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102 posts from July 2006

July 31, 2006

New York lawmakers seek to undermine Electoral College

This is the sort of thing that makes me proud to be a New Yorker:

With little fanfare, five Republican assemblymen in May proposed a bill that would direct New York's electoral votes in presidential elections to the candidate who wins the plurality of the national vote. The compact would take effect only if the number of states entered into identical agreements represented a majority of the electoral votes. Once the threshold of 270 was met, which could be done with pledges from as few as 11 of the most populous states (or as many as 39 sparsely populated states), the candidate who won the most votes in the nation would be elected president. [NY Sun]

Don't say I never give Republicans any credit.

Repo Man unleashed

Sheezelbub has an alarming post about the latest form of legalized extortion: a letigious species of "debt" collector that shows up and seizes assets over bills erased through bankruptcy.

Some collection firms are suing putative debtors and serving the papers to their old addresses. The collectors know that their targets will never get their day in court because they'll never realize they're being sued. Confident that their targets will never mount a legal defense, the exploiters are emboldened to sue on preposterous pretexts that would never survive a real hearing. They exploit the fact that, in some states, simply "skipping" the small claims court hearing legally empowers the collectors to seize a vehicle in repayment.

When the blissfully ignorant debtors don't show up to defend themselves in small claims court, the firms send enforcers to seize their cars in pre-dawn raids. The target awakens to find a tow truck in the driveway and a thug at the door. The thug gives the target a choice: cough up the alleged debt in cash, or hand over the car.

Welcome to the ownership society.

Not a truck you can just dump stuff on


Inspired by

Ted Stevens' profound words on the floor of the United States Senate:

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes.

Picked up by Boing Boing, and spotted by PandAmanda.

Truth be told, I'm against net neutrality when it comes to fallopian tubes. Think of contraception as the prohibitively expensive tollbooth on the procreation super-highway.

July 30, 2006

Drunk Mel Gibson lashed out at Jews during DUI arrest

Mel Gibson showed his true colors when he was arrested for DUI:

Lt. Steve Smith, in charge of the detective bureau for the Malibu/Lost Hills station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, confirmed to me just now that "the contents seem to be similar" between the official reports and the four pages posted by on the Internet alleging Mel Gibson "blurted out a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks" -- "fucking Jews" and "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" and asking the arresting deputy "Are you a Jew?" -- during his DUI arrest early Friday morning. Smith denied's charge that the sheriff's department was involved in a "cover-up" of Gibson's alleged anti-Semitic tirade detailed in deputy Jim Mee's first arrest report. "TMZ has learned that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department had the initial report doctored to keep the real story under wraps," the website claims. But Smith told me emphatically, "There's no whitewash. I've seen the first report, and the supplemental report, and it looks to be the same thing as what's on the Internet. The contents that are on the Internet are covered in both those reports." That is the first official confirmation from the Sheriff's station that Gibson's alleged anti-Semitic rants are included in the official reports about his DUI arrest. [Deadline Hollywood Daily]

[Hat tip to Steve Gilliard]

The neocons and Hezbollah

In 2003 Daniel Byman published a fascinating article about Hezbollah and Islamic terrorism in Foreign Affairs.

This passage in particular caught my eye:

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that many in the United States have argued that Hezbollah should be the next target in the war on terror. Shortly after September 11, a group of leading scholars, pundits, and former government officials, including William Kristol and Richard Perle, declared in an open letter to President Bush that "any war on terrorism must target Hezbollah" and urged that military action be considered against the movement's state sponsors, Syria and Iran. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has warned of Hezbollah's lethality, noting that "Hezbollah may be the A team of terrorists," while "al Qaeda is actually the B team."

The article also makes a convincing case that neither a full-scale invasion, nor limited strikes against Hezbollah are likely to dislodge the group from Southern Lebanon.

Tools for scandal

Shiny's parents were appalled when they learned he was dating the much-older Rusty.

July 29, 2006

BlogHer politics panel went well

The BlogHer politics panel went well. To my astonishment, about 60 people showed up for the 3:30 panel. The room was actually full.

Our very able moderator, Lisa Williams of H20Town, managed to juggle five energetic panelists and a very participatory audience while making her own contributions to the discussion.

Kety Esquivel of Cross Left talked about her experiences as a progressive Christian in the blogosphere.

Jarah Euston of Fresno Famous and Courtney Hollands of Wicked Local had very interesting things to say about blogging ultra-local politics and current events in their respective communities.

Fellow panelist Ann Althouse insisted that she wasn't a political blogger. I didn't challenge her on that point.

My only regret was that the discussion was more discursive than adversarial. I was hoping for a vigorous debate about the norms of citizen journalism, or the role of the netroots in '06, or the latest controversies in the political blogosphere. Instead, we focused more on our personal approaches to blogging, our subject matter, and the balance between the personal and political facets of our writing.

I thought the discussion was worthwhile. I got the impression that a lot of audience members who weren't previously involved in the political blogger might be interested in exploring further.

Weight Watchers and mineral water at BlogHer

The corporate sponsors of at BlogHer are, in many ways, more interesting than the program itself. I say this as someone who's going to appear on a panel in 30 minutes.

I'm trying to figure out exactly what the sponsors think they're going to get out of their connection with BlogHer. I think they see us as "influentials" in a larger social marketing scheme.

I'm surprised that Weight Watchers has such a visible presence at BlogHer. Another group is aggressively promoting mineral-laced bottled water billed as a weigh loss aid.

I was expecting to see a lot more gadgets and gizmos at a blogging conference. There are a few technological services (photo hosting, social bookmarking), but almost no hardware on display.


The hotel's internet system is continually overwhelmed by the sheer number of attendees attempting to connect to the internet, which makes it almost impossible to keep a signal long enough to blog.

July 28, 2006


BlogHer Participants, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

I'm blogging from the "networking" breakfast. The registration hall has some big name booths, including GM and Microsoft. GM will be test driving sports cars an hybrids in the parking lot later this afternoon.

The vibe is corporate, but we're being courted as consumers, not as players. There was a lot of wooing and sucking up at YearlyKos, but at least there was an acknowledgment the the "sellers" and the "buyers" needed each other to achieve some common goal.

Today's workshops are focused on the technical aspects of blogging, podcasting, and multi-media. The agenda for tomorrow is dominated by discussions of blogging and something known as "blog culture."

Click through to Flickr for more pictures of the conference.