Open Thread for a Tuesday that feels like Monday, May 26, 2015

Some tidbits from here and there:

  1. British pub’s ‘Ye Olde Fighting Cocks’ name challenged by PETA — Get this: “they want the pub to change its name to Ye Olde Clever Cocks, ‘in recognition of society’s growing compassion for animals and in celebration of intelligent, sensitive chickens.'” Really. So help me out: Where’d we get the term, “birdbrain?”
  2. China to Expand Navy Amid U.S. Tensions — Just FYI, y’all.
  3. Charter Agrees to Acquire Time Warner Cable — Just in time for the death of cable as we know it. By the way, speaking of companies time has passed by, did you know that MapQuest still exists, and is profitable?
  4. RNC rolls out mini-mockumentary video ahead of Hillary visit — OK, I laughed, a little bit, just because at the moment I’m waiting to find out whether I’ll be approved as one of the few media types allowed to cover her appearance her Wednesday. Here’s hoping posting this doesn’t knock me out of the running, right?

37 thoughts on “Open Thread for a Tuesday that feels like Monday, May 26, 2015

  1. Doug Ross

    I see that $7.9 million dollars of the Richland County penny tax is going for the Saluda River Walk. Among the many lies told in selling the penny tax was that the money would go to fix the alleged crumbling roads that were causing hundreds of dollars per year of damage to cars.

    As usual, when it comes time to prioritize spending other people’s money, the funds don’t go for priority items but for bells and whistles and assistance to developers who are well connected to the politicians who make the decisions.

    There isn’t a valid reason to spend the money on a walkway when our roads are supposedly “crumbling”. The public has been duped again by the phony liars who hold office in the city and county.

  2. Doug Ross

    And nothing on Rand Paul effectively killing the NSA’s data gathering? Too bad there isn’t a Democrat with the same principles.

    And what about Gomer Lindsey Graham making a fool of himself twice already on the campaign trail? Claiming that all Iranians are liars and saying that he knows any Arabic entity that begins with the word “Al” is bad? “Al” means “The”, Lindsey. If we needed a buffoon to reinforce the stereotype of South Carolinians being biased morons, he’s certainly filling the role well.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “effectively killing the NSA’s data gathering?”

      One certainly hopes that’s not the case, although we do seem to have a bit of a muddle on our hands. Rand Paul’s passionate opposition to this useful program reminds me of a favorite passage from Yeats that I’ve quoted here before:

      Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…
      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.

      While the NSA program is harmless, and makes perfect sense, it’s supporters just aren’t nearly as passionate as are those who have a cow over it.

      1. Doug Ross

        Or maybe the supporters can’t find a loophole in the Constitution that would allow it.

        Not that I don’t think for one second that the NSA will continue to do whatever it wants to do whenever it wants to do it. But at least Paul is willing to stand up to them.

          1. Doug Ross

            It’s that sort of blind patriotism that leads to the problems we have today…

            The NSA has never done anything wrong. No torture, no spying on our allies, no money funneled to questionable people in foreign countries.

            The NSA cafeteria serves only hot dogs and apple pie.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            It’s not patriotism so much as pragmatism. And why do you assume it’s wrong to keep tabs on allies, or to pay people who are useful in gathering intelligence? The Confidential Informant is a staple in law enforcement, is it not? Are those people all lambs?

            OK, Bubbles on “The Wire” is a good guy at heart, but how about Omar?

              1. bud

                The FBI recently reported that zero terrorist plots have been spoiled by the NSA program. Time to end this abhorrent program.

      1. bud

        Wow. That video makes Lindsey look really, really bad. Good thing he’s polling at about 0.5%. That’s about half of Carly Fiorina.

    2. Phillip

      Doug, there is “a Democrat with the same principles” as Rand Paul on NSA and government surveillance: Bernie Sanders.

      1. bud

        I like Bernie. I don’t think he’ll win but he’ll do better than most of the pundits suggest.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I don’t know. I’d like to hear how his plan for seizing the means of production and distribution is going to affect his strategy for getting through Super Tuesday.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    Seems like we could have the program modified so it simply captures the data and has it available for some short period of time, say six months. Any time in that six month window, if the government goes before a judge and shows good cause as to why they need specific information, they can go get it.

    The government doesn’t just get to look through all the data at all times. It would have to go before a Court with specific reasons to look at specific data. If the Court agrees, then they can. If not, then the Court could limit what is reviewed, or the Court could just say “No.”

    We’ll just agree to keep all the data available for a little while in case we need it.


    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      But… why not hang onto it?

      One of the great things about the internet and digital storage is that it is so easy to archive things in a form that makes them accessible in the future.

      I’m all the time making connections — running into something that reminds me of something I saw a month ago, a year ago, 10 years ago. And I can go out and get it right away, which for a blogger is wonderful.

      So you’re saying that, in the interest of compromise, we set an arbitrary date. So that in the future, if some piece of evidence suggests a plot that a search of the data from nine months ago would help complete the picture, we just wouldn’t have it any more? That doesn’t make sense…

      Help me understand why, from the perspective of someone concerned about privacy, it’s better that the data only be kept six months. Instead of seven, eight or nine months — or 10 years. I need to be walked through that logic because I don’t understand people’s problems with it anyway.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        To put it another way, you say: “We’ll just agree to keep all the data available for a little while in case we need it.”

        What if the moment we need it is seven months later?

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I’m not tied to six months. I just kind of picked it. But your point makes sense. However, I think it would be helpful to have a bright line, to assuage the fears of people who don’t want information out there held in perpetuity. Personally, although it would make me a little uncomfortable, I wouldn’t have an overwhelming objection with holding on to the data in perpetuity if you still forced the government to make a showing before a court or tribunal.

          I’m sure the experts in counter-terrorism, cyber-terrorism, etc. could probably tell us with some degree of certainty how long it would be reasonable to hold information. I’d be willing to defer to them.

      2. Doug Ross

        Rather than fishing around in the vast data pool and coming up with false positives, I’d rather they target specific people with warrant-based searches that are tracked. Keep all the data you want from those activities as long as there is a record of who requested what of whom and when.

  4. Bill

    My neighbor was hacking my computer and using my internet through a wi-fi
    connection.Who cares about the NSA ?

  5. bud

    2. China to Expand Navy

    Here we go again. The Neo-cons are gearing up for more scary stories from the other side of the world so we’ll have yet another bogeyman that needs a huuuuge military to defend against. Will the fear mongering never end?

    1. Mark Stewart


      Have you followed China’s military build-up and geopolitical maneuverings over the last two decades?

      We are back to a two Super-Power world order. Instead of the evil empire of the Soviet Union – a vast unknowable and insular hermit kingdom – we now face a far more difficult situation as our trading partner is also our political foe. For both the US and China each nation’s strengths are also its weaknesses.

      We are truly entering a new era. The Chinese senses that. Do we? Can we develop a long-game strategy and unite ourselves and our allies to address this emerging power’s empirical asperations?

      We need 21st century thinking here. A lot of the old ways of viewing the world and operating within it are going to have to be shed. We need to develop strategies and outlooks that flow from our core ideals. We need to recognize a new chapter in world history has begun – did begin while we weren’t paying attention.

      1. Phillip

        Mark, China’s muscle-flexing seems to be mostly confined to the South China Sea. While these are issues of significant concern (especially the farther reaches of those maritime territorial claims), I don’t know of any record over the past 5000 years of Chinese civilization of any “aspirations to empire.”

        21st-century thinking is needed, for sure, but let’s make sure that in our dealings with China we see them and their motivations as clearly and objectively as we can, and not ascribe motives to their actions that are not justified by facts, by history. There is no Chinese equivalent to the massive US military presence on their doorstep. I don’t say that to argue about US imperialism (that’s another topic entirely) but just to offer perspective, that China’s chest-puffing re the South China Sea does not necessarily mean that they are some rising superpower monster seeking to take over the world.

        1. Mark Stewart

          I wasn’t implying that super powers are monsters seeking to take over the world. Do you mean to imply that about us?

          China is clearly a global super power. We should approach our strategic thinking about them from that perspective. I would agree with the characterization of China as a historical construct most interest in dominating its region rather than as a Western colonial power intent on spreading its wings across the globe. There are clearly differences; just as the US is different than the European powers it has supplanted.

          However, if we continue to marginalize China in our thoughts and activities than we will one day run into something we haven’t prepared for – a super power willing to push back, and most likely asymmetrically. The West is too disparaging of China; they have learned from their history and the question for us is will we learn from their present?

          China doesn’t willingly play by “our” rules. The rule of law means very little to the Chinese power structure. That’s both a threat to the West and an opportunity to exploit.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Wait, was that dismissive? Yes, it was. Sorry, Phillip… It’s just that since Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there’s been little out there to support the notion that the United States.

            Being a hegemon with complex obligations around the world is not the same thing…

              1. Brad Warthen

                No, it wasn’t. And of course these events point to a bid for mere regional hegemony.

                But they are just part of the overall pattern of GLOBAL moves by China as they build up their (nonmilitary) influence in Latin America, Africa, the Mideast, etc.

                Just as the U.S. can’t help being entangled all over the world, big as it is, China will before long be the world’s biggest economy. Unlike us, they have a plan for how they want that world to be. Totalitarian regimes can make such plans, and follow through on them, far better than liberal democracies can. But I wish we could at least THINK about it more…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I didn’t have time to stay and hear her, though. Had to run back to the office and get some stuff done before the Clinton event, which is going to take a bigger chunk out of my day than I can really afford…

        But hey, I mostly go to these early-contest events to get pictures to use for my blog later in the campaign. That’s why I went to the GOP convention recently, and it’s why I’m going to see Hillary today. So as far as Fiorina is concerned, for now, mission accomplished without even trying.

        The odds against any of these people saying something truly worth writing about at this stage is fairly slim. If they do, the traveling media are 1,000 times more likely to be there when it happens than I am…

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