Kharmin on Google+
 
twitter / kharminonthenet
 
     
 

Categories

Views from Kharmin’s Right

This area is a repository and continuation of my political ranting that was once hosted over at townhall.com; however, it seems that they no longer allow us smaller, less significant bloggers to use their service.  That’s their choice and their loss.

 

02/10/2011 – Keep America Great

First, it was German Chancellor Merkel, then British PM Cameron and now French President Sarkozy: Multiculturalism has failed.

Seeing how the left in this country has for so long wanted to make the United States more like European nations, perhaps they will soon follow suit with what ultimately must be the conclusion to this implosion of a social experiment.  Certainly, people of differing cultures can live amongst each other, but when immigrants begin to force their imported ways of life on the indigenous citizenry, something is very, very wrong.

We, in America, are suffering from the same metastasizing cancer within our own borders.  The amnesty crowd, intentions notwithstanding, fail to see the larger picture of the sudden influx of people who are neither assimilate nor desire to do so and how that affects the American culture.  We teach Spanish to construction superintendents so that they can speak to their Mexican subordinates, rather than teach English to those who truly desire to come to this country for the betterment of themselves and the society into which they insert themselves.  In Texas, a school district made studying Islam mandatory, based on the strange (and factually unsupported) claim that Arabic would be the language of the future.  After a huge public outcry, the district has since pulled back on their decision, only to reconsider lest they lose the $1.3M federal grant given to them.

Before we invest in other cultures, other languages or other ways of life, we Americans need to invest in our own country.  Granted, much of our history is based on a melting-pot mentality, but even in those days a route and method for integrating into the vat of American culture was set … and people came here in droves.

America is still the greatest bastion of freedom in the world.  In order to remain that way, the American way of life must be preserved.

©2011 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

12/08/2010 – Refuting a Query on the Bush Tax “Cuts”

Several days ago, a colleague of mine emailed me the following question:

So I can understand the idea of not extending the tax cuts at all because we are in so much debt.  I can also understand extending them only for the middle class (though I have a hard time believing someone making a quarter mil per year is middle class).  Can you explain why it is a good idea to extend them for the wealthy?

I wrote a lengthy reply and decided it would be better to post it here which would allow for others to review and pass comment on my answer. Please enjoy, and keep the flames to a minimum.

Kharmin Replies:

First, I reject the premise of the question/argument as it is factually inaccurate.

There are no tax cuts for the wealthy. There are no tax cuts for the middle class. Heck, there are no tax cuts for the poor (or at least those who pay taxes, but that’s an argument for another day). What is set to expire on December 31, 2010 is the adjustment of the marginal tax rates which were put into place in 2001 by President Bush in response to the economic fears that resulted after the terrorist attacks in September of that year.

In 1988, President Reagan lowered the marginal tax rate from 38.5% to 28%, and the US had one of the biggest economic booms on record (prior to this, President Carter’s tax rates were at 70% in 1980, during one of the worst economic times after the Great Depression). In 1991, President GHW Bush increased the rate from 28% to 31%, bowing to pressure from Congress and his need to increase spending (not his greatest moment in this author’s view). Riding the wave of economic prosperity ginned up by Reagan and somewhat continued by Bush 41, President Clinton enjoyed the fruits of their labor. However, in 1993, the marginal tax rate was hiked from 31% to 39.6% as Clinton struggled to balance the budget and pay for his administration’s policies, all the while his administration’s economic team was cooking the books (Source).

Admittedly, I am not a tax expert; however, I am able to do some Internet research. In 1993, the marginal tax rate for the top bracket of individual earners ($250,000 at that time) was 39.6%. This tax rate held firm from 1993 until 2001, when it dropped to 39.1%. In 2002 it fell further to 38.6% and in 2003 it continued to drop to 35% where it currently stands. This is the rate that is scheduled to expire which would vault the marginal tax rate back to 39.6% (Source).

Note that these percentages are for the top bracket earnings. All brackets have a marginal tax rate and all of them have been proportionally affected. For example, the lowest bracket in 1993 enjoyed a marginal tax rate of 15% ($36,900 at that time), dropping to 10% in 2001 and remaining there. This tax rate will return to 15% at the end of 2010 (Source).

If these tax rates are extended (or made permanent), then no one would receive any tax cut. If these rates are allowed to expire, then everyone would receive a tax increase.

Many small businesses file their taxes on an individual basis. These business owners would be hit with a increased tax burden at a time when the economy is in severe decline. With this increase looming, small businesses have been reluctant to make any purchasing or hiring decisions until they are certain how these taxes will affect their bottom line. Additionally, Obamacare’s mandates on businesses create further dis-incentive for those owners to invest or hire.

Extending these tax rates for only the middle-class would be difficult as the current consensus that defines that group is those earning less than $250,000. This would not include many small businesses– the companies that make the economy, and America, grow.

What is needed is making the marginal tax rate permanent, or even lowering it further, to drive business owners to invest in their companies and make hiring profitable. Removing the mandates of Obamacare would likewise fuel further investment – why would employers want to hire someone if it is going to cost the company more in benefits?

We don’t need to keep bailing out banks by giving them taxpayer monies: the banks have enough money. What they don’t have are customers. Business owners do not want to take loans from banks with the uncertainty that they would be able to pay them back, so the economy slow-boils in a malaise. We need to encourage businesses to grow, and increasing tax burdens and other government regulation does not accomplish this.

Also note that the marginal tax rate is not the only thing that is in play. Many other tax incentives are also part of the Bush 43 tax rates (called the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation). Capital gains, retirement accounts, alternative minimum tax (AMT), estate and gift taxes are several other taxes which would be affected (Source).

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

04/20/2010 – Some Dems Didn’t Get the Memo

In Arizona, after debate in the state House to move forward on a presidential “birther bill“, we get this statement:

“Republicans continue to take Arizona down the wrong track by wasting taxpayers’ time on frivolous legislation instead of working on important issues like health care for kids and seniors and education,” said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, in a statement.

Didn’t Rep Sinema get the memo?  Obamacare made health care affordable for kids and seniors!  Soon, federal education mandates will follow.  What else are state legislatures supposed to do with their time?

Buh?

 

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

04/15/2010 -  US Causes Icelandic Volcano Eruption; Women and Minorities Affected Most
April 15, 2010, London, England (PP*) – Billowing clouds of smoke and ash spread across much of western Europe today as the volcano beneath Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH’-plah-yer-kuh-duhl) glacier began erupting for the second time in less than a month.  Women and minorities in Iceland are expected to be the worst affected which prompted Nobel Peace Prize winner, and one time US Presidential candidate, Al Gore to the scene.

“This destruction of the earth’s fragile atmosphere could have easily been avoided,” Mr. Gore said.  “The policies of the Bush and Reagan administrations did nothing to curb the incessant need for oil in the Middle East.  Drilling for oil cracked the Earth’s crust, so much so that earthquakes in the Pacific Rim and now the volcano in Iceland are direct results of US policy.”

Local residents flocked to the scene, but were more entranced by the presence of Mr. Gore. Mr Gore continued, “The pollution that has been placed in the atmosphere will have an immediate impact on Global Warm… er, Climate Change.  The timetable for action has been accelerated; the need for climate change mandates could not be any more necessary than today.”

In the United States, President Barack Obama echoed Mr. Gore’s sentiments.  “We know now,” Mr. Obama said, “that ‘drill baby drill’ is not a policy which we can afford to pursue.  Fortunately for the United States, the volcanic ash is headed toward Europe.  I intend to sign an Executive Order which will raise relief funds for the citizens of Western Europe by implementing a tax on electric blenders.  This Executive Order will also mandate that every citizen in the United States must purchase an electric blender, manufactured by General Electric.  Those in the lower income bracket will receive a federal government voucher so that they, too, may participate in this global humanitarian effort.”

In London, prices of utilities shot up sharply with the expectation that a prolonged ash cloud would alter the global temperature thus increasing the demand for electricity in the United Kingdom.  National Energy Director Miles Standish said, “With the airports closing down we have no other recourse than to ration our energy.  The NHS [National Health Service] will need all available power for the hospitals and other infirmaries.  After all, we are just an island.”

Across the continental Western Europe, shelters sprang up like canvass mushrooms.  France’s Health Ministry placed an open call to the rest of the European Union, citing potentially devastating losses in minority communities as those able to afford to ride out the crisis made a run on the stores.  Toilet paper and milk were the first casualties.

“Things could not get any worse,” said a German man who requested anonymity.  “I never thought to see this in my lifetime.”

Closer to the event, at Iceland’s Keflavik airport (which remained open), maintenance crews paused to observe the event.

“Meh,” said baggage handler Jorge Jφrgenson.

*Parody Press

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

04/14/2010 – Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Today, this day in history in 2000:
After five years of deadlock, Russia approved the START II treaty that calls for the scrapping of U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads. The Russian government warned it would abandon all arms-control pacts if Washington continued with an anti-missile system.

Sound familiar?

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

04/09/2010 – Why Stupak Ought to Retire

Democrat Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) has decided to retire at the end of his term.  That’s a good thing for the constituents of the state of Michigan because, according to a report, Stupak hasn’t been working for them anyway.

“Now with health care done, he’s retiring,” a friend said. “He has thought about retiring for the last three cycles, but was always talked into staying: to elect John Kerry to help end the war, to elect a Democratic majority to get health care done.”

Seems Stupak has had the interests of the Democrat party at heart rather than those who sent him to Washington.  But wait, there’s more from the report:

President Barack Obama called Stupak on Wednesday and asked him not to retire. Stupak, 58, also resisted entreaties from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the dean of the Wolverine State delegation.

So, what they’re saying is that he should stay on, not because the electorate of his state desires it (which would be proven to be the case in something called an “election”), but because high ranking members of his party are imploring him not to retire.

We really need term limits for Congress.

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

03/30/2010 – Densest Element

From an email currently circulating around the ‘net…

A major research institution has just announced the discovery of the densest element yet known to science.  The new element has been named Pelosium.  Pelosium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 311. These particles are held together by dark forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. The symbol of Pelosium is PU. Pelosium’s mass actually increases over time, as morons randomly interact with various elements in the atmosphere and become assistant deputy neutrons within the Pelosium molecule, leading to the formation of isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Pelosium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration.  This hypothetical quantity is referred to as Critical Morass. When catalyzed with money, Pelosium activates CNNadnausium, an  element that radiates orders of magnitude more energy, albeit as incoherent noise, since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons as Pelosium.

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

03/23/2010 – All Your Healthcare Are Belong To Us

To paraphrase a popular Internet meme from Zero Wing: All your health care are belong to us.

As I type, the President is signing his political legacy in the form of Health Care Reform.  Generations of Americans will feel the effect of this legislation, both positive and negative, and a debt burden that will be imposed will quite probably never be reconciled.  As we are told many, many times: elections have consequences.

The will of the majority of Americans has been trampled into the shredded remains of the US Constitution.  The world should be wary — America will never be the same.

Americans will never be the same.

Make your time.

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

03/17/2010 – The Frog and the Scorpion

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion
says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

Replies the scorpion: “Its my nature…”

This parable, attributed to Aesop (although in dispute), is analogous to the current administration, and the leadership in both houses on the Hill.  To all of those paying attention, none of the actions being taken in the last year have been a surprise.  Now, however, people are starting to realize just what has been elected in to office and like the frog in the story, they are stunned by their demise brought upon themselves by their own decision.  Let’s hope that they don’t take the rest of us down with them.

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

03/05/2010 – Introduction to Government: 101

Hey, Congress.  Remember me?

Seems you’ve forgotten just how a bill becomes a law.  Let me re-explain it to you in a convenient video format:

Thank you for your attention.

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

02/02/2010 – Thank You, Fox News!

It’s about time.

I meant to blog this yesterday, but was too busy to get over here to do it (you know, having a real job does tend to get in the way).  I did manage a tweet about it, but it didn’t seem to gain any traction.  Amazing thing happened here: http://bit.ly/d4A9DP  Did you see?

FoxNews dropped the ridiculous political correctness that has permeated the main stream media (MSM) and called it like it is: homicide.  Too many news outlets attempt to soften the blow or perhaps make a victim of the attacker– looking to make the reader sympathize with him or her for detonating a vest of explosives.  Associated Press running the same story did just that calling the attacker a suicide bomber.  So, what’s the difference?  Let’s compare.

The online American Heritage Dictionary defines suicide as, “The act or an instance of intentionally killing oneself.” whereas homicide is defined as, “The killing of one person by another.”  Since both accounts of the same scene clearly detail that multiple people were killed, there is no good reason for this kind of act to be called suicide.

Hopefully, Fox News will continue to present the news and not some softened version of accounts, tailored to create empathy on the part of the reader/viewer.  Of course, if we want to be realistic about it, this isn’t really suicide or homicide: it’s murder.

From the Legal Free Dictionary, murder is, “… the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.”

So, thank you Fox News for having the courage to stand up for accuracy.

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.
01/21/2010 – Cali Budget Dumps Jailhouses

From a Foxnews.com story today: California to Reduce Prison Population by 6,500 Inmates. Several paragraphs down, we see this:

“…the state will stop its monitoring of low-level offenders after their release. That is designed to reduce the number of parolees returned to prison, essentially because the state will not know if they are violating the terms of their parole.”(emphasis added)

Might as well be
California’s Gov

What?  Are they kidding?  Sure, “low-level offenders”, but still…?  Is there anyone that thinks this could possibly be a good idea?  Other than the governor who has already signed this into law back in October 2009?

The proponents argue that fewer inmates and less resources spent to monitor the low-level offenders will save the state $1 billion, give or take.  Again, the law of unintended consequences will reign supreme on the Golden State; the manpower and other resources that will be used to handle the increase in crime that will occur when, well you know, criminals are let out of jail!

‘toon by Kyle Baker

State Corrections Secretary (there’s a title for you!) Matthew Cate…”acknowledged some unsupervised ex-felons will inevitably commit serious crimes after their release. But he said residents will be safer in general because parole agents will be able to concentrate on higher-risk parolees.” In a phone interview with Foxnews.com for their article, Cate admits that the possibility of the recidivism rate going down is “the great hope.”

I hope that California is up to the task. It only took about twenty years to catch Jaycee Dugard‘s alleged kidnappers, when she was held in the backyard of a paroled sex offender where no diligent monitoring by the Parole Office appears to have been made. Could this possibly be any worse than that?

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.
 01/13/2010 – Harry Reid and the Sneetches

By now, just about everyone has heard about the comments attributed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the newly released book “Game Change” penned by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and yes, I’m going to repeat them here for clarity sake.

“He [Reid] was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no[ N-egro] dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ ” Halperin and Heilemann say.

“Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama’s race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination,” they write.

On Tuesday’s Rush Limbaugh Show (1/12/2010), Rush’s program observer (and self-proclaimed Official Obama Criticizer) Bo Snerdley remarked how Senator Reid’s comments impacted him.  Snerdley said that Reid, “…has basically divided black people amongst themselves, and said that some of us are better because of the light color of our skin and some of us are not good because we are dark…”

Whether or not Mr. Snerdley’s opinion was tongue-in-cheek is not the issue.  For years, the Democrat leadership has caused divisions within our society by their words and actions, all the while profiting from them.  It brings to mind that conniving (and rather capitalistic — go figure!) character from Dr. Seuss, Sylvester McMonkey McBean who, when stumbling across the plain-bellied sneetches who were being ostracized from their star-bellied bretheren declared to have the ultimate solution:

“My friends”, he announced in a voice clear and clean,
“My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
And I’ve heard of Your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy.
But I can fix that, I’m the Fix-It-Up Chappie.
I’ve come here to help you.
I have what you need.
And my prices are low. And I work with great speed.
And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed!”

Then, quickly, Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Put together a very peculiar machine.
And he said, “You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch?
My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!

Well, we all know how this story turns out.  The star-bellies, no longer unique, are sold on a service to remove their stars (courtesy of Mr. McBean … ten dollars, please) thus making them feel “better” about themselves over their now-starred kin.  This, of course, sets off a cycle of panic and soon sneetches are everywhere either having stars put on or removed from their bellies.  Each turn of the series costs them more money and at the end of the day:

Then, when every last cent of their money was spent,
The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up. And he went.
And he laughed as he drove In his car up the beach,
“They never will learn. No. You can’t Teach a Sneetch!”

Fortunately for the sneetches, McBean was wrong as they were all able to reconcile their differences – star-bellied or no – and live quite contentedly; however, here is where this analogy falls apart.  True, the Democrats will provide whatever the people want so long as there is money to be had.  But at the end of our day, the same divisive, uncaring rhetoric is uncovered and they are exposed for how they really feel and no one is better off for it.

©2010 Views from Kharmin’s Right. All rights reserved.

 

7/7/2009 – Soak the “Rich” to Pay for Healthcare

From Bloomberg.com

July 7 (Bloomberg) — House Ways and Means Committee members are likely to propose a surtax on high-income Americans to help pay for an overhaul of the health-care system, according to people familiar with the plan.

The tax would be similar to, yet much smaller than, a surtax proposed in 2007 by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, a person familiar with the committee’s talks said. That plan would have added at least a 4 percent levy on incomes exceeding $200,000, and was projected to reap as much as $832 billion over 10 years.

Two people familiar with closed-door talks by committee Democrats said a House bill probably will include a surtax on incomes exceeding $250,000, as Congress seeks ways to pay for changes to a health-care system that accounts for almost 18 percent of the U.S. economy. By targeting wealthier Americans, a surtax may hold more appeal for House Democrats than a Senate proposal to tax some employer-provided health benefits.

Bolded for emphasis.  With unemployment climbing, one wonders just who will be able to be taxed?  And this is accounting for 18% of the US Economy?

Originally published at Kharmin’s Small Piece of the ‘Net on July 7, 2009. ©2009 Kharmin’s Small Piece of the ‘Net. All rights reserved.

 

09/23/2009 – Kharmin Favors the Tenth Amendment!

From the US Constitution, the tenth amendment rounds out the original “Bill of Rights”. Simply put,

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

I was reminded of this important part of our American history by reviewing some famous quotes over at the Heritage Foundation web site. It got me to thinking: how can the federal government take over any private industry (banks, auto manufacturers, health care) when such action is not sanctioned by our Constitution? Not only does the administration want to impinge upon my freedoms, but it wants to tax me for these privileges which it legally does not possess! Maybe if our president spent more time actually, you know, governing and not on the talk-show circuits… well, then again maybe that would be worse?

Originally published at Kharmin’s Small Piece of the ‘Net on September 23, 2009. ©2009 Kharmin’s Small Piece of the ‘Net. All rights reserved.

 

11/22/2009 – Kharmin’s Pledge of Allegiance

With nationalized health care pretty much ready to be forced down on us feeble serfs from the aristocracy on the Hill (one step closer now: http://bit.ly/7HGIgS), I thought that I might as well start practicing with our new pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance
to the Government
of the United Socialist States of America
and to the unions
to which I’m indentured
one nation,
under debt,
divisible by race
with liberty and justice for an elite few.

This is only my first draft. I am working on revising it and making it more suitable for the public school system to drill into our children. I figure that I have a little time left yet until this government mandated act of liberal compassion has been made law. After that, I’ll have lost my ability to have any freedom of thought or expression as our country devolves just like every other fascist state. Then, it won’t matter to whom I pledge my allegiance.

Originally published at Kharmin’s Small Piece of the ‘Net on November 22, 2009. ©2009 Kharmin’s Small Piece of the ‘Net. All rights reserved.

 

12/07/2009 – Remembering Pearl

Not nearly old enough to have remembered the actual event, I did want to take time out of my day to reflect and remember the attack on Pearl Harbor which essentially thrust the United States into the second world war. Every day, I thank our brave men and women of our armed forces for doing the job that I wouldn’t want to do and for sacrificing so much to ensure our safety and our way of life. I echo the many before me who proclaim these people as the true heroes of our day. The attack on Pearl has been recounted and analyzed ad infinitum and I would do the topic no justice by adding to it here. A very sad day during a very harrowing time, and far too many lives were lost on both sides of the war. Today, I thank the heroes of my past, my present and my future and hope and pray for their safety and for their ability to continue to excel at the tasks which are placed in front of them. Thank you.

Originally published at Kharmin’s Small Piece of the ‘Net on December 7, 2009. ©2009 Kharmin’s Small Piece of the ‘Net. All rights reserved.

 

07/16/2008 – AP Just Doesn’t Get It

Previously, I have pointed out how the Associated Press misrepresents their stories. Well, not surprisingly, they continue to do so.  Observe the following headline:  Officer wrecks squad car 29 minutes into job

So, what are we to expect from this story?  On whom does the fault for the accident fall?  The police officer?  Well, let’s read the story, then, and see if we can’t find the truth (inasmuch as AP cares to report such):
Jul 16, 2:06 AM (ET) HOBART, Ind. (AP) – Police officer Tim Pochron’s first day on the job went poorly: Less than a half-hour into it, his squad car was wrecked in a crash.

Pochron was inside his house at 12:29 a.m. Monday when someone hit his new squad car parked outside, as well as a tree, police said.

Oh, so it wasn’t the police officer’s fault?  How were we to know that based on the headline?  But wait, there’s more:

The driver tested positive for drugs, was arrested and taken to a hospital, police said.

Not only was the police officer not at fault (heck, he wasn’t even in the car!), but the one who caused all of the ruckus tested positive for drugs.  Imagine that.

I have a better headline for you AP: Driver under influence of narcotics crashes into parked police cruiser.

Honesty is usually the best policy.  Somehow, I’m not so sure that the Associated Press even has a policy.

 

07/10/2008 – Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Headline from the Associated Press today (July 10, 2008): “Bush readies pen; Relishes signing wiretap bill

Relishes?  What newsworthy purpose does that adjective serve in that lead?  It’s as if the AP envisions the President sitting at his desk, drooling with rabid anticipation while waiting for the bill to arrive from Congress.  The article starts:

President Bush is poised to sign a bill that overhauls the bitterly disputed rules on secret government eavesdropping and grants immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the U.S. spy on Americans in suspected terrorism cases.

How incredibly misleading.  Allow me to do some simple research; something that the AP appears reluctant to do.  A simple Google search on FISA can easily take one to the US Code in question.

TITLE 50 > CHAPTER 36 > SUBCHAPTER I > § 1802

§ 1802. Electronic surveillance authorization without court order; certification by Attorney General; reports to Congressional committees; transmittal under seal; duties and compensation of communication common carrier; applications; jurisdiction of court
(a)
(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—
(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;

Emphasis mine.  Taking a look at section 1801 for the definitions:

§ 1801. Definitions
As used in this subchapter:
(a) “Foreign power” means—
(1) a foreign government or any component thereof, whether or not recognized by the United States;
(2) a faction of a foreign nation or nations, not substantially composed of United States persons;
(3) an entity that is openly acknowledged by a foreign government or governments to be directed and controlled by such foreign government or governments;

Nowhere does this Title mention anything about American nationals.  The administration’s “spying”, by way of FISA, in no way targets citizens of the United States.  Not that the reporter took any time to research this fact– that would not mesh with the obligatory anti-Bush bias that the mainstream media has been promoting over the last eight years.

It is no wonder that the MSM has lost much of its credibility.

 

07/08/2008 – Internet Police: “May I have your IP Address and registration please?”

It is absolutely astonishing to me to see what some people will produce on the Internet.  YouTube, Google Video and Facebook are but a few examples.  People are posting stuff to their sites without a care in the world for their privacy.  It is now more the “Me” Generation than it has ever been.  Fifteen minutes of fame forever captured on the back-end by some ISP’s server.  And fame does have its price.

Recently, Viacom has sued Google over copyright infringements for videos that have been posted on YouTube.  The latest results are that Google must turn over to Viacom the usernames and IP addresses of users who have viewed these videos (see story here).  Google, in response, has updated their services to include a privacy statement of sorts.  The reason?  According to Brian Kraemer’s blog at crn.com:

…it does appear that Google realizes that holding as much private information as they do — often to the chagrin of users — does pose a risk to people using the search engine and the other services they offer.

And it took a $1 billion (USD) lawsuit to figure this out?

Nevermind about the average home-user of Google and YouTube.  What about these other services that Google is offering?  Gmail is one of the most popular on-line email applications around.  Many small companies use Gmail as their business email system.  What privacy are they ensured?  Furthermore, would you trust Google with your personal health information (which includes private information about you– things like address, social security number and so on)?  Well, thanks to Google Health, you can place all of your medical history in one easily accessible place!  And, since Google is not a health provider per se, they are not constrained by certain health industry regulations like HIPAA for example.

The penchant for storing vast amounts of personally identifiable information without regulation is incredible.  According to the USDOJ: National Criminal Justice Reference Service, in 2004*:

  • In 2004, 3.6 million households, representing 3% of the households in the United States, discovered that at least one member of the household had been the victim of identity theft during the previous six months. 
  • Households headed by persons age 18-24, those in urban or suburban areas, and those in the highest income bracket ($75,000 or more) were the most likely to experience identity theft.  Victimization did not differ by race or ethnicity.
  • 3 in 10 households experiencing any type of identity theft discovered it by missing money or noticing unfamiliar charges on an account; almost 1 in 4 were contacted about late or unpaid bills.
  • About two-thirds of households experiencing identity theft reported some type of a monetary loss as a result of theft.  The average loss was $1,290. Some households for which misuse was still ongoing at the time of the interview may have continued to suffer losses.
  • About 1 in 6 victimized households had to pay higher interest rates as the result of identity theft, and 1 in 9 households were denied phone or utility service. Households were equally likely to be turned down for insurance or pay higher rates, be the subject of a civil suit or judgment, or be the subject of a criminal investigation (7%, 5%, and 4%, respectively).

Email, phishing and other scams notwithstanding, do we really need to make things easier for nefarious people to steal everything we own and destroy our lives?  YouTube was created in 2005, a year after the DOJ statistics cited above– how much higher must these incidents be by now?

Protect and educate yourself in your online browsing habits.  The DOJ has a website dedicated to protecting yourself from identity theft, which you can find here.  Think before you post or send that email.  Decide whether or not the entire Internet really needs to see those videos of your birthday party.  Fifteen minutes of fame for the potential lifetime of regret?  Is the price really worth it?

After this Viacom/Google battle, where does it end?  The RIAA is subpoenaing ISPs for their customers and IP addresses so that they can take legal action against copyright violators.  When it comes down to it, are you ready for the Internet police to come knocking at your door?

*Findings, as published in the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) publication, Identity Theft, 2004 (2006), represent 6-month prevalence estimates and are drawn from interviews conducted from July to December 2004.

06/27/2008 – So What’s The Big Deal Anyway?

Ok, so North Korea imploded their nuclear cooling tower

Big deal.

According to the accolades from the press:

The gray cooling tower crumbled behind billowing dust clouds in seconds
Friday, reducing the structure at North Korea’s nuclear reactor into a
pile of rubble. It was a choreographed show by the communist regime
meant to affirm an intention to stop making atomic bombs.

From a distance, smiling diplomats from the United States and other
nations snapped photos of the blast that destroyed part of the heart of
the North’s nuclear weapons program.

Had North Korea continued along their path of making more nuclear material, the US military would have willingly “imploded” the reactor with a surgical strike.  Heck, they’d probably have done it for free.  None of this amounts to a hill of beans, really, since the North Korean government hasn’t really come completely clean with their program.

North Korea’s declaration does not address its alleged uranium
enrichment program or suspicions of its nuclear proliferation to other
countries, such as Syria.

The declaration, which was delivered six months later than the country
promised and has not yet been released publicly, is said to only give
the overall figure for how much plutonium was produced at Yongbyon -
but no details of bombs that may have been made.

Experts believe North Korea has produced up to 110 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium, enough for as many as 10 nuclear bombs.

So, what have we really gained?  Why has the US decided to lift sanctions?  Has this extended action really been a deterrent?

Big deal.

© 2013, Kharmin's Small Piece of the 'Net. All rights reserved.

Share