Monday, July 29, 2013

Read This and Save That: In Support of Ed Snowden

     I bear no love for Big Government.  Big Government allows for the existence of the N.S.A. with neither meaningful oversight nor accountability to the American people.  In my opinion, the United States should not get to bully other nations with threats of trade sanctions because someone spoke up.  Seeking asylum is an honorable act.  If the American government had its' way, Ed Snowden would be arrested and brought back here to face charges of espionage.  If the American government had its' way, another Bradley Manning would be born.  Bradley Manning has existed in solitary confinement and is now facing the judgement of a kangaroo court.  Both men saw something and said something.  I don't know whether or not Bradley Manning can be saved from the injustices perpetrated upon him.  I am hopeful that Ed Snowden will be able to flee to freedom.  Whether or not he succeeds in darting past those that would kill him or torture him in the name of justice, Ed Snowden will go down in the tomes of learned historians as a hero.  He is certainly my hero.

radical sapphoq

black outline of Ed Snowden

"Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we've been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it." Ed Snowden

text says FLY SAFE and SAIL STRONG

text says LULZ SKY BOAT TO THE RESCUE over picture of a raft and sky

quote from Ed Snowden "The N.S.A. has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything."

No words on this one.  Add your own if you want to.

Ed Snowden quote "Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest."

Ed Snowden said the quotes which were collected at:  Talented other person made the original Ed Snowden hero poster which is posted here in tiny form and here by Anti-Federalist under #37 in larger form.  I altered colors and added the quotes.  Right-click to save to your computer if you want any of them.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Open Letter to Ed Snowden

Dear Ed Snowden,

     Although I'm pretty sure that you will never know the existence of this letter to you, I thought I would write it anyway.  There are some things in my heart of hearts that require communicating, even if only to the emptiness of the Internet.

     I am quite frankly appalled at the actions taken by our government since you came forward as the man who leaked information about the N.S.A. spying on all of us world-wide.  My country has proven to be a bully.  Quite a few of the politicians have publicly proven themselves [in my view] to be idiots with no spine.  It is obvious to me that the N.S.A. will continue to do what it is doing for as long as it can.  This is the danger in providing no meaningful oversight to any agency.  I watched what happened with the T.S.A. and I am now watching it again with the N.S.A.  That the F.I.S.A. court rubber-stamps anything that the N.S.A. wants to do is a mere formality-- a hideous kangaroo court-- and of little comfort to those of us who believe in "liberty and justice for all." 

     I was heartened to read that you do not have regrets about standing up for what is right.  You are the true patriot in this.  Not Obama or his ilk who want you brought back to the motherland as a condemned spy even before trial.  You are an hero.  You are my hero, Ed.  I think that if we had ever met, we would have been friends.

     I hope that you are able to leave Russia for a safer place soon.  Although Russia will not extradite [so far], the actions of their police regarding the throwing of dissidents and suspected dissidents into prisons which are basic torture chambers makes me wary of you living there for very long.  So even if you do wind up at the airport or a refugee camp or in an apartment somewhere for awhile out of necessity, I wish you safe passage to a country which will not kowtow to the wishes of the bossy United States.  And once you get there, I wish you both safety and happiness.

     President Obama, like many others who are not techies, confuses the words "safety" and "privacy."  It appears to me that he seems to believe that the more safety one has, the less privacy one is entitled to by necessity.  He doesn't know that safety which is not self-generated is a mere illusion.  He thinks-- I guess-- that destroying all anonymity and privacy will protect the American people from ourselves.  But we don't need surveillance.  Big Government is odious.  I don't want that.  Like you, I don't want to live in a country that polices every e-mail and communication for a list of suspect words.  But I am still here and you are not.  I watch what has happened to and what is happening to Bradley Manning and I know that Daniel Ellsberg has the right of it.  In order for you to have any chance at a life, you have had to sacrifice pretty much everything.  Thank you for not selling out, Ed.  The easier action would have been to shut up, stand down, say nothing.  You chose the rights of the people who inhabit this world over the directives of the government.  For that, I thank you.

     Although countries are caving left and right, I have to believe that there is a place for you and that you will get there.  Whether it is one of the three in South America or some other country, you deserve to be awarded asylum and hopefully citizenship someplace else.  Please know that there are bunches of us here in the United States who are rooting for you.  Be well, Ed.  

                                      Sail Strong!

                                       radical sapphoq       

Friday, July 12, 2013

Equality, Neurology, Multiculturalism, Religion, and Legislation

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law." -- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

     We are not all "created equally."  We do not get born with a blank slate, in a state of original sin, or in a state of innocence.  A blank slate is quasi-psychology.  Original sin vs. innocence is a religious vs. philosophical debate.  I will have none of that.  We just get born.

     Our Apgar scores are different at birth.  We are not all born with the same one.  We are not born in identical states of health.  Some babies are sickly.  Some are robust.  Some are in-between the two.  As babies grow, their personalities, behaviors, reactions to stimuli, likes and dislikes all become increasingly evident.  

     We humans vary from each other in intelligence, abilities, personality traits, and neurology.  Whether our differences are determined by genetics or environment or some combination, we do not all have the same chances in life.  One child excels in mathematics at school.  Another struggles.  One child is able to manipulate pens and pencils and art supplies with skill.  Another not so much.  A third has perception problems which renders their work in art class as slovenly or jumbled.

     In our awkward haste to assure ourselves that we are all human beings underneath the scariness of our differences, we are subject to shoving aside those differences and join in the chorus of the litany of "Why won't theys?" sometimes asked in slightly different formats:  Why won't they get clean?  Why can't they snap out of their funk?  Why don't they do something else when after all they themselves admit that what they are doing is not working?  Why do they refuse to get off welfare/disability/the public dole and get a job like everybody else?  Why don't they just get over "it"?  Sometimes I get tired/ don't feel like working/ drink too on weekends but I take care of my responsibilities/ go to work/ control my drinking.  What's wrong with them?  

     And hey, this nation was founded as a christian nation.  Women should not abort ever.  Kids ought to pray in school.  It's majority rules.  Atheists/ muslims/ hindus/ blacks/ whites/ drug addicts/ those crazed tea party folks ought to.  Such a shame she is fat-- she has such a pretty face.  When I get old and incontinent, that is the time to smother me with the pillow.  Death panels.  [Note:  We already have them-- they are called insurance companies.  When an insurance company denies coverage for certain conditions or medical procedures, yeah sometimes the patients die].  Political correctness.  You think you got it tough now do ya?  When I was young. 

     As individuals, we are alike enough to [hopefully] recognize each other as human.  But we retain our differences which ensure that we do not all have equal chances at success.  Some folks may give in to their laziness [yes, I've been there but now I can call myself on it and then go do what needs doing].  Some folks with traumatic brain injuries have malfunctioning frontal lobes which cause them to not be able to initiate activities.  Some folks may have lesions in the left side of their brains which [dependent upon the location] may dictate limited insight.  If you possess insight into your problems, you can thank the left side of your brain.  You can set goals and take steps to achieve them?  Thank your functioning frontal lobe.  Sometimes some of us make excuses for our bad behaviors.  Sometimes there is an underlying neurology at work.  I know what I don't know today.  And I know what I know.

     Anchoring-- the act of deciding what is correct and what isn't-- is an attribute or action that occurs within our brains.  This anchoring has evolutionary value.  When a group of people are able to decide what is acceptable, what isn't, and consequences for those who don't follow the protocol, there is a society, a civilization, a culture, and a legal structure.  When anchoring is not working as well as it should in a person, that person is apt to try on many different behaviors and values.  When anchoring works too well, a person will hold on to old explanations long after they have been found to be inadequate.

     Not every culture is worthy of admiration all of the time.  On one hand we have advances in mathematics and medicine, architecture and the arts, education and electricity.  On the other we have child brides,  forced marriages,  genital mutilation of females, genocides,  politicians who excel at being reckless with the truth, and shady governmental agencies whose function is to spy on everyone everywhere.  Cultures are neither equally admirable nor are they equally humane.  In the rush to embrace multi-culturalism, we ignore the truth that not all cultures are "equal" at our own peril.

     Any group that thinks of itself as elite or possessing special knowledge and thereby desires to impose its' cultural beliefs and values upon "everyone" is capable of evil.  Besides the obvious example of the German Nazis and the Holocaust, there is the conflict between two artificially created tribes in Rwanda, one buddhist sect warring with another buddhist sect in Cambodia, the roman catholic church desiring to impose it's stand on abortion and end of life care upon everyone to the point where hospitals are being bought up all over various communities in the United States by catholic organizations.  And the kicker-- now corporations have "feelings," borrowing a phrase from Stephen Colbert.  

     Catholic employers don't want to have to pay for birth control for its' women employees via employment-based healthcare plans.  It doesn't matter that these same catholic employers accept public funding for payment of some hospital bills.  It doesn't matter whether or not the women are themselves believers.  And yeah there are other reasons for using birth control [pills]-- to control abnormally heavy menses and in the treatment of certain estrogen-stimulated cancers to name two of them.  Politicians and employers and religious entities, please remove yourselves from my vagina.  What I decide regarding birth control, a morning after pill in the case of rape, abortion in order to save my health or my life or in cases where the fetus is not viable [such as one without a brain stem] is quite frankly none of your damn business.  All of those things ought to be between me and my medical doctor.  And since when is the life or the health of a woman of less value than the life of a fetus?

     With the repeal of D.O.M.A., Governor Huckabee expressed his butt-hurt on Twitter (registered trademark).  That is his right.  Folks responded by tweeting their agreement or non-agreement, as is their right.  In expressing my disagreement with his views, I did not engage in name-calling.  Respectful disagreement does not require such.  Part of my expressed opinion involved the idea that as adults, we [ought to] get to choose who we love [as long as the lover is another adult].  Some folks are monosexual.  Some folks are bisexual.  Some folks are asexual.  My niece married her [female] lover recently.  We came together as a community to publicly affirm and support their marriage.

     We are not enslaved by our sexual orientation.  Those non-straight folks who are committed a religion which forbids homosexual activity can certainly decide to remain celibate if they choose to do so.  In a state of celibacy, the attraction to one gender is not acted upon.  [Voluntary celibacy is certainly financially cheaper than attending certain ex-gay seminars and treatments].  Other non-straight folks, along with some straight folks, choose to work within the framework of their chosen religions in order to effect change.  Thus we now have Dignity, Integrity, and other groups within the bodies of some religious bodies.

     Yeah, I think our government should get out of the marriage business altogether.  If two adults are granted legal recognition of their partnership by a judge, that should be referred to as a civil union.  If two adults are married by clergy-- catholic, baptist, buddhist, pentecostal, hindu, pagan, jewish, b'nai, muslim, unitarian, or other-- that marriage should be referred to as a marriage.  Both should have the same rights and responsibilities.

     Whether or not the United States ever was a christian nation, it certainly isn't one now.  There are people here of every belief and of no belief.  Yet, there are times when the rights of people to practice the religion of their choosing are protected over the rights of people who do not practice a religion.  

      The removal of bike lanes from a heavily hasidic populated area of Brooklyn so that hasidic  men would not be subjected to scantily clad women on bicycles is a law that put religious beliefs over public safety. [].  In another known incident, an attempt was made to apply an anti-sodomy law to two same-gendered adults who were allegedly having anal sex in the privacy of their own residence.  [Lawrence vs. Texas, 2003.].  The actual alleged incident occurred in 1998 and was allegedly reported by a neighbor who may have allegedly harbored ill-feeling toward the two men.  A protracted legal battle resulted.  

      Yes, Rick Santorum [and Governor Mike Huckabee], I certainly do support the right of two consenting adults to engage in sexual expression of their choosing within the privacy of their own residence.  I support the right of a woman to abort a fetus-- especially if her life or her health is endangered by the pregnancy.  I support the right of two adults to be recognized as a legal domestic partnership or as a marriage-- their choice.  I support laws which are lobbied for by religious people so long as those laws do not infringe upon the rights of non-religious people.  [Hasidic jews do not "own" the streets of Brooklyn.  If they do not wish to be subjected to the ranks of un-modestly garbed bicyclists, they can avert their eyes or better yet, build and reside in a gated hasidic community].  I support the existence of public education as a secular education.  [Those that wish a sectarian education can home-school or attend a school which is run by a religious outfit].  I have no desire to force my non-theism on others.  I am willing to respect the fact that you believe.  Please respect the fact that I do not share your beliefs.  

radical sapphoq 


Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy Independence Day I Guess

face shot of Ed Snowden with the words "Fly safe" and "Sail strong."
Ed Snowden is an Hero.

Happy Independence Day to our country, to all the folks who have served and will serve in the cause of freedom, to everyone who fights injustice wherever it may be found.

There will be fireworks in some places I am sure.  Fireworks, barbecues, and happy times today.  But today, there is something that hangs over me, obscuring the brightness of the light shows in the skies and the singing of patriotic songs.

That something is knowing that the N.S.A. has been spying on everyone world-wide-- enemy countries and friend countries and terrorists and perceived terrorists and ordinary people and just about everyone.  I am small potatoes.  I am fairly certain that none of the special rigs or equipment, drones or recording devices, honeypots or traps have been set just for me.

At this point in time, to me my guess is that the N.S.A. is throwing a wide net with the hopes of ensnaring anyone who is guilty.  There is so much data that a huge facility is being built in Utah to house it all.  

I don't have anything to hide.  Still, there is something sinister about a governmental agency that seems to be all-powerful without any meaningful oversight.  The employees of the N.S.A., just like the folks who work as T.S.A. agents in the airports, run the risk of becoming obnoxious bullies.  It happens.  

This ought to be a time of high anxiety for every American as well as for the other citizens of the world.  I've watched as Big Hollywood has worked hard to legislate some highly unfair copyright monopoly laws onto the international community.  I view Big Data as having similar aims Let's insist on transparency for anyone who does anything on the internet but exhibit no transparency ourselves.  

We are caught marching to the beat of a series of drums which we did not create and which we are not ourselves pounding on.  A few of us will be goaded into places where we never intended to go by the virtue of being outspoken and not polite.  Some of us will be informed that we must inform on our friends and social media contacts.  If one hunts long enough for the tragic flaw, one will find it.  Objectionable actions can come in many forms.  Will a few of us wind up in a Gitmo style residence, away from the masses and without due process merely because we have opinions and we dare to express them?

We Americans are focused on what is or is not happening with Ed Snowden.  The rest of the world is focused on how much they hate our government.  This cannot end well.

Or, maybe nothing much will happen at all.  Everything will be pretty much business as usual-- even though there is a new emphasis on giving up our wallet names and cell phone numbers in order to establish an e-mail account or join up with some bloggers or artists out here in Interwebz Land.  Maybe one of those countries that is copping a huge resentment won't drop some bombs on our country, triggering a war.  Maybe even the folks who use encryption will stop doing so because that is suspicious behavior.  Maybe it will soon be illegal to use a V.P.N. or proxy or chain proxies together.  We can get used to anything I guess.

Or can we?

radical sapphoq