Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mitch McConnell at AEI

Mitch McConnell may not be the most inspired orator, but he sure nails the Obama administration in this speech, given at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday. This is the most powerful republican in the country today, calling out the democrat president for his administration's pattern of un-American and perhaps illegal behavior. McConnell not only smashes the tactics of the left but he also charts an action plan, and gives at least this independent voter another reason to vote GOP in these dark times. The democrats have no interest in freedom of speech anymore, and their respect for individual rights (except for designated victim groups) and the rule of law is absent as well.

We need to hear from more public servants who are able to say the words that McConnell says here. Unfortunately, there are no democrats left alive who can. As McConnell shows, their main tactic is to intimidate, shut up, and demonize their opponents.

The speech, embedded below runs 25 minutes.

The entire speech, including Q & A, almost an hour, is here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Louie Gohmert at his Rhetorical Best

Here's a half hour of Rep. Louie Gohmert (Republican of Texas) speaking from the heart about what is wrong with the left/right divide in congress, and why it is so hard to make any progress passing meaningful legislation. Ostensibly he was speaking to the failure of the farm bill vote, but that is merely the substrate for the rhetorical edifice he builds.

Louie is not my favorite congressman, but he is my wife's, she knows him, and that is why I listened to this clip. It turns out that what one can glean about him from news reports is nowhere to be found when you listen to the man himself.

Take a half hour to listen to him. Have Kleenex at hand.

Elbert Guillory Sees the Light

Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory (R-Opelousas) eloquently explains why he recently switched from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party. He discusses the history of the Republican Party, founded as an Abolitionist Movement in 1854. Guillory talks about how the welfare state is only a mechanism for politicians to control the black community.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rap It - Tap it

Rap music for the Surveillance State. I wish I found this to be as funny as some others have.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Push Button Tyranny

The bulk of the public debate on the Edward Snowden revelations is missing the point. We hear and read about the use of the Prism system in the hunt for Islamist terrorists, but we hear precious little of what a failure it has been in that application. We hear that it can only be used by authorization from the secret FISA court, but the court has only ruled on the collection of the data, not on the method used to make sense of it.

Snowden has not warned us about what has already been done with this appliance. It is all about what its abilities are, what it can be used to do - in the words of Snowdon, "Turnkey tyranny."

Snowden has revealed that our government is building a machine, a system that will make profiling any single one of us a trivial task. This is not about bugging every single one of us. This is about the government acquiring and retaining far more data on us that that. Simple conversations would tell something about us, but a data profile that shows where we have been, who we communicated with and how much money we have spent tell a far more detailed story about us than hundreds of hours of conversation might.

 Defenders of the status quo are on all sides of the political spectrum, from social conservatives and neo-cons to populists to members of the hard and institutional left. The only way that any American can support the creation and continued existence of such a system is by pretending that we can trust the executive. This, after all, something that comes strictly out of the executive branch. It was never authorized by specific legislation, never discussed in an open congressional committee meeting, no court has ruled on its constitutionality.

It seems to me that if we wish to have a debate on this, we should at least listen to Edward Snowden himself. He makes his own case pretty well, and to argue this on any side one at least should take a few minutes to hear him out.

Friday, June 07, 2013

USA Spying on ALL Citizens

I have heard and read the various official and unofficial apologies and explanations for the recently confirmed spying on electronic communications activities by our government. What surprises me is how sanguine are most accounts. It is as if a simple explanation and declaration that it is all about keeping us safe from our enemies is all that is required.

Now, many of us have believed for years that this sort of stuff has been going on, that government will do whatever it can to keep tabs on and to control its citizens, but the recent revelations have confirmed that belief, and fleshed the program out. Apparently Orwell shortchanged the breathtaking chutzpah of our minders in "1984," plus he failed to foresee the technologies that would be brought to bear.

What we know:
The government's intelligence agencies have, for some time, been collecting intelligence on each and every one of us. They have every phone call you have made, the content of all emails, and your browsing history. They even collect your credit card transactions. While we have been assured that this is all about terrorism, the facts are that they have the ability to assemble a pretty detailed dossier on each American. Consider the algorithms available to marketing companies, and figure that the government will have none of that squeamishness about anonymizing and aggregating the data. They have:

Telephone calls and location of phone when made.
Internet surfing activity
Content of all email communications
Social network interactions
Credit card transactions

A detailed dossier on each person, including who you know, what you do, and, perhaps most importantly, how you feel about THEM. They not only have a general profile on you, they have the ability to search your whereabouts at any point in time. James Clapper, director of DNI, claims that they restrain themselves from abusing this power.

All this without a warrant, any suspicion whatsoever, or any evidence of any kind that you were doing anything wrong. They collect everything on everyone. All they need to see the most detailed analysis of your life and activities, in this new redefinition of the government's power over us, is a bit of curiosity about you. Maybe you wrote a nasty email or blog post that some anonymous government employee took notice of, or you surfed over to a government website to look something up. (they have admitted that they place cookies on the computers of all visitors)

You must realize that the effort required to do the looking is trivial. The cost is in the collection and storage of the data. That cost is borne by the black budgets and appropriations already made for our protection.

But, is this for our protection, or theirs? Do we have any protection from them? Any 4th or 5th amendment protections at all? Or do we just have to trust that presidents like Bush and Obama will be all the protection from the government we need?

Today, in a news conference, president Obama said: 
If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.

-Update 2-

Two whistleblowers in amazing interview on Fox News today.
“Aggregated metadata can be more revealing than content. It’s very important to realize that when an entity collects information about you that includes locations, bank transactions, credit card transactions, travel plans, EZPass on and off tollways; all of that that can be time-lined. To track you day to day to the point where people can get insight into your intentions and what you’re going to do next. It is difficult to get that from content unless you exploit every piece, and even then a lot of content is worthless,”