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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Claire Wolfe

Keep cool. Don’t panic.

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Friday brought two horrible-looking pieces of news that have made their way around the ‘Net fast and fearfully:

The NSA is building a super data center in Utah. One that can — and will — scoop up the complete text of all our emails, break our encryption, and even report on where we parked last time we went to lunch.

And a new executive order is a setup for “peacetime martial law” in America.

By now, even Walmartian grannies have probably heard all this, and true paranoids have retreated to underground bunkers with their Super-Whiz-Whacker 3000 assault rifles and colossal caches of ammo.

And who am I to say they shouldn’t?

BUT. This is a perfect example of what Rolf Dobelli means when he wrote that we should quit our news habits because they’re warping our brains and totally screwing our priorities.

Does it freaking suck that the No Such Agency (and who knows who else) spies on us at will, never mind some silly little piece of scrap paper called the Bill of Rights?

Yes, it sucks.

Does it freaking suck that the latest pollutant to slime the White House has issued an executive order pretending to give himself and his minions the right to take over pretty much everything in he country if he happens to feel like it?

Yes, it sucks.

But let’s do a little reality check here. The NSA story is well-written and thorough. The picture it paints is scary. But exactly what is new, aside from the data center? Are we surprised that we’re being spied on by totalitarian creepoids? Hell no. We’ve known all along that they never killed off their eye-in-a-pyramid Total Information Awareness system. We knew they never would. Everything we’ve read or heard for the last 10+ years has been pointing in exactly this direction.

In fact, though, the picture painted in the Wired article makes the NSA seem SO scary it’s unreal. My first thought — after OMFG, we’re doomed! — was … wait a minute. The NSA isn’t the all-powerful, omnipotent God. It’s a government agency — and we know exactly how well they operate. Can it really scoop up that much data? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe not.

But what’s it going to do with it — besides go into total overload and put any fellow agencies who have to act on the data into total overload, as well?

In fact, that article is so scary that in a perverse way it feels like a government propaganda piece: “Cower, little people. We Know All. Resistance is futile!”

Resistance? It’s never futile. And while I’m quite sure the NSA is a well-funded and villainous servant (or master) of the police state, I’m also quite sure it’s not quite up to the job Wired has implied for it.

And that executive order? Yes, it’s ominous. (As ominous as it is deadly boring to read.) But while I don’t agree with every word Ace of Spades has to say about it, he’s completely correct that president after president has issued virtually this same executive order.

In fact, I found Clinton’s version of it (EO 12919 which Ace erroneously identifies as issued by Bush 41) much scarier.

We were just as panicked and indignant about that one back in 1994. But the troops didn’t come marching down our streets then and we weren’t conscripted into federal emergency service, either.

Of course it’s more ominous now because in the 18 years since then there’s no question: the fedgov has gotten bigger, more frightening, more snoopy, more ruthless and more confident of its ability to get away with anything.

Of course there’s something very, very, very wrong with a government that’s so desperate to spy on its own citizens. Of course there’s something wrong with presidents who repeatedly feel the need to issue declarations of their own dictatorial powers.

But the main thing that’s wrong — and we keep forgetting this — is that these things, these new bazillion dollar NSA data centers, these huffy-puffy executive orders — are signs of how coweringly frightened our own government is. How frightened it is of US — of We the Plain Old People.

And of course it should be (though perhaps not for the reasons all those spy-o-crats and executive self-puffers imagine).

So keep cool. Don’t panic. “Humanity is Rising.” The so-called powerful, as cruel and dangerous as they are, FEAR US. And in their terror they retreat into a fantasy that modern history has shown to be just that — fantasy. They imagine that they can control the whole world from some centralized Tower of Power.

Day after day after day, our minds slip out of their control. Our parents, our grandparents, respected government. They believed the propaganda about it being Our Wise Protector. They Obeyed. We increasingly see government for exactly what it is.

This is what matters in the long run. We shouldn’t be trembling or getting our blood pressure into a spike over this. We should be laughing at the bastards who imagine they can control us forever.

31 Responses to “Keep cool. Don’t panic.”

  1. BusyPoorDad Says:

    This recent EXOrd is just an update to the one Bush II did, which was an update to the one Clinton did, which is an update to the one Bush I did, Reagan, Carter, …Eisenhower did to comply with the 1950 Defense Production Act.

    That was passed to fix some of the abuses of a similar law passed in 1940 and used in WW 2. I know, you’re shocked, SHOCKED I SAY, to find out that there was corruption in the middle of WW 2! You don’t hear much about it, but the Fed Gov took over the economy, Singer stopped making sewing machines and made M1 Carbines. Sears made transmissions for tanks, there was rationing and central planning. Over all, the dedication of people to work “for the cause” is what allowed the US to churn out tanks and ships faster than they could be sunk or blown up.

    This ExOrd makes clear what/how the Obama plan would be made. IF you felt that this was a good thing (and Congress did at one point) then you would want to make it clear that the DOD did not tell farmers what to plant and when, you would want the DoAg. (Granted the DoAg may say they need Mo-hair support and the DoEng may want to set up a helium reserve…naw, that would never happen.)

    This is not the end of the world as we know it. Just one more little paper cut. When someone “freaks” about this, anyone who agrees gets lumped with the nuts screaming “they are coming to get you Barbara!”

    We need more liberty minded people in the public, more people prepared to not need Fed Gov support. Great articles like this help keep people thinking and pointed in the right direction.

    (I just re-read Boston T Party’s “Police and You” and the 1994 ugly gun ban played a main roll in it, notably how it would never be sunset. I still am amazed that it was.)

  2. Claire Says:

    Thanks, BusyPoorDad … And speaking of books and articles that might have been useful but missed on being prophetic … Some of my early writings on national ID look overwrought now. And all for one reason: just because a law or regulation is passed doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to be funded or enforced.

    I didn’t know in those early days how much fedgov activity is mere bluster, wishful thinking, empty threats, etc.

    Groking the real danger of any particular new fedgovery is very hard. But sometimes (as in the panic over the NSA data center and the latest EO) we don’t even stop to try to figure it out.

    Of course, I’m sure the WH released that EO on a Friday before a holiday because they wanted it to ease on by without notice.

  3. EN Says:

    I wrote this to a friend this morning. She was a little worried about how things were going.

    “Our present masters remind me of abusive husbands who are getting old and sick. They know the abused will leave them soon, and do all they can to stave off the inevitable. It makes them appear strong and devious, but in so many ways they are too late, and fading. People are paying attention and worse for them there’s less fear of the outside than ever and more anger at our “protectors”. I was at the gun store yesterday trying to figure out if particular guns were California legal. The place was jammed. National Geo has a show on called Doomsday Preppers. I watched a couple of episodes but found most of the people on the show to be idiots, which Nat Geo probably intentionally picked. However, the owner of said gun shop told me, ‘That’s my free commercial. Every time that show is on I’ll have ten people waiting outside the next morning when we show up and we’ll sell 20 guns that day. Ten years ago I was lucky to sell that many in a week. Now I sell 100 a week easily and often 150.'”

    Preps in Walmart, woman buying guns at a fantastic rate; no one believes the numbers that the government puts out any longer, everyone knows they are lies. I’ve mentioned more times than I can remember that Obama will end up the Mayor of DC, and not much more, when his funding sources dry up. For all the fear NSA generates they had 8 box cars worth of data they couldn’t process in 1995. That has exploded exponentially and now they have to build computer programs based on key word recognition to sort it out… and guess what? Even with the sorting they now have 12 box cars they can’t evaluate. Then there’s the quality of the people involved. No matter what TV looks like, check out your average TSA heartthrob? Tell me him/her is worried about anything other than eating a happy meal on their break… and chances are they’d screw that up. The government has the idiots on their side. They will be brutal, no question, but they will also quit easily and die fast. The army has done studies on this kind of thing and stupid people are dangerous, but mostly to themselves and those around them. Take heart, Eric Holder is a tyrant but he’ll meet a tyrants end should he go King Kong on the population. He’s definitely not one of the stupid ones, but that makes him smart enough to worry about personal consequences.

  4. Kent McManigal Says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I often remind myself to just not worry about things like this. Government is evil, always has been, and always will be. It’s delusional for me to expect it to behave as if it isn’t. Until it is time to start shooting in self defense it’s probably better to just ignore it.

  5. clark Says:

    I find it slightly odd that on every comment section about this subject, that I’ve read, someone is downplaying it all by saying almost the exact same things; such as, “This recent EXOrd is just an update to the one Bush II did, which was an update to the one Clinton did, which is an update to the one Bush I did, Reagan, Carter, …Eisenhower did to comply with the 1950 Defense Production Act.”

    There is one large notable difference, this time the words “emergency and non-emergency” have been added.
    Some People might say it’s nothing, others say it’s huge, time will tell I guess.

    I’d like to not pay attention, but when a leader demonstrates he “has a power to kill you, then he has the power to do anything he wishes with you and to you.” I notice.

    When the monster falls, is it similar to when an uncaged chicken gets it’s head cut off, thrashing about and destroying every fragile thing it comes into contact with for a longer period of time than a lot People expected?
    Monsters are probably a good deal more destructive than chickens, wouldn’t you say?

    I don’t know, but from what I can tell, Real ID is being funded and enforced in my state.

    I’ve been wondering about how People will implement the ideas discussed in this article, seems like many will:

    How To Gum Up Any Institution

    Kent McManigal, “Until it is time to start shooting in self defense it’s probably better to just ignore it.”

    Reminds me of some famous saying, something about how later they burned in the camps thinking if only then they had…

    At the same time, I can relate to what you wrote. Opt Out of the state.

  6. clark Says:

    I wonder if similar conversations took place in Argentina before the phrase, “the disappeareds” was used?

    That gunvernment was made up of some incompetent People too, more so than even here?

  7. EN Says:

    When the disappearances begin to take place it’s never a sign of strength, it’s just the opposite. If that begins here the government will be over very quickly.

  8. clark Says:

    I dunno bout that, EN. People disappear everyday, how would anyone even know the reason why?

    Kinda like the rash of deaths under odd circumstances of People associated with important cases. Coincidence I suppose. Lots and lots of coincidences.

    Consider also, there was a serial killer working as a cop out in the Southwest. He was caught, there were many victims, yet nothing changed, the system still stands.

  9. MamaLiberty Says:

    After nearly 50 years of activism, encouraging self ownership and personal responsibility, it’s actually heartening to see more and more people begin to understand that the involuntary government can’t be “reformed” or fixed… that it is toxic to any kind of peace or freedom.

    No matter how much frosting you put on it, a shit cake is still made of shit.

  10. Claire Says:

    clark — I don’t think anybody is implying that the government isn’t dangerous or that these and many other things it does aren’t evil.

    But much as we need to be watchful, it just doesn’t serve freedom to see capital-D Doom in every bit of news.

    Better to see and understand the big picture, act accordingly, and not be manipulated into constant emotional frenzies — which is simply another technique of control.

    I’m not saying you are being manipulated into a frenzy; just saying you may be misinterpreting others’ meaning.

  11. Claire Says:

    I agree with clark that the government is likely to get a whole lot worse before we cease tolerating it. And even after it’s horrible beyond our belief, most people will still want to say “it’s only a few bad apples” or “we just need to vote in the right people.”

    But as we saw in Berlin and Moscow, when tyranny finally collapses, it can go quickly. And here (unlike Moscow) we have traditions and philosophies of freedom to build on.

  12. AgoristDon Says:

    “Day after day after day, our minds slip out of their control. Our parents, our grandparents, respected government. They believed the propaganda about it being Our Wise Protector. They Obeyed. We increasingly see government for exactly what it is.

    This is what matters in the long run. We shouldn’t be trembling or getting our blood pressure into a spike over this. We should be laughing at the bastards who imagine they can control us forever.”

    Shorter version: “Agorism FTW!” :)

    I’ve got two pieces of the puzzle filled in, “The Apolitical Economic Superpower” of the underground economy, and “The Rise of the Phoenix Society” that shows people are opting out, or as Ayn Rand called it, “shrugging.” Technology and education are the best weapons we have in our arsenal. You don’t have to slay a beast with weapons to kill it. It’s much simpler to starve it.

  13. Claire Says:

    I’ve been saving this link, intending to blog it. But since AgoristDon (who wrote it) just mentioned it without being self-promotional enough to throw in the link …

  14. Kent McManigal Says:

    Clark- When “they” show up to take you to the camps it is time to shoot them. That’s what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn meant by burning in the camps, wishing they had made the enforcers fear going out to “arrest” people. “What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?” Want to know for certain when it is not too early to shoot the bastards? That’s it- when they are at your door. You may still die. You may still be denigrated for trying to defend yourself. But, you will NOT be “wrong”. I won’t even second-guess you if you shoot them before then, like today, but most people will. Do what you want, but I’m not going to let the bad guys- and that IS who they are- take up more of my time, energy, and thoughts than necessary.

  15. Scott Says:

    Something else to keep in mind. All the many government agencies are not one big happy family-all governments-across the planet, and history, are huge dysfunctional families. There’s rivalries for budgets, attitudes, name it, it’s all there. Then, there’s the ones who honestly think they are doing you some good(the scariest ones). Having a lot of data, and collecting it into one place(from an accessability standpoint) are two very different creatures.
    There’s nothing wrong with being informed, but don’t worry all that much about it.

  16. Brian K. Anderson Says:

    Thanks Claire. I needed this after reading about the spy center, which is being built not far from here. It made my blood boil but reading your post helped me calm back down and realize that it’s not the end of the world. It really is just the headless chicken, or the dying dinosaur in the tar pit.

  17. Pat Says:

    “And here (unlike Moscow) we have traditions and philosophies of freedom to build on.”

    And the means – and the will – to fight for it. What TPTB can’t or won’t see is that the more they take, 1) the more obvious it becomes they _are_ taking, and 2) the more angry people are becoming.

    On another but relevant subject: While many in government (at all levels) want power and want to determine the way things are run, there are many others who honestly believe that tweaking the details will alter the outcome (the LP is a case in point). I doubt that a second revolution will occur – but somewhere down the road it’s possible that another civil war may take place. I don’t mean from the LP itself (in fact it may have nothing to do with it), but between the many factions that are materializing. The polarization taking place in America today is all over the place; every idea seems like a reason to disagree. And everyone has taken his cue from Bush: “If you’re not with me, you’re against me.” Which will eventually lead to a greedy political un-civil war, when the current controllers implode.

    (It seems the only people not trying to control or influence the country, those not advocating violence either by law or in actuality, are those who DO have the means and will to fight for freedom – literally. Ironic that ‘gun-toters’ and ‘sovereigns’ are some of the most peaceful, non-threatening people in the country.)

  18. mike Says:

    Claire, I’m here via John Venlet’s place. I’m out in Taiwan, but just wanted to say I’m glad I can read your stuff again – for a while back there I couldn’t get access (yeah I know why, and I’ve no complaints). My take home line:

    “But the main thing that’s wrong … is that these things… are signs of how coweringly frightened our own government is. How frightened it is of US…”

  19. Ellendra Says:

    “Better to see and understand the big picture, act accordingly, and not be manipulated into constant emotional frenzies — which is simply another technique of control.”

    Some of us can’t afford the stress to our health on top of everything else. I’ve been flamed in other forums for not working myself into a tizzy over this, that, or the other thing, but the fact is I’m already doing all I can. I’m not going to kill myself over things I can’t fix.

  20. Latigo Morgan Says:

    Regarding the “disappeared”: Don’t think it can happen here? 1976-1983 in Argentina, it is estimated that 30,000 people “disappeared”.

    There are 3,143 county and county-type entities in the United States. If 10 people in each county “disappeared”, that would total the amount who “disappeared” in Argentina in 7 years.

    How many counties would notice 50 people gone in one year? That would be 157,150 people. What about those privatized prisons that require a certain occupation rate?

    The current EO is as innocuous as the previous, unless you take it in context with everything this government has done in the last 3 years.

  21. EN Says:

    My point is that “the Beast” is being starved, and that’s why they are beginning to react to irrationally. Government protects government and they are beginning to take extraordinary measures to insure it happens. As for the disappeared, if ten people went missing in my county it would be known. Not mention that it’s not even possible for any snatch team to operate here if for long. In Argentina everyone knew who was was doing the disappearing. They came in uniforms and arrested all these leftists in the name of regime. Unless they’ve got that alien mothership hiding out somewhere, showing up in the middle of the night to drag people off isn’t going to fly in this country. And I assume we’ll soon get a chance to see if I’m right. But my original thought stands. This is no big deal since they already have this stuff on the books, and the Beast is starving and not particularly smart. THEY DO NOT HAVE SUPER POWERS!!!

  22. AgoristDon Says:

    Thanks for the link, Claire. I guess if you liked that one, I better get busy on the rest of the series. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle of how we get from here to where I think we can end up… and whether we’ll make it or not is still up in the air.

  23. clark Says:

    EN wrote, “showing up in the middle of the night to drag people off isn’t going to fly in this country.”

    The cops seem to be doing this just fine right now – quite legally and in the open – they have all kinds of justifications.
    Some People return, others are sent to prison, and some die. I wouldn’t be surprised that some disappear too.

    Who knows.

    I thought of the comments here when I read this bit:

    “It’s all one big soup with multiple moving parts. Nothing is working in synchronicity with anything else.” …

  24. EN Says:

    Who knows, indeed. But I don’t see anyone disappearing. In fact a lot of the police methods currently being used are based on fear, which is what I see a lot of. As for the markets, of course they’re trying to keep everything as normal as possible. That’s a symptom of what is all around us, incompetent government individuals bouncing from one failed short term strategy to the next. My own experience in the government indicates that competence is rewarded by firing, or worse. I see them losing and you see them winning. We’ll have to wait on that score. It’s pretty obvious that Nazi Germany lost… but won for a long time. And admittedly I’m not omnipotent, just hopeful.

  25. Bill St. Clair Says:

    Douglas Adams had it right. Don’t panic. And remember to bring a towel. 42.

    USGov’s days are numbered, because the dollar’s days are numbered. When they stop being able to pay the police and military, their power disintegrates. Move your money into hard assets. Food, water, shelter, fuel, ammo, silver, gold.

  26. Pat Says:

    In _Disconnect: The World Is a Disaster but the Market Seems Just Fine_, Joe Duarte says:
    “What is troubling to us is the complete disconnect between what was once thought to be right and wrong and what is being bandied about as modernity. More distressing is the notion that modernity has a certain inevitability about it, an unstoppable momentum that can’t be stopped, like a freight train that is running headlong along a track that never ends.”

    That’s because no one knows how to handle it. But it isn’t “modernity” that’s the problem, it’s that we overestimate our own know-how. We keep building our power base and trying to manage it all, but don’t have the ability to manage beyond a certain level.

    We humans lack the skills or capacity to operate on a grandiose scale. We aren’t wired to multi-task, to control what or who we can’t see, or to predict the future. And we haven’t learned how to apply “right and wrong” to a population too large to keep track of. So we drop “right and wrong”, and engage in force and “pragmatism” when large-scale managing is desired.

    It’s no accident that empires fall under these conditions. The weight of its own ineptitude kills off every country that attempts to control its people. Humans (indeed, life itself) cannot be controlled. Ayn Rand said, “To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.” Yet TPTB keep trying.

    I agree with Bill St. Clair: “Food, water, shelter, fuel, ammo, silver, gold.” And let the force-groups fight it out among themselves.

  27. clark Says:

    EN wrote, “But I don’t see anyone disappearing.”

    Think about that one.

    EN wrote, “My own experience in the government indicates that competence is rewarded by firing, or worse.”

    I would say you’re not very experienced then.
    Things are just the opposite. Many People say it’s true of the corporate world too. After all, if the People who work hard and get things done were all promoted, who would do the work?

    I never said I see them winning, although I just don’t know. At the same time, they *are* on top at the moment and fascist policies advance with little resistance.

    A monster crashing down on someone, arms flailing about trying to latch onto anything or anyone to take it/them down too, is not a winning situation. Just destructive.

    While waiting for the monster to finally crash, besides Food, water, shelter, fuel, ammo, silver, gold, “evasion is still possible. And it can make you glad.” …

  28. EN Says:

    “Think about that one.”

    Oh Wow, if only I’d done that sooner…

    “I would say you’re not very experienced then.”

    You’ve got me. I bow to your all knowingness… My son read this little exchange and had a great laugh. He thought I was a pessimist. I’ve told him I’m not and there were others out there. In fact in my view we’re working towards a more free society out of the wreckage of what’s coming. I don’t see any great long term plot, just a lot of taking advantage of what’s before them. I don’t see the government as any more totalitarian since the 1950s, when the FBI was routinely picking up communists. What I see is the dollar beginning to collapse and the process didn’t start recently, it’s been going on since the 1930s. Now the chickens are coming home to rest. There was certainly nothing more totalitarian than the Patriot Act, and that’s turned out to be rather benign to terrorists, and a pain in the ass for average people. I don’t know anyone who thinks the Patriot act is a good idea, which wasn’t the case several years ago.

  29. EN Says:

    I’ve been doing this prep stuff since 1979 or thereabouts. I don’t do this to hold up in some retreat, eating dirt, and not showering, always waiting for the government to show up for our OK Coral moment. I do this for a better life and to maintain the one I have. But there’s a certain element out there who are anxiously waiting for that post apocalyptic end in which they come to the fore as the end all, the all knowing, the one everyone finally looks up to. Not going to happen.

    It’s prudent to prepare but not once has anyone’s predictions of ultimate doom come to pass in my lifetime and my parents got me started in this (we’re not Mormon, just paranoid). In fact what I’ve seen is one step forward and one step back. Good things happen and so do bad. Now we’re reaching a critical point in the monetary sense, but I’m not quite convinced that this will even be the ending. Clark brought up Argentina and it’s a good place to look in the present sense as to what happens when a currency collapses as there’s did in 2000. Life goes on and thank God for that.

  30. clark Says:

    Nice rant, EN. I liked it.

    However; I don’t see how any of that springs from my comment of, “Think about that one.”

    You say you don’t see anyone disappearing, that’s the whole point, you won’t see someone being disappeared. You don’t have a list of missing Persons in your town? If you don’t, your town must be the Only one in America.

    Or consider this, a lot of People disappear in broad daylight with plenty of witnesses, the Feds have a part in it every day, all under the color of law while the nation cheers:

    After page three, if you can say People don’t disappear, well… I ain’t got nuthin to add, it’s plain as day from this perspective.

  31. RatMan Says:

    And some people disappear under their own power because they choose to do so…

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