Ron Paul Was Right

I ran across the video while I was trolling through Twitter.  It’s a Ron Paul speech from 2002, the year I graduated high school.  I had no idea who he was back then, but his words sort of hit me like a knuckle sandwich to the nose.  It’s not that I don’t already know about these things, but hearing it condensed into a five-minute speech that was made ten years ago really puts the hook in you, to use a phrase from a favorite film of mine.    Ron Paul may not be the only person in Washington who understands what has been going on, but he’s the only person brave enough to stand up and repeatedly tell us the truth.  Unfortunately, all of his predictions made in this video have come true.  All the more reason we need him to be the last man standing.

Freedom Watch Booted from Fox Business

I am so disappointed to be writing this to you, readers.  Freedom Watch on Fox Business has been cancelled.  For those of you who don’t know about it, Freedom Watch was a show hosted by Judge Andrew Napolitano.  Judge, as he is commonly known, showcased Austrian economics, libertarian philosophy, and real news issues.  Judge was probably the only libertarian on the news, and now he’s been cancelled.  If you’ll allow me a moment of perfect candor, the first thought that I had when I was saw this headline was, This is bull$h1t!  I’m angry.

Judge was shining a bright light on the Fed, the NDAA, and the tomfoolery that goes on daily on the Hill.  Judge was the only host bringing us real straight talk about the economy and the state of the world today.  I watched his show often in clip version, as we don’t get it in Korea, and found every segment to be enjoyable and informative.  I will admit, of course, that he was preaching to the choir.

Why can’t libertarians have a newsman of their own?  I don’t believe that there weren’t enough viewers, because there are plenty of libertarians, and more are coming to the fold every day.  Judge was a great voice for liberty, and that voice has been silenced.

I, for one, don’t intend to take this lying down.  I love Judge’s show, and he is probably the only person on Fox – or TV, generally – for whom I have any respect.  If you are libertarian but you haven’t watched his show before, I suggest you head to Fox and watch some clips before they get removed.  I’m sure there will be plenty of devotees who have him on YouTube, as well.  I will continue to reuse and distribute his clips, as I think they are interesting and informative.  I’m also going to send an angry letter to Fox and tell them exactly what I think about this.  If you love Judge and refuse to let him go quietly into the night, I suggest you do the same!

Freedom Watch: Ron Paul Will Be On GOP Ticket

Continue reading on Examiner.com FreedomWatch with Judge Andrew Napolitano has been cancelled – Wilmington Civil Rights | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/civil-rights-in-wilmington/freedomwatch-with-judge-andrew-napolitano-has-been-cancelled#ixzz1m4uTqKet

**Addendum: Fox has apparently been inundated with emails about Freedom Watch.  Judge has posted on his Facebook page that, while he appreciates the show of support, the people at Fox are getting pretty irked about the constant emails, and he is requesting that people stop immediately.  We must respect Judge’s wishes on this matter.  Please DO NOT email Fox News about Freedom Watch.  I have taken down the links to the Fox exec’s emails.  

Judge has also stated that the decision was based purely on business and not on the content of the show.  He says that he accepted the decision cheerfully and feels that there will be another opportunity or project for him some time in the near future.  I can only hope this is true.  In any case, please don’t email Fox anymore, guys!

Google’s New Privacy Policy Hardly Protects Privacy

Let me just start this post by admitting that I am about as technologically savvy as a paranoid hippy who hangs out in the mountains and doesn’t believe in cell phones.  In my world, cookies are something that come out of the oven and IP is something that stands for “intellectual property.”  Neither of these things is relevant to computers, at least not for me.  I am in utter awe of programmers.  They’re like wireless wizards.  I’m lucky that I figured out how to operate this blog without crashing WordPress.  I was a dinosaur using AOL for years – my first email address was on AOL – but I finally made the switch to Gmail about two years ago.

At the time, I was pretty pleased, given the fact that change is abhorrent to me.  I found Gmail’s layout intuitive and easy-to-use, which is imperative for someone like me who needs it spelled out, preferably in large print.  I know a fair few computer geeks, and they’ll spend hours trying to argue in favor of Windows, but at the end of the day, the main reason I am an Apple user is because it’s intuitive, it’s attractive, and dammit, I don’t have constant driver problems the way I did when I had a Dell running Windows XP.  I couldn’t fix my own computer.  My engineer roommate had to do it for me.  (She loved every disgusting minute of computer repair.)  I felt the same way about Gmail – it was the Mac of the email world, at least in my eyes.

I was saddened today when my email greeted me with an invitation to read Google’s up-and-coming privacy policy, which is set to take effect on March 1st.  Frankly, I’m glad that they gave me some warning so that I can get my affairs in order with my Google account and get the heck outta Dodge, because I did not enjoy anything about what I read in that new privacy statement.

Google is in the midst of streamlining its accounts, which means that Gmail, YouTube, Google+, and approximately 60 other services will be sharing users’ personal data.  Everything except Google Chrome, Google Wallets, and Google Books will be linked together.  The big problem will all of this is that there is no opt-out.  All Google users will be forced to comply with this new procedure.

As I understand it, the way this will work is that if you Google something, for example “St. Louis Blues hockey scores,” you may be greeted later by hockey videos on YouTube.  Many think it will also allow Google to target advertising, which is true, but more importantly, it is going to link your personal data and information to things that you may not necessarily want public.  Let’s face it: one of the great things about the Internet is that you can peruse with relative anonymity, but with the new Google system, those days seem to be disappearing.

Besides that, it would put vast amounts of personal data at the literal fingertips of hackers.  Of course, lots of websites already do this, but Google is such a large system that it would be disastrous if their security were to be compromised.  It doesn’t make sense to just hand over scads of information to cyber-criminals, and to those who say that it could never happen, I say, “Wake up.”  There is always a determined hacker who can figure out how to beat the system that is currently in place.

What is truly frightening to me is that Google will effectively be using emails to help them figure out the who, what, where, when, why, and how of users’ personal lives.  Google can install permanent cookies on people’s computers which allows the company to keep track of what users are doing, including where they are.  Google can mine information from mobile devices the instant that users access their accounts or enter search terms, according to The Washignton Post.  This is all supposedly to streamline the online experience for Google users, but it sounds more 1984 than anything else to me.

Do we really want perfect strangers to have access to all of our private information, including health, financial situation, political beliefs and concerns, and where we live and shop?  Moreover, what happens if Google decides that they aren’t going to be scrupulous with this delicate information?  Call me paranoid, but it seems like this could potentially be a problematic situation if they decide to sell information to, say, insurance companies, credit institutions, or the government?  What if the government, under the usual guise of protecting us from terrorists, ourselves, and terrorists, decides to use this technology to “listen in” on our conversations?  No thanks.

While I can understand that Google is facing stiff competition in the fickle and ever-changing Web world, this move towards streamlining doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a winning proposition, in the long run.  The potential consequences of making so many details of one’s life public are troublesome, at best, scary as heck at worst.

One the upside, I will say that I’m glad that Google is giving its current users fair warning about this policy change.  Logging into current accounts, it’s quite hard to miss the banners asking you to view the new policy.  I do applaud their efforts to keep their users abreast of changes, because there are some companies that would not have given users the same courtesy.  That said, I will be deleting my Gmail account for good as soon as I find a service that I find more palatable.  I’m trying out Zoho for the time being, and although it isn’t as pretty or as easy to use as Google, it asks for zero personal information for its basic, free account, and that means a lot to this Lady, who places a high value on her privacy.  If I like the results with the blog email account, I will switch over my personal accounts, too.  Rest assured, however, that I will not be sticking around so that Google can inundate me with ads and mine my personal data all for the sake of making my life more convenient.  I’m willing to accept slightly less convenience if it means that my personal data is safe.

Check out the article below, if you are interested in the news story. 

“Google Announces Privacy Changes Across Products; Users Can’t Opt Out”The Washington Post

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Haven’t we all been waiting for the day that a TSA agent tried to stick his/her hand down Rand or Ron Paul’s pants?  I mean, honestly.  Based on personal experience, I’m aware of the fact that the government doesn’t always employ the most intelligent people to do their dirty work, but how stupid can you be?  Of all the people they could have chosen to give some government-approved guff to, they had to give it to Rand Paul, a libertarian senator whose father is running for president.  Did they really think that this man wouldn’t run to the media and raise hell?  This is like goosing a rattlesnake from behind and expecting him not to turn around and bite you.

Of course, I think Senator Paul is well within his rights to be annoyed as heck.  Does anyone just love being groped by strangers at the airport?  Isn’t it bad enough to we have to sit next to them on airplanes and endure their various sounds and odors?  I don’t know of anyone who likes or approves of the TSA, and I’m here tonight to make a strident case for getting them out of our airports and out of our unmentionables.  There are few, if any, strong arguments in favor of the TSA, but there are quite a few reasons why they shouldn’t be involved in our lives.

In the first place, total security, which is what the government seems to want to provide us in this day and age, is an illusion.  We can never be totally secure, and the only way that we could be totally secure would be to involve the government in even the most minuscule details of our day-to-day lives.  I hardly think that the invasion of privacy would be worth the feeling of being completely insulated from terrorism.

As Robert P. Murphy writes in his article “The TSA’s False Tradeoff,” this can be explained by an economic comparison.  Using the old communist planned economies as an example and and then applying that to the TSA, we can see how flawed the current thinking about security really is.  Ludwig von Mises critiqued socialist planned economies by saying that it is impossible for government to decide the most efficient use of resources in the market.  For one thing, assuming that the government can do it better assumes that those in government are always going to do the right thing, which is clearly not the case.  It also assumes that it is possible to calculate the best places to allocate scarce resources, and it isn’t.   This is known as a calculation problem.  Murphy provides a car factory as an example.  This car factory is operating efficiently, and it uses steel, rubber, and other things to produce cars that the citizens enjoy.  However, who is to say that those resources couldn’t be diverted elsewhere to create products that the citizens would enjoy even more?  This is the point where one should have an “a-ha” moment, as many of you will recall tales of goods shortages back in the USSR.  Ultimately, the market is a better planner than the government could ever be.

Let’s take this knowledge and apply it to our situation with the TSA.  Murphy points out to us that even if there is never another terrorist incident involving airplanes, it doesn’t necessarily prove the effectiveness of the TSA.  To start with, it is possible that there are other methods – less invasive methods – of providing security that don’t harass and cause discomfort to travelers.

Murphy goes on to note, however, that it is possible that “the ‘efficient’ number of terrorists – for the rest of US history – is not zero.”  In other words, no matter what we do, it is always possible that terrorists will find ways to evade the system and cause harm.  Murphy asserts that we are asking the wrong question when we ask exactly how much security we need to be safe.  The answer is that there is no answer, because nobody – not even a bloated, self-important government who will promise the moon – can ensure safety.

What might happen if security was taken over by private companies and left out of the hands of the government?  For example, what if some Americans would be willing to fly on a cheaper airline that provided minimal or no security, in exchange for the low cost?  One would be completely responsible for the fact that one chose that airline, and in buying one’s ticket and taking the ride, one would agree to the terms of flying with a minimum-security airline?  Conversely, if a flyer felt that he/she wanted the extra security, that individual could pay extra and fly on the airline that gives you a pat-down and body scan as part of its boarding procedure.

Murphy points out that some may ask the question: What happens if one of these low-security planes is boarded by a terrorist, which ends up causing massive damage to people and/or property?  Wouldn’t the airlines insurers potentially face bankruptcy?  Murphy replies with this question: What happens to the TSA if a terrorist boards a plane and causes damages to people and/or property?  Will the TSA be gotten rid of?  Have their budget cut?  Will John Pistole be fired?  Will the government be forced to pay damages?  Of course, in the case that it will pay damages, one must also take into account the fact that it is essentially the tax payers being forced to pay for compensation.

Another issue to look at that Murphy doesn’t go into is the effect it has on the population as a whole.  Although you may not view it in this light, by allowing yourself to be patted down or scanned, you are allowing yourself to be viewed as guilty until proven innocent, which is not a principle upon which our system was founded.  If everyone is guilty until they prove themselves innocent, then we are all potential terrorists in the eyes of the government.  We are all criminals.  Does this sound like the United States to you?  Frankly, it reminds me a lot more of Cold War Russia.  Is this what our government is trying to do – to force us, especially our young people, into believing that we are all criminals and deserve to be treated as such?  That is not the country in which I was raised, and that is not how I want my children to be raised.

On top of all of this, we have no idea what sorts of long-term effects those high-level radiation scanners may have on the passengers or the TSA operators.  What we do know is that repeated exposure to high doses of radiation is extremely detrimental to a person’s health, and may cause cancer, among other things.

Not exactly a pretty picture, is it?  We are giving up our privacy and freedom in the hopes that we can be protected from an enemy we can’t see or can even be sure exists.  However, there is one force against which we must always be vigilant, and that is the force of government, which by its very nature seeks to usurp and control.  It is time that the American people ask themselves if this is really what they want for themselves and their country.  Will we retake our freedom and accept the risks that are inherent to human life, or will we shrink from confrontation and content ourselves to be “safe” at the price of our freedom?  I don’t know about you, dear readers, but for me, it’s no question at all.

If you would like to read the source article, click the link below:

Robert P. Murphy: “The TSA’s False Tradeoff”

The NDAA & Obama’s Demagoguery

I have posted previously on the NDAA – the National Defense Authorization Act – which was passed by the Senate back in November and was signed by President Obama on New Year’s Eve.  I guess that was intended to be the final and sincerest middle finger of 2011 to the American people and the US Constitution.

The bill, as I’ve said before, was written by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI).  Prior to this new information I have just found, I was ready to lay the bulk of the blame for its loose language and detention of US citizens at their doorstep.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, I was wrong.  As it turns out, Senator Carl Levin received a letter from the office of the President back when this bill was still in committee.  The letter stated that President Obama wanted – yes, wanted! – the indefinite detention clauses added to the bill.  In case you have forgotten, those clauses are sections 1031 and 1032, respectively.

President Obama publicly stated that he intended to veto the bill, which obviously didn’t happen.  He also stated that he had serious reservations about the indefinite detention sections.  Once again, the President has blatantly and knowingly lied to the American people.  Senator Levin went on record speaking to Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), stating that he received the same aforementioned letter from the president requesting the addition of sections 1031 and 1032.  Apparently, McCain and Levin had no plans for those sections in the beginning.

If this is the so-called “change” that Obama promised, he can keep it and shove it where the sun don’t shine.  For everyone who has ever defended this president, called him a champion of liberty, or called him a man of peace, they are either fools or blind, deaf, and dumb.  President Obama is no friend to freedom, nor is he a friend to the American people.  He is a liar, a traitor, and a demagogue of the worst sort.  He must be voted out.

I found a great video that includes Senator Levin’s chat with Senator Kirk.  It also includes an excellent analysis of what went down behind the scenes.  It appears to be from a local news station.  I need to find out more about where they are, but props to this anchorman for getting out the truth to the American people.  I am still attempting to find a copy of the letter sent to Senator Levin, but something tells me that it’s going to be a difficult, if not impossible, item to find.  Stay tuned…

Reality Check: Obama Ordered Sections 1031 & 1032 of the NDAA

Get Out Your Tinfoil Hats… Erm, Wallets…

I love conspiracy theories.  Some of them I’ll ascribe some grains of truth to, and some are just fun to read (see David Icke’s reptilian theory).  I figure that just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get me.  One particular item that seemed like a crazy conspiracy theory several years ago is now popping up as a reality: the RFID chip.

RFID stands for radio frequency identification chip.  RFIDs skyrocketed to infamy when various folks out there claimed that RFIDs were/are going to be implanted into people to track their movements, buying habits, etc.  Well, the FDA has approved RFIDs for personal implantation, but I don’t think the trend has caught on yet.  That said, I also don’t believe that it’s totally out of the realm of possibility for someone to suggest that they be used in this manner at some point in the future.

RFIDs are little bitty chips that can be scanned and read from (as of 2005) as far away as about 65-70 feet.  Most of them don’t have their own power supply; they “come to life” when the scanner activates them.  They can be programmed with information like serial numbers, barcodes, or identification for individuals.

As it stands today, RFIDs are used in things like passports (mine is old and doesn’t have one, but my husband’s UK passport does), credit cards (Chase bank uses them), drivers’  licenses, clothes, and other items.  Wait, clothes?! you say, bewildered.  You betcha!  Wal-Mart began a policy starting last year that they chip all of their clothes in all of their stores to prevent shoplifting.  American Apparel apparently does the same thing with their tiny T-shirts.  Europe has been doing it for some time, but the RFIDs are removed upon checkout and reused, which seems sensible enough to me.  Wal-Mart RFIDs are not removed upon purchase.  It seems it would be your job to remove the RFID, assuming you even know it’s there at all.

Many people are becoming increasingly uneasy about RFIDs.  While the technology certainly saves a few seconds and makes things more convenient, people are wondering if the benefits outweigh the risk of identity theft.  If most Wal-Mart items are embedded with RFID chips, someone with a scanner – they aren’t that hard to make, apparently – could theoretically go through your trash and know what you’ve been purchasing.  For items such as IDs and credit cards, the risk is more upfront: someone with a chip reader could access your information and use it do any number of sundry and decidedly inconvenient things.

With passports, drivers’ licenses, and things like the Florida Sun Pass (Florida tollway card), how easy will it be for someone to steal our information?  Do we really want the government or whatever subcontractor they’ve hired to do the job nosing through all of our information?  They say that for states on borders, such as California, where many people cross the border for work and/or pleasure with some degree of frequency, it will make things easier. But again, is it worth the risk for this convenience?  Also, theoretically, RFID chips in passports and such could be activated from just about anywhere. The government could potentially track you at any time.  Is this really what we want?

Of course, in response to the concerns about identity theft, at least one company has popped up that makes RFID scan-proof wallets and passport holders.  They aren’t super-pricy, although I would make no claims about whether or not they work.  Of course, you can also just make your own from aluminum and duct tape.  (I had a duct tape wallet in high school.  It was classy.)   Aluminum?! you cry.  Do I have to be a card-carrying tinfoil-hat-wearer now, Lady?  Well, no.  You could shell out $30-$40 and get the classy leather wallet.  But the aluminum – or copper or any other metal – has the effect of creating a mini Farraday cage.  In other words, it keeps unwanted signals from activating the RFID and reaching your precious information.  And I’m not saying “precious” lightly – anyone who has ever had to deal with identity theft knows what a royal and costly pain in the posterior it can be!

I am in Asia, and I can say now with certainty that RFIDs are being used here.  How do I know?  I found one in my school classroom that had fallen off or been ripped off of a piece of clothing that one of my kids was wearing.  I happened to see that it had “RFID” printed in bold letters on the side.  I snatched it up, brought it home, and took a picture so that all of you readers can see what they look like when they come attached to a clothing label.  They are incredibly tiny, and if you weren’t looking for it, you’d likely never realize it was there.

So what’s my point in writing this article?  Information.  I don’t want to scare anybody.  I’m not insinuating that the government wants to chip everyone, although I also don’t rule that out as a possibility later on down the line.  They are beginning to appear in everyday items, and they do carry a risk factor when used in conjunction with personal ID.  I think everyone should be aware of them, and I think that you should be able to make the decision whether or not you want to frequent a merchant who chips their clothing.  I also think you should be armed with the knowledge of possible risks, especially when traveling in busy airports with unknowns all around you or shopping in giant stores, where you never know who is looking for their next naive target.  As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

Here is our little RFID friend (or foe):

This is an RFID chip I found in my school. I assume it came from a clothing item.

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