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Archive for November, 2005

An argument for profit

I saw this post and had thought the author (DL) was pretty much right on. A competitive free-market economy promotes innovation and increases the standards of living for it’s productive members.
Not to dither on the subject and let the late hour of the evening cause me to mis-speak myself, I merely wanted to give the author a thumbs-up and encourage you to read it. bmpharmacy.com

The Author’s Blog
Gotten by way of The Right Wing Nut House. (Hey Look! Another carnival!)
Which was referenced by GullyBorg’s link on Why TV news is dying.

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TuCents is worth a few cents

Yah!! We’re worth $1,129.08 !!!
Here’s the original site. Thanks to Halle’s Smooooth Words o’ Wisdom for the link.


My blog is worth $1,129.08.
How much is your blog worth?

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Federal rights via Assisted Suicide

Here’s a biggie. Gonzales v. Oregon (formerly Oregon v. Ashcroft)
To sum things up;

“Congress enacted the Controlled Substance Act (”CSA”) in 1970 as part of a comprehensive federal scheme to regulate and control certain drugs and other substances. A 1984 Amendment to the Act authorized the Attorney General to prohibit medical practitioners’ use of a controlled substance if that use was “inconsistent with the public interest.” In 2001, Attorney General Ashcroft determined that Oregon physicians’ use of a federally registered controlled substance to facilitate physician-assisted suicide was not a legitimate medical purpose, despite an Oregon statute which authorized such use.
In Oregon’s suit, brought to enjoin Ashcroft from giving any legal effect to his directive, the District Court ruled for Oregon and issued a permanent injunction, and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Oregon argues that since states traditionally regulate medical practices, Gonzales (the new Attorney General, replacing Ashcroft) must show that Congress expressly intended to authorize the Attorney General to make such a determination. Gonzales argues that the Attorney General’s reasonable interpretation of a federal regulation is entitled to deference, even without a clear statement of legislative intent, and that Ashcroft’s interpretation of the CSA is reasonable.
In the alternative, Gonzales argues that Ashcroft’s interpretation is consistent with Congress’s intent in passing the CSA and the 1984 Amendment. This case will decide the fate the Oregon statute by either expanding or limiting the federal government’s authority over traditionally state-regulated medical practices. This case also has far-reaching moral and ethical implications that go beyond the scope of states’ rights.”

The whole issue of Assisted Suicide is a personal right. The Constitution upholds personal rights throughout, and especially in the ninth amendment. But this particular issue relates to states rights vs federal rights. As I see this issue, the federal government does not have the right, under the constitution [tenth amendment], to regulate how the states manage medical practice.

With that said above, here I diverge into my own internalization of the ensuing debate.

The contrary argument could be waged based on the power-grab congress has been performing, under section 8 of the constitution (citing “Regulation of inter-state trade”). Some would say that any practice that has an effect on the trade between states, allows congress to regulate that practice. Given that interpretation of the constitution, congress indeed would be allowed to to regulate the medical practice by way of drug sales across state lines.
(Example: Wickard v. Filburn. Where a farmer was found out of compliance of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 (an act to regulate the amount of wheat sold across state boundries) for growing more wheat than allowed. The expressed reason for the wheat was for feeding this person’s farm animals, and none for use outside of his own property.)

But I invite you to look at the wording of Article 1, section 8 again.

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

(my emphasis)

This section has been interpreted to mean that congress can regulate the industries that produce goods that travel between the states (i.e. Interstate Trade). And then interpreted again to mean that congress can regulate those goods that impact the industries that produce the goods that travel between the states (such as what happened in the above Wickard v. Filburn.)

I say that Article 1 does not allow congress to regulate the industries or the goods that cross the borders. Only that they can regulate how the individual states handle the trade between themselves. To relate again to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, Congress was right (In theory, at least. I have not studied the Act, so I can’t vouch for the practice.) to attempt to regulate the amount of wheat travelling between state borders for the purpose of preventing shortages. But Congress did not have the power (under article 1 of the constitution) to regulate what happened within the state’s borders. Let alone what happened within the farmer’s property borders.

This over-reaching interpretation of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 by the supreme court has helped pave the way for the kinds of attitudes of congress that allow them to think they can regulate the way doctors treat their own patients.

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Nosy Nanny State

Virginia and other states, including Oregon, have already started treating cold and allergy remedies as more dangerous than ammunition. In Virginia, you cannot buy any product containing psuedoephedrine except directly from a live pharmacist after showing ID and signing a register. Another state has criminalized buying more than 3 boxes. Imagine that. Buy three boxes of Sudafed (about 2 weeks worth), you’re legal. Put a fourth box in your shopping cart and go to jail.

In America.

And what good purpose is served by the pending federal legislation that takes this silly idea national? Lets see.

“It will cut down on meth use.” - No, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, some 80 percent of the illicit meth consumed in the U.S. comes from large-scale Mexican traffickers, not local labs. Shut down 100% of the local labs, and you’ve only profited the smuggler without inconveniencing the user.

“It will shut down local meth labs, since if they can’t get psuedoephedrine they can’t make meth.” - No, other recipes for meth use other precursors such as ephedrine, methylamine, phenylalanine, and phenyl-2-propanone (which itself can be synthesized in a variety of ways). The labs will simply move to another recipe.

“It will inconvenience people and make them think we’re serious about the problem without doing anything positive.” - Bingo.

And it’s not just the criminalization of a perfectly safe over-the-counter remedy, or the elimination from the market of the less expensive forms of that remedy. There’s also this bit of insanity to check out.

Last summer state and federal agents arrested 49 convenience store clerks and owners in Georgia on charges that they sold pseudoephedrine and other supplies that can be used to make meth, including matches, charcoal, anti-freeze, coffee filters, aluminum foil, and cat litter. The charges carry penalties of up to 25 years in prison as well as fines and asset forfeiture. For selling cat litter.

In America.

So next time you have a runny nose, while you’re waiting in line to buy that more expensive box of tablets, go ahead and feel secure from the dangerous meth lab.

When will you take time to worry about your government?

from Hit & Run Reason

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Kennedy on Progressives and vice versa

“What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.” ~John F. Kennedy, September 14, 1960

I found this quote, with no comment at all attached, as a post on a blog that I’m really not picking on. I’ve seen this before and had a similar reaction.

It seems to me a bit odd for a contemporary “Progressive” to wrap himself in one of Kennedy’s quotes. Like a 40 year old threadbare jacket, it does nothing to keep the winds out. A grumpy old independent like me sees a lot of holes.

“someone who is soft in his policies abroad” - Like ‘give peace a chance’ in 2002, after 10 years of peaceful containment. Like ‘bring our troops home now’ rather than finishing the job in Iraq and Afganistan like we did in Japan and Germany.

someone “who is against local government” - Like thinking Roe v Wade is good law, or Gonzales v Raich is good, or No Child Left Behind, or that United States v Lopez or United States v Morrison are dangerous, or that ‘public welfare’ is an enumerated power of Congress, or … well, you get the idea.

someone “who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar” - Federal Income Tax = 35%, Social Security and Medicare Tax = 15.3%. Does anybody think there’s no fat? BTW, since 1960 the per taxpayer taxes in constant dollars have gone from ~$9500 to near $18,000. Is the only concern how to get more taxpayer dollars?

“then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of Liberal.” - Using these arguments, and the record of the last 4 decades, it is amply demonstrated that this country has been dominated by exactly “that kind of Liberal”.

“someone who looks ahead and not behind” - Bush is Hitler. Iraq is Vietnam. Arab culture doesn’t allow them to have a functioning democracy. Racial quotas and affirmative action.

“someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions” - Well, see the previous item for some of today’s non-rigid reactions. Then think about the ‘Progressive’ reaction to the death of socialism, to all the UN failures, to school vouchers, to using private charity organizations, and other recent “new ideas”.

“someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health” - Driving vaccine makers out of the country, and obstetricians and trauma physicians out of rural areas, with obscene liability concepts and awards.

“– their housing” - Black families destroyed by welfare regulation, the ‘Progressive’ love of urban planning and eminent domain. The universally demonstrated fact that rent control eliminates new low-income housing from the market.

“– their schools” - Utterly failed public schools with no chance to learn and no choice available to the poor, opposition to vouchers that would give that choice.

“– their jobs” - Choking out jobs with oppressive regulation like Sarbanes-Oxley, or destroying the ability of individuals to provide jobs with huge and incomprehensible employment law volumes. Allowing unions to push wages to the point that jobs go overseas. Huge class action lawsuits that benefit only the lawyers while bankrupting employers.

“– their civil rights” - The bipartison Patriot Act. Sneak and peek searches, Internet regulation and wiretapping. Free Speech zones. Gun bans.

“– and their civil liberties” - McCain-Feingold restrictions on what private citizens can say about politics and politicians. Using environmental law to put farmers in jail for farming their own land. Asserting ‘public good’ to prevent the private use of private land. The War on Drugs.

“someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad” - When most of that grip today is simply the echo of the domestic stalemate and suspicions created by the ‘Progressives’ themselves.

This is why I can’t understand the ‘Progressive’s love of Kennedy. The modern ‘Progressive’ is in general everything that Kennedy was not, and is not what Kennedy was. The ‘Progressive’ of today vilifies anyone who actually tries to implement the vision of Kennedy.

So what’s with wearing such a threadbare and ill-fitting coat?

Update: Welcome to everyone from Kazablog. More outrage (if you like) and possible agreement on our main page as well.

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SONY the Cracker

It took a while, but somebody in authority opened up the lawbooks and noticed that what SONY did wasn’t just rude. It’s a crime.

Well, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott isn’t really filing criminal charges yet. A shame, really. If I distributed software that included hidden code (aka Trojan Horse), said Trojan Horse taking over parts of the operation of the computer, hiding itself, and enabling and facilitating me or others to illegally access or destroy that computer or its data, then I’d have the men with guns knocking on my door. It just happens to be a felony. Does it cease to be a crime if I can get this software on a million computers instead of a dozen?

Then where’s the criminal case being filed against SONY? They’ve even admitted their intent, and the intent falls within the defined boundaries of criminal action.

You can even make the case that they developed or used ‘technology intended to bypass protection mechanisms’ in their human engineered crack attack, and thus violated DMCA.

I want justice.

I’m sick and tired of seeing individuals prosecuted simply because they want to view the DVDs they bought on a viewer other than the ones made by a big company. To have one of the very same big companies commit wholesale cracking and computer crime without receiving the same kind of serious penalty will, in my mind, totally invalidate any moral reason to defend any of these companies’ IP rights.

Sauce for the goose, or stop giving me the bird.

Update: It seems that SONY was also violating software copyright in their little excursion into hacking.

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Microsoft vs Linux: More Secure?

In a convoluted fashion, I happened upon this blog post as a refutation of this study funded by microsoft, thanks to Slashdot.

While reading the above blog post, I was struck by the comments stating that “…it is far better to start off with the assumption that a systenm is insecure, and that it is your job as the admin to defend and secure that system. This assumption applies equally to both Linux and Windows systems…”. While it is a reasonable assumption that any given operating system needs some tuning out-of-the-box, it has been my experience that windows is much harder to secure than most distributions of Linux.

Microsoft Windows less secure because there’s less that can be done to make it secure. While I’m a big fan of firewalls, I’ve been forced to look to third party applications for my network security. But even that is not enough, with the multitudes of adware, spyware, viruses, worms, and other malware that can and often do bring down the entire system. That disregards the little hiccups and quirks that windows is completely willing to do to itself that causes a break in the workday via reboot.
Everything in windows is inter-related. This makes windows fairly quick when booting up, but also means that when something is patched it probably breaks three other things. This in itself can be a reason for attempting to rollback the patch, or (in the worst case) require a completely new installation - with the attendant loss of data, time, patience, etc..

Linux, on the other hand, is more secure by design. It is a modular approach, where everything is effectively third-party-software, that makes Linux so secure. If one application goes belly-up, or is comprimised by an outside attacker, or is otherwise not doing what it’s supposed to, then it’s a simple matter to kill off the offending process and either restart it, replace it, or patch it. Nothing else is touched. Your webserver application doesn’t affect your fileserver application, which doesn’t affect your game of solitaire.
Then there is the open source model of software, which most of the Linux software falls into. (I say most, because there is closed source software in the linux world. They aren’t evil for being closed, it’s merely the choice of the developer.) Open source software is a program that has the source-code (the program code in a form that is human readable) available so any tom, dick, or harry can see what makes this program tick.
It is exactly this ability to review the software that makes open source software so secure. Open source software is generally looked at by dozens or hundreds of people, looking for ways to improve it, see how it will break thier system, or accellerating the patching process by finding the flaws faster than can be done in closed-source software. These people are doing it on thier own time, from the comforts of home, when they want to. As opposed to proprietary, closed-source software, which is generally coded as fast as possible by half a dozen people in order to get it out the door as fast as possible.

Windows machines are inherently less secure, because microsoft doesn’t want it more secure. While Linux is more secure because the people who use it can make it more secure.

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CDC Comments on Disease

Sometimes I think the national Center for Disease Control has forgotten just what a disease is. They were a major backer of that bit about tobacco, and seem to be a driving force behind obesity control, neither of which have anything like a microbial, bacterial or viral agent.

So it’s good to see that they actually have something to say about avian flu. In this Scientific American article CDC director Gerberding is quoted as saying repeatedly “We have only one enemy, and that is complacency.”

Perhaps public complacency is the foreseeable result when a critical agency like the CDC ignores it’s primary mission to take on the cause de jure?

Hat tip Instapundit

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What Race of Middle Earth do you belong to?

I’m not sure what it means (or just how they figured it) but I wound up as:

Numenorean
Numenorean

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

What really bakes my noodle, is when I dithered and changed my movie preference from ‘Comedy’ to ‘Action’ I went to:

Rohirrim
Rohirrim

Go figure.

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All the Right Points?

Sometimes, I dispair of finding basic critical thinking skills amongst certain groups of people. One of the latest reasons is this.

Norman Podhoretz has penned a version of the ‘everyone said they had WMD’ line defending President Bush and Co. in the new edition of Commentary. Call it the higher mumbojumbo. Kevin Drum does a very nice and understated job of dismantling the argument. It’s well worth a few moments of your time to read (Kevin, not Norm). He hits all the right points.

– Josh Marshall

The substantial, footnoted and well organized Podhoretz article set out to rebuke the ceaseless shrill chant of “Bush lied, people died” by pointing out that “Bush lied” is itself a lie. The response by Kevin Drum that Josh Marshal cites above is, by comparision, short, devoid of facts, and filled with the types of logical fallacies that are only brought out when there are no better arguments available to the writer.

The basic thesis of both articles is whether or not Bush lied about Iraqi WMDs prior to the war. Drum’s article, at 6 short paragraphs, is easy to analyze for content, so let’s look at his assertions.

INR, for example, thought the African uranium was bogus. DIA thought our prime witness for Iraqi-al-Qaeda WMD collaboration was lying. The Air Force found the evidence on drones to be laughable. DOE didn’t believe in the aluminum tubes.

On INR and ‘African uranium’, Drum carefully avoids describing what was bogus, so he fails to identify a lie. al-Qaeda is not properly part of the thesis. Nor are the ‘drones’. DOE’s opinion on the tubes’ use in centrifuges was in direct contradiction to the French who tested them, who according to Wilkerson:

said, we have just spun aluminum tubes, and by God, we did it to this RPM, et cetera, et cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges. Otherwise, why would you have such exquisite instruments?

In Drum’s 3rd paragraph, we have:

Nor does Podhoretz apply himself to the entire period before the war. He stops his investigation at the end of 2002. But that’s not when we went to war. We went to war in March 2003, and by that time UN inspectors had been combing Iraq for months with the help of U.S. intelligence. They found nothing

Not true.

Podhoretz included the 2003 State of the Union Address. We presented our conclusion to the U.N on February 5th. Drum leaves out of consideration the number of WMDs such as poison gas shells and bombs that have been found and reported. Does Drum think you can just make a phone call and have U.N. resolutions passed and tanks moving in 24 hours? One month or so is not bad. And about those U.N. inspections, Wilkerson says:

when you see a satellite photograph of all the signs of the chemical-weapons ASP—Ammunition Supply Point—with chemical weapons, and you match all those signs with your matrix on what should show a chemical ASP, and they’re there, you have to conclude that it’s a chemical ASP, especially when you see the next satellite photograph which shows the UN inspectors wheeling in their white vehicles with black markings on them to that same ASP, and everything is changed, everything is clean. . . . But George [Tenet] was convinced, John McLaughlin [Tenet’s deputy] was convinced, that what we were presented [for Powell’s UN speech] was accurate.

Just for the record, Wilkerson is not one of the big defenders of the Bush administration these days.

Drum is even more dismissive with his “And of course there’s the nukes.” paragraph. But nukes are just about all he’s brought up so far. Unfortunately, he almost completely ignores the fact that bio and chemical devices are also WMDs. Drum not only fails to dismantle Podhoretz’s argument, he fails almost completely to address it. He seems to leave out facts entirely, and to rely on his readers to be sympathetic and uncritical. In this, Josh Marshall was entirely reliable.

“Hits all the right points”? I score both Drum and Marshall as pointlessly shooting a clean miss.

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Ex-Californian

At least half the people in Oregon can write an essay on why they left California. The recent special election results are a good way to detail the reasons a good number leave. Understanding that reasonable people will disagree, here’s my take by the numbers.

73 - Confirming the right of a child to kill an unborn baby without even talking with her parents.

This is the only non-emergency medical procedure you can perform on a minor without parental permission. This is not about protecting a woman’s right to choose. A 15 year old girl is not a woman. This is destroying the parents’ ability to exercise their proper authority, for no real social benefit.

74 - Providing that two years seniority deserves a guaranteed lifetime job as a teacher.

Tenure is not even reasonably necessary for elementary and high school teachers. They are not expected to publish, to research, or even to deal with controversy. They are expected to teach basic skills and scholarship using state and federally mandated methods and materials. Delaying tenure until after five successful years is no hardship, but is unacceptable to the people of this great state.

75 - Validating the right of the union bosses to spend the workers’ money as they see fit.

If a worker takes the current ‘opt-out’ to prevent their dues from being used for political purposes they disagree with, they also lose the right to vote in the union. The people of the state think thats just fine.

76 - Rejecting the concept of limiting the size of the state government.

The people endorse raising public debt, raising taxes and lowering the state’s credit rating even further.

77 - Endorsing the idea that elected officials should draw their own district boundaries.

No chance of reasonable challenges or new ideas, the people prefer long term career politicians that cater only to the extremists in both parties.

78,79,80 - At least they rejected artificial price caps on medicines, bounty-hunting lawsuits, and the utterly destructive energy regulation that got them in so much trouble earlier.

So you have a large state full of people who like having bad credit ratings, high debt, high taxes, entrenched special interests, unions that don’t represent workers, public employees who don’t have to perform, and kids that don’t have to talk to their parents.

The question isn’t why so many people have left. The real question is why so many productive people choose to stay.

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