Friday, June 27, 2008


Quote of Note: Chris Dodd on FISA

"Under the legislation before us, the district court would simply decide whether or not the telecommunication companies received documentation stating that the President authorized the program and that there had been some sort of determination that it was legal.

"But, as the Intelligence Committee has already made clear, we already KNOW that this happened.

"We already KNOW that the companies received some form of documentation, with some sort of legal determination.

"But that’s not the question. The question is not whether these companies received a “document” from the White House. The question is, “were their actions legal?” It’s rather straightforward—surprisingly uncomplicated.

"Either the companies were presented with a warrant, or they weren’t. Either the companies and the President acted outside of the rule of law, or they followed it. Either the underlying program was legal or it wasn’t.

"Because of this legislation, none of the questions will be answered, Mr. President. Because of this so-called “compromise,” the judge’s hands will be tied, and the outcome of these cases will be predetermined. Because of this compromise, retroactive immunity will be granted and that, as they say, will be that. Case closed.

"No court will rule on the legality of the telecommunications companies activities in participating in the president’s warrantless wiretapping program.

"None of our fellow Americans will have their day in court.

"What they will have is a government that has sanctioned lawlessness.

"Well, I refuse to accept that, Mr. President. I refuse to accept the argument that because this situation is just too delicate, too complicated, that this body is simply going to go ahead and sanction lawlessness.

"We are better than that."

Senator Christopher Dodd, D-CT, on the Senate floor, June 24, 2008. [Link to complete text of Dodd speech.]

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Thursday, June 26, 2008


More on "Obama weasels on FISA"

Many of the comments on the previous post have the flavor of, "Politican bad, whadaya expect."

This attitude is fukct -- witness the last eight years. If we're not political, the crooks and their puppets run the show. We have to be political, even if it means we need to criticize the candidate we disagree with less.

Sure Obama's lukewarm FISA position stinks, but consider the alternative. Our lives hang in the balance. Me, I'm still voting for Obama over Grandpa McSame even if Obama is cynical and "pragmatic" on this FISA bill.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Obama weasels on FISA promise

The House has voted to pardon illegal spying by telephone companies. The Senate is about to vote sometime in the next few days. Senator Barack Obama promised last February on October 24, 2007 to filibuster any bill with retroactive immunity in it, but now he's gone lukewarm, saying he'll try to remove the retroactive immunity, but he supports the current FISA bill.

I am very disappointed. I had hoped Obama would actually do the right thing.

Maybe he still will. If we let him know. I've been contacting Obama's tech advisors, the most important of which is to tell them what I think of Obama's FISA weaseling on our Bill of Rights.

I've also called Obama's Senate office to express my opinion: (202) 224-2854

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Monday, June 23, 2008


George Carlin

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, Tits. [link]

Thanks, George. We will miss you.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008


Must See TV: Constitutional Expert on FISA "compromise"

How bloggers held Democratic congress critters' feet to the fire, and why we have to do it again right now!

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Quote of Note: Dan Froomkin

"What kind of a country is it where, when the head of state asks you to do something that may well be illegal, but assures you that he considers it legal, you can't be held accountable for doing it?

Welcome to the new U.S. of A.

Under the surveillance "compromise" that the House of Representatives approved today, telecommunications companies that participated in the government's warrantless surveillance program would get immunity from civil lawsuits as long as they showed that they were told that the program was authorized by [the President] and was determined by his legal team to be lawful."

Dan Froomkin in his Washington Post blog, White House Watch, Friday, June 20, 2008. [link]

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


The fix is in for retroactive telco immunity

UPDATE: Here's the ACLU's hard-hitting summary.
UPDATE: Here's Glenn Greenwald's critique in Salon.

The FISA Telco Immunity and Hiding Bushco Outrages Bill is back. Congress is about to give away out rights as Americans to the telcos again, in much the same way it almost did in February. [link] [link] [link] In so doing, it will prevent trials that would certainly expose Bush Administration violations of civil rights of American Citizens.

Congress seems to think its job is to defend the telcos and the Administration, not the Constitution.

The house vote is tomorrow. The Senate vote will surely follow soon.

The new bill is framed as a compromise. The "compromise" is that a District Court is the final arbiter, but all a District Court Judge must do is record that the Attorney General certified that previous illegal acts by telephone companies were

". . . designed to detect or prevent a terrorist attack, or activities in preparation for a terrorist attack, against the United States."
My tomato garden is designed to grow gold nuggets. My outhouse is designed to fly. I hereby certify. Let me off the hook judge.

Wash Post article here. Text of so-called compromise here [.pdf], see pp 88-93 for the immunity provisions.

Call your congressperson NOW.

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The word cloud, March 11-June 19, 2008, created with wordle.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Meet the newest Internet Governance Body

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will now determine what we can and can't access on the Internet, thanks to Verizon, Sprint, Time Warner Cable and New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo. [link to New York Times article]

Of course, if we pay, we can evade the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's filters, the New York Times points out.

Nowhere in the Times' article does the problem of false alarms -- the blocking of Web sites that have nothing to do with Missing and Exploited Children -- come up. Nor does the problem of chilling effects. Nor does the problem of the privatization of governance.

According to the LA Times, France, Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Canada and New Zealand already "have implemented similar measures." And from my travels, I know that Israel and Japan are considering national censorship programs.

This is, in my humble opinion, a populist wedge issue to undermine the Internet's neutrality. I wish the carriers would stay the &^%$ out of content.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Quote of Note: George W. Bush

"Wait, what did you just say? You're predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?"

George W. Bush, White House Press Conference, January 28, 2008, quoted here.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008


Bill Moyers v Fox News: You Decide!

This clip, shot this morning, is must-see TV . . . I was on the edge of my chair!

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Friday, June 06, 2008


The George Gilder crime community

So I can't begin this without saying that, notwithstanding the below, I have a warm spot in my heart for George Gilder. I get him, and I really like him. Plus I owe him big time; my first paying gig out of AT&T was writing up The Stupid Network for Gilder's newsletter. He's been a generous soul to me, even after it became obvious that his politics, which came from the wing-nut right in the first place, turned right again after the Stupid Network while mine resumed course towards the left.

The recent dual indictment of Broadcom CEO Henry Nicholas, who I met at Gilder's Telecosm, made me look back and realize that I've never been in such a thick den of thieves as Telecosm. The criminals (and alleged crooks) I met there included not only Nicholas, but also Michael Milken, Charles Keating, Joe Nacchio, and Gary Winnick.

I think George would say they were indicted for "financial creativity," especially Milken (see Gilder's eloquent defense here), except, maybe, for Nicholas' second indictment, which included charges of spiking the drinks of unsuspecting customers and employees with psychedelic drugs. This latter is an offense I equate with rape.

I can't remember which Telecosm I met Nicholas at, but I remember that I violently disagreed with his centralized conception of how networked content creates value. George felt called to intervene in our hallway argument as a large crowd gathered, and did it graciously. But I didn't like Nicholas from the git-go.

After Global Crossing crashed in 2002, Gilder called it Global Double Crossing. A few years before, though, I vividly remember its founder, Gary Winnick, mesmerizing an after-dinner Telecosm crowd with tales of optical pulses flying around the world with nary a legacy telco in sight. Not only did I remember, I bought! I helped finance about $20,000 of Winnick's ill-gotten loot.

Charles Keating was a regular Telecosm attendee, but I don't think he ever spoke there. I never spoke to him either, I just glared at him when he got close to me. He was the chairman of the Lincoln Savings Bank, the corrupt showpiece of the S&L crisis of 1989, which moved savings out of the accounts of widows, orphans and retirees, and into the pockets of corrupt bank officials. Keating is also the namesake of the Keating Five, a group of four Democratic Senators and one maverick Republican (guess who!) who were caught improperly influencing federal bank investigators to go easy.

I served on at least two Telecosm panels with Joe Nacchio. Nacchio was a bad guy when he briefly headed my business unit at AT&T; we actively resisted his imperious top-down edicts. Then he became a good guy when he took over at Qwest. Then he became a bad guy when Qwest bought ailing ILEC US West, but then he became a good guy again because he managed the merged entity well through the Bust. Then he became a bad guy again when he sold his Qwest stock even as he touted it in public. And now he's a good guy again -- in my book, for sure -- because he was the only telco exec with enough balls to tell the NSA domestic spying guys to come back with a warrant. But he's still under indictment, slippery as a banana on appeal.

Of the five -- Nicholas, Milken, Keating, Nacchio and Winnick -- Winnick is the only one I've ever heard George Gilder renounce. Yet he's the only one (as far as I know) to escape indictment. The other four have been found guilty at least once, and Milken and Keating are alumni of this nation's institutions of higher punishment.

None of them were very scary. The four who exposed their thinking to me (all but Keating) were smart, articulate and fascinating. Yet I'm reminded of Woody's verses from Jesse James:
Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won’t never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

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Monday, June 02, 2008


Kangaroo won't jump high enough

The Miami Herald reports:
The Defense Department was mum Friday on the reasons for the abrupt removal of a Guantánamo war court judge . . . Military prosecutors had been pressing [the judge, Army Col. Peter Brownback III] to set a trial date, but he has repeatedly directed them first to satisfy defense requests for access to potential evidence. At a hearing earlier this month, he threatened to suspend the proceedings altogether unless the detention center provided records of [the prisoner's] confinement.

The English language doesn't have words strong enough to describe the despicable absence of shame, empathy and respect for the rule of law. We are witnessing the institutionalization of sociopathy.

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