Today's Blogs


Bloggers are largely opposed to the new Congress-sanctioned expansion of warrantless wiretaps. They also mull over the real identity of “Fake Steve Jobs,” and wonder if Hello Kitty really scandalizes wayward cops in Thailand.

NSA-OK: President Bush has signed a law broadening the scope of federal warrantless wiretaps by allowing electronic surveillance of targets believed to be overseas, even if they are talking to someone in the United States. The legislation codifies the controversial NSA program started after 9/11 to cut through the red tape on tapping suspected terrorists’ phone lines. Civil libertarians aren’t buying any of it.

Brian Faughnan at the conservative Weekly Standard’s Worldwide Standard argues that the congressional Democratic leadership is trying to have it both ways by passing the amendment and then vowing to fix it later: “It’s essential that the president have the requisite tools to conduct surveillance on terrorists plotting to harm Americans and American interests. It’s therefore heartening to recognize that Congressional leaders again lacked the courage of their convictions in opposition to the program. That said, Speaker Pelosi will have to do better to try to convince her base that she’s going to ‘fix’ the program whose passage she just expedited.”

Dark Logistics, an anti-Bush blog, pooh-poohs the provision that the government can eavesdrop only on targets outside of the United States: “The unfortunate truth is that the bill itself makes it clear that the government need supply no proof of compliance with this caveat and is expected to act of it’s own accord and use ‘reasonable’ judgment. Anyone feel better knowing that?” Noting that the original FISA court was set up in the 1970s in response to abuse of surveillance powers by the federal government, Pam Pohly at liberal group blog Everyday Citizen complains that the new law “not only restores unfettered internal spying freedoms to the President and his huge spying apparatus, but it allows him to go further and wider in watching and spying on Americans than Tricky Dick Nixon ever could have imagined.”

Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy has a useful précis of the FISA amendment, and though he has his civil libertarian reservations about it, he “[agrees] with the idea that if someone is outside the United States, FISA should not regulate the monitoring of their communications. Intelligence agencies have long been able to monitor such calls from listening posts outside the U.S. without triggering FISA (think Echelon); this legislation makes the same rule apply regardless of where the communication is routed.”

Read more about the FISA amendment, and discuss  it in the Fray. Elsewhere in Slate, Patrick Radden Keefe says the congressional Democrats were spineless, and Dahlia Lithwick wonders  why the heck those same Democrats want to fire Gonzales on the one hand and give him expanded powers on another.

Book of Jobs: The popular blogger who channeled the self-aggrandizing identity of Apple founder Steve Jobs has been revealed by the New YorkTimes as Forbes senior editor and novelist Daniel Lyons. The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs calls AT&T store employees “frigtards,” projects a $160 per share stock price for Apple, and is said to have been read by both the real Jobs as well as longtime Apple antagonist Bill Gates.

Lyons himself cops to his outing at The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs: “Well, tip of the hat to you, Brad Stone. You did the sleuthing. You put the pieces of the puzzle together. You went through my trash, hacked into my computer, and put listening devices in my home…One bright side is that at least I was busted by the Times and not Valleywag. I really, really enjoyed seeing those guys keep guessing wrong. For six months Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth put their big brains together and couldn’t come up with the answer. Guy from the Times did it in a week.”

Anil Dash, vice president of Six Apart—a major blogging software company—confesses: “My initial temptation was to mark Lyons as a hypocrite,” given that Lyons wrote a Forbes cover story in 2005 called “Attack of the Blogs,” which argued that the medium was the playground of an “online lynch mob” trafficking in lies and misinformation. “Upon reflection, it seems there’s a more profound lesson: The benefits of blogging for one’s career or business are so profound that they were even able to persuade a dedicated detractor.”

Shawn King, the host/executive producer of Your Mac Life, e-mails into TidBITS:  “FSJ was channeling what we *thought* we knew about Jobs. I’ve been speaking with Lyons for several months (yes, I knew who he was but didn’t spill the beans) and during several of our telephone questions, he asked me if he had ‘captured’ Jobs (he’s only been involved in the Mac Community for a couple of years and is unsure of where ‘the bodies are buried’). I always told him, ‘It doesn’t matter. You’ve captured the Steve Jobs we *think* we know.’ “

Read more about Fake Steve Jobs.

Bad Kitty: Bangkok has taken to punishing its delinquent police officers by making them wear a pink Hello Kitty armband for a few days.  It’s pink, see, and also silly, so the Thai John Q. Law is sure to show up on time now.

The poor guy living with “cute overload” at Hello Kitty Hell writes: “Living in Hello Kitty Hell and knowing what it feels like to walk around with Hello Kitty, I have a feeling that this project will either be a great success or the Thai government will be overthrown in protest - with the edge going toward a complete government overthrow. Of course, my wife doesn’t see it quite the same way. ‘If all police officers wore Hello Kitty armbands, the public would love and respect them a lot more. The Hello Kitty armband should be a part of every police uniform,’ “

And Eric Stepp at TPM Café wants to the broaden the penalty: “Heck, let’s broaden the spectrum of who gets these armbands of shame. President’s approval rating hits below 35%? Give him an armband. The Attorney General obfuscates during a Congressional committee hearing? Give him an armband. A major presidential candidate flip-flops? Give him an armband.”

Read more about Hello Kitty armbands.