This came up at Joel’s place the other day. I think it was MJR who linked it. In any case, it’s cool in more ways than one — poor man’s air conditioning.
Hm. Jeffrey Snider also goes on (as I recently did) about how seventeenth century England made such a difference to Americans. Then he goes on. And on. About modern-day political thievery. Long but interesting.*
And things continue to look up! Woman wins big settlement after cop steals her money and arrests her on false charges. (H/T Say Uncle)
Everybody knows about Sherman committing war crimes as he pillaged and burned his way to the sea. But I never knew Sheridan did the same thing farther north — on orders from Grant and with the blessing and thanks of Lincoln.
* He screws up saying that Locke fled England under James I. It was James II. But that’s just being technical. Locke was a pretty amazing person and one to whom we also owe much.
The stated goal of the Afghan effort is no less than the collection of biometric data for every living person in Afghanistan. At a conference with Afghan officials in 2010, the commander of the U.S. Army’s Task Force Biometrics Col. Craig Osborne told the attendees that the collection of biometric data is not simply about “identifying terrorists and criminals,” but that “it can be used to enable progress in society and has countless applications for the provision of services to the citizens of Afghanistan.” According to Osborne, biometrics provide the Afghan government with “identity dominance” enabling them to know who their citizens are and link actions with actors.
Yep. It’s always tried out first on prisoners, “enemies,” the mentally defective, children, and others who aren’t in a position to resist effectively. Then it comes to our neighborhoods.
But no problem! Hey, it’s to help “provision of services”! I’m sure they’ll drop the creepy “identity dominance” discription when it comes time to apply all this to us. It’ll go away. Just like “Total Information Awareness” did.
(Article is from April. I just found it this morning — and I don’t think much will have changed (at least not changed for the better) since it was published.)
I try not to be paranoid. I really do. I laugh at Alex Jones-style alarms and snort haughtily when I see that a story originates with InfoWars.
I believe myself to be above all that. I really do. I consider much alarmist “news” to be on par with reports that lizard-brained aliens are secretly running the country. (Human-brained aliens are quite sufficiently awful, thank you.)
Alas (but no surprise), the rumor that’s been buzzing around the ‘Net ever since Edward Snowden’s NSA documents began their slow leak has turned out to be true. The NSA has cracked the encryption on which the Internet thrives.
All those assurances from our banks, insurance companies, doctors, credit card companies, etc. that our data is safe and secure? Blooey.
Maybe “cracking” isn’t quite the right term. Apparently, they haven’t really gotten any great master key. Not even to one form of encryption (and there are many forms). This isn’t Bletchley Park and the Enigma machine. Nothing so grand. Simply tawdry.
If the news stories are correct, the NSA’s methods consist of brute-force attacks (which, correct me if I’m wrong, techies) are used only in individual cases where they’ve really got motive to snoop and — no surprise — backdoors willingly provided by tech companies.
There are so many non-surprises here.
Collaborating companies named in the documents include Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Hotmail. No doubt only the tip of the iceberg.
I hope every one of those companies, and any others, pay and pay and pay and pay for their betrayal, not only the betrayal of their users, but as Bruce Schneier says, their part in what amounts to an all-out attack on the Internet. They have sold the Internet for the modern equivalent of 30 pieces of silver. May their end be as miserable and gruesome as that of the man who inspired them.
But as you weep, notice. It’s another non-surprise. But notice what the NSA calls us all — calls every user of online banking, every poor fool who trusted his medical records to some online provider, everyone who believed the word of Internet corporations. They call us “adversaries.”
A few weeks back when I said the federal government (particularly its UberGovernment) had declared war on us, I could have been exaggerating. Just being dramatic.
But no more. The UberGovernment has declared each and every one of us to be its adversaries. Just because we want confidential information kept confidential. Just because we want privacy. Just because we don’t want Big Brother — or any other criminal — peering over our shoulders, into our bank accounts, or into the space between our doctor and us.
The last few days I’ve been doing physical labor, spending time in the sunshine, painting rooms — and thinking about America’s UberGovernment.
It’s dawning on a lot more people that a government run by secret spymasters is illigitmate even by the most conventional, mainstream standards. Among freedomistas, even those like the folks at DownsizeDC — who are usually pretty polite, mainstream, and hopeful of working within the system — are talking last straws.
Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA were a shock, though not a surprise. Now this week they’re followed by news of DEA operations that are top secret — but obviously, no doubt about it, are the result of collusion between the DEA and the NSA (“We’re only spying on you so we can keep you safe from brown-skinned furriners with scary religions, really!”). And these operations are resulting in arrest, asset forfeiture, and sometimes decades in prison for Americans.
And in another non-surprise, old-news revelation, Glenn Greenwald is now reporting that members of Congress — you know, those experts who were so diligently overseeing all those secret spy programs, bravely protecting our interests and Our Glorious Constituion — can’t even get information on the NSA or its bosom pal the FISA court no matter how much they rant or beg.
So yes. You’d have to be naive in the extreme to believe that a huge, secret level of government that answers to no one is a legitimate democratic-or-republican government. This country is now governed by an UberGoverment — Secrecy uber Alles.
Control uber Alles.
It’s also nothing new that Congress long ago lost authority over most of the unaccountable bureaucratic creatures it created, from the IRS to farm subsidy programs to ObamaPhones for the poor. The only thing that’s changed is that now Congress has lost power to a gigantic “security” apparatus that suspects and investigates everyone, makes war from the air on individuals (it still boggles my mind that more people aren’t boggled that drone warfare is conducted by the CIA and not the Pentagon), has U.S. citizens arrested and assassinated, and is accountable to absolutely no “of the people” authority whatsoever.
You know what this is. I know what this is. We have several ugly words for it that we onced used only about the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and the dreary gray Eastern Bloc cold-war Europe.
This won’t end well. This never ends well. There is no “within the system” way to rid ourselves of this vast deadly parasite, the UberGovernment of the United States of America.
But then … in some ways, that makes things easier for us.
Oh, no. We’re not all going to gallop off on pink unicorns tomorrow. That’s for sure. I said “easier,” not “easy.”
But knowing that the actual government of the U.S. is beyond our reach (yeah, writing a letter giving your opnion to the CIA or NSA would be even more laughable than the standard ‘write to your representative NOW!’) means we can focus more effectively. Means we can do things that work. Or at least quit doing things that only raise our blood pressure.
We can get a lot more done now. We’re likely to have a lot more people getting things done with us. Ultimately. Maybe not yet. But in the long run.
The other day Mike Vanderboegh lit into Josh Horwitz, who had lit into those those like Mike, who Horwitz considers “insurrectionists.” Well, when it comes to freedom, I’d be happy to stand beside (or … er, maybe a few steps behind) the Dutchman.
But, sorry, we — meaning most of my friends, the blog Commentariat, several of my publishers, the gunblogosphere, and a growing number of ordinary worried folks — are not the ones conducting an insurrection. No, you folks in Washington, DC, and those creepy suburbs of yours in Virginia and Maryland, you’re the ones who’ve already “insurrected.” Your type of insurrection would be called a coup, except that many of those you overthrew happily handed their power off to you voluntarily — “progressives” cheering for bigger government and “conservatives” cheering for … oh yeah, bigger government, as long as it’s of the warmaking sort — while both voted to give you more and more and more until you’re now the boss of them.
But in declaring your right to spy on, arrest, and even murder us — not those irresponsible egomaniacs in Congress, but we the proverbial people who remember that the word “freedom” actually means something — you’ve … well, guys, you’ve lost some friends. And you’re going to lose more.
And of course the more who turn against you, the better excuse you have for cracking down — and demanding bigger budgets, bigger buildings, bigger databases, more drone power, etc. etc etc. Not to mention issuing more and more scaaarrrrry (but eternally vague) reports about wreckers and saboteurs (oh, sorry, I mean terrorists) and perhaps pulling off a few more false-flag ops to keep the rabble in line.
Until one day you are as powerful as … well, who can even imagine, because you’ll have more powers than those pikers in Moscow or East Berlin ever dreamed.
But that goes only so far. Keep that up for a few years and one day you’ve got no friends left at all. And then you’re surrounded. By us. And by millions more who never thought they’d be at such a point in all their lifetimes.
But remember: you started it. We didn’t. We wouldn’t. We’re better than that. But once you’ve weakened yourself with your own voracious secret keeping, your gluttony for data, your excesses in the cause of Control — we will damn well finish you.
Source. Via Wendy. Comments at the source are well worth reading.
I usually don’t ask political questions. But signs are that this “interesting” week in Egypt will have repercussions that are long-term, widespread, and personal. So …
Was it a coup, a revolution — or simply a restoration of the revolution that began in Tahrir Square in the Arab Spring? What will the repercussions be — for U.S. policy, for Obama, and for freedom anywhere?
The U.S. government has a history of “backing the wrong horse.” Nothing new there. But the potential consequences seem unusually large this time.
** Looks as if these hopeful Canadian filmmakers aren’t going to make their modest goal. Only 15 hours left as I write this. Too bad. A mention over at LRC could probably have put them over the top in an hour. (H/T Wendy)
You know how I usually view petitioning Our Glorious Leaders. It’s right up there with v*ting for usefulness. However, here’s a petition that deserves some attention:
we petition the obama administration to: require that Syrian rebels receiving firearms and other munitions from the US Government receive only firearms legal for US Civilian ownership, and undergo the same background and security checks a US Civilian would, including appropriate NFA tax stamps, and waiting periods.
I don’t know why anyone would want to arm those barbarians (and they’re barbarians on both sides of that conflict). I really don’t know why anyone who favors the U.N. Small Arms Treaty (I’m talking about you, Mr. O) would rush out to arm any rebels anywhere, since under the treaty exporting arms to a country whose government doesn’t okay importing them would be a huge no-no. Practicing up for being even more of a war criminal than you already are, Mr. O?
But if yet another neocon administration is absolutely determined to send weaponry to savages so they can do horrible things to each other in a cause in which we have no legitimate interest, dragging us into yet another sectarian war conducted by religious fanatics who will then hate the U.S. more than they already do … well, at least do it without the double standard.
Can’t see a reason on earth why third-world Al Quaeda-aligned berserkers should have an easier time getting U.S.-made guns than you or I would.
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.