Jim Hightower is one of the few Texas Progressive Politicians my generation has seen. He has a real talent for cutting through the BS that most politicians sling…

Hey, how about indulging yourself with a hot new Maserati? Yeah, it’s got a sticker price that’ll make you go blind – but, wow, this baby will flat-out fly!

Even if you only drive your Maserati down to the hardware store, it’ll give you an awesome thrill and make you feel like a real stud, so come on – splurge. And don’t tell me you can’t afford it. Just cut back on your kids’ education, cancel your family’s health care, and dip into your retirement fund. It’s all about priorities, my friend.

If you think such extravagance is insane, you’re obviously not a studly congress critter. These free spenders have just voted to buy more F-22 Raptor fighter jets, a stealth plane that flies so high, so fast that it’s called “the Maserati of the skies.” Price tag: a third-of-a-billion dollars per plane.

Source: Jim Hightower | SENSIBLE PRIORITIES

Top-Secret Torture –

The election may be over but the battle to protect the American Constitution has just begun. Do not think that if these rulings are allowed to stand that they will only be used  against non-citizens. It will only be a matter of time before someone born in this country is spirited away and termed an enemy-combatant…

BURIED WITHIN a recent government brief in the case of Guantanamo Bay inmate Majid Khan is one of the more disturbing arguments the Bush administration has advanced in the legal struggles surrounding the war on terrorism. Mr. Khan was one of the al-Qaeda suspects who was detained in a secret prison of the CIA and subjected to “alternative” interrogation tactics — the administration’s chilling phrase for methods most people regard as torture. Now the government is arguing that by subjecting detainees to such treatment, the CIA gives them “top secret” classified information — and the government can then take extraordinary measures to keep them quiet about it. If this argument carries the day, it will make virtually impossible any accountability for the administration’s treatment of top al-Qaeda detainees. And it will also ensure that key parts of any military trials get litigated in secrecy.

And the key to all of this is the following paragraph…

The trouble is that at least some of the secrets the government is trying to protect are the very techniques used against people such as Mr. Khan — and its means of protecting them is to muzzle him about what the CIA did to him. CIA official Marilyn A. Dorn said in an affidavit that Mr. Khan might reveal “the conditions of detention and specific alternative interrogation procedures.” In other words, grossly mistreating a detainee now justifies keeping him quiet.

Two more years of this gross misappropriation of powers.

Source: Top-Secret Torture –

Eugene Robinson – The Only Real Option: Leave Iraq Now –

Why can’t papa Bush just slap him up side his head? Where will this country be after two more years? Hell, everyone reading these posts know how I feel about the decider-in-chief, so forgive my whining…please? 

Good lord, if even Henry Kissinger now says that military victory in Iraq is impossible, pretty soon George W. Bush really will be left with just Laura and Barney on his side.

The Decider Agonistes must be feeling betrayed and abused these days. British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s admission that the war has been “pretty much of a disaster” was just a slip of the tongue, but the president must have felt it as a cut most unkind.

Source: Eugene Robinson – The Only Real Option: Leave Iraq Now –

From Marginal Revolution

 I find myself intrigued…

I’d like to try this idea in Elizabeth, New Jersey

Tyler Cowen

How about cities without any traffic signs or lights?:

European traffic planners are dreaming of streets free of rules and directives.  They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren — by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs…Ejby, in Denmark, is participating in the experiment, as are Ipswich in England and the Belgian town of Ostende.

The logic?

It may sound like chaos, but it’s only the lesson drawn from one of the insights of traffic psychology:  Drivers will force the accelerator down ruthlessly only in situations where everything has been fully regulated.  Where the situation is unclear, they’re forced to drive more carefully and cautiously.

Some towns are even looking to abolish the distinction between roads and sidewalks.  Here is the full story, can any of you report on these experiments?  And if you are looking for your “Germany fact of the day,” the country has 648 different and valid traffic signs.

Thanks to John Durant for the pointer.  And here is Dan Klein on skating rinks.

I tend to agree with the proposition on principle. I’m not sure how well it would work in the “real” world though. Seems like there are way too many people these days who feel their life is more important, and their needs come first. Since this entire concept would cause everyone to slow done and observe the world around them, I can see a rather large portion of the population going totally crazy. Can you imagine one of the type A’s of the world trying to drive in a world where using a cell phone and a blackberry (usually together) would be tantamount to manslaughter?

I have always thought the concealed weapons laws were wrong. If you are going to let someone carry a weapon in public, they should have to display the weapon for all to see. My personal belief is that all concealed weapons should be illegal. You want to carry, you gotta show it…always. That way everyone else has the option of associating or not.

Maybe these traffic laws should work on the same principle. Since, basically they are either total anarchy or total trust…warn drivers before they enter a “zone” and give them an alternative means of passage through, around or under. Or let the pedestrians carry sidearms to protect themselves from the idiots in the SUV’s…just joking (sort of). 

Source: Marginal Revolution

the ramblings of my brain over that first cup… and other meanders