Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I Sense a Pattern...

Some elements of the pattern:

For decades, American businesses have been held liable for the reasonably foreseeable (and sometimes not so foreseeable) criminal behavior of their employees.  So American businesses did the obvious thing: they started making criminal background checks before they hired people.  People with an alarming criminal history would be rejected.  Now the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing two American companies (just the beginning, I'm sure) to prevent them from making pre-employment criminal background checks.  Why?  Because blacks fail these background checks more than others, so therefore the background checks are discriminatory.  Why do blacks fail these background checks more often?  Because they're convicted of crime more often!

Scottsdale, Arizona had (until recently) a thriving pedicab community.  Recently the city passed legislation requiring pedicab operators to carry million dollar liability insurance policies.  This was provoked by a drunk driver striking a pedicab.  These insurance policies cost at least $250 a month – far more expensive than a pedicab business can support.  A Scottsdale policeman expressed surprise about the steep decline in the number of pedicabs.  Similar things have happened in the other major cities of the area.  Never underestimate the ability of government to completely screw small business, and government bureaucracy's cluelessness about business...

A British immigrant to the U.S., here for eight years, says: 'I’m a U.K. citizen hoping soon to become a U.S. citizen, a lifelong admirer of the American project and its founding principles. But after living here for eight years, I’ve started to wince when I hear the expression, “It’s a free country.”'

Senator Lindsay Graham – a Republican – says: 'If I thought censoring the mail was necessary, I would suggest it, but I don't think it is.'  Censor our mail to protect us against terrorism?  Why do I suspect that censorship would not include Senator Graham's mail?

A guy with a large Twitter following is very critical of Obama.  He is careful never to actually threaten him, but the fact that he despises Obama is abundantly clear if you read his Twitter feed.  This is America, and we have freedom of speech; there's nothing wrong (or illegal) about his behavior.  So why am I noting this?  Because this Twitterer was visited in his home by the Secret Service – and they were there only because of his legal, Constitutionally-protected free speech.

So I examine the elements of this pattern, and the result is a single word:


Quote of the Day...

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, explaining why he told Congress (in sworn testimony) two months ago that the NSA didn't intentionally collect any kind of information on millions of Americans:
I gave the 'least untruthful' answer.
Shades of 1984 and doublespeak...

I'm beginning to thing that our national leaders think of us, the American citizenry, as the enemy...

On a related note, here's Bruce Schneier, writing in the New York Times:
And we need to determine how we treat whistle-blowers in this country. We have whistle-blower protection laws that apply in some cases, particularly when exposing fraud, and other illegal behavior. N.S.A. officials have repeatedly lied about the existence, and details, of these programs to Congress.

Only after all of these legal issues have been resolved should any prosecution of Snowden move forward. Because only then will we know the full extent of what he did, and how much of it is justified.

I believe that history will hail Snowden as a hero -- his whistle-blowing exposed a surveillance state and a secrecy machine run amok. I'm less optimistic of how the present day will treat him, and hope that the debate right now is less about the man and more about the government he exposed.