Obama Preps Army of Straw Men, False Choices to Defend NSA Surveillance

President Barack Obama wants to you know that you can trust the government not to break the rules it has made for itself for surveillance, even though they had refused to tell you what those rules are, refused to say that the surveillance was even going on, and have been going hard against anybody leaking any information about the administration.

Here’s what he said this morning in California, courtesy of the New York Times:

President Obama on Friday offered a robust defense of the government surveillance programs revealed this week, and sought to reassure the public that his administration has not become a Big Brother with eyes and ears throughout the world of online communications.

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Mr. Obama said, delivering a 14-minute answer to two questions about the surveillance programs during a four-day trip to the West Coast at an event that was initially supposed to be devoted to the health care law. “That’s not what this program is about.”

Two immediate thoughts: Nobody said that the program was about listening to telephone calls, so good work setting that first straw man aflame. Second, why should anybody believe you? Bring on the next logical fallacy:

“You can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” Mr. Obama said, repeatedly stressing that the lawmakers from both parties and federal judges were aware of the efforts. “You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

Who out there has asked for 100 percent security and 100 percent privacy? A false choice embedded inside another straw man.

One final quote from the president from the full transcript:

That’s not to suggest that, you know, you just say, trust me, we’re doing the right thing, we know who the bad guys are. And the reason that’s not how it works is because we’ve got congressional oversight and judicial oversight. And if people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.

Mr. President, I think it’s safe to say: You have some problems here.

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  • Irish||

    And if people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.

    I like that the responsibility isn't on Congress, the executive branch and judges to actually be trustworthy, it's on the citizens to trust that they are trustworthy, regardless of all evidence.

    Leave it to the party of science to argue that you should ignore your perception and trust in blind faith.

  • Virginian||

    The check is in the mail, the LZ is cold, and I won't come in your mouth.

  • ||

    As always: projection.

  • Goldwyn Smith||

    The wreckers and saboteurs must be punished for obstructing The People's Will.

  • rts||

  • prolefeed||

    This was already noted earlier in the day, FWIW.

  • rts||

    Curse this west coast time zone!

  • ||

    This highlights a big difference between the O and the W. Bush, in this same sort of instance, would either flatly refuse to talk about anything or simply assert that he's looking out for the best needs of the country and that's that - turning the conversation then to a long (for hiim) dissertation on Tair and the Tairists and the War on Tair.

    Big O spending his time instead working on the empathy - no, see how much I respect all that differing opinion, and you know, Constitutional stuff. Did you know I was a Constitutional Law professor? And this stuff is really hard and the government is working hard to balance it and there's all this careful thought going into it, so you should just relax and don't worry. We're going to be just fine.

    It's like W is talking to a guy and O to a woman. Both are saying FYTW but Bush says it straight out so you can get a beer with him afterwards, while O is trying to get you in the sack.

  • AuH20||

    And the gender breakdown of polling bear this out

  • gaijin||

    But they is US. We have to trust US. If we can't trust US, who can we trust...them?

    /fellatios argumentation

  • Fluffy||

    This asshole talks about "Congress" as if it's some sort of unitary and unchanging entity.

    If he defines "Congressional oversight" as "Yeah, we told a couple current sitting Congressmen about the program and they're OK with it!" all I can say is Fuck you, scumbag.

    If my Congressional representatives heard about this program and didn't immediately drop everything else they were doing to try to stop it, then fuck them, I want new Congressional representation.

    "Congressional oversight" means absolutely nothing if I don't as a voter know about that oversight so I can hold my representatives accountable if they fail at it.

    Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein knowing about a program means nothing to me. Me knowing about a program, so I can use that knowledge to try to drag Graham and Feinstein out of their seats and throw them into the street is what's important to me.

  • nilecroc||

    The decurity argumeny falls flat on its own. The gov dues not provide security( in this case anyways), it dimply replaces "terrorism", a loaded term used to evoke an enotional recations to crimes already named, with tyrrany.

  • nilecroc||

    *security *simply

  • Adam.||

    *argument *does *emotional *reactions *tyranny

    sorry, had to.

  • Virginian||

    “If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.”

    Oh yeah we will have problems all right.

  • All-Seeing Monocle||

    If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges,all of whom are acting in complete secrecy...

  • crashland||

    There are good reasons for all of those guns and all of that ammo flying off of the shelves...

    Maybe we can get the Brits to stop back over and burn Washington again for us next year, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the last time they torched the place. Or maybe we can organize a reenactment and oopps, sorry, the Capitol wasn't supposed to burn...

  • Fluffy||

    They should raffle off the chance to light the first match.

  • gritzly||

    the amount of guns and ammo flying off the shelves is not just a few people filling holes in their collections, it's a populace preparing for war.

  • wwhorton||

    Not war, more of a standoff IMHO. All the people I know who are arming up are doing it with the intention of holding off "armed rescuers" like we saw in Boston, not actually marching on the capital.

  • gaijin||

    “You can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,”

    Right, so we get 0% privacy and 100% inconvenience...in exchange for Boston? Or Hassan? Or Newtown? or what?

  • Fluffy||

    What level of security do we get at 100% privacy?

    If it's anything above 75% (and I think it's actually above 99%) then I pick that.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Obama is peddling straw men and false choices.

    And in other amazingly unexpected news, the sun rose in the east this morning.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    It's a straw man wrapped in a false choice inside a race card.

  • sarcasmic||

    argumentum ad turducken?

  • Mr. Soul||

    Finally, a scandal that is properly framed. "Americans" have had their rights violated, not merely "conservatives".

    I wish the IRS antagonists would stop talking in terms of teams and start saying no american should have his government use the taxman to suppress political speech.

  • LemonMender||

    You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.

    You know, that's exactly what the gag rules and plumbers have been trying to prevent. There was no intention to let “society” decide this. But in the mind-set of our merciful overlords, société, c’est moi.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    "Society" means never having to say "I'm sorry."

  • wwhorton||

    I waded into the WaPo forums over this, and the following exchange actually happened. I'm summarizing for brevity's sake, but not by much:

    Me:
    The President's basically saying that it's alright that he broke his campaign promises and has de facto endorsed Bush's use of domestic surveillance, going so far as to expand the program, on the basis of him knowing better now following undisclosed conversations with unelected advisers. So why in the hell are we bothering to vote if the president's just going to throw his/her campaign promises out the window as soon as he/she talks to Top Men?

    Some fuckhead:
    So is the President not supposed to protect the country?

    Me:
    FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

    This actually happened. I had a mild stroke. I don't think I'm going to survive the second term without either having a massive coronary or going completely, batshit, Rambo-grade rogue.

    And I'll bet the motherfucker voted last election, too.

  • AuH20||

    You made the mistake of believing that they could think. They can't.

  • GILMORE||

    "“You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”"

    "So, don't be surprised when we make choices for everyone and don't tell anyone Shit happens, people! Get over yourselves."

  • ReganT||

    if people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.

    Trusting that government will take it upon itself to operate within a proper legal framework and not exceed the law's boundaries is like trusting a fire to contain itself.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Interesting analogy. Of course, the best way to contain fire is to restrict it's supply of fuel.

    There's another analogy about taxes and power in there...

  • Blueman||

    Obama is an undisputed master of straw man arguments and false choices. It's impressive, really.

  • Harvard||

    Let me see. The pud was a "community organizer" as his life's work; a euphemism for one who extorts money taxed from others to redistribute to a favored class, by using racism (primarily) as his weapon of choice. And you're impressed by his glibness?? Tell us the truth, you fell for his bullshit and gave this shit sandwich your vote, right?

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