Morning Links

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Sorry for the light blogging. I’ve hit a wall of deadlines this week. Good news is, I hope to have some good stuff coming up next week, including an explosive new story involving our friends Dr. Hayne and Dr. West.

  • Why those border agents jailed for shooting an unarmed drug smuggler should not be pardoned.
  • Here’s a relevant 2006 essay from our likely new surgeon general on why he would vote against loosening the legal restrictions on marijuana. To be fair, Gupta is much more honest about pot than many people of his stature. But since when did a doctor’s responsibilities change from healing the sick to using the power of the state to prevent “unhealthy decisions?”
  • iTunes soon to be DRM-free.
  • Cult of the Presidency watch: “In 2003, a British colleague, stunned by the ubiquity of executive photographs in one agency we visited, remarked that he had witnessed an equivalent portrait reverence only in Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad.”
  • Porn moguls Larry Flynt and Joe Francis are asking for a bailout. Pretty sure this is tongue-in-cheek. Insert your own joke.
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  • 33 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  Sithmonkey | 

      Porn moguls Larry Flynt and Joe Francis are asking for a bailout. Pretty sure this is tongue-in-cheek. Insert your own joke.

      You said insert

    2. #2 |  Bob | 

      “Porn moguls Larry Flynt and Joe Francis are asking for a bailout. Pretty sure this is tongue-in-cheek. Insert your own joke.”

      You gotta make sure your joke is subtle… so it can get in through the back door.

      Wait… Larry Flynt is still alive? I thought he overcame himself in the 80′s and died.

    3. #3 |  John Jenkins | 

      I wonder why the author of that piece on the border patrol agents thinks that the President can pardon Corey Maye in connection with his Mississippi state murder conviction. There are at least two problems there.

      First, the President’s power extends only to crimes “against the United States,” so a state conviction is not within the President’s pardon power. U.S. Const., Art. II, § 2.

      Second, accepting a pardon is necessarily an admission of guilt. Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79 (1915). It seems clear that Maye is not guilty under existing Mississippi caselaw, so he should not have to accept a pardon.

      I also think the argument against pardoning those border patrol agents is a little long. I think it goes more like this: They’re guilty of murder. That’s it. Given all that we know about the rare nature of cases where prosecutors actually charge and try law enforcement officers, the fact that the U.S. Attorney did so in this case and got a conviction should tell us all we need to know.

    4. #4 |  Marty | 

      another marijuana-challenged twit citing the national institute for doltish assholes… Sanjay drinks the govt kool-aid, just like most of his predecessors. It’d be nice to have a surgeon general who believes in science.

    5. #5 |  Nick T | 

      WOW. Gupta’s essay is so intellectually lazy it’s absurd. The first paragraphs after he says “What voters need to know:” amount to a very strong argument in FAVOR of marijuana, and begins with the sentence: “The first is that marijuana isn’t really very good for you.”

      Umm, doc, you just let an argument as to why you will vote against something not carrying criminal penatlies for simple possession by pointing out that it’s “not very good for you.” (So Cheetos and krispy Kreme Donuts should be treated how?) He then lists rather amazing, empirically documented positive medical properties like reducing or mitigating alzheimers!!! He then says that becuase most people who like weed just want to get high he will be voting against its decriminalization. What? Followed by a list of far less serious, undocumented unproven health risks.

      Worst of all, he completely sweeps aside the argument that legalized weed would make our streets safer as though that’s not for him to comment on because he’s just a doctor. Again, Doc, I’m very sorry but you are making a political argument here. you can’t just sweep aside the most significant political questions because they are not within your realm of expertise. If you wanted to write something about the medical facts of marijuana, you should have done exactly that and left the politics out.

      If I was a high school english teacher and a student gave this to me as an essay, I’d give it a C+, and I would comment “strong research at times, though those facts argue AGAINST your thesis; show sources for the facts that do support it; You fail to address the question in any real way as to why this should not be DECRIMINALIZED. You can do better.”

    6. #6 |  ClubMedSux | 

      I keep coming across story after story about iTunes getting rid of DRM, but the way I read it, you’ll have the OPTION of purchasing a DRM-free download if you’re willing to pay ~30% more per download. Unless I’m missing something, this seems like a clever way to raise prices as opposed to some change in Apple’s attitude towards DRM.

    7. #7 |  John Jenkins | 

      @ClubMedSux: Apple does charge a fee to remove DRM for previously purchased tracks and upgrade them to the 256kbps iTunes Plus quality, but new tracks purchased from yesterday onward will be DRM-free for the most part (entirely by the end of the quarter).

      Of course, since they refuse to upgrade the mac mini, I still don’t have my dream network of computers running Vista, O/S X, and Linux.

    8. #8 |  John Jenkins | 

      That should read attempted murder in #3. I need to be a better editor.

    9. #9 |  nobahdi | 

      Finally, a bailout I can get behind.

    10. #10 |  Cynical In CA | 

      Re: Flynt bailout — whose tongue in which cheek?

      Ba dump bump …

      “But since when did a doctor’s responsibilities change from healing the sick to using the power of the state to prevent “unhealthy decisions?”

      Seriously, you’d think that a doctor wouldn’t do this to his own kind. Doctors reap huge benefits from people’s stupid decisions. If I were a doctor, I’d be pissed as hell at this asshat.

      Why, after my right shoulder rotator cuff surgery last month, I’m convinced that tennis was invented by orthopedic surgeons purely for job security.

    11. #11 |  Rick Caldwell | 

      Too late. I already use Amazon, because the music there has always been DRM-free, and less expensive than iTunes. Apple’s proclivity for being proprietary about everything they make turned me off long ago. They’ve always been far worse about this than even Microsoft.

      Apple has a long way to go to overcome their a$$hole status in my book.

    12. #12 |  Cynical In CA | 

      “If I was a high school english teacher and a student gave this to me as an essay, I’d give it a C+, and I would comment “strong research at times, though those facts argue AGAINST your thesis; show sources for the facts that do support it; You fail to address the question in any real way as to why this should not be DECRIMINALIZED. You can do better.””

      Geez, Nick, there you go again being all logical and shit.

      Your apoplexy is entertaining, but don’t burst a blood vessel expecting the State to be logical or play by your rules.

      The State is only interested in its self-preservation, as all institutions are.

    13. #13 |  Michael Pack | 

      If we outlaw things on the basis of harm ,cars would be the first to go.As far as injuies and shorter life span the N.F.L. would be doomed.Smoking pot would be far down on the list.

    14. #14 |  Ben (the other one) | 

      As for Executive Branch portraiture, I often noticed in visiting various Department of Justice sites (e.g., Main Justice, US Attorneys’ Offices, etc.) that Cheney’s picture was frequently missing from the usual trio of icons. I always thought that it was the one most likely to be stolen for practical jokes, since it depicted him looking pretty much like a late-night TV car salesman.

      The only picture of the man that didn’t suggest a profound disconnect between the moods of each side of his face (and that suggested he was actually, well, human) was the official picture of him and his wife with their new grandchild.

    15. #15 |  Nick T | 

      Sorry Cynical,

      And I dont disagree about The State :) Just thought this smart, charming guy, and an academic could make a solid argument.

      And rick Caldwell, I totally agree. I use Rhapsody. Their full albums are just 8.99 and they have a free download of the day every day which, though still nascent, has actually been a bunch of decent songs so far (including the new Tv on the Radio single – rock!)

    16. #16 |  Michael Pack | 

      Another thing ,all drugs are toxic in the right dose..Many people are deathly allergic to penicillin.Smoking a joint once in awhile or drinking a few beers are no more deadly then reading a book.

    17. #17 |  sux2bme | 

      If the good Dr. Gupta would not support decriminalization because pot “… isn’t really very good for you.” and wants to be consistent, he should advocate the criminalization of alcohol, tobacco and sundry other substances that meet that same test. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful world …

    18. #18 |  ceanf | 

      ‘[marijuana can] lead to long-lasting depression or anxiety’

      Its nice to see our next surgeon general gets his facts from the ONCDP and DEA instead of more reputable sources. That statement, created by our friendly government drug warriors, is a myth and there is no hard proof that it is true. From anecdotal evidence, i would say the exact opposite is true. Most people who smoke pot are very laid back, chill and happy people. Not depressed and anxious drug fiends as Gupta, the DEA and ONDCP would like to have you believe.

      Though he may be our next surgeon general, Gupta is a TV doctor with a few articles published in a few medical journals. His career in medicine is far from distinguished. I give him no more respect than i would give some one pretending to be a doctor on a soap opera.

    19. #19 |  MacGregory | 

      Nick:
      “If I was a high school english teacher and a student gave this to me as an essay, I’d give it a C+…”
      Agreed. I wouldn’t turn in that piece of shit as a rough draft. I read it three times thinking I was missing something. And this guy is a neurosurgeon? He couldn’t even get on my nerves with his words.

      Careful Michael Pack: You may be making an argument for banning books. I’m sure if I did enough research I could find at least one moron who was hit by a train or a car whilst reading a book.

    20. #20 |  John Jenkins | 

      @MacGregory: Natural selection being what it is, some of us would see that as a feature rather than a bug, though I would apply that to marijuana, cocaine, or whatever as well. Some people are going to abuse drugs (or whatever) to the point where they suffer terrible consequences. Some of those consequences will be externalities that affect people other than the abuser.

      As such, the common utilitarian argument for banning drugs must balance externalities of the drugs on one side (effects on the individual abuser should not be considered, since he or she freely chose to use the drugs in the first place) against (a) the loss of freedom to others who might use the drugs without abusing them; (b) the direct costs of enforcing the prohibition (time and attention of police, prosecutors and judges); and (c) the externalities related to prohibition (organized crime, dead weight loss associated with the increased cost of drugs, associated loss of freedom for everyone in the name of enforcing prohibition, etc.).

      In my experience, prohibitionists, without evidence, argue that the set of people described in clause (a) is empty and flatly ignore (b) and (c). They have never carried their burden of persuasion, yet, somehow drug laws were enacted and remain in place because most people just “know” that drugs are bad and no one should be allowed to use them. How you square that with the relatively common use of prescription drugs is beyond my meager reasoning.

    21. #21 |  John Harrold | 

      I don’t use iTunes because of the DRM. Is there any way to specify “Only buy songs that are DRM free”, How do I identify songs which are DRM free in the store (is it just by price)?

    22. #22 |  Nick T | 

      John Harrold. I have foudn that all of the MP3s at Rhapsody are DRM free.

      It’s great. I download the songs, they instantly appear in my WMP. I Sync them to my non-ipod MP3 player, and then I sync the same library from my MP3 player to my work computer for when I’m reviewing documents.

    23. #23 |  MacGregory | 

      @ John Jenkins. Nicely written.

      So basically, since (a) there are no people who might use the drugs without abusing them, (b) we don’t care what it costs and (c) any other indirect effects are inconsequential to the benefits the only logical conclusion is to ban drugs.
      Sheesh!

      Natural Selection is not often denied by government intervention

    24. #24 |  John Harrold | 

      That’s great for you Nick. I myself normally just use Amazon since they sell standard mp3s. Heck, most of the music I want I can easily find on news servers. However, since I use a mac, iTunes for managing my music, and an iPod for listening to it, I’m more likely to weight convenience over price. Given that, I would prefer to simply buy my songs through iTunes — hence the question about how this works in iTunes.

    25. #25 |  Andrew Williams | 

      I’d like to insert a large round metal rod into Sanjay Gupta’s nether regions. It wouldn’t do him harm–since that’s clearly where his excuse for a brain is–and it would do me a WORLD of good.

    26. #26 |  Danny | 

      John Harrold,

      “I don’t use iTunes because of the DRM. Is there any way to specify “Only buy songs that are DRM free”, How do I identify songs which are DRM free in the store (is it just by price)?”

      The DRM-free songs are currently identified by a “+” next to the track. I’m pretty sure that every song that is DRM-free is only available as such, but I could be wrong.

      I, too, prefer iTunes for the convenience. I also enjoy quite a few podcasts, and eventually want an iPhone for games and apps. Or perhaps just an iPod Touch. It’s just a great interface.

    27. #27 |  Jason | 

      “iTunes soon to be DRM-free.” About time, now they’ll get some of my business. The era of copyrighted music is probably about over though. Musicians will have to go back to singing for their supper.
      http://rightklik.net

    28. #28 |  John Harrold | 

      I have no problem with copyrighted music. I even have no problem with paying for music. I just don’t like it when I give them money for something that is cheaper that the more conventional medium (cds) and they a) charge me about the same price and b) give me a product that is crippled.

    29. #29 |  smurfy | 

      “Insert your own joke.”

      Hey, it’s not THAT small.

    30. #30 |  Sky | 

      There isn’t much that would surprise me about Hayne or West either for that matter.

    31. #31 |  Michael | 

      The choice of a neurosurgon, a HIHIGHLY SPECIALIZED PRACTIONONER

    32. #32 |  Rich | 

      Re: Flynt bailout

      I guess the recession has been hard on them too…

    33. #33 |  Michael | 

      The choice of a neurosurgeon, a HIGHLY SPECIALIZED PRACTITIONER, would be a bad choice. Why not use a Family Practice doctor, a general surgeon, or even better, an osteopathic general practitioner? They might have a better handle on the situation of poor people not being able to get, or afford medical care. (When most of the neurosurgeons are millionaires.?) I doubt that they have a good handle on how the poor are really faring in our country!

      When doctors let emotions and not science run their brains, then they have abandoned their education!

      Supporting prohibition just makes him an accomplice. He supports the criminal enterprise of drug dealing cartels. The, thirty year, war on drugs has failed to decrease supply. The drug war has made the cartels stronger and richer. Eventually it results in cheaper, and easier to obtain, drugs for our high school kids! The war has, also, lead to the deaths of over 5600 people, in Mexico, the past year,and close to, ten thousand in the past three years! Great success story, I’d say!

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