Four more years – What you can do now

My condolences to the Democrats among us, who are in a state of shock wondering how Bush could have won.

My condolences to Republicans among us as well – of all the Republicans out there, you get to have Bush represent your party (at least we in California have Schwarzenegger).

Anyway, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Business as usual in Iraq, an increasing national debt, a degraded environment, increased challenges to civil liberties and a preference for corporations over individual rights. There’s no reason to expect much change on this score.

You may be wondering what you can do about it. Sorry, you can’t all move to Canada or New Zealand.

And you can’t do much about Iraq or the deficit.

But if you’re concerned about freedom and civil liberties, there are two things you can do right now that will make a difference. Doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican, just that you care about freedom (the first, and most important of American values).

Join the American Civil Liberties Union.

Join the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

You’ve got nothing better to do for the next 2 years until campaign 2008 starts, and you can make a difference. Spread the word.

19 Responses to “Four more years – What you can do now”

  1. Chris Says:

    Interesting post, but completely absurd. As a former customer (won’t make that mistake ever again), I applaud your complete lack of reasoning and underwhelming logic. First, “corporations over individual rights”, what individual rights do you have if you don’t have a job and can’t feed your family. Your very company sells products to many corporations (and individuals that work for these corporations), seems that you are a selling out to the very philosophy you espouse to others. Also, aren’t your products primarily focused toward a Microsoft Platform (yes, the big evil Corporation that you would perfer to have an ACLU lawyer sue into utter oblivion). Secondly, that brings us to the fantastic organization known as the ACLU, (protecting criminal rights over victim rights since 1920) let’s take a quick look:

    Several crucial leaders of the ACLU were members of the Communist Party. Earl Browder, then General Secretary of the Communist Party, said the ACLU functioned as “a transmission belt” for the party.

    In 1945 the ACLU opposed laws requiring prostitutes to submit to examinations or vaccinations, saying these violated the women’s rights to “medical liberty.”

    In 1967 the ACLU adopted a “pro-choice” position on abortion.

    In 1975 the ACLU came out in favor of special rights for homosexuals.

    In 1986 the ACLU created its “Lesbian and Gay Rights” project.

    September 1986 – The ACLU successfully sues fifth grade public school teacher Kenneth Roberts, forcing him to remove his personal Bible from his classroom desk. Roberts kept the Bible on top of his desk, and he read from it during his class’ silent reading time. He never read it to his students or told them they had to read it. (Contrast this to the ACLU’s actions in February and March, 2001, in Anaheim, California. This time, the ACLU threatened to sue the public school board if they did not put pro-homosexual propaganda on the shelves of the high school library.)

    In 1988 the ACLU barred a doctor from telling a Kansas man’s former wife that her ex-husband had tested positive for AIDS. In the words of the director of the ACLU’s Privacy and Technology Project, “The benefits of confidentiality outweigh the possibility that somebody may be injured.”

    In 1989 the government granted tax exemptions for Satanists – a position the ACLU has supported.

    In 1992 the ACLU persuaded a judge to approve adoption of a young boy by his mother’s lesbian partner.

    Yes, this is definitely an organization that you can get behind (you definitely don’t want them behind you because who knows what might happen). I could go on and on, but time does not permit. Needless to say, you people on the left coast are amazing, why don’t you just export yourselves to France and stop bothering the rest of the country with your perversion and endless whining.

  2. rizzo Says:


    With all due respect to your past programming glory, I think you are way off on this issue. You are painting a hysterical picture, like we are heading toward a dictatorship or something. It seems like you no longer think Bush is wrong, but evil.

    Sorry, I don’t buy it. America is like a train heading forward on the tracks. Who is going to be at the helm is almost immaterial – it’s heading forward. Let me ask you a question? If Gore won, wouldn’t there still be 9/11, wouldn’t there still be the war in Afghanistan. And most likely there would still be the war in Iraq (given Clinton’s record of bombing them weekly throughout his tenure).

    Regarding the deficit, you know (if you are honest with yourself), as well as everyone reading this is that Clinton conquered the problem because there was the .com bubble. The money came from the taxes collected from investors raking it in on the stock market. The bubble is over and now the deficit is pretty much at the same level (percent-wise) as before the bubble started. So, I think, it would intellectually fair to say that neither one of the recent presidents made the hard choices to rein in spending (Clinton because he didn’t have to and Bush because he had the 9/11 focus).

  3. Dan Says:

    Response to #1
    Wow. That’s impressive. But for the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with it, here are the “left coast perversions” that are part of the ACLU mission statement:

    The mission of the ACLU is to preserve all of these protections and guarantees:

    Your First Amendment rights-freedom of speech, association and assembly. Freedom of the press, and freedom of religion supported by the strict separation of church and state.
    Your right to equal protection under the law – equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
    Your right to due process – fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.
    Your right to privacy – freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.

    That’s from their web site. Radical ideas, I know. But hey, I’m old fashioned and happen to believe that it’s important to protect the rights of people I disagree with in order to make sure everyone’s rights are protected.

  4. Avonelle Lovhaug Says:

    Thanks, but no condolences are necessary. I like President Bush, and I’m proud that he represents our party. But I’m sorry that it obviously makes you unhappy.

  5. Mike Sax Says:

    Yes, civil liberties are our country’s greatest treasure. I hope the pendulum won’t swing so far it gets stuck.

  6. Christian Romney Says:

    You didn’t bother to refute this:
    In 1988 the ACLU barred a doctor from telling a Kansas man’s former wife that her ex-husband had tested positive for AIDS. In the words of the director of the ACLU’s Privacy and Technology Project, “The benefits of confidentiality outweigh the possibility that somebody may be injured.”

    I don’t see how I could join an organization that believes the right to privacy outwieghs the right to life – as in the woman’s life that was put at jeopardy by not affording her the opportunity to get tested and possibly seek treatment.

  7. Jason Leib Says:

    The ACLU supports some things I think are “over the top”, but I think it’s important to have a group that may be occasionally extreme in their views to counterbalance the abortion clinic bombers and homophobes at the opposite end of the spectrum.

    While I may not agree with some of their causes, I appreciate having an organization that fights for my rights and that of others, even when I disagree with their views. Another organization to look at is the Libertarian Party.

    However, I do think the “we’re all gonna die” attitude is too much. I don’t think Dubya is evil; heck, I voted for him last time around. But the Saddam Hussein obsession, the post 9/11 overreactions like the PATRIOT act, and his run-to-the-right reelection rantings were too much for me. I hold out hope that without reelection looming, he will return to the inclusive, consensus-builder that he was in his first year in office.

  8. Dan Says:

    Regarding #6 & #2
    I’m not familiar with the specifics of that case. My personal beef with the ACLU was them supporting the Nazis petition to march in Skokie back in the 80’s
    But there isn’t an organization in the world for which I would approve of every action. If that was my standard, I’d be a complete hermit. When the ACLU errs, it errs on the side of freedom, and I can live with that even as I disagree with individual cases.
    By the way, in no way do I think Bush is “evil” as has been suggested. I believe he is a patriot. I just happen to think many of his policies are mistaken, and are in fact counter to traditional Republican values (like economic conservatism).

  9. ocomik Says:

    Chris said; “protecting criminal rights over victim rights since 1920″…

    Since when is being communist, pro-choice, or homosexual criminal? You may find these ideals to be morally reprehensible; however, I don’t believe they’re criminal.

    As for the ACLU, I can support their basic mission as it relates to civil liberties but at times I feel they are a bit misguided. So instead of blanketly saying “join the ACLU”, I would change Dan’s request to read, “Get involved in the process”. When you feel the President, senators or congressman that represent you aren’t representing you, let them know. Call and write them about your concerns.

    As for the EFF – I’m not a 100% positive but I think J.P. Barlow (co-founder) is a supporter of George W. Bush. I’m pretty sure he’s pleased with election outcome.

    Dan said; “I just happen to think many of his policies are mistaken, and are in fact counter to traditional Republican values…”

    You hit the target dead on… The Republican party today reminds me of what many said of the Democratic party in the 70’s… It is a party that has abandoned the “core” values of the “TRUE” republican idealogue.

    As a life long Republican, this is the first time I have ever voted for a Democratic candidate (I actually voted for two). I don’t believe that my beliefs are changing (as a matter of fact I know they are not) but the party that used to represent me no longer does.

  10. Mike Says:

    The ACLU mission statement sounds wonderful and all, but just like politicians, what it says it does and what it actually accomplishes are totally different things. Suppressing the rights of a group of individuals is wrong whether that group is the majority or the minority. Suppressing one to raise the level of the other is like insulting someone so you can be better than them. It doesn’t make you better, nor does it make the other worse. The ACLU has done some good, but when it becomes corrupt and does more harm than good, it is time to find another organization that has a better record of preserving everyones rights.

    How is suppressing the right of an individual to say that homosexuality is wrong is enforcing the right to freedom of speech? And before anyone tells me I am a homophobe, I don’t fear it (phobe) I just think it is wrong.

    What it comes down to is that the ACLU has gotten to the point where it is like a lot of elected officials. They are no longer in office to do the right thing, they are there to preserve their power and influence at the expense of the people that support them for the little good they actually accomplish.

  11. Craig Says:

    I’m not a paying member of either, but I’m glad that both the NRA and the ACLU exist. Now before you go crazy, here me out: both are admittedly wacky at times, but both of them have at their core the desire to defend the Constituion. A document that both major political parties in this country are willing to side step if necessary.

    Personally, I’m glad that we have groups that go absolutely nuts even when they don’t need to because I know that in some way that does provide some protection of my rights and liberties as an American. Same goes for the Libertarians who were mentioned above.

    Nothing worries me more than hearing an opinion I agree with being shouted from the rooftops by politicians, the media, and the “normal” people I know in the absence of dissent. That’s when you have real trouble and you know that somewhere along the line things have broken. Badly.

    I check in on Dan’s blog from time to time to get his opinions because I like his technical writing. When I read something here I agree with, I get a warm-fuzzy feeling; however, when I read something I disagree, I’m thankful for the extra thinking. And neither would ever convince me to stop being a Desaware or APress customer: quite the opposite.

  12. Denny Says:

    Mr. Appleman, regarding comment #2, the poster is correct–and you of all people should know it. The internet revolution drove the economy of the 1990s–not Bill Clinton. You should also be aware that technology ends up resulting in the loss of jobs. Once a big project is completed (that eliminates workers), do you need all those programmers? That Yahoo stock that once traded for around $140 now trades for under $40 (after going as low as $4). Yahoo was one of the few tech companies that DIDN’T go bankrupt. The short-term capital gains tax rate was 28%, 20% for long term. Trillions in market wealth were erased beginning in March of 2000 (while Clinton was in office, I’ll add). That is a lot of tax revenue forever gone–possibly trillions of dollars. Not only that, but those capital losses create “tax loss carryforwards” which will depress capital gains tax revenues for years to come. Hence the deficit. There was so much fraud and bad, biased advice coming from Wall Street in the late 1990s that created an unsustainable bubble that was bound to crash–and crash hard. This whole “Patriot Act paranoia” is bothersome because the average American is not even remotely likely to get ensnared in it. You can’t play by the rules with terrorists who don’t play by the rules. Also, it amazes me that the very same liberals who complain about “erosion” of civil rights are the same people who want to put you in jail for saying something offensive like a racial slur. Yes, they want to put people in jail for saying naughty words. Hypocritical? You bet. Did you know that Canada has a banned books list of stuff they won’t allow their citizens to read? Does that sound like freedom to you???

    I couldn’t sleep and was just seeing what you (Mr. Appleman) were up to since I last referenced your work. Had no idea there would be a blog here. Thanks and keep up the good work. 🙂

  13. Denny Says:

    Oh, one more thing. The budget for medicare, medicaid, and other welfare entitlements is $580 billion ( per year. Getting rid of those wasteful welfare programs would more than balance the budget. We’ve got 40 million additional baby boomers who are going to be sucking off the government teat soon. We’ve already got 50 million people collecting payments from Social Security (Budget of $530 billion). Once you give a welfare program it is next to impossible to take it away. Do the math. The graying of the population is going to bankrupt us. And it sickens me that politicians are so willing to steal money from working people to give it to elderly people who are soon going to die. Whether you want to admit it, elderly people have outlived their usefulness to society. That $530 billion per year wasted on Social Security, again, for people who are going to die anyway, could be better spent on education for the youth of America–people who aren’t obsolete and will make a better future for mankind. The youth will cure disease. The youth will propel mankind forward. The elderly will not. Priorities are screwed up. I blame liberalism for this because of its basis in emotion and eschewal of logic. The logic is simple. If you are going to forcibly steal money from people who work for it, you should spend it on things that are going to benefit society the most–like education. (No, I am not a college student nor have I been for quite some time.)

  14. JJ Says:

    Thanks for the link to EFF. I’m going to contribute and hope that my company’s contribution matching will work.

    Post 13 has to be trolling. Please, it just has to be! Will Denny be refusing the checks when they come rolling in? Or will we hear, “I put money into the system, I’m just getting it back out.” If so, why is that different than today’s old folks. Really, using the term “obsolete” from a Burgess Meredith episode of the Twilight Zone makes it seem like satire.

    I can’t deny that the .com insanity was a major boost to deficit reduction, but that isn’t the point. The boom is gone, why is the government spending money like crazy. Today’s wild deficit spending (a fancy euphemism for writing bad checks) will lead to a HUGE tax increase in the future. W is still the consequence free party dude. Fun, fun, fun to have around until the bill comes due. The democrat that gets the presidency in ’08 will get the job of trying to pay for W’s wild ride. Republicans will howl at the increased taxes, never once relating cause and effect.

  15. Edward G. Nilges Says:

    Dan, I applaud your courageous statement.

    You appear to have gotten some “flak” here. You won’t get any from me.

    In fact…I have long been impressed by the unstated link between competence at constructing code that actually works, and liberal politics.

    Perhaps, as Lawrence Lessig says, “code” is a form, not of “pure math and logic” but of law.

    Conservatives and libertarians don’t like “big government” and tend to dismantle and politicize organizations. When in power they tend to undercut transparency and create centralized Inner Rings that thrive on unwritten laws.

    And then, in my experience, they order up overambitious “enterprise” systems with primarily a rhetorical justification and business rules that are demonstrably self-contradictory or incomplete, or both.

    Software confusion results from a base incoherence in which a mission statement acceptable to the public literally can’t be written down.

    For example, what is “terrorism?” And exactly what Boolean or other expression characterizes a “terrorist”?

    To be at all interested in correct code, in even so humble a language as Visual Basic, is ultimately to be interested in a form of justice.

    If this makes me a liberal, so be it.

  16. Fred Says:

    Have you gotten over it yet, Dan?
    Time will show that G.W.Bush was one of the greatest presidents.
    Is the national debt too big? Yes. Will that be what is remembered? No.
    Are civil liberties curtailed? Yes, but only slightly and always during wartime they are.
    And this is war. If you don’t see that, then that’s one of the reasons the dems lost.
    Freedom is increasing around the world, and that is a good thing for us and them.
    The ACLU, like the dems, are all rhetoric and no positive action. Only carping and
    complaining. What have dems done lately that
    actually increased freedom in the world? Really.
    In your world, though, things are getting worse. Dan, get out of the way, good things
    are happening and you’re going to be run over by them. Elections in Afghanistan,
    Iraq, Palestine, Ukraine – this and more will be remembered.

  17. Demetrio Says:

    Hello Dan and fellow readers,

    I like to offer an opinion from a slightly more neutral perspective given my homeland Australia. I have no bias (or understanding, really) of Democrats or Republicans and therefore my opinion is based on how I see the actions of the individual and government rather than identification with a political party.

    In many cases, when our beliefs are challenged, we tend to hold onto them more tightly because we feel that we’ll be losing something valuable if we find out that one of them is wrong (me included). But to be fair, it isn’t necessarily the belief that is wrong but the information the belief is based on. I can remember, in recent times, during one of the most publicised criminal cases in Australia; the murder case of Lindy Chamberlain and her baby Azaria. You might know it as the ‘dingo got my baby’ story. During that time (I was only a little boy) I will never forget the (understandable) media frenzy over the case. What I didn’t understand at the time was the public’s immediate reaction: they were angry and Lindy was guilty of a murder– no question about it. Why was everyone so sure? I remember during class the teacher asked us to put up our hand if we thought she was guilty; almost the whole class did. Almost every one was sure because the media painted a picture that she was guilty (the public were angry and wanted someone to pay for the ‘crime’) and there was little publicised about any opposing views. I vaguely remember one news story offering proof of her guilt by leaving a dingo with a baby showing that the dingo did not do any harm – this was proof that dingos don’t eat babies. At the time we all swallowed it and put an innocent woman in jail (for many years). At the time, our belief of her guilt was not wrong but the information we based our belief on was. This information was put forward (as evidence, in many cases) by the media who were more interested in generating a story by fuelling anger than putting forward the facts of the case (i.e. a baby died at xxx whist camping in the Australian outback, that’s all they really knew for sure).

    The media has incredible power to sway public opinion. When this organisation is backed by a political party it has even more power and can do more damage. Can a media organisation really be balanced when it is, effectively, owned by a strong political campaigner? We are facing the same prospect here with cross owner ship laws being changed so that big media companies can own a larger percentage of the media output. The director’s son (James Packer) made a public announcement to vote for the same party that was in support of these changes to laws. The same media company put the announcement on prime time news. I think it’s important that we start demanding that our media companies are completely independent of political bias. Better than demand, make it law. If not, then we can never rely on the information that eventually forms our beliefs.

    Our first Australian soldier died last week because someone said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and were a threat to freedom and were responsible for the terrorism committed on 9/11. History has shown that the intelligence for supporting these arguments was based on erroneous data. Governments around the world sent innocent soldiers to their death along with thousands of civilians because of misinformation. Let me ask you this, do you know how many of your soldiers have died so far during the war? If not, then demand to know. The public deserves to know who has lost their lives for them. Their family deserves the recognition for their loss and suffering. The soldiers were brave enough to put their lives in danger for their country; they deserve the recognition even if it’s a few seconds on the evening news.

    Some months ago I had a realization that bothered me. One of your great writers and speakers Wayne Dyer (one of my favourite authors) often talked about thinking and mental focus. He identified a fundamental characteristic of human behaviour. The more one focuses on something, the more it grows. The more awareness you bring to something the more it expands. What has the world been focusing on for the past few years? Terrorism and evil. And what has grown more in the last few years than in any other in our life time?

    Yes, we need to bring our attention to acts of violence and act accordingly. We also need to balance that with a focus on acts of kindness and love. Here’s a controversial thought, what if we placed our focus on peace and what if the word’s attention made that grow?


  18. Joe McGough Says:

    I’ve used your products. They seem better than most. I don’t plan on dropping their use but I have to make a few remarks about your endorsement of the ACLU. In the past, I didn’t agree with a lot of what the ACLU did but I put it in the category of “my ox is being gored”. However, recently I learned a little about how the ACLU actually operates and I was appalled. First I found out that they push “causes” that are sponsered. In the case I found out about the sponser was George Soros and the cause was eliminating any public appearance of religion. From Mr. Soros’s donations flow the many seemingly idiotic cases about religious symbols visible (not on) public property. In short, you can’t even wear a religious symbol, say a crucifix or yamulka to a public event or to school because people have a “right” not to be offended. It is to laugh. Even our local staunchly Democratic and Athestic paper decided that one was too much. Beyond that the ACLU engages in legal bullying. Filing ludicrous and baseless law suits against individulas and organizations that lack the money to defend themselves. No, the ACLU has become one of the problems in our society not one of the solutions. Don’t forget the ACLU is one of the primary reasons that our security screeners are not permitted to single out youg muslim males for special atttention even though ALMOST ALL the acts of terrorism in the ENTIRE WORLD are comitted by same. It defies logic and common sense not to give them special attention. A customer of mine (a police officer in a major city) pointed out the basic flaw in the current PC reasoning. Simply put, when a fancied up van is reported stolen, all the fancied up vans will be stopped for one reason or another becuase evry cop wants to make the bust. If the race of the drivers is heavily black, then the proportion of false stops for blacks will be very high. It’s not profiling. It’s a consequence of where crimes happen and who tend to be criminals.

    You are unnecessarily concerned about loss of freedoms. As near as I can determine from reading about the changes in the law they fall into two categories. One that makes it easier for government agencies to share information and another which concerns the ability to hold people charge with certain crimes. In the former case only those with something to hide are likely to be affected. In the latter case, it’s a tradeoff with public safety. No, it’s not s slippery slope. It’s just carefully altering the law when needs and circumstances change.

    … Joe

    Oh yeah, I think

  19. Demetrio Says:

    ‘. In short, you can’t even wear a religious symbol, say a crucifix or yamulka to a public event or to school because people have a “right” not to be offended. ‘
    Agreed, people who choose to wear clothing or articles of a religious nature should not be banned. France’s banning the wearing of headscarfs by Muslims at school is another example of this.

    ‘ALMOST ALL the acts of terrorism in the ENTIRE WORLD are comitted by same.’

    There may be some acts of terrorism committed by a small minority of people on the fundamentalist end of their religion. This is not restricted to the Muslim religion, if you think Christian fundamentalists are not guilty of this open up a history book. These people who have committed these acts of violence have often been raised in violent situations, perhaps under attack, in war and are convinced that they are the victim and their enemy is evil. Does this sentiment sound familiar?

    Terrorism is an example of an extreme act of violence but, as Eckhart Tolle said, the crimes against humanity were committed by respectable people. Look at what Hitler did. Millions and Millions of innocent people died in the hands of this leader. He makes a terrorist look like a saint.

    ‘You are unnecessarily concerned about loss of freedoms.’

    I don’t think so. Mumdo Habib, an Australian found in Pakistan during the September 11 attack was held in Guantanamo Bay for three years and was released without charge. He claims that he was tortured. Which may at first seem exaggerated but that’s what I would have thought when accusations of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners were alleged until, of course, I saw the photos. The very nature of Guantanamo Bay goes against the fundamental basis of western law: a person is innocent until proven guilty. If Mumdo Habib (and all the others in his situation) cannot be proven guilty (in a reasonable amount of time) then we must assume that he is innocent. Holding an innocent person in jail (torture or no torture) for three years is unacceptable. If this policy is adopted through out the world then it doesn’t stop other countries coming to your home and taking you to their prisons on the suspicion of you being a terrorist (they may not like you because of the way you look or your religion or they may have placed everyone of a particular type of religion in the same basket because of a few individuals). Holding someone in prison for three years without trial is an unacceptable violation of an individual’s freedom. It is also an act of violence and is a crime.

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