Constitution

The death of Baseline Budgeting?

I didn’t put it in my “14 Fixes for our Messed up Country” list, since I thought it was long enough, but one of the things I really think needs to be reformed is the utterly insane institution of “baseline budgeting,” aka “Washington accounting,” aka “DC moonbattery.”

Apparently, though, according to CNS News (no, that’s not a typo) baseline budgeting might be on the ropes:

The House approved a potentially sweeping budget reform Friday that would force federal agencies to justify an annual increase, as opposed to getting an automatic increase under current budget law.

“What we are about to do could be the most responsible financial thing this Congress has done, this House has done in the whole last year,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said before the vote. “It could be $1.4 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years and all we’re doing is just stopping the automatic increase.”

The Baseline Reform Act of 2012 passed the House by a near party-line vote of 235-177. However, the bill will likely have a difficult time passing the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Under current federal budget law, the amount of money a federal agency will automatically get for the next year is based on the current year’s amount, plus inflation, which is the “baseline” for the next budget year.

Read that last paragraph again, and then ask yourself: where, outside of the federal government, does that sort of accounting work? Do you ever give yourself a budget equal to last year plus inflation automatically? I don’t even think Warren Buffet, as wealthy as he is, does that, nor Mitt Romney. Probably not even Trump, but who really knows what the Donald does.

Citizens United and SOPA/PIPA

You know, letting corporations donate to political campaigns and have free speech rights will destroy the country. Giving corporations the right to speech, like us, is a monumental threat to democracy. They would make us all beholden to the 1%. They would buy campaigns, transform this country into a plutocracy or, worse yet, a full blown corporatocracy. Who knows what terrible things they could do to our country. Why, with their money and resources, they would be able to warp and corrupt public opinion, and turn them against the government. They might even lead a campaign to stop online censorship!

I find it somewhat amusing that the progressives who railed against Citizens United so furiously are now finding themselves the beneficiaries of that decision. Citizens United allowed corporations and such organizations as unions to spend money on political campaigns, though they could not be donated to political parties or candidates, and had to be spent separately. What else was the SOPA Strike Wednesday but a political campaign, with Hollywood on one end trying to use the political system to do away with due process in order to reap more profits, and tech companies and grassroots citizen-activists on the other trying to prevent such a mockery of law? I’m not a legal expert, but it would appear to me that if Citizens United hadn’t been decided the way it were, and the McCain-Feingold Act was still in place, this campaign might not have gotten off the ground, or if it did, it might not have been as wildly successful as it was.

It’s Working: #StopSOPA Protests Make Senators Back Off

Most times, petitions, protests, and the like to seem to have very little effect. People protested against the Iraq War, but we went in. People protested against TARP and the bailouts, but we bailed them out anyways. People protested against Obamacare, and it was passed anyways.

Today is different.

Judging from the news I’ve been seeing, it appears that the SOPA Strike is having an appreciable effect. I’ve already noted that Sens. Rubio and Cornyn, two sponsors, have switched sides on the bill. Declan MuCullough over at CNet reports that there is even more antipathy than I previously thought:

Rep. John Carter, [R-Mars? -Ed.] a Texas Republican who is listed as a SOPA sponsor, “reserves judgment on the final bill,” a spokesman told CNET today. “He’s certainly not saying pass the bill as-is — there are legitimate concerns in this bill.” (See CNET’s FAQ on the topic.)

[…]

The home pages of Craigslist and Google feature exhortations to contact members of Congress and urge them to vote against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate version called Protect IP. Amazon.com and Yahoo’s Flickr have also joined in. (Craiglist’s snarky note: “Corporate paymasters, KEEP THOSE CLAMMY HANDS OFF THE INTERNET!”)

New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats who are Protect IP sponsors, sent CNET a joint statement saying: “While the threat to tens of thousands of New York jobs due to online piracy is real and must be addressed, it must be done in a way that allows the Internet and our tech companies to continue to flourish.” They said they believe “both sides can come together on a solution that satisfies their respective concerns.”

Intro to Stop SOPA Day: The 411 on SOPA Evil

Welcome, United Liberty readers! Today we are solely focusing on the evil that is #SOPA and #PIPA, the two bills that are in Congress and aiming to destroy the Internet. Thousands of websites are going dark to protest, including such giants as reddit, BoingBoing, Mozilla, Wordpress.com, Scribd, and Wikipedia. Google is also joining in, though they aren’t going completely dark, they’re putting notifications on their front page, which will help the protest get a lot more attention.

If you’re new here, or you’re new to the whole SOPA and PIPA debate in general and want to know more about why these bills plainly suck, you’re in the right place. But rather than reinvent the blogging wheel, I’m instead going to give credit where credit is due, and direct you to Mashable’s Chris Heald, who has done an absolutely fantastic job dissecting these bills and showing you why they are some of the worst things that have ever been put before Congress (after the horrific NDAA, of course.)

The post is very long, because it dissects them so thoroughly. Here are some highlights I want to share with you, that I think are most applicable:

We’ll expand on this further down, but the really scary thing here is that there isn’t any qualification that the site be solely for the purpose of theft, only that it facilitate it. Since copyright violation is ridiculously easy, any site with a comment box or picture upload form is potentially infringing. Furthermore, DMCA Safe Harbor provisions are no defense. You, as a site operator, become liable for copyright infringement committed by your users, even if you comply with DMCA takedown requests.

[…]

 

Wikipedia to go dark to protest #SOPA?

There are very few petitions that I think will actually do something. Usually, I simply don’t bother. Nobody reads them or listens to them. However, there are exceptions, and here is one of them.

Apparently, Wikipedia is considering going dark to protest the censorship monstrosities “Stop Online Piracy Act” and “Protect IP Act,” and DemandProgress has a petition website up where you can pledge to donate $1 if they do go dark, or simply sign a nonmonetary petition to do so. I have pledged the money, not only because I oppose SOPA, but also because I have used Wikipedia a lot over the years, and I would like to give back to that community.

We’ve been over why SOPA is a bad idea here many times. There are sincere technological problems with SOPA, along with political issues. It’s a cure that’s worse than the disease. The backers behind SOPA are pirates themselves. Wikipedia would also not be alone in this, if it does go through. All of these are reasons why we need to do something about this bill, and do it now.

The U.S. Constitution, Obama’s Door Mat

A few days after the 2008 elections, Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of President-Elect Obama’s transition team, was interviewed by Tom Brokaw on “Meet the Press”, where she stated: “ [Obama] is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one.” At the time it was written off by most as simply a poor choice of words, but after the last three years in which Obama has compiled an inglorious record of contempt for the Constitution, Jarrett’s words now have proven prophetic. Obama has even surpassed FDR in the sheer brazenness of his contempt for our nation as a rule of law under the Constitution, and in attempts to make servants of the other co-equal branches of government.

Obama truly seems to see himself in the role of a king, with power to enforce his agenda by sheer will, ignoring law and precedent in crushing opposition to his executive branch tyranny. Two recent events have added to our despicable president’s legacy of corruption, disdain and contempt for the Constitution; his signing of the National Defense Appropriations Act, which funds military and defense operations, but that also contains a provision that should terrify every American that loves freedom; and Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new agency created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Ronald Paul Assails GOP Establishment

It’s not often that the media give Ronald Paul (R-Texas) a chance to speak.

There were reasons, why I didn’t watch the second GOP debate on Sunday.

Ronald Paul cleared the field on Saturday, he was the last man standing! After some initial tampering with his microphone, and pitch, he opened his arguments by restating his offensive tactic on “big-government Republican”, Rick Santorum. The only two real Tea Party contenders: Ronald Paul and Rick Perry, were left to languish on stage for the better part of 15 minutes, until allowed to join the discussion.

Mitt Romney was busy arguing how many jobs were, lost and gained under his CEO leisure. Newt Gingrich quoted the New York Times. Paul smoothly stepped back, blocked Santorum’s smugness by raining down: “he voted to raise the debt [ceiling] five times.”

Rick Santorum let loose liberal counter-attacks, naming sources “leftist”, and calling Mitt Romney class-consciously dangerous. In so doing, Santorum looked less Republican, more like a blue-state lawyer from the Northeast. Neither Paul nor Romney delved deep into his attacks, mostly picking up on their own strengths. Santorum was a negative force, not a positivist in this debate, Saturday night January 7th.

When Ronald Paul raised his hand for a response, the slick Stephonopilis retorted back to Paul (his senior by quite a few years): “we’ll stay with the subject, don’t you worry.” Brilliance in public debate rarely comes to the fore, especially on television. Paul showed it by counterstriking first Santorum, then defecting the attack from Rick Perry, onto Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Jon Huntsman decided not to attack. Mitt Romney largely left the debate unscathed. Only because Ronald Paul made no concerted effort to attack the former Massachusetts blue-state Governor. It was easy for Paul to slice-down the cryptic schizophrenity of Gingrich, whose attempted slur of Ronald Paul on “style”, many see as hearnestness.

Gun Control Activists Are Right: Guns Kill People

Gun control is in the news again. Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the Tuscon shootings, when alleged gunman Jared Loughner killed six people and injured thirteen — including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is still recovering from her injuries. The Daily Caller reports that despite lobbying from gun control activists the White House has offered little more than a nod in their direction, perhaps fearing the impact of any new anti-gun legislation on the president’s reelection efforts in key swing states such as North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. But gun control activists aren’t backing off; progressive news program Democracy Now! reports that one survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, Colin Goddard, is pushing for new gun curbs.

A very different story has also been in the headlines. A recently widowed teen mother, alone at her isolated home in Oklahoma with her 3-month-old son, shot and killed an intruder on New Year’s Eve. 18-year-old Sarah McKinley of Blanchard, Okla., said that she had to make a choice between her son and the intruder, 24-year-old Justin Shane Martin when Martin busted down the door to her home. “I chose my son over him,” said McKinley in an interview with CNN, describing her decision to fire the 12-gauge shotgun that killed Martin. No charges will be filed against McKinley and prosecutors have said that an alleged accomplice, 29-year-old Dustin Louis Stewart, may actually be charged with Martin’s murder.

Why do you trust your government?

I mean, there’s things like SOPA and the NDAA and the Patriot Act and your typical corruption and whatnot, but then you have ridiculous stories like the Texas teen who was accidentally deported to Columbia:

Turner said with the help of Dallas Police, she found her granddaughter in the most unexpected place - Colombia.

Where she had mistakenly been deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in April of 2011.

“They didn’t do their work,” Turner said. “How do you deport a teenager and send her to Colombia without a passport, without anything?”

News 8 learned that Jakadrien somehow ended up in Houston, where she was arrested by Houston police for theft. She gave Houston police a fake name. When police in Houston ran that name, it belonged to a 22-year-old illegal immigrant from Colombia, who had warrants for her arrest.

So ICE officials stepped in.

News 8 has learned ICE took the girl’s fingerprints, but somehow didn’t confirm her identity and deported her to Colombia, where the Colombian government gave her a work card and released her.

The only thing going for ICE in this is that the girl gave a false name. Yes, she probably shouldn’t have done that—but how in the world could ICE, in her mother’s words, deport a girl to Colombia who knew no Spanish and failed to even do the basic work of, you know, confirming this claim? You would think law enforcement officials would expect teenagers to give false names upon imprisonment; it’s not that uncommon.

Steal This Comic

Submitted without comment, as none really is needed.

Virtual Shackles's excellent commentary on SOPA and the NDAA

Hat tip: Virtual Shackles, via Geeks Are Sexy

 


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