Friday, July 29, 2011

Government to Track All Internet Use

Got this message from Demand

"A direct assault on Internet users" is what the ACLU is calling it.

Yesterday a U.S. House committee approved HR 1981, a broad new Internet snooping bill. They want to force Internet service providers to keep track of and store their customers' information -- including your name, address, phone number, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress, and 25 other civil liberties and privacy groups have expressed our opposition to this legislation.

Will you join us in opposition by emailing your lawmakers right away? Just click here.

They've shamelessly dubbed it the "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act," but our staunchest allies in Congress are calling it what it is: an all-encompassing Internet snooping bill.

CNet Reports: Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who led Democratic opposition to the bill said, " 'It represents a data bank of every digital act by every American' that would 'let us find out where every single American visited Web sites.' "

"The bill is mislabeled," said Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the panel. "This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It's creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes."

Please click here to join the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Consumer Federation of America, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Demand Progress and 25 other civil liberties and privacy groups in opposing this legislation.

Thanks for fighting for Internet freedom.

-- The Demand Progress team

P.S. The bill just passed committee, so it's time to push back hard. Will you please ask your friends to take action too?

A worthy cause, which I hope many will support.

Unforunately, House Republican Tea Partiers don't seem too upset by HR 1981 -- indeed, the House Republicans control the committee that passed it.

And still, some Libertarian Party activists look to the Tea Party like some sort of libertarian hope.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Libertarian Party Dysfunction

Anyone who participates in the Libertarian Party for any length of time will observe a chronically dysfunctional organization. The various factions blame each other, but I think the dysfunction stems from a combination of (1) the nature of American third parties, (2) the libertarian ideology, and (3) the sort of people attracted to an ideologically libertarian third party.

A fuller explanation requires a book -- it's too complex to explain in a single post. Instead I'll just provide (yet another) eyewitness account of LP dysfunction.

Gail Lightfoot is one of the most respected Libertarians in California. She was one of the LPC's original founders, some forty years ago. She's long been one of the LPC's most successful perennial candidates (in terms of number of votes pulled). And she's long been regarded as a highly principled member of the "party of principle."

Yesterday Ms. Lightfoot resigned her position as editor of the Los Angeles County Libertarian Party's newsletter (which position she inherited from her husband, Richard Venable). Lightfoot apparently emailed everyone on her Libertarian list (myself included) explaining her reasons for resigning:

"I regret to inform you that I had made a decision not to continue to edit and publish the L.A. Libertarian in Richard Venable's place. This decision ... was based on the failure of the LPLAC members to provide copy in a timely manner, and often not at all, or to communicate with me as a member of LPLAC so that I might be more informed of the activities of LPLAC. Total silence on the issue of making changes to the publication makeup or schedule was simply the frosting on the cake....

"As an aside, I fail to understand why Libertarians are the least forthcoming, open, and honest, in their dealings with one another. It is a wonder any activist remains an activist after simply observing our behavior to one another.

"Anyone who sees our internal struggles would surely think we are not fit to govern at all. Back stabbing for control (as if every new idea or direction requires total control of the org.) and rudeness towards our contractors seems to be firmly imbedded in our culture.

"Perhaps it is time to change that culture as we face extinction and loss of ballot status in 2012."

Gail Lightfoot raises issues (LP rudeness, dishonesty, backstabbing, control freaks) that many others have observed over the years. Lightfoot herself has reported on the rudeness and dirty tricks she's observed at California LP conventions.

I've written about Libertarians' chronic lateness and disregard for their own schedules (i.e., Libertarian Standard Time), the purges of Angela Keaton, Lee Wrights, and Rachel Hawkridge -- and the dishonesty and dirty tricks at the 2008 LP national convention, and the Nevada LP and California LP.

These are just a few examples of Libertarian Party dysfunction.

Small wonder that the Clintonesque Wayne Allyn Root finds support within the LP, even as the libertarian movement, and America as a whole, dismiss Root as a joke -- if they're even aware that he exists.

Small wonder that libertarians are looking outside the LP for principle, and are finding it in Ron Paul.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rich Israel Does Not Need American Foreign Aid

Libertarians and conservatives supposedly believe in very little government spending -- but many make an exception for Israel when it demands money.

One excuse for Israel, which I heard KABC-AM's John Phillips make, is that Israel needs American aid for its "very survival." If the U.S. stops subsidizing Israel (the usually cited number is 3 or 4 billion dollar a year), then Israel will cease to exist.

Yet on the Israeli website Globes, Gil Shlomo writes:

"A survey by Bregman Baraz Real Estate commissioned by 'Globes' found that Israelis were the second largest foreign buyers of US income-producing real estate in the period from July 2010-June 2011, after Canadians.... Israelis invested $1.15 billion to buy 36 income-producing properties in the US over the past 12 months, after the $4.22 billion invested by Canadians, and ahead of the $1.14 billion invested by the Swiss."

If Israel has enough private wealth to buy over a billion dollars worth of U.S. investment real estate just last year (presumably among other investments and consumer goods), then Israel can certainly afford to pay for its own defense should American cut off its welfare check.

Israel is a wealthy, high-tech, first world nation -- and a nuclear power. Israel does not need American tax money to survive. Rather, Israel wants American money (and routinely demands it, like a spoiled and petulant child) because, hey, who doesn't want free money if some sucker can be bullied into handing it over?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

GOP Supports Expensive Wars For Israel

Republican presidential candidates not only support money for Israel (despite the debt ceiling crisis, entitlements for Americans are subject to budget cuts, but not entitlements for socialist Israel), but they're lining up to express a willingness fight wars for Israel.

Herman Cain is the latest. The Washington Times reports:

"Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said Monday he would attack Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons or to respond to aggression against Israel...

"Mr. Cain said that, as commander-in-chief, he would 'make it crystal clear [that] if you mess with Israel, you’re messing with the United States of America,' but stressed that his 'Cain Doctrine' would not be a 'blank check' for Israeli military action.

" 'There will be a set of conditions and circumstances that I will work with Israel on for them to understand that they cannot abuse that doctrine,' said Mr. Cain, a former CEO of Godfather's Pizza."

What "conditions and circumstances" Cain would impose on Israel, he does not say.

Michelle Bachmann has implied even more sweeping military support for Israel, in that she believes that God demands America's unqualified support for Israel. Bachmann has said:

"I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States...

"[W]e have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play."

A curse? Well, I guess you can't argue with a curse from God.

Bachmann's extreme-right brand of Christian fundamentalism (unlike Catholicism, which is more peace-oriented and even-handed on Muslims) not only motivates her slavish devotion to the Israeli government, but also inspires her harsh views on gays.

Ironically (in that Cain and Bachmann likely consider themselves admirers of the early American patriots), George Washington advised precisely against their kind of favoritism toward foreign nations, when he wrote:

"Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other.

"Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests."

More irony: the Libertarian Party claims to support a non-interventionist (i.e. unbiased and even-handed) foreign policy. Yet it is "libertarian" Wayne Allyn Root who exhibits "excessive partiality" for Israel, and "excessive dislike" for its perceived enemies (which apparently includes Muslim Americans).

And it is Republican Ron Paul who opposes favoritism in the Middle East, treating all nations equally, and putting all Americans (regardless of religion, or no religion) first.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Progressives for Ron Paul

Progressive Robin Koerner has an excellent piece The Huffington Post, wherein he argues that Obama has proven himself to be no peacenik, and that Democrats who truly want peace should join the Republican Party in order to vote for Ron Paul.

No, Koerner's not turned Republican. He slams the GOP, but acknowledges that Paul, for all his imperfections (from a progressive standpoint), is the best candidate out there, on either party.

Koerner writes in part:

"If you are a Democrat, and you sit tight and vote Democrat again 'because you've always been a Democrat' or because you think that some group with which you identity will benefit more from Democrat programs than a Republican one, then that is up to you, and I wish you well. But don't you dare pretend that you are motivated primarily by peace, civil rights or a government that treats people equally.

"That Ron Paul, who has been standing up for these principles quietly for half a lifetime, happens to be a member of the Republican party is a lot less important than the principles that we should be voting on. The fact that he is not a party guy should be obvious from his extensive differences in policy from his party and the fact that many think, given his views, he should not run as a Republican at all.

"As Dr. Paul often points out, however, we live in a country with a corrupt political party duopoly... and the system is stacked against anyone who would run outside the two party system. So he's doing what he has to do. And so should we as Americans who love peace and freedom. It really isn't complicated."

Read the entire article.

This article demonstrate yet again why Ron Paul is such an attractive candidate -- for any party! Paul appeals across the mainstream. Paul has supported Wikileaks, called for ending foreign aid (even to sacred cow Israel), opposed the CIA and Tea Party warmongers, and incurred their wrath. Paul has condemned Obama for being pro-war as early as 2009, and has earned praise from progressive Ralph Nader.

Were Ron Paul to run as an Independent, or even as a Republican with a progressive peacenik running mate, he has a real shot in 2012.

Contrast Paul's broad appeal to that of libertarian embarrassment Wayne Allyn Root. Despite Root's boost in 2008 -- "I'm Ron Paul on steroids!" -- Wayne Allyn (pro-Afghan surge; anti-Afghan surge"; Weak on Wikileaks; pro- and anti-Hosni Mubarak; Birther conspiracy instigator, etc., etc.) Root appeals mostly to the Palin/Bachmann Neocon wing of the Tea Party -- and those people would far rather vote for Palin or Bachman than ... "Who's that guy on Fox Business Channel again?"

Indeed, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann supporters will vote for any Republican in 2012, over anyone else, regardless of what they say now.


BTW, you can purchase the above image at Cafe Press. No, it isn't my store.

Friday, July 08, 2011

New Antiwar Petition Evokes George McGovern is sponsoring a non-partisan antiwar petition, calling on the U.S. to end its current wars and occupations, and adapt a new, peace-oriented foreign policy.

Come Home America. That was the refrain of George McGovern's last televised speech of his 1972 presidential campaign. He kept repeating that line throughout his speech. It was his call to bring back American troops from the Vietnam War.

McGovern had bought a half hour on network TV, on the Monday night before Election Day, to broadcast his speech. It was his desperate, last ditch attempt to reverse his polling numbers.

It didn't work. Nixon buried McGovern the following day, Election Day.

I remember seeing McGovern's speech on TV. I was eleven, and a Nixon supporter. So were my parents, and almost every kid at school.

The new Come Home America petition is pretty good. Many libertarians -- and non-libertarians -- have signed it. Myself included.

I doubt the Powers That Be will heed our request, but you should sign it anyway. At least future generations will know that not all Americans were fooled -- or intimidated -- by the government.

The Come Home America petition comes with a Come Home America book.

Finally, here's a recent interview with McGovern, in which he discusses Barak Obama's current wars: