Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Assault on Reason - An open letter to Al Gore

I recently read Al Gore's, The Assault on Reason. If you have visited our blog before, you know me to be a conservative, so you may be asking why I would read Al's book. The answer is that I do take information from a wide range of sources in order to remain, well, the Lucid Guy.

Mr. Gore, I found your book to be surprisingly informative and revealing. To grossly over-simplify your premise, you make the point that the American people are no longer engaged with our government due to the lack of a two-way conversation, as was common place in our early history. You make the point that when the printed word was the main source of information and communication, that the American people had an opportunity to engage in a debate and to provide feedback through the written word. I agree that today the majority of Americans are not engaged and do not take the active role in our government the way our founding fathers intended. The checks and balances simply do not work if the American people are not heard - whether they choose to be silent or are forced into silence.

Leaping forward you make the point that the advent of radio and television destroyed the public's access to the debate and that they are only a one-way medium.
Our Founders could never have imagined that the marketplace of ideas would change so profoundly that the consent of the governed - the very source of legitimate political power in a democracy - could become a commodity.

You point out that individuals could receive information from radio and television but could not send. How is this different from the late 1700's when and the printed word when the reader was consuming the information days, weeks, and months after the printing and had no way to submit feedback? Is radio and television not the same interaction only with more immediate result? I am a bit confused about the "open exchange of ideas" theory with newspapers being distributed on horseback.

You go on to explain how the Bush administration has used television to mislead the American people on many issues and that television ads played a part in your lost election in 2000. The mainstream media has a well documented bias against the Bush administration, so I don't believe Bush had any sort of special access to the American people that was not constantly challenged and argued openly. I think I remember one or two ads from you during that time period as well. Why do you believe the Bush ads were more effective than yours? Television is not the problem. If anything it greatly accelerates the communication process.

You do make excellent observations concerning the lower literacy rates in America and how that is having a significant impact on how well the citizenry is connected - or not connected. One good example is on page 256 where you point out that 72.8 percent of college students in a 2005 study could not correctly identify the source of the idea of 'a wall of separation' between church and state. Of course you make this point right after a statement concerning the Declaration of Independence, which rather insinuates that the Declaration is the source of the separation statement. Actually the wall of separation idea can not be found in the Declaration of Independence or in the Constitution. It comes from a political statement that Thomas Jefferson made to a Baptist organization, which has been misused as Constitutional law. You failed to educate your readers on the origins of the separation idea so I thought I would help out.

I agree with your assertion that the Internet represents an opportunity for the American people to once again become more engaged and better informed. Hopefully people will choose to use the power of the Internet to spread truth and enlightenment.

You should notice that I have mostly ignored your constant obsession with bashing the Bush administration. Is this an example of the free exchange of ideas available through the printed word? You can not seriously make these statements about the Bush administration and pretend you were never involved in the executive branch participating in decisions that have led our country to where we are today. Mr. Gore, "MoveOn".

I believe the American people need to become much more involved in and much better informed on our government. Only with a connected citizenry will we be able to survive as a nation - so we agree on that point. However, radio and television are not the destroyers of civilization that you describe. It is the self-serving attitude of the entitlement generation that is killing our country.

I borrowed The Assault on Reason from a friend, to whom I loaned Horner's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming. I think she will enjoy extending her sources of information as I have with your book. Don't you?

##That's my opinion##

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Real ID Card

Have you heard of the Real ID card proposed in the Real ID Act? The act was actually passed in 2005 and is now receiving lots of attention. What I don't understand is why anyone would oppose a law that would require all Americans to have a national ID card. As the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff put it, the only people that will be disappointed by this new ID card will be terrorists, illegal immigrants, and con-men.

There are a few people not in agreement with this plan that I would like to point out. First is Barry Steinhardt, an ACLU attorney who said,

What the Department of Homeland Security has done is to kick the can down the road to the next administration, and probably not just to the next administration, but conceivably two to three administrations from now.

In my opinion it is Mr. Steinhardt that should be kicked - right out of the country, which he obviously hates. Why is it so difficult to understand that after 9/11 we live in a different world and it will never - never the the way it was before. Maybe we were living in a fantasy of false security before 9/11, but now we have been awakened and we may never sleep soundly again. Is the requirement of a national ID card such a burden to pay to be a little bit more secure? Who exactly is it that Mr. Steinhardt is fighting for in his opposition to the Real ID Act?

Next is Senator Patrick Leahy, an elected public servant. He believes the Real ID Act should be repealed in favor of a more flexible and mutually beneficial approach. Mutually beneficial to who? Illegal aliens? How can a US Senator not be in favor of a law that requires all US citizens to be able to identify themselves? Could it be because he wants illegal aliens to be able to vote and keep the social program and income redistribution masters (the Democrats) in power?

Another attorney for the ACLU, Tim Sparapani, said that since the states would be required to set up their own security policies, that everyone would be at risk. He says that one weak State would put everyone's private information in jeapordy of being stolen. Hey Timmy, the increased security of the Real ID would far out weigh your weak data privacy argument.

On the topic of cost, the estimates range from a high of $23 billion to a low of $3.9 billion. Really, $3.9 billion? Okay, there are roughly 300 million Americans, so a database that would create and maintain say double that number, 600 million, is just not that hard of a nut to crack. I realize that there would be several thousand users of this system and that each state would need access in all of the drivers license offices. Also, there would be several government agencies that would need access for analysis and spying. I think that I could ask the government for half of the $3.9 billion, start a company, supply the Real ID solution, and that a tinnie-weenie profit for myself.

The bottom line is that we keep finding all these lame reasons for not protecting our country. If we don't secure our nation, there will soon be nothing left to secure.

##That's my opinion##