July 14, 2016
On Christianity and Donald Trump
It's been a long time since I've written anything about politics, religion, or the intersection of the two that was not directly connected to my philosophical work, but I feel the need to say something about the present US election. Perhaps I should have overcome my reluctance to say this during the primary season, but I didn't, so here it is now. Years ago, when I was a student leader of a campus Christian group back at Penn, I was constantly fighting against the idea, held by a certain vocal group of my peers, that being a Christian meant supporting...
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October 6, 2015
Quote of the Day: Mencius on Border Police
In antiquity, a border station was set up as a precaution against violence. Today it is set up to perpetrate violence.
- Mencius (4th cent. BCE), sect. 7B8, tr. Lau
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April 29, 2014
A Supreme Court Paradox!
In the current version of the Supreme Court decision Octane Fitness v. Icon Health & Fitness up at Cornell's Legal Information Institute, footnote 1 reads "Justice Scalia joins this opinion except as to footnotes 1-3." This is not quite a Liar Paradox, but close. Whether the view attributed to Scalia is consistent depends on some interpretive questions: does Scalia merely refrain from affirming the content of footnotes 1-3, or does he actively reject them? Does he reject each of the footnotes individually, or only the conjunction of them? If he actively rejects each of footnotes 1-3 individually, then which part...
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November 27, 2012
Quote of the Day: Swift on Lawyers
There [is] a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves. For example, if my neighbour has a mind to my cow, he has a lawyer to prove that he ought to have my cow from me. I must then hire another to defend my right, it being against all rules of law that any man should be allowed to speak for himself....
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November 6, 2012
Quote of the Day for Election Day
Woe to those enacting crooked statutes and writing oppressive laws to keep the poor from getting a fair trial and to deprive the afflicted of my people of justice, so that widows can be their spoil and they can plunder the fatherless. What will you do on the day of punishment when devastation comes from far away? Who will you run to for help? Where will you leave your wealth? - Isaiah 10:1-3, HCSB In the present American context, this passage demands to be combined with 1 Peter 4:17: "the time has come for judgment to begin with God's household."...
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April 7, 2012
The Pseudo-Voltaire Principle
Voltaire famously didn't say, "I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it." There is, however, something quite important in the sentiment, which Voltaire of course endorsed, and it can be generalized beyond the case of speech. Call the following the Pseudo-Voltaire Principle: It often happens that there is an agent S and domain of action A such that: (a) S has the exclusive right to make decisions with respect to A, so that it would be morally wrong for anyone to attempt to interfere with S's implementation of her decisions with...
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February 15, 2012
Dropping My Tagline
For several years, this blog has been labeled with the tagline "The Evangelical libertarian philosopher." For some time now, I've been dissatisfied with this label, both as a description of my views and as a description of what this blog is about. I've hesitated to drop it primarily because I think that blogs of non-famous people, such as myself, should have some kind of descriptive name or tagline rather than just the author's name, and I couldn't think of another short, catchy, descriptive phrase that would nicely fill that bit of screen space. (I toyed with: "Berkeley's metaphysics, Nozick's politics,...
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December 7, 2010
Quote of the Day: Offensive? Perhaps, but Also Thought-Provoking
There is, evidently, a controversy (no, I don't normally read Fox; this was linked from fark) brewing in New Hampshire about a public high school personal finance class where Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is required reading. The article says that the book is highly offensive and has lots of foul language and a strong political and (anti-)religious agenda. It doesn't get into much detail, except for a single extended quotation, which is supposed, I guess, to be the most offensive part of the book. Perhaps this quotation is somewhat offensive, but we could...
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November 23, 2010
John Locke, Ron Paul, and Airport Security
It has been rather a long time since I wrote on politics. As you can probably imagine, I'm pretty worked up about this whole body scanner business. As recently announced in a post on Homeland Stupidity, Ron Paul and two co-sponsors have introduced a bill in the House which would remove immunity from airport screeners and other federal employees who engage in certain sorts of behavior associated with airport screening. That is, it ensures that the screeners at airports are subject to the same laws regarding battery, sexual assault, child pornography, etc., as everyone else. I think there is something...
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August 6, 2010
The Lockean Proviso and Federally Managed Lands
On my recent vacation, I visited a number of national parks (specifically: Crater Lake, Redwood, and Yosemite). This got me thinking about the moral and political aspects of federal land management, including the National Park System. Libertarians are often skeptical of government ownership of anything. However, in this post I want to argue that the Lockean Proviso actually demands such a system of government land management, and so such a system should be supported by libertarians of the Nozickian/Neo-Lockean sort, such as myself. Let's start at the beginning. Locke holds that initially all of earth's natural resources were held in...
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The State of Nature
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March 9, 2010
Deontic Utilitarianism, Liberty Utilitarianism, and Deontologism
I just came across the following passage by J.J.C. Smart in Smart and Williams' Utilitarianism: For and Against
: What Bentham, Mill and Moore are all agreed on is that the rightness of an action is to be judged solely by consequences, states of affairs brought about by the action. Of course we shall have to be careful here not to construe 'state of affairs' so widely that any ethical doctrine becomes utilitarian. For if we did so we would not be saying anything at all in advocating utilitarianism. If, for example, we allowed 'the state of having kept a promise'...
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January 5, 2010
How Great is the Threat of Aircraft-Based Terrorism?
In my recent post Preventing Terrorism "At All Costs"
, I argued that it is necessary to consider the genuine risks of terrorism and balance them against the cost and inconvenience of proposed security measures, rather than merely taking a knee-jerk "anything to make us safer" approach. In the course of the post, I compared the risk of aircraft-based terrorism to other risks we take every day, such as driving on Los Angeles freeways. In a recent post, Big Numbers and Air Travel
(HT: Uncommon Priors
) on his blog Good Math, Bad Math
, Mark Chu-Carroll examines the question of just how risky air travel really is...
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December 31, 2009
Preventing Terrorism "At All Costs"
Insofar as there is any debate about airline security measures at all (and there is not as much as there should be), the debate typically assumes that we ought to prevent terrorism "at all costs". But this is simply false. Last night I saw a segment on the local news here in Johnstown, PA, where a "terrorism expert" (it wasn't clear exactly what his qualifications were) said that we could catch terrorists much more effectively by engaging in religious profiling. Apparently a federal legislator recently said the same thing. What these people are pointing out is something that should be...
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July 19, 2009
Why Libertarians Should Support a Carbon Tax
When people list reasons for having a strong central government, one of the reasons they most frequently give is the need for environmental protections. Air and water pollution frequently effect huge numbers of people across large geographic areas (in the case of greenhouse gasses, the entire world) and so, it is thought, we must have a strong central government that can regulate emissions and such. A typical libertarian response to the 'what about the environment?' question is to argue that there should be unlimited civil liability for environmental damage. The current system isn't working particularly well and, libertarians are always...
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July 7, 2009
Community Standards of Decency
May communities (justly) set standards of decency? In the recent Philosophers' Carnival
, Russell Blackford of Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
(a blog with which I am not familiar) argues that they may not. Blackford argues from not-quite-libertarian principles (he allows some limited degree of paternalism) to the conclusion that neither burkas nor nudity should be banned in public. What I want to do here is to show that, on the libertarian picture, either having or not having community standards of decency creates a problem, and try to chart a way forward from there.
Libertarians (and, indeed, all proponents of liberal democracy)...
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March 18, 2009
Hobbes, Locke, and Grievances Against the State
It is a fact of life that people frequently come into conflict in various ways: conflicts both about whether a certain action took place, and about whether that sort of action is acceptable. Thomas Hobbes calls the first of these "a question Of Fact
" and the second "a question Of Right
ch. 15). Both Hobbes, the notorious proponent of absolute sovereignty, and John Locke, the great proponent of limited government (can you tell whose side I'm on?), agree that one of the chief reasons for forming governments is to prevent these disputes from leading to violence...
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March 6, 2009
Moral Wrongs and Civil Rights
The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments
on challenges to Proposition 8 yesterday, and The New York Times seems to expect that, surprisingly, the court may rule more or less the way I want them to
: that is, they are expected to rule that the state must extend all the same substantive rights to gay couples as to straight couples, but if the voters don't want to call them both by the same name they don't have to.
The NYT article happened to note that there were some protesters outside the courtroom, and one of them was holding a sign that read...
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February 17, 2009
On Christian Higher Education
There is an argument raging on Leiter Reports
about the APA's non-discrimination statement and the policies of certain Christian colleges and universities. Wheaton College, Azusa Pacific University, Belmont University, Calvin College, Malone College, and Pepperdine University are listed as institutions that allegedly violate the APA's non-discrimination statements with their policies about homosexuality. A pair
on The Prosblogion
offer some helpful reflections. What I want to try to do here is analyze in light of this issue the question of what Christian higher education ought to look like.
To start with, let me distinguish three types of goals...
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January 24, 2009
Kant on Copyright
Regular readers are no doubt aware that I don't believe in intellectual property
. That is, I don't believe that you can have property rights in ideas or, generally, in intangibles. I have, however, noted that I support anti-plagiarism laws
, and even suspect that they are capable of doing most of the good that so-called 'intellectual property' laws do. (Our current copyright and patent laws, in my opinion, do more harm than good.)
Kant, however, has an interesting argument (which is even more or less comprehensible - a rare find in a Kant text!) against the unauthorized publishing of books. The section is fairly short so I will publish the whole thing without authorization...
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January 21, 2009
The Limits of Religious Toleration
In a very sad case out of Wisconsin, the parents of 11 year old Kara Neumann are being prosecuted
for reckless endangerment after their daughter died of diabetes. They refused medical care for their daughter on account of their religious beliefs. (They do not belong to the Church of Christ, Scientist, which I believe is the largest religious organization which forbids its adherents from seeking medical care; rather, it appears that they are followers of some internet group by the name of "Unleavened Bread Ministries".) The Neumanns originally entered a constitutional challenge to their prosecution. The judge ruled that...
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December 19, 2008
Legislation and Regulation in the Libertarian State
A little while back, I argued that the current crisis was not, by any means, the end of libertarianism
, and that anyone who says so misunderstands libertarianism both in terms of its practical consequences and in terms of its theoretical basis. What I mean by this is, in the first case, that libertarianism doesn't condone the policies that led to the current crisis and, in the second case, that libertarianism is a deontological theory of political morality, not a theory of political 'utility'. That last claim perhaps needs a translation for non-philosophers...
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November 10, 2008
Quote of the Day: Politics in Perspective
"The blessed Polycarp bore witness [i.e. was martyred] ... He was arrested by Herod while Philip of Tralles was high priest and Statius Quadratus was proconsul, but Jesus Christ - to whom be glory, honor, majesty and an eternal throne from generation to generation - was reigning as king forever. Amen."
- The Martyrdom of Polycarp
, ch. 21, my translation, based on Ehrman's)
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October 22, 2008
California Proposition 8: What Rights?
There are some issues that I always hesitate to talk or write about on account of the fact that it seems to me that most of the discussion on the issue - regardless of which side it's coming from - is, well, stupid. Evolution (in the context of either (1) theology, or (2) public education) is one of those issues. Another is gay marriage. Nevertheless, since, now that I'm a Californian, I have to decide how to vote in two weeks, I suppose I had better wade in. When the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing gay marriage,...
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October 21, 2008
The End of Libertarianism?
I'm still on the newsletter of the Penn Libertarian Association
, which has pointed me to an article on Slate
entitled "The End of Libertarianism"
. Author Jacob Weisberg believes the current US financial collapse proves that libertarianism is not viable in the same way that the fall of the USSR proved that Communism is not viable. I offer two brief practical responses and one theoretical response.
, without any government involvement, it is unlikely that any of this would have happened...
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July 9, 2008
R.I.P. Lex Americanorum (Sept. 17 , 1787 - July 9, 2008)
Lex Americanorum, the King of America
, passed away
this afternoon on the Senate floor. Lex had been ill for some years and White House-ologists in Moscow have long suspected that one or more cabinet members had in fact taken responsibility for most major decisions. The exact identity of this person had not been firmly established, but most experts agree that it is Vice President Dick Cheney.
Lex was born on September 17, 1787
and became king shortly thereafter upon election by representatives of the 13 American colonies. Lex was able to survive and maintain power for nearly 221 years...
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March 20, 2008
Supreme Court Upholds I-872!
Overturning the district court
and the Ninth Circuit
rulings, the US Supreme Court has upheld
Washington's modified blanket primary!
According to the Seattle Times
(HT: Scotus Blog
), the political parties are "fuming"
I hope to write a detailed analysis of the opinions
, and my opinion of them, after Easter, but for now, here is a brief summary of the three opinions filed...
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March 18, 2008
Obama on Race and Religion
Video and transcript of Obama's big race speech, delivered in Philadelphia today (no, I wasn't there) is now available from the campaign web-site. I haven't taken time to watch the whole speech, but I read the transcript and watched the highlights that Richard Chapell posted on his blog. His speechwriters deserve to be commended. (I have this foolish hope that perhaps he wrote it himself, but this is not the norm in modern American politics.) It is a fine example of rhetoric in the good sense: the skillful presentation of actual substantive content in a moving and inspirational way. Furthermore,...
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March 12, 2008
Telecom Immunity and "Lex est Rex"
The most recent Electronic Frontier Foundation
newsletter contains a couple
on telecom immunity which allude to an argument against telecom immunity that I want to expand upon.
Many people think that the basic principle of democracy or of a free society more generally is "majority rule" or some such. However, this is not historically how the matter has been viewed, and history in fact furnishes plenty of cases in which majority rule has not been particularly consistent with freedom. Classic liberals - the early modern thinkers who gave us the foundations of western democracy - had a different view...
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January 26, 2008
A Hesitant Re-Endorsement of Ron Paul
After Ron Paul's response to racism charges
and my analysis of the situation as sleaze rather than racism
, I am now prepared to somewhat hesitantly re-endorse Ron Paul for president. There are two reasons for this: process of elimination, and some additional information on the racism charges. First, the process of elimination...
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January 17, 2008
No Racism, Just Sleazy Politics
Reason is a libertarian magazine of long standing. They now have an article up speculating on the origin of the infamous Ron Paul newsletters. I think Reason's explanation makes a lot of sense of the situation. They note that many veterans of the libertarian movement suspect Lew Rockwell was involved. Though Rockwell denies writing the articles, Reason brings up some interesting points about the history of Rockwell and another individual by the name of Murray Rothbard. The name Jeff Tucker also came up in association with the newsletters. This is the general picture: these people, Rockwell, Rothbard, and Tucker, apparently...
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January 12, 2008
Ron Paul Responds to Racism Charges on CNN
Ron Paul recently appeared on CNN to address charges of racism
. The video is available on YouTube
and I recommend that everyone watch it.
I still don't think the response is fully adequate, but there are a number of points that I think are important in terms of a total evaluation of the situation:
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- Paul explicitly and repeatedly repudiates the views expressed in the newsletters.
- Paul calls Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Ghandi "heroes" of individual liberty for their use of non-violent civil disobedience to oppose abuse of power by government.
- Paul says the article and its timing were politically motivated...
January 9, 2008
Ron Paul and Racism Revisited
Ron Paul did rather poorly in yesterday's New Hampshire primary. He barely matched hist poll results. In Iowa, which is much less fertile ground for Paul and his views, he got nearly double what the polls predicted. The campaign blog blames an article in the New Republic
on the newsletters that were published in Paul's name in the '90s containing racist content and the like. The blog links to Paul's issue page against racism
and a campaign press release
to clarify the campaign's positions on the subject.
When I first read the campaign's response, not having seen the New Republic article...
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December 22, 2007
Ron Paul Moves to Save Liberty Dollar (Sort of)
So, I've been rather busy and slow in covering recent developments related to federal government action against the Liberty Dollar. Some of you may have seen news coverage related to the seizure of the Liberty Dollar organization's assets. The news media mostly focused on the fact that the raid occurred when the office was full of Ron Paul dollars. The media coverage was pretty incomplete. Here is a more complete timeline of what has occurred to date: 1998 NORFED (the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and the IRS) is founded, and begins offering "liberty dollars", a...
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December 3, 2007
Cincinnatus for President!
in today's New York Times
bemoans the fact that none of the leading presidential candidates read Latin. (Well, Giuliani apparently studied it briefly in his Catholic high school.) In all of US history, there have only been 9 presidents who have not studied Latin. Apparently James Garfield even taught
both Greek and Latin at the college level before becoming president. Even George W. Bush has a moderately extensive background in Latin. This marks a shift not only in our education system, but in our political system: whereas it was once the case that many (at the beginning of US history, all) of our politicians...
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December 1, 2007
Is Ron Paul a Racist?
I have said before that while I am not without reservations
about Ron Paul, I think that he is far and away the best candidate to enter the race so far. What was previously my principle reservation has, in fact, been answered by the campaign. This letter to the editor of the National Review
, written by Ron Paul's communications director, Jesse Benton, is the second source I have seen that answered my concern directly...
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October 1, 2007
Washington's Modified Blanket Primary - Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Oral arguments in the Washington primary system case
took place this morning between 10:02 and 10:53, and the transcript
is now available online. Justice Souter and, to a lesser degree, Justice Ginsburg seem clearly to be in favor of I-872. Justice Stevens also seems likely to vote to overturn the Ninth Circuit, though his position is not as clear. Justices Alito, Scalia, and Roberts seemed skeptical of the State's arguments, though it was not clear to me if they had made up their minds. At at least one point (p. 32) Scalia seemed to think that the parties had overstated their case...
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September 5, 2007
Washington Primary System Case to be Heard By Supreme Court
The Washington Primary System case has been accepted by the supreme court and is, in fact, the very first case on the Supreme Court docket for the upcoming season, which begins Monday October first. All the documents are now online (the newest ones are at the bottom), including the reply briefs by the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian Parties, and amicus briefs by the California Democratic Party (the plaintiff in the most important precedent, regarding California's blanket primary, which resembled Washington's original blanket primary), and the Democratic National Committee. Summaries of the arguments of each brief follow: The State of Washington...
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July 31, 2007
REAL ID Update
on recent action in the Senate regarding REAL ID. I had previously reported
on several states (particularly in the northwest) passing resolutions against REAL ID compliance. According to the News.com article, the number of these states is now seventeen. What has happened in the Senate is that an amedment to a spending bill offering $300 million in grants to help defray the cost of compliance for states was defeated, and an amendment introduced by Montana Democrat Max Baucus (hurray for the northwest again!) prohibiting using any money in the spending bill for "planning, testing, piloting, or developing a national identification card" was adopted unanimously. We may be getting closer to what is really needed: a complete repeal of this terrible law.
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July 30, 2007
Government Responds to Liberty Dollar Lawsuit
Some time ago I reported
that the U.S. Mint had issued a warning
(scroll down) to the effect that the Liberty Dollar
was illegal. The Liberty Dollar organization has filed a lawsuit for declaratory judgment that the Liberty Dollar is legal and an injunction barring the U.S. Mint from claiming that it is illegal. The Mint, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Attorney General are named as defendants. The government has now responded (with a motion to dismiss), and all the paperwork is now available online
. Upon reading the government's motion, I was rather confused...
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July 21, 2007
Economically Optimal Copyright Term is 14 Years
According to economic analysis recently published by Cambridge Ph.D candidate Rufus Pollock, the optimal term for copyright is 14 years. Presumably, this means that a 14 year term would maximize utility across society in an idealized free market or some such. This is of interest to me because I don't believe that one can hold libertarian property rights in information or ideas (or intangibles generally), and so I take copyright and patent law to be constructed in the social contract (which means that its enforceability by goverment is limited, in terms of what the government is morally permitted to do),...
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July 6, 2007
Ron Paul and the Rule of Law
A little while back
I made a passing remark to the effect that it would be a good thing (as well as a miracle) if Ron Paul
was elected president. However, a recent discussion
will have me looking more critically at what Ron Paul has to say over the months until the primary, as well as re-evaluating some of my own views. Now, despite what Jeremy says, I'm not convinced that Ron Paul is a "strict libertarian" - my understanding is that he is not a proper libertarian at all ... but, rather, that he is a radical federalist
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July 5, 2007
How Much Personal Data Does Windows Vista Collect?
All of it.
IP addresses, web-sites visited, computer name, hardware configuration, software configuration, what kinds of files you open, everything. The Windows Vista EULA apparently provides a non-exhaustive list of 47 Vista components that send data to Microsoft. Other components store personal data on your hard drive. Microsoft says it will release these vast troves of data under the following conditions...
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June 5, 2007
RIAA Case Against Tanya Andersen Dismissed With Prejudice
Some time ago I reported on the case of Tanya Andersen
, the 41 year old disabled single mother who was wrongly sued by the RIAA for allegedly downloading Gansta Rap on Kazaa (actually, the RIAA alleged that the offender was her daughter, who was 7 at the time) and responded by counter-suing them for just about everything in the book (including, notably, racketeering, fraud, and electronic tresspass). Now Recording Industry vs. The People
that the RIAA has agreed that the case be dismissed with prejudice. This means that the RIAA admits Andersen's innocence...
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The ACLU Has Selective Hearing
has a great editorial
criticizing the recent inaction of the ACLU in defending unpopular speech by conservatives. (HT: Jeff the Baptist
.) It wasn't that long ago that the ACLU was defending the right of the Aryan Nations to march in north Idaho. It seems that if you are a nutcase who thinks homosexuals should be burned at the stake, the ACLU thinks you have a right to your opinion, but if you thinks homosexual behavior is immoral it doesn't. It does seem to me to be true that the ACLU has been moving in a more and more partisan leftist direction...
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April 26, 2007
The New York Times Supports the Police State!
appearing in today's New York Times
finally, at least, more or less understands the position of supporters of the Second Amendment as written. That's close to all that can be said positively about this little article. It begins with this line:
By now, the logic is almost automatic. A shooter takes innocent lives, and someone says that if the victims had been armed, this wouldn�t have happened. The only solution to a gun in the wrong hands, it seems, is a gun in the hands of everyone.
Why do gun advocates support this line of reasoning? The critical point is that it is not possible to keep guns out of the hands of criminals...
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March 13, 2007
The Northwest to Remain Free?
It will come as little surprise to regular readers that I am not a fan of the Real ID act
, a law passed by congress mandating certain standards of identity verification for all state-issued IDs (including drivers' licenses), requiring states to share data collected in this process with the federal government, and requiring that one have such an ID in order to board planes, enter national parks, or enter federal courts (see also the ACLU's FAQ
on the subject). The law orders states to come into compliance within three years or not have their IDs accepted by the federal government...
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March 10, 2007
Laissez-faire (the game) Version 2
Update (6/2/07): Three minor changes: (1) the cost of the Home Maintenance Co. has been increased to $500. (2) A provision has been made (see under "Taking a Turn" and "Jail") to ensure that players going out do not gift their properties to other players to alter the course of the game. (3) Changes have been made to the selection order at the beginning of the (not yet play-tested) zero sum variant in the hope of increasing the fairness of the initial selection of properties. Also some clarifications have been made. I am considering removing the Petroleum Distribution Co., but...
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February 7, 2007
Windows Vista EULA Prohibits Users From "work[ing] around any technical limitations in the software"
reports on Windows Vista's End-User License Agreement.
Apparently it is now a violation of the agreement to "work around any technical limitations in the software." In previous versions of Microsoft software, "technical limitations" have frequently included not working
, so it looks like we'd all better obey the Vista license agreement and leave the CD in its shrinkwrap on the shelf where it belongs...
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January 25, 2007
Washington Primary System Case Appealed to Supreme Court
The State of Washington and the Washington State Grange have appealed the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling against I-872
, the initiative of the people, authored by the Grange, establishing Washington's non-partisan "top-two" primary. The system was struck down by the district court and the Ninth Circuit after complaints by the Republican, Demcoratic, and Libertarian Parties. All the associated documents are here
(see the bottom of the page...
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December 29, 2006
Laissez-faire (The Game)
I received for Christmas this year a copy of the game Anti-Monopoly
. The game has an interesting premise. Half of the players are "monopolists" who play according to rules similar to the original Monopoly, and the other half are "competitors" who must charge "fair" rents and obey laws and so forth. The competitors make up for their lower rents by being able to build houses without controlling a monopoly. If you are detecting a slight socialist bias here, you are right; the rulebook contains questionable and irrelevant interjections like "monopolists will destroy competitors in the absence of anti-monopoly laws." However...
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December 28, 2006
Liberty Dollar Reborn!
According to the latest Liberty Dollar newsletter
, NORFED (National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve, or something like that), the non-profit political activism group formerly responsible for the Liberty Dollar (and recently in trouble with the US Mint
), has been disbanded, and the Liberty Dollar is now being marketed by a business entity to be known as "Liberty Services." The new Liberty Dollar promises to drop the political rhetoric...
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December 9, 2006
U.S. Congress Outlaws Pretexting (Sort Of)
In my previous post on the MPAA's success in blocking a California anti-pretexting bill, I neglected to mention that California did go on to pass a much narrower bill, which illegalizes the use of pretexting to obtain telephone records. Today, the New York Times is reporting that the Senate has just passed a similar bill (apparently the House passed the bill quite some time ago). Of course, these bills really do not go far enough, but it is something. I don't understand how it can be so difficult to get a stronger bill passed. How is pretexting not a straightforward...
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December 6, 2006
Quote of the Day
"There are a few things wrong with this argument, the first being its incoherence." - Justice David Souter on the Bush administration's legal reasoning (or lack thereof).
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December 5, 2006
MPAA Needs to Steal Your Identity to Fight Privacy - I Mean 'Piracy'
is reporting that the Motion Picture Association of America's
lobbyists have successfully killed an anti-pretexting bill in California
. Pretexting is the practice of pretending to be someone else in order to gain access to that person's private records. An aide to the California Secretary of State was quoted as saying "the MPAA told some members [of the legislature] the bill would interfere with piracy investigations."
What on earth gives a private organization who wants to extort money from you with frivolous lawsuits the right to lie to your utility providers in order to steal your personal records?...
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November 30, 2006
Christianity and Homosexuality
In the very first Carnival of Citizens
, there is a post at HeartFulls
(a blog with which I was not previously familiar) in which the author wants to know how Christians deal with homosexuality.
She seems to be particularly concerned with the question of gay marriage (which is presumably why this post was included in the Carnival of Citizens). She cites a few Scripture passages that are commonly used in arguments, but doesn't present a clear picture of how and why these arguments cause Christians to hold the positions they do (presumably, she doesn't know quite how these passages are interpreted, which is why this is part of her "I want to know" series). In this post, I will try to explain how these verses are interpreted, and how they should influence Christians' actions, especially in the political realm...
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November 28, 2006
US Mint Out to Get the Liberty Dollar?
It seems, over the last few months, that the U.S. Mint has suddenly been out to get the Liberty Dollar. This after years of investigations by the Secret Service and others which concluded that there was nothing criminal about it whatsoever. In the latest Liberty Dollar newsletter, which will be available on their web-site shortly, we read that "'threatening' letters have been received via certified mail by all the [regional currency officers] and [monetary architect Bernard von NotHaus] from Daniel P. Shaver, chief counsel for the US Mint." Also, NORFED, the organization behind the Liberty Dollar, has had their bank...
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November 8, 2006
Well, the two Libertarian candidates I was watching most closely (Bruce Guthrie for senate from Washington and Michael Badnarik for congress from Texas) did not do nearly as well as I had hoped they might, but the election results are, in my opinion, far from being a total loss. Firstly, we have a Democratic house and an evenly split or Democratic senate, with a Republican president. This is good in two ways: (1) the Democrats have enough power to stop Bush from pushing his terrible ideas through the legislature, but not enough power to push their own terrible ideas through...
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September 11, 2006
Conservative Judicial Activism?
The New York Times
has a piece today on conservative judicial activism
. The article claims that, not only does conservative judicial activism happen, but it is more common in the US today than liberal judicial activism. However, I have to wonder if 'conservative judicial activism' is even possible. My disagreement with the Times is, I admit, in large part semantic, because the terms 'conservative,' 'liberal,' and 'judicial activism' are all horribly equivocal, but they are also all emotionally charged terms, and I can't stand the kind of rhetorical trick the Times seems to be trying to pull here...
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August 22, 2006
Washington Primary System Unconsitutional (Again)!
The Ninth Circuit has finally ruled on the case I have reported on several times in the past year regarding Washington state's 'modified blanket primary.' The court upheld the ruling of the district court that the system unduly burdened the free association rights of the political parties. I'm still not convinced. For one thing, section IIB of the ruling seems to imply that all state-run partisan nominating primaries are inherently unconstitutional - a view that I, like most libertarians, tend to agree with - but then in the very next paragraph it begins talking as though it's ok as long...
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August 3, 2006
Regulating the Internet Won't Increase Competition
Policy analyst Timothy B. Lee writes in an op-ed in today's New York Times
that: It�s tempting to believe that government regulation of the Internet would be more consumer-friendly; history and economics suggest otherwise. The reason is simple: a regulated industry has a far larger stake in regulatory decisions than any other group in society. As a result, regulated companies spend lavishly on lobbyists and lawyers...
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July 18, 2006
No Manslaughter Charges Filed in Jean Charles de Menezes Case
An official press release
from the UK's Independent Police Complaints Commission
announced yesterday that, following an investigation of the brutal execution without trial
of innocent Tube passenger Jean Charles de Menezes
, the London Police Commissioner will face charges of "failing to provide for the health, safety and welfare" of Mr. Menezes under the "Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974." There will be no murder or manslaughter charges...
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June 22, 2006
Another Suspicious AT&T Operation
Homeland Stupidity is pointing to a salon.com article about yet another suspicious operation being undertaken by AT&T. In this case, an entire building in Bridgeport, Missouri has been secured in a manner suggestive of NSA involvement. Salon reports that, "according to one of the former workers, Bridgeton serves as the technical command center from which the company manages all the routers and circuits carrying the company�s domestic and international Internet traffic." According to Homeland Stupidity's source, Russel Tice, there is an "arduous six-month clearance process" for employees who work in this building. Building security requires fingerprinting and retinal scans on...
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June 14, 2006
Equating Christianity With Politics
Jeremy Pierce at Parableman is responding to an obviously utterly false misinformed, rhetorical, and manipulative rant about Campus Crusade for Christ International at The Huffington Post. As Jeremy points out, the author seems utterly unable to distinguish Christian missionary activity from neo-conservative 'democratization' campaigns. Unfortunately, some 'Christians' (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell,* and friends) seem to have the same problem. However, let me assure you that Campus Crusade is emphatically not such a group. Campus Crusade generally does a superb job of separating theology from politics. While serving as a leader in CCC at Penn, I have had to respond to...
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June 6, 2006
Arguments From EFF's Motion for Preliminary Injunction Against AT&T
I reported last week on the unsealing of documents related to the ongoing litigation against AT&T by the EFF relating to the NSA's warrantless domestic surveillaince program. I have just now had a chance to read EFF's motion for preliminary injunction, which brings out some new arguments relevant to my previous discussion of why this program is bad. I think that these two new (to me) arguments substantially refute my previous claim that the program is a violation of libertarian rights if and only if the companies' privacy policies represent to the customer that they will not voluntarily release the...
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May 30, 2006
AT&T-NSA Documents Unsealed
Update (5/31/06, 7:04PM): From CNET News.com via Hammer of Truth: AT&T's brief is also available in a 'censored' PDF. Unfortunately for AT&T, it turned out to be not so censored: users of xpdf and Apple's Preview application (including the Safari plugin) can read the blacked out text by copying and pasting it. The EFF is reporting that censored versions of AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein's Testimony and EFF's own preliminary injunction motion in the AT&T lawsuit have been unsealed by the court. The Klein testimony document looks like a summary of the documents published by Wired, which I reported on last...
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May 23, 2006
AT&T Spying Documents Published
Wired magazine has published a collection of evidence leaked by former AT&T employee Mark Klein thought to have substantial overlap wiith the sealed documents related to the Electronic Frontier Foundation lawsuit (a PDF of the complete file is also available). These documents do not relate directly to the NSA telephone call database (which is bad), but rather show that AT&T has installed 'secret rooms' at several hubs designed to intercept internet communications. This is rather less troubling than the alleged telephone spying, because it's not difficult to intercept unencrypted messages over the internet, but the thought that the government has...
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May 17, 2006
Telecoms Deny Turning Call Records Over to NSA; FBI Spies on ABC News
As Lauren mentioned in the comments to my previous NSA wiretapping post, Verizon, along with BellSouth, has officially denied sharing call records with the NSA. Rumor has it AT&T has denied involvement as well, but I couldn't find an official report on that. A number of people including USA Today are skeptical of the companies' claims. We'll see how things play out... Meanwhile, in related news, The Blotter (Official Blog of ABC News) is claiming that the FBI has used national security letters to spy on reporters in order to find sources who reveal classified information. Now, revealing classified information...
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May 15, 2006
Why is the NSA Data Mining Operation Bad?
In the comments to my first post on NSA domestic spying, Jeremy said, This is exactly why I think libertarianism is completely nuts. If it's going to place some absurd sense of an absolute right to privacy so much higher than the extremely important obligation of the government to protect its people, then I want nothing to do with it ... It just seems silly to me to complain that my rights are being violated simply because information the government can already get if there's reason to suspect me of any criminal activity is more readily available in the event...
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May 12, 2006
More on NSA Domestic Spying
This morning's New York Times is now online (it's still weird being 7 hours ahead of New York and not having the Times out when I wake up) with more responses to yesterday's NSA domestic spying revelations. Before further discussion, let me clarify something about the NSA's program that seems to have confused some readers on my last post: there seem to be two separate warrantless spying programs. One program listens to international phone calls without warrants. Another program keeps records of the source, destination, time, and duration or all local and long distance phone calls within the United States...
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May 11, 2006
NSA Domestic Spying Revelations
Update (5/12/2006, 11:26 AM): This story has been picked up by Hammer of Truth and Homeland Stupidity. Homeland Stupidity also has a second article explaining the details of what is in the records and who can see them. The author is a former MCI employee. There is also an AP Article on the (limited) congressional response that has already begun (HT: Sister Toldjah) For those of you who might not know, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued telecom giant AT&T alleging that AT&T improperly assisted the NSA in listening to Americans' phone calls without the proper warrants. On April 28,...
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Smoking is Healthier Than Fascism: Long-Time Tobacco Control Advocate Speaks Out
Medical doctor and prominent tobacco control advocate Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health is accusing the anti-smoking lobby of having a hidden prohibitionist agenda and knowingly spreading misinformation about the scientific data. Siegel essentially claims anti-smoking groups have ceased to be motivated by concern for public health and are moving forward with a total prohibitionist platform based on sheer hatred of tobacco smokers. These fascistic movements are now attempting to ban smoking in private homes, and in all outdoor areas, and to deny employment to smokers. They are making claims such as "that 30 minutes of...
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May 10, 2006
Quotidian Grace for Mom of Congress!
You always knew our congressmen needed a babysitter to keep them out of trouble. What if they could have something even better: a real mother? Well, now they can. Vote Quotidian Grace for Mom of Congress!
(HT: Locusts and Honey
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May 3, 2006
Colbert Appointed Whitehouse Fool
I keep a collection of quotes in a file on my computer. One of the quotes I've collected was from a New York Times editorial by Nicholas Kristof following the big Shakespeare Festival in Oregon a few years ago: Indeed, the only person who seems to provide Shakespeare's kings with sound advice is the court fool, who cannot be punished for saying unpalatable truths because jesting is his job. I urge Mr. Bush to appoint a White House fool. The reason I bring this up, is that Stephen Colbert, formerly of The Daily Show, and now of his own Colbert...
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April 29, 2006
Canadian Recording Artists Oppose Suing Fans, DRM
The founding of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, a group representing several Canadian bands and recording artists, was announced last Wednesday in response to World Intellectual Property Day. The group, representing some of the most prominent Canadian recording artists, including the Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, and Sarah McLachlan, was formed in response to the fact that the intellectual property debate has thus far been controlled by recording industry mega-corps who do not have the artists' interests in mind. Contrary to the claims of said mega-corps, CMCC asserts the following: "Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical" "Digital Locks [i.e. DRM]...
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April 17, 2006
Quote of the Day
"For tell me, if you saw any two persons, one naked, one having a garment, and then having stripped the one that had the garment, thou wert to clothe the naked, wouldest thou not have committed an injustice? It is surely plain to every one. But if when thou hast given all that thou hast taken to another, thou hast committed an injustice, and not shown mercy; when thou givest not even a small portion of what thou robbest, and callest the deed alms, what manner of punishment wilt thou not undergo?" - St. John Chryosostom (Patriarch of Constantinople, c....
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April 6, 2006
Invisible Hand, April '06
The April 2006 issue of the Invisible Hand Newsletter is now available for download. The publishers hope that libertarian groups and individuals at colleges and universities across the country - and perhaps even internationally - will print and distribute this newsletter on their campuses. This latest issue contains an article by yours truly entitled "What Rights Don't I Have?" and based on a blog.kennypearce.net post from last October entitled "Why 'Positive Rights' are Stupid." The whole newsletter is worth a read....
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March 23, 2006
The Invisible Hand Newsletter
I was recently introduced to The Invisible Hand, a newsletter being put out by the Rutgers Libertarians (that would be Rutgers University, in New Jersey). The first edition came out last November and was distributed at two campuses in New Jersey. Now the group wants to get a wider distribution, by having individuals and groups on various college campuses throughout the country print the newsletter from the internet and distribute it. I am planning to submit an article on positive rights and why libertarians don't believe in them (based on this post) for the next issue, which is due out...
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March 13, 2006
A Singularly Un-Nutty Gun Nut
Jeff The Baptist is pointing to this opinion piece by one Jim March, apparently an activist concerned with gun policy and electronic voting machines (no, the two don't seem to be connected). After reading the article, I take March to be a singularly un-nutty gun nut. He provides statistics, history, scientific case studies, and personal anecdotes to support his position that keeping guns away from law-abiding citizens (a) undermines democracy, and (b) increases crime. Particularly interesting is his claim that the development of weapons technology that could be purchased and used by the common people was an essential element in...
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March 5, 2006
Rights, Obligations, and Abortion
A while ago, in a post on abortion, I had a brief discussion with Jeremy Pierce about the distinction between rights and obligations. Since we are discussing abortion again, I thought now would be a good time to clarify what I mean by this distinction. I will also discuss briefly how this applies to the abortion debate. First and foremost in this distinction is this: rights belong to the province of public or political morality, whereas obligations belong to the province of private or individual morality. Political morality has to do with the existence and nature of morally appropriate government,...
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March 3, 2006
John Stossel on Education and the Free Market
Syndicated columnist and ABC news reported John Stossel has an editorial at TownHall.com (HT: WorldMagBlog) on the benefits of introducting free market competition to the primary/secondary education system through a voucher-type system. Most of the points he makes are obvious - as economists say, idealized free markets lead to Pareto-optimal states, and competition brings a system that much closer to the idealized free market - but the article is nevertheless worth a read. In short, under the competitive system "Bad schools will close and better schools will open. And the better schools won't all be the same." Stossel points out...
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February 9, 2006
Cardinal Frances George Was Right
The New York Times is reporting that Cardinal Francis George of the Catholic Arch-Diocese of Chicago, is being heavily criticized after a local priest, Daniel McCormack, was arrested on charges of sexually abusing young boys. The allegations were brought to Cardinal George's attention last August, but no action was taken by the diocese at that time. In 2002, the Catholic Church instituted a policy that a priest should be removed immediately if "there is sufficient evidence that sexual abuse of a minor has occurred." Cardinal George, it is alleged, failed to follow this guideline. While I don't know the specifics...
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February 8, 2006
Update on Washington Primary System Case
The Ninth Circuit has still not released its decision in the Washington primary system case, but a WMA of the oral arguments is now online. The 45 minute audio file is worth listening to for a summary of the arguments. There is not a lot of legal jargon, and it is not boring. On the other hand, there is really nothing new here ...
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February 2, 2006
Status of Washington's Primary System
In September, I blogged on the present state of Washington's "top two" primary system. In brief, after being sued by the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties to invalidate the "blanket primary," which allowed voters to vote for any one candidate for each office in the primary, regardless of party, and then sent the top vote getter from each party to the final election, voters passed on initiative a "top two" primary which permitted candidates for so-called "partisan" offices to list their party preference, but otherwise ignored parties, sending the top two vote-getters to the final election. In this system, we...
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January 20, 2006
On Public Education
In the comments to this post on recent attempts to insert intelligent design into public high schools as philosophy, Ed Darrell and I have been having a discussion about more general questions of public education. I thought it would be a good idea to write a piece about my general view of this subject here, since the discussion is looking like its about to get quite long and detailed. As I see it, there are two issues here: the government's use of tax money to fund education, and the government's exercise of power over how education is done. Furthermore, there...
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January 13, 2006
Can High School Students Handle Philosophy?
Brian Leiter, a philosophy professor at the University of Texas Austin, points to an LA Times article about a lawsuit against a California public school district over an attempt to introduce an elective course entitled "philosophy of design." The suit charges that the course is about promoting a particular religion, rather than looking at the issue in the sort of balanced way a permissible "comparative relgion" course would. Now, if the charge is true and the course teaches only one viewpoint and seeks to convince students of that viewpoint, then it is a bad philosophy class (the constitutional issue is,...
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January 12, 2006
Propaganda, Abortion, and the New York Times
I am a regular reader of the New York Times, and I must admit that I often sympathize with the assertion of many conservatives that the Times is biased toward the Democratic party. However, I think this concern is much overstated. The Times routinely portrays both sides of issues on the Op-Ed page, and also in factual reporting. Biases of omission, or phrasings that seem to make value judgments rather than report fact, do occur and tend to occur in a decidedly liberal direction, but if there is real persistent bias in the Times, I would say that it has...
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December 30, 2005
Homeland Security Visit to UMass Student a Hoax!
The story I reported here regarding the UMass Dartmouth student who reported having been visited by federal agents in connection with his request for Mao's Little Red Book has been revealed as a hoax. See here and here. Perhaps he just needed an extension on his paper......
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December 19, 2005
And Here I Thought Joseph McCarthy Was Dead...
From The Standard-Times, via slashdot: A senior at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth received a visit from federal agents two months ago, after requesting a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's Little Red Book through his school's inter-library loan program. Details are sparse, but it appears that some branch of the federal government (presumably the Department of Homeland Security) was monitoring the inter-library loan system, apparently without a warrant. The agents told the student, whom the Standard-Times had the courtesy not to identify, that the book was on a "watch list" (is that the same as a "blacklist"?). Buyer beware! Apparently everyone...
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December 12, 2005
The Myth of Narnia
I'm studying for finals right now, and don't have time for a full discussion, but I want to give a quick note on this New York Times editorial on the commericalization of "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe," and the ensuing fight between the Christian right and secular Narnia lovers. I think the author of this editorial is right on in taking the middle road with her claim that, on the one hand, the "religious subtext" is obviously present but, on the other hand, C.S. Lewis would not appreciate attempts by Christians to make that subtext overt or to...
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December 6, 2005
Digital Rights Management Software: Everyone Gets Screwed
The New York Times (see also slashdot) is running an Op-Ed by the lead singer of the band OK Go (which I have never heard of) explaining why Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, like the stuff Sony BMG got itself in trouble with recently (see Freedom to Tinker, the blog of Princeton computer science professor Ed Felten, for all the technical details. Professor Felten first discussed the security flaws that got Sony in trouble here.) isn't good for anyone. In particular, the author argues, bands who have DRM forced upon them by their record labels end up being heard by...
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December 2, 2005
I've just returned from an interview with Philadelphia's CN8 News
magazine. The interview will air tonight (Friday) at 7 and 10.
Continue reading "Quake Interview"
November 30, 2005
I want to draw your attention to a comment on my previous post on Quake magazine which provides this link to a post on Caveat Lector, a blog by Alex Perkins, a friend of mine from Greek class, written in response to the discussion of this topic by Andrew and I. I very much appreciate the calm and rational tone of the post and the fact that Alex has decided to address the topic intellectually rather than emotionally. I have posted a lengthy comment on the subject there. I reccomend that all of you read Alex's original post and my...
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November 29, 2005
More on Quake magazine
The Daily Pennsylvanian has published an editorial by Andrew Rennenkamp discussing Quake magazine (which I discussed previously here). As far as I can tell, they have decided not to publish Phil's letter, but I was unable to find out for certain as they do not seem to post letters to the editor online. If you look at the comments to Andrew's editorial, you will find that it is drawing quite a bit of flack, with a lot of criticism (a large percentage of it ad hominem) and relatively little support. This is, of course, typical of the attitude to sex...
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November 23, 2005
Within the last 24 hours, Philosopher's Carnival XXII has gone up at For Those of You At Home, and Christian Carnival ICVII has gone up at Thought Renewal. The Philosopher's Carnival links to my recent post on judicial activism, and the Christian Carnival is linking to "Ivy League Elitist ... Porn?". At the Philosopher's Carnival (though not at the Christian Carnival), it is customary for the host to comment on each of the posts. Ian Olasov ends his very kind remarks on my post with the line "Now all we need to do is force our elected officials to speak...
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November 21, 2005
Ivy League Elitist ... Porn?
This September, the Student Activities Council of the University of Pennsylvania approved the funding of Quake, Penn's "literary erotica magazine," and the first edition of the magazine was distributed on Penn's campus last Friday. Phil Gommels, the chairman of the SAC executive, is a devoted Christian and a personal friend of mine. He has publicly stated his opposition to the funding of Quake and plans to submit a letter to the editor for publication in the Daily Pennsylvanian, the campus newspaper, in the near future. I have obtained an early draft of his letter, which reads as follows: To the...
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November 16, 2005
Republican Opposition to Privacy Amendment Would Alienate Libertarians?
Today's New York Times has an Op-Ed entitled "Can I Get A Little Privacy?" in which Dan Savage argues that Democrats should propose a constitutional amendment to gaurantee a right to privacy. He goes on to claim that Republican opposition to the amendment "would alienate not only moderates, but also ... libertarian, small-government conservatives." Really? As I've discussed before, right-libertarians (and he certainly isn't talking about left-libertarians of the ACLU variety - what do the Republicans care about them?) are by definition opposed to the concept of "positive rights." Now, perhaps Savage has in mind a wording that would turn...
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November 4, 2005
What is Judicial Activism?
An article in today's New York Times about the continuing Supreme Court confirmation process discusses the degree to which "ideology" should or does play a role in judicial confirmations. In the course of this discussion, both Democrats and Republicans are accused of hypocrisy in this area, and they are obviously guilty on this point. Virtually all senators claim that ideology shouldn't matter for their own party's nominees, but should for the other party's. It goes on to discuss the question of "judicial activism." The Times quotes extensively from Professor Lee Epstein of the Washington University in St. Louis School of...
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October 7, 2005
Why "Positive Rights" Are Stupid
They lead to crap like this. According to the mayor of San Francisco, "It is ... a fundamental right to have access universally to information" and providing wireless internet access for free to the city is " a civil rights issue as much as anything else." (Hat tip: Evangelical Outpost) Wait, civil rights? Wireless internet? Next you'll be telling me they have a "fundamental right" to own a laptop with which to use the wireless internet. Where the heck does this crap come from? Libertarian and classic liberal political theorists believe that all of our rights are what are called...
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October 6, 2005
Ronald Dworkin on John Roberts and Principles of Constitutional Interpretation
The New York Review Of Books has published an insightful piece by Ronald Dworkin, a brilliant political philosopher at NYU, on what we can expect from John Roberts. For those of you who are on familiar, Dworkin wrote an excellent book entitled Sovereign Virtue in which he develops a systematic political philosophy which is capable (if successful) of justifying the voting patterns of moderate Democrats. This is very impressive, as most political philosophies end up in one of three extremes (libertarianism, Marxism, or utilitarianism), or else are hopelessly unsystematic. However, as you might expect I, having adopted one of the...
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Recording Industry Counter-Sued for ... Well, Pretty Much Everything
From Recording Industry vs. The People via the Electronic Frontier Foundation newsletter: "Tanya Andersen, a 41 year old disabled single mother living in Oregon, has countersued the RIAA for Oregon RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] violations, fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, electronic trespass, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, negligent misrepresentation, the tort of 'outrage', and deceptive business practices." The suit charges, among other things, that Ms. Anderson was contacted by legal council for the RIAA in regard to music downloading (which she has never done) and offered to allow them to inspect her...
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September 27, 2005
The Right Way to Introduce Intelligent Design to Public Schools ...
is by teaching philosophy of science. Metaphysics and philosophy of science, no matter what anyone says, are "ontically prior" to experimental science. What that means is that you must have at least a working philosophy of science (with some difficult conceptual work it is possible to abstract away the metaphysics in most cases) in order to interpret the results of observations and experiments. Remember that "scientific method" thing you learned in high school (or, hopefully, middle school)? Scientists hold to a philosophical - not scientific - theory states that that method works. The details of this philosophical position will determine...
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September 21, 2005
The Establishment Clause, The Vatican, and Diplomatic Immunity
I apologize for not having posted recently. I have been very busy reading Plato's Politicus
in Greek at an absurd rate, and various other less time consuming classwork. Here I make time for a brief note regarding this article
from today's New York Times
discussing a lawsuit which names Pope Benedict XVI as a defendant in a conspiracy to cover up a sex abuse case. ... This, however, is old news. What is interesting about this case is the controversy regarding the "Holy See" (i.e. the Vatican) as a sovereign state, while at the same time a church. This makes for very complicated questions as to what constitutes exercises in foreign policy versus what violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment ...
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September 12, 2005
Whitman County Special Election
Whitman County, Washington is holding a special election, coinciding with the September 20 primary election (which doesn't seem to have any measures or candidates on it this year) to approve a "budgetary emergency" measure to levy an additional .1% sales tax for the funding of jails and juvenile detention facilitties. I had some trouble finding information on the proposition, so let me point you to item 064927 (it reads 063927 at one point - apparently a typographical error) of the Whitman Country Commissioners' meeting minutes of last August 1, available online here. The county's total budget is available as item...
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September 10, 2005
Tierney: Corruption and Pork-Barrelling Worsened Katrina Disaster
In today's New York Times, columnist John Tierney argues that Democrats' attempts to blame Republicans for better preparations for flooding not being made in New Orleans are dishonest, and, in fact, all of Congress is to blame as corruption, pork-barrelling, waste, and partisan politics obstructed the goals of FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers. For years, Tierney says, money has been being diverted to senators' pet projects in order to bring revenue to their constituencies, instead of being used where it is most needed. Furthermore, Democrats like Clinton and Lieberman who are now pushing for a more independent FEMA...
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September 9, 2005
Washington Initiative 872 Unconstitutional?!
So I got a ballot today for a county special election, and was looking on the web for more information about the proposition when I made a shocking discovery: On July 15, 2005, Washington initiative 872 was declared unconstitutional in federal court! What does this mean? Let me tell you...
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August 25, 2005
FDA to Regulate Medical Usage of Maggots and Leeches
No, I'm not joking. It has been decided that both qualify as "mechanical devices" for medical use and will be regulated accordingly. See the New York Times article here
. Now if only they'd regulate mosquitos (out of existence)...
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August 20, 2005
The Effects of State Sponsorship of Religion
In a series of posts on their blog, Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker and former federal appeals court judge Richard Posner (both now professors at the University of Chicago) discuss the effects of state sponsorship of religion, and the recent supreme court decisions regarding ten commandments displays. Both argue that state sponsorship of a specific religion decreases "competition" between religious groups and thus decreases the likelihood of any individual having his "religious preferences" fulfilled, and simultaneously decreases the overall "religiosity" of a society. Today, they say, the United States is a very "religious" country precisely because the state does not...
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August 17, 2005
Independent Commission: London Police Lied About Jean Charles de Menezes
The New York Times passes along
a report from British news outlet ITV (see also the longer article
in The Observer
) which obtained leaked documents from the Independent Police Complaints Commission suggesting that the London Police lied about the circumstances surrounding the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian man who was executed without trial on the Tube last month in connection with the terrorist attacks of July 21.
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August 1, 2005
King Fahd of Saudi Arabia Dies (For Real This Time)
On May 27 of this year, the Washington Times hastily reported the death of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, after he had suffered yet another major stroke. The Times also made various speculations about political struggles going on behind the scenes, as explanation for why the Saudi government insisted that Fahd was hospitalized and in stable condition. Turns out, the Saudi government was telling the truth. Today, the BBC is reporting that the Saudi government has announced that King Fahd has died this afternoon and the Crown Prince Abdullah has succeeded to the throne with no major incidents. It will...
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July 31, 2005
Five Years Later, Kenyan City Councilman Still Left in Suspense
From Philadelphia's own NBC 10, via WorldMag Blog: A Nairobi (yes, the one in Kenya) city councilman told a local newspaper today that five years ago he wrote to former president Bill Clinton, offering a dowry of 40 goats and 20 cows for the hand of Clinton's daughter, Chelsea. The letter also told of plans for a large and expensive wedding presided over by Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Mr. Chepkurgor, the councilman in question, says he will reman celibate until receiving a response, for which he is still waiting. An anonymous security official said that Clinton most...
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July 25, 2005
British Police Refuse to Apologize For Death, Defend "Shoot to Kill" Policy
"It wasn't just a random event, and the most important thing to recognize is that it is still happening out there ... Somebody else could be shot." - London Police Commisioner Sir Ian Blair, in an interview with Sky News.
The New York Times
on a statement issued by London's Police Commissioner in which he defended the "shoot to kill" policy he instituted following the bombings on July 7. Speaking of the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, a man who was shot to death on the Tube, London's subway system, last week by plain-clothes police men and later discovered not to have been related in any way to terrorism, Sir Ian insisted, "There is nothing gratuitous here in what is going on." Excuse me?!
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July 24, 2005
Man Shot to Death by London Police: Not a Terrorist After All
WorldMagBlog is linking to a New York Times article, published this morning, reporting that Scotland Yard admitted yesterday that the man gunned down by London police on the Tube last Friday was not connected to the terrorist bombings of July 7, or the attempted bombings of July 21st. The mayor of London, Ken Livingston, had issued "shoot to kill" orders for police, who previously did not carry firearms at all, in regard to terror suspects under certain circumstances. (For a good, short summary of events so far, see this post and this one by Josh at "Freedom Of..." He has...
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June 22, 2005
Richard Stallman Compares Software Patents to Literary Patents
In an article
in The Guardian
, Richard Stallman
argues that software patents are more like literary patents than technical patents, and that had literary patents been in effect in the 19th century, great novels like Victor Hugo's Les Miserables
(which I have not read) would have been impossible. It's a good read and, though Stallman can sometimes be a bit nutty, he isn't here. Take a look.
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June 12, 2005
Gonzales v. Reich: Antonin Scalia on the Commerce Clause and federal drug law
"John the Methodist" of Locusts and Honey
(the other Evangelical Libertarian blog) is upset
about Justice Scalia's concurring opinion in the recent Gonzales v. Reich
case. The Court ruled that the federal government has authority to prohibit medical use of marijuana, justified by the rather frightening effects of the Commerce Clause (I.8.3
) when combined with the Necessary and Proper Clause (I.8.18
). The two together, says the Court decision, give Congress the power to place serious restrictions on intrastate activities when these regulations are necessary to make legitimate regulation of interstate commerce efficacious. After reading the majority and Scalia's consent (I didn't look too closely at the Thomas/Rhenquist dissent; Supreme Court opinions tend to be very long), I find that I have mixed feelings about the decision. The opinion I'm leaning toward is that the Constitution does in fact support the majority's opinion, but it shouldn't.
Continue reading "Gonzales v. Reich: Antonin Scalia on the Commerce Clause and federal drug law"
June 7, 2005
Rossi Lawsuit Dismissed
I blogged earlier on the lawsuit filed by Republican Dino Rossi challenging the election of Washington Governor Christine Gregoire. Today the New York Times is Judge reporting that Judge John E. Bridges of the Chelan County Superior Court in Wenatchee has dismissed the case, and the Rossi campaign has decided not to appeal to the state supreme court. A most unfortunate development....
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May 31, 2005
Blind Mind's Eye on Christian Libertarianism
Christian blog Blind Mind's Eye has a great post on the compatibility of Christianity and libertarianism. Worth a read....
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May 24, 2005
Christine Gregoire, Legal Challenges, and I-601
Kevin Hamilton, the attorney for Democratic Governor (maybe) of Washington Christine Gregoire in the ongoing election battle, is quoted
in today's New York Times
stating that "imperfection is not enough to overturn an election." An astute observation. After all, every election is imperfect. But is Mr. Hamilton not aware that the "imperfection" in the election amounts, at the very least, to thousands
of votes, and Ms. Gregoire's alleged victory (after losing the first two counts) was by a margin of precisely 129 ballots
Continue reading "Christine Gregoire, Legal Challenges, and I-601"
May 8, 2005
Spokane Mayor Sex Scandal Makes New York Times
The Times has picked up a long-running story from the Spokesman Review on a sex scandal involving the mayor of Spokane, Washington (close to home). It seems this is all the Spokesman has been writing about for a week or two. There is a summary here. The Times interviewed a Gonzaga political science professor, Blaine Garvin, who said he was uneasy with the ethical implications of the investigation. Apparently the Spokesman has been tracking this story for years and finally hired a forensic computer expert who had worked with the feds on child pornography cases who posed as a 17...
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April 5, 2005
Republican Theocracy the Cause of Liberal Bias in Academia?
The Times is running an editorial today claiming that Republicans are under-represented in academia because "today's Republican Party - increasingly dominated by people who believe truth should be determined by revelation, not research - doesn't respect science, or scholarship in general." I blogged earlier on this sort of problem (not that trust in revelation is a problem, but disrespect for science, research, and learning in general is) leading to the low number of Evangelicals in academia. Which is the more fundamental cause? Are there few Evangelicals in academia because most are Republicans and Republicans have this problem? Or are there...
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January 27, 2005
Postcards From Buster
A New York Times article,
and also a WorldMag Blog post
are reporting today that the airing of an episode of the PBS childrens' program "Postcards From Buster" was cancelled due to the presence of a lesbian couple. The show was schedule for February 2, but was not distributed to affiliates on time due to controversy surrounding its content. One PBS station, WGBH-TV Boston, has decided to air the program anyway, and distribute it to other PBS stations. According to the NYT article, "'Postcards From Buster' is a spinoff of 'Arthur' that combines live action and animation and went on the air a year ago. In the series, aimed at young elementary schoolchildren, Buster travels to 24 different states with his father and sends video postcards home ... One episode featured a family with five children, living in a trailer in Virginia, all sharing one room. In another, Buster visits a Mormon family in Utah. He has dropped in on fundamentalist Christians and Muslims as well as American Indians and Hmong. He has shown the lives of children who have only one parent, and those who live with grandparents." Strangely enough, I've decided that I support the airing of this episode. Let me tell you why.
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January 25, 2005
Penn For Life in the Christian Science Monitor
This morning WorldMag Blog
to an article
in the Christian Science Monitor
on the explosive growth of Penn For Life (of which I am not a member, due partially to lack of time and partially to their anti-death penalty demonstration last year). Now, I'd provide this link anyway, just because it made me happy to see Penn's name in the WorldMag headlines on my desktop, but as though that wasn't enough, the article quotes Penn Crusade
's own Natasha Mooney! And as if that
wasn't enough, she has wonderful things to say:
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January 6, 2005
Why Gonzales Will be Better Than Ashcroft
The New York Times
is running two editorials
on the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney-General, expected to occur after senate hearings today. The wide-spread criticism of Gonzales for the opinions he's given the Bush administration is justified to a certain degree, but I think (I HOPE) that these editorialists go a bit too far. I'm reasonably confident that Gonzales will be better than Ashcroft. Here's why:
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December 15, 2004
Ever Wondered What Things are Like Where I Come From?
You can read about it in the Times today. This is an excellent and accurate description of what things are like in Eastern Washington (in the context of a discussion of the Washington gubernatorial election, in which, according to the Secretary of State's office, Republican Dino Rossi won the machine recount by a mere 42 votes, the closest election in Washington's history, and a manual recount is now underway). Enjoy!...
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December 9, 2004
Politics, Sex, and Indoctrination in the American Education System
Today's arts section of the New York Times
contains an article (more of an opinion piece, really) entitled "The Plot Against Sex in America"
(how's that for a provocative title?). The article discusses the decision by New York City's public broadcast television station not to run "Kinsey," a movie about zoologist Alfred Kinsey, who famously published on human sexuality in the 1940s and '50s. I'm not going to talk too much about the film, other than to say that candor about sexual practice is better than hypocrisy, even if the sexual practice we're talking about is blatantly immoral. Instead, I would like to focus on another point brought out in the article: The politics of education in general, and sexual education in particular.
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November 20, 2004
Greenspan, International Investors Question The Dollar's Continued Viability
The New York Times is reporting today that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, along with his Japanese and European equivalents and various international investors, are questioning the continued viability of the U.S. Dollar. It seems that the fact that the nation has accumulated $2.6 trillion, 23% of our GNP, in debt to foreign investors is scaring some of them away. The European Union is concerned that the drop in the value of the dollar is leading to deflation of the Euro, which is apparently bad for the economy (I guess because it decreases the value of goods while increasing the value...
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November 5, 2004
Education, Democracy, Moral Idealism, The Church, and Academia
There are lots of current events I could be blogging about right now (I still haven't commented on the election results, and two news items totally made my day today: John Ashcroft is retiring and Yasser Arafat is dying. Also, Dr. Faustus opened this evening). However, none, of them is particularly inspiring at the moment. Instead of venturing into the wacky world of real politics and the present (which I have done too much of the last few months leading up to the election), I've decided to venture backward in time some 2,500 years, and comment on Plato's Republic, its...
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October 25, 2004
In Defense of Washington State Referendum 55
I got my hometown newspaper today (it's a bi-monthly that I get by mail a week after it comes out), and they are running a letter to the editor in opposition to R-55. Unfortunately, there will not be another issue put out before election day, so I am writing here instead of placing my own letter in the newspaper. The letter, from Garfield school food services supervisor Cindy Dvorak, notes that charter schools have already been rejected by voters twice in the past eight years, and claims that "it's still bad for kids." I feel the need to respond to...
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October 18, 2004
Sorry Washington Libertarian Party: I'm Officially for I-872
It's official. I support Washington State Initiative 872. I blogged about this issue earlier prompting Libertarian candidate for Washington Secretary of State and former Washington LP chairman Jacqueline Passey to comment that it has produced terrible corruption in Louisiana and it restricts voter choice. It doesn't restrict voter choice, and it's probably not responsible for the corruption in Louisiana. Washington's primary election turnout is high, and will probably continue to be if this initiative passes. It doesn't restrict voter choice, it lets voters choose ANYONE THEY WANT - provided they are smart enough to pick up a primary election ballot....
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October 16, 2004
America Becoming a Police State?
I just saw on the Badnarik Campaign Blog
the results of a new Rasmussen survey.
There are all sort of interesting data on here. For instance, 76% of Americans have heard of the Libertarian Party, and 32% have heard of Michael Badnarik. However, 73% of the country says that the national media has not given them enough information to determine if they agree with Badnarik's positions or not. All of this is very intersting, but one point stuck out to me: 31% of those surveyed believe that America is becoming a "police state". This can mean one of two things: Either many of these people do not understand the meaning of the term "police state", or else 31% of Americans are actually aware of the results of the Patriot Act, etc. and concerned about them. Let's hope it's the latter! 31% is not enough to effect changes without first persuading others, but it is enough to get attention from politicians and the media, which is what is needed to persuade others. Here's hoping!
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October 15, 2004
When Will the Media Get It? Ralph Nader is OVER!
The New York Times is reporting today that Ralph Nader is expected to be "the threat Democrats feared." They make no mention of any other third party candidates in the article. This is utterly ridiculous. Take a look at this Zogby poll. Between August 30 and September 19, Nader's support fell by more than half, from 3% to just 1.4%, while Libertarian Michael Badnarik's support QUADRUPLED from .3% to 1.2%. I haven't been able to find any current polling data, but if the trend has continued, the results should be obvious. Furthermore, according to Ballot Access News, Michael Badnarik will...
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Posted by Kenny
at 3:58 PM
October 13, 2004
George W. Bush Has a Good Idea
Mark your calendars. You'll want to remember where you were on this day in history. Today, the New York Times
is reporting, President George W. Bush has a good idea. Read the article here.
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October 2, 2004
NYT: Bush/Kerry Debate NOT a Clash of Ideologies (I Could've Told You That)
The New York Times is running an editorial today pointing out that the first Bush/Kerry debate "wasn't so much a clash of ideologies, or a clash of cultures." We knew that. Was I the only one that noticed that the most repeated phrase in the entire debate, by both candidates, was "I agree with my opponent"? Bush and Kerry agreed on almost every issue, then split hairs over the exact implementation of the policy they both agree with. This is more pronounced in the area of foreign policy than any other area I can think of, which is why it...
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October 1, 2004
More Lawsuits from the Libertarian Party - Good Ones This Time
My last post may have made it look like I was altogether opposed to the use of lawsuits for purposes such as advancing the Libertarian Party. This is not, in fact, the case. When rights are being trampled on and electoral systems are truly unfairly slanted, taking it to the courts is often the best course of action. The Libertarian party has taken two such actions which I agree with in the very recent past.
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September 28, 2004
More Primary System Silliness (Not in Washington This Time)
According to this story on the (new and improved) Michael Badnarik campaign blog, yet another primary system is being challenged in the Supreme Court. The Libertarian Party has sued the state of Oklahoma on the grounds that its primary system violates the Party's right of freedom of political association by not allowing the Party to invite registered members of other parties to vote in their primary. I find this very curious, as the Libertarian Party of Washington State seems to have been a party to the lawsuit which invalidated Washington's old primary system (the press release from the Secretary of...
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September 27, 2004
An interesting tidbit: According to this article, Michael Badnarik's mother, Elaine, is running for Liutenant Governor of his home state, Indiana. Mrs. Badnarik is also a Libertarian. Guess it runs in the family....
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September 20, 2004
Badnarik Finally Comments on IP
On Slashdot today, Michael Badnarik finally comments on intellectual property law (see my earlier post on this here). The issue came up in the seventh question of the slashdot interview. While he doesn't give quite the answer I'd like, he does say that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act was a mistake, and he seems to think that the market should sort things out, rather than corporations lobbying the government to preserve artificial monopolies. He also seems to come out in support of file-sharing. Good stuff, overall....
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Censorship and Internet Porn
is blogging today
on obscenity laws and the possibility of regulating online pornography, and in particular access to it by children. This is a difficult issue for me, as I often find myself, in the ordinary course of living my life, watching television, using the Internet, accidentally exposed to content I find offensive, despite making an active attempt to avoid it. However, as a libertarian, I generally oppose government censorship, and don't trust the government (or myself) to distinguish pornography from art correctly 100% of the time, and I wouldn't want any true art permanently destroyed because of anti-pornography legislation. I also wouldn't want such legislation to result in the government monitoring the communications of private citizens, or artists of any variety having to clear their work with the government before publishing. I do, however, have some idea as to how to reconcile these issues to one another.
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September 1, 2004
The Present State of Free Speech in America
We all heard about the "free speech zone" at the Democratic National Convention (in case you didn't, it was an area surrounded by razor wire under a freeway overpass). Well, today, the New York Times is reporting that at least 900 protesters were arrested yesterday throughout New York City, where the Republican National Convention is being held. Police broke up protests, often violently, before the protesters had a chance to do anything illegal. Ever heard of the First Amendment? No? Didn't think so... And to think that this crap cost tax payers $80 million... (That's just for the two conventions,...
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August 31, 2004
Electoral Reform in Washington
Alright, the time has come for me to comment. If you live in Washington, you've no doubt heard of the crap that's gone on. The Republicans and Democrats (acting together, to preserve their shared dominance over the American political system) sued the state over its "blanket primary" system, and the system was declared unconstitutional, because it is a "nominating primary" and yet it does not give the parties any control over who is voting to nominate their candidates. Washington never had a presidential primary, due to not having a valid electoral system in place. Under the original system, Washington voters...
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August 25, 2004
Download Music and ... the Government Will Steal Your Computer?
Also on slashdot today, a pointer to a Reuters story about a justice department raid on the homes of peope accused of the vicious crime of ... file sharing? Four raids took place, computers were confiscated but not arrests were made. John Ashcroft reportedly made idiotic and generally fascist statements to the affect that it would be "inappropriate" for the justice department to "stand by while such theft is taking place." Give me a break! Allow me to let you in on a little secret: If I can take it from you, without depriving you of it ... It's NOT...
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August 22, 2004
Props to Joe Lance of The Chattanoogan
Props to Joe Lance for his great opinion piece in The Chattanoogan. Mr. Lance has an excellent list of the "un-Conservative" things done by the Bush administration and points out that "In far too many cases, the phrase 'conservative values' refers only to the candidate's views on aspects of social interaction or religious concepts. The hype surrounding the so-called 'culture wars' is a distraction and a ploy to ensure that the rural, lower middle class votes for a feeling about morality rather than for an economically sound administration" concluding that the only way for a true political conservative to go...
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August 13, 2004
Interview with Michael Badnarik
The Augusta Free Press has a great interview with Michael Badnarik today. Some of my favorite quotes: On the 9/11 Commission Report: "The 9/11 Report reads sort of like a Rogaine prescription for a chemotherapy patient. Yes, the patient is losing his hair, but that's the least of his problems. The report talks a lot about enhancing the nation's ability to collect and analyze intelligence, but it doesn't get to the real problem, which is an interventionist foreign policy that needlessly creates enemies." On the Federal Department of Education: "I've read the Constitution many times. No matter how I read...
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August 11, 2004
Badnarik Campaign: Now is the Time. Speak up on Intellectual Property Law!
The Badnarik campaign is reporting
on their blog
today that their site's Alexa stats
are continuing to climb. If you examine the statistics closely, you will note that badnarik.org has already exceeded georgewbush.com in total pageviews per day, and is poised to defeat that site in "reach" (the number of internet users out of every million who view the site each day) as well. There are thousands (and that's a conservative estimate) of avid Internet users who are eligible voters disenfranchised by America's two-party system. This force being mobilized by the Badnarik campaign could, at the least, really shake things up (imagine a Libertarian winning a couple of Electoral votes!). However, there is one issue very near and dear to the heartss of these would-be voter computer nerds which the Badnarik campaign has completely failed to address: Intellectual property.
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August 10, 2004
In Case There Was Any Doubt: IRS Shows True Colors As Illegal Extortion Racket
The New York Times is running an article today entitled "Tech Company Settled Tax Case Without an Audit". The text basically shows how a secret agreement between the IRS and a minor semiconductor firm allowed said firm to avoid paying some $51 million in back taxes on shady stock option packages given to employees. Frustrated with the failure of the internal chain of command to address the illegal nature of the deal, Remy Welling, the auditor who was asked to approve it, took her case to the FBI, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), and the press. She will lose her...
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August 9, 2004
Rights for Authors - Not Publishers
Tim Wu, guest blogging forLawrence Lessig, notes that the JibJab parody of "This Land is Your Land" is actually supported by the family and estate of Woody Guthrie, the now deceased author of the song. Asked about the parody, granddaughter Cathy Guthrie reportedly responded "this parody was made for you and me." The rights are controlled by a company known as The Richmond Organization, and they are threatening to sue JibJab. The parody is hilariously funny and highly reccomended. The family's decision ought to stand, and the rights of individuals ought to triumph over the rights of huge corporations. After...
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The Bush Campaigns Active Targetting of Conservative Churches - An Outrage!
The New York Times is reporting again (free registration required) on the Bush campaign's active targetting of conservative churches. One Assembly of God near St. Louis, Missouri is reported to have sent out so many political mailings to its members that the postal service denied it the free postage priveleges generally given to non-profit organizations. This is an outrage. The Church is a place for morals, but not for politics. The two are not the same.Churches endorsing particular political leaders was a large part of what led to the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. The...
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July 12, 2004
Check out this ad!
This ad was entered in the Michael Badnarik photoshop contest on blog.badnarik.org
. I love the copy!
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July 10, 2004
New Badnarik Ad
Check out this cool new ad from Michael Badnarik's web-site:
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July 9, 2004
Idiocy and the Gay Marriage Debate
The New York Times
that the senate will soon be holding it's debates on President Bush's "Federal Marriage Amendment." I'm now going to tell you why every side of this issue (or, rather, every side that is being heard in the mass media) is dominated by idiots.
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June 8, 2004
After being rated third in the polls throughout most of his campaign for the Libertarian presidential nomination, Michael Badnarik has come away fromthe Libertarian National Convention in Atlanta as the official Libertarian candidate for president of the United States. Hurrah! Now we all have someone to vote for in November......
Continue reading "Badnarik Victorious!"
May 31, 2004
Anti-Plagiarism Legislation as an (Almost) Adequate Replacement for Intellectual Property Law
I spend a lot of time here railing against the RIAA, et al., and it may sound as though I am opposed to intellectual property law altogether. This is pretty much the case. How, you may ask, can someone who is such a big fan of books, and plays, and science, and movies, and music think this way? The truth is that intellectual property law does help encourage production in these fields. I believe that people who create really outstanding works in these fields have a drive to create, and would do so even if they received no compensation whatsoever,...
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April 29, 2004
ACLU Suing FBI over Patriot Act
So apparently the ACLU is suing the FBI. The matter contested is a provision of the USA Patriot Act allowing law enforcement to use "National Security Letters" to obtain information about individuals from ISPs and so forth without any judicial oversight when investigating terrorism or espionage. Besides lack of judicial oversight, there are three big problems with the Patriot Act's modification to the National Security Letter law. First, there is a strict "gag order," so that after your ISP releases information on all the web-sites you've visited and comments you've posted and so forth they can be prosecuted if they tell you they have done so - ever. Second, as a result of this, there is no way to challenge the letter, as there would be in a normal subpoena. Third, there is no requirement that the individual whose information is requested actually be suspected of terrorism or espionage, there merely has to be some terrorism or espionage investigation going on that is somehow related, however tenuously. Wow, isn't it great to live in a free country with constitutional protection against "unreasonable search and seizure"? Well, MAYBE the ACLU will win the lawsuit, and MAYBE Congress will not listen to Bush (who, by the way, by conducting himself in this manner with regard to this issue, has lost any chance he had at getting my vote) and will let Patriot "sunset". MAYBE someone somewhere has some sense. I kind of doubt it, don't you?
Check out the ACLU press release here
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March 26, 2004
A Decent Presidential Candidate?
Ever hear me talk about politics? I generally answer questions about my political leanings one of two ways, both of which are rather vague and obscure. The first is "I hate the Republican Party slightly less than I hate the Democratic Party." The second is "I am a right-leaning minarchist." The meaning of the first statement is obvious, it just doesn't say anything about what I like, only what I hate less, which is a very different thing. The second term is confusing, because these terms are not often used in this way. To explain this, I understand the right-left...
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March 22, 2004
EFF Proposes Solution for Online Music Downloading
The Electronic Frontier Foundation
, a civil liberties organization which focuses on technological issues, has proposed a very sensible solution to some of the problems related to peer-to-peer filesharing, in hopes of stopping the Recording Industry Association of America
from suing more users. Check it out here
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May 16, 2003
Some Political Ramblings - "Controlled Anarchy"
It's been just over a month since I've written here and I noticed that according to my web-server logs, somebody actually looks at this page (specifically, twelve unique IPs hit this site in the last week - only one can be mine). I was most surprised at this finding, and so, when I determined that there was, in fact, something to be written, I decided that I had better write it. I had just come from a few hours spent in Leon Uris's Trinity, when I got up to check my e-mail and noticed in the RSS feeds that Evolution...
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