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Liberal Outrage

Really hits me

From Paul Ryan's convention speech last night:

None of us have to settle for the best this administration offers -- a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.

Wow... i never thought of it that way before, but... yeah. That describes my life exactly. That's the world i live in. And i'm not going to settle for it! I demand an adventure, wherein when i get old i will have to pay for my health care with the coins that may or may not have fallen under my sofa cushions. How exciting that will be!

By fnord12 | August 30, 2012, 12:54 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Administrative Subpoenas Bypass Fourth Amendment

I don't know why i bother reading the news. It just depresses me. I should stick with cute pictures of baby guinea pigs in espresso cups or something.

With a federal official's signature, banks, hospitals, bookstores, telecommunications companies and even utilities and internet service providers -- virtually all businesses -- are required to hand over sensitive data on individuals or corporations, as long as a government agent declares the information is relevant to an investigation. Via a wide range of laws, Congress has authorized the government to bypass the Fourth Amendment -- the constitutional guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that requires a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge.

In fact, there are roughly 335 federal statutes on the books (.pdf) passed by Congress giving dozens upon dozens of federal agencies the power of the administrative subpoena, according to interviews and government reports.


Anecdotal evidence suggests that federal officials from a broad spectrum of government agencies issue them hundreds of thousands of times annually. But none of the agencies are required to disclose fully how often they utilize them -- meaning there is little, if any, oversight of this tactic that's increasingly used in the war on drugs, the war on terror and, seemingly, the war on Americans' constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable government trespass into their lives.

That's despite proof that FBI agents given such powers under the Patriot Act quickly began to abuse them and illegally collected Americans' communications records, including those of reporters. Two scathing reports from the Justice Department's Inspector General uncovered routine and pervasive illegal use of administrative subpoenas by FBI anti-terrorism agents given nearly carte blanche authority to demand records about Americans' communications with no supervision.

When the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, perhaps the nation's most liberal appeals court based in San Francisco, ordered Golden Valley to fork over the data earlier this month, the court said the case was "easily" decided because the records were "relevant" to a government drug investigation.

With the data the Alaska utility handed over, the DEA may then use further administrative subpoenas to acquire the suspected indoor-dope growers' phone records, stored e-mails, and perhaps credit-card purchasing histories -- all to build a case to acquire a probable-cause warrant to physically search their homes and businesses.

But the administrative subpoena doesn't just apply to utility records and drug cases. Congress has spread the authority across a huge swath of the U.S. government, for investigating everything from hazardous waste disposal, the environment, atomic energy, child exploitation, food stamp fraud, medical insurance fraud, terrorism, securities violations, satellites, seals, student loans, and for breaches of dozens of laws pertaining to fruits, vegetables, livestock and crops.


Another fabulous move by our lawmakers. You go, Congress! Get those pot smokers off the streets! They're a real menace to society. Who needs stinkin' probable cause and rights and stuff? It's certainly less important than catching people committing food stamp fraud (and probably whilst high! - damn surfers).

By min | August 29, 2012, 12:28 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Is Kevin Drum nuts?

In a post where he's thinking way too hard about why George W. Bush isn't more prominent right now, and, for example, campaigning for Romney (the answer's easy: he's unpopular), Drum works himself into this:

But the real reason is deeper. Bush may have seemed larger than life for eight years, but he left a surprisingly thin legacy. Take his legislative agenda. No Child Left Behind is now widely unpopular among both liberals and conservatives--so unpopular that Congress has spent the past five years assiduously avoiding a vote to reauthorize it. His tax cuts expired in 2010 and are now little more than a political football. His own party wants to repeal key provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley. The Supreme Court has effectively gutted campaign finance reform. On the foreign policy front, his wars are widely viewed as expensive failures. And he was never able to get so much as a vote on Social Security privatization or immigration reform.

That doesn't leave much. Pretty much all that's left is the PATRIOT Act and the Medicare prescription drug bill. That's not much for eight years.

First of all, whatever you think of them, both the PATRIOT Act and the Medicare prescription drug bills are HUGE. So is No Child Left Behind, which is still in effect despite what Drum implies. And "wants to repeal key provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley" is, again, a far cry from saying the law doesn't have any effect.

Drum also massively understates the implications of the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions and the Bush tax cuts. And, maybe because he's a partisan Democrat, he ignores all of the "states secrets" and drone killings, and Guantanamo, and all of the other awful things that Obama has picked up from Bush and happily continued and expanded upon.

This is like saying the legacy of Chernobyl is thin because i hear there is some moss growing there now and the Russian government is considering a land restoration program.

By fnord12 | August 24, 2012, 9:00 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I Saw This and Thought I Should Get Copies for All of My Friends

Cause why wouldn't they want to own a copy of The Dictator's Practical Internet Guide to Power Retention?

In order to derive maximum benefit from the internet, you absolutely must fulfill three prerequisites. As you will see in the next chapter, they are essential to successfully disable anonymity and security, your two greatest threats.

Now, i know you can just download the PDF for free, but i feel that something like this i'd want a physical copy of. That way i can write myself little notes in the margins, highlight the best passages, take it with me after the coup when i'm on the run from those i've oppressed, etc etc.

The book actually talks about the techniques being used to undermine dissent and neutralize movements and, according to Boing Boing, is a "very good critique of the state of Internet liberation technologies -- a critical analysis of what works, what needs work, and what doesn't work in the world of networked technologies that hope to serve as a force for democratization and self-determination."

Ofc, if it does proffer some practical ideas on how to maintain my dictatorial hold on those around me, well, that would be a nice bonus.

By min | August 23, 2012, 1:11 PM | Boooooks & Liberal Outrage | Link

Why Should We Buy Guns When We Can Make Our Own

In a 3D printer.

Earlier this month, Wilson and a small group of friends who call themselves "Defense Distributed" launched an initiative they've dubbed the "Wiki Weapon Project." They're seeking to raise $20,000 to design and release blueprints for a plastic gun anyone can create with an open-source 3D printer known as the RepRap that can be bought for less than $1,000. If all goes according to plan, the thousands of owners of those cheap 3D printers, which extrude thin threads of melted plastic into layers that add up to precisely-shaped three-dimensional objects, will be able to turn the project's CAD designs into an operational gun capable of firing a standard .22 caliber bullet, all in the privacy of their own garage.

"We want to show this principle: That a handgun is printable," says Wilson, a 24-year-old second-year law student at the University of Texas. "You don't need to be able to put 200 rounds through it...It only has to fire once. But even if the design is a little unworkable, it doesn't matter, as long as it has that guarantee of lethality."

I'm sure the inventors of the RepRap are just thrilled.

Someone tell Dave Mustaine he doesn't have to worry about Obama taking away his guns anymore. He can just print as many as he wants.

Fucking Texas...

By min | August 23, 2012, 1:03 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Into the Lungs of Hell was an instrumental, anyway

TPM has one of those periodic articles where a rock band tells a politician to stop using their damn music. This time it's Twisted Sister's We're Not Gonna Take It (Dee Snider: "There is almost nothing he [Ryan] stands for that I agree with except the use of the P90X.").

But i actually thought some of the comments on this one were funny. It starts with:

Here's a simple flowchart for all Republican politicians to consult when wondering if it's okay to use a rock n roll artist's music:

Is it by Ted Nugent?

Yes --> You can use it.

No --> You can't use it.

End of flowchart.

But then someone brings up Megadeth:

Romney and Ryan just need to play Megadeth and Dave Mustaine won't have a problem with it. Think of the. possibilities:

"Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!"
"Set the World Afire".
"Into the Lungs of Hell".
"Holy Wars... The Punishment Due".
"Symphony of Destruction".
"Train of Consequences".
'99 Ways to Die".

And the first response to that.

Holy Krap! Are those real song titles? Geez, has anyone suggested a valium for this guy?

Someone responds to her saying "You're sweet".

But just to stick up for one of my childhood favorites here, Megadeth's songs were typically anti-war, especially anti-nuclear war, and their song titles and lyrics depict the horror of war, not a celebration of it.

Mustaine's crazy right-wing (or maybe just crazy) views are a recent, post-religious conversion development (the latest: "Back in my country, my President is trying to pass a gun ban so he's staging all these murders like the Fast and Furious thing down at the border and Aurora, Colorado, and all the people who were killed there and now the beautiful people at the Sikh temple.").

It's bad enough that Dave Mustaine is a kook now, but i don't like it when these ignorant political junkies attack his back catalog! And i don't think valium would have mixed well with the other things in Mustaine's system at the time.

By fnord12 | August 23, 2012, 7:41 AM | Liberal Outrage & Music | Comments (1)| Link


Joe Biden is written by Brian Michael Bendis:

"Hey, by the way, let's talk about Social Security," Biden said after a diner at The Coffee Break Cafe in Stuart, Va., expressed his relief that the Obama campaign wasn't talking about changing the popular entitlement program. "Number one, I guarantee you, flat guarantee you, there will be no changes in Social Security," Biden said, per a pool report.

Link, via.

By fnord12 | August 21, 2012, 10:31 AM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Appealing to the wonk in all of us

While i've disputed Paul Ryan's policy wonk credentials, i do like this proposal that candidates should take advantage of modern technology and produce some internet videos that explain their policy ideas in detail. The article uses the popularity of the Ross Perot infomercials to show that the public is a lot more hungry for actual policy discussions than the 1 minute attack ads and our content-less televised debates allow for.

By fnord12 | August 14, 2012, 4:36 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The immediate problem

I sort of hinted at this in passing in my first Ryan post, but Yglesias says it clearly:

[F]ocusing attention on the big-picture disagreement between Democrats and Republicans about long-term fiscal policy means we won't be focusing attention on what ought to be the most pressing economic policy issue of our time--mass unemployment and the tragic waste of human and economic potential it represents.

There's always the fact that politicians will try to conflate the two, but they are in fact very different things.

By fnord12 | August 13, 2012, 12:10 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

How Paul Ryan will play

I've already linked to Krugman three times in my "primer", but here's Krugman again (who better to go to when evaluating a guy whose main accomplishment is a budget proposal than an economist?).

In this one, he's reacting to pundits reacting to Ryan. And the main point is that Ryan is good at exploiting the fact that pundits like looking bi-partisan, finding a politician on the right and the left and pretending that each candidate is serious and proposing plans with merit. And as Krugman and others have shown, that just isn't the case with Ryan. His "serious" budget is mostly smoke and mirrors. But most pundits are pretty lazy and don't have the backgrounds to understand this stuff anyway, so the fact that Ryan has a bunch of stuff written down is all it takes to hoodwink them.

By fnord12 | August 13, 2012, 11:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Aww man, now i've gotta pay attention to politics again

I've been pretty ambivalent about the presidential election this year on the grounds that you've basically got two centrists, neither with a viable plan for fixing our unemployment issues. Even though i'm pretty obviously on the left side of things, Obama's been pretty bad on important foreign policy issues (assassinations, state secrets, prosecuting whistle-blowers) and pretty wimpy on nearly everything else, and i've been musing about the fact that if Romney won, at least we'd lose the gridlock in Congress.

But now Romney is moderate no more. He's picked the very radical Paul Ryan as his running mate. "Eliminate medicare and replace it with unindexed vouchers" Ryan. "Cut discretionary spending from 12 percent of GDP now to 3 1/2 percent of GDP" Ryan. "Lower taxes on the rich and create huge deficits" Ryan.

Wherever you fall on these issues, at least now we're getting a real national debate.

The SuperMegaMonkey Paul Ryan primer:

By fnord12 | August 13, 2012, 10:19 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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