“America No Longer a Functional Democracy “

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.

  1. The Missoulian article doesn’t give any hint about why a John Lewis candidacy would be a bad idea.

    Care to expand?

  2. JC

    Jonathan Turley picks up on the Carter statement at Spiegel, and builds on it:

    “…our governing class has created a new American Animal farm. Long ago, American politicians adopted a type of dismissive paternalism toward the public as shepherds to so many sheep. Then one sheep [Edward Snowden] goes and spooks the flock. The response has been bipartisan rage that has included demands to cut off aid to entire nations if they grant sanctuary to this whistleblower and even boycott the Olympics. The shepherds want Snowden made into mutton for stampeding the flock and no measure appears too extreme. Now Jimmy Carter has entered the fray and said what many citizens are saying in denouncing our duopoly. Carter told Spiegel “America has no functioning democracy.” Of course, you have to live in Germany to read such views….

    Carter’s voice at this moment is incredibly important. Most media has ignored such criticism of Obama and his authoritarian powers. Even the story on Carter has been given limited attention and only because smaller blogs have continued to spread the word. We are living in the greatest crisis of civil liberties in our history and the public is facing a unified front of all three branches against efforts to deal with erosion of the rights of citizens in this country. The question is whether the public will finally awaken to this peril. Carter’s courageous voice could not have been heard at a more critical time for this nation.”

  3. JC

    Great interview of Glenn Greenwald by Juan Gonzalez at Democracy Now about yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee Hearing:

    “I’ve been writing for years about the fact that civil liberties abuses and excessive government invasions are really the issue that can bridge the ideological gap and create these transpartisan, transideological coalitions more than probably any other. And then you’ve seen this over the past 10 years. The ACLU has long partnered with right-wing groups like the Christian Coalition to challenge the PATRIOT Act. And I think what you’re seeing is lots of support for Mr. Snowden and for our NSA reporting on the left, groups like Amnesty International and the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, lots of liberals and progressives who have been outspoken in their support of these disclosures, but you also see a lot of support for it on the right, as well, from people who take seriously their rhetoric about limited government and the rights of individuals and the need for safeguarding individual privacy.

    …the only people at this point who are defending the NSA are the hardcore neocons in the Republican Party, people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain and the like, who see national security as the only value that matters, and the really hardcore Obama loyalists and Democrats, who defend anything the Obama administration does and have become the loudest proponents, ironically, of the massive secret surveillance state and of the government’s power to listen in. So those two groups—Republican neocons, Democratic Party loyalists—are at this point the only real defenders the NSA has left.”

    • Dave Budge

      If you guys woulda listened to me an helped elect Romney we would be in far better shape insofar as he wouldn’t have the support of Dem party loyalists and the media would be on this stuff (instead of the Snowden’s motivations) like white on rice. Furthermore, you can’t really say with any seriousness that Romney would have been any worse at protecting the 1% now can you?

      From now on I’m going to support the candidate that the press will badger the most.

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