Acceptance Will Be Impossible

Tom Tomorrow

I’m less inclined to rant rave or riff on political matters because of the calming effect the confirmation bias supplies while I read Charles S. Pierce everyday at his second-to-none “commonsense tilted” current events blog at Esquire Magazine.

He didn’t reveal anything anyone didn’t know — or suspect — was going on over the past 12 years. But he did reveal its dimensions, the precise parameters of the distance between the PRISM program and the spirit of the Constitution, and the exact distance our fear and our apathy and our neglect of true self-government had carried us from the morning of September 11, 2001 to this weekend. Pierce: Snowden Effect, Day Two

Ever since Obama, while Senator, caved on granting immunity to the telecoms, I understood he would likely be a disappointing protector of the Constitution.

I have several comments.

#1 Now that TIA (Total Information Awareness) has been partly outed, my own strong opinion is: All such broad surveillance violates the Constitution’s 4th Amendment. ‘Hoovering’ data is unhooked from probable cause; end of argument.

#2 Carl Jung stated once something like, “If you pile up enough guns somewhere, they will eventually go off by themselves.” Let’s unpack this comment about psychology. Jung isn’t saying the guns will literally go off by themselves, he means the personal psychic energy attached to the collective fantasy of the guns’ meaningful usefulness (or instrumentality,) eventually concretizes their use.

The idea that large scale data sets have interesting patterns in them makes widespread surveillance a compelling activity psychologically. Eventually both the data and the patterns will be misused, leaked, sold to monied interests, and, used to bring the wish fulfillment full circle. The ‘inner’ urge to uncover patterns is drawn toward the forbidden varieties of fruits hidden in the large sets of data. Most of the tasty fruits have nothing to do with catching jihadists.

#3 Kafka. In our form of government, the government works for us. We cannot argue about the policies and embedded issues and moral trade-offs if those who work for us insist the legal rationales/rationalizations must remain secret for the sake of our own safety.

#4 “Trust Us” is not a workable way to brush it all under the table cloth. (President Obama’s interview with Charlie Rose was the lowest rhetorical point of his sadly mediocre Presidency.)

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