Archive for July 17th, 2013

by lizard

It was recently reported on Spiegel Online that former president Jimmy Carter said this: America no longer has a functioning Democracy.

Not that Americans are paying attention.

Congress, though, is displaying a faint pulse, and good for them.

Today it even approached lively as the deputy director of the NSA disclosed how his agency fans out 3 hops from suspected terrorists instead of the previously (known-to-Congress) 2 hop. From the Guardian piece:

The National Security Agency revealed to an angry congressional panel on Wednesday that its analysis of phone records and online behavior goes exponentially beyond what it had previously disclosed.

John C Inglis, the deputy director of the surveillance agency, told a member of the House judiciary committee that NSA analysts can perform “a second or third hop query” through its collections of telephone data and internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations.

“Hops” refers to a technical term indicating connections between people. A three-hop query means that the NSA can look at data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.

Today’s disclosure happened because Edward Snowden decided to become a whistleblower.

We will of course continue to have elections in which a really discouraging percentage of voters go through the hassle, and that hassle will be escalated and racially deployed.

And elections will continue to matter. In Montana, we experience the most direct impact from the decisions made by our state legislators, like ideologues punishing their constituents by killing Medicaid expansion. But top ticket political fights usually take up most of the oxygen in the room.

I don’t know what kind of fight Max Baucus’ aide, John Lewis, could bring to a Senate run, but this article indicates the idea is being floated out there. That is a really bad idea.

Another bad idea, Liz Cheney. That said, what her run may represent is fascinating.

Chris Hayes discussed the Cheney run as a proxy war between neocons and the Rand Paulians, who garner libertarian street cred by criticizing the interventionist consensus of neocons and liberal hawks.

I’d like to write more on the Libertarian angle, but my mom recently unearthed my old collection of space Legos, and I’ve been spending an embarrassing amount of time the last few days. So, gotta go.

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