Because…Freedom! or Guns Can’t Shoot No NSA Sweep…But They Do Just Fine Against WAGs

Via The American Prospect’s incredibly valuable E. J. Graff, this:


You can have my metadata, but you will pry the projectile fired by my  [firearm of choice] out of my cold, dead partner.

Not to mention this.

This is not to diminish the implications of Osama Bin Laden’s victory — his ability to terrify the US into surrendering willingly what we have long said was worth fighting for.  That’s been coming a long time –see this ProPublica timeline (h/t TPM) for a quick overview of just how we’ve done it to ourselves over the last four decades.  But, I can’t cease getting heart sick at each new anecdote, each new framing of the rolling massacre that takes Americans by the dozens every damn day of the year…every year.

So, for those who declare the 2nd amendment the one sure bulwark against tyranny, I have a question:

Where were you when the surveillance state was forming?  What are you going to do about it now?  What tree, exactly, has been watered by the blood of all the men, women, and children lost to suicide, to partner-murder, to bad luck, to whatever.


Update: On tweeting this post I got a message from Chris Clarke, who made this chart and posted it to his Facebook page almost exactly a year ago.  I’m glad to be able to make the acknowledgement here.

82 replies
  1. 1
    srv says:

    Freedom is messy.

  2. 2
    suekzoo says:

    FreeDumb is even messier.

  3. 3

    Life is hard.

    Harder when you’re (willfully) stupid.

  4. 4

    I have nothing but contempt for Snowden.

  5. 5
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Well, we haven’t had a major servile rebellion since Nat Turner’s, so it’s not like all of those guns haven’t done any good.

    The second amendment is the one sure bulwark against something — just not tyranny.

  6. 6
    Comrade Jake says:

    I think I saw a comment somewhere that all this NSA stuff just goes to prove that a national gun registry is the first step in taking away everyone’s guns.

    Tin-foil hatters of the world, UNITE!

  7. 7
    Chris says:

    So, for those who declare the 2nd amendment the one sure bulwark against tyranny, I have a question:

    Where were you when the surveillance state was forming?


    I have said many times that when fascism comes to America, they won’t be the people running La Resistance, they’ll be the Brownshirt squads forming to help the Nazis track down, beat up and round up the Undesirables.

  8. 8

    @Ben Cisco (onboard the Defiant): Is life really harder for someone who’s willfully stupid? I mean, I know that objectively, of course it is. But if someone is too damned stupid to know it’s harder, doesn’t that make said hard life easier?

    A/k/a the Asshat Paradox. Because why not.

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Did you see the Prince Harry story? We’ve been discussing it and the royals in the thread below.

  10. 10

    @Violet: Yes I did and I thought it was brilliant, and to be honest a perfect example of how well Charles and the family raised him. As for “Randy Andy” there are stories I could tell but my lips are sealed.

  11. 11
    Redshirt says:

    IOKIYAAR The Monstrous

  12. 12
    Corner Stone says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: That’s tough language. Really tough. Tough, indeed.

  13. 13
    RobertDSC-PowerMac G5 Dual says:


  14. 14
    mai naem says:

    Martin just posted in the other thread that Nelson Mandela died? Don’t see it on CNN???

  15. 15
    lamh35 says:

    @mai naem: Mandela was in hospital as of yesterday, but reports of his dead are premature

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mai naem: TPM bought into a fake story. It is not true.

  17. 17
    lamh35 says:

    Wait, did this Snowden dude really say “I can even wiretap the president. All I need is an email request…”

    Really dude, really, um ok

  18. 18
    pokeyblow says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: You can always spot a well-raised child. He or she is the one dressed as a Nazi at parties.

  19. 19
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Clearly, Obama himself planted this story with Josh to provide cover to travel to HK and use a pillow case to end the Snowden Rebellion.
    It’s the only answer that makes sense.

  20. 20
    Corner Stone says:

    @lamh35: Are you contending that the NSA can’t tap politicians, or just can’t tap POTUS?

  21. 21

    @Corner Stone: Yes it is. It is meant to be. Let me tell you a story. When I was in the WRNS I served at the HQ for the Flag Officer for Scotland and Northern Ireland. One weekend we were all raised from our beds because some idiot had changed the Navy reservists paycheck addresses from their MAILING addresses to their HOME addresses. We now had in excess of 2,000 troops in Northern Ireland that we had to relocate OVERNIGHT. These so called ‘whistleblowers’ have no idea of the ramifications of their disclosures. From what I see he has already put agents in Switzerland and Hong Kong in danger.

  22. 22
    Mike G says:

    Constitutional solipsism. The only constitutional freedom the 2nd amendment fetishists will defend is the 2nd amendment. And then only for their tribe. Making it easier for the Trayvon Martins of the world to defend themselves is not on their agenda.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Um, sure. I’m just marking time until the new Inspector Lewis comes on. Don’t mind me.

  24. 24
    Cacti says:


    Wait, did this Snowden dude really say “I can even wiretap the president. All I need is an email request…”

    Did you catch the bit of info about Booz Allen Hamilton being majority owned by Carlyle Group.

    So, you’ve got a Paultard with a flair for histrionics (redundant, I know), who worked at a Bush-affiliated contractor for 3-months, and was given the highest level of security clearances, who then steals classified info, leaks it to a foreign paper, and flees for China.


  25. 25
    mai naem says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Wow, that is embarrassing. Josh should fire whoever posted that. Seriously, that is fucked up. I hardly go to TPM because my computer seems to slow down when I go to TPM but from what I remember the website didn’t normally put anything out new on the weekends. Guess he must have an intern doing it or something.

  26. 26
    Elie says:


    I am wicha on that…

    Listen — just saw “We Steal Secrets” — last night. A complex and excellent movie on a specific episode of whistleblowing but it surfaced a lot of important issues…NONE of which are yet getting discussed…

    There is a balance between the need for privacy and the need for the government to protect us and our interests. The dimensions of that “tension” or ‘balance” is before us and we need to be discussing it and stop with the hysterical melodrama…

    Snowden has some superficial kinship to Julian Assange. Both have the incredible egocentricity and narcissism that puts them in the center of the issue. Snowden at least avoided getting people named in the documents he released –. That said, his escape to Honk Kong and the “protection” of China is very interesting to say the least. Hmmmmm. China — known for its extensive protection of human rights and information sharing. Well — not so much — but any port in a storm, right? And that Greenwald was polishing this guy’s apple — not a surprise to me. But wait wait, I know — He’s so cool to some of you…!

    Listen — I know our progressive and libertarian brethren have their knickers bunched about this. But I want to hear what their scenario is about the risks AND upsides of this data being in government hands. Otherwise, you are just a bunch of screaming hysterics.

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: A perfect example of exactly why I contend Postal Service jobs are so important in our society! Well done, sir. You are to be commended for your quick action resorting those items.

  28. 28
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    *so you’re in on it too, eh?*

  29. 29
    eemom says:

    All this 24/7 posting on this topic, and not one Talking Heads post title.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Ask mclaren. She’ll tell you all about me.

  31. 31
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: She makes a mean fried bologna sandwich.
    But of course, you already know that, don’t you PFC Butterfield?

  32. 32
    Citizen_X says:


    Just waiting for Sunday Slaughter with George R.R. Martin to come on.

  33. 33
    Spaghetti Lee says:


    Your mind always goes straight for the most paranoid option, doesn’t it?

  34. 34
    Corner Stone says:

    Speaking of which, it’s starting to feel like a Popeye’s Fried Chicken kinda night.
    Extra gravy baby!

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @eemom: There is also this one. Or this from the Boomtown Rats

  36. 36
    eemom says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Ask mclaren. She’ll tell you all about me.

    The part I like is that we’re both privates……especially considering that you were an officer and I — in the inconceivable event I had ever joined the military — would probly have ended up like Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.

  37. 37
    pokeyblow says:

    @Corner Stone: I had Popeye’s recently after perhaps a ten-year hiatus.

    Am I wrong, or did it used to be more spicy?

  38. 38

    @Corner Stone: Why do all of you keep referring to me as a man? I thought everyone here knew I was female.

  39. 39
    Corner Stone says:

    @Citizen_X: Shoot, Snowden is like the guy in the Bruce Willis movie Surrogates, the one that’s gonna unplug us all from The Matrix.
    And then I’m going to have 10,000 of his babies!

  40. 40
    Spaghetti Lee says:


    Hey, I’m a civil liberties guy and I’m absolutely interested in discussing the balance between privacy and security and what powers the government should have. Problem is, whenever I try to do that here, I have to wade through half a dozen jackasses complaining that Glenn Greenwald is a dum-dum and the media hates Obama, so ipso facto it’s all a ratfuck. They’re the ones obsessed with histrionics.

  41. 41
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @eemom: I did spend about ten weeks as a PFC during basic training and the couple weeks afterward before OCS began.

  42. 42
    pokeyblow says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Based on your website, you seem like a most kind and interesting woman.

  43. 43
    Corner Stone says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Honestly, I thought that was the truth. But I can’t comment here and use female designations. This New Era of Civility ™ is hard.
    So welcome to letting it all hang out bro!

  44. 44
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: And you’d think stating that you were the WRNS would be a big enough clue, too.

  45. 45
    mai naem says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Well GG doesn’t give a crap about that because Obama stole his freedumb and also too, there’s no difference between Obama and Bush.

  46. 46
    Corner Stone says:

    @pokeyblow: No doubt about that. The spicy used to actually mean something. Now it usually just means I have to wait an extra 5 minutes for a hot batch to be ready. But that’s why I order it.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m still cracking up at the idea that the three of us are secret government employees spreading propaganda, but the actual government employee who went on national TV to spread propaganda is a persecuted whistleblower. Because, I guess, it’s totally implausible that the CIA would want to claim that torture was both more effective and less common than it actually was.

  48. 48
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason: Not everyone knows what that is. Also, given that it is the navy, god only knows who gets let into what.

  49. 49
    Elie says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    I am sure, sooner of later, the real issues and choices will have to be discussed. But it is very hard to have that discussion amid accusations that roll off both sides — including those who are big cheerleaders for Glenn.

    That said, he must be feeling pretty good about Snowden. Real class. Drop my bomb and run off to China (for Pete’s sake – China?!) — but he is a real freedom fighter for the truth — Bradley Manning was courageous if a bit misguided. Snowden … kinda limp.

    Really? Didn’t it make you cringe just a little bit? Just a little?

  50. 50
    pokeyblow says:

    @Mnemosyne: Are you the muse of memory, or word salads?

  51. 51
    Chris says:

    McCain says Gitmo should be closed?

  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: Good. If it moves things forward, good. But still, fuck him, the fucking asshole.

  53. 53
    pokeyblow says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Hear, hear.

  54. 54
    Spaghetti Lee says:


    Well, my opinion was that he saw what actually happened to Manning and decided it might be in his best interests to do something a little differently. I mean, “Have the courage to face the consequences” is one of those things that’s much easier to say from the sidelines, especially when the consequences might end up being indefinite detention without a trial or other fun stuff. So, no, I don’t think he was a coward, I think he was being realistic.

    Obviously, this story only broke a few hours ago and other stuff may come out, but from what I’ve read, he looks more like a straight-and-narrow guy who really did believe this was wrong and took a risk more than a self-promoter, which is what everyone of course is accusing him of being. That could change, of course, but that’s my opinion at the moment.

  55. 55

    @Corner Stone: Inconsequential true fact. My wife did a bit of set dressing on that movie. Remember the chase scene in the off-the-grid market? She made that.

  56. 56
    Misterpuff says:

    Gosh, I hope all those 2nd Amendment proponents made their gun purchases, ammunition purchases, gun rack purchases, gun oil purchases, gun safe purchases, gun magazine subscriptions and NRA membership dues in cash.
    Otherwise those Guvmint data miners might just be on to them. I sense Freedom being sliced and diced by spreadsheet.
    Patriot Act! Freedom! ACK!!!

  57. 57
    Chris says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    He’s been all over the place on this issue, issuing condemnations of Gitmo from time to time but not putting any actual support into it when people try to close it. And yes, really, fuck him.

  58. 58

    From, The Gift Of Fear: Men’s deepest fear is women will reject them, while women’s deepest fear is men will kill them.

    I think there’s a lot of truth to that.

  59. 59
    pokeyblow says:

    @Southern Beale: Not to troll, but the women who inexplicably go back to brutal men (e.g., Rihanna)… do they fear the men will kill them?

  60. 60
    Chris says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Men’s deepest fear is women will reject them, while women’s deepest fear is men will kill them.

    And that right there is the meaning of the word “privilege.”

  61. 61
    Elie says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    If you haven’t seen the documentary, “We Steal Secrets”, I highly recommend it to all. It is deep, thoughtful and takes a long time (two hours) to tell the very individual and detailed story behind WikiLeaks and the two people who were/are at its center.

    We are all, at the end of the day, human beings with all the flaws, warts — and grand dreams also. The documentary does great job of telling the story behind both Assange and Manning’s strengths, heroism and flaws. It also does a pretty good job off telling the story of our country and its interests, smoke screens and the complexity of the world.

    I don’t believe in an unmitigated right to privacy. Not in complex societies with layers of interdependencies. My hair stylist was showing me the instagram he puts out with personal photos and his facebook dilemmas. Yes, his choice — but the choices and the risks are complex.

    What I dislike about GG is his self satisfied ceirtainty that he is absolutely right — that there is just one smooth answer for our society. That will never be the case. We must respect our limits and we must be humble about the effects of our actions and beliefs.

  62. 62
    Citizen_X says:

    @Corner Stone: OK, not that up on my Bruce Willis movies.

  63. 63
    handsmile says:


    Just yesterday mrs. handsmile and i saw Stop Making Sense on the big screen at Astoria’s Museum for the Moving Image, and you’d best believe I thought how timely that song is as Byrne et al wailed away. (the mrs.hadn’t seen the movie before and I described it as being ninety minutes of joy; she agreed as the lights came back on and we stayed to see True Stories.)

    Supplementing OO’s excellent suggestions above (#35), I’d add this little TH ditty:

  64. 64
    burnspbesq says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I was hoping against hope that today would be the day you had a point to make.

    The triumph of hope over experience, apparently.

    Well, I suppose there’s always tomorrow.

  65. 65

    Seriously, my boss asked me to order him some Brooks Brothers shirts a month ago. Since that time every fucking ad on every website I visit has been for BB and you people are worried about the government mining your data?

  66. 66
    Corner Stone says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: One small difference is I can stop BB from bothering me, any time I want to.
    And I’m unfamiliar with the last person Brooks Brothers executed or sentenced to life w/o parole.

  67. 67
    Corner Stone says:

    @burnspbesq: Sure counselor! Feel free to check back tomorrow.
    I live for the day I meet your exacting standards of blog commentary!

  68. 68
    Spaghetti Lee says:


    I’m personally worried about both. I more actively dislike corporate monitoring, because I can see why the government might want to cast a wide net in looking for terrorists (even though they do overdo it sometimes) the glut of advertising in general and targeted ads in particular is just an annoying and unwelcome intrusion. I’m capable of buying shit without being bombarded with reminders, I’m not so capable of stopping someone from blowing up a building. I concede that big business can’t throw me in jail as easily, but, you know, they’re working on that.

  69. 69
    pokeyblow says:

    @Corner Stone: Sounds a bit like “it’s cool today, so I don’t know why you people are concerned about global warming.”

  70. 70
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Lincoln was wearing a black BB suit when he was shot. BB stopped making black suits for a long time after that.

  71. 71
    Spaghetti Lee says:


    I probably spend less time thinking about Glenn Greenwald than most people here. He’s a guy who talks about politics. There’s a lot of those. Some people think he’s a principled warrior, other people think he’s a hack with an audience full of dupes, which is the argument surrounding, oh, pretty much every op-ed writer ever. His opinion is just one of many, so I don’t know why so many threads devolve into middle-school bullshit (“You like Glenn! You can’t be our friend anymore!”) based around this one guy.

    I guess that’s not fair. Some threads devolve into the same thing about Andrew Sullivan or Rand Paul.

  72. 72
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: Some threads just devolve.

  73. 73
    A Humble Lurker says:


  74. 74
    Corner Stone says:

    @Southern Beale: Read that book pretty much when it came out. I thought it was well done at the time. May have to give it a dustoff now and see if it has held up.
    The first person perspective was an interesting twist at the time.

  75. 75
    Cacti says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    Your mind always goes straight for the most paranoid option, doesn’t it?

    No, very rarely actually.

    But any time there’s a connection to a Bush-family affiliate, I get suspicious.

  76. 76
    Spaghetti Lee says:


    The guy in question was an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton for the last three months, in a mid-level position. It’s a pretty tenuous connection you’ve got going there. Some guy who had been a big pooh-bah there for years and actively contributed to Bush’s election, sure, I’d give your theory a listen. Here, not so much.

  77. 77
    mk3872 says:

    Newsflash to Glennwaldo and his fellow merry marauders claiming tyranny: There have been spies since the beginning of friggin’ civilization. Time to get used to it, bro!

  78. 78
    Anne Laurie says:


    Not to troll, but the women who inexplicably go back to brutal men (e.g., Rihanna)… do they fear the men will kill them?

    Domestic violence is a huge topic, but here’s one tiny facet: Sometimes people get hooked on the adrenaline rush of fear, especially when all the boring sensible people in their lives are pursing up their mouths & lecturing about ‘next time you’ll listen to us.’ I know people who swear this is why most “extreme sports” proponents are men — women who want that rush don’t need to buy expensive equipment or travel to the ends of the earth to fear immediate death by extreme violence.

  79. 79
    Wag says:



    Naked may be the most misunderstood Andorra unappreciated of all the albums put out by the Heads.

  80. 80
    Wag says:


    Curse you autocorrect. Misunderstood and least appreciated, to clarify my utterance above

  81. 81
    mclaren says:

    As much as I agree with your sentiment here, your use of statistics is incredibly dishonest. Terrorism and death in a modern war of occuption like the U.S. war in Afghanistan are incredibly rare events. Absurdly rare, astoundingly rare, beyond-ridiculously-rare events.

    To compare this kind of statistically vanishingly unlikely event with a much more common event, domestic violence, is to twist statistics into a pretzel knot. Let’s turn your little con game with statistics around to see just how disingenuous it is:

    There were 13,096 drunk driving deaths in 2003 — more than the total number of deaths caused by domestic violence! And those drunk driving deaths include children!!! So we need to abandon the crusade against domestic violence, and start a war against driving. Because only by preventing people from driving can we prevent this kind of horrific carnage.

    Seriously. If you’re going to lie with statistics, at least do it cleverly.

  82. 82
    mclaren says:


    Not to troll, but the women who inexplicably go back to brutal men (e.g., Rihanna)… do they fear the men will kill them?

    “Blame the victim” remains a wonderfully popular American pastime, but many of these abused women have little education and children dependent on them, and truly have nowhere else to turn. “Blame the victim” really isn’t productive when talking about domestic violence.

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