Writing of President Barack Obama’s recent climb-downs on an attack on Syria and on a nomination of Lawrence Summers, Perry Bacon, Jr., writes that “Obama seems to have decided he is not ‘the decider,’ the term George W. Bush used in articulating his role as president.” Though Bacon disagrees with Obama’s initial decisions on both Syria and the Summers nomination, this is a largely fawning piece. “Some have suggested these moves point to a weakened president, lacking the ability to sway members of Congress or the American public to support him or the boldness and gumption to simply charge ahead anyway.” Bacon argues that Obama listens and “at times is ready to toss aside his opinions, and that should be applauded.”
So there’s an amusing little graphic (figure 1) going around that purports to show a distinction between how the rich view their own success and the reality behind that success. Except that it’s not so funny. Read more →
Note, November 26, 2013: This entry has been updated with a parenthetical note in line at the end of the second paragaph. This has disrupted footnote numbering.
“The agencies insist that the ability to defeat encryption is vital to their core missions of counter-terrorism and foreign intelligence gathering,” reports a Guardian story breaking the latest National Security Agency domestic spying revelations. “But security experts accused them of attacking the internet itself and the privacy of all users.”
I run my own servers and it is inconceivable that I have been alone in watching the NSA revelations emerge without some sense of foreboding and a very large question: Which of the technologies I routinely rely upon is secure? That question has now been answered. A New York Times graphic makes clear that nearly every encryption technology I use has been compromised. Even some technologies I use that aren’t specifically listed are implicated. (Update, November 26, 2013: Further revelations have offered both a more nuanced understanding of the the NSA’s decryption capabilities and an even more damning view of three-letter agencies’ ambitions.[fn]David Benfell, “N.S.A. scandal timeline,” November 7, 2013, https://parts-unknown.org/wp/2013/11/07/peeping-obama-prospects-for-a-movement-to-restore-the-right-of-privacy/[/fn] My own security situation is better than I thought at the time I originally wrote this post and I am taking steps to improve it further.)
I’ve already noted that the U.S. elite seem to have gone over the edge, that they now rule by coercion rather than through legitimacy. The U.S. and U.K. governments’ reactions in the cases of Julian Assange, Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, and Edward Snowden have displayed not measured policy making but rather a furious and hysterical effort to dominate that has, in all probability, repeatedly violated international norms and laws as well as human rights, civil liberties, and notions of basic human decency. Further, in granting immunity to the Bush administration for crimes it has embraced and extended, the Obama administration removes any doubt about its expectation that, as Jonathan Turley wrote of administration policy on Syria, “[t]he world must obey our commands and we are not to be mocked.” Long imperious, the United States can no longer be considered a participant—perhaps first among equals—on the world stage but rather an extremely dangerous rogue superpower, a bully armed with a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons and the world’s most expensive—by far—military, determined to get its way.
Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, “Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945–2010,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 66, no. 4 (2010): 77-83, doi: 10.2968/066004008, http://bos.sagepub.com/content/66/4/77.full↩