With the massive protest against SOPA/PIPA comes the states response in the form of the takedown of filesharing site MegaUpload.com. It serves as yet another example that the state can and will do anything they want whether or not their actions are codified in some legalese passed by old men in a congressional chamber. The codification of their acts only acts as a way of removing any doubt of their ability – a metaphorical smearing in our face of their power. Like the NDAA before this, these proposed laws are actions that the state already commits. It really doesn’t matter if they pass or not. It. Is. Already. Happening.
Coworkers of mine took time to go down to one of our state’s fine senator’s offices to join a protest against SOPA/PIPA on Wednesday – we work in the web industry so these bills have been common office conversation subjects. I tried to convince them that no matter how many times they called and complained to some intern at the senator’s office or however many online petitions they managed to sign that this bill really only puts in writing the world we live in already. I didn’t win the argument and off they went to feel like they were changing the world, and maybe in some insignificant way they did. If the bills are killed as they appear to be as of this writing, did they win something?
Not if the actions taken Thursday against MegaUpload are any indication. The bills are nothing more than propositions on paper, but still the U.S. government (and governments abroad) managed to take down the offending site and arrest its employees without the help of SOPA or PIPA. Just as prisoners in Guantanamo have been held without charges or trials and American citizens have been assassinated on suppositions well before NDAA passed (despite Obama’s threatened veto, hilariously). More people need to understand that what is and is not law is in no way a guide to what your government can or cannot do to you. Will my website be safe if SOPA/PIPA passes? Fuck, the better question is if my site is safe now. Looking at very recent events I would say no.
This site could disappear tomorrow regardless of what the law is or whether or not I have violated it. It happens quite frequently, in fact. The sooner people realize these things, the better.
If you couldn’t predict the turn of events concerning the National Defense Authorization Act and Obama’s “threat” to veto it, calling you naive would be an understatement. The man has basically caved on every plank of his campaign, embraced every reactionary idea, and sacrificed no expansion of his power. This is the same man who has already killed Americans without trial and held them indefinitely without charges. Why then, would he have vetoed what he is already doing? That’s not the behavior of power!
So yeah, the White House is backing down on its veto threat, in a move that has become so tired we can barely even pay attention. When it passes, and it will, we’ll have been thrown onto the next in vogue faux outrage. Much like the SOPA bill, that again, simply codifies already occurring acts committed by those in power. It never mattered if we defeated this bill.
Indeed, if reports are to be believed, it was never our lord and savior Obama who was trying to save us by threatening to veto the bill for further destroying the rights of Americans, but rather it was he who demanded the ability to do so! He wants to hold you forever, trial or not. He wants these things, and his threat to veto it was a complete lie. It only furthers the concept that you can never rely on a savior to give you your victory.
As often happens when tyrants get a taste for blood, American leadership wants to codify its recent behavior against American citizens. They want to be able point to a document and explain that they are simply following the law, not acting out their dominance fantasies. While a few new outlets (very few actually, I hardly see coverage of this in most corporate media outlets) are freaking out, it needs to be explained that even if the National Defense Authorization Act passes and becomes the law of the land – it wont change the status quo of life in modern America. It simply codifies what has been happening for years. It makes the treatment of José Padilla, Bradley Manning, and Anwar al-Awlaki the law.
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I was raised in a sports family. My childhood bedroom had an entire wall painted with the logo of the family’s favorite college football team, done by my father. I was taken to games for hockey, football, baseball, et al. One summer I remember, I was sent to a tennis camp. The only problem was that I have never had any interest in sports. It kind of made things awkward with my family because they didn’t really understand it (I remember being in the car once with my father in my early teens and being asked if I was gay). In fact I’ve never had much of an interest in team based competition, and the team based politics of American government is one game that still eludes me. Team R versus Team D, locked in perpetual “struggle” while you and I suffer their consequences.
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Ten years have passed since 9/11, what do we get to mourn this? We’ll get lots and lots of flag waving I’m sure. Probably some mosques will be vandalized. Solemn speeches reminding us to “never forget” what happened. We’ll get romanticized images of soldiers fighting. We’re also going to get scared. I’m writing this before going on vacation, but I’m sure there will be “credible threats” coming from everywhere this weekend. We’ll need to be panicked to believe that anything that has occurred these past 10 years was done to make anyone besides the already powerful any safer.
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The current debt ceiling crisis is just camouflage for a further enforcement of austerity measures against the workers of this country. Raising this country’s debt-ceiling, an action that has been done nearly 100 times since the 1960′s – seven times within the previous president’s tenure – has now been turned into a giant controversy and a strategy for which the austerity agenda is being pushed forward. The panic inducing threats surrounding the present situation reminds one of the days leading up to the bank bailouts of 2008, where Americans were encouraged only to ogle the looming spectre of the collapse of their way of life, and not to think over the billions of dollars being handed to the very people that created the crisis. While the panic sets in, our rulers will sign away every measure the working classes have fought for in the last century, while continuing the budget draining policies that created the situation. Where does this leave us? As leftists, we work for the emancipation of all women and men while simultaneously working to dismantle the system that creates such crises, but what about when one task interferes with the other?
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While millions starve, we analyze birth certificates. While bombs rip the limbs from children, we broadcast reality-show conspiracy theories about where some asshole was born. While our planet’s ecosystem is being strangled, we are blinded by fantasies straight out of some spy novel. “Was Obama born in Kenya?” Of course not, but who the fuck cares if he was?! He’s still managing to wage wars, plunder our wealth, and diminish our self-actualization despite whatever latitude and longitude he managed to fall out of a vagina at. To anyone who has given this issue more than the 10 minutes of smirk-and-forget that this deserves, you are being distracted while the empowered steal and kill.
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I saw this article on one of the tech blogs I read. Turns out the State Department is working on a way to basically wipe your phone of its contacts’ information and be able to send out communications as if they are from your phone, you know, to “help” democracy advocates. I gave a guffaw at the notion that something like this could possibly be developed in order to help those that would topple the U.S. government’s favorite torture houses in the Middle-East. Imagine, all the U.S. government would presumably need to know is the identity of high profile revolutionaries, wipe their phone remotely so that any contacts they may need to communicate with are gone and finally they can send out fake texts to those contacts. Misinformation at its best is what it seems like.
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The president (elected on a campaign of “hope” and “change”) has just announced he will resume military tribunals and sign an executive order that provides for indefinite detention of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay (the prison he vowed to close years ago). Like the worker’s rights issues he campaigned on during the election and now ignores in Wisconsin, this is yet another blatant reversal of his stated positions. The prisoners even able to be tried will face the military tribunals, designed to provide anything but justice, and those we can’t try (because we have no evidence and/or tortured them) can look forward to just being thrown back in the hole we’ve put them in and forgotten about. The excuse being they are too “dangerous” to be released anyway.
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