Dianne Feinstein fails

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You have to have your head deeper in the sand than the worst Republicans not to have noticed that the federal government has been busted spying on all of us. Pretty much every cell phone call you make, and just about everything you do with social media or email, is being monitored be the National Security Agency to make sure you're not a terrorist. It's a pretty alarming violation of the Fourth Amendment, and President Obama's main response is: Well, it's secret but we told Congress.

The person who would have been the first to know, and the most fully briefed, is Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Intelligence Committee. That body exists to serve as something of a civilian check on the law-enforcement operations that are the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, HSA, and whatever other acronymed spook agencies are involved. From the committee's own website:

"The Commitee was created by the Senate in 1976 to ... provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

Feinstein's a former mayor of San Francisco. She represents the state where most of the companies that are allowing the feds to monitor their servers (Google, Facebook, Yahoo etc.) live. It's her job to keep this stuff in line. And yet: She's defending the snooping, as if there's nothing wrong here at all.

I realize that people should understand that email isn't private, what you put on Facebook might as well be on a billboard on 101 and you have to watch what you tweet. Many lessons have been learned in that regard. And all of us are so excited about our smart phones that we run around the world with mini-GPS locators in our pockets.

But most people still think they can make phone calls without being monitored. And while my trolls love to say "if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about," we all know that's untrue. People are arrested and imprisoned fairly often in this country on suspicion of crimes they didn't commit; when it comes to terrorism, the situation is even worse. And besides: Do you really trust the government to know everyone you've ever called, and from where, and when?  I don't think Obama's a bad person or has any evil intent -- but still. Imagine if it were Cheney.

I'm unhappy with the president, of course, but I think I'm most pissed at my senator. Because presidents always push the limits of their power, and Congress is supposed to be a check on that, and Feinstein is supposed to be perhaps the most important check on potentially the worse expansion of power. And she failed.

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which approves 100% of government requests for surveillance. Even the old Congress of Soviet Socialists had a lower rate of approval than the doddering old fools that make up FISA.

At least Feinstein called for the closure of Guantanamo today. She's been right on that for a long time.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 07, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

Tim is just a hack from San Francisco. Do you think that might help to explain why she might have evolved from her liberal days?

It's easy to be an idealist and a purist when you're not responsible for others but rather make a living from taking cheap shots at those who take risks and accept accountability.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

And when exactly were those days?

Posted by Greg on Jun. 07, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

Everyone seems right-wing to someone as left-wing as you.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 5:48 am

It's not about "me".

Compared to the City of San Francisco, where she's from and where she served as mayor, she's on the far right and she was always on the far right.

Compared to California, she's still well on the right.

Compared to the US, she's only moderately right of center, but that's only because US politics is shifted so far to the right that Americans have no clue what's what.

Compared to just about any other democratic nation, she's again far right.

She'd be a liberal in... I don't know... Turkey? Saudi Arabia?

Posted by Greg on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 9:24 am

We are the most successful democratic nation.

And much of that is due to not being mired in socialism like sclerotic Europe.

DiFi is a Democrat.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 9:48 am

If success is measured by how well ordinary people live, than we are not particularly successful.

If democracy means that the people get to decide the economic and foreign policy of the nation, then we are not particularly democratic.

Ah... blissful American exceptionalism. Must be nice.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 10:31 am

you think is somehow magically different?

Millions of people want to live in America and very few want to leave. That is far more convincing that your usual Anti-America rants and raves.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 10:46 am

I've been in almost every state, and all over the world. So I speak from experience when I say that America is not exceptional. Our people do not have an exceptional standard of living. Our people do not have exceptional freedoms. Our people certainly have a far from exceptional democracy (one of the worst, as a matter of fact). Our people are not exceptionally well educated, or have exceptional health care, or exceptional security, or exceptional social mobility. In many of these areas, we sorely lag behind the countries of the OECD.

We do have an exceptional war machine, and an exceptionally high percentage of people incarcerated, but these are not exceptional in a good way. It's certainly not my idea of "success."

But among American communities, San Francisco is indeed exceptional. I know because I've lived in many parts of this country, and San Francisco is the only part of this country I can tolerate living in.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

America is far more exceptional than San Francisco is.

The fact that you think otherwise just goes to show that if a biased mind travels, he sees what he wants to see.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 5:28 am

You know, first time I really spent time abroad, was as a foreign exchange student in Spain. I came there thinking America was the greatest, most free and democratic country on earth, and I maintained that stance throughout my time there. Even when America committed a horrific war crime that shocked the world. I won't say which one, so as not to date myself, but this happens like... every year, so take your pick of horrible things done by this government that shock the world. At the time, I just shrugged my shoulders and smugly said, "Es un error... oops." The group of teenagers I was with were fuming mad. Man, what a naive asshole I was! It was really only after I came back, that I started to digest a lot of what I'd seen and heard, that I started to evolve. And subsequent experiences only served to further my growth and understanding of the world. So you see, I came to my views over time, and changed them based on what I saw, rather than seeing what I wanted to see as a result of my preconceived notions.

But Ok, you say I'm biased. So tell me, other than having the world's most massive military war machine, and imprisoning more of its citizens than any other country on earth, in what way exactly is America "exceptional?"

Posted by Greg on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 8:12 am

relied on our military for their freedom in WW2 and the cold war. and of course needed our Marshall Aid to rebuild. So I don't have a lot of time for foreigners who quibble - the most powerful nation will always attract a mix of envy and anger. Screw them.

We are much more than the most powerful nation, although that is useful in so many ways. Our culture, media and entertainment is consumed everywhere, our brands and celebrities are icons everywhere, we have the freest of free-market capitalism anyway, and people the word over copy our music, movies, clothes, drink Coke, smoke Marlboro and assume our world view.

I'm proud of that, but there always be outliers like you. And for those, there is always emigration.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 9:15 am

I talk about health care, security, freedom, living standards... and you counter with coke and Marlboro. If this is the best you can do, American civilization is doomed.

In fact, clothing fashion actually originates in Europe for the most part.

Music and movies are produced everywhere; American products get a lot of play just because English is the most known language in the world, and this is the biggest English speaking country. The fact that American audiences are missing out on world music and movies says more about their ignorance than anything else, but I can assure you that the same is not true around the world.

Marlboro and Coke are cancers upon the world, literal and figurative vectors of disease.

And our free market capitalism? What does that get us? Only misery, it seems. Insecurity. Inequality. Poverty. There's nothing exceptional in that.

There's nothing exceptional about the American civilization. It will collapse like all empires did before it. It's actually crumbling as we speak, and you have to be pretty blind not to see that. The question is whether enough people realize that in time. If they do, there may yet be a soft landing for us, like with the empires of Europe which all realized that they need to turn their resources inward to lift their own people. That's the best case scenario.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

so much that they risk life and limb.

While whiners and haters like you stay here, presumably to enjoy your free speech rights to whine and hate.

You could move but you do not. Hypocrit.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2013 @ 7:05 am

I never said America is the worst place on earth, and in fact it's better than some poorer places, like Mexico, which has all the capitalism and none of the wealth. So it shouldn't surprise one that many people cross the border in search of dollars. I'm not comparing the US to Mexico. I'm comparing it to other developed democracies.

As for me... it's difficult for me to leave because of various ties I have here. It's not an easy proposition to get up and move to another state, let alone another country, but I may yet do so at some point in spite of everything. Every time I go to Europe, I want to just stay forever. You want to talk about envy? I don't envy the rich, but I do envy the people I see in other countries enjoying freedom and security we can only dream of.

In the meantime, living in San Francisco makes living in America bearable. It's an exceptional city, which is why I value it so much.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 10, 2013 @ 7:44 am

real problem here is not that America is bad in the way you claim, but rather that you are a misfit here. Most Americans believe they are happier and better off here than Europe, but you are an outlier who thinks the opposite. Just like there are some Europeans who prefer America to there.

We are all different and different folks value different things. But to extrapolate from that and claim that Europe is better just because you think so is flawed thinking.

If you really wanted to relocate, you could despite all the obstacles you claim. But you will not have the same constitutional freedoms in some of those countries. Several nations in Europe do not have the equivalent of our Miranda rights, for instance, and knowing how you hate cops, I imagine you can see the potential for abuse there.

Just because you have a nice time on your vacations there doesn't eman it's a better place to live. You're in a small minority thinking that.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2013 @ 8:06 am

No, it's demogouge.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

"DiFi is a Democrat"

In name only.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 10:37 am

the city didn't have so many out of town progressives telling people here what "San Francisco values' are.

One value according to out of town progressives Avalos is not letting people from out of town move here and tell us how to live.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." -- Lord Acton

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 07, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

I think it's way past time liberals like Tim stopped making excuses for Obama. Cheney isn't the one who prosecuted more whistleblowers than all the previous administrations combined. No, that was Obama.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 07, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

he is about as left-wing a President that the American voters are willing to tolerate.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 9:11 am

Thought this nonsense had been dying down.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 11:46 am

And why is there is nobody in Congress that is truly "Progressive" in the sense that you mean by it.

Outside of the east side of SF and a few college towns, America doesn't do "Progressive".

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

There are progressives in congress, they even have a caucus.

America is actually a liberal country, and always has been.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 9:01 am

I want to quote a couple of passages from the AP mobile app report by Stephen Braun today entitled, "US officials long denied massive data trawling":

"We do not vacuum up the contents of communications under the president's program and then use some sort of magic after the intercept to determine which of those we want to listen to, deal with or report on," then-CIA Director Michael Hayden told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in July 2006.

. . . .

It was not until May 2011, as the Patriot Act again faced another reauthorization, that the NSA's secret programs began to receive cryptic attention from two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado. Hobbled by the classified nature of the secret programs, the two senators offered up only guarded warnings.

"When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry," Wyden said during a floor speech in May 2011. He added: "Many members of Congress have no idea how the law is being secretly interpreted by the executive branch, because that interpretation is classified."

Still hamstrung by the programs' security classification in 2013, Wyden pressed National Intelligence Director James Clapper at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March about the NSA. "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" he asked. "No, sir," Clapper replied. He added: "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect but not wittingly."

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It is hard for me to believe that this is not outright perjury. Wyden was right. I am angry. I hope the rest of America is too. These crimes must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And frankly, it seems highly unlikely that Senator Feinstein was unaware that perjury was being committed and that she had no duty to correct it.

If Congress cannot get honest answers from the executive branch, we might as well throw in the towel and just accept that our Constitutional system is dead. We regularly sentence criminals to death for actions that affect, at most, a family and circle of friends. This subversion of the Constitution is worse than any murder or any act of treason because if left unchecked it would destroy our system of government utterly. It would only be a matter of time before the country ceased to be a democracy.

It's always easy to say such actions are necessary for security. King George's excesses that led to the adoption of the bill of rights were every bit as critical to the security of England's interests. But the accumulation of this type of power, unknowable and uncheckable, leads inexorably to totalitarianism. And, frankly, Senator Feinstein is a co-conspirator.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 8:44 am

They are, er, secret.

That's why Manning is going down, rightfully. And why DiFi, Pelosi, Obama and the other Democrats have put full protection above full disclosure. As Obama said the other days, these leaks help our enemies.

Anyone with a brain knows that phone calls, emails, IM etc. are all essentially in the public domain. So don't correspond anything that you wouldn't want shouted from the hilltops.

You guys are naïve, and this old news.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 9:12 am

What kind of a state is it when essentially everything the government does, it can do in secret, while conversely, everything we as private citizens do is monitored by the government?

It's a surveillance state.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 9:26 am

And others who hate America like . . oh, never mind, you can guess.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 9:49 am

Oh, never mind. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it... as we are currently demonstrating in Afghanistan.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 08, 2013 @ 8:30 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 5:27 am

AQ doesn't come out of the blue.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 8:02 am

When did a bad guy ever not blame someone else?

I'm sure they're pissed about Israel or some other pretext, and blame us.

But that doesn't excuse their behaviour and expressing explicit support for AQ, or rationalizing their behaviour, could easily get you on a list of people to be monitored.

And I have no problem with that.

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