A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Snowden’s Old Anti-Leaker Comments Tell Us Zip About The NSA, But Plenty About Snowden

by evanmcmurry

People change their minds on important issues, so the revelation that Edward Snowden thought as recently as four years ago that leakers of classified government intel should “be shot in the balls” doesn’t automatically disqualify him on the grounds of hypocrisy, as no doubt many will argue.

What it should do is make everybody read with care his comments about how the USG was running the “most invasive surveillance system in history.” Snowden is clearly a guy who thinks in extremes. He doesn’t just dislike leakers, he thinks they should be testicle-blasted. And when Snowden changes his mind, he doesn’t do it by degrees: he doesn’t just object to the NSA’s surveillance program, he thinks it’s the Worst. Surveillance. Ever. It’s fitting in this way that we may only think of Snowden as Hero or Traitor, but nothing in between.

Snowden’s thoughts come in only one color: alarm red. Remember to apply a filter for every comment he makes.

How Screencaps Killed SB5

by evanmcmurry

After Wendy Davis’s epic filibuster was stopped just minutes before the special session’s midnight deadline, the GOP-controlled Texas Senate attempted to hold a vote on anti-abortion bill SB5. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was drowned out by protestors chanting from the rotunda to the point that nobody could hear what was being voted on, and amidst the scrum, almost everybody present said the Senate didn’t actually take the vote until 12:01.

But then Republican Dan Patrick emerged touting a victory for the bill, and someone got the Associated Press to believe him:

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 3.24.01 AM

Just one problem. Here a screencap of the official timestamp from TLO, Texas Legislature Online, the real-time record of the Senate:

The bill is shown as having passed on 6/26, or after the midnight deadline, making it illegal.

But a few minutes later, the record looked like this:

Now the record states the bill passed on 6/25, or before the midnight deadline, making it legal.

That might have flown had nobody noticed it. But within a few minutes, all of Twitter was retweeting the edited timestamps, most of which were taken by Texas Tribune reporters and other media-types thinking fast on their feet. By 2:00 a.m. the Senate had recaucused and killed the bill, admitting that there was no arguing with the timestamp (which was officially recorded at 12:03 a.m., or, as many joked, 11:63 p.m. on the GOP’s clock).

And that’s how, with the national media ignoring the story and the AP jumping the gun, a couple of screencaps stopped an abortion bill in its tracks and reversed an abuse of congressional power.