Jeff Bryant, writing at the OurFuture blog, reminds us that "Breaking Government Hurts Children, in unsafe drinking water, bad public schools, and other ways. And of course the kind of person who'd run Gateway into the ground and then run Michigan into the ground would never say he wants to hurt children -- he'd say he just "does what he has to do," which is cut costs (and services, though he'll avoid saying that, too). And we tolerate this from those "entrepreneurs" who constantly tell us they are our boldest and brightest.
Jennifer Granick, writing at the Just Security blog, reminds us that oversight of government surveillance should be "President-proof," by reminding us how well all the "layers of accountability" worked when George W. Bush was President. If you heard me argue, back in the old days, that you should oppose warrantless wiretapping if you're OK with George W. Bush doing it but not OK with Hillary Clinton doing it, because all it takes is one bad apple to wreck a country, then you'll likely find the sentiment quite sympathetic.
Saudi Arabia sentences well-known journalist Alaa Brinji to five years in jail, an eight-year travel ban, and a five-figure fine -- for a handful of twitterings supporting a woman's right to drive, among other good causes. Naturally, using Twitter wasn't the charge -- actual charges included "insulting the rulers of the country," "accusing security officers of killing protestors," and the ever-noxious "violating cyber-crime laws." And this nation of weak rulers who routinely imprison and kill dissenters is our ally! Just like Turkey, which is closing newspapers and oppressing the only folks successfully resisting ISIS as we speak.
Ho hum, a Ted Cruz national security "advisor" tells the world she thinks we should emulate Joe McCarthy in preventing ISIS infiltration into our government, or something. Let the record show that the Republicans' "establishment" candidate for 2016 endorses the notion that Sen. McCarthy conducted anything but a witch hunt in the 1950s. Besides which, how much infiltration will ISIS ever need to do if we're going to respond to their attacks by repressing our own citizens?
April Glaser, writing at Wired, describes "How the Rich and Powerful Use Tech to Silence Activists." Sympathetic as I am (obviously!) to the good that social media can do, I also remember that when a million good Iranians took to the streets to protest the results of the 2009 elections there, I cautioned the smartphones-are-game-changers crowd that the state has smartphones, too. And it has worse -- not just technology like the Stingray, but "low-tech" controls like ag-gag laws.
Finally, Pope Francis shames world governments by washing the feet of a dozen refugees. At least, world governments would be shamed, except that in our sick, immoral, and decadent society, it's OK to deflect such deserved shame by, say, calling the Pope a Communist. Rhetoricians call such an attack an ad hominem attack -- it's more popularly known as a personal attack, ad hominem literally meaning "to the man" in Latin. Folks then say such attacks are "just opinions," but until such opinions' holders demonstrate they can argue their way out of a paper bag (i.e., by pointing out exactly where the Pope has advocated complete central planning by the state or constant police surveillance of the citizenry, two actual attributes of Communist states), such opinions deserve no respect merely because they exist.