Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rocket Science for Republicans

Common Sense courtesy of Oliver Willis:

The conservative push to re-cast the common sense plan to leave Iraq as a liberal stab in the back continues with Hugh Hewitt given an assist by NY Times correspondent John Burns. Burns pulls the figure of 1 million Iraqis Wile E Coyotedying in a civil war simply out of his rear, and Hewitt is glad to trumpet that figure because it serves his cause. The very real and very concrete number of 3,652 dead Americans in Iraq isn't much of a concern to Hewitt and the right in this case, however, not to mention the 3,000 killed on 9/11 still unavenged thanks to the Republican inability to fight terrorism (Oh God, we can't cross Pakistan's border - we promised with a pinky swear and everything!).

The fundamental difference here is that the impetus behind liberal thinking on this issue has consistently been the protection of American citizens and the security of the world, while for conservatives it has been mission one to carry water for George W. Bush and cover his and Dick Cheney's posteriors. One of those two mindsets makes rational sense, the other one is deep inside with George W. Bush's benign polyps.

Monday, July 30, 2007

NYT Op-Ed: "Everything Is Fine"

This hit just today, and Hot Air (via Michelle Malkin) was all upons, which of course means Utah Rattler was posting about it shortly there-after, in fine ventriloquist fashion.

But for the record, let us note, that despite the editorials nice cadence, style, and carefully chosen verbs, there is not much in the merit department of an "everything is just super!" message from the likes of Brookings Institute's O'Hanlon and Pollack. The word credible and these two have not met in many a year.

We can look forward to an entire day, maybe, if we're lucky, even a full week of hearing the woes of the Liberals, now that they have lost Brookings, and O'Hanlon and Pollack. We can revel in angst, as the the regulars at Fox, and their minions in the blogosphere detail the illuminating experience it must be for two such "left-Leaning" persons to come out to tell us everything in Iraq is just hunky-dory and we should all have some Kool-aid and stop worrying.

There is only one problem. We gave up O'Hanlon and Pollack waaaaaay back in Ought 3, when they donned their cheerleading skirts and joined the kick-line for invasion.

Greenwald (of course) has more:

The Op-Ed is an exercise in rank deceit from the start. To lavish themselves with credibility -- as though they are war skeptics whom you can trust -- they identify themselves at the beginning "as two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq." In reality, they were not only among the biggest cheerleaders for the war, but repeatedly praised the Pentagon's strategy in Iraq and continuously assured Americans things were going well. They are among the primary authors and principal deceivers responsible for this disaster.

Worse, they announce that "the Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility," as though they have not. But let us look at Michael O'Hanlon, and review just a fraction of the endless string of false and misleading statements he made about Iraq and ask why anyone would possibly listen to him about anything, let alone consider him an "expert" of any kind:

...this is not the first time O'Hanlon took a trip to Iraq (for what Sen. Webb recently called the "dog and pony show") and then came back and announced How Great Things Are, that We Have the Right Strategy, and that We are Winning.
So before all you nut-jobs get your motors rolling and keyboards smoking, bellowing that the "truth" has finally shown through in this wonderfully executed and visionary war, because two hacks from Brookings finally said so, lets be clear, from the get go, that these guys, along with Liebermann, are on your team.

AT&T Exploits Prison Labor

Prison Legal News:

The phone company (AT&T) has found a way to dump union workers, save big money and exploit the labor of prisoners, all at once. According to reports from the Communications Workers, AT&T is contracting out telemarketing jobs to firms that provide labor practically free through the prison system. The company is planning to lay off thousands of telephone operators -- all union members who could perform the telemarketing work. Prisoners, of course, have no option about performing work they are assigned.

What do the AT&T subcontractors pay prisoners for telephone work? Try $2 per day. For that, the prisoners -- essentially slave laborers -- have to call area businesses, identify themselves as AT&T representatives and try to sell AT&T products and services. The prison systems in Colorado, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio, New Jersey and Florida sell the right to exploit prisoners to a firm called Unibase, which in turn sells the service to AT&T.
What's wrong with a giant corporation trying to save a few bucks using an incarcerated work-force as opposed to higher-waged union work, you ask?

Nothing.

Until 25 years from now, when the conglomerate of corporations running the show, with their hands in the politicians' pants, realize those behind bars are worth more than the men and women walking free on the street, and your only avenue of defense against a thirty year jail sentence for running a yellow light are these guys and these guys.

Sleep well,, folks.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The iPhone Threat To Net Neutrality

And I thought no video and multi media messages were bad. Now it turns out AT&T has positioned themselves to control web content on the iPhone.

The executive, James W. Cicconi, revealed that AT&T would become the first Internet provider to monitor its networks for perceived misuse of copyright-protected films, television, music and other media.
This is a major policy shift, especially coming from the largest provider of both local and long distance services, wireless service, and DSL Internet access in the United States. Previously, network operators have remained neutral to the nature of the content delivered over their networks.
This scenario is a bit like Ma Bell listening in and shutting down a phone call if one of the parties uses an obscenity, or God forbid, plays part of a commercial recording to a friend over the line. Make no mistake about it; this is brave new territory for a telco.

Steps like this will eventually lead to a non neutral, see what your provider wants you to see internet, and the longer we go without legislation making it illegal for providers to selectively restrict content, the more loopholes AT&T, and every other telco and isp for that matter, will find.

Projecting Normalcy on "Intellectual Conservatives"

Discovered a lengthy, yet very thoughtful post regarding the ideological divisions the conservative movement has driven into our political communities and public discourse, written by Idaho native turned Seattle freelance journalist David Neiwert. With careful examination, he details his own shift from conservative to a moderate liberal, as well as the shift - in the opposite direction - of our national dialog, and the harm is has wrought on our nation at large.

I found this to be one of the more insightful perspectives on the fight progressives now face:

One of the important things I learned as a cops-and-courts reporter lo these many years ago was something about crime victims: That they often make themselves vulnerable to violent crimes because they are not prepared to deal with people who are sociopathic, or who exhibit antisocial or narcissistic personality disorders, or in some cases outright psychoses. That they project their own normalcy onto these other people -- they really cannot believe that someone else would act in a way substantially different from their own decent, sane base of operations.

In a way, I think this is a large part of what is happening to our national body politic: People in key positions of media and conservative ideological prominence (Coulter, Limbaugh, even Bill O'Reilly) exhibit multiple symptoms of being pathological sociopaths, either antisocial or narcissistic, or a combination of both. And not only their fellow participants in the conservative movement, but mainstream centrists and even liberals are unable to figure out that there is something seriously wrong with these people because they are projecting their own normalcy onto them. They cannot perceive because they cannot believe -- that, above all, these people are not operating within a framework guided by the boundaries of basic decency that restrain most of us.
It is an older post, and discusses intelligently the "handling" of the War on Terror, our invasion of Iraq, and re-hashes legitimacy questions Bush never answered for us following his "election", but I found Neiwert's sentiments regarding fascism, and the need for liberals' to defend themselves, recognizing what kind of a monster we face, just as timely today as in 2003.

The dialog hasn't changed. The Right-Wing Hate-Machine is still churning and spewing, and very little of the rhetoric being shat is about moving forward, progress, or ensuring an enlightened direction for the good of our country. Progressives are still on the defensive in the face of the obfuscation tactics conservatives have perfected, and little substantial information rises to the top about this war, our internal struggles, or even our future candidates.

If we plan to regain our own national self respect, and restore justice and integrity to our own land, and in our dealings with others, we have to first rise above the white noise of talking-points and empty propaganda to an actual conversation about where we go from here.

Propaganda Pimp

There are no more shocking revelations or jaw-dropping exasperations to experience when it comes to Fox News and their underdeveloped poster child, Bill O'Reilly. This issue of Fox News and their "reporting" is so polarizing, few minds will be changed. You either recognize the bullshit, or you buy into it, just as many people buy into Amway, Fitness Orbs, and Geraldo Rivera's courageous mustache.

But there is something important brewing in the cess pool of O'Reilly's cheap shots and shoddy "journalism," and that is the very real danger of propaganda and it's effects, if unchecked, on public discourse.

If it wasn't already glaringly obvious from watching his nightly bombast; if you hadn't already seen the acute paranoia in his red-faced shouting matches; if you need something more to conclude that O'Reilly is in a downward spiral of tyrannical propagandizing: well now you have it...

Researchers at Indiana University have just published the results of a study that provides academic validation that O'Reilly is a textbook propagandist. Amongst the key findings is that:
"...the Fox News personality consistently paints certain people and groups as villains and others as victims to present the world, as he sees it, through political rhetoric."
The study itemized seven propaganda devices as defined by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis:
* Name calling - giving something a bad label to make the audience reject it without examining the evidence.
* Glittering generalities - the opposite of name calling.
* Card stacking - the selective use of facts and half-truths.
* Bandwagon - appeals to the desire, common to most of us, to follow the crowd.
* Plain folks - an attempt to convince an audience that they, and their ideas, are “of the people”.
* Transfer - carries over the authority, sanction and prestige of something we respect or dispute to something the speaker would want us to accept.
* Testimonials - involving a respected (or disrespected) person endorsing or rejecting an idea or person.
O’Reilly was found to have employed six of the seven nearly 13 times each minute. This is an important statistic because it is not merely the use of these devices that define their effect. It is the repetition and the absence of any substantive debate that produces the desired manipulation of free thought.
Propaganda will exist, always, as a tactic of the weak minded and reality-challenged, regardless of the strength of our democracy. But democracy itself depends on our ability, as citizens, voters, and individuals, to recognize the distinct smell of a turd, no matter how colorfully it might be painted.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bloggers V. Fox News

With Bill O'Reilly comparing daily kos to the KKK and the Nazi's, it was only a matter of time before people started lining up against him. Now if he wants his followers to tell JetBlue to not sponsor yearlykos, surely we can do the same to his advertisers. The website FOX Attackers is looking for enlistees to join them.

We're fighting back by identifying and calling all of FOX's advertisers. All of them. Particularly local advertisers who probably have no idea the kind of hatred their money is supporting.

So if you've ever wanted to be on Bill's 'Enemies List' (I have, I'm still not on it though, it's my biggest disappointment). You may also want to point out some of the things that have been said on Bill's sight lately. I mean he monitors his sight, so he must think this and this are ok (both John Aravosis from Americablog and BarbaraMD from dailykos have had their premium memberships suspended, evidently for pointing out hypocrisy, I wonder if they'll get their money back?).

Update

So I hadn't checked to see if I was personally an enemy of Bill O'Reilly's in a while, so I decided I'd better make sure I wasn't, since I'd just posted that I wasn't. It turns out he now calls it the "Hall of Shame" which includes this as a introduction
Media Outlets that Traffic in Defamation
We believe the following media operations have regularly helped distribute defamatory, false or non-newsworthy information supplied by far left websites

Because no media outlets distribute anything defamatory, false, or non-newsworthy that comes from a far right website, so there would be no point in even making that heading on the site. He reports, we decide.

DOJ Won't Enforce Contempt Of Congress

If, that is, it's Bush, or someone in his staff that's being cited. Not that this is really a surprise, considering the way the justice department has been run of late. From TPM:

The Justice Department sent a letter yesterday to the House Judiciary Committee that made the administration's position official: a U.S. attorney will not enforce a citation of contempt, should it pass the House.

So now not only will Gonzales not tell congress the truth himself, he won't make anyone else either.

Republican Helms Unauthorized Obama Fundraiser

SF Chronicle:

Cash's "Californians for Obama" boasted an official-looking Web site (www.californiansforobama.com) that was graced by a smiling photo of the candidate. The site pitched a star-studded Obama "Women of Power" cruise for 2,000 to Mexico that attracted donors like a 65-year-old woman from Compton (Los Angeles County), who said she has paid the $2,423 cruise fee believing the funds would help support her candidate.

But a Chronicle examination of the latest Federal Election Commission records on file for the organization for the reporting period ending June 30 shows that while Cash has raised nearly $10,000 this year, not one dollar has gone to the Obama campaign -- or any other political candidate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Generation Chickenhawk

Max Blumenthal gives me a great idea. What say you, those so fearful of our withdrawal from this pointless endeavor, to a draft of only those who are talking the talk supporting our continued occupation of Iraq?

In conversations with at least twenty College Republicans about the war in Iraq, I listened as they lip-synched discredited cant about "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." Many of the young GOP cadres I met described the so-called "war on terror" as nothing less than the cause of their time.

Yet when I asked these College Republicans why they were not participating in this historical cause, they immediately went into contortions. Asthma. Bad knees from playing catcher in high school. "Medical reasons." "It's not for me." These were some of the excuses College Republicans offered for why they could not fight them "over there." Like the current Republican leaders who skipped out on Vietnam, the GOP's next generation would rather cheerlead from the sidelines for the war in Iraq while other, less privileged young men and women fight and die.
So a new challenge to anyone who would speak out in support of our continued efforts in Iraq: Will you walk the walk? Will you hoist arms in support of this "cause of our time"? Lets see some actual sacrifice here, those of you who want to toe the line. If this truly is the most important conflict we face, and if our "success" in Iraq is of utmost importance, and if you cannot see another way our military could more effectively fight a true war on terrorism, what are you doing sitting there on your ass reading this, instead of throwing yourself upon the cause in patriotic selflessness?

Yeah, I thought so.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Passive Absorption

Atrios, on the "trouble with our discourse":

I'd say that roughly speaking there are 4 kinds of people in this country when it comes to politics and current events (of course these are broad brush categories). There are the people who really don't pay any attention at all, and whose only real knowledge comes from passive absorption of random things that they happen to hear. There are the people who get all of their information from Limbaugh and the rest of the conservative media. There are the people who imagine that they're paying attention, and think that by listening to NPR and reading gullible idiots like Joe Klein they're "very informed." And then there are the readers of this blog who know what's really going on (joke).

It's the third category of people I worry most about how to reach. They're the ones who absorb and regurgitate Maureen Dowd's latest bon mot, or the latest bit of Washington "conventional wisdom," and think they're really on top of things. They aren't necessarily stupid people, they just haven't come to terms with the fact that the mainstream media is something to be treated with great skepticism.

Hell Will Be Filled With Republicans

We can all pretend to be surprised.

It is striking to see one of the nation's most influential Christians explicitly acknowledge that the defining Republican policies -- the death penalty, unrestrained "terrorism" approaches, waterboarding, and (though Gerson doesn't mention it) "preventive" wars -- are not only un-Catholic, but also hostile to the "ethic of life." Gerson is right that such policies are decisively anti-life and contrary to Catholic teaching. Beyond that, they are squarely at odds with more general Christian moral teaching as well. Indisputably, there is a "life" and "morality" aspect to the Republican Party's conduct of the "war on terrorism" and that conduct could not be more at odds with the values they claim to embrace.

Yet our political discourse is sufficiently broken that this is rarely pointed out. The media has decreed that these same Republicans embody the "faith" agenda. Thus the political party that, on one issue after the next, advocates anti-"ethic-of-life" and un-Catholic positions is endlessly presented as the "pro-life" party for "people of faith."

Durbin Turns to Web for Help Drafting Legislation

Someone finally gets it!

For four nights, beginning Tuesday, July 24, 2007, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will be interacting with the American public, seeking ideas and feedback about a national broadband strategy on the blog OpenLeft.com. Durbin says he will use the information gleaned in the comments section there to help draft broadband legislation.

“There are two reasons I’m asking for your help and participation,” writes Senator Durbin. “The first is because I think we need more public participation and transparency in the way Congress crafts significant legislation.

“This is an approach to legislation that has never been tried before. If it’s successful — as I believe it will be — it may become the way lawmakers approach drafting bills on other issues like education, health care, and foreign policy.

“The second reason I’m doing this is because broadband policy is one of the most important public policy issues today. Frankly, America does not have a national broadband strategy, and we are falling behind.”

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thank Senator Hatch for Subpoenas Vote

Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director:

Since 2005, the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked the administration respectfully and repeatedly for documents explaining the legal justification behind the National Security Agency’s program to spy on Americans. They’ve asked nine times. And they’ve been rebuffed nine times.

Now they’re bravely demanding the truth with the force of law. Senator Hatch voted to issue subpoenas compelling President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the Justice Department to turn over documents that explain their flawed legal justification for spying on Americans without warrants. The deadline for the White House to comply is 2 p.m. next Wednesday, July 18.
Thank Orrin Hatch for his vote.

Chris Cannon, Court Jester

Whenever I see the words "Chris Cannon of Utah" in a national newspaper or blog, I cringe, and feel this little ball of angst knotting up in my abdomen, because I know what I will be reading thereafter will be, for want of a better phrase, really fucking stupid.

Cannon's dog and pony show at the Harriet Miers oversight circus has little to offer by way of surprise, and much to make one ask "where the hell did this guy go to law school?".

The ranking Republican on the subcommittee, Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah, accused the majority of orchestrating "a gigantic spin game frittering away the precious time of this 110th Congress."

The White House has offered to make Miers and a few other officials available for interviews in private, without an oath, transcript or opportunity for follow-up questions. Democrats have said those conditions are unacceptable.

Calling the subpoena for Miers premature, Cannon said the majority was making a mistake by declining to interview her on White House terms.

"Not having interviewed Ms. Miers leaves us with some questions but with no hard evidence of criminality," so a court probably won't enforce the subpoena and override the White House's assertion of executive privilege, Cannon said.

"We can't produce the evidence of misconduct — because the witness won't come," responded House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).

He added: "The take-it-or-leave-it offer that you referred to would be unacceptable to a high school student.

"I mean, no transcripts, no oath, no nothing — we could meet in a pub and have refreshments and do that."
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) tried to shed light on the perspective that so often seems to skirt above, around, under, and through Cannon's head:
President Nixon once "famously argued that — I think this is a quote — 'Everything the president does is legal,' " observed Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), who was a judiciary committee staffer during the Nixon impeachment inquiry. "It appears that this administration is apparently adding, 'Everything the president, his advisors and his former advisors say or do is privileged.'

"That is not the state of the law."
Cannon, of course, kept talking. I can't bring myself to post more than I have. I know I am shattering no paradigms for our readers pointing out that Cannon would rather toe the line than have an original thought or an actual understanding of say, oh, law and stuff, but what does it say about our state when Cannon is the best we can send up to the DC debating machine?

It's enough to make one want to kick a pirate, I tell ya!

Time for a Tech-Savvy Candidate

This is something I could completely get behind.

Technologically savvy campaigns are one thing, but we also need candidates who themselves have a basic understanding of how this stuff works. We need to elect the first tech president. The Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) is leading the charge with a six-point technical agenda it is hoping the presidential candidates will support. If a candidate disagrees with part of it, I want to know why.
And what should the candidate promise to do with "The Tubes"?
Declare the Internet a public good. This means treating Internet access the same way we do water, electricity, highways, and public education. The government would have an obligation to enable low-cost universal access.

Commit to providing affordable high-speed wireless Internet access nationwide. Protect and expand unlicensed spectrum for public use. The PDF suggests spending $20 billion on an Internet Innovation and Investment Fund that would guarantee and spur development of a wireless broadband blanket and make sure the Net reaches every segment of the population.

Declare a Net neutrality standard. This would prevent ISPs from discriminating among content based on origin, application, or type. And with no tiered service pricing, big corporations couldn’t buy their way into the fast lane, leaving smaller firms and individuals behind.

Make “Every Child Connected” our goal. If major corporations are able to increase the productivity of their workers by equipping them with PCs, cell phones, and Internet connections, we owe it to our children to offer the same infrastructure in schools.

Commit to building a connected democracy. Local and national government proceedings should be broadcast on the Internet so anyone can hear them anytime.

Create a National Tech Corps. This group would respond to emergencies by reestablishing communications, networks, and databases, and providing tech support for relief and recovery efforts.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Open Broadband, Anyone?

Boo-yeah!

Coming soon could be a wireless broadband world in which consumers get to pick any smartphone or other device and load any software on it — not have to take what the wireless carrier wants to sell.

That’s the goal of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin, who will propose sweeping new rules for wireless airwaves the government is auctioning early next year. The 700 MHz spectrum, being vacated by TV stations as they go digital, is coveted for its ability to penetrate walls and other obstacles.
Also, the Net Neutrality fight is far from over.

Itchy Trigger Fingers

Finally, some logical insight begins to seep through the hysterical paranoia surrounding Iran's nuclear endeavors:

Iran, it is often claimed, has no need for nuclear power, given its abundant oil and natural gas reserves. But the Iranian government is under economic and political pressure to supply increasing amounts of electricity to its growing population and fragile economy. Using oil or natural gas for domestic electricity threatens oil and gas exports, which are the principle source of government revenues. Indeed, with domestic oil consumption growing at a higher rate than production, government revenues from oil exports are already in decline.

Thus, nuclear power will halt the decline in government revenues by freeing more oil and natural gas for export. Iran’s natural gas resources, if developed, would not be a substitute for cheap nuclear power, because gas is more profitable in other uses than in power generation.

The Iranian government fears that electricity shortages, slow economic growth, and high unemployment will turn the populace against it. As social tensions increase, political turmoil will follow.
Sometimes if you just sit and take a deep breath, take your finger off the button, and count to ten, you realize not everybody is out to get you.

Thinking is also cheaper than war.

Planned Parenthood and SLC Mayoral Candidates

From Planned Parenthood:

Please join Equality Utah and Planned Parenthood Action Council as we host our SLC Mayoral Candidate Forum on Wednesday, July 11th from 5:30pm – 7:00pm in the ballroom at The Hotel Monaco.

During this forum, each candidate for Salt Lake City Mayor will be given 8 minutes for an introduction. Included in their introduction, candidates will respond to questions provided by Equality Utah and PPAC.

Following their introductions, you will have the opportunity to interact with the candidates one-on-one. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to discuss the issues that are important to you.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Bush Afraid Of What Scooter Would Say?

That's what this New York Times editorial is suggesting

Within minutes of the Libby announcement, the same Republican commentators who fulminated when Paris Hilton got a few days knocked off her time in a county lockup were parroting Mr. Bush’s contention that a fine, probation and reputation damage were “harsh punishment” enough for Mr. Libby.

Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.

That sums it up for me, the mainstream media dives right in, backing up the President's story as he obstructs justice while only a few days ago they were complaining of Paris Hilton's soft treatment by the legal system. It does seem conveniant that Libby's treatment, which was highly unusual for the Bush Administration, so perfectly retains a viable 5th ammendment plea should Mr. Libby get an invitation to testify in front of, oh say, everyone (which he should). So no jail time, can dodge any questions, what's next, no probation either. Well, maybe.
Bush eliminated Libby's 2½-year prison term and left in place his two years of supervised release. But supervised release – a form of probation – is only available to people who have served prison time. Without prison, it's unclear what happens next.

Oh, and today's WTF award goes to CBS News, I can't believe anyone would write something like this.
But his action ensures that Libby will not go to jail, and that's a good thing.

The national press at it's finest.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Libby Commuted, Justice Whereabouts Unknown

Bush has let Scooter off without the jail time, he'll still have to pay the fine and go through the probation, but no hard, or even medium security time for Libby. TPM has Bush's statement

I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.

So he basically line item vetoed the sentence. Now we can see why congress won't give him, or any other president, the power of line item vetoes. Personally I don't understand the logic behind this decision. He either agrees with the conviction, or he doesn't. But to agree with the verdict and not the sentence seems to make no one happy by stepping in, akwardly. Will this appease the right, or did they just want a pardon? I'm fairly sure no one on the left will be happy with this. I'm not at least, but because it seems like an invasion of the legal system. Yes it is within the President's powers to do this, but to tinker with the sentence of a convicted felon because the sentence was too harsh? Could all of the first time felons sentenced to longer than 30 months please raise their hands? A quick skim of this Bureau of Justice Statistics report puts the average other crimes sentence at 38 months. Yes it was a first offense, but it was also four counts, doesn't that balance out somewhere. But really, I don't know, I'm not a lawyer, but neither is Bush. Those over at Firedoglake, the people that know this case the best agree that the presiding judge knows more about the appropriate sentence for such a conviction.
Wrong. Wrong. Entirely wrong. The sentence as laid out carefully by Judge Walton was well within the sentencing guidelines — in fact, it was mid-range in the guidelines. The President may well feel that a 30 months sentence is excessive for someone who has been convicted of multiple federal felonies — but, it is entirely false to say that the sentence is excessive within the guidelines. It is an attempt at spin and shold not be allowed to stand unchallenged.

Well, at least it's all over, so now we can hear all the answers to the questions that couldn't be answered during the ongoing investigation/trial/post - trial/appeals process/we just can't answer that or we'll look bad period. Of course we're still in that last one, so I'm guessing we won't be getting many answers.

FCC vs FTC On Net Neutrality

Last week, the FTC struck down net neutrality proponents using the argument that market competition should be allowed to develope and self correct without government intervention. Now this would be an ideal way to handle a problem, in an ideal world, with ideal markets. The problem with this logic applied to ISP's is that we aren't dealing with perfect competition, in fact we're pretty far from it. The reality of the situation generally has a few ISP's, and if everyone is charging for tiered access, you have no choice but to pay more, or watch your connection slow down. Now where do you suppose they'd find the bandwidth to make those on the top (aka expensive) tier connection faster? Here's the best way I've seen it explained -

If the tubes are clogged, you should just pay more and they will make everyone else's tubes more clogged to give you bigger ones. At least, that's the FTC's take on it all.

But the FCC doesn't agree, at least when it comes to your long distance phone calls.
Long-distance phone companies cannot block customers from dialing free chat lines to avoid incurring charges imposed by local carriers that connect these calls, federal regulators said Tuesday.

The Federal Communications Commission said the ruling removes any doubt about whether long-distance companies may use such call blocking tactics to avoid per-minute charges levied by local carriers. It said no carriers “may block, choke, reduce or restrict traffic in any way.”

So here we have one agency giving the go ahead for companies to block, choke, reduce, or restrict traffic in any way they see fit, using capitalism as it's defense, and another saying that no one can restrict traffic, even if it will cost telcos a little profit. But that's with phone calls, the FCC is still looking into net neutrality, and while the wording in the long distance decision is a good thing to hear, it's never too late to let them know you would like to keep the net neutral. I threw in part of their own statement
Specifically, Commission precedent provides that no carriers, including interexchange carriers, may block, choke, reduce or restrict traffic in any way. For example, in response to the blocking of IXC Teleconnect’s interstate calls transiting extended area service (EAS) facilities by incumbent LECs, the Common Carrier Bureau held that “the blocking of interstate traffic transiting EAS facilities to reach the access number of Teleconnect from the petitioners’ exchanges was in violation of the Communications Act and Commission policy.”

If nothing else, they could at least be consistent.