Monday, March 26, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Partisan Hackery

We've been following this story as it has become the scandal de jour, and perhaps the scandal that the new Congress uses to corral the Bush-ites (well, we can hope anyway).

ants are our Friends

Jane Mayer writes a sketch of one of the Bush-donors who got the job, without much prosecutorial experience, but plenty of experience doing Unka Rove's dirty business.

Jane Mayer: Wind on Capitol Hill: Bullets: The Talk of the Town: The New Yorker

...
But last week Tim Griffin, the recently installed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, was not enjoying his new assignment. “It’s no fun being me right now,” he said over his cell phone from Arkansas. Griffin is one of eight U.S. Attorneys whose recent appointments by the President are at the center of a political controversy that has overtaken Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other top Bush Administration officials. They stand accused of manipulating the prosecutorial arm of the federal government for political purposes, and then misleading Congress about it. ...

Griffin, who is thirty-eight, was appointed U.S. Attorney in December. A former research director for the Republican National Committee and an aide to Karl Rove, the White House political adviser, Griffin had relatively little prosecutorial experience. Nonetheless, e-mails between Justice Department and White House officials show that Bush Administration officials pushed out Griffin’s well-respected predecessor, H. E. (Bud) Cummins, to make room for Griffin, in part because “it was important to . . . Karl [Rove], etc.” Griffin did not undergo a confirmation process before the Senate Judiciary Committee, as is required by the Constitution

....
In congressional hearings last month, Mark Pryor, a Democratic senator from Arkansas, raised concerns about newspaper accounts of Griffin’s political work, which, he said, has “been characterized as ‘caging’ African-American votes. This arises from allegations that Mr. Griffin and others in the R.N.C. were targeting African-Americans in Florida for voter challenges during the 2004 Presidential campaign.”

...


to me, seems like Mr. Griffin was rewarded especially for smearing Al Gore and John Kerry:
Few U.S. Attorneys are better equipped than Griffin to dodge incoming political artillery, because few have launched more of it themselves. As Griffin put it in a BBC documentary called “Digging the Dirt [not available for viewing in the U.S. at the moment, but transcript here],” which featured the opposition research outfit that he helped run for George Bush in his Presidential race against Al Gore, in 2000, “We think of ourselves as the creators of the ammunition in a war. . . . We make the bullets.” The documentary showed Griffin leading a team of researchers focussed on spotting inconsistencies, no matter how inconsequential, in Gore’s statements, and packaging them for the media.

In 2004, Griffin reprised the role, leading the behind-the-scenes effort to disseminate negative information about John Kerry, the Democratic Presidential nominee. As Rove’s protégé, he set up a boiler-room rapid-response operation at 129 Portland Street, in Boston. Security was tight, with guards and a buzzer system. Upstairs, thirty operatives worked in a maze of offices filled with computers and TVs. Among other things, the Republicans scrutinized Kerry’s parking violations and unearthed old gossip items and tabloid accounts of his troubled first marriage.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Patriot Act and Domestic Terrorism

The Patriot Act is ruining our country. I'm ashamed that Dick Durbin recently defended the Patriot Act. Doesn't he have more sense than that?

The ACLU parses the definition of domestic terrorist, and finds it to be alarmingly open-ended. If the government calls you a terrorist, you are one, and suddenly your civil liberties don't exist anymore, poof. Your assets and your organization's assets can be seized, even before there is any trial, and if you cannot afford a lawyer, tough. None will be provided.

American Civil Liberties Union : How the USA PATRIOT Act redefines "Domestic Terrorism"


Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Pub. L. No. 107-52) expanded the definition of terrorism to cover "domestic," as opposed to international, terrorism.   A person engages in domestic terrorism if they do an act "dangerous to human life" that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the United States, if the act appears to be intended to:  (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.  Additionally, the acts have to occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States and if they do not, may be regarded as international terrorism.

Section 802 does not create a new crime of domestic terrorism. However, it does expand the type of conduct that the government can investigate when it is investigating "terrorism." The USA PATRIOT Act expanded governmental powers to investigate terrorism, and some of these powers are applicable to domestic terrorism.

The definition of domestic terrorism is broad enough to encompass the activities of several prominent activist campaigns and organizations. Greenpeace, Operation Rescue, Vieques Island and WTO protesters and the Environmental Liberation Front have all recently engaged in activities that could subject them to being investigated as engaging in domestic terrorism.


continues

(h/t) Cory Doctorow adds:
In a chilling analysis of the PATRIOT Act, the ACLU points out that the new definition of "domestic terrorist" redefines any US criminal as a terrorist, exempt from due process and an open trial. .... "Terrorism" is now officially meaningless: as far as the PATRIOT Act is concerned, if you do anything the government doesn't like, you're a terrorist. When you put it that way, it seems even less likely that we'll win the "war on terrorism."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Impeachment

Ellen McKay - my new hero. Misleading Congress is an impeachable offense.

Vermont Votes to Impeach Bush/Cheney

...
Ellen McKay popped up and proposed the impeachment of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
...
“It became clear that no one was going home until they had the chance to discuss the resolutions and vote on them,” explained David Rosenberg, a political science professor at Middlebury College. “And being a good politician, he allowed the vote to happen.”

By an overwhelming voice vote, Middlebury called for impeachment.

So it has gone this week at town meetings across Vermont, most of which were held Tuesday.

Late Tuesday night, there were confirmed reports that 36 towns had backed impeachment resolutions, and the number was expected to rise.

In one town, Putney, the vote for impeachment was unanimous.

In addition to Governor Douglas's Middlebury, the town of Hartland, which is home to Congressman Peter Welch, backed impeachment. So, too, did Jericho, the home of Gaye Symington, the speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives.

Organizers of the grassroots drive to get town meetings to back impeachment resolutions hope that the overwhelming support the initiative has received will convince Welch to introduce articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney. That's something the Democratic congressman is resisting, even though his predecessor, Bernie Sanders, signed on last year to a proposal by Michigan Congressman John Conyers to set up a House committee to look into impeachment.

Vermont activists also want their legislature to approve articles of impeachment and forward them to Congress. But Symington, also a Democrat, has discouraged the initiative, despite the fact that more than 20 representatives have cosponsored an impeachment resolution.

“It's going to be hard for Peter Welch and Gaye Symington to say there's no sentiment for impeachment, now that their own towns have voted for it,” says Dan DeWalt, a Newfane, Vermont, town selectman who started the impeachment initiative last year in his town, and who now plans to launch a campaign to pressure Welch and Symington to respect and reflect the will of the people.


Around the country, more and more community leaders are taking actions that our elected representatives are too cowardly to take themselves. Wouldn't it be cool if?.....

DHL didn't suck

I've taken my shots at DHL over the past few years, and as you probably noticed, there is a massive comment thread slowly but steadily being built with other complaints about the maladroitness of the corporation, but my most recent DHL experience was positive.





MacBookPro Battery Explosion other side
last week, sat down at my MacBookPro in the morning, and noticed the machine was no longer sitting level on my desk. Flipped it over, and realized the battery had expanded severely enough to bend the metal casing.



MacBookPro Battery Explosion

Luckily the battery was still in warranty (received computer May 2006).




I talked to Apple around 11:01 AM (per my Now Contact record), read off my serial number to the Apple support dude (in Austin), and was told the details of the exchange. I asked if they would use a different carrier other than DHL, but it wasn't an option. However, the next day, DHL delivered the battery without incident, I chatted with the delivery guy about HD-TV while placing my old battery in the package and resealing it. Two days later, Apple sent me a note that the defective battery had been received, and I wouldn't be charged for anything. Coolness.