Jes sayin’

As it is, so it’s ever been.

14 responses to “Jes sayin’

  1. There is always a trade off between security and civil liberties — it’s a constant push/pull. But Americans, always exceptional, think they can have it both ways. (And it’s an old old problem, even for us: John Adams and the Alien & Sedition Acts. ) The problem, as always, is where to draw the line between individual freedom (or privacy) and the welfare of the group. (Think 1st Amendment and Holmes’ fire/crowded theater, or religious freedom/blood transfusions —) As the cartoon rightly notes, we did this to ourselves with the Patriot Act and as it doesn’t note, Pew says most people are still OK with it.


    • And so pat, again we get what we deserve. Someone famous said – a Founder? cant remember who – that we have to be very attentive to preserve liberty. And as you say, as we know, we’re just not. The fact that 90% of incumbents are re-elected to a Congress with a 10% approval rating gives us the answer to ‘how did this happen’. We bitch and moan and then we enable it to continue.


  2. I’m with patsouthward on this one. The basics still drive the passions on both sides of the argument, but I think all too many fail to appreciate how 21st century life differs from 19th century life. ATM’s, credit cards, smart phones, television!, satellite communications, tweets, internet instant news. Moderns live in a fish bowl of communication and still want . . . privacy? Huh?


  3. I agree that in our digital world with supercomputers and undreamed of algorithms, privacy is no longer even attainable. Visa, Google and Amazon know everything about me already. 😆

    But they don’t have power over me like a government does.

    A good step might be to require the NSA to dump the files after a certain period of time to protect against future abuse . . . but of course then we’d only have their word that they’d done it.


  4. Can you imagine the fun ol man Hoover would have had with these lovely toys?


  5. I teach introductory Am Govt at a community college and this is a point I try to make with my students. Most of them can’t wrap their minds around this basic concept (the security / civil liberties continuum — or, even more disturbingly, ‘majority rule with minority rights.’ They just don’t get it — well, they’re young and they have no distance. But! They can’t see a parallel between the Japanese internment during WWII and, say, that Islamic Center in NYC in the twin towers neighborhood or anti-Islamism in general. I do my best — approach it from several angles several times — but I’m not sure they ever get it. Why IS this? So it’s more than inattention, Mo. I think it’s some kind of innate egoism in the human species. I’m beginning to conclude that democracy is simply unnatural.


    • I too have pondered the conundrum of democracy, patsouthward, and given your profession I’m sure you are aware that even Churchill did when he remarked that it’s messy and the worst possible system, ” . . . except for all the others.” It seems to me that our representative form works best only when the pendulum swings broadly and in times of acute external threat. In times of relative peace, and especially when there’s no military draft, we instinctively turn to political cannibalism. We will not see the like of WW II again, nor the draft. We are in uncharted territory and I’m not sanguine about it.


    • Fascinating points from you and Jim, Pat. What I often wonder about is whether it’s actually possible to govern 300+million people from a central government while also competing with 50 very powerful State governments. India does it – and I don’t know how.

      Pat, as for why the kids are the way they are . . . are they learning civics in elementary or HS before you get them? We certainly had a ‘civics’ class in addition to American history… a thought..


  6. At least these things are being talked about. For much of the last decade, it has seemed like every discussion ended with: ‘…you want the terrorist to win!’


    • Right bruce . . . it’s time for us to stop being terrified. Since that is the goal of terrorists everywhere, a case could be made that they’ve won if we keep this up.


  7. In Florida, students are offered a one-semester course in American government and a two-semester course in American history. Most of the time these are taught by coaches whose real interest is their team. They tend to teach by the ‘read the chapter, do the questions at the end’ and rote memorization of anything that can be turned into a multiple choice question (Which clause of the Constitution was expanded by the Wickard v. Filburn case?) All trivial detail, generally, rather than understanding and application. My own daughter, in the midst of one of these excruciatingly boring classes, asked me how in the world I could find this stuff TOLERABLE! !


    • Suspicions confirmed, Pat. When all the political controversy is removed, what’s left is dross! The same was true when I went to high school in the fifties. Cue Peter, Paul and Mary for this post too! “When will they ever learn, when will they e. . .ver learn?


      • Pat and Jim, in recent years I have found myself on occasion having to explain to younger colleagues how their gov’t works. They’ve really no idea.

        I swim every day with a woman 21 years younger. When we warm up all she wants to talk about is how it all works. She’s hungry for it – and this woman has two graduate degrees.


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