287(g) public hearing

Tonight my first radio segment for Hudson Mohawk Magazine aired on WOOC 105.3 FM in Troy, NY. To provide some context on the public hearing, maybe I’ll just post the lead in script I provided for the hosts.

At Wednesday night’s Public Forum at the County Legislature, Troy residents Nora McDowell and Alexander Ferrer (FER-ERR) spoke out against the proposed 287(g) funding application that Sheriff Patrick Russo has sought from the Department of Homeland Security. Under the arrangement, Rensselaer County would be the first in New York State to collaborate with federal ICE agents. After the forum, WOOC reporter Dan Phiffer (FIE-FUR) spoke to County Legislator Peter Grimm.

You can also read more on no287g.com, a small website I created for the (cancelled) protest.

MP3 download

Learning from Alabama

I called into this morning’s Brian Lehrer show. I am “Dan from up in Troy” and I have a cold, so I probably sounded terrible. My question was inspired by this Twitter thread describing tactics the Mobile County NAACP (and other groups) used in the AL Senate special election. I think there’s a lot to learn here for turning out votes in the 2018 Midterm Elections.

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How gerrymandered is a district?

Michal Migurski is working on a project for measuring legislative gerrymandering. Redistricting shenanigans can be detected from current, historical, and proposed legislative districts.

PlanScore is doing two things to address partisan gerrymandering.

We are creating score pages for district plans to provide instant, real-time analysis of a plan’s fairness. Each district plan will be evaluated for its population, demographic, partisan, and geometric character in a single place, with backing methodology and data provided so you can understand the number. We’ll publish historical scores back to the 1970s for context, current scores of proposed plans for voters and journalists, and dynamic scores of new plans for legislative staff who are designing tomorrow’s plans.

We are also assembling a collection of underlying electoral data from sources like Open Elections, elections-geodata, and other parallel efforts. Our goal is to provide valid scores for new plans in any state. As we await the outcomes of gerrymandering challenges in Wisconsin and North Carolina, voters and legislative staff in other states are wondering how to apply new ideas to their own plans. In 2020, everyone will have to redraw their maps. PlanScore will be a one-stop shop for district plan analysis.

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We will fight you and you will lose

Here are my responses to Donald Trump’s media accountability survey, which I’ve taken at face value. Yes, the questions are extremely one-sided, but they do allow for “other” responses.

Just to be clear, I certainly don’t advocate for participating in the survey. The research methodology here is dubious, to say the least. I hope I haven’t contributed to legitimizing it as anything but the propaganda that it is.

Read more →

Surveillance and inaction

NYPD skywatch tower
Photo: Life under occupation by Barry Hoggard

I am awash in thoughts and feelings this week. Donald J. Trump will very likely be our next President. This fact has already emboldened hate groups, leaving us to contemplate what the next four years could mean—especially for friends who will likely become targets of bigotry.

Should we go outside and protest? Should we turn inward and lean on our support networks? Do we start thinking about the 2018 midterms? Yes. Yes to all of it. If you need time away from this divisive election, you’ll be welcome to join us when you’re ready. I completely understand, especially if you worked on a 2016 political campaign.

For my part, I am regrouping, considering how I can do more, do better. Some friends have asked me about strategies for resisting surveillance. Digital privacy will become even more important in the coming years, and we should all collectively get better at protecting ourselves.

A very short answer is: switch your texting over to Signal, use a password manager. Start today.

Read more →

The story of #RenunciaYa

The most recent episode of Reply All is a fantastic antidote to recent developments in U.S. politics.

Download MP3

I challenge you to listen to this and feel cynical about politics and activism!

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The Great Big Adam Curtis Binge-Watch

A comprehensive list of all of Adam Curtis’s documentaries, conveniently linked in one long list. There are a few I didn’t realize I hadn’t seen. I’ve heard that some of the videos include advertising breaks, so you may want to seek out alternate versions for those ones.

See also: that time I called into WFMU and asked Adam Curtis if he thought his use of imagery was manipulative (around 50 minutes in)

Link via Kevin Slavin

The brutal ratio

New York magazine’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells identifies the key political fact that has emerged from the Intercept’s Drone Papers:

One question—maybe the most pressing question—is how the public feels about that brutal ratio of one targeted death to five or six unintended. The evidence so far is that the public is more or less okay with it.

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“This is something we should politicize”

President Obama’s speech is worth watching in its entirety. Starts at 23:18.

We are not the only country on earth that has people with mental illnesses, or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on earth that sees these mass shootings every few months.

Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response, here at this podium, ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it, we’ve become numb to this.

Have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports.

Vox’s Zack Beauchamp took up Obama’s challenge.

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WNYC's State of the Union bingo

WNYC has a bunch of online stuff for tonight’s State of the Union speech. Not sure how I’ll pay attention to the enhanced web stream, the live chat (with the New Yorker’s own Amy Davidson), my Twitter stream, and also keep track of a bingo card, but I’m gonna give it a shot.

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