Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Gotta Help Obama Keep the Devil Way Down in the Hole

with 8 comments

But those planes really did hit those buildings.  And that bomb did indeed blow up at the finish line of the Boston marathon.  And we really are in a continuing, low-intensity, high-risk conflict with a diffuse, committed and ideologically-motivated enemy.  And for a moment, just imagine how much bloviating would be wafting across our political spectrum if, in the wake of an incident of domestic terrorism, an American president and his administration had failed to take full advantage of the existing telephonic data to do what is possible to find those needles in the haystacks.  After all, we as a people, through our elected representatives, drafted and passed FISA and the Patriot Act and what has been done here, with Verizon and assuredly with other carriers, is possible under that legislation.  Indeed, one Republican author of the law, who was quoted as saying he didn’t think the Patriot Act would be so used, has, in this frantic little moment of national overstatement, revealed himself to be either a political coward or an incompetent legislator.  He asked for this.  We asked for this.  We did so because we measured the reach and possible overreach of law enforcement against the risks of terrorism and made a conscious choice.

Oh, David Simon, not you too! I’m so surprised to see him on the other side of this. Maybe he should rewatch his own show.

8 Responses

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  1. Link’s broken.

    Stephen Frug

    June 7, 2013 at 6:12 pm

  2. …still not working for me. Check once more?

    Stephen Frug

    June 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm

  3. Okay, read it now. And as far as this goes: “I’m so surprised to see him on the other side of this. Maybe he should rewatch his own show.”

    I was surprised too, at first. But reading the piece it made sense. Simon’s always been a big supporter of “good police work” — in his book Homicide, in The Wire, and elsewhere. For all his critique of institutions, he valorizes police work done well. (I saw a piece a while back — in the Atlantic, maybe? — pointing out that his cops were often careerist and stupid, but were rarely corrupt in the “openly working with drug trafficers” sense that (this article claimed) really happened.) A lot of The Wire’s message is how the drug war has, among other thing, messed up good policing. (Think about Bunny Colvin’s speech to Carver about how the drug war ruined good police work.) And for Simon, good police work means collecting data of exactly this sort.

    So yeah, in the abstract, I was surprised too. But in retrospect I shouldn’t have been. And I think a rewatch of his show would make us see why rather than Simon learn anything.

    (Not that I agree with him on this point. But I don’t think you’d learn that from The Wire, at least without a very heavy dose of outside interpretation to read it that way.)

    Stephen Frug

    June 7, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    • Perhaps, but there’s also a lot in The Wire about how entrenched bureaucracies bloat in the service of their own perpetuation. It’s strange for him to exempt some Platonic idea of the “good police work” supposedly being done by the NSA (though he has no evidence for this beyond his own assumptions) from the realities of the local, state, and federal police he’s actually had contact with in the war on drugs. That’s not to say it’s not in the show — I think I agree with you it is, in retrospect — just that it makes the show seem much more reactionary than the way it’s usually read by critics.

      gerrycanavan

      June 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm

  4. I think the show’s mostly progressive with a few reactionary elements, of which this is one. (“Reactionary” seems a bit harsh; maybe just “conservative”? With a heavy dose of nostalgia for how it used to be done.

    And yes, it’s weird, but then he does it. There are institutions he likes — newspapers, police — and a lot of his anger is about the trashing of those institutions, rather than a sense that they will inevitably be corrupted.

    Stephen Frug

    June 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm


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