Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

New Hampshire legislatures kill fourth graders’ bill and dreams.

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

What assholes.

Last Thursday, fourth graders from Hampton Falls, New Hampshire visited their state legislature to observe a bit of democracy in action. The children had previously proposed House Bill 373, establishing the Red Tail Hawk as the New Hampshire State Raptor, as part of a civics lesson in how bills become laws. Their measure had already sailed out of the Environmental and Agriculture Committee. Now the young students gathered in the House galley to watch their bill pass its next hurdle.

via New Hampshire legislatures kill fourth graders' bill and dreams..

LTE on Skip Stam

Friday, March 13th, 2015

I sent this to the N&O regarding Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam’s apparent reversal of support for redistricting reform.

It is disappointing to see Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, once a champion of redistricting reform, backing a bill that quite plainly gerrymanders the Wake County Commission. We the voters lose again.

My original version called Stam “long a champion,” but it appears his days of championing redistricting reform are over. I hope one version or another makes it to print.

Fifteen years of public service

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Found in the attic a few weeks ago is this letter from the late Garner mayor F. Don Rohrbaugh, thanking me for my service on Garner’s Land Use Ordinance rewrite committee. It was my very first public service (outside of the military).

Thanks, Don (wherever you are), for getting me started!

Garner_Land_Use_Ordinance-letter

‘Homebrew’ email servers: Genius as well as sneaky? :: WRAL.com

Friday, March 6th, 2015

No, it’s not always a room filled with wires and glowing blue lights. It’s probably not even the size of your furnace. The personal email server used by Hillary Rodham Clinton during her time as secretary of state was probably about the size of your office desktop computer and could have been tucked quietly in a corner somewhere.

She’s come a long way since 1997, when Clinton’s staff bought the then-first lady a copy of the book "E-Mail for Dummies."

Setting up your own email server is something only the geekiest of tech geeks do because of the serious hassles involved, including spending every waking hour fending off spam. Like brewing your own beer, it’s typically done just for fun — a way to challenge your smarts and fill the time. It also appeals to those who fear the government is sniffing around and could compel companies like Google or Yahoo to release customer data.

via 'Homebrew' email servers: Genius as well as sneaky? :: WRAL.com.

Historic moment: Saudi Arabia sees End of Oil Age coming and opens valves on the carbon bubble – EnergyPost.eu

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

This is a fascinating read about the oil market that took me a while to really get, but it finally makes sense.

Tl;dr The Saudis are selling all the oil they can now because they’re worried that oil is quickly becoming obsolete. They’d rather sell at a drastic discount than be left with oceans of oil but no buyers.

Most analysts believe Saudi Arabia refuses to cut production because it wants to shake out its higher-cost competitors or because it wants to punish Iran and Russia. There may be some truth in those theories, writes Elias Hinckley, strategic advisor and head of the energy practice with international law firm Sullivan and Worcester, but they miss the deeper motivation of the Saudis. Saudi Arabia, he says, sees the end of the Oil Age on the horizon and understands that a great deal of global fossil fuel reserves will have to stay underground to avoid catastrophic global warming. “That’s why it has opened the valves on the carbon asset bubble.”

via Historic moment: Saudi Arabia sees End of Oil Age coming and opens valves on the carbon bubble – EnergyPost.eu.

Separate And Unequal: Gen. Petraeus Facing Mild Wrist Slap For Leaking Eight Books Full Of Classified Info To His Mistress

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Can’t wait to see Ed Snowden offered the same sweet deal. I’m sure that will happen, right?

The administration still wants to punish whistleblowers and leakers, but only if it can do it with logic borrowed from Animal Farm. When it comes to prosecution, some leakers are more equal than others.

John Kiriakou — who exposed a single CIA operative’s name while exposing its waterboarding tactics — spent more time in jail than former CIA director Leon Panetta, who has spent (at last count) a grand total of 0 days locked up for leaking tons of classified info to Zero Dark Thirty’s screenwriter, Mark Boal.

Of course, some leaks just aren’t leaks, at least not according to the government. Kiriakou’s were wrong. Panetta’s were right. And Kiriakou spent three years in prison for a lesser "crime."

via Techdirt..

Clinton ran own computer system for her official emails :: WRAL.com

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Hillz got mad skillz, running her own mailserver. Who knew she was a 7337 hacX0R?

The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

via Clinton ran own computer system for her official emails :: WRAL.com.

Reporters on the CIA take

Friday, February 20th, 2015

The story of Ken Dilanian playing footsie with the CIA brought to mind a comment I heard a few years back from someone in a position to know who insisted that news anchor Ted Koppel was a paid CIA asset. That was quite an extraordinary claim but I did not follow up and I could not find much evidence on the web to back it up.

It is not, however, a new phenomenon. Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein wrote a lengthy story about improper CIA involvement with the media. Wikipedia describes “Operation Mockinbgird” as a CIA plan to influence media and speaks of it in the past tense, though there is no indication that the operation has ended. Perhaps it hasn’t.

RALEIGH: Senate plan would cut NC gas tax | State Politics | NewsObserver.com

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Our state legislature is considering cutting our state gasoline tax when we should be doubling it. How unfortunate.

Also, I’m not happy with Bruce Sieceloff’s story about it as he doesn’t explain why our state’s gasoline tax is so high. North Carolina has the largest state-maintained highway system in the country, bigger than Texas and even California. That’s why North Carolina’s gas taxes are higher than neighboring states. Shame on you, Bruce, for failing to mention this fact.

The legislature has moved twice over the past decade to put an upper limit on rising gas tax rates. But in 2009, a tax ceiling that had been enacted two years earlier was converted to a floor to close a gap in the DOT budget. Without that action in 2009, the tax rate would have dropped from 29.9 to 27.9 cents.

North Carolina’s gas tax is one of the highest in the nation. The highway use tax collected at the time of car sales, another major source of road money, is lower in North Carolina than in neighboring states.

via RALEIGH: Senate plan would cut NC gas tax | State Politics | NewsObserver.com.

Update: As I noted then, the N&O’s editorial board mentioned this back in May 2012:

“There’s a good reason why our gas tax is so hefty. State government here, due to a policy with roots in the Depression, bears a much greater share of local road expenses than in most states. North Carolina ranks second only to Texas in miles of state-maintained roadways. This policy serves to lighten the load on county governments and is reflected in their relatively low tax rates.”

I feel it is only fair that when our state’s high gas tax is mentioned, our state’s gigantic, state-owned highway system should be mentioned, too.

Brian Williams and lies about Iraq

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Brian_Williams
There’s a lot being made about NBC News anchor Brian Williams having claimed he was in a helicopter in Iraq that made an emergency landing after being hit by enemy fire. I give Williams a pass. He had made a living telling other people’s stories, stories he did not write. After reading thousands of these over the years, it must become difficult keeping straight what one did and what one only read or saw. It does not diminish my perception of Williams if his helicopter wasn’t hit as he claimed. In the heat of it all it becomes difficult to piece together what’s what.

As the photo above attests, it would be a shame if Williams were the only one punished for lying about Iraq. There are presidents, vice-presidents, cabinet officials, – and, yes, news media – that buried everyone under lie upon lie about Iraq. Williams’s faux pas is tame by comparison.

Hanging Brian Williams out to dry for Iraq lies is like making Martha Stewart the fall guy for insider trading. The worst offenders get away.