Thursday, May 28, 2009

Montreal Gazette editors finally print my comment

Because my first attempt to comment on this article has been censored I am posting it here.

1. Technology has increased a great deal since 1994 so the cost savings associated with networked parking meters etc would have been realized by a city controlled parking infrastructure similarly to a private one.

2. The author does not list any of the rates from 1994 or the rates from today. More than likely it is this difference more than any other that accounts for the increased revenues.

3. What do these increased revenues mean for the small businesses that rely on customers driving to their stores? It's a little bit difficult to bring your desktop computer to a store for repairs on your bike.

4. Instead of just giving the readers a he said/she said between Stationnement de Montreal and the researchers, why not investigate and then tell us which figure (1.6 or 20 cents per dollar) is the correct (or closer to the correct) amount?

I must say I am slightly disappointed with this article as it is a subject that should be of more interest to people but the important questions are not asked, much less answered.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

As crafty as they are...

From the sidelines one can almost admire the efficacy and the cunning that the flapping lips of the Conservative movement (since no one but Colin Powell still calls themselves Republicans anymore) have when attacking the Progressives' agenda. It conjures up a feeling, if only for a second, of awe and even a little bit of jealousy as you ponder what might be if Harry Reid lashed out with even 1/10 of the vigor and passion that Karl Rove seems to expend on his porcelain throne before going on FoxNews. But alas, that's one of the big differences that exist within our two party system.

Certainly, without any doubt, the Conservative attack machine is always fueled up and ready to go, waiting with bated breath for a signal, or an order to come down the Rove/Limbaugh/Hannity bat-phone and announce who the day's target shall be. As it turned out yesterday, the target was Sonia Sotomayor, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals judge that President Obama has just nominated to replace Justice Souter upon his retirement. It was no surprise to see Karl Rove jump out in front and begin his typical attempt of labeling her "a liberal". Truth be told, I wouldn't even mind all this incessant labeling if it was even remotely accurate. The sad truth of the matter is that most of the people FoxNews and friends label as being "unabashed liberals" are really Liberals in the Phil Ochsian definition, meaning that they are unabashed moderates.

Consider this Supreme Court nominee and her history. While the one case that Sean Hannity harped on for half of his show on Tuesday focused on a decision to allow a fire department in Connecticut to choose to not promote anyone in favor of only promoting white firefighters, that's not that earth shattering of a decision since all she did was affirm the lower court's decision in the case.

You would think that if they really cared about Liberal vs. Conservative issues, they would be happy to have Sotomayor given her likely views on abortion, but that's not even what's at stake for the GOP. Better for them to attack her as a Liberal and have it established that yes, she is a Liberal, so that the next person they talk about will seem really liberal in the eyes of the public. The game they are playing is redrawing the lines and trying to move the "moderate" line to the right...and sadly, it's working.

Pundit after putrid pundit on the cable news programs use terms like "unabashed liberal," "out spoken liberal," and "established liberal" when discussing Judge Sotomayor and they go completely unchallenged by anyone out there. If she is those things, what does that make someone like Dennis Kucinich who is one of the only true Progressivs in Congress? And if she is so far the left as they claim, does that make Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), with his record of supporting torture and opposing voting rights initatives, a moderate? It is this kind of rightward shift in the public perception of our political battlefield that allowed John McCain to pretend to be a moderate republican. Truth of the matter is, moderate republicans like Jim Jeffords (Vermont) and Arlen Spector (Pennsylvania) have been forced out of the GOP and the ones that remain (Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins) may not last much longer.

Personally, I hope this whole nomination of Judge Sotomayor is Obama's Harriet Myers, albeit far more qualified. It's not that I don't think she'd be a fine Supreme Court Justice, but given the Bush appointments of Alito and Roberts, and the current makeup of the Senate, now seems like the perfect opportunity to seize the day and put on the bench a young, progressive, healthy justice who might break William O. Douglas' record for longest serving member of the Court.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

One fair use for Waterboarding

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: To avoid what could be federal charges I would just like to state that I am in no way shape or form advocating that non-government entities or persons should kidnap or detain and then waterboard ANYONE. Now...if the CIA wanted to do it to the below mentioned people...who am I to argue with the heroes that keep us safe?

I've been thinking about this for a few weeks now, and while I oppose torture in almost all circumstances, there is one that seems like a reasonable, and appropriate use of such techniques as waterboarding and other "harsh interrogation procedures," that being, to waterboard all of the DOJ lawyers and Dick Cheney until such time as they admit that it is torture.

This would be a victory on two fronts and really is the only win-win situation ever devised with regards to the use of torture. As I see it, waterboarding these sorry sacks of shit provides two possible outcomes, both of which would be agreeable to me.

The first outcome, which is the most likely outcome in my opinion, is that they cop to waterboarding and other "harsh methods" as being torture. This proves that they lied in their memos and legal opinions, and, assuming we use the same legal standards that they have imposed on the detainees, would be sufficient evidence of their wrong doing. Also, if they later appear on television or in interviews arguing that they only said it was torture because they were being tortured, it further adds to the fact that information obtained through torture is unreliable.

The second outcome, and, I doubt that any of them have the Jack Bauer ability to resist torture for all that long, is that they don't give in and we get to waterboard Dick Cheney until the end of days (when he gets scooped up in the rapture). While this wouldn't be as fulfilling to the country's soul as the former, it's still a lot of fun to know that those who enacted these awful policies would be on the receiving end of them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Close Guantanamo...Yesterday!

Now that the spineless democrats have joined with their colleagues across the aisle in opposing the immediate closure of Camp X-ray at Guantanamo Bay, it is time for us all to snap out of this political theatrical event and realize that we must close it, and we must close it now. I decided to do my best to sum up some of the arguments against closing Gitmo immediately, coupled with my counter-arguments.

1. They're terrorists!

* Unfortunately for the proponents of this argument, and more unfortunately for many of the captives themselves, they are not all terrorists. For those of you who, unforgivably don't follow the news, there was a messy period during and after the invasion of Afghanistan when the American military was offering cash money for Al Queda or Taliban members (just like Ed McMahon does for gold). Given the extreme poverty found across much of Afghanistan, the presence of corruption, and the disinterest the American military had for fact checking, dozens, if not hundreds of people were literally sold to the invading army and labeled as terrorists. While a good number of them have since been released (some after spending over 6 years in detention without any charges) some of the remaining 250 could well fall into this category. As recently as May 2008, a journalist was finally released after being held since December of 2001. That's right, it took 6 and a half years for the American military to realize that he was not a terrorist.

2. I don't want them in my state!

* Look, let's be reasonable. The men at Gitmo are people who had AK-47s in some patch of scrub land in Afghanistan. That's what got them classified as terrorists, or, "the worst of the worst." They are not super villains with laser beams that shoot from their eyes, or possess super human strength to bend the bars of a pitiful American prison. They are no more likely to escape from an American prison than was Timothy McVeigh or Ted Kaczynski (the unibomber for those of you living in the United States of Amnesia). This fabricated notion that by putting them in American prisons, they'll somehow manage to escape and immediately blow up your precious Wal-Mart is laughable at best, and sad at its worst.

3. Well, maybe they weren't terrorists then but they are now.

* This is by far the most offensive argument made to continue to hold people at camp X-ray. The argument is essentially that we, through our over-zealous policies, have created brand spankin' new terrorists by torturing them and solidifying their hatred of the West, and specifically America. This is where we get to set an example to the future administrations that this will not be tolerated. We have had to eat so many piles of steamy, smelly shit from the previous administrations actions and it is time to say ENOUGH. We cannot continue to cement the position that even though you are warned not to do something due to the possible ramifications, and you do it anyway, that we must then absolve you of the responsibility of ownership of that mess. I believe the old adage must apply to these situations, from the invasion of Iraq to the clustf@#k that has become the detainee situation, and that is "you break it? You buy it." Instead of continuing to hold these people who were not Al Queda or Taliban or any other "terrorist" group member until the day when they will certainly want to seek revenge, we should work with programs like those of the Saudis and try to rehabilitate these young men. If successful, they would become extremely powerful voices on America's behalf in the Islamic world.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Finally...a use for twitter

This morning, like many mornings, I tried to browse over to google news to pass the time, but instead I was smacked with a 503 Server Error. I thought about doing a google search to see what was up, but then I thought, where can I get the most up to date information possible? Twitter! Did a Twitter search and I got hundreds of results of people all over the world discussing, or tweeting, about the fact that Google News was down for many of us.

So while many of us were unable to access our morning dose of news a la Google, many in the twitter community who were still able to access Google News were trying to help out the rest of us by tweeting news stories:

nilsafeeds: Google News: Pope meets Israeli prime minister in Nazareth (Extra) - Monsters and Teleg.. (contract)
half a minute ago from twitterfeed · Reply · View Tweet

nilsafeeds: Google News: Tornadoes kill 3 people in Missouri - The Associated Press: The Associated PressTornado.. (contract)
half a minute ago from twitterfeed · Reply · View Tweet

Finally, here are some tweets that shared my sentiments:

strawberryMae: Why has google news been down for almost 15 minutes now? I need my morning updates!

lundregan: Google news is down! oh boy, I'm surprised I'm not hearing wailing in the background at the office.

simonashton: I keep seeing 503 errors trying to search Google News - is it working for others?

Friday, May 8, 2009

The banned SNL Big 3 bailout sketch

Because NBC refuses to allow this to live on Hulu,, or youtube, I thank DJKonservo for providing this video which is not only hilarious but insightful as well.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

60 Minutes - When did you lose your spine?

I just watched a feature on 60 Minutes about Saudi Arabia's approach to dealing with inmates released from Guantanamo.  While it showed some of the progress being made by the Saudis' attempts to rehabilitate the former Gitmo detainees, the underlying tone of the piece was very hostile and David Martin's questioning seems to completely ignore the fact that many of the detainees that have been guests of Gitmo were sold the Americans by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan with no actual links to terrorism or the Taliban.  Those people were then held in terrible conditions and subjected to torture and other intensive interrogation that would undoubtedly make an inmate harbor angry feelings towards his former captors.  The fact that our detention policies have created angry young men is not a blank check to then throw away the key and we should be doing our best to encourage similar programs to those of the Saudi government's so that these young men can be released and rehabilitated as soon as possible.  The longer we keep them in Guantanamo and abuse them, the more likely they will in fact become terrorists when released.
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