The Sunlight Foundation just announced the winners of its Design for America contest, in which they asked designers to come up with innovative visualizations of government data, and things like redesigns of government websites. Not every one will change your life, but there are definitely some great ideas there. For instance, look at the proposal for a redesign of the IRS website by a design firm called A Good Company; then look at the big bag of nothing that is the actual IRS website. The difference shows just how useful, informative, and generally pleasing government websites could be, and how bad they often are.
When the House passed a defense authorization bill last week, the big news was that an amendment providing for the repeal of the ban on gays serving in the military was included. But there was something else notable about it too: the price tag. The bill came to $726 billion. In a break from the Bush years, it actually provides for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of declaring those to be "emergency" spending, as though we didn't see it coming. But here's what I'd like to know: Where are all those "fiscal conservatives" who said that it just cost too darn much to extend unemployment benefits? That we have to live within our means, and stop borrowing money?
Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (DoD/Chad J. McNeeley)
Ask a schoolchild about the civil-rights movement, and he'll tell you that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, then Martin Luther King Jr. gave the "I Have a Dream" speech, then some laws were passed, and now everyone's equal. The truth, of course, is that things moved much slower than that. Ten years passed between the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ordering the desegregation of schools, and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, for instance. And if legal changes are slow, changes in beliefs and attitudes can be glacial in their progress.
Congress has taken two big steps toward ending the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.
In quick succession Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full House approved measures to repeal the 1993 law that allows gay people to serve in the armed services only if they hide their sexual orientation. ...
We have a conceit in this country that the closer power gets to "the people," the more virtuous it is. Your local town council members are fine upstanding folks, your state legislature is still close enough to be "in touch," but those people up in Washington don't know or care a darn bit about you, and are probably on the take.