Tag: NSA

Rand Stands Again

So today, Rand Paul engaged in his second filibuster, this time against the Patriot Act, talking for ten hours. Specifically, he was filibustering against Section 215, which supposedly enables the NSA meta-data collection program.

This has been building for several weeks now. The Second Circuit, in fact, ruled that the Patriot Act doesn’t authorize the data collection program and the NSA has said they will not change anything until Congress acts. Following this, the lying sack of shit that leads the NSA claimed that he lied to Congress about the program because … and I’m not making this up … he forgot the program existed. Defenders of the program are demanding Congress reauthorizing it, making dubious and sometimes outright false statements about the success of the program. And last week, the House voted to reign in the NSA’s power, albeit in water-down version. The ball is currently in the Senate’s court.

I don’t think the Patriot Act should be renewed. This has been primarily used as a smokescreen for prosecutions on drug and other non-terrorism charges. It was passed in the first place on false claims that 9/11 happened because the government didn’t have the powers within the Patriot Act. If it must be passed however, it should only pass after the USA FREEDOM Act directly curtails the NSA’s power.

I have my disagreements with Paul, but this is another occasion on which he has made me proud. Let’s hope other Senators will stand not just with Rand, but with us.

NASA Has It’s Head In The Clouds

Apparently there are not enough stars to gaze at it or space to explore. Those wacky scientists, not the least bit concerned that their days might be numbered and they might have to go out and get real jobs, have decided to go into the socio-economic business, and their progressive slip is showing;

Few think Western civilization is on the brink of collapse—but it’s also doubtful the Romans and Mesopotamians saw their own demise coming either.

If we’re to avoid their fate, we’ll need policies to reduce economic inequality and preserve natural resources, according to a NASA-funded study that looked at the collapses of previous societies.

“Two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed,” reads the study. “The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses.”

Here we go again, more of this wealth redistribution crap, progressivism is so noxious. The Elites against the Masses, two distinct and separate animals, never ever cross breeding or sharing of common goals or common beliefs, us against them, how boring. And what is this “ecological carrying capacity”? Is this codespeak for population control?

In unequal societies, researchers said, “collapse is difficult to avoid…. Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”

There is so much wrong with this, it’s hard to know where to start. What is an “equal society” and has there ever been one for us to look are and compare? In a free market/capitalist society don’t we want the Elites to consume stuff? Isn’t that how economies are moved forward to grow? When rich people (I will take literary license here and assume that is who they mean by “Elites”) inject their capital into the marketplace, goods are produced, jobs are created, and profits puts food on the dinner tables of the workers. Why are they bitching about that?

Who decides how much is too much? If Warren Buffett decides to take 10 fancy vacations a year instead of 5, or Bill Gates thinks he needs 3 yachts tied in port instead of 1, is this really hurting society? Is it wasteful (The travel industry workers and the yacht builders don’t think so), and how pray tell is any of those taking away from the Masses? More of that finite pie crap, that since the rich has a bigger piece, it only follows that the poor will have a smaller slice. So their conclusion is that because the rich buy too much stuff, the poor will will go hungry, famine is created. Mind numblingly stupid.

A few words about natural resources. I always thought scientist types did not limit themselves to “what we have now” but could project to “what are the possibilities in the future”. We know that we have more trees now then ever before. Sure, the earth contains a finite amount fossil fuels under ground, but who says we are even remotely close to running out. More advanced and efficient extraction methods, tar sands, heavy oil, oil shale, gas shale, even the discovery and commercial viability of different energy sources, all could prolong and preserve the abundance of available natural resources.

NASA and the stupid have not been strangers so I am not surprised at this little jaunt through progressive fairyland, but in the conversation of what government agencies need to get the ax (many are worse than useless and would not be missed) NASA is on the bubble. Yes, I know that when their budget is put up against the avalanche of waste we see in most entitlement programs, we are talking pennies on the dollar. But when they get sidetracked with proclamations damning the rich and parrot the president’s redistributionist junk, that tells me they do not have enough work to do and maybe they need to be redistributed back into the private sector.

Fealty, Up To A Point

Most rational folks work through a serious of progressions in coming to an opinion on a particular issue. The starting point is usually at the visceral/emotional level, e.g. is this a big government/less government issue, a governmental intrusion vs. civil rights issue, or a free speech/free exercise of religion issue. From there a cursory to exhaustive pursuit of the facts is necessary, just in case there are mitigating circumstances or point of view as yet pondered. And lastly, consideration on who is lining up on which side of the issue. People that you admire, have great respect for (this would also include publications) and have been simpatico in the past, to get their take and reconcile it with your conclusions, sometimes they mesh perfectly and others-not so much, this approach has always been helpful for me.

But sometimes, those leaders you admire, follow, and support go off the boil, they stray down the primrose path, motivated by either good intentions or political expediency, and you cannot abide by their actions. This rarely warrants total abandonment, you assume he will figure it out and come to his senses eventually so you stick with him, but there are no illusions, he has your support as long as he toes the line (lines) you think appropriate.

Right now (subject to change as the politics warrant) my two favorites for the 2016 presidential election are Ted Cruz and Rann Paul, and I would be happy with either, each bringing a different approach but both workable and a nice change of pace from President pants on fire. But neither is above criticism.

In older posts we already discussed Cruz’s ill fated/knee jerk/ theatrical reading of Dr. Sues’ Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor during a full blown filibuster in an attempt to defund Obamacare. This all seemed as useful to me as spitting into the wind or tugging on Superman’s cape. Afterwards to said he accomplished what he set out to do, although what that was is as nebulous as ever.

Ditto with Rann Paul, during last Sunday’s talk shows, where he rode to the defense of Erik Snowden telling us that he isn’t such a bad guy, deserves a lesser sentence and after all , did us a great service, the implication that Snowden’s ends justified his means yielded a call for leniency. Although absent through all that is any clear understanding of exactly what intel was passed to his autocratic hosts, and therein lies the big problem for me. Paul did not call him a hero, as some here have done, but he clearly does not have a handle on what damage was done and the duplicity as which Snowden stooped to steal state secrets.

Today a good article in the WSJ was written on Snowden, casting more light on the subject. I’m hoping the whole article is shown since this is “subscriber” content, it might not be.

One complaint I read last week was that he had no where to turn and had to flee the country;

If Mr. Snowden really had moral pangs, he had other options than stealing secrets, fleeing to the protection of two dictatorships and then claiming to be Tom Paine. He could have taken his concerns to Congress’s intelligence committees. Or he could have resigned from Booz Allen, his employer and federal contractor, and begun a general public campaign against government spying.

Other relevant facts offered to show motive and character;

. His supporters portray him as a patriot who was shocked by what he found in government. Yet he seems to have taken his contracting job at Booz Allen with the express intention of stealing secrets.

Upon arriving in Hong Kong in June, he told the South China Morning Post that his Booz Allen job “granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked. That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.” Reuters reported in November that Mr. Snowden lied to at least 20 colleagues to obtain passwords to steal more secrets. A friendly New York Times NYT +0.10% magazine piece in August said Mr. Snowden first contacted former Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald in December 2012, four months prior to joining Booz Allen, and the two men used encryption to hide secrets they later released.

The implication being that even before he knew what the government was doing, he went in with a clear motive to steal whatever he could, probably for publication at a later date provided to the highest bidder.

I already posted links detailing Snowden giving the Chinese info on two specific IP addresses the NSA was actively monitoring, kiss those good by, but there is more;

What Snowden revealed to SCMP was the following: “extensive hacking of major telecommunication companies in China to access text messages”; “sustained attacks on network backbones at Tsinghua University, China’s premier seat of learning” “hacking of computers at the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet, which owns one of the most extensive fiber optic submarine cable networks in the region.”

Talk about aiding the enemy. Not a week goes by without some mention in the news about the cyber war China is wagging against the US. Is there a bigger threat to intellectual property anywhere in the world then the Chinese and their thieving, yet, whatever attempts that were made in the past by the NSA to even remotley even the playing field and figure out what they are doing, that has been compromised by this weasel.

The WSJ article also mentions how Snowden’s actions have impaired impeded the NSA’s ability to monitor AQ and to discover/thwart whatever nastiness they have planed for us in the future.

I like Rann Paul and will continue to support him, but he needs to open his eyes, separate the domestic policies of the NSA from that of their international policies, and not provide any comfort or assurances to Snowden until we get a better handle on what “everything” he gave away, or what he will give away in the future.