Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the government-versus-the-governed dept

It’s been another week full of much-deserved rebukes of the government, and that’s hardly a surprise given some of the things politicians and officials have been saying. First place on the insightful side goes to silverscarcat, who responded to Obama’s claim that there’s no domestic spying program with an agreement of sorts:

He’s right!

We don’t have a domestic spy program.

It’s a GLOBAL spy program!

In second place, we’ve got DCX2 responding to Senator Feinstein’s comments in a debate about a journalist shield law, which attempted to narrowly define “real” journalists as only those with salaries:

A little history lesson…

There was once a man, several hundred years ago. He drew his salary not through journalism, but as a customs agent (and occasionally he would help help design bridges, candles).

Then one day, he wrote a leaflet, and signed it anonymously. This leaflet was distributed widely.

According to Sen. Feinstein, this man, who did not draw a salary from journalism, did not deserve First Amendment protections for publishing his leaflet.

The man is Mr. Thomas Paine. The time was January, 1776. The leaflet was Common Sense.

And fortunately for us, Supreme Court precedent is on our side. From Lovell v. Griffin, (1938) Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote in the majority’s unanimous opinion,

“The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. These indeed have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty, as the pamphlets of Thomas Paine and others in our own history abundantly attest.”

For editor’s choice, we’ve got another response to a comment from the President. This time it’s an anonymous commenter taking on Obama’s plan to improve “public confidence” in the FISA court:

Here’s a thought

You could improve “public confidence” in your secret court that handles secret laws for your secret police force

by not having a secret court that rules on secret laws for your secret police force



what an idea

And, last up on the insightful side, we’ve got another anonymous commenter pointing out that nefarious edits to Ed Snowden’s Wikipedia page made from a Senate IP address just highlight the wisdom of his decision to flee:

If this is true, it certainly cements the type of “fair trial” he’d be getting, if he had turned himself in.

Thanks again Congress for proving what most of us already knew!

Your incompetence is only shadowed by your arrogance.

Over on the funny side, first place goes to one of the shortest winners ever. When we discussed the fact that the government’s war on hackers is backfiring by making hackers not want to work for them, S. T. Stone offered a joke that, presumably, nobody working for the government understands:

sudo karma

In second place, we’ve got a pretty excellent comeback from an anonymous commenter, responding to Michael Hayden’s insulting claim that transparency activists are “twentysomethings who haven’t talked to the opposite sex in five or six years”:

Bold words from a man who hasn’t had an erection in decades.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from Skeptical Cynic, responding to the House Intelligence Committee’s threats to Rep. Grayson for informing other reps about leaked NSA docs:

In other headlines…

House Intelligence Committee threatens member with sanctions for providing intelligence to the House Committee that oversees Intelligence.

Follow up:

House Intelligence Committee denies having any intelligence on recently reported stories about the recent lack of oversight on Intelligence.

And, finally, we’ll bring in one comment that isn’t a response to government shenanigans. As a huge fan of animation myself, when the PTC complained about the new late-night cartoon ADHD, I had the very same thought as Michael did, and gave thanks to the busybodies:

Thank goodness the PTC is complaining about this.

If they hadn’t, I may not have ever heard about it. Setting my DVR now…

(So far, I’m hearing mixed reviews.)

That’s all for this week folks!

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt”

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Beech says:

I hate how much verbal tap dancing this administration does with EVERY sentence that comes out of their mouths. I mean, look at the seemingly innocuous sentence “We don’t have a domestic spying program.” You would look at that and assume “Americans being spied on = false.” But look at it like an English major and realize how many misleading definitions you could throw at it.

“We” – Who’s we? He could be talking about him and Leno. “Hey Jay, you and I are currently not operating a spying system.”

“don’t have” – maybe we don’t possess a spy program because it isn’t a physical object. Maybe we’re just operating a spy program. Maybe it’s on lease from some huge company that backed a political buddy.

“a” – we have TONS of domestic spy problems, so we don’t have A domestic spy program!!

“domestic” – as our #1 comment pointed out, its a global problem so we don’t have JUST a domestic spy program. Or he could be relying on the “51% chance of being foreign” test. Or he’s not spying on specific domiciles.

“spy” – hey! it doesn’t count until we look at it! so it’s not spying, its just data collection! and when we do look at collected data, that’s not spying! we’re just sifting and connecting dots and harvesting! and maybe to be a “spy” you need to communicate that information to a foreign power, I mean, it’s not like James Bond is going to sneak into Dr. Doom’s office, look at a bunch of papers detailing his evil plan, then just sit on the information forever. We’re keeping it under lock and key!

“program” – well, we don’t call it a program. its an operation/club/department/agency/government subsidized hobby!

It’s a shame that we need to sort through every syllable that comes from this president’s mouth.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Listen to his voice when he speaks about this issue, even he doesn’t believe the crap he’s spouting. He has the appearance of a man that is doing something against his conscience because he has no other choice. That isn’t to say I think he’s exonerated by that. Being complacent in the face of criminal behavior you have the power to stop makes you as guilty as the people perpetrating it.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

The Obama Administration and the Democratic Party have finally been brought down to the same level that Republicans always seem to be caught in.

If Republicans were smart, they would seize on this scandal and rally to Snowden’s defense because Democrats, as they continue to defend the Obama Administration, the NSA and this spying scandal while advocating that Snowden needs to stand trial for who they consider to be a traitor to this country, they really are missing the whole point of this.

The more Washington Democrats continue to refuse to give up the fight, one which they are losing, the NSA Spy Scandal is going to doom the Democratic Party much like how Republicans have been brought down over Watergate, Iran Contra, and the miscellaneous scandals that have embroiled the party.

Democrats really need to just admit defeat and one of those gestures could be in repealing The Patriot Act, disbanding the FISA courts and make a grand gesture that this abuse would never happen again because this country is being torn apart over this NSA spying program.

I’m just flabbergasted that Democrats still won’t admit that they’ve been fighting a losing battle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is split between the parties. You have those who are tied down to the way things are and the way things work such as Nancy Peloski, Mitch McConnel, Michelle Bachmann, Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Barack Obama…

and you have others like Darryl Issa (sometimes) Ron Wyden, Udall, Elizabeth Warren, Amash, Ron Paul, Rand Paul and others who are tired of the way things work. Some of the people in both camps want to watch the government burn, others want the government to work better.

The problem is, the people in the former camp are the leaders of the parties while those in the latter camp can’t make significant changes because they don’t have enough political clout.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

I truly don’t think that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans realize the shit-storm that Snowden kicked up. Snowden’s only move was to reveal the program that revealed the massive spying on every American in the country. But, what has happened is that this whole mess is having an unintended side effect, it has split not only the country down the middle, but there are members in both political parties who are on either side of this discussion.

There are Democrats and Republicans in support of the program and who are criticizing Snowden for what he has done and who are calling for his extradition back to the United States. Then, you also have the other half of the Democrats and Republicans who are also calling for an end to the program, greater transparency and an end to the massive hunt for Snowden.

This issue isn’t just about what is right or wrong, but how far our government went to cover it up and exactly who was complicit in this mess as well.

This whole NSA Spy Scandal has become an embarrassment to this country and yet the Democrats are falling over themselves so much that they have lost the compunction to admit that maybe they were wrong for supporting the NSA’s program. It’s an old trick that Republicans are always caught up in and yet, Democrats got suckered into falling for that as well.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You were doing so well there for a bit, and then you nosedived right back into laying the blame all at the feet of the democrats at the end there, as though both parties aren’t equally responsible.

Let me try and explain why this is flawed thinking. Both parties are responsible here, bush started the programs, obama continued him, and both major parties have voted to continue them without care until Snowden’s leaks started shedding a little light. By playing the blame game, it’s turned into a ‘those dirty republicans/democrats’, allowing blame to be passed back and forth between the parties like a game of hot-potato, all the while nothing gets done about the core issues themselves.

People don’t disagree when you say the problem is real, what they disagree with is how you seem to be trying to lay the blame all at the feet of one party, and turning a problem that both parties are equally responsible for into nothing more than a partisan issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Only one party ran a president on a platform of dismantling the illegal spying and then not only didn’t deliver but performed a total 180 as soon as he achieved the office. I’m not saying that both parties were complicit, in fact I’d say the Republicans were far more responsible for putting the measures in place, but only one party claimed they weren’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

So of all the posts made this week by the thought leaders here at Techdirt, the most insightful ones included:

He’s right!

We don’t have a domestic spy program.

It’s a GLOBAL spy program!


If this is true, it certainly cements the type of “fair trial” he’d be getting, if he had turned himself in.

Thanks again Congress for proving what most of us already knew!

Your incompetence is only shadowed by your arrogance.

By what objective standard are those insightful? What “insights” are present there that could not be made by an average middle school student?

The primary reason I even come here anymore (even though it raises my blood pressure to dangerous levels) is that I think that, from time to time, some people with actual influence in the world also read the stuff on this site. And it terrifies me that some of them might be fooled into taking it seriously, particularly the comments.

Is this really the level of debate and discussion that you not only want to have, but celebrate? This is a community that really seems to believe it is composed of the smartest people in the room, and these are the comments you want to use to identify the smartest of the smart?

If so, your community is poisoned on the inside, and it is limiting its effectiveness. Do you really want to effect change, or just congratulate each other about over who can display the highest level of righteous indignation?

Because you are at the point where you’re actively choosing to marginalize anyone who might help you do the former.

Beech says:

Re: Re:

Don’t like it? Be more insightful. What’s your explanation for Obama going on national TV and claiming we don’t have something that we CLEARLY AND OBVIOUSLY DO HAVE and he’s in the midst of persecuting the young man who REVEALED IT FOR REVEALING IT? If we don’t have a domestic spy program, then what is Snowden in trouble for?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So, what about the other two the community votes insightful? Do you not agree that they add to the discussion?

Or are the two that you quoted the only ones that may back up your point?

And no, I most certainly do not believe that I’m the smartest person in the room. I know I’m surrounded by people much, much smarter than me. However, the outward displays of ignorance in the Houses may be down to the fact that, for the most part, Congresscritters and Senators are paid based on just blindly pushing legislation through, rather than actually reading what they’re putting forward.

And as for “average middle-schooler”, educational statistics show that the US system is one of the lest-effective (like the UK) for actually teaching skills, rather than knowledge. Thus, those insights you deride may or may not come from the “average middle-schooler”.

I try not to congratulate people who I don’t believe worthy of it. And you’re asking for objectivity on a blog. That means that there will be biases, even if the person tries to correct for those biases. People tend to congregate where their biases are confirmed. This isn’t just theorising, this is as close to a fact about human thought processes as you can get – and there are STILL exceptions.

So no, reasoned debate is healthy, but blind attacks are not. By design, they distract from actual debate.

See? We can disagree without attacking one another. And this should be encouraged. ALWAYS.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

I tend to agree that neither political party is doing what they should be doing. The only time they care about the American People is when it’s time to win their vote.

Take a look at Senator Feinstein, who got right up to defend the Obama Administration, slam Edward Snowden, and then act like there isn’t anything they see wrong with spying on every American. Just how long does it take for you to keep doing the wrong thing because you begin to realize that you’ve been wrong all along.

This is why the supporters of the Democratic Party are so disillusioned and disappointed with the attitude that Senate Democrats seem to be taking over this whole NSA spy scandal. Even the two year old down the street from me said that it’s wrong to spy on everybody when they have done nothing wrong.

Democrats seem to be taking every single American citizen, lumping everyone into the same pile, and taking the attitude “well, we wouldn’t be spying on you if you were innocent”. This whole concept of “everybody is guilty” is something you expect from Republicans, NOT from Democrats.

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