The NSA Tries To Secure Most Surveillance Powers Before Obama Makes A Statement About Surveillance

The NSA tries to secure most surveillance powers before Obama makes a statement about the future of American surveillance

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. This article or image contains materials that originally came from a National Security Agency (NSA) website or publication. It is believed that this information is not classified, and is in the public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland.jpg
Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. This article or image contains materials that originally came from a National Security Agency (NSA) website or publication. It is believed that this information is not classified, and is in the public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland.jpg

As the Guardian reports, the Obama White House wants to (or at least pretends that it does) reform the NSA’s surveillance apparatus.

Obama recently met with privacy advocates, among them the ACLU, to discuss American mass surveillance.

Guess who is launching a charm offensive targeted at the American public against limiting the scope of mass surveillance in any substantial manner.

If you do not let us spy on all of you at all times, then the terrorists win

The NSA recently argued in an interview on NPR that if they do not continue indiscriminate mass surveillance, then, loosely paraphrased, the terrorists win.

Speaking about the surveillance of the phone records of all Americans (non-Americans are fair game anyway for the NSA), outgoing NSA deputy director John C. Inglis said that one money transfer from San Diego to militant islamists al-Shabaab in Somalia had been prevented. Note that he talked about a money transfer that might have financed that group’s activities, but not a specific terrorist attack.

Let that sink in for a while. To prevent one unspecific terrorism-related activity, the private communication of all Americans (not to mention everybody else on the planet) has to be destroyed, according to the NSA. I think that the price Americans and other citizens of the world have to pay for this illusion of security is too high.

Freedom and absolute security are mutually exclusive

It is a truism that in a free society, there can never be one hundred percent security against all risks of life, including terrorism. Attempting to watch and predict every individual’s next move at all times inescapably leads towards an authoritarian dystopia.

It would be a shame if the country whose national imagination prides itself to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave” would end up as ‘democratic’ as the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was.

One Stasi was enough. Please America, stop this madness.

Texas German, A Disappearing Dialect Shaped By Immigration

Texas German, A Disappearing Dialect Shaped By Immigration

NPR reports on Texas German, a variant of German spoken today only by a rapidly declining minority of the population of the Lone Star State, whose origins can be traced to mid-nineteenth-century German migrants to Central Texas.

House Republicans Announce On Twitter To Vote Against Obamacare For The 37th Time

House Republicans Announce On Twitter To Vote Against Obamacare For The 37th Time

The politics of obstructionism continued (Episode 37)

Because opposing the Obama administration’s Affordable Healthcare Act, better known as Obamacare for thirty-six times was not enough for House Republicans, they recently announced that they would vote to repeal it for the thirty-seventh (!) time.

Twitter battles as a new normal form of political communication

So far, so predictable. But here is where it gets interesting. In this age of ubiquitous social media technologies, leading politicians in the US—years ahead in this regard to, let’s say, German politicians— feel the need to engage in Twitter battles. Sometimes hilarity ensues.

As the Huffington Post reports, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tweeted on May 8, 2013:

“The House will vote next week for a full repeal of #Obamacare.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) then attempted to hype it up a little more with the hashtag #ObamaCareInThreeWords

To which the White House replied:

“It’s. The. Law.”

Well-played, sir. Well-played.

But the fact that large parts of the Affordable Care Act are right now being implemented is not clear to everybody at the moment. According to NPR, a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of Americans do not currently know that the Affordable Healthcare Act is the law of the land.

Symbolic politics versus the 113th Congress in numbers

Unless Republicans in the Senate can convince a substantial number of Democrats to join them in voting against the Affordable Healthcare Act, the repeal they seek will not happen any time soon. As of May 2013, the distribution of seats in the 113th Congress is as follows: House: 233 (R), 201 (D); Senate: 55 (D) (53 (D)+ 2 (I)), 45 (R)

Maybe in the end, this is much ado about nothing. Still, it gives us an insight into how the new social media technologies are now being put to use for symbolic politics. In a way, they have joined their older peers of AM talk radio and cable television in the US.