Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Month: December 2006 Page 3 of 4

Defeat a Democrat. Please.

This Friday, Rep. William “Dollar Bill/Cold Hard Cash/Etc.” Jefferson (D-LA) will face Karen Carter in a run-off for the House seat representing Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. Now, I know LA has its own special tradition of crooks in office, but even this guy is too much to take. He’s a horrible embarrassment, to his state, community, and (hopefully) even himself.

Administration All Stars

TPM Muckraker is putting together a list of Bush Administration officials who have managed to distinguish themselves in the last six years. Thus far, the list includes:

those who were indicted for crimes (9), those who resigned amidst ethics/corruption investigations (13), and those who were too crooked or ethically compromised to get confirmed by the Republican senate (3).

Adding to their distinction is that they managed to accomplish this in an environment with almost no Congressional oversight. Just imagine the next Congress’ All Star team . . .

Gov. Kaine Delays an Execution

The execution of Percy Walton has been stayed for 18 months, under an order from Gov. Tim Kaine, who explained that:

I am compelled to conclude that Walton is severely mentally impaired and meets the Supreme Court’s definition of mental incompetence. Because one cannot reasonably conclude that Walton is fully aware of the punishment he is about to suffer and why he is to suffer it, his execution cannot proceed at this time.

At the same time, it is within the realm of possibility – though unlikely – that Walton’s mental impairment is not permanent. Accordingly, a commutation of his sentence is not appropriate at this time. Rather, continued observation of Walton’s condition over a more extended period of time is the appropriate course of action.

As Vivian Paige rightly notes, pro-death penalty activists will probably slam Kaine for this. I think that Kaine ought to be commended for ignoring the usual public thirst for blood and taking a solid step towards determining whether or not Walton truly is capable of understanding his punishment. I, of course, would rather see the death sentence commuted (I am against the death penalty in all matters), but I think this is a good step, both in the moral and political senses.

For more on this case, and Virginia’s death penalty in general, see Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Everyone should have a tinfoil hat

You know the people we used to make fun of? The ones who insisted on PGP encryption for “See you at the bar around 8:30” emails? If we’re smart, we’ll be getting more like them, sooner than later. The LA Times helps us understand why:

IN THE LATEST illustration of the Bush administration’s disregard for your privacy, the Justice Department is trying to convince a panel of federal judges that the FBI should be free to read your e-mail without obtaining a warrant.

It’s not all your e-mail — only messages left on a Web-based system such as Hotmail or on your Internet service provider’s computers. A 1986 law forbids the interception and disclosure of e-mail and other online transmissions without a warrant. But there is an exception. If the messages are more than 180 days old, they can be obtained merely with a subpoena or a court order, which investigators can obtain more easily than a warrant.

Now the Justice Department is arguing, in a case before an appeals court in Ohio, that even new messages can be obtained without a warrant if their intended recipient has already read them. The Justice Department views an opened e-mail left on a service provider’s computer as more like a postcard left on a table than a sealed letter in a drawer. Which is to say, its owner has no reasonable expectation of privacy.

To be fair, law enforcement’s disregard for privacy isn’t unique to the present administration. But they’ve certainly taken it farther than any administration so far. And don’t count on Congress, Democrat-controlled or not, to roll it back. There are some folks dedicated to the good fight up there (Sen. Leahy, for the most part), but most politicians couldn’t give a damn about your privacy.

Go on . . .

Isla Taboga – 1999

take the money and run.

Someone please shut Joe Biden (D-MBNA) up, please.

Sen. Biden is at it again. He just doesn’t know when to stop talking, and I wish someone would help him with that problem. It would be doing all of us a service.

So much for the global Internet

So, I’m trying to put together a trip that involves a Europe to South Asia segment. I don’t give a @#!) about using US carriers – all I want is a search result containing the various flights between, say, Frankfurt, Germany and Karachi, Pakistan. You’d think it would be easy, with the relatively mature technologies of Expedia, Travelocity, or Kayak.

No go. Not at all.

And everything else I’m finding is all single-country-centric (e.g., makemytrip.com, which I would recommend for anything involving India). But what do you do when you’re trying to get to a market that is relatively underserved?

I refuse to call a travel agent.

Democratic Sellout

Almost literally.

Appalling. There’s no settlement value for the democratic process.

(For background, there’s none better than these guys.)

A sense of perspective

How many Americans, a year, die from acts of terrorism? Well, if you limit it to US soil, just a few people, since 2001. (Worldwide, excluding soldiers in combat, you might rise to 10 a year. Maybe.)

What is the US government doing about it? Well, it started at least one unnecessary war, got 3000 US soliders killed, ripped the Constitution to shreds, and has driven the budget deficit to record levels.

How many Americans, a year, die in truck-related accidents? About 5000 a year.

What is the US government doing about it? Weakening safety regulations.

Missing Summer

On the other side of the world, Sunday mornings are quite pleasant, this time of year.

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