“After this election, Florida is worse than a laughingstock,” Billy Corben, a… 2

“After this election, Florida is worse than a laughingstock,” Billy Corben, a Miami documentary filmmaker and avid election night Twitter user, said with a smile. “We’re now an irrelevant laughingstock.”

We've been doing this for more than two centuries, why do we still have such a hard time getting it right?

Florida’s Votes Unclaimed, but Less Depends on Them
Just as in the 2000 presidential election, the results of Florida’s voting were still up in the air the day after Election Day. The difference is that in 2012 it doesn’t matter.

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A big thumbs up to the voters of Maine, Maryland and Washington for pushing back… 3

A big thumbs up to the voters of Maine, Maryland and Washington for pushing back against the bigots and fear mongers and realizing that same-sex couples are not a threat. 

Maryland voters approve gay marriage, Maine poised to do so
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Maryland voters approved same-sex marriage on Tuesday while similar measures in Maine and Washington state also appeared on track to pass, marking the first time marriage rights h…

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The best parts of the election results was the wide ranging repudiation of those… 1

The best parts of the election results was the wide ranging repudiation of those super-wealthy that tried to use their financial resources to get the outcomes they wanted including Matty Maroun, Linda McMahon, Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers and the rest that managed to cloak their identities through the super-pac system.  We still need some serious reform of the finance system probably through a constitutional amendment but at least we all survived to fight another day. 

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It’s Time for Federal Judicial Term Limits

Yes, you read the headline correctly.  I’m calling for an end to lifetime appointments for federal judges.

Contrary to what most people on the extremes of the political spectrum (both right and left) will tell you, there is nothing wrong with evolving your opinions. In fact any sane and reasonably intelligent person needs to listen and learn throughout their life and occasionally adjust their views on various subjects.

I’d like to think that I fall into that sane and reasonably intelligent category. Certainly President Barack Obama does and much as he would be loath to acknowledge it, so would Mitt Romney. Both of these men have evolved their views over the course of their careers, more for political expediency than actual heartfelt beliefs, but at least their positions have moved.

Recently I’ve heard the idea of term limits for federal judges raised and I’m now inclined to agree.  In principle, I agree with the way that the judiciary was set up in the constitution. By appointing judges for life, it was supposed to remove partisanship and political considerations from their rulings.

However, in order for that concept to truly work, we have to appoint the superior jurists to begin with based on their qualifications and not their political ideology. The problem is that it’s exceedingly difficult to be an impartial judge that keeps their own political beliefs out of their rulings. As we’ve seen in recent decades, that becomes even more difficult with age.

We all know old people and most of will one day achieve that status. The fact is that as we get older we get more and more set in our habits and beliefs. It’s neither right nor wrong, it’s just the way we are.  However, the world is changing around us, and faster than ever today. That means that anyone that is going make decisions about the law, needs to adapt as well.

As hard as it is to select good judges, the problem is made even more difficult by politicians that are taking an increasingly hard political line.  Presidents have always taken politics into account when appointing judges, especially to the supreme court, but it does seem to have taken a turn for the worse in the last few decades and Republicans (and to a lesser degree Democrats) in the senate have truly politicized the process.

It’s time for us to acknowledge that despite the aims of the constitution, politics is a big part of the judicial branch and that we need to do something about that. Lifetime terms for federal judges have not had the desired effect of de-politicizing the judiciary as both Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito demonstrated in their boisterous opinions from the bench this week.

Since we are clearly incapable of selecting truly impartial justices, and they only seem to get worse over time, I suggest we limit the terms of federal judges to 12 years.

I’m generally not in favor of arbitrary term limits for elected officials since this often leads to inexperienced legislators that can’t seem to do anything but bicker. I’d prefer to have voters cast out their representatives. On the other hand, I don’t think that direct elections of judges are a good thing either.

I think the president should continue to select federal judges with the senate confirming these choices. However, after 12 years, the judges must step down from the federal bench and never return. Like the Senate’s 6-year terms that are staggered so that only one-third is up for re-election every two years, judicial terms should be staggered.  In general no president should be allowed to appoint more than two supreme court justices in a single term. In the event that a judge dies, falls ill or resigns before their term is up, if more than two years remain in the term, the president can appoint a replacement to serve the remainder of that term.  If less than two years are left, the appointee can finish the existing term and a complete twelve year term.

Details would have to be worked out, but I think the time for lifetime federal judges is behind us and we need to evolve our views on this topic.

"there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation."

From a 1967 interview the late Pierre Elliot Trudeau gave to the Canadian Broadcasting Company in 1967 after introducing an omnibus bill in the Canadian parliament that among other things decriminilized homosexual acts between consenting adults.

Despite the passing of more than 45 years there are still those in the United States that proclaim the need to shrink government almost everywhere, except it seems the bedroom.

Embedded Link

File:Trudeau Omnibus Interview.ogg – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Non-free media information and use rationale for Pierre Trudeau. Description. An excerpt from Pierre Trudeau's famous interview regarding the omnibus bill and homosexuality; "there's no p…

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It's long past time for the American police state that has accelerated in the… 5

It's long past time for the American police state that has accelerated in the wake of 9/11 to be disbanded. You cannot protect freedom by burying it beneath the boot heels of the state.

Reshared post from +Peter Smalley


Meanwhile, in Syria…

Errr, Egypt…

I mean, Libya – no wait, Iraq…

This is our America: a police state, where civil protest is treason, to be put down with brutality and superior firepower.

Wake up and smell the anger, Sweet Land of Liberty. And hurry.

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The same old gang of idiots 1

Remember the definition of insanity that we’ve all heard? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

Are you concerned about the rising price of gas? Unless you’re a 1 percenter (in which case you probably aren’t reading this anyway) you most likely are. The remaining crop of Republican candidates for president are all laying the blame at the hands of the current president Barack Obama. However, if you look at historical prices for gas over the last two decades, you’ll notice that they were relatively stable through the 90s before a steady upward climb in the past decade.

Data from Energy Information Agency, EIA.gov

The steady rise corresponds with the Bush administration’s drive to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. While correlation is never proof of causality, in this case there is more. The collapse of gas prices in late 2008 coincided directly with the overall collapse that resulted from the economic policies of the preceding years.

Of course all of that started with the steady drumbeat for war from the GOP neo-cons including Dick Cheney, Lindsay Graham, Paul Wolfowitz and so many others. The current spike in prices is happening at the same time that many of these same re-treads are back on the Sunday morning talk shows trying to make the case for an attack on Iran. This morning on Up with Chris Hayes, the host played a montage of the words from the cast of characters that took us into Iraq and the words they are spouting today. Check out the following clip, especially from about 2 minutes in.

Americans have notoriously short memories but this is a case when we need to remember what happened in 2001-2003 and make sure that we don’t let these morons take us into another needless war. If you want your gas prices to go down, tell every politician and pundit that’s arguing for an attack on Iran to stop and equally importantly lets make sure the Israelis don’t attack Iran either.

If you thought Iraq was a mess, Iran will be far worse if we go to war. President Obama is not to blame for the current spike in prices, it’s right-wing war mongers and the financial speculators that are trying to profit from the possibility of restricted supplies.

#politics #war #iran


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Some excellent thoughts on the possible unintended consequences of the recent movement… 1

Some excellent thoughts on the possible unintended consequences of the recent movement to regulate privacy online.

The cost of trying to ensure privacy could be much greater than just educating people about online behavior in some very basic ways. Let's be clear, if there are things about your life that you want to keep private, don't post them online in any way shape or form. Once something gets online, you can never truly erase it or forget.

Since the earliest days of the web, I've always used my own real name rather than pseudonyms. The stuff I don't want people to know about, I don't put online anywhere, period. There are plenty of benefits to sharing and contributing to online discussions. However, just as in the real world, we must all learn that there are consequences to what we say and do. Think before you speak/post.

We also need to expose companies that might be doing things they shouldn't such as Path uploading address books without notifying users. Thankfully, white-hat hackers and researchers are discovering these issues and triggering changes in behavior.

That said, the development of open two-way communications between consumers and companies has created unprecedented transparency in pricing and service. By using social networks like G+, Facebook and Twitter, consumers can call out companies that might have been unresponsive in the past and actually get improved service.

Let's not let a moral panic prematurely pull the plug on these benefits.

#privacy #socialbusiness

Reshared post from +Francine Hardaway

If businesses had already been social in 2008, would the financial crisis have been less severe and crippling? And will looming changes in privacy rules interfere with the changes that might keep that kind of disconnect between businesses and their customers from happening again?

I was starting to write about Obama's Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights when it occurred to me that perhaps it might have the unintended consequence of disconnecting people further from businesses that might want to breakdown barriers.

One of the toxic and unnerving aspects of the recent foreclosure crisis was the impersonality of its customer interactions, From the shredding of mortgages into small sub-atomic particles to the disappearance of bank employees who should have been tasked to help consumers negotiate mortgage modifications and short sales, the entire process of keeping or losing one's home became one in which the customer (the homeowner) lost control, and the resulting anxiety rose to cataclysmic levels. A side effect of the crisis was that thousands of small businesses had credit lines lowered and pulled at the same time, even though their owners were not in default, in trouble, or late in paying them.

One the foreclosures began, one size fits all solutions based on too little personal information shut down the economy across the country and rippled out across the world.

In theory, the concept of social business, in which objectives are more closely aligned with customers and silos give way to transparency, should prevent something like that from ever happening again. As the enterprise slowly transforms itself from a hierarchy to a network,and the customer becomes a node on the network, things should get better, right?

I don't know. In the past few weeks, it seems as if the nascent social business initiative might get snuffed out before it even takes hold.

It's difficult not to ask how all the recent discussions about privacy — spurred by the White House's Consumer Personal Information Act and the EU's new privacy rules–are going to affect the fledgling effort toward making businesses, their vendors and suppliers, and their customers more aligned in objectives and more closely connected. Won't the hesitancy of consumers to have their comings and goings on the internet tracked limit what businesses can do to help customers they're not free to get to know? I know, I know, the act is aimed more at advertisers and marketers, spammers and retargeters. BUT…

To some degree, the discussion is a sign of the maturity and scale of online communities. When early adopters came online, they considered privacy a given, even to the point of adopting handles and avatars rather than real names. How you identified yourself on the internet was a choice, almost from Day One. It was in the hands of the user.

But Google and Facebook changed all that, encouraging millions of people to put their real names and actual personal information online in exchange for "free" services. Business models have been built around the use of consumer personal information: advertising technologies, market research, direct marketing, polling, and political campaigns have all used the information consumers innocently put online.

An entire generation has forgotten or never learned that if you want to keep your information private, you should probably not put it online in the first place.

I just wonder whether the gathering of information, and the resulting insights the could come from mining it, could not also be a help rather than just an annoyance.

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I'm going to be blunt 8

Rick Santorum is either a complete dumbass or an unrepentant liar. His claims about presidents home schooling their kids for the first 150 years of the United States are just plain wrong.

Support for public education goes back to the very beginnings of this country and was espoused by Thomas Jefferson in his 1779 "A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge" in the Virginia legislature.

whence it becomes expedient for promoting the publick happiness that those person, whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens, and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance; but the indigence of the greater number disabling them from so educating, at their own expence, those of their children whom nature hath fitly formed and disposed to become useful instruments for the public, it is better that such should be sought for and educated at the common expence of all


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Santorum flunks the history of home-schooling
The poorly educated candidate says U.S. presidents taught their kids at home for 150 years. He's wrong

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