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Inside the "Ron Paul" Spam Botnet.
December 5, 2007 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Inside the "Ron Paul" Spam Botnet.

This is a pretty interesting look at how botnets work in general.
posted by chunking express (171 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
This will not ronpaul.
posted by wendell at 6:28 PM on December 5, 2007 [8 favorites]


Well dang, that was interesting.

But why am I still getting a few "Please her with larger and bigger pe_ nis!" spams daily, though?
posted by yhbc at 6:29 PM on December 5, 2007


V073 4 r0n P@u! Ch3ap Canad!an pr!c3s
posted by Avenger at 6:29 PM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Please her with larger and bigger r0n pau1?
posted by fuq at 6:33 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


So Ron Paul supporters are spammers! Awesome. Round 'em all up and put 'em in camps.
posted by mullingitover at 6:51 PM on December 5, 2007


I just like that URL. That is all.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:55 PM on December 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


You know, I prefer spammers to libertarians.
posted by pompomtom at 6:56 PM on December 5, 2007 [11 favorites]


mullingitover: while you're probably being ironic, it's worth pointing out for the "don't read the article" brigade that your summary in no way reflects the actual content of this article.
posted by absalom at 7:01 PM on December 5, 2007


threat=ronpaul
posted by mr_book at 7:03 PM on December 5, 2007


Yeah, just in case people don't read the article -- which is a pretty short and an easy read -- it concludes by pointing out that they have no idea who actually paid to send all this spam.
posted by chunking express at 7:03 PM on December 5, 2007


Who the fuck is Ron Paul and why is the internet in love with him? Ok, TFA tells me he is a Presidential Candidate, but why is he more important than any others? He seriously can't be a contender if I've never heard of him.
posted by Eideteker at 7:05 PM on December 5, 2007


You know, I prefer spammers to libertarians.

Hey, those guys don't pay taxes for the RIGHT to spam.

Good article. As chungking express points out the trail goes cold - it could as easily be a an over enthusiastic paul fan as it could be someone being a jerk - but it's interesting nonetheless.
posted by Artw at 7:08 PM on December 5, 2007


Ok, TFA tells me he is a Presidential Candidate, but why is he more important than any others? He seriously can't be a contender if I've never heard of him.

He represents someone who stands for principles and ideas, rather than moneyed interests. This is quite a rarity in American politcs, and so exciting. He is also somewhat funny looking on television.
posted by xmutex at 7:09 PM on December 5, 2007


That's not much [more inside].
posted by spiderwire at 7:14 PM on December 5, 2007


I want this paul to be president!
posted by zerobyproxy at 7:18 PM on December 5, 2007


He also raised a staggering amount of scratch in a single day and, despite being a totally marginalized candidate in the media, I believe he actually leads the GOP in Q4 fundraising and, while being opposed to every part of the party line about Iraq, still manages to draw more monetary support from active duty military than any other candidate from either party.

And, while the trail runs colds, it is also informative in that it appears that it was a major one-off flood, probably paid for all at once, and carried out by a run-of-the-mill spam operation and is *not* in fact some sort of a distributed attack by Paulites.

This second point is far more important than it seems, in that a great many people attempt to wipe away his clear, if surprising, popularity by blaming it on a small but tech-savvy elite band of internet libertarians. The popular media presentation of the spam attack could easily play into that same narrative.

Just sayin'.
posted by absalom at 7:18 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


What a fun article. Too bad that we can't get beyond unsigned smtp and eliminate the major monetary value of botnets.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:29 PM on December 5, 2007


In a related question, are there really that many men out there with small penises, or do men with small penises spend disproportionate amounts of money trying to change the status quo? I mean, just based on the amount of spam sent, there must be a, er, huge market for the product(s).

What's more interesting to me is that all of this spam must eventually be self-defeating, eh? I mean, I can look in my spam folder and find 10 pump-and-dump stock schemes on any given day. Even the most gullible should get a clue when the "mistaken" mail they received was followed up by ten more. Likewise, on the Nigerian spam stuff, how many lotteries can one person win and how many ex-government ministers can get in touch without arousing suspicion?
posted by maxwelton at 7:31 PM on December 5, 2007


xmutex: He represents someone who stands for principles and ideas, rather than moneyed interests.

This is true. They are, however, bad ones. He's a red-state style religious fanatic, and although he says he's going to stay out of those issues, I don't believe it in the slightest. He's not going to take apart the constitution, no... he'll stand back and let his red state allies do it for him. At least in their own backyards.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:34 PM on December 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


Although I'd like to add that he's still vastly better than all of the other republican candidates.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:37 PM on December 5, 2007


Eideteker, Ron Paul's is a Libertrarian, and apparently so is everyone on the Internet. Fucking idiots.
posted by chunking express at 7:38 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


In a related question, are there really that many men out there with small penises, or do men with small penises spend disproportionate amounts of money trying to change the status quo? I mean, just based on the amount of spam sent, there must be a, er, huge market for the product(s).

Yeah, the market is pretty huge.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 PM on December 5, 2007


I think those spam messages were a set-up by someone trying to make our lord and savior, the Great Ron Paul, look bad.

RON PAUL!@#$
posted by puke & cry at 7:46 PM on December 5, 2007


I am so damned tired of Ron Paul the meme god. This guy is not the saviour of America. He is not the new rock n roll. He will not put a turkey in every oven and an oven in every house and a house in every turkey.

Stop taking your bedsheets and spray painting his name on them and then hanging them over the overpasses here in Texas. Ron Paul CAN'T win Texas! Conservative republicans here think he's a democrat! You realize how impossible it is for us democrats* to get anyone to take us seriously in this godforsaken excuse for a landmass?

God. I miss Anne. *sniff* QUIT TALKING ABOUT RON PAUL!

* okay I'm an EX-democrat but still!
posted by ZachsMind at 7:56 PM on December 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


WHO IS ROHN PAULT?
posted by Hat Maui at 7:56 PM on December 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


ZachsMind: QUIT TALKING ABOUT RON PAUL!

Live with it another year, please! He could Nader the election for them!
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:58 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


"...He could Nader the election..."

You say that like it's a GOOD thing????

Nader the election for whom? The last time Nader nadered the election, we got a trigger happy cowboy with a brain made outta margaritas and velveeta.

QUIT TALKING ABOUT NADERING ELECTIONS! But have your pets spayed and nadered. Thanks
posted by ZachsMind at 8:12 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


My problem with libertarians is simply that I don't trust them. Officially, they are for civil liberties and unfettered capitalism. What happens is, they get the deregulated business, then no longer worry about the civil liberties.

But the whole presidential thing in America has gotten quite absurd. People are led to expect sweeping changes as a result of the change in executive, when the real issue is about Congress. The presidential race effectively serves as a distraction from the more serious matter of the legislature. Perhaps this is simply due to the glamor of that race, and the ease of making it in to a media festival.
posted by Goofyy at 8:17 PM on December 5, 2007


ZachsMind: Nader the election for whom?

The Republicans, obviously. You Nader an election by siphoning off votes from people who are basically your allies, letting the opponent put a raving lunatic in charge.

Obviously, I want the democrats to win. And since they the democratic candidates are the least electable ones anyone could possibly come up with until someone discovers how to reanimate a certain German leader's corpse, we need every angle we can get.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:19 PM on December 5, 2007


He's not going to take apart the constitution, no... he'll stand back and let his red state allies do it for him. At least in their own backyards.

An ineludible part of liberty is watching others do things that you would do differently. Just sayin'.

And Ron Paul gets called a lot of things but religious fanatic is pretty rare. Most religious fanatics do not support reducing the federal government's drug war.

-----

My problem with libertarians is simply that I don't trust them. Officially, they are for civil liberties and unfettered capitalism. What happens is, they get the deregulated business, then no longer worry about the civil liberties.

Really?! Do you have evidence or do you have an anecdote?
posted by BigSky at 8:19 PM on December 5, 2007


He isn't a real libertarian, Ron Paul is the second coming of Andrew Jackson.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:20 PM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


He represents someone who stands for principles and ideas

You know who else stood for principles and ideas?!? Exactly.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:35 PM on December 5, 2007


BigSky: An ineludible part of liberty is watching others do things that you would do differently. Just sayin'.

True. However, sometimes allowing more freedom in one way results in less overall.

Ron Paul will repeal federal acts guaranteeing the enforcement of civil liberties in the name of state's rights, allowing states to restrict or eliminate them. Many will. Roe vs. Wade is likely the first one on the chopping block.

What Ron Paul does, he will do in the name of freedom, and maybe he believes it will even result in greater freedom... but in the end, the citizens of this country will have less. Civil rights will become even more diminished.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:35 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ron Paul is a crazy person!

Ron Paul won't Nader the election for republicans.

Republicans think he's a democrat.

Democrats think he's a republican.

Libertarians think he's a fundamentalist.

Fundamentalists think he's the anti-christ, but honestly those fundamentalists used to think Mojo Nixon was the anti-christ and now it's like "Mo Who?" Fundamentalists think tortillas with the mother Mary seared onto them are the anti-christ. Fundamentalists are crazy people! I so scare! Quick! Run for the hills! The Fundamentalists are approaching TOKYO! Oh wait no that's just RONPAZILLA!

*screams and then his mouth moves*

You know who the world should embrace as the next best thing for politics since sliced bread? DR. HAL ROBINS! He knows everything!
posted by ZachsMind at 8:36 PM on December 5, 2007


He isn't a real libertarian, Ron Paul is the second coming of Andrew Jackson.

You do realize that for us Cherokees, Andrew Jackson is our Hitler?
posted by dw at 8:37 PM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Officially, they are for civil liberties and unfettered capitalism. What happens is, they get the deregulated business, then no longer worry about the civil liberties.

I can understand people who fear the worst, but you're posting your imagined fears as fact. I don't think there's been a Libertarian leader in the US since the late 18th Century.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:37 PM on December 5, 2007


Freedom's just another word for the Left has nothing to lose.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:38 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know who else stood for principles and ideas?
Andrew Jackson.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:40 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


(stopping now)
posted by joe lisboa at 8:41 PM on December 5, 2007


As for the democrats winning, more than anything I'd like a president to just once be a woman, even if it's like Nicole Richie, just so we could finally face the rest of the world as a country that once allowed a woman to sit in the Oval Office, and I mean IN the seat as opposed to sitting under the desk. I don't care WHAT woman.

Margaret Thatcher ruled the United Kingdom for goodness sake and that was a quarter of a century ago. We still only vote old farts in, and yet claim to be this high fallutin' forward thinking cultured society. It's embarrassing.

However, the only possible contender right now is Hillary and to be quite honest, I'm not entirely convinced she's a woman.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:41 PM on December 5, 2007


We still only vote old farts in...

Well, except for JFK, who was 43 when he was sworn in.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:46 PM on December 5, 2007


You do realize that for us Cherokees, Andrew Jackson is our Hitler?

Yes, I do. Ron Paul is real awesome, just like Hitler.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:50 PM on December 5, 2007


We still only vote old rich, white, male, protestant farts in.

(Yes, yes, except for JFK. Cos that worked out so well....)
posted by pompomtom at 8:55 PM on December 5, 2007


As to the "protestant" part, Jefferson was a Deist.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:20 PM on December 5, 2007


Ron Paul will repeal federal acts guaranteeing the enforcement of civil liberties in the name of state's rights, allowing states to restrict or eliminate them. Many will. Roe vs. Wade is likely the first one on the chopping block.

What Ron Paul does, he will do in the name of freedom, and maybe he believes it will even result in greater freedom... but in the end, the citizens of this country will have less. Civil rights will become even more diminished.


This is just flat out wrong. Abortion is not a civil right. Even respected liberal legal scholars, including Blackmun's own clerk, agree that the opinion is mistaken in seeing a federally protected 'right' to an abortion. Take a look.

Now, you might not care what the Constitution has to say on the matter, some of us do. And to call this an elimination of a civil liberty is getting pretty free and loose with the words.

If you could set abortion aside (by all means feel free to rant on it as long as you wish, but afterwards), I would certainly like to hear an argument showing how Ron Paul would be likely to remove our civil liberties. Do you see it in his strident advocacy to restore habeas corpus? Perhaps in his emphasis on the importance of jury nullification, the rights of citizens to judge the law? For some reason I suspect your justification is going to involve some quite imaginative uses of the phrase 'civil liberties'.

But, do tell. After all, a large portion of his supporters are counting on him to restore civil liberties. If you persuasively argue the contrary, I would expect you to do considerable damage to the campaign.

P.S. The article linked to in 'jury nullification' is partisan. Scroll down and you'll find an excerpt of Dr. Paul's thought on the subject.
posted by BigSky at 9:22 PM on December 5, 2007


Dr. Paul

Despite the fact that Paul really is a doctor, I find that referring to him on the internet as "Dr. Paul" is an almost 100% reliable indicator that the commentor is a fucking loon.
posted by dersins at 9:40 PM on December 5, 2007 [15 favorites]


I'll be so damn glad when the first few primaries are over and Paul has had his ass soundly kicked in them, so that I can get the internet back. I'm sick of "Ron Paul Revolution" all over the place. If he was actually a contender, the front runners would spend a lot of time attacking him. That's not the case.

Americans have rejected the Libertarian Party time and time again. This time will be no different, even if he has a (R) next to his name.
posted by azpenguin at 9:42 PM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


azpenguin writes "I'll be so damn glad when the first few primaries are over and Paul has had his ass soundly kicked in them, so that I can get the internet back. I'm sick of 'Ron Paul Revolution' all over the place. If he was actually a contender, the front runners would spend a lot of time attacking him. That's not the case."

Thank goodness you'll probably end up with Giuliani or Huckabee.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:50 PM on December 5, 2007


Dr. Paul

Despite the fact that Paul really is a doctor, I find that referring to him on the internet as "Dr. Paul" is an almost 100% reliable indicator that the commentor is a fucking loon.


What can I say?

You got me.
posted by BigSky at 9:52 PM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Do you see it in his strident advocacy to restore habeas corpus? Perhaps in his emphasis on the importance of jury nullification, the rights of citizens to judge the law? For some reason I suspect your justification is going to involve some quite imaginative uses of the phrase 'civil liberties'.

You know, the funny thing about a Libertarian revolution is that everyone would be free -- but only for one day.

On Day 2, the corporations would get together and start forming monopolies. By day 3, you would need to sign an "Indemnity Release" form or "Assent to Arbitration" document to buy so much as a candy bar. Most companies will refuse to do business with regular consumers unless they agree, in writing, to never bring them to court for any reason, under any circumstances. These contracts will be happily enforced by a now (incredibly small) libertarian judiciary. Most average folk will have signed away so many of their rights to buy a loaf of bread or a lottery ticket that very few of them will ever see the inside of a courtroom.

By day 4, Banks will begin to attach Exceptional Conditions to mortgage contracts, requiring homeowners to maintain a certain length of grass or a certain number of flowers per square foot in order to keep their accounts in good standing. Any deviation in the rules will result in a immediate foreclosure. Naturally, not everybody with tall grass will be forced out -- only the people that the Bank wants forced out (blacks, Mexicans, college students) -- everybody else will be safe, until the Bank decides that they can sell your house for a tidy profit without your help. People will flee to smaller banking and mortgage companies that don't have any absurd requirements -- but these smaller companies will soon be driven out of business by the new Banking Monopolies that inevitably form in the new hyper-capitalist economy.

By day 5, people who try to form consumer collectives or labor unions to fight the encroaching tyranny will be "priced out" of almost all consumer goods, .i.e "Only Club members may shop here!"* (*belonging to a union, being related to a union member, cavorting with union members or owning a subscription to Consumer Reports makes one ineligible for Club membership. No blacks need apply, either.)

Business that offer goods and services to everyone will also be priced out or otherwise crushed by large business interests.

By day 6, the average American lifespan will have plummeted, as ambulances will only be called to the scene of an accident following mandatory credit checks of all the victims, and 911 calls will be routed to India and cost $4.99 a minute. Many elderly will die in their homes for lack of medication, or be reduced to picking through garbage to supplement their now nonexistent social security income.

By day 7, the people of Libertarian States of America will realize that, despite many, many flaws, a little bit of socialism makes life just a little bit more bearable.
posted by Avenger at 9:57 PM on December 5, 2007 [57 favorites]


So, some bot net, eh?
posted by maxwelton at 10:05 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I find that referring to him on the internet as "Dr. Paul" is an almost 100% reliable indicator that the commentor is a fucking loon.

I think "Dr. Ron" would be worse.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:07 PM on December 5, 2007


Avenger,

Is that supposed to pass for criticism?

By day 6, the average American lifespan will have plummeted, as ambulances will only be called to the scene of an accident following mandatory credit checks of all the victims, and 911 calls will be routed to India and cost $4.99 a minute. Many elderly will die in their homes for lack of medication, or be reduced to picking through garbage to supplement their now nonexistent social security income.

Where do the customers come from?

Think for a minute. There's a reason why many respected economists espouse libertarian views.

And not all libertarians love corporations. Some criticize them on the same grounds as Ambrose Bierce:

Corporation - n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
posted by BigSky at 10:08 PM on December 5, 2007


I wouldn't trust a totally unfettered marketplace to keep me safe for a second.
posted by lumensimus at 10:12 PM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't trust a totally unfettered marketplace to keep me safe for a second.

OK. And where did Dr. Ron indicate that was one of his goals?
posted by BigSky at 10:15 PM on December 5, 2007


Is that supposed to pass for criticism?

Yes. Is that supposed to pass for a content-free dismissal?

Where do the customers come from?

Where do the customers in a company town come from? Do you know what a company town is? Libertarianism will turn America into a giant Company Nation.

Think for a minute. There's a reason why many respected economists espouse libertarian views.


Think for a minute about the definition of "appeal to authority".

And not all libertarians love corporations. Some criticize them on the same grounds as Ambrose Bierce:

Great. Big props to them for "criticizing" corporations. But the method of tyranny is still the same whether its a privately held firm or a corporation. What you want to do is create a world ruled by Money, where people have the "choice" to either obey or starve. The fact that your tyranny comes from private firms and contracts doesn't make it any different than all the other tyrannies of history.
posted by Avenger at 10:21 PM on December 5, 2007 [10 favorites]


I often ponder the dichotomy of libertarianism and anarchism.

Anarchism is impossible to achieve, because it requires the entire population to agree to be selfless and work for the common good. This just isn't going to happen. People are different. Some of them are greedy and lust for power. Anarchism can actually work within small organisations - when a group of people who do share the same principals decide to work together under these principals - from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. Try to apply it to the whole of society, it just ain't going to happen. But it would be a beautiful thing if it did.

Libertarianism, by contrast, is easy to achieve. You just remove the entire foundations of the society we've built over, oh, the last three thousand years or so, and watch what happens. Instead of greed being the great destroyer, suddenly it becomes necessary for survival. You can throw away all those pearls of wisdom your mother taught you - "eat your dinner, don't you know there are starving kids in Africa?". Instead, fuck the starving kids in Africa, and fight like hell to make sure there's food on your plate. Libertarianism is easy to achieve. They're having great fun with it in Somalia, I hear. Easy, but it would look like hell.

Admittedly, I guess there is such a thing as a "moderate libertarian", but I still don't think it would be much fun.
posted by Jimbob at 10:28 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bigsky, I actually don't have a canny response to that. I had a feeling it was implied by the whole Libertarian, teeny-tiny government tack. Maybe I'm wrong! Suffice it to say, I'm very confused by the buzz he's generating, quite frightened by his stance on abortion, and fairly convinced that his stance on education is wrong. That's all. Wheeee!
posted by lumensimus at 10:28 PM on December 5, 2007


Big Sky = Pon Raul

discuss.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:32 PM on December 5, 2007


Big Sky = Pon Raul

discuss.


Thats DR. Pon Raul. DOCTOR FUCKING PON RAUL. I didn't spend 4 years at the Ayn Rand School of Medicine and Modernist Architecture for nothing, goddammit!
posted by Avenger at 10:37 PM on December 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


perhaps it is the accumulating and mysterious SWARM?
posted by edgeways at 10:55 PM on December 5, 2007


Where do the customers in a company town come from? Do you know what a company town is? Libertarianism will turn America into a giant Company Nation.

If there's no monopoly there's no coercive power. As far as I know, anyone who values the free market condemns monopolies. It's kind of implicit. Without monopolies does your argument have any force? And if it's all monopolies then it really isn't a free market, now is it?

You know, there might be a bit more to this than you're giving credit for.

But the method of tyranny is still the same whether its a privately held firm or a corporation.

Now where does the tyranny come from again? Do we have free markets or is this another simple minded caricature of "what libertarians want"?

-----

lumensimus,

This is his stance on education:

"The federal government does not own our children. Yet we act as if it does by letting it decide when, how, and what our children will learn. We have turned their futures over to lobbyists and bureaucrats.

I support giving educational control back to parents, who know their children better than any politician in D.C. ever will.

The federal government has no constitutional authority to fund or control schools. I want to abolish the unconstitutional, wasteful Department of Education and return its functions to the states. By removing the federal subsidies that inflate costs, schools can be funded by local taxes, and parents and teachers can directly decide how best to allocate the resources.

To help parents with the costs of schooling, I have introduced H.R. 1056, the Family Education Freedom Act, in Congress. This bill would allow parents a tax credit of up to $5,000 (adjustable after 2007 for inflation) per student per year for the cost of attendance at an elementary and/or secondary school. This includes private, parochial, religious, and home schools.

Another bill I have sponsored, H.R. 1059, allows full-time elementary and secondary teachers a $3,000 yearly tax credit, thus easing their financial burden and encouraging good teachers to stay in an underpaid profession.

Many parents have already shown their desire to be free of federal control by either enrolling their children in private schools or homeschooling them. And students enrolled in these alternatives have consistently performed better and tested higher than those in state-run schools.

Years of centralized education have produced nothing but failure and frustrated parents. We can resurrect our public school system if we follow the Constitution and end the federal education monopoly."

Perhaps you knew, still I wanted to make sure.
posted by BigSky at 11:04 PM on December 5, 2007


BigSky: Big tax credits for parents to send their kids to private schools? That's great for the fanatics who want to indoctrinate their kids at some Jesus camp, or for rich helicopter parents who want to send their kids to some ritzy private school. However, taking all of that funding (and all of those students) away from the public schools will pretty much turn them into a hopeless third-world trash can into which all the poor children will be thrown. Remember, tax credits don't matter until taxes are a significant drain, which doesn't occur until you make it into at least the lower middle class.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:14 PM on December 5, 2007


My problem with libertarians is simply that I don't trust them.

Neither will Congress or the Senate, which may restore some balance to things.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:17 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


If there's no monopoly there's no coercive power. As far as I know, anyone who values the free market condemns monopolies. It's kind of implicit. Without monopolies does your argument have any force? And if it's all monopolies then it really isn't a free market, now is it?

If it's really a free market how do you stop monopolies from forming? Will the Truly Free Market do it? How?

And that education plan is some of the dumbest bullshit I have ever read. A $3000 tax credit to teachers? Sweet! That's two months rent you don't need to eat or turn your lights on. "Years of centralized education have produced nothing but failure and frustrated parents"? For reals? Sure it's produced some of both those things, but it's also probably produced a lot of the members of this here site who seem to have turned out alright in the end. So there's that. Do you or Dr. Ron really think there is no benefit to a centralized education system and an agreed upon curriculum that all kids ought to learn?

Here's an example: Americans have, to a large degree, stopped reading books. It's a problem, but I don't read as much as I should either, so I'm not gonna finger-wag to much on that fact. But that means it's a good idea that we have English teachers (who do read books) pick out what makes for good literature. A centralized education system lets us pick out those people who want to do that. The Truly Free market can do the same for us? How? Who decides what books kids have to read? What if I only want my kid to read Mein Kamph and 10 Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives? We just have to hope that my understanding of the connection between my kid's education and his/her future job prospects is enough to make me think harder? That sounds like it will work perfectly with no problems at all!
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:19 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don;t you see? The free market will solve the problem of no such thing as a free market existing in the free world!
posted by Artw at 11:21 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


So is the comments thread on that November 6th Wired peice still going?

Oh look, it is.

If anyone is in doubt regarding the relative sanity and spamminess of Ron Paul supporters have a scroll through that.
posted by Artw at 11:25 PM on December 5, 2007


will pretty much turn them into a hopeless third-world trash can into which all the poor children will be thrown.

It can be persuasively argued that there are already public schools where this is the case, and where some central regulation and funding could certainly help. The fact that the current generation of federal regulation is an exercise in standardized test-philia and not a whole lot more doesn't mean that regulation is doomed to fail or that it's wrong in principle. I have a feeling that further marginalizing public schooling isn't going to help them get better, though.
posted by lumensimus at 11:26 PM on December 5, 2007


Whenever I meet a libertarian, I think of ponies.

This post is why. It is also my favorite skewering of the whole blighted philosophy that is FYIGMism.
posted by uri at 11:33 PM on December 5, 2007


uri - great post.

Nice to see that someone else is noticing that Libertarian exist in the same kind of weird abstract world of idealised economic structures that communist true beleivers do.
posted by Artw at 11:40 PM on December 5, 2007


I'd like to say quietly I am fucking sick of Ron Paul and his followers.

This bot spam thing is interesting. I suppose if there is plausible deniability there is nothing the feds can do, but it seems dodgy to say the least. I could see how a libertarian supporter of Paul would set this up independently, the mindset between a spammer and a neo-libertarian does not seem too dissimilar.
posted by edgeways at 11:46 PM on December 5, 2007


This is his stance on education:

"The federal government does not own our children. Yet we act as if it does by letting it decide when, how, and what our children will learn. We have turned their futures over to lobbyists and bureaucrats.

I support giving educational control back to parents, who know their children better than any politician in D.C. ever will.


Translation: "Sensible Americans everywhere are outraged that their wallets are being raped by a kleptocratic edumacational system. Middle class families across the nation are so burdened by taxation that they can barely afford to put colloidial silver on the dinner table and install necessary UFO detectors in their children's bedrooms.

My policy is to take our nations schools away from the fatcat feminazi sex ed mind molesters and anticreationist wiccans and put it in the hands of the scientologists, fundamentalist christians, and megacorporations that are more than happy to completely fund, tax free, the education and training of the children of our proud nations criminals and seedy dusky minorities. The cash that will be taken back from big government and returned to our wallets can then be spent on the things that really matter in life, such as gold bullion, chastity belts for our unmarried daughters, and most importantly of all, the armageddon investment funds which we will use to bribe ourselves into the good graces of Christ upon his imminent return."
posted by bunnytricks at 12:14 AM on December 6, 2007 [7 favorites]


So at what point does a libertarian or Ron Paul get rid of the United States Code of Law? If they did (completely) then arbitration would not be legal. Would it? Title 9 of the code of law states that it is valid except for a few reasons (of which I'm not sure). If the code of law was gone, then all civil trials would be guaranteed a right to trial by jury by Amendment 7 of the constitution, right?

If the code of law stays, then where in it does it state that businesses cannot require one to sign an arbitration agreement when one buys something from them? If it doesn't, then why isn't Wal-Mart requiring me to sign an arbitration agreement every time I buy their crappy steroid fed chicken?

I've just done a cursory glance over the Arbitration section and the Commerce section. I'm sure there are regulations in the U.S. Code that a corporation could use to run over people if it were gone. Arbitration just doesn't seem to be one of them.

Apparently, I'm missing something. Please enlighten me (and suggest something better than a hot toddy. It's just not working. I'm not sleeping and I'm still coughing. Just don't suggest nyquil).
posted by robtf3 at 12:48 AM on December 6, 2007


Fascinating artile about the 'Dr. Paul' Bot Net. Finding the source and author of the spam is (to me) impressive and how they go about it was really interesting. It's something I know nothing about.

What was more interesting though (to me, again) was the question of who paid for it.

Spam sucks. Everyone hates spam, yet everyone gets it and maybe a lot of it gets looked it, if only briefely.
Ron Paul, an essentially un-known factor spouting ill-defined, but appealing in their vague-ness, ideas has been drawing attention.
So if Paul is associated with Spam, is this more negative than the message he is trying to get across? Or can he keep his message oblique enough, long enough, to out-weigh the negative association?
Somewhere, someone has done the math to figure out which is more damaging, getting the 'Dr.Paul' message out by Spam, or not getting it out at all. And then acted according to what they wanted. I'm guessing they wanted to take 'Dr.Paul' down: Maybe I'm giving joe e-mail user too much credit, but I think the negative association of RonPaul/Spam is too great, especially given the paucity of his ideas when they are really, seriously considered (sorry BigSky). His getting his message out by spam will associate him with P3_N!s eLARGEment etc., and I don't think that's what he wants to convey (though I could be totally wrong).

Which led me to my next thought.
What other crappy shit could we take down? If all it takes is to buy a Spam Bot Net for a couple runs.
Spam about the beauty of gas-guzzling cars? Or spam about how great it is to sit in front of the TV for four hours every night? Or Or Or... ( that's an EB Memorial elipse) pick your topic.

We'd have to act fast though, as I'm sure the life of this reactive meme will be maybe six months, tops, then people will ignore that spam, too.

Car_B0n Cred!ts !1! Now!1! Canadian Prices!!!
posted by From Bklyn at 1:13 AM on December 6, 2007


To keep this on topic, can everyone please go to the Ron Paul blimp site and give them some money? They don't have enough for the blimp yet, and I really want to see Ron Paul flying around in his blimp. Mike Gravel can come too and throw rocks and shit.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:21 AM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


By the way, permit me to share a personal story with you. I used to never get any ladies. All the other men had enormous Ron Pauls, while I was stuck with a meager, limp Ron Paul. But then I discovered the patented Ron Paul enlarger. Within weeks, I was able to add over four inches to my Ron Paul. Today, the ladies flock to my powerful, throbbing Ron Paul.

Stay tuned for an exciting method to refinance your Ron Paul, receive access to sites featuring full-length, hardcore Ron Paul vids, and earn 10% of the sum of TEN MILLION DOLLARS inherited by the sole remaining member of the Ron Paul Blimp foundation.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:31 AM on December 6, 2007 [4 favorites]


Krrrlson,

As long as Mike Gravel can throw chert, I'm cool with it. Of course, he has to throw it in a lake, after staring blankly for 3 minutes. Those are the conditions. Live with them.
posted by robtf3 at 1:32 AM on December 6, 2007


fundamentalists used to think Mojo Nixon was the anti-christ

Really? I had no idea (but could have guessed). No wonder I have such love for ol' Mojo.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:46 AM on December 6, 2007


Yeah, forgive me for not getting up in arms about the thoughts of tax credits as a cure for our educational ills. Hell, as the cure to any of our ills. Simply put: those most in need of relief or assistance are the exact ones who never pay a cent of income tax becuase they are poor.
posted by absalom at 3:59 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ron Paul is the new Lyndon Larouche. Well, not really but their supporters easily bring that comparison to mind.
posted by chillmost at 5:25 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


fundamentalists used to think Mojo Nixon was the anti-christ

Rubbish! Mojo and Jesus were drinking buddies. I've heard the song.

I really want to see Ron Paul flying around in his blimp.

The Good, Rich, Blimp.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:41 AM on December 6, 2007


The more I hear about Ron Paul, the more I'm not convinced that his entire campain, from the spamming and internet buzz and upward, if not Ron himself, isn't the work of 4chan. It's one thing to get an internet meme to bleed into television, but to infect politics? It's like Ron Paul is a meme of Lovecraftian proportion.

Tay Zonday was the precursor, an experiment. If Ron Paul gets into the Whitehouse, the epic lulz will be unimaginable.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:01 AM on December 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


However, taking all of that funding (and all of those students) away from the public schools will pretty much turn them into a hopeless third-world trash can into which all the poor children will be thrown.

First, I note that neither you nor any of the other posters responded to Dr. Paul pointing out that the Constitution does not give the federal government the authority to run the school system. Is this of any significance to you?

Next, the amount of money spent per student is not the major difference maker.

"Public school expenditures per student continue rising, even though higher expenditures don't produce better student performance. Over the last 30 years, per pupil expenditures have tripled in real dollars, yet scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress remain nearly flat.

Clearly, our public school problems are not related to lack of money. But because the government has a near monopoly on education, and taxpayer support and student attendance are mandatory, the public school system is insulated from market forces and competition that might produce improvements.

Even the head of one of the largest teachers' unions, Albert Shanker, came to grips with the problems facing public education before his death in 1997.

Mr. Shanker, former president of the American Federation of Teachers, once noted: "It's time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve; it more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.""

From here.

That's the problem with public education. Giving tax credits to those choosing an alternate school is a way to increase competition.

I see that you have left the subject of Dr. Paul's commitment to civil liberties alone.

-----

If it's really a free market how do you stop monopolies from forming? Will the Truly Free Market do it? How?

Some libertarians would argue that in a free market no monopoly could exist. Perhaps, theoretically that makes sense, but I don't buy it. There's a place for antitrust law. I can't comment to what degree, but I think consumers require the protection of continuous competition.

Do you or Dr. Ron really think there is no benefit to a centralized education system and an agreed upon curriculum that all kids ought to learn?

That's not the question. The question is whether the current centralized education system is our best option relative to the costs and rewards.

Here's an example: Americans have, to a large degree, stopped reading books. It's a problem...

This is a problem? Really? To whom? What improvement will occur in our lives if everyone starts reading more, that could not occur by some alternate means? If there is some lack you hope to alleviate by more reading than the lack itself is the problem, not reading. And we would probably be best served by letting people address what they see to be the deficits in their lives according to their own priorities. You couldn't give a better example of a liberal saying what everybody else's problem is and determining what they need to do. For your own reading pleasure, I recommend Thomas Sowell's _Basic Economics_. I do think you are feeling your way towards a solution when you ask, "We just have to hope that my understanding of the connection between my kid's education and his/her future job prospects is enough to make me think harder?".

-----

It can be persuasively argued that there are already public schools where this is the case, and where some central regulation and funding could certainly help.

No. See, I don't think there is a persuasive argument for the second half of that sentence.

-----

So at what point does a libertarian or Ron Paul get rid of the United States Code of Law?

Do they? I don't know anything about this. Please show me where Dr. Paul or other libertarians recommend whole scale abandonment of the civil code.
posted by BigSky at 7:14 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


First, I note that neither you nor any of the other posters responded to Dr. Paul pointing out that the Constitution does not give the federal government the authority to run the school system. Is this of any significance to you?

I must've hallucinated the bits about the common welfare.

I see that you have left the subject of Dr. Paul's commitment to civil liberties alone.

Ron "Vagina Doctor" Paul has a thoroughgoing contempt for civil liberties. The We The People Act, which he has introduced twice, would prevent the Supreme Court from hearing First Amendment cases, permitting the states to run roughshod over civil liberties.

I can't believe there are literate Ron Paul supporters.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:34 AM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Perhaps in his emphasis on the importance of jury nullification, the rights of citizens to judge the law?

Jury nullification is fine and dandy for situations that are so unusual that the legislature which originally passed the law didn't think to create an exception for them. If a person breaks into a closed drug store to get first aid supplies to treat accident victims, and an overzealous prosecutor decides to charge them with breaking and entering, and theft, it's perfectly appropriate for the jury to acquit, despite the fact that the person is guilty by the letter of the law.

The problem with the way some people want to use jury nullification is that they don't want to use it merely in exceptional circumstances; they want to use it to ignore laws they don't like in cases where those laws are applied exactly as the legislature intended. They'd have you nullify all charges of drug possession, for example, not just those where there might be extraordinary, unforeseen circumstances.

I find that unacceptable, as it is replacing the will of a duly elected legislature, representing the will of the people as a whole, with the will of twelve random people. If those twelve people are so much smarter and wiser than the elected legislature, why not have them write all our laws?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:34 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm a libertarian.

I would be terrified of a pure Libertarian government, where all branches were controlled by die-hard libertarians.

But that said, I think we'd get better results if we had a few people in power whose first instinct was for less government instead of more. After all, nearly every major complaint about corporate abuse and bad governance present on this site was enabled, in some form or fashion, by legislative fiat.

It's worth trying for a while, at least in some arenas. It can't go worse.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 7:43 AM on December 6, 2007


I can't believe there are literate Ron Paul supporters.

There's no evidence here, certainly.

What improvement will occur in our lives if everyone starts reading more, that could not occur by some alternate means?

Booze. I suggest booze. And lots of drugs and kinky sex.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:45 AM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


To those would-be Hillary, Obama, and Edward voters concerned about the about the influence of corporations: check out your favorite candidate's money sources. Ron Paul takes none from corporations.
posted by king walnut at 7:48 AM on December 6, 2007


The We The People Act, which he has introduced twice, would prevent the Supreme Court from hearing First Amendment cases, permitting the states to run roughshod over civil liberties.

It would also prevent the federal courts from running roughshod over states who choose to allow same-sex marriage, abortion, or to ban the display of the ten commandments in schools and courtrooms.

True, it would allow other states to do the opposite, but the protections offered to progressive states seem quite valuable to me.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 7:51 AM on December 6, 2007


If there is some lack you hope to alleviate by more reading than the lack itself is the problem, not reading.

You make it all worthwhile, corn-fed.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:51 AM on December 6, 2007


This is a really interesting look at the botnet, sorry for all the off-topic crap though.
posted by Mister_A at 7:56 AM on December 6, 2007


4chan theory of Ron Paul populist movement: ++

It would be funny if the possibility of it being true weren't both sad and significant.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:58 AM on December 6, 2007


Mister_A, I kind of regret not editing the title before posting it here. That was stupid of me.

RON PAUL IS OUR SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
posted by chunking express at 8:05 AM on December 6, 2007


Pope Guilty writes "Ron 'Vagina Doctor' Paul has a thoroughgoing contempt for civil liberties."

Dude, seriously, what is the point in such childishness? Is being an OB/GYN funny to you? Are you in 7th grade?
posted by krinklyfig at 8:09 AM on December 6, 2007


Though to be fair, the Ron Paul bashing comments are really the first off-topic comments.
posted by chunking express at 8:10 AM on December 6, 2007


The We The People Act, which he has introduced twice, would prevent the Supreme Court from hearing First Amendment cases, permitting the states to run roughshod over civil liberties.

That's one way to put it. The other side of the discussion is that the rights of states to differ in their policies on marriage, abortion, etc. has been denied by federal judges. "States running roughshod" over civil liberties is a bit much. The conservative hyperbole about 'activist judges' and 'legislating from the bench' is much more warranted.

-----

I find that unacceptable, as it is replacing the will of a duly elected legislature, representing the will of the people as a whole, with the will of twelve random people. If those twelve people are so much smarter and wiser than the elected legislature, why not have them write all our laws?

I'm not claiming that a jury is smarter or wiser. Only that jury nullification is important because it allows the public to respond directly to the legislature.
posted by BigSky at 8:13 AM on December 6, 2007


There are many ways for the public to respond directly to the legislature which don't involve outright ignoring duly passed laws.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:34 AM on December 6, 2007


Ron Paul was one of two legislators to vote against the SAFE Act.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:34 AM on December 6, 2007


DevilsAdvocate writes "There are many ways for the public to respond directly to the legislature which don't involve outright ignoring duly passed laws."

Jury Nullification is one method our system allows. It is a traditional power of juries. It was applied by American revolutionaries who refused to convict under English law. It's not a new concept and indeed its use is centuries old.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:39 AM on December 6, 2007


Ron Paul was one of two legislators to vote against the SAFE Act.

BUT RON PAULZ IZ A LOON!!!

/me attempts to raise the discourse
posted by ryoshu at 8:51 AM on December 6, 2007


Jury Nullification is one method our system allows.

I am aware of what our system allows. Just because something is legal does not make it ethical.

It was applied by American revolutionaries who refused to convict under English law.

English law which American colonists had no say in crafting, unlike our current laws.

It's not a new concept and indeed its use is centuries old.

Its age does not constitute an argument in favor of "use jury nullification to ignore any laws you and eleven of your compatriots don't personally like."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:58 AM on December 6, 2007


DevilsAdvocate writes "I am aware of what our system allows. Just because something is legal does not make it ethical."

How is jury nullification unethical?

"English law which American colonists had no say in crafting, unlike our current laws."

It's not a new legal concept, is the point. Much of our legal system derives from English law.

Its age does not constitute an argument in favor of "use jury nullification to ignore any laws you and eleven of your compatriots don't personally like."

Well, arguing against a straw man is pointless. Do you have a better argument, since nobody has actually argued for what you state?
posted by krinklyfig at 9:14 AM on December 6, 2007


I hope that the 4chan theory of Ron Paul is true and that they are able to get him into office. In 50 years when I am old I want to see "THE ERA OF EPIC LULZ" as a heading in the history textbooks. Right now, lulz is probably the best thing we can hope for from America. It beats massive killings of Iraqis, torture, etc.

I can also hope, should he get in, that an attempt to return to the gold standard will set off the Second Great Depression, which will either save or destroy the country.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:20 AM on December 6, 2007


Did any of you people babbling about Ron Paul even read this article? It's only peripherally about him. It's really a fascinating technical investigation into the world of online crime. These botnets are some of the biggest things operating out on the Internet, way more powerful than traditional supercomputers. It's amazing how they're organized and access is sold.
posted by Nelson at 9:26 AM on December 6, 2007


How is jury nullification unethical?

Certain applications of jury nullification are unethical. I thought my earlier comments made it clear that I find jury nullification acceptable under certain circumstances. If you're going to accuse people of arguing against strawmen, you might take care not to make the same error yourself.

Jury nullification is ethical when used to acquit someone of a crime they are technically guilty of, when extraordinary circumstances exist, where it is reasonable to believe that the legislature would have excused, had they forseen such circumstances.

Jury nullification is ethical when a law is passed which is clearly not representative of the will of the people, due to government corruption.

Jury nullification is not ethical when it is used to ignore laws duly passed by the elected legislature, which were not a result of undue, corruptive influences.

It's not a new legal concept, is the point. Much of our legal system derives from English law.

No one here is arguing that it's a new legal concept. My argument neither expressly nor implicitly rests upon jury nullification being new, so this is irrelevant.

Do you have a better argument, since nobody has actually argued for what you state?

The article BigSky links to in his original comment on jury nullification, to which I was originally responding, argues for exactly that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:30 AM on December 6, 2007


DevilsAdvocate writes "Jury nullification is not ethical when it is used to ignore laws duly passed by the elected legislature, which were not a result of undue, corruptive influences."

How is that? Does the passage of the bill have to be due to corruption in order for nullification to be ethical? What about if the law itself is unethical, but was brought about without corruption?
posted by krinklyfig at 9:36 AM on December 6, 2007


What about if the law itself is unethical, but was brought about without corruption?

Then there are a large number (the exact number may vary with the particular legislature, but almost certainly more than twelve) of elected legislators (each of whom represents thousands of citizens) who believe that the law is not unethical; otherwise, they would not have passed it. On the other side, you have twelve randomly selected jurors who believe that the law is unethical.

Whose judgment should be controlling in this case?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:43 AM on December 6, 2007


God damn it! Why does a perfectly engaging article about how botnets work have to generate a thread where a paultard and a bunch of anti-paultards yap at each other?

That is a rhetorical question.
posted by damehex at 9:51 AM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Jury nullification is ethical when a law is passed which is clearly not representative of the will of the people, due to government corruption.

Jury nullification is not ethical when it is used to ignore laws duly passed by the elected legislature, which were not a result of undue, corruptive influences.


Upon reflection, I am probably carving out too narrow an exception by limiting its use to corruption alone. What I should have said was simply that jury nullification is ethical when used to nullify a law which is clearly not the will of the people. Corruption was the first potential cause of this which leapt to mind, but I shouldn't have limited it to that, since that's not the only possible cause.

Laws which the British Parliament applied to the American colonies probably were not, strictly speaking, the result of corruption, as members of Parliament may well have been accurately representing their constituencies in passing such laws. It's just that there wasn't anyone in parliament tasked with representing American colonists. Thus, I find the use of jury nullification to ignore those laws legitimate.

Another example, not the result of corruption, would be archaic laws still on the books which exist because no one has bothered to look at them in a hundred years, and it is reasonable to believe they would be repealed if the legislature bothered to revisit them today. I'd find jury nullification acceptable in those situations.

I would not find it ethical, as a juror, to nullify a law based solely on my personal belief that the law was unjust.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:00 AM on December 6, 2007


To those would-be Hillary, Obama, and Edward voters concerned about the about the influence of corporations: check out your favorite candidate's money sources. Ron Paul takes none from corporations.

Corporations give to everyone who they think has a chance of winning. Contemplate with me, just for a few moments, why they wouldn't be giving Ron Paul any money. Om mani pade unelectable-in-every-sense hum...

True, it would allow other states to do the opposite, but the protections offered to progressive states seem quite valuable to me.

So it's okay to have less civil liberties in some places so that there can be more in others? Well, hell, let's have slavery in Georgia so we can create Civil Liberties Utopia in Maine!

The other side of the discussion is that the rights of states to differ in their policies on marriage, abortion, etc. has been denied by federal judges.

I'm not clear on how a libertarian defends some kind of "right" for the states to deny marriage or abortion to anyone, but Ron Paul's a pretty good example of how many libertarians are really just conservative assholes in libertarian clothing.

The conservative hyperbole about 'activist judges' and 'legislating from the bench' is much more warranted.

hahahaha, are people really still pushing that talking point?

Just because something is legal does not make it ethical.

So refusing to convict under an unjust law is less ethical than convicting under an unjust law? How does that work, precisely?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:02 AM on December 6, 2007


So refusing to convict under an unjust law is less ethical than convicting under an unjust law?

If you have a way for me to accurately distinguish between "a law which I personally believe to be unjust" and "a law which actually is unjust," taking into account the fact that I do not have papal infallibility, I am willing to listen.

Until then, I must include the fact that my judgment is sometimes incorrect--and the possibility that an elected, deliberative body is wiser than I--in my moral calculus.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:12 AM on December 6, 2007


Until then, I must include the fact that my judgment is sometimes incorrect--and the possibility that an elected, deliberative body is wiser than I--in my moral calculus.

You're going to assume that government is both concerned about morals and smarter than you? Been paying attention lately?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:16 AM on December 6, 2007


Until then, I must include the fact that my judgment is sometimes incorrect--and the possibility that an elected, deliberative body is wiser than I--in my moral calculus.

Morality is democratic?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:17 AM on December 6, 2007


Really, though, I'm laughing my ass off at the idea that a law could have moral force- not the consequences of the law, but the actual fact that a particular has passed. That notion is uproariously hilarious.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:18 AM on December 6, 2007


You're going to assume that government is both concerned about morals and smarter than you?

If they are not, then there are far deeper, more fundamental problems with democracy than can be fixed by mere jury nullification. Probably so deep and fundamental that they cannot be fixed within the framework of democracy, since democracy assumes that voters will, for the most part, elect people who are moral and intelligent. If they cannot or will not, democracy cannot work; we might as well scrap the whole thing and give Plato's philosopher-kings a try.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:21 AM on December 6, 2007


Probably so deep and fundamental that they cannot be fixed within the framework of democracy, since democracy assumes that voters will, for the most part, elect people who are moral and intelligent.

That's not what democracy assumes at all. Democracy is about self-determination- if everyone votes for what/who they like best, the results will be the most likely to match up with those of the electorate.

The idea that our elected officials are ideally the most moral and intelligent, the "best and the brightest", is where you get shitbags like our current president- all "character", shit on the issues.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:28 AM on December 6, 2007


Really, though, I'm laughing my ass off at the idea that a law could have moral force- not the consequences of the law, but the actual fact that a particular has passed.

It's not that the passage of the law causes the law to be just; it's that the passage of the law is indicative that many many other people believe the law to be just, and I am willing to take the opinions of those other people into account.

Morality is democratic?

No, but morality is not purely individual either. That a large number of people believe a law to be just is not proof that the law is just; you and I could both come up with any number of counter-examples to that. That a large number of people believe a law to be just is, however, evidence in favor of the law being just.

If you are so certain of your own judgment that you believe you are always correct, no matter how many other people disagree with you, more power to you--nullify away. Problem is, there's many many people who believe themselves equally infallible, who as jurors would nullify laws that I happen to think just.

On preview: if everyone votes for what/who they like best, the results will be the most likely to match up with those of the electorate.

Wait, I thought you were arguing in favor of jury nullification of "unjust" laws.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:33 AM on December 6, 2007


It's not that the passage of the law causes the law to be just; it's that the passage of the law is indicative that many many other people believe the law to be just, and I am willing to take the opinions of those other people into account.

Why?

Wait, I thought you were arguing in favor of jury nullification of "unjust" laws.

I am.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:35 AM on December 6, 2007


It's not that the passage of the law causes the law to be just; it's that the passage of the law is indicative that many many other people believe the law to be just, and I am willing to take the opinions of those other people into account.

Or the passage of the law could indicate that Disney owns a senator and they want the copyright extended, or it could be a revenue measure like speeding laws, etc., etc..

I think contemplating the just or unjust basis of a law is rather low on the list these days.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:40 AM on December 6, 2007


I'm not clear on how a libertarian defends some kind of "right" for the states to deny marriage or abortion to anyone, but Ron Paul's a pretty good example of how many libertarians are really just conservative assholes in libertarian clothing.

You've been a presence in these threads long enough to where you should really know the answer. First and foremost, Ron Paul is a constitutionalist. On some issues he holds the same position as the libertarians but that's irrelevant here. This legislation is about trying to prevent the federal judiciary from imposing itself on the states. In other words, yes, people really are still pushing 'that' point.

-----

DevilsAdvocate,

I don't think you have a good case for criticizing jury nullification on ethical grounds. The excerpt from Ron Paul that I linked to did not say to that it was to be used to overturn any laws the jury "did not like" but to refuse to convict laws they found unjust. You might think that's just semantics, it isn't. The latter phrasing presupposes that the jury has a role in determining what is just while what "they like" makes their decision a matter of whimsy instead of duty.

If the government appoints the jury to the role of judging the law in each case, then exercising that right is only good citizenship. Given that, the only way it can be unethical, is if that role is inappropriate for a jury. Is that what you believe, that no matter what the legal role of the jury has been determined to be, the only ethical action is for them to make decisions on evidence?

I suppose that would be in line with this:

Then there are a large number (the exact number may vary with the particular legislature, but almost certainly more than twelve) of elected legislators (each of whom represents thousands of citizens) who believe that the law is not unethical; otherwise, they would not have passed it. On the other side, you have twelve randomly selected jurors who believe that the law is unethical.

Whose judgment should be controlling in this case?


and this:

I would not find it ethical, as a juror, to nullify a law based solely on my personal belief that the law was unjust.

I guess individual discretion doesn't mean too much to you. But I'm skeptical that you would hold the same position in respect to the laws of countries that were far more brutal than our own.

Also, when you say this:

Laws which the British Parliament applied to the American colonies probably were not, strictly speaking, the result of corruption, as members of Parliament may well have been accurately representing their constituencies in passing such laws. It's just that there wasn't anyone in parliament tasked with representing American colonists. Thus, I find the use of jury nullification to ignore those laws legitimate.

Does that mean it would have been (be) legitimate for citizens living in U.S. Territories to use jury nullification?
posted by BigSky at 10:43 AM on December 6, 2007


Why?

Because, as I stated before, I recognize that I am not infallible. More importantly, other potential jurors are not infallible. The legislature isn't infallible, either, but I believe a deliberative body of a hundred or more duly elected officials are more likely to "get it right" than twelve randomly chosen people off the street. As you yourself note, when democracy works like it's supposed to, laws passed by the legislature are very likely to match up with what the people actually want--surely more so than what twelve random people think the law should be. Which is why your argument that the legislature usually gets it right confuses me, as that would seem to me to be an argument against nullification of laws perceived "unjust" by a jury.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:44 AM on December 6, 2007


So it's okay to have less civil liberties in some places so that there can be more in others? Well, hell, let's have slavery in Georgia so we can create Civil Liberties Utopia in Maine!

If Georgia chooses to have slavery, there are likely to be a lot of consequences for it.

It's likely that other states and countries would halt trade with Georgia, and thus their decision to revert to slavery would be met with immediate economic destruction.

But that was a nice straw man argument.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:56 AM on December 6, 2007


The excerpt from Ron Paul that I linked to did not say to that it was to be used to overturn any laws the jury "did not like" but to refuse to convict laws they found unjust. You might think that's just semantics, it isn't.

Fair enough; I was probably too flip in reducing "whether a juror finds a law unjust" to "whether a juror doesn't like that law." I don't believe that alters my larger point, however.

If the government appoints the jury to the role of judging the law in each case, then exercising that right is only good citizenship.

I am fine with juries "judging the law," where "judging the law" means interpreting provisions of the law which are unclear as written. Though this has traditionally been the province of judges, I have no problem with juries doing this directly. I do object to juries "judging the law" when that means "overturning the plain language of the law."

I guess individual discretion doesn't mean too much to you.

No, that's not accurate. Because the judgment of legislative bodies is a result of the combination of many persons' individual discretion. It would be more accurate to say I believe in the "wisdom of the crowds," as it were, when it comes to discretion; I am reluctant to put any one person's discretion, even my own, above the combined discretion of a large number of people; I am also reluctant to put the combined discretion of twelve more-or-less random people above that of a much larger body specifically chosen for their ability to decide such matters.

But I'm skeptical that you would hold the same position in respect to the laws of countries that were far more brutal than our own.

I've already stated that I find jury nullification acceptable to nullify laws that do not represent the will of the people. I invite you to provide an example of a country far more brutal than our own, which is yet democratic (in the sense of all, or nearly all, adults being allowed to vote in free and regular elections for their leaders).

Does that mean it would have been (be) legitimate for citizens living in U.S. Territories to use jury nullification?

If the law in question does not represent the will of those citizens, yes.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:02 AM on December 6, 2007


First and foremost, Ron Paul is a constitutionalist. On some issues he holds the same position as the libertarians but that's irrelevant here. This legislation is about trying to prevent the federal judiciary from imposing itself on the states. In other words, yes, people really are still pushing 'that' point.

You're praising him for holding a piece of paper above the rights and wellbeing of actual human beings. Goodness, I'm surprised.

Which is why your argument that the legislature usually gets it right confuses me, as that would seem to me to be an argument against nullification of laws perceived "unjust" by a jury.

I think you're conflating morality and public consensus. I don't give even a fraction of a damn for the consensus or democracy- only what's right. If democracy produces righteousness- and I believe that it's the system most capable of that- then that's fine. It won't always, though, and when it fails to do so I believe that I and all citizens have a responsibility to work for the good in spite of that.

If Georgia chooses to have slavery, there are likely to be a lot of consequences for it.

It's likely that other states and countries would halt trade with Georgia, and thus their decision to revert to slavery would be met with immediate economic destruction.


You know why I hate Libertarians? Because their response to "Your ideas would happily condone slavery" is always "Well, slavery wouldn't be beneficial for slavers!" and not "Slavery is wrong."

If the law in question does not represent the will of those citizens, yes.

If the law doesn't reflect my will, though, I'm TSOL, right?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:14 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


It won't always, though, and when it fails to do so I believe that I and all citizens have a responsibility to work for the good in spite of that.

Oh, I'd agree with you there. It seems we both believe that the legislature mostly gets it right, and sometimes gets it wrong. The difference seems to be that I don't trust a jury not to screw up what the legislature got right more than they would correct what the legislature got wrong.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:19 AM on December 6, 2007


Ron Paul? I haven’t heard anything about him. Is there some literature I can have? Can you direct me to a web site?

Yeah, those botnets are creepy man.
Raises the question for me - if machines did take over - would we know? I mean you’d only need subtle differences to manipulate the world your way. Perhaps I’ve been reading too much Vinge. Still, just slight below human threshold variances in output compared to what we put in. At some point we distance ourselves so much from the final action there isn’t enough feedback to really say you’re in control. And indeed, one can say the same about a human in control of such apparatus. Consider if Skynet was being run by a small group of humans, or a corporation or something. Why wouldn’t they eradicate huge swaths of humanity once they had robot slaves (with the power sources they had)? Similarly, most people don’t want spam - yet there it is. So what, then, is the difference?
...or perhaps I’ve been reading too much P.K. Dick.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:24 AM on December 6, 2007


We're all going to feel really silly when the Machines take over and it turns out that Ron Paul was the only man who could stop them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:26 AM on December 6, 2007


If the law doesn't reflect my will, though, I'm TSOL, right?

I'm not sure I follow you here. I'm saying that if there's a particular law imposed on a U.S. territory by Congress, which does not represent the will of the people of that territory, juries are justified in nullifying that law since citizens of that territory had no say in the law.

By "the law" do you mean the one particular unjust law under consideration? If so, I don't see why you'd be TSOL.

Or do you mean "the law" as a whole, meaning some despotic regime where you have no rights whatsoever? Sure, you're TSOL, there, but that's hardly the situation in modern U.S. territories, and in any case that's not the sort of thing that jury nullification would help with.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:27 AM on December 6, 2007


What the fuck happened to this thread since I left? Good Lord.
posted by absalom at 11:33 AM on December 6, 2007


I am fine with juries "judging the law," where "judging the law" means interpreting provisions of the law which are unclear as written. Though this has traditionally been the province of judges, I have no problem with juries doing this directly. I do object to juries "judging the law" when that means "overturning the plain language of the law."

I get that. What I'm showing though, is that in the tradition of the common law, one of the roles of the jury has been to act as a check and balance to the legislature by having the right to "overturn the plain language".

"Harlan F. Stone, the 12th Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, stated in 1941: "The law itself is on trial quite as much as the cause which is to be decided.""

source

So how can it be unethical for juries to do so unless they never should have had that right to begin with?

-----

You know why I hate Libertarians? Because their response to "Your ideas would happily condone slavery" is always "Well, slavery wouldn't be beneficial for slavers!" and not "Slavery is wrong."

Except the ideas don't condone slavery. And most people need to hear more about the importance of economic incentives.

-----

Smedleyman,

I'd like to help you out. Would a rap video help? How about one starring a slice of pizza?

Let me know if you have any questions.
posted by BigSky at 11:37 AM on December 6, 2007


It sounds like what you're saying, DevilsAdvocate, is that jury nullification as a protest against a perceived injustice in law is only valid when you didn't have a say in the passage of the law in question. Is that accurate?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:37 AM on December 6, 2007


absalom run now, this thread will only make you dumber.
posted by chunking express at 11:43 AM on December 6, 2007


Except the ideas don't condone slavery.

Libertarian ideas absolutely condone slavery, so long as it's "freely" entered into (as if any exchange or contract under capitalism is "voluntary"). That's not the point, though. The point was that the idea that sacrificing civil rights in one area to gain more civil rights in another is despicable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:44 AM on December 6, 2007


What I'm showing though, is that in the tradition of the common law, one of the roles of the jury has been to act as a check and balance to the legislature by having the right to "overturn the plain language".

I'm not sure you have shown that. Most of the quotes on the page you linked seem only to argue that juries may judge the law in the sense of interpreting it, not judge it in the sense of overturning it, or at the very least are unclear as to which they mean. The page doesn't provide any more context, nor a citation, for the Stone quote beyond what you provided, so I can't evaluate whether Stone is talking only about juries interpreting the law, or about them overturning it.

So how can it be unethical for juries to do so unless they never should have had that right to begin with?

I'm not saying juries shouldn't have the right of nullification. I'm saying juries shouldn't exercise that right based solely on a belief that the law in question is unjust. Any attempt I could imagine to prohibit juries from nullifying laws they perceive to be unjust could easily be twisted to also prohibit legitimate uses of nullification, and thus I am not advocating any legislative change to the principle of jury nullification; I only seek to persuade potential jurors not to nullify laws solely on account of the law itself being unjust.

The fact that a right exists does not always mean it is ethical to exercise that right.

It sounds like what you're saying, DevilsAdvocate, is that jury nullification as a protest against a perceived injustice in law is only valid when you didn't have a say in the passage of the law in question. Is that accurate?

I'd say that when you didn't have a say in the passage of the law in question is one of the possible circumstances in which jury nullification is valid. I wouldn't say it's the only possible situation; the "extraordinary circumstances" example I gave above is another.

----

Oops, I missed TheOnlyCoolTim's comment several exchanges back:

Or the passage of the law could indicate that Disney owns a senator and they want the copyright extended, or it could be a revenue measure like speeding laws, etc.,

For the first example, I'd already stated that nullifying laws passed as a result of corruption is legitimate. For the second, why would using speeding tickets as a means of raising revenue be unjust, compared to any other means of raising revenue? (In the context of jury nullification, keep in mind that many libertarians, who are often vocally in support of jury nullification, believe income tax to be an unjust means of raising revenue.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:04 PM on December 6, 2007


Great article. Horrible trainwreck thread.

This is a pretty cool bit of technology in this botnet:

The front-end also plays a part in the efficiency, by allowing the spammer to check the message's SpamAssassin score before hitting send, simplifying the process of filter evasion and ensuring maximum delivery for the message.

That's pretty clever, and it's worth reading the article if only to see the screenshots of the spamming tool. Also:

The list of email addresses assigned to the RonP_3 task is simply titled “good”. In the backend Reactor files, this file is 3.4 gigabytes in size, and contains 162,211,647 email addresses.


Unless I missed it, the article didn't take a stab at how much a spam job of this size would typically cost. I think that would be pretty useful in trying to figure out who actually caused it to be sent. Anyone? They say it hit "millions" or recipients. I don't think that would cost much at all, if you knew who to go to.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 12:34 PM on December 6, 2007


MetaTalk, FYI.
posted by brain_drain at 1:02 PM on December 6, 2007


I had the same question, TPAA.

Underneath this thread is a much more interesting topic that hopefully will be returned to in another FPP, one devoid of any mention of teh fascinating "Dr.Paul"
posted by From Bklyn at 1:03 PM on December 6, 2007


Wasn't this topic about penises and Andrew Jackson at some point?
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:23 PM on December 6, 2007


Andrew Jackson was involved in one of the earliest, and most notorious, US Postal Service penis-enlargment scams, yes.
posted by cortex at 2:25 PM on December 6, 2007 [4 favorites]


So, I think the current executive leadership should be convicted of treason, I'm not thrilled with any of the opposition candidates. However, I will happily vote for the latter to keep the allies of the former from staying in power.

Should I support Ron Paul?
posted by oddman at 2:27 PM on December 6, 2007


I wonder whether we'll ever see the decline of things like botnets. They arise from idealistic architecture and sloppy programming, two things unlikely to ever go away.
posted by maxwelton at 2:32 PM on December 6, 2007


chunking: If you think it is possible for me to get any dumber, you clearly have not been keeping up with my recent activity 'round here.
posted by absalom at 2:35 PM on December 6, 2007


It's amazing how they were able to track down the spam to a specific supplier. I'd love to know who paid for the massive effort. Thanks for an interesting FPP.
posted by misha at 3:06 PM on December 6, 2007


He represents someone who stands for principles and ideas, rather than moneyed interests.

A libertarian stands for rapacious free market capitalism with almost no restrictions. He stands most definitely for moneyed interests.

You can bet the social services budget would plummet to almost nothing under your white knight.

A southern baptist, Paul advocates the overturning of Roe v. Wade and believes life begins at conception. "The right of an innocent, unborn child to life is at the heart of the American ideals of liberty."

Paul is for privatization of Social Security.

Paul opposes federal regulation of the environment.

He would be the worst possible President we could have.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:20 PM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


“Andrew Jackson was involved in one of the earliest, and most notorious, US Postal Service penis-enlargment scams, yes.”

‘What d'ye lack STOP What d'ye lack STOP Take heed I am no boy now STOP I lack naught now that I have found it STOP Sirrah haven’ye considered the pecuniary advantages in embiggening your organ STOP Tis a triumph of health and physick STOP Old Hickory smiles constantly STOP He is beseiged by ladies who wish to sit upon his lap STOP Dr. Stanley’s patented snake oil linement creates stiffness where there is flaccidity STOP If you take our meaning Sirrah STOP
posted by Smedleyman at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2007 [6 favorites]


Ironmouth: Paul opposes federal regulation of the environment.

Having read that, I have moved Ron Paul from 'worse than a Democrat, but better than any other Republican' to slightly above 'third term of Bush.' Seriously, shitting all over the environment, which corporations will do the very SECOND they are allowed to, would damage our quality of life more than anything short of WWIII.

The idea that defending private property rights is a sensible way to defend the environment is so mind-bogglingly stupid that I can't even comprehend the depths of it. Seriously, the idea that the environment cares about the arbitrary land ownership is just about as stupid as thinking you could vote up a law that would make things fall upwards.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:56 PM on December 6, 2007


That's the thing Mitrovarr, being a libertarian is a whole other kind of stupid: they've taken it to the next level.
posted by chunking express at 7:29 PM on December 6, 2007


SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP
posted by Nelson at 8:13 PM on December 6, 2007


He would be the worst possible President we could have.

If you mean that it would be the best thing to happen in this country since Barry Goldwater wrote "The Conscience of a Conservative", then I agree.

It's astounding that a candidate who wants to immediately bring the troops back from Iraq, deal diplomatically with Iran, stop torturing prisoners, end government wiretapping, respect citizens' privacy, balance the budget, restore habeas corpus, and reduce the federal drug war, would be called the worst possible President. What other candidate comes close on these issues? Sure, there are positions on issues that some will find unpalatable, e.g. abortion, illegal immigration, cutting social services, but still, the worst possibility? What the fuck?

I'm not sure what you're trying to convey by "Ron Paul is for privatization of Social Security". He does think taxes should be cut giving younger workers the opportunity to prepare for retirement through private investment, but that leaves a lot unsaid.

As for the elderly:

"In fact, the Social Security “trust fund” is not a trust fund at all. The dollars taken out of your paycheck are not deposited into an account to be paid to you later. On the contrary, they are spent immediately to pay current benefits, and to fund completely unrelated federal programs. Your Social Security administration “account” is nothing more than an IOU, a hopeful promise that enough younger taxpayers will be around to pay your benefits later. Decades of spendthrift congresses have turned the Social Security system into a giant Ponzi scheme, always dependent on new generations."

source

and:

"Our nation’s promise to its seniors, once considered a sacred trust, has become little more than a tool for politicians to scare retirees while robbing them of their promised benefits. Today, the Social Security system is broke and broken.

... Solvency is the key to keeping our promise to our seniors, and I have introduced the Social Security Preservation Act (H.R. 219) to ensure that money paid into the system is only used for Social Security."

the above is from Ironmouth's link

Privatization:

"We’ve all heard proposals for “privatizing” the Social Security system. The best private solution, of course, is simply to allow the American people to keep more of their paychecks and invest for retirement as they see fit. But putting Social Security funds into government-approved investments could have dangerous consequences. Private companies would become a partner of sorts with the government. Individuals still would not truly own their invested Social Security funds. Payroll taxes likely would be raised to cover payments to current beneficiaries, as the President alluded to when warning us that fixing Social Security would be “costly.”

Furthermore, who would decide what stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other investment vehicles deserve government approval? Which politicians would you trust to build an investment portfolio with billions of your Social Security dollars? The federal government has proven itself incapable of good money management, and permitting politicians and bureaucrats to make investment decisions would result in unscrupulous lobbying for venture capital. Large campaign contributors and private interests of every conceivable type would seek to have their favored investments approved by the government."

source

-----

The idea that defending private property rights is a sensible way to defend the environment is so mind-bogglingly stupid that I can't even comprehend the depths of it. Seriously, the idea that the environment cares about the arbitrary land ownership is just about as stupid as thinking you could vote up a law that would make things fall upwards.


Some would say thinking that "private property rights defend the environment" means that "the environment cares about the arbitrary land ownership", is not very smart, but let's leave that be.

When someone pollutes property that shares a border with yours, their actions cause damage to that property. What Dr. Paul is talking about is holding the polluter liable for that damage. Every neighbor of a potential polluter is going to be far more vigilant about the value of their property than a bureaucracy could ever be. That's what will stop corporations from shitting all over the environment. Increasing private property rights is key to increasing environmental protection.

"When all forms of physical trespass, be that smoke, particulate matter, etc., are legally recognized for what they are -- a physical trespass upon the property and rights of another -- concerns about difficulty in suing the offending party will be largely diminished. When any such cases are known to be slam-dunk wins for the person whose property is being polluted, those doing the polluting will no longer persist in doing so. Against a backdrop of property rights actually enforced, contingency and class-action cases are additional legal mechanisms that resolve this concern."

source [This is an interview focused on Dr. Paul's positions on the environment and energy]

Notice this covers the concern that in a less regulated state, industry will move towards cheaper solutions that cause substantial damage. Not so. The costs of pollution are not externalized, so the decision over which is cheaper includes the environmental consequences.
posted by BigSky at 8:19 PM on December 6, 2007


"The best private solution, of course, is simply to allow the American people to keep more of their paychecks and invest for retirement as they see fit."
Sure because the unceasingly materialistic American will take that extra $40 a week and invest it for the future. Right! He won't just get himself a 360, a PS3, and a Wii. Sure.


"Every neighbor of a potential polluter is going to be far more vigilant about the value of their property than a bureaucracy could ever be."
Well, of course this will work. In America corporations aren't known for their abusive legal practices. In America a corporation can't afford to make a lawsuit drag-on for so long that their opponent goes bankrupt. Right. Sure. The American legal system makes it easy for the little guy to sue the pants off big corporations and win in a timely manner.

"concerns about difficulty in suing the offending party will be largely diminished. When any such cases are known to be slam-dunk wins for the person whose property is being polluted,"
Uh huh, and corporations will, for some reason, decide not to spend millions lobbying congress to complicate or eliminate the laws that lead to "slam dunk" wins. Right. Sure, it's so obvious.
posted by oddman at 8:44 PM on December 6, 2007


But where does Ron Paul stand on issues that concern me, like Social Security or the environment?
*missing ‘this is relevant to my interests’ image tag*
posted by Smedleyman at 8:49 PM on December 6, 2007


But where does Ron Paul stand on issues that concern me, like Social Security or the environment?

Against.
posted by spiderwire at 9:30 PM on December 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


Sure because the unceasingly materialistic American will take that extra $40 a week and invest it for the future. Right! He won't just get himself a 360, a PS3, and a Wii. Sure.

At the very least, the economic incentives for doing so will have increased. And that's a lot better than tilting the balance the other way.

Uh huh, and corporations will, for some reason, decide not to spend millions lobbying congress to complicate or eliminate the laws that lead to "slam dunk" wins. Right. Sure, it's so obvious.

Again, the economic incentives matter. When that's one of the main tools the citizens have to protect their interests, they are going to pay attention. People pay a lot of attention right now to legislation concerning private property. If it becomes easier to collect damages against a polluter then they have a strong incentive to monitor the legal conditions concerning a judgment.

And besides what are the options? To continue with the EPA? They rank the federal government as one of the worst polluters. However, the EPA can't fine the federal government. There would likely be limits established on what one could claim from the feds, but if tort law was the main avenue of redress it would increase the pressure on the federal government to reduce pollution on their property. Can the EPA do anything better? Remember the cost of running the agency, not to mention having yet another invasive bureaucracy. Additional regulatory paperwork is just what the American small businessman needs more of.
posted by BigSky at 10:20 PM on December 6, 2007


Dr. Paul has a lot of really good ideas.

/that line was missing from this Ron Paul thread.
posted by zardoz at 10:58 PM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


However, the EPA can't fine the federal government. There would likely be limits established on what one could claim from the feds, but if tort law was the main avenue of redress it would increase the pressure on the federal government to reduce pollution on their property. Can the EPA do anything better?

The EPA actually does regulate the Federal Government -- they monitor all the other agencies throughout the year, requiring environmental impact statements and such; IIRC they're backed up by the OMB and OIRA; so while they might not be subject to a fine per se there are methods of internal discipline. And while the individual government workers might not be liable under a direct-liability theory, the Federal Tort Claims Act is designed for specifically this purpose -- to allow redress against the government for who were wronged. Are you just asking if the EPA is in a position to put those mechanisms into action? They are and they do.
posted by spiderwire at 12:15 AM on December 7, 2007


Look, lovers of Doctor Ron Paul this is the thing: Remember (maybe you don't - nothing wrong with being young) communism?

It was a really really popular idea about eighty years ago, much more popular than Libertarianism is today, it was popular on a level with - uh - the iPod or maybe even The Internet. Communism (talking in gross terms here) was whipped up by a guy twenty-odd years earlier, who had way too much time on his hands and access to a big library in London. He wrote a book about it that sold pretty well.

Then, insanely enough, this one really really big country took these ideas and gave them a spin, applying them to the construction and administration of their government. There were a lot of admirable and appealing, compelling even, ideas at the root of communism and at the outset a lot of people were like, "Yeah, Russian! GO FOR IT!"

I mean, on paper, communism was le very sexy. Unfortunately, it was really only sexy on paper. Out in the real world, where people are fucked up and crazy and do shit contrary to what they say they will, it was a total disaster.

So, if you can divorce yourself from your (maybe)abject love for these ideas for a minute, consider Communism as an object lesson when ruminating on the feasibility and real-world applicability of this panacea-like Libertarianism.

Please.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:45 AM on December 7, 2007


Ron Paul's pretty awesome. It seems pretty nuts that a guy who's platform is a strict read of the Constitution is considered a fringe candidate.

The article at the top of this thread is also crazy awesome. It was really fascinating to glimpse how a botnet functions - to see inside the churning engine of spam. I guess I knew it in the abstract, but I never really stopped and thought about how someone's got a login and a password for a deck of spam cannons, like they're logging into blogspot or something.

Imagine, managing your banks of penis-pill mails, awaiting mass dispersal. Editing new bit of spam, a racy piece about how slutty, imaginative and lacking in self-esteem a nineteen-year-old named Virginia happens to be -- getting it just right ..

Just seems like it'd be a lifestyle full of surreal moments.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:46 AM on December 7, 2007


1) The vast majority of people do not base their decisions on rational considerations of incentives. Increasing the incentive to save for retirement might affect a very small number of people. But, for the majority the lack of social security plus extra discretionary income will generate a large group of people who cannot support themselves in their old age except via yard sales of all of the extra crap that they were able to buy.


2) I didn't say people wouldn't have greater incentives to protect their environemtn under Paul's scheme. I merely pointed out that the bullying power and unfair advantage that corporations hold in their ability to influence government would make the proposed system anathema to the typical property owner.

My preference would be to strengthen the EPA. You seem to imply that the options available are Paul's reforms and the status quo. That is not the case.
posted by oddman at 5:58 AM on December 7, 2007


1) The vast majority of people do not base their decisions on rational considerations of incentives. Increasing the incentive to save for retirement might affect a very small number of people. But, for the majority the lack of social security plus extra discretionary income will generate a large group of people who cannot support themselves in their old age except via yard sales of all of the extra crap that they were able to buy.

Incentives are the only practical means we have for shaping society. I'm not arguing that all of our decisions are made after a rational consideration of all the appropriate factors. Obviously, that's not the case. Incentives may be a crude tool, but there is no other.

2) I didn't say people wouldn't have greater incentives to protect their environemtn under Paul's scheme. I merely pointed out that the bullying power and unfair advantage that corporations hold in their ability to influence government would make the proposed system anathema to the typical property owner.

My preference would be to strengthen the EPA. You seem to imply that the options available are Paul's reforms and the status quo. That is not the case.


It's not just that property owners have an incentive to preserve and protect the conditions of their property (soil, air, water), but that strengthening private property rights creates a further incentive for property owners to maintain the legal conditions that allow them to protect their land. This is in response to your claim that corporations would "spend millions lobbying congress to complicate or eliminate the laws that lead to "slam dunk" wins".
posted by BigSky at 7:26 AM on December 7, 2007


Why do

Ron Paul supporters

always write such long

comments

with

so many carriage returns

which discourages

me from caring?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:57 AM on December 7, 2007


There must be some sort of economic incentive against brevity that you're missing out on.
posted by chunking express at 8:29 AM on December 7, 2007


Incentives are the only practical means we have for shaping society.

That's a fascinating point. On the other hand, all of recorded history.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:30 AM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's likely that other states and countries would halt trade with Georgia, and thus their decision to revert to slavery would be met with immediate economic destruction.

Mmm, I see your point. Because no countries today willingly import things that are made more cheaply in another country by workers operating in sub-standard or forced labor conditions. Except, well, all of them.
posted by chundo at 12:19 PM on December 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ron Paul has got a fucking blimp and an army of zombie bots! Now all he needs is a self-referential Chuck Norris and a Facebook page.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:58 PM on December 7, 2007


That's a fascinating point. On the other hand, all of recorded history.

It took me a while to figure out what this meant. Are you suggesting that human motivations can be directed by something else? Could you share your revolutionary understanding of human nature with the rest of us? B.F. Skinner and Adam Smith, among others, must have been mistaken. I certainly don't think there's anything more to it than incentives, and I'm curious to see how all of recorded history is in opposition.

Mmm, I see your point. Because no countries today willingly import things that are made more cheaply in another country by workers operating in sub-standard or forced labor conditions. Except, well, all of them.

That's an excellent example of taking a point out of context to make you look like you have the superior argument. Tacos Are Pretty Great said that in the context of why a state in this nation would not go back to slavery. Georgia would not do so because in this day and time it would be against its own economic interest. However the whole discussion is completely ridiculous because every citizen has federal civil rights that prohibit slavery. Good job on making yourself look clever though.

Let's be clear, no one would lose civil rights by returning the state's Constitutionally appointed rights to them. Marriage is not a civil right, neither is abortion. You won't find either one mentioned in the Constitution. Prohibiting federal judges from hearing these cases is a way to stop activism from the bench. This little bit of silliness came from a marvelous example of Pope Guilty's sophistry, "So it's okay to have less civil liberties in some places so that there can be more in others?". There will be no change in civil liberties anywhere. Period. None. What will happen, is that different regions, with different values, will have laws reflecting those values. Some areas of the law that would differ by state are abortion, marriage and drugs.
posted by BigSky at 4:11 PM on December 8, 2007


What will happen, is that different regions, with different values, will have laws reflecting those values. Some areas of the law that would differ by state are abortion, marriage and drugs.

Which is what will lead to much faster change in the USA. The successful States will be those with liberal abortion, marriage, and soft drug laws. Statistic after statistic indicates that liberal social values attract the most intelligent, productive people; quality of education will be much higher; quality of health services will be higher; etcetera. Those States that choose to take the social conservative path will become poor, poorly educated, lower-income, more violent, etcetera.

The disparity will drive most of the clueful part of their populations from bass ackwards States to the more progressive ones. At some point the American Taliban will have to recognize the need to modernize their social mores, or face a life of impoverished misery.

Or so I hope it'd play out.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:04 AM on December 9, 2007


Which is what will lead to much faster change in the USA. The successful States will be those with liberal abortion, marriage, and soft drug laws. Statistic after statistic indicates that liberal social values attract the most intelligent, productive people; quality of education will be much higher; quality of health services will be higher; etcetera. Those States that choose to take the social conservative path will become poor, poorly educated, lower-income, more violent, etcetera.

The disparity will drive most of the clueful part of their populations from bass ackwards States to the more progressive ones. At some point the American Taliban will have to recognize the need to modernize their social mores, or face a life of impoverished misery.


I completely agree.
posted by BigSky at 1:16 PM on December 9, 2007


Except that a lot of that disparity already exists, and under our "perfect" constitution, no matter how many people leave the bass ackwards states in favor of the more progressive ones, all states still have the same number of votes in the U.S. Senate, which is considered the "more deliberative" house of Congress. "States rights" is the same kind of ludicrous "let's give rights to something other than people" thinking that gave us the Corporation as the Artficial Person. IMO, there are only two levels of government that have true legitimacy, the Local (and all really large cities violate that) and the Universal (but since the United Nations is an assembly of Rulers and not of People, the Federal Government of the United States is where I am forced to invest my last withering hope). Replacing the Senate with one of the far more democratic forms of legislative house that have been created since the writing of the U.S. Constitution would do us a world of good, but under such a system, the chances of Ron Paul being elected President would drop from one-in-a-million to zero.
posted by wendell at 4:07 PM on December 9, 2007


Tacos Are Pretty Great said that in the context of why a state in this nation would not go back to slavery. Georgia would not do so because in this day and time it would be against its own economic interest. However the whole discussion is completely ridiculous because every citizen has federal civil rights that prohibit slavery.

Tacos' point was that if Georgia reverted to slavery, it would be economically destroyed by market forces. That's the point I find ridiculous - in a just world, they would be economically destroyed. But people and corporations have shown time and again throughout history that they're more than willing to turn a blind eye to faraway injustice if it brings them profit.

Obviously this situation will not take place today - and neither of us is claiming it will - but as long as we're arguing hypotheticals for the sake of discussing whether or not market forces are sufficient to correct gross injustice, your only rebuttal (that it couldn't happen today because of civil rights) is not really relevant.
posted by chundo at 11:31 AM on December 10, 2007


but as long as we're arguing hypotheticals for the sake of discussing whether or not market forces are sufficient to correct gross injustice

I'm not sure that anyone would claim the market alone will correct injustice. Over the course of many generations it may become apparent to some that a rigid hierarchy entails significant cost but they might just as well prefer to have a privileged position with a lower level of group wealth than an egalitarian society that produces more. Personally, I doubt there would be any change until there was some sort of shift in worldview that acknowledges the worth of others outside of any economic consideration of benefit. I do think that capitalism will tend to favor democracy which to some degree presupposes an egalitarian social system, but I don't think those are necessary connections.

Your phrase, "faraway injustice" is crucial. Ignoring legal considerations, it couldn't happen in Georgia because U.S. citizens identify with the larger nation and would be very conscious of the economic effects of their decisions. The beliefs of the surrounding world and the freedom they have to act on them are very relevant. If a slave owning Georgia wanted to do trade it would have to provide enough value to overcome the ugliness inherent in doing business. That's a pretty significant handicap.

Individual actors will do whatever they can get away with. Society needs some regulation. Monopolies must be prevented and there has to be prosecution of fraud. When there's no oversight at all you're going to have individual actors who will coerce and exploit others. I've always thought that was a given.
posted by BigSky at 2:01 PM on December 10, 2007


Ron Paul excluded from FOX News debate in NH Primary
posted by homunculus at 10:11 AM on December 30, 2007


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