Friday, December 21, 2007

The Federal Government's Assault on Internet Freedom

For years now governments in closed societies such as North Korea and China have recognized the power of the Internet when it comes to amplifying the voices of dissent against the seats of power in which they sit. That is why they have restricted the use of the Internet and in some cases banned the Internet entirely.

The message that the United States Federal Government is attempting to send the big boys of the telecommunications industry in recent months is essentially, “Hey, we got your back.” There are three significant events in the legislative branch on the topic of the Internet in recent months that deserve the attention of the public.

The first and most recent development is that the Senate has moved closer to passing a bill that would make large telecommunications companies such as Verizon immune from lawsuits for their cooperation with the Federal Government’s illegal wiretapping of American citizens. This bill would allow the NSA to eavesdrop on phone and internet communications with very limited court oversight, and absolutely no warrant would be necessary if “surveillance (is) directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States."

This more recent bill when considered along side House Resolution 1955(which would assemble a committee that would be assigned to studying the origins of homegrown terrorism) has led some to believe that they would essentially be building a case to enact legislation to tighten up the free and open media in the United States which is already under threat. This war would be waged against generally smaller, independent forms of media and would be justified under the guise of defending against homegrown terrorism.

House Resolution 1959 has this to say about Internet use in the United States:

“The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”

Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul reacted to this portion of the bill by saying this in a speech on the House floor:

“The legislation specifically singles out the Internet for facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States. Such language may well be the first step toward US government regulation of what we are allowed to access on the Internet. Are we, for our own good, to be subjected to the kind of governmental control of the Internet that we see in unfree societies? This bill certainly sets us on that course.”

The third prong of this attack that is recently moving forward is the relaxing of rules by the FCC, which would allow companies in large markets to own both a major newspaper as well as a major television channel.

So as the independent voices on the Internet come under threat, the FCC strengthens the control of institutions that already have an amplified voice that is far reaching.

An example of this taking place on a national scale is Ruppert Murdoch(owner of New Corp. which owns Fox News, who just last week assumed control of the Wall Street Journal, not hiding the fact that he will be using a “hands on” approach.

Ron Paul is the only candidate that is opposed to regulating the Internet. The supporters of regulating the Internet are sure to use examples of children being “bullied” on the Internet (in addition to the terrorist angle). While these are legitimate concerns, these cases very often involve minors, and when it comes to regulating the Internet for minors it is the parent or legal guardian’s job not the job of the Federal Government. The real goal of the Federal Government here is to beat back the dissent that is beginning to have a widespread voice in this country because of organization on the Internet. They think the Internet is great as long as it stays in its intended realm, which is e-commerce.

The establishment across the spectrum is terrified by what they see the Ron Paul campaign accomplishing on the Internet by being the rallying point for dissenters. The success of the Paul campaign is proof that the Internet is still in its Wild West era and it is in the best interest of civil liberties in this country that we keep it that way forever.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The New Model for Revolution

As the Republican race comes down the home stretch before the first vote is cast in Iowa, the outcome is anything but certain. More clear than what the eventual voter totals will be is that the campaign of Ron Paul has built an underground infrastructure of funding, organizing and promoting that may very well mark a significant paradigm shift not only in political campaigns but in the organization of dissent against the United States government and governments around the world. For a moment lets take the backhanded compliment that Ron Paul’s campaign often receives, pundits will essentially say that he has a small but extremely vocal group that is highly motivated and well funded. Fair enough, lets take that criticism and see how and why the Ron Paul supporters have been able to bring together just that, a vocal, motivated, passionate and well funded group that spans not only the United States but to some extent the globe (there are meetup groups in Berlin, Paris, London, Tokyo, Sydney, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Cape Town…the list goes on and on).

It is the age of isolation in this country. People sit most nights alone or with a few others in front of their computers or television screens and wake up the next day to ride alone in their cars on the way to work where they sit isolated in their cubicle or work amongst people that only feel comfortable talking small talk as their freedoms evaporate around them. Then on the weekends Americans drive off to their divided places of worship or cheer for their hometown team against their neighbor’s team. Our country is divided and we are lost, so lost and isolated that it is hard to know where to start in order to turn this thing around. Thank God Ron Paul has come along, spent his life infiltrating the system and now has presented a means for organization, a shorthand for the revolution, the Ron Paul campaign.

Even Ron Paul himself thought he was alone and was hesitant to begin the campaign. Now it is becoming increasingly clear that the only people that are truly against Ron Paul are those that are desperately trying to hold onto their power, and unfortunately trying to control the minds and decisions of those that still believe that they are alone and that the thoughts that they think and the dreams that they dream are crazy…so they dismiss them. People in the United States are told repeatedly that only reasonable portions of their dreams are possible, and unfortunately sometimes the paranoid and desperate individuals that are in power in this United States government succeed in convincing millions of citizens that their situation in this world is hopeless, they should just be happy that they have not yet been murdered by terrorists.

Those who are part of this campaign in its early stages are seeing the inner workings of how mass movements gather momentum and rise up against the powerful few. Despite not being acknowledged as legitimate in the old mass media paradigm, networks of people have found each other through the internet and word of mouth and they have used these tools to organize locally and to gather together in geographical places of influence (New Hampshire/Iowa). The internet is to this freedom movement what the network of churches and universities was to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. The movement has also used the Internet to accomplish goals that have surprised the people enslaved to the old paradigm, unable and unwilling to adapt because, and only because, it is where their power is rooted.

It is very important to understand that this freedom movement has no leader, only representatives, and it is because of this structure that major victories can spring up from any corner of the movement (i.e. Trevor Lyman).

The movement is far from reaching its full capacity, but even in its infancy it has accomplished and inspired the gathering of $4.3million in a single day, a blimp flying up the eastern seaboard going from an idea to reality in weeks, and a general takeover of English language social networks and media outlets on the World Wide Web. This message has gathered hundreds and often times thousands of people at hundreds of different locations throughout the United States. Citizens are not coming together to watch celebrities speak, they gather to assure each other that they are not alone in their fight, a fight whose victory promises to be difficult but achievable because the message is so universal.

When this movement reaches its full potential, the country will change. I can foresee demonstrations of millions organized and funded in a week’s time (this is not to mention that we could possibly see a shifting of the protest paradigm as well, moving away from the mass demonstration towards nationwide local demonstrations in solidarity with each other). The demonstrations and protests will be taking place for a variety of reasons: to beat back the latest insane legislation or simply to demand peace, life, freedom and liberty. It will not matter if the old media paradigm shows up to cover the mass demonstrations. The reason the old media’s presence will not matter is because this movement will be operating their own cameras and the images will broadcast around the world within hours. Then the establishment will begin to realize that this revolution is not within their reach to smash or even make pretty, and then my friends…the true battle will begin.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rick Perry supports Giuliani

Following in the tradition of Pat Robertson, Republican Governor of Texas Rick Perry who in the past has been known as a social Christian conservative, is backing Rudy for the GOP nomination in Texas, going as far as to file Rudy's papers for him. This has fueled speculation that Rick Perry will be Giuliani's Vice Presidential candidate, if Rudy goes on to win the nomination. This would make perfect sense because Rudy will be looking to balance out the ticket with a social conservative from the south because Rudy's biggest flaw in the eyes of many in the Republican base is his stance on abortion, gay marriage, and immigration. Sadly I really do believe that all would be forgiven to a certain extent if Perry runs with Rudy.
So you heard it hear first a Giuliani/Perry ticket next year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Here We Go: The Problem of Helicopter Ben

Let's go ahead and make our debt a little less valuable doing Benny boy's favorite maneuver: the ol' helicopter drop. This is the same Bernanke that firmly believes in having a buffer zone for the inflation rate exist(this explains the rate climbing to 5.25 this summer), and because of this believe, initial cuts will seldom have an impact that is substantial. This buffer might prove to be so significant that we may see interest rates plunge lower than they have in years. We know that he is willing to go very low because he has gone as far as to lay out the option of lending to the private sector with a interest rate of zero-he would have to do this indirectly through banks, but there is no doubt it would be effective in the short term by flooding the market with liquid capital while not forcing the market to take on any unwanted debt. But the dangers of this are almost unthinkable, say it with me, loud enough so Ben can hear from up in his Helly: INFLATION!
Ben has made it extremely clear that he doesn't fear inflation. But there is one problem with most of his philosophies that he seems to hold dear: they were formed and first implemented when crude was at 40 dollars a barrel and Iraq had yet to become the disaster it is today. In other words the broad tax cuts that would ordinarily solve this problem simply are not an option.
But the real problem, or should I say the real cause: is that the capital is not where it is supposed to be, and this is because when a year's worth of houses hit the market at once last month(with many more expected to hit soon, suddenly billions of dollars of bank's capital were tied up in bricks, floorboards and windows and its not looking to get much better.
While the Street was praying for a bigger cut, Main Street better hope that somebody starts spending, because if the masses wait to long so to buy a house you'll have to fill it with cash, and the reason would be inflationary as well as the fact that even Bernanke's going to have a tough time getting a decent loan soon.
Note to the Reader: This is the first post I have ever written on economic policy, so if I don't know what I'm talking about or if I do, leave me a comment and let me know.

The danger of House Resolution 1955

If you do a Google news search on House Resolution 1959, you will find that it was not covered by any major news outlets. This is not very surprising considering that the House passed the bill under what is called suspension of regular order. Suspension of regular order is used when bills are considered uncontroversial, so there is less time given to debate as to why the bill is necessary.

I'm not going to do an in depth analysis on the subject at this moment, but thought it was worth highlighting a few points of the H.R.

The bill has passed in the House 404-6 with 22 congress members not being present. It is also likely that the bill will pass with bipartisan support in the Senate, and is not threatened by a Presidential veto.

The title of the bill is the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. Now what could possibly be wrong with a bill that seems to be concerned with the safety of the American people? Well let us take a look at the language used in the bill.

Here are the key terms defined in the H.R. 1959:

(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.

(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term `homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.

The language is extremely vague and in an age when our government is not willing to equate the act of water boarding with the word torture, I get extremely concerned with the ambiguity of the definitions listed above. With these definitions it is very easy to see how the Act could be used to target dissent against this government by way of protest. For example someone who is proven to have planned to threaten the use of force for social change(using the language found in the text) whatever that means is now a terrorist by definition.

Now some supporters are saying, that H.R. 1959 will be used appropriately to protect us against the danger that exists here in America. A question you have to ask yourself if you feel this way is 'why are the laws that are already in place not sufficient to deal with these threats, why is H.R. 1955 needed.'

Some supporters of the bill attempt to downplay its power, dismissing it as essentially non-binding and only setting up a committee for observation but that is not the whole truth. While this it is true that the bill is a non-binding resolution, they are missing the fact that the committee will indeed act. If you think Congressional committees such as this one are assembled simply to study and never act then you are simply mistaken.

What we are guaranteed to see from this committee is for them to take an isolated event where an anti-war, anti-abortion or anti-government group acted out violently and universally criminalize the activities that they participated in leading up to the act of violence. One of those activities already listed in the bill is communication of ideas through the internet. It is worded this way in H.R. 1959:

(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.

This “finding” is sure to shape the activities studied in the committee. As Congressman Ron Paul(R-TX) stated when on the floor of the House:

“The legislation specifically singles out the Internet for facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States. Such language may well be the first step toward US government regulation of what we are allowed to access on the Internet. Are we, for our own good, to be subjected to the kind of governmental control of the Internet that we see in unfree societies? This bill certainly sets us on that course.”

I would not trust the government, once granted power to regulate the internet, to not protect themselves from dissenters.

Now some people may say that I am being an alarmist, but I would rather fight this bill before it is law rather than have to fight the very well funded powerful committee, but most likely and quite ironically the fight will take place against this committee by organizing on the Internet and protesting in the streets. Sometimes the best way to defend a right is to exercise that right.

The full text of H.R. 1959 can be read here:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Israeli leadership shows true colors in wake of NIE report

The paragraphs that followed appeared in the Jerusalem Post on December 5th 2007

"Several Jewish officials participated in a conference call arranged by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Tuesday, a day after the declassified report was released, to discuss the effect of the findings on their outreach efforts.

"It was a lot of people saying, 'Oh My God! How are we going to talk about this now? We have to be very careful about our messaging,'" said one participant who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He said that he was struck by the lack of discussion of the implications of the report on its merits and whether it should cause any rethinking within the community on the issue of Iran.

"You have to take the report as positive. I was happy when I saw it," he said.

But, according to the official, the reaction was largely negative and the call mostly focused on how to reshape the message on Iran - away from the immediacy of the threat and towards an emphasis on Iran's role in terrorism and human rights abuses. "

You have to ask yourself why Israel learning about proof that their neighbor not having an active nuclear weapons program to be a negative thing. And the first thing the leaders are talking about is changing their message about why Iran is dangerous. Watching the news in the next few days is going to be like taking a advanced PR class.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ron Paul fighting to speak outside of predetermined debate in MSM

Ron Paul fights the assumptions of the MSM

If Ron Paul is to connect with the average voter he is going to need to figure out how to answer the Main Stream Media’s (MSM) questions in the time allotted without compromising his integrity. Since Ron Paul’s answers have underpinnings that do not rely on the assumptions often relied upon in the MSM, he must deconstruct many layers of common misconceptions before he is able to answer the question and have any hope that the average viewer will understand his reasoning. It definitely will be a tough battle to fight but it can be done. Preferably he will do this one question at a time.

For instance when answering questions posed about the war in Iraq, Ron Paul is operating under a completely different set of assumptions than the journalists asking the questions and in most cases the audience listening to his response.

The argument in the MSM concerning the Iraq war is essentially debating how well the war is going for the United States military. The measure of success used by the MSM in gauging the US military’s success is to estimate how close the United States forces are to completely controlling the country of Iraq, security wise as well as politically.

In contrast to the MSM and the GOP’s establishments arguments, the argument that Ron Paul is making against the war is based on his belief that the United States had no authority to invade Iraq unless their was clear evidence that the United States homeland was in imminent danger.

The path I need to go down in order to make this point is a long and winding road but it is the reality that Ron Paul faces every time he appears on a pundit show. And he is usually given only the 8 minutes or less that exist between commercial breaks to navigate this complex landscape.

So for example when Ron Paul says he wants to pull the troops out of Iraq immediately, the average American who gets their news from the MSM assumes that Paul wants to get out because the war is not going well, so then the journalist’s follow-up question, following this logic is, “But the surge is going so well why not stay the course?” Ron Paul can then answer this question by stating that the United States should have never sent troops into Iraq in the first place. Then most likely the reporter will assume that he opposed the initial invasion because of the lack of evidence of WMDs. Then Paul has to explain that he is against acts of aggression as intervention, that even if they had the weapons it is not really our problem, if for no other reason than we cannot afford war. The MSM reporter is usually disgusted by this response and asks if Ron Paul is for military action in any situation, implying that because he is against preemptive war he is a border line pacifist. Ron Paul then has to explain that he is willing to protect our homeland under the threat of an eminent attack and even then war has to be declared by Congress. Usually by this time in the interview there is just enough time left for the reporter to inform Ron Paul that he has no chance of winning, to which Paul replies that he disagrees because of the fundraising numbers and then the reporter laughs, thanks Dr. Paul and goes to commercial, and Ron Paul had barely scratched the surface. He didn’t get a chance to point out that the war on terror is simply a fabrication of the administration as a pretext for their agenda in the Middle East. He doesn’t mention this because it is so far out of the established debate going on in the MSM that it would take him a full hour to justify making such an accusation even though he does have the evidence at his disposal.

So in this way Ron Paul has a much more difficult time clearly expressing his views in the context of the established debate in the MSM. While on the other hand, establishment candidates such as Hilary Clinton have a much easier time because they have agreed with the logic and assumptions of the MSM on the Iraq war. All of the mainstream candidates weigh in on the Iraq war within the predetermined confines of the MSM’s debate.

Somewhere along the line our democracy became defined by shouting on cable television shows. And I really would like to believe that Ron Paul’s integrity could transcend this political environment. I firmly believe that he could do this by sticking to one issue for every commercial sandwiched appearance. Hour long sit downs and debates are obviously a different issue. He simply cannot afford to let his answers go unexplained, there is just too much at stake in this battle he is fighting.

He is also facing a formidable foe in the MSM, who are not as na├»ve as they appear to be. They know exactly what they are doing by forcing Ron Paul to play within the confines of the predetermined game. They know that he will have to spend all of the time he is given explaining his answer, so as not to look as though his arguments have no basis in reality. And thus far they are doing a decent job of this. Stephen Colbert has summed up this tactic so often used by the MSM against those who speak the truth with this question, “George W. Bush, great President or the greatest President.” Hopefully Ron Paul is learning to laugh at the ridiculousness of the question and proceed to give them an eight minute education.