ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, January 27, 2006

Algore "Bushes" Harper

Gore accuses big oil of bankrolling Tories
Election laws only allow $1,000 corporate donations

Renata D'Aliesio and Katherine Monk, Calgary Herald; CanWest News Service

Published: Thursday, January 26, 2006

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has accused the oil industry of financially backing the Tories and their "ultra-conservative leader" to protect its stake in Alberta's lucrative oilsands.

Canadians, Gore said, should vigilantly keep watch over prime minister-designate Stephen Harper because he has a pro-oil agenda and wants to pull out of the Kyoto accord -- an international agreement to combat climate change.

"The election in Canada was partly about the tar sands projects in Alberta," Gore said Wednesday while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

"And the financial interests behind the tar sands project poured a lot of money and support behind an ultra-conservative leader in order to win the election . . . and to protect their interests."

Darcie Park, spokeswoman for oilsands giant Suncor Energy, said she's taken aback by Gore's remarks and hopes they don't resonate with Canadians.

"Our company just doesn't do business that way. We're really puzzled about where these comments came from," she said.

"Canadians understand how elections work in Canada and understand there are these very tight restrictions around what individuals and companies can contribute to individual parties or campaigns."

The federal Elections Act limits how much money individuals, corporations and unions can donate to political parties. Individuals are allowed to give as much as $5,000 a year, while companies and unions are capped at $1,000 a year.

In their election platform, the Conservatives promised to further limit individual donations to a maximum of $1,000 and ban all donations from corporations, unions and organizations.

Parties and candidates are required to make public any contributions exceeding $200.

While John Bennett, senior policy adviser for Sierra Club of Canada, isn't certain of how much oil companies and their executives donate to the Conservatives, he's noticed their language on Kyoto is similar.

"They've talked about the need for a made-in-Canada plan, which is exactly the terminology Stephen Harper used," Bennett said. "They've talked about targets for Kyoto being unreachable -- that's similar."

Gore warned that Harper wants to remove Canada from the Kyoto accord, which the United States signed under former president Bill Clinton, but has refused to ratify under President George W. Bush.

"Hopefully that will not happen thanks to the minority victory," Gore said of Canada's involvement in Kyoto.

Gore believes the issue of the oilsands and the sway he contends the industry holds with Harper didn't garner news coverage during the election because "media concentration has taken a toll on democratic principles around the world, and Canada is no exception."

Even if the Conservatives want to abandon Kyoto, Bennett doesn't think they will pull out because polls have shown a majority of Canadians support the agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions, which are widely believed to contribute to global warming.

He expects, however, Harper will make little effort to fulfil the country's Kyoto commitment: Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990's mark by 2012. He also predicts the Tories will halt Liberal plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from large industries, such as oil firms.

"They changed the messaging, but they haven't changed their opinion," Bennett said.

"I see them moving a lot closer to the Bush government. Talk a lot, but do nothing."

rd'aliesio@theherald.canwest.com

"The election in Canada was partly about the tar sands projects in Alberta," said former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.
Photograph by : Herald Archive, Associated Press
© The Calgary Herald 2006




With foes like Algore, who needs friends? The ink is not even dry on the election tabulations from Canada and Algore does to the new PM what he does so often to his own president. Harper is in the pocket of the oil companies and is ultra conservative.

Al, old boy, the dog don't hunt, and the Canadians are not half as stupid as you think they are.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Monterey John

Republicans in the Senate Finally Act Like They Are the Majority

Well... The Republicans in the Senate have called the Democrats bluff. There will be an up or down vote on Alito on Tuesday. It's about time and I hope we see more of this in the future.

The Democrats have a lot of egg on their face after the confirmation hearings. Senator Byrd (D-WVa) took them to the woodshed yesterday (no idea what was in his Wheaties). But he really nailed it. The Democratic performance has been disgraceful and Alito is a good man and a fine judge.

Anyway, nice to see majortiy rule has broken out in the U.S. Senate.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

The Palestinian Election - The End of the Neo-Con Experiment?

The idea, as I understand it, was that if "democracy" broke out in the Mid-East that a new era of peace and prosperity would emerge in the region and thus our national security situation would improve.

Well, how is that working out for us?

In Iraq we have a parliament dominated by Islamists of a distinctly Iranian flavor even as we are heading into a showdown with Iran. In Afghanistan things seem to be going somewhat better. In Palestine? Disaster.

The argument is emerging that democracy is not an end-result but rather a method. It is a method for the thinking of the voters to be reflected in their government. I guess we now know what the people of Palestine think.

History teaches us that the German people elected Hitler. Something similar seems to be going on in the MidEast. The truth is, what the people of the region think, and the reflection of that thinking in the governments they elect, does not necessarily represent an improvement in our national security. It seems the folks "out there" do not care a bit about what we think and want.

The MidEast is not the only place where we are seeing this sort of thing emerge. Bolivia is a recent example. Before that Venezuela elected a government distinctly hostile to our national interests.

I fear that at some point in time we are going to have to do something about these democratically elected governments.

I think we need to do some serious re-evaluating here.

It is too early to say the project has failed, Iraq may yet be a success, but not necessarily because it has a democratic system. That example, assuming it "succeeds," i.e. our national security is improved, may spread in the region. Then again it may not.

If there were democratic elections in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Sudan today, would we be in a better or worse position?

I wish there was a serious discussion of this in our body politic. What we get is politically driven gotcha games on the Left and head-in-the-sand stubborness on the Right. Someone needs to ask the questions, and I hope they do it soon.

President Bush had it right yesterday, the election in Palestine was "interesting."

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Increased Penalty" is Still Shorter Than the Crime

I'm glad O'Reilly finally got off his keister and hit the Judge Edward Cashman situation. When I commented on the story a few weeks ago, O'Reilly was doing 24x7 analysis of his appearance on Lettermand - despite the fact that he's been talking about Jessica's law for quite some time. (I was actually surprised that this news of Cashman's ruling didn't reach him until at least a week later.)

Anyway, it seems that Cashman is now trying to placate his critics - which I think includes almost everyone except the editorial boards of the Vermont newspapers and many of the those from the "crime has two victims: the real victim and the one who committed the crime" Left. He's apparently revisited the punishment, in light of the state's willingess to give the psychopath treatment while in prison:

BURLINGTON, Vt.

A judge who was widely vilified after he sentencing a man to 60 days in jail for sexually abusing a child said Thursday he would increase that sentence to at least three years.

The judge said he felt he could impose the longer sentence now because the state had agreed to provide treatment to the man while he is behind bars. Originally, the state had said such treatment would not come until time was served.

Well, in my opinion, Cashman is still deficient... the little twerp is only going to serve 3 years behind bars... Can we all at least agree that the punishment should at least last as long as the crime did? In this case, the pedophile - yes, that's what he is, although you'll never hear him called that in the press - raped a 7 year old for 4 years.

While it's great that Cashman has upped the penalty, it's nowhere near what it should be. In addition the the 4 years of hell for the poor little girl, it is likely that she will be traumatized for the rest of her life.

As I pointed out in my original post on the subject, Cashman seems to have a soft spot for drunken drivers and pedophiles. Ahh, the freedom of the fresh, Vermont air... where a man can drive drunk and rape a child for 4 years - and only get a slap on the wrist!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The Joys of Travel - Part 2

USA Today...

this piece of cr@p appears at your door to your hotel room every morning, uninvited and somehow unashamed. Here's some interesting tidbits from this waste of pulp on Wedneday, January 25th:



Front Page - 1A
"Mideast Democracy boosts Islamists"
translation:
Muslims are incapable of secular democracy so we must abandon Chimpy McBushitler's Quixotic enterprise

Evidence? Hamas in Palestine!!! (Who'da thunk it, eh?)

Egypt has 88 MPs that are affiliated in some way with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood - of 444 seats in parliament

Iraq - Shiites hold a majority (Whether those Shiites will impose an Iranian style theocracy & sharia law is not discussed, but we assume that they will be unable to resist the urge.)

Fortunately, they do provide some space for rational arguments from Daniel Pipes (as a counterweight) on their editorial page. The title, "Don't deal with terrorists" pretty much sums up the US position on allowing Hamas to participate in the PA election. Of course, since the PA couldn't be construed to be a model of Jeffersonian democracy, they don't exactly have any problem with Hamas.



Front Page (1A), again:
"RX Plan failing to help neediest"
because "Low-income seniors are slow to sign up". In the story we learn that only 1 in 3 of those eligible to get prescription drugs for a $5 co-pay (no premiums, no deductible) will actually sign up. But wait, it seems that they'll get the plan, whether they take the steps to enroll or not:
Gary Karr, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says the program likely is reaching more low-income people. “There are going to be people who are in the program who haven't applied for the low-income subsidy,” he says.

Another 6.2 million low-income Americans were automatically enrolled because they had received prescription drugs through Medicaid.
[...]
The low-income subsidy is available to individuals with annual incomes below about $15,000 and assets below about $11,500, not including their homes. Many will pay no premiums or deductibles, and no more than $2 monthly for each generic drug and $5 for each brand-name drug.

Last year, the Social Security Administration sent letters to about 19 million people advising them of the subsidy, then followed up with 65,000 public events. To date, 1.2 million people have qualified for the subsidy: Those who don't sign up with an insurance plan will be automatically enrolled in May.
So, what was the problem here again?



followed by page 4A:
"Bush considering Tax Cuts for Health Care"

So, Bush wants to make it more affordable for people to buy healthcare by not taxing the money the use to buy healthcare in the first place. Surely USA Today and the Dems (is there any difference?) would approve of this - making it more affordable to buy healthcare? I like the idea, especially the expansion of the Health Care Savings Accounts (which I'm a big fan of). Ted Kennedy (objective observer as always) doesn't seem to agree.



From "The Forum" (page 11A), an article by Tony Mauro
"Will Alito fill conservative voide that O'Connor did not?"

[...]
O'Connor's brand of pragmatic decision-making frustrated conservatives because it often led to centrist or liberal results — and not just in the area of religion, abortion rights and affirmative action. On Monday, in a little-noticed bankruptcy law decision that might have been the last case she participated in, O'Connor's deciding vote for a 5-4 majority deprived conservatives of a victory for state power. She hated being described as the court's swing vote, but she was — and now, conservatives feel they are entitled to more predictability.
No, it's not just the results that ticked of conservatives (actually, "originalists" or "strict constructionists"), it was her willingness to insert her "pragmatic" opinions into the heart of Constitutional law. This was most egregiously on display in her written opinion for the majority in the Univ of Michigan law school case, where she found that Affirmative Action and discrimination on the basis of skin color was okay "for a generation or so." This pragmatism may be a fine quality in a legislator, but it is frightening in a judge. The last I checked, our rights did not have expiration dates on them or "time out periods" in which they will be set aside in favor of discriminatory practices for some worthy (in the eyes of the judge) result.

They may or may not get that predictability from Alito. O'Connor's pragmatism was forged in her days as an Arizona legislator, where give and take are necessary. Alito never stood for election in his professional life; before he joined an appeals court 15 years ago, Alito has only been a government lawyer, serving mainly in advocacy positions for the Reagan and the first Bush Justice Department. Will he be the reliable conservative that O'Connor never was?

Apparently, serving as an attorney and Federal appellate court judge for 15 years makes one less qualified than serving for 2 years on the Arizona STATE Appeals court and as a state legislator in the eyes of Mr. Mauro.
[...]
So, as she prepares to leave the court, O'Connor leaves an undeniably powerful legacy behind. How Alito assesses her record, and how much weight he gives it as he prepares to start his sober duties, will say a lot about what kind of successor he turns out to be.

Last I checked, the seats that the justices sit in didn't have their name for life (ie the O'Connor seat). Once she's gone, Alito will have zero - zero - obligation to give any weight to her "legacy." It's his responsibility to rule on the law - not based on WWOD? (What Would O'Connor Do?)

Holy cow.... I'm not an attorney and I have a clearer grasp of the role of the judiciary than this guy.



And finally, this article on Ford's job cuts (page 5B)

"Explorer's future seems up in the air"
The interesting thing in this article is that the local union president calls for tax breaks for Ford:
[Rocky] Comito [, president of UAW local 862 in Louisville,] hopes to persuade Ford to stay and is asking local government to chip in with tax rebates. “I'm talking to anyone who will listen,” he says.

I'm sure he was against tax breaks for corporations before he was for them.

As you can imagine, tax breaks offered to Ford to keep plants churning out vehicles that no one wants isn't going to fix the problem. The article is riddled with hard facts about the Ford Explorer and Ford's inability to grasp the seriousness of the problem:
And buyers increasingly are turning to so-called crossovers, which offer SUV convenience but a carlike ride. Explorer is a traditional truck-based SUV.

Sales of Explorer, redesigned for the 2006 model year, were down 29.3% in 2005, while overall sales of SUVs — including crossovers — were down just 2.
[...]
The decline in SUV sales is only one of the problems facing Ford, but it's a big hurdle. Brian Johnson, the Sanford Bernstein analyst who estimates that Explorer accounted for a third of Ford's profit in late 1999, says profits from Explorer have been cut in half since sales started falling.

Explorer sales did particularly poorly in December, falling 22% compared with the year before, even though critics have generally gushed over the redesigned version, which was available throughout that month.

Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for Power Information Network, says Ford increased the price of the 2006 model by nearly $3,000 in the fall, which is not an unusual move for an automaker launching a redesigned vehicle.

But he thinks consumers haven't been impressed by the exterior, which looks almost exactly the same as the old model. “Most of the changes are not visible,” he says. “Even though the vehicle may, indeed, have many changes that are invisible, what the customers see looks similar to the prior model. They sort of work against themselves.”

Fields says Ford needs to do a better job promoting the Explorer. “We have to get a stronger message behind that,” he says.

So, let me get this straight... you come out with a "new" model that looks on the exterior exactly like the old Ford Explorer (which hasn't really been updated since ARC:Brian bought his back in the 90s ) and increased the sticker price by $3k?

And your solution to the problem is that you "need to do a better job promoting the Explorer?" Oh my God... it's unbelievable how far a little denial will take you.

Given this management insight, I'd say there's still an opportunity to short Ford here... It took them how long to finally cut the cord on the Taurus - after similarly mind-numbing "re-designs"?

Oh, the one good article in the paper? This one, on multi-function gadgets. Any article with a reference to a TRS-80 (aka Trash 80) is for me. (And I whole-heartedly agree with his take - give me a single purpose device that does something exceptionally well over a multi-function device that's poor at doing everything.)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

A Humorous Look at Google Searches

Jon(athan) Swift offers to the Justice Department the following explanations of some of his searches:

As you can see there are innocent explanations for all of them:

paris hilton video - I was planning a vacation and looking for a video
travelogue about hotels in Paris.

nude teens - This was a typo. I was looking for "rude teens" to research a
piece on the decline of manners in American young people, which is a very big
problem.

growing marijuana - I was researching the problem of growing marijuana use
in the U.S. I must have left off the word "use."

escorts - I was doing research on buying a Ford.

viagra - This was for a tribute I was writing on Bob Dole.

download free music - Of course I support copyright laws and was doing
research on the criminals who break them.

google earth dick cheney's house - I have always been curious about where
our Vice President stays when he is not in hiding. That's all. It was nothing
more than curiosity. I don't think this search was ultimately successful,
anyway.

olsen twins - Who doesn't like the Olsen twins and their fine family
movies?

loofah sponges - I don't remember why I was searching for this.

jon swift is a hunk-"Did not match any documents" Sigh.

gay porn - I honestly don't know how this got on my list of searches. I
think someone was using my computer and I aim to find out who it was.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

oogily googlely

Nothing like blogging from an airport bar while waiting for your flight that's been delayed by 2 1/2 THREE hours. I hold American Airlines personally to blame, and if they had any profits whatsoever, I'd probably sue their keisters for the damage to family life, my cholesterol level (mmm, bacon cheddar cheeseburger), and for the incremental liver damage (mmm, Samuel Adams....)

but, I digress...

It seems that Jonah has commented on the Google "controversy" which has been the subject of a few posts here.

Robert Kuttner, writing about a different controversy in the Boston Globe, shows serious symptoms of the affliction when he writes, "Google plus Dick Cheney is a recipe for undoing the liberties for which the original patriots of the American Revolution bled and died."

On the narrow point about Dick Cheney, this is all a bunch of nonsense. The Department of Justice is in a lawsuit with the ACLU over the Child Online Protection Act, which is designed to help prevent kids from being exposed to online porn. The law ran afoul of the First Amendment, according to a lower court, and the Supreme Court asked for additional information pending its final decision on the matter. The Department of Justice asked Google, as well as MSN, Yahoo!, and Time Warner (AOL's parent), to provide data on their search engines from a one-week period. (The Associated Press scarily refers to the request as a "White House subpoena," as if the White House could actually issue subpoenas.) No personal information was asked for and none has been given. Everyone but Google complied, because there's really no reason not to. Google, however, sees itself in a very idealistic light and has decided to stand on principle against the government, prompting huzzahs from all the predictable sources.

But the same crowd celebrating Google's decision has generally been quiet about, for example, public health surveys that ask doctors to report all sorts of really private information (anonymous, of course) for epidemiological purposes. If you're going to consider it a grotesque infringement on personal liberty for the government to find out that some anonymous person Google-searched "lesbian love goats," you'd think you'd also be upset by the National Institutes of Health cataloging how many people fitting your description have had prostate exams in the last year. The intrusion is at least as serious, but because no one imagines that Dick Cheney cares about your prostate — yet! — the First Amendment thumpers don't offer a peep.
[...]
Technology brings change and requires adaptation — by the state and the individual alike. It's not obvious how we should view Google searches, for example. Are they like letters or diary entries or something else entirely? It's revealing that no sane person would condone local libraries giving stacks of hardcore porn to little kids. But some Internet voluptuaries see nothing wrong with pretty much the exact same thing over the web.

This is a subject worth arguing about. But it's difficult to take people seriously when their core argument is, "If Dick Cheney's for it, I'm against it."

And I think this argument is valid. Those that champion Google's refusal to provide this information have not said word one about Google's obsequiousness regarding the requirement by the real big brother state in China requiring it to restrict freedom of information to its users. It's almost as if the "do no evil" twerps are actually doing evil in China and championing their own refusal to stop evil in the US. (And, this blog is hosted on google... )

Fight the power, indeed.

But back to the issue at hand.... those that are cheering Google are also the very same groups that declare that there's a right for individuals to view pornography in a public library... I don't know about the libraries in NYC, but the libraries in my neighborhood have a heck of a lot of children and influencable youth - and I think it's wholly appropriate for local jurisdictions to decide what sexual content is available for viewing at the local library.

Ultimately, the reporting on the oogily googlely issue have been disingenous: characterizing it as Big Brother watching every touch of the keyboard as you visit Google. It's obvious that bald-faced partisanship is the reason for this - either that or the term "journalist" really doesn't apply anymore. It's understandable that this ridiculous and breathless reporting - when taken at face value - would cause many on both sides of the aisle to scream bloody murder. While some on the Right would choose to run to the hills of Montana with their shotguns and escape "the net," those on the Left sit down to make their papier mache dollheads of Bush/Cheney/Hitler, all the while calling for more Federal involvement in our healthcare. Me, I'm still waiting for the "subpoena" from Chimpy W. McBushitler. Apparenlty the MSM sees the FBI and the Justice Dept as just another neocon (aka Rovian) Conspiracy. So much for "context" and "facts." (Scare quotes intended.)

This whole story reminds me of the reporting on another, related issue... If you just read the headline and take the "reporters" take at face value, you're likely not informed. Or perhaps you're just Oliver Willis (who, frankly, cannot go a single day without making a post that has some logical fallacy that is just astounding).

Oh, and check out this great post from our good friend, Jim Hoft aka Gateway Pundit. It seems that the Dems were for supporting the WOT before they were against it. (And they wonder why the public doesn't take them seriously?)

By the way, Another Rovian Conspiracy is looking for someone with somewhat decent skills in Flash. We've put together a concept for an ad that we'd like to run on this site and the rest of the blogosphere. However, we don't have the experience with flash - nor the software package..... or the artistic abilities, frankly.

Heck, I'd pay to have this ad developed. Anyone interested, who can demonstrate their bona fides as being sympatico with the Rovian conspiracy (don't worry, there's only one goat involved), just send an email to rovianconspiracy - at - charter . net. (To the perennially unemployed Eric Blumrich - no need to apply)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Gasp! Scalia Presenter at Seminar! Plays TENNIS!

I am shocked and appalled!

Jack Abramoff "once worked" at one of the firms that was there! Oh me oh my! The horror, the horror! What if the hospital at which he was born had been there? Perhaps somebody from the LAW SCHOOL he attended!

What a crock.


From the ever vigilant folks at ABC (H/T to Drudge):


Jan. 23, 2006 — At the historic swearing-in of John Roberts as the
17th chief justice of the United States last September, every member of the
Supreme Court, except Antonin Scalia, was in attendance. ABC News has learned
that Scalia instead was on the tennis court at one of the country's top resorts,
the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bachelor Gulch, Colo., during a trip to a legal seminar sponsored by the Federalist Society. Not only did Scalia's absence appear to be a snub of the new chief justice, but according to some legal ethics experts, it also raised questions about the propriety of what critics call judicial junkets.
Related: ABC News Investigations:
Complete Coverage

Supreme Court
EXCLUSIVE: Supreme Ethics Problem?
"It's unfortunate of course that what kept him from the swearing-in was an activity that is itself of dubious ethical propriety," said Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, who is a recognized scholar on legal ethics.

Scalia Mum
Scalia spent two nights at the luxury resort lecturing at the legal seminar where ABC News also found him on the tennis court, heading out for a fly-fishing expedition, and socializing with members of the Federalist Society, the conservative activist group that paid for the expenses of his trip.
At a press conference, almost two weeks later, Scalia was not inclined to tell reporters his whereabouts during Roberts' swearing-in."I was out of town with a commitment that I could not break, and that's what the public information office told you," he said. It "doesn't matter what it was. It was
a commitment that I couldn't break," Scalia continued when questioned
further.


According to the event's invitation, obtained by ABC News, the
Federalist Society promised members who attended the seminar an exclusive and
"rare opportunity to spend time, both socially and intellectually" with
Scalia. "I think Justice Scalia should not have gone on that trip for several reasons," Gillers commented. "They are a group with a decided political-slash-judicial profile."
One night at the resort, Scalia attended a cocktail reception, sponsored in part by the same lobbying and law firm where convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff once worked.
"You know a lot of people would be embarrassed at that. I don't think Antonin Scalia will be embarrassed," Gillers continue.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Harper!

If what I saw last night is what we can expect from the new Canadian government, I think we are in for some postive developments in the near future.

Not since Joe Clark have I sensed such determination, inspiration, eloquence, decency and competence. This guy oozes the things I want to see in a leader. I do believe Prime Minister Harper is going to be a breath of fresh air.

Hopefully Harper's term in office will be a bit longer than Clark's was. Clark only lasted a year. But he went on to be their foreign affairs minister and was the face we saw here in the U.S. during the Reagan years which were also years of conservative rule in Canada.

Hurrah for our friends to the north!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Monday, January 23, 2006

Another Victory for the Blogosphere

First Dan Rather...

Now the Canadian government:

Harper wins Tory minority government
Last Updated Mon, 23 Jan 2006 23:11:38 EST
CBC News

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper will become Canada's next prime minister, as Canadians have elected a Tory minority government and ended a 12-year reign of Liberal rule.

Nationwide, the Tories are currently leading or elected in 122 ridings, the Liberals in 104, the Bloc in 50 and 30 for the NDP.

The Tories appeared to make significant gains in Ontario and Quebec, leading or elected in at least two dozen seats in Central Canada.

The NDP also made major gains, up 11 from the 2004 vote.

In Quebec, where they were shut out in 2004, the Tories made major inroads, leading or elected in 10 ridings, eight from the Bloc and two from the Liberals.
At least, that's how I'm going to spin it.

Is there any doubt that without Captain Ed breaking the idiotic publishing ban regarding the Adscam scandal in Canada that Paul Martin wouldn't be crying tonight?

So, let's see... the right-side of the blogosphere has taken down one of the legendary broadcasters in the MSM and helped nudge the Liberal government in Canada out of power.... and the left-side of the blogosphere? All they have is a bunch of papier-mache Bush & Cheney dolls... and John Kerry posting on DailyKos and Howard Dean & OBL stealing their talking points. How pathetic...

And while the Left cheered at the election of a "Leftist" (who is better described as a drug kingpin), asking "Can we finally call it a trend?" - there's no word from them on the "trend" up north.


See Captain Ed
and Michelle Malkin for election liveblogging.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Stern & "The Man"

This is the third week in a row that I'm posting from the Blue Metropolis - and I apologize for the light posting. The schedule has been relentless. Thanks to my co-conspirators for keeping things lively.

I saw this article in today's NYPost:

CURSES FOILED AGAIN FOR STERN
By DON KAPLAN

Howard Stern may be coming down with a Sirius case of the bleeps.

High-level executives of the satellite broadcaster are developing an internal standards-and-practices document that will set boundaries for Stern and other shock jocks, The Post has learned.

“It’s something that’s being taken very seriously," a Sirius source said.

Stern's new show also is being broadcast on a time-delay, giving him the opportunity to censor the program — which he already has done.

Stern moved to Sirius in part because satellite-radio services such as Sirius and XM — unlike free terrestrial radio — are not policed by the FCC, which spent years waging an indecency war against him.

The battle resulted in big-bucks fines against Stern and his former employers at Viacom.

XM, which is now home to shock jocks Opie and Anthony, confirmed that it has had its own guidelines in place for some time, but declined to provide details.

The standards of the private satellite broadcasters can be far looser than those imposed by the FCC on the public airways.

Sirius' move toward self-censorship comes as pressure continues to mount in Congress to regulate programming on cable and satellite radio and TV.

For years, cable executives have resisted government threats of regulation, claiming that self-policing has been sufficient.

It's a move satellite radio seems to be getting ready to emulate.
[...]

I've commented to many of my friends prior to Stern's move to Sirius that many people will lose interest in the show. Stern's success has been one created by the environment in which he operates - a over the top personality in a buttoned-up and censored world. Listener's attraction to the show was appropriately described in Stern's own movie, Private Parts - People who like the show listen because they want to hear what he's going to say next. People who hate the show listen because they want to hear what he's going to say next.

Well, this was entirely the result of the FCC's imposition of standards on the public's air waves. Most of the funny quotes from Private Parts on IMDB are related to Stern's stretching the limits of those very standards. Stern's last 4 years have been nothing but him complaining about the station and the FCC stifling his creative abilities.

Like the class clow in high school that makes a farting noise with his armpit while the teacher's back is turned, he quickly finds out that such humor is not that humorous without the teacher being present. The same applies to Stern. It's good to see that Sirius - less than 30 days after Stern's debut - recognizes this and has set itself up as "the Man" oppressing Stern's creativity. Stern will do fine (as the deal he signed with Sirius guarantees him financial success). But, the ad revenues that Sirius expects may not materialize, as demonstrated with the cut rate prices that Sirius is charging (compared to Stern's previous rates). Without that tension, it's just a juvenile making farting noises and talking about lesbians.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, January 22, 2006

When George Didn't Meet Jack

Time has a new story titled "When George Met Jack" about the supposed ties between Abramoff and George W. Bush. The second paragraph looks damning:

The President's memory may soon be unhappily refreshed. TIME has seen five photographs of Abramoff and the President that suggest a level of contact between them that Bush's aides have downplayed. While TIME's source refused to provide the pictures for publication, they are likely to see the light of day eventually because celebrity tabloids are on the prowl for them. And that has been a fear of the Bush team's for the past several months: that a picture of the President with the admitted felon could become the iconic image of direct presidential involvement in a burgeoning corruption scandal—like the shots of President Bill Clinton at White House coffees for campaign contributors in the mid-1990s.

Wow, uh-oh. George and Jack must have been regular pals then, huh? Practically called him on every move he made? The White House described it as nothing big.

Peppered for days with questions about Abramoff's visits to the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan said the now disgraced lobbyist had attended two huge holiday receptions and a few "staff-level meetings" that were not worth describing further.


Big discrepancy. So what are the facts? Reading the next few paragraphs and we see that its exactly as the White House described

In one shot that TIME saw, Bush appears with Abramoff, several unidentified people and Raul Garza Sr., a Texan Abramoff represented who was then chairman of the Kickapoo Indians, which owned a casino in southern Texas. Garza, who is wearing jeans and a bolo tie in the picture, told TIME that Bush greeted him as "Jefe," or "chief" in Spanish. Another photo shows Bush shaking hands with Abramoff in front of a window and a blue drape. The shot bears Bush's signature, perhaps made by a machine. Three other photos are of Bush, Abramoff and, in each view, one of the lobbyist's sons (three of his five children are boys). A sixth picture shows several Abramoff children with Bush and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who is now pushing to tighten lobbying laws after declining to do so last year when the scandal was in its early stages.

So Bush shook hands with Abramoff (probably at a large gathering), had his picture taken with his kids, might have had it signed by a machine, and addressed a Texan wearing a bolo tie as "Jefe." Yep, thats it, Bush is really letting Abramoff calling the shots, and in fact is such a submissive nature that he's forced to address a casino owner as "chief". Start the impeachment hearings!

What is the news here? This is a smear job to try and tie the President with Abramoff. Why? Because all bad politics must tie back to the President in the BDS world of the left.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

A Techy View of the Google Bruhaha

Google Subpoena is the tip of the iceberg

Submitted by brad on Thu, 2006-01-19 21:52. Privacy


Google is currently fighting a subpoena from the DoJ for their search
logs.
The DoJ experts in the COPA online porn case want to mine Google’s
logs, not for
anybody’s data in particular, but because they are such a
great repository of
statistics on internet activity. Google is fighting hard
as they should. Apparently several Google competitors caved in.


These logs are a treasure trove of information, just as the DoJ experts
say they are. No wonder they want them. They are particularly valuable to
Google, of course, so much so that they have resisted all calls to wipe them or
anonymize them. In fact, Google has built a fancy system with its own custom
computer language to do massively parallel computing to let it gather statistics
from this giant pool of
data.

The DoJ and the companies that didn’t fight the order insist there is
no
personally identifiable information in these logs, but that’s certainly not
true of the source logs. Even if you remove the Google account cookie that
is
now sent with most people’s queries, the IP address is recorded. I have a
static
IP address myself on my DSL. It’s always the same, and so it would be
easy to
extract all my searches, which include some pretty confidential
stuff, things
like me entering the names of medicines I have been
prescribed. (It even
includes me searching for “Kiddie Porn” because I
wanted to see if any adwords
would be presented on such a search. (There
were not, in case you are wondering.)
Yahoo and MSN state the IP address and
other information was stripped from what
they handed over.


Static IPs are the norm for corporations and more savvy internet users,
but while most DSL and cable users have a dynamic IP, it isn’t really very
dynamic. If you have a home gateway box or computer that is on all the time, it
changes very infrequently, in some cases, never. All your activity can be linked
back to you through that address. Only dial-up users can expect any anonymity
from their dynamic IP, and even then ISPs keep logs for some period of time
which connect dynamic IPs and accounts.


But there is something far more frightening about this collection of
data. I hope Google wins its fight over this data, because the DoJ really has no
business forcing a private company to help them with their statistics
problems.
But what about when a subpoena comes about an individual? Imagine
you are under investigation for something, or just in a frivolous lawsuit or
even a messy divorce. You can bet lawyers are going to want to say, for those
with mostly-static IPs, “I want the search records for this IP, or this cookie.”
And it’s going to be a lot harder for search engines to turn down those
requests, because they will be specific and
will relate to the data the
search companies are holding on all of us.

One way to hold the lawyers back will be to make it expensive. But how long
will it
remain expensive? After a few requests, the software to pull the
records will
exist, and it will not be possible to claim it’s more expensive
than the data
mining Google already does for itself, to improve its own
business.
Now, before it seems like I am ragging on Google here, let’s not
forget that Google’s
competition — AOL, Yahoo and MSN — hasn’t been even so
good as to fight this
first salvo. Yahoo has a whole department to comply
with legal requests for
their records, and famously handed over the ID of a
journalist who sent an
E-mail that has landed him in a Chinese jail. When it
comes to intent, Google
has indeed been the “do the least evil” company
here.

But with court orders, intent matters not. This pool of data is an
“attractive nuisance.” In the end, I think Google will realize it has to start
anonymizing this data to the point that it can respond to requests with “we
don’t have that information.” Doing so will erase information that can be
valuable to Google’s business. It will come at a cost to them. Worse, the cost
can’t be predicted because they will lose the
ability to learn new things
they haven’t even realized they want to learn about
how people use their
tools. But in the end, it’s the only choice, both to keep
their subpoena
costs down, and to make users comfortable with
searching.


Perhaps these logs were handed over without IPs or user names. But
what if somebody browses them and sees queries on things like kiddie porn or
white house security or how to build a nuclear bomb? Could that be
sufficient
cause for a further order to get the identifying information
associated with
that query?


In the meantime, if you feel motivated to foolishly search for things
that could be misinterpreted, as I did, may I recommend you do so through Tor, the anonymizing proxy. (The EFF(o) provided significant
financial support to the development of Tor.) Tor bounces your web requests
through a series of randomly chosen servers, all encrypted, so nobody can trace
back your requests to you. Be sure not to login when using it, though!
» brad's blog




Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Monterey John

The Google Subpoena - An Opposing View and A Response

As some of you know, I am also a contributor to California Conservative. It is one of the premier blogs on the Right. I encourage all to put it in their rotation. Normally Cal and I are in agreement. But that is not the case on the issue of the Google Subpoena.

Prior to posting my thoughts on the subpoena, Cal and I had an exchange of e-mails. I think they capture at least a part of the question and the divide that exists on the right regarding this question. So I will share them.

Cal's e-mail to me:

John,Read your post and will publish it tomorrow. However,
wanted to engage you in a little banter in advance thereof. It's obvious
you're quite steamed over the Google story. You wrote: "Some things are just a
violation of our values and ways of doing things. Should I not be
able to do a search without thinking the government is, or might be,
watching?"

Not to be argumentative, but what values are being violated? IMHO, if
you're searching for porn (which is perfectly legal), who (cares) if the
government or your wife, for that matter, are watching? And if you even want to
include the kids, it's your choice. No one is going to kick down your
door. If you use a credit card, with every transaction you make, people
are watching, tracking your every move. That's life in the technology age.

However, if someone is searching the internet for kiddie porn and then,
after inspiration, surfs on to find instructions on how to best kidnap, rape and
kill
a little girl from a school yard, wouldn't you sleep better knowing
that law enforcement would be alerted?


My response:

Hi Cal, the value to which I spoke is privacy and respect for
privacy. I am not one of those who thinks privacy is a Constitutional
right Griswald et al notwithstanding. However, I do believe that we as
Americans expect our privacy to be respected absent some very good reson not to
do so. A blind subpoena for over a million searches is on its face
without a good and specific purpose.

People should be entitled to a certain space. Activity on the
internet is obviously on the fringe of that space, and it is that fringe to
which I rise to defend in this case. If we don't defend it here,
then where? If we don't defend it now, then when?

Further, I am just not believing the Justice Department's rationale for the
subpoena in the first place. It was allegedly issued to obtain information
supportive of COPA. Legislation is a Congressional not executive
function. Had Congress wanted this information, something with which I
would have a lot less philosophical difficulty, they could have gotten it.
But that is not what happened here and I am left to wonder what Justice is
really up to.

My bona fides on supporting this adminitration are pretty good, but I smell
the hand of Big Brother here.

... this issue is a good example of the faultline between the
libertarian and traditional conservatives. I guess it is pretty clear
which camp I fall into along with Christopher Hitchens and Bob Barr, though I
disagree with them as to the NSA flap. I do not think it is any
secret that the faultline exists. That others may try take advantage of
that divide, well, so be it. (I for one would certainly never have shown up on
the same stage with Algore.)

Secondly, you asked if some entered a search for "kidnap, rape, kill"
wouldn't I want the authorities to be alerted? Hell no I would not want
the authorities to be alerted, not unless there was some reason to think that
person might be up to something. Should a reporter who entered such a
search be the subject of a police investigation, or even closer to my heart, a
lawyer? What about a pastor trying to understand what someone has
done? No, I don't think buzz words should put law enforcement on anyone's
back.

Note I said "law enforcement."Intelligence in support of national security,
where prosecution is not the aim, is a very different thing in my mind.

So endeth thus epistle.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn