“It’s all about the data this year and Obama has that. When a race is as close as this one promises to be, any small advantage could absolutely make the difference,” says Andrew Rasiej, a technology strategist and publisher of TechPresident. “More and more accurate data means more insight, more money, more message distribution, and more votes.”
“They are way ahead of Romney micro-targeting and it’s a level of precision we haven’t seen before,” says Darrell M. West, a leading scholar on technology innovation at the Brookings Institution. “[The Obama campaign has] been able to work on it under the radar during the Republican primary season.”
“More than 40 percent of all our donors are new, and a lot of them are coming in because of things like this,” says Messina. “Call up our website and try to donate on your phone and then do Romney’s. … Those things are important, because people are busy and people want to help us and they think about — ‘Oh, yeah, I saw the president on TV. I want to give them money. How hard is it?’ ”
Adds Nicco Mele, a Harvard professor and social media guru: “The fabric of our public and political space is shifting. If the Obama campaign can combine its data efforts with the way people now live their lives online, a new kind of political engagement — and political persuasion — is possible.” (Politico)
Washington Post: A federal department ruled last week that the Forest Service violated a Spanish-speaking woman’s civil rights by calling the Border Patrol to help translate during a routine stop, saying it was “humiliating” to Hispanics and an illicit backdoor way to capture more illegal immigrants.
The ruling by the Agriculture Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights could change policies nationwide as law enforcement agencies grapple with how far they can go in trying to help the Border Patrol while not running afoul of racial profiling standards.
Assistant Secretary Joe Leonard Jr. said calling the Border Patrol automatically “escalates” encounters between Hispanics and law enforcement. He ruled that the Forest Service cannot routinely summon the Border Patrol for assistance and said the agency now must document suspected racial profiling nationwide.
“Given the increased risk of being questioned about immigration status during an interaction with [Border Patrol], the policy of using BP for interpretation assistance is problematic in all situations because it places a burden on [limited English proficient] individuals that non-LEP individuals do not experience,” Mr. Leonard ruled.
The case stems from a 2011 incident in Olympic National Forest in Washington in which a Forest Service officer encountered a Hispanic couple who he said appeared to be illegally harvesting plants on the federal lands.
The couple didn’t speak English and he didn’t speak fluent Spanish and, anticipating that situation, he called the Border Patrol for backup and translating.
But when a Border Patrol agent arrived, the couple fled. The woman was apprehended, but the man jumped into a river to try to escape and drowned. The Border Patrol took the woman into custody but released her several days later, reportedly on humanitarian grounds.
The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project complained to the Agriculture Department, which oversees the Forest Service, and last week’s ruling was the result.
Matt Adams, legal director of the project, said the Border Patrol has been expanding its reach in the Northwest and that has meant more encounters well away from the border.
“They’ve got nothing to do out there as far as their traditional mission, that is enforcing people coming through the border. So in order to justify those expanded numbers, they utilize these other tactics,” Mr. Adams said. “At the end of the day, they can drag in bigger numbers, but it’s not focused on the border.”
His group is challenging other federal agencies’ use of the Border Patrol for translation services, and has filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act seeking logs for how often agents are used for translation.
Last week’s ruling relies in part on an executive order issued during the Clinton administration that says language is interchangeable with national origin, which is protected by federal law.
Groups that push for English-language policies in the U.S. called the new ruling illegal and said the government appeared to be granting special language rights to illegal immigrants.
“The ACLU and illegal alien rights groups are well aware that American courts have never upheld their argument that language and national origin are equal, so they battle out these disputes in private between the agencies in order to come to a settlement where both the courts and the taxpayers are absent from the table,” said Suzanne Bibby, director of government relations for ProEnglish. “This is their new strategy because they know they will lose in the courts.”
A spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, said the agency is reviewing the ruling but is committed to civil rights.
The union that represents Forest Service employees didn’t return a call seeking comment.
In the proceedings, the Forest Service fought on behalf of its officer. It pointed to an operational memo with the Border Patrol that said they are allowed to back up each other. Since Forest Service employees generally are not trained in Spanish, Border Patrol agents are particularly helpful in backing up encounters with Hispanics, the agency said.
Mr. Leonard’s 40-page ruling underscored deep mutual distrust on both sides in the town of Forks, in northwestern Washington.
Town residents who told the review board that the Forest Service officer involved in the 2011 stop was known for harassing Hispanics and for working with the Border Patrol.
Meanwhile, the Forest Service officer said he felt like the Hispanic community had been “tracing” his movements.
Mr. Leonard was skeptical of the officer’s reasoning and said he found the complaints from the community more convincing.
The ruling doesn’t reveal the names of those involved.
Underpinning the ruling were some key legal arguments: First, that the complainant was entitled to visit the national forest; second, that a law enforcement stop affects the availability of the service provided by the national forest; and third, that the Forest Service must take steps to protect those with limited English, including making them not feel unduly threatened.
“A policy that causes individuals to actually flee from the service being provided does not provide meaningful access,” Mr. Leonard wrote.
Judge Andrew Napolitano:
…Nevertheless, what Jeffersonians are among us today? When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it? Jefferson understood that when the government assaults our privacy and dignity, it is the moral equivalent of violence against us. Folks who hear about this, who either laugh or groan, cannot find it humorous or boring that their every move will be monitored and photographed by the government.
Don’t believe me that this is coming? The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the “recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel insidetheUnitedStates and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them “to collect information about U.S. persons.”
It gets worse. If the military personnel see something of interest from a drone, they may apply to a military judge or “military commander” for permission to conduct a physical search of the private property that intrigues them. Any “incidentally acquired information” can be retained or turned over to local law enforcement. What’s next? Prosecutions before military tribunals in the United States?
The quoted phrases above are extracted from a now-public 30-page memorandum issued by President Obama’s secretary of the Air Force on April 23. The purpose of the memorandum is stated as “balancing … obtaining intelligence information … and protecting individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.” Note the primacy of intelligence-gathering over protection of freedom, and note the peculiar use of the word “balancing.”
When liberty and safety clash, do we really expect the government to balance those values? Of course not. The government cannot be trusted to restrain itself in the face of individual choices to pursue happiness. That’s why we have a Constitution and a life-tenured judiciary: to protect the minority from the liberty-stealing impulses of the majority. And that’s why the Air Force memo has its priorities reversed – intelligence-gathering first, protecting freedom second – and the mechanism of reconciling the two – balancing them – constitutionally incorrect.
Everyone who works for the government swears to uphold the Constitution. It was written to define and restrain the government. According to the Declaration of Independence, the government’s powers come from the consent of the governed. The government in America was not created by a powerful king reluctantly granting liberty to his subjects. It was created by free people willingly granting limited power to their government – and retaining that which they did not delegate.
The Declaration also defines our liberties as coming from our Creator, as integral to our humanity and inseparable from us, unless we give them up by violating someone else’s liberties. Hence, the Jeffersonian and constitutional beef with the word “balancing” when it comes to government power versus individual liberty.
The Judeo-Christian and constitutionally mandated relationship between government power and individual liberty is not balance. It is bias – a bias in favor of liberty. All presumptions should favor the natural rights of individuals, not the delegated and seized powers of the government. Individual liberty, not government power, is the default position because persons are immortal and created in God’s image, and governments are temporary and based on force.
Hence my outrage at the coming use of drones – some as small as golf balls – to watch us, listen to us and record us. Did you consent to the government having that power? Did you consent to the American military spying on Americans in America? I don’t know a single person who has, but I know only a few who are complaining.
If we remain silent when our popularly elected government violates the laws it has sworn to uphold and steals the freedoms we elected it to protect, we will have only ourselves to blame when Big Brother is everywhere. Somehow, I doubt my father’s generation fought the Nazis in World War II only to permit a totalitarian government to flourish here.
Is President Obama prepared to defend this? Is Mitt Romney prepared to challenge it? Are you prepared for its consequences?