Monday, February 29, 2016

Game Players, April 1995

Game Players, April 1995

Friday, February 26, 2016

RNC Rules to Stifle Ron Paul in 2012 Could Come Back to Bite in 2016

RNC Rules to Stifle Ron Paul in 2012 Could Come Back to Bite in 2016

The Republican National Committee, or RNC, may use the tactics it used to stifle Ron Paul in 2012 to handle a possible floor fight over Donald Trump.

The first order of business at the Republican Convention this coming June will be to ratify new rules. What this means is that the rules the RNC agreed on after the Convention in 2012 will expire as soon as the gavel drops to open the new meeting.

Now, usually this is mainly procedural – the party affirming the parts of the Convention rules that are still applicable, maybe changing around some things for the benefit of also-rans or the standard bearer.

However, in recent years there’s been a push to use the rule changes to undercut the party’s more extreme, populist and anti-government wings.

In 2012 there was a very real chance that Ron Paul’s supporters would upend the entire Convention by forcing a fight over their candidate. Rick Ungar has a good breakdown of what happened, but here’s a quick play-by-play of the situation.

Paul’s supporters were going to use pluralities in five states to force Paul’s name onto the ballot through Rule 40 (B). The rule specified that that be the threshold for placing a candidate’s name on the ballot.

In other words, 40 (B) said that any candidate with the largest share of delegates in five states could be placed on the ballot for nomination. If Paul, for example, had 30 percent but no one had higher, he would have a plurality.

As a way to stop the insurgency against Romney and ensure his victory, the RNC changed the rule to a majority of delegates in eight states. Now a candidate needed to win at least 50.1 % of delegates from eight states to be on the ballot. And that’s still the way it is, and the way it will be until the 2016 Convention.

Under these current rules, there’s no way of determining a clear delegate winner until Super Tuesday, at least. By switching from plurality to majority, it makes New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina relatively meaningless. All three states will see a roster of candidates over ten deep. Getting a majority of those delegates is near impossible by primary voting.

The problem for the RNC only gets worse when you consider the threat of Donald Trump’s poll numbers.

Apple’s Involuntary Servitude

Apple’s Involuntary Servitude

After the San Bernardino massacre on Dec. 2, 2015, the FBI lawfully acquired the cellphone of one of the killers and persuaded a federal judge to authorize its agents to access the contents of the phone. Some of what it found revealed that the killer used the phone to communicate with victims and perhaps confederates and even innocents who unwittingly provided material assistance.

Then the FBI hit a wall. It appears that the killer took advantage of the phone’s encryption features to protect some of his data from prying eyes unarmed with his password.

The cellphone was an iPhone, designed and manufactured by Apple, the wealthiest publicly traded corporation on the planet. Apple built the iPhone so that its users can store sensitive, private, personal data on the phone without fear of being hacked by friend or foe.

After the FBI determined it could not replicate the killer’s password without jeopardizing the phone’s content, it approached Apple, and representatives of each negotiated for weeks trying to find a way for Apple to help the FBI without compromising the security of the Internet itself. They failed.

Apple has argued that the government has no legal right to compel it to assist in a government investigation, or to compel it to alter or destroy its business model of guaranteeing the safety and privacy of its customers’ data. Apple knows that any “key” it creates for the FBI, once used on the Internet, is itself vulnerable to hacking, thereby jeopardizing all Apple products and negating the privacy of tens of millions, and even exposing the government to foreign hackers.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has argued that Apple has a legal duty to help solve the mystery of who knew about the San Bernardino attacks so that the guilty can be prosecuted and the rest of us protected from future harm. Its lawyers asserted that the government would keep secure whatever key Apple created.

After the DOJ/Apple talks broke down, the DOJ made a secret application on Feb. 16, 2016, two and a half months after the massacre, to a federal judge for a search warrant for this key to access the killer’s iPhone.

The warrant was improperly granted because Apple was not given notice of the DOJ application. So, the judge who issued the order denied Apple due process—its day in court. That alone is sufficient to invalidate the order. Were Apple a defendant in a criminal case or were Apple to possess hard evidence that could exonerate or help to convict, the secret application would have been justified.

But that is not the case here.

Instead, the DOJ has obtained the most unique search warrant I have ever seen in 40 years of examining them. Here, the DOJ has persuaded a judge to issue a search warrant for A THING THAT DOES NOT EXIST, by forcing Apple to create a key that the FBI is incapable of creating.

There is no authority for the government to compel a nonparty to its case to do its work, against the nonparty’s will, and against profound constitutional values. Essentially, the DOJ wants Apple to hack into its own computer product, thereby telling anyone who can access the key how to do the same.

If the courts conscripted Apple to work for the government and thereby destroy or diminish its own product, the decision would constitute a form of slavery, which is prohibited by our values and by the Thirteenth Amendment.

Yet, somewhere, the government has the data it seeks but will not admit to it, lest a myth it has foisted upon us all be burst. Since at least 2009, the government’s domestic spies have captured the metadata—the time, place, telephone numbers and duration of all telephone calls—as well as the content of telephone calls made in America under a perverse interpretation of the FISA statute and the Patriot Act, which a federal appeals court has since invalidated.

The DOJ knows where this data on this killer’s cellphone can be found, but if it subpoenas the National Security Agency (NSA), and the NSA complies with that subpoena, and all this becomes public, that will put the lie to the government’s incredible denials that it spies upon all of us all the time. Surely it was spying on the San Bernardino killers.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

If We Can’t Trust Government, We Must Trust Technology

If We Can’t Trust Government, We Must Trust Technology

The showdown between Apple and the FBI is not, as many now claim, a conflict between privacy and security. It is a conflict about legitimacy.

America’s national security agencies insist on wielding unaccountable power coupled with “trust us, we’re the good guys”, but the majority of users have no such trust. Terrorism is real, and surveillance can sometimes help prevent it, but the only path to sustainable accommodation between technologies of secrecy and adequately informed policing is through a root-and-branch reform of the checks and balances in the national security system.

The most important principle that the Obama administration and Congress need to heed in this conflict is: “Physician, heal thyself.”

The FBI, to recap, is demanding that Apple develop software that would allow it to access the secure data on the work phone of one of the two perpetrators of the San Bernardino attack.

Apple has refused to do so, arguing that in order to build the ability to access this phone, it would effectively be creating a backdoor into all phones.

The debate is being publicly framed on both sides as a deep conflict between security and freedom; between the civil rights of users to maintain their privacy, and the legitimate needs of law enforcement and national security. Yet this is the wrong way to think about it.

The fundamental problem is the breakdown of trust in institutions and organizations. In particular, the loss of confidence in oversight of the American national security establishment.

It is important to remember that Apple’s initial decision to redesign its products so that even Apple cannot get at a user’s data was in direct response to the Snowden revelations. We learned from Snowden that the US national security system spent the years after 9/11 eviscerating the system of delegated oversight that had governed national security surveillance after Watergate and other whistleblower revelations exposed pervasive intelligence abuses in the 1960s and 70s.

Apple’s design of an operating system impervious even to its own efforts to crack it was a response to a global loss of trust in the institutions of surveillance oversight. It embodied an ethic that said: “You don’t have to trust us; you don’t have to trust the democratic oversight processes of our government. You simply have to have confidence in our math.”

This approach builds security in a fundamentally untrustworthy world.

Many people I know and admire are troubled by the present impasse. After all, what if you really do need information from a terrorist about to act, or a kidnapper holding a child hostage? These are real and legitimate concerns, but we will not solve them by looking in the wrong places. The FBI’s reliance on the All Writs Act from 1789 says: “I am the government and you MUST do as you are told!” How legitimate or illegitimate what the government does is irrelevant, so this logic goes, to the citizen’s duty to obey a legally issued order.

The problem with the FBI’s approach is that it betrays exactly the mentality that got us into the mess we are in. Without commitment by the federal government to be transparent and accountable under institutions that function effectively, users will escape to technology. If Apple is forced to cave, users will go elsewhere. American firms do not have a monopoly on math.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ron Paul Delivers a Reality Check to Americans on Government Snooping

Ron Paul Delivers a Reality Check to Americans on Government Snooping

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is in a feud with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Some advocate Apple’s stance; others oppose it. Former Congressman and Libertarian Ron Paul is very clear on which side he stands.

In a heated interview with Trish Regan of Fox News, Ron Paul made a very vocal argument in Apple’s support. Upon being asked if he was on the side of the tech companies, the former congressman said, “I think the tech companies right now are on the side of liberty. They’re on the side of the people who would like to have their encryption protected.” (Source: “Ron Paul Says Apple ‘on Side of Liberty’ in Phone Feud With FBI,” Fox News, February 18, 2016.)

In response to Regan’s repeated grilling, Ron Paul said, “More people should look at this like a second amendment. You know the second amendment is there to protect us against tyranny and against our government.”

As Paul reiterated, “The government doesn’t have the right to snoop on us constantly.”

Upon getting badgered for supporting Apple’s stand against the government, Ron Paul explained, “This is telling Apple they have to produce a program that deactivates something that they have built into the system for millions and millions of people that the people want and paid for. So this is different than a simple subpoena and a simple a search warrant.”

“They want the lock and the key to do this eternally on everybody.” Ron Paul reminded viewers, “The encryption is there to protect the people against illegal snooping and to honor the constitution.”

Bear in mind that Apple is resisting the FBI’s demands to hack into the San Bernandino shooter Syed Farook’s “iPhone.” According to Apple, the FBI is demanding a “key” to the iPhone’s encryption code that will open a backdoor channel. As a consequence, Apple users will face the risk of privacy invasion in the future.

Waking Up to the Reality of Fascism

Waking Up to the Reality of Fascism

Donald Trump is on a roll, breaking new ground in uses for state power.

Closing the internet? Sure. “We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people… We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some ways.”

Registering Muslims? Lots of people thought he misspoke. But he later clarified: “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems.”

Why not just bar all Muslims at the border? Indeed, and to the massive cheers of his supporters, Trump has called for the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Internment camps? Trump cites the FDR precedent: Italians, Germans, and Japanese “couldn’t go five miles from their homes. They weren’t allowed to use radios, flashlights. I mean, you know, take a look at what FDR did many years ago and he’s one of the most highly respected presidents.”

Rounding up millions of people? He’ll create a “deportation force” to hunt down and remove 11 million illegal immigrants.

Killing wives and children? That too. “When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.”

Political Vocabulary

This litany of ideas has finally prompted mainstream recognition of the incredibly obvious: If Donald Trump has an ideology, it is best described as fascism.

Even Republican commentators, worried that he might be unstoppable, are saying it now. Military historian and Marco Rubio adviser Max Boot tweeted that “Trump is a fascist. And that’s not a term I use loosely or often. But he’s earned it.” Bush adviser John Noonan said the same.

The mainstream press is more overt. CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Trump point blank if he is a fascist. The Atlantic writes: “It’s hard to remember a time when a supposedly mainstream candidate had no interest in differentiating ideas he’s endorsed from those of the Nazis.”

There is a feeling of shock in the air, but anyone paying attention should have seen this last summer. Why did it take so long for the consciousness to dawn?

The word fascism has been used too often in political discourse, and almost always imprecisely. It’s a bit like the boy who cried wolf. You warn about wolves so much that no one takes you seriously when a real one actually shows up.

Lefties since the late 1930s have tended to call non-leftists fascists — which has led to a discrediting of the word itself. As time went on, the word became nothing but a vacuous political insult. It’s what people say about someone with whom they disagree. It doesn’t mean much more than that.

Then in the 1990s came Godwin’s Law: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 100 percent.” This law provided a convenient way to dismiss all talk of fascism as Internet babblings deployed in the midst of flame wars.

Godwin’s Law made worse the perception that followed the end of World War II: that fascism was a temporary weird thing that afflicted a few countries but had been vanquished from the earth thanks to the Allied war victory. It would no longer be a real problem but rather a swear word with no real substance.

Fascism Is Real

Without the term fascism as an authentic descriptor, we have a problem. We have no accurate way to identify what is in fact the most politically successful movement of the 20th century. It is a movement that still exists today, because the conditions that gave rise to it are unchanged.

The whole burden of one of the most famous pro-freedom books of the century — Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom — was to warn that fascism was a more immediate and pressing danger to the developed world than Russian-style socialism. And this is for a reason: Hayek said that “brown” fascism did not represent a polar opposite of “red” socialism. In the interwar period, it was common to see both intellectuals and politicians move fluidly from one to the other.

“The rise of Fascism and Nazism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period,” wrote Hayek, “but a necessary outcome of those tendencies.”

In Hayek’s reading, the dynamic works like this. The socialists build the state machinery, but their plans fail. A crisis arrives. The population seeks answers. Politicians claiming to be anti-socialist step up with new authoritarian plans that purport to reverse the problem. Their populist appeal taps into the lowest political instincts (nativism, racism, religious bigotry, and so on) and promises a new order of things under better, more efficient rule.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

McConnell and Obama Both Wrong on Scalia Replacement

McConnell and Obama Both Wrong on Scalia Replacement

One of the dumber debates in recent history has broken out in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggestedthat President Obama shouldn’t nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia because Obama is in the last year of his final term.

Opponents, including the president himself, have responded that the Senate has a constitutional duty to bring Obama’s appointments to a vote and to confirm one, if qualified.

Both sides are completely wrong. The President has the legitimate authority to nominate a successor on every day of his presidency, up to and including the very last day. That precedent was set by no less than the second president of the United States. As Elizabeth Warren astutely observed,

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can’t find a clause that says “…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.

But neither can be found the words “shall bring to an up or down vote” or anything to the effect that the Senate is required to take action on the President’s nominees. The Constitution was deliberately constructed so that inaction would be the starting point in all matters. The reason for the separation of powers was to ensure that things didn’t get done efficiently within the federal government, because efficient government is a threat to liberty.

Democrats cite this latest controversy as another example of Congress deliberately “obstructing” the President, implying they are overriding the wishes of the people who elected him. We heard the same nonsense about the Democratic Congress during Reagan’s presidency. It doesn’t compute. The people who elected the president also elected the sitting Congress, in both cases.

That Congress can in any way “obstruct the president” is a horrible, fascist, un-American idea. It assumes the lives of hundreds of millions of people are to be ruled by the wishes of one person, with Congress merely a procedural rubber stamp to legitimize the emperor’s policies. This is autocratic thinking straight out of Hobbes’ Leviathan, which asserted an elected assembly could be tolerated as long as it conformed without exception with the wishes of the absolute monarch.

The American republic supposedly rejects this idea. The U.S. Constitution assumes Congress is the supreme power, vested with the “sovereign functions of legislation,” as Thomas Jefferson put it. The President is supposed to be a subordinate executor of its laws.

James Madison actually warned his countrymen in Federalist #48 that the chief danger to liberty resided in the legislative body, because “the executive magistracy is carefully limited.”

Feds Jail Radio Host, Sparking Free Speech Outcry

Feds Jail Radio Host, Sparking Free Speech Outcry

After arresting and charging radio host Pete Santilli with “conspiracy” in connection with his reporting on the occupation of the Oregon wildlife refuge, the federal government has sparked an outcry that is making headlines across America and even overseas. Indeed, the growing concerns over the free-speech implications have united critics ranging from the statist American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to the liberty-oriented Rutherford Institute. The biggest concern, activists and critics of the case say, is that the federal government is trampling on the rights to free speech and freedom of the press guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Critics of the prosecution also contend that the case is an ominous sign that the federal government is going off the rails.

Santilli, who hosts a popular talk-radio show on Talk Network News, reported live from the Bundy ranch amid the standoff with federal agents, and more recently, from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon occupied by protesters. Media reports noted that he was the first journalist to report on the fatal shooting by law enforcement of occupation spokesman and rancher LaVoy Finicum. Santilli was also among the numerous individuals at the occupation who were ultimately arrested in recent weeks. Like a dozen of the “occupiers,” Santilli was charged with “conspiracy” to “impede federal officers,” a vague and controversial Civil War-era charge that has been criticized — especially when applied to a radio host serving as an embedded journalist amid the protest against thepersecution of two local ranchers and the broader federal assault on liberty, property, and the Constitution.

When Santilli was asked about his role in relation to the occupation, he made clear that speech was at the center of it. “My role is the same here that it was at the Bundy ranch. To talk about the constitutional implications of what is going on here. The Constitution cannot be negotiated,” he was quoted as saying. “What we need, most importantly, is one hundred thousand unarmed men and women to stand together. It is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal…. I’m not armed. I am armed with my mouth. I’m armed with my live stream. I’m armed with a coalition of like-minded individuals who sit at home on YouTube and watch this.” The county sheriff even wrote a note thanking Santilli for going on air and urging spectators across the country to stop making threats.

A video of Santilli’s January 26 arrest that was posted to YouTube sparked alarm early on. The clip shows Santilli calmly and respectfully speaking with law enforcement officers while attempting to negotiate a peaceful exit of women and children from the occupied federal compound. “There are women and children there, we know this — quite a few,” Santilli says. “Please allow us to go up there and get them,” he tells the officers. One of the officers responds: “We appreciate the offer … give us a few minutes to discuss it.” Seemingly without provocation, the officers eventually grab the journalist and inform him that he is under arrest. Despite repeated questioning about the reason, no charge is offered, either to Santilli or to the cameraman who filmed the incident, though the existence of a federal warrant was the likely cause.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It’s Stupid That My Actor Dad Is The One Who Has To Teach Us Not To Be Dumb

It’s Stupid That My Actor Dad Is The One Who Has To Teach Us Not To Be Dumb

My father went to a Ted Cruz rally. My father also won an oscar in the 70s and his name is Richard Dreyfuss. Those two things are only related because by virtue of being famous, my father’s attendance at a Cruz rally got written about by a couple of media outlets. Those write-ups were absorbed by a number of mouth-breathers, and so began The Dumb.

Let me clarify. When asked if his being there suggested he supported Cruz, he responded, “It suggests that I’m interested in what he has to say… It’s the politics of my country, so I’m interested.” This seems like a pretty clear answer to me. I don’t necessarily endorse these views, but I’m curious about them because they are poised to have a very big effect on me and my country.

But clarity be damned, the same day as those articles were published I started getting calls and complaints asking me why my father was a Ted Cruz supporter. This is where we should leave the story of “Richard Goes To Ted Talk” behind, and just start talking about the principle of the thing. I’m really not trying to talk about my dad. I just want to address The Dumb.

It is not shocking that people mistake curiosity with support, but it is pathetic and it is tragic.

If you can’t stand to listen to an idea, it does not prove that you oppose it. Refusing to show interest in a different perspective should not serve as a badge of pride in your own ideas. It actually serves the exact opposite function. It proves that you don’t even understand your own opinion. If you can’t understand the argument you disagree with, then you don’t have the right to disagree with it with any authority, nor do you really have a grasp on what your own idea means in its context.

Rand Paul says “My liberty message is still winning”

Rand Paul says “My liberty message is still winning”

Rare Politics comes from a libertarian-conservative perspective, so naturally we were disappointed when the most libertarian candidate dropped out of the Republican presidential primary.

In his first national interview since leaving the race, I sat down with Senator Rand Paul to look back on his campaign, talk about what went wrong and perhaps most importantly—what the future holds for the liberty movement.

Sen. Paul was upbeat and optimistic, not what you might expect to find in a candidate that fought hard for the nomination but who’s campaign ended with disappointing results.

Rand Paul says despite the fact that his presidential run is over, his liberty message is still winning.

What does he mean?

Rare: You have many passionate supporters, particularly young people, who feel like they don’t have a candidate now that you’re gone. Some still plan to vote for you. Some are looking at other candidates. Some vow to stay home.

This is your first opportunity to talk directly to them since leaving the race—what would you like to say?

Rand Paul: That I was amazed at the outpouring of support, and I think in some ways it wasn’t as well documented by a lot of the media, what kind of support we got from the college students.

The Students for Rand group, I think we had 500 college campuses. It was a big effort. At any point in time in the last couple of weeks, in the Des Moines headquarters, we’d have 300 or 400 college students making phone calls.

I know some of them were probably disappointed that we weren’t able to go on. But we felt like we needed to exceed expectations. We were polling around 5 percent, and we got 5 percent. The good news is we beat several establishment figures, Bush, Kasich, Christie and Fiorina. But, we didn’t feel like we had enough momentum to go on and do better in New Hampshire.

So we had to make that decision really, that’s the U.S. Senate, for now. I’m running for re-election and so I have to continue with that same message and same energy but really on a state level, not the national level.

Rare: So maybe you would recommend them being invested in your senate campaign?

Well they can be, (the senator said, grinning) we’ll still have opportunities for people to come to Kentucky and help us.

But also we want them to continue with the groups they started on the college campuses. Its’ really not so much about an individual, it’s about this liberty movement, which are ideas. And you know, the famous saying ‘ideas have consequences,’ or that ideas are stronger than armies.

That is our hope, that people will get involved in the liberty movement, and that this movement grows over time to someday be dominant enough to have a nominee of a major party.

Rare: In 2014, the New York Times said we might be on the verge of a “libertarian moment” in our politics. When you left the race, critics were eager to say the libertarian moment was over. What do you say to those critics?

Rand Paul: I think they oversimplify things. If you ask what are the issues and ideas that are part of the ‘libertarian moment’ or the liberty moment, I would put in there a constitutional foreign policy or a more reasonable foreign policy. I think we’re winning on that issue.

If you ask the general public now, after the Republican debates and really after a little bit of the Democrat debates: Is it a good idea to have regime change? Is it a good idea to topple Gaddafi in Libya? Are we safer or less safe? Is the region more stable or more chaotic?

I think the facts on the ground—we’re actually winning on that.

If you ask them, should we go into Syria now and topple Assad? Would we be better off? I think now many people are asking the follow up question, which is ‘what happens after Assad?’ Maybe ISIS actually grows stronger or fills that vacuum? Maybe arming the allies of ISIS also helped ISIS to grow stronger?

So I think we’re winning on that debate.

The fact that I didn’t win the election, I don’t think represents whether those ideas are winning. Because in presidential politics, I can’t tell you how many times people come up to say they agree, even people who didn’t vote for me.

Since I’ve been more active in some meetings here in Washington, some people come up to me from both sides who are very complimentary as to the ideas and issues and saying ‘don’t stop talking about foreign policy, don’t stop talking about criminal justice reform.’

So I think we can win the issues battles sometimes and not win an election.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Bernie Sanders Promises to Reduce Prison Population, Misses the Simple Solution of Not Messing With People

Bernie Sanders Promises to Reduce Prison Population, Misses the Simple Solution of Not Messing With People

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) promised at tonight’s debate that by the end of his first term he would reduce the U.S. prison population so it was no longer the largest in the world. The promise came during an extended “discussion” of criminal justice reform that was long on identify the problems in the criminal justice system but short on either identifying the causes of the problems or the solutions.

“Today a male African-American baby born today stands a one-in-four chance of ending up in jail. That is beyond unspeakable,” Sanders said—there was a lot of talk about race at the top of this, the last debate before the South Carolina primary. “So what we have to do is the radical reform of a broken criminal justice system.”

But Sanders didn’t really offer any “radical reforms.” He said over-policing in African-American neighborhoods had to end and that there was too much racial disparities in traffic stops, drug arrests, and sentencing. He said the U.S. needed “fundamental police reform” but didn’t identify what it was. Sanders has previously pointed to police departments as an example of “socialist institutions.” When he ran for mayor of Burlington in 1981, Sanders was supported by the city’s police union. He voted for the Clinton 1994 crime bill.

While “radical reforms” are all well and good, they’re not necessary to alleviate some of the worst problems in the criminal justice system. Rolling back the laws that create all the opportunities for police to harass otherwise peaceable residents, especially those from marginalized communities, would go a long way in reducing the harm caused by the criminal justice system. Brian Doherty has explored this in detail, explaining how petty law enforcement traps the poor in a vicious cycle of escalating fines, warrants, and jail time.

When a series of incidents of police violence in New York City—including the death of Eric Garner, who was accused by cops of selling loose untaxed cigarettes—received media attention in the summer of 2014, Mayor Bill De Blasio (D), hailed as a progressive hero after his election, refused to even consider scaling back the kind of petty laws that lead to violent police interactions.

Judge Nap on New Email Revelations: Hillary’s Top Aides Could Be Indicted

Judge Nap on New Email Revelations: Hillary’s Top Aides Could Be Indicted

Judge Andrew Napolitano gave us his take this morning on the newest revelations in the Hillary Clinton email scandal.

In recent weeks, Fox News has reported that on her private email server, Clinton had information that was even more sensitive than those with the “top secret” classification.

In a new exclusive, Catherine Herridge and Pam Browne reported that at least a dozen email accounts handled the “top secret” intelligence that was recently deemed too damaging for national security to be released.

The official said the accounts include not only Clinton’s but those of top aides – including Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan and Philippe Reines – as well as State Department Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy and others.  There is no public evidence they were authorized to receive the intelligence some of which was beyond Top Secret.

A second source not authorized to speak on the record said the number of accounts involved could be as high as 30 and reflects how the intelligence was broadly shared, replied to, and copied to individuals using the unsecured server.

Judge Napolitano said on America’s Newsroom that Clinton’s “reckless” handling of top-secret emails leaves her top aides open to possible indictment by the federal government.

“The FBI now has leverage. The Justice Department can indict her top aides and trade with them. What would they want? Testimony against Clinton in return for a deal with them. This is the way the government works,” he said.

Napolitano explained that these aides did not have the required security clearances to receive the information contained in these emails.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy

Using the latest advancements in military technology, the world's superpowers battle it out on land, sea, and air for the ultimate global control.

A chillingly authentic vision of modern war, Red Storm Rising is as powerful as it is ambitious.

It's a story you will never forget.

Hard hitting. Suspenseful.

And frighteningly real.

Red Storm Rising

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2016 - Sahnobar Dancers

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2016 - Sahnobar Dancers

The opening performance of the Sahnobar Dancers at the 2016 Hoggetowne Medieval Faire.

Rage Racer (PlayStation)

Rage Racer (PlayStation)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment

The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment

Here’s something that many Americans — including some of the smartest and most educated among us — don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.

Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.

None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.

There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.

And it’s a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory. A good job is an individual’s primary identity, their very self-worth, their dignity — it establishes the relationship they have with their friends, community and country. When we fail to deliver a good job that fits a citizen’s talents, training and experience, we are failing the great American dream.

Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44%, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Coup d'Etat by Ben Coes

When a fragile peace breaks down between Pakistan and India, the United States is forced to intervene. When a rapidly escalating war threatens to engulf the entire region, the president must find a way to shut it down immediately―or else face total destruction for the world at large.

With the clock ticking and Pakistan in the hands of a religious radical willing to do anything and risk everything to achieve his deadly plan, there is only one man with the skills and experience to infiltrate the live war theater and successfully execute a nearly impossible, unbelievably daring plan. His name: Dewey Andreas. His mission: to remove the Pakistani president from power. Now all the White House has to do is find him…before time runs out.

Coup d'Etat (A Dewey Andreas Novel)

RUN – Issue Number 51 – March 1988

RUN – Issue Number 51 – March 1988

Friday, February 5, 2016

Bernie Sanders and the Fraud of Democratic Socialism

Bernie Sanders and the Fraud of Democratic Socialism

With his recent strong showing in the Iowa caucus, Senator Bernie Sanders now deserves to have his policy ideas examined seriously by admirers and critics alike.

Sanders has policy positions on dozens of important issues but two stand out: One, Sanders is a self-described “democratic socialist” and two, he has argued repeatedly that the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes. Presumably, in a Sanders Administration, there would be more “socialism” and higher taxes on the “rich”.

What is democratic socialism? From my training in economics, socialists believe that free-market capitalism is a failed system and that it should be replaced by government ownership of the means of production. This means that all important decisions concerning the production of output and the direction of investment should be made by the State. The “democracy” part of the definition implies that democratic institutions such as a constitution and elections would be preserved.

Does Bernie Sanders really believe that democratic socialism makes sense? Probably not, for a number of reasons. First, many economists accept that socialism fails in both theory and practice; it is not a coherent economic system. It fails in theory because if all of the “means of production” are nationalized, there would be no intelligent way for government planners to decide which factor combinations are the cheapest or which outputs and investments would tend to maximize consumer welfare. The economy would literally be at sea without a rudder.

To see why this is so, we must understand that under free-market capitalism, prices and profit incentives guide resources into uses that consumers prefer relative to alternatives. But in socialism, where the crucial factors of production (such as capital and land) are owned by the State, there are no meaningful price signals or profit and loss incentives to ensure that scarce resources are used efficiently and not wasted. And this so-called economic calculation problem is not made any easier by arguing that the government would be “democratic” or that it’s intentions are to help the poor.

Second, socialism (or near socialism) in practice has been an economic disaster wherever it’s been seriously tried. Most of the socialist experiments (Cuba, 1960-2016) have ended up confiscating wealth, wasting capital, destroying incentives, and impoverishing the great bulk of the population. And don’t believe for a minute that it’s a lack of democracy that has doomed socialism or the so-called Cuban experiment. No way. It’s the rejection of private property, of the free market price system, and of open competition between business organizations that have made socialism unworkable.

Sanders is NOT a democratic socialist (although why he insists on that label is troubling) but is, instead, a “social democrat.” Social democrats or progressives accept (grudgingly) the basic institutions of capitalism (the price system, stock markets, etc.) but want numerous social programs for the unemployed and poor and want increased regulation of large corporations and banks. Fine, but notice that there is nothing terribly radical about any of those ideas; they have been around for decades. Hillary and Bernie may quibble loudly about health care reform but it’s a debate well within the progressive mainstream of the Democratic party.

The Sanders view that the rich should pay their “fair share” of taxes might inspire a more radical agenda if we just could determine what Bernie means by “fair share.” (I suspect it simply means more taxes.) According to 2013 IRS data, individuals with adjusted gross income (AGI) of $250,000 or more filled just 2.4% of all tax returns yet they paid 48.9 % of all taxes; their average tax rate was 25.6%. By contrast, people with incomes of $50,000 or less paid just 6.2% of all taxes and their average tax rate was just 4.2%. Since the average federal tax rate on the “rich” is already 6 times the average tax rate on the (relatively) poor, one wonders what theory of fairness Bernie Sanders has in mind.

Obama to propose $10-per-barrel fee on oil

Obama to propose $10-per-barrel fee on oil

President Barack Obama will propose a $10-per-barrel charge on oil to fund clean transportation projects as part of his final budget request next week, the White House said Thursday.

The proposal — which follows the passage of a bipartisan transportation bill last year — would have difficulty clearing the Republican-controlled Congress. In a statement, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, House majority whip, said the House would quash the “absurd” plan.

Oil companies would pay the fee, which would be gradually introduced over five years. The government would use the revenue to help fund high-speed railways, autonomous cars and other travel systems, aiming to reduce emissions from the nation’s transportation system.

“By placing a fee on oil, the president’s plan creates a clear incentive for private sector innovation to reduce our reliance on oil and at the same time invests in clean energy technologies that will power our future,” the Obama has prioritized reducing carbon emissions and the use of fossil fuels. But some of his administration’s proposals, including the Clean Power Plan, have faced significant opposition at the federal and state level.

The White House said the oil-fee proposal would invest an additional $20 billion per year to cut traffic and “provide new ways for families to get to work and school.” It would also put about $10 billion per year into regional travel systems and another $2 billion annually into clean transportation research.

At least part of the cost of the proposal would be passed on to consumers, Jason Furman, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, told CNBC on Friday.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

Nicholas Nickleby is one of Dickens's early novels, a popular melodrama with a rich list of characters. When his father dies penniless, Nicholas Nickleby, his mother and his sister Kate are thrown on the mercy of his corrupt uncle Ralph Nickleby. Sent away to teach at the infamous Dotheboys Hall, run by the sadistic Wackford Squeers, Nicholas eventually absconds, but not before rescuing the poor abused Smike. He returns home just in time to save his sister from the unwanted attentions of Sir Mulberry Hawk, and eventually his family's fortunes are restored.

Nicholas Nickleby (Collector's Library)

MegaCon 2002: Anime Costume Contest

MegaCon 2002: Anime Costume Contest

MicroProse (1989)

MicroProse (1989)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Federal debt hits $19 trillion; new record set

Federal debt hits $19 trillion; new record set

The federal government is now officially $19 trillion in debt, according to the latest figures released by the Treasury Department Monday that show the Obama administration crossed that ignominious line late last week.

President Obama took office with the debt at $10.6 trillion, and has added more than $8 trillion during his seven years in the White House — a record pace that the Congressional Budget Office says is likely to continue.

Cops hate encryption but the NSA loves it when you use PGP

Cops hate encryption but the NSA loves it when you use PGP

Although the cops and Feds wont stop banging on and on about encryption – the spies have a different take on the use of crypto.

To be brutally blunt, they love it. Why? Because using detectable encryption technology like PGP, Tor, VPNs and so on, lights you up on the intelligence agencies’ dashboards. Agents and analysts don’t even have to see the contents of the communications – the metadata is enough for g-men to start making your life difficult.

“To be honest, the spooks love PGP,” Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute, told the Usenix Enigma conference in San Francisco on Wednesdy. “It’s really chatty and it gives them a lot of metadata and communication records. PGP is the NSA’s friend.”

Weaver, who has spent much of the last decade investigating NSA techniques, said that all PGP traffic, including who sent it and to whom, is automatically stored and backed up onto tape. This can then be searched as needed when matched with other surveillance data.

Given that the NSA has taps on almost all of the internet’s major trunk routes, the PGP records can be incredibly useful. It’s a simple matter to build a script that can identify one PGP user and then track all their contacts to build a journal of their activities.

Even better is the Mujahedeen Secrets encryption system, which was released by the Global Islamic Media Front to allow Al Qaeda supporters to communicate in private. Weaver said that not only was it even harder to use than PGP, but it was a boon for metadata – since almost anyone using it identified themselves as a potential terrorist.

“It’s brilliant!” enthused Weaver. “Whoever it was at the NSA or GCHQ who invented it give them a big Christmas bonus.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pro ASP.NET 2.0 in C# 2005 by Mario Szpuszta and Matthew MacDonald

About the authors:

Mario Szpuszta is working in the Developer and Platform Group of Microsoft, Austria. Before he started working for Microsoft, Mario was involved in several projects based on COM+ and DCOM with Visual Basic and Visual C++ as well as projects based on Java and J2SE. With beta 2 of the .NET Framework, he started developing Web applications with ASP.NET. As developer evangelist for Microsoft Austria, he is doing workshops, trainings, and proof-of-concept projects together with independent software vendors in Austria based on .NET, Web Services, and Office 2003 technologies.

Matthew MacDonald is an author,educator, and MCSD developer who has a passion for emerging technologies. He isthe author of more than a dozen books about .NET programming. In a dimly-remembered past life, he studied English literature and theoretical physics.

Pro ASP.NET 2.0 in C# 2005

MegaCon 2002 (2002-02-23)

MegaCon 2002 (2002-02-23)

Walking around the showroom floor at MegaCon 2002...

Info – Issue Number 1 – Fall 1983

Info – Issue Number 1 – Fall 1983

Monday, February 1, 2016

22 Clinton Emails Deemed Too Classified to Be Made Public

22 Clinton Emails Deemed Too Classified to Be Made Public

The State Department on Friday said for the first time that “top secret” material had been sent through Hillary Clinton’s private computer server, and that it would not make public 22 of her emails because they contained highly classified information.

The department announced that 18 emails exchanged between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama would also be withheld, citing the longstanding practice of preserving presidential communications for future release. The department’s spokesman, John Kirby, said that exchanges did not involve classified information.

The disclosure of the top secret emails, three days before Iowans vote in the first-in-the-nation caucuses, is certain to fuel the political debate over the unclassified computer server that Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, kept in her home. The State Department released another set of her emails on Friday night in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The top secret emails lent credence to criticism by Mrs. Clinton’s rivals in the presidential race of her handling of classified information while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. It is against the law for officials to discuss classified information on unclassified networks used for routine business or on private servers, and the F.B.I. is looking into whether such information was mishandled.

Neither Mr. Kirby nor other officials would discuss the emails now being withheld, but the classified emails include those cited in a letter sent to the Senate on Jan. 14 by the inspector general of the nation’s intelligence agencies, I. Charles McCullough III.