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I want fewer crimes, not better coverups

Glenn Greenwald has been right on top of this NSA story from the very beginning. He published a damning overview in The Guardian.

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The NY Times has published an article that’s more on Greenwald than the privacy breeches. It mentions that he begin his blog in 2005 covering news of warrantless surveillance by the Bush administration…and now here he is, discovering that the Obama administration is doing exactly the same things.

But it also gives the last words to his ideological oppenents.

His writing has made him a frequent target from ideological foes who accuse him of excusing terrorism or making false comparisons between, for example, Western governments’ drone strikes, and terrorist attacks like the one in Boston.

Gabriel Schoenfeld, a national security expert and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who is often on the opposite ends of issues from Mr. Greenwald, called him, “a highly professional apologist for any kind of anti-Americanism no matter how extreme.”

Mr. [Andrew] Sullivan wrote in an e-mail: “I think he has little grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war. He’s a purist in a way that, in my view, constrains the sophistication of his work.”

“Purist” is one of those code words for “principled and honest”; “apologist for anti-Americanism” means he expects better of our own government’s administration. I really detest these lying conservative weasels who think it is in our country’s best interests to hide the underhanded crap our shadier elements perpetrate; these people make excuses for criminal activities that undermine our nation’s effectiveness and corrupt the goals towards which we should be working. You want to find a true anti-American? Look for someone who rejects any effort to uncover its flaws and correct them.

A perfect example: Barack Obama is meeting with President Xi Jinping of China. I’m sure Jinping welcomes the news that he’s negotiating with a country that has as little respect for individual liberty as his does.

The timing for Barack Obama couldn’t be worse. Just as he meets for the first time to forge a new diplomatic relationship with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, a series of exposes on the secret surveillance programs of the US National Security Agency has presented a major distraction and eroded America’s moral high ground.

The meeting at a gigantic estate in California called Sunnylands is a chance for the two world leaders to establish personal rapport and find common ground, but it’s also inevitably a joust for diplomatic leverage. After months of leaked reports about Beijing’s cyber espionage campaign against US corporations and military targets in the lead-up to the Sunnylands meeting, Obama was expected to put cyber-security near the top of the agenda—and he probably will still do so.

But now Xi has an easy rejoinder to any criticisms from  Obama: how can the US complain when has been caught running a large-scale data harvesting program? The NSA’s inclusion of Americans among its targets has raised the most controversy, but don’t forget that the program is purportedly aimed at foreigners—surely many Chinese among them.

As is common, I expect the superficial ideologues of both the right and the left to complain bitterly that the problem isn’t the crime of compromising American privacy, but the exposure of the rotten behavior by our government.

Comments

  1. says

    But now Xi has an easy rejoinder to any criticisms from Obama: how can the US complain when has been caught running a large-scale data harvesting program?

    Gee, who would have thought that claiming the moral high ground requires occupying it first?

  2. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Who is anti-child? The teacher who meets with parents to give them an assessment of their child’s strengths and weaknesses? Or the teacher who gives every child an A instead of bothering to grade so that no child will feel badly about having performed less well than another?

  3. tsig says

    America lost the moral high ground when the government decided that anything is OK as long as it protects American security.

    The America I thought I knew is gone. We didn’t use torture, we didn’t kill innocents, we didn’t spy on our own people, only the evil Nazis and Communists did those things, now we not only do them but are proud of the fact.

  4. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    As is common, I expect the superficial ideologues of both the right and the left to complain bitterly that the problem isn’t the crime of compromising American privacy, but the exposure of the rotten behavior by our government.

    This seems to be part of the american “positive thinking” culture Barbara Ehrenreich wrote about.

    As long as you don’t see a problem it doesn’t exist, and it will go away on its own if you don’t make a fuss about it. The problem is those who insist on bringing the bad news, and if you punish them the problems will go away.

    Now let’s forget the corruption and abuses of our government against foreigners (that’s easy) and its own citizens (more difficult but can be managed if you’re not its victim) and have some nice strawberry ice cream.

  5. brucej says

    I’m sure Jinping welcomes the news that he’s negotiating with a country that has as little respect for individual liberty as his does.

    SRSLY??? When Obama sends tanks to disperse Occup[y Wall Street protests, when The US institues a government-run firewall to censor the Internet, when Obama makes it a crime to criticize the government, THEN we’ll have a country with as little respect for individual liberty as his does.

    This is a huge over-reach of the surveillance state, but come ON This is not Obama == 10Hitlers!!!1!!Eleventy!!

  6. says

    America lost the moral high ground when the government decided that anything is OK as long as it protects American security.

    This is their claim, but it’s a lie. Nothing about this increases the security of Americans or America. The real rule is that everything is OK as long as it protects American Hegemony.

  7. says

    Meh… I’m not exactly a big fan of GG. He’s more than a purist, he’s a purity troll. However much I agree with him on many of these issues, any sort of disagreement with him gets you labeled an unthinking Obama worshipper. He can be just as much a preening narcissist as Andrew Sullivan. His constant refrain that liberals are cheering on Obama for behavior that we excoriated Bush for is not only false, liberal media elites like Maddow and Hayes have been pointing this shit out for years… often because they had a certain journalist on their shows.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    … I expect the superficial ideologues of both the right and the left to complain bitterly that the problem isn’t the crime of compromising American privacy, but the exposure of the rotten behavior by our government.

    If by “left” you mean Democratic Party shills and their fellow travelers, your political spectrometer urgently needs recalibration: both major US parties show red on international-standard litmus tests.

  9. tynk says

    @3 tsig

    We didn’t use torture, .

    There was a lot of torture going on in Vietnam on both sides.
    See the “Winter Soldier Investigation”

    we didn’t kill innocents,

    I believe the two nukes we dropped would disagree.

    we didn’t spy on our own people,

    McCarthyism and the red scare? The cold war was filled with US gov spying on US citizens.

    For the heck of it, lets add in Japanese internment camps, slaughter of American Indians, the civil war…

    We have a long history of horrible acts. You are just suffering from nostalgia.

  10. sigurd jorsalfar says

    @7: The government is spying on you, but hey let’s not miss a chance to call Glen Greenwald a ‘purity troll’ and ‘preening narcissist’.

    While you are at it, why don’t you tell us about how ‘creepy’ you find Julian Assange? and how there’s something a little ‘funny’ about that Bradley Manning character, amirite?

  11. says

    On Twitter, Sam Harris is busy slagging Greenwald for lying, being boring, and sockpuppeteering. I don’t suppose he holds a grudge though.

  12. says

    Gee, who would have thought that claiming the moral high ground requires occupying it first?

    We’ll only occupy the moral high ground after we soften it up with drone strikes.

  13. says

    @10 Nicely done!

    I’m a big fan of Greenwald as well as Sam Harris, which gets a bit awkward at times.

    Anyway, it’s the secrecy that really bugs me. Now Obama says “I welcome this debate,” which is easy to say when you’re secret program has been leaked. The fact is, this program was kept secret precisely to avoid having this debate.

  14. Holms says

    While you are at it, why don’t you tell us about how ‘creepy’ you find Julian Assange?

    Well, he is smarmy wanker…

  15. truthspeaker says

    I thought we already had the debate, and Obama being elected showed which side had one.

    I’m not actually that naive, I remembered him voting for the FISA amendments. Still, he’s acting as if this “debate” is a new thing and that people haven’t been outraged since the PATRIOT Act.

    And according to the Guardian, he actually said this:

    If people can’t trust the executive branch but also Congress, federal judges… then we’re going to have some problems.

    I don’t know what fantasy universe this guy lives in where anyone trusts the executive branch, Congress, or federal judges. And yes, we do have some problems.

    Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/07/obama-administration-nsa-prism-revelations-live

  16. Scr... Archivist says

    PZ wrote:

    I’m sure Jinping welcomes the news…

    I believe that “Jinping” is his given name. Did you intend to use his family name, which is “Xi”?

    —————

    Pierce R. Butler @8,

    …both major US parties show red on international-standard litmus tests.

    And the funny thing about this is that your statement should say “blue” by those same international standards. It’s just a historical accident that the 2000 U.S. presidential election set the colors in a way that makes us backwards from the rest of the world.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_states_and_blue_states

  17. iknklast says

    One thought that comes to my mind: They’re collecting so much information, most of it no doubt trivial and mind-numbing (Whatcha doin’? Huh? Nope. So I said to him…) you get the picture. This could actually create a situation that drowns out any significance because anyone trying to sort through this is going to become braindead quickly and just pass over the significant. And computer keyword searches are going to hit tons of false positives…which will lead to all sorts of suspected terrorists who are just innocent citizens having an innocent conversation.

    Like going through the airport. The air of boredom that prevails in TSA when they’re looking at the bags in the scanner leads me to believe they would miss most things that are significant. They see so much every day that has no relevance to homeland security that they’ve probably learned to tune a lot of it out – mostly just background noise.

  18. trucreep says

    @7

    The only thing you can accuse Greenwald of being is consistent.

    Maddow is hardly better than most pundits – but I’ll give her more credit than others for not blindly defending Obama at every turn. And Chris Hayes was just recently added to MSNBC’s lineup I believe, and he and Greenwald are good friends as well (I think…).

    TPM is a great example of the automatic defense from the left rushing to Obama’s aid. Also, you can of course choose examples from both aisles showing dissent. So being able to select individuals that break from the narrative doesn’t mean that saying overall liberals are easier on Obama is false.

  19. auraboy says

    Assange provided a titanic public service publishing wikilieaks but if he did rape two women he needs to be held accountable. We can’t praise people who agree with our world view and then excuse their crimes. That’s part of our approach that is regularly criticised by right wing absolutists.

    Bradley Manning is being tried for the crime of releasing the truth. So that’s entirely different to Assange being accused of rape. Perhaps it is a conspiracy to get Assange extradited and executed in the USA – I don’t know – but dismissing the claims of the women involved because the accused is Assange is as bad as the people you fight against.

  20. says

    Speaking of moral high ground, transparency regarding government actions, and tending to place blame on people like Greenwald for revealing what others would like to keep hidden, I am cross-posting this from the [Lounge] thread because the same issues come up:

    Matt Taibbi refuses to take the “chumpbait” being fed to the press regarding the Bradley Manning trial. Here’s an excerpt from a longer and excellent article:

    Link.

    …At the very least, according to Johnson, we shouldn’t have to listen to anyone call Manning a hero:

    At the centre of the storm is a person who one suspects should never have been in uniform, let along enjoying access to military intelligence, who has blundered into the history books by way of a personality crisis. Incredibly, some people actually want to celebrate him as a gay icon. Who next, the Kray twins?

    Wow. We’re the ones machine-gunning children, and yet Manning is the one being compared to the murdering Kray twins? And Jesus, isn’t being charged with the Espionage Act enough? Is Manning also being accused of not representing gay America skillfully enough on the dock?

    Here’s my question to Johnson: What would be the correct kind of person to have access to videos of civilian massacres? Who’s the right kind of person to be let in the know about the fact that we systematically turned academics and other “suspects” over to the Iraqi military to be tortured? We want people who will, what, sit on this stuff? Apparently the idea is to hire the kind of person who will cheerfully help us keep this sort of thing hidden from ourselves….

  21. stevem says

    re TSA @18:
    The TSA is so bored they’ll make mountains out of molehills. My wife tried to travel with some “Christmas ornaments” made out of flat sheet metal shaped like a handgun. The TSA pulled them out of her carry-on and said guns were forbidden. She said they were NOT guns just shaped like them and they were flat and could not even be used to “scare” anyone into compliance. Still, “if it looks like a gun == no carry-on”, they said. They are so bored they’ll do anything to “break the routine” and “earn” their paycheck.
    Sorry for the derail, the TSA just pisses me off so much…Do they really make us ANY safer?

  22. says

    “As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, said of the news about Verizon telephone and mobile log monitoring.

    In an uncommon show of bipartisanship, Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss supported Feinstein, his colleague on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    “Let me just emphasize, this is nothing particularly new,” he said. “Every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this. To my knowledge, we have not had any citizen who has registered a complaint relative to the gathering of this information.”…

    So, yeah, our lovely politicians are not bothered. Not at all.
    http://www.salon.com/2013/06/07/critics_government_surveillance_marks_the_era_of_bush_obama_partner/

  23. says

    Binney, who worked for nearly 40 years at the NSA and resigned shortly after the 9/11 attacks, agreed.

    Verizon — one of America’s largest phone, mobile and internet service providers — was not unique, he emphasized.

    “NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it’s been all the companies, not just one,” Binney said. “If Verizon got [a directive from FISC], so did everybody else.”…

    That’s William Binney, an NSA whistleblower speaking.

  24. koncorde says

    I don’t understand how this is “secret” or a big reveal. Surely this was the whole purpose of the Patriot Act, no? Is everybody really that shocked, surprised, or otherwise completely unaware of the intent and utility of the Patriot Act?

    Is there any possible way this can be span by Faux News?

  25. David Wilford says

    FYI, here’s a fine essay on the subject of secret government surveillance from Bruce Schneier:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/06/what-we-dont-know-about-spying-on-citizens-scarier-than-what-we-know/276607/

    While I do understand the desire to call for whistleblowers to step forward (carefully), I’m not sure that wouldn’t make the government even more jumpy. What’s needed is a real debate in Congress about the usefulness of data-mining and the temptation to abuse such information by those in power. Obama, I’m personally not so worried about, but frankly I think Bush wasn’t above abusing it to get dirt on opponents.

  26. WharGarbl says

    @iknklast
    #18

    One thought that comes to my mind: They’re collecting so much information, most of it no doubt trivial and mind-numbing (Whatcha doin’? Huh? Nope. So I said to him…) you get the picture. This could actually create a situation that drowns out any significance because anyone trying to sort through this is going to become braindead quickly and just pass over the significant. And computer keyword searches are going to hit tons of false positives…which will lead to all sorts of suspected terrorists who are just innocent citizens having an innocent conversation.

    This is where data mining technique comes in. Human don’t actually look at the data (as you said, it’s impossible). Instead, you program algorithms that read through a mass load of data and try to infer connection.
    IBM Watson is one. Here’s another.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14841018
    Granted, the second case they merely tested it on past events (basically, feed it data from Day 0-X, see if it can predict X+n where X, X+n are known already).
    It’s not just keyword searches.

  27. unclefrogy says

    That the NSA did not break the law because the reactionary politicians passed a law that said they could ignore the civil rights of the citizens when the government wanted to is not exactly the same as being innocent.
    When the plan was first leaked for a program that was going to be called “total information awareness” and the furor erupted I knew that no one had changed their minds about it it was still desired,. I knew that we were not through with the issue. So here we are again it is not going away it will morph again after this uproar dies down for the same reasons. It may be some other agency and have some other name and there may be some band-aid rule but it is desired because some people really do not trust open democratic government nor the rule of law nor it seems our Constitution.
    uncle frogy

  28. truthspeaker says

    we have not had any citizen who has registered a complaint relative to the gathering of this information

    It’s hard to complain about something that is a government secret.

    I think Feinstein is right that this is an extension of what’s been going on for years, but that’s the problem. The National Security Letters part of the PATRIOT Act should never have been passed, and neither should the odius FISA amendments. Congress could have repealed most of the PATRIOT Act in the first year of Obama’s term. I didn’t actually expect that to happen, though. Nobody has ever accused me of optimism.

  29. truthspeaker says

    David Wilford

    7 June 2013 at 2:24 pm (UTC -5)
    While I do understand the desire to call for whistleblowers to step forward (carefully), I’m not sure that wouldn’t make the government even more jumpy. What’s needed is a real debate in Congress

    The time for debate is long, long passed. Just repeal all the crap that was passed after 9/11. And fix the War Powers Act as long as I’m dreaming.

  30. Usernames are smart says

    Just repeal all the crap that was passed after 9/11. And fix the War Powers Act as long as I’m dreaming.truthspeaker #33

    Mushroom clouds…bargle…terror, terror, terror…wargle…yellow cake…herp…weapons of mass destruction…derp…

    The best part is that those who are ‘okay’ with the current President/Executive having this power haven’t even worked this scenario out to its frightening conclusion: someday their (wo)man won’t be in power, and someone like Mittens or Bachmann will have the juice.

  31. skaduskitai says

    Yep, get rid of the patriot act and all this bullshit like torture and spying on your own citizens. What is the point of all this? What all these policies tend to create are not what a free and open society needs. Faked confessions by broken prisoners, a bunch of mundane conversation or bad jokes interpreted as treason, fear, hatred and paranoia. It serves better to set up Orwell’s 1984 than it serves to protect freedom, liberty and equality.

  32. alkaloid says

    @trucreep, #19

    “TPM is a great example of the automatic defense from the left rushing to Obama’s aid.”

    Please do not soil leftism as a political label by associating it with automatically defending the Democratic Party. This phenomenon is as liberal as it gets by the common American definition of the term.

    Most leftists that I’ve spoken to are justifiably revolted by Obama’s conduct.

  33. says

    See, the difference between Greenwald and Taibbi is that Taibbi knows the difference between “holding the admninstration’s feet to the fire” and “Throwing them to the wolves”.

  34. David Wilford says

    Another take on the issue from David Simon at http://davidsimon.com/we-are-shocked-shocked/

    Is it just me or does the entire news media – as well as all the agitators and self-righteous bloviators on both sides of the aisle — not understand even the rudiments of electronic intercepts and the manner in which law enforcement actually uses such intercepts? It would seem so.

    Because the national eruption over the rather inevitable and understandable collection of all raw data involving telephonic and internet traffic by Americans would suggest that much of our political commentariat, many of our news gatherers and a lot of average folk are entirely without a clue.

    You would think that the government was listening in to the secrets of 200 million Americans from the reaction and the hyperbole being tossed about. And you would think that rather than a legal court order which is an inevitable consequence of legislation that we drafted and passed, something illegal had been discovered to the government’s shame.

    Nope. Nothing of the kind.

    [...]

    Frankly, I’m a bit amazed that the NSA and FBI have their shit together enough to be consistently doing what they should be doing with the vast big-data stream of electronic communication. For us, now — years into this war-footing and this legal dynamic — to loudly proclaim our indignation at the maintenance of an essential and comprehensive investigative database while at the same time insisting on a proactive response to the inevitable attempts at terrorism is as childish as it is obtuse. We want cake, we want to eat it, and we want to stay skinny and never puke up a thing. Of course we do.

    When the Guardian, or the Washington Post or the New York Times editorial board — which displayed an astonishing ignorance of the realities of modern electronic surveillance in its quick, shallow wade into this non-controversy — are able to cite the misuse of the data for reasons other than the interception of terrorist communication, or to show that Americans actually had their communications monitored without sufficient probable cause and judicial review and approval of that monitoring, then we will have ourselves a nice, workable scandal. It can certainly happen, and given that the tension between national security and privacy is certain and constant, it probably will happen at points. And in fairness, having the FISA courts rulings so hidden from citizen review, makes even the discovery of such misuse problematic. The internal review of that court’s rulings needs to be somehow aggressive and independent, while still preserving national security secrets. That’s very tricky.

    But this? Please. This is bullshit.

  35. Pierce R. Butler says

    Scr… Archivist @ # 17: … your statement should say “blue” by those same international standards.

    Yep, the political/colors thing has been a mess for a long time. Sfaict, the US corporate media swapped their map shading around according to which faction they preferred at the time, with the favored candidate (e.g., Clinton in ’92) getting the more eye-catching red.

    I get a minor perverse delight that the wheel seems to have stopped with the right-wing as the “reds” – J. Edgar Hoover and John Wayne must be spinning at supersonic speeds over that. Of course, throughout the 19th & 20th centuries leftists have nailed down a solid claim to redness, and the Tsar’s gang by all rights established anti-communism (or maybe just monarchism) as “white”.

    Anarchists own black, Protestants have orange, gays possess lavender (and share pink with girls), and the struggle over green among Irish Catholics, the ecology-minded, and Islamists shows no sign of resolution in our lifetimes. But who, on the world stage (US networks/pundits, step aside now!) stands under the blue flag?

  36. eigenperson says

    #39 David Wilford: Even if they threw most of the data away immediately, it was already an abuse of process.

    The government claims they used the data to track known terrorists and their contacts. In that case, they should have obtained a warrant for the data pertaining specifically to those known terrorists and their contacts. Warrants are not supposed to be rubber stamps allowing unrestricted search. They are supposed to specifically identify the places to be searched and the things to be seized, and probable cause for that search and seizure.

    Since I, like most Americans, have no contact with terrorists, there was no probable cause to search my phone records. Not even the metadata.

    You can pontificate all you want over whether or not I have a reasonable expectation of privacy in those records. Suffice it to say that I think I do have a reasonable expectation of privacy, since my friends, my neighbors, and even my relatives cannot get access to them.

  37. DLC says

    Wow. talk about ghosts of times gone by. Do any of you recall a program jauntily called “Echelon” which the NSA ran, and which became briefly notorious back around 1996-2000 ? Really, you don’t remember it ?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

    G’head. go read. And then realize that this has been going on for a long, long time. Your only hope for any privacy at all is to be under the radar. Don’t use any “flag” words. You will still have as much chance of being snooped as someone walking in the park on a cloudy day has of being struck by lightning. Meanwhile, continue to make an issue of this. Make it the central issue of the next mid-term election and of the next presidential election beyond that. Not just asserting the people’s right to privacy, but of un-doing all the so-called “Patriot Act” crap and all the follow-on legislation from there.
    For myself, I’d like to see the entire “secret infrastructure” torn down and replaced with a smaller, streamlined and more narrowly defined intelligence community, with real oversight. I’d also like to be 30 years old again instead of receiving my AARP card this week. I’d also like to die knowing the country was better off than when I was born. It is to dream.

  38. chakolate says

    I’m sorry, but I’m having trouble seeing what all the hoopla is about. We’ve known for a long time that they had the capability to do this; how could anybody think they wouldn’t?

    The only surprise in the whole thing is that they are supposedly not allowed to do it. With FISA warrants being so easy to get, I assumed they’d been spying on all of us for years.

  39. demonhype says

    @23: What else is new? I actually read somewhere that about a third of the country (yes, the US of A) would be in favor of the TSA conducting cavity searches in the airports. Yes, a third of American people think that getting a warm finger up the rectum is a reasonable thing that everyone should expect to have happen to them. Not surprising, since most Americans have been forced to submit to unreasonable search and seizure since the early eighties. What’s a little private data gathering when you’ve allowed someone to search the inside of your bottom in order to be allowed to eat? Once you’ve let your government into your body by way of your employer, how much further is it to let the government spy on everything you do, or let your employer have all your private email and social networking usernames and passwords, or let them strip search you at the airport? Too many people have been convinced that universal search and seizure and spying is a good thing that keeps everyone safe, that “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”, blissfully unaware that our Founders were against universal searches and that innocent people have a lot to hide and a lot to fear from both their employers and their government (which, unfortunately, are one and the same now–whatever rights you can’t violate wearing one hat, just change hats and you’re golden). Not to mention the sunk cost mentality where once you’ve done that you have to believe it was right, or you might lose your mind when you realize that you have been complicit in ushering in a fascist government. No, better to keep saying “if I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to fear” over and over and attack anyone who resists having their rights violated as a “detriment to society”. That way you don’t have to confront uncomfortable truths or be seriously challenged in any way.

    We live in a country of contemptible cowards who have somehow been convinced that the most patriotic American civic duty, in the name of Freedom, is to relinquish each and every last one of our freedoms to those with wealth and power. The best way to protect our freedom is to eliminate it, and the best way to respect our Founders is to take a crap on everything they believed in. Orwellian doublethink, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. And the fact that it will not ever make them any safer never gets through because that is the nature of filthy cowards–as long as they can intuitively BELIEVE they’re safe, they’ll furiously gut anyone who dares suggest maybe our rights have some importance. I have lost every bit of respect I once had for this country. The question is, when are the sane people going to start really fighting back, and stop letting the fascists rule? How bad do things have to get before we say “NO MORE”?

  40. says

    correction: What’s a little private data gathering when you’ve allowed someone to search the inside of your body in order to be allowed to eat?

    I have no idea where that came from.

  41. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I’m sorry, but I’m having trouble seeing what all the hoopla is about. We’ve known for a long time that they had the capability to do this; how could anybody think they wouldn’t?

    You surely know there are people in the world with the capacity to break into your house and steal your TV. Does that mean you’re not going to get mad if it happens, you servile shit?

  42. says

    @40 “But who, on the world stage (US networks/pundits, step aside now!) stands under the blue flag?”

    The English Conservative and Unionist Party. Not British; hardly anyone in Scotland or Wales and the north of England will vote for them …

  43. Nick Gotts says

    @Jake Maxwell Watts and Adam Pasick, from PZ’s link:

    America’s moral high ground

    Comedy genius!

  44. David Marjanović says

    Jinping

    The surname is Xi. As your source gets right, it goes first; the general always comes before the specific in Chinese (dates are year-month-day, fossil sites are country-province-district).

    both major US parties show red on international-standard litmus tests

    …where “red” means the exact opposite of, y’know, international standard.

    Remember “red scare” and “better dead than red”?

    While you are at it, why don’t you tell us about how ‘creepy’ you find Julian Assange?

    Indeed, his ego is a bit large, and… if there’s something to his rape charges…

    What, is it somehow forbidden to point that kind of thing out just because he once did a service to humankind?

    and how there’s something a little ‘funny’ about that Bradley Manning character, amirite?

    What exactly?

    Dammit, the Gumby Comic-Sans blockquote didn’t work.

    It hasn’t worked in a long time. :-( :-( :-(

    And the funny thing about this is that your statement should say “blue” by those same international standards.

    Well, on economic policy, yes; but otherwise, they’re conservative, and the color for that is black (in spite of the anarchists and the Islamists, who don’t limit themselves to green). Merkel is black, Hollande is red.

    But who, on the world stage (US networks/pundits, step aside now!) stands under the blue flag?

    Small libertarian-light parties all over Europe. Except the German one, which uses yellow instead.

    (Also one of the xenophobic parties of Austria, because it was libertarian-light for a few years till the “basement nazis” came back to power.)

  45. stevem says

    re demonhype @44:

    The best way to protect our freedom is to eliminate it, and the best way to respect our Founders is to take a crap on everything they believed in.

    To paraphrase Franklin:”Those who would trade freedom for security deserve and will receive neither”. That phrase seems far more relevant now than even in Franklin’s day.

  46. Pierce R. Butler says

    David Marjanović @ # 49: …where “red” means the exact opposite of, y’know, international standard.

    As noted, USAstan has a lot of things backwards.

    Please, when are y’all going to intervene?

  47. Ichthyic says

    Mr. [Andrew] Sullivan wrote in an e-mail: “I think he has little grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war. He’s a purist in a way that, in my view, constrains the sophistication of his work.”

    anyone who has ever read Sullivan should be laughing hard at the irony.

    or the projection.

    I lost interest in Sullivan years ago, when he couldn’t even explain, in no less that 3 attempts, how he reconciles his personal beliefs with his participation as a Catholic.

    he’s suffering from severe cognitive dissonance, and it affects enough of his work to make him uninteresting any more.

  48. madscientist says

    That’s it – my suspicions are confirmed. Obama is just Dubbyah in black-face. Think about it: he never had any intention of shutting down the concentration camps in Guantanamo Bay – after all it’s the one thing he could do as Commander-in-Chief without any approval from Congress and yet he has all sorts of sob stories about why it can’t be done. All other “policies” are the same as Dubbyah’s. Coincidence? I don’t think so.