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“The fall of content’s kingdom”

Wow.

This is probably the best description of the woes that the media providers (movie and music advocates are a large chunk of those providers) are experiencing, in relationship to their customers and piracy. It’s long and seems to repeat itself a few times, but I think it’s a great read.

Thanks to The Register.

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A New Direction, an Old Message

The Democrats have A New Direction which has some people comparing it with the Contract With America. I don’t think the two can be properly compared.

The Contract included (mostly) concrete and verifiable promises. You knew up front what you were going to get. The New Direction includes (mostly) fuzzy platitudes and indefinite statements. The two are nowhere near the same thing, except perhaps that the Democrats are hoping for the same energy as the Contract generated for House Republicans.

I don’t think it will. It’s just a restatement of the same old Fascist/Socialist nonsense that Democrats have always presented, and betrays total ignorance of the most basic concepts of economics.

Make Health Care More Affordable: Fix the prescription drug program by putting people ahead of drug companies and HMO’s, eliminating wasteful subsidies, negotiating lower drug prices and ensuring the program works for all seniors; invest in stem cell and other medical research.

The only things really solid here are reducing the incentives for private drug development, no means testing of benefits, and more government money for basic research that nobody will turn into drugs because it won’t pay. The rest is fuzzy.

Lower Gas Prices and Achieve Energy Independence: Crack down on price gouging; eliminate billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies and use the savings to provide consumer relief and develop American alternatives, including biofuels; promote energy efficient technology.

Ignoring the facts that reducing gas prices makes energy independence harder and less valuable, that significant price gouging doesn’t exist, that consumer ‘energy rebates’ have already died once, that biofuels are just more billions in subsidies, and that energy efficiency is already promoted by it’s cost savings, this still has no direct statement of how they intend to do these things. More touchy-feely, no real plan.

Help Working Families: Raise the minimum wage; repeal tax giveaways that encourage companies to move jobs overseas.

Increase the cost of most low-end and union labor, and companies won’t need tax incentives to seek out lower cost foreign labor. Do Democrats even know what percentage of working families have the primary wage-earner in a minimum wage job? This is just more pandering to unions.

Cut College Costs: Make college tuition deductible from taxes; expand Pell grants and slash student loan costs.

Let’s see, the supply of college diplomas is fixed, primarily by government regulation preventing new competition. So they’re going to lower costs by subsidizing demand, and for some reason they don’t expect prices to rise to a new equalibrium point. I call that dreaming in a teenager, and irresponsibly stupid in a lawmaker. College tuition costs will go down only when either fewer people want to go to college, or when more colleges are available. Nothing else will do it.

Ensure Dignified Retirement: Prevent the privatization of Social Security; expand savings incentives; and ensure pension fairness.

Because having more money if you invest smarter is undignified, because people really should want to put after-tax money into things like CD’s where they can earn less than inflation AND pay taxes on what they earn, and because nationalizing all corporate pensions so they can be managed just like the Social Security Administration is an obviously good idea. Yeah, making 100% of retirees dependant on the government is the way to give them dignity.

Require Fiscal Responsibility: Restore the budget discipline of the 1990s that helped eliminate deficits and spur record economic growth.

The discipline that the Democratic party fought so hard against? That they demonized? That they claimed would starve seniors and turn the poor out onto the streets? I should trust them after that kind of rhetoric against discipline, when they now claim to embrace it? Why? Did they ever say they were wrong?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in favor of eliminating subsidies and reducing protectionism. But everything here that says ‘eliminate subsidy’ is directly followed with ‘and spend the money on’ something else. So all they give me is that the Democrats will subsidize something else. That’s not progress in my direction.

This entire wish list relies on people either being completely ignorant of the economic consequences of these actions, or being willing to read into the statements what they want to hear, rather than what the Democrats have said.

This list points up that the Democrats really have swallowed the ‘Positive Rights’ kool-aid. Since there is no such thing as positive rights that do not rest on a violation of natural ‘Negative Rights’, I still have to believe that a Libertarian Democrat is a contradiction in terms. This list reinforces that opinion.

via The QandO Blog

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Carnival of Liberty 50

The weekly compilation of articles on the topic of Life, Liberty and Property. This week is the 50th Carnival of Liberty, and I felt the most appropriate theme would be ‘Fifty’ itself in all it’s glory and permutations. Or what I could come up with, at least.

So the obvious place to start is the black birthday. Or, to steal a line from the Great Dark Horde, “You have reached the age you are, your demise can not be far”. Articles on the pessimistic side.

Ogre at Ogre’s Politics and Views shows in NC House Bill 2213 how one man can hold basic rights away from the citizens.

Matt Johnston at Going to the Mat presents Endorsement by School Newspaper Is Questioned. I thinks somebody’s sense of proportion died, in this case.

Steve Faber rings the alarm with The AMT – If You’re Not Scared, You Damn Well Should Be! posted at Debt Free.

“Next time you go to your doctor, know that his or her membership organization is prescribing coercion as a fix for America’s medical ills.” In American Medical Coercion, Revisited posted at MedicaLiberty.

My henchman Matt has a post about America’s no-speech precedent, where he lists a few of the current exceptions to ‘free’ speech.

NStalker at Pragmatic Speak, has You Can’t Legislate Personal Responsibility - But They Try and Try with a follow-up article, More On Personal Responsibility - The KFC Thing

TKC at The Pubcrawler looks at a recent Supreme Court decision and asks “And what of private property rights?“

Lisa at The London Fog cries out against excesses with So much for the checks and balances in our fine democracy.

Next is the realm of the ‘Five-Oh’, where police powers and legal questions are discussed.

Doug Mataconis at Below The Beltway points out wrong-headed posturing in the Senate in The Flag And Freedom

Mapmaster at The London Fog points out a well greased slope with First they came for the vending machines…, while his fellow Londoner, Lisa, appears again describing problems with hate crime legislation in Diversity Discriminates While Government Dictates

As we travel from ‘You can’t say that’ to ‘You must say this’, Matt Barr at New World Man presents We’re all pro-choice here!

Richard G. Combs at Combs Spouts Off presents one more in a long, long list with Ho, hum — more airport security madness

To illustrate that the only thing keeping us safe from the encroaching police state is their own sheer incompetence, Michael Hampton at Homeland Stupidity presents The Keystone Stasi

And of course, the concept of 50/50 leads us to issues of compromise solutions and mixing separate things to achieve something new and different.

The latest new and different critter is discussed by Boxing Alcibiades at Happycrow’s Eyeball Factory in his Libertarian Democrats and the Equality Imperative.

Don Surber at Don Surber identifies a compromise not worth making with Fat tax doesn’t work. A highlight: “We just happen to have a soft drinks tax in West Virginia that covers those sugary drinks. Have had it since 1951. And after 55 years of this nanny tax, West Virginia ranks third in adult obesity and third in adult diabetes.”

A delicious irony served up as “Public institutions will always need a private safety net to catch those who fall through the cracks of the public system” by Michael Hampton at Homeland Stupidity where his Reality-based education describes a reality where “the public schools are dismal failures, especially with severely disabled children, and the private schools are picking up the slack”.

Jon Swift at Jon Swift presents Guantanamo: Kafkaesque, in a Good Way

John posts Hating America at hell’s handmaiden, with the question “How in the hell is protest anti-American?”.

Lonnie Hodge gives us China’s Spyware: The New Manchurian Candidate may be You posted at One Man Bandwidth.

Jack Yoest proposes a modest compromise with Kill Big Bird, Buy a Raptor posted at Jack Yoest. After all, “There’s a war on. It’s been in all the papers. And we all have to pay for it. Sacrifice somewhere.”

Finally, we harken back to the 1950’s for an era of optimism in culture and technology, with articles in a more positive vein.

Brad Warbiany of The Unrepentant Individual, seeing that Brinkmanship Ebbs between China and Taiwan, is cautiously optimistic about their future.

Dana at Principled Discovery keeps us thinking about history (circa 50 AD) with Liberty, the Roman System of Acquired Privilege

The reading of Hudson v. Michigan and the Constitution over at Liberty Corner is that “Contrary to libertarian orthodoxy, the Supreme Court’s decision in Hudson v. Michigan serves liberty and is consistent with the original meaning of the Constitution.”

While it might be a bit tangential to the Carnival, I love a good discussion of the source of Rights. Francois Tremblay gives the case for Why Anarchy is Most Conductive to Natural Rights (part 1) posted at The Radical Libertarian. IndianCowboy answers with Why Anarchy Isn’t A Satisfactory Protector of Natural Rights, Part I posted at OK so I’m not really a cowboy, as the two continue a running conversation.

Also tangential, but interesting, is Rick Sincere’s My Lunch with Dick Cheney posted at Rick Sincere News and Thoughts.

Michael McCullough at Stingray: a blog for salty Christians presents Al Gore and some inconvenient truths about global warming, and gives several reasons why the demon technology is really just a whipping boy.

Tom Hanna at Tom Rants spreads the underreported optimistic news of Federal Deficit Dropping Without Tax Increases or Spending Cuts

And finally, apropos of nothing I know of, NStalker asks, “NASCAR And O’Canada?“

And that’s the carnival for this week. Next week, the 51st Carnival of Liberty will be at Below The Beltway.

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America’s no-speech precedent

According to the 1st amendment to the constitution, Free speech in america is protected. Fact.

Except when talking about politics near an election day, except when talking about copy protection techniques, and now except when talking about online gambling in washington state. Where one of the first battles under the flag of this washington bill, is involving someone who was not actually gambling, but merely talking about it.

Every day, the protected free speech of the first amendment is seeming a little more like fantasy. Between the DMCA, the industries trying to legislate their place in our culture, and bills similar to this one, it’s no wonder that businesses are moving out of the country and american individuals are trying to maintain their freedoms by moving their ideas outside our borders. So is that what america coming too? You can do what you want, as long as you don’t do it here?

Found via slashdot

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Carnival of Liberty XLIX

Carnival of Liberty XLIX is up at Liberty Corner this week, with a motley collection of thoughts and contributions.

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Warning About Nullification

Over at Positive Liberty, Timothy Sandefur has a post about Jury Nullification. To snip out the central question (edited):

jury nullification is obviously an important and legitimate part of the judicial system … but … for a juror to lie during voir dire (the “stealth approach”) is a crime, and brazen lawlessness in the jury box—the one place where the law ought to be most carefully weighed and respected—sets an extremely dangerous precedent.”

So, jury nullification is important, legitimate, and even “the point of having a jury system”, but it’s now against the law, so give it up. He trots out reasons not to, even the times that the judges and lawyers, appalled at the freedom the jury might have, have decided to restrict that freedom, but he ignores the elephant in the room.

If the government is violating your civil rights (in this case, your right to judge the law), why are you morally obligated to obey the law and cooperate with the violation?

So I have several points of disagreement. Of course, my disagreements are from a moral standpoint, and not a legal one.

“For a juror to lie to get on a jury so as to nullify the outcome is contempt of court.” Okay, but what if I lie simply because it’s none of their business whether or not I might later decide to nullify?

“brazen lawlessness in the jury box—the one place where the law ought to be most carefully weighed and respected” This is, in my opinion, a self-contradictory statement. The entire point of nullification is weighing the law. The jurors must not be bound by the law if they are to be weighing it.

By characterizing nullification as: “Choosing to participate in order to throw a wrench into the works”, he shows his prejudice. The wrench is the laws depriving jurors of their civil right to judge the law. The ’stealth option’ is the repair to the system.

The point of the article is that nullification will not end the drug war. I agree. But handing control back to the jury that they are entitled to exercise, is a fight worth fighting all on it’s own.

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Conservatives Against Intelligent Design

There’s a new blog around named
Conservatives Against Intelligent Design. I like some of what they say, but I can’t support them. I think they’re fighting the wrong fight.

IMO, the ID issue came up primarily in response to just one thing. Students being taught about evolution, followed by the statement in the classroom “So there’s no need for God”. Granted, the young earthers have other issues with it. But if you accept the young earth theory, you also accept that God has deliberately tried to fool people, so why do you complain when He is successful? Except for young earth theories, there is no real problem reconciling evolution with Christianity. ID is that reconciliation.

Now, if you are a Christian, and you don’t like having your kids told that God doesn’t exist, you have three choices. You can pay for a public school and then pay again for a private school. You can pay for a public school and pay again to home school. Or you can try to force the public school to include your point of view.

The ID debate comes down to an argument over the curriculum in a socialist public school system. It’s not really anything else.

CAID is founded to wrestle over the control of a socialist one-size-fits-all approach to education that deliberately excludes choice and competition. I don’t think that’s the right approach for a Conservative, and I know that’s the wrong approach for a lover of liberty. On this one, I’m in Ogre’s camp when he says “If everyone were free to make their own decisions regarding their own education without any government interference, each family could decide for themselves if they wanted ID, creationism, or evolution taught in whatever manner they wanted.”

CAID is arguing about what children have to learn against their parents wishes. CAID has no problem with socialized education, as long as they are in control of it. In another context, that’s what make a RINO.

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Carnival Of Liberty 48

The Carnival of Liberty is up, presented this week by Indian Cowboy, covering a range of issues including Intelligent Design, modern nose art, and the Marquis de Sade.

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Microsoft’s Great Values

Unable to make enough money selling XP at $100 to $300 a pop to figure out how to secure their OS, Microsoft Company introduces virus protection software at only another $50.

Companies like Symantec and McAfee have built successful businesses on the proposition that Microsoft is unable to write a secure OS. Today, Microsoft has agreed with them and entered the band-aid market themselves. The cluelessness in Redmond is astounding.

“Sarah Hicks, Symantec’s vice president of product management for consumer products, said Microsoft’s entry will help shine a light” on the technical weaknesses of the OS product.

“Bill Kerrigan, executive vice president for McAfee, said Microsoft, in fashioning a broad solution, fails to address new and evolving Internet threats. He said OneCare may give consumers a false sense of security. “Microsoft’s traditional approach is, it’s good enough. But good isn’t good enough in security,” Kerrigan said. “OneCare is not a comprehensive security offering in the classic sense”.

So, it’s a virus package with holes in it for an OS famous for it’s holes.

The best part, in my opinion, is the interesting relationship this sets up. Now if MS ever succeeds in closing the security holes, they’ll be losing money. Redmond has publicly created a $50 per year per PC incentive to produce crappy, insecure products for the forseeable future.

Would you buy any other product from somebody who told you you’d have to pay them more if it didn’t work?

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The Magic DUI Bullet

According to this AP story, California has decided that “Police may enter Californians’ homes without warrants to arrest those suspected of driving under the influence”.

OK then, the police suspect (or claim to suspect) that a person may have been driving under the influence. So they bust in the door if it isn’t opened for them. Arrest the suspect. All without having to demonstrate probable cause.

Now the real fun starts.

Search the entire house for weapons to ’secure the area’. Look around for other interesting evidence. The infamous ‘arms length’ search for anything else they can find. What the heck, bring in the drug dog from the back seat as well.

When you’re done, drop the DUI for lack of evidence, but charge the poor dupe, or anyone else in the house, with everything else from drugs to child abuse, based on the warrantless search.

That’s civilized justice, Kalifornia style.

Update: The Cranky Insomniac let me know that TheAgitator was ahead of me, and even remembered the very similar Michigan recent case.

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Another Victory in the Drug War

Money flows out of the country, violence increases, honest people treated like criminals, no reduction in drug use. Looks like a typical victory to me.

Shutdown Of U.S. Labs Fails To Stop Spread Of Deadly Drug

Some snippets:

This deadly drug is now a growth industry for Mexico’s deadly drug cartels. They’re replacing small U.S. kitchen labs with Mexican super labs.

They are pretty much using the same routes that they’ve used in the past with cocaine and with marijuana.

By some estimates, as much at 80 percent of the meth on U.S. streets comes from Mexico.

DEA has been able to take a lead with our Mexican counterparts in order to prevent the importations of pseudoephedrine coming into Mexico

Tijuana now has a growing number of meth addicts seeking help at one of the growing number of rehab centers.

“It’s no longer just the drugs passing through Mexico to the United States. We’re now consumers,” said one Mexican addict.

I notice the Mexican labs are using the simpler ephedrine based recipe, rather than the psuedo-ephedrine based recipe the US labs worked with. So the DEA trying to reduce Mexican imports of psuedo-ephedrine are an interesting line to see.

a growing crisis for law enforcement on both sides of the border.

The very definition of a drug war victory.

via Hit and Run

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Iran Describes Jet Fighter That Morphes Into Fighting Robot

Well, not this week anyway. But we have the ‘Top Secret’ ultra-horizon missile that can be fired from all military helicopters and jet fighters, the “super-modern flying boat” that no radar at sea or in the air can detect, two new torpedos - one can “break a heavy warship” in two and the other moves at up to 223 mph underwater, and a stealth ballistic missile carrying multiple warheads to hit several targets simultaneously.

They may have even gotten some of them working, but the photo of the ‘flying boat’ (left) looks a lot like a kit built pusher prop float plane (right), not exactly the most modern of military hardware.

Iran is trying real hard to be taken seriously. But if we take their threats to nuke their neighbors seriously, we have no way to refuse sending in the Marines. Almost as if the Iran leadership actually wants a head-on closeup view of a company of Abrams.

Fools.

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Elderly Couple Hospitalized After Cops Raid Wrong House

I’m getting really tired of reading about grandparents getting beat up by SWAT teams. There is no excuse for this kind of abuse.

“We had good information from a reliable source that had been backed up by a purchase of narcotics linked to the address. However, when we arrived at the designated address, there were two houses on the lot. We hit the larger of the two houses.

“It was the wrong house,” (police Capt. Shannon) Beshears said. “The house was totally dark and the TACT members went through to the bedroom looking for the suspects.”

A man and a woman — both in their 80s — were injured as TACT team members secured the house although no drugs were found. There were children in the house also, but they were not awakened, Beshears said.

Beshears said the woman received a dislocated shoulder and the man received bruised ribs. Both were taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, but both asked police not to identify them.

And if this elderly couple DOES try to sue over this, the good captain can just go ahead and sieze their home, since there was a drug arrest made. Later. In the other house.

No police state here, nothing to see, move along.

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Civil Rights Progress

Cato @ Liberty describes three recent cases that reaffirm the basic right of the citizen to be an independent, thoughtful agent when on a jury. It’s progress.

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A Different Sort of Radical Muslim

Morocco isn’t perfect (who is?) but this article shows Dr. Ahmed Abaddi as a person I’ve been looking forward to hearing more about. A nice contrast to that Atlanta area muslim school earlier.

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