Reason Express

Vol. 8 No. 45


In this issue:

1. Playing the Wrong Card
2. Viral IP Protection
3. Cue the Pitchforks and Torches
4. Quick Hits
5. New at Reason Online - Orange Méchanique
6. News and Events

1. Playing the Wrong Card

Chortle at the anchor man good looks, and recoil from the tort-bar animating power, but do not dismiss John Edwards' "I was wrong" gambit. If nothing else, America owes its eternal gratitude to the former senator for moving us off of the "Bush lied.-No he didn't.-Oh, yes he did.-No, he did not." Mobius strip that Iraq policy has circled for almost two years now.

Invading Iraq with the express purpose of toppling Saddam Hussein was a strategic mistake for the U.S.; there is simply no doubting that. But it is not a policy to say it was a mistake, just as George Bush's stubborn defense of the war is not a policy either. For Democrats to finally get traction on the war issue, they have to some alternative policy to offer apart from a Kerry-esque "consult with our allies" line, which is exactly where Edwards ended up after admitting he was wrong. In other words, he's still wrong there.

Why not try to get ahead of the game with regard to Syria and Iran and insist that the executive branch be much more forthcoming with regard to intelligence on those two countries? Each of them is clearly in the crosshairs of the Bush administration, and another wrong move could prove very costly.

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2. Viral IP Protection

Sony may have managed to hasten the death of the CD format with its clumsy inclusion of a Trojan horse "copyright protection" program on its music CDs. The malware installed itself without notifying the user and created a security hole through which hackers could take over a machine. As a rule, it's not a good business practice to sell a product that secretly cracks open another piece of property for thieves and scammers to get at.

Record labels simply never accepted the fact that music files are very easy to manipulate with a general purpose device like a PC when those files are in an understandable, digital form. The various copyright protection schemes try to obscure those files from the machine-and the user-essentially building a machine within a machine that only the record company controls.

That approach is dangerous and likely doomed to failure, all the while throwing off ill will and bad vibes that all the marketing in the world cannot counteract.

3. Cue the Pitchforks and Torches

The oldsters should be rioting over Medicare Part D right about…now. What was billed as a government fix for the high cost of prescription drugs has predictably morphed into a complex government program that may or may not save the average recipient all that much money but will surely drive up costs for everyone in terms of anxiety, angst, and confusion.

Quick what is TROOP? The "doughnut hole"? Are you better off with a high premium and lower co-pays, or the reverse? Live in a big metro area with lotsa Zip codes close together? Don't be offended if the plan you want to sign up for is offered in nearby Zips but not in yours. And so on.

The drug benefit was supposed to relieve seniors of paying for drugs, which many sensibly interpreted to mean "free drugs," i.e. no out-of-pocket cost. But Part D is all about gaming out-of-pocket costs so that the truly catastrophic cases can be paid for. In other words, it tries to function like an insurance program. But the seniors had health insurance; what they wanted was free drugs. That's them marching through the village right now.

4. Quick Hits

Quote of the Week

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there." -Televangelist Pat Robertson to the citizens of a Pennsylvania town who voted an "intelligent design" school board out of office.

Bombers All Look the Same

It might be too easy to assume that American forces in Iraq last year briefly detained one of the suspected suicide bombers who struck Amman, Jordan, last week. May have been the same guy, maybe not.

AIDS-Free Brit

A British man may have a natural immunity to AIDS, or his test results might've gotten mixed up with someone else's. Big difference, you know.

IKEA or Die

A new IKEA store in Massachusetts has people driving over lawns to get to the store so they can get a head start on putting their furniture together.

5. New at Reason Online

Orange Méchanique
What twentieth-century novel was the leading indicator of the French riots? Tim Cavanaugh

One Democracy, Hold the Invasions
Palestine, not Iraq, is the best shot at an Arab democracy. Jonathan Rauch

Arnold Agonistes
Gov. Schwarzenegger's political future may be over; as a cultural force, he'll be back. Nick Gillespie

And much more!

6. News and Events

An Evening with Milton and Rose Friedman

Please join the The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in celebrating 50 Years of an Idea. This 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner on December 5, 2005 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles, California will honor Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, who first proposed the school voucher idea in 1955.

The Friedmans will participate in a Q&A session, answering questions submitted by the audience. The Friedman's will be joined by several honored guests, who will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information on the dinner and how to attend, visit here.

Get liberated with Ronald Bailey's brave new book for a brave new world!

In his new book, Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution, Reason's Ronald Bailey examines the scientific and ethical controversies surrounding everything from stem cell research to therapeutic cloning to longer life spans to genetically modified food.

Buy Liberation Biology in hardcover from Amazon for just $18.48!

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