The United States of Fear

June 20, 2013

Tom Friedman has outlined his latest installment in the ideology of fear, backed by his fellow mainstream writer, Bill Keller.  Friedman tells how us how he stops his worrying (or at least, worrying about the wrong things) and has learned to love Big Brother, and Keller says he is making an “important point”:

Yes, I worry about potential government abuse of privacy from a program designed to prevent another 9/11 — abuse that, so far, does not appear to have happened. But I worry even more about another 9/11. That is, I worry about something that’s already happened once — that was staggeringly costly — and that terrorists aspire to repeat.

I worry about that even more, not because I don’t care about civil liberties, but because what I cherish most about America is our open society, and I believe that if there is one more 9/11 — or worse, an attack involving nuclear material — it could lead to the end of the open society as we know it. If there were another 9/11, I fear that 99 percent of Americans would tell their members of Congress: “Do whatever you need to do to, privacy be damned, just make sure this does not happen again.” That is what I fear most.

So, here in the Republic of Fear, we appeal to the best in our citizens,their abject terror of something bad happening.  The print by James Gillray at the top recalls an earlier historical episode of the Security State, the British effort to root out atheists, freethinkers, and revolutionists in its midst.  Gillray was paid by the Tories, but he couldn’t help seeing how ridiculous they were, despite his politics. 

Bad things do happen all the time, it’s true, although usually to other people, but surely those terrorists are targeting me!  It follows, that we must cast principles by the wayside and go all out to provide security.

This security apparatus doesn’t do a very good job, although it never ever makes mistakes.  A recent FBI review of 150 shootings by agents concluded that every last one of them was perfectly justified.  That beats the NYPD hands down!  The NSA, CIA, etc. did a great job of preventing the Boston bombing, and we all know how well the CIA did before 9/11 (See Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower).  Was a lack of data the problem?

The head of the NSA has testified that the snooping has foiled 50, yes 50 terrorist plots. I’m sure he has a list, and it seems to have grown since the uproar started.  Not many details offered, however.  All top-secret.  I wonder…  Another acolyte of the Security State has argued for the necessity of gathering all of our phone records by saying, “If you are searching for a needle in a haystack, first you need a haystack.”  Is this really the best way to protect our country?  It’s remarks like this that made the phrase “Military Intelligence” an oxymoron.

Once they have this data, mistakes will be made.  They have been made already.  Sometimes with dire consequences, such as rendering suspects to countries that are willing to torture them without limit (Syria’s no longer good for that, however.) or just upending their lives because a name appeared on a list somehow, like the lawyer in Washington state who converted to Islam after he married a woman from the middle east.  Ah…the price we pay for liberty!

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The Prisoner has escaped

January 15, 2009

resigned

Patrick McGoohan has died at the age of 80.  The opening sequence of The Prisoner is the best in TV history, I think.  Watch the clip below…

—- Other Posts —-

Why did you resign?

Going Nowhere Fast

Memorial Notice on Jahsonic

New York Times Obituary

prisoner02

No. 6 addresses the court in the final episode, Fallout.

prisonerlotus7

That car! From the opening sequence.

From my favorite episode:  “A, B, and C” in which No. 2 manipulates No. 6’s dreams.


2 + 2 = 5

September 4, 2008
Our Big Brother

Our Big Brother

Will I ever tire of citing George Orwell and his book, 1984?  As I like to say, “It’s always 1984 somewhere!”  Right now, it seems like it’s then right here in the USA.  In his book, Orwell has the Party functionaries say that if The Party says the laws of arithmetic are suspended, then 2 + 2 = 5 and that’s it.  Believe it or die!

George Romney told the RNC that we need “a party of big ideas, not Big Brother!”  This from a minion of the party that has implemented domestic surveillance and suspension of habeus corpus.

The Republican flunkeys, one after another, tell us that we should elect their man because “Washington is broken!”  Uh, yeh…YOU’VE been in charge for the last eight years.  No wonder it’s a mess!

Funny also that the bedrock American political culture, even at the RNC, seems to be Democratic:  references to profiles in courage (JFK), the glass ceiling being shattered by Hillary and Geraldine, calls to service (FDR)…etc.

Keep calm…


Privacy Screen?

February 18, 2008

Patio Privacy Screen

If you feel as if you’re living in a fish bowl when you’re lounging on the patio, we’ve got the solution. This simple, airy screen will block all but the most persistent prying eyes.

With all the fun and excitement about the Internet – social networking, blogs, websites, instant messaging – it’s easy to forget that big organizations are probably collecting a lot of information on you. I only recently started actively managing my cookies. (I have no interest in having Amazon.com managing my shopping experience online.) Along with the growing body of stories about outrageous e-mail gaffes by people who don’t know what Reply-to-All means, there are stories about relationships being torpedoed, job interviews fizzling, love affairs being discoverd because of Googling, Facebook, MySpace, and other public and not so public postings.

In an opinion today in the New York Times, Adam Cohen (yes, you’ll have to enable cookies and register to see the whole article) relates:

In a visit to the editorial board not long ago, a top Google lawyer made the often-heard claim that in the Internet age, people — especially young people — do not care about privacy the way they once did.

I suspect, rather, that the implications of the Internet keyboarding hasn’t hit them yet, hasn’t been brought him to them in a clear and brutal way (lucky them) and not that they just don’t care. Either that, or they just haven’t thought of it yet, or don’t understand the technology. As Cohen says next:

It is a convenient argument for companies that make money compiling and selling personal data, but it’s not true. Protests forced Facebook to modify Beacon and to ease its policies on deleting information. Push-back of this sort is becoming more common.

Well, I hope so.

And while we are on the subject, I just don’t get the economics of the Web! Google makes billions off of its advertising offers, but I have not yet clicked on more than a single handful of ads on the Internet in my ten years or more on the Web!! I don’t get it. I know that I may not be representative, but I have found that adds on Google are worthless: I am a very directed shopper. I know what I want, and I search for it. They say the Internet isn’t free because we pay with our attention, but who’s checking to see if we are paying?

When I have tried to do research on this point, all I find is confusion and debate. Is this another example of everyone doing it (advertising on the Web) because everyone else is doing it, and you cannot afford to be seen not doing it? Is anyone benefitting from it – besides Google? Is this consumer-chatter-clutter the price we have to pay for the use of the Internet?


Never Out of Date!

March 22, 2005

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

 

For a bit more of George Orwell visit these texts. Oh, wait a moment – was that George Orwell or George Bush?