You are currently viewing the aggregator for the Distributed Republic reader blogs. You can surf to any author's blog by clicking on the link at the bottom of one of his/her posts. If you wish to participate, feel free to register (at the top of the right sidebar) and start blogging.

The main page of the blog can be found here.

Now everyone's a criminal

If you've ever listened to the radio at work, beware:

A car repair firm has been taken to court accused of infringing musical copyright because its employees listen to radios at work.

The action against the Kwik-Fit Group has been brought by the Performing Rights Society which collects royalties for songwriters and performers.

At a procedural hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh a judge refused to dismiss the £200,000 damages claim.

Kwik-Fit wanted the case brought against it thrown out.

Lord Emslie ruled that the action can go ahead with evidence being heard.

The PRS claimed that Kwik-Fit mechanics routinely use personal radios while working at service centres across the UK and that music, protected by copyright, could be heard by colleagues and customers.

It is maintained that amounts to the "playing" or "performance" of the music in public and renders the firm guilty of infringing copyright.

There are plenty of people who defend laws that produce cases like these, saying cases that this is an overreach or that the law needs to be applied with common sense.  This leaves out a critical real-world aspect of legislation: after it's made by humans, it's applied by humans in the executive and judiciary processes, and what they think they can do they usually try (and succeed).  So you have to be extra careful with the legislation that gets made.

The kicker here is that this is probably exactly what the law's boosters wanted.

Link via ASC Forum


Anti-immigration conundrum

Over at Austro-Athenian Empire, guest blogger Jennifer McKitrick makes a point I've made before:

They say “We’re not against immigration, we’re against illegal
immigration.” OK, so the problem with immigrants is that they broke
some laws. But are they good laws? If yes, they’re for laws designed to
keep immigrants out, so they are against immigration. If no, then they
should be for changing the laws. But they say changing the laws is
either unacceptable “amnesty” for illegals that are already here and/or
it would encourage more immigration. But the immigration that would
happen then would be legal, so if they’re only against illegal
immigration, they should have no problem.

So, I think I think that they are less than sincere when they say they are only against illegal immigration. ...


$RP

All the talk in the mainstream media about Ron Paul's millions is great.  They finally realize that there are a lot of us who don't feel well-represented by the slew of Mussolini impressions in the presidential race, and that we aren't going away.  A lot of libertarians are very excited about this, but for the wrong reason.

Ron Paul has no chance, none, of getting the Republican nomination, and I believe him when he says he doesn't want to run third-party.  The point of the money isn't that now he has a fighting chance, or that he'll at least get an honorable mention.  The rank and file GOP base doesn't like Ron Paul, and their set of prejudices and shit-for-brains gut feelings won't change over the course of one election cycle.

The reason to get excited about all that money is that it's more publicity for Ron Paul's (and our) ideas.  That's that many more campaign ads, debates, speaking engagements.  It's that many more people warming to the fact that libertarians exist and that we aren't scared out of our consciences by bogus threats of terrorism, but worn-out collectivist ideology, or by obnoxious moralizing.

Eventually Ron Paul will concede defeat, gracefully as always.  He won't be disappointed that he didn't win.  He'll be glad that he had a unique opportunity to present the electorate with a set of ideas it needs to hear and mostly wasn't going to hear otherwise. 


If your law and order requires victims like this, you can keep it

Many thanks to Rad Geek for bringing this to my attention: a worthless police goon breaks a girl's wrist in the school cafeteria because she doesn't clean cake off the floor well enough, and then his fellow worthless goons attack two students recording the assault on their cellphones.

 

To serve and protect

 

Oh No a WoC PhD has a video and school contact information. Rad Geek lists this and many other links. Start at his page and work your way through them if you don't want this to happen to your kids.

This is the pure essence of the state. My question for moderates is: what is a real answer to how this can be stopped? As long as young people are kept penned up in environments where they're treated like, well, penned-up animals, and as long as you have this police system that encourages violence, I can't see how this won't keep happening.

Thank the Fates that students now have the technology to show the world the true face of the state.

Part II:

I can't help thinking of the many conservatives out there who will think to themselves, "This girl was probably throwing the cake; she was probably disrespectful to the security squad; we need to show the rest of them that they can't get away with disrespect," or something similar. Who might not want to break a poor black kid's wrist themselves but who can look the other way if it happens once in a while. Who wish we would stop making a fuss.

To those people: your attitude gets you the Gestapo. One day it'll be you on the wrong end of the gun, and you'll have earned it.


Probably the noblest moment of their lives

This is from page 1132 of William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

Evening had now come, the last of Adolf Hitler's life. He instructed Frau
Junge, one of his secretaries, to destroy the remaining papers in his
files and he sent out word that no one in the bunker was to go to bed
until further orders. This was interpreted by all as meaning that he
judged the time had come to make his farewells. But it was not until
long after midnight, at about 2:30 A.M. of April 30, as several
witnesses recall, that the Fuehrer emerged from his private quarters
and appeared in the general dining passage, where some twenty persons,
mostly the women members of his entourage, were assembled. He walked
down the line shaking hands with each and mumbling a few words that
were inaudible. There was a heavy film of moisture on his eyes and, as
Frau Junge remembered, "they seemed to be looking far away, beyond the
walls of the bunker."

After he retired, a curious thing happened. The tension broke which had been building up to an almost
unendurable point in the bunker broke, and several persons went to the
canteen—to dance. The weird party soon became so noisy that word was
sent from the Fuehrer's quarters requesting more quiet. The Russians
might come in a few hours and kill them all—though most of them were
already thinking of how they could escape—but in the meantime for a
brief spell, now that the Fuehrer's strict control of their lives was
over, they would seek pleasure where and how they could find it. The
sense of relief among these people seems to have been enormous and they
danced on through the night.


Karl Rove's sinister dream come true

I can't remember where I read this recently--perhaps one of you remembers--but Karl Rove's 2004 strategy was so simple it was brilliant: don't pick on the strongest Democratic challenger, pick on the next one down, the one the GOP could beat more easily.  This would make Democrats rally to the defense of the second one and make sure that the guy nominated wouldn't be too much to handle.

This isn't a secret.  If I read it somewhere then thousands, perhaps millions must also have read it.  That said, how is it possible that all the Bush Team's comments about Hillary Clinton aren't seen through this lens?

However, after eight years of Bush, I'd be willing to let even Bill Clinton back.


Jesse Jackson is acting like he's relevant

I don't know all the facts about the Jena 6 case, and it doesn't look like I'm going to get it sorted out reading news story after news story either.  It looks like they got the shaft, for sure, and I know full well that justice is rarely what the justice system produces.  I wish them well.

What I do know is that if Jesse Jackson had a shred of dignity he would have retired before saying this:

Jackson sharply criticized presidential hopeful and Illinois Sen.
Barack Obama for “acting like he’s white” in what Jackson said has been
a tepid response to six black juveniles’ arrest on attempted-murder
charges in Jena, La.

What the fuck does that mean?  Does that mean that whites don't care about race issues?  Other presidential candidates have already given statements about the Jena 6--Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, both white.  Maybe Jackson dismissed their statements for that reason.


They're like this everywhere

The Onion is so awesome:

Town Hall Meeting Gives Townspeople Chance To Say Stupid Things In Public

NEW BEDFORD, MA—In a true display of democracy, a town hall meeting
held at the New Bedford High School auditorium Monday gave the crowd of
approximately 550 residents the opportunity to publicly voice every
last one of the inane thoughts and concerns they would normally only
have the chance to utter to themselves.

Though the meeting was ostensibly held to discuss a proposed $21,000
project to replace the high school's grass football field with
synthetic turf, City Councilman Thomas Reed inadvertently opened the
floodgates to a deluge of ill-informed, off-topic diatribes on
inconsequential bullshit when he allowed those in attendance to
demonstrate their God-given gift of language.

The rest. 

 


G0

Last March I visited some friends in New York City.  We walked all over Manhattan for days, but when we were downtown I could never make myself visit Ground Zero.  I think it would have been overwhelming.


What's the real beef about?

From Military Intelligence
Service, Information Bulletin No. 16, May 20, 1942, "Japanese Warfare: A Summary":

 

Section I: INTRODUCTION

The success of the Japanese in the current Far Eastern conflict has been due primarily to thorough pre-war preparations, to experience gained in more than 4 years of war in China, to development of tactics peculiarly suited to the theaters of operations, to close coordination of air, land, and sea forces into efficiently working combat teams, and to the proximity of Japanese armed forces to the scene of conflict.

The pre-war preparations included the training of perhaps 3,000,000 men in the methods of modern warfare, the development of new landing tactics and equipment well adapted for attack on the coveted areas, the perfection of jungle tactics, the collection of supplies and armament at strategic points, and the indoctrination of almost fanatical morale among the Japanese armed forces. Furthermore, Japan spread propaganda undermining the influence of the white race throughout southern Asia and the southwest Pacific Islands and developed a Fifth Column which has surpassed all previous examples of this new phase of warfare-all to aid her armed forces once ashore.

... [emphasis mine]

Undermining the influence of the white race? Gasp!

I'm surprised they'd include that line even after the brutal Japanese Empire had given them plenty of things to complain about without resorting to racism.


The way libertarians need to talk about privacy

Jacob Sullum says:

We would not trust prosecutors to say what due process is, and we should not trust spies to define the limits of our privacy.

This is the end of a longer article, so we can presume he didn't mean it as a soundbite.  And libertarians are more averse to soundbites than the average bear.  But this is exactly the way we need to frame the debate about the War on Privacy.

Man, Reason is on fire today. 


Venezuela y más allá

Bad news in Venezuela:

While Venezuela earns record proceeds from oil exports, consumers face
shortages of meat, flour and cooking oil. Annual inflation has risen to
16 percent, the highest in Latin America, as Chávez tripled government
spending in four years.

...

The foreign exchange regulations are part of the controls that
Chávez has created in his "march to socialism." The government sets
retail prices on hundreds of consumer products and fixes both the
maximum rate at which banks can lend and the minimum interest they can
pay depositors.

Chávez, who is seeking to end presidential term limits, has taken
$17 billion of foreign reserves from the central bank and expropriated
dozens of farms that he deemed underutilized.

And much, much more.

Free market ideas are so good, and so documented, and so developed--and still they're not accepted in most of the world. Why is this?

There must be a million reasons, but we could account for a lot of them in two ways. The first is remembering that intellectual currents don't just run wherever they like. A country heavily influenced by John Locke and later Thomas Jefferson is going to have a different cultural context for judging economic ideas than is a country whose revolutionary path was sparked by Napoleon's conquest of Spain, after years of Spanish domination. For the average American the French Revolution is a distant second to our own, while for Europeans (and those subsequently heavily influenced by European ideas) the French Revolution is the real action.

Cultures are not monolithic, and they can change, but ideas without context are harder to plant. (Likewise, the corresponding fatal conceit is thinking that anti-market cultures don't have ideas that we ought to take seriously.) The reason that Venezuelans aren't running Chavez out of town on a rail is not that they are less informed about economics than the average American is--the average American doesn't fare well in economic literacy. It's that there's a different system of judging ideas, and there are always other angles that need addressing.

The other is related: U.S. policy in Latin America has a terrible track record, and it's hard to blame Latin America for not yearning to be just like the U.S. For instance, the U.S. government has been waging undeclared war on Colombian farmers for years in the name of denying the decision-making capacity of adults up north, and for years before that was intervening any- and everywhere possible to protect Wall Street's rotten investments (both in .pdf). And then there's the School of the Americas, aka the School of Assassins. And the list goes on.

So it's no wonder that when self-righteous American hypocrites lecture their victims about freedom the victims don't embrace it whole-heartedly.

If we Americans can stop equating the American Idea of freedom, enterprise, and opportunity that drove entrepreneurs and refugees out of Europe to our shores with the actual implementation of American policies like slavery, the destruction of the indigenous inhabitants, and the rise of the empire, we'll be doing ourselves a favor, and we'll be a lot better received.

Hat tip for IHT article to Michael Moynihan at Hit and Run 


Satan is alive and well on Planet Earth, part 2

I wrote a post yesterday asking for non-racist reasons why people commonly oppose immigration.  DR's readers are the cream of the crop, so I should have known there would be a lot of responses that I would have to answer.

I wrote that there might be people who actually are opposed to illegal immigration simply because it's illegal and not because they motivated by anti-Hispanic racism, but that I doubt it.  The answers given by the commenters were generally good-faith reproductions of the arguments, but I think I didn't make it clear enough that I was interested in arguments used to cover anti-Hispanic racism.

Let me just take a couple of samples:

Open borders are incompatible with a welfare
state. If you pay people merely to be here, and give them no reason to
stay elsewhere, you'll select for the worst possible immigrants.

Fortunately, the US selects for better immigrants by offering lots of economic opportunities.

It's not a racist argument: one could easily make it about, say,
paying people to move from Wyoming to New York, and funding this
subsidy by taxing successful New Yorkers.

A note about the last line: one could make that argument, but nobody does.  Further, nobody complains about the poor Europeans that get fed up with excessive labor market regulation and move across the ocean.  Occasionally people gripe about poor blacks and poor whites who abuse the welfare system and perpetuate the cycle of poverty, but I find these voices unite into a very powerful chorus when "the immigrant invasion" is mentioned.

2. They will compete with poor Americans for low skill jobs, making poor Americans worse off.

That argument is nationalist, since it gives much higher weight to
the welfare of poor Americans than to that of the poorer immigrants,
but it isn't racist--the poor Americans imagined might easily be black.

I thought the majority of people agreed that "they" do the jobs "we" don't want to do.  At the lower margins there is some competition, but I don't know the last time somebody like Lou Dobbs cared about the bottom 10%.  Plus, as I said, I was specifically concerned with Hispanics.

3. They will change our culture in ways we don't like.

There are lots of countries in the world that are less pleasant
places to live than the U.S., some inhabited mostly by people of
European origin--Russia, for instance. It isn't absurd to argue that
what makes the U.S. special is a particular culture and we shouldn't
risk it.

I see people shudder to think of certain parts of L.A. that have high concentrations of Spanish-speaking immigrants, but I haven't seen anyone so much as bat an eyelash thinking about Brighton Beach.

There were plenty of others, many of which were theoretically possible for a tolerant person to use.  But I'm still not convinced that a meaningfully large number of people use them on their own merits.  Maybe I lived in Atlanta too long, an oasis in the middle of Bush country, and heard the self-righteous anger about all those people who would--gasp!--actually break the law to come here thinly veiling the speaker's obvious distaste for brown skin and Spanish.  Maybe I'm being too hard on my fellow man.  But, unfortunately, I don't think so.

Last note: HHH's argument is not in itself racist, and I'm hardly in the position to talk about his own personal preferences.  It just seems to me that here's another argument that would hit a home run with some crowds I can't abide.


Satan is alive and well on Planet Earth

Is there any well-known argument against immigration that, at its heart, isn't racist?  Of course I want to believe people are as genuine as possible when they say they don't mind immigration, they just don't like "illegal" immigration, or that "they" should learn English simply because it they'll have an easier time in "our" country if they do.  But 100% of my anecdotal evidence points to racism, specifically anti-Hispanic racism.  Some of it is passive unease, some of it is not feeling like assuming the White Man's Burden right now, and unfortunately some of it is quite a bit stronger.  None of it's intellectually healthy reasoning.

Maybe I haven't heard all the arguments that Lou Dobbs has come up with.  Anyone?

 

Note 1: This issue doesn't cross paths with the pattern that Anastasia linked to yesterday, but that pattern is still worth considering (and so is Anastasia's commentary):

The GOP Narcissists aren’t the exception to the rule— they ARE the
rule. They personify the very sexuality they campaign against. If they
vote against gays, we know they’re queer. If they’re hopped up about
“child porn,” we can guess their internet habits. If they hold up
monogamous marriage as a Christian ideal, we know they’re adulterous,
blasphemous fools.

Note 2: Somebody out there just thought of HHH as a counterargument.  Try again. 


Badguys dropping like a Schwarzenegger movie

First Karl Rove and now Alberto Gonzalez!  Is it Christmas already?