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Friday, June 20, 2003  

People are saying

*Sell off the FAA?

Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran tells us the recent deregulatory actions of the Federal Communications Commission are just a start. The Bush administration would now like to privatize the Federal Aeronautics Administration. According to the New York Times, the Bushites believe flight service stations and control towers would function better if run by private contractors. Jo explains why that is far from true.

*FAA has an inherent enforcement authority that helps keep pilots of all skill-levels honest about what they are doing; the last thing you want to hear from a controller is "Say Pilots Name" or "Call me when you land". Big Trouble most likely coming your way.

*FAA controllers are some of the most professional government employees that I have ever had to work with as a pilot (that's 30+ years now). Contract Tower employees are not always so, let's be tactful here, professional.

*FAA will never be worried about "bottom-line" results as they affect safety issues, a publicly-traded company might get a bit concerned about profits in their Air Traffic Control division, especially if management was not overly familiar with the systems and impose budgetary measures detrimental to public safety.

*FAA is accountable for what it does, to Congress. A contractor might not be, especially if they are "Bush Buddies".

To learn more about this bad idea, including the pilots group lobbying for it, visit the Democratic Veteran.

*What the WMD scandal tells us about Bush

Don't try to convince the blogger at Give It Back that poor, poor Shrub was just misinformed about whether there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

I just love this last-ditch defense being put out there: "Well, even if it's proven that the intelligence was wrong, it's OK because Bush didn't know."

We've all read the reports now of the "Team B" set up by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz to selectively pick & choose shaky intelligence findings in order to make the case for war on Iraq:

*The Nigerian 'yellowcake' documents cited in the State of the Union address were forgeries.

*Bush cited information in an IAEA report that simply did not exist.

*We were told Iraq had chem/bio weapons ready and authorized for battlefield use. That was obviously false.

*We were told Iraq was on the cusp of developing nuclear capabilities again. There is not one reputable expert who agrees, and we have found not one piece of evidence to support this.

. . .It's the President's job to know what is going on under his watch and in his name. If he doesn't know, then he is either incompetent, or permissive of this behavior.

He is reaching the core issue I believe that people whose skepticism about George W. Bush is beyond recall need to focus on: What is the role of a president? The only way to prevent Shrub spending another four years in the White House is to convince more of the voting population that he is not capable of filling that role.

*Class action bills may have little impact

Victor at Balasubramania's Mania, which is now a Movable Type blog (reset bookmarks to this URL) is questioning the conventional wisdom that state courts are more friendly to plaintiffs than federal courts, in the class action lawsuit context.

Caught this observer piece lamenting the end of consumer redressing class action lawsuits ("Goodbye, Erin Brockovich, as class actions end") (the citizen.org page has a mass of links). Check out a Senate version here and a House version here. SO apart from moving certain class actions to federal courts and introducing additional procedures with respect to approval of settlements I could not really see what the hue and cry is about. I don't have much to to add to this but I would question the underlying assumption about federal courts being more corporate-friendly than state courts.

Victor may be on to something. The image of friendly, salt of the Earth jurors swayed by folksy, local boys done good lawyers to favor plaintiffs, who are just plain folks like them, in state courts, may be more the stuff of commercial novels and movies than reality. The lobbying pressures that can be brought to bear on state legislators by corporate interests cam be very strong.

*How Memefacture works

John Wehr of Memefacture wrote to explain how his ecosystem software works.

Memeufacture works very similarly to Blogdex and Daypop. It scans a group of weblogs, records how many times a URL has been linked to and by who, then shows the URLS which are the most popular, taking time into account.

(For example, if you dont take time into account, blogspot, blogger and movable type are the most popular links. If you ask what the most popular link is -today- you get a NYT article.)

The only difference between Memeufacture and Blogdex is that the latter takes a shotgun approach and scans 13,000 or some odd weblogs. Memeufacture scans several hundred topical and carefully selected sites.

So, to determine the top conservative weblog articles today I scan 300 conservative websites (they are easy enough to find) and simply count their links.

The "influential" rankings are a but more esoteric. Essentially it combines the 8 last link "finds" (where they are the first in the community to link to an article or site), and determines which ones are the most popular today. This tends to lean towards large, frequently updating sites, but it seems pretty accurate.

Thank you for that information, John.

4:39 PM