Monthly Archives: July 2007

A Package of Amendments

I can think of one Founding Father, in particular, who would be appalled at the state of politics today — that would be Thomas Jefferson. If I were to say that it was just because of Bush, this would be another boring rant. No, the problem goes much deeper. Thomas Jefferson, like Thomas Paine, believed that each generation should be able to tailor government for its own needs. Jefferson would be appalled at how there has been no innovation in the way we govern.

When I purely considered myself a conservative, I thought Thomas Paine was nuts. Each generation should not be so casual in tinkering with government, I thought, because government was built slowly and over many years and should only be changed with the utmost caution. But now, I would not err so much on the side of caution. When we see egregious abuses of power, we should not restrict ourselves to condemning the perpetrators. We should always be on guard against the lesser passions of human nature. These urges will always be there, and it is our responsibility to create a government which guards against them; we cannot assume that our leaders will always be virtuous people.

I do not have the solutions yet, but I urge you to think about them. One possibility is accountability laws. These laws would disqualify a person from office if they did something. I don’t know how they’d work, but it’s something to think about.

As the nation, we cannot rely on one virtuous individual to save us from the excesses of the Bush administration, nor can we assume that this individual would prevent abuses in the future. What this nation needs now is a package of amendments, which will prevent certain tragedies from happening again. We need ways to prevent the President from abusing the military, and we need to do something about signing statements.

[Sorry if the writing is a little stilted. I’ve been trying out the voice software again.]

Some YouTube debate thoughts

I’ve watched a quarter of the YouTube debates, and I still stand by my statement that this is a gimmick and not revolutionary. Here are a few thoughts:

I don’t know why but Hillary Clinton scares me.

I can’t stand Chris Dodd’s pretentious diction.

When responses are limited to a minute, the debate is really susceptible to soundbites and talking points; I am getting to know the candidates, but only in the way that they want me to know them. For example, I know that Senator Edwards will fight to special interests… or so he says.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina was not primarily affected by race. Bush is incompetent, his cronies are incompetent, and that is a constant. Note: I still think race was a factor with preparations, but not necessarily the response.

[Note: I dictated the above with my new speech recognition software. I don’t notice any appreciable speed increase, but it was fun to try out.]


i must have bad posture at work. first it was just my hands, but now my shoulders are having problems too. i’m severely limiting computer time at home. updates will be sparse.

note: i am looking into speech recognition software.

YouTube and the Debates

I’m right, but not the way you think.

I made this modest prediction about YouTube and the debates back in April:

I just wanted to get this prediction on the table before events happened. We will revisit this after primary debates and the presidential debates.

I predict that YouTube will radically transform the way we view the debates.

I am extremely confident about this.

Note: I plan on utilizing YouTube to its fullest extent when any debates roll around. With any luck, I will be one of the persons helping along that transformational process.

This was way back before I heard about the CNN bullshit “YouTube Debate.” I chose to spend that evening with a better mindless entertainment: Transformers, the movie. (Awesome, you should definitely see it.)

Let me admit that I called the debates moronic before I even watched them. But I’ll trust John Stewart editorializing that the politicians gave the same canned answers as before. The YouTube debate is a gimmick, not a revolution.

That being said, YouTube has still revolutionized the debate experience. It has radically changed the way we consume the debates. Instead of listening to CNN’s full pre-packaged form, people can cut-and-paste different clips. If I want to hear all of Ron Paul’s outburts — bam, it’s done. Set it to music, add your own text, and we’ve got an entirely new product.

It is changing our politics in ways CNN will never understand. In fact, even I can’t grasp the changes under way.

Today’s Two Things

I spent most of today doing two things.

One: Fixing some old permalinks. All the stuff in the form “archives/200x_xx_xx.html” should now redirect to the proper place. I was getting a lot of 404 errors. After that, I just need to find some old pics and then individually fix some entries. It took a lot longer than I expected because the PHP explode() function wasn’t working as I hoped it would, and I had to figure out a way around it.

Two: Reading Fiasco by Mr. Ricks. I’m only slowly making my way through it because it is so painful to read. I can’t get past a couple pages without having to put the book aside and let my anger cool down a bit. One thing that’s particularly eye-opening is how the administration’s line still hasn’t change — we’re still making Remarkable Progress.

Screw IE 6

I’ve got an interesting graph here:

Graph of Most Used Browsers

It shows what browsers people use when they come to my websites. That’s like a random week’s worth of data.

One sixth of my visitors still haven’t made it to the 21st century.

I’m done supporting IE 6 on this weblog. I won’t uglify my CSS for you. If you haven’t even taken the time to upgrade to IE 7 or switch to Firefox (or Opera), then you’re not cutting edge enough to read this. Get with the (alpha transparent) picture.

Those stats are amazing, though. Half of the hits here, which includes The Chalkboard Manifesto, are from Firefox. Wow.

Comments on the Aesthetics of My Recent Redesign

I went into this weekend with the intent of making my blog 20% prettier. Instead, I made the site a helluva lot prettier. I’m happy with my design.

But… trees — why the hell would I pick trees? To be honest, I did a google search for wordpress themes and then I was browsing through some things and I saw a nice, spacious one with trees and fog in the background. It spurred me to search through a free stock photography site for different types of pictures. After much experimentation, I settled for the picture you see here (and made the picture a little greener). I decided I liked green (blue is so overdone). Then, when I figured there was too much green, I tried something that matched and came up with that nice yellow. I added the clip art leaf to the post headings because the plain black heading was hella bugging me, not because I love leaves. So it would appear that my aims were purely aesthetic.

Yet as any E.E. Cummings fan can tell you, multiple thoughts can inhabit your mind simultaneously. I did have something symbolic in mind. When I was looking through the stock photos, I also decided to take some photos of my own. They were all of my backyard. The photo I liked the best and actually tried to make work captured the view and the small table and chairs on my deck. I sit out there sometimes, in the sun, to think and write. I wanted the weblog to reflect that quiet and solitude. Unfortunately, the picture wasn’t working with the translucent boxes (you couldn’t see the right stuff) and I dumped it. But the symbolism stuck.

I am not normally a nature-person, but there is a certain allure to separating yourself from society and putting yourself entirely in the company of the wild. There’s a peace of mind you can get sitting on a rock in the middle of a lazy river that you can’t get anywhere else. I’ve staked out my own small plot in cyberspace to just sit and ponder. During the periods of time where I update this weblog almost everyday, the daily writing becomes ritualized. The writing tends to be late at night, when everyone else is quiet, and I can be alone and let my thoughts out. Even though this weblog is public, I like my initial process of writing to be very private; I
can’t write with someone reading over my shoulder. Despite the road and fence in the background photo, the trees are still enough to evoke a certain calm. Pavlov’s peace, if you will.

Specter, defender of habeas corpus?

Lloyd quotes Specter on the Senate floor, from Those Confusing Habeas Corpus Bill Numbers – And The Important Text:

“I don’t think that there’s a more important issue to come before this body,” said Specter on the Senate floor.”

“What happens in Iraq obviously is of enormous importance, but if we lose the basic fundamental rights to require evidence before somebody is held in detention, if we lose the right of habeas corpus, it is a very sad day in America.”

I gots somethings else to quote. First, from the same article:

From the Military Commissions Act, here’s subsection (e):

“No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.”

That’s the downright un-American nonsense the Specter-Leahy bill will get rid of.

And here’s something else, from the Senate roll call of the votes on that downright un-American Military Commissions Act:

Specter (R-PA), Yea

Specter’s like OJ: Still looking for the killer.

Make blog 20% prettier

Progress report on my to-do list for the weekend:



#4 – Make blog 20% prettier

I think I’ve accomplished this. There’s still a lot of tweaking to do with the site, editing colors and whatnot. Oh, and also moving the boxes around. However, I have made the site 20% prettier — more than 20% prettier, in fact. I will be messing with things throughout the day, but I’m happy to announce that I finished my to-do list. BAM.


Here’s my progress report on my to-do list for the weekend. We’ll go in reverse order.

#4 – Make blog 20% prettier

Haven’t started yet.

#3 – Write About page

Done. You can read the about page if you want. I didn’t give it much thought, but it turned out okay. I’m happy with it for now.

#2 – Update blogroll (from default WP links)

Done. I just went to my bookmarks and then added links to the blogs I visit the most. I also added links to my Myspace page and The Chalkboard Manifesto.

#1 – Fix blog archive links

Done. This took me several hours. (I was also watching TV at the same time. I finally watched Office Space.)

The problem was that URLs which looked like this weren’t working. The individual and daily entries were working, but the monthly pages weren’t. The monthly pages would open up my old MT monthly archives. When I tried deleting those index.html files, I’d get a file listing.

First thing I tried to mess around with was the MT templates. I used the individual entry template from Alex King’s solution for redirecting MT to WordPress (very good, highly recommend using it if you wish to make the same switch I did). Well, first, I had to decipher the damn thing and look up a few PHP commands. Eventually, I figured that this was a dead-end and I did nothing.

Second, I fixed it so I wasn’t getting the file listing anymore. But all that did was give me a 403 Error instead of a file listing.

So I tried a plain old redirect using .htaccess. I had to go into WordPress and go back to the old URL system to find that it was using /m?=200606 for example. I made index.html go to this. It worked, but now I was getting that ugly URL. I didn’t want that showing up because it would confuse people and because it was, well, ugly.

Next, I used mod_rewrite for the redirect. It took me a while to figure out what was even going on with mod_rewrite — it’s damn complicated, especially when one does not even know regular expressions. But I didn’t need the regular expressions. Eventually, I surfed google results for a while and found a simpler intro. I experimented with it and finally got the redirect to work. Mission accomplished.

Well, “mission accomplished” in the Bushian sense. I fixed that but broke everything else. Now the individual entries were giving me 404 errors. Argh!

Maybe the .htaccess files in the subdirectories were giving me problems. I tried putting the mod_rewrite WordPress code in the yearly and monthly subdirectories. No dice.

Okay, might the .htaccess file in the yearly directories be giving me trouble anyway? I mean, I had put those in there to allow HTML files to be treated as PHP files. (This has to do with the solution I used to redirect from MT to WordPress.) I deleted that, but no dice again. I put it back. That wasn’t giving me the problem.

I then thought that maybe WordPress was giving me the wrong code to put in my .htaccess file for those more friendly links. I temporarily changed the access to allow WordPress to write directly to the .htaccess file. Uh oh. 500 Server Error. Everything in WordPress was crashing. I manually uploaded the .htaccess file again and everything was well in the universe. That is, everything except my original problem.

Finally, I looked at the WordPress help file for permalinks a bit and something caught my eye about using a 404 redirect. I didn’t even read it through, but I experiment and I actually used 403 ErrorDocument to redirect things back to WordPress. Now the URL looks pretty and it goes where I want. Problem solved.

It wasn’t the most elegant solution. I had to go through and manually upload .htaccess files to all the monthly subdirectories and then delete all the index.html files. But I’m used to that mind-numbing repetitive stuff from work, so I bucked up and just did it. All done. Hooray.

Option three

I found this comment interesting:

Good note, and criticism of Peggy — who was too enthusiastic when enthusiastic, and is too negative now she’s negative.

Bush is a pro-life, pro-tax cuts, pro-gov’t spending, pro-amnesty, pro-Democracy in Iraq (and the ME) … positive president. He’s right on life, taxes and Democracy, wrong on spending and amnesty.

But he’s always pretty positive. And has reason to be, as does the country, although not the journalists.

Both Bush, and perhaps Peggy, should be making jokes about the low low low unemployment, low inflation (small misery index), decreasing budget deficit…
and steady progress in Iraq.

All we have to do in Iraq is continue being willing to fight, and we will certainly win.
Maybe in 10 years. Maybe in 40 years.

Keep fighting …
or lose.
Those are OUR two choices, and also the bad guys.

But, as the Iraqi people get more experience with us and with them, and realize they DO have a choice, more are deciding to take the responsibility to fight against terror.

Noonan feels Iraq is lost, she is wrong. We are, slowly, winning.

Dan, you keep doing fine, and this was another good one. (and I love Peggy…)

[emphasis added]

There is a possible third option: fight and lose.

Mitt Romney

Maybe Mitt Romney started out a clever man, but you can only tell a lie so many times before you start believing it. Mitt Romney is not a flip-flopper; he has sincerely changed his mind, for the worse.

People like Vic Gold thought that Bush was just giving the evangelicals words. They were wrong. Let’s not take that chance again.

Romney is not the least bad option; he is just as bad as the rest of them.

Communism and neoconservatism

Conservatives like to trot out the example of the USSR when they say that communism doesn’t work. They laugh at the whiners who say that it was the execution, not the idea, that failed.

Strangely enough, the simple example of Iraq doesn’t similarly discredit neoconservatism. They blame the execution of the war, even though it was flawed from the beginning.

Neoconservatives would use a hammer to conduct surgery and when the patient dies, they’d complain that the doctor didn’t hit hard enough.

My Idea of Sacrifice

Geeze, don’t you morons see that if we leave Iraq, a civil war will break out. We’ll have Muslim fighting Muslim and then oil prices will go up (which I don’t really understand since they’re both on the side of evil). Good thing we can send our soldiers there to die in a far-away sectarian conflict. Otherwise, we might have to pay more for gas, and that’s a sacrifice I’m not willing to make.

End the war

I heard this morning on the radio that Nancy Pelosi was giving a speech and then hecklers started shouting, “Impeach Bush” or something like that. It gave me an idea: We should go to every politician’s speech and shout, “End the war!”

The time for decorum is over. We should disrupt them at every chance, so they can’t ignore us.

A Hidden Assumption

You know what? I just realized that I have always assumed that politics and my real self would never actually mix. I had just assumed that honesty and politics were mutually exclusive. Maybe it’s true on some level, in this poisoned political environment.

But the disgusting rhetoric and outright lies are threatening to destroy the republic.  For politics, the truth is now more necessary than ever.

If I truly wish to devote myself to country, then I must also devote myself to truth. So if you ever catch me not being truthful, remind me of this.

In Celebration of the 4th of July

Since today is Independence Day, I urge you to read Langston Hughes’s Let America Be America Again. It is the greatest poem about America — actually, the greatest poem period.

This is probably in violation of copyright, but I can’t help but give an excerpt of the end:

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!

Welcome to WordPress

I’ve switched over to WordPress. I need to do some work to fix all those dead links, though.

UPDATE: Changed theme. Wow, this is so much easier than MT. I think I’ll use this as a base for edits, which I probably won’t have time for today.

UPDATE: MT redirect successful! At least, for individual entries. Some of my old, old links are date-based. I’ll be fixing those later.

UPDATE: Okay, now the months aren’t working. Arg.

I guess it’s wordpress time

Alright, I created new databases. I deleted all the old folders. Then, put in all the new stuff. The only thing I think I forgot to delete were some of the files in the home directory.

But honestly, I can’t even figure out how MT managed to revert me back to January 30th, yet again! And all the old side navigation bars showed up! I mean, the whole left column reappears, along with the old bio. I don’t even know where that fucking data comes from!