“The number-one pop­u­lar gripe against Google is that they’re watch­ing ev­ery­thing we do on­line and us­ing it to mon­e­tize us. That one doesn’t both­er me in the slight­est. The ser­vices are free so someone’s got­ta pay the ren­t, and that’s the ad­ver­tis­er­s.”

Tim Bray, Ongoing, Google + 1yr 2015-03-29

Well, there are other ways to pay the rent. The fact that Google and its fellow data collectors are gathering so much personal information is beyond creepy. These apps are not free and the price that the users are paying may be far too high in both the short and long runs.

Secret Law is No Law at All

There was some excitement in my twitter feed this morning regarding an opinion from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that instructed the White House to declassify some of its opinions:

In an opinion from the FISC itself, Judge F. Dennis Saylor on Friday told the White House to declassify all the legal opinions relating to Section 215 of the Patriot Act written after May 2011 that aren’t already the subject of FOIA litigation.

I am all for declassifying this material but this misses the key issue entirely.

In a free land there is no such thing as a FISC! No secret courts, no secret proceedings, no star chambers.

Secret law is no law at all.

Thieves At Work

senator carl levin (d-irs) is holding hearings:

This morning the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, is holding a hearing to look at two banks that have relied on secrecy and deception to hide, not just the tax avoidance schemes of their clients, but the actions they themselves took to facilitate U.S. tax evasion.

On the surface it sounds like these banks are providing a level of secrecy and privacy that should be automatic at all banking institutions.
levin goes on to note:

Each year, the United States Treasury loses an estimated $100 billion in tax revenues from offshore tax abuses. Tax havens are engaged in economic warfare against the United States and honest, hardworking American taxpayers.

A slightly different way of stating this:

Each year, Americans protect an estimated $100 billion in assets from the United States Treasury.

I can’t say rather they are hard working or honest Americans. If the assets they are protecting have been acquired via theft or fraud than these folks should find their way to court and be required to return the funds to the victims.

Otherwise, the mafia US Government should put their guns away and leave these folks alone.

It’s ok, the pres told me to do it.

The dems do more for bush and the police state than the repubs:

I’d like to underscore the fact that in 2006, when the Congress was controlled by Bill Frist and Denny Hastert, the administration tried to get a bill passed legalizing warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty, but was unable. They had to wait until the Congress was controlled by Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to accomplish that.

In short form, the house just passed legislation (to call it law completely demeans the concept of law) that says that even if it is illegal if the president says it was ok it’s, well, not illegal. So why do we have a congress and judicial system….?
Unfortunately, the legislation is even worse…read the above link and, heck, even the Washington Post for more nauseous details.
Blue Girl suggests that there was some big lever used on the dems:

But there is one thing no one knows–and that is, how bad was the thing that was used to threaten the Democratic Party to roll over on this issue? How bad was the thing they were threatening to use against anyone who opposed them? Was it the fact that there are archives on every Democratic politician kept sealed away–archives of their personal conversations, archives of their monetary dealings, details of their sex lives?

Nah, this is just the way these folks are. dems and repubs alike continue to cravenly build executive power, line the wallets of their corporate masters and shred the constitution.

Some day all you folks that wear your donkey and elephant pins will realize that these parties and their hacks are not interested in you but only in the power that they wield.

Hat tip to Steve for the original abomination sighting.