I’ve been of two minds about Kirsten Powers right along. Yes, she’s a “liberal,” and simply put, I can’t respect that. Any ideology whose starting point is the assumption that The People need to be directed, guided, and, when necessary, coerced by supposed “experts” who know better than they do what their own best interests are, is not one that I can see as anything but evil. And, deny it if you will, that is the heart of the Progressivist idea. It doesn’t matter whether their intentions are good; it doesn’t matter whether they just want to ease suffering and move society in a more humane and beneficent direction. Their methods are evil. Full stop, end of story.
But as you all know by now, every so often Powers comes up with a slice of analysis as clear-eyed, sharp, and just plain right as anybody. Such as:
Hell hath no fury like the Washington establishment scorned.
Since Edward Snowden came forward to identify himself as the leaker of the National Security Agency spying programs, the D.C. mandarins have been working overtime to discredit the man many view as a hero for revealing crucial information the government had wrongfully kept secret. Apparently, if you think hiding information about spying on Americans is bad, you are misguided. The real problem is that Snowden didn’t understand that his role is to sit and be quiet while the “best and the brightest” keep Americans in the dark about government snooping on private citizens.
By refusing to play this role, Snowden has been called a “traitor” by House Majority Leader John Boehner. Sen. Dianne Feinstein called the leaks “an act of treason.” The fury among the protectors of the status quo is so great that you have longtimeWashington Post columnist Richard Cohen smearing Snowden as a “cross-dressing Little Red Riding Hood.” The New York Times’s David Brooks lamented that Snowden, who put himself in peril for the greater good, was too “individualistic.” It seems that he wasn’t sufficiently indoctrinated to blindly worship the establishment institutions that have routinely failed us. Brooks argued that “for society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures.”
This is backward. It’s the institutions that need to demonstrate respect for the public they allegedly serve. If Snowden or any other American is skeptical of institutional power, it is not due to any personal failing on their part. The lack of respect is a direct outgrowth of the bad behavior of the nation’s institutions, behavior that has undermined Americans’ trust in them. According to Gallup’s “confidence in institutions” poll, trust is at an historic low, with Congress clocking in at a 13 percent approval rating in 2012. Yes, this is the same Congress that has “oversight” of the government spying programs
Whether one supports or opposes the NSA spying programs, Snowden has done a public service by exposing them and igniting a debate about government surveillance that even the president says he welcomes. There is no reason for the mere existence of either program to have been classified by the Most Transparent Administration in History. The claims that terrorists have been tipped off by these revelations are not credible. Nobody seriously believes that until now terrorists didn’t know the American government is monitoring their email and phone calls. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) told MSNBC Wednesday, “I don’t see how [Snowden’s leaks] compromises the security of this country whatsoever.”
How could it, when the excuse used for transforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act into the Federal Intelligence etc. doesn’t hold any water at all–when the only people being spied on are, well, US, and the Muslims who ought to be the targets of heightened scrutiny are specifically exempt from any scrutiny whatsoever?
The White House assures that tracking our every phone call and keystroke is to stop terrorists, and yet it won’t snoop in mosques, where the terrorists are.
That’s right, the government’s sweeping surveillance of our most private communications excludes the jihad factories where homegrown terrorists are radicalized.
Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.
Before mosques were excluded from the otherwise wide domestic spy net the administration has cast, the FBI launched dozens of successful sting operations against homegrown jihadists — inside mosques — and disrupted dozens of plots against the homeland.
If only they were allowed to continue, perhaps the many victims of the Boston Marathon bombings would not have lost their lives and limbs.
You want a reason to be outraged, right there it is. But gee, I wonder why Mordor on the Potomac seems willing enough to let this information get out? We wonders, yes, we wonders, precious.
Now take a look at various reactions. Nobody denied the surveillance programs’ existence. Instead, typified by a Wall Street Journal editorial and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s public statements, they were justified on the usual grounds of preventing terrorism and other misdeeds, with condemnations of the disclosers for compromising these useful programs. Surely the bad guys never suspected that their telephone and computers might be monitored, and will now resort to smoke signals and messenger pigeons to communicate, thwarting the good guys. Why the surveillance required information about billions of communications by innocent parties has not been answered, except for mumbles about “data-mining,” “pattern recognition,” and “if we told you more, we’d have to kill you.” Vacuous arguments were advanced about all three branches of the government signing off on the program, as if that were somehow a comfort. The ISPs issued masterfully legalistic denials that instilled no confidence they had not cooperated and would not continue to cooperate with the government. President Obama said that nobody’s phone conversations had been listened to or e-mails opened, but after the IRS’s harassment of conservative groups and the Justice Department’s surveillance of AP reporters and Fox News reporter James Rosen, not everybody was convinced. All in all, efforts to deny, defend, denigrate, and defuse have fallen well short of standard Washington damage control.
Why? Consider the seemingly far fetched idea that the government wanted the NSA programs disclosed in this way. There will be further revelations, controversy, expressions of outrage from opinion makers, politicians, and ordinary citizens, investigations, and perhaps new regulations and legislation. Leakers may wind up in jail, but probably not anyone in the government. Ostensibly, it may become harder for the NSA to do what it has done. But what if all that is beside the point?
When memories of the particulars of this affair have faded, one well founded fear will remain indelibly in the collective consciousness: that the government can find out everything you say on your phone, everywhere you go from your electronic gadgets, every website you visit, every word you post on social media, and everything you buy with credit cards. Those who frequently express their love for the government and have led exemplary, flawless lives may have no reason to cower, but for the other 99.9999999 percent, that fear is profoundly disturbing and will undoubtedly affect behavior.
Libertarians cheered social media’s role in undermining authoritarian regimes during the Arab spring. The NSA revelations have made it clear that the technologies celebrated as tools of liberation can rather easily become tools of oppression. But what good is Big Brother if nobody knows he’s watching? Are you more or less likely to criticize a politician over the phone, lambast the IRS on Facebook, criticize Wall Street-Washington crony capitalism in a blog post, or attend a rally protesting our foreign policy if you suspect government surveillance? For the government, the details of individual lives revealed by their telephone calls, Internet usage, and movements will be, for the most part, unimportant. What is important is engendering a widespread fear that it can obtain such information and use it to harass, embarrass, blackmail, intimidate, arrest, or otherwise persecute anyone who says or does something the government does not like.
With this masterstroke the government will cow much of the population.
What, the wonderful government of, by, and for the people in this blessed land of the free, home of the brave–a nation in which our Constitution prevents such abuses, and the right to free speech is jealously guarded by an informed and resolute populace determined to maintain its liberty? That government, perpetrating such abuses? That nation, tolerating it?
Oh yeah, wait; sorry. My bad. Steyn sums up:
If you had the misfortune to be blown up by the Tsarnaev brothers, and are now facing a future with one leg and suddenly circumscribed goals, like those brave Americans featured on the cover of the current People magazine under the headline “Boston Tough,” you might wish Boston had been a little tougher on Tamerlan and spent less time chasing the phantoms of “Free America Citizens.” But, in fact, it would have been extremely difficult to track the Tsarnaevs at, say, the mosque they attended. Your Granny’s phone calls, your teenager’s Flickr stream, and your Telecharge tickets for two on the aisle at Mamma Mia! for your wife’s birthday, and the MasterCard bill for dinner with your mistress three days later are all fair game, but since October 2011 mosques have been off-limits to the security state. If the FBI guy who got the tip-off from Moscow about young Tamerlan had been sufficiently intrigued to want to visit the Boston mosque where he is said to have made pro-terrorism statements during worship, the agent would have been unable to do so without seeking approval from something called the Sensitive Operations Review Committee high up in Eric Holder’s Department of Justice. The Sensitive Operations Review Committee is so sensitive nobody knows who’s on it. You might get approved, or you might get sentenced to extra sensitivity training for the next three months. Even after the bombing, the cops forbore to set foot in the lads’ mosque for four days. Three hundred million Americans are standing naked in the NSA digital scanner, but the all-seeing security state has agreed that not just their womenfolk but Islam itself can be fully veiled from head to toe.
We’re told that universal surveillance has prevented all kinds of atrocities we can never hear about — an answer straight out of Orwell. Yet oddly, in the ones we do hear about, the perps are hiding in plain sight (Major Hasan with “Soldier of Allah” on his business card), the intelligence services do nothing (the Pantybomber known to the CIA but still permitted to board the plane), and the digital superstate is useless (the Tsarnaev photo rang no bells with the facial-recognition software, but was identified by friends who saw it on TV).
And thus, the bozo leviathan blunders on. Big Politically Correct Brother sees everything…and nothing.
It’s the government a nation of cowed pussies deserves, and they’re getting it–good and hard. The rest of us are either going to need to hunker down, arm up, and steel ourselves for the inevitable no-knock SWAT raid someday (it’s no real comfort that that raid will probably end up at the wrong address, per the usual Bozo Leviathan MO), or find someplace else to live far from these blighted shores.
Or…well, you know.
I posit that the only people guilty of actually “hating America” today are those eagerly smearing the whistleblowers in a sad attempt to defend the Status Quo. It is they who are hostile to America’s limited-government tradition.
Today’s federal government — the biggest, most expensive, most powerful State the world has ever known — is a corrupt and lawless institution. Regardless of the party in power, the Constitution is treated like something to wipe their ass with at best. They do nothing but lie — both Republican and Democratic politicians alike. Their legions of petty tyrant bureaucrats slither behind arbitrary decrees of regulation and secrecy. The Gang of 545 have made penny-pinching misers out of formerly spendthrift drunken sailors. There are no legitimate excuses for the mess they’ve made. Zip. Zero. Nada. And making excuses for them (regarding anything at this point) is just plain sad, pathetic and quite frankly, embarrassing to watch.
Plain and simple. The federal government are the bad guys here. Not Snowden. Not Manning. Not Assange. The federal government are the bad guys. The entire institution doesn’t have an ounce of credibility to stand on, let alone the kind of trust necessarily required of knowing anyone’s intimate details. The chief traitors in our midst, those who deserve to be detained and tortured down at Guantanamo Bay, include the members of both the Bush Jr. and Obama regimes, the Congress, the CIA, the NSA, DHS, FBI, TSA, IRS, the rest of the federal alphabet soup, and soulless bureaucrats who do their bidding.
They are the people who’ve betrayed every last principle of America’s founding. Yet some “conservatives” actually believe they’re benevolent angels worthy of monitoring our every move? Give me a break. These people don’t give a rat’s ass about you, me, or our freedom. In fact we’re their primary enemy! So deal with it … The only “freedom” they’re “fighting for” is Rousseau’s boundless freedom of the State to do whatever the hell it damn well pleases.
And speaking of Bill, he says:
Look, folks, I realize I’m backing myself into the sort of corner where it will become impossible for me to support almost all of the candidates of any of the major parties, but so what? It doesn’t really matter who you vote for. Vote for Bush, get an attempt to shove scamnesty down your throat. Vote for Obama, get scamnesty shoved down your throat. Vote for Bush, get gigantic new entitlements, and one of the biggest spending increases in history, and a massive economic crash. Vote for Obama, and get gigantic new entitlements, the biggest spending increase in history, and the New American Depression. Vote for Bush, get a promise to sign an Assault Weapons Ban if congress sends it to him. Vote for Obama, get him sending a new Assault Weapons Ban to congress. Vote for Bush, get a vast new security state. Vote for Obama, get that security state on steroids.
Liberty is going down the toilet, and clueless mouthbreathers are going nuts over how many dicks are in the wedding party, are blastulas the same as sixty year old grannies, and a host of other trivialities upon which to base the pretence that the parties are different in any significant way.
When, In the Course of human events….
That’s probably what it’s going to take, and I don’t know if the enervated American polity has such a course in it any more. But this mess is not going to be solved by voting for the Dems or the GOP based on how many gay men can dance on the head of a wedding pin.
By George, I think he’s got it. From his mouth to God’s ears–or at least, to the ears of those few stout souls left in this benighted land who still give a damn about liberty, independence, and their own damned dignity. It’s time to face facts here…and then, it’s going to be time to figure out what we’re going to do about it, and just how we’re gonna do it. It’s not going to be easy; the answers are by no means obvious. But at this moment, in this time, no one needs to blather to me any longer about the necessity of protecting this particular State, or of maintaining fealty or loyalty to it.