Hey, all those Verschärfte Vernehmungen (“enhanced interrogations”) don’t actually seem to be doing us any good: WASHINGTON — As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of specialists advising the intelligence agencies argue that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish, and unreliable. The psychologists and other specialists, commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board, make the case that more than five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush administration has yet to create an elite corps of interrogators trained to glean secrets from terror suspects. While billions are spent each year to upgrade satellites and other high-tech spy machinery, the specialists say, interrogation methods — possibly the most important source of information on groups like Al Qaeda — are a hodgepodge that date from the 1950s, or are modeled on old Soviet practices. Amazing. We’ve literally gone Soviet. But they were so competent in so many ways! Now, it wouldn’t matter if we had gotten anything useful out of these techniques. They’re still completely immoral. In fact, their very illegitimacy makes them ineffective: If you’ll do anything to get someone to talk, no surprise when someone will say anything [...]
Twenty seven years is enough to notice the change. I liked rural, space, fresh air and no traffic lights. Then the yuppies moved in. The 40B over-rides forced high density housing in places where the guy in 13 can open his window and spit into the swamp. I can’t remember the year, but it was in the 80′s when the town was ordered to adopt a state-wide accounting system. Well, the system made it vastly easier for the town to hide money and make it totally ambiguous to the voters as to how money was spent and where. I once ran for selectman over the proposed firing of a 29 year veteran town employee. The final straw though is the building inspector is now going about town shutting down businesses. He is after all the “code enforcement authority”. Honestly, I think this attitude we have gotten into. This Homeboy Security crap, this enforcement of the “rules” has gone way over the top. While we may have property “values” in the one million dollar category most of the people here suck.
Yesterday’s LeftAhead was a good one, featuring Sco from .08 Acres and a Donkey, who’s as in tune with the 5th District Race as anyone. He’s on at the half-hour mark, but before then you get to hear my recounting of a crazy (literally) hearing at the State House yesterday – and we chat up on all this casino business. Listen in, it’s available to download or you can just go onto our BlogLeft page.
From Casey: Q: Could you talk about what?s going on with UMass and Jack Wilson? Could we get a comment on that? Patrick: “I respect the president?s right and authority to make personnel decisions. I understand that there’s some feeling on at least the UMass Amherst campus that President Wilson did not consult broadly enough in advance. But, in terms of his authority to make those calls, I respect that right.” Well, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the whole system reorganization, is it? I can’t imagine that the governor actually has no control over the entire reorganization of the university system. Goodness, for all that the UMass is supposed to be insulated from politics, it’s been a playground for lobbyists and Bulgers and Meehans. Should Patrick now insert himself into this? Hey, by our present standards, why not? Or maybe we need new standards, which are supposed to be the current standards. I guess we’ll get more on Friday, when Patrick delivers his education plan at the UMass Boston graduation.
Earlier today I visited the State House to sit in on the hearing on Election Day Registration. ( House bill 646 / Senate bill 446 ) before the election laws committee to begin. My aim is to give you as accurate a picture of what has been said at the hearing as I can. That’s what citizen reporting is all about, right? Unfortunately, it appears the building is not equipped with wireless for the public otherwise this would have been a live blog. (Consider this a call for wireless at the State House!)
Full disclosure: Avi Green of MassVote asked me to blog the hearing, but other than that I do not work for and am neither paid by nor interning/volunteering for MassVote. I also apologize in advance if somebody thinks I mischaracterized what was said–feel free to correct me in the comments. Also, take a look at Cam Kerry?s excellent post about Election Day Registration to learn about why it?s a great idea. These are my notes, and it was often hard to hear people as I was in the back and speakers were facing away from me.
This post is great for those of you have never been to a public hearing at the state house, folks who care about Election Day Registration, and those interested in State House news.
Main points: 1) The number of cases of voter fraud are in the teens overall. In Minnesota 73,000 people voted using Election Day Registration in 2004 alone. In other words, you?ve got a better shot of being struck by lightning than having voter fraud occur because of EDR. 2) As Cam Kerry and countless others today pointed out, it hurts when you get fewer votes than George Bush. But it hurts our society even more when you get fewer votes than the winner of American Idol. 3) Youth, transient people, elderly, and minorities all vote more with EDR 4) The states with EDR have upwards of 10-12% more voter turnout 5) This is not a partisan issue.
This post is based off of my notes (sometimes I change to present tense). I wound up with 10 pages of notes from the whole hearing–if you really want a detailed play by play, comment and I’ll email you them — you’ll feel like you were there!
Follow me after the flip to read the meat of the hearing!
So which would be worse: if the governor repealed the excise tax on the Bentleys and other high-end custom cars that his rich buddies drive, or if he were so incompetent that Massachusetts’s richest drivers got a tax break accidentally? If you guessed for the latter, you’d be describing Mitt Romney: BOSTON — Some luxury and customized car owners got a free ride when it came to paying their local excise taxes thanks to a cost-cutting attempt by former Governor Mitt Romney. The glitch, which undertaxed at least 124,000 owners of Bentleys, motor homes, and customized vehicles statewide, added up to $6.5 million meant for cities and towns…. The hiccup occurred in 2003 when Romney reassigned some employees at the registry of Motor Vehicles, said RMV head Anne Collins…. Romney reassigned the workers who had filled in the manual values, and the vehicles were either given a default value or no value at all. Funny how Romney’s screw-ups never end up helping the little guy. (From the Sentinel and Enterprise) Cross posted at NoDrumlins.
Fred Thompson, the former US Senator from Tennessee and fixture on TV’s “Law and Order,” is forming a presidential exploratory committee, and will likely announce his candidacy for president soon — possibly on July 4. Thompson’s experience, professional skill in front of the cameras, and folksy appeal make him a player right away, though he obviously must play catch-up in terms of fundraising and of lining up endorsements and influential staff. His announcement has got to be considered bad news for Mitt Romney, who was starting to gain traction in Iowa polls in light of his profligate spending in that state and some stumbles by previous front-runner Rudy Giuliani.
As noted earlier, Democracy for America is spearheading a campaign to build support for the well-deserved impeachment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It’s now clear that President Bush isn’t going to fire him, and Gonzales isn’t going to resign on his own. The Congress needs to act. The petition, which you can and should sign at ImpeachGonzales.org, has over 60,000 signatories. It’s now time to let the members of the House Judiciary Committee (which is where impeachment would originate) know how you feel. The full list of members is here. Of particular importance for Bay Staters: Marty Meehan, Massachusetts (202) 225-3411 Bill Delahunt, Massachusetts (202) 225-3111 Also, part 2 of the video is now online (you can see part 1 here). Part 2:
On this day in 1971, according to the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities: Over 450 anti-war protesters occupied the historic Lexington Green and refused to leave. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War had organized a three-day march from Concord to Boston — Paul Revere’s route in reverse. According to Lexington’s by-laws, no one was allowed on the Green after 10 PM, so the selectmen denied the protesters permission to camp there. With many townspeople supporting the veterans, an emergency town meeting was held. When no agreement was reached, the veterans and their Lexington supporters decided to remain on the Green. At 3 AM on Sunday morning, they were all arrested in the largest mass arrest in Massachusetts history. After being tried, convicted, and fined $5.00 each, they continued their march to Boston. Hindsight has shown that the Vietnam Veterans Against the War were right — and the intolerant and reactionary Lexington selectmen tragically wrong. If the U.S. had ended its support for the South Vietnamese government in 1971, rather than waiting to be thrown out in 1975, our interests would have been better served. The same lesson applies today: instead of increasing the number of troops in Vietraq, and spending [...]
Cam’s states the following in his BMG post. “The main substantive argument against [same day registration] has been concern about voter fraud. But voter fraud — impersonating a voter or casting a vote if you are not eligible — is already a felony in Massachusetts punishable by up to five years and a $10,00 fine.” That is like saying we will have a law that forbids homeowners from locking there houses when they travel. All doors and windows remain unlocked. All alarms turned off. And telling the world about it. Even burglars. No need to worry. There already is a law against burglary. HUH?