Farewell To A Giant

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am reminded of how blessed I have been to be able to rub shoulders with many of the political and religious giants of the Twentieth (and now Twenty-First) Century. During the past 30-plus years, I have been allowed to get to know a good many of the men and women that would have to be regarded as giants in the fields of religion and politics. Many of these have already passed on; a few remain. In the field of politics, the giant of them all is Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

There is no doubt in my mind that history will regard Dr. Paul as the greatest congressman in US history. Ron Paul has done more to guard and defend liberty and constitutional government than perhaps any man since Thomas Jefferson. Dr. Paul’s legacy and influence will remain after most congressmen and senators have been long forgotten. What Patrick Henry was to Colonial America, Ron Paul has been to modern America. I am so grateful for the opportunity to get to personally know this man and to be able to call him my friend.

I was honored to be his personal representative in several notable gatherings in South Carolina during the 2008 Republican primary. I was honored to campaign with him in Iowa during that same primary. I’ve spoken on the same platform with him on numerous occasions. I was honored to be the speaker directly in front of him (and was honored to introduce him) in giant rallies stretching from Washington, D.C., to Reno, Nevada. I have been in private meetings with him and gotten to know him on a personal level. In my estimation, America has never known a more honest and genuine man. His integrity is impeccable, his honor unscathed.

It was with the utmost sadness that I watched Ron Paul give his Farewell Address to Congress last week. As he concluded his remarks and walked away from the Well of the House, I wept. I thought to myself: “There goes the greatest champion of liberty in a century; we may never see his likes again.” I wasn’t weeping for Dr. Paul though; I was weeping for America.

Unfortunately for us, Ron’s one weakness was his oratorical skills–or lack thereof. Then again, it’s my observation that most geniuses are much better writers than they are speakers. And make no mistake about it: Ron Paul is a genius. As I understand it, Thomas Jefferson was no great orator either. But as the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, there was certainly nothing shabby about his writing. And in those days, the American citizenry was more acutely attuned to the principles of liberty than is this generation. I don’t think it is much of a stretch to suggest that had Jefferson lived in this generation, he would never have been elected President either. Ron’s failure to obtain the Presidency is not a testament to his failure; it is a testament to the failure of this generation to recognize and appreciate the principles of liberty for which Ron stood.

Furthermore, in my opinion, Dr. Paul’s Farewell Address last week (which was delivered from a prepared, written text) is second in greatness only to George Washington’s Farewell Address. It was magnificent! As was Washington’s, Ron Paul’s Farewell Address should be regarded as the blueprint for liberty for the next 100 years. If anyone is looking for a platform upon which to mount a future political campaign (if he or she is interested in preserving liberty, that is), study and memorize Ron Paul’s Farewell Address.

I initially intended to use this column to expound upon the points Dr. Paul addressed in his remarks. But it came to me, for me to try and give commentary on Ron’s remarks, would be to seriously reduce their quality. How could someone such as me improve upon what someone such as Ron Paul said?

Accordingly, with all of the earnestness in my being, I urge readers to watch and read Congressman Ron Paul’s Farewell Address. See it at:

http://www.thedailybell.com/28295/Ron-Paul-Farewell-to-Congress

In all honestly, I have never heard anyone on Capitol Hill make such an intelligent, reasoned, passionate, and trenchant argument for the cause of liberty than Dr. Paul made in his Farewell Address. The principles set forth in that address would literally restore liberty and prosperity to America. Furthermore, following those principles would certainly avert the calamity that is soon coming to this country. Unfortunately, neither major party in Washington, D.C., has any intention on subscribing to those principles, because, for the most part, our federal government is led by corrupt, self-serving men who are void of any sense of honor and integrity.

Dr. Paul began his address lamenting that by outward appearances it didn’t appear that his nearly 24 years of service in Congress had accomplished much. I know that feeling! I often feel as did our Lord’s disciples, “We have toiled all night and taken nothing.” However, had Ron Paul lived during the formative years of our nation, there is no question we would be referring to him as President Paul. But make no mistake about it: Ron’s life has influenced tens of millions of freedom-loving people, both here and around the world. As I said at the Ron Paul Festival in Tampa, Florida, recently, “Ron Paul is bigger than Ron Paul!”

See my speech at Paul Fest at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aajr3zLqCzQ

Ron Paul has reignited the spirit of liberty in the hearts and minds of millions of us. His zeal and passion for freedom will resonate in the hearts of Americans for generations to come.

Unfortunately, not all of those who claim association with Ron Paul truly share his vision and passion for liberty. Many of them are self-serving opportunists, who want to personally profit from Dr. Paul’s name and reputation. Be careful of them! One thing Ron Paul never did was compromise. Did you see him endorsing the neocon John McCain? No. Did you see him endorsing the neocon Mitt Romney? No. If I’m not mistaken, I might have been the only man since Ronald Reagan whom Ron Paul endorsed for President of the United States. If so, that is an honor I will cherish unto my dying breath.

Beware of those who claim association with Ron Paul, but who promote compromise and appeasement. Beware of those who would trade on Ron Paul’s name for their own personal agendas. Beware of those who claim Ron Paul’s pedigree, yet who are nothing more than establishment insiders–or who want to be. Ron Paul was never intimidated by, or enamored with, the establishment. He could not be bullied or bribed. He was an indefatigable, courageous champion of liberty. And those who claim his legacy, but who seek the approbation of the establishment elite, never understood the first thing about Ron Paul.

As I watched Dr. Paul’s Farewell Address last week, I was reminded of how fortunate I was to be his friend and how blessed this generation of Americans was to be touched by his life and work. But as is the case with so many great men, Ron Paul has never truly received the honor that is due him. I pray one day he will.

One Good Thing The Reelection Of Barack Obama Has Accomplished

Many people across the country are rightly concerned as to what another four-year Obama administration is going to accomplish. According to the UK’s Daily Mail Online, “Although America carried President Obama confidently into a second term last Tuesday–not everyone is jumping for joy at the prospect of four more years.

“Tens of thousands have put their names to secession petitions in 20 states, asking that they peacefully become independent from the rest of the country.

“The documents have been lodged on a government website We The People–and Texas has almost enough people behind its petition to warrant an official White House response.

“Along with the Lone Star state, petitions were filed from Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee. So keen are the folks in Georgia for a separation, that they filed their petition twice.

“Unsurprisingly, the majority of these states voted for Republican nominee Mitt Romney although petitions were also lodged in Democrat strongholds such as New York and Oregon.”

See the report at:

dailymail.co.uk/news/ar…

A report just released as this column is going to distribution states that over 675,000 signatures have been gathered from all 50 states. Plus, at least 7 states (including Texas) have accrued more than the minimum of 25,000 signatures necessary for the Obama administration to honor with a staff review.

See the report at:

dailycaller.com/2012/11…

Does anyone believe that these states are really going to secede from the union? Of course not. At least, not yet. Citizen petitions are just that. In order for a State to secede it would have to be formally declared by an act of the State’s legislature and governor. Good luck finding many of those.

However, I, for one, applaud the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have signed their State’s petitions for secession. If nothing else, it demonstrates the resolve and determination of freedom-minded people throughout the country who are more than “fed up.”

Plus, I do believe these petitions are significant. That the federal government has become a monstrous leviathan that is trampling the liberties of the people, usurping the authority of the states, and making a mockery of the Constitution is the understatement of the year. Both major parties in Washington, D.C., are led by a cabal of Big Money, globalist elites. Barack Obama might be the point man, but he has a supporting cast of hundreds from both sides of the aisle, from Wall Street, and from Corporate America. And let’s not forget labor unions, the education establishment, Big Media, and Big Religion. They are all standing in line to get their share of milk from the government teat. Hardly anyone in a position of authority and influence gives a tinker’s dam about constitutional governance or the Bill of Rights.

At least Steve Stockman was elected to Congress. The undisputed champion of the Constitution and personal liberty, Ron Paul, has retired, and his absence leaves a void on Capitol Hill the size of the Grand Canyon. Steve’s presence will help fill at least some of that void. Go, Steve, Go!

However, the problem is much bigger than one seat in the US House of Representatives. Washington, D.C., has become more than a monster; it is a menace; it is a plague. And it is destroying everything that was good and decent in America. Most of the problems that our states and local communities are dealing with were caused by the miscreants in Washington, D.C. And, unfortunately, instead of serving as a guardian of the liberties of the people of the several states, most State governors, legislators, senators, etc., have jumped on Washington’s big-government bandwagon. So, where does that leave the people? It leaves them frustrated, fearful, angry, and signing citizen petitions for secession. Who can blame them?

Obamacare is going to bankrupt an already bankrupt nation. It’s going to put sick people on an assembly-line, one-size-fits-all healthcare disaster. To get an idea of what’s coming, take a close look at our VA clinics. It’s going to drive tens of thousands of very competent and qualified physicians out of practice. And remember, Mr. Romney barely made Obamacare a campaign issue. Why? Because he and his staffers helped create the dumb thing. That’s why.

Furthermore, most everyone is predicting that Obama will coerce the US Senate (yes, enough Republicans will go along with the Democrats) into signing the UN Small Arms Treaty. Many say that this treaty could pave the way for outlawing personal firearms–maybe even the attempted confiscation of personal firearms. Not surprisingly, the sale of guns and ammo has gone through the roof since Election Day.

At this juncture, I simply must make this studied prediction: treaty or no treaty, UN or no UN, law or no law, there are millions of able-bodied Americans all over the fruited plain who are not going to surrender their firearms to anybody. They just flat aren’t going to do it! If the federal government truly wants to legitimize and explode what is now merely citizen petitions for secession into full-fledged, honest-to-God, bring-it-on, declarations of independence by numerous State legislatures analogous to 1776, let them attempt to outlaw and confiscate people’s firearms. With no disrespect to my friends north of the border and overseas, this is not Canada or Australia. This is America, and we will never surrender our guns! Period!

And as an aside, a friend of mine, not in military service, just shot a bull elk over the weekend with a .300 Winchester Magnum rifle at a distance of 960 yards. One shot. One kill. And he is only one of thousands of Montanans that know how to do that. Let me ask all of the would-be tyrants in Washington, D.C., some questions: what’s Montana worth to you? What’s Idaho worth to you? What’s Wyoming worth to you? What are the Dakotas worth to you? What’s Texas worth to you? What’s Arizona worth to you? What’s Louisiana worth to you? What’s Oklahoma worth to you?

And for all of my freedom-loving friends out there, it’s time RIGHT NOW to make up your mind and decide how much freedom is worth to you, because the only thing separating you and me from slavery is “the people’s liberty-teeth” (George Washington’s characterization of guns). You can’t make up your mind when federal troops are standing on your doorstep. You’ve got to make up your mind NOW. And I’m saying that there are tens of millions of Americans whose minds are already made up on this matter. Furthermore, it’s time for our men and women in uniform to decide what side of the line they are going to be standing on when the order is given to seize Americans’ firearms. That decision must be made in your hearts RIGHT NOW.

Add to Obamacare and potential gun confiscation an economy that everyone is saying is headed “over the cliff.” Boys and girls, America is one national disaster away from a total economic meltdown, or at the very least hyperinflation. And Mr. Obama has no intention of bringing the troops home. He is as much the servant of war profiteers as was G.W. Bush. America’s wars of aggression in the Middle East are only going to escalate–further devastating our economic well-being.

And all the while, Russia and China continue to build their militaries (with America’s assistance, no less), salivating over the opportunity to launch a nuclear attack against us.

In addition, there is absolutely nothing I have stated in this column that is not being commonly discussed in dining rooms, restaurants, and taverns all over America. Just about everybody sees the handwriting on the wall.

If you would like to sign the secession petition in your State, the White House has a petition website where you can participate. Go to:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitions

I am absolutely convinced this is just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the surface is a waking giant that is just beginning to arouse from slumber. Just exactly what this means and how it will all play out is anyone’s guess. But one thing is for sure: if the federal government wants to see another Civil War, just let it begin confiscating people’s guns. That’s what started the first one, and that’s what would start the second one.

In the meantime, these citizen petitions demonstrate that people are truly beginning to wake up. Mitt Romney would have put them to sleep; Barack Obama has awakened them. That’s the one good thing the reelection of Barack Obama has accomplished!

P.S. I am happy to announce that Liberty Fellowship now has its own website. Furthermore, readers should know that there are hundreds–maybe thousands–of people across the country who are thoroughly fed up with these feel-good, stand-for-nothing churches and are gathering together in small groups to watch Liberty Fellowship’s livestreamed service each Sunday afternoon at 2:30pm Mountain Time.

Included on the Liberty Fellowship website is a page entitled, “Find Groups.” This page will be devoted to those people who are gathering together, or who want to gather together, to watch Liberty’s livestream service online. I already know of groups like this in Virginia, South Carolina, Arizona, California, and several other states.

The Liberty Fellowship website is:

http://libertyfellowshipmt.com/

If you are already meeting in a group and would like others to know about it, so that they might join you, please submit your CITY, STATE, and EMAIL ADDRESS to this email address:

[email protected]

Four Spiritual Laws of the 21st Century Model American

  1. You must understand that the National Government loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life, taking care of you from cradle to grave.
  2. However, you have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of the American Way.  You have selfishly worked for yourself, to make you own family more comfortable than those dependent on the Government.  You have probably cheated on your taxes in the process.  You have tried to pay off your debts and stop supporting the bankers who depend on your interest payments.  You have selfishly taken care of your own family’s needs, spurning the Helping Hand of Big Brother.  You have objected to the intimate caresses of the TSA in airports.  You have criticized the Police State which are there to help protect us from people like you.  You may have even had thoughts of allegiance to your own State instead of the National Government!  You have promoted old fashioned ideas, clinging to a constitution, guns and religion, which are no longer applicable in our wonderful modern era.
  3. You can still be redeemed and become a Model Citizen, by submitting your inclination toward individuality and to state citizenship.  Repent of your sins, become a model national and even International Citizen.  Vote for an approved socialist political party (it doesn’t matter which one, because they are both committed to the New World Order.  Pay your taxes cheerfully, as your fair contribution to helping others less productive.  Send your children to government brainwashing centers.  If you accidentally conceive more than two children, just have them quietly removed so they won’t be a further burden on you and the State.  Attend only churches that are registered with the government.  Encourage your sons and daughters to join the New World Army, where we now have “perpetual war for perpetual peace”.
  4. You can live as a Model Citizen.  It will be your duty to criticize, ridicule, ostracize, and if necessary, report to the government any neighbor or family member who advocates the right to bear arms; the right to educate their own children; the sovereignty of their own State; concepts of outmoded Biblical morality; and those who complain about paying their fair share of taxes to support the Dependent Classes.

Work makes us Free!  Let us work for Equality, Fairness and Liberty!

Is Privacy Dead?

the police-corporate surveillance complex is tracking everything you do online and off

Americans’ personal privacy is being crushed by the rise of a four-headed corporate-state surveillance system. The four “heads” are: federal government agencies; state and local law enforcement entities; telecoms, Web sites and Internet “apps” companies; and private data aggregators (sometimes referred to as commercial data warehouses).
Conventional analysis treats these four domains of data gathering as separate and distinct; government agencies focus on security issues, and corporate entities are concerned with commerce. Some overlap can be expected as, for example, in case of a terrorist attack or an online banking fraud. In both cases, an actual crime occurred.
But what happens when the boundary separating or restricting corporate-state collaboration, e.g., an exceptional crime-fighting incident, erodes and becomes the taken-for-granted operating environment, the new normal? Perhaps most troubling, what happens when the traditional safeguards offered by “watchdog” courts or regulatory organizations no longer seem to matter? What does it say that the entities designed to protect personal privacy rights seem to have either been effectively “captured” or become toothless tigers?
In President Dwight Eisenhower’s legendary 1960 farewell address, he warned of the potential power of the military-industrial complex.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” Eisenhower said. “We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
Ike’s 20th-century formulation represented the intertwining of the US military and private contractors to achieve two complementary goals. First, it sought to help corporations make guaranteed, cost-plus profits and to provide glide-path retirement programs for the military brass. Second, it sought to influence Congress and thus shape foreign policy, helping fulfill the then just-emerging global imperialist strategy.
Today’s corporate-state surveillance complex demonstrates a comparable intertwining of US policing forces and private companies in the monitoring of domestic life. It is being implemented thanks to the technology fruits of a half-century of the military-industrial complex. The Defense Department created the Internet, and what it can do in Yemen it can do in Oakland. The global war on terrorism is coming home!
In the wake of the Great Recession, we are living through a massive economic and social restructuring. The global world order is shifting and, accordingly, America’s class and social relations are being reordered. Occupy Wall Street’s formulation of the social crisis, the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent, has become the shorthand descriptor of this restructuring. No time is better to impose high-tech social discipline than one marked by economic and social crisis. The unanswered question is obvious: Are we witnessing the formation of the high-tech police state?
* * * * *
To reiterate, the four-headed corporate-state surveillance hydra consists of (i) federal agencies; (ii) state and local law enforcement entities; (iii) telecoms, Web sites and Internet “apps” companies; and (iv) private data aggregators. The following overview sketches out the parameters of the ever-growing domestic spy state, how it’s being implemented, and some of the more egregious examples of abuse of public trust, if not the law.
No. 1 — Federal Surveillance
The attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent (and endless) “War on Terror” continue to provide the rationale for an ever-expanding domestic security state. The leading agencies gathering data on Americans (and others) include the National Security Agency (NSA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Defense (DoD), as well as the FBI and IRS. In the wake of 9/11, the NSA took the lead in federal domestic cyber surveillance, but in 2010 the NSA ceded this authority to the DHS.
Personal information is gathered from a host of both public and private sources. One source is “public records,” which can range from birth, marriage and death records to court filings, arrest records, driver’s license information, property ownership registrations, tax records, professional licenses and even Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Another source is “private” records from ChoicePoint and LexisNexis, as well as credit reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian Information Solutions and Trans Union LLC.
The most Kafkaesque example of federal tracking efforts has been the DHS Transportation and Safety Administration’s (TSA) No-Fly List. As of 2011, it was estimated to contain about 10,000 names. The list’s inherent absurdity was illustrated when, some years before his death, Democratic US Sen. Ted Kennedy discovered he was on the list.
The No-Fly List is administered by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, which cannot reveal whether a particular person is on the list and cannot remove someone from the list — that’s up to the FBI itself. The screening center also manages what is known as the Terrorist Watch List. Administered by the FBI, the list, according to an ACLU estimate, consists of 1 million names and is continually expanding.
DHS also maintains the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT), which contains fingerprints, photographs and biographical information on 126 million people.
During the July 4, 2012, holiday weekend, President Barack Obama quietly released a new Executive Order, “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions.” While ostensibly seeking to ensure the continuity of government communications during a national emergency, it grants new powers to the DHS over telecom, permitting the agency to collect public communications information and giving it authority to seize private facilities when necessary. The Executive Order is legislation through the back door, the Obama administration’s effort to implement a law that Congress rejected in 2011.
Parallel to the DHS efforts, the FBI maintains a number of operations that actively track Americans. The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) keeps fingerprint records of some 62 million people; it makes this resource available to 43 states and five other federal agencies. Soon, the agency will switch over to the Next Generation Initiative, which will contain face recognition searchable photos, iris scans, fingerprints, palm prints and a record of scars and tattoos.
The FBI also coordinates the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which has DNA evidence from blood and saliva samples on more than 10 million people, and maintains the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative that includes some 160,000 reports on people who allegedly acted suspiciously.
(These activities are separate from the recent revelation from AntiSec, which found on an FBI agent’s laptop a database of 12 million Apple device owners’ unique user identities, including owners’ personal information.)
In 2004, Congress established the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to serve as the “center for joint operational planning and joint intelligence, staffed by personnel from the various agencies,” according to its Web site. It maintains the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), which includes records on an estimated 740,000 people. Federal authorities claim that less than 2 percent of the people on file are US citizens or legal permanent residents. Earlier this year, US Attorney General Eric Holder extended the agency’s ability to maintain private information about US citizens when there is no suspicion they are involved in terrorism from 180 days to five years.
The NSA’s authority overrides Fourth Amendment guarantees safeguarding a citizen from unreasonable search and seizure through what is known as a National Security Letter (NSL). In 2008, Congress revised the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, freeing the NSA from the bothersome requirement of having to prove probable cause before intercepting a person’s phone calls, text messages or emails from someone in the US suspected of involvement with terrorism. Between 2000 and 2010 (excluding 2001 and 2002, for which no records are available), the FBI was issued 273,122 NSLs; in 2010, 24,287 letters were issued pertaining to 14,000 US residents.
In June 2011, the DoD launched a pilot program, the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Cyber Pilot, with 20 private companies, allowing intelligence agencies to share threat information with private military contractors. Among the companies that participated were Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, as well as telecommunication companies AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink. The telecoms filter incoming email for malicious software. In May 2012, DoD and DHS announced plans to expand the program to 200 participants and the DoD estimates that approximately 8,000 firms could potentially participate.
Meanwhile, the DoD is aggressively promoting the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA), which recently passed the House and is now before the Senate. Under this law, there would be a significant expansion in sharing of information related to “cyber hacking” (a very ill-defined term) between federal agencies, including DoD, NSA and DHS, and private companies. The information to be shared would cover both classified and unclassified data. The ostensible purpose of such data sharing would be to protect the nation’s telecom networks and customers from hack-attacks. Sure.
No. 2 — State and Local Law Enforcement
On July 9, US Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released the first set of findings from the House’s Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus. It found that more than 1.3 million federal, state and local law enforcement data requests were made to cell phone companies for personal records in 2011. Among the tracking information provided to law enforcement entities were: geo-locational, or GPS data, 911 call responses, text message content, billing records, wiretaps, PING location data and what are known as cell tower “dumps” (i.e., a carrier provides all the phone numbers of cell users that connect with a discrete tower during a discrete period of time).
In a separate and equally revealing disclosure, the ACLU found that, based on records from more than 200 local law enforcement agencies, most law enforcement groups that engaged in cell-phone tracking did not obtain a warrant, subpoena or other court order.
The Associated Press received a Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for revealing the role played by the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) secret demographics unit. It had undertaken a federally funded, multimillion-dollar, multi-state surveillance program of Muslims in the metro-NY area, citizens and non-citizens alike. Most recently, The AP reported that, based on the testimony of one of the program’s senior executives, the NYPD failed to identify a single attack or threat.
Another NYPD anti-terrorist program, known as the Domain Awareness System (DAS), was developed as a commercial partnership between the NYPD and Microsoft at an estimated cost of $30 million to $40 million. With DAS, investigators can track individuals or incidents (like a suspicious package) through live video feeds from some 3,000 CCTV cameras and 2,600 radiation substance detectors, check license plate numbers, pull up crime reports and cross-check all information against criminal and terrorist databases. It seems Big Brother has become America’s new normal.
One area in which local government and private interests come together involves the use of automatic license plate recognition devices. In New York and other cities throughout the country, LPR cameras are being mounted on lampposts, bridges and police patrol cars to capture images of license plates. These photos are then shared with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which represents hundreds of insurance companies. Thus, private location data of US citizens are being acquired and shared with commercial entities without their knowledge or consent.
No. 3 — Telecom, Web sites and Internet “Apps” Companies
Rep. Markey’s disclosure revealed a lucrative scheme involving the security state outsourcing data gathering to 10 major telecommunications companies, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. These companies made million of dollars supplying law enforcement agencies with personal telecom information.
However, a far bigger issue involves most of the major Web sites, including Google, Facebook, Amazon and iTunes, which systematically collect user data and commercialize it for corporate purposes; the telecoms engage in the same practice.
Many Web companies fulfill government requests for a user’s personal information, but Google is one of the few companies that publicly reveal such requests. Most recently, it reported that during the second-half of 2011, US government agencies made 12,243 requests and that it complied with 93 percent of them (11,386). This amounts to about 2,000 requests a month; what’s going on?
Wireless devices are two-way technologies. In addition to uploaded valuable personal data, wireless customers are sitting ducks for downloaded junk. Most Smartphone users are unaware that when they download a “free” app, they are downloading a Trojan horse.
According to a recent study by Lookout Mobile Security, more than half of the free apps embed advertising in their offerings and that these offerings are provided by ad networks. It estimates that 5 percent of all Smartphone apps (representing 80 million downloads) are embedded with “aggressive” ad networks that can change bookmark settings and deliver ads outside the app they are embedded in. Games, and especially Google Play, had the highest rate of ad placements. The data from all these apps are being collected, analyzed and exploited for commercial gain.
No. 4 — Private Data Aggregators
Private sector tracking can be divided between three types of companies. One consists of those companies that facilitate commercial transactions, such as the ostensible bank-like Visa or PayPal. A second consists of the ad agencies (most notably Google) which capture personal data through “click-throughs” and “cookies.” Finally, private data aggregators like ChoicePoint, Intelius, Lexis Nexis and US Search Profile collect personal data, repackage it and offer it for sale. They acquire, slice and dice your personal information as if they were running sausage factories and your personal life were the unlucky pig. Together, they prove that nothing private is secret — the whole world is watching!
These companies track one’s every keystroke, online order and bill payment, every word and/or phrase in every email, even one’s every mobile movement through GPS tracking. Data capture involves everything from your personal Social Security number, phone calls, arrest record, credit card transactions and online viewing preferences as well as your medical and insurance records and even personal prescriptions.
* * * * *
The US Constitution, adopted on Sept. 17, 1787, reserved privacy to a citizen’s person, home and property; the Fourth Amendment prohibits illegal search and seizure. In the intervening 225 years between then and now, the notion of personal privacy has been radically transformed, especially in light of technological advances and the globalization of the marketplace. The Constitution was written in a pre-industrial, agrarian era, yet still informs decisions made in a post-modern world.
The Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Katz v. US established a link between the modes of telecommunication and personal privacy that illuminates today’s debate over the limits of privacy in the post-modern age. Today, the ruling seems all but forgotten.
In that case, Charles Katz had used a public pay phone booth to place illegal gambling bets. In writing for the majority, Justice Potter Stewart noted, “One who occupies [a telephone booth], shuts the door behind him and pays the toll that permits him to place a call is surely entitled to assume that the words he utters into the mouthpiece will not be broadcast to the world.”
Does someone making a call on a wireless device today have comparable rights to someone in a phone booth a half-century ago? Are the keystrokes an individual enters on a personal computer or a Smartphone equivalent to an old-fashioned voice call? And what of the personal information an individual provides to a third party like a credit-card company, insurance company or telephone, wireless and Internet service provider?
The Katz decision was farsighted for the mid-20th century, and one can only hope that its insight will inform the debate over 21st-century digital technology and communications.  More so, it serves as an analogy for contemporary notions of social life and reasonable expectations of privacy.
War, however, has long provided the rationale for the imposition of state tyranny. World War I hysteria found expression in the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Palmer Raids of 1920; World War II hysteria resulted in the mass roundup and imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans; the Cold War gave us anti-Communism.
One consequence of 9/11 is that constitutionally protected privacy rights have come under increasing threat from both private corporations and government entities. The private sector and the state traditionally function as separate, if not parallel, worlds. Since 9/11, both domains have not only been very busy collecting raw digital and other information on ordinary Americans, but have increasingly joined forces.
In the marketplace of valued data, one’s digital self (or selves) is increasingly being sliced and diced, collated and repackaged as an ever more exact commodity. Nothing about a person’s electronic self, whether a credit-card purchase, parking ticket, GPS location, medical records or viewing practices, is private.
The military-industrial complex formalized the fiction that separates the corporate and the federal, serving as the revolving door for deals made and rewarded. A permanent militarized state is now engaged in wars against “terrorists,” good-old foreign cyber-espionage with China, Iran, Russia and others, battles with criminal gangs, cyber hackers (like the well-known group known as Anonymous) and whistleblowers. The same technologies being employed to fight the war on terror internationally are being imposed on Americans’ most private, personal lives.
The police-corporate surveillance “complex” is being consolidated, drawing ever-closer corporate tracking and government surveillance. These entities collect data sent from different devices, which take different forms and use different distribution networks.  Such devices include a phone or Smartphone, PC or tablet; they are separate from the network one employs, whether wire line, wireless or cable, and are distinct from the type of information one communicates, from email message, commercial transaction and social network connection to video download and medical records. Nevertheless, in our increasingly digitally mediated universe, all 1s and 0s are alike.
Today, nearly all the personal data gathering that takes place does so under one of two conditions. First, it is done by a consumer under the “terms of use” required by a take-it-or-leave-it offer for whatever service is being provided (e.g., making a call, use of an iPhone, doing a Google search, ordering a book through Amazon). Second, it is ostensibly done “legally” by a law enforcement agency with a court order (or sometimes without such legal niceties).
The line between the corporate and the government is eroding. There seems to be a widening two-way street between law-enforcement entities federal and local and private companies over information sharing. One form of working relation is a passive fee-for-service arrangement, such as when a telecom provides a user’s GPS tracking data or Google supplies user data. The information is provided when the company receives a court-approved request. However, as the ACLU found, cordial relations between law enforcement entities and telecoms often bypass legal terms of agreement.
A second form of information sharing comes from the more traditional outsourcing deal, which was the case in the apparent collusion between a federal government agency and one of its former spymasters, former CIA Director Richard Helms. His Virginia-based company, Abraxas Corp., created TrapWire, which correlates video surveillance with other data, including criminal and terrorist watch lists, facial recognition profiles, license plate information, stolen vehicles reports and other event data.  It was acquired by San Diego-based Cubic Corp. in 2010 for $124 million in cash.
A third form of data sharing is partnership, a for-profit venture between a local government and a major corporation. Welcome to Domain Awareness System, in which the NYPD and Microsoft entered into a commercial venture. A flurry of press releases and TV appearances promoted the venture of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg 21st-century capitalism. It would be interesting to examine the final financial projections to see what New York’s rate-of-return would be given its estimated $30 million to $40 million investment.
Earlier this year, in Jones v. US, the Supreme Court ruled that the police are required to get a warrant before attaching a Global Position System (GPS) device to a suspect’s car. In its decision, the court rejected the Obama Justice Department’s claim that citizens have no expectation of privacy in public places. This decision could ultimately provide the rationale for a redrawing of the lines protecting privacy, communication and personal information. n
David Rosen writes the Media Current blog for Filmmaker and regularly contributes to CounterPunch, Huffington Post and the Brooklyn Rail. Check out DavidRosenWrites; he can be reached at [email protected]
Source: http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/is_privacy_dead/11576/

No Change

As everybody on the planet knows now, Barack Obama was re-elected President of the United States. Democrats retained control of the US Senate, while Republicans retained control of the US House of Representatives. In other words, the national elections produced no change. But, in reality, we haven’t had any significant change in a national election in many years.

The last significant national election that produced dramatic change (at least temporarily) was the congressional elections of 1994, when Republicans swept both houses of Congress and denied President Bill Clinton’s Democrats control of the legislature. It was dubbed the “Conservative Revolution.” The other election that could be regarded as a national coup against the established political order was the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

However, within a year of the 1994 congressional elections, Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott had successfully fought off attempts of rank and file GOP congressmen to truly reduce the size and scope of the federal government, and by 1995, it was business as usual once again. And after Mr. Reagan was shot just a little over a year after taking office, much of the conservative agenda that he had campaigned on seemed to quickly fade away.

But ever since Reagan, republicans have routinely rejected legitimate freedomists and have nominated pseudo-conservatives. The result has always led to a resounding defeat for republicans at the polls. Since the defeat of George H.W. Bush after one term in 1992, due to his blatant big-government and globalist policies, Democrats have dominated the White House. The lone exception was the election of G.W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. But, Bush, Jr., ran as a Reagan-conservative. He wasn’t, of course, but he was perceived as one. But it was Bush, the Big-Spending-Warmonger, that doomed the GOP’s future failures. Bush’s out-of-control deficit spending, coupled with his preemptive wars of aggression, and the implementation of a burgeoning police state/surveillance society made the name “Republican” something dirty to the American electorate. As a result, the GOP is in complete disarray and without principled leadership.

Mitt Romney was just the latest attempt by the GOP establishment to force a big-government “moderate” upon party faithful. The true freedomist Ron Paul was treated in much the same way that Pat Buchanan was treated back in 1996. By hook or by crook, the GOP was not going to let a principled freedomist win the Presidential nomination. They wanted a controlled big-government toadie. They got what they wanted, and they lost! In fact, every time the GOP nominates a “moderate” as their Presidential nominee, he loses. Every time! One could almost get the feeling that the party establishment would rather lose with a moderate than win with a conservative. After all, why would the American people want a Wall Street moderate who will implement 85% of the Democrat agenda when they can elect a blue-collar Democrat and have the real deal? At least the Democrats are perceived as being compassionate. The GOP’s refusal to listen to their grassroots, to advance populist causes, and to disconnect themselves from Wall Street continues to cost them elections. In short, the Republican Party in Washington, D.C., is completely out of touch with average Americans.

The same scenario played out here in the State of Montana. The GOP candidates for Governor and US Senator (both pseudo-conservatives) lost to Democrats. (At the time of this writing, the race for governor is very close with only 7000 votes separating them; but the Democrat has held the lead all yesterday and today, and it is doubtful that the Republican can overtake him.) This is actually a good thing for the Montana Republican Party, as it removes from leadership the two most powerful neocons. These are men who had steered and manipulated the State party away from freedomist principles in much the same way that both Bush I and Bush II had done nationally. Now, true freedomists within the State GOP have an opportunity to rise to positions of leadership and begin steering the party back to its conservative roots.

But as I predicted earlier, the Presidential election did not provide long coattails. In DC, Republicans ended where they started, with control of the House of Representatives. Neither did Democrats increase their advantage on Capitol Hill at all. So, let’s not forget that the GOP controls the US House of Representatives. This means that the GOP controls the purse strings for ALL federal spending. If the Republican Party is serious about reducing spending, they have the power to do it. All monies appropriated for federal expenditures must be authorized by the House of Representatives. So, Republicans should quit crying in their milk and start demanding that House Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the House Republican leadership start growing some man-stuff and stop funding all of these big-government, unconstitutional expenditures-including all of these foreign wars that are sapping both our freedom and our prosperity.

Here in Montana, Republicans maintained a significant majority in the State House of Representatives (my son, Tim, ran as a Republican in a predominantly Democrat district, and appears to have lost a close race) and picked up the attorney general’s office. Furthermore, there were five ballot initiatives, all of which had to be regarded as Republican issues. All five passed overwhelmingly.

Republican propagandists can complain all day long about principled freedomists who choose to vote for a third party or not vote at all for a given race. But they shouldn’t blame the voters; they should cast blame where it rightly belongs: at the feet of the GOP leadership. I no more owe allegiance to a political party than I would owe allegiance to a retail store. If the business does not convince me by its product, service, and price to shop there, I am under no obligation to do so. I will go down the street. It’s laughable to think that I owe my business to one store. What a joke!

It is equally laughable to suggest that I owe my vote to one political party. Each candidate has an obligation to convince me that he or she is worthy of my vote. When he or she does, my vote is given them. But when a candidate doesn’t earn my vote, they are not getting it–regardless of party label. That’s the way most Americans vote. Oh sure, you have the party loyalists who would vote for their party’s candidate if a baboon was nominated. Thankfully, the numbers of these types of voters are quickly shrinking.

And in truth even the party loyalists who condemn people who won’t vote for the “lesser of two evils” (meaning someone from their party) are blatant hypocrites, because they won’t do it either. The only difference is whether the “lesser of two evils” is defined by either principle or party. Let me explain.

Here in Montana there was a two man race for Clerk of the Supreme Court. One was a Democrat; the other was a Libertarian. There was no Republican in the race. The Democrat won by 14 percentage points. Pray tell, why didn’t all the Republicans vote for the “lesser of two evils” and give the Libertarian the victory? Why? Because party loyalists refuse to vote for anyone who is not a Republican, meaning the “lesser of two evils.” In other words, they behave in exactly the same way that many freedomists behave: they refuse to vote for the “lesser of two evils.” The only difference is the definition of “evil.” To freedomists, “evil” is the abandonment of constitutional, freedom principles; to party loyalists, “evil” is the abandonment of the Republican Party.

Here is the bottom line: Republicans don’t win elections when they nominate pseudo-conservatives. They crash and burn. And they have been crashing and burning for decades now. If Romney had any coattails, it was to taint true Republican conservative candidates with his brand of neoconism. When will they ever wake up and realize that they are perceived as being an out-of-touch, elitist, money-driven party that doesn’t give a darn about average people? Furthermore, when will they stop treating principled freedomists like toilet paper?

All over America, in State after State, the GOP leadership bullied, harangued, and stomped on Ron Paul and his supporters. The way Ron and his followers were treated in many State GOP conventions and in the national GOP convention was nothing short of criminal. Had Mitt Romney behaved as a gentleman and not like a vengeful tyrant, had the GOP leadership treated Ron and his supporters with the respect and dignity that they had earned, this election might have turned out differently.

Frankly, Mitt Romney deserved to lose, not only due to his big-government, liberal track record, which is out of step with rank and file freedomists, but also due to the shameful treatment of Ron Paul and his supporters, which he either knowingly tolerated or may have even orchestrated.

Furthermore, for the Republican Party to ask principled conservatives to support candidates who routinely trample constitutional government, who routinely support bigger and bigger government, who routinely aid and abet a growing police state, who routinely finance more and more unconstitutional wars of aggression, who routinely vote to bankrupt America with deficit spending, who routinely provide bailouts for their banker-buddies, and who routinely treat honest, hardworking freedomists like doormats, is to ask for more and more disaster at the polls.

So, the net result of the 2012 elections was NO CHANGE. And the reason there was no change in the elections is because there was no change in the Republican Party. What was the definition of insanity again?

Our Deviant Society

Here’s one usage of the term gentleman: The gentleman helped the fallen lady to her feet. Here’s another, one we might hear from a newscaster or a police spokesman: Tonight we report on the arrest of two gentlemen who raped, sodomized and murdered an 80-year-old woman.

During earlier times, to be called a gentleman meant one was honest, brave, courteous and loyal. Today “gentleman” is used interchangeably in reference to decent people and the scum of the earth.

Much of today’s language usage demonstrates a desire to be nonjudgmental. People used to shack up; now they cohabit or are living partners. Few young women of yesteryear would have felt comfortable to publicly declare they slept around. Unmarried women used to give birth to a bastard; later, this was upgraded to an illegitimate birth or a nonmarital birth. In many instances, unwed mothers proudly hold baby showers celebrating their illegitimate offspring, and the man, if known, who sired the baby is referred to as “my baby’s daddy” or sometimes as “my baby daddy.”

Homosexual marriages, which are not a basic human survival trait, were unheard of; today, in some jurisdictions, homosexual marriages have legal sanction. To be judgmental about modern codes of conduct is to risk being labeled a prude, racist, sexist or a homophobe. People ignore the fact that to accept another’s right to engage in certain peaceable, voluntary behavior doesn’t require moral acceptance or sanction.

Another measure of social deviancy is reflected by the excuses and apologies that are made for failures and how we make mascots out of social misfits, such as criminals and bums. The intellectual elite tell us that it’s poverty or racism that produces criminals, as opposed to a moral defect. We call bums homeless people. That suggests a moral equivalency between people who have lost their homes in a fire or natural disaster and people who choose to be social parasites; therefore, neither group is to be blamed for its respective condition. People who are very productive members of our society, such as the rich, are often held up to ridicule and scorn.

Think back to former President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and the nation’s response that “it was just about sex.” Therefore, it was no big thing for the president and his men to become involved in witness tampering, perjury, obstruction of justice and a White House-organized attack on Kenneth Starr, an officer of the court.

Most Americans thought removal from office was too harsh for Clinton’s lawlessness.

That kind of lawlessness helped establish a precedent for lawless acts by President Barack Obama. His most recent was an executive order that suspended legal liability for young people who are brought to our country illegally by their parents. He also repealed the legal requirement that welfare recipients must work, by simply redefining “work” to include other things, such as going to classes on weight control. Then there are waivers from Obamacare for favored allies — waivers that offend the principle of equality before the law.

Whether the president’s actions were good or bad ideas or not is irrelevant. What’s relevant is whether we want to establish a precedent whereby a president, who has no constitutional authority to repeal parts of congressional legislation, can grant special favors and rule by presidential decree like Third World tyrants.

I don’t hold President Obama completely responsible for his unconstitutional actions. It’s the American people who are to blame, for it is we who have lost our morality and our love, knowledge and respect for our Constitution, laying the foundation for Washington tyranny. It is all part and parcel of “defining deviancy down,” which is the term former U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined in 1993 to describe how we’ve switched from moral absolutes to situational morality and from strict constitutional interpretation to the Constitution’s being a “living document.” Constitutional principles that do not allow one American to live at the expense of another American are to be held in contempt. Today’s Americans have betrayed the values that made us a great nation, and that does not bode well for future generations.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.