Just One Degree At A Time

“We’re the United States of America. You’re just passing through.”

A quote from “Good Shepherd” that we find useful when thinking about the engorged Permanent National Security State. Our old fable about the craven people who created and eventually surrendered to a monster in illusory pursuit of security is timely as ever.

One objectively can understand the apparat’s disdain for Obama-as-political-force, Dems and that noisome rabble called the American people. Yawn. The apparat is swollen beyond recognition by hundreds of billions recklessly squandered by a cowardly Duma. Cheney/OVP’s raging paranoia nurtured the permanent apparatchiks’ darkest, basest instincts. And not a burp from the usual merry go round of ‘public intellectual’ worthies except on single issues like torture. Let alone the Duma et al.

Tonite's Top Story, Brad and Angelina Agree To Settle Iranian Crisis But Demand Their Percent Of The Gross Upfront !

Obama fails to offer more than gestures; his priorities are elsewhere. Releasing memos? A gesture. Tackling this bureaucratic golem is among the most fundamental tasks if one seeks to restore liberal democracy and rule of law. Only active, public presidential leadership can even try to arrest the golem’s growth, let alone pernicious impact. Installing the neophyte Panetta over at what used to be CIA? Or Blair atop it all? Blair’s view down the silos is like an overweight man no longer able to see his own feet. And the fields are alive to the sounds of . . . chirps.

What passes for an American Left, moreover, doesn’t get it. It’s not about torture. *That* is a symptom or by product, not the disease. We face now among the worst of all outcomes: an out of control Community surrounded by alleged masters or overseers themselves either inexperienced, exhausted, bored with it all, or no longer sure what the law is. ‘Wouldn’t it be just nice if it all went away so we could all focus on John Ensign, Sarah Palin and single payer options?’ We both know that’s a thought bubble in more than a few West Wing and OEOB offices.

Our merry little band could enjoy saying ‘told you so’ (Robert Conquest’s quote in our quote database is so much more righteous and actually hilarious) if the panorama wasn’t so bleak. At least the Times finally catches a Ross Johnson BGO (blinding glimpse of the obvious). One assumes the Times tumbled to this insight after their initial flurry of meetings assessing whether the Daily Show piece on the Times and Keller was a net disaster or not. Today the Times intones “Once again, the country is learning about how the federal government has been exceeding its legal authority and violating Americans’ most basic rights in the name of fighting terrorism.” You don’t say?

This time it’s the NSA caught once again vastly exceeding legal limits and routinely collecting and reading the emails and communications of the American people at will. And the assessment that Congress is prostrate as usual because no one, principals or staffers, understands the technology strikes the Stiftung about right. The U.S. is not really a technologically advanced society. We are, rather, a society which uses advanced technologies. A big difference.

“For the Hill, the issue is a sense of scale, about how much domestic e-mail collection is acceptable,” a former intelligence official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because N.S.A. operations are classified. “It’s a question of how many mistakes they can allow.”

So that’s what our constitutional inheritance is now worth. Optics. How would it look? The Warlord’s 8 years of corrosive and contemptuous political culture left its stain. How could they not? Yet how meekly Americans gave up their freedoms. In exchange for what? Safety from a bogus threat under the Warlord. And healthcare and some new roads under Obama. Today we mused over FISA’s birth pangs and its evolution, all the controversies in 1977-1978, the FISA Court’s fight for legitimacy. How revealing that one is compelled to ask now, was it all worth it? With the Bureau’s still largely unaudited and accounted for use of national security letters?

The time to take on and change the Permanent National Security State in operational fact and culture was this year. The apparatchiks know now that there will be no real change. Oh, there will be turf fights like appointing station chiefs, etc. And torture will be spun out in a slow mo drive by. But the essentially unaccountable, permanent edifice? They’ve taken Obama’s measure already.

These days are all gone now but some things remain
When I look and I find no change

It’s a small comfort at least that the AMA is possibly on board with health care. Priorities doncha know.