Tag Archives: Big Brother

Fun fact: Texas legislators regulate dildos

Oh the deliciousness. According to the March 2014 Harper’s Index*:

Maximum number of dildos a Texan may legally own : 5

I guess it isn’t surprising that the Texas Legislature took the time to examine such an urgent issue. The late Molly Ivins . . .

. . . called the Texas Legislature the best free entertainment in Austin. “Naturally, when it comes to voting, we in Texas are accustomed to discerning that fine hair’s-breadth worth of difference that makes one hopeless dipstick slightly less awful than the other. But it does raise the question: Why bother?” she wrote in a 2002 column.

* No linkee – it’s behind a pay wall.

It looks like the villagers* are aboard

Aye aye sir. Now keep me on the Rolodex, ya'hear?

Aye aye sir. Now keep me on the Rolodex, ya’hear?

If there were any doubt at all about corporate (not to mention entirely self-absorbed) media playing the apologist when one’s place in the social pecking order in D.C. is at stake, let this exchange settle it – David Gregory and his cohort are only too glad to jump aboard the USS Patriot. And salute.

“Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked columnist Glenn Greenwald why he shouldn’t be charged with a crime for working with NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Greenwald was on to discuss his source’s Sunday morning flight from Hong Kong to Moscow. (It is unclear where Snowden will ultimately land, though reports have suggested he is headed to Venezuela.) At the tail end of the conversation, Gregory suddenly asked Greenwald why the government shouldn’t be going after him.

“To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” he asked.

Greenwald replied that it was “pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” and that there was no evidence to back up Gregory’s claim that he had “aided” Snowden.

Keep speaking truth to power Glenn. You’re on the right side of this one. (There’s video at the link.)

*And who are ‘the villagers’? See here.

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Jes sayin’

As it is, so it’s ever been.

The massive NSA scoop of Verizon records (and others probably) is well timed – for us

  • UPDATE: Seems this program has been going on for years through two administrations and the authorization is renewed, almost automatically, every 90 days. Some nat’l security reporters point out that this has been reported on before and is the result of the big FISA public debate of a decade ago, but it disappeared from the public conversation. (We really need to do better than this.)

Not all things are the same: not all whistle blowers are honorable, but the tradition of revealing secret government activity to the press . . . that will always be the essential ingredient if the press is to fulfill its most important mission. Our press is charged to:

Speak truth to power

Connor Friedersdorf makes that point today:

The Unknown Patriot Who Exposed the Government’s Verizon Spy Program

In praise of whistle-blowers whose risky disclosures of official wrongdoing make the nation stronger rather than weaker . . .  “The order was marked TOP SECRET//SI//NOFORN, referring to  communications-related intelligence information that may not be released to noncitizens. That would make it among the most closely held secrets  in the federal government”
This leaker is no doubt fully aware he/she has committed a crime but got the priorities exactly right. So to some unknown person – well done.

The national security state: go along now; nothing to see here

A tidy little depository

There is an astonishing and superbly researched in-depth story at Wired Magazine about the one million square foot facility now under construction in Utah for the National Security Agency.

It’s very disturbing. And it’s in full view (well, not exactly full view – the photograph accompanying the story is by “Name Withheld”, suggesting that such stories have consequences) to any media organization that cared to look. Few do.

A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

So much for the outcry and so much for Congress. The NSA moves forward under its own gargantuan authority and can barely be challenged any more.

Your tax dollars at work suckers.

Verizon is watching

On Wednesday I wrote a post complaining about Verizon and just now I find a comment there from . . . Verizon.

Honest. Go look. Don’t quite know what to make of it.