HR 418: Vehr are your papers? Vee half vays of making you talk.

A friend of mine is trying to get me riled up about HR 418, the appalling law passed by the House today that mandates national ID cards and takes us one giant step closer to the controlled utopian society Orwell prophesied in 1984. The law is over the top, and even many on the right say it goes too far (libertarians and gun owners are particularly nervous). More than once I saw policemen in China ask people at random for their ID cards, and I thanked God that could never happen in America. But now, anything can happen. Absolutely anything.

So as I was saying, my friend’s trying to get me riled up and outraged, but the outrage well is totally dry. I’m blogging on empty, with almost no passion or vitriol. How can I be vitriolic? How can I be impassioned? How can I be outraged? If I allowed the horrors of the Age of Bush to outrage me, I’d simply explode in a fireball of rage, with just a dash of despair.

I mean, how many times can I say the once-unthinkable things they’re doing are “unprecedented”? Everything they’re doing is unprecedented. The unprecedence itself is unprecedented. How many times can I call for outrage? How many idiocies do I need to point out? Is there a quota, at which point everyone will join in and see the light? Sadly, no. You can only bludgeon your own head against a wall for so long.

Everyday, every minute I am bombarded with another Bush shocker. Superlatives are used so often to describe them (“worst,” “stupidest,” “most hateful,” “vilest,” “nastiest,” “meanest,” “most outrageous,” “most brazen,” “sickest,” “most grotesque,” etc., etc., etc.) that the words begin to lose meaning. Sometimes it seems everything he does is the most grotesque thing ever done. There is never a respite. The hardballs keep flying out at us. And now it seems the only way to keep one’s sanity is to duck and cover.

I watched him again last week in response to a question about why we were killing and dying in Iraq, and again he replied with the tritest and most meaningless cliche, something like, “The world is a safer place without Saddam Hussein….” No explanation of how or why that is, no measurement, no evidence of Saddam’s danger to the world. Just a hot-air assertion from a mentally deficient shrub. And for that, so many had to give up their lives. Is there anything there aside from hollow platitudes? “The world is safer….” (Are our 1400 dead soldiers and scores of thousands of dead Iraqis safer now than when Saddam was in power? He was an evil bastard, but Baghdad was way safer when he was in power.) As I listened to him, I wondered, how did we get to the point where we let the King of the World get away with this shit? I mean, that awful liberal media used to put Clinton’s every word under the microscope, just like his DNA; the cable TV stations became all Monica all the time for months. Here the levels of the crimes are so immense, so much blood is being spilled, so many laws are being mangled, so many freedoms being tidily disposed of, so many voices silenced and so many rich and corrupt parasites being rewarded with mind-boggling gifts while Bush chips away at healthcare for the poor…. And this is the man through whom Jesus himself speaketh.

Well, I said I wouldn’t get riled up, and the truth is, I’m not. I’m resigned. Pissed, but no longer furious, no longer bursting with rage and demanding of justice. I feel if America can simply survive the Bush years it will be a great victory. There’s no hope of stopping the Bush machine. They have tied things up too nicely, and we are now on the verge of true authoritarian one-party rule, even if most people don’t recognize it as such. Only one thing can bring down George W. Bush, and that’s George W. Bush. I’m going to hope that between Social Security and his fire bombing of the US economy he’ll bring himself down before long, if we’re lucky.

I think that’s enough for now. Let me conclude by saying it’s a miserable time in America, and it’s just starting. America now exists for corporations and the fat cats who sit on their boards, and all they live for is to fire as many of us workers as possible. Globalization, the lean and mean world of competition. It may make the corporation very rich, but is that all that companies exist for? Didn’t they used to also be about people and contribution to society and a sense of commitment to those who make the company work?

What’s gotten into me? That’s girly-man talk. I’d better quit here before I ramble on into a whole new direction and generate even more boredom.

The Discussion: 39 Comments

Rep. Paul drives me nuts, but g-d is he ever right this time. I remember when most Republicans used to make these arguments, when we were in the realm of possibility of getting national healthcare ID cards. But oh, it’s a new administration now. And it’s about our *safety*.

I’m fired up. Nobody else seems to care, but I will.

February 14, 2005 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

it’s a new administration now. And it’s about our *safety*

When Hitler started arresting Communists and Jews in 1933, he said he was putting them in “protective custody.” It’s all for ze good of ze people.

February 14, 2005 @ 4:52 pm | Comment

Thank you Richard, this is why I love this blog.

February 14, 2005 @ 5:23 pm | Comment

I still have sufficient faith in the US system of checks and balances that I believe that any proposal for national identity cards will ultimately fail. Time will tell of course. Let’s just hope I’m right anyway.

February 14, 2005 @ 6:19 pm | Comment

just to get you a little more worried ๐Ÿ™‚

http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/sub/asia/story/0,5562,300935,00.html?

quote “The FBI has added hundreds of counter-intelligence agents and put at least one in every US Energy Department research facility, Time said.

It has also begun cooperation initiatives with corporations and considers universities as a soft spot as there are some 150,000 Chinese studying in the US, ..”

to counter this chinese threat, FBI will have agents placed in all major corporations and government departments… for the sake of national security.

“land of the free”? maybe not for much longer.

February 14, 2005 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

Salmon, Mars bars, paper towels, washing machines that use hot water, quarters, pepperoni, mining safety, maps and magazines in English, Breyer’s, Dijon mustard, socks that fit, USDA inspected food, waitpersons required to wash hands with hot water after using restroom, Tropicana, prime rib, Koo Koo Roo, sensimilla, baseball, real broadband, friends, family, not being a foreigner, no net blockage, Vanity Fair, all the news and Lackawanna Blues

February 14, 2005 @ 7:33 pm | Comment

“FBI will have agents placed in all major corporations and government departments”

AND universities are considered hotspots, though the article did not mention FBI actually putting agents in educational insitutions. agents to report on students and teachers? never! perish the thought, not likely to happen in the USA… hmm anyone got a spare brownshirt?

February 14, 2005 @ 7:59 pm | Comment

I miss koo koo roo too, but Boston Market here is not bad either. And I miss the warm and sunny weather in LA also. This winter, we had two straight months with no sunshine at all, 1 degree Fahrenheit outdoor and the sun was setting at 3:30 in the afternoon. People were committing suicide or homicide. It was surreal to eyewitness a bank robbery right in front of you. And last night, we went to a Thai restaurant to eat, during the meal, a man killed himself right next to the restaurant in a busy street.

February 14, 2005 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

Folks,

Please understand that Ellen may be my wife, but she does NOT speak for me. She would trade liberty for trifles. With her ethnic background one would think she would know better.

I am embarrassed by her sentiments, to say the very least.

Joseph

February 14, 2005 @ 8:30 pm | Comment

Joesph, would your wife trade liberty for Mars Bars? It’s a close call.

February 14, 2005 @ 10:19 pm | Comment

Joseph

Maybe Ellen was just listing the highly valued, high tech stuff that the chinese spies are trying to steal.

February 14, 2005 @ 10:59 pm | Comment

Richard,

These are certainly high times for the Bushites. An incredible 94% of his party has his back, he has all three branches in his pocket and the press.

But 7.000 lost thier jobs today at MCI…

And 80-odd lost their lives in Iraq, 4 American among them…

And the economy is set up to reward the weathy and fuck the rest…

I feel you pain. You’ll be back.

But if we change 28 House seats in 2006….

I’m old enough to remember Nixon. He was sitting pretty too.

These people are criminals. A swing of 28 House seats would put them on trial.

So who’s the weakest Republican in Arizona? Who crossed the line most or worse on hisorher rise from Alderman to the higher office? We have two years, and Howard fucking Dean with his hand on the money. You think Saros isn’t good for another 18 million?

Imagine a well financed campaign of truth in a third of the the Republican held seats in this country starting six months from now, focusing on Social Security. On Iraq. On local losses to the VA, local policing, Head Start, and on and on…

We were 48% of the vote.

So catch your breath. You’re needed.

February 15, 2005 @ 12:54 am | Comment

Maybe Iโ€™m just being an ignorant foreigner, but I thought that the US already had ID cards. How do liquor stores and night clubs check peopleโ€™s ages without ID cards?

I have to carry around a thick wedge of โ€œIDโ€ cards every day. If I want to go to the bank I need an โ€œIDโ€ with my account details on it, if I want to go to the gym I need an โ€œIDโ€ card with my gym membership number on it, if I want to get into an restricted area at where mere civilians arenโ€™t allowed I need an โ€œIDโ€ card, and I donโ€™t even want to start telling you what kind of information those kind of cards have on them.

We all carry around about 10 different forms of ID every day and some of them have a lot more intrusive information on them than most government ID cards would carry; Iโ€™m not sure why people are worried by this. Itโ€™s not as if the government need to be certain what your name really is to detain you under anti terrorism laws.

Government IDs are just blockbuster membership cards with photographs on them. The only difference is that the government canโ€™t sell your data to a telemarketing company but a video club can.

Iโ€™m glad that Iโ€™m not American if there is this much fear of what the government might or might not know about you in America.

Spare a thought for me while you talk about the liberty and freedom that you think you would loose if ID cards were brought in in the States, my country still has US bases in it left over from WWII and the cold war. If I walked around somewhere that I wasnโ€™t supposed to be, I could be asked to identify myself to YOUR government.

February 15, 2005 @ 1:40 am | Comment

Maybe Iโ€™m just being an ignorant foreigner, but I thought that the US already had ID cards. How do liquor stores and night clubs check peopleโ€™s ages without ID cards?

I have to carry around a thick wedge of โ€œIDโ€ cards every day. If I want to go to the bank I need an โ€œIDโ€ with my account details on it, if I want to go to the gym I need an โ€œIDโ€ card with my gym membership number on it, if I want to get into an restricted area at where mere civilians arenโ€™t allowed I need an โ€œIDโ€ card, and I donโ€™t even want to start telling you what kind of information those kind of cards have on them.

We all carry around about 10 different forms of ID every day and some of them have a lot more intrusive information on them than most government ID cards would carry; Iโ€™m not sure why people are worried by this. Itโ€™s not as if the government need to be certain what your name really is to detain you under anti terrorism laws.

Government IDs are just blockbuster membership cards with photographs on them. The only difference is that the government canโ€™t sell your data to a telemarketing company but a video club can.

Iโ€™m glad that Iโ€™m not American if there is this much fear of what the government might or might not know about you in America.

Spare a thought for me while you talk about the liberty and freedom that you think you would loose if ID cards were brought in in the States, my country still has US bases in it left over from WWII and the cold war. If I walked around somewhere that I wasnโ€™t supposed to be, I could be asked to identify myself to YOUR government.

February 15, 2005 @ 1:42 am | Comment

It was refreshing to watch Bill Maher on Larry King last night. He is like the only famous liberal/libertarian willing to speak the truth against Bush in public. Why are people so afraid to speak out against Republicans on TV anymore??? Thank goodness that Larry King is still around, it’s becoming dreadful to watch Wolf Blitzer, Paula Zahn, David Kurst…etc appeasing to the GOP all the time on CNN.

February 15, 2005 @ 1:45 am | Comment

ACB, State ID vs national ID

February 15, 2005 @ 1:47 am | Comment

Cheers JR

I get that the US has state and federal systems, but why are people OK with state IDs but not with Federal IDs?

February 15, 2005 @ 4:04 am | Comment

ACB:
It is what the ID can be used for that scares Americans.
Right now, the most standard ID is a driver’s license, which has a picture and a number. You can use it to prove your age at a bar. People may also have passports, library cards, social security cards (just a piece of paper with a name and a number), and so on.
None of this means anything. You wave the card at whomever and nothing really happens (except for about 100,000 people who are banned from taking airplanes by Homeland Security because their names are similar to those on a terrorist watchlist).

A universal national ID is just as pointless but for the fact that it can be used to tie everything (including credit card usage, supermarket purchase, speeding tickets, gun licenses, etc) into a single database. And there have been a number of test database mining projects going by the names of CAPPS, CAPPS II, the Matrix, TIA (for Total Information Awareness) that makes predictive models from these types of test databases collected special effort.

For example, the next time that you check in for your plane, you could be barred from flying because you checked out a copy of The Koran from the library 5 years ago since 9/11 leader Mohammed Atta read that book too, and you have a high predicted probability of being a terrorist. They can’t throw you in jail, but they can bar you from flying for national security reasons. So you’re just going to take a three-day train ride to go from New York to Los Angeles.

Are these predictive models any good? Commercial projects along those lines have terrible misclassifications rates. But Homeland Security doesn’t have to prove to you that it works well, because the results are classified national secrets.

The general idea is this: if a national ID comes into existence, the government will be able to build a mega-database with which they can restrict civil liberties using data reasoning that do not need to be disclosed on grounds of national security. This is what scares civil libertarians.

February 15, 2005 @ 5:47 am | Comment

ACB:

This is what people are afraid of.

But ya know, all we patriotic Americans have to do, is remind our fellow Homelanders that requiring all citizens to carry federal ID cards is a European idea — most European countries require their citizens to do so (most recently the Netherlands, as of January 1 of this year).

The proposal will promptly vanish into thin air — because of course Europe is always wrong about everything, all the time.

February 15, 2005 @ 11:53 am | Comment

In truth that universal database is well on its way already, not from the government but by private data companies – Lexis/Nexis & ChoicePoint for example – who are now being hired by the government to provide their information for “homeland security purposes.” A WaPo reporter, Robert Harrow, has just published a book about this.

February 15, 2005 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

the book is called “No Place to Hide” for those interested.

February 15, 2005 @ 12:42 pm | Comment

ACB, I don’t want my social security number shared with Mexico. The U.S. has strict privacy laws that mandate high security for any personal information that’s stored on a computer. Other countries do not.

February 15, 2005 @ 4:55 pm | Comment

Mexico??

You’ve lost me on this one.

Vaara.

Europeans have ID cards, yes, but most Europeans also have passports that carry the same type of information. Europe also has more land borders. America has two, and one of them is Canada.

February 15, 2005 @ 6:23 pm | Comment

ESNW

If you think that the government could possibly tie all of your personal data together, then youโ€™re severally overestimating it.

It would take years just to load all of that data into a system, each type of record would be stored differently and across disparate systems, and would have to be checked for accuracy and kept up to date. Just getting people to draw up the specifications and agree on what data would need to be held would be a nightmare.

It would require billions of dollars and by the time that it was finished it would be obsolete, it would take at least ten years to do.

The amount of computer storage and power needed would also be colossal. 250 million people, say fifty text based fields per person at a minimum plus a high definition digital photograph, allow 2MB+ of data per person, then link the system to credit and library system, state authorities, the CIA, NSA, FBI, Coastguard, Border Guard, ATF etc, databases, then add in remote access through a secure network. Itโ€™s impossible.

Youโ€™re confusing a federal government ID database with the Starfleet central computer, it canโ€™t be done.

The FBI couldnโ€™t manage to put together an intelligence database to link state wide records from different agencies, and that was a much simpler task. No computer system in the world could do what youโ€™re saying.

February 15, 2005 @ 6:43 pm | Comment

I donโ€™t understand why people in America are so afraid of anything that they see as a restriction of their liberties. People are calling privileges like gun ownership rights and are scared that the government knows the credit limit on their platinum card.

For example, everybody seems to mention gun licenses, why donโ€™t gun owners want the government to know how many guns they have? What do they think that the government going to do with this information? I simply donโ€™t get it.

I lived in the UK for several years (It was cold, wet, and โ€ฆ well what else can you say about it). If people there want to own a rifle for use on a farm, they not only need to register it with the local police, who are linked by a national computer system, but the police can come round to a gun owners home and inspect the cabinet that the gun is stored in to make sure that it is childproof etc. Every legal gun owner in the country is registered and the government not only has their names and addresses, but also the model, production date and serial numbers of every legal gun in private ownership. Did people complain that this is a restriction of their civil liberties, NO, they campaigned for tighter gun control and after ONE school shooting they banned all handguns and further tightened regulations on who can own a gun.

People in the US like to think that they have more freedoms than everybody else, but in reality many of these freedoms come back to bite them, like the right to free speech meaning that people can surf pornographic website in public libraries and the right to free expression allows white supremacists to hold โ€˜blacks go homeโ€™ marches. Sure.

You might look at me and say that I have less freedom than you, but I think that I feel a lot freer because nobody is trying to make a lawsuit out of my basic rights or tell me that somebody is going to take away my freedom, and I certainly feel a lot safer than you do because I know that the restrictions that have been put on my freedom mean that nobody can racially abuse me and then claim first amendment protection, and nobody can pull a revolver on me during a minor disagreement because we don’t have the right to own handguns.

If this database had prevented 9/11 you would all be cheering it as a demonstration of democracy protecting the live of the innocent.

February 15, 2005 @ 7:08 pm | Comment

About the technical problems:

First, it is not necessary to have everything online. Someone will pull everything together and run some predictive model that requires only the answers to several data items, just like the credit scoring models:

For example, the current airline screening question might be: Did the passenger buy a one-way ticket with cash? And they don’t care if the passenger is a 95-year-old lady in a wheelchair.

So someday you check in at the airlines and the questions might be:
1. Is your reported household income above US$100,000 per year (via static IRS database from last year)?
2. How many times have you traveled in the last 12 months (via airline customer database)?
3. Does your last name end in a vowel?
4. Are you paying in cash?

And a score will be assigned. Sure, this scheme will shut out Mohammed Atta, but also a few million other non-affluent people with the wrong last name.

Second, you can go to ChoicePoint or any number of other commercial suppliers to get data right now. I use Acxiom and their database contains 114 million households right now. I have ordered data on myself, and I know the following:
1. they are dead right on my exact age (from driver’s license record), and they know my height, eye color and glasses from the same source.
2. they know that I own my apartment which has no outstanding mortgage; they have a fair value for its worth.
3. they know how many years i have lived there (through the telephone book listings)
4. they know my party affiliation (Democrat)

but they are dead wrong about a female person named ‘Iris’ living with me.

So technically, they have integrated a number of huge pubicly available databases. Right now, the data are not perfect because of the lack of a national ID to link the pieces. If I want to open a bank account, I have to provide a social security number for tax reasons; if I want to buy a plane ticket, a credit card number is enough. They will have to guess whether this John Smith is that John Smith, and they end up making many false positives and false negatives.

But it is easier than you think.

February 15, 2005 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

will i feel better if the super database prevents a 9/11 event? of course, i will.

unfortunately, it is unprovable.

suppose in year 2000, they had the prescience to ban all passengers who want to pay cash for plane tickets. and then 9/11 did not happen in 2001 as a result. how will you know that you have done a great deed? you couldn’t know that 9/11 would have happened.

moving forward to the future, if the super database were implemented and nothing like 9/11 happens for the next 10 years.

can they claim credit for having an effective homeland security system? or can you entertain the possibility that Al Qaeda did not try anything during this period because their objective was just to make Americans live in fear and distrust?

in the meantime, what you do know is that millions of people were stopped from flying, accepting government jobs, or attending public events on account of what some secret predictive models say about them. and the history so far is that there is no recourse because the government will hide behind a claim of national secrets.

February 15, 2005 @ 8:08 pm | Comment

ACB, I know where you’re coming from, but listen to ESWN. He’s right in this instance.

February 15, 2005 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

and I’m saying, it’s really already just about here, thanks to private data-mining. I’ll provide the WaPo article by the fellow who wrote the book I mentioned, if anyone is interested…

February 15, 2005 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

I’m listening, I’m just making him explain himself. I hate it when people make statements and don’t back them up.

I wasn’t going to let him get away with saying “because it is”.

I also know that the US government recently disclosed that they built a much smaller system to link up local and federal law enforcement systems or something similar, and that it flopped dramatically.

February 15, 2005 @ 11:51 pm | Comment

Iโ€™m glad that Iโ€™m not American if there is this much fear of what the government might or might not know about you in America.

Oh, there’s not, ACB; I think Richard is just trying to froth himself up into blogging mode again. It’s more like the gun control thing. People don’t want to shoot, they just want to feel they have the right without the snooping. And a national ID card just feels a little like letting Uncle Sam keep his hand permanently down your pants. By the way, where ARE you from?

Why are people so afraid to speak out against Republicans on TV anymore???

What? Did I miss the funerals for Janeane Garafolo, Tim Robbins, Barbra Streisand, that Vanity Fair interviewee from last week, et al?

Ellen!
Salmon, Mars bars, paper towels, washing machines that use hot water, quarters, pepperoni, mining safety, maps and magazines in English

Whew! Was it good for you, too? Next time I want to hear you say “Chicago Pizza and Tex-Mex,” OK?
——-
Anyway, if they go for the national ID, I’m gonna hire a lobbyist. I’ve got a line on under-the-skin implantable RF ID chips, slightly improved from the ones they’re already using on cattle. You can read the whole shittaree from 20 feet away with a little antenna. Made in China. 280 million of them at $.50 each ought to make a nice retirement. The best reason yet for stocking up on tinfoil fashion wear.

February 15, 2005 @ 11:58 pm | Comment

Sam: Thanks for the invitation.

Chigago Pizza, N.Y. Pizza, Tex Mex, toilets, raisinettes, TV Guide I can read, cold cuts, pens and batteries that last more than a half hour, instant decaf, ziplock bags, sweaters in my colors, cartons for sodas and Thomas Guides (a Calif. thing).

However, I was thinking, too, of some things I can’t get at home and how much I’ll miss them upon returning home:

Peking Duck any time, lucsious inexpensive sweaters even though I’m tired of pink, red and black already, cheap fresh vegetables every day, those big grey birds with blue and black markings, everything red all around me, night markets, “wish you happy every day,” “have you eaten,” lidded hearty painted ceramic bowls with which I can cook on the stovetop, Ni Hao, yao shenme, the peculiar arrangement of calendars and A4 paper.

I wouldn’t trade anything for the liberties to which I’m accusomed and that was not my point. I just wanted Rich to relax and count blessings so he could calm down. I know he got it and glad you did too.

Americans will fight encrachment, I have faith in that. I feel negligent in being out of the fray. Privacy has long gone, as ESWN pointed out and the co-opter was not government, but business. I agree, emphatically, that there needs to be more oversight of passports and visas and understand that with this comes some inconvenience, but that’s the times we live in. When bank statements computerized, there were errors. When identities are stolen, it’s a major crisis. But we shouldn’t reject the baby with the bathwater. The price of liberty is vigilance and a lot of it is going to be required in the next few years.

Hope all is well with you in Shenzen.

February 16, 2005 @ 12:37 am | Comment

Yah, OK, but I sprained my back or slipped a disc or something and spent the whole damn holiday just laying around (not a totally bad arrangement).

Remember that Jefferson Airplane song with the haunting line; “Let’s not tell ’em about him” ? I seriously considered “forgetting” to get SS numbers for my babies, because of the privacy/ID issue, but I just couldn’t justify the inevitable practical hassles that would cause them. This was almost 30 years ago. Now they’re pillars of the community, natch, and they would think of such a move as being utterly nuts.

February 16, 2005 @ 1:46 am | Comment

ACB:
for references on the subject, you can go to the ESWN blog and enter keywords such as “Choicepoint” or “CAPPS” or “DATA MINING” and there should be dozens of links to the most important developments over the past two years.

the theme is not so much the idea, but the sheer incompetence and illegality of what has been done so far (e.g. the John Poindexter project).

the go-to person on this subject is “Ryan Siegel” whose work can be found at Wired Magazine. he has a blog called “Secondary Screening’ which is listed in the ESWN blog roll.

February 16, 2005 @ 2:23 am | Comment

Sam, it’s true, I am “frothing” to get myself blogging on domestic issues again — BUT that doesn’t mean I’m not sincere.

I really do find it a grim time in America, mainly for solid economic reasons. We’re in a hole where good jobs are vanishing, wages are stagnant or worsening, benefits of all kinds are threatened and the looming multi-trillion-dollar deficits that with which our leader is going to leave us offer precious little light at the tunnel’s end.

I promise, it’s not just me. Most of my friends and colleagues feel they’re lucky just to have a job, but we have all downsized our aspirations. It’s not about seeing dreams fulfilled, but simply getting by. Of course we still have our Mars bars and our conveniences, and it’s still a good place to live. But honestly, driving home from work and hearing the daily news each night makes a liberal like me literally apoplectic. Hearing about the black hole of Iraq, the never-ending misrepresentations about Social Security, the right’s demagogic dismissal of all things liberal, the increasing power of Evangelicals who would ban evolution and critical thought, the censorship in the media for fear of fines, the consolidation and elimination of traditional businesses to make way for more WalMarts, the hopeless lack of state and local funds to provide basic services because of tax cuts and a never-ending war on terror, the constant and unending inculcation of the terror meme — we are at war, we are in danger, we are at risk, we are not safe, we must accept drastic change so Bush can protect us — the transformation of our government into a political machine where dissent is barely tolerated…. Well, it shouldn’t be too hard to see why a person who’s very tuned into politics and who was raised with the belief that liberalism is a good and healthy thing and that when we stop thinking for ourselves we are asking for catastrophe — it’s easy for this kind of person to get depressed in the Age of Bush. The sun’s still in the sky, I still have my swimming pool and my cats and my friends. But there is a new element in the lives of liberals, a dull, throbbing ache that’s always there as we wonder if we’ll ever get our country back. In all previous crises, there was alwyas a sense of hope. That’s simply not the case now, and I am resigned to years of chronic grief as I watch my country go to hell in a handbasket.

February 16, 2005 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

Sam–sure do remember that song. Grace and Paul were friends at the time and neighbors. And I considered it too–but like you, came to my senses, what little of them I had left. What Sam’s referring to is a song that had a hippie couple considering not getting a birth certificate or social security number for their child so “the man” would never know anything about him.

February 16, 2005 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

From SALON today…

A front page story in today’s Los Angeles Times reports that a fraud ring has hacked into a private data-mining company’s computers and stolen the Social Security numbers and other private information for tens of thousands of people.

The victimized company, Choice Point, is one of the country’s largest data-mining firms — and has been marketing the information gathered for commercial purposes to the federal government to help it monitor the lives of Americans in the fight against terrorism. Choice Point’s activities are documented in the recently published book, “No Place to Hide,” by Washington Post technology correspondent Robert O’Harrow. The cyber attack against Choice Point comes at a time when the White House is gearing up to renew and possibly expand the USA Patriot Act, and law enforcement is moving forward in its use of outsourcing to private contractors to collect personal information on those under surveillance.

In collaboration with O’Harrow, the Center for Investigative Reporting recently completed a multimedia investigation into ChoicePoint and other companies now providing such information to the U.S. government. For a more in-depth look at Choice Point and its activities, read O’Harrow’s late-January profile in the Post here.

February 16, 2005 @ 5:07 pm | Comment

I saw it Lisa, and this is going to be one huge story, let me tell you. ChoicePoint must be on the verge of cardiac arrest, and for damned good reason.

February 16, 2005 @ 5:42 pm | Comment

Yeah…I’m approaching my mailbox with dread.

February 16, 2005 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

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