Welcome to the Era of Unlimited Government!

What Obamacare and the latest NSA scandal have in common.

This article appeared at The Daily Beast on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. Read it there.

It’s a telling coincidence that the latest scandalous revelation about the National Security Agency (NSA) is hitting the front pages just as the enrollment period specified by the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare) is getting started.

Each of these things underscores different but related aspects of the virtually unlimited state that has ruined the peaceful slumber of libertarian-minded Americans for decades. Whether we’re talking about surveilling citizens without any sort of serious legal oversight or forcing them to participate in economic activity in the name of health care über alles, the answer always seems to favor the growth and power of the state to control more and more aspects of our lives. Is it any wonder that a record-high percentage of Americans think the federal government is too powerful?

In an explosive story, The New York Times detailed the ways in which the NSA, which was originally supposed to spy on communications among foreign agents and provide intelligence on threats posed by noncitizen actors and governments, is increasingly focused on domestic activities. Since 2010, according to an NSA memo obtained by the Times, “The agency was authorized [by officials in the Obama administration] to conduct ‘large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness’ of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier.”

Through a process known as “contact chaining,” the NSA is able to suck up all sorts of email addresses, phone numbers, social-media-network information, and more without regard to the physical location or citizenship of each data point. The agency, reports the Times, then “enriches” that metadata “with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information,” and more. The result, as George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr puts it, is “the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect.”

The only restriction on the practice appears to be that the NSA must make a claim that their data-gathering serves a foreign-policy justification. Which is never a problem for the agency since, as a spokesperson told the Times, “All of NSA’s work has a foreign intelligence purpose.” While it’s clear that the contact chaining results in vast webs of information that rope in Americans completely uninvolved in terrorism, the NSA refuses to divulge any relevant numbers or incidents.

The NSA originally sought such unrestricted use of metadata and other information involving Americans back in 1999 but was rebuffed due to concerns that it was not legal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which governs the agency. Legal opinions within presidential administrations—and after the 9/11 attacks—change, though, and there’s some indirect evidence that the NSA may have engaged in contact chaining during the Bush years. Despite his stated interest in protecting civil liberties, Barack Obama has disappointed even his staunchest defenders when it comes to constitutional limits on executive power and the surveillance state. Indeed, he has upped the ante from the Bush administration by claiming not simply the right to hold U.S. citizens indefinitely without charging them but the right to unilaterally kill them.

The one thing we know from past experience is that the NSA has consistently abused its powers. During the Vietnam War, for instance, the agency routinely intercepted communications outside its legal purview and ran an illegal operation known as “Minaret” that spied on anti-war figures ranging from boxer Muhammad Ali to syndicated humorist Art Buchwald to Sen. Frank Church (D-ID). The latter would chair hearings in the 1970s exposing massive illegal and improper actions by the NSA, FBI, and CIA, giving rise to FISA, which was passed in 1978. In 2008, ABC News reported on NSA operatives listening in on and sharing recordings of phone-sex calls between U.S. troops and their spouses in the States and routinely listening in on Red Cross and other relief workers as well.

The legal justification for the NSA’s actions, according to the Times, is the 1979 Supreme Court ruling that found “no expectation of privacy about what numbers they had called.” A more recent yet equally unfortunate Supreme Court decision—the 2012 one upholding President Obama’s health-care-reform plan—is the reason that the Obamacare exchanges are theoretically going to be up and running come October 1 (pay no attention to the massive and mounting delays with the program).

The clearest argument against Obamacare was always the specifically libertarian one against the individual mandate, or the idea that the government could force you not only to follow certain rules if you engaged in commercial or economic activity but that it could force you to engage in commercial or economic activity in the first place.

Like most federal laws dealing with powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution, the legislative reasoning behind the mandate is derived from the commerce clause, which gives Congress the right to “regulate commerce ... among the several states.” Once interpreted by legislators and courts alike in a narrow sense, at least since the 1942 ruling Wickard v. Filburn, the commerce clause has been interpreted to allow the federal government virtually unlimited power. Indeed, during her confirmation hearing, Justice Elena Kagan granted that she believed Congress could legitimately pass a law mandating that people buy broccoli. While it would be a “dumb law,” she said it would be constitutional. (This short video,“Wheat, Weed, and Obamacare” is a concise and engaging discussion of differing views regarding the commerce clause.)

In the decision affirming the individual mandate, John Roberts effectively rewrote the legislation by saying it could be enforced through Congress’s taxing power rather than on commerce-clause grounds. Some libertarian-minded observers took solace in that fact, but the net result is the same: When the government tells you to jump, we’re legally bound to say, “How high?”

Conventional politics in terms of Team Red versus Team Blue offer little insight into the current situation, since by and large Republicans and Democrats are fine with a massive and growing state as long as most of the spending and edicts work to the benefit of each group’s favored constituencies. Whatever lip service they pay to the individual, neither party betrays much interest in limiting the size and scope of government. Indeed, it’s not an accident that Obamacare—including the individual mandate—was inspired by a proposal floated back in the ’90s by the GOP front group the Heritage Foundation. And it’s not an accident that when it comes to spending, regulating, sidestepping executive branch limits, and dropping bombs, Barack Obama resembles no one so much as George W. Bush.

Which is something to think about come tomorrow, when a new fiscal year starts without a budget because House Republicans want to spend $3.5 trillion and Senate Democrats want to spend $3.7 trillion (spending in 2001 came in at about $1.9 trillion in nominal dollars). Indeed, it’s something to think about whether you are excited to check out Obamacare’s insurance exchanges or you view their very existence as simply the latest mile marker on the road to serfdom.

And here’s something else to think about: there’s a reason why a record-high 60 percent of Americans agree that the government has too much power and why libertarian attitudes are on the rise (even among GOP legislators, of all places!). It must be because people are actually following the news, most of which is pretty appalling, even (especially?) when you get past the partisan spectacle of it all.

This article appeared at The Daily Beast on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. Read it there.

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  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Okay...

    First.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Didn't want Nick's story to get NO comments.

  • prolefeed||

    The story still hasn't gotten any comments, unless you count comments about your comment that there are no comments as comments on the story.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Commenting that there are no comments on the story constitutes comments, as the lack of comments is actually commentary that the story is unworthy of commenting on.

  • Pathogen||

    Commenting about commenting about commenting on a comment-less thread is way meta...

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  • Its Amazing||

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  • juris imprudent||

    It's a retread - which means this becomes the Saturday open thread!

  • ||

    the answer always seems to favor the growth and power of the state to control more and more aspects of our lives

    Uh...that's because that's what government does. That's what it always does. That's the purpose of its existence. Anyone who doesn't realize this is either willfully blind or irredeemably stupid. Or they support the growth of the state.

  • prolefeed||

    Anyone who doesn't realize this is either willfully blind or irredeemably stupid.

    Nah, there's also the possibility of being indoctrinated thoroughly by government schools, naivite, inexperience with the ruthlessness of government agents, and perhaps a few other reasons I haven't thought of.

    Took me a while to get to A/C.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    OK, so governments have a sell-by date. What's the alternative? An-caps have hardly made a good empirical case that their preferred means of organizing society is possible in the real world.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Just the robustness and mutual beneficiality of all market/voluntary transactions comprising the vast and over whelming majority of human interaction, ever, that's all.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    OT: That post about the Park Service closing a private park got me to thinking about Wolf Trap and the Kennedy Center, two other "private" venues operating under NPS-- they're shutdown too, right?

    Hah hah silly plebes, shutdowns are for little people. All shows are still on. No mention of any impact on Wolf Trap's website while the Kennedy Center warns about reduced building hours and no tours.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Why aren't there investigative reports anymore from the "MSM?" I mean, wouldn't you think a young fire-breathing reporter would take it upon himself to show that the government is going out of it's way to make the shutdown look worse, for political purposes, than it really is? I mean, isn't it a conspiracy, no shit, to try to manipulate people by actually taking action to bring the pain to the forefront?

    E.g. blocking government web pages and claiming the shutdown caused it. That is complete bullshit. The pages may not get updated, but to block them and put a message up that says, "You can't access this page because of the shutdown" is mendacious cock!

    I'm surprised it doesn't just say, "You can't see this page because...Republicans." It's borderline criminal.

  • John||

    If the media were anything but an a propaganda machine for Obama, they would be crucifying him for this. The whole idea that it is the Republicans who have closed the government is complete nonsense.

    You could imagine a case where the House really did shut down the government. Support Obama had bombed Syria without Congressional approval and the House had refused to fund anything until he stopped. That would be a case of them holding government funding hostage to get Obama to do something.

    Here though it is the exact opposite. It is Obama who wants the House to do something (fund Obamacare) and refuses to sign spending bills as a result. The House is willing to fund the entire government except Obamacare. The rest of the government isn't being funded because Obama refuses to allow it. He has the one who has taken the government hostage. Maybe that is a good thing. We can debate that. But you can't debate that is what he is doing. Yet somehow it is all the Republican House' fault for not ceding to his demands.

  • Cascadian Ephor Xenocles||

    At the very least the "hostage taking" accusation is equally valid against either side.

  • John||

    It would be if the House refused to pass separate bills. The House has passed funding for several things. And Reid won't even allow a vote on it in the Senate. Why? because funding those would take away their leverage. That tells you all you need to know about who is holding what hostage.

  • Cascadian Ephor Xenocles||

    That's a fair point. I guess I was wrapped up in the last time. This time - if we assume the GOP is the terrorists, it's like the negotiators are refusing to allow them to release any hostages if they don't release all of them.

    All the GOP leadership really has to do is say "Hey, let's be reasonable here and pass through the 95% of the funding we all agree on. You know, like we already did with the military pay. We'll even bump up the debt ceiling while we're at it. Once that's done, and out from under the pressure of those issues, we can set about fixing this law your party rammed through haphazardly in order to prevent bipartisan buy-in."

  • Wizard4169||

    The Dems have yet to offer any response beyond a great, big FU. What on earth makes you think they'll be willing to budge an inch AFTER the Reps throw away their leverage?

  • fish_remote||

    If the media were anything but an a propaganda machine for Obama, they would be crucifying him for this. The whole idea that it is the Republicans who have closed the government is complete nonsense.

    You could imagine a case where the House really did shut down the government. Support Obama had bombed Syria without Congressional approval and the House had refused to fund anything until he stopped. That would be a case of them holding government funding hostage to get Obama to do something.

    Here though it is the exact opposite. It is Obama who wants the House to do something (fund Obamacare) and refuses to sign spending bills as a result. The House is willing to fund the entire government except Obamacare. The rest of the government isn't being funded because Obama refuses to allow it. He has the one who has taken the government hostage. Maybe that is a good thing. We can debate that. But you can't debate that is what he is doing. Yet somehow it is all the Republican House' fault for not ceding to his demands.

    FTFY. Less is more my friend!

  • SweatingGin||

    Or for the websites, just shutdown the servers. Go to whitehouse.gov, get a "can't connect to server" message. That would be a good way to shut it down.

    Of course, it would sew some pretty good FUD.

  • Cascadian Ephor Xenocles||

    At least I got my football game.

  • fish_remote||

    Why aren't there investigative reports anymore from the "MSM?" I mean, wouldn't you think a young fire-breathing reporter would take it upon himself to show that the government is going out of it's way to make the shutdown look worse, for political purposes, than it really is? I mean, isn't it a conspiracy, no shit, to try to manipulate people by actually taking action to bring the pain to the forefront?

    Where's the "leg tingle" in doing that?!

    /matthews

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Just saw juris imprudent's executive decision so no OT on this one.

    I made the mistake of listening to a shutdown segment on National Patriotic Radio this morning between the host and their Washington editor. Entire thing was on why a small group of Republicans could wag Boehner and why he won't let a "clean" CR go to the floor for a vote, where it would pass according to Elving, and zero mention of Reid refusing to allow a vote on the House passed CRs in the Senate. I was surprised that either one could annunciate their words so clearly with that much cock shoved in.

    One of these days my boot is going to go right through that radio.

  • Nazdrakke||

    To be a libertarian you have to love freedom, but you also have to have a little masochist in you as well, it seems.

  • Killazontherun||

    I can easily live without NPR. It is what should not be -- government allowed to pretend to be an objective news source.

  • SweatingGin||

    I can't. My blood pressure could get dangerously low.

    It's an amazing combination of propaganda and terrible journalism. Mostly setup so that rich white liberals can signal their tribe, and talk about sitting in their driveway crying at the latest tragedy.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    OT: His Majesty, King Barry I, the Great White Father, Lord-Commander of the Drone Legion, expresses his displeasure with his loyal subject, Dan Snyder, concerning the name of the football team, the Washington Redskins.

    President Obama is wading into issues of culture and professional football, saying the Washington Redskins football team should consider a new name.

    "If I were the owner of the team and I knew that the name of my team — even if they've had a storied history — was offending a sizable group of people, I'd think about changing it," Obama told the Associated Press during an interview.

    All these mascots and team names related to Native Americans, Native Americans feel pretty strongly about it," Obama told the Associated Press. "And I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real, legitimate concerns that people have about these things."

    You know what I have a legitimate concern in? Government spending, or, more specifically, the overabundant and reckless character of it.

    See if you can do something about that, Light-Bringer.

  • Cascadian Ephor Xenocles||

    This is good news to me. It shows that he took care of all the other important issues of the day, allowing him to devote his full attention to this sort of matter.

  • John||

    Makes me wonder if he is not losing. They only bring up this sort of idiotic stuff when they need to distract their low sloping forehead supporters from something else.

  • SweatingGin||

    I took some of the confidence they were trying to show on Friday as a sign that they may not be winning.

    When a WH official said they were winning in the morning, and then Carney walks it back...

    Seems like the Obamacare debacle is taking a lot of wind out of them.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    If TEAM Red weren't the Stupid Party, they would be pointing out at every minute that the House has voted to fund the government, save for Obamacare, which, as has been demonstrated over the past week, is non-functional.

    These poor martyrs known as federal contractors and civilian employees would be unfurloughed tomorrow if Obama would swallow his pride and give up his little partisan vanity project, Obamacare.

  • Winston||

    If TEAM Red weren't the Stupid Party, they would be pointing out at every minute that the House has voted to fund the government, save for Obamacare, which, as has been demonstrated over the past week, is non-functional.

    It's not the like the media will report that though.

    And you do realize that you are saying the politically smart thing to do is for the GOP to be unlibertarian?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    And you do realize that you are saying the politically smart thing to do is for the GOP to be unlibertarian?

    Yes, I do. There's the moral/libertarian approach, which would be to just start slashing any all "non-essential" personnel from the federal government (40% and counting), cut some arms from the federal leviathan, and refuse to budget one penny to Obamacare.

    The prudential/unlibertarian approach would be to narrow the fight to Obamacare by itself and force Barry to choose between Obamacare and the rest of the government, then explain why.

    The asinine/most-likely-GOP approach will be total capitulation in exchange for promises Barry will never keep.

  • Winston||

    Since Reason likes to point out that the shutdown is unpopular and OCare can't be repealed I guess the only logical solution Reason advocates is total capitulation. Man the libertarian victory is at hand!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Since I don't wear the horn-rimmed glasses around here, I can't explain how submission to the Boy-King could possibly advance the libertarian cause.

  • SIV||

    You don't liek coctailz?

  • Calidissident||

    You do realize that Reason is not a monolithic entity, and that their writers have taken different positions on the shutdown?

  • SweatingGin||

    I wonder if they're waiting to see for sure how it works before slamming it? Should be an easy one.

    "You shut it down to protect this disaster? You've signed up dozens! It's going to have cost figures like $30 million per insured. Just say we're big jerks who forced you to give up on it, and it doesn't have to destroy your reputation forever."

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Except TEAM Blue has the standard fallback for that: Obamacare was insufficiently funded. If only those misers in TEAM Red had spent $100 trillion on Obamacare, everyone would have insurance.

  • Sevo||

    Piker!
    Spend $200Tn, and every citizen will be followed around by an MD!

  • Wizard4169||

    True. Let us imagine that the Republicans supported a measure to give every man, woman and child in the country his/her own unicorn. The Democrats would immediately castigate the cold-hearted, stingy Republicans, since the Democratic plan would have provided everyone with a golden saddle for their unicorn.

  • fish_remote||

    This was the point I made on another thread...I imagine someone is doing projections on next weeks market hit and vigorously tugging on the kings cape.

  • John||

    Obama is such a lose cannon, he might have just shot his mouth off. You never know. But absent that, they brought this up as a distraction. They could talk about the Redskins anytime.

  • PapayaSF||

    I think it's a carefully-calibrated distraction: Obama points to "racism" involving a sports team's name, and remind everyone that opposition to him is racism. Racism is everywhere!

    I suggest the new name should be "the Washington Multiculturals."

  • SweatingGin||

    The Washington Monument Closers

  • DK||

    Any word can be construed as offensive.

    So, the "Washington _______".

  • From the Tundra||

    I find "Washington" offensive. Maybe just an asterisk or something.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Washington Brownbags.

  • SweatingGin||

    RACIST!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The Washington Coolies?

  • Wizard4169||

    Why not? After all, they changed the name of the basketball team because "Bullets" was just too violent.

  • Ted S.||

    Change the name to the Washington Asshole Politicians.

  • Johnimo||

    How 'bout the Aztecs? Will SDSU have to change its mascot? Or, is it only Native Americans in the US that offended by these Indian mascot names?

  • Cdr Lytton||

    As predicted, federal "workers" are getting a free bonus vacation. House unanimously passed (shocking, right?) full back pay for all.

    How fucking hard is NO WORK = NO PAY?

  • John||

    No shit? That actually might be a smart move tactically. Lets see Obama veto it and tell the federal workers, who are largely Democratic voters, they can't get paid.

  • Calidissident||

    If it passed the House unanimously, Obama can't veto it if the Senate approves it by 2/3rds vote, which they'll probably do

  • Cascadian Ephor Xenocles||

    Yes he can. They would technically have to vote on it again. He probably would not veto it if it were a blowout (in order to avoid the extra humiliation), but he could.

  • Calidissident||

    Cascadian, yeah that's true, but my point was that a veto would be meaningless since they could just repass the bill, and he couldn't stop the federal workers from being paid, which was John's point.

  • Cascadian Ephor Xenocles||

    Why can't you just let me be a pedant?

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Why would Putin's Bitch veto the bill? It's doesn't actually fund anything. It just promises back pay when the CR is finally passed.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    It would have been genius if they attached a provision that said social security and the interest on the debt get funded before anything else.

    That would have taken out Obama's leverage on the oct17 debt limit extension.

  • MJGreen||

    Hey, anything to spend more money.

  • Winston||

    So how about that libertarian moment Nick?

    Also how long has Welch been on the Cleveland Browns?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I don't understand what you mean?

  • Winston||

    What are the Cleveland Browns famous for on these comment threads?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Um, yeah, what does that have to do with the "libertarian moment" or Welch?

  • Winston||

    You Know Who Else thought that an increasingly tyrannical government would eventually collapse and they would take over?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    You know who else had no sense of proportion and killed a joke by repeating it thrice in the span of a few hours...

  • SweatingGin||

    Close the ocean. I believe that is generally called a "blockade".

    What's the next punishment? The people must be punished for allowing these Republicans in the House. There will be mercy when the people have forced the House to fund everything.

  • PapayaSF||

    Perhaps erect blockades on interstate highways.

  • Winston||

    You Know Which Other President got into a battle with the legislature?

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Francisco Madero?

  • Winston||

    Good since You Know Who was never actually President.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Laura Roslin?

  • SweatingGin||

    Salvador Allende

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Nanny Bloomberg's Gun-Free Paradise Has a Rough Night

    Four men were shot to death and at least five people were wounded in an eruption of violence across the five boroughs overnight, cops said Saturday.

    The mayhem left a young man lifeless in Brooklyn, a teenage boy murdered in the Bronx and two men killed in Queens, police said.

    How could this have possibly happened? I was assured Nanny Bloomberg had rid NYC of the scourge of assault weapons!

  • Cascadian Ephor Xenocles||

    Don't you remember? It's that court's fault for killing stop n' frisk.

  • Rhywun||

    Don't you remember? It's that court's fault for killing stop n' frisk.

    This is what the NY Post actually believes. (They tack it on to every crime story.)

  • DK||

    Furloughed Civilian DOD Employees Going Back to Work Monday

    Hagel said Pentagon lawyers had concluded the law allows employees “whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members” to be exempted from the shutdown.

    But what about those who are servicing members? Oh, that's right, they need to be treated by the state's "recommended" services.

  • Virginian||

    So apparently the Honor Flight bus heading to the Marine Corps Memorial just rammed through the orange plastic barricades so it could drop the vets off.

    Of all the shutdown insanity, this is the most tragically hilarious. These guys are old, but not dead. And some of them have done shit like cleared bunkers on Iwo, or ridden through flak above the Ruhr, or fought in the snow against SS panzergrenadiers. Did this shithead really think some plastic cones and KEEP OUT tape would work?

  • Irish||

    What's especially wonderful is that they're making him look like a fucking moron.

    In the middle of a 'shutdown' the government sends out goons to close off monuments...which pretty much proves that the shutdown doesn't actually do anything. The people it's meant to keep out, all of them between 80-100 years old, bust through the barriers without even thinking about it.

    It's unbelievably entertaining to watch.

  • ||

    I just checked the major news sites (Fox, CNN, MSNBC), and there isn't a peep about this as far as I could see. What. A. Surprise. This is unbelievably bad PR for the government, so of course the scumbag lickspittle media ignores it.

  • From the Tundra||

    Yet even my proggy family knows about it (to their great discomfort). I'm starting to wonder how "major" the major news sites really are.

  • SweatingGin||

    Think he has the stones/poor judgement to let some underling order the park police to arrest a few? That would get things moving, I think.

  • DK||

    No, but I could see one of our government "heroes" going rogue and attempting to put one of the nonagenarians in their place.

  • Not an Economist||

    But not one of those Honor Flight have stood on the ramparts fighting off Tea Party Rethuglicans. That takes true bravery.

  • John||

    There are some people in the world who you really don't want to fuck with. Old guys who don't have long to live and have seen a lot of death and such in their lives are generally some of them.

  • From the Tundra||

    Great picture at the link:
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....59277.html

    Love these guys. What the hell happened to us?

  • Virginian||

    I mean can you imagine the scene on the bus.

    Driver: I'm sorry folks, the entrance is shut. We'll have to turn back.

    Crusty Old Guy: Son, General Patton pinned on my Purple Heart his own self. And I tell you that prick would never have let some damn cones get in his way. You just drive on through.

  • Irish||

    Love these guys. What the hell happened to us?

    That's what disgusts me. I hear people my age mock old people as if there's something noble in being young and something flawed in going where we all end up going...assuming we're lucky.

    Meanwhile, these old guys break down barricades and legitimately fight for what they believe in. People my age would stand calmly around waiting for the go ahead. If none came, they'd wander off so that they didn't make a scene.

    The same age cohort that used to fight legitimate racism and sexism, which stormed the beaches at Normandy and crossed the Delaware, is now reduced to passively waiting around while the government robs them, beats them, and mortgages their future, all while living vicariously through some shithead politician who doesn't give a damn about them.

    To call them sheep would be to insult the noble creatures that give us wool.

  • From the Tundra||

    Just remember that if/when you raise a son. Here's another cool thing for you:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie3SrjLlcUY

    It's about an 83 year old guy seeing footage of a wheels-up landing he made in GB during WWII. 14 minutes or so. Watch it and then reflect on what you were doing at 19 years old.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Listen, I loved my grandpa too, but can we stop with the Greatest Generation nostalgia-fest?

    The mentality that led to them smashing through the barriers to visit a war memorial is hand-in-glove with the same sense of entitlement that causes them to screech "Hands off my Medicare!", that is, using the full force of the government to garnish my wages and consigning me and mine to a life of perpetual indebtedness because they didn't feel the need to save money for themselves to pay for a nurse to change their Depends and wipe their ass.

    Jus' sayin'

  • Irish||

    I don't buy into the greatest generation stuff. I'm not arguing that people back then were perfect, or even necessarily 'better' than people now. Obviously on many issues, most particularly racial issues, they were far worse.

    I'm saying that on one specific metric, namely backbone and bravery, they were superior.

    George Orwell once said that the value of an idea isn't proven by the amount of courage it takes to believe it. I agree. I still think courage is a virtue though, and in modern America it's a virtue we no longer possess.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm saying that on one specific metric, namely backbone and bravery, they were superior.

    Disregarding the WW2 draft, exactly how does the surge of enlistment after 9/11 differ from the surge of enlistment after Pearl Harbor?

  • Irish||

    Disregarding the WW2 draft, exactly how does the surge of enlistment after 9/11 differ from the surge of enlistment after Pearl Harbor?

    There was a minor jump in enlistment post 9/11, but it wasn't particularly large. You cannot in any way compare it to WWII.

    Are you seriously saying that a very small increase in military enlistment post 9/11 proves that there isn't a general malaise and risk aversion in younger generations?

    I'm 24. I know these people. I don't think there's anything inaccurate in saying that my generation is highly risk averse and terrified of even the most minor of inconveniences, a state of affairs I don't think you can claim existed in earlier generations.

    It's probably a product of wealth. The general privilege of young Americans, the fact that they live in possibly the most peaceful time in the history of the world, doesn't exactly breed a willingness to fight.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Your generation's not signing up in WW2-like numbers to fight stupid, pointless wars irrelevant to protecting the US is hardly a sign of malaise.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm 24. I know these people. I don't think there's anything inaccurate in saying that my generation is highly risk averse and terrified of even the most minor of inconveniences, a state of affairs I don't think you can claim existed in earlier generations.

    I'll have to take your word for that. Most of the people your age I know are foreigners, so I don't have anything to compare your experiences to.

  • John||

    That is such a load of shit. The majority of the country didn't want medicare. But the Dems got it because they got a one time freak majority in Congress. The country gave them losses in 1966, but the damage was done, the bill was passed over the objection of most of the country. Sound familiar?

    As for now, they paid into medicare, something most of them didn't want in the first place, for decades and are forced by law to be on it. That is right, you have to be on medicare when you are over 65 and any insurance you have purchased yourself becomes supplemental insurance.

    It is more than a bit disingenuous to claim that old people are somehow selfish for not wanting to see cuts in a program they never wanted and were forced by law to both contribute to and rely on in their old age. I with the people on here would stop repeating the "get the hands off my medicare" lie. It is fucking ignorant and unbecoming of the board.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Oh come on. Is Medicare a constitutional amendment or something? All it would have taken is an act of Congress to get rid of it. The GG never showed any signs of trying to repeal it.

  • John||

    Oh come on Tulpa. Is Obamacare a constitutional amendment or something? That was the evil genius of the program. It started small and no one bothered to repeal it until it was too late. And since when are progs not total lying fanatics who will never yield an inch?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    It's been 3.5 years since OC passed, and we've already done more than the GG to try to repeal our generation's entitlement.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It's more than a bit disingenuous to claim that "old people" never wanted entitlements. Who the fuck voted in that "freak majority" John? Likewise, who set up the massive buildup of the Federal Government during the early part of the Cold War? And while we all are forced by law to contribute, you are no forced to rely on anything. Nothing prevented them from saving money in a retirement account.

    I with the people on here would stop repeating the "get the hands off my medicare" lie. It is fucking ignorant and unbecoming of the board.

    I'll remember that next time you go off on "ghetto welfare queens".

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    The greatest generationers paid into Medicare for 20 years and have gotten way more than 20 years of benefits from it. My generation is paying for it for our entire lives and probably getting nothing.

  • John||

    I'll remember that next time you go off on "ghetto welfare queens".

    Since I have never once done that on here, you can do that. But I am pretty sure you will be waiting for a while.

    And who voted for that majority? A bunch of gullible people who believed the Progs lies. By your logic, when you get old someone should hold you personally accountable for Obamacare. I mean who voted for that 08 majority HM?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'll remember that next time you go off on "ghetto welfare queens".

    The point is, is that stereotype has as much a kernel of truth as the oldsters "I Got Mine" stereotype does.

    By your logic, when you get old someone should hold you personally accountable for Obamacare.

    I'm Gen X, not a Baby Boomer.

    Nevertheless, I'm not saying anyone should be held personally accountable, but there are generational attitudinal trends that one can comment on, no?

  • From the Tundra||

    Fuck, HM, it's a cool-ass story about a really brave guy. That's it. Old guys, particularly of a certain age and experience, can be really fucking interesting.

    Jus' sayin

  • DK||

    Agreed, From the Tundra. Thanks for linking.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Hey, not taking away from that story. I was responding more to you at 5:12.

    Regardless of that, I know some of my friends at 19 were just as brave while dodging RPGs and bullets in the alleyways of Mogadishu.

  • Virginian||

    Indeed. But Irish and I are of the same age that he is criticizing, so it's not like we're waving our canes on the lawn. What gets me about the WWII vets especially is just how old and frail they are now. But they did and saw extraordinary things. Honestly, a running firefight through a Third World city is all too easy for people of my generation to imagine. Mogadishu 93 is very similar to Baghdad 05. But fleets of bombers, massive battleships, hundreds of tanks and millions of men. It's mind boggling. And I don't think it cheapens the bravery of those serving today to say that Omaha Beach was an entirely different level of hell compared to even the most difficult combat in Afghanistan or Iraq today. John Keegan talks about this in the Face of Battle.

  • Irish||

    See, I understand HM's point. I obviously completely get many of the horrible things that past generations have done. These vets are of an age that, statistically, means a good portion of them were possessed of pretty racist beliefs, at least when they were younger. I'm therefore not unthinkingly nostalgic and wouldn't want to go back to 1940 for anything in the world.

    Think of it this way though: Remember that Adam Weinstein article complaining about how sad Weinstein is that he doesn't make tons of money as a freelance political writer? You know all the Jezebel articles that claim women are being horrifyingly oppressed every time a hot girl is objectified in a commercial?

    I mean, we're talking about 25-35 year old men and women who are bitching about commercials or complaining that they don't make enough money when the CHOSE to enter a career as a blogger or political writer. They're actively asking to be saved from the consequences of their own terrible decisions and to be coddled by Big Daddy Government. I'm surprised Weinstein didn't complain that the government doesn't actively rub him to orgasm every night.

    I do think this is indicative of a miserable entitlement culture and of a certain type of cultural decay, at least where the willingness to risk is concerned.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Indeed. But Irish and I are of the same age that he is criticizing, so it's not like we're waving our canes on the lawn.
    And I don't think it cheapens the bravery of those serving today to say that Omaha Beach was an entirely different level of hell compared to even the most difficult combat in Afghanistan or Iraq today.

    Virginian, I completely agree. I just retired from the AF a couple of years ago, and not to take anything away from those who've fought in the last few "wars", but we were fucking pussies when compared to the heroism displayed by the men who fought in WWII. They flew missions where their chances of coming home were significantly smaller than they were of surviving. They'd lose entire squadrons on a given mission. We lost a handful of aircraft in the entire war. We lost 4500 troops in 10 years. They lost 3000 in a day on the beaches of Normandy.

    Those fuckers had stones! Great big brass fucking balls! I don't know if you could muster that kind of bravery today.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Respectfully, HM, those old vets just rammed a government roadblock because they truly believe in that liberty they once fought for. What have you done for the cause of liberty lately?

    While I don't disagree their generation allowed some fucked up shit to happen, those old farts are fighting for liberty...AGAIN!*

    *provided the story is true.

  • Rollo||

    Might have something to do with police beating up old war vets leading to bad press.

    Beating up 20-somethings who break the rules, not so much, as we've seen time and time again.

  • Irish||

    I have a feeling that the people going up against racism in the Jim Crow south just might have been harassed by police officers once in a while.

  • John||

    How long before some goon shoots some 90 year old Normandy vet? All hell would break lose if that happened. My guess is that there would be a half a million or more vets on the Mall within 24 hours.

    There is no upside to this for them. They are so stupid. If something bad were to happen, it would be a PR disaster of the ages.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Because all they understand is brute force. Yet another relevant V for Vendetta scene:

    Someone Will Do Something Stupid

  • Rollo||

    USA GDP per capita: $50,000

    Give every person in the US $30,000 to live on (more than enough to get by) and use the rest to pay the government's bills. 300 million times 20,000 is 6,000,000 and we'd be rid of the national debt in three years, before Obama leaves office.

  • Irish||

    We'd also eliminate any desire for anyone to work, no one would invest in America, and we'd end up with an unemployment rate of 70%.

    Brilliant idea, assuming this isn't a joke.

  • Rollo||

    The desire to keep working could be instilled by appealing to the patriotic spirit. Everyone just has to keep doing the work they're doing now. The only reason they would stop would be because they want America to fail.

    If that's not enough, there are more regrettable ways of nurturing the desire to keep working. Hopefully they wouldn't be needed.

  • Irish||

    Definitely a joke. Well played.

    This actually sounds like something Tony would say.

  • Virginian||

    C-

  • Rhywun||

    Brilliant idea, assuming this isn't a joke.

    I laughed.

  • ||

    Here's an article on why the truth about Matthew Shepard's murder is irrelevant to hate crime legislation bearing his name.

    Right, but look at the standards used by Federal hate crime laws:

    The Matthew Shepard Act (officially the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009) also happens to be smart law. It’s robust enough to give federal prosecutors and state investigators more tools to effectively crack down on hate crimes, yet narrow enough to remain within constitutional bounds.

    The law lays out two conditions that must be met before federal jurisdiction is triggered in an anti-gay hate crime. First, the attacker must have attempted or caused bodily injury using fire (think arson), a gun, or another dangerous weapon, because of the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Second, the crime must have affected interstate or foreign commerce, or occurred on federal property.

    How do violent crimes against an individual affect interstate or foreign commerce?

  • Irish||

    Best part:

    Whatever you think of hate-crime laws in general, there’s no denying that an astonishing amount of hate crime occurs. In 2011, rates of anti-gay violence increased about 2.6 percent nationally, from 1,470 to 1,508 incidents, even as the total number of hate crimes decreased. Crimes against LGBT people accounted for almost 21 percent of all reported hate crimes that year. “Homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crime,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. So take Matthew Shepard out of the equation if you like, because there’s no shortage of other examples of horrific anti-gay hate crime.

    So...the number of hate crimes increased in 2011...two years AFTER the Matthew Shepherd act was passed. If you look at the last ten years, according to wikipedia, there has been virtually no change in the annual number of hate crimes.

    This means that the hate crime act has had no impact on the number of hate crimes that. What's the point in the law if it doesn't deter crimes? To feel good about yourself and stroke your own ego over a job well done?

  • ||

    I remember reading a news article about a supposed increase in anti-gay hate crimes in New York City earlier this year.

    Now a few of them were genuine hate crimes: I think a transgender person was stabbed and a gay couple assaulted. But the other crimes listed were nothing more than some idiot shouting anti-gay slurs at someone while walking down the street.

    The NYPD, by law and policy, could make no distinction between a homicide and some guy calling someone else a faggot.

  • Virginian||

    Uh no, it has had an impact. It's caused more of them!

    /sarcasm

    Seriously though, I bet that the feds are giving money to local PDs to bolster their Hate Crime Units. So of course we get a steady increase in "hate crimes".

    Oh, I went to the VA State Fair yesterday. Parked in front is a massive black MRAP labeled Caroline County Sheriff.

    http://www.carolinesheriff.org/

    Check out the massive amount of crime the CCSO's Special Emergency Response Team has to deal with.

  • np||

    How do violent crimes against an individual affect interstate or foreign commerce?

    You'll find a clause for "interstate commerce" for nearly all federal crimes, not just hate crimes, since that's the only way the Feds have jurisdiction, in addition to being used for justifying intervention in variou non-felony cases.

    But through instrumentality, literrally everything is affected by the commerce clause. See: http://reason.com/blog/2012/09.....nsformed-a
    for how the commerce clause is applied to an Amish hair-cutting "hate crime"

    And: http://randazza.wordpress.com/.....ce-clause/
    for how the commerce clause is applied to regulate Hemingway’s Cats

  • Virginian||

    http://www.worldaffairsjournal.....-islamists

    Good news, assuming "secular" is not a euphemism for "thieving communist"

  • ||

    Lest they begin to develop shame for trying to keep WWII veterans away from their memorial, Joe Biden thanks Park Service ranger for denying access to memorial

    Vice President Joe Biden gave his support to the park ranger who was blasted by a Republican lawmaker at the World War II Memorial.

    Biden called the park ranger to say he was proud of her.

    Video from NBC Washington showed Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) confronting the ranger on Wednesday and said that National Park Service “should be ashamed of themselves.”

    “I’m not ashamed,” the ranger replied.
    When pressed by the lawmaker, the ranger said it was “difficult” to have to deny access to veterans and apologized.

    A PAC ad writes itself.

  • John||

    The Republicans can't fold now. The longer this goes the worse and more insane the Democrats are going to act. Hell, lets keep this up for another month or so. It has only been a week and they are already attacking old people. What will they being doing by this time next week? This is great.

  • fish_remote||

    The media complicity isn't nearly as effective as it was when the Clinton v Gingrich flabby cage match took place in the 90's. Most of the people I work with are sanguine about a little unpaid time off and place blame fairly evenly. No way TEAM Blue walks away unscathed.

  • OldMexican||

    Indeed, he [Obama] has upped the ante from the Bush administration by claiming not simply the right to hold U.S. citizens indefinitely without charging them but the right to unilaterally kill them.


    But in the end all of that is needed in order to stem the effects of climate change, as Tony the Statist brazenly insinuated when accusing us libertarians of being dangerously utopian.

  • FXR||

    Obama is no visionary and Ms Clinton was always a dupe. Obama is, speaking directly, a low life plagiarist. reciting the words he claims as his own, from someone else's play book.

    //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism

    "Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work."

    Anyone fool enough to believe a Health Impact assessment [HIA] or an Environmental Impact assessment [EIA] are done by politicians to evaluate the peoples interests or intent, are sadly being duped while being forced to pay for those deceptions every time a politician dedicates themselves to do one. Anyone who does a search for either at the World Health Organization's website and actually read what they find. Will immediately grow to appreciate both are live process course materials, to train lobbying with a foundation described by "Burke's analysis", which is also very well described concisely, at WIKI

    under The Burke analysis titled The Rhetoric of Hitler's "Battle"

    Read the WIKI article and consider it as a formed game-plan describing what you have been experiencing in the media since the mid 1990s, in promotions of many political strategies and "protections" that came to the fore, without reason or logical explanation in an instant. To dominate the international press, as though someone had just declared world war, with the same sky is falling urgency.

  • FXR||

    Continues...

    The Y2K disaster that wasn't, The hole in the Ozone layer, Flu "pandemics" a plenty, Global Warming, The "Significant Risk" of tobacco smoke that isn't really all that significant, The Economic meltdown, You could just go on and on.

    The statistical odds of all this calamity occurring at the same time is beyond calculation.

    What is obvious and more readily at hand, is a simple Google search of "protect children" The 400 million results seen in .25 seconds, listing thousands and thousands of Lobby group efforts for a variety of stated goals and a common cause, demanding those protections as their primary plank, is not a reality of chance. It is a reality of their training and by the proof seen in smoking bans, a lobby group effort they know will work and demand profits every time out.

  • lilyhi||

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  • ludovikazaleskas||

    up to I saw the check saying $4560, I didnt believe ...that...my cousin could truley bringing in money part time on their laptop.. there uncle started doing this for only about 16 months and recently took care of the mortgage on there apartment and bought a top of the range Aston Martin DB5. visit this site
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  • dstarke||

    For those of us who take the long view, Obamacare is merely the forth horse of the apocalypse (the other three being the graduated income tax, Social Security, and Medicare) and the NSA overreach merely one of the inevitable results from surrendering our privacy one small piece at a time.

    We asked for this, and by God, it will be visited upon us.

  • wooffjordy||

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