Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Are You Civically Literate?

Ok, check out this Civics quiz. I missed 4 questions for a score of 87.88. Two of them kind of business type questions. Average score for this quiz in November was 78.1. Take it and let me know how you did. It's sad that the vast majority of people who take this quiz (71%) cannot pass it.

Indefinite Detention?

The wingers are super concerned that their guns are going to be taken away over the coming years. Nevermind that it would be impossible due to the number of guns currently in the USA. But these same wingers don't seem to be concerned that G.W. Bush has mandated that legal residents of the USA can be imprisoned indefinitely if he deems they are enemy terrorists. Maybe the wingers figure as long as they have their guns, no one is going to take them away.

Anyone who has actually read the US Constitution can see that detaining someone indefinitely, incommunicado, and torturing them is unconstitutional. An editorial in todays NYT points out that a legal resident of the USA, Ali al-Marri, has been held and tortured for the last seven years.
Mr. Marri was arrested in Peoria, Ill., in December 2001 on criminal charges. In 2003, while his criminal case was pending, Mr. Bush designated him an enemy combatant, and he was moved to a Navy brig near Charleston, S.C. For 16 months, Mr. Marri was held incommunicado. During his detention, he reportedly has been subjected to treatment that borders on, or actually is, torture.

Yes, I understand that Mr. Marri has a funny middle eastern name so he is probably a terrorist and not a Christian. Think this matter doesn't concern you? Think again.
The federal appeals court made clear that its ruling upholding the president’s power to detain enemy combatants applies equally to American citizens. If the ruling stands, presidents would be able to throw out due process, habeas corpus and other basic constitutional and statutory rights for anyone they declared to have terrorist ties.
Just be thankful you don't have a middle eastern name....or do you?

HMMWV Zeus Laser

It's not quite a handheld raygun but it pretty much is the closest thing we have right now. The Economist reports on a laser mounted on a Humvee being used to destroy IED's in Iraq from a distance of 300 meters.

Wikipedia has more on the ZEUS-HLONS.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Conservatives See No Problems

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has a pretty good post about conservative's inability to admit a problem exists. That's why they lack ideas about how to fix problems - they don't see or can't admit a problem exists to begin with.
Take global warming. Here's the rough conservative reaction to it starting in the early 90s:

1. It doesn't exist.

2. It exists but it isn't manmade.

3. It's manmade, but it's too expensive to do anything about.

Even this is a generous assessment. A lot of conservatives are still stuck at #2, and sizeable chunk at #1. What this means is that they're basically shut out of the conversation entirely. Which is too bad, because I'd actually be sort of interested to hear a conservative take on how to address global warming that accepts both its reality and the necessity of doing something about it.
But maybe this isn't right. Maybe it's just that these people who claim to be conservative are no longer true conservatives. I seem to remember a time when conservatives had solutions to problems besides "cut taxes".

Earth to Bush

Where the hell is G.W. Bush? Does he have the slightest idea that the US economy is going down the tubes? Is this just another lack of response like his lack of response to Katrina? Is Bush even interested in being President anymore? If not, can we just let Obama get on with solving the problem?

Shake a Tail Feather