Saturday, April 19, 2008

I At Least Am Blessed


Someone who was briefly a client, a faux bishop, identified me as the messiah. And now this. Yes, I am in some manner, blessed. (I am, but that's another story entirely.)

More TV Like They Don't Make Anymore

Talk shows where the guest came on to talk and entertain, not hawk and shill....

TV Like They Don't Make Anymore; Our Loss

Return now to the days of yesteryear....

Approaching Decrepitude

As I age, I'm finally fining the Three Stooges somewhat amusing; funny must be coming....

Here's just about their last film:

The Money Wasted On Iraq

The Genius Of The World's Smartest Misogynist

Obviously, this asshole is headed for a prominent position in the coming McCain administration.
We receive a lot of hate email here at Feministing, and this one was too good not to share.
Men are better than women look at the comparison in IQ men are scientifically proven to have a higher IQ by roughly 5 points, or 5% you cannot dispute science sorry and if you want a much better website than your shitty one you might want to go to [redacted]. I think you would gain a lot more knowledge from that website and you might learn about the truth that way you would not be so stupid and ignorant you stupid cunts.
Apparently that extra five percent doesn't help prevent run-on sentences. You would also think that those extra brain power percentage points would stop a dude from sending harassing emails from his school email address. Because then we wouldn't know that our charming admirer is the public relations officer (yes, public relations) of the Southern Illinois University College Republicans, Alex Kochno. I think I'll stick with my stupid cunt lady brain, thanks very much.

Where Nearly All The World's Art Comes From

Dafen is a village surrounded by the thriving metropolis of Shenzhen, and the origin of most of the world’s reproduction oil paintings. In the popular imagination Dafen’s artists produce anonymous works for unknown customers, operating no differently than a faceless factory churning out counterfeits, replicas and nothing close to what would be considered art.

My Life

Friday, April 18, 2008

Yes, Why?

Actually, the answer's obvious but too depressing to acknowledge.
The news that David Vitter may soon be called to testify at the trial of Deborah Jean Palfrey -- more commonly known as "the D.C. madam" -- serves as an important reminder: He's still in office. And, really, in light of the bipartisan frenzy to expel Eliot Spitzer from the governorship when his ties to the Emperor's Club were revealed, you've got to wonder why.

It was last July that we first learned that Vitter's name and phone number were part of Palfrey's client records between 1999 and 2001. The revelation came just after the statute of limitations had expired, and the Louisiana senator escaped legal liability. Instead, he acknowledged committing "a very serious sin in my past" and declared the matter settled on the grounds that he had "asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife."

Initially, there was some clamor for Vitter's resignation, but he rode the storm out until the news media's interest in the case dissipated, something that took about a week. Now, nine months later, Palfrey's lawyers have included his name on a list of defense witnesses at her trial, raising the possibility that he will be forced to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Again, there are some calls for him to go; but again, he figures to ride the storm out. He won't face the voters until 2010.

That's a far cry from the price that Spitzer paid for committing, essentially, the same crime. It was a matter of days from the first reports of his high-priced hook habit last month to his resignation and, presumably, the end of his political career. Vitter's return to the news in the wake of Spitzer's fall highlights the fact that the Louisiana senator has, so far, gotten away with it.

Yes, it's true that the practical realities of politics account for some of the disparity between Spitzer's punishment and Vitter's. Spitzer was the central political figure in a large state, vested with a level of day-to-day responsibility and subject to a degree of scrutiny that far exceeded anything ever confronted by Vitter, a legislative backbencher. The distraction of a sex scandal called into question Spitzer's ability to govern effectively. Vitter's ability to cast floor votes and to show up for committee hearings, it could be argued, was not similarly compromised -- although he failed to perform either function for a few days when the scandal first broke.

And it's also true that there are technical, legal differences between the cases. Vitter, as far as anyone knows, was caught too late to be prosecuted; Spitzer's actions fell well within the statute of limitations. Plus, Spitzer, because his hooker traveled from New York to Washington for their rendezvous, was in violation of the obscure Mann Act, a rarely enforced 100-year-old statute that makes it a federal crime to traffic a prostitute across state lines.

But these differences are not very meaningful. After all, would those who urgently and heatedly called for Spitzer's head have really felt any different if the tryst had taken place in Syracuse instead of Washington (meaning that no federal crime would have been committed)?

What is significant is the common ground between each man's transgressions, both legally and morally.

Both, obviously, broke the law in soliciting the services of a sex worker. And since both utilized escort services -- for Spitzer it was the Emperor's Club; for Vitter, Pamela Martin and Associates -- they can both be said to have entered into a business relationship with a criminal enterprise.

And both are guilty of profound hypocrisy. Spitzer, as was endlessly noted last month, built his political career -- and his landslide election campaign in 2006 -- on his "Mr. Clean" image -- he was the ramrod straight law-and-order man who would bring some much-needed adult supervision to Albany. There's also the fact that, in one of his headline-grabbing maneuvers as New York's attorney general, he had very publicly taken down an upstate prostitution ring. That only made it too easy to gin up public outrage when Spitzer's own off-hour habits were revealed.

"The reality is that no one, over the years, has been more self-righteous and unforgiving than Eliot Spitzer," said an opportunistic Peter King, the Republican congressman from Long Island who is now eyeing a potential gubernatorial bid in 2010.

But Vitter's hypocrisy was just as galling as Spitzer's. The young senator, first elected in 2004, built his political rise on his image as a Christian conservative and champion of "traditional" family values, tirelessly using his wife and children as campaign props and loudly decrying those who didn't meet his standard for moral purity. (He once likened same-sex marriage to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.)

Spitzer lost his job, and he probably deserved to. But as David Vitter nervously waits to find out if he'll have to come face to face with the D.C. madam in a D.C. courtroom, it's fair to ask: Why hasn't he paid the same price?

Freedom On The March!

The government plans to begin collecting DNA samples from anyone arrested by a federal law enforcement agency — a move intended to prevent violent crime but which also is raising concerns about the privacy of innocent people.

Imagine: Punished for being busted, whether or not actually guilty of anything... other than being arrested.

Wanted Dead Or Alive? Beloved Leader Has Dropped It

Even as it faces an enduring terrorist threat and rising violence in Afghanistan, the Bush administration has failed to develop a comprehensive plan to eliminate al Qaida and its sanctuary in Pakistan's remote tribal region, the investigative arm of Congress said Thursday.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office's scathing report says that the administration has relied too heavily on Pakistani security forces to deal with a major U.S. national-security problem.

The report comes as Pakistan's recently elected civilian government formulates a new approach to curbing terrorism from that of the former military regime, including less reliance on force, a reduced U.S. role and negotiations with militant groups.

Majority congressional Democrats seized on the findings to renew charges that the Bush administration, which has called Iraq the main front in the fight against terrorism, has failed to deal responsibly with the primary terrorist threat to the United States.

"It is appalling that there is still no comprehensive, interagency strategy concerning this critical region, and this lack of foresight is harming U.S. national security," said Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, which requested the report.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe disputed the GAO's conclusion, saying the administration was tackling terrorism in Pakistan with "a variety of means across the political, economic and security fronts."

President Bush and his senior aides say that their top national-security priority is eliminating the threat posed by bin Laden's al Qaida network and other Islamic terrorist groups from their sanctuary on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

But the GAO report says that the United States has no plan that "includes all elements of national power — diplomatic, military, intelligence, development assistance, economic and law enforcement support — called for by the various national-security strategies and Congress."

"The United States has not met its national security goals to destroy the terrorist threat and close the safe haven in Pakistan's FATA region," it says, referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Pakistan has refused to allow large-scale U.S. military operations in the tribal areas, an impoverished Massachusetts-size region of mountains and valleys inhabited by deeply conservative Pashtun tribes.

Bin Laden, his core followers and other foreign extremists, as well as the Afghan Taliban, established training camps and bases in the region after fleeing the 2001 U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan. Pakistani militant groups also have gained sanctuaries from which they have launched dozens of suicide bombings.

Al Qaida has used its haven to support the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan against U.S.-led NATO forces and President Hamid Karzai's government. Recent studies say the level of violence for the first quarter of this year is as high or higher than it was during the same period in 2007.

The Bush administration has relied primarily on the Pakistani military to crush the militants, the report says.

It's made only limited efforts to deal with "other underlying causes of terrorism in the FATA by providing development assistance or by addressing FATA's political needs," the report says.

About 96 percent of some $5.8 billion that the United States provided to Pakistan for addressing the problem in the tribal areas and adjoining districts from 2002 to 2007 has gone to reimbursing the Pakistani military for its operations, according to the report.

But Pakistan, which deployed 120,000 troops and paramilitary forces in the rugged region, has failed to eliminate al Qaida and allied militants based there even though it's killed and captured hundreds of extremists while losing about 1,400 of its own forces.

The report makes no mention of periodic strikes on suspected al Qaida targets by unmanned U.S. aircraft.

Many experts and tribal leaders contend that large numbers of civilian casualties caused by Pakistani and U.S. operations in the tribal areas are a major reason that al Qaida and other extremist groups have continued to find sanctuary and recruits in the region.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf asked Bush in March 2006 to support "a more comprehensive approach" that included economic development such as constructing roads and schools, the report says.

Yet senior diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad told the GAO that they had "not received a comprehensive plan from the CIA, Defense, State, the NCTC (National Counter-Terrorism Center), the NSC (National Security Council), the White House or any other executive department," the report says.

The U.S. Embassy decided to coordinate American support for the nine-year, $2 billion Pakistani strategy calling for economic development and security assistance as well as extending the country's political and legal systems to the tribal areas.

The White House and key U.S. agencies, however, have yet to approve the approach, which would constitute "the U.S. government's first attempt" to harness key aspects of American power other than military force on the problem, the report says.

But why believe me? Here's the damn report.

Way to go, Beloved Leader!

A Milestone Of GOP Corruption

Keep in mind, Young didn't just author the earmark, he put into a transportation bill after it had been passed by both chambers of Congress. As recently as February, Young said this wasn't his fault.
The rest is here.

And what will the future bring?

The Saint loves earmarks even if he disses them.
When presenting hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts this week, John McCain and his campaign said the cuts wouldn't necessarily worsen the deficit. The key, they said, is McCain's commitment to cutting spending by eliminating congressional earmarks.

On its face, the claim is simply foolish. Even if McCain could eliminate the entire practice of placing earmarks in spending bills -- a dubious proposition -- Taxpayers for Common Sense did an exhaustive review of the 2008 expenditures and found $18.3 billion in earmarks. With McCain's tax cuts poised to cost about 22 times that much, the "solution" isn't exactly budget neutral.

But this gets even more entertaining when we take a closer look at what's included among the earmarks McCain plans to eliminate.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has long portrayed himself as a staunch supporter of Israel. "Obviously," McCain has said, "I have been a very strong proponent to the State of Israel." He recently told the Jewish Journal that if elected president, he would "hit the ground running" and immediately get involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

It is astounding then that McCain has essentially vowed to eliminate U.S. funding assistance for Israel.
As it turns out, McCain economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said McCain, if elected, would eliminate earmarks based on the definition used by the Congressional Research Service. And that includes, among other things, "economic and military aid to Israel."

Confronted with the implications of McCain's proposal, his campaign said earmarked aid to Israel wouldn't count.

It's a reminder of why it's difficult to take McCain seriously on matters of public policy. Pressed for details on what he believes, McCain a) loves vague generalities; b) gets easily confused; or c) decides his commitments are a lot more flexible than he'd like us to believe.

As for earmarks, he's embraced a simplistic maxim: earmarks = waste. Confronted with evidence to the contrary, his opposition wanes. But therein lies the point -- every earmark has a purpose and supporters who can defend it.

Where will McCain draw the line? He doesn't know. How much will it save? He doesn't know. When can we expect more concrete answers? He doesn't know.

Post Script: Just as an aside, if Dems really wanted to be aggressive, for the rest of the year, they'd argue, "McCain said, if elected, he would cut off aid to Israel, but later changed his mind." Just sayin'.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Remember Condi? U.S. Secretary Of State?

Yeah, Why?

Are Americans unusually stupid or is it something our president put in the water? ? As millions surrender their homes and sacrifice other standards of our nation’s economic and political reputation to the caprice of the Bush-Cheney imperium, a majority of voters tell pollsters that they might vote for a candidate who promises more of the same.

Assuming that likely voters are not now thinking of yet another Republican president simply because John McCain is the only white guy left standing—an excuse as pathetic in its logic as the decision four years ago to return two Texas oil hustlers to the White House because they were not Massachusetts liberals—must mean that tens of millions of Americans have taken leave of their senses.

If not the white-guy syndrome, why would even a shocking minority of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama supporters say they prefer McCain to the other Democrat? How otherwise to explain the nation’s widespread bipartisan rejection of the Bush presidency and yet a willingness to let McCain continue in that vein?

To be sure, as a senator, McCain has exhibited flashes of independence on behalf of taxpayers, as in his support of campaign-finance reform in which he partnered with Democrat Russ Feingold. McCain’s investigations of the military-industrial complex’s shameless exploitation of terrorism fears set a high standard, as in exposing the air-tanker scandal that dispatched a Boeing exec and a former Pentagon employee to prison. But his political ambition is showing. Although he previously harshly criticized the enormous waste in the Iraq occupation, today, as a presidential candidate, he opens the door to a hundred years of taxpayer dollars tossed down the drain in Iraq. The man who was tortured now hugs a leader who authorized the same.

By so unabashedly embracing the most glaringly failed U.S. president ever, McCain has surrendered the right to be considered an independent candidate, judged on his own merits and personal history. A vote for McCain is a vote for that rancid recipe mixing religious bigotry, imperial arrogance and corporate greed that he had stood against in the run-up to the 2000 presidential election when he challenged George W. Bush, but to which he now has capitulated.

Too harsh? Then consider just how tight the space is between the rocks of our failed Mideast policy and the hard place of our impending financial disaster. The sudden out-of-control spike in the cost of oil—the key short-term market variable, the specter that stokes inflation fear and limits moves to avoid recession—is not a natural disaster or in any realistic way the result of inefficiency in the use of energy. What more than doubled the price of petroleum in the short run was not that too many of us bought Hummers, but rather that the political stability of the region that contains the bulk of that oil was deliberately and recklessly roiled.

In the name of fighting the 9/11 terrorists, the Bush administration overthrew the one Arab government most adamantly opposed to the Saudi financiers of that son of their system, Osama bin Laden. Instead of confronting the royal leaders of a kingdom that supplied 15 of the 19 hijackers, we invaded a nation that supplied not a single one. While Bush overthrew Saddam Hussein, who had no ties to the hijackers, he embraced the leaders of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the only three nations in the world that had diplomatically recognized and supported the Taliban sponsors of al-Qaida.

Consider that historical marker at a time when the UAE and Saudi Arabia bankers are buying major positions in distressed U.S. financial and other key corporate institutions. I know, it all sounds too conspiratorial, like imagining that we might wake up from this national nightmare and discover that the CEO of Halliburton, who replaced Dick Cheney when the latter selected himself to be Bush’s vice president, now has his headquarters in Dubai, tucked safely into the obscenely oil-revenue-rich UAE that our troops were sent to Iraq to protect.

There is no national outrage, or even seriously sustained media interest, over the fact that Cheney’s old company profited enormously from ripping off U.S. tax dollars going into the Iraq occupation. Nor is there even much curiosity about the shenanigans of Halliburton, which is doing business with Arab oil sheiks at a time when the U.S. banks these Middle Eastern oil interests bought into are moving to foreclose on American homeowners.

It’s just the sort of egregious betrayal of the trust of the taxpayers that Sen. McCain would have gone after, before he sought to don the soiled robes of the Bush presidency.

How The Fuckers Do It

It was inevitable for Barack Obama to beat a retreat from his recent remarks about his difficulty in reaching Pennsylvania’s working-class voters. The railroad, coal and steel jobs that once fueled the Pennsylvania economy have declined dramatically for several decades. Obama noted that the frustrations and anger of working-class families determined and dominated their voting beliefs. “It’s not surprising, then,” he said, “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Our intrepid media, always anxious to find mountains where molehills exist, declared a state of war, signaling Hillary Clinton to do her thing. The cable networks, particularly MSNBC, which barring a weather calamity or a missing child, seems to report politics to the exclusion of everything else, were in battle mode, anxious for what some called a “full-blown political disaster.” And they certainly tried for one. Clinton predictably blasted Obama, saying she was “taken aback” by his “demeaning remarks,” which, she told Indianapolis plant workers, were “elitist and out of touch.” This from Wellesley’s and the Yale Law School’s finest. With a $100 million-plus income.

And so the Obama retreat: “If I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that,” Obama said in an interview later as the story flamed, threatening to ignite our cable lines. “I didn’t say it as well as I should have,” the senator remarked. At first, it had appeared he would not back off. That same morning he told a Muncie, Ind., town hall meeting his remarks could have been better phrased, but he maintained they were what “everybody knows is true.” He amplified his earlier remarks, saying that “what is absolutely true is that people don’t feel like they are being listened to.” Still, he succumbed and we received his sort-of-apology.

Clinton eagerly grasped another straw in the battle for the superdelegates she hoped would rescue her candidacy. No more sniper fire for her as she sent up a fusillade: “People don’t need a president who looks down on them,” she said. “They need a president who stands up for them.” Now, perhaps she had gained some control over her campaign. When Bill Clinton was asked that day at a rally in North Carolina about Obama’s remarks, the former president passively (or passively aggressively?) replied, “I agree with what Hillary said.” We shouldn’t parse that too much.

The sound and fury of course signifies nothing—other than the media’s innate desire to create a story and demean the political discourse they supposedly are to report. Within the confines of a private exchange between the two, Obama’s remarks undoubtedly would have had Clinton head-nodding in agreement. Obama offered a clever—but hardly original—insight into the psychology of folks depressed for decades or forced to live on the margin. The only story in this affair is one the media concocted, their self-fulfilling “full-blown political disaster,” and one neatly made to order for Clinton. Thus another media happening, created and nurtured by a media anxious for bigger coverage, even when it amounts to peanuts.

The media are the self-appointed arbiters of our political discourse. By their rules, candor is wholly unwelcome. They cannot or will not abide complexity. And thus, the sound bite is the story.

No media account provided any discussion whatsoever to weigh the possibility of a more thoughtful consideration of Obama’s remarks. Could he have had a useful insight? None of our talking heads, our “strategists” and “pundits,” probed Obama’s meaning, his motivation—or, heaven forbid, the possibility he might have been right. Instead, the media cavalierly dismissed his remarks as offensive and demeaning—and worst of all, tarred them with the brush of elitism. Obama provided cannon fodder to sustain the media’s reason for their self-defined existence. They believe their mission is to find drama, conflict and controversy—but hey!—what about understanding?

By the new week, MSNBC was talking about “journalistic standards” and Dr. Phil. And then Obama characterized Clinton as “Annie Oakley,” following her revelation (what did we know all these years?) that she learned to shoot a gun as a child. Where will that go? Somewhere, you can be sure. In the meantime, why aren’t we discussing the administration’s torture policy—or its proposed status-of-forces agreement with Iraq? Or are such stories too complex? The media are killing us.

Video Of The Day

Movie probably is dumb as mud but this is damn pretty, and rocks.


The FBI lied.

Neanderthals -- Our Ancestors -- Speak


The Truth About The Rebelling Robots Of Iraq

Last Wednesday, we ran an analysis from the 2008 RoboBusiness Conference in Pittsburgh that included a comment from an Army Program Manager, Kevin Fahey, about the SWORDS armed unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) system. This program, which resulted in the first armed UGVs to be deployed—specifically, three were deployed in Iraq in June 2007—has been the subject of considerable online rumors, after reports surfaced that the program was in trouble. It’s a hot topic for tech bloggers and anyone interested in the future of military robots. Which is probably why our story traveled so fast online—and a big reason why we put SWORDS on the cover of Popular Mechanics earlier this year.

It might also explain why our story was taken so blatantly out of context. What began as a straightforward update about the state of the SWORDS system was repurposed and sensationalized as breaking news about the sudden withdrawal of those three armed robots deployed in Iraq—and as several breaking follow-up reports. Qinetiq, the UK-based company that owns SWORDS-maker Foster-Miller, is disturbed about coverage of our piece, particularly because it appears to be fueling the urban legend of a rogue SWORDS suddenly aiming at hapless humans. But it’s not Popular Mechanics that is stoking the fire.

Fahey’s comments about SWORDS, particularly his quoted statement that “the gun started moving when it was not intended to move” was not pulled from a sit-down interview with Popular Mechanics. PM’s requests for interviews to find out why SWORDS has never fired a shot at a hostile target, despite being in Iraq since last summer, have all been denied by Qinetiq and Foster-Miller. Fahey was answering a question following his keynote presentation at the RoboBusiness Conference, which other members of the press attended. When an audience member asked what happened to SWORDS, Fahey’s response was vague, and there was no indication of a timeline in his comments. So the unintended movement he mentioned could have occurred before or after the robot’s deployment in Iraq. Still, any answer regarding SWORDS is worth noting, which is why we were suddenly glad to be at an otherwise uneventful robotics conference in western Pennsylvania.

The other Fahey comment we quoted—“once you’ve done something that’s really bad, it can take 10 or 20 years to try it again”—appeared to be in the context of why he believes the military has treaded so lightly with armed ground robots. Let’s be clear: Fahey was not stating that a SWORDS unit made a blunder that it will take 10 or 20 years to recover from. If anything, Fahey was trying to express the exact opposite: The goal is to avoid an incident that could set military robotics back a decade or more.

Rather than rehashing the history of the SWORDS program and its apparent difficulties, we treated this story as a minor update to the ongoing saga of armed military ground bots. We said that SWORDS was “yanked,” and that the three robots were “pulled off the battlefield.” Without additional clarification, those sentences were picked up by bloggers looking for a more solid update, and the story took on a mutated life all its own.

Officially, the three SWORDS units deployed to Iraq are still there. While working on that cover story about armed UGVs for PM’s March issue, we spoke to sources about the decision not to use the weapons capabilities of those SWORDS units, but no one was willing to be quoted. This is a sensitive issue for the entire industry. When we stated that the robots were pulled off the battlefield, we were talking about their potential use as armed participants in firefights. Qinetiq had no comment about reports that SWORDS units were no longer intended to be used to engage the enemy, and Foster-Miller directed us to the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office. Duane Gotvald, deputy project manager at that office, sent this statement via e-mail:
The Special Weapons Observation Remote Direct-Action System (SWORDS) capability is in theater. The SWORDS robot represents a new technological concept currently in the developmental stage. Three robots have been built so far; and while there has been considerable interest in fielding the system, some technical issues still remain and SWORDS is not currently funded. The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division has used the robots for surveillance and peacekeeping/guard operations. The robot is armed with Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), M249 Light Machine Gun, and has not yet been used with this weapon in combat.

The fact that SWORDS lost its funding after just three units were deployed is, to us, the definition of a program that was “yanked.” Some bloggers used our shorthand to drum up a new SWORDS-related event. In addition, we did not state that SWORDS had pointed a gun at anyone, but that’s how some commentators have recast the story. Every UGV maker we’ve spoken to has stressed the importance of having a “man in the loop” when dealing with armed robots. As Predator drones have proven, an unmanned vehicle is capable of friendly fire, but the decision to engage will always be made by a human operator.

When Qinetiq contacted us about the article, we asked for an official statement to post about the status of SWORDS. It’s essentially the same information that has been released previously about SWORDS, and recently posted by Danger Room, but here it is, in the company’s words:

• SWORDS is currently deployed in Iraq, and has been there uninterrupted for almost a year.
• There have been no instances of uncommanded or unexpected movements by SWORDS during this period, whether in-theatre or elsewhere. A few years ago during the robot’s development, there were three minor movement issues that were expected, identified and addressed during rigorous stateside testing—prior to the Army’s Safety Confirmation back in 2006. Here is what actually happened:
- One uncommanded movement was caused by a loose wire (result: redundant wiring on every circuit).
- One was caused by a solder break (result: double solder).
- The third, which may not even count, was a test of the robot sitting on a 45-degree incline in 90-degree heat to see how long it would last. After about two hours and 30 minutes, the motor started to overheat and shut down so it wouldn’t burn out. That caused SWORDS to start to slide backward down the incline. The operator stopped it.

Any comments made after this timeframe about setbacks related to the robotics industry were hypothetical—never in response to some nonexistent SWORDS incident after the Safety Confirmation.

Although others have used our story to generate a false online rumor about these armed UGVs, the nature of those “technical issues” that Gotvald mentioned in his statement, and that Qinetiq and Foster-Miller have yet to address directly, remains a mystery. Until someone can explain why SWORDS lost its funding, and what exactly it is—and isn’t—being used for in Iraq, the rumors are likely to continue. If this is the dawn of the era of robotic infantry, things are off to a decidedly rocky start. —Erik Sofge
UPDATE (April 15): We just received a statement from Robert Quinn, vice president of TALON Robot Operations for Foster-Miller, in response to our query concerning any withdrawal of funding for SWORDS—and whether the robot's weapons would be used in live combat against hostile targets:
There was no withdrawal of funds. The government funded three robots. In answer to the second part of your question, Foster-Miller cannot comment on operational tactics for obvious reasons.

Micro$oft's Idea Of Entertainment

Practically The Latest Flip-Flop From The Saint Of Straight-Talk (So Characterized By A Besotted Big Media)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was less than forthcoming on Tuesday about "rogue-state rollback," a policy he championed during his 2000 presidential campaign.

"I wasn't saying that we should go around and declare war," said McCain. "I was saying that we nations of like values and principles and belief in democracy and freedom should make efforts to modify the behavior of other nations."

McCain's claim, which he made on Hardball's "College Tour," is directly at odds with the description of "rogue-state rollback" that the Arizona senator offered during his 2000 presidential campaign.

While participating in a Republican debate moderated by CNN's Larry King on Feb. 15, 2000, the candidates were asked: "What area of American international policy would you change immediately as president?"

"I'd institute a policy that I call 'rogue state rollback,'" said McCain. "I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically- elected governments."

"As long as Saddam Hussein is in power," he added, "I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security."

And here's a handy-list of flip-flops just in case this is, you know, an aberration instead of business as usual:
* McCain pledged in February 2008 that he would not, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Specifically, McCain was asked if he is a “‘read my lips’ candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?” referring to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 pledge. “No new taxes,” McCain responded. Two weeks later, McCain said, “I’m not making a ‘read my lips’ statement, in that I will not raise taxes.”

* McCain claims to have considered and not considered joining John Kerry’s Democratic ticket in 2004.

* In 1998, he championed raising cigarette taxes to fund programs to cut underage smoking, insisting that it would prevent illnesses and provide resources for public health programs. Now, McCain opposes a $0.61-per-pack tax increase, won’t commit to supporting a regulation bill he’s co-sponsoring, and has hired Philip Morris’ former lobbyist as his senior campaign adviser.

* McCain’s first mortgage plan was premised on the notion that homeowners facing foreclosure shouldn’t be “rewarded” for acting “irresponsibly.” His second mortgage plan took largely the opposite position.

* McCain vowed, if elected, to balance the federal budget by the end of his first term. Soon after, he decided he would no longer even try to reach that goal.

* McCain’s campaign unveiled a Social Security policy that the senator would implement if elected, which did not include a Bush-like privatization scheme. In March 2008, McCain denounced his own campaign’s policy.

* In February 2008, McCain reversed course on prohibiting waterboarding.

* In November 2007, McCain reversed his previous position on a long-term presence for U.S. troops in Iraq, arguing that the “nature of the society in Iraq” and the “religious aspects” of the country make it inevitable that the United States “eventually withdraws.” Two months later, McCain reversed back, saying he’s prepared to leave U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 years.

* McCain used to champion the Law of the Sea convention, even volunteering to testify on the treaty’s behalf before a Senate committee. Now he opposes it.

* McCain was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants’ kids who graduate from high school. Now he’s against it.

* On immigration policy in general, McCain announced in February 2008 that he would vote against his own legislation.

* In 2006, McCain sponsored legislation to require grassroots lobbying coalitions to reveal their financial donors. In 2007, after receiving “feedback” on the proposal, McCain told far-right activist groups that he opposes his own measure.

* McCain said before the war in Iraq, “We will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” Four years later, McCain said he knew all along that the war in Iraq war was “probably going to be long and hard and tough.”

* McCain said he was the “greatest critic” of Rumsfeld’s failed Iraq policy. In December 2003, McCain praised the same strategy as “a mission accomplished.” In March 2004, he said, “I’m confident we’re on the right course.” In December 2005, he said, “Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.”

* McCain went from saying he would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade to saying the exact opposite.

* McCain went from saying gay marriage should be allowed, to saying gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.

* McCain criticized TV preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” in 2002, but then decided to cozy up to the man who said Americans “deserved” the 9/11 attacks.

* McCain used to oppose Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy, but he reversed course in February.

* On a related note, he said 2005 that he opposed the tax cuts because they were “too tilted to the wealthy.” By 2007, he denied ever having said this, and insisted he opposed the cuts because of increased government spending.

* In 2000, McCain accused Texas businessmen Sam and Charles Wyly of being corrupt, spending “dirty money” to help finance Bush’s presidential campaign. McCain not only filed a complaint against the Wylys for allegedly violating campaign finance law, he also lashed out at them publicly. In April, McCain reached out to the Wylys for support.

* McCain supported a major campaign-finance reform measure that bore his name. In June 2007, he abandoned his own legislation.

* McCain opposed a holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., before he supported it.

* McCain was against presidential candidates campaigning at Bob Jones University before he was for it.

* McCain was anti-ethanol. Now he’s pro-ethanol.

* McCain was both for and against state promotion of the Confederate flag.

* McCain decided in 2000 that he didn’t want anything to do with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, believing he “would taint the image of the ‘Straight Talk Express.’” Kissinger is now the Honorary Co-Chair for his presidential campaign in New York.

Now, it’s worth noting that there are worse qualities in a presidential candidate than changing one’s mind about a policy matter or two. McCain has been in Congress for decades; he’s bound to shift now and then on various controversies.

But therein lies the point — McCain was consistent on most of these issues, right up until he started running for president, at which point he conveniently abandoned practically every position he used to hold. The problem isn’t just the incessant flip-flops; it’s the shameless pandering and hollow convictions behind the incessant flip-flops.

What Our Leaders Have Protected Us From

War Room:
There have been a series of alleged terrorist plots that the White House has claimed to have disrupted. Sometimes Bush and his team use these thwarted plots to defend torture, and sometimes it's to defend illegally tapping Americans' phones, but the bottom line is always the same -- there are dangerous bad guys out there, and the president is stopping them.

As it turns out, most of the examples of thwarted plots touted by the Bush gang fall apart under scrutiny, but my all-time favorite has to be the "Seas of David" cult (aka, the "Miami Seven" or the "Liberty City Seven").

When these would-be terrorists were captured, the administration characterized it as an enormous victory. Shortly after the suspects were taken into custody, Dick Cheney personally bragged that the Miami group was "a very real threat." Then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was so excited he held a press conference to highlight this stunning counter-terrorism success story.

The AG said the group represented a "new brand of terrorism" created by "the convergence of globalization and technology." The Justice Department said the terrorists in Miami intended to even blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Except the story was wildly exaggerated -- and juries refuse to give prosecutors a conviction. A deadlocked jury led to a second mistrial today.
Critics have said the administration's efforts to prosecute the men on terror charges undermines its credibility.

Miami law professor and civil rights lawyer Bruce Winick said the defeat was a harsh blow to the Bush administration. "It makes them look bad," said Winick, who has criticized the Liberty City Seven case in the past. "They don't have any credibility... you can't see terrorism under every rock," he said.

The government's case was "more hype than evidence," Neal Sonnett, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, told ABC News recently. It was viable to argue, as the men's lawyers did, that the government informant "created the crime."
Critics' accusations appear to have merit. These alleged terrorists had no weapons, no bombs, no expertise, and no money. They didn't behave or operate as terrorists. They apparently swore an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden, but because an undercover FBI infiltrator suggested the idea. For that matter, despite some reports to the contrary, these guys weren't Muslims, but instead practiced their own hybrid religion that combined Islam and Christianity.

Their "plots" against the United States were "embryonic at best." The New York Daily News described the group, which was more a cult than a terrorist network, as the "7 Boobs." They'd have trouble attacking a convenience store, better yet the Sears Tower.

They were best known in their community for following a leader who would wander around inner-city Miami in a bathrobe.

Something to remember the next time the White House describes something as "a very real threat."

Life In These United States During The Golden Age Brought Us By Our Leaders

Yeah, yeah, it's a cliche but with all this wealth.... Wouldn't it be nice if foster parents would be paid enough to attract a more, well, competent pool?
From age 4, when she was taken from her drug-using mother, until she turned 18 last year and left the foster care system, Sasha Gray moved a total of 42 times. There were emergency shelters, foster homes, group homes, a brief trial with her mother and short stays in psychiatric care because of defiant behavior.

When she complained that a foster father had climbed into her bed in his underwear, she was moved again, but state workers kept placing other children in the same house until the man was arrested for molesting his niece.

“Instead of properly investigating it, they let it slide,” Ms. Gray said. She now lives with an aunt and despite the traumatic churning of homes and “parents,” she finished high school and is studying to be a nurse.

Ms. Gray’s stories of displacement and abuse while in state custody are unusually common in Oklahoma, according to a new lawsuit and many lawyers, foster parents, former foster children, volunteer mentors and even state employees.

Federal data shows that Oklahoma consistently has one of the worst records in the country of documented abuse of children in foster or group homes. In addition to frequent moves and extended stays in overcrowded shelters, the system is short of foster parents, social workers and needed therapies.

All this has exposed many children to lasting psychological damage, including an inability to form emotional bonds, according to the lawsuit, a class-action filed in February by Children’s Rights, an advocacy organization, and several local lawyers.

Child advocates here are using the federal courts, as they have in more than a dozen other states and cities over the last 20 years, to push for an overhaul of the child welfare system. In an inherently difficult field, often plagued by inadequate staffing and financing, such suits have brought major improvements.

Alabama, for example, at the time of a 1988 lawsuit, had one of the worst records of protecting children and preserving families. Last year, 14 years of court monitoring ended after the state quadrupled its spending on child welfare and cut caseloads to 18 from 50.

Ira Lustbader, a lawyer for Children’s Rights, said of Oklahoma, “This is one of the most dangerous systems for kids in custody we’ve ever seen.”

The state’s Department of Human Services is fighting the suit, saying its system, like any other, has strengths and weaknesses. Officials cite their high adoption rate for foster children as a success, for example, though they admit to shortages of social workers and foster parents.

“Oklahoma is very aggressive at protecting children,” said Gary Miller, a former judge who was named director of the child and family services division in March, after the suit was filed.

But Dynda Post, a district judge for three counties northeast of Tulsa, said, “The entire system is broken, and there’s a lack of accountability to the courts.”

“If you order a child to get counseling, say for rape or physical abuse or if they’re mentally challenged, sometimes you see that kid in custody for months with no treatment,” Judge Post said.

And when things go wrong, “no one is accountable,” she said.

If the federal court agrees that the case can proceed, a possible outcome, based on the experiences of other states, is eventual agreement on a court-monitored program of change. The state could be required to hire more caseworkers, for example, and to provide more psychiatric services to parents and children, to improve emergency shelters and to develop a strategy to attract more foster parents.

In Judge Post’s own purview, 3-year-old Blake Ragsdale, who was born addicted to methamphetamine and had cerebral palsy and other serious disorders, died last year during a trial reunification with his mother that state workers had arranged without the required court permission.

Blake had been removed because of his mother’s drug use and neglect. When he was returned to her last year, the state had still not given her special training to meet his medical needs, she was unemployed and had no phone or car — over all, she was “woefully unequipped to take care of Blake’s special medical needs,” the lawsuit says.

State officials said they were doing their best to cope with a rising number of children in the system, nearly 16,000 during the second half of 2007 and nearly 8,000 on any given day.

In a statement, the Human Services Department said its good record of monthly checks on foster families meant that more safety problems were discovered, not that abuses were more frequent than in other states. But many foster parents and children said that monitoring records were often falsified by harried workers or that untrained aides made visits.

“I went years without seeing a caseworker,” Ms. Gray said, adding that in one four-month period she was assigned three different workers.

The threat to children is broader than records indicate, critics say, including three state workers who spoke anonymously to protect their jobs. The suit describes an 11-month-old girl, identified as C.S., who was taken soon after birth from a drug-addicted mother and has lived in 17 homes, shelters and hospitals since then.

At one point, she was placed with a relative, who threw her against a wall and fractured her skull, the lawsuit says. Many placements later, she had respiratory disease, and a foster parent had her tested for allergies and discovered that she had multiple sensitivities, including to cats and dogs. The household had pets, so she was moved again.

One reason for the foster-parent shortage is the state’s low payments. But more important, foster parents say, is frustration.

“Great foster parents will identify a child’s needs, call D.H.S. for help and get nothing back,” said Anne B. Sublett, president of a lawyers’ group in Tulsa that represents foster children in court.

Caseworkers, who are supposed to monitor foster homes regularly and connect children with services, often have more than 50 clients, compared with the 12 to 15 recommended by professional groups.

Because the work is stressful and the pay is low, starting at $26,000, turnover is high and many case workers are young and inexperienced.

Many states keep emergency homes on call, for temporary placement of children removed from dangerous households. In Oklahoma, such children go instead to large shelters, where they sometimes spend many months waiting for a placement in conditions that some say are unsafe and unpleasant.

Destiny Emmons, 15, spoke recently after spending five weeks in the Oklahoma City shelter; she was removed from her mother’s house after the mother’s ex-boyfriend molested a younger half-sister. Destiny was angry at her removal, and imminent placement in a foster home, saying she wanted to stay with her mother.

In the shelter, as Destiny described it, teenagers just sit in a room watching a television when not in school. She said they had to go to bed at 9 each night and had to ask an attendant to unlock the bathroom.

One of the state workers, who has spent time in the overcrowded shelter in Tulsa, said that staff members were not trained to deal with special medical needs, like heart monitors and feeding or breathing tubes, and that no nurses were on duty at night to help in a crisis. At Christmas, rats and mice ran among the presents under the tree, the worker said.

Ms. Gray, now 19, is grateful to a volunteer mentor, Buddy Faye Foster, who was a constant presence through her whirlwind of moves and who helped fight for needed counseling, took her shopping, even helped her obtain a birth certificate. Ms. Foster also encouraged her to speak out for her interests, which sometimes led to conflicts with families or caseworkers.

Still, Ms. Gray noted, suffering is relative.

“I’ve been blessed,” she said. “All my homes haven’t been horrible.”

Today's How To

The Saint, Defined, For Real, Not By His Big Media Lovers

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Greatest G-Man

Hoover gets film of pre-fame Marilyn Monroe giving head to unidentified man, then obtains it and keeps it hidden after JFK becomes president. The weird part is: When has it come out that any of the Kennedys knew MM before she was famous?

Well, no answer here.... Or even here.

NAB Lectured

The story.

Listen to the speech.

Those Who Pay Attention To What This Administration Has Done Thinks Beloved Leader Sucks

They should withhold judgment til late in the McCain Administration....

More seriously, initial historical analyses are often open to revisionism down the line.

But not always.

And I'm certain that this will be one of those exceptions.
President Bush often argues that history will vindicate him. So he can't be pleased with an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted by the History News Network. It found that 98 percent of them believe that Bush's presidency has been a failure, while only about 2 percent see it as a success. Not only that, more than 61 percent of the historians say the current presidency is the worst in American history. In 2004, only 11.6 percent of the historians rated Bush's presidency in last place. Among the reasons given for his low ratings: invading Iraq, "tax breaks for the rich," and alienating many nations around the world. Bush supporters counter that professional historians today tend to be liberal and that it's too early to assess how his policies will turn out.

The Republicans' Hatred Of America

Jim Crow has returned to American elections, only in the twenty-first century, instead of men in white robes or a barrel-chested sheriff menacingly patrolling voting precincts, we are more likely to see a lawyer carrying a folder filled with briefing papers and proposed legislation about "voter fraud" and other measures to supposedly protect the sanctity of the vote.

Since the 2004 election, activist lawyers with ties to the Republican Party and its presidential campaigns, Republican legislators, and even the Supreme Court -- in a largely unnoticed ruling in 2006 -- have been aggressively regulating most aspects of the voting process. Collectively, these efforts are undoing the gains of the civil rights era that brought voting rights to minorities and the poor, groups that tend to support Democrats.

In addition, the Department of Justice (DOJ), which for decades had fought to ensure that all eligible citizens could vote, now encourages states to take steps in the opposite direction. Political appointees who advocate for stringent requirements before ballots are cast and votes are counted have driven much of the DOJ's Voting Section's recent agenda. As a result, the Department has pushed states to purge voter lists, and to adopt newly restrictive voter ID and provisional ballot laws. In addition, during most of George W. Bush's tenure, the DOJ has stopped enforcing federal laws designed to aid registration, such as the requirement that state welfare offices offer public aid recipients the opportunity to register to vote.

The Department's political appointees have also pressured federal prosecutors to pursue "voter fraud" cases against the Bush administration's perceived opponents, such as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which conduct mass registration drives among populations that tend to vote Democratic. Two former federal prosecutors have said they believe that they lost their positions for refusing to pursue these cases.

The proponents of this renewed impetus to police voters comes from a powerful and well-connected wing of the Republican Party that believes steps are needed to protect elections from Democratic-leaning groups that are fabricating voter registrations en masse and impersonating voters. Royal Masset, the former political director of the Republican Party of Texas, said in 2007 that is an "article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections." While Masset himself didn't agree with that assertion, he did believe "that requiring photo IDs could cause enough of a drop off in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote."

While voter fraud and voter suppression have a long history in American politics, registration abuses and instances of people voting more than once are rare today, as federal officials convicted only twenty-four people of illegal voting between 2002 and 2005. Moreover, modern voter fraud, when it occurs, has involved partisans from both parties, although it is rarely on a scale that overturns elections. In contrast, new voter registration restrictions, such as requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID, are of a scale that can affect election outcomes.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School has found that 25% of adult African-Americans, 15% of adults earning below $35,000 annually, and 18% of seniors over sixty-five do not possess government-issued photo ID. While various studies -- such as a 2006 Election Assistance Commission report by Tova Andrea Wang and Job Serebrov, and a 2007 study by Lorraine Minnite of Barnard College -- have found modern claims of a voter fraud "crisis" to be unfounded, that has not stopped states from adopting remedies that impose burdens across their electorate and on voter registration organizations. "Across the country, voter identification laws have become a partisan mess," Loyola University Law Professor Richard Hasen said in an Oct. 24, 2006 column, speaking of one such remedy. "Republican-dominated legislatures have been enacting voter identification laws in the name of preventing fraud, and Democrats have opposed such laws in the name of protecting potentially disenfranchised voters." Hasen was commenting on a little-noticed 2006 Supreme Court ruling, Purcell v. Gonzales, which upheld Arizona's new voter ID law. The court unanimously affirmed the state's 2004 law, writing that, "Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government. Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised."

Hasen said that while the ruling "seem[ed] reasonable enough" at first glance, it actually was deeply troubling, as the Court never investigated if there was evidence of widespread voter fraud, and never examined "how onerous are such [voter ID] laws." Instead, it adopted the Republican rhetoric on the issue "without any proof whatsoever." Hasen then quoted Harvard University History Professor Alexander Keyssar on the Court's rationale. "FEEL disenfranchised? Is that the same as 'being disenfranchised?' So if I might 'feel' disenfranchised, I have a right to make it harder for you to vote? What on Earth is going on here?"

What on Earth is going on here?

"These things have become partisan," Democratic California Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald replied at a March 2005 congressional field hearing when asked why she and others in Congress had come to Ohio to investigate the 2004 election. "Images are so critical, especially when the stakes are high and stakes are high in presidential elections," the now-deceased congresswoman continued, referring to the lingering memory of thousands of African-Americans waiting for hours outside in a cold rain to vote the previous November in Ohio's inner cities. Many elected Democrats and voting rights attorneys saw the delays as intentional voter suppression resulting from partisan election administration. To some, it stirred memories of the segregated south.

Cleveland Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who six weeks earlier had stood with California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer to contest Ohio's 2004 Electoral College votes, was also present at the hearing, and had several testy exchanges with Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell over his administration of the election. One particular exchange concerned how Blackwell had spent millions of dollars for advertisements that neglected to tell Ohioans where else they could go to vote if they were delayed at their own polling place -- a small but telling example of election administration with partisan implications:

Ms. Tubbs Jones: In this ad you said, "Vote your precinct," but you never told them that if they couldn't vote in precinct, they could go to the Board of Elections and vote. Did you, sir?

Secretary Blackwell: I sure didn't.

Ms. Tubbs Jones: Excuse me?

Secretary Blackwell: Can't you hear? I said I sure didn't.

But while Democrats like Tubbs Jones were looking back at 2004, Republicans were looking ahead at shaping the future electorate to their advantage. The hearing was notable because it signaled the start of a renewed Republican campaign to highlight "voter fraud" as an issue needing legislative redress. The assertions and responses that unfolded that day would be heard in many states in 2005 and 2006 as GOP-majority legislatures "dealt" with the issue. Ohio Republican Representative Kevin DeWine spoke of a proposed voter ID law -- which would later pass -- and suggested that the Legislature's concern was not whether the law would pass, but how tough it should be. The state also added strict new rules for mass voter registration drives early in 2005, which were overturned in federal court in February 2008, and later passed a bill facilitating Election Day challenges to individual voters. Ohio Republican State Senator Jeff Jacobson said that these laws were needed to stop "fraudulent registrations" because national groups "are paid to come in and end up registering Mickey Mouse .... The millions of dollars that poured in, in an attempt to influence Ohio, is not normal."

What Jacobson said was true, though lacking in context. Groups like ACORN and Americans Coming Together had registered millions of new voters in battleground states before the 2004 election, and some of ACORN's staff -- i.e. temporary workers -- had filed a handful of registration forms with fabricated names. ACORN discovered the error, alerted the authorities and prosecutions ensued. While those mistakes were cited by politicians like Jacobson as evidence of a national voter fraud crisis, others, such as Norman Robbins, a Case Western University professor and co-coordinator of the Greater Cleveland Voter Coalition, urged the House panel to look at the facts and keep the issue in perspective:

"We desperately need research on all of the issues raised today," he said. "For instance, what are the real causes and effects of the long lines? How many voters were actually disenfranchised? How long did they take to vote? That would be one set of questions. Does showing an ID increase the reliability of the vote or does it disenfranchise people? Those are answerable questions. How many people truly have been convicted of election fraud? What do we really know about this in terms of cases and conditions."
To answer those questions, the committee chairman, Republican Bob Ney -- who has since been convicted and jailed on bribery charges -- turned to a long-time Republican operative, Mark "Thor" Hearne, who introduced himself as an "advocate of voter rights and an attorney experienced in election law." Hearne, a lawyer based in St. Louis, certainly was experienced. In 2000, he had worked for the Bush campaign in Florida during the presidential recount. He was also the Vice President of Election Education for the Republican National Lawyers Association, which helps the party train partisan poll monitors. In 2004, he became counsel to the Bush-Cheney campaign, where he "worked with White House presidential advisor Karl Rove and the Republican National Committee to identify potential voting fraud in battleground states ... and oversaw more than 65 different lawsuits that concerned the outcome of the election."8 After 2004, "with encouragement from Rove and the White House, Hearne founded the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR), which represented itself as a nonpartisan watchdog group looking for voting fraud." The group would go on to urge federal and state officials to prosecute voter fraud, adopt tougher voter ID laws and purge voter rolls. It would also file legal briefs in voter ID cases, urging tighter regulations.

Hearne presented the panel with a report suggesting that fraudulent registrations were threatening U.S. elections. The report listed problems in Ohio cities with sizeable African-American populations -- the state's Democratic strongholds. Nationally, ACVR would use the same approach to identify other voter fraud "hot spots."

A national pattern

Though the facts were slim, Republicans across the country acted as if a voter fraud crisis was rampant. As a result, Republican-controlled legislatures in Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin passed new voter ID requirements after the 2004 election, although gubernatorial vetoes or court orders nullified these laws in every state except for Indiana. (In January 2008, the Supreme Court heard a challenge to Indiana's voter ID law.) Meanwhile, two states with Republican-majority legislatures -- Florida and Ohio -- made voter registration drives more difficult by raising penalties for errors on registration forms, as well as shortening the timeline for organizers to submit these forms -- which prevents these groups from checking the registrations for accuracy and completeness. Litigation and court rulings reversed those laws before the 2006 election, but not before the League of Women Voters was forced to halt registration drives in Florida for the first time in the group's 75-year history. In Ohio, where ACORN was registering approximately 5,000 new voters per week, those efforts were suspended during the litigation, meaning an estimated 30,000 people were not given the opportunity to register.

Since 2004, five other states have imposed new restrictions on voter registration drives -- Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, New Mexico and Missouri -- according to research by Project Vote, which has worked with the Brennan Center for Justice to challenge these laws. To date, these laws still remain on the books in Missouri and New Mexico. "It's no secret who these restrictions affect," wrote Michael Slater, Project Vote's deputy director, in the October 2007 issue of The National Voter, a publication of the League of Women Voters. "In 2004, 15 percent of all African-American and Latino voters were registered to vote as a result of an organized drive; an African-American or Latino voter was 65 percent more likely to have been registered to vote by an organized drive than a White voter. In the final analysis, spurious allegations of voter fraud give rise to yet more roadblocks on the path to full participation in political life for historically disadvantaged Americans."

These state-level responses to voter fraud did not occur in a vacuum. Since the creation of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department a half-century ago, the federal government has had great power and influence over how states implement voting rights. But by early 2005, the same mindset shared by GOP legislators in Ohio and other states, and by vote fraud activists like Hearne, could also be found among the Bush administration's senior appointees overseeing voting rights at the DOJ.

Just four days before the 2004 election, the Department's civil rights chief, Assistant Attorney General Alex Acosta, wrote to a federal judge in Cincinnati who was deciding whether to allow the Ohio Republican Party to challenge the credentials of 23,000 mostly African-American voters. Acosta supported the voter challenges, saying an order to block them could undermine the enforcement of state and federal voting laws. The challenges, Acosta wrote, "help strike a balance between ballot access and ballot integrity." The voter challenges were allowed to go forward, although the final judicial ruling came too late for Ohio's Republican Party to deploy thousands of party members to local precincts to challenge voter credentials.

Another sign of the Department's shift from its historic mission of enfranchising voters to a new "selective enforcement" mindset could also be seen by 2005 when a coalition of voting rights groups failed to convince the Department to enforce the law that requiring states to offer welfare recipients the opportunity to register to vote. "In January 2005, we had a 10-year report, which documented the 59 percent decline [in registrations] from 1995 through 2004," said Scott Novakowski of the center-left think tank Demos. He added that many states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, were ignoring the registration requirements for welfare recipients. "John Conyers [now the House Judiciary Committee chairman] and 29 other representatives asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to look into this, and there was no response."

The political stakes in registering low-income voters are enormous. The Election Assistance Commission's biennial voter registration report for 2005-2006 found that while 16.6 million new registration applications were received by state motor vehicles agencies, only 527,752 applications came from public assistance offices -- a 50 percent drop from 2003-2004. As a result, in early 2005, voting rights groups met with the DOJ's top Voting Section officials -- including Hans Von Spakovsky, counsel to the assistant attorney general overseeing the Voting Section, and Voting Section Chief Joseph Rich -- to discuss enforcing the public assistance requirement. Von Spakovsky, like ACVR's Hearne, had worked for Bush in Florida during the 2000 recount and was among a handful of GOP appointees who were established "vote fraud" activists.

Rich, a Civil Rights Division attorney for thirty-seven years, had been chief of the Voting Section for six years when he resigned in April 2005, citing politicization of voting rights enforcement. Rich recalled the meeting about the voter registration requirements, saying that Von Spakovsky -- who had become his de facto boss -- decided to ignore that part of the law, and instead focus on one line in the statute that allowed the Justice Department to pressure states to purge voter rolls. "Four months before I left, in 2005, Von Spakovsky held a meeting where he said he wanted to start an initiative for states we want to purge ... Their priority was to purge, not to register voters ... To me, it was a very clear view of the Republican agenda ... to make it harder to vote: purge voters and don't register voters."

The Bush Administration Voting Section

Rich was one of a number of career attorneys at the DOJ Voting Section who resigned because pressure from the Bush administration had altered the agency's historic civil rights mission. Between 2005 and 2007, 55 percent of the attorneys in the Voting Section left, according to a report by NYU's Brennan Center and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which cited, among other things, a "partisan hiring process," "altered performance evaluations" and "political retaliation on the job." The shift in enforcement philosophy did not go unnoticed. In July 2006, The Boston Globe reported that the Civil Rights Division had turned away from hiring lawyers with civil rights movement backgrounds. Of the nineteen attorneys hired since 2003, The Globe reported, eleven were members of the conservative Federalist Society, Republican National Lawyers Association, or had volunteered for Bush-Cheney campaigns. Moreover, the Voting Section had virtually stopped filing suits on behalf of minority voters. Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, told the House Judiciary Committee on March 22, 2007 that, "The Voting Section did not file any cases on behalf of African-American voters during a five-year period between 2001 and 2006," adding that, "no cases have been brought on behalf of Native American voters for the entire administration." While the Justice Department had all but stopped filing lawsuits on behalf of Native and African-Americans, the Voting Section had more than doubled the number of lawsuits seeking to enforce the providing of bilingual ballots and election materials in Latino and Asian communities, constituencies that were seen as likely Republican swing votes, particularly after the GOP made electoral gains among Latinos in 2004.

That the administration's appointees overseeing voting rights would politicize the Voting Section should have surprised no one.

Early in Bush's first term, conservative publications like the National Journal were clamoring for wholesale changes in the Civil Rights Division. "There may be no part of the federal government where liberalism is more deeply entrenched," the Journal's John Miller wrote on May 6, 2002. "Keeping ineligible voters off registration lists is the first step in limiting fraud," wrote Von Spakovsky in a 1997 Georgia Public Policy Foundation article, where he described various scenarios where he believed Democratic partisans were "sending imposters to vote, to request absentee ballots, or to otherwise generate fraudulent votes." In July 2001, Von Spakovsky began his testimony on "election reform" before the Senate Rules Committee by stating that, "One of the biggest threats to voter rights and election integrity today is the condition of our voter registration rolls. Many jurisdictions now have more registered names on their voter rolls than they have voting age population within their borders. This is an invitation to fraud and chaos since the many invalid and multiple registrations that exist can serve as a source pool for fraud."

According to a Brennan Center and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law report, there were four "connected pieces of strategy" to politicize the enforcement of voting rights by the Department of Justice from 2004 through 2007: "fomenting fear of voter fraud;" "dismantling the infrastructure of Justice;" "restricting registration and voting;" and "politically motivated prosecutions." According to the report, from 2003 to 2005, the Voting Rights Section:

Sent Maryland a letter before the 2004 presidential election saying that the state could reject voter registrations that did not match information on other state databases. That "no-vote, no-match" standard has been criticized as being too strict, due to typos and data-entry errors.
Pre-cleared congressional redistricting in Texas in mid-decade, instead of waiting for the once-a-decade census report, as has been the standard practice. The Department must approve election law changes in states and counties under jurisdiction of the Voting Rights Act. The Texas redistricting case was seen as leading to the election of four Republican House candidates in 2004. In 2006, the Supreme Court issued a decision upholding parts of that redistricting plan.
Argued that individual citizens have no right to private action -- or the ability to sue to seek redress-under HAVA. That right has been a key component of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, leading citizens to file numerous suits such as one in 2006 by African-American voters in Columbus, Ohio, whose precincts did not receive the same per capita number of voting machines as nearby white suburbs.
Pre-cleared a new Georgia photo ID law, even though the section's career attorneys recommended rejecting it. The courts later nullified the law, comparing it to imposing a "poll tax" due to costs associated with obtaining the required government photo ID. The state has since modified the law, relaxing the ID standard.
Issued an opinion saying provisional ballots could not be given to people who lacked ID. The ballots were created by HAVA to ensure that people who are not on voter rolls could vote, though registrations of those voters must be verified before counting the ballots. The section also said it was okay to cast but not count provisional ballots.
Tried to pressure the Election Assistance Commission to change its decision on Arizona's voter ID law, which requires residents to provide proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote. Arizona wanted the EAC to add the citizenship requirement to a national voter registration form. The EAC did not grant Arizona's request, despite supporting emails from Von Spakofsky.
-Filed the first of a half-dozen lawsuits forcing states to purge voter rolls. Only Missouri fought the suit, which it later won, though the Justice Department is appealing that ruling. U.S. District Court Judge Nanette K. Laughrey wrote in her decision that, "It is ... telling that the United States has not shown that any Missouri resident was denied his or her right to vote as a result of the deficiencies alleged by the United States. Nor has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred." New Jersey, Indiana, and Maine were also sued by the Department and reached consent decrees -- settlements -- that included voter purges.

These actions were all part of a growing crescendo of enforcement actions with political overtones leading up to the 2006 election.

Turning toward 2008

As the country approaches the 2008 election, it is an open question how the GOP's ballot security strategies will affect voting in the battleground states. As in any election, there are a handful of unknowns that could have a major impact. The Supreme Court, for example, will decide whether Indiana's voter ID law, seen as one of the country's toughest, places an unconstitutional burden on low-income people and minority voters. Meanwhile, in states where immigration is a hot-button issue, Arizona's efforts to add a proof of citizenship requirement to the national voter registration form will be closely watched. Under that state's Proposition 200, which passed in 2004, residents must show proof of citizenship before registering to vote or receiving public assistance. Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, is now rejecting 30 percent of all new registrations due to inadequate proof of citizenship, according to Jeff Blum of USAction. Since Proposition 200 was implemented in 2005, more than 32,000 voter registrations have been rejected. Meanwhile, in January 2008, the Texas Legislature began consideration of a new voter ID law.

Similarly, efforts by states to comply with HAVA by creating statewide voter lists pose an entirely new set of election administration issues. Since 2000, most states have been struggling to transition to a new generation of electronic voting systems. These paperless systems have been criticized for being unreliable, potentially inaccurate, and accessible to hackers. While some states have moved to restrict the use of these machines, the creation of statewide voter databases -- a part of these systems -- has not been as widely scrutinized. In some states, officials have instituted strict name-matching requirements to verify the accuracy of voter registrations. Whether typos or other data entry errors will mistakenly remove legal voters -- as was the case in California in 2005 -- remains to be seen, although Florida recently joined a handful of states, including Washington, where litigation rolled back strict name-matching standards that were disenfranchising legal voters.

Another large unknown concerns voter purges. In April 2007, the Justice Department sent letters to the top election administrators in ten states -- Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Vermont -- to pressure them to purge their voter rolls. Former Voting Section attorneys and others said the statistics cited by the Justice Department in the purge letter were flawed and did not confirm that those states had more voter registrations than eligible voters, as the department alleged. "That data does not say what they purport it says," said David Becker, senior voting rights counsel for People for the American Way and a former Voting Section senior trial attorney, after reviewing the data cited in the Justice Department's letter. "This stuff disenfranchises voters .... There are eligible voters who will be removed. There is no evidence that rolls need to be cleaned up to this degree. This will make things more chaotic on Election Day. People will be given provisional ballots that won't get counted."

Looking toward the 2008 election, it appears the purges -- as well as the new voter ID laws, restrictions on registration drives and stricter rules for counting provisional ballots -- could be a new and legal way to accomplish a longstanding GOP electoral tactic: thinning the ranks of likely Democratic voters. In numerous elections dating back to the 1960s, the Republican Party has tried to challenge new voter registrations to accomplish this goal, although since 1981 federal courts have blocked some of those efforts as illegal electioneering.

"Until the mid-1960s, the political entity most closely associated with efforts to disenfranchise people of color was the southern wing of the Democratic Party," wrote Rice University Sociology Professor Chandler Davidson and several graduate students in a paper titled, "Republican Ballot Security Programs: Vote Protection or Minority Voter Suppression -- Or Both?" However, the passage of civil rights laws in the early 1960s prompted some Republicans to appeal to southern Democrats who supported the Jim Crow system. Part of that political sea change was that the Republican Party adopted some of the voter suppression tactics used by southern Democrats. Indeed, the debate and remedies framed by the GOP's contemporary "voter fraud" activists comes from this same political lineage:

"There are several noteworthy characteristics of these programs. They focus on minority precincts almost exclusively. There is often only the flimsiest evidence that voter fraud is likely to be perpetrated in such precincts.
In addition to encouraging the presence of sometimes intimidating Republican poll watchers or challengers who may slow down voting lines and embarrass potential voters by asking them humiliating questions, these programs have sometimes posted people in official-looking uniforms with badges and side arms who question voters about their citizenship or their registration. In addition, warning signs may be posted near the polls, or radio ads may be targeted to minority listeners containing dire threats of prison terms for people who are not properly registered -- messages that seem designed to put minority voters on the defensive."
Will this history of vote suppression tactics repeat itself during the 2008 presidential election? While the Democrats are not saints when it comes to voter suppression -- recall how John Kerry's supporters disqualified signatories to Ralph Nader's presidential petitions in 2004 -- they do not have the same kind of vote suppression apparatus in place as the Republicans do. Indeed, it appears that Republicans are already following Chandler Davidson's inventory by seeking to regulate the voting process well before the 2008 election. The tactics that can be implemented well before the voting begins -- stricter voter ID laws, voter purges, registration drive curbs, tougher provisional ballot laws and easing rulefor voter challenges -- are already underway in several states.

How Does This Happen? Jason Blair Redux; Does This Explain The Media's Love For McCain -- An Inability To Learn?

This morning, I was reading through the daily papers and found this interesting item on page 6 of the Herald. “VP guns for shootout with Hill,” the headline screamed. The story, which had an Associated Press byline, claimed that during an appearance on Meet the Press, Vice President Dick Cheney told Tim Russert that he didn’t believe Hillary Clinton’s claims that she actually loves guns, and challenged her to show her stuff by going hunting with him.

Seeing the potential for a million birdshot jokes, I went to the paper’s website to find the story. But it wasn’t there. Undeterred, I went to Google News to find the item. But seemingly the only outlet that had covered the story was the Herald, and the link gave me only an error message. Why hadn’t every newspaper in the country picked this story up?

Because the Herald got duped by a satirist.

On Sunday, Andy Borowitz posted an entry on the Huffington Post and his own website that claimed Cheney appeared on Meet the Press, and had challenged Clinton to a day of hunting. It’s a brilliant piece of satire, with some great fake quotes.

“To be frank, Hillary Clinton’s stories about her adventures with guns don’t exactly pass the smell test,” the vice president told host Tim Russert. “If she really wants to show that she knows how to handle a rifle, there’s an easy way to do that: meet me in the woods.”

That quote was picked up in its entirety by our favorite tabloid. Perhaps the piece’s kicker, which the paper also used, should have tipped them off.

But shortly after the vice president issued his challenge, Sen. Clinton seemed to back off from her earlier claims of hunting experience, saying that she had “misspoke” about her hunting exploits as a child.

“I fired a gun once, but I didn’t like it, and I didn’t recoil,” she said.

Clinton couldn’t possibly be that witty. But the, ahem, smoking gun is this—Dick Cheney did not appear on this weekend’s episode of Meet the Press.

“We were bamboozled,” Herald publisher Kevin Convey told Boston Daily. He explained that the item got picked up as straight news in Google, and was folded into unrelated wire reports from the AP, and appeared online and in the print edition.

“We failed to double-check the item against the Meet the Press website, which we should have done. We have changed our policies a bit to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Convey added. The paper also posted a correction online, and will run an official correction in tomorrow’s edition.

And the original source reports:
One day after The Boston Herald quoted heavily from a fake news story from The Borowitz Report as if it were real news, the tabloid newspaper announced a “groundbreaking new arrangement” with the satirical website.

“Effective immediately, The Boston Herald and The Borowitz Report are merging news operations,” said Carol Foyler, a spokesperson for the tabloid. “As a result, we are shutting down our bureaus in New York, Washington, and Boston.”

The Herald said that it came to its decision after The Borowitz Report story it re-published, “Cheney Challenges Hillary to Hunting Contest,” failed to set off any alarms in its fact-checking department.

“We figure that if it fooled us, it would probably fool our readers, too,” Ms. Foyler said.

Davis Logsdon, a University of Minnesota expert who has offered his opinions on a broad range of subjects for The Borowitz Report, said that he was “delighted” by the chance to lend his insights to The Boston Herald as well.

“I think that the association with The Borowitz Report can only enhance the Herald’s journalistic credibility,” Mr. Logsdon said.

For its part, the Herald said that its readers would only notice “minor changes” to the paper, whose front-page headline tomorrow morning reads POPE CONVERTS TO JUDAISM.

Stop; Does Anyone Really Believe In An Election Year, Congress Would Act On This?

That's the answer to Why now? Because this "proposal" is D.O.A.

Via Fox Bidness Journal:
In a significant shift on global warming, President Bush will propose stopping growth in U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025 and signal that he is open to lawmakers reining in pollution from power companies.

I Can Remember All The Way Back A Few Years Ago When Washington Mutual Was Loved By Wall Street

And now, not so....

Oklahoma Allows You To Have Anyone You'd Like Listed As A Sexual Abuser

One of the cardinal rules of computer programming is to never trust your input. This holds especially true when your input comes from users, and even more so when it comes from the anonymous, general public. Apparently, the developers at Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections slept through that day in computer science class, and even managed to skip all of Common Sense 101. You see, not only did they trust anonymous user input on their public-facing website, but they blindly executed it and displayed whatever came back.

The result of this negligently bad coding has some rather serious consequences: the names, addresses, and social security numbers of tens of thousands of Oklahoma residents were made available to the general public for a period of at least three years. Up until yesterday, April 13 2008, anyone with a web browser and the knowledge from Chapter One of SQL For Dummies could have easily accessed – and possibly, changed – any data within the DOC’s databases. It took me all of a minute to figure out how to download 10,597 records – SSNs and all – from their website:

As the title of that last screenshot indicates, the records were made available through the state’s Sexual and Violent Offender Registry. For those unaware, the SVOR is a federally-mandated, publically-available registry designed to protect us from the truly horrendous specimens of humanity by forever branding those convicted of a certain crimes with a big “SO”. These registries also protect us from the truly unlucky offenders, such as fornicating teenagers, children who take nude pictures of themselves, and public urinators. But I digress. Not only did Oklahoma make avaiable the SSN of those types of offenders, but that of every type of offender in their system. It was all accessible through an innocent looking link on both the SVOR and Offender search pages:

Mousing over that "Print Friendly" link revealed this rather long URL: distinct o.offender_id,doc_number,o.social_security_number,o.date_of_birth,o.first_name,o.middle_name,o.last_name,o.sir_name,sor_data.getCD(race) race,sor_data.getCD(sex) sex,l.address1 address,,l.state stateid,,l.county,sor_data.getCD(l.state) state, countryid,sor_data.getCD( country,decode(habitual,'Y','habitual','') habitual,decode(aggravated,'Y','aggravated','') aggravated,l.status,x.status,x.registration_date,x.end_registration_date,l.jurisdiction from registration_offender_xref x, sor_last_locn_v lastLocn, sor_offender o, sor_location l , (select distinct offender_id from sor_location where status = 'Verified' and upper(zip) = '73064' ) h where lastLocn.offender_id(%2B) = o.offender_id and l.location_id(%2B) = lastLocn.location_id and x.offender_id = o.offender_id and x.status not in ('Merged') and x.REG_TYPE_ID = 1 and nvl(x.admin_validated,to_date(1,'J')) >= nvl(x.entry_date,to_date(1,'J')) and x.status = 'Active' and x.status <> 'Deleted' and h.offender_id = o.offender_id order by o.last_name,o.first_name,o.middle_name&sr=yes

And, of course, following that link brought up this rather innocent-looking page:

Now, those of you even vaguely familiar with SQL SELECT statements will notice the correlation. The absurdly long URL contained the database query used to display the page's data. The SELECT also included a few non-displayed columns such as "social_security_number" and "date_of_birth", and even had several conditionals to make sure that only Active records were returned. It doesn't take too much SQL knowledge to display "social_security_number" instead of "doc_number", remove the conditionals, and create a URL like this... distinct o.offender_id,o.social_security_number doc_number,o.social_security_number,o.date_of_birth,o.first_name,o.middle_name,o.last_name,o.sir_name,sor_data.getCD(race) race,sor_data.getCD(sex) sex,l.address1 address,,l.state stateid,,l.county,sor_data.getCD(l.state) state, countryid,sor_data.getCD( country,decode(habitual,'Y','habitual','') habitual,decode(aggravated,'Y','aggravated','') aggravated,l.status,x.status,x.registration_date,x.end_registration_date,l.jurisdiction from registration_offender_xref x, sor_last_locn_v lastLocn, sor_offender o, sor_location l where lastLocn.offender_id(%2B) = o.offender_id and l.location_id(%2B) = lastLocn.location_id and x.offender_id = o.offender_id order by o.last_name,o.first_name,o.middle_name&sr=yes

Following that URL loaded a 7MB page filled with 10,597 records, as seen in the first screen shot. It was an identity thief's dream, especially one who learned to target SO registries. According to the roster page's HTML comments, it's a wonder how many ID thiefs stumbled across this vulneability since Feb 3, 2005.

Shortly after discovering this problem (thanks to reader AJ, who hesitantly pointed it out), I spent the following day working my way up the DOC's call tree. Eventually, I found my way to George Floyd and explained how bad of an idea it was to to have a SQL query as a parameter. Fortunately, he didn't accuse me of hacking their site. In fact, he seemed appreciative and promised to pass the details along to their developers.

The following day, both the SVOR and Offender Search were taken down "for routine maintenance". Great, I figured, they discovered an overlooked hole were working to patch it up. However, when the sites came back up, I noticed that that the "print-friendly page" still had a SQL query in the URL. Putting the "social_security_number" in, however, no longer displayed social security numbers. It took me all of ten seconds to figure out a way around their fix. This slightly-modified URL brought back all 10,597 SSNs once again: distinct o.offender_id,o.Social_security_number doc_number,o.social_security_number,o.date_of_birth,o.first_name,o.middle_name,o.last_name,o.sir_name,sor_data.getCD(race) race,sor_data.getCD(sex) sex,l.address1 address,,l.state stateid,,l.county,sor_data.getCD(l.state) state, countryid,sor_data.getCD( country,decode(habitual,'Y','habitual','') habitual,decode(aggravated,'Y','aggravated','') aggravated,l.status,x.status,x.registration_date,x.end_registration_date,l.jurisdiction from registration_offender_xref x, sor_last_locn_v lastLocn, sor_offender o, sor_location l where lastLocn.offender_id(%2B) = o.offender_id and l.location_id(%2B) = lastLocn.location_id and x.offender_id = o.offender_id order by o.last_name,o.first_name,o.middle_name&sr=yes

Did you spot the difference? I used "Social_security_number" instead of "social_security_number". Their brilliant developers plugged this pothole with a pebble by doing nothing more than a case-sensisitve search/replace of "social_security_number" with "doc_number". Clearly, they had no idea why it was so bad to let any SELECT anything from their databases.

I emailed George again, this time explaining the problem much more clearly and advising in BOLD, RED, CAPS that the "roster page" should be taken down immediately. I also demonstrated the power of the ALL_TABLES table, the contents of an "interesting" table named MSD_MONTHLY_MEDICAL_ACTIVITY, and how even their information was available for all to see:

That, aparently, did the trick. Soon thereafter, the sites underwent "routine maintenance" and the "roster pages" were no more. I guess they weren't too thrilled about having their personal data up on the 'net for all to see.Link.