Saturday, November 26, 2011


Those who wish to rule must rue that the government ever created the internet. It has, since it branched beyond military use, become a big thorn in the side of the political class. In terms of shopping, it has enabled people to bypass sales taxes and to find bargains from a great distance as well as purchase used items at deep discounts on sites such as eBay. In terms of news it has allowed non-mainstream providers and their audience to find each other, and allowed greater dissemination of stories that the mainstream media would prefer to bury. In terms of law enforcement, incidents of an individual being mistreated are no longer considered isolated incidents local to one area but are instead indicative of a pattern with each new "isolated incident" feeding into the general outrage of the people being mistreated by the police. In terms of political activism, it has created the Ron Paul campaign as well as other issue focused campaigns that in the past would have died for lack of coverage.

Various attempts at "net neutrality" have been a topic of conversation, in which the cover of safeguarding the net is used to control the net. While there is some merit to some aspects of the discussion in favor of net neutrality measures, the discussion as a whole lacks much merit. It is obvious by the way the internet was constructed that it was a government project initially, as the methods of allocating bandwith are somewhat crude compared to how one might design the internet if one was starting from scratch.

But "net neutrality" keeps getting a justified defeat, so false claims of fairness have proven to be far insufficient. So in the name of stopping piracy a bill has been introduced to congress that will effectively shut down large swaths of the internet for those who access in the United States. It is the Stop Internet Privacy Act. A better, although more biased and more vulgar link can be found here although it would be a bad idea to open that link at work.

This bill has the potential to, in the name of stopping piracy, shut down many sites that contribute the value to the internet today. Any site that has user-provided content is at severe risk lest one of the users provides copy-righted content. If the content falls under fair use, the burden of proof is on the accused. Currently, under DCMA, if someone sees copyrighted material they must submit a letter to the site requesting the material be taken down. Under the SOPA bill, a site must instead actively monitor all content lest something be copyrighted, and failure to do so is a crime. YouTube, which receives a vast number of videos every day, could not handle the burden and would have to shut down. That would stop the embarrassing videos of police abusing people from surfacing and spreading.

Other sites that share content, such as Rational Review News Digest and Freedom's Phoenix which excerpt portions of an article and link to the original article at the original site may be considered to be at risk if the original provider does not want their article shared with a particular audience. Righthaven was shut down for their abuse of copyright law, but this new bill strengthens the position of similar copyright trolls.

The internet has been a force for freedom in this increasingly oppressive world. Given how many content provider websites are headquartered in the US, and disputes are supposed to be settled in the US no matter where the content provider website is located, this amounts to world-wide censorship. Currently this bill is in committee, but given what it could potentially accomplish this is bill should be stopped.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Democrat Argument for Ron Paul

If one must waste their vote by voting for a major party candidate instead of a third party candidate, there is no law saying that one must do so in an unintelligent manner. It still can pay to be smart and think ahead.

Most people who vote major party do not do that. Comments such as "I hope Bachmann wins because that would mean an easy victory for Obama" are common enough. The problem with such a wish is that it can too easily backfire. People saying such a thing should remember that whoever wins the Republican nomination does stand a good chance of winning the presidency.

It is therefore much smarter to hope that the best person wins the Republican nomination instead of the worst person. And if both parties are having a primary, as happened in 2008, it is better to hope that the best person in each race wins so that no matter which party wins the ultimate winner is better than he would otherwise be.

Although there are plenty of short-sighted reasons for the Democrats to support various candidates, the list of candidates that a Democrat could positively support is much shorter. It comes down to two candidates; Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Which candidate the Democrat should choose depends on whether the Democrat is a liberal or a progressive.

Progressives, if thinking strategically, would prefer Governor Romney. He is typical of a "moderate Republican" in that he supports the worst aspects of both the Republican agenda and the Democrat agenda.

Liberals, on the other hand, have every reason to support Representative Paul. He wants to end the wars in the Middle East. He would achieve the greatest advancement in civil rights since granting minorities the right to vote by ending the war on drugs. Although he is pro life, he would do more for guaranteeing the right to choose by sending the issue back to the states than either Romney or Obama. But most importantly he will end the wars, bring the troops home, and stop wasting money spent on these adventures, money that is currently being taken from the poor through inflation.

Democrats can influence who will be the Republican nominee, and if they honestly assess what they stand for they should admit that Ron Paul actually is the best in the Republican field. An honest answer should be "if we have to have a Republican as President, then it might as well be Ron Paul." For that reason they should help him win instead of participating in the blackout.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Local Politics is also the most Corrupt

Local politics is not only the most intense, local politics is not only the most blatant, local politics is also the most vicious and corrupt in its pettiness.

In Los Angeles County there are many rural town councils to help the county administrate the rural area of the county. These boards, although elected by the communities they represent, do not have any legislative power. The best description for these boards is that they are elected lobbying firms, lobbying the county on behalf of the communities.

They do have the power to write the rough draft of the zoning laws, but the rough draft is then turned over to the county to implement, and the county does rewrite them before they implement them. They collect community complaints and relay them to the county, whether it be road conditions or any complains that the community may have with regards to law enforcement and other county services.

Given the importance of these boards, one might think that they are not important enough for political corruption. That would be an unfair assumption.

The political intrigues that go on, although on an amateur level, are vicious. There are attempts to stack committee meetings and council elections, taking advantage of the low involvement in general at politics.

At higher levels of politics, the corruption actually eases the activity. Democrats and Republicans will vote for each others programs in order to get votes for their own programs, since they have exempted themselves from the laws and they are not paying for the programs themselves.

At local levels, things get mean. On condo boards, people do sue each other. On town councils people have been known to lodge baseless police complaints against each other, calling law enforcement to harass the competition.

The stakes are so small, the fights are so vicious, and most of the people involved have no intention of using the local boards as a stepping stone to higher office.

Why are things so vicious? Some people sarcastically answer that it is because the stakes are so small. Others point out that there actually are some results. Whatever the reason, local politics really is the meanest.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Supposed Campaign against Bullying

A seventh grade student is reading his history book. The subject is the Cherokee constitution and Cherokee law from early in United States history. He runs across a line stating that if man is attacked, and in the act of defending himself he kills the person who attacks him, that man is not to be punished.

The student is amazed. He tries to point out to adults around him this unique concept.

Their reaction puzzles him further. They see nothing amazing. They are confused as to why he is amazed. They react as if he is telling them how amazing it is that the sky is blue and the water is wet. Of course people are allowed to defend themselves.

Why is he amazed? Because self defense is not a protected concept in his world, the very artificial world of public schools.

The current focus of public schools, as expressed through public service announcements that run as if they were commercials, is a campaign against bullying. News stories hit the press about people who, unable to suffer any more, kill themselves. Teachers give occasional sermons about how school children should treat each other more kindly.

The problem is, students in school have figured out how the game operates. Those who would be cruel to their peers know that as long as the teachers don’t see it then it didn’t happen. As long as any cruelty ceases as soon as an authority figure enters the room then nothing happened.

Now if a victim actually stands up for himself, then it becomes a fight. The victim has to be taught a lesson, and that overrides the desire to stay out of trouble. Then the two students are brought to the school authorities, and both are punished for fighting.

Speaking to actual teachers about the need for them to do actual policing of bullying, how they need to determine who is the aggressor and the victim, leads to the cop-out that they are not police officers. And yet they are indeed given disciplinary authority, authority they could use to intervene if they desired.

The system, as it is currently set up, creates people who are supposed to be docile, to take any punishment, to never stand up for oneself. Some people take advantage of that system by aggressing against those who are being trained to be docile. The docility is a desired end by a government that doesn’t want anyone to stand up to the government. The bullying is a byproduct.

It is possible for the schools to determine who is an aggressor and who is a victim. The schools could curb bullying easily if they tried. The principle that both participants are equally guilty is what makes bullying possible, because refusing to acknowledge the difference between bulling and self defense is the only way to encourage docility. It also explains why the student would be surprised at a law that authorizes self defense.