Friday, June 28, 2013

Edward Snowden: Traitor or Hero?

Is Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor?  Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked information about the NSA, has been the subject of an international manhunt and a diplomatic nightmare since he first surfaced in early June.  The United States government has issued espionage warrants against Snowden but some things still don’t add up about the government’s case and about Snowden himself.

Let’s review what Snowden revealed.  He said the U.S. government was reading the e-mails of American citizens in the United States.  He claimed that if he had the president’s e-mail address it would be a simple matter of reading all of his e-mails.  The United States government said that was preposterous.  They claim they never look at anyone’s e-mail inside the United States unless they have a warrant.  But they claim Snowden has revealed top secret information.  If what Snowden is saying is a lie how could he have revealed top secret information?  Unless, of course, what Snowden is saying is true.

Snowden himself has some explaining to do.  Why would you leave a girlfriend in Hawaii and a family in the D.C. area, exposing them to who knows what because of your exploits, in exchange for a life on the run?  If your primary concern was Internet freedom why did you first seek refuge in China, a country with the world’s worst record when it comes to Internet freedom?

If Snowden has revealed top secret information he gleaned as an NSA contractor to Russia or China or some other American adversary then he’s a traitor.  If what he did was expose a snooping program that went far beyond what is legally and constitutionally allowed then he’s a hero.  Time will tell which one he is but in the meantime he may have changed the trajectory of technology forever.

Prior to the Snowden leaks most Americans were unconcerned about the loss of their privacy.  Staying connected, we had rationalized, came with a price.  Most never realized how high that price was.  Some called me paranoid when I affixed a strip of black tape over the camera hole on my laptop.  Through something known as clickjacking, a hacker can trick you into inadvertently giving him permission to access your webcam by fooling you into thinking you’re just clicking to play a video.  Once you’ve been duped that hacker can watch you on your webcam.  Very scary.  Thousands of you are heading for the electrical tape right now.

The net effect of the Snowden leaks may be a massive pullback from technology.  Futurists have been predicting things like tiny chips that turn everything in your house into an Internet-ready device.  Knowing just how pervasive spying is, not just by governments but by the big Internet companies, gives pause to all of this innovation.  If you’ve ever been snow skiing you know the feeling of the skis getting out from under you.  It’s a helpless feeling.  Right now many of us feel like technology has gotten out from under us.  We’ve lost control and it’s downright frightening.

Technology is a wonderful thing when it’s harnessed correctly.  It can make life so much easier, so much more fun, so much more fulfilling.  When it’s out of control it can be our worst enemy.  It can be used to control our every move, to report to the government when we’re not doing what it thinks we ought to be doing.  It can literally be used against us in a court of law.

We may be pulling back just before disaster strikes.  If we are, we probably have Edward Snowden to thank for it.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Supreme Court ruled correctly on Voting Rights Act

Just for background, the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed to make sure areas of the country that were prohibiting blacks from voting would have to prove to Washington that they were no longer engaging in such tactics.  It was a good law.  It was a necessary law.

Is it still necessary?  Probably not but the Supreme Court did not strike down the law per se.  It merely said the federal government can no longer use election data from 1972 to decide which parts of the country must seek Washington's approval for changes in election procedures.

Times have certainly changed since 1972.  The reason Democrats don't want to acknowledge that is because they have been using the Voting Rights Act to commit voter fraud.  Most people with good sense understand the logic in requiring someone to show their ID when they vote.  Democrats have used the Voting Rights Act to prohibit certain areas that were under its control from changing their laws to require voter ID.

Make no mistake about it.  The only reason one could possibly oppose voter ID is because they want people who aren't supposed to be voting to vote.  They say it's an undue burden and have filed lawsuits to stop it but not once have they filed lawsuits to stop stores from carding people when buying alcohol.  Not once have they filed a lawsuit saying it's an undue burden to require someone to show an ID when cashing a check or using a credit card or buying cigarettes.  These are certainly things that occur with much more regularity than voting.  If it were really about some kind of undue burden then why haven't they challenged these other instances where you're required to show your ID?

No, you see, proponents of not changing the Voting Rights Act to reflect modern times wanted to use antiquated data from an ugly era in our history to get as many Democrats elected as possible.  That's what this argument has been about.  It's shameful that such an important piece of legislation has been used in such a despicable manner.  But it shouldn't come as such a surprise.  The NAACP is now the NAAPC.  It's no longer about the advancement of colored people.  It's about the advancement of political correctness.

Don't believe me?  Ask Clarence Thomas and Condi Rice.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Stop overcomplicating the illegal immigration problem

House Speaker John Boehner has drawn a line in the sand on the Senate’s Gang of 8 bill or any bill, for that matter, that deals with illegal immigration.  He will follow the Hastert Rule.  The Hastert Rule, named for former Speaker Dennis Hastert, means that a bill will not be brought up for a vote unless it has majority support from the majority.  In other words, a majority of Republicans would have to support a particular bill before Boehner would allow a vote.

Of course, had Boehner invoked the Hastert Rule before we wouldn’t have seen a tax increase.

I’m, quite frankly, sick and tired of hearing that the illegal immigration problem is complicated.  It’s very simple.  If you broke into this country you have to leave and apply to come in the right way.  Ah, but we can’t deport 11 million people, they say.  That’s ridiculous.  We didn’t pay to import them, we won’t have to pay to deport them.  All we have to do is do what I’ve been advocating for at least ten years: Demagnetize America.

You cut off the magnets that brought these people here.  Why did they come in the first place?  Because of the magnets; the jobs and the government benefits.  You cut those off and they go home.  If the penalty for hiring an illegal alien is you lose your business license then you would never risk hiring an illegal alien.  This needs to be a federal law.  We make E-Verify mandatory.  E-Verify is a program run by Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.  It is Internet-based, simple to use and free.  In a matter of seconds an employer can check on a potential employee and make sure they’re legal.  If there’s a problem the employee has 8 business days to present the proper documentation to straighten the problem out.  Many states are already using this for state employees and it’s the law of the land for federal employees.

With E-Verify there is no excuse in hiring an illegal alien.  If the penalty is the loss of your business you’ll make double sure you’re hiring only legal workers.  If we also make it illegal to provide government benefits to illegal aliens other than emergency services then the problem is solved overnight.

Think about it.  If you were told by your employer that you could not work in this state any longer what would you do?  You’d pack up immediately and move to another state.  That’s what we do with Demagnetize America.  We give all of the illegals and their employers six months to put their personal and financial affairs in order then we start cracking down.  Simultaneously, we secure the borders.  We put some of that drone technology to good use – unarmed, of course.  We bring our boys back from Afghanistan and we put them on the border doing something that directly affects our national security.  The drug-running stops.  The terrorists stop sneaking across our borders.  The illegals who are here go home and anyone coming to this country comes the right way.

The unemployment problem all but evaporates.  With people back to work we’re able to drastically cut the welfare programs and get the economy moving.  If only Congress were proposing all of this.  What we’re trying to do is to stop them from making the problem even worse by legalizing 11 to 20 million illegal aliens.

The good news is John Boehner is standing between us and a country-crippling illegal immigration law.  The bad news is only John Boehner is standing between us and a country-crippling illegal immigration law.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A model of climate hysteria

‘What to Make of a Warming Plateau.’  That was the headline recently in the New York Times.  Though the Times writer clung to the debunked theory that we as humans are causing the world to heat up the evidence is now swamping the global warming alarmists.

The Times calls what’s happening a “plateau” or a “slowdown.”  NPR said a few years ago that global warming was on vacation.  (And they weren’t even trying to be funny)  All this despite record amounts of what the alarmists keep telling us is ruining the planet: carbon dioxide.

It’s time to face the music.  The theory from Al Gore and the rest of the hysterics was that we were spewing CO2 into the atmosphere and the result was the planet was going to heat up.  We are spewing CO2.  It’s not a poison, by the way.  It’s what plants need in order to thrive.  Despite our spewing, temperatures are not rising.  In fact, all of the climate models have been wrong.

Dr. Roy Spencer and Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama-Huntsville have been tracking global temperatures for years.  They recently published a graph that plots 73 climate models and compares those models to the actual temperature trends taken from satellites since we’ve been tracking the earth’s temperature which started in 1979.  Every climate model was way off.  They all predicted a huge increase when temperatures, since we first started measuring with satellites, have been flat.

Why have the climate models been wrong?  Because they all assumed a cause-and-effect of carbon dioxide and temperature rise.  As CO2 levels have risen global temperatures have flattened out.  You don’t have to be a scientist to figure this one out.  Manmade CO2 has little or nothing to do with temperature.  There are so many other variables that have a much greater effect on global temperatures.

One of the major theories supported by Dr. Spencer is water vapor or global cloudiness.  Dr. Spencer refers to this as the sun shade.  Some scientists are studying how global cloudiness affects the global temperatures and they still don’t have a handle on it but they do believe this is where we should be concentrating our efforts rather than on CO2.

Another theory is an obvious one that, for some reason, is completely ignored by those determined to blame man for the destruction of the planet and that’s the sun.  The sun, naturally, is a huge determining factor in temperature.  How it behaves, even the slightest change, can have major repercussions on our planet.  The problem is if it’s the sun then there’s no one to blame and, in turn, no one from whom they can redistribute the wealth.

For, you see, that’s what this whole global warming argument has been about.  If Gore and the rest of the warmists can convince you that you’re to blame for destroying the planet then they can get you to go along with a carbon tax to atone for your sins.  The producers of energy will pay those who aren’t producing.  The money-changers who facilitate the transaction pocket the commission and become billionaires in the process.

It’s a brilliant plan.  There’s only one problem.  It’s all a lie and now the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost.  They were hoping they could frighten us with their climate models and force us into cap-and-trade laws but we were able to stall them for far too long.  Long enough for their climate models to be proven a complete hoax.

One sure-fire way to tell is someone is lying is to look at their track record.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Secret e-mail accounts belie transparency

Richard Windsor over at the Environmental Protection Agency received the agency’s recognition as a “scholar of ethical behavior.”  How ironic to learn that Richard Windsor never existed.  He was the e-mail alias for Lisa Jackson, the former EPA administrator.  A recognition for scholar of ethical behavior?  How ethical is that?

Mr. Windsor seems to be the norm within the Obama administration.  Some of the president’s political appointees, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, have been using alias e-mail addresses.  The Associated Press asked for a list of political appointees’ e-mail addresses under the Freedom of Information Act.  The Labor Department wanted to charge them $1 million.  Apparently with this administration freedom of information is not free.

And this was supposed to be the most transparent administration in history?

It’s obvious from the recent scandals exactly what’s going on.  If you can use your alias for your more, how should we say, ‘clandestine’ activities you can shield those activities from the press, even if you turn over all your e-mails under your real name.

The fact that the Labor Department wanted so much money for a simple list arouses suspicion that all is not above board in this administration.

Now with the revelation from Congressman Issa’s committee that there were no “rogue agents” who went after the tea party groups it’s clear to see how alias e-mail accounts could come in handy.  The “rogue agents” argument in the IRS scandal is starting to look like the “anti-Muslim video” argument in the Benghazi scandal.  The question is with all this obvious obfuscation will we ever really know what happened?

The AP has been trying to get a list of e-mail addresses from ten agencies including the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS.  Treasury has been dragging its feet for about three months.  The Treasury spokesman, by the way, is named Marissa Hopkins Secreto.  Perfect.  Sounds like the name for a Bond girl.

Several agencies have turned over some e-mail addresses but the lists are suspiciously incomplete.  The foot-dragging only compounds the suspicion in light of the IRS scandal where agents are now telling investigators that orders to single out conservative groups came from Washington.  How far up in Washington remains to be seen but we already know that the “two rogue agents” story was another fabrication.  Congressman Issa went so far as to refer to White House spokesman Jay Carney as “a paid liar.”

Having a second e-mail account is nothing unusual, especially for people in the public spotlight.  What’s bizarre is apparently EPA Administrator Jackson corresponded under the Richard Windsor pseudonym as Windsor, in some cases, never revealing her true identity to the people with whom she was corresponding.  What could possibly be the reason for that?

I’m sure the president will deny any knowledge of this, too, much as he has remained detached from the rest of the scandals swirling around him.  But, for how long can his plausible deniability remain plausible?  His senior advisors knew about the IRS investigation but didn’t tell him.  People all in his administration were unleashing the IRS on innocent people just because they didn’t like their politics and he had no idea.  Cabinet officials are apparently conducting official business behind some alias and he had no idea.  And don’t get me started on Benghazi.

If the president had no idea about any of this, in the very best light, it appears he was asleep at the switch.  As is typical with the Democrats, just saying you take responsibility seems to pass for punishment.  That is no longer acceptable nor is it sufficient.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Stop being so sensitive

I’m confused.  Someone needs to issue a rulebook when it comes to dealing with politically correct issues like homosexuality.  Indiana Pacers basketball star Roy Hibbert parenthetically inserted the term “no homo” into an answer to a question about his play in the NBA playoffs.  The term is supposedly used when one makes a comment that may lead one to infer something homosexual only to ensure that he is not.  For example, a typical use of the phrase would be "I absolutely love flowers (no homo) but my favorites are tulips."

Hibbert incurred the wrath of the PC world and was fined $75,000 by the NBA.  Granted, part of the fine was for referring to members of the media as mother f-ers because they hadn’t covered the Pacers to Hibbert’s liking but it was the “no homo” comment that caught the most attention.

You see, I always thought the term “queer” was offensive to homosexuals until I heard about the TV shows Queer as Folk and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, not to mention the organization Queer Nation.  Of course, were I, as a straight guy, to refer to someone homosexual as queer I’d probably be castigated like Roy Hibbert.

The term “fag” is apparently appropriate in certain cases, like the “Million Fag March” put on by homosexual activists each April.  However, if you use the term “faggot” like actress Amanda Bynes did in a tweet, then you hear about it from transvestite RuPaul.  RuPaul tweeted, “Derogatory slurs are ALWAYS an outward projection of a person’s own poisonous self-loathing.”  This from a guy who’s made a career out of dressing up like a woman.  Bynes shot back, “My dad is as ugly as RuPaul.  So thankful I look nothing like you both!”

I’m sure she’s in more hot water for dissing RuPaul than her own father.

Here’s the deal.  If homosexuals want to be treated like everybody else – and most I know do – stop being so overly sensitive about everything.  If your contention is that homosexuals are no different from anyone else then stop freaking out any time someone says something you perceive to be offensive.  I've never taken offense by the term "breeders," which is what some gays call straight folks.
Part of fitting in is not having a hissie-fit over everything you hear.  Maybe I'll start a new TV show: Straight Ear for the Queer Guy.