316 Spying Fans Can't Be Wrong!

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The Washington Post, whose editors surely had no problem being scooped by USA Today, conducted an overnight poll and found a nearly 2/3 majority in favor of the NSA collecting American phone records. Here was the wording of the question:

It's been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

According to the WaPo the timing and sampling of the survey might have produced unreliable results.

A total of 502 randomly selected adults were interviewed Thursday night for this survey. Margin of sampling error is five percentage points for the overall results. The practical difficulties of doing a survey in a single night represents another potential source of error.

Not to pick on her again, but well-regarded polling expert Michelle Malkin saw this and claimed victory for civil liberties restrictionists everywhere.

Message to the MSM from Americans with their heads screwed on straight:

We're not scared.

Begging the government to tap phones and keep a database on every American to save us from the swarming Islamofascists: Bravery in action.

Kidding aside, the debate over this story will depend a great deal on whatever polling comes out. Before this revelation, Republicans were planning to use the NSA spying issue against Democrats in the midterm elections—it was more popular than the president, after all.

(Note: Comments on last night's post included some crude language directed at Mrs. Malkin. That's completely unacceptable. And is it really so hard to shred these arguments without getting personal?)

NEXT: Epitaph for Freedom: "If it's for the security of the country, it's OK with me."

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  1. I always figured about 1/3 of the country longs for a police state. Maybe I was a bit optimistic. Depends on how you ask the question doesn’t it? You’d think we’d have built up more tolerance by now, but the magic word “terrorism” still has a lot of power.

    Will be fun to watch “conservatives” apologize for yet another grotesque expansion of centralized federal power.

  2. Crude language can be cheap and easy, but packs a lot of punch. You paint yourself and comments with the language you choose. Choice, right?Continuous news, views, and abuse are not limited to the staff, eh. Plus the old freedom of expression thing. Not all coments will be elbow patch approved.

    But the whole NSA thing freaks me out. You Americans need to clense this shit from your wonderful system.

  3. “And is it really so hard to shred these arguments without getting personal?”

    No, but it’s a lot more fun. Not to mention gratifying. When Ms. Malkin wants to cease being a target for “crude” and “unacceptable” language, she’ll stop being such a vile cun…

    Whoops.

  4. Mmmmmmm…Michele Malkin’s swamp region….

  5. “Comments on last night’s post included some crude language directed at Mrs. Malkin. That’s completely unacceptable.”

    Wow, you are the new guy at Reason, aren’t you? The attacks on Malkin in that thread were pretty mild compared to some past ones.

  6. Somebody please link to that thread. I gotta see this.

  7. So this means that 2/3s of the people who happen to be up during the overnight period are okay with this. Were these the folks working at the Quickie Mart, or the ones scanning the channels hoping to catch a glimpse of the Girls Gone Wild infomercial. An overnight poll calculates real numbers with the accuracy of tea leaves and entrails.

    And I agree with Andy. Ad Hominims against Malkin should not be construed as debating tactics.
    She is wrong for a number of quantifiable reasons. She is also a shrieking mouthpiece who has helped reduce political debate to the level of wrestling. She is a sideshow act, of no relevance to the actual politcal landscape, and Reason should no better than to give anything she says an inch of credibility.

  8. I always figured about 1/3 of the country longs for a police state. Maybe I was a bit optimistic.

    I don’t think that most people want a police state. They want government enforcement of their pet issues without realizing that the sum of everyone’s pet issues add up to a police state. Then again, I’m sure there is a percentage of terrified people who honestly believe that being constant surveilled by armed men will keep them safe.

    Still, it’s kind of sad the see people continually roll over for the “it’s for National Security” line. I’d make a drinking game out of it, but I don’t my liver could handle the constant barrage.

  9. “Somebody please link to that thread. I gotta see this.”

    It’s the “McPaper & Osama” thread just a few posts down.

  10. Note: Comments on last night’s post included some crude language directed at Mrs. Malkin. That’s completely unacceptable. And is it really so hard to shred these arguments without getting personal?

    What the fuck? Huh? Seriously, what the fucking fuck? Since when is “crude language” unacceptable at Hit and Run?

    Listen up ass munch(s)! H&R has been a bastion of free speech. Commenters must be free post anything they want without restriction or censorship of any kind.

    except for spammers of course
    and actual threats of violence
    and maybe slander too

    But that’s it! Everything else is fine.

    umm unless, you know, I think of something else I don’t like later.

  11. I have no per se objections to crude language, though I personally dislike certain epithets and find people who resort to mere ad hominem attacks self-disqualifying from further serious consideration.

    But let’s not kid ourselves — H&R authors and commenters alike (myself included) routinely make fun of people, so the question occurs where, if at all, a line should be drawn. Obviously, the authors will draw that line and no self-respecting libertarian would object on grounds that they had no right to do so.

    Even so, it would be interesting to hear whatever rationales might be offered for drawing that line at one point rather than another.

  12. (comment deleted)

  13. I’m talking about the sexual insults directed at Malkin. Mocking any female pundit with the c-word or the b-word is immature and basically throws the game to the pundit. Instead of defending their opinion, they can point out that they’ve been crudely attacked.

  14. Um, I believe there was a racial slur in there, too, at some point. However, my point remains that, for example, the intelligence of various pundits and other public figures is routinely scorned, and yet as a matter of logic (given that stupid people can nonetheless be correct — I, for example, occasionally have been) that is also an ad hominem attack. So, why be scrupulous about certain sort of irrelevant attacks but not others?

  15. My, my, people who believe in free speech get all huffy when someone dares to *criticize* their speech choices, which is of course an exercise of free speech too (see the reaction of leftist faculty to David Horowitz’s admittedly nasty book). Frankly, I could do without the sexual name-calling of Malkin (who I think is as noxious a presence as I can imagine in the blogosphere and elsewhere) and applaud David W. for pointing out that it might be counterproductive or offensive.

    Those of you who start yelling “free speech” in defense of your use of the c and b words miss the point: no one is out to prevent you from using them, just requesting that you play a bit nicer. That’s part of free speech too.

  16. Bad language, scurrilous ad hominem attacks… “B”s and “C”s and “MF”s and “CS”s; it’s too easy.

    Challenge yourself- use your imagination. H L Mencken never called anybody a “stupid motherfucker” but it’s fairly clear where he came down on most issues.

    I get more satisfaction from referring to Our Good Friend from the Garbage State as “Comrade McNanny” than I ever could from calling him an “asshat.”
    I also definitely like “Joisey McNoisy.” (can’t remember off the top of my head whose that is)

  17. I think Joisey McNoisy was mediageek’s.

  18. Mocking any female pundit with the c-word or the b-word is immature and basically throws the game to the pundit.

    Oh kiss my fat hairy pale ass David. So glad we got you around to tell us how immature we are. Gee if only we could articulate ourselves with more dignity and grace, we would carry the day and all the world would embrace libertarianism. You know, I seem to recall some past Reason articles regarding the value of “course culture”. Maybe you should read them and then get back to us.

    Those of you who start yelling “free speech” in defense of your use of the c and b words miss the point: no one is out to prevent you from using them, just requesting that you play a bit nicer. That’s part of free speech too.

    It’s a fair cop. But as moderator David is doing more than just requesting. Reading over the “McPaper & Osama” thread, it does look pretty tame. Too tame in fact, there seem to be some missing comments. Over the years, I’ve noticed a couple of my comments getting tossed down the memory hole. Once, when I made disparaging speculation as to Cathy Young’s sexuality, I even got a ‘tsk tsk shame on you’ email (from Tim if I recall correctly). I replied stating that I felt vulgar and gratuitous attacks on the staff should be fair game. (I mean seriously, if you can’t withstand the wrath of armchair libertarian geeks, you need to go into another line of work) I also stated then and reiterate now, that if Reason is going to enforce a speech code, that it needed to be codified and made available.

  19. Mocking any female pundit with the c-word or the b-word is immature and basically throws the game to the pundit. Instead of defending their opinion, they can point out that they’ve been crudely attacked.

    No it doesn’t. One can only point out the immaturity and refuse to defend one’s opinions with the person making the crude comments. It doesn’t give one any credibility whatsoever to refuse to defend one’s opinion to Commenters A, B, and C merely because Commenter D chose to sling insults. Such behavior is looking for excuses to avoid debate, most likely because one’s opinion was closer to a knee-jerk emotion rather than a thought-out opinion.

  20. The last sentence is fair enough Warren. I have no problem with the owners of a blog exercising editorial control over the content of comments (freedom and all that), but I do think if such actions are taken, it is only right that they not be ad hoc, but that the rules be spelled out in advance.

    FWIW, I hope both that the openness of this space is maximized AND that people will refrain from sexual and racial ad hominems. You may say I’m a dreamer….

  21. Also, the immaturity starts with the insults Malkin writes in her own columns.

    Case in point, the sarcastic insults in her May 12 column:

    “all the cool kids in elite journalism are doing it”

    “the civil liberties Chicken Little ”

    Sorry, David. But if she wants to insult people, she damn well better expect to be insulted right back. Perhaps her insults are minimally more clever than “bitch” and “cunt”, but debating such cleverness avoids the subject of the opinion in the first place.

  22. I can only hope that one day when I’m in some Gulag waiting for some state thug to push me into an oven that I have the singular delight of seeing Malkin get pushed in first.

  23. It’s kinda funny. Many calls I’ve made to Puerto Rico of late have connected incorrectly. One of last last two times this happened I got a woman saying “hello”, “hello” but no response when I said anything. The other time I could just hear the sound of a room full of people, with a lot of echo and noone saying anything on the line. I listened to this for about 30 seconds before hanging up.

    Calling PR is obviously not an international call.

    I wonder if the monitoring isn’t botching up the connections. Maybe I’m just paranoid but this stuff only started fairly recently.

    There have been other problems with connections as well and only recently.

  24. God, I hope the libertarians learn a valuable lesson from all this – there’s a big difference between the liberties the liberals tinker with and the liberties the GOP tinkers with.

    Please, please, all of you, vote for a balanced government this Novemeber. Please?

    JMJ

  25. If I want balanced, I’ll consult the food pyramid. If it’s government we’re talking about, I prefer the trefoil knot.

  26. “God, I hope the libertarians learn a valuable lesson from all this – there’s a big difference between the liberties the liberals tinker with and the liberties the GOP tinkers with.”

    Lower my taxes and keep your rotten goddamned mits out of my gunsafe and I’ll consider it, you twit.

  27. All the hubbub over name calling and free speech reminds me of that problem I have run into with fellow libertarians:
    Just because you have the right to do something does not mean you should do something.

  28. Attacking Malkin, or Coulter, or whatever because they are female, or you don’t find them attractive is terribly low brow.

    There are far better ways to insult them without coming across as a misgynist.

  29. Mocking any female pundit with the c-word or the b-word is immature and basically throws the game to the pundit.

    While I agree with David’s point, that we should attack ideas instead of people, I’d like to point out that women have suffered for too long from a shortage of attack names, which may have made us more sensitive to their power.

    A woman who’s a rotten person is either a “bitch” or a “cunt.”

    A man, on the other hand, can be a “bastard,” a “dick,” a “prick,” a “cock,” a “dickhead,” an “asshole,” or even an “asswipe,” among others.

    I think, in the name of equality, we should try to level the playing field and think up some new names for women who are rotten people.

    “Stretchmark?” “Bitch-head?” “Boobjob?” “Labiaface?”

    I’m just throwing out ideas here, people. Help me make the world a more equitable place for our female comrades.

  30. Actually, just for Joisey McNoisy I’ll lay out the paramaters the democrats would have to meet before I would consider casting a vote for one:

    1) Promised reduction, across the board, of social and military spending.

    2) Lower or do away with entirely the income tax and capital gains tax.

    3) Vociferous support for repealing the ban on importing foreign-made “assault weapons,” promise to repeal the 1986 cap on NFA Title II registered full-auto small arms.

    4) Move sound suppressors from being regulated as NFA items to being no more heavily regulated than handguns.

    5) Repeal and dismantle the idiotic and not-at-all-instant NCICS background check required to purchase a firearm.

  31. Please, please, all of you, vote for a balanced government this Novemeber. Please?

    JMJ

    Jersey McTroll,

    If you and your Democratic bretherin think it is ok for a law abiding citizen like myself to own a Colt AR-15 and a Baretta 92-FS with a 15 round clip, I will give it some thought.

    Oh yeah, and keep my taxes low.

  32. Sorry for being a pedant, but…

    B-a-retta was the show that starred Robert Blake.

    B-e-retta is the 500+-year-old company that makes firearms.

  33. Not to be confused with a Walther PPK, which he used…

    Oh, never mind.

  34. I’m just throwing out ideas here, people. Help me make the world a more equitable place for our female comrades.

    Libertarians don’t have “comrades”. Hehe. Brothers and sisters in arms, perhaps.

  35. What about select fire weapons and ammunition greater than 50 caliber?

  36. M’, one step at a time.

    Repealing the cap on select-fire weapons that was passed in 1986 would cause a fairly significant drop in price of Title II NFA firearms.

  37. re: “the fascist half-chink disease-ridden whore”

    I agree; we must watch our collective potty mouth!

    well – no.

    In my view, if you start treating people like children, they’ll act like children. The best way to keep the level of discourse mature and self-policing is simply to lead by example and ignore the occasional excesses/lapses. Poo-pooing people, or making patronizing comments about other people’s maturity level or their political-correctness leads to these cyclical debates, where we’re no longer talking, but ‘talking about talking’. (I HATE THAT!)

    There’s much to be said for getting rid of what you object to by ignoring it, and making it look silly in context through being more mature.

    I get into the occasional thing here and am no better than most, but having lived on bulletin boards and such for a while, it’s the only solution i know to maintaining quality discussions.

    No speech codes or FAQs. Be adults.

    re: guns?

    You can have my laser-sighted, grenade-launching flamethrower when you pry it from my cold dead…

    Seriously, i’d like to run a poll here to see what people really feel overall about all these libertarian pet-causes.

    Me, I just want less government in general.

    JG

  38. The right to bear arms shouldn’t be a right that we’re asking for if you know what I mean.

  39. I don’t care if Michelle Malkin is a b!+

  40. And my pet issue is people who think that security and liberty are mutually exclusive.

    Ways in which more liberty would make us safer:

    1) If the cops had to have a good reason to do a search they’d have to allocate resources more intelligently.

    2) If every law-abiding citizen could exercise appropriate means of self-defense then terrorists who tried to take over a building or mass transit vehicle would find themselves surrounded by armed first responders.

    3) If we stopped prosecuting victimless crimes the Afghan warlords would lose opium revenue.

    4) If peaceful immigrants had nothing to fear from the law, and could interact with a less capricious immigration system, law enforcement would probably be viewed with less suspicion and receive more cooperation from people who might have valuable information.

  41. Next time Mr Weigel maybe we can just silently hope for the best instead of challenging people to, well, I wont say it.

    Anyway, it doesn’t seem bad that people’s first reaction to this is not to worry to much. All those smart people at NSA, they must be able to work some numerology with these phone records, maybe, right? And no harm could come of this, right? But if people really think about it, they can see the that, maybe the really smart NSA folks get assigned to other projects. Goat entrails would be about as helpful for discerning terrorists.

    How about some FOIA requests from you guys to try to count up how many people have been indicted for non WOD offences because of leads generated by any of these database boondogles (CAPS II, banking SARS, whatever we call this). If it’s what I think (0), we are throwing away tens of billions a year on this baloney that could be better spent on just about anything else.

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