While he isn’t exactly friendly to the free market point of view, you have to hand it to Oliver Stone, at least he’s consistent in his criticism of presidents who overstep their constitutional boundaries.
During a recent interview, Stone, who directed JFK and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, told the Russia Today that the United States “has become an Orwellian state” and called President Barack Obama a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
While many on the Left have given silent consent to the policies of the current administration, including reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act and robbing Americans of due process through indefinite detention and drone strikes, Stone expressed shock and outrage at Obama, who was supposed to be “a great hope for change.”
“I think under the disguise of sheep’s clothing [Obama] has been a wolf,” Stone told the Russia Today. “That because of the nightmare of the Bush presidency that preceded him, people forgave him a lot.”
He added, “He has taken all the Bush changes he basically put them into the establishment, he has codified them.”
Stone, who has recently co-authored a new book with Peter Kuznick, The Untold History of the United States, showed concern for what contempt President Obama has shown during his first term and what his second term may have in store. He explained, “[W]e are going into the second administration that is living outside the law and does not respect the law and foundations of our system and he is a constitutional lawyer.”
“Without the law, it is the law of the jungle,” Stone noted. “Nuremburg existed for a reason and there was a reason to have trials, there is a reason for due process – ‘habeas corpus’ as they call it in the United States.”
“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” — George Orwell
President Barack Obama was sworn into office for his second term this morning. While his most hardcore supporters are rejoicing, those of us who have watched our civil liberties further deteriorate are incredibly frustrated.
During his campaign in 2008, Obama tried to pass himself off as the “civil liberties candidate.” But during his first term in office, Obama has, as my colleague Jeremy Kolassa noted this morning, doubled down on many of the worst policies of his predecessor — including the PATRIOT Act and FISA — he has, in fact, expanded upon them by signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that included a provision that allows for the indefinite detention of Americans, supporting drone surveillance across the United States, and the targeted killing of American citizens.
Given his record on civil liberties, it’s ironic that Obama was sworn on the anniversary of George Orwell’s death.
George Orwell painted a very scary picture in his novel, 1984. The book was meant as a warning, a dire picture that he wanted people to avoid at all costs. Unfortunately, it looks more and more like some people want to use it as a handbook for how to create their own idea of a perfect state.
The latest is from some law enforcement groups that are asking the United States Senate for a law that will require cellular service providers to store logs of your SMS text messages for two years. You know, just in case they want need those for future criminal cases:
As the popularity of text messages has exploded in recent years, so has their use in criminal investigations and civil lawsuits. They have been introduced as evidence in armed robbery, cocaine distribution, and wire fraud prosecutions. In one 2009 case in Michigan, wireless provider SkyTel turned over the contents of 626,638 SMS messages, a figure described by a federal judge as “staggering.”
Chuck DeWitt, a spokesman for the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, which represents the 63 largest U.S. police forces including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago, said “all such records should be retained for two years.” Some providers, like Verizon, retain the contents of SMS messages for a brief period of time, while others like T-Mobile do not store them at all.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has endorsed the use of unmanned drones over the skies of the Commonwealth:
Police drones flying over Virginia would be “great” and “the right thing to do” for the same reasons they are so effective in a battlefield environment, the state’s chief executive said Tuesday.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, says he is open to any technology that makes law enforcement more productive. The use of drones, which was recently endorsed by the police chiefs of Fairfax County and D.C., would make better use of valuable police resources.
“It’s great,” he said while speaking on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program. “If you’re keeping police officers safe, making it more productive and saving money…it’s absolutely the right thing to do.”
If that isn’t mind-blowing enough, the governor believes that unmanned agents of Big Brother surveying the skies, perhaps armed, is good for civil liberties:
McDonnell added Tuesday it will prove important to ensure the state maintains Americans’ civil liberties, such as privacy, if it adds drones to its law enforcement arsenal.
With technological advances comes the need for greater civil liberties protections to prevent the government from using said technologies against its citizens. Clearly Governor McDonnell sees nothing wrong in arming the state with weaponry that could be used to spy on innocent civilians, or worse, without warrant.
The Motion Picture industry has been a bastion of collectivist thought for decades. Ayn Rand famously tried to help stem the Red Tide in Hollywood when she wrote her classic Textbook of Americanism. I hope to carry on her crusade but to do so in a different way. Instead of focusing on the negative my goal is to bring to light those films from around the globe that exemplify the struggle between liberty and coercion.
That is why I am doing a new weekly feature, rating movies according to if they are pro-liberty or pro-tyranny. Each movie will be given a rating of zero to five “Beacons of Liberty.” A film receives a rating based on how well it exemplifies the ideas of Individualism or brings to light the terrible evils of collectivism. An example of a movie that gets a rating of five “Beacons of Liberty” is the film 1984. That is the film version of George Orwell’s classic novel which shows what the logical conclusion of collectivist thought leads to, which is the total annihilation of the individual. I like all types of movies and I love Liberty so I thought this would be a great way to combine the two together. I’m also working on a zombie screenplay, so I will be reviewing tons of zombie movies in the future as well.
My first review is Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within. It is a Brazilian film that deals with corrupt police and politicians and their ties with organized crime in Rio de Janeiro. I give it fpur “Beacons of Liberty″ because it shines the light on corrupt politicians who use the power of government to buy votes, enrich themselves and use dirty cops to kill individuals to protect their interests. The main character Lt. Colonel Roberto Nascimento discovers the corruption and is forced to confront the system when his best friend and son are shot.
The CIA may soon have a new way to spy on Americans. According to a new report from Wired, the intelligence agency will be using the Internet through electronic devices, including TVs and alarm clocks, to pry into our lives:
Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”
All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance.
“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”
The book 1984 is probably the most pan-partisan book ever. Regardless of your political ideology, the book scares the pants off of you, at least to some extent. If you’re like 99.9% of the population, you blame the another side for taking us closer to the point that Big Brother is reality. Laws that extent surveillance powers are usually the most vehemently debated because of that fear of 1984′s world. Only now, it seems the government’s skipping the new laws and just trying to change the interpretation of current law for the same effect. At least, that’s according to a couple of senators who would, at least in theory, have a clue about what’s going on.
“There is a significant discrepancy between what most Americans – including many members of Congress – think the Patriot Act allows the government to do and how government officials interpret that same law,” wrote the Senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. “We believe that most members of the American public would be very surprised to learn how federal surveillance law is being interpreted in secret. ”
OK, I probably wouldn’t, but that’s because I’m cynical and paranoid when it comes to government, but I suspect that most of my fellow Americans don’t feel the same way as me. So what’s the concern specifically?
The Senators won’t say, exactly, what elements of this secret Patriot Act have them so spooked. But Wyden told Danger Room in May that the so-called “business-records provision” is a major source of concern. It empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation.
Orwell’s classic tale of surveillance and tyranny is a favorite reference for any liberty lover. The fact that Orwell was a socialist is often missed, primarily because he was a socialist who recognized that socialism wasn’t to far removed from tyranny and needed constant attention to not cross that line. Unfortunately, he’s also recognized as something of a prophet for how things have moved over the last couple decades. He got the date wrong, but that was about it.
The latest comes to us from San Francisco of all places. I got this link via a Facebook friend, but it’s worth reading:
San Francisco’s Entertainment Commission will soon be considering a jaw-dropping attack on privacy and free assembly. Here are some of the rules the Commission may adopt for any gathering of people expected to reach 100 or more:
3. All occupants of the premises shall be ID Scanned (including patrons, promoters, and performers, etc.). ID scanning data shall be maintained on a data storage system for no less than 15 days and shall be made available to local law enforcement upon request.
4. High visibility cameras shall be located at each entrance and exit point of the premises. Said cameras shall maintain a recorded data base for no less than fifteen (15 days) and made available to local law enforcement upon request.
From Reason TV a look at how America has drifted, slowly and quietly, into the land of Big Brother: