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

Month: November 2008 Page 2 of 8

Guns Don’t Kill People, Presidents Do

A thoughtful column from Cenk Ungyar that jumps off from this Newsweek graf:

As NEWSWEEK reported last summer, President Bush approved more relaxed rules of engagement for U.S. forces along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The Pentagon once required “90 percent” confidence on the part of intelligence agencies that a “high-value target” was present before approving Predator strikes inside Pakistan. Under the revised rules, U.S. officials on the ground now need only 50 to 60 percent confidence to shoot at compounds suspected of sheltering foreign fighters, according to knowledgeable U.S. sources who would speak of sensitive matters only anonymously.

Obama will be responsible for killing people in the next four years, too.  Here’s hoping* that he’s a more thoughtful human being about it than Bush.

*For the world’s sake, not his.  I suspect that the more thoughtful a human you are about that aspect of the job, the more you will personally suffer for it.

Security Theater (That Matters)

Pakistan’s Army is practising shooting down unmanned drones.  You know, like the US military uses.  The Danger Room story notes:

The U.S. and Pakistan supposedly have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreement when it comes to killer drone strikes on militant camps inside the country: American officials stay mum about the attacks, and their counterparts in Islamabad only complain a little — while sneaking peeks at the drone surveillance feeds.

Here’s hoping that that’s the case.  As I have said here – over and over again, I know – I don’t think there’s any role that the US can usefully play in the stabilising of Pakistan.  At the same time, I don’t begrudge the US taking very narrowly targeted action in certain cases (e.g., 110% verified, high value, strategic targets taking advantage of Pakistan’s borders).  No matter what, however, I think it is essential that the US not be seen as meddling in Pakistan’s internal affairs (which was one of the many reasons I was disappointed with Obama on the subject of Pakistan during the campaign).  If it takes a bit of lying on everyone’s part, that’s okay.

Weekend Music: Greatest Love of All Edition

The opening track comes from the first cassette I ever purchased myself:

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That was downright demure in comparison to the next:

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The last was a little schlocky, but c’mon, it was a good bit of fun.  The last one skips the obvious for some.  Not for others.  Whether it’s NSFW depends on that distinction, I suppose:

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(Last track was Romantic Death, by The Sun)

This is What Money to Burn Looks . . .


Awesome and nauseating, all at the same time.

Lori Drew Case: On Track to Make Bad Law

I am shocked the Lori Drew case actually went to trial – opening statements took place yesterday.  I wrote about this case back in August:

The Lori Drew case is a case full of disgusting facts – appalling adult behavior (on all sides) contributed to circumstances that drove a young girl to suicide.  One of those adults is now being prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for violating the MySpace.com terms of use agreement.  That’s right, Federal prosecutors are trying to treat not complying with those ridiculous click-through agreements on nearly every web site you use as a crime.  Thankfully not everyone is losing their mind over this (horrible) situation, and the EFF, Public Citizen, and others have stepped in with an amicus brief demonstrating just what a bad idea this is.

I haven’t followed things closely, but given what a stretch it is to apply the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to these facts, I assumed it was going to settle.  Because truly, who would expect we were about to move into a world that made it a Federal crime to fill out a website user registration form with anything other than your true and personal information.  And yet we’ll take a big step toward that being the case if Lori Drew is convicted.  And with the facts being presented to the jury, I think that’s a very real possibility.

More background on the case itself here.

Friday Notes: Expectations Edition

Not entirely sure what to think of Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano at DHS, but knowing that she is generally smart on immigration and was instrumental in the effort to knock down the REAL ID Act is encouraging.


Glad to know that even the President Elect shouldn’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy with Verizon.


A money bet against this not being executed well is probably a safe one.


Iceland – a textbook case of the benefits of massive deregulation.


More on this later, but in case that turns out to be a lot later, I wanted to highlight this good piece on managing current expectations by rewriting the past.  The site, in general, is worth spending some time on.

And Waxman Takes the Gavel

And Rep. Henry Waxman will be heading up the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  This is encouraging in a number of ways.  First, we’ll have a person shaping the energy policy debate that isn’t wedded to Detroit.  Second, Waxman is not afraid of looking – and moving – into the future.  Finally, that Dingell – a longstanding House power – could be displaced bodes well for those of us who think that more than seniority should determine power structure.

(None of this should be taken to say that I don’t think highly of Dingell.  Waxman is simply more of what we need in that position, right now.)


Pardon Watch

Senator Russ Feingold kicks it off.  Personally, I think we’ve reached a point where it is has been so abused as to merit a complete revisiting of it.  At a minimum, it ought to be subject to a legislative override – perhaps by a supermajority.  The exercise of the pardon should be an act of mercy, not a service to self and friends.

The Future of “News”

The New York Observer has an interesting few pages on CNN’s enormous spending on things that have very little, if anything, to do with actual newsgathering or analysis.  And it reminds me that I can’t remember the last time I watched CNN or turned to CNN.com for actual news.  I’m sure I’ve tuned into it to catch a live feed, but that was probably more a function of being the next channel in the progression than anything else.   To be sure, CNN has a greater actual capacity to do original reporting around the planet than most any other organization I can think of.  Yet for all of that reach, they manage to filter it in such a way that it’s about a half inch deep by the time it hits your screen.   Their solution to that?  Will.i.am fake holograms and prettier graphics.

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