WHAT�S THIS ABOUT? Like any lib, I was somewhat surprised by that Washington Postpoll this morning finding that 63 percent of Americans approve of the NSA surveillance program (and when people were asked how they�d feel if their own calls were being monitored, approval went up by 3 percent!).
WHO IS SPECIALIST? I have to say that I'm growing concerned about the rapid pace with which frequent TAPPED commenter and detractor Specialist manages to put up comments on this blog. What person could have the requisite stamina? Is it possible that the NSA is running some kind of massive blog-trolling program with hundreds of operatives -- or automated computer routines -- unleashed upon the progressive blogosphere to contest our arguments? The American people want to know.
PRIVACY FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE. Many props to the Washington Post who led off their front-page, top-'o'-the-paper story on the NSA scandal with this bolded quote:
The privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all of our activities. We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans. Our efforts are focused on links to al-Qaeda and their known affiliates.
POISONED FRUIT. Perhaps this is obvious, but the thing about the big NSA phone records dragnet is that this gives us the previously missing explanation as to why the administration thought it was so important to illegally wiretap people without warrants. That used to be a bit mysterious -- if the idea was to spy on people with al-Qaeda connections, getting a warrant should have been easy. The problem is that the evidentiary basis for believing the people in question had al-Qaeda connections now turns out to have been illegally obtained evidence from the broader NSA program. And then the problem reiterates itself -- if the listening-in stage of the program reveals anything interesting, you can't use that in a court either.
MORE ON DEAN, AGAIN. Following up on Ezra's contention yesterday that he's not an anti-Deanie meanie, I'd also add that my own thinking on the 50-state strategy is far less negative, as should be clear from this April item, than Kevin Drum suggested:
EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING. Last week I argued that the burgeoning prostitution and bribery scandal involving contractor Brent Wilkes could be used to tie the abuse of women to abuse of detainees in the public mind and create an overall picture of the attitude of the administration toward human dignity. Now Laura Rozen is suggesting those two things have even more in common than a disrespect for human rights:
Medicare and Social Security costs are projected to soar over the next decade as the baby boomers retire. Medicare and road maintenance costs are projected to soar over the next decade as the baby boomers retire.
The New York Times had an article this morning about a new digital copyright law in France. The main features (according to the article) appear to be a requirement that music downloading services be usable on multiple devices (as opposed to Apple's Ipod monopoly) and a relatively small penalty for unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material.
DEBATING VOTE BY MAIL. The Prospect put out a special report this month on Oregon's system of all-mail voting, which is serving as a model for efforts to spread mail voting in other states across the country. We then invited six experts and advocates, including former Oregon secretary of state Phil Keisling and avowed mail-voting opponent Curtis Gans of American University, to debate the issues raised in the report. The ensuing exchange was both lively and, given the subject matter, remarkably heated.
THE COLBERT QUESTION: MADAM LEADER SPEAKS.TNR is to be commended for reviving the epic Stephen Colbert funniness debate for another week. But as James Wood puts it, "[i]t is time -- it is always time -- for some literary criticism." Wood's take is insufficiently pro-Colbert by my standards but insightful nonetheless. (See this post at Matt's place for a choice excerpt.) The Colbert debate living on for another day gives me the excuse to finally mention Nancy Pelosi's comment at a breakfast meeting with journalists that the Prospect held on Friday.