The Best and Worst of 2015

Derek Hunter: As far as years go, 2015 certainly was one of them. The news was not wanting for content, and we columnists were not wanting for material. It was a year of tragedies and triumphs bookended by terrorist attacks in Paris. A reality TV star became the leading candidate of a major political party, “Star Wars” returned, and I got married. Yep, 2015 was quite a year.

I had a health scare that resulted in a pacemaker and a different view on mortality just months after my Dad died.

Not the best of times by far.

Politics:

The Best

Donald Trump. For all his problems, and they are legion, and the bluster, and it is constant, he’s done more than anyone in recent years to get people to pay attention to politics and just how corrupt the media and the Democrats have become. He’s been battering the media since the start, slamming his opponents since and changing how politics is done.

While, I’m still not a full on Trump guy I do like that he makes the Left and the RINOs crazy and just doesn’t give a damn. That really shakes them up.

Trump has been holding a clinic on how to run against Democrats and the media since his announcement. Aside from momentary flashes, none of the rest of the field appears to have learned a thing.

Because they are all stuck in their ways. They can’t see doing it any other way. Especially, Democrats, they have one playbook and they go to it every nanosecond of every day.

Expect all out nuclear war again on the Republicans. No atom will be lest un-nuked, no ethic or moral will not be cr0ssed in the quest for the Coronation of King Barack’s successor Queen Hillary.

The Republican RINOs are just plain lost.

If Trump is the nominee, Democrats may well win, but they will have been so battered and bruised they’d be hard-pressed to govern with any effectiveness. If he isn’t the nominee, whoever is will have learned how to be locked in a box with a rabid spider monkey and survive. The eventual nominee, whoever it ends up being, will be a much more devastating candidate thanks to Trump’s entry into the race.

The Media is still setting up the Coronation of Queen Hillary I like they have for 4 years now. I doubt they are going to change.

But maybe, just maybe, the sleeping stupid will recognize it for what it is.

That,and just maybe, the Republicans will actually run a campaign to WIN this time. Maybe.

 

The Worst

As awful as she is, Hillary Clinton is not the worst person on the national political stage. Until he leaves office, Barack Obama’s head wears the crown.

In a post-9/11, post-Paris, post-San Bernardino world, the president of the United States managed to go 12 months in which he used the words “radical Islamic terrorism” only to chastise others for saying them.

Well, you’re talking about his friends and mentors, the Muslims. They can’t be evil. That’s like Lule finding out Darth Vader is his Father…. 🙂

The economy continues to falter, our enemies are on the march, and the president has improved his short-game. The Obama presidency is a hilarious joke, but sadly it’s not the funny kind of joke.

But the Democrats continue to self-delude themselves that everything is awesome and we just need to get rid of those naybobs negativity.

One more year…

11 Months+ a few days. Don’t make it any longer than it has to be. Though if Queen Hillary wins we’re all doomed and you might as well close up shop and move to Fiji because it’s over.

Lie Of The Year

The “winner” of this category is obvious, which is why it hasn’t won any of these “awards” from the mainstream media: Hillary Clinton’s ever-evolving claims about classified material on her secret, unsecured email server.

Though I think her saying that the Benghazi families who have been ripping her for years about her You Tube cause of the incident are now lying because she never said it was pretty close.

“What Difference Does it Make?”

Her original statement at her press conference at the UN, was, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” High-stakes divorce settlements are less carefully worded.

Note how she specifically said she didn’t send any classified material, and how there “is” nothing classified on her server. She’d wiped it by then, though not thoroughly, so, in using present tense, she was telling her version of the truth.

After that original statement, Hillary’s story “evolved” at least two more times to she never “sent or received anything marked classified at the time.”

After that lie the media lost interest. Why wouldn’t they? Their candidate is ensnared in an FBI investigation that, were it anyone else, already would have led to an indictment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees by now.

But we aren’t named Clinton; we haven’t been selling, or at least renting, our positions for sums of money that rival the worth of third-world economies, and a president of her party still controls the prosecutors.

No, we’re civilians, bound by truth, and she’s Hillary, utterly unburdened by such trivialities.

As we wind up 2015, I think we’ve dwelled enough on politics. So a few notes on a couple of other things.

Sports

The year started with a great Super Bowl. What a game! But it will be remembered as the game that gave us Deflategate. Tom Brady won – everything. He continues to live a charmed life, and good for him. Unless you bet against him.

And the Seahawks created a blunder for the ages that will be talked about until Liberals outlaw football altogether sometime later in the Century.

 

The Super Bowl was the highlight of the year for New England sports fans, but the rest of the world had to suffer until the World Series. After decades of miserable losing, New England (particularly in Boston) started winning. And their fans, both in baseball and football, became even more miserable to be around during a game. And I say that as someone with many friends who fit this description.

But the highlight of the year was the World Series.

The Kansas City Royals are a lot of fun to watch. They scrap and scrape together runs in a way no other team does.

Arizona Cardinals anyone? Anyone?? 🙂

Movies

I love “Star Wars,” saw it three times the weekend it opened. But it doesn’t win for movie of the year with me. There were a lot of great “art house” movies, and I’m sure one with $48 in box office receipts will win the Oscar. But “The Martian” was the most enjoyable movie of 2015. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor. Even if you don’t care for Matt Damon (and I wouldn’t blame you), you’ll enjoy this movie.

I love “Star Wars” but I still think either Jurassic World or Avengers 2. I never saw “The Martian”.

Television

“The Walking Dead” remains TV’s best drama.

DOCTOR WHO! 🙂

The zombie aspect might turn your off, but it’s much more than that. Moreover, it’s a show that generates true suspense, in which no one knows what’s going to happen from week to week and no character, no matter who they are, is safe.

DOCTOR WHO! 🙂

If you’re a comic book nerd, or if you don’t mind super hero movies, might I also suggest checking out “Jessica Jones” on Netflix. It’s a surprisingly good series with humor, action and a great anti-hero. And, unlike “The Walking Dead,” you can binge-watch it over a weekend.

Haven’t got around to it yet. And that shows you how technology has changed so much.

I’m not sad to see 2015 go, though it does seem like it went fast. With 2016 being an election year, it will fly by as well. While I work and play in the first half of this column, life happens in the rest. Hope you had a great 2015, and I hope you have as much fun as possible in 2016. 

Here’s to 2016. The Hope of the future of our Country rests on your shoulders.

No pressure. 🙂

Michael Ramirez Cartoon
Star Wars Matters
Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

You Just Might Be A Liberal…

Are you not sure that you’re a liberal? Well, there’s an easy way to find out. You might be a liberal if…

1) ….Your newspaper calls people “bigoted” for being worried about bringing Syrian refugees to America, but you won’t run pictures of Muhammad because you’re afraid Muslims might kill you for it.

2) ….You think every man accused of sexual assault is guilty until proven innocent except Bill Clinton.

3)….You insist that anyone who questions global warming hates science even though you don’t understand any of the science behind it yourself and you say we have to do something about climate change primarily because you want to impress your liberal friends.

4) ….You are terrified that holding terrorists at Guantanamo Bay who are trying to murder Americans might make the other terrorists who are trying to murder Americans mad.

5) ….You believe there’s a “Republican War on Women;” yet you are okay with aborting baby girls for any reason, think any man who says he identifies as a woman should be able to use the women’s bathroom and you want to put Bill Clinton back in the White House.

6) ….You claim to constantly hear Republican “dog whistles” that 99% of the population misses; yet you’d deny you’re racist for insisting that black Americans aren’t competent enough to get an ID to vote.

 

7) …You think there’s a possibility that Obama might be able to have a productive conversation with radical Islamists who want to kill us, but dialogue with the NRA is impossible.

8)….You believe Hillary Clinton is telling the truth. About anything. Ever.

9) ….You simultaneously believe the police are violent trigger-happy racists who shoot people for no good reason and that we should disarm the populace so that only the government has guns.

10) ….You went to a talk given on your campus by a conservative just so you could scream at him for “invading your safe space.”

11) ….You think Chris Kyle was a monster for killing so many enemies of America while Bowe Bergdahl deserves to be treated with respect and compassion after deserting his unit.

12) ….You believe you’re a caring and compassionate person because you advocate giving other people’s money away to people you hope will vote for candidates you like.

13) ….You believe that anyone who dislikes Barack Obama must hate him because he’s a minority, but your hatred of Ted Cruz and Clarence Thomas is perfectly justifiable.

14) ….You think you are a sophisticated person with a deep understanding of complex political issues, but sum up every one with some variation of, “Republicans are evil, racist, and they hate you while liberals like me are nice!”

15) ….You think it’s vitally important to increase the number of Muslim immigrants coming to America so they can inform on all the other Muslims who are planning terrorist attacks.

16) ….You blame the Republicans for the failure of Obamacare even though none of them voted for it.

17) ….Your first response to a terrorist attack committed by radical Islamists who’ve sworn allegiance to ISIS is to try to disarm every law-abiding gun owner in the country.

18) ….You think an unemployed, white factory worker who’s struggling to feed his family has some sort of racial privilege compared to Barack Obama, Melissa Harris Perry or Al Sharpton.

19) ….You say fences don’t work and gun-free zones do, but if Republicans wanted the fence around the White House taken down and demanded that the Secret Service be disarmed, you’d accuse them of trying to get Obama killed.

20) ….You believe Bruce Jenner is a woman, Rachel Dolezal is black and Elizabeth Warren is an Indian.

21)  Food in any way can be a “microagression” based on race, religion, sex, or ethnicity.

22) Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. Guns kill people so getting rid of Guns will kill less people.

23) The Power of Life and Death is “Pro-Choice”.

24) Any immigration is good no matter how it was done and anyone opposed to any immigration of any kind is “racist”.

25) A Religion is a Race, unless they are Christians, then they are just bigots.

26) Utter the word “islamophobia” and mean it.

27) Anything with a (D) after their name is ok and can do anything they want because it’s better than they alternative.

28) Democrats Lie, but it’s your fault not theirs.

29) A Tax is a Penalty, even after it’s ruled a Tax it’s still a Penalty.

30) “What Difference Does it Make?”

31) It was the fault of a You Tube Video.

32) That the Media is not biased and that people like Hillary and Barack are “moderates” and any Republican is “extreme”.

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel
Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell
Political Cartoons by Steve Kelley
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Pizza Order 2015

What’s more American than Pizza.

The Federalist: THIS Is What Ordering a Pizza Will Be Like If Big Government Liberals Get their Way

The following reminded me of a 2004 You tube video, amusingly this was made by the ACLU. The irony is almost as tasty as the pizza.

Big_Government_Pizza_3

Give the government all your info, and it will use it. 🙂

I wonder if I could get a little Lion on my pizza?

Oh, and when the Leftist Holier-Than-Thou PC Vegans take over, good luck getting any meat at all.

ACLU 2013 article on this “bubbling back up”

At first glance, the video seems laughable. A man calls his favorite pizza place to place an order, and he’s soon roped into a 1984-esque dystopia (with Windows 95-esque graphics) in which everything from his voting and employment history to his health records and library activity are “wired in” to a sinister uber-database, which the pizza place uses to bully him into ordering food he doesn’t want (because it’s better for his health) for an inflated price (delivery costs $20 extra because the customer lives in a high-crime area, according to the pizza place’s records). Uh, I used GrubHub last week and nothing remotely like this happened to me. Ha ha, ACLU #fail! …Right?

Not necessarily, says Lorrie Faith Cranor, a tech privacy expert at Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory. “It is actually not all that farfetched,” she told me via email. “I’ve shown this video many times in my classes and it is always a good way to start a discussion.”

What the video gets right

“There are companies that do gather most of the information that the pizza shop in the video has. I think it is less likely that information about library books would be available in such a profile, as libraries usually try pretty hard to protect information about what people read. But information about what magazines you subscribe to, travel plans, and clothing sizes is the sort of information that companies are collecting.”

The government also wants to collect everything about you, regardless of how inane it is. Plus after this was produced Facebook came into existence and now you have a whole new database of info, not just the NSA.

What it gets less right

“Companies don’t necessarily want you to know they have all this information about you, because people tend to find it creepy. So I’m not sure a pizza shop would really let on that they know all this. 

The government doesn’t want to let on how much it knows either, but ObamaCare wants all your medical records digitized so they can be found by anyone. 🙂

The video doesn’t anticipate location tracking or information that can be collected through mobile apps. The pizza shop does not know whether the customer is calling from home or work because he calls from his cell phone. It is not too much of a stretch to believe that companies may be able to pinpoint precisely where you are calling from on your cell phone in the future.”

They can know. So can the Government. Oh, and then there’s the Drones…

Privacy as perception: a user-experience design problem

What I find most interesting about Cranor’s comments is the interface-design aspect of privacy. If the pizza place simply didn’t mention everything it was doing behind the scenes to aggregate and interpret the customer’s personal data, and simply offered opt-in recommendations, it might not have seemed so dystopian to the customer. And in fact, this approach is what Google, Facebook, and other “all in the cloud” personal-data-integrators are all about. Don’t show how the data-mining sausage is made; just offer useful functionality.

Precisely. Sausage making is messy. Especially, if you’re the US Government.

A decade after the ACLU made this ham-handed video, a lot of what it depicts has come to pass, and we don’t much mind–because privacy is perception. This works both ways. Remember when Path got lambasted last year for uploading users’ iOS contacts into its database without telling them? Sounds pretty creepy, and the internet freaked out about it… even though apps had been doing this for years already, often for sound technical reasons. Instagram’s Terms-of-Service flap also stemmed from a perception problem. The new TOS sounded more creepy and privacy-violating than it actually was, so Instgram reverted to older legalese that was less emotionally “triggering” but more potentially privacy-violating.

Tech privacy in this decade is a lot weirder than the ACLU could’ve predicted in the last one. Do our privacy tolerances depend more on the subtleties of design and communication than on the brute-force capabilities of the technology itself?

Their is no privacy left and if there were Liberals would take it away from you because you’re a moron and they are so vastly superior in running your life for you.

That’s the irony.

Anyone for some Kale Chips… 🙂

Political Cartoons by Glenn Foden
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Just Give Up

I passionately disagree with Bill Maher’s Left wing politics. But on the following he nailed it.

BILL MAHER: Now that Americans are getting wise to the dangers of being spied on by the government, they have to start getting more alarmed about spying on each other. Because at the Donald Sterling mess proved anything it’s that there’s a force out there just as powerful as Big Brother — Big Girlfriend.

Last week, when President Obama was asked about the Sterling episode, he said, ‘When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, just let them talk.’ But Sterling didn’t advertise, he was bugged. And while he may not be worth defending, the Fourth Amendment is. That’s the one that says we have the right to be secure in our person, in our homes, in our property. Well, not if bitching to your girlfriend in your home loses you your property. Well, not if bitching to your girlfriend in your home loses you your property.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Kathleen Parker offered one way with dealing the modern world’s ubiquitous invasions of privacy: give up. She wrote: ‘If you don’t want your words broadcast in the public square, don’t say them.’ Really? Even at home? We have to talk like a White House press spokesman?

That’s Orwell’s Thought Police, Newspeak, and Crimethink.
She then looked on the bright side by saying, ‘Such potential exposure forces us to more carefully select our words and edit our thoughts.’ Always editing? I rather be a Mormon. And that’s what we all would be — Mitt Romney. I would listen to a hundred horrific Cliven Bundy rants if that was the price of living in a world where I could also hear interesting and funny people talk without a filter.

Welcome to 1984, for real. Where 249th pick of the NFL Draft is a star because he’s gay and Tim Tebow, a First Round Pick is a “distraction” because he’s a Christian!

Christopher Hitchens said “Islamophobic is a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.

Perhaps most chilling of all, Parker said, ‘Speaking one’s mind isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.’ Which is quite a statement, since her job is speaking her mind. It’s like mailman telling you that letters are stupid.

You can speak your mind, as long as the Thought Police approve of what you’re saying. If not…well…. 🙂

So let me get this straight. We should concede that there is no such thing anymore as a private conversation, so therefore remember to lawyer everything you say before you say it, and, hey, speaking your mind is overrated anyway, so you won’t miss it. Well, I’ll miss it, I’ll miss it a lot. And for the record, speaking my mind is absolutely everything it is cracked up to be.

AMEN!

So many things have let me down in life: the iPod Nano, the Spiderman musical, Al Gore for president, M. Night Shyamalan movies, the entire 80s, Lance Armstrong, my scout leader. But speaking my mind? Priceless. Does anyone really want there to be no place where we can let our hair down and not worry if the bad angel in our head occasionally grabs the mic?

Yes, Politically Correct Liberals.

After all, one of there Queens Rachel Maddow points out that while some red state governors are suffering harsh budgetary consequences for reckless tax-cut policies, President Obama is showing continued success at reducing the deficit faster than at any time since World War Two.

But the debt has gone up $7 1/2 TRILLION Dollars in 5 1/2 years. But don’t mind me I’m just a “hater” and I need to be “re-educated” or at the very least have my thoughts corrected so I don’t cause a fuss with bad information.

I have impure thoughts and I should just edit myself before I say them or type them.

He’s Overspending Less every year so we should celebrate his greatness you “racist” hater you!!  🙂

What about the bathroom? Not a public bathroom, of course I expect to be taped and photographed in there. But my bathroom at home. Would it be okay if that was kind of a cone of silence where I can invite friends in to speak freely? Who wants to live in a world where the only privacy you have is inside your head? That’s what life in East Germany was like, that’s why we fought the Cold War, remember? So we never have to live in some awful limbo, where you never knew who, even among your friends, was an informer. And now we are doing it to ourselves. Well don’t. Don’t be a part of the problem.

That’s 1984 for you. You don’t know who’s working for the Ministry so you have to guard your thoughts, thus control your thoughts 24/7/365 for your entire life. Doesn’t that sound like freedom? 🙂

If this was a campaign ad, I’d say, ‘Call Kathleen Parker and tell her you’re not ready to edit what you say in private.’ And just to fuck with her head, tell her you have an audio of a book party she gave at home with 5 close female friends, all of whom had way too much wine. Because I’m sure there has been that night, and she wouldn’t want that tape to come out. Who would? Because we’re humans, we’re not that good.

But sanctimonious Liberals want to exploit it.

We’re not ready to live in a world where everything has to come out perfectly in the first take. There’s a reason houses have doors on them and windows have shades. And if I want to sit in the privacy of my living room and say I think The Little Mermaid is hot and I want to bang her, or I don’t like watching two men kiss, or I think tattoos look terrible on black people, I should be able to, even if you think it makes me an asshole. Now, do I really believe those things? I’m not telling you because you’re not in my living room!

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”-Gandhi

And Liberals believe they are superior to you, so they condescend to you, then they want to control you for your own good, and they habitually think nothing of you and they value on their continued superiority and their authoritarian destiny where they rule all that they survey and everyone bows down to them and no impure thoughts escape.

Welcome, Citizen to the Liberal Utopia. 🙂

P.s.

But if you read the article it’s not quite so drastic and somewhat passive aggressive Liberalism, funny that. 🙂

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-cliven-bundys-and-donald-sterlings-sobering-message/2014/04/29/66863b9e-cfcf-11e3-a6b1-45c4dffb85a6_story.html

You decide, in your own head. 🙂

Political Cartoons by Steve Kelley

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

 Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Because they are out to get YOU….

WASHINGTON — The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project.

The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years  of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.

In a sign of how the use of such technologies can be developed for one use but then expanded to another, the BOSS research began as an effort to help the military detect potential suicide bombers and other terrorists overseas at “outdoor polling places in Afghanistan and Iraq,” among other sites, the documents show. But in 2010, the effort was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security to be developed for use instead by the police in the United States. (WP)

The National Security Agency’s surveillance network has the capacity to spy on 75 percent of all U.S. Internet traffic, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

Citing current and former NSA officials for the 75 percent figure, the paper reported that the agency can observe more of Americans’ online communications than officials have publicly acknowledged. 

The NSA’s system of programs that filter communications, achieved with the help of telecommunications companies, is designed to look for communications that either start or end abroad, or happen to pass through the U.S. between foreign countries. However, the officials told the Journal that the system’s reach is so broad, that it is more likely that purely domestic communications will be intercepted as a byproduct of the hunt for foreign ones. 

The system works by using algorithms that act as filters, designed to let high-value information through amid more benign chatter. However, after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, a former to intelligence official told the Journal that the government changed its definition of “reasonable” intelligence collection, enabling the NSA to widen the holes in the “filtering” system. 

The details are the latest to emerge about the NSA’s operations and capabilities, as authorities in the U.S. and other countries try to stop the release of more information about the elaborate surveillance network. Members of Congress on the intelligence committees, as well as past intelligence officials, recently have spoken up in defense of the agency, particularly after a report showing the agency had broken privacy rules and overstepped its authority thousands of times. 

The NSA programs described by the Journal differ from the programs described by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in a series of leaks earlier this summer. Snowden described a program to acquire Americans’ phone records, as well as another program, known as PRISM, that made requests from Internet companies for stored data. By contrast, the Internet monitoring systems have the capability to track almost any online activity, so long as it is covered by a broad court order. 

The NSA programs are overseen and approved by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. An NSA spokeswoman told the Journal that its actions were both legal and respectful of Americans’ privacy. In a statement made to Reuters, the NSA repeated the assertion, saying, “We defend the United States from such threats while fiercely working to protect the privacy rights of U.S. persons.”

”It’s not either/or. It’s both.” (FOX)

Michael Ramirez Cartoon
Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

 Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

No Escape

Public and Private Surveillance

The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership

By Bruce Schneier Imagine the government passed a law requiring all citizens to carry a tracking device. Such a law would immediately be found unconstitutional. Yet we all carry mobile phones.
National ID Card: Social Security
National Health Card: ObamaCare

If the National Security Agency required us to notify it whenever we made a new friend, the nation would rebel. Yet we notify Facebook Inc. (FB) If the Federal Bureau of Investigation demanded copies of all our conversations and correspondence, it would be laughed at. Yet we provide copies of our e-mail to Google Inc. (GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) or whoever our mail host is; we provide copies of our text messages to Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), AT&T Inc. (T) and Sprint Corp. (S); and we provide copies of other conversations to Twitter Inc., Facebook, LinkedIn (LNKD) Corp. or whatever other site is hosting them.

The primary business model of the Internet is built on mass surveillance, and our government’s intelligence-gathering agencies have become addicted to that data. Understanding how we got here is critical to understanding how we undo the damage.

Computers and networks inherently produce data, and our constant interactions with them allow corporations to collect an enormous amount of intensely personal data about us as we go about our daily lives. Sometimes we produce this data inadvertently simply by using our phones, credit cards, computers and other devices. Sometimes we give corporations this data directly on Google, Facebook, Apple Inc.’s iCloud and so on in exchange for whatever free or cheap service we receive from the Internet in return.

The NSA is also in the business of spying on everyone, and it has realized it’s far easier to collect all the data from these corporations rather than from us directly. In some cases, the NSA asks for this data nicely. In other cases, it makes use of subtle threats or overt pressure. If that doesn’t work, it uses tools like national security letters.

The Partnership

The result is a corporate-government surveillance partnership, one that allows both the government and corporations to get away with things they couldn’t otherwise.

There are two types of laws in the U.S., each designed to constrain a different type of power: constitutional law, which places limitations on government, and regulatory law, which constrains corporations. Historically, these two areas have largely remained separate, but today each group has learned how to use the other’s laws to bypass their own restrictions. The government uses corporations to get around its limits, and corporations use the government to get around their limits.

This partnership manifests itself in various ways. The government uses corporations to circumvent its prohibitions against eavesdropping domestically on its citizens. Corporations rely on the government to ensure that they have unfettered use of the data they collect.

Here’s an example: It would be reasonable for our government to debate the circumstances under which corporations can collect and use our data, and to provide for protections against misuse. But if the government is using that very data for its own surveillance purposes, it has an incentive to oppose any laws to limit data collection. And because corporations see no need to give consumers any choice in this matter — because it would only reduce their profits — the market isn’t going to protect consumers, either.

Our elected officials are often supported, endorsed and funded by these corporations as well, setting up an incestuous relationship between corporations, lawmakers and the intelligence community.

The losers are us, the people, who are left with no one to stand up for our interests. Our elected government, which is supposed to be responsible to us, is not. And corporations, which in a market economy are supposed to be responsive to our needs, are not. What we have now is death to privacy — and that’s very dangerous to democracy and liberty.

Challenging Power

The simple answer is to blame consumers, who shouldn’t use mobile phones, credit cards, banks or the Internet if they don’t want to be tracked. But that argument deliberately ignores the reality of today’s world. Everything we do involves computers, even if we’re not using them directly. And by their nature, computers produce tracking data. We can’t go back to a world where we don’t use computers, the Internet or social networking. We have no choice but to share our personal information with these corporations, because that’s how our world works today.

Curbing the power of the corporate-private surveillance partnership requires limitations on both what corporations can do with the data we choose to give them and restrictions on how and when the government can demand access to that data. Because both of these changes go against the interests of corporations and the government, we have to demand them as citizens and voters. We can lobby our government to operate more transparently — disclosing the opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court would be a good start — and hold our lawmakers accountable when it doesn’t. But it’s not going to be easy. There are strong interests doing their best to ensure that the steady stream of data keeps flowing. (Bloomberg)

FBI ALLOWS CRIME

The FBI gave its informants permission to break the law at least 5,658 times in a single year, according to newly disclosed documents that show just how often the nation’s top law enforcement agency enlists criminals to help it battle crime.

The U.S. Justice Department ordered the FBI to begin tracking crimes by its informants more than a decade ago, after the agency admitted that its agents had allowed Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger to operate a brutal crime ring in exchange for information about the Mafia. The FBI submits that tally to top Justice Department officials each year, but has never before made it public.

Agents authorized 15 crimes a day, on average, including everything from buying and selling illegal drugs to bribing government officials and plotting robberies. FBI officials have said in the past that permitting their informants — who are often criminals themselves — to break the law is an indispensable, if sometimes distasteful, part of investigating criminal organizations.

“It sounds like a lot, but you have to keep it in context,” said Shawn Henry, who supervised criminal investigations for the FBI until he retired last year. “This is not done in a vacuum. It’s not done randomly. It’s not taken lightly.”

A spokeswoman for the FBI, Denise Ballew, declined to answer questions about the report, saying only that the circumstances in which its informants are allowed to break the law are “situational, tightly controlled,” and subject to Justice Department policy.(USA Today)

But cavalierly, yes. All while they are watching us. And suing states, and trying to control voter registration, and harassing citizens for their own agenda.

DEA TRACKING YOU

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

Now, it’s combating YOU. 🙂

So you want to commit crime, do it FOR the FBI and NSA.

Gee, that makes me feel better…

Be Seeing You

“There’s no expectation of privacy” for a vehicle driving on a public road or parked in a public place, said Lt. Bill Hedgpeth, a spokesman for the Mesquite Police Department in Texas, which has records stretching back to 2008, although the city plans next month to begin deleting files older than two years. “It’s just a vehicle. It’s just a license plate.”

Number Six: What do you want?
Number Two: Information.
Number Six: Whose side are you on?
Number Two: That would be telling. We want information… information… in formation.
Number Six: You won’t get it.
Number Two: By hook or by crook, we will.
Number Six: Who are you?
Number Two: The new Number Two.
Number Six: Who is Number One?
Number Two: You are Number Six.
Number Six: I am not a number! I am a free man!
Number Two: [laughs]
Chances are, your local or state police departments have photographs of your car in their files, noting where you were driving on a particular day, even if you never did anything wrong.Using automated scanners, law enforcement agencies across the country have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. Affixed to police cars, bridges or buildings, the scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and note their location, uploading that information into police databases. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely.

As the technology becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, and federal grants focus on aiding local terrorist detection, even small police agencies are able to deploy more sophisticated surveillance systems. While the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a judge’s approval is needed to track a car with GPS, networks of plate scanners allow police effectively to track a driver’s location, sometimes several times every day, with few legal restrictions. The ACLU says the scanners assemble what it calls a “single, high-resolution image of our lives.”

“There’s just a fundamental question of whether we’re going to live in a society where these dragnet surveillance systems become routine,” said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the ACLU. The civil rights group is proposing that police departments immediately delete any records of cars not linked to a crime.

Law enforcement officials said the scanners can be crucial to tracking suspicious cars, aiding drug busts and finding abducted children. License plate scanners also can be efficient. The state of Maryland told the ACLU that troopers could “maintain a normal patrol stance” while capturing up to 7,000 license plate images in a single eight hour shift. (FOX)

Larry Elder: Someone did an experiment to test an old tale — that a frog placed in a pot of cool water, which is then slowly and continuously heated, will be boiled to death. By contrast, if thrown directly into scalding hot water, the frog jumps out. But it turns out that, no, once the water got hot enough, the critter hopped out of Dodge.

This raises a question. At what point does the continuous growth and intrusiveness of government make people wake up? This is not just a matter of theory or philosophy. People are hurting — as a direct result of President Barack Obama, his party, and the inability of the GOP to make the case for a smaller, less expensive and less intrusive government.

For five years, we have watched as President Barack Obama successfully pushed the following “redistributionist” agenda for building an economy: Take from the most productive to stimulate the economy by redistributing money, often with political consideration involved or attached; allow bureaucrats to pick winners and losers in the market; issue feel-good, top-down regulations that cost jobs and do little to improve conditions; and dictate the terms of health care with ObamaCare, a monstrosity that places one-seventh of our economy under the control of the federal government.

The results are in.

This is the worst economic recovery since World War II. Unemployment remains high. So many able-bodied people are dropping out of the labor force that the “labor force participation rate” remains near a 30-year low.

In 1900, government at all three levels took about 10 percent of our income. Today, government takes nearly 50 percent, or twice as much as people say government should. Yet when pollsters ask Americans how much money should government, at all three levels — state, local and federal — take from them, their answer has been consistent for decades: 25 percent.

Why, then, aren’t politicians in Washington, D.C., cowering under their desks, as angry constituents pound on their doors?

People, in the abstract, talk about freedom and liberty. But government dependency is so widespread that we accept the benefits — unaware that the costs are much higher than we think.

Nearly half of the federal budget goes to the three major entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. All of these programs address problems that the Constitution never intended. How do we know? Earlier presidents, citing constitutional reasons, rejected congressional attempts at growing the government.

In 1822, James Monroe, our fifth president, cast his only veto in rejecting an expansion of the Cumberland Road, even through it stood to economically benefit his home state of Virginia.

According to Monroe’s biography on the University of Virginia’s americanpresident.org: “Although Monroe personally supported the idea of internal improvements, he balked at the federal government’s role in the American System being proposed by Congressmen Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. They wanted a series of federally financed projects designed to improve and update the nation’s roads, bridges, and canals. Monroe worried, however, that federal payments for such internal improvements would expand even further the power of the federal government at the sake of state power. Where would the limits be drawn?”

Economist Walter Williams writes of Presidents James Madison, Franklin Pierce and Grover Cleveland, and how they quoted the Constitution to turn away congressional attempts to spend money because, they argued, the federal government is unauthorized to do so.

Fast forward to ObamaCare and the Supreme Court. Twenty-six states sued over the law, arguing that the individual insurance mandate — which requires every citizen in the country to purchase health care insurance or face a fine starting in 2014 — was unconstitutional. But the court, citing Congress’ authority to tax, let the mandate stand. In their dissent, Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said, “The entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.” Further, they wrote, there is a “mountain of evidence” that the mandate is not a tax. “To say that the individual mandate merely imposes a tax,” wrote Scalia, “is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it.”

In the end, of course, we get the government we vote for. Given that information gets filtered out through the Axis of Indoctrination — Hollywood, academia, and media — how much hope is there that people will wake up?

The smart, the well-connected, and the well-educated will be fine. Their previously depressed stock portfolios have returned, as companies learn to do more with fewer workers. High-end real estate is back, and the top 1 percent has regained the wealth lost during the recession — and then some.

The very people whom the left says it cares about are hurting. But rest assured, these elites care about them. They just have a strange way of showing it.

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

 Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

 Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell