Friday, January 17, 2014

A Solomonic decision

We salute the wise decision of our President, made under intense pressure from millions of people who know nothing about it,  to remove the retention of bulk metakittehs (or whatever they’re called) from the control of a named Federal behemoth, and adopt what is essentially the Republican solution to everything these days -- shut down the government function and turn it all over to a “third party” -- i.e., private industry, with no holds barred.    Word on the street has it that Twitter, Fox News, and Dick Cheney (adopting a new hobby in retirement) are in a bidding war for the rights to control this juicy prize.

Some naysayers have pointed out that, under the previous protocols, such data was kept in protected compartments, not open to the Internet or anything else, which could be accessed only with special dispensation, by trained personnel who had undergone a rigorous TS//SI clearance process, who had sworn an oath to protect uphold the law, who had submitted detailed justification of a need-to-know, whose personal identifiers are on their every keystroke, and who, in case of abuse, stood at a minimum to lose their clearance  and their job, and quite likely to go to prison as well.  Whereas now, the phone records will become the plaything of twenty-somethings, interns and temps  at some sharp-elbows for-profit company, who, bored on a Friday afternoon, will no doubt be poring over these same records, looking up the numbers of their friends, to see if anything LOL or OMG is going on, and tweeting out their findings over cokes and beers.   But naysayers have been well characterized by a noted philosopher as the “nattering nabobs of negativism”, and we may safely ignore what they say.

Für psychologisch tiefgreifende Krimis,
in pikanter amerikanischer Mundart,
und christlich gesinnt,
klicken Sie bitte hier:

For indeed,  properly understood, the new proposal is win-win.  For while, on the one hand, Americans unanimously proclaim “Keep Your Mitts Off My Metakittehs, Big Government!”, the flip side of this is that every American considers it his or (especially) her birthright, to know all the latest dish about all their fave stars plus the boudoir life of politicians plus Miss Stuck-Up starlet’s actual age and weight, and basically to poke into the affairs of all their BFFs and pseudo, soi-disant BFFs (you won’t be-lieve what she just said about you on the phone!), plus all their boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, girlfriends,  “friends with benefits”, drinking buddies, transgender pals, plus ex-wives ex-husbands soon-to-be-ex wives and about-to-become-very-ex husbands, plus neighbors, relatives, people who owe you money, people you owe money to -- and so forth.  And now, that will all be possible.   For whereas previously, a limited range of data could be squinted at, gingerly, by a professional, under supervision, in the rare case that a genuine terrorist lead should emerge (which happens boringly seldom), now it’ll all be fair game, just like your credit-card numbers at Target;  and the most intimate details of your friends’ private lifes can now be tweeted out to the world in real time and beamed around the world by satellite -- and into outer space.  Soon, tiny green people on Mars will know who you have been trysting with.

This, indeed, is what we are proud to call Freedom.   (Security?  N-n-not so much.)


[Update 18 January 2014]   French readers aren’t buying it.  (I quote the following comments mostly for their enjoyably piquant style.)

Obama rogne les grandes oreilles de la NSA
Quel arrogance, quel outrance de déclarer "on va moins vous espionner mais un peu quand même" !!!
Les oreilles tremblent...On les entend d' ici...
Un pur et évident enfumage...
Obama ne "rogne" rien du tout, dans un pays où les services tirent les ficelles et font un président et non pas l'inverse.
S'il serait sérieux ou s'il n'avait que la moitié du pouvoir nécessaire pour le faire, il nommerait Snowden en chef de la commission destinée à surveiller la NSA.
Cette information ressemble tres fort a une HOLLANDE, c'est a dire une annonce qui n'aura aucun effet car tres difficile a appliquer et meme si cela ce fait, il faudrait au moins deux ans a cause de problemes techniques.
HOLLANDE fait des émules
Foutage de gueule .... Comment y croire ?
La différence? La NSA sous-traitera ces missions au GCHQ britannique qui est son franchisé en Europe.
Sans déconner il n'y a pas plus inféodés aux Etats-Unis que nos politiques européens, qu'est-ce qu'ils ont à craindre d'un François Hollande par exemple? Il ramperait pour qu'Obama lui accorde un peu d'attention (tout comme Sarko à l'époque, il avait les yeux qui brillaient quand il voyait Obama, il était pathétique)... Les Américains (ou Israel) nous demandent de faire la guerre à tel ou tel pays? On obéit sur le champ!
Même nos grands groupes industriels européens obéissent au doigt et à l'oeil aux Américains.

A philological note on that last comment:  I was not previously familiar with that idiom “obéir au doigt et à l'oeil”.  It is reminiscent of the Arabic formula of acquiescence to a request,  `ala l-ra’s wa-l-`ayn  (literally, ‘on the head and the eye’).

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