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Seeking solutions instead of blame

Let’s acknowledge the very uncomfortable truth: most of us are unwilling participants in a massive government-industrial surveillance experiment that would cause stalker-envy in the Stasi.

On the government side, the President falls back on legalisms (“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls”) while ignoring the fact that hardware, software, and/or people are tracking and recording information from your calls, your travels, your credit card purchases, your e-mails and files, your photographs, your bills, your voice over internet calls, and more. While Mr. Obama may not technically be lying, he’s intending to deceive. Similarly, he doesn’t want any discussion on how the government’s surveillance laws are interpreted and he prefers, once again, to throw down his well-used “trust me” card.

But the “trust me” card isn’t a viable play when the reservoir of trust has run dry.

On the industry side, the internet-based companies participating in Prism (there’s also the Boundless Informant program) offer a similar treatment: tightly worded denials that are intended to mislead. And they do so with the top cover of plausible deniability and secrecy provided by (and required by) the government. (The recurring use of the phrase no “direct access to our servers” suggests the government may have participated in drafting press releases.) And chances are, we’re just starting to find out about the depth and breadth of the government-industrial surveillance complex.

But in time, the government-industrial surveillance complex is likely to become less an issue of public outrage and more of a political ‘Who can we blame?’ issue. Even before this disgrace, the President knew his “Catastrophic Presidency Fail Light” had been illuminated steadily, so his position is simple: say Congress was all briefed (Congress disagrees), the judges all signed off, and therefor assert the program is all neatly legal.

Indeed, it may be so, but legal does not mean the surveillance state is just, proper, moral, ethical, beneficial, justified, or warranted. Those who were in the know in Congress are taking their cues from Mr. Obama and are falling back on the claim to legality, rubberstamped as it appears to be be.

So is there a solution to what appears to be a national intent-to-deceive on an unprecedented scale? A first step is to move from depression to acceptance. There are things that can be done and doing nothing would be a poor choice.

Like Soylent Green, our government (the IRS, the State Department, the Justice Department, the NSA, etc.) is made up of people. And all people are flawed, fallen creatures even as our federal government has long blown past the marginal benefits (arguable as they are) that we are said to receive. The conclusion now seems obvious: an ever bigger government creates ever bigger problems and ever bigger unintended consequences. This seems to be true whether government is promising to keep you safe (often, from yourself), employed, well-regulated, healthy, fed, educated, funded in retirement, or whatever else unkeepable promises may have been made, explicit or implicit.

If these things are true, it would seem the real solution to the government-industrial surveillance complex is to make the government smaller. (Industrial surveillance is another issue altogether.)

But how—exactly—do we make government smaller? It isn’t that hard; in fact, it’s simple.

When the government is overfunded (from both taxpayer contributions and debt), it is in a position to do too much, which as we’ve seen throughout history, isn’t a good thing. This happens even as government itself says, “Whatever we’re getting, it isn’t enough. Nor will it ever be so.”

Ergo, consider the words of the wise man who said, “If it ain’t funded, it ain’t.”


One Nation, Under Google, With Data Collection on All

Remember when Google said ‘Don’t Be Evil’ and seemed to mean it?

They never meant it. Not then, not now, now ever. Not really, at least if evil interfered with making money.

The new evidence of evil has hit the fan with their Google Glass. From the awesomely named Nick Pickles writing at The Telegraph:

Imagine if Google or Facebook decided to install their own CCTV cameras everywhere, gathering data about our movements, recording our lives and joining up every camera in the land in one giant control room. It’s Orwellian surveillance with fluffier branding. And this isn’t just video surveillance – Glass uses audio recording too. For added impact, if you’re not content with Google analysing the data, the person can share it to social media as they see fit too.

Yet that is the reality of Google Glass. Everything you see, Google sees. You don’t own the data, you don’t control the data and you definitely don’t know what happens to the data. Put another way – what would you say if instead of it being Google Glass, it was Government Glass? A revolutionary way of improving public services, some may say. Call me a cynic, but I don’t think it’d have much success.

totusAlthough this technology might eliminate the ongoing requirement for Dear Reader’s myriad teleprompters, the reaction to Google Glass should be simple: Reject it. We don’t get fooled again and all that.

Google Glass: wear it to the bathroom, the bedroom, the barroom, the locker room, and the boardroom. And wherever you go, you’ll have the confidence of Google not being evil there with you.

Let’s get real. Google was, is, and always will be about the money. In the case of Google Glass, it’s a clear and creepy confluence of the money stream with the data banks to form the mighty river of Google.

And George Orwell remains the world’s most accurate secular prophet.

Obama part deux off to quite a start

hits the fanThe President survived domestic disasters like chronic unemployment, massive and unrepayable federal debt increases, Obamacare, and Fast and Furious. He survived foreign policy fumbles like the Russian Reset, the Arab Spring, and Benghazigate. He was re-elected by catering to his base and by placing the fear of Romney into many minds.

Now the full effect of the President’s leadership is about to hit the fan.

The markets seem to have had a Romney win baked in. With Obama’s re-election, they’re down to last summer’s level—when it seemed Romney had no chance. The U.S. economy is trending towards recession; the fiscal cliff looms.

The federal debt had a very bad month. The federal intake was $184 billion, the expenditures, $304 billion. Do the math, Barry: it’s the spending, stupid. 

The President’s CIA Director ex-CIA Director is in the throes of a total meltdown with huge cover up and criminal conspiracy implications. Along the way, the Administration may be violating its own guidance on underground prisons and interrogating and detaining enemy combatants. Even reliable lefties are starting to freak about Obama’s persistent Stasi-like surveillance state.

Innovation that threatens the status quo/preferred narrative is at risk of being smothered in the crib of government.

The Harry Reidtard-led Senate is worried about polar bear carcasses.

Finally, a majority of voters in California appears to be just as stupid as a majority of voters in America. Dude, where’s my bailout?

This will not end well (and technically, we’re still in Broncobama’s first term).

Welcome to Obamaland!

totalitarianThe lies you once heard from the government: “We’re glad to see you and we’re here to help.”

The lies you now hear from the government (not an all inclusive listing): “We’re still glad to see you. We’d never read your e-mail or sell your information to a third-party. We respect your right to privacy.”

From the Hill:

Google received more requests from the U.S. government to hand over user data during the first half of this year than from any other country, according to the search company’s biannual “Transparency Report” released on Tuesday.

The increase in the first half of the year is attributable to the Administration’s run up to the election.

Post-election, the government’s expected requests will be due to a combination of factors, mainly political payback, preparing for the mid-term and 2016 elections, and of course, the Petraeus/John Allen/Jill Kelley/Paula Broadwell case.

The FBI is too busy to get to Benghazi and collect evidence; they’re not too busy to bust into Broadwell’s house and carry her belongings and personal information away. What was the charge again, fellas?

Who is the bill-payer for the Administration’s Benghazi debacle? It would appear to be one David Petraeus.

Crickets, anyone?

barry worldWe all know George W. Bush’s surveillance nation was the most disgraceful action undertaken by a U.S. president since LBJ lifted his beagle by its ears.

But now we find out Dear Reader is doing the same (not the beagle lifting)… only worse. This all has to be some sort of terrible typographic error, right?

Documents obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that under President Obama between 2009 and 2011, warrantless electronic surveillance requests by the Justice Department to spy on phone communications increased 60 percent from 23,535 to 37,616.

The number of people whose phone calls were subject to such surveillance during that same time period tripled.

Up 60 percent? Tripled? It’s probably all attributable to the fact those do-nothing Republicans in Congress the House prevented taxpayer funding for the Justice Department, leaving them short-staffed and allowing such things to be publically reported (versus destroying the information before the FOIA request could be processed).

And another thing: that whole Bush/Guantanamo Bay debacle? That was just another form of extra-legal conservative activity, almost like a concentration camp… err… never mind.

(Buy the image at Zazzle.)

The irony of Credo

In a ten-minute video, the WSJ suggests left-coast liberal/progressive/activist/social justice phone service provider Credo is the victim of a hush-hush National Security Letters demand.

I seem to remember when candidate Obama said the seas would stop rising and life in America would be all seashells and bubbles (to include the Justice Department) under his wise and benevolent guidance.

So while Credo is all anti-Tea Party, anti-development, pro-snail dart, pro-gun control, etc., they’re also against (and perhaps a victim of) the Administration’s surveillance state.

Perhaps Credo has forgotten that its the government that allowed them to be successful in the first place, hmm?

The lesson? The natural and uncorrected bent of government ratchets in one direction: towards its own power.

Barryworld—send lawyers, drones, and spyware.

Obama’s FDA: surveillance nation

The Administration of the most transparent President ever, the one who’s gotten his records, transcripts, test scores, dental records, etc. sealed, is at it again according to the New York Times:

A wide-ranging surveillance operation by the Food and Drug Administration against a group of its own scientists used an enemies list of sorts as it secretly captured thousands of e-mails that the disgruntled scientists sent privately to members of Congress, lawyers, labor officials, journalists and even President Obama, previously undisclosed records show.

How bad were things? Well, if this were the Administration of George W. Bush, there would be calls for heads. Since it isn’t, there won’t be. But it was bad.

The agency [that is, the FDA], using so-called spy software designed to help employers monitor workers, captured screen images from the government laptops of the five scientists as they were being used at work or at home. The software tracked their keystrokes, intercepted their personal e-mails, copied the documents on their personal thumb drives and even followed their messages line by line as they were being drafted, the documents show.

The extraordinary surveillance effort grew out of a bitter dispute lasting years between the scientists and their bosses at the F.D.A. over the scientists’ claims that faulty review procedures at the agency had led to the approval of medical imaging devices for mammograms and colonoscopies that exposed patients to dangerous levels of radiation.

Send lawyers, drones, and spyware. And money.

While federal agencies have broad discretion to monitor their employees’ computer use, the F.D.A. program may have crossed legal lines by grabbing and analyzing confidential information that is specifically protected under the law, including attorney-client communications, whistle-blower complaints to Congress and workplace grievances filed with the government.

I think this is the time to drop a They told me if I voted for John McCain we’d have a paranoid administration full of surveillance efforts and enemies lists. And they were right!

Enemy of the state: America’s farmers and ranchers

Send lawyers, drones, and money is a common theme of the Administration. (And send the guns to the drug kings.)

As a logical extension of this theme, it seems the Administration’s surveillance state is hard at it, watching the threat of environmental terrorism from America’s farmers and ranchers. From Yahoo:

EPA officials explained during a meeting with ranchers in West Point, Neb., that they lease small planes that fly EPA staffers over cattle operations. The staffers take photographs as they seek evidence of illegal animal waste running off into rivers and streams.

I’m surprised the EPA isn’t using national technical means.

Kill a snail, go to jail.

We’re from the EPA and we’re here to help.