Sunday, June 30, 2013

What would tyranny look like in America? Look around.

Congressman Jim Bridenstine asks the question on the House floor, and in 1 minute provides the answer. You can see his talk at here. Too bad that the Congressman only had a minute, but he didn't mince words, and his analysis was accurate and precise.

He noted in particular that Congress was partly to blame for delegating so much law making power to the Executive. Whether because they didn't know how these laws would be stretched and twisted, or because they did know, but wanted the onus for making unpopular decisions to fall on someone immune to We the People, they have created this Leviation, which seems to be beyond their ability to control. In the case of Fast and Furious, Eric Holder has been held to be in contempt of Congress. What are the consequences of that? Anyone? The IRS scandal drags on, with IRS agents apparently pleading the 5th and getting away with it. We still don't know who ordered the stand down of the military in the Benghazi scandal, and probably never will, at least not until the culprit is beyond justice. The Federal government is spying on American citizens, violating our 4th Amendment rights, and the only person who is taking consequences for it seems to be the whistle blower who called the NSA out, Edward Snowden.

Time was when Congress actually wrote the laws, for better or worse.  The Executive enforced the laws, and the Judiciary reviewed the laws in specific cases.  The alphabet soup of agencies came about with the progressive era, and the belief that life is too complicated for the average person.  Instead, good government consisted of having "experts" who know the gory details and would guide us, nudge us in the right direction.  The days of the renaissance man were dead, as human knowledge was growing too fast for anyone to keep up with it. 

But here's a funny thing that nobody predicted at the time.  A true "expert" on something tends to know a great deal about on thing, but less about anything else.  Now, in our daily lives this reliance on "experts" makes a great deal of economic sense.  We take our car to the car mechanic for repairs, and we go to the doctor when we are ill, because to know all about what medicines do what, and how to break down a car exhaust probably doesn't leave us much time to learn our own profession.  But does it make sense to give a car mechanic the power to tell everyone what to do?  He might decree that everyone must change their oil at 3,000 mile intervals on pain of a 10 year prison sentence.  You see, a persons expertise tends to blind him to other considerations.  His specialty area looms so large in his mind, that it can become all important, to the exclusion of other considerations.  This is what makes so many environmentalists zealots.

But it isn't only environmentalists.  Temperance crusaders, gun grabbers, some gun enthusiasts no doubt, and others become zealots unable to see that life consists in making decisions for oneself and one's family every day.  Too much salt in the diet causes some people to have high blood pressure.  So the zealots want to ban salt for everyone.  But of course most of us need salt, and a moderate amount improves the flavor of most foods.  The banning of salt in restaurants is just one example, and a petty one at that.  But this is just one example.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction of the navigable waters of the United States.  But they have stretched this jurisdiction to include jurisdiction of waters that flow into navigable waters, which pretty much includes any waterway in the United States.  Then they defined something they call an upland wetland.  Now this upland wetland doesn't have to be wet.  It merely has to have soil types that indicated that at one time, water flowed into this pocket.  So, you could dig a ditch, and after a few years, you would have yourself an upland wetland.  Now, in some jurisdictions, you can not disturb a wetland for various distances on either side, not even to mow it, or go walking in it.  Now imagine that the ditch runs in front of your house, and your house is in that zone?  Now it is unlikely that you will be booted out of your house, but the law is in place to allow them to do it.  Certainly people have been prevented from building a house on land they bought because of such laws.

This is what happens when you allow so called "experts" to make and interpret the laws, with little or no oversight.  You lose more and more of your liberty, because increasingly the decisions are taken out of your hands, and given to "experts" in Washington.  Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass the law to find out what was in it.  She said it with such enthusiasm, perhaps Ms. Pelosi likes surprises.  But the rest of us learned long ago not to buy a pig in a poke, and thats what Congress keeps foisting on us.  I am glad to see that at least one Congressman understands, and I pray he will get others to understand as well.  We have had 100 years of steady declines in liberty.  Perhaps its time to send the government "experts" packing.        

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Problem: Existing voters don't like us. Solution: Get new voters

Here we go again. Immigration "reform" is being sold to the public as bringing true border security, so that the only immigrants are of the legal type, and the estimated 11 million criminals in our country illegally will have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, etc before becoming citizens. Sounds good. And it is all a lie.  Marco Rubio may well have ruined any chances he may have had for higher office, as he has proved that he doesn't actually believe the things he says.  Too bad.

An article today at American Thinker entitled Passage of the Amnesty Bill Will Spell the End of Our Republic by James Simpson spells out what this bill would really do. Among the many ways that the bill undermines what we are being told by supporters are:
Legitimizes illegal immigration: Section 2302 says if you overstay your visa in the future you can still apply for a green card and become a citizen. It is permanent lawlessness... They cannot do that legally under current law!

Has no requirement to deploy technologies: The Corker amendment would give the Secretary of Homeland Security full discretion as to how technology would be deployed, or whether it would be deployed at all.

Has no fencing requirement: Similarly, building a fence is left to the discretion of DHS. (Note: since a fencing law, with money attached, passed years ago, and has been blithely ignored by the Obama administration, the amendment simply codifies Obama's open defiance of current law.)

Increases fees on visas for legal immigrants, but keeps the same low fees and fines for those applying for amnesty - favoring illegal over legal immigrants.

Under the Schumer-Corker-Hoeven amendment, the American taxpayers are on the hook for $38 billion. (The Gang-of-Eight claims the bill is fully funded by immigrant fees).

Delays promised hiring of 20,000 new Border Patrol agents until somewhere between 2017 and 2021.
According to Ammoland, Harry Reid has again been giving out Christmas tree ornaments in a bid to win votes to get the numbers up over the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. Bernie Sanders (Socialist, VT) got $1.5 million for a jobs program that the supporters of the bill implausibly say is unnecessary, because the bill won't reduce wages for the low income worker.  Senators who can't vote for the bill on principle and conscience can apparently be bought with pork for their constituency. I don't know about you, gentle reader, but this does not inspire confidence that the immigration bill is good for the country as a whole.

If we had not been down this road before, perhaps we might be convinced that Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, and gang are genuinely trying to solve a problem that has been plaguing our country for decades.  But we have been.  We were promised more safety if we passed gun control.  We got the control, but not the safety.  We were promised a fence, that has never been completed, and that includes a open section for illegals to pass through.  We were promised spending cuts for tax increases.  We got the tax increases, but not the spending cuts.  So, when Jonah Goldberg states:

The hitch is that the right is just not in a trusting mood. They feel, with ample justification, that Washington, including the GOP, has been betraying them -- by accident or on purpose -- for too long. I can understand that completely. What baffles me is why rank-and-file Democrats don't feel the same way.
in today's opinion piece, he is tuning in to the thoughts of a large cross section of Americans. Most Americans are fully aware that the nation has all the laws it needs to defend its sovereignty, and either keep out, or deport those who have arrived illegally. It has provisions for farmers to temporarily import workers to perform seasonal tasks. It has special provisions to allow high tech companies to import specialty labor not available in the States. It even has provisions to make hiring these criminals illegal. In short, we do not need another law that will be ignored by our executive branch. Congress needs to call the DHS the Social Security Administration, the Justice Department and others on the carpet for failures to perform their jobs. When asked why Obama wasn't enforcing the existing laws, Obama reportedly said that if he did, he would never get comprehensive immigration reform.  'Nuff said.

Interestingly, all this brouhaha over immigration reform fails to get at the real problem, the corrupt Mexican government's abuse of its own people.  Mexico is a land rich in resources.  It has huge oil reserves, ranked 17th worldwide, and natural gas (18th.)  They have large silver deposits, along with a variety of other minerals.  Mexico also has a population that can learn to manufacture anything from shoes to airplanes.  Many may be low skilled, but that is not to say that they are less intelligent, just less educated.  But the system of laws in Mexico, coming as they do from Spain, do not strongly support property rights, and the people have a cultural tradition of allowing the oligarchy to make and enforce the laws.  No wonder Senator Schumer is salivating over immigration reform.  He believes himself to be an oligarch anyway, so importing a bunch of voters used to oligarchical rule must look like heaven to him.

Update 6/27/2013  Karin McQuillan makes many of the same points in today's American Thinker in an article entitled Republican Party Won't Survive Amnesty Bill, and Neither Will America

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Report Recommends Republicans Pander to Youth

I have tried to stay out of party politics, after a short stint as a precinct captain in my callow years.  The elected Democrats disgust me, displaying a win at all costs, lying to the American public, cheating including election fraud, underhandedness in getting bills passed against the public will, which no body has read, until it is too late, attitude.  I have often thought that the entire Democrat party (not the average guys in the street, but the DNC and elected officials) should be prosecuted under RICO.  But to do so, one would need to find an independent, non partisan prosecutor.  Good luck.

On the other hand, the Republicans also disgust me.  In their case, it is that they seem to believe that they must offer up a less offensive version of every stupid nincompoop idea the Democrats promote.  Why not just say "No"?  When we Conservatives do get a guy or gal elected to Congress, then we have to keep on their back to get them to do what they promised us they would do to get elected.  And Boehner, don't get me started on John Boehner.

The Republican party has been trying to figure out why it keeps losing presidential elections.  There has been much soul searching wearing of sack cloth and ashes, and gnashing of teeth among the party establishment.  First they offered up Senator McCain, the Republican Maverick, and Darling of the Press.  Except, the press turned on him the moment he was nominated, as predicted by Rush Limbaugh and others.  Additionally, his reputation as a maverick was based on his countless betrayals of conservative voters, including his McCain-Feingold Act.  To make matters worse, he was up against a candidate who used his color against McCain to silence him.  Why McCain allowed himself to be silenced is something we will never know.  But McCain, who had to have some dirt on Obama from oppositional research, refused to use it.

Then, in a bid to prove just how mind numbingly stupid they really are, the Republicans put up an Eastern liberal the second time around.  Now, I have no doubt that Romney is a nice guy, a boy scout by all accounts, and a straight shooter.  Conservative, he is not.  We would be having many of the same issues and scandals with a Romney presidency and we have with an Obama presidency.  In terms of policies, they are both big government people.  The notion that the Republicans can run Democratic programs with more efficiency and less cronyism doesn't get to the real point.  The point is that programs like Social Security, Medicare, ObamaCare, and the various welfare programs etc, etc, etc, are all unconstitutional, and should have been struck down, or better yet, repealed, years ago.

(Note, the Republican punditry constantly claims there is no Republican establishment operating behind the scenes to put certain people into the White House.  The fact is, though that the big money donors get to make their voices heard over everyone else.  And they don't seem to much care for the Conservative voter, thinking of us as gun toting, tobacco spitting, rednecks:  the kind of people who would drink out of the finger bowls.  They are embarrassed by us, and don't really care about having a strong competitive party.  What they care about is making money, and they can make money with anybody in power, so long as the party in power keeps the competition down.  Oh, and we need to change the incentives for Republican consultants.  If they don't win, they don't get a dime.)

Romney might have pulled it out had it not been for massive voter fraud in certain precincts in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and perhaps in Virginia as well.  But committing voter fraud doesn't really matter because the candidate who benefits from it gets to keep his office anyway.  Just look at "funny man" Al Frauster Franken.  I don't know why Republicans don't make more out of blatant voter fraud.  Perhaps because they are committing it too, but they are dumber about it.  Or maybe they don't want to look like sore losers.  But when evidence comes to light from groups like Project Veritas nothing seems to happen. Oh yes, the lady in Houston did get fired, but what happened to her afterward? Did she get hired by another Democrat operation?  Do the candidates that benefited from voter fraud have to run again in a clean election?

All of this came flooding into my mind as I read Grand Old Propaganda by Linda Harvey at the American Thinker today. Her article is sparked by a report that the Republican party must change its platform to get hip to the youth vote. Now, I take umbrage with the term "youth vote" to begin with because it implies that all young people think, act, and vote the same way. In other words, it is identity politics, and there is little evidence that because a person is a certain age, or has certain pigmentation, or is of a certain gender, that they all think, act, and vote the same way, and the Republican party should not be engaging in identity politics, nor the pandering to identity groups. Anyone who sees their own primary identity as a member of a certain group should be seen to have real psychological problems in any case, and should not be pandered to.

If the Republican party wishes to start winning elections again, they need to stand for timeless principles, as they did when they were founded. The Republican party rose to national prominence because they stood against slavery, against the forcing of one individual to work for the benefit of another. All mankind is born free, not just the white folks. Now they have become the party of "me to, only better managed." Stand up instead for timeless principles. Write them down, shout them to the world, base your platform on them, and hold candidates feet to the fire of those principles. That is the way to win elections.  As it stand, if the Republicans are going to offer to do what the Democrats do, only more efficiently, it hardly seems worth it to come out on a cold November morning, stand in line in the dark, just to vote for a guy with an "R" after his name.

Update:  While we are on the topic of the Republican party, here is a post from Timothy Birdnow at the American Thinker entitled The Colonization of 21st Century America. The report is harsh on a number of RINOs for passing, or supporting massively unpopular legistlation such as the current immigration bill in the Senate. Why, for instance is Rubio so keen to pass this bill against the opposition of the average American? Why is he resistant to having true border security? What secret agenda is driving him? Go read "The Colonization of 21st Century America."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Conflating Corporate Data Mining and Government Spying

Many supporters of the governments PRISM program have made the argument, in essences, that corporations are already mining our data for private gain. Many of them lean left, and believe that such data mining is fundamentally evil, and by making money from it, the evil is compounded. Indeed, many of them are quite exercised about corporate data mining.

Such is the case with Lou Dobbs.  In his discussion segment with Bruce Schneier, author of the book Liars and Outliers, Dobbs continually conflated the data mining that corporations do with the data mining in which the government is engaged. Let's be clear, here. Corporations perform data mining in order to sell advertising. They add value to the advertisers, who can target their product advertising to those people most likely to be in the market, and the add value by bringing targeted advertising to those people looking for such ads. I am not the least bit offended that products I may be interested inshow up in the advertising I read on line. Lady's dresses may be of interest to some, but I pretty much ignore them, since the wife doesn't wear them. On the other hand, advertisements for the latest concealed carry products interest me, and I am likely to click on such ads. Of course, I don't necessarily purchase the products just because I click on the advertisement. Indeed, it is impossible for a corporation to do anything to me if I don't buy their product. Nothing they can do can make me hand over my money. Now, is it a little creepy that advertisements for shoes appear on my computer right after I have been looking for something inexpensive to replace my worn out pair? Sure, but I know how the trick is done.

On the other hand, government is force. Government can send me to prison, or worse. As Bruce Schneirer said last night, if a corporation gets it wrong, the worst that happens is you get an ad for something you don't want, but if government gets it wrong, you can go to jail. The consequences to an individual, thus, are orders of magnitude greater for the government than for corporations. Therefore I want to know that my government only snoops on those who have been identified with probable cause to have been guilty, and they have sworn out a warrant under penalty of perjury, and that a judge has signed off on that warrant, after duly considering the evidence of probable cause. That is the way the system works. If that means some terrorists get away with it, it also means we can be secure in our papers and personal effects.

Another line of reasoning, which is of course the utilitarian argument, is that we are all safer because the NSA is spying on everyone.  Presumably, these are the same people who think their neighbors harbor homicidal thoughts about them and are only constrained by lack of a gun.  The other night, Miss Alabama, one Mary Margaret McCord gave the perfect answer for this crowd. You can see, and hear it at New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer. Miss McCord wants to feel safe at movies, the mall, and airports. But apparently she doesn't want to put in the work necessary to be safe. She apparently wants to run around in condition white, oblivious to her surroundings, trusting that the NSA is watching over her, and others will spring into action should someone do something to endanger her precious life. Here's some advise. Grow up! You are not a child anymore, and you (and you alone) are responsible for your safety, and that of any children you may eventually have. Get a gun, learn to use it, carry it everywhere. Make up your mind now that if it comes to you or someone who means to kill you, you are going to ensure it is him or her. Learn to look around, observe what is going on around you, and constantly have a plan to defend yourself and your loved ones. That is the only way to be safe in this world; to rely on others is an illusion.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Try Something Different for a Change. Try Using the Constitution

Two pieces today at the American Thinker together illustrate the box those wishing to return to Constitutional governance, with limited powers properly applied find themselves in.  The first is Paul Kengor's Liberalism's Willing Executioners. The Second is Daren Jonescu's Barack Obama: Hell's Lightning Rod. First Kengor's piece, because it explains the nature of liberals, why they act as they do, and what effect this has on society. Kengor:
A book came out in 1996 called Hitler's Willing Executioners, by Daniel Goldhagen. The book remains controversial with (rightly so) plenty of detractors. But Goldhagen's principal argument has merit -- namely, that Adolf Hitler himself never killed a single Jew; rather, it took countless thousands and millions of ordinary Germans to carry out -- to execute -- Hitler's plan. In this, Goldhagen was exactly right, and his observation ties back to Meyer's thesis and, more so, what I've long feared is happening with the American Left.

What Hitler and his minions did was thoroughly demonize their enemies, convincing the German masses that Jews and other despised groups were subhuman, untermenschen. A major factor in Hitler's political advancement was his amazing ability to fabricate an assortment of handy scapegoats for the nation's ills. He got away with blaming anyone but himself for whatever calamity or misfortune. As he did, his followers assented, nodding their heads and bleating like sheep.

What the American Left has done to its enemies is not entirely dissimilar, even while certainly not approaching the crass, deadly level of the Nazis. But whether it's Obama himself, or his campaign, or Media Matters or or any number of left-wing groups and websites and publications and media outlets, the American Left has been merciless in thoroughly demonizing opponents. Liberals don't just politely disagree, or agree that people can disagree; no -- too often they caricature those who disagree as vile reprobates with no possible good intentions or reasoning for their positions. It's a very illiberal thing to do.
Kengor then goes on to illustrate the demonization of the TEA parties as racists neanderthals and those standing up for traditional marriage as haters.  Once these Left wing groups started to demonize the TEA parties, or traditional marriage supporters, it was picked up by the mainstream media, and became part of the "common wisdom."  Liberals are driven by emotion.  They don't seem to ask themselves hard questions, or think critically or carefully.  Instead, they seem to simply absorb the zeitgeist .  Kengor again:

As conservatives, we saw from the outset that this was pure politics -- actually, pure political demagoguery. Conservative talk-shows played clips from select liberals (such as Chuck Schumer) admitting as much. We saw right through it. But liberals don't think that way. They aren't wired that way. They're incredibly emotional people who can be easily prodded by their party/ideological elite, especially with the spontaneity and instant communication of social media -- the new mother's milk of the liberal mob. They really are prone to fads and fashions and mass behavior in ways that conservatives plainly aren't. I've seen it again and again. Conservatives aren't perfect, and have their own quirks and vices, but they don't tend toward this kind of group thinking and collective action. For conservatives, the ability to think logically and independently, based upon beliefs and values deeper and timeless, and to not be seduced by what Pope Benedict XVI calls the "anonymous power" of the latest fads and fashions, is what makes them conservative to begin with.

And so, when word was out among the Left that the Tea Party was comprised of genuine evildoers, the wider liberal masses, whether at blogs and nonprofits and Facebook or working for the IRS not only responded; they retaliated. They acted naturally. They didn't need Obama to tell them what to do. Exactly as Herb Meyer says, there was never any need for a printed order from Obama

Thus, the current scandals.  When a substantial part of an entire bureaucracy is composed of liberals, or people who feel they must spout the party line to maintain their comfortable lifestyles, what you get are people who, despite the laws, believed what they were doing was right.

Please read Kengor's piece in its entirety first, then go to Jonescu's piece.  While Kengor explicates the source of the scandals that have rock the present administration, that fact of the matter is that we will always have people who are easily led by an appeal to their emotions.  We will also always have people around who are ready to exploit such people by tugging on their heart strings.  The idea is not to let them become so powerful that they can dictate what rights they will allow you to have.  Jonescu:

The American Founders, great statesmen standing on the shoulders of great philosophers, derived from the wisdom of the ages an all-important lesson, one subsequently distilled for all time by British historian Lord Acton: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." In other words, any normal man is susceptible to the temptations of power, from which it follows that a society that wishes to remain free and just must avoid granting its governing authority excessive powers. Placing one's trust in the integrity of one's elected officials while handing them "legal" means to wipe out or circumscribe all your natural rights at their discretion is, as the great advocates of (true) liberalism understood, foolhardy in the extreme, for such blind trust presumes exactly what history and sound reasoning teach us never to presume, namely that the world is comprised of pure and untainted souls on one side, and evil and corrupt souls on the other, such that choosing good leaders is merely a matter of electing one of the "pure" souls.

Obviously, Barack Obama is a Marxist subversive, so there is every reason to fear that excessive power cannot be trusted in his hands. It does not follow, however, that such power can or should be trusted in the hands of a better man. To reason that way would be to forfeit or deny the awareness of man's inherent imperfection, an awareness which used to be standard issue with every new package of adult common sense.

Right now, we have a regime that is untethered from the Constitution, and even above the laws they have written.  But it will be no different when a Republican steps into the Oval Office unless he is prepared to address the Unconstitutionality of the laws, not only those being written, but those already on the books.  Currently, the Constitution stands as a rebuke to all three branches of government.  The courts do not say what the document says, because the Constitution speaks for itself.  In the recent NSA scandal in which we find out that the government has been storing hundreds of millions of our phone call records, and now under PRISM, our e-mail communications, and social media postings, all under something called a blanket warrant.  Blanket warrants are not Constitutional.  Sifting through the private phone conversations of innocent people is not Constitutional.  Ambassador Bolton pointed out on Fox News that PRISM is legal, because all three branches of government signed off on it.  But they didn't have the authority, granted by the Constitution to make these laws, and Ambassador Bolton should know that if the law does not comport with the Constitution, then the law is null and void.  Indeed, the same goes for hundreds of laws that people trip over daily.  In this way, the use of authorities not granted takes away our freedom and our liberty. 

We have been heading down the road to socialism and serfdom for a while now, and things have only gotten progressively worse.  We have elected philosopher king after philosopher king, of both parties, only to discover that they were...well...ordinary men who put their pants on like everybody else.What do you say we try something different?  Why instead of electing the latest philosopher king with a made up image from Madison Avenue, why don't we limit the scope of the power he wields over us?   Why not try going back to the Constitution?  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The NSA and the 4th Amendment

My post of Saturday, June 8, 2013 was intended as a humorous take on what is, unfortunately, a very serious issue. The NSA capturing the phone records (or at least that is what the government is telling us) and the e-mail and other Internet traffic of American citizens who have done nothing wrong, nor even contemplated doing anything wrong, goes against the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. The 4th Amendment states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.[1]
This is pretty absolute language, and by no means would the the Founders' 4th Amendment have contemplated a fishing expedition like that being conducted by the NSA, yet the official party line is that all this is nice and legal like. What gives? How can they say this without laughing at the ridiculousness of what they are saying?

The courts over the years have introduced a "balancing test" in which your reasonable expectation of privacy is weighed against "compelling state interests" in "protecting the public." In the case of electronic communications, they note that hackers get into systems all the time, and that with the right radio equipment anyone can listen in on cell phone conversations. The equipment is easily available on the commercial market outside the United States, and is available for purchase by law enforcement inside the U.S. Therefore, they conclude that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. But hackers and people voyeuristically listening in on your private phone calls are, by definition, criminals. Should their actions be discovered, they risk prosecution. Since We the People can not do it, it begs the question how someone working for the Government, which only has those powers delegated to it by us, is able to do it. And how the courts can maintain with a straight face the idea of a "balancing test" in which, surprise, surprise, the "compelling state interests" always outweighs individual rights is a mystery beyond all understanding. I guess they figure that if they use enough big words that nobody will notice.

We now learn that the person who outed the NSA to the UK Guardian was a 29 year old analyst working for Booz Allen Hamilton as a contractor at an NSA site in Hawaii named Edward Snowden. Snowden's thin resume may or may not be a red flag. People have become excellent in computers without having a college degrees, as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs can attest. But the fact that the Government gave him access to the wide array of information he claims to have had access to is surprising, and does raise eyebrows. In any case, whether or not Snowden actually took an oath of office or not, every American's loyalty should be to the Constitution of the United States. Every American should understand that laws that are not Constitutional, whether declared as such by the Supreme Court or not, are null and void. Whether or not Snowden actually obtain these materials himself, or is the fall guy for others up the chain who want to remain in the shadows, Snowden is a Hero of the Republic. I have to agree with Bob Beckel, and evidently with (ugh) Michael Moore on this one. Congress should subpoena this man with full immunity to tell the public what he knows. Listen to what Snowden told the Guardian and think about the IRS scandal now developing. Still believe it isn't possible in America?

Karl Denninger has an outstanding take on the relative risks of being killed in a terror attack versus other ways in which an individual could die. (A hat tip to Anthony Martin of the Liberty Sphere) What we learn from this comparison is that there is no reasonable excuse for the Government to suspend our Constitutional rights. Moreover, there has been no "national debate" on the subject. I have said all along that I will take my chances with the terrorists rather than have my rights and my dignity infringed by a Federal Government going on a fishing expedition into my personal life. That goes for the TSA and the DHS as well, but we are speaking now specifically about the NSA. Again, they have no warrant (or more specifically, the warrant is invalid) to collect the data of Americans for whom they have no probable cause to believe they have done anything wrong. Snowden seems to have connected the dots, despite his thin resume, so either he is a very astute individual, or he has done a lot of reading.

Now, if you are still thinking that this is all a big mistake, that the NSA didn't mean to collect all this data for seven whole years, please read Adina Kutnicki on the existence of a political dissidents list. Note that a grain of salt is needed here, as her source is not named, and we can not verify what he tells her. Never the less, With all the above, is it really that implausible?  Political dissidents are of concern only to tyrannical dictatorships, who insist that everybody must think and act the same, and who are afraid that if dissenting ideas come out, they will lose power. But it is not the American way.  We have always known that the truth will eventually dawn on people if it is presented to them.  Unfortunately, the people have not gotten the message due to a media compliant with the dictators, and a dumbing down of our education system.  But the spectre of Big Government rooting around in everybodies' private e-mails and phone conversations may just be the catalyst to wake everybody up.  Otherwise, I fear we are headed for a long nightmare.

Update:  The Huffington Post says there is more, much more, to come on the NSA. We'll be watching Mr. Greenwald.

Update 2: From comes the pro surveillance argument. I would point out first that there is no evidence that collecting the records of everyone for 7 years has stopped even one terrorist plot. It certainly didn't stop the Boston bombing, or point to who did it.  So, why is it necessary again?  Second, our WaPo correspondent seems to be conflating terrorists abroad and American citizens.  The government can record terrorist abroad to its hearts content.  If they have probable cause, they can swear out a warrant from a judge and snoop whatever they want.  If that snooping leads to another American, they can go to the judge again and swear out another warrant.  It is not as if we had been defenseless before.  These things are spelled out in the Constitution.  Try using it for a change.

Update 3:  On Wednesday, Ben Shapiro had an interesting piece entitled 7 Reasons to Worry About Federal Surveillance. He asks a number of practical questions, for instance, does it make sense to have everyones' personal information in one place where the Chinese can hack it? The IRS has our personal financial information, ObamaCare will make available our medical information to the government, and now the NSA seems to have the rest. What remains private in America?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

To The NSA Agent Assigned to Read this Blog: Get A Life. Mine is Not That Interesting

Ever since I started blogging, and even before that, I have believed that the government was keeping an eye on citizen's activities. Recently, a fellow at work asked if I thought my, and his, data was being collected. I said "Yes." I had no reason to believe this except this: that once the Government admits to collecting foreign phone traffic, websites, and other electronic communication, it is human nature to believe they will collect everything else too. (Note to the NSA agents assigned to read this blog, are we having fun yet?)

Of course I didn't discuss any of this much, because one doesn't want to come off as a paranoid kook, and besides, my life is just not that thrilling. But now we have evidence that indeed they have been keeping cell phone records for at least 7 years, as reported in the UK Guardian. The UK Telegraph had a piece that spoke about the effects of this bombshell at NSA Surveillance Scandal: Barack Obama's Credibility Under Scrutiny Like Never Before.

Liberals and Leftists keep coming up with the "Well, Bush did it too!" argument, as if two wrongs suddenly make a right. Under Bush, we were led to believe that only cell phone traffic that originated in America but went to a foreign destination known for terrorism, and vice versa were being monitored. Now we find out that for 7 years the NSA has been tracking all 100 million Verizon phone records, and there is good reason to suspect that the other phone carriers phone numbers have also been tracked as well. (Note to NSA agent assigned to read this blog: The phone conversation I received yesterday at around 2:00 pm from my wife's phone while driving through Statesville, NC concerned her just completed trip to the hair stylist, and how pleased she was with it. I have witnesses.)  Then yesterday, we also learned of program called PRISM which captures our e-mails, and websites and stores these.
The amount of data the NSA can access includes email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more, the paper reported.
So, if you have Vonage, your phone conversations are being stored. Nice, huh?  How does that fit with the 4th Amendment?  Another way Regime supporters try to minimize the shock and outrage people feel, and quite frankly the sense of betrayal, is to say "Well, we've known it was going on for years!" Really? So, the Left was given a memo that the rest of us did not get? Because what I remember is the following:

Just three months ago, Senator Ron Wyden, a Senate Intelligence Committee member who has campaigned against US government data-mining for years, asked James Clapper, the Director of National of National Intelligence a simple question: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" "No, sir", came Mr Clapper's reply – which, as we now know, was a flat-out lie. With 'oversight' like that, Mr Obama's credibility is now under scrutiny like never before.
The NSA is not conducting targeted investigations, but is conducting a wide ranging dragnet in which every American citizen appears to be a potential terrorist, unless proven innocent, and then they want to keep you under surveillance just to be sure. At the moment, none of this vast data set has, to our knowledge been used for political purposes, but as we have seen with the IRS scandal, it could be used to punish political enemies of the regime. The Government has proved that it can not be trusted with our private data. Therefore, the Patriot Act must be repealed.

Update:  Twice a day, even a broken clock gives the correct time.  So it is with one of Fox News resident liberals and foils, Bob Beckel. In this video clip from The Five, Beckel rages against the Government collecting the phone records of average Americans who have done nothing wrong, and calls the NSA program "close to fascism." Why not call it what it is, Bob. Obama is leading this country into a Fascistic State. Still, when he's right, he's right.

Update 2:'s Guy Benson has an interesting take on the NSA scandal here. He says he wants to believe the Government, but finds it hard to do because of the IRS scandal, and the lack of transparency of the regime. He also notes that he doesn't fully trust the Congress persons who were in the know. And why would he? Harry Reid and Diane Feinstein have been known on occasion to...well...step up to the edge of the cliff.

Update 3: Bruce Bialoski writing at on Sunday had this to say:
If you are not upset about this situation then you are clueless. There is a dangerous extension of government that no true American could possibly endorse or accept. Our government has no right to randomly rummage through our cell phone or email records. If you think that the government has that right then 1) you missed your American government class when they went over the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Here is a reminder of what it says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Do you see where it says shall not be violated? That is not may or might – it is shall not be violated. 2) You deserve to live under a totalitarian government. Please just don’t drag us down with your paranoia.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Being a Leftist Means Never Having to Say 'I'm Sorry'

At today is an article entitled ObamaCare breaks promises in California, and supports would prefer you not point it out. Go read the whole thing.

At a time when normal Americans are struggling to make ends meet, the Regime keeps piling on more spending, wants more taxes, and now we find that far from lowering health care insurance, ObamaCare will raise premiums by 100% in some cases.  So, a healthy male non smoker in his twenties will have to find $2,208 ($184 x 12) every year before he pays anything else out, to pay for his health care insurance, which insurances most won't need.  Once our male non smoker gets to forty, his premiums will jump to $3,132.

Now, I have always looked at the cost of things in terms of opportunity costs. If you have to spend $2,208 on health insurance, what won't you be able to buy instead?  Could that money have gone into a 401k account, where it would earn money in the market?  Could it have been used for several new suits, or a down payment on a newer car?  But he no longer has a choice about how to spend the money he earns in ways that meet his personal needs at the time.  The choice has been made for him by big government.  And it will only become more rigid, more bureaucratic, and more intrusive as time goes forward.

Of course the other thing the article points out is how the supporters of ObamaCare are defending the indefensible.  "It's not as bad as the worst case scenarios" doesn't mean its good.  Nor does it mean it is better than what we had.  The fact is it won't be.  We all used to manage our health issues on our own, with the advice of a doctor we trusted, who kept our confidences.  Now, we will have bureaucrats snooping around, nudging us in ways we don't like, and don't want to go.  We didn't like it when our mothers did it, and I'm sure we will resent it when a faceless bureaucrat does it.  The fact is that just as the IRS has been weaponized and turned against groups that espouse conservative ideals, our health data is likely to be similarly weaponized and become fodder for political campaigns.  Then there's the implicit trust you place in your physician, only now can you really trust him or her?  How much of what they ask are things they really need to know, and how much is information required by their new masters at HHS?  What options aren't they telling you because those treatments have been deemed not cost effective at your age?  How much confidential information do you tell your doctor when it all goes into a national database that sooner or later will be hacked.  All these changes are unnecessary.  All are designed to give more power to the Federal government at the expense of the liberty of individual Americans.