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Ron Paul supporter determined to outshine anything Democrats might do this election

I… I honestly don’t know what to say.

I am seriously at a loss for words. I can barely get the summary out, because even that sounds so ridiculous that I just want to devolve into murmuring “Jesus Christ Jesus Christ Jesus Christ JesuWHATTHEFUCKISWRONGWITHYOU?!”

A Ron Paul supporter has taken out a full-page ad in the Austin Chronicle asking “strippers, escorts, and ‘young hotties'” to say they’ve had sex with Rick Perry. It also tries to imply that he’s gay as well. … Yeah.

I… … yeah.

I… trying to say something, all I can really do is quote the article:

It’s not even a personal attack. It’s an ad hoping it can make a personal attack later. Is this really where we are?

Well. I’d disagree. It’s clearly a personal attack, in the same way a lawyer asks a question he knows he’s not allowed to ask, because even if opposing counsel objects and it’s sustained, he still got to put it in the jury’s minds. It’s… just so ridiculously blatant, petty, and… I…

… Yeah.

Massive riots? Blame Twitter

As I discussed in a previous post, scapegoating is nothing new, and despite repeatedly being told that Europeans are more enlightened than foolish Americans (and usually being told this by other foolish Americans), it seems to be a favorite activity over there.

Scapegoating is certainly nothing new in the UK. The sheer amount of petty laws they’ve passed and enforced maybe a couple of times is essentially a symptom of this… a sign of a society’s governing class that feels like it’s losing control over the big things, and thus tries to compensate by displaying as much control as it can over the little things. That’s how you get stuff like little old ladies being up on charges for selling a goldfish to a teenager (yes I’m serious), having to show your ID and be over a certain age to buy a fork, as many closed-circuit TV cameras as there are people, things like that.

And now these massive riots look like they’re only going to spread, and one has to wonder if the authorities haven’t already given up on stopping or containing them to a certain extent and are just hoping they exhaust themselves, because they’re already looking for that next scapegoat:

Police are scrutinising tweets and messages on internet forums and could press charges if they consider they amount to incitement to riot.

Now clearly, if the tweets and whatnot were saying “There’s a bunch of cops at 2nd and Briton! Charles, you come up behind them on 2nd, we’ll jump out from the alley!”, that’s one thing. But the tweets and other social media pieces they’re apparently referring to are things like:

A two-minute film of a police car being trashed by rioters was posted on YouTube to a rap soundtrack. The clip finished with the words: ‘The enemy isn’t your own people, the enemy is the police.’

Offensive? Almost certainly. Insensitive? Definitely. But clearly this is free speech protected by the first amendme-… oh, right. Whoops.

But the thing is, it’s pretty clear that the “incitement to riot” phrase is going to be seeing a looot of workout. No doubt they’ll catch people like the complete idiot at the start of the article who’s posting pictures and bragging about the stuff he stole, but there’s no way they’ll catch all or even the majority of people who started or participated in these riots, or even those who actively tried to coordinate them. (Here’s a hint: if they’re dedicated enough shit-stirrers that they’re actively coordinating riots, they’re probably dedicated enough to cover their tracks a fair bit.) But what’s to be done about a populace who is now more scared than ever, less confident in the government and authorities’ power to protect them than ever, and a country more simmering with tension than ever? Have some nice big public smack-on-the-wrist trials for “incitement to riot” because somebody posted a video with rap music and aggressive text overlaid. Sure, it’ll distract you from tracking down anyone who’s actually responsible… but it’ll also distract the citizenry from the fact that you’re incapable of doing so! So net win all around, eh Bobbies?

Again, it’s pretty clear some people were actually using social networking sites to coordinate crime… and these people need to be found. But at this point it seems like the authorities are aiming just as much focus on anyone who tweeted about the subject. Admittedly, at this point it’s just an assumption that they’ll target people who tweeted “Hell yeah! Fuck the po-lice!” as much as anyone, but it’s an assumption built off of prior behavior.

The fact of the matter is that riots happened long before twitter, simply because mob mentality is a powerful thing. Hell, spreading riots happened before phones. You could as easily blame the TV stations for reporting the story (and I imagine the thought of doing so passed through at least a couple of heads). Now, if people were in fact using twitter as more than a round of cheerleading, fine… but cracking down on the cheerleading? I’ve got news for these guys, if they’re going to try and hold trials for everyone with an anti-authoritarian state of mind and who’s willing to voice it, well, you may as well just start building the internment camps now, because there’s not a lot of other options for controlling a portion of the population of that size.

Is this the result of a dedication to multiculturalism? Possibly. I find it just as likely that it’s a result of a society that has become more and more dependent on a sense of entitlement. As much as the spread of rioting seems to have a definite anti-police slant, the focus of much of it has still been shopping centers and looting. This is the natural extension of people who have been raised in a society that sponsors cradle-to-the-grave care and that they’re owed more than they have… in their minds the things in those stores are rightfully theirs anyway, this is just finally their chance to get their hands on it. Much of the twitter “incitement” that will apparently be evaluated revolves around things like “I’m finally going to have a big-screen TV” and showing off all the video games they stole. It’s as much about “Finally, I’m able to take what should have been given to me in the first place” as anything else, if not more.

Ultimately, these riots are a sign that something is wrong with the UK as a society. Which is not, in itself, an indictment, in truth… there’s something wrong with just about every society. If there’s nothing wrong with your society, well, that’s impossible, because there’s something wrong with scooping out part of peoples’ brains to make them utterly compliant and satisfied, which is what you’d have to do to have a society without problems. But they are an indicator of what’s wrong with the UK as a society, as is the maintainers of that society’s response to it… a thinly-veiled (albeit currently only implied) crackdown on freedom of expression.

On more reasoned and mature discourse from Leftists

As you may not have heard, Glenn Beck and his family were assaulted in a New York City park. Now, first, before I get into it, I will clarify that when I say “assault”, it seems to have been only in the legal sense of the word… what happened to them was assault by the legal definition, and was from the moment the wine was spilled on his wife. That’s assault, brotha, even if it’s not the fist-meet-face sort.

Of course, reaction from the left in general has ranged from “It’s just more of his demented lies, no one who opposes Glenn Beck would do such a thing” to “The bastard had it coming, it’s his own fault, shame it wasn’t something worse”.  Well… those two things don’t work together terribly well, but hey, doesn’t stop some people from putting them together in the exact same post on the subject.

Of course, Glenn Beck has the right to his views and no-one should ever take that right away from him… but y’know, the right to speak goes both ways, so if someone wants to boo and heckle you, they’ve got that right too, especially if you’re the kind of bloke who can lose his bap on-air and furious slate a caller, only for you to call them a “pinhead”.

So, just to be clear, having a TV show and saying things people don’t like means that people can shout at you and insult you as you walk along the street. It also excuses physical damage to your person or possessions. Might as well have been honest and followed up “but y’know” with what he actually meant, “he shouldn’t be allowed to actually speak about them”. In fact, note the distinction there… Beck has the right to his views, not to express his views. Clearly, being a conservative is okay, just so long as you don’t go around making it all obvious you’re a conservative. Y’know. Maybe you could tone down the conservativeness, to spare the feelings of those who could be offended. Be conservative on your own time, not in public where children could be exposed to that sort of lifestyle. Don’t see how that could be offensive to ask of all you Pubs.

Speaking of closet conservatives, expect to see a lot of Beatles CDs burn-… I mean, mp3s deleted. Turns out that Lennon was not the die-hard, eternal counterculture true believer many thought he was. I think this has a high probability of being true, since the one dropping this little revelation tries to make excuses for him:

“He’d met Reagan back, I think, in the ’70s at some sporting event. … Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young [peace] demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that. … He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me,” he told “Beatles Stories” filmmaker Seth Swirsky.

First of all, looove the ambiguous wording there. “Go after”. Just enough to imply horrible things without actually giving any claims to be debunked. The incident between the national guard and the protestors has become like a drinking story for the left re: the right’s fascist tendencies. Every time it gets told, it’s more violent and more of a jackbooted crackdown. But aaaanyway, the fact that he tries to excuse Lennon by saying he “forgot” about it it, while making sure to bring it up all the same, says this guy is probably speaking the truth when he talks about Lennon’s conservative leanings. “Don’t hate him too much for it, okay? It may have been just a phase or something. It’s not like he was one of those flaming conservatives.”

But speaking of entertainers, and wandering back to the Beck incident, let us ponder the person of Jon Stewart. The man who held a supposedly sincere “Rally to Restore Sanity”, to plead with people to tone down their partisan hatred, to cut down on the vicious rhetoric. (Okay, so he doesn’t allow conservative pundits on his show, but he really isn’t partisan, honest!) But hey, that’s just his show, right? It’s just comedy. Surely, being that the Rally was a non-partisan effort to reach out and plead for reasonable discourse, he would take some time to deplore the actions taken towards Glenn Beck, yes? That’s not very sane, that’s not very reasonable, it deserves chastisement from someone whose opinion could theoretically matter to the perpetrators.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like he’s going to find time to do so, what with his busy schedule of making racist comments about Herman Cain. Don’t expect to find the video on the Daily Show’s site… or much on youtube, either, straaaangely enough, as this was the best I could find. (Admittedly, maybe I’m not looking in the right places. Feel free to prove me wrong on that one.)

Sorry for the nasally douche after, but that’s the only clip of the actual incident I could find. Most of the videos regarding the incident are liberals defending Stewart for making “the obvious joke” and sneering at Cain for having a thin skin. Similarly, most of the news articles (of which there are few) on the subject are busy making Stewart the victim, accusing Cain of playing the race card and of being thin-skinned about a harmless joke.

If you have to take a moment to actually process the irony of all this without your head exploding, I understand. I think we all need a headache break after that one. If you don’t, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your standards.

Let’s just take a moment to think about this, alright? A white political pundit mocks a black politician using a racial stereotype, caps it off with stating that the black politician is obviously stupid because he “doesn’t like to read”, and the general response of the news media is… to defend the white guy and chastise the black guy.

I mean, sure, this isn’t actually anything new. For godsakes Fox itself airs at least an hour of what’s essentially the same thing every week. Seth MacFarlane votes Democrat and openly despises conservatives and everything even slightly related to conservatives (except Conway Twitty, I don’t know if that’s him being deliberately ironic or what… oh, and Fox, obviously, whose money he’s glad to accept lots and lots of), so he can get away with making openly racist jokes. Same thing with Stewart… he is a Speaker Of The Narrative, to be defended no matter what.

Fun little side note here, when trying to look up the racist quotes made about Clarence Thomas by various people, I discovered that leftists have their own catchy little name for blacks who go off the reservation by registering Republican: “Rethuglitoms”. Shockingly, Google and Wikipedia seem to have buried or deleted most of these references… I know, I wouldn’t have expected that either. (Where’s the sarcasm tag? Ah screw it.) It doesn’t seem to have bothered to cover up the same vitriol by black people themselves, though… Spike Lee, so famously angry at white people for, well, living, doesn’t seem to have had problems referring to Thomas as a “chicken-and-biscuit eating Uncle Tom”… a statement I’m sure he feels proud of every time he looks over his large collection of black stereotype memorabilia.

Again, anyway. Even if you don’t agree with the tactic some are starting to suggest… that conservatives borrow from Democrat-supporters and begin decrying all criticism of Cain as racist, even when it’s obviously not… it’s hard to argue that Stewart’s comments would not have been considered wildly racist had they been made about Barack Obama. Well… it’s obviously not that hard, you’ve just got to abandon those little things like “integrity” and “honesty” and “consistency” and then it starts getting really really easy, to judge by the amount of it. Heck, go looking for the story yourself, you’ll have a tough time finding one that even mentions the incident outside of the context of defending Stewart and rebuking Cain (or, at the very least, tries to spin it as Cain letting Stewart off the hook).

If this is sanity, stop the sanitarium, please, I’d like to get on.

China tortures prisoners by making them play World of Warcraft

Anyone who’s ever played an online game with a trade system… especially World of Warcraft… knows there are plenty of people willing to sell you in-game currency in return for real world currency. Which is usually against the game’s terms of service for any number of reasons beneficial to the game company and the player, but people do it anyway. (It’s gotten to the point that I’ve actually wondered if some of my City of Heroes characters get more currency-spam email based on the first letters of their names.) Most, if not all, of these gold sellers are reputed to come from China… if you’re one of the many (if not most) people who have had your World of Warcraft account stolen due to Blizzard’s utterly laughable security, it’s almost certain it was stolen by someone in China (if it wasn’t done by someone you know personally).

Well, turns out that the formerly-communist government is not one to let a lucrative moneymaking opportunity pass them by, and hey, if they can abuse some human rights in the process, all the better!

Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for “illegally petitioning” the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.

If you couldn’t tell, “illegally petitioning” means that he told on someone’s corruption who was paid up and in good standing.

“Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” Liu told the Guardian. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turned off.”

It amazes me that gold-selling continues to be profitable enough to make it such an attractive and neverending business. Lord knows that many MMOs, WoW especially, can be a soul-killing grind, especially if you’re a casual player trying to fit playing time in around having a job and a life. But buying gold means essentially throwing your money to someone who’s already proven willing to flagrantly violate the rules and then trusting them to actually show up and do the trade… and if you get caught, hey, you’re going down same as the seller. … Hunh, put like that maybe it is easier to understand. They call it “World of Warcrack” for a reason, I guess.

But lest you think that this guy had it easy because all he had to do was kill some Murlocks, let me shatter that. First off, Murlocks are torture enough. But second off, and more seriously:

Memories from his detention at Jixi re-education-through-labour camp in Heilongjiang province from 2004 still haunt Liu. As well as backbreaking mining toil, he carved chopsticks and toothpicks out of planks of wood until his hands were raw and assembled car seat covers that the prison exported to South Korea and Japan. He was also made to memorise communist literature to pay off his debt to society.

But it was the forced online gaming that was the most surreal part of his imprisonment. The hard slog may have been virtual, but the punishment for falling behind was real.

“If I couldn’t complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things,” he said.

Yup. They’d beat the dude for not doing enough of his killing and skinning and running back to the vendor to foist off virtual raptor leather for copper pieces.

In 2009 the central government issued a directive defining how fictional currencies could be traded, making it illegal for businesses without licences to trade. But Liu, who was released from prison before 2009 believes that the practice of prisoners being forced to earn online currency in multiplayer games is still widespread.

“Many prisons across the north-east of China also forced inmates to play games. It must still be happening,” he said.

As Lee documented in his China blogs, China makes laws against practically everything, but enforcement of the more inconvenient-to-police stuff is rare to nonexistent, especially as long as you’re paid up. If the government itself isn’t actually directly calling for and profiting from what these guards are doing, you can bet a good portion of that money gets passed back up the line and some of it gets there eventually.

And while the place that I first saw this story is eager to sneer about “lazy Americans” driving this industry (if you’re wondering why no hat tip, it’s because I consider them so dishonest, lacking in integrity, and to be frank porn-filled that nothing would be gained, if you really want credit it’s called Sankaku Complex), let me wrap up with this little reminder of just how slippery some high ground can be (emphasis mine):

“Prison labour is still very widespread – it’s just that goods travel a much more complex route to come to the US these days. And it is not illegal to export prison goods to Europe, said Nicole Kempton from the Laogai foundation, a Washington-based group which opposes the forced labour camp system in China.

Scapegoating: Not Just for Backwards Micronations Anymore

Not too long ago there were a few stories here and there, rather bemused over a small nation where the ruling council, in a bit of disgrace, decided to have a literal scapegoat ritual. It wasn’t a very big deal, and I can’t even seem to find it in the news archives anymore. (As you might imagine, googling things like “scapegoat” and “small nation” tends to turn up mostly stuff like people blubbering about how America murdered Osama bin Laden.)

The reason I bring this up is that apparently Italy thought this was a really good idea, only since they’re so much more sophisticated and intelligent than some Backwardsistan, they decided to throw some actual people to the wolves instead.

Six Italian seismologists and one government official will be tried for the manslaughter of those who died in an earthquake that struck the city of L’Aquila on 6 April 2009.

See, turns out these guys took a look at their seismic readings and told everyone that a full-on quake wasn’t likely. Turns out they were wrong, quake happened, people died. Well, fuck. That’s a tragedy, but these things happen in science. You screw up, you make mistakes, then you publish anyway and try to paint anyone that disagrees as equivalent to Holocaust deniers oops, sorry, wrong science, nevermind. But anyway, yeah, misreadings happen all the time, (some) scientists admit when they’re wrong, there is no such thing as an absolute scientific discipline. (Except, as mathematicians would eagerly point out, mathematics. I call bullshit, if something is an absolute you can’t have “Swedish-style algebra” or what-the-fuck-ever.)

Try telling that to a bunch of Europeans who have been raised believing that personal responsibility is someone else’s problem.

At the time of the 31 March 2009 meeting, seismic activity had been going on in the area for more than three months, causing alarm in the population. De Bernardinis summoned the meeting and asked the scientists to assess the risk of a major earthquake and its possible consequences. The meeting was followed by a press conference by De Bernardinis and Barberi, where the two reassured the population that the seismic sequence did not necessarily hint at a major earthquake. De Bernardinis, in particular, appeared on television saying that “the scientific community tells me there is no danger, because there is an ongoing discharge of energy. The situation looks favorable”. A major earthquake did hit on April 6 though, killing 309 people. In the aftermath, many citizens quoted those statements as the reason they did not take precautionary measures, such as fleeing their homes. According to the accusation, many people who would otherwise leave the area decided to stay, and were eventually killed in the collapse of their houses.

Really, the most that you could say here is that De Bernardinis overrepresented the scientists’ assurances. It sounds like they told him the readings didn’t necessarily indicate a quake, and he decided that sounded better as “There won’t be a quake”, but even then it sounds like he worked in those “most likely”s and so on. People elected to stay in a region that had been undergoing months of seismic activity supposedly on his word alone, and this is supposedly the sole reason they were still there when the actual quake hit.

So okay, you can maybe make a case for trying De Bernardinis. It was his job, after all, to counsel people properly on their safety. If they could determine that his language was sufficiently placating to give people a false sense of safety, then you know what? Fine. Even if it is rather scapegoat-ish, why not hold a public servant accountable when he screws up? (It’d certainly be a refreshing change of pace if we did it over here.) Actually trying him for manslaughter seems rather extreme, but it’s their country, their standards, fine.

The problem comes in indicting every scientist they could apparently get ahold of that was involved in this. Not only is it blatantly scapegoating them, to give the people an outlet for their pain and rage, it is telling the scientific community “You are not allowed to be wrong, and if you are wrong we will make you suffer for it.” A fairly anti-science view from the supposedly enlightened Europians, don’t you think? This would be like if every time some American journal of health or whatnot put out a study saying “Eggs are actually deadly poison! Eat an egg and you’ll instantly fall over dead!”, we rounded up everyone that had ever been involved with the last journal of health that said “Eggs are vital to continued existence! If you aren’t eating an egg within the next five minutes, I hope you’ve lived a life without regret!” and put them through a public show trial before tossing them in jail for a few years.

Like the villains in some console RPG or dramatic TV show, Italy has a bunch of mourning, angry people on their hands, and has decided that the best way to deal with that is to give them someone to hate. The trial will be as much of a chance for Italians to focus that anger and helplessness into hate for specific faces (that are most definitely not their current government officials), able to tune in every day and see these guys being marched into the courthouse, and to either see them triumphantly convicted for their “crimes” or rage at them for escaping justice if they’re acquitted. Either way, their emotions are given vent, and they go home from the circus with their pockets full of bread.

As techdirt says:

That seems crazy, but the judge refused to dismiss the case, and it will apparently start this fall. What’s next? Will someone sue the weatherman for being wrong?

I might have gone for the Galileo reference myself, but either way. Ultimately it comes down to “I listened to some bad advice and I did something stupid. I don’t want that to be my fault. You find someone else’s fault for it to be for me.” A popular viewpoint in certain circles.

RIAA doesn’t like the 4th either

Well, it looks like the recent issues with the fourth amendment and protections versus search & seizure has come to the attention of the RIAA, who has decided they’d really like to get in on some of that constitution-violating, as is so often their wont.

The RIAA has been pushing the state of California to pass a new law that would allow completely warrantless searches for law enforcement, allowing them to enter and search any CD or DVD manufacturing plant without either notice or a court order.

As we’ve seen repeatedly, Obama is the RIAA’s man, so if necessary I’m sure they can count on him to back this for them. (I still laugh at remembering the internet hipsters who seemed to think that Obama’s election would mean a T1 line with full torrent speed in every house and free pot to smoke everyday.)

But the RIAA’s justification for pushing for these warrantless searches?

The common trait, the trade group contended, was that the businesses were in “closely regulated” industries in which “the pervasiveness and regularity of the government’s regulation reduces the owner’s expectation of privacy in his business records.”

So. Just to make that clear. The RIAA itself is saying that the government has eroded the fourth amendment to the point that grabbing a firehose and spraying down the mud isn’t going to hurt at this point. I mean, this is not an exaggeration, that is actually what they’re saying. “Well, you already let the government boss you around and get in your business. Why not some more?”

“We’re literally talking about walking into a plant, walking up to the line and ensuring that, indeed, the discs are in compliance,” he said. “I don’t think the scope of the search is something a regulator needs to be worried about.”

Those are the actual words of Marcus Cohen, RIAA executive. That is actually what he thinks will allay people’s fears. “Oh, we’ll just walk in and do what we like. What’s the big deal about that?” Nothing, if you’re the hero of a friggin’ console RPG and are used to wandering into random peoples’ homes and rifling through their belongings for stuff you need.

And despite the fact that it’s essentially admitted to be unconstitutional, I’m sure it will come as an utter shock to all of you that they nevertheless have the outright support of Democrat senator Alex Padilla behind them and it’s already passed multiple committees. A Democrat not giving a shit about the constitution, and pushing through unconstitutional laws? A California Democrat, at that? I know I was shaken to my core by such revelations.

Apparently we on the right have spent so much time worrying about the Second that we didn’t notice the Fourth was wounded until it was down and surrounded by hungry wolves. Or maybe we’re to blame for letting it take its licks in the first place because we wound up “okay” with it getting a few kicks when it served the “greater good”. But whoever put it in its current position, it’s pretty clear that the left has smelled blood. The Constitution, and specifically the Bill of Rights, was put there to outline and limit the government’s power, and as the Democrats have shown (and occasionally stated, when they got a little too honest), “limits on government power” is a dirty phrase considered somewhere on par with “your mother sucks cocks in Hell”. If they can effectively render one amendment from the bill of rights null and void, then that means the other ones are fair game. It would be precedent, just like the RIAA is using precedent to say “It’s already been broken, why not break it more?”

Now the question becomes, are we going to fight off the wolves, or just hope that there’s something left when they’re done eating?

On Poisonous Political Rhetoric

This will be a short post, more because I don’t think there’s much that can be said on the subject. Sometimes there’s no point to ranting, tearing down, or strawmanning, when your opponent is perfectly capable of setting themselves on fire.

Basically, it is this: Michelle Obama has invited in fellow Rev. Wright devotee “Common” to the White House to read some of his poetry. His poems have included such subject matter as the glorifying of killing police officers and calling for the assassination of President Bush.

This has prompted a media that was, not a few short months ago remember, blaming-but-not-really-blaming-even-though-it’s-their-fault the entirety of the right wing and their “poisonous political rhetoric” for the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Giffords. Now, negative reaction to someone who is actually guilty of violent rhetoric being invited to and honored at the White House is treated with more condescension than you would think humanly possible by HuffPo, as “giving the GOP something to whine about” by The Stir (who also refers to the violence-advocator in question as a “thoughtful, socially conscious artist“, emphasis theirs), and so on.

Seriously, sometimes you’d think that the only way they keep from getting dizzy from all the spin is that they somehow get extra balance from having two faces.

Here’s the Google News collection of stories on the subject if you’d like to dig through for some more winners.