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Current Topic: Politics and Law

Patent reform bill may have a chance
Topic: Politics and Law 2:59 am EDT, Apr 19, 2007

A bipartisan group of senators and House members introduced legislation Wednesday that would make the biggest changes to the U.S. patent system in over 50 years.

I'm not holding my breath but this sounds promising...

[I dunno... i want to read the whole thing, but my gut reaction is that this doesn't sound appealing to me. As much as I think the PTO needs reform, i'm not sure this is it... -k]

Patent reform bill may have a chance

Crooks and Liars � Barney Frank kicks Patrick McHenry around the House floor
Topic: Politics and Law 9:34 am EST, Jan 16, 2007

He cracked me up when he said his past behavior was not relevant…Hilarious.

For politics junkies this is absolutely hilarious. Barney Frank, who knows his Roberts Rules pretty much backwards and forwards, takes a few guys to the mat and squashes them because they don't know the rules. Brutal, and to steal a Boston idiom, it's wicked pissah.

[ Nice. I did that when I was at Boy's State in New York. I was a "Senator" and me and this other guy harassed everyone with procedural objections until the other "Senators" told us they'd put our names on the roll as if we were there if we'd just leave.

We played tennis for the next 4 days. -k]

Crooks and Liars � Barney Frank kicks Patrick McHenry around the House floor

Boing Boing: Teacher faces 40 years for porn in classroom, blames adware
Topic: Politics and Law 4:42 am EST, Jan 14, 2007

And beyond the question of what constitutes justice for Ms. Amero, how might this ruling affect other teachers using computers with children? Will some teachers limit their use of technology in the classroom, fearing greater liability risks if porn they didn't ask for shows up on an unsecured, school-owned PC?

[ You better fucking believe it will. I'd be completely rethinking my use of computers unless there was some indemnification process and the school had a competent tech crew.

And, yes, a 40 year sentence would be completely outrageous. I realize they haven't done sentencing yet and the likelihood is that it won't be that bad, but fuck, she could've raped one of those kids and gotten less than 40 years. -k

Boing Boing: Teacher faces 40 years for porn in classroom, blames adware

RE: One Democratic win I'm not happy about...
Topic: Politics and Law 1:25 am EST, Nov  9, 2006

Decius wrote:
One Democratic win that I think folks on MemeStreams might think twice about cheering is the close Senate race in Montana which gave Republican Conrad Burns the boot. Burns has been a leader in Telecommunications and Internet Policy for many years. I don't agree with everything that he has done in the space, but there is a lot this community would thank him for. Most importantly, I think, is his successful effort to liberalize Crypto export controls. I'm linking a speech he gave on the subject in 1996:

American businesses and computer users face a threat _ and it's a threat from their own government _ because the current administration won't let American companies export encryption at a level higher than 40 bits....

What this means is that commerce and communication on computer networks including the Internet is not reaching its full potential.

While certainly there is a lot of potentially valid criticism of Burns out there, the Internet probably won't be better off for having him out of office.

But will it be better protected by a Democratic majority is the more crucial question.

Liking Burns -- or anyone else -- individually wasn't the point of this election. The point was to overturn the *culture* of executive authoritarianism and a rubberstamp legislative branch. I pretty much couldn't care less if Burns singlehandedly made the internet safe from every threat if every other vote he cast was morally and philosophically repellent to me. I'm not saying that's the case, mind you, but I am arguing that there are bigger issues at stake than what a single politician might or might not have done. We need a sea change, and while I'm not convinced that everything's gonna be super henceforth, I'm glad the tables are turned. If a few not-so bad republicans (i'm looking at Chafee too) lost in order to change the course of the remainder of Bush's presidency, then so be it.

And before the barrage starts, I'm aware that the Democrats might well fuck us on internet issues, censorship and DRM, but compared with a republican party that has ceaselessly undermined the very foundations upon which the nation was built in pursuit of unchecked power and a president who has fucked up every single thing he's touched, well, I'll take that risk.

I'd let the internet die and change professions before I'd abet this president or any other national candidate for the party that allowed him to behave as he has.

RE: One Democratic win I'm not happy about...

California Assembly Passes Electoral College Reform - California Progress Report
Topic: Politics and Law 3:10 pm EDT, Jun  5, 2006

California is one step closer to joining a national movement that would change the way that the Electoral College works without amending the U.S. Constitution.

AB 2948 by Assemblymember Tom Umberg, Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee is a simple bill that would have California join in an interstate compact with other states to award our electoral votes to the Presidential candidate who won the national popular vote.

[ I like this. It seems like a decent way to handle the situation. I have some concern over the fact that some states could be effectively forced to adopt the plan as long as enough other states do so, but not much concern.

Fundamentally, I've always been displeased with the all or nothing nature of the electoral system used by most states. This feels like a workable alternative.

Now, does anyone want to run some numbers on the likelihood of this becoming the reality? It requires enough states to sign on to comprise a majority of electors. California has 55 of the 270 needed. Where are the other 215 likely to come from? How likely is it, really?

The ratio of electoral weight vs. population weight is very interesting. If you plot it, you notice that the 15 most populous states all have a lower than 1.0 ratio. They weigh proportionally less than they would in a direct voting situation. On the other hand, I calculated Wyoming to have a 3.18 multiplier. (Georgians, you're at 0.96, whereas NY, CA and TX all sit at 0.85 - that's 26% of the population having 22% of the voting power.)

The only useful opposition I can think of, then, to a more direct method is that small states will be reduced. Ultimately this isn't a convincing argument for me, because while representation (a la Congress) ought to enable small states to compete, I think electing a president shouldn't be about states, but about people. ]

California Assembly Passes Electoral College Reform - California Progress Report

Obama Assails Bush
Topic: Politics and Law 9:10 pm EDT, May 12, 2006

"I don't know about you," he told his audience, referring to Bush's 2000 campaign comments on possible U.S. military involvement overseas, "but when
George Bush said he did not believe in nation building, I did not know he was talking about this nation."

Hear Fucking Hear.

Obama Assails Bush

Vaccine makers helped write Frist-backed shield law - Nashville, Tennessee - Monday, 05/08/06 -
Topic: Politics and Law 1:02 pm EDT, May  8, 2006

Its study follows a February story in The Tennessean that Frist, along with House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., ordered the vaccine liability language inserted in a defense spending bill in December without debate and in violation of usual Senate practice.

I love that line. Gee, inconvenient to get something you want? Just stick it into the draft in the middle of the night so no one notices.

And while we're on the subject of amazing lines, check out this one.

"The lack of any restriction on jury trial is problematic," the analysis said. "Where injured parties have no other avenue for relief, juries are likely to find ways to award damages."

In other words, "we've already taken away every other way people can come after us, we want this one taken away too so people have NO recourse at all when we do something negligent."

At this point it isn't stupidity or incompetence, this is willful harm.

Vaccine makers helped write Frist-backed shield law - Nashville, Tennessee - Monday, 05/08/06 -

Rumsfeld, Rice Say Iraq Not at Civil War - Yahoo! News
Topic: Politics and Law 3:38 pm EST, Mar 10, 2006

Rumsfeld was pressed to explain the U.S. military's plan to respond in the event that Iraq's sectarian violence grows into a full-fledged civil war.

"The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the — from a security standpoint — have the Iraqi security forces deal with it, to the extent they are able to," Rumsfeld said.

uhm, what? Sounds a lot like they're building a ready-made excuse for pulling out. "No no, it's not cutting and running like that traitor Murtha wanted. But this is an internal issue for the newly established Iraqi government and it would be wrong of the US to interfere. So, yeah, we're taking our troops home."


Rumsfeld, Rice Say Iraq Not at Civil War - Yahoo! News

The Health Care Crisis and What to Do About It
Topic: Politics and Law 12:28 pm EST, Mar  7, 2006

Paul Krugman deconstructs health care in the current issue of The New York Review of Books.

Bottom line up front:

So what will really happen to American health care? Many people in this field believe that in the end America will end up with national health insurance, and perhaps with a lot of direct government provision of health care, simply because nothing else works. But things may have to get much worse before reality can break through the combination of powerful interest groups and free-market ideology.

Fascinating read. Pretty close to a gold star, though I wish they'd left out the political potshots. Even if true, it provides an easy out for people to just categorically ignore the whole thing.

The Health Care Crisis and What to Do About It

Rift Between Parties Over NSA Wiretapping Grows
Topic: Politics and Law 4:58 pm EST, Jan 26, 2006

Bush, whose aides said they consider the issue a clear political winner, is resurrecting tactics from the last campaign to make the NSA spying program a referendum on which party will keep the United States safe from terrorists. He has dispatched top White House officials almost daily to defend the program and has sent a message to party activists that he considers fighting terrorism with tools such as NSA eavesdropping the defining issue of the November elections

Worth reading. Troublesome.

The story here is not whether or not it ought to be authorized but whether or not is was authorized. Almost no one understands this distinction. The Republican talking points are:
1. Its legal.
2. Its needed to defend America.
3. People raising questions about its legality are partisan hacks who don't care about the safety of the American people.

[ Most troublesome because the Democrats are doing *NOTHING* to take the offensive on this issue. Every single poll I've seen indicates that the american public *doesn't want to be spied on* without warrants, but the dems won't take it up. It's fucking absurd. They're starting to hedge on Alito now too, talking like it's already over and how no matter what the outcome, they said some things that needed saying. But dammit, quit saying things and start DOING things. The democrats aren't marginal because the public isn't behind them.

They're marginal because they won't sack up and take some stands. -k]

Rift Between Parties Over NSA Wiretapping Grows

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