Monday, April 30, 2007

Cartoons, And A College Newspaper Editorial

Since it's been a while, some cartoons.

Chaos In Iraq

How Can We Win?

Bush & Cheney Heart Mormons (Just don't tell the other Christians)

In Utah, wireless internet hurts kids (if we keep it, we'll have to act like parents!)

Now the editorial. . . .

While randomly jumping around the internet today, I found a link to Weber State University's student newspaper, the Signpost, and naturally, I wanted to see what they were writing about. With the end of the school year approaching there was a lot of wrap up the year/thanks for everything types of stories, and that's to be expected. The one that stood out though was Trevor Cave's editorial on the media bias on the Iraq war. To sum it up, he feels that media is only covering the sensational/violent/dramatic side of the war and it's corresponding debate in our government. Not enough attention is paid to the human interest stories (my words) that happen in Iraq since we've been involved.

Last week, 178 people died from an attack by suicide car bombers. We saw pictures of torn up and blackened vehicles from the explosions; blood-streaked cars where people had been badly injured and killed; but we didn't see pictures of the local populace helping the injured and grieving.
We just don't hear about progress and happiness because it doesn't sell as well as violence and criticism.

While I think there are probably good stories happening in Iraq that aren't being reported, I don't think they are enough to make the war worth continued cost to America in terms of soldiers lives and taxpayer dollars. Where the Signpost goes awry here is in not placing the cause of the injury and grieving. If we weren't occupying the country, there wouldn't be an insurgency. Without the insurgency, there wouldn't be the suicide bombings, without which there wouldn't be the deaths, injuries, and the resulting grieving.
So my question to Mr. Cave is, how can we take credit for causing something good, when we are the cause of the bad that allowed the good to take place?

The Standard Examiner Comes Out Against Congressional Oversight

In today's editorial, the Standard Examiner aligns current congressional investigations of the White House with those of the late 90's. Giving the piece the title of "A Familiar Old Road" and prefacing the piece with a Churchill quote, "Nothing is more costly, nothing is more sterile, than vengeance" frame the argument by suggesting that the reason Democrats are investigating potential wrong doings in the executive branch is that they want to pay back the Republicans who went after Bill Clinton.

When Congress changed hands several months back, Democrats promised they wouldn't lower themselves or the nation into a similar spiral of vindictive investigations and finger-pointing. But those assurances didn't last long.

This assumes that by investigating, congress is engaging in vindictive investigations and finger-pointing (or at least possibly could be). Does this mean that every time congress investigates the president or his staff they are merely being vindictive? The blame is fairly shared to the Republicans who are so despicably doing their jobs as well.
In fairness, it's not only the Democrats on these committees who are saddling up as part of the hunting parties. When it comes to the attorney general's and Rove's possible involvement in the prosecutors' firings, there are plenty of Republicans on board, too.

But we have to wonder whether or not all this will amount to something worth the trouble. Especially when it comes to the uranium from Africa claim, what's the goal? To get Rice -- or the president? -- to say it was all a "lie"? Not likely.

This sort of behavior sounds depressingly familiar.

At what point did things become so greatly one sided in our national discourse that we now have those who would question congress for attempting to investigate possible missteps by the executive branch? Given my thinking that the legislative branch has a responsibility to provide oversight on the executive branch, I'm left wondering exactly where the line between doing their jobs and finger pointing falls.

The current congressional investigation would clearly be doing their jobs in my opinion, but then again, I'm not printing Washington Post editorials by the handful. Today we have George Will telling us how the dust bowl proves that global warming isn't a threat (no SE link, it's in their digital edition, subscription required, or their printed edition), and that's only the latest of what, according to my unreliable memory, has been over ten pickups of WaPo's editorials in the last few weeks (sometimes two a day).

So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised when the Standard Examiner tells us that congress shouldn't tell the president he can't break the law. They aren't discouraged by the "legal fish gutting" so much as they are discouraged by someone standing up to the president and demanding he explain himself. It's what their counterparts at the Washington Post would do.

Rightwing local blog in Utah agrees with Lieberman, I'm shocked

So in my day to day blog reading, I sometimes like to wander over to the other side and see what they have to say. It's like stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork, just to make sure you're still alive. One of my favorite sites for this is a local blog in Utah, the UtahRattler. Going to his site today and what do I see, him proclaiming

I hardly agree with Sen. Lieberman on any issues, but he’s been super on the war. He puts several in the Republican party to shame.
Now I agree with Lieberman putting several Republican's to shame wholeheartedly, although I don't mean that as a compliment, but that is where my agreement with this blog ends (although I am impressed at the ability to cut and paste that much into one blogpost). But in terms of the Lieberman problem (sounds like a disease doesn't it), this is why he causes a problem for Democrats everywhere. There are Republicans all over the country pointing at him and saying "look, we have Democrats that agree with us, we must be right."

Hopefully in about 19 months, Lieberman will be less relevant when it comes to vote count, but he will continue to be an example of bipartisan support for Republicans until 2012.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Utah's eTrademark Law: The First Step In Backing Down Is Pushing Forward

With Utah's eTrademark protection law set to go into effect in mere hours, it's good to see the state legislature is actually starting to look into the ramifications of it's hastily, unanimously passed bill (for more on the law, go here and here).

Now after meeting with representatives from web companies, the state legislature admits that perhaps there are some things they may have overlooked.

For companies like 1-800 Contacts and Overstock, both of which sell brand-name merchandise at discount prices, the ability to key off trademarked names is integral to doing business - a point lawmakers hadn't considered until now.

So now that they admit the law isn't, well, fair to some companies, they'll obviously hold off on hitting the go button on it right? I mean isn't that what you'd do if you realized something you were about to do was a mistake, you'd take some time to think about it before you took the possibly mistaken action wouldn't you? Unfortunately, this the state legislature doesn't agree.
Bountiful Republican Dan Eastman, who backed the bill in the Senate, said the law will go into effect as planned. But no action will be taken to create the registry "while we will work with industry representatives to come up with a specific approach to what we're trying to do."

I don't know that saying we're going to think about hitting the brake counts for much if your foots still on the gas. Further more, isn't passing a law, then not enacting the registry that the law is built around essentially pointless. If you're going to enact a law, enact it, don't tell me it's illegal to speed, then not set a speed limit.

So ads on web searches will be limited by an empty registry Monday, leaving the net effect of the law at zero (discounting the black eye the legislature is taking for it's lack of forethought and understanding). Will a compromise be reached, or will the law's story be ended in a court battle? With lawmakers now realizing that there may be flaws with the bill, it seems as though there may be a graceful way out for them, rather than spending tax dollars on what would surely be a costly courtroom fight over the law.

Oh and one last thing, as Rep. David Clark shows us, the best thing to do when you realize you've made a mistake? Blame someone else.
"I wish we had had this interaction with industry 60 days ago," Clark said Wednesday. "We would have all been better off."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

It's More Than Politics...

...it's a complete lack of integrity:

Then George Bush called for an exit strategy: "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." [Houston Chronicle April 9, 1999]

Bush called for a timetable. “I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.” [Scripts Howard, June 5, 1999]

Now Bush changes course and says a timetable doesn’t make sense. “It doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you’re — you’re conceding too much to the enemy.” [www.whitehouse.gov]

Friday, April 27, 2007

Moyers PBS Special Spawns Media Hissy-Fit

Bill Moyers PBS Special (Transcript) Wednesday paints a harsh and damning picture of the the main-stream media's guilt in our invasion of Iraq based on false pretense.

Titled "Buying The War," the two hour special provides video and analytical examples of large media organizations, and reputable journalists rolling over for the administration and the "outrage" over WMD's. It begins months before the invasion and sites examples into the present day of the loss of journalistic integrity in the beltway media.

Since [the start of the war] thousands of people have died, and many are dying to this day. Yet the story of how the media bought what the White House was selling has not been told in depth on television. As the war rages into its fifth year, we look back at those months leading up to the invasion, when our press largely surrendered its independence and skepticism to join with our government in marching to war.
FreePress brings us a collage of media reaction to the criticism:
Over at CBS, White House reporter Mark Knoller’s acrobatic attempts at defense make Rodney Dangerfield’s “Triple Lindy” from “Back to School” look like a simple somersault. Knoller actually claims that the now-famous pre-war press conference where reporters fell all over themselves to compliment the president for his leadership was actually a scene of journalistic bravery. Atrios does the takedown of Knoller, showing the full transcript of that press conference, but if you don’t want to read that, please just remember what New York Times White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller said to defend the media’s behavior at the event.
Moyers (my new Hero) pulls no punches. He names names and provides video. It is the first no holds barred account of the media's actions leading up to and during the invasion, as well as their scrambling attempt to restore damaged reputations as the war falls flat on it's face. For me, the most troubling segment, and most indicative example of the problem with today's media was Peter Beinart's (The New Republic) response, when asked "What made you present yourself as a Middle East expert?":
Well, I was doing mostly, for a large part it was reading, reading the statements and the things that people said. I was not a beat reporter. I was editing a magazine and writing a column. So I was not doing a lot of primary reporting. But what I was doing was a lot of reading of other people's reporting and reading of what officials were saying.
Having watched the special, I believe now, more than ever, that this is not a grand conspiracy, nor a well calculated media take over. This is lazy people, privileged people, doing a half-assed job and calling it "journamalism." If you missed it, catch it again Saturday.

Christian Coalition and Liberals Find Common Ground

Wow.

In a teleconference marking the one-year anniversary of the SaveTheInternet campaign to keep the Internet content-neutral, the Christian Coalition’s Michele Combs said Wednesday network neutrality is a “family issue” that should become part of the national presidential debate among Republicans and Democrats.

Crticism Of Utah Newpapers Goes National

I've been frustrated with the local papers here in Utah for a while now, and while some are better than others, they all seem to have a "don't upset the status quo popular opinion" bias. So, naturally, when I see these organizations criticised on a larger scale than say, this blog, I get some enjoyment out of it.

If you're going to lie, at least be smart enough about it not to offer contradictory evidence for your empty assertions a mere two paragraphs down. And I can't figure out what's more ridiculous: The fact that you did this, or the fact that it took two of you dunces to write it. Man, are you guys hiring? It's obvious you don't need much skill to write for the Deseret News, especially if you've got someone to help you screw up each piece you write.

Do you think the Deseret News is lame as well? Email the story authors and tell them. Tad Walch: twalch@desnews.com Sara Israelsen: sisraelsen@desnews.com

(Emphasis mine
, italics in source)
The only thing that I would add is that while 1,000 people did sign petitions, people like this are surely included in that total.
Provo Mayor Lewis Billings, a prominent Utah County Republican, says he understands Larsen's frustration with the federal government's slow response to immigration issues, but he doubts "there will be a lot of support for the resolution in its current form."
And just what resolution did Larsen suggest? I'm glad you asked
"In order for Satan to establish his 'New World Order' and destroy the freedom of all people as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S.," his resolution states. "The mostly quiet and unspectacular invasion of illegal immigrants does not focus the attention of the nations the way open warfare does, but is all the more insidious for its stealth and innocuousness."
So just to recap, that is District 65 Chairman Don Larsen's resolution to . . . I guess I don't know whether his goal is to stop Satan and/or illegal immigration, or to support freedom/the Scriptures (somehow all of these have evidently become blurred for him, which is understandable because everyone knows that there's no freedom without the Scriptures and without Satan there would be no illegal immigrants [bangs head on wall]), but it's his resolution none the less. There's a Utah county republican for you. No I'm not saying all Utah county republicans are that, well, crazy, but I am saying that there are elements of the crazy there (Satan = illegal immigration, sounds sane to me),. And the crazy and sane alike signed the petition supporting Cheney's visit, which some would argue is also a form of crazy, but that's a discussion for a different post.

So adding that back in to Scott Thill's piece from Huffington Post, which counts more, 1,000 signatures including possibly some Satan = illegal immigration folks, or 4,000 signatures from which my investigation has yet to yield a single reference to Satan being the cause of any of our national concerns?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Post In Which I Live Blog My Rocky Vs Hannity Ticket Buying Experience

It's not going well.

Tickets went onsale at 10am. At about 10:04 am the website went down. There is an email address to contact the technicians to report the trouble. I bet they have a lot of email.



The phone system seems to be having a hard time as well. 50min of repeated redialing and I get either a busy signal, a message that the all U of U lines are currently busy, or, randomly, the voicemail service of someone named Carol Jean Hansen.

I wonder if Carol has more voicemail than the website technicians do email?

If Hannity cancels this debate again, I will find him and I will be very, very angry and abrupt with him. In front of his staff if need be.

UPDATE: Got through. Mid ticket purchase, Qwest interrupted the call to tell me I had a bad connection and should enjoy the following ear-drum rupturing error tone.

FINAL UPDATE: 10:50am, I successful purchased tickets. I need a cigarette.

UPDATE AFTER THE FINAL UPDATE (by Craig): Wow, sold out in two hours, I figured they'd go fast, but two hours?

Cheney Pays Utah A Visit

Here we are, a few hours away from the Vice President's Utah stop. Oh, and he's getting a degree while he's here

Brigham Young University will bestow on Vice President Dick Cheney an honorary degree Thursday when he speaks at the university's commencement exercises, a decision that further frustrated Cheney's opponents on campus.

Just how unpopular is giving Dick Cheney an honorary degree? Well, according to Harry Reid, pretty unpopular.
“I’m not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a 9 percent approval rating,” Mr. Reid said.

Evidently it's safe to say that the same poll taken amongst BYU faculty and staff would result in a MUCH higher number (assuming one would have to be above at least 50% to warrant receiving an honorary degree).

Fireworks are sure to ensue, and we'll be talking about them when they do. The Wasatch Watcher has the info on the protests/alternate commencements. And is it just me, or is Utah becoming a stop on the nobody likes me tour '07, first Cheney, now Gonzalez?

P.S. If you haven't gotten your debate tickets yet, they are on sale as of 10am MST.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

US Trails in Broadband Growth

The US is currently ranked 15th by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for nationwide broadband penetration.

Edward J. Markey (D-MA) chaired a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet earlier today to address the United States' flagging broadband saturation compared to that of other countries.

It is clearly time for us to look beyond our borders in developing our nation’s broadband strategy. While U.S. broadband adoption is certainly increasing and deployment continues, in international broadband rankings a nation must essentially run in order to stand still. Relative to other countries, however, it appears as if America’s broadband penetration is stalling at “dial up” speed while other nations have developed national plans and are moving ahead.
In 2000, the US was 4th. Many countries have surpassed us on developing and deploying broadband in recent years. Ben Scott, of FreePress, also testified before the Senate Commerce Committee, bringing to light more worrisome aspects of the current state of US communication and internet technologies:
# 37% of ZIP codes have one or less cable and/or DSL provider. Given that FCC ZIP code data overstates the level of broadband deployment, this should be viewed as a conservative figure.

# Some states have large gaps in coverage. Over 40% of South Dakota households are not wired for cable broadband. Over 40% of New Hampshire and Vermont households are not wired for DSL.

# The broadband market remains a duopoly. 96% of residential advanced services lines are either cable or DSL.

# There are no viable 3rd “pipe” competitors. From June 2005 to June 2006 there were only 637 new broadband over powerline (BPL) connections added, bringing the total to just over 5000 nationwide, or 0.008% of all U.S. broadband connections.

Walmart Gets Paranoid

From Democracy Now:

BusinessWeek magazine is reporting the retail giant Wal-Mart has been recruiting former military and government intelligence officers for its global security office. The job description includes gathering information from “professional contacts” and public data to identify threats to Wal-Mart’s operations.
For more information on this subject, go rent yourself up some Brazil, 1984, V for Vendetta, and Fahrenheit 451 probably isn't a bad idea, because something like that from Walmart is only a matter of time really.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Debate Tickets

And now we can buy tickets, on Thursday. You can get them online at www.kingsburyhall.org, over the phone (801) 581-7100, or in person. According to the Kingsbury Hall site, you've got to show up to get the student discount.

Ticket Information:
Tickets on sale: Thursday, April 26, 2007 10:00AM
$5 U students (2 per ID). $20 general public. Ticket sales limited to 6 per individual. U student discount available only in person at the ticket office. All ticket purchases subject to handling and/or facility fees.

These could go fast, so if you want to see it, you'd better plan on being around a phone, computer, or the U on Thursday morning.

A Standard Examiner Editorial That I Agree With (Finally)

I know, I was shocked too, but maybe giving them credit for pointing out a flaw in Orrin Hatch's, um, investigating style, may be like giving someone credit for answering a question that a fifth grader knows, but there are game shows that pay people for that, so here goes.

Today's editorial points out that while questioning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, perhaps Sen. Hatch wasn't exactly grilling him to get to the truth.

Then again, we don't really understand why Hatch would ask questions like these, either:

* "You spend a lot of time down at the White House, as well, don't you?"

* "You go to intelligence meetings, right?"

* "Among various intelligence factions of government for important meetings?"

* "In fact, I've been in some of those intelligence meetings with you, in the secure room in the White House, right?"

Apparently Hatch wants people to know he goes to "intelligence meetings" in "the secure room" in the White House.

And why not, I mean if some one's taking resumes then it's definitely time to pad yours right? Now it would seem rather dumb for a 72nd term senator to leave his cushy yea/nea job for what one can only imagine the roller coaster ride of what Gonzo (or, more likely, his successor) will be going through for the next 636 days, but the Deseret News has a why he will/why he won't article.

Of course even if Hatch decides he wants the job, the President would still have to nominate him. But Hatch does uniquely qualify for the position: don't do anything that would make this administration, or republicans in general (see above) - check; make what we decide to do seem like the right thing to do, regardless of details (or facts) - check; and finally, attack democrats whenever you can - check, check, and check. Seems like he'd fit right in.

On Again Off Again, The Most Talked About Debate Ever

Ok, so at this point I'm pretty much just going to Kingsbury Hall on May 4th, maybe I'll see a debate, maybe I'll be the only one there, but taking that risk seems worth it after trying to figure out what's going to happen with this one for the last few weeks. So, according to the just updated "Will the Debate Happen" wall chart I've just made, the debate looks to be back on, though all you documentary fans will be disappointed to learn that the filming crew won't be in attendance.

The best part of this ongoing debate over the debate has to be the sheer posturing of it all.

In a series of events more fit for professional wrestling than political dialogue, the May 4 debate at Kingsbury Hall was first canceled by Hannity on his nationally syndicated show. He peppered his explanation with a string of personal attacks against Anderson. Less than three hours later, it was renewed — once again, live on KSL radio — and the personal attacks not only continued but were responded to, in kind, by Anderson.

Then, in fine boxing match weigh in fashion, Rocky took his side of the story to the air.
The mayor says Hannity is using the "documentary excuse," as a way to avoid the debate.

The mayor attacked Hannity live on ABC 4 News at 5, and he showed viewers his copy of the signed contract between he and Hannity.

Moments later KSL Called ABC 4's Chris Jones to announce Hannity had decided to move forward with the debate.

Personally, I'm not believing anything until I see it on Kingsbury Hall's ticket site.

No Confidence: Proudly Micro-Managing the POTU

I've been thinking a lot about micro-managing. Justification for it, reasons to avoid it. Cost of results as opposed to cutting one's losses. Etc. The simple facts of our situation with this President and this war is that often times, when it comes to the leadership of our nation, and our endeavors around the globe, we don't have the luxury of cutting our losses. We must dig ourselves out of a big damn hole with what resources we have available to do so, because when you're talking about national reputation and simply doing what is right, inside our borders and in the world at large, we can't fire the CEO and change the company name. Barring criminal prosecution and impeachment, we are stuck with Dubya and his each and every short coming as a leader.

In the world of managing, the word "micro-managing" arises only with either bad managers or good managers with struggling employees. As an employer or manager, you will often and repeatedly be faced with a decision to micro-manage or take a back seat as the leader of the group. But those of you with experience in this respect, ask yourself how you make that decision. Do you micro-manage a self starter? Do you hover over an employee who has shown aptitude in intelligent decision making? Do you police the guy who had the idea that saved you thousands of dollars last month in overhead expenses?

No. You micro-manage the losers. You focus your daily and sometimes hourly managing efforts on the guy who is late every day, performs poorly, and doesn't seem to have his head in the game. And why do you attempt to micromanage rather than just fire those you can't depend on, or who simply perform poorly? Well, in the business world, it is expensive and time consuming to fire and re-hire and train new employees. It takes a person six months to become astute at most jobs. As a manager, business owner, whatever you may be, you micro-manage in the hopes that you can turn that slacker into someone who excels. You at least make an attempt to manage an employee into something beneficial before you give him or her the boot and start over with a new face. Because it's easier, and you've gotta try at least once, to be fair, if you consider yourself any kind of "manager."

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. You know when you hit the wall. You know when you realize you have micro-managed for months, and provided every incentive or threat you have at your disposal, and there has been no improvement. That's when you fire the guy. Give up, get a new face in the position, and start over.

So think of "managing" when you hear things like this:

a key argument being deployed by Republicans against the Democratic effort to compel the President to accept a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq is that Democrats want to "micro-manage" the President's policy in Iraq.
And say to yourself, and others, "Damn right we're micromanaging this President and this war. Have you seen the performance evaluation? It isn't good!" And the next time you see something like this in your local newspaper or favorite blog:
You know it's bad news for the White House when agencies you'd never even heard of start launching investigations into the administration.
Ask yourself, have I hit the wall, or do I have any micromanaging left in me. Can this guy be brought up to speed, made a performer? Or is it time for him to go?

Don't defend accusations of micro-managing. The President works for you, and his performance is weak. Democrats should proudly accept the title of micro-manager, in the hopes that some of their "managing" skills will be imparted on this president in the hopes of ending this war.

Michael J. Fox and Stem-Cell Research


This is not recent news, but this video clip of CBS News' Katie Couric interviewing Michael J. Fox is certainly worth viewing if you didn't see the originally-aired segment. Fox answered questions pertaining to his campaigning for Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and other democrats leading up to the November 2006 mid-term election, as well as the well-documented attacks levied by Rush Limbaugh against Fox and those television spots. "He [Fox] is exaggerating the effects of the disease," Limbaugh told listeners of his syndicated radio program. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. . . . This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting." Limbaugh later offered a half-hearted apology, then resumed his attack saying, "Michael J. Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited and in the process is shilling for a Democratic politician."

Michael J. Fox's response, particularly his final comments, appropriately ignore Limbaugh's criticism, and go to the heart of what American is, or should be, all about. He says, "People who are against stem-cell research, embryonic or otherwise, whatever, I couldn't respect them more. If they've prayed on it and they've thought about it and they can't get their head around it or their heart around it, then great, I mean fantastic, I admire them and respect them".

Fox continues, "All I say to them respectfully is, if there's a majority that also prayerfully, and thoughtfully, and emotionally, and intellectually, and in every other way weighed this and came on the other side, and said 'no, I think it's the right thing to do, to very carefully tread these waters to save these lives', then you have to respect that, too." He concludes, "And don't resort to name-calling, or inflammatory language, or mocking, or whatever you have to do; just have a discussion about it and we'll see what happens." What a breath of fresh air; this approach is contrary to what the vast majority of political pundits, commentators, and other politico-"celebrities" take whenever given television air time. Instead of attacking his opponents and critics, Fox calls for civil dialogue and debate, and says that after it's said and done, let the majority decide. Refreshing. And about time.

Monday, April 23, 2007

National Priorities Project: The Cost of War for Utahns

National Priorities Project has assembled an enlightening report (Also available as a PDF), broken down by state and congressional district, of the actual monetary and human cost of the war in Iraq. The report claims that in Rob Bishop's district alone, over 87,000 children could have benefited from health care coverage for the money that district has dumped into the war through their tax dollars.

NPP has an impressive library of publications. Recommended Reading: Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go (parsed by state and city), and the Budget Briefs section of the site. You can even find a dollar for dollar comparison of the war in Iraq and past wars, as well as media briefs on the effects of a continued war in spite of the majority of Americans' desire to end US involvement in Iraq.

While Pentagon spending is reaching the highest levels since World War II, some Americans are personally refusing to fund the military. Tax resisters across the country are planning to withhold part or all of their taxes to protest the war.
Via Democracy Now you can find an mp3 download of the NPP press release "War and Taxes," which illustrates that 40% of every tax dollar falls into the Pentagon money pit.

Ogden Goes Wi-Fi

Found this in Sunday's Deseret News:

Can't find a good wireless Internet access point in Ogden?
Over the next five years, Internet service provider XMission and the city of Ogden will team up to create the Ogden Wi-Fi network, which will eventually span 28 square miles.
Free wireless users will have their first hour of Internet access with no bandwidth restrictions. Each following hour will have a 40 kbps connection speed. It's encouraging, and surprising at times, the willingness Utahn's have over other states to embrace technology.
At times it's surprising how progressive Utah can be when it comes to technology, despite the backwards politics.

Debate Seemingly Off, Hannity Points Finger At Rocky

Well, this roller coaster ride of the on again off again debate has taken another turn, although this one wasn't much of a surprise (if you've missed any of the story, see this, this, this, and this if you want to catch up). All signs point to the debate being off at this point, and while it seems that Hannity didn't want to make himself part of a documentary, he at least lived up to his usual standards and blamed the other guy.

According to Anderson's office, Hannity is blaming the mayor for backing out on contract terms. But Patrick Thronson, Anderson's spokesman, says the reverse is true. Thronson says the ban on documentary filmmakers "came out of nowhere."

In my opinion, it's not going to happen, as much as I'd like to see it. Why can't Hannity just say he doesn't want to do it, would there be anything wrong with that. Ya, liberals around the world would say he chickened out, but wouldn't that be better than making up reasons to back out?

Oh, and I could understand why he wouldn't want it filmed, the tv and radio that he produces makes him look bad enough, why turn footage over to someone who wasn't trying to make you look good?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

2008 Congressional Race: Republican Noise Machine Gearing Up Early

The New York Times has a column detailing the Republican Party's attempt to turn things dirty early in 2008 Congressional races. What is most troubling is that some Democrats seem to have learned nothing from John Kerry's experience with the Republican Noise Machine or the ways we rose above the spin in 2006.

Hoping to reclaim their majority next year, Republicans have been loading once mundane opposition motions with all sorts of political bombs, which they are then unleashing in press releases to local newspapers, on a special website and – presumably – in future 30-second campaign ads.[...]The votes have so unnerved some Democrats that they have begun supporting the Republican motions, which has only fueled the Republican push.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Yarro Suggests Utah Ban Public Internet Access

Corporate hack Ralph Yarro, of SCO fame, is now suggesting that a Utah Legislative Committee consider a ban on public internet access, if the providers of such access aren't compliant with CP80's "Internet Channel" resolution.

The problem with Yarro, and CP80's approach is that their "technical" solution to parsing the internet into "channels" is that it is not a very "technical" solution at all. Actually, it is nearly impossible. The resolution and research written by CP80 provides little as far as realistic solutions to the 3-Channel (Open, Limited, Very Limited) approach to internet access. They seem unaware that the Internet is not a tangible network, but rather the interconnectivity of billions of networks spanning the entire globe in a literal web of often randomly routed connectivity. What they suggest would require not only legislation and massive funding to enforce, but also a complete redesign of the very infrastructure of the web. Standardization of ratings and compatible technology would have to be developed. Managing software and the very nature of port to port connectivity would need to undergo a complete overhaul. And in the end, if one single country or community does not agree to the channeling guidelines, the channeling is rendered useless via the gap created.

And what would be the ultimate goal of the billions of dollars and years of research, and decade of reconstruction? The internet, CP80 suggests, would be broken into three channels of varying "access levels" thus removing the responsibility of parents to actually parent, businesses to actually manage their employees, and communities to work together to ensure that public access is used correctly. Instead, Yarro suggests a ban on public access, unless they receive a "seal of approval" under the CP80 legistlation. Pete Ashdown, while not invited to the meeting, had this to say:

I find it odd that they talk about a seal of approval if you don't provide porn to minors. That is already against the law. And if I do that, I should be thrown in jail, more of an incentive than some seal. [...] "I provide free access to Salt Lake City "locations" and to the city library. They can do that, and I'll just shut down my free access zones, and Utah's reputation will be damaged as a place that is restricting technology rather than expanding it. I also find it odd that the Legislature wants to discriminate between locally owned ISPs and national — AOL will not be held to the same standard.
While CP80's goal is noble, and not entirely a horrible idea, it is not technologically realistic when you're dealing with a worldwide community. Yarro, however, deserves no leniency for his actions. His comments before the committee are irresponsible and unrealistic, and serve to cut Utah off from a rapidly growing world of information, rather than address the actual problem of children and the internet. The major concern is that of easily accessible pornography and unattended use of the internet by a child. Why not simply address the issue of unattended use?

Why not reinforce the values of hands on parenting and common sense supervision of child? If your child accesses internet porn, be it in your family room at home, or at the Salt Lake City library, the question should be "where were you as a parent when that happened?" If you, as a business owner are concerned your employees are accessing porn at work, why are you not taking advantage of a managing opportunity, and already accessible solutions to the problem, such as software or hardware filtering, or routing port restrictions? Yarro's suggested access ban, and CP80's expensive and poorly thought-out legislative ideas serve only as an excuse (and continued justification) for irresponsible parenting and lack of technical understanding at home and in the business world. It's not Rocket Science. Barnes and Noble has entire shelves dedicated to the subject.

If a parent has children, and also brings internet access into the home, it is their responsibility to understand at least basic concepts of online safety and security for their children. As a state, Utah has an obligation to it's tax paying citizens to provide them with the best possible resources for business growth and public opportunity and education. CP80 and Yarro strive to allow continued failure in both areas, and simply rebuild the kingdom for want of a nail.

A Look in the Mirror is in Order...


President Bush discussed the so-called "Global War on Terror" at a high school auditorium in Tipp City, Ohio yesterday and made the following comments during a Q&A session following his planned remarks. The quote below is taken from part of Bush's response to a question regarding the support--or lack thereof--from other countries, particularly those surrounding Iraq, for the continuing war in Iraq:

"We have no beef with the Iranian people, which is really important for the people of Iran to understand. We value the history of Iran. We respect the traditions of Iran. It's the Iranian government that is making the decisions that is causing you to be isolated. You're missing a opportunity to be a great nation because your government has made decisions that is causing the world to put economic sanctions on you and to isolate you. I would hope the Iranian government would change their attitude. If they aren't meddling in Iraq, they can have a better relationship with a country that wishes them no harm."

I could not help wondering if the question posed to Bush had instead been presented to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whether a nearly identical response wouldn't follow. Imagine, if you will, the question below being posed by a young Iranian student to Ahmadinejad, and imagine an only slightly-modified response that mirrors Bush's [text altered is shown in brackets]:

Q: (Student) Would you speak a little bit about the support, or lack of support that we're getting from other countries, particularly [the United States]?

A: (Ahmadinejad) We have no beef with the [American] people, which is really important for the people of [America] to understand. We value the history of [America]. We respect the traditions of [America]. It's the [American] government that is making the decisions that [are] causing you to be isolated. You're missing a opportunity to be a great nation because your government has made decisions that [are] causing the world to [stop trusting you] and to isolate you. I would hope the [American] government would change their attitude. If they aren't meddling in Iraq, they can have a better relationship with a country that wishes them no harm."

Can you NOT imagine such a response? As John Lennon once sang so eloquently, "...it's easy if you try".

In this context at least, it seems clear that almost any negative "coin" that the administration might toss toward Iran--or other countries whose support of the U.S. has wained--can quickly and easily be flipped. There is real concern in the international community regarding the possibility of Iraq developing nuclear weapons. Iran has denied that it is developing nuclear weaponry, though the administration continues to warn us in the press against the impending threat and publicly chastises Iran, all while refusing dialogue with Iran because of their nuclear program. They are such an imminent threat that we refuse to speak with them???? Perhaps if we speak to them we might find cause to not go to war, and that seems counterintuitive as far as this administration goes. We have already been led once--regardless of any claims now to the contrary--into an unjustified war, based on now disproved, and seemingly fabricated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. At what point do we wake up and realize the situation with Iran is being presented as the same script, only with a different antagonist?

I've finally stopped asking the question of when Bush and this administration will realize the hipocrisy of their stance toward Iran and Syria. The stance that says, "if you are an imminent threat to the safety of the American people and the rest of the world, we will not seek diplomacy nor speak with you until you are no longer a threat". The only action this administration seems to see fit is military action. Ironically, if the same political and "diplomatic" approach taken by the administration were shared by our military, then they would only engage enemy threats after that enemy had agreed to surrender and disarm. The very purpose and practice of the military would cease to exist if that were the case. Not that the world would be worse off without military conflict; but this example may help demonstrate my point. No, I don't believe the administration's position will change. Bush has declared himself time and time again as being "above" the opinion polls, even those showing that over 60% of Americans now disagree with him and our continued military escalation in Iraq. Where dialogue is critically needed, instead, all we appear to have is finger-pointing among stubborn and arrogant nationalists. And as our country is marched more and more dangerously toward military conflict with Iran, the President, Vice President, and other administration cronies have effectively continued to behave like an eight year old child, who has closed its' eyes and plugged its' fingers in its' ears, yelling, "na, na, na, na....I can't hear you!"

Reading these remarks, I was also reminded of this question posed by Senator Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) to Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez during yesterday's testimony regarding his involvement in the firing of the eight federal prosecutors before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

"You said something that struck me; that sometimes it just came down to these were not the right people at the right time. If I applied that standard to you, what would you say?"

Well, if the same standards were applicable, and the American public had the opportunity to fire those we thought were not the right people at the right time, we wouldn't have to wait another 20 months for the change we so desparately need. I heard there's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again. Yeah, something like that.

If only we'll remember those ever-so-wise words come next November.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hannity Out, Again?

So it seems that Sean Hannity may be backing out of the debate once again

As for Sean Hannity, on Wednesday ABC 4 called one of his associates.

All we got was a curt 'no comment'.

And when ABC 4 checked Hannity's website, he still did not have this debate on his schedule.

Granted, there were some logistics yet to be worked out, but to me, that seems like someone that's backing out of a debate. Given Hannity's, how should I say it, reputation for putting a 'spin' on things to make himself look good, and his opponents bad (he tries, I'm not saying he pulls it off, I think he makes himself look like an ass, but that's just my opinion), doesn't the silence from the Hannity camp speak volumes?

Musician Coalition for Net Neutrality

Rock The Net:

Rock the Net is a nationwide coalition of musicians and labels that support net neutrality. We come together at this critical time to demonstrate to Congress and the FCC the music community's broad support for this principle. As musicians and entrepreneurs, we understand the importance of treating all websites equally -- from the busiest online music store to the smallest blog. We urge Congress to support network neutrality.
Search events and sign the petition. Guster, REM, Death Cab for Cutie, Ok Go, and many others have joined the coalition. No shows are scheduled for Salt Lake City, as of yet.

UPDATE: The site also lists record labels who have joined the campaign. Take note, and make an effort to support these labels with the foresight to support net neutrality rather than desperately cling to a fading stranglehold on artist sales and fight the future of the internet in the music and movie industries. For further info on supporting net-friendly artists and labels, visit the RIAA Radar.

MoveOn, VoteVets, and Oliver Stone

MoveOn.Org and VoteVets.Org have teamed up to bring us "Video Vets." The project will bring the missing voices of veterans and military families who do not support "endless war" to Washington.

You can vote on the video you like best here. The chosen video will be produced into a TV spot by director Oliver Stone.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Military Contractors: "The Surge is Not Working"

A former Reagan Pentagon official, Lawrence Korb, traveled to Iraq on April 7 for a 5 day trip, and returns with surprising evidence that the current surge is not working. Of conversations that included Blackwater and Halliburton contractors, Korb wrote:

The long wait did allow me to speak to some of the contractors about the situation on the ground. When I assured them I was not a member of the press, they were unanimous that the surge was not working. One of them said that members of Muqtada Al-Sadr’s militia have sold their guns and melted back into the population in Sadr City and will buy back their guns at the appropriate time (our own security guard said something similar).
In his lengthy diary, "Greetings From the Red Zone," posted at American Progress, Korb brings to light everything from getting through Iraqi customs, to detailed reports of the situation in Baghdad not hitting the main stream media.
The other thing that struck me was the lack of American soldiers patrolling the neighborhoods. In fact, in my whole time here I did not see one American soldier outside the Green Zone. [...] But if one uses the reports of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and pushes the briefers, a different picture emerges. The place is a mess and despite the almost heroic efforts of some Americans and some Iraqis it is not getting better. One of the consultants told me not to believe anyone who says that the situation is getting better.
Korb, a senior fellow of the Center for American Progress, traveled as part of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Public Administration.

(Lawrence Korb's Full Diary)

UPDATED: As the Bush Surge stagnates in Baghdad, trouble is brewing on Iraqi borders.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fake 'Breaking' News: Local Television News and Corporate Promotion

Free Press and the Center for Media Democracy have released the results of their nationwide investigation of local television news outlets, and their failure to disclose "video news releases" produced by corporations.

Titled "Still Not the News," the report names 46 stations caught airing corporate promotional material as objective news during regular news broadcasts, a violation of FCC regulations. Last year's report cited 77 stations.

The Center for Media and Democracy's follow-up research indicates that viewers are still routinely deceived by fake TV news. From April through October 2006, CMD documented 46 stations in 22 states airing at least one of 33 different video news releases. The total number of VNRs tracked for this study—109—represents just two percent of the estimated 5,000 VNRs offered to U.S. television newsrooms over a six-month period. [...] Eighty-nine percent of the VNR broadcasts documented—48 of the 54 examples in this report—included no disclosure whatsoever of the nature or source of the sponsored video.
CMD concludes that despite their previous report and an ongoing FCC investigation, local stations have done little to put an end to deceptive "news."

You can tell the FCC to crack down on "Fake News" here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Michael Moore, "Sicko"

Love 'im or Hate 'im, the man knows how to draw attention to an issue.

(ITV News) The production company of filmmaker Michael Moore has taken ill Ground Zero workers to Cuba to highlight the US's inferior health-care system. The stunt was filmed as part of the controversial director's latest documentary, Sicko, which attacks American drug companies and health organizations. Moore also wanted to highlight that health care in the communist country is free.
Rumor has it the film will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

(Also, this is my second Cuba related post in a single day. Weird.)

VA Tragedy Stirs Gun Debate in UT

I knew in all likely hood, today's tragedy would be used as a reason for the gun community to justify arming everyone. I guess the idea is that the more lead we can get flying through the air in a situation like this, the better off we'll all be. So, living in Utah, it's not surprising that we already have stories like this in the media. It would be nice if everyone would heed the advice of the U's president.

University of Utah President Michael Young, who unsuccessfully fought to prohibit guns at the U., says people should not "politicize these kinds of tragic events" in order to argue for both deeply expanded gun control nationwide and the need for more concealed weapons permit holders on campuses.

But we all know that's not going to happen, after all, the article that quote came from was already setting up the debate just a half day after the shootings in Virginia had occurred. I do like the Salt Lake Tribune leading off with an opinion that won't be popular in Utah
But we do know that the terrible events in Blacksburg, Va., the most deadly rampage shooting in U.S. history, will reignite the debate over the ready availability of guns in this nation and the price we pay in death for that policy.
There you have it. We said it. A nation awash in guns cannot protect itself from or prevent tragedies like the ones at Trolley Square or Virginia Tech or Columbine. That's the simple truth.I'm sure everyone on the right will agree, or if not, out of respect to those affected by today's tragedy, they will not come out tomorrow saying something as asinine as 'if other students/staff on that campus had been carrying guns, lives would have been saved' but that won't happen, they're already saying it, I'm almost positive (I looked through the NRA's website, I couldn't see anything, and I don't really feel like looking at the pundit's sites just yet). I guess we'll find out in a few hours.

SL Trib Editorial: The Lobbying Life

To be fair, I'd like to draw attention to this SL Tribune editorial, written by Toby Moffet, lobbyist, who writes:

I don't do anything unethical. I work hard, and I represent my clients honestly. Since I joined the consulting business, I've learned that my status as a former member can get me in the door, but after that, if the facts aren't on my side or if I can't articulate them effectively, I'm in trouble. Especially if a constituent interest trumps mine.
The story does show that not all lobbyists are evil partisan hacks corrupting and bleeding our politics of reasonable representation. Just most of them.

Oh Yeah, Cuba!

Since seeing an old Sundance Film Festival production about Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, detailing the revolution and the role both men played, I've had in the back of my mind the idea for a piece about the stupidity of our 40+ years of "shunning" Cuba. (Did anyone see the Office last week?)

As too often happens (I get distracted easily), someone beat me to it.

I would like to see this become an ongoing dialog, though I agree with Mr. Farley, that probably won't happen until 2009.

Although it'll have no impact on this administration, anything that puts a dent in the insanity of U.S. Cuba policy is remakably welcome. We're currently pursuing a policy towards Cuba that a) reduces the chance of regime change, b) hurts both importers and exporters in the American South, which, as detailed in a recent Economist article, would benefit immensely from the opening of trade with Cuba, and c) hurts ordinary Cubans. I know that I'm not telling you anything new here, but that in itself is an astounding phenomenon. How odd is it that a policy that hurts almost everyone involved is barely even controversial on the American political scene?[...] The answer to the Cuba dilemma always comes down to Florida electoral votes.
Our attitude towards Cuba is the political equivalent of "Could you tell Cuba we are not talking to them, Please?" over lost investments, land, and an "invasion" idea (handed to Kennedy by the Eisenhower crew) that made us look asinine.

We should really get over it.

(More) Republicans Vs. Reality Stories

NYT is reporting that John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) used the very strategy they are campaigning so hard against in the states as a means to motivate the Iraqi government, during their recent meeting with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. McCain, said to the Times:

"So how do you motivate the Maliki government? Well, one of the ways is go sit down and have dinner with him like Lindsey Graham and I did last week."
Then Graham, in fine Republican fashion, told Fox News yesterday that Congress' attempts to pass a withdrawal timeline would do nothing to speed up progress with the Iraqi government.

Luckily, Carl Levin was there, and wasn't havin' it. Both Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates have used the same tactic before.

I find it ironic (and infuriating!) that so many Republicans find the withdrawal timeline idea so reprehensible and unpatriotic, yet use the idea of withdrawal to motivate the Iraqi government, while decrying the wrongness of doing just that on the Sunday talk shows.

These people are ridiculous.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Update: Utah eCommerce Law

We've talked about the Utah law restricting keyword based advertisers using their competitors names as keywords that trigger their ads. It seems to me that the law is simply unenforcible, and a lawsuit waiting to happen. As it turns out, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, the state legislature was warned.

Even the brains behind the concept, Unspam Technologies CEO Matthew Prince, said the state will be sued. If true, it would be the second time a Prince initiative has landed the state in court. "I warned them during the session that this would make Google mad," Prince said Tuesday.

So, if you know something is going to bring about a lawsuit, and most likely be overturned (state lawyers warned the legislature the law had a 'high probibility' of being overturned), why would you bother wasting money (taxpayer money at that) on passing, then defending this law. Well, we've got to fight, the wild west?
Rep. David Clark, R-Santa Clara, House sponsor of the law, said it "places Utah in the front of the pack of U.S. states in trademark protection - but not over the edge."
"I'm sorry they feel it's still the Wild West on the Internet," he said of Google and bloggers, who have been blasting the law.

And finally, I'm all for people creating the need for a law, pushing it through a legislative body, and then benefiting from it. Seems suspicious huh?
Likewise, Prince has positioned himself to benefit from the new law. If the state decides to hire an outside company to manage the database of registered trademarks, and if the deal is financially attractive, Prince said he might create a company and bid on the contract.

Saying No to Lobbyists

With the distaste so many Americans express toward "Beltway Politics," and our money tainted governing bodies, I am always amazed when stories like this too often slip through the media fishing nets. From The Huffington Post:

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign has returned more than $50,000 in political contributions after discovering the donors were lobbyists.
Perhaps it's because Big Media doesn't really want things to change?

Regardless of which Democrat you stand behind this early in the race to '08, the precedent set here by the Obama campaign is something we should not just encourage, but demand from our candidates.
"I am concerned about the role of lobbyists and campaign donations generally in our politics," Obama told The Associated Press while campaigning in Florence, S.C. "That's part of the reason I don't take PAC money and I'm not taking federal lobbyist money in this campaign."
If we want to restore integrity to our leadership and renew our reputation as a leading democracy, we need to stop watering down our representation and freedoms in the name of profit and personal gain.

We need the candidates, on both sides of the fence, to follow Obama's lead on on lobbyist dollars.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Worst President in History (Still): Helen Thomas Interview

Corrente interviews Helen Thomas.

I couldn’t help ask this giant for a little advice. I wanted to know how citizen journalists and bloggers could gain more access to the politicians and newsmakers we write about on the blogosphere. She said, “Keep plugging away. You have more access than you think,” and implied we’re more powerful than is generally admitted.
Read the entire interview here.

Saturday Funnies, and Credit Where It's Due

Ok, funnies first

Global Warming


Bush
on
Iraq

Straight Talk Backfire


and then the credit. So we've been pretty critical of the Standard Examiner, specifically their editorial page. With that in mind, I think it's only appropriate that we point out when they do something that's not one sidedly infuriating, which the did today, when they picked up this editorial (no link to SE's website, it's in their digital edition - login required - or their paper edition). Now granted a brutally honest assessment of the current white house it's not, but it's not supporting them either, and the Washington Post ed. board didn't write it, so maybe they're getting better.?.?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Embracing Incompetence

Bill Maher, via Salon:

I don't get it: In other fields -- outside of government -- elite is a good thing, like an elite fighting force. Tiger Woods is an elite golfer. If I need brain surgery, I'd like an elite doctor. But in politics, elite is bad -- the elite aren't down-to-earth and accessible like you and me and President Shit-for-Brains.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Charges of Prickliness"

In traditional inflammatory (yet singularly relevant) fashion, our friends at AlterNet.org serve up two great pieces to remind us of our need to be wary, suspicious, vigilant, and just a little bit angry as the campaign season builds up steam.

Matt Taibbi covers the wary, suspicious, and vigilant in Campaign Journalism Is Back:

One of the most conspicuous instances I can recall was December of 2003, when reporter Rick Lyman [New York Times] ran a piece called "From Patrician Roots, Dean Set Path of Prickly Independence" and then ran a piece just a few weeks later in which Dean had to defend himself against Lyman's charges that he was prickly ("I can be prickly with the press corps... I'm not usually prickly with other people."). Reporter calls candidate "prickly," then asks candidate to answer charges of prickliness. Now that's journalism!
And Amy Goodman (Good Ol' Amy Goodman) wraps her arms around the angry in Take Back the Airwaves:
Money is now considered the single most important factor in our electoral process. Ideas and issues take a back seat to the bottom line. This prostitution of our electoral process has one key culprit: television advertising.
It's been a rough day here at the Sidetrack Compound, and nothing freshens up a person's demeanor more than a few pissed off liberals making sense.

Cheney Protest in Provo, Free Pasta in Ogden

If VP Dick Cheney needs a place to relax and enjoy a free meal after being protested in Provo

College Democrats at Brigham Young University will be protesting Vice President Dick Cheney's commencement speech - two hours before he gives it.
BYU officials granted the student group permission to protest from noon to 2 p.m. on April 26. Cheney's address is set for 4 p.m.

He can head up to Ogden, where a local pizza joint is offering him some pasta (and I'd assume some 'comments." But the pasta looks to be free)


They're even open on Easter! I mean Easter's already happened and all, but it's good to know for next year. Gotta love the Pizza Runner, their sign is the highlight of driving down Harrison Blvd.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Afghanistan: Warlords-turned-Politicians

The post Taliban media boom in Afghanistan has quickly found it's first political opposition, as new legislation is introduced to stifle Afghan press organizations. Since 2001, nearly 40 private radio stations, several TV stations, and 300 plus newspapers and magazines have registered with the Afghan Ministry of information. The new legislation, critics say, is the work of "warlords-turned-politicians" intent on blocking criticism.

If passed, it would give the Ministry of Information and Culture direct control of state-owned Radio and Television Afghanistan (RTA) and increased power over private media. It would even make it possible to jail journalists for reporting news deemed "humiliating and offensive."
Hmmm. Sounds familiar...

LA Times Poll: 48-Percenters

The LA Times conducted a multiple topic poll, showing declining support for both Bush and Congress, and increasing support for cutting off funding to bring the War in Iraq to a close.

The Times/Bloomberg poll interviewed 1,373 respondents by telephone nationwide... The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The poll found that Americans have grown more pessimistic since the beginning of the year. About two-thirds, 66%, said they believed the country is "seriously off on the wrong track," up from 61% in a Times/Bloomberg Poll in January.
The poll also denotes continued support for Gonzales' resignation, a 48% approval for Congress to cut off funding for the war, and a 63% majority belief that Congress was acting for political reasons in the recent run of investigations.

This is why Democrats and Congress need to stand firm. The excitement of the elections has long since faded from public opinion, and many of the scandals and inquiries soon will, or have already lost their "Now That's Good Watchin'!" TV luster. The public will soon bore of the drama, and wish to see focus returned to Social Security and Immigration.

That is where Congress' resolve will be tested. Pelosi and Co. must not let America forget that it is this president and this war that have led our country astray and leeched our time and many of our resources dry. They have hollowed out our justice system and our bill of rights, cheapened our national pride and international reputation, and cost the lives of thousands of American's in the name of false pretense and empirical tyranny. But we also have a very short attention span.

We cannot allow public support for putting an end to Dubya's Reign of Terror to flag. It is only a matter of time before the next Anna Nicole "controversy," and as time passes, public opinion will shift with the winds.

As bloggers, writers, reporters, newscasters, vocal citizens, or concerned students, it is important that we keep what is important focused in the public eye, no matter how loud we have to yell.

Update - Percentage of Uninsured Utahns Increasing - It's the Kids

Yesterday, Jason pointed out that Utah's uninsured population is growing. Now KSL breaks that down for us

More Utah adults are getting coverage, but more Utah children are going without.

Close to 90,000 Utah children now do not have health insurance. That's up five percent from the year before.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Utah eTradmark Law: Unenforcibly Limiting Competition

In March, Utah's legislature passed a law aimed at limiting online advertising. It basically goes like this: a google search for Hillary Clinton brings up about 15,300,000 web pages, but it also brings up a sponsored link for the Barack Obama campaign website. As the law puts it:

General Description:

This bill establishes a new type of mark, called an electronic registration mark, that may not be used to trigger advertising for a competitor and creates a database for use in administering marks.

So if the Clinton campaign registers her name as an electronic registration mark, she can keep competing campaigns from buying online ads that are triggered off of her name. Now of course, this wouldn't be free, they would have to pay an annual fee to maintain her name as a no no for other campaigns. The bill's supporters argue that companies spend millions of dollars creating their 'online trademark' and that allowing competing companies to generate advertisements based on that trademark is a violation of trademark laws, and generally unfair to the company that has spent it's hard earned money and effort creating it.

Dan Eastman, Utah State Senator from Centerville, promotes the law by pointing out it's business friendly nature.

I make no apologies. Utah is a highly tech-savvy, super business-friendly state. We have more computers per capita than anywhere else in the nation. It’s a wonderful place to live and a great place to do business.

This new law will make it even more so.

I have a few problems with this law, first, it's nearly impossible to enforce, as it only applies to businesses in Utah (since it's a Utah state law). Now as anyone who lives in a city that is on a state border, or has ever used AOL can tell you, your ip address's geographic location isn't necessarily your geographic location. Matthew Prince, Adjunct Professor of Law at John Marshall Law School, defends the bill on the state senate's website as well (evidently they're bringing in the heavy hitter big title guys to step up for this one)

If search engines are already restricting searches based on the searcher's geographic location, then what is the additional burden preventing them from complying with Utah's law? Moreover, how it is an "undue burden"? The answer is: it isn't.

The problem here is if your ip geographic location isn't a guaranteed accurate indicator of actual geographic location. Do I just have to sign on to AOL to get the ads to appear, or will we only enforce the law if the ip address displays as being in Utah (most Northern Utah, and perhaps Southwest Wyoming or Southern Idaho, Qwest DSL users ip addresses put them in Salt Lake City)? The only way this law could be enforced would be to require the online companies providing the advertising to determine someone's actual location accurately, or force isp's to update their information regarding isp geographic locations? For a company like Qwest, that would likely be quite difficult (duh).

Seems like a burden on online advertisers and or isp's, and an undue one at that.

My other cause of eyebrow raising with this law is, should we be putting this much effort into protecting a companies trademark. Information Week explains that there is precedent for allowing a company to use it's competitors brand name and trademarks in their advertising.
Despite the absence of clarity, Utah's new law isn't winning any praise.

"Aside from its constitutional flaws, the law is just bad public policy," said Corynne McSherry, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a recent blog post. "It undermines the fundamental purpose of trademarks: to improve consumer access to accurate information about goods and services."

As McSherry points out, competitive trademark use is protected under federal law. Otherwise Pepsi couldn't claim to taste better than Coke and Apple couldn't bash Microsoft.

Now if someone wanted to find more information an Hillary Clinton, and was unaware that there were other options available for democratic presidential candidates wouldn't allowing barackobama.com to appear as a sponsored link in the search give that consumer more information about their options of presidential candidates? Does that link inherently give Obama's campaign more support, or will the decision still be made based on the content of the two websites? And since the websites content represents the companies product, if your company was losing business to sponsored advertisements on a search engine when the search keyword is your companies name, shouldn't you blame your products competitiveness or marketing and improve them, rather than hoping a government somewhere lifts you back into competition? Because after all, we want to give noncompetitive businesses a chance to make money not by improving their business, but by having the government change the rules of the game in their favor.

Percentage of Uninsured Utahns Increasing

The good news? According to a new survey, the number of uninsured Utahn's climbed less in 2006 than in previous years.

Over the past decade Utah's uninsured population grew at an average annual rate of six-point-nine percent. That's compared with a two-point-three percent for the state's overall rate of population growth.
The bad news? It's still climbing. According to the survey, via KSL News, an estimated 300,000 Utahn's are uninsured, an increase of about 13,000 from the previous year.

Monday, April 9, 2007

59% Approve Rocky, 44% Approve His Impeachment Talk

I'd file this under the 'No Big Surprise' category, but Rocky's approval ratings are at 59%.

Most popular is his fight against global climate change, of which 67 percent approve — 47 percent strongly — vs. 26 percent who disapprove.
Anderson has tackled global warming on a local level, instituting a number of city policies aimed at reducing the use of energy and fossil fuels. On a larger scale, he has been speaking at environmental conferences worldwide and hosting his second-annual gathering of U.S. mayors at Sundance in November to share ideas on combating climate change.
Salt Lakers also support Anderson's vocal opposition to the war in Iraq, by a 54-percent to 43-percent margin.
In recent years, Anderson has spoken at several local and national protest rallies against Bush's Iraq policies.
Opinions on both sides of Anderson's anti-war activism run strong: 45 percent strongly support it, and 33 percent strongly oppose it.
However, when it comes to the mayor's calls for Congress to impeach Bush and Cheney, only 44 percent of city residents approve. Fifty-four percent disapprove.

That's somewhere around 20 points higher than Bush's nationwide, 4 points higher than Bush in the last Utah poll I can find (by the way, why did surveyusa.com have to make their 50 state tracking website impossible to use?). Now it is a slip in his numbers from his early days in office, and it's only a sampling of a Salt Lake City, but there's no denying the fact that Rocky's pretty liberal, and this is a part of Utah. I guess what I'm trying to say is when I look at these poll results, along with things like party self identification moving away from the right (even if it's only to the center), it makes me think there is an opening that may be an opening for liberal dems in some larger races in Utah. It's just a thought and maybe I'm being too optimistic, but I think it's possible for us to pull off a win, maybe not in '08 house races, but maybe '10 senate/house. It wouldn't be easy, but it's possible.

UPDATE 3:18 - I added the link to the Deseret News story, my excuse is that I didn't get enough sleep last night.

Obama Skips Fox Debate

I have to admit, I had my doubts as to whether he'd stand up to Fox News and turn this debate down (of all candidates, he's been attacked the most, in my opinion, by FNC). But it sounds like Obama is out of the FNC/CBC debate.

Barack Obama has chosen not to attend September's Democratic presidential primary debate co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and Fox News, an aide said, effectively dooming the event.

Obama is the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus running for President, and his decision allows other candidates to skip the debate without facing criticism that they are turning their backs on a leading black institution.

Fox News isn't going to win any dem the nomination, and legitimizing them by allowing them to sponsor and televise the debate only lends credibility to their future attacks. Now I'm not saying that we should avoid FNC all together, I'm all for Rocky Anderson making them look dumb, but our candidates don't need the publicity to their audience, and shouldn't be making them look like an actual news channel.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Utah Podcasts

So some of us around here have gotten quite addicted to getting news and opinion and such from podcasts. While there are a few podcasts for national news and politics, there isn't much for Utah. The only two I've found that sound like they could be something good are kcpw and inside utah, and I haven't even gotten a chance to listen to those yet (I'm at work, I'll let you know if they end up being worth listening). Does anyone know of any others?

Saturday Funnies

Since it's the weekend . . .

more paint please

everything's fine here, just fine

is it just me, or is this room getting bigger?

you can't do that, because i don't even do that!

you mean I'm not even popular in Provo?

scenic Utah roadways

SE Opinion Page Strikes Again

Ok, so maybe I'm picking on the Standard Examiner, but I can't help it, their opinion page is pissing me off.

Now I don't ever watch The View, I don't follow Rosie O'Donnell, or what she says, so I'm not defending her. But by including this in their argument:

Now that the British sailors are home safe we may soon find out the physical and psychological abuse they suffered for almost two weeks at the mercy of Iran's thugs, who consistently violated Geneva standards for handling captives.

the Standard is leaving itself in the akward situation of hoping that these sailors were tortured. I understand this is an editorial, but simply assuming that stories will come out of torture because they were being held captive in Iran is a fairly large assumption to make to prove your point. Luckily, news reports would soon come out confirming the Standard's assumption.
THE 15 British sailors and marines captured by Iran were blindfolded, bound, held in solitary confinement and subjected to "constant psychological pressure" during their 13-day ordeal.

Some of the group were lined up while weapons were cocked, making them fear execution, they said.

Other news reports showed a bit of a different story though.
While in captivity the Britons told Iranian television they were being treated well, but on return to Britain said they faced “constant psychological pressure”.

Now it seems there is at least a question as to whether the torture took place, many will say that the sailors were just trying to get out of Iran safely, that's why they held back on the torture stories until they were home. But, according to Canada's National Post (above link), it seems like we're causing people to do the same thing.
“Questions asked by CIA agents were about the presence and influence of Iran in Iraq. They asked questions about the amount of aid Iran provided to the government of (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri) al-Maliki, Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish groups,” he said.

“When they were faced with my answers about the official relationship of Iran with the Iraqi government and officials they increased the tortures, many days they tortured me day and night,” he said.

Did the CIA torture an Iranian Diplomat? Did Iran torture British Sailors? I don't know the answer to either of these questions. But given our reputation for handling prisoners and suspected terrorists (remember Abu Ghraib, and Gitmo) do we really want to be hoping someone else in the world is torturing people? Is that the best way to make ourselves look good? Is that the only way we can beat Rosie O'Donnell?

Friday, April 6, 2007

US Census Bureau: Immigration Keeping US Cities Alive

Amid the noise of the immigration debate, new Census Bureau data serves as a reminder that there is more to it than partisan ideology and the fervor of "They Took Our Jobs!" Nationalism.

According to the data, immigration is protecting major urban areas from slow "drain in population" as longtime residents migrate away from the larger cities.

"New York would certainly be declining in population, same with Los Angeles, and so they really are kind of propping up the population in a lot of big cities," said Mark Mather, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau. "In some places, like in the rust belt around Pittsburgh, where they are having real substantial population loss, immigrants are playing a vital role. They are coming in and filling needed jobs, and providing some of the tax base that is needed to help the economy."
The data also gives face to an emerging "Class" system.
...there is emerging evidence of a class - as well as an ethnic - divide, with working-class and poorly educated immigrants, who are often from Latin America, settling in urban centres, and highly skilled immigrants, from countries such as India and China...
But we can rest assured, anti-immigration mobs will predictably ignore everything in the report but this:
By the middle of this century those patterns of movement - native-born Americans moving out, newcomers and their families moving in - will put a very different face on the average city. The majority population will be members of ethnic minority groups. In some of the fastest growing cities, such as the Dallas Fort Worth area, immigrants accounted for nearly 80% of population growth over the last six years.

MoveOn.Org: Town Hall

From MoveOn.org:

Next Tuesday—April 10th—at 7:15pm Eastern, MoveOn is using the Internet to connect presidential candidates directly to the people.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, and Joe Biden will answer questions from MoveOn.org's 3.2 million members in the first of three unprecedented virtual town hall meetings. The topic: Iraq.
Click here to find a town hall event in your area, or here to host one of your own.

This is a very unique and unprecedented event, not only as an opportunity to hear from the candidates themselves, but also to show the candidates and the entire nation that MoveOn and it's members, as well as grassroots organizations throughout the country, are a legitimate political force that will play a large part in 2008.


Join MoveOn.org's Virtual Town Hall: Iraq

White House vs. Reality: Part XXVIII

A declassified Pentagon report released April 5 shows that Iraq had no pre-war ties to Al-Quaeda. The Report sites seized Iraqi documents, as well as confirming results from interrogation of Saddam Hussein and his top aides.
At nearly the exact same time, Dick Cheney, on Rush Limbaugh, was saying this:

"al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq before we ever launched."
He also told us:
"[Iraq is] the geographical base of the terrorists who had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9-11."
"[Saddam Hussein] has an established relationship with al Qaeda"
I could go on, but you've probably heard it all by now.

At a certain point, one can argue, it is no longer about proving beyond a reasonable doubt this administration is intentionally misleading the American people. Eventually, it becomes obvious that if they are not intentionally misleading us, then they are, at least, grossly incompetent and incapable of effectively leading our country in any constructive direction.

Yesterday's Pentagon bombshell directly contradicts everything the Vice President, -- and often the President himself -- has ever told us about why we invaded Iraq, and why it is necessary for us to stay. Yet every day the proof of false pretenses and fabricated justifications grows.

Outside of the Democrat's fight in congress over our future in Iraq, and the media's fight with themselves over the truth, the question at least arrises: "Why did they really want to do it?" If we have evidence now of false intelligence and faulty logic behind everything we have heard so far, what is it they are not telling us?

Is this blind ignorance (or arrogance) and hubris on the part of the President and his republican supporters, or is there more to this story? Are we just waiting out the final days of a ridiculously incompetent administration, or are we waiting for the Bob Woodward book that tells us there was a lot more to this than we ever would have believed?

We seemed to have grown complacent ourselves, perhaps because nearly every week there is a new admission of failure or dishonesty in the World of Bush. We hear no reports of public outcry in the news. We are either being ignored by the media, or we are settling into something less than outrage. With each new piece of information, most people shake their heads in disbelief, but little more.

Only the "fringe" is outrages, we are told. Only the "far left" has a problem with the direction these people have taken our country. Only the "kooks" believe we have tarnished our reputation and lost respect in the international community. In truth, it is a large majority of the American people who have had enough. But where does that leave us?

It is not enough to simply wait this out until 2008.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Mitt-Flop and Flip, The Dolphin

The Romney campaign is now also the target of aquatic life.

Dressed in a dolphin suit, the anonymous college kid tried to enter the event but was caught in a net of young Romney staffers. "You need to leave the building," bellowed one, as he "porpoisely" pushed out the heckler. Flip, though, was not overly dismayed and took his act into the chilly late-afternoon air, where he waved a "Mitt Flop" sign at motorists arriving at the HQ. Unamused and eyeing him warily was a Romney aide.
It was only a matter of time, this mammal uprising, considering the thousands (could it be millions?) of innocent animals killed in his self-described life as an avid hunter.