Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
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If You Build It, They Won’t Come
So the USA PATRIOT Act will be renewed with bipartisanship support as broad as that ridiculously broad WWF championship belt. Also, the Senate Intelligence Committee has decided that an inquisition into the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping isn’t really all that necessary. In case you’re keeping score, congressional Democrats just pulled a flawless 180° salchow in the civil liberties event. That’s a 5.2 on grace, 6.1 on speed, and a perfect 10.0 on poll reading!
For all of the demagoguery, these twin issues were never going to be operable fulcrums for the Democratc party if the American people didn’t much care. And polls have generally supported that they don’t: George Bush’s approval ratings have been going up with some solid consistency ever since the ‘Spying on Terrorists Too Much’ scandal broke. Why? It isn’t because the White House’s decisions don’t raise legitimate legal questions, because they do. It is that Americans for a very long time have allowed presidents to do things that otherwise would raise legitimate legal questions if they feel it is in their families’ interest to do so. What the Democrats forgot was that they would (and have been) unable to find anyone—anyone—who was harmed as a result of warrantless wiretapping. They couldn’t find anyone who knows anyone who was harmed by warrantless wiretapping. And, though their eyes are peeled, they can point to no black helicopters or white vans spirting away law-abiding Americans in the still of the night to berate them for having failed to take advantage of Domino’s 5-for-5 deal on Tuesday nights.
The notion of standing is usually thought of in terms of judicial branch activities. It also applies to the elected branches of government. If Democrats want to accuse the Bush administration of lawlessly expanding its power, they were going to need to be able to point to some victims. Right now, the only victims of the NSA program (And they’re suing valiantly, now that the New York Times has given them cause of action!) have been actual terrorists. That makes this a losing crusade.
Once I hit ‘save’ on this entry, I know what the e-mailers will write. And yes, it is true that of equal concern to the wiretapping is the legal theorizing that led to them, and the fact that such interpretations of such statutes could give rise to other, truly oppressive progams. I understand that, and I think Americans understand that. They also understand that the Bush administration’s ‘dangerous’ interpretations are hardly novel. They’ve lived through incidents in which American citizens were spied upon purely because they represented the political opposition, or were rabble rousers. They have now seen Jamie Gorelick arguing for the Clinton administration’s right to beat down your door without a warrant in cases of foreign intelligence. Many have lived through internment. So Democrats will have to excuse Americans who don’t very much care about hard knee phone tap policies in this age, where all Danes have to do to get their embassies torched and death orders on their heads is print an editorial cartoon, and all America has to do to be attacked is, well, nothing.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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