❄ Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2014

Lessons Learned?

What’s on my mind? Atrocity. Complicity. Lebanon in the summer 2006. This is not a bad time to remind ourselves what happened that summer eight years ago, as Condaleezza Rice fiddled while Lebanon burned. More accurately: fiddled in order to give Israel time to lay waste. Here are three posts from 2006 that are particularly á propos today.

[I] http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/uncategorized/❄-unifil-deaths-in-lebanon-i/

[II] http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/uncategorized/❄-lebanon-ii/

[III] http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/uncategorized/❄-lebanon-iii/


❄ Is NSA’s Surveillance Good For Us?

Welcome to a Public Conversation: Is NSA’s Surveillance Good For Us? In the National Interest? In the Public Interest?
Tuesday, 22 October, 7-8.30 pm, Bryant Memorial Library, Cummington, Massachusetts. Introduction: Bruce D. Larkin, Professor Emeritus of Politics, University of California at Santa Cruz. Moderator: Mark de Maranville.


After a 10-minute introduction, summarizing NSA practices, the floor will open to a public conversation on the evening’s topic. For example:

[1] To what extent, and in what ways, are secrecy and surveillance in the public interest?
[2] What is being done (and what is not being done) by Government—NSA, FBI, DEA, USPS—that has caused the present hullaballoo? What is the present controversy about?
[3] What’s at stake? Does NSA’s surveillance have effects on any of us? On people we know? On the public beyond our circle? On the Republic?
What activities have been acknowledged by the Government or are evidenced in the documents reported from the Snowden trawl?

There are any number of other questions that might interest people:

1. Could Congress usefully address this issue? Any sign it will?
2. Does NSA’s reliance on secrecy preclude any effective government/public oversight?
3. How is the plain language of the Fourth Amendment diluted by the ‘foreign intelligence exception’, invocation of ‘national security’, the history of court approval of ‘trap & trace’ and ‘pen registers’, the mere formality of wiretap approval, the fact that wiretap authorization can be obtained in an ex parte proceeding in which the person whose property is searched or seized is not represented?
4. Given the massive commercial collection of information about us—rarely challenged—why are people reacting to the Government doing it?
5. Why is so much emphasis given to whether the person whose email is collected is a citizen rather than a foreigner abroad? [How would the US react if a foreign government was systematically collecting the telephone conversations of people in the United States?]
6. Can the US conduct normal diplomacy with people who believe their embassies are bugged and their conversations intercepted?
7. Experts say encryption is key to safe and reliable transactions (commercial, banking, private). But NSA is alleged to be subverting or circumventing encryption. How are we to understand this contradiction?
8. Does it make sense that the PATRIOT Act provides for administratively-approved ‘national security letters’ compelling that ‘business papers’ be turned over to the FBI or NSA … but that the people to whom these orders are given are forbidden to tell anyone about the order?
9. Should Snowden be given immunity from arrest/incarceration? or should possession of documents not formally declassified be criminalized (as one person in the UK has proposed), even if they are on the Net?

[Bruce’s Blog: 2013.10.17. Post A43. Short Link: http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/?p=494. Front Door Index: http://blog.learnworld.com/. Permalink: http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/uncategorized/❄-is-nsa-surveillance-good-for-us/]

❄ Christie: “For our ideas to matter … ” Ideas?

❄ Christie: “For our ideas to matter … ” Ideas?

The Republican politician Chris Christie spoke to a gathering of party faithful this summer, and said (in part):

We are not a debating society. We are a political operation that needs to win.

I’m in this business to win. I don’t know why you’re in it.

I think that we have some folks that believe that our job is to be college professors. Now college professors are fine, I guess. You know, college professors basically spout out ideas that nobody ever does anything about. For our ideas to matter, we have to win, because if we don’t win we don’t govern. And if we don’t govern, all we do is shout into the wind. [Note 1]

How would I respond to your asking me “what could I do?” A good starting point would be to take Christie’s insight seriously, recognize that the Republican Party is discredited, and replace career obstructionists with good-faith legislators.

“What is the difference between Republicans and Democrats?” you ask. Democrats are not saints, and they consider—as they must—reelection and their futures. Having said that, we can tell Republicans from Democrats by how they cavort in Congress. Democrats believe the aim is agreed—form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty—and that differences about the best ways to do this invite collaboration among good-faith legislators, whatever their party. Inclusion and collaboration. Republicans believe that the only good government is one they control, that obstruction of public servants is good public policy, and that they will prosper from unbridled selfishness. Exclusion and obstruction. [And to Republicans who might say “no, no. That’s wrong, that’s not why I’m a Republican” I suggest listening to Mitt Romney’s characterization of the 47%, and Boehner’s threats to prevent the United States from meeting obligations Congress has already approved.]

[Note 1] Quoted by Maureen Dowd, “Less Bully, More Pulpit,” The New York Times, 28 August 2013, citing Politico as her source.

[Bruce’s Blog: 2013.08.28. Post A42. Short Link: p=463. Front Door Index: http://design.learnworld.com/. Permalink: http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/uncategorized/❄-christie-for…o-matter-ideas/]