Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Consider Joining the #PhoneFree4th as a Protest Against #NSA Surveillance After Reading This

I happened to catch my first bit of MSNBC in a while last night and there were Lawrence O'Donnell and a cast of normal 'liberal' characters reporting on the 'Edward Snowden on the run' story rather than the substance of any of his revelations about the overreaching of our massive national security state. Maybe they have been discussing those important issues while I haven't been around a television, but everything I've been seeing has been on the intellectual level of a Where's Waldo picturebook.

Read this "Seven Myths About Edward Snowden, NSA Whistleblower" article by Chase Madar in The Nation because it's one of the exceptions. He even includes a bonus myth, "Myth 8: The Democratic Party cares deeply about civil liberties," which ends with the following point:
"...Though the surveillance enjoys support from Democrats and Republicans alike­, the opposition to it is equally bipartisan, with veteran social democrat Representative John Conyers co-sponsoring a bill to rein in the NSA with Tea Party freshman Representative Justin Amash, two ideologically antipodal Michiganders united in defense of civil liberties. Nice Democrats, please know this: the NSA surveillance program will someday be in the hands of a Republican president—will you support it then?"
Would any of us be questioning Edward Snowden's motives and defending the NSA's overreach if George W. Bush were still in the White House? Or if Mitt Romney had been elected?

There is not a whole lot that individual Americans (and "foreigners") can do against the NSA. I suggested a symbolic #PhoneFree4th protest to cut down on the radio chatter for a day. Independence Day seems appropriate. A lot of people on the left and right try to put words into the mouths of the Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on that first July 4th, but can any of us entertain a scenario in which they would recognize or approve of our current national security mania?

Monday, June 24, 2013

50 Things To Do on Independence Day Without Electronic Communication! #PhoneFree4th

Some civil servants are just like my loved ones
They work so hard and they try to be strong
---Talking Heads, "Don't Worry About the Government" (1977) 
I hope that everyone is well along in their plans to turn off their phones and iPads and computers and pagers (does anyone still carry pagers?) on July 4th. It's not that we are concerned about the government's desire and ability to protect us like an older sibling -- a "big brother" to use the older politically-incorrect gender-unneutral formulation. We understand the government's reasons for wanting to know everything about every one of us. And we know that no American government would ever do anything to hurt its own people, no matter who is sitting in the White House and Congress and in dark rooms filled with computer monitors.
It's not that we're protesting against them by switching off on Independence Day. It's that we want to give those poor overworked civil servants of the NSA (and their private-sector helpers with Booz Allen) one single holiday with less radio chatter to help them enjoy their Independence Day as well.

Oh right, so what about the "50 Things To Do on the #PhoneFree4th Without Electronic Communication" tease at the top of this post?  If you can no longer think of 50 things to do without an iGizmo at your side, then you need to turn it off immediately, stick it in a drawer, and go outside without waiting for the Fourth of July. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Give the NSA a break with a #PhoneFree4th

An attitude of supine resignation to universal government surveillance seems to be the dominant tone of every story and editorial that has been written since Glenn Greenwald and  The Guardian made waves with their reporting based on Edward Snowden's leaks about the National Security Agency's Prism program last week.

Well, here's a modest proposal for one small symbolic protest we can make to show our discomfort with these extra-constitutional powers being displayed by the US Government's out-of-control security apparatus. What if we were to take one day, Independence Day, July 4th, to renounce our telephonic and internet umbilical cords and security blankets for 24 hours? There's plenty of time to spread the word about a #PhoneFree4th on  our social media platforms before we turn all our devices off to celebrate our "Freedom"® with fireworks and beer. (Those in other countries who don't have Thursday, July 4th as a holiday, but who may be uncomfortable with the NSA's mandate to spy on "foreigners" might also want to join in.)

Think about the fringe benefits of a #PhoneFree4th: Fewer car accidents from distracted driving, no drunk dialing or butt dialing of phones that have been turned off and packed away for the day, and no calls or emails accepted from those modern 24/7/365 go-getter corporate assholes who think they have the right to bother you with work on a national holiday. If you can't text the one you love, maybe you'll love the one you're with? And -- maybe best of all -- even the bloodshot eyes of the drones working in those soulless windowless cubicles of the NSA and Booz Allen on the Glorious Fourth might get a momentary rest with the reduced volume of calls, texts, tweets, IMs, etc., etc.

And, maybe, freed from the tyranny of the phone and texts and Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and ... and ... for one day, maybe we'll keep our devices turned off (or at least less active) on Friday the 5th and Saturday and Sunday the 6th and 7th as well.

I have 3,300 Twitter followers, so I'm starting this by tweeting a quick link to this post.  If you want to join in, feel free to do the same.