During Capitol Hill hearings this week, it was revealed that the NSA hasn’t stopped a single terrorist attack in the United States of America since the rollout of Bush the Younger’s total transparency initiative, which Obama said he would not continue yet then allowed to blossom into a glorious and terrifyingly scandalous National Laughingstock that now threatens even the health of the U.S. economy.
So, the same NSA that treats every U.S. citizen like a criminal, robbing him or her of their 4th Amendment rights and simultaneously making allies like Brazil and Germany hate us overnight, has done precisely nothing via their strategy of trying to find the needle in the haystack by adding more hay, which is precisely what critics like me have said this strategy would lead to: zero caught terrorists and the continued hemorrhaging of taxpayer dollars when the national debt is already $16 trillion. Add to that the abiding and well-earned hatred of every liberty-loving person on Earth, and the U.S. Government is finally making a stronger case that Al-Qaeda has been right all along than Al-Qaeda themselves are capable of making.
Dead leadership or not, the copycats being spawned are legion, and the more Obama, Keith Alexander, and John Bates push, the more the world will finally understand why the extremists do what they do: because our autonomy is being robbed by the autocrats and technocrats who are being enriched through the engineering of a Brave New World around us that even they won’t want to live in. This is why people blow themselves up. The Nazis are invading, they’re coming for your privacy, and when they’re finally finished, not only will they own all of your thoughts, but life will completely suck because your thermostat will tell the cops that your alibi is false and your doctor will find out how many pizzas you ordered last week alone. Your car will likewise snitch you out to your insurance company, not that you’ll be able to drive it anymore, and since that experiment met with such great success, we might just find that taking the human nervous system out of every equation (not just the driving one) is a fantastic idea that will keep us all safe all the time. It’s not just cultural autonomy that disappears as English marches on and replaces every other language in the 21st century–technology will ensure that individual autonomy disappears as well, if driverless cars are an example of anything.
Now Google et al. is trying to get us to wear computers at exactly the same moment that we are starting to realize that the Digital Age brings us too much of a good thing, and the processing power in our pockets isn’t unidirectional. What could I possibly need from a jacket that can talk to the cloud, much less a pair of eyeglasses, a watch, a bracelet, or a luggage tag, when much of the “talking” it does will NOT be things that I’m telling it to discuss? Steve Jobs wanted us to live in a world in which the user interface with the digital product was seamless, because there were countless things going on in the background that the user didn’t control. Those things are starting to add up…and now that we know more of what they’re doing and saying we want much less of that shit.
When does everyone leave Apple and Microsoft in a mass exodus and switch to Linux? When do the companies develop products to shield us from the NSA as they simultaneously provide the NSA lists of who purchases them? When do the children realize that the craven world the grownups are creating is not something they should ever deign to be part of? All of these things are happening right now, to varying degrees. At some point along the way the poor will also realize that these terrible parts of the power structure that creates the income gap serve only to enforce it by continuing to enrich the already powerful in some way or other.
Our society is already broken and backward enough when we criminalize suicide yet use modern medicine to extend the human lifespan at least three decades beyond our natural state, while caring for the old bankrupts us all as we shift from spending one in every four dollars on healthcare in the U.S. to one in every three. There’s a reason why more children are in poverty than every other demographic sector, while Social Security pays out the “Greatest” Generation more than they actually put in. Now we’re forcing children who don’t need healthcare to buy it so we can pay for people whose lives we’ve extended well beyond the years that nature intended. More than 4% of our population is either in prison or on probation, yet we’re supposed to be the freeest nation on Earth. We put children, women, and the mentally ill to death in our country for crimes and no one else in the industrialized world does. We have a military budget as large as the next 40 most-militarized nations, yet our President is trying to hedge, and take as few recommendations from the NSA/Surveillance review committee as possible. Watch the little man who only understands the letter of the law, not right from wrong, squirm in the mess he created when he decided to lie to the American people about ending W.’s program.
If Obama really gave a shit about American values, he would have kept his word. If he were the statesman the Nobel Committee pretended he was when they gave him that silly award for being half-black and elected POTUS, he’d be working hard with other nations to establish international standards on surveillance instead of bitching about not wanting to “unilaterally disarm.” (The argument there is a terrible one: “China and Russia have shitty, spooky, surveillance-y governments, so we have to also, to stay ‘safe.'” ‘Cause safety is ZERO TERRORISTS CAUGHT!) If John Bates, head of the FISA court cared about American values, he’d let an independent advocate into his courtroom. If Keith Alexander did, he’d be looking only at foreign communications. In short, if any of these men had a better articulation between being men, being in power, and rightness and wrongness, they would be doing PRACTICALLY EVERY FUCKING THING DIFFERENTLY THAN THEY CURRENTLY ARE.
So stand up, Obama! Grow a fucking spine. Take a class in ethics. Review the 4th Amendment, and pretend you’re part of the solution while doing so, instead of part of the problem (read it like a normal patriot, not a lawyer looking for inherent logical permeability). Be a statesman, instead of a whiner and a uniter, instead of a divider. You have only the world to win in doing so. If you win the world, we also win the War on Terror. But if you keep showing 6.66 billion people that we should be feared and hated because we can no longer be relied upon to do what’s right, much less believe in the same tripe we force others to swallow around the globe “lost” won’t even begin to describe us. If you don’t start doing the right thing, right now, all America can hope for will be oblivion.