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Georgia Primary Elections

The Georgia Primary Elections are coming up on May 20th. Make sure that you register to vote

Edward Snowden Vs The NSA: Ted Talks

Please watch both of these videos and comment on what you think of the sides that Edward Snowden and the NSA took.

Edward Snowden: Here’s how we take back the Internet

Richard Ledgett: The NSA responds to Edward Snowden’s TED Talk

The Shutdown is NOT Working for Republicans.

For Republicans in Congress I have this little tidbit to offer. Give it up, it’s not working.
The idea of shutting down the government to protect your principles seems like a nice idea, but it’s not working out for you. For a start, it actually goes against your principles, in that it’s harming the economy you profess to be protecting, but that’s neither here nor there is it?

The reality in this case is fairly simple for even those with half a brain. You’ve not managed to get your way, and so you’re having a temper tantrum until you can. You’re hoping you can bamboozle enough people while this is going on, to keep your places in office come next year. Alas it’s not going to happen either, and let me tell you why.
On October 3rd, I was out and about in the town of Monticello, Ga., hunting for Ingress portals. There are two by the US Post Office there (One for the post office, and one for the historical sign just outside it). As I was checking these out, and playing my game, a nice older lady approached me and asked if I was interested in knowing more about it, since I don’t look (or sound) like a local of the town. She explained about the mural that used to be inside, and was painted over (or put in storage, reports are mixed).
The kicker was when she asked me then what my thoughts were on the government shutdown. After saying I was disappointed with the House, and the childish mentality, she went on to tell me that she was disgusted, and was on her way to change from being a registered Republican (which she had been for decades) to an Independent. When I mentioned that the shutdown could have ended the day before, if Boehner hadn’t been insistent on the ‘Hastert Rule’ (showing that he’s not Speaker of the House, he’s Speaker of the Republican Party) and that there are enough House votes, both Republican (17 at the time, 22 now) and Democrat to end this, she seemed scandalized.
That’s right GOP, your party’s actions scandalized one of your core demographics – little old white women in rural Southern towns. An area so southern and rural, that it seems to have become the stereotype, used in films from My Cousin Vinny, to Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth to Sweet Home Alabama, And The Fighting Temptations to the Cannonball Run.
This is what should not just worry the GOP, but PETRIFY them. That town helped elect Austin Scott in 2010, a tea-party GOPer; and in the redistricting became part of the 10th district under Paul Broun, another Republican known for his excess. Both ran unopposed in 2012, but don’t expect that to continue (and Broun is campaigning for the Senate seat Saxby Chambliss is vacating next year in addition)
But when you act out of petty self-interest, ostensibly in opposition to a RIGHT wing health-care plan, and seek to destroy the economy because of it, that’s when the little old ladies do what they do to their unruly grandsons; wash their mouths out with soap, give their butts a good whuppin’, and make them stand in time out until they remember their manners and their obligations.
And that’s going to be the 2014 story, despite the gerrymandering and election-rigging (be it excluding independent auditors, or through voter suppression). You have been warned.
At the same time, we’d like to point out that any Pirate elected to Congress certainly wouldn’t turn up drunk, try to berate others for their own actions, or otherwise act in a totally disgusting way. Indeed the Pirate Party would not have allowed this to happen at all. Not that you can vote for a Pirate in Georgia, because of the highly restrictive ballot access laws in this state – Anything so Republicans don’t have competition it seems.

How important is liberty to you?

First off what is Liberty?
Among other things:
a : the power to do as one pleases
b : freedom from physical restraint
c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
e : the power of choice

Patrick Henry is quoted as saying “Give me liberty, or give me death!” He very well knew how important liberty to people. In recent years our leaders has fallen victim to the idea of “safety” over freedom. Keep in mind this has not been just a recent fault, in WW2 we unjustly put countless asian americans in camps. Throughout the Cold War (with the wars within it, Vietnam for example) a number of americans were investigated and or shunned for fear that they have ideals of other countries.  

With the war on terror citizens have had their freedoms ripped away from them since 2001, the war on drugs has imprisoned and ruined the lives of countless people since 1941, not to mention it has wasted billions of dollars and has been very unsuccessful
Currently the government (and organizations such as the MPAA and RIAA pushing bills like SOPA) has been pushing to increase (not start) spying on americans with various methods (drones for example). In a lot of ways our government has gotten so comfortable with spying on citizens that they are not even making an effort to hide the fact that it happens. What’s worse about the new ways of spying is that it’s not limited to people that are suspected of crimes but instead spying on EVERYONE!
As technology advances the ability of the government to spy and reduce our freedom increases. As citizens we must each take part in ensuring that our government goes back to the mindset of liberty or death because each year we wait and the more liberties we lose the harder it will be to gain them back. Please take time to become at least a little ative in whatever political party you stand behind and always look at every bill with a sceptical mindset and say to yourself “what are the adverse effects of this bill?” and if the answer is ever losing a freedom, it’s not worth it and do whatever it takes to make sure that it is not approved!

Offline meeting

We are working on having an offline meeting somewhere in the state, if you can go please comment here or answer the question on facebook

The South Should Not Be Synonymous With Stupidity

Dear elected representatives of the “South”, at all levels,

Please, do every one of your constituents a favor and the next time you go to speak, stop and think “Am I about to say something stupid?” If the answer is anything other than “No, and I can cite you independent and peer-reviewed evidence to back my statement” then please, KEEP your mouth shut.

Barely a week goes by without some politician from the south running his mouth off, making the region, and by implication those who live here, look foolish and stupid. If you’re not doing that, you’re showing yourselves to be hugely hypocritical, corrupt, or otherwise the scum of society.
We are tired of it.

When you make absurd statements without a shred of factual proof, when you abuse your position to attack people needlessly, when you openly embrace bigotry and hatred for no reason except political expedience, when you pointlessly and repetitively undertake pointless votes on issues for appearances sake while ignoring real issues, you are no better than a primate in a zoo, flinging excrement on us.

Your pleasant and well-compensated lifestyle comes from the public purse. We pay you to represent our interests, at the local, state or Federal level. If we wanted a buffoon parroting abuse and nonsense, the job would ask for a “Jester with Tourette’s”.

If you feel incapable of leaving your personal bigotry, religious beliefs, and general nuttiness in your own home, then by all means embrace it at home, and give up the job you are incapable of doing.

We’re tired of being the butt of other people’s snide comments; the joke “those people are so dumb they elected YOU” is wearing thin. Right now, if someone thinks about the South, they’re likely to think of ignorant fools, inbreeding between guzzling moonshine, lynching people for not being ‘Godly’ enough, and caressing the one thing that’s more important than anything else – guns.

And that is all your doing.

So the choice is yours. Grow up, start being responsible to more than a few lobby groups, and do the job you claimed to be capable of doing. Or be an adult, admit you can’t do it, and quit, so someone competent CAN.

Yours,
The Pirate Party of Georgia
The Pirate Party of Florida
The Pirate Party of Oklahoma

Response from Paul Broun (GA-10) on CISPA

Today I received, from a source, a letter from Congressman Paul Broun detailing why he voted NO on CISPA last week. It was in response to a plea from that source, a constituent of his, to vote against it.

It’s also noticeable that the letter is dated a day AFTER the Senate decided it was a no-go. Coincidence? You decide.
Dear [REDACTED]
Thank you for contacting me to share your concerns about H.R. 624, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). I appreciate having the benefit of your views on this important issue, and I want you to know I share your concerns.
As you may know, CISPA was introduced by Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) and would authorize the sharing of cyber-security threat data between the private sector and the federal government. This bill was passed by the House of Representatives by a 288-127 vote on April 18, 2013 and it now awaits consideration by the Senate.
Rep Broun was actually one of the few Republicans that voted against it.
Since Congress first considered CISPA last year, I have become increasingly concerned that individual privacy was not adequately protected in this legislation; specifically, that people’s personally-identifying information may be shared with the federal government without their knowledge or consent. As a result, I fear that the measures in this legislation may infringe upon Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.
And what about all the other infringements on 4th Amendment rights, have you done anything about them? National Security letters, drones, warrantless wiretaps? Anything? No.
For these reasons, I joined with some like-minded colleagues in offering amendments to limit the ability of the federal government to use the data under CISPA and strip and shared data of identifying information. Unfortunately, these amendments were not permitted to be considered on the House floor. While I certainly agree that we must address the threat posed by cyber security attacks,
WHAT threat? The non-existent threat? The one made up? Forbes has a list of ‘the biggest cybersecurity threats of 2013’. Top of the list? Social Engineering, or as it’s more commonly known, Con-men. It’s how most ‘hacking’ has gone on for years, and CISPA would do nothing. Likewise threat 3 is ‘internal threats’ and 4 is ‘bring your own device’. Three of the top 4 are all from inside the company.
Number 2 is “long-term threats”, slowly siphoning information, 5 is ‘cloud security’ and 6 is ‘html5’. Or in other words, don’t be sloppy with what you do. Oh, and part of the reason cloud security isn’t great and is such a good attack vector, it’s the government wanting access to ‘protect’ things from things, you know, with CISPA and the like…
 It’s not until threat 7 – Botnets – and threat 8 (precision targeted malware) that you get anything CISPA might tackle. Except botnets are mainly good for DDOS and not much else and are an annoyance, while precision targeted malware will, by definition, not be easy to stop at all. Oh, and this ‘threat’ is really rare right now, but MAY ramp up, hence it’s inclusion at the bottom of the list.
In short, it’s 1 PEBKAC, 2 stupid code monkey, 3 PEBKAC, 4 PEBCAK & codemonkey, 5 codemonkey and the government, 6 codemonkey, 7 annoyance, and 8 something CISPA MAY address but is a very limited threat right now.
So, do you want to re-address how much of a ‘threat’ this stuff is? Education would do it, (and not in the ‘Earth was created in 144 hours’ way, but based on reality) and an end to accepting half-finished software. CISPA or any other direct legislative measure won’t work.
I believe we must pass legislation that includes clear definitions of what data may be shared and how that data may be used, so that Americans never have to sacrifice their privacy or liberty for the sake of security.
Er, have you missed the TSA, the USA PATRIOT Act, FISA Amendment Act (oh, you didn’t even vote on that one), and the many other acts that Congress, and your party have supported.
Here’s a better idea. Let’s have NO data shared, so that Americans don’t sacrifice their privacy or Liberty for an illusion of security.
Due to the fact that these concerns remained unaddressed in the final legislation, I could not support this CISPA’s passage. 
For additional information regarding issues affecting our great state of Georgia and the nation, please visit my website at http://broun.house.gov/. Access to my blog, iPhone app, and e-newsletter are all available through my website, as well. Thank you again for contacting me, and please do not hesitate to do so in the future if I can ever be of service.
Respectfully yours, (signed)
Paul C. Broun, M.D.Member of Congress
Yes, an iPhone app, because nothing says ‘privacy’ like Apple….
For now, it looks like the passage of CISPA is on hold, again, but we’ll see if it stays that way. Just to be sure though, Contact your Senators. And support the Pirate Party of Georgia

Tennessee’s Primary Idea Shows the Right Direction

A highly publicized bill in Tennessee has drawn a lot of comment nationwide over its attempt to eliminate primary elections for Senate seats. Instead the party caucuses State Legislature would pick the candidates. Understandably, it’s drawn the ire of people claiming it’s ‘anti-democratic’, and has, for now, been shelved.

However, it’s not the worst idea of them. Frankly, when I first got involved with politics, the primary election was one of the biggest surprises of the lot. A publicly funded election to decide who a political party would put up for election; that just doesn’t seem right I thought. These people are running a public campaign to elect them, not to office, but for the chance to run for office? That’s ridiculous.

2011/2012 highlighted this issue more than anything else. Pretty much everyone was sick and tired of the primary contest in the US for the 2012 Republican Party nomination. It started in early 2011, and went on until March/April 2012, with candidates dropping out as they ran out of money or couldn’t sustain interest. Various states were bombarded with advertising campaigns, opinion channels were falling over themselves to host ‘debates’ that were light on issues but heavy on faux-patriotism, and extremism.
Through it though two things stand out:
  1. Parties are in control of who can run much of the time
  2. In many states, primaries are closed, meaning public participation is limited to one or the other (or sometimes neither) despite paying for both).
The basic question is one of fairness to the public. You have some extremely wealthy candidates and campaigns vying for the spot to contest an election on behalf of the party. Why is the public paying for this?
Some states have a two-level system, as described in this Texas document . As you can see small parties handle things themselves, but ‘big’ parties get the benefit of having their candidate selection paid for. In fact, the candidates have to pay the party for the privilege of taking part in this publicly funded election.
Isn’t it wonderful when democracy is usurped by capitalism? Candidates paying the party to get on the primary election ballot, but the cost of that election borne by the taxpayer. Sweet deal for some, and that’s not you or me.
And often the party can then decide who can get onto that ballot, neatly demonstrated in 2008 when Stephen Colbert attempted to get on the Presidential Primary ballot in South Carolina. declining to pay the $35,000 fee the Republican party wanted, he paid the $2500 the Democratic party required. Despite meeting all their stipulations, he was denied a place on their ballot by the state party. It’s a publicly funded election, but only if you get approval from the gatekeepers of the party.
It’s obvious why it’s that way. A ‘public election’ is an excuse to appeal for voters, and to be ‘newsworthy’, and thus get coverage of issues, candidates and policy ideas. It’s preliminary campaigning for the real election, subsidised by the taxpayer and news media, and outsourcing this cost to the public is just good business sense… for the party.
Now if you were to suggest that the party were to pay for the cost of the primary elections, or that they were to be billed afterwards, would they complain? Sure they would. And the elections would suddenly become a whole lot more low-key.
The thing is we don’t care about the small party candidates, precisely because the selection of them is a private party matter. There’s no news organisations going to cover this closed door meeting, or hype it up as with the likes of “Super Tuesday”.
There is another side to things as well. The Republican Party has recently announced that it’s got to stop being the ‘stupid party’, and admitted it has a branding problem. But if they can keep pointing to their candidates and making it seem like a ‘choice’ then a lot of their bad choices can be pushed onto the voters. Selecting their own candidates can make the two major parties more accountable to the party faithful, and to the candidates themselves.
Some outlets have complained about the Tennessee law saying it’s a bad idea. Charlie Cook at the National Journal says “…with cynicism about government increasing, is this really a good time to cut voters out of the process?” He echos wider sentiment that somehow only the public is qualified to select who can represent a party (as long as it’s one of the main two).
He also misses that the cynicism about quality is focused on the main party candidates, while cynicism about minor party candidates is generally about their ability to be elected; both of these can be attributed to the public-funded primary system which promotes outspoken column-inch generating candidates over competence, and is an excuse to solicit funds and spend them.
This can’t be overlooked either. A private candidate selection process would mean that no-one would know who the candidates are until the convention. Sure things could be leaked earlier, but until the start of the selection process at least, early in the election-year, the front-runners aren’t even certain. Thus candidates are going to be hesitant to campaign, and spend funds to convince voters ‘they’re the one’, when all but one will never even see a ballot, unless they’re unopposed for their party’s nomination. It’ll certainly put an end to the presidential bid campaigning that starts soon after the mid-term elections are finished, and which everyone is sick of a year before the election itself.
Sure the primaries make some states feel important, like New Hampshire, but the vast distortion the whole system has brought to US politics, and the candidates it encourages (frankly, “the cream of the crap”) doesn’t help, nor does the incessant campaigning which means people already holding elected office are not doing the job they’re being paid to do, and not representing who they’re supposed to represent.
If the US wants to reform politics, make it fairer, more equitable, and with better candidates and a better return for the public, then the best thing for everyone to do, is to scrap primaries, and put them where they belong, back inside their party.
After all, that’s what WE have to do when we provide a candidate, not mooch off the taxpayer. 

Scalia Hints at End for USA PATRIOT Act

During oral arguments over the Voting Rights Act, Justice Scalia indicated that there might be a justification for getting rid of the USA Patriot Act. During Oral arguments at the Supreme Court over the much lauded Voting Rights Act, hints were dropped as to how the wildly unpopular and overreaching anti-terrorist act could be dropped in a face-saving manner.

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) is one of those odd laws that everyone supports, likes to see continued, but really doesn’t want to admit that it exists. Mostly it’s because its existence is due to two things no-one likes to admit exists – Racism and Corruption.
But first let’s address the VRA. Scalia doesn’t like it, and thinks that it’s a ‘racial entitlement’. Others also questioned if it’s a legitimate issue – Chief Justice Roberts asking if the South is ‘more racist’, to which the answer is yes. Living here in Georgia and having spent a lot of time in places like California has shown me that.
In addition, Justice Alito made an incredibly important point too

But when Congress decided to reauthorize it in 2006, why wasn’t it incumbent on Congress under the congruence and proportionality standard to make a new determination of coverage? Maybe the whole country should be covered. Or maybe certain parts of the country should be covered based on a formula that is grounded in up-to-date statistics.

This is very true. In Florida, several Republicans have admitted that voting regulations for the 2012 election were designed to curb democrat and black voters. Florida is NOT a state covered by Section5 of the VRA, although 5 counties (Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, Monroe) are.

The abuse of voting regulations has become more widespread over the past 3 years, often disguised as “voter fraud” initiatives. And it does need to start being applies to more states, or indeed nationwide. When an impartial outsider gets to look at the propositions of a state and see if it’s discriminatory (to tip the balance one way or another) then such partisan measures are less likely to happen – although not eliminated entirely, as seen with Texas redistricting.
This is why the Voting Rights Act is very important. After all, it was only a few months ago that there were states saying they’d kick out, or arrest, independent international election monitors, even if it meant violating their state laws to do so, because scrutiny makes it hard to rig elections.
Yet the biggest question about the VRA, comes from Justice Scalia. When discussing the passage of the VRA renewal in 2006, and it’s 98-0 passage in the Senate, he said: (page 16 line 14)

JUSTICE SCALIA: Indeed, Congress must have found that the situation was even clearer and the violations even more evident than originally, because originally, the vote in the Senate, for example, was something like 79 to 18, and in the 2006 extension, it was 98 to nothing. It must have been even clearer in 2006 that these States were violating the Constitution. Do you think that’s true?
JUSTICE KAGAN: Well, that sounds like a good argument to me, Justice Scalia. It was clear to 98 Senators, including every Senator from a covered State, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Or decided that perhaps they’d better not vote against it, that there’s nothing, that there’s no — none of their interests in voting against it.

He followed it later with the following statement (page 46 line 13)

The problem here, however, is suggested by the comment I made earlier, that the initial enactment of this legislation in a — in a time when the need for it was so much more abundantly clear was — in the Senate, there — it was double-digits against it. And that was only a 5-year term.
Then, it is reenacted 5 years later, again for a 5-year term. Double-digits against it in the Senate. Then it was reenacted for 7 years. Single digits against it. Then enacted for 25 years, 8 Senate votes against it.
And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.
I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there’s a good reason for it.
That’s the — that’s the concern that those of us who — who have some questions about this statute have. It’s — it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress.

And this is a problem. It’s the problem of POPULIST Legislation over that of GOOD Legislation. While the VRA is an example of Good legislation that is also popular, and makes sense and is relevant and proportional, there are others that aren’t, like the USA PATRIOT Act, an example of Populist legislation.
There are many similarities between the two pieces of Legislation, despite the 37 years between them. They both give the Federal Government powers over areas they previously hadn’t, and do so in an attempt to solve a perceived problem. They also have people that don’t like them, who are mainly those who feel it to be overreaching or who are subject to the act.
They also have their differences. There are ways to get off the preclearance list or “Bail-out” as it’s known; the requirement is a 10 year “clean record”. By contrast, there’s no way to get out from under the Patriot act, and it’s continued surveillance and rules. There’s also been little public evidence that the act has been effective, or proportionate.

They also have very different aims, the VRA aims to promote a positive act – a citizen’s right to vote – in the face of actions that intend to deprive that; the Patriot Act was designed to prevent any more of the rare terrorist attacks on the US.

Yet the biggest similarity to them is how the statements by Scalia about the Voting Rights Act can be applied to the Patriot Act as well.
Yes, no-one’s going to argue against a “voting rights act”, just like no-one’s going to vote against a USA PATRIOT Act. Members of Congress aren’t going to vote no one something with that kind of name (which is mainly the reason they have that sort of name). Indeed, both have passed with huge majorities. As note already, the 06 reauthorization of the VRA passed the Senate 98-0, but it also passed the House 390-33. Likewise, the USA PATRIOT Act passed the House 357-66 and the Senate 98-1.
And likewise, how are we going to get Congress to vote against a bill with such noble aims as ‘protecting people’? Well, we can look at effectiveness. The plaintiff in the VRA case, Shelby County, was described by Justice Sotomayor as (page 4 line 11)
“…a county whose record is the epitome of what caused the passage of this law to start with” and which is unable to bailout of the preclearance because of its actions.”

The same is not true of the USA PATRIOT Act. Of the 50+ cases of ‘terrorism’ we’ve had since the enacting of the Patriot Act, the vast majority have been infiltrated, sponsored, coerced, and heavily watched by the FBI. All using powers they had BEFORE the act. Instead what we’ve got from the act is more domestic spying, less oversight, and the type of law that is actually now impossible to challenge in court, according to this SAME Supreme Court.
There could be tens of thousands of words here pointing out the many flaws, and ineffectiveness’ of the Patriot act. Most tellingly though, we can talk of the provisions that are constantly renewed, and never used. In fact, during the last renewal back in December, our own Senator, Saxby Chambliss, said it wasn’t that important, no debated needed, and to just pass it, something we disagreed with
If that doesn’t speak to a law that has no application to today, and which members of Congress are unable to vote against because of the perception of the law, rather than if it’s a good, proportional, or even necessary law, then nothing will.
By contrast, as noted by Justice Sotomayor, the VRA has shown itself to be good, proportional, and necessary. It has oversight, its use is one for the public good, through a limited set of actions that have a definitively proved benefit, and there are ways to escape and show reformation.
So what we’re left with is a Supreme Court that might invalidate a good law, based on its claimed ineffectiveness and lack of relevance today (supposedly) and yet we have a law that is of dubious legality, is strongly against the public good in act and deed, has had no real debate, is ineffective for the job, and the court has no problems with it.
If that doesn’t show how broken, how utterly out of touch with reality some members of the Supreme Court of the United States are, I don’t know what does.
The Robert’s court is already going to go down in history as one of the worst courts in memory, thanks to rulings like Citizens United, BerghuisCompucredit, Golan, Heller and others. Striking down the VRA? That shows they’re going for the top spot. If only they could use that ambition to be the BEST, maybe the US might be a better country to live in.