Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Press Solidarity!

...with journalists using the name Kirby Delauter. The Washington Post's full story about Kirby Delauter is here. Kirby's Facebook post looked like this:

Oops, sorry, actually it's this (courtesy of NPR, click to embiggen):

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

John Yoo for Worst Human of Millennium

Conor Friederdorf of the Atlantic is reporting today that John Yoo, former definition manufacturer for the Bush administration, says the "enhanced interrogation techniques" that he spent years defending from public and legal criticism are, in fact, possibly illegal.

From the CNN interview that Friederdorf quotes:
"[I]f these things happened as they are described in the report, as you describe them, those were not authorized by the Justice Department. They were not supposed to be done and those people who did those are at risk legally because they were acting outside their orders."
Hey John, fuck you.

It's bad enough that we had people running our government that were so blinded by their patriotism and nationalist zeal that they were willing to let their moral obligations slip aside. At the very least, a member of the previous administration might elicit some sympathy for the war crimes (for which they were never charged) by saying they weren't sure what they were doing was wrong.

But Yoo knew, and he found a way to mold some facade of legality around it all. To me, that seems worse than mere ignorance or lack of moral understanding.

Just as a reminder, here is a YouTube video of John Yoo defending the concept of crushing the testicles of an innocent child:

Happy Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

You're Not the Only One

Joshua Steimle has nice takedown of net neutrality up on
"I don’t like how much power the telecoms have. But the reason they’re big and powerful isn’t because there is a lack of government regulation, but because of it. Government regulations are written by large corporate interests which collude with officials in government. The image of government being full of people on a mission to protect the little guy from predatory corporate behemoths is an illusion fostered by politicians and corporate interests alike. Many, if not most, government regulations are the product of crony capitalism designed to prevent small entrepreneurs from becoming real threats to large corporations."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Number of the Day


That's the number of people arrested for simple possession of marijuana in the U.S. in 2012, according to the recently released FBI crime stats.

Two-thirds of a million people who were put in jail for something that's relatively safe to use, not dangerous to others (barring the black market of supply created by its illegality), and presently legal in two of the fifty states (18 if you count medical).

That's over 650-thousand new "patients" being "referred" to drug and alcohol treatment facilities. The number of people put in jail for imbibing a plant is larger than entire the population of Vermont or Wyoming.

The number of people who's job applications will be haunted with criminal charges for the next seven to ten years, at least, is larger than the populations of all but the 19 largest cities -- larger than the populations of Boston, Seattle, Denver, Portland, Ore. and Washington D.C.

This is the prohibition your government is pursuing despite your majority opinion. Any questions?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Silencing the People

Don't be fooled by the hopeful wording of the following quote from USA Today:
The Senate Judiciary Committee, on a 13-5 vote, approved the federal Free Flow of Information Act and sent it to the Senate floor. The measure has long been sought by journalism organizations and First Amendment advocates to protect reporters from having to choose between breaking a promise to a source and going to jail.
Why would this seemingly-positive development be cause for concern? Well, because:
Under the committee's compromise, those covered would include someone who has had an employment relationship with a journalism organization for one year within the past 20 years, or three months within the past five years. Also covered are people with "a substantial track record of freelancing" in the past five years and student journalists. 
Significantly, the measure also includes a provision covering those who a federal judge decides "should be able to avail him or herself of the protections of the privilege, consistent with the interests of justice and the protection of lawful and legitimate newsgathering activities."
In other words, this bill, if passed, would grant a new power to the federal courts -- the power to determine who is and who isn't "press." And since the press is protected by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, this bill effectively give the federal government the power to decide who qualifies for a constitutionally protected civil right.

MF applauds attempts to provide greater protection for journalists, especially under an administration that has been as hard as any on whistleblowers, but granting this type of power to the federal government is not the way to go about it.

The freedom of speech and of the press exists because, without it, the people have no way of bringing to light violations of any of the subsequent protections under the Bill of Rights. In essence, this makes this civil right the most important, for violations of the other civil rights cannot be addressed if the public is ignorant of them.

It should come as no surprise that organizations like the Newspaper Association of America support the bill, since it's members are included under the bill's journalist requirements (and not potential grassroots competitors). But members of the news reporting community should be in the unique position to be aware of what such a deal with the devil might lead to.

Once the government has the power, they are all but guaranteed to use it.

All it would take is some "crisis," some distraction, which are seemingly plentiful in the post-9/11 world, for "revisions" to be made to the requirements for one to be considered a journalist. If this bill passes, what's to stop the implementation of a journalist licensing regimen?

The fault of letting the powerful decide who is allowed to observe them exercising power is self-evident, but one need only look to numerous examples throughout history to see such an idea's folly. Time and again, when a dictatorship takes power, the first major action is to silence the critics.

When you silence the press, you silence the people. And that's what's going on here, despite how nobly the bill is being presented.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Libertarianism is the Now

Politico ran a story yesterday about the continuing ascent of libertarianism in the mainstream of politics. These types of articles have been running for a while now, but for once, those of us who have sanely and consistently argued for greater individual liberty can have a reason to be hopeful.

For once, libertarians were not conflated with the Tea Party.
Libertarianism is what most Americans believe, whether they know it by that name or not.

And for once, this poll asked the question that prevents misunderstandings about what libertarianism really consists of. As politico reports, sizable portions simply do not know what the word libertarian means:
The poll surveyed all voters, not just those on the right, and overall 27 percent said they didn’t know enough to offer an opinion of libertarianism. About 40 percent of 18-to-32-year-olds view the word “libertarian” favorably, although about a third don’t know what it means.
You can't blame them, really.

The "l" word has been batted around by everyone from Glenn Beck to Bill Maher, and while I admit that at times both of these guys have expressed libertarian sentiment on some issues, calling oneself a libertarian on this issue or that, while simultaneously expressing more clearly authoritarian views, leaves the observer confused as to what "libertarian" really means.

That's why I was hopeful when I read this Politico article, because:
Told that libertarians generally believe individuals should be free to do as they like as long as they don’t hurt others and that the government should keep out of people’s day-to-day lives, 58 percent of the full national sample said they agree.
Once you are willing to express libertarianism in the basic, common-sense foundations that support the idea, it's actually not too unfamiliar. And a clear, nearly-fillibuster-proof majority of Americans support this concept; that people should be left to their own devices so long as they don't hurt others.

In other words, and like I've always suspected: libertarianism is what most Americans believe, whether they know it by that name or not.

P.S. The article is based on a poll conducted by FreedomWorks , which, although officially listed as a conservative/libertarian think tank, appears to have asked clear and impartial questions as evidenced by the linked report. By all fair measures, I don't have any reason to think this is some sort of libertarian-boosting push-poll.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Syrian Rebels Are Not The Friends We're Looking For

Just in case you had any doubts about the Syrian rebel groups that Obama is pushing us to assist, here's a quaint story of religious persecution at the hands of the "freedom fighters."

From CTV News:
AMMAN, Jordan -- Rebels including al-Qaida-linked fighters gained control of a Christian village northeast of the capital Damascus, Syrian activists said Sunday.


A Maaloula resident said the rebels, many of them sporting beards and shouting Allahu Akbar, or God is great, attacked Christian homes and churches shortly after moving into the village overnight.

"They shot and killed people. I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village," said the resident, reached by telephone from neighbouring Jordan. "So many people fled the village for safety."
That's right folks, in the middle of fighting with the Syrian government, the rebels have time to stop and kill innocent people because of their religious beliefs. Just think of all the genocide they'll be able to commit once they don't have this troublesome civil war on their plates.

I may be no fan of religion myself, but this in simply appalling.

Tell me, Christian America, is supporting these people really in the best interest of our country?