Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Forrest Gump's doppelganger . . .

The eminent constitutional scholar from the National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg, weighed in with a Star Tribune commentary today dismissing the illegal surveillance/wiretap program by the NSA as a minor inconvenience only directed at “certain” people. In other words, if you don’t have anything to hide, you really shouldn’t be worried. After all, only, like, 500 citizens were involved.

The headline for the commentary is What do we look like – jerks? No, Jonah you don’t look especially like a jerk; that conclusion is usually drawn only after you write or say something. In trying to explain his position, Jonah reaches back into that expensive education of his to find the most relevant cultural reference he can think of: Steven Martin in The Jerk.

Remember, asks Jonah, the scene in The Jerk when Navin Johnson (our protagonist, the jerk) gets stalked at random, and how ridiculous that is? Man that was funny! Jonah wants us to conclude this is just a case of life imitating art.

Do you ever quote Forrest Gump, Jonah? Spot says that Gump would be perfect for you.

There have also been reports in the media that the NSA program is not limited to isolated jerks, but rather is a much broader “data mining” project. Here’s what John Dean - from Watergate, remember? – said in a FindLaw column recently:
Indeed, here, Bush may have outdone Nixon: Nixon's illegal surveillance was limited; Bush's, it is developing, may be extraordinarily broad in scope. First reports indicated that NSA was only monitoring foreign calls, originating either in the USA or abroad, and that no more than 500 calls were being covered at any given time. But later reports have suggested that NSA is "data mining" literally millions of calls - and has been given access by the telecommunications companies to "switching" stations through which foreign communications traffic flows.

In sum, this is big-time, Big Brother electronic surveillance.

But actually, Jonah we don’t know how big it is, and neither do you. So spare us the speculative BS.

Smartie also has a good post about Golberg’s piece this morning.

Tags: channels Forrest Gump on

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