Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Barack Obama and the Ruckus of Doom


Obama spoke to Good Ol’ Charlie Rose about the NSA spying “ruckus,” as he called it, and other subjects.

TRADE-OFFS, NOT SACRIFICE: “we don’t have to sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security. That’s a false choice. That doesn’t mean that there are not tradeoffs involved in any given program, in any given action that we take.” If you’re wondering what the difference is between sacrificing freedom and trading it off, he’s evidently constructing the silliest of straw arguments, that security requires sacrificing ALL our freedom, an argument even Cheney isn’t making. So we’re meant to be satisfied that instead of sacrificing all our freedom, Obama and his merry men are sacrificing some portion of it, the size of which we are not allowed to know. I know I feel better.

He compares NSA surveillance to airport security – “all of us make a decision that we go through a whole bunch of security at airports”. I didn’t know it was voluntary. Also, “ALL of us”? Does HE go through a whole bunch of security at airports?

He says the FISA court is transparent, or the top secret FISA court is the reason domestic spying is transparent, honestly I don’t know what the hell he’s trying to say, but I’d like someone to ask him to define “transparent” for us.

He says the reason the FISA court so rarely/never turns down any requests is because “folks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.” Phew.

AND SHOT SOMEONE IN THE FACE WITH IT? “Dick Cheney sometimes says, ‘Yeah, you know? He took it all lock, stock, and barrel.’”

He talks about being opposed on domestic spying by the left, and how the right under Bush blah blah blah, which is one way of refusing to acknowledge that there is any principled opposition.

Anyway, he says, “all these programs... have disrupted plots”. Disrupted is a usefully vague word, like when he says we’ve broken the momentum of the Taliban, designed to provide no objective criterion on which to judge the success or failure of the surveillance.

On the subject of Syria, he describes the opposition (who he opposes arming “willy nilly”) as “carpenters and blacksmiths and dentists. These aren’t professional fighters.” I don’t know about you, but I’m more scared of dentists than I am of professional fighters, so I don’t know that he’s doing the image of the Syrian opposition much good here. Also, just how many blacksmiths does Syria have?

Here, as everywhere, Obama claims to be upholding the center: “what we’re trying to do is take sides against extremists of all sorts and in favor of people who are in favor of moderation, tolerance, representative government, and over the long-term, stability and prosperity for the people of Syria.” And nothing says moderation, tolerance, representative government, stability and prosperity like rocket launchers.


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