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?


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.


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)


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.


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?


Bush and the Boogeyman

homeland security chartThis isn’t news to me, but it’s the first time I’ve seen an actual statistical analysis of the President’s approval ratings versus terror warnings. The crux argument or hypothesis is simple human nature. People look towards higher authority (be it their God or their leaders) in time of great strife… but could give a rats ass about them when things are fine. There is a good book called “The Progress Paradox“, which goes into more detail for those that are interested.

The results match up quite well. Every time the president is getting heat (say for indictments over the Valerie Plame outing) – Al Qaeda appears to scare us back into the corner. If things are getting really bad, the Department of Homeland (In)Security will play with their color coded chart. Oh no, we’re up to orange! I guess it’s not safe to go to the store and buy some pears today. Terrorists might get me.

Of course, those “authentic” documents come into question when Al Qaeda later calls them forgeries. So these terrorists who go out of their way to claim responsibility for all these attacks, all of a sudden retreat when we supposedly stumble upon a letter? This is as stupid as the under cover British soldiers getting caught dressed up as insurgents and shooting at the Iraqi police.

Point being, Bush might say he hates Al Qaeda, Saddam, Syria, Iran, and everyone else we’ve deemed terroritsts… but it’s the best thing that’s happened to him. If it wasn’t for 9/11 and Iraq, where would he be? 9/11 alone gave him a 30 percentage point gain! Bush would have to hand every american a cool 10 grand before he would see a non-terrorism related ratings jump of that magnitude (IMHO).

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Rick beat me to this post by a few minutes, so I want to add that MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann did a great story on this tonight, highlighting over ten examples of strange conincidences between Bush approval slumps and terror warnings (video links). Sayeth former Secretary of Homeland Security Ridge looking back on the terror alert level changes, issued on his watch:

“More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it. Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don’t necessarily put the country on (alert): there were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said ‘for that?’

We’ve also covered these weird coincidences in the past. It’s good to see them finally getting some mainstream media coverage.


Desperate for Approval Ratings Boost, Bush Stages Scripted Teleconference With Soldiers

Bush Staged Photo OpAhhh, it may have worked before the internet grew… when rumors that such an event was staged could be stifled before hitting the headlines, but not now. Even the main stream media is catching on to Bush’s attempts to round up support.

Ya see, cell phones and blogs can expose anything in seconds. Eventually, the mainstream media can’t just let the blogsphere have all the fun and get all the stories… they’ll lose readers! So when pressured, they’ll report it to save face. Even Fox News posted an article about it. I bet Bill O’Reilly is hopping mad about that one!

But I can’t blame the man for wanting the teleconference to go as smoothly as possible. I mean, practice makes perfect!

A brief rehearsal ensued.

“OK, so let’s just walk through this,” Barber said. “Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?”

“Captain Smith,” Kennedy said.

“Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?” she asked.

“Captain Kennedy,” the soldier replied.

And so it went.

Then throw in some jokes and some friendly chit chat, and you’re good to go. Except when you get caught later.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: The White House is still adamantly denying the event was scripted. I just love it when they insult my intelligence so blatantly.

Another Update: NPR has the audio of the rehearsal.

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LNC Launches Libertarian Leadership School

I\'m blogging thisI’m glad to see that the Libertarian Party is launching the Libertarian Leadership School (LLS) in the coming months. From the website:

The LLS offers courses and training on a variety of topics ranging from Candidate Training to Ballot Access. The LLS is open to all members of the Libertarian Party. Courses are a minimum of six weeks long and require a significant time commitment from students.

I got an email from Shane Cory asking me to teach the course for Blogging 101 (and tentatively 102 — campaign blogging) which will cover everything from setting up, configuring and theming the blog software (WordPress being the obvious choice for instructional purposes) to self-promotion and visitor growth to news gathering to posting styles, with all the steps in between that define what makes a blog popular. The first class is expected to begin in January, so bookmark the LLS website now if you plan to enroll.

I’m excited to be a part of this new leadership school with the LP and I look forward to teaching blogging to libertarians (with the caveat being that I will be creating more competition for Hammer of Truth, heh).


Cell Phone Tracking

Word comes from Brian J. that the state of Missouri may begin spying on drivers through their cell phones. Now being a Missourian this scares me I mean the Department of Transportation that doesn’t even do a good job fixing the roads wants to spy on me.

The Missouri Department of Transportation will spend $3 million annually on a program to monitor the movements of individuals on highways via their cell phones — without their knowledge or consent.

Delcan NET, a Canadian company, developed the system which triangulates the location of each driver by monitoring the signal sent from the cell phone as it is handed off from one cell tower to the next. Each phone is uniquely identified and the information is compared with a highway map to record on what road each motorist is traveling at any given time. The system also records the speed of each vehicle, opening up another potential ticketing technology.

Sounds like it’s time to blame Canada.

“The traffic community has been really excited for quite some time about the possibility of being able to use cell phones to track vehicles,” Valerie Briggs, program manager for transportation operations at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials told the Associated Press. “Almost everyone has a cell phone, so you have a lot of potential data points, and you can track data almost anywhere on the whole (road) system.”

Read full story.

Spy on people through their phones, hell why were at it why don’t we just put a camera in everyone’s bedroom. A start of a police state? If it looks like one, acts like one umm maybe it is one.

Update by Rick Rajter: Not to mention a recently granted patent to the NSA (number 6947978 ) that allows for geographically locating a webuser by analyzing his or her traffic and essentially triangulating the position much like one finds the epicenter of an earthquake. Kinda scary. Here’s an article for more information.


Nationwide Trucker Strike Slated for October 31st

trucker rigs lined up

We got the tipoff last month that there was trouble stirring in the trucking industry, with a possible strike between September 8 & 12 (that never panned out). But it looks like the trucker mantra may be to keep on rolling, as another strike is now scheduled for October 31st. From the somewhat dubious source (dubious, because anyone can issue a press release):

Owner operator, Mychael says “The freight rates are the same as they were 10 years ago, yet the price of fuel has tripled. This shut down has been a long time coming and we need to open some eyes!”

[…]The trucking industry is the largest and most needed in the country. Close to 12,000 small businesses in the industry have gone under in the last few years. The average truck gets 6 miles to the gallon in fuel. When fuel prices are three dollars a gallon, it takes fifty cents per mile alone in fuel to run that truck. With most freight rates at $1.00 a mile, ( which is what many owner operators receive, however, a lot are only getting 88 cents a mile), you can see that there is barely anything left out of profits by the time you figure fuel, not to mention, maintenance and repairs on equipment. So how are these people getting their families fed?

Interestingly, there seems to be little organization at the moment, however don’t be fooled, as previous independent trucker strikes have worked well in the past. Earlier this summer, a 1 week New Brunswick trucker strike sent scores of Canadians searching across the border for bread and other essentials in Maine:

see more…

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Bush to Miers: “P.S. No more public scatology”

P.S. No more public scatology

This has to be the most bizarre in-joke I’ve ever seen. An actual letter from Bush to Miers (barely legible handwriting notwithstanding) ended with a strange postscript — P.S. No more public scatology. For those unaware, scatology is an obsession with excrement or excretory functions.

Media sources seem baffled as well, with most reports pointing out a warmer than usual relationship between the two:

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers told George W. Bush in a 1997 birthday card that he was “the best governor ever” and, in a separate note to her boss, said she hoped his twin daughters recognize their parents are “cool.”

I’m not sure if that warmth is coming from a steaming pile of poo or something else, but from now on I’m replacing the phrase “taking the Browns to the Super Bowl” with “nominating Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.”

Update: Some of you are saying this could be a Bushism for eschatology (the branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world). Because you know, Bush is like the special kid with the helmet according to some of you.

If Miers is indeed a doom-and-gloomer fundie, that alone could flush her nomination with more moderate Republicans.


Harriet Miers: The SCOTUS Anti-Nominee?

Harriet MiersWe haven’t done a whole lot of coverage of the Harriet Miers nomination for Supreme Court justice, mostly because she seems like such a long-shot, but some recent news has made us wonder just what the Bush administration was smoking when they nominated her.

Half of Senate Republicans are shying away from this blatant display of cronyism (defined here by heading the candidate committee and then getting selected herself), as reported in a poll by the conservative Washington Times newspaper:

What’s troubling for President Bush, however, is that 27 Republican senators — almost half of his party’s members in the chamber — have publicly expressed specific doubts about Miss Miers or said they must withhold any support whatsoever for her nomination until after the hearings.

Things are so bad, it appears the Bush administration has blundered their way into selecting a losing nominee with a majority of the conservative crowd. Glenn Reynolds weighed in with this poignant remark:

More and more, I have to wonder what the White House was thinking with this. First of all, when you’re already under fire for cronyism, and you nominate someone who’s, well, a crony, you ought to be locked-and-loaded in terms of response. They weren’t.

Second of all, they seem to have managed to convince a lot of people on the social right that she’s too liberal, while people on the libertarian-right worry that she’s too much a fan of government power. Third, their response to critics and complaints has been slow and weak.

Our international associate over at Finland for Thought thinks that perhaps Miers is an anti-nominee, and that this is a Machiavellian plan where she was never intended to win and will only soften the blow for a later, more qualified candidate:

Stop taking Bush’s latest supreme court nominee, Harriet Miers, so seriously. Bush knows she won’t get the seat, the Republicans know she won’t get the seat, and even she knows she won’t get the seat. She’s just a decoy.

[…] The plan is the toss a few decoys like this into the mix. The Republicans will make the Democrats look like a gang of partisan assholes. Then after a few decoys, Bush will throw in his real contender who will take the seat.

Whatever the deal is, all bets are off on Miers, even if she were the perfect libertarian wet-dream nominee (she’s not), the administration has completely FUBARed this beyond hope at this point.

Update: Speaking of cronyism, don’t miss CronyJobs.com, whose slogan reads: “The hottest government careers — for entitled plutocrats like you!” Good satire of the whole Bush administration cronyism scandal.