Wednesday, July 04, 2007

RIP: Here lies the Rule of Law in America

Just focusing on one MSM story to celebrate this sad 4th of July, the day the rule of law died in America. Here are a few of the obituaries, courtesy the robots over at Google News:

"Leniency for Libby and the '08 presidential race", Christian Science Monitor - 46 minutes ago

"Libby might have sung ...", San Francisco Chronicle

"Bush won’t rule out full pardon for perjurer, Libby", Boston Herald

The Googlebot report 3,108 current stories on the topic. I especially like that last one. You know the ol' rule of law has been one pretty tough hombre, so ol' Dubya wants to keep one more stake ready to pound into its heart, just in case it tries to start moving again.

The Law? "The Law" is for innocent peasants in Afghanistan, not for friends of the resident of the White House. An unfair sentence for a lawyer who perjured himself and got caught? Not like he knew any better, eh? Well, in Guantanamo Bay Dubya has been imprisoning people longer than LIbby's "excessive" 30 months, and sometimes "American justice" a la Dubya discovers they've been sentenced unfairly--except that they were never sentenced in the first place. Clemency? Hell no. We just quietly dump those ones back on the street and expect them to be grateful and to keep their mouths shut. After all, Dubya could always throw them back in the slammer on Cheney's say-so.

Yeah, actually "the law" in America has been dead for quite a while, but there's also some quibbling about the exact timing of the Declaration of Independence, too. However, the anti-symmetry is just too much to ignore. The Founders of our government wanted publicity, they wanted everyone to know that King George had gone too far and they weren't going to put up with it any more. This King George wanted quiet. He wanted to bury the sad news under the celebration of the work of those great Founders. It didn't work as well as Dubya had hoped, but what's one more miserable failure for such a reign of error?

Founders, eh? So now it's the ship of state that founders. Cheney in the role of Captain Bligh? The rule of law isn't just a good idea, it's the law! That's supposed to be an optimistic joke of some twisted sort. I really do think laws are a good idea and the societies with good legal systems have competitive advantages over the others... So where does that leave Dubya's United States? On the wrong end of a short rope.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Guilty until proven innocent!

A copy of my comments to The Register with regards to an article about the privacy-invading behavior of Microsoft's protect-Microsoft-first approach to 'security':

Just a second while I warm up my harp... Now for the harping.

"Guilty until proven innocent." That's the 'legal principle' of WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage). Next thing you know, they'll be trying to repeal habeas corpus. Oh. Wait.

I suggest that you try to change the terms of the debate. It's okay to refer to it as WGA for purposes of official identification, but for the sake of reality you should call it "Microsoft's Advantage Program", since the only advantage of this program (both as software and as a policy) is to help Microsoft squeeze the last few drops of blood out of some poor turnips somewhere in Africa or South America.

Me? 90% of my home computing is on Ubuntu Linux now, and about 20% of my work computing. The work-side is gradually increasing, and my current dream is to avoid Vista as completely as possible.

I better clarify that the basic premise of Microsoft's software is that you are *NOT* authorized to run Microsoft's software unless you can prove you're a legitimate customer. Unless you (with your computer acting as your proxy) can prove you're an innocent and legitimate customer, Microsoft assumes you're a pirate--even though they have a track record of creating miserably buggy software. It's not even limited to the bugginess of their software making false accusations and putting the onus on you to prove your innocence. It's that Microsoft also defines the rules of the game in their shrink-wrap legalese so you can't even be sure you are *NOT* a pirate as Microsoft has defined it.

In addition to making the twisted rules and prosecuting you in advance, Microsoft is also a crooked judge in this situation. It is in Microsoft's interest to claim the piracy problem is large, and to make their 'damage' claims as large as possible. Po' widdle Micwosoft. Don't you just pity them for all the money they've lost to those vicious pirates? Next thing you know, they'll be in the poorhouse, right? Wrong. Much more likely you'll be bankrupt and jailed for copyright violations. Microsoft is working on that one, too.

Right now the secondary point of enforcement (once you've gotten past the primary point and gotten the software to run in the first place) is that they will block you from updates (but I'm sure they're working on stronger alternatives). In other words, they will withdraw their token protection for your vulnerability to their security incompetence. They not only created the disease, but they don't care if it fries your computer. As usual, the #1 concern of Microsoft is to figure out new ways to squeeze money out of people who don't want to do business with them in the first place.

Think about the other side of it. Pretend that Microsoft was actually held liable for all the losses and problems caused by their incompetence in writing software. Pretend that they weren't permanently immune from all liability thanks to their magic shrinkwrap contracts. If Microsoft paid for the damages, I'm sure they would be bankrupt.

<sarcasm> However, it's possible that you've somehow detected that I wouldn't cry too hard at the demise of Microsoft.</sarcasm> Why? Because I like my freedom and I'm tired of Microsoft stomping on it for profit.

Another example of the fish rotting from the head up. BushCo is leading with the policy that anything you can get away with is okay. Microsoft has always lived by that policy, but just more so now. Me? I continue to believe that freedom and democracy confer competitive advantage--and America is losing those advantages. Microsoft is just following BushCo's lead down the drain, and taking the country with them.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Return of the native and new 2008 speculations

Over two years since I've commented here, so I think I should start with a bit of contextualizing and history. This blog actually originated in what has to be described as a "manual blog" I was preparing at as a kind of sporadic ongoing commentary on the political news of the day. That actually started early in 2001 when I'd never heard of the idea of a blog, though I think Blogger probably existed at that time. Great minds think alike? Or maybe I'd heard something about such an idea and just forgotten about my source for the idea? I often wonder... Anyway, I was just doing it by hand, which is a lot of nuisance for the bookkeeping and mechanics and the especially painful archiving of older posts when it got too large. No provision for visitor comments. People could send email comments, but if anyone was reading it, they mostly didn't say anything... At some point I heard about Blogger and I tried to integrate it into my existing methods, which wasn't too easy.

After a few years, there was the disgusting ultimate-mud-slinging election of 2004, and I was pretty much bummed out with the whole thing. I still think the yet-to-be-revealed truth is that Kerry was Karl Rove's hand-picked-in-secret nominee, and that the election was truly determined by the MSM attack on Howard Dean over the bogus issue of "the scream". Dubya has certainly committed a basically uncountable number of worse gaffs--if they only felt like giving him equal treatment, but in Dubya's case they just claim it makes him the guy "you" want to have a beer with--except for the little detail that Dubya doesn't drink bear with anyone in this revised life... Anyway, In 2000 Rove's neo-GOP drummed up support for Dubya as a 'name-brand' candidate who could (but didn't actually) beat Al Gore, and in 2004, the neo-GOP picked Kerry as a Democratic candidate that Dubya could beat--and I'm still not sure about that, given the games they played in that election, mostly with disenfranchising Democratic voters. Another one that may get revealed when the data is finally unraveled...

Anyway, after the election, about the only political part of my website that remained active was the anti-Dubya book review section, which has grown into quite a large file over the years, even though I'm not reading so many politically relevant books now. My general perspective remains pretty much unchanged, which is that America is on the way down... I keep seeing more and more evidence in the most surprising places. I think the big economic disaster will be triggered by a devaluation of the American dollar responding to the balance of trade and deficit spending. So the latest surprising place was in a Japanese history book a few days ago, where I ran across a very interesting graph of the American balance of trade with respect to England in the period before the American Revolution... It all fits together. Like we used to say in the Rice history department, "The only lesson you learn from history is that no one learns any lessons from history."

At this point it looks like America was sort of jostled out of it's nap for the election of 2006, and Dubya Bush's legacy of miserable failure is coming unraveled at every seam. However, I think it's just too little, too late...

Today's proximate cause of commenting was a comment I wrote yesterday for another venue. The topic of that discussion was the probably Democratic nominee for 2008. Slightly polished here...

I'm not so much against Hillary Clinton as a moderate Democratic professional politician as I am against her as a nepotistic family candidate. That's 95% of how we got Dubya in the last place. Dubya Bush should have been laughed out of any serious political race on his own track record of miserable failures and amazing incompetence. Yes, her qualifications are vastly superior to Dubya's, and Bill Clinton deliberately picked her, while Dubya is just a genetic accident of the worst sort. However, the bottom line is that she wouldn't be considered such a strong contender if she wasn't "a Clinton", and I think that family is the kind of criteria you can reasonably use for picking figurehead kings and queens, but that nepotism has no place in what is supposed to be a rational democratically elected representative republican form of government. (Did I include all the proper buzzwords there?)

However, I admit that I would certainly vote for any of the current Democratic candidates, even including Hillary, against any of the Republicans who have declared their intention to run. I kind of hope they manage to nominate that flip-flopper double-speaking McCain, but I fantasize about Cheney as the candidate. Heck, let's dream big. Imagine Rove coming out of the closet and actually pretending to be a real politician and somehow getting the nomination by calling in all his chips. That would be a rout to end all routs. (On the other hand, Dubya should have been routed in 2000 *AND* 2004... You only have to fool 30% of the voters on Election Day these days.)

The way things are looking now, the Republicans are going to be desperately fishing for any candidate on the negative litmus test "Can he beat Al Gore?" Well, that strategy didn't even work in 2000, though the SCOTUS kicked dirt in everyone's faces and shoved Dubya into the White House.


About Me

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As a blogger from before there were blogs, I've concluded what I write is of little interest to the reading public. My current approach is to treat these blogs as notes, with the maturity indicated by the version number. If reader comments show interest, I will probably add some flesh to the skeletons...