The New Terrapin Gazette
Number 179 6 December, 2010
From here comes this observation: “…what a devil’s bargain electoral democracy is.” Now add this from Sam Harris:
…were democracy to suddenly come to these (Muslim dictatorships), it would be little more than a gangplank to theocracy. …we cannot merely force Muslim dictators from power and open the polls. It would be like opening the polls to the Christians of the fourteenth century.
Understanding The Security Breach And Its Implications
The news media have mistaken the Wikileaks story for a kind of epiphany — the realization that the nexus of politics, jurisprudence, diplomacy and technology has redefined everything and changed the course of history. The result is the creation of a myth for morons.
In this puerile vision of reality, cyber-heroes wielding a powerful talisman will destroy tyranny and injustice. That talisman is to be the inevitable, irrepressible imposition of transparency on officialdom. Because their activities will be subject to unpredictable exposure, leaders at all levels will find it extraordinarily difficult to conspire sub rosa. They will learn the hard way that pulling filthy tricks is dangerous. As secrets become impractical (big ones will be the hardest to keep), democracy will prevail, and mankind will be safe from the plots of villains.
The myth is a morality play inspired by a stunningly naive world-view. Herewith some corrective insights.
Note first that what Julian Assange has done will simply convince the good and bad ruling elites that they must be more rigorous. That means transparency will be reduced, not increased.
You might also ponder the hidden assumption in Assange’s scheme: everybody will be a potential informer. To some, that means virtuous “whistle-blowers” will appear. Others might be reminded of the Ministerium fuer Staatssicherheit (ministry of state security) of the communist regime that ruled the eastern part of Germany and had literally millions of informers. Cuba today depends on the fact that on every block, there is at least one informer (and at least one additional person watching him, ready to inform on him should he fail to inform). Dictatorships depend and thrive on informers. Whether the USA wishes to encourage this cultic practice should be debated.
In any event, Assange has done something that is neither an act of technological genius nor ethical vision. Consider how many people had access to the documents; anything available to three million humans is not a secret. Next note that nobody was making anything like a sincere effort to keep the documents hidden (a big tip of the hat to GB for that link).
Fact: Assange has accomplished almost exactly the opposite of what he claims he wants. Some dim corner of this man’s mind must know this; he is not utterly irrational. What, then, is wrong with him?
Begin with his relationship to the New York Times, partially explained in this piece. Would things be like this if Assange were the person he claims to be?
This newsletter, never content to leave it solely to the major media to interpret and understand, insists that there is more: Assange is a profoundly flawed individual whose deformities render him incapable of acting responsibly.
To be sure, that view of the man begins with a non-rational apprehension. You surely have noticed that some people make your flesh crawl; in spite of a lack of hard evidence, you just know there is something horrid about these individuals. Is it merely the way they look? Is character actually revealed in the face? Is it the way they move their eyes as they speak? Can one detect another person’s inability to repress the behavioral manifestations of a malformed psyche?
Some individuals may be unreadable. Adolf Eichmann was so ordinary-looking that people puzzled over his banker-like demeanor.
That implies that some people can be seen for what they are, and that it is possible to be clever at reading character. Has no one ever said to you, “I figured him for a troublemaker the first time I set eyes on him, and now we have proof”? There are those occasions when you know somehow that you are dealing with a perverse and inadequate, even dangerous, being. The feeling comes over you unbidden, carried by a clue that others will miss (see Gavin de Becker’s excellent book The Gift of Fear).
So it is with this newsletter’s view of Assange: the man is twisted. Take that assertion for what you will, Pilgrims, but do not be surprised that the fellow has been accused of rape.
On a more logical note, understand that Assange actually believes that governments are evil because they are conspiratorial, and that crippling their ability to hide their secrets will cleanse them. He is, in other words, objectively a nutcase.
Secrecy does not automatically imply villainy; the Good Guys have secrets, too. As policies are developed, they go through stages that must remain confidential, lest the result be greeted with hilarity. Sure, bad people plot, but good ones plan. Assange makes no allowances for any of that. Recall that his release of diplomatic cables was anything but selective — he just dumped a mass of information, virtually all of it useless, on the world. That’s the sort of thing done by a vandal, not by a principled exposer of the guilty.
Next realize that Assange has had difficulty holding his organization together, and that he has never let the world see his colleagues. The crusading bringer of light is a controlling publicity hog.
In time, the world will learn more about this freak, and it will become clear that he is a conspiracy theorist and obsessive saboteur, not at all a liberator. You will see. (As this issue goes to press, the world learns that Assange is threatening to reveal some presumably very explosive stuff if anything is done to interfere with him; what a nice fellow, eh? And does this mean that if he is permitted to carry on with his exposures, he will not make those extremely hot files public? More to the point, what does this tactic tell you about Assange?)
Now turn to a few specifics of what he has revealed, and consider the short-term effects. Begin with Hillary Clinton, whose resignation has been called for by a tiny minority of observers. She stands accused of prostituting the diplomatic status of her civil servants. How shocking!
Well, rubbish. Hillary is Hillary, and absolutely no one in the civilized or partially-civilized world should be surprised by her instructions to the Foreign Service. This is the woman who, when it was revealed that she had been bribed, simply ignored the charge (you do recall her “investment” in commodities, don’t you?). When records of her company were subpoenaed, she dismissed the demand as impossible to meet — and weeks later “found” the “lost” documents on top of a filing cabinet. This is the woman who, as part of her routine political activities, hired private detectives to get the dirt on Republicans. This is the woman who, clinging to a political figure who could take her to astronomical heights, refused to divorce the rascal; his habitual/addictive misbehavior humiliated her and her daughter, but she coped and endured out of a lust for power, prestige and status. In pursuit of her goals, she again resorted to private investigators to pay off, warn off and blackmail her husband’s doxies into silence. Her political fund-raising has never been fully examined, in spite of many hints that there is dirt under the carpet. In a position of influence (First Lady), she exhibited corrupt behavior by using the IRS for political purposes, and mismanaging White House travel funds.
Hillary is one tough cookie, and not above much. If you are surprised by her decisions as secretary of state, consider that you should not have cut yourself off from all news for the last two decades.
The Wikileaks revelations mean next to nothing to Hillary, and of course she won’t resign. Obama can not afford it, she would resist it ferociously, and the Democrats — wounded as they are — would be devastated by the horror of the event. Besides, everybody knows that diplomats have for centuries been exactly what they pretend not to be, so there will be a muted response followed by…silence. It’s literally no big deal. Around the world, diplomats and politicians are (privately) yawning in boredom.
Yes, there will be posturing, and feigned outrage, and so on. The USA’s enemies will throw fits, while the diplomats of most nations will be neither surprised by the revelations nor candid about their view of them.
And the long-term outcome? If government is ever reformed, people like Assange will play a tiny and peripheral role in the process. Genuine reform must be based on sheer common sense, beginning with fiscal prudence; making it difficult for people in power to enjoy confidentiality will not help. If secrecy is to be torn asunder, it should be done selectively, exposing indicted suspects.
Assange would reply that if you don’t know there is a problem, you can’t investigate; he would insist that he can provide the necessary leads. Nonsense. The nation has plenty of leads and has done little about them. For just one example, it is known that Holder’s justice department reeks, but the attempt to clean up that pesthole is hardly under way. For another, everybody knew Rangel simply refused to pay his taxes, but nobody scolded him for well over a decade (what would have happened to you, if you had played his game?). See, as well, the item below on Obama’s refusal to act in defense of the Republic. The nation’s reckoning is hideously backlogged.
The public and the government know where and how to look for dirt. Both lack the will to move forcefully, the former because of fatigue and distractions, and the latter because of concern over image, status, and power.
If you want reform, join the Tea Party. It’s not hated for nothing.
President Obama Has Ignored His Oath Of Office
In Arizona, a part of the state that borders with Mexico is literally occupied by aliens; US citizens are warned by their government not to enter. It is a zone eighty miles deep and it runs along much of the state’s southern border. In Texas, it is intolerably dangerous to live in some parts of the state because alien criminals have overrun and control it. In effect, the USA has ceded some of its territory to invaders.
It would be one matter if the nation were trying to re-establish control over these areas, but it is quite another — for no such effort is being made. The national government is cowed by the absurdly improbable possibility that some unknown number of Hispanic voters might be angered if the authorities tried to drive the armed and dangerous invaders out and keep them out.
This is not just ordinary malfeasance. It is not yet more political correctness taken to an absurd extreme. It is not a temporary lapse of will or reason; it is not a delay in the exertion of the sovereignty of the nation.
It is volitional, malefic criminality.
Let those who disagree make their case. They will have to contend with irrefutable logic.
The administration has made its choice, and that decision makes it a literal enemy of the nation. The long-term tacit surrender of this much territory to an occupying alien power is manifest hostility to the common weal.
The president has said that he will not secure the southern border until and unless he gets legislation that meets his requirements; that legislation will confer some sort of amnesty on an unspecified number of people who are not legally present in the USA.
That refusal to exercise the requisite authority of his office violates the presidential oath of office. It weakens the constitution because it denies the nationhood of the Republic. Those who refuse to defend the native soil cannot claim to defend the constitution.
No president should be permitted to play politics with the national sovereignty. Yet Obama trades in terror, assuring that US citizens fear for their lives because he explicitly refuses to see to the integrity of the borders and the security of the land.
This newsletter never believed Obama would be this cold, manipulative and inhumane. His cynical, Machiavellian immorality is shocking; it reveals him as a genuine alien. His actions give the lie to his proclamations of patriotism.
To Obama, the real villains here are the governor of Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and those who agree with them, and the members of Congress who oppose amnesty.
Having identified his enemies, the former community organizer is dealing with them as his primitive instincts dictate. “Do as I wish you to, or the pain will continue,” he says. “I won’t help you by doing my job unless you obey me.”
The ethical distinction between Obama and a Mafia thug is razor-thin.
Obama the extortionist has broken faith with the electorate. His betrayal both endangers the public and besmirches the honor of the United States of America. Indeed, he is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.
J. C. Maxwell was the physicist-mathematician most responsible for making electrical and electronic technology possible. If there is an exception to the statement that all scientific knowledge is conditional, Maxwell may well have provided it. While some consider a correction of Einstein’s calculations necessary, Maxwell’s equations remain unquestioned after one hundred forty-eight years. It came as a surprise to this newsletter to learn that he was also a poet.
In politics there is usually a payoff, and this looks like at least part of one. Holder must go.
This is what the nation got when Obama delivered change. When investors bet that things will go down the drain, they put their money where it will do the least good for the economy.
Al Gore invented it, and now the government wants to appropriate it. First lies, then seizure….
All the rubbish that needs cleaning up, and this is what the administration thinks is important. These people are not concerned about the health of children — they are control junkies.
As governments seek to hide things that we all know are going on, the techies and nerds try to figure ways to slip free of the grasp of politicians, military types, bureaucrats and censors of all stripes. On balance, that’s good.
Everybody should be able to see at once that Obamacare is unconstitutional. That makes this loss disappointing, regardless of its preliminary nature.
Fear and loathing will ensue as the House ends its fascination with AGW. Ignoring an irrational myth is, for some people, tantamount to heresy/treason.
Why is it almost always the case that the courts seem to have a tenuous grip on rationality?
Yes, you are correct: Assange and Obama are alike. Each believes he can get his way by threatening to do more harm.
The staff of The Lynx Bulletin expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Arch Linux (yes, it’s back), Emacs, Screen, and Firefox.
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