The following are excerpts from editorials published in other newspapers across New England:
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. But not in the way you think.
The National Security Agency seems to believe that you can tell an awful lot about an individual by the company he keeps. Or at least by downloading his contact list.
The Washington Post reported that the NSA has been collecting information from the contact lists, or address books, of people across the globe — including American citizens living inside the United States.
How widespread has the collection been? Here are the astonishing numbers from just a single day, as provided to the Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The NSA collected 444,743 email address books from Yahoo, swept up 105,068 contact lists from Microsoft’s Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail, and 22,881 from other providers.
Yes, in just one single day.
This can’t be legal, can it?
Because of the nature of the World Wide Web, information frequently passes through foreign collection points. And as the laws of our land do not apply to the electronic switches and routers in other countries, the NSA can grab your buddy list as it flits past some point outside our boundaries. And that’s just one method.
From our founding, since we fought our way out from under the British Crown, the United States has not been a land of “us” vs. “them.” We, the people, elect folks to represent us, to carry out our wishes, not to serve as overlords spying on our every move.
-- The Republican of Springfield (Mass.)
Little fallout from shutdown
Yes, congressional Republicans blundered by linking the continuation of government services and, later, the next raising of the national debt ceiling, to defunding Obamacare. One didn’t need to be a liberal Democrat to discern the GOP’s peril.
Well, the damage is done. The GOP got almost nothing for its efforts: reinstatement of an income-verification provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and a promise to negotiate other budget and debt-ceiling issues in the coming months. Both sides kicked the federal government’s impending fiscal calamity down the road, as they agreed to fund the government through Jan. 15 and revisit the debt ceiling in February or March.
Assuming the upcoming negotiations are a bit less apocalyptic, the deeper question is: what impact will the events of September and October 2013 have on the general election in November 2014 — in which the identity of 33 senators and all 435 House members will be decided? If Republicans truly want to dismantle Obamacare, they’ll need control of the House and Senate after the 2014 election, at a minimum. Their tactics during the past month may have sabotaged their own hopes for the next two elections.
But have they? Really? Think deeply about how the partial government shutdown affected you. Unless you’re a nonessential federal employee, you probably emerged unscathed. And even federal employees stand to get full reimbursement for their loss of pay over the past two and a half weeks.
The debacle may have affected you emotionally; for instance, many of us were distressed by the sight of temporary “barrycades” blocking elderly veterans who were attempting to visit war memorials in Washington. But Democrats will have a hard time pinning such incidents on the GOP. After all, a government that truly was “shut down” would lack the manpower to obstruct access to sites that normally are open to the public 24/7.
Hopefully, Republicans know better than to do anything that could be construed as sabotaging Obamacare, lest they suffer the same electoral fate as any Democrats who find themselves chained to the “barrycades” next November. A better strategy would be to insist on the full and complete enforcement of the Affordable Care Act — good and hard.
--The Republican-American of Waterbury (Conn.)