May 11th, 2006


"but liberty never die"


[Be sure to read the footnote as well; it contains an important correction. But the original story, left unedited for its charm, is recounted first.]

"This is Itagaki. Like Ito Hirobumi, he work to make Japan a democracy during the time of Meiji. He want strong constitutional government and Itagaki was a very courageous man. When he die -- he was killed by his enemies* -- he said, 'Itagaki die, but liberty never die.'

"Since that time, it has not gone so well. Now there are many clever men, but few have the courage of Itagaki and only the fools seem to be brave. The work must be started all over again. Then someday we may have great men for this hall again."

-- an anonymous old Japanese man, acting as tour guide
taking American intelligence officer Ted de Bary through the Diet (parliament) building
after the fall of Fascist Japan, October 1945 EV

From a Ruined Empire: Letters -- Japan, China, Korea 1945-46, ed. Otis Cary. [Also known as War-Wasted Asia and Eyewitness to History: The First Americans in Postwar Asia.]

93 93/93 -- AJ

* As might be expected under the circumstances -- Fascist Japan wasn't prone to giving lessons in the history of Japanese liberty -- the old man's facts are slightly askew; in particular, the libertarian former samurai Itagaki Taisuke survived the attempt on his life, and died of natural causes in 1919. So saith the mighty wikipedia, anyway:

"this creeping cancer of control"

"What is this creeping cancer of control?...I feel there is some hideous new force loose in the world like a creeping sickness, spreading, blighting. Remoter parts of the world seem better now, because they are less touched by it. Control, bureaucracy, regimentation, these are merely symptoms of a deeper sickness that no political or economic program can touch. What is the sickness itself?"
-- St. William S. Burroughs, Interzone, ca. 1954 EV


Remember when if someone had told you that the President of the United States was collecting all the telephone records of every American in case he decided he wanted to spy on them without a would have known for sure that person was a lunatic?

Ha-ha! How times change:

At this point, only a total naif thinks that our credit card transactions, medical records, internet traffic, or any other piece of data about each and every one of us, is any different from our phone records...and the people claiming that those no-paper-trail voting machines have been stealing elections?, look less silly all the time.

That's the problem with an emerging police state: the stuff you do know about it makes it impossible to rule out, well, anything you don't know for sure.

For those who don't seem to get it, here are the two things I really dislike about this sort of thing.

1. The GOP -- with the help of a few Democrats, though even some of them are beginning to rethink all this -- have betrayed our heritage. Putting the best possible face on it, one successful attack by some fanatical punks has left them so uncontrollably pissing themselves with terror that they've ended Constitutional government forever, just so they can sleep at night. Here in what we used to call the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, such cowardice makes me physically ill.

And that's the best face: that they're just panic-stricken. The worst face, of course, is that some of them are nothing of the kind: are instead outright Fascists, which leads us to point two.

2. Unless and until they open re-education camps (or worse) for those in the "wrong" religions -- a distinct possibility, of course -- I daresay I have less to fear from a police state than most folks on LJ; in particular, they can give my phone records, or anything else, to the NSA, FBI, CIA and DEA (some of the actual recipients of your own actual phone records, btw, in case you were wondering) all they like, and "mine" them however they choose to: I obey all the laws (yep!, even the tax and drug laws), I don't have any guns, I don't organize, go to protests, or take part in political movements...hell, I'm clean as a whistle. Furthermore, the database they're building -- i.e., to keep track of every U.S. telephone call, period, at the very least -- is so huge that they'll probably never actually look at your individual records...depending who you call, of course. And so long as their sole criterion is looking for terrorists, what has an innocent American to fear?*

Let's make this as simple as possible. Hitler and Stalin would be green with envy: thanks to George W. Bush and his merry band, the mechanisms are now in place for the biggest, most successful police state in the history of mankind. Whether that information trove is abused -- say, to spy on political opponents**, take people's guns away, whatever -- is entirely up to the whim of a handful of men -- many of them, btw, directly involved in known criminal activity (the Abramoff and Cunningham scandals, with plenty more to come) -- who ask you to trust them.

Even if everything they have said so far hadn't turned out to be a lie, those of us who love freedom are not of a mind to trust anybody at all with this kind of power. It's that simple. Yeah, that probably makes life a little less "secure" than Saddam's Iraq used to be, right? Well, that's the tradeoff we're willing to make...not to live in Saddam's goddamn Iraq.

It's one of those "Don't Tread on Me" things; one of those "proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free" things. Maybe you wouldn't understand.

But I know a lot of you do...and bless each and every one of you for it.

93 93/93 -- AJ

* I might note that those, unlike myself, who don't pay their taxes, who have guns, or who phone friends regarding, say, a little smoke-a-da-smoke, should now be officially sitting in their water. Or did you think that, e.g., DEA was on that recipient list because they're hoping Osama is out to score some righteous bud?
** I don't mean peaceful protest groups; we already know they're spying on them.

Bush on what the meaning of "is," is


Bill Clinton has nothing on these guys when it comes to deceptive parsing of words.

Numerous news outlets are misquoting the President as having denied that he's engaged in data mining or trolling of phone records.

This is not, in fact, what he claimed. What he actually said, in the context of distinguishing between phone records and the actual content of calls, was:

"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans."

I don't know -- but I'd bet you money -- that what he means is:

"We are mining your phone records; but those records are kept separately from your personal info (names and addresses). First we troll the data; then, if we feel like it, we get more personal."

Anyway, every news outlet that says "Bush denies data mining" needs to learn to read more carefully...and to think more dishonestly, like these guys do.

93 93/93 -- AJ