Summary: These are special days! The New America approaches as the Second Republic (under the Constitution) dies. Our children are the victims. Powerful elites are the agents. We are the cause. Recent events show this to any who choose to see.
- The revelations
- We squawk loudly, but to what effect?
- Reform, starting when?
- Who can we count on?
- Always in motion is the future
- More Information about the surveillance state
- Other posts, what you need know to see our future
(1) The revelations
This week we learned more about the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance. Do not see this as an event, but as a step in a process. Slowly we are broken to accept a harness designed by our ruling elites, administered by their agents — the government. Slowly since WWII, more quickly since 9-11, the government has extended its supervision over us. Not to control our daily acts — as in 1984 — but to limit our activities. Limit our ability to manage our own affairs.
The changes come slowly. Not like a frog being boiled, because frogs are smart and jump out of the pot. More like bondage porn, where a sub slowly surrenders to the domination by the will of another. Surrendering responsibility, the burden of self-government.
We cannot admit the harsh truth, and so take comfort in lies.
We yield to the government to save us from the shadowy threat of jihadists – who one day over a decade ago killed a fraction of those who die each year in traffic accidents, or suicide by guns, or from other causes we cannot bother to address because we spend so much on security (internal and external, formerly known as police and defense). We yield to fear of an organization which probably no longer exists in significant form (bequeathing their name to nationalistic movements who fight us because we go to their lands and fight them).
We yield to the government because they — and our ruling elites — are too strong. We let the democratic machinery of the Republic lie unused because we know that resistance is futile.
In fact we yield because it is easier for us. More comfortable.
(2) We squawk loudly, but to what effect?
Yes, we boldly write and speak. As we did when we learned of the previous set of outrages. The the ones before that. As we will for the next one. And the next one.
We take comfort from the DC courtiers who tell us that the government is good and wise. That Congress has our back, and the Court approves every surveillance request because that’s the right thing to do. And they’ll talk about safety. Slick, soothing, well-paid voices. The result: polls show little concern for our eroding rights.
Ask yourself when will you will feel that this trend has gone on so far that you will work to change it? What is the red line for you, beyond which you will spend money, time, and personal credibility to join a movement to change it?
Write it down. Let’s talk again when we reach that point. For whatever your red line, I believe that we will cross it. The momentum has grown too great. We have proven ourselves too spineless. The growth of the government’s power will accelerate from here.
The next phase will begin when a leader comes along to take our reins. Then history will take a new turn. The forms of the Constitution will remain for several generations, as it did for the Roman Republic. He will be called a President, and have a Congress. Life will go on for the United States, but we will have become a different people.
(3) Reform, starting when?
I fear the boomers have made their mark on America. Our parents were the greatest generation, and we are the worst. A future generation must build the Third Republic.
(4) Who can we count on?
Not attorneys; most work for the large corporations and the government.
Not Judges, who will reliably (not always) support the corporations and government.
Not law enforcement agencies (now best called security police), oppressive agents of the government (as they have been during most of American history).
Not the mainstream news media, who will occasionally meow — but when it counts support the government (e.g., echoing government propaganda about our wars, slander of dissidents like Manning and Assange).
We will have to find each other, and build from there. People seeking reform will be strangers in an increasingly strange land (an inversion of Exodus 2:22).
(5) Always in motion is the future
These are all guesses, about large scale political movements beyond our ability to see — let alone predict. Yet I’ve made quite a few big forecasts, with a good record. So far my predictions about the decay of the Republic have been accurate but too optimistic.
God help us if that’s true with this one.
(6) More Information about the surveillance state (will be updated)
- An archive of articles about the government’s increasing surveillance of Americans, at ProPublica
- A summary of the many different means by which the government spies upon us at Washington’s Blog, 6 June 2013
- “Fair Warning: Julian Assange’s Cypherpunks“, Adam Morris, Los Angeles Review of Books, 28 April 2013 — Assange warned us
- Attention fellow sheep: let’s open our eyes and see the walls of our pen, 2009 — Five years ago these programs, and their growth, were easily visible. We just didn’t want to see.
(b) The revelations:
- “The National Security Agency: surveillance giant with eyes on America“, Glenn Greenwald, Guardian, 6 June 2013 — “The NSA is the best hidden of all the US intelligence services – and its secrecy has deepened as its reach has expanded”
- “NSA taps in to internet giants’ systems to mine user data, secret files reveal“, Glenn Greenwald, Guardian, 7 June 2013 — “Secret PRISM program gives intelligence agency access to web and email of Google, Facebook and Apple customers”
- “U.S. mining data from 9 leading Internet firms; companies deny knowledge“, Washington Post, 6 June 2013
- “Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data“, Glenn Greenwald, Guardian, 9 June 2013 — “Revealed: The NSA’s powerful tool for cataloguing data – including figures on US collection”
- “Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations“, Glenn Greenwald, Guardian, 9 June 2013 — “The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows”
- Important: The NSA Files at The Guardian — archive of the leaked documents and news articles
- Priorities of Justice in New America: “Judge behind phone records threw out Obamacare“, AP, 6 June 2013
- “Could There (Finally) Be a Backlash Against Domestic Surveillance?“, John Sides (Prof, Political Science, George Washington U), The Monkey Cage, 6 June 2013 — The answer is no.
- “The Perils of (Vague Delegations of) Power“, Andrew Rudalevige (Professor of government, Bowdoin), The Monkey Cage, 6 June 2013 — Why could the government collect data on pretty much every phone call you make? The answer gives a lesson in legislative drafting
- Section 215: The White House’s Bullshit Talking Points, Marcey Wheeler, 6 June 2013
- “What’s the Matter with Metadata?“, Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 6 June 2013
- “Public Documents Contradict Claim Email Spying Foiled Terror Plot“, BuzzFeed, 7 June 2013 — “Defenders of “PRISM” say it stopped subway bombings. But British and American court documents suggest old-fashioned police work nabbed Zazi.”
- “The tangled web of empire“, Stephen M. Walt (Prof of International Affairs, Harvard), Foreign Policy, 7 June 2013 — The government’s growing power is an inevitable result of the Long War.
- “Security-State Creep: The Real NSA Scandal Is What’s Legal“, Rebecca J. Rosen, The Atlantic, 7 June 2013 — “The Court has failed to develop a robust system for applying the Fourth Amendment meaningfully to the questions of the 21st century”
(d) Consequences: the US government has just trashed the overseas reputation of our tech & telecom industries
- “How PRISM could ruin Apple, Google, and every other big tech company“, Farhad Manjoo, Slate, 7 June 2013
- “NSA Surveillance Threatens US Competitiveness“, Richard Stiennon, Forbes, 7 June 2013
(7) Other Posts, what you need know to see our future
(a) About these revelations:
- The NSA news might be a birthday for the New America!, 7 June 2013
- The Empire Strikes Back: The Demonization of Snowden Begins, 15 June 2013
- America’s courtiers rush to defend the government – from us, 22 June 2013
- Thoreau reminds us about one of the few tools we have to control the government, 24 June 2013 — About civil disobedience
- Will a wave of leakers undercut America’s national security?, 8 July 2013
- The government strikes again, but finds yet another American willing to fight. Applause is not enough!, 9 August 2013
- “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”, 21 August 2013
- Scoring the game so far: NSA is winning, we’re losing, 23 August 2013
(b) About America, pretty much all you need to know to see our future:
- Loki helps us to see our true selves
- The several versions of the American Republic: our past, present, & future
- There is no problem with America’s political system, or the Republic
- A nation lit only by propaganda