Monday, June 10, 2013

Cruising the Web

Put together a couple of stories about cyber-reality and then start pondering what Conor Friedersdorf is wondering: "[w]hat if China hacks the NSA's massive data trove?" Or Russia or Pakistan?
Can anyone persuasively argue that it's virtually impossible for a foreign power to ever gain access to it? Can anyone persuasively argue that if they did gain access to years of private phone records, email, private files, and other data on millions of Americans, it wouldn't be hugely damaging?

Think of all the things the ruling class never thought we'd find out about the War on Terrorism that we now know. Why isn't the creation of this data trove just the latest shortsighted action by national security officials who constantly overestimate how much of what they do can be kept secret? Suggested rule of thumb: Don't create a dataset of choice that you can't bear to have breached.
Of course, they could be hacking into out credit card or phone records event without the NSA program.

William A. Jacobson has another concern that the recent stories about the IRS makes much more believable than we might have thought a few weeks ago.
But I’m also concerned with what could be done with the information gathered about American citizens not suspected of a crime if put into the hands of politicians and political groups, and bureaucrats who work for or are sympathetic to such politicians and political groups.

The threat, oddly enough, is proven by the leaks which (allegedly) exposed the programs and were provided to Glenn Greenwald. If some government employee who has sworn to keep information secret is willing to leak the information to Glenn Greenwald for (allegedly) good purposes, what’s to stop that person from violating his or her oath by leaking data-mined information to Glenn Greenwald or Media Matters or the Human Rights Campaign for other than good reasons about a Tea Party group, religious figure or conservative politician?

In the age of Obama and the unique mainstream media disinterest in anything that damages Obama, this already has resulted in a flourishing culture of intimidation directed at the Tea Party, traditional marriage supporters, conservatives, and other opponents of Obama and the Obama agenda.

A point discussed here many times is the criminalization of life, particularly with regard to gun laws. Professor Glenn Reynolds has made the point more generally in his paper Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything is a Crime.
President Obama said we should have a national discussion about these issues. These are some of the concerns I'd like to hear addressed. It all comes down to how much we trust our government. And we should all be much more suspicious of the reach of our government.

Perhaps Chris Christie is a lot smarter than we might have imagined.

Four senators demonstrate that they can work across party lines to save the government money.

Lee Habeeb and Mike Leven explore what is happening with the "Luca Brasi Bureaucrats" throughout our government.
The worst offense in this IRS scandal hasn’t been the manner in which conservative organizations were targeted for review and blocked from participating in two election cycles. No, disenfranchisement of conservative nonprofits wasn’t the IRS’s biggest sin; it was the “outing” of conservative donors who were promised anonymity, and whose anonymity is protected by an important Supreme Court case.
Read the rest.

Chris Matthews, lately heard stating that Jefferson Davis is a Republican, now proves that it isn't only history he is ignorant of. He also has a problem with current events as he chastised us about what a disgrace it is that we "don't have any African Americans in the United States Senate." What a dunce! He's not only ignorant, but he's happy to rant away based on his false assertions.

So why does a 29-year old guy without a high-school degree working for a private company have access to so many of our government secrets? And could someone so concerned about free speech think that in fleeing to China, he is now in a country with a commitment to free speech? As Max Boot writes,
It is a cardinal irony that Snowden, a self-styled martyr to Internet freedom, has taken refuge in a country (China) that does more to restrict the Internet than any other major country and has far more intrusive electronic surveillance than anything the NSA could possibly dream up. If he thinks he can elude Chinese intelligence by typing in passwords with a bag over his head, he is deeply ignorant of how sophisticated the Chinese government is in tapping into cell phones and computers. They don’t even need physical access to download everything he has in his hard drive.

So contrast two guitar companies, one that contributes to Republicans and one that contributes to Democrats. Both use the same type of exotic wood for their guitars. And only one of them got raided by the DOJ and Department of the Interior wearing SWAT gear and seizing company assets and ended up having to pay a big fine. The other one hasn't had a problem with the government. In light of the IRS story, it makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Something to celebrate: the decline of Putin's petro-state.