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Current Topic: Politics and Law

Electoral Compass
Topic: Politics and Law 3:17 pm EST, Jan  3, 2008

If you place Obama at coordinates (-5, +10), my own rating is probably around (-3, -1).

Elonka :)

Electoral Compass

Bush attempts to appoint Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court
Topic: Politics and Law 2:27 pm EDT, Oct  3, 2005

Interesting. My first reaction was, "What the hell? He's picked a personal friend with no judicial experience?" But, upon doing more research, I'm warming up to her. She seems to have proponents on both sides of the aisle. And there are even conservatives who *don't* like her, which gives her a bit more credibility in my book. ;)

As for whether or not she's ever been a judge, I don't see that as a problem. Many Supreme Court justices did not have any prior judicial experience. For example, Rehnquist!

One other aspect to the choice: Before I heard about Miers, I'd been reading about how Bush was hinting that he wanted a Hispanic. So I figured he was going to nominate Gonzales. When I heard he'd chosen someone else, I was actually relieved!

Having said all that, I *don't* know a whole lot about Miers yet, and I'm looking forward to learning more. But from the information I've collected thus far, she's looking like a good choice.


Bush attempts to appoint Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court

Mike Lynn's Cisco Case, from his attorney's blog
Topic: Politics and Law 2:24 pm EDT, Aug  5, 2005

Fortunately for Mike, I never got to make it to a judge, because we were able to settle the case within 24 hours.

I *love* the way that Jennifer Granick writes. Complete with bagels, sushi, and her definition of "fun". :)

For those who are coming up to speed on this flap about Mike Lynn and Cisco and ISS and Black Hat, Jennifer's page gives a good summary of (a) what happened; and (b) what's happened since then. It's also just a fun read.

For those who don't want to read everything and just want an even quicker summary, here's my one-paragraph "See Spot Run" explanation:

Fellow Memestreamer Abaddon (Mike Lynn) discovered a security hole in Cisco routers a few months ago. Cisco routers are in use all over the internet, and if the hole would have been exploited, it could have literally "crashed the internet". The hole has since been patched. He got permission to give a talk about the hole at last week's Black Hat security conference. A few days before the conference, the permission was revoked. He decided to quit his job and give the talk anyway. This brought the attention of the world, and *lots* and lots of articles have been written about the situation since. Lots of lawyers also got involved. As things currently stand, Mike has settled things with Cisco and ISS, but FBI "men in suits" showed up right around the same time and started asking questions, and it's unclear as yet as to what the FBI involvement is going to entail. To keep up to speed on that, I recommend re-checking Jennifer Granick's blog each day, since it's been an excellent blow-by-blow. If you're reading it for the first time, I recommend starting with the section at the bottom, and then working your way up to the top. It's a great soap opera. :)

For anyone who wants more information, I recommend:
  (1) A relatively non-technical explanation by Dagmar about the hole
  (2) Rattle's blog, since he's been keeping up-to-date on a lot of the blather in the blogosphere, and has lots of good links that point to different opinion pieces.

Stay tuned,

Elonka :)

Mike Lynn's Cisco Case, from his attorney's blog

Kerry's Yale Grades Similar to Bush's
Topic: Politics and Law 11:50 am EDT, Jun  7, 2005

Sen. John F. Kerry's grade average at Yale University was virtually identical to President Bush's record there, despite repeated portrayals of Kerry as the more intellectual candidate during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Kerry had a cumulative average of 76 and got four Ds his freshman year — in geology, two history courses and political science, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

"I always told my dad that D stood for distinction," Kerry said in a written response to reporters' questions.

LOL! I found this story pretty amusing. Though it immediately makes me wonder: Why now? Why didn't this come out during the campaign?

Kerry's Yale Grades Similar to Bush's

State of the Union 2005
Topic: Politics and Law 1:31 pm EST, Feb  3, 2005

I found the first part of last night's State of the Union a bit dull, but then it really picked up steam. The most memorable moment, of course, was the emotional interaction between two women who had been invited by President Bush: The mother of an American soldier who had been killed, and the daughter of a man who had been assassinated by Saddam Hussein. The daughter still had the purplish ink on her finger, from the historic Iraqi election a few days ago.

In the video stream, it's fun to look over the attendees of the speech, and see how many were wearing purple. Many of the women wore violet or purple dresses, and many men wore purple shirts or ties. Some even had dipped their own fingers in ink (a gesture that I greatly sympathized with).

To get a sense of the high emotion of the evening, I recommend watching the video stream, at least where the President starts talking about Iraq, which is at about the 40-minute mark of the 54-minute speech. He introduces the daughter around the 43-minute mark, and she is clearly emotional as she stands and accepts the ovation. Then the longest applause of the entire speech, was when Bush introduced the soldier's mother a few minutes later, who was sitting right behind the Iraqi daughter. When they spontaneously hugged, I lost it. Even the newscasters got choked up.

Though it's not clearly seen in this video stream, when the two women attempted to separate last night, they got tangled up... The mother had been holding her son's dogtags, which got tangled in the Iraqi daughter's clothing, and all three of them (the soldier's mother, the Iraqi daughter, and the First Lady) worked on untangling things. The accidental symbolism, the messy humanity of the moment, made it that much more emotional for me. Even President and Mrs. Bush looked like they were fighting back tears.

State of the Union 2005

Gonzales Memo
Topic: Politics and Law 4:43 pm EST, Nov 12, 2004

Decius, thanks for finding this.

Anyone else that's closely following the debate about Alberto Gonzales' appointment as Attorney General, where this early 2002 memo is being cited as something that raises questions about him, I encourage you to read the memo for yourself.

I'd been especially interested in reports that Gonzales had referred to the Geneva PoW protocols as "quaint" and "obsolete". Having read the memo itself now, I think that the context in which those words were used made sense:

"...As you [President Bush] have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war. It is not the traditional clash between nations adhering to the laws of war that formed the backdrop for [the Geneva protocols]. The nature of the new war places a high premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians, and the need to try terrorists for war crimes such as wantonly killing civilians. In my [Gonzales'] judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges, scrip (i.e., advances of monthly pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments."

I'm continuing to read about Gonzales and haven't made up my own mind about him yet, but so far he seems to be a relatively moderate choice, with critics and supporters on both sides of the political spectrum. Granted, this memo shows that he disagreed with Colin Powell's office on a particular matter, but the memo also does a pretty good job of laying out both the pro's and con's of a potential decision, along with a reasonably well thought through recommendation on which course of action to take.

Gonzales Memo

Electoral map by county rather then by state
Topic: Politics and Law 6:24 pm EST, Nov  4, 2004

] Using County-by-County election return data from USA
] Today together with County boundary data from the US
] Census' Tiger database we produced the following graphic
] depicting the results. Of course, blue is for the
] democrats, red is for the republicans, and green is for
] all other. Each county's color is a mix of these three
] color components in proportion to the results for that
] county.

Thought-provoking graphic.

Electoral map by county rather then by state

RE: Debate ][
Topic: Politics and Law 2:14 pm EDT, Oct 11, 2004

Decius wrote:
] I'll drop my hat in but I'll bet people are afraid to tackle
] this. Its tough.

I found Friday's debate interesting because it drew more specific distinctions between the candidates on certain issues. On the other hand, it made things more difficult, because I agree so strongly with one candidate on some issues, and with the other candidate on other issues. :/ So, my comments are split here among the different issues, including which candidate I agreed with on each one.

Economy. I agreed with neither. I'll freely admit that economic issues are not my strong point. I've listened to plans from both sides, but have no strong opinion either way on whether one plan or the other is the clear choice.

Healthcare. Kerry. When the subject of prescription drugs came up, Bush's answer nauseated me. Like the issue of whether or not to import drugs from Canada, he gave the party line answer, "First I want to make sure they're safe." Oh give me a f***ing break. Most of those drugs are American drugs that we sold to *them*! Are we trying to say that we shipped unsafe drugs to Canada? That answer was just garbage.

War in Iraq. Bush. I've researched the heck out of this issue, and know it way better than most reporters and columnists who are writing about it. Saddam needed to go. We knew it, the world knew it, every single one of Saddam's neighbors knew it. Even other Islamic governments were calling for him to step down. We'd tried every other method of removing him from power, and nothing had worked. Every indicator said that he was just biding his time, waiting for world scrutiny to go away, and then he was going to rebuild everything. WMDs, weapon programs, everything. Military intervention was necessary. Clinton agreed. I agreed. The only thing most people disagreed on was, not that military intervention was necessary, but the *timing* of it. In other words, most thoughtful people are not so much upset that the war happened, but *when* it happened. But I still support the war, and think Bush had the right idea, and I'm hopeful that at some point more of the behind-the-scenes information will come out to explain why we chose the timing that we did.

War on Terrorism. Bush. This is another one that I've researched the heck out of, and know backwards and forwards. It is not a hypothetical question as to whether or not there are terrorist plots to cause widespread death and destruction. There *are* such plots, and they are actively trying to get one of them through our shields, and it's only through the hard work of our law enforcement personnel, tips from the right sources, and a fair bit of luck, that we've stopped the planned attacks since 9/11. I agree with Bush here, that it's not about waiting to be attacked and then responding, it's about carrying the attack to the enemy, and keeping the war away from our own shores. In a nutshell, on this one issue, I will sleep safe... [ Read More (0.5k in body) ]

RE: Debate ][

Supreme Court: Justices
Topic: Politics and Law 9:08 pm EDT, Sep 23, 2004

Off the top of your head, how many Supreme Court Justices can you name?

Here's a factsheet on all of them, with brief summaries, and then links to longer bios and more information.

Supreme Court: Justices

Topic: Politics and Law 1:03 pm EDT, Apr 29, 2004

] The e-Parliament is the first world institution whose
] members are elected by the people. It links democratic
] members of parliament and congress into a global online
] forum. Through the e-Parliament, legislators can learn
] from each other, monitor international agencies and work
] together to solve common problems.

Interesting concept. An online forum where elected representatives from multiple countries can gather to discuss global issues.


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