Category Archives: Edward Snowden

Hot Air

Inflexible Moralizing

Glenn Greenwald made a name for himself around the world by hitching his wagon to the Edward Snowden runaway horse. Greenwald, of course, is the reporter who published, via the Guardian US, Snowden’s revelations that this holy land is nosy about every single email you’ve ever written and every cell phone call you’ve ever made.

Greenwald

Greenwald (Photo by Kin Cheung/AP)

Rightly so, we were aghast that our heretofore simon-pure leaders were attempting to peek over every transom in America. So Prez Barack H. O. had to toe the dirt in front of him for a few uncomfortable moments and get all apologetic for wanting to look under the socks in our collective upper right hand drawer.

[That’s three metaphors in one graf; is that my record?]

Snowden, meanwhile, started thinking he was the protagonist in a cheap spy novel and fled to Russia where freedom reigns eternal. And Greenwald found himself the hottest investigative reporter around.

Now, loyal Pencillistas know my feelings about Edward Snowden. Basically, he’s a dildo who somehow found himself in a position to do the rest of us one act of good and then proceeded to go back to being a dildo. As for Greenwald, I never thought much about him one way or the other, although I had a suspicion he might be a tad overzealous in view of the USA as this planet’s most odious villain. As in, we’re Nazi Germany sans the swastikas. In fact, Greenwald is skeptical of those who pooh-pooh Godwin’s Law practitioners.

Now we learn Greenwald is four-square against the United States sending police or military resources to Nigeria to assist that nation in finding its kidnapped 300 or so young girls.

His rationale? Well the US has done a lot of crappy things in its day so who are we to try to be good guys now? That and any expeditionary force, no matter how limited, surely will be the advance guard of an imperialist takeover of that oil-producing land.

Perhaps I’m naive but I believe Glenn Greenwald is full of horseshit.

A great number of Far Left radicals also buy into Greenwald’s reasoning. They’re calling any American effort to go over to Nigeria to help in the search “neo-colonialism.”

Nigeria

Click Image For Full Article

They, too, are full of horseshit. Nigeria is suffering under the threat of those Boko Haram nitwits. And the president of the country until very recently was more concerned with silencing parents and their supporters calling for a stronger government effort to find the girls than actually finding the girls.

BTW, Nigeria in recent years has criminalized homosexuality. Oh, and most secondary schools in the state of Borno have been closed due to the menace of Boko Haram which means, literally, western writing is sinful.

The big shots in charge of Nigeria might not need neo-colonialism but they sure need a swift kick in the ass.

Jet

From the very first time I ever rode an el train to downtown Chicago alone — in the summer of 1972 — there’d be kids walking from car to car hawking copies of Jet magazine. And, sure enough, they’d find at least one passenger in each car who’d buy the little, digest-sized mag. It cost 35 cents at the time.

In fact, I’ve found the cover of the first issue of Jet I ever saw:

Jet

That’s Angela Davis, the era’s chic-est revolutionary. She was smart, determined, a college professor, a rebel, and gorgeous to boot. I already had a huge crush on her when the kid selling that month’s issue came through my car. I saw the cover as he neared me, repeating the mantra, Jat, Jat, Jat….

I would have paid a dollar and 35 cents for a copy, that’s how smitten I was with Angela Davis.

The discovery that black people had their own magazine was a revelation to me. Funny thing is, I was too scared to buy one from the kid. The only folks who bought them on the train had dark skin. I was certain the kid would snicker at me or some older black person would give me a dirty look. I never even opened a copy until my first bookstore job in 1977.

By that time, I knew white people were allowed to read Jet. Only they didn’t. We’ve come a long way.

Jet soon will publish its last print issue. Beginning in June, it’ll go online exclusively. I’m not going to cry phony tears over this transition. Working at the Book Corner (where we don’t carry Jet), I’ve come to understand that the vast majority of mags simply don’t sell. People are reading online now. I’m reading online now. Perhaps we can save a tree or two.

The only thing I’ll miss is those young black newsboys threading through the cars of an el train intoning, Jat, Jat, Jat….

Wake Me When It’s Over

Are you as underwhelmed as I am by the prospect of Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush in 2016?

Clinton/Bush

Z•Z•Z•Z•Z•Z•Z•Z•Z

Well, one good thing. We’ll have our first woman president. No, make that a great thing. Alright, alright, I’ll stay up for the race.

Indiana Ear Candy

The Indianapolis alternative weekly NUVO has released its 100 Best Hoosier Albums Ever.

You’ll recognize plenty of the artists: everyone from David Baker to Hoagy Carmichael to the Jackson Five and Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. But those big names are really the minority. You’ll discover a hell of a lot of great new music if you study the list and take a listen to some of the choices you’re unfamiliar with.

I have a feeling it’ll be a better experience than being earwormed by The Lion Sleeps Tonight (wink, wink, Susan Sandberg!)

Hot Air

And The Winner Is….

Let’s talk awards.

The Pulitzers Prizes are the Oscars of the newspaper and scribbling biz. If I were to reveal one dream that I’ve harbored all my life, it’d be that I’d win the Pulitzer.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Big Mike Glab.

Trips off the tongue, no?

Maybe. But it won’t trip off the Pulitzer judging committee’s collective tongue. Not at this late date. And there, kiddies, lies the bare-bones moral of pretty much every novel that’s ever won the Pulitzer itself. Dreams die.

Sigh.

Anyway, Donna Tartt won this year’s fiction P.P. for her book, The Goldfinch. It’s about 16,000 pages long, which makes sense, considering it’s only the third book she’s had published in her so-far 22-year pro career.

Tartt

Donna Tartt

I haven’t cracked open The Goldfinch yet but I did read Tartt’s The Secret History back in the ’90s. It was quite good even though it was about privileged, over-the-top neurotic white college kids. See, I’m not a complete bigot.

I may read The Goldfinch when it comes out in paperback, although I wouldn’t bet the mortgage payment on it if I were you. I shy away from exceedingly long books and movies these days. The Goldfinch actually is 784 pages in hardcover. That translates to at least two weeks of reading time. I just can’t see myself making that kind of commitment anymore.

As far as movies go, my limit is two hours. If you can’t tell me a story up on the screen in two hours, you can’t tell me a story.

The big news, as far as I’m concerned, is that the Washington Post and The Guardian US jointly won the public service award in journalism for publishing the Edward Snowden revelations. Long-time readers of this space know I find Eddie to be a repulsive little character but, just to show what a big man I am, I do allow that he performed an absolutely invaluable and heroic service for this holy land.

I just wish he hadn’t run off to hide in one of the world’s most repressive states after he did it.

For those of you who fret that our great nation is slip-sliding into a fascist, tyrannical police state, take heart in the WaPo/Guardian‘s award. It’s part of a long tradition of American news gatherers winning praise for embarrassing the bejesus out of, well, America. Think back to 1972 when the New York Times copped the prize for printing the Pentagon Papers. It could reasonably be argued that the Times‘s actions harmed Murrica.

Certainly the revelation that our generals, Defense Department officials, and even the President himself had been lying through their teeth about our ill-conceived war in Southeast Asia helped hasten the general populace’s demand that we get the hell out of there. In other words, the publishing of the Pentagon Papers just might have prevented our great country from maintaining its perfect score in the Mighty Nations at War League.

Now, gosh dang it, Murrica’s got that tainted 12-1 mark (not including our record in little exhibition excursions like Grenada).

Anyway, the Buck Turgidsons of the Pentagon in 1972 would have given half the medals off their chests to prevent the NYT from publishing Daniel Ellsberg’s photocopied documents. Instead, the Times got laurels.

From "Dr. Strangelove...."

Bomb The New York Times!

If America was a fascist state back then, it was a lousy one. Old Adolf H. would have called us a bunch of pansies.

Funny thing is, it’s more likely that invertebrate publishers are more responsible for quashing the free press than all the iron-fisted generals, FBI agents, and presidents combined. In 1966 Harrison Salisbury was the only American reporter resourceful enough to slip into Hanoi. His subsequent series of stories revealed that US Air Force bombs were hitting hospitals and schools and killing civilians. The Pulitzer jury the next year voted to award him their prize. The Pulitzer board of directors nixed Salisbury’s award because they didn’t want to risk the ire of the Pentagon and President Johnson.

The same type of thing could have happened this year. The Far Right would have us believe the Obama Administration is chock-full of jack-booted Nazi lesbian abortionists. Funny, though, how that despotic gang let the Pulitzer committee recognize the Snowden articles.

They must have been too busy having sex orgies in the Oval Office.

And the Pulitzer peeps aren’t even cowering in fear of the Obama Reich.

Some fascist state.

Anyway, huzzah for the Pulitzer committees, for the Washington Post and The Guardian US, and for Edward Snowden (even if he is a weird little fker). I dig my press free.

Happy Tax Day

Here’s an item that ought to make your red cells sizzle this AM. Apparently, the extremely profitable National Football League does not pay federal taxes.

That’s right; the org. that administers a $10 billion-a-year operation and whose chief profiteer, Roger Goodell, makes a cool $44 million a year, does not turn over any of that lettuce to the feds. This despite the fact that many of the NFL’s franchises play their knee-breaking, cranium-shattering games in palatial stadia bought and paid for by you and me, the people.

Just to clarify: the individual teams do indeed pay taxes on their kingly revenues. It’s the NFL office that doesn’t fork it over to the taxman. Still, we’re talking some hefty scratch that could be going to things like rebuilding Interstate Highway bridges, say, or fixing the ACA online sign-up system. The NFL office’s yearly take amounts to nearly $200 million in dues from its 32 teams plus whatever cuts it gets from licensing fees and other squeezes of the avg. football fan.

Total US tax bill: zero.

Football

Money From Heaven — Tax-Free!

You may wonder why. The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville explains: The NFL is a nonprofit. Yep. Just like Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County or WFHB’s parent, Firehouse Broadcasting. No lie.

What, you wanna argue with that? You think nonprofit status should only apply to crunchy, goo-goo, liberal-socialist outfits that, y’know, help people?

Pshh. What country do you think you live in?


Scary Hot Air

A Profession Of Fear

I haven’t been moved much at all about all the recent news about government spying. You know, the NSA playing canasta with all our emails and the State Department eavesdropping on the belching and scratching of selected world leaders.

Characters from "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show"

I suppose that’s because I’ve studied so much of the second half of the 20th Century in general and the the 1960s in particular. For that matter, I could have been studying the Jacobean Era of British history (the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth centuries) and felt the same way about things.

Those in power have been spying on those without it since humans first started discussing things sotto voce. And governments have been prying into each others’ affairs forever.

Information is the most valuable currency human beings possess. If you’re thinking there was some grand and wonderful time when powerful people folded their hands and played nice in regard to keeping their noses out of other people’s business then you are a far, far more trusting soul than I am.

Others, though, are up in arms over Guardian newspaper and Wikileaks scoops, as well as the revelations made by former spook Edward Snowden who, if you’ll recall, is now hiding away safely in that very model of openness and candor, Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The PEN American Center recently released a report that a significant number of writers in this holy land are feeling more than queasy about what they commit to paper or the LCD screen. Some, in fact, are beginning to censor themselves. US spying efforts, the report claims, “…are having a tangible and chilling effect on writers….”

The report opens with this graphic:

From PEN American Center

Really? Honestly? PEN American Center says it surveyed more than 520 member writers to come to this conclusion. That means some 170 of that 520 who earn their daily bread by flinging words around and are so dedicated to the vocation that they pay annual PEN membership dues have been made bunny-rabbit scared by the possibility that some grown up frat boys in the FBI or CIA are giggling over their sex messaging as we speak.

Writers are the people we depend on for information about secret wars and industrial poisonings. They tell us about sweetheart deals, legislative payoffs, and clandestine entanglements.

Who else could tell us about the Koch Brothers or ALEC or even the fabulous new DePaul University basketball arena being built with a huge infusion of city funds while Chicago public schools are being closed left and right?

TV news doesn’t do this for us, it being too busy worrying about Miley Cyrus’s tongue and where it’s been.

Cyrus

This Doesn’t Take Guts

Going head to head with the big boys in power takes guts. Your state legislator isn’t going to hire you to be his publicist after you’ve made a name for yourself whistling fouls on statehouse malfeasances. Corporate vice presidents of communications might look askance at applications for copywriting positions submitted by card-carrying muckrackers.

We expect guts from our print reporters and other writers.

Now PEN American Center tells us fully one-third of them lacks said viscera.

Here’s my advice to all those writers who confess that US spying is making them quake in their boots: Quit.

Yup. Get out of the business. We don’t need you. Go get a job running the new employee orientation program at some hospital. Sell some real estate. Manage a dentist’s office. Do something. But don’t tell me you’re a writer. Because you’re not.

Gossip columnist Walter Winchell once wrote, “Red Smith was asked if turning out a daily column wasn’t quite a chore. ‘Why no,’ dead-panned Red. ‘You simply sit down at the typewriter, open up your veins, and bleed.'”

Smith, by the way, was a sports columnist. Writing, even for those in the gossip and sports rackets, takes courage. You’re exposing yourself, something you’re taught not to do from the moment you step into your kindergarten classroom.

My guess is the 170 or so writers who told PEN American Center how jittery they are over government lick-spittlers’ prying never really subjected themselves to the vital process of exposing themselves through their written words.

So I suggest to writers whose teeth are chattering because some computer geeks are accumulating email metadata that they ought to find a gig that doesn’t keep them awake at night.

Hot Air

The State Of The Prez

Now and again I feel I have to defend Barack Obama before my Far Left/Radical/Anarchist friends and acquaintances.

Republicans, Me Party-ists, professional paranoiacs, and others may portray the Prez as the second coming of Karl Marx/Joseph Stalin/Osama bin Laden (or even ObL himself), but the rational among us know that Obama is about as centrist as anyone can be. He is, it can be said, a human gyroscope, spinning on a tightrope pulled on by the ghosts of Andrew Breitbart and Howard Zinn.

As such, he infuriates both ends of the political spectrum, much as our previous hyper-centrist Democratic president, Bill Clinton, did.

Here’s an irony: both the Far Left and the Far Right call Obama a fascist.

Mussolini HQ

Italian Fascist Party Headquarters, 1934

Anyway, my lefty sisteren and brethren become apopleptic every once in a while in reaction to some sin the Obama administration has committed. For instance, the F-word (not that one; this one) was dropped indiscriminately when Edward Snowden was flitting around the world looking for a country that is notorious for its news media repression where he could find freedom. It was the Obama Fascist State, of course, that’d driven the delightful young man to seek asylum in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Natch, I think describing Barack Obama as a fascist is way over the top. That’s because I read books and they tell me about people who have been real, honest-to-gosh fascists in this cruel world.

Apparently, some people believe the word fascist means anyone you don’t agree with.

So, I feel compelled on occasion to defend Barack Obama (and myself) against charges that he’s the worst human being since Dr. Mengele. I did, after all volunteer for the Obama primary campaign in Kentucky during the 2008 election season. I, in my miniscule way, helped get this fascist elected. I had, I try to convey to my angry interlocutors, the best of intentions. Honest.

Make no mistake: I’ve been disappointed by much of what Obama has done as this holy land’s Kenyan-in-Chief. I wanted single-payer universal health care. I wanted the Goldman Sachs stink washed out of the world’s economy. I wanted the speeding train of privatization slowed down (at least). I could scream while pounding my fists on the sidewalk, as others do, that Obama betrayed me.

I won’t though, because I understand that no matter how much I loathe what the Far Right and the Me Party-ists stand for, they still deserve to get much of their way as part of the normal give and take of a democratic republic. Not only does Barack Obama understand that as well, he realizes, too, that he cannot govern unless he throws bones to those he profoundly disagrees with. And he has.

BHO

Tightrope Walker

It occurs to me, ergo, that any time a huge swath of the American public is deliriously happy with a Prez, somebody’s getting roundly screwed.

It also occurs to me that any Prez who is roundly despised by both ends of the spectrum just might be doing a bang-up good job.

Your Daily Hot Air

Sue Me, Sue You Blues

I realize we’re a litigious nation and the smartest financial decision most of us could ever make is to be hit by a bus, but things are going a bit too far.

◗ George Zimmerman dodges a bullet and rather than being content with his kiss on the cheek by Seminole county prosecutors and that Florida jury, he now wants to sue those evildoers who consider him a gun-totin’, self-aggrandizing, Michelin-Man boob. Or, more specifically, a race-profiling, self-appointed neighborhood marshal who didn’t have the minimum amount of sense needed to avoid getting his beak busted and his head clunked by a guy he felt like stalking on a dark street. All of which, BTW, he is.

Zimmerman

Who, Me?

◗ Same with Asiana Airlines. One of its jets goes down, followed by questions about the suitability of its pilots to actually, y’know, land a 777, and that outfit, too, wants to haul people into court.

What next? Is suspected Boston marathon blaster Dzhokhar Tsarnaev going to shag a process server on the manufacturer of those pressure cookers for making their products explodable?

◗ Oh wait, this is next: some obsessively-fapping doofus is suing Apple in order to force the company to install porn filters on all its home porn theate… I mean, computers. The guy sez he wouldn’ta become addicted to porn had he not accidentally typed in the name of a porn site one day and one of Apple’s finest hunks of machinery actually let him see pix of naked ladies, et cetera.

Shakespeare was right.

Warriors & Peace (And Other Pretenders)

I don’t have a vote but if I did I’d nix Eddie Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Guardian UK Photo

Snowden

Just as I’d have nixed the following prize winners:

  • Barack Obama, 2009: Won because he wasn’t George W. Bush.
  • Yasser Arafat, 1994: Guerrilla warrior who eventually signed a toothless peace agreement.
  • The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, 1988: An army.
  • Lech Walesa, 1983: Won because he wasn’t communist.
  • Mother Teresa, 1979: Rabidly anti-birth control.
  • Anwar Sadat & Menachem Begin, 1978: Longtime warriors who stopped fighting because they got old.
  • Henry Kissinger, 1973: The Dark Prince of Carpet Bombing.

Nixon/Kissinger

“The Peace Prize? Me?”

The abovementioneds cheapened the award for all those who actually led lives of peace.

As for Snowden, it appears he fancies himself the star of an espionage thriller, being played out in real time and in real locations, sort of an Ian Fleming/John LeCarre-inspired reality show.

If we’re so hot to give him a prize, lets just send him a couple of comp tix to the International Spy Museum with a note saying, “Thanks for exposing what any of us with a lick of intelligence could have assumed was going on in the first place.”

[Pencil Update: Early on, when the Snowden affair first broke, I wrote that I might tend to agree with Steve Wozniak that the NSA leaker was the moral equivalent of Daniel Ellsberg. I take that back. Ellsberg had the spine to remain in this country and say, essentially, “Bring your ‘justice’ down on me. I did what I had to do.” Snowden, as we speak, remains hiding in a Moscow airport.]

Blood Money

The human capacity for assholiness continues to astound.

Juror B37, thankfully, has now decided writing a book about her days on the George Zimmerman panel just might not be the most exquisite idea ever conceived.

We have no idea what Juror B37’s real name is; let’s just refer to her herewith as Miss Ghoulish Profiteer Off Murder.

CNN Screengrab

Pulp Nonfiction

At risk of putting myself in a position of not having any books to sell, your faithful bookseller (me) has now added Juror B37’s potential book to the list of tomes he (I) will not sell.

So far, here’s the Go-buy-it-somewheres-else roll of honor:

  • Anything by Glenn Beck.

Book Cover

  • James O’Keefe’s Breakthrough.
  • Anything written by or on behalf of Geo. Zimm.
  • And now, the so-far aborted instant classic by Miss GPOM.

Apparently, a Twitter campaign led to B37’s literary (cough) agent’s office being inundated with messages not to go ahead with the project. The agent responded by saying, Golly gee, maybe I hadn’t oughtta rep this stuff.

I will applaud neither Miss GPOM nor her agent for finally realizing that their first impulse was — shall we say? — majorly fked.

Runaround Sue

Your Daily Hot Air

Imperfect Hero

Computer patriarch Steve Wozniak told CNN’s journalist-manqué Piers Morgan the other day that the secret-spiller who blabbed that the NSA is trawling through yours and my phone and interwebs records, purportedly for the purpose of looking for bad guys, is the moral and heroic equivalent of Daniel Ellsberg.

Wozniak

Steve Wozniak (photo by Nik Harrison)

Now, Ellsberg was one of my great heroes back when I was an idealistic (and insufferable) teen rebel. Now that I’m an old man rebel, Ellsberg still holds an honored spot in my pantheon. (And I’m still insufferable.)

Anyways, I’m tempted to agree with Wozniak. Edward Snowden did indeed perform a patriotic service by revealing the NSA’s spook methodology. If the bosses of my gummint are eavesdropping on my conversations or peeping in my garage windows, I want to know about it. Even if they are protecting me from 9/11: The Sequel.

Look, I have no desire to have skyscrapers collapse on top of me (and the way things are going here in B-Town, our heretofore quaint town square ought to be ringed with supertalls by the start of the next IU semester.) Still, if the Feds are honestly trying only to protect us, I want to know how often G-men are going to be rifling through my folded underwear.

Underwear Drawer

Secret Drawers

Guaranteed, there’ll always be one or two true-believer pencil-pushers who want to expand the spy ops to swallow up anybody they disagree with politically or whom they feel might not worship god properly. As long as we know what mechanisms they have in place to harass us, we can at least pretend to resist.

All that said, this Snowden character sure gives me the willies. From his premature Army discharge to his selfie-addicted girlfriend (whom he suddenly bolted from when the story broke) to his habit of wearing a red hood when he logs on to his interwebs browser, he just seems like a guy who sees life more as a histrionic graphic novel than, well, reality.

He calls himself a “spook” and says he’s been spying all his adult life which is like a guy bragging that he’s a member of the Mafia. Real spooks and real mobsters rarely have the inclination to call attention to their job descriptions.

His globe-trotting odyssey keeping him one step ahead of teed-off cops and prosecutors seems a bit overkill-ish. He says he can’t bear the idea that he lives in a country that’s a nest of spies, then he hides out in Hong Kong and, now, Moscow. Honestly? He wants to couch surf in China and Russia to get away from spies?

What’s next — he wants to get a job at McDonald’s because he’s worried about Americans’ eating habits?

None of Snowden’s weirdnesses, in any case, should detract from the importance of what he has revealed. He’s a hero for blowing the whistle. But he’s Daniel Ellsberg with a lot of baggage.

Daniel Ellsberg

No Baggage

When all is said and done, though, I shouldn’t care about the baggage, only the revelations.

The Plot To Oust Obama

It may not surprise you to know that the psychotics who run World Net Daily love this whole NSA domestic spying story.

Their take, natch, is that President Obama, channeling his inner Hitler, spends all his days and nights listening to phone conversations of honest, law-abiding Murricans, hoping to put the screws to Tea Party-ists, militia members, and other pathologically bent individuals.

They’re certain, of course, that Obama’s Secret Black Shirts will be rounding up all gun-fondling, god-fearing, Flat Earthers long before his eight year Reich comes to an end.

Eavesdropping

And they’re not gonna be marched into re-education camps without a fight, god help them.

If they had any sense, they’d wish with all their hearts that Obama actually was listening in on their conversations. Nothing could drive him from office quicker than suffering their paranoiac prattle for anything more than three and a half seconds. He’d be pulling his hair out and bouncing around the Oval Office like Daffy Duck if subjected to (what passes for) their logic.

In fact, perhaps this whole NSA deal is a clandestine operation conjured by the likes of Chuck Norris, Alex Jones, James O’Keefe, and other stars of the Right Wing bedlamite firmament. They know that if the Prez does indeed monitor their respective audience’s jabberings, he’ll be carted away from the White House in a straightjacket before they get to discussing which canned goods they should stock up on for the coming apocalypse .

Who sez Me Party-ists are stupid?

Your Daily Hot Air

Paranoia

It always happens in these cases of pack journalism.

We learn far more than we ever need to know about trivial things and far less about the important stuff.

Case in point: We now know that Edward Snowden‘s girlfriend calls herself a “pole-dancing superhero” and that she’s a compulsive selfie. We’ve also discovered that she’s a blogger who uses ultra-flowery language that would embarrass an emotionally overwrought high school sophomore.

Mills

Lindsay Mills

For instance, the girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, wrote the other day, “My world has opened and closed all at once. Leaving me lost at sea without a compass…. Surely there will be villainous pirates, distracting mermaids, and tides of change in this new open water chapter of my journey.”

Yikes! No wonder Snowden took it on the lam halfway around the world.

Disney Mermaids

Dangerous Disney Characters

The inspiration behind this ejaculation of purple prose is the furor surrounding Snowden’s revelation that it was he who blew the whistle on the US National Security Agency’s data harvesting programs that are either:

  • The realization of our worst nightmares that George Orwell’s fictional “1984” has become fact

or

  • No big deal.

Funny thing is, even Snowden’s name seems to have sprung from the keyboard of a bodice-ripping romance novelist. And then Edward kissed me, his masculine yet gentle lips brushing against mine, his strong yet sensitive arms holding me close, then letting me go long before I wished for freedom from them. He stroked my tear-stained cheek and said ‘Farewell, my darling.’ With nary another word, he picked up his valise and walked out of my life forever.

BTW: Mills actually employed one of those lacrimose images when she told the world that she was typing on a “tear-stained keyboard” in the wake of Edward’s escape from the federal government’s spooks this month.

Book Cover

Well, hell, there are millions of emo-junkie bloggers and poets in this world and I don’t mean to belittle them and Lindsay Mills (well, not too much) but there’s only one Edward Snowden. We still know far too little about him and, far more importantly, we know next to nothing about the clandestine operations he has revealed.

And that’s precisely why I haven’t yet figured out whether I should be up in arms about this whole affair or just chalk it all up to the Republicans once again trying to sully the image of our first foreign-born, communist president.

One voice in my head sez that I don’t like the idea of fed spooks listening in on each and every one of my communications, up to and including the voices in my head. The overriding concern of guys in power is to stay in power and they’ll use every sneaky trick in the book to remain there. If that means my Constitutional right to privacy isn’t worth the parchment it’s written on, then that’s the way it’s going to be.

On the other hand, what kind of rational observer can expect to keep her or his electronic transmissions a secret in this day and age of Google and Facebook where, for instance, we can learn instantaneously the progress of the bowel functions of public officials who’ve undergone recent appendectomies. Look, Walmart, PepsiCo, and ConAgra know more about you and me than any army of government moles and plants could ever find out.

Spy vs. Spy/Mad Magazine

Everybody’s Doing It

Here are the two extremes of reaction to PRISM and other hijinks committed by the secret agents of the United States of America:

  • At this very moment, a government spy is listening in on my call to my doctor’s office to schedule an appointment regarding my ingrown toenail
  • The democratically-elected officials of this great land would never, ever violate my sacred rights.

Holders of either stance are delusional.

Some 310 million people live in this holy land. They send more than 10 billion text messages daily. The number of phone calls we make each day also numbers in the billions. It would take at least 310 million spies to monitor our daily typed or verbal chats with Aunt Debbie, the gas company, and the chick who works in the cubicle down the hall whom we’re convinced is hot for us.

So, yeah, the feds aren’t listening analog-ically (now there’s a tortured coinage for you) but, apparently, they’ve developed sinister logarithms that can cull the bad guys out from among us, simply by highlighting key words and phrases. Then an individual can be assigned to listen to a potential terrorist’s rants and raves for a few weeks or months.

I call them sinister because, conceivably, a naïf such as I could inadvertently type the word-combo angry, explosive, god, and federal building in the same message and be put on a terrorist watch list. Then the bastards would be able to learn all about my ingrown toenail.

Product

Incontrovertible Evidence

To that end, my radical lawyer pal Jerry Boyle has passed along a helpful faux message we all can type, in part or in toto, into our smart phones or on Facebook, just to mess with The Man. Here it is:

Hey! How’s it going? I’m all right.

My job is so shitty I wish could overthrow my boss. It’s like this oppressive regime where only true believers in his management techniques will stay around. I work marathon-length hours and he’s made all these changes that have made it the worst architecture firm to work at in Manhattan. Like he moved the office to the Financial District and fired my assistant. She was the only one who knew where the blueprints were! I need access to those blueprints to complete my job! F my life, right? And he keeps trying to start all these new initiatives to boost revenue, but seriously we just need to stick to what we do best. There’s only one true profit center. I seriously feel ready to go on strike at any second.

I just read this article about how these free radical particles can cause the downfall of good health and accelerate aging. These could actually cause death to millions of Americans. If these particles are flying around undetected everywhere, does that mean we’re all radicalized?

Have you seen the second season of Breaking Bad? I just finished it. I couldn’t believe that episode where they poison the guy with ricin! That was the bomb! I won’t say any more because I don’t want to reveal the earth-shattering events to come.

Oh! So I’ve been planning a big trip for the summer. I’m thinking of visiting all of the most famous suspension bridges in the United States. So probably like the Golden Gate Bridge, The Brooklyn Bridge, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. I’m gonna bring my younger brother and I know he’ll want to go to bars, so I’m thinking of getting him a fake drivers license, but I hope that doesn’t blow up in my face.

Okay, I gotta run! I’m late for flight school. I missed the last class where we learn how to land, so I really can’t miss another one. Talk to you later!

Heehee! It’s chock-full of just about every alarm-bell word or concept that might give any good NSA desk jockey a case of raging priapism. Let’s all do it! Then we’ll all be a nation of suspects. As is the case with any label, if everyone’s a suspect, no one’s a suspect.

Secret Agent Man

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