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Mar 29, 2016

Hillary Got Hacked! Can She Be Blackmailed?

I've worked in IT for almost 45 years.  I have spent the last 3 years working on security.  Hillary's email server was protected by out of date commercial security with known holes, based on what I've read.  Any foreign intelligence service with reasonably good hackers could get in, copy everything and get out without a trace.  For part of the time, a subcontractor was backing up Hillary's server to the cloud.  The possibility that Hillary was using the server as part of a pay to play scheme involving the Clinton Foundation only makes it much worse.  At that point Hillary can be blackmailed with information stolen from the server. 

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Mar 28, 2016

In Defense of Snooping

Everybody knows the ultra-secretive NSA was snooping.  The program was called Stellarwind.  The snooping of Stellarwind has always been falsely described as listening in.  In fact it was more like reading the addresses and return addresses on envelopes, something which was routinely done without a warrant back in the days of snail mail.  The NSA tracked what phone originated each call and what phone was dialed, and that's all.  No phone conversations were listened to without a warrant, at least under Stellarwind.  Based on who called who, Stellarwind constructed a pattern of groups of people who were in contact with each other.  Whether that was a big enough threat to privacy for it to be cancelled is a question for the reader.  My personal opinion is that it's a very close call.  I would feel better about allowing the NSA to do it if Lois Lerner had not deployed IRS powers against President Obama's political enemies.  I still think it's probably worth doing despite the risk of abuse. 
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Mar 15, 2016

FCC Emails Show Need For Regulatory Reforms

Recently emails from the Federal Communications Commission discussionhave been released as a result of a freedom of informatio suit.  They show that the FCC changed direction completely after receiving White House instructions.  This incident,  and others like it during Obama's term in office, should force the reevaluation of the entire regulatory structure.  It's clear that as part of the executive branch regulatory agencies will follow presidential orders.  Regulatory agencies have executive, legislative and judicial functions all concentrated in one agency without any separation of powers. The courts are not much of a check on regulators because, by law, courts must defer to the regulators' expertise.  The situation is almost an attractive nuisance for executive branch abuse of power. Even presidents disinclined to misusing regulatory agencies will be tempted by how easy it is to do.

Congress has delegated too much of it's power to regulatory agencies.  It needs to take a lot of it back.  I think it should start by requiring all proposed regulations to get an up or down vote in Congress and be signed by the president.  Also, there should be an automatic expiration date on regulations and regulatory agency authorization laws.  We should not be regulating the internet like it was an 1887 railroad.

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Republicans Lead With New Ethnic Group

While some think Republicans come only in white, I think this year Republicans are a rainbow with two Hispanics in the running for president along with a member of a totally new ethnic group, the Orange.  There were coments that Donald Trump's makeup for the most recent debate made him look less orange than usual.  The Donald was trying to pass, but as the comment indicates, Trump was not able to hide his Orange identity. Besides, anybody as up to date as liberals should know Orange is the new Black.

Mar 13, 2016

Consent of the Governed or a Political Supreme Court?

The conservative method of interpreting the Constitution rests on the foundation of consent of the governed. From that principle, we reason that the Constitution should be understood to mean what it meant when it was adopted, because that's what the governed consented to. In contrast, “living Constitution” liberals believe the Constitution changes based on what people believe is a reasonable interpretation today, without regard to what the people who wrote it understood it to mean. “Living Constitution” is how the 14th Amendment, passed in 1868 when homosexual acts were illegal in every state, is interpreted to require same sex marriage in every state under the Equal Protection clause. Whether you like the outcome or not, how “living Constitution” Justices got there is ridiculous. It was also totally unnecessary. The full faith and credit clause could have been interpreted to mean that a marriage performed in one state has to be recognized in all states. This would have left marriage a state matter, and the 14th Amendment applying to race, as the Republicans who wrote it intended. In 1868, the 14th Amendment was adopted to limit how badly state courts could treat freed black slaves.

Conservatives think Constitutional changes should be made by amendment. Conservatives think changes in the law should be made by legislatures and signed by governors or the President. That's how the governed give their consent. Liberals think that takes too long, so they expect the Supreme Court to find some way to make the law or the Constitution say what they want it to say. Conservatives believe, like Justice Scalia did, that a judge is supposed to rule on what the law is, rather than what the judge would like the law to be. The Supreme Court should not be a place where startling new interpretations are "discovered" in laws that are over a century old. This article is correct that the Supreme Court is supremely political. However, it would be far less political than it is if the Court respected the principle of consent of the governed.

Mar 8, 2016

How Students Can Beat Safe Spacers and BDS Bigots

The Melissa Click incident reminds me of a 1985 incident at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.   I want to tell you this story because conservative students used radical tactics to get even with a Maxist professor who incited a riot to prevent a speech.    I think conservative students today could use the same tactics to make an entire campus into an unsafe space which would require a trigger warning at every entrance. It's also a fairly good answer for the BDS crowd at Columbia, who are concealing antisemitism behind a very thin veil of pro-Palestinian rhetoric.  The pattern of all these groups is hostility to any speech they disagree with.  You have to fight back to preserve free speech from the strong arm methods these groups use with tacit support from campus authorities.

I had graduated years before, but some of my friends at Northwestern were members of a conservative students group.   In 1985, they invited Nicaraguan Contra leader Adolfo Calero to speak on campus.   (The Contras were a guerrilla resistance fighting the communist government of Nicaragua.)  I warned them to be ready for trouble because in my undergraduate days I remembered that the South Vietnamese ambassador was physically thrown off the stage at the University of Illinois, Champaign.   My student friends said things had changed.   They hadn't.

Marxist English Professor Barbara Foley organized a riot to prevent Calero from speaking.   She seized the podium and announced that Calero had no right to speak there.   Somebody threw red liquid on the suits of Calero and the local Cuban and Central American emigre businessmen who had organized Calero's Chicago visit.   The mob was physically threatening.   The conservative students had one car which they had driven to the curb nearest the building to manage Calero's escape from the mob.   However, they didn't have room for everybody.  They asked me if I could take one Nicaraguan doctor, who clearly didn't like my full beard and USAF raincoat.   (He'd never met me, and didn't know I was a Vietnam Era USAF veteran.)  My car was two blocks away.   I told him we would walk away slowly and not look back.   The mob chased the car with Calero and never even looked at us.

We got even later.   Someone privately funded over a thousand cheap bumper stickers that said "Fire Foley! Expel Red Rioters." These were plastered all over campus, and they were not the easy to remove kind of bumper stickers.   Foley was denied tenure and got fired.   The campus newspaper headline read "Red Rioter Fired."  We used protester tactics against the protesters, and it worked.
The same guerrilla tactics can work today to stop politically correct campus mobs incited by radical professors.  It’s time to take advantage of the student radicals’ weaknesses, which they have carefully pointed out to us.  They can’t stand exposure to opposing arguments.   Bumper stickers are cheap and can be furtively stuck on light poles, utility boxes and bathroom stalls very quickly.  It only takes a few students and a thousand bumper stickers to have a very visible impact all across an entire campus.  You can make campus an “unsafe space” by plastering it with conservative slogans.  It’s not like leftist groups haven’t been plastering the campus for years with their slogans.  Use their tactics against them.  How about “Free Speech Means No Safe Spaces” for the bumper stickers.  Make sure they are bright red or day glow orange, so they really can’t be missed.

What the bumper stickers did, and could do again, was to give the college administration a vision of opposition from the conservative side that might escalate. Today, you might consider it a reverse broken windows policing strategy. We were breaking the rules in a minor way by plastering bumper stickers everywhere they weren't supposed to be. But the question that the NU provost had to ponder was how far were conservative students willing to go. If there's only one side, campus authorities have an easy choice. They appease the loud left wing protesters. But if there are two sides, campus authorities have to think about it a little harder. The fair minded ones can make a better argument that inciting a riot is not a way to exercise academic freedom if there's a risk both sides will escalate.  Politics ain't beanbag, and everybody knows it. 

Here are some links to how Foley's friends saw it.

Mar 1, 2016

Free Speech Don't Get No Respect

Fact is that free speech is not as respected as it used to be by most people. In September of 2014, 43 Senate Democrats voted for a Constitutional Amendment that would have allowed Congress to regulate campaign spending by all corporations except licensed news companies. This would have allowed a federal commission to say the employees of the New York Times are journalists, while the employees of Citizens United are not.

On college campuses, discussions must avoid trigger words, micro aggression and politically incorrect topics. Professors are reliving the terror periods of the French and Russian Revolutions. They can be denounced by any student and fired as a result. Not quite the guillotine or a firing squad, but certainly not free speech either.

And now we have Trump trying to use loosened libel laws to reach the same ends. It's hard enough to fight this manure from the left. Why would anyone on the right buy this BS? Trump's big talent is mouthing off to the press. This is his world class way of setting himself apart from other Republican presidential candidates. Given how poorly the Republicans have defended their ideas, it's a welcome relief from the usual mumbling against outright lies from the Pravda Press. But this only works if it's a fair fight, Trump versus the media. Using the government to punish your enemies is an Obama thing. Using the government to suppress the press is a Putin thing. I really don't want to leave my 6 grandchildren an America without free speech. I will fight both people on the left and people on the right who are trying to limit free speech for temporary personal advantage.

Trump Gets Our Anger, But That's All He's Got

In general, the governing elites in DC have run rough shod over the majority of the country who don't belong to a federally protected class. They have even run rough shod over some protected classes, like old white guys and Vietnam Era veterans. (I'm both). Republicans have been unable to make their case because they are unable to take a hit from the Pravda Press and keep on coming. Trump's one claim to fame is that he dictates his agenda to the liberal media. The media does not dictate their agenda to him.

That said, what we needed was a second Ronald Reagan. What we got instead is an aging confidence trickster who's one talent was in great demand, but who has no other abilities.

I understand, and feel myself, that, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" feeling. For example, I was very disappointed that Republicans did not connect the government shutdown with the disastrous roll out of Obamacare. The Republicans shut down the government to get a one year delay in the implementation of Obamacare. The "I told you so" moment should have been used to pummel the president. Nobody had the guts to even try. That failure to even make an argument locked us into the weakest position possible on budget negotiations.

I would vote for Trump as an independent political hatchet man in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, he's running for president. Obama has set precedents of ignoring the Constitution wherever and whenever possible. This is not the time for another egotistical president with uncontrollable urges to retaliate against his enemies with no regard for the law. Obama has placed the Constitution in the Intensive Care Unit in just 7 reckless years. Two such presidents in a row will kill the Constitution.