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Originally published Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 5:31 AM

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Call it the big-tent Big Brother program

The Wrap by Ron Judd

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Nothng to see here, folks. Just keep moving along and go bout your business. ... MORE
Exactly how many people does it take to monitor every bit of telephony metadata... MORE
If the NSA were to intercept my text messages or email, they'd read: Drink more... MORE


We begin with a quick scheduling note.

It would be useful if, from now on, all local politicians, businesses, demagogues, TV news anchors, major sports figures, bridge engineers, left-lane campers, or others planning to do something stupid, humorous, or outrageous could (please) complete their unique misdeed by, say, Tuesday afternoon each week.

This is necessary to provide Mr. Wrap with ample time to: A) clip and save news reports about the screw-up; B) relish the possibilities; C) insert it into a fresh Wrap column and D) wait a couple days for any column feedback, changes, tweaks, deletions or admonitions from the National Security Agency, Homeland Security, Comcast, Verizon, the President of the United States and select members of Congress engaged in their routine domestic surveillance duties.

So nice to be part of something bigger than yourself.

More targeted surveillance:

Trust, And Don’t Bother to Verify: Sez the Prez: “These people running these (domestic spy) programs, they operate like professionals.” Yeah. Works for us, because American government has established such a fine tradition of exactly that.

This Week’s Historical News Quiz: The stern admonition that “There’s a reason these programs are classified!” was delivered repeatedly by A) Barack Obama; B) Dick Cheney; C) Steve Jobs; D) Benito Mussolini.

To Repeat, NOBODY Is Listening To Those Calls: Unless there’s a “fairly good” reason as determined by a secret court that meets in private and reports to nobody.

We Hate to Bring This Up, But: Some people warned of these exact shenanigans the day your esteemed representatives in Congress burned the Bill of Rights page by page in the rush to approve the surely Orwell-inspired “Patriot Act.” And again when we all sat on our hands as Congress reauthorized it.

Oh, The Humanity: REI, finally caving on its almost-no-questions-asked return policy, will limit returns to items purchased within one year. It’s based on new research indicating most people grow out of their new $400 parka in about a year and a half.

This Week’s Quiz Answer: E, all of the above.

Possible Upside of “Data Mining”: Does the proviso that domestic spying is aimed specifically at “non-U.S. persons” mean Big Brother can pass along what the Canadians are saying about us after they clean out the milk section at Costco?

Speaking of Spying on Canadians: Too bad our government cellphone spooks couldn’t have made themselves useful by telling that drifting Maple Leafer pilot-car driver to hang up and get the hell into the proper lane before the oversized load she was “piloting” destroyed the Skagit River Bridge.

And Speaking of Piloting: Mr. Wrap is working double-time to track down rumors that the multi-tasking pilot-car driver is a granddaughter of the late Capt. Rolf Neslund.

Just to Sum Up: At this point, it has been established that everyone involved in the Skagit bridge debacle was “horrified.” But no one was “responsible.”

And Finally: Pretty cool to see kids get the chance to toss a few spare chum salmon to the grizzlies at Woodland Park Zoo in last week’s “Bear Affair.” But we have to ask: Chums? The government cheese of the salmon family? Surely someone could’ve rousted a few tasty spring chinooks.

Ron Judd’s column appears each Sunday. Reach him at or 206-464-8280.

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About The Wrap / Ron Judd

"The Wrap" appears on Sundays, highlighting the absurd and providing the punch line to the week's news headlines.


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