Postcards from Ecotopia

old new lefty

old new lefty
alienation, discontent
September 16
Making trouble whenever possible
virgin novelist, middle school teacher for the morally handicapped, government bureaucrat, most famous unknown photographer in LA, PhD dropout, coat hanger sorter, presidential campaign worker, sewer worker, and retired guy -- but not in that order.


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MARCH 22, 2012 6:28AM

A Virtual Dictatorship

Rate: 15 Flag

When you're looking at a website that has a picture of a demonic Barack Obama being guarded by giant soldiers in hell, you can figure that there might be a few people looking at you.  I had to wipe off 536 megabytes of cookies on my computer before I began to type this.  It's a new world record for me on virus collection.  My son in law Arne sent it to me, and he wanted a response.  This is its headline:


The authors of this website no doubt have concrete bunkers with over 50,000 rounds of ammo, and they're private citizens.  We have some of them in Oregon.  I won't bore you with what it said for the most part, as people who put this shit together are often about as reliable as the dudes who authored The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. However, if Arne's website is a forgery --  unfortunately there is an element of truth to it.

The last paragraph was very fearful, and it asked a number of questions about Iran, World War III, and the economy.  There isn't a lot of connection between the supposed Federal Regulations and these things.  However, assuming that an analog rule for the NDAA Act is being developed, there are sure to be rules detailing out potentially dictatorial powers for martial law when the president declares a national emergency.  The survivalist who wrote this asked whether Fed Regs like this would be developed if there was an impending natural disaster "that we didn't know of."  When the Arctic icecap is 100% ice free in some future September, and the Gulf Stream fails because of global warming --  once again the answer to rules like this is, "Yes."

My lefty baiting son in law probably expected my head to explode, insanely declaring that President Obama would never promulgate such a piece of garbage; but I disappointed him.  This is a precis of what I said:

Unfortunately, every POTUS since Ronald Reagan has done his part to destroy legal rights that were previously taken for granted.  In particular, we're talking about the Fourth through the Seventh Amendments of the Bill of Rights.

Why?  Mostly because there's so damn much money to be made from defense contracts.  Pre 9/11, our national intelligence budget was $11B or less.  The last time I checked, the national intelligence budget had ballooned to $85B, and it's estimated that roughly half of all intelligence functions conducted by the government have been privatized!

 President Obama penned a presidential signing statement when he made the NDAA Act into law, saying that he would never activate such powers during his term of office.  But of course, a President Cheney Jr. could have a free pass.

Sometimes, the aluminum foil hat and wingnut crowd is right, and this time they are.  We've seen some very disturbing behavior in Congress where our elected representatives are herded like cows into voting for NDAA, the PATRIOT Act --  I could go on.  And our nation's leaders are afraid of the rich, private, backlash with bad political consequences that will happen to them if they vote against crap like that.

Don't get me wrong. America is not like the Peoples Republic of China, where an incipient military coup to protect a Communist Central Committeeman who is an advocate for democracy is turned away. And then the news of this is quickly relegated to the memory hole, a la 1984.

Unfortunately, we are living in a virtual dictatorship, where every keystroke of this blog is being recorded in the national security archives as it's being typed.  The level of distrust between America's citizens and its government continues to grow.  And we are all just waiting for the day when a real dictatorship will be there, waiting for us.




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Mayday, Mayday, attn.: incoming, incoming - apisabot attack imminent; possible "professional liberal" has been sighted.

History is replete with examples of societies who refused to see what was happening right in front of their eyes. One such example was not so long ago, historically speaking, and still haunts us too often even today.
To borrow lazily from basaballa fantasy, Build the technology and they will use it. I take some solace in the possibility that guerrilla techno activists, a la Anonymous, can at least keep the monster at bay awhile longer.

@markinjapan, what's with this hard-on you have for Frank? Shouldn't he be entitled to speak his mind about the government he pays taxes to without constant mindless sniping from someone who perhaps fortunately escaped? Can't you enjoy your "freedom" joyfully without cursing at those still held captive and blaming them for not being so fortunate as you?
ONL, "where every keystroke of this blog is being recorded in the national security archives as it's being typed."--there's probably not a prison in this nation big enough to hold all of us bloggers! Also, I wonder what they think of the OS flame wars that happen here?
@Balt A-Hole, we raped and invaded an entire country for thought crimes as well as summary executing persons every day for thought crimes. But don't worry, it will never happen to you!
Just for a tad of perspective I'd invite right wing-nuts and liberal chicken little's alike to peruse the history of the USA from 1920 to 1932 under the administrations of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. Their assaults on civil rights, blatant corruption and isolationist paranoia have faded with memory, and the reaction to the election of FDR and the great depression make today's headlines seem piddling by comparison.
My tin-hat? Like Constantine of old, when the New Caesar takes over, his stormstroopers will be marching behind a flag emblazoned with a cross. Can I get an "amen", brother Lefty?!
The conservatives aren't wrong about everything.

As I once said in a very different context: You're only paranoid if they aren't actually after you.
jmac, as to me being a "chicken hearted liberal," I couldn't be anything further away from this description. For one thing, one of the few non-profits that I support on my limited income is the ACLU. I believe in defending American civil liberties more than anything. And when I see creeping repression like the PATRIOT or NDAA acts come to life, this doubles my resolve to get involved in the political fight.

Secondly, what I'm stating here are not some wild-eyed speculations. The things I've talked about are well documented, inconvenient facts. With global warming for example, the current oddities in climate behavior recently have been conforming quite nicely to the scientific models, and these models extrapolate into the ultimate conditions that I mentioned in this blog.

I had my wife read this, and she was critical -- mildly supportive of what you said. Her take is that the government can do whatever it wants to do at any time, and that if it feels the need to be authoritarian at a particular time, it will do so. "Your take on the 1920s for example is correct, but you didn't go far enough. How about going back to John Adams and the Alien and Sedition Acts, or even to Shays and/or Whiskey Rebellons? America has always been ready, willing, and able to repress its citizens at the drop of a hat.

Unfortunately, what we are currently faced with is a technological revolution that would make Adolf Hitler green with envy were he to have the technology currently available to the US government. I don't claim to have any silver bullet to stop this problem. I only know that smart and well educated individual commitment to political action is extremely necessary
US Gov't: The Biggest Terrorist on this planet.
so there.
Shoot me.
I agree with Ralph Nader and right wing conservative Bruce Fein who recently presented at the Harvard Law Society:

Much of the blame for this rests with Congress. Both Obama and Bush, in suspending much of the Bill of Rights, have violated their oath to uphold the Constitution. It's the duty of Congress, when this occurs, to impeach the POTUS. Nader says the Occupy movement should occupy their offices and refuse to leave until they initiative impeachment proceedings.
Years ago, when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Haiti, at Gov't check points they'd ask for my license and ID. I, of course, reluctant to trust my drivers' license which would be hell to replace to the Duvalierist local police, handed over my PC ID, which the Peace Corps could replace with one trip to Port-au-Prince. They dutifully wrote all my details down on a scrap of paper. They, like many people, had trouble with my very ethnic name which is not obviously feminine (Malusinka is an alias and not representative of my ethnicity). For the barely literate Haitian police, it wasn't just a problem of figuring out which is my first name and which my last, it was figuring out what string of letters on the ID comprised my name.

Needless to say, I had total confidence in my anonymity. I think you can, too. When you are looking at a haystack, finding the needle is hard. Doing anything about every straw in the haystack takes more manpower and money than any gov't is going to assign to the task.

To do it effectively, you have to outsource surveillance to the neighbors. Watch out when you are asked to spy on your neighbors. Breathe freely until then.

Note even the Stalinists and Maoist Cultural Revolutionaries didn't manage to do it without the help of neighbors. If you're worried, befriend your neighbors.
Malusinka, what might have worked in Haiti regarding government surveillance is not operable in the US. First, much of that $85B annual intelligence budget has gone for computer power. The US government has basically unlimited, infinite computer power. A good friend, who's a state director of the ACLU and very knowledgeable politically, has agreed with my assessment that every telephone call, ATM or credit card purchase, and internet message is being monitored by supercomputers.

Probably, there aren't enough people on earth to do this monitoring personally. Instead, the government relies on what might be called robots. Passive electronic computer monitors spy on the data stream of telephone and other electronic traffic.

Computer programs are primed to look for certain key words like "bomb" or "assassination," just to give you two examples, and when triggered these messages are sent to a different, more intensive set of computer protocols. If computer algorithms detect particular patterns of speech, transactions, or other current and historical behaviors resident in their database, the robots then forward a flash notice to a human monitor, who may then capture all traffic or electronic conversations of a suspect. Alternative protocols have also been established so that if a suspect gets onto an Al Queda website for example, a denial of service attack is immediately initiated.

The government has at its disposal not only all of its data, but it can easily access and correlate marketing and other personal data that has been accumulated in the private sector. Here, Microsoft, Apple, and Walmart are just some of the most notable private data collectors.

All of this makes it very easy to establish a full lifetime profile on anyone who commits a political crime for example. And of course, each individual classified to some degree or other as a person of interest has their own historical file for easy access.
"I only know that smart and well educated individual commitment to political action is extremely necessary."

That pretty much says it all. The technology is not going to be un-invented.

The ONLY thing we can do now to keep it from being used against us is to make sure our government is as transparent and accountable as we can possibly make it.

And we cannot do that until we overturn the Citizens United decision:
Right, but the more sophisticated checkers will have to wade through gazillions of e-mails of worried parents concerned because their kids use the "F-bomb" too often.

Even with computers doing heavy screening, the volume is going to be overwhelming. It's a statistical fact that when you have an incidence rate that is extremely small, even with 99% accuracy, the false positives will far outnumber the real positives. Let's say one person in a million is a terrorist and your computers are 99% accurate. That means you will generate 10,000 false positives for every correctly identified terrorist.
Yes Malusinka, and that's why the National Security Agency et. al. employ tens of thousands of people, some of whom are quoted in James Bamford's latest book as to the effect, "Why is the government wasting my time and their money to listen to this crap when they could be looking for terrorists?"

In a sense, rwnutjob said what you were trying to say…only he said it more directly:

Bottom line, the government IS our enemy.

Sorry you have fallen into that mindset, ONL. It doesn’t help.

In a real way, the government is our enemy, because WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT…and we are our own worst enemy.

It is not impossible that every democracy—every Republic—will eventually succumb to a dictatorship. Leaders tend to lead…and it is not beyond the realm of reason to suppose some leaders might corrupt the process and devise a way to create a dictatorship for themselves.

But there are many people currently lamenting that possibility who are doing more to enable it…than to truly combat it.

In any case, lamenting the possibility is nonsense. Coming up with a solution that is a realistic solution rather than a slogan is what is needed.

What do you have along those lines?
designanator, they send the best ones to Housewives of ______!!

"Why is the government wasting my time and their money to listen to this crap when they could be looking for terrorists?"

Because we can!!! WOOOOO!! :D

It's better to be paranoid and wrong then to feel safe and cozy and be wrong!! ~nodding~
The titles is OPEN Salon, paust. I am as entitled to dog fRANK as he is entitled to dawg my friend Jan incessantly. Jan doesn't deserve it, fRANK does. You don't like it, too bad.
Government is only the enemy when the government is run by your enemies. Liberals need to learn that.
Robert Y, I disagree with you on this one. A George McGovern or Dennis Kucinich who was POTUS, would still contend with a CIA or DOD filled with a collection of people of various ideological persuasions, and the complexities of the federal government are such that middle and even lower level government officials may not have the best interests of the POTUS at heart in their day to day administration of their balliwick.

Since the POTUS has only a limited amount of political capital to spend, it's mandatory that he leave significant areas of the bureaucracy to run on their own. Appointed political underlings have only so much power to affect the day to day operations of the sectors that they're assigned to manage.

The end result is that great evil (or good) can still lie resident in the government, and while it may remain dormant for extended periods of time, it's only waiting to be activated by the right set of circumstances. For only one example, look at the Mining & Mineral Service and its role in the BP disaster. There are a million more public policy stories similar to this.
I suspect we're talking at cross purposes. My meaning is: under Clinton, for example, Government was effective in serving the 99%, while under Dubya Government was purposely moved to fail all but the 1%.

What Obama ignored, and why 2010 put an end to him, is that politics is war. You have enemies, and you have allies. The Right Wingnuts understand this, and always make policy to aid their allies. Obama's kumbaya mantra just emboldened the Right Wingnuts.

As to sleepers in the lower GS ranks: yes, I was there for a decade; but, the decision makers are the Super Grades, and they stay from inauguration to inauguration, the ones making the decisions now are likely (nearly guaranteed) to be Dubya's. OTOH, in large measure, Nixon's failure didn't cascade simply because there was a functioning, largely apolitical, bureaucracy.

While I agree that Obama has veered further Right on any topic including the words National Security, the truth is that a 1789 Constitution, even as amended (but not at all with regard to this technological change), is utterly inadequate. The Montana Militia folks, naturally, seek to run the country as if the calendar still reads 1810. Oddly, that's what Obama is doing; it's just that he's not a Right Wingnut, so the MM folks get irritated. If it were Dubya, they'd be pleased as punch.

That Obama didn't clean house...
Can't argue with you on that one. And I think we both agree that Mr. Obama is a 'get along, go along' president. And to this day, I'm not sure why he picked Eric Holder to be Attorney General.