A little history for those playing along at home. In 1996 Tom Clancy wrote a book called Executive Orders. It had three very eerie story arcs that concern us today. The first was that terrorists would use airplanes to wipe out the U.S. Government. Second was that the US Government, what there was of it, would target an individual leader in the Middle East for execution and, third, that the people would rise up and elect “common people” to public office so that real Americans could finally get represented. Before I get to those arcs I’d like to point out that while Clancy’s politics are to the right of mine he is no idiot. He is careful in his assertions and thorough in his research. He also tells one hell of a good story when he sets his mind to it. His mistake is the same as William F. Buckley’s was in the 70’s when he eviscerated Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision of civil disobedience by comparing it to rioting and looting. Both men assumed that everyone got the point, and – when required – the joke. In other words both men assumed that every conservative was similar to them.
They were wrong.
The first part of Clancy’s story arc to come true is easy enough to discern. No one over the age of 20 can forget 09/11. While the terrorists did not wipe out the U.S. government they did do a fine job of scaring the hell out of every human being and forcing the U.S. into a war that was, and is, unlike any before in history. Unlike in Clancy’s book we are not fighting a standing army but are forced to fight an ideal instead of a country. This has opened up some very murky ethical areas that we are still dealing with today.
The second part came true when President George W. Bush ordered U.S. forces into Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction, there were no links to Al Qaeda, there was nothing there but Saddam Hussein and President Bush wanted him dead no matter the cost. In Clancy’s book the bad guy is taken out cleanly and the army is able to subdue Iraq’s elite, hilariously named, Republican Guard with only minor problems. Yes a couple of characters you kind of met die, but the overall effect is one of ease and control. In the real world we are still mired in Iraq, the cost was beyond anyone’s calculation and the arrest and execution of Hussein was a public relations nightmare for many.
It is the third part that affects today. In 2010 Americans, fearful of a foreign born Fascist / Socialist / Muslim president who has/had a crazy Christian minister and whose middle name reeks of Iraqi terror – and they weren’t being racist xenophobes at all, this was about protecting America – rose up and elected the regular people Tom Clancy envisioned. They were to be the Dudley Do-Rights of American politics. Instead we got the Tea Party which, appropriately enough, does appear to be filled with a lot of Mad Hatters and the table, set by the Koch Brothers, has some very odd finery and some nice, Iranian, sweets.
These people are so corrupt they make Rod Blagojevich look ethical. Of the 25, so called, jobs bills supported by the Tea Party none actually create jobs, 3 involve stopping same sex marriage (jobs?) and some are downright terrifying.
Check these winners out.
HR872- reduces EPA regulations on pesticides, fungicides and rodenticides.
HR910- prohibits EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses.
HR37- prohibits FCC from implementing net neutrality.
HR 1230- requires Dept. of Interior to open more oil and gas leases offshore.
HR1229- directs Dept. of Interior to issue more offshore drilling permits.
HR1231- reverses President’s offshore drilling moratorium.
HR2021- eliminates EPA delays in Alaskan offshore drilling.
HR2018- allows states to overrule EPA standards on water pollution.
HR1315- allows House Financial Council to set aside any federal regulation.
HR1938- demands immediate approval of Keystone XL pipeline w/o Executive study.
HR2587- restricts actions of National Labor Board.
HR 2401- restricts any EPA delays on air, water and waste compliance.
HR2681- removes 3 EPA standards on concrete manufacturing plant emissions.
HR2250- removes EPA regulations on mercury and other hazardous pollutants.
HR2273- removes restrictions on coal ash disposal.
Every one of those bills was presented for consideration just as they were given to the Tea Party by lobbyists. Not a comma was changed.
The Keystone Pipeline is interesting in that it is well funded and seems like a nifty idea until you start asking tough questions like “Will it poison the ground around it or possibly cause diseases to spread in the groundwater?” You see, they want the bill passed without one person looking into anything they plan on doing. Considering that sucker would run right through Nebraska and other states those pesky questions seem like they should get answers sooner rather than later if there’s a legitimate possibility this could turn billions of acres into the new wastelands.
But the dumbest thing, dear God they have the balls to claim this is Pro Jobs, to come out of Washington’s new intellectual elite is the PIPA / SOPA legislation. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but I’m not even convinced the intentions are all that admirable here. Let’s take a look at Google’s easy to follow synopsis.
1. SOPA and PIPA would censor the Web
The U.S. government could order the blocking of sites using methods similar to those employed by China. Among other things, search engines could be forced to delete entire websites from their search results. That’s why 41 human rights organizations and 110 prominent law professors have expressed grave concerns about the bills.
2. SOPA and PIPA would be job-killers because they would create a new era of uncertainty for American business
Law-abiding U.S. internet companies would have to monitor everything users link to or upload or face the risk of time-consuming litigation. That’s why AOL, EBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga wrote a letter to Congress saying these bills “pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation.” It’s also why 55 of America’s most successful venture capitalists expressed concern that PIPA “would stifle investment in Internet services, throttle innovation, and hurt American competitiveness”. More than 204 entrepreneurs told Congress that PIPA and SOPA would “hurt economic growth and chill innovation”.
3. SOPA and PIPA wouldn’t stop piracy
To make matters worse, SOPA and PIPA won’t even work. The censorship regulations written into these bills won’t shut down pirate sites. These sites will just change their addresses and continue their criminal activities, while law-abiding companies will suffer high penalties for breaches they can’t possibly control.
There are effective ways to combat foreign “rogue” websites dedicated to copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting, while preserving the innovation and dynamism that have made the Internet such an important driver of American economic growth and job creation. Congress should consider alternatives like the OPEN Act, which takes targeted and focused steps to cut off the money supply from foreign pirate sites without making US companies censor the Web.
Just for funsies, let’s take a real world example. This site has links to stories and information to further your knowledge of subjects that interest you. I often link to sites where scientists share ideas. Many of them via Ian O’Neil from Discovery News, but not all. Let’s say one of those sites posts a set of plans on how to make your own Atlas rocket engine (this has come up so feel free to Google for them later) and that site was connected, even tenuously, to this one. As written we would be shut down just as fast as the site that posted the plans. Probably faster since we’re in the U.S. and the offending site was in Turkestan.
How does shutting us down help anyone?
Well, obviously, it doesn’t. But it that kind of ham handed response that is built into every aspect of this legislation.
Look kids, these people got in because the majority of Americans assumed these candidates were unelectable. It really never occurred to the vast majority to get off their couches and go vote. So they got in. Now you have a shining example of how important your vote is. Keep that in mind this coming November.
In the meantime, keep in mind that if they can’t create real jobs they can at least hire enough pseudo-cops to keep your bedroom under surveillance.
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Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Friday morning around 9:10!