Monthly Archives: January 2012

Here’s one great tool to help track efforts to censor the net!


Listening to NPR this afternoon as I was driving and while I missed some of the details (such as the name of the lady speaking.  It was a short drive!)  However, she was representing the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  The most salient point that I wanted to be sure to share with what loyal readers I may have, and with all who care about the freedom of the internet around the world, is that the EFF has a new site to help address specifically the complaint that many of us have raised.

How the hell are we supposed to keep track of all the threats in the ongoing war?  As I wrote immediately following the SOPA strike, it’s an ongoing battle, not a one day action!  There are already new threats out there.  In fact, there are threats that appear to be even more insidious, and appear to be drawing even less notice.  I am speaking of ACTA, H.R. 1981 (which also thanks to the EFF you can speak out against it here!), and more.

So, what’s the answer?  Keeping up with it all is a Herculean task.  It is many full-time jobs.  Truly.  And, in part you simply have to make an effort.  In part though, we have the efforts of groups like EFF to thank.  Here is one of their latest efforts.

Global Chokepoints is an online resource created to document and monitor global proposals to turn Internet intermediaries into copyright police.

I think they describe themselves just fine, so I’ll let their words speak for themselves:

Global Chokepoints is an online resource created to document and monitor global proposals to turn Internet intermediaries into copyright police. These proposals harm Internet users’ rights of privacy, due process and freedom of expression, and endanger the future of the free and open Internet. Our goal is to provide accurate empirical information to digital activists and policy makers, and help coordinate international opposition to attempts to cut off free expression through misguided copyright laws, policies, agreements and court cases. Scroll down to see a list of countries currently featured for threatening free expression through copyright censorship.

In other words, they’re going to serve as a central clearinghouse for information about these efforts around the world.  Not just here in the US.  This is important.  Especially with the forces of the US working to manipulate and blackmail other countries to implement these same restrictions, even when those other countries don’t particularly want them (and, the original source in Spanish here.)

It’s not perfect or complete, but it is a good resource to add to your list.

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WTH? Registering voters is too expensive to do?


I stumbled across this short, older article while looking for data for another post, and I found it truly frightening.  I couldn’t let it go without comment even though it is now over 3 years old.  In large part because I am absolutely certain that the so-called “thought” behind the first couple ‘paragraphs’ is still there.

These days, everyone who gets a driver’s license is asked the question: “Do you want to register to vote?”

And most answer yes. That’s why 64,575 voters are registered in a county with less than 100,000 citizens.

Here’s the problem with that answer: it’s driving up the cost of elections.

“We have to print a ballot for every one who is registered to vote,” said Joe Campbell, supervisor of elections. “If you’re going to vote, we have to have a ballot for you.”

For the Aug. 26 state primary, for instance, Highlands County paid about $20,000 for ballots, said Norma Stokes, assistant supervisor.

Did you catch that?  Essentially what the first 103 of 468 words of this article says is this, the more people registered to vote, the more expensive it is.  The implication is that registering people to vote is an expensive waste of time.

What?  You don’t think that’s what they meant to imply?

And most answer yes. That’s why 64,575 voters are registered in a county with less than 100,000 citizens.

Here’s the problem with that answer: it’s driving up the cost of elections.

Just under 65% of the county’s citizens are registered, and the “problem” is that it is driving up the cost of elections.

This should frighten every one of us.  While we certainly have issues with fiscal responsibility as individuals and as a country, the answer to that is not to in ANY way limit legitimate access to participation in civic rights and responsibilities. We have serious issues in this country in that we do not have enough participation.

The article goes on to discuss the costs of staffing polling stations and why voters don’t turn out for elections.  The latter is a legitimate issue, but the heart of the matter there is ignored, and the former, is relevant, but can’t be addressed by making it more difficult for people to register.  We do need answers to reduce the costs of elections, and there are many good ideas for that.  Some of which are technological in nature, some social, some educational, and some political.  As with all complex problems, the solution isn’t simple.

We have evolved beyond solving every problem with a bigger hammer.


It’s an ongoing battle, not a one day action!


Good news!  SOPA and PIPA have been “indefinitely shelved”.  We won!  Well, we did, right?  Yes, and no.  We won this battle.  We did not win the war!  We cannot forget this.  Let me say that again, because it is really important.

 We cannot forget that we only won a battle.  The war continues!

The SOPA/PIPA battle was not the first in this war.  They will not be the last.  They’re not even the last current battle.  New legislation has already been introduced that we have to raise our voices against, in H.R. 1981.  (More here)  (And, thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, you can speak out against it here!)

So, what can we actually do?  There are many things.  One thing that we have to do is stop putting the same ridiculous power structure in place.  We have to stop voting for the same Republicrats and Democans who have been bought and paid for by the powerful money interests who no longer share the same interests as the rest of us.  Those same interests, who no longer even represent the interests of the content creators who they, perhaps, once represented.  These Republicrats/Democans are just going to keep introducing bills into the system until they accomplish their goals.  And, one day they’ll get one through.  Either because someone wasn’t paying attention so the word didn’t get out, or the public was too weary or distracted with other issues, or simply by slipping small pieces of it in with other bills until the total is there.

The truth is that immediately after our victory, the government acted to show us that they didn’t need these new “tools” in order to achieve their nefarious deeds when they shut down the largest file locker site on the net, megaupload.com.  Don’t go looking.  It’s done.

Last I checked, there were 10 arrests.  And, this was a site which had the backing of MAJOR content providers.  People like Swizz Beatz, Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Kanye West, among others.

(Just for the record, I am not nor have I ever used megaupload.com.  This is not because I am opposed to it. I am just not that big a user online.  I have a dropbox account and that serves my purposes thus far.  However, I see this as a threat in the war, and I take it personally!)

This guy makes some really valid points in a very blunt style, but he also misses the point.   Still, it is worth reading.  Mainly it is worth reading because it is important to understand that the part he is right about is this.  The blackout by itself is pointless.  It is only one aspect.  We must ALSO act.  We must also boycott those who support the forces who introduce these bills.  We must also call, email and sign petitions.  We must ACT.  Not just abstain from action.

 Now comes this:

This is almost impossible to achieve, but if we as a community could actually pull it off, then it would be extremely effective.  We would have to each, as individuals, commit to it and follow through on it.  That’s the really hard part.  The follow through.  Not only no purchasing, but no downloading.

But, I suggest we take it even further.  Many of you like to shop.  I suggest that you continue shopping.  Do it.  Shop in the stores.  Shop on line.  Fill those shopping carts.  Don’t fill them needlessly.  Fill them with what you actually want.  Get them all the way up the point of purchase, then, leave them a note instead, “These are the items I would have purchased.  However, in order to make MY voice heard as a consumer and as the ENGINE that drives the economy, be it known that I am intentionally abstaining from this purchase that I could have made.  I am doing this so that those who would try to censor the internet in order to recreate their profits will hear my message.  Hands off!”   From there, the store can spend the labor costs to restock.  Online, they’ll have a bunch of shopping carts, and it won’t have the same impact.  Still, leave a link to the static page where that graphic above is housed and the word will get out.

As illustrated by the constantly changing list of organizations that supported SOPA and likely have supported the other incarnations, to conduct a true, targeted boycott would be nearly impossible.

I think it’s really key though to also not download illegally.  It needs to be as close to total as possible.  Seriously people, don’t we have enough music, movies, TV shows, books etc that we could keep ourselves entertained for one month without getting new?  Couldn’t we use the library or visit with our friends?  Aren’t there plenty of things we could do?  I get that most of us are addicted to getting the newest of these things, and I have NO idea what is scheduled for release.  I promise you though, whatever it is, it will still be available in May.  And, if we all go without getting it, and we let them know that this is why, in May, the sales will be awesoooommmmeee!!

So, you win either way.  You just have to show a little patience and perseverance.  A little delayed gratification.


Why Sciamage participated in SOPA/PIPA Blackout on January 18, 2012


On January 18, I personally joined the protest and did my part to help make part of the internet dark.  Why?  I’m neither a big company nor a well-known personage.  My lone voice doesn’t reach millions.  So, then, why did I do it?  A number of reasons.  Let me back up.

First, why would I want to?  Simply because SOPA and PIPA are over-reaching, poorly designed pieces of legislation.  While I understand the stated intent of each, they can be likened to trying to kill a gnat with a howitzer.  Rather than rehash all the various reasons myself when they have been so well stated by others, let me direct you to others who specialize in those topics and who have written very clearly about them.  Perhaps the three most definitive articles on SOPA and PIPA: Free Speech, Problems, Security  (These links borrowed, with appreciation, from the page put together by Fight for the Future,specifically for the January 18 blackout.)  Another well written article on the subject can be found here, in discussion about the blackout, Wikipedia, others staging anti-SOPA blackout; White House weighs in.

“But,” some have said, “President Obama has recently come out against SOPA.”  Though I note he hasn’t quite threatened a veto.  And, in actually, HE, hasn’t exactly come out against it.  A statement signed by Victoria Espinel, intellectual property enforcement coordinator for the Office of Management and Budget, federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Howard Schmidt, the administration’s cybersecurity coordinator was issued that kind of, sort of, but not solidly comes out against it.  However, I also must point out that this is the same president who said that he would veto the 2012 NDAA authorizing indefinite detention of American citizens, and then showed he is a spineless coward without a leadership bone in his body by signing it.  He instead gave us a signing statement promising that “his administration” would never apply that portion.  (Even if we trusted that, we have to recognize it doesn’t apply to other administrations.)  Among the many other things he’s done thus far in his tenure, this shows his word is unreliable.

So that is where my opposition to these laws comes from.  Why would I participate in these blackouts?  Several reasons.  First, it is a form of direct action.  In these modern digital times, participation online, or lack thereof in a unified and planned action, IS direct action.  Failure to recognize this is simply not “keeping up with the changing times”.  It is, to put it bluntly, living in the past.  It is akin to the people who argue that writing an e-mail is not the same as writing a letter.  It is ignorant.

Second, I have e-mailed and called both Senators from my state and my Representative to make my voice known that way.  So, these things are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, if you visited any of the sites participating in the blackout on 1/18, you would have seen a link of some sort directing you to ways to contact your elected representatives.  NOONE was advocating this as the only means of action.  This was only one, and only one significant way of showing not only some solidarity but also consensus of the net.  A place that very rarely achieves a anything remotely approaching a consensus.  A place where that very lack of consensus is, in fact, highly valued!  I have signed petitions.  I have engaged in conversations and debate.  I am actively involved in a variety of means to combat this at every level of my life.

So, what did I do?  Well, I did most of the things that I normally do with my day, but the question is more specifically, what did I do in relation to this blackout?  I logged out of my social networking sites.  No Facebook.  No Google+.  No Twitter.  No WordPress.  I didn’t even leave myself logged in and just walk away from the computer, like I am wont to do.  Prior to logging out, I posted one last status indicating my participation in the blackout.  For those sites that send notification to my phone, it was kind of hard not to respond when I got notifications from people who were not participating.  (I had one friend who I think was intentionally trying to goad me into responding, but I refrained.  *chuckle*)  I wrote this.  I read.  I worked.  I visited with the kids.  I thought.  I continued with my life.  It wasn’t that difficult as I read and heard some of my friends suggesting it would be for them to do to abstain from the social networking sites for the day.  Though, I do admit that there were a few moments through the day when I almost forgot and jumped on.  I had to remember, and then I thought about why I was abstaining.

And, that, my friends is precisely the point.  That is the point of abstaining from those sites today.  To help you remember.  To remember and reflect on what the effect would be of these intrusive and obtrusive pieces of legislation could potentially do.  The censorship that could and likely would result.

Let the combined silence, the reduced traffic on the net, speak our displeasure and disapproval of SOPA and PIPA loud and clear.

Let us hope that we have been heard.

It appears that we have been, but we can’t let up now!  It appears that we have gone from 5 to 35 US Senators standing against PIPA and SOPA.  That’s excellent progress.

PS

It’s not too late.  If you have not let your actual voice be heard, contact your elected representatives now.  If you have, do it again!

US House of Representatives Directory

US Senate Directory


We MUST engage!


The reality is that there are only two ways to change a system.

That may sound like an oversimplification, but it really isn’t.  One can either work from within the system or from outside of the system.  From a political perspective, one can either work within the system, or one can work through violent overthrow.  Now, of course, there are multiple flavors of each of these.  Violent overthrow, for example, could come from outside invasion; it could come from home-grown rebellion, or some variation or combination thereof.

Let me be very, VERY clear.  I am not advocating , nor do I support, violent overthrow of the system.  I cannot say that the time will not come, but we are not there yet.  I still, perhaps foolishly, hold out hope to save and reclaim the system.  I still believe that the underpinnings of the system, despite all of its flaws, can be good and workable.  Let me be equally clear about that though.  At this point in American history, it is NOT good, workable, or sustainable.  That is what we have to work to fix!

The other way to change a system, though, is to work within the system.  To take advantage of its structure and its quirks.  To use the system against itself, so to speak.  To do that, one cannot simply continue to support the status quo. One cannot simply withdraw from the system either though.  To do that, allows the forces in play to win.  It allows them, in fact, to grow stronger.

Tune in.  Turn on.  Drop out.  Really?  How’d that work out?  Not so well, actually.  I mean, sure, for a small handful of people it worked out great, but for the larger number, for the society at large, things continued on. Is that what we want?  Do we want a handful of small groups to possibly form nice little communes somewhere?  A few farms that are self-sustaining until the outside world stumbles onto them and ruin them?  Tent cities somewhere that survive until the police or army of the larger society comes in and kicks us out of “their” parks?

Or, do we want to change the world?  Do we want to really impact the world around us?  Personally, I want to change the world for the better.  I want my son, my nieces, my cousins, my friends, and so on to have the world as it can be, not as it is.  Not as I fear it will be, if we do nothing.  I want to find the reset button and push it.  I want to keep all the progress we’ve made in so many ways and get rid of the detritus that has built up.  Flush it right out.  But, not throw the baby out with the bath water!!

So, how do we do that?  We do not do it by isolating ourselves from the rest of our society.  We do not do it by pretending the rest of society doesn’t exist.  Nor by ignoring our history.  We enjoy our computers.  We enjoy our smart phones.  Our cable.  Our satellites.  We want our solar power.  We want all our mp3 players and nifty gadgets.

To some extent OWS took inspiration from the so-called “Arab Spring”.  In those instances, the whole of society wasn’t thrown out.  The people did not withdraw from society.  Nor should we.  But, we do have to make major changes.  I am seeing a very disturbing trend though in that many of the vocal elements of the movement are advocating isolation.  They are advocating separation.  Advocating building parallel structures within society and withdrawing from the rest of society.  This will not achieve the goals that we want.  This will only result in killing the movement.  It will only result in building a larger chasm between the younger and the older elements of our movement.  It will only result in failure of the movement and the continuation of the path that we’ve been on which will lead to the collapse of our society.  Then, we all lose our toys and our security.  And, I suspect that there is an element within our movement that wants exactly that.  That there is a survivalist-anarchist element who thinks there is nothing worth saving in our society.  I disagree.  I think the vast majority of us disagree too.

Many of those outside of the Occupy movement have made light of the movement because of the heavy use of technology by Occupiers.  They have spread images showing us using these as though this were contrary to what we stand for.  Is it?  I don’t believe it is.  And, this is the message that I have answered to them.  We are not anti-capitalist.  We are anti-corruption.  We are opposed to the ridiculousness of a CEO making 1723 times what the average worker earns.  One reason we are opposed to this is that it is unsustainable.

This is a very broad movement, and none of us is really empowered to speak for the movement as a whole.  This is, to some, a strength.  To some, this is a hindrance.  I have long believed that true democracy simply does not work in groups larger than about 200 people.  It is paralyzing in groups larger than that.  It is for that very reason that our “founding fathers” established the representative republic that we have.  The ancient Greeks and many others throughout history have known this too.  What I only recently discovered is that there is, in fact, an academic theory in support of this.  It is called Dunbar‘s number.  In short and in with vast oversimplification, what Dunbar’s theory essentially says is that as the size of the population grows we spend more and more time working on the social cohesion of the group.  Eventually, we’re spending more time maintaining the integrity of the group than we are on achieving the group’s aims.

I still believe this, and, in fact, I think that if we look at OWS in NY we find that they have been forced to admit this too.  The implementation of “Spokes councils” is an implicit acknowledgement of this, despite any denials to the contrary.  I have already witnessed this at my own local Occupy.

Additionally, the primary reason that we as a species have been able to progress technologically to the point that we have is specialization.  Because we have settled and specialized so that one person or group, for example, can produce sufficient food to free another person or group from that duty so that the second person or group can pursue other activities, has allowed that second group to do other things.  Other things, like, oh, go to space?  Devise smart phones?  Sadly, also things like dream up useless and pointless wars.  Dream about taking their neighbor’s goods, and raping their neighbor’s daughters, or sons, too.

We really have to face the truth.  No amount of technology is going to solve this basic problem.  We cannot all stop to vote on every decision that has to be made, and if we are not all voting, then it isn’t a “true” democracy such as many in the Occupy movement want to demand.  That is just not realistic.  It is a beautiful dream.  But, we do not live in that reality.  Nor do we live in the world where all problems and issues will wait until 7pm to be decided so that we can all pause to go through the issues and make a decision.  Which leads us to an added complication.  One that is hugely important.

None of us, and I do mean NONE of us, has the time and resources to be adequately educated on each and every topic.  So, we must either be able to trust others to tell us quickly what we need to know and then jump to a conclusion, and vote, or we have to trust others to act on our behalf.

One of the many criticisms leveled against the consensus-based democracy is that of “groupthink”.  That is, many members want to be accepted by the “cool kids”, and so they either say nothing and wiggle their fingers at the appropriate time, or stand up just to say, “I just wanted to echo what _______ said.”  If someone has the audacity to actually challenge what the facilitators are saying, while still actively and stridently supporting the goals, that person is pushed aside as “not understanding”.  Again, I have seen this in my own local Occupy.  This too gets in the way of actual leaderless, participatory democracy.

Are you beginning to see why “true” democracy just doesn’t work in large numbers?

So, what is my point?  Quite simply, we really must work within the system.  We need to organize politically.  I have maintained all along that the Occupy movement is neither left nor right.  That it is about right versus wrong.  However, I do firmly and proudly proclaim that I am a liberal and that it is my belief that the right is simply lacking in understanding.  History has consistently shown that those who support the right side of the political spectrum cannot survive except by force and deceit.  If we are going to organize politically, we can do so both from the right and from the left.  We can organize on these principles and then we can begin to actually work together to deal with the rest.

The Occupy movement is about getting corruption out of the system.  Are we not primarily for the following?

  1. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act immediately
  2. End the fiction of Corporate personhood
  3. Reinstate fair taxation across the socioeconomic spectrum by
    – closing tax loop holes, and
    – returning rates to pre-1980’s levels
  4. Reign in lobbying from the Left and the Right
  5. Campaign finance reform

We need candidates that will support these issues.  These specific issues.  We need them at all levels, but specifically we need them at the federal level.

Where are you?


Montana Supreme Court Upholds State’s Century-Old Ban on Corporate Money in Elections


In what will really be a rare move on my part, I am posting this story without much comment from me, except to say, BRAVO Montana Supreme Court!

DATE: December 30, 2011

MONTANA SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS STATE’S CENTURY-OLD BAN ON CORPORATE MONEY IN ELECTIONS

RULING SETS UP FIRST DIRECT CHALLENGE TO US SUPREME COURT’S
JANUARY 2010 DECISION IN CITIZENS UNITED v. FEC

‘A Huge Victory for Democracy’

HELENA, MONTANA — The Montana Supreme Court today upheld Montana’s century-old ban on corporate political expenditures in state elections. The Court’s 5-2 ruling sets up the first direct challenge to the US Supreme Court’s January 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which equated corporations with people under the First Amendment and swept away longstanding precedent that had barred corporate expenditures in federal elections. Montana’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act came under legal attack following the Citizens United decision, and Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock has vigorously defended the state’s law in the Montana courts, leading to today’s state supreme court ruling.

Click above to read the full story as reported by FreeSpeechForthePeople.org.  There are links to the actual decision and other relevant documents at the bottom of their story.

Again, bravo Montana Supreme Court!


Ron Paul’s Energy Plan would assault the courts & the environment


While there are many reasons to not support Dr. Ron Paul for POTUS, today let’s take a look at his stance as, and I quote from his 2012 campaign website, “A PRO-ENERGY PRESIDENT”.

All quotes below come from his Issues section, Energy page.  I am going to ignore the statements on this page that are contradictory to his supposed free market stance, for now, as that is a whole other discussion.  I will, for the sake of this discussion, concede that Paul is, in fact, pro-energy, in as much as his platform as he expounds it on his site is all about the creation of energy using current means, and so long as we agree to limit the definition to strictly that.  However, what I am struck by in looking through this particular piece of his platform is the devastating effects it would have in other ways.

Okay, so let’s take two quotes together first:

In fact, much of the “pain at the pump” Americans are now feeling is due to federal policies designed by environmental alarmists to punish traditional energy production – like oil, coal, and natural gas – in hopes of making energy sources they favor more “economical.

* Repeal the federal tax on gasoline. Eliminating the federal gas tax would result in an 18 cents savings per gallon for American consumers.

According to GasBuddy.com, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is just under $3.26 as I write this on 1/1/2012.  So, assuming that his math is correct, and we’d get an $0.18 per gallon savings, then using the national average that gives us approximately 5.5% savings.  That is “much of the ‘pain at the pump'”?  No, sir.  That is ridiculous sleight of hand.  Very simply, gas is so expensive for a host of reasons that have almost nothing to do with the federal gas tax.  It has to do with the subsidies we give them in the form of tax breaks, record profits, and the same general out of control greed that has become endemic in America and which is destroying “good old-fashioned American values”.

Here is the one that really gets me.  I wonder if Dr. Paul honestly doesn’t see the implications of this or if he simply doesn’t care.  I suspect it’s some of both.

* Eliminate the ineffective EPA. Polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create – not to Washington.

Let me start with this statement though.  There is one small kernel of validity in this.  That is, for far too long polluters have not compensated those that they have injured, be they property owners, non-property owning individuals whose health has been affected, or persons or groups who have been adversely impacted in other ways.  To that degree, Dr. Paul is, unintentionally, correct.  I say unintentionally because the reader will note that his only concern is for property owners.  It is striking that as a physician, his concern is about property rights and not about health.  Regardless, let’s move on to the real substance here, since that is part of his failed philosophy and general lack of moral character.  As such, it is not what I want to focus on.

What hit me though as I read this were several very practical matters all centered around the court system.  Our already dramatically over-strained court system.   Starting first with the impact on the system itself.  Think about this.  If we take one case filed by the EPA against one offender, and we split it up so that each property owner now files, we have significantly increased the number of cases in the system.  Let’s be very conservative and say that each polluter only impacts 10 properties.  That is a 10 fold increase in this kind of cases.  Read that again.  A 10 fold increase.  And, that is an extraordinarily conservative number.  Realistically, any polluter that the EPA would go after would have impacted thousands, if not tens of, or hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions.  On a system that is already short on judges.  A system that takes too long to get cases through the system.  A system that is weighted towards corporations.  A system that is very, very expensive to get a case through.  Does this make any fiscal sense?  Is it even practical?  I’m not talking here about wisdom or philosophical approach.  I am talking, simple practicality.

And, what about the impact on the individual?  This is where I think the real intention is.  However, that is my opinion.  What is a fact is that it would have a chilling impact on the individual.  Filing and fighting a court case is expensive.  It can be done in small claims court at a reasonable rate if you represent yourself, but for this kind of case, not only are you not going to be filing in a small claims court, but you’re going to be facing an army of lawyers.  While I am a believer in pro se representation, let’s be realistic here.  The laws and the procedures of the courts have become so twisted and complicated, that if you fail to pick the correct chicken bone from the judge’s merkin under the full moon following the second Tuesday of the fourth week, then that could be enough to have your case thrown out with prejudice, i.e., without any ability to re-file or correct your “mistake”.  Courts are not a place where logic and reason alone apply.  If they were, then we could have a very different discussion.  (If they were, then we could perhaps return to a time when lawyers were, in fact, banned in parts of colonial America.)  For something as complex, wide-ranging, and important as environmental pollution, it is simply not a risk we can take.

All of the above would have the, again I believe intentional effect, of reducing the number of actions filed against polluters.  This would not result in less pollution or more accountability.  In fact, it would have precisely the opposite results.  Companies would be free to pollute with practical impunity.  No one would be holding them accountable.  In the rare situations where someone does actually take them to court, they can drag it out forever with their armies of lawyers, and then in the end, if they do actually somehow manage to lose, they pay off such a small fraction as opposed to the damage they’ve done, that the cost-benefit analysis still comes out in favor of continuing their practice.

Again, as a practical matter, we need to strengthen and streamline both the EPA and the court system, not eliminate the EPA and further strain the courts.

It is also very telling that Paul includes the removal of the EPA and forcing individuals to fight these battles themselves under the heading of being “pro-energy”.  These things are tangentially related to energy, in that the energy industries can be polluters and that our energy requirements will have to be met in some fashion from the environment.  However, energy does not, in and of itself, subsume the environment.  It is part of Paul’s whole business first, and damn the rest approach to things.

In fairness, there is one plank in this platform that I can agree with.

* Make tax credits available for the purchase and production of alternative fuel technologies.

Of course, this is one of those aforementioned statements that contradicts Paul’s proclaimed love of the free market, so I am going to say no more about it for now.

Let’s take a couple of quotes as a group last:

In fact, much of the “pain at the pump” Americans are now feeling is due to federal policies designed by environmental alarmists to punish traditional energy production – like oil, coal, and natural gas – in hopes of making energy sources they favor more “economical.”

* Remove restrictions on drilling, so companies can tap into the vast amount of oil we have here at home.

* Lift government roadblocks to the use of coal and nuclear power.

I do not want to get into the long and on going argument here.  It’s a ridiculous argument at this point.  However, what we see by the above collection of quotes, this 75 of 303 words on the subject of Energy on his platform, is one of two things.  Either a denial of the scientific evidence of human contribution to global warming or a complete lack of ability to understand what that means.  Given his previous career as a doctor, I would hope it’s not the latter, and the former is just frightening.

Look, here’s the reality.  We KNOW beyond any reasonable doubt that we are contributing to global warming.  We also know that there are cycles that the planet goes through.  There are things which it is reasonable and necessary to still be debating on this topic.  However, whether or not we are contributing and whether we should continue more of the same are not two of those things.

Let us be absolutely clear.  At no point EVER has the free market worked to encourage social or environmental responsibility.  These are concepts that have had to be forced onto corporations and their owners by persons of conscience.  Most often in human history by those coming from a religious perspective, though it is not required that it come from such.  No environmental protection.  No child protections.  No protections for workers.  No health care.  In some cases, these things were quickly adopted by companies whose owners saw the utility in doing so.  (After all, a happy and healthy wage-slave is a much more productive one, right?  the same argument which was made to slave owners to treat their slaves better before slavery was outlawed.)

The free market simply doesn’t do that.  The free market encourages taking while one can and then getting the hell out of Dodge, period.  Most people are too wrapped up in their own lives, or too inundated with information to be aware of what is going on in the bigger picture.  We cannot all be aware of everything.  In fact, that is part of what has allowed us to progress as a society.  Specialization.  Without specialization, we would all still be hunter-gatherers.  Specialization can be, and in my opinion has been, taken too far.  However, it is also a necessary fact of our existence.  It is ridiculous and childish to think, for example, that if people in Florida do not want a company to pollute in the Pacific Northwest, then they simply will not buy the product.  In many cases, they won’t even know.

Again, for something as complex and far-reaching as the environment, a larger vision must be maintained.  It requires that persons at all levels and in all locales contribute to being vigilant, but enforcement and protection must not be left to them alone.  We must not put them at an even larger disadvantage before the battle even begins.

Paul’s “pro-energy” stance is like much of the rest of his platform.  It is poorly thought out and inconsistent.  It is really quite juvenile.

That will be quite enough, Dr. Paul.  Go to bed without dinner.  We’ve had enough of your temper tantrum.


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