October 2006 Archives

THINK ... or Don't

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I was watching VH1 Classic the other night (I was flipping around and was mesmerized by Enuff Z'nuff) and then a commercial came on, and it showed these high school girls fawning over the new boy in school, and then he threw his soda can in the trash instead of recycling it. The girls then lose interest. Then the voiceover came up: "The world is changing. Think! Go to think.mtv.com."

That's right. Think! Think about how you will be ostracized unless you mindlessly follow the crowd! slashdot.org
A new episode of the superpodcast Ask Pudge is now online for your listening pleasure. Feel free to Ask new questions of Pudge here, for future episodes. use.perl.org
There's a new poll out that asks, among other things, "Do you think elected officials should have more control over federal judges and the decisions they make in court cases, or don't you think so?," and 67 percent say No.

But no one in Congress is saying that elected officials should have more control over federal judges, or the decisions they make in court cases. No one.

Some people are saying Congress should exercise the control they already have under the Constitution more than they do, but not that they should have more control than they already have.

To draw an analogy: I have the control over my dog to make him sit for hours at a time. I do not need to "have more control" to be able to do that. I have all the control I need for that. But I will rarely, if ever, exercise that control.

So, this poll's results mean absolutely nothing. Perhaps, you may argue, what the pollsters meant by the question was what I said: whether the existing controls should be exercised. But that's not what they asked, and there's no way to know what the respondents thought when they responded.

If I'd been asked this question, I would have answered No, too, but if asked if I thought elected officials should exercise existing control more than they do, I'd have answered No Opinion, because there's no way for me to quantify my view (I want less exercise of control by the Senate in the approval process; and I would consider more exercise of control over jurisdictional, as well as organizational, issues).

So either this poll is meaningless because it is asking something that no one is in favor of anyway, or it is meaningless because it is intending to ask one thing but asking something different, and most likely are getting a mixture of incompatible interpretations by respondents.

Pollsters ask terrible questions like this all the time. They really need better review of the questions they ask, for accuracy, language, and so on. slashdot.org

On Fox News Sunday today, in the context of Congressional votes in favor of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research:

If there are people who don't believe in [embryonic stem cell research], that's fine; they shouldn't impose their views on us.

I love especially how he flips it around: taking the peoples' money to pay for something is not imposing on anyone, it's NOT doing it that is imposing.

This, more than anything, really shows you the backward mindset of Chuck Schumer. It's why I have less respect for him than anyone else in politics today. If he means this, he's anti-Constitutional; if he doesn't, he's extraordinarily deceptive and manipulative (even for a politician).

I wonder what other views Senators should not "impose" on others, and when to apply this concept. Well, I don't really wonder, since I know the answer, having watched and listened to the Senator for many years: the views are whatever Schumer beleives in, and the rule is to be applied whenever Schumer says so. There's no actual logic to follow here; it's entirely arbitrary, and -- again -- against the actul text and spirit of the Constitution. slashdot.org

Ask a Bush

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There's this commerical from the liberal September Fund I saw where a bunch of liberals are asking a bush silly questions. Then at the end a voiceover says, "OK, it's kind of ridiculous to think you're ever going to get an answer out of this bush, but it's also kind of ridiculous to think you're ever going to get an answer out of this one," with the latter phrase spoken over a picture of the President. Then a caption, "Demand answers. Vote for change."

Well, as a public service, I'll provide those answers here.

  • So what's our exit strategy from Iraq?

    Simple: as soon as the Iraqi security forces are able to maintain a reaosnable level of stability without our military, we will leave.

  • Why do our soldiers have to keep dying?

    Not to be glib, but that's what happens in war. Perhaps you mean, why do we have to be over there in the first place? Most simply, because as a country we decided that this was the proper course to take. Yes, some of that was based on evidence that turned out to be false, as best we can now tell, but there were many reasons to go in, and most of the reasons -- Iraq's support of terrorism, instability of the region, UN violations, and so on -- were entirely true.

  • What about affordable health care?

    What about it? Do you mean you want the government to solve the problem of skyrocketing health costs? This is a problem that government cannot really solve, except to get out of the way of private business so competition can drive down costs ... something the Democrats work hard to prevent.

  • Can't we support stem cell research?

    We do. Do you mean, can't we support embryonic stem cell research more? Because otherwise, your question is apparently deceptive, as it implies we do not support stem cell research (we do), or that we do not support embyronic stem cell research (we do). And the answer is, sure, we can support it more than we do. But many of us believe that embryonic stem cell research has serious moral problems. Many of you think the war has serious moral problems, and get upset when people dismiss your views (and indeed, many of you think that your moral concerns trump everything else, and that anyone who disagrees with you is immoral); so why do you think it is acceptable to dismiss others' moral views about embryonic stem cell research? The bottom line is that many of us think it's wrong, and that our government therefore should not fund it. Feel free to disagree, but to dismiss the view as legitimate is fundamentally dishonest.

  • Why did we let down Katrina victims?

    Frankly, we didn't. It's politically incorrect to say so, but it's true. We did let down American taxpayers by wasting a lot of money in the rush to help Katrina victims, but we've provided an unprecedented amount of aid to Katrina victims. While the rescue efforts were slow to materialize, there were no widespread long-term problems caused by it other than hurt feelings. Sure, people are still recovering, and in many cases aid has been cut off, but refusing to hold someone's hand for over a year when they should by now be taking care of themselves is not "letting them down."

  • Why won't Congress do anything?

    It does a lot. Too much, maybe.

  • Pass a decent minimum wage?

    That the federal government does not increase the minimum wage is irrelevant: each state is capable of increasing their own. If you think it's too low, then increase it for yourselves. The federal minimum wage is, quite literally, unconstitutional to begin with. This is a state responsibility.

  • Why are we losing so many jobs to overseas?

    Essentially, we're not. We "insource" millions of jobs, and "outsource" many of jobs. The jobless rate has decreased significantly, as employment has increased, over the past few years. The nation's economy has become a lot more dynamic, and it is becoming harder for more traditional workers to find employment, but just looking at "jobs lost" overseas is an incomplete picture, because it doesn't take into account not only the jobs we are "insourcing," but also the benefits to cost of living that come with the "oursourcing."

There. So no more complaining about not getting answers. slashdot.org

Guitar Modeling, and New Song

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Last year I bought a PODxt Live, made by Line 6. It is a guitar processor: it has many built-in amps, cabinets, and effects in it. Mostly they take real physical products and emulate ("model") them in software.

I've used the PODxt for a few of my songs before, most notably for "Osama Bin Laden, You Ruined My Birthday," where I had it model an old Fender Bassman amp to get a nice '50s rockabilly feel, a perfect complement to my Epistrat with Fender Fat '50s pickups.

So a few years back Line 6 came out with the Variax. It does for guitars what the POD did for amps and effects: it takes real guitars, and models them in software.

And it really works well. So I bought a used Variax 500 a few weeks ago, and I just put up the first recording I made with it, a song I first recorded a little while ago called Wasting Time. I held off on putting it up when I first recorded it because I could not get the guitar sound the way I wanted it, mostly because the music is just a vocal and electric guitar, and I just couldn't get rid of the hum (even when using humbuckers).

But the Variax doesn't have that problem, because it doesn't use magnetic pickups. It uses piezo pickups, one for each string, in the saddles of the bridge, that register the vibrations directly. Then it takes that sound and runs it through algorithms to model what that string would sound like if it were on the particular guitar, with the particular pickups, that you selected. And all with no interference.

(Since each string is picked up and modeled separately, that also means the Variax is capable of modeling 12-string guitars, and it's got three of them: Martin and Guild acoustics, and a Rickenbacker electric.)

So for this song, I dialed in the '58 Les Paul Standard sound, with both pickups active. I set the tone control to max. The vocals were a bit low, so I bumped the key up a half step. And instead of physically retuning the guitar or using a capo, I created an alternate tuning in software and uploaded that to the guitar.

Oh, did I mention that the Variax connects via Ethernet cable to my PODxt Live? The PODxt connects to the computer via USB. The PODxt thus supplies power and program changes to the Variax, and receives the audio signal and program changes from the Variax. And allows my computer to upload new firmware and presets. (The Variax can also be powered via a stereo audio cable from a special footswitch, or by onboard batteries.)

So when I record this song in Logic, I tell Logic to set the PODxt to program 25A, which is a preset for this song, and the PODxt sets itself up with a '68 Marshall 100 watt Super Lead (overdriven to 140V AC) through a Marshall 4x12 cabinet, classic MXR Dynacomp and Phase 90 pedals for compression and phaser, a basic stereo delay, and some vintage plate reverb. All with my chosen settings, and all of it modeled in the PODxt. And at the same time, the PODxt tells the Variax to set itself to the uptuned '58 Les Paul with both pickups active and the tone cranked.

So when I am ready to record, regardless of whatever guitar or amp or effect settings I am using, I just hit "record" in Logic, and it configures everything for me on the fly. It even sets the tempo for the delay and flanger to match the tempo of the song in Logic.

And it sounds just great. Maybe for someone with better ears than me, they could tell you that it doesn't sound exactly like a Marshall Variac or a '58 Les Paul. But it sounds very good. And I don't know if I'll be recording with any other electric guitar any time soon. Even if the tone weren't as good as it is, the complete lack of hum is worth it.

I think my next recording needs to include a banjo (the Variax includes an electric sitar and banjo too) just to show Nat that it sounds a little better than the sample on the web site.

BOSS has some nice guitar processor products too. They offer more for more. Less than $100 more, and you get two amps at the same time, lots more effects (and lots more simultaneous effects), and more goodies. But I really liked the integration with the Variax, and the software integration, and I was happy with the sound it produced, and people I knew and trusted used and liked it, and I tend to not need (or want, or like) a lot of effects (or multiple amps) anyway.

Now that I have the Variax, I am convinced I made the right decision. Neither the PODxt or Variax is perfect. But they are very cool and loads of fun and sound awesome. slashdot.org

Habeas Corpus

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OK, so there's this thing called the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Lots of people went crazy about it because it suspended the right to appeal for alien enemy combatants.

Except no, it didn't. And I still see people saying that it did.

The MCA only suspended appeals for alien enemy combatants except as provided by Section 1005 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which says, essentially, that alien enemy combatants have the right to appeal their status determination -- whether it was correct according to policy, law, the Constitution, and the facts -- to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

There is one catch, that I can find: if you are awaiting your final status determination, you don't get to appeal under Section 1005 of the DTA (since it only applies once the final determination has been made), and you are also forbidden any other appeal under the MCA (which apply specifically to those who have their final determination as enemy combatant, or are awaiting it). I wonder if there is some other place where the government is required to come up with a status determination within a specific time period, because if not, someone could be held in that limbo indefinitely, without any access to courts.

However, other than that question mark, the rest is quite clear: if you are an alien enemy combatant, you can file an appeal in U.S. Court. If you are not (including if you were, but no longer are, having won your appeal), then you have full access to the courts.

Hysteria is fun! Facts are boring! slashdot.org

Stay the Course

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OK. The left still won't let this "stay the course" thing go.

Here's what happened. For years, Bush and others have said we should "stay the course" in Iraq. What they meant by that was clear: that we should stay in Iraq and finish the job, until the job is done.

The Democrats have been accusing the Republicans, for many months now, of being inflexible to changing situations on the ground in Iraq. They have retroactively changed the GOP's meaning of "stay the course" to match this criticism: to Democrats, a Republican saying "stay the course" means "don't change anything we're doing in Iraq," even though it's clear that's never been the intended meaning.

So the Republicans have lately been saying, "well, we haven't been saying we should 'stay the course.'" The implied (or expressed) meaning is that they have not been saying we should not be willing to make adjustments. The Democrats then say "aha! you're lying! of course you've used the exact words 'stay the course' before!"

It is true they have used those words, many times. It is not true that they ever used those words to mean what Democrats say those words mean. This whole "debate" over "stay the course" is based on the intentional misrepresentation of the meaning of the phrase by Democrats trying to capitalize on voter despair over how the war is going.

Even if some Republicans are lying by saying they never said "stay the course," it's entirely in direct response to Democrats lying about the meaning of "stay the course."

This is just one of the stupidest "debates" I've ever seen in my life. slashdot.org

Impeach Bush! (Or Not)

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In the latest Newsweek poll, a substantial number of Americans -- as many as 51 percent, maybe, depending on what the question actually was -- said Bush should be impeached.

Of course, there are no legitimate articles of impeachment, despite many attempts. That last time I looked at impeachbush.org. This time let's take a quick look at impeachbush.tv.

They have only three, as opposed to the 20 on org.

So let's go through them quickly.

The first one flat-out lies. It is based on the notion that "[o]n March 19, 2003, George W. Bush invaded the sovereign country of Iraq in direct defiance of the United Nations Security Council," and that this was a violation of the UN Charter, and thus a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The problem is, it never happened. The UN Security Council never stated, in any way, that the U.S. was not allowed to invade. Not much more to say about that.

So, the second article. It says Bush lied and did other terrible things and therefore "subverted the principles of democracy." Except, of course, they do not give a single verifiable example of Bush "subverting the principles of democracy." Making mistakes, yes; intentionally lying, no. Indeed, and some of their examples are, again, flat-out lies, like accusing Bush of "[s]tating that 'Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa' in his State of the Union Address after being told by the CIA that this was untrue and that the supporting documents were forged."

On the contrary, we know that his statement was not based on those forged documents (note that they left out the fact, from their quote, that Bush was referring to British intel, which we know from the Butler Report predated the known existence of the forged documents), and the CIA's statements had nothing to do with the British intel.

Similarly, they accuse Bush of "[r]epeatedly ordering the NSA to place illegal wiretaps on American citizens without a court order from FISA." This is question-begging, since the court has not ruled it to be illegal, and it is very arguable. This is something that is properly decided only by the Supreme Court, and it is proper to impeach him over it only if the Court rules against him and he then continues the practice.

They also accuse Bush of retaliating against whistle-blowers, which -- even if true, and it's not -- has nothing to do with democracy. He's the Executive, and has every right to fire whom he wants, when he wants, unless it is in order to commit a crime (such as firing an official to coverup a crime in an official investigation, which is obstruction of justice, and is not the case here).

So, on to the third. Bush has "threatened the security of the American people" by putting us into the war in Iraq, and so on. This breaks down on two fronts. First, most of the items listed happened before the 2004 election, and the people of the U.S., knowing what happened, still voted to re-elect Bush (if you happen to find the "popular vote" interesting, Bush got more votes than anyone in U.S. history, and got more than 50 percent for the first time since George H.W. Bush in 1988).

Second, Congress approved (in large part, if not in whole) of all of the items on the list, except the last. For Congress to impeach based on something it approved of makes no sense.

As to the final item in the list, there is nothing in the NPT that disallows the proposing of tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons. That's another lie.

Once again, there is not a single reasonable draft article of impeachment against Bush. And three-for-three, all of these draft articles are based on lies, in whole or in significant part. slashdot.org
A new episode of the superpodcast Ask Pudge is now online for your listening pleasure. Feel free to Ask new questions of Pudge here, for future episodes. use.perl.org
In case you didn't know, medical research spending under Bush has dramatically increased, from -- in today's dollars -- $86B in FY 2000, to $136B now.

It has dropped in recent years as a percentage of total government spending, but that's only because government spending has increased too much elsewhere. And the spending on medical research, while it has tapered off in those years, has continued to outpace inflation.

So when people tell you Bush or the Republicans are standing in the way of medical research, now you know they are lying. They may be unwilling to spend money on certain things (like embryonic stem cell research, which was never federally funded at all before Bush, but now is, because of Bush), but overall, they are spending a lot more than any U.S. government ever has. slashdot.org

Vote Democrat Or Die (Of Disease)

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So there's these parodies of those Mac vs. PC ads, pitting Democrat vs. Republican. This one shows the Republican "playing doctor," and a conversation ensues:

D: Have you ever cured anything? Like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or diabetes?

R: No. No one's cured those things.

D: Wouldn't it be really great if someone could? Wouldn't that make the world a better place?

R: Yeah, that would be awesome, but how could that happen?

D: Actually, there's only one thing standing in the way.

[Republican sheepishly hands stethoscope to Democrat.]

Let's ignore the fact that there are two actual doctors in the U.S. Senate, and they are both Republicans, and focus on the fact that this spoof is actually claiming that if -- and only if -- Democrats control Congress, we will cure Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and diabetes.

And I am not reading too much into it. The guy who posted the video (who apparently participated in its creation) wrote: "The Federal government is the biggest funder of medical research in the US (if not the world.) If the Republican controlled Congress will allow the medical community to do their jobs, these deseases WILL be cured in our lifetime. Just do a little reading on the subject, listening not to political people, but to scientists and physicians."

So, he backed off his claim that Democrats have to control Congress. But he reiterated the false claim that we would necessarily solve these diseases in our lifetime, and added a new false claim to base the other false claim on: that the Congress is not "allow[ing] the medical community to do their jobs."

In fact, the Congress has not backed off from funding medical research, and has actually increased it under Bush (including in the area of embryonic stem cell research). Far from the government disallowing the medical community to do its job, it is actively funding them more than ever before in our nation's history. And even if the government were not funding them at all, that is still not disallowing them from doing their job, it's simply not providing aid for doing their job.

And, of course, there's the additional fact that many diseases are cured without the U.S. government's help (most of them that have been cured), and many that the U.S. has dumped a lot of money into have no forseeable prospect of a cure (such as cancer and AIDS).

But hey. None of that sounds as good as "vote Democrat or die (of disease)." slashdot.org

From the you're-not-helping dept.

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On Face the Nation:

Representative RAY LaHOOD (Republican, Illinois): Look it, I give Speaker Hastert high marks for strong leadership. He took care of Tom DeLay, his best friend. When Tom was having ethical problems, the speaker went to him and asked him to leave. When he appointed Duke Cunningham to the Intelligence Committee, he went to Duke and made sure he wasn't on the Intelligence Committee after it was disclosed he took $2.3 million. And when Bob Ney was appointed chairman of the House Administration Committee, he was appointed by Speaker Hastert. Speaker Hastert went to him and told him to step down from that committee after the Abramoff disclosures.

(Emphasis mine.) slashdot.org

Vote GOP Or Die!

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The Republican National Committee has a new ad on their home page. It notes, rightly, that al Qaeda still wants to kill us, that we are at war, etc. Then it says that if you don't vote Republican, the terrorists will win. It almost literally says that.

It was a good ad up until that part. You can argue the GOP will be better at fighting the terrorists. But you can't argue we'll lose if the GOP loses. Sorry, no cookie. slashdot.org

Pudge's Picks: Election Edition

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  • Washington State
    • U.S. Senate: Mike McGavick
    • State Supreme Court Justice: Stephen Johnson
    • I-920, Estate Tax Repeal: Yes
    • I-933, Property Rights: Yes
    • I-933, Renewable Energy Mandates: No
  • Congressional District
    • U.S. House, District 2: Doug Roulstone
  • Legislative District
    • State House, District 1: Mark Davies
    • State House, District 10: Barbara Bailey
    • State House, District 38: Kim Halvorson
    • State House, District 39: Dan Kristiansen
    • State House, District 39: Kirk Pearson
    • State Senate, District 44: Dave Schmidt
    • State House, District 44: Mike Hope
    • State House, District 44: Robert Legg
  • Snohomish County
    • Everett District Judge: Tam Bui
    • Charter Proposition 1, Salary Commission: Approve
    • Charter Proposition 4, Council Rules of Procedure: Approve
    • Charter Proposition 5, Elections Provisions: Approve
    • Charter Proposition 6, Performance Auditor: Approve
    • Arlington Library Capital Facility Area Bond: Approve

Ryan Dobson KOR Kast: Show #32

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Politics with Pudge: Local is Free

Ryan Dobson KOR Kast: Show #32

A new episode of the superpodcast Ask Pudge is now online for your listening pleasure. Feel free to Ask new questions of Pudge here, for future episodes. use.perl.org

Pudge and Dobson, Part 3

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My first episode on Ryan Dobson's podcast was about actually working to protect your liberty. My second was about how you can disagree with people, without treating them like they are Satan.

Now my third is up, and it's about how as a government's decisions are made more locally, the more free you actually are.

I also did the EQ/effects on my voice myself this time, so it sounds better (basically, I use the same setup as for Ask Pudge, whereas before I was just sending the raw audio file). slashdot.org

Pull The Other One

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John Kerry said today on Fox News Sunday that he lost in 2004 because people didn't have the correct information about his record.

WALLACE: We've got a little over a minute left, and I want to ask you a little about politics, because it's no secret that you are actively considering the possibility of running for president in 2008.

And you said in a recent article, "Next time I would campaign in more states, next time I would respond more aggressively to the swift boats." But why shouldn't Democrats say look, here was John Kerry in 2004, he had a great chance, he was running against a president who had gotten us into war for reasons, for intelligence that turned out to be wrong, he had his chance and he blew it?

KERRY: Well, some will ask that question, and they have a right to. But there's an answer to that question. The fact is that in the course of a campaign, you make some judgments.

Our judgment was that the truth was out there, that enough newspapers, enough people had the truth about my record. That was a misjudgment, a miscalculation, but I don't think that a tactical miscalculation necessarily eliminates you from whatever basic policies, basic experience, basic life commitment and ability to be president.

Yeah, that's why you lost. Because there's no way you would lose if people knew the truth about your record.

Again I say: reality-based community, my ass. slashdot.org

Byron Dorgan vs. Thomas Jefferson

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The role of government is to help create a society beneficial to people. People are the priority. Not corporations. Certainly commerce plays a huge role in the betterment of any great society, but any society that forgets that its primary purpose is to serve the people cannot ever be great.
-- Senator Byron Dorgan, How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics Are Selling Out America

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

Let's see. Benefitting people, or securing their rights.

I side with T.J. slashdot.org

TMI: Secure Fence Act

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So the rightwing BLOG-O-SPHERE has been losing its melon over the Secure Fence Act. It was passed by Congress on September 29, and the Congress says the President has ten days (not including Sundays) to sign it, in which case it becomes law, unless Congress is not in session, in which case it does not. This is the "pocket veto."

So Bush hasn't signed it yet! It's been vetoed!

Well, no. As usual, people have way Too Much Information to be able to reasonably process what's actually going on.

What the Constitution actually says is that Bush has ten days after it shall have been presented to him. The counter does not start when the bill passes, but when he gets it. And as of Tuesday, the bill still had not been presented to him, so the counter had not yet begun.

So, chill. He promised he will sign it. He will therefore sign it, because he always has fulfilled that promise. There's no reason to think this will be the first time he won't. slashdot.org

Central Committee

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Next week our county GOP has a Central Committee meeting.

The Central Committee is all the PCOs (Precinct Committee Officers, the smallest elected unit of the party) and elected GOP officials in the county (district chairmen and so on).

Yes, it is unfortunate that it is called a Central Committee.

I'll be speaking about the Charter Review Ballot Measures for this November, and giving recommendations, with a few others. The Measures are proposed changes to the county charter (the "Constitution" of the county), decided by the Charter Review Commission

All of our group was either on the Commission, or wrote the pro/con statements for the ballot pamphlet, or both.

Some of us took opposing sides on some of the statements. We may not be able to come up with consensus recommendations to make to the Central Committee on all of them. I am hoping we can at least come up with consensus recommendations on four of them.

Speaking of recommendations, last night the Snohomish County GOP (in our Executive Committee meeting) made our endorsements for three statewide ballot initiatives: a repeal of the estate tax (pro), a property rights initiative (pro), and a renewable energy initiative (con). All motions were passed unanimously. slashdot.org

North Korea Confusion

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Apparently, there is some confusion about whether Clinton's policy against North Korea worked.

It was a categorical failure.

It is true that the primary nuclear weapons facility at Yongbyon was shut down from 1994 to 2002 because of the Clinton agreements with North Korea. However, that's about all that was shut down. North Korea continued to violate the agreements with its work on missile technology and uranium enrichment, including, by all indications, importing nuclear encrichment centrifuges from Pakistan. And this was long before Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech.

North Korea continued working on its nuclear and missile programs, violating its agreements, before Bush even took office. It continued to get closer to being able to enrich uranium. It continued to get closer to being able to attack the U.S. with a missile.

It's true that after North Korea reopened Yongbyon in 2002, the process accelerated. But the process was able to accelerate as much as it did because of the advancements it had made in the intervening years. If North Korea had actually been abiding by its agreements, we would not be where we are right now.

And that's not even taking into account the fact that North Korea unilaterally pulled out of the agreement in 2002, without any actual provocation or change in policy by the U.S. We were still honoring the existing agreements. The "Bush failed" line asks us to believe that the only reason North Korea backed out of the agreement was because Bush said they were part of the "Axis of Evil." Not even Kim Jong Il is that thin-skinned. Clinton's policy is actually what brought us to the reopening of Yongbyon.

I don't blame Clinton. He tried, he failed. It happens. I do blame people who today want to return to this terribly failed policy. Following the Clinton policy today would mean that Yongbyon would be shut down, in return for more technology and aid, only to allow North Korea to continue its nuclear programs, and to reopen Yongbyon as soon as North Korea simply felt like it. Does that make you feel safer?

Now Playing: The Black Crowes - Lickin'
A new episode of the superpodcast Ask Pudge is now online for your listening pleasure. Feel free to Ask new questions of Pudge here, for future episodes. use.perl.org

Randy Newman on Colbert

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Randy Newman was on Colbert tonight. He played the song of his that I covered awhile back, "Political Science." Said a "friend" in response to my recording of it: "It always works well when the singer can identify with the song." slashdot.org

North Korea

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I've mentioned the DPRK (that's North Korea, as opposed to ROK, which is South Korea) in this space before (such as here and here).

A quick rundown: North Korea twice entered bilateral agreements with the Clinton administration. Both times, the DRPK agreed to freeze its nuclear program in return for food, energy, and other assistance. Both times, the DPRK violated those agreements unilaterally, restarting its nuclear program.

What was entirely obvious is that the North Korean government had no intention of ever getting rid of its nuclear program, and was abusing the process: by merely freezing their program (instead of dismantling it) and by entering agreements with only one other country per agreement, they could be in a cycle of a. threaten everyone else, b. put program on hold, c. get handouts, d. restart program to try to get more handouts.

This was clearly an untenable situation, so when Bush came along, the policy changes slightly, but significantly: no more bilateral talks (as they were a proven failure, because there's no way to put pressure on the DPRK if they violate an agreement with the U.S. alone, instead of an agreement with all of its neighbors), and no more accepting a mere freeze of their nuclear programs (but requiring a dismantling).

There have been some successes in this along the way. Frankly, the policy is still working: North Korea is still demanding bilateral talks. What does that tell you? That is is afraid of the inevitable result of multilateral talks. Which means multilateral talks are still the right thing to do. Honestly, why does anyone think they are demanding bilateral talks? What possible reason could there be for them, except that they know they can more easily violate such an agreement?

The DPRK is hoping this nuclear test will make the U.S. panic and jump at the chance of bilateral talks, and a nuclear freeze, which will just put us back on the path to have to deal with this all over again in a few years when they decide to violate THAT agreement. They realized Bush is stubborn and mere posturing was not going to force us into bilateral talks, so hey, maybe an actual test will do it. Missile test? Nope. Maybe actual nuke test?

If I know Bush, it's thankfully not going to work. If we enter into bilateral talks here, we will be merely continuing a proven failed policy, at a time when failure is more dangerous than ever. But never before has China been so steadfastly opposed to North Korean policy than in the last 24 hours, and the test will also surely reinvigorate the recently weakened ROK position (the DPRK's cousins to the south have been having fantasies of imminent reconciliation).

There's only one way forward here, that I can see: keep pushing multilateral talks, set a deadline, announce the bombers will be coming if the deadline is missed, and fulfill the promise should that happen.

Sure, such a response from the U.S. might lend some fuel to the DPRK claim that the U.S. is the real aggressor here, and the only reason they have a nuclear weapons program in the first place is to defend itself from the U.S., but no one outside the DPRK actually believes that. slashdot.org

Pudge and Dobson

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Ryan Dobson, son of Dr. James Dobson, and friend of mine from college, runs KOR, a 501(c)(3) youth ministry. Part of the ministry is the KOR Kast, a podcast, which now features a segment called "Politics with Pudge." Which is me. Talking about politics.

Feel free to let me know what you think about the segment here or via email, or send email to politics at korministries.com.

Since KOR is 501(c)(3), I have to be a bit careful about what I say.

Also, I found out recently that James Dobson (a different one) was in Flying Leathernecks in 1951 with John Wayne, where Mr. Dobson played "Lt. Pudge McCabe." Hmmmm. use.perl.org

Pudge and Dobson, Part 2

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There's a new episode of Politics with Pudge up on the KOR Kast. slashdot.org

Check the Address, Maybe?

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Also in the mail today, I got an application from the Massachusetts State Republican Party. It was a form to register to vote by absentee. In Massachusetts.

It was addressed to me, at my home here in Washington.

Maybe they could've restricted this mailing to people with MA addresses? Chances are if I am still an MA resident who is living in WA (perhaps, I live away from home for a job ... many states let you do that), I am already registered absentee. And otherwise, well, I shouldn't be registering in MA. slashdot.org

Political Yard Signs and HOAs

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Today I got a letter in the mail. It reads, in part:

Dear Homeowner(s),

You are in violation of one or more of the provisions of the protective covenants, conditions, and restrictions of [the homeowner's association].


Section 2.11-Signs
"Except for permanent entrance signs and markers, street, directional, traffic control, and safety signs and such promotional signs as may be maintained by the Declarants or Declarant-approved agents, builder or contractors on a temporary basis during the Development Period, no signs or advertising devices of any character shall be posted or displayed in the Plat of Kackman Creek: provided, however, that one temporary real estate sign not exceeding 6 square feet in area may be erected upon any Lot or attached to any residence placed upon the market for sale or lease."



I have three signs up now, all just normal yard sign size. I have one each for my State Representatives running for re-election (Dan Kristiansen and Kirk Pearson), and one for Doug Roulstone, running for U.S. Congress. I was planning to add a Mike McGavick sign soon: he's running for U.S. Senate.

First thought: who would complain about this, for cyring out loud?

Second thought: huh, I have thirty days, plus a week before the first fines. The election is in 33 days. :-) I could just ignore it.

Third thought: I know some states protect homeowners from such things. I wonder what Washington State law says.

Too bad for the complainant that I know how to use Google and the Washington State lesiglature's site, because I found this:

RCW 64.38.034
Political yard signs -- Governing documents.

(1) The governing documents may not prohibit the outdoor display of political yard signs by an owner or resident on the owner's or resident's property before any primary or general election. The governing documents may include reasonable rules and regulations regarding the placement and manner of display of political yard signs.

(2) This section applies retroactively to any governing documents in effect on July 24, 2005. Any provision in a governing document in effect on July 24, 2005, that is inconsistent with this section is void and unenforceable.

I replied back to the committee:

Today I was in receipt of a letter that notified me I am, supposedly, in violation of the CC&Rs because of my election signs.

This notification is in violation of Washington State Law. Please see RCW 64.38.034.



Chris Nandor

I guess I'll put up that McGavick sign after all. slashdot.org

Ryan Dobson KOR Kast: Show #30

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Politics with Pudge: Partisanship

Ryan Dobson KOR Kast: Show #30

Corpus Schmorpus

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Everyone who says the U.S. is trying to eliminate the centuries-old right of habeas corpus is totally wrong.

What must be understood here is that there are different laws and different rights created by those laws. And the right of habeas corpus, as defined in our Constitution, is not being touched. It is not, in any remote way, affected by this recent bill.

What the bill does is remove some statutory rights: additional rights passed by Congress.

What's happened is that over the years -- mostly since World War II -- Congress decided it wanted people to have some more rights than the Constitution guaranteed. So it passed laws to that effect. And for a long time, we presumed those laws would not, and should not, apply to terrorists. But now the Courts say, no, they do apply to terrorists. So Congress is saying, well, OK, so we'll amend the law so they no longer do.

Saying this is an assault on the Constitution or tradition going back to the Magna Carta is nonsense. Imagine Congress passed a law that said anyone is allowed to yell FIRE! in a crowded theater. Then they realized that was a stupid idea, so they repealed the law. Would this be an assault on the First Amendment? Only to crazy people.

Some resources: a PBS NewsHour discussion in which David Rivkin explains the difference between "the great writ" and additional statutory rights, and Bruce Fein ignores said differences; an e-mail from Eugene Volokh a few years ago explaining and predicting this; bill S.3930 that this is all about; and the Detainee Tratment Act of 2005 that the bill refers to.

Fein's rhetoric and misstatements are especially egregious. He says this, for example:

It will go back to the courts. I can guarantee you that. And this Congress will have to start all over again, because of this reckless assault on the simple proposition that someone ought to be able to get an impartial judge to decide whether they're being held illegally or not.

Except that far from taking away the simple proposition, the law guarantees that an impartial judge will get to decide whether they're being held illegally or not.

Here's the relevant text from S.3930:


(a) In General- Section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking both the subsection (e) added by section 1005(e)(1) of Public Law 109-148 (119 Stat. 2742) and the subsection (e) added by added by section 1405(e)(1) of Public Law 109-163 (119 Stat. 3477) and inserting the following new subsection (e):

`(e)(1) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.

`(2) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 1005(e) of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (10 U.S.C. 801 note), no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained by the United States and has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.'.

Note that many people have incorrectly focused on the first part of (e)(1), where it says "No court ... shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States. ..." What they neglect to read is the last part, where that "has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination." But part of that determination process requires fulfillment of Constitutional habeas protections, and this bill does not, and cannot, eliminate those.

So if you are detained as an enemy combatant, or in the process of the government trying to determine whether you are such, then you either have had full opportunity to get a court to judge your imprisonment, or will have that. This is the tradition of habeas corpus. This is what the Constitution requires.

Now, there is one more piece to this puzzle: there is no assurance that the Constitutional habeas provisions apply to these enemy combatants. Some cases suggest they would not, and in the Rasul case, the Court only stated the statutory habeas provisions apply to enemy combatants, not that the Constitutional "great writ" does. But that seems to be a moot point, since the current and proposed methods of dealing with these prisoners do seem to meet the Constitutional standard (as Rivkin noted) ... but you never know, someone might try to make the case that these methods do not meet that standard.

There likely will be changes to this law, and we've not seen the end of it, but I cannot imagine this court, with all these people on the Court who largely respect the Constitution and the Conrgess and try their best to not overstep their own authority, from saying the Congress cannot do what is clearly legal for them to do: if they pass new rights by law, they can take them away. slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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