In response to Mary's post at the mothership, I commented on the article about why the FISA Telcon debate matters. And it's long so I thought to immortalize it here for my edification. With some editorial improvements or additions.
Frankly, I have a HUGE problem with Dean's article, or rather Solove's article.
Yes, it's fine as an intellectual exercise, an underpinning of the philosophical in a broader context.
But that's the god damned problem. It's why people think the Democrats are weak and feeble. And they are. Because they never get practical and down and dirty. They still don't tell people why "I've got nothing to hide" completely misses the point and why it matters to YOU.
Privacy is namby pamby amorphous bullshit. How about it matters because the government can use the information they gather to ruin your life? Give your confidential business affairs to your competitor? Twist your innocent e-mail into a rendition trip to Kazakhistan? Find out about your health issues and use that information as leverage to shut you up?
Suppose you're a random blogger, and the Bushites want to shut you up. You haven't done anything wrong. But they can use information gleaned by spying on you to make you late for a Doctor's appointment, or let your red necked boss know about your political activities, and he can fire you for some bs reason.
They could say, "Steve, we know what schools your kids are going to, we know who you work for, we know what things concern you the most, and we can make sure that those things happen to you."
"Congressman McNerny, we can ruin the business you built, we can make sure that freeway offramp goes by Mr. Issa's car alarm shop, we can find out your scheduled flight and get it cancelled, we can find out where those runaway Democrats went from the Texas Statehouse, and get one of them to switch his vote by threats and pressure and demonstrations of crossing Tom DeLay because look at what power he can access from the NSA, even though he hadn't done anything wrong."
They can threaten to expose reporters sources unless the reporter stops asking questions, it goes on and on and on.
Yes, Solove is correct, that defense only works when you assume that privacy is only used to hide wrong doing. And yes, a lot of what we do is nobody else's business, i.e teenage angst, And yes, a leering, lurking government watcher inhibits freedom of expression.
But that doesn't account for the practical abuses, and that's what the republicans specialize in. Remember, republicans are, at their core, stupid and/or ignorant (at least the ones we have to deal with today). They don't trouble themselves with high notions or concepts. They only want to know how they can make MONEY from the deal. Who is on your side and who isn't. Who is helping Blackwater set up shop in Potrero, and who is working to stop them
Give practical reasons for why this spying must stop. Not because it's wrong, and runs completely counter to the basic core of the Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights, which it is and which it does, but because they can use it to screw over innocent Americans who get in the way of their greed and lust for power.
Why do you think republicans always seem to get the best deals, the best contracts, the best jobs? Dumb luck? Because they earned it? Please.
So, to sum up, don't just make the philosophical argument, make the practical argument, and make the practical argument first, then buoy it up with the deeper underpinnings. I'm sure you all can think of real examples of how all that gathered information can be used against perfectly innocent Americans, so use them instead of the touchy feely weak ass stupidity that Democrats usually use and lose with.
Thanks, rant off.