Saturday, June 08, 2013


By now, regardless of your attention span and ability to read, you have heard of the leaks regarding PRISM.  This was the program run out of the National Security Agency that collected call information from Verizon.  The day after this cat left the bag, the Washington Post reported that the NSA was also holding information from internet sites including Google and Facebook.

And now everyone is a Constitutional scholar.

Before anyone starts saying, "You got upset when Bush did it and now you're OK with Obama?  HYPCRITE!!!"  let me say that I am not "OK" with this at all.  What the Bush Administration did, and what upset me and others including candidate Obama was warrantless wiretapping.  This is not a distinction without a difference.  Like it or not, the program crossed the legal "t"'s and dotted the legal "i"'s and sought and was granted warrants through courts set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  Since those courts and their proceedings are secret, we cannot know what the reasoning here was.  All the same, these courts and their procedures have passed Constitutional muster, so the Obama Administration has at least covered itself that way.

For all the huffing and puffing about violations of various Constitutional protections, I wonder where these same folks were when it was pointed out over and over that this would be the result of the PATRIOT Act.  Obviously, you all were screaming that we had to do this to prevent another 9/11 attack and opposition to it was evidence we wanted those 3,000 people to die.  As David Simon wrote (with thanks to Tbogg for the link):
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.
This isn't new or unprecedented.  Nor is it all that surprising.  Finally, it is categorically different from what happened during the Bush Administration because, whether anyone finds the procedures Constitutionally questionable or not, they are and continue to be legal.  What the Bush Administration did was not.  Huge difference.

Am I comfortable with this?  Of course not.  Does it violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution?  I believe it does; I also believe it is unreasonable for the police to collect DNA from criminal suspects.  The Supreme Court, however, feels otherwise and in these matters it is their view that counts.  I can protest all I want, write letters to Congress urging a clarifying Constitutional amendment on this matter.  It doesn't change the reality that such information collection is indeed Constitutional.  Proclaiming otherwise and pretending either superiority of Constitutional understanding or simple moral superiority won't prevent the cops from swabbing my cheeks should I ever be unlucky enough to be arrested.

Simon's piece, linked above, is marvelous in its disdain for the explosion of rage the past few days over these revelations.  How did we come to this, that the federal government is collecting our data?  Why, our elected representatives gave them the tools to do so.  You want them to stop?  Then get your elected representatives to change the goddamn laws.  Don't show up on the Internet and tell everyone how horrible Tyrant Obama is, especially if you're not willing to do thirty seconds of detective work to discover this is legal.

We created the conditions in which this kind of thing happened.  That's what representative democracy is all about.  Expressing outrage on the Internet is not only meaningless; it is usually counterproductive, especially if you tend to be one of those people who don't know the difference between tapping people's phone calls without a warrant and collecting what essentially are people's phone bills after having obtained a warrant to do so.

Finally, and this is something that amazes me no end: Too many of the same people whose computer screens are now washed from all the spittle sprayed in rage over this issue are more than willing to share their sexual dalliances, or at least their desired sexual dalliances; their preference for illegal drugs; how drunk they got last night; sometimes even their private contact information; all on social media.  You want to screech about privacy?  Don't tell the world you just bleached your pubic hair or ask someone in an open forum that you want to score some weed for the night.

We want our privacy, yet we strip ourselves naked in the public square every day and are upset when someone points it out to us.  Forgive me if I have little sympathy for you if you are willing to share info on what you did with whom last night then turn around and scream that Obama is worse than Stalin because the NSA has logged the fact you visit on a daily basis.  A clever 12 year old can get a hold of your search data in no time; why should we expect the NSA to overlook this data especially when it has the legal means to collect what we far too willingly share with the world to see?

To all you budding Constitutional scholars and sudden civil libertarians out there, it might have been nice to hear from you six years ago when another Administration showed far less obeisance to the rule of law.  It would also be nice if you shared a bit less of your personal life via social media only to cry when the federal government takes a look at what all the world has all ready seen.

UPDATE: Just so we're clear on the concept, I am very happy to read this:
The NSA’s practice of collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers was revealed by The Guardian on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, The Washington Post reported that the NSA and the FBI are tapping into the central servers of nine major U.S. internet companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google.
“The recent disclosures raise serious questions about the government’s representation to the Supreme Court about the speculative nature of dragnet surveillance,” Brett Max Kaufman, a national security fellow with the ACLU’s National Security Project, told TPM. “And the ACLU is considering and researching the available options in terms of further action on the FAA. Throughout the Amnesty litigation, the ACLU consistently argued that a broad interpretation of the FAA would permit the government to conduct the very kind of surveillance that has been disclosed in the past few days, and the government was dismissive of the possibility.”
According to Kaufman, this week’s news demonstrates “how important legal issues like standing are, because they take away the ability of the American people to challenge the very kind of surveillance that we’ve learned about.”
Instead of shouting about tyrrany, the ACLU is actually doing something.  Will the hyperventilators support them?  Send them a check to show support?  Just curious.

UPDATE II: Roy Edroso nails it all, why it bothers me but why I refuse to pretend to make nice with the perennially anti-Obama crowd, and seriously wish our scandal hungry media had a memory slightly longer than a four-year-old:
I despair of fixing some things, but I'd like to keep them from making more of a shithole of the place than it already is.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Is "Rape Culture" A Thing?

Scott Limieux says, "Yes".  He provides links for evidence, as well as the helpful "new" definition of the First Amendment that the right uses to call out mean old lefties who call them on their insanity.

I think the use of the word "culture" creates a lot of confusion.  Which is not to deny either the horror of rape or the reality that women speaking their minds receive rape threats on what is becoming a depressingly regular basis.  All the same, as a shorthand for the reality too many women experience, it does work well.

And I should add that if you think that "rape" and "sex" are the same thing, as some of the shriveled dicks Lindy West shares, then I think that is the BEST evidence for the reality of rape culture.  Especially when you think not raping someone implies some kind of insult.

Virtual Tin Cup

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More