Attaboy Kucinich

On Fox News the Honorable Representative Dennis Kucinich said (rough quote from memory) when talking about Obama and the war in Libya:

“He can’t say he did this for NATO”
(that is, start using war powers against Libya)

“The U.S. Constitution trumps NATO”
“The U.S. Constitution trumps the UN”

He further went on to say that Obama was in violation of “The War Powers Act”, in that it requires an imminent threat to the USA for the President to commit acts of war and Libya was not an imminent threat to the USA.

Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich

It is exceptionally pleasing to see a Democrat standing up for the constitution and showing a bit of wisdom about just where the USA legal structure stands in relation to “treaties”, such as with NATO, and “international law” as promulgated via the UN. There may be hope yet for the Democratic Party to return to its roots as a party of working class Americans and not a play thing of the International Progressive Movement… or perhaps that ought to be The Internationale movement…

Of all places, I’m going to quote from Politico:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Defund Libya attack

By JAKE SHERMAN | 3/22/11 11:37 AM EDT

Liberal Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich plans to offer up a measure that would defund U.S. efforts in Libya.

According to a letter blasted to his email list, Kucinich plans to offer an amendment to the next spending bill to ensure no federal funds go to the bombing campaign in Libya.

The amendment would give Congress a more concrete opportunity than they’ve had to challenge President Barack Obama on Libya, a subject that has riled both sides of the aisle.

In the letter Kucinich addressed to his fellow lawmakers, the Ohio Democrat said Obama scooted around the Constitution, “which gives only Congress the power to declare war.” He also says the no-fly zone will cost between $400 and 800 million.

“We have already spent trillions of dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which descended into unwinnable quagmires,” Kucinich wrote in his letter. “Now, the president is plunging the United States into yet another war we cannot afford. While the administration assures us that that the U.S. will hand-off its lead role to coalition partners within days, we have not been notified of long-term plans or goals following initial air strikes in the country. The timeline the president gave to Congress was summarized with one word: ‘limited.’”

While I do not agree with many of his positions, on this one he deserves a great big “Attaboy!”…

We are not the world’s policeman. We are not the world’s nanny. We are not the world’s anything. We need to honor our own laws first, and we need to tell the rest of the world to fix their own damn problems. They made ’em, they can fix ’em. And we certainly don’t need to be borrowing Chinese money to fund a gratuitous involvement in an Arab civil war so a US President can feel important and “actualized” while getting “street cred” with the Arab Street.

“Voluntary Wars”? Just say no…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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83 Responses to Attaboy Kucinich

  1. hoboduke says:

    Since when does Chief Executive of our Republic include being king maker of other countries? Drone killing missions are a traffic jam in the skies killing in a world away. Does this method of killing absolve us of the blood on all our hands? I find it troubling, and destructive to assume the decisions of life and death. Especially since NATO is only their to protect their European oil interests in Libya.
    I want a 2012 candidate that will have one campaign promise. End the wars now, everywhwere. Bring back our troops, and stop burning billions of dollars and destroying countries around the world. We have never been an occupation force, until now. Small wars can spin out of control into global destruction, because war is still not a science. In essence, war is destruction, killing, and brutal. We have military serving 5 tours of combat. Military suicide rate is one way to stop the madness of endless combat. Military suicide rates are being ignored, since our fearless leader considers military merely puppets to be used in some new world order.

  2. Level_Head says:

    We have here a random alignment of principles creating a momentary, local decrease in entropy.

    Put another way, even a Dennis Kucinich is right twice a day on some point. I recall when he did this before; he was one of the last holdouts on Obamacare for constitutional issues, and Obama rather famously met with him privately to cut some sort of deal.

    In this instance, it is useful for conservatives that Obama is behaving as we expected — talk anti-war, but be quick to pull the trigger for all the wrong reasons. And that the far Left is making objection to this.

    On the local communist/socialist radio station, they occasionally talk of impeaching Obama over this issue and others; Louis Farrakhan and others describe him as having fallen from the true path and being a sellout. It’s not likely that these folks would ever vote in a conservative, pro-American fashion, but at least they might be inclined to withhold their vote next year rather than vote for a man who has hidden, then in some respects seemed to abandon, his socialist roots.

    I don’t think that he has abandoned his roots, so much as never having deep ones to begin with. He’s an opportunist; he joined the socialist New Party because he needed them politically, and he’s done countless things merely for expedience, including attacking his own mentor through the odd trick of disqualifying her on a technicality from competing fairly with him for election.

    He became a Christian, he explained in one of his books, because it was politically convenient and they didn’t ask much of him like changing his behavior.

    He is now, apparently, a puppet of Soros and unions because it is the pragmatic thing to do. But even these people have to be wary of Obama; some of this wariness is being expressed publicly.

    And Dennis Kucinich here has always been out front with far-left positions; it is amusing that the left knows the Constitution (or has researchers who do), but only rarely seem to find it useful.

    Barack Obama, the package, was placed in a position of great power. Barack Obama, the man, was not ready for it. The reasons for this can be speculated upon, but the evidence is clear — even to Dennis Kucinich.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  3. H.R. says:


    Well said (written)!

    One little niggle:
    “Barack Obama, the package, was placed in a position of great power. Barack Obama, the man, was not ready for it.”

    I’d stay with puppet as you mentioned earlier.


  4. Level_Head says:


    Thank you.

    My use of “package” was intentional; he was packaged partly by his own campaign and partly by the media, which acted as an extension of it.

    He is a puppet, to a fair extent — but an unreliable one. A reliable puppet could be in such a position and do everything (and only those things) that his controllers expect — and do it in such a way as to keep objections to a minimum.

    Obama wanders away from the script too frequently. He is clumsy, especially when not reading from his Teleprompter. Moreover, he makes evident that he’s not actually familiar with what he’s reading, and he famously mispronounces words that he wasn’t expecting. I’m not thinking about the “corpsman” business — he is just a Commander in Chief utterly unfamiliar with US military traditions. Instead, I’m thinking about words like Orion (which he pronounced “orrey-on”), because Barack Obama wasn’t even familiar with NASA’s programs as he read his prepared speech shutting them down.

    Incidentally, as with Kucinich and his Constitution revelation, I am in agreement with Barack Obama and his handlers in this instance — NASA should be focused on exploration, and leave the low Earth orbit hauling to private enterprise. The fact that Obama did something right for all the wrong reasons doesn’t prevent me from applauding the decision.

    Is President Obama a puppet? I think so, to a fair extent, though I’d wager that he denies this even to himself. Is he a fool? Sadly, I think that this is true as well. Is he a socialist? Well, to the extent that he can pretend to be anything for the purposes of the moment, including puppet, I think that he is not reliably any ideology — which has to be disturbing (and evidently is) to those people who are attempting to direct him.

    So the puppet aspect was not foremost in my mind; it is one of many aspects of the man which is evident frequently, but inconstantly.

    Still, I think that he’s pretty reliably a fool. And I suspect that this same opinion is held by many of those closest to him.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  5. While we (including Dennis Kucinich) were asleep, constitutional government slipped away.

    In my opinion, Obama and the leaders of both major political parties in Washington DC now show about as much respect for the US Constitution as did the late Nikita Khrushchev.

  6. Mike Jonas says:

    “He can’t say he did this for NATO”

    He went to considerable lengths to make sure that he could. As I understand it, the operation was officially a NATO operation implementing UN resolution 1973. It went perilously close to being too late while Obama waited for NATO’s decision.

    “.. Obama was in violation of “The War Powers Act””

    Doesn’t he get 90 days?

  7. H.R. says:

    @ Level Head

    Okay. He’s a puppet with a few loose strings :o)

  8. Level_Head says:

    @Mike Jonas:

    As I understand it, the operation was officially a NATO operation implementing UN resolution 1973.

    This might make “world opinion” happy with President Obama, but it does nothing for the US Constitution, which controls. That was Rep. Kucinich’s point.

    And neither side — the Muslim Brotherhood jihadist rebels, nor the Qadhaffi strongman’s thugs, were worthy of our efforts.

    Doesn’t he get 90 days?

    Perhaps he’ll get twenty years. But the “War Powers Act” (technically the War Powers Resolution, 50 USC 1541 et seq.), modified after Nixon abuses and passed over his veto, provides a narrow window of emergency action only to save American lives. It’s 60 days, not 90, and it does not apply here. No official has pretended that we acted to save Americans trapped in Libya.

    President Obama is in violation of the US Constitution, and of the War Powers resolution statutes which attempted to clarify it.

    His justification and intention seems to come from the “R2P doctrine” which has been discussed here before — a doctrine that essentially undercuts the sovereignty of all nations in favor of the UN.

    The ultimate targets of such a doctrine would be Israel, and the United States itself. But such considerations aside, President Obama is on unconscionable ground legally.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  9. GregP says:

    The importance of a declaration of war…

    You might find this interesting.

  10. GregP says:


    “But such considerations aside, President Obama is on unconscionable ground legally.”

    I’m not so sure. The WPA has never been challenged before the Supreme Court (not that that means much today).

    Congress is either too meek or too complicit to challenge the President’s unconstitutional actions like starting wars… but does go after the President when he’s caught chasing interns around the Oval Office.

  11. Level_Head says:


    I can find points of philosophical agreement with that author — but he is asserting that because something was traditionally done in a particular way in decades past, that tradition is now a requirement to be constitutional. That does not follow.

    The Constitution places specific requirements upon Congress and the President. Congress has muddied the waters, somewhat, with their vague (and intentional) language, but the rules were nevertheless followed in the past.

    That is the difference here; President Obama did not even attempt the process, despite having an abundance of time (and an absence of urgency).

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  12. Level_Head says:


    I’m not so sure. The WPA has never been challenged before the Supreme Court (not that that means much today).

    Well, what it means is that the War Powers Resolution is presumed constitutional by definition.

    When and if someone raises this issue with the Supreme Court — and it would probably have to be the president himself to have standing — then it can be said to be in question.

    Laws have full force and effect until an injunction is issued, and the War Powers resolution was looked at carefully and not challenged — by the president unable to stop it with a veto. (Nixon was overridden.)

    It does not seem facially invalid to me; it’s the sort of thing that Wilson would have challenged (he despised the Constitution and wrote many essays to this effect). Since 1973, though, this is the law — and breaking it is a potentially impeachable offense.

    Speaking of impeachments, though, I’m disinclined to impeach President Obama; I’d be content to vote him out. But President Clinton’s impeachment was originally about his dealings with Communist China; the Lewinsky “bimbo eruption” completely sidetracked this, and it was a mistake to shift the focus, however titillating the new material was.

    President Clinton’s associates were being arrested; many were convicted (and the Democratic Party had to pay for their defense). Others left the country; nearly a hundred. Millions of dollars of communist campaign contributions were sheepishly returned, once revealed. But technology had already changed hands (I was involved in that, obliquely, as that was my field and I was both a client of and vendor to the satellite industry) and the US was badly compromised for political gain.

    That was the talk on the floor of the Senate and House, every day (with Waxman furiously trying to protect Clinton and the Chinese), until Monica became the center of attention.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  13. GregP says:


    “…but he is asserting that because something was traditionally done in a particular way in decades past, that tradition is now a requirement to be constitutional. That does not follow.”

    Respectfully, I don’t agree. It’s not a question of tradition but one of law (both as written and the intent). The Constitution is the law. If those entrusted to enforce the law fail to do so, then as a nation we have abandoned the Rule of Law… bad things are sure to follow.

  14. Level_Head says:


    Respectfully, I don’t agree. It’s not a question of tradition but one of law (both as written and the intent). The Constitution is the law.

    I understand. And I am enjoying the civil discussion.

    One point of clarification. The Constitution forms the source of law, but statutes are also “the law.” And intent is a nebulous concept; both sides of an issue push this to their advantage. Precedent and interpretation are the keys. What does it actually say? (Constitution and statute, in this case the WPR.) What has it been held to mean in the past?

    But note that the writer does not work from the language of the Constitution, nor even of the currently active War Powers Resolution. He quotes what Congress happened to say before, in response to what presidents have happened to say before.

    You would get no argument from me about the Constitution being vitally important. But if that’s his argument, he should make it: “This is what the Constitution says, and here’s where we went awry based on specific language and case history.”

    His semantic game — that declaring a state of war means only that a state of war already exists — does not impress me much. Were it literally true, no country could possibly declare war, since there would have to have been a previous one who did. There is no language in the Constitution to support such an odd interpretation, and the writer did not try that route.

    He’s actually working against his own larger cause, by insisting (through his method of argument) that what Congress and the executive branch have done in more recent years trumps the Constitution. I strongly disagree with this; those actions are not primary sources, they are potential problems.

    How do you view these issues: Legal or illegal?

    1. The US attack on Iraq in 1998

    2. The US attack on Iraq in 2003

    3. The US attack on Libya in 2011

    My own understanding is “illegal, legal, and illegal,” using the precedent of the WPR and its antecedents in the SCOTUS decisions regarding the Vietnam War and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

    Kucinich attacked Bush in 2003 using those Vietnam decisions, but he could only distinguish his case from the decisions (which did not support him) by the fact that he had brought suit before the war technically started and funds had been appropriated. Nothing in the case law suggested that this mattered, but it was all he had. He lost, of course.

    I read his case then; it was uncompelling, but he was a Democrat and Bush was a Republican; such behavior is to be expected. Now he’s after a Democrat president, and his actions carry much more political threat to him. His case is, not surprisingly, on more solid ground this time.

    Most importantly, he’s arguing from the Constitution and from operating statutes, not from Congressional precedent — exactly as he should be, I think.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  15. GregP says:


    I thought I’d do some digging around to get a historical context (Federalist papers and Articles of Confederation). Still doing that…

    But after thinking more about your points (if I understand correctly), I do agree that the article I cited might have been more wishful thinking than legally or historically correct.

    It does beg the question though as to the intent of the words in Article 1… “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;”

    It strongly suggests to me that the “declare war” clause means to 1) legally recognize the war, 2) authorize the military to engage, and even 3) establish rules of engagement.

    Per Wikipedia on “Letters of Marque and Reprisal”… “A “letter of marque and reprisal” would involve permission to cross an international border to effect a reprisal (take some action against an attack or injury) authorized by an issuing jurisdiction to conduct reprisal operations outside its borders.”

    This clearly suggests as a reaction to being attacked; not initiating hostilities. The language might be archaic but the separation of powers is pretty clear.

    Per this abstract, the Capture Clause applies to both persons and material. If so, the secret prisons and Gitmo would be unconstitutional and should be under Congressional authority.

    Also, nowhere in Article 2 is the President given the authority to engage in war; only to execute once war is declared as Commander and Chief… The President is specifically granted the authority to make treaties however. Since the Constitution enumerates the powers of the Federal government and the power to make war is not Executive but is instead Legislative, I have to conclude that the President has *no* constitutional authority to *start* hostilities; only Congress does.

    The President would however have the power to defend against attack and then seek a declaration from Congress and “Letters of Marque and Reprisal” as it were… as was last done in WWII.

    Basically, my reading of the Constitution is that the President has the power to execute the war but only Congress has the power to enter war and for that matter decide on the purpose and goals of the war. If so, every Presidential military action since WWII has been an unconstitutional usurpation of Legislative powers.

  16. Level_Head says:


    The President would however have the power to defend against attack and then seek a declaration from Congress and “Letters of Marque and Reprisal” as it were… as was last done in WWII.

    That’s in the current WPR statutes. But if you are specifically talking about the Constitution, where does it indicate that the president has the power to defend against attack?

    These days, attacks can come in minutes — but that was not the case in the eighteenth century. Are you assuming that “Commander-in-Chief” encompasses this? And if so, where are the limits?

    How is firing a missile defending against attack different from firing a missile to start one, in strict Constitutional terms?

    It seems to me that there is no difference, and no authorization singled out for taking the country into a defensive war or defending from a modern attack — and that (among other things) was what led to the various War Powers statures, including the WPR of 1973. (Well, it was powered by anti-Vietnam sentiment, too, but justified on rational grounds.)

    I think that President Bush went to Congress to get authorization — twice (2001 and 2002) and got it, in accord with the WPR. That Congress used fairly poor language in those authorizations does not mean that they were not authorizations to proceed.

    The distinction here is between a Congress not wording their own resolution correctly, versus a president who did not even try to obtain one. The former hardly seems like a “usurpation” to me, though the latter clearly is.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  17. David says:

    The WPA was formulated on the principle of allowing a US military response to emminent danger, such as the nation being under attack or nuclear threat. The list of all of George Bush’s attempts to inform and gain congressional support is long. The list of Obama’s attempts are non existent. The man’s hypocrisy knows few bounds.

    Barack Obama –
    “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” December 20, 2007

    “Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. The world, and the Iraqi people would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.” March 27, 2007

    The WPA was practical. but did grant greater presdential authority. Under the WPA the president is suppose to go to congress. I am not aware of any such act by Obama. However, it is not enough for Congress just to review the right to declare war in the name of R2P. If the Congress should accept that Obama possesses the presidential right to initiate a war in circumstances not threatening for moral reasons, then Congress has implicitly granted another non-constituional right to the presidency, and thereby weakened the Constitution. Thomas Woods in his “Who killed the Constitution?” places the blame for the “murder” on all three branches.

  18. GregP says:

    Regarding self defense, the Constitution has a number provisions that allow citizens to protect themselves. That extends to military personnel. So if a missile is fired, the military has a legal right to defend itself against that attack.

    The question is, what comes next? What is the limit of a defensive response? At what point does sinking a ship in self defense become a war of aggression (invasion, occupation, etc)? I believe that was one intent of the Declare War Clause… for protracted and offensive actions to receive Congressional approval.

    According to Wikipedia, “The War Powers Resolution of 1973 (50 U.S.C. 1541-1548)[1] is a U.S. federal law intended to restrict the power of the President to commit the United States to an armed conflict without the consent of Congress….”

    My reading of the Constitution is that Congress *already* had this authority via Declare War Clause and WPR actually weakens it.

    “[The law] provides that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by authorization of Congress _or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces._”

    On that basis, the WPR is unconstitutional irrespective of Congressional intent. Just because Congress enacts a resolution that waters down their authority doesn’t entitle Congress to nullify the Constitution.

    Congress has unlawfully abrogated it’s authority. Even though the Congress was a willing participant, it is de facto usurpation of their powers granted by the Constitution. They can’t just wish away their authority; they have to amend the Constitution.

    It’s pretty clear that the Constitution requires Congress to make a declaration of war in order for military action to commence aside from immediate self defense.

    Name one war since WWII in which it was an act of self defense? In which an aggressor nation attacked American forces or citizens unprovoked… I don’t see how a WPR authorization is in anyway a suitable substitute for Congress’ Constitutional duty to make a formal declaration of war in order to commit US forces. What purpose does it serve other than the give the President an open door to start wars? Something the Founders clearly didn’t want the President to have.

  19. David says:


    You make an arguement that can be made. However, as level Head has commented, the WPR is law, until it is not. That is, in order for it not to be the law, it must be declared so by more then blog opinion. Currently, it is the law.

    I personally do not wish to go into the Iraq issue, except to say that it is my view that the perception of Sadam and Iraq being an imminent threat was sincere, and to some degree correct. I do not wish to go into it because it would take several hundred words to outline the basic assertions and evidence. The point however is that the case was made and congressional authority was obtained. What Obama is doing is far beyond that.

  20. David says:

    By the way, we, as in the world, are now facing with Iran, what Bush faced with Iraq. I am on ocassion very relieved not to have such responsability. So far, Obama has done in this regard, as little as myself, effectively nothing.

  21. David says:

    “Regarding self defense, the Constitution has a number provisions that allow citizens to protect themselves. That extends to military personnel. So if a missile is fired, the military has a legal right to defend itself against that attack.

    The question is, what comes next?”

    In the case of Israel, annihilation, if the missiles are nuclear. In the case of the US, just the annihilation of a city or three, hence the WPR.

  22. GregP says:

    Agreed. WPR is law until it’s not.

    Only the Supreme Court can make the determination and I’m not aware of a mechanism that would give them the chance to rule. It would seem that Congress could easily abrogate all their powers to the President (or have they?)… making him Caesar Obama!

    I give it til State of the Union 2013 when the President declares emergency powers. I feel like I’m living a future HBO miniseries…

  23. GregP says:


    “In the case of the US, just the annihilation of a city or three, hence the WPR.”

    If a country launches a nuclear strike, the President as a matter of self defense still has the authority under the Constitution to launch a counter strike.

    But under the WPR, as far as I can tell the President has the authority to launch a preemptive nuclear attack against another country without a declaration of war so long as he tells Congress about it within 48 hours…

    Under the Constitution, the President has no such authority.

  24. David says:

    Greg, “It would seem that Congress could easily abrogate all their powers to the President (or have they?)… making him Caesar Obama!’

    I agree, Obama is behaving very much like Agustus, the “imperial presidency” Obama has often enough made adulatory allusions to Abraham Linclon, perhaps his genuflection has more to do with Lincoln’s own imperialistic tendencies. Only with this “first citizen” we are looking at “imperial globalism”.

    Earlier Level Head, (I wish I knew his real name) as I learn a great deal from him, made this statement I take some differences with, “Is President Obama a puppet? I think so, to a fair extent, though I’d wager that he denies this even to himself. Is he a fool? Sadly, I think that this is true as well. Is he a socialist? Well, to the extent that he can pretend to be anything for the purposes of the moment, including puppet, I think that he is not reliably any ideology — which has to be disturbing (and evidently is) to those people who are attempting to direct him.”

    My viedw is somewhat different. Is Obama a fool? Alas yes , but not, IMV, in the sense of stupid. His foolishness is his Ivory Tower liberal ideology, which in circumstance after circumstance, fails to account for basic human nature, this is, IMV, the main failure of the “progressive” mind. But I think it dangerous to call him a fool, in that the man has a plan and is following it, step by step, giving in, only where necessary. I perceive him always trying to weigh two factors, an aggressive implementation of his ideology, vs. the chances of a second term. I predict that if he gets a second term, his ideology will manifest in a far more aggressive form. In the same sense I see him as, not a puppet of like minded liberals, but as a willing tool, yet deceptively duplicitous to some “progressives” in his presentation of himself. I think he has none, as in zero fear of violence, and is capable of great indifference to human suffering, but will use the isolationist pacifist liberal as far as possible, a bridge that by now must be burned. I think he has little concern for the environment, but will leverage CAGW for all the centrist power he can consume, domestic and international. He certainly does not see himself as a fool…“Obama, 2008 New Yorker, by Ryan Lizza
    “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” After Obama’s first debate with McCain, on September 26th, [campaign political director Patrick] Gaspard sent him an e-mail. “You are more clutch than Michael Jordan,” he wrote. Obama replied, “Just give me the ball.”

    Is he a socialist? Absolutely, but of the progressive / fascist kind as well outlined by our host in some posts showing the harmony between socialism and fascism. He see corporations as a tool to his stateist goals, and as long as they cooperate with those goals, he will reward them. He would, if able, decapitate them in a second however were that cooperation betrayed.

    It takes a long chain of evidence to support such assertions, and I am to lazy for now to write down my rationale. For now one may perhaps consider my position weak and I would understand, at least until such time as I articulate the supportive evidence.

  25. PhilJourdan says:

    A broken clock is right twice a day. So I cannot get excited about Kucinich as he is left of loony even in rational times.

    He got it right – but then that is his one trick pony in any event. The difference between Kucinich and Bernie Sanders is that Bernie is more honest.

  26. gnomish says:

    lol – argue legalisms as much as you please but you won’t really be winning anything until you address an issue on moral grounds: is it right or wrong?
    legality barely correlates with morality- and that’s the moral disaster of the hippie generation – they don’t know right from wrong.
    legalism is moral relativism with a gun.
    laws come out of a gun.
    how about something that comes out of reason?
    how about that scribble that established a central power that was done on the sly to create a new world royalty, eh? that’s what the constitution is – and it totally made you forget the declaration of independence – which was its purpose.
    right or wrong – until you address things on that basis, it’s all just negotiating a rape – and it ain’t rape if yu bargain. enjoy the distantly irish o’bama’s extra inch… lol. what a show, eh?

  27. Level_Head says:


    Thank you for the kind words. You know how to reach me, and we can talk further if you like. I enjoy your writings as well, and I am always learning.

    When I described President Obama as a “fool,” it was in the same sense that you used the term. Not “stupid” — rather, “insufficiently wise.” Especially for the role he now plays in shaping events on a global scale.

    And the rest of your analysis looks good to me; the only point of disagreement I found was your suggestion that there was a point of disagreement. ];-)


    I agree that the moral and reasonable aspects of these actions are quite different from the legal ones. Plenty of folks have been willing to stand up and say that Barack Obama is morally and/or philosophically wrong in his efforts; we’ve said that in many ways here, and Chiefio’s past threads have had discussions to this effect.

    But it’s a tougher thing to fix. Roughly half of the country seems to think that he’s doing okay, that his actions are “close enough.” He has core supporters (including establishment media) who argue that his actions are moral, just, and appropriate, and that opposition to him is morally wrong.

    But the legal issues, where he has arguably run afoul of them (as here), hold out a hope of being less subjective. The other issues should not be subject to change based on the worldview of the person involved, but they clearly are. The legalities — maybe — might be different.

    Even this hope is perhaps overly optimistic. I have some very personal experience in this arena, where judges decide based on desired outcomes, then stretch legalities to fit. But they look bad doing so — and the more that this takes place, the more people see the process as morally wrong, and vote them out.

    So we get there anyway, in a sense. I’m with you; it should be a core issue, not a strategy — and the conservative movement is successful because of a conscious return to issues of principle, not a pursuit of adherence to statute. But even there, the Constitution is a vital guide, and that document encompasses both legality and morality of governance in its scope.

    No wonder considering it important — they call us “Constitution junkies” — is so threatening to the left.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  28. Level_Head says:


    If a country launches a nuclear strike, the President as a matter of self defense still has the authority under the Constitution to launch a counter strike.

    I agree that it should be — it’s a reasonable and obvious sort of thing, as well as being crucially necessary in modern scenarios.

    But where do you see the support for this in the Constitution?

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  29. GregP says:

    My understanding follows from the expectation that the Commander-in-Chief has the authority to repel attacks against the US without authorization from Congress.

    Currently, the only response to a nuclear attack is with a responding strike that is intended to utterly destroy the attacker… MAD.

  30. David says:


    ‘If a country launches a nuclear strike, the President as a matter of self defense still has the authority under the Constitution to launch a counter strike.’

    I agree that it should be — it’s a reasonable and obvious sort of thing, as well as being crucially necessary in modern scenarios.

    But where do you see the support for this in the Constitution?

    ===|==============/ Level Head

    A folllow up question, and perhaps more important and cogent to say Iran. Where is there support to respond before the nukes are fired, under an imminent threat senario, assuming that threat involves WMD?

  31. gnomish says:

    Yah, we agree on lots.
    I’m especially interested in renaissances and how they arise and how they die, besides being a lover of metaphysical accuracy and epistemological precision.
    That’s why I hasten to point at the what is, imo, the distinguishing principle of failure- and equally, what is a proper principle that succeeds.
    Whenever there exists a principle that people recognize as important (valuable for general survival, even) it tends to become quickly certified – some ‘authority’ arises that will exist by mimicry, a natural strategy for survival. Once there exists a token that’s acceptable in lieu of personal validation, that token, being acceptable as if it were of equal value to that allegedly being certified, is counterfeited. If the counterfeit is someday recognized and devalued, a replacement token is issued – but never that which the token nominally represented.
    In this way the principle is first tokenized, then debased and finally it becomes scarce.
    I’m not talking a out just currency. The wizard of Oz. used the scarfecrow to illustrate the concept re education: “well I can’t give you a brain- but I can give you a DIPLOMA!!!!11!”

    Thus it was that the declaration of independence, which stated the very principles by observance of which individuals prosper in the company of others or not, was reduced to ‘the constitution’ which explicitly contradicts those principles.
    People now accept that rag as holy screed, having lost track of the principles it was designed to subvert.

    Maybe EM remembers this rag:

    just sayin- there’s more sense to be found on a garbage bag than in the constitution.
    In fact, those bags were the last best exposition of the treatment for slow death by cannibalism.

    They were also topical re the dairy association, for dan lundgren took them to the california supreme court – they sold milk too cheap!
    They won, btw.

  32. David says:

    on 23 May 2011 at 7:25 pm Level_Head

    “When I described President Obama as a “fool,” it was in the same sense that you used the term. Not “stupid” — rather, “insufficiently wise.” Especially for the role he now plays in shaping events on a global scale.

    And the rest of your analysis looks good to me; the only point of disagreement I found was your suggestion that there was a point of disagreement. ];-)”

    Ok, very fair, I was once in a similar postion explaing the “stupid” word I used in relationship to Sammantha Power’s proposed R2P middle east solution.

    Perhaps the only disagreement I saw was this portion of one sentance ” I think that he is not reliably any ideology…”

    I was attempting to contrast that his brand of “progressive” was complex and calculating, mixed with angst at America, disrespecrt for white protestant America, layered in anti semitic sentiments, a profoundly pro Islamic world view, and a fondness for “useful idiots, with a certain disdain for a democratic process that protects individual freedom. (I think he knows exactly where he wants to go, and the economic health of America is not relevant to his agenda) Yes, it would realisticly take at least two thousand words to properly support these assertions with a general outline.

  33. wolfwalker says:

    Chiefio: It is exceptionally pleasing to see a Democrat standing up for the constitution

    It would be, if he was. He isn’t. He’s making a grandstand play for political gain. Kucinich has no more respect for the Constitution than any other politician does — which is to say, none.

    There is nothing to stop the current White House resident from continuing the Libyan conflict. Congress will never vote to defund it, and certainly never vote to impeach the WHR. Since Oval Office occupant #42 committed perjury, then sat back and smirked while his consiglieres on the Hill protected him, impeachment has been an empty threat.

  34. Level_Head says:


    My understanding follows from the expectation that the Commander-in-Chief has the authority to repel attacks against the US without authorization from Congress.

    Well, that’s exactly the issue I was pursuing. Your expectation is reasonable, it seems to me.

    But where, in the Constitution, is this authority called out?

    The danger with reasonable expectations is that these are quite subjective. Others have unreasonable expectations — and they think they’re reasonable.

    The “commerce clause” is one that came up here recently, where legislators (and then Supreme Court justices) had “expectations” of the Constitution. And those, at least, were based on actual wording.

    Chiefio talked about the commerce clause very recently, and I wrote about it years ago, including here. That action was ruled to be constitutional. It was (and is) also ridiculous. It shouldn’t have gotten past SCOTUS, but did — and there was a reason why.

    Back to war: Where is the constitutional support for immediate defense by the commander-in-chief before seeking approval from Congress?

    Forget how intuitive the need is, or how obvious the response should be. Where, specifically, is it called out?

    A ship might return fire if fired upon, depending upon the current Rules of Engagement that represent the commander’s authority. His or her return fire, hopefully, would not rise to the level of an act of war. A military attack ordered of a nation by its chief executive is, by any “reasonable” definition of an act of war. But the Constitution, in this case, was not quite clear.

    And that brings us to legislation that is “necessary and proper” to put any such plan into action — which brings us to the currently-in-force War Powers Resolution of 1973, and places it as the currently highest authority on the topic.

    And that puts President Obama in trouble, it seems to me and many legal observers, on both the left and right. And the far, far left, including Dennis Kucinich.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  35. Jason Calley says:

    @ Level_head

    “The danger with reasonable expectations is that these are quite subjective. Others have unreasonable expectations — and they think they’re reasonable.”

    You make a good point.

    The truth is, there is no way to write something with as many details and instructions as the US Constitution without including some level of ambiguity in it. Call it the Godel principle of human language; any formulation complicated enough to be useful will be ambiguous and any formulation simple enough to be unambiguous will be incomplete. Interpretation will always be, to some degree, open to interpretation. The question becomes, how to separate reasonable expectations from unreasonable? This would be a difficult task even in the best of circumstances, but the Constitution itself includes an attempt at doing so, through its designation of the Supreme Court as an arbiter of disagreements between individual States and the Federal government. (By the way, quick sidebar: ONLY the Supreme Court itself, not any of the lower courts, is authorized to rule on conflicts between the States and the Feds. All those rulings that say, “US District Court So-and-so ruled that the state of California is violating such and such provision…”? Those rulings are illegal.) How do we deal with a situation such as we see at present where unreasonable interpretations are enforced because such unreasonable interpretations are the source of great wealth and power?

    No document — no Bible, no contract, no Constitution — can enforce itself. All enforcement and interpretation is the result of human action, and all human action is the result of individual human purpose and motivation. We can argue about legalisms of interpretation, but when the arbiters of interpretation are themselves grossly, blatantly, unreasonable, then the only two options open to us are either acquiescence or resistance. I do not wish either one, but have, so far, been unable to find a third option.

  36. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    “Thou shalt not commit adultery”

    Seems pretty clear to me. Fairly useful, unambiguous, and complete.

    You can make the case that in old Hebrew “adultery” meant a man with a married or betrothed woman (i.e. sex out of marriage with a single woman was not adultry… it was a different sin and it was hers…); but that just points out how the same commandment still “works” even as we have decided that it’s the same for men and for women…

    I think your “Godel Principle” needs a bit of work… (I see the utility in it as a general tool, but think it not a full blown law or fundamental truth…)

    You also left “run away” off your list of “options”… As our country was founded by folks “running away” instead of acquiescing or resisting; I think that matters…

    I’d also point out that while it is a sort of “resistance”, the “passive aggressive” is not quite a full blown resistance…

    Like the guy who fills out the required form 100 times, always just a bit broken, and The Govt Machine has to process it every time as That’s The Law; so he causes it to spin its wheels… Like the prisoner doing forced labor who does it, just not quite well enough for the V2 rocket to actually work when “launched”… “compliant in a broken way”…

    People can be very devious in finding ways to deal with governments run amok… I think we’ll see a resurgence in such things as we slide down that Razor Blade Of Live into a Socialist Workers Paradise…

    One of my favorite examples was a kid in Nevada who researched the law and found that auto registration ORIGINALLY was only for commercial vehicles. Nobody had actually changed the law… So he created a folder of court cases upholding the law and the law itself. Last I heard he was still driving around “without tags”. Folder in hand. He’d get a ticket. Go to court. Present his folder. Be told “You are innocent” (but please don’t do it again). And go back on the road… Hey, everybody needs a hobby ;-)

    Now if 2 people did it, in harmony, … imagine 50 people a day … it’s a movement…

    And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

    I’ve baffled more than one drone with, when told something was Not Allowed, the polite response: “Oh, I’m sorry. Thank you!” then proceeding to continue doing what I wanted… (“Sir, you can’t be in the store with bare feet!” “Oh, I’m sorry. Thank you. Here, just ring this up and I’ll be on my way.” ;-)


    I think you supported it in about 30 seconds ;-)


    Well, I don’t really care WHY or HOW he found himself on the correct side of things. It’s just nice to see someone saying “the constitution says”…


    As I understand it, the War Powers Act, as an act of congress, lets them deligate a “war power” as pre-approved in a very narrow set of circumstances. It was a needed response to the faster pace of things today. (I.e. when the entire thermonuclear war can be over in 20 minutes and the worst of it done with a 6 minute flight time from sub launched missiles, it’s not possible to get all of congress to answer the phone and vote in under 5… especially when they are doing “duck and cover”…)

    Unfortunately, the present crop of petty clerks we call our Political Leaders have no clue how to be statemen or men of honor; they only know how to do what all petty clerks do: Lust after any scrap of power they can exercise, legitimate or not.


    Not familiar with the link.

    Per the constitution: It is actually very well thought out and very well written. It is the current crop of readers that have brokenness…

    @GregP, Level_Head, David, H.R., on the top discussion:

    I’d love to address each point in turn, but it would take a long time for little value add. Nice job of threshing out the issues!


    Well said…

  37. Level_Head says:

    Jason Calley wrote:

    The truth is, there is no way to write something with as many details and instructions as the US Constitution without including some level of ambiguity in it.

    No argument there!

    My point was that, since the Constitution in this case was insufficiently clear (not a situation I’m happy with), we need to see how it has been clarified with statute. That statute should be — or should have been, really — informed by writings from the founders on what they intended.

    So we have WPA (1973) as the current operating authority, and various Authorizations to Use Military Force (including AUMF 2001 and 2002 for Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively) pursuant to it.

    Another one of these AUMFs — it is Section 1034 of the current defense appropriations bill — is in the works right now — and President Obama has threatened to veto it if it comes through in its current form.

    I’ve read appellate court opinions as a “hobby” for years, and have prepared treatises for attorney friends that have won court motions; I’m in complete agreement about the ambiguity of language. (I didn’t always win; the courts are strongly influenced by politics, and that cost me a fortune.)

    But knowing in advance that language is ambiguous, a skilled team whose intent is to be clear can do a pretty good job. I think this was true of the Framers; while not perfect, they did a good job of capturing the essence and providing good guidelines.

    Where we often fail is when we look back only at our most recent generation of misunderstanding of it, and add another layer for next time. “Back to the source!” should be the guiding principle of interpretation and understanding — and that applies even beyond the Constitution.

    It wouldn’t hurt our understanding of temperature records, either.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  38. PhilJourdan says:


    My point was that, since the Constitution in this case was insufficiently clear

    That is because the Constitution is not a law (or set of laws) but a set of binding rules on the states. It was never meant to define what YOU can do, only what the government cannot do. As such, using it as a reference for laws passed is good. using it to define laws is not.

    As written, the Constitution is a great document that has never been equaled (have you seen the size of the Iraqi constitution?). But since the written word is not inviolate (intent was used as a mitigating factor long ago by the courts and intent will never be found in the constitution), the government has circumvented the rules for some time (perhaps the most egrarious was Lincoln, but he was not the first – Adams was).

  39. Level_Head says:

    E. M. Smith wrote:

    Like the prisoner doing forced labor who does it, just not quite well enough for the V2 rocket to actually work when “launched”… “compliant in a broken way”…

    A friend of mine was part of the team of Americans working on the V2s that were brought over to the US. One early test launch from New Mexico literally “went south”—across the border into Mexico.

    A technician had hooked up the wires to the (crude) guidance system backward, so that it went in the opposite direction from the programmed compass heading. The range safety officer was originally thought to have been asleep or something — but it was later revealed that he’d been grabbed by a scientist (who’d worked hard on this experiment) when he tried to hit the destruct button.

    The modified V2 (with a ramjet on the front, called a Hermes II) came down near Ciudad Juarez. Happily, no one was killed, though it made an impressive crater.

    And entrepreneurial Mexicans sold pieces of the missile as souvenirs. My friend once calculated that they’d sold enough souvenir V2 “authentic missile scraps” to make about ten of them.

    The technician was not intentionally trying to screw this up — though the effect was the same.

    But indeed, the original prisoners were several kinds of unfortunate. Most did not know enough to do meaningful sabotage, and most of the rest were too cowed to try it. But the design was problematic enough, including that very toxic fuel.

    The V2 is, I think, unique as a weapon — it killed several times more of the people building it than those of the “enemy” at the other end.

    Oho! — someone wrote about the Hermes II incident! And apparently just put it up this month.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  40. Level_Head says:

    @Phil Jourdan:

    I’m with you — I have great reverence for the Constitution. And I objected upstream when someone called it “the law.”

    So we look to the current statutes — but those should look at the source, and find out what the Framers intended in the rare instance where it is not clear — and make sure they are guided by this.

    One of the best things about the Constitution is that it is a limit on government; this “negative liberties” aspect was what engendered candidate Obama’s bitter complaints.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  41. gnomish says:

    the imageshack link is for posting photos.
    the photos are taken for the occasion – they are of one of the grocery bags from @ 1990 that were used by Cheaper Food and Liquor. I just laid one on my table saw to photograph.
    I have several of those and a couple of the other ones, too.
    Cheaper is all over california. It was a california thang.
    it was not written to establish a federal bureaucracy – as the constitution was.
    I do understand the purpose of the myth that the constitution was created to limit government – but it was created to establish a bigger one than had existed – it was created to subvert the articles of confederation. It was done for the personal agenda of the hamiltonians who wished to be as influential as arianna huffington but on the public dime. It was done to get those public dimes so as to secure a lifestyle for those leeter than though who still sit in the same thrones enjoying the sacrifice of your liberty and productivity.
    I regard efforts to praise it as overlooking the origin, purpose and result of it – sort of like praising john wayne gacey for his ability to make children laugh at his clowning.

    worthy of a demotivational poster, actually – i made one but it’s on the other computer and i’m pretty sure nobody here will be interested. it’s probably parade raining enuff to have someone dispute the consensus without adding satire to the mix – it would surely be regarded as disrespectful. I hope simply claiming a different perspective is not. Investigation into the story of the constitutional convention and what came before substantiates my perspective. likewise do the results – and don’t say that less than the worst is somehow ‘the best’ – there is no bad = good in a self consistent metaphysics.

  42. E.M.Smith says:


    Have you any links / references for evidence that Hamiltonians were so motivated or that the goal was “lifestyle” as opposed to just “hang together or we shall surely hang separately.”?

    It’s fine to have an opinion and all, and even fine to evaluate your view of history that way; but I rather would prefer some evidence of a more objective sort, if it is available…

    (My view is mostly what I learned in school and via some personal reading. It was a world full of empires and the only way to prevent them picking off bits was to form a large enough body to keep them at bay.)

  43. gnomish says:

    well, it’s all hearsay to me; and history is told by someone on a soap box with an agenda- starting with that and recognizing that it’s all academic with almost zero practical significance, here we go!

    first stop, of course, must be the articles of confederation- after all, these are what the constitution will replace.
    the articles have already established a federal government and simple rules of congress – it is all about defense and not making political promises that get you into bloody trouble. property (land) taxes foot the bill.

    for some reason, though, this isn’t good enuff for some.
    could there be some underlying motives?

    “Congress and the American states had no end of difficulty financing the war.[10] In 1775 there was at most 12 million dollars in gold in the colonies, not nearly enough to cover current transactions, let alone on a major war. … One partial solution was to rely on volunteer support from militiamen, and donations from patriotic citizens. Another was to delay actual payments, pay soldiers and suppliers in depreciated currency,”

    truth exists only in context. this is the economic context of the times. inflation was the rule then as it is now. first and foremost concern of all those whose employment depended on a monopoly on counterfeiting (and their jolly offspring who aspired to be as well) has always been worries about how to force the paper on the unwilling. one partial solution is to get everyone using it- then they are committed…lol
    i find the argument that a new constitution was done out of nobility very … patriotic indoctrination done to children in state systems – and “not worth a Continental”.

    “congress made two issues of paper money, in 1775-1780, and in 1780-81. The first issue amounted to 242 million dollars. This paper money would supposedly be redeemed for state taxes, but the holders were eventually paid off in 1791 at the rate of one cent on the dollar. By 1780, the paper money was “not worth a Continental”, as people said, and a second issue of new currency was attempted. The second issue quickly became nearly worthless—but it was redeemed by the new federal government in 1791 at 100 cents on the dollar. At the same time the states, especially Virginia and the Carolinas, issued over 200 million dollars of their own currency. In effect, the paper money was a hidden tax on the people, and indeed was the only method of taxation that was possible at the time. The skyrocketing inflation was a hardship on the few people who had fixed incomes—but 90 percent of the people were farmers, and were not directly affected by that inflation. Debtors benefited by paying off their debts with depreciated paper.[13] The greatest burden was borne by the soldiers of the Continental Army, whose wages—usually in arrears—declined in value every month, weakening their morale and adding to the hardships suffered by their families.”

    and then it got worse for a long time.

    but we can just compare the constitution to the articles of confederation and see for ourselves what the differences are. um… does the state get less power? are individuals protected from threats to their liberty? is it cheaper? heh.
    it’s better prose, i admit. those flowery talkers got mad skilz cuz they live be getting in ppl’s pants – it’s their life.
    not an original thought in it, tho. that’s not a bad thing – what’s good is good however oft repeated – but there are far more splendid studies and documents from which that stuff was derived. the writings of Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, and Montesquieu figured explicitly in comments among those fellows back in the day.

    well, why did gw want a new constitution? did you spot a loaded question? but apparently he did- and guess why- cuz he had hitched his wagon to a scandal and wanted to get it cleaned up – he actually felt some personal responsibility for broken promises, i.e., the rip off by counterfeit moneh:

    “When Congress paid the troops in worthless currency they promised to redeem after the war, it became clear that either their lack of moral fiber or their system of governance led the states and the congress in the direction of dishonoring their debt to the soldiers. This was a dreadful system, which led to death and suffering among the loyal troops, forcing the General into the humiliating position of promising the troops Congress would stand by them, when he privately doubted any chance of it. ”

    ” The national government was broke and broken. Its “requisitions” were paid by some states that deeply resented those that didn’t. “The Confederation, resting only on good faith, had no power to collect taxes, defend the country, pay the public debt, let alone encourage trade and commerce.”,%20Miracle%20at%20Philadelphia%20(I).htm

    where did we hear: The secrecy rule “will effectively secure the requisite freedom of discussion.”?

    the convention was ‘secret’. there’s the source of the quote.

    here’s some of the supposed correspondence among the principals at the time. a bit of semantic analysis will extract a whole lot of subtext – you know how it is- the fact that something IS a topic begs certain questions – sometimes those are of no less importance than what’s expressed on the surface. the only twisted virtue to it seems to be a deliberate effort to make it somewhat self crippling – intent being to keep it from directly running amok…lol
    they regard this as a win… heh…

    *pause for a breakie*

  44. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M.
    You say: “’Thou shalt not commit adultery’ Seems pretty clear to me. Fairly useful, unambiguous, and complete.”
    Well, of course it seems clear to you – and to me! After all, we are intelligent and reasonable men! :)
    Seriously though, as we have seen a former President claim, oral sex is not sex, so that is not adultery, right? What about anal sex? What about sex with other men? Or animals? Or women with whom I enter into temporary polygamous marriage and then divorce after having sex? (Don’t laugh! Prostitution is done that way in some Islamic countries!) Or sex with a condom and a hole in the sheet? After all, our skin never actually touched! I hardly even saw the woman! What about rape? Have the victims committed adultery? If I have lust in my heart, is that REALLY adultery? And so on and so on… But again, you and I would probably never have an argument over the command to not commit adultery. We share a similar cultural outlook, are both honorable, but even more importantly, you and I would wish for a fair and honest reading and would work toward reaching the truest interpretation we could. That quality of being an honest broker of the truth is exactly what sets you and me apart from the lawyers, lobbyists, politicians and judges who run our government. For them, any ambiguity – even those which you and I see as unreasonable – are enough of a crack to drive a wedge into, a wedge which will eventually split off a piece of power and money which they will appropriate for themselves.

    Was the system always this bad? Were the parasites always so blatant? I don’t think so… I know that some people claim that the Constitution was set up as a scam from the first, that our national government was always a game made to fleece the suckers. I don’t think so. I think that things really are worse now than at times in the past. I think that the Constitution was an extraordinary attempt to create a government that would maximize human liberty. It was never perfect, it was never holy. It was made as a workable compromise among men who mostly (but not exclusively) had national interests higher than personal interests. Of course, Gnomish may change my mind. Maybe. Of all the reasons why things have gone downhill, I think that perhaps the biggest is that our culture has changed and where once we shunned people (or worse!) for dereliction of civic duties, now we applaud anyone who manages to accumulate power, money or fame, even at the cost of our national interest or our freedoms. How much have things changed? About 100 years ago, a certain man, Nicola Tesla, through accident or failure of the mails, was involved in something of a public scandal. His crime? He did not show up for jury duty. That was considered serious business, and a serious breach of public trust, enough to generate personal scorn and newspaper articles. The non-governmental, non-legislative brakes that helped prevent liars and con men from achieving power are gone, and we can see the result.
    “I think your “Godel Principle” needs a bit of work… (I see the utility in it as a general tool, but think it not a full blown law or fundamental truth…)”
    I agree, and did not mean to make it sound like a fundamental truth. I think a good rule of thumb is plenty close enough.
    “You also left “run away” off your list of “options”… As our country was founded by folks “running away” instead of acquiescing or resisting; I think that matters…”
    Good point. I think if I were single, “run away” would be a good option. In my real world, family matters make me pass that option without even thinking too strongly about it. You are right though that it matters.
    “I’d also point out that while it is a sort of “resistance”, the “passive aggressive” is not quite a full blown resistance…”
    Passive aggressive seems to me like saying “acquiescence while being watched, resistance while not watched.” Maybe a good tactic. Maybe not needed. As the system becomes more and more disconnected from reality, I suspect that it will – like any engine which is so out of balance – finally shake itself apart.
    “Now if 2 people did it, in harmony, … imagine 50 people a day … it’s a movement…”
    Ha! I admit, you got a grin out of me! “Alice. Remember Alice? There’s a song about Alice…”

  45. Jason Calley says:

    @ Level-head

    Although it was a couple of decades ago, IIRC, G. Gordon Liddy tells a story about that V2 crash in 1947.

    Supposedly the nearby US Army base had been complaining to the mayor of Ciudad Juarez that some of its brothels were less than sanitary and needed to be more closely policed. The mayor did nothing. As luck would have it, the V2 crashed near Juarez shortly afterward. Almost immediately, the mayor was at the Army base, requesting a meeting with the Base Commander to assure him that everything possible would be done to take care of the errant brothels, just don’t shoot any more rockets!

  46. gnomish says:

    so, the constitution… let’s see…
    while bearing in mind that the bill of rights was an afterthought tacked on as amendments… that negated clauses of that constitution…
    article 1, sections 1 thru 5 are the job requirements for those who would partake.
    section 6 is about paychecks.
    the rest of the sections are all about getting teh moneh.
    article 2 is about the powah
    and so it goes

    argh… this is your place, chiefio – not the place for me to do a withering display of obscure scholarship… i know how to publish my own diary whenever i feel the need…lol

    all the talking points are there when you visit that territory. it’s been turned into useful fables. icons are an easy shorthand that are modified and even inverted to suit – you know how the king canute story has ended up backwards – the galileo story has been twisted a bit out of recognition, etc.

    i have to frankly admit that my interest in these goings on are in the fairly distant past. i’ll even go so far as to say i’ve had moments of ‘debater’s regret’ for the hundreds of hours lost on this and other topics religious or political.

    the only practical value i can actually see in it is that it is a conspicious demonstration of leisure time. sort of like hanging out at the country club.

    dunno if i wanna put up a post on hamilton the federalist, now… i’m a bit demotivated after thinking what all good this post did for anybody…lol

    that’s what was on my mind back in 1981. mostly got it out of my system at that time. but i got stuck in the quagmire of cynicism and satire.

    you could do a bunch of great posts on your explorations thru details about the founding fathers, tho, chiefio, if it’s your thing. you’d probably trip on the way jefferson supposedly came up with the great seal. oh, yah- back in the day a book came out called ‘proofs of a conspiracy’ note the dates he’s treating. that plays into the tale… nothing is new.
    did you ever wonder why the pentagon is a pentacle?
    ask abbie hoffman…lol.

  47. Jeff Alberts says:

    A friend of mine was part of the team of Americans working on the V2s that were brought over to the US. One early test launch from New Mexico literally “went south”—across the border into Mexico.

    Actually that should be A4, not V2, unless we were launching them at England.

  48. Jason Calley says:

    @ Jeff “Actually that should be A4, not V2, unless we were launching them at England.”

    Ha! Yes, true enough! On the other hand, I wonder what the German scientists, designers and engineers called it when they launched from New mexico? :)

  49. Jason Calley says:

    @ gnomish “while bearing in mind that the bill of rights was an afterthought tacked on as amendments… that negated clauses of that constitution…”

    I would say it was more than an afterthought. It was a requirement by several of the states. One could argue that the need for it strengthens your argument that the Constitution was a scam– or equally argue that it proves the intentions of the founders were honorable. Either way, the fact remains that while the Constitution was being debated through the Federalist and Anti-federalist papers, many people at the time suspected that all the talk of limited government was hogwash, so they demanded that the promises and interpretations being disseminated by Hamilton, Madison and Adams be codified in a Bill of Rights. Several states conditioned their acceptance of the Constitution on the quick passage of the Bill of Rights. No Bill, no Constitution.

    The main reason why I often tell my friends that the US is no longer a Constitutional Republic is that the Bill of Rights in no longer enforced. No Bill, no Constitution. For most freedom loving Americans, that is a bigger pill than they are willing to swallow; but it is true nonetheless.

    I agree with you though, that further discussion on the topic will not make any immediate difference. Most people who have an emotional stake in a proposition literally can not change their minds unless their emotions change first. The smaller percentage of people who try hard to be impartial can in fact, change their minds but it usually takes at least a couple of years to give up an idea with emotional appeal — even with them being as honest on the subject as they can. It is a rare bird that can actually evaluate information objectively and shift positions strictly according to the evidence. And of course the evidence is always itself a matter of dispute!

    Anyway, the point that I am rambling on about is that while you may think your arguments have no effect, consider them to be like some of E.M.s seeds, the ones that sit in the ground for a year or two before sprouting. I am grateful that you took the time and made the effort to present your side. Maybe I am wrong, maybe I will change my ideas to something closer to the truth. Likewise, YOU may be wrong in your view of the Constitution and in another year or two… who knows?

    Just as a minor personal question, are you familiar with the web site for anarchists, “Strike The Root”?

  50. gnomish says:

    hi j.c.
    i found strike the root site just now cuz you mentioned it. great place to go and get myself all angry and twisted and ready to ask murder somebody…lol
    good thing i can substitute cigarettes for that bad habit… or would it be so bad? lol
    that makes me go to live leak to watch some predator vids –

    not too many years ago, all of the internet was openly owned by piratey anarchists – it was really wholesome and congenial. felt like home. i could tell stories! it was a meritocracy.
    ever live in a strict meritocracy? it was awesome.

    damn andy breitbart for arianna’s blog and her for throwing cash for pundits. that was the vanguard of the rotten influence that changed the net. the riaa – we could kick their ass any time, and did. the bloggers – unskilled in html, paying for hosting – panhandling and spaminating the net with trackbacks to scratch that aging vanity… they were too many and no glory in battle. the old fux came with cash, people bent toward the $. that changed everything just as big bux changed the brotherhood of ganja to gangsta.

    the real good folks are gone underground, now… and the good old days ain’t coming back.

  51. E.M.Smith says:


    All it needs for “the good old days” is some linux boxes, some modems, and UUCP ;-)

    Netnews and email come standard …

    FWIW, it wasn’t THAT long ago… About 20 years back, max, there was a major tech company getting ALL of their internet traffic through a 9600 baud modem via UUCP / mailx or smail, I forget which…, and we “upgraded” to a leased line fractional T1 all of about 1/4 mile to a fellow tech company that had a T1, on which we “piggy backed” for part of the bandwidth costs… That was to support about 5000 staff …

    So those “good old days” are just a couple of phone calls away…

    “Intranets” and “extranets” are your friends…

  52. gnomish says:

    i can tell one story –
    this is about the origin of the captcha.

    a couple of russian kids had produced an app called multiwebspace-faker. they had a website and they sold the app for about 10$. the app had lists of all the free web hosts in the world, practically- i no longer remember the names to enrich the narrative, tho.. the app would first log into a site from a list of free email providers and fill out the form to get an account. then it would log in to a free host, fill out the sign-up form. then it would go back to the email and retrieve the confirmation email from the free host and log in to confirm the account.
    so that with a few clicks, in an hour or so you could have 300 unique emails and corresponding free website accounts. my part of it was the code that would sort the list into the ini list for an ftp client and also generate unique content for each site and upload it, so that they’d not be deleted for being idle.
    the sites were used for uploading warez, of course.

    the websites kept changing their scripts but the kids kept up within hours – their customers would be complaining on the forum instantly. the web hosts and these kids kept a running game for nearly a year and finally they introduced captcha – and that was too much to code for, so they won- fair and square, we all agreed… lol.

    a hobby i love is to infiltrate a subculture and learn all about it. i genuinely loved the pirates.

  53. gnomish says:

    another story-
    needs the wayback machine-

    that was the first attack that knocked the riaa offline. how ’bout that fission bomber, eh? they don’t have email forwarding without approval of the recipient any more…didn’t take em 2 days to fix that. riaa had just filed suit against napster – remember that app the kid wrote to share files that got to be such a big hit?

    munga was aka ‘the cyberthrill killer’
    for having put the cyberthrill casino out of business with an attack that signed up zillions of fake accounts. they shoulda paid him what they owed – they were ripping off a lot of sites, but he was just a kid…lol. ‘relix!!!’.

    that’s how the piratey kids dealt with things.
    they made their own heroes – with real deeds.

    are those days coming back?

  54. Level_Head says:


    You probably don’t want to know about my algorithms and techniques that successfully put a number of pirates in jail. My clients were businesses—it seems that you and I were on opposite sides then.

    It was a long time ago — early to mid 1990s for most of it. I was intrigued at how many viruses were arising from Bulgaria after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Oho! There’s a white-paper on the topic.

    But back to the current discussion: You’ve suggested here that the Bill of Rights was “an afterthought” — but most of the states had ratified the Bill of Rights before all of them even ratified the Constitution itself. The Bill of Rights was part of the process, and hotly debated, during the original Constitution negotiations.

    I understand Hamilton’s concern: enumerating rights suggests that everything not enumerated is forfeit. He’s proven to be right, pretty much — but it likely would have been much worse by now without these amendments.

    Since you’ve said “afterthought,” I wondered what evidence you were considering to use such an appellation. Can you point me somewhere?

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  55. gnomish says:

    bad phrasing on my part, l.h.
    apparently some individjuals wanted rights explicitly guaranteed but it was successfully resisted but changes were forced in after the fait accomplit.
    rights were not part of the constitution, there was but one flowery phrase to start it out – the lipstick on the dog.

  56. gnomish says:

    there was a guy named cicatrix who knew all the virus writers from day 1 and did interviews with then and collected their works into a compendium called Vdat.

    dunno if it’s possible to find it online, but i got the unrestricted copy from him with all the collections.
    as an anthropological study, it’s fascinating. he wa-was the-there on the spot as it happened with the guys who did it and chronicled that.

    in the day, they presented their creations on alt.virus where dr. solomon hung out – which was why dr sol antivirus was quite the best at the time.
    but norton bought em, with promises to keep em separate and functional, blah blah…

    it was considered a legitimate hobby/art form to write ‘virii’. many were just practical jokes by clever coders.

    then there got to be a paycheck in having botnets for spaminating about cialis and other crap. it’s not the same now.

    well, dunno who you got in jail. only one person i knew got popped cuz of buccaneer that got drink.or.die. do you suppose ‘society’ figures that spending 250K$ or so to give her 3 hots and a cot for a few years has abolished her ‘debt’?
    he he – are we feeling suitably enriched over it?

    lol – the fbi was so funny with their press releases that were utter fantasy. they had interpol looking for a guy once – i don’t remember the name, offhand- but it was just the logo of the releasing group that appeared in the corner of their video releases. and windows 98 pirated a week before release? wow… i was already running it for 2 weeks by that time. 110 Mb on a dialup, too.
    but we had fxp and pwn3d boxen on big pipes.
    a guy could move gigabytes before second coffee with a 28k modem.

    the pirates spread nothing but joy when i was hanging out. nothing was ever stolen or damaged.

  57. E.M.Smith says:

    On “OT” but “in conversation” story:

    We had a “huney pot” set up and had some guy “break into it”. He could not get past our real front door, so bounced on to other places. (We didn’t even have the Internet Worm get through our wall when it hit. The one that took down damn near the whole internet for a while… It did hit the huney pot; so we got early warning of it. Yeah, we were pretty good…)

    For anyone who doesn’t know, a “honey pot” is what looks like a juicy machine to hit, that has modest (but some) defenses. It attracts the attacker first, so you can watch who they are and what they do before they figure out it’s just not a very interesting machine, it just LOOKS interesting… Ours mostly just did news and email forwarding for “open” accounts. None of the private or inside stuff. A place for some of our engineers to “hang out” on the raw internet side of things and “do what they will”… while looking like it’s important. It was subject to constant attack… so was ‘tight enough’ to stop the “kids”, but open enough to find if someone had something new… And with a load of hidden alarms and logging features all over the place.

    So we’re watching this guy to see what he’s got. Looked a bit pedantic. Probably Eastern Block, but not “by the book dull” as the KGB clock punchers were… At any rate, he had hit a router in Hawaii. So we logged into the router to see who it was. (Yeah, it took a minor hack). Turns out it was a military base….

    So we fish around and find their contact information in the router and call them up on the phone…

    Us: “Hello, I’m {name and title from company} and you have a hacker logged into your router {foo}. We think he is Eastern Block [description of attack] and we are ready to offer you our help in tracking him down. He is bouncing off our router {bar} and it looks like he is no more than two bounces up stream from us. How would you like to proceed?”

    Them: “Who are you and how did you get this number? This is a secret and unlisted site!”

    Us: “It was on your router, the one that the system cracker is logged into at this very moment. The one that has been compromised. Would you like us to contact the FBI for you? I see you are a federal site.”

    Them: “NO! We’re a secret site. We aren’t even supposed to be connected to the interenet. Don’t Tell ANYONE!”.

    Us: “So, would you like help tracking this guy back? We can give you our logs of his IP upstream and traffic history along with what warez we’ve seen him use and a profile of style. How would you like to proceed?”

    Them: “Tell me again where you got this phone number? Log off of our router now, don’t call this phone number again. And don’t tell anyone. We’re a secret site and nobody can know we have an internet connection.”

    Us: “We’re doing a forensic study on the guy who’s hacked your site. Do you want to down his connection?”

    Them: “Just hang up and don’t call back. And don’t tell anyone.”


    So we hung up and watch the guy a bit longer. They didn’t do a thing to kick him off or fix their exposure over the next hour or two. So then we also logged out of their router and were careful not to leave any footprints (we didn’t want the cracker to know we were following him around).

    It was pretty clear that the folks at the “secret site” {that was dumb enough to put info about who they were and what phone number to call in their boundary router…} had put up a clandestine internet connection that was Not Approved by their bosses and didn’t care that they were Hacked. They just didn’t want their butts kicked by the bosses….

    By then we had also called the FBI. They said the guy who did internet stuff was out of town and would be back in a week or so. Would we like him to call us. We pointed out the “attack was in progress on a Federal Site” and needed to be tracked “real time”. They said “the guy who does internet stuff was out of town and would be back in a week or so.”… Repeat… We said “OK, have him call”.

    So we “played a game” with the Cracker and had some of his routes “go bad” via a push of a routing table from another router… watched him a bit more to assure he was not getting to Hawaii through us anymore, figured out what to do to prevent him from being a problem again (tighten the boundary router just a tad) and dropped him.

    When Mr. FBI called, we told him the story. He wrote it all down and made a pretty report of it. We figured that 2 weeks was enough time for the guys at The Secret Site to have cleaned up their act, or not… and take the consequences, so that went in Mr. FBI’s report too…

    I’m sure the government is very good at making pretty reports… and butt covering…

    The E.Block guy never came back. Didn’t know how to do other than his Favored Trick or had other places more easy to hit…

    Or, more likely, found a nice gateway into the entire military network via a router open to a Known Vulnerabilty Attack in Hawaii and had the entire world to play with, so why deal with us tight asses…

    A few YEARS later, the FBI added some folks so they could do more timely response to internet crimes… I’ll bet that now they can even respond in under a day…

  58. Level_Head says:


    Most of my focus was on a slightly different variety of pirate — those hacking satellite receiver boxes.

    I’m intrigued by this notion: “the pirates spread nothing but joy when i was hanging out. nothing was ever stolen or damaged.”

    It suggests that your involvement with such people was extremely brief. Other statements indicate otherwise. Would you acknowledge now the insidious damage done by these people to tens of millions of folks around the world? They seem to be happiest when they hear of people having lost crucial and irreplaceable documents and images — and especially when they damage business.

    I’m no particular fan of that organization, and I have never had them as a client, but to the sort of people you’re talking about the very concepts of business and property rights are prime targets. And being significantly involved in the satellite industry, I too was a target. (As an aside, I had a peripheral involvement in Clinton’s transfer of missile guidance technology to the Chinese.)

    How is it you were able to cause such grief to the RIAA—”we could kick their ass, and did” you said—without anything ever being “stolen or damaged”?

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  59. Level_Head says:

    @E. M. Smith:

    Some time back, an IT security fellow at Sandia had almost an identical experience to yours. He contacted the FBI and offered his help after tracking back the Chinese government hackers operating under the US code name “Titan Rain.”

    The FBI gathered a bit of information from him, then he was fired, black listed, lost his security clearance, and was threatened with jail time. I shook my head when I read of this — it was about 2004 or so. Even hacking in defense of your own network is illegal in the US, which means among other things that we are barely capable of mounting any defense to Titan Rain and similar ops.

    And that problem has continued to get worse. In the past two or three years, that name has been in the news as they’ve compromised enough military and infrastructure sites to get the wags talking about it. Especially when the UK and other nations were hit (and began talking publicly).

    China is playing for keeps. And they have a government-backed “Army of Darkness” aimed at the West, primarily the US.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  60. Level_Head says:


    I’ve read, as evidently others have here, much correspondence between the Framers during the years in question. I’ve read the Federalist and the “anti-federalist” papers and watched the interplay between “Brutus” and “Publius” and between the states and the Convention—and I cannot get to the characterization you are putting on these doings.

    I was presuming—hoping, perhaps—that you had some additional original source materials in which these folks disclosed their secret evil intent.

    If there’s a writer you like who says that he thinks these were evil doings, who is that, and what are his sources?

    I’m always open to new information, and still looking for it in this instance. I’ll bet you have it — you and I are not kids, especially in our thinking on this topic. But I need more help.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  61. Level_Head says:

    @E. M. Smith:

    Remember the Moonlight Maze incident? It “never happened” they later decided. “Ain’t no cyber attacks on us, no sir!”

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  62. Murray says:

    Hi E. M. Haven’t communicated for a long time. Finall there is a political issue on which we can agree. Let’s knock off the illegal and unnecessary wars, close several dozen bases, and bring the troops home.
    Thought you might also be interested in another example of the dreaded creeping socialism –,0,1363751,full.story

  63. E.M.Smith says:


    The article linked lauds the “government partnership”. The problem with that kind of thing is that, yes, the project is a success, but what you don’t see are all the things that are NOT done due to the goverment sucking the life out of them in taxes to make that project work.

    It inevitably becomes a game of “beg from daddy”. The “kid” that begs the best, gets the cookies. Everyone else has them stolen.

    You can see this writ large in GE, who mostly make money via lobby operations…

    On the bases issue:

    100% agreement.

    I see no remaining reason for us to be in Europe (other than perhaps keeping Ramstein as a fast medical stop) and certainly no reason for our “Adventures In NATO Land” where we are bombing Libya to defend Germany from the Soviet Union? Come Again?… (What IS the purpose of NATO now? Just a “grab bag” army for when the UN doesn’t give enough of an okey dokey?)

    Leave Afganistan to the Afgans to sort out. Let Pakistan implode when the have no subsidy money to bribe with. Pack up and leave Iraq (they have fought off Iran before and can do it again if they need to). Once you have done that, you don’t need a base in Bahrain or Yemen. Diego Garcia will do nicely.

    If we need a “base” in the middle east, put it in Israel… At least they will use the money wisely and NOT use it against us. (Then put out a little notice that any nuke used within 100 miles of our base is presumed to have been aimed at US and we will “respond accordingly”…)

    I think we can also dump about 1/2 to 3/4 of the bases we have in Japan / Okinawa. Seems to me Japan has a lot of money, let them build a navy and airforce to defend themselves… We were able to just pack up and leave the Philippines when the volcano made Clark and Subic bay pointless… Seems to me we have a lot of places in Hawaii that could use some ship repair business and airplane maintenance jobs.

    Wouldn’t hurt to put a bunch of those folks from European bases into southern Florida either. Closer to Chavez that way… That’s where the next problem will come from, not Russia.

    Lets see, I make that about $6 Billion / year of “foreign aid” bribe money alone that gets cut. (Israeli “aid” can be cut, too, if we have a big base full of OUR equipment just sitting there… and we’re not giving $Billions to their arab neighbors.)

    The founders were right that a standing army is a greater threat to the public purse than just about anything else… but at least we can have it standing around at home instead of spending money overseas.

    Then take that $6B and focus it on building “rapid deployment forces” and toys. Intercontinental C-5 sized planes that can drop a load of drones in mid-air. Fast ( 50 knot+) Cats with decks they can land on when done that can reach 1000 to 2000 miles out in the “loiter time” of the drones. Cheaper than a full fledged carrier group, and faster. Then they get freighted home for refit and reload of the C-5…

    All the money at least stays here that way (and all the “boom stuff” goes over there…)

    Also in that list of ‘unnecessary wars’ include the various non-war wars. Like the War On Drugs. Never ever going to work. Just make it legal and put liability for damages on the vendors. As someone or other recently said ~”You don’t see Coors and Busch having shootouts over beer turf”… Yes, there will be marijuana gowing all over. For about 6 months. Then the whole market will collapse, it won’t be “cool”, just stupid, and most folks will just forget about it. When I was a kid you could buy Cheracol Cough Syrup with codiene in it over the counter. It was banned under the war on drugs. Now you even have to show your drivers licence to get a decongestant that works as it is possible to turn it into an illegal drug if you do enough chemistry. (News Flash: that’s true of just about everything… but don’t tell the drug nazis…) The net result? MORE folks using illegal drugs. When it was just stupid to drink the cough syrup by the bottle, far fewer folks wanted to be seen as stupid…

    OH, and let all the “use and posession” folks out of prison. Dont’ really need to be feeding and housing them and they will not need to steal to support a habit that takes about 10 square feet of a community garden to support… maybe even being out in the air and digging in the dirt will get them thinking about the value of things and their life on this planet…

    (Sidebar: Those folks who have accused me of being a Right Wing Republican can now see why I don’t fit that bucket… Frankly, I’d also add that I don’t think the Feds ought to be making ANY laws about marriage. At all. Not one. If a state wants one, they can do it. Otherwise, just leave folks alone and the society at large will sort things out. Not everything needs a law to define it… and a lot of stuff is just nobody’s damn business… Like abortion, that ought to involve a woman, her doctor, and her God. The guy ought to be given “rights” in direct proportion to the time investment. 5 minutes / 9 months… So I make that just about enought time to say “I’ve got an appointment, gotta go.”… I’d also abolish 100% of any “subisidies” to industries. ALL of them. Nuclear too. IF it can’t make it in the private market we don’t need it. Oh, and s-can the TSA while you’re at it. Just subcontract it to Israel… Let it be Very Clear that there is a Jew-With-Attitude deciding who gets on any particular airline and THAT’S the one I’m gonna fly… Oh, and give them 100% immunity from any ‘discrimination’ allegations. )


    Yeah, the old “If we don’t know about it then it didn’t happen” approach.

    Were it up to me, anything “classified” would be required to have “air gap security”…. and the military would be a completely isolated network.

    I also see no reason to put things like dams and power stations on the internet. Just lease a T-1 (or maybe even a 56 kb line) and be done with it.

    Why everyone has run to publish everything to the world via the internet is beyond me. Heck, most of my stuff is “air gap secure” until I plug in the disk to use it. Easier that way…

    I “took arrows” at one employer for about 2 years over the insistance that we have an internal wall between a top secret project and the rest of the company AND have a wall between the engineers and the rest of the company AND have a wall between all of THAT and the internet AND have a honey pot outside that wall.

    Then the Internet Worm hit.

    Our company was basically “business as usual” other than external email and net-news being down due to the whole internet being screwed up.

    Suddenly all the layers were not seen as that much of a problem…

    One of the “fun bits” was that I had a console mirror to a tty (honest, a REAL TTY). It printed a box of paper every few days. On one occasion found an engineer playing games. He didn’t know we had a hard copy of the log… He’d covered his tracks well in the on-line log files, but, well, once we suspected; it was easy to “hit the paper” and see just what was done when by whom.

    Had folks giving me the rolled eyeballs over a Real TTY as it wasn’t “modern”… right up until we started using it… several times… (Had 3 of them IIRC, including one on the honey pot machine). The operators came to expect a certain “sound” and if that stopped, went to change the paper or find something was being done to the logs or the machine had crashed. A few times that alone turned things up… On one occasion an operator went to change the paper (figured it had run out, the usual cause). Found it was not the paper, but the last entries printed were VERY suspicious. Logged on and caught folks “in the process”… with the logger deamon shut off. (We had a hidden logger that wrote to a file too, so were able to document what actually happened. We had “custom code” for any navigation and inspection commands, like cd, ls, cat; and if you were using them as root, but were not possessed of a hidden magic token, it would ring alarms in our offices and start “special” logging of keystrokes… Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, ever figured out THAT little trap we’d laid… Like The Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects cat and ls to be squealing on them… )

    Sometimes its the really stupid crude tools that work the best. But ignoring the issue never does work…

    In some ways I miss the combat. OTOH, It’s a whole lot more productive to not waste my time on such silly things.

    “The air gap is your friend”…

  64. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “All the money at least stays here that way (and all the “boom stuff” goes over there…)”

    Reminds me of a tee shirt slogan I wanted to see: “Bring American jobs back from foreign countries! Close our overseas bases.”

    I am always pleased to find a formulation that is both logical and still manages to upset liberals as well as conservatives.


  65. gnomish says:

    this off topic chat has been interesting…to me, anyhow.
    l.h. – i’ve been around it enuff to draw a distinction between pirates and hackers, though pirates may hack…
    pirates have as their standard of value, warez.
    there is only one possible use of warez – to share them with others who participate in the subculture. there is only one possible relationship you can expect to have with a pirate – he will give you stuff you want just so you get it.
    for kids who can’t compete in fashion or sports, it’s a way to earn self-respect. for people who want an education and can’t pay for one off.the.shelf, the pirates provide as much educational material as one could desire. for some skills, they are the only actual route possible for many.
    and for kids with nothing for xnas – they got something from the pirates – like xmas every day.
    a student may gain the experience of using software absolutely unavailable otherwise.
    some kids have respectable careers that they were only able to acquire the skills thanks to the pirates.
    at least 3 times i have seen some kid come back to a group once he’d got his first IT or Gfx job with real money- come back to give thanks – usually by setting up an ftp on a host with some months paid up and full of warez.

    a while back, a piratey pal actually wrote his graduation major thesis on the economics of pirates, describing the utility functions, marginal propensities, maximal capacities, and all the code words of the econ subculture. according to his thesis, pirates quite being pirates shortly after they become employed and they come to regard their time as more valuable than the $ it would take to have the commodity served to them.
    heh… he wanted to buy my icq number – some nationalities were paying crazy $ for low or ‘lucky’ numbers…

    generally, the folks i hung out with could have been figures in Moon Is a Harsh Mistress or some other romantic novel of the sci fi genre.

    i’m sure you must have had the experience of a movie or novel that showed a group of folks that was actually a study of their values. Perhaps you even found one whose values and characters you admired?

    you can get a clue about the pirates from the explicit mottoes expressed in the .nfo files that accompany any warez. I never saw any trace of malignancy.

    I don’t have any kind of special info about the constitution. I just interpret it according to what it says in what is the largest context I can conceive.
    It was not the first government established nor was it the first document sanctified for the purpose.
    I consider it self evident that a document which contains only the most cursory mention of individual rights can not have individual rights as the topic of the document.
    As far as ‘secret evil intent’, well they do it quite openly, for their sense of eliteness suffices to give them a feeling of entitlement already. Except for they did it ‘secretly’, I guess, and the rationale allegedly given for that is consistent with one agenda and not so with others. They were in haste, much like that meeting in copenhagen last climategate…lol We may, perhaps, disagree on whether the establishment of a bureaucracy to eat out the nation’s substance is evil by nature. The declaration of independence had words to say about it, though, so it hardly follows that the cure for it is to replicate it.

    summarize the articles of confederation of perpetual union with the constitution – try to boil it down to one sentence for each. I come up with
    AofC – we need organized troops to fight off invaders, vs USC – we need to organize a ruling class to run the affairs of the people.

    run a concordance on the 2 docs for the nouns – that’s the simplest form of semantic analysis.
    examine the topics – that’s what the documents are about.
    examine conspicuously absent topics – if they should be there and are not, there’s probably a reason.

    anyway, i don’t need to convince, persuade or even plant seeds. I don’t seek influence or imagine it would be worth having if I were, no insult intended.
    it’s fair enuff to ask the reasons for whatever I say if I be guilty of verbal incontinence. But I’m content to respect the inalienable right of a person to ownership of himself, though I don’t grant it to be an actionable claim of harm if it pixels from my fingers bother anybody.
    I just like to watch and understand for fun. If I had to be granting approvals or condemnations I’d find some other hobby. I have an aversion to gurus – some really bright people have gone down that road and rotted. That’s what’s at the end of that road- a tower in east anglia.

    kicking the riaa’s ass – well, that’s a metaphor. There is no actual ass nor actual boots.
    In the context, it meant that the riaa could be reduced to ridicule any time with no recourse.
    An iconic enemy could be trifled with with impunity – very good for morale and much celebrated. I found it a very refreshing alternative to the conventional chronic submission, impotence and ennui.
    It was real. :)

  66. Jeff Alberts says:

    As someone who runs several free and fairly insignificant web sites (for the last 10 years or so), the people Gnomish describes are not not harmless, heroes, or anything remotely resembling conscientious human beings. They’re punks, nothing more.

  67. gnomish says:

    jeff- they are geeks.
    putting in ungodly hours, they run the most efficient data distribution network the human race has ever seen on a volunteer basis, self organized on the basis of competence and merit.

    my guess is that none of them would take any offense at being called a punk because being accustomed to having what they want when they want makes them feel winners. winners, are hard to insult.
    however it sounds like there’s a story there if you give such a response to the touch of that button. care to unburden?

  68. Level_Head says:

    @E. M. Smith:

    Sounds familiar. In about 1995 we rigged up an international bank with a backup system — using 20 milliamp current loop. Total baud rate was 5. Not 5k, just five. But hundreds of millions of dollars were moved over this secure link to the SWIFT international transfer system, and more than once it was forced into primary status.

    On the satellite side, we rigged up a commercial offering free sports gear for the Superbowl — but had rigged the transmission so that legal receivers would get a different commercial. Only the hacked units would see the “really cool” giveaway.

    The sports gear was delivered with a warranty—and a warrant.

    DirecTV used my software in building their original Little Rock broadcast facility, a top secret operation at the time. And, peculiarly, Clinton’s “Total Information Awareness” system, gathering information on everyone in the US, had some of my work involved too. I was amused when the press decided that this was George W. Bush’s creation; he wasn’t in office until years after I was involved and the system was put in operation. There is a strong connection between this and the Florida 2000 election debacle.

    Software is fun!

    But piracy — the theft of someone else’s property, even intellectual property — does not put one in the category of “winners.” You might justify stealing my property because you wanted it and therefore deserved to have it and no one could stop you — but this is simply theft by force.

    There is a peculiar notion that stealing from a person is usually distasteful, but stealing from a business owned by persons is fine. To me, this is a failure of imagination, the same sort of thing that mourns one death but doesn’t even register the death of thousands.

    Of course, others take please in destroying the “system” (usually free enterprise) any way they can — they like the feeling of “powah.” It makes them feel like “winners.” Eventually, as gnomish implies, they grow up.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  69. gnomish says:

    well, that is interesting.
    i guess i can say a few things because you seem rather level headed – not with chains hanging out begging to be yanked…lol
    i guess first thing i’d do is call into question the nature of what you term ‘intellectual property’
    for something to be a person’s property, it must be owned. for it to be owned, it must be under the exclusive control of an owner. If you don’t agree with my definitions, so be it. That’s my self-consistent dictionary and it serves me accurately and effectively. so the only thing that qualifies as intellectual property is a secret. well, it’s up to the owner to keep it or not but he doesn’t get his cake and eat it too IRL.

    i guess secondly, i’d have to say that if it ain’t missing, it ain’t stolen.

    thirdly, i’d have to say that nobody has any obligation to respect wishes just cuz someone wishes- and not because someone threatens.

    an inquisitive person might look into the origin of copyright and learn that it was established for the purpose of censorship.
    a good capitalist might have questions doubt the justification for financing a special interest monopoly for a small group.

    a free man definitely has issues with obedience.

    in any case, it exists and it is what it is. it does not require our understanding or appreciation.
    perhaps i’m may lose my cynic certs for i don’t see evil under this rock.
    i see ppl with guns who do harm, but they aren’t internet pirates. so i suppose if i should choose to have issues with one group or the other i would have trouble finding a threat of any kind from the warez scene. maybe i just don’t have outrage to squander – musta got burned out from seeing real atrocities somewhere along the line. not sure if it’s wisdom or just bored of angsterism…lol.

  70. E.M.Smith says:


    I can own a farm, yet have a hired hand driving a tractor to plough it. During that time, the land is effectively “under his control”. By your definition, that means I no longer own it.

    Siimilarly, taking a vacation and leaving a “house sitter” in my home would amount to forfeture of ownership.

    I think your definition needs work…

    Ownership is the right to choose how an article will be used. I may loan it to a friend, I may burn it to the ground, I may simply put it in a display case for all to see. I still get to choose. When choice is lost, so is ownership.

    (Given the number of “laws and regulations” being piled on limiting what one may “choose” to do with their property and even their own body; I think you would agree that our ownership rights, even in ourselves, are being deminished; just as this definition would describe / define it…)

    So I can “own” a bit of intellectual property as long as I am the one who gets to choose how it is used. To print a book, or not. To let Turner make a movie of it, or not. To have it sold at $10 / copy or have it made in China at $1 ea. But when someone prints my book in China at $1 each and I get NOTHING and it is done against my choice, that was a theft of my “right to choose”. A theft of my itellectual property. (As, imho, is a blood test for alcohol… It’s my body, I get to choose… if a forced substance test can be performed, then I do not own “me”; an incredibly vile oxymornic state… I become just another slave.)

    I think you will find this construct a useful one…

    Per “Pirates vs Hackers vs crackers vs white hats vs…”

    I’ve broken into machines (back before it was thought a crime) and I’ve defended against attacks. The parties involved are far more shaded in gray than you paint…

    From official government sponsored computer warriors to TLA spy agencies to corporate espionage ops to greedy folks looking for a score to some guy who just wants to earn his Pirate Merit Badge to some kid with a new computer who read a web site and downloaded a new toy… Some of the groups have various “codes” they live by. Some follow the UCMJ even…

    I’ve used “Pirate warez” as you have called them to secure my own boxes. (We set up an internal attack team for Tigre Team Attacks. If *we* could break in, others could…) Some of it is decent stuff. Some of it is crap. I had a guy working for me who had purple hair some days and egg yolk yellow / orange on others. Highly intollerant of any limitation of skill in others. I spent a lot of time upgrading his social skills. I had others who were decent with people but were basically F-ups. (Inherited with a new job…) Them I repositioned to do the least damage and the most good. Generally, I’d prefere the products of the meritocracy….

    But I also had an engineer who told me there was a vulnerability on an internal mail server. I told him “Thanks, we’ll get to it”. (As it was already 2 levels deep in the protection hierarchy and nobody but company engineers sitting at their desks could even reach the thing). We had some major real issues to deal with (outside attacks and building secure project infrastructure) so this was low priority. Then about a week later we “lost root” on the box. Inside about 5 minutes (with alarms going off… and no login available) I walked into the computer room and flipped the circuit breaker. (If it’s not under my control, it WILL be under my control, even if cold metal… I “own” that box…)

    We then inspected the paper logs (Remember those paper logs ;-). Saw what had happened, and I walked to the other building where this guy worked. Found his desk.

    The idiot had left the monitor on with his last commands where he exploited the mail problem to swap out the passwd file for one of his own still glowing. He had gone to lunch as the box had “hung”… (my crashing it).

    I had a nice chat with his boss about how he would feel about meeting his project goals with zero access to engineering compute facilites…. We then had a chat with his employee upon return from lunch.

    This employee asserted the pirate creed that “If I left a known vulnerability open, then I was granting him permission to do what he wanted with that vulnerabilty and that box”. The same creed you echo above. He, too, had difficulty understanding that not all ownership comes from the barrel of a gun and that possession is not ALL of the law. That sometimes we agree on a common set of rules to live by, and follow them.

    So I ‘splained to him that he could try doing his job with zero access to networks and computers. With ALL his peers having no email as the box was shut down (as yes, I certainly WOULD “pull the plug” any and every time the box was not under my control and working properly) or he could learn a newer and more ‘group friendly’ set of ethics.

    We also “custom cut” some code such that any time he logged onto any box every keystroke was logged… and sent via an rs-232 line to a “special place”… (we had one of the earliest optical disk robots out there ;-)

    He never caused any trouble for the group again.

    The point of this?

    You see, the computers were not his. They were property of the company. There were not even my property. But the company deligated to me the right to choose how to operate them. I had limited “ownership” of those boxes as the “right to choose” was mine. Not his. Not even with a technical ability to capture it for a few minutes (prior to the box being unplugged). But that deligated “right to choose” and partial “ownership” did not remove the higher right of the company to decide to dispose of the boxes (and me, as they did in a round of layoffs some time later… though technically I put myself on the layoff list so in a twisted way as agent of the company I choose to layoff myself ;-)

    At the end of the day, those boxes AND the “itellectual property” on them belonged to the company. We signed agreements to that effect when we joined the company and that contract said our work product was theirs, in exchange for wages. Either you honor contracts, or you do not… and the “theft of the box” was not honoring that contract… nor are “pirates” breaking in… Just as a thug breaking the door to my home does not gain “ownership” just because my door can’t stop a 30 lb ram. He is just violating MY “right to choose”.

    It is, in the end, no different with folks hacking into boxes. They are just picking locks or prying open poorly closed windows and crawling inside. That does not constitute “permission” to raid the fridge, photocopy my bank statements, drink my beer while watching cable, or steal my dog… It is, simply, theft of private property. Even if all they did was photocopy my book manuscript and publish it in China at $1 a copy. (As “nothing was missing” on my return.). They have stolen my “right to choose” (and in that case also my future revenue from book sales).

    And the fact that a murder was committed in East L.A. does not make it any less of a crime.

  71. gnomish says:

    your argument is begging for a reductio ad absurdam. would you say that while you’re asleep any passerby can claim you?
    what if i and a bunch of other guys vote on it?
    what if it’s my job to tell you what to do with yourself?

    i don’t find my concept of ownership deficient as it is precise and the definitions of the words i use are non-self.contradictory – they won’t choke the parser. yours is inadequate and does not correspond with reality on some important points. your notion justifies ownership of ‘the color purple’ for instance – and indeed, it has been and is now being used to assert monopoly powers over various wavelengths.
    my concept addresses this and recognizes that there is no limit on ‘purpleness’ and that one or all may have all they wish without depriving any other.

    if i take photos of your house, it is not theft. if you don’t want photos taken, you might call on the laws of physics and deal with your violated wishes ethically.

    your attempt to equate real property with ideas fails under critical examination. riaa propaganda notwithstanding.
    it is the nature of an idea that it is infinitely reproducible and can be in more than one place at one time, i.e., exclusivity is not the nature of the entity. exclusive control is not possible except by keeping it entirely secret. that’s reality and the world got along fine with reality since it began.

    if i take photos of your house, it is not theft. if you don’t want photos taken, you might call on the laws of physics and deal with your violated wishes ethically.

    finally, monopoly (the state enforced entity) is wrong. no way you’ll be able to rationalize that without disclaiming your unalienables – and mine.
    the problem arises there. there can be no right to violate my rights.

    heh- i had a big blurt, here, but i removed way more than half of it. it’s obvious to me that i’ve thought about this a lot and deeply and with the benefit of sharp cognitive tools and a steady mind.
    i can say a whole lot about it- but i spare you a truckload. your mind is your own. would it not be presumptuous and rude to insist on altering your property on a whim? i think you’ll find truth in your own time by your own efforts with whatever tools and skills you bring to the task.
    it is the nature of learning that it’s only done by the learner and only when he’s self motivated. a person who respects the mind should eschew propaganda.

  72. gnomish says:

    did you ever wonder about the etymology of the word ‘royalty’?
    that kind of tea goes right in the bay.

  73. Jeff Alberts says:


    I thought I was pretty clear. I’ve had sites hacked which use open source forum and CMS software. My sites had nothing to offer a hacker, or whatever you want to call them, besides an opportunity for vandalism. Perhaps they were just script kiddies, doesn’t matter to me. The caused me many hours of grief for no reason, as they do to countless people every day.

    I’m a geek, but I don’t go breaking into others’ machines and wreak unnecessary havoc for fun. If these “people” are so altruistic as you seem to imply, why not do something constructive, instead of steal, slash and burn?

  74. gnomish says:

    so, shall we burn down the libraries? that’s where people have been going for their warez. they even provide copying machines. watch what happens with that when you try to make sense of it with the tools you are using… sorry- don’t try – it was a trick – it will hurt your head.

    i guess it may bear repeating that the ONLY 2 valid considerations in ethics are ownership and damage.
    boiled down to a bumpersticker, you get 2 commandments:
    keep your promises and do no harm.

    there is no validity to any claim of ‘theft of ideas’ per se.
    if somebody tortures some information out of you, or promises you something for it and fails to deliver, then you have a claim for theft. you will be able to show either damage or a broken promise that has a default clause specifying reparation. not that you have to show that to anyone, but it has to exist for any claim worthy of consideration.

    laws are for the obedient. a man uses principles. it is a mistake to imagine that someone who disregards your wishes must be unprincipled. (that’s analogous to the cleric who can’t imagine an atheist can know nothing of orality – when in fact… n/m)

    lolz – kids are suing people over alleged harm to their future from global warming. can your metaphysics reject that claim on principle?

    for fun, identify the self contradiction of the anti-concept ‘public property’.

    but this is all a 25 year old rerun for me. if it stimulates your thoughts, all well and good, but the chances that you will produce an argument that falsifies the principles i’ve stated are zero. please don’t bang your head against that wall for my benefit! do it if it’s fun for you, of course.

  75. gnomish says:

    hi jeff.
    well, you may be speaking of defacers? that’s another subculture that is separate from pirates. it’s their hobby to hack a website and put up a page declaring they did so. then they post lists of the sites they’ve done this to by way of competition with other defacing groups.
    i got hit once by some turks. it was a small nuisance, but it got me into an exploration of that subculture, so i can’t say i got nothing out of it. i like knowing the details of life – i like fine distinctions. generalities must always ignore the individual case- though they sometimes make a person who uses them seem vastly experienced with grand ideas – nevertheless, my experience persuades me that it’s ALL individual cases and that understanding suffers by lack of resolution. it’s all black and white when you look closely enough to see the dots. sorry, i metaphored …

    pirates are distinct from hackers, defacers, trolls, virus writers, coders, etc…

    pirates, as with most internet subcultures worthy of the designation, are ad hoc – that means they gather for particular purposes. they don’t agree that disrespect for copyright is theft, but causing havoc is strictly contrary to the purposes.
    for a site to have value to a pirate, it must have space and bandwidth. a site claimed for this purpose was used for placing warez so that others could access them. that means the site must not be abused. code was written to protect sites by patching exploits and to give read only access during business hours, for example.
    there were numerous occasions where the site owner, having discovered the hidden dirs, would signify deniable approval of the activity by posting a request list.

    did you see the movie ‘fight club’? it became a sort of thematic icon among pirates. ‘first rule about fight club is you don’t talk about fight club’ was a convenient phrase to rehearse modesty. but the best part morphed into something like ‘we run your websites, we secure your servers, we do your IT – don’t f— with us.’
    that was a popular meme, for, in fact, they do. they just don’t put their hobby on the resume.

  76. Jeff Alberts says:

    if it stimulates your thoughts, all well and good, but the chances that you will produce an argument that falsifies the principles i’ve stated are zero.

    In your mind, perhaps.

  77. gnomish says:

    3rd try to reply to jeff…

    i think you may be concerned with defacers, not pirates. disturbing and attracting attention is contrary to the purposes of the latter.

    i had written a lot more, but it’s too much work to rewrite it.

    i never meant to suggest that piracy involved altruism.

  78. Jeff Alberts says:


    I’m concerned with all of them. I own a small business which involves software products. It would do me harm if people took those products and gave them away free.

  79. gnomish says:

    and so you find it outrageous that this can be done so cheaply, easily and on such a grand scale as it is?

    you surely have cause for complaint – it’s built in and ineradicable, but i think you may be pointing fingers at the wrong places. in any case, that subculture is like fight-club – pirates write your software, they secure your servers, they do your IT – you can’t stop them because you depend on them. they know it.

    anyway, i’m not after arguments. i like to hear about honeypots, strategies, tactics and the characters involved in real IT stories. i relish ‘being there when it happens’, which was the thrill of climate.audit and wuwt and here.
    why i like that so much is cuz i love to know.
    when asked, as a child, the loaded question ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’, my response was ‘know everything’. i was advised that it was not possible, for the universe is far vaster than my mind could encompass. undaunted, i replied ‘so i won’t ever be bored’.
    age 5, jeff. clear memories. clean conscience. no fear, no guilt, no shame. i know most of the tricks of the demagogue, which gives me the choice to use or avoid use of them. when i come to visit chiefio chat, i like the conspicuous absence of demagoguery. i like open inquiry – into almost anything. i love to know. you don’t have to understand or accept that, but there’s lots of aggravation built in to the package we call ‘society’.

    the piracy story has been more or less the same chord played before the legislators since vinyl was predicted to destroy the concert theaters, since the recordable cassette destroyed the music industry, since vcr technology destroyed the movie industry and since mp3s, those wicked tools of piracy, put all the recording artists in the poorhouse.
    now it’s global warming and it will be expensive to fight.

    does it interest you that digital technology has, in fact, caused the extinction of several industries which expired without fanfare? i think print books will be a very small market once the boomers pass. newspapers may go sooner. do we need some legislation to preserve the status quo?
    i haven’t seen a typewriter or an instaphoto booth, but they may still linger somewhere.
    cassette tapes are now, themselves, basically extinct, having been replaced with cds, which are on the way out cuz of the dvds, which are on the way out cuz of usb sticks…
    i suppose somebody suffers in the transition, but it’s nothing but good to me. i go for what works best.

    we live in a world where, within a single generation, large amounts of knowledge with important survival value can become obsolete. that’s how it is. those who can adapt will thrive and those who can’t become relix1. fred phelps and i have a basic agreement on this point, despite different terminology, to wit: god hates relix1.

    i did a chapter in kandide about the city of monuments from which i was just tempted to quote myself again. heh, i still wouldn’t change anything i said 30 odd years ago when i successfully elevated my philosophy to the explicit verbal level. that’s why i can go out and play – cuz i did my homework a long time ago. got a gold star still stuck on the fridge…lol – j/k.

  80. Jeff Alberts says:

    “and so you find it outrageous that this can be done so cheaply, easily and on such a grand scale as it is? ”

    No, I find it outrageous that there are so many people without a conscience.

  81. gnomish says:

    “When choice is lost, so is ownership.”

    therefore i don’t own a home i pay for because i have no choice about paying assessed taxes. i don’t own the fruits of my labor because my productivity is fined in measure without my consent. how much is my child my own, then, if there is no choice about how he or she is educated?
    do i own myself if there are prohibitions on what i may choose to do in privacy with my property?

    i can follow where your statement leads but damned if i can see how it justifies a monopoly on bits or pixels.
    they are cheap and virtually unlimited. there is no stopping that. it’ll be hard as hell to pull a deBeers on bits.

    in the abstract, i find it comical that an industry should be so vitally concerned with restricting access to a product. but if they let the free market determine the price, they figure they’d be right out of business, don’t they?
    so maybe they aren’t selling the right thing? maybe the money isn’t in piping a copy over a fiber. maybe it’s in delivering something kids can’t or in a way that isn’t dirt cheap for anyone (e.g. 3d movies).

    maybe it’s just not natural for somebody to do something one time and get pop-star pay in perpetuity. nobody pays royalties to the carpenter or plumber. can you imagine a better world if every possible occupation had a guild like the riaa with federal protection and a whole set of private laws just to benefit them? royalties every time you open a window – hey, how is that not fair to let the glaziers enjoy royalties just like artists? will there soon be no windows if we aren’t fair about the starving glaziers? j/k

    broadband internet thrives, though. it’s a money maker.
    is somegbody somewhere pretending the demand is driven by the desire for blazing fast email or fast uploads to the blog?
    even as sony was among the foremost in decrying the Rio mp3 player and using the ‘tools of piracy’ argument to keep it off the market (i guess the guy who though he owned the thing by virtue of having invented and produced it- didn’t own it) they will cheerfully sell you an mp3 player today.

    i’m of the opinion that these arguments are not really concerned with rights due the the inherent contradictions.
    i am of the belief that it is a matter of legal maneuvering to preserve a monopoly that maintains a product price far above what might be expected in a free market.

    think about it – ‘the right to watch’ or ‘the right to listen’ as a capitalized product… illegal watching…
    as i sat down on the group W bench, the litterbug asked me what i was there for. ‘listening to bette midler’, i said. and they alllll moved down to the other end of the bench.
    it’s all good stuff for a satirical novel, i guess, or a stand.up comedy routine. oops.. i was almost gonna quote myself again… it’s still the same as it ever was.

    oh- did you know, unwitting pirate, that the birthday song is under copyright and you haven’t sent a check to aascap for each and every performance of it with royalties computed according to the number attending the party?

    i am unable to become agitated about stuff so plainly silly.

  82. Jeff Alberts says:

    Your rationalizing is disingenuous. You’re putting a lot of words into people’s mouths that simply aren’t there.

    “Pirates” simply wish to enjoy the fruits of other people’s labor without due acknowledgement (payment) for the labor. There’s not even any barter there, it’s simply taking what they want without regard for anyone but themselves.

    You can spin it all you want with fancy phrases and ideologies, but it’s still theft.

  83. Jason Calley says:

    @ gnomish “maybe it’s just not natural for somebody to do something one time and get pop-star pay in perpetuity. nobody pays royalties to the carpenter or plumber. can you imagine a better world if every possible occupation had a guild like the riaa with federal protection and a whole set of private laws just to benefit them? royalties every time you open a window – hey, how is that not fair to let the glaziers enjoy royalties just like artists? will there soon be no windows if we aren’t fair about the starving glaziers?”

    Gnomish, I think that you and Jeff both have agreed that someone who goes into a site or database and intentionally damages, alters or shuts down files or functions, has done something wrong, either criminally or ethically. Either of you feel free to correct me if I am wrong on that. Having said that, the question of intellectual property HAS to be reviewed in our culture. The fact is, intellectual property is NOT the same as physical property. One can make at least plausible arguments for the fundamental nature of self-ownership, and go from there to reasonable conclusions about the nature of property ownership in tangible physical objects, things either man-made, traded for, or taken from nature through human action. Intellectual property cannot — as far as I can tell — be similarly subsumed into the realm of natural rights, but has always in the past been a sort of special legal category defined from a consideration of strict pragmatics. Well the nature of what is pragmatic has changed now because our technology changes. Gnomish, the paragraph quoted from you above really does point out the difference. The fact is, any sort of property rights only make sense when the property in question is limited. A chair is property only because it’s usage is limited to one person per chair. If an infinite number of people could simultaneously use the same chair, no one would claim it. Air is essentially infinite here on Earth. Under infinite supply, no one claims it. On the moon, air becomes a vital and valuable property.

    Here we are now in a world where ones and zeros can be copied and used with a cost that very nearly approaches zero. In real, practical terms it no longer is property. In legal and business terms it is still under the legal and economic restrictions that consider it to be property.

    The impasse between the pirates and the copyright holders is due more to cultural changes intrinsic in a technological shift than to a difference in ethics or morals. There is no ethical way to solve this because the solution is not in the realm of ethics. The problem is one of law and culture and neither has yet to adapt to the new technology.

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