Facebook reminded me that I wrote the following 4 years ago today. The point seems even more applicable now than it did four years ago…
Today’s attack against the Republican baseball team by someone apparently angry because of his opposing political ideology is an example of why we need to change our rhetoric. We need to stop acting as if those whom we disagree with are the enemy. At times we may disagree. At times those whom we disagree with might be genuinely wrong, even. The problem is when we take “I disagree” or “I think you are wrong” and turn it into “I think you are evil.”
As Christians, we are called by Christ to lead the way on this: when we interact in the political sphere or anywhere else, we should have our words filled with Christ’s love, even when we must disagree.
Barring some surprising twist as key states recount votes, it appears we are going to have a new resident in the White House come January. I am going to write the exact same thing I posted on Facebook almost two weeks ago about Justice Barrett’s confirmation:
If you are celebrating the election of Vice President Biden as the next President, please pray for him (and Sen. Harris, too). If you are upset about the election of Vice President Biden, please pray for him (and Sen. Harris, too). We desperately need to spend more time praying for our leaders than politicking over them.
This is very much what the Bible commanded us to do over the last four years for President Trump and Vice President Pence, and it is what it will continue to command us to do for President Biden and Vice President Harris (1 Tim. 2:2, 1 Pet. 2:17).
Too often, my own heart wants to pray for and respect leaders who are in the party I choose and not “the other party.” I (and I suspect most of us) need to constantly be repenting of that.
Every time the White House switches parties, it is good to do a check to see if we are aligning with the Scripture’s call to give honor to and pray for our leaders. If my intentions about prayer and honor change as the administration changes, I have either been sinning or am about to be sinning (perhaps both!).
We shouldn’t honor and pray for President Trump and then stop when we arrive at President Biden. Likewise, if we’ve been failing to honor and pray for President Trump, we shouldn’t just start with the next administration, we should repent and pray for the forty-fifth president even as the time is fast approaching for a forty-sixth president.
I shared more on these matters in my message for Little Hills this past week, prior to the election. It’s embedded below for anyone interested in digging more into what Scripture says on these things.
A fascinating op-ed in the New York Times from Malte Spitz:
In Germany, whenever the government begins to infringe on individual freedom, society stands up. Given our history, we Germans are not willing to trade in our liberty for potentially better security. Germans have experienced firsthand what happens when the government knows too much about someone. In the past 80 years, Germans have felt the betrayal of neighbors who informed for the Gestapo and the fear that best friends might be potential informants for the Stasi. Homes were tapped. Millions were monitored.
Those last two, short sentences sound familiar?
Three weeks ago, when the news broke about the National Security Agency's collection of metadata in the United States, I knew exactly what it meant. My records revealed the movements of a single individual; now imagine if you had access to millions of similar data sets. You could easily draw maps, tracing communication and movement. You could see which individuals, families or groups were communicating with one another. You could identify any social group and determine its major actors.
All of this is possible without knowing the specific content of a conversation, just technical information ”” the sender and recipient, the time and duration of the call and the geolocation data.
The whistleblower, who revealed the shockingly disturbing surveillance techniques that the National Security Administration has been engaging in, has revealed himself as Edward Snowden.
For him, it is a matter of principle. “The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to,” he said.
I'm sure the government will go after him. I hope the public makes it clear it won't tolerate the government doing so.
The tragic case of Aaron Schwartz keeps getting more tragic and infuriating:
Middlesex County's district attorney had planned no jail time, “with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally questionable manner,” the report said. “Tragedy intervened when Ortiz's office took over the case to send 'a message.'”
Ortiz's clearly self-promoting motives come into clearer focus as the article goes on to describe another one of her current cases:
Ortiz, 57, also came under fire this week for her attempt to seize a family-owned motel in Tewksbury, Mass., for allegedly facilitating drug crimes, despite ample evidence that the owners worked closely with local police. In a stinging rebuke, U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Dein tossed out the case yesterday, siding with the motel owners — represented by the public-interest law firm Institute for Justice — and noting that prosecutors had alleged a mere “15 specific drug-related incidents” over a 14-year period during which “the Motel Caswell rented out approximately 196,000 rooms.”
We need to reform our technology laws and ensure that they protect innovation, but with an eye to protecting people first. It might not be the sort of thing that gets people motivated to go to the polls, but we desperately need copyright and patent reform to end situations like the one that apparently convinced Schwartz he had no better alternative than to kill himself.
Conor Friedersdorf reports:
Asked who won the town hall between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, Los Angelenos were emphatic. The problem: The event hadn't yet happened.
Frightening and yet seemingly completely in agreement with my own experience discussing candidates with people.
I've been rather surprised to see numerous comments this election cycle about Rasmussen's alleged Republican bias in polling data. This was a surprise to me, since I've always found Rasmussen's polling rather accurate, probably in no small part because of Rasmussen's finely tuned robocalling strategy. The rationale for the alleged bias — other than the higher numbers Republicans sometimes receive in Rasmussen's polling — seems to be two-fold: Scott Rasmussen provides analysis for Fox News and is known to be a Republican.
The first issue is circular, since Rasmussen's alleged bias factors into the analysis of Fox News's own bias. Is Alan Colmes biased towards Republicans, too? The second issue is a red herring. Every pollster is biased, but that doesn't really have anything to do with his data unless his data is shown to be inaccurate. A Fordham University professor looked at 20 major polls to see which one most accurately reflected the actual results of the 2008 Presidential Election and found Rasmussen and Pew to be the only ones to match the real results. Rasmussen consistently showed McCain-Palin as stronger than the other polls did, but that wasn't a bias — it was an accurate prediction of how actual voting would go.
I personally don't follow pollsters because I agree or disagree with them, but because I think this or that one gives me better data. Isn't that what most folks (other than a politicos looking to gain momentum) want from polling data?
Quoth Lesa Jansen:
It's still a mystery why President Barack Obama was holding a baseball bat during his telephone conversation with Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan earlier this week. An official White House photo shows the president with the bat in one hand and a phone in the other.
What was it Teddy Roosevelt said again?
A We the People Petition on the White House web site aims to involve the president in the debate around the TSA's full body scanners. The petition reads:
In July 2011, a federal appeals court ruled that the Transportation Security Administration had to conduct a notice-and-comment rulemaking on its policy of using “Advanced Imaging Technology” for primary screening at airports. TSA was supposed to publish the policy in the Federal Register, take comments from the public, and justify its policy based on public input. The court told TSA to do all this “promptly.” A year later, TSA has not even started that public process. Defying the court, the TSA has not satisfied public concerns about privacy, about costs and delays, security weaknesses, and the potential health effects of these machines. If the government is going to “body-scan” Americans at U.S. airports, President Obama should force the TSA to begin the public process the court ordered.
Since I signed earlier today, I've seen several thousand more signatures go on the record. We need 17,331 more to “require” the president to respond to this petition.
Thom Holwerda over at OSNews is bit overzealous in his campaign against patent enforcement — he'll defend companies that are blatantly and directly copying Apple in ways that are totally unnecessary — but his list of suggested patent reforms has a lot of good ideas. Most notably, this:
Patent applications must be accompanied by a working prototype that must be presented, in person, by the inventor listed on the application, to the patent office. This makes it impossible to file patents on ideas that have not yet been implemented or productised, and will serve to greatly reduce the number of vague and/or bogus applications.
The payoff is clear: so-called “patent trolls,” whose main business is extorting money out of actually productive companies by patenting often obvious ideas and then waiting to find someone to sue, would have to either start being productive themselves or move on. In some sense I can see a working prototype requirement as being too steep for high tech patents, after all, an inventor may wish to have the protection of a patent before seeking manufacturing partners. On the other hand, perhaps a compromise would be to require those requesting a patent to produce a working prototype within a certain probationary patent window or face loss of the patent.
Similarly, Thom is right that software patents can be stunningly vague and that such overly broad patents should be rejected. Nonetheless, I do not think the solution is to eliminate software patents entirely, but require them to be restricted to a particular implementation of an idea, not a broad concept that can be achieved via many different methods.