I’m in Japan, where it’s turned 2008. Best wishes to all for the happiest of new years.
We’re in the process of moving, so postings will be light for some days to come…
Moe Lane at Red State, a right-wing blog, gets it precisely and depressingly right in “Sweet Jeebus, is there nobody in the Democratic Party who understands national party unity?”
Let me put this in very stark terms: there is no Democratic Party in Congress. There are, instead, a bare majority of Congressmen and Senators who have banded together in order to gather power, influence, and money. Which is fine, as far as it goes – except that they are not actually using any of the resources that they are gathering to benefit the groups and causes who worked to put them in power. At best they are operating under terms of enlightened self-interest, albeit a very small-minded version of it: they are keeping their geographical constituents as sweet as is necessary to ensure re-election. And the Republicans know all of this, and will use this knowledge to pass the bills that we feel the country needs to thrive. And all of this is why 2007 was such a horrible legislative year for the progressive movement – and why 2008 will be no better for them.
There are any number of reasons for the pathetic approval ratings for Congress. This is the clearest explanation I’ve seen yet.
The Democrats not only have no collective spine (nor, obviously, much in the way of individual courage), but they have no serious principles for governing. I now suspect they will lose their majority next year.
Why? Because the Democrats’ utter failure to do their job is going to spur more third-party efforts, especially if Hilary Clinton is nominated for president. The likes of Ralph Nader, who remains one of the principal causes of George Bush’s presidency, will have a more convincing argument than in the past that there is not sufficient different between the parties to care which governs. This is dangerous nonsense, of course, but the Democrats are asking for such treatment. Does America deserve such non-leadership? Maybe not, but that’s where we’re heading.
One of my great recent joys has been working (on a part-time basis in my case) with an incredibly talented group of people on a web service called Dopplr, a site that helps people share their trip information with trusted friends and colleagues. The team are world-class folks in every way.
Well, Dopplr is now out of beta. Here’s our blog posting: Dopplr launches at LeWeb3 in Paris.
During the beta period, it took an invitation from someone already in Dopplr to join. Now joining is open to all, and that’s created a slew of new folks who’ve joined in the past day since the official launch.
Of course, being out of beta isn’t the same as being finished. We have a huge amount of work to do on Dopplr, and the improvements will roll out on a regular basis in coming weeks and month.
Heading later today to Malysia for the 3rd Global Knowledge Conference, where I’m a speaker.
Glenn Greenwald: Whether it’s the war in Iraq or illegal surveillance or the abolition of habeas corpus and now the systematic use of torture, it’s the Bush administration that conceived of the policies, implemented them and presided over their corrupt application. But it’s Congressional Democrats at the leadership level who were the key allies and enablers, never getting their hands dirty with implementation — and thus feigning theatrical, impotent outrage once each abuse was publicly exposed — but nonetheless working feverishly the entire time to enable all of it every step of the way.
When the historians mark turning points in America’s decline, these deeds will be key evidence.
Also, from Andrew Sullivan:
This is not to say that there is no difference between the parties, with the GOP shamefully defending war crimes the United States once prosecuted as such. The Democrats, for the most part, have been their usual selves on this: still in a defensive crouch against any notion that they might be soft on terror, and implicitly adopting the fallacious logic that somehow opposing torture means being soft on terror. Au contraire. Torture has weakened the West’s war against barbarism by blurring the critical lines needed to win the long war, and by injecting into intelligence the falsehoods, exaggerations and lies that always come from the tortured.
And, finally, it’s worth noting that not a single U.S. newspaper that I can find is referring to what was on the tapes in accurate language. All are using the administration’s “harsh interrogation techniques” lingo or something close to that. Folks, it’s torture. Period. We prosecuted Japanese soldiers for war crimes — and got convictions — for exactly this stuff. The Independent in London is one of the non-U.S. papers telling it honestly in an article entitles, “Call for criminal inquiry as CIA destroys torture tapes” — why won’t our own press? Why won’t even one paper?
The same reason that Democrats are so spineless? Is there any other explanation?
Techdirt: AT&T Does Nothing, Convinces Reporter It Has Now ‘Opened’ Its Network. Basically, absolutely nothing happened here except that AT&T’s marketing crew declared that AT&T’s network is now open, and convinced USA Today to report it as if it were a big deal. If there was any change at all within AT&T, it’s that retail store employees are now supposed to admit that you can use other devices on the network, rather than pretending you can’t. Not quite as exciting as “flinging the network open,” though.
True, the technology change here is precisely zero — it was always possible to use any GSM phone on their network. But the fact that AT&T felt a marketing advantage to proclaiming itself “open” is still a bit noteworthy.
Now, we’re still talking about a terrible company in many ways. Still, let’s be glad for this tiny improvement.
AP: Five-Year Mortgage Rate Freeze Looms. Congressional aides say the Bush administration has hammered out an agreement with industry to freeze interest rates for certain subprime mortgages for five years in an effort to combat a soaring tide of foreclosures.
This sounds like the most dangerous bit of fiscal sleight of hand in years — putting off the actual problem and utterly rewarding the people who were the most reckless in the mortgage bubble.
Americans who didn’t join the sleaze will pay those who did. It’s reprehensible, and it’s going to put this nation further into the national bankruptcy that already exists for all practical purposes.
Meanwhile, the local paper endorses this idiocy — and more. Sheesh…
I’m looking for safer places to put my money at this point than my own country. We’ve lost all common sense here.
Over at Dopplr, we’ve just launched a mobile version — and if I may say so on behalf of the development team it’s just excellent.
Amazingly, Apple has downgraded one it the key applications in its new operating system, OS X 10.5 “Leopard” — it removed the “information drawer” feature in its iCal calendar software, and it now requires multiple mouse clicks to create new events.
Beyond stupid, this is arrogant. There is absolutely no good reason to remove useful features from software.
Meanwhile, I’m not the only customer who’s annoyed by the company’s casual decision to make life harder for users. In the Apple support forums, for example is this dicussion: “Want my iCal info drawer back!! …”
And this thread starts with a post I’ll quote in full, because it sums up the problem:
Is it just me…but why does it seem like iCal is way harder to use in Leopard?!?!?! Just look at the number of steps/clicks it takes just to enter an entry.
In month view, you double click on the day, but you can only enter in a title. you have to double click on the new event before you can enter in any details or even a time. And the box that pop-up is a tiny little box. In the old version of ical you could enter in everything in the right hand panel right away.
Then there is viewing events you have to double the event to get a little pop-up in order to see the details of the event. All you had to do before was click on an event and it would display in the side panel. Much much easier and less work.
Does the new ical bother anyone else? or is it just me? it just seems like they rushed it. there’s lots of other little annoyances and inconsistencies in it too.