Buy this book

How would a Patriot Act, by Glen Greenwald. Glen writes one of the best blogs out there, Unclaimed Territory. Since I discovered him about a month ago, it is my one true read every day. No one has done more to lay out the case against the Bush administrations radical seizure of power and disregard of law. Always clear, always factual, always based on evidence, his blog demonstrates that strong beliefs do not supercede clear reasoning and analysis. This book has not even been published yet , and is currently #1 on Amazon’s Top Seller list. I will be ordering my copy soon, and might even get a couple extra for some lloyal readers. This is the kind of book that is worthy of your attention, financial support, and media attention that a best-seller gets.

An alarming rundown of how voting works

I don’t buy into all the conspiracy stuff, but you don’t have to believe all of it to realize something is very wrong.
20 voting machine facts

…and if you haven’t noticed, something is wrong the comment counter. Ever since my WordPress “upgrade”, comments are correctly saved and posted, but the links to them always show “no comments”. Don’t you believe it!

The ship, she is a sinking

1) The recent criticisms by a parade of former generals of Rumsfeld and Bush’s Iraq strategy leave Bush in a bind. The GOP has spent the last 5 years telling eveyone who criticizes their policies that they are traitors, and don’t support the troops. Any opponents are painted as not only wrong, but anti-patriotic, anti-military, and harmful to national security and the soldiers in the field. A gutsy attack considering the past (lack of) military history of Bush Cheney etc., and their opponents in the last two elections.

Ah, but the generals! What do you do!? When they criticize, you can’t accuse them of not supporting the troops. You can’t claim they are anti-america. It leaves the GOP in a bind, because there is no response that doesn’t instanly set off the BS meter of everyone in the country.

The Bush Administration is caught in a logical trap. Enemies of the regime are automatically traitors. They do not support the troops. Therefore, the generals are traitors. But the troops logically support the troops! And the generals are the troops! Does not compute! Does not compute!

P.S. I wanted to put a good exploding robot picture here, but couldn’t find one.

2) I heard EJ Dionne speak on NPR the other day, and he brought up the same point as he did in his recent column.

As one outside adviser to the administration said, the danger of a Democratic takeover of at least one house of Congress looms large and would carry huge penalties for Bush. The administration fears “investigations of everything” by congressional committees, this adviser said, and the “possibility of a forced withdrawal from Iraq” through legislative action.

Josh Marshall has some good commentary on this, but I think doesn’t hammer home the central point. Has there ever been an election cycle where the overriding goal of a party is coverup? It’s simply incredible, that their whole election strategy could be driven by the need to make sure no one finds out what they’ve been doing. And is that quote a tacit admission that there is enough rotten stuff going on that it will be easy to launch “investigations of everything”? It’s interesting that the source didn’t pick out one or two areas that might get investigated, but said everything.

3) Talk of impeachment is now acceptable, and covered by the mainstream media (MSM). In three states (Illinois, Maine, California), legislators have taken the legal steps to begin impeachment. (If 3/4 of the states approve motions, then that begins the process.) I suppose the fact that even Fox has Bush’s popularity at 33% have given a bit of spine to some legislators. None of these motions have been passed, and none are likely to. In fact, the ones I saw were clearly written to score political points, not to lay out the legal case for impeachment. Nonetheless, it is telling that this is now becoming part of the center of politics.
Late Update: Vermont joins the list.

That’s how they get you: Circuit City

Today, I finally went wireless. Yes, this is being written on a laptop, located well over four feet from the antenna. Whoa Nellie, that’s some cutting edge stuff! I got the router at Circuit City. I told the salesman what I needed, and he showed me two boxes. Once was the standard unit ($50), one was some kind of supercharged one ($119).

Him: How many square feet is your house?
Me: What?
Him: How big is it, how many feet?
Me: Um, a few thousand.
Him: OK, you need this one then [the deluxe one]
Me: Ahrm [while I puzzle this out in my head]. Ahrumm… [I ponder some math, while pretending to examine the features, which is ridiculous since I obviously don’t know anything about routers.] So, what’s the range on this one [pointing to the standard one]
Him: It covers a smaller area.
Me: Yeah, so what’s the radius?
Him: Well, it’s not shaped like that, it’s broadcasting like this [he draws a big circle in the air]
Me: I know what circles are. So, what’s the radius of the broadcast?
Him: About 1500 feet across, so it’s not enough for your house, you need the other one, it’s 3,000.
Me: [On solid ground now] I don’t think I do, I’ll take this one [the basic]

For those who aren’t following along, the salesman had done two tricky things. One is silly, the square footage of a house doesn’t really tell you how big the square feet it actually covers is. You need to know how many floors it has. The other is the real doozy, mixing up linear and square feet.

Consider a circle with diameter of 1,500 ft (The salesman also mixed up diameter and radius). That’s almost a quarter mile across. It’s safe to say my house is not that big. If you do the math (Area=pi*radius-squared), it covers 1.75 million square feet. I think it’s safe to say anyone who shows up at Circuit City to buy a wireless router does not have a house that big. I doubt the CEO of Circuit City has a house that big. Bunch of crooks.

Three cheers for DeKalb County

My favorite political candidate ever is Howard Stern. His platform was very simple, consisting of:

  1. Bring back the death penalty
  2. All road construction to be done at night
  3. Then resign

The road construction is the interesting one. It goes without saying that Howard Stern would be a terrible public official (thus the resignation). But he put his finger on something — that it’s easy for governments to forget what is important in day-to-day life. Highway construction isn’t as important as a balanced budget, income equality, povery, literacy, etc., but in an average day I’m more affected by construction schedules.

Which brings me to my own local government, DeKalb County. In all my “everyday” interactions, I have always been impressed. I have called different departments about trash disposal, taxes, becoming a notary, buying a tax lien property, and more. Every time, I have been able to talk to a knowledgeable, polite human being in a reasonable time. This is no small feat.

They recently changed out the water meter for my house. To do this, they had to dig a large patch out of my front lawn. They replanted the whole area. It’s the best looking part of my lawn.

This week, they have been going through our whole street laying fiber optic cable for the school system. To do this, every 15 feet or so, they dig through whoevers lawn they happen to be at, about 4 feet deep, and using air hoses, wire, rope, and a lot of human sweat, lay a 6″ flexible tube through the ground. I was very impressed by the amount of thought and energy that had gone into minimizing the disruption to the homeowners and their property. All the holes were carefully filled in, tamped in with some neato jackhammerish tool. They then took the grass chunks they had placed off to one side, and rebuilt the lawn as it was before. The degree of care they took lengthened their work day by at least 30%. So far, it looks like it will only be a few more days and no one will be able to tell the trauma my lawn underwent.

Of all the counties I could have been in,
I say Hooray for the one I’m in!

(bonus points if any non-parents can name that quote…)

McKinney cries wolf

Georgia’s own Cynthia McKinney is fighting the establishment once again. It’s a coin flip with her — she says things no one else will say. Sometimes she’s right, often she’s wrong. This time she’s very wrong.

The issue at hand is a recent incident at the Capitol building. She was physically grabbed by the police, she hit one of them back, they are considering arresting her. More details: Representatives do not have to go through standard security procedures. McKinney went in through the special route, the police did not recognize her as a Rep, the rest followed.

A couple days ago, McKinney called a press conference to claim the whole thing is based on racism, and that she has often been singled out. The NYT printed this without much comment, though they did use the least flattering picture one could imagine.

So far, I was inclined toward McKinney’s side. But ah, there was one small detail buried within…

Ms. McKinney, a lawmaker known for provocative statements, acknowledged that she had not been wearing the lapel pin that would have identified her as a member of Congress. But she said the police responsible for protecting lawmakers should recognize them on sight

With a little more digging, one can see the same stance back in 2002. “the Capitol Police pinned a picture of McKinney to an office wall, warning officers to learn her face because she refuses to wear her member’s pin.”

It’s simple.  She broke the rules. The onus is on her to wear the lapel pin, the onus is not on every security guard at the capitol to know 435 representatives by sight. Which, by the way, seems like a bit of a high standard. Does she imagine they should be training every night with a face book, and calling emergency all nighters after every election to get to know the new ones? How on earth is this racism, or even an issue? It’s just common sense. If I refuse to wear my badge at work, I can’t expect security to know who I am and treat me like someone special. She’s exhibiting the kind of arrogance and lack of accountability that she would rightly condemn in a GOP politician.