Friday, 24 April 2009


Important: Time to write your Senators

Nanny Alert!

President Obama’s pick to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration raises a few red flags.  If confirmed by the Senate, Chuck Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, will drive motorists over the cliff with regulation.

The nation’s traffic-safety czar has broad powers to control the roads and road-going habits of Americans.  Mr. Hurley has a history of pushing laws that harass millions of law-abiding citizens to ensnare a few lawbreakers.  He supports returning the 55 mph speed limit to our highways as well as roadblocks and random pullovers to make sure drivers aren't doing anything wrong.  This methodology is based on a presumption of guilt - not innocence - of the average driver who is doing nothing wrong.

Mr. Hurley has promoted a mania of overregulation at MADD.  Absent from his advocacies is the principle that a punishment should fit the crime, or that a crime even needs to be committed to incur a penalty.  Under this influence, MADD has been lobbying to lower the allowable blood-alcohol content (BAC) for drivers to .04 - which means one glass of Pinot can land anyone behind bars... - Washington Times editorial: “MADD about regulation”
From its original, commendable, mission of getting dangerously blotto drivers off the roads, MADD has morphed itself into the Brady.Bunch of auto “safety,” pushing for alcohol abolition and other draconian restrictions on civil liberties with all the zeal of a global warmingist, and the same degree of scientific validity.[1]  Hurley is a principal reason for  MADD’s mission creep, and putting him in charge of the NHTSA would be like putting Code Pink in charge of the Defence Department (or, for that matter, Janet Napolitano in charge of the DHS).

Nothing since prohibition (and I include the “war on (some) drugs”) did more to turn Americans into scofflaws than Jimmy Carter’s Richard Nixon’s[2] stupid federal speed limit restrictions.  And nothing has done more to separate the average citizen from law enforcement than the mostly-federally-driven (and funded) random “safety” checkpoints.  With Hurley in charge, we can expect all of that- doubled.  He is a zealot who has no business in any federal office, let alone one like NHTSA chief.

This weekend, the weather in most parts of the country promises to be beautiful.  Why not take an hour or so, and jump in the car, head out to the nearest interstate, and crank up the speed (and the stereo) for an hour or two.  Lean back and savor the experience.  Think of it going away.

Then, when you get back home, write your Senators.

(And even if cruising along with your favorite tunes at 70 miles per hour isn’t your particular thing, write ’em anyway.  Because Hurley is no friend of freedom– of any sort.)

HT:  Instapundit, and “thanks” for ruining my Friday afternoon.
[1]  Thank MADD’s agit-prop (and a compliant Congress) for the move to the nationwide must-be-21drinking restriction– which a group of college presidents (!) is now trying to reverse.

[2Correction:  Nixon was the one who implemented it.  Carter just whined at us to please obey it.

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Tuesday, 21 April 2009


*Which* “Net Neutrality” are you talking about?

Steven Macklin over at Hold the Mayo linked a video by author and screenwriter Andrew Klavan about what is increasingly the liberal answer to conservative arguments: “Shut Up!”[1]  (And while I can’t play videos, fortunately Steven did a transcript.)

Klavin’s topic is certainly familiar to anyone who has had dealings with the left:

The left has been making the “Shut Up” argument at least since the 70’s, when it became clear that all their other arguments had failed.  Since it was the only argument remaining to them, they had to invent different ways to say it.
...and he proceeds to list the ways. Most are familiar and accurate (characterizing opponents as “racists”or “fascists,” declaring some ideas as “hate speech,” then using the force of government or institutions to forbid expressing them). But one sentence rang false:
A book called “A Manifesto for Media Freedom” by my City Journal pal Brain C. Anderson and Adam D. Fhierer describes how high-level Dems also support a plan with another Orwellian name. “Net Neutrality” it’s called, that would try to force conservatives to “Shut Up” online as well.
I’ve run into this before, but I had discounted it as confusion or a lack of understanding of the issue.  But now that it’s popped up again (and since somebody has put this interpretation into a book), it’s time we define our terms to be certain of what we’re arguing about.  Because, if  misunderstood, argument over “Net Neutrality” could drive an unnecessary wedge between the libertarian geeks and the conservatives.

How, you say?  Read on...


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Wednesday, 08 April 2009


Pro-“Cybergrab” bill propaganda begins

On Sunday I wrote about the S.773/S.778 “Cybergrab” bills being perpetrated in the name of “security” by Senators John Rockefeller (D-WV) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).  Today the Wall Street Journal chimes in with a mostly-content-free front-page article which attempts to stoke the paranoia up another notch by using generalities, innuendo, irrelevant examples, confusion, and off-the-record sources.  Lots of propaganda, little substance.

Deconstruction proceeds below the break...


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Sunday, 05 April 2009


Rockefeller wants massive Presidential cyber-grab, Snowe signs on

Spotted by Joanna:

Should President Obama have the power to shut down domestic Internet traffic during a state of emergency?

Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) think so.  On Wednesday they introduced a bill to establish the Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor—an arm of the executive branch that would have vast power to monitor and control Internet traffic to protect against threats to critical cyber infrastructure...

The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 [SEE NOTE* - o.g.] gives the president the ability to “declare a cybersecurity emergency” and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any “critical” information network “in the interest of national security.”  The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency.  That definition would be left to the president.

The bill does not only add to the power of the president.  It also grants the Secretary of Commerce “access to all relevant data concerning [critical] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.”  This means he or she can monitor or access any data on private or public networks without regard to privacy laws. - Steve Aquino, “Should Obama Control the Internet,” Mother Jones, April 2, 2009
Gee, seems like only yesterday that all those lefties (and a number of righties, to give them credit) were fulminating about Bush’s post-9/11 power grabs!  This looks pretty grabby to me, and whaddaya know, a Democrat wrote it:
“...from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records—the list goes on,” Rockefeller said in a statement.
Not much limit there.  (Traffic lights?)  Dear Senator Rockefeller:  A “network” isn’t necessarily “the internet,” and good administrators already know enough to keep the “critical stuff” separate.  A law that required such separation might be a good idea (just to help the smart people keep the bean counters and suits under control), but your bill ain’t it.

Instead you wrote yet another bad bill which massively- and unnecessarily-  extends executive power, and here comes Snowe, eager to sign on as a co-sponsor.
Snowe echoed her colleague, saying, “if we fail to take swift action, we, regrettably, risk a cyber-Katrina.
Ooooh, rhetorical overload!  If it happens (as Joanna asks) do we get FEMA to sort things out?  Give me a f*ckin break!

Oh, and if you work in IT, you’ll find this little provision (which the MJ article missed) quite “interesting,” too:

(a) IN GENERAL.— Within 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Commerce shall develop or coordinate and integrate a national licensing, certification, and periodic recertification program for cybersecurity professionals.

(b) MANDATORY LICENSING.— Beginning 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, it shall be unlawful for any individual to engage in business in the United States, or to be employed in the United States, as a provider of cybersecurity services to any Federal agency or an information system or network designated by the President, or the President’s designee, as a critical infrastructure information system or network, who is not licensed and certified under the program.
Looks like a whole bunch of techies are going to have to get certified.  Makes you wonder which “education” lobbyist bought Senator Rockefeller, doesn’t it?

I won’t go further at enumerating the problems with this bill.  For public reaction, the Mother Jones comment thread is a good place to start.  (I imagine there will shortly be some technically interesting comments at Slashdot, Ars Technica, and the Register.)

Anyway, I believe this one qualifies Olympia for another point.  Done!



Related, in a “more bad legislation” way:

*NOTE about the bill:  The Mother Jones story links to a PDF of a draft version (hosted at the Center for Democracy and Technology.)  On checking the listings at, it appears that the draft has now been split into two bills (texts not available at THOMAS at this writing).  They are:
S.773: “A bill to ensure the continued free flow of commerce within the United States and with its global trading partners through secure cyber communications, to provide for the continued development and exploitation of the Internet and intranet communications for such purposes, to provide for the development of a cadre of information technology specialists to improve and maintain effective cybersecurity defenses against disruption, and for other purposes.”
which, judging from its title, probably includes most of the draft text, and
S.778: “A bill to establish, within the Executive Office of the President, the Office of National Cybersecurity Advisor.”
Both bills have the same co-sponsors:  In addition to Snowe are Democrats Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).

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