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Belmont Club

No Exit

June 23rd, 2013 - 5:08 pm

Edward Snowden heading for Ecuador reminds me of the roaches checking into a roach motel. It’s hard to see how he can survive on a long-term basis in country within such easy physical reach of the United States. The Atlantic says “Snowden could be following in the footsteps of another high-profile whistleblower, Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for an entire year after Ecuador offered to protect him from extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over alleged sex crimes.”

In recent years, Assange and Wikileaks have presented an especially golden opportunity for [President] Correa to take a stand against U.S. foreign policy, which he has said he finds “questionable.” In explaining his rationale for granting Assange asylum, Patino, the foreign minister, said that if Assange leaves the embassy, he could also be extradited to the U.S., where he might face “political persecution.”

But no politician, especially a Third World politician, stays in office forever. One day Correa will be gone or find himself short of dollars. And then he’ll remember what’s stashed away in his embassy in London or in a safe house in Quito or Guayaquil. And on that day the truism “¡Tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos!” will be never so true.

Looking down from the hills at Quito

Looking down from the hills at Quito

Guayaquil from the air

Guayaquil from the air

A cynical man might think the Chinese have washed their hands of him; and so have the Russians. They’re sending him onward to Ecuador where the beaches are fine and the mountains are close to the city. How’s he ever going to go down to the store to buy a bag of groceries again? The man next to him might be a SEAL who swam ashore the night before or walked down from the hills, waiting to tap him on the shoulder and bring him in for the greatest of all crimes: making a fool out of the incumbent.

The problems of the modern rebel are illustrated by KTLA’s story on the Last Email of Michael Hastings, sent to them, just hours before he died. He wanted to get “off the radar”. Hastings wrote:

Hey … the Feds are interviewing my “close friends and associates.” Perhaps if the authorities arrive “BuzzFeed GQ”, er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.

Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the radar for a bit.

According to eyewitnesses near the crash, no one was following Hastings as he hurtled through LA in his high performance car. But you can’t get off the radar at 100 miles per hour; not even at 200 miles an hour. The modern surveillance box is all around you, not behind you. And where was he going anyway?

Snowden’s basic problem — and perhaps ours too — is that he has nowhere obvious to go. Does it really make sense to turn on the NSA if the only place to hide is with China, Russia or Chavez’s allies? Whatever one may think of Barack Obama, it is doubtful to imagine that the Chinese or Russians are more libertarian.

How does it go? “I’m fighting for freedom. Onward to Moscow!”

Over the last 60 or so years, we’ve traded the promise of safety for freedom, not simply in practice but in principle.  Cass Sunstein, who was the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under Barack Obama until 2012 wrote about how we would be much better off if we forgot about “negative rights” and focused on the “positive rights”. How much nicer it was to be fed rather than to be free.

In what sense is the money in our pockets and bank accounts fully ‘ours’? Did we earn it by our own autonomous efforts? Could we have inherited it without the assistance of probate courts? Do we save it without the support of bank regulators? Could we spend it if there were no public officials to coordinate the efforts and pool the resources of the community in which we live? Without taxes, there would be no liberty. Without taxes there would be no property. Without taxes, few of us would have any assets worth defending. [It is] a dim fiction that some people enjoy and exercise their rights without placing any burden whatsoever on the public… There is no liberty without dependency….

If government could not intervene effectively, none of the individual rights to which Americans have become accustomed could be reliably protected. [...] This is why the overused distinction between “negative” and “positive” rights makes little sense. Rights to private property, freedom of speech, immunity from police abuse, contractual liberty and free exercise of religion—just as much as rights to Social Security, Medicare and food stamps—are taxpayer-funded and government-managed social services designed to improve collective and individual well-being.

“There is no liberty without dependency.” Sunstein forgot to add, “there is no liberty with dependency” either. Therefore logically there is no liberty at all. I wrote in my pamphlet, Rebranding Christianity, that every right thinking Marxist has known this all along. But so what? We’re just a kind of animal, and a reprehensible kind at that, so ugly that nobody even goes on photo safari to see us unless we’re wearing loincloths or rings through our nose.

The central tenet of Marxism is that humanity is nothing but a chemical accident; that humanity’s self-awareness is an illusion, just as if a rock were able to attain a fleeting sense of its existence. Marxism teaches that this consciousness has led humanity into no end of trouble because it makes humanity imagine it is more than it is.

Aspirations to transcendence make people susceptible to what Marx called “the opiate of the people” – religions like Judaism or Christianity. And religion makes man forget – to his detriment – that he is nothing but a self-aware animal and fills his head with airy visions of heaven, meaning and truth thereby distracting him from his true destiny, which is to eat, consume, get high and have sex to the maximum possible extent. In a word, the illusion of transcendence makes men waste their time and keeps them from fully embracing their true animal nature.

To fix this problem, Marxism undertakes to relocate heaven to earth and give man back his animal life in the form of a Worker’s Paradise. There is nothing original about this plan. The idea of a Perfect Earth was held out by rulers to their subjects long before Islam and even Christianity came on the scene. We hear of it in the story of the Tower of Babel: the vaunting structure that would reach the heavens.

Positive rights. Yeah, man.

The sooner we forget the negative rights, the better off we will be. It’s true we won’t be free, but we were never free to begin with. As I wrote in my pamphlet, “Samuel argued that if we sought a king we would find a tyrant. But Marxism-Leninism did not believe this warning because in the first place man was merely a bag of chemicals, and you could no more oppress humanity than oppress a sack of fertilizer.”

To a significant extent the American experiment was an attempt to discover whether a government could be constructed on the foundation of “negative rights”; where the prime duty of the state was to keep itself unobtrusive and small. But we have filled the universe with government and Snowden will find, as perhaps Hastings found, that you can’t find the liberty we’ve traded for mess of pottage by running away.

Rebranding Christianity for $3.99

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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Top Rated Comments   
I remind my fellow commentors and readers (and you government lurkers as well, God Bless You!) that the whit e hou se website for a period of time had a link to a multi-layered document purporting to be the presi dent's long-form birth certificate. I am a graphic arts professional - one of... oh, at least ten million just in the USA - with extensive experience in using various graphic art applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Reader (think: PDFs) and a few others.

That so-called long form birth certificate was so obviously a cobbled-together forgery - using bits and pieces of text where even INDIVIDUAL words were fabricated from groups of letters existing separately on separate layers - that any first-year graphic design student would see that it was a total fake. If {}bama himself didn't realize it was a fraud, he is even a lot more ignorant than his moments without a teleprompter reveal him to be. I took a look at it, and just the fact that it HAD multiple layers in the computer file shows that it was NOT a SCAN of a 1960-something document. There was no such thing at that time as a multilayered computer document - for it to have multiple layers with bits of text on different layers and bits of background pattern to mask other data on lower layers PROVES it was a fraud, whatever the specific content was. Five or ten minutes examining it showed about fifty items consistent with an amateurish fraudulent fabrication.

A number of folks downloaded the document and saved it. It will re-surface again at some time when maybe a few more people have begun to see the emperor's nakedness. While it sat there on the WH website for some days, it was accepted as credible by the same people who failed to understand how contemptibly fraudulent were the memos Dan Rather used in the attempt to torpedo the candidacy of GWB in the 2004 election.

My sense is that while that WH document is clearly a fraud, it still does not prove or disprove the legitimacy of the Prezzie's birth. It only proves the entire administration has utter contempt for the public, the law, and every constraint that is supposed to apply to our government. But we already knew that.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment

The scene: An airport bar, a couple of weeks ago.

The players: Three American businessmen, one an IT recruiter living in Singapore, one an engineer, and one a sales rep for a medium-sized firm.

IT Recruiter: I decided to go to Asia because politics are looking so ugly in the U.S.

Sales Rep: I've thought about leaving, but where do you go?

Engineer: Yeah, when things go to h--l here, everything goes to h--l.

(Three heads nod in unison, and a couple of people from the end of the bar nod too.)

I've never before seen broad agreement in public on this topic.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Have you noticed how casually, almost unnoticed, Americans have turned the corner and accepted the idea that their government can, does and will do murder on their behalf? All that's necessary is a few muttered lines about "danger" and off they go. Now it's just a game of placing bets on where and how Snowden's life will be snuffed out; even here, nobody expresses the slightest horror at the thought of government by murder. Now Americans know what it was like in Germany in 1933; they see how easy it is to live next-door to a murderer and like it.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (64)
All Comments   (64)
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itellu3times said

"..makes me wonder if the guys who scanned it (badly) did so on purpose."

Ya know if you asked Hawaii " what is it with you - ignorance or apathy about this birth certificate?" Hawaii would probably reply "we don't know and we don't care."

And they would be right because it's of no consequence now whether Obama was born on the moon or in the USA. The only relevant consequence should be that future Presidential candidates give simple direct proof that they are American born.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, well, okay. But what if "Snowden doesn’t really know who he’s working for.... For all we know he may be a catspaw in an elaborate scheme to get disinformation, or malware, into Chinese or Russian intelligence. (Or for all he knows)." (Hat-tip to Glenn Reynolds).

Now wouldn't that be something.

Hey, if we're going to wear the tinfoil hats, let's make them BIG tinfoil hats.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
mf said: There was no such thing at that time as a multilayered computer document.
There was effectively no such thing as a scanner, for that matter, but even Hawaii admits the printed version is a reprint from database records or the like, then they scanned it badly (if at all) in such a way that it is an OBVIOUS fake, makes me wonder if the guys who scanned it did so on purpose. The end result is it has zero credibility, it's prima facie value is less than zero.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the past is prologue, then the writing is very much on the wall: It will eventually come down to who is willing to die for what they believe in. That, and whether or not what they believe is real and true.

We are reaping the results of the Reformation, when tradition and the foundation of knowledge of all humanity were rejected in favor of the pursuit of the new god, progress, defined as anything not grounded in the past. "And so we row on, boats against the current," but with a confederacy of idiots at the helm.

Idiots, but dangerous. I know of no serious, thoughtful Catholic who does not feel in their bones that persecution is coming here. It's global; why should the US be spared this time? No problem, though. Christianity is a belief system that is predicated on self-sacrifice.

Wretchard is right, the answer is to resurrect the edifice of knowledge that was built over the course of 1500 years and abandoned by so many, although not by all. That knowledge is already being taken out into the streets. You may not yet see it, but it is.

It's the same old ancient battle, but you won't be able to follow it if you stay wedded to the secularist theocrat's limited view of the field. The good thing about that is that they won't know what's coming until it's too late. They think they've got it all wrapped up when the reality is that we have them right where we want them.

42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am disappointed in Edward Snowden that he would have allowed himself to come under the control of Wikileaks. He also shows bad judgment in taking a plane ride to Moscow. He leaped from the frying pan into the fire. Mr. Snowden has turned himself into a pawn of nasty people who do not have his best interests at heart.

There is a silver lining to this saga. Wikileaks has thoroughly exposed itself to be an integral part of an anti-American conspiracy. Whatever else can be said for Julian Assange, the Wikileaks organization appears to be controlled by outside forces that care nothing for transparency or freedom of the press but everything for attacking the United States any way they can. In other words, it is most likely controlled by at least one foreign intelligence agency.

Mr. Snowden is in deep trouble. If he had been wiser, he would have escaped to a democratic country that would have been deeply reluctant to extradite him to the United States – a place such as India, South Africa, or Brazil. By currying favor with despotic regimes, he undermines whatever moral credibility he might have had. It's in the interests of various despots to undermine Mr. Snowden's credibility, to convert him from a conscientious fool into a turncoat. That way, his message can be transformed from a moral indictment of the NSA into conventional anti-American hate mongering.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
or Wikileaks is a useful tool for manipulating the opinions

and if Me Snowden was also part of this scenario, displaying trouble among nations

ie UK spying during the G20 summit
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
rwe3 said: So, if he is to hide south of the border, does Snowden think himself David Banner or Sara Connor?
Try Leon Trotsky.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Snowden is someone who was raised to never really like his own country. We really shouldn't forget that while we "celebrate" his narcisistic "coup."

Serves the current administration right, though, doesn't it? It is the people who populate our executive branch and the political party from whence they sprang that taught young Snowden to hate his country. They are getting their comeuppance, but at the expense of our security. Snowden's crime, in their view, is that he jumped the gun on helping to ruin America.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
FWIW? Cass Sunstein is married to (are they actually married? Doesn't Sunstein want to abolish marriage or something?) Samantha "Mea Culpa" Power. How far down the road to perdition our nation has travelled that such people should be at the epicenter of power. ANd as long as I'm commenting on the scandalous "quality" of our ruling elite, the new Deputy Director at CIA is to be someone named "Avril" who used to read erotic novel passages to strangers. And then, of course, there's that "novelist" with the National Security Council. Oh Goody, Goody, but we're in for a bumpy national ride, aren't we?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes. It is no wonder the Russians and Chinese hold our entire government including CIA/NSA in such contempt. Sorcerer's apprentices all too many of them given access to the informational equivalent to hydrogen bombs. At least during the Cold War despite nearly every single star agent the CIA recruited being a volunteer off the street, when the Soviets ran circles around us in HUMINT our overwhelming SIGINT advantage plus the moral and economic bankruptcy of Communism ensured victory. Not so much anymore in the moral superiority department with all the worst chinovnik scum under Putin likely to rationalize their use of electronic blackmail as ok because the Americans do it too. Ditto for Beijing. And the electronic panopticon spying gap is rapidly closing too -- the Russians have Vkontakte to be their happy Facebook NSA-ski front and Yandex/ as their NSA Gov-oogle. Now all that's left is for ahem a certain Middle Eastern country with a million Russian speakers and a lot of tech developed at American taxpayer expense to join the Russosphere and sell them all the mass spying/data mining tools they need to close the gap with the NSA in a very short period of time. Mr. President we must not allow a mass surveillance gap!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Snowden is a young John Kerry.
Samantha Power is what Hillary Clinton wants to be when she grows up.
Cass Sunstein is the perfect gelded metrosexual.
Chuck Hagel is a character escaped from Catch-22.

Isn't it exciting?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The American people have raised up the instruments of tyranny, and now will be governed by them.

That a man such as Cass Sunstein should be feted is proof the nation of my forefathers has passed.

There can be no compromise with those who scream “racist, sexist, fascist homophobe:” their creeds must be rejected in total.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wretchard - A minor edit perhaps?

"The man next to him might be a SEAL who swam ashore the night before or walked down from the hills, waiting to DOUBLE tap him..."

Then again, we all know Obama prefers using drones against Americans! No need for a messy trial in federal court. That he reserves for Guantanamo inmates.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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