Links for an ending week

January 20, 2012 – 12:29 pm by John

President Obama deserves praise for opposing the SOPA/PIPA bills in the House and Senate, respectively, but, of course, in true Republocrat fashion, deserves further criticism for qualifying that with, “That is why the Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders,” and, “Moving forward, we will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis on legislation that provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting….”

On the bright side, the January 17 internet “blackout” day of protest against SOPA and PIPA prompted several lawmakers to withdraw their support for the respective bills, with 13 more following on January 18. As left-libertarians are fond of saying and other libertarians need to be more vocal and specific about, “public” or “community action” doesn’t have to mean voting and government action. Massive protests might very well have succeeded in killing these bills in their current forms.

Ron Paul has introduced a bill to repeal section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA, the part that authorizes the President to order the military detention, without charge or trial, of any American citizen who has been labeled as having “substantially supported certain terrorist groups”. Yet another reason I think Ron Paul deserves more attention and praise, especially among libertarian anarchists who demur over actually supporting him because of perfectly valid philosophical reasons (they don’t like his stance on immigration, for instance, so they will not actually vote for or support the candidacy of anyone they have any differences with, or anyone at all, for that matter). Still, it becomes more obvious every day that he is on our side and does a great job spreading the message of liberty from his platform, which is that of a politician. As Glenn Greenwald would be quick to point out (actually, has already been), praising a few of Ron Paul’s positions, votes, and introduced bills doesn’t mean you’re going to vote for him, hope that he wins, agree with him 100% of the time, or even support democracy as an acceptable or effective means of change (well, Greenwald hasn’t mentioned this last one). I, for one, do hope he wins the Republican nomination and would probably vote for him if he did. In fact, I’m likely to vote for him in Michigan’s primary.

The city of Detroit will soon go bankrupt and its finances likely put under the the charge of a governor-appointed (corporate) emergency manager. When Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was elected in 2010, he received much criticism for his “emergency manager” law, which would place a bankrupt city’s finances under some type of corporate manager(s) appointed by him. This criticism reached new heights recently when he defended this law in his State of the State address, said it could apply to Detroit soon, and became the object of street protests outside his home. Maybe if Detroit hadn’t recklessly run up its debt as its revenue plummeted and its idiotic citizenry, led by both unions and corporations, hadn’t twice elected that worthless, disgusting abomination of a human being Kwame Kilpatrick as mayor, the city wouldn’t be in such financial ruin.

But of course Detroit unions oppose any substantial cuts or an emergency manager and basically seem to be saying they don’t want to suffer now, regardless of what this will mean for later. Many other voters, Republicans, and Democrats in and around Detroit are saying the same thing. My perspective on Detroit’s dilemma reminds me of the battle between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and government unions: it is perfectly libertarian and principled to oppose both the public-sector unions resisting the cuts and the governor’s proposals to balance budgets. That said, the city of Detroit and especially the people responsible for its finances don’t have the option of “well, we just oppose everything” and will have to choose some course that will result in its citizens and businesses losing either more or less money. I feel compelled to opine not only on the root causes of their problem (monopolistic government, democracy, a captive tax base, corporate–government collusion, union–government collusion) but also on the situation they currently face: bankruptcy and further debt and loss of money, or bankruptcy and a governor-appointed emergency financial manager. Maybe there are more options, but it’s hard to criticize the governor too much on this point. It seems almost certain that the Detroit city government will go bankrupt, so what’s wrong with an austerity plan that will make it less bad? Medicine tastes bad, but you have to take it. The opponents of the emergency manager say that it is undemocratic and requires too many concessions by unions. Well, democracy and government-supporting (especially Democrat-supporting) unions largely caused Detroit’s problems in the first place, so they sure as hell shouldn’t be relied on to solve its problems. The only thing that seems a little inequitable about the demand that unions make concessions to balance the budget is that unions aren’t responsible for all of the city’s debt; decades of mismanagement by officials and businesses are equally responsible, and they don’t appear to be required to make concessions or any types of payments or contributions to fix the problem they helped create.

The Monster Cable company claims EBay, Craigslist, Costco, Sears, Backpages, FatWallet, PriceGrabber, and ComputerShopper are “rogue” sites that should be targeted for takedown by the Imperial Federal Government, such as by SOPA/PIPA-type legislation, which of course it supports. While I have to admit I see nothing about a free society that would prevent a company like Monster Cable from existing and succeeding, that doesn’t mean I can’t rail on it for the dishonest, conniving, exploitative, Statist, anti-consumer, piece-of-shit company that it is. Monster Cable has issued cease-and-desist letters to other cable makers for completely frivolous patent infringement reasons. It has sued a mini golf company, an automotic transmission shop, and a deer salt block company for trademark infringement. Monster Cable’s entire business model, other than using the patent system and the courts to try to bully people into giving it money, seems to be exploiting customers who think more expensive HDMI cables are even one iota better than cheap ones. Regardless of company or price, all standard HDMI cables perform identically (barring some defect, which is vanishingly rare). It is not the least bit surprising that Monster endorses fascist government takedown of any website that treats consumers well or doesn’t subscribe to Monster’s fantastical acid trip of a definition of property, theft, and criminality. Fuck Monster Cable and everyone who works for it, especially its lawyers.

Speaking of SOPA, its author, Lamar Smith (R-TX) is, not surprisingly, a hypocrite who violated provisions of SOPA that would have labeled him a criminal. Lamar Smith is a despicable scumbag on the level of Kwame Kilpatrick. He’s a clueless Republican authoritarian control freak who ought to be locked away in a nuthouse for the rest of his life as a precaution for the rest of society.

In case you doubt how much power and influence the United States professional criminal class has on policies all around the world: the U.S. ambassador to Spain threatened to put Spain on a trade blacklist if it didn’t pass SOPA-style site-blocking legislation. Of course, Wikileaks, which has all but vanished from the news in recent months, leaked the documents that revealed this. Later, “American Chamber of Commerce in Spain chief Jaime Malet wrote a cautionary letter to incoming Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. He warned of the potential flight of foreign investment from Spain and urged him to take action on the protection of intellectual property once in office.” Rajoy’s government responded by passing acceptable legislation, known as the Sinde law, within 10 days of taking office.

$56 billion later, airport security is still junk.

So far, 80% of “green energy” loans the Obama Department of Energy has issued have gone to top Obama donors, according to Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer.

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