Welcome to 1984 — The CIA to spy on you through your TV

The CIA may soon have a new way to spy on Americans. According to a new report from Wired, the intelligence agency will be using the Internet through electronic devices, including TVs and alarm clocks, to pry into our lives:

Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance.

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”

 

Santorum could lose in Pennsylvania even if he wins

Despite the delegate math looking very favorably to Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are continuing to hope that they can peel enough support away to prevent him from winning the nomination outright. And while a brokered convention may be a slight possibility, Romney’s rivals will need to improve their numbers if they hope to catch up, as Tim Carney noted last week at the Washington Examiner.

For Santorum, a lack of campaign organizaton may lead to an embarassing situtation in his home state of Pennsylvania. According to The Daily, Santorum could win the state and still not take home any delegates:

As Rick Santorum desperately tries to make a dent in Mitt Romney’s formidable delegate lead, he faces an unlikely obstacle on the primary calendar: his home state of Pennsylvania.

Yes, Santorum is currently favored — though hardly a lock — to win the popular vote in the state he represented in Congress for 16 years.

But Pennsylvania’s non-binding primary rules for distributing delegates raise the prospect that Santorum, who has said he’ll win the vast majority of the state’s delegates, could actually come away from next month’s primary empty-handed at a time when he can ill-afford it.

Which means the April 24 primary could represent yet another chance for Romney — who kicked off his Pennsylvania campaign this week by trotting out supportive Republican leaders — to finally deal Santorum a knockout blow.

Rand Paul for Vice President?

Last week, I noted that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney had been discussing priorities that could come in some sort of deal between the two candidates as part of an endorsement. The prospects of Paul’s support, given the built-in constituency that comes with the libertarian-leaning Congressman, is certainly attractive to Romney.

It’s been rumored that part of a deal could include Romney adding Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to the ticket. The younger Paul is generally more popular than his father among conservatives and could help Romney in wooing Tea Party voters. Chris Smith, who writes at The Other McCain, really likes the idea:

A Vice President Paul is a signal that Mitt isn’t simply a tool of the plutocrats, a Massachusetts Manchurian sent to proudly repeal ObamaCare, then re-instate it with altered acronyms. That Mitt has taken pretty much every side on every issue, and continues to spout Newspeak slogans in place of real communication is worrisome. Seriously. You may not like Newt or Rick or Ron, but when they’re talking, you know they are in the room. Mitt has sounded phoned in Every. Single. Time. Even Mitt’s wife sounds more authentic than he does. While I do not advocate alcohol consumption, I confess an academic interest in hearing Mitt after a couple of shots of tequila, purely to satisfy the question of whether there is any ‘there’ there. Does he play cards? Does he collect memorabilia? Paint? Anything? Bueller? I feel I know something of the remaining candidates. Mitt is opaque.

Senate conservatives roll out Medicare reform

It looks like we’re headed toward another budget battle, and it may include some more intra-party squabbling as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) may have some push back from Senate conservatives.

Rep. Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, previewed his soon to be released budget in a trailer(!) last week. In the video, which you can watch below, Ryan says:

Let me ask you a question: what if your President, your Senator and your Congressman knew it was coming? What if they knew when it was going to happen, why it was going to happen and more importantly, what if they knew what they needed to do to stop it from happening and they had the time to stop it? But they chose to do nothing about it, because it wasn’t good politics?

What would you think of that person? It would be immoral.

This coming debt crisis is the most predictable crisis we’ve ever had in this country. And look what’s happening.

This is why we’re acting. This is why we’re leading. This is why we’re proposing - and passing out of the House - a budget to fix this problem: so we can save our country for ourselves and our children’s future.

Part of the proposal will include reforming the “fee-for-service” model in Medicare, but other aspects of the budget haven’t been released. Here is the video, what the Weekly Standard calls the “best presidential campaign ad of 2012,” while lamenting the candidacy “could have been”:

CBO sees $6.4 trillion in budget deficits in next 10 years

This doesn’t come as a shock to most, but a new report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that President Barack Obama’s budget proposal would add over $6 trillion in budget deficits over the next 10 years:

Deficits for the next two fiscal years would be slightly higher than the White House envisions if President Barack Obama’s budget plan were adopted, the Congressional Budget Office said on Friday.

The CBO’s latest analysis shows the plan would pile up $6.39 trillion in cumulative deficits over a 10-year period, but that figure is about $294 billion less than the White House estimated in February for the same 2013-2022 period.
[…]
The differences between the CBO and White House estimates of the Obama plan are due largely to the CBO’s slightly more pessimistic near-term view of the economy and revenue growth, coupled with its projections of slower cost growth for Social Security benefits and lower interest costs later in the decade.

In fiscal 2013, the first full year in the president’s budget, the CBO estimated the deficit would reach $977 billion, about $76 billion more than the White House estimated in February. The deficit then shrinks to $702 billion in fiscal 2014, about $34 billion higher than the White House estimate.

But the trend then reverses for several years, with the CBO offering lower deficit estimates through 2021.

Of course, there are a lot of assumptions here. If the economy gets worse, such as another recession or worse, these estimates would be worthless. And the prospect of another recession between now and 2022 is very likely — given that that we’ve experienced one every eight to 10 years.

Living the dystopian dream

Like many libertarians, I’m a huge fan of science fiction.  In particular, I love reading about dystopian futures.  I don’t know why, I just always have.

I’magine a story where the President of the United States can not be criticized to his face.  You are no longer allowed to voice your opinions within earshot of the president because the Secret Service can designate any area as being off limits for your First Amendment rights.  Let’s say the main character of the story does it anyways, in an act of civil disobedience, along with many of his friends.  They tell the sitting president that if he doesn’t start doing right, they will spend every waking minute to get him booted out of office.

The group is arrested for a felony because they violated the Secret Service’s orders, but because they used “intimidation” in the process, they’re called terrorists and packed off without due process and held indefinitely.

At the turn of the century, this would have sounded so far fetched that no one would have believed the story, and it would have failed. Good stories have to be believable after all, so a story on this kind of premise would be called “unsellable”.

Today, we call it “current events”.

The Problem(s) with Rick Santorum

I’m not a fan of Rick Santorum, and my very direct opposition to the liberal Republican from Pennsylvania (see, there I go again) has brought several of my Christian friends to the surface to ask why I could oppose such a God-fearing, wholesome, family-oriented man like Rick Santorum. After all, isn’t that the exact type of person we need in the White House?

And, yes, the man Rick Santorum wants us to believe he is – that is the type of man we need in the White House. I want a President with a backbone, who knows when to put his foot down and stand strong against an issue, who has the moral character to stand against what is wrong, and who has the courage to stand for smaller government. That man, however, is not Rick Santorum.

Erick Erickson, who I don’t always agree with, but who is certainly right on Santorum, explains in great detail Santorum’s record as a liberal Republican. You can’t look at that record and still make the argument that Santorum is a conservative. It’s impossible.

But beyond his liberal record in Washington is his violent opposition to the concept of freedom. In this interview with Jennifer Rubin, David Boaz (Cato Executive VP) talked about why he opposes Santorum:

Rick Santorum wants to kill porn

Porn, particularly internet porn, may well find itself an endangered species should Rick Santorum somehow find himself as President.  How do we know this?  Well, because he’s said as much apparently:

Santorum says in a statement posted to his website, “The Obama Administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws.”

If elected, he promises to “vigorously” enforce laws that “prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier.”

As the above linked article points out, porn is a tricky thing.  Obscenity laws are very vague, with no real legal definition that one person can point to and things be clear that whether something is obscene or not.  Instead, it uses things like “community standards”, which are also incredibly vague.

That’s not to say Santorum wouldn’t have any success.  However, whether he has success or not is rather irrelevant.

Take a look around for a moment.  We have a nation that is falling apart.  The constitution is practically on life support, and Congress is doing it’s best to pull the plug on it.  American citizens can be detained indefinitely thanks to the NDAA.  There are constant assaults on the internet through laws like SOPA.  Now, the Secret Service can declare anywhere it wants as being off limits to free speech, and speaking your mind can constitute a felony.  And where does Rick Santorum’s line in the sand fall?  Apparently, on yet another action that involves consenting adults.

Dick Lugar declared ineligible to vote

If you’ve been following Senate races this year, then you know that Orrin Hatch isn’t the only Republican facing a tough primary challenge. Dick Lugar, who has been in Washington since 1977, also has a competitive opponent in Richard Mourdock.

Many of the same groups that are targeting Orrin Hatch, including FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, are going after Lugar. But unlike Hatch’s race, where the groups haven’t endorsed, Mourdock has received endorsements and help through ad campaigns.

Lugar has his own self-induced problems to worry about. Part of the argument against him is that he has become addicted to Washington culture and no longer represents the interests of Indiana. It was recently alleged by the Indiana Democratic Party, that Lugar doesn’t maintain a residence in the state, rather lives in Virginia and rents a hotel room when visiting constituents.

Of course, Lugar’s campaign dismissed the accusation, claiming that the “entire state is his home.” That’s all well and good, but the residency issue just got a lot worse for Lugar. Yesterday, the Marion County Elections Board ruled that Lugar is ineligible to vote:

The Election Board has voted 2-1 along party lines to find Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican, and his wife ineligible to vote in their former home precinct. The two Democrats found that the Lugars abandoned that residence, according to Indiana law, and no longer reside there.

Lugar’s camp says it will appeal the decision because it disagrees with the board’s “political” action based on what it contends was a faulty analysis of the law.

Why the GOP race is over — It’s the math, stupid

Various people are debating whether having Gingrich in the race helps or hurts Romney’s chances of reaching 1,144 delegates and clinching the GOP nomination. Many of Santorum’s supporters think that Gingrich is robbing him of delegates that he needs to stop Romney, while Gingrich supporters are arguing that splitting the delegates makes it more difficult for Romney to win. The fact is, it does not matter, because barring finding Romney in bed with a dead girl or live boy, as Edwin Edwards once put it, he has clinched it mathematically.

Taking a look at the current standings, estimated by TheGreenPapers.com we have:

  • Romney: 493 - 51%
  • Santorum: 235 - 24%
  • Gingrich: 157 - 16%
  • Paul: 77 - 8%

That’s 962 decided delegates with 1,324 remaining.

With that many delegates remaining, how can it be over?

Well, there are two ways to allocate the delegates that remain. One is by a proportional system where each candidate gets some amount of delegates that are in proportion to each candidates share of the vote. So, if 30 delegates are at stake and three candidates split evenly, each would get 10. The other is winner take all, where the person securing the plurality (the most) of the vote gets all of the delegates.

The winner take all states that remain are: DC, MD, WI, DE, IN, CA, NJ, UT.

If a single candidate gets a majority in the following states, is it winner take all, but proportional otherwise: PR, CT, NY.

Let’s assume that Gingrich and Paul stay in and therefore PR, CT and NY will stay proportional.  Of the WTA states, Romney is all but assured victory in DC, DE, CA, NJ, and UT. Together, those are 298 delegates. Being as generous as possible and giving Santorum the other 125 WTA delegates we have:


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