The Widdershins

Remain Calm, Etc: Whither Consistency?

Posted on: June 13, 2013

“Having, then, once introduced an element of inconsistency into his system, he was far too consistent not to be inconsistent consistently, and he lapsed ere long into an amiable indifferentism which to outward appearance differed but little from the indifferentism …  Samuel Butler

Good Thursday, Widdershins.   Do you find yourself utterly confused by the above-referenced quote from Butler?  Me, too – but it’s absolutely appropriate considering this week’s uproar regarding privacy.

We discussed the issue of spying on the general public the other day when commenting on Pat’s most excellent post,  and generally concluded that we found the entire process loathsome.  I would wager that we were all upset about the Patriot Act as well, which greased the process along the road, and were all pretty outspoken about it at the time.  The latest discoveries have brought about some pretty strange political bedfellows.

At the time that the Patriot Act passed the Senate, Russ, Feingold was the only “nay” vote.  He warned us that we were on top of a pretty slippery slope.  VP Richard Cheyney told all comers that no citizen who was going lawfully about their business would have to concern themselves with this.  President Bush said that we should all go shopping.   Those of us who expressed reservations about the Feds snooping around our emails and library cards were dubbed “unpatriotic”.  The general mood was that we needed to be safe above all else – basically we were demoted to the lowest possible rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Enter Congress.  Rand Paul is quite upset, but I expected that.  He is, if nothing else, consistently libertarian in his outlook.  That said, I just have to wonder if he ever considered that he might be aligned with Michael Moore and Bernie Sanders.  I also wonder if Diane Feinstein and Lindsay Graham ever thought that they would stand shoulder-to-shoulder in defense of the principle.    Actually, Sen. Feinstein was not as much defending the program as she was pointing out that this whole thing really didn’t get started up last Tuesday. Peter King wants to prosecute both the whistle-blower and Glenn Greenwald for his article, apparently oblivious to the fact that there really is no law that says that he cannot write and publish whatever he wishes.    Heck, some may even think that the whole thing is covered by the First Amendment, or something like that.  You know, one of the amendments cited by the Tea Party whenever they say something.

Joe Scarborough was most upset on his morning show.  Here’s the money quote:

Scarborough continued, “It’s just like the AP story and the Fox story. This administration has been so much more aggressive, so much more indiscriminate and the net they have thrown out has been so much more widespread than what we have ever seen before that I think this goes well beyond the scope of what people envisioned when they passed the Patriot Act.

Seriously, Joe?  Quite a few of us were indeed envisioning just that. If I remember correctly, just about every telecomm company had thrown their clients under the bus and actually broken federal law with their complicity.    I also seemed to recall that Congress obligingly gave them broad  retroactive immunity to shield them from suit by torqued-off customers.  Further, if it was such a huge secret, how did you know exactly what the scope might be?  I honestly cannot recall Scarborough questioning the authority of the Bush administration to “keep us safe”, usually without so much as a wave at the FISA court.  Seems to me that the Bushies practiced totally warrantless wiretaps, and I just can’t for the life of me recall your full-throated indignation at that time.

Now for the punch line:  isn’t is rich that  Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Mike Enzi and Jeff Flake approve of snooping into all of your communications, but are horrified that anyone would even consider a (gasp!) background check for gun owners.  Most of them are also deeply concerned that the Consumer Protection Agency might actually compile records about your credit and other such terribly private matters.  See, they are concerned about our privacy, donchaknow?  Never fear, gentle Senators – the ACLU has  filed suit.

Is anyone else confused?  This is an open thread.

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15 Responses to "Remain Calm, Etc: Whither Consistency?"

Hope everyone is hale and hearty – I haven’t been around for awhile. My senile 20 year old kitty had to be euthanized and I am now pulling up the hardwood floors – strange how even senile kitties can sneak into corners and urinate.
Anyway this whole atrocity is receiving attention world wide. Seems that every time anyone signs onto Facebook or Google or gmail or hmail, your communications are open despite the fact that you may not be an American citizen or even located in the U.S. Lots of fallout and a whole lot of demands for disclosure from various governments regarding their complicity. This whistle blower is owed a deep debt of gratitude. He didn’t reveal secret communications, only revealed that unfettered privacy incursions were taking place globally. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the ACLU can make a difference, although I doubt it with the weight of the Justice department slamming down. Apparently the sales of Orwell’s 1984 has risen sharply – too late and too little. This is not 1984 with the technology advances in the last 10 years alone, this is beyond that. Frankly I find it frightening, particularly after what happened to Bradley Manning. Thought provoking post chat. Now back to those floors.

True enough. Anyone of any nationality who has communicated with an American can be caught up as well. I’m beginning to wonder why other governments are not complaining,
Sorry about your kitty.

HT: Canada looks to be in pretty good shape when viewing the “heatmap” of the NSA’s snooping and where they snoop.

Sorry to hear about your kitteh.

Thanks for the condolences chat and Fredster. It’s difficult as we all know to make that final decision for a companion, but it is the best thing one can do for that companion. Still I’ve been depressed for awhile – those thoughts “if only”.
Chat WRT other governments, they are all complicit. The populace on the other hand are not and this is raising the ire of a whole lot of people both here, in the U.K. in the rest of Europe. Should be interesting because so far the media is trying to tamp down the outrage – seeing as only a handful of people own the global media and they are all involved in lobbying efforts – no surprise.

HT, so sorry about your furry one.

Chat, the world class hypocrisy represented by this issue should be the cover story on “Contortionists Weekly.” As you so deftly point out, there were plenty of right minded, sane individuals laying out the parade of horribles now warring in each communication. It was inevitable that technology would outgrow the development of the law in this area much like the resulting consternation when I try on an old suit.

With that said, there’s something hinky about Ed Snowden. There’s a piece somewhere in the melange of what he’s doing that is just a bit off like tuna salad at a summer picnic. I don’t buy into his altruism when he essentially throws a new coat of paint on something that has been known and reported since 2006 and then tries to sell it as new by dramatically hightailing it to Hong Kong and flirting with Russia and China for asylum. Something just doesn’t “gee and haw” as we say in the south.

Since Alexander Graham Bell left a voicemail for Watson, there’s been a record of each and every phone call ever made. This was inevitable.

Interesting it is.

Gosh I wish there was a “like” button for comments, cause I’d be working it overtime. I really like Prolix’ take – the thing that bothers me is that the global giants all have technology wizards working for them and as far back as that silly movie Wargames with Matthew Broderick in the early 1980’s the signs were all there. Back in the mid 80’s when I was technical support for an engineering I regularly signed on to a system which was a library – it was called “The Source or the Library or whatever the latest incarnation was”. For those of you not familiar with the net in those days, it was developed by the military – Arapanet later Darpanet later some other incarnation. The military (U.S. btw) have been actively involved since the birth of the net and despite the mutterings about an open source free wheeling network, it never has been. They have had internal switches and checks in place since day one. Freedom on the net is an illusion unless you are a hacker extradordinaire.
Darn, I’m now probably on the list of people to check out. Let me save those cowardly data miners some time – I’m an old lady with a long memory – I have no terrorist connections and no off shore accounts. I feel I’m fortunate to pay my property taxes every year and just recently had to take out a mortgage on my home. Just a silly old person.

Prolix said: It was inevitable that technology would outgrow the development of the law in this area

Yes, but did our *leaders* want to let the law run behind the technology capabilities?

Another thing too is the fact that the NSA (and other govt agencies) let their contractors run loose with all the clearances they were granting right and left. I saw a former head of the NSA (Hayden) on morning schmoe saying he was surprised at the number of folks who had these clearances. It’s about 3 mins. into the clip.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3036789/#52189816

All of this goes back to the old question: Who watches the watchers?

Also, take a look at the new NSA data center that’s just about ready in Utah. The data center I worked at for NFC had one diesel generator that could power the two mainframes, mid-range systems and server farms for 3 days. We had a battery room that could carry us for about 6-8 hrs before having to switch to generator power. If you look at the 2nd picture down in the link below you’ll see six devices that have metal frames around them, and are right in front of a bldg. There are two tanks right below them. I think those are the generators that can run this entire play for 3 days w/out outside power. You can also see a good pic of the water chiller systems that will cool the “data halls”. That’s a whole lot of data (=information) they are going to be storing in this place.

http://www.businessinsider.com/pictures-of-the-nsas-utah-data-center-2013-6

Fredster said, “Yes, but did our *leaders* want to let the law run behind the technology capabilities?”

I can’t do that fancy stuff you can do with quotes so forgive my whizenly ways..

I would ask the same question as you have, but the law always lags behind technology — it is just the nature of the beast. By the time issues present unresolvable “rubs,” cases are filed and they meander their way through the courts, it is 5 or more years down the pike. Given that technology essentially doubles every 18 months, there is no way the law can keep up. While this may seem bad, in another way it is good — if we tried to stay on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to the law, it would unavoidably impinge upon innovation and certainly stifle a more open society.

I can agree that this evolution of the law is not the best, but in the long run it is much better than all the alternatives.

Prolix, that it may (lag behind the tech), but I always wonder (putting on tin foil hat here) if it’s intentional. “Nah, we won’t worry about that right now.”

I’ll drop you an email and show you how you can add italics and bold in a comment. You know you’re dying to know how to do that. 😉

Might not be around much later. We have a line of serious weather heading this way so I may shut down for awhile.

What amazes me is the amount of outsourcing of sensitive data. No wonder we can;t keep up with things. True, you can have your contractors sign non-disclosure agreements, but still seems peculiar.
Even more peculiar is Snowden’s dash for freedom to – China? Russia? WTH???

Even more peculiar is Snowden’s dash for freedom to – China? Russia? WTH???

That’s what they are very afraid of. Heard on ABC news that when he ran, he had four laptops loaded with info.

Dear God! I just saw Louie Gomert standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the ACLU regarding PRISM. I need a drink……..

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