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Archive for December, 2006

Why are churches tax-exempt?

I’ve got no problem with people getting rich — I’ve got a lot of problems with people doing it by stealing money from the taxpayers while wearing a cross and condemning others’ morality.

You would think that an enlightened society would have rules to keep this sort of thing from happening…

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Some people never learn. After DVD Jon cracked CSS so that people could decrypt DVDs under linux without paying a fee to the movie industry cartel, you would think that the movie industy would take the hint and give up on the whole idea of selling encrypted media to customers. Unfortunately, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray both use an encryption scheme to prevent people from playing their new HD video on unlicensed players. Never mind that customers don’t want it, don’t need it, and didn’t ask for it- you can’t buy a HD video player that doesn’t come bundled with an encryption system.
And the system is flawed. Every customer who buys a HD-video player and a piece of HD media has everything she needs to break the encryption- becuase the player needs to decrypt the content in order to play back the video. (more…)

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President Bush issued 16 pardons this week. Almost half were for convictions resulting from drug offenses. For the moment, let’s put aside the issues associated with criminalizing drugs, and with crimes of possession in general, and with having a president who is widely acknowledged to be not totally unfamiliar with substance abuse in general and cocaine use in particular. Instead- let’s think about this: why bother prosecuting coke dealers, if you’re just going to let them go? Doesn’t action like this undermine the whole point of having a “war on drugs?”

Meanwhile, thousands of immigrants and their native-born American citizen children will spend this Christmas in American for-profit concentration camps. Happy Holidays, from Halliburton!

Maybe if George Bush had spent the 1980s working with immigrants instead of snorting coke, he would have pardoned some of these people instead. As a final thought, to prove I learned something in criminal law this semester: I can’t help but wonder about the race of the 16 people that were pardoned by 43. I suppose I should just be happy that Scooter Libby is still on the hook for now.

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I love surfing over to groklaw every now and then to remind myself how I got here. Last week, PJ put up a fine article about the beginning of Iowa’s antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. “Wait a minute,” I hear you saying, “I thought that was all over with- Judge Jackson was removed for prejudicial bias, the proper decision was thrown out, O’Connor stuck Bush 43 in the White House, and the Feds decided they had better things to do than punish a convicted monopolist. End of case, right?” (more…)

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We’ve been having final exams for the last week, so my brain has been pretty scattered apart from the subject matter coming up on the next test.  I’ve been pretty focused on question-and-answer mode.  Tests are pretty useful in the context of trying to figure out whether you know what you need to know.  Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think that when you’re looking to hire someone to do a job, you might want to figure out if they’re actually… you know, qualified.  For some reason this philosophy does not seem to apply to politicians.

This is a good idea:

 I think we, the blogosphere, should put together our own new test–fifty questions a legislator should be able to answer correctly before he or she can vote on laws relating to those subjects. I’ve made a start below. Once we get a bunch I plan to put this into a document and send it to Pelosi and Reid. Hell–at the very least, maybe they can get their legislators to cram for the quiz so they don’t sound quite so embarrassing in interviews.

1. The terrorist group Al Qaeda is overwhelmingly made up of what kind of Muslims?

a. Shiite
b. Sunni
c. Kurds
d. Nation of Islam

Loads more at thenexthurrah.

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We’ve already seen that Rumsfeld won’t [voluntarily] be taking a vacation in Germany any time soon. Now it looks like things aren’t so friendly on this side of the pond either.

In a federal courtroom today, nine former prisoners at U.S. military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan will seek through an unusual lawsuit to hold outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and top military commanders personally responsible for the torture they say they endured.

What’s the problem with people these days? It’s getting to the point that war criminals can’t get a good night’s sleep anywhere.

Plaintiffs lawyers believe that if the cases are not dismissed, proving that the detainees were treated in inhumane, degrading ways — in seeming violation of the Geneva Conventions — will not be difficult. Their legal briefs quote generously from the investigative reports of military commanders and government panels to make their claim.

I think this is what is known in some circles as “hoist on his own petard,” or the chickens coming home to roost.

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This Slate article is from 2003.  It’s about the lies that Judy wrote in the New York Times to help Dick Cheney drag the country into Iraq.

 Judy Miller repeatedly pushed questionable intelligence — most of which turned out to be false — on the front pages of the New York Times, influencing public debate on the question of whether or not to go to war. Because Miller was at best a careerist blinded by phenomenal access who simply didn’t ask enough questions and at worst the knowing crony of a dishonest administration, the influences exerted on that debate were exactly the ones the Bush Administration, trying to make a case for an unsupportable war to an unconvinced public, wanted. Miller then went to jail, supposedly to protect the first amendment rights of journalists, while actually protecting the reputation and career of a crook […]

Of course she’s out of jail now.  Sure would have been nice for the NYT to open up this story in, say, August 2004, before that election thing happened.  But since they didn’t, and since they STILL haven’t retracted substantially any of Judy’s lies and fabricated stories, I have to wonder whether there is anything we as ordinary people can do about it. (more…)

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