Popular Tags:

NSA Phone Records Dragnet “Likely” Unconstitutional

December 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Today it is being reported that a judge in Washington has issued a preliminary ruling that the NSA’s far-reaching collection of telephone call metadata is “likely” in conflict with the Forth Amendment.  The ruling is open to appeal and is not a final ruling that has any immediate impact on the NSA.  While it’s refreshing to see a judge employ some common sense, I think it’s unlikely that anything significant will come of this for a few reasons.  First, this is a judge making a ruling in court.  He’s a member of the judicial branch of the government.  The NSA is also part of the government.  Expecting the government to police itself is on the same level of naivety as expecting a serial murder’s left hand to control the evil impulses of his right.  My second reservation is the simple fact that the government flagrantly disregards its own laws whenever they are inconvenient.  So the judges can judge all they like, and the legislators can legislate until pigs fly; Leviathan will continue matching onward to its own drummer trampling our freedoms with each step. Here is the Guardian’s report on the recent ruling: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/16/nsa-phone-surveillance-likely-unconstitutional-judge Unless otherwise expressly stated, this work is licensed under […]

Pearl Harbor Day

December 7, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Today is the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  As FDR called it, a “date which will live in infamy”.  For our grandparents this was a defining moment in their lives. This was one of those events which is frozen in time, allowing you to recall where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news.  It is what 9/11 has been for my generation.  But it shares another similarity as well. Pearl Harbor could have been avoided.  Just like 9/11, it was the result of foreign intervention on the part of the United States in the affairs of other nations.  The president at the time was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  FDR was relishing the idea of getting the US entangled in World War II but wanted an excuse to do so.  His first attempt was the coordinated attack with Britain on German U-boats in the North Atlantic.  Hitler did not take the bait.  After this first failure, FDR changed his focus to Japan (an ally of Germany).  Japan at the time was in the midst of an industrial revolution and relied heavily on the importation of raw materials and oil for its economic success.  Japan […]

The Roundup: Christie, Kokesh, Sarvis, Minimum Wage and Secession!

November 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Tuesday marked Election Day 2013 around the country.  The majority of positions up for election were local, but there were also two gubernatorial seats up for contest.  In addition there were a number of interesting ballot initiatives.  Let us take a look at some of the week’s events. Election Tuesday Chris Christie won reelection in the New Jersey gubernatorial race by a massive margin of around 20 percentage points.  This was not really a surprise given how he’s been riding the wake of Hurricane Sandy ever since the storm hit the Jersey Shore.  The fact that a Republican has won in such a traditionally “Blue” state has set quite a few tongues wagging about Christie’s bipartisan appeal and his seemingly imminent run for the White House in 2016.  He also brought in a large percentage of the Hispanic and black vote, which are two demographics Republicans always lose to the Democrats.  Christie points out that his success is based on being pragmatic and willing to compromise.  The problem is that Christie misses the mark with many conservatives, because he appears to most as just another moderate Republican.  Sure, he has a sharp rhetorical style, but it often makes him sound […]

I’ve Been Slacking…

October 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Yes, I’ve been a slacker.  I haven’t written or posted in a while and for that I am sorry.  My approach to this blog has been to focus on writing quality content on a “when its ready” publishing schedule.  In my view, that means at least 1,500 words, well thought out, and cited when possible.  I’ll call this the “Research paper” approach.  While it is my choice mode of writing, it’s not feasible as the norm given my numerous other responsibilities, as the sporadic posting history shows. In an effort to keep posts flowing I’m going to try a slightly different approach.  First of all, the “research paper” articles aren’t going anywhere.  I’ll still write them as time permits.  In the meantime, I’ll be trying to post shorter posts on a more frequent basis.  I hope they will act as discussion starters and present ideas in the same manner that the longer posts do, though perhaps without expounding as much.  I may also start expanding the scope of topics.  I will also be posting (reposting) videos and such from others that I think are relevant and worth checking out.  We’ll see how it goes.  Feedback is always welcome! Part 2 […]

Your Guide to Keeping Your Data Private – Part 1

June 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Today we’re kicking off a two part series on securing your digital life.  In this first part we’ll touch on passwords, PC security, and smartphone security.  Consider this the warm up for part two in which we’ll hit the nitty-gritty of securing your information online and in the cloud – where it is most vulnerable to NSA snooping. First off, this guide is not comprehensive.  In it, I will assume that you have some knowledge of the Internet, computers and smartphones.  Also, I will not be held liable for how you use this information. Following these tips does not guarantee that your online presence will be untraceable or completely secure.  As with many things, your results may vary. Second, security is a trade-off.  Generally, the more security layers you enable (and you do want layers) the less user friendly and convenient your environment will become.  That’s just the way it is.  You will have to find the balance between the two on your own.  If you are the only person using your network and you don’t mind the extra time and effort, by all means, build yourself a virtual vault inside a virtual bunker surrounded by a virtual wall and […]

Here We Go Again: NSA Spying on Internet Data of Americans

June 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Coming at the heels of Wednesday’s news that the NSA was secretly obtaining hundreds of millions of phone records belonging to American citizens, we have new reports from the Washington Post of yet another Top Secret program targeting Internet data.  Operation code-name PRISM refers to a Top Secret partnership between the NSA and 9 of the top Internet firms in the United States including Facebook, Google, Yahoo! and Apple.  Since the news broke on Thursday officials from the companies involved have been coming forward with denials that they had any knowledge of the program or that the government has direct access to their servers, as alleged by the leaked information on PRISM. Slides released by the Washington Post that outline the program detail the types of data collected which include email, photos, video, chat with voice and video, Voice of IP (VoIP), stored data, file transfers, social networking details, and “special requests”.  Essentially your entire online life is available to the government.  Anything you post to Facebook (regardless of your privacy settings), your emails, your Google Drive files, your photos, and any phone calls or “Hangouts” you are involved in over the Internet are possibly being collected by the government. This is a […]

Verizon Handing Phone Records to NSA

June 6, 2013 at 11:57 pm

The Guardian just broke this gem yesterday.  It would seem that the National Security Administration (NSA) has obtained a top secret court order compelling Verizon to turn over “all call detail records” on an “ongoing, daily basis” for all calls “between the United States and abroad” or those “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.” There you have it.  From the issuance of this court order, which took place on April 25, 2013 until its expiration on July 19, 2013 Verizon is ordered to provide the NSA with records on every single local call and call between the US and other countries to traverse the Verizon network.  Verizon is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the United States.  We are probably talking about hundreds of millions of call records.  This is unfathomable.  By way of this order the government is obtaining just about every detail related to these calls including the telephone numbers of both call participants, the duration of the call, location information, and the time and date of the call.  Essentially the only information the government is not taking as part of this is the actual telephone conversation. This is an unprecedented level of privacy intrusion. […]

Consent and the Nature of Rights

June 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I was recently to a physician, and as is standard these days there was a stack of paperwork that needed to be completed.  Patient information forms, medical history, office financial policy, HIPPA, and consent forms.  What caught my attention was the consent form.  Why is it necessary?  If I scheduled an appointment, is it not obvious that I would like to be examined?  While it is logical to come to such a conclusion, consent must be specifically given.  Consent is an important concept with far reaching implications. From whence does this idea of consent come?  It comes directly from the principle of ownership.  Consent is the engine through which you allow others to utilize, institute change, or exert influence over your person, your property, or other items that are under your control.  Why is consent necessary?  It is the difference between a beneficial transaction, and an act of aggression.  It is choice.  When you enter into a contract you are consenting to its terms.  When you accept a job offer you are consenting to work for an agreed number of hours at an agreed wage and to abide by company policies and procedures.  Every beneficial interaction between individuals requires, at some level, consent. […]

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

February 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I’ve talked about firearms before, and the Second Amendment as well as the right to defend one’s self and one’s property.  Those points have all been well established.  Though it seems that some still do not believe this is enough of a reason to own a firearm.  Some seem to be under the impression that the desire to own a weapon has to do with some sort of testosterone-fueled giddiness at the prospect.  I believe it is important to set those ideas to rest.  They are misguided and subvert the logic of owning a weapon by replacing the reasonable argument with some kind of base physiological distortion. There are many weapons in existence today.  In fact just about every object within your reach as you read this could be used as a weapon.  It isn’t necessarily the nature of a particular item that gives it the designation of ‘weapon’, but the use that it is put to.  Some items fit the designation better than others because their design lends itself to efficiency in terms of potential damage done.  At the basest level, that is what a weapon is; an item capable of causing damage.  Knifes are considered weapons by most, though they primarily serve as aids in eating and culinary. […]

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste

January 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm

In the words of Rahm Emanuel, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”  That is exactly the philosophical approach some members of our government are taking in the shadow of the horrific tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. On Wednesday President Obama held a news conference to present his plan for reducing “gun violence” in American.  Notice that it’s not “gun control” any more, instead he’s seeking to “reduce gun violence”, which sounds better.  His plan outlined a number of initiatives.  At the forefront was his call to reinstate an assault weapons ban and to limit the size of firearm magazines to ten rounds as well as a call to enforce background checks at gun shows and in private sales of firearms.  Additionally he signed 23 Executive Orders designed to address the issue ranging from clarifying the mental health services of Obamacare to requiring federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check database. Let us examine these items closer.  First off, banning ‘assault weapons’ – there was no such thing as an ‘assault weapon’ until Congress created it when they banned them the first time in the 1990s.  The definition basically boils down to cosmetic traits […]