May 18, 2007

I Should Just Quit Watching Debates Anyway

The Republican Party, in its current incarnation, disconcerts me. Actually, I'll go further and say that it pretty much scares me and comes close to keeping me up at night. This is, to a great extent, due to popular Republican stances on the "War on Terror" and associated questions of liberty vs. security and foreign policy.

But even more disturbing is the inability to rationally discuss various facets of policy, especially foreign policy, without resorting to some sort of twisted accusation of 'lack of patriotism'. It's not so much that I disagree with 9/10 of the foreign policy views I hear in a Republican presidential debate, it's that were I to miraculously become a Republican presidential candidate and stand on the stage with them, I'd be called insane, at best. Not a "Hey, I think you're wrong, and I disagree with you, but I can see how you might arrive at that opinion. Now here's why my idea's better," but a "I've never heard of anything so idiotic, and you have no reason for saying what you do. In fact, I'm offended and demand an apology."

Before you think I'm overreacting, you might want to take a look at this short clip from the last GOP debate.

Alrighty, Giuliani's clearly obsessed with his "I was mayor of New York City during 9/11!" talking point.

Now, obviously, I'm not Ron Paul, and I don't agree with everything he says. But he makes a valid point when he brings up the idea that our foreign policy decisions have, you know, actual consequences. And at least he's saying something besides the recurrent "If we leave Iraq, they'll come and murder us in our beds! If we hadn't invaded Iraq, they would have come and murdered us in our beds!" In all seriousness, I expect someone who believes the invasion of Iraq was vital to our national security to be able to lucidly explain why it was necessary. Invoking 9/11 is a cop-out.

The next question is, inevitably, "Ardith, why do you care? I mean, they're all politicians, after all." Which is true. But I do care, and for two reasons. First, I do think Ron Paul is more right than wrong when it comes to foreign policy, and I and my friends and siblings will have to deal with repercussions of the current U.S. foreign policy over the next 40 years. I'm not currently looking forward to that.

So yeah, that's depressing. But even more depressing is the apparently complete lack of any intellectual curiousity; strident adulation of a specific set of talking points, coupled with instant, almost unthinking denial of anything that might call those talking points into question. And this is in a primary debate. What, exactly, makes foreign policy and its relation to events on our shores untouchable when immigration policy, even abortion is debatable?

Of course, it doesn't actually help when FOX News personalities and popular conservative bloggers hear "what we do in and to other countries has consequences" and translate that into "Gasp! Ron Paul thinks 9/11 was an inside job and the Twin Towers were demolished by previously planted explosives!" I mean, I walk away with some doubt as to Gibson and Malkin's ability to hear properly (or have any sort of reading comprehension? I assume there are transcripts of the debate floating around), but others may not be so aware of the facts. But that's another post entitled "Why FOX News is Just as Annoying as CBS."

And this has been tonight's episode of Tirades About Politicians - Pointless Because They Don't Listen To Me Anyway. Thanks for listening, and don't let the piranhas bite.

EDIT: Fixed the YouTube URL.

Posted by Ardith at 10:34 PM | TrackBack

May 15, 2007

Another Year, Another Bout Of Insanity

This looks familiar.

Probably because something similar was attempted last year.

Of course, this year's version of the Intellectual Property Protection Act is even better than last year's, for values of 'better' which include 'stupider', 'more idiotic', and 'closer to the threshold of absolute insanity'.

I've taken the liberty of pulling bullet points from the article linked above:

* Criminalize "attempting" to infringe copyright. Next thing you know, this includes attempting to install MPlayer, and failing miserably because MPlayer is (or at least was) a bear to get running. Next up? Criminalizing even thinking about decrypting a DVD on an unsupported operating system.

* Create a new crime of life imprisonment for using pirated software. To clarify, this life imprisonment would only apply if you endangered somebody's life recklessly or purposefully by using less-than-legally-attained intellectual property. Of course, I thought this sort of thing was already a crime even if you weren't using less-than-legally-attained intellectual property, but if the government says we need new laws, clearly we do.

* Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations. More wiretaps = always better. In this instance, we would be authorizing wiretaps for people attempting to infringe copyright, not merely those who are actually infringing copyright. Given the astronomically high number of new law enforcement officers this would require, we would also completely eliminate unemployment. It's a win-win situation.

* Allow computers to be seized more readily. Yes you, if we think you're intending to use your little piece of electronics to copy a small .mp3 from The Internets, will be allowed to donate said electronic device to further the cause of Truth, Justice, and The American Way Of Civil Asset Forfeiture.

* Increase penalties for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anticircumvention regulations. Now, not only will we be able to throw you in jail for 10 years and fine you a million dollars, but we can take stuff you have lying around as well. It's all for your own good.

* Require Homeland Security to alert the Recording Industry Association of America. To happen when someone tries to import unauthorized copies of musical performances. Because, uh, the RIAA is now a full-fledged arm of federal law enforcement. And more specialler than the MPAA. So there, take that!

Let's not forget, of course, that this year the Attorney General is taking a personal interest in this bit of legislation. Apparently he decided this was more important than trying to remember whether or not he's been spending time attempting to politicize the entire Department of Justice. Such stellar prioritization! I am in awe.

Posted by Ardith at 06:13 PM | TrackBack

May 01, 2007

Piracy + Cars

I ran across this story while wandering around the internet this evening, and it struck me as terribly funny. Mostly because I was creating this dialogue in my head:

Chevrolet Big-Shot: We need to make more money for the company (note: this is, after all why companies exist), so let's build a factory in China where the labor is cheaper!

Other Chevrolet Big-Shots: Excellent idea!

Some time later....

Chevrolet Big-Shots: They're copying our perdy designs and stuff! Doesn't the US have laws against that sort of thing?!

Chevrolet Big-Shot: ....

And this, kids, is why IP laws, when mixed with the global market, are so entertaining.

Posted by Ardith at 06:18 PM | TrackBack