How many time have you seen a story about a high-profile divorce case where a party was caught committing adultery because the adulterer's calls to the cell phone plan were suspicious? How many times have text messages implicated someone committing adultery? These are relatively low-level ways to expose misbehavior, and the investigations were done by your average person-on-the-street, not national security professionals.
House Speaker John Boehner had this to say about the man who leaked the information to the media: "He's a traitor. The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are. And it's a giant violation of the law."
Come on, let's not be drama queens about this. The question here is obvious. Do you really think that Muslim terrorists don't think that the U.S. government might be monitoring their cell or land-line phones, Skype conversations, text messages, electronic mail and other things?
The idea that the government could be collecting "metadata" on phone calls made or monitoring Internet traffic is not exactly a new thing. None of us should be surprised that the government has this capability or could be using it against Muslim terrorists or state actors (such as Iran) that we deem hostile. We already know that China has been hacking into our computers and stealing data, so of course we would do that to foreign enemies.
What is new here (though not exactly surprising) is that the government is collecting this data on American citizens who are suspected of no wrongdoing. That is why this leak is valuable, because it shows how little respect the Obama administration has for our privacy and our Fourth Amendment rights. Frankly, it is none of Barack Obama's business if I make a phone call to Jimmy John's and order a sandwich.
Ideally, Congress should act and pull back the administration's powers, especially relating to collecting data on tens of millions of American citizens who have committed no crime and are not even suspected of doing so. Law enforcement has been able to wiretap for years, but (at least before 9/11) it was generally thought that a warrant was necessary. Let's restore the rule of law and respect the Constitution.
After a report on the June 9 edition of NBC Nightly so-called "News" regarding the trial of George Zimmerman, the anchor said this: "We should note that George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal, the parent company of this network for defamation. The company has strongly denied his allegations."
There is nothing that can be denied with any credibility.
In the days following the confrontation between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin that resulted in Martin's death, there was a media frenzy painting Zimmerman as a racist murderer. (Much to my shame, I bought into the hype.) NBC so-called "News" fueled it by maliciously mutilating the recording of Zimmerman's 911 call. This is what was actually said on the 911 call:
- Zimmerman: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. Or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about."
- 911 Operator: "OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?"
- Zimmerman: "He looks black."
After NBC's malicious mutilation of the recording, it sounded like this: "This guy looks like he’s up to no good... He looks black."
If NBC so-called"News" had any integrity whatsoever, they would not deny any allegations, because the malicious mutilation of the recording has been extremely well-documented for well over a year. They flagrantly lied about what Zimmerman said in order to advance an agenda - an incredibly stupid and clumsy lie, because the 911 tape was public record and their lies were almost immediately exposed and universally condemned.
Does NBC so-called "News" want to be seen as a credible source of information, not mutilated or fabricated to advance a political agenda? Then they should settle with Zimmerman and compensate him for the harm they caused with their shameless and despicable lies. The fact that they have "strongly denied" the allegations that everyone knows are true proves to the world exactly who and what they are.
The president of the Indiana Beverage Alliance recently wrote a guest editorial that was published in various newspapers around the state, defending the state's alcohol laws - specifically the ban on Sunday sales of alcohol - by making the argument that such laws prevent alcohol abuse.
This is a disingenuous, self-serving argument. The IBA's purpose in defending the state's "blue laws" is to protect liquor stores from competition, not to prevent alcohol abuse or prevent watering down regulations for the public good.
Liquor stores are closed on Sundays, while grocery stores are not. If the ban in Sunday sales was repealed, they would have to open on Sundays in order to be competitive, and with that comes costs such as salary and utility expenses. So the liquor aisles of supermarkets that are open twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week sit idle so the liquor stores do not need to compete. This is corporate welfare by regulation, nothing more.
In the years after Prohibition was repealed, the laws might have made sense. The laws do not make sense in 2013, when bars are open on Sundays and people can easily stock up on alcohol on Friday or Saturday. Alcohol abuse is not going to increase if the Sunday sales ban is repealed, and families will not see a significant portion of their breadwinner's earnings going to "demon rum" instead of paying for food, clothing and shelter.
It should not be the role of state government to play favorites in the market with laws and regulations that tilt the playing field in favor of some businesses over others. The "blue laws" have been out of date for decades now and serve only as regulatory corporate welfare. This should be fixed, both for business and consumers. The Republican Party has a supermajority on both houses and a Republican governor, so there is no reason this should not be repealed.
My latest post on Hoosier Access:
One would think that people would not need to be reminded of these facts, which should be common knowledge. But with the coverage of and debate over the government tapping into phone records – something that the Obama administration has defended – and allegedly snooping on Internet traffic through Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft, you would think it was still 2008 and candidate Obama was running for office and assuring us that he will respect civil liberties and change the course of the Bush policies.
So let us make something very clear. The snooping into our private phone records is an Obama program.
Read more at Hoosier Access.
I went and saw the new Star Trek movie on opening weekend, and I wore my red shirt. (Yes, I am a nerd.) It is an excellent (if imperfect) movie, and I would recommend it to any Star Trek fan or science fiction fan in general. While I normally hate reboots, establishing this as an alternate universe was a good move as it keeps the existing timeline intact. It also gives Kirk and company an opportunity to interact with some of the races that were not created until decades after the original series, such as the Cardassians, the Borg and my favorite, the Ferengi.
This will not be a full review, just a couple observations.
First, bringing back the old style "flip" communicators was a bad decision that strains the suspension of disbelief. We have smartphones today that can browse the web, support video chat, send electronic mail and do a wide variety of other things. The voice-only communicators are several steps behind my basic cell phone that is a half-dozen years old. This is supposed to be a futuristic, science fiction setting where technology is 250 years ahead of where we are today, yet the "cell phones" of the future are nowhere near as advanced as an iPhone?
Second, the way the Prime Directive is handled makes the Federation look completely and totally evil. Spock sets off a cold fusion device in the middle of a volcano that will wipe out all life on the planet if it erupts, and manages to prevent the eruption. Kirk is reprimanded and demoted for revealing the Enterprise and saving Spock because it is impossible to beam him out.
It makes sense that Kirk would be expected to allow Spock to die, but reprimanding Kirk for stopping the eruption makes no sense. Is the Federation's devotion so complete that they will allow hundreds of millions (if not billions) of sentient beings to be annihilated by a planet-destroying volcano? Does the principle of non-intervention with less advanced species include standing by silently and watching a global extermination event happen and not doing anything to stop it, despite having the technology to save those lives?
The principle of non-intervention makes sense, but taking it to that extreme is evil. It makes no sense that nobody would call out the federation on this evil philosophy. It would have been more realistic for Kirk to resign his commission in Starfleet rather than go along with this evil policy, and have a serious debate about the limits of the Prime Directive. Simply casting Kirk as reckless and insubordinate is lazy, sloppy writing that could have been much better.
If 78 percent of people responding to a poll said that criticism of government officials should be limited or prohibited, would that justify infringing on the right to free speech? If that same 78 percent argued law enforcement should be able to enter and search our homes at any time for any reason without a warrant, would that justify government ignoring our Fourth Amendment rights?
I would hope most people would say no to those questions, though I am far from confident that a majority would. But even if that was the case, the reason our Constitution makes it illegal for government to infringe on our rights - and the reason that the amendment process is long and difficult - is so that popular whims do not enable government to overstep the boundaries of its authority.
If we say "no" to the above questions because we value our right to privacy and our right to free speech, why are we willing to cede our private property rights on the basis of a poll?
Of course, I am referring to a report by the Indianapolis Star that 78 percent of people in Marion County support the smoking ban that was enacted in Indianapolis one year ago, banning smoking in public places (including bars) with a few very limited exceptions. The state has a weaker smoking ban, passed by a Republican legislature and signed into law by a Republican governor two years ago.
No serious person questions the harmful effects of smoking, both on smokers themselves and those who inhale secondhand smoke. But the fact remains that the state of Indiana and many local units of government statewide have banned the use of a legal product on private property by consenting adults. Property owners do not have the choice of whether to allow consenting adults to use this product, as government has made the decision about what legal substances may be consumed on private property.
This is a bad law. This decision should not be made by property owners, not government. We have ceded too much authority to government to police what we may and may not do "for our own good." If you think this will stop with "public places," you are mistaken. The next step will be apartment buildings, and who knows where after that. Is this nanny state micromanagement really what we want?
Printed in the Herald-Times, June 9, 2013. (Comments)
To the Editor:
It is unfortunate that the MCCSC School Board has decided not to redraw the school board district maps that were approved in 1994.
In the time since that map was approved, two population counts by the U.S. Census have mandated redrawing of city and county council districts as well as state legislative and Congressional districts, but MCCSC is sticking with a map that is nearly twenty years old.
One of the reasons that the map was re-drawn in the first place is to balance population, and the populations of districts in the 1994 map are now wildly out of balance.
I simply cannot understand how one can look at the existing map and see it as defensible. The maps do not even pretend to be contiguous, with several islands of one district surrounded completely by another district and not touching the rest of the district.
You can see images of the full map and a more detailed map by following these two links: http://bit.ly/11IcNEn and http://bit.ly/15Fp68R.
If changing the map is really as expensive and time consuming as opponents of change say, why not replace districts with an at-large system? School Board members are already elected across all of MCCSC.
Teach your son to be a gentleman. If he's not a gentleman, he won't be able to attract the kind of woman you want for him, and the women who would be interested in him are not the kind of women you would want him to be with.
My latest post on Hoosier Access:
The Republican Party has done a lot of soul-searching after Mitt Romney’s loss last year, and there have been many arguments about what needs to be done to help the GOP win future elections. The most prominent recent entry into this debate is a report by the national College Republicans, which Abdul-Hakim Shabazz commented on last week in the Indianapolis Star. But the most important question has been pushed aside.
What is the right thing to do?
Read more at Hoosier Access.
The MCCSC School Board voted against reviewing the districts for school board members on May 29 after board member Sue Wanzer brought the issue up. Wanzer wanted to change the maps that were approved in 1994 - nearly twenty years ago - because of significant shifts in population. Wanzer pointed out that there is a range of population from 9,000 voters to 16,000 voters in the districts.
When the districts were approved in 1994, there was a lawsuit against the change, but the courts ruled in favor of MCCSC. At the time, the Herald-Times editorialized in favor of the maps, in part because of the balanced population of the districts. The population balance, of course, was one of the justifications for changing the maps.
That is an important point - districts that were redrawn twenty years ago to balance population are completely out of whack because of population shifts in the city and county. In the time since the MCCSC districts were redrawn, we have had two population counts from the U.S. Census that required state legislative and local government districts to be redrawn. It would be best practice to redraw the school board districts every ten years as well to ensure you do not have districts with dramatic differences in population.
I cannot see how anyone can look at the existing maps and defend what has been drawn, especially the fact that the districts are not contiguous. Was it really necessary to leave islands of one district inside another district? What purpose does that serve, in either policy or representation? Again, given that one of the purposes of redrawing the map in the first place was to balance population, what justification does this 1994 map have for 2013?
It is true that board members are elected at-large, so it is not the same situation as a county council or city council district map. Why have districts at all? Why not just dump the district system and allow everyone to run for the board? Some have complained that redrawing the map is a time-consuming and expensive process, and that problem would be eliminated by electing all members from a single pool of all voters in the county. Maps become outdated as our population grows, so that problem would be eliminated as well.
Whether the district map is redrawn or whether we go to an at-large system of electing board members, the current map is simply unacceptable and needs to be changed. In fact, it is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Redrawing the district map or going to an at-large system voluntarily would be less expensive than doing so after a lawsuit forces the school system to do so. Wanzer should bring it up again, and one of the four "no" votes needs to flip.
Every single time the dogs get a rawhide treat, it goes like this:
- Nano whines and waits until Tera is finished with her treat.
- Tera finishes her treat and Nano proceeds to eat his in front of her.
- Tera sees that Nano has a rawhide treat and takes it for herself.
- Nano whines at me because Tera took his treat.
- Nano gets banished into a closed room with his treat so I don't have to play bodyguard for 20 minutes.
Every single time, without exception.
Nano will never learn that taunting Tera with his rawhide treat results in her taking it away.
I hate having to change my font settings in Word and Excel when I get an upgrade to Microsoft Office! Why can't Microsoft figure out how to keep user settings the same when the office suite is upgraded?
I will say this: The fact that I can now view spreadsheets side-by-side is an excellent and much-needed new feature and a big improvement over the last version of Office. It was possible to do that before, but only by opening Excel a second time. It's much more convenient now.
Leftists on HeraldTimesOnline.com are furious when their posts get deleted and often whine about getting deleted. But an issue has come up regarding those of us who flag offensive content on HTO that raises serious questions about the newspaper. Specifically, who is the tattletale that is leaking abuse reports?
I have flagged posts that I believe violate the Terms of Service on HTO and I will continue to do so. Some of the posts I have flagged have been removed while others have not. One particular Leftist complained bitterly about a post that was deleted, but he is intelligent enough to know that posting crude and perverted fantasies about other posters' sex lives will likely result in his post getting deleted. Obviously the moderators thought it was over the line, as they removed it.
But there is an important question that the Herald-Times needs to answer.
Some posters have whined about specific posts I have flagged, especially posts that are a week or so old. Are reports to HTO moderators internal to H-T, or are they available to the public upon request? Are certain HTO moderators leaking abuse reports to sympathetic HTO subscribers to use against other HTO posters in the comments? If so, which HTO moderators are doing that? I sincerely hope that is not happening, but I see no other explanation for the knowledge certain HTO posters have about abuse reports.
One anonymous poster has twice referred to an e-mail that Bob Zaltsberg sent to me, copying Sarah Morin. Who has seen this e-mail beyond Herald-Times staff? Who is leaking these internal communications? Was it Zaltsberg, Morin, or someone else? Is this anonymous poster a Herald-Times employee? If so, does Zaltsberg understand how this kind of snitching creates extreme distrust of the Herald-Times by his customers? I wonder what Poynter would say about this from an ethical standpoint?
My latest post on Hoosier Access:
|It is absurd that Hibbert's "no homo" comment is getting more press than saying "MF." You would think he started screaming that "God hates fags" with Fred Phelps at his side from the reaction he is getting. I listened to that clip three times and never could hear the "no homo" comment. I had to listen with the transcript in front of me to hear where he said it.|
Read more at Hoosier Access.