Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do Two Wrongs Make a Right??

I've read several people telling me that this campaign is pointless, and more recently I've read several people telling me that my proposal is immoral because it essentially is adding another wrong to the wrong already being committed. If we truly respect the 4th Amendment, people say, we can't in good conscience propose that we break the 4th Amendment, even if targeted against our political "enemies", in this case, the bankers and financiers committing illegal acts that threaten our entire nation.

Obviously, I disagree with this reasoning, so this is my soapbox to explain why.

In brief: The government is already promulgating the abuse, and my argument revolves around the fact that this abuse is one-sided. Proposing to share the abuse against those in power is, I believe, rectifying the abuse, not adding further abuse.

Recall, the government is already collecting, monitoring, and analyzing the financial data in question. I am not proposing to further the abuse by collecting new data -- nobody is -- that would not be possible, because the government is collecting all existing data. What we are talking about is a different abuse or crime: that of selective law enforcement.

If you acquiesce to selective law enforcement without any protest, you are laying the foundation for the establishment of tyranny. The NSA can get dirt on us, but _we_ can't get dirt on the powerful. In that situation, we are establishing a protected, privileged class who is not accountable. As the Founding Fathers knew, that is a recipe for tyranny of a few connected, privileged elites.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

More news roundup

I see I have a few hundred page views, but I don't know if anybody is hanging on waiting for me to update this blog anymore... Haven't received any comments.

But the basic issue continues to simmer on the back burner of our collective attention, at least, as reflected in the news media. I don't think this issue is going to go away. Every other day comes some new revelation that we are being spied upon to a degree that was never before technologically possible.

The one thing the news media does not do, as they report these revelations, is speculate about what is the motive and what are the overseers going to do with this information.

Because I mean, you can't really expect me to believe the Federal Government needs the passwords to my accounts, even as it is already intercepting and decrypting my messages.

Feds Tell Web Firms To Turn Over User Account Passwords

You can't really expect me to believe the police are monitoring all the movements of our automobiles in all our cities just in order to track terrorists.

The Cops Are Tracking My Car -- And Yours

You can't really expect me to believe that opening my safe deposit box is necessary to fight terrorism.

DHS Claims Authority To Open Safe Deposit Boxes Without Warrants

So yeah, terrorism terrorism terrorism, but I just don't see these steps as being a necessary part of the battle against terrorism.

Sure the concept of broad surveillance may have originated (long before 9/11) as a misguided idea to fight terrorism. But I don't think that's the true, ultimate purpose of it anymore. As the examples above show, it's really going beyond plausibility to think that our government urgently needs to do these things, all without a warrant or court oversight, in order to fight terror.

Of course part of it is just for the money. We're Americans, and what Americans have done for the past 100 years is to take serious, bloody, moral and ethical issues and find ways to make profits off them, profits which of course are amoral. It's easy to convince yourself that spying on your fellow citizens is moral if your salary is paid by people who are buying your surveillance cameras.

Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash

I wrote before, that surveillance is equivalent to pornography for people in positions of power. Because the surveillance isn't about monitoring anymore than pornography is about cinematography. Surveillance is ultimately all about control. You have to use this data for something, and as I wrote, if the actual thing you're fighting is pretty small and elusive, you as a government overseer are going to find new uses for the data. You're going to use it, in secret, against people you personally don't like or disagree with. It's not even a slippery slope, it's a highway directly to Hell. It's just how human nature works when granted social authority at the same time as technological miracles. You're just bound to abuse it, no question.

The actual incidence of terrorism is small, and obviously they make themselves hard to find. So those doing the surveillance find themselves going out on a limb and provoking the thing they claim to be defending us from.

Most Terrorist Plots in the US Aren't Invented by Al Qaeda -- They're Manufactured by the FBI [Sting Operations]

As other people have written, one of the major problems with permitting things like torture, assassination and surveillance against "foreign enemies" is that all those things inevitably return back home to be used against the citizens.

DHS confirms it's spying on 'anti-government' Americans

And so if there aren't enough real traitors and terrorists among the domestic citizenry to justify the massive, bloated security operation -- inevitably, the government starts to declare more and more people as enemies and terrorists. It's happened in every repressive totalitarian regime that I know of.

How the US Turned Three Pacifists [an 82-year-old Catholic nun and two elderly vegetarians] into Violent Terrorists

Yet again I have to repeat, this is how empires fall. When the government slowly convinces itself that the citizens are the enemy instead of their employers. That situation can't last for long, historically speaking. One thing or the other has got to change.