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Tabin Fever

Too hard on Tom DeLay? Readers rally. Also: Google's oodles. Post-Roberts. Plus much more.

9.30.05

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YOUR TAS FIX
Re: The New AmSpecBlog:

Thank you Wlady and the others for AmSpecBlog. This is nearly as good as being able to talk with you any time of the day about a breaking event. In fact, it's better because I'm not expected to make some inane rejoinder, thereby exposing my foolishness. Thanks again. I hope James Bowman will use the blog to write capsule reviews of more films.
-- J.R. Wheatley

REIGN DELAY
Re: John Tabin's The DeLay Opportunity:

Travis County D.A. Ronnie Earle is hardly a "prosecutor no-one has heard of before." He is in fact the prosecutor that was laughed out of court after trying for a couple of years to indict Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on equally spurious charges. He is very well known in Texas, and on record, for his determination to try and bring down any and all prominent Republican politicians within his jurisdiction. The only thing that puzzles me is that with his record of failure, why he gets re-elected.
-- Victoria Mitchell
Houston, Texas

What a disgraceful column written by John Tabin basically telling Republicans to throw Tom DeLay overboard. Where did this "writer" get his special report? It is sickening to see an article like this in The American Spectator. Perhaps Mr. Tabin would be more comfortable at the Nation with Katrina Vanden Heuvel. Shame, shame on The American Spectator. Mr. DeLay deserves better. This column is a smear and disgraceful attempt to undermine Mr. DeLay, who has done more for the Republican Party than even Newt Gingrich did. That is why he is a target, you pathetic hack.
-- M. Vail
Michigan

I must disagree with Mr. Tabin regarding the premise of his article. The Democrats for too long have been trying to compensate for their diminishing electoral base by sliming and smearing. Ronnie Earle has been an especially ardent participant though not particularly successful in these hijinks.

The Dems will continue on this path until they are made to pay. Now is as good a time as any. These charges seem particularly frivolous and if Mr. Earle is humiliated in court (as he was in his pursuit of Kay Bailey Hutchison) it will be a start. The problem with Senator Hutchison is she is too nice. After Earle put up the white flag, she went on her way. DeLay suffers from no such malady as being too nice and after he is exonerated will surely exact just vengeance.

The DeLay episode is rightly called an opportunity, but it is opportunity to begin to change the Dems' behavior on these matters. Let me end with a prediction. In a couple of years Tom DeLay will still be in office but Ronnie Earle won't.
-- Billy Watson
Garland, Texas

John Tabin leaves me perplexed. Temporary relinquishment of leadership? Republicans are actually thinking of reinstating him if he is acquitted? And railroaded? This district attorney or whoever indicted him has indicted lots of Democrats in the past for corruption -- were they railroaded, too, or does this just apply to Republicans?
-- Dan Robbins
Richmond, Virginia

Well, people in Texas have heard of Ronnie Earle. He went after our senior senator the same way and had his case thrown out. This was the sixth grand jury he had tried to get an indictment from and I guess six times is the charm. But I have to agree that DeLay is out of touch with spending and it will not hurt to have a new leader.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

Well, Mr. Tabin says in relation to Tom DeLay that Republicans should "hang him out to dry." Isn't that wonderful. Is Mr. Tabin a mole from the DNC? In the words of the last Dem that was hung out to dry by his "friends," "Beam me up, Scotty."

Has Mr. DeLay skated REAL close to the line at times? You betcha! On the other hand, has he been an effective Congressional leader against the Dems in and out of Congress? You betcha! In fact the ONLY reason that Mr. Earle went after him is BECAUSE he is effective. The State's Attorney in Palm Beach, Florida, would not be going after Rush Limbaugh because he was NOT effective, and the same applies to Tom DeLay.

I suppose that Mr. Tabin subscribes to the theory that we on the right must not really aggravate the Dems, including the MSM. More rope-a-dope. More timidity. More refusal to stand up for oneself and go toe to toe with the opponents. Maybe Mr. Blunt will eschew his name and be a better compromiser, right Mr. Tabin? Well, Mr. DeLay was an exterminator. He prefers to terminate the cockroaches and termites permanently.

As for Mr. DeLay's recent statements regarding government waste and over spending, he is very wrong. He is hewing to the White House and Congressional leadership line on the issue, but that is NOT a hanging offense. Just a slap upside the head and let him go on down the line terminating the hopes and ambitions of Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, who has done the same stuff and even more than DeLay, yet is exempt from prosecution or persecution even by Republicans.

Shame on you, Mr. Tabin, shame. You are obviously a gutless weenie in the face of serious challenge from the partisan Dems. Chuckie Schumer needs a hug, Mr. Tabin. You can handle that, right?
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

I do not think the 60 day provision under Section 253.104 (with respect to corporate donations for certain party activities) is what Earle is going on but rather the general prohibition on corporate funding of Texas state campaigns under Section 253.094. Having said that, it appears that in the situation described no corporation contributed to a Texas state campaign.

That the corporations contributed corporate money to a Texas PAC which in turn made a contribution to an RNC fund and that the RNC from a separate fund of non-corporate contributions made a contribution to the Texas state campaigns may have a relationship but they are not prohibited by the Texas statute.
-- John Keohane

"Whether or not he's actually dirty, Republicans should let him hang out to dry." Well. I can only pray that I'll never have to rely on John Tabin to support anyone for whom I care on a matter of principle, law, or justice, should such a stance appear to him to be less than pragmatic at the moment.

Speaking of pragmatism, is it really necessary to point out the folly of caving to the "abuse of power by a politically motivated prosecutor"?
-- Robin Boult
Murfreesboro, Tennessee

"Whether or not he's actually dirty, Republicans should let hang him out to dry."

This is logically absurd.
-- Tony Hill
Frog Pond, North Carolina

John Tabin's column on "dumping DeLay" does great disservice to conservatives. One might not favor DeLay for any number of reasons, putting aside the facts that he and his wife have adopted several handicapped children, and the fact that the Republicans have continued to grow their majority under DeLay's leadership. However, Republicans are historically weak in defending their own: look at the Bork nomination for example, or for that matter our present president and his policies. One might reasonably ask where Republican support is hiding? Democrats don't devour their own: the entire democrat caucus would have gone down with the SS Clinton. Democrats attack the president, they attack Secretary Rice, they attack Justice Thomas, et al., and the Republican caucus is SILENT. Surely, one knows that the coordinated attack on DeLay is an attack on the president. Surely, conservatives, if they can't support DeLay, can at least keep their opinions and their mouths shut to keep from providing succor to the Democrats.
-- Jack Griffith

Today Mr. Tabin Wrote: "Two weeks ago he generated peals of laughter from sea to sea when he said that 'nobody has been able to come up with any' fat to cut out of the federal budget to offset post-Katrina rebuilding costs, and that 'after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good.' These are the words of a leader who is either boldly dishonest or who has simply lost touch with reality. I wrote last week about the good politics and good policy of efforts to prove DeLay wrong, including the Republican Study Committee's 'Operation Offset.'"

A different take on DeLay's comments were offered in your reader mail section a while back that I happen to agree with. It seems to me and others that DeLay's comments were actually razor sharp sarcasm aimed at slicing and dicing those politicians who refused to relinquish their pet pork. He was simply saying that if these pork projects were so important, they must not be pork at all but rather "necessary spending," which of course is absurd. I think DeLay did an excellent job of illustrating that absurdity by being absurd. Thus these "good policy efforts" you describe are proving DeLay to be right, not wrong. That so few conservatives lack the humor to understand this concerns me immensely.
-- Chuck Lazarz
Reading, Pennsylvania

I know that the intent here wasn't to "pile on," but most conservatives/libertarians, including Mr. Tabin, should remember that Mr. DeLay has been instrumental in getting much of the work of this administration done -- tax cuts, military support, and earlier, welfare reform. And I agree that the recent quotes referred to, "nobody has been able to come up with any" fat to cut out of the federal budget to offset post-Katrina rebuilding costs, and that "after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good…" weren't reassuring to those of us who still believe that we're spending way too much on thousands of needless things. But I've got to remind all of you who can't wait to throw Mr. DeLay to the sharks that we did that with Newt Gingrich, and Bob Livingston, and Trent Lott. And it looks like we're doing it to Rick Santorum. And what is all this buying us? Cooperation and respect from the Democratic left? Get a grip.

We're playing beanbag, while they're playing hardball. They stand together and rarely criticize each other, and we can't wait to pick ourselves to death! Please. I've been ashamed to realize that, for a number of years, we've done a remarkably efficient job of shooting our own wounded. Can't those on our side who are so quick to point fingers at Mr. DeLay remember Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment?
-- Tim Jones
Cordova, Tennessee

Congratulations, Mr. Tabin. You have helped hand the Democrats another political victory that they could not win at the ballot box. Yes, let's throw another effective conservative leader to the wolves to appease the left. Maybe then they will not be as nasty to us. And if DeLay's scalp won't be enough, how about Senator Frist? And if Senator Frist is not enough, how about the next judicial nominee? When will beltway Republicans learn that throwing our leaders to the wolves will never satisfy Democrats. They want power back, and people like you with these columns indicating that we can let our most effective leaders hang out to dry all by themselves will eventually make sure that this happens. But at least you may get invited to D.C. cocktail parties for being a "progressive" Republican.
-- Dan Sudlik
Somers, New York

UNADULTERATIONS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Google and the Guild:

I hereby solemnly swear that any time I cut and paste, email or plagiarize any of your articles I will not alter, delete, bend, spindle, or fold any of the content (I have far too much respect for your writing to do otherwise).
-- Ed Callahan
La Habra, California

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. points out that Google books may be adulterated.

I wish he had also pointed out how real and immediate this concern is, given how Google (and Yahoo and Microsoft) have been so easily persuaded to engage in censorship on behalf of the Chinese government. Would they do any less for the Clintons/Bushes?
-- John Gorentz
Battle Creek, Michigan

Mr. Tyrrell has hit the point of the objection to what Google proposes. When an author has a work copyrighted, it is then his work to disseminate in the manner he chooses until the copyright expires and the work enters the public domain. What the copyright laws prohibit is unauthorized duplication of the work and the dispensing of these duplications. This is a bit simplistic, but basically accurate.

Google proposes to create an unauthorized duplicate of a copyrighted work and dispense it via the Internet, without compensation to the copyright holder. This is, of course, illegal and Google's legal staff should know this. Trying to portray Google as a lending library is ludicrous. There is no comparison. If you check out a copy of a work from a lending library, you are expected to return it. Furthermore, that copy has been purchased by the library and a royalty paid to the author. While it is true that someone could physically copy the work and disseminate those copies, it would most likely cost more to do that than it would to purchase a published copy of the work and it would illegal. In the case of electronic files, they can be copied and dispensed for literally nothing, thereby destroying any incentive one might have to purchase the work, legally.

Now many authors publish some, or all, of their work electronically and make it freely available online. They do this by choice and it is given to the world by them, not stolen from them. Someday it may be possible to "lend" a work electronically that is secure from unauthorized duplication, but that is not possible at the moment. Until it is, there can be no such thing as an electronic library without the willing participation of the authors of the disseminated works.

His other point concerning adulteration of copied works is also valid. As anyone who has ever written a letter to the editor knows, your published work may bear little or no resemblance to what you wrote (TAS is an exception to this, printing complete letters without editing). Copying electronically stored works geometrically increases your chances of getting not only an adulterated work, but a complete fabrication or forgery.

Google will lose, I am sure. But, this action will drastically expand electronic, and Internet, "publishing." This will drive down prices of published works and give authors a much wider exposure. Something that is good for the reader and the writer, the publisher and, unfortunately, the attorney.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Your article certainly raises a concern that I am sure many have. But I think you are targeting the wrong problem.

Yes a book as a physical manifestation of thought is tamper proof. But I don't think that really addresses the issue, for up to a point the Internet content itself is tamper proof. The problem is, as I see it, does the content present a truth or a falsehood or down-right erroneous? That problem lies in both Internet and physical forms of communication. If it did not, then publishers would not be issuing corrected third editions of textbooks! All I need do is mention any Kitty Kelly book of late and I think you know what I mean.

But let's address the concept of tampering. There are ways to solve that problem. In the IT development world software is provided on the Internet as "packages" for download. Associated with those packages are what are called MD5 checksums that are provided by the author to assure the person downloading a package that when complete the checksum offered matches the checksum completed. A match assures no tampering. That capability could be included by content providers and validated by an extension added to a reader's Internet browser. Another way is for authors to publish their finished work in a .PDF format. This is an immutable form of publishing reasonably free of tampering. The tool is available to the reader for free from Adobe. Those tools exist.

As to Google, lacking an understanding of their motives, it may be a good thing or a very bad idea. But I am afraid that the genie is already out of the bottle. Go to Amazon.com and in their book section many of the selections offered contain excerpts from the book itself. Amazon has been doing this for approximately two years. Keep in mind that according to copyright law in the U.S. there is the concept of "fair use" of copyrighted material. That is, within reason, free of any intent to rip off the author/publisher; I may freely reference or copy contents of a copyrighted work. The purpose of such exclusion was an effort by the Founders to "…extend and advance the arts and sciences." So the issue goes to Google's intent. If they freely permit searching volumes without an extensive ability to download the content, then most likely it falls under Fair Use rules. If on the other hand I can copy down the entire contents of a Tom Clancy novel, then clearly that over steps the bounds of copyright protections.

In your last paragraph, a perception needs to be destroyed. The Napster case has been so misrepresented as to be laughable. Who was Napster sued by? Not the individual artists, but by the RIAA. Who does the RIAA represent? Publishers: Sony, MGM, AOL-TimeWarner. Don't fall into the "woe is the poor artist" trap. That was big money publisher interests trying to protect their turf from technological encroachment. The publishers know that their monopoly on the distribution channel is coming to an end. Supply chain collapse has happened in multiple industries and they know as a middleman they are ripe pickings to be squeezed out of new content. Lest you think all is well with the artist-publisher connection I might suggest a perusal of Janis Ian's website as an eye opener.

Digital technology has made it possible for the artist themselves to do their own CD publishing. Being a jazz fan, many of the artists that I like now publish their works under their own labels. What once took $200,000 of equipment now can be done with $10,000 of mics and a computer. The CD is premastered right off the PC. The same can now be said for many books. Glenn Reynolds, owner/proprietor of the InstaPundit blog, has an interesting article on the price collapse of video production at Popular Mechanics. His wife completed a video production, edited the final, and distributed it for sale on the Internet for the paltry sum of $25,000. The point? Big production houses days of the $500 lunch are nearing an end. The suits don't like that, lacking the skill to create, their hold on the industry is slipping away. I need only point out that all the hue and cry about Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ was less about religion as it was Hollywood ranting "how dare you" attempt to produce a movie without us. And the suits should be scared: The Passion, $30 million to produce, grossed over $600 million worldwide in first release.

The battle the Guild is trying to fight is a losing one. Stewart Brand is quoted that "information wants to be free." Free it may not be, but cheap it should. When it is possible to publish a book to CD for a $1, I buy it for $5 and the author sells a million copies that way without the middleman. That is certainly a wonderful win-win for all involved except the publishing houses. That is what this battle will be about, the protection of turf and profits.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

I can't wait to hack Google's books and add information, ads, and pix to them. Perhaps I'll remove all the vowels to shorten them. I dub this new creative endeavor re-authoring.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

JUDGE NOT
Re: David Hogberg's The Fight Next Time:

Mr. Hogberg's article is indeed on the mark. Virtually everything conservatives try to accomplish is tarred by the liberal officials and their liberal press "running dogs" as either racist (hurricane relief), establishing a state religion (I think even attending church as an individual is now included in this, though an exception was carved out for Mr. Clinton when he was counseled for serial adultery by the adulterer Mr. Jackson), and finally the often-used subjugation of women. This last one is a catch phrase for any activity which isn't neatly fitted into one of the former titles. This could be something as patently unreasonable as requiring notice to a custodial parent prior to your 13 year old daughter having an abortion -- "interference with her 'reproductive rights.'"

I wonder why conservatives don't fire back with similar illogical zeal. After all, the liberal populace thrives on this pap. Why not chastise people like Senators Kennedy, Boxer, etc., for desiring to stop Americans from freedom of expression in that they seek to prohibit free discussion of religion? Last night I listened to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) trying to explain to Larry King why Democrats are wrong to demand DeLay's resignation. She relies on that old-fashioned notion there should be a trial before the guilty verdict is rendered. You know, what Congress gave to Mr. Clinton. But neither Democratic activists nor Mr. King would be swayed. Let us then discuss, loudly and everywhere, that Democrats want to take away our right to a jury trial.

We need ask only WWDD? What Would Democrats Do? Then act accordingly.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

I agree with the thought of Mr. Hogberg. However, under his "Unheralded Hero" point, I would like to point out that Mark Dayton is not running for reelection. Many here in Minnesota believe he could not have won anyway due to his fleeing Washington around Christmas last year. He had received an intelligence briefing about a "terrorist attack" that no other senator could seem to recall and thought that it was unsafe to keep his staff in the city.
-- Keith
Minnesota

I think we should think about impeaching a couple of the judges we have now that want to use foreign law and apply it to our Constitution.

Very interesting article Mr. Hogberg, lot to think about in it.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

I would like to outlandishly suggest, that in nominating a successor for Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court, no consideration be given to gender or race. I know this goes against those fair-minded individuals that feel a woman should replace a woman, or that some minority be "given" an opportunity, only because they are a minority.

May the most competent person be selected, PERIOD.
-- Joseph Sheppard
Marietta, Georgia

Mr. Hogberg's analysis is essentially correct. The President's move to elevate Chief Justice Roberts (how sweet the sound) to the Rehnquist seat was sheer brilliance. The Dems had played their hand and were reduced to their pathetic assertion that elevation to C.J. changed the dynamics of the confirmation hearings. Oh yeah, that really worked well. Sure I'd have loved a Thomas or Scalia, but the fight wasn't worth it. Much to their shame, the Dems did manage this puny and petty victory. What statesmanship! Put Harry Reid on Mt. Rushmore for this one. However, Mr. Hogberg, don't fall for the D.C. smartest-guy-in-the-room analysis that Leahy and some other Dems, by voting with the majority, have insulated themselves from the partisan label come the next round. Every Dem vote came after exhaustive examination of the political calculus for each of them, i.e. Hillary, Biden and the "red state" Dems. Leahy's vote might just have come out of spite for Reid. You can bet on one thing, they will all be bare knuckled next round, Constitutional option or not. Don't over-think this. Just enjoy Bush's final nail in the liberal hegemony on the Supreme Court.
-- A. DiPentima

I guess this means the "hapless" arroyo toad is really screwed now.
-- Sean Higgins
Washington D.C.

CRYBABY
Re: George Neumayr's The Crying Game:

I saw right through Broussard on Meet the Press with his first FAKE bawling act, along with my thought, why didn't Russert ask Broussard, "How did she drown on Friday when the flood was on Monday?"

I've always admired Russert, but he is batting a minus 10 right now with me, and I will NEVER EVER trust him again.
-- Ruthie A.

And are you also aware of Rep. Jefferson's use of the helicopter to remove his personal belongings from his house?
-- Peggy Myers
Branson, Missouri

FUZZY TUNNEL MATH
Re: Bill Vardoulis's letter (under "Free Market Highway") in Reader Mail's Cry Me a River and Bill Whalen's Tunnel Vision:

Please convey my apologies to Mr. Bill Vardoulis, if indeed his assertions about the California Big Dig project are correct. Still, I remain skeptical. To service a debt of $15.8 billion over 50 years at an interest rate equal to historic inflation rate of 4% would take a yearly income of about $319 million dollars. Assuming that there are eight functioning lanes and that one tunnel is a service tunnel, every lane needs to generate $109,251 per day. The upper limit of highway capacity is about 2000 cars per hour per lane, except in California where tailgating is legendary, so it is really about 2200 per lane per hour, without toll booths, of course. At three dollars a trip, the minimum traffic per lane would have to be 1517 per hour per lane 24/7 for 50 years. This assumes no wrecks, no new pavement every ten years, a special U.N. brokered agreement with al Qaeda not to turn this into the world's longest gas chamber, no stopping to pay tolls, it costing nothing to collect the toll and the sale of rock pretty much washes out to zero. I could be wrong, but all of the accounting mechanisms that have generated a history of underestimating the cost and over estimating the traffic and benefits are still in place, trumpeted as "good practice" by the FHWA and costing the taxpayer mobility.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

COLORBLIND HEARTS
Re: Ben Stein's A Big Lie Put to Rest:

I am so glad that someone is writing and letting the people of New Orleans know that we all open our hearts to their needs....
-- Jo Nell Wilson
Lafayette, Louisiana

Once again Mr. Stein is right on the money -- well done....

George W. Bush is a great President.
-- Brian Brumfield

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