Friday, October 25, 2002

Money stream to 104 suspect child porn websites cut off.

Attorney General Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that as a result of a cease and desist order her office issued on August 26, 2002 to certain Internet billing companies, 104 suspected child pornography websites are no longer able to accept credit card charges through such companies to peddle their wares. As a result of this action, which is the first of its kind in the nation, the access to these websites is essentially cut off for residents of the United States.

What to say if you get one of these cease and desist orders.

Gee, I'd love to help but I have no way of knowing if those sites contain any kiddie porn. I can't even look at them because if they did contain any kiddie porn to look at them would be to commit a Federal felony. So I have no way of determining if your opinion of their contents is valid.

Even if I could look at the sites I wouldn't have any way of telling if the sites contained photos of real persons under the age of 18 rather than animated or morphed images. I lack that technical capability.

Additionally, when did an Attorney General become a judge. You have no more power to "order" anything than I do. You can order your employees but I'm not one of those. A "demand letter" is not a "cease-and-desist order". You lack that power.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Business as Usual

In which the famous Paul Krugman relates the horrors to follow the coming Republican election victory [Registration Required].

The mood among business lobbyists, according to a jubilant official at the Heritage Foundation, is one of "optimism, bordering on giddiness." They expect the elections on Nov. 5 to put Republicans in control of all three branches of government, and have their wish lists ready. "It's the domestic equivalent of planning for postwar Iraq," says the official.

The White House also apparently expects Christmas in November ...

...The first big step in undermining reform came when Harvey Pitt, chairman of the S.E.C., backtracked on plans to appoint a strong and independent figure to head a new accounting oversight board.

...The S.E.C. has been underfunded for years ... now the administration wants to cancel most of the "new funding" Mr. Bush boasted about....

...So what's going on? Here's a parallel. Since 1995 Congress has systematically forced the Internal Revenue Service to shrink its operations; the number of auditors has fallen by 28 percent....

...The Bush administration contains more former C.E.O.'s than any previous administration, but as James Surowiecki put it in The New Yorker, "Almost none of the C.E.O.'s on the Bush team headed competitive, entrepreneurial businesses." Instead they come out of a world of "crony capitalism, in which whom you know is more important than what you do and how you do it." Why would they turn their backs on that world?...

...Senator Phil Gramm, who pushed through legislation that exempted Enron's trading practices from regulation while his wife sat on the company's board, is retiring and taking a new job: he's going to UBS Warburg, the company that bought Enron's trading operation. Somehow, crusaders against business abuse don't get similar offers....

So, if the rascally Republicans win, they will cut government spending and reduce (or at least not increase) some of the burden of government regulation. Terrible! Would that it were so. I fear that the opposite would be true.

And does Krugman really think that if the admin was full of CEOs from entrepreneurial industries they would be more likely to support tighter regulation? Krugman hasn't met too many entrepreneurial types.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Pacifist-Aggressive Behavior

Pacifism is not my view of the world, but at least those who practice nonviolence in their own lives are just taking their own lives into their own hands. If they tell me (as some friends of mine have) that they don't think they could pull the trigger to kill someone who's trying to rape or even kill them, that's their choice. But the proposal on the list isn't just pacifism: This is an attempt to force nonviolence on others, by threatening to imprison them for exercising what I see as one of their most fundamental rights. Let's call it the pacifist-aggressive approach. I don't like it.

All too true -- and not just is the opposition to self defense. There are hoards of people who claim to be pacifists -- the Catholic Social Action types come to mind -- but who advocate loads of government action to raise taxes and control the minutia of human life. A true pacifist can't support the existence of any taxes or any government regulation since those practices work only via the application of loads of deadly force. They could support a "voluntary community" who's rules and dues were enforced only by the threat of disfellowship. But most go a lot farther than that. So they aren't actually pacifists at all.

Sunday, October 20, 2002


[From last Thursday's column:] [Maxim] magazine, which specializes in photos of scantily clad celebrities, touched off a controversy at UNLV's Boyd School of Law recently, when first-year student Clarke Walton was spotted reading it on his laptop computer during a class break. Two fellow students, both women, complained to their professor, Jean Whitney, that they were offended and distracted by the image. . . .

I'm surprised that no one has tried the defense I thought of a few years ago when the "Reading Playboy at a Berkeley Coffee Shop" case hit.

"I'm protected by the restrictions on discrimination on campus/in Berkeley on the basis of sexual or affectional preference. Looking at pictures of naked/scantily clad women happens to be my sexual preference. I have to put up with Sodomy on campus and you have to put up with visual depictions of erotica on campus. Too bad. They should have thought of that when they banned discrimination on that basis."