Snowden versus Obama
Many of us are almost stridently ignorant about evolution and how it affects us in everyday practical terms. Religious folks who reject science in lieu of the supernatural explanations are at a serious disadvantage in regards to their long-term life management, what we eat, what traits we share, how much we should exercise—evolution dictates what is good for human beings, and not just physically but also morally: we’re the social species par-excellence: we don’t have a private side, and contrarily, wear a mask because of some modern dilemma. We as social animals evolved the private world and the public one, side by side over the tens of thousands of millenniums on the dry hot grasslands as we slowly changed from Homo erectus into Homo sapiens in the torturous unhurried march into self-awareness (which happened 30 to 40,000 years ago). We likely eliminated the chimpanzee from our DNA with violence, but not completely. Indeed, we are the great deceivers.
Contrarily, we do better in an open society on so many levels than closed systems. Not because we have developed a market economy. We have a market economy because of the freedom implicit inside constitutional democracy. Despite what the political class say, the one is not possible without the other; that is to say one re-enforces the other: they come as a package. If your idea is yours to create, then you own it, and in consequence, it’s your property. The land beneath your feet is a bear’s toilet without the human endeavour. Without your mind—your thoughts—your very own private world, you are that animal, prettier maybe, but with no air-conditioned skyscrapers, certainly no inner language, no private mental world, and no inner borders governments cannot infiltrate: privacy and being human are locked in a binary orbit.
Democracies in times of war have behaved in the past autocratically. Currently we are in a indefinite long-running war on terrorism. As surely as Marxism is a religion masquerading as political dogma, Islam is an political ideology masking itself as a religion. The fight against these contemporary undemocratic forces may be a fight for justice on the part of the West, but to be won, it must be fought on the conceptual level, not the military one. Spying is way overrated. At any rate, the number one human attribute that government intelligent agencies all over the world have no respect for is privacy.
So, the West has on its hands an indeterminate lifelong war like the Cold War before it. I think every reasonable person here understands this. So we must decide if Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers should be celebrated or prosecuted. Can we win this war without the state accessing the entire digital asset of its citizens? That is, is modern totalitarianism avoidable?
So Going Forward, Secrecy or Openness?
You may be surprised—or not—to learn that evolution made human nature a certain thing and it isn’t as malleable as many thinkers and tinkerers in the past have speculated, and for sure not as pliable as the modern food industry, pharmaceuticals, licensed medical practitioners and political elites wants you to believe. Doing right isn’t always a ‘Moral Imperative’. Sometimes it’s simply logic backed by the available science. We Homo sapiens evolved in small groups of 30 to 40 Hunter/Gatherers. Over much time, we learned to harvest seeds, domesticate animals and produce surpluses. We grew from groups to villages, towns to cities, and eventually gave birth to civilizations. These are very recent events in our evolution as a species, 10,000 years ago or less—a flash in evolutionary time. Furthermore, none of it was necessarily a good thing for us physically or mentally, but it gave way to constitutional democracy, the industrial revolution and the birth of science. Our actual progression took many millions of years depending on your starting point, and in this huge time period we settled, if you will, into the need of certain psychological necessities to become a genuine person such as the development of personal language (i.e. our inner world), privacy, and other facets of human nature. (The earth itself is 4.5 billion years old, the known universe, 13.5 to 14 billion years old).
Without our private selves, and our almost solipsist subjective mind, there is no human being, just a bear in the woods looking up at the honey bees in the trees instead of the stars in the night sky. What makes us is idea. Freedom and liberty are tantamount to that private self being left unmolested by society and government. If it is not, it dies! Liberty and self-sovereignty are also fastened in a binary correlation.
Again, the reason open societies have a better human rights records when compared to its competitors is the ‘open’ part. Autocracies thrive in secrecy and often kill and silence their whistleblowers (i.e., their dissenters), to create the illusion to their subjects that they are doing better than they actually are. It is true that the West killed Socrates, raised Carthage, loosed Christianity and colonialism on the world, for a time embraced racism and slavery, brought down the holocaust of WWI (for reasons no rational person can comprehend—war as habit perhaps), bombed Dresden and nuked Japan in WWII, yet for every perceived offence here, there is a much greater crime in the closed societies whether communistic, Fascist or theocratic.
If the question is, ‘One second of lost vigilance in the War on Terrorism might let some idiot wind with a small nuclear device into the heart of a major metropolis of the West’, then we do want to cut the state some slack in regards to our collective safety.
BUT . . .
There is some truth—you will all agree—to the way small ‘l’ liberalism is demonized on the Right. The Left propose all these social gadgets for our welfare but will not insist that we pay for them in direct taxes. Like a reckless drunk, they put it on the tab—cowards that they are. Nevertheless, one can also say likewise about the Right that they want all the security agencies to monitor all the citizens all the time but will never be honest about the cost or the totalitarianism of it all. Come on, 47 million Americans have a criminal record! Something is very wrong when the prison system is the numer one growth industry, just as it was in the Soviet Union from the 1920s to the beginning of the World War II. When they cry self-righteously against the Edward Snowdens of the world, the hypocrisy of their stance is laughable. They’re like the coward in the foxhole who shoots himself in the foot to be sent home, and once home, tells a heroic tale of their wound. Were that Paton was back here to slap them around the head with his fancy gloves and publicly shame them. ‘We the people should obey the laws’, they cry, but they themselves and their spy agencies are exempt. They are the law, they claim (but of course only in private).
I say back to them, let me review their personal files and I’ll write you a sordid little tale of those security talking-heads’ embarrassing day-to-day lives: the Bush’s, Hayden’s, Kerry’s, Obama’s, Clinton’s, King’s and Cheney’s of the political class. Let’s see how they would like their privacy assaulted like they are invading yours and mine: their pettiness, banality, insecurity, shame, etcetera that we all must hide from the public to be able to be magnanimous, inspired, have confidence, pride, and so forth when we go out into the world. Our private self is the basis of human nature just as surely as liberty is the foundation of any worthwhile social reality.
The bad thing about openness is that our enemies can see our vulnerabilities and steal our technologies. Citizens in the closed societies have no constitutionally-protected freedom to be creative so they must steal what they produce. For the West, it is always a question: ‘How much should we become like our enemies to defeat them?’ The good thing about openness, at least politically, is just one thing really: we get to fire the boss without open civil violence.
So, what to do with the whistleblowers like the idealistic, honest, stubborn and unapologetic Edward Snowden? Well, do we ever want to fire the boss if we can’t have any truth about his administration? Should Obama be able to assassinate civilian Afghans with a drone without a warrant and deny he’s even doing it until a whistleblower proves otherwise? They will surely try to silence that kind of dissent, won’t they? However, isn’t the whistleblower necessary for democracy? Correct me if I am wrong. Should Cheney/Bush Jr., be allowed to monitor absolutely everyone in the world who is plugged-in to the internet without even a public debate? Should they be allow to fabricate evidence to invade a country? Should have Johnston and Nixon been allowed to expand the Vietnam War with outright lies and state engineered deception to the likes of Hitler’s false flag in the invasion of Poland? I mean Ellsberg wasn’t wrong about those bosses now, was he?
Barrack Obama in his bid for the presidency was fiery about protecting whistleblowers and downright mean-spirited against them once in office. (Although on the way out he did pardon Chelsea Manning). But the most “transparent” White House in history turned instead into the most paranoid, bringing nine charges against whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, a historical record, and over classifying so much inane state information, threatening to prosecute journalists and 9/11ing and war-on-terrorizing everything to do with his government’s clandestine organizations.
“Keep in mind that it was Obama’s continuation of the Bush-Cheney surveillance that convinced Snowden to blow the whistle in the first place. Snowden did not vote for Obama in 2008; he was a fan of Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman whose son, Senator Rand Paul, pursued the Republican 2016 presidential nomination. But Snowden took note of candidate Obama's pledges to reform surveillance policy and decided to see if a President Obama would do as promised. When Snowden saw no real improvement, when he instead saw Obama's Justice Department raid and arrest the NSA 4+1 and persecute Drake in particular, he concluded that he had been wrong to give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt. Now, it was time to act.” Quoted from Bravehearts, see below.
They say from the Left that Obama was a reformer and visionary. What does that mean? The Political Class handled him just fine. He was in fact, just glamorous and had nowhere near the courage of an Edward Snowden who Obama didn’t pardon on his way out. Snowden is the real dissenter to the totalitarian fact-gathering NSA, the precursor to the on-coming American police state. He is the one who actually had audacity and made the world a safer place from the Peter T Kings and John Kerrys of the American Military Industrial Complex, the autocratic didactics hiding inside a democracy, using the language of liberty, but in secret and behind closed doors, working their Machiavellian charms to end it.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, King said that the interview was an "infomercial" for Snowden. The New York Republican added that Snowden was a "fraud" and said that the anchor's questions were negligent: "Brian Williams did not ask Edward Snowden one question," he said, "give the name of one American whose rights have been violated, give one instance where the NSA has violated the statute, has violated the court." King is so mad, he added, that he agrees with Secretary of State John Kerry on the Snowden issue. That, it seems, also makes King angry. "“I agree with John Kerry, for once I agree with John Kerry, that Edward Snowden is a traitor. He’s put American lives at risk."
Kerry, of course, was uncharacteristically angry on the morning shows on Wednesday, based on a snippet of last night's interview teased by the network. The secretary of state was angered by Snowden's assertion that he is a "patriot." Kerry said that Snowden "should man up and come back to the United States" to face charges for giving information on the NSA's covert spying programs to the press.
Meanwhile, those remarks triggered a meta reaction from Fox News host Jesse Waters, who said the following: "kind of an aristocratic guy telling him ‘man up,’ calling him ‘dumb,’ it doesn’t make a lot of sense. And if anybody’s going to call someone a traitor, I don’t know if John Kerry needs to look in the mirror." The remark prompted a physically and verbally negative on-air reaction from Fox News analyst Bob Beckell.
Although these discussions about the character of Snowden, or the character of Snowden's haters, might seem beside the point, this is exactly the sort of discussion NBC's own promotion of the interview encouraged. The network tagged the interview with the phrase "Patriot or Traitor?" and asked viewers to tweet which one they thought Snowden was while the interview aired. On Thursday, the network was able to conclude that "Americans [are] divided on whether the fugitive leaker is a patriot or a traitor — but leaning toward the prior." So that settles that.
Secretary of State John Kerry repeated his line on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden Tuesday with the most moronic aplomb to date. Snowden had commented in an NBC interview that he had not intended to take refuge in Russia, but was stuck there en route to Latin America when the US government suspended his passport.
Kerry responded that the whistleblower should "man up," adding: "The fact is if he cares so much about America and he believes in America, he should trust in the American system of justice."
That our most senior diplomat still finds it acceptable to utter "man up" as a call to bravery is a misogyny-soaked problem enough to deserve its own column.
It carries a particularly grim resonance in the wake of Chelsea Manning's military trial and conviction. That whistleblower had to "man up" in the most literal of ways: She stood trial as Bradley Manning, her legal team determining it would do the case no favors to reveal her preferred name and gender identity during the court martial.
No one, fugitive whistleblower or otherwise, should heed Kerry's call to 'trust in the American justice system.'
And, indeed, military psychologists testifying at the trial pathologized Manning's gender identity as a "disorder," a designation that even the DSM-5 has scrapped. Chelsea Manning remains in a male prison. The point being, US justice has a cruel way of insisting that its victims "man up." Kerry's use of the phrase is unwitting reminder of this.
Giving Chelsea Manning hormone therapy doesn't undo her persecution. Now to the meat of Kerry's argument: That if Snowden cared about America, he would return to it with faith that the US justice system is to be trusted. It would take tomes to list even a portion of the problems plaguing US justice. To name a few: America incarcerates more of its population and more people per se than any other nation of earth and 95 percent of criminal cases don't even go to trial, but end in pleas because of the vast power held by prosecutors and vile minimum sentencing laws. Around 40 percent of our prison population is black (compared to 13 percent of the total population). The litany of harm is long and dark. No one, fugitive whistleblower or otherwise, should heed Kerry's call to "trust in the American justice system."
Snowden's allegiance is to that old myth 'America the free,' while Kerry aligns uncritically with 'America the State.'
Chelsea Manning's 35-year sentence, hacktivist Jeremy Hammond's ten-year sentence for his involvement in the Anonymous Stratfor hack, the jailing of former CIA analyst John Kiriakoufor talking about torture all give Snowden ample reason for distrust. As, too, does the revelation this week that the White House Press Office accidentally released the name of a top CIA operative in Afghanistan — a potentially life-threatening leak, for which no one will be punished. The message rings loud from the executive: Do as I say, not as I do.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) responded harshly on Thursday to a New York Times editorial published January 1 that called on the Obama administration to grant former NSA contractor Edward Snowden clemency on charges stemming from his disclosure of a massive amount of classified government data. King, who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News that he believes Snowden is a “traitor or a defector” for providing The Guardian and other news outlets with documents detailing the extent of the NSA’s surveillance programs. King also said the New York Times was “an accomplice” in Snowden’s actions. “They’ve really made themselves a ‘blame America first’ rag, as far as I’m concerned,” King said. “They go out of their way as to be apologists for terrorists, and they go after those in law enforcement and the military who are trying to win this war.”
“Edward Snowden is a coward,” Kerry told Chuck Todd on MSNBC. “He is a traitor. And he has betrayed his country. And if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.”
“When you have Rand Paul actually comparing Snowden to Martin Luther King or Henry David Thoreau, this is madness, this is the anti-war left-wing Democrats of the 1960s that nominated George McGovern and destroyed their party for almost 20 years,” the New York congressman said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I don’t want that happening to our party.” King said it was “disgraceful” that 94 GOP representatives voted unsuccessfully to defund the NSA’s data collection program last week. “I thought it was absolutely disgraceful that so many Republicans voted to defund the NSA program, which has done so much to protect our country,” he said. “This is an isolation streak that’s in our party. It goes totally against the party of Eisenhower and Reagan, Bush. I mean we are a party of national defence. We’re a party who did so much to protect the country over the last 12 years.”
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