February 16, 2008

Are You Dead Yet?

This is absurd. As the Democrats themselves have helpfully pointed out (and a state of affairs which is fully agreeable to them, for they have worked toward this end over many decades), the U.S. government has been empowered for years to spy on whomever it wants, whenever it wants. A great deal of the time, no warrant is required at all; on many occasions, a warrant will automatically be granted after surveillance has begun. In almost all cases, with only a handful of exceptions, a warrant is guaranteed. (Check out these numbers, if you haven't already.)

But because Congress hasn't given Bush exactly the new bill that he demands, certain interested parties are having hysterics. Unsurprisingly, The Corner is, once again, Vapors Central. Lopez offers Bush's radio address on the subject today: "At this moment, somewhere in the world, terrorists are planning a new attack on America." Even though Bush already has the power to spy on anyone, anywhere, because he doesn't have the new bill he insists upon, no one will be able to stop it -- and you're going to die!

Andy McCarthy notes Mitch McConnell's remarks:"What we do — or in this case, don’t do — has consequences for our national security. At midnight, the country will be more at risk than it is today. And that risk will increase each day we don't have a solution to this problem."

As I have noted before, McCarthy is enamored of rotten, fourth-rate melodrama parading as foreign policy. From "Unreasoning Hysteria as the Default Position: Joan Crawford Does Foreign Policy," this is the essence of the McCarthy-Crawford position paper on national security:
You're all trying to destroy me! You're all against me, you bastards! You broke my heart, and now you want to kill me! But I won't let you, do you hear me? I won't let you! I'm going to live, damn you, I'm going to LIVE!
As one of my high school teachers used to say, when confronted with a hopelessly out of control class: "People. Please. Please, people."

You're embarrassing yourselves. Stop it.

On a related note, and a point I had wanted to include in "No One Is Safe: The Ruling Class Unleashed": Don't you assume that all your emails, telephone calls, etc. are monitored in various ways? I have for at least four years. During conversations with close friends, we'll sometimes say, only half-jokingly: "Hi, Alberto (then), Mikey (now)! How are you? Whatcha been up to?" I'll sometimes include similar notes in emails.

It's not that I think the government is keeping tabs on me in particular. I'm not that arrogant. I'm sure I'm of no importance to the government whatsoever, being a minor blogger with a small readership and all. That's not the point. As I explained in "No One Is Safe," and as I'll be discussing further in upcoming articles, it's not that the government is actually spying on me, or you, or anyone else; it's that the government can spy on any of us, if it wants to -- if it decides to cause us trouble for any reason, or for no reason, or if it decides to make an example of us.

As I wrote in "No One Is Safe":
Even with the destruction of liberty in the United States, the great majority of us may manage to live out our lives without being pursued by the government. But many of us will severely limit our choices; we will seek to avoid trouble, we will keep our heads lowered. We won't do anything to draw attention to ourselves. We know that it is unlikely that the government will target us -- but we know that it can and that, if it does, we may have no chance at all. We don't have to be tasered ourselves: we see the government tasering a few people, every now and then, and we know that if we aren't careful, it could happen to us. I can't recall where I read it, but several weeks ago, I saw a mention of the fact that the East German Stasi actually spied on "only" about one in ten people. But it was impossible to know who that one person was. If it wasn't you today, it might be you next week, or next month, or next year. When an authoritarian government accumulates sufficient power, it need only deploy it occasionally and strategically: fear does the rest.
Confronted with this reality -- and make no mistake, in principle this is our reality today, even if it has yet to manifest itself fully -- each of us will make a very personal decision as to how to deal with it.

I recognize that the government may be listening to and reading anything and everything I say or write. My reaction is, very simply, to change nothing in my behavior, except perhaps occasionally to be more provocative than I would be otherwise. In brief, I am happy to give the government my extended middle finger -- all the time, every day.

It's most enjoyable. I recommend it to you.