When politicians dictate how the music should sound: Lessons from Shostakovich

There was a saying popular among anti-war protestors of the 1960s. Just because you’re paranoid, don’t think they’re not out to get you. We have even more reason to wonder about who is spying on our personal conversations today because technology can practically read our minds. For those of us exposed to the futuristic novels…

NSA data collection raises more questions than answers

In his book, The Republican Brain, Chris Mooney describes how there are certain types of issues in which Democrats mimic the illogical positions of most Republicans. He cites examples such as the Keystone Pipeline and fracking for natural gas. Both of these involve considerable data analysis. Sometimes Democrats distance themselves from the data because it…

NSA leaker Snowden and the debatable definition of “heroism”

Edward Snowden is back in the news with a story that the government may be considering offering him amnesty in exchange for return of the remaining estimated 1.5 million classified NSA documents in his possession. In the months since Snowden first leaked documents to the press, I’ve found myself engaged in conversations discussing issues I…

Jimmy Carter: “America no longer has a functioning democracy”

On Tuesday, July 16, at an event in Atlanta, ex-president Jimmy Carter made his blockbuster statement referring to, among other issues, the mass surveillance of U.S. citizens. The event was sponsored by a German organization devoted to building German American relations. Der Spiegel and the International Business Times reported on Carter’s comments. His comments have…

Daniel Ellsberg: Edward Snowden was right to leave the U.S.

Snowden did what he did because he recognised the NSA’s surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans’ and foreign citizens’ privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we’re trying to protect. —Daniel Ellsberg, Guardian 6/10/13 Many people compare Edward Snowden to me…

Are we all eco-terrorists now?

I wasn’t much interested in all of the hullabaloo about the government spying on our phone calls, emails, etc., until I read this article about how the definition of “eco terrorist” is being stretched to include peaceful protests. If a “tree hugger” or “tree sitter” is a terrorist, then those of us who are members…

NSA data-mining: Not doing anything wrong doesn’t protect you

I’m trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings about the recently revealed NSA data dragnet, in which millions of Americans’ phone and internet records are being monitored and saved in a huge data-storage facility. One thing that disturbs me is that, in a recent poll, a majority of respondents didn’t think the whole thing…

NSA vs. ACLU: Split Decision

The revelation that the federal government has been secretly gathering records on the phone calls and online activities of millions of Americans and foreigners seems not to have alarmed most Americans. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center over the four days immediately after the news first broke found that just 41 percent of…