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Current Topic: Society

HB 1259 Vetoed!
Topic: Society 3:22 pm EDT, Jun 26, 2006

I just received fairly reliable word that the Georgia Private Investigator Felony Statute has been vetoed by the Governor. Unfortunately I don't have a press link on that, so if anyone out there has a secondary source they can confirm this through, that would be helpful, but it seems like the Governor has heard the message from the technology community and understood the ramifications of this law. Thank you to everyone who communicated with them!


The existing definition of “private detective business,” continued in this bill, in conjunction with the applicable exemptions in the law, fails to exclude from the private investigator licensing requirement many professions that collect information or may be called as expert witnesses in court proceedings. To expand the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony without revision of the existing definitions in the law could result in unintended consequences; I therefore VETO HB1259.

HB 1259 Vetoed!

Intelligence in the Civil War
Topic: Society 8:13 pm EST, Mar 15, 2006

Though much has been written about the Civil War itself, little has been written about the spy war that went on within.

Each side still used age-old intelligence techniques, such as code-breaking, deception, and covert surveillance. However, into this modern war came two innovations that would endure as tools of espionage: wiretapping and overhead reconnaissance.

What follows is a look at some of the highlights of how the North and the South gathered and used their information, the important missions, and the personalities. From this special view, the focus is not on the battlefield, but on a battle of wits.

Intelligence in the Civil War

Rift Between Parties Over NSA Wiretapping Grows
Topic: Society 9:19 am EST, Jan 27, 2006

Bush, whose aides said they consider the issue a clear political winner, is resurrecting tactics from the last campaign to make the NSA spying program a referendum on which party will keep the United States safe from terrorists. He has dispatched top White House officials almost daily to defend the program and has sent a message to party activists that he considers fighting terrorism with tools such as NSA eavesdropping the defining issue of the November elections

Worth reading. Troublesome.

The story here is not whether or not it ought to be authorized but whether or not is was authorized. Almost no one understands this distinction. The Republican talking points are:
1. Its legal.
2. Its needed to defend America.
3. People raising questions about its legality are partisan hacks who don't care about the safety of the American people.

The problem is that its probably not legal. I haven't seen a legal analysis coming from outside the administration that jives with the position of the administration. But the common man is not going to understand subtle Constitutional questions. The Democrats have to fight this fight, because its a basic separation of power issue. They can't just leave it on the floor. However, they are going to loose the political dialog because you really have to think about this in order to understand it, and most people are incapable of doing that, and many who aren't are partisan enough to be unwilling to do it objectively. If the Republicans loose in court they are likely to be able to spin that its another example of judicial activism and the ACLU hates America, etc...

What it really comes down to is the honesty of the Republican Party at large. They are being told, via this message, to tow the line on this. They are trapped in a position where if they disagree on this issue they must risk the support of the party and their political chances in November in order to take a stand. This issue will not fly if enough Republicans take a stand on it, but its going to be a very, very difficult decision for them to make (which is why Rove is putting the above sort of pressure on them).

On the balance is the entire idea of the rule of law. If the President can simply violate the law at will, argue that the court system is biased, and pressure the legislature into towing the line for political reasons, there effectively is no law. Or, in particular, there is no law with regard to minority interests. As long as the President is capable of garnering popular support for something it can be pursued irrespective of the checks and balances in our system.

The Miers nomination demonstrated that the Conservative legal community is capable of fighting the President when it wants to. This is a time and place where it ought to. We'll see if it has the guts. If it doesn't, we'll have slipped quite far down the slope toward an unravelling of the rule of law...

Rift Between Parties Over NSA Wiretapping Grows

One-Third of Iranian Parliament Quits in Protest
Topic: Society 4:56 pm EST, Feb  3, 2004

More than one-third of Iran's Parliament resigned Sunday to protest a sweeping ban on candidates running in the parliamentary election later this month. The defiant move threatened to plunge Iran's political system into chaos.

"We cannot continue to be present in a Parliament that is not capable of defending the rights of the people and that is unable to prevent elections in which the people cannot choose their representatives."

The brother of Iran's reformist president was among those who resigned. He said, "This is the end of the reform movement."

One-Third of Iranian Parliament Quits in Protest

Electronic Voting Machines: Interview with Bev Harris
Topic: Society 11:42 am EDT, Oct  1, 2003

BuzzFlash Interviews -

09.30.03 - BUZZFLASH: Electronic voting machines, including touch-screen voting, have been touted as the salvation of a fair voting process. Your tenacious research over the last year has shown that this idea may be the Trojan Horse of voting machine reform, allowing elections to be stolen more easily than in the past. What are the basic reasons that you argue that electronic voting machines pose a threat to democracy?

BEV HARRIS: Four reasons:


Electronic Voting Machines: Interview with Bev Harris

E-voting given go-ahead despite flaws
Topic: Society 9:06 pm EDT, Sep 25, 2003

Faulty software underpinning a touch-screen voting system used in past US elections has been revamped substantially and will be used by Maryland voters in the next US elections, says a report published by the Governor's Office of Maryland on Wednesday.

But the lead researcher on the original study showing that serious bugs in the software might allow one person to cast many votes, was sceptical.

Avi Rubin at Johns Hopkins University, maintains that by continuing to use the software - the Diebold AccuVote Touch Screen Voting System - American democracy remains jeopardized.

E-voting given go-ahead despite flaws

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