That is one of the key things I learned in these years, and I learned it the hard way. Anybody who thinks that "it doesn't matter who's President" has never been Drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World — or been beaten and gassed by Police for tresspassing on public property — or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons — or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower. That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.
Why you need to vote:
from Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush by Ron Suskind, New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
from S.3930: Military Commissions Act of 2006 (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate)
(c) Determination of Unlawful Enemy Combatant Status Dispositive- A finding, whether before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense that a person is an unlawful enemy combatant is dispositive for purposes of jurisdiction for trial by military commission under this chapter. — Subchapter 1, General Provisions; Sec. 948d. Jurisdiction of military commissions
(e)(1) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination. — Section 7, Habeas Corpus Matters
(2) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 1005(e) of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (10 U.S.C. 801 note), no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained by the United States and has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination. — Section 7, Habeas Corpus Matters
from PayPal Thinks I'm a Terrorist, George RR Martin, LiveJournal Entry, November 5, 2005
He, at least, gave me some meaningful information. Despite the hokeydoke in the letter about "the decision... has been taken solely by PayPal," the source of my trouble is actually the federal government. The reason my account was locked was because my name has turned up on a list out of the U.S. Treasury Department. Specifically, something called the "Office of Foreign Assets Control."
Why the hell I would be on this list, I have no idea. I have no "foreign assets" that I know of, aside from a long-moribund bank account in Poland from the days before the Berlin Wall went down, when the Poles could only pay you in soft zlotys that you had to go to Poland to spend. Or maybe it's because I have used PayPal to pay for toy soldiers from sellers in Germany, Australia, and the UK, or to accept payment for books from a dozen different foreign countries. Or... if you will allow me a moment of paranoia here... maybe someone in the Treasury Department didn't like some of the political views I've posted here, or my opinions about the TSA and the War on Terror.
from Sen. Kennedy Flagged by No-Fly List by Sara Kehaulani Goo, Washington Post, August 20, 2004
"That a clerical error could lend one of the most powerful people in Washington to the list — it makes one wonder just how many others who are not terrorists are on the list," said Reginald T. Shuford, senior ACLU counsel. "Someone of Senator Kennedy's stature can simply call a friend to have his name removed but a regular American citizen does not have that ability. He had to call three times himself."
A Kennedy aide said the senator nearly missed a couple of flights because of the delays. After the first few incidents, his staff called the Transportation Security Administration, which maintains the no-fly list. But even after those discussions about getting his name removed, the senator was stopped again, according to Kennedy spokesman David Smith. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge finally called to apologize about the mix-up, and the delays stopped in early April, Smith said.
from Branded by James Moore, Huffington Post, January 4, 2006
I have been on the No Fly Watch List for a year. I will never be told the official reason. No one ever is. You cannot sue to get the information. Nothing I have done has moved me any closer to getting off the list. There were 35,000 Americans in that database last year. According to a European government that screens hundreds of thousands of American travelers every year, the list they have been given to work from has since grown to 80,000.
from Passenger Manifests For Commercial Aircraft Arriving in and Departing From the United States; Passenger and Crew Manifests for Commercial Vessels Departing From the United States, Federal Register, Vol. 71, No. 135; July 14, 2006; Proposed Rules
When the initial automated vetting process identifies a match between an individual passenger’s data and data on a terrorist watch list, a close possible match, or an incomplete or inadequate passenger record, CBP would send by electronic return message a "not cleared" instruction to the carrier within minutes of CBP’s receipt of the manifest data (CBP return messages relative to not-cleared instructions based on an inadequate record would based on an inadequate record would also instruct the carrier to retransmit complete/corrected data).
Since boarding usually commences 30 to 45 minutes prior to departure (as defined in this proposed rule), a not-cleared instruction relative to a match or possible match, or an inadequate record, would ensure, in most cases, that the associated passenger will not be allowed to board the aircraft (subject to the occasional instance of (unexpected results due to error, technical anomaly, etc., or a carrier beginning the boarding process outside the 60-minute vetting window.) The manifest transmission requirements under the current regulations — no later than 15 minutes after departure for flights en route to the United States and no later than 15 minutes prior to departure for flights departing from the United States — do not achieve this critical result (even if departure were defined as push-back). An aircraft en route to the United States is already airborne before CBP even receives the manifest. For flights departing from the United States, no manifest information is received by CBP until — at the earliest — 15 minutes, and often 30 minutes or more, after boarding begins (CBP notes that under the current procedure, only a passenger who is a match or possible match would be subject to further vetting).
It appears that Nicholas Scratch has been busy just like I predicted. Even so, I know I'm biting my nails for tomorrow's mid-term Congressional election.