Tuesday, November 29, 2005

As a Parody this Rocks...

On the other hand, it could be an argument by example that no political discussion whatsoever should be allowed on the Internet.

Either that, or Canada needs to register Blackberrys along with firearms.

Nana Mouskouri?

Monday, November 28, 2005

"the press?"


I was asked today, in reference to my post Civil Obeisance, this question; "If the Founders did not mean to grant a separate, and superior, category of free speech to "the press", why is the press specifically mentioned in the First Amendment?"

I responded by asking what my questioner imagined was meant by "the press" to someone living in the 18th century? Did he imagine that, for example, Thomas Jefferson was so literal minded as to equate "the press" with ink made from lamp black and animal fat, impressed on crude paper in manually operated presses from type set by hand with individual letters of lead? Is that what made "the press" important? Or was there perhaps an underlying concept someone unfamiliar with the internet might be expressing?

Jefferson had much to say about a free press, most of it uncomplimentary. For example:
"It is so difficult to draw a clear line of separation between the abuse and the wholesome use of the press, that as yet we have found it better to trust the public judgment, rather than the magistrate, with the discrimination between truth and falsehood. And hitherto the public judgment has performed that office with wonderful correctness." --Thomas Jefferson to M. Pictet, 1803. ME 10:356

"Since truth and reason have maintained their ground against false opinions in league with false facts, the press confined to truth needs no other legal restraint. The public judgment will correct false reasonings and opinions on a full hearing of all parties, and no other definite line can be drawn between the inestimable liberty of the press and its demoralizing licentiousness. If there be still improprieties which this rule would not restrain, its supplement must be sought in the censorship of public opinion." --Thomas Jefferson: 2nd Inaugural Address, 1805. ME 3:381

"As for what is not true, you will always find abundance in the newspapers." --Thomas Jefferson to Barnabas Bidwell, 1806. ME 11:118

"The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807.

"I deplore... the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them... These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information and a curb on our funtionaries, they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief... This has, in a great degree, been produced by the violence and malignity of party spirit." --Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones, 1814. ME 14:46

"These people [i.e., the printers] think they have a right to everything, however secret or sacred." --Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1815. ME 14:345

"Advertisements... contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper." --Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Macon, 1819. ME 15:179
Emphasis mine. Where does "public judgment" manifest itself most freely today?

Nonetheless, Jefferson would not have "the press" (in which he included, especially, book publishers) emasculated:
"Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it." --Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1786.

"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:57

"I am persuaded that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors, and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs through the channel of the public papers, and to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787.

"To preserve the freedom of the human mind... and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will and speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement." Thomas Jefferson to William Green Munford, 1799.

"It is so difficult to draw a clear line of separation between the abuse and the wholesome use of the press, that as yet we have found it better to trust the public judgment, rather than the magistrate, with the discrimination between truth and falsehood. And hitherto the public judgment has performed that office with wonderful correctness." --Thomas Jefferson to M. Pictet, 1803. ME 10:356

"The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure." --Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823. ME 15:491
Do you think Jefferson would have condemned or applauded free flowing information with "everyman" a publisher? Again, do you think that Jefferson was so literal minded a man as to have meant "ink on paper", rather than "the ability to publish"? The exempt media would like you to believe the former to be the case. Many reasonable people don't buy it.

Cliff Kincaid points out one reason the exempt media aren't concerned about free speech restrictions under McCain-Feingold. Not only is their Gore not oxed at present, but congressional incumbents are rushing to bolster their own protection and that of the "exempt for-no-discernable-reason media":
We cannot let the Big Media monopolize the concept of journalism. When we honored Harry MacDougald and Paul Boley with the Reed Irvine Investigative Journalism award, we were recognizing that ordinary citizens can be journalists, too.

...the sponsors of the so-called Free Flow of Information Act, or the federal media shield bill, do not understand this critical fact. In an October 10 article by Mark Fitzgerald on the Editor & Publisher website, he noted that Senator Richard Lugar, main sponsor of the shield law in the Senate, has said that bloggers would "probably not" be considered journalists under the bill. On the other hand, Rep. Mike Pence, the main sponsor of the bill in the House, says some bloggers will be covered, but only those involved in "gathering news." He says those covered by the bill would have to be evaluated on a "blog-by-blog basis."

...In the House, the bill only has 63 co-sponsors. But it also has the backing of powerful news organizations, which have concealed their role in lobbying for the bill from media consumers. In the Senate, there are only 10 sponsors. But it has already received two sympathetic hearings from Senator Arlen Specter of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In both cases, Specter refused to accept in person testimony from Accuracy in Media against the bill. He doesn't want the truth about this dangerous bill to get out.
George Will offers a rationale for the exempt media's silence about, and general support of, McCain-Feingold;
The speech rationers, a.k.a. the "reform community" - abetted by much of the unregulated mainstream media, which advocate regulating rivals - will redouble their efforts to clamp the government's grip on the Internet, and require bloggers to hire lawyers.
Bring it on. I thought Campaign Finance Reform would by now have made such blatant lobbying by a special interest group impossible.

Will also calls the question on other political hacks' support for CFR's incumbent protection trappings:
In California, "progressive" thinking has progressed to the conclusion that because money in politics is bad, political competition is, too. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger advocated, unsuccessfully, having retired judges draw legislative districts in order to reduce gerrymandering and produce more competitive races. A group opposed to that argued that if districts were more competitive, "politicians would be forced to spend more money and become more dependent on special-interest money."
If the congresscritters can pass a bill they can unpass it. If the First Amendment meant "ink on paper" the exempt media wouldn't need
the Free Flow of Information Act, which by the way apparently doesn't cover bloggers. When "Campaign Finance Reform" comes to a water cooler near you, they'll have had their cake and eaten yours, too.

Thomas Jefferson recognized that a free press was an important brake on government, even if it was sometimes pernicious. He did not recognize that "gathering the news" was the criterion to be applied by a free people to the ability to express an opinion.


There is more on this topic in earlier Other Club posts on this topic:
http://otherclub.blogspot.com/2005/05/lessons-ignored.html
http://otherclub.blogspot.com/2005/03/anti-constitutional-business-as-usual.html
http://otherclub.blogspot.com/2005/09/see-also-mccain-feingold.html

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday Miscellany


A bunch of semi-unrelated links worth checking:

Cindy Sheehan ponders her fame.

Charles Krauthammer tells us why John McCain's anti-torture pandering is of a piece with his unprincipaled populist lurching from Campaign Finance Reform, to steroids in baseball and oil company "windfall profit gouging." That is, for John, it's all about McCain all the time. Stephen Moore with more on McCain's incoherent economic philosophy.

Some thoughtful words for the Murtha/Moore axis from Cliff May and Herbert E. Meyer.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Civil Obeisance


The First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The clear intent of these first words of the Bill of Rights is to limit the power of the government. The Bill of Rights does not grant rights to citizens, it constrains the government from abridging them. It puts ordinary citizens on the same plane as the press.

Nonetheless, John McCain, resolve unburdened by any excess of fact, idea or reflection, has become the leading proponent for controlling citizens’ speech. This is about McCain’s ability to sustain the state of personal outrage he developed when his campaign to become President was damaged by negative ads in the 2000 South Carolina presidential primary.

McCain’s extended snit powered the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform act, a serious assault on free speech that continues unabated. However, you wouldn’t know that if you were informed by either right or left wing blogs.

An internet site named Fired Up!, (WARNING: exposure to second-hand statism) is claiming “a major victory for Internet free speech advocates.” because the Federal Election Committee condescended to grant them a “press exception” to the Byzantine rules of McCain and Feingold’s debacle. From the right, Redstate.org joins in the premature congratulation.

What the hell is an “internet free speech” advocate? Someone who thinks bloggers should have free speech, but the rest of us are on our own? When did free speech begin to come in categories?

Sadly, those who should be at the forefront of the resistance to this travesty are this week celebrating a victory which does not even rise to the level of Pyrrhic, and the fawning acceptance of this crumb from the FEC table is disgusting.

The appropriate response to federal threats to “internet free speech” is not to beg for an exemption, but to refuse to acknowledge that free speech is divisible into categories. The appropriate response would have been for ten thousand bloggers to violate the law in every conceivable and most obvious way and dare the FEC to sue them. This concept has been called “civil disobedience.” It has had some success in the past.

A related point of interest begins with the question; why is there an exemption for the “press”; because they can afford a major printing press or a broadcast transmission tower? What is the difference between ink on paper and phosphors on a computer monitor?

The “press exemption” is surely not because of the credentials of the likes of Jason Blair, Dan Rather, Judith Miller, or Paul Krugman; nor can it be because of the exquisite fact checking of the organizations which employ(ed) them.

Ironically, the exempt media, which have generally supported CFR, still don’t recognize the danger to their own privilege. Let’s examine the dots they can’t seem to connect.

Their exemption is based on the same arbitrary dictatorial decrees as is the bloggers’ “victory”. This should be of concern because the ‘Net is a medium which looms large in the exempt media’s future if they are to regain relevance and readership.
In 1995-2003, says the World Association of Newspapers, circulation fell by 5% in America, 3% in Europe and 2% in Japan. In the 1960s, four out of five Americans read a paper every day; today only half do so. Philip Meyer, author of “The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age” (University of Missouri Press), says that if the trend continues, the last newspaper reader will recycle his final paper copy in April 2040.

The decline of newspapers predates the internet. But the second—broadband—generation of the internet is not only accelerating it but is also changing the business in a way that the previous rivals to newspapers—radio and TV—never did. Older people, whom Mr Murdoch calls “digital immigrants”, may not have noticed, but young “digital natives” increasingly get their news from web portals such as Yahoo! or Google, and from newer web media such as blogs. Short for “web logs”, these are online journal entries of thoughts and web links that anybody can post. Whereas 56% of Americans haven't heard of blogs, and only 3% read them daily, among the young they are standard fare, with 44% of online Americans aged 18-29 reading them often, according to a poll by CNN/USA Today/Gallup.
Rupert Murdoch expands on this:
...as the study [Carnegie Corporation] illustrates, consumers between the ages of 18-34 are increasingly using the web as their medium of choice for news consumption. While local TV news remains the most accessed source of news, the internet, and more specifically, internet portals, are quickly becoming the favored destination for news among young consumers.

44 percent of the study’s respondents said they use a portal at least once a day for news, as compared to just 19 percent who use a printed newspaper on a daily basis. More ominously, looking out three years, the study found that 39 percent expected to use the internet more to learn about the news, versus only 8 percent who expected to use traditional newspapers more.

And their attitudes towards newspapers are especially alarming. Only 9 percent describe us as trustworthy, a scant 8 percent find us useful, and only 4 percent of respondents think we’re entertaining. Among major news sources, our beloved newspaper is the least likely to be the preferred choice for local, national or international news going forward.
Watching newspapers deal with this, especially in their general editorial support of McCain-Feingold and their willingness to let bloggers carry the load of protest, brings to mind Tsar Nicholas II dealing with the Duma after the Russian revolution of 1905, fending off revolt with piecemeal civil-liberties concessions later arbitrarily suspended or withdrawn. The Tsar and the Duma did not survive the 1917 revolution. Neither did civil liberties.

The “Tsar” has just included “internet speech” in the definition of “legitimate press.” In the future it may well be newspapers, magazines and broadcast media begging for the “blogger exemption”, because they did nothing about the fundamental issue that anyone has to plead with the feds to preserve an unsullied First Amendment.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Spiting your Face?


The American Thinker has a letter by Herbert E. Meyer that those
who conflate their distaste for George Bush with opposition to the battle in Iraq should read. An excerpt:
Now, you may be among those who believe that the President’s strategy is absurd – that there isn’t the slightest possibility of Islam reconciling with the modern world and of democracy taking root in the Mideast. Or, you may believe that the strategy is plausible, but that the President has made an historic mistake by choosing Iraq as first Mideast country in which to make it work. Or, you may believe that it can be done in Iraq, but that we have gone about it badly, for instance by not putting enough troops on the ground in that country to overcome the Baathists and the non-Iraqi terrorists who are fighting now to prevent the upcoming elections from succeeding.

In the end, history will prove you right – or wrong. But as of today, we simply don’t know how things will turn out in Iraq. Read the last sentence again, slowly, because it really is the heart of the issue. We are in the middle of a war and no one – absolutely no one – knows whether we will win or lose it
Unfortunately, if winning it is not a shared objective, I think we do know the outcome. I do not expect Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore to abandon their promotion of American defeatism, but it is hard to understand how sane Americans would advocate such a result simply to punish George Bush.

Christopher Hitchens adds:
For reasons that I have explained at length elsewhere, I think that the continuation of the Saddam Hussein regime would have been even more dangerous than the Bush administration has ever claimed. I also think that that regime should have been removed many years before it actually was, which is why the Bush administration is right to remind people of exactly what Democrats used to say when they had the power to do that and did not use it. No, there are two absolutely crucial things that made me a supporter of regime change before Bush, and that will keep me that way whether he fights a competent war or not.
He tells you what these things are here.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Decision


Following are thoughts based on an email I received today which suggested that we could all get behind a "wear red on Fridays" campaign intended to indicate we support our troops - whatever our view of the decision to invade. That is, the email came with a caveat regarding supporting our troops vs. supporting the decision to invade Iraq...



Supporting our troops and supporting "the decision" can be separated in principle. That is, a principled argument can be made for it.

What cannot be countenanced is the claim that one can support the troops but not support their mission. That, unfortunately, is what the leftwing cut-and-run crowd means when they say they don't support the decision. Without "the decision" they'd have what they want: Saddam still in power, still joining hands with an abjectly corrupt UN for a chorus or two of Kumbaya.

They want the decision reversed, the mission canceled and the United States humiliated. The latter of these items, as articulated by Michael Moore, George Soros, Cindy Sheehan and Noam Chomsky is the sine-qua-non of their political philosophy. Tony Blankley sums it up:
Now the Watergate babies have grown old -- and age has not improved them. They plan to finish their careers as they started them -- in defeatism, betrayal and national dishonor. Oh, that America might see the last of these fish-eyed sacks of loathsome bile and infamy: Unwholesome in their birth; repugnant and stench-forming in their decline.
The decision is made. It was made by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of apparent amnesiacs. Questioning it now, which is what the America-last revanchists are doing, cannot be reconciled with supporting the troops. Every Gutless Obtuse Party member voting to have the President "report on an exit strategy" and every Democrat hypocrite who is trying to rewrite history, are saying the decision is still in question. Mark Steyn and Michael Barone have some excellent commentary on this.

In fact, the decision is not in question except for those who opposed it originally and for those, the vast majority turncoats, who cannot abide responsibility for their own actions.

The decision is not in question; what's in question is whether we have the will to win or whether we'll betray the Iraqis, our troops, our objective to stop Islamist terror and our fundamental decency. What the "abandon the mission" types remember about Viet Nam is that they forced the United States to lose; and they revel in it. They also remember that they took some flak for literally spitting on Viet Nam vets. They've abandoned outright troop vilification, but the rest of their perfidy hasn't changed.

I know appealing to the "mission/troops support differentiation committees" is tempting because those who respect liberty axiomatically respect people and want to appeal to their opponents' better instincts. The problem is that these opponents don't possess "better instincts" and do not care about liberty. What they care about is license. Worse, they confuse license with liberty because they have forgotten that liberty implies responsibility for your decisions.

Don't give them an opening.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Present?


The Democrats have been whining that no one can question Representative John Murtha's (D-PA) service to the US and that, therefore, his proposal to cut and run in Iraq could not be criticized - confusing personality with partisanship and effect with cause yet again.

Rather than endure continuing sniping from the cover of press releases about the irrelevant topic of Murtha's credentials, the GOP called the question on his proposal. Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a resolution to immediately withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, 403 to 3. Roll call here.

The Democrats have called the forcing of this vote a Republican stunt and have asked for serious debate. What they got was serious debate. It was a call to put up or shut up. While the Democrats would have preferred to keep confusing the rejection of Murtha's proposals with non-existent personal attacks
in order to keep any negative news whatsoever on the front pages, and while this strategy arguably improves their political standing, they conduct it at the expense of US credibility, US forces morale and Iraqi confidence on the eve of an election.

The vote proves that Democrats will not defend a concrete expression of Representative Murtha's suggestion. Even he voted against it.

Three Democrats did vote in favor of withdrawal. Six of them voted "present."

I find the "present" votes curious. It was a simple "yes" or "no" question. It is certainly possible to hold a more nuanced view of the matter, as John Kerry is wont to say, but that does not explain refusal to express an opinion on this proposal.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

When he's right, he's right


I am no fan of John McCain. His sanctimony brings to mind Dudley Doright, but lacking the humor. He takes his morality in meandering, pragmatic sips. When he's outraged we're all supposed to be.

He has earned my eternal enmity for his promotion of, and continuing support for, violating the free speech provision of the First Amendment via the campaign finance reform bill. His egoism prevents him from examining his error.

John McCain's epitaph will be: "I meant well."

Indeed, he has meant well. I admire and thank him for his obvious courage, demonstrated in service to the United States while a prisoner of war.

However, in part, the fact that he was tortured while so incarcerated contributes to another sophomoric idea he is promoting - a law to prevent any US involvement in "torture" at any level, at any time, under any circumstances. Since he cannot know what the Democrats will call torture, since he cannot know the time or circumstances in advance, this is Pollyanna confronting the Balrog.

He does not, however, waiver in honoring his oath of office as he understands it, nor does he devalue our military. Following is the text of a recent John McCain column in The New York Post.
AIDING & ABETTING
By JOHN McCAIN

November 17, 2005 -- IRAQ is today in the throes of another critical moment in its post-Saddam history. There is both great hope and great difficulty, with a new constitution and an ongoing insurgency, with parliamentary elections in a month and violence plaguing many areas.

At home, the American people wish to see us succeed in helping bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people, but express increased uncertainty among the way forward. Now is the last time we should send a message that withdrawing troops is more important than achieving success.

Unfortunately, the Senate considered two amendments this week — one of which was approved with 79 votes — that did just that. In the version that passed, 2006 is designated as "a period of significant transition to full sovereignty . . . thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq."

These words are likely to be examined closely in Iraq, by both friends and enemies. They suggest that the Senate has its priorities upside down, and I voted to reject them.

Anyone reading the amendment gets the sense that the Senate's foremost objective is the draw-down of American troops. What it should have said is that America's first goal in Iraq is not to withdraw troops, but to win the war. All other policy decisions we make should support, and be subordinate to, the successful completion of our mission.

If that means we can draw down our troop levels and win in Iraq in 2006, that would be a wonderful outcome. But if success requires an increase in American troop levels in 2006, then we must increase our numbers there.

Morality, national security and the honor our fallen deserve all compel us to see our mission in Iraq through to victory.

But the amendment suggests a different priority. It signals that withdrawal, not victory, is foremost in Congress' mind, and suggests that we are more interested in exit than victory.

A date is not an exit strategy. To suggest that it is only encourages our enemies, by indicating that the end to American intervention is near. It alienates our friends, who fear an insurgent victory, and tempts undecideds to join the anti-government ranks.

And it suggests to the American people that, no matter what, 2006 is the date for withdrawal. As much as I hope 2006 is the landmark year that the amendment's supporters envision, should it not be so, messages like these will have unrealistically raised expectations once again. That can only cost domestic support for America's role in this conflict, a war we must win.

The sponsors may disagree with my interpretation of their words, saying that 2006 is merely a target, that their legislation is not binding and that it included caveats. But look at the initial response to the Senate's words: a front page Washington Post story titled "Senate Presses for Concrete Steps Toward Drawdown of Troops in Iraq."

Think about this for a moment. Imagine Iraqis, working for the new government, considering whether to join the police force, or debating whether or not to take up arms. What will they think when they read that the Senate is pressing for steps toward draw-down?

Are they more or less likely to side with a government whose No. 1 partner hints at leaving?

The Senate has responded to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who put their faith and trust in America and their government, by suggesting that our No. 1 priority is to bring our people home.

We have told insurgents that their violence does grind us down, that their horrific acts might be successful. But these are precisely the wrong messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.

Americans may not have been of one mind when it came to the decision to topple Saddam Hussein. But, though some disagreed, I believe that nearly all now wish us to prevail.

Because the stakes there are so high — higher even than those in Vietnam — our friends and our enemies need to hear one message: America is committed to success, and we will win this war.

Sen. McCain (R, Az.) is one of only 19 U.S. senators — including just 13 Republicans — to have voted against a Senate resolution Tuesday pushing for an eventual draw-down of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Emphasis mine. McCain castigates his colleagues justly and accurately.

P.S., "an eventual drawdown" is inevitable in any case, and stating it as the objective of the resolution reveals a mind-set either damaged by Liberal propaganda or informed by it. "Eventual" was the GOP majority's weak-kneed response to the Democrats idiotic demand for date certain withdrawal.

This is fighting betrayal with bufoonnery.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gutless Obtuse Party


How many Republicans does it take to keep a light bulb screwed in?

One answer is: More than 55.

Another is: Before I answer, what's the definition of "Republican?"

The Senate has just passed a GOP sponsored bill demanding that the President report to them every 90 days on progress in Iraq.

He should tell them all to fuck off. "We're not interested in repeating the mistakes of Viet Nam, so we are not going to cave-in to geriatric reprobates like Teddy Kennedy, or flip-floppers like that jerk, Kerry. We are not going to tie our troops' hands. We are especially not going to leave the Iraqis in the same pickle my father did, nor practice betrayal like Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon did on the Vietnamese. I've been telling you this for some time. You want a report? Here it is: You're a bunch of fools who are damaging the war effort and America's credibility by playing into the hands of our enemies for political gain. What part of "Don't get stuck on stupid!" didn't penetrate your sorry excuse for brains?"

Of course, George Bush invited this by waiting weeks to point out that the Democrats have been lying hypocrites while conducting the most recent "Bush lied" Revival and Snake Oil Show.

Tony Blankley nails it, here.

Genetic analysis of GOP Senators will reveal they do not belong to Phylum Chordata. One candidate for an exact DNA match would be Class Pogonophora: gutless deep sea worms.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

DRM as a Virus


I'm fairly certain that many readers here may not know that "DRM" is an acronym for Digital Rights Management. DRM is a way to make sure you only use something you've bought in exactly the way the manufacturer approves. It's a generic term for copy protection. This especially is true of movies, music and software.

One manifestation of this is the fact that you can't buy MS-Windows (tm). Microsoft is just selling you a license to use. You don't own it. You can't resell it. Only Microsoft can "license" a copy of Windows. It's why an install of Windows XP can't be completed with reporting it to Microsoft.

This customer unfriendly concept ties into a recent, and serious, faux-pas by Sony Music Corporation. They were so worried about people stealing songs off their CD's and sharing them on the Internet, that they embedded software in those CD's that, when placed into a computer, installs itself without notification.

Sony's attitude is that not only do they own the music on the CD you just bought, but that if you put that puppy in your computer - maybe to make a "fair use" copy, maybe to steal songs, they don't care - they own your computer too.


Sony felt they could dispense with any notification and just stealth install software on their customers' computers. That's one characteristic of a virus, but it gets worse. This software was made invisible and uninstallable except by a fairly knowledgable computer user. Another characteristic of a virus.

Completing the virus trifecta, Sony's software punched a gaping hole in the already questionable defenses Microsoft built into Windows. It
opens the Gates to any evildoer who'd like to access your Microsoft Money (tm) data, or the homemade porn videos you're editing. As an article in The Washington Post points out,
Because of the way the tool is configured ... it allows any Web page that the user subsequently visits to download, install and run any code that it likes.
Wired reports that,
More than half a million networks, including military and government sites, were likely infected by copy-restriction software distributed by Sony on a handful of its CDs, according to a statistical analysis of domain servers conducted by a well-respected security researcher and confirmed by independent experts Tuesday.
BetaMax and the Memory Stick were proprietary, and Sony has suffered some for those mistakes. Now they've crossed the line between locking you in and appropriating your property. Sony's new motto: "What's ours is ours. What's yours is everybodies."

A boycott is in order, and it will be really easy for me.

While we're on the topic of speech restriction, there's an update on efforts to subvert Internet domain names on behalf of the 191 countries, 120 of which are repressive, who make up the UN.

The aim would seem to be to make China one of the arbiters of free speech, along with Syria, Cuba and Libya on the Human Rights Committee. If the UN is successful, we can expect to see a lot more 403 Forbidden error codes in the future.

"I'm from the World Government, and I'm here to help."

403 is only 263 short of 666. Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"Historical" Revanchism

I always thought revisionist history was something that took place long after the historical events being recast had passed, if only because it took a while for the people who lived through that history to die. I mean, if people are walking around who know that person X said "white" while the revisionists insist he said "black", there's likely to be some objection.

Nonetheless, we are living through a time that tests our understanding of the terms "revision" and "history."

We hear daily that "Bush lied us into war". Such rhetoric can't help but give aid and comfort to our enemies, and could therefore only be justified on the strongest of evidence. In plain view, the evidence itself is what is being revised. Like a Russian show trial.


We have an intelligentsia that not only can't remember what George Bush said, they can't remember what they said. They can't even remember what they said before the President said anything at all on the topic of Iraq.

It cannot be "revisionist" "history", because it's current events. Everyone knows better. We need a new term to cover the estimation by Democrats that we're all terminally stupid.

I propose "revanchist history." Appropriately, the term derives from the French for "revenge".

Webster's New World College Dictionary defines revanchism as "the revengeful spirit moving a defeated nation to aggressively seek restoration of territories, etc.." We need to change "nation" to "political group" and "territories" to "power", but it fits. Etc., covers the rest of the Demorcrats sound bite assault.

I find such a wealth of great commentary on the topic that I will simply direct you to some of it.

Believe It or Not
Are you sure you want to keep saying we were fooled by Ahmad Chalabi and the INC?
By Christopher Hitchens

Who Is Lying About Iraq?
A campaign of distortion aims to discredit the liberation.
BY NORMAN PODHORETZ


From a comment by JR at BizzyBlog:
One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.”
- President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

“Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.”
- Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

“He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.”
- Sandy Berger, Clinton National Securiity Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

“[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.”
- Letter to President Clinton, signed bby Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998

“Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998

“Hussein has … chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies.”
- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999

“There is no doubt that … Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies.”
- Letter to President Bush, Signed by SSen. Bob Graham (D, FL,) and others, December 5, 2001

“We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandated of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.”
- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 20002

“We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.”
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

“Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.”
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

“We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.”
- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002

“The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons…”
- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002

“I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force– if necessary– to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002

“There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years … We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.”
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002

“He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do”
- Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002

“In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weap ons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members .. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

“We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction.”
- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002

“Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime … He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation … And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction … So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real …”
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23, 2003
Either they lied, or Bush didn't.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remember and be Thankful


In Canada, today is Remembrance Day. Maybe a better name than Veteran's Day.

Pin-on poppies are everywhere available for free. Canadians make donations in order to wear them. This poem is why. Ypres, 1915 is why.


In Flanders Fields
Canadian Army Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Let them eat lies


TOTH to Dust My Broom

Riot coverage 'excessive', says French TV boss
One of France's leading TV news executives has admitted censoring his coverage of the riots in the country for fear of encouraging support for far-right politicians.

Jean-Claude Dassier, the director general of the rolling news service TCI, said the prominence given to the rioters on international news networks had been "excessive" and could even be fanning the flames of the violence.

Mr Dassier said his own channel, which is owned by the private broadcaster TF1, recently decided not to show footage of burning cars.

"Politics in France is heading to the right and I don't want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television," Mr Dassier told an audience of broadcasters at the News Xchange conference in Amsterdam today.
I wonder how he can say that since he didn't cover it? Does he really mean he would rather encourage support for the opposition Islamofascisti? Either way, it is simply the French version of American media bias.


Jean-Claude, listen up, the question in a Western democracy is whether or not the cars are burning, not your political sympathies. French bloggers were all over it anyway, so the prevarication simply makes you look as stupid as you are Marxist - if, by now, we can't recognize that as a tautology.


The reasons French MSM are so open about their biases is left to reader speculation.


However,
I do wonder how Jean-Claude Dassier feels about Bastille Day, Al-Jazeera broadcast head removal flicks, and coverage of former UN ambassador from France Merimee's arrest in the oil-for-food scandal.

Clarity on these few random examples would give me a better read on what he means by "excessive."

Update, 5:33PM, 11-Nov.
"oxymoron" should, of course, have been "tautology" - must have been tired

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"he concluded it was constitutional"


Cathy Young is a frequent contributor to Reason magazine, which I recommend.

Describing her as a libertarian feminist would be inaccurate and unfair because of the baggage the word "feminist" justly carries.

Here she puts together the perfect description of what SCOTUS judges are paid to do:
Just because Alito voted to uphold this law [in Planned Parenthood v. Casey] doesn't necessarily mean he agreed with it, only that he concluded it was constitutional
No one has ever been able to say anything remotely similar about Ruth Bader Ginsburg - even Ralph Neas, Kim Gandy or Ted Kennedy. Not that they wouldn't lie; the thought would
just never occur. They believe the Constitution requires that we allow 14 year old females to get an abortion without parental notification.

Ms. Young also describes the issue of spousal notification regarding abortion in a reasoned way:
When a man and a woman enter a potentially procreative relationship, they surrender part of their autonomy. Men certainly do: While a woman can choose abortion, a man has no choice to opt out of parenthood after conception. (It's also worth noting that while spousal consent for vasectomies is not mandated legally, it is required by many doctors).

Women, at the very least, have the moral obligation to include their partner in any decision regarding pregnancy, barring special circumstances such as abuse. It will be unfortunate if the attacks on Alito's ruling send the opposite message by suggesting that making a unilateral decision on this issue is a matter of female autonomy
Italics mine. Young's genius here is pinpointing that what the Feminists would have us respect as autonomy is, instead, an agenda of moral failure and an abuse of women by women.

Brand Names and Their Erosion


TOTH to OpinionJournal.
French Police Kill Americans! http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0511/06/snn.01.html

"It's been 11 days since two African-American teenagers were killed, electrocuted during a police chase, which prompted all of this."--CNN anchorman Carol Lin, Nov. 6
If you say so, but I heard it was young African-Islamist-French persons.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

La rue Arabe


TOTH to Paladin.

Now that the Arab street has finally erupted on the Champs-Elysee, the French cannot even form a coalition within their own government to deal with it.

Daniel Pipes - Reflections on the Revolution in France.
[The] issues include a decline of Christian faith and the attendant demographic collapse; a cradle-to-grave welfare system that lures immigrants even as it saps long-term economic viability; an alienation from historic customs in favor of lifestyle experimentation and vapid multiculturalism; an inability to control borders or assimilate immigrants; a pattern of criminality that finds European cities far more violent than American ones, and a surge in Islam and radical Islam.
One might be disturbed by the similarity of Pipes description of France to the path leftwing statists in this country urge us to follow. It is possible to trip over the comparison of violence in European cities to violence in American cities, but on closer examination that follows, too. Compare American cities.

What is the condition of the core of the Liberal cities in America? Take, for example, the most Liberal city in America. Detroit's condition is a result of the same misdirected social engineering practiced nationwide by the French.

This is a country which rails against anglicization of the French language and resents American culture while paradoxically abandoning the defense of its own.

Wreck a McDonald's? $Thousands.
Trade blood for oil with Saddam? $Millions.
Defend themselves? Impayable.

Lafayette, we are in Iraq.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Softwood Lumber


I mentioned
, in an earlier post, that I didn't have recent info about this Canadian hot-button, except that Canada was probably giving away trees below cost.

Two excellent posts prove that true:
Martin playing with fire on softwood lumber

And TOTH to Kate McMillan for the link:
Softwood: Time To Get On Side With The US

Paul Martin: Full of bluster and anti-Americanism, signifying nothing. Eh?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Government of Judicialators


The bitter polarization over court appointments is clear evidence that we are a country not of laws, but of men.

If every judge, right or left, refrained from applying an individual "judicial philosophy" what could be the debate? Unfortunately, when our esteemed Senators ask questions about "judicial philosophy" they're looking for indications of specific social bias, not adherence to Constitutional principle.

The judicial philosophy from which citizens of the United States are supposed to benefit was described by those who wrote the Constitution. They used neither the words "strict constructionism" nor "living document." They expected neutrality. They got judicialators.

Judicial legislation has a long statist history; meaning that its penumbra has emanated from every political direction.

Plessy vs. Ferguson, for example, was a decision of legislatively inclined judges. It extended a Lousiana law to the entire country and enshrined the concept of "separate but equal", even though the 14th amendment clearly did not* anticipate forcing blacks and whites to sit in separate railway cars. A plain reading of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment would tell you Plessy was decided wrongly:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Even if the Court was unwilling to say that any law preventing a person, black or white, from occupying a particular public space was not an abridgement of "the privileges or immunities of citizens", it could have turned the case down. Cowardly, of course, but without any interference from the Supreme Court this pernicious doctrine would likely not have spread nationwide and would probably have been short-lived in Louisiana. The railway companies opposed the Lousiana statute from a market perspective, they had to be forced to it.

"First, do no harm.", apparently does not apply to judges.
Justice Henry Brown, writing for the eight-person majority:
That [the Separate Car Act] does not conflict with the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery...is too clear for argument...A statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races -- a distinction which is founded in the color of the two races and which must always exist so long as white men are distinguished from the other race by color -- has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races...The object of the [Fourteenth Amendment] was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either.
Justice John Harlan, alone in his dissent, set the stage for
Brown vs. Board of Education, which overturned Plessy 52 years later.
Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law...In my opinion, the judgment this day rendered will, in time, prove to be quite as pernicious as the decision made by this tribunal in the Dred Scott case...The present decision, it may well be apprehended, will not only stimulate aggressions, more or less brutal and irritating, upon the admitted rights of colored citizens, but will encourage the belief that it is possible, by means of state enactments, to adopted the recent amendments of the Constitution.
Brown is generally viewed as activism, but it was simply righting the earlier activist wrong.

This is relevant to Judge Samuel Alito's SCOTUS nomination. If you read Charles Krauthammer's
piece you can detect Alito's refusal to
[deliberately confuse] a constitutional judgment (almost invariably based on the Supreme Court's own precedents) with a personal policy preference.
If we were a government of laws that sentence would have been unnecessary.

Alito's decisions should give both left and right wing judicial pragmatists pause. This is probably as good an indication as you can get that he'll be a tolerable Supreme.

*This is quite different from "did not clearly".

Friday, November 04, 2005

Soap Operatics

I've never seen ER, but I know the agenda.

It's apparent in fiction such as West Wing, Commander in Chief, Medicine Woman reruns, and the NBC Evening News. I know about these mind-suckers because my wife watched, or watches, all but the last.

In her defense I'll say this, unlike most people she actually seems to be able separate the statist propaganda on TV soap opera from the travesty of the Liberal MSM. Further, I knew her need for external stimulation was high when I married her. Arguments about rewarding bastards like Donald Sutherland by watching them on TV are futile. She can ignore their politics, I can't..

Back to ER. November 3rd's episode contained this dinner table blessing (
TOTH to Neale News ):
“Thank you, Lord, for the blessings we are about to receive. Look over those now who cannot be with us, including the countrymen who fight to protect us in an overseas war founded on lies told to us by our government.”
Liberal media? They disgorge, you decide.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

CAP-italism

The nattering about oil company profits and hydrocarbon fuel prices has reached an RPM where it is a populist background whine.

On one hand, we have Fox News’ John Gibson, who should know better, and Bill O’Reilly, who obviously would not. On the same hand, there’s Maria Cantwell (Democrat, Washington) who would like to return to Richard Nixon’s (Republican, Nether Regions) price controls, and George Dubya Bush (Random Dogmatist, Dubya’s World) braying about “price gouging.”

In between (this would be the middle finger if we follow the analogy closely), we’ve got Gov. Mitch Romney (RINO, Massachusetts) barking about “white collar looting” and Gov. Jeb Bush (Sycophant, Florida) forcing gas stations to install generators to power the gasoline pumps, after the State-granted-monopoly power companies failed to keep the gas flowing.

Why not demand they build hurricane shelters big enough to drive around in and wind-proof power lines while you're at it, Jeb?

From Gibson to Bush the Sunnier, the gasoline pimps have the combined economic acumen of an artichoke.

This anti-capitalist, anti-market rhetoric is all the more remarkable for its amnesia. Remember the gas lines when Carter was President? Hours waiting to get gas into your “Killer” Rabbit?

And does anyone remember what happened to flu-vaccines when they were price capped? It was a big deal in the 2004 election and the Democrats are raising the issue again: We don’t have any serious national capacity to produce them.

What the Democrats are hoping you’ll forget is that Hillary Clinton caused the shortage by driving the producers out of business in the US. “For the children.”

"We cannot handle the threats we face today with a broken flu vaccine system," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.., who with Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced legislation Thursday that would, among other things, financially guarantee a market in return for more vaccine production.
Let us not say the woman does not possess balls gall, her latest solution is to guarantee a market. Maybe she really believes “if you broke it, you bought it.” Possibly she is following the Soviet example of guaranteeing both employment and markets for everything from cars (“Not your father’s ZIL – or your great grand-child’s either.”) to bread. Their lines, all of them, were longer than Carter’s.

They imported all their flu vaccine, too, just like we do now that Hillary’s mucked with it.

C’mon folks, even if you have Statist Selective Memory Syndrome about 70’s gas lines and last weeks headlines on flu vaccine, and you’ve never even driven a Yugo* - surely you can recall the Soviet Union? They had price caps on everything, you couldn’t buy anything and you probably wouldn’t have wanted it if you could.

Not that US governments haven’t tried their own brand of production suppression. Really organized crime Government has drubbed us for twice the oil company take:

Since 1977, governments collected more than $1.34 trillion, after adjusting for inflation, in gasoline tax revenues—more than twice the amount of domestic profits earned by major U.S. oil companies during the same period.

... but you don’t hear the oil companies demanding that the government supply gas stations with generators.

Finally, “huge oil company profits” is misleading. Exxon-Mobil’s recently posted record profit of $9.92 billion on revenues of $100.717 billion represents a margin of 9.85%. Pretty much “business as usual.” And not stellar compared to major S & P 500 sectors like financials, health care, and technology, which achieve around 15 to 20% profit margins.

If Big Oil is profiteering from recent disasters, logic dictates that its margins would have increased considerably. In fact, Exxon-Mobil has increased costs that offset profit. Repairing oil platforms and refinery infrastructure costs billions.

Governmental red tape is strangling energy companies’ investment in new refineries and drilling operations. So what is the response of Congressional Republican grifters leaders House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist? More regulation.

This cynical “windfall profits” campaign, by the same bi-partisan coalition who brought us the $250 million Alaska “bridge to nowhere”, is nothing more than posturing. It is statist politics at its worst.

*I know this is not a Russian car, it was Soviet Bloc, and by all reports it was better than the efforts of mother Russia. Also, Yugoslavia made enough to export. Why any were imported is the interesting question. Go figure.

3-Nov, 6:17PM, minor updates

Is Paris Burning?


Yes, and here's how Equal Opportunities Minister*, Azouz Begag, and other social activists would pour oil on the waters:
"it is in fighting the discrimination that victimizes youths that order is re-established, the order of equality," [requires a] "massive investment plan" to cure suburban ills"
Where have I heard this before? Welcome to the application of multi-culti social welfare to the indigent jihad.

The article uses the word "muslim" only once in a vague demographic throwaway, though religion is clearly the excuse for the riots, and the oft mentioned "youths" are overwhelmingly of that religion.

Two muslim teenagers died from electrocution and a third was seriously injured, when they climbed into an electrical sub-station to avoid police they thought were chasing them. From this we get 5 days, and counting, of rioting.

The good news is that the riots have forced French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, protector of Saddam Hussein and hero of thwarting UN resolution 1441, to cancel a trip to Canada.

Now he has to be thinking about forming a coalition to invade suburban Paris.

*Trademark, George Orwell, 1984 - or it should be.