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The “Inclusive & Tolerant” Left

This guy won't talk to me anymore.It’s been a few months now, but this has been eating at my craw for some time and recent events have reminded me just how close-minded people with left-leaning political tendencies can be. Before getting into particulars, a little about the technology business in general. Well, my experience with people in the technology business anyway.

The bulk of the tech business is, of course, centered in and around the San Francisco area. One nuke would wipe out Intel, Apple, Cisco, Google…you get my point. Other tech strongholds are Seattle, home of Microsoft, Austin where Dell, Apple and others have big facilities and New York because it’s New York and that’s where the money is. If you overlay a political map on these areas, you’ll find they are all colored blue.

I own a home in downtown Seattle where I like to spend summers to escape from the Houston heat and humidity. Being a Mac fanatic and an Apple developer, I’ve made more pilgrimages to San Francisco for Macworld Expo and WWDC than I can count. Austin is just a couple hours away and I have lots of friends and family there. I’ve also made many trips to Round Rock (Dell’s headquarters just minutes from downtown Austin) while performing my job as an IT manager. So, I consider myself very familiar with these areas and I must admit to being guarded about my Libertarian political views when visiting. Nothing will get you ostracized faster than having the unmitigated gall to disagree with a liberal.

I’m a proud Texan. Born in Houston, I’ve lived here all my life. My beautiful wife is a New Orleans girl. We met about midway through our careers in the energy business. In Texas, energy means oil. We both worked for the biggest oil company in the world and our paths crossed at one of its chemical plants just outside Houston. She is a mechanical engineer and I am a systems engineer. After we wed in1995, she progressed through upper management on her way to an executive position with the company. I changed companies and went on to become an IT manager with another Fortune 500 firm before starting my own company in 2008. Today we are financially secure, both retired for over two years and both of us are a couple years shy of 60. The point of all this is that by any measure, I think most anyone would consider us reasonably intelligent, well-educated and successful.

So, why would a left-leaning person reject my opinion out of hand and refuse to discuss it openly and honestly? Case in point: A few months back there was a big kerfuffle when Dropbox named Condoleezza Rice to their board. It’s quite common for big corporations to name Washington insiders to their boards in order to have and insight into what’s happening with our federal government. Some want government contracts, some want favorable regulation and some just want an ear to the Washington tracks. Al Gore has been on Apple’s board for years. The problem for Dropbox is that they picked a Washington insider with the wrong ideology, at least wrong according to the vast majority of people in the technology business. She came from the Bush administration where she served as National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State. Rightly or wrongly she has been widely denounced as the person who approved water boarding as an interrogation method for use by the CIA and U.S. Military. Some say she only relayed the wishes of her boss, George Bush while others think the whole thing was entirely her baby. Either way, the left has demonized her to point of being ridiculous. Today as we watch videos of public beheadings, people being drowned in cages and others set on fire and burned to death, it’s hard to understand how someone approving water boarding to interrogate the perpetrators of these types of crimes could deserve such vitriol. But I digress. The leftists of the tech world got their panties in a wad when Ms. Rice was named to Dropbox’s board of directors. Twitter went wild with nasty comments about Dropbox and many even called for a boycott of their product. One such techie was Chris Breen. He held a longtime position with Macworld as a tech journalist and I was a big fan of his regular columns. I met him two or three times at Macworld Expo and attended a couple of his sessions. I always found him pleasant and friendly and he is obviously well informed about all things Mac. Over the years we held a couple of Twitter conversations regarding technical issues and I found him to be very generous with his knowledge. I would describe our relationship as cordial. That’s why I was completely flabbergasted to learn he blocked me on Twitter.

I’ve come to take the west coast techie leftism for granted. Personally, I could care less, but I did think the outcry calling for a Dropbox boycott was a bit disingenuous. I tweeted to Mr. Breen that I was certainly no fan of Condoleezza Rice, but I also pointed out how difficult life would be if we boycotted every company who had a board member we disagreed with politically. I stated that if we did so we would be forced to grow our own food and refine our own gasoline. I also reminded him of what the left purports as a couple of its bedrock principles, tolerance and inclusion. He promptly tweeted back that he was glad my tolerance extended to torture. Before I could reply he blocked me. Now, to me, that’s the Twitter equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling, “Na, Na, Na, Na. I can’t hear you!” Am I too far off base here? Didn’t think so. To me, blocking someone after a long history of pleasant and informative conversations just because of a single philosophical disagreement is nothing short of childish. The disagreement couldn’t even be remotely considered heated. Certainly no harsh words were exchanged nor even considered on my part. Oh well, I guess Mr. Breen and I learned something about each other.

Mr. Breen learned that the MacTexan is not a liberal in the classic sense. He also learned I’m someone who points out disingenuous behavior when I see it and I learned Mr. Breen doesn’t have the fortitude to have a conversation with someone with a conflicting view. I truly feel sorry for him and his like. How terrible it must be experiencing a life with all divergent views filtered out because they are considered stupid and intolerable. I’ll bet this whole Trump thing really has him chapped. I guess I’ll never know for sure. I’m still blocked, but leftist behavior is fairly easy to predict.

Oh well. I guess I’ll take my “stupid and intolerable” views with me into retirement. Yes, my wife and I are so stupid we’ve managed to retire in our mid-fifties with more than enough to live very comfortably for thirty years or so. Last I heard, the morally and intellectually superior Mr. Breen is still going to work every day. Not for Macworld. I heard he went to work for Apple. I truly wish him well and hope he prospers.

I’ll bet he still uses Dropbox, too.


Thank You Edward Snowden

I spent the last couple of weeks in Europe (The Netherlands and France to be specific) and followed the Edward Snowden saga on BBC and CNN International. When I got home, the American networks made me wonder if I was following the same story. Suffice it to say, the US and European stories contrast significantly. In Europe, Mr. Snowden was portrayed as a whistleblower who's conscience forced him to abandon his life (and lucrative career) to do what he thought he must to protect the privacy of his fellow citizens. Here in the "Land of the free", the press and politicians treat him like a despicable traitor of the John Walker/Benedict Arnold ilk.
It's been kind of funny watching the newsies get all twisted up about the latest "traitor" in our midst (Well, kinda. He's bugged out to Russia at the moment.) For the life of me, I can't get upset with Mr. Snowden. It would be different if he were some introverted nutjob hacking government computers from his mother's basement, but everything I've learned tells me he's just the opposite. Mr. Snowden is(was) an industrious, semi-genius thirty-something working a highly technical job contracting for a tech firm that does work for one or more government security agencies. He walked away from a six-figure gig in Hawaii because his conscience wouldn't let him stand by while our benevolent government spied on its own law-abiding citizens. I wish there were a few hundred more just like him scattered about in the various alphabet soup agencies who've taken it upon themselves to wipe their collective butts with our Constitution.
Taken alone, the Snowden story would be big, but in the context of other current events involving misbehaving government agencies, it may become the "final straw" for the American people. That is, if any of them are paying attention . A big "if", I know (I'm not holding my breath). Without doing any research, I can think of a few incidents off the top of my head. Let's see, 1) the IRS is being used as a political weapon to target opponents of the current administration with audits, fines and a number of other harassments, 2) the GAO says "Obamacare" will raise insurance premiums as much as 88%, 3) the national debt is turning our dollar into something resembling a peso, 4) the "Patriot Act" gets extended by our feckless congress allowing the government to treat us like criminals at airports, imprison and spy on us without due process and...
You get the point.
Now Edward Snowden witnesses first hand what he reports as criminal spying on law-abiding American citizens and decides to do something about it. I repeat. Thank you Mr. Snowden.

A "Dear John" Letter to Uncle Sam

My love, 

My heart is heavy today, and it pains me to write you this letter.

Our relationship isn't working out for me anymore. We seem to be going in two different directions. We want different things. So as hard as this is to do, I'm leaving.

I know it hurts. And I wish I could ease your pain by saying something like, "It's not you, it's me." But I can't say that. It is you… entirely you… 100%.

You've changed. You're no longer kind, supportive, and protective – all the traits I fell in love with so many years ago. Instead, you've become untrusting, ungrateful, and abusive. And I can't take it anymore.

You used to trust me. I could go almost anywhere and do almost anything. I could experience everything that life had to offer. No matter what I did, you understood it would benefit both of us.

But now I found out you've been checking my cell phone and monitoring my e-mails. You watch the activity in my bank accounts, and on my credit card statements. You even keep track of what I buy on Amazon.

I know you've been hurt before. So I put up with some of your intrusions. But now it's just too much.

You used to let me dream. Remember… we called it our "American Dream." Whatever I wanted to do, and whoever I wanted to be, you said it was possible. And you would give me the freedom to pursue it.

That's not true anymore. I need to ask for your approval before I do anything. I need to follow your instructions, adhere to your guidelines, and obey your rules. Oh sure, I can still dream. But now it has to be your version of the dream, not mine… not ours… and certainly not "American." 

And the real kicker is that even if I somehow still manage to overcome the burdens you piled on my shoulders, and make my own dream come true, you have the nerve to brag to your friends, "See, he couldn't have done it without me." 

And I haven't even mentioned the money issues yet…

At first, you didn't ask for much from me… just enough to fund a little project or two. I didn't mind back then. You had our mutual best interest at heart, and you seemed to appreciate my willingness to help out.

But over the years, you gradually asked for more. And I willingly gave, even though I thought some of what you were using the money for was wasteful and even a bit silly. I never doubted your integrity or your honesty when you said "this will benefit both of us." 

Of course, that was a lie. You took my money and gave it to your friends. You wasted it on things we don't need and can't afford. You maxed out our credit cards with your foolish schemes. And all the money you claimed to put aside for our retirement is gone.

What's worse is that now when I come home with my paycheck, you're just sitting there at the table with your hand out. No matter how much I give you, it isn't enough. You sneer at me and demand that I give you more. Then you turn all of our friends against me by telling them I'm greedy and unwilling to pay my fair share.

Frankly, I don't know why I've put up with this abuse for so long. I should have left you years ago. But I thought you could change. You promised me four years ago you would. And you made the same promise eight years before that.

But you won't change. You're incapable of it.

As long as I'm around, you'll remain untrusting, ungrateful, and abusive. You'll get worse and worse until your actions finally destroy us both. So for the good of both of us, I'm leaving.

I'm leaving so that I'll be free to enjoy the God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That's what we talked about when we first got together so many years ago. I still believe it's possible… But I'm not sure I can do it with you.

You aren't the same as before.

Without me around to enable your behavior, perhaps you'll finally see what you've become. Maybe then you can finally change.

For your sake, I only hope when that happens it's not too late.


The 1%


Police State:

Retired Marine Involuntarily Detained for Posting Something the Government Didn't Like on Facebook

(Say Goodbye to the First Amendment!)

If you doubt the government is trampling on private citizens' civil rights, watch this! This video speaks for itself.


Big Brother is Watching (and Smelling) You

Wired just published a great piece about the government's use of aerial drones and dogs to circumvent warrants. Seems with the wars winding down there's a glut of unmanned aerial surveillance that federal, state and even local law enforcement can afford in bulk. The government uses these things to spy on us with no probable cause. Oh yeah, the same way a police dog can sniff your bags or your car without a warrant. Check out the full story here.Drones. Not just for combatants any more.