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The Lighter Side of Government Surveillance

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As a progressive, anti-Patriot Act, ACLU supporter, I still find myself among the majority of Americans who are not outraged by the latest revelations of NSA surveillance.

It's not for lack of trying. Every time I work myself into a frenzy, by reading (and rereading) well-intentioned, urgent emails on this issue from the many groups I regularly receive well-intentioned, urgent emails from, I quickly calm down and smile. Because, let's face it, as alarming as an all-encompassing dragnet of phone records may be, there's some comedy to be mined here too.

First, it's more than a little ironic that some of the very same people who are outraged by this overreaching surveillance, spend many hours a day revealing intimate, and unsolicited details about their personal life on Facebook and Twitter. And thanks to Foursquare, people can let the world know which Dunkin' Donuts they happen to be sitting in at that moment. With all of the personal information that we reveal on a daily basis, there's not much left that the government doesn't know about our lives.

And even though, the NSA isn't listening in on our phone conversations, I wouldn't mind a second opinion now and then. Especially when I'm on the phone with a woman I'm dating. Perhaps the NSA could let me know if, in their judgement, this is a woman I should be involved with. Maybe they could set up a secret relationships court, that could approve selected phone surveillance that would let Americans know if someone else in the country would be a good match.

Even though I playfully dismiss the outrage over these revelations, am I one of those hypocrites who would have strongly condemned this surveillance if it had come out while it was going on during the Bush administration? Yes I am. But at least I'm not part of the 49 percent of Americans who now look favorably at George W. Bush's eight years in office, according to a poll released this week. The same poll must have found that 49 percent of Americans also suffer from amnesia.

For the first time in a long time, the debate over the NSA surveillance cuts across party lines and ideological affiliations. Civil libertarians on the left and the right are united in opposition, while other Democrats, Republicans, liberals and conservatives aren't quite sure what to make of all of this.

It's almost summer, after all, and most people feel like keeping things light.

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