Wednesday, January 18, 2012
In opposition to SOPA and PIPA
Today, many of the most prominent websites (Wikipedia, Google, and many more) are symbolically “going black”, presenting arguments against SOPA (H.R.3261, the Stop Internet Piracy Act) and PIPA (S.968, the PROTECT Intellectual Property Act ... where PROTECT is actually an acronym for Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of). I’d join them if I knew enough about the construction of websites to be confident that I could a) send readers to a page that explains what’s bad about SOPA and PIPA and also tells you how to write messages to your Congresscritters, and b) drop the page-forwarding and return to the usual site afterwards.
Because I’m utterly clueless about what goes on under the hood of my website, instead I’ll just send you to any of HorsesAss or the Northwest Progressive Institute (locally) or Wikipedia, Reddit, or Google (nationally) for such actions.
Why are you being asked to oppose these bills? Aren’t online piracy and theft of intellectual property important issues, worthy of powerful legislation?
Yes, of course they are. But these bills, even though they have bipartisan co-sponsorship—indeed, S.968’s author is the estimable Pat Leahy (D-VT)—aren’t really intended to do the right thing in combating piracy and IP theft. No, they’re backed by the Hollywood business oligarchs and designed solely to protect their products and their property. IOW, movies, TV shows, music, and the like.
What’s worse are the invasions of privacy and heavy-handed penalties that would be permitted under SOPA and PIPA. Run afoul of Disney or Fox, and your website can be shut down or blocked, just like what China does to a wide variety of American sites (Google among them). Even if you aren’t the thief. Even if you aren’t the pirate. It would lead to outright censorship, without in any way getting at the shady thieves and pirates, who (like spammers) would simply hop aboard other sites in other countries while the legitimate businesses would be the victims. Below, I’ve embedded a video that lays out the whole story:
Thankfully, our own Senator Maria Cantwell is leading the fight against SOPA and PIPA. My Congressman, Jim McDermott (D-WA-07) opposes the bills, as does Rick Larsen (D-WA-02). As far as I can tell, though, Senator Patty Murray hasn’t taken a stand one way or the other (at least she isn’t one of PIPA’s 40 co-sponsors). So she’s where you should concentrate your letters and email, along with the other seven Washington Representatives. None of the latter group is a co-sponsor of H.R.3261.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
New CDs announced ... it could have been better
I just realized that I left my (very few) readers hanging on December 27, when I posted about the about-to-be-released Congressional District map. It’s now been released and approved by the Washington State Redistricting Commission, and awaits minor tweaking by the Legislature. Same with the new Legislative District map, but I haven’t yet had a chance to examine it in its 49-district totality.
Immediately after the CD map was revealed, I wrote up a rapid-response post over on HorsesAss.org. I’m reposting the basics of that post here, but with more thoughts developed in the couple of weeks since it first saw the light of day.
Darcy Burner gets her wish ... and doesn’t.Yes, her home is located in the new 1st District. And yes, she’ll be in a no-incumbent CD. But no, it doesn’t much overlap with the WA-01 that was represented by Jay Inslee. Most of the new WA-01 consists of what had been WA-02, represented by Rick Larsen. Larsen will now have much of the former Inslee CD (and a safe Democratic seat), while the upcoming WA-01 looks like a probable toss-up.
Most of the other 1st CD hopefuls are also in WA-01.The biggest loser was State Representative Marko Liias, whose home will be in Jim McDermott’s WA-07. His power base is split between WA-07 and WA-02, so Marko withdrew his candidacy immediately after the map hit the streets.
Interestingly, the southernmost extent of WA-01 reaches Medina, home of Suzan DelBene (Dave Reichert’s opponent in 2010). She hasn’t made any announcements, but is said to be seriously considering throwing her hat into the crowded WA-01 ring. Also in WA-01 is teahadist John Koster, who narrowly lost to Rick Larsen in the 2010 election. So Larsen wins twice—his CD is now much more Democratic than what he used to represent, and arguably the strongest Republican contender north of Seattle is no longer a resident of his district.
Yes, majority-minority, but ...The redrawn 9th Congressional District is “only” 49.67% non-Hispanic white. However, it already has a well-entrenched incumbent in Adam Smith. And, as I explained previously, the voters of the new WA-09 will be majority non-Hispanic white. In the last couple of days, Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell (cultural/ethnic diversity personified) has made noises like a potential challenger to Smith, but I suspect that’s really positioning for a post-Smith future.
In terms of cojones, Gorton swings the bigger ones.Originally I called it a draw, but the more I look at the map the worse it looks. Dividing WA-01 and WA-02 “vertically” makes no sense in terms of communities of interest, supposedly one of the major considerations in redistricting. What do Kirkland, Redmond, and Kenmore have in common with rural Whatcom County hamlets on the Canadian border? Why are Kenmore and Bothell in a different CD than neighboring Mountlake Terrace, Brier, and Lynnwood? A much more sensible map, easily drawn using Dave’s Redistricting App, would keep all of Whatcom and Skagit in WA-02 and move the southern portion of the line between the two districts slightly westward; basically, they would split along I-5 in Snohomish County. That would create two similar districts, both about 53-47 Democratic, in a portion of the state that’s been represented by two Democrats for the last decade. Instead, Larsen’s in a solid-blue CD (about 57-43) and WA-01 is a toss-up with a strong Republican already on the prowl.
One may ask why it didn’t turn out more sensibly. I see two reasons, both associated with (misguided, IMHO) Democratic desires elsewhere:
- The (not really) majority-minority Congressional District
- Building a district for Denny Heck
In the end, there are four solidly Democratic CDs: 2nd (Larsen), 6th (Dicks), 7th (McDermott), and 9th (Smith). Conversely, four new districts look solidly Republican, at least in the short run: 3rd (Herrera Beutler), 4th (Hastings), 5th (McMorris Rodgers), and 8th (Reichert). It’s possible that a strong candidate, increasing Latino turnout, and a liberalizing Vancouver could eventually retake WA-03, but the over-the-mountains WA-08 is now dead-solid GOP.
That leaves the two incumbentless CDs as the battlegrounds. The new WA-10, supposedly Heck’s, is actually fairly evenly divided; it leans Democratic, but is by no means a sure thing. And, as we’ve seen above, a WA-01 in which most of the Dems reside at the southernmost urban tip doesn’t bode well for a large district replete with rural residents wary of the Seattle/Eastside tinge. Still, in a Presidential year and with a Democratic US Senator likely to cruise to an easy victory, high turnout probably improves Democratic chances a bit in both CDs. Given the high value of incumbency, if both of those districts are won by Democrats in 2012 they can stay that way into the future (barring another Tea Party year like 2010 or 1994).
OTOH, if either is won by the Republican this year, ...
Monday, January 02, 2012
And another blogiversary
Oh man, I let this one slip right past me. So I’m sneaking it into the blog in its “rightful” place. Full disclosure—although it’s displayed as a January 2 publication, marking the day-of-the-year of my opener in 2003, it’s actually being written on January 10.
Is that cheating? Sure, but it’s my blog and I can do what I please with it.
Happy blogiversary to meCan you believe it? Nine years of these very occasional musings.
Happy blogiversary to me
Happy blogiversary, dear Peace Tree Farm
Happy blogiversary to me
According to reliable sources (well, as reliable as I’m going to look for), the traditional gift for the ninth anniversary is “pottery / willow”. I don’t think they’re talking about pottery made of willows, but really ... how do those two go together? The modern selection is much easier to comprehend; it’s leather. A belt? Shoes?
Not a saddle, thanks.