Saturday, June 22, 2013

Today's Internets - "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." - Orwell

"Today, I lost my car keys, so I asked my ex-husband if he still had his spare to my car. He said he'd send it. I got an empty envelope with a troll face on it. There's a reason I left him. FML"

"(386): idk. a stripper just bit me. I'm so disoriented"

"(901): So I just sent my ex a video snap chat of me getting head from some Venezuelan hottie with the caption I still love you. Think she'll take me back?"

 "(202): Never let him bartend when he's tripping. He sprinkled a ton of mexican shredded cheese over a jack and coke and called in a Monterey Jack Daniels."

"Every year white people add 100 years to how long ago slavery was. I’ve heard educated white people say, ‘slavery was 400 years ago.’ No it very wasn’t. It was 140 years ago…  that’s two 70-year-old ladies living and dying back to back. That’s how recently you could buy a guy." - Louis C.K.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." - Orwell
 "Early this morning the New York State Senate approved a bill exempting retired law enforcement officers from a new seven-round limit on the number of rounds people are allowed to have in their guns. "

"There’s an amazing quote from The Lord of the Rings that had a profound effect on me when I first read the books in high school. Basically Frodo is bitching about the predicament they’re in and Gandalf lays down some Old Man Knowledge: 

Frodo: “I wish none of this had happened.” 
Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”   

Being weak is definitely a disparaging situation. Are you going to let your weakness consume you, or are you gonna get up and find that fucking dog? Make a decision to not give a shit what other people are doing; we all start somewhere. Decide to be the best you can god damn be with what you have. God damn it."

Live action Gatchaman/G-Force/Battle of the Planets.  Japan Wins.

"Not much is known yet about the accident that killed journalist Michael Hastings, other than that an eyewitness saw Hastings’ car going at an extremely high speed before the crash. The wreckage suggests Hasting’s car veered out of control onto a median,  clipped a fire hydrant, crashed into a palm tree,  and burned. Perhaps it’s only because I know next to nothing about car crashes that some of this looks weird to me...

Since first posting this, a couple of readers have pointed me to articles indicating that just the explosion itself — if there was one — puts this accident in a very rare class. This is from a ‘How Often Do Cars Really Explode From Impact‘ thread on the AutoshopOwner site...

[Update 2] A commenter claiming to have done a lot of accident clean-ups, doesn’t agree that this is all that unique...

If this had happened to Chris Matthews or David Gregory, this would be looked on as just a freak accident — a happy one, in some circles — but since it was Hastings, one of the few genuinely disruptive journalists to have emerged in the past several years, chills have no doubt run up a lot of spines. LA Weekly barely conceals these suspicions in this article on how Hastings had recently turned his attention toward the CIA. The article concedes that “That stretch of Highland Avenue [where the crash took place] is notorious for its late-night crashes involving DUI drivers” while noting that “Tuesday at 4:25 a.m. would probably stick out as an unusual time for such a case.”

...The Weekly also reports that Hastings once described himself as ”a recovering drunk/addict/screw-up” and that in his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story, Hastings wrote that he crashed a car in a drunk driving accident when he was 19. Contrary to prior reports, Hastings’ body has not yet been officially identified, according to The Weekly. The Weekly also notes the proliferation of conspiracy theories that have found some support in Hastings writing – In Hastings 2012 book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan, Hastings says a McChrystal staffer said to him, “We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write.” In the same book Hastings says he hasn’t had a drink in 10 years...

Just for the record, I am not advancing a theory here. I noticed a lot of people who I don’t consider knee-jerk conspiracists were made particularly uncomfortable by Hastings death, especially when details of the accident emerged. Predictably, there was the customarily strong push to belittle these suspicions with talk of tinfoil hats and conspiracy theories and nutjobs.

Though I don’t generally embrace most conspiracy theories, I also don’t find knee-jerk anti-conspiracism any more thoughtful or satisfying if it isn’t predicated on something weightier than the assumed essential decency of the state and its agents, or presumed knowingness about how conspiracies work or don’t. This has always struck me as a form of exceptionalism that ignores both our own domestic history and this country’s foreign policy now and in the past. I don’t think reflexive, a-historic, exceptionalist defenses of the state are something that radicals should countenance without grounds, particularly when these defenses aim to belittle and stigmatize people who are more suspicious. To me it is far more realistic to credit the state with limitless ruthlessness in maintaining control — even with flawed theories — than to keep insisting that everything wrong is ‘right out in the open.’"

"Here's Obama the Presidential Candidate debating Obama the Second Term President on surveillance; note how Obama the younger smashes through the cheap "privacy vs security" rhetoric of Obama the elder, showing the man for a thoroughly co-opted cynic who'll let the nation's spooks run wild."
[From the comments]:
 "I'm willing to bet that the reason candidate Obama and president Obama are so different is that he's learned a lot of dangerous secrets about the world that we aren't told about. Idealism in the face of reality frequently suffers." 
[I despise this argument, because...]
"Bull shit.  What "dangerous secrets" did he learn?  That some terrorist tried to blow up a plane or use a car bomb?  Oh no!  Dozens of Americans might have died.  If the framers had known that dozens of Americans might die, surely they would not have stuck the fourth amendment in there.  Holy fucking shit. The US faced an existential threat in the USSR, an empire that influenced over half the world, had billions of people, equivalent technology, and weapons to literally kill us all, and we managed to (for the most part) keep our shit together.  Now we face a few thousand  religious nuts and we full on surrender?  Are we cowards, or just fucking stupid? If we want to act like a bunch of fucking cowards in the face of a non-threat, we should at least openly declare our cowardice and repeal the fourth amendment.  Better to be a coward than a hypocrite and a coward."

"This can't happen in America? Yeah. And the government can't listen to your phone calls, either."

"They have a backlog of hundreds of millions of pages marked for possible declassification, and they’re able to release those that don’t reveal information about weapons of mass destruction, harm diplomatic relations or threaten the safety of the president of the United States. But no one believes they’ll be able to make a year-end deadline set by President Barack Obama. And in the meantime, the government is classifying even more secrets. After three and half years, just 70 million pages have been released, including the Pentagon Papers and a World War I-era recipe for secret ink. Another 45 million pages have been kept classified. The rest have yet to be fully processed. (Because the material is more than 25 years old, it’s paper and not the disks, microfilm and emails that came later.) “It’s not going to happen,” said Steven Aftergood, who directs the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, and is an expert on – and prominent critic of – government secrecy. “That should be a signal to everyone that the system is broken. Not even the president can make it work.”

Meanwhile, the government can’t keep up with the ever-escalating onslaught of classified documents, which are accumulating faster than ever before because of the growing bureaucracy, switch to electronic data and a prevailing culture of secrecy. Each day, federal agencies spend more time, money and effort classifying documents than declassifying them. In fiscal year 2011, about 2,400 employees classified documents and only hundreds declassified them, according to the most recent statistics available – which exclude the backlog – from the Information Security Oversight Office. They classified information 92 million times and declassified it only 27 million times. They spent more than $11 billion to classify documents at 41 agencies – more than double the amount a decade ago – and only $53 million on declassification. (The entire tab for classification is unknown because the cost at certain intelligence agencies is, in fact, classified.)"

 "Who is actually bringing 'injury to America': those who are secretly building a massive surveillance system or those who inform citizens that it's being done?

The US government has charged Edward Snowden with three felonies, including two under the Espionage Act, the 1917 statute enacted to criminalize dissent against World War I. My priority at the moment is working on our next set of stories, so I just want to briefly note a few points about this. Prior to Barack Obama's inauguration, there were a grand total of three prosecutions of leakers under the Espionage Act (including the prosecution of Dan Ellsberg by the Nixon DOJ). That's because the statute is so broad that even the US government has largely refrained from using it. But during the Obama presidency, there are now seven such prosecutions: more than double the number under all prior US presidents combined. How can anyone justify that?

For a politician who tried to convince Americans to elect him based on repeated pledges of unprecedented transparency and specific vows to protect "noble" and "patriotic" whistleblowers, is this unparalleled assault on those who enable investigative journalism remotely defensible? Recall that the New Yorker's Jane Mayer said recently that this oppressive climate created by the Obama presidency has brought investigative journalism to a "standstill", while James Goodale, the General Counsel for the New York Times during its battles with the Nixon administration, wrote last month in that paper that "President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom." Read what Mayer and Goodale wrote and ask yourself: is the Obama administration's threat to the news-gathering process not a serious crisis at this point?

...Few people - likely including Snowden himself - would contest that his actions constitute some sort of breach of the law. He made his choice based on basic theories of civil disobedience: that those who control the law have become corrupt, that the law in this case (by concealing the actions of government officials in building this massive spying apparatus in secret) is a tool of injustice, and that he felt compelled to act in violation of it in order to expose these official bad acts and enable debate and reform. But that's a far cry from charging Snowden, who just turned 30 yesterday, with multiple felonies under the Espionage Act that will send him to prison for decades if not life upon conviction. In what conceivable sense are Snowden's actions "espionage"? He could have - but chose not - sold the information he had to a foreign intelligence service for vast sums of money, or covertly passed it to one of America's enemies, or worked at the direction of a foreign government. That is espionage. He did none of those things.

What he did instead was give up his life of career stability and economic prosperity, living with his long-time girlfriend in Hawaii, in order to inform his fellow citizens (both in America and around the world) of what the US government and its allies are doing to them and their privacy. He did that by very carefully selecting which documents he thought should be disclosed and concealed, then gave them to a newspaper with a team of editors and journalists and repeatedly insisted that journalistic judgments be exercised about which of those documents should be published in the public interest and which should be withheld. That's what every single whistleblower and source for investigative journalism, in every case, does - by definition. In what conceivable sense does that merit felony charges under the Espionage Act?"

 "Did Snowden break the law? Possibly -- but charging him with espionage is ridiculous, just as it has been ridiculous in many of these cases. Snowden wasn't doing this to "aid the enemy" but to alert the American public to the things that the administration itself had been publicly misleading to downright untruthful about. His actions have kicked off an important discussion and debate over surveillance society and how far it has gone today. That's not espionage. If he was doing espionage, he would have sold those secrets off to a foreign power and lived a nice life somewhere else. To charge him with espionage is insane."

No comments:

Post a Comment