February 27, 2007

Mail Me Money

Today, I received a letter from Hillary Rodham Clinton. The return address on the envelope was simply "Hillary Rodham Clinton. It was a fundraising letter for her presidential campaign, naturally. The letter's salutation is addressed to "Friend."

The letter contains a great many things. Jabs at the formerly Republican majority and the Bush administration. Allusions to the so-called American dream. Emphasis on the need for new leadership. Promises about "develop[ing] a coherent Iraq strategy" and "cutting the deficit and balancing the budget." Reminders of Clinton's experience and track-record in the Senate.

However, only two sentiments of the letter truly caught my attention, and both were rhetorical flairs in an otherwise uninspiring letter. The first is the subordinate clause: "After eight long years of an administration that created as many serious problems as it failed to resolve." This appears to be the most direct and arguably vicious attack in the letter, and it is added as a forethought to a rather boring main clause of the third sentence.

The second sentiment is actually a full paragraph describing her victory over Republican campaigns. The letter explains almost a hundred million dollars has been spent "against [her]" and she still won two "strong victories for the Senate." It also explains she received 60% of the vote in counties which were carried by Bush in New York. She says she knows "how Washington Republicans think, how they operate, and how to defeat them." She needs to stress this point because it seems many Democrats hesitate gravitating towards her because she is seen as too divisive.

The letter concludes with an appeal to the future of America. At the bottom of the last sheet, a post-script in what is presumably her handwriting declares, "Together, I know we can do this! Hillary." The evelope also contained a form for a donation attached to a small survey asking what the donor believes are the most important issues facing the nation.

This is the second fundraising letter I have received in the last few weeks. Not too long ago, I found a letter from the Cato Institute in my CPO box. While Hillary's letter was only three pages, the Cato Institute's letter reached a gargantuan eight pages. While the Cato Institute's smallest donation box was $50, Hillary's requested donations went as low as $25.

I'm not sure how either Hillary or Cato got my address, but I am highly amused that they both asked me for money. I would like to get unsolicited mail from more politicians running for President, though. I find it most interesting.

Posted by Randy at 10:44 PM | TrackBack

February 23, 2007

No Comment

"There is both incompetence and possible corruption in immigration services. As a Republican, I was upset."
--Congressman Louie Gohmert, discussing immigration, at an event hosted by the CDCL at LETU

Posted by Randy at 11:00 AM | TrackBack

February 20, 2007

Shooting Pain

A few weeks ago, news agencies reported the debut of a non-lethal heat-beaming weapon. Presumably, this Active Denial System (as it is called) is designed to disperse rioters or others causing problems without the occasional nasty problem of a rubber bullet to an eye. It can also be effective at long distances.

As I've been slacking on my news intake lately, I discovered this through my roommates. There seems to have been a unanimous "that's cool!" reaction to the technology that can inflict a severe burning sensation to anyone unfortunate enough to be in front of the ray. The pacifist in me even rejoices at the possible implementation of a "much-needed alternative to just going from 'shouting' to 'shooting.'"

However, something about the heat ray unsettled me, and I have been unable to discern the reason until today when I read an article on Slate. In addition to containing more information about the device, the story concludes with the following paragraphs that aptly summarize my unease:

But the ability to inflict pain without injury doesn't just make injury less necessary. It makes pain more essential to military operations—and easier to inflict. To achieve the desired "repel effect," I have to make you suffer. Knowing that your agony will be brief and leave no physical damage makes the weapon easier to fire. [ . . . ]

That's the metaphysical gap nonlethal energy weapons exploit. The rain of pain falls mainly in the brain. [ . . . ] Four months ago, Congress passed and President Bush signed legislation to prosecute torture, defined as intentional infliction of "serious physical or mental pain or suffering." But that rule applies only in captivity. On the street, pain administration won't be a crime. It'll be a policy.

Two weeks from now, military leaders will convene in London to discuss the pain beam and the next generation of directed-energy weapons, including microwaves and lasers. Law enforcement agencies are interested. Raytheon is already advertising the technology for commercial applications. We're even developing a "personnel halting and stimulation response" system—yes, a PHaSR—to stun targets instead of killing them. But don't worry, nobody will get hurt. Sort of.
(emphasis mine)

While I believe non-lethal force is undoubtedly better than the alternative, I find the infliction of pain as a "policy" to be rather disturbing and ripe for potential abuse.

Posted by Randy at 05:42 PM | TrackBack