Plamegate: Dude, Where’s My Charges?

Friday sounds like the day for Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald to announce that someone (and perhaps pals) in the White House committed treason by outting CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Of course, the speculation is that Libby will be the chosen fall guy here in order to get Rove and Cheney off the hook:

Rove also testified that he may have learned about Plame from Libby, according to a person familiar with Rove’s testimony. Some saw this as an effort to show Rove had no reason to believe the information about Plame was classified.

Whatever happens tomorrow, this has been simmering long enough and the wafting scent of this scandal is about to become a full entree of indictments, which we’re happy to see.

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Schwarzenegger Street: Trite, Tasteless, Typical

Arnold\'s NeighborhoodBig ups to our peeps over at Independent Sources for spotting this doozy of a mud-slinger campaign ad by Democratic California gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides — Schwarzenegger Street (a spoof of Sesame Street done Jib Jab style, but without being funny or clever):

The Governor’s “neighborhood” inhabited by the usual liberal bogeymen: President Bush! Vice President Cheney! Fox News! Enron’s Ken Lay! Karl Rove! And others! Too bad most of them have only tenuous connections to Schwarzenegger.

Oh man, as much as I think Schwarzenegger is a douchebag suckup to corporate special interests, this ad is just horrible. What’s worse, Angelides vowed to take the high road (“I believe in the high road.”), and this proves once again Democrats and Republicans really only care about kicking each other out of the way in their quest for more state control and don’t really care about discussing the issues in an adult manner.

On a juvenile note… O’Reilly the Grouch looks like the love child of Joan Rivers and Milton Bradley.

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45% of Iraqis Support Attacks Against Allies

A leaked poll by an Iraqi university research team on behalf of the British government is creating quite a stir since it directly conflicts with statements that there is wide support for the invasion. In some areas, the support for suicide bombings against occupying forces spikes to 65%. Other poll numbers easily indicate the rosy news being told at home doesn’t stack up with reality (thanks Joe Stump):

* 82% of Iraqis are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops

* Less than 1% of the Iraqi population believes coalition troops are responsible for any improvement in the country

* 67% of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation

* 43% of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened

* 72% do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

You know, at this point, I’d rather not bother saying anything more. I want one of our token 37%, follow the course, pro-Iraq occupation readers to spin this for us in the comments. Come on and tell us all just how wrong we are to want to leave this country that doesn’t want us there.

Tell us how spreading democracy in Iraq logically ignores 82% of those who don’t want us there.

Because I call bullshit.

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DoD: Promised Re-Enlistment Bonus? Whatever!

Freedom Isn\'t Free! Support Yourself, Soldier!Here’s another fine example of the DoD supporting the troops. If by support you mean reneging on some promises to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years:

The bonuses were offered in January to Active Guard and Reserve and military technician soldiers who were serving overseas. In April, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs ordered the bonuses stopped, [Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle)] said.

[...]A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, confirmed the bonuses had been canceled, saying they violated Pentagon policies because they duplicated other programs. She said Guard and Reserve members would be eligible for other bonuses.

Krenke said some soldiers had been paid the re-enlistment bonuses, but she was unsure how many or whether the money would have to be repaid. Murray’s office said that as far as it knew, no active Guard or Reserve members had received the bonuses.

Here’s the mostest, bestest warm and fuzzy part:

“As in the private sector, bonuses are quite effective in keeping talented people with high demand skills,” Krenke said in an e-mail response to questions.

Well, except unlike the private sector, you can’t just quit your military career and find another if your signing bonus gets ripped out of your hands by some pencil pusher in the Pentagon. You know because of that thing called the UCMJ Article 86.

And there’s at least one milblogger who got the bonus, but is a little more than wary he may get a bill from the Pentagon:

I hate to say this too loud for fear that they try to take my money back, but what the heck is going on at the Pentagon? If the Pentagon drives me to support Patty Murray, we’re all going to have a problem here.

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White House sues C&Ds The Onion (For Real!)

White House loves Goatse.cxThis is up there as being one of the stupidest lawsuits in the history of lawsuits. The White House is suing issued a cease and desist order to The Onion for using the presidential seal in its satire skits of the weekly radio address. What’s even more hilarious is the law that requires satirists “apply for an exception” to use the presidential seal, which is like applying for a permit to use the American flag:

Citing the United States Code, Mr. [Grant M. Dixton, associate counsel to the president,] wrote that the seal “is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement.” Exceptions may be made, he noted, but The Onion had never applied for such an exception.

The Onion was amused. “I’m surprised the president deems it wise to spend taxpayer money for his lawyer to write letters to The Onion,” Scott Dikkers, editor in chief, wrote to Mr. Dixton. He suggested the money be used instead for tax breaks for satirists.

Because of this image, we’re fully waiting for either our satirist tax-break or a presidential lawsuit (seriously, how rad would it be to explain goatse [safe for work] to a judge in a frickin’ courtroom?).

Update: It has come to our attention that the person writing the titles for our posts is a complete idiot (The Onion has been given a stern cease and desist with a finger-wagging, not being sued). We apologize for the screwup and have sacked the title-writer.

Another Update: It has come to our attention that one shouldn’t use HTML in the titles of posts. For this absurdity, we have sacked the replacement title-writer and had his family shot. We regret the inconvenience.

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Congress puts Gun Reponsibility back on Owners

handgun manufacturingIn a rare good move on the part of Congress, a legal shield for gun manufacturers has passed that should bring a halt to the overzealous anti-gun lawsuits that have plagued courts for the past couple of decades:

The bill, which is identical to one approved in July by the Senate, is aimed at ending a spate of lawsuits by individuals and municipalities, including New York City, seeking to hold gun manufacturers and dealers liable for negligence when their weapons are used in crimes.

While it bars such suits, the measure contains an exception allowing certain cases involving defective weapons or criminal behavior by a gun maker or dealer, such as knowingly selling a weapon to someone who has failed a criminal background check.

This is a big win for libertarians, and I’m happy to report on some Republican-controlled legislation we can (finally) be proud of. Of course, there’s still quite a few other rights that have been trampled, and a win for the second amendment shouldn’t imply we’re about to get all cozy with Republican Congress-critters just because they finally got one right.

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Our best interest…

During a TV/Radio broadcast today concerning Hurricane Wilma slamming into Florida Governor Jeb Bush commented on residents who ignored the mandatory evacuation warnings and settled in for the brutal weather:

In our society you can’t force people to do what’s in their best interest…

You can imagine the inquisitive stares I received as I gut-laughed for five minutes straight…

EVERY DAY the government uses FORCE to pay for programs they believe to be in our best interest! By FORCE, the government takes and spends billions and billions of dollars claiming that this is what America wants, what their constituents want, when typically… it isn’t!

By FORCE the government is paying for a war,initially touted to be in our BEST INTEREST, that most American’s disagree with. Through FORCE the people pay for a failing education system, the lost and uncessary battle of the ‘War on Drugs,’ religious institutions through ‘Faith-Based Initiatives,’ the welfare state and the list goes on and on…

Monday’s are typically rough and humorless for me, thanks for breaking the monotony Jeb.

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Will Sheehan Run As A Libertarian?

The word from Third Party Watch is that anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan may run as a Libertarian against Hillary Clinton.

Prominent anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan said last week she could not bring herself to vote for the re-election next year of US Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) unless HRC first publicly admits her vote for the Iraq war was a mistake. That subsequently prompted NY Libertarian Party State Chair John Clifton to issue a statement inviting Sheehan to seek the party’s US Senate nomination next year as a peace candidate. The Libertarian Party has already called for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. Clifton was the LP’s US Senate nominee against Clinton in 2000.

Read full story.

Now I cannot support Cindy at this time because I don’t know her views on anything but Iraq. I am not going to make a public announcement for or against Ms. Sheehan at this time but it is an interesting bit of news.

What do you think, would Ms. Sheehan be a good or a bad choice for the Libertarian Party?

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Vermont Pulls Out the Secede Card

Secede PicObviously this is more a symbolic gesture, but a group by the name of theSecond Vermont Republic is trying to garner support to secede from the Union.

The organizations goals are two fold:

Organizers of the convention say it has two objectives: First, to raise the level of awareness of Vermonters of the feasibility of independence as a viable alternative to a nation which has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable. And second, to provide an example and a process for other states and nations which may be seriously considering separatism, secession, independence, and similar devolutionary strategies.

Personally, I applaud their efforts. But you know there is not a chance in Hell that the federal government would not fight tooth and nail to prevent this from occurring. I mean, where else would people go and, um, ski in the winter? More importantly, this would give other states the green light to jump ship.

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Church of Reality becomes Official

Church of Reality fishThe Church of Reality, a religion that is based on believing in everything that is real (e.g. no imaginary friends in the sky), has become an officially recognized church/religion in the eyes of the IRS (via Boing Boing):

We have got word from the IRS that the 501(C)3 tax exempt status of the Church of Reality has been approved. We will get the paperwork next week.

In related news, creationism and intelligent design in the science classroom is under fire, with a leading proponent admitting that intelligent design theory is no more or less plausible than astrology (and by extrapolation, mythology):

Astrology would be considered a scientific theory if judged by the same criteria used by a well-known advocate of Intelligent Design to justify his claim that ID is science, a landmark US trial heard on Tuesday.

Under cross examination, ID proponent Michael Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, admitted his definition of “theory” was so broad it would also include astrology.

Good to know that in the interest of science, we can look forward having our children taught the speculation that the reason some people are smarter or more athletic is because Zeus was a randy deity back in the day.

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Tax Payer Money Equals Sex and Booze

I don’t care what other people do with their own money as long as they are not hurting me but I damn sure don’t want to pay for anyone else’s sex and booze. If you want to buy alcohol and strippers fine but do so with your own money.

BOURNE — Hurricane Katrina evacuees hastily handed $2,000 in federal relief money last month have been living it up on Cape Cod, blowing cash on booze and strippers, a Herald investigation has found.

Herald reporters witnessed blatant public drinking at a Falmouth strip mall by Katrina victims living at taxpayer expense at Camp Edwards on Otis Air Force Base. And strippers at Zachary’s nightclub in Mashpee, a few miles from the Bourne base, report giving lap dances to several evacuees.

“They were tipping me $5 a pop,” said a Zachary’s dancer named Angel. “I told them I felt bad taking their money. But I still took it.”

Now imagine why we have a crisis of poverty. The people spend all their money on taxes to provide others with entertainment.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued more than $1.5 billion to 607,000 Katrina victims in the form of individual cash handouts of $2,000. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent, FEMA officials said.

Read full story.

Remind anyone of government funded sex.

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Former Abu Ghraib Cmdr points blame at D.C.

KarpinskiDemoted from Brigadier General after allegations that dereliction of duty led to the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, Col. Janis Karpinski is trying to clear her name from the scandal. As commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade in charge of Iraq’s chaotic prison system, Karpinski said she wasn’t truly in charge of Abu Ghraib when the abuses occurred. From an exclusive Savannah Now interview with Karpinski, now residing in Hilton Head, SC:

Karpinski said she wasn’t truly in charge of Abu Ghraib when the abuses occurred.

Gen. Geoffrey Miller, commander of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, was. She thinks Miller was ordered by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to set up a similar operation in Iraq to gather intelligence to capture Saddam Hussein.

“He (Miller) said he was going to make Abu Ghraib the center for interrogation for all of Iraq. And that’s what he did,” she said. “Military police functions are entirely different than military intelligence. It was that blurring of the lines that created problems.”

Rather than an isolated incident involving “seven bad apples,” Karpinski argues the prisoner abuses were the result of “conflicting orders and confused standards extending from the military commanders in Iraq all the way to the summit of civilian leadership in Washington.”

From the first female general to command troops in a war zone to scapegoat for Pentagon interrogation policies gone awry, there’s a definite feeling that this story isn’t going away anytime soon. And beware the wrath of a woman general scorned.

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Schools Discourage Kids from Using Playgrounds

Ahhh, the nanny state continues to grow by leaps and bounds, unlike the school children who are now told “not to run” and are advised against using the swings, merry-go-rounds, and teeter-totters. Apparently, fun involves risk and parents don’t want to take that chance. And neither do the county officials that are worried about lawsuits.

The National Program for Playground Safety (I wish I was making this up) is one of the organizations trying to get rid of the classics, stating that “Kids aren’t using them the way they’re supposed to.” Apparently one can’t try to launch their kid brother in the air with a teeter-totter anymore. I guess we should just put fences around the playgrounds and have kids just imagine having fun with them. In fact, we can put vending machine right next to them so they can get fatter too!

Getting back to the amusing NPPS, if you’re a parent that doesn’t know how to have fun, you can actually buy videos that will give you step by step instructions on how to make your child equally not fun and overly protected from such harms as “the plastic seat was hot” and “the monkey bars were too cold.”

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Secret Tracking Codes Embedded in Printouts

Decrypt thisDo you own or use a color laser printer? If you do, chances are that there is a secret code printed on each page you send out. According to the TG Daily:

For the better part of the last year, computer experts have known about the existence of printer tracking technology. Last November, PC World published the article, Government Uses Color Laser Printer Technology to Track Documents, which discussed the existence of printer tracking dots. Seth Schoen, staff technologist at the EFF, told us that the PC World article spurred EFF to investigate further. Initially Schoen, like PC World, speculated that the dots would only contain the printer’s serial and model number, but now it is confirmed that there is much more information included. “As it turned out, there is also the date and time, which is accurate to the minute. We didn’t expect that,” says Shoen.

A press release from the Electronic Frontier Foundation provides:

Schoen says that these tracking dots are “all over” every page printed from many printer models. The dots are almost invisible, but can be seen by shining a simple blue LED light on the page. The blue light increases the contrast of the yellow dots and causes them to appear black against the paper background. In the case of one particular printer, the Xerox DocuColor, the dots appear as an eight by fifteen grid that is repeated throughout the page.

You can see the dots on color prints from machines made by Xerox, Canon, and other manufacturers (for a list of the printers we investigated so far, see: http://www.eff.org/Privacy/printers/list.php). The dots are yellow, less than one millimeter in diameter, and are typically repeated over each page of a document. In order to see the pattern, you need a blue light, a magnifying glass, or a microscope (for instructions on how to see the dots, see: http://www.eff.org/Privacy/printers/docucolor/).

I’ve got a printer which I use primarily for high quality and high volume political printing runs. Odds are that many readers of this site have recieved material printed on it, as I lugged the heavy beast to Austin, TX during the Badnarik campaign. Tens of thousands of pages from the printer were also distributed at the LP Convention in Atlanta. One poster I distributed at the convention was covered nationally by an AP Wire here. In this case, a woman was booted out of the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport for passing out anti-war flyers.

It pretty scary that big brother can track the printers of political materials. Imagine the Brits going after the pamphleteers in the years preceding our Revolutionary War. However, in my case, they were not likely to have been able to track the documents I printed, as my printer does not appear on the list of printers known contain the embedded code. I am using a Tektronix Phaser 850DP, which uses thermal wax, as opposed to a laser process. It is my guess that the thermal process makes it more diffficult to hide the code.

Perhaps former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas said it best with: “We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government. The aggressive breaches of privacy by the Government increase by geometric proportions.”

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Contrast this to the 1765 Stamp Act:

The Stamp Act 1765 was the fourth Stamp Act to be passed by the British Parliament and required all legal documents, permits, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets, and playing cards in the American colonies to carry a tax stamp. The Act was enacted in order to defray the cost of maintaining the military presence protecting the colonies.

It was of course met with great resistance, with many tax collectors being harassed and tarred and feathered. The similarity of requiring a digital stamp nowadays, with the tax built into the cost of the printer, is none too appealing either.

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Former Seattle Police Chief on Drug Legalization

Norm Stamper, the former chief of the Seattle Police Department, is no stranger to the drug legalization scene. He wrote the book “Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing” and now has an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times, making a strong argument for law enforcement to Let those dopers be (via TMN):

But no, I don’t favor decriminalization. I favor legalization, and not just of pot but of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, psychotropics, mushrooms and LSD.

[...]Prohibition of alcohol fell flat on its face. The prohibition of other drugs rests on an equally wobbly foundation. Not until we choose to frame responsible drug use – not an oxymoron in my dictionary – as a civil liberty will we be able to recognize the abuse of drugs, including alcohol, for what it is: a medical, not a criminal, matter.

[...]How would “regulated legalization” work? It would:

1) Permit private companies to compete for licenses to cultivate, harvest, manufacture, package and peddle drugs.

2) Create a new federal regulatory agency (with no apologies to libertarians or paleo-conservatives).

3) Set and enforce standards of sanitation, potency and purity.

4) Ban advertising.

5) Impose (with congressional approval) taxes, fees and fines to be used for drug-abuse prevention and treatment and to cover the costs of administering the new regulatory agency.

6) Police the industry much as alcoholic beverage control agencies keep a watch on bars and liquor stores at the state level. Such reforms would in no way excuse drug users who commit crimes: driving while impaired, providing drugs to minors, stealing an iPod or a Lexus, assaulting one’s spouse, abusing one’s child. The message is simple. Get loaded, commit a crime, do the time.

This is a long-overdue endorsement, but I have to wonder if the full-steam-ahead approach to legalization will bear fruit or invite complete dismissal as crazy. Hopefully his suggestions gain traction in the public debate, but I’m not holding my breath.

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More Katrina Gun Grabs

F is for FemaAccording to 2theadvocate.com, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office has asked FEMA to ban guns in an evacuee travel trailer park (via No Quarters).

But a top sheriff’s official said that while it was a “close decision,” public safety became the most-important concern rather than constitutional rights.

“I’m a member of the NRA and a firm supporter of the NRA in most instances,” said Col. Greg Phares, chief criminal deputy for the Sheriff’s Office.

“But in this instance, I had to balance the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office with constitutional rights,” Phares added. “I think it’s the right decision. It wasn’t a comfortable decision, but it is right.”

That NRA members selectively forgot that little line ending with “shall not be infringed” once again reinforces my unwillingness to be a member of that organization.

I am a bit confused about the following segment from the article:

Phares said he doesn’t consider the ban on a guns a constitutional violation because tenants can decide whether to sign the lease or not.

“It’s a voluntary choice,” he said.

However, he did admit the evacuees who signed up for the trailers had limited choices on where to live.

“The only problem is a lot of these people don’t have any other options at this point,” Phares said.

If a lot of these people “don’t have any other options”, how can it be “a voluntary choice”?

Your displeasure may be voiced by calling Sheriff Elmer B. Litchfield at
(225) 389-5055.

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2006 Campaigns’s Theme: “Don’t Elect the Crook”

Ohio coingate scandalWith scandals embroiling incumbents and parties in over a fifth of states (Alaska, Connecticut, Kentucky, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin), in 2006 the campaign theme for challengers is clearly ethics (via Political Wire):

Even as clouds of scandal hang over Washington, charges of political wrongdoing have surfaced in state capitals in Ohio, New Mexico, Tennessee and elsewhere across the country, touching members of both parties and elevating ethics as a campaign issue in nearly a dozen states.

[...] However, the fact that scandal has brushed members of both parties makes it less clear whether one of them will benefit dramatically over the other.

[...] “There has obviously been an enormous avalanche of bad stories, many of them revolving around ethics, having to do with the Bush administration. Clearly that hurts Republicans,” Carrick said. “[But] there is the possibility that this doesn’t take on as much of a partisan definition as it does the definition of the ins versus the outs.”

In that case, incumbents of both parties will have to worry in 2006.

This is a cut and dried plan for amazing Libertarian upsets if I ever heard one. Keep hammering on the scandal and corruption of both parties, present a candidate who’s sane and electable, raise the money to run ads and we could win some serious races in 2006.

Previously: 2006: Year of the Independent?

(disclaimer: Stephen VanDyke is a paid consultant for Peirce for Ohio)

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Top 10 Weblog Posting Usability Mistakes

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!

This is a great blogging guideline by the guru of usability (with some latitude for #8 — mixing topics) that all bloggers should follow (via Boing Boing). I think Hammer of Truth actually nails every one of these with the exception of #5:

5. Classic Hits are Buried
Hopefully, you’ll write some pieces with lasting value for readers outside your fan base. Don’t relegate such classics to the archives, where people can only find something if they know you posted it, say, in May 2003.

Highlight a few evergreens in your navigation system and link directly to them. For example, my own list of almost 300 Alertbox columns starts by saying, “Read these first: Usability 101 and Top Ten Mistakes of Web Design.”

Also, remember to link to your past pieces in newer postings. Don’t assume that readers have been with you from the beginning; give them background and context in case they want to read more about your ideas.

I’ve been wanting to implement a “most popular” page by day/month/year/forever, but the metrics can be a little difficult, since a post that’s been around since 2001 may have far more pageviews than one from 2004, but have no comments (and proper ranking algorithms can be a bit tedious).

And of course, this is going to be a helpful guide to help teach neophytes about blogging.

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Slouching Towards Gattaca

LITE-U Portable Criminal Booking SystemEngadget informs us of a portable fingerprint scanning machine that makes it easier for law enforcement to book people roadside for the ostensible reason of committing a crime (like having a tail-light out):

Committing crimes isn’t really our thing, but we appreciate the fact that some people have chosen a felony-filled lifestyle, and understand that the whole booking process can be quite lengthy upon arrest. Well the MTV-generation criminal doesn’t have the time nor the attention span to sit around getting fingerprinted, photographed, and cavity-searched (it’s basic economics: the more “leisure” time you spend in lock-up, the less available “working” time you have to spend in the underground economy), so Smiths Heimann Biometrics is helping bring the police station to you.

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to understand the complete implications of another system that makes it one step easier for the techno-police to create national database profiles on average Americans. I posited the following in the comments there:

How long until my fingers are getting live-scanned at a routine traffic stop or DUI roadblock? :(

I’m holding out for the DNA scanners (cotton swab in the mouth) that instantly pops up your identity before people really start freaking.

For those not in the know, Gattaca is a futuristic sci-fi movie where a person’s entire existence is ruled by the purity and viability of their DNA.

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Support the Troops? Nah, Just Bill Them

Robert LoriaWow, talk about literally adding insult to injury (direct quoting Wonkette):

Some would-be patriots wrap themselves in the flag, Bush surrounds himself with people in uniform, and his rhetoric about the bravery and nobility of the American military is flowery enough to almost cover the odor of Iraq War flop sweat.And despite his reluctance to make return visits, he shows genuine grief for the fallen and sympathy for their families. But when he praises those who have paid the “ultimate price for our security and freedom,” do you think he means the $6,200 that the Army tried to collect from Robert Loria? Loria is a veteran who left his expensive body armor in Iraq. Along with his left hand.

The Washington Post today reports on soldiers battles with Uncle Sam, the loan shark: “We’ve sent debt notices while they’re still in combat, in harm’s way. . . For even a single soldier, this is unacceptable,” says one Congressman. Unfortunately, it’s something like 331.

Here’s the WaPo story: For Injured U.S. Troops, ‘Financial Friendly Fire’

Update by Rick Rajter: Christian Science Monitor has picked up the story as well.

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2006: Year of the Independent?

Over at Governing.com’s 13th Floor, there is some poignant speculation that the conditions are ripe for third parties and independents to make a move in 2006 due to dissatisfaction with both Republicans and Democrats:

The current political environment is more favorable to third-party candidates than any time since the early 1990s. That’s when independents Lowell Weicker and Angus King won governorships in Connecticut and Maine, and Ross Perot made his surprisingly strong run at the White House. Today, polls suggest that the one-two punch of Iraq and Katrina has led many to view the Republicans as poor stewards of government. Scandals at the federal level and in Ohio, Kentucky and Connecticut haven’t helped Republicans, either.

Interestingly, a commenter noted that economist Dr. Bill Peirce is running for Ohio Governor (thanks Gaile!).

The cat’s out of the bag that we’ve been soft launching the campaign for the past couple months, and it seems some people are starting to take notice. Next week we’re going to have our first blitzkrieg online campaign to raise Bill’s profile, so articles like this should shine a positive light on the Peirce campaign.

Of course, there’s still lots to do between now and Monday.

(disclaimer: I am a paid Internet strategy consultant for the Peirce for Ohio campaign, so my views are obviously skewed in favor of his candidacy)

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LP’s Zero Dues Initiative Under Fire

We got the tipoff that the Libertarian Party’s Zero Dues initiative is being appealed to the Jucidiary Committee on the grounds that it violates the bylaws. Sean Haugh initially brought up the point that zero may not be a valid number and could be challenged:

Many who voted for zero dues subscribe to a logic that since zero is a number, and the range of numbers the LNC may use to set dues is not specified, then the LNC does indeed have the authority to set that number at zero. I respect the fact that they believe they are not violating the Bylaws with this action and so would not accuse them of deliberately flaunting them. Unfortunately they are incorrect.

We’re not going to pass along who we’ve heard has filed the appeal, but suffice to say I disagree with the spirit of the request.

While I am a strong supporter of zero dues and think it is a great way to increase membership numbers (with or without the replacement pledge system), I have to say it would be sad to see this initiative repealed on a technicality until a full ratification can be brought at the July ’06 Convention in Portland.

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DoD Wants a File on You

Defense Intelligence AgencyEven though this gets thoroughly trounced each year (and the years before), like a perennial whack-a-mole the, Department of Defense and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) keep trying to sneak a domestic spying agency back through legislature:

The Pentagon would be granted new powers to conduct undercover intelligence gathering inside the United States — and then withhold any information about it from the public — under a series of little noticed provisions now winding their way through Congress.

[...]The provision was included in last year’s version of the same bill, but was knocked out after its details were reported by NEWSWEEK and critics charged it could lead to “spying” on U.S. citizens. But late last month, with no public hearings or debate, a similar amendment was put back into the same authorization bill — an annual measure governing U.S. intelligence agencies — at the request of the Pentagon.

Informants, neighborhood spies, government watchers… is this USSA yet?

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