Weekend Open Thread—and Updates to Old Stories

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Have at it. 

Consider the updates below to prior stories covered here at H&R mere starter material…

The sentencing date of Julie Amero, the Norwich, Conn. teacher accused of showing pornography to her middle school class has been postponed for the second time. Though no reason was given for the postponement, tech and computer experts from all over the country have been pressuring state officials to intervene on her behalf. And with good reason. Her prosecution was a joke, and a fine illustration of what can go wrong when cyber-crimes are pursued by people who have limited knowledge of the technology behind the crimes they're prosecuting. She could get up to 40 years in prison. But even if she gets probation, it's an outrage. She should never have been tried.

The invaluable TechDirt reports that the National Association of Broadcasters is mounting an astroturf campaign to preven the XM-Sirius merger. As TechDirt's "Carlo" points out, NAB is likely going the astroturf route because an open and aggressive campaign against the merger would show that land-based radio stations consider satellite radio a competitor. The argument against the merger is that the two satellite companies compete only with themselves—not with terrestrial radio, Internet radio, and other forms of media—thus making the merger a monopoly. So NAB trying to stop the merger by throwing lots of money into an astroturf campaign arguing that NAB and its members are completely unconcerned about the merger.

Here's a terrific editorial (not just because it mentions me) by Canada's National Post on the case of Basile "Billy" Parasiris, the Quebec man who shot and killed a a police officer during a drug raid on Parasiris' home. Parasiris claims he thought he was being attacked by criminals, an assertion supported by the fact that his son called 911 during the raid. Police now claim to have found three small bags of white powder in Parasiris' home, though they haven't yet confirmed what it is (at least not that I can find in online news reports). He's facing murder charges.

• Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson has introduced a bill that would grant gun ownership rights to residents of the District of Columbia. If you'll remember, Sen. Orin Hatch introduced a similar bill a while back, which some interpreted as an NRA-backed attempt to undermine the Parker case, which resulted in a milestone 2nd Amendment victory last month. Hutchinson insists her own NRA-backed bill would not undermine Parker. Alan Gura, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Parker, says she's wrong .

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  1. The last one, while welcome on substantive grounds, is troubling on procedural grounds. What other city in the USA has its policies set by 535 people it didn’t elect?

  2. jb -all of them.

    If you are lucky, you will have 1 – 3 people you voted for in that group of 535 (I have none). Occasionally, that sliver of people you voted for get to provide input to their organizations’ decrees, which impact people nation-wide.

    Thus, 99.9% of the time, the laws dictated to us by the 535 are entirely crafted by people whom that you did not vote for.

  3. Finally, I get to teach a whole lesson by myself!
    And I’m going to teach something relevant…
    Something modern…
    The Internet!

    The Internet is really really great,
    –FOR PORN!

  4. “What other city in the USA has its policies set by 535 people it didn’t elect?” Says jb

    Tarran replies with the non-sequitor

    “Thus, 99.9% of the time, the laws dictated to us by the 535 are entirely crafted by people whom that you did not vote for.”

    Completely missing the difference in meaning between “voting for” and “electing.”

    An individual votes for, a group elects.

  5. What other city in the USA has its policies set by 535 people it didn’t elect?

    First off, that’s the way the district was set up in the Constitution 220 years ago. It’s not like this is some new attack on voting rights. Them’s the breaks, if you don’t like it, move.

    Also, as far as federal law goes, people who live in a state have policy set by 535 people of whom they elect 3, so it’s not like there’s much difference.

  6. What? Nothing about the meltdown of Chocolate Jesus?

  7. Neu Mejican,

    I think you are missing the point.

    Let’s say there is an election. Out of a population of 1000, perhaps 800 are allowed to cast votes. Of that 800, only 350 show up. Of that 350, 200 vote for A, 100 Vote for B, 25 Vote for C. With 57% of the vote, A is declared the clear winner.

    So, 200 people have elected A, and he goes off and represents them. The other 800 are not represented.

  8. So…….anyone see Ron Paul on tv last night? Yes, he did shit himself (not literally).

  9. Of course, I don’t even go into the question of how many people voted for A not because they wanted him to represent them, but feared B more.

    It’s possible that A may only have 100 people who genuinely feel he is acting on their behalf.

  10. Tarran,

    Clearly you are the one missing the point.

    You, the individual, is not represented.

    Your community is.

    Those who did not show up to vote have decided to let others decide who will represent the community. Those who voted have agreed to a process whereby the individual with the most votes will represent them.

  11. Neu Mejican and jb;

    Maybe you want to respond to the fact that the District is Constitutionally constructed to be a federal district (uhh, hence its name) and not a state, and therefore not entitled to representation. Not to be crass, and apologies for the language, but this has been fucking settled .Move on!

  12. Those who did not show up to vote have decided to let others decide who will represent the community. Those who voted have agreed to a process whereby the individual with the most votes will represent them.

    Only if you buy into the notion that not voting is “let[ting] others decide,” which implies a viable alternative. For that matter, given the absence of such alternatives, voting for a candidate means little more than making the best of a bad situation. Even if the guy I vote for wins, I don’t fool myself into believing that means I’m being represented, let alone that I agreed it would be okay for a different candidate to represent me, the community or anyone else if my guy didn’t win.

  13. Ayn Randian,

    I am fine the way the framers set up DC.

    Why was I included in your rant?

  14. DAR,

    Opting out of the process is opting out of the process, no matter your reason for doing so.

    You also are conflating the representation of the community with the representation of you the individual. The one elected does not represent you the individual. S/he represents the community. It is a distinctly different concept.

  15. Neu mejican,

    Out of morbid curiosity, if people who vote are agreeing to the process, and people who decline to vote are tacitly accepting the process, what happened to the people who disagree with the process?

    After all, in a large enough population there have to be a few who reject the process. Where do they fit in your scheme?

  16. NM,

    You can’t opt out of what you’ve never opted into in the first place.

  17. Tarran,

    A good question.

    Those who reject the process are usually the ones that end up either lobbying for changes to the process, or forming their own communities.

    Those who reject the process, but don’t actively engage the community to change it, don’t leave to join a community with a process they agree with, have decided to let others decide for them who will represent the community.

  18. DAR,

    You opted in when you joined the community.

  19. Ayn Randian, why should the fact that it was set up one way legally mean that it shouldn’t, as a moral matter, be allowed to vote. The law can always be changed.

  20. Billy Jack = FinFangFoom

  21. Dont go to church on sunday
    Dont get on my knees to pray
    Dont memorize the books of the bible
    I got my own special way
    Bit I know jesus loves me
    Maybe just a little bit more

    I fall on my knees every sunday
    At zerelda lees candy store

    Well its got to be a chocolate jesus
    Make me feel good inside
    Got to be a chocolate jesus
    Keep me satisfied

    Well I dont want no anna zabba
    Dont want no almond joy
    There aint nothing better
    Suitable for this boy
    Well its the only thing
    That can pick me up
    Better than a cup of gold
    See only a chocolate jesus
    Can satisfy my soul

    (solo)
    When the weather gets rough
    And its whiskey in the shade
    Its best to wrap your savior
    Up in cellophane
    He flows like the big muddy
    But thats ok
    Pour him over ice cream
    For a nice parfait

    Well its got to be a chocolate jesus
    Good enough for me
    Got to be a chocolate jesus
    Good enough for me

    Well its got to be a chocolate jesus
    Make me feel good inside
    Got to be a chocolate jesus
    Keep me satisfied

    -tom waits

  22. NM,

    Nonsense. For most people, joining the community just means being born somewhere, which hardly translates even to tacit acceptance. Even for those who move, no implied assent can be inferred unless the individual had real options of moving somewhere where the community would leave him the hell alone. When Socrates told his followers who sought to have him flee from Athens that he had accepted the benefits of the state and thus was obligated to obey its laws, he lived in a time where he literally could have left to find lawless, that is, stateless parts of the world. No such option exists today, and merely being among others is hardly grounds for their exercise of power over you.

  23. Neu, are you seriously asserting that my two year old daughter, by the act of being born, has consented to be jailed if she should be caught with a beer in her hand before her 21st birthday?

    Boy, she’ll be surprised when I tell her.

    You have also evaded my question. You stated that people who are opposed to the process should either “lobby for changes” or leave. OK, the people who leave are no longer in the scenario, so they cease to exist for the purposes of our experiment.

    But what about the people who take the option “lobby for changes?” How do they do this? If they vote, you are saying that they consent to the process. If they don’t vote, you are saying that they consent to the process. Where does this mysterious third option come in?

  24. DAR,

    I am sorry you see your life on Earth so lacking in options, but that doesn’t make your complaint carry any more force.

    Take responsibility for your choices.

  25. Everyone seems to be missing the real point in the DC non-representation.

    It was expected that DC would be populated by bureaucrats, hangers-on, lobbyists and the power-hungry. They would be forced to live there if they were to have any power, because there were no major cities within convenient range, in the days before the railroad or telegraph.

    These people were already going to have major influence, and the ability to talk to all of our Congresscritters and Senators, no matter what state had sent them. It was believed that this was already TOO MUCH power to give them — to give them direct power (votes in the House and Senate) would have been too much.

    The cesspool that is Foggy Bottom is today only the center of a much larger septic system. It is easy now for all of the aforementioned undesirables to live in MD or VA — and have the vote — while still having easy access to the Elect Officials.

    Anyone who lives in DC can easily get the vote, by moving out of the District. From any place in DC, this is a shorter move than most people make when they go from one home to another.

    There are many good reasons to consider amending the Constitution . . .this is not one of them.

  26. Tarran,

    The word lobbying has meaning.

  27. NM,

    I do, part of which is shooting down absurd arguments like yours.

  28. DAR,

    Whatever makes you feel better.

  29. “Tarran,

    The word lobbying has meaning.”

    Indeed it does. But, lobbying has nothing to do with the act of voting.

    The problem here is that you are trying to act as if people consent to government, while denying them the freedom to withhold consent.

    “Consent” is the act where someone gives permission to another to do something. For the permission to be meaningful, people must be free to not give permission. If you are not allowed to withhold permission, then you can not give it.

    By claiming that all choices (voting, not voting) indicate consent, you are in fact demonstrating that there is no consent. The winner is imposed on everyone whether they like it or not.

  30. DAR,

    Maybe you can do this activity to feel more connected…

    http://www.usscouts.org/mb/mb002.html

  31. Tarran,

    Nothing I have said implies that people do not have the right to withhold consent.

    You need to think specifically, however, on how that withholding of consent manifests in the real world.

    Passively “not consenting” does not change who represents your community in the government. To effect the structures of power you need to be active.

  32. FinFangFoom;

    I was really responding to this ignorance:

    while welcome on substantive grounds, is troubling on procedural grounds. What other city in the USA has its policies set by 535 people it didn’t elect?

    Because that’s the way it is, mac. And saying that the decision is somehow procedurally unsound because of what’s been settled law for 220 years is astoundingly dumb.

    Neu Mejican – apologies…I thought you were arguing that D.C.’s representative status is somehow some sort of national tragedy that equates to Jim Crow. (like others are wont to do)

  33. Oh Neu, there are many ways to withhold consent.

    You can refuse to vote, and get drunk instead.

    You can mock politicians.

    You can bomb polling places and shoot candidates.

    You can even go and vote for Candidate B.

    You can write blogposts.

    My system is to go into the polling booth and systematically vote for “None of the above” on every ballot and for the repeal of existing laws and against the imposition of new ones on referenda.

    But in no way, have I “elected” anyone. Nor has my community elected anyone; the ones who refused to vote certainly did not elect anyone, so they cannot be blamed. The ones who voted for the guys who didn’t win have not elected anyone either, if you ask them, they were trying to prevent the winner from being elected. In the end, the set of people who “elected” the winner are the small subset of people who voted.

    Everyone else were either innocent bystanders, or people who tried to oppose the election of the winner. Putting the onus on the community is as absurd as saying “the Jews killed Jesus” or “the Germans murdered the Jews” or “the French collaborated with the Nazis”. Yes, some Jews executed Jesus, the majority did not. Some Germans murdered millions of Jews, but a significant number of Germans opposed the murders. Some French people collaborated with the Nazis, some opposed them.

  34. Tarran,

    Bravo, you have understood the role of the individual in the process. Individuals consent or not, but the community elects. It is the community’s consent that must be withheld, not yours.

    The one who wins the vote, still represents the community in the government. If the community allows that person to take that position, they have, either through direct action, or through inaction, elected that person as the representative of the community.

  35. Ayn Randian, I think the point was that it is substantively good in that gun ownership rights should be respected/exist, but that it is procedurally troubling in that means of establishing that right are undemocratic. While it is clear that it is the law that this can happen, it may violate any idea of procedural justice. After all, it was never procedurally just to establish guilt by trial by ordeal just because it had been the law for a long time.

  36. I can’t think of anything less interesting to an anarchist than the issue of whether DC should be represented in the House and Senate. To many of us, a much better option would be for DC to secede from the United States, form its own country, and take the US government with it.

    – Josh

  37. NM,

    Dude, are you actually bothering to read my posts? Or are you choosing to misrepresent them as agreeing with you? 🙂

    Honestly, your claim that if a group A carries out an act then the act was carried out by a superset of the group B, including people who opposed the action is self-contradictory! No matter how many times you repeat it, it will still be inconsistent.

    I hate to be so harsh, but your argument is at a Dave W level of incoherence. Sorry. 🙂

  38. So what should Britian do about Iran? What should America do, if anything? If they were American soldiers, would you favor an attack?

    Stop burying your damn heads in the sand, you commie wimps.

  39. Tarran,

    “your claim that if a group A carries out an act then the act was carried out by a superset of the group B, including people who opposed the action is self-contradictory!”

    I never claimed such.

    You are still missing the main point.

    The person that is elected is recognized by the power structure as the representative of the community. The consent of individuals or sub-sets within that community doesn’t change the role of the representative in the government. They represent the community, not the individual.

  40. Tarran,
    Half of those who voted in the 2004 last election voted for GWB, but the entire country elected him. The democratic process (mostly) ran its course, and he was the winner, like it or not. There is, in my opinion, a subtle difference between voting for and electing.
    What is especially egregious about the DC situation is that THE CITY does not elect its own respresentatives, not that Joe Schmoe doesn’t have the pleasure of voting for someone.

  41. Grand Chalupa,

    The land of Britain and the American continent will of course continue to go wherever their tectonic plates drag them.

    The people living in those places, for the most part should do nothing.

    As for the governments, for the U.S. government nothing. For the British government, I don’t know. At a minimum, if I were an official in the British MOD, I would cashier the incompetent idiot that was responsible for the decision to have a boarding party board a ship while their own ship sailed away.

    The British Navy has been boarding ships for centuries. I am surprised they made such a massive mistake. Of course, maybe they were overstretched, with too few frigates to do the job properly.

  42. And Tarran,

    Be careful invoking the Dave W comparisons while you throw around jews, nazis, and two year-olds in a discussion of congressional representation.

  43. On the XM Radio / Sirius issue, I don’t see how it got this far. Whichever one of them was first to start selling subscriptions had a monopoly at that time & should have been shut down on the spot. Right?

  44. NM,

    So let me get this straight. You have group A the supporters of a winningcandidate who vote for him. Group B are a group of voters who actively voted against the winning candidate. C are the people who didn’t vote.

    So, when group A voted for their candidate, you are claiming that this action is equivalent to the union of A+B+C having “elected” someone. In other words, you are crediting B+C with carrying out an action you call “electing” the winner while not “voting for” the winner.

    Take a comatose person in group C, who is incapable of any conscious act, are you claiming that he somehow “elected” the winning cabinet while his brain was, or all intents and purposes, shut down?

    A community does nothing! Individuals within a community might do something, but crediting or accusing the whole community of having carried out an act which was carried out by a subset of the community, over the objections of a smaller subset of the same community is absurd!

    Group A, and only group A elected the winning candidate.

    Group B unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the election of the winning candidate.

    Croup C did not elect anyone. To claim that A+B+C did something that only A did is ridiculous.

  45. Thank you, fingfangfoom.

    The Constitution isn’t some unchallengeable gospel. If I believe that something in the Constitution is unjust, I can cry foul. I’m crying foul here–why should Hutchinson, elected in Texas, have the right to set the policies of Washington, DC? “Because the Constitution says so” is no argument.

  46. C includes two subsets, A & B.

    G requests that C send a representative using an established process to choose that representative.

    Group A participates actively in the established process (z votes for candidate a, x for b, and “a” gets the most votes).

    B opts out of the process, without withdrawing membership from C.

    The result, G recognizes candidate “a” as the representative for C. “a” represents A & B (aka C) in G.

    What “a” clearly doesn’t do, is directly represent z, x, B or any individual within C.

  47. Make that…

    “What “a” clearly doesn’t do, is directly represent A, z, x, B or any individual within C.”

  48. What other city in the USA has its policies set by 535 people it didn’t elect?

    Pago Pago, American Samoa
    Agana, Guam
    Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
    San Juan, Puerto Rico
    Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands

    And NYC has its policies set by whichever union is on strike.

  49. No question about it: Time to get the computers out of the classromms!

    Let them work at McDonalds when they grow up.

  50. OK,

    If ‘a’ does not represent all the elements in set C, it does not represent set C.

    If, as your written argument seems to indicate, ‘a’ does not represent any subset or element C, then it quite clearly does not represent C.

    Now, I know the latter case is not what you meant, it was based on a literal interpretation of what you wrote. But, if some object has a relationship with another set of object, then surely it must have that relationship with all the elements within the set.

    G may act like ‘a’ represents C, but in the end, ‘a’ is going to act on the behalf of only a subset of C, mainly those who supported him.

    Thus, ‘a’ is appointed to his position by a portion of A, over the opposition of the other members of A. He then claims to represent A+B, while advocating on behalf of E and against F.

    Who are E and F? F are the people he tries to harm so that he can provide E with some form of spoils.

    In the end, the only people that ‘a’ can legitimately claim to represent are the people who asked him to represent them, the subset of group A who voted for him.

    When he claims to be representing all of C, he is committing an act of fraud.

  51. Tarran,

    When “a” is recognized by G as the representative of C, it is inherent that C is considered as a collective unit containing all of our various subgroups (what do we have now, A, B, x,z, E & F, and all the individuals). Each of those special interests can engage and attempt to influence “a” or even G(referred to above as lobbying). That impact of lobbying “a” will sum at some point when “a” is asked to participate in a decision. Opting out of the process is likely to have the least influence, but if “a” is at all ethical, s/he will represent all constituents within C working towards the best outcome for C as a whole, balancing the interests of the various subsets.

    None of this has anything to do with “a” agreeing with any particular individual or subset of C. The role of the representative is to attempt (imperfectly in the end) to represent the interests of the community as a whole. So when you claim that “a” doesn’t represent you directly you are correct. S/he represents the community.

    In the comment that generated this silly little exercise in misunderstanding, you claimed that when the representative of your community is someone that you did not vote for, you do not have representation in congress.

    But no individual has direct representation in congress. Because only communities have representation in congress (defined by G through an established process), your membership in C provides you with representation indirectly. If you want direct or proportional representation you will need to remove yourself from C and find a community that structures itself differently.

  52. Look, when you’re talking about procedurally correct, you’re speaking of the Constitution and established law. The District has been settled “procedurally” as not being represented. If you want to change it, go ahead and knock yourself out. But don’t say that there’s something wrong “procedurally” speaking (because when you toss about words like substantive and procedural, people assume you’re talking legal issues, not moral ones.)

    Talk about fiddling while Rome burns! There’s a 40-year-old teacher arrested on the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard and we’re worried about people who have been legally non-represented for 220 years. You think we can maybe worry about it some other time? (of course, representation in the government shouldn’t be so important anyway…it’s a sad statement on everyone that talking about government occupies so much of our lives)

  53. in an attempt to redirect this dull open thread…

    economics…

    “Economic theory holds that money should flow downhill. The North, as rich countries are informally known, should want to sink its capital into the South – the developing world, which some statisticians define as all countries but the 29 wealthiest. According to this model, money both does well and does good: investors get a higher return than they could get in their own mature economies, and poor countries get the capital they need to get richer. Increasing the transfer of capital from rich nations to poorer ones is often listed as one justification for economic globalization.

    Historically, the global balance sheet has favored poor countries. But with the advent of globalized markets, capital began to move in the other direction, and the South now exports capital to the North, at a skyrocketing rate. According to the United Nations, in 2006 the net transfer of capital from poorer countries to rich ones was $784 billion, up from $229 billion in 2002. (In 1997, the balance was even.) Even the poorest countries, like those in sub-Saharan Africa, are now money exporters.

    How did this great reversal take place? Why did globalization begin to redistribute wealth upward?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/25/magazine/25wwlnidealab.t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine&oref=slogin

  54. I, of course, take full responsibility for the dullness.

  55. land-based radio stations consider satellite radio a competitor

    They are all land based. The antennas are at different altitudes.

  56. It was expected that DC would be populated by bureaucrats, hangers-on, lobbyists and the power-hungry. They would be forced to live there if they were to have any power, because there were no major cities within convenient range, in the days before the railroad or telegraph.

    Wow, how big is that cart you filled full of bullshit?

  57. why should Hutchinson, elected in Texas, have the right to set the policies of Washington, DC?

    Oh, maybe for the same reason that when she is in the (holy) majority she gets to set the policies of Orlando, FL or Kalispell, MT, to name two places where people did not vote for her.

    Frankly the notion that DC would be “better off” with “representation” is laughable. The notion that the likes of Marion Barry are more concerned with the real well-being of DC residents than someone like Orrin Hatch or Barney Frank is a joke.

    I, for one, cannot imagine how the fortunes of the average DC resident would change if they were to get “representation”. The District already gets more federal money per capita than any place in the entire country and many parts of it are still cesspools.

  58. How did this great reversal take place?

    Da joos.

  59. And still no Reason editorial mention of whitie-working-for-Webb getting a light charge for carrying a machine gun (as defined by DC) in DC and into the Russell Senate Office Building. Yea, it ought to be legal, but it ain’t. As opposed to all that carping about legally firing lawyers, and every other topic related to the Thompson (Webb’s assistant) affair that has been touted here.

    How about those British hostages being paraded about in the media?

  60. And NYC has its policies set by whichever union is on strike.

    LarryA wins the thread.

  61. How about those British hostages being paraded about in the media?

    If Britian would’ve nuked Argentina in 1982 this wouldn’t have happened today.

    I just hope Iran makes the decision whether to bomb them or not an easy one.

  62. Now this is funny….

    The New York Times Review of books looked at Radicals for Capitalism. It seemed pretty fair, then near the end I see this…

    MOST troubling, Doherty merely catalogs the movement’s failings rather than grappling with them. He relates that Rand “notoriously testified” before the big-brotherly House Un-American Activities Committee in October 1947, when the committee was investigating Hollywood, where Rand had worked as a screenwriter, but the episode receives only two paragraphs. He skates over other questionable matters, too: for instance, that Friedman advised the murderous Pinochet regime in Chile; that Merwin Hart “infected his free-market thought with anti-Semitism”; and that Rothbard supported Strom Thurmond’s segregationist campaign for president in 1948 (because, Doherty casually observes, “he admired Thurmond’s states’ rights position”). The book fails to ask why people who claim to love freedom have so often had a soft spot for those who would deny it to others. Libertarianism has now arrived at an interesting juncture. The moment for its grandest ambitions seems to have passed. President Bush is no longer talking about privatizing Social Security, and his free-market approach to rebuilding Iraq has proven disastrous.

    Yea, that’s the lesson to be had from Iraq. The free market doesn’t work. Ok, New York Times.

  63. I am glad I don’t read NYT reviews much, because that is the dimmest segment of one that I have read to date. I am sure they have been dimmer in the past and will be in the future.

  64. And NYC has its policies set by whichever union is on strike.

    Speaking of NYC policies, here’s a weekend thread topic:

    The NYPD bypassed city council and issued new regulations classifying any group of 50 or more cyclists, pedestrians or other vehicles as a “parade” that must apply for a permit, in order to crack down on cyclists gathering for the Critical Mass bike rally on the last Friday of the month.

    The police showed up in force, and although they didn’t invoke the new regulation, they still arrested 3 people and issued 47 summons because people decided to ride their bicycles on city streets. The summons were for grave crimes like failing to stay to the right (which is not a violation of NY law if its safer to bike in the center of the road), and failing to ride in a bike lane on Park Ave South, where there are no bike lanes.

    Apparently, the NYPD ran out of political organizations to spy on across the country.

  65. If the British Petroleum’s boys at the Foregin Ministry hadn’t convinced the United States government to attack Iran in 1955, this wouldn’t be happening.

    Of course, if the Iranian government hadn’t decided to steal the assets of British Petroleum, the Brits might not have asked the U.S. government to attack Iran.

    Frankly, I expect that the Revolutionary Guards are hoping for an attack. It will give them an excuse to get the Shiite militias to attack the U.S. army. The U.S. army is currently being defeated by the Sunni minority, I doubt they could handle another front opening up.

    I think that the Revolutionary Guards recognize that

    a) strategic bombardment, even with new smart weapons cannot defeat a sufficiently dedicated
    army. This is especially true since the U.S. army is incapable of mounting sustained ground operations in Iran.

    b) the U.S. government will inevitably slaughter lots of innocents pushing people in Iran to hate the U.S. government more.

    c) It is guaranteed to “emasculate” the English government; the English lack the resources to do sustained strategic bombardment. They will either have to get U.S. military help, or agree to some humiliating deal like the U.S. did in the U.S.S. Pueblo incident.

    I think that the best “military” option probably available to the English government is targetted assassinations of the Revolutionary Guard leadership. And blowing the shit out of any gunboat that noodles near and British ships in the Persian Gulf.

    Personally, though, I favor withdrawal. The Revolutionary Guards spend alot of their time pissing off the Iranian populace. Without the excuse of defending Iranians against the big bad Anglo-Zionist conspiracy, the Revolutionary Guards will become seen as the enemy by many of the Iranian people. They’ll either have to liberalize or lose power as the economy collapses.

  66. via bbc,

    Some views from Iran

    “Being a human being first and a muslim second, I want the families of the captured marines to know that my prayers are with their loved ones every moment of day and night. The present Iranian government is hell bent on bringing destruction upon itself; and it will be us women and kids who will suffer the most; while these war – mongering mullahs will safely retire to their bunkers. A majority of us Iranians are much like you in the West. But the sad part is that we had the Islamic Revolution.
    Fatima, Tehran

    Instead of arresting them, it was better if they issued warnings to these British marines, if they really had entered Iranian territories, and then guide them to the International waters. In such intense situation, it is not to the benefit of Iran to get itself involved in another political row.
    Babak, Tehran

    Somebody (either Iranians or the British) has made a mistake and it does not need so much hue and cry! The story is becoming more like the arrest of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah in Lebanon, which resulted in a month’s of killing in that country. I am very surprised at Tony Blair’s remarks, which makes the situation even more sensitive. It is not a positive step towards resolving the issue.
    Behnam Beikzadeh”

  67. Personally, though, I favor withdrawal. The Revolutionary Guards spend alot of their time pissing off the Iranian populace. Without the excuse of defending Iranians against the big bad Anglo-Zionist conspiracy, the Revolutionary Guards will become seen as the enemy by many of the Iranian people. They’ll either have to liberalize or lose power as the economy collapses.

    No, they’ll keep power regardless because they’re the government, they have the guns and are willing to brutalize the populace. The extent of their control over the country doesn’t fluctuate based on how good their excuses are.

    In a country where a news show claims pepsi stands for “Purchase Every Penny to Save Israel” many make the mistake of assuming that conspiracy theories need to have a rational basis.

  68. via counterpunch,

    “Writing in his widely read blog (http://www.craigmurray.co.uk/weblog.html ), Murray points to a “colossal problem” with respect to the map the British government has used to show coordinates of the incident and the Iran/Iraq maritime border-the story uncritically accepted by stenographers of the mainstream press. Murray writes:

    “The Iran/Iraq maritime boundary shown on the British government map does not exist. It has been drawn up by the British Government. Only Iraq and Iran can agree on their bilateral boundary, and they have never done this in the Gulf, only inside the Shatt because there it is the land border too. This published boundary is a fake with no legal force…Anyway, the UK was plainly wrong to be ultra-provocative in disputed waters…

    “They [the British Marines] would under international law have been allowed to enter Iranian territorial waters if in “hot pursuit” of terrorists, slavers, or pirates….But they were looking for smuggled vehicles attempting to evade car duty. What has the evasion of Iranian or Iraqi taxes got to do with the Royal Navy?”

    Ambassador Murray has appealed to reason and cooler heads. To state what should be the obvious, he notes it is not legitimate for the British government to draw a boundary without agreement of the countries involved:

    “A little more humility, and an acknowledgement that this is a boundary subject to dispute, might actually get our people home. The question is are we really aiming to get our people home, or to maximize propaganda from the incident?”

    “…Unless one’s basic intention is to provoke a hostile action to which the US and UK could “retaliate,” getting involved in a tit-for-tat contest with the Iranians is a foolish and reckless game, for it may not prove possible to avoid escalation and loss of control. And we seem to be well on our way there. If one calls Iran “evil,” arrests its diplomats, accuses it of promoting terrorism and unlawful capture, one can be certain that the Iranians will retaliate and raise the stakes in the process.

    That is how the game of tit-for-tat is played in that part of the world. What British and American officials seem not to be taking into account is that the Iranians are the neighborhood toughs. In that neighborhood, they control the conditions under which the game will be played. They can change the rules freely any time they want; the UK cannot, and neither can Washington. Provocative behavior, then, can be very dangerous, unless you mean to pick a fight you may well regret.

    Someone should recount to Tony Blair and Ayatollah Khameini the maxim quoted by former United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix just last week:

    “The noble art of losing face
    Will someday save the human race.”

    Ray Close, Princeton, NJ
    Larry Johnson, Bethesda, MD
    David MacMichael, Linden, VA
    Ray McGovern, Arlington, VA
    Coleen Rowley, Apple Valley, MN

    Steering Group
    Veteran Intelligence Professionals
    for Sanity (VIPS)

    VIPS can be reached through Ray McGovern at: RRMcGovern@aol.com

  69. Yes, apologists for Iran. Mark this thread “Best of Reason“.

  70. Libertarianism has now arrived at an interesting juncture. The moment for its grandest ambitions seems to have passed. President Bush is no longer talking about privatizing Social Security, and his free-market approach to rebuilding Iraq has proven disastrous.

    Funny indeed. George W. Bush, the last best hope for libertarianism.

  71. Imagine that an armed Iranian boat was close to British territorial waters and the Brits snatched the crew. Would not many in the West deem it a “legitimate security action”, or some such.

    And what about those Iranian diplomatic types in Iraq, assuming that’s indeed what they are, who were kidnapped by our military? What ever became of them? Are they still being held?

  72. …his free-market approach to rebuilding Iraq has proven disastrous.

    Has anything like a free-market approach been tried? We’d need some particulars to support that statement.

  73. I said:

    “We’d need some particulars to support that statement.”

    I shoulda said: “We’d need some particulars to *examine* that statement.”

  74. Here’s a few more Jesuses for your Palm Sunday viewing pleasure. Some of them are even made out of chocolate. Now, please explain why these things are okay but the one in the New York hotel was blasphemous. Posts must not exceed 250 words.

  75. Ayn Randian,

    It should be obvious that I was objecting to the procedure by which DC is represented (I.E, by congress itself) rather than alleging some sort of violation of existing procedure.

    If it’s not obvious to you, that may have to do with your preferred choice of reading material.

  76. Has anything like a free-market approach been tried?

    Well, I remember during the first year of the occupation, U.S. soldiers would routinely shut down people selling electricity “illegally”. They also were going after black market gasoline dealers.

    The illegal providers of electricity tended to be entrepreneurs who set up a generator and sold electricity to neighboring homes and businesses. Of course, they competed with the government utility, so they had to be shut down.

    The gasoline black market is an result of the Iraqi price controls that cap gas prices at a ludicrously low level. Since the official price of gasoline is well below market clearing levels, there are shortages. These shortages prompt people to look for alternate distribution channels, and attract entrepreneurs who try to provide gasoline at market clearing prices. Some of the gasoline is stolen from the official oil ministry distribution network, and some of it is smuggled from Kuwait and Jordan (I think). Of course, the economically illiterate people who think price controls are a neato idea blame these black marketeers for “causing” the shortages etc.

    Of course, there is nothing inherently libertarian or free-markety about the above two activities. In fact, it was watching the U.S. occupation forces in action in the first year of the occupation that convinced me that George Bush is a flaming socialist at heart on economic issues.

    Of course, the New York Times wouldn’t know a free market if they were given a guided tour of it by David Friedman, hell they even think that California’s state induced electricity crisis of c 2000 was the result of a free market in electricity (when in fact it was blatantly designed by the legislature to siphon money from consumers into the pockets of favored utility companies by severely constraining electricity manufacture and sales).

  77. Who benefits?

  78. I was on the fence regarding the Sirius/XM merger, but since the NAB opposes the move, I must conclude the merger is a good thing.

  79. Rick Barton, Happy April Fool’s Day to you too. I see you started early.

  80. Happy Passover!

    As every parent should know, this is an important day for getting your ledest child to do chores.

    “Don’t want to clean your room? You know, I don’t have to put that lambs blood over the door . . .”

  81. Al Gore plans on closing the internet at 2:00 PM Eastern Time (USA) in protest against people who doubt his global warming claims.

  82. Guy Montag,

    Whatdya mean, “Happy April Fool’s Day to you too”? Are you anti-free market?

  83. How ’bout them BUCKEYES?

  84. Karen,

    Ah, thank you! I love “Jesus of the Week”. I forgot that it is now online. That was one of my favorite features in the local free weeklies when it used to be in syndication.

    Oh, and to answer your question: I doubt most people are aware of “Jesus of the Week”. Bring this site to the attention of certain people and you will have instant uproar.

    Next should be “Mohammed of the Week” — in the spirit of fairness and consideration for all religions.

  85. Grand Chalupa,
    The land of Britain and the American continent will of course continue to go wherever their tectonic plates drag them.

    The people living in those places, for the most part should do nothing.

    As for the governments, for the U.S. government nothing. For the British government, I don’t know. At a minimum, if I were an official in the British MOD, I would cashier the incompetent idiot that was responsible for the decision to have a boarding party board a ship while their own ship sailed away.

    The British Navy has been boarding ships for centuries. I am surprised they made such a massive mistake. Of course, maybe they were overstretched, with too few frigates to do the job properly.

    I wouldn’t disagree with that, but you should know by now that Grand Chalupa isn’t worthy of a response.

  86. I wouldn’t disagree with that, but you should know by now that Grand Chalupa isn’t worthy of a response.

    I’m not worthy of being responded to but I’m worth enough for you to find the threads I’m posting at and post about nothing but me?

    Looks like I’ve got a secret admirer. Come on guys, is it you, Neu Mejican?

  87. I love chalupas.

    Not me.

    Don’t flatter yourself.

    I hardly read your comments.

  88. Lighten up, I picked a name at random.

  89. Asharak, Neu:

    just drop the chalupa.

    [runs off]

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