Tropical Topical

I’m at the stage in life where people can be themselves (within reason) around me. I may listen and interact with people who hold entirely different opinions and ideas than I. I may contend with those ideas if I believe they’re something I find significantly wrongly directed. It’s not out of the ordinary for others to disagree with me. I find this wholly satisfactory as long as we can be civil and the person I’m involved with doesn’t go off the rails.Image

A civil society should be able to agree to disagree but at the end of the day, we have to figure out how to get along and work out things for the better. It’s interesting to see what really puts a burr in the collar of some people. Generally speaking, even though I may engage in offering an opinion, I don’t always have a strong commitment to it because it doesn’t directly affect me. I’m sorry, I may sound a mite selfish there, but I can’t get overly concerned about things which have little impact on my life. Here’s an example…

“Coast Guard Academy has first same-sex marriage announcement”.

love birdsThis falls into the category of whooptydodaday
What I mean by that is, how does that affect me? Why should I be concerned? As far as I care, if these two women lived next door to me, I couldn’t be bothered by their choice. Perhaps if I were gay, homosexual or lesbian I might have cause to celebrate on their behalf. As it is, all I can say is, I wish them well, I hope they have a nice life together. Yes, I’m a conservative person in a general sense, but that’s really more about financial matters and having honest responsible government. If two people love each other, that’s a lot better than two which are hateful. We’ve got enough of this hate thing going around. I suggest, let them alone, don’t try to convince me that western civilization is on the brink of an apocalyptic collapse due to about 2% or 3% of the population claiming they want to be intimate with the same-sex. It’s just not any of my business. No harm, no foul.

“NSA officials consider Edward Snowden amnesty in return for documents”

I have more interest in this story because of the background and context it has for everyone in this country. While we live in a “free society”, the world around us is a dangerous place. We have enemies from within and without and the NSA is supposedly responsible for a goodly portion of staying close to understanding what  threats are significant and must be thwarted. It’s a very broad mandate.

NSA Fort Meade MD headquarters

NSA headquarters in Fort Meade MD. – able to decrypt routine SSL and banking transactions

Ever since September 11, 2001 the United States was placed on a higher alert status when it came to possible terrorist activities. It more or less placed us on a war footing. An entirely new vast government entity was established under the title of “Homeland Security”. In some respects it more closely aligned us with the world described in the novel by George Orwell, “1984.” The rules of privacy and individual liberty were rewritten. It happened under a Republican administration and seemingly joyously accepted by the Democrats. Curiously, there were many of them decrying the heavy-handed nature of surveillance and the broad powers used by the NSA and Homeland Security when the Republicans occupied the oval office, but somehow this is much more acceptable even under more aggressive activity once the Democrats became the dominant executives in charge.

Edward Snowden became a bigger public anathema to the NSA than WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. His public statements about the voracity and scope of NSA eavesdropping put them in the spotlight of the world community in a manner to which they never wanted. Besides the obvious media revelations about all U.S. citizens as well as many foreign nationals, have their phone, email and text conversations recorded. In the midst of constructing larger facilities in Utah, they have found themselves temporarily in the cross hairs of a public outcry on a range of indiscretions. Further revelations from Mr. Snowden include the admittance he absconded with a lot of supportive material revealing their electronic spy tactics.

This latest story suggests that some compromises have been entertained amongst the community to retrieve those documents, even if it might require amnesty. If they get the documents, they can squelch any story counter to their own PR. Of course the State Department, an official arm of the administration wants no deal and would like to see the man locked up without any foreseeable release date.

New NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah

NSA Data Center under construction in Bluffdale, UT – Photograph owned AP

You can rape your sister, kill your brother, but when you mess with the ruling class, you’re going to get the full onslaught of those in charge. It’s always been that way. It threatens their ability to be in control. We like to think we live in modern times, but all societies treat national secrets whistle blowers as a pariah. Full understanding of those facts combined with the integrity of one’s word, should guide decisions of others contemplating this type of activity.

Minions

The National Security Agency is vacuuming up records of millions of phone calls made inside the United States. A court order reveals Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC ), whose proceedings rarely become public, was signed by Judge Roger Vinson, a federal judge in Florida.

Vinson’s order relies on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, 50 USC 1861, better known as the “business records” portion. It allows FBI agents to obtain any “tangible thing,” including “books, records, papers, documents, and other items,” a broad term that includes dumps from private-sector computer databases with limited judicial oversight.

This story contradicts that of the NSA when they sat down with CBS News to explain how they function.

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