Musing

June 30, 2013

Here we are, about midway between our 5th birthday, June 26, and Independence Day, July 4. This post is overdue, as I have been reflecting on the anniversary just passed despite not getting over here to comment. But what to say?  I’m not feeling very optimistic.  There is not much to applaud in the fact that the president (once the candidate for whom we who cofounded this blog had so much hope) is “not going to scramble jets” to capture a patriot who released data to the United States public, not to an enemy; to know that Bradley Manning’s trial is going on right now, but that details are available only through a very few online sources* (Reader Supported News, FireDogLake, etc.), to see The New York Times call the woman whose coverage they are quoting not a journalist, but an activist, is distressing—no cause for celebration.

Then one hears an interview with the husband of Lynne Stewart, the New York lawyer and activist now in a Texas prison, approved by the Texas warden for compassionate release.  One learns that the paperwork for her release is now held up in Washington, and when her team asks for a more-legible copy on which to make their case, they are brushed off with “go through FoIA [Freedom of Information Act]”.  And one—if lucky—finds in the press (or in a blog’s responsive comment) a mention of James Clapper, who admittedly lied to Congress, on the record—where is Attorney General Eric Holder’s commitment to prosecution?

Finally, one reads speculation on how the press takes its cues from the federal government in their coverage of those who leak information (http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/276-74/18164-focus-ten-ways-the-press-will-treat-cartwright-different-from-snowden, which includes the following: “High government officials in Washington routinely leak classified information, as part of turf battles inside the government. . . . That such leaks are so routine, and are part of Washington’s way of doing business, is what makes the harsh espionage charges against people like Edward Snowden so hypocritical. He who is without leaks should cast the first stone.).”

So am I hopeful this year?  No, not very.  However, there are 2 recent posts here that are encouraging—a new group called Restore the 4th has taken up the mantle, with a couple of our own involved.  Let’s make a noise this 4th of July!  Let’s start some meaningful conversations—at the parades, at the picnics, before the fireworks go off, let’s talk about what the holiday really means, beyond  a day off from work midweek and sales at the malls.  Despite understandable criticisms of slavery and limited voter enfranchisement in the 1700s, I prefer to focus on the radical aspects of the events surrounding 4 July 1776, when this country began in revolution against the tyranny of taxation without representation, the “divine right” of kings, and for the “unalienable rights [of] life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  It is time—well past time!—for our nation to remember and demand that our current government honor its founding principles.

*in contrast to the Watergate hearings in 1974, to which I sat glued every afternoon upon returning home from my college classes


NSA Gathers Far More Than Phone Data (Julian Sanchez)

June 19, 2013

FISA expert Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute discusses internet metadata and more.


Who Are We?

June 18, 2013

As we regroup after 5 years, we think of our original description—a proud group of Obama supporters. Yes, we were!
We were because, at the end of President G. W. Bush‘s 2 terms, we had Hope; we wanted Change. The candidate expressed concern with, and a goal of ending, the ever-more-imperial presidency.  We congratulated the president on his election—with a television ad that we ran in the Washington, D.C. area, saying in effect, “We continued to support you; please make good on your promises and fix the FISA Act.” Five years later,we mostly feel that the current administration has proved unworthy of our early support; we were too optimistic and trusting.
I wonder how many of us were comfortable enough with his record to support Mr. Obama in 2012? By March 2010, the group had changed enough to rewrite our mission statement; the new version described us as a proud group of informally affiliated individuals who supported President Obama during his candidacy in large part because of his call for hope and a new kind of politics. I suspect that in the last presidential election, many of us were looking to Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, or another third-party candidate for real change. However, there was still some work being done to bring the Democrats back on board; in December 2011, some of us took to the Organizing for America offices to discuss the NDAA renewal with campaign volunteers (for instance, see https://getfisaright.wordpress.com/2011/12/).
Now, just 10 months later, the graphic image atop this blog is a disturbing map of metadata collection for analysis, by country, leaked to the world from the NSA’s Bountiful Informant program by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
So we ask, Who are we today? We had a poll here (for the record, 2 unafilliated, 1 each Libertarian, Occupier, and Other—who says we are not diverse?  or unconventional?), but the poll’s wording really made it appear as though we were suggesting that we are our political-party identity.  Not true, not even close to true—for all the polarization of late, for all the “Red Team/Blue Team” name-calling that goes on, we hearken back to the days when alliances were formed along lines of position on issues, not necessarily nor automatically in alignment with an individual’s party.  We feel that that was a better way—and we call on our fellow citizens to demand it of those in and running for office.