Thursday, June 06, 2013


No, I'm not really giving up. I've been blogging for eleven years to defend progressive ideas in general, but also to defend Democrats against Republicans and the right. It's quite possible that I've done more of the latter than the former. And, yes, when I see a Democratic president doing a Bush-like data sweep of phone metadata, I ask myself what the point is.

But I support Democrats primarily because of the difference between the two parties' approaches to the treatment of ordinary schmucks in this country. I don't love the financial deregulation and welfare cutbacks of Clinton or the corporation-coddling of Obama, but the Clinton tax increase was the right thing to do and the highly inadequate recovery policies of Obama nevertheless did more to put a floor under the Great Recession than austerity did in Europe. And what's most important is that the GOP wish list for the economy amounts to a massive increase in economic inequality -- go look at graphs of wealth transfers under the Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney budget. Then recall that the GOP's 2016 nominee might be Rand Paul, whose own budget is even worse.

So, yes, I'll defend a maddening level of pro-plutocrat corporatism against a wholesale abandonment of the notion that the preservation of a middle class and the amelioration of poverty are worthwhile goals. Add that to Democratic versus Republican attitudes on women's rights, gay rights, the rights of non-whites, the role of immigrants, the limitation of creeping Christian theocracy, guns, voting rights, etc., etc., and yes, I am still going to defend Democrats -- even after this surveillance story, and even after all the civilian drone casualties and so on and so on.

But no, I'm not a happy Democrat today.

Now go read the sixty million identically self-righteous blog posts about all this. Yes, all those people have a point. But I'm not going to write that post. I'll be here waiting for the moment when we're ready to talk about something else.


ALSO, TOO: Read Joshua Foust.


Davis X. Machina said...

Democrats fundamentally invented the national security state, under Truman.

The first Democratic president to propose a national health care system is also the forefather of FISA.

This is a long and equivocal story, going into its eight decade.

redscott said...

Shhhhhhhh, Davis - Steve doesn't want to hear it, he told us so himself.

Victor said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if anyone expected America's first African-American Democratic President to be some sort of a flaming Liberal, then let me smoke some o' what youz is smokin'!

This is not to forgive him, but to say that this is the hand he was dealt.

After 9/11, and the incompetent way Cheney and his puppet went about dealing with the ramifications, including making our national security apparatus take steroid injections, and allowing it to blindly grab everything single thing it could get a hold of, what did everyone expect Obama to do?
-He eventually got us out of Iraq.
-We're scheduled to get out of Afghanistan next year.
-Did anyone really expect him to start to disassemble the national security apparatus(es)?

You know the righties were praying on their knees for a terrorist attack on US soil that, if it didn't exceed 9/11, at least match it.
And still are.

So, it doesn't surprise me that the NSA did what it did, after the Boston Marathon attacks.
Unless the Obama administration had specifically stopped all of the programs that W put in place, this is what they were going to do.
And imagine the repercussions, if an event on the level of 9/11 happened on a black Democratic President's watch.

As Davis said, that privacy horsie left the barn decades ago. And 9/11 permanently locked the barn door.

This shit sucks.
And I hate it.
But does anyone expect the next Republican President to dismantle this?

Hell, you know what will be the frosting on this shit-cake?
When the Republicans try to (ironically) impeach Obama, over a program W started.

They'll impeach him, or try, and if a Republican wins in 2016, they will exponentially increase this program, in "The LiberTEA Act of 2017."

Glennis said...

I can only console myself by realizing that had it been Mitt Romney or George Bush's administration doing it they'd all support it.

Pete said...

Thanks, Steve, for a response I essentially endorse; and especially for the link to Joshua Foust, who has facts (what a concept).

Philo Vaihinger said...

Given the limited nature of the data at issue - no call content information and no information re who was on either end - I just can't get all that excited, anyway.

Particularly in light of the unique threat posed by global terrorism conducted by large, capable, well-funded, and well-staffed organizations.

Assuming, of course, that the NSA can usefully employ these data to combat said terrorism.

And in any case I am far from "stunned."

Libby Spencer said...

As the kids say: come sit by me. We can wait it out together.

Chris Andersen said...

Perhaps it is because I work in the field of data analysis, but I really don't see why this particular news story is causing so many people to run around with their hair on fire.

Metadata analysis actually requires large volumes of data in order to improve the accuracy of the results *and* to reduce the incidence of false positives. In other words, if your concern is to protect you personal privacy while still allowing the government to use modern data analysis to track down the bad guys, a larger data sweep is just the kind of thing you should be in favor of.

Never Ben Better said...

Hell, Chris, if a news story out of Washington isn't hair-on-fire (or playable as such regardless of the underlying facts) it'll never see the light of day in the infotainment media to begin with.