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Archive for October, 2003

Let Me Rock You, Shakra Khan

Friday, October 31st, 2003

Been waiting for an opportunity to use that one.

Anyway, a debilitating focus on second-favorite ODE columnist Joe Bechard has perhaps led us to be remiss in informing our readership that the erstwhile DJ Serpentine is baaaack, and he’s taking on the media. The entire thing demands to be read, of course, but here’s a particularly golden bit. The set-up is an excerpt from an IndyMedia post:

While the corporate media were regurgitating the Bush administration’s lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction and giving Saddam Hussein’s Human Rights Abuses record prominent play, what went unreported was the fact that people like Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, William Kristol and Dick Cheney have been putting together a plan for American Military Occupation of the Middle East and control of the region’s oil for decades.

And the punchline, the lesson that our hero draws from this, is:

From these small snippets, I conclude that we must search for news outlets that provide us with depth and factual information — not just homogenized nonsense.

Hear hear! Depth, factual information, and decades-spanning conspiracy theories. One mustn’t neglect the decades-spanning conspiracy theories.

High-tech Alternatives To Delete Key Found Wanting?

Friday, October 31st, 2003

According to this NYT story, the Justice Department recently posted the results of a diversity-related study on their website, with lots of bits blacked out. Now, they’re not obliged to post anything at all, and the content of the study isn’t particularly salacious, so that’s not the interesting part. But enterprising Memory Hole “information archaeologist” Russ Kick has managed to recover the original report from the DoJ’s redacted version, and here he posts them both.

So here’s my question: Assuming that Kick isn’t just making up the un-blacked-out bits (“In addition, this commission finds that Russ Kick should be issued a special federal get-out-of-jail-free card, valid for an indefinite period…”) how the hell do you do that? The report is a PDF file, so maybe there’s a clever software-related way of uncensoring the censored parts. But in that case, why wouldn’t the DoJ just delete the bits they don’t want made public and then publish it in PDF?

I may be missing something blindingly obvious here, but I’m curious.

UGHT!

Thursday, October 30th, 2003

This thread over at Tacitus illuminates how the UN feels about taxes. They want more, for everyone. That’s all I’m going to say, interested parties can go read the Tacitus thread. I know Oliver will get on me if this turns into another monster econo-policy post. Also, I don’t feel so hot this morning.

Farewell, Iain Duncan Smith

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

Alas, we hardly knew ye. But we’re still quite glad you never ended up running the country.

Now my Prime Minister’s Questions drinking game (drink whenever Tony Blair says “investment”, whenever IDS asks an incredibly technical question the answer to which he has looked up in advance, etc) will need updating.

Political Ecology

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

Hit and Run points out Mike Davis’ fire column at the reliably loopy Alternet. Since various Reason contributors have already spent years skewering Davis’ collected works, they’ve now resorted to a kind of pro forma eye-rolling; nevertheless, some lines are too good to pass up:

Republicans tend to disproportionately concentrate themselves in the wrong altitudes and ecologies.

Indeed. Bret, you should be living higher. Or, conceivably, lower. I’ll have to ask Mike which.

Comments still broken. I intend to sue Backblog.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

Oh boy. Well, the IndyMedia post wasn’t really plausible as a Reuters dispatch; I think (based on a knowledge of the law that stops two or three steps beyond “killing people is wrong”) that a libel lawsuit is a bit of a stretch. IndyMedia just ends up looking like a bunch of little kids. On the other hand, it’s hard to wish them anything but ill.

The LGFites call them “NaziMedia”. They call Charles Johnson a child molester. It’s all a bit tiring.

Likewise Moore: it’s been a while since I saw Bowling for Columbine, and all I remember about the Nichols interview is that he came out of it looking like a complete wacko. Now, that may or may not be fair, but I’ll be surprised if it turns out he has a case. (More irritating was the tacit assertion that the Michigan Militia is a representative face of gun owners in America.)

You want libel? I’ll show you libel!

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

I was just preparing to comment on Michael Moore’s pithy, incisive, cogent, uh, uh, um… vibrant and HIGHLY mature presentation in Portland the other day–well, okay, it was actually a dimwitted prank phone call–when this came down the mojo wire:

He’s been sued for libel, defamation of character, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress by Terry Nichols’ brother James for his treatment of James in Bowling for Columbine. I’m as amateur as anyone on the merits of the case, but the damage cap does sound just a tad high–$10 to $20 million on each of nine claims.

What next for America’s greatest pseudo-journalist?

More Amateur Hour… (with new, improved spelling)

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

At least in the legal sense. Now, I’m not a huge LGF fan. But this post by Stephen DenBeste clearly outlines that IndyMedia has libeled Charles Johnson pretty badly. The story they posted is factually false, and never appeared on Reuters. I smell lawsuit, and rightly so, Mr. Johnson’s reputation could suffer severe harm from this, and he’s apparently already recieved death threats. Good lord.

The Story, Yet Again, Is The Cover-Up

Monday, October 27th, 2003

The Volokhs point at this disturbing story of campus media mismanagement.

One quote to keep in mind:

At private schools, it’s up to the university to decide whether the First Amendment is a good idea or not.

Meanwhile, I have progressed from ripping stories directly from Instapundit to ripping them directly from the Volokh Conspiracy, which makes me feel bad. On the other hand, unlike some people, this is strictly extra-curricular for me. On which note, I am off to watch the new Polish Brothers film. I am hoping they will end up sharing more traits with the Coen Brothers than the Farrelly Brothers. Good night, all.

Janice Brown some more

Monday, October 27th, 2003

I suppose I might elaborate on Janice Brown.

Brown’s basically a flawless libertarian. Her interest in liberty is consistent in all areas of the law. It seems to me that the NAACP and various other groups are premising their opposition to Brown strictly on the fact that she is probably not a fan of affirmative action or other “progressive” approaches to racial issues. They’re willing to stake their position on this, at the expense of her fantastically “liberal” treatment of civil liberties in the criminal realm.

She’s a bit eccentric and irreverent in her opinions and her respect for precedent. While this is a liability in a lower appellate position, it could be an asset if she eventually finds her way to the Supreme Court, where precedent is a little less important and vibrant intellectual engagement a lot more. And let’s face it: right now, Scalia’s the only personality on the Court. It could use some livening up when one of those octogenarians decides to move on.

My only substantive complaint about her is that she appears to favor the treatment of environmental and other regulations as due process “takings” deserving of just compensation. I’m probably in the minority in this forum, but I’m opposed to that extension of due process, libertarian though it may be. It looks fair on paper but it would be disastrous. (No philosophy’s perfect, folks.)

Other than that, I like her because she is so consistent on civil liberties–to an extent that, as I noted earlier, may cause more than a little friction with John Ashcroft. (I won’t complain.) The administration appears willing to take that chance. Considering that they picked a California judge for a federal circuit on the opposite end of the country (which fast-tracks into the Supremes), one can infer that they like her a lot.

Janice Brown

Monday, October 27th, 2003

Olly, one quote from the second (and obviously disfavored) source you list stuck out for me. Here it is:

“For the administration to bring forward a nominee with this record and hope to get some kind of credit because she is the first African American woman nominated to the DC Circuit is one more sign of the administration’s political cynicism.”

–Hilary Shelton, director, NAACP Washington Bureau.

Interesting point, Hilary. Tell me, what’s more cynical: the administration’s nomination of a black woman who might, on some issues, be in alignment with the administration (I doubt she’s a big fan of PATRIOT, by her record), or your organization’s resistance to her nomination based on the fact that she does not share the political views you apparently expect all black women to share? Why don’t you just come right out and call her what Belafonte called Powell, you small-minded ideologue?

I think this might help you gauge what I think.

Kudos for use of the phrase "Academy of Interpretive Disco"

Monday, October 27th, 2003

Good stuff, guys.

Dan, do you have an opinion on potential DC Circuit Judge Janice Brown? As far as I can tell, she’s either the greatest thing since sliced bread (“[Her opinions are] distinguished by their eloquence, sharp wit, intellectual breadth, and fidelity to core Constitutional principles…“) or another harbinger of the apocalypse (“…has a record of hostility to fundamental civil and constitutional rights principles, and she is committed to using her power as a judge to twist the law in ways that undermine those principles…”) I am woefully unqualified to draw any conclusions on legal matters – much less US legal matters – although I certainly find one of the above links more persuasive. (Hint: it’s the one with more specifics.)

Meanwhile, anyone reading this who hasn’t already done so should check out Flog. Be sure to stop by the Schiavo-related meta-argument (my favorite kind!) with Armed Prophet, himself late of this parish.

Upon Further Review….

Monday, October 27th, 2003

After reading Dan’s post below, and the article again. It does sound as if the school takes money directly from the state, rendering the public funding issue moot. And, Woodall does probably have a case if the school did not make the policy known up-front. The exclusion based on religion thing is a bit tricky. Yes, if you take public money you should not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of what could be called extraneous factors. Does that mean you can’t have a theology requirement? Or a weekly chapel service? What about prayer? I know that’s a slippery slope, and I’m in no way trying to argue that a ruling in favor of the boy and his mother on the basis that the policy was implicit rather than explicit will raise these sorts of issues; but the question of just how far a private school must go in order to receive vouchers is bound to come up as these sorts of programs [rightly] become more prevalent.

To answer Dan’s question: Because religion can be a powerful motivator. The lad may have felt a pull toward a religious environment, where he was among people who held at least similar views about those sorts of things. He may not have known about being expelled for being gay, and he may not have known about (or there might not have been) any general anti-gay sentiment on the campus. He also, apparently, enrolled in the school long before he realized he was gay. Things happen. Would I have picked it? No. Can I understand why he might have? Certainly.

A More Interesting Question

Sunday, October 26th, 2003

First of all, I think Woodall and his mother probably can make a case for an inappropriate dismissal, if as they claim the possibility wasn’t spelled out in the handbook.

That claim, probably by design, avoids the bigger question about the use of public money. It sounds from the article like the money goes directly from the state to the school. If so, in my opinion they have no right to expel a gay student.

But it’s tricky. The federal requirement that a school must not discriminate on race, color, or national origin seems at first like it should logically extend to sexual orientation. Yet, what else is missing from that list? Why, religion, of course. And who likes to exclude homosexuals? Religious groups! [Er, and the military...] Are these two omissions intentional and related? I don’t know, but I have my suspicions. And I think it stinks. If you’re going to take public money (directly), I think you need to let in the public.

That said, I have an interesting question of my own. WHY did he choose THAT private school? Bible study? Blech. I mean, to each their own, but if I was a gay high school student in West Palm Beach and I wanted a private school, you’d probably find me down at Lance Tower’s Academy of Interpretive Disco.

An Interesting Question

Saturday, October 25th, 2003

This from Drudge piqued my interest. Also, it raises a number of interesting questions. Now, I think we can all agree that private organizations have a right to accept and reject members or participants as they see fit, vis a vis The Boy Scouts of America. I think we can all also agree that we do not like the exclusion of individuals based on their sexuality, but that in America the freedom of association gives private groups the right to do so. To my mind, those questions are settled, and that’s not the interesting bit.

The interesting bit is whether or not a school that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation can accept money in the form of vouchers and whether or not such a school is obligated to tell parents and students up front about their policy. It seems to me that the real question is whether or not vouchers are technically public money. And, I suppose, that probably depends on the way the voucher system in Florida is set up. If the State gives a family, say, a cash refund from its taxes that must be used for tuition, I’d probably argue that it isn’t technically public money. But, if the State directly pays the tuition for a voucher, then the money might technically be public. It’s sort of like basketball, the team who touched it last loses possession if the ball goes out of bounds. The other tidbit is that in order to accept vouchers the school must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. I wonder where the ACLU will come down on this one…first amendment or anti-discrimination?