Thursday, July 25, 2013

Open Public Debate 101

Here is what welcoming an open public debate looks like.  From Reuters:
House rejects bid to curb spy agency data collection

(Reuters) - A U.S. spy program that sweeps up vast amounts of electronic communications survived a legislative challenge in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the first attempt to curb the data gathering since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed details of its scope.

The House of Representatives voted 217-205 to defeat an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would have limited the National Security Agency's ability to collect electronic information, including phone call records.

Opposition to government surveillance has created an unlikely alliance of libertarian Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, The House vote split the parties, with 94 Republicans in favor and 134 against, while 111 Democrats supported the amendment and 83 opposed it.

Republican Representative Tom Cotton, who endorsed the NSA program, described the "metadata" being collected as essentially a five-column spreadsheet containing the number called, the number of the caller, the date, the time and the duration of call.

"This program has stopped dozens of terrorist attacks," Cotton said. "That means it has saved untold American lives. This amendment ... does not limit the program, it does not modify it, it does not constrain the program, it ends the program. It blows it up."

Cotton, a former Army captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said a comprehensive set of phone call records was needed in order for the program to work.

"If you want to search for a needle in a haystack, you have to have the haystack. This (amendment) takes a leaf-blower and blows away they entire haystack. You will not have this program if this amendment passes."


But Amash, a conservative Republican, and other supporters of the amendment said the fundamental issue was whether the U.S. government had the right to collect and retain the personal communications data of American citizens.

"Government's gone too far in the name of security," said Representative Ted Poe, a Texas Republican. "Rein in government invasion, no more dragnet operations, get a specific warrant based on probable cause or stay out of our lives."

Representative Joe Barton, another Texas Republican, said the issue was not whether the NSA was sincere or careful in collecting data for use in anti-terrorism operations.

"It is (about) whether they have the right to collect the data in the first place on every phone call on every American every day," he said, noting that the law only allowed collection of relevant data. "In the NSA's interpretation of that, relevant is all data, all the time. That's simply wrong."
Of course, before you get all giggly and Stand With Joe over Representative Barton, he's also this guy:
But good on him for stating his case, plain and clear.

So that's what welcoming an open public debate looks like.

Here is what welcoming an open public debate does not look like (From Charles Pierce):
This is the argument that the White House is making to try and get Democrats not to support Amash's Hail Mary.
"In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens...However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community's counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process."    
The hell you say.

A bill is being proposed and debated in a public session of the national legislature and that's not an "informed, open, or deliberative process." As opposed to what, a secret program, validated on the basis of secret evidence, by a secret court?  Hell, the Amash bill is the only informed, open and deliberative thing about this whole mess. If you're welcoming a debate, then welcome the debate. If you don't, then don't. But don't throw out laughable statements like this one. You sound like a bunch of East Germans.

And, once again, his mad international PR skillz aside, if Edward Snowden had not done what he did, the debate is not happening.
Here is what welcoming an open public debate also does not look like:
All we ever wanted was to get this into the open so that it could be debated.

Terrific!  Could not agree more!  Of course by definition in a "debate" you're going to have people who disagree with you on some things. Maybe a little and maybe more than a little.  Maybe over the boundaries of the argument. Maybe over the importance of this issue relative to other important issues.  Maybe over the scope of the plan you're proposing to meet the need you have identified.  Maybe they believe the disadvantages of your plan outweigh its advantages.  You understand that, right?



JerryB said...

Aw, the euphemisms of government in the 21st century. Open debate apparently means back room deals to prevent public awareness and strong arming legislators into supporting a position using terms like "National Security".

I don't know about you but I feel better now.

Anonymous said...

If we are going to debate things, there are a host of other "problems" that exist only in certain realms of reality that we could be debating:

Proposed: I once received a letter that had been opened. Mail delivery should be banned immediately.

A black man once glanced sideways at me. Let's impeach this President.

Lumpy Lang said...

"And, once again, his mad international PR skillz aside, if Edward Snowden had not done what he did, the debate is not happening."

And, once again, Droneglass puts Snowden's personality 'aside' only long enough to spotlight it - in the subsequent paragraph - as the only subject worth harping about.

In Hegelian terms, one of Droneglass' arguments is Real, while the other merely exists.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Interesting. Where did driftglass even mention 'personality' as an issue, let alone actually name Snowden?

Greenwaldoes talking to the voices in their heads, again. Anything to unleash a gratuitous 'Droneglass', I guess. VICTORY! On to Starubucks for a celebratory mocha frappucino! Mayonnaise enemas all around!

Anonymous said...

Certain other erudite comment sections are now filling with the "Pelosi is a fascist" pitchfork crowd.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us welcome the incoming class of Tea Party house freshman....for 2014.

aaronintw said...

Best Simpsons quote ever
Principal to students "In the interest of fostering an open dialogue, sit silently and watch this educational film."

Anonymous said...


He's quoting Charlie Pierce verbatim.

-- Nonny Mouse

Pinkamena Panic said...

Don't give racist righty scum LL the benefit of being treated as a person.

Anonymous said...


Zombie, Zombie, Zombie....

I have to correct you again: "VICTORY! On to Starubucks"

Every real 'Murican knows that Starbucks is only for Liberal Gay Athei-Jew Socialo-Communist Homosexual Pornographer Democrats. Real 'Muricans go to Chic-Fil-A. Because Jesus hates homos.

Please, Zombie, please, for the sake of everyone's decency, please try to work on your accuracy.



kfreed said...

The end game: "Opposition to government surveillance has created an unlikely alliance of libertarian Republicans and some Democrats in Congress"

Read as "alliance of Libertarians and Democrats" against governement (Obama administration).

The pre-gam manipulation:

"At a talk given the day after the 2010 election — one that was a disaster for Democrats — 'progressive' writer and civil liberties lawyer Glenn Greenwald gave a talk at the University of Wisconsin, and expressed the hope that Democrats might suffer the same fate in 2012.

Greenwald’s speech mainly focused on civil liberties and terrorism policy “in the age of Obama.” But it was his approach to politics that got members of the Young Americans for Liberty — a Paulite Libertarian group that co-sponsored the event — excited:

[QUOTE] The speech was stellar with too many good points to touch on in a single blog post. I would like to point out that in the Q&A at 38:00 GREENWALD SPECIFICALLY ADDRESSES A POSSIBLE ALLIANCE BETWEEN PROGRESSIVES AND RON PAUL LIBERTARIANS (emphasis mine). He also mentions Gary Johnson as a unique candidate with possibly the best chance of bringing this coalition together in a 2012 run for president.[UNQUOTE]"


"Another David Koch project, Citizens for a Sound Economy—which launched the effort to repeal Glass-Steagall protections keeping banks from gambling in securities—helped fuel the fight for “free trade,” an unpopular policy in the 1980s..."

You know who ELSE is associated with Citizens for a Sound Economy?


Here's a nifty Ron Paul/Citizens for a Sound Economy video:
"Irrefutable Evidence Ron Paul Is A Koch Brothers Operative"

This is WHAT Ron Paul is:

"Ron Paul Curriculum Launched by [Christian] Reconstructionist Gary North [author/proponent of "Biblical Capitalism"] and Neo-Confederate Thomas Woods"

No thank you.

This isn't about privacy. It's about undermining government in general and the Obama administration specifically (for the eventual benefit of the Tea party GOP and Rand Paul 2016.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...


MIke Mike Mike.

You are, of course, completely correct about the Liberal character of Starbuck's, corporate monster that they may be.

But this reference was meant to cast asparagus on the Libertarian Purity of Certain Commenters.

gratuitous said...

This gets sooooo confusing. When someone we hate says the right thing for once (like stone-brained Rep. Barton), are we supposed to keep hating that person so as to discount what he said right? Or are we supposed to start a cargo cult based on one non-stone-brained remark?

Please to clarify, because apparently some people are still gnawing on the sour radishes of something Rand Paul said once. I'm not sure where or when these people exist outside of the confines of this website, but as often as they are conjured up, it must be somewhere.