We Demand Compromised Security!

A few weeks ago, Apple announced that their new OS encrypts data so that Apple literally can not access it without the user’s permission. Google followed by announcing their new Android OS will do the same thing. This has been done ostensibly to prevent the government from forcing Apple to divulge information stored in someone’s accounts. This might prevent law enforcement from executing a search warrant delivered to the company. It might also, however, block agencies from getting phone data without a warrant or notification of the user, as they are want to.

Naturally, law enforcement types don’t like this. Their supporters are up in arms over Apple “enabling criminals” by forcing the government to get a warrant and get your password if they want to search your electronic persons, papers, houses and effects. So the WaPo has proposed a “compromise”:

How to resolve this? A police “back door” for all smartphones is undesirable — a back door can and will be exploited by bad guys, too. However, with all their wizardry, perhaps Apple and Google could invent a kind of secure golden key they would retain and use only when a court has approved a search warrant. Ultimately, Congress could act and force the issue, but we’d rather see it resolved in law enforcement collaboration with the manufacturers and in a way that protects all three of the forces at work: technology, privacy and rule of law.

In short, the WaPo wants the technically impossible: a backdoor that isn’t really a backdoor. And we should entrust this backdoor into every phone in the country to law enforcement — comprising God knows how many people. We should entrust this backdoor to a group of people who recently did this:

For years, local law enforcement agencies around the country have told parents that installing ComputerCOP software is the “first step” in protecting their children online.

Police chiefs, sheriffs, and district attorneys have handed out hundreds of thousands of copies of the disc to families for free at schools, libraries, and community events, usually as a part of an “Internet Safety” outreach initiative. The packaging typically features the agency’s official seal and the chief’s portrait, with a signed message warning of the “dark and dangerous off-ramps” of the Internet.

As official as it looks, ComputerCOP is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies.

Calling it “spyware” is a nice term of art. A more precise description is that it is a keylogger which transmits to third-party servers — without encryption — every key typed on a computer. Passwords, private communications, credit card numbers … all of that is transmitted in clear text. If your child (or you) use a laptop with this malware and someone has a basic packet sniffer nearby, they could take over your life.

(The cops have responded to the EFF, claiming that only an “ultra-liberal” organization who is “more interested in protecting predators and pedophiles than in protecting our children” should care that their software is one of the most unsafe things you could put on your computer.)

This is the group we should trust with backdoors to every cell phone in the country, according to the WaPo.

Book Review: Iron Curtain

As promised, I am putting in another installment of my very irregular review of movies or books that I think are relevant to politics. In this case, the book is Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain, a history of the Stalinist era in Eastern Europe with particular emphasis on Poland, East Germany and Hungary.

Iron Curtain is not as overwhelming as her previous book, Gulag. But it relentless in documenting how the Eastern Bloc and the Iron Curtain were created by the Soviet Union to create a series of puppet states along their border. It is a stinging rebuke to the revisionist historians who have tried desperately to rewrite the history of the Cold War so that the United States is the aggressor. According to these historians, the Iron Curtain was a response to the Western “aggression” of building up its own anti-Soviet bloc. Applebaum shows that the foundations of the Iron Curtain were laid before the war was even over. The Soviets planned every detail of it. They ethnically cleansed the region to put all the Poles in one place and all the Ukranians in another. They destroyed social institutions such as youth groups and replaced them with Communist ones. They took control of the media. And they entrusted the rule of these countries to their puppets: Stalinists who had spent the war in Russia being trained to rule the Communist satellites. Communists who had stayed in their countries, even those who had been imprisoned and tortured by the Nazis, weren’t trusted. Only those under the Soviet thumb were suitable.

It’s true that they had elections after the war. It’s also true the Communists lost those election badly despite having control of social groups, the government and the media. And when those elections went badly, they put communist governments in place anyway, outlawed opposition parties, suppressed political dissent and cancelled future elections. That was all before NATO was created in 1949.

Last week, I referred to Naomi Klein’s new book. One of her earlier books was The Shock Doctrine which alleged, with little evidence to support it, that free market supporters rush into countries that have experienced disasters to impose their vision of capitalism on a frightened populace. But the post-World War II era is the clearest depiction of a shock doctrine you could ever want. Eastern Europe had endured one of the greatest calamities in history: an invasion by both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany; a subsequent back and forth war between the two; the deliberate genocide of millions. This was followed by the Soviets unilaterally redrawing the borders and ethnically cleansing the region (as well as starvation, poverty, rape and chaos). The Soviets had a pre-arranged plan to use that horror to institute Communist governments across every country their soldiers could loot and occupy. And they managed to maintain that regime for decades using oppression, terror and murder. Applebaum backs all of this up with first-hand accounts and original documents.

(Applebaum doesn’t cover this, but these tactics were not unique to post-World War II Europe. Half a world away, the Commies would do the same thing, setting up Marxist regimes in war-ravaged China, Indochina and Korea. And this pattern remained their modus operandi to the end. Until the 1990’s, there was hardly a famine, hardly a civil war, hardly a genocide that didn’t have a bunch of Communists in the middle of it, trying to advance their cause.)

I would not recommend Iron Curtain as much as I would Gulag. But I would recommend it for those interested in the bloody history of Communism. And I commend Applebaum for helping to make sure that hideous chapter in history is not glossed over by pseudo-historians who are still sympathetic to Communist ideas.

My meat’s worth more than that!

Some idiot got caught with the wrong meat in their pants:

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. (AP) – A New York supermarket employee has been accused of leaving the store with $1,200 worth of meat hidden in his pants.

State police say Gregory Rodriguez, of Ossining, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny.

Rodriguez works at the A&P in Croton-on-Hudson. Police were called Monday about the theft. Rodriguez was arrested Tuesday.

Don’t know about you, but my meat’s worth more than a measly $1200. Get a chatting…

Ebola Comes to the US

This is why I agree with the President that we have to devote as many resources as we can to fighting Ebola.

A patient being treated at a Dallas hospital is the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, health officials announced Tuesday.

The unidentified man left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At that time, the individual did not have symptoms. “But four or five days later,” he began to exhibit them, Frieden said. The individual was hospitalized and isolated Sunday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

The CDC is trying to identify his contacts and quarantine them for the week-long incubation period. I hope that this is an isolated case, but my natural pessimism tells me it isn’t.

Right now, the barrier keeping Ebola patients off of airplanes is screening in Africa. We may need to consider something more rigid, especially if the projections of hundreds of thousands of cases is accurate. Screening people getting off of planes who have been to Western Africa within the last two weeks would be a start. I don’t think we need extreme measures like banning travel from Africa or quarantine … yet. But this is a warning. Let’s not ignore it.

Secret Service Swings and Misses

Wow:

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will face questions about how an armed intruder jumped the White House fence and made it as far as the East Room when she testifies before a House committee on Tuesday.

Sources confirmed to Fox News on Monday that 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez overpowered a Secret Service officer in the Sept. 19 incident — this led to a struggle and “wrestling” inside the executive mansion as he darted through. Gonzalez was eventually tackled by a counter-assault agent in the East Room after he reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn.

The revelation that the intruder made it much farther than originally known came on the eve of a scheduled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that will address the breach, as well as lawmakers’ “concerns” about the Secret Service’s security protocols.

There’s no word yet on whether Gonzalez had blue skin and the ability to teleport.

To be fair to the Secret Service, they usually tackle these guys on the White House lawn. This is first time in a long time someone has actually gotten inside the building. Nevertheless, they clearly need to make some changes, including abandoning the idea of a “diverse” Secret Service:

Whatever I think of the President, the Secret Service’s job is to protect him from the numerous nuts who want to write themselves into a history book. This was a pretty big failure on their part.

I blame Boosh!

Because that seems to always be the battle cry of these morons on the left who can’t see the reason stuff like this happens is their policies and the implementation of said policies. Case in point revelations like One in five U.S. workers was laid off in the past five years and about 22% of those who lost their jobs still haven’t found another one, which shows you what happens whenever government assumes the role of picking winners & losers. Of course they can’t see the forest for the trees, even when the information stares them in the face.

Those who did find work had a difficult time with their job search and the effects of unemployment, the survey by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University found.

Nearly 40% said it took more than seven months to find employment and about one in five of laid-off workers said all they could find was a temporary position.

Almost half — 46% — of the estimated 30 million layoff victims who found new jobs said they paid less then their old ones, according to the survey of 1,153 U.S adults done over the summer.

“While job growth has been consistent, it has been insufficient to produce enough full-time jobs for everyone,” the study said.

Despite a declining overall unemployment rate, the study says, long-term joblessness has remained a major problem as the U.S. economy has slowly recovered from the deep recession, which technically ended in June 2009.

The study notes that 3 million Americans in August had been unemployed for more than six months. Although that figure has been declining, it still is high.

The effects of long-term unemployment can be traumatic, the survey found.

What a pile of bullshit. The economy has sucked, and continues to suck, despite the fucking LSM’s propaganda to the contrary, and it is directly tied to the burdensome government meddling in the private sector. Whatever good has happened comes despite the people in charge’s efforts that have tried to deny that growth (oil industry anyone?). Our system is one of crony capitalism: one where the powerful and connected buy favors and gain huge benefits from people in government that in turn profit and keep power from selling these favors. This system prevents real economic growth and indubitably destroys the middle class and opportunities for those in or trying to get into the middle class.

That’s why the number of jobless people, which should include people that no longer get counted because they are off the government unemployment benefit dole, is staggering, and the trend so ugly. Most of these new jobs the LA Times want to pretend are responsible for the faux growth the left has been peddling since black Jesus took power, have been low end service sector jobs too. And it is not just that have lost jobs that have suffered. The employed, unless they were in the public sector, have also been hammered. The reasons are blatant as well. Over regulation to serve the left’s various agendas and government power grabs masquerading as social improvement projects, things like Obamacare or the EPA’s assault on fossil fuels, all have drastic economic consequences.

If we had a republican in charge the LSM would be telling us that we were in a recession. Remember that whenever you see these fluff pieces that refuse to acknowledge that the bad times come from the left’s policies and practices.

Punting Power

This is pure BS:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told This Week he’d “bring the Congress back” to vote on a new resolution authorizing military force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but only if President Barack Obama requested one. Congress has received heaps of criticism for staying out of town during the airstrikes against ISIS, with some suggesting they’re happy to avoid a contentious vote on the issue.

Boehner reprised his line that typically the president initiated the resolution, a position of faux-politesse that the Daily Show already mocked last week. This led George Sephanopoulos [sic] to wonder if Boehner was avoiding the vote because it might split his party ahead of the midterms, something he said was whispered to ABC News political reporter Jeff Zeleny.

Boehner further opines that the existing AUMF is enough for Obama to act on.

One of the reasons Barack Obama has been allowed to usurp so much power is because Congress has allowed him to. Almost all legislative powers reside with Congress, yet they stand around while he rules by executive order, rewrites the laws to his purpose and starts wars on his own. The war-making power lies with Congress. Yet, for the second time, they are allowing the President to start bombing another country. Yes, the President is supposed to ask for their authorization. But they are supposed to assert their authority on this. They should be meeting right now either to give the President the authority to attack Syria or to refuse it. And if he won’t comply, they can exercise the power of the purse to cut the funding.

Stephanopoulos sideswipes the issue by noting this would potentially split the Republican Party. There is a significant fraction that would oppose this but they are still a small minority. The real issue is that the Republicans — like everyone else — have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, ISIS is horrific: a radical Islamist regime that is imposing severe sharia over the regions they control, murdering ethnic and religious minorities and spreading terror over the region. On the other hand, do we really need another boondoggle in the Middle East? Do we really want to spend the treasure and lives needed, even assuming we can destroy ISIS?

It’s a hard debate. I can see why Congress wants to avoid it. But having hard debates is part of their fucking job description. The Civil Rights debate was hard too. So was the Vietnam War. Balancing the budget in the 90’s was hard. But those Congresses argued, debated and eventually voted. They did their job. And they were held responsible for it, a nation that terrifies our current leaders.

This is pure cowardice. It’s the same cowardice the Congress showed in 2003 when, rather than declare war on Iraq, they punted that authority to the President. They didn’t want to oppose it. But they didn’t want to take responsibility if it went wrong. And sure enough, when it went wrong, the Democrats said, “Well, we didn’t declare war on Iraq; we left that decision to Bush!”

Make a decision, guys. Have the debate. We’re dropping bombs on two countries and have over four hundred boots on the ground. If this goes wrong, it’s still on you for failing to stop it. Get your lazy asses back to Washington and do your damned job.

The Forest Service Charges for Freedom

What on Earth?

The U.S. Forest Service has tightened restrictions on media coverage in vast swaths of the country’s wild lands, requiring reporters to pay for a permit and get permission before shooting a photo or video in federally designated wilderness areas.

Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation’s 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.

Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don’t get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.

First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they’d allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.

Well, duh. The Forestry Service is claiming they are protecting the wilderness from being exploited for commercial gain, as dictated in the Wilderness Act of 1964. I don’t have the exact language of the law in front of me, but that reeks of bullshit. The Act has been in place for fifty years and we haven’t needed this. It’s one thing to enact rules to prevent a camera crew from traipsing through and destroying protected areas. But requiring a permit reeks of censorship. Mataconis:

What if, for example, a national or local television news reporter were covering a story based on allegations of malfeasance by Forest Service officials that made taking video on Forest Service land relevant? How, in that context, is a reporter supposed to apply for a permit to begin with? From the descriptions of the process, it appears that media outlets are required to provide some kind of justification for why they need the video in question, and in this case that would require the reporter to either lie to a government official or potentially reveal the story they are working on to people who are the focus of that investigation. In a case like that, if a permit is denied, the strong implication would be that the agency had something to cover up because of the manner in which it was restricting press access.

Gee. I have no idea why a government agency might want to vet what’s being reported out of their bailiwick.

Don’t think is happening in a vacuum. If the Forest Service can restrict media access to public lands, other agencies will start restricting media access as well. This is a trial balloon by the Feds. And it needs to be popped.

Holder Out

Eric Holder has stepped down as Attorney General. I believe he is the only cabinet member to be held in Contempt of Congress for his role in Operation Fast and Furious. He also dropped the investigation into the New Black Panthers, declined to prosecute any of the people responsible for the financial crisis, led monitoring of the media including James Rosen, continued to persecute medical marijuana clinics and helped preside over one of the more lawless administrations I can remember.

But I’ll be nice and hope the door doesn’t hit him in the ass on the way out. Or at least, doesn’t him too hard.

Monday Roundup

For reasons that I hope I’ll explain one day, this week is going to be a bit crazy. So here are a few stories I’ve been sitting on, awaiting longer commentary:

A few weeks ago, Marvel comics unveiled an alternative Spiderwoman cover which was immediately decried as sexist because of her pose. I suspected that this criticism was largely coming from people who weren’t terribly familiar with the medium. And indeed, Maddox easily found a spiderman cover that was almost identical. As a general rule, if you ask a rhetorical question like, “Would they draw Spiderman like that?” you should probably do a little bit of research to make sure the answer isn’t “yep”. I don’t agree with everything Maddox says, but his point is well taken.

Another video you want to take in is Matt Ridley talking about global greening — the apparent rise in plants that has resulted from global warming. I disagree with parts of what he says, but toward the end he hits a very important point: Europeans are now planning to burn zillions of tons of trees under the belief that this is “green energy”. There’s a reason we stopped burning trees for fuel.

A few months ago, the town of Peoria launched a SWAT raid into the home of Jon Daniel. This incredibly dangerous man had … uh … created a parody Twitter account of Mayor Jim Ardis. During the raid, the cops found some pot on one of Daniel’s roommates. A judge has decided that the raid was lawful and they can proceed with the felony possession charges. I have no idea how the raid could be lawful when the prosecutor is not bringing charges because mocking someone on Twitter is not illegal. We have now gotten to the point where cops can raid your house based on something that isn’t a crime.

Obama has unveiled a plan to deal with drug-resistant bacteria, mainly by curtailing the massive overuse of antibiotics in farming and creating incentives for companies to develop new antibiotics. All things considered, this could be the biggest accomplishment of his administration. I mean, he’s not actively making things worse, so it’s got to be one of the top five things he’s done, at least on par with the Great Deckchair Rearranging of 2011.

Just a reminder if you need one: slavery did not make America rich.