Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
To the people who believe Rand Paul will deliver this country from the so-called progressives I have only one question, where is your messiah now:
At a lunch Friday with about a dozen evangelical pastors in a Cedar Rapids hotel, the younger Paul assured the group that he disagrees with libertarians who support legalizing drugs. When one pastor inquired about ideological ties between Paul and his father, the senator asked that he be judged as his own man.
In an interview a day before his Iowa trip, Paul, 50, also tried to make clear just what kind of politician he is. “To some, ‘libertarian’ scares people,” he said. “Some of them come up to me and they say, ‘I kind of like you, but I don’t like legalizing heroin.’ And I say, ‘Well, that’s not my position.’ ”
Paul said he believes in freedom and wants a “virtuous society” where people practice “self-restraint.” Yet he believes in laws and limits as well. Instead of advocating for legalized drugs, for example, he pushes for reduced penalties for many drug offenses.
If Rand Paul is your plan B for delivering this country from tyranny then it’s time to start working on your plan C. The man is a politician who prioritizes power over principle. He doesn’t want to deliver this country from tyranny he merely wants to be in charge of the tyranny.
Brick and mortar stores have been begging the state to give them some kind of protection against online retailers for years now, and the Senate has seen fit to grant that protection:
WASHINGTON — The Senate sided with traditional retailers and financially strapped state and local governments Monday by passing a bill that would widely subject online shopping — for many a largely tax-free frontier — to state sales taxes.
The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 69 to 27, getting support from Republicans and Democrats alike. But opposition from some conservatives who view it as a tax increase will make it a tougher sell in the House. President Barack Obama has conveyed his support for the measure.
The brick and mortar stores played it safe and offered the state a method of protectionism that benefited themselves and the state, taxation. Online retailers have so far avoided requirements to collect sales taxes in states they lack a physical presence in. This bill would change that, which would require online retailers to know the sales tax laws of every individual state in order to collect the appropriate amount.
A far better solution, if evening the playing field was really what brick and mortar stores were after, would have been to lobby for the abolition of sales taxes. But leveling the playing field wasn’t what those stores were after, they wanted to make it difficult for online retailers to operate, hence they lobbied for a law that would require online retailers to know the tax laws of all 50 states. Imagine the strain such a requirement will put on very small online retailers. If you’re operating an online business by yourself are you going to be able to familiarize yourself with the tax codes of 50 separate states? This law really stands to put those small operators out of business, which is probably why Amazon supported the legislation. Sure, Amazon many have to pay money in taxes, but it will also crush small competitors in the process.
An online sales tax is nothing but a victory for protectionism.
If you pay any attention to Minnesota politics you probably know two things: Minnesota doesn’t appear to follow any specific political philosophy and our passive aggressive nature makes any political debate very boring. The person many Minnesotans refer to as Governor (I’m not sure why they all use that title, I think it’s supposed to indicate the person is a psychopath or crook or something), Mark Dayton, decided to hold a public meeting in Shakopee and wasn’t happy about the way he was treated. A few weeks ago the politicians in St. Paul decided to give themselves a 35 percent raise. As you can guess the people stuck footing the bill for the politicians’ salaries, the tax victims, weren’t overly happy. During his meeting in Shakopee Dayton tried to justify the raise and was appropriately heckled by the audience:
As he was explaining why, the audience heckled and interrupted him.
“Let me just finish,” he objected, according to video recorded by the Minnesota Jobs Coalition. “I’ve been all over the state and I’ve never had people behave this rudely. You know, if you want to say something, raise your hand and get a mic.”
Asked about the comment, the governor said on Tuesday that members of the audience did not just disagree with him they displayed “very juvenile kind of behavior,” which reminded him of the 9th graders he taught in a New York City public school decades ago.
“It was rude and if they can’t handle the truth, they can’t handle the truth, but that’s the truth as I perceived it,” Dayton said. He added that the audience applauded when he hushed the crowd, one of the few points of unanimity at the event.
Responses to the incident have been mixed but seem to be leaning towards disapproval, as you would expect from a state where people refuse to openly state their disagreements. A lot of people believe that politics is serious business and must only be conducted in the most bland lawyerly manner. Anybody who shows even an inkling of disrespect while discussing politics is derided and told that such behavior is unbecoming of civilized people (yet stealing more money from tax victims is somehow regarded as civilized behavior, go figure).
Fuck that. I hereby endorse the actions of the hecklers at Shakopee. The people were rightly pissed and being spoon-fed bullshit. Why should the audience act “civilized” under such conditions? Furthermore why should anybody be expected to show respect to a politicians? Politicians are little more than mobsters. They demand “protection” money and will kidnap you if you refuse to pay it, always try to take a cut of whatever economic activity is occurring on their turf, and claim their actions are legitimate because a bunch of people showed up to polling places and filled in an oval next to their name. In fact politicians are even worse than mobsters because mobsters usually admit that they’re stealing.
In fact I believe we’re taking this politics thing far too seriously. Listening to most people discuss political matters would lead you to believe such discussions actually mattered. The reality of the political system is that the state doesn’t listen to us mere peasants and does whatever it feels like doing. When somebody becomes too big of a thorn in the state’s side they have him kidnapped or killed and write off their act of malice as being legal and therefore, somehow, legitimate. This is why I prefer political discussions involved the Internet. Instead of a bunch of people discussing politic matters in a super serious fashion you get things like this:
Image swiped from Facebook.
Yes, that is a cat holding a gold Desert Eagle riding a fire breathing unicorn. That’s a political argument on the Internet and it’s far more productive than most political discussions in real life because you actually have something to show after the discussion concludes. That picture is awesome to look at in any context. Hell I want that picture on a poster so I can hang it in my living room.
I believe that Internet-based political discussions are more jovial because underneath the discussion is an implication that the situation will be worked around. Most of the real life political discussions I’ve been a party to involve people looking for political solutions. They discuss running or supporting candidates, introducing legislation, and playing within the rules set by the state. Denizens of the Internet generally discuss ways of bypassing new legislation. Sure, there are calls for writing congress critters but there are also people working on technology that renders proposed laws irrelevant. An Internet sales tax, for example, can be defeated by anonymizing transactions. Silk Road uses Tor hidden services and Bitcoin to bypass laws on drugs that haven’t received the state’s blessing. The proposed Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) can be rendered powerless with proper cryptography.
I think the general tendency to focus on practical solutions allows a great deal of the Internet to see politics for what it really is, a joke. It’s unfortunate that more people don’t see this. The people of Shakopee obviously realize that Dayton’s visit was mere lip service meant to shut the peasantry up and they acted accordingly. Those people should be applauded and looked at as an example of how political discussions should be held. What can I say, I’m a fan of calling a spade a spade and treating a joke as a joke.
I’ve made my views on intellectual property well known at this point. Due to these views I was contacted by a friend who asked me if I wanted to participate in starting a Minnesota chapter of the Pirate Party. For those of you who aren’t aware the Pirate Party isn’t a unified organization but a loose knit affiliation of mostly political parties that focus on civil liberties, direct democracy, and reforming intellectual property laws. Being an anarchist of the individualist persuasion I don’t give a shit about direct democracy (or any kind of democracy for that matter) but I am a big fan of civil liberties and an even bigger fan of abolishing intellectual property laws. In addition to my desire to abolish intellectual property laws I’m also a fan of beer, which I was promised will play a major part in the Minnesota Pirate Party.
Obviously I’m not going to involve myself in the political side of things but I like the people starting this group and the offer sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll post more as we get the groundwork laid out but I thought I would let you all know that the Pirate Party is coming to Minnesota and, if I have any say in the matter, will be bringing the message of abolishing intellectual property with it.
Politicians are notorious liars, cheaters, and thieves. However once in a great while you catch one of these vile creatures being honest about how they feel. Most of the time these brief glimpses of honesty result in shock and disgust from the general populace, even though most of them seem to realize what manner of beast politicians are. Tommy Tucker, a congress critter from North Carolina, recently expressed his personal beliefs to the public:
Sen. Tommy Tucker of Waxhaw said a mouthful with just 13 words on Tuesday.
“I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.”
It was no coincidence that Tucker’s silencing of an N.C. newspaper publisher – heard by at least three people who were there – came just after he railroaded a bill through his committee that would let government operate in more secrecy.
Mr. Tucker is the manner lord and your are but mere serfs. Shut your filthy holes before he has you drug out to the public square and hanged. While the views expressed by Mr. Tucker may seem odd coming from a so-called representative they are most likely shared with most of his cohorts. One need only look at the laws being passed in the United States to see how the political body views non-state agents. It seems that every law passed expands the state’s power in some manner and restricts the legal actions available to non-state agents. If anything Mr. Tucker should be thanked for his willingness to be honest. Were more politicians honest about their beliefs it’s likely that things in this country would begin to change for the better.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is coming up for a vote. If it passes it will create a tighter marriage between the state and service providers. It will also be a boon for the technology industry because the passage of the legislation will also mean the need for new software for agencies and service providers to share data with one another, which is why so many major technology companies support the bill. Besides the state and politically well-connected technology companies everybody else will suffer. In a political stunt likely aimed at generating some positive feedback Mr. Obama has said he will veto CISPA if it passes:
As an amended version of CISPA nears a vote on the House floor, the White House has once again stated that it has fundamental problems with the cybersecurity bill in its current form. In an official policy statement, the Obama Administration said that lawmakers had not addressed several issues regarding information-sharing and privacy, and that “if the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.” Instead, it urged a continuing dialog between Congress and the President in order to create a more acceptable version.
We’ve witnessed Obama’s veto threat before when the indefinite detainment clause of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was up for a vote. As it turned out the threat was only made because he was worried he wouldn’t get as many additional powers as he wanted. I’m guessing CISPA’s current form doesn’t give the executive branch enough power so the threat of a veto has been made until more power is handed over.
Speaking of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), it appears that executives from IBM are heading to Washington DC to lobby in favor of passing the bill:
Nearly 200 senior IBM executives are flying into Washington to press for the passage of a controversial cybersecurity bill that will come up for a vote in the House this week.
The IBM executives will pound the pavement on Capitol Hill Monday and Tuesday, holding nearly 300 meetings with lawmakers and staff. Over the course of those two days, their mission is to convince lawmakers to back a bill that’s intended to make it easier for industry and government to share information about cyber threats with each other in real time.
IBM has a history of helping governments collect data on their citizens. Considering the consequences of their last marriage with the state I should be surprised by this news. But we all know that there is big money in selling customer data to the state. It’s always disappointing when a technology company sells computer users down the river. Fortunately CISPA is irrelevant thanks to cryptography technology.
For some time the United States government has been beating the cyber war drum. We’re lead to believe that foreign nations are going to hack into all of the nation’s networks and cause destruction and mayhem. In fact, according to Mike Rogers, the scary foreign hackers are already inside of your computers:
The House Intelligence Committee is warning that “time is running out” before the next major cyberattack: The Russians, Iranians, Chinese and others are likely already on your computer.
“You have criminal organizations trying to get into your personal computer and steal your personal stuff. And by the way, the Chinese are probably on your computer, the Russians are probably on your personal computer, the Iranians are already there,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R.-MI). told Fox News.
One is left to wonder what Mr. Rogers means by the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians. Does he means hackers living in those countries or agents of those countries’ governments? From his statement I’m left to believe he means the government agents of those countries. In all likelihood nobody inside of the governments of Russia, China, or Iran give two shits about the data on your personal computer. There are two things to consider: breaking into a computer requires effort and having access to all data on all personal computers would leave one with so much data to sift through that their efforts would be rendered worthless. If the Russians, Chinese, or Iranians are going to sink resources into compromising systems they are probably going to expect a good payoff. Breaking into one of my systems isn’t going to give them much of value so they are unlikely to sink resources into attempting to compromise my systems. Most of your are likely in the same boat as me. The real threat to most people are regular malicious hackers who want to create botnets. Those hackers generally work for themselves or a non-state crime syndicate.
I believe it’s also worth pointing out the language Mr. Rogers used. He said the Russians and Chinese are probably in your computer but knows for a fact that the Iranians already are. Isn’t it strange that the nation the United States government has been trying to declare war on for the last several decades is known, for a fact, to be in your computer but the most technologically advanced nation of the three, China, is potentially in your computer? It’s almost as if Mr. Rogers is trying to drum up fear of Iran specifically.
We all know what this is about though:
Rogers believes the Cyber Intelligence and Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) can help counter that threat. The bill was introduced last year and passed the House, though it failed to make it through the Senate following a groundswell of concern from privacy activists.
Be afraid you stupid serfs! Allow us in the state to pass laws that grant us the ability to spy on your communications so we can protect you from the scary people are aren’t from around here!
What Rogers wants is the legal ability for the United States government to compromise your system. He wants the exact thing he’s using to strike fear into the hearts of Americans. Computers are a good tool for the state to use to generate fear. A majority of computer users lack a good understanding of the underlying technology and people tend to fear what they don’t understand. This is why foreign states are also good tools to use to generate fear, most Americans have very little knowledge of foreign countries. Combining the two makes for a very effective tool to generate fear that can be used to sucker the public into supporting most government control over their lives.
The hardest part about identifying as a libertarian is how poorly the general population understands the term. Here in the United States the term is generally applied to any self-declared conservative or Republican that pays lip service to small government, civil liberties, and the need for being fiscally conservative. Unfortunately the core of libertarianism, the non-aggression principle, is almost unknown outside of libertarian circles. This is why a man like Rand Paul gets called a libertarian:
Led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), libertarians hope to become a dominant wing of the GOP by tapping into a potent mix of war weariness, economic anxiety and frustration with federal overreach in the fifth year of Barack Obama’s presidency.
I fail to see how a man who voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the amendment to the NDAA that placed additional sanctions on Iran, provided funding for a neoconservative that stated women rarely become pregnant from rape and wants to based policies on said statement, introduced meaningless drone legislation, and endorsed Mitt Romney is going to lead libertarianism in any way. Heck, Rand Paul doesn’t even consider himself a libertarian:
“They thought all along that they could call me a libertarian and hang that label around my neck like an albatross, but I’m not a libertarian,” Paul says between Lasik surgeries at his medical office, where his campaign is headquartered, with a few desks crammed between treatment rooms.
Unlike his father, Rand isn’t a libertarian and we would all do well to stop referring to him as such.
What is commonly referred to as the religious right never cease to entertain me. A group of most zealous lawmakers in North Carolina have decided to spit in the fact of United States legal history (good on them) by introducing legislation that would allow their fine state to declare an official religion:
Republican North Carolina state legislators have proposed allowing an official state religion in a measure that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings.
The bill, filed Monday by two GOP lawmakers from Rowan County and backed by nine other Republicans, says each state “is sovereign” and courts cannot block a state “from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.” The legislation was filed in response to a lawsuit to stop county commissioners in Rowan County from opening meetings with a Christian prayer, wral.com reported.
Although these lawmakers don’t acknowledge her existence, the goddess Eris smiles favorable upon them. Through their single minded attempts to establish order by forcing everybody to abide by their religious beliefs these lawmakers are creating untold amounts of discord. If these bills manage to advance in any way they will almost certainly lead to massive protests full of angry people on both sides shouting at one another. Maneuvers like this also sow seeds of doubt in the minds of those who oppose state established religion. Were this bill to pass opponents of state established religion would have one more reason to view the state as illegitimate. Since the state is the greatest producer of order any strike against it will surely please Eris.