Archive for February, 2006

Hamas in power

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

So, the Palestinian parliament has convened, with Hamas in control. At, there are those who see this as a failure of the Bush policy to foster democracy in the Middle East. Those people are so shortsighted in their hatred of Bush and the Republicans. My response to one of their blinded-by-hate drones’ spiel:

Just because we want to foster democracy around the world does not mean that we must treat the democratic choices of the people equally. If the people of the Palestinian territories want to elect Hamas, we should definitely respect that choice as legitimate if it is indeed legitimate. But that does not mean that the United States is obligated to treat that government as an equal peer, nor that we must extend the same aid, support and policies as that applied to prior governments, nor that we even must extend diplomatic recognition to it. Endorsing the means of choosing a government in no way binds us in whether we choose to accept that government as one with which we will deal.

So, the people of Palestine are absolutely entitled to elect whomever they like. That is a fundamental human right. I’m quite happy to have seen a peaceful election with wide participation. Bravo. But their choices may come with consequences, and they need to weigh those consequences when they make their choices. If they don’t like the consequences of this choice, then they should take that into account at the next election. That’s democracy.

Bush and foreign originated/terminated surveilance: illegal?

Monday, February 13th, 2006

There are those, largely on the left but not entirely, who argue, quite strongly, that the Bush administration “broke the law” in regards to its warrantless surveilance program.

I have a few thoughts.

First, the President of the United States is not a Prime Minister in a parliamentary system. The office of President, and a number of his powers, exist entirely independently of the Congress. His office is a co-equal branch.

The idea that the President acted illegally because Congress passed a statute that proscribes particular actions, and the President acted contrary to those proscriptions, is simplistic. Congress doesn’t decide what the powers of the President are. Congress passes laws that he is charged with executing (though whether he MUST execute those laws has always been questionable). His powers, beyond those specifically enumerated in the Constitution, come into being as needed to execute those laws.

The President claims that he has an inherent power, derived from the Constitution’s Article II, Section 2 designation of the President as the “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,” to prosecute this current “war” as he deems appropriate.

The President is the Commander in Chief: he has the supreme power to direct the United States military. The Congress, as provided in Article I, Section 8, has the power “to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.” The constitutional question here is whether Congress has the power to regulate the actions of the military and executive in the prosecution of its military actions. Many, including I, would argue that it does not have the power to direct or regulate the tactical or strategic actions of the military. Those are not a part of “Government and Regulation.” Congress has been granted no power to determine where a President may bomb, who the generals may attack, when and where. Neither has Congress been granted a power to determine how a President may spy on the enemies of the nation.

The question ultimately revolves around whether the President’s program constitutes a “reasonable” search, per the 4th Amendment. And that is a question for the Judiciary. I believe that the Supreme Court, should it be called upon to decide this case, will strongly support the President.

Verizon represents idiots

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

In the Washington Post article Verizon Executive Calls for End to Google’s ‘Free Lunch’, Verizon’s John Thorne states “The network builders are spending a fortune constructing and maintaining the networks that Google intends to ride on with nothing but cheap servers. It is enjoying a free lunch that should, by any rational account, be the lunch of the facilities providers.”

Idiot. Either he doesn’t understand the architecture and the billing arrangements of the network we call the Internet, or, more likely, he is trying to influence those in position of power who do not understand it.

The network operators are in the business of building infrastructure and selling access to it. Much as a tollway provides access. A tollway does not care what is in your vehicle. It charges the same toll to every car. It charges the same toll to every truck of the same configuration.

Google purchases network connectivity from multiple network access providers. Those access providers in turn have agreements with other networks, such as Verizon, to exchange data with them. Now Verizon wants to charge Google and company, in addition to the fees Google pays to its network access providers, for the right to provide services to Verizon’s customers. Note: Verizon’s customers. Verizon’s customers pay Verizon for access to their network, and reasonably expect to be able access all other sites and services on the public, interconnected Internet.

Verizon is a special entity. Verizon, via its corporate ancestors, was provided with a unique opportunity, supported by government power, to possess a monopoly on communications services. It now wants to take the competitive advantage of being provided with a monopoly, call the network “its” network, and use it as a huge competitive advantage and market inhibiter. Verizon wants to convince people that it is only “fair” that its competitors build their own network, and not use Verizon’s. Verizon of course doesn’t want to mention that “its” network is the largess of government, not a competitive business environment.

If Verizon wants to compete with Google, then do so. Start up a corporation, and compete with Google on the same basis. Purchase network connectivity at market rates, and provide compelling services to customers. Go for it.