I should have posted some of these promises sooner, but having watched Malala w/ John Stewart, the first statement in this post is:
There shall be no more illegal assassinations. Let me be perfectly clear (copyright RMN): every single death caused via a remotely piloted armed vehicle aka “drone” is an illegal act. If there should be a declared state of war, any means of killing combatants is allowed. But we have no declared war and we have no army as an enemy. For that matter, much as I’m glad OBL is dead, not only was that an illegal assassination, it was a blatantly illegal entry into a sovereign nation by members of our Armed Services. This is a sad thing to say, but were I President and the Government of Pakistan requested extradition, I’d send SealTeam 6 there to face charges of illegal entry, destruction of private property, and murder. I do not want the gov’t of the USA *ever* to break laws regardless of the situation.
The second statement concerns a problem within our borders: private prisons. My pledge: these will be shut down the day I take office. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for a government to abandon its responsibility not only to the public but also to convicts. The existing private prisons operate essentially free from oversight, and validated reports of abuse (not to mention kickback deals with local govt’s/courts to keep the prisons full and profitable) abound. There’s an old saying allegedly from the criminal world, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” I’ll adapt that to the people’s side: If we can’t provide proper incarceration facilities and programs, we shouldn’t convict. I recommend reading Conover’s “Newjack” , by the way.
Some of us older folks remember when software was sold on floppies that had a block deliberately damaged. This stopped copy programs from being able to dupe the software–for about a week, after which freeware tools showed up that did bit-level copying just fine. We’re now in a worse situation, with software that just plain won’t run if it can’t connect to an internet server for authentication. This is just plain wrong, and as President, I’ll make that sort of lockdown illegal. That’s right: it will be illegal to sell software (or “license” software) which requires any sort of remote authentication to install or execute. If you buy it, you own it. You get to customize it (voiding the warantee, perhaps, but not running afoul of absurd laws), duplicate it, and use it as you please. In the same vein, I’ll leave corporations free to sell “DRM-locked” software, but make it explicitly legal for the ownder to remove and/or circumvent the DRM at will.
As a comparison, just imagine buying a print book and not being allowed to write in the margin, or tear pages out, or even read it without calling Harcourt, Random, & Gesellschaft for permission every time you pick it up.
I’ve heard all the “you’ll kill the industry” counterarguments, and they’re nonsense. You need look no further than Tor, which sells all ebooks sans DRM, or to Red Hat and Revolution Analytics, two companies getting rich selling service and support for customized open-source software (GNU-Linux and R, respectively), to see that there are perfectly good business models which have no need of software lockdown whatsoever.
Every now and then, it’s fun to grab a Nixon cliche, so, “Let me say this about that.” Here goes: killing any person of any nationality in any location, save during a declared war, is illegal. Whether it’s drones, SealTeam[pick a number] or covert agents who put plutonium in someone’s lunch, it’s just plain illegal. Of course there are various individuals and non-government organisations whose goal is terrorist or other attacks on our country, but when did we (the USA) decide it’s ok to act outside of our own set of laws and morals? Think back a bit: remember the many B-grade movies and TV shows in which the bad guys were the cops who went vigilante? The 180-degree flip on that attitude is something we all should be disgusted by. (not to mention the horror of ending sentences with a preposition ).
I’ll sign off with a little comparison. Ask anyone who lived in Southie in the 70s and 80s whether Whitey Bulger committed the equivalent of terrorist acts. He’s responsible (OK, allegedly responsible) for dozens of murders. How come nobody ever suggested a CIA or military team be deployed to kill him?
I saw a recent news story that I found interesting. I’m not going to claim that every urban school can take this approach, but I would like to emphasize two points. First, having a massive, visible security system does not necessarily make the school safer, nor does it make students feel safer. Second, encouraging kids to take part in fine arts, music, theatre, etc. is a really good thing. We tend to forget about past successes, such as chess clubs in Philadelphia and choirs in NYC and Chicago, which is a shame. (Schools should also make a commitment to inclusive phys ed / exercise programs too; I’m not proposing an either/or situation here.)
One other comment about elementary education: take a look at this xkcd . Encourage your children and your children’s teachers to be open to questions.
I’ll keep this one brief. There will be no further discussion of weapons ownership during this campaign, because it’s a topic guaranteed to be 99 & 44/100 % reality-free. So: the 2nd Amendment contains the words “…keep and bear arms..” . Not “guns,” not “pistols,” not “my personal collection.” So, unless you intend to repeal city laws against carrying switchblades, and state and federal laws against owning SAMs, land mines, and RPGs (and no, wise guy, that’s not “role-playing games”), just ST[bleep]U .
The only thing that really needs to be said, over and over again, is: It’s not what you pay in taxes, it’s what you get in services. When the Repubs say that privatized services will be more efficient and cheaper, they’re just plain lying. It’s never been true and never will be true. Centralized, truly nonprofit operations will always be more efficient, not to mention far more consistent in their application. Take a look at the quagmire of expenses and botched services provided by contractors to the Armed Services in Iraq and Afghanistan for a recent example. The Pentagon either couldn’t staff up properly or chose to hide their true expenses behind contractor fees (ignoring possible internal corruption), and the US gov’t ended up spending more than they otherwise would have and getting less for it.
Next, remember that infamous “tax and spend” epithet? Well, gosh, just what should the Feds do: tax and not spend ? Seriously? The government exists to spend money for the collective good of the nation. Take a look back: in the 50s and 60s, the personal tax brackets, not to mention the capital gains brackets, were astronomical by today’s metrics, yet somehow the USA had one of its greatest periods of economic growth across nearly all the population. The middle class basically came into being.
And finally, we need to stop viewing taxes as “taking our money.” Salaries, prices, in fact everything to do with money exchange are based on foreknowledge of tax rates. If there weren’t and Federal taxes, do you really think your employer would give you all the money at the top line of your pay stub? It’s all an accounting dance. We should, as an old friend (and naturalized citizen) once said, be proud of the amount of tax we pay because it’s an indicator of how well we are doing ourselves.
Forget all those rich folk telling us how we all can become rich and successful. It just ain’t gonna happen. It never has happened. Being rich is, for almost everyone in that category, about being in power. The latest theme from these folk is that they can spend their money on charity much better than the government can. Not only is that untrue, it’s hiding the fact that their spending can change on a whim. The charities they support are completely beholden to them, and that is just plain wrong. This country grew big and strong, and there is no excuse for sharing that amongst all of us. And, yeah, that is socialist.
So here’s the deal: remember all that stuff about immigrants, our grandparents and parents, working like crazy to make a better life for us? Well, what is the point of all that if we continue to insist that everyone work like a dog to meet some “ethic” ? You’re being presented with a false dichotomy: that either you work like a maniac or you’re a welfare queen. There is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding that doing an honest job and getting reasonable compensation is more than good enough. I’m not implying that people who wish to dedicate their lives to a job should not be allowed to do so. I’m just sayin’ (sorry) that the standard of living and levels of productivity are more than good enough to allow the majority of us to work 35-hour weeks with 6-8 weeks of vacation, not to mention a properly funded retirement.