Nero's Fiddle
A View From The Handbasket

Thursday, January 04, 2007
Wait a minute, Mr. Postman
Posted by neros_fiddle at 8:41 AM
For President Bush, rights are a zero-sum game. He takes them away from the people, and assigns them to himself:

President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

So now the administration has decided that phone calls, financial records, internet traffic and postal mail are fair game without any sort of judicial oversight at all. It's just a matter of time before the front door gets added to the list.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Justice, American-style
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:53 AM

Judging from the videos and this NYT article, Saddam was executed by a bunch of guys in leather jackets and ski masks chanting the name of Muqtada al-Sadr. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government seemed mainly interested in how to circumvent existing law in order to speed up the hanging.

Sounds like freedom to me.

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Random thoughts after a week in London
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:29 AM

  1. My feet hurt.

  2. The overwhelming impression is one of age. One can tell that the city has been around for many, many centuries simply by walking its streets, which are narrow and chaotic (and utterly ungridlike). If something is labeled as "new," chances are that means it's only a couple hundred years old. For someone from the States, where most development post-dates the automobile, it is more than a little surreal.

  3. Geeky tourist moment: emerging from the Westminister tube station to find ourselves across the street from Big Ben as it chimed the quarter hour.

  4. The British Museum is a stunning repository. While there is certainly plenty of controversy about many of the items it holds and where those items ought to reside, you cannot argue against the impressiveness of the collection.

  5. Our hotel was nearest the Russell Square tube station, so that became our home base for exploring the city. Only at the end of our stay did I realize that it was the epicenter of the 7/7/05 bombings. That fact speaks volumes about the British resolve to not let the fear or terrorism dominate their day-to-day lives.

  6. At American airports, you can have two carry-on bags but have to remove your shoes. At Heathrow, you can have only one carry-on (but you are encouraged by the security workers to put one inside another as a loophole) and only some people have to remove shoes (my wife did, I didn't). This is all a charade, isn't it?

  7. Big thanks to the government for driving our debt out of sight and reducing the dollar to a sad joke. At two dollars per pound, we couldn't afford to stay much longer than a week.

  8. Speaking of cash, the British seem to be increasingly aggressive about getting rid of small-change paper money. The smallest note is five pounds, and apparently no fresh bills of that denomination are being circulated. With the fabulous Oyster card, cash is irrelevant for public transport.

  9. ITV news uses the phrase "Bush regime."

Happy new year, and let's get back to it.

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