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From User: Decius

I am a hacker and you are afraid and that makes you more dangerous than I ever could be.

A Libertarian’s Lament: Why Ron Paul Is An Embarrassment To The Creed | The New Republic
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:15 am EST, Dec 22, 2011

Ron Paul's unexpected ascendency in the Republican Party is going to tip off this dialog in the popular press about "Libertarianism" that already has my eyes rolling.

I recommend this article not because I think it does a good job articulating the problem with Ron Paul, but because it gets off a couple of zingers that I do strongly empathize with, such as this:

It irks me that, as far as most Americans are concerned, Ron Paul is the alpha and omega of the libertarian creed. If you were an evil genius determined to promote the idea that libertarianism is a morally dubious ideology of privilege poorly disguised as a doctrine of liberation, you'd be hard pressed to improve on Ron Paul...

I am personally interested in individual liberty. That attracts me to the Libertarian party - who claim to be interested in the same thing and whose think tanks sometimes write good papers on the subject.

Unfortunately, its a bad relationship for me, because, after years of talking to libertarians, I don't think that most of them are really all that interested in individual liberty.

They're basically just interested in not being taxed.

Some think its immoral that they should be taxed because its just like theft. Others have read elaborate rationalizations that trying to build a healthy society is counterproductive and you should just stop worrying about other people and enjoy your money. Whatever the reason, all these people care about is low taxes.

Individual liberty is more complicated than having low taxes. Individual liberty has to do with things like having a right to freedom of speech and being secure against unreasonable searches and seizures and having the right to vote and a guarantee of equal protection under the law. Only a small minority of libertarians care about those things. Most are indifferent, some are actively hostile, and almost none understand the specific policy issues involved or take personal action in support of those issues.

Ergo, we have Ron Paul. Ron Paul is openly hostile to the 14th amendment's guarantee that state governments won't violate the individual rights of people. He is someone who applies the political philosophy of the oligarchy that controlled the 19th century South to modern political issues. He is a principled man, which is more than can be said for a lot of people in politics. Sometimes his principals even lead to desirable results. But ultimately, his principals come from the time before the internal combustion engine, and were discredited in that time, by people we should regard as comparably primitive.

If THEY could think around this but YOU can't - perhaps you're not thinking.

No reasonable understanding of "individual liberty" can be framed through the lens of the political rationalizations of the Slave Power. It was a caste system that had as its central features the violent oppression of people, a total lack of social mobility, and an absence of basic political freedoms and enfranchisement. It was an oligarchy of about 300,000 people who oppressed millions.

How could a movement associated with "individual liberty" become aligned with THAT?

The answer is because they don't actually care about "individual liberty." They just care about lower taxes.

Libertarians have done a terrible job countering the widespread suspicion that theirs is a uselessly abstract ideology of privilege for socially obtuse adolescent white guys.

Libertarians cannot simultaneously have "individual liberty" and Ron Paul. But they do have Ron Paul, and they are about to be associated with him in the national conciousness in a permanent way.

Therefore, it has come time to start pointing out that "libertarianism" has nothing to do with "individual liberty."

Individual liberty is more complicated than having low taxes.

A Libertarian’s Lament: Why Ron Paul Is An Embarrassment To The Creed | The New Republic

Taking a principled stand on Wikileaks
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:41 am EST, Dec  9, 2010

I've changed by profile picture to support EFF's anti-censorship campaign, and I have donated $100 to their cause. This is a protest and I urge you to participate. We are protesting the use of political pressure by American politicians to shut down a website.

If you believe in due process of law and the right to freedom of expression you should join us in taking a stand. It is important that we take a stand right now.

It doesn't matter whether or not you support what Wikileaks is doing. If I were handed such a rich trove of private information I might have moral qualms about dumping the whole thing on the Internet. That is totally irrelevant.

In the United States of America we are a country of laws. If Wikileaks has violated a law than the appropriate way to respond to that is through the use of the legal system. In fact, like it or not, it is most likely the case that Wikileaks has not violated the law. Therefore, senior politicians in this country have taken it upon themselves to use their personal influence to shut the website down, and a number of corporations, large and small, have obliged them.

In a free country with a strong legal system and a tradition of upholding the right to freedom of speech, this sort of thing is not acceptable. Life, liberty, and property should only be taken away through due process of law and not simply because some powerful people desire it and present thin arguments in favor of it.

As The Internet Society recently stated in their newsletter:

[Wikileaks] must be subject to the same laws and policies of availability as all Internet sites. Free expression should not be restricted by governmental or private controls over computer hardware or software, telecommunications infrastructure, or other essential components of the Internet.

Unless and until appropriate laws are brought to bear to take the domain down legally, technical solutions should be sought to reestablish its proper presence...

Anger about these events runs deep. Right now, many of the companies who assisted in cutting off Wikileaks have been subjected to distributed denial of service attacks. While I share the anger of those who are launching these attacks, I cannot condon... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]

Taking a principled stand on Wikileaks

Editorial: Amendment 1 is too confusing for words ||
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:09 pm EDT, Oct 25, 2010

This is why Wiki Voter Guide is needed...

The plain truth is that, at this moment, the Banner-Herald's editorial board - after hearing from advocates and opponents of the proposed amendment, and reading various commentaries, pro and con, on it - can't comment definitively on the proposal.

What the board can suggest at this moment, however, is that the ballot language approved by the Georgia General Assembly is outright misleading, and the process by which the amendment came to the ballot is more than a little confusing.

In truth, Amendment 1 on the Georgia ballot is an attempt by employers to prevent former employees from being able to accept jobs with competing companies in the state. It is an assault on individual rights. The ballot language "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?" does not suggest that. People who are voting for this will have no idea what they are voting for.

Editorial: Amendment 1 is too confusing for words ||

At Ramadan Iftar dinner, Obama supports new mosque on private property near Ground Zero | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:20 pm EDT, Aug 15, 2010

This point of view seems tremendously reasonable, and if Obama has done little else for the Constitution at least he was willing to speak out here.

The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.

For a moderate example of the tortured logic on the other side take Charles Krauthammer.

America is a free country where you can build whatever you want -- but not anywhere. That's why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn't meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.

None of these things is a content based constraint upon the freedom of speech imposed by a state or federal government. It doesn't take much knowledge of the Constitution to be able think your way though this issue, and Krauthammer obviously gets caught up in his biases.

Simply put, the federal, state, and city governments cannot, will not, and should not act to prevent this community center from being constructed simply because it serves muslims. If you don't get this you don't get the first amendment.

At Ramadan Iftar dinner, Obama supports new mosque on private property near Ground Zero | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times

Briton jailed for four years in Dubai after customs find cannabis weighing less than a grain of sugar under his shoe | Mail Online
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:26 pm EST, Jan 18, 2010

But many of those tourists and business travellers are likely to be unaware of the strict zero-tolerance drugs policy in the UAE.

One man has even been jailed for possession of three poppy seeds left over from a bread roll he ate at Heathrow Airport.

If suspicious of a traveller, customs officials can use high-tech equipment to uncover even the slightest trace of drugs.

Do not go to Dubai.

Briton jailed for four years in Dubai after customs find cannabis weighing less than a grain of sugar under his shoe | Mail Online

Calling Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:59 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2009

This is absolutely mind boggling.

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad... Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration.

I simply do not understand how this is even possible. Obviously a civil contract between 2 parties cannot prevent a district attorney from calling a grand jury and seeking an indictment. However he/she probably would not do so without the victim's testimony. Surely it is not possible to waive your right to speak at a trial? Has a judge ever order a rape victim to appear in court or give testimony?

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.”

On the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) spoke against the amendment, calling it “a political attack directed at Halliburton.” In the end, Franken won the debate. His amendment passed by a 68-30 vote, earning the support of 10 Republican senators including that of newly-minted Florida Sen. George LeMieux.

Who in their right fucking mind would vote *against* an amendment like this? It not as if these senators voted against a bill that already had this amendment because the bill also had another utterly insane amendment they could not in good conscience vote for. These people voted against the amendment.

I mean really. This is not about right vs. left. I don't give a fuck if its the lame-duck Dems scoring points off a defense contractor. Be the better man. Corporations should not be allowed to place forced arbitration clauses into employment contracts for cover any type of violent criminal offense. Period. End of discuss.

30 fucking percent of those who represent the American people voted against this? Just let that sink in.


Both Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, the 2 senators from Georgia voted against this ammendment. I will be calling their Washington offices tomorrow to express my shock and outrage. Please feel free to do the same:

Johnny Isakson: 202-224-3643
Saxby Chambliss: 202-224-3521

Calling Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss

Revealed: The ghost fleet of the recession | Mail Online
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:30 am EDT, Sep 16, 2009

The biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history lies at anchor east of Singapore. Never before photographed, it is bigger than the U.S. and British navies combined but has no crew, no cargo and no destination.

Holy shit!

Revealed: The ghost fleet of the recession | Mail Online

MemeStreams receives DMCA takedown
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:51 pm EDT, Sep  1, 2009

It has come to our attention that the web site contains material and/or links to material that violate the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"). This letter is to notify you, in accordance with the provisions of the DMCA, of these unlawful activities. Pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, we request that you remove any whole or partial reproductions of and/or disable links to the following:

Is this the first DMCA letter Memestreams has received? You'd think between you, me, Virgil, Mike, Rattle, deC0de and others we would have generated more of these by now...

MemeStreams receives DMCA takedown

Foreign Policy: The Land of No Smiles
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:03 am EDT, Aug 24, 2009

Renowned documentary photographer Tomas van Houtryve entered North Korea by posing as a businessman looking to open a chocolate factory. Despite 24-hour surveillance by North Korean minders, he took arresting photographs of Pyongyang and its people—images rarely captured and even more rarely distributed in the West. They show stark glimmers of everyday life in the world’s last gulag.

The land where its illegal to smile at a camera.

Foreign Policy: The Land of No Smiles

More Robots - The Big Picture -
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:59 pm EDT, Aug 13, 2009

I was particularly impressed with #8 and #28. If you're into the hard stuff, click here. The terminator story line, sans time travel, seems realistic.

Come with me if you want to live!

More Robots - The Big Picture -

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