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Current Topic: Politics and Law

No GOP Senator Supports Bill to Protect Cloud E-Mail Privacy | Threat Level |
Topic: Politics and Law 8:07 am EDT, Oct 19, 2011

This quote made me laugh out loud:

Oddly, despite the recent rise of the libertarian-leaning Tea Party faction of the Republican Party, no Republican has decided publicly that privacy protection of Americans’ online communications is a winning issue.

Given that the "Tea Party" is supposedly supported by "Libertarians" concerned with individual freedom, and that a number of "Tea Party" supported candidates are in office from around the country, you'd think that "Tea Party" candidates would support clear cut individual liberty issues like the proper extension of warrant requirements to data in the cloud. This is really a no-brainer, as the article lays out:

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was adopted at a time when e-mail, for example, wasn’t stored on servers for a long time. Instead it was held there briefly on its way to the recipient’s inbox. E-mail more than 6 months old was assumed abandoned, and that’s why the law allowed the government to get it...

But technology has evolved, and e-mail often remains stored on cloud servers indefinitely, in gigabytes upon gigabytes — meaning the authorities may access it without warrants if it’s older than six months...

Leahy’s measure, among other things, would require court warrants to obtain all that cloud data.

1. The "Tea Party" pays lip service to Libertarian views but doesn't actually support them when push comes to shove.
2. "Libertarians" don't really support individual liberty like they say they do - they really only care about money - low taxes, not personal freedom.

You can talk all you want about how you support individual liberty, but when push comes to shove, if you are not willing to take action, you are not what you say you are.

No GOP Senator Supports Bill to Protect Cloud E-Mail Privacy | Threat Level |

Meet the man who changed Glenn Beck's life
Topic: Politics and Law 1:01 pm EDT, Aug 23, 2010

Cleon Skousen was a right-wing crank whom even conservatives despised. Then Beck discovered him

This is a highly suggested read.

Meet the man who changed Glenn Beck's life

Think Progress » Rep. Barney Frank distributes ‘Little Punk Staffer’ buttons to Capitol Hill aides.
Topic: Politics and Law 7:52 pm EDT, Mar 20, 2010

I have a standing offer of $10 for the first person to bring me one of these pins.

Think Progress » Rep. Barney Frank distributes ‘Little Punk Staffer’ buttons to Capitol Hill aides.

ThinkProgress promotional video
Topic: Politics and Law 4:39 pm EST, Dec  3, 2009

ThinkProgress is one of the blogs we run at CAP. We've had a hell of a year. Check out this video for the highlights...

ThinkProgress promotional video

Vice President Joe Biden Hosts Leading Scholars to Discuss the Challenges Facing America's Middle Class in the 21st Century Economy
Topic: Politics and Law 10:33 am EST, Nov  5, 2009

Biden is about to start speaking at my office (CAP). Click through for stream.

Vice President Joe Biden Hosts Leading Scholars to Discuss the Challenges Facing America's Middle Class in the 21st Century Economy

Think Progress » Roger Ailes for president in 2012?
Topic: Politics and Law 1:04 pm EDT, Oct 23, 2009

In Playbook today, Mike Allen reports that “friends and associates” are encouraging Fox News CEO Roger Ailes to run for president in 2012:

“Ailes knows how to frame an issue better anybody and that’s what we need now,” says one Ailes friend who is encouraging him to run. Frank Luntz, for one, tells Playbook that Ailes could be a force if does it. “I have known Roger Ailes for 29 years,” says Luntz. “No one knows how to win better than Roger.”

Perhaps Ailes thinks that since he runs Fox, he’s prepared to face al Qaeda.

Oh yeah, that's just what we need.. An American version of Silvio Berlusconi...

Think Progress » Roger Ailes for president in 2012?

The Halliburton/KBR employment contract rape clause.
Topic: Politics and Law 8:40 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2009

This whole situation is truly mind boggling. It's ironic that the person to drive this into the limelight is the Senator that everyone likes to think is a joke. Nothing about rape is a laughing matter.

Decius writes:

This is absolutely mind boggling.

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad... Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration.

Seriously!? In my time I've seen many examples of lawyers abusing the imbalanced negotiating position present in employment contacts but this takes the cake. An agreement not to press charges for rape? Are you fucking kidding me?!

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.”

On the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) spoke against the amendment, calling it “a political attack directed at Halliburton.” In the end, Franken won the debate. His amendment passed by a 68-30 vote, earning the support of 10 Republican senators including that of newly-minted Florida Sen. George LeMieux.

30 United States Senators voted against this? What could the basis of their opposition possibly be? Al Franken is not above political grandstanding at all, but when push comes to shove, why would you oppose this? I've searched on Google for an alternative perspective to no avail. Does anyone know a source where these people have articulated their position? As LeMieux put it:

"I can't see in any circumstance that a woman who was a victim of sexual assault shouldn't have her right to go to court."

If anything Franken's amendment does not go far enough. This is prima facie evidence that there is a serious structural problem with employment contracts. No contract clause of this sort ought to be respected in any context relevant to US law and major reform of rules surrounding US employment contracts is needed.

People who voted against this amendment include:
Alexander (R-TN)
Bond (R-MO)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Corker (R-TN)
Isakson (R-GA)

More on this from ThinkProgress, including video of Franken's speech on the floor.

The Halliburton/KBR employment contract rape clause.

The Life and Death of Bills
Topic: Politics and Law 10:43 am EDT, May 26, 2009

What happened to the thousands of bills that were introduced during the 110th session of Congress? Over the course of two years thousands of bills were introduced, but by the end only 442 laws were enacted. What happened to the rest?

The Life and Death of Bills has launched
Topic: Politics and Law 12:05 pm EDT, May 21, 2009

The purpose of is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Although the initial launch of provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federal datasets presently available, we invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless access and use of your Federal data. Visit today with us, but come back often. With your help, will continue to grow and change in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

In addition, The Sunlight Foundation has launched the second Apps For America competition:

Apps for America is a special contest we're putting on this year to celebrate the release of! We're doing it alongside Google, O'Reilly Media, and TechWeb and the winners will be announced at the Gov2.0 Expo Showcase in Washington, DC at the end of the Summer. has launched

Sunlight Labs: Blog - And The Winners Are...
Topic: Politics and Law 12:28 pm EDT, Apr 20, 2009

The Sunlight Foundation Labs has announced the winners for their transparency coding content:

First == Filibusted: "Hold senators accountable for blocking legislation."

Second == Legistalker: "The latest online activity of Congress Members."

There were 40 entries... Check them out.

Sunlight Labs: Blog - And The Winners Are...

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