Sunday, April 30, 2006

Laziest Protest Ever

Over at Observant Observations, I've commented on what may be the laziest possible way to participate in Monday's pro-illegal-immigration pseudo-boycott. It is actually dumb enough to make the after-school-is-out walkout look good.

Click here for the details.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Good Example Set by Congress

This excerpt from a Washington Post article needs no commentary:

Gas prices have gone above $3 a gallon again, and that means it's time for another round of congressional finger-pointing.

"Since George Bush and Dick Cheney took over as president and vice president, gas prices have doubled!" charged Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), standing at an Exxon station on Capitol Hill where regular unleaded hit $3.10. "They are too cozy with the oil industry."

She then hopped in a waiting Chrysler LHS (18 mpg) -- even though her Senate office was only a block away.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Illegal Parking to Continue in DC

The Washington Times reports:

D.C. officials said... that they will delay the enforcement of double-parking laws near churches on Sundays until at least late August...

Double-parking is illegal in the District, but churchgoers have been ignoring the law on Sundays for at least 30 years. The Metropolitan Police Department, which is responsible for parking patrols on the weekends, has not been issuing tickets to violators.

There's something strange about churchgoers insisting on their right to park illegally.

Besides, DC has so many churches that I have a hard time believing that most people can't walk or ride a bus to get there - and if they can't there are even more churches with plentiful parking a short Sunday morning drive away. Across the moat, Old Town Alexandria's churches have very limited parking, but I have yet to see a single instance of double parking on a public street.

Jared Leland, a lawyer with the Becket Fund, said the organization plans to oppose the parking enforcement on legal grounds.

"The law shouldn't be applied in a way that unfairly burdens churches," he said. "This double-parking law is unconstitutional because it puts an unfair burden on the religious institution."

Todd Lovinger, a Logan Circle resident and lawyer who helped pressure the city to enforce the law, said last week that if the city delays enforcement any longer, he will form a coalition of neighborhood officials, business leaders and the American Civil Liberties Union to bring a lawsuit against the city for giving preference to churches and enforcing the law arbitrarily.

Law enforcement is only an unfair burden when it is selective, like letting churchgoers park illegally while ticketing everyone else. Double parked cars should be towed or rammed out of the way, or both.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Remember the Back Door

While visiting the Air & Space Museum today, I remembered important rule - don't enter Smithsonian museums through their Mall entrances.

They waived me right in, and then I was shocked by the giant lines coming in the other side of the building.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Supporter of Commuter Tax Says He Won't Raise Taxes

The Washington Post reports:
D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty vowed yesterday not to raise taxes if elected mayor, saying he would fund new programs by reining in an inefficient bureaucracy and collaborating with business leaders to identify savings within the city's $7 billion budget.
But as you may recall, Fenty supports an illegal commuter tax:
D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty, a Ward 4 Democrat who is running for mayor next year, said he will introduce a bill to call for a referendum that would abolish the D.C. Home Rule Charter's ban on a commuter tax, then impose such a tax.
Fenty can get away with taking both positions since commuters can't vote - he supports taxation without representation.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

When Did They Stop Building Cool Buildings?

So I was wandering around downtown today and wondered: why does the EPA have a cooler building than the State Department?

The short answer is that someone else had the EPA buildings first, but it's not a good answer.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

In Case You Were Wondering...

The Washington Post explains how to play croquet:

Rules for nine-wicket or "backyard" croquet:

A full-size croquet court is a rectangle 100 feet long and 50 feet wide. Short grass provides the best playing surface. Nine metal wickets and two wooden stakes are arranged in a double-diamond pattern. The object is to advance the balls through the course by hitting them with a mallet, scoring a point for each wicket and stake made in the correct order and direction. The winner is the first side to score the 14 wicket points and 2 stake points for each of its balls. Players earn bonus shots by "scoring" a wicket or stake or by hitting another ball (a "roquet"). For the Annapolis Cup, there are 10 players on each side, divided into two-person teams.

Source: U.S. Croquet Association

I guess it's been a slow week for news.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Two Sentences for 2004

Time's Joe Klein has an interesting article on the effect of consultants and television on modern presidential campaigns, but the best part is how he sums up the 2004 election:

In fact, the 2004 campaign came down to two sentences. Kerry: "I actually voted for the $87 billion [to fund Iraq] before I voted against it."

Bush: "You may not always agree with me, but you'll always know where I stand."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Chevy Chase Residents Want Police, But Not Law Enforcement

The Washington Times reports:

Chevy Chase residents say they are getting more than they bargained for now that the Metropolitan Police Department is providing steady, overnight patrols in their Northwest neighborhood. They say officers are ticketing their vehicles for everything from parking too close to a driveway to having improperly affixed stickers.

"The objection here is to action that is being taken in the middle of the night by a police department that appears to be focused on making a fast buck by skulking around while residents sleep," resident Simon Marks wrote on an online forum. "I have simply never heard of parking tickets being issued at 3 a.m. to residents who have parked their cars outside their own homes. It's senseless and not the kind of additional parking enforcement that will make any of us safer."

An official in the police department's 2nd District, which includes Chevy Chase, said officers walk the neighborhood for several hours overnight and must have something to show for their work. When no crimes are being committed and there are no criminals to arrest, he said, ticketing illegally parked cars is productive work.

I applaud the ticketings. Residents want the police to patrol, and the police see illegally parked vehicles. By combining patrols with ticket-writing, residents are can feel more secure and often-ignored laws can be enforced. Illegal parking is still illegal at night, it just is ignored far too often.
Some said they were not aware that they had done something illegal, such as having too many registration stickers on a vehicle window, a violation that carries a $20 fine.
So now they are aware. A warning might be nice, but that's a really small fine.
"We have our share of vandalism," said Chevy Chase resident Sue Hemberger. "You have days where you have three dozen cars in a row get hit, so there's thefts from auto and vandalism. ... It seems unreasonable to me to demand more enforcement and then complain when you get it."

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Law Students Addicted to Laptops

Memphis, Tennessee - 865 miles outside the Beltway

(AP) - A University of Memphis law professor has banned laptop computers from her classroom and her students are passing a petition against it.

Professor June Entman says her main concern is that students are so busy keyboarding they can't think and analyze what she's telling them.

Students have begun collecting signatures on petitions and tried unsuccessfully to file a complaint with the American Bar Association.

Student Cory Winsett says if he must continue without his laptop, he'll transfer to another school. Winsett says he won't be able to keep up if he has to rely on hand-written notes, which he says are incomplete and less organized.

While laptops can be helpful, they rarely are necessary. They definitely encourage excessive note-taking which is both counterproductive and a distraction to other students.

The whining Memphis students would be well served to stop complaining and try some old-fashioned learning. Otherwise they might not make it through law school, let alone the Dreaded Bar Exam.

For more information, read five letters to the editor berating the whining Memphis students.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Magical World of Bureaucratic Forms

Am I the only one that finds this funny?
Some questions on the current SF86 specify a time frame of seven years, which is not consistent with Executive Order 12968. Until a revised form is in place, interim instructions are needed for some of the items on the current SF86 when an SSBI is required. These questions should be answered with a ten (10) year time frame for the case to meet the new standard...
That executive order, by the way, was issued in 1995.

So the form is not legal, and hasn't been for over a decade, but it takes so much work to update it that it is still used, but with instructions to ignore the instructions.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Is Voting Just Harder for Democrats?

The Washington Post reports on Maryland Senate Republicans walking out of the chamber in protest. The story had this interesting fact:
Just minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline, Democrats passed the last in a series of controversial measures, which included ... a bill to ... alter election laws to put early voting stations in urban -- and largely Democratic -- precincts.
So Maryland needs early voting, but only for Democrats. What exactly are they admitting to here? Here's a longer account:

None of the measures passed smoothly. There was a failed filibuster on the schools bill, a bitter parliamentary challenge of the House speaker on the measure to reconstitute the state's Public Service Commission and a seemingly endless succession of procedural contortions over the others. But it was the highly partisan election measure that prompted the walkout by the dispirited GOP caucus, which holds just 14 seats in the 47-member chamber.

"We know we're outnumbered, votewise. We know we have no control. Now they won't even let us participate," Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-Harford) said after leaving the chamber. "I'm ready to go home."

Democrats paused briefly after the walkout. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) had an aide ring bells in the cavernous State House foyer to alert them that voting would continue. Then the Democrats passed the election bill on a vote of 29 to 3 as a cluster of the chamber's red leather high-back chairs sat empty.

If Maryland election law is going to change, it should change to benefit all citizens, including independents and Republicans. Of course after we saw who couldn't figure out a simple ballot in 2000, perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise.

And no, this isn't an April Fools joke.

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