Posted by Brad @ 11:43 pm on May 23rd 2013

Great Moments in Overambitious Headline Writing

Yes, Josh, that is EXACTLY what that was.

Posted by Brad @ 11:28 am on May 21st 2013

The War on the Press

A lot of the civil liberties abuses happening under Obama originated, by and large, with Bush – things like surveillance statism, torture legalizing, executive war powers including over the life and death of U.S. citizens, dismantling any transparency or accountability, etc. I think a lot of people are inclined to broadly lay the blame for at least getting the ball rolling on those things with Bush, despite it being Obama who has normalized and then escalated all those things. And that’s not wrong, despite it being rather missing the point.

But one pretty spectrum of abuse that really seems borne of this administration in particular is a tightening of the screws on freedom of the press. The Wikileaks witchhunts, the prosecution of leakers in cases where the leaked information is embarrassing to the United States government (not when it is top secret classified information that makes the U.S. look AWESOME), the AP wiretapping scandal that is now unfolding.

But this one may be the most tipping point of them all. The surveillance and now attempted criminal prosecution of Fox News’ James Rosen.

You can get into the details if you want, as it is indeed incredibly creepy.

But stepping back for a moment, here is what is so striking about it.

The government here is threatening a reporter with criminal prosecution for soliciting classified information. Not for publishing something per se or passing along, but for soliciting it.

What was Rosen’s actual conduct here?

He went to the Pentagon and asked a government official about North Korea, and that government official told him that in response to U.N. sanctions North Korea could do some more nuclear tests in protest.

As Gleen Greenwald summarizes:

Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to classified information, nor steal documents, nor sell secrets, nor pass them to an enemy of the US. Instead, the DOJ alleges that he merely communicated this innocuous information to a journalist – something done every day in Washington – and, for that, this arms expert and long-time government employee faces more than a decade in prison for “espionage”.

A Washington reporter went to a government source and asked about North Korea. Said source gave him blaise speculative boilerplate – something with absolutely not classified value, and something that any American citizen could speculate about independently (indeed, would I have been subject to surveillance if I speculated on the blog here that in response to sanctions North Korea could step up nuclear testing? Because clearly, I could have gotten that top secret info from a government source leaking classified speculation!).

Now not only is Kim (the official) possibly being charged with fing spying, but the reporter that sat in his office asking about North Korea can, the government thinks, be charged as a conspirator in that spying.

Think about all that for a moment.

Posted by Brad @ 9:40 am on May 20th 2013

Music Video of the Week

You’ll probably be hearing this one a lot over the summer.

For some reason, these songs that just explode around this time have become total throwbacks in recent years. Cee Lo’s “Fuck You” (Motown), Gotye (Police), Fun (Queen), and now a straight disco track.

Still, daft punk + disco + pharrell = hot summer jam, as the kids say. Or did. Circa 2000. Maybe.

Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers – Get Lucky

You know it’s gonna be big when Brett Domino gets a hold of it this fast.

Actually, there’s already a lot of covers and kooky videos cropping up on Youtube, many of which are quite good.

And of course the great thing about Daft Punk – infinite loopability!

Although this song hitting it big makes me wonder if Chromeo was just ten years too early…I mean besides being twenty years too late. (seriously, if you like this song, check out Chromeo, who owns this sound).

Posted by Brad @ 1:37 pm on May 14th 2013

Is this wheel turning too?

Obama has long declared himself head of the most transparent administration in history, and while pretty much nobody ACTUALLY believes him it still remains a kind of gut instinct that they are at least trying and better than the Bush administration. That gut instinct is, of course, wrong, but you can almost nowhere find an Obama voter willing to drum up the same outrage on any given Obama secrecy transgression as they would have for a Bush one that was half as important. And I don’t just mean partisan liberals – I mean your casual political watchers (indeed, even particularly them).

I have already gone on record stating that I don’t care about Benghazi, and I still mostly don’t, but the hearings this week have done a little more damage than I may have given the issue credit for, in large part because it’s capped a Chinese water torture* of pretty bad news, much of it that may be really forcing people to do a gut-check on that aforementioned instinct. And actually, I think you can trace it back farther – just the drip drip drip of revelations that you could maybe rationalize away individually in a vacuum, but over time becomes a little too much cognitive dissonance to handle. The IRS putting administration rhetoric to the road in targeting Tea Party groups and conservative 501c4s (it’s not paranoia if they really ARE out to get you), new news that the Justice Department has been secretly collecting the phone records of AP reporters and editors – even just stupid one-off examples like this (which is neither stupid nor one-off but you know what I mean).

In fact, I’d have a hard time arguing with the following statement:

Under Obama, the powers of the federal government over your life have expanded, and its transparency has contracted, more than during any other presidency in modern American history.

Which even people who could be debated into eventually agreeing with that statement as a point of fact still don’t necessarily internalize or at least would be unwilling to concede without a lot of excuse-making, flailing mitigations, or “yeah butting”.

But this week, to me, feels like maybe the damn is starting to break a little.

*which is legal under the Obama administration for reasons they won’t disclose and which you’ll get amnesty for if you did it before the Obama administration or presumably after.