Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rubber Stamp

NSA Rubber Stamp Court objects to characterization

The Washington Post released an NSA Inspector Generals report that characterized the FISC court as "amenable" and describes a a fairly high level of coordination between the court and the NSA and Justice.

One side only

The problem with courts like this is that only the government gets to present its case.  There is no review, no possibility of appeal.  This is the court that authorized the bulk collection of phone metadata from U.S. phone companies.  This is the court that authorized the collection of  the content of e-mails and phone calls to and from the United States.

Without an advocate arguing against the government case, an advocate representing the people, this court is a farce.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell and recorded by Little Willie John in 1956 this song has been covered by such diverse artists as Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley, and Ella Fitzgerald.

I recently stumbled upon this version in an episode of Magic City... I think I've got the right version here, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

This version is by La Lupe (Guadalupe Victoria Yoli Raymond) and has a distinct Cuban flare... I think I like it better than the original.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Photo by Richard Johnstone


In Hollingsworth v. Perry the Supreme Court ruled not on the merits of the case or the constitutionality of the measure,  but that the proponents of Proposition 8 had no legal standing to bring the case forward.  Vacating the decision of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals,  the measure is returned to the District Court that initially held it unconstitutional with instructions to dismiss.


I have to agree with Kennedy on this one,  that 

The Court's reasoning does not take into account the fundamental principles or the practical dynamics of the initiative system in California, which uses this mechanism to control and to bypass public officials—the same officials who would not defend the initiative, an injury the Court now leaves unremedied. The Court's decision also has implications for the 26 other States that use an initiative or popular referendum system and which, like California, may choose to have initiative proponents stand in for the State when public officials decline to defend an initiative in litigation.

Merits of the case aside, the people of California spoke, their elected officials effectively ignored them, choosing not to defend a measure passed by the people that they themselves disagreed with.

The Outcome

Sadly, the repercussions of this ruling has little to do with Gay Rights and everything to do with Our Rights.  Kevin Drum at Mother Jones summed it up nicely:

In California, it's routine for the people to pass initiatives that neither the governor nor the legislature supports. In fact, that was the whole point of the initiative process when it was created. In cases like these, of course the governor and legislature are going to decline to defend the law in court. With today's decision, the Supreme Court is basically gutting the people's right to pass initiatives that elected officials don't like and then to defend them all the way to the highest court in the land. 

 The only recourse left to the people of California is to remove these officials from office,  but then the fallout from this is unlikely to last until the next election cycle, and the harm has already been done.

Chalk this one up as a win for the Politicians and Bureaucrats and against the People.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Why I like the Supreme Court DOMA Decision

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

State Law/Federal Law

While many conservatives will be displeased with the DOMA decision,  I think this is something we should embrace.  Perhaps in defining and justifying their ruling, they overstepped their true intent in acknowledging the preeminence of state over federal law.  Kennedy summed it up best when he wrote:

"The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States"

Unquestioned Authority of the States

Whether you agree or disagree with gay marriage...  this is the ball you ought to pick up and run with.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Immigration Reform?

How about government reform?

This post may not be what you think it is,  as I am not going to comment for or against the immigration bill.  Instead I'm going to point you towards an article in the Weekly Standard.

The question asked of our representatives was related to a previous news story regarding potential interaction between the immigration bill and ACA. summed up as follows:

"Under Obamacare, businesses with over 50 workers that employ American citizens without offering them qualifying health insurance could be subject to fines of up to $3,000 per worker. But because newly legalized immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges until after they become citizens – at least 13 years under the Senate bill – businesses could avoid such fines by hiring the new immigrants instead."  Article Here

When our elected representatives don't have an understanding of the legislation they are voting on... we have a serious problem.

"We're trying to solve that right now. I don't know if that's been solved," Sen Baucus

"I don't know. I'd have to look at it closely," Sen Casey

"I mean I'd have to look. You're asking a legal question. It's not an opinion question," Sen Blumenthal

"I don't have the time to drill down on it right now," Sen Carper

"I think if you work for an employer who offers health care, you will get the health care you want," Sen Boxer

As I said, this isn't about the immigration bill or ACA,  this is about whether or not our elected representatives even know what the hell it is they're voting on.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Civil Rights

In a local case that has made not only national news but international as well,  the Colorado Civil Rights Division has ruled that a six year old transgendered male has the right to use the girls bathroom in elementary school. The division ruled that the Fountain-Fort Carson School District violated a state law extending protections to transgendered people and that keeping the ban in place "creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating or offensive."

The case started over last years "winter break" and the mother of the child states that the received a call "out of the blue" stating that the child could use the boy's bathroom, nurse's bathroom, or gender-neutral faculty bathrooms but would no longer be permitted to use the girl's bathrooms.

The family did an interview with Katie Couric which provides some background:

The Daily Mail has the full video segment available at the bottom of the page.

The case presents an interesting dilemma in balancing the rights and needs of one against many.  There are 591 students at Eagleside Elementary school and Coy is just one of them.  Was this the right decision?  It may matter little in first grade but what about when the child gets to 10th grade?

The science of gender identity is in its infancy.  We know what gender identity is, but little about how it is formed.  Does the child require treatment? or accommodation?

I find it interesting that the child is one of 3 dizygotic triplets,  his brother appears to identify as male and his sister as female.  Which seems to throw a monkey wrench into the whole nature/nurture discussion.  What are your thoughts?  


Monday, June 24, 2013

The Senate Gangsters

I don't know why I'm wasting ink on the Immigration Kabuki, but here goes...

Immigration reform is Dead once it reaches the House of Representatives, and it deserves to die. As usual, the sturm und drang generates heat and light, but does nothing to advance the debate. We do need enhanced border security, but it must be part of a larger, comprehensive effort. I also believe it behooves us to deal humanely with the illegal immigrants who are here.

What the Senate is doing solves nothing. If passed, Senator Schumer and Las Racistas will immediately go to work challenging the "draconican" provisions of the bill as racist and unfair, resulting in citizenship for the 12,000,000 undocumented Democrat voters in time for the 2014 midterm election.

As Micky Kaus points out, "Border Security" is nothing but a fig leaf:
Of course all these discussions are Kabuki on the head of a pin on stilts, because the Gang of 8 bill immediately gives illegals formal, renewable legal status. Once that happens, Democrats can freely begin lobbying to undermine whatever long-term border security measures the bill “requires” (as happened after the 1986 reform, and the 2006 “Secure Fence Act”).
Here is what we need:

1) Stop raiding meat packing plants and rounding up mothers and fathers who are here illegally. Despite all the other problems, it is bad optics. The Obama administration, to it's credit, has largely stopped such raids.

2) Greatly increase government audits of business payrolls. The Obama administration, again to its credit, has done this, but this needs to be the #1 enforcement measure. If we find illegal workers on the payroll, fine the crap out of the business and close down repeat offenders.

3) Implement a worker e-verify system. I had to present a passport when I reported for my first civilian job. Naysayers talk about how there are problems with the system, false negatives, bla bla bla. Well, fix them! Think of how few errors happen in our electronic banking and credit card system. Maybe the gubmint could outsource it to Visa or Mastercard.

4) Require a citizenship/legal residency test for all government services and assistance programs. I do not believe people come here just for our social services, but restricting such services to those here legally would remove another incentive to stay.

5) Offer visas, not citizenship. Less that half of the people offered citizenship in the Reagan amnesty availed themselves of it. Most were content to merely have the right to own property, work and travel freely. Today's cohort is no different.

Illegal immigration is a human rights violation and it is a stain upon our nation. We need to bring these people out of the shadows and treat them with dignity, regardless of how they got here. We can do that without creating 12 to 20 million new Democrat party voters.

And regardless of what the flavor of the day politician says, these immigrants are not "natural conservatives," or a "natural GOP constituency." Any talk otherwise is political bs. Many are poor, marginalized and they need help. The GOP is incapable of providing it, so of course they will flock to the Democrats, who have no problem being generous with other peoples' money.

This senate bill being shoved down our throats by the 8 Gansters in the Senate cheapens American citizenship and does nothing to squelch the siren song that attracts cheap labor to the craven un-capitalistic, un-free market businesses who abuse these immigrants.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Right Message?

The Wrong Move

The AP recently quoted Hilary telling a Canadian audience that she hoped we would elect a woman president: "I hope that we will see a woman elected because I think it would send exactly the right historic signal to girls, women as well as boys and men. And I will certainly vote for the right woman to be president".   It might send the "right" message, but sending a message shouldn't be the criteria for electing a president. 

We need to move beyond Hollywood and Madison Avenue politics and get back to basics, deciding our candidates on platform and qualifications, not looks and messages.  The presidency can't be about the color of skin or the sex of the candidate.  Frankly I'll take the ugly, gruff, qualified asshole over the schmoozing pretty face poster boy (or girl) every time.

Saturday, June 22, 2013



From their debut album Black Sabbath in 1970, the band has been credited as one of the ground-breaking and most influential Heavy Metal bands of all time.  Their first single release is one of the classics of the genre.

Ranked as the #1 Heavy Metal song of all time (by VH1) the song Iron Man originally receive little radio airplay but went on to become a metal cult classic.

After forty three years at it, on and off, they have finally achieved number on on both the US and UK charts with their new 'reunion' album "13"The album, released on 10 June, hit #1 on the charts in both countries in its first week.  13 became the bands first #1 album in the United States,  and the first in the UK in 43 years.  The single from the album, "God is Dead" was released earlier on April 18th of this year.


Friday, June 21, 2013


1:04 AM Eastern Time Today

Marks the first day of summer for 2013.

That got me reminiscing about summers past, the long hot sweltering summers back east,  the Jersey Shore,  monsoons in Korea, and a visit to Stonehenge back in the summer of 98.  Summer here in the mountains is hardly noticeable, I don't even have, nor do I need air conditioning... down in the city maybe, but not up here.  

My visit to Stonehenge was in June, not quite the solstice... it was cold, grey, damp and drizzly.  I remember my first sight of it... I was underwhelmed.  While undoubtedly a great feat of engineering for the time,  it was much smaller than I had expected.  Honestly, I was more impressed by Salisbury Cathedral nearby than I was by Stonehenge and I'm a big Celtic history buff.

Summer Traditions 

Every summer we pick a drink to serve throughout the season,  one year was Mojitos, another was Mint Juleps, the Cucumber Gin Coolers were an interesting diversion last year.  Of course it's grilling and barbequing season, the steaks and roasts and smoker come out.  We'll grill anything meat or vegetable,  and the evening air is usually filled aromatic, mouthwatering smoke.  We used to go camping before we moved up into the mountains,  now we just sit on the deck and enjoy the evening until the chill sets in.  That got me thinking about fire pits and outdoor fireplaces.  I was reading an article about the solstice and stumbled across this one, which I guess technically is a fire bowl:


So, What are you going to do now that summer's here?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You've got to be kidding?

Flight 800

Former investigators of the TWA Flight 800 crash off Long Island are calling on the National Transportation Safety Board to re-examine the case.The retired investigators claim that findings were "falsified."  ~ USA Today

Six investigators who were part of the NTSB investigation team now claim that they were silenced by their superiors. ~ Atlantic

If a conspiracy, why?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What the hell is wrong with people?


Waldo Canyon Fire

Last year during the Waldo Canyon Fire Shane Garrett and Belinda Wells-Yates were caught burglarizing homes in the fire evacuation zone.  This past February they were convicted of second-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary, theft, identity theft, and methamphetamine possession.  In the execution of Western justice, Gates was sentenced to 48 years and Wells-Yates to 72 years in prison.  One can only assume they had a rap sheet a mile long. ~ Denver CBS 4

Burglars in Black Forest

So far 502 homes have been destroyed, 18 partially damaged, and two people are dead.  With the fire 85% contained residents allowed to return to some areas have gotten home to find their houses intact, their possessions not so much.  In today's daily briefing the Sheriff's office reported that the official burglary count is now up to six and the number is growing as evacuations are lifted. ~ 9News

What the hell is wrong with people?

Sure, burglaries happen all the time, even in Black Forest... but it takes an exceptional kind of scum to victimize the victims of a natural disaster.  

What the hell is right with people?

The Flying W Ranch,  a commercial tourist venue that burned down in last years fire took in 45 horses and a variety of other animals from evacuees.  Overall community support has been overwhelming with donations to both the firefighters and evacuees.  Colorado Care and Share had to appeal to people to stop donating water and Gatorade.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You Have Been Biometricized

The Wonderful World of Disney

A software engineer visited Disneyland, and went on a ride, the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. ~

Got a Driver's License?

The faces of more than 120 million people are in searchable photo databases that state officials assembled to prevent driver’s-license fraud but that increasingly are used by police to identify suspects, accomplices and even innocent bystanders in a wide range of criminal investigations.

Thirty-seven states now use ­facial-recognition technology in their driver’s-license registries, a Washington Post review found. At least 26 of those allow state, local or federal law enforcement agencies to search — or request searches — of photo databases in an attempt to learn the identities of people considered relevant to investigations. ~ Washington Post

Wait until we all have these:

Photo: Loic Le Meur
Google will not allow apps that implement facial recognition on its Google Glass product, the company says, citing privacy concerns.

Developers have pointed out though that it is possible to load apps - which Google calls "Glassware" - onto the wearable system without needing Google's permission. Those could then communicate with any of a growing number of services which say they can connect a name with a face once given a photo. ~ The Guardian

A Two Edged Sword

We will soon be immersed in a world in which we are scanned, cataloged, filed, and searched.  This technology will be both a boon and a bane to most of us.  As illustrated by the recent NSA scandal,  existing law for the most part does not adequately address this new technology.  It is highly doubtful that the people who ensured postal mail would be private would have readily acquiesced to digital mail not being so.  Yet consider the Boston Marathon bombing if there were three hundred people wearing glasses that were recording and streaming live video feeds of the event.  What do you think?  Would you want your "Google Glasses" to identify people on the street, along with businesses, directions and landmarks?   

Monday, June 17, 2013

Only Off by Thirty Years

“Nobody is listening to your phone calls.”

President Obama said it in his first comment about the NSA scandal, and it’s been echoed by members of Congress and law enforcement agency officials for days.  MSNBC

Unless we're listening to your phone calls...

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."   

If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," C/NET


“I think people have gotten the idea that there’s an Orwellian state out there that somehow we’re operating in. That’s far from the case,” ~ Janet Napolitano

Have you ever read Orwell, Ms. Napolitano?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Flag Day

The story goes that this was done by a developer in a dispute with his homeowners association...  I don't know if it's true or not, but I kind of like it.  Since Flag Day was this past Friday,  here is a musical tribute to Old Glory.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Black Forest

For the curious...

A little history and geography of the Black Forest that is burning in Colorado:

In the middle of the video is the intersection of Black Forest and Shoup roads,  this is the origin point of the current fire.  Below is video from the air on Tuesday June 11th from 7 News Denver:

In keeping with Saturday's typical musical theme,  a piece by Horst Jankowski "Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt" or "A Walk in the Black Forest" from 1965.  Not the typical musical fare you will find here though.

Friday, June 14, 2013


The Denver Channel


Almost a year from the date of the Waldo Canyon fire, Colorado is burning again.  The Black Forest fire has burned about 16000 acres and some 360 homes and is only 5% contained.  Close to 40,000 people have been evacuated from northern Colorado Springs and Black Forest in an area of about 64 square miles. 

Rich Harvey, who was the incident commander during the Waldo Canyon fire has returned and taken over as the Black Forest fire incident commander.

The 302nd Airlift Wing is based here in Colorado Springs is home to the Modular Airborne Firefighting System equipped C-130s which was activated in record time and is busy defending its home turf.

As well as civilian firefighting forces, that's a DC-10 below

Yesterday you could smell the smoke from my house, some 20 miles away from the fire. It's only June,  we're in extreme to exceptional drought conditions, and it looks like it may turn into a long hot summer.

But to end on a lighter note... yes, that's a baby deer in his arms.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Anonymity Chic

Your Search - - Did Not Match Any Documents

Stuart Jeffries has an interesting article over at The Guardian about internet anonymity being the new chic!

Who among us hasn't Googled themselves? 

Is it possible to be "Ungoogleable"? "Googleproof"?

It may not be the best marketing plan... 

but go ahead and try to find the band "!!!" online

Is it even desirable to be unsearchable online?

No tweeting, no Facebook, no digital persona.  

I have a Facebook account and very little interest in it, I find the vast majority of posts inane, people I have little interest in talking to want to chat,  and no,  I don't care what your dinner looked like either.

I never have and probably never shall "Tweet"

Outside of business,  I'm the guy who doesn't want to be called on his cell phone unless somebody died or my house is on fire, and if it's business, it damn well better be important enough to bother me about!  Quite often it's turned off.  Honestly,  I love it for checking work email but I really never want to hear it ring.  It's a convenience,  like a payphone I don't have to stop the car for, except it's better.... I can listen to music on it! But only when I want to, I often drive with the radio off.  When my wife leaves the house the first thing I do is turn off any multimedia that is currently on,  and there is always something on.

The NSA must find me an enigma and I'm sure there is a big fat file somewhere full of numbers I never call and never receive calls from.  A vast repository of all my unused minutes documented in minute detail, of unopened and unanswered emails and texts from a multitude of sources all wrapped up in a big black folder with a red question mark on it, and of course a thick sheaf of Western Hero posts ;)



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Tree of Liberty...


A class action lawsuit will be filed today against AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk, Skype, Yahoo!, YouTube, and Obama administration officials.

The lawsuit will challenge the legality of Defendants' participation and conduct in a secret and illegal government scheme to intercept and analyze vast quantities of domestic telephone communications. The lawsuit will name President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, NSA director Keith Alexander and federal judge Roger Vinson, the FISA court judge who approved the April order.

Thought of the Day:

"Many free countries have lost their liberty, and ours may lose hers; but if she shall, be it my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her. I know that the great volcano at Washington, aroused and directed by the evil spirit that reigns there, is belching forth the lava of political corruption in a current broad and deep, which is sweeping with frightful velocity over the whole length and breadth of the land, bidding fair to leave unscathed no green spot or living thing; while on its bosom are riding, like demons on the waves of hell, the imps of that evil spirit, and fiendishly taunting all those who dare resist its destroying course with the hopelessness of their effort; and, knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be swept away. Broken by it I, too, may be; bow to it I never will.  ~ Abraham Lincoln 1839

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Paranoid Musings

I'm not a big believer in conspiracy theories, and I've never been given to paranoia. But if I were, here are some thoughts I'd be thinking.

Remember the Maine
We had better knock off the criticism of the National Security Industrial Complex.  If it becomes endangered by overwhelming populist anger, it will have no choice but to scare us back in line with another 9/11, or worse, a fabricated pretext to another war, this time in Syria or Iran.

An Inside Job
What if President Obama is in cahoots with the Wikileaks-Anonymous-OWS-George Soros-One World Cabal?  What if he wants, indeed caused, this big PRISM leak to happen in order to outrage us so we demand government dismantle our intelligence apparatus and hobble our national security?

Google is Spying on You
If you think MICROSOFTYAHOOGOOGLEYOUTUBEFACEBOOKSKYPEAPPLE... are innocent in all of this, you should just stop reading now and plug back into the pop culture 24/7 soma machine.  I heartily encourage everyone to feed as much false information to these government-extensions as legally possible.

Part of the Plan
Scandals like selling weapons to Mexican drug lords and using the IRS to punish Obama's enemies almost seem like part of an intentional campaign to inoculate us against further scandal, inure us to government malfeasance, and disgust us into turning our heads and washing our hands of the whole thing, thus leaving the batwinged government gargoyles and flying federal monkeys free to get on with their dirty business, unencumbered by organizations of concerned citizens.

Part of the Plan, Pt 2

Cloud computing is a trap, and it makes it easy for the government-corporate monster to spy on you.

... And this comes from someone who wants our nation to have strong and stealthy spy agencies that get so far up an enemy's ass that they can count the polyps on his colon. 

...  And save us such banalities as "Bush did it too!" or "The Republiscums are just as bad!"  We know that already.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Edward Snowden: Criminal or Hero?

"The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."  -- Edward Snowden
Bradley Manning is not a hero
He is a criminal who released classified information his country entrusted to him.  Don't think so?  What if his crimes resulted in soldiers dying?  What if he had endangered a humanitarian operation, resulting in the deaths of poor women enslaved by the international sex trade?  What if he had released information tipping off rightwing hate groups?  Would he still be a hero?  Didn't think so.

The Press are not Criminals
The Fox News reporter, the Guardian, the New York Times, and any other press outlet that repeats classified information provided to them is not a criminal.  We must make this distinction if we are to keep sacrosanct our freedom of the press, no matter how lap doggish they act sometimes.

The burden of protection falls upon the government and the employees it entrusts to carry out its business.  So punish harshly those who divulge government secrets, but leave the press alone.

A Government Leaker is a Criminal
A person with a security clearance who provides classified information to the press or anyone else not authorized to receive it is a criminal.  This can be justified even upon libertarian grounds:  The information is the property of the US government, whose activities are determined and monitored by elected officials.

Edward Snowden is a...
Now to the case of Edward Snowden, the Booze Allen contractor working for the NSA who released the details of the NSA's domestic spying.  He starts with a dark premise, but still not enough to justify what he did, in my opinion:
"The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to," he said. (Guardian)
This quote from his interview is what stopped me in my tracks:
"...the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."  -- Edward Snowden
If true, that is damning.

I take it as given that any whistleblower hotline the government has set up doesn't fit the bill for something like this.  His only recourse then is to go to someone in congress briefed on NSA activities, and the logistics of that is not easy.  You can't just go off by yourselves and discuss stuff like this.  Discussions can only be held in specially designated facilities.

What if Snowden is telling the truth?
It is conceivable that the NSA is lying to congress, and congress has no way to check their veracity.  If so, the Congressional check and balance safeguard is raped and plundered.  Where do we go now?

So, other than keeping his mouth shut, what other alternative did he have? 

Instead of running to the press, he could have gone to Senator Wyden and caused an internal, classified stink, gotten himself and some other like-minded individuals whistleblower status so they could spill their guts in a classified environment to senators and congressmen on the Intelligence Oversight Committee.

He may have lost his job as a result, but he would not be on the run.

What say you? 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Welcome to the Puzzle Palace

NSA is so far up our asses they can count our tonsils


Verizon, ATT, Sprint, Nextel

Google, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype

The Wall Street Journal reported today that U.S. credit card companies had also provided customer information.

So,  who else is extremely pissed?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Friday, June 7, 2013

It's for your own good!


The National Security Agency has been collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top secret court order granted by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  Under the terms of the order, the phone numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as are location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The FISA court order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, compelled Verizon to provide the NSA with electronic copies of "all call detail records or telephony metadata created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad" or "wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls"  

But It's For Your Own Good

"Information of the sort described in the Guardian article has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it allows counter-terrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States," ~ said "a senior administration official"

The Senate Intelligence Committee

We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act.  As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says. Senators Ron Wyden & Mark Udall

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."  - Patrick Henry

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Open Wide

Maryland v. King

When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

Kennedy, Roberts, Thomas, Breyer, & Alito

The Dissent

The Fourth Amendment forbids searching a person for evidence of a crime when there is no basis for believing the person is guilty of the crime or is in possession of incriminating evidence. That prohibition is categorical and without exception; it lies at the very heart of the Fourth Amendment. Whenever this Court has allowed a suspicion-less search, it has insisted upon a justifying motive apart from the investigation of crime.  It is obvious that no such non-investigative motive exists in this case. The Court’s assertion that DNA is being taken, not to solve crimes, but to identify those in the State’s custody, taxes the credulity of the credulous. 

The Court alludes at several points to the fact that King was an arrestee, and arrestees may be validly searched incident to their arrest. But the Court does not really rest on this principle, and for good reason: The objects of a search incident to arrest must be either (1) weapons or evidence that might easily be destroyed, or (2) evidence relevant to the crime of arrest. Neither is the object of the search at issue here.  

The Court hastens to clarify that it does not mean to approve invasive surgery on arrestees or warrantless searches of their homes. That the Court feels the need to disclaim these consequences is as damning a criticism of its suspicion-less search regime as any I can muster.

Today’s judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes; then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane (surely the Transportation Security Administration needs to know the “identity” of the flying public), applies for a driver’s license, or attends a public school. Perhaps the construction of such a genetic panopticon is wise. But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.

I therefore dissent, and hope that today’s incursion upon the Fourth Amendment, like an earlier one, will some day
be repudiated. ~Antonin Scalia

Scalia, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kagan

Well worth reading

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


" nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself "


So the question is:

If a judge orders you to decrypt the only existing copies of incriminating files, are your constitutional rights against compelled self-incrimination being violated?

This is the case pending before a Wisconsin court in which a Federal Judge has ordered the defendant to decrypt the drives by today or face jail on contempt of court charges.

Another case here in Colorado involving mortgage fraud was rendered moot when a co-defendant supplied the prosecution with the password,  so a formal ruling was never issued.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch

There is also no such thing as a Free Market

A free market is a market structure in which the distribution and costs of goods and services, along with the structure and hierarchy between capital and consumer goods, are coordinated by supply and demand unhindered by external regulation or control by government or monopolies.

For those advocating for or against free market economies, my former challenge remains unanswered:


Free Markets?

The common myth is that today’s rich countries got rich through free-market, free-trade policies while today’s poor countries are poor because they have not used such policies.

However, starting from 18th-century Britain, through to 19th-century US, Germany, and Sweden, to late 20th-century France, Norway, Finland, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, most of today’s rich countries have not become rich through free-market, free-trade policies. They used trade protectionism, subsidies, regulation on foreign investment, and other policy measures that are intended to protect and nurture their ‘infant industries’ against superior foreign competitors from abroad. Having practiced free trade most of the time, the Netherlands and Switzerland are partial exceptions to this, but even they do not fit today’s orthodoxy, as these countries refused to protect patents until the early 20th century.  WFR-Chang

It's a talking point

It is convenient for those on the left to point to the free market as a cause of our failures just as it is convenient for those on the right to point to it as a cause of our success.  Neither honestly believe it and those that do are undoubtedly unqualified to govern.  

The left likes to point to deregulation as the cause of our problems, the right likes to point to regulation as the cause, neither is correct.  The problem is misregulation influenced by business, labor, and social interests on both sides and until we realize that we will continue to get screwed.


Monday, June 3, 2013

LA Police Standoff at Robotoki

LA Police in standoff with Simon "Ghost" Riley

Late last night the offices of Los Angeles based independent game studio Robotoki were stormed by the Los Angeles Police Department after a curious designer pressed the building's "panic" button.  The 911 response ended in a tense showdown with a life-sized statue of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's Simon "Ghost" Riley, which the police mistook for a gunman.

When Questioned Mr. Riley had no comment

You just knew this was going to happen sooner or later.  Fortunately everything turned out okay and no one was hurt, except for perhaps their pride.  So who thought putting this next to the window was a good idea?  

You can read the whole article here

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Is this the Change that you Hoped for?

Wealth of Most Americans down 55%

So reports CBS News Money Watch despite the fact that the Fed  calculated Americans as a whole had regained 91 percent of their losses based on aggregate household-net-worth data.

Two-thirds of the increase in aggregate household wealth is due to rising stock prices. This has disproportionately benefited the richest households: About 80 percent of stocks are held by the wealthiest 10 percent of the population.

The False Recovery 

Many economists point to the increased savings rate (4.8%) as a good economic indicator,  the Harvard Business Review presents a different opinion. that it’s not reflecting an imminent recovery but rather a drawn-out malaise that will soon become something like a lost decade.

The reality is, households are using their savings to pay off the massive amounts of debt they accumulated even before their net worth declined... The money is not going under mattresses or into bank accounts, from where it will emerge one day to jump-start the economy. It’s actually subsidizing the previous boom, which was built on debt and the presumption that assets would always cover that debt.

'Real' Jobless Rate Still Above 10% 

Though employment has risen by 1.3 million over the past year, unemployment that counts the discouraged and underemployed, as well as the jobless (often called the "real" unemployment rate) has remained stubbornly high, at 13.8 percent of the workforce, according to the most recent count. 

"The fact is that the U.S. economy isn't growing fast enough to significantly increase the revenue to the government, but our debt is still soaring," 

Saturday, June 1, 2013


That 70's Music

Sirius XM recently started a channel featuring music of the era of Studio 54.  Disco has been struggling to revive for some time now, so here are some of the highlights.

I mainly listened to rock and roll growing up, but can remember taking the trolley out to one of these with my friends:

Which apparently, are also making a comeback