Make the United States of America a Leader for Good Agian

To anyone who will listen:

I have a civic duty, as a civil servant, to serve the best interests of Our Country. I have chosen civil service, so that the soldiers in the field may be best equipped with the best possible technology solutions to do their jobs. I’ve passed over numerous private sector and corporate job offers, because I truly believe in my civic duty to be the absolute technology manager in the federal government and to deliver the absolute best technology to our troops. 

I am supporting men and women in the field that are in chemical warfare zones, that are tracking loose nuclear weapons, that are performing military base and weapon inspections across the globe, and that are helping to contain (minimize) major environmental threats. All of that is a civic duty that the republicans in congress do not realize is being hurt by their political games. I want and like doing my job, but I cannot continue to be a ginniepig to lose-lose budget battles in the house of respresentatives. 

I have already sustained 3 years of no pay increases, no cost-of-living increases, no bonuses for successful work; but that has all been okay because I know that the field agents and soliders are better off with me on the job than if I was not there to support their technology needs. I have worked nights and non-duty hours to obtain my Masters degree in Applied Information Technology, so that I may be better equipped to serve our country and provide better support to those that matter most: Our Troops. But I am now at a critical impasse in my personal life where I must decide if country or family matter most. I can no longer rely on a pay-check from the federal government for the hard work that is given; and this is a decision that no civil servant, dedicated to a life of serving the American public, should have to make.

Please listen, I understand the perspectives of both sides of the political parties. I am sure that there are problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but I also believe that it’s essence is good and that it will move us toward a more successful America. There may be problems along the way, in it’s implementation and caveats, but those can and will be fixed, as the President has said himself. It might not be perfect, but it sure is better than we had, so let’s move forward with the law of the land and work to fix the ACA issues as they come to the surface. Let’s not hold the entire federal government hostage to what “might be” and instead work on what “Could Be”. We must keep moving forward as a country, and if the ACA is forward progress, then let’s ride that train, but we will have opportunities along the way to fix issues as they become present. At least we’ll be moving in the right direction…

Other democracies around the world are looking at us now with sincere disdain, saying “if America can’t make Democracy work, then why should we give it a try?” They are asking themselves, “If America and it’s government shutdown is what democracy looks like, why should we give it a try?” 

I ask all those that are willing to listen, let a vote be put on the floor in the House of Representatives for a Clean Continuing Resolution. While these ongoing Continuing Resolutions are not within the Constitutional job description of Congress, we ought to have a fully funded government that is envied by the rest of the world, not one that is looked upon with skepticism and disdain. Congress’ job is to pass a full budget; these CRs have become the new normal and cannot sufficiently be capitulated for the full functionality of the United States government. 

Finally, I want to stay in civil service, even with all of the pay cuts, lack of pay raises and bonuses, and without any true sense of job security. I want to stay in civil service because I believe in what this country stands for and for what we represent as a free democracy. This country can no longer hold our budget hostage to the will of a few; instead we must concede to the will of the majority - that is a Democracy. And the will of the majority is telling our elected officials to pass a budget, open the government, put people back to work, fix our national infrastructure, and to serve the Will of the Many, not the will of the few. As a country, we are better than this. As a United People, we are better than this. Call your representative and your senator, demand that the government reopen for business. I promise that civil servants, like myself, will do everything possible to ensure that your civil needs are met and that this nation continues to be the greatest country and a force for good across the world.

The Common Sense Approach to Repealing the ACA

"There’s a cold logic behind the willingness of some conservatives to risk everything to stop Obamacare. But it’s not that Obamacare will fail. After all, if the law will just be a debacle, Republicans should let it take effect, ride the catastrophe to overwhelming victory in the 2014 midterms, and then use their massive congressional majorities to repeal it.

Rather, as EJ Dionne writes, the real fear is that the law will succeed. Once Obamacare begins delivering health insurance to millions of Americans it will become effectively impossible to repeal. That’s what’s happened in every other country that’s introduced a national health-care system. That’s why the right needs to stop Obamacare before it begins.

The irony of their strategy, though, is that shutting down the federal government won’t stop Obamacare. It might even help it.”

Common sense would tell a sane person that the ACA is win-win for the Republicans. If they let it go into effect and it fail’s miserably, as they predict, than they will overwhelmingly win back congressional senate majority and likely the White House in 2016. If, however, it succeeds like all precedent suggests, than Our Country is better off with Affordable Health Care for All Americans. But since this particular congress might not always put Country before Party, we’re going to see the umpteenth attempt at appealing ACA and a likely government shutdown.

If the worst occurs, we will no longer deem this congress the ‘Do-Nothing’ congress, but rather, the ‘Negative Effect’ congress.

Click through the source to continue reading on Wonkbook.

(Source: Washington Post)

Next Generation License Plates

This week, the California State Senate approved a bill that would create the nation’s first electronic license plate. Having already passed the state’s assembly, the bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for his signature.

The idea is that rather than have a static piece of printed metal adorned with stickers to display proper registration, the plate would be a screen that could wirelessly (likely over a mobile data network) receive updates from a central server to display that same information. In an example shown by a South Carolina vendor, messages such as “STOLEN,” “EXPIRED,” or something similar could also be displayed on a license plate.

The bill’s language says that for now, the program would be limited to a “pilot program” set to be completed no later than January 1, 2017.


There are significant implications, both positive and negative, of the Electronic License Plate bill. For one, all of the normal privacy voices are going to cry bloody murder over the DMV collecting location information of the wireless-enabled license plates (while they use their GPS systems without concern). But the counter-argument is more effective tracking of stolen vehicles, criminals on the run, internet-renewing of DMV dues, and better oversight by the DMV of registered vehicles.


A bigger, and more likely, argument against this initiative is the liklihood for misuse and for hacking. Both can probably be averted to an extend with proper controls, processes, and enforceable policies, so we should atleast continue to explore the new technology and the laws that would manage said technology.

"When it comes to society and politics, let’s always hit the Play button, and never the Pause button"

shortformblog:

America underwater: Artist Nickolay Lamm has created a series of striking images depicting what coastal cities in America will look like over the next several centuries if ocean levels continue to rise at their current rates (between 1992 and 2012, that’d be roughly one inch per decade). The images above are of San Francisco’s AT&T Park and Boston Harbor in 300 years, at which point they’ll be immersed in 25 feet of water.  (Images credit: Nickolay Lamm; higher resolution images posted at Business Insidersource

Stowe Boyd: Real Conservative Reform Would Be Based On Reality, Instead Of Folklore

stoweboyd:

There’s a great deal of talk about reform in the conservative world, as the GOP scrambles to fight the war on demographics. Paul Krugman sums up the core issue: the abiding unwillingness of the GOP and conservatives to accept reality.

(via emergentfutures)

House Republicans will hold a 37th vote to repeal Obamacare. Because doing something over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and expecting a desired result and being petulant about not getting it is the definition of partisan insanity.

(Source: inothernews)

"

After the Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United decision in 2010 that opened the way for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns, all that new funding needed someplace to go where it would not be easily tracked. In response, the number of groups seeking 501(c)(4) status – which, in addition to the tax break, allows donors to remain anonymous – shot up to 3,400 in 2012.

The flood of applications overloaded the IRS processing system. It may be wrong that, in order to deal with the mountain of paperwork, the IRS functionaries began culling the applicants by looking for keywords such as “tea party” and “patriot,” but I suspect it had far less to do with political bias than it did with the fact that the majority of new groups were conservative. If someone were running a bogus political operation and wanted to attract corporate cash, they would probably pretend to be some kind of grass-roots tea party group. It is entirely understandable that an overwhelmed IRS bureaucrat would choose to look for questionable applicants in the most obvious places.

The fact is that none of the right-wing applicants were turned down, even though they are probably as engaged in partisan campaigning as Karl Rove or Jim Messina. A 501(c)(4) group is, by law, supposed to be a social welfare organization whose primary activity is not politics. Can anyone honestly say that about Rove or Messina or any of the many tea party organizations?

Sadly, after this so-called scandal has blown over and enough heads have rolled, the cowed IRS will be even more timid in denying tax-exempt designation to any front organization run by partisan political operatives and funded by corporate moneymen who want to keep their names out of the news.

"

DAVID HORSEY, writing in the Los Angeles Times, “The Real Scandal: IRS Gives Tax Exemptions to Political Partisans.”

Yep.

(via inothernews)

shortformblog:

nbcnightlynews:

New $100 bills coming to a bank near you in OctoberStory: http://nbcnews.to/17XlMsi l Photo: Federal Reserve

Poor Richard’s News should use the top image as his avatar. The bottom image looks like a photocopy that had liquid paper dumped all over it.

TechGent supports the removal of the $100 bill from circulation. Our government could save millions each year by stopping production of this useless piece of monetary history. Studies have shown that the largest amount of one hundred dollar bills in circulation are actually just sitting in over-seas bank accounts. The 2nd largest use of the $100 bill is for drug and crime use - so why do we spend millions to keep this currency in production? Because the same people who want the $100 bill are the same politicians who want the penny to stay around - Our Congress has a mind-blowing ability to do absolutely nothing at makes any correlation to common sense.

shortformblog:

nbcnightlynews:

New $100 bills coming to a bank near you in October

Story: http://nbcnews.to/17XlMsi l Photo: Federal Reserve

Poor Richard’s News should use the top image as his avatar. The bottom image looks like a photocopy that had liquid paper dumped all over it.

TechGent supports the removal of the $100 bill from circulation. Our government could save millions each year by stopping production of this useless piece of monetary history. Studies have shown that the largest amount of one hundred dollar bills in circulation are actually just sitting in over-seas bank accounts. The 2nd largest use of the $100 bill is for drug and crime use - so why do we spend millions to keep this currency in production? Because the same people who want the $100 bill are the same politicians who want the penny to stay around - Our Congress has a mind-blowing ability to do absolutely nothing at makes any correlation to common sense.

(Source: thinksquad, via thenationmagazine)

futurejournalismproject:

The Bitcoin Bubble’s Bursting
Earlier this month people began noticing that Bitcoin, the digital currency, was exploding in value. This isn’t the first time. As the Wall Street Journal explained back in 2011, Bitcoin at that time was the world’s fastest-gaining currency. They also provided a good explainer about how Bitcoin actually works:

If returns like those seem otherworldly, perhaps its because Bitcoin is a world unto itself. To recap, it’s is a purely online currency with no intrinsic value; its worth is based solely on the willingness of holders and merchants to accept it in trade. In that respect, it’s not so different from fiat currencies like the dollar or Euro, but whereas governments back such money, Bitcoins lack central control.
In another way, the appeal of the Bitcoin echoes the appeal of gold. Istead of a central bank, a computer algorithm dictates their supply. Today there are six million Bitcoins, a number that will grow at a steadily slowing rate until it approaches 21 million, but no more. As with gold, some see such limited supply as built-in protection against inflation that could result from runaway government budget deficits. Gold, of course, has been a store of value for thousands of years and has at least some industrial use, whereas Bitcoins are brand new and exist only on the Internet.

Back when the WSJ wrote this article, a bitcoin was worth $30. Yesterday, it hit $250.
Today, people are cashing in their chips and it’s tumbled (as of early this afternoon) back down to $190.
But let’s get to some good Bitcoin reading. Here are items that have crossed my radar over the last few days:
MIT Technology Review: Cryptocurrency — The bitcoin, a virtual medium of exchange, could be a real alternative to government-issued money—but only if it survives hoarding by speculators. James Surowiecki dips into the currency’s background and history. See also Joshua Davis’ New Yorker article, The Crypto-Currency, about the mystery behind Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto… if there really is, or was, a Satoshi Nakamoto.
Slate: Will Bitcoins Make Me Rich? — A dispatch from inside the digital currency bubble. Farhad Manjoo withdraws $1,027.51 to buy himself a couple of coins.
Felix Salmon, The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency. Written just last week, Salmon notes that although the value of all bitcoins surged past $1 billion for the first time, it is/was a classic bubble, but still had “fascinating implications for anybody who cares about payments, or currencies, or trust.”
Business Insider: There’s Someone Called ‘The Bitcoin Billionaire’ Who’s Randomly Giving Out Thousands Of Dollars On Reddit.
Quartz: Why Bitcoin “millionaires” could accidentally become tax felons. Hint: capital gains.
Image: Screenshot, Real Time Bitcoin Market Data, by Clark Moody.

futurejournalismproject:

The Bitcoin Bubble’s Bursting

Earlier this month people began noticing that Bitcoin, the digital currency, was exploding in value. This isn’t the first time. As the Wall Street Journal explained back in 2011, Bitcoin at that time was the world’s fastest-gaining currency. They also provided a good explainer about how Bitcoin actually works:

If returns like those seem otherworldly, perhaps its because Bitcoin is a world unto itself. To recap, it’s is a purely online currency with no intrinsic value; its worth is based solely on the willingness of holders and merchants to accept it in trade. In that respect, it’s not so different from fiat currencies like the dollar or Euro, but whereas governments back such money, Bitcoins lack central control.

In another way, the appeal of the Bitcoin echoes the appeal of gold. Istead of a central bank, a computer algorithm dictates their supply. Today there are six million Bitcoins, a number that will grow at a steadily slowing rate until it approaches 21 million, but no more. As with gold, some see such limited supply as built-in protection against inflation that could result from runaway government budget deficits. Gold, of course, has been a store of value for thousands of years and has at least some industrial use, whereas Bitcoins are brand new and exist only on the Internet.

Back when the WSJ wrote this article, a bitcoin was worth $30. Yesterday, it hit $250.

Today, people are cashing in their chips and it’s tumbled (as of early this afternoon) back down to $190.

But let’s get to some good Bitcoin reading. Here are items that have crossed my radar over the last few days:

Image: Screenshot, Real Time Bitcoin Market Data, by Clark Moody.