Archive

  • Brave New World

    I'm not going to get in the way of Matt's open-source advocacy, it's very much a heart says yes, head says no issue for me. I do think he's being a bit obtuse on the distinction between "making stuff" and infringement (it's fairly well understood that many of these programs are specifically made for the purposes of infringement but legally cling to potential legitimate uses, something Tim Lee explains well in this post ), but his ultimate points are sound. One thing, though, that confuses me. File swapping has always struck me as fairly easy to stop. The RIAA or the movie industry could simply purchase 15,000, or 30,000, or a million fairly cheap computers, pack their hard drives with audio files, hook them to the file-swapping networks, and flood every open file-sharing program with dummy files that, once downloaded, offer a symphony of top-volume screeching teenyboppers, yelping puppies, and sobbing children. If users had to sift through five of those for every usable file they got...
  • All Around the World, People Stop and They Say...

    Survey USA has released a 50-state poll of Bush's approval ratings. So if you were wondering what, say, Hawaii thinks of the Commander-in-Chief, now you'll know. I'm not quite woken up yet, so serious number crunching will have to be done by others. Suffice to say that Bush only hits the magic 50% mark in 12 of the 50 states, even Texas isn't willing to give him the much-loved 51%. Closer to (my) home, Arnold, too, is probably in trouble. Bush is right there in the high-30's with him, a dismal rating that screams target practice to any Dem hopeful willing to take a shot. If the Governator doesn't stop sticking right in his agenda, he's going to get tied to the President, and if he gets tied to the President, he's finished.
  • Speechwriting

    John Kerry's penned an op-ed in today's Times called "The Speech the President Should Give", offering Bush a helpful outline for how tonight's Iraq address should be structured. What's not mentioned anywhere is that this is exactly the speech John Kerry should've been giving during the election, over and over again, rather than continuing with his equivocations over whether we should've entered the country. A good read worth filing in the "What Might Have Been" category, I guess.
  • Thoughts From the Magazine Rack

    Why does the right seem to have so many more serious, policy-oriented journals dedicated to hashing out intramovement questions? The National Interest , the newly-defunct Public Interest, and all the others lacking "Interest" in the title and traction in my memory comprise a pretty impressive group on the shelf. The left has Dissent , but even that's more like a standard leftish magazine with an editor determined to give his articles heft than an analogue to the right's weighty contenders. It's not, mind you, that I think more policy journals would somehow leave us in a stronger electoral position or offer ideas we somehow lack. Quite the opposite. Democrats could do with a defetishization of academic intelligence and a little more respect for specific sorts of certitude, but those are electoral considerations. I'm a blue state elitist and I deserve my journals, or at least an explanation as to their absence! Is the answer that the left's intellectual-minded members are mostly in the...
  • Democracy Bonds

    A big howdy-ho to our newest advertiser, the DNC. They -- and their new online director, my former blog mate Joe Rospars -- are pushing Democracy Bonds, an idea I like: Your "Democracy Bond" is a commitment to make a monthly contribution the Democratic Party in order to: * Reform the political process by building a political party beholden only to the people, not the special interests * Build the Democratic Party from the ground up in every precinct so that we can compete everywhere * Win elections in every state and territory of the United States, at every level of office "Democracy Bonds" are about building a community of Americans with a stake in our common future -- locally, nationally, and globally. They will bond together a person in Alaska and a person in Missouri in common cause for a political process where parties are accountable to ordinary people and their concerns. You can only buy one bond. You can decide to commit more money per month, depending on what you can afford,...
  • Why the FDA is in tatters

    This is Matthew Holt from The Health Care Blog getting in a piece that I meant to publish while I was guesting last week: It's time to dip into the murky waters of the FDA once more. This is a classic tale of politics intruding into an agency that should have science as its prime motivator. Here's the story summarized so far. The FDA has barely had a full time official commissioner since the start of the Bush Administration. Mark McClellan was officially head for a brief while in 2003, but he barely had time to look embarrassed on 60 Minutes when asked why Canadian drugs weren't safe enough for Americans before he nipped off to the rather more rarefied atmosphere of CMS -- where he's much better suited. Meanwhile before, after (and basically during) McClellan's time at FDA, the acting commissioner has been Lester Crawford. Some cynics have noticed that there are a few clouds over Crawford. He was involved in some pretty close to the wind activities when he was in charge of Food Safety...
  • The (Republican) Nationals

    I find this fairly scary. America is supposed to work differently.
  • The Carpenters Find a Fold

    Looks like the Carpenters have joined the breakaway unions (more officially known as the Change to Win Coalition). Jonathan Tasini has an excellent analysis up at Working Life , and I'll have more to say on all this later. Bottom line, though, is that I'm happy to see Labor shook to the core. It's become trite to say that we can't have progressive politics without a strong labor movement, but it's rarely asked whether the conditions for such a movement even exist, or what the end result would look like. Today's economy is much more transient than yesterday's, and that's true for both employers and employees. The current split strikes me as the last attempt to make a new labor constituency using the old labor perspective. If it fails? Then we can figure out the next step. But we can't go there until this project has run its course, and that can't happen until some hungry unions try to replicate last century's successes in this century's economy. The AFL-CIO is too intent on preserving...
  • Firestorm

    What a fitting epitaph to the Social Security fight: "I had hoped there would be, after four months, a firestorm of support for accounts, especially among young people," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). "It's not there. I'm very disappointed." Back in March, I argued that the Republican reliance on the young was a stupid mistake. My demographic doesn't care about Social Security. If you don't give a damn, private accounts sound fine, but you're not going to lay down in traffic, or even get up from the couch, in support of them. Not to mention that young folks were the only age groups easily carried by Senator Kerry. If we'd had our way, there'd be no Bush offering Social Security change, instead, there'd be a Democrat changing our health care system. If right wing luminaries like Grassley really were counting on a firestorm of twenty-something support, privatization was dead from the start.
  • More Machines

    Tova Wang's got an interesting piece on voter suppression in The Century Foundation's Taking Note. According to her, it wasn't high tech hackers doing the work, but old school class discrimination: Elections officials, whether through incompetence or intentional efforts to suppress the vote, did more damage than any particular technology might have done by failing to supply sufficient numbers of voting machines. And as the House Judiciary Democratic Committee investigation found in Ohio, "There was a wide discrepancy between the availability of voting machines in more minority, Democratic and urban areas as compared to more Republican, suburban and exurban areas." Right after the election the Washington Post reported that, "local political activists seeking a recount analyzed how Franklin County officials distributed voting machines. They found that 27 of the 30 wards with the most machines per registered voter showed majorities for Bush. At the other end of the spectrum, six of the...

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