Politics: December 2006 Archives

New Year Song

| | Comments (0)
I still don't care about the New Year.

(Note: pudge.net has been down a few days, I hope it is up soon, but until then, the song is available at the above URL instead.) slashdot.org

Joel Spolsky is Wrong Again

| | Comments (0)
Joel Spolsky is wrong. He is talking about accepting products for review.

First, he misrepresents Scoble. To "prove" Scoble's logical argument is wrong, Spolsky compares it to something which is by definition unethical, because it is illegal. If it was not illegal, it is debatable whether or not it would be unethical at all. Scoble was assuming in his argument that this act was not immoral-by-law, thereby implicitly invalidating Spolsky's comparison. By setting up this false comparison, Spolsky is really committing the begging-the-question fallacy.

Second, frankly, neither what Scoble is doing, nor what Edelman is doing, is unethical, by any objective standard. You may think it is unethical according to your view of journalism. But this is part of the problem of the New Journalism World Order. I'll explain.

In the Dark Times, such standards were debated by editors and publishers and reporters and, sometimes, lawyers, and each publication or company came up with its own set of ethical standards. Some accepted any products. Some did so only with full disclosure. Some accepted none at all. None of these was objectively right or wrong, ethically speaking. A reasonable case can be made for each.

And let's be more frank: none of these decisions really had anything to do with ethics, directly. They had to do with business. If you are Consumer Reports and nothing matters more than the public perception of you as an objective researcher and reviewer of products, then that's a very different thing than a journal devoted to Microsoft Windows that gets free copies of XP.

It's not ethics. It's just business. Scoble makes a business decision to take it and disclose it. If that does not diminish his credibility, then he made the right decision.

And in this New Journalism World Order, there are, usually, no longer any editors or publishers or reporters beyond the guy in pajamas himself, and certainly no lawyers. So he makes up his own rules. And you may disagree with those rules, but your disagreement does not constitute a breach of ethics on his part.

There are, sometimes, ethical considerations, but merely accepting the product is not one of them. Doing so only raises the potential for other ethical concerns, such as whether you will be honest with your readers about how you got the product. If you took it for free and gave it a glowing review and didn't tell anyone you took it for free ... it's hard to see how that can be justified. But I'm open to you trying, if you care to. But the point is that it is not the taking of the product that is unethical.


Habeas Corpus Revisited

| | Comments (0)
An AP story says that Senate Democrats and one Republican, Arlen Specter, plan to revisit some of the existing law on detainee treatment, including the "provision barring habeas corpus," which, the article says, "means that only detainees selected for trial by the military are able to confront charges against them, leaving a vast majority of the estimated 14,000 military detainees in custody without a chance to plead their case."

This is false. First, this is false on its face, as the provisions only apply to detainees who are designated as alien unlawful enemy combatants: you have to be an alien (non-American), and you have to be an unlawful enemy combatant (basically, you are not a normal POW under the Geneva Conventions).

Second, as I've mentioned before, the prohibition is except as provided in another section, which gives an explicit appeals process that many believe satisfies the Constitutional right to habeas corpus (if indeed these detainess have such a Constitutional right): by my reading, anyone who is deisgnated a AUEC can appeal that designation itself, which includes the right to appeal the facts under which you are so designated.

So, basically: if you are found to properly be designated an AUEC, then there's no problem: you are guilty of being an AUEC and may be held; if you are found to have the designation improperly, then you are no longer an AUEC and may make full avail of the court system with no limitations on habeas corpus.

There are a few things I am not certain of in the current law (most importantly, the apparent lack of time limit between when the government seeks to determine whether someone is an AUEC, and when that determination is finally made, during which time no appeal may be sought), but even if my analysis is slightly off, the important point is still that there is a process for habeas appeals even for people who are not brought to trial, and the AP and others are just pretending it doesn't exist, and if there is a Constitutional problem with this process, it can be fixed (such as by implementing a time limit).

The best I can figure is they are pretending this process doesn't exist because either they really don't know what they are talking about, because they want to dishonestly manipulate their readers, or because they honestly believe that it doesn't matter, which is similar to the first (they really don't know what they are talking about). slashdot.org

Update on NRA "Graphic Novel"

| | Comments (0)
I e-mailed the author of a DailyKos story (actually, sent him a myspace message, because I couldn't find his email address, and have no dailykos login to use, but googling him turned up a myspace account I could send a message to!) about the aforementioned NRA "graphic novel" and he linked to my image and gave me props. Ironically, his nickname is "GoSlash27."

That's right, kind words about me in a frontpage dailykos story. Mark your calendar, folks!

Frankly, I see nothing wrong with this NRA publication, again, apart from the too-far rhetoric, but nothing I don't see on both sides of issues, and certainly not even a hint of racism. Now, I've not yet read the text. Maybe tonight. But the images seem fine to me. slashdot.org

"Racist" "NRA" "Graphic Novel"

| | Comments (0)
So there's this supposed graphic novel supposedly from the NRA that is supposedly racist.

It's not clear it's from the NRA (although I have some evidence suggesting it may be), or that it is a graphic novel. But even less clear is that it is racist.

Sorry, I don't see it. I've seen more "racism" in The Simpsons than I see on that page, like a Christmas episode I watched tonight where Buddha appeared to Homer in a dream, and then went on to steal a car, and was caricatured as a fat Asian gangbanger. Not that I considered that scene racist, but it is at least as racist as anything here.

So how is it bad? OMG, they make it look like dangerous gangs are mostly minorities, even though in large cities in the U.S., they are, in fact, mostly minorities! OMG, they have a reasonably accurate illustration of what George Soros looks like! OMG, they dare to include blacks in a picture of people who are hostile to gun rights, even though they are! (Compass, for example -- supported by Nagin -- was the perpetrator of the clearest violation of our Constitutional right to bear arms in recent memory) OMG, they show a white person with a gun, to protect his family from shadowy figures that we assume must of course be minorities, because of all the racism we've incorrectly inferred already!

Oh, and apart from the false claims of racism, let's not forget the false claims of partisanship: the page claims this is pro-GOP and anti-Democrat, even though they show only three politicians, and one of those is a Republican: NYC Mayor Bloomberg (the others being NOLA Mayor Nagin and Senator Clinton).

I see nothing objectionable in anything printed from the "graphic novel" (if that's what it is) here, apart from standard objections I have with politically motivated illustrations in general (over-the-top rhetoric etc.), though it's far less objectionable even on that scale than most leftwing stuff I've seen. I am in the middle of reading a graphic novel based on The Probability Broach, a libertarian novel, which is objectionable to me in the same ways: demonizing the opposition; giving an unfair, biased, and myopic vision of your perspective; etc. Like what is on DailyKos, daily. Except illustrated.


Welp, it's almost Christmas. I have one more present to wrap before bed, aposter-sized Chagall calendar for the lady ... oh wait, Chagall is a Jew, I almost forgot! Eek!

Once again, Merry Christmas, y'all. slashdot.org

Activists 1, Constitution 0

| | Comments (0)
Yesterday the Washington State Supreme Court decided that King County critical areas ordinance was not subject to county referendum.

In Washington, all laws are subject to voter referenda. The Court ruled, in a 7-2 decision, that because the ordinance was required by state law, that the county could not overturn it by referendum. That makes sense, except for the fact that the specifics of the ordinance were not required, mandated, or instructed by state law. Their origin was purely at the county level.

This ruling makes not a jot of sense. We've seen this Court be extremely hostile to the voter referendum section of the state Constitution in the past -- including throwing out an initiative that a judge arbitrarily decided wasn't "understood" by the voters -- and now they are taking away the right to referendum itself.

It would be different if the law in question (the Growth Management Act) had something to say about referenda, if it somehow limited referenda on decisions required of the counties by the GMA. Then you would have a battle over whether it is even legal for the GMA to have such a limitation on a Constitutional right of the people.

Indeed, though, the GMA was designed specifically to allow for local control, to rely on it. Local referenda are an integral part of what it means to have local control. State approval of the plans is not required (though they are subject to challenge, if they do not comply with the GMA).

Justice Charles Johnson, who concurred with the decision, wrote: "where the state law requires local government to perform specific acts, those local actions are not subject to local referendum." But that makes no sense, as it undermines the right to referendum at every level of government other than the state level.

It's pathetic and sad. slashdot.org

More Troops in Iraq

| | Comments (0)
Why is everyone up in arms about Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq when almost no one who has an opinion actually has the remotest idea of whether it's the right thing to do?

Just curious.

Update I am not saying you shouldn't have an opinion. Just ... most people seem to think their opinion on this is Right, when for most of those people, they have no way of knowing. I was convinced many months ago by Senator McCain to support the idea of more troops, but I won't pretend I know it's the right thing to do. How should I, how could I, know? slashdot.org


| | Comments (0)
Says Jack Cafferty on CNN:

Now if it's not possible to meet the goals only using the volunteers, then down the road, I assume, it could raise the question of having to resort to a draft.

False. There is no chance of a draft under the current situation (meaning, our current political situation, and being engaged in our current conflicts). And I mean that literally. There is no possible way to get a draft here. It is, literally, impossible.

The few politicians who want a draft mostly want it only to prevent the use of force, and even they are in such a small number that they could not effect change in policy. The overwhelming majority of politicians, including the President, are against a draft. I don't know if Gates is against a draft, though Rummy was, but the military as a whole is against it.

And most importantly, the American public is absolutely against a draft. This may be why most of the politicians are against it, of course. But even if public support for a draft is not a sufficient condition for the politicians to support it, it's a necessary one. And it doesn't exist.

So the only way we could get a draft is if the situation we're in changes significantly. And I don't mean Bush invading another country, like Syria or Libya or probably even North Korea, because obviously, that won't get him more public support for his military actions, which means necessarily that there won't be increased support for a draft, which is what is necessary to have a draft.

So for us to get a draft, we would likely have to be attacked. And not just one attack, even September 11-sized, but a series of attacks, a large-scale threat, one that makes the American people flip around and favor a new front in whatever "war" you happen to think we're in.

I don't even know if increased attacks on us by al Qaeda would do it. We need an enemy of sufficient size that requires an increase in the size of the military to get public support for a draft. Maybe you can have a plan to drastically increase the size of special forces to have them fan out across the globe etc., but you don't get such forces through a draft anyway.

I think it might require war with an actual national government, like China or Russia, to get the public to support a draft. And again, not a war that we start.

And if that happens, we wouldn't need a draft to get recruits anyway. As public support increases to the levels required for us to make a draft a political possibility, voluntary enlistment will also increase.

I don't think we will ever have a draft again in this country, at least, not in the forseeable future, because there is no scenario I can see where it would be both politically possible, and practically necessary or desirable. slashdot.org

Colbert and the December 1sts

| | Comments (0)
Stephen Colbert had his guitar-solo challenge with the guitarist from the December 1sts tonight. He played a Rick Nielsen five-necked guitar.

But this was not the five-necked guitar I am familiar with. The one I knew of was a Hamer, with a 12-string on top, two normal fixed-bridge necks with dual humbuckers in second and fourth, one with a tremolo in the middle, and a fretless on the bottom.

This one also had a 12-string on top, and a normal neck with humbucker second, and one with a tremolo third (but the tremolo on the other guitar was a Fender-style, and this one looked like a Bigsby-style). Instead of fretless on the bottom, it was a normal fretted neck with what appeared to be a different pickup configuration.

Most intriguing, however, was that the fourth neck appeared to be an 8-string bass. Seriously. The neck was longer than the others and it appeared to have eight tuners.

The headstocks looked Hamer-like, but it didn't appear to be the large "HAMER" mark I am used to seeing.

Update My former guitarist and Hamer buff (he has owned a few himself, I think he has two now) sends me this and this. The first link is a picture of a second version of the original, made more than 10 years after the original.

But the second link is the guitar I saw last night. I got many of the details right (including smaller typeface on headstock), though I forgot to mention the f-hole, and I wasn't sure if it was merely decorative (it wasn't!). And the 8-string neck is not a bass, it's a "mandocello." Neat! slashdot.org

Doctor W.H.O.?

| | Comments (0)
On the local news tonight was a story about three high-level sex offenders living in one house together, in a neighborhood with lots of kids and a school bus driving by, and so on. One of the neighbors is a man named Bob Bagley who, the reporter tells us, "coincidentally, just published a fictional book about a rapist." slashdot.org

New Year, New Surplus, Same Old Story

| | Comments (0)
Last year the state of Washington had a multi-billion-dollar surplus. They spent it all, projecting the next budget would be in the red. This year, another surplus, and again, they are planning to spend it all.

Note that they say they don't want to spend it all. The surplus is $1.9 billion, and $606 million of it is "unspent" with $262 million going to a "rainy-day fund." The problem is that of the money that is spent, almost all of it is going into new budget line items, or increases to existing line items, so we are already (again) at a deficit for the next budget, and that "unspent" $606 million is, in fact, already spent on that next budget (unless they plan on cutting those new expenditures in the next budget ... ha!).

But that's OK. In two years, when taxes are going up despite multi-billion-dollar surpluses, and with the Democrats in control of both branches (governor and both houses of the legislature), it will be a lot easier for Dino Rossi to be (re-?)elected governor. slashdot.org

Wha -- ?

| | Comments (0)

Our military has been in Iraq longer than in World War II, World War I, longer than the Vietnam War.

--Senator Ted Kennedy, on Fox News Sunday yesterday

For the record, our troops have been in Iraq for going on four years, since March 2003. Our combat troops were in Vietnam from approximately 1965-1975, about ten years.

Maybe he meant the Korean War. slashdot.org

Stupid Statistics

| | Comments (0)
So there's this study which found a correlation between higher IQ and vegetarianism.

But most likely, this has nothing to do with vegetarianism itself, but with the fact that vegetarianism is a valid and non-normal pursuit.

If you have a higher IQ, you are more likely to question normality, what society and your parents and so on are telling you. You are therefore more likely to carefully examine other options. You are therefore more likely to choose other options.

So, smarter people in a predominantly Christian culture are more likely to be non-Christians. In a predominantly atheist culture, more likely to be religious. In a predominantly (little-d!) democratic culture, more likely to be socialists or anarchists or unabombers. In a predominantly omnivorous culture, more likely to be vegetarian. If we had a predominantly vegetarian culture, surely people with higher IQs would be more likely to be omnivorous.

Nothing to see here, move along. slashdot.org

Damn You Karl Rove!

| | Comments (0)
Now he is trying to kill Democratic Senators. Will he ever stop?



Civil War

| | Comments (0)
A Pew poll actually asked respondents whether they consider Iraq to be a civil war. Also, they asked whether Matisse is post-impressionist or modern.

It's such a stupid question/debate/topic. Whether Iraq is in a civil war does not inform us in any way. It doesn't tell us what the goals of the different sides are, how their conflicts can be resolved, whether we should be involved, or anything else of real importance. This is demonstrated by the fact that Pew's results on that question show no significant difference in attitudes toward the war among people who responded differently to the "civil war" question.

The thing that drives me the most crazy, I think, are the many people who assert that because of the number of people dying, or the weaponry used, that this says there's a civil war, like Marjorie Miller of the LA Times said on NewsHour a couple of weeks ago:

In the summer, we ran another front-page story that said "Iraqi Civil War All But Declared," and quoting a lot of Iraqi leaders as saying, "Well, we think this has all the earmarks of a civil war."

And, finally, this fall, when we looked at the numbers of Iraqis who were dying -- which had topped 3,000 -- we looked at the almost unbroken violence. We said we thought we had crossed this threshold, and we quit qualifying it.

But the numbers of people dying is not what the debate is about. The discussion is the nature of the violence -- who is fighting whom, and for what reasons and goals -- that defines a civil war. No one denies that the amount of violence is significant enough to call it a civil war. The "threshold" of amount of violence is beside the point entirely.

But she got stupider:

Each side has combatants in and out of uniform. They're attacking government ministries. You have 100 Iraqis dying at least every day. What do you call that, if not civil war?

Again, the numbers are beside the point. The other things she mentioned are getting closer to the point, but still don't support the argument that it is a civil war: OK, they are attacking government ministries. Who is doing it? Why? What's the goal? Is it the main objective, or incidental?

To answer her question though, I think the answer is simple: you call it the Iraq War. She cannot even explain on NewsHour a reasonable and commonly understood definition of "civil war," and yet she defends the use of the word by saying it is to help people understand what's going on. But as I mentioned above, no, it doesn't. It does not inform us. Actually answering the questions about who is doing what and why will inform us. Labeling it "civil war" will not.

But let me just allow Yale and Columbia history professors in the same article to weigh in:

Frankly, I regard this as a frivolous discussion ...

Well, there's no definition of civil war that's chiseled in stone. I'd call it an emerging civil war ... I don't think we should get hung up on the label, as long as we focus on the extent to which the shape of the war has been changing and the main lines of division in the conflict have been changing.

I am not saying we should not call it a civil war (and the latter of the two, while saying it is not [yet] a civil war, said it is in some ways positive to call it one). I am saying that people who make a big deal out of asserting it is, "in fact," a civil war, are full of it, and that saying it is a civil war doesn't inform us, and that this whole discussion is a waste of time.

P.S. When I wrote the above title, I just recalled that I think I wrote a song once called "Civil War." I think. But I have no real idea how it goes. I looked at my old list of lyrics to try to jog my memory, but it's not there (though other songs are not there, too). slashdot.org


| | Comments (0)
I am probably going to Minneapolis in summer '08 for the Republican National Convention. I just need to be elected as a delegate, and then save up the money for travel and convention costs.

Maybe I'll get in a Twins game. I am just glad it's not in the South or some hot city. slashdot.org

Mr. Chairman

| | Comments (0)
BTW, I was re-elected chairman of the 39th District of the Snohomish County GOP yesterday. (Don't let the size of the district fool you, it's relatively small in population), especially compared to the 44th and 38th). slashdot.org
Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was on Fox News Sunday today. He was giving an example of how sometimes the law is not entirely clear.

He was defending the court's 2003 decision to uphold the campaign finance law that abridged freedom of speech by saying, essentially, that the First Amendment exists, in part, "to help our country ... run fair and free elections. ... And that may mean in part that you don't one person's speech -- that one $20 million giver -- to drown out everybody else's. So if we want to give a chance to the people who have only one dollar and not 20 million, maybe we have to do something to majke that playing field a little more level in terms of money. If you accept that at all, you've suddenly bought into the proposition that there are First Amendment issues on both sides of this equation."

Um. Uh. No. On one side of the equation, you are saying Congress should not limit the speech of others. On the other, you are saying Congress should.

The $20 million giver is not Congress. His "drowning out" of everybody else is not unconstitutional. Congress saying that he may not spend $20 million is unconstitutional.

He dismissed such claims as appealing to "slogans," like "the freedom of speech." Funny, I call that a "law" not a "slogan."

Have I mentioned recently that I really don't respect Justice Breyer's judicial philosophy? 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."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from December 2006.

Politics: November 2006 is the previous archive.

Politics: January 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.