Tag Archives: Obama

Snowden, NSA, and the concept of legality

As the usual suspects defend the recently leaked programmes of surveillance–brought to us by the Department of Defense–as legal, one must contemplate what this concept of legality truly constitues. It requires little skill to apologetically assert that the government is within its rights to collect data on various and sundry people in order to protect its citizens from the lurking, amorphous threat that is terrorism because such activities are not expressly prohibited within the law. But, the US Constitution notwithstanding, why is it seemingly assumed that what is legal is unchangeable? 

There is an underlying hopelessness demonstrated by both parties to this discussion. Whether the broad wiretapping is legal or illegal seems to have hidden the fact that the concept of legality includes the ability to amend the law by those who are elected to represent the people. That is to say, if Congress were to truly desire to make such activities illegal, it would be quite easy for it to draft and pass a law stating as much. It is sadly common to see the law as a sort of God given, engraved in stone, set of rules that can only be interpreted–one way or the other. 

The despondent nature of those who defend the leaks, leakers, and abhor the programmes is illustrated when they attempt to battle the government by means of positing a different interpretation of the law than the government’s, which it currently uses to justify its actions. Why not eschew the thoroughly discredited paradigm of contesting with divergent interpretations and, instead, call for our representatives to explicitly outlaw such governmental activity? 

The law is not an inviolable natural code sent to us from on high. The law was written by humans and it can be changed by humans. 

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Bradley Manning and world hegemony

It’s becoming ever-more clear how pervasive the current hegemony is in relation to not simply just politics, but–in a Gramscian sense–civil society itself. 

Recently Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International chose not to designate Bradley Manning as a political prisoner. This is a direct consequence of HRW and AI being reabsorbed into the international-state system through the integration of “approved” NGOs into the UN. (The first of these “approved” NGOs was none other than the Red Cross.) Because HRW and AI are now incorporated into the system, they have concrete interests aligned with that system  and its maintenance. The dominant fraction in that system is the USA and thus the internal enemies of the USA are off-limits to the alleged ‘independent’ civil organisations that are meant to tame and mediate State abuses.

There is a second example, on a smaller–but no less significant–scale that demonstrates the incredible pervasiveness of the current hegemony. The San Francisco Gay Pride parade voted to have Bradley Manning as their Grand Marshal (obviously a ceremonial title seeing as Pvt. Manning is locked away deep in a US military prison). Within a few days the “board of directors” of the parade–which is incidentally headed by a former high-ranking Obama campaign official–overturned the election of Manning. 

What we see here is the amazing ability of the current system to reabsorb even its antagonists. HRW, AI and SF Pride were all created to be institutions in opposition–protest–of the status quo. Instead, all three have been accepted and embedded into the hegemony and now make decisions based upon the interests of the continued dominance of the current system rather than an actual radical agenda.

 

Sad days. 

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I have a dream

Was swearing on two bibles a way to flip off the conservatives?

 

Also, I wonder what Martin Luther King would have said about his possessions being so close to Lincoln’s.

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“islamic terrorism”

If the state budget of Yemen is 70% oil profits, is it terrorism or rationality that inspires “al-Qaeda” groups to attack oil [LNG] pipelines in Yemen?

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