Thursday, January 29, 2015

Them Drones Gonna Rise Again

Six years in office, countless hundreds of drone strikes, and thousands of casualties later, President Obama has finally called for stricter regulations on the flying robot industry.

It seems that a drone operated by an intoxicated geopolitical intelligence expert accidentally wandered into the Temp Emp's personal space and had a great fall. All the Secret Service tech geeks and all the Secret Service men had no way of either detecting it or stopping it. And obviously they couldn't put it together again, because it was a crappy piece of junk purchased in a Radio Shack.

But be afraid. Be very afraid. Barack surely is, though he hides it very well. Two years after telling the nation that he planned to rein in the drones, he finally means business. Well, sort of:
"You know that there are companies like Amazon that are talking about using small drones to deliver packages... There are incredibly useful functions that these drones can play in terms of farmers who are managing crops and conservationists who want to take stock of wildlife." Obama said. "But we don't really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it....These technologies that we're developing have the capacity to empower individuals in ways that we couldn't even imagine 10-15 years ago," Obama said, pledging to work to create a framework that "ensures that we get the good and minimize the bad."
It's the balanced approach for which Obama is so famous. Ban oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, but approve it in the Atlantic. Ban drone use by drunks and idiots, but allow it for oligarchs and corporations and presidents and CIA dudes drunk on power. Differentiate between frivolous drone use and serious drone use. Suggest even the merest possibility of regulations, then sit back and smirkingly wait for the political donations and lobbying junkets to start flowing and flying in. If a drone bearing bribery cash crashes in the thicket of Congress, it's not that people might not hear it. It's that nobody actually gives a shit. Corruption is now perfectly legal.

Americans also don't care much about drone crashes that occur in other people's yards in other people's countries, or even about the maimed and dead human beings (militants) or victims (extremists) having the poor taste to live in a "tribal area" or who've made the poor choice of being born to the wrong parents.

Meanwhile, everybody in Amerika is either guffawing or freaking out about the Great White House Drone Incident. Gail Collins wrote her usual lighthearted column on the subject of drones in general, envisioning such hilarity as drone-borne pizza deliveries creating pie in the sky over Brooklyn. But seriously, folks:
The public conversation instantly turned to terrorism and whether a maniac could use a recreational drone to drop a bomb, or start a chemical attack. This is a terrible worry. But at least we have multitudes of dedicated, vigilant public servants, virtually all of them totally sober, working night and day to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen.
However, we’re not giving enough attention to the threat of normal American idiots. The kind of people who think it’s fun to sit in the backyard and point laser lights at the cockpits of incoming planes, or participate in a YouTube challenge that involves trying to snort a condom up one’s nose. The folks for whose benefit countless utility companies have written tips that include “don’t look for a gas leak with a candle or lighted match.”
OK, so now I get it. The problem is not with drones per se, but with the idiots who operate drones. We've come back full circle to the all-American dogma of Personal Responsibility. Here's my comment to Collins:
Could a maniac use a recreational drone to drop a bomb, or start a chemical attack?
NIMBY! Those drones are called Predators and Reapers, and they're way out of the price range of the average intelligence agency drunk. And forget those tribal people out in the middle of nowhere. They're pretty much permanently hunkered down, because the constant sound of drones over their heads makes the kids too afraid to leave the house and go to school, let alone go wild in a drone toy store.
To soberly operate a weaponized drone joystick, you always, always wait for the official Kill List. If the horror of what you actually do ever hits home and the PTSD hits, then you can hit the bottle -- because it's still a long wait to see a VA shrink.
See, there are times when mistakes are made and collateral damage happens, when even whole wedding parties get droned instead of "militants" (defined by responsible leaders as any male in the age range of pre-puberty through senility). There was that one stray Hellfire missile that only last week rendered an 11-year-old boy into "bugsplat" (how droners describe a direct hit on a dehumanized person). Of course, he'd exhibited bad judgment by living too near his dad in the Disposition Matrix.
And since the Senate passed a bill last year absolving the president from having to divulge names of drone victims, we can all rest easy and pretend that the only drones that matter are the irresponsible ones landing in the White House veggie garden.
Maybe the drunk drone operator mistook his drone for a salad shredder. But true American patriot that he is, he "self-reported" his little mishap (not to be confused with self-deported, needless to say, since there apparently will be no banishment to Kochistan or elsewhere in the prison-surveillance complex.)

The New York Times described the incident as a "drunken lark." That is just so Gray Lady-stuffy; I personally prefer "tipsy ode to a nightingale," given that it occurred around 3 in the a.m.

Hear the word of the lord. No drones for wacky immature revelers:

They need to grow up to become responsible drone operators, who love and respect their drones as much as the technocrats who govern them. Let the wholesome, benumbed, all-American, well-balanced bluebirds of happiness drone on... and on... and on.


annenigma said...

Oh, like the Secret Service couldn't hear that loud annoying whining of the drone? There couldn't have been noisy traffic nearby since they've blocked off the streets around the White House. They sound like a giant mosquito buzzing in your ear. They're hard to ignore, but I guess the SS could if they were distracted by the electrons in their ears.

If the only reason this was even discovered is because the drone crashed and the guy called to ask if they found it, isn't it reasonable to assume that more competent and sober people could have flown drones in during all these years they've been around? I can't believe that no one else has already done it. Now we all know just how incredibly easy it is!

The professional versions of drones come in all sizes, even as small as a butterflies or less (I haven't kept up). The Defense industry developed the technology, so they are fully aware of the potential risks, but now they're playing dumb with us about the impacts at home?

This recent incident is just hard to swallow. Our government, obsessed with 'national security' and 'terrorism' (corporate welfare for the MIC) seems to be oblivious to risks. Could they have believed that no one would try it because drones are illegal in DC? So are guns! Obviously, making something illegal doesn't mean squat, even, or I should say especially, to government employees. Good thing the guy was a White employee or he'd be locked up and tortured, I mean interrogated, by now.

No matter the laws, rules, and regulations they come up with for drones, how do they think they're going to police them? With an army of drone sky marshals? They're too small to read any identifying marks from the ground. Even if they required scannable bar codes, who's going to scan them and have access to the database? Police can't be everywhere. That's what makes drones so useful and valuable. They can go where people can't!

This is a huge problem that flies in the face of Capitalism, pitting it against National Security, private security, privacy, the Second Amendment (drone skeet shoot). It will be very interesting to see how this develops. Will the right to bear laser weapons come into play? Stay tuned.

Denis Neville said...

Drones? Meh.

Lame Duck doesn’t give a fuck.

Lame Duck has the luxury to just not give a fuck.

Kittens and bombs... “The subtle art of not giving a fuck, “

“… the ability to reserve our fucks for only the most fuckworthy of situations would surely make life a hell of a lot easier. Failure would be less terrifying. Rejection less painful. Unpleasant necessities more pleasant and the unsavory shit sandwiches a little bit more savory. I mean, if we could only give a few less fucks, or a few more consciously-directed fucks, then life would feel pretty fucking easy.” – Mark Mason

Karen Garcia said...

Denis, thanks for sending the Mark Manson piece. Made my whole evening, LMFAO.

Kat said...

Here's where I play the part of the humorless woman. I did not appreciate Mark Manson. Perhaps the old lady who gives a fuck about her coupons wants to save money. Perhaps the root of her misery has nothing to do with the fact that she is not sexually attractive to people such as Mark Manson.
Sorry, I just found it sexist.

annenigma said...

Sorry, but I give Mark Manson a big fat F, and a U, C, and K to top it off. What a shit piece! To take up that much print space to couch his big brag about his giving everything away to move to South America, as if we gave a fuck what he did. Big fucking deal.

I actually didn't read much of it. He droned on too long and it was an obvious fucking waste of my time. It sounded to me like he was justifying selfishness - typical fucking garbage.

He should lay off overusing that juicy word. He could ruin a good thing!

Karen Garcia said...

After reading the horrific Jonathan Chait piece on P.C. liberalism and some of the equally horrific pieces taking him way too seriously, the Manson satire was quite refreshing. I didn't take it too seriously, and I found it to be a lot less sexist than some of the concern-trolling crap out there these days. (Nick Kristof comes to mind. I find him and David Brooks to be a lot more offensive than Manson.)