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This may be too esoteric a joke to be enjoyed by anyone not a lawyer, but it amused me to no end today.

So the Republican National Committee has a registered trademark on the elephant with three stars in it, and the "GOP" name. They sued CafePress, which allows various folks to design their own items, for the use of these trademarks.

When Politico, a political blog, pointed this out and the blogosphere started picking up the story, the RNC settled. But HOW did they settle?

They settled by allowing everyone to continue selling their products, except vendors whose designs consist solely of the trademarked elephant logo or the initials “GOP” without any other expressive elements. Those without such expressive elements will have to go through the RNC's licensing process.

To clarify, if your products only said Yay GOP or have the elephant, you have to get a special license. If your product includes the elephant with a red slash, or a comment that says "The GOP Sucks!" that's additional expressive elements. So, critical of the RNC? No problem, you can continue selling. Pro-GOP and wanting simply to express your appreciation for the Republican party? Please jump through licensing hoops.

I really hope they continue this level of idiocy through the election season.
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Pastor John Hagee, the extremist minister who has endorsed McCain has called the Catholic Church the great satan, but even better than that, has said that Hitler was doing God's work because the Jews were refusing to move to Israel.

I have to say that this insanity well outweighs Wright's comments about the U.S.
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Making Light, a blog I read periodically has an interesting perspective on the overall media. Today's post was particularly informative.

Short version: The media does think the American people are sheep, and their interest in the status quo overrides any political biases they may have. I'm unsurprised, but it was interesting to have it laid out this clearly.

We Made It!

Nov. 9th, 2006 02:29 pm
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Allen just conceded, and Burns conceded yesterday. The Senate is now 49-49, with 2 independents who are caucusing with the Democrats.
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So we've been meaning to donate some more money to Democratic candidates. I've been using Electoral Vote to track how the election is going. Their current results show that the Senate will be 51-49 for the Republicans. So I decided to give a little contribution to those races that were quite close (handily color coded). But I couldn't find a single page to do so. Then someone pointed me at Act Blue, which allows you to set up your pages for contributions, and does it with no fees or any BS.

Of course, this meant that I had to set up my very own page, Close Senate Races, focusing on the races that were less than 5 points apart. Act Blue has tons of other "fundraising pages" ranging from NetRoots to pages focusing on particular states. If you want to set up your own page, you can. If you want to contribute to the closest 7 Senate races, you can do it from my page.

I love the Internet. It gives me information, and solves some inconveniences. Of course, it took me longer to create that page than it would have to go to the individual pages for each of the candidates. But that's mostly because I would so fail Social Studies if I were taking it now. I couldn't figure out which state was which. I'm just glad Miss Baran can't see me now.
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it just makes me depressed.

The facts of this case include some disturbing stuff. )

In other words, no matter how obviously the prosecution breaks the law -- and this was pretty blatant, permitting perjury and not handing over an accomplice's statement -- if you could've discovered this earlier, you cannot use it for an appeal. In other words, you had better get a decent lawyer the first time around, or you'll get executed even if the evidence points to your innocence, because the courts won't consider the evidence.

Did I mention that it's against the law for any official of the court to permit perjured testimony? How do we get these fuckers disbarred again?


Oct. 16th, 2006 08:25 pm
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So the Chinese Government has decided that unions might be a good idea, what with all that industrialization going on, and pretty much a complete lack of safety measures. And who is lobbying against such (fairly basic) protections for workers. Foreign corporations, of course. Including Dell, Ford, General Electric, Microsoft and Nike, as represented by the American Chamber of Commerce.

I get depressed when I realize that the Chinese government cares more about people than American corporations do.
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I finally got my General Election Voter Information Guide today for the elections next month. I've been looking through the propositions, and although some are no-brainers, I'm having a hard time deciding which way to go on some of these. So I thought I'd turn to you all and see if you had any strong feelings about any of these

NO * 1A - Protection of Transportation Funding
* 1B - Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security
* 1C - Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006
* 1D - Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2006
* 1E - Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Act of 2006
NO * 83 - Comprehensive Registered Sex Offender Laws (popularly known as "Jessica's Law")
* 84 - Bonds for clean water, flood control, state and local park improvements, etc.
NO * 85 - Parental Notification before Termination of Teen's Pregnancy
* 87 - Funding for alternative forms of energy
* 88 - Property Parcel Tax to fund for Education
* 89 - Campaign Finance Restrictions, including a corporate tax increase
* 90 - Eminent Domain Restrictions

As you can see, I have quite a bit of reading left. Any of you have some strong views or reasoned arguments about any of these?
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We're back to 1942, except this time we are not in war that can be won & the enemy is anyone that the President declares an enemy. Apparently legal residents of the U.S. (like my parents) could be randomly declared "enemy combatants," locked up indefinitely with no right of habeas corpus, no right to be confronted with their alleged "crimes," and with a likelihood of being tortured.

I'm very disappointed in the Democrats for failing to filibuster this abomination of a bill. But more so in the few "moderate" Republicans and Democrats, some of whom spoke out against the bill, who voted for this piece of excrement.

We've never in the history of this country given this much power to a president, to arbitrarily declare the metes and bounds of a treaty, and the identity of the enemy who can be deprived of rights.

Be careful, if you vote the wrong way, you too may be declared an enemy combatant. Apparently selling satellite TV services that include Middle Eastern channels, donating money to a 501(c)(3) that works in the wrong country, or possibly joining the Quakers can get you declared as an enemy combatant these days.
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Brent R. Wilkes, the CEO of a company that primarily lives off federal contracts summarizes how it works:

Mr. Wilkes described the appropriations process as little more than a shakedown. He said that lobbyists close to the committee members unceasingly demanded campaign contributions from entrepreneurs like him. Mr. Wilkes and his associates have given more than $706,000 to federal campaigns since 1997, according to public records, and he said he had brought in more as a fund-raiser. Since 2000, Mr. Wilkes’s principal company has received about $100 million in federal contracts.

Mr. Wilkes described the system bluntly: “Lowery would always say, ‘It is a two-part deal,’ ” he recalled. “ ‘Jerry will make the request. Jerry will carry the vote. Jerry will have plenty of time for this. If you don’t want to make the contributions, chair the fund-raising event, you will get left behind.’ ”

How is this not illegal?
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In a rather significant departure from precedent, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision that if the police fails to obey the knock & announce rule (knock & wait for enough time for someone to reach the door before knocking it down), it will not exclude the evidence they find. Apparently fruit of the poisonous tree is just fine to eat now.

The analysis in Scalia's majority opinion hints at some major future changes. According to the opinion, the key query is not whether the law was obeyed but whether "the interest that a constitutional right serves will, in fact, be directly advanced by barring the evidence obtained from a violation of that right." Here the interest according to the court is "not to be caught in your nightgown." And since excluding the evidence doesn't advance that right, the evidence is not excluded.

Short summary: exclusionary rule has been gutted. Expect more doors to be broken down in the near future.
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It appears that Rolling Stone is doing the most in depth political reporting these days. I find this stunning, and somewhat depressing. In this very well sourced article about the 2004 election Rolling Stone documents in great detail the level of election fraud that turned Ohio to Bush. I knew there was fraud, but this level of documention is impressive.

Of course, once you no longer have elections, democracy is an empty term. It makes me truly wonder about America's future. We can electioneer and register voters until the cows come home, but if those voters are not permitted to vote, or their votes are changed...
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In case you haven't seen it, Wired published a large chunk of the data that is under seal in the EFF v. AT&T lawsuit. I expect that there will be a complaint against Wired, with attempts to find out who the anonymous informant was who provided this data.
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The $70Billion Tax Cut has a lovely little chart on the WaPo site:

Income versus Average tax savings ($)
$10,000-20,000 2
$20,000-30,000 9
$30,000-40,000 16
$40,000-50,000 46
$50,000-75,000 110
$75,000-100,000 403
$100,000-200K 1,388
$200,000-500K 4,499
$500K-1 million 5,562
$1 million+ 41,977

I'll bet that $9 will come in handy to all those folks making $30K a year.
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I don't know who World Net Daily represents, but today's quote (via Crooks & Liars) boggles the mind. In discussing Mexican immigration, and the columnist notes that of course we could get rid of the 12 million Mexican immigrants:

And he [George W. Bush] will be lying, again, just as he lied when he said: "Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic – it's just not going to work."

Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American society.

Heck, yes, we could rid ourselves of the Mexicans by following the German example of how they "rid themselves" of the Jews. I think my head just exploded.
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Time for some good news, I guess. Although from what I gather this is a calculated political move because he had pretty good odds of losing his seat in what was constructed to be a Republican majority district. Apparently according to his calculations, a replacement candidate would likely win which would enable DeLay to stay on the good side of the Republican party as he uses the revolving door to go right into lobbying.

But DeLay out is still a good thing.
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How to Spot a Baby Conservative. Short summary: the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints, s/he grew up to be a conservative. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

The study was a 20-year follow-up for 95 kids from Berkeley.

No suprise

Feb. 22nd, 2006 11:07 pm
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Who was saying that Roe v. Wade was so entrenched that it wasn't at risk even with Roberts and Alito? South Dakota just passed a near-total abortion ban. Proposed amendments to the law to create exceptions to specifically protect the health of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest, were voted down. It is obviously unconstitutional if Roe v. Wade is still good law, but they're hoping the new and "improved" Supreme Court will overturn it.

Did I mention my suggestion that the legislators who pass obviously unconstitutional laws pay for the litigation costs? This is going to cost South Dakota probably in excess of $20M.
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Mediamatters has a beautiful deconstruction how a made-up allegation goes from small comments to being reported as observed truth. In this case, it's about throwing Oreos at a Republican candidate during a debate. The story gets embellished, by the candidate and his staff, every time.

In other words, don't trust what you read.
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DO THIS TODAY. Let CA Secretary of State Bruce McPherson know if you are opposed to certifying the Diebold machines as our 'official' electronic election machines for CA.

• Call: (916) 653-6814 (press 6, then 3) (Monday, 8 am - 5 pm)
• FAX: 916 653-3214 (anytime till 5 pm Monday)
• Email: VotingSystemComment@ss.ca.gov

Calling or faxing is probably better than email.

Here is my letter. Feel free to use it as the basis of yours. )