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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – September 26, 2021 by Tony Wikrent Strategic Political Economy “Rich People Are Leading the Anti-Vaccine Movement — and Experts Have a Theory Why” [Money, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 9-20-21] From 2019, still germane: “Disease experts say the parents least likely to vaccinate their kids live in some of the most afflu […]
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Phillip Glass was bugged

His privacy deserved to be violated because he did this at Occupy Lincoln Center:

“When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again.”

–Bhagavad Gita

Of course, he repeats it three times.

I wuz bugged

Security Expert: All Occupiers Phones were logged.

In light of news that every day the entirety of telecom giant Verizon’s call system records are handed over to the NSA, news that Occupy Wall Street protest attendees’ cellphones were logged should hardly come as a shock. It nonetheless bears noting that cellphone metadata of march and rally participants was likely specifically logged, as security expert Steven Ramdam recently noted. This means that individuals were directly targeted for their engagement with First Amendment-protected activity.

So, let me see if I have this right.  As a result of my coverage of Occupy events in New York City where I went to observe and cover the protests and marches for this blog and exercise my First Amendment Rights, my cell phone was put on a surveillance regime.  Not only that but the phone usually ends up in bed with me at night while I listen to various podcasts and books so I have been literally sleeping with the enemy and depending on what technology they’ve been using, they have been able to record everything that I did or didn’t do there.  Everything that happened in my house has probably been recorded for posterity and stored on a cloud server at the NSA.  I should probably warn the new owners of my old house…

Lovely.

Now, I can imagine a bunch of stupid whip kissers out there thinking that anyone who went to an Occupy event deserved this because nothing bad happens to you if you are obedient and pious.  But I’d like to know if 2nd Amendment assholes who threaten to shoot the shit out of anyone who threatens to take away their guns are similarly targeted and if not, why not.

Someone has some explaining to do, preferably in front of a Congressional committee.

Lest we forget who we are talking about, this picture was taken at the peak of the Occupation of Zuccotti Park in October 2011.  These are the people who were bugged.  We’re not talking about lice infested anarchists.  We’re talking about ordinary Americans who went to the park on a nice October day to check things out and talk to other like minded people about economics.  For this, we’re not entitled to privacy.  It just goes to show how powerful Occupy was to the ruling elite and their politicians.  More than ever, I’m glad I went.  I rocked the boat just by showing up.  How many Americans can say that they were considered dangerous enough to be bugged simply because they were there?  The rest of you can hold your manhoods cheap.

Come to think of it, that means Paul Krugman and his wife were probably bugged too but in their case, they’ve always been rabble rousers and trouble makers.

The Obvious Question

Oh my god, the posts are practically writing themselves today.  Here’s what Obama just said about the surveillance mess:

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday offered a robust defense of the government surveillance programs revealed this week, and sought to reassure the public that his administration has not become a Big Brother with eyes and ears throughout the world of online communications.

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Mr. Obama said, delivering a 14-minute answer to two questions about the surveillance programs at an event that was initially supposed to be devoted to the health care law. “That’s not what this program is about.”

So, here’s the question: If we are to believe that nobody is listening to our telephone calls, how would we actually *know* that??  Isn’t it the current policy to not let you have access to that information?  If I recall correctly, you need to go to court to find out if the telecomms have turned over your personal communications to government officials and that in many cases, this has been classified as “state secrets” so you can’t ever really be sure.  To have standing in court, you have to show you were harmed by the surveillance but if you only suspect harm and can’t prove you were surveilled, then you’ll never know the extent to which your communications have been monitored.  Jeez, does the Obama administration think we’re stupid??  Based on the previous two presidential election cycles, yeah, probably.

There are other obvious questions, such as, who decided that the surveillance was “legal” and whose definition are we using when we say it was “limited”?  Then there is the “what are you going to do with information that you accidentally dig up that indicates a citizen has been engaged in questionable activities”?   I’m talking about anything from setting up a secret rendezvous with your mistress, to scoring a dime of pot with your pizza delivery, to meeting up at the local Occupy event* (which isn’t illegal but with the batallions of police around the events, sure feels like you’re doing something wrong)?

The final question I have is will an ordinary citizen who gets ensnared for doing something non-terrorist in nature get the same kind of immunity as the bankers did for destroying the world’s economy?  Just askin’ because otherwise, I’m not sure I’m very sympathetic to any sort of surveillance activity.  If you can’t nail the bankers, who are the biggest domestic and global terrorists around, for anything, you shouldn’t be allowed to listen in on ordinary people doing ordinary human things.

Otherwise, it’s not fair or just, it doesn’t sound like equal access to the law, and the people in charge should be held accountable and/or impeached.

*RD’s Law: The power intrinsic to a legal citizen action is directly proportional to the magnitude of the police presence.