One more nail in DeLay’s coffin.

Yes, the masses can make a difference. Apparently the GOP yahoos have bitten off more than they can chew. Three months ago, as I had mentioned before, the house Ethics committee republicans made a set of 3 rule changes that were basically designed to protect Tom DeLay from further investigations.
The Daily Kos points to a Washington Post article saying the GOP, realizing they had really pushed things too far, are rescinding one of the rule changes.
The rule being rescinded basically says “If the ethics committee is at an impasse, and cannot resolve it in 45 days, then the complaint is dismissed.

The proposal will include a reversal of the January rule that would automatically dismiss an ethics complaint after 45 days if the committee is deadlocked.
“It’s gone,” an official said of the automatic-dismissal rule as he emerged from the negotiations.

Since one of the other rule changes is that an ethics complaint can’t be moved into an investigation without a majority vote, this isn’t really a major victory, but it is a step in the right direction.

So, let me get this straight.

In 1997, 2 years after the Republicans gained control of the house, they changed a key rule in how the ethics committee could start an investigation of a house member. The rule change was that if 50% of the committee requested a probe, then it would happen. That change was so that a single party could not ‘block’ the investigation of someone in another party.
Sounds good, right? Almost makes sense.
But Tom Delay just changed the rules again. NOW it takes a majority. This rule was put in place when, shockingly, the 10 member committee voted 3 times in 2004 to admonish DeLay, and talk of a probe into more ethics violations by him was rumored. DeLay took decisive action:

After the 10-member committee admonished DeLay three times in 2004 and talk of a possible probe by the committee grew, Republican leadership in the House changed a central rule. The committee can now launch an investigation only if a majority of members support the idea.

DeLay, of course, responded quickly with a rebuttal of these allegations:

DeLay has called himself the victim of “just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me” and has lashed out at Democrats for a “strategy of personal destruction.”

I think Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California, says it best:

“What bothers me is the Republicans, when things aren’t going their way, tend to try to change the rules.”

and Barney Frank continues…

“The Republican Revolution came in [and] changed the rules so that one party couldn’t block an investigation of its own member,” Frank told NBC. “And when that began to bite, they’ve changed them back again. That’s the pattern, by the way, that the Republicans have engaged in on a whole lot of things.”
Frank said he and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were reprimanded by the committee.
“The difference between us and Mr. DeLay is, I think, we changed our behavior,” he said. “Mr. DeLay changed the Ethics Committee.”

We’ve seen this over, and over, and over again. We saw it in Texas with the totally idiotic re-districting.
What does it take to bring this man, and the rest of the Republican party, under control?

Which ten commandments?

In a time when there are judges demanding the 10 commandments be displayed in public venues of justice, it’s interesting to ask the question “WHICH 10 commandments?”
Oh, didn’t know there were several? Each branch of judeo-christian theology has a slightly different set (some are dramatically different).
This page has a great summary of the various versions.

The proposal for the DST changes

This made the rounds on IRC this morning, and I’m glad to see other forums have picked it up. The gist is there is a plan in place to extend daylight savings time an extra 2 months. The rational behind this is it would decrease usage of oil by 10,000 barrels a day.
I think there are some horrific fallacies and misleading suggestions in this presentation. First, the only rational for this change is energy savings. There’s no other argument.
Okay, so we save 10,000 barrels. That estimate came from the Transportation Department (no cites have been given for this). It doesn’t take into account other factors, such as increased air conditioning usage in the summer, etc.
Even still, this change would result in a decrease of only 0.05% in daily oil usage. (The US is stated as using 20 million barrels of oil a day.)
This article was posted in Slashdot, and the resulting forum commentary has (oddly enough) brought up some fantastic commentary about the goods and the bads of this proposal. The short answer is, there’s almost nothing good about it.
One great suggestion is, if this change is in place, clocks would change within 3 1/2 months of each other. That’s 15 weeks between an hour change back and an hour change forward. That’s a very tight time schedule.
Why not make the change permanent? Replace the whole process and fix the clocks on Daylight Savings Time and we’ll just call it quits there. The folks in Indiana sure would like that (there are sections of Indiana that have no time-shifting at all. Neither does Arizona.)
Here’s some choice comments from the forums:

From Wikipedia
There is also a question whether the savings in lighting costs (people just home from work don’t turn on the electric lights because there is enough sunlight through the windows) justifies the increase in summertime air conditioning costs (people home from work do turn up the air conditioning during the late-afternoon peak load times, because it’s still warm outside). When air conditioning was not widely available, the change did save energy; however, air conditioning is much more widespread now than it was several decades ago.

SeanDuggan sez:

I can’t remember where I saw the statistic, but I remember reading that the number of accidents involving motor vehicles sharply increases the week after either DST change. Basically, on the day that people “spring forward,” drivers and pedestrians are more exhausted and less likely to be reacting quickly enough. *shrug* And honestly, doesn’t the “10,000 barrels of oil” sound like an exact rehash, right down to the amount, of the original DST proposal?

There’s a great commentary over at the National Review about this as well. A choice quote from it:

“We’re also informed that DST helps conserve energy, apparently because people arriving home when the sun is still up don’t switch on their lights. Didn’t it occur to anybody that maybe they compensate by switching them on earlier in the morning? Moreover, people who arrive home from work an hour earlier during the hot summer months are probably more prone to turning up their air conditioners. According to Downing, the petroleum industry once was “an ardent and generous supporter” of DST because it believed people would hop in their cars and drive for pleasure — and guzzle more gas.
But the very worst thing about DST is that it’s bad for your health. According to Stanley Coren, a sleep expert at the University of British Columbia, the number of traffic accidents and fatal industrial mishaps increase on the Monday after we spring forward. The reason, presumably, is because losing even a single hour of sleep over the weekend makes a lot of people a bit drowsier on what we might usefully call Black Monday. Unfortunately, there’s no compensating effect of a super-safe Monday as we go off DST and “fall back” in the autumn.”

And Supernova87a states it succinctly and to the point:

why doesn’t congress stop tapdancing around the real issue, and instead pass some well-thought out legislation to reduce wasteful energy use, implement a rational gasoline use tax, and other things that would actually address the real problem? Hm?

So what is the reasoning behind this thing? Oh right. It’s politics.

My first political bumper sticker.

I was cleaning out the back of my car today, preparing to install a new antenna and new dual band ham radio, when I came across a bumper sticker I had gotten SOMEWHERE, and never really got around to putting on the car.
I’m not a big fan of bumper stickers. They tend to look trashy. This one however is black with white lettering, and fit on the plastic fascia on my bumper, so in the future if I want to remove it, at the very worst I’d replace that piece of plastic.
I can’t find the graphic online for it, but here’s roughtly what it looks like. On the black car, it’s fine, and it really pushed my political “Yeah, this is EXACTLY what I think…” buttons, so I went ahead and put it on.

I like it.
UpdateRosa has the helpful hat today, and reminded me that those stickers came from her mom. Thanks Rosa’s Mom!

The end. Or is it?

Terry Schiavo dies in hospice

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) — Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman who spent 15 years connected to a feeding tube in an epic legal and medical battle that went all the way to the White House and Congress, died Thursday, 13 days after the tube was removed. She was 41.

My initial reaction was “Okay, I’m so glad THAT’s over with.” But, given all the idiocy and ranting going on around this case, I’ll lay odds that sometime in the next 4-6 weeks, either another single PVS case will come to the fore, or legislation or some other ‘big visibility’ process will start, keeping this issue burbling.

Bob Parsons goes off the deep end

Recently I was pointed to a series of postings on Bob Parsons blog regarding some decisions made by the company that administers the .US domain (that being Neustar).
Mr. Parsons, who is the founder of GoDaddy, a very successful domain registrar, goes on to comment that the recent decision by the NTIA made it ‘illegal to have a private registration’ of a domain.
While the decision by the NTIA may be poorly founded, and Neustars interpretation of the decision flawed (nowhere in Mr. Parsons postings, nor on Neustars site, nor on the NTIA’s site did I find a link to the rule change that is being talked about), I feel Mr. Parsons reaction to be overly dramatic and in fact harmful to the clear and informed process that should be followed when things like this arise.
From Mr. Parsons posting on March 29th :
But Mr. Parsons doesn’t stop there. This is not a poor decision by a government beaurocracy. This is an ASSAULT on our RIGHTS to PRIVACY! I will quote here:

It’s ironic that we lost our right to privacy on the one domain name that says we are Americans!
I find it ironic that our rights to .US privacy were stripped away (without due process) by a federal government agency that should be looking out for our individual rights. For them to choose the .US domain name is the ultimate slap in the face. .US is the one domain name that is specifically intended for Americans. Think about this for a moment: These bureaucrats stripped away the privacy, guaranteed by the first amendment and that you’re entitled to as an American, on the only domain name (.US) that says that you are an American. I am outraged by this — you should be also.

Let me be clear here. I think the NTIA’s decision was a poor one, and should be addressed, but I feel that Mr. Parsons has gone off the deep end equating a poor decision by a government agency with an all out assault on our rights as US citizens.
Domain registrations are a process of creating a space in the public forum where you wish to voice or present information that is uniquely associated with yourself. It is not an anonymous forum. “Private Registrations” are a false workaround to publishing Whois information, by registering the domain through a secondary proxy (in GoDaddy’s case, they are using DomainsByProxy, an affiliate website. The legality of this form of registration is already questioned, since the ownership of a domain could already be perceived as being misrepresented.
I wholly support the process of calling the NTIA and/or Neustar to task for this decision, but it should be pursued in a sane, intelligent way, not via rants and handwaving in the style Mr. Parsons seems to prefer.

Sing it, bruthuh!

My friend Michael got a wonderful editorial published in the Boston Globe railing at evangelical christians…

THE PORTRAIT of the Wilkersons (”For family, religion shapes politics,” Page A1, March 29) is an appalling study in the hypocrisy that has subsumed modern Evangelical Christianity. Michael Wilkerson is quite happy to wave First Corinthians 6:9-11 around to justify his bias against gays. For the Wilkersons, who rake in $120,000 a year and own a BMW, I have the words of Jesus, as written in Mark, 10:25. ”It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Definately take a few moments to entire commentary.

Scientific American gives in.

Scientific American will be publishing their new policy of “Fair and Balanced Science” in the April edition. They do detail some of the reasoning for this change…

In retrospect, this magazine’s coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.

I have to give great marks to Scientific American for their outstanding use of the written form to set things right.

How far can they go?

More bad news from the runaway policies of the Bush administration.
A report by the TSA itself has said they were “not entirely accurate” when they were asked point blank about security issues. They’re not saying they lied, but every indication in the report says they did, in fact, lie through their teeth repeatedly.
Every time I find myself going “Okay, this is normally wavy stuff in politics, it’ll all correct itself, and things will balance out”, things go further and further off kilter.
Did you know it’s virtually impossible to find a currently-available sex-ed school book that is not “abstinence only”?
Did you know that piece by piece the US government is curtailing the first amendment?
Seriously, how much further to the right can this country go without a popular uprising?

More nausea from the Hill, Onion style…

As usual, The Onion hits the nail right on the head. Bush managed to get approval for oil exploration in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

The Onion did one of their wonderful What Do You Think mock surveys on what people think of drilling in Alaska. One of the best responses:

“They’re drilling in the Alaskan wilderness? That’s too bad. Someone really ought to look into passing laws to put such places under federal protection so this doesn’t happen again.”

I used to think that there was only so far stupidity could push politics, but it just goes further and further and further. IF oil were found in Alaska, and IF it were ramped up to full production:

  • a 1 percent increase in the amount of oil available to the US.
  • 12 years until that oil is actually available in the US.

Bush’s response to this?

“Developing a small section of ANWR would not only create thousands of new jobs, but it would eventually reduce our dependence on foreign oil by up to a million barrels of oil a day.”

Well galldang. Ain’t he the man. *spit*

Disgust at the Hypocrisy of the Administration

I’ve tried not to post too much political drivel here lately, but this one really pegged my buttons.
Apparently the Bush administration, in true show of how religion, opinion, and personal agenda is affecting state policy, has announced they will intervene in the Terry Schiavo case.
Ignoring the fact that all the courts, all the doctors, and the state legislature of Florida has sided with the legal guardian (the woman’s husband), the Bush administration has decided they will intervene and pass emergency legislation against the wills of the husband, the courts, and the doctors in this case.
What bothers me the most about this is that it flies in the face of all that the Republican party is supposed to believe in. The rights of states to manage and legislate their own issues. The rights of an family to pursue their lives without intervention by the Federal regime, etc. Toss all that out the window. Bush feels that he knows better than the courts, the husband, and the doctors, and will force this woman, who everyone -but- the parents agrees is basically dead, to continue breathing and twitching in a horrible mockery of life.
The woman has died. Her collapse and later heart attack has destroyed most of her brain. The husband is not some ‘money grubbing relative looking to slurp up the insurance’ – in fact the husband has publically stated :

Raising the issue of a possible conflict of interest is the fact that Michael Schiavo stands to inherit the remainder of Terri’s malpractice settlement upon her death. Michael Schiavo has publicly responded to this charge by claiming that, of the original $1,050,000 awarded in the malpractice suit, less than $50,000 is left, the rest having been spent under a judge’s supervision on medical care for Terri and the ongoing legal battle. He has also stated that, if he does receive this money, he will donate it to charity.

So the only thing we can interpret from the administration is yet another attempt to foist Bush’s skewed morals on a country, regardless of law, public commentary, or even consistency within the their own party.

Teacher lashes out at student for not standing for the national anthem

A Brick Township teacher lashed out at a student who wouldn’t stand for the national anthem. The teachers rant was caught in a cell phone video. The result? The student was suspended for 10 days, and the school is considering banning all cell phones from the school. The teacher has had no reprimand, and the school is considering pressing charges against the student.

Jay’s friend who was in the class at the time, Corey, says that their teacher had been strict in the past in demanding that students stand for the national anthem and pledge of allegiance. That’s why they brought in a camera – to expose the teacher in case he did anything again. “The teacher and school principals wanted him (Mantel) to press charges against us…they tried to blame it on us like it was premeditated, like we did it just to get him on tape, which is false. We knew he was gonna go nuts because he frequently used to” said Corey.

Link to the story, complete with video.

Update: – The full article at the Independent Media Center of Philadelphia has many more details. The commentary section is particularly interesting.

Chair-bop song of the day

Once again, Radio Paradise hits my music button right on the head. This morning it was Less Mccann and Eddie Harris doing their version of the song “Compared to What”, originally written by Eugene Daniels and performed by Roberta Flack more than 35 years ago. This version, performed live in Montreux, Switzerland in 1969, is truly outstanding, with masterful jazz piano driving the piece. It’s impossible to keep still listening to talent like this.
But it wasn’t just the tune that got me going. The lyrics, at the time written to protest the Vietnam war, come in as oh so appropriate today:

The president he’s got his war
Folks don’t know just what its for
Nobody gives us a rhyme or reason
Have one doubt they call it treason
We’re chicken features all without one nut
Goddammit! — Try to make it real! Compared to what???”

Why are we destined to continually repeat the failures of the past?