I'm conflicted about this NSA spying business. On the one hand, I want every bad guy stopped. On the other hand, you've got to define "bad guy."
We've known for a long time the government is gathering huge amounts of data in the "War on Terror" in an effort to stop attacks before they happen. We now know that data includes what phone numbers we call, what phone numbers call us, when those calls happen and how long they last.
Personally, I couldn't care less. My phone records just add to the number of straws in the haystack that hide the needle the spy guys are looking for. And, a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll finds most Americans seem to agree and think vacuuming up of all that data is OK, because it will keep us safer.
But beyond the headline, there's an interesting split when you compare this poll to a similar one taken in 2006, after the first NSA spying bombshell dropped. Back then, only 37 percent of Democrats thought that program was OK. Today, that number is up to 64 percent. In 2006, 75 percent of Republicans approved of what the NSA was doing. Now, only 52 percent do.
What changed? Who's sitting in the Oval Office. Republicans trust Republicans. Democrats trust Democrats. That's very short-sighted.
There's an excellent chance our government's move into "big data" is permanent. It's almost impossible to kill government programs this big and this far-reaching. So, Democrats, you better make your peace with the fact that someday, there will be a Republican president and maybe reconsider your support for this president, at least on this issue.
Now, here's what I personally care very much about. Today's definition of "bad guy" is a terrorist. What will tomorrow's be? A Martin Luther King, Jr.? Anti-war protestors? Union members? Immigrants? African-Americans? Native Americans? They've all been government targets.
Who might fit the definition of a bad guy next? Who do you trust to make that call?