a brief historical note

First things first: while I am not expecting people to come to their senses in any meaningful way, I would also not be surprised if we had a new president by the end of the day. The 25th Amendment must be invoked, and I actually do believe that it is possible that it may be.

A whole lot of people need to suffer genuine and severe consequences for yesterday. A whole fucking lot of people. There is no room for reconciliation and no room for forgiveness here, because they already got off scot-free with pulling this shit in Michigan, and if a whole bunch of people don’t pay the price for what they did, either by losing their elected offices, being forced to resign, being fired from their jobs, jail, whatever– they will do it again. And it will be worse next time. Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch failed, remember.

But that’s not what I want to talk about right now.

Cast your minds, if you’re old enough, back to January of 2001. George W. Bush had just taken office, having either actually defeated or come close enough to defeating Al Gore that it didn’t matter. And right away there were all sorts of reports that the Clinton people had done all sorts of damage on their way out the door– there were all sorts of reports of vandalism, of phone cords being ripped out of walls, of W keys being removed from keyboards, of graffiti and things being carved into desks and tables, all sorts of stuff. The news was all over the level of “frat house disarray” that the Clinton people left behind. If you’d listened to any Republicans or to the news in general, you’d have thought they completely destroyed the place.

And that got reported all over the place, and eventually the GAO did a yearlong investigation, and it turned out that while there was some damage– something around 12-15 grand, I think, across everything, which is real money to us normal people but in Washington terms is peanuts– it wasn’t remotely as bad as it had been initially described. Now, I’m not justifying any vandalism or damage here (okay, removing a couple of W keys is kind of funny, but nothing more serious than that,) only pointing out that what was a problem got blown up and magnified into something much worse than it was, and there was never, of course, any attempt to really correct the error. If you talk to most people old enough to remember this they’ll likely tell you that the Clinton people completely wrecked the White House on the way out, even though that basically wasn’t true.

Something makes me think that what happens when this administration leaves office– and they are going to, have no doubt about that– the damage will be both much worse, and much less reported on.

In which I’m too bored to be angry


It’s an odd feeling to not be mad about something that you know that you ought to be mad about.

I’m weird about my privacy.  If you have access to my Facebook page and you go look at it, it’s going to be a very few posts up at the top and then nothing but posts about what I’ve been reading after that.  I generally delete anything else after a couple of days.  I’m scrupulous about not using my real name anywhere on my blog, right down to the point where I’m probably going to change the username soon to pull my initials out of it.  This is, admittedly, mostly because I’m a teacher and am not terribly interested in my students discovering my writing online.  But I’m also genuinely not interested in strangers being all up in my shit; a friend of mine (who, it should be pointed out, I’ve known for ten years, met online, and have only seen in person *once* in that time) once referred to me as “the most online-active paranoiac she’s ever known,” and it’s not an unfair description at all.

I should give a damn about PRISM.  The idea that the government is literally spying on us and tapping into our electronic everything should make me mad.  The Fourth Amendment should mean something.

I don’t.  It doesn’t.  It doesn’t, and it hasn’t for decades.

I’m interested in privacy issues, particularly as they relate to futurism, and I talk about them a fair bit.  My last real post on Xanga was on the surveillance state, in fact.  But that doesn’t mean that I really believe privacy is still a thing anymore. The bit that George Orwell never got– and who could have blamed him?– was that we were going to cheerfully hand over any semblance of privacy to corporate and governmental entities so that we could post cat pictures and look at porn.  Big Brother didn’t have to watch; we handed him a camera and posed.  I’ve known– put “known” into quotation marks if you like– that the government was spying on electronic communications for as long as I’ve been logging into anything, so… twenty years now, give or take?  The fact that it’s confirmed now doesn’t mean anything to me.  We’re surprised about this?  Verizon has location data on me basically 24/7/365 and they’re not sharing that with anyone who asks?  C’mon, now.  Of course they are.

It’s not that I think they should be able to do these things; they clearly should not.  It’s that I see absolutely no way for the genie to go back in the bottle, and the forces that are destroying the concept of privacy in this country are not, in and of themselves, necessarily specifically malevolent.  We get stuff, for lack of a better word, in return for our privacy; the spying isn’t gratuitous.  Combine that with Americans’ generally supine attitude toward the government in every area except our guns and a healthy dose of “If you aren’t doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear” and you’ve got our current situation in a nutshell.  It’s only gonna get worse once facial recognition technology gets more accurate and publicly available.  I can either get used to it now or go nuts; I’d kinda prefer to not go nuts.

(Sidenote: no force on Earth can make me buy an Xbox One despite owning and really enjoying both previous iterations of the Xbox, and the main reason is Microsoft’s apparent belief that it’s okay to insist on putting a device in your living room that watches and listens to you all day, every day and cannot be turned off.  Apparently that’s where I draw the line.  Government, okay, fine, whatever.  Toys?  No.)

The thing that’s sticking in my craw is the partisan affiliation part.  “IF THIS HAD HAPPENED DURING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION YOU’D BE SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER!!1!!1ONE!!,” part of my brain is screaming. And when they called it Carnivore and not PRISM, well, I did.  But a curious thing happened; five years or so of basically being completely furious about everything all the fucking time kind of drained my ability to get pissed off about politics.  (Some of you, who didn’t know me during the Bush administration, are shaking your heads.  No.  This is absolutely and undeniably and clearly true.  The fact that I still possess the ability to get pissed off about stuff is nothing compared to what I was capable of in 2004.)  Plus, hey, conservatives, this is what happens when you give your guy unlimited power to do bad shit.  (Cough*drones*cough)  Our guy gets in power and then he can still do the bad shit you let your guy do.  I don’t want either of our guys to be able to do this thing, but now that they can, no one will ever stop.  That’s why it was a dumb idea, see.

So, yeah, I’m probably being inconsistent here.  I think I can make a reasonable case that it’s me being older and, if not wiser, at least less volatile, and not strictly a partisan politics thing, but if you want to blame it on that go ahead; I’m a grown-ass man and I suspect I can handle it.

One more thing: speaking of privacy concerns, I went ahead and let WordPress tell Facebook about yesterday’s post, a policy that I might continue and I might stop doing depending on how it ends up affecting my ability to talk about whatever the hell I want on here.  The result, possibly coincidental but probably not, was fifty hits on a blog that isn’t a week old yet.  Fifty hits was a good day at the peak of the original Xanga MKF.  Granted, only one person left any comments, but that’s a hell of a traffic leap from the three or four visitors a day I was getting before now.  It’ll be interesting to see if it keeps up today.