Friday, August 23, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

 Happy Birthday to Barbara Eden, 82.

And good stuff:

1. Larry Bartels on polarization in Europe.

2. The lawsuit against Texas voter restrictions, from Molly Redden.

3. And a set I haven't read yet, but intend to: Marc Ambinder on the NSA story; Conor Friedersdorf's response; and Ambinder's last word.


  1. It's a good exchange and Ambinder clearly won it in my view. But I did like his point that both sides spend their time talking past each other.

    Unfortunately, Friedersdorf showed a big lack of understanding of constitutional law. Basically since the 70's the Supreme Court has held that if you give basic information to a third party, like the number you dial to the phone company, the rules of privacy no longer apply. Hence why google can track what you google. But Friedersdorf just ignores this completely and claims its unconstitutional to get a phone record. Oh well, he did the same thing with David Simon in their exchange.

    1. I tend to agree. I haven't had time to go through Friderdorf's yet, but from glancing at it, it seems that a recurring theme is that we don't know everything they're doing, they may be doing more. Well, that will always be true. It was true before the NSA or computers were created. What makes this case different from most, though, is that we have actual documents not intended for outsiders. The person selecting and releasing these documents, Snowden, is trying to make as strong a case as he can that the NSA is doing bad things. So this is probably as strong a test as we will ever have in this regard. It's certainly not perfect. All the evidence of misdeeds consist of the NSA's self-reporting to the FISC (Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court). It's possible that they're doing other things that they don't report to FISC, but that will always be possible; no new rule out of Congress will change that fundamental fact. On the other hand, as far as I know, this is the first evidence we've ever had that the FISC actually does things and gets results.

      In general, we don't want the NSA to be spying randomly on American citizens. So far we don't have evidence of that. What we have in terms of misdeeds seems to be the accidental collection of records that they don't even realize they have. And when they find out, they report it, are told to clean up their act, and do so. Maybe they're doing other things they aren't reporting; maybe they aren't. We can always assume that they're doing more, but that assumption is not based on, or strengthened by, Snowden's revelations.

    2. I mean Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

    3. Ambimber lost the debate when he claimed that the NSA's "compliance record is fairly remarkable". Only if by "remarkable" he means perjury in front of Congress in the "least untruthful way".

    4. You know, Wyden was able to ask that question because the NSA had already informed him. He was trying to get Clapper to discuss it in public, which Clapper was legally forbidden to do.

  2. Who needs Fox News when you can actually get CNN to reward pseudo-candidates for running for president?:

    This is another example of how Fox News is only part of the problem. It's other more ostensibly "non-partisan" journalistic outlets who truly complete the process of enabling dysfunctional politics.


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