Should We Let The Tail Continue To Wag The Dog?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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They say that nothing is free and in America that is certainly true as regards freedom of religious beliefs.

If you are a Christian, that is.

If you are a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Sikh, or a Buddhist, or even an atheist, the constitutional protections of your civil rights will be upheld and fought for by all and sundry. Silly looking people will hold up even sillier looking signs supporting your point of view.

silly protest sign

If you are a Christian, however, you will find you only have the freedom to do what minority groups dictate, not what conforms to your religious beliefs.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of a mom and pop bakery they call ‘Sweet Cakes By Melissa’, found that out a while ago when they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013. They have been ordered by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI-cks for short) to pay $135,000 in damages to the two lesbians for “emotional suffering.”

It makes me wonder if Donald Trump will launch a similar suit against Macy’s for the “emotional suffering” he has been caused by Macy’s refusing to sell his merchandise? I would imagine for a man with that kind of ego the “emotional suffering” would be substantial, at least a billion dollar’s worth, I reckon.

Apparently in Oregon, and probably in other states, it is now illegal for a business to refuse to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Most probably the same applies if you are of a particular race, color, or religion. However, there is no equivalent law to protect the religious beliefs of business owners.

sweet cakes_closed_sign

Now I could care less whether you are a lesbian or a Presbyterian, that’s not the issue here. The issue is that you can’t have a law that protects one sector of the community at the expense of another. More to the point you can’t have a ridiculous legal system that is both unfair and illogical.

But you do.

And it’s getting worse.

Just as the Freedom Act took away more freedoms than it gave, the government is stealthily and overtly eroding the individual citizen’s right to live their lives as they want to and as their beliefs dictate.

Sure you have to have rules, like don’t murder people, drive on the correct side of the road, and that kind of thing otherwise there would be chaos. But trying to control and micro-manage every thought and action of the people, which is what the government is now about, is both unnecessary and unwanted.

Big Brother control room
Big Brother control room

I’m now wondering what happens if you come into my gun shop and I don’t like the look of you and refuse to sell you a gun or other weapon. Am I within my rights? Or can you sue me for the “emotional suffering” of not being able to kill your family or hold up a bank?

Or can I sue you if you own the gayest cake shop in America but refuse to serve me because I am a Christian? That would be an interesting one in the light of the Oregon decision.

What happens if you are a Christian lesbian? What sort of “emotional suffering” does that cause? And can you sue yourself for damages? I’m sure there’s a judge somewhere stupid enough to grant you a big payout, but of course you would have to pay it to yourself, unless the state would step in because of your sexual orientation and cough up the cash for you.

You see where this is going?

deliberate dumbing down of America
deliberate dumbing down of America

Just as they wrecked the education system in many western countries by teaching the brightest people in the school at the same pace as the dumbest, thereby lowering the level of education of everyone and churning out a multitude of idiots who can barely read, or write, or count, now we have to pander to every minority no matter how few people they represent and no matter how much their minority beliefs offend our own.

Minority rights don’t really matter to the government because they don’t make up enough of the population. If and when the need arises minorities can be brought to heel. The majority is a different matter though and what has been discussed in this blog post is all part of the dumbing down of society and instilling fear in anyone from the majority community who dares to stand up and challenge authority. The threat of a  six figure fine, or worse, ensures compliance in most people.

My old late lamented friend George Carlin summed it up so well when he said, “Governments don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests. They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept it.”

Protection of minority rights in a society is one thing – and a good thing – and should be defended at all costs. But it should be done for the right reasons AND it should be in addition to the rights of the majority, never at their expense.

Otherwise you might as well throw out the “all men are created equal” bit of the constitution and just let the tail continue to wag the dog.

dog-tail

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She Said She Wouldn’t – But She Did!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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cartoon hacking government websites

I wrote a post on July 3rd posing the question “Are government bureaucrats capable of looking after data they collect about us?” (if you want to read it click here.)

The question was, of course, rhetorical, because we all know that the stupid bureaucrats the government employs aren’t capable of looking after anything.

The figure I quoted in that post, about the number of people whose data had been hacked, was 18 million which was a lot higher than the first government admission that 4.5 million records had been hacked. Now however the figure is well in excess of 21 million. It probably won’t stop there.

opm director Katherine Archuleta

The Office of Personnel Management was responsible for losing the confidential information and there have been calls from both Republicans and Democrats for the chief bureaucrat of the OPM, Ms Katherine Archuleta, to do the decent thing and resign.

But as we also know there is no decency in stupid bureaucrats, only self-delusion and arrogance. They are too dumb to do their jobs and too stupid to realize it.

Thus for as long as she could, Archuleta clung on in there, rejecting bipartisan calls for her to resign. She said she had no plans to step down. Worse than that she said she was “committed to continuing her work for the agency”.

I read that to mean more incompetence, more lies and more denial, and more trying to cling on to a position which she is clearly not fit to hold. For example she pig-headedly refused to shut down servers identified by the US Inspector General as unsafe.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the White House, headed by another incompetent, President Barack Obama, continued to express confidence in the leadership of Ms Archuleta.

However, as the size of the security gaff became greater and greater so did the pressure on chief bureaucrat Archuleta. As the numbers of missing records continued to climb almost daily, the result was inevitable.

Although Archuleta continued to say she had “no intention of resigning and would stay on to sort out the mess” – she handed in her resignation. The President – who supported her and who had complete confidence in her – accepted it immediately.

It was either that or be fired. Everyone knew it but her.

The announcement came along with further emerging details about the pathetic level of security within the OPM. Many of its servers are apparently so antiquated they can’t run encryption and modern security software. Two-factor authentication is almost unheard of and seldom used. In fact things are so bad that the agency isn’t even sure how many computer networks it has!!!

One incompetent bureaucrat down.

Hopefully many more to follow.

opm data loss

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Are Government Bureaucrats Capable Of Looking After Data They Collect About Us?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Office of Personnel Management

If you’ve read any of the political posts on this blog you’ll already know the answer to the question posed in the title.

Staffed by stupid bureaucrats, the government isn’t capable of doing anything right, apart from trying to make all our lives miserable with needless and intrusive rules and regulations.

Proving the point, recently in the press there have been numerous stories about the personal data of an estimated 18 million current, former and prospective federal employees being the victim of what they call a ‘cyber breach’ at the Office of Personnel Management.

I say 18 million because that is what has currently been estimated by none other than FBI Director James Comey in a closed-door briefing to Senators recently. A far cry from the government’s lies that ‘only’ 4.2 million files were hacked. And that 18 million number is expected to grow, not get smaller – which I suppose makes the government’s lie even bigger.

The same hackers who accessed the Office of Personnel Management’s data are believed to have last year breached an OPM contractor, KeyPoint Government Solutions. When that OPM breach was discovered in April, investigators found that KeyPoint security credentials were used to breach the OPM system.

KeyPoint_Logo

Some investigators believe that after that intrusion last year, OPM bureaucrats should have blocked all access from KeyPoint, and that doing so could have prevented more serious damage.

But the bureaucrats refused to do anything – probably waiting for a sub-committee to write a 2,000 page report first!

It is believed that the Chinese government is behind this latest ‘cyber breach’, which is considered the worst ever against the U.S. government – so far, that is. The Chinese hackers are believed to have built their own backdoor access to the OPM system, armed with high-level system administrator access codes.

Naturally since it happened under his watch and the buck stops with him, President Obama has ordered his administration to answer all accusations of incompetence by minimizing the severity of breach.

But the OPM’s internal auditors told a House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee last week that key databases housing sensitive national security data, including applications for background checks, had not met federal security standards.

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., responded thus, “I wish that you [the OPM] were as strenuous and hardworking at keeping information out of the hands of hackers as are at keeping information out of the hands of Congress.”

If only!

So are the government bureaucrats capable of looking after the data they collect on us?

Of course they aren’t.

Looks as if all Snowden, the subject of Wednesday’s post (if you want to read it click here), is really guilty of, is doing the bureaucrat’s job more efficiently.

whistleblower techie

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Traitor Or Patriot?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Snowden Traitor or Patriot

A lot has been written about Edward Snowden, the NSA employee who leaked files of secret documents to the public. Some of the reaction has been in praise of him as a patriot and some of it castigating him as an enemy of the people and a traitor.

So who is right?

I guess that depends on your point of view.

If you think the government did the right thing snooping illegally on its own people and on its allies, then you are probably in the camp that wants to see Snowden shot as a traitor.

If you think Snowden did the right thing to expose the deceit and crimes of government agencies so that the general public became better informed about what was being undertaken in its name, then you are probably in the camp that wants Snowden left alone.

There is no ambiguity in which camp the government resides. It wants to see Snowden repatriated to the US to face numerous charges that would result in him – perhaps not being shot – but certainly spending a long, long time in prison. It’s not about punishing Snowden, it’s about sending a message to other like-minded government employees.

To back up their claim to have Snowden punished, the press is continually being leaked stories of how Snowden put lives at risk because of his revelations.

Sunday Times Snowden smear

For example, take the latest claims leaked to a British newspaper is that Russian and Chinese intelligence analysts have decrypted some of his Snowden’s stolen files and have been able to identify US and British secret agents as a result. Apparently personnel has had to be withdrawn from overseas operations in hostile countries because their identities have been “blown”. It’s an unlikely scenario because the vast majority of ‘spies’ hold diplomatic posts in embassies and as such have the benefit of diplomatic immunity if exposed.

And there have also been counter claims denouncing stories like these as ‘smear tactics’ used by the government without any evidence to support them. The counter claimers also point to the fact that the latest newspaper to carry the government’s leaked story is Rupert Murdock’s ‘Sunday Times’, the very same source that carried the government’s leaked dossier on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, every single “fact” in which proved to be a lie.

Cynics also point out that this latest anti-Snowden non-story in the British press has been timed precisely to coincide with the British government’s new Snooper’s Charter act, which enables the security services to access all internet activity. Convenient to say the least!

As for Snowden himself, he says that when fled the US he took four copies of a cache of top secret documents lifted from the NSA’s intranet but handed these over to carefully selected journalists and no longer has them in his possession.

Naturally NSA sources dispute this, arguing that when Snowden defected to Russia he took the files with him.

Once again who you believe depends on which camp you are in.

It is possible that Snowden is lying, but it is also possible that he is telling the truth.

If it is the latter it is a reasonable assumption that any leaks of his documents after he left Hong Kong have been the result of the files being hacked or stolen from the journalists he passed them on to.

When you think about it, journalists are not intelligence or computer experts and probably were an easy mark for the hackers. Even the more security conscious ones invariably use encryption programs such as PGP, TruCrypt and Tor, which are all vulnerable to the kind of hacking available to the US and other governments.

For what it’s worth, my money is on the government’s latest leak being more bullshit. When you’ve clearly done something wrong, and want to keep on doing it, it’s always cool to be able to distract the crowd by blaming someone else.

So it’s not my fault.

it's not my fault

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Jobs, Jobs, And More Jobs

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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jobs under the magnifying glasss

This post is about jobs.

You might have guessed that from the title.

Not the late Steve, the other kind.

During the past months America has been creating approximately 200,000 jobs. At least that’s what the official figures are saying. It has helped to indicate the underlying strength of the economy, led to official unemployment figures of 5.5% and propped up the USD on the foreign exchange markets.

And no one is questioning any of it.

It’s as if it’s really real.

Again it’s all a question of what you do with the numbers.

unemployment

The May 2015 figure for the labor force is 157.5 million. That is the figure the government uses to calculate it’s unemployment rate of 5.5%.

That’s what they call the ‘U3’ number. U3 is the official unemployment rate.

But there is also a ‘U5’ number that includes discouraged workers and all other marginally attached workers; and a ‘U6’ number that adds on those workers who are part-time purely for economic reasons.

Don’t ask me what happened to ‘U1’ or ‘U4’ because I don’t know. However ‘U2’ is a very successful pop group from Dublin, Ireland.

u2 image

The problem is that the “official” unemployment rate (U3) does not count discouraged workers who have settled for part-time jobs or have given up looking altogether because they believe there are no jobs out there for them.

There are about another 7.5 million or so people who were not considered ‘unemployed’ because they were employed part-time for economic reasons. Those people are also called involuntary part-time workers – working part-time because their hours were cut back or because they were unable to secure a full-time job.

If you include those individuals, (the U6 number), you get a very different figure for the nation’s unemployment rate. Unlike other jobs figures, the U6 rate actually got worse in June.

So the real unemployment rate is well in excess of 12%, more than double the official figure.

But it is even worse than that.

The economy is growing, BUT it is growing slowly, and it is growing from a very low base caused by the financial crisis that the banksters brought upon us with their fraud and greed.

In that light, an increase of 200,000 jobs or so each month is basically just replacing some of the millions of jobs lost during the bank-caused recession, not creating ‘new’ jobs as such. In other words we’re just slowly getting back to where we were.

The forecasts aren’t optimistic either. If and when the workers laid off during the recent recession find new jobs and we get to what the government calls full employment, the labor force is forecast to grow at a rate of only 0.5% for the rest of this decade. At 0.5%, we grow at a rate of about 66,000 a month — nowhere near 200,000. Next decade it’s even worse, at 0.2%.

government bureaucrats

Add to that the fact that a great number of the jobs being created are government bureaucratic jobs that cost the country money, not real jobs that produce wealth for the country and you can see that there is little for the politicians to crow about.

As I noted in my post on Wednesday, with statistics you can ‘prove’ anything. Take any government figures with a great big pinch of salt.

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SNAFU

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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snafu

It’s never pretty when some smart ass says I told you so.

But never mind that.

“I told you so.”

There I said it.

I wrote a post “The Only Way Is Up, Unless It’s Sideways” (if you want to read it click here) that all the logic in my head told me that contrary to the Fed’s threats to raise interest rates in June they wouldn’t.

They didn’t.

Gloat, gloat.

Mind you, although I’m taking all the credit that’s going, it wasn’t that hard to figure out. Despite that it did seem to be beyond most of the ‘financial advisors’ who just swallow whatever government crap that’s going and act accordingly – and usually lose money.

So it wasn’t a great surprise to me when on Friday past, after an announcement from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that reported 280,000 jobs created in May, the promised interest-rate hike expectations have moved back to this September. My guess is still that interest rates will remain near zero for considerably longer than that. (I explained my reasoning in that other post just referred to.)

SNAFU they say in the army.

For those who don’t know, SNAFU means ‘situation normal, all f***ed up’, because that’s how it always seems in the military. Usually however they muddle through because they can always count on being bailed out by the government.

With the government it’s different. There’s no one to bail them out.

US-Gross-National-Debt-1972-2014-B

The American economy, which is currently built around a staggeringly enormous debt of $18 trillion, is slowing.

Add to that equation sluggish economic recovery on the back of a collossal and prolonged printing of money by the Fed — Quantitative Easing, they called it.

And you do not have a sound enough foundation to support raising interest rates.

Some wiser voices in the Fed – maybe just a wise voice – realize the whole thing is out of control. The Fed has hinted, prodded and sometimes just asked plainly for the government to stop reckless spending habits. But the government hasn’t tightened its belt, nor doesn’t seem likely to.

dollar bill stash

What this really means is that a hike in interest rates too soon or too fast risks not only a market crash, but also a catastrophic mess for the government — and as I said in  my previous article on the subject 2016 is an election year so there probably won’t be much boat rocking going on.

Stay tuned for what happens in September, I still have some humble pie in the freezer if I need it.

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They Got Away With It AGAIN!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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banks admit forex manipulation

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Last week several of the ‘BIG’ banks – you remember, the ones that are too big to let go bust – were fined in the region of $5.7 billion for illegal manipulation of the currency markets.

The usual suspects were included, J P Morgan, Citibank, Barclays  and RBS all pleading guilty – but only after they were sure what the medicine they would be getting would be.

It’s a huge amount of money, there’s no denying that. And losing it will make the banksters hurt a bit. But only a bit.

And that’s the problem.

Yet again the United States government has failed to bring these criminals to justice after more of their deliberate fraud and theft.

In other words, they let them get away with it AGAIN!

Major Banks

Now, if I walk into a branch of, for example, Citibank and try to steal the money that their customers have deposited with them for safe-keeping, I would be videoed, photographed, and if I was lucky enough to get out of the premises, pursued by the police and even the FBI for as long as it took to capture me.

And I couldn’t have any complaints because that’s the way it should be. Thieves should be sought out, captured and after due process thrown into jail.

However, if I am a bankster, have good government contacts, and ply money and favors to those in government, then I am treated very differently.

big banks get out of jail free

I can embark on insider trading (which is essentially what the banksters were doing when they were illegally manipulating the currency markets), I can sell loans to people that clearly can’t afford them, then take their houses away or sell on their debt wrapped up in a ‘AAA’ bundle to my richer customers, and after all that steal even more of the money my customers have entrusted to me by awarding myself and my collaborators big bonuses that none of us have earned or are entitled to.

In this scenario am I pursued by the police and FBI?

Nope.

Am I thrown in jail to be the bitch of Skull-cracker Jones or Scarface Smith?

Nope.

Will I have to personally pay back the money I stole?

Nope, again.

So what will happen to me if I am a bankster?

At worst I will get a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. Even though recent history has proved that this is no deterrent and I will do it again at the first opportunity I get.

And, of course, I don’t have to personally pay the government’s fine no matter how big it may be. Instead my company has to cough up on my behalf.

Not that the company is much bothered either because when it runs out of money it goes back to the government which hands it back at least the value of the fine and usually much, much more.

Think this system is fair?

Neither do I.

jail the banksters

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