Radicalism on Terror

Glenn Greenwald shows, once again, how unworthy the current GOP are of the mantle of Reagan. The problem is that the Democrats are completely spineless on War on Terror issues.

I do disagree with Greenwald in one respect: there are aspects of the conflict that do require the war model. Afghanistan, for example, was a nation state that basically existed to foment radicalism and terrorism. It needed a war to deal with it (although, as always, the duration was longer than the war). But with the Taliban broken and few states willing to be official terrorist harbors, we need to shift back to a legal framework.

This is not an either-or question. Sometimes we use the tools of war; sometimes those of the law. Yes, that false dichotomy rears its ugly head again.

Weekend Linkorama

  • For the record, giving the panty-bomber his rights did not cost us intelligence info.
  • In the end, we’re all gonna die.
  • More from the global warming front. On the flip side, here’s a valid reason to be skeptical of climate change models. Now that’s skepticism I can get behind.
  • Heh. (NSFW)
  • Nice to know that Culpeper, Virginia, is protecting girls from their own vaginas.
  • iPad and the Salvation of Writing

    I was just watching the presentation of the iPad (I want, but I have no money). I’ve been reading for a while about the death of the written book thanks to Kindle and other devices. I think it’s exaggerated for reasons I outlined in my previous post on movie streaming. As long as big business thinks digital copies are licenses, not ownership, people will not give up their hard copies. But I do think we’re going to see a bigger shift toward e-books.

    The reason? The advent of the e-book is going to slowly shift an enormous amount of power away from publishers and toward writers. Think about it. If Apple runs their ibook store like they run, say, their iphone aps, the effect will be to shatter the strangehold big publishers have over publication. If a writer can upload his book to ibooks and get $1 per download (as app writers do), it becomes possible to make a living as a writer without having to play pattycake with the big publishing houses.

    In the end, I still don’t think the physical book will die. But I see a shift of publishing from the editing/marketing/soliciting business into a straight forward printing directly from e-books — i.e., publishers will become more like Easton Press — selling you any book you want in a beautiful robust edition.

    Midweek Linkorama

  • I am always amazed by how close the human race has come to extinction in the past.
  • How stupid are people? This stupid.
  • The logic of Pac-Man. Cool.
  • Why am I not surprised that the ACORN-busting guy got pinched for breaking the law.
  • Balko on assert forfeiture. Scary stuff.
  • It’s rare that I link to American Progress, but their guide to identifying deficit “peacocks” is very interesting. There’s simply no way we’re going to balance the budget without raising taxes. But Republicans are too wedded to mindless tax cut ideology and Democrats are too scared.
  • How dare you discriminate against the unreliable!
  • Man, do I love me some photography.
  • Weekend Linkorama

  • Sometimes I really like Glenn Greenwald who defends a Court decision that clearly makes him uncomfortable.
  • I do like Gary Johnson as the Republican future; although I’ve said that before and gotten burned.
  • More from our disappearing polar ice.
  • Why is Air America closing? Quite simple. With Bush gone, they don’t have anyone to attack anymore. Attacking the GOP at this point is like beating a dead horse. A stupid dead horse.
  • This is an absolutely appalling story. Laws intended to stop child molesters are being used to make life impossible for prostitutes in New Orleans. Gee, guys. What do you think these women are going to do when they are shut out of any legitimate employment?
  • The Minority Majority

    This is … a strange point:

    Counting the new Republican Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts, the 41 Republicans in the Senate come from states representing just over 36.5 percent of the total US population. The 59 others (Democratic plus 2 Independent) represent just under 63.5 percent. (Taking 2009 state populations from here. If you count up the totals and split a state’s population when it has a spit delegation, you end up with about 112.3 million Republican, 194.7 million Democratic + Indep. Before Brown’s election, it was about 198 million Democratic + Ind, 109 million Republican.)

    Let’s round the figures to 63/37 and apply them to the health care debate. Senators representing 63 percent of the public vote for the bill; those representing 37 percent vote against it. The bill fails.

    Except that your assuming the states vote as one big glop. There are 37 million people in California. They are not all Democrats, but they count as such in this logic. The reality is that the country is slightly more Democratic right now than it is Republican (although more conservative than it is liberal). So by party, you’d go something like 51-43, splitting the independents. By philosophy, you’d go something like 60-30 against, against splitting the moderates.

    But that still assume all conservatives or Republicans oppose the bill and all liberals or Democrats favor it. In fact, the polling would indicate that you’d have something like 55-45 against. Or more.

    But we don’t vote based on opinion polls, thank God. Or party identification or anything else. We are not a Democracy. We are a Constitutional Republic and that Republic works a certain way.

    Don’t like it? Change it. But don’t whine about how unrepresentative it is. It’s not designed to be representative. It’s designed to be bound by law and the Constitution.

    The Digital Now

    This Christmas, I heard a lot of people express skepticism about buying new DVDs and blu-rays. The reason was because was are supposedly going to go to digital streaming and storage of movies. What do you need a blu-ray for when you can have all the movie you want on a hard disk?

    I remain skeptical of this.

    I’ll ignore for the moment any arguments about technology. I’ve been streaming netflix movies to my TV for some time and they look fine. I’m sure that will only improve. I have no doubt that a lot of movies will be watched that way. And while there are concerns that the internet infrastructure can keep up, I’m sure enough money will make the problem go away.

    But I remain skeptical that an iTunes like device will completely replace the video library, at least for a long long time. My skepticism is based on three recent events.

    First, I recently bought both The Dark Knight and Star Trek on blu-ray with the so-called digital copy. If this is the future of home video, you can leave me out. The digital copies are only authorized on a certain number of machines (and the bad code caused it to register on my laptop twice). Hollywood has been immensely stupid on DRM and I have no intention of putting my movie pleasure at their mercy. I suspect I am not alone in this.

    Second the recent incident in which Amazon yanked copies of 1984 off of Kindle was alarming. Bezos apologized but the reasoning behind it sounded ominous — a copyright violation. What might happen if we have, say, a “Coming to America” style copyright dispute? Will the movies vanish from our hard drives? Or what happens if some government agent decides that, for example, “The Tin Drum” constitute kiddie porn and then unilaterally yanks it from every video library in America?

    Finally, there is the very real danger that certain directors (*cough* Lucas *cough*) might decide to put out new and improved versions of their movies, replacing original copies while you sleep. Do we want to give them that power?

    The fundamental problem here is that Hollywood’s (and Washington’s) attitude is that you do not own digital copies of movies, music or books — you merely license them. I see this as the pin that may eventually burst the digital ballon. Until we move to a fairer system of copyright law — on in which you permanently own copies and fair use is protected — there will be curmudgeons like me who will resist. And with good reason.

    It’s simply a fact that the technical hurdles of the digital movie era may be nothing compared to the pinhead politician problems. I’m not sure that has a solution.