Amazon has recorded a spike in sales of the George Orwell novel, “1984” in the wake of revelations about the National Security Agency’s data collection programs.
The centennial edition of the book ranked number 4 on the seller’s “movers and shakers list,” as of Tuesday afternoon. Book sales increased by more than 6,000 within the last 24 hours, jumping to the 123rd spot on book sales overall, from it’s spot at 7,636 the previous day…
“Kids will grow up knowing that every damn thing that they do is going to be recorded some place in a file,” [Bernie Sanders] told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Monday. “And I think that will have a very Orwellian and very inhibiting impact on the way we live our lives.”
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) dubbed a secret National Security intelligence program as “creepy.”…
“It comes across as creepy,” Paul said according to Wisconsin Radio Network. “I understand FISA court orders to go after some known person, and their phone records and whoever they’re communicating with. But to do a blanket dragnet nationwide, that seems to go way beyond the scope of the law that I’m familiar with called the Patriot Act.”
Here is I think the essential difference and where it comes back to what I referred to before – a basic difference in one’s idea about the state and the larger political community. If you see the state as essentially malevolent or a bad actor then really anything you can do to put a stick in its spokes is a good thing. Same if you think the conduct of US foreign policy is fundamentally a bad thing. Then opening up its books for the world to see is a good thing simply because it exposes it or damages it. It forces change on any number of levels.
From that perspective, there’s no really no balancing to be done. All disclosure is good. Either from the perspective of transparency in principle or upending something you believe must be radically changed.
On the other hand, if you basically identify with the country and the state, then indiscriminate leaks like this are purely destructive. They’re attacks on something you fundamentally believe in, identify with, think is working on your behalf.
But, in fact, there’s a common theme in all of these scandals: Abuse of power. And, what’s more, that abuse-of-power theme is what makes the NSA snooping story bigger than it otherwise would be. It all comes down to trust…
[I]s it plausible to believe that a government that would abuse the powers of the IRS to attack political enemies, go after journalists who publish unflattering material or scapegoat a filmmaker in the hopes of providing political cover to an election-season claim that al-Qaeda was finished would have any qualms about misusing the massive power of government-run snooping and Big Data? What we’ve seen here is a pattern of abuse. There’s little reason to think that pattern will change, absent a change of administration — and, quite possibly, not even then. Sooner or later, power granted tends to become power abused. Then there’s the risk that information gathered might leak, of course, as recent events demonstrate.
Most Americans generally think that politicians are untrustworthy. So why trust them with so much power?
In the first flush of stories about how the National Security Agency is surveilling American citizens, one stomach-turning revelation hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves: We get the surveillance state we deserve because rank political partisanship trumps bedrock principle every goddamn time on just about every goddamn issue…
To be fair, sometimes partisans really do have a Damascus Road experience and change their ways of thinkings. By all accounts, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who grabbed headlines a decade ago by rechristening Congress’s spuds as “Freedom Fries,” really has scrapped his interventionist positions despite a strongly negative effect on his electability. But for the most part, reboots are little more than cynical ploys that are hard to take seriously even when they are as entertaining as post-coital pressers by fallen ministers. That includes the recent and largely unconvincing repudiation of the Patriot Act by its original sponsor, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).
More to the point, though, the virtually unyielding preference for partisanship over principle explains why regardless of which party controls the government, the surveillance state continues to grow. It’s totally different, don’t you see, when my guy is running the show!
That question has been on many minds in the wake of revelations about the National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance of phone records and Internet data. The ACLU, for one, called these programs “beyond Orwellian” in a statement released last week. The ACLU’s response is characteristically feverish, but in at least one respect, the organization is right: We are indeed approaching an Orwellian world…
The real effect of the NSA stories is to cement a narrative about Obama that will likely become part of his legacy: the liberal senator and constitutional law professor who, like the pigs in “Animal Farm,” metamorphosed into what he had so notoriously opposed. Guantanamo remains open. Drones still rain down on Pakistan, Yemen, and anywhere else the president sees fit. Leaks are prosecuted vigorously and reporters are investigated to uncover their sources. And now, the president is affirming the surveillance practices he once mused could be unconstitutional. In light of these actions alone, it seems that Barack Obama has learned that George W. Bush got a lot of things right.
The point of noting the president’s porcine transformation is not to criticize his current policies, but rather to serve as an instructive example for future White House aspirants: The responsibilities of power are difficult to reconcile with lazy criticism that is so easy to dispense from the sidelines. As long as he fails to recognize the debt that he, and the nation, owe to his predecessor, he will be practicing a vice that Orwell was a master of depicting: hypocrisy.
Via the Examiner.