16 December 2011

Good news and bad news

First the good. Sheriff Joe is finally in some hotter water than he has been over the last 20 years.

The highlights
1) Cost $5 Million in lawsuits, with hundreds of millions more still in progress. Including the infamous Steven Seagal tank/cockfighting incident.
2) Misappropriated almost $100 million in funds for prison funding for use paying officers and staff.
3) Ignoring rising crime rate in his jurisdiction (even as it declines in the rest of the state and most of the country) by not even investigating various crimes; sexual assault being among the foremost ignored. Thanks for being a misogynist on top of a racist?
4) Over 2/5s of detained persons on immigration charges turn out to be legal citizens. I'd say that's a pretty poor track record suggesting that he's not doing the sort of investigative work needed to properly identify illegal immigrants in a community. A supposition which is borne out by a) the treatment of immigrants once detained, often bordering on torture if not outright, and b) the incredible frequency with which immigrant-looking folks (ie, Latinos) are stopped for no apparent reason at all in violation of the requirements that immigration status can be checked when an actual offense has been committed. 20% of all stops have no overriding violation?

I'll be happy when this guy joins Patrick Sullivan Jr in a jail named after himself (Sullivan was arrested on drug trafficking and trading drugs for sex, after a lifetime spent railing against drug dealers). No person should be so brazenly permitted to violate the rights of human beings, much less citizens and taxpayers of the region of a state entrusted to their care to oversee the rule of law. If this were a Monopoly game, I'd just keep playing the "go directly to jail, do not pass go" card on him. All that said, the man was, last I checked, potentially a US SENATE candidate in his state. That's frightening.


The bad. SOPA is still kicking around. I'm on the Wyden list in case of a filibuster in the Senate and I've written all 3 Ohio Reps available in order to remonstrate my concerns here. But really the problems are legion, starting with the one highlighted there; that the internet uses a sort of spontaneous ordering in order to address problems like internet security protocols. And that sort of spontaneous order needs to be carefully approached, if at all, with legal strictures. It would seem to me that a) we already possess a device for copyrights violations (DCMA) and b) that the most available studies I have seen on internet piracy suggest that whatever threat it poses to these industries is minimal and c) there are already available distribution methods on the web for these industries to attempt to co-opt or to participate in through licensing deals that would allow them to continue to exist. Personally, I'm not sure why any musician would attempt to sign with a record label anymore and at some point in the future, it might be possible to produce higher quality films privately as well to avoid that as a distribution node as well. Perhaps this is what such industries are really worried about, but it seems like they worry about something that isn't actually costing them very much by attempting to impose MASSIVE costs on everyone else. Usually industries, and unions for that matter, can get away with this by imposing very small marginal costs on everyone else in the pursuit of rent-seeking behaviors with legislative support and embrace. In this case, the costs are potentially very large. I suspect this will play into whether any bill actually passes.

Some weird. I'm kind of fascinated watching what the GOP does with Ron Paul's modest surge in polls. He's basically had a cap of around 10-12% of the GOP electorate (plus some moderates and independents outside that electorate). But he's now polling at rates approaching 20%. The consequence has been a hasty campaign to declare the actual winner of the Iowa caucuses as someone else if Paul should win, as insulation against the idea that somehow, someone, somewhere has decided that being anti-war, anti-government spending, pro-free market/anti-crony capitalism is a platform that Republicans should embrace instead of their usual pro-war, pro-government spending, anti-free market/pro-crony capitalism platform that mostly resembles the Democratic campaigns as well. My best guess is that Republicans are unlikely to win the 2012 Presidency anyway, and so it would be most useful for them to nominate someone interesting and where there are actual debates to be had between the two parties. Gary Johnson has long been favored by me over Paul because he has much more favorable social liberal views (pro-choice, pro-immigration, nominally more pro-gay marriage than Paul, though not by much, and both are anti-drug war), and doesn't openly douse his views in that novel religion known as Austrian economics (I say this because it constructs itself in a non-falsifiable way, the same way religions do). That said, a Paul-Obama debate where Paul can credibly run to LEFT of Obama on immigration (Obama is heavy on deportations), the drug war (Obama DOJ is heavy on arresting legal pot producers and dispensers), foreign policy (see Libya, assassinations of American citizens by robotic drones), and civil liberties (war on terror policies and drug war policies to boot), would be amusing. Of course, Paul's history and general perception as a crank would guarantee that he wouldn't be elected, but so far as I can tell, only the ill-fated Mitt Romney is widely perceived as a plausible upset for the incumbent. At least give me a reason to watch the debates?


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