On Monday, a link circulated through Twitter about a new product that capitalizes on the current anti-government, anti-NSA paranoia.
The product is an iPhone accessory called the OFF Pocket. The manufacturer claims that if we stash our phones inside an OFF Pocket it can block NSA operatives from eavesdropping on us via "radio waves in the 2.4GHz spectrum." The inventor claims that it takes too long to turn off our phones (or, apparently, to enable the Airplane Mode) so, hence, the OFF Pocket tricks NSA spies into thinking our phones are turned off when they're really not.
I hope they make one in silver fabric. You know, to match the tinfoil hats.
But wait a second. I heard on The Young Turksandelsewhere that NSA can eavesdrop on us even if our phones are turned off. Evidently there's a way for NSA to use our phones as a listening device, and it's totally going to use it against you personally. So this OFF Pocket thing is pretty much useless.
Seriously, anyone who buys a special iPhone cozy that blocks NSA spy-beams doesn't get to make fun of Alex Jones any more.
The noticeable upswing in Alex Jones style anti-government paranoia on the left of all places has reached epidemic proportions, and if you haven't been infected yet you're regarded as either an unthinking Obama administration automaton or you've fully embraced the worst Bush-era transgressions. There's never been room for nuance with this crowd; it's a pervasive intransigence that happens to be a feature of their paranoia. If you're not screeching about the conspiracy, you're clearly part of the conspiracy.
It's not surprising, then, to discover that Alex Jones' dual websites, Prison Planet and Info Wars, are loaded with all of the same breaking news stories and bombshells about Edward Snowden and NSA that are also found at The Guardian, Salon and elsewhere. In keeping with recent outrage-porn from writers such as Salon's David Sirota and The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf, as well as activist Cornel West, there's even a post on Prison Planet in which the death of Trayvon Martin was compared with the killing of Adbulrahman Al-Awlaki, the son of terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki. Naturally, there's also plenty of stuff about how President Obama is clearly a war criminal worthy of prosecution and imprisonment, just like we've heard from Glenn Greenwald and the rest.
Yes, the Summer of '13 has witnessed the inking of the merger between the Glenn Greenwald Left and the Alex Jones Right.
The paranoia and conspiracy-mongering is truly bizarre coming from the same crowd that loudly blasted President Obama for not including a single-payer system in his healthcare reform legislation. Single-payer, naturally, would be run by the federal government and so a government agency would have access to our medical histories and decide whether we could receive certain forms of medical treatment. Every sexually transmitted disease, every erectile dysfunction prescription and every colon X-ray would be gathered and processed by the government, and since the program would be financed via our tax returns, the IRS would provide an investigative and potentially punitive aspect to it. If you don't pay your taxes, you're punished for it. In fact, I remember how we laughed at paranoid Republicans who insisted that the IRS would toss people in jail for not abiding the individual mandate.
But now we've discovered that the government is potentially gathering metadata from Facebook and this is suddenly cause for a collective nervous breakdown.
The government, they say, is sucking up millions of gigabytes every day, and sifting through your phone calls and your emails. We're led to believe that simply because NSA is collecting electronic data it automatically means that NSA is gathering your data and doing something with it. We don't know what, but it's something creepy and sinister.
This is Alex Jones territory.
The truth of the matter is that NSA doesn't care nor does it have the capacity to spy on you. But there's an obvious tendency in the age of social media self-aggrandizement to believe that we're each important enough for the government to care about what we're saying online and then to perhaps use this information against us to either blackmail us, to wrongfully imprison us or to extrajudicially kill us.
And all of this began with a man, Snowden, who's nestled very close to the fringes of the political spectrum, so it's no wonder we've arrived at this intersection. Working primarily in conjunction with Greenwald, this story was crafted to incite fear, outrage and paranoid delusions in people who were already predisposed to such reactions. This kind of manipulation is the centerpiece of Alex Jones' strategy: take something that's hugely complicated and difficult for people to fully understand, then design the impression that it's something other than what it is -- something to be feared. Snowden also convinced people who ought to know better that the U.S. government might actually have him assassinated. Alex Jones also thinks the government is targeting him, Jones, for assassination. In Snowden's case, it was an idea that was legitimized by Greenwald and supplemented by none other than Snowden's presidential choice, Ron Paul, who said that such an assassination might take place using a predator drone.
Or maybe the government will think a drone is too obvious and go with chemtrails instead, while also distracting us with a false-flag operation planned by the Illuminati, Raytheon, IBM and Trilateral Commission.