China’s Continuing Net Censorship

Meanwhile, the regime in Beijing just can’t stop closing down Internet cafes (Register), part of the government’s attempt to stifle political dissent even as it liberalizes economically. In the end, they can’t do both successfully, because a vibrant free economy depends in part on political freedom.


Posted by: on November 1, 2004 08:34 AM

“a vibrant free economy depends in part on political freedom.”

Is this true? what about Singapore?
(I’m curious, not challenging)

Posted by: Dan Gillmor on November 1, 2004 08:40 AM

It worked for a while in Singapore, but they’ve stifled creativity for so long that they’re now in some trouble. In fact, the government is liberalizing politically at this point, and for this reason — they know that in the economy of tomorrow, creativity is essential.

Posted by: on November 1, 2004 11:38 AM

China has closed 1% of the cafes.

Not really a big crackdown.

Posted by: Robert Worstell on November 1, 2004 12:07 PM

Our solution is to simply keep using their cheaper labor while we bring in our fast-food and Western lifestyle franchises to sell them more stuff with their raised standard of living. The more disposable income they have, the more choice they have, the more their politics will lean toward personal freedom and personal responsibility.

That will settle the dust, eventually.

Check out : Pentagon’s new map

Posted by: on November 1, 2004 04:56 PM

Just some questions… sort of following up on Anna’s comments:
1)”a vibrant free economy depends in part on political freedom.” Any evidence this is more than just wishful thinking on our part? I can’t think of a fundamental reason why this statement would be true.
2)”in the economy of tomorrow, creativity is essential”… again, we hear this so often, but is it more than wishful thinking? In the last chapter of his book “Accidental Theorist”, economist Krugman plays the devil’s advocate (sort of), and imagines a future where the above is not true.

Posted by: Anna on November 1, 2004 05:08 PM

“Any evidence this is more than just wishful thinking on our part? I can’t think of a fundamental reason why this statement would be true.”

I can, now, I think. Not sure if it would scale down to small-country size, but:

Political freedom means voters have control of their govt. If voters have control, corporations don’t. If corporations don’t, they can’t stifle competing “garage company” innovations in the cradle. Hence more freedom to innovate.

Posted by: on November 1, 2004 05:55 PM

And what about Hong Kong (especially before mid-80’s when UK started the process of returning HK to China and introducing some political liberalization)? Or is that due to unique circumstances in spite of the political environment?

Speaking about Hong Kong, are you teaching there this year, Dan?

I don’t know that much about Singapore; been there just once several years back. One impression (whether true or false) I got from the trip was that the major projects or developments over there were led or coordinated by the government. So the corollary would be if you don’t get the government interested, it won’t get done.

Posted by: on November 2, 2004 05:57 PM

Again, I don’t see why “a vibrant free economy depends in part on political freedom.” Although Anna makes a good point as to why the assertion may be corect, I still think it could be a case of wishful thinking. The last century was “the American century”, where the US economy was the dominant player. Why? It is nice to think it is because of our democratic institutions, but it could just be an accident of history. If this century indeed turns out to be the “Chinese century”, then all of a sudden everyone will think their political system is superior. In chaotic systems, temporary equilibria can persist, to be replaced by others, yet it is impossible to predict the sequence of equilibria, or even to explain in hindsight why a particular sequence occurred.

Posted by: Domai on November 4, 2004 04:53 AM

The Chinese government confirmed this weekend that it has closed 1,600 internet cafes. 1600 cafes = 1% of cafes…

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Preventing the Vote

  • Bob Herbert (NY Times): Days of Shame. Overseas, our troops are being mauled in the long dark night of Iraq – a war with no end in sight that has already claimed the lives of more than 1,100 American troops and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of innocent Iraqis. At home, the party of the sitting president is systematically stomping on the right of black Americans to vote, a vile and racist practice that makes a mockery of the president’s claim to favor real democracy anywhere.

  • We’re seeing a raft of stories now, full of journalistic “balance,” showing problems on both sides of the aisle.

    There certainly are some cases of fraudulent registration. But this is hardly likely to be a more Democratic phenomenon than a Republican one; it’s just as easy (or difficult) to do it on either side.

    Naturally, I didn’t hear any Republican complaints about the phony Ralph Nader petition signatures that caused a Pennsylvania judge to proclaim the activities “the most deceitful and fraudulent exercise ever perpetrated upon this court” before tossing Nader off the ballot. A Nader vote would surely have been one less vote for Kerry in most cases.

    But there is abundant evidence surfacing that people — presumably who want Bush to win — are trying to suppress the vote, especially in minority communities, through various kinds of trickery or outright bullying. Herbert’s column talks about Pennysylvania, but there have been cases documented around the country.

    Several of my friends, including two high-powered lawyers, have flown to Ohio and Florida, to be poll monitors. They want to help ensure that people who are registered to vote don’t get bullied out of voting.

    The people attempting to illegally suppress the minority vote deserve more than condemnation. They deserve jail time.

  • Meanwhile, Ralph Nader remains arrogant as he attempts to throw the election to Bush.


    Posted by: on November 1, 2004 11:32 AM

    When the term “machine” is used to talk about elections, the word “Democratic” is always understood to be in front of it. And the reason is the “machine” manufactures votes. Absentee ballots and this provisional balloting in different precincts are some of the tools of the trade. The expansion of same day registration is an interesting advancement in fraud: why not vote in multiple precincts? How are they going to check? As we saw a few weeks ago in a few news sources, the Dem’s playbook is to complain about problems, bring some “disenfranchised” person (preferably a minority) and get it on the news…

    From the Rocky Mountain News describing the Dem’s playbook…
    “If no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a pre-emptive strike,” rule No. 2 says.

    Then, the manual says the operatives should issue a press release “reviewing Republican tactics used in your area or state.” They should also quote “party/minority/civil rights leadership as denouncing tactics that discourage people from voting.”

    So, Dan, you and the Dem’s then get to complain about poll watchers catching some of this stuff. The Dem’s raise such a ruckus that even when the law is broken and someone is allowed to vote when they have no right to, a big deal is made.

    I have nothing but contempt for these practices. And yes, the Republicans play games, but I live in Chicago and the games played by the Democrats are huge. Who was JFK’s first guest in the White House in 1961? Richard J Daley? Who did Gore get to spearhead the 2000 recount fiasco? Daley’s son. Why? Because they brought in the vote manipulation experts.

    The games played by Republicans pale against what the Democrats are pulling. It’s one thing to get out the vote. I whole heartedly agree. It’s another to attack and overwhelm the system with fraud. And they do it where they have the most control – the heavily democratic areas where the Dem’s control the apparatus. When I hear people talk about Republican thugs in these urban areas, I laugh. Then they complain about Republicans who may run a Secretary of State’s office. These elections are highly local and the shenannigans happen at the precinct level. Who do you think works the precincts? Many are former or current party people or were on the city’s payroll? (I’m thinking of how Chicago works.)

    I suspect the same tricks happen at most major urban areas.

    We need some type of real voter registartion system to fight this crap. We also need an honest media to report. SO when you or I see the complaining going on over the next few weeks, we should all take the Dem’s playbook into account.

    Posted by: Robert Worstell on November 1, 2004 12:16 PM

    Balance is the key word.

    New York Times is hardly accurate or balanced these days, proven over and over and over.

    Racism is using “race” (other than the human one) for personal profit or benefit. Same way with sexism – those claims of “homophobia” that surfaced during the last debate.

    It’s been proven over and over and over that there was no problem during the last election. Practically, half the country doesn’t have a problem, only the metro areas – who have problems with everything (IMHO).

    The news only cover metro areas and think their money comes from readership which depends on controversy. Bogus.

    Those parties and papers who use the race or sex card to get their ratings and circulation up are the lowest of the gutter snipes.

    What we need is to let the states work it out, which they have for over 200 years now. Keep the feds out. Ignore the old media, get your news from, where you can get all the data from both sides and can compare to get the actual facts, as opposed to slanted opinion. I find the most accurate views of the American election actually come from Australian papers.

    Luck to us all – and another point, all the polls are wrong. Check out what they said about Missouri’s marriage amendment – they were way off, and are in this election, too.

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    Book Talk Next Thursday

    I’ll be speaking about and signing copies of We the Media on Thursday at Barnes & Noble, 3600 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose (map). I’ll also discuss the impact of the Internet on the 2004 election. The event starts at 7 p.m.


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    The Red Sox Curse is Lifted

  • AP: Bedlam in Beantown. Boston Red Sox sweep away decades of heartache with World Series win

  • RedsoxIf you are not a Red Sox fan, you can’t understand how big a story this is for New Englanders.

    Well, Chicago Cubs fans have a clue. May they return from the wilderness someday soon, too.


    Posted by: Jim on October 28, 2004 08:56 AM

    Thanks god for lifting this curse and letting the Red Soxs win. I am so happy maybe the same luck will hold up for kerry

    Posted by: on October 28, 2004 12:20 PM

    I used to kinda like Boston until they turned into a bunch of free-spending Yankee wannabes. Just some more East Coast media bias.

    Posted by: on October 28, 2004 03:11 PM


    The Cubs have sucked for far longer and a lot worse than the Red Sox. The last Red Sox Series win was 1918 against the Cubs. The last Cubs Series win was 1908!
    Boston has been to the Series FIVE, count em, FIVE TIMES since 1945, the last time the Cubs were there.
    Being a Cub fan is the finest preparation for life there is. You know everything will fail.

    Posted by: on October 28, 2004 05:09 PM

    Partly off thread… Been away for a few days. Poster’s name listed first. Great!

    Let’s hear it for the BoSox!!!!!!!!!

    Go Sox!!!!!

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    A Victory for Openness, Competition

  • AP: Court Overturns Lexmark Case Injunction. Lexington-based Lexmark filed a lawsuit seeking to stop Static Control from competing for its remanufactured cartridge business. Lexmark accused Static Control of violating copyright law along with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

  • As the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes in this release, “This decision suggests that courts are losing patience with frivolous reverse-engineering suits filed under the DCMA that seem designed to crush competition rather than protect copyright.”

    we can hope, anyway.


    Posted by: on October 27, 2004 02:20 PM

    “competing for its remanufactured cartridge business”

    One of the more creative euphemisms for “stealing” that I’ve seen.

    For those of you who haven’t followed the case: Lexmark came up with a program that sold toner cartridges to customers at a discount, contingent on their agreement to return the cartridges to Lexmark when empty. They embedded chips in those cartridges that would distinguish them from the more-expensive “do whatever you want with them” cartridges, and prevent them from being refilled by anyone but Lexmark.

    Now, I don’t know how it works out in practice, but on paper it’s a major win-win deal for everybody: it dramatically reduces both the administrative and remanufacturing costs for Lexmark, and makes it very convenient for customers to send the re-usable box and cartridge in for recycling, instead of to the landfill. Does it also give Lexmark a huge competitive advantage in the refurbishing biz? Yup. However, nothing that I’ve read about the case so far even hints that Lexmark did anything to prevent the third-party vendors from trying to compete by offering a better TCO through recycling the “whatever” cartridges.

    What Static Control did was the modern equivalent of cattle rustling: they came up with a way to “rebrand” the discounted cartridges so they could do the refilling.

    Regardless of how you feel about the odiousness of the DMCA, or Lexmark’s lawyers’ (ab)using it, this case isn’t about “preventing competition”: it’s about “preventing theft”.

    Posted by: on October 27, 2004 10:14 PM

    That’s BS. If the discount you refer to existed, it’s a side issue.
    As anyone who has actually used Lexmark’s products will tell you, the chip embedded in its cartridges is nothing but a scam. The chip has only one function: to pass an “identity test” so that if you tried to use a competitor’s toner cartridges, the printer’s own software can (gratuitously) slow down and disable some of its advanced features. The sole point of this “feature” was to destroy any other company’s ability to make a profit selling toner cartridges that fit a Lexmark printer.
    It’s about time the courts sided with consumers against the thieves who pull stunts like that.

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    Just landed back in the U.S. and find in my e-mail a link to something truly foul by a columnist for a newspaper I normally admire, the Guardian in London. I won’t pass along the link, but the columnist in question has not-so-obliquely called out the assassins against George W. Bush. Shameful.


    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 07:47 AM

    Dan wrote: “Please don’t feed the troll”.

    I guess he meant, let *him*. Only this time, he says disingenuously that he agrees with me. (This posting is, of course, a reply to an item I posted on the below Open Thread).


    At least he admits that the Guardian is a paper he “normally” admires. Par for the course for this trash extremist Left Kerry bag handler, that he admires a paper that calls for the assassination of the President for his compassionate conservative views, which takes the rug out from under vacant liberals like John F. Kerry.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 09:07 AM

    Query, you should try English occasionally.

    Posted by: Dan Gillmor on October 24, 2004 09:24 AM

    Please don’t feed the troll.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 10:55 AM

    I read the article and I, too, was disgusted. The sad thing is I think it just puts into words what a lot of the lefties actually feel – a seething hatred for the US and Bush.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 12:25 PM

    Looks like that article has been removed from The Guardian website.

    Posted by: James Salsman on October 24, 2004 12:34 PM

    I find it interesting that there has apparently been an $8400 reward to the first person, journalist or otherwise, who asks Bush how many times he has been arrested, and it has been unclaimed since August:

    What does this say about journalism?

    More info, and a link to a Knight-Ridder story:

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 01:12 PM

    James Salsman, are you unaware that Guccioni has been throwing around a number in the *millions* for comparable information? Last election, he offered large amounts in PRINT advertisements, although it’s more quiet this time.

    Do you seriously doubt you could get at least that, if not a figure ten times that amount, at the door of George Soros?

    The money being offered and expended by the ultra-rich on behalf of a radical, extreme Left agenda this election cycle is unprecedented, and goes against the spirit and often the letter of McCain-Feingold.

    And the mainstream media, so gun-ho for campaign finance reform, sit in shameful silence!

    Posted by: Rand Careaga on October 24, 2004 01:33 PM

    I’m reminded of a poster I saw about a dozen years ago, featuring a photograph of the notional candidate:

    “John W. Hinckley for President:
    He’s had a shot at the man—Let’s give him a shot at the job!”

    I can’t recall the Secret Service being summoned forth on that earlier occasion, and while I strongly disapprove of the “lone crazed gunman” approach to regime change (if you undertake to eradicate a country’s president you should employ cruise missiles like a normal person) I don’t know that the Guardian’s lame quip really merits query—or DG. come to that—getting his knickers in a twist.


    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 01:44 PM

    Query is absolutley correct about the media giving the Dem’s a big pass for all of the Soros-type money flowing in. Yes, the Republicans collect money from wealthy people, but Soros stands out as an outsider interferring with the elections. (I know he is a citizen, but he calls himself a citizen of the world. With his money, he’s like a US multinational corporation headquarted on some tax haven – who knows who he cares about.)

    Even if his efforts are legal, I don’t hear a peep from the usual organizations (ACLU?, various democracy organizations, etc.) who supposedly look out for this kind of crap. And, as far as I can tell, the media hasn’t said a word.

    With Dan’s interest in the media, I would think he would want a strongly worded post on the massive problems that this type of concentrated money can have on our democracy. Dan is good at using adjectives like “shameless”, “inexcusable”, “phony”, “blatant”, “incompetent”, etc, which can apply to the players around this Soros-type moeny story. How about it?

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 02:27 PM

    Rand, my opinion is the line has been crossed by a number of people. The author’s uncivil behavior is a microcosm. The various “protestors” who express such hate are aweful. If it was Republican protestors expressing such hate, there would be calls for hate crimes. I find the left’s claim for tolerance of other’s ideas to be profoundly hypocritical. Yes, the right plays hardball, but this seething hatred by the left is terrible.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 03:07 PM

    On September 13, 2001, Ann Coulter published a column that lamented the death of her close friend Barbara Olson, wife of U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, who was a passenger on one of the hijacked planes.

    After a touching, very personal tribute, full of anger over the loss of her friend, Ms. Coulter closed out her column as follows:

    “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.”

    Put *that* alongside Charlie Brooker calling for the assassination of President George W. Bush.

    Will the Left — which led a vicious, persistent and ultimately successful campaign to get Ann Coulter fired from her journalistic job at the time — now pounce upon Brooker and insist that he be run out of journalism?

    Brooker is a two-bit hack, in the eyes of many on the Right. There’s very little chance that he’ll rise up again, like the Phoenix — as Ann Coulter did — to become one of the most effective fountains of biting demagoguery for his side.

    Will Dan step forward and proclaim that Charlie Brooker has no business writing *EVER AGAIN* for a serious news outlet?

    If he will not, it just shows that Dan Gillmor finds the proselytizing of Christianity more abhorrent the than advocacy of President George W. Bush’s assassination.

    Posted by: Rand Careaga
    on October 24, 2004 03:42 PM

    query can scarcely contain himself for very outrage over “Charlie Brooker calling for the assassination of President George W. Bush.”

    Charlie Brooker didn’t actually call for anything. He asked “John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?” I’m happy to help out here. The answers are (A) Baltimore MD; (B) Fort Worth TX; and (C) Washington DC. The first two are not generally considered to be at present a danger to anyone and the third, who is in a locked and guarded facility, was a lousy shot.


    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 03:58 PM

    Well, the article link now shows an apology and clarification.

    As for the Als and other stump-jumpers, let me contrast that tasteless joke with another: “I have just signed legislation outlawing Russia forever. The bombing begins in 10 minutes.” –Ronald Reagan, while a sitting president. Al, when you heard that you probably thought “Ha! Good one.” Never mind that the preznit actually can get thousands of people killed on a whim.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 04:13 PM

    A Democrat flipped the switch to start transmitting Reagan’s weekly broadcast while he was warming up doing a comedy bit, because he knew it would make a good soundbite for the pathetic Mondale campaign.

    But I suppose you were in diapers, then, Peter G., or you would know better than to make such an arse of yourself with that comment.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 04:56 PM

    Apart from there now being an apology in the place of the column, “columnist” is an inappropriately grandiose word for what this really was. The piece was a page filler in the TV guide distributed with the Guardian, not any part of the main newspaper. And yes the humor’s rough, and the last sentence went over the limit, but whoever is sending this around is looking for some manufactured outrage, and seems to be getting it.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 06:48 PM

    Peter G: Yes, I remember hearing Reagan’s comments, but his were done in jest. Many of the hardcore left seems to have this seething hatred ingrained. Maybe I’m wrong, but the hatred for Bush and the US by these people seems almost maniacal.

    It seems much deeper than the right’s intense dislike (or hatred) for Clinton.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 08:01 PM

    Whenever I hear or read radically extremist views from these so called “Journalists” (whether it’s Booker, Coulter, O’Reilly, etc…) it reminds me of how far politics has gone down the abyss. These people don’t talk about the real issues facing the country… I surmise that’s because it’s much easier to spew hatred and line your own pockets being a controversial talking head. It’s incredibly sad that this nonsense passes as “the news” in today’s political discourse.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 08:08 PM

    “…but his were done in jest.”

    Of course they were. As was the TV reviewer’s column in The Guardian. It’s a humor column, fer gawd’s sake. As for projecting American centrist and leftist agreement with an exasperated minor columnist published in the United Kingdom, give me a break. Hate crimes, my ass.

    So tell me, have you stopped hating Clinton now that you no longer can blame him for US government screwups, or is it a wistful longing for the days (all 8 years, not just the late boom) when an investor below the level of hedge fund could make money? Or perhaps a dim, dawning realization that faith-based policy is an awful substitute for an intelligent, engaged leader?

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 10:56 PM

    Wake up, this is one of 30-40 disgusting actions taken by Democrats or those supporting Democrats.

    The Democratic party is going to split in the near future. The hardcore, win at any costs left, and the more moderate and centrist group near the middle.

    If Kerry loses, watch out.

    Posted by: adamsj on October 25, 2004 06:19 AM


    I’ve heard exactly the same prediction about the Republican Party after Bush loses. That strikes me as likelier (not the Bush loss–that’s a given, unless something happens in the next few days–but the split). After all, the Republicans will have a failed incumbent and his backers to snipe at, whereas the Dems would have against Kerry only what they had against Gore: “You lost to _this_ guy?”

    Posted by: on October 25, 2004 07:51 AM

    adamsj: No, the Republicans are now where near splitting. What is the Democratic Party now? The 527’s have usurped a big chunk of the power. Even if Kerry wins, it will be unclear who is running the party. Clinton boy Terry McAuliffe (even with his Global Crossing stock killing that the press ignores) may survive, only because it will be hard to find someone for the job. Who is going to want to deal with the egos of all of the 527’s? Every one of them is going to be looking for power and payback.

    They’re united now, but the backstabbing will start as soon as the election is over and the big payrolls start to shrink.
    Watch them before the election: if they think Kerry is going to lose, the backstabbing will start quickly. Not even a friendly press will be able to keep it contained.

    Posted by: on October 25, 2004 01:21 PM

    In a thread above on Stem Cell Research, a poster who calls himself “Step Back” wrote:

    ‘what is your position about surgically removing “life” from Rehnquist’s throat?’

    What? W H A T ? ? ? ? ? ! ! ! !

    The demagoguery of Florida 2000 has gone far enough, but this is ***un-fricking-believable**.

    The call for political assassination moves from the U.K. Guardian to the pages of Dan Gillmor’s blog.

    Step Back just called the slashing of conservative Supreme Court Justice Reinquist’s throat!

    This is shameful, shameful, shameful.

    Of course, a Left extreme shrill like Dan Gillmor will say nothing.

    Remarkable hypocrisy. Remarkable.

    Posted by: on October 25, 2004 01:39 PM

    “And, as far as I can tell, the media hasn’t said a word.”

    A Google News search for “soros 527 influence” turns up 39 results. Doing a web search returns about 5400. Among the top 25 web results are archived articles from the NY Times and Post, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Bloomberg, and the Cato Institute.

    Looks like you can’t “tell” very “far”…

    Posted by: adamsj on October 25, 2004 02:11 PM

    Hi, cog,

    I think the in-fighting you describe has already happened, and that some of the activ
    ity you mention is it still happening. (The Democratic rank-and-file got pretty pissed off after the 2002 debacle.) 527s and related groups are effectively becoming new leadership of the Democratic Party. Those who won’t cooperate will be left behind, and those who will cooperate, well, they’ll cooperate.

    A good thing, according to this Democrat. The party has allowed the right to bash liberals and liberalism for too long. The age of Democratic pusillanimity is over.

    In barely related news, I suppose you’ve heard that Rehnquist’s throat surgery–a tracheotomy, I believe–for his thyroid cancer went successfully and that he’s now resting up from it.

    Posted by: on October 25, 2004 03:30 PM

    I did not know Mr. Brookers affiliation. I just assumed that he was from the “even further right”, and would want Mr. Cheney in power in name as well as fact.


    Posted by: Ward Gerlach on October 25, 2004 03:41 PM

    I’ve already posted in my blog about the Guardian.

    As you might guess, I’m boiling mad.

    And, I am serious.

    To recap: Due to their (1) attempt to influence elections in the US (in Ohio), and (2) advocacy of the assasination of the President, the Guardian has proven that they are NOT a “news” orgainzation, and should have their press credentials in the US revoked immediately.

    No apologies are requested, nor should they be entertained in any way – Ban the Bums!


    Posted by: Rand Careaga on October 25, 2004 05:21 PM

    Why no, Ward, since none of us have ever heard of you, how could we have guessed you were boiling mad—much less serious—until you told us so?

    Best of luck in your crusade to remove the Guardian from these shores. I think it will be a splendid, if not strictly useful, outlet for your boiling, serious energies.


    Posted by: koreyel on October 25, 2004 07:52 PM

    Bush is the most hated man on the planet.
    I suppose that sort of blatant remark comes with that job title.

    But agreed–it is pretty horrible example of journalism.

    Because if one really hated Bush… the best scenario for the hater is to have Bush win another four years.

    After all if Bush wins, Europe will stay alienated, the Iraq-mess will continue to cash drain the US, and not only will the deficit continue to rise, but so well the world’s population of American haters (more and more enemies for America–less foreign investment: delightful!)…

    In short–one will have the joy of seeing the US reap the fruits of “banana repulicanism.” Bush will have single-handedly trashed, looted, and debased America.

    It’s a wonderfully rosy scenario for those who really truly hate Bush and America.

    In fact… being what I call a neo-republican (me first, me second, me third, me fourth, you fifth), I am thinking I ought to vote for Bush with my right hand, and buy Euros and Yen with my left.

    Yeah verily, I pledge allegiance to my wallet.
    Profit before patriotism everytime.

    God bless you all… and good night.

    Posted by: on October 26, 2004 05:46 AM

    I’m all for assination politics.

    Only, we should make sure we do it the democratic way using the Anonymous Cocaine Auction Protocol. At least it would it would be more honest and representitive that the current sham that we pass off to the rest of the world as “democracy” (and believe me, the rest of the world is *NOT* as stupid as we belive they are; they’re currently laughting at us and have been for the last 4 years).

    Considering the shear level of mediocrity currently represented by the USA’s “viable” canidates, yea old wild card is the only way out of the hand we’ve been dealt.

    I personally would rather see Dick Chaney take the credit and responsibility for the current administration than head money boy presently at the helm (and I use that pharase “head monkey boy” only out of respect and honor he bestoes upon the position).

    Posted by: on October 26, 2004 01:18 PM

    I will give credit to Dan where due for condemning the Guardian. It’s interesting that some on here still won’t draw the line when a paper calls for the assasination of a US president.

    I remember the sixties when the bullets really did fly and I don’t care to return to that time.

    Dan, I would really like to see you condemn the NYT (and CBS) for that thinly veiled October surprise that said we left explosives unguarded in Iraq.

    Even an NBC report that had their own inbedded correspondents say they had first hand knowledge the report was false didn’t stop Kerry from going on the attack.

    Best line all day was the White House spokesman who deadpanned, “So Senator Kerry wanted us to invade Iraq sixty days earlier when the UN said the explosives were there?”

    You are watching the wheels come off the Kerry campaign as we speak.

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    Open Thread

    I’ll be on planes for the next few hours.

    Talk below. Please behave, and don’t feed the troll.


    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 06:22 AM

    In Dan’s far Left phantasmagoria, every little (in his mind) deviation from proper journalistic standards that works against his extreme views and the candidates, like Kerry, that abides them, should receive harsh criticism.

    Here is an example of what Dan lets slide. **EVEN WHEN HE HAPPENED TO BE IN ENGLAND AT THE TIME**, he said nothing when The Guardian called for the assassination of the President of the United States. In fact, the paper called such an act of political terror the only “civilized” thing to do:

    “On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod’s law dictates he’ll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?”

    So, Dan, by the omission of any criticism, are you agreeing with the content?

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 06:26 AM

    Real Clear Politics, a non-partisan web site that aggregates the leading polls, and currently calls the election for President Bush, had the following to say on the recent shameful interruptions and interference with the rights of the voters and the democratic process:

    “Some of the behavior we’re seeing from Democrats in America at the moment ranges from comical to bizarre to deeply disturbing:

    * Dredging up decades old images of racism to play on the anger and fear of African-American voters.
    * Screeching “YOU’RE A CREEPY LIAR” uncontrollably at the top of their lungs on national TV instead of debating with facts and logic.
    * Trashing signs of political adversaries.
    * Breaking into offices of political adversaries.
    * Throwing cinder block bricks through the front door of offices of political adversaries.
    * Shooting bullets through the windows of offices of political adversaries.
    * Laying siege to offices of political adversaries
    * Paying workers with crack cocaine for voter registration forms – mostly fraudulent ones at that.
    * Sending out flyers making fun of the Special Olympics and suggesting that only a mentally retarded person would vote for George Bush.
    * Bullying voters in line at polling places.

    These are just a few stories from the last week pulled off the top of my head. The list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s plenty enough for Democrats to be ashamed of. And they should be.

    The fact is Democrats are angry, desperate, and absolutely beside themselves at facing the prospect of another four years with George W. Bush as President. Frankly, I don’ t blame them.

    With so much invested emotionally, it will be a crushing psychological blow for liberals to see Bush reelected a week from this Tuesday. Furthermore, if Bush wins big it could be a defeat that threatens the very foundations of the liberal movement itself.”

    Posted by: Az Democrat on October 24, 2004 08:03 AM

    If you are going to make these sweeping assertions about Democrats, how about offering some proof?

    The crack cocaine thing smacks of a Republican dirty trick designed to make the Democrats look bad.

    To blame “Democrats” for these actions is another creepy lie from the extreme right. All of the tactics mentioned are part and parcel of right wing fanatics.

    My brother woke up this morning to find his Kerry/Edwards yard sign torn to bits and scattered to the wind while the Bush/Cheney sign across the street was intact.

    The Republicans have used fear mongering for decades to dredge up tired old racial prejudices surrounding welfare, education and jobs, preferring to paint all minorities as lazy, ignorant people who can’t figure out how to vote correctly. And don’t forget the dirty trick the Republicans used in South Carolina in their own presidential primary in 2000 when they told voters that John McCain had a “black” child (he had adopted a baby from India).

    Pah-leeze! Your laundry list of dirty tricks looks more like it was taken from the Republican manual than the Democrats’.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 08:18 AM


    I’ve noticed a pattern here. Shortly before your Number One Fan changes his posting name, the posts go up in frequency and in their shrillness. During that time, the discussions lose all value whatsoever as the reasoned comments vanish in a sea of #1F’s posts and the responses, which tend to fall into the camp of equally-daft insults, pleas not to engage, or meta-observations like this one.

    You have _got_ to do something more permanent to oust the poster. We all know that such an act would not be (as the inevitable shrieking accusation would have it) censorship or a refusal to face facts or a desire to turn the “blog” into a mutual-admiration society. As it is, you’re allowing the forum to be hijacked by and for someone else. If your software can’t support a ban by username or IP address, change to one of the other zillion packages. All the free software weenies seem to have moved from writing their own text editors to “blogware”. Hand-wringing isn’t going to work.

    Posted by: Dan Gillmor on October 24, 2004 08:52 AM

    My options at this point are basically to play whack-a-mole (he just comes back with a new address); ban an entire ISP from posting (a big one); shut down comments (I’d rather not); or ignore him.

    Until we have better posting software, I’m sticking with my advice to everyone:

    Please don’t feed the troll.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 09:59 AM

    Whoa! Ban an ISP? Shut down comments? Sounds like we’re trying to control content here. While I don’t agree with the troll’s style, doesn’t free speech apply everywhere?
    It’s your weblog, you get to do with it as you please, just like Clear Channel did with Howard Stern.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 10:37 AM


    Free speech is all well and good but a modicum of civility and reason in discourse is called for. I like to think of the comments section here as a group of adults sitting around having a conversation. If a small child enters the room and throws a tantrum, the child is removed from the room. This is not a violation of his free speech rights; it is an appropriate response by adults who wish to continue their conversation undisturbed.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 11:39 AM

    Some schlock wrote: “If you are going to make these sweeping assertions about Democrats, how about offering some proof?”

    Dan won’t permit links on his page anymore.

    You can visit “real clear politics . com”, a non-partisan poll-centric site, for links to each and every charge.

    Posted b
    y: AZ Democrat on October 24, 2004 01:16 PM

    I am the “schlock” you are writing about. #1, I don’t know yiddish so I don’t know what “schlock” means. If it’s an insult, here is a Bronx cheer for you. #2, this is the first time I have ever posted here. #3, What’s wrong with free speech? This is still America, isn’t it?

    p.s. I haven’t visited “real clear politics,” so I cannot independently ascertain whether or not they are truly nonpartisan, but the name itself is condescending to citizens in general, implying that everything has to be simplified for the average Joe to understand what’s what. The electorate is a lot smarter than the right wing gives it credit for and that will be abundantly clear on Nov. 3rd.

    Posted by: Mariane Maffeo on October 24, 2004 01:18 PM

    I don’t want to be considered a troll, so I am leaving my legal name and business address so anyone can contact me. The reason I used an alias earlier is that I am afraid of retribution for not supporting the “right” candidate.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 01:25 PM

    I’m sorry, “schlock”, that you’re a political novice, but real clear politics is the premier polling aggregation site on the web.

    Their running average of contemporary, leading polls has George W. Bush leading John F. Kerry by 3.1%, with a continuing advantage also in the so-called “Battleground” states.

    The reason W’s spread is so low, is an outlier poll by the Associated Press putting Kerry ahead by 6 points (!) — which is currently the only straw extremists like Dan Gillmor and Josh Marshall are holding onto.

    The AP’s next poll, in just a few days, will normalize Bush’s lead to 4% or higher. The trend is for Bush. And even more importantly, the breaking news is for Bush.

    Turn on your TVs tonight, for cable news after 9pm, or consult the web.

    John F. Kerry hits the skids, permanently, tonight. Let’s just say that the contribution of a certain patriot — no less a patriot in the eyes of Conservatives than the Liberal’s vaunted Daniel Ellsberg who released the Pentagon Papers — comes forward tonight.

    Kerry will shriek at the top of his lungs about an “illegal” leak of “classified” information. But it’s campaign-ending stuff. He’s finished, tonight.

    Posted by: Mariane Maffeo on October 24, 2004 01:32 PM

    FACT CHECK: Real Clear Politics, a non-partisan web site…

    Web URL issued to John McIntyre, Princeton Class of 1991. This from

    “The articles selected invariably demonstrate McIntyre and Bevan’s political bent, about which they are unabashedly forthcoming. The Web site itself informs that RealClearPolitics attempts to counterbalance the common liberal bias of the mainstream press…

    “I’m not really a die-hard Republican because my interests are less on social issues, more on taxing and spending,” explains McIntyre, who used to work for the Chicago Board of Options Exchange and stills does a little trading on the side.


    Posted by: adamsj on October 24, 2004 01:59 PM

    If you want polling aggregation, I recommend going to

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 02:22 PM

    adamj, is not polling aggregation.

    It’s a strategic collection of single-source polls state-by-state polls designed to favor John Kerry, putting on the best face possible and — ridiculously — placing the candidate ahead.

    The “Kerry Edwards” banner at the top of the page is kind of a give-away, even to brain dead liberals.

    Posted by: Mariane Maffeo on October 24, 2004 02:43 PM

    Well, Schlong, ya got me right in the kisser. I wonder if you would speak to me this way if you were right in front of me. I doubt it. You must be the troll they warned me about. I’m going to stop feeding you now.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 03:45 PM

    Schlock Maffeo, do people actually *pay* you to assist them with communications?

    The second sentance on your “business” web page says:

    “With traditional boundaries of time and place removed by instaneous communications and transactions, only boundless opportunity exists as you navigate the information superhighway”

    “instaneous communications” ??? ROFL! ROFL!

    I’m rather carefree here about spelling and grammer (posting in real time via a Nokia cellphone via a home-brewed gateway), so I don’t really care. But isn’t that page supposed to be making an impression on potential clients?

    Consider that “catch” a freebie from a fellow professional not exactly in the same, er, league.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 04:34 PM

    adamj, this might interest you:

    “For months now, I have been looking at your website first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. It’s become an indispensable part of my ‘media day’.”
    – Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics, University of Virginia, on Real Clear Politics.

    If you don’t know who Larry Sabato is, your ignorance of politics and polling is extreme — and well-nigh hopeless, at least during *this* election cycle.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 05:00 PM

    Fans of Thomas P.M. Barnett abound on both sides of the aisle, even though he is largely a partisan Kerry man — until recently deluded that Kerry would implement his vision of a unified “Core” exercising a century of enlightened nation-building in “The Gap”.

    Barnett had figured he was a shoe-in for a senior foreign policy role in the administration.

    I’m afraid he’s been disabused by that notion, and alarmed by the public jockeying for the top foreign policy post between Holbrooke and Biden, two fellows who put demagoguery above any semblance of principal and policy.

    Not one to abide a Kerry campaign flunky making him feel small with even a slightly dismissive tut-tut, Barnett penned a stunningly incisive commentary on:

    Why Kerry is Losing this Election.

    Posted by: adamsj on October 25, 2004 04:28 AM

    I stand by my recommendation of as a polling aggregation site. It’s highly usable, and you can drill down easily into the polls not front-paged. is a clearly partisan site–anyone glancing at it would know that. The site is also partisan, but you have to dig into it to find that out. Where has a Kerry/Edwards banner, has ads. (I suppose to a sufficiently cynical observer that tells you what side it’s on.)

    I give the nod because it deliberately makes its biases clear. The site does not–I decline to speculate as to whether that is deliberate deception.

    P.S. I have a funny story about how my exceptional proofreading of a book edited by Larry Sabato
    cost me a production editing job at the University of Arkansas Press, but it’s best told in person.

    Posted by: on October 25, 2004 07:00 AM

    adamsj continues his raving lunacy. *picks and chooses* among polls, locates those supporting Kerry, and aggregates *those* state-by-state to argue that Kerry is winning.

    Real Clear Politics aggregates and averages the leading poll-takers in the nation, presenting an unweighted straight average of recent polls.

    adamsj does capture the Democrat mentality: presentation of the truth (Kerry is losing) is the very *definition* of bias.

    Is it supposed to surprise me that you were fired from your job for attempting to distort Sabato?

    Posted by: adamsj on October 25, 2004 09:55 AM

    Did anyone hear something? I didn’t hear anything.

    Posted by: on October 27, 2004 10:10 AM

    I guess the Democrats rage is lethal. All of this hate should be treated. To run an entire campaign on hate is sad for the sane people and it’s causing the less-than-sane to act in fits of rage. Psychiatrists must make a fortune on these hateful Dems!


    Posted in Archives | Leave a comment

    Chicago Football Team Defines ‘Selfish’

  • Chicago Tribune: Uproar over Bears receiving flu shots. Though the Bears’ official stance is that all matters of medication and treatment are private, a team official said only those players who might be at risk with “asthma-type conditions” received the vaccine. The rest of the vaccine, he said, was returned to the distributor. But Bears players indicated all of them were given the option of receiving a shot. Less than half of the roughly 60 players received one, which is typical. Some declined on moral grounds.

  • Here’s the Bears’ official denial, couched as a news story on the team’s website.


    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 10:26 PM

    Outrageous fallout of the desperate campaign of John Kerry, who is demagoguing the flu vaccine in a last minute gambit to rescue his losing Presidential campaign.

    Under Kerry’s medical insurance proposals, the government will become the “single reinsurer” of critical care, remaking *EVERY* life and death aspect of health care into a public policy issue, with politicians climbing over one another making medical decisions that should take place between patient and doctor.

    Consider his flu shot demagoguery a taste of what’s to come, if the American people commit the foolhearty hari kari of pulling the lever for the Dr. Kervorkian candidate of health care policy suicide.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 12:42 AM

    Wow query — you seem to have a laughable, if not sad, pathological problem of contorting every single news item, no matter how unrelated, into some kind of anti-Kerry flame. Get a life, dude.

    Posted by: dieKrahe on October 24, 2004 01:29 AM

    The Chicago Bears debunked this story run on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. ‘those players who might be at risk with “asthma-type conditions” received the vaccine.’ resulted in only 2 players receiving the flu shot. According to the Chicago Bears Website, all other players who asked if they should get the flu shot were told No. Granted, they can just be trying to cover their butts on this, but I don’t see them being that selfish, especially with it being an extreme national shortage.

    Here is the address for the Chicago Bears response to the report:
    Just my two cents,

    Posted by: adamsj on October 24, 2004 04:37 AM

    Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the behavior of BearCorp, isn’t it pleasant to hear that several Bears players declined getting shots “on moral grounds”?

    Now, if only people could learn to decline _taking_ shorts on moral grounds.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 06:10 AM

    It is medically responsible behavior that people with respiratory problems receive the vaccine. With intense travel, inability to limit exposure to large sets of people, and physical stress, it would not be unreasonable for all these players to get a vaccine shot.
    I submit we are too hasty to criticize.

    Posted by: Dan Gillmor on October 24, 2004 07:28 AM

    Please don’t feed the troll.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 08:32 AM

    You want to know what selfish is, Dan? Selfish is the millions of retired geriatrics in this country not only using up the limited vaccine when younger people have families that rely on a healthy wage-earner, but demanding that those same at-risk earners pay for the shot via Medicare.

    I have to go out into the workplace five days a week and be exposed to the gamut of hackers, coughers, and wheezers (many of whom pride themselves on how long it’s been since they last took a sick day, but that’s a rant for another time). If I get the flu I can’t work. If I can’t work, I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, I don’t get the medicines I need to hold off the conditions that threaten _my_ life. But because I’m only 35 and my health problems aren’t respiratory, I’m not “at risk” so no shot for Jimmy-me-lad.

    The resentment is particularly strong when coupled with the realization that the precious Free Market has failed again. The inability to manufacture one’s own medicines is an indicator of Third-World status. We rely on foreign manufacturers because it’s not profitable to make flu vaccine here. Why the hell is something so vital as flu vaccine (or anti-tetanus a few years ago) subject to the vagaries of the market? Why the hell doesn’t the government (a/ka/a, my tax dollar) subsidize the manufacture of flu vaccine in in-country laboratories that can be inspected to ensure that its policies and procedures make a safe product?

    By the way, if I die from the flu this year, I’ll miss you guys. Maybe you can put “Wasn’t Selfish” on my headstone.

    Posted by: adamsj on October 24, 2004 01:54 PM


    I’m with you on the failure of the market system to provide flu shots in sufficient numbers. (I’ve seen comment in the mainstream press on the actual motivation of corporations in providing shots to employees–more work, fewer sick days–though no one has commented on the obvious corollary of no shots for contract labor, i.e. Johnnie.) It’s yet another clear failure of the market system.

    By the same token, I don’t regard your ability–or mine, for that matter–to make money as being as important as the ability of an oldster to keep from dying. I sympathize with your medical problems, and deplore the fact that you can’t pay to stay healthy unless you, well, stay healthy. That’s another failure of the market system, and I don’t blame it on the old folks.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 07:18 PM


    I don’t blame the situation on the old-timers; I hope to be one someday. I am angered by the fact that pretty much every single person in the country has the right to use the excuse “I’m at risk because I have to go among other people, some of whom are undoubtedly going to be contagious carriers of some illness or other” yet that carries no weight.

    What I -do- resent, though, is that the “triage” isn’t really being done fairly. Anyone who is old automatically can have a shot if he wants it, whether he has a significant risk of being among sick folks or not. Younger people like me aren’t really being asked whether our risk of contracting the flu is high, just whether we’ve got a respiratory deficiency.

    Oh, well. That’s life as long as my generation doesn’t vote.

    Posted by: adamsj on October 25, 2004 04:16 AM

    Hi, Jim,

    You’ve got a point about triage, but I think you aren’t seeing the other end of it–that older folks, regardless of their likelihood t
    o be exposed, are much more vulnerable to dying from the flu than younger folks like me. My thought is that, given what you say about your health, your GP should be able to get you a shot. That’s also proper triage, and there’s a failure.

    My mom is 87, and has her shot. My dad is 85, and is still waiting for the VA to get him his. My daughter is 16 months old, and we’ve yet to get her shot. Neither my wife nor I have gotten shots, even though we’re around those two very vulnerable individuals. My father has medical history that concerns me–malaria, pneumonia, emphysema–and if the flu does what WWII couldn’t, I’ll be angry.

    Posted in Archives | Leave a comment

    Chip Implants and Mission Creep


    My colleague Mike Langberg is ready to get an ID chip implant, but says we need safeguards to protect us from Big Brother. He’s kidding himself if he believes such safeguards will either be written into law or, if any are, will be obeyed.

    There is no recorded case in which a surveillance technology created for one purpose has not been used for a wide variety of other purposes. Inevitably we see “mission creep” — the expansion of uses to unintended areas.

    I’m in London this weekend, where you can’t walk on the streets very far before you’re under surveillance by this nation’s insidious system of closed-circuit TV cameras. Recently, bureaucrats and policy makers got the idea to use a variant on this idea to enforce a law requiring people to pay extra to drive cars in the city center during busy times, and installed another set of cameras for the purpose. The British are so numbed to their loss of privacy that surveillance is taken for granted, in new and, yes, creepy ways.

    Go ahead, Mike, and get your implant. But don’t believe for a second that it won’t be put to uses you didn’t anticipate, or desire. It will.

    (Updated to reflect corrections in comments.)


    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 02:19 AM

    You’re right that people in cities across the UK are on camera almost constantly, and that this growth in surveillance has happened by stealth over many years with no true public debate.

    But don’t confuse that with congestion charging. This was a radical and politically extremely risky plan promised by Ken Livingstone as part of his successful campaign to become Mayor of London. If you’ve never heard of him, he’s a true left-wing socialist politician; in the 80s he was called “Red Ken” by tabloid newspapers. Since introducing congestion charging he’s been re-elected as Mayor, and traffic in London has reduced a great deal – the goal of the project. (Revenue from the charges is less than expected, because traffic has reduced more than expected.) Many other UK cities are now considering similar schemes to try to reduce pollution and make cities safer for pedestrians.

    The cameras used for congestion charging are not the same CCTV cameras used elsewhere in the city. This isn’t a co-opting of existing technology for new, unwanted purposes. It’s actually a successful use of new technology to try to make London a nicer place to live in – a manifesto promise that was delivered. Not everyone agrees with the scheme, of course, but they tend to disagree on the policy of charging to drive into the city rather than the potential abuse of the technology involved. Overall, in my opinion congestion charging is a net benefit to London and Londoners.

    Of course the congestion charging system may be abused in the future. I don’t have an answer for that; but I know that the wrong answer would be to throw away the system entirely.

    And despite the lack of privacy and orwellian nature of CCTV, it does have useful purposes. Many people do feel safer walking the streets at night; and when crimes occur, there is often a visual record that can be used in court. Personally I don’t like being on camera as I go about my daily business; but I take heart in the knowledge that there is just too much data and too little information in the system. (At the moment.)

    Posted by: Lance Knobel on October 23, 2004 02:29 AM

    As Dave explains in the previous comment, I think you have the London experience the wrong way around. There are of course plenty of cameras — too many, you think — installed for But the cameras erected for the congestion charge were put in precisely for that purpose.

    The congestion charge has been a hugely successful policy, reducing traffic in central London considerably. I am certain that many other cities worldwide will follow London’s lead in implementing road pricing in this way.

    What’s happened is that the congestion charge cameras are also being used when needed for security reasons. And you’re right that the vast majority of people in the UK don’t see this as an important infringement of rights.

    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 04:00 AM

    Interesting how the law states that no one can require you to give out your Social Security Number. However, nothing says that they have to do business if you don’t. Try getting a credit card without giving it out. If we don’t put strict regulations on chip implant technologies, companies will simply refuse to do business with you if you are not implanted.

    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 04:09 AM

    “There is no recorded case in which a surveillance technology created for one purpose has not been used for a wide variety of other purposes.”

    If only Dan Gillmor would apply this thinking to Gun Control. Or restrictions on Freedom of Speech, as sponsored by his fellow travelers in the form of so-called “Campaign Finance Reform”. Or derision on the basis of fundamental Religious Belief, as applied by Dan to Christians of sincere faith, the same mocking as the Nazi’s applied to the Jews of 1930s Germany.

    Dan Gillmor is a hack Leftist extremist. Here, once again, he raises insideous doubts about a new technology that might help defend us against terror. His bizarre — for a purported “tech analyst” — expression of Luddite leanings in this case, so obviously a fraud, is motivated by his sincere hatred of America, and his hope that we surrender in the global war on terror.

    Posted by: adamsj on October 23, 2004 05:16 AM

    Congestion charging is a darn good policy. The market clearly couldn’t make traffic congestion manageable. It’s one more case where libertarian thinking–the true 21st century Luddism–failes.

    Posted by: Dan Gillmor on October 23, 2004 08:53 AM

    Good policy if you don’t care about Big Brother…

    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 08:59 AM

    Chip implants could eventually become compulsory for a wide array of groups; first prisoners, then parolees; then all former prisoners; illegal immigrants who are caught – then all legal immigrants and vistors to the country; babies at birth; and then everyone.

    Posted by: James Salsman on October 23, 2004 09:09 AM

    Someone please ask Mike Langberg if that “16 digit number” is comprised of binary or hexidecimal digits.

    “Your medical request submission failed for the following reasons:

    Your request could not be submitted due to a duplication error: record number 65535 already exists in the database.

    Please correct the error in your implanted chip, then press POST to submit your request.”

    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 09:09 AM

    “Good policy if you don’t care about Big Brother…”

    That’s pointless absolutism. London congestion charging is an interesting case precisely because it requires interests to be balanced. The reduction in congestion in central Lon
    don is a major benefit, delivered after extensive and open political debate. It is hard to see how it could have been achieved without some form of technology-based monitoring of compliance and non-compliance – London’s street patterns and geography would make any simple barrier-based approach impossible.

    So in this case saying ‘any kind of surveillance is always bad’ commits you to saying ‘Londoners should not be allowed to control congestion in their city’.

    Yes of course we should be concerned about civil liberties, and yes there are aspects of practice in the UK and elsewhere which threaten them. But resorting to big brother as the first line of rhetorical defence is just failing to engage with a complicated issue.

    Posted by: lightning on October 23, 2004 10:10 AM

    The rationale for all the surveillence camreas is that they reduce crime. Do they? The British should have enough experience by now to be able to tell.

    From anecdotes I’ve heard, they don’t. There are too many cameras to monitor effectively, the police still take time to respond, and the image quality isn’t good enough to stand up in court.

    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 11:15 AM

    Britain needs to rely on Big Brother strategies like universal surveillance, because its citizens have no right to bear arms.

    Bush has taken a number of steps to re-envigorate the 2nd Amendment, and a second Bush term will bring these efforts to a new level. Gun owners across the nation will see substantially reduced restrictions on their right to own, and to carry, weapons essential to their own (and their family’s) self-defense.

    An armed citizenry, defending itself against crime AND against potential oppression from looney Left gun grabbers, socialists and those who aspire to totalitarian power — basically, the Democrat Party taken collectively — is vital to our liberty. And the Bush Administration understands this.

    There will be no major push for universal surveillance in this country, in the next term of Bush Administration. Under Kerry, it’s a *very* different story. Fewer guns, more government intrusion into our daily lives, and Big Brother focusing on the details of our lives.

    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 02:29 PM

    Guy in England didn’t like the camera across the road from his residence so he dressed up, very effectively, as an alien and went out to water his plants. All very legal.

    But he clearly scared the hell out of the cops who were sent to investigate. Their car just did not want to move forward when they actually caught sight of him/it.

    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 06:49 PM

    One major use of the surveillance cameras, apparently, is to give the guys running the camera room plenty of ‘downblouse’ shots.

    Posted by: on October 24, 2004 12:51 AM

    Dan, When cameras were first put into certain London neighborhoods with high crime rates, crime *decreased* to the tune of up to 85% in some of those neighborhoods. People were for the first time in years ale to feel safe on the streets of some of those neighborhoods.

    London’s deployment of cameras to prevent traffic congestion has worked, and worked fabulously.

    I would like to see more traffic cameras to catch scofflaws who slip through red lights, or fine people for speeding more than 15 miles over speed limits, or fine people for not giving the right of way to pedestrians who are trying to cross a stree in a crosswalk. I’d vote for those measures tomorrow if I could. Sure, some mistakes would be made, but the overall effect would be to get bad behavior on the road under control.

    This is a new world – surveillance is going to be part of it.

    Now on to your concern about Big Brother. Yes, that’s a real concern, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’re right to bring it up. In fact, bringing it up and making as many people aware of the dangers of unsupervised surveillance – including the foward dangers of surveillance – should lead to the protections that we all want (or most of us want) – *if* we’re diligent. We will get the laws we deserve; if we’re not diligent, surveillance will be abused.

    Someone said that Democracy requires “eternal vigilance”. That’s true. It’s also true that times change due to historical and cultural shifts that are non-linear at best.

    I suggest listening to Michael Krasny’s interview with Stephen Flynn (an ex-Coast Guard Commander – the interview was this last Thursday, Oct. 21); FLynn has written a book on how our current Homeland Security systems are misguided.

    In the interview he talks about how security of all kinds can be insinuated into a culture in ways that don’t threaten people. It’s an enlightened interview that addresses many other weaknesses of this administration’s handling of homeland security.

    Here’s the web page – link from there to the stream

    Lastly, world cultures have evolved from small tribal groups and centralized empires to distributed, anonymous systems. The only way we’re ever going to get a grip on the dangers of *malicious* anonymity is to deploy massive surveillance – there is simply no other way around this. Enlightened leadership and careful vetting of the law by citizens and their representatives will help prevent abuse.

    Short of a complete change in the human condition, there are always going to bad people who want to do harm.

    Now that bad people who want to do harm can do more harm than ever before, we are going to have to find a way to ensure members of societies that those bad people are more likely to be found and/or thwarted, rather than not.

    We are going to eventually have to have some forms of meta-surveilance put into law – this WILL happen if Americans are kept aware of the dark side of surveillance (what you’re rightfully pointing out). By meta-surveillance I mean the ability of any citizen to know – in real time – who is doing surveillance on him/her, why, for how long, etc. etc. – with a right to challenge surveillance in open court if it becomes overbearing or misused. This will happen if citizens are permitted input to law through their representatives, and journalists and others keep shining a light on real and potential abuse.

    Tere is no stopping this trend, but there ARE ways to insure that these systems don’t get abused, just as we have (mostly) prevented everyday abuse coming from our law enforcers. It’s not a perfect system, but it does work for the most part – with flaws reported by the press, and society kept open because of that.

    Posted by: adamsj on October 25, 2004 05:38 AM


    When you say, “Good policy if you don’t care about Big Brother…” you confuse means and ends.

    I don’t think you can make a case, consistent with what I, as a reader of yours for the last decade, think you believe, that congestion charging, in and of itself, is anything other than good policy, an end, and a good one. The use of automatic cameras to enforce that policy isn’t something I’m nuts about, but it’s a means, and is independent of the merits of congestion charging.

    Three thoughts on Big Brother:

    1) Much of the power of the Orwellian totalitarian state is in
    its unaccountability. The systems under discussion are under public control, exercised through the government.

    2) The alternative to publicly-controlled surveillance is privately-controlled surveillance, which by its nature in unaccountable except to those who wish to profit from its deployment.

    3) We have to develop new norms and social standards, and law to enforce them, to meet the undeniable existence of surveillance devices which are pervasive and undetectable.

    Special bonus points:

    4) Social liberals who have bought into market democracy are headed for a head-on in their heads.

    5) The war for privacy is not much more winnable than the war on terrorism, if any more at all.

    I’m not nuts about travelling on (for example) Oklahoma highways with my PikePass. I carry it in a static bag, and only take it out to register toll payment. Still, the PikePass is associated with a license plate number, and there is a camera as well as an RF sensor, and there’s nothing physically stopping cross-checks to see whether I travel a lot in rental cars (which I do).

    Posted by: on October 26, 2004 05:56 AM

    I’m looking forward to collecting the RFID tages from rich, but obsecure dead people (or perhaps just outright making them dead before I take them).

    Is this the mission creap you speak of, Dan?

    Posted by: M. Mortazavi on October 26, 2004 09:02 AM

    I’ve also written about it here: . Identity theft issues also come into play: .

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    Music Industry Payola Back Under Microscope

  • NY Times: Record Labels Said to Be Next on Spitzer List for Scrutiny. According to several people involved, investigators in Mr. Spitzer’s office have served subpoenas on the four major record corporations – the Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the EMI Group and the Warner Music Group – seeking copies of contracts, billing records and other information detailing their ties to independent middlemen who pitch new songs to radio programmers in New York State.

  • Eliot Spitzer is the attorney general of New York state. When it comes to cleaning up corporate corruption he’s become far more influential than John Ashcroft, who’s been a lot less active on this front.

    Now it’s the turn of an industry with a long history of sleazy behavior. No one will shed a tear for the record companies, and rightly so.


    Posted by: adamsj on October 23, 2004 05:21 AM

    My gawd, Dan, what a dry sense of humor–“a lot less active”–how drolly understated!

    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 06:59 AM

    Hey Dan, cut Ashcroft a little slack. He’s been busy rewriting the Consitution. As soon as he’s finished you’ll be glad to discover that the new Bill of Rights for the Rich and Multi-Nationals allows payolla.

    Posted by: on October 23, 2004 12:32 PM

    Well, well. If you believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, I suppose you can believe in ending the whole payola thing as well. From what I understand from insiders, it’ll be a cold day in hell before thousands of station managers give up their untaxed cash bonuses.

    Just for the record, (get it? Record Ha ha.) if you have a hit single on a minor label and a lot of payola money to give away, they won’t take it from you anyway because the stations won’t piss off the gravy train from the major labels who are intent to stifle the competition. Even if you had the money you woundn’t get your song played if it’s too good.

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