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But This One Goes to Eleven:
Talking Points Memo's Paul Kiel is reporting that TPM has been cut from DOJ's e-mail distribution list for media organizations. The list apparently sends out DOJ's press releases, saving recipients the trouble of constantly checking DOJ's website for press releases to see if there is news about DOJ. What's the reason that TPM — a frequent and influential critic of DOJ — has been cut? According to DOJ, there's just no more room on the e-mail list. The money quote: "unfortunately I am not able to add you to our distribution list. As you may realize we have a lot of requests to be put on our media lists and we simply are not able to put everyone on the list." Uh huh.
Fub:
"unfortunately I am not able to add you to our distribution list. As you may realize we have a lot of requests to be put on our media lists and we simply are not able to put everyone on the list."
Now be fair. Maybe DoJ hasn't thought of the obvious solution.

Spammers can't remove anybody from their mailing lists. DoJ can't put anybody on their mailing lists.

So, DoJ could just drop charges agains those thousands of spammers they are bringing down since Congress passed the (I) CAN SPAM act, and maybe one of them would be nice enough to handle the DoJ email list.

There must be plenty of defendants they could cut that deal with, since DoJ's spam prosecutions have so dramatically diminished the volume of spam.

Oh, wait.
1.16.2008 12:23am
3L:
Fub, you're awesome. Well played.
1.16.2008 12:27am
nostrum:
I can't decide which this better embodies, juvenile petulance or an utter and total lack of common sense.

Five bucks says that hack Jeff Gannon is on DOJ's media list.
1.16.2008 12:29am
Eric F:
Sounds like the facts of West Valley View, Inc. v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, at (summarized at (sheriff's office refused to place a newspaper on an e-mail press release list)
1.16.2008 1:09am
Eric F:
Sounds like the facts of West Valley View, Inc. v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, at http://www.cofad1.state.az.us/opinionfiles/cv/cv060549.pdf (summarized at http://www.azapp.com/2007_08_01_archive.html ) (sheriff's office refused to place a newspaper on an e-mail press release list)

[couldn't get links to work]
1.16.2008 1:10am
Thomas_Holsinger:
Because everyone knows electrons have mass and volume.
1.16.2008 2:00am
John A. Fleming (mail):
Umm, don't know if this applies to the DOJ, but...
From personal experience, ISPs often place anti-spam filters on the number of addressees for a single e-mail, e.g. 100.

Never attribute to malice etc.
1.16.2008 2:19am
Brian K (mail):
ISPs often place anti-spam filters on the number of addressees for a single e-mail, e.g. 100.

I would imagine the DOJ has the clout to get rid of this requirement (if there is one) and/or the ability to buy or write a program that automatically splits it up the one mass e-mail into many smaller acceptable ones. To paraphrase Fub, if spammers can do it, the DOJ should be able to.
1.16.2008 2:32am
CrazyTrain (mail):
Because everyone knows electrons have mass and volume.

See, e.g., wikipedia: the mass of an electron:

Mass: 9.109 382 15(45) × 10--31 kg[1]
5.485 799 09(27) × 10--4 u
1⁄1822.888 4843(11) u
0.510 998 918(44) MeV/c2

I for one am happy that the government is cutting down on this waste of space -- imagine all the electrons that could be saved if the government cut more people off their lists.
1.16.2008 2:33am
Scote (mail):

Umm, don't know if this applies to the DOJ, but...
From personal experience, ISPs often place anti-spam filters on the number of addressees for a single e-mail, e.g. 100.

Never attribute to malice etc.

Yeah, if you send them as multiple recipients one email. That isn't how big mailing lists are sent and the DOJ should be on everybody's white list by default!

Funny how there was "room" on the list last year but not this year...FOIA time!!!!

As to attributing malice, that really should be one's default assumption when dealing with the Administration if you are not on the approved neocon list. They've earned the presumption of malice.
1.16.2008 2:33am
EH (mail):
Looks like there's some foolishness around her non-sequitur reasoning. She only says "A lot of people request...I am not able to add you." Well of course not. Some underling or techie would do the actual putting of addresses on the list, but none of this has anything to do with space or how many people request to be put on. Come on people, the Jedi Mind Trick has been around for 30 years now!
1.16.2008 4:34am
NickM (mail) (www):

Yeah, if you send them as multiple recipients one email. That isn't how big mailing lists are sent and the DOJ should be on everybody's white list by default!


You're assuming basic competence in computer usage.

Considering the problems various parts of the federal government have had for a decade in accessing their own databases or in communicating between supposedly networked computers, that may be a leap.

Nick
1.16.2008 4:48am
chill (mail):
Problem is really that the RNC is running the e-mail lists for the executive branch and Karl has rewt access.
1.16.2008 5:28am
Hoosier:
There's a fine line between clever and . . . stupid.
1.16.2008 6:08am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
There's a work-around. Anybody currently on the list could start auto-forwarding a copy to TPM, or put the output onto a web page. Anybody not on the list could request to be put on the list. At that point DOJ can either comply or cut off all new people.
If TPM can effectively shut down the DOJ list, that's a useful accomplishment.
1.16.2008 6:08am
DC:
Seems like an RSS feed would solve most of the problem. The feed wouldn't require staff to maintain "a list," with the attendant legal problems. And the feed could also easily be broken up into the same topics DOJ uses on its press release page, allowing people to fine-tune what interests them.

Perhaps DOJ wants to elevate itself above the blogosphere, but some of the tools would be nice for government to employ. (My state AG uses an RSS feed for his press releases, for example.)
1.16.2008 8:17am
loki13 (mail):

Never attribute to malice etc.

You're assuming basic competence in computer usage.


...sigh. That's the problem with the administration today. Evil? Incompetent? Both are always equally valid explanations for whatever nonsense is coming done the pike.
1.16.2008 8:34am
Just Dropping By (mail):
Look, when the DoJ staffers push the press release electrons down wires (or photons down fiber optic lines) to send them out, there's resistance which generates waste heat. By limiting the e-mail distribution list DoJ is obviously doing its part to combat global warming!
1.16.2008 9:17am
Jake (Guest):
What you guys have to understand is, the Internet is like a bunch of pipes. And when you try to send too much stuff through the pipes, it backs up, and you get the overflow all over your computer. You don't want that to happen, do you?
1.16.2008 10:15am
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
I did want to comment, but as you may realize Orin Kerr composes a lot of blog posts, and I simply am not able to provide feedback to all of them.
1.16.2008 10:51am
Adam J:
What really scares me is they probably think that we are dumb enough to believe them.
1.16.2008 10:56am
TaxLawyer:
Mukasey, Gonzalez, Ashcroft . . . same shit different shitter. The fish rots from the head.
1.16.2008 11:23am
GV:
Well, we all know from Senator Stevens (R-Alaska) that the internets is a series of tubes, so perhaps there is no more room in the tubes?
1.16.2008 11:54am
JBL:
So there are three possibilities:

1. It is not possible to get added to the distribution list.

2. If DOJ tells you they can't add you to the distribution list, all you have to do is ask again later.

or

3. DOJ has an official list of people who are not on the distribution list.
1.16.2008 12:06pm
Davebo (mail):
We regret to inform you that our Commodore64 with the cassette tape drive no longer has enough storage space to add you to our distribution list.

DOJ plans to upgrade to an Apple Lisa in 2012 and at that point we will be able to add 22 new subscribers.

Try again in 5 years.
1.16.2008 12:10pm
Sigivald (mail):
loki: Do you mean to imply that any different administration would have hired someone much more competent to whatever position it is that runs DOJ's press release mailing list?

Or that whatever ancient software they might be using, left over from the first time they went electronic on the distribution of press releases, would obviously have been updated before now if someone else was President?

As if that's not a boring, ordinary civil service position filled by the same incompetent process no matter who's President and which party controls Congress? As if the glacial pace of government software deployment and infrastructure upgrades, lamented by government employees at all Departments and at all levels, were somehow a petty partisan political issue?

I'm a software developer, and I find it very easy to believe that they simply have a horrible old system that really does have a finite ability to send out releases, and that they're not going to proactively set up a new system or an RSS feed because of bureaucratic inertia and incentives. (IE, it's a pain in the ass to do anything "new", and takes forever, thanks to accountability and "process" requirements.)
1.16.2008 12:22pm
loki13 (mail):
Sivigald,

No. I thought it was self-evident. As it is with too many things (I never read the NIE, no one made the decision to fire etc.)... with this administration, you can never attribute anything to malfeasance (dropping a noted critic of the DOJ off the email list) when they're just so incompetent. Did any of their non-critics run into their legacy/Commodore 64 problems?
1.16.2008 1:03pm
CatCube:
For our maintenance at my Army installation, we still had to have somebody hand carry a 3-1/2" floppy disk every day up until about a month ago to a central computer to update parts orders and vehicle statuses. They finally added the ability to do this over the LAN that all the computers were hooked up to the entire time and it is still unreliable. This isn't some massive neocon conspiracy, its just government bureaucracy as normal, so yeah, I can believe that there system could have a finite mailing list capability completely unrelated to the current administration.
1.16.2008 1:07pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Before getting all excited, might it not be interesting to ask who else isn't being put on the list?

Believe it or not, there are things about managing mailing lists that become more difficult the longer the list becomes. Not that you run out of bits, but you need to deal with email bounces, administrative emails, and so forth. So it wouldn't be at all unusual to try to limit the number of people on the list to people who are actually and legitimately interested.

But then, why try to find out the truth of the issue when you can run off having lots of drama instead?
1.16.2008 1:13pm
dejapooh (mail):
Ya know, I lead a discussion group over at Yahoo about traveling to the Olympics. Using Yahoo Groups, people can subscribe themselves, remove themselves, and maintain the type and format of the communication they receive from my group. I can control who, if anyone, gets to post to the group (to prevent spammers from using my group to send off their ****). I think the DOJ needs to join Yahoo. Best part, it is free!
1.16.2008 2:02pm
Hank:
What really scares me is they probably think that we are dumb enough to believe them.

I doubt that they think that. What would be the point in punishing someone if no one believed that you were punishing the person? It is just that, if they deny what they are doing, then they don't have to defend doing it. It is just like Bush's "We do not torture."
1.16.2008 2:43pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmmm.

Frankly I applaud the DOJ on it's decision.

*shrug* what nobody has addressed is why the DOJ should give a rat's rear end about TPM or why TPM should be included.
1.16.2008 5:33pm
Hank :
why the DOJ should give a rat's rear end about TPM or why TPM should be included.


Duh. Because viewpoint-based discrimination is unconstitutional?
1.16.2008 5:57pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
DOJ is doing them a favor. Who in their right mind wants to read DOJ press releases?

Oh yeah, TPM does. Draw your own conclusion from that.
1.16.2008 10:18pm
Uh_Clem (mail):
I am continually amazed at the ability of Bush supporters to make up an excuse for anything, no matter how implausible. No more room on an email distribution list? That's the stupidest thing I've heard all week*. And people here are swallowing it.

They're either complete suckers, or disingenuous appologists.

*BTW, I write software that sends mass emails. The DOJ is full of crap here. No doubt about it.
1.17.2008 10:37am