Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Blogaround 

Srping has sprung, and so is the writing at The Liberal Coalition.
  • archy previews the next summer blockbuster.
  • Bark Bark Woof Woof hates the idea of pay-for-performance for teachers.
  • Dave at blogAmY has a question of volume.
  • bloggg has tips on avoiding bird flu.
  • Collective Sigh on the crusading Vatican.
  • Dodecahedron reports on his trip to Philadelphia and his meeting with history.
  • Dohiyi Mir recalls Patrick Henry's call to action.
  • Echidne busts Ben Domenech, the new blogger at the Washington Post, for plagiarism.
  • Here are some gardening tips from the farmer.
  • FDL on the latest attempt at immigration reform.
  • First Draft, picking up on Echidne's thread, explains why it matters, Ben, what you did in college.
  • Happy Furry Puppy on the evil leftist plots to take over the world.
  • iddybud takes down David Brooks.
  • Left Is Right with some Friday Fun Links.
  • Lefty takes on a college paper editorial that argues war is good for you.
  • Liberty Street on Bush's fond memories of the 1950's and '60's.
  • Make Me a Commentator!! and Ann Coulter, the poll-cat.
  • Michael might just vote for a Republican in November.
  • Pen-Elayne found a blog by Geoffrey Chaucer. Forsooth!
  • Rook's Rant replays a relevant piece that he wrote in 2004. It still rings true.
  • rubber hose defines "civil war."
  • Science and Politics has some thoughts on Milosevic.
  • Scrutiny Hooligans is google-bombing Charles Taylor for Congress.
  • Sooner Thought on what Cheney the rock star demands in his hotel suite.
  • Speedkill on the misunderstandings of evolution.
  • Steve Gilliard tells the Washington Post to find another blogger.
  • T. Rex wants to know if you're holy enough to give money to Tom Wells.
  • The Count goes flying.
  • The Invisible Library finds that there's a group that's scarier than queers.
  • Wanda has a new board game.
  • WTF Is It Now?? on Joe Lieberman being caught on tape.
  • The Yellow Doggerel Democrat reports that the Chicks are back.
  • ...You Are a Tree looks back to three years ago.
  • Please make sure your seatbacks and tray tables are in their upright and locked position for take-off.

    Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    A Hero By Any Other Name Is Still A Hero 

    St. Paul Pioneer Press | 03/20/2006 | She saved lives, but don't call her a hero
    The teacher ignored Weise, turned her back to him and, in a swooshing kind of gesture, signaled to the students in the room to take cover behind lab tables while heading through an open door into a nearby office. Some students, aware that some classmates were slow-footed or numbed by the events taking place, ushered or forcibly escorted them into the office.


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    It Is Watergate All Over Again 

    USNews.com: The White House says spying on terrorism suspects without court approval is OK. What about physical searches?

    "Black-bag jobs." Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse says the white paper cited the Gorelick testimony simply to bolster its legal defense of the NSA's electronic surveillance program. Roehrkasse points out that Justice Department lawyers have told Congress that the NSA program "described by the president does not involve physical searches." But John Martin, a former Justice Department attorney who prosecuted the two most important cases involving warrantless searches and surveillance, says the department is sending an unambiguous message to Congress. "They couldn't make it clearer," says Martin, "that they are also making the case for inherent presidential power to conduct warrantless physical searches."

    It could not be learned whether the Bush administration has cited the legal authority to carry out such searches. A former marine, Mueller has waged a quiet, behind-the-scenes battle since 9/11 to protect his special agents from legal jeopardy as a result of aggressive new investigative tactics backed by the White House and the Justice Department, government officials say. During Senate testimony about the NSA surveillance program, however, Gonzales was at pains to avoid answering questions about any warrantless physical surveillance activity that may have been authorized by the Justice Department. On February 6, Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, asked Gonzales whether the NSA spying program includes authority to tap E-mail or postal mail without warrants. "Can you do black-bag jobs?" Leahy asked. Gonzales replied that he was trying to outline for the committee "what the president has authorized, and that is all that he has authorized"--electronic surveillance. Three weeks later, Gonzales amended his answer to Leahy's question, stating that he was addressing only the legal underpinnings for the NSA surveillance program but adding: "I did not and could not address operational aspects of the program, or any other classified intelligence activities." In the past, when Congress has taken up explosive issues that affect the bureau, Mueller has made it a point, officials have said, to leave Washington--and sometimes the country--so as not to get pulled into the political crossfire. When Gonzales testified February 6, Mueller was on his way to Morocco.

    The searches, if they occurred, were anything but deft. Late at night on two occasions, Nelson's colleague Jonathan Norling noticed a heavyset, middle-aged, non-Hispanic white man claiming to be a member of an otherwise all-Hispanic cleaning crew, wearing an apron and a badge and toting a vacuum. But, says Norling, "it was clear the vacuum was not moving." Three months later, the same man, waving a brillo pad, spent some time trying to open Nelson's locked office door, Norling says. Nelson's wife and son, meanwhile, repeatedly called their home security company asking why their alarm system seemed to keep malfunctioning. The company could find no fault with the system.
    Black-bag jobs? What the hell? This is beyond the pale. I do not need any analysis to tell me that this is most assuredly unconstitutional. Impeach the bastard. Impeach the bastard as soon as it is politically possible.

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    Business As Usual 

    Lobbyists Foresee Business As Usual
    Some of Washington's top lobbyists say that they expect to find ways around congressional efforts to impose new restrictions on lobbyists' dealings with lawmakers in the wake of the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal, and that any limits will barely put a dent in the billions of dollars spent to influence legislation.
    This just pisses me off, they are bragging about how they will find ways around laws. This is just pure cockiness, nothing more, nothing less. An attitude of snugness and arrogance. It makes my blood boil.

    Yet somehow, I see it as signaling the end of the K-Street project. With a citizenry already voicing their discontentment with the illegal wiretapping authorized by President Bush, not to mention the lingering bad taste of the lies and manipulation that led to the now obviously illegal invasion of Iraq, for lobbyists to speak this bold and bluntly about the money they are going to spend will only add to that discontentment.

    This is overconfidence. They have been playing freely amongst the legislature for so long they think it is just a way of life. But life never stays the same. And despite their claims, I suspect the Jack Abramoff scandal is the start of their loss of lifestyle.

    "If meals are heavily restricted, we're likely to see executives from the home office picking up checks because they're not lobbyists," added J. Steven Hart of Williams Jensen, a major lobbying firm. "And there are lots of other ways we can still get our cases before members of Congress."
    Ok, so the trick is to make sure the bill specifies what a congressperson can or can not accept. Just about every career that deals in treating people has their ethical standards. Well, so to should the congresspeople of this country, no matter what level, have a set of ethical standards. The onus is on the representatives and senators, not on the lobbyists. That being said, an acceptance of a gift from an executive of a company that has lobbied congress is no better then accepting the gift from a lobbyist.

    The reason lobbyists are so cocky and arrogant is because they know there are congresspeople available for bribery and collusion.

    I wonder what will happen if the Republicans lose big time in the mid-term elections. Will the lobbyists find a new crop of representatives and senators as easily tempted as now appears the current Republicans have been these last 5 plus years? Personally, I believe they will have found life has changed.

    Hat tip: TPM Muckraker

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    Sunday, March 19, 2006

    Turning On A Censure 

    When one party is as unpopular as the president the the Republicans are now, the public is open to hearing things they haven't been willing to hear in a long time. Our polarized electorate suddenly isn't so polarized anymore, even though the gasbags refuse to admit it. For the first time in a long time, some people are willing to give our side a listen. It is vitally important that the Democrats use this opportunity to draw the country back from the hysteria that overtook it after 9/11, an emotional conflagration stoked by an opportunistic administration and a slavering media. That hysteria permitted them to normalize preventive war, torture and kidnapping --- and assert a radical, unconstitutional view of the role of the president in our government, none of which the country signed on to because it was all done in secret. This simply has to stop, and people need to start seeing Democrats stand up and declare "enough is enough."
    I think Digby is right, Feingold is doing the correct thing and exposing the weakness of the Republican party's overall political direction. Also, despite my complete and utter dislike of the man Bill Kristol makes a good point:
    This is smart for the Democratic Party. It is going straight at a strength of president Bush. You don't get into politics only to play at issues where you already have public opinion on your side. He's trying to change public opinion. I disagree with it, and I hope he doesn't succeed, but he's making the case that it's illegal, he's going to have editorial pages backing him up, and the Republicans are just whining that "oooh he's just trying to censure the president." They aren't making a substantive defense of the program.
    The Republican party isn't making a substantive defense of the program because they can't. There is no need for the Democrats, or Feingold, to make a case that the wiretapping is illegal because that has already been established. And not just in the court of public opinion. The Republican party admitted as much itself when offering a law to make the wiretapping legal retro-actively. Trying to pass a law to make something legal indicates it's illegality, right? At least, it is in my way of thinking. But hey, that's just me.

    Cross Posted at Rooks' Rant and T. Rex's Guide.

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    A Work Around 

    Ok, I wasn't able to find any type of extension for FireFox, or a plugin for Movable Type to facilitate uploading files while using Performancing. However, I did figure out how to put a link to the upload function of my Movable Type installation in the FireFox toolbar. So, all I do is center click on the link and I have my upload page handy.

    While I was at it, I did install the Better File Uploader plugin so I had better ease at uploading.

    Trying Performancing Again 

    Ok, I am now checking out the latest version of Performancing, which is an extension for FireFox. Already I can see that it has been improved upon since I used it last time several months ago. So, hopefully some of it's bugs were worked out. I will let you know.
    Now, one of the other problems Performancing had was in the was it handled the code for blockquotes. For some reason, it did not do well in the WYSIWYG mode. I found it hard to actually shut of the blockquote, which required me to go to the code editing mode and make shut it down manually.
    And I see it still has the habit of putting the closing tag for blockquotes two lines down past the end of the actual quote. Not cool. Oh well.

    Now, the other issue was it's inability to post to blogger. I constantly had an issue with Atom, which was the reason I ended up dumping Performancing. So, this is also going to be cross posted over at The Liberal Coalition. Or, if you are currently reading this at The LC, then obviously you know that this is also posted at Rook's Rant.

    Of course, the one aspect missing is the ability to upload a file from Performancing. But, I bet there is an extension that might allow me to be able to do that with just a right click of the mouse. I will have to do a more thorough search of the FireFox extension page.