Thursday, January 26, 2012

Anything you say can and will be used against you

Miranda rights don't apply online, so even though I don't commit crimes in the first place, if I did you wouldn't know about them from reading this blog because I know better than to write anything like "I'm living large off the proceeds of yesterday's tri-state crime spree."

Although it sounds like the FBI's plan to monitor social media sites will go beyond that. I wrote about it, briefly, for the Daily Dot.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rand Paul and the TSA

Over at the Guardian I discuss the brouhaha over Rand Paul's refusal to let TSA touch his junk. The White House, of course, has spoken in support of the TSA.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fiddling While Rome Burns

I could say my lack of recent posts was because of me showing principled support for the anti-SOPA protest blackout, but that would be a pious lie. For all that I loathe SOPA and cheered the blackout, the truth is I've been busy researching and writing about science-fiction-themed brothels, Arab-Israeli hacker wars, Japanese legends of Moses and similar matters for the Daily Dot.

But I haven't abandoned my fear or my fury over what's been happening in the US of late: TSA, NDAA, "the president of the US can kill anybody anywhere in the world, without a trial or declaration of war, so long as he's first willing to say 'dude's a terrorist'" ... reading the news these days feels like watching a documentary on a World War Two cable channel, a documentary about how things went dreadfully wrong in a certain country I dare not mention because anytime anybody makes the slightest comparison between anything here now and anything there then, somebody will scream Godwin! and at that point the conversation is over. So forget I even mentioned it.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Dammit, GOP, Get Your Act Together

Every five minutes or so the status of the "current GOP presidential front-runner" changes, so right this second I don't know who looks most likely to get the 2012 Republican presidential nomination: Rick Santorum the Catholic Taliban? Newt Gingrich the megalomaniac sociopath? Mitt Romney the blank slate who changes his politics and principles almost as frequently as I change my socks?

If any Republican national strategists are reading this then pay attention, damn you: Obama is spectacularly unpopular these days, not just among right-wingers who never stood a chance of liking him anyway, but also among left-wingers and independents (like me) who voted for him in 2008, not because we're party-line Democrats who'll pull the lever for anybody with a -(D) after his name, but because we care about civil liberties and believed Obama's circa-2008 claims that he would undo the constitutional damage of the Bush/Cheney administration. But Obama has proven to be an absolute civil-liberties disaster, and the Republicans could easily mop up that disaster -- and reclaim the White House for themselves -- if only they'd support a sane, sensible centrist candidate promoting a return to the constitutional rights all Americans took for granted up through September 10, 2001.

Plenty of Republicans meet those criteria, so why is the GOP power structure consistently ignoring them? At this point, Obama could release a videotaped confession showing him raping and murdering photogenic orphan toddlers as part of a Satanic occult plot to raise Hitler from the dead after giving Kim Jong Eun the entire American nuclear arsenal as a "welcome to power" gift, and somehow, some way, the Republicans would STILL find a candidate who makes Obama look like the lesser of two evils.

Re-elect Obama in 2012: "He'll raise Hitler from the dead, turn North Korea into the world's number-one nuclear power and sign legislation making it legal for TSAgents (with valid hunting licenses) to shoot American airline travelers for sport."

No, vote for the Republican in 2012: "He'll build more nukes and use them to blow up the sun." (And then Obama would add "Blowing up the sun is bad, m'kay?" to his campaign platform until the second he wins re-election, at which point he too will try to blow up the sun, because damned if he'll let any Republicans out-Republican him.)

[/kicks pebble]
[/watches pebble fall down storm drain into dark stinking underground sewer]
[/morosely imagines pebble symbolizes entire country]

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Eek, It's A Living

Time was when I'd introduce non-political stuff by saying "This is about as political as a cupcake." Of course, now that overzealous TSAgents have decreed that even cupcakes are a terrorist threat, I'll now say "Instead of unleashing my inner grammar Nazi, I unleashed my inner grammar TSAgent when I wrote this piece for the Daily Dot:"

The Internet can be a frustrating place, especially for former English/writing majors trying to eek out a living in a harsh trans-print journalism world where millions of our fellow netizens see nothing wrong with “trying to eek out a living.”

This gets tooth-grindingly annoying for those sensitive enough to recognize “No, you eke out a living. E. K. E. ‘Eek’ is what you yell when some gross thing makes you squirm, like a mouse in your breakfast cereal or an adult on the Internet writing ‘Drat this economy makes it hard to eek out a living’.”


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

TSA's True Concern: Everything Except Security

A few days ago Jeffrey Goldberg, in an article he wrote for Bloomberg (the news site, not the New York politico) spoke to TSA director John Pistole about various matters including the "backscatter X-ray" machines, which are potentially dangerous quite apart from their obvious privacy violations; other countries ban them even as the TSA rolls them out into evermore American airports. When Goldberg asked Pistole why the agency didn't at least replace them with safer options, Pistole discussed the benefits of competition among government contractors: "This is the best thing in terms of driving innovation and incentivizing manufacturers to produce the best possible products at the best possible prices."

So by Pistole's own admission, TSA values "a friendly business environment for government contractors" more than "the safety of Americans" or "the effectiveness of TSA's presumed job."

Meanwhile, "In These Times" yesterday published a nauseatingly sympathetic story about the TSA union complaining "Media's portrayal of TSA employees has hurt our bargaining power." Groping breast-cancer patients, confiscating cupcakes, shoving their hands down the underwear of a six-year-old girl -- these actions by TSA employees aren't the problem, see; the problem is that pesky ol' media reporting such actions, which makes Americans less sympathetic to the employees who molest them.

TSA agents made similar complaints back in November 2010, when the groping policy was still new and I mentioned "the agents of the Transportation Security Administration have been sobbing their little hearts out because they just can't understand why Americans have to be all rude and cranky rather than passively adopt submissive-criminal body poses while uniform-wearing thugs fondle their genitals. Union officials are especially outraged that people who are just following orders should actually be blamed for what they do."

And now they say the same, boo-hoo, pity the poor TSAgent who risks getting carpal tunnel after cupping women's breasts or men's balls all the livelong day.

It's times like this I wish I were back in college. Because if I were in college I'd probably be stoned right now, plus when I was in college you had to be stoned -- far more stoned than ever I personally got -- to actually believe these TSA gropings would be the law for more than a year now, and still things only keep getting worse. You'd have to be hallucinating to imagine the government would erase habeus corpus as it did in the NDAA bill, and you'd need to be in the final stage before permanent brain death to believe anyone in the American government could be psychotic enough to find a seven-day food stockpile cause for suspicion. I'm stone sober and still can't quite believe any of this.

Monday, January 02, 2012

2012: An Inauspicious Start

Well, Dear Reader, I hope that at some point during the last couple weeks you and your loved ones celebrated a happy secular- or religious-themed December holiday of your choice. I spent New Year’s Eve taking down the Christmas decorations; President Obama marked the occasion by signing the NDAA into law, so it’s now legal for the American government to arrest American citizens anywhere in the world on “suspicion” of terrorism, no trial, no rights, no lawyer, nobody telling your family what happened to you.

Of course, in his signing statement he promised his administration will never-ever use this power unfairly. As for whoever comes after him, who cares? Oh, I know the excuses Obama’s supporters are making – the poor dear had no choice but to sign the bill. It didn’t just gut the constitution by allowing American citizens to be disappeared into military camps, it provides for the military to get paid. (Ordering The Troops to risk maiming or death on occupation duty in the name of defending the constitution in one thing, but delaying their paychecks to defend the constitution is wholly unacceptable.)

If Obama had anything remotely resembling balls, or a spine, or a conscience, he could have vetoed the bill anyway and told Americans exactly why: “My fellow Americans, I could not in good conscience sign this bill. When I was elected to this office I took an oath – as do all Congressmen and Senators– swearing to uphold the constitution of these United States. Those who voted for this bill – Democrats and Republicans both – violated that oath when they did so. I will not violate mine by signing it.”
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