Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

It turns out OWS has a real list of real demands. Naturally, domestic press either hasn't a clue or refuses to cover it, but (according to Naomi Wolf in the Guardian whose article you should read) the top three demands are (I quote):
  1. [G]et the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process.
  2. [R]eform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.
  3. [D]raft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.
These are none of them entirely bad ideas. I can deal with some sort of blunting of the Citizens United ruling, even though I think the good guys won. It certainly allows the richest people or groups to give the greatest exposure to their message, but without it, many worthwhile messages were completely stifled. I would far rather we had real freedom to campaign on whatever message we wanted, as long as we were telling the truth, but for as long as honesty is entirely optional and slander and libel are completely acceptable in campaign speech, we have to have something.

Repealing the Glass-Steagall Act was a buyout of Republicans by Citigroup; John Dingell (D-MI) said that it would result in banks "too big to fail" that would have to be bailed out. But then the anti-redlining regulations were added, to help Clinton in his dream of subsidizing the housing of people who were unlikely to pay for their own homes with the Community Reinvesting Act, by transferring all the risk from the banks to the federal government. That has ALSO helped to set us on our current train-wreck financial crisis. I would like to see a return of at least the conflict-of-interest regulation that the Glass-Steagall Act act imposed.

That third item? It has my FULL SUPPORT. What they are talking about there is plain, simple, pure plunder by law, also known as corruption.

Ms. Wolf also makes a pretty good case that the crackdowns were coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security (which department is a reason to spit upon the memory of the 2d Bush presidency if ever there was one). And as she has said, it's no wonder these people are having the $#!t kicked out of them at the behest of the federal government.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Thinking Behind SOPA

This deserves wider attention:

Some things not addressed by the video:
ANYONE may accuse a site or host of providing pirated content. When this happens, the host has five days to rectify the situation, or their whole site goes down. And there is no due process to determine if the content is legal or infringing IP laws. What's more, there's no penalty for making a false accusation.

Do you see why this is so huge a stick with which to capriciously beat people completely off of the internet that even Microsoft opposes it in its current form? Currently, it might be enforced by removing entries from domain name servers. But when that fails to completely stop piracy, enforcement will require the active blocking of IP addresses. And when that fails to completely stop piracy, it will require deep packet scanning and a complete criminalizing of all encryption not handled by the NSA.