Opinionated @ CFE

Why Progessives Should Consider Ron Paul

Jan
18

Glenn Greenwald has spent a lot of time calling for more intellectual honesty from alleged progressives during this campaign season, and rightfully so. After putting all of their anti-war and pro-civil liberties fervor into a candidate that has proven to be the polar opposite, they’ve engaged in some serious contortions to try and justified their continued  unqualified support of now-President Obama. While a few brave souls (including both Greenwald and Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow) will express their disgust at warrantless GPS tracking, indefinite detention, and escalating militarism, the vast majority of progressivedom instead choses to ignore, justify, or tepidly disapprove of these actions. Greenwald summarized the honest justification for continuing to support Obama over someone like Paul thusly:

Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.

On the surface, this seems to be an accurate portrayal of a “lesser of two evils” scenario, but I think that perhaps Glenn hasn’t accurately portrayed the reality of a Paul presidency. Yes, Paul would absolutely slash federal programs with aplomb, maybe even many of which you heartily approve. Ask yourself, however, if this really does mean the end of the programs. It is highly likely that many, if not all, states would continue entitlement programs as a replacement of the eliminated federal ones. With the elimination of those federal programs and many federal laws, the Supreme Court wouldn’t have as much sway in our political discourse, much of it, again, being left up to the states. If Greenwald’s argument is accurate, it’s not a simple “pick which half is most important to you” argument.

And even if it is, which half matters most in a President? While you can most assuredly tackle the issues with entitlements and abortion and civil rights, etc. at the state level, can you do anything about targeted assassination of American citizens? What about warrantless wiretapping? Or a war with Iran to replace the “winding down” (if you can call it that) of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan? Those are all issues which you either fix at the federal level or not at all. But social issues and entitlement spending? Even blood red Utah is likely to keep some of them around. If we were keeping score, Paul would fulfill a lot more of your requirements for the office of the presidency.

If you crunch the numbers and still believe that Obama is a better choice for you, that’s perfectly fine. All I’m asking is that you exercise some honesty and soul-searching, ditch the tribalism of unwavering support for a Democratic president no matter how neo-conservative he may be, and choose who actually best fits your views.

Wikileaks Matters (And That's a Good Thing)

Dec
08

Wikileaks has probably just redefined the world we live in. I know, it’s really easy to make statements like that. In this case, it’s entirely true. Wikileaks has proved once and for all that the Internet has won in the war for access to information.

First off, it has proven that removing data is impossible. There are now 1200 (and counting) mirrors of their site data around the world, accessible to anyone. There’s even a “poison pill” of data floating around on bittorrent just waiting for the key to unlock it to be in the wild. By trying to quash the site via hosting providers, the feds have just been cutting up a starfish. If you really want data to be secure, you can’t let it get on the Internet. Once you do that, the game is over and you have lost.

Second, it shows that the Internet will absolutely react to companies that will not stick up for their customer’s rights. PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard have all been knocked offline by vigilantes angered at the termination of services. It’s all been done via volunteers who download an open-source application to volunteer their bandwidth for DDoS attacks. With the push of a button, someone can become part of a virtually untraceable weapon that can take down the engines of our commerce. That kind of ease should give pause to anyone else who won’t stick up for a customer’s rights.

Third, we’re now getting to see some truly atrocious goings-on from our foreign policy. Other nations trying to goad us into war with Iran? Check. Acting as foreign lobbyists for credit card companies? Check. Funding a contractor that buys underage boys to pimp out in Afghanistan? Check. We probably wouldn’t know any of these things without Wikileaks, and we have a right to know about these things before we’re asked to support our foreign policy.

A lot of people are saying some pretty ridiculous things about lives being in danger because of this sunshine. Hogwash. If any lives are in danger, it is because the federal government meddles too much in foreign affairs. We have no business manipulating the legislative process of another country. We have no business occupying another country. We have no business launching a preemptive war. These things, trying to extend American hegemony across the globe, are what put Americans in danger. That we now get to see the very ugly details of what that policy entails is just pointing out what we tried so hard not to know.

I’m hoping that the revelations posted by the site expand into the promised banking malfeasance and other corporate wrongdoings. I hope other governments get their dirty laundry hung out in the open. I hope these powerful interests get the full scope of their malevolent actions put on public display. After all, if you have nothing to hide, what’s the big deal?

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