Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Obama's Parting Gifts

A Not Funny Cartoon

A lot of folks are raising the specter of Trumpian assaults on speech and press and so on. I've thought for a while that the outrage is of sorta questionable sincerity since Obama had long since put the tools in place for a repressive regime.  

Don't get me wrong, I understand that Bush vastly expanded NSA and government snooping generally but thing is that once a President is in office for a bit, say a day, all of those nasty things become his.  So it was Obama's NSA.  Other areas of repression include his pursuit of leakers and journalists who dared to publish.  In any event, I came across a relevant series of lectures at Columbia Law School.  I down loaded the three lectures for later reading and include the links here.  The thing that caught me was this from the article that pointed me to them:
Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia University, gave a series of lectures in which he discussed the idea of “fastening the procedures of totalitarianism on the substance of democratic society.” Moglen’s lectures were mostly concerned with surveillance by the National Security Agency — the title of his talks was “Snowden and the Future” — but his idea applies to other procedures the U.S. government has recently become fond of. Few are more important than targeting whistleblowers and journalists, and Obama has begun the fastening process.

It is a phrase worth repeating, it resonates because of it's truth:

“fastening the procedures of totalitarianism on the substance of democratic society”

That is what Obama did, that is what every well meaning Chief Executive does when they make things "safer" for us.

The lectures ...

The question is not whether Trump would ever exploit such potential abuses, the question is whether he will make them unuseable by future Presidents.  I am not hopeful.

PLUG: If you have an interest in matters of privacy and free speech then I encourage you to visit Popehat.com.  The folks there write eloquently on these topics and more.  In fact I am going to wax eloquent shortly on some points that one of the contributors there, Ken White, made concerning privacy, government snooping and other issues that should be uniting for hippies and righties and basically all Americans.