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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > The Monkey Hole > Cake Hole
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You'd think after 200+ years the growing pains would ease up. The security state deems whistle-blowers and even journalists to be engaging in espionage. The right to seek asylum is imperiled. Every citizen is expected to be a participant in the tracking of terrorists, whether they want to be or not. And the leaders and politicians of our international allies are apparently suspect and untrustworthy. In fact, everyone in the world seems to be a potential threat. Paranoid a little? Feed that gnawing doubt and it will only grow.

On the other hand, it still looks like democracy. The people seem complacent with it. No need to call in the military to depose the president even when most don't like him any more. That's a good thing, isn't it?

I haven't given up my citizenship.


Time to raise a glass and drain off half.

What will be left then?
Jaded Prole
It was a good idea -- once
inalienable rights and the abolition
of tyranny but
we've mucked it up, this great
American Experiment
our own inbred aristocracy madder
that noon-baked Englishmen with
crimes and usurpations running amok,
torn bodies and new hatreds in every
casbah, tentacles
in every pocket
an ear on every phone and a
knife at every throat
and we wage slave
descendants of the free
the not so free
sinking in the refuse of yesterday's bargains
punch clocked and jackbooting our way
to the fossil record at the speed of credit
with no payments 'till January --
a toxic spoor of ruined
places, broken lives and gulags.

We had a bad run but it's time
to come clean,
to admit our failure to
examine the bloody Manifest
of our imagined Destiny.

Time to Repent
for mass graves and wars of false premise,
for all those dictators -- our murky turkeys lurking
in every hot satrapy with trained goons keeping
bloody order and a quota of disappeared.

Time to admit
it was all a mistake
made in the bravado of our youth and
rejoin the Commonwealth
Stop seeing stars and turn in our
bloody stripes
be British again
take tea and healthcare claim
our place
in the house of commons where
Empire is only a memory
best forgotten.

Eat and drink with friends and family. Enjoy the fireworks and consider celebrating
Interdependence Day. Because we are.
I don't think so, America is better than it ever was, and we are better at catching the dogs than we ever were.
It's too bad you don't remember 75% tax rates, cross dressing FBI agents stalking rock and rollers, the Post master inspecting your mail for contraceptives, or the days of hiding in your bathroom with shades drawn, smoking a pin joint. The politicians were crooked in the good old days too, you just don't know all about it, plus, back then you couldn't get booze in the mail, overnight.
Happy 4TH of July everybody, exercise your independence.
Jaded Prole
Better than ever? I don't think so. I remember when jobs were plentiful and pay was livable. I know all too well about those bad old days as well as the bad new days all the more pervasive and insidious due to technology, and yeah, they are still monitoring the mail.

I am very glad for booze through the mail and for the access of information, as well as great booze that the
internet provides. Heck, without it we would have likely never tasted absinthe or gotten to know each other. Now that last one is something I'm glad to drink to!

Have a great fourth my friend!
The right to seek asylum is imperiled.

If you're talking about Snowden, he's a criminal. He has a right to a trial. He has no right to avoid a trial.
And the leaders and politicians of our international allies are apparently suspect and untrustworthy.
Some of them. The ones aiding the criminal are quite a bit worse than that.
Paranoid a little?

If you're an average joe and afraid of NSA, more than a little.
The good ol' 'murican transgressions of yesteryear don't mean those transgressions or today's trangressions fit our proud, erect posturing any better now then they did then. Fucked behavior from one time and place does justify fucked behavior in another time and place. Really.

Really, really.

Snowden may be a criminal. Of course, that's yet to be proven. What is pretty clear is that his alleged presence on a presidential flight did not stop Amerika's allies from acting like boot-licking lackies in disallowing that flight from entering their airspaces. If American political will can cause sovereign states to trample diplomatic protocols, if not signed international treaties, in such an egregious manner then what possible chance do you think Snowden has for a fair and impartial hearing? Probably about as much chance as the poor suckers who were sold to the US for a bounty in Afghanistan and find themselves imprisoned in perpetuity even after having been cleared for release. I think the guy has a case to be made for seeking asylum and it is his human right under the UN provisions signed and agreed to by the US.

Do you think that anything that Snowden has released so far has hurt the US? Yeah, it's reputation and ability to act holier than thou has been damaged, but it's security? I have yet to hear one credible argument that the over-arching big brother policies have offered security that wouldn't and couldn't have been attained and maintained by more modest and targeted methods. We are not all criminals.
Jaded Prole
Personally, I'm glad for Snowden and the many others that have sacrificed their own careers and safety to inform us. All of them would be irrelevant if our own press wasn't so embedded. As for him being a "criminal," the most important folks in history usually are and the worst criminals are usually never prosecuted. I would prefer a Republic to a National Security State.

I'll admit I'm not an average Joe. I could never sacrifice my humanity for the illusion of security. Neither am I particularly paranoid or particularly naive.

At the moment, however, I'm glad to have a nice buzz and to enjoy a beautiful afternoon. I wish the same to you.

U.S. intelligence services have always collected intelligence on everybody from everywhere. That's how intelligence works. When I entered the Defense Language Institute, I was surprised at the number of languages taught. They teach Hebrew and French. The only reason they don't teach English is because we know it already. But as I learned, there's a reason for all the languages. Today's allies are tomorrow's (maybe even today's) enemies. It's better to know what's going on in the world than to assume that "the leaders and politicians of our international allies are (not) ... untrustworthy". The only thing that has changed is technology, and with it, intelligence collection capability.
Do you think that anything that Snowden has released so far has hurt the US?

They'd be stupid to admit to what extent it does, but again, that's how intelligence works. But at a minimum, he had a binding legal contract that swore him to secrecy. I know, because I signed a similar one myself. It's a crime to violate it. He's guilty of that, at least. He's quite possibly (and I believe he is) worthy of the same treatment as the Rosenbergs got. If his conscience bothered him, it was his right to quit. It was not his right to divulge State secrets no matter what his personal opinion of them was.
What is pretty clear is that his alleged presence on a presidential flight did not stop Amerika's allies from acting like boot-licking lackies in disallowing that flight from entering their airspaces

Wouldn't have been necessary had countries masquerading as allies or neutral done the right thing and turned him over. Thankfully, some allies still behave like allies. If Bolivia has a problem, they should take it up with Red China. You think the Chinese give a shit about Bolivia?
We are not all criminals.

No, but the enemy doesn't wear a red coat and line up in rows to be shot at, either. He doesn't even have an army per se. He's just an average joe. Until he butchers some cop in the street in England in broad daylight and the world finds out the hard way where he really stands.
But I do agree about the buzz. The buzz be with you.
U.S. intelligence services have always collected intelligence on everybody from everywhere.

An important point which probably can't be repeated often enough. I'm a great believer that knowledge is power. And as comforted as I often am to know that I am a citizen of a very powerful nation, you won't be surprised if I say that I often find it a troubling fact as well. Doesn't it trouble you that the very secretive intelligence agencies may be privy to knowledge about our democratically elected representatives in government? Knowledge that may give them the power to unduly influence and sway those representatives of the people in ways we may not agree with or, in fact, be in our interests as a collective. That funny old cross-dresser of yesteryear's FBI probably had more knowledge about the compromising activities of his superiors than they had of his. Not exactly the balance of power that we would choose for those we elect to work on our behalf in government.

It was not his right to divulge State secrets no matter what his personal opinion of them was.

But I think, if we consider carefully how the assumed and proper (if I may so bold) balance of power in government, and between governments, can be improperly, unethically and, dare I say, unlawfully influenced by information held by the intelligence community, then we can imagine instances where what he has no contractual right to do becomes his duty and a civic obligation. Drawing lines in the shifting dunes of politics and law is no mean feat. And the sand, the sand is always apt to get in our eyes. A system of checks and balances that is itself secret from top to bottom must always be suspect.

But you're right, that's how intelligence works. And I think it works better if we occasionally haul the whole carpet out in the sunlight and shake it and beat it to loosen the dirt it holds. It's one of the most important functions performed by a free press. The press should not be subject to intimidation and threats of prosecution for being a watchdog over the government. It is precisely the role of a free press to expose and foment public examination of the aspects of government which it would prefer to keep hidden and secret from the people. You know, those people that Lincoln described as the fundament of government and indispensible to the operation of democracy.
what he has no contractual right to do becomes his duty and a civic obligation

It sounds noble, but there's a lot wrong with it, not the least of which is that he doesn't have the whole picture. The master mason teaches you how to use a plumb bob; it doesn't mean you're ready to critique a cathedral. And doing his "duty" would seem more noble if he had stepped forward and taken what was coming to him ("I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country") rather than running like a weasel, especially to China and Russia.

What you wrote was well-written and well-considered. I don't agree with Kirk that the U.S. is in better shape than ever, although it's easy to feel that way for a day, and maybe that's all he did - it's way fucked up, but personally, NSA parsing my telephone calls for key words doesn't bother me whatsoever. The government directing me to buy health insurance I don't need and don't want and the IRS targeting Conservative organizations piss me off beyond words. I could go on and on, but I rest my case.
Jack Batemaster
IPB Image
Snowden sought clearance and approval. That's no Boys' Club, or a five-second application like a Starbuck's gift card. He had ample time to consider the meaning of his vow and he (knowingly) ceded his original allegiance with the State. If the Office of Personnel Management wasn't spending more money on subcontractors and flexible employment schemes he might never have met muster…

What a cool motherfucker!
That's no Boys' Club, or a five-second application like a Starbuck's gift card.

I heard about the FBI men who came to interview my grandma and her neighbors in Louisiana about me when I was in the service and my clearance was pending. Men in suits entering the yard automatically raised the red flag in those days. Grandma was listening to their questions, trying to figure out what they really wanted, when the old lady next door leaned over the fence and said something like, "Que voulez-toi avec lui ? Il est un bon garçon. Partez et laissez-nous la paix."
Pretty common sentiment, I'd say. Too bad the men in the suits are no where to be seen.

…he doesn't have the whole picture. The master mason teaches you how to use a plumb bob; it doesn't mean you're ready to critique a cathedral.

If having the "whole picture" is the prerequisite for making comment and bringing to light uncomfortable aspects of a situation that impacts our lives then most people at most times are going to be forced to fall silent. I've never been taught to use a plumb bob but I have been known to hold forth about cathedrals both real and imagined.
Indeed, but did you put any lives at risk in the process?
Too bad the men in the suits are no where to be seen.

They've sub-contracted background investigations to Kirby vacuum cleaner salesgirls? They're tenacious; we've run three off the porch in the past week. That might help to explain Snowden, though.
I am by no means of the opinion that any lives have been put at risk by the intelligence that has been released. That is something that the government has yet to put forth a convincing argument to support. We'll have to content ourselves with having different opinions about that for the time being.

As for the nosy folks in the conservative suits, I just meant that for the most part they're gathering their intelligence from behind closed doors where we aren't afforded the opportunity to tell them to mind their own business face to face. More's the pity, is all.
And my point about the cathedral was that Snowden doesn't know enough about the program to offer ANY argument, much less convincing, that what he did has NOT endangered lives. He either made that assumption, or didn't care. Either way he's a piece of shit.

I did miss your inference about the suits. There's public data collection, and there are other kinds.
I remember my unit motto: "Audio Sed Taceo".
Enough (not) said.
National debt that we are less likely than ever to be able to pay off.
The other world powers making deals behind our backs that will remove the dollar's place as the world's reserve currency. (specifically because we're printing it with reckless abandon in order to pay those un-payable debts while racking up exponentially more, in spite of the fact that every other nation in history who tried to do what we're doing found to their unequivocal detriment that it doesn't work)
Producing virtually nothing of value to the rest of the world except our dollars, which they're starting to realize they're going to be better off without soon.
The health care debacle that everyone not in the parasitic sector who didn't already see it coming are finally aware is going to fuck them in the ass.

And Absinthe by mail… I think it's a draw?
I give Snowden at least as much credit as to be able to recognize that we're not all criminals and that intelligence gathering on every single American citizen without probable cause, much less court-authorization, raises red flags on the constitutional conduct of at least the agencies involved and probably the whole chain of command and any oversight apparatus that may or may not exist. It's all taken on faith. Some politicians may be faithful to their constituencies, but that may be a matter of perspective. As in whether they see their constituencies as the voting public or the paying, corporate lobbying interests. Corporate espionage is criminal as well. The whole thing stinks and if you can't smell it that may only mean that the piece of the puzzle that you've set your sights on doesn't contain the festering meat.

Snowden may very well be a piece of shit. I don't know, and frankly I don't care. I'm less concerned about the messenger than I am the message. Although I think the attitude of let's shoot the messenger first and ask questions later is precisely the reason he fled. It is a policy that is unquestionably deleterious to having legitimate whistle-blowers come forward, through appropriate channels, to report malfeasance and unlawful activities. It may be the only part of a system of checks and balances that we can get a glimpse of and we need to have full confidence in its ability to function properly.

Just as Daniel Ellsberg's revelations did not lead to the collapse of the nation neither will Snowden's.
Jaded Prole
You are right. The character assassination and smear campaign is typical of anyone who speaks out and is an attempt to shift the focus away from the real issue. Snowdon of course is not the first. Ellsberg, Phil Aggie and others have done so. Former NSA operatve Thomas Drake says of Snowden, "Like me, he became discomforted by what he was exposed to and what he saw: the industrial-scale systematic surveillance that is scooping up vast amounts of information not only around the world but here in the United States, in direct violation of the fourth amendment." Drake attempted to go through proper channels only to find it made him "the enemy." He finally went to the press and served time for it. Thanks to Snowden, the expanding power and abuse of the NSA is getting some press coverage.

It would do any American well to read journalist Jeremy Scahill's book "Dirty Wars" or see the film of it. A much needed reality check.

As a admirer of Hannah Arendt, I think maintaining one's ability to think -- one's humanity, is far better than being a little cog in a monstrosity; a little Eichmann if you will. I have always been a questioner and an anti-fascist. It hasn't served me well in workplaces but at least I haven't sacrificed my humanity nor knowingly done harm to others. Standing up and refusing to do so, pointing out the crimes taking place, and sacrificing one's one safety to do it are evidence of a strong moral character. In my book, he's a better man than those who condemn him.
Character assassination? His character committed suicide, Snowden can never be trusted again and he is quite likely mentally ill.
I think what Grim and Artemis are trying to explain is; when you tell a secret on your friend, that's wrong, but when you tell a secret that you agreed in writing to, in a contract with your nation, you are wiping your ass on integrity, if you need to do that, to break a sacred oath, you also need to pay a high price for it, a very very high price. Otherwise scumbags will break all the oaths and the Prol's will get stabbed in the back by fellow Prols.
Do you want your Government employees acting as if they signed an Apple Agreement?
Jaded Prole
That's exactly what Eichmann said; "an oath is an oath."

Prole's are already "stabbed in the back." Lied into wars and abandoned on return, short changed on the job -- if they can find one, ripped of in retirement . . .

Exposing the rentiers is for more honorable than doing their work and "following orders."

Take for example a police officer exposing abuse after getting nowhere, if not being ostracized or fired, for going through the chain of command. Say that cop exposed brutal mistreatment of arrestees, is he a "scumbag" for speaking out? Our ultimate loyalty as humans is not to shallow oaths taken naively but to our own moral integrity and the welfare of others.

As for mental health, Snowden, Manning and others are, in my opinion, far healthier -- the sane folks in an insane social structure. That, by the way, includes you (among the sane) and you know better. Heck, you've spoken out the truth as you see it and paid the price on numerous occasions and I would trust you all the more for that.
A police officer signs an oath to uphold the law, reporting abuse is mandatory.
Let's try to stick to the subject.
Consider the fact that Snowden did not sign an oath with a corporation, he signed it with a public government,
he needs to be prepared to pay the price, if that price is cheap, so are oaths.
I'd like to add he's an idiot, every thing he revealed we've known about for a decade. Key words, the fact that every single conversation is recorded, we became aware of this as it developed, Snowden gave me nothing and he payed, (I hope) everything. I can dismiss it as the foolish recklessness of youth but he was made acutely aware of the possible penalties before he acted.
I appreciate what he did but it was despicable, I would never trust him.
Jaded Prole
Actually, Snowden was a contractor working for Booz Allen, a subsidiary of the Carlyle Corp. but that aside, when I was in the military, part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice included the right to say no and to report abuse. What Snowden knew from the experience of others, like Drake, is that as soon as you even ask, you are the enemy. What has been exposed is more than people actually knew. he did it to start a national conversation about the every-growing and increasingly intrusive National Security State and he was successful in doing so. He has sacrificed himself so we can ask those questions and work to maintain an open society. I certainly don't think he's an "idiot" and I would trust a "loyal operative" far less.
A nation needs security, I would not want foolish youths, willing to break an oath, with the expectation of escape from punishment, when the punishment is as sacred as the oath, working in the NSA. He may have been working for a private contractor but he was made aware of where his loyalty needed to lie. If he wanted to do good, maybe he should have stuck around and gave at least lip service to his oath until he could corrupt the seed. A price has to be payed, if it were me, I'd expect the worst they had to offer.
By the way, what was it that he told me that I didn't already know?
I certainly don't think he's an "idiot" and I would trust a "loyal operative" far less.
You'd enter into a pact with a Snowden before you would a James Bond?
Jaded Prole
Yes, a nation needs security but the metastasis of the National Security State over the last decade, the "Patriot Act," and the NDAA have not made us more secure. If he had crippled the system internally, that might have been good in the short term but he would pay the price either way. Making public the extent of surveillance is more far-reaching and more is emerging all the time thanks to him kicking over that domino. What has he shown that you didn't know? I don't know the extent of your knowledge but if you read beyond the US embedded press you might still learn more. I do.

I don't think I'd enter into a pact with Snowden or James Bond but I'd drink with either and learn from what they said in the course of the conversation.
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

How's that for an oath? Nothing there about national security. The president is not charged with keeping Americans safe and secure. No, the Constitution of the United States is written with safeguards to insure against our democracy becoming a security state. The oath itself, in a bit of self-reflexive protection, is constitutionally mandated. Anyone with a wiff that the president (and representatives at the federal level take a similar oath) are violating their constitutional obligations has a duty and civic obligation to bring the evidence to light. That's my point.
I think I might learn less of value from a Snowden.
Don't get me wrong, I'm as ill at ease with our juggernaut of a government as anyone, but to throw away integrity at a time like this would be a disaster, sometimes you have to go through the motions, operating on faith in your ideal. Snowden traded in his integrity and now expects to be lauded instead of punished, that's not how it works.
I encourage everyone to be open and honest, don't make oaths you can't uphold, Snowden has not been wiping his own ass long enough for me to believe he attempted to uphold his oath for any appreciable length of time.
Let's say he broke the big one, saved us all from the State, he still should be prepared to accept the punishment, otherwise, we all are just playing a game in which we all stab the other in the back first.
Jaded Prole
I would argue that he maintained his integrity. I think he fully expects to pay the price but is wise enough to try to avoid it given what he knows.
James Bond is fiction. I see no bearing on actual states of affair by a figment of entertainment. I can already invent voices in my head to talk to.

Nobody is questioning whether the intelligence that Snowden has released is real or fiction. I find that in itself to be interesting. What interests me more is whether any of the NSA's intelligence gathering in form or content constitutes an abrogation of the US constitution.
You may be right, and if it were me prol, I'd be searching for the deepest hole I could find, maybe that is the price he pays, and it's enough for me. I don't think I would have done what he did, I like to think I would have gone deeper and then gladly accepted the hangman's noose. I can't build up sympathy for a traitor to his oath, but I may be persuaded into respect, so far, to me, he's just a blabbering little twit who made a large sacrifice way too soon.
It occurs to me that anyone who appreciates what Snowden did from the standpoint of bringing public attention to the matter would welcome him going to trial in the U.S.
Jack Batemaster
Vive la Belgique !
A fair and impartial hearing in an open courtroom before a judge and jury is exactly what he deserves. "Bizarre events" infecting "the prosecution of the case", even while being guarded against, would have to be vigilantly looked out for.

In any case, it would be better to have the judiciary deciding the lawful outcome of the charges than to have it decided by executive order.
Jaded Prole
I fully agree -- were that possible or even likely. Ellsberg elaborates further.

Also telling, a little peer recognition
Jack Batemaster
IPB Image
Les Belges vont règner sur tout le monde.
I do not know- nor do I care- what your commentary actually said, thanks to the picture you posted.

Well done.
Jack Batemaster
Je sais ce qui est important ici !
I must admit Jack often interjects poignant posts. The young defender of Beligican liberty with her government issued arm poses interesting questions for the conversation.

I hope someone here will steer me right if any of my assumptions go astray. I think the US government ought to know about her relationship with that rifle. Certainly in the general sense of who our allies' armies are composed of and what arms they carry and are, um, trained to, erm, be deployed with. I'm guessing the US government even has a legitimate right to know about any specific perversions that arise in the performance of those duties. That is to say, no problems if the NSA spies on her, right?

But what if the NSA is directed to gather intelligence on American civilians and their relationships, including ownership, of arms freely and legally purchased on the open market? It makes sense to me that this information could have broad and important relevance to national security. Wouldn't take much invasive means, considering the abilities possessed, to gather a national register of gun owners. For our own collective security. And if nobody knows about it, outside the intelligence services, what possible harm could it lead to?
Ideally, sure. Identify the terrorists, cross-reference it with the gun registry and deprive those criminal elements of their arms. And we all wind up more safe and secure, just the way it's supposed to work. You just have to trust the invisible system of checks and balances to protect the good guys from having their firearms confiscated. You're a good guy, nothing to worry about.
IPB Image
Thus, my response was clearly erroneous…

Unless, of course, the existence of such a program becomes declassified at some future date.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper knows that sometimes the truth turns out to be the same as the least deceitful lie.
rob fritz
This has been a great debate to sit and read for the last few days but in the end whether we think that Snowden's actions were right or wrong, are we really naive not to think that all digital communication is monitored by almost all governments. They maybe not reading whole texts just filtering for a few key words. I would not be surprised and expect that even the forums are monitored. Nowhere that I am aware of is there a guarantee of privacy.

For me, yes he broke his contractual agreements and maybe the law but that cat was out of the bag while he was still in elementary school.

Just the thoughts from a redneck in connecticut.
Every phone conversation is currently being recorded and analyzed, these recordings are kept for an extended period of time and will be hacked into by evil doers. If the US corporate state falls to a foreign corporation all our most detailed information will be available to them to manipulate and punish us.
Right now Halliburton may have it's hands full listening in on ecoterrorist talking about fracking but you can count on this spilling out and being mis used in every conceivable way, it already is, has been for quite some time.
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