Thursday, April 30, 2009

The New Generation Gap

There is a new generation gap coming to a society near you. The term "generation gap" became a popular term for the baby boomer rebellion of the 1960s and '70s. Our parents were on the receiving end of a lot of derisive insults about their music, morals and values. The tables will be turned for the new generation gap. What's more, it will be much more personal and dangerous.

As we baby boomers age, social security, nationalized health care (if enacted), and all of the other social programs that we helped to create, as well as the massive debt for the government bail-outs, and the damage done to capitalism, will fall on our children. True to form, many of us did not take any responsibility for our own retirement.

As more of us leave the work force, and we begin to cash in on our socialist benefits, taxation, inflation, joblessness will directly affect our children's quality of life, and they will resent it. They will rebel. They will use our life-negating values about abortion and euthanasia against us. They'll yank out the government feeding tube, because they will not be happy to have more than half of their earnings taxed away to support a bunch of old farts.

We will not have a happy old age, and we will deserve it. I hope our children will see the error of our ways, and return the federal government to its rightful size and scope as specified in the Enumerated Powers of the Constitution. I hope they'll throw out big government, and along with it, a bunch of whining, lazy, aging hippies.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Conficker Worm

Hello, I'm taking a break from politics to talk about computer malware. Specifically, Conficker. Conficker is one nasty worm. It has security professionals very concerned, because it is a general purpose program that can install other malware on command from "home" -- wherever "home" is -- some clues point to somewhere in the Ukraine. Conficker uses many strategies and tactics to hide itself, and to prevent detection and removal. There is no doubt that other bad guys are emulating Conficker, and soon a whole new generation of very sophisticated attacks will crop up that emulate Conficker in some or all ways. It is nearly impossible to completely harden systems against it, but you can certainly lower your risk by doing some specific things.

  1. Use a virus scanner and keep it up to date. Virus scanners aren't infallible, but they're better than nothing. Conficker is good at hiding from virus scanners, though, and it’s always a race between the virus scanner providers and the bad guys.
  2. Keep your operating system up to date. For many Windows users, the easiest thing is to enable automatic updates. Not using Windows might give you some temporary security through obscurity, but I would not expect the top two or three operating systems, especially MacOS, Linux and all of its variants, to be immune to Conficker for very long. It's authors are very knowledgeable and devious.
  3. Run with the lowest authority possible. I know it is annoying, but if you don't really need to be an administrator, don't be. Running as administrator gives you and every program you run -- accidentally or not (including worms) -- full control of your computer.
  4. Connect to the Internet through a NAT router* and/or at least make sure you use a personal firewall, such as Windows Firewall that ships with all currently supported Windows versions. Keep in mind, though, that personal firewalls can be defeated by malware, and certainly Conficker knows how to do this, and will if it has administrative access. It is much harder for malware to affect your router. But...
  5. If you use a NAT router, turn off Universal Plug'n'Play (UPnP). Conficker uses UPnP to open up your router to the internet, so that it can phone home and get instructions, and then run spambots and other nefarious applications.
  6. Use strong passwords for all of your accounts (especially administrative) on your computer and on your router. DO NOT leave the default passwords. Conficker contains a dictionary (frequently updated by its perpetrators) of all the default passwords for all of the popular routers, as well as all the passwords commonly used by humans everywhere. If it has your admin password, it owns your system, and by extension, it owns your identity.
Here's a link to a Reuters story with more information.

*NAT router, also called "broadband router" means any of a number of hardware routers from providers such as DLink, Linksys, Belkin, etc. They are designed for general networking, wireless networking, and sharing a single internet connection among several computers. While networking and sharing an internet connection might be the reason you bought it, security is one of the primary benefits. Just make sure you set it up for optimal security, and change the default administration passwords.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blogging Since February, and Still No Comments

This is a moderated blog, but anyone can post. No sign-in is required. The following describes the terms on the comments page:
This is a moderated forum. Please try to avoid ad-hominem attacks and gratuitous profanity. Justifiable profanity may be tolerated.

The question on the table is "Does the US Government's role or involvement in the area under discussion tend to enhance or diminish individual liberty?" Please be honest. Pretzel logic will be challenged.
Is this too restrictive? Or are my posts just so well thought out, and unassailable that no one feels the need to comment? Please comment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Frank Zappa Wasn't Too Impressed with the National Media Either

Frank Zappa was a consummate musician and social commentator. I didn't agree with him musically or politically on a lot of stuff, but this one is different.

Defining and Avoiding Tyranny

One definition of tyranny is special interests using government to force their agenda down your throat. It doesn't matter if it is the religious right or the loony left. Environmentalists, Wall Street, feminists, oil companies, gays, labor unions, auto manufacturers -- all do it. When we have an activist federal government that regulates our lives and doles out favors and free stuff, you will have special interests lined up around the block, all trying to get their agenda enacted into law, or make the government their benefactor in perpetuity.

After the Tea Parties, one leftist that I correspond with asked me why nobody was this stressed out when the Bush administration was spending like there was no tomorrow, and shredding the Constitution. Many of us were stressed out, but both sides -- all sides -- are guilty of this. Under the circumstances, it is a matter of political survival. It doesn't seem so bad as long as our side is the "in group". But when the "other side" gets in, we get mad as hell. The acrimony will not subside until the federal government returns to the Enumerated Powers specified in the Constitution.

The federal government was originally designed to be a lightweight framework to tie together the various member states, providing basic common services, such as a monetary currency, and diplomatic and military protection. As far as I can tell, the individual states can do pretty much whatever they want, as long as they don't get crosswise with the Bill of Rights. This diversity provides We the People the liberty to move to a state where the weather and the politics suits our clothes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

This Is a Good Sign

From a Tea Party somewhere. Stolen from/courtesy of

Elections Have Consequences!

I was sitting in a company-wide staff meeting today, having a briefing with my remaining co-workers about how we go forward following a massive layoff yesterday -- the second one in three months. One of my co-workers asked what assurance we have that the same thing won't happen again in three months. I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying "Stop voting for big government, anti-liberty, anti-capitalist politicians! Elections have consequences!"

Don't Blow it Again in 2010!

I know that correlation does not imply causation, but the current economic problems started very shortly after Democrats took control of both houses of congress in 2006. Obviously, there were many contributing factors, but it was no coincidence, either. It was at that time that public policy changed dramatically, because the opposition to government activity was significantly reduced, and new activity was introduced. Also not coincidentally, principled Republicans tend to resist government activism, and many of them were swept from power along with the unprincipled ones.

Many people decry "gridlock" in Washington D.C., but gridlock is a good thing. The founders specifically designed the US Government to foster gridlock. The formal name is the system of checks and balances. Checks and balances were reduced significantly in 2006, and reduced dramatically in 2008. Regardless of their party affiliation, you can depend on politicians grabbing power if there is nothing stopping them, and there is nothing stopping the politicians in Washington D.C. from riding roughshod over our liberty at this time.

Even the Judicial branch is precariously balanced, and President Obama (based on his past associations, actions and philosophy) is sure to appoint radical leftist, activist judges at the first opportunity. There is no one currently in congress who will seriously oppose any Obama nomination.

In 2010, we must elect candidates that will restore checks and balances to the federal government. Elections have consequences. Don't blow it again in 2010!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Three Party System

I am very disappointed in the Republican party. For at least the past decade, Republicans have been acting more like Democrats and craven politicians instead of principled statesmen. I have been resisting a very strong inclination to ditch the Republicans and join (or hope someone will create) a worthy third party.

This country runs on a two party system. Third parties have never been successful. In fact, they virtually guarantee that the very worst candidate gets elected (as opposed to merely the second worst candidate). A much better solution -- requiring much less time, money and effort by the way -- is to revitalize the two party system.

The Republican party already has the name recognition, the communication channels, the financial backing and so on, to mount successful campaigns -- instead of splitting the conservative vote. Splitting the conservative vote is the last thing we want to do. The world isn't perfect (and politics is practically the least perfect thing of all). The best we can hope for is a tolerable compromise. We have to be grown-ups here, and accept that fate.

With patience and constant pressure, we can slowly return the Republican party to the principles for which it was named. Ronald Reagan did it in 1980. We just need to find the right leaders. Ron Paul and Glenn Beck are good men, but they will do this country more harm than good if they insist on forming a third party instead of reforming the Republican party. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

Instead of Republicans being more like Democrats (because they mistakenly perceive liberal politics to be more popular), Republicans should offer an alternative to Democrats. After all, given a choice between real Democrats and a Republican facsimile, people will generally go with the genuine article. People will vote for real conservatives if they're available on the ballot, and if they vigorously promote this country's founding principles.

The Bellingham Tea Party

Bellingham WA was one of the more than 500 cities nationwide that scheduled a "Tea Party" on tax day -- April 15 -- to protest the fiscal irresponsibility of congress, the federal budget and the tax policy. It was to run from 4:00PM to 6:00PM, during rush hour.

We expected about 200 to 400 people, but the estimates were more like 3000 - 4000. The Bellingham Herald said "more than 1500". They were technically correct, I guess. In Bellingham, the Tea Party extended down both sides of "The Guide" (the busiest street in town), as far as the eye could see.

It occurred to me at the time, that it is fairly unlikely that we have this many "extremists" in Bellingham. I think we were a bunch of regular people who are terrified of how completely out of control our government has become in such a short time.

That's me holding the "Rage Against the Kakistocracy" sign, promoting my blog.

That's me holding the "Uncle Sam 2009 is more oppressive than King George 1776 -- Any suggestions?" sign. By the way, we took these pictures before the official 4:00PM start time. Many more people arrived later, and the place was packed by 5:00PM.

The traffic driving through was very supportive, with honks, waves and thumbs up all around. During the entire event, I only heard one drive-by heckler shout "get a life!". I shouted "get a job", but he was already too far away.

I am struck, but not surprised by the hostile and dismissive attitude of the news media covering the Tea Parties, like this one:

Incidentally, Fox News had absolutely nothing to do with the organization of this Tea Party. I find it insulting that all the work that was done by local citizens to organize and get the word out is being attributed to Fox News, even if they are more sympathetic to us than CNN and the rest of the national media.

Speaking with the police officers who were assigned to crowd control, they said they had never seen a happier group. We were not angry, but we are determined to preserve the values that made this country great.

I was on the cleanup committee, and I am pleased to report that there was practically nothing -- nothing -- left behind after this massive gathering. My family and I walked the entire length of the event site (about six blocks), and found only a handful of plastic water bottles and a couple of fliers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Intolerance of the Left

A local business had volunteered space for a non-partisan sign making party for the non-partisan Bellingham Tea Party, until a large number of (leftist?) customers called and threatened to boycott. The business was forced to withdraw their offer or risk financial ruin.

Now, even though the sign making party and the Tea Party are non-partisan events, it is obvious that the values expressed are primarily conservative. However, I do have to ask: Do those in opposition to the sign making party and the Tea Party approve of the government spending our children's and our unborn grand children's earnings? Do they approve of less individual liberty and more government control? Do they believe that everyone should be forced by government to adopt their agenda against our will?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Uncle Sam 2009 More Oppressive than King George 1776

In just about every way imaginable, the US Government is more oppressive than King George was in 1776. Federal taxation amounts to more than 20% of the earnings of those who pay taxes, and that does not include things like social security and inflation, local and state taxes and fees. In his book Free to Choose, Milton Friedman estimated the actual number to be around 40% circa 1978. Some estimates give our tax rate as 1% in 1776 under King George, and it was somewhere in the range of 1 to 7% in the USA circa 1914.

We have far more rules and regulations than we had 50 years ago, 100 years ago, and certainly more than at the time of the founding of this nation. Rules and regulations translate directly into less individual liberty.

Every program the government implements, every "problem" the government attempts to solve, is a program or problem that We the People are not at liberty to address in a more imaginative (and potentially more profitable) way. Instead, we are obliged to pay for ever-increasing bureaucracy with ever-increasing taxation.

The American Revolution occurred because the founders wanted the liberty to solve their own problems and lead their own lives with all the inherent risks and benefits that entails. Politicians keep taking more and more power in small enough increments that We the People keep letting them. Well, it is time to take our liberty back. Power to the people!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Letter to the Bellingham Herald Newspaper

Dear Editor,

Our federal government has embarked on a power grab of unprecedented proportions in the history of this country. More government power means less individual liberty for everyone. The kakistocrats in congress and in the white house are spending my earnings, my children's earnings and their children's earnings, to solve problems that our generation, and our government, created.

The US government has assumed roles and responsibilities that the Constitution says are supposed to belong to We the People. Any regime that disregards the Constitution is untrustworthy and dangerous.

It is time to send a clear message to Washington DC that We the People want our money and our liberty back! Everyone please turn out for the Bellingham Tea Party, Wednesday April 15 (tax day) from 4PM to 6PM on the Guide Meridian (near Bellis Fair Parkway). Bring your entire family for some "serious" fun.

Karl Uppiano