Giraffe Execution Open Thread

I saw this story about Marius the Giraffe over at TPM, and while it's easy to understand that the zoo felt the animal needed to be put down, and it's also easy to understand that animal rights groups were upset over the poor creature's fate, this is not at all easy to understand:  

Marius, a healthy male, was put down Sunday using a bolt pistol, said zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro. Visitors, including children, were invited to watch while the giraffe was then skinned and fed to the lions. 

Say what now? What kind of zoo invites children to watch one of its animals be killed, butchered and thrown to the lions? Is there something wrong with Danes that this seems like an enjoyable experience for a bunch of gradeschoolers? Is the idea that children should learn about the brutality of life and the inevitability of death in the most graphic way imaginable at the earliest possible age? Worst. Field trip. Ever.  


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They told me if I voted for Romney, press freedom would plummet,

Bird Dog's picture

and they were right!

After a year of attacks on whistleblowers and digital journalists and revelations about mass surveillance, the United States plunged 13 spots in the group's global press freedom rankings to number 46.


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Reminder on the Obama admin's record


“Eight whistle-blowers have been charged under the Obama administration, the highest number of any administration, of all other administrations combined,” Delphine Halgand, who heads the RSF outpost in Washington, told Yahoo News.


Of course every sophisticated Democrat here knew that a former constitutional law professor would attack freedom of the press like no other president.


Only the silly, naive left even finds this worth mentioning.



All the more reason to support Greenwald's new enterprise


And independent journalism that fearlessly reports on national security issues.


Your linked article mentions the campaign against Greenwald in particular: NBC's David Gregory asked him why he shouldn't be prosecuted for aiding and abetting a felon. Representative Peter King declared that "legal action should be taken against him." Representative Mike Rogers charges that he is a thief who sells stolen material.




lets not be too hasty in deciding who gets these press freedoms....

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Pistols at dawn, again.


Did Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plagiarize the lawsuit he filed Wednesday against President Barack Obama and the National Security Agency?

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank reported that Paul originally drafted the class action suit he filed under former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's (R) name with the help of Bruce Fein, who recently served as an attorney for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's father.


Fein's ex-wife and spokeswoman, Mattie Fein, told Milbank that Cuccinelli stole "the work product, intellectual property and legal genius of Bruce Fein" without payment.

She added that Paul, who "already has one plagiarism issue, now has a lawyer who just takes another lawyer's work product."


The libertarian opposition to Obama's national security policies


tiny and incompetent.

As opposed to


the mainstream opposition,  which is large and incompetent,  to the extent that it is even opposition.

From Executions To Clemency

M Scott Eiland's picture

If my count is correct, we're about a month overdue to rescue the current troika from their durance vile.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

This has been a remarkably quiet six months


Even Hank and BD have only been modestly snappy with each other. (Not that I'm asking for another six months!)

Andrew, It Was Your Gentle Whip Hand that Made It So...:>}}/nt



So Rand Paul


has realized that many people view the label of Republican as synonymous with Fusty Old Person, and so has said,

We have to welcome people of all races. We need to welcome people of all classes – business class, working class...We need to have people with ties and without ties, with tattoos and without tattoos; with earrings, without earrings...We need a more diverse party. We need a party that looks like America.

So the Rand Paul/Libertarian outreach to the social liberals and non-whites is in full swing. In a fit of whimsy, I wrote an imaginary dialogue to distill this outreach:


"So, we think that poor people should suffer for being poor, but we're totally down with the gays, so we're on your side."

"So would you appoint judges who advanced gay rights?"

"Well, we'd appoint strict constructionists..."

"Okay, so no. Would you advance legislation that advances gay rights?"

"Well, the state has no business defining marriage anyway."

"Ah, so no again. So by being 'for gay rights,' you mean that you personally have never actually gone gay bashing?"

"Exactly! We're also totally not racist--we've acknowledged chattel slavery is wrong, but that it's not the government's business to try and end it."

"So, you're morally patting yourselves on the back for making a tepid condemnation of slavery?"

"Yes! This will totally get the blacks to vote for us! Because we want to help them!"

"Ah, now we're getting somewhere! So you want to increase access to polling for folks who live in overwhelmingly black and Latino districts?"

"Well, no, that would encourage voter fraud."

"So you want to help with Head Start so that people from overwhelmingly poor and black neighborhoods have the opportunity to advance themselves by hard work and education?"

"Well, no, it's not the government's business to provide pre-school."

"So what exactly do you want to do to help black people?"

"Cut social services to encourage Personal Responsibility!"

"So... You're actually just a Republican who wants to get laid and smoke a bowl..."

"Um, yes."


No, this isn't entirely fair, but it's a pretty concise summation of why the Tattooed and Pierced Socially Liberal Republican usually winds up being fundamentally indistinguishable from the Angry Baptist Minister Republican when it actually comes to making policies that affect women, non-whites, gays, and the like.

You're right

Bird Dog's picture

Your effort isn't entirely fair, and I'll say it's closer to generally unfair. The message Paul is sending, if you read between the lines, is his support of comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, both of which are positions that Romney opposed. Paul is trying to steer the conversation, using his skills at persuasion, without angering or alienating (a la Huntsman) the Redstate segment, toward reconsidering a position on immigration that will draw Hispanics instead of chase them away.


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

The language of piercings and tats


gave me the impression that he's basically talking about cosmetic stuff that's of a piece with right libertarians who say that they personally are socially liberal but generally don't have any help for the socially liberal causes they say that they're personally for.


I've seen too many "libertarians" who, time and time again, turn out to be your very generic Republicans who don't want to be cosmetically identified with something that's associated with fusty sixty-year-olds. Sure, I suspect that it's just possible that you get someone who reduced everything to first principles and then came up with positions that are functionally identical to those of Republicans, but with the religious element carefully excised. And it's reasonable to want to distance oneself from the Republican label! But it's disingenuous to distance oneself from a label when supporting all of the policies of team R.

The key nugget is...

Bird Dog's picture

...this: "...if you want to work and you want a job and you want to be part of America, we’ll find a place for you,” That is the essence of what comprehensive immigration reform is, and he said it in a state that is 40% Hispanic while addressing the political epicenter of the Texas GOP. The dissonant part is his earlier statement that it "doesn't mean we give up on what we believe in." What's more, the people in the audience knew exactly what he was saying, given their reaction:

There was some quiet applause in the massive hotel ballroom, in which hundreds of Republicans — a mix of high-dollar donors, activists and state officials — were gathered. But Paul remarked that the response was “kind of tepid.”

They heard the CIR dogwhistle loud and clear, and it took some measure of political bravery for him to say it. I'm sure Paul was also doing political repackaging in the run-up to 2016, but that's nothing new for any ambitious politician. That said, I don't think there's a lot of daylight between him and the other aspirants. He's using the libertarian angle to differentiate himself, but functionally he's well within the Republican mainstream, so we agree to that extent.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Mr. Sshi:


Next time you feel yourself carried away by such a "fit of whimsy," I would strongly suggest that you stifle it.


To write a half-way decent dialogue, you've got to have at least a minimal grasp of the position of your opponent, plus an ability & willingness to express his position in words that he himself would accept.


The above just makes me embarrassed for you.

It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

So is it your contention


that Rand Paul is in favor of Head Start? Of greater access to polling places? Of legislation to advance marriage equality? 


Or perhaps you're arguing that Ron Paul regularly denounced the Confederacy?

No, Mr. Sshi.


That is not my contention.


My contention is that you deliberately misrepresent some positions of your ideological opponents, and that you do it very, very badly.



It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

Why don't you represent those positions accurately, v?

mmghosh's picture

I would be one the first to acknowledge that you write extremely well, when you do so wish.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

So help me out here


am I mis-representing that Libertarians of the Ron and Rand Paul brand only tepidly condemn chattel slavery, and then only when called on it? Am I mis-representing that Libertarians support judges that would not advance the socially liberal causes that they have nothing against? Am I mis-representing that Libertarians' pride in being Not Racist only amounts to not actually using racial slurs? Am I mis-reprenting that the senior Paul believes the Civil Rights Act to be unconstitutional and that the younger only endorsed it under pressure?


Help me out here: what aspects of the Paul wing of the GOP am I getting wrong?


I'll wait.


PS: "Mr. Sshi" is like saying "Mr. Mr." 

The 80s band? nt

HankP's picture


I blame it all on the Internet

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel

brutusettu's picture

Mr. Mister is the 80's band,

Mr.Mr is a male Korean pop vocal group


Mr. Mr. as Andrew typed it, is  the name of a female Korean vocal group's next single. 

Take. These broken wings. And learn to fly again... -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Well I never, I mean really, the very idea, etc. -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

needs more jazz hands nt

HankP's picture


I blame it all on the Internet

Addressing someone as Mr. Sshi.

brutusettu's picture

I think those are fighting words fwiw.



" at least a minimal grasp of the position of your opponent, plus an ability & willingness to express his position in words that he himself would accept"


What's next, one has to describe a product in a way its PR department and advertisers would use when talking to potential consumers/boycotters?




It's a modest enough


pleonasm that I'm willing to let it slide.

No, Mr. Et Tu


We are not talking about commercial products. We are talking about positions on philosophical/moral/political issues. If one wants to engage such things seriously, and not just indulge in public ideological masturbation, one ought to make at least some attempt to understand where one's opponents are coming from, and to paraphrase them in terms that they themselves would accept.

It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

Too funny

HankP's picture

you do realize that if anything, Andrew was more than fair and didn't even use the lunatic quotes he could have used from Republican officeholders and libertarian "thinkers"?


I'm afraid you're the one who's out of touch with the actual positions and statements made by conservatives themselves over the past several years. Someone holding the views that Andrew portrayed would be considered "not conservative enough" in today's politics.


I blame it all on the Internet

You want funny, Hank, I'll give you funny

mmghosh's picture

I'm now digging into the truly lunatic world of...American monarchists!

“Demotist systems, that is, systems ruled by the ‘People,’ such as Democracy and Communism, are predictably less financially stable than aristocratic systems,” Anissimov writes. “On average, they undergo more recessions and hold more debt. They are more susceptible to market crashes. They waste more resources. Each dollar goes further towards improving standard of living for the average person in an aristocratic system than in a Democratic one.”


Exactly what sort of monarchy they’d prefer varies. Some want something closer to theocracy, while Yarvin proposes turning nation states into corporations with the king as chief executive officer and the aristocracy as shareholders.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

It's of a piece with all conservatism

HankP's picture

they want betters to worship.


I blame it all on the Internet

Not at all surprising that Silicon Valley culture


would produce scads of Libertarians... and Libertarianism, for those who are fully awake to its implications, is irrevocably incompatible with democracy.


And of course its sense of history and economics and economic history is beyond warped. In short, it would be harder for them to be more wrong about everything if they'd set out to be wrong about everything from the get-go, and yet, there they are. 


Hip Hop culture has some of the same tendencies. I can easily imagine a gangster-geek conjunction forming a radical atavist movement that could dominate our political sphere in the coming decades. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I'm saving it up


for you and nils until after a few deadlines coming up at work.   But one brief one:


"Libertarianism, for those who are fully awake to its implications, is irrevocably incompatible with democracy."


Yes, of course.  Freedom is the absence of authority,  and democracy is just a particular means of selecting who has authority.  It's also incompatible with monarchy.

That's only partially correct

HankP's picture

libertarianism is incompatible with all forms of government except anarchy.


I blame it all on the Internet

Finally, someone tells me I'm right about something,


even if it is in the context of being completely wrong about nearly everything. :)

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

i wonder


if that's the product of the ingrained "if then" type of thinking that is common among coders.


its tempting to look at the universe thru a very causal and linear and rule bound viewpoint when you spend thousands of hours in your career programming using the very basic logic and syntax of code.


program flow is very easy to understand ultimately, and its easy to think the universe is going to basically be the same. chaos and uncertainty inherent in the universe is modeled out of 99.9999% of computer code. so it makes sense to me that some people find it easier to ignore.


hence the libertarian tendency to argue from principles rather than from examples. in OO this is class vs instance. you know the object class, you can say with certainty what  an instance of the object will do.


just a thought.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Interesting, seems plausible. However what I had in mind


was the superstar economics of the industry itself, the cults of personality circling around people like Gates and Jobs, Zuckerberg, etc., the massive overnight fortunes that have become the yardstick of success, the real-life rags-to-riches fairytales the whole industry salivates over. Coding itself might be linear and driven by a priori logic, but the economics of the industry is driven by the whims of popular fashion, fads, and the outsized personalities of the renegades who rise to the top. In other words: aristocratic fashion. Watch the movie Elizabeth and you'll see a near-perfect analogy for how Silicon Valley empires are built around those who know how to master the theater of power hipness. The digital industry lives and dies by the notion that mavericks and lone wolf geniuses drive all progress, that aggression and selfishness and unconventionality are the keys to success. The romantic theory of genius has finally found an insanely lucrative commercial expression. The fact that it won't work in other industries or walks of life is presumably easy to forget for people obsessed with trying to find the right Elizabethan hairstyle that will make them the next King of IPO Mountain.


Unfortunately all of those values are basically opposed to civil welfare, social insurance & the mitigation of risk, the rote labor of ordinary life, unionization & cooperation and the "will of the people" (although the freeware/GNU/hacker/Anonymous movements seem to have social interests at heart). In a world of powerful overnight fiefdoms ruled by Napoleons like Zuckerberg, democracy and its institutions come to seem at best distasteful, and at worst anathema to all progress. 


Maybe there's an analogy to what you are saying about the logic of coding... the Programmer as Philosopher-King. I'm not quite bright enough to puzzle it out though. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes



all the instant money avalanches and fame and glory serve to do to these people is to convince them that they are the perfect result of a cascade of if/then statements. "i chose this path. and now i am rich."


you don't have to be steve jobs to think this way. a 24yr old making $150K in SF sees a homeless person and just thinks "bad if/then path. program fail."


*they* have made every single right decision, every step along the way - and even every failure - serving to reinforce the idea that they know *exactly* what they are doing and so the universe must follow the same logic.


of course i am generalizing in the extreme here. i'm sure there is room for subtlety and that there are many who are more circumspect.



“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Please dial it down




HankP's picture

yes, anything less would be unfair. It might hurt someone's feelings, or portray them in a less than favorable light.



I blame it all on the Internet

Oh don't be a d!ck

HankP's picture

lighten up. At least his writing has the virtue of not being an endless whine.


I blame it all on the Internet

I agree, HankP.


One shouldn't be a d!ck.


Part of not being a d!ck is not misrepresenting the positions of one's interlocutors.

It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

Much of political discourse,


Much of political discourse, both intra and extra-tribal, involves misrepresenting the opposition.
On theforvm, it is an art.  Some are crude, like myself.  Some elevate it to a level I aspire by skillfully dancing along the PRs while stabbing straw men with a flaming sword.  I try to take lessons from those in the latter category and not take it personally.

Like you do with, uh, just about everyone? nt

HankP's picture


I blame it all on the Internet

No, HankP.


I don't.

It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

Uh huh

HankP's picture











and many, many more.



I blame it all on the Internet

nuh huh


I guess you just linked to the first half a dozen old comments of mine that came to hand, even though not one of them supported your case - assuming, probably rightly, that nobody will bother to check.


It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.


HankP's picture

from the first link - "it's the liberals who have been doing all the cherry-picking here". That's not misrepresenting someone else's arguments?


I blame it all on the Internet

Oh, HankP


This is just beyond pathetic.


I call, again, on Catchy. Are you still around, or not? Maybe HankP would listen to you.


Failing Catchy, maybe even Jordan can divorce himself from his politics for the few moments necessary to explain to you your error, here...


...well, yeah, as if.


For the record: I never, ever knowingly misrepresent anybody's position on any philosophical question whatsoever. For me, that's pretty much the ultimate moral imperative.

It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

Well, it's kind of funny you ask,


since our last exchange, on the topic of confiscatory taxes, if you recall, you were wondering aloud who I was "out to get", and suggested that I was acting like a caricature of one of Evelyn Waugh's socialist sock puppets. I don't feel those comments represented my side of the exchange very well, though I take no position as to whether you were intentionally misrepresenting what I said or simply confused about what you thought I meant.  


I don't take any stand on whether one ought to or oughtn't to misrepresent one's interlocutors, having been known to do same from time to time for reasons of (choose one or more of the following): flying off the handle, malice, for the sake of a joke, simple confusion on my part, galactic failure of math skills (ask eeyn), baiting someone into an admission or error, or just the sheer simple joy of pressing people's buttons. It's all very Socratic, really.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

OK, Jordan...


I didn't get anywhere with you.


No surprise.


No biggy.


I am very, very rarely surprised.

It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

I feel like I failed a test


without having been told I was taking a test, or what the questions were, or the subject matter, and I'll never get to see the score or know the results, or even know whether there were results. Which Tarkovsky film have I wandered into?

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Well, yeah, Jordan


You failed the test.

It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

Which is apparently so crypto even the cryptos


can't decrypto it. :)

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I disagree

HankP's picture

I blame it all on the Internet

Catchy, I know you...


for a relatively honest man.


May I ask you to check out these links, and judge for yourself?

It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

New Republican Party logo:


"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Krugman's lowered expectations


Yellen mentioned that the labor market is terrible even though her policies would be the same as her predecessor's.


Apparently that's good enough for Krugman.

I think his point was slightly narrower.


I don't think he's even implying that he is happy about the taper.


Having said that, emission can't go on forever. Our big problem is regressive fiscal policy.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

GOP folds on debt ceiling


Hmmm ... maybe a certain president should've called their bluff in the past too.


Plus, Democrats who were making excuses for Obama's ransom payments to the GOP back in 2011, in the form of hundreds of thousands of lost jobs no less, should hang their heads in shame.

Reading Redstate is going to


Reading Redstate is going to give me fatal schadenfreude.

you need to share that stuff heet


Stop being selfish w your schadenfreude

Now that McConnell voted to


Now that McConnell voted to end cloture, the schadenfreude is flowing like wine!

You buried the lede!

HankP's picture

How could you not share Erick son of Erick's awesome 4:30 AM penis obsession meltdown!


I blame it all on the Internet


Bird Dog's picture

They couldn't work a trade with any another zoo? WTF is wrong with those Danes?

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

It would take the place


of a more genetically distinct animal.



Very weak indeed. This is the premeditated brutal murder of a healthy, living, and rare mammal based on technicalities.


Honestly I sense a degree of bloodlust on the part of whomever made the decision, and certainly very little empathy. There were a lot of alternatives and the answer to all was no.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Who knows. Maybe the zoo chief hates giraffes.


I was assaulted by a monkey when i was about 4 and I still hate those guys. 


But if we take them at their word, then the reasoning was this - Giraffes populations in zoos will only be kept healthy in the long term if there is a diverse genetic pool to breed from. Offers from other zoos were not accepted because space for giraffes is limited in zoos and this one would have held a place for years which would better have been occupied by a better genetic breeding partner for other existing giraffes. Offers from individuals were rejected on various obvious grounds including things like not wanting to have a giraffe, a social animal, housed alone.


Really, unless you are against killing animals at all, I'm not sure I can see the special problem posed here.


I agree that the public autopsy and butchering was wierd. I had to help slaughter, bleed and gut 2 pigs last weekend. I wouldn't have my children, at 4 and 2, watch that.

So. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .the other zoos making the offers to take the giraffe in question were what--incompetent to make their own decisions regarding what kind of giraffe best met their needs? That's a truly special level of arrogance on the part of the zoo that staged the slaughter.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I Don't Think They Made a Good Faith Effort


I am sure, for example, that they could have found a private sponsor. That, plus other zoos should have been the ones to determine the genetic wisdom of taking the animal. They were not even given that chance.


I am not against killing animals unconditionally. Heck, I'm not even against killing people unconditionally. It's all about motive and context and the context here tells me that this is a barbaric act, because the justifications are weak to non-existent, while the animal was healthy, not to mention the way it was carried out in front of young children. Whomever was in charge of this demonstrated lack of good judgment on several grounds, and should be summarily removed from the zoo.


Sorry about the monkey episode. But, if a human had done that to you would you hate all humans? Because humans pull stuff like that on a regular basis.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Deeply conflicted here


On the one hand,  the requirement to respect people's desire for privacy with respect to childhood traumas.  On the other hand,  an irrational interest in hearing more about this monkey assault.

Yes, The Monkey Assault....All





and it's painful to relive this event that shifted my view of the natural world from that of a faded Garden of Eden to a Boschian Nightmaric Vista.


but, since you're all plying me with drink and listening attentively....


I was at some sort of Zoo with my family and there was a cage with monkeys. They were those little black and white ones with the big orange eyes and the bald tiny little hands. You know - the ones we, as a species, should relentlessly pursue to the ends of the earth and exterminate as our sacred duty.


There were monkey treats of some kind which we visiting children were encouraged to feed these beasts. Little did I realise that there were 2 kinds of monkey treats. So I sat, like Thyestes before this Simian Atreus, and the meal began. Treat after treat was gratefully recieved and devoured until all of treat type 1 were consumed. I, sweet and loving in regard, offered treat type 2. I can still clearly remember the next 5 seconds. The treat was snatched and examined. Pause. It was broken open to see perhaps if treat type 1 was hidden inside. Then quick as lightening, this little Cercopes reached through the bars, grabbed my hair with both hands and, screaming like a harpy, repeatedly bashed my head against the bars of his cage.


It took 2 adults and a umbrella to free me.


Werner had it right


The chunnggle chewed him up.

aireachail's picture

"Our kitchen crew slaughtered our last four ducks. While they were still alive, Julian plucked their neck feathers, before chopping off their heads on the execution block. The white turkey, that vain creature, the survivor of so many roast chickens and ducks transformed into soup, came over to inspect, gobbling and displaying, and used his ugly feet to push one of the beheaded ducks, as it lay there on the ground bleeding and flapping its wings, into what he thought was a proper position and making gurgling sounds while his bluish-red wattles swelled, he mounted the dying duck and copulated with it."


Back when I had hair it was thick and very curly. It was especially so when I was an adolescent. Once while visiting zoo with a girl I was crazy about, I walked with her into the reptile house with the intent to get out of the hot sun for a few minutes. It was extremely dark in there before our eyes adjusted and as we paused just inside the door, I heard a screech and felt something fling itself on top of my head.


Yep. It was a monkey. He had wrapped his little hands and feet tightly into my hair and acted as though he intended to treat me the way a vain turkey treats a beheaded duck.


I know how you feel.

If ever there was a sign


that your cologne choices need work, that was probably it.

Germanic Notions Of Order


Please. What is it with this obsession with order? The word should never have been invented.


Order, German style:


This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

+1. But people love German order.

mmghosh's picture

I didn't realise my car insurance was with Allianz until a few weeks ago.  Its amazing how Allianz, Bayer, Hoechst, Agfa, BASf quickly penetrated our industrial culture after liberalisation.  Its like Auschwitz never happened.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

This is my new favorite zoo story ever.


I'm sorry you got roughed up by a monkey, but that would make one hell of an icebreaker if you had to give a speech or something. Complete with the Herzog monologue. Can you pronounce "chutchment" in his accent? All you'd need is some plausible segue to the topic at hand. 



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes



but I'm not sure that my one tops aireachail's. 

Even more conflicted


- not supposed to be laughing for several minutes about an injury to a child.  Too bad there's no video of the actual event,  but Herzog is good substitute entertainment.

So in other words

HankP's picture

if this was called the "Monkey Execution Open Thread" you'd be OK with it.


I blame it all on the Internet

I Find It Disturbing. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .just how easy it was to find--after just now remembering seeing it and reading about it in the novel--the scene from "The Andromeda Strain" that would probably serve as the centerpiece of such a diary. Go to YouTube, if you're so inclined, and type "andromeda strain dead monkeys": it's the top one.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Greenwald's new outfit


I believe that you mis-spelled


"compromising American intelligence sources and aiding and otherwise aiding and abetting our enemies."

As someone once put it, Freedom is untidy


But I kind of thought these guys were exposing some of America's enemies, including the enemies of our Constitution who lawlessly spy on American citizens.

And as I've noted, I'd have little problem


with the Greenwald/Snowden Axis if they were just revealing NSA activities that are legally and ethically questionable. But instead, they're compromising sources and also revealing a lot of what the NSA does that falls fairly square into the category of Things States Can Legitimately Do (like spying on--gasp!--other nations).

You're claiming Greenwald and Snowden are compromising sources


for its own sake? Cite?


If not, you have to make an argument that compromising sources must be preserved above exposing legally and/or ethically questionable behavior. 


As for the -gasp!- spying on allies, if it's entirely understood to happen then you also have no reason to use the "enemies" language. If it's no bid deal, it's no big deal. 


My personal impression is that Edward Snowden is an American patriot, a hero who has alerted the American public to the subversion of its democracy at great personal risk and for little or no obvious personal gain. A good president would pardon this whistleblower.

Here's a quick rundown


of some of the sources that Snowden compromised. And that's just collection on the bad guys. He's also compromised a lot of collection on other states. Snowden and Greenwald seem to be under the impression that governments gathering intelligence on each other is wrong, and so are now basically dumping information on every bit of collection we do, collection that is perfectly legal and is understood by convention to be the sort of thing that states do to each other. 

Greenwald's reporting today is right on topic


From your link, exhibit A of Snowden's terrible deeds is compromising US intelligence sources on lethal drone strikes in Pakistan.


Greenwald reports, however, that many of these drone strikes aren't based on Human Intelligence but potentially dubious NSA electronic metadata analysis.


So that was the best example of Snowden as traitor, and it's entirely plausible that citizens in a democracy should be aware of and debating this national security policy.

"Before a strike is green-lit,


 he says, there must be at least two sources of intelligence.  


“Since there’s almost zero HUMINT operations in Yemen – at least involving JSOC – every one of their strikes relies on signals and imagery for confirmation: signals being the cell phone lock, which is the ‘find’ and imagery being the ‘unblinking eye’ which is the ‘fix.’”

Visual confirmation -- that doesn't sound like they're plugging metadata into a targeting computer to me. The source says the President personally authorizes the 60 day strike orders, and that it can take up to 18 months to get authorization/confirmation before a go-ahead. In other words, he buries the lede. 


Greenwald's reporting is tendentious and nigh unreadable. It makes it really difficult to filter the facts he brings to the table out from the dross of his conviction that every act of war carried out by the US is "fundamentally flawed" and essentially criminal. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Applying the rigour I'd expect from these guys


I could imagine that "metadata" could mean something like:


When an email hits ISP server X from suspect Y we think it was probably sent from whatever location mobile phone Z is at. 


Visual confirmation could be


Yes, there is something we could blow up at location Z



Anyway, the broader good is to get a leash on these guys before they start overtly walking all over your rights and freedoms. Or could that never happen? Is a hawkish view of human nature only required for relations with foreigners?

With aircraft optics you probably couldn't get facial


recognition (then again that's unreliable not to mention extremely dangerous to get with an on-the-ground spotter). But you could get age, gender, location, surroundings, presence of weapons; a lot more information than metadata will ever provide. I have no idea what's required to confirm a "fix", but Greenwald's sources make it sound a deal more involved than the impression Greenwald tries so hard to create. 


Hawkish? Seriously? 20 years ago the option was an airstrike or a cruise missile based on a hunch about where someone was. 40 years ago it was send in the Marines. It isn't propaganda to say drone attacks are far more cautious and precise than anything militaries have been able to do in the past, it's just accurate. If you view drone attacks as somehow worse than airstrikes, cruise missiles, special operations assaults or armed invasions, then I think you've got it backwards. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I imagine that 2 sources of data


are not bcause they care about Yemeni innocents, but rather as a rear end covering exercise. Tick these 2 boxes and proceed. 


I mean, look at the track record from Vietnam on - the torture, the killing, the glee. The people who sign up to do this work work in a certain way.


My point on hawkishness is that upthread you say a hawkish attitude is needed in the real world for international relations. I am saying that you are right but that you fail to apply this internally. You should be hawkish about your own power structures. 

Tendentious. All that matters is whether


they take steps to confirm targets or not. The attitudes of the people involved in the business of killing are beside the point. Greenwald's article makes it sound like they use metadata for targeting, and he buries the lede which is that multiple sources of confirmation are used. That kind of writing why I quit reading him, much as I quit reading the Socialist Worker and the WSJ op-ed page. 


I don't remember saying anything like that. I don't believe in "hawkishness" about anything. I'm a pragmatist. I think it's stupid to believe that projecting an attitude or a style (or even a bias) is an effective way to solve problems in the real world. I'm under no illusions that war spares the innocent, nor am I cavalier about the deaths of innocent people killed by US/NATO forces. What I am is practical about the available choices: you can either act to minimize unnecessary deaths, or NOT act to minimize unnecessary deaths, or you can go home and give up the whole "fight back against terrorist thugs" idea. All three choices have positive and negative consequences. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

But isn't the "Visual Confirmation" are based on metadata?----

brutusettu's picture

Like say, Bob or whatever calls his friend, the cousin of the Unibomber, a few too many times, then Bob is blown out of existence sort of thing as "visual confirmation"?

It sounds like they mean aircraft optics.


I agree that it isn't as reliable as on-the-ground confirmation (which itself isn't reliable), but you could at least tell gender/age/location/surroundings, which is a hell of a lot more than you can lift from metadata. Greenwald fairly buries the fact that this step is even taken. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

The info on our drone program is pretty borderline


but one could also make a case that it's worth having a public discussion re: targeted assassinations via drones in Pakistan.


I don't see any other valid complaints. The CIA operations and worldwide NSA email intercepts in the 52.6 billion "black box" budget Snowden broke open is simply worth letting taxpayers know about. A 52.6 billion annual black box budget is absurd, and if Snowden were careless about revealing certain aspects of it, I would hold the US intelligence communities at least as responsible for their massive over-classification in the first place. If they're not going to help draw a reasonable boundary it's hardly fair to blame a few individuals for every mistake they make in redrawing it much more sensibly.


I have zero worries if our intelligence agencies lose access to spying on average foreign citizens. It may be legal under US law, but I consider routine dragnet spying unethical.


Letting citizens and governments know about these privacy violations is a practical way to bring the NSA to heel. Companies that want to operate internationally may actually put some pressure on the American government to stop the indiscriminate spying. And in so doing they may protect American citizens as well, who we know are currently enjoying few to no Constitutional protections under our intelligence practices.


Snowden and Greenwald seem to be under the impression that governments gathering intelligence on each other is wrong ... collection that is perfectly legal and is understood by convention to be the sort of thing that states do to each other.


You can't have it both ways. If it's understood to happen, no one should complain when details come out. OTOH, if tapping Merkel's phone isn't a great way to treat someone we call a close ally, perhaps something productive might come about if it's exposed.


I'm delighted if Merkel is pissed that her phone was tapped by the NSA. Perhaps she and some Brazilians etc. might reduce the chances that the NSA taps my phone. I'm abroad all the time, making international calls regularly, and don't want the NSA creeps reading my email or listening to my skypes without a warrant signed by a civilian judge. 


Overall it's OK to make a few mistakes on the security end of the liberty/security trade-off given that 10^5x more mistakes have been made on the liberty end. It's part of a process of restoring balance and to me doesn't negate Snowden's courageous whistleblowing on unlawful actions by our government.

What is retarded to me


is the fact that people who are so icked out by the idea of NSA operatives violating procedure and listening in on their phone calls, snooping private text messages, etc. apparently either have no idea or don't care that...


...there are thousands of employees of private companies who can do exactly the same thing with impunity. 


Say you have an iPhone with Verizon cell & data service.  


Verizon Communications has 193,000 employees, any one of whom can break company policy and look at your entire internet history, GPS history, contacts, phone calls, SMS messages, etc. 


Apple has 80,000 employees. They could (and probably do) snoop on anything you do that goes in and out through an unencrypted connection. Photostream, pictures, videos, documents, the iPhone's two microphones and its two cameras can be powered on remotely...anything that gets stored on the iCloud. They can access your GPS history, contacts, iMessages, etc. 


Say you use your phone to check your Gmail account. Google has 48,000 employees who can all read your mail. And, since you're checking gmail through an Apple proprietary app, those 80,000 employees can also read your mail, calendar, Google+ activities, etc. 


You use the popular app IFTTT, "If This Then That" to make it easy to post pictures to Facebook and email, to track RSS feeds, and to alert you when people post things about you on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Congratulations, you just gave access to your entire online life to a small third-party developer.  


So right there are 320,000 people, the majority of whom have basically legal (if frowned-upon) access to everything the NSA has access to. Surely there are a few or more than a few perverts and weirdos, identity thieves, hackers, journalists, etc. who abuse this access, but more importantly the idea that you have *any* privacy whatsoever in your digital life is completely absurd. 


It amounts to a mass public delusion that people feel infringed upon by the government, but have zero problem giving hundreds of thousands of strangers carte blanche access to their most intimate secrets. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Uh, nope.


Sure the vendors you use have access to you data. Does that mean "all 80,000 employees of globochem" have unfettered access to all your data? 


Uh, nope. Why would you assume that to be the case?


in any case, it one thing for me to contract with someone to deliver messages for me. If they violate my privacy it's one thing.


It's quite another for legal authorities with prosecutorial and detention powers to do so.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

NSA has around 40,000 employees (classified)


Does every one of them have unfettered access to your data? Nope. But any one of them willing to work around the "fetters" damn sure does. Same with Verizon, et al.


And we are talking about unauthorized intrusion of privacy, not prosecutions, not detentions. If the NSA violates the 4th amendment to obtain evidence against you, you can fight that evidence in court. But that isn't what we're talking about. We're talking about creepers listening in on your phone sex sessions. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

still don't think so


i don;t really disagree with you in principal on the dangers of public vs private sector invasions of privacy. i just think you aren't doing your argument any favors by maximalizing the numbers like you are. someone who knows what the industry really does and how it work s will smell BS and just ignore the real point you are making, which is that we give private sector a lot of our privacy already -- which is true and which no one disputes.


do some people at verizon or t-mobile have access to my phone metadata? sure. do all XXX,000 of them? no even close. the guy working in accounting does not. the working in teh comany cafeteria does not, HR does not. just teh frontline customer service folks and maybe - maybe - some production support developers, DBAs etc.


i work in software, healthcare industry. data loss can be a company killer. the number of people in our little 80 person company with production data access? not many. and funnily enough, even management can have less access than a DBA of a dev.


moreover, verizon and t-mbile are not sharing that data. they each have their slice. bad enough? maybe.


but the governmental authority to grab all the data across all the companies, cross reference and mine it in its totality, and then use it for whatever they wish (whether its just creepy snooping or fishing expeditions) really is an order of magnitude beyond verizon's ability to snoop on you.


TL;DR -- you;re maximinizng what pivate sctor can do and minimizing the NSAs capabilities. i'm really not sure why, because you generally have a good sense about these things.



“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

I'm not maximizing. I'm fairly astonished


at just how much personal information people feed to these companies on a daily basis, only to turn around and feel invaded and put-upon when government employees abuse their powers to snoop. I'm not saying every one of the 350,000 people who draw a paycheck from these companies have ready access any more than you're saying all 40-80k NSA employees do. Things are compartmentalized, there are procedures and safeguards, yes. But why trust Verizon or Time Warner to obey their own procedures & safeguards, when unlike NSA agents & contractors, they are under no legal obligation to do so?  


The whole scandal seems wrong to me. I believe we're laboring under a massive public delusion about online privacy that is going to look downright weird and silly in retrospect. I'm in no mood to let NSA off the hook for its abuses, but people's perspective on this thing is way wrong. Meanwhile, like AndrewSshi says, deliberately degrading US intel gathering capability for its own sake is a damned stupid thing to do. Have we forgotten that 9/11 was first & foremost an intelligence failure? 

And funnily enough, even management can have less access than a DBA of a dev. 

My point exactly. Ask the NSA how that little procedural reality is working out for them. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Knowing Apple And Google


I very much doubt their systems allow that kind of internal access to customer data. Apple employees often don't know what the guy next to them is doing. It's one of the most internally compartmentalized organizations on the planet. Google isn't like that but they take security seriously and have the resources and skills to do it.


Which is not to say that, as corporations, they don't have the ability to snoop on anyone they please. Of course they do. But your figure is kind of exaggerated.


Verizon I have no idea, but phone companies have had this ability since phones are phones. The problem is that phones aren't just phones anymore.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I think you're naive

HankP's picture

I've worked with all kinds of organizations, public and private (no, not including Google or Apple) and security is far worse than outsiders would ever guess. Hell, we don't even have secure operating systems, why would anyone think anything built on a foundation of sand would be robust in any way? Most computer security is hard on the outside, soft on the inside. Once you're on an internal network you'd be amazed at what a little snooping can find.


Did you read how Snowden got his info? He used wget to scan all internal servers. wget. Pathetic.


I blame it all on the Internet

No, I'm Not


At least not on this topic. I too have worked in organizations like that, including one very large organization that handles huge amounts of sensitive financial data. It is just as you say, disastrous with cases of rooted servers left running for months to name just one episode I'm familiar with.


But I know some people who work or worked at Google, and Apple, and while on this basis I cannot certify that they are secure, I suspect their level of security is far higher than I've seen in more mundane companies. Jobs was known for firing one guy on the spot for not having his phone locked with a passcode; it's a seriously paranoid organization with technically competent people very near the top. At Google of course the guys directly running it are technically competent, and then some.


This is the key difference. You run into trouble when you have an organization with a large technical portfolio that is run by an MBA, a lawyer, a bean counter, or a sales guy. This is most places. You need to be serious about security from the top, otherwise management culture is just to cover up the issues.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Jobs was known for firing people who accidentally wore


shirts that matched his. The word for what Apple is, when it comes to protocol and design, is *fascistic*. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Any employee willing to circumvent protocols


could get access. ISP companies naturally have data access... I'm sure they have privacy protections and take them relatively seriously, but the theoretical access is there and represents hundreds of thousands more opportunities for "creeping" your digital activity than the NSA has. Naturally the closer the employee is to systems administration and/or the higher up the corporate food chain they are, the easier they would find it to do so. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Can't agree.


I work for a big IT company, involved in lots of sectors, sells products and services online, sells products into homes and offices, has consumer experience software related to those products that phones home with usgae data and so on. There is a lot of meta data on individuals from around the world in the company.


Some employees do have a lot of access, but it really is just down to those who need to know. To get access I would need to finagle a "need" and show a lot of interest and energy. I'd say it's be about 1% chance of success and 20% chance of getting me fired. And I'm a developer working directly with end user projects. For employee X it would be much harder.


I don't think this is the case because of tight IT security but rather because of pretty good beauracratic security. 


I would guess that in smaler companies it might be easier for an average employee to hack or lie their way into peoples data on average.

What % employees have a lot of access, would you say?


I'm pretty sure every organization, corporate or government, takes at least some steps to compartmentalize and restrict access & permissions. There's always some % of employees who have ready access to just about everything, while the rest have theoretical access but would need to jump through various hoops and/or break various rules to get their hands on data. 


Also, my impression is, correct me if I'm wrong, but IT tends to be all about network security. In other words, you are selling corporations data networks & products and those corporations pay you and rely on you to help them keep their data compartmentalized and secret. The company ultimately owns the network and the data it generates. Whereas telecom companies, cable companies, and outfits like Apple are primarily selling to individuals, who are not savvy enough to demand ownership of data & network privileges, and in any case the ISP and/or Apple are themselves directly responsible for housing & transmitting data. Individuals do not own the data they create on Facebook, Gmail, SMS networks, etc.


You help companies protect their data. Telecoms receive live data and must protect it (or not) as they see fit. I see it as a substantial difference, but my impression could be wrong. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I Read Andrew's Link with Care & Caution...Your Take Down...


...seems just about right, strikes the right notes and balance.


It says what I might say if I were smarter.




Best Wishes, Traveller

can you see it both ways?


or what shall one do if american methods of intelligence gathering are illegal, or invade the privacy of all americans without discrimination, or prove counterproductive to american interests, or are ineffective?


do you see how both can be true? if so, which you value more highly becomes the question.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

More like a single-issue venue that will survive as long as


Edward Snowden still has material fresh enough to hold America's gnat-like attention. Which I think is fine, but "investigative journalism" is only as good as its sources, and they've only got one source. What happens when it's time to cover acquire different sources and cover different stories? I have a feeling the question-begging concept behind the pub will sometimes make it difficult to approach sources. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Glenn Greenwald was doing excellent reporting before Snowden


So was Jeremy Scahill. 


Along with the Vox Media thing where Klein and Yglesias will be working, I'm glad to see some movement among left-leaning media types. I'm interpreting it as a sign of innovation rather than desperation. 

Billionaire Pierre Omidyar is a good choice as owner.

mmghosh's picture

And $250 million is a substantial investment.  Lets hope that Iran now gets a fair hearing, too.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Wealthy defense hawks control US policy


that's the way it's been and will continue.


No point in wishful thinking to the contrary.

No point, true.


But it is worth pointing out that the US is not the only country on Earth controlled by "defense" hawks, intelligence hawks, or any other kind of hawk.


It's wishful thinking, and I know this sounds hawkish, but it happens to be true, that dangerous war mongers are an American exclusive.


For instance, I think it is possible to negotiate with Iran now, but it wasn't while Ahmadinejad was in power. And I think that even though I know he never actually proposed to nuke Israel, but he was a right-wing zealot nonetheless.


So long as these facts of life are true, we need to keep our own hawks around. On a short leash, sure, but people who think that way cannot simply be brushed aside.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.


mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Finally! SOLID PROOF that Christie knew about the lane closures


Nah, just messin with ya

What can one say?

Jay C's picture

People (unlike giraffes) are weird.....


from the TPM piece:


But the public feeding of Marius' remains to the lions was popular at Copenhagen Zoo. Stenbaek Bro said it allowed parents to decide whether their children should watch what the zoo regards as an important display of scientific knowledge about animals.

At least they dispatched poor Marius humanely: it could have been a lot worse.



They club and slaughter dolphins in Denmark, too.

mmghosh's picture

but one should also be culturally tolerant. Human societies are complex things.


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency