NSA Snooping: I love my country, but…


I fear my government.

And while we’re at it, I don’t trust anybody who draws a government paycheck.

Let me start this with a quote from one of my favorite and most admired people, H.L. Mencken:

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.

On that note, let’s chat about the National Security Agency and the idea that by giving up a little personal liberty we can be secure. Ben Franklin (or Thomas Jefferson) said:

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Since (I’m opting for) Franklin said that there has been an ongoing debate about a “balance” between liberty and security. That’s the heart of the NSA snooping debate. I find the most interesting dynamic in the debate is that very broadly framed, essentially warrantless snooping is most defended by career politicians of both parties. People who don’t agree that the sun rises in the East are in lockstep on this question.

That gives me pause, and again I’ll revert to Mencken:

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.

We do seem to hold politicians in a sort of reverence. We don’t need to discuss either Obama or Bill Clinton (who would likely win in 2016 if HE could run). But we should take a look at “our” heroes, GWB, a few Senators, a handful of House Members and some red state Governors. Do you trust them more than you trust Barack Obama?

I don’t. Not even a little. “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And no man – or woman – is immune. None.

“So Mike, what about the NSA?” Hey, thanks for asking. Last month at this time I’d likely have shrugged my shoulders over the data collection. They got a warrant from the FISA Court. They’re not actually “listening” just looking for patterns and locations from the telephony meta-data. What’s the big deal?

Well, the big deal is that when sun shines on something, the rats and roaches start to run.

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