Friday, January 17, 2014

Love With the Proper Stalker

 "We don't spy on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security," Barack Obama double-negatively insisted today.

Translation/caveat: Since every man, woman and child on the face of the planet is considered a threat to the security of the United Stasi unless proven otherwise ex post facto, the spying and the cyber-stalking will continue.

Other Orwellian tidbits in the speech: The NSA probably maybe won't continue storing all your communications, but rest assured that all your communications will continue to be stored. The mystery bureaucracy storing all your communications is yet to be determined, and will no doubt be handsomely funded by a black budget free from Congressional oversight.

Oh, and there will be no more secrecy unless "we" determine that there is a need for secrecy.

As I commented on a New York Times preview of the president's speech,

Obama will "propose a new public advocate to represent privacy concerns at a secret intelligence court."
So, is this the new Orwellian definition of "public-private partnership?" Or is Obama simply playing the cynical role of the Gatekeeper in the remake of "Before the Law?" According to this parable by Kafka, the supplicant spends his entire life begging the Gatekeeper for access to the secret court, where he may or may not be on trial.
And just as the Gatekeeper keeps conning the litigant/defendant in Kafka's tale, Obama glibly keeps insisting that the welfare and safety of "the people" is his primary concern. Since he doesn't want you to revolt, he cordially invites you to hang around outside, listening to him wax rhapsodic about how transparent the whole system is. And maybe, someday, if you're really patient, you might be allowed in. Just not now. And anyway, Obama is only the first gatekeeper guarding other, bigger gatekeepers guarding still more gatekeepers guarding the "public advocate."
Obama's job, like any Gatekeeper's job, is to just keep stringing us along until we either give up or conveniently die.

And speaking of cynicism, people noticed that Obama chose to give his speech defending the "patriots" of the NSA on the 54th anniversary of Ike's famous farewell speech warning of the impending Military-Industrial Complex and urging citizens to be vigilant against the anti-democratic machinations of our leaders. It was quite telling that Obama urged no such thing on the citizens whom he  has the privilege of serving. His speech was strident, bellicose, defensive and paternalistic. 

Just as cynical
, in my view, is the fact that Obama delivered his creepy veiled threat of a speech mid-way through what he himself just proclaimed "National Stalking Awareness Month." Wrote the president:
Stalkers seek to intimidate their victims through repeated unwanted contact, including harassing phone calls, text messages, or emails. Cyberstalking is increasingly prevalent, with more than one quarter of stalking victims reporting being harassed through the Internet or electronically monitored. Many victims suffer from anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and some are forced to move or change jobs.....
 NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2014 as National Stalking Awareness Month. I call upon all Americans to recognize the signs of stalking, acknowledge stalking as a serious crime, and urge those affected not to be afraid to speak out or ask for help. Let us also resolve to support victims and survivors, and to create communities that are secure and supportive for all Americans.
Thanks to Edward Snowden (whom Obama peevishly refused to talk about in his speech, other than to seemingly blame the Snowden revelations for his own inability to quit droning all those brown terrorist people to death), all Americans now recognize the unmistakable signs and evidence of their own government stalking them. (Not to mention the relatively innocuous but nonetheless annoying email spam from the White House Propaganda Shop, the constant intrusion of Barack Obama on our TV screens, the rampant spammy fund-raising appeals from the Organizing for Action Obama Legacy campaign.)

 A growing number of people are daring to acknowledge right out loud that the NSA is a criminal enterprise. Victims are suffering from anxiety as a result -- especially journalists and would-be whistleblowers. Like Snowden, the heroes exposing government crimes will be forced to move, chased and hounded by USA Mega-Stalker to the ends of the earth, till the end of their lives. There are even hit squads of Stalker Helpers who have publicly vowed to put a bullet in Snowden's brain.

So by all means, go ahead and believe Obama as he promises to create secure, supportive communities.... with a CCTV camera on every corner, antennae in every computer and beady little cyber-eyes on every last private email, medical report and bank statement.

The "Just Trust Me" Charm Offensive

And the lying continues right along with the harassment. Obama today once again claimed that the NSA "consistently follows protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people. They’re not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails."

Ummm.... As ProPublica points out in an article, posted only hours before the latest mendacity outbreak,

In fact, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [5] has reprimanded the NSA for abuses both in warrantless surveillance targeting people abroad, and in bulk domestic phone records collection.
In 2011, the FISA Court found [6] that for three years, the NSA had been collecting tens of thousands of domestic emails and other communications [7] in violation of the Fourth Amendment [8]. The court ordered the NSA to do more to filter out those communications. In a footnote, Judge John D. Bates also chastised the NSA for repeatedly misleading the court [9] about the extent of its surveillance. In 2009 – weeks after Obama took office – the court concluded the procedures designed to protect the privacy of American phone records had been “so frequently and systemically violated [10] that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”
The NSA told the court those violations were unintentional [11] and a result of technological limitations [12]. But the NSA’s own inspector general has also documented some “willful” abuses: About a dozen NSA employees have used government surveillance to spy on their lovers and exes, a practice reportedly called “LOVEINT [13].”
The Stalker-in-Chief must get so damned frustrated trying to drill into our heads that there's any difference between the NSA Stalkers and the Bad Stalkers, who exist only to frighten and harrass the womenfolk on the mean streets of America  and throughout global cyberspace. If a civilian does it, it's a crime. If a spy does it, it's patriotism, with only the occasional, totally unintentional "mistake that was made" in the name of love. For your own good and protection, of course.
If you can't be with the Stalker you love, then love the Stalker you're with. If you like your Stalker, you can keep your Stalker. Sigh. 


annenigma said...

I took Pearl's advice and hung in there with the NYT. I contributed 2 comments on this topic. The first one is doing well so far - although not as many as Karen's:

"53 YEARS AGO TODAY Ike warned us about the dangers of the Military-Industrial (Surveillance) Complex.

The fact is that it has been a Constitutional law professor-turned-President who has ordered the beef-up of the MIC to include SECRETLY collecting data on all American citizens as well as the rest of the world. This same Constitution expert denies citizens the right to use the legal system to challenge the Constitutionality of all these programs, invoking State SECRETS Privilege to get our cases dismissed, essentially locking those courthouse doors to the citizenry.

This President has also signed the NDAA of 2012 giving him the power to SECRETLY indefinitely detain Americans without due process and also to use the military domestically to do so. He claims and exercises the power to SECRETLY order the assassination of American citizens based on SECRET data. His legal justification? Sorry, that's a SECRET.

To further prove Ike's point, Mr. Obama insists on retaining a Military general to run Big Brother for him. It's getting to the point when my tinfoil hat is starting to whisper to me that someday a Presidential candidate might actually be groomed by the MIC, handpicked in college for intelligence, charm, and ability to dupe others, and offer them an unbelievably swift rocket ride to the White House, benefiting both. When any President's personal records are locked up and kept SECRET, we would never even know.

Thank you Edward Snowden and other brave citizens."

Also this one:

"Since we've learned from the Snowden leaks that our government is already handing over raw, unfiltered, unrestricted metadata to Israel on EVERYONE, including Congress and the Supremes, Israel would be a natural choice for the Obama regime's secret data storage needs.

Actually, they wouldn't even need to bother with the FISA court or make any real changes at all - I bet they could just query Israel directly for any info they wanted through their highly unusual carte blanche agreement that Snowden helpfully revealed. After all, the stuff they give Israel doesn't filter out anyone.

Oh wait! You mean that's the reason for their handing all that data over to Israel already? You have to hand it to them, our Intelligence Community doesn't miss a trick. No wonder they hate Snowden so much that they publicly state that they want him dead. He busted them."

James F Traynor said...

On close questioning by a savvy interviewer Attorney General Gonzales (George W Bush administration) responded, "Yes we could do that, but we wouldn't."

The interviewer had asked if the president could, under the existing laws post 9/11, have an American citizen arrested, stripped of citizenship and tried for treason by military court. As far as I could tell there was no response from the MSM to this incredible statement. He was announcing the end to habeas corpus and no one seemed to give a shit.

I have been mightily pissed off since then and nothing said by that shit Obama has ameliorated that condition. On the contrary, it has aggravated it.

James F Traynor said...

Israel? Israel? Oh God! Bebe, Sharon, Begin? The Likud? Have we gone completely fucking insane!

annenigma said...

Marcy Wheeler at Emptywheel has a good point.

She says Obama sprinkled pixie dust on today's Presidential Policy Directive. She points out that this is at the end of his PPD:

"Nothing in this directive shall be construed to prevent me from exercising my constitutional authority, including as Commander in Chief, Chief Executive, and in the conduct of foreign affairs, as well as my statutory authority. Consistent with this principle, a recipient of this directive may at any time recommend to me, through the APNSA, a change to the policies and procedures contained in this directive."

His Constitutional authority! Funny he didn't quote the Fourth Amendment today. And to think that he treats the whole world the same way - like we're all a bunch of frickin' idiots.

Zee said...

Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation, Part I

Prompted by both Karen's and annenigma's observations, I went back and took another look at Ike's Farewell Address to the Nation. Old Ike looks both wise and prescient:

Of course the speech is most remembered for Ike's warning against the growth in influence of the military-industrial complex, now the “military-industrial-surveillance-security” complex:

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

I think that Ike would be pretty shocked at the thrall in which we are all held today by the MIS2 complex. And by the persistent stupidity of the citizenry that has allowed this to happen.

But there are other prophetic gems contained in the speech, too. I could quote from it at length, but rather than do that, let me just suggest a few topics that you should look for during your reading, should you choose to do so.

First, Ike's overarching theme in the speech is the need for balance amongst many sociopolitical factors as America pursues what Ike perceives to be its noble goals:

“to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among peoples and among nations.”

Look for the issues that Ike argues must be balanced against one another to ensure the nation's success in its future endeavors, for example, his concern that

“ ...the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

I find these remarks also to be incredibly prescient.

To be continued...

Zee said...

Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation, Part II

So I can't help but wonder if Ike was equally farsighted when he also penned these remarks:

“Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

I know, I know. Many economists seem to see our current national debt as only a long-term problem. But I can't help but wonder what Ike would say about our current, $16T+ national debt, much of it owed abroad?

Ike continues with a prayer for “Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence...” Having seen the true face of war—unlike any of our Presidents since Kennedy—he hoped, I think sincerely, for an end to it once and for all.

Finally, he closes with these words:

“Now, on Friday noon, I am to become a private citizen. I am proud to do so. I look forward to it.

Thank you, and good night.”

Do any of you out there believe that any of our recent Presidents—or other political leaders—have been particularly proud and eager to relinquish the reigns of power, and all the perks that go with it?

As I said, Ike looks pretty good these days.

(Well, I said I wouldn't quote the speech at length, but I was wrong. So much of it sounded so good. All bold-faced emphasis is mine.)

Zee said...

Oops! Wrong link for Ike's speech!

Sorry, I don't know how that happened.

annenigma said...

This is one of my favorite quotes from anyone.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

D12345 said...

For years, people have rhapsodized about Eisenhower's farewell address.
That was given as he left the world stage, without any power, no responsibility to implement anything.
Why wasn't that his first inaugural address???
I remember the Eisenhower who was afraid to confront McCarthy, who was pathetic during the Little Rock school riots, who let the Dulles brothers run wild, overthrowing democratic government in Guatemala among other escapades.
I think the current president is evidence that a speech without implementation is hollow.

D12345 said...

Footnote: It may be inaccurate to say that Eisenhower "let" the Dulles family run wild. Why assume that he was not an active advocate for the crimes of Imperial US?

James F Traynor said...

The big bitch I had with Smedley Butler was,
So now you tell us? The same with good old Ike. As he was getting off the boat he told us we were heading for an iceberg. After he steered us that way for a price - his career in the military and double dipping in politics. As Reagan advised another actor, (I think it was William Holden) politics is a great alternative for our profession. And, it appears, for generals.

Zee said...

It is, of course, just my humble opinion, but I think that Ike assumed power at a time when both the world and the United States were changing dramatically.

I think that it's just a teeny bit unfair to assume that even a man of Eisenhower's vast experience fully understood what he was getting into, what with a Federal government that was growing by leaps and bounds.

(I'll give that much even to Barack Obama, who--as has been pointed out repeatedly--never managed as much as a lemonade stand. He had NO idea!)

The difference, IMHO, is that Eisenhower had the experience to play the hand he was dealt reasonably well, unlike You-Know-Who.

I was ten years old when Eisenhower gave his Farewell Address, so I have no first-hand knowledge of his administration.

Still, the Wikipedia article paints his governance as pretty positive, with, of course, some pronounced failures such as authorizing the coup that restored the Shah of Iran to power.

So, again IMHO, I think that his Farewell Address to the Nation was more a warning based on eight years of harsh experience than a speech that he could have readily given as an Inaugural Address.

I can't speak to Smedley Butler, whose pamphlet, "War is a Racket," is still on my "to-be-read" bookshelf.

James F Traynor said...

Guatemala and Ike.

D12345 said...

Re Eisenhower.

Guatemala and Iran were only the most blatant of the undermining of all democratic movements throughout the world.
Dulles was a monster....
Nixon 2x v president
Total public silence on McCarthy
He opposed integration. He did send troops to Little Rock...all the black soldiers were left home!
If Obama had encouraged a revolt comparable to Hungary 1956 and then let them twist in the wind, there would be calls for impeachment.
Eisenhower never took the lead on any social or political justice issue. Truman integrating the Armed forces is an act of courage. No such moments from Eisenhower, (Feiffer's portrait of him in the Village Voice was one he said, "i condemn the extremists on both sides, those who bomb the schools and those who want to keep them open.")

He was always mute on major moral and social justice issues. It is very much in character that he never took a single strong step against the MIC...just spoke about it on the way out.

Finally, I would not take any conclusion in Wiki as a worthy source of authority in these pages!!!

annenigma said...

If Eisenhower had NOT spoken those words about the Military-Industrial Complex, we would not have a valuable term for describing and debating the ill effects of that force that we are facing today - and exactly what he was warning us about. That is worthy of appreciation and recognition.

"The world will little note nor long remember" a single word from the Obama's presidency, but it will remember his illegal and/or unconstitutional deeds. The Lesser of Two Evils is still evil.

James F Traynor said...

Obama has done less damage than I am sure Romney would have done. We can philosophize about the 'lesser of two evils' for years on end, but the fact is Obama very probably is the lesser of two evils when compared to Romney. It's a 'Pit and the Pendulum' problem and the choice is real, with real consequences.

As was Eisenhower. He was the best military administrator available for handling such disparate characters as Patton, Montgomery, DeGaulle , etc. Somehow he managed to herd those cats and manage to successfully conduct the war in western Europe. And annenigma is right, he also gave us a great talking point and acronym, MIC, but...and it's one hell of a big 'but'.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Curious how often Karen’s talk du jour so often pivots, at great length, from her topical essay to yet another episode in the saga of Thinking Conservatives going back to Eisenhower, to Edmund Burke, to Socrates.

Meanwhile, Obama is methodically normalizing an expansion of the National Security State. The Great American democracy, if not applauding too much, is for the most part accepting Obama’s profound changes to the Constitution. Or The People are dithering with the usual distractions. Or once again mounting a favorite hobby horse for a long, long, really long ride in some irrelevant race to nowhere. Like dusting off the old debate about whether Ike, a half century ago, was a whimp or a profound, pragmatic and prescient thinking conservative.

IT’S THE NSA!, Thinking Conservatives.

As for the mainline press, predictably they’ve done it again, most of them dishing out praise or pablum after Obama directs another torpedo at the Fourth Amendment.

Here’s a nice link to add to one’s to-do reading list and one of the relatively few journalistic pieces, like Karen’s, worthy of a serious look. Not even Greenwald, otherwise sidelined until Omidyar’s NewCo takes off, can contain himself. So here is Greenwald back in his old chair at the Guardian –– on topic.

James F Traynor said...

From: The Guardian - Greenwald, summing up Obama and the latest of his NSA bullshit. Thanks to Jay for reefing it.

"That, in general, has long been Obama's primary role in our political system and his premiere, defining value to the permanent power factions that run Washington. He prettifies the ugly; he drapes the banner of change over systematic status quo perpetuation; he makes Americans feel better about policies they find repellent without the need to change any of them in meaningful ways. He's not an agent of change but the soothing branding packaging for it.

As is always the case, those who want genuine changes , and certainly not to Barack Obama, to wait for it to be gifted. Obama was forced to give this speech by rising public pressure, increasingly scared US tech giants, and surprisingly strong resistance from the international community to the out-of-control American surveillance state."

Greenwald did not say where we should look for change if we " ...should not look to politicians...".
That is our dilemma. The 'lesser of two evils' choice can no longer be tolerated. I, personally, will no longer do so. But what?

James F Traynor said...

Sorry, the first sentence of the second quoted paragraph "...should not look to politicians..." got accidentally cut. It should read:

"As is always the case, those who want genuine changes should not look to politicians, and certainly not to Barack Obama, to wait for it to be gifted."

Mea culpa.

annenigma said...

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead

Zee said...


It's true that I often stray from the immediate topic, but when I do, I think that I'm often picking up on something that Karen mentioned in her main post that piqued my interest. It seems to me that if she bothers to mention something—in this case, Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation—it is likely she felt it to be relevant in some way to her pespective on the topic du jour —in this case, perhaps true irony—and therefore, fair game for some thought and discussion.

Still, it is Karen's blog. If she asks me to cut it out—either here or offline—I will do so.

I spend at least some of my spare time thinking and learning about our surveillance, and I'm terrified by what I see. But the fact is, I'm also pretty well resigned to the likelihood that we have passed the point of no return, just as we may have done on so many other issues that may well, collectively, consign this nation to the ash-heap of history.

Karen's essay seems pretty fatalistic to me, though perhaps I am wrong in reading it that way. Greenwald, in the article for which you provided the link, seems even more resigned to the fact that nothing Obama said—or anything that anyone is likely to do in the near future—will slow or reverse the surveillance state that we have allowed to be created.

“That, in general, has long been Obama's primary role in our political system and his premiere, defining value to the permanent power factions that run Washington. He prettifies the ugly; he drapes the banner of change over systematic status quo perpetuation; he makes Americans feel better about policies they find repellent without the need to change any of them in meaningful ways. He's not an agent of change but the soothing branding packaging for it.

As is always the case, those who want genuine changes should not look to politicians, and certainly not to Barack Obama, to wait for it to be gifted. Obama was forced to give this speech by rising public pressure, increasingly scared US tech giants, and surprisingly strong resistance from the international community to the out-of-control American surveillance state.”
--Glenn Greenwald (My bold emphasis.)

As I think I have said before, I don't see any real change occuring in this country until something drastic—perhaps beyond imagination—happens in this country to force it to change. Most American citizens are oblivious to the threat that the surveillance state poses to their freedom. Many even believe the surveillance state is essential to their future safety. No one seems motivated to do anything anything more than write letters and e-mails of protest to our worthless politicians, who respond with neutral pabulum, too afraid or too unconcerned themselves to actually do something. I'm certainly not motivated—yet--to take to the streets in protest.

Some citizens are even too afraid to talk amongst themselves about the creeping surveillance state: reports of writers and activists self-censoring their various communications have already been discussed in this forum. Perhaps they're not in the streets protesting for the same reasons that I'm not.
They've got a life to get through, somehow, and they're not yet ready to risk all.

Perhaps I'm just in a fatalistic mood at the moment, but I didn't see any way to further contribute to the main topic of Karen's essay. Instead, I fixated on the mention of the Eisenhower speech, and wondered how we got to the state that we're in, especially with Ike's clear warning at the end of his administration.

To be continued...

Zee said...

NSA fatalism, continued

But if you want me to contribute further dismal thoughts on what may well be the futility of it all, consider this article:

“Bill Binney is the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information. A 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, Binney was the senior technical director within the agency and managed thousands of NSA employees.”

According to Binney—who should know—the police state is here. And its tentacles now reach right down to our local law enforcement agencies:

“, Binney told Washington’s Blog that the U.S. has already become a police state.

By way of background, the government is spying on virtually everything we do.

All of the information gained by the NSA through spying is then shared with federal, state and local agencies, and they are using that information to prosecute petty crimes such as drugs and taxes. The agencies are instructed to intentionally 'launder' the information gained through spying, i.e. to pretend that they got the information in a more legitimate way … and to hide that from defense attorneys and judges.

This is a bigger deal than you may realize, as legal experts say that there are so many federal and state laws in the United States, that no one can keep track of them all … and everyone violates laws every day without even knowing it.

The NSA also ships Americans’ most confidential, sensitive information to foreign countries like Israel (and here), the UK and other countries … so they can “unmask” the information and give it back to the NSA … or use it for their own purposes.”

My perception is that we are doomed unless something much bigger than street protests take place. But that's just me, today.. Tomorrow might be different.

In a previous comment, James wondered aloud why Ike and Smedley Butler waited until they were at the end of their lives before they spilled the beans as to what was really going on. As I suggested, perhaps they didn't know what was going on until they looked back and wove all the threads together in hindsight.

One might also ask why Bill Binney waited 32 years before telling the nation his story about NSA. Perhaps, like many of us, he was too scared to do so, had too much to lose until he neared the end of his life, or, again only understood what he had done in hindsight, too.

Too little, too late, perhaps.

Pearl said...

Jay: Along with your truthful analysis of the status quo, you mentioned access to Greenwald's article in the Guardian which ended with the following

"The causes that drove Obama to give this speech need to be, and will be,
stoked and nurtured further until it becomes clear to official Washington
that, this time around, cosmetic gestures are plainly inadequate."

I am not going to hold my breath waiting for official Washington to wake up. Once more, the people, the voters have to wake up and organize to fight a 'lesser evil" of any kind masquerading as a way out. I think that it might have been better for Romney to win the election since there was real organized hate for him from the so called liberal thinkers and I believe his attempts to move the country further right would have dragged others along to denounce him.

How Obama is viewed when gone from office depends on how deep the U.S. Ship of State is sinking and how frightened the younger generations really are.
It is interesting that the attitudes of the younger Jews in America in
recent years have turned against the policies of Israel which is something I
never thought would happen. The various excellent Jewish Peace groups are boycotting and speaking out clearly about the transgressions past and current of that country which I also never expected to see.
And many articles about Sharon's recent death by leading Jews, have reminded us of his bloody history.

The main criticism of Obama will be I believe, that when the country was
faced with real danger from abroad and at home, he played his violin while the country was burning in the background (there was a recent excellent painting of this with an article in the paper recently). Although I and many of you will not be around to see the final outcome of the current dangerous political/social situation, I believe that there are certain realities that will no longer be able to be ignored, such as the accelerating deterioration of our environment, real financial bankruptcy of the capitalist system by the power brokers, serious health problems attacking the population without
adequate medical forces in place, and chaos and crises abroad affecting
everyone. I am sorry to be so stark but the negative effects of decades of neglect and greed by chosen leaders and Congressional representatives are already in place.

So I leave it to our progeny to organize the population for real change and all we can do is to continue to write our comments and warnings, and keep our fingers and eyes crossed. Meanwhile, try and enjoy what is still available, such as the beauty of nature, the love of friends and family and the feeling that we have done everything we could to speak truth to power and pray for more Snowdens to come forth.

I am grateful to be on this difficult journey of life with Karen and her
supporters and all the people who write of their hardships and caring in the newspaper column comments. The bravery and courage of so many unsung human beings inspires me to hang in there and I remember many truly terrible events of the past that were faced with strength and honesty and compassion by others. I think it will continue and only hope the planet holds up meanwhile.

Karen Garcia said...


As you are no doubt aware by now, I am not a stickler for keeping to the so-called topic in this comments section. I only draw the line at ad hominem attacks, spam, ads, and obvious plugs and other means of commercial self-promotion.

If people want to discuss Ike, that's fine with me. In my post on Emma and Bill, my mention in passing of therapy dogs inspired several great comments on animals. Go for it!

annenigma said...


Oh, boy, you've got me started when you mentioned prosecuting petty crimes. Do you realize they actually prosecute very few? Nowadays they usually just overcharge them with crimes, threatening them with decades in prison, and scare them into a plea agreement and mark it as a win in on the prosecution scoreboard - Or they make other 'arrangements' depending on their value and talents. First they have to scare them into submission though, and hopefully they won't push some young sensitive genius into committing suicide first (RIP Aaron Swartz).

The FBI and other agencies have long had a history of recruiting informants through that route. That's how the government gets some of the very best hackers to work for them.

Minorities are usually the victim of this system, but they'll pluck up anyone who has unique value to them. I wouldn't go so far as to say they set up people for arrest JUST for the talents they could exploit, but we know they look for and catch vulnerables in their phony terror plots.

I'm sure they've busted plenty of promising young students who they proceed to use as campus or community informants, I mean community organizers and activists. And young college instructors who are in a perfect position to monitor campus or community subversives or radical clerics. They need people like that to monitor 'situational awareness' of domestic unrest, or the less likely terrorist plot.

Currently there is a scandal going on at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. They have been using FBI tactics to recruit and run undercover informants, allegedly to investigate sexual assaults and other misconduct. It has been going on for years but only recently came to light when they left a young black cadet twisting in the wind.

I believe this is how the whole military-industrial surveillance complex operates - routinely using covert operatives in nearly all settings where they can insert themselves. And let's not forget their interference with elections for decades - abroad I mean.

Here's the expose about the recent informant scandal at the Air Force Academy. I doubt it's an anomaly.

annenigma said...

Correction - The article I referred to that exposes the spy program at the Air Force Academy should have been this more thorough and interesting one. It looks like an award winning piece of journalism to me.

James F Traynor said...

Jeez, Karen, I was hoping you'd bawl Zee out and make him go sit in a corner

Zee said...


Both articles were extremely interesting and well-documented thanks to the Denver Gazette's FOIA findings and information received from Eric Thomas's lawyer, who previously worked for the OSI himself, and may have even have had some inside knowledge of what OSI was up to.

Which makes the article's findings all the more terrifying. It seems that "they" really are everywhere now.

Whom to trust, and how far to go in protest?

Jay - Ottawa said...

Reading Garcia, Greenwald and Hedges, one is schooled in a deep sense of what is politically unjust topped with their special confection of mockery, anger or despair, depending on the teacher. They are impatient with lies. Although well read, they don’t intellectualize issues as a remedy against injustice. Justice impels them into open mockery of the hypocrites, anger towards the collaborators and despair over the millions who remain tepid or stuck in neutral and waiting for someone else to take a stand.

One special quality, common to all three, pulls us back to their essays time and again: an underlying sense of compassion for oppressed and broken people. Their compassion is not the compassion of holy cards or the politically correct. In an unsentimental and non-patronizing way they identify with the unfortunate, which explains why they revel in comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. (Could that be a reason why we “justified” readers feel uneasy after putting down their essays?)

Like you, I am too old to bolster in any forceful way whatever organized resistance there is. But I can at least cultivate my sense of compassion. This is only to say that I appreciate in your comments always that underlying sense of identification with the oppressed and broken people –– which is the definition of compassion.

Jay - Ottawa said...

I forgot to address @Pearl at the top of my previous comment. Of course, I realize all of you aren't people of a certain age.

If you keep it up we're both going to be sent to the corner.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Here's a petition asking Brazil to give Snowden asylum. So far, about 785,000 signatures. The goal: 1 million.