Monday, February 19, 2018
Politics

DeWitt: Protester just might be making a point — this time

Brian Moore, once again, is making lots of noise, accomplishing nothing.

Moore, as you probably know, is our infamously futile antiwar protester, a perennial political candidate and perennial loser.

Some people will tell you a Socialist was elected president in 2008. They're wrong. Moore, 69, who lives in Spring Hill, was the Socialist Party's candidate for president that year. He barely got 6,000 votes.

And, really, it's not fair to say he has accomplished nothing in his political career. In his 2002 run for U.S. representative, he received more than 2 percent of the vote, presumably drawn from Democratic incumbent Karen Thurman, who lost by a hair to her Republican rival.

So, that's what Moore, the peacenik, did: He gave us former U.S. Rep Ginny Brown-Waite, super-hawk.

His latest political endeavor sounds as promising as selling wooden bats in an aluminum-bat world, which, it turns out, is Moore's current job; he's a sales representative for the Phoenix Bat Co.

That new cause is drone testing at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport. He's against it, naturally, and the organization he founded in 2002, NatureCoast Coalition for Peace and Justice, staged a demonstration at the airport office on Saturday.

When it was closed.

When the entire airport was just about deserted.

"I liked the symbolism," Moore said.

Liked it so much he'll hold another protest at the same place and at the same time, Saturday at 3 p.m.

The only support he seems to have is from other activists who wandered so far left or right that they wound up in the same political wasteland.

Shirley Miketinac will hold her own antidrone protest at 9 a.m. Saturday on the steps of the old Hernando County Courthouse. She's a Libertarian who expects to draw demonstrators from the Green Party and the tea party, she said.

What's wrong with these people? Can't they see that the county Aviation Authority's approach to drone testing is perfectly reasonable, prudent even?

All the authority has done is contact a Virginia-based defense contractor, TaSM LLC, to help it apply to be one of the Federal Aviation Administration's six testing sites. And all the FAA wants to do is see whether the unmanned drones can be used alongside conventional airplanes in restricted airspace.

Moore, Miketinac and their cohorts are fighting against something that will probably never happen. A quick Internet search reveals that Hernando has competition all over the country — little towns hoping that drone testing will turn their little airports into hubs of high-tech industry.

And shouldn't we hope along with them, given Hernando's need to develop itself as a hub of something other than failed residential developments?

Of course we should.

It's all so clear to Aviation Authority chairman Gary Schraut that he lumped antitesters in with "people who believed that the Wright brothers shouldn't be flying and that the world was flat."

Except that, if you look closely, you might see there are one or two issues to consider with drones. For example, check out this passage from a story about the potential for the civilian use of drones in the April issue of National Geographic:

"Since 2001, according to the Air Force, its three main (drones) — the Predator, Global Hawk, and Reaper — have been involved in at least 120 'mishaps,' 76 of which destroyed the drone. The statistics don't include drones operated by the other branches of the military or the CIA. Nor do they include drone attacks that accidentally killed civilians or U.S. or allied troops."

And isn't it possible that a local law enforcement agency will get so carried away with the snooping capacity of drones that it violates our civil rights?

And doesn't this mean that it's important to properly regulate drones and equally important to talk about their potential downside?

Yes, and Moore is doing just that. So you might want to hear him out, even if you don't agree with his call to ban drone testing in Hernando.

After all, Tuesday was the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the start of a war launched on false pretexts that would kill about 4,400 U.S. troops and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians, and cost American taxpayers roughly $2 trillion.

Moore and his coalition protested the war even before it began, back when they were called appeasers and compared to Neville Chamberlain.

He kept it up for years, holding his signs at the county's busiest intersections, enduring blaring horns, thumbs pointed down and middle fingers pointed up.

He did it because he thought he was right, and it turned out that he was.

What a loser!

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