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Current Topic: Politics and Law

Reported Stimulus Package Would Provide Little Immediate Boost Due to Removal of Most Effective Provisions
Topic: Politics and Law 10:08 am EST, Jan 27, 2008

Nose, face, spite.

Changes reportedly made last night in the stimulus package would reduce its effectiveness as stimulus. Although the package includes a reasonably designed tax rebate, the two most targeted and economically effective measures under consideration — a temporary extension of unemployment benefits and a temporary boost in food stamp benefits — were zeroed out, apparently at the insistence of House Republican leaders.

The two respected institutions that have rated stimulus options in recent days — the Congressional Budget Office and Moody’s — both give their two highest ratings for effectiveness as stimulus to the two measures that were dropped.

Reported Stimulus Package Would Provide Little Immediate Boost Due to Removal of Most Effective Provisions

Iowa By the Numbers
Topic: Politics and Law 9:20 am EST, Jan  4, 2008

1. Obama beat Hillary among women voters 35 to 30 percent.
2. Amid record Democratic turnout, as many people under 30 showed up to caucus as those over 65.
3. Sixty percent of the GOP electorate in Iowa were born-again Christians.
4. Rudy Giuliani finished with a mere 4,013 votes, in sixth place, with less than half of the support of Ron Paul.

Maybe he's not so Ready after all.

Everyone is talking about Huckabee. His honest expressions of faith I think have wider appeal than his actual evangelical policy stances. But is this a fluke or does this guy really have a chance of becoming the nominee? I'm been assuming the former, anyone disagree?

Iowa By the Numbers

Three cures for three crises | Brad DeLong, in the Taipei Times
Topic: Politics and Law 11:29 pm EST, Jan  3, 2008

Since late summer, the US Federal Reserve has been attempting to manage the slow-moving financial crisis triggered by the collapse of the US housing bubble.

At the start, the Fed assumed that it was facing a first-mode crisis -- a mere liquidity crisis -- and that the principal cure would be to ensure the liquidity of fundamentally solvent institutions.

But the Fed has shifted over the past two months toward policies aimed at a second-mode crisis -- more significant monetary loosening, despite the risks of higher inflation, extra moral hazard and unjust redistribution.

As Fed Vice Chair Don Kohn recently put it: "We should not hold the economy hostage to teach a small segment of the population a lesson."

No policymakers are yet considering the possibility that the financial crisis might turn out to be in the third mode.

This is a scariest thing I've read in the past few months.

Three cures for three crises | Brad DeLong, in the Taipei Times

Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?
Topic: Politics and Law 8:43 pm EDT, Aug  6, 2007

The following paragraph basically sums up everything that is wrong with the American criminal justice system, no matter what the context is.

A handful of cases — in which a predator does an awful thing to an innocent — get excessive media attention and engender public outrage. This attention typically bears no relation to the frequency of the particular type of crime, and yet laws—such as three-strikes laws that give mandatory life sentences to nonviolent drug offenders — and political careers are made on the basis of the public’s reaction to the media coverage of such crimes.

It has occurred to me that the criminal justice system in the US is so out of control that not being a criminal is really little protection from worry about being caught up in it. All it takes is for someone to have a political interest in making you go away and an ability to make false accusations. The balances are so heavily weighted toward prosecutors and the punishments so severe that if it happens, you are real likely to be fucked for life. Even a few years in prison can have a significant impact on your life. Your best hope is the "prosecutors discretion," or having access to a lot of money, if you do. The cost of defending yourself can often have a deep impact on your future planning and options in your life. This has happened to people who use this website. Its a real risk associated with living in this country and I have seriously considered that it might be a good argument for living somewhere else.

We law-abiding, middle-class Americans have made decisions about social policy and incarceration, and we benefit from those decisions, and that means from a system of suffering, rooted in state violence, meted out at our request. We had choices and we decided to be more punitive. Our society — the society we have made — creates criminogenic conditions in our sprawling urban ghettos, and then acts out rituals of punishment against them as some awful form of human sacrifice.

Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?

Impact of Royalty Increases on Internet Radio
Topic: Politics and Law 11:25 am EDT, Jun 29, 2007

Full Committee Hearing on "Assessing the Impact of the Copyright Royalty Board Decision to Increase Royalty Rates on Recording Artists and Webcasters.

Yesterday the House held a hearing in response to the Day of Silence. But BusinessWeek says:

Small Webcasters intent on keeping Internet radio stations from going out of business best not look to Congress for help. That's the message from a June 28 House of Representatives hearing aimed at resolving a dispute over efforts to increase the royalties paid by Web radio stations to musicians and record labels for spinning their songs.

House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez said she'd prefer Webcasters and the music industry come up with their own compromise. "I really don't think Congress would be the best type of vehicle to resolve this type of issue," she said after the testimony of seven witnesses, including independent record-label owners, musicians, and Webcasters. "July 15 is just around the corner, and I hope the two parties can come together and resolve this issue."

Congress created the rule system, at the behest of the music industry, that has been used to constrain the development of internet radio. Already that rule system has resulted in small webcasters going off the air completely for a 6 month period of time. That shutdown was not resolved until threats emerged from Congress. Today we stand at such a precipice again. Congress is responsible, and Congress will take responsibility. Unfortunately it appears they will only take responsibility after another shutdown. I think this time the volume of the response after a shutdown is apt to be much, much louder than it was last time. I think Congress is in for a surprise

Impact of Royalty Increases on Internet Radio
Topic: Politics and Law 9:42 pm EDT, Jun 27, 2007

The future of Internet radio is in immediate danger. Royalty rates for webcasters have been drastically increased by a recent ruling and are due to go into effect on July 15 (retroactive to Jan 1, 2006!). Webcasters across the country participated in a national Day of Silence this week to increase awareness about this looming threat and gather support for the SaveNetRadio collation and our campaign to preserve music diversity on-line. The Internet Radio Equality Act is currently being considered by both the House and the Senate. This bill will set royalty rates for Internet radio equal to the royalty rate paid by satellite radio, and has gained over 120 cosponsors in the House.

Internet radio needs your help to survive. We need you to pressure your representatives in Congress to take action. Please take a moment to call your Congressional representatives in the House and Senate to ask them to co-sponsor the Internet Radio Equality Act. Making your voice heard will go a long way to helping preserve the Internet radio industry. Time is running short, so please call your representatives today.

Rhapsody sent me a pointer to this today.

A Guide to the Political Herds
Topic: Politics and Law 8:15 am EST, Nov 12, 2006

Here is an attempt to portray various philosophical and political factions under the Republicans' big tent ...

Here is an attempt to portray the major coalitions and blocs among Democrats ... Rather than the donkey, perhaps the cat, notoriously resistant to herding, would make a better symbol.

Those enamored by the pre-9/11 Washington Post analysis may appreciate this update.

A Guide to the Political Herds

Scary, Like Funny Scary
Topic: Politics and Law 11:51 pm EST, Oct 29, 2006

Oh, those Tennesseans!

“Canada can take care of North Korea,” a grandfatherly farmer says. “They’re not busy.” And a sleazy looking fellow scoffs: “So he took money from porn movie producers. Who hasn’t?”

Why are we making electoral decisions based on this sort of tripe? This isn't democracy. This is the cola wars. If we're really interesting in undermining the influence of campaign finance dollars we have to give the people better information resources than ads like these.

Scary, Like Funny Scary

Fantasy Congress - Where People Play Politics!
Topic: Politics and Law 9:19 am EDT, Oct 23, 2006

We The Creators of this site, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish Fantasy Congress for the United States of America.

In this game, we give you the power to draft and manage a team of members from the U.S. Congress. Enjoy our gift to you, o great nation: the power to play politics!™

NYT coverage here.

For those who have no idea how many yards Peyton Manning threw for on Sunday but can cite every legislative amendment proposed by Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, the game could be an alternative to the prevailing fantasy sports culture.

Wow... OK, whose down?

Fantasy Congress - Where People Play Politics!

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