Saturday, 1 March 2003

That Quis^H^H^H^HKeisling guy; Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

I'm with Dan Drezner on this one; his resignation letter read more like a string of quotes from Sen. Diane Feinstein's talking points than it did as a coherent philosophical statement.

In the morning: why the Europeans don't understand America's reaction to terror, and why it really doesn't matter. Before I write it, though, I have to get some sleep.

Speaking of sleep, I won't be losing any over what's probably happening to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his al-Qaeda buddies (via Michele, who's collecting suggestions on what to do with him). This is the same bozo who admitted in an al-Jazeera interview in 2002 that he masterminded 9/11, so I think it's pretty safe to say he's not going to ever meet a U.S. executioner — if he ever sees a U.S. trial, he won't last a week past sentencing. I say we just put him in the exercise yard at Rikers Island and tell the guards to take a long lunch break.

Transportation agencies: please put EISes online

One of my biggest pet peeves as a roadgeek is the seeming impossibility of getting any information on a highway project if you can't make it to a public meeting. While DOTs are getting better about posting their public meetings online (Tennessee's dedicated calendar is probably the best in the Mid-South, while Arkansas at least puts theirs online in the news releases; Mississippi posts the notices rarely in their news release section; and Alabama not at all), you've still got to get to the meeting. Because if you miss the meeting, you'll never find a copy of the environmental impact statement (EIS) or other documentation without spending the rest of your life looking for it, it seems.

There are some notable exceptions to this situation: Indiana DOT has put all of its documentation online at the project website for Interstate 69 in southwestern Indiana, as has the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Hoover Dam Bypass project (among others). But most of the time, the EISes just disappear into a virtual black hole, seemingly uncataloged (or at least, not cataloged under any name that seems logical) and gathering dust in a local library. Since all of these documents are produced electronically today, products like Adobe Acrobat's “Distiller” could easily be used to prepare portable online versions of the EIS, and agencies could distribute the EIS more readily over the web and on recordable CDs. It would make the process more transparent to the public and be a low-cost way to include more people in transportation planning and similar processes. So why are so few states doing it?

The only conclusion I can reach is that the federal agencies that ask for this documentation don't require states to put these documents online. While I'm not generally a big fan of federal mandates, this seems to be one case where the mandate might in fact be justified — the costs are low and the potential benefits quite high. It's a requirement Congress should seriously consider adding to the TEA-21 reauthorization bill due this fall.

Looking at the governor's race

The Political State Report has added a new poster who's covering Mississippi politics, “JaxGenerals.” He's got an interesting post up today, part of a series on the upcoming statewide races, on how Haley Barbour has apparently cornered the primary field (note, however, that the field isn't closed until the end of Saturday; someone else could still slip in the primary). According to the Mississippi GOP, his only opponent in the primary is Mitchell H. “Mitch” Tyner.

Meanwhile, the current lists of Democratic and Republican primary candidates are up on the state parties' websites. It looks like the incumbent whose seat I'm running for has attracted some primary opposition, while I'm free and clear at the moment. As always, the Magnolia Political Report website should have the latest news.

A practical way to support our troops

Check out Michele's new TroopTrax project for a good way to support the U.S. servicemen and women who are putting their lives on the line for us and the Iraqi people. It'll do more good than hecking anti-war protestors, and it's good for the soul too. (The downside is that those asshats* at the RIAA will end up getting some of the money. Ah well, the universe ain't perfect.)

* Yes, that's not a nice word on my first official day as a candidate for public office, but if I can't call the RIAA asshats, what is the universe coming to?

More meta crud

David Janes has added a new feature called ThreadTrack to Janes' Blogosphere; it's an excellent way to see what other weblogs are talking about the same topics, in a bit less linear a way than things like Technorati, BlogDex, and DayPop. Be sure to visit his site for details on how you can enable ThreadTrack in your blog; it's enabled here with the » (n) links you can see at the bottom of each entry.

Also, I've added some cool new stuff in the backend that won't be noticeable by most anyone except me; most notably, each entry is now being processed by Tidy to convert it to valid XHTML, which improves the new full-content feed via the RSS backend, to help aggregators.