November 29th, 2010

Uncle Sam loves the GOP

Copy Rights ® vs Homeland Security

If you ever want to make the “®it’s alt + 174.  Now don’t say I never taught you anything.

There have been two interesting articles regarding copy right I want to discuss.


Article 1:

The investigative arm of the Homeland Security Department appears to be shutting down websites that facilitate copyright infringement.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seized dozens of domain names over the past few days, according to TorrentFreak.

ICE appears to be targeting sites that help Internet users download copyrighted music, as well as sites that sell bootleg goods, such as fake designer handbags.

The sites are replaced with a note from the government: "This domain named has been seized by ICE, Homeland Security Investigations."


Copyright infringement is a crime. There is no arguing that. However, is this the job of Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Why are they doing this?


Article 2:

Americans for Limited Government is calling on the U.S. Justice Department to take action against a liberal think tank for using seal of the American President on a new policy publication.

In general, commercial use of the seal is prohibited by 18 USC 713[6] of the United States Code, and further defined by Executive Orders 11916 and 11649. The United States Secret Service is authorized to use the seal in conjunction to fund raising sales for its charitable benefit fund

Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government, reportedly sent a letter to White House counsel Bob Bauer asking if the Obama administration had granted a special exception for CAP’s “The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change,”  a policy publication which offers suggestions for President Obama to pursue the progressive agenda through executive orders in lieu of legislative initiatives.

The Center for American Progress has since responded, claiming the organization purchased a photograph of the seal from the Associated Press, offering no further clarification on its use of the seal on its publication.

In response, Manning said, “They’re admitting they did not get permission.  So the operating question is: Is the White House going to take action to protect the seal because it violates the statute?” .


This also appears to be a crime. However, ICE has not put the impressive: "This domain named has been seized by ICE, Homeland Security Investigations." on the link for the Think Progressive use of the Presidential Seal. Isn't the unpermitted use of the Presidential Seal more dangerous to Home Land Security than someone selling Proda g-strings?

 Why do we have metaphoric black helicopters closing down websites selling knockoff goods but laissez-faire use of the Presidential Seal? Is the lack of uproar about the use of the Presidential Seal on a Progressive think tank’s a double standard? What do you think the motivation is behind ICE’s new power to seize websites? Have you ever purhchased a cheap knockoff product or pirated music or movies?

Godzilla, default

Alternate histories that are useless ideological wankery;

There are a very few alternate history points of divergence that literally need intervention by God or a sufficiently-minded alien from the Q Continuum to bring them about. Sure, anything is possible but for some things improbability is far too overwhelming to make a decent story about them.

The first of these is a Nazi invasion of England via Operation Sealion. The Germans had no way in Hell to pull that off, they had no navy, their air force was not designed for that purpose, and the British were rather more formidable than the Germans realized. Sealion is as mythical as a polka-dotted unicorn drinking from Russell's Teapot.

The second of these is the Confederacy winning the US Civil War. It has a very, very narrow timeframe to do that in if we're assuming a recognizable scenario. Once the Confederacy resorts to conscription the South will weaken every year no matter how well its armies do on the battlefield, while Northern strength is ever-increasing by comparison. Any long war scenario and the only question is when and how the Union defeats the Confederacy. For that matter the South could only win the war in the East but it lost it in the West due to the Union's three best generals being up against the Confederate General Failures.

Another irritating thing one sees in alternate history are borders that are the same as our world's without sufficient logic. Kazakhstan, and a unified India and China are obvious examples. For that matter a unified China including Tibet and Xinjiang is another obvious example. Then there's that the potentiality of a late Medieval Chinese industrial state is always overlooked in favor of steampunk Victoriana, with the problem that an industrial China's a lot more interesting because Britain was two tiny islands. A unified and industrialized Chinese Empire would be a juggernaut on the US scale.

On the other side of things, Japan *always* ends up being the only non-Western power to industrialize and overtakes China in the process despite that Japan was traditionally a backwards backwater of the Chinese dynasties. This is no doubt due to ignorance and people being unwilling or unable to spin a tale about super-Korea or super-*Vietnam. Then there's the question about why nobody ever postulates worlds where William Henry Harrison never attacks Prophetstown which makes the War of 1812 very interesting.

The other major vexation in alternate history series is a tendency to uber-wank societies like the Confederacy and the Nazis. Timeline-191, despite being one of the lengthiest timelines gets really, really ridiculous. Not only does the Confederacy get a handwaved emancipation but it lasts too long in World War I and ends up with both an atomic bomb and the ability to run World War II and a Holocaust analogue at the same time, which would be rather beyond anything realistic. And the tendency for Man in the High Castle-type timelines where the Nazis end up more like Sauron than they do a society more inefficient than Stalinism that burned out in 12 years is both annoying and has a lot of unfortunate implications. The ones with the Confederacy do, too, but then the Confederacy and its crimes are regularly overlooked by of all parties the party of Lincoln and Grant so WTF do I know.

Then there's the converse tendency where some societies are *never* allowed to go anywhere. The most egregious example is the Ottoman Empire where points of divergence include things like a successful Treaty of Sevres (*shudder*) or the Greeks taking over successfully the parts of Ottoman Anatolia where most Turks lived, leaving aside that in real life they showed that had they done so Turks would be as numerous as Cherokees today. Or alternately one never sees Amerindians having their own version of a Meiji Restoration despite the length of things like the Auracao War or the Zapatista Revolt. Nor does one see Soviet-wanks the way one sees Nazi-wanks even though logically the one should be more plausible than the other (given the USSR lasted into the 1990s where Nazi Germany lasted barely over a decade).

On entrapment...

First off I'd like to apologize to the Mods and the community for my drunken wank-baiting, hopefully this post will be much more coherent and substantantial.

When I woke up this morning the local talking heads were gushing over this story.

Basically a 19 year-old American/Wannabe-Mujihadan posted his desire to blow something up on an internet forum frequented by other mujihadeen. He was contacted by an FBI agent pretending to represent Al Queda, or some other big-time terrorist organization, who provided our alleged terrorist with a target and a bomb. Seeing as the bomb, the bomber, and the target were all known by the FBI this "terrorist plot" was easily thwarted.

Stories like this make me mad.

I'd like to say "Chalk one up for the good guys" but I can't. It's not that I think he wouldn't commit some form of violence given the chance, it's just that there are probably lots of people who feel the same way and yet don’t actually do anything because they lack the motivation, fear prosecution, or are otherwise morally opposed to it. So I have to wonder just how much of the plot was his idea.

In other words, did the FBI really "Thwart" anything if the plot was theirs to begin with?

Is someone who buys or sells oregeno thinking it's cannabis guilty of drug traffiking?

How much of criminality is intent as opposed to action?

As spaz_own_joo pointed out in the comments, murder and manslaughter differ in intent but are the same in result.

The question I'm asking is essentially the reverse.

If you have two people, both of whom intending to commit a crime, but only one of whom has the means and opportunity, Is the other guy(the one with the intent but not the action) a criminal yet?
  • mijopo


Well, hell, if nobody's going to open up the floor to discuss WikiLeaks, lots of links let's start here, let me get the ball rolling with a few questions:
a) what's the most surprising/troubling revelation so far?
b) what's the most damaging to US interests?
c) Is Assange a modern day hero or vile supporter of terrorism?
d) Was the NYT right to publish the documents?
e) Does Palin's lashing out on her Facebook page, suggest Tea Partiers are working with an odd notion of "freedom" and "limited government"?
f) Who's responsible for Sunday's DoS attack on WikiLeaks?


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Alternate History: Learning Lessons from Vietnam

Ever since the shrubster made a remark about learning a lesson from the Vietnam War, I've paid closer attention to the attitude that people take toward that "police action." One general wrote a tome about the way that McNamara pulled the wool over the eyes of Kennedy and the public. I found it fascinating that he mentioned the way that the military pulled the wool over the eyes of the Pentagon and the White House without emphasizing the point. There was a lot of wool pulling going on.

The shrubster obviously learned something other than what I learned from Vietnam. I learned that the American government and the people who put it there are vicious and brutal. Had the shrubster learned the same lesson, he probably would have done something more productive with his life.

What is your spin on Vietnam? Have you learned about the vicious brutality of the American system yet?

Weekly Topic + Announcement

Atenshun, atenshun. Before we go into the regular weekly-topic stuff, here's an announcement. We give you the talk_politics newest moderator, mahnmut!

Of course we all know him so well and love him so much, and undoubtedly he's been one of the coolest guys around. We believe he'll add a new dimension to the mod team (which is now a dirty half-dozen, yay!), and he'll continue being as enormously helpful for the betterment of this community as he has always been.

Frankly, i think you'd agree that this was long overdue. mahnmut is probably the person who knows this comm better than anyone and holds it very dear, and in fact anyone who's familiar with the (rather short) history of this place, would recall that he was that tiny last drop that triggered the birth of this awesome forum that we're all enjoying now. Besides, as you might've noticed, TP has been steadily growing ever since its inception 23 months ago. Time flies so fast... The comm has established itself as one of the most prominent places for political analysis and discussion on LJ, first of all due to this specific "product" that we've been trying to create over the years. And you know what? Most importantly, its thanks to all of you guys that we're where we are now. So, a big bow to all of you, and hopes for many more interesting moments together!

And of course, hail to our new overlord! :)


Now that we've brushed the tears of adoration off, back to biz. On the last poll, the bi-weekly topic that you chose for the period Nov 29 - Dec 12 was:

"Political Fiction, Futurism and Alternate History"

Now thats something curious... Its a fruitful ground for unleashing our imagination. Be the thinkers and philosophers that you surely are. This is not just about what cool (or horrific) story some guy wrote somewhere about politics, the state, etc, or what some other guy speculated about the future of humankind; its not just about "What if...". Its about you and your own political views, beliefs and convictions, refracted through the twisted prism of time, now stripped of all the shackles and conventionalities of this thing that we call "reality", and gone berserk into the land of hypothesis. Or a parallel universe, if you like. Some points that might or might not be included:

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