There’s No Fact-Checker Like A Fact-Checker Checker.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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washington post fact checker pinocchio

I’m a great man for facts.

Even a cursory glance around my blog will confirm that. Every week I try to post some.

Facts are good things. Many other people seem to like them too.

Except for one particular group.

Liberals.

Facts always seem to get in the way of whatever it is they are trying to force us to accept.

Donald Trump open mouth

Enter Donald Trump into the story.

The Donald has caused a lot of controversy lately with his illegal immigrant pronouncements. Cowards like the management of Macy’s, NBC, Univision etc., have made knee-jerk decisions and run from the controversy without taking any time whatsoever to check the facts.

It’s the way Americans have been conditioned to behave when someone says something controversial about a minority or a minority view point.

The hardly impartial Washington Post has been in the forefront of the media critics and, of course, we have also had media mogul Rupert Murdock chirping in against a political candidate who is too rich to fit into his pocket.

But what did Trump actually say?

And do the facts support him or not?

Unlike Macy’s and the rest, let’s take a little time to have a look.

cops arrest illegal

Trump said that some undocumented immigrants commit crimes in the U.S. and in fact they do. He did NOT say ALL Mexicans and he did NOT include Hispanic U.S. citizens, which is what his detractors are trying to infer. In fact from the reports I have read I do not think he quantified it at all.

Trump did, however, strongly ‘imply’ that undocumented immigrants are more criminal than the average U.S. citizen.

The Washington Post “fact checked” this and found it to be ‘false’. The problem for the Washington Post’s fact-checkers is that some of the data shows otherwise.

For example, a 2011 Government Accountability Office report (GAO-11-187, Criminal Alien Statistics, March 2011, to be precise) opens with the sentence,

“The number of criminal aliens in federal prisons in fiscal year 2010 was about 55,000, and the number of SCAAP criminal alien incarcerations in state prison systems and local jails was about 296,000 in fiscal year 2009 (the most recent data available), and the majority were from Mexico.”

‘SCAAP’, by the way, is the ‘State Criminal Alien Assistance Program’ which means aliens illegally in the United States at the time of their incarceration.

As for federal prisoners, the GAO states, “In fiscal year 2005, the criminal alien population in federal prisons was around 27 percent of the total inmate population, and from fiscal years 2006 through 2010 remained consistently around 25 percent.”

US-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-Logo.

The Government Accountability Office figures also show that in 2009 the total alien – i.e., non-U.S.-citizen – population in the United Sates was about 25.3 million, which included about 10.8 million aliens without lawful immigration status – illegal aliens in other words.

The total population of the U.S. at that time was approximately 306.8 million. Non-citizens comprised 8.25% of the population and illegal aliens about 3.52%.

If you compare the percentage of illegal aliens in the population as a whole (the 3.52% mentioned above) with the percentages of illegal aliens in the prison population, namely 25% in 2009 and almost 39% in 2013, it is clear that their crimes are well in excess of their proportion of the population.

More numbers.

The FBI’s records show that there were 67,642 murders in the U.S. from 2005 through 2008, and 115,717 from 2003 through 2009.

The GAO estimates “criminal aliens” were arrested, convicted and incarcerated for 25,064 homicides. That means they committed 22% to 37% of all murders in the U.S., while being only 3.52% to 8.25% of the population.

Therefore the facts confirm that criminal and illegal aliens commit murder at much higher rates than all inhabitants of the U.S. – at least 3 to 10 times higher.

immigration_origin_of_illegal_immigrants

Although I have not had the time to crunch the numbers further, what you have just read could be a very conservative total because the FBI doesn’t get itself involved in all homicides, most of them are handled at state and local level.

Based on the erroneous research of their misnamed “fact-checkers”, the Washington Post alleged that Trump’s statements were only underscoring  “a common public perception that crime is correlated with immigration, especially illegal immigration”.

It went even further, stating that Trump’s repeated statements about immigrants and crime were a “misperception” and that there was “no solid data support it”.

The Washington Post fact-checkers obviously did not take the time to check the facts in the GAO reports, which as we have seen actually do support the perception trump is vocalizing.

Apparently there is no fact-checker like a fact-checker checker.

Where are Ben Bradlee, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein when you need them?

Carl Bernstein, Ben Bradlee, Bob Woodward

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Wonder When They’ll get Round To Making Blogging Illegal?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Dennis_Hastert

While he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the former Speaker, Dennis Hastert, used his political power and connections to enrich himself. No shocks there. He is just one among many politicians who routinely do likewise.

But unlike most of the others, Hastert was charged by the Feds with five felonies, each of them carrying a minimum of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

But, before you get the wrong idea and start to cheer, Hastert’s use of political leverage for personal gain has nothing to do with the charges against him.

What he did when in office was merely corruption and we live in a corrupt political system that those in charge like to call ‘democracy’.

No, Hastert has apparently committed a far worse crime than political graft. And it wasn’t anything to do with the leaks doing the rounds that he had been paying off a high school student for alleged sexual abuse decades ago. He hasn’t been charged with anything related to that either.

Instead, he has been pursued and indicted for the heinous crime of

…wait for it…

“structuring” cash withdrawals from his bank accounts so as to avoid federal bank reporting requirements, and lying to the FBI about what he was doing with his money.

handcuffs dollar

Now, I could care less what they do to a corrupt politician like Hastert. There is a certain irony that he has been caught by a law that he probably helped to create.

But the problem is that many of us could be similarly indicted simply because most of us don’t even know we are committing a crime in the first place.

Stupid bureaucrats have enacted so many laws in recent years, using misleading cover titles such as ‘money laundering’, ‘terrorist threats’, or ‘national security’, that they have turned millions of law-abiding people into de facto criminals, without them even knowing it.

The piece of invasive and unnecessary legislation that Hastert has been caught breaking is the ‘Bank Secrecy Act of 1970’, which makes it compulsory for U.S. banks to file a “currency transaction report” for deposits or withdrawals of more than $10,000 in currency. Banks suspicious of specific transactions are further required to file a “suspicious activity report.”

If the banks don’t capitulate to this government nonsense then they face penalties. This means that the banks comply, over-zealously so as not to ever infringe the regulations – which many of them don’t even understand. Now as a matter of routine they report ALL large cash transactions as suspicious, whether they really are or not.

Hastert didn’t intend or commit any money laundering, fraud or tax evasion. But the authorities don’t care about that. He had a legal and legitimate agreement in place with another individual and he withdrew his money in smaller amounts because he didn’t want this private arrangement to become public knowledge. The Justice Department even admits as much. But the authorities don’t care about that either.

So why have they charged Hastert when they know he really did nothing wrong apart from infringe on a stupid law that was never intended to catch the likes of him?

They did it to terrorize the rest of us.

Soviet control

What most western governments are about nowadays is control. The type of control that used to pervade communist states in the Soviet era. They want to criminalize ordinary people by making trivial and harmless acts into major felonies.

Woe betide you now if you want to spend you own money or transfer it to someone else. It’s your money, you earned it, you saved it up, but touch it in a way not specified by the government and you’re in Federal Court, you criminal bad person you!

All these spurious and unnecessary laws give government law enforcement agencies the ability to punish anyone at any time because there are so many regulations that everyone is in breach of something.

Wonder when they’ll get round to making blogging illegal?

Think I’m joking???

Blogging illegal? Close up of wooden gavel at the computer keyboard

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Taking A Swipe At Skype

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Skype_logo

No, it’s not me who is taking a swipe at Skype. I use Skype a lot for communicating with people. I find it particularly good for contacting friends in foreign lands, which you can do for free, but also for making paid telephone calls too.

I have been using it for over a decade, almost from it started, and long before it was bought by Microsoft. Although other flavors have arrived on the scene I stick with Skype.

It’s the comfort of familiarity, something I wish the nerds at WordPress would pay attention to instead of continually making smart-ass changes that no one has asked for or wants. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it guys!

But getting back to Skype, it has now become a victim of the snoopers – again!

This time it has been told it has to appear before a court in Belgium because it refused to hand over customer data following a request for assistance by the Federal Computer Crime Unit of the Federal Judicial Police (FCCU) in a ‘criminal investigation’.

Microsoft acquires Skype

Microsoft has been very sensitive to appearing to buckle under when requested to release information about its Skype users ever since it was alleged that it had changed the architecture of the communications software to make it more “wiretap friendly”, something which it has always denied.

Despite Microsoft releasing transparency reports stating that it had not handed over the content of any Skype conversations in response to regular law enforcement requests, privacy and security analysts remain unconvinced.

Unfortunately, as usually happens when the lawyers get to work, the fundamental importance of this case – which is government’s mania for trying to remove the right to privacy of its citizens – gets lost in spurious legal arguments.

cartoon lawyers

Now, instead of defending the right to privacy, the court’s time is being taken up with deciding whether or not a VoIP service like Skype should be treated as a telecoms operator in Belgium. If it is then it would have to comply with Belgian regulatory requirements for telecoms operators and release data to the snoopers.

I said earlier that the request by the Belgian snoopers is in regard to a ‘criminal investigation’ but the alleged crimes under investigation have not been specified, nor has the identity of the suspect or suspects.

It’s another one of those government catch-all phrases like ‘terrorist activity’ or ‘national security’ that are used as a cover for intrusions into people’s privacy whenever they feel like it.

government Snooping

The result of this Belgian case will be an interesting marker for future attacks on the privacy of Skype users. My guess is that if the snoopers win their case then Skype should brace itself for a multitude of similar requests from governments all over the world. If on the other hand the courts rules in favor of the privacy of Skype users then the government will simply put their hackers to work and try to get the information illegally as they have done and are doing.

So it’s another one of those ‘heads’ privacy loses and ‘tails’ the snoopers win.

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Puns About Monorails Always Make For Decent One-Liners.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It is just as hard to guage the size of a monorail as it is to guage the popularity of puns.

Here is another selection of word plays that may help you make up your mind.

Enjoy or endure!!

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rofl

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According to ‘serving suggestions’

I’m a family of four

 'serving suggestions

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Me and my friend used to spend

all our time together in a tree-house,

but then we fell out.

 tree-house

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I come from a small town

whose population never changes.

Every time a woman falls pregnant,

someone leaves town.

 woman falls pregnant

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A synanym is a word you use

in place of one you can’t spell.

 synanym

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It’s difficult to say something tongue-in-cheek

without people thinking you have a speech impediment.

 obama tongue-in-cheek

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 I had the right to remain silent,

unfortunately I didn’t have the ability.

 right to remain silent

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It’s my first session with the

Impatience Support Group is tonight

…….. I can’t wait.

 Impatience

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I realized I didn’t have many friends

when I tried to text Ben,

scrolled down my contacts list

and accidentally texted William.

 Contact list

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My doctor said to me,

“Do you know your sperm count?”

I said,

“No, I didn’t know they were that clever.”

 paul-noth-you-need-to-get-your-cholesterol-where-your-sperm-count-is-new-yorker-cartoon

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Did you hear about the American

who went on a holiday to India and

didn’t manage to see a single wig wam?

 wig wam

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How does a woman scare a Gynaecologist?

By becoming a Ventriloquist.

 scared Gynaecologist

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Finally, here’s a joke for

all the mind readers out there….

mind reader

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Did you like it?

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More Warning Signs!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Today another selection of warnings signs and labels that were clearly either written for idiots or written by idiots. Perhaps a combination of both!

Don’t try to figure out why they wrote these things or you might hurt yourself.

Just enjoy.

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warning signs

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“Caution:

This is not a safety protective device.”

On a plastic toy helmet used as a container for popcorn.

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“Do not use near fire, flame, or sparks.”

On an “Aim-n-Flame” fireplace lighter.

Do not use near fire, flame, or sparks

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“Do not eat toner.”

On a toner cartridge for a laser printer.

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“Not intended for highway use.”

On a 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow.

13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow

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“This product is not to be used in bathrooms.”

On a Holmes bathroom heater.

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“Eating rocks may lead to broken teeth.”

On a novelty rock garden set called “Popcorn Rock.”

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“May irritate eyes.”

On a can of self-defense pepper spray.

self-defense-pepper-spray May irritate eyes

 

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“Caution! Contents hot!”

On a Domino’s Pizza box.

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“Caution:

Hot beverages are hot!”

On a coffee cup.

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“Warning:

May contain small parts.”

On a frisbee.

frisbee

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“Please keep out of children.”

On a butcher knife.

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“Do not use orally.”

On a toilet bowl cleaning brush.

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toilet bowl cleaning brush

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The Warning Signs Are Warning Signs!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Strange as it may seem Warning Signs are warning signs that society is in BIG trouble. They indicate that we have regressed to the level where we are allowing the stupidest people in society to dictate how the rest of us behave.

I disagree in the strongest possible terms with this trend. It is unnecessary and it is irritating for anyone with an IQ above 40.

If some dumb ass who knows they are allergic to nuts, buys a bag of nuts, then let them suffer the consequences of their stupidity if they eat them. Or if someone is in McDonalds or a similar establishment and buys a cup of hot coffee they should have the wit to realize that hot coffees is ‘hot’ and will burn them if they pour it all over themselves.

Harsh? Perhaps, but necessary.

Sadly the whole thing has deteriorated so far that, not only are there unnecessary warning labels on almost everything, but the morons for whom they are there now actually seem to be writing them too!

I could rant on, but better (and funnier) to show you some examples that make me shake my head in despair.

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“Do not use if you cannot

see clearly to read the information

in the information booklet.”

— In the information booklet.

information booklet

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“Caution:

The contents of this bottle

should not be fed to fish.”

— On a bottle of shampoo for dogs.

The contents of this bottle should not be fed to fish

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“For external use only!”

— On a curling iron.

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“Warning: This product can burn eyes.”

— Also on a curling iron.

curling iron

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“Do not use in shower.”

— On a hair dryer.

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“Do not use while sleeping.”

— Also on a hair dryer.

hair dryer

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“Do not use while sleeping or unconscious.”

— On a hand-held massaging device.

massaging device

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“Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking.”

— On a toilet at a public sports facility

in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking

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“Shin pads cannot protect any part

of the body they do not cover.”

— On a pair of shin guards made for bicyclists.

Shin pads

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“This product not intended

for use as a dental drill.”

— On an electric rotary tool.

electric rotary tool

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“Caution:

Do not spray in eyes.”

— On a container of underarm deodorant.

underarm deodorant

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“Do not drive with sunshield in place.”

— On a cardboard sunshield that keeps

the sun off the dashboard.

cardboard sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard

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I Spy With Your Little ‘i’ – A Free And Open Internet?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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internet surveillance

When the internet was born it was a tool of the military establishment.

Then it broke out of that stranglehold and escaped into a world of freedom of expression and communication for everyone.

Never before had a system like this been available to the general public. Never before had it been so easy to find information, search for friends, communicate with groups with similar interests, etc. Its popularity was assured.

The world wide web developed at break neck speed, much too quick for the people who hate and detest freedom. They were confounded.

It was a free and open internet.

world wide web

So how could it ever go wrong?

Well, as with the financial crisis, when you dig down a bit you find the Clinton administration again as the culprit.

During the 1990s, when the World Wide Web was first being woven into social and cultural life, internet companies and corporate advertisers lobbied the Clinton administration to minimize privacy restrictions, so that they could re-engineer the Web to enable commercial surveillance of internet users.

The warnings of public interest groups were ignored as social networks, search engines, service providers and advertisers lobbied hard against even the smallest of efforts at data protection. Motivated by greed, they ensured that commercial surveillance would be pervasively integrated online. They are still at it today, that’s really what cloud computing services are all about.

A few thousand giant corporations, like Google, have become able to capture information every minute, of every hour, of every day, from everyone who uses the internet. And they can’t stop because their profit strategies totally rely on accumulating user data.

google for profit surveillance

Thus began the surveillance society. The government saw how easy this could now be done and began to catch up fast. If there was snooping to be done, they were not to be left out in the cold.

Until Edward Snowden, who had been a computer consultant working for a subcontractor to the US National Security Agency (NSA), copied several hundred thousand classified documents relating to surveillance programs being conducted by the US and its allies in the name of the war on terror, and sent them to journalists, nobody really understood the level of snooping that was going on.

Most of it was unnecessary, intrusive, unproductive and immoral, and after Snowden’s revelations nobody believed the United States government was totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

ennesssseh

Further revelations published since have helped to reveal a surveillance system that intrudes into almost every facet of our private lives. Privacy in fact is a thing of the past, unless you have the time, resources and knowledge to try to circumvent it.

If the government was only spying on the communications of foreign countries such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, and if it was confined to what could be termed ‘unfriendly’ nations and their agents throughout the world, then I don’t think anyone would mind so much. It’s a necessary evil in today’s world.

But unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Friendly nations and heads of state, European institutions, the UN headquarters, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to name but a few, have all also come under the snooper’s gaze.

This has not only shown up the irresponsibility and arrogance of those in charge of the snoopers, and their lack of common sense and ethics, but it has also created even more ill will against the United States.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an ally of the United States, was a victim of the snoopers. As a result of that revelation, the German government protested publicly its outrage. It also terminated its longstanding telecommunications service contract with Verizon, directing its business to Deutsche Telekom instead. Two weeks after that it expelled the head of US intelligence in Germany.

The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, also took public stands against US privacy invasions. He, like Merkel, had also personally been a victim of the US snoopers.

Then the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to affirm online privacy as a human right, and in June 2014, responding to the EU, the US Justice Department had to promise to send legislation to Congress that would grant European citizens many of the (inadequate) privacy protections accorded to US citizens.

Bad enough not trusting your supposed ‘allies’, but US intelligence agencies have gone even further. Now they don’t even trust the decent, honest, hard-working citizens of America who have never broken any laws, nor have any intention of doing so.

prism

The Prism program, for example, allows the NSA to collect data from your emails, telephone conversations, contacts, videos, etc., from major US digital companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The XKeyscore program uses several hundred servers distributed across the world to store information on the activities of every Internet user, including your emails, internet searches, the websites you visit, what you post on social networks, and blogs like this. (Whoops!)

The list goes on and on.

After Snowden’s revelations, commercial firms like Google, Facebook and others scrambled to distance themselves by professing outrage. Their protestations had little to do with political principle but a lot to do with ensuring they continued to make fortunes by collecting data on us.

The US Internet companies went on a public relations offensive, and also raced to reorganize their overseas operations, to reassure worried foreign customers that they were complying with local data protection measures.

IBM, for example, committed over a billion dollars to building additional data centers overseas, hoping to ease customer fears that their data was not safe from the US government’s surveillance. But then the US authorities demanded that Microsoft, which deploys more than a million computers in over 40 countries, hand over emails stored on its servers in Ireland. Data is not safe and private anywhere it seems.

Last week I wrote a post about the Facebook/US Army experiment in trying (successfully) influence how people thought. (Click here if you want to read it.)

And so it continues.

Personally I think it is a pity that the powers that be are able to devote time, energy and money against people who have done nothing wrong, yet seem unwilling to remove child pornography and other evils from the world wide web. But the latter would require a decree of decency and morals that is sadly lacking in those who direct such matters for the government.

The US has lost the moral authority to talk about a free and open Internet, because that free and open internet has already been destroyed.

No doubt there is worse to come.

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