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

Month: September 2009 Page 1 of 4

Healthcare Reform, As Explained On The Back Of A Napkin

Okay, a stack of napkins.  But still, I think this is great:

(Yes, it’s a rather simplistic explanation, but it still carries more information than 98% of the people jabbering on about it do, I think.)

Credit to Shaun @ IsCool for highlighting this.

You Wish Your Freshman Orienation . . .

would have been this much fun:


(All supposedly done in a single take, at that.  Even if not, how cool is this?)

All Evidence to the Contrary

A well done short piece exploring the significant difference between the desire to have been right and the desire to be right.

Sunday Makeover: She/He Wolf Edition

Too good to wait until Wednesday. First off, click on Shakira’s She Wolf video (not shared here because her record label hates its customers). Then hit play on the (video) cover below.


Love it. More about the covering artist here.


Brilliant, beginning to end.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Blackwashing
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Protests

Robert Kaplan on Al Jazeera

He’s got a pretty solid piece up about the channel, and much of it aligns with my reasons for regularly recommending the channel to others.

A Random Act of Good Government

This is perfect:

The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to “any organization” that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.

Now stop and think about that.  Better yet, read the text of the bill (which has passed both the House and Senate):


(a) Prohibitions- With respect to any covered organization, the following prohibitions apply:

(1) No Federal contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or any other form of agreement (including a memorandum of understanding) may be awarded to or entered into with the organization.

(2) No Federal funds in any other form may be provided to the organization.

(3) No Federal employee or contractor may promote in any way (including recommending to a person or referring to a person for any purpose) the organization.

(b) Covered Organization– In this section, the term `covered organization’ means any of the following:

(1) Any organization that has been indicted for a violation under any Federal or State law governing the financing of a campaign for election for public office or any law governing the administration of an election for public office, including a law relating to voter registration.

(2) Any organization that had its State corporate charter terminated due to its failure to comply with Federal or State lobbying disclosure requirements.

(3) Any organization that has filed a fraudulent form with any Federal or State regulatory agency.

(4) Any organization that–

(A) employs any applicable individual, in a permanent or temporary capacity;

(B) has under contract or retains any applicable individual; or

(C) has any applicable individual acting on the organization’s behalf or with the express or apparent authority of the organization….

Huh.  Can you think of “any organization” that describes?  I can.  Hell, I can think of one or two or, well, quite a few. And so can Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL):

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) picked up on the legislative overreach and asked the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to sift through its database to find which contractors might be caught in the ACORN net.

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman both popped up quickly, with 20 fraud cases between them, and the longer list is a Who’s Who of weapons manufacturers and defense contractors.

Something makes me think that we’re going to see a giant walk-back on this bill in pretty short order.  Me?  I’d love to see it applied by its own terms.

Car-Free Day: Take A Stand Against Prosperity! Err . . .

Andrew Leonard highlights a bit of inanity from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (a “libertarian” thinktank):

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is unhappy with the suggestion that we should try to drive less.

From an e-mail alert:

Tuesday is World Car-Free Day. That means you’re supposed to walk, or bicycle, or take a bus, to make some sort of anti-car, anti-prosperity statement. Good luck getting to and from the grocery store. Even more fun if it rains (and can you imagine if this day were scheduled in the dead of winter?). The fact is, the automobile plays a major role in making our lives happen — it empowers all of us to get where we need to go (not to mention respond to emergencies).

The stupidity implicit in CEI’s attack on the idea that there might be some merit in sensibly minimizing our car use is staggering.

It may well be that the folks at CEI aren’t stupid.  But they almost certainly think their audience is (and, well, I’d say that most libertarians are fairly selective about where they apply rigorous thinking).  Leonard goes on:

The point of exercises like World Car-Free Day is to encourage us to be less unthinking in our auto dependence. If it’s a sunny day, why not ride a bike, or take a stroll? Stretching your legs conveys its own reward. And you know what, if there isn’t a grocery store within walking distance of you, maybe there should be.

It’s not for everyone. Hell, as he notes, it’s not even possible for everyone. But the idea of Car-Free Day is to give it a chance. He closes with something that might be meant to be a bit of snark, but may well be the real point of disagreement:

CEI complains that World Car-Free Day is “anti-prosperity.” If their idea of prosperity is living in the suburbs where you have to drive miles to get to the nearest McDonald’s, I guess they are right. But World Car-Free Day really is “pro-good life.” A life in which we use our bodies instead of burning fossil fuels, reside in livable neighborhoods instead of sterile deserts of tract housing, and enjoy the wind on our face instead of the hum of the air conditioner.

The car-bound suburbs have become something of a cultural norm, in the US. And anything (like, say, cycling) that invokes city life – with its lack of space, rampant crime, and scary diversity – is automatically accepted as something to be attacked. But that only works so long as it’s left as an abstract. Once the specific is experienced – the walk to the bar, the grocery run on a bike, the ease of just locking your bike up – it’s much harder to discount. Don’t believe me? Try it.

Epic Troll

What this fellow did is, in the scheme of things, kinda pointless.  But it still made me smile:


Rewarding Bad Behavior

Democrats being Democrats, I guess.

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