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« Liberal Outrage: October 2011 | Main | Liberal Outrage: December 2011 »

Liberal Outrage

Who Needs Due Process

Just chuck everybody in the clink and let things sort themselves out. Link

The Senate voted Tuesday to keep a controversial provision to let the military detain terrorism suspects on U.S. soil and hold them indefinitely without trial -- prompting White House officials to reissue a veto threat.

The measure, part of the massive National Defense Authorization Act, was also opposed by civil libertarians on the left and right. But 16 Democrats and an independent joined with Republicans to defeat an amendment by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) that would have killed the provision, voting it down with 61 against, and 37 for it.

Even Rand Paul is against it.

"It's not enough just to be alleged to be a terrorist," Paul said, echoing the views of the American Civil Liberties Union. "That's part of what due process is -- deciding, are you a terrorist? I think it's important that we not allow U.S. citizens to be taken."

He's sharing similar views with the ACLU. The ACLU!

Meanwhile, the proponents seem to be channeling a little McCarthy.

"The enemy is all over the world. Here at home. And when people take up arms against the United States and [are] captured within the United States, why should we not be able to use our military and intelligence community to question that person as to what they know about enemy activity?" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.

"They should not be read their Miranda Rights. They should not be given a lawyer," Graham said. "They should be held humanely in military custody and interrogated about why they joined al Qaeda and what they were going to do to all of us."

That doesn't sound totally paranoid and irrational or anything.

At least Obama's come out saying he's going to veto it. But, really, how the hell did we come this far? Our Senate just voted to allow anyone to be detained forever and to hell with evidence or a trial by your peers or any of that silly stuff.

Sixteen Democrats voted against the Udall amendment which would have killed this particular provision in the bill - Bob Casey (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Clair McCaskill (Mo.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.).

I'm not surprised to see Landrieu on the list, but my idiot Senator voted against the amendment, too. I suppose Menendez must have gotten an earful about it, though, because there's an update at the bottom of the article saying he asked to have his vote changed to be in favor of the amendment.

Great. Thanks, Menendez. Mebbe next time you can vote the right way without a do over, huh?


By min | November 30, 2011, 3:39 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link



SOPA and PIPA - Internet Killers

The Congressional bill Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate bill Protect IP Act (PIPA) are two bills that would essentially censor the web. Think China, except for copyrighted materials, not political dissent.

The Motion Picture Association of America is one of the big backers of these bills. According to them, all this infringement going on of their materials is costing thousands of jobs.

We've all heard this before. Pirated songs are taking money away from artists. In all fairness, someone who makes a product ought to get paid for it, but we all know it's not the artist who are losing money on this deal. That's a whole 'nother discussion.

To give examples that affect just about everybody: What about a video of you/your kids/your niece singing a song? A copyrighted song? Or a video of you playing a song on your instrument? Or an image you scanned from a book you own? Better not put that up on Youtube or your blog or Facebook or anywhere because that could be considered "infringement" as far as SOPA and PIPA are concerned. And that suspicion of infringement is all that's needed to get you in trouble with the law.

And that doesn't even cover the part where it just outright breaks the internet.

  • Do you write or distribute VPN, proxy, privacy or anonymization software? You might have to build in a censorship mechanism -- or find yourself in a legal fight with the United States Attorney General.
  • Even some of the most fundamental and widely used Internet security software, such as SSH, includes built-in proxy functionality. This kind of software is installed on hundreds of millions of computers, and is an indispensable tool for systems administration professionals, but it could easily become a target for censorship orders under the new bill.
  • Do you work with or distribute zone files for gTLDs? Want to keep them accurate? Too bad -- Hollywood might argue that if you provide a complete (i.e., uncensored) list, you are illegally helping people bypass SOPA orders.
  • Want to write a client-side DNSSEC resolver that uses multiple servers until it finds a valid signed entry? Again, you could be in a fight with the U.S. Attorney General.

According to Rebecca MacKinnon of the NYT:

The bills would empower the attorney general to create a blacklist of sites to be blocked by Internet service providers, search engines, payment providers and advertising networks, all without a court hearing or a trial. The House version goes further, allowing private companies to sue service providers for even briefly and unknowingly hosting content that infringes on copyright -- a sharp change from current law, which protects the service providers from civil liability if they remove the problematic content immediately upon notification.

SOPA is still in committee and Nancy Pelosi has come out against it, but PIPA is ready to go to the Senate floor. Conyers (D-MI) is one of the co-sponsers which is pretty disappointing. Senator Wyden (D-OR) has promised to filibuster this bill by reading out the names of everyone who signs the petition against it. I think that's awesome. I wish our representatives had a little more Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in them.


Take that SOPA/PIPA!


By min | November 30, 2011, 8:45 AM | Liberal Outrage & Movies | Comments (0)| Link



As Long as It's the Right Type of Anxiety


By min | November 29, 2011, 12:35 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Department of Homeland Security Behind OWS Crackdown

Two weeks ago, I heard about students at UC Davis who were pepper sprayed at point blank range while doing nothing more than sitting on the ground with their arms linked. I heard that the NYPD raided Zuccotti Park in the middle of the night, making sure the media couldn't cover it either by penning them far away from the park or arresting them.

Three weeks ago, I heard about students at UC Berkeley who were beaten with batons by campus police in riot gear for standing with their arms linked. In Oakland, I heard that cops shot a guy with rubber bullets for filming the Occupy protest.

Five weeks ago, I heard about Scott Olsen ending up with a fractured skull when Oakland PD used tear gas and rubber bullets on the protesters.

What i haven't heard is a peep from anyone in our government saying anything against the excessive use of force on civilians. I was so pissed off about it that I wrote to my Senators and my Representative asking them wtf. I mean, all i wanted was a placating "The police overreacted. In America, our citizens have the right to express their opinions. We don't condone the violence and urge our officers to act in a way that will protect the members of the public." What i got was alot of nothing. I didn't even receive the automated "Thanks for writing to me. We'll get right back to you on that." email.

Now I find out the Department of Homeland Security is involved with coordinating the crackdowns nationwide on Occupy protesters.

The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on "how to suppress" Occupy protests.
...
Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors', city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.
...
For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, "we are going after these scruffy hippies". Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women's wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).

In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces - pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS - to make war on peaceful citizens.

Now the silence from my Senators and Representative is explained.

Even if it's not a "everyone's in on it" conspiracy, the fact that the DHS was involved at all is a huge red flag. That all this violence against protesters is the result of their counseling is a serious problem because it means beating someone down because we don't like what they're saying or doing is the right response, the government sanctioned and recommended response. It means we have more in common with Egypt, Syria, and China than we should be comfortable with.


By min | November 29, 2011, 11:26 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4)| Link



As expected

Simpson-Bowles is now the centrist position.


By fnord12 | November 23, 2011, 9:33 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Open Letter to UC Davis Chancellor

18 November 2011

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Read more...

I'd provide the link for you to tell the Chancellor how you feel about her method of ensuring a "safe and welcoming environment" for the students, but it seems the outrage has already broken the site. Whoops.


By min | November 19, 2011, 9:30 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Meeting 54mpg CAFE Standards Not As Difficult As It Sounds

Cause it really means 36mpg. But more on that later. First, the rant.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced aggressive new rules to raise the fuel efficiency of cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards require an automaker's fleet of passenger vehicles to average 54.5 mpg by 2025. That number extends existing CAFE rules, which set the fleet average at 35.5 mpg for 2016, up from the current level of 27.5 mpg.

It seems so obvious, i don't even know why we're discussing it. Technology is supposed to move forward. Things are supposed to improve over time. With the exception of cars and fuel efficiency, apparently.

Although many car companies said earlier this year that they would support the then-proposed CAFE goals, grumbling has ensued. Automakers have resisted CAFE increases since the early 1980s, each time protesting that redesigns and technology improvements needed to reach the new targets would either be too difficult to engineer or too expensive to manufacture.

So, car manufacturers want us to believe that in 30 years technology is still not up to improving vehicle mileage from 27.5 to 54.5 mpg? Not only that, but it will continue to not be up to meeting this challenge 14 yrs from now. Really? C'mon. Really?? My phone is a computer. My music player is smaller than a deck of cards and holds 160Gb worth of songs. I can beam books onto my ereader from anywhere. You seriously want me to believe that given 44yrs, you can't figure out how to make cars run on less fuel? I'm calling Bullshit.

The kicker is that many of the technology improvements have been sitting on auto industry shelves for years.

AHA! Give me a dollar!

Furthermore, although the new CAFE numbers sound high, they translate into less taxing goals on the road. The mileage ratings come from running cars on machinery in labs that do only a fair job of mimicking actual road conditions.

"CAFE mpg still comes from the original pair of tests that are now widely viewed as bad predictors of real-world mpg. The 34.1 mpg CAFE target for 2016 is actually equal to only 26 mpg on a window sticker. The talked-about 2025 CAFE standard -- usually described as 54.5 mpg -- amounts to a figure of 36 mpg combined [highway and city driving] on a window sticker," writes Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at Edmunds.com, on the company's detailed CAFE explainer. (The Edmunds.com site is widely recognized as the go-to place for investigating new and used cars and automotive technology.) So if you walk into a showroom in 2025 and see car with a sticker that says it gets 36 mpg "combined," it meets the CAFE 54.5 mpg requirement. Suddenly the new rules don't sound so difficult to attain.

So, you see, it's really a fuel efficiency of 36mpg in the real world. It really doesn't sound all that impressive or daunting when you put it that way. And it just makes me more pissed off at the car industry who claimed that the only way to meet these standards was to pull up the average by increasing the number of electric cars in their fleet and nobody is going to want that many electric cars.

Well, let me put it this way - I looked at the trend of increasing gas prices, and now I have a Prius. I get nearly 50mpg on it. Suck on that, automakers!


By min | November 17, 2011, 3:26 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Good problems to have

Bad for solar panel manufacturers, but good for the country:

The global solar manufacturing industry is unquestionably headed for a thinning of the ranks, with up to two-thirds of all companies being forced to merge or go out of business thanks to the plummeting price and corresponding oversupply of polysilicon, the raw material used to manufacture most solar panels.

This was actually the reason Solyndra went out of business. Solar panels got too cheap for them to compete. It's a good thing in the long run.


By fnord12 | November 17, 2011, 11:59 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0)| Link



I'm easily convinced

When i saw this chart at TPM...

How did Paris Hilton get in there?  I'm not sure we're comparing apples to apples here.

...and then i saw this comment:

But yet 85% or more of those running for reelection will be sent back. Forget which side you support, that's mind boggling isn't it?

I was like, "Yeah!"

But then i saw this response:

People rarely think THEIR congressperson is the problem. Just everyone else's.

And i agreed with that, too! Of course, my congressman is a rocket scientist.

Leaving my waffling aside, maybe that commentator is right and the 9% approval rating is basically by design. But if so, that illustrates a problem with our system. You'd think at least the supporters of the majority party would be pleased with their representatives. But our system has so many veto points and opportunities for gridlock that nothing ever gets done. So no one is happy. A government needs to be able to actually, you know, govern, so maybe the 91% that is unhappy with Congress can get together and push for a parliamentary system.


By fnord12 | November 17, 2011, 11:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Tell Them Global Warming Doesn't Exist

It's so bad in Mongolia, they're proposing building an ice shield. That's right. I said "ice shield". Science fiction continues to invade reality. Although, "ice shield" is very B-level sci-fi, not like robots or lasers...or robots that shoot lasers.

The project aims to artificially create "naleds" - ultra-thick slabs of ice that occur naturally in far northern climes when rivers or springs push through cracks in the surface to seep outwards during the day and then add an extra layer of ice during the night. Unlike regular ice formation on lakes - which only gets to a metre in thickness before it insulates the water below - naleds continue expanding for as long as there is enough water pressure to penetrate the surface. Many are more than seven metres thick, which means they melt much later than regular ice.
...
The Anglo-Mongolian company believe their proposed use in Ulan Bator could set a positive example that allows northern cities around the world to save on summer air conditioning costs, regulate drinking supplies, and create cool microclimates.

By min | November 15, 2011, 8:23 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0)| Link



Who can relate to insane dwarves?

Tom Tomorrow, reminding us that it's all been said before.


By fnord12 | November 10, 2011, 10:25 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



More Police Aggression at an Occupy Site

Cops repeatedly ram students with batons at Occupy Cal at UC Berkeley today.

What is it with cops and their love of beating down skinny teenagers? I've seen i before when fnord and i used to go to protests. It's not uncommon to see 3 beefy cops tackle a 19 yr old who prolly weighed all of 130lbs when wet. Is it the thrill of an opponent you know has no chance of fighting back, because if that's the case, i think we need better psychological criteria when deciding if someone should be allowed to carry around a weapon and use it at their discretion on the populace.


By min | November 10, 2011, 7:38 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Surprise Discovery: Fracking Contaminated an Aquifer!

Not so much of a surprise to people with brains, actually. Link

A pair of environmental monitoring wells drilled deep into an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyo., contain high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical commonly used in hydraulic fracturing, according to new water test results released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The findings are consistent with water samples the EPA has collected from at least 42 homes in the area since 2008, when ProPublica began reporting on foul water and health concerns in Pavillion and the agency started investigating reports of contamination there.

Last year -- after warning residents not to drink or cook with the water and to ventilate their homes when they showered -- the EPA drilled the monitoring wells to get a more precise picture of the extent of the contamination.

The Pavillion area has been drilled extensively for natural gas over the last two decades and is home to hundreds of gas wells. Residents have alleged for nearly a decade that the drilling -- and hydraulic fracturing in particular -- has caused their water to turn black and smell like gasoline. Some residents say they suffer neurological impairment, loss of smell, and nerve pain they associate with exposure to pollutants.

The gas industry -- led by the Canadian company EnCana, which owns the wells in Pavillion -- has denied that its activities are responsible for the contamination.

How could they possibly blame the fracking? I mean, c'mon. Whose water hasn't turned black and started smelling like gasoline every once in a while? It's a normal, everyday occurrence in Nigeria. Buncha whiners.


By min | November 10, 2011, 5:58 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link



Land of the Free and Whatever

In NYC, they set up this thing called "Sky Watch" and get all twitchy when questioned about its purpose ("it's cause of terrorists"). In Oakland, the cops shot a guy with a rubber bullet for filming the Occupy protest.

We watched the military attacking protesters in several Middle Eastern countries during the Arab Spring, and our government officials released statements urging these governments not to use violence, claiming the moral high ground with certainty because the US allows its citizens to protest and would never attempt to stifle, much less use violence to silence, said protest. Well, they haven't rolled over anyone with a tank and nobody's been chased down by stick-wielding men on horses, so yay them. What's a little fractured skull and ruptured spleen compared to that? Afterall, nobody died. But don't worry. i'm sure the cops just need a little more practice before they get it just right.


By min | November 8, 2011, 6:48 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Supreme Court Considers Warrantless Use of GPS Tracking

Link

The question of whether police need a warrant to affix a GPS tracking device to a suspect's vehicle has made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which begins hearing arguments today. A ruling is expected in the spring.

This case is important because some of the most profound questions relating to privacy in the 21st century turn directly on the handling of the information associated with mobile devices.

When you add in mobile phones, it's not only information on your location, but any information stored on your phone - contacts, emails, calendar info, personal notes, etc.

As pointed out in this article, legislation that is written keeps becoming obsolete very shortly after, if not before, it's passed.

As anyone who has used the newest smartphones can attest, the Ohio State Supreme Court's 2009 statement that cell phones are "are still, in essence, phones, and thus they are distinguishable from laptop computers" now sounds quaint. The belief expressed in the October 2011 court ruling that cell site information only provides approximate location information is already becoming obsolete as wireless network providers continue to upgrade their networks with higher density, smaller cell sites to support increased data traffic. In areas of high population density, cell site information acquired using these emerging networks will often deliver location accuracy rivaling that of GPS.

I know the current makeup of the Supreme Court is 4 crazies to 5 sane people, but i still worry that we might be screwed somehow.


By min | November 8, 2011, 6:00 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link



Disney and Youtube

So, i read this:

Disney Interactive Media and YouTube, a division of Google, will spend a combined $10 million to $15 million on original video series; those shorts will be produced by Disney and distributed on a co-branded channel on Disney.com and YouTube.

Ok, whatever. Disney and Google coming up with an idea that makes them both money. No big surprise there. But then the next line is what i thought was weird.

The channel will also include amateur video culled from the torrent uploaded to YouTube daily.

Wait, what? Disney is going to sell advertising space and split the revenue with Youtube. That makes sense when they're posting their own videos. Exactly where do videos that other people have made and posted come into it? I'm sure there's no intention of splitting revenue with these amateur video makers. Are Disney and Youtube planning on making money off of other people's shit? Do these people want their videos on DIsney's site? Do they have a choice? Have they given up all rights to it by the mere act of using Youtube as a posting medium? What am i missing cause i'm totally ready to believe Disney's just being shady.


By min | November 7, 2011, 3:15 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Not doing so good

This is the 'maximum job loss aligned' chart.  Calculate Risk also has the 'starting-point aligned' chart.

Click the image to see Calculated Risk's analysis, and the post above it as well.

But instead i'm gonna quote this guy:

I feel like I'm in the movie Groundhog Day when it comes to the job numbers. I wake up on the first Friday each month to the same story -- subpar job growth, no budging in key indicators, the insanity of the "anti-stimulus" of bleeding government jobs - and then wake up to it again next month. This month looks like the past dozen: 80,000 jobs were created, while the government sector shed 24,000 jobs.
...
As unemployment only indicates the number of people actively searching for a job, and many are dropping out of the labor force and giving up on finding a job, the unemployment rate tells us less and less. And if the population is growing faster than the number of jobs created, we are losing out. The employment-population ratio tells us the actual rate at which we are employing people. It is currently at 58.4 percent, the same it was in January 2011.
...
But here's President Obama in the 2010 State of the Union giving the wrong message:
Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can't address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree -- which is why this freeze won't take effect until next year -- (laughter) -- when the economy is stronger. That's how budgeting works. (Laughter and applause.) But understand -- understand if we don't take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery -- all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

Given that 2011 has been a lost year for the economy so far, this kind of deficit hawk aggression was the exact wrong call.


By fnord12 | November 4, 2011, 3:04 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Sometimes i just link to Paul Krugman

Oligarchy obfuscators.
On hypocrite and patriots.

Just a point on this that i've made before: we're in a depression here. It's not really a good time to raise taxes on anyone. We can do that later, when unemployment isn't 9%. Now we need to create demand. We're only talking about raising taxes because certain people tried to pivot from economic recovery to deficit reduction. And if we need to reduce the deficit, then we need to tax the people who have all the money. They tried to use this economic crisis as an excuse to cut social programs, and it's backfired on them and now they're on the defensive. Thanks only to the Occupy Wallstreeters, not the Dem leaders.


By fnord12 | November 4, 2011, 2:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link



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