You aren't the only one reading this….

I will be the first one to admit that I have had my head in the sand when it comes to my own government spying on it’s own citizens.  There are two clear mindsets when it comes to this kind of thing:  The people that are completely paranoid of privacy and think everything is being tracked and traced and those who think that as long as you aren’t doing anything wrong, let the government find the bad guys and process them through the legal system.

I was certainly on the later spectrum, until I watched #citizenfour.

Now, there is a third spectrum, I still believe that the latter should be the right approach to how we deal with surveillance, but the fact is that the government is tracking everything that we do both as a collective as well as individuals to track what you do, how you do it and where you do it.  Sounds overly paranoid, doesn’t it?  The argument that I used to use against these types of doomsday arguments was pretty simple– sure the government can and does collect the “meta” data that we are all on our smartphones and we are all doing these kinds of things and as long as you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, everything is fine, because at the end of it all, the government doesn’t have the resources it would have to have to segment the data into something it could build up a case against someone in a court of law, given our laws set to protect us.

Except during the Obama administration, that has all changed.

That’s right Obama.

Obama has allowed secret judicial courts, outside of the normal judicial branch, to authorize search warrants that a normal court would reject on the grounds that it would be considered spying on its own citizens.  So its creates special courts that authorize such things in the name of national security, which supposedly allows them to use this “meta” data to find evil.  Take the brothers who off those bombs at the Boston marathon.  Those guys were caught and apprehended by use of the secret court system to authorize a data breach in order to find them as quickly as possible.  Still, they were terrorists, right?  An eye for eye, right?

What if this is just the beginning?  What if these secret courts continue to grow and prosper outside of the normal judicial process, extending what information they can gather and pull data from?  Computer information systems continue to get smarter by the ways that they are programmed for information, what was a massive pile of data just a couple of years ago can now be compiled to trace data right back to you, should the need arise.

Again, this all seems very doomsday to me, and it should.  The final layer for me is thinking about my own finances.  How much money do you have that is completely untraceable right now?  How much cash, real cash, do you have?  Think about that for a moment– if you were accused of any crime right now as you are reading this— anything that would warrant it– estimates that it would take 2-3 hours to have every electronic asset frozen through a search warrant.  That means that all of your banking, credit cards and payments are on hold pending an inquest– and if it is serious enough, that could be a long time, all those assets aren’t accessible.

Again, paranoia…. I know… But here is what is scary:  If you are in the right place at the wrong time and something happens and your particular profile in the meta data is pulled, your entire world could be frozen in a matter of hours.  Now to an overweight, white male like myself, I am not overly worried, but I can think of any number of people I know, Muslim or foreign folks, if I were them, I would only start dealing in cash.. but then guess what?  Yep, target.  If your profile suddenly changes and you go from me, where I pay most things on a piece of plastic to paying off all my cards and not charging anything and only paying the minimum amounts via a bank account, you could end up on a watch list– and as #citizenfour points out, once you end up on a watch list, everywhere you show ID becomes a hassle– especially an airport.

The documentary does a great job of pointing all of this out– its all right there in front of us but we ignore it– we don’t think it concerns us and maybe at this point, it is for the greater good, but we have given up so many of our civil liberties at this point, pieces of government that people fought for generations before us to make sure we had freedoms that made us Americans– so in the end, the terrorists have taken much more than just innocent lives from us– they are slowing taking our free government away and leaving us with a paranoid government that will continue to make up the rules as it goes along and we accept it and that isn’t acceptable… My hope is that House of Cards eventually covers this– then MAYBE we might start to pay attention.

Watch citizenfour. Consider it your patriotic duty.

On Obama…

After years of campaigning relentlessly for the candidates and their armies of people, the war was won handily by the democrats. I, like most of the people, am glad its over.
I am also happy that it wasn’t close, that we didn’t have to wait all night to realize who the next leader would be– the message was clearer than it ever has been in my entire life– the words of the American spoken as close to unison as we have seen in quite some time– and that message was clear- Obama.
The biggest thing that we can hope for in the this country is that we begin to once again begin the process of functioning like the America that I remember– a land with prosperity, a place where people wanted to come to attempt the American dream– a place of freedom. The last eight years have really turned people against each other because most people were seemingly unhappy about something– and it seemed like Tuesday night we gained our souls back again, the balance of power from eight years of misrepresented government washed away in the hopes of our new leader.
Barrack Obama is legit– that is the best way to describe it– he is the perfect leader of our country and will open up so many options for all of us because he will not need to be guided through the rough world of politics– his biggest financial backer are the American people, people like you and I, people who donated our actual income to this man because the basic things that he thinks and says are exactly what we are saying and thinking.
It just feels good to be an American again.

…from Redmond.

I have decided to start using the title of each posting as where I am posting it from… So today, its …from Redmond as I am sitting in my office in building 28 of the Micrsoft campus working on a release of something new for MS (but thats all I will say on the internets about it).

I have been spending much of my days frustrated and unable to write about whats happening politically in our country because I think we are all suffering greatly from the sensory overload that the upcoming election is having upon us.

It feels good to just pull away from all of the pure bullshit and not think about it–because for most of us, its just depressing that these are the best that America offers up to the highest position in the land.

Don’t get me wrong. This is the first time in my entire life that I have felt connected to a candidate and that I mostly agree with– I really do think that Obama as president will do one major thing for the rest of this country above all others–and that is bring hope and trust back into politics. The two foundations of our entire way of life is based on two basic principals: Hope and Trust. Both of these things have been erased by the previous administration and we need to get it back to an even playfield.

Ooooh the Politics of it all…

So here we are in the middle of the political season and this will be remembered as one of the most disjointed runs for the presidency since… well, I would think if it had to be compared to another time, then since the civil war.
The republican party is in the midst of one of the hardest attempts to retain its control on the oval office and carry out a failed agenda that has been going on since the Reagan years, if not sooner. However, they know that this agenda is not going to work and now they are trying to distance themselves as far away from themselves as they can and still call themselves the GOP.
I don’t know, to be terribly honest.
The biggest thing I can see is that the power of the GOP sees that the only way to compete in this election is to launch a marketing campaign that shows that this is the new Republican Party!
…and what a new party it is. They end up with McCain, who is now being heralded as a “maverick” by the very institution that he belongs to– it seems like such a weird and twisted concept and one that I cannot seem to understand how people are going to fall for this.
..and this was before Sarah Palin entered the picture. This is like the greatest gift to the Dem’s that anyone could ask for– and such a pitiful move on the part of the McCain camp who barely investigated this woman before rolling her out to the American public. Everyday since the announcement there have been new and exciting revelations about the Annie Oakley of American politics– the moose shooting hockey mom that went against the corrupt and bribe ridden establishment of Alaska in just two short years!
This is a clear smoke signal to distract the American people from the issues–instead we focus more on the hockey mom and her non-birth control family that is growing by the day (oh wait, were supposed to leave her family affairs out of this), her record of two years as Governor and previous years as a mayor of a town smaller than my graduating class at University, and the years before where she actually supported Alaska attempting to resign from the 50 states, among many other little quips– this woman even makes my liberal leaning brain turn a bit conservative.
Not too mention her belief in drilling in Alaska–NPR did a great job of researching the fact that Palin went against Bush in his attempts to put the Polar bear on the endangered species list, because it would interfere with Oil exploration.
The last eight years I keep wondering to myself how the hell this could have happened, but now I realize its because people are so aloof when it comes to these issues and the politicians work hard to market their candidate in just the right way so that it confuses that middle ground where we all should be.
These two yahoos just make my pick from six months ago, Mr. Joe Biden, look like the patron saint to the people.. Think what you want about Obama, but he clearly has the backing of the Kennedy powerhouse in this campaign–and that family is one that all of us at one point in our lives have thought somewhat highly about. This question about the ability to lead the country is just such a crock to me– is W. really fit to lead as commander in chief?
Yet, we elected (sort of) to two terms of service.
Is experience really that relevant?
Its all about leadership I think– someone that is going to respected in the INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY and can also reach out to Americans–and this person is Obama. Having just been married in Germany, I can tell you that people across the globe are really inspired and hopeful and excited about

Obama/Hillary '08, thoughts…

While in Germany, I have the chance to look at the presidental race from afar and I can tell you that the world seems to abuzz over Obama, so it seems that with or without Clinton, the White House is his to have.

However, I would be stupid to think that the republicans are going to go down easy as a democratic president with the power of a guy like Obama will show the world just how underminded and criminal the last eight years of American politics have been.

The question is, does Hillary pose a greater threat to the candidate than she is an asset? Will she try to steal the show or will she help groom the incoming Senator from Illinois? The questions seem simple enough, but only one thing is for certain: If the democratic leadership and Obama choose Clinton, they will see more voters that come out to vote republican because of this media fed hatred that the Clintons have in the public persona.

Personally, I love Bill and I think he has been nothing but stellar on the campaign as he has no problems in calling things the way that he sees them, which further upsets the right and fuels a fire, which in turn looks negitivly on the Clinton campaign.

The fact is, I am disapointed with Hillary. She had this thing in the bag and was conditioned for this run, groomed for it since moving to New York and running for president, but I think she went against her own judgement and entered the race too early and was a little too cocky about it. She stopped appealing to me fairly early on in her campaign because I think she lost her personality and wasn’t having a conversation with America, but moreso a lecture to the American people. She is a part of the old party, ie John Kerry, Al Gore, etc that the Average Joe has an issue seeing eye to eye with. Obama’s lack of experience translates into the same thing that real world Americans can see, passion and compassion. Somewhere along the line, Hillary looks like she lost that–and I don’t think she really did, but her people made it seem like she did.

The fact is, this was the highest turnout in history and this slapdicks that work for the DNC need to work hard to keep that momentum alive and keep McCain, a guy that has tried so many times to run for the top seed, seem like the tired old man he really is.

There is something so stately about Obama and he carries himself well, with his stories and they way he reacts with the press and the public–its hard not to compare him to the late greats of American Political history. One thing about Hillary that was never really looked at was that she doesn’t have any political leaders before her to mimick–she was walking the road herself.

Which is where I am dissapointed and worried. Race and gender have the same issues, but in this campaign in woman versus black man, the race card won. I am worried now that there isn’t a gender card, McCain and the Republicans are going to have to get into race if they want plan to win. However, this is a slippery slope and not one that frail old McCain can handle. He would do well to keep selling himself as the new boss, same as the old boss, fear mongering, homeland security, talks don’t cure anything but bombs do, propogandizing Republicanism that he is famous for.

I don’t think this country is ready for the race discussion and I hope that it doesn’t turn into one, especially for international diplomacy, but the republicans are a desperate bunch.

For now, lets enjoy the moment. Either way, Obama should not be concerned with McCain if the game is played fairly, with or without Hillary. My personal choice is Joe Biden for vice-president.