Yahoo! Mail rolled out a beta with three innovations - tabbed views, drag and drop, and using Ctrl or Shift to select multiple messages. These are things they should have done the moment Gmail was announced, but hey.
The TSA's [No-Fly list and secondary screening lists] contain people who are dead. They contain the presidents of foreign countries. They contain incredibly common names like "Robert Johnson." These farcical lists are supposed to secure the skies, and the way they're supposed to do it is by denying air travel to thousands of innocent people (without catching a guilty person smart enough to use a fake ID). Even worse, because the gargantuan lists have to be widely circulated, the CIA won't allow the names of actual terrorist suspects to be added to them -- in other words, the No Fly lists only contain the names of people who aren't under any serious suspicion.
On the other hand, 14 of the 19 9/11 hijackers are on the list, in case they come back as zombies. (And if anyone makes a movie about zombies on planes, I want a writing credit.)
Seriously, the No Fly lists and programs like CAPPS II/Secure Flight are worse than useless because they waste resources and create a false sense of security. They also illustrate how the United States' technological strength can also be a weakness. We're very good at databases and networks, so we default to using them instead of training people to spot and thwart attacks. This is much like how our intelligence agencies rely on sigint and spectacularly fail in human spying and analysis. We prefer the illusion of electronic certainty to the messiness of human intelligence.
Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.
Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.
Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.
Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.
Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.
Somehow torture is tolerated.
Somehow lying is tolerated.
Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.
He condemns not only the Iraq war and the Bush Administration, but "much of this generation" for bringing about all the "somehows". He notes that election day is November 7, the day after Pat's birthday, and says:
Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice.
People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.
Wait. Don't. Or at least not yet. He's in pain. What kind of people would use his suffering for political advantage? On the other hand, he's an adult - a combat vet, no less - and his whole point in writing this letter is to affect the elections. Shouldn't the people who have been made to suffer the most under Republican policies be the ones we listen to?
Lunch Plenary: Torture, Secrecy and Surveillance: Holding Government Accountable featuring: the former Ambassador Joe Wilson in a conversation with Anthony Romero as well as ACLU litigator Ann Beeson and "Faces of Surveillance" clients.
I gotta get this guy's book. Used a term I never heard before: "theoconservatives."
There is a college kid and a librarian who was served with USA PATRIOT Act search orders. I miss the kid's talk because of a bathroom break and miss most of the library lady's. God, she's a terrible speaker. No doubt she's a librarian.
Ann Beeson, ACLU Associate Legal Director. She's the lead attorney on ACLU v. NSA and a great speaker. Anthony says she really put Scalia back on his heels during oral argument, and I believe it. She's a real Texan.
James Bamford, author of "The Puzzle Palace" and "Body of Secrets". ACLU represented him twice on the first book.
The same nutter! And a kid from California with a mohawk.
One good question to Wilson: What was it like to meet Saddam Hussein? He tells a great war story of trying to stare Saddam down. Saddam had this way of trying to get you to bow to him by holding his hand out very low to shake. You'd have to bend over to see where it was, and boom! You're caught bowing on TV. Wilson just put his hand out low, too, and eventually found his hand.
It's all Joe Wilson, all the time. Poor Bamford.
The college kid gets to talk. No one wants to hear from the library lady. Finally Bamford is asked what he's going to do next, and he wishes for 24 hours to poke through the NSA files.
We're 15 minutes past when we were supposed to stop. It's pure ACLU.
"Policy Laundering". The United States has a policy it can't pass in Congress, it goes to an international body to make it an international standard.
The RFID chips in the passport are still not secure and can be read at a distance. It's clear that passports are the first step, but will be used for things like national identity systems, REAL ID (national US driver license).
CAPPS II became "Secure Flight", the passenger no-fly list. The EU caved to the US on providing passenger data, in which we agreed to restrict data.
These are the programs we know about. We learned recently of an agreement between HHS and DHS, which violated the restrictions agreed upon with the EU.
We can chain this monster. SWIFT is a good example. EU has told SWIFT not to share data on EU citizens, and SWIFT has had to struggle with opposing the EU or the US.
David Fahti, staff attorney who was on the no-fly list for a couple of years. When he finally got a boarding pass, he would then be selected for secondary screening. At the screening checkpoint, they would not look for weapons, but they would look through his legal files and read the title of his books.
At Milwaukee airport, director of Midwest Airlines security stopped him in the concourse and asked him if he was a member of the "ALCU." The local sheriff cleared him with the FBI.
Another time, he was not allowed to clear customs unless he provided his social security number. He was told if he didn't, they'd put him in jail for months.
Fact that he didn't get stopped all the time shows how bad the system is. The "Keystone Kops" aspect of it like "Mr. ALCU": Once a airline employee tried to call the no-fly TSA hotline, and no one answered. To flummox them, all you have to do is tell them you won't give them the info they want, or just ask them if you're required to give the info and what happens if you don't. Obviously, al Qaeda will never think of this.
Government officials always abuse their authority. If it was scary for Fahti, imagine what it's like for immigrants.
Tim Sparapani describes the far-reaching effects of the creation of a national ID system. Lack of ID can be used to prevent access to government buildings.
Copies of your birth certificate, utility bills, and other documents will be scanned and stored in a database which can be accessed by DMV officials in any state.
The NRA has won protection at the federal level against a database of gun owners. But this ID system will be administered at the state level, where there is no protection.
First question is from a nutter who got stopped at a border because her toddler threw a tantrum. Barry handles it well: "Thanks for that."
Second is question from legal director of ACLU Montana: What leverage does the federal government have over the states? Potentially, citizens can be prevented from opening bank accounts.
How did Fahti get off the no fly list? He has no idea, or even if he is off. DHS says there is no way to get off the list.
Comment about RFID: Aren't they going to be in products, not just in passports.
How to block the RFID chip? Barry says they're very fragile things. They can also be blocked by using aluminum foil.
If you renew your passport now, you don't get the RFID chip for years down the road.
Two comments: Police have been monitoring IM conversations for years. And the face recognition software is getting cheaper and easier to use.
Comment from ACLU client who has investigated eavesdropping: All cell phones can be used to track your location, of course. But it also can be turned on remotely to listen in on conversations.
They kicked him out of Vanderbilt for opposing the draft. Now they're inviting him back as a guest lecturer. When he deregistered with the draft and was arrested, it was an ACLU lawyer who represented him.
He says that those in favor of intelligent design are hijacking Christianity for their own ends.
Anthony Romero's keynote address is basically an introduction of himself and the work of the ACLU to the members who seem most likely to do stuff. He's analogizing the ACLU to the Minutemen of Lexington & Concord.
The rest of his speech amounts to "we've had some wins, we've got a lot more work to do, and all of you are heroic patriots."
Next big fight? Habeas.
What can youth activists do? Ask questions. Contact your congressional representative.
What role internet communications played in the fight for civil rights? Lots.
(I gotta believe these first 3 were planted.)
What will the ACLU be remembered for 30 years from now? Courage. Courage! Get that man one less cup of coffee.
What will ACLU's position be if Conyers holds impeachment hearings after the election? Anthony has a great response: We have to thrash things out before we go in that direction. We are not the civil liberties wing of the Democratic Party. We are bigger than that; we are America.
We're on C-Span again. The organizers give Anthony the hook. Five minutes.
First of all, Anthony should never moderate anything. Second, if Tucker Carlson is not on coke right now, he will be very soon. The most conservative person on the stage is Maddow; she's just a straight-up civil libertarian. Here's the webcast.
Carlson is trying to ingratiate himself.
Update 1: Carlson is in favor of putting the Gitmo defendants on trial in civilian courts.
Update 2: Maddow has the best line: "I believe in the balance between the branches of government."
Update 3: Topic is Rumsfeld. Carlson says he's against the Iraq war and says Rumsfeld isn't to blame - the intellectuals in the White House are to blame. Maddow says its a badly executed bad plan.
Update 4: Abu Ghraib. Carlson says it hurts America. Anthony blames Gonzales calling Geneva Convention "quaint" and "outdated".
Update 5: War on Christmas. Carlson says shame on ACLU. Maddow says protecting religion is important. Carlson says better uses of your time. Advocates ACLU support polygamists.
Update 6: Dover, PA. Use of public school science curriculum to advocate for an intelligent designer. Carlson says its a free speech issue.
Update 7: Why am I live-blogging this? Nothing else to do.
Update 8: Gay marriage: Carlson has no principled objection to it, but he won't advocate it.
Update 9: Wall on Mexico border. Carlson says it will reduce illegal immigration. Romero says it won't work and it disrespects immigrants.
Update 10: They're getting tired up there. Carlson clearly needs a line.
Update 11: Maddow is wearing black-and-white stripey socks. (Pictured.) Carlson keeps using the phrase "animal level."
Update 12: Affirmative action. Carlson says its immoral. Maddow uses some line about Marie Antoinette that no one understands.
Ref disqualifies Carlson for being obviously on some substance.
People are just amazed Scalia showed up. Will he drink with his nose? Will he eat a baby? No! He seems like a very reasonable 19th century American man. Nadine says the constitution evolves, and the audience watches Scalia closely to see if the word burns him. Scalia says he doesn't find the words "homosexuality" or "abortion" in the constitution, but somehow he does find "flag burning" and "infrared camera." I wonder if Scalia knows Williams is gay.
Oh, and a bunch of stuff: dogtag thingies, stickers and temporary tattoos (WTF?) that all say Cocaine.
People (including a couple of Redux authorized dealers) are getting almost $10 a can for it on eBay. Someone who bought a can in a store sold the receipt for $2. I am tempted to flip it for a quick $500 or so, but I think it'll be more fun to walk into a hipster bar and make them do tricks like trained monkeys.
I haven't done anything activismish for a while, so when MoveOn.org called me one morning, I agreed to come in to make some calls. The deal was to recruit other MoveOn.orgers to participate in Call for Change, the mandatory cheesy name for anything MoveOn.org does. CfC is supposed to generate 5 million phone calls into 30 congressional districts around the country that look promising for a Democratic win. Not surprisingly, the targets of these 5 million phone calls are Democratic-identified voters who are not considered likely to vote.
Typical of MoveOn.org, the "organizers" had just graduated from college. I was a precinct leader in the 2004 election, so know what I am doing, but let them do their spiel. I got a list of 40 names and called them in an hour and got 4 people to answer their phone. Turns out the calls were to a college town whose team was playing that very hour. Not very productive. I'll go back tomorrow.
I started thinking about the 5 million calls, though. How many people are they going to be aimed at? A congressional district has about 600,000 people in it. About 75% of the population is voting age. In the 2004 election, about 72% of the voting age population registered to vote. Democrats make up about 35% of registered voters. Multiplying those gives the total number of registered Dems in any district at about 113,000. Using this data, as a rough guess about 20% fewer Dems will show up at the polls in a midterm.
So, each district will have 23,000 Democrats who need to be prodded to get to the polls. For the 30 targeted districts, the total to get out is 690,000. So if 5 million calls are made, then each person will get 7 calls. This seems reasonable to me if by "call" they mean "dialed the number whether anyone answered or not"; even if I had not been calling on a college football Saturday, I would not have expected to get more than 20% of the people on the phone. On the other hand, if by "call" they mean "get someone on the phone", either 5 million calls is ludicrous or my numbers are fucked.
In any case, 5 million calls is a lot of calls. And MoveOn.org is hardly the only outfit getting out the vote. So between calls and people knocking on the door, those 690,000 are going to get a lot of attention in the next 30 days. They're probably sick of it already.
Shorter Ann "I am the adult here so shut up shut up shut up" Althouse:
My daddy left Playboy out on the coffee table, which I will just mention as a creepy aside, but whatever happened it makes me feel so icky that the subject of a girl or young woman having sex with someone older makes me even more illogical than usual.
Does anyone know Althouse? If so, can you sort of nudge her toward therapy?
A grieving grandfather told young relatives not to hate the gunman who killed five girls in an Amish schoolhouse massacre, a pastor said on Wednesday.
"As we were standing next to the body of this 13-year-old girl, the grandfather was tutoring the young boys, he was making a point, just saying to the family, 'We must not think evil of this man,' " the Rev. Robert Schenck told CNN.
And as with the English 9/11, the same eunuchs try to hijack it for their own purposes:
A civilization that can't summon up some pretty widespread hatred for a
man who lines up little girs and shoots them in their heads, after
having been foiled in an attempt to molest them, is a civilization with
a spring broken somewhere.
[T]his story disturbs me deeply — because there can be no question
that anger can be as righteous as forgiveness. I'm not sure I would
want to be someone who succeeded in rising above hatred of those who
murder children. Does this mean that those who harbor hatred of child
killers have somehow achieved a higher level of Godliness than those
who succeed in banishing such hatred from their hearts? [sic] That seems to
be a necessary corollary of the idea that it is heroic to "instruct the
young not to hate," and that seems very wrong to me.
Podhoretz gets the comparative situations backward in his "Does this mean ..." sentence, but what he means is it is more righteous and godly to hate than to forgive. Of course, he's just a Jew trying to make sense of all this crazy Christian crap out there. Derbyshire has no excuse, other than diminished capacity.
As I said before, Christianists are not Christians at all, they're just gang members who adopt Christian colors and gang signs.
Mr. Howards, 54, said at a news conference here that he was taking his 8-year-old son to a piano lesson on June 16 at the Beaver Creek Resort about two hours west of Denver when he saw Mr. Cheney at an outdoor mall. Mr. Howards said he approached within two feet of Mr. Cheney and said in a calm voice, “I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible,” or as the lawsuit itself describes the encounter, “words to that effect.”
Mr. Howards said he then went on his way. About 10 minutes later, he said, he was walking back through the area when Agent Reichle handcuffed him and said he would be charged with assaulting the vice president. Local police officers, acting on information from the Secret Service, according to the suit, ultimately filed misdemeanor harassment charges that could have resulted in up to a year in jail.
While I made fun of Cocaine Energy Drink, I think it's a ballsy and clever piece of marketing. I hope it succeeds. As a total surprise, the very nice people at Redux Beverages are sending me a case. That's very nice, since a single can goes for $10 on eBay. But I'd rather have fun than make money, so I think I'll have my own cocaine party when it gets here: