I want to start by saying this is a well considered, thoughtful post about early childhood education.
And I hate it with the burning intensity of a thousand supernovas...
Lemme explain..no wait...let me sum up....
Not because I don't support the idea of early childhood education, or government support for trying it, or any sort of actual policy reason.
I hate because it is an attempt to argue for conservative support for this idea, and THAT idea is tremendously wrong headed and destructive. For the very good reason that conservatives will never, ever support such a program. They are not interested in improving early childhood education. Or public education at all. Or governing. Or anything that isn't burning our institutions to the ground and stomping on the ashes. It treats conservatives like they are a serious group of citizens concerned with the public interest and there is absolutely no reason to believe that. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
I'm sure some of you are saying, "Biz, plenty of conservatives I know would be interested in this idea." I probably know some of them too. Unfortunately, these same reasonable people will vote for a pantheon of zealots and numbnuts who will not only hamstring each other to come out against the idea, but gleefully torch public education in this country at every level if given the chance. Please see Sam Brownbacks run in Kansas as example number one. So whatever reasonable conservatives tell you about their will to engage, its for naught. Running out to vote for the Steve Kings and Louis Gohmerts of this world requires I not spend any time engaging them.
How much mayhem and chaos at every level does the conservative movement of this country have to engage in before well meaning public policy types figure out that these sorts of efforts to convert them based on their public bleating about their governing policy are an absolute waste of time. Worse than a waste, you are contributing to the problem by treating them as anything other than the pure vandals they are.
This is the movement that wants to rip health insurance away from millions of Americans because reasons. Not because it isn't working, or people are not signing up, or insurance companies are going out of business, or doctors are fleeing the country on makeshift rafts to countries without socialized healthcare. Wait, there are no countries worth fleeing to without that. Whatever. They want to blow it up because to do otherwise would be to allow the black President an achievement. And that cannot happen. Reducing the country to ashes would not be too high a price to prevent that.
So just stop. Everybody just stop this right now. Take all that well meaning energy and put it towards beating these people at the ballot box at every level. In every election. All of this we can work with them garbage only empowers them by giving them the opportunity to refuse. They don't want to work with you. They want to burn the institutions of our Republic down to the ground and replace them with some pseudo Theocratic Randian construct of their fevered imaginings. Don't give them the fuel to burn.
So... here we are... almost 2015.
We will not recount the many failings of 2014, other than to say that there were many and they were failings.
No, we are now looking ahead on the Mojowire. The podcast will be launched this year. We are aiming for March at the latest. Also, look for more frequent updating from the editors and some occasional guest spots from some friends of the blog.
The next two years promise to be extraordinary with all the promise and ominous overtones such an admittedly vague prediction portends. And we here, at the 'wire, have made a promise to each other and to our legions of faithful 'wireheads that we will be here to bear witness to it all.
In The Tempest by William Shakespeare, Act II, scene i, the character of Antonio utters the phrase “what's past is prologue." That phrase also adorns the façade of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. It acknowledges that our past holds important clues to our present and future.
Perhaps not in the Shakespearean sense of rationalizing fate and murder, as in Antonio's case from The Tempest, but it tells us that we are never very far from our past. And in fact, that may be nowhere as true than in the seething cauldron of weirdness that is our national politics.
Like Antonio to Sebastian, I do feel like we have been lead -- or are leading ourselves -- to a defining moment for the Republic and that the moment may well be nigh.
The genius of our way of goverment has been the elasticity of our institutions. Some have seen it as a bug, but it really is a feature. It enables an otherwise inefficient, cumbersome and -- at times -- opaque form government to have some flexibility in dealing with a rapidly changing world.
But it feels like the built-in stress points are being stretched beyond the manufacturers recommended load values. The conventional wisdom we engaged to judge how welll our government and society is functioning suddenly seems no longer conventional, nor wise.
We are building to a moment, and it feels, to me at any rate, that we are speeding headlong to a destination, of which we have little knowledge, much less any collective control of.
And, simply, it would be a shame if we here at the mojowire just let the moment pass without trying to get a few cracks at the ball, ourselves.
I make no promises save one: we will call it as we see it, even when we disagree with each other, and we will pull no punches and try to speak the truth as well as we know how.
So in the famous words of our previous radio show: Stand by to stand by while we get ready to pull the pin on this thing...
So in case you are one of the very few people I have not been harassing lately with attempts to get the Mojowire Kickstarter funded, the. Let me bring you up to speed...
With the elections coming up and the madness that is certain to to be the 2016 campaign, this is the best time for us to take the 'Wire to the next level.
So here it is: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/790141644/the-mojowire
We are attempting to raise about $4,000 to relaunch the blog and start a podcast. Now, with about two and half weeks left, we are at $771. My gratitude for those who have already helped with a donation or boosting the signal is immense and cannot easily be put into words.
If you like what we do here, please consider helping us. If you can't contribute, I understand, but please consider helping us spread the word.
Thanks in advance for anything you can do!
One part insecure hipsterism, one part unwarranted condescension, the two defining characteristics of self-professed nerds are (a) the belief that one can discover all of the secrets of human experience through differential equations and (b) the unlovely tendency to presume themselves to be smarter than everybody else in the world. Prominent examples include MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, Rachel Maddow, Steve Kornacki, and Chris Hayes; Vox’s Ezra Klein, Dylan Matthews, and Matt Yglesias; the sabermetrician Nate Silver; the economist Paul Krugman; the atheist Richard Dawkins; former vice president Al Gore; celebrity scientist Bill Nye; and, really, anybody who conforms to the Left’s social and moral precepts while wearing glasses and babbling about statistics.
I personally think that the secrets of human experience can be derived from repeated viewings of Firefly, but to each Nerd his own sacred text. All those people think you can answer science questions with science. Like the impact of too much carbon in the atmosphere or the age of the planet. Haven't they read Atlas Shrugged? sigh...go on..
Theirs is the nerd-dom ofStar Wars, not Star Trek; of Mario Kart and not World of Warcraft; of the latest X-Men movie rather than the comics themselves. A sketchfrom the TV show Portlandia, mocked up as a public-service announcement, makes this point brutally. After a gorgeous young woman explains at a bar that she doesn’t think her job as a model is “her thing” and instead identifies as “a nerd” who is “into video games and comic books and stuff,” a dorky-looking man gets up and confesses that he is, in fact, a “real” nerd — someone who wears glasses “to see,” who is “shy,” and who “isn’t wearing a nerd costume for Halloween” but is dressed how he lives. “I get sick with fear talking to people,” he says. “It sucks.”
Is there anything conservatives cannot turn into a Heresy Trial? Girls, Mario Kart players (really?) and Star Wars posers are stealing my Precioussss..
In this manner has a word with a formerly useful meaning been turned into a transparent humblebrag: Look at me, I’m smart. Or, more important, perhaps, Look at me and let me tell you who I am not, which is southern, politically conservative, culturally traditional, religious in some sense, patriotic, driven by principle rather than the pivot tables of Microsoft Excel, and in any way attached to the past. “Nerd” has become a calling a card — a means of conveying membership of one group and denying affiliation with another. The movement’s king, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has formal scientific training, certainly, as do the handful of others who have become celebrated by the crowd. He is a smart man who has done some important work in popularizing science. But this is not why he is useful. Instead, he is useful because he can be deployed as a cudgel and an emblem in political argument — pointed to as the sort of person who wouldn’t vote for Ted Cruz.
I really like the way he complains about being ostracized and then begins drawing the boundry lines himself. Is Tyson king of the Nerds? It certainly isn't the first coronation I've missed. I was drinking at the bar next door again with my crew, wasn't I? And isn't Joss Whedon king of the Nerds, taking the crown from the betrayer George "Mitachlorians" Lucas? Is it George RR Martin now? I personally have sworn my nerd allegiance to HP Lovecraft. Wait..why is everyone moving away from me on the bench...?
Some elements of geek culture have become mainstream, which gets up the nose of the purist/hipster crowd clutching their comic books and phaser replicas and railing against all the girls ruining their HeMan Woman hater clubs. And believe it, this is really about letting girls into the club for them. This is hardly unique to nerds, its practially a way of life for many music fans. The record store clerk who sneers at your pop music choices (well potrayed by Jack Black in High Fidelity) was known to everyone who frequented a record store back when we had record stores.
Its the same thing. The nerd version in its most virulent form is sexist and occasionally scary. Props to the author for demeaning a legitmate complaint because he must oppose feminists at every turn, especially when they are right.
What this lenghty diatribe turns out to be in part is another flavor of Conservative victimhood. Now its the hipster nerds who are picking on us. A fundamental conservative trope is how lefty/commie/academic/liberal/Democrats look down on us for reading our bibles and how oppressed they are by this.
It also illustrates how Tysons reboot of Cosmos so utterly terrifies them. Completely unable to engage him on the science of climate change and most importatnly, Evolution, they have to churn out a word salad detailing how mean those smart kids are to the god fearing. What do they know, right? Stupid Math nerds...
First and foremost, then, “nerd” has become a political designation.
If it has, it is because of people like the dinks at the National review who have politicized science because it might upset David Koch and the evangelical cranks who cannot accept that the bible isn't a science textbook.
For all of the hype, much of the fadlike fetishization of “Big Data” is merely the latest repackaging of old and tired progressive ideas about who in our society should enjoy the most political power.
It would be nice if you would provide an example of how this works. Invoking Hayak's critique of central planners is a bit rich when you consider that its private enterprise that is producing and using Big Data the most. It would also be nice if you would define what you mean by "Big Data".
Perhaps the greatest trick the Left ever managed to play was to successfully sell the ancient and ubiquitous ideas of collectivism, lightly checked political power, and a permanent technocratic class as being “new,” and the radical notions of individual liberty, limited government, and distributed power as being “reactionary.” A century ago, Woodrow Wilson complained that the checks and balances instituted by the Founders were outdated because they had been contrived before the telephone was invented. Now, we are to be liberated by the microchip and the Large Hadron Collider, and we are to have our progress assured by ostensibly disinterested analysts. I would recommend that we not fall for it. Our technology may be sparkling and our scientists may be the best in the world, but our politics are as they ever were. Marie Antoinette is no more welcome in America if she dresses up in a Battlestar Galactica uniform and self-deprecatingly joins Tumblr. Sorry, America. Science is important. But these are not the nerds you’re looking for.
The Left is tricksy my precioussss... Science is important America, but don't listen to actual Scientists like Tyson. Whose fucking opinons are we supposed to believe are credible about Science? Ted Cruz the appellate lawyer? Sarah Palin the governer and VP candiate? Glenn Beck the shock jock? Tyson has credibilty not because he has lefty/liberal political leanings, but because he is a trained scienctist. Cosmos reflects that view because its a show about science. It only seems like it is slap in the face to some conservatives because they reject that science because it a) liberals believe it and b) for some evengelicals it conflicts with their interpreation of the bible.
And remember, this isn't Kuhn critique of Science as a human construct subject to the same sorts of biases and failures other fields of inquiry are subject to. He isn't arguing there are fact and theories that better fit the evidence and are being ignored. He is bitching that science uses the scientific method exclusively.
And that ultimately is the ball game here. If this guy thinks science has been politicized and Cosmos is just a vehicle for lefty views, then tell us how Tyson gets the facts wrong on Cosmos. Bueller?...Bueller?
Dude won't do that because he knows he can't. Instead, he makes the ultimate victim argument: Even the nerds are picking on us. And not the real nerds, but the cool kids who are posing as nerds, which is even better for them because now its not only the quarterback taking your lunch money and the cheerleaders laughing at your prom proposal, but even the kids from the Astronomy club are punching you in the arm when they see you in the hallway.
So good news Nerds. You are the cool kids now. And you aim to misbehave...
This started as a response to someone in their comment section, but started to run long, so I thought I would set it up here for the general comity to consider.
I generally support Israel and Zionism; probably more than most of my liberal friends. I do believe in a nearly absolute right of self defense for Israel. However, that does not translate into unqualified and unquestioning ratification of everything Israel does, *particularly* with this current Likud-lead coalition government. Their rightwing allies in government are seriously batshit crazy... They could give the Tea Party lessons.
And, frankly, I am not crazy about the fact this is largely being done on the American taxpayers' dime; so the American right can frakin' spare me the "we don't support Israel," nonsense... That's $120 billion since 1949 (unadjusted) and $20 billion just since 2008; the *vast* majority in military aid.
That said, Israel often finds itself in no-win situations.
They have tried negotiation, reparations, repatriation, land-for-peace. These efforts are almost universally met by more violence from either Palestinian extremists with only the most tenuous connection to any cognizable authority or foreign agents acting as proxies for other regional states with their own agendas.
The history and issues involved here are *hideously* complicated - from the early 20th Century homesteading movement, to the Balfour Declaration, post world war(s) European meddling, to the use of the region as proxies in the Cold War, petrochemical politics, etc...
Combine that with the fact that the conflict has become *so* iconoclastic as to verge on pathological, it makes genuine work on solutions for peace all but impossible. Nevertheless, I do support Israel and Zionism. I just think that their current government is taking actions that in the long run serve neither the best interests of Israel *nor* Zionism... Or the United States for all of that.
Dear Movement Conservatives of the Gun Culture,
Can we talk?
I know, I know, any moment now Obama's blue beret-wearing UN Socialist/Muslim/Illuminati/One-World Sekrit Army is coming for your own personl Arsenal-O'-Democracy, but this will only take a couple of minutes...
So I was on Facebook this morning when I came across the following gem:
When the founding fathers wrote the constitution, they intended there to be a revolution every once in a while to keep the idiot scum politicians in line. That's why we will keep assault rifles and banana clips. The last revolution we had in the '60s was peaceful and although it cured some of their problems, it didn't really help the U.S. out in the long run."
This was in response to a new PPP survey that claims 37 percent of Mississippi Republicans would support the Confederate States of America in a Civil War mulligan. Personally, I think 63 percent of Mississippi Republicans were not being entirely honest in their responses...
That not withstanding, this commenter's take illustrates a central thesis informing much of the curent gun culture amongst Movement Conservatives: not only are they the last line of defense against whatever existential threat to the nation they perceive that day, foreign or domestic, from deep in their basement room in their parent's house, but also that the Founders actually intended this condition and specifically planned for this in our national charter.
In fact, if one actually takes the time to peruse the Federalist Papers, along with other writings by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, et al., I think you could make a strong argument that one of their organizing principles for a Constitutional Republic was an intense desire to create a nation where the European legacy of nearly 1,000 years of continual violent political turmoil since the fall of Rome would be finally consigned to the dustbin of history.
Madison, as one of the primary intellectual engineers of the Constitution, was nearly obsessed with the idea of preventing factionalism, and he devotes the bulk of his writing in the Federalist Papers to describing the dangers of living under a threat constant politically-inspired violence and why the Federalists' vision of a republic was the best way to prevent such a condition.
A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. [...]
The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.
Madison -- Federalist No. 10
Madison's dedication to preventing the "instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils," caused by factionalism was an overriding consideration in the creation of a republican form of government.
Hamilton, ever the historian, uses Federalists 6 and 9 (and to a lesser extent 29) to discuss the various failures of European states that had not turned away from violent factionalism and sought something better than depending on arms to determine the direction of government.
A FIRM Union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and liberty of the States, as a barrier against domestic faction and insurrection. It is impossible to read the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions by which they were kept in a state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy."
Hamilton -- Federalist No. 9
The common thread running through many of these commentaries is that any republic founded on the notion that it's safety and stability is dependent on the threat of armed violence from disatissfied citizens is doomed from the start.
So, I am sorry Conservative Gun Culture, but the Founders, even while they did favor private firearm ownership, did not neccessarily contemplate socially crippled gun-humpers as being vital to the security and political survival of the nation. It is, as the actual record shows, quite the opposite.
Whether anyone likes it or not, at this point private ownership of firearms is more-or-less settled law. So relax, neither Obama or the UN are coming for your smoke-wagons...
You want your AR-15 with banana clips? Fine. You wanna run around the woods playing Army Manz until mom calls you in for dinner? Knock yourself out. But remember, those gun rights come with responsibilities as well, and frankly you have not handled those responsibilities very well... If you make anyone's everyday life more dangerous or more of a hassle than it already has to be due to your firearm fetish, well, that's on you. That, too, is pretty well settled law...
So while you have the right to your guns, just know that the Founders, particularly Madison, Hamilton and Jay saw you as the problem, not the solution.
Look, I don't think you are a bad person per se... I don't know you anymore than you really know me, so don't take this personally... but you should really look into an honest line of work.
I hear driving trucks can be a fulfilling experience...
So when you get around to it, pass this up your chain of command. NSA Senior Leadership: YOU SUCK!
All Groklaw ever did was try to explain legal issues to people in a relevant and entertaining style, while being informative. Now I am not saying she was targeted or that she was the victim of some government conspiracy or plot...
No, she is what you people like to refer to as "collateral damage." The kind of "Broken Eggs=Omlettes" thinking that let you generally abuse the rights of your fellow Americans and then sleep soundly at night.
The country that put a man on the moon, wired the world and turned the tide against the most evil and destructive regime ever conceived on this planet did it on the principle of freedom of expression and the freedom to exchange ideas on the Public Common.
So sleep tight knowing that you are systematically and rapidly dismantling 200-some years of the fruits the Enlightenment Era.
Of course, you might want to ask permission from your Zampolit to go look up "Enlightenment Era." For all I know, that might now be considered "weapons grade philosophy."
You want talk about it in person? You know where I'm at; of that I am certain...
“The existence of law is one thing; its merit and demerit another. Whether it be or be not is one enquiry; whether it be or be not conformable to an assumed standard, is a different enquiry.” British Jurist and All Around Swell Thinker John Austin, 1790-1859
I had originally wanted to post this in the immediate aftermath of George Zimmerman's acquittal on homicide charges in Florida, but decided to wait a bit to let my ideas germinate a bit more and for cooler heads to prevail.
See, here was my problem: from my reading of this case, the jury in the Zimmerman matter came to the exact right legal conclusion in finding Zimmerman innocent of murder or manslaughter.
This is the problem: No one seemed to be asking the right question. Although this was the correct legal outcome, why was it the correct legal outcome?
Legal Positivism will inform those who rejoice in this travesty that the law did exactly what it was supposed to. Let us hearken back to the words of Lord Austin: "Whether [law] be or be not conformable to an assumed standard, is a different enquiry."
Without getting too wonky here, the point is simply that in the world of legal positivism the legitimacy of a "law," as a thing in and of itself has -- or should have -- no connection to the social, ethical or moral question it seeks to address.
In that paradigm, a law (or body of law) that says if you start a fight with someone, then start getting your ass kicked, you are then allowed to shoot and kill that person, is a perfectly legitimate law.
The laws as written and applied contained internal logical consistently, were properly posited and promulgated according to custom, usage and standards, were correctly authoritative... and of course, completely insane and untenable in anything resembling a 21st Century civil society.
As you might guess, I find this to be problematic.
When we divorce larger social context from legal writing, this is what happens. More to the point, far better legal minds than I have some fairly choice things to say about legal positvism and its effect on legal institutions.
As a young lad, I spent time under the educational care of the Clan of the Red Beanie (as Charlie Pierce likes to gloss them) and their women's auxilliary unit. And it was there I learned about St. Thomas Aquinas. Well, not really, it was just a passing mention in the eighth grade, but I remembered the name and later picked up the Summa Theologiae: The Treatise on Law, wherein St. Thomas has his own rather complete and deceptively simple-looking definition of "law."
At its essence, Aquinas says that law is a "rule and measure" of human conduct. As I said, deceptively simple; there is a whole context behind that statement that needs examination.
I will not do that here, I will merely paraphrase.
Being that Aquinas is heavily influenced by the classical Aristotelian world view, he is careful to distinguish between an object that has the form of a thing, and that thing's true nature. He applies this concept to law.
Basically, a law that fails to adequately do justice (given his idea that humanity is pre-disposed towards "good.") is not really a law, but merely a thing that looks like a law.
In his long-winded, but good introductory essay to The Treatise, R. J. Henle, S.J.; University of Notre Dame Press (go Irish!) points out the following:
Let us apply this distinction to one of the celebrated arguments in jursiprudence. St. Augustine wrote, "an unjust law seems to be no law at all." St. Thomas repeats this doctrine as do many other Natural Law thinkers. But the retort comes, "this statement is a plain self-contradiction. In the subject 'laws' are spoken of; in the predicate they are denied the name 'law'."
What is the situation? Here is a statute, passed by a properly consituted legislative body, signed by a properly elected or appointed chief executive and promulgated in accordance with some Consitution, Grundnorm or Basic Law. In all these respects it is like any other law.
On examination, however, it is found to be unjust, and therefore, to fail to in a point, according to Natural Law jurists, essential to a law, hence it is not a law.
From St. Thomas's standpoint, it is absurd to try to distinguish what law is from what law ought to be. Of course, civil law can be contrary to what law ought to be. Almost everyone agrees that law is a rule and measure (a standard) of human acts, if law does not have a standard distinguishing what is from what ought to be, if law contains no standard, it cannot be a measure and hence would lack an essential function of law or of Practical Reason."
Like I said, he takes a bit to get to the point, but this is the point. A law, like the one in Florida that allowed this moral, ethical and social tragedy to be endorsed by the state, is not legitimate law in the Thomistic sense, although it completely passes muster in the paradigm of Legal Positivism.
A lot of this comes down to essential belief. I hold the Thomistic view that Humanity is essentially ordered to that, which we call "good." There are reasons to believe this which have little to do with religion in general, much less Christian epistemlogy. The "Nash Equilibrium" is a good example of a mathematical concept of the idea that it is more beneficial for a society to work in concert for a general welfare or a generally agreed upon "good."
American jurisprudence needs to start to address this problem, because if we don't there are forces out there -- the Koch Boys, Sheldon Addleson, Mellon-Scaife, among others -- that take a radically different view of our Enlightenment Era founding documents and ideas and would re-write much of American law in a way that would fundamentally change the relationship between citizens and the state and with each other, with raw power being the only determinant.
Unless we get a handle on this, and I mean, like 10 minutes ago, we might as well just get a sharpie and scrawl the words: "That which pleases the prince, shall have the force of law" over the U. S. Constitution.
Well, this was predictable...
It really was only a matter of time in the current environment. It looks like the Obama Administration is going to take even further affirmative steps to make sure no Americans' personal email is secure from wanton government snooping.
This from the Gray Lady:
The shutdown of two small e-mail providers on Thursday illustrates why it is so hard for Internet companies to challenge secret government surveillance: to protect their customers’ data from federal authorities, the two companies essentially committed suicide.
Lavabit, a Texas-based service that was reportedly used by Edward J. Snowden, the leaker who had worked as a National Security Agency contractor, announced the suspension of its service Thursday afternoon. In a blog post, the company’s owner, Ladar Levison, suggested — though did not say explicitly — that he had received a secret search order, and was choosing to shut the service to avoid being “complicit in crimes against the American people.” [emphasis ed.]
Within hours, a fast-growing Maryland-based start-up called Silent Circle also closed its e-mail service and destroyed its e-mail servers. The company said it saw the writing on the wall — while also making it plain that it had not yet received any court orders soliciting user data.
The other day, the editors and I were placing some good natured wagers on the Shape-Of-Things-To-Come and in the process I suggested to S9 that it would only be a matter of time before we saw a coder actually be prosecuted for just writing a piece of code that might befuddle official state decryption.
While we are not quite there yet, this development doesn't auger well for those who trade in weapons-grade cleverness.
And if you think that these are just a couple of e-drama queens worrying about nothing, you should probably know that the leadership of both Lavabit and Silent Circle are (or were) pioneers of internet privacy encryption. In fact, one of Silent Circle's plank-owners is Phil Zimmerman, the man generally credited with creating the internet encryption standard PGP (or "Pretty Good Privacy").
Zimmerman was even the target of a federal criminal investigation in the early 90s, essentially for trafficking in the aforementioned "weapons grade cleverness."
I will leave it to the redoubtable Dr. Strych9 to bring the real heat on this topic, as he is imminently qualified, and quite safe from extrajudicial interference high in geosynchronous orbit above Bagdad by the Bay on the Mojohaus Sattelite of Love...
Suffice it to say that this is a troubling development and that, tragically, neither our lawmakers nor courts have kept up with the executive branch's nigh on insatiable appetite for the private communications of Americans.
More to the point, those institutions have not kept pace with the development of technology in the application of those laws we already have that should be sufficient to prevent unwarranted government intrusion into our personal lives and relationships.
The Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (remember the Consititution? This is a song about the Constiution...) contain some pretty tight legal writing where our civil liberties are concerned, and equally impressive is the fact that these words continue to be as relevant today as they were 230-some years ago.
I won't rehash their exact wording here; you can read them at the link if you need a quick refresher. Suffice it to say they are pretty succinct in describing the things our government is not allowed to do, among those being jacking our gear, rifling our comms and forcing us to bilge ourselves out to the authorities.
Really, it's not that tough a concept... Unfortunately, the advent of new communications technolgies have created questions that our leadership (for lack of a better word) has not bothered to try to answer. Well, nature does abhor a vacuum, and as such, there are forces that rushed in to fill the void.
But, lest I start to get too far afield here, I will let Ladar Levison, founder of Lavabit have the last word, from his release last week:
“I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot,” he wrote. “This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without Congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States,”