Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ideas: Past, Present and Future - Oy!

A Close Call With A Stupid Idea
Senate Rejects Flag Desecration Amendment – Washington Post, June 28, 2006

With all the pressing societal issues that need to be addressed (the Iraq War, Katrina Rebuilding, Energy Independence) why is the Congress of the United States busy worrying about flag burning (which, by the way, is how you are supposed to retire a worn out flag)?

The Senate rejected by a single vote yesterday an effort to amend the Constitution to allow Congress to ban desecration of the American flag, after a two-day debate freighted with political calculations and sharp disputes over the limits of free speech.

A Call For A Stupid Idea
Bush Calls on Senate to Pass Line-Item Veto – Washington Post, June 28, 2006

Why would the United States Congress give up more power to the Executive Branch by giving the President a line-item veto (of course the current majority in the Legislative Branch seems to care less about the balance of power between the branches of government then about maintaining their power over all the branches of government)?

President Bush pushed the Senate yesterday to give him and his successors the power to strip special projects out of spending bills, part of a broader political effort to assuage disaffected supporters that he really is a fiscal conservative despite the growth of government on his watch.

The president summoned key senators to the White House and later gave a speech promoting a line-item veto to fight earmarks, or spending requests that members of Congress slip into larger bills without going through the normal budget process. The House has passed one version of the proposal and another is waiting for a vote on the Senate floor.

An Idea Whose Time Is Past
The Superhighway to Everywhere – Washington Post, June 28, 2006

We should celebrate the 50th birthday of the Interstate Highway System but declaring victory over “roadlessness” and move on to building a world class system of mass transit and interurban high speed rail service. There are at least three benefits from this project: jobs, a healthier environment and motivation for all of us to get some exercise by walking to the train station.

On June 29, 1956 . . . President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the law launching a massive federal project that had been his dream for decades: the Interstate Highway System.

To mark the 50th birthday of one of the most ambitious and consequential engineering projects in human history, a caravan of highway figures led by Eisenhower's great-grandson has been traveling across the country by interstate and will arrive in the District of Columbia on Thursday. They have been celebrating a system that includes 47,000 miles of highway with 55,500 bridges, 104 tunnels, 14,750 interchanges and zero traffic lights.

An Idea That Should Be Put In The Past
A Single Person Could Swing an Election- Washington Post, June 28, 2006

Why the United States needed an electronic voting system (and a faulty one at that), when many advanced democracies in the world use “old fashion” paper ballots to count votes is a mystery that some political scientist will have to answer some day. We can blame it on Federalism or Gore v. Bush for our current debacle, but let’s get back to a system that works, fast.

To determine what it would take to hack a U.S. election, a team of cybersecurity experts turned to a fictional battleground state called Pennasota and a fictional gubernatorial race between Tom Jefferson and Johnny Adams. It's the year 2007, and the state uses electronic voting machines.

Jefferson was forecast to win the race by about 80,000 votes, or 2.3 percent of the vote. Adams's conspirators thought, "How easily can we manipulate the election results?"

The experts thought about all the ways to do it. And they concluded in a report issued yesterday that it would take only one person, with a sophisticated technical knowledge and timely access to the software that runs the voting machines, to change the outcome.


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