There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit.
To my mind, conservatism is gratitude. Conservatives tend to begin from gratitude for what is good and what works in our society and then strive to build on it, while liberals tend to begin from outrage at what is bad and broken and seek to uproot it.
You need both, because some of what is good about our world is irreplaceable and has to be guarded, while some of what is bad is unacceptable and has to be changed. We should never forget that the people who oppose our various endeavors and argue for another way are well intentioned too, even when they’re wrong, and that they’re not always wrong.
But we can also never forget what moves us to gratitude, and so what we stand for and defend: the extraordinary cultural inheritance we have; the amazing country built for us by others and defended by our best and bravest; America’s unmatched potential for lifting the poor and the weak; the legacy of freedom—of ordered liberty—built up over centuries of hard work.
We value these things not because they are triumphant and invincible but because they are precious and vulnerable, because they weren’t fated to happen, and they’re not certain to survive. They need us—and our gratitude for them should move us to defend them and to build on them.
At least eight people were wounded, including three teenagers, in shootings citywide overnight.
The wars of the peoples will be more terrible than the wars of kings.
Surrounded by sleigh bell-ringing Santa Claus impersonators, Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday signed a law protecting Christmas and other holiday celebrations in Texas public schools from legal challenges - but also stressed that freedom of religion is not the same thing as freedom from religion.
This is a link to pretty much the best story on the NSA panopticon. The key thing is that since the NSA records all the internet thanks to links to the undersea cables, the metadata from the companies helps bring the other stuff together. NSA gets your metadata from Google, and then it can go into your inbox that’s stored into their Internet2. This is clearly a panopticon. The NSA can access anything and everything, ever.
Ok, so what should we think about this?
There’s actually a good argument that…this is actually not a bad approach.
Let’s say you run a country and want to protect its citizens from terrorism. Let’s say you can build a panopticon. And let’s say you sincerely believe in civil liberties.
You’re highly aware of the fact that there is a technological arms race between terrorists and anti-terrorists, and that terrorists have a built-in advantage due to asymmetricality. Technology has evolved such that government can build a panopticon, but technology has also evolved such that a dozen guys can release VX into the New York subway’s AC, sneak a suitcase nuke in Chicago, engineer a weaponized version of SARS, etc.
You’re also highly aware of the fact that the worst thing that could happen to civil liberties would be another dramatic terrorist attack on US soil which would make the political momentum for a police state truly unstoppable.
What do you do?
It seems to me, you build the panopticon. Seems you just have to. It’s panopticon vs suitcase nukes. Civil libertarians reading this will blow a gasket, but really, is that not the choice?
It seems to me you build the panopticon and then you make it hard to access it. You build oversight. You make rules. You have a court oversee it. Has to be a secret court, but there has to be a court.
It’s like assassinations. Sorry, but you can’t fight an effective fight against terrorism without assassinations. You have to assassinate people. The thing you do, however (that Israel does, with great success, but that the US doesn’t, inexplicably), is have a court validate your kill list.
The US also needs to have nukes. We also need to have safeguards around them—legal, hierarchical, technical, cultural.
That, it seems to me, sounds like roughly the right approach, and it also sounds like roughly the spirit of the Obama Administration approach.
If we agree that we need what you might call a limited-acces panopticon, then the problems around the various revelations we have aren’t so much the existence of the panopticon itself, but:
Am I missing something?