress just passed a tax law nobody really understands. And economists have no idea if the projections are in any way realistic. They literally do NOT know what will happen, just that they lowered corporate taxes and eliminated the health care mandate. I’ll get back to that topic.

To distract all of us, in obvious post-dystopian style, they repealed NetNeutrality. Hence everyone who cares about equality and has a voice is now distracting everyone from the tax bill which reduces equality further. #awesome

From the NYT on the repeal of Net Neutrality by Ajit Pai of the FCC

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/14/technology/net-neutrality-repeal-vote.html

Here are …. well at least as many as they can figure out, the congressmen who voted for it and just how much money they were paid to do it.

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/7xwknx/republican-members-of-congress-fcc-letter

Net Neutrality works like this.

You go to the gym. You pay for a gym membership. The gym is a business and it’s gotta pay the bills. I’m cool with that. When you lift, there is etiquette..  but basically we all share the same machines or weights. Sometimes we have to wait in the same line if the gym is busy. That’s life.

Now…. imagine going to the gym in an alternate universe without Net Neutrality. It works like this:

Or…. if you are poor. Or small. Or different. You can only use the first three machines and you have to wait to do it.

If you are middle class, you get to use the first 6 machines but you also have to wait,just not as long.

BONUS ROUND! – If you are in Government or RICH you get to use all 500 machines at the gym with no wait.

The site https://www.battleforthenet.com/ describes it like this;

Cable companies are famous for high prices and poor service. Several rank as the most hated companies in America. Now, they’re lobbying the FCC and Congress to end net neutrality. Why? It’s simple: if they win the power to slow sites down, they can bully any site into paying millions to escape the “slow lane.” This would amount to a tax on every sector of the American economy. Every site would cost more, since they’d all have to pay big cable. Worse, it would extinguish the startups and independent voices who can’t afford to pay. If we lose net neutrality, the Internet will never be the same.

They literally just broke the Internet. #WTF

I’m speechless. Excuse the pun. But feel free to google a few terms.

And the tech sector should realize it’s own values: if Apple doesn’t think it’s worth a few Billion Dollars of repatriated earnings to defend Net Neutrality and support the EFF, if Zuckerberg doesn’t buy his own congressmen, if Microsoft doesn’t use it’s leverage to defend free speech, then Silicon Valley needs to accept that WE ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

one vote by one vote

CNN is running an article titled “A millennial says: Stop trashing us!

The article begins with the usual but then arrives at the mind blowing statement “we are the ultimate underdogs”… barooo?…. underdogs? ….. why yes let’s get this pity party started…. ok…. here we go:

As a generation, millennials have been called coddled, under-qualified, whiny and, recently, “screwed.” Apparently, both our egos and our grade point averages are wildly inflated.
Thanks for your input, everyone. I’m listening. But there’s a time for taking constructive criticism, and there’s a time to take it personally.

What better time than now? It’s fight or flight at this point. Some cards are stacked against us (a rough job market and poor economy, for starters), and now we can add to that a serious PR problem.

We have never looked worse.

Because of all that, we’ve got a chip on our shoulders. We’re frustrated, angry, tired and scared “” the ultimate underdogs.

The “ultimate underdogs”? As one of you might text me, WTF? If the Millennials, a generation estimated to be between 70 million to sometimes upwards of 120 million in the United States alone, are “underdogs” then it is because you, as a generation, are CHOOSING TO DO SO.

With all due respect madams and monsieurs, WAKE THE HELL UP. You have power. You have a LOT of power. Almost twice as much power as my generation based on size alone. I’m speechless. Underdogs?

Just wow. But since the stereotype is that Millennials never listen to anyone, especially some jaded generation X-er like me, let me give you your words in your words:

A millennial’s plea: We must vote

We didn’t understand red states or blue states. We understood that these are the United States.

And as a generation, we millennials must be united in the fact that the collective power we possess will allow us to do great things for this country that we call our home. We must show this power en masse on Election Day, one vote by one vote.

I’ll quote that article again but first a brief visual to show how the country really voted. It isn’t high contrast state by state divisions. The votes within the states are more nuanced than people realize.

From these cartograms in the paper “Maps of the 2008 US presidential election results” by 2008 M. E. J. Newman you can see how the population really voted. What would that look like if the Millennials voted?

And now back to the CNN article:

Both campaigns have simplified their efforts to focus on 10 swing states. They will spend millions of dollars over the next few weeks targeting those states, as well as undecided voters. But some of us are not included in that game plan. Some of us were left off the roll call. You know what means?

That means, like Muhammad Ali said, we have the chance to shake up the world. Show them who is the greatest. Not just of this time, but of all time. Show up in numbers that no one can believe. Early votes. Absentee ballots. Election Day decisions. However you have to pull that lever, pull it. For this is our future.

So watcha gonna do y’all? Pity party or go vote? You’re not the underdogs. You’re the big dogs. You just haven’t quite realized it yet. I hope you do soon. You, our Millennial generation, really are the future of our country. Country, not political party, not color coded maps, but the future of the United States of America. We need you. (source)

Texans can find their voting locations here. Google yours if you are out of state. It is also interesting to note that Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin all voted Democratic in 2008 while the state overwhelmingly voted Republican. Maybe our votes don’t count?

Irish too often spurn Diaspora advice?

Via Irish Central

“I think Irish people, generally, are a little wary of emigrants. Emigration is so much part of Irish life. We speak very well of people who go away and do well. But we get a little concerned when those people come back and tell us how things could have been done better. As Richard Harris tells Tom Berenger in [the film version of] The Field, “Go home, Yank. Go home.“ There’s an element of that in Irish life. And I think official Ireland ““ and by that I mean not the agencies but Dublin, be it government or public sector ““ is struggling to figure out the next leg of this Diaspora thing.”

He stated there was a European bias in Ireland that militated against the American Irish contribution.

“Official Ireland is very European focused. They’ve been working as part of the ECC and then the EU since 1973. This may sound politically incorrect, but the vast majority of the Irish Diaspora that can have any influence on the situation is in the United States, and to some degree in the U.K. So you’ve got a bit of a challenge in that you’ve got public sector, European-focused official Ireland trying to figure out what to do about private sector, U.S.-based ex-pats, and official Ireland seems to me a lot more focused on how to control this as distinct from how to enable it.”

Speaking about the Diaspora initiative launched by the government he stated “I think the Irish agencies abroad have for many years been very effective at leveraging the Diaspora ““ long before we even called it the Diaspora. They’ve always been thoughtful, smart and creative at figuring out ways that they can use relationships to help Irish companies, to find investment for Ireland.

between Israelis and Palestinians

“The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” the statement read. “We continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue and others in a way that is just and fair, and respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

source

thinking men think, and therefore change their minds

Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal. – Robert Heinlein

Leadership, I frequently say, is about “making good decisions with limited information.” Not perfect decisions. But good decisions. You don’t have a choice in business: move quickly or die. And unlike CEOs on Wall Street, the small business CEO’s worst nightmare is to fail their employees and customers. I am not afraid of risk or failure as an individual, but I do have obligations and those must be met and that requires leadership during trying times.

There are three major factors that make leadership decisions difficult:

  1. Speed – you must make a decision and you never have enough information.
  2. Pressure – the pressure to make the right call, and make it now, is intense.
  3. Commitment – even if only 51% sure about a decision, commit 100%.

I suspect politicians face the same deadly triad when making decisions. And worse than letting their employees and family down, politicians risk being pilloried in the media, dragged through the hot coals of a PR disaster, and destroying the empire! Why anyone would want to be a politician is beyond me.

So it was with some relief this weekend when I read the letter to the editor in the Houston Chronicle by Charles Hamilton of Spring Texas titled “Thinking Men Think.” It was like someone with common sense finally stepped into the room. From his letter:

Regarding “Let’s give Romney time to sort out his positions” (Page B9, Friday), Gail Collins inaccurately notes a presidential nonqualifying trait in Mitt Romney‘s “not giving a fig” about undocumented workers clipping his lawn.

and

Non-objectively, she does not compare Obama’s many flip-flops (e.g., closing Guantanamo) with Mitt’s (e.g., abortion)…

Thinking men think. Man’s judgment of other men’s motives is often flawed.

Politician’s disparage each other to get elected because we the electorate remember bad stuff better. Witness the oft quoted and paraphrased “you get 10 bad reviews from an angry customer versus 1 recommendation from a happy customer.” Witness “if it bleeds it leads.” Witness Perez Hilton, the Drudge Report, etc… WE have trained the media and the politicians to feed us disparaging remarks about each other.

And the worst of those sound-byte-disparagements is she “s/he flip-floped on issue _____.” What does that mean in poli-parlance? It is slang for “the politician changed their position” with an implied “you can’t trust them.”

The White Houseflip-flopping,” by the media, is consistent with the actions of a rational human being. Feel free to ponder “what” changed. Be it pandering to the left or right. But SOMETHING changed in the politician’s world-view to have them logically take a new position.  The broad definition of flip-flopper can be painted on President Obama as well as on candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. And how does this help move us forward? It doesn’t.

Look, we all benefit from a healthy Presidential Election. Let’s talk about the issues in the primary and in the general election. But if you hear someone say “he is a flip-flopper” the person who is speaking is not thinking with acuity. Don’t we deserve a leader smart enough to move with the cheese?

As Charles’ said – “Thinking men think.” And thank God for that!

(this is a cross post – to comment please comment on the chron.com version here.)

1965

“the most important piece of legislation that no one’s ever heard of”

– Simon Rosenberg (source)

The Obama Doctrine – the Monroe Doctrine on Steroids

As I understand it, the Obama Doctrine is (these are my words):

We (America) can preemptively execute people we deem to be a national security threat even in allied countries without notice. In doing so, we accept collateral deaths of unknown people will occur. This targeted execution is done without any form of process beyond Executive approval. And we may or may not notify our ally or Congress before the strike.

Not exactly the Monroe Doctrine. In fact it is an extension of US Foreign Policy far beyond any previous policies. Yet the editors on Wikipedia describe the Obama Doctrine as: (emphasis added by me)

Generally speaking, it is accepted that a central part of such a doctrine would emphasize negotiation and collaboration rather than confrontation and unilateralism in international affairs. This policy has been praised by some as a welcome change from the more interventionist Bush Doctrine.[1] Critics, such as former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, have described it as overly idealistic and naïve, promoting appeasement of the USA’s enemies.[2] Others have drawn attention to its radical departure from not only the policies of the Bush administration but many former presidents as well.[2][3] Meanwhile, additional political pundits have disagreed entirely, accusing Obama of continuing the policies of his predecessor.

Blowing people up from space can hardly be called “emphasizing negotiation and collaboration rather than confrontation.” To be blunt, the Wikipedia entry on the Obama Doctrine is WILDLY wrong. The Wikipedia text above does not in any way match up reality as I see it except for the “continuing the policies of his predecessor” part. Why? Perhaps the aggressive narrative doesn’t work well for the 2012 election. It turns out our current President CAN answer the “call at 3 AM” and he answers it more aggressively than any previous President.

I have made no secret that I have called President Obama “Bush 44” since he was elected. You keep the same economic and military advisors as your predecessor, you repeat the same bailouts, and (SURPRISE!) your politics and results are identical. There has been no “change.” Which makes the screaming critics look silly. The only thing you could possibly say changed is Obamacare (as the critics call it) which is watered down to be similar to the policy Texas has for Auto Insurance. (Wow, radical departure. Hold me back. I can’t handle the change. And can someone give me $500 for the last uninsured guy who hit one of our family cars please!? I guess he didn’t read the law.)

Don’t get me wrong. As a very proud American I am glad the evil one is dead. I know I am supposed to forgive and everything, but I’m gonna have to let God handle that one as I am incapable of forgiving such a weak and cowardly monster. And I never heard of the guy we got in Yemen, but I have to assume he deserved it based on media reports. (Disclaimer: I also believed and supported the invasion of Iraq at the time. The turning point for me was when General Powell addressed the UN because I trust Powell. Heck, I still wish he would run for President.)

What started this post on the aggressiveness of the Obama Doctrine? On August 29th I posted a link to FB regarding criticism of President Obama that I believe wasn’t Republican or Fox or Tea Party punditry speak but actual legitimate intelligent criticism. My original text associated with the link I posted was:

Many times my conservative friends criticize our President with punditry-speak & incorrect-facts… BUT, here is some legitimate FACT based criticism of true problems with our current President.

In response, one of the comments I received on Facebook from X (you can identify yourself in the comments and I’ll update this post but I did not want to assume it was OK to blog your identity) begins with

Intellectuals have great difficulty understanding what makes our political/economic system work because very little of what makes it tick is cerebral in nature. Obama is a failure as president for reasons that can’t be explained by tearing apart public policy matters and breaking down statistical data. He will not succeed at rebooting our economy because of what’s in his heart – he does not believe our economic system has virtue. He sees capitalism as unfair, harsh and too random in its distribution of power. Further, he has contempt for the kind of people that make our economic system successful (unless they choose to appear to subjugate themselves to him, as Warren Buffet and Jeffrey Imelt have.) Obama not only fails to inspire our captains of industry and aspiring entrepreneurs, he makes them feel fearful and discouraged.

Lots of philosophy there, but perhaps not framed in a historical context or anything close to quantitative. My response (with a few corrections in wording and links added) follows:

I would say at this point my conservative friends agree on that point. What is also interesting is that my progressive friends are also hugely disappointed because they did have “hope.” And that hope has not been realized.

U.S. President James Monroe
U.S. President James Monroe

I am greatly bothered by the “noise” that prevents looking at larger policy issues with objective eyes. Example: A preemptive military strike in an allied country (without telling them) on the other side of the globe to kill Bin Laden is great news in the US. But wait, you can’t call that part of the:

  1. the Monroe Doctrine (keep the Europeans out), or
  2. the Roosevelt Corollary (we can intervene in Latin America if their checks bounce) or
  3. the Bush Doctrine (preventive war is OK if we think you are a threat like Iraq).

No, this is a new policy that is called “the Obama Doctrine” by the media. And like Roosevelt and Bush, Obama has extended the original Monroe Doctrine on our use of military force.

The challenge is we don’t have an explicitly written “Obama Doctrine.” But from a military perspective, our current President is in fact the most aggressive Presidents we have ever had. Thus when the right calls him weak, when his actions speak otherwise, we prevent educated dialog about the limits of the military aspects of the Obama Doctrine.

Can we drone strike in France a mosque if we know the leader has anti-US beliefs? Technically within the Bush Doctrine that would be allowed, but it would be considered war on France, a nation-state. Not good. Yet, it would fit within the Obama Doctrine from a military perspective based on our relationship and actions in Pakistan.

I’m simply pointing out that the “Obama is weak” narrative pushed by the right is designed for an election campaign. Yet it does NOT agree with the facts and prevents educated dialog about our current foreign policy.

While working on this post I saw this article today by Cheney saying the President should apologize to Bush. In the quote Cheney is referring to the drone strike in Yemen to kill an American Terrorist living abroad. From the CNN article:

“I think it was a very good strike. I think it was justified,” Cheney told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” But “I’m waiting for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago when they criticized us for ‘overreacting’ to the events of 9/11.”

The Obama administration has “clearly … moved in the direction of taking robust action when they feel it is justified,” Cheney said.

OK people, if Dick Cheney is describing President Obama’s administration and policies as “taking robust action” then everyone needs to pause and think about it.

In summary, a few key points to emphasize:

  1. The Obama Doctrine is MORE aggressive than the Bush Doctrine. Agree or don’t agree, but let’s at least talk about the Obama Doctrine or ask for a written copy before we go and launch drones over Sweden.
  2. The expansion of the Bush Doctrine by the Obama Doctrine suggests to me that in this case the former VP is right. If President Obama is doing not only the same thing but more, he probably should apologize at least privately to W.
  3. Republican pundits need to stop the “weak” narrative to describe the current President if they want to have any hope of having a chance in the next election. You can’t use that paint-brush successfully on the guy who killed the devil.
My 2 cents as an independent. Anyone want to start a third party for us?
(Note: this is a cross post. To comment please visit the post on Chron.com.)

until that day comes, there will be gridlock and dysfunction

“In their new book, “Millennial Momentum,” they explain how the millennial generation (born from 1982 to 2003) will remake America in education, politics, entertainment and every other conceivable endeavor. There will be more compromise, they predict, and more tolerance for different points of view…. But until that day comes, there will be gridlock and dysfunction. And our government will stay broken” – CNN

#agree

perceived american narrative on islam

Wow, I think I’m guilty of this. And I’m not sure I can change either.

The Capital at NightI read “Why Muslims are still mad at America” by Steven Kull on CNN and I can’t say that I think the Muslim perception of the American narrative is incorrect. Speaking for myself, I do view freedom and civil rights for women as an evolution past Sharia law. I believe our Democratic-Republic is a more evolved form of government than a theocracy. Of course the non-sequitur in my thought pattern is that Sharia is opposed to rights for women, which I realize does not follow. Non-sequitur or not, that is how my brain processed it. And that is how governments like the Taliban implemented it.

So why are Muslims still mad at America? From Dr. Kull’s article on CNN:

“…there is one thing that is the most fundamental: their (Muslim) perception that America seeks to undermine Islam – a perception held by overwhelming majorities.”

and

“According to this American narrative – which Muslims perceive as arrogant and dismissive – human society naturally and inevitable evolves through the stages that the West has gone through.  As in the Renaissance, religion is largely banished from the public sphere, thus allowing pluralism and diversity of beliefs in the private sphere while maintaining a secular public sphere.  This leads naturally to the elevation of individual freedoms and the emergence of democratic principles that make the will of the people the basis of the authority of law rather than revealed religious principles.

From this assumed American perspective, Muslim society is seen as simply behind the West in this evolutionary process.  Retrogressive forces in Muslim society are seen as clinging to Islamic traditions that make Sharia the basis of law, not the will of the people, and inevitably keep women in their traditional oppressed roles and minority religions discriminated against.”

I would be interested to know how many Americans, right or wrong, actually do view Islamic governments as earlier than Western governments in the course of natural evolution. I had never thought about it in exactly that way, but it makes sense. I’m guilty of thinking that. And I don’t think it was Islam where the west first threw off the shackles. I suspect we can credit Henry VIII, Martin Luther and Ann Boleyn for ending the rule-by-fiat from Rome for that part of the West’s evolution in political thought.

There was an article a while back I read that opined that Muslims view Judaism as “Religion 1.0”, Christianity as “Religion 2.0” and Islam as “Religion 3.0.” Thus the later releases should be “superior” to those prior. And if Islam is indeed superior to Christianity or Judaism in the eyes of Muslims, then why do the people who subscribe to these 1.0 or 2.0 religions prosper more than the new-fangled 3.0 release? (I tried to find the article but instead found message-boards full of crazy posts, so I won’t link them.)

I can see how the Muslim perception of the American narrative could be particularly galling from that world view. Although the irony of a perception of American arrogance based on an arrogant assumption of religious superiority means both narratives aren’t fact based. Narratives are stories. In this case it’s a perception of a story you think the other person thinks without actually asking them. This thought pattern is best expressed by a quote from Vizzini in the Princess Bride:

“But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.” (and he goes on and on…)

You think that I think that you think that I think that you…etc… You can’t resolve that or even have a reasonable conversation about something that amorphous. After Vizzini drops dead from switching and then drinking from the Goblet that was in front of our hero, the Man in Black explains to Buttercup how he did it:

“They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.”

In closing, why can’t we all just get along man? And it seems to me keeping religion out of politics is the first step and was a wise decision. If any of the religions are more or less “evolved” is not really the point. It is that this quote from James Madison:

“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.”

Which became the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

To me at least, separation of church and state is a more evolved political structure. And that, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the superiority or inferiority of any particular religion. It simply speaks of a political system designed to reduce people killing each other in the name of God.

(This is a cross post. if you wish to comment please comment on the chron post here.)

be careful what you wish for – super-pacs

“Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow may be a running gag on “The Colbert Report“ on Comedy Central, but it is spending money as it sees fit, with little in the way of disclosure, just like its non-comedic brethren.

Comedians, including Mr. Colbert in the last election, have undertaken faux candidacies. But his Super PAC riff is a real-world exercise, engaging in a kind of modeling by just doing what Super PACs do.

And he has come under some real-world criticism for inserting himself in the political process so directly. Mr. Colbert, who lampoons conservative talk show hosts by pretending to be one, is now making fun of Super PACs by actually forming one. His committee spent money on advertising in Iowa during the run-up to the Ames straw poll, which took place Aug. 13. It’s as though Jonathan Swift took his satirical suggestion about Irish babies one step further and actually cooked one.”

CNN

why did Ashley pick J.P. over Ben

“Listen I throw these ideas out there, because I recognize the country I live in. Living in Michigan now, the main topic of conversation this week was the last episode of the ‘Bachelorette,’ and why did Ashley pick J.P. over Ben. That’s the country I live in, and they all vote. And I’d like to communicate with them,” the “Bowling for Columbine” writer/director said.

CNN

Regardless of your politics, that quote stings a little.

deceiving many of our constituents

“What is really amazing is that some (Senate) members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in this body with its present representation ““ and that is foolish,” McCain said.

“That is worse than foolish,” he continued. “That is deceiving many of our constituents.”

“To hold out and say we won’t agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, it’s unfair, it’s bizarre,” McCain added. “And maybe some people who have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that. Others know better.”

– John McCain (source)

a politician that did the right thing for the country

I recently did a blog post on business taxes going up in Texas. And a follow up post on entrepreneurship and suicide. And as it so happens one of the five people who read this blog brought it up after a tennis match the other day. The conversation went something like this:

CitizenX: So I read your blog post on Rick Perry’s tax increases the other day.

Me: Yup. It’s easy to find being in the top five listings if you google “rick perry tax.” But yes, please go ahead.

CitizenX: (Internally CitizenX is thinking “dude, you are such a nerd” but he doesn’t say that. Instead he says:) I haven’t checked that Ed. But what I was going to say is that Rick Perry didn’t have a choice. He had to work with what he had because you can’t have an income tax in Texas.

Me: Well, you can have an income tax. You just have to get it passed as a constitutional amendment. But you CAN have an income tax.

CitizenX: Yes, but that would never pass.

Me: Not if everyone screams that a fair tax is the end of the world. But wouldn’t it be better to have a referendum and pass a fair income tax rather than double tax small businesses arbitrarily. We experienced a 500% tax increase for our business (we went from $800/yr to $5,000/yr since the change my CPA tells me.) and then go on TV and say you are “reducing business taxes“ referring to the tax law he passed, right?

CitizenX:  The Margin Tax is flawed, but it was his only option to work with it.

Me: But it isn’t a “Margin” tax. Or a “Franchise” tax. It is an the expanding Texas Income Tax with bureaucrats defining your margin.

CitizenX: What do you mean?

Me: Well the tax was originally a two page document that left everything vague. Remember how the law firms said they were “retailers” and that partner salaries were “cost of goods sold?” Well that has had five years to work through the courts and the taxing authorities. And they have issued a bunch of rules about what is and what is not a retail business and what is or is not a valid retail store.  And what is and what is not an expense. So the legislature and our Republican Governor passed a vague law. And now our unelected bureaucrats are defining what it is an expense and what is profit. What do these people know about business? And that costs jobs. I mean, I can afford the tax, it is the principle of the thing that gets me.

CitizenX: But the Governor didn’t have a choice!

Me: What do you mean?

CitizenX: Well if he pushed for an income tax, it might not go through, and even if a Texas income tax did push through, he wouldn’t get reelected.

Me: So.

CitizenX: He is a politician. He wants to be reelected.

Me: But he had a choice. Are you saying Rick Perry is putting his personal interests, as a servant of the great State of Texas, above the best interests of the great State of Texas? Cause that seems wrong to me. As an Aggie, that is just wrong.

CitizenX: (pauses….)

Me: As I see it, Rick Perry has the option of passing a fair tax. That tax would be good for Texas and be fair to businesses. It would eliminate uncertainty. It would prevent taxing authorities from influencing how businesses form and where they locate. And it would help balance the budget and prevent our education system from going down further. That would be in the best interest of Texas.

The ONLY cost I hear is “the governor might not get reelected.” The ONLY cost of doing the right thing is risking reelection. I have voted for him in several elections. I would vote for someone who passionately and honestly fought for Texas. I’m not seeing that.

CitizenX: (shakes head). (apparently I can be black and white on some issues)

Me: I miss our statesmen and our last two-term Independent President George Washington who put the country before themselves. Remember George Bush 41? He promised no new taxes. He became President. Our President studied the facts. He did the best thing for the country and did raise some taxes and enacted spending cuts. Yes, he did lose reelection. But the budget did balance under Clinton based on what 41 did. And I respect the hell out of George Bush because he is a true patriot who put the country above a speech and lobbyists and pollsters.

CitizenX: You’re getting kind of worked up.

Me: Sorry. Frustration does that. I’ll shut up now. … Actually I’ll go back to work. Create value for our clients. Pay our employees. And generate payroll and income tax for Texas because that is what I do.

As I said when I blogged it the first time “It is not tax that breaks a business man’s soul. It is inequities.”

This old news clip explains the impact probably better than I can. It is a bit dated, but perhaps the video will help.

suspend

“If you suspend all the rules, you don’t need a rulebook,” Eiland said later. – Texas