Secret Ballots Anyone?

I recently heard a story on NPR (well, technically I heard it on MPR) about registered Democrats receiving a Republican Part mailing. I realize that political parties engage in all sorts of election chicanery, but this one really outraged me… and not for the reason you think.

Don’t these people complaining know that since 1892, every Presidential election in every state has been done by secret ballot? Whether they are registered as a Democrat or Republican (which I fail to see the need for anyway) is completely irrelevant. Do people believe that if the Republican party were able to switch their registration (which they’re not and which didn’t happen in this case) that they couldn’t vote for Obama?

Facebook Blog Importing

I was rather excited to see that Facebook has a (new?) feature where it can import blog posts (from an RSS feed) as notes. However, it’s been nothing but a pain so far. Somewhere between WordPress’s edit box and Facebook, HTML special characters (e.g. ampersands and ASCII quotes) are being double-escaped. It seems to refuse to import stories at random. Perhaps there is some hidden maximum number in a given period of time?

Also, and this is a bit scary, deleting a note and re-importing it seems to keep comments. Does that mean they’re keeping that data forever even if you hit delete, or is this a symptom of distributed caches not being cleared and resulting in data re-population?

Apparently this post was the last straw. When trying to view my notes, I received a warning that I had written too many and was blocked from writing any more. Given that I hadn’t managed to get any new notes to display on Facebook, this must have been for trying the “Update Now” functionality too much. Annoyingly, the FAQ page linked to from the block message said before I was blocked, I was warned. Of course, this was not the case.


Well, it has finally happened. I’ve created a Facebook account. As you can see, this is my first blog post in a couple of years. My plan is to pick up my picture scanning project and try to get everything imported into Facebook. We’ll see how that goes.

Re: Bringing the War to America

Curt Wikstrom, who is my boss, posted a recent article entitled “Bringing the War to America“. In general, he and I agree on a number of things, and disagree on a number of things. My comments here are mine personally and are not to be construed as being related to my employment, and have not been vetted or approved by Curt or Wikstrom Telephone Company, Inc. (my employer).
Text marked in emphasis (like this sentence), which typically means it will display in italics, is quoted from the article:

Home valuations have almost doubled in the past several years. Unemployment is low. Oil prices are down. And the federal deficit is coming down. We have come out of the recession that we were in about six years ago. Our leaders’ strategy was to grow ourselves out of the recession, rather than hunker down, raise taxes, and cut services. So far that strategy has worked.

I agree with the idea of keeping taxes low. I prefer that the government keep taxes as low as possible. The federal government is currently involved in more than is necessary to achieve its Constitutionally stated goals.

Do we seriously want to change this? Do we want higher taxes, lower business profits, lower pension accounts, higher unemployment, higher energy costs? That is what the Democrats promise us. There is absolutely no question that their first order of business will be to increase taxes. They promise that almost daily.

Unfortunately, there are bigger issues right now than money. The current government is running secret prisons, shipping people to other countries to be tortured, jailing people without charge (see also: a legal brief, Rasul v. Bush) and (supposedly, until they were rebuffed by the Supreme Court) without recourse to the writ of habeas corpus. Many people say, “Well, it’s okay because they’re terrorists.” The problem is: The Executive Branch of the government decided they were terrorists, not a court with defined rules of procedure and evidence which are designed to protect the rights of the innocent. If these people are guilty, then why not charge them and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they’re guilty? We do this every day for things as small as traffic offenses. Surely we should do it when a person’s life is at stake. Unfortunately, our elected representatives disagree.

Because of these issues that I feel are more important, I’ll be voting Democrat this election. I’d be willing to give up economic welfare (and I’m not claiming that voting for Democrats will have this result) to ensure that my rights as a human being are not being usurped by the government. We can recover from a depression. It’s much harder to recover the loss of civil rights.

However, this highlights a fundamental problem. Our voting system is so broken that I’m forced to choose between civil rights and fiscal responsibility (assuming the Democrats are not, which I don’t really care to take a stance on in this article, as it’ll cloud my points). This is the biggest problem of all. If we had, for example, instant runoff voting, I could vote for a candidate with views more like my own. I could then choose the Democratic candidate as my second, third, fourth, or whatever choice, to ensure that my prioritization of civil rights over finances would be heard.

The biggest mistake that will be made in this generation is to cut and run in the Middle East.

Anyone with any knowledge of the situation and a reasonable clue will agree that we shouldn’t “cut and run”. The issue here is that our engagement in Iraq has no direct rational link to stopping terrorism (since the “weapons of mass destruction” didn’t turn up), and by becoming bogged down in what’s about to become a civil war, we’re giving terrorists political ammunition (which they use to recruit new attackers) and paying a huge cost (in dollars and in lives) for very little future gain. Additionally, having our troops in Iraq has meant we’re spread too thin in Afghanistan, a country we know for a fact harbored terrorists. We don’t need to cut and run, but we need to admit that there are problems and work on a solution. The Democrats are not at all unanimous about a desire to “cut and run”. Voting for them doesn’t mean voting to “cut and run”.