Rand Paul’s Filibuster Shows Weakness Against Drones

The 13 hour Rand Paul filibuster was… well… tepid. Although he was standing up to the threat of the Federal Government’s refusal to rule out the use of drones against American citizens on American soil, he sounded more like a lawyer than the courageous politician he wanted to portray. The question isn’t “should they be used against citizens in extraordinary circumstances”… the question is “should they be used against citizens at all”.

The most depressing thing about the Obama administration is that it’s all about politics, even in the second term. Politics are clearly not working for the American people, and are all about dodging the hard questions. With the hard questions not being given the light of day, we can be sure that 99.9% of the time, the outcome will not serve the people.

How the Surveillance Society Happened

Day Page for March 1st, 2013 – Lovin’ The Surveillance Society – Abstract:

Hey kids, it’s Day Page for Friday, March 1st – with the ides of March ahead of us, and the first week of Day Page behind us, I’d like to visit one of my favorite topics… NOT! I’ll get right to the point: The government is taking our money, in the form of taxes, and using that money to pay domestic telecommunications companies to spy on us! It’s game over, and we lost. Here’s how it happened. What are you going to do about it?

Information Source(s):

http://jurist.org/paperchase/2011/12/us-appeals-court-upholds-telecom-company-immunity-law.php

Day Page is getting its’ own website:  http://daypage.net

New Facebook App Monitors Your Phone Calls

The newest Facebook app (for Android), out today, will monitor phone call state and caller identity information. It will, of course, report the same back to Facebook. That’s if you accept installation of the app.

Presumably, the Apple iPhone and iPad counterparts will do the same; the difference being that users won’t be notified… the added surveillance privileges afforded to the app by the operating system will be granted silently.

Other privacy invading features the newest Facebook app has that you may not like? It can record audio and video, and take pictures, without your knowledge.

On Android devices, it’s easy to see what capabilities an app has. The problem is, you, as the user, don’t have granular control over these capabilities. It’s all or nothing. If you don’t like the privacy implications of the app, you must either accept them, or remove the app from your device. There’s no middle-ground.

Apple iOS devices also lack granularity, with the exception of location services. Worse, it’s difficult to impossible to determine what security permissions are granted to a particular app.

It’s important to note that, even if you trust the app AND the app provider, there is always the possibility that a third party will find a way to hi-jack the app for their own nefarious uses. This famously occurred last year with Skype where it was widely reported that governments, businesses, and criminals were using spy software developed by a firm in Italy that allowed surreptitious use of the microphone and camera on devices used by surveillance targets.

Romney, Intentionally or Not, Personifies Racisim in America Today

I’m thoroughly disgusted with the Presidential race. But what disgusts me more is the closet racism evident with so many Americans even today. John Sununu’s recent racial gaffe [he’s the manager of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign] is just the most recent tip of the iceberg to appear in the media in this regard. Romney’s campaign has, in the words of Sununu’s CNN interviewer Piers Morgan, been awash with “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” racist referents.

The race to “get that Black man out of the White house” seems to have been triggered, or more appropriately “excused” by the dynamics of the first debate.

What no doubt appalls Morgan and other Brits as much as it appalls me is how the racism issue has been, pun intended, the elephant-in-the-room during this equally appalling campaign season. The dance around this issue has, otherwise, been fully embraced by American news media. And that too is disgusting. Even CNN’s Don Lemon, who attempted to address the issue delicately yesterday, tread far too lightly on the despicable issue. Today’s edition of “Meet the Press” was eerily haunted by the shadows of the past, and it was not trick-or-treat.

All those in denial that race is an issue should watch the clip below from “Meet the Press” in which Dr. Martin Luther King appears before a panel of mostly unabashed racists from the 1950’s (the era from which Mr. Romney obviously harkens). In this clip, the white interrogators are largely unabashed in their concern about this uppity black man who would allow white and black children to attend school together. And what about that ghastly prospect of interracial marriage?

Note there was nary a black face to be seen at the Republican National Convention at which Romney was nominated this fall. An elegy to separatism?

Yes, I’m trying to shame closet racists here, and I’m also being blunt, and refusing to finesse the issue. Racism is racism, and should be completely unacceptable today, whether it’s at your local shop, and, especially, if it’s inside your presidential candidate and/or his minions. Most of all, the ghastly taint of racism should not be perpetuated by voting for such a person for President.

All those aiding and abetting the wink-winking and nod-nodding on this issue are equally culpable. Shame on you all.

 

Hell Hath No Fury like the U.S. Caught Red-Handed

The Assange drama continues, with U.S. puppet Great Britain threatening to throw diplomatic treaties out the window to satisfy the rage of the U.S., caught red-handed, and now acting like a woman scorned.

The behavior of the U.S. with respect to Wikileaks has been shameful and an embarrassment The U.S. has spun out of control and become megalomaniacal. Even corrupt politicians know that when you’re caught in the act, you’ve got to come clean if you want a future with the American people. Our government acts as if it were a vindictive and petty god; alternatively as a small child that’s not getting its way and having a tantrum. No wonder there are bumper stickers everywhere: “I love this country. It’s the Government I’m afraid of”.

Haven’t we grown beyond the need for evil state secrets, abuse of our neighbors and partners, and lies as a way of conducting business? Wikileaks only proved what many of us had suspected, and the Government isn’t denying it. How could it? Instead of apologizing, saying it’s learned from its’ mistakes, and pledging to turn over a new leaf, it’s acting like an enraged petty dictator in denial (sound like anyone we know?), empaneling secret grand juries, putting out secret death warrants, and strong-arming nations in futile and unseemly attempt to punish those who have exposed its’ unseemly behavior. As long as the bad behavior continues, the U.S. will continue to see a rapid erosion of respect from the International community. Unless, of course, it confuses fear with respect.

They Can’t Hide Their Prying Eyes

A friend of mine described his recent hiring experience with a medium-large corporation. Normally, in these times, getting a good job with a “good company” should be a cause for celebration. But my friend felt sick to his stomach, and was shaking with fear, and mainly, loathing.

He had been required to fill out a form called a “request for background check”. The title made it sound like it was something he wanted, not something he was being forced to do. While the company insisted it was not required, they did say that if he didn’t fill it out, he would not be hired.

The form had a lengthy disclaimer section, in which it clearly stated that all information received in the process of the background check would be shared with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service, and the litany of federal bureaucracies went on.

It didn’t take much research to determine what this was about. It is more invasion of privacy by the government, and a technique by which a citizen’s right to privacy can be (further) circumvented by “sharing information” between “consenting parties”.

What’s amazing about the information I’m receiving on the government’s attempts to fulfill the mandate of the officially denied “Total Information Awareness” program is that it seems the government is not satisfied with having just one copy of a piece of information: they want multiple copies! When you look at the broader picture, it’s as if the government is suffering from an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), or hording disorder. They are spending fantastic amounts of (deficit) money collecting the same information over and over again. It’s not just destructive economically and ethically, it’s psychotic behavior.

To put this in perspective, the information is being collected to “protect us from terrorists”. My regular street-check shows that the only party afraid of terrorists is the government, and most of the people on the street find the government’s obsession with terrorism a joke. Most people have already figured out that if terrorists wanted to strike America, we’d have suicide bombers blowing themselves up in malls and fast-food restaurants all over. Few of the people in my street checks believe the government is competent to prevent terror attacks. To the contrary, they don’t credit the government with the capability of doing anything but wasting time and money. Any “shoe-bomber” type terrorist interventions are credited to alert citizens, Airlines, and the like. And, such incidents always have the mark of lunacy about them; the grand schemes are always attached after law-enforcement gets involved.

The picture that is rapidly emerging is one of a corrupt bureaucracy that has run amok, and threatens to be crushed under the weight of the excessive and redundant information it is collecting and hording about its citizens.

Given the degree of invasiveness being reached we can only hope that the self-induced crushing begins soon.

[this article has received the new tag: “The Lockdown of America”]

Class Action Abuse

I received another one of those Class Action Lawsuit notifications. After filing a number of them, and not getting what was promised, and then noticing the trend from being promised cash awards to being promised a pen with advertising on it, or a coupon for $2 at McDonalds, my view of such lawsuits started to change.

At first, the idea seemed good. Lawyers championing the little guy, and filing suits against companies (some big, but increasingly small and unable to fight back) that no individual would ever take on in court. But as time went on, it seemed the suits that were being filed were becoming more and more trivial. And since the lawyers were taking all the booty, and not distributing it as promised, I was rapidly coming to the view that it was abuse of the legal system.

I did what you’ve probably done. I started treating the class action notices as spam, or junk mail, simply throwing them out. Of course, when you do that, you automatically become part of the class (“you need do nothing to participate”). The lawyers get the money for being parasites of the system. But what can you do?

This time I got annoyed, and took some action of my own. I encourage you to do the same when you find yourself in the same position.

The lawsuit was with a company that I’d done business with in the past, of course, but I thought it was a good business. The infraction that was alleged was that they had sent out text messages that were spam to their customers. I remembered receiving the messages and being briefly annoyed at the time. I called them and asked them to stop, and they did. On a scale of one to ten, the annoyance factor of the spam messages was a one.

It seemed clear to me that this was a case of Class Action Abuse. Here’s what I did:

  • I signed the line that excluded me from the class
  • I dated it
  • I put it in the postage paid envelope that was included
  • I put the envelope in the mail

No money for the lawyers from me. I almost felt good supporting the (otherwise decent) business that had spammed me.

Class Action Abuse lowers the quality of our lives by denigrating the legal system, which has already lost my respect due to corruption and cronyism, just for starters. It further reduces the quality of life by making the environment for private business more hostile. The role of the plaintiff lawyers is parasitic, and worse, they have manipulated the system to support their actions by default.

The next time you see Class Action Abuse in your mailbox, stamp it out by opting out of the action. All it takes is your signature in the right spot, the date, and stuffing the bad boy in its’ envelope and sending it on its’ way. By doing so, you’ll have taken a tiny step toward making our sadly broken system just a teensy bit better. Go ahead, pat yourself on the back, and give yourself a three minute break as a reward!

Romneycare Upheld by Supremes; Romney Livid

“Romneycare”, also sometimes called “Obamacare” except NPR (National Public Radio) who call it “National Healthcare Law”, has been upheld by the Supremes. Not the Motown band, but the Supreme Court. Presidential candied-date Romney, who inspired the law, spoke from a balcony in Washington D.C. with the capitol as a backdrop, disclaiming and divorcing himself from his creation whilst drooling bile. He insisted “The only way to get rid of [Romneycare] is to vote for me, Mitt Romney, for president”. This implied that he would somehow single-handedly overturn the Supreme Court, leaving him to personally kill his child. I’ve come to call the legislation “O’RomnaBomneyCare” to celebrate the delicious ironies that are presented.

The entire picture was surreal, but the fallout from the Supreme’s decision is worth noting. Everyone will be able to get health insurance, regardless of “pre-existing conditions”, and regardless of their income. The quality of that insurance is certain to be unequal across the classes, which should please Republicans who are otherwise put out. The cost of health insurance should come down, but probably won’t, leaving plenty of room for more legal wrangling and lobbying with consequent coke-and-callgirl parties to blow off steam and stress in Washington. Children will continue to be able to benefit from parent’s health insurance, leaving no doubt that the average 26 year-old is about as mature as an 18 year-old was 30 years ago. Insurance companies will profit even more than before, as every citizen (and illegal immigrant) will become a customer under the force of law. And that’s just for starters. For more unbiased reporting on this development, and the current state of affairs in general, I suggest “This Modern World” by Tom Tomorrow.

Paper Shredding: Do’s and Don’ts

Just a reminder that the courts have OK’ed “Dumpster Diving” for Law Enforcement, so that beggarly looking individual going through your garbage could easily be a policeman, detective, FBI agent, or whatever…

When it comes to shredding paper with your name and address or other sensitive information on it, follow these important DO’s:

  • DO avoid stirring up the shreds. This makes it more difficult for Federal agencies to piece them back together.
  • DO take your shreds to your local police station for “recycling” — this will help ensure your shreds are taken directly to the Phillipines with minimum disturbance so they can be more easily pieced together.
  • DO shred only important or “incriminating” information – like bank statements, cash receipts, or voter registration notices: shredding blank paper or packaging materials increases the amount of work required to snoop your shreds.
  • DO bag shreds separately, and keep shreds from each shredding session together. Shred snoops don’t like to handle garbage. Help keep our taxes low by reducing the cost to our government of piecing together your shreds!

Now that we’ve had some sadly ironic fun…

In the particular state I’m in now, folks try to do what’s good for the environment. They try to do what’s right too, but that’s were things often go wrong. After all, some of the greatest damage is done by people trying to “do good”. In this state, there are regular media campaigns encouraging citizens to “bring in their shredded paper” to, of all places, police stations, to have it recycled. It seems no one has questioned this “service” being offered by the police.

Why not recycle it like other recyclables? In the greater metro area, recycling is universally available. In one place we checked out, recyclables are placed in blue bags to separate them from non-recyclable trash. Some communities support “single stream” recycling, where all recyclables are placed in a single recycling container, and the recyclables are separated at the recycling center.

Given this wide availability of recycling, why would one bring their shredded documents, that contained shredded personal information, to the police? I’m sorry, but in a land where the NSA records all phone calls and Internet activity, and then stores it forever, this brings up images of Filipinos who once worked for the FBI and CIA going through the shredded material and meticulously bringing it back to its original state for snooping purposes.

I’d like to find a better explanation, but I can’t think of one.

Wireless Freedom? Fail.

You may have spotted the TV ad with the tag line “America’s Wireless Freedom”. Like many blatant corporate image ads, this one seeks to convince you that, by inference, freeing your imagination, you are somehow free.

Keeping them honest, by now nearly everyone knows that their cell phone is essentially a tracking device, while many people are tethered to their cellular device 24×7. When your cell phone is powered, your every move is detected and recorded as a side effect of cellular technology (regardless of the “security settings” on your phone). Your every move is then scrutinized by business, government, and possibly criminals. The information is logged, along with the calls you make, the websites you visit, and the apps you use. This information can then be mined, along with the information gleaned from your fellow cell phone users now, and forever in the future.

The ad (below) from the CTIA (“The Wireless [Industry] Association”) is one of an ongoing flood of ads meant to focus your attention on the “wow” factor, and more positive aspects of cell phone use, so you’ll spend less time thinking about the disturbing consequences of being tethered to your phone.

This is the prime example of how we are being systematically robbed of our freedom. Through social and peer pressure, as well as pressure from employers to be “available”, as well as our subconscious fear of being alone, we are seduced into giving up our freedom by voluntarily wearing these tracking devices at all times.

The “Wireless Freedom” Ad

The CTIA’s YouTube channel has more advertisments of this type: http://www.youtube.com/user/CTIATheWirelessAssoc