Category: Civil Liberties

This is what Bernie’s America will end up looking like

Despite the fact that it looks like the ‘gimme free shit party’ is not doing well with voter turnout, there are a lot of people that are backing donkey candidate Bernie Sanders, a man that never held a real job in his life (his first full time job was one working in government and happened when he was 40), and whom seems angry at the world because he never got what he feels he was due. Like Obama, the community organizer, and for that matter that criminal Clinton, Bernie is a man of no real accomplishments, but at least unlike Obama and Hillary, he seems to not be a down right crime syndicate boss.

I suspect a lot of Bernie’s backers are donkeys that have some conscience and simply can’t make themselves vote for that criminal Clinton. But then, there are many people that are true believers in the wealth redistribution bullshit Bernie peddles too, despite the historical evidence that this shit always ends badly for the people that put it in practice. Collectivism doesn’t work when it goes beyond the family unit, and the reason is very simple, even if the people that espouse it don’t want to admit it: the jealousy and greed that makes this philosophy that advocates taking from others attractive also blinds the followers to the fact that the leaders that promise to do this for them simply are looking to replace the existing haves, and will not really worry much about the “have nots” once they do so. From the USSR, to communist China to North Korea, Cuba or any other of the failed shit, it always ends bad. Sure the marxist backing Bernie will point to Europe, and especially Sweden, as their models, but they are not being honest when they do so. Europe, because of the wealth and mediocre collectivist leadership it has had, has not yet completed the full transition to what always comes from this dark ideology.

Want a look at the end result? Well, take a good look at what is happening in Venezuela or for that matter to Brazil, yeah Brazil, countries that have let this ideology run its course. One went super totalitarian, while the other is almost there. Shit, keep an eye on our neighbor to the north. I have a feeling they are going to be doing some real stupid shit that will hurt them real bad in the next few years, all in the name of social justice or whatever. And Europe, unfortunately for the Europeans, because of the corruption in Brussels and despite the many changes being made to delay the inevitable, will run out of other people’s money sooner than later, as well. Of course this will not dissuade people that feel they have a right to what others have – especially when they justify that right by claiming the others got what they have through nefarious means – from feeling that they will go along as long as the getting is good. To them having the whole thing burn down seems like justice, I guess.

Unexpectedly: Shitty collectivist plan to destroy US healthcare to screw over users

Color me totally unsurprised that the pile of bullshit democrats told us had to be passed so we could see how it would fix all healthcare problems, and most importantly provide care to everyone while at the same time reducing costs, is going to fuck everyone over yet again in the coming year. From the article:

Amid rising drug and health care costs and roiling market dynamics, the spokesperson for the nation’s health insurers is predicting substantial increases next year in Obamacare premiums and related costs.

Without venturing a specific percentage increase, Marilyn Tavenner, the president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), said in an interview with Morning Consult that the culmination of market shifts and rising health care costs will force stark increases in health insurance rates in the coming year.

“I’ve been asked, what are the premiums going to look like?” she said. “I don’t know because it also varies by state, market, even within markets. But I think the overall trend is going to be higher than we saw previous years. That’s my big prediction.”

If Tavenner is right, Obamacare will jump dramatically—last year’s premium for the popular silver-level plan surged 11 percent on average. Although Tavenner didn’t mention deductibles, in 2016, some states saw jumps of 76 percent, while the average deductible for a 27-year-old male on a silver plan was 8 percent.

The warning to consumers from Tavenner, the former administration official who headed the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and oversaw the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov, the Obamacare website, comes at a time of growing uncertainty about the evolving makeup of the Obamacare health insurance market. With many insurers struggling to find profitability in the program, the collapse of nearly half of the 23 Obamacare insurance co-ops and this week’s announcement that giant UnitedHealth Group intends to pull out of most Obamacare markets across the country, anticipating future premiums and copayments is largely risky guesswork.

I may not be an economist, but I find none of these revelations to be anything other than what we should have expected. Since I remain unburdened by the idiotic collectivist notion that human nature and the laws of economics can be bent by the will of people that remain unfazed by reality, I had no problem seeing that nobody could ever deliver BOTH “free healthcare” to everyone – especially people with serious illnesses, AND somehow magically reduce costs. And with the information we quickly found about Obamacare’s setup after Pelosi rammed this shit sandwich down our collective throats, it should have been blatantly obvious that was by design.

First off, let me point out that it should be obvious to everyone that while the argument can be made that the democrats have not delivered what they promised, they did deliver what they wanted: a boondoggle so unworkable and broken, that it would collapse the US healthcare after making the whole thing too expensive and too cumbersome to work, allowing them to then force an ultra-expensive, mediocre (if we are lucky) and government controlled, single-payer system on us that would never fly otherwise. By these measurements Obamacare is a stunning success.

What baffles me however is how all these idiotic insurance companies that do have to live and work in the real world went along with this nonsense. I remember reading in one of the many articles about insurers now coming to their senses and pulling out of this monstrosity after suffering crippling loses that the insurers in question actually thought they could make this work. Seriously? These people that had to deal with reality, real economics, and real people all decided to believe the idiotic notion that somehow if government took this shit over it could through coercion and force incentivize behavior that was contrary to what individuals would see was in their own best interest?

I mean I can expect this level of idiocy from collectivist twits, and I admit that I greatly enjoyed the tears and clothes rending that followed their realization that their moronic belief that some other people – the evil rich – would end up footing the bill, was totally wrong as their premiums went up and the level of service from their existing plans went down (that is, if they even got to keep that plan). But seeing so many insurance providers with years of actuarial information that showed this shit never works, not just reluctantly going along with the corrupt and crooked democrats on this, but actually exuberantly advocating for Obamacare, vexed me greatly. I did a double-back and even had to ask myself if I missing something they saw. Could this collectivist miasma actually be something that could be made to work?

Lucky for me, the laws of economics, human nature, and reality prevail, as the fact that this thing is imploding, clearly shows. But definitely unluckily for every American tax payer and consumers of the pre-Obamacare healthcare system, the fast trip to the implosion of healthcare system that delivered great quality care despite the fact socialist assholes rated it low because to them healthcare was only great when it was below sub-par in quality and “supposedly free” for the masses, has sped up. What we had was not perfect, and there were some simple and actually not that costly steps that could have been taken to address the real main concerns (catastrophic financial results from unexpected costly medical conditions), but it was blatantly obvious that what the democrats did was going to hurt, not help. And at the risk of being pedantic, I say, again, that was by design.

Things are going to get worse before they get much, much worse. But hey, SJW will love the fact unaccountable and faceless government bureaucrats with serious personal issues and their own political agendas – like the ones running the VA system into the ground – will now call the life & death shots for all of us, instead of the evil corporate entities that were making profits! don’t be surprised that like happens in every collectivist hell-hole with this sort of system, we end up with a two tiered system that leaves the serfs woefully under served, but provides much better care for the elite. Like that system in Cuba we are always being told is so wonderful by your marxist cocksucker types.

Another one bites the dust

The Obamacare supporting retards a few months back were all pissed at those of us that pointed out the abysmal failure that the exchanges Obamacare were going to drive every insurer out of that scam. When United Health Group started talking like they would have to bail, we were told that this was all talk that would go nowhere, because in the end Obamacare was not just sound, but the law of the land. fast forward a few months, and we get an article titled “UnitedHealth Makes Good on Threat to Pull Out of Obamacare that points out just that:

The Affordable Care Act suffered another jolt late last week with the news that UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, was making good on its threat to pull out of Obamacare, beginning with its operations in Georgia and Arkansas.

UnitedHealth roiled the market last November when it revealed that it was considering exiting Obamacare after incurring hundreds of millions of dollars in losses related to ACA business. Then UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley confessed to investors meeting in New York in December that the company should have stayed out of the program a little longer to better gauge its profitability potential.

The company had cautiously tiptoed into the market in January 2015 after sitting out the first full year of Obamacare operations in 2014. “It was for us a bad decision,” Hemsley admitted to his investors. “In retrospect, we should have stayed out longer.”

So it wasn’t a huge surprise on Friday when UnitedHealth spokesperson Tyler Mason confirmed to The Washington Post that the company, indeed, was pulling out of Georgia and Arkansas, two relatively small states that proved to be highly unprofitable terrain for the company.

This development is troubling, especially if it UnitedHealth pulls out of other bigger states, or if other major insurers such as Aetna and Anthem follow suit. But experts have cautioned not to make too much of UnitedHealth’s flight from the market. While it is one of the largest insurers on the national scene, UnitedHealth nonetheless is a bit player in Obamacare and holds a much smaller market share than other rivals like Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Get the fuck out of here! This idiotic Ponzi scheme will fall apart as the major players all realize they got duped and pull out? Say it ain’t so! I guess I shouldn’t be celebrating this vindication, because after all, Obamacare was never about fixing anything that the collectivists claimed was wrong with our existing healthcare system or controlling costs: it was about destroying the existing system by creating so much tumult, chaos, and pain, that even the most adamant anti-single-payer system advocate would have no choice to accept the left’s takeover of this enterprise that comprises 1/6th of the economy and gives a government that has already shown it is willing to use its various branches against its political and other enemies, even more power to do so and control the uppity serfs. All of us better get used to our healthcare being crappy like this.

Banana republic it is

I speak from personal experience when I point out that when people piss off the left and members of this administration in particular, they end up being raided by the legal arm of the corrupt system. And I am sure this is done to find a way to punish anyone that dares stand up the these corrupt kleptocrats as well as set an example for anyone else that might think to stand up against the establishment’s chosen.

We have a system of law that was created by these plutocrats over decades, always pretending the idiotic laws were to help people, that now ends up making sure every single one of us is a criminal, at least 3 times a day. Most people feel fine with the bureaucratic morass that passes for a legal system, because the masters that direct that system against their enemies usually finds them not worthy of much effort, and lacking any taste of how contemptible things have become, they think the system still serves to mete out justice instead of the will of the masters. But piss off the masters, and they will show you that your assumption of having rights and constitutional protection was long ago rendered mute, and that you are at their whim, like this sap and so many others have found to be the case.

You ask why they would allow something like this to be published if they were abusing their power? The answer is simple: they not only see it as a deterrent, but they flat out believe nobody can do anything to them about it. After all, they have been pissing all over the constitution and over our freedoms for so long, setting new records of abuse over the last 7 plus years, and have not just gotten away with it, but get defended by idiots that think that not only is this fine because it is their side sticking it to the others, but because they are either naive enough to think that because they pledge allegiance to these vile and corrupt masters, they will be spared, or worse, because they hope that as everyone gets thrown to the crocodiles, they will be last.

Don’t piss off the new American aristocracy of this fundamentally transformed country, or else. When you trade your freedoms for the veneer of security or social justice, don’t end up surprised when you end up with nothing at all but an obligation to your new masters.

Because this worked out so well before..

Being a social justice warrior/collectivist twit means never learning any of the lessons reality slams you with when the fucked up shit your supposedly well intentioned stupid ideas cause to happen blow up in your face. Oh sure, the leftist twits tried their best to blame it on the evil banks and their predatory practices not being regulated enough, but of course, as is always the case, they covered for the fact that it was deals they made to make this giant shit sandwich look semi-palatable to the lending industry that basically was being told to burn money by giving loans to people that were all but guaranteed to fuck things up.

Despite the usual heap of idiotic SJW bullshit about a rigged system, people that are considered high risk and thus are not able buy homes, usually are there because they have proven not to be fiscally responsible. That suddenly doesn’t go away when they are able to buy a home on the cheap, without any serious commitment or risk on their part, and continue to engage in the same idiotic things that cause them their financial pain. That republicans chose to go along with this idiotic scheme shouldn’t let them off the hook, but the push to get more of this crap going definitely comes from one party, as the Clintons doubling down on the stupid shows. Fast forward, and scams to make the whole mess look palatable fail to prevent the inevitable collapse of the house of cards this nonsense created.

Yeah yeah, I know that the DNC driven media has put out a ton of articles trying to blame evil Wall Street and provide cover for big SJW government’s role in this disaster, but you must be a liberal idiot if you are going to pretend that Wall Street could have done any of the things it did without government backing. in fact, the lie that the problem was caused by lack of regulation is galling. It was specifically caused by the regulation in place: the deals made with the big lenders to back their horribly crappy loans to people that never should have qualified for any such loan came from government.

American tax payers didn’t bail out Wall Street – like your usual leftist twit would like you to believe – because republicans wanted to save their friends, but because the SJW types in government knew that if they didn’t do this they would never again get any private institution to go along with any of their harebrained schemes again. Pelosi and the other criminals in her clique pretended not to want to bailout Wall Street and only to go along once they got their way to “reform” the system, but those of us that knew better, saw through that deceit. As many of us predicted, what followed was nothing but a charade, and that we would not only get zero action to prevent such a crisis again, but that the democrats would double down on pushign the same idiocy with renewed vigor.

Fast forward about 7 or so years, and here we are again:

The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.

President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.

In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.

Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.

Officials are also encouraging lenders to use more subjective judgment in determining whether to offer a loan and are seeking to make it easier for people who owe more than their properties are worth to refinance at today’s low interest rates, among other steps.

Now what could go wrong with government forcing lenders to provide loans to people that are unqualified in the name of social justice, huh? We are back at the same junction we started of with the idiotic community reinvestment act. SJW are decrying the fact that people that make poor finical choices are being left behind, so they now are telling lenders that they should ignore the golden lending rules – as well as the laws of the land – and pony up. And don’t worry! Government, meaning the productive American tax payers that are already being fleeced at a record rate to finance other such SJW boondoggle schemes and scams, will back them up when the shit hits the fan!

Seriously, nobody should be surprised that an administration that has seen itself not only as “above the law”, but views the law and the legal system as a means to attack their political enemies while providing cover to their friends, decides they can openly tell the very financial entities that they so actively and effectively falsely blamed for the previous crisis that they better ignore the new set of idiotic laws of their own making, and to go back to doing more of the same stupid shit that destroyed the wealth of and screwed up so many in 2008.

What could go wrong this time? And it isn’t as if we might have any other bubbles to worry about either.

Insanity: doing the same stupid shit over and over under the pretense that this time you will overcome the laws of human nature, economics, and reality. But that’s liberal social justice warfare for you in a nutshell.

All collectivism outside of the family sucks

Thomas Sowell again has a brilliant piece about whether Barack Obama is a socialist or fascist where he points out:

It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.” He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.

What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.

Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.

The democratic party certainly has abandoned the concept of traditional socialist belief that state ownership of the means of production, unless you are one of Uncle Bernie’s retarded children, and has decided they can live quite well with control over the economic decision making process – the power to pick winners and losers behind a veneer of legality – coupled with a legal system, staffed with their cronies, that can be used as a weapon against their enemies, political or otherwise. Sowell is dead on that these crooks have chosen to run things in this way so they can take credit for things that go right, even if these happen despite their actions (think fracking, oil production, or energy production in the US), and lay blame with others when things go horribly wrong (think Obama administration period). In the mean time they can steal at their leisure (think TARP or Porkulous), making the rich they choose to favor richer, while both growing the dependent base that votes for them and destroying the middle class. From the article:

Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous — something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.

Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favorable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be blamed on the “greed” of the insurance companies.

Sowell gets it. I had several of the usual suspects point out that the only reason Obamacare is not working is resistance from evil republicans and corrupt business. These idiots used the exact same arguments Sowell mentions: the culprit is the profit makers, not the people that mandated a costly item without any stake in it. After all, the people that gave us this abomination said that they wanted to do good, so whenever things work out otherwise, it has to be someone else’s fault!

Remember that collectivism can only be made to function when it is a 2 cast system: the aristocracy and royals, and the serfs. The only equality these people can deliver constantly is equality of misery. That is not my opinion: it is history. Don’t be fooled by the temporary success some western democracies that embraced socialism have had so far either. Like California, once termed the promised land even in a prosperous US, sooner than later these socialist experiments will run out of other people’s money, and then things turn ugly. Like the frog put in water that is slowly brought to a boil, most of the sheeple will not even realize how the slow collapse of any collectivist system affects them until they are already cooked.

And don’t let any of the usual collectivists try to confuse you with that nonsense that fascism is rightwing. Acceptance by so many people that fascism isn’t just another flavor of collectivism because it was categorized as right of communism was one of the greatest snow jobs perpetrated by guilty collectivists that needed a right wing boogieman to play against the failure of communism. these totalitarian systems tend to all be left leaning. When the state dictates the economy, directly as communism where the state owns everything (well the people in charge own everything, including the life & death of the serfs) or indirectly (be it by command economies or a legal system like the one we now have in the US where government chooses winners and losers), you are dealing with collectivism. Collectivism deprives humans of their freedom and dignity, always under the pretense of doing something for the collective good, by focusing on the noble idea, but never on the results or consequences of its implementation. If these people were to be held accountable, the appeal of collectivism would have died a long time ago.

The Pigeons Come Home

Now that it looks like we’re headed for a … ugh … Trump/Clinton showdown, expect to see more articles like this:

Back in 2013, I argued that the U.S. has been building “all the infrastructure a tyrant would need, courtesy of Bush and Obama,” adding, “More and more, we’re counting on having angels in office and making ourselves vulnerable to devils.” With Trump and Hillary Clinton leading in the primaries, let’s revisit some particulars:

Bush and Obama have built infrastructure any devil would lust after. Behold the items on an aspiring tyrant’s checklist that they’ve provided their successors:

A precedent that allows the president to kill citizens in secret without prior judicial or legislative review

The power to detain prisoners indefinitely without charges or trial

Ongoing warrantless surveillance on millions of Americans accused of no wrongdoing, converted into a permanent database so that data of innocents spied upon in 2007 can be accessed in 2027

Using ethnic profiling to choose the targets of secret spying, as the NYPD did with John Brennan’s blessing

Normalizing situations in which the law itself is secret — and whatever mischief is hiding in those secret interpretations

The permissibility of droning to death people whose identities are not even known to those doing the killing

The ability to collect DNA swabs of people who have been arrested even if they haven’t been convicted of anything

A torture program that could be restarted with an executive order

Even if you think Bush and Obama exercised those extraordinary powers responsibly, what makes you think every president would? How can anyone fail to see the huge potential for abuses?

Before moving into a new house, parents of small children engage in child-proofing. Before leaving the White House, Obama should engage in tyrant-proofing. For eight years, he has evinced a high opinion of his own ability to exercise power morally, even in situations where Senator Obama thought that the president should be restrained. At this point, better to flatter his ego than to resist it. You’ll be gone soon, Mr. President, and for all our disagreements, I think your successor is highly likely to be less trustworthy and more corruptible than you were.

Insofar as you can, limit his or her ability to violate liberties or hide atrocities before you go. It may be the most significant step you can take to safeguard your legacy.

Conor, who like many libertarians, has been sounding alarms on these issue for the last decade, also calls on Congress to reclaim its power while it still can.

Lee warned about it when Bush was assuming Patriot Act, surveillance and torture powers. I warned about it when Obama assumed mass surveillance powers and started doing everything by executive order. The mantra was always the same whether you trusted Bush or trusted Obama or trusted both: it wasn’t about them; it was about the next President and the next.

And now we have a next President, either Clinton or Trump. And the public doesn’t trust either of them. Nor should they. Both have shown a disregard for Constitutional restraint and the Rule of Law. Both have shown that they will use the power of the office to engage in petty personal vendettas. Both of them could be imagined being overruled by the Supreme Court and saying, as Andrew Jackson once did, “John Roberts has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”

Yet rather than reign in this unprecedented power, our leaders seem to be expanding it. To wit:

A while back, we noted a report showing that the “sneak-and-peek” provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases. Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy.

This basically formalizes what was already happening under the radar. We’ve known for a couple of years now that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS were getting information from the NSA. Because that information was obtained without a warrant, the agencies were instructed to engage in “parallel construction” when explaining to courts and defense attorneys how the information had been obtained. If you think parallel construction just sounds like a bureaucratically sterilized way of saying big stinking lie, well, you wouldn’t be alone. And it certainly isn’t the only time that that national security apparatus has let law enforcement agencies benefit from policies that are supposed to be reserved for terrorism investigations in order to get around the Fourth Amendment, then instructed those law enforcement agencies to misdirect, fudge and outright lie about how they obtained incriminating information — see the Stingray debacle. This isn’t just a few rogue agents. The lying has been a matter of policy. We’re now learning that the feds had these agreements with police agencies all over the country, affecting thousands of cases.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue: do you want Clinton or Trump to have these powers? But of course, it is a partisan issue. Congressional Democrats don’t want to reign in the power of the White House because they’re just fine with Clinton wielding that power. Republicans might be a little more principled, given their fear of Trump, but I suspect they wouldn’t mind too much if he had such power.

One way or another, we appear to be on the brink of realizing what all those civil libertarians have been complaining about for years. And the country may never be the same.

Criminals say they won’t eat one of their own.

I fucking hope Trump wins the election, puts a crony in charge of the DOJ, and uses it to go after his political enemies and protect his friends, because then I can bring up examples like this to point out to the usual leftard howling about abuses of power how fucking evil their side really is.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch indicated Wednesday that the law doesn’t require the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email system, even if the FBI recommends criminal charges.

Lynch was asked in a hearing by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, what her department would do if the FBI were to recommend that step. “If the FBI were to make a referral to the Department of Justice to pursue a case by way of indictment and to convene a grand jury for that purpose, the Department of Justice is not required by law to do so, are they — are you?” Cornyn asked.

Lynch didn’t answer directly, but seemed to indicate the department has some wiggle room, and can consult with officials before deciding what to do.

“It would not be an operation of law, it would be an operation of procedures,” Lynch said in reply. She added that the decision to pursue a criminal case would be “done in conjunction with the agents” involved in the investigation. “It’s not something that we would want to cut them out of the process.”

What this WH serf is basically saying is that in true Obama admin fashion, the DOJ, even now that Holder is gone, will only fuck over the people they want to, even if those people have really committed no crime, while providing cover for the real criminals they share their social circles with.

The legacy of the Obama administration is that this administration has set the standards when it comes to arbitrary law enforcement applied to favor their side and harm their enemies. And I can’t wait for someone else to get to do it to them. We are doomed anyway, so why not give these fuckers a good dose of their own medicine. Those of you that are all for this shit because it is your side doing it, remember that it doesn’t even take the other side for all this to turn ugly on you. A vindictive and petty bitch like Hillary would fuck over friend or foe to remind everyone they better kiss her fat as or else.

Hacking Apple

Hmmm:

Apple said on Wednesday that it would oppose and challenge a federal court order to help the F.B.I. unlock an iPhone used by one of the two attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., in December.

On Tuesday, in a significant victory for the government, Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the Federal District Court for the District of Central California ordered Apple to bypass security functions on an iPhone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who was killed by the police along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, after they attacked Mr. Farook’s co-workers at a holiday gathering.

But hours later, in a statement by its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, Apple announced its refusal to comply. The move sets up a legal showdown between the company, which says it is eager to protect the privacy of its customers, and the law enforcement authorities, who say that new encryption technologies hamper their ability to prevent and solve crime.

Apple’s point is that the government is essentially trying to bypass the ongoing political and legal debate over encryption. We’ve mentioned this debate before: companies like Apple and Google are giving their phones encryption capabilities that are supposedly unbreakable. The federal government is trying to force them to provide backdoors into those encryption methods. But Apple notes, correctly, that there’s no such animal as a “backdoor” that would be exclusive to the government. It would compromise all the security on their phones, creating a capacity that any hacker could use.

(I would also note that, even if this were not true, creating a backdoor for the government is a huge problem. We have seen, with the Patriot Act and mass surveillance, that the federal government can not be trusted to use these power for “only” terrorism. Inevitably, these capabilities will be used to pursue the War on Drugs, the War on Sex Work, the War on You.)

Forcing Apple to develop new software to access Farook’s phone is an attempt to bypass this debate and create backdoors without a national debate, without an act of Congress and without input from civli libertarians. It may also be on very shaky legal ground:

Second, as the Post article notes the use of the All Writs Act in this manner appears to be unprecedented and, if upheld, would essentially allow the government to do almost anything in the name of law enforcement and intelligence gathering. Finally, and perhaps most strongly, it’s important to note that law enforcement isn’t asking Apple to provide information that it already has, which is what an ordinary search warrant does. It is essentially asking a Federal Court to compel Apple to do something, in this case create a backdoor that does not exist. This arguably falls well outside the scope of the Fourth Amendment and, if upheld, would give law enforcement authority to compel technology companies to do almost anything conceivable in the name of a purported investigation or surveillance of a target. That seems to go well beyond what the Constitution and existing law permits law enforcement to do.

But not beyond what they want to do. This is not just about Farook’s phone; they are demanding that Apple provide a capacity that can be used with any phone. I suspect that the feds know that their case is weak — they invoked Farook’s victims immediately as if a massive tragedy abrogates the Constitution.

It’s not like the FBI has nothing to go on here. They have access to the meta-data. They have the phone itself. They have any computers. They can get warrants for e-mail servers.

Apple should stand their ground here. They should fight this all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary (and this makes me miss Scalia, who could sometimes be good on Fourth Amendment issues). If the Federal government establishes a precedent that they can force tech companies to hack into our electronic devices, the Fourth Amendment will be hanging by a thread.

Series Review: Making a Murderer

So you’ve probably heard something about Netflix’s documentary series Making a Murderer. The series centers around Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man with a long criminal history who was convicted of a sexual assault he did not commit in 1985. After his exoneration, he sued Manitowoc County and the sheriff, alleging misconduct in the initial investigation and prosecution.

In the middle of this, a young photographer, Teresa Halbech, went missing. Avery was the last person she supposedly saw and police found her car and burned bone fragments on his property. He and his nephew were convicted of murdering her.

Avery insists on his innocence and claims he was railroaded again because of the lawsuit. The documentary goes through his case, from the previous charge, to the investigation, through the trial and the first round of appeals. It has caused an online sensation, with numerous blogs discussing the case and a White House petition for Avery and his nephew to be pardoned.

This review is going to be very spoilery. I’m going to discuss the case as if you’ve watched the documentary or read some of the coverage. So if you haven’t and plan to, you might want to bookmark this and come back in ten hours.

Read more… »