December 31, 2006
If you had too many on New Year's Eve, and are feeling the pain come Monday morning, here's a little trick I tried recently:
Fill a beer glass half full with tomato juice (or V8, or spicy V8, or something similar).
Fill glass to top with beer. (I opted for Miller High Life.)
It sounds less than appetizing (although, what constitutes "appetizing" in this condition?), but it helps. It tasted surprisingly refreshing, and the queasiness was gone within minutes. A squeeze of fresh lemon would have been nice, but I was out, as I had used the lemon the night before in highballs made with Wild Turkey 101 and Vernor's ginger ale.
Credit is due The Bar Blog for the tip.
Obviously, the best practice is to avoid getting into that situation. But, occasionally, we have too much. What's your hangover cure?
What Is My Recycling Zone? What's Yours? Map Here
I'm pretty good with geography. I have a somewhat developed sense of direction, an affinity for reading maps (I waste hours poring over Asia Minor in Google Earth), and good comprehension. I find, and use, routes that are closer to "as the crow flies" than to the typical superhighway loop. I've been around the Chattanooga area since the late 1980's, with only minor sabbaticals in states that start with 'M'.
But even with my modest-plus skills, I could not have told you, after reading the card that came in the mail, what zone my residence fell into with regard to the new recycling plan. I'm serious; and apparently I'm not alone.
"East of I-75, West of Highway 153" -- come on, what is that supposed to mean? That's no more logical than "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." Mayor Littlefield's administration has made a boondoggle of this whole recycling mess from the get-go (with big help from non-participating city dwellers, to be sure). And I've got huge piles of stuff waiting for my January 10 pickup. I may as well just take everything to Warner Park, since I have to take glass, shredded paper, and other things there anyway. I guess that's what they want to happen.
According to NewsChannel9, a government web page has a map, and I'm looking for it, with the purpose of sharing it with all of you here. I realize that a graphic might still as well be Greek to some people, but it may help others. Feel free to leave a comment if you don't know your zone, and I'll do my best to respond -- or just call 311. They get paid, but I'm happy to volunteer the information.
The only thing I've found on Chattanooga.gov so far is a PowerPoint file, and I don't have MS Office for the Mac. Can someone confirm that that's where the map is? I checked the GIS site, and although that department is to be highly commended for continuing to add important civic/political layers (now with voting precincts!), I couldn't get a good visual by clicking the Recycling Collection option there. Perhaps it's still under development.
When I find a map, I promise to post it, so that as many as possible can at least have the information that must accompany any desire to help keep our great city clean and sustainable.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, January 2, at 11:00 AM, you might possibly get a map from a raccoon. Some of us work, and can't wander down to the Waterhouse Pavilion in the middle of the day. I'm going to, though, because I can pick up Subway or something for lunch and take it back to the desk. There are 30-minute free Wi-Fi accounts down there, so if I get a chance, I'll grab a photo and post it.
UPDATE 2, 12/31: One of our city's most valuable reporters, Herman Wang, has a story in today's TFP, and it includes a map (credited to Beck Towery). Mr. Wang has followed the recycling debacle with admirable dedication, and his article suggests that we'll hear more from outspoken critic Frank DePinto and crew in the months ahead. On to the map -- would it have killed them to put it in color?
December 29, 2006
Another Year Winds Down
Executive bonuses are in the news. I'm of two minds on that issue, but mostly I think that the affected shareholders ought to think twice about their board elections next time around, if they think the payouts too extravagant in relation to the business. I was raised to consider extreme wealth as immoral, and that's a difficult mindset to deprogram, but I'm coming along. There's so much to learn in life.
School break has been nice, but it will be over soon. No, you remember right, the boy is young yet, and I'm not in school; but I might not have mentioned that the wife is. She pulled straight A's for her first semester of grad school -- naturally. Week after next, the one-car juggle resumes. But hey, families didn't used to have two (or more) cars. Hell, they didn't have one, for most of history.
But this car has been -- and this is sad to say, because I once adopted the Deadheads' shallow affection for VW -- a real lemon. I'm facing several repairs that just shouldn't have to happen, but especially the second go-round with the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve. Stupid me for not knowing that the TDI technology wasn't quite cooked in 1999, which makes the 2000 TDI burn not so cleanly. Plus, the car's poor quality interior parts break off in your hand. And Diesel prices just won't come down. Oh, well. I'm not totally soured on Volkswagen from this one experience, but the wife is. I'm thinking a nice made-in-America Asian model will serve us well next time around. I "loved" my Honda Accord.
I want such big things for this blog, this website, this domain; but energy and organization have been short around here. Voters (and the latent electorate) need info and insight, but they have to be aware of those needs first. I'm not saying I offer it all, but I will do what I am able.
It's back to watching the General Assembly exhibit their best efforts at representation in the coming months. I want to approach this session with a hopeful outlook. So, I will, but I won't be naïve enough to be shocked by more shenanigans. You should expect at least perfunctory coverage on this website of the special elections to replace Henri Brooks and Steve Cohen.
I don't have the standing to complain about anything, given the myriad plights out there that cast my woes as miniscule, but I will anyway. Some. Truthfully, there are a great many fortunate aspects to my life that I don't spend enough time acknowledging. Consider it resolved that I will do more of that.
However, I also reserve the right to remain as sarcastic as I can be, all year long. You're welcome.
Amazing New Idea in the Congress
Democrats to Push Ethics Reforms
ETHICS OVERHAULS top Democrats’ to-do list.
Wasn't it a cadre of highly unethical Democrats that gave rise to the 1994 "revolution," which was of course followed by a spate of highly unethical GOP behavior?
So, just wondering: what's going to be different this time?
Not convinced? Skeptical of my skepticism? See another Goddard find.
December 27, 2006
What's This A Sign Of?
Roger Abramson has a few ideas as to why [some dude in Nashville with whom I'm not familiar] included "Feliz Navidad" as one of the holiday phrases he doesn't want to hear. (Yes, he wants "Merry Christmas" only, like me.)
Here's what I don't get: how backward can this guy be, if the "Family" in Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas from the Family" bests him?
Little Sister brought her new boyfriend
He was a Mexican
We didn't know what to thank of him
Til he sang, Feliz Navidad,
I can hang with rednecks. This guy is apparently something else.
(Thanks for the edit, Roger. Also, there's more at VolunteerVoters.)
December 20, 2006
In the Pulse: Top Ten Predictions for 2007
Whee, Next Year Is Election-free - Top ten predictions for what our government does with its mandate
I took a gander at last year’s top ten list, and found that I batted somewhere close to .500 on my predictions, give or take. That’s reason enough to take this year’s installment with a few grains of salt, but here goes....
State of Health
The kinks aren’t close to being worked out in the triple healthcare package Governor Bredesen introduced to rehabilitate TennCare. Look for much political wrangling, with the healthcare and insurance industries holding the reins a little too tightly.
A Special Time
The General Assembly lost a net two members, one from each chamber, due to election to other government positions. Former House Rep. Henri Brooks resigned after being elected to the Shelby County Commission. Former Senator Steve Cohen is one of three congressional freshmen from the Volunteer State. Each seat will be filled by special election, though the District 30 Senate seat has been given an interim seatwarmer named Shea Flinn. There’s little chance for any power shifts after these elections, for each district “belongs to” the Democrats, but it’s always worth keeping up with new General Assembly members as they come on board.
Cohen to a Party
Speaking of the progressive stalwart, soon-to-be U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen wasted no time in planting his feet firmly on Washington’s left shoulder. His satisfaction with being named to the Judiciary Committee – because, he reminded us, that’s where any impeachment proceedings against President Bush would likely start – portends a no-holds-barred approach to his new position that, frankly, garners affirmative reactions from political foes as much as from his “base.” Cohen will legislate from the left despite the overall sense that the new Democratic majority has a centrist taproot, and will reward those of us watching with a principled performance.
The Tennessee Senate has become a veritable circus of late. Try to stay with me here: in the last session, Republicans held a slim majority, but two “defectors” (Mike Williams and Tim Burchett) gave John Wilder the votes needed to remain Speaker, and therefore Lieutenant Governor. In 2006, Senator Don McCleary, elected as a Democrat, defected to the GOP and briefly added to their majority. However, in the November election, McCleary was ousted by Lowe Finney, which gave that seat back to the Dems. In addition, Sen. Burchett was enticed (threatened?) into supporting the GOP contender, Ron Ramsey, next time around. That left Mike Williams the lone wild card, and he appears to be eyeing another vote for Wilder. But wait – there’s more. Enter the Democratic counter-insurgency, courtesy of Sen. Joe Haynes, who is leading a charge against Wilder. The question is (at press time), is Haynes gunning for the post himself, or asking Democrats to offset Williams and vote for Ramsey? (BREAKING: Haynes will challenge Wilder.) And yet another acrobatic feat: 17 votes are needed to defeat Wilder, which means, if I understand correctly, if Ramsey were to get 16, and Haynes 16 more, and Wilder votes for himself, Wilder remains. I am predicting that very outcome: despite all the wrangling, John Wilder will continue his record-setting tenure. Even if I’m wrong, early January will be a hot time in Tennessee’s senior legislative body.
Mayor Ron Littlefield plans to move ahead and build a homeless campus downtown. The uproar from pro- and anti- forces will continue to drown out reasonable discourse on how to effectively manage municipal resources and assure safety to all citizens.
After 2006 started with a special legislative session on ethics, it took most of the year to implement the resulting recommendations. Hundreds of new lobbyist registrations have been data-entered, and we can see these on the new website. However, the new commission kicked things off with a controversial action on its own part, so it’s fairly easy to predict that there will be more to come as next year unfolds. What did they do? Well, they held discussions on policy via E-mail, away from public view. That’s a fine thing for an organization whose sole purpose is ensuring ethical government.
Blue Cross Blue Shield’s new corporate headquarters are being built atop Cameron Hill, and the oodles of already empty cubic feet in the Central Business District will soon be exponentially augmented. This is not really a big political story, but it’s one to watch, even if it’s for the sheer delight of observing large construction projects. In other construction news, Enterprise South...nah, never mind.
Crutchfield, Ward 19
One of last year’s predictions that I admittedly got wrong was that Sen. Ward Crutchfield would be on trial this year for the federal bribery charges against him in Operation Tennessee Waltz. Who gets arrested in May 2005, but doesn’t see a trial until 2007? Oh yeah: fellow waltzer John Ford, who now faces even more corruption charges. But surely we can count on a Crutchfield trial this coming year. Then things get interesting in terms of a District 10 replacement. I hereby invite public comment on the matter. Who’s up for it?
Blog Bubble Bursts
2006 wasn’t the year of the blog. I’m thinking that either 2000 or 2001 was, but I could be wrong. Regardless, next year will see a slowdown in the phenomenon. You may call it saturation; I refer you to the Law of Diminishing Returns. Besides, when Time magazine names the vast, vague collection of web content providers and consumers as its “person” of the year, you know it’s over. But hey, at least we beat out the rather pedestrian Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. (By the way, didn’t I read that the Iranian president had started blogging? That would be another signal of the technology’s impending lukewarmness, not to mention that every congressman is now being set up with a blog.)
Yikes, there are all kinds of possibilities for 2007 on the world front, and not many of them are filled with hope and joy. India continues to emerge; Iran and Saudi Arabia stir up some inter-Islamic dust storms; Russia devolves further; North Korea runs more tests; Cuba softens; China is pissed about all of the above. Africa continues to be ignored by all but the usual celebrity do-gooders. The 2008 race for United States president is decided a year before we voters play our largely ceremonial roles. The war in Iraq drags on beyond even the most fervent neo-con’s capacity for tolerance. Meanwhile, though, the average person, regardless of borders, banks, talks, or tanks, strives to eat, work, live, and play as always.
Happy New Year.
[This column appears in the December 20, 2006 Pulse.]
December 18, 2006
A Moment of Attribution
I have a writing problem. No, it's not "block," though I often suffer from that.
It's the inability to effectively manage writing for a weekly publication such as the Pulse when I also run a weblog. There are so many differences, and there is so little time to adequately make the distinction.
The one difference I'm talking about tonight is the ability, in blogging, to hyperlink as a means of sourcing the material that goes into one's thoughts. This technique is not available when preparing for a print publication, so the latter always leaves me feeling strange.
I'm an honest person, and I would never intentionally pass off text as my own that I didn't compose. However, the lines get fuzzier when my composition is arguably a distillation of things I've read on various websites. Were I writing in this medium, I would very liberally link to posts and articles that inspired my output; but the conundrum is that in a paper column, there simply isn't room to list every piece, and its author and date, that may have helped spark a sentence or two. Beyond the layout problem, there's simply the matter of readability to consider. (URLs are much prettier when wearing the linked text.)
So, until I figure out how to best address this, let me just list a few (and here's what's worse: I'll miss someone) of the primary writers and publications that inform my weekly Pulse writing. Thanks to each of you for all you do.
A.C. Kleinheider of Volunteer Voters
Adam Groves of Tennessee Politics Blog
Michael Silence of No Silence Here
Jackson Baker of The Memphis Flyer
Bill Hobbs of BillHobbs.com
Sean Braisted of Nashville for the 21st Century
Brittney Gilbert of Nashville is Talking
Various authors at KnoxViews
The Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee stories feed)
So, now you know my most often-used sources, in a general way. I welcome your comments on how to best acknowledge them going forward.
December 17, 2006
Politicians Sign Up to Use Web, but Do They Know How?
While perusing one of my favorite new feeds, the Political Insider, I came across news that the United States House of Representatives is about to begin blogging. Software has been approved to provide a blog for all 435 (437?) Members.
I do stand with those who tend to applaud blogging legislators; but I reserve plenty of room for ridicule, to dole out when appropriate. After all, there have to be some duds on the way.
The story fits well with some commentary that I discovered quite by accident, while researching how to treat a broken toe at home (don't ask), at this blog. The author muses about French politicians, but her comments are equally appropriate here, I would think:
For me, [the politicians] were the best part [of Le Web 3]. Why? Precisely because they didn't say anything. Everyone's always telling me that politicians now understand the web, want to be a part of it, want to listen to their constituents. I found the French [politicians'] attitude proof that they were just as clueless as American politicians. They know that this tech thing is important but they don't actually understand it, and still they want to find a way to manipulate it to make them look good.
December 15, 2006
FOX News is reporting that U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) will not run for President in 2008.
This is somewhat interesting, because his name has been out there for quite some time with regard to this race.
(UPDATED to reflect the Senator's actual party affiliation.)
December 13, 2006
House of SAD and Fog
There's little doubt about one member of the family, but I'm beginning to think that all three of us may in fact have at least a touch of the Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
That, and a medical condition known to cause fatigue (among other things) that I found out recently that I almost certainly* have, have contributed to a sore lack of upkeep on the blog here; and you may have noticed that there's no Civic Forum in today's Pulse.
There are all kinds of news and opinion out there, and I trust that you are reading the right sources for them.
To any other SAD sufferers: it's about a week until Solstice, after which the light starts coming back. It's a longer haul to Vernal Equinox, but you'll make it.
I'll close with this thought: I think even I would have voted for Bill Dunn. Everything I've heard about the guy suggests that, though we wouldn't see things the same way in many cases, he's genuine. This is a quality that unfortunately doesn't often accompany great political skill. The latter is a short-term asset, sure; but I'd rather keep most of my holdings in the long-term quality sector.
*We'll know more after a procedure on Thursday.
December 11, 2006
Extreme Housewives Coupon Classics and Today's Favorites
The rest of us had to just sit here and wait for any news, but some people managed to attend the FCC public hearing on media consolidation today. Our silver lining is that it was held in Nashville, which enabled WKRN's A.C. Kleinheider to attend.
Taking one of A.C.'s examples local: what if, say, the Times Free Press bought NewsChannel9? Would any of us care, as long as we still got our shows and our celebrity gossip? Think about it: "Star Watch" would be on TV, too....
I'll dangle this quote, but then be sure to visit and examine the perspective:
This is the most interesting aspect of this debate. Most people here are here in protest of consolidation and they are doing so from the left side of the political spectrum....How did this happen? When did conservatives stop caring about local control? When did conservatives start thinking that centralized power was [...] an unqualified good? Centralization is centralization, is it not?
December 9, 2006
Local Blogmaster Queries Mayor
The good news is that the mayor responded. Go read the questions and answers at Chattanoogan.com.
This is the kind of thing that should happen more. Not all of us can attend City Council or other meetings at their appointed times; but we can publicly contact our elected officials and ask them to explain their objectives. Whether or not we're satisfied with the explanation, Mayor Littlefield also deserves an "attaboy" for his response.
Let's keep this up.
Mr. Roe is Vice-President of Medium, Inc., a web design firm with a growing list of happy clients; and he has served in several key civic roles in the St. Elmo area.
December 8, 2006
Battle for the General Assembly 2010
Never mind Rudy, Hillary, Brownback or Obama. Governor Phil's officially out of the running, so Tennessee's political minds are staying closer to home and looking at the 2008 legislative elections already.
Never mind that I haven't updated this site much since this year's go-round.
Never mind that the really hardcore strategists are actually working on plans beyond 2010, according to a senior staffer for one of our Congressmen. Yes, redistricting happens in just over 4 years; Republicans have 2 elections left in which to try and take full control of the General Assembly. In case you've forgotten what Coach Ironsides mumbled in Government class, state legislatures typically redraw the congressional district boundaries once a decade, after each constitutional census. I sure hope the John Tanner reform bill is in effect by then.
The GOP could probably coast on incumbency in 2010, if they could just get there in 2008. Tennessee Dems would be busy licking wounds and rethinking themselves. The national dynamic will be an interesting, if not overly significant (see: Bob Corker's 2006 win), input to this process. The open gubernatorial seat will as well. Expect the latter to be a big fight, or three (two primaries and the general).
In a way, there is quite a lot hanging on Sen. Mike Williams' January 2007 decision. I've stated before that I think each Senator's vote for Speaker (or for anything else) should be as an individual, not as a partisan. I just happen to disagree with Williams' apparent choice.
December 7, 2006
No Shuttle Launch
9:37 p.m. - Space Shuttle Discovery is being safed. There's no word just yet on when the next launch attempt might be; weather at Kennedy tomorrow is expected to be worse than today, with little improvement Saturday.
-- from the Launch Blog at www.nasa.gov
Take A Coat for the Homeless
I don't care what you think about the reasons for homelessness; tonight is cold, and tomorrow night will be as well.
Sharon Cobb reminds us what to do.
I can probably scrounge up a couple of spare blankets. Where is the best place in Chattanooga to find someone that needs one? Downtown? North Shore?
UPDATE: WTVC's reporters on WDSI (Fox 61) just listed large men's coats, gloves, and socks as more urgent needs than blankets, according to the Salvation Army.
December 6, 2006
I Can't Believe Campfield Lost
Georgia State Rep. Calvin Smyre was elected as the new president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
NBCSL on Sunday concluded its annual conference in Jackson, Mississippi. Smyre replaces outgoing president Mary Coleman, a Mississippi state representative.
-- The Thicket
Sci-Fi Comes True...but only out West so far
Tennessee’s political landscape erupted last week over a poorly researched report that intimated serious electoral repercussions were due Senator Mark Norris of Collierville. The word was that Norris, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman, was proposing a satellite tracking device in every vehicle(!), to assess road user fees by miles tracked, as an alternative to the current 21.4-cent gas tax. Despite the misinformation – a recounting of some of the ways states are looking to replace diminishing transportation revenue, by the one state Senator who should know these things, was somehow transformed into his “proposal” – there is a story here. At issue is how the federal government proactively foments legislative initiatives in the sovereign states that make up our republic.
Operating on a general impression that we aren’t typically the first state to try things, I did a quick internet search to see if this idea had by chance been “floated” anywhere else. Sure enough, there was a column, from about a year ago, right there at the top of the list. (Declan McCullagh, “E-tracking, coming to a DMV near you,” C|NET News, December 5, 2005.) In it, Oregon and Washington were named as two states that had received piles of federal grant money to pilot the program. Yes, the U.S. Department of Transportation is behind this idea. It brings to mind a popular thriller movie cliché: “I repeat, ma’am, the call is coming from inside the Beltway.”
Do you remember the drinking age being raised to 21? More recently, do you recall changes in seat belt laws? Highway money (hmm, theme here) was the dope, states were the fiends, and Uncle Sam – well, he was the pusher. Excuse the coarse analogy, but somehow “carrot and stick” doesn’t do the situation justice. Besides, “mule” (read: member of Congress) has a whole different meaning in this metaphor.
While a usage fee seems innocuous enough taken alone, the idea of government watching every inch one’s wheels travel has to be one of the worst since – well, how about since never? At least the illegal NSA wiretap program was meant to protect us from turrists. This bug-in-your-car plan is just creepy. And no, I’m not just bitter because driving my family’s relatively fuel-efficient vehicle would cause me to send more to the state coffers if taxes were calculated by miles traveled rather than by petroleum consumed. That’s hardly the point. (By the way, how is a gasoline tax so much less worthy a “user fee” than the tracked-miles plan? The more you drive, the more – ultimately, even with hybrid or turbo diesel engines – gas you need, and so your usage of the roads is effectively apportioned in that tax, is it not?)
Now then, you’re saying, if all vehicles go low-fuel, the gas tax will indeed dry up. Doesn’t there need to be a plan in place if we truly make transitional strides off the oil energy platform? Sure. Reduced gasoline usage means lower revenue, and though the deflation of government is (arguably) an overall goal, such has to be done wisely. Besides, public thoroughfares remain a core output of a properly trimmed administering entity. But the sacrifice that would come with a GPS system for user fees – and the logical flaws that accompany the notion – are not the direction to go. We need to make sure that our state leaders “just say no” to that federal cash, even if Tennessee escaped the “eye in the sky” this time.
What did “Tommy” know, and when did he know it?
A fortunate hundred people, give or take, had the recent pleasure of hearing an informal lecture by esteemed former U.S. Senator Howard Baker, Jr. You know, he was the top Republican on the Watergate investigative panel who asked that now-famous question. And, yes, he was Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan, United States Ambassador to Japan until last year, and has held several other stellar, résumé-friendly positions.
Beside the guest of honor himself, though, was the person chosen to facilitate the conversation: Tom Griscom, Publisher and Executive Editor of [another newspaper somewhere around here]. As a transplant, I’m still learning my Tennessee history, so it was news to me that Griscom had once served as Senator Baker’s press secretary. Their rapport loaned the interview a comfortable tone, and with Baker’s storied congeniality turned up to eleven, you would’ve sworn there was a fireplace in the UTC auditorium.
Baker talked of world dynamics (the Korean peninsula is the most dangerous area), the conflict in Baghdad (call it “civil war” or whatever; don’t leave the Iraqi citizens “to the wolves”), and how folks need to start getting along in Washington. He prescribed a process whereby the President and his cabinet and staff would “open the channels to compare notes” with the new leadership in Congress, to discover shared policy objectives. Would that that would actually happen. The event was over quickly, and the common citizens set about to mingle with their, oh yeah, peers, or to simply get back to work. Dignitaries in attendance included the city and county mayors, Congressman Zach Wamp, newly elected state Senator Bo Watson, and various private-sector leaders.
As we were leaving, a friend turned to me and observed that we had just been part of a national event. I couldn’t agree more.
[This column appears in the December 6, 2006 Pulse.]
December 5, 2006
When You Get Time
Here are some topics:
What does a Deputy Governor do? Someone's getting ready to find out, as longtime Bredesen aide Dave Cooley announced his resignation late Friday.
Everyone Loves Awards
Especially when they get to vote on who receives them. The year's best political happenings. Tennessee Politics Blog is presenting.
Wait, Which Is Peter, Again?
Lobbyists are paid to curry favor from government. So why are governments hiring lobbyists? Simple, Joe: to lobby other governments. Wait. Who pays the lobbyists? Where does the money come from that the lobbyists successfully procure?
I thought the Lord had someone smite the Buchananites back in the day.
Or, my timing's off a few thou. Anyway, a throng of people fitting the description is supposedly out of reach in "aught eight", and therefore no unity is forecast. Might as well blow up the moon.
December 1, 2006
I Admit To Writing A Story About Norris
I just didn't get it published before the eye-in-the-sky road tax story morphed into a tale about a newspaper and a couple of awkward moments with its readers -- not to mention their stories' subjects.
Information travels fast around here, as does misinformation. I would have been just as surprised as some other bloggers had I simply found the time to clean up a couple of sentences and click Publish. Then again, I'd have had a lot fewer of you in need of an apology. It's funny: my opening sentence began "Thanks to my trusted informants in the blogosphere...." The point I'm trying to make by revealing that is that, in the vast majority of cases, bloggers (and reporters) do get it right.
Mistakes are made, but to recover from them most thoroughly, one must do what several have already had the opportunity and wherewithal to do in this case: own up, apologize, correct the facts, and move on. I realize that's easier for me to say because I'm sitting over here without having been on the bandwagon (that you could see); but you can ask my editor. I was fired up about this idea and had put some time into articulating a measured but incisive response.
For what it's worth, based on the limited research I was able to do, there is a story here, but perhaps it should be told in Oregon first, where they really are testing a GPS-enabled user fee system. I don't know which is worse, that or the fact that the US Department of Transportation is who's shopping this scheme around to whatever state will buy. It is a questionable practice for the federal government to proactively foment legislative initiatives at the state level, and it is particularly unpalatable for them to do so by waving sackfuls of grant money under the noses of cash-jonesed state agents. But it is downright despicable when it involves imposing unthinkable restrictions on freedom as a by-product.
The lesson here for all is: keep a sharp lookout. Everywhere.