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Mon Jun 10, 2013, 04:05 PM

The art and theory of giving the governor a harrumph

My bet is, a certain car thief we've all grown to loathe is going to schedule Official Congressional Hearings on the NSA data-mining scandal. Unfortunately for him and maybe also for us, the administration has an iron-clad defense against Issa's latest grandstand: "Y'all SAID we could do it...oh, about thirty times..."

I have said this so often it's ridiculous, but it's time to say it again: The problem is almost never what people aren't allowed to do. It's what they ARE. The whole economic meltdown happened because our wonderful Congress decided the bankers could behave and repealed the parts of the Glass-Steagall Act that forced them to act responsibly, as just the first thing that came to mind. Thanks to our 100-percent-owned Congress, anyone who wants to fuck the consumer, fuck the taxpayer, fuck the brown people, erase privacy, or whatever they feel like doing either can legally do it now or can find someone willing to write legislation that allows them the freedom they desire.

The first step in correcting the Scandal Du Jour is root-cause failure analysis: Americans think there's a terrorist under their bed and a second one in the closet. Because OMG Al Qaeda Is Going To Kill Me This Morning!!!! we've decided to let the government do whatever it feels like, and what they feel like doing is tapping phones, demanding your library records, monitoring your credit card transactions and otherwise becoming Big Brother. Right now Markus Wolf, the East German spymaster, is looking up from hell and going, "damn, I wish I could have gotten away with half that."

We are not going to fix this problem through congressional hearings and impeachments. We are not going to fix it through nasty newspaper editorials. The first and most important fix is for the American people to realize there is no terrorist in the closet. There are terrorists in the world, true, but most of them stay close to home - and home for most terrorists is either southern Europe, subsaharan Africa, or the Middle East. Once we have agreed that normal vigilance, and not feel-bad measures like wiretaps and gropings, will take care of the handful of terrorists we've got in this country, we can unravel the police state George W. Bush built.

Otherwise, the leak of the NSA data-mining tasking memo will not be the last invasion-of-privacy shock.

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