Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The disconnect on the surveillance state

This explanation, from Fred DeBoer, of why so many pundits are cravenly defending the overreach of our ever-growing surveillance state, seems right on the money. It's not just careerism, it's identification with the overclass:

Marshall sees nothing to fear from authority and the state, because he is one of the Chosen People of authority and the state. Meanwhile, those who are not among the elect fear and distrust authority, because it daily oppresses them. This fear and distrust is as rational as a thing can be, but Marshall cannot bring himself to believe in it. Marshall has that in common with Jeffrey Toobin, Richard Cohen, and David Brooks: no reason to fear the police state. Why should they? They are, all of them, American aristocrats: white, male, rich, and properly deferential to anyone with a title or a badge or authority or an office. Of course they don't know why anyone would worry about limitless surveillance. They themselves have nothing to fear because they are the overclass. They can't imagine what it might be like to be Muslim or black or poor or to have any other characteristic that removes them from the ranks of the assumed blameless. But the story of America is the story of people with reason to fear power. It's the story of how very dangerous it can be to find oneself outside of the overclass, how relentlessly the state and the moneyed work to crush difference. Marshall's notion that men like Manning and Snowden should simply have backed off and played by the rules is one of the most consistent and dishonest messages in American political history. It was the message delivered to the AIDS activists who are profiled in How to Stop a Plague. It was the message delivered to Martin Luther King and the rest of the Civil Rights movement. It was the message delivered to the suffragettes. It was the message delivered to the abolitionists. It was the message delivered to the American revolutionaries. In each case, self-serious men told those who perceived themselves to be oppressed and suffering to get on board and play by the rules, in deference to the community.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A very important question

Chris Hedges has called attention to a looming crisis for what's left of our democracy. Namely, is the corporate-owned mainstream press willing to challenge the official narrative and provide citizens with the truth anymore?

The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel giddily printed redacted copies of some of the WikiLeaks files and then promptly threw Assange and Manning to the sharks. It was not only morally repugnant, but also stunningly shortsighted. Do these news organizations believe that if the state shuts down organizations such as WikiLeaks and imprisons Manning and Assange, traditional news outlets will be left alone? Can’t they connect the dots between the prosecutions of government whistle-blowers under the Espionage Act, warrantless wiretapping, monitoring of communications and the persecution of Manning and Assange? Don’t they worry that when the state finishes with Manning, Assange and WikiLeaks, these atrophied news outlets will be next? Haven’t they realized that this is a war by a global corporate elite not against an organization or an individual but against the freedom of the press and democracy?
I believe many journalists still want to perform the vital function of a free and independent press, yet they are (rightly) very afraid of the corporate/state power to crush them if they reveal embarrasing truths. Many people I know say they now rely more on Colbert and Stewart for information than the traditional "hard news" outlets. This is a sad reflection on how far we have drifted away from democracy. In traditional monarchical societies "court jesters" were often used by the regime as a sort of safety valve. The jesters were allowed a surprising amount of freedom to indirectly criticize the regime through satirical humor. The most they could hope for, as a real result of their clever and subtle critiques, was to accomplish what Hamlet desired: to "catch the conscience of the king." (Hamlet II,2)