He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
Twenty-nine. Prosperous. Successful. Living in paradise. And willing to risk it all for freedom. Willing to risk it all for an act that (dare I use the term?) is intensely patriotic.
Thank you, Edward Snowden. Thank you a million times over.
Anybody who grew up in a dysfunctional family knows one of the cardinal rules: The person who mentions a problem is the person who caused the problem.
Let some low-on-the-family-totem-pole person raise a destructive issue that’s hidden in plain sight and all hell breaks loose.
No, the family doesn’t suddenly wake up and say, “OMG, you’re right. We have to do something about that!” Instead, everyone within earshot rounds on the poor sap who dared mention the family secret and the bullying begins:
“Why are you always such a troublemaker?”
“If you’d just learn to keep your mouth shut, everything would be fine.”
“If you were a better person, your mother wouldn’t drink so much!” (Or your uncle wouldn’t come on to you or your parents wouldn’t argue so much or your father wouldn’t have deserted the family or whatever.)
And so on and so on and so on. It’s absolutely depressing how alike dysfunctional families are. Worse, let said poor sap, in desperation, take his complaint outside the family in an attempt to get help and … well, you ain’t seen hell until you’ve seen that.
Because then said sap is not only a liar, a troublemaker, a tramp, a faggot, a weakling, or whatever else s/he’s being scapegoated for. Then the sap is disloyal. A traitor to the clan. A violator of the code of silence.
It’s even more depressing how alike dysfunctional governments are.
The suffering of Bradley Manning, on trial this week after three years behind bars (nearly a year of that spent in horrific, punitive conditions), reminds me just how much a dysfunctional government is like a dysfunctional family.
Manning saw evidence that U.S. government soldiers were committing war crimes — and the government was covering those crimes up by classifying the evidence. (Classifying is used absurdly indiscriminately, in any case; and the Obama administration itself leaks classified documents when it suits their own purposes.)
Nobody could be more of a low-man-on-the-totem-pole than Bradley Manning: an Army private; 5’2″; gay; young; and wearing big, thick, blocky glasses. But he bravely — or foolishly, or both — put the evidence in front of the world, especially the shocking, infamous, truly unAmerican Collateral Murder video.
What happened was oh, so predictable. Were the murderers brought to justice? Are their names plastered across the media? Are they in prison? Were their commanders called to account? Did journalists and criminal investigators across this great land start delving into the crimes and the culture behind them? Were presidents and cabinet members held accountable? Anything … anything?
Of course not. Because we’re dealing with a dysfunctional “family” writ large.
Therefore, the problem is not that agents of the state murder and get away with it. No, that’s not the problem at all. We can all just ignore that. The problem is that Bradley Manning brought the matter to light. And the cardinal rule is: The person who mentions a problem is the person who caused the problem.
Bradley Manning is evil. Bradley Manning is a traitor.
Did Manning break laws? Apparently. But so do we all, all day long. Did Manning give the enemy (whoever they are this week) information against the U.S.? He gave the world facts that anyone could use; but those facts and that video only harm the U.S. because of the actions of the U.S., not because of Manning.
Here’s a thought: You don’t want to be hated? You don’t want your enemies to have propaganda tools to use against you? Then don’t commit war crimes.
Did Manning actually cause any problem? No.
He’s just the poor little sap who saw a terrible problem in his government/military “family” and thought it needed to be brought to light so it could be discussed in the open, the issues dealt with, the problem solved.
Maybe with a little more age and experience, he’d have known what always happens after that.
Daniel Ellsberg, the last guy to do something similar, had age, experience, status, solid help, and the fact that people already hated Richard Nixon, on his side. He still got crucified. Poor Bradley Manning, without all of the above, is like the hapless low-status kid in the world’s biggest and most vengeful dysfunctional family.. Without a miracle, they’re going to crush him as only a dysfunctional clan can.
It was sunny yesterday, O wonder of wonders. I spent the day painting the back porch. It’s a tiny porch, but has four different colors and a couple different wall textures and it kept my body occupied for hours.
But my mind had betterother things it wanted to do.
I found myself thinking about Amy Fischer, the “Long Island Lolita” and her main squeeze with the perfect tabloid name, Joey Buttafuoco. Why the heck would I be there in the sunshine thinking about some long-eclipsed “crime of the century”? I have no idea.
I was thinking about people who have no sense of responsibility. It scares me that about half of all the people I’ve hoped I could count on over the years don’t have one.
I wondered if the neighbor I just hired to trim shrubbery and cut brush would actually show up and do it. He seems bright, eager, and knowledgeable. But I realize I’ve quit expecting anything until I see it happen.
I thought about the first time, many years ago, that I got an inkling that a lot of people make promises they don’t try to keep. I was coordinating a community project and a young woman never showed up to do her bit. Nor could she be reached for days beforehand. It turned out she’d known all along she was going to be out of the country that week.
When I asked incredulously, “Why didn’t you let me know?” she shrugged as if anyone with a brain would understand. “It was only a volunteer project,” she sniffed.
I was too dumbstruck to ask, “So your word only counts when you’re getting paid?”
I sometimes wonder if I’m a self-righteous ass***e about things like this. It’s possible.
I thought, “Nope, I’m not going to poke that hornet’s nest again.” But 35-year career Marine, Dr. Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume, now he can poke at it all he wants
I wondered whether the Hancock clan’s new plan for their Freedom’s Phoenix newsletter will do well. After 24 issues focused on events in the world, they’re taking it more personal with articles like this on neighbors and suburban survivalism.
Great pix. Great ideas. Would like to see more words to make the concept clearer.
Funny that they ask their subscribers to consent to scanning and targeting of all their mail — but folks who merely write to their subscribers aren’t given a choice in the matter, even though they get just as thoroughly spied upon.
Before Gmail launched, I swore publicly that I’d never correspond with anybody with a Gmail address. It was an empty threat. So many people, including close friends, embraced Gmail that I never carried through (oops, does that mean my word can’t be counted on, either?).
Now I’m seriously thinking about renewing that pledge, for any known spyware email system. Maybe. Problem is, if the hints are true, there are darned few email systems that aren’t somebody’s spyware, these days.
Katherine Albrecht’s and StartPage’s StartMail sounds promising, though details are lacking at this point. Beta testers wanted (at the link).
I sent some thoughts (and hope you will, too) toward Bradley Manning, whose trial finally begins today. He’s already spent three years in durance vile, sometimes subject to inhumane conditions, and could spend the rest of his life in prison. All for trying to make government more open, just as the politicians are always promising to do.
Then the sun headed down. I washed up my brushes, rollers, and pans. I admired the paint job for a while (as much as I was allowed to admire it with Ava dropping her tennis ball at my feet 3,000 times a minute, which she does any time I don’t appear occupied; she must think I’m stupid for being so slow to take her hints). Then my mind and I wandered on into the house, tired but satisfied.
Sorry for the couple of days non-posting. This may make no sense, but it’s been a combination of having nothing to say and having too much to say.
I’ve wanted to go back to that Memorial Day post to explain myself better and maybe answer a few commentors.
But I didn’t think I should poke a stick in that hornet’s nest again. So I’ll just say thanks to those who commented thoughtfully (whether agreeing or disagreeing), thanks to those who offered new insights, thanks to those who defended me, and a much more ironic thanks to people who proved my point by flipping into a swivet.
I’m still in that state of having too much yet too little to say. I’ve been thinking a lot this week about privacy. Obviously, it’s still a huge (and ever-more huge) concern, but in this era of tracking devices in our pockets and terrifyingly targeted advertising, it seems that millions have chosen to be their very own personal Big Brother. And it appears that people may soon choose to make things much more dangerous for themselves.
Since Orwell, writers have warned of the power of Big Brother. More recently, of corporate Little Brothers. But whoever would have guessed that when the surveillance state arrived in full, we’d embrace it as the latest cool-and-groovy thing and become our own Evil Twins, happily paying to spy on ourselves for the benefit of those other siblings?
So I’ve wrestled this week with writing about privacy, too. Because it desperately needs doing but seems increasingly futile.
I dislike government-declared holidays. I hate holidays designed to evoke uncritical emotional reactions. Above all, I hate holidays that demand that we all adopt some government-supremacist worldview — or keep our mouths shut when we disagree.
We now have two holidays in the year that serve the same purpose: to impose upon us the lie that all soldiers who fight in any war are always “fighting for our freedom.” (As long as they work for the U.S. government, of course. Presumably soldiers who work for opposing governments are all poltroons at best and baby-raping war criminals at worst.)
Today, we’re told that every American soldier who ever died in a U.S. government-conducted war is a hero. Another lie. Of course some were heroes. And some were unconscionable jerks, murderous monsters. The majority were just poor saps who were only following orders.
You name me the soldier, dead or alive, whose sacrifice helped make the world more free and I’ll honor him. Any honor I can give is, of course, absolutely inadequate. But I’ll honor him in the best way I can — by exercising and doing my bit to promote the freedom he strove to protect.
I gladly honor Bradley Manning. Now there’s a man who sacrificed (and is still sacrificing) himself for freedom. And Pat Tillman. He gave up a multi-million dollar football career because he believed (wrongly) that he was defending his country. His government killed him and lied about it — and the truths that his determined family forced to light encouraged freedom by encouraging skepticism about deadly government propaganda. Citizen-soldier Captain John Parker? A man deserving honor indeed. And Hugh Thompson, Lawrence Colburn, and Glenn Andreotta, who put their own lives on the line to halt the My Lai massacre. How could anyone fail to honor them?
And of course there are thousands more freedom fighters — maybe millions the world over — who deserve gratitude that none of us easy-living folks will ever be able to give them.
But freedom requires thinking. And giving uncritical honor to any class isn’t thinking. And calling everyone who ever put on a uniform and obeyed government orders “a hero” is the most damnable sort of lie.
Today we’re ordered to revere the dead. Those who got drafted against their will to serve the purposes of the government-industrial complex. Those who took such cant phrases as “domino theory,” “weapons of mass destruction,” and “they hate us for our freedom” as their substitute for personal investigation and critical thought. Those who died in illegal wars because they didn’t learn, or didn’t care, otherwise. Those who killed non-combatants. Those who were “only following orders” and had no idea what they were actually fighting for.
We’re even supposed to honor those whose government-aiding actions have, over time, taken more and more political freedom from us. We’re supposed to honor people who believe unquestioning obedience is “freedom.” People whose actions have led to ever-larger, ever-more-controlling government, decade upon decade.
We’re supposed to cease thinking and call them all “heroes.” And honor them all for their sacrifice and their “service” — even if the institution and the causes they served are the opposite of everything expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
No thank you. Today (and every day), though I join in mourning the dead, it’s a different kind of death that’s the ultimate tragedy.
Speaking of creepy: Skype. It could have been very non-creepy. But it’s a M*******t product; so what can you say? It’s creepy. (H/T Wendy McElroy)
Oh, that laugh-a-minute IRS. Turns out they also gave supposedly “private” info on conservative groups to a liberal group. And there’s so much more of this tale still to come out. Does Big O really think it can be hushed up with a couple of IRS resignations?
I’ve been meaning to do something deep and profound with that excellent PBS piece on the Stockholm Syndrome and money printing. Since I’m not brilliant this week, I’ll just link for the edification of anybody who hasn’t already seen it. Good one, definitely.
Emailing the other day, a friend happened to drop a great phrase: “whoever, or whatever, is masquerading as Uncle Sam” (unstated but implied was “at the moment”).
I thought, now there’s a phrase with the power to wake some sleepy folks.
We like to go on about the capital-F Founders. Some people talk as if America was their living, breathing gift to us. In a way, it was of course — the idea and the ideal.
But the actual, practical thing those Founders bequeathed us was a mere corporate shell. A shell in the shape of a constitution and institutions. However good or ill the Famous Founders’ intentions, that shell could be — and has been — taken over. It was there; it was convenient. So it’s been taken and occupied like a hermit crab takes over the empty shell of a sea snail.
Argue all day about the intentions of Hamilton vs Madison vs Jefferson vs whoever, the shell was created by a different species of creature than those who inhabit it now.
But for friends of liberty who hold the nation and its symbols dear, the image of the constitution being used as a mere disguise, a convenience, a legitimizing “outfit” for powers that are altogether illegitimate … that could be a wake-up call. How easy it is for tyrants large and small to use institutions of authority to disguise what they really are. It might get some folks asking questions.
“Who are you and what have you done with Uncle Sam? Why are you wearing his clothing? Have you mugged him, you thug, and taken everything that should have been his — and ours?”