Beyond the Cusp

August 11, 2016

Trump Paranoia Trumps Trump Facts

 

There were three articles this past week by two of my favorite reads and that struck me as a tad bit obsessive, so I decided I would be a little obsessive myself and write about Trump again and all too soon. The first item I wish to present are the recent polls showing Hillary Clinton defeating The Donald 50% to 39% with 7% going to the Libertarian Party candidate and the rest to the Green Party. The fact that these two were included in the poll and the Constitution Party was not was indicative of seeking every presumably mainstream viable candidates despite us all knowing that Donald Duck had as good if not better chance than the Libertarian and Green Party candidates of winning the elections, especially this year where more will be pressed to write in a Disney or Peanuts character. Still, it seems somewhat difficult to believe that Hillary Clinton gained nearly 8% points while Donald Trump lost around 3% in a single week, but then again this is an election like few others. The last time anything remotely similar came down the pike the United States elected James K. Polk as their President and that may have had more to do with the opponent’s campaign theme stating, “Who the hell is James K. Polk.” Perhaps there is something to be said for getting your name out before the public even if it is your opponent ridiculing your obscurity. Perhaps if Henry Clay had ran advertisements with his name instead of his opponent’s he would have won the election and nobody would ever have heard of James K. Polk, but he didn’t and so we now know that Polk was the eleventh President of the United States. But enough about then, this is now and we have a completely different problem as both the candidates are well known, maybe a little too well known.

 

James K, Polk and Henry Clay

James K, Polk and Henry Clay

 

Just a quick aside to those who feel I write too often about Trump and appear to be ignoring Ms. Clinton. Hillary Clinton’s shortfalls and misdeeds are more than well-known and her record stands as it is for better or for worse. Thus far she has not been indicted, but not for lack of trying. Some would claim that much of the effort has been spent finding reasons and ways not to charge her with crimes; many might say far too much effort. The one item which might be of interest is that there are no laws which preclude being President and giving all your State of the Union addresses from the Prison library. Imprisonment does not disqualify one from being elected President and would only prevent them from serving past a few weeks if the Congress brought charges of impeachment and a guilty finding removing her from office. Without an impeachment conviction from Congress there is no reason a President could not serve two terms as President while serving a long term in even Federal Prison, though such would be unlikely.

 

The most echoed complaint about Donald Trump has been his sophomoric attitudes and overindulgence of self-adoration. Then there is the further claim that he tends to go off on tangents and wild exclamations in response to what should be serious answers to serious questions. He takes criticism as if it was an attack on his being and returns as he perceives he has received. All of these are packaged in different orders of severity and then summarily referred to as disqualifying him to hold the office of President. Character faults, ignorance, self-adoration and aloofness are also not disqualifications to the office of President. Actually, there are very few actual qualifications to be President and none of them have much to do with intelligence, education, good character or even literacy. So, no matter how disqualified many of us believe one or the other, if not both, candidates put up by the two major parties may appear to be, let us assure you that both are technically as qualified as one need be to be elected President. So the next time you read a column claiming either candidate is unqualified to be President be assured that you are reading an editorial opinion and not a fact.

 

One of the other favorite reasons which make Trump a poor choice to be President, we have read, is that he will have his finger on the button, or more accurately direct access to a list of launch codes for different scenarios, which in and of themselves would likely take a week of briefings for any normal human being to master, and that would pose too dangerous a position to allow such a shallow and unserious person who seems more drawn to the adulation of the office than the actual performance of the duties to be permitted to access. Luckily, Donald Trump is likely not the buffoon he has been playing thus far on the campaign trail and likely is aware, as are many pundits though they are want to admit, the real campaign as far as some 80% of the voting public are concerned does not begin until the second or third week of April and everything before that is grist for the political mill, and Donald is giving the mill all it can handle. He will not even start spending in earnest as those paying attention now have already decided and picked their preferred poison. This is definitely going to be an election decided in the final two weeks and everything before is trimming hanging in the hall. If Trump is going to become serious as promised, do not expect this new Donald until the end of September as he will give the media a week or two of introductions before refining it for the final push when the election truly will be decided. Trump is not the fool he appears to be playing as you do not even hold on to a fortune as a fool and if half his claims are valid he has done rather well in his investments despite the media concentrating on those that went bust. Ask any true investor and one of their likely favorite quotes comes from Edison who claimed his success came from not allowing failures to deter him but only to show him another thing which would not work.

 

Donald Trump having the access codes for nuclear weapons is not giving a baby dynamite and matches and leaving them in the quarry to play. He is no more prone to starting a nuclear exchange on his Presidential whim than most of us, though there are some who might have doubts about that. Further, after two or three days in office Donald Trump will be disabused of any thoughts that he was just elected to the cushiest job on the planet. Those days will be spent receiving the most serious reality check conceivable as he is briefed by the CIA, Military Intelligence, FBI, NSA and a number of agencies neither he nor we have ever heard of and what he will learn would turn the hair on a peach white. I am fairly sure such reports and truths about the realities in the deepest recesses within our world, which most of us are not privileged to know, unequivocally and in the starkest terms would serve to alter even Donald Trump shaking all he believed he knew about the world in which we reside. Even things deduced by the fiercest news addict would take the wind from Trumps antics and bring him crashing back to be grounded in what is real and presented before him. Add to this the fact that he will have appointed people who are well known for expertise in the workings and situations around the world, people whose worlds most of us would never care to share if we were informed as many of these experts reside in day in and day out. The only two Presidents in since even before World War I who were likely not even the slightest surprised when they received their initial briefings would have been President Dwight David Eisenhower, as he had just finished commanding the allied efforts in Europe and pretty much knew many of the troublesome areas as he was living them, and President George H. W. Bush (the elder), as he had been head of the CIA formerly and Vice-President and probably trusted and included in many of the Presidential briefings thus knew most of what any briefing upon taking office was going to contain. There are very good reasons why the Presidency tends to age the men holding the office so visibly, and these are reasons which most of us would just as well not be made privileged to as it would remove any doubt about the shape of the world and threats held within.

 

There is also the truth that Donald Trump has presented defining core beliefs which are placed on his campaign website though for detractors it is far easier to challenge the Trump buffoonery he has shown the media, especially those in the media seeking to discredit him. Baiting the mainstream media has been one of the games that Donald Trump has played largely for his own amusement as he is just as aware as are we that there would be no pleasing the leftist media pundits and if he were to treat their questions seriously they would likely ask him when he planned to stop beating his wife and if he answered it the headline would read, ‘Trump Beats his Wife,’ or ‘Trump Refuses to Stop Beating Wife.’ That would be the reality of much of the reporting as we have already witnessed; so with these tricksters and gamers out there laying traps for him to fall into, and he has fallen for more than his supporters wish he had forcing them to defend the undefendable, why even treat their ‘interrogatories with any degree of respect and seriousness when all they exist for are for Trump to take them on seriously and then they report the choicest morsels strung together out of context and in an order often expressing the opposite or things never uttered by Donald Trump. We will not even deign to give any examples as doing so would also serve to send our readers into the darker corners of the liberal, leftist media and all its machinations. Suffice it to say, Donald Trump is giving a show for the pure entertainment factor as he realizes the media is trying to game him, so why not play along and game the gamers. Trump has his positions defined, as we linked to above, but that is not what the media wishes to cover or expose to the light of day. Informing the American public that Trump has serious positions, which anybody can go and read for themselves, is not what their coverage is about, theirs is to destroy all veracity and support behind Donald Trump such that their darling, Hillary Clinton, wins the election by hook or by crook come November. This is also why we will witness more and more polls showing Hillary Clinton pulling away eventually predicting a landslide win for Hillary Clinton all in an effort to suppress Trump voters from even going to the polls on election day.

 

Presidential Rivals Not So Different on Far Too Many Positions

Presidential Rivals Not So Different
on Far Too Many Positions

 

It should not surprise anybody with an ounce of integrity who has experienced even the slightest glimpse into how the media operates and the extents the state with all of its power even to include court challenges which even if fought and won would take those proceedings past election day thus accomplishing the goal of hiding true democratic choices openly to the public. The reality is the fix is in that there are but two parties and that the United States has a two party system. Check your Constitution and you will not find anywhere a limit to the number of parties permitted in American political theater. There have been elections thrown to Congress to sort things out as none of the candidates, sometimes more than even just three, reached the required number of electoral votes to become President and the delegates remained locked. Four candidates, Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford and Henry Clay, had originally campaigned for the presidency in 1823-24 and each man had the unyielding support base generally reflected the geographic region from which each came. Further confusing the election of 1823-4 was the fact that all four candidates claimed to represent the same party, the Democratic-Republican Party. Who said there had to be more than one party for controversy and more than a single candidate for the office of the President? Numerous Presidential elections have included more than two parties and others have had one party nominate and run two candidates in order to win differing states with neither candidate strong enough overall. This seldom made any difference as fielding two candidates proved to almost always throw the election to the other party. This in and of itself as well as the destructive antics of people such a Teddy Roosevelt running with his own Bull Moose Party simply because he did not win his party’s nomination which simply weakened his former party’s position splitting their vote and throwing the election to their mutual opposition. Often such splits worked to divide but not conquer as that divide was most apparent on the side of the third party candidate taking votes from their former and natural party leaving their mutual opponent the electoral victory.

 

The finality is this claim that the only fact which supports a Trump receiving anybody’s vote is due to their distaste for Hillary Clinton. This is an insult to the true supporters of Donald Trump though these pundits would also claim that the average Trump supporter is too ignorant or lacking in intelligence to understand that they had been insulted; simply piling on now, aren’t we. What makes the claims against Donald Trump appear to be greater than their support base is directly due to elitist and Republican hierarchy who detest Donald Trump and are ashamed of his candidacy representing their party, a party they believe deserves better than Donald Trump. If these people are pushed, the reality surfaces and we find that these are the very elitists and establishment Republicans who gave the electorate John McCain and Mitt Romney, both wonderful men with lots of talent and capable of being an outstanding President except they are centrist candidates more popular with the party leadership than its people. This is where Trump can claim his right to the nomination as he defeated all the centrist elites’ candidates and the other conservative darlings even once it became evident that the race was finally between two men, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, neither very popular with the Republican upper crust leadership who were left wondering where they went wrong. That has an easy answer, they were fully behind repeating every mistake of the last two elections and the people decided otherwise. One needs look no further than the campaign funding of the candidates. Initially all money was bet on Jeb Bush. He crashed and burned early. Then the money went to Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ben Carson and others except for Trump. Donald Trump was the red haired, freckled step child nobody wanted left to grow up in a political orphanage but Trump took to the mean streets, like the ones in New York where he was raised. He then proceeded to battle the entire power structure of the Republican Party, the party he was attempting to garner the support for his candidacy for President. Somehow this proved the best path to tread as this was the year of the outsider. Yep, the year of the outsider and the primaries gave us the two main candidates having over 50% negatives for both in polling and two as connected monetarily deeply in the establishment of either party. That was the one truth evident in the 1823-4 elections, when carefully examined there is still only one party which could be called the Democratic-Republican Party even today. The main difference is that the Clintons have always been in the midst of the political mainstream and elites on the left while Donald Trump can actually be viewed as an outsider despite his campaign contributions, which he made often equally to each party, which were pay to play contributions so Donald could always claim he had supported either candidate dependent on his access to whatever approvals his next project will be required. That is the reality of how business need operate in order to not become subservient to either party and especially to their politics.

 

So, what can we say about Donald Trump and the fears he exudes to so many pundits and other commentary of these elections? Much of the fear is simply the media attempting to play on other people’s fears which can be largely traced back to early losses by favorite candidates such a Jeb Bush, likely the candidate with the moneyed support and who was considered, according to the media, to be the established leader which should have read the establishment’s candidate whose sole fear is that they have nothing truly behind them but the moneyed leadership whose sum total is greater in dollars compared to numbers of supporters. Such proved too deep a hole to get oneself extricated no matter what the monetary reserves contained. This was proven time after time where some even threw their hat in the ring supporting others who remained to fight a better fight but each failed until Trump and not-Trump remained the two standing candidates. Candidates other than Donald Trump were no longer gaining supporters as much as they were gaining people desperate to prevent Trump from winning the Republican nomination making him their candidate for President. Even now after the convention and every last ditch efforts having failed are seeking to find some way of placing a favorite son in every state to deny Trump winning in every state where this may become an accomplished reality. What these panicked elitists of the party are missing in their calculations is that if they prevent Trump winning some state all they have accomplished is electing Hillary Clinton as she will win such states handily. So, those opposed to having Hillary Clinton for their President had best find some reason they can latch upon in order to place Donald Trump into the White House. The one advantage this year had brought is both of the party candidates will desire looking truly knowledgeable in most areas desperately seeking any bump they can garner. It still remains to be seen exactly where the youths’ votes will fall at the end of the day. Another crucial area which bears watching, as it will be a vital and necessary component if Donald Trump hopes to be competitive, is the trending of the voting for married women, a demographic to both be voting on Election Day and supporting Trump in sufficient percentages. This one vital demographic is and has been the biggest question mark in the Trump equation, married women, especially those with a college education, and whether they will vote in sufficiently high percentages as well as vote Trump overwhelmingly. Without this demographic a Trump victory appears shaky and in jeopardy. Of course that is if polling is to be believed. Possibly the most manufactured and profoundly wrong segment of the entire election might turn out to be how little polling can be an accurate gauge of public opinions in this new digital world. One poll may prove to be the most accurate of them all are those based on social media, Twitter in particular. We will have to wait and see while keeping in the back of our minds that the pundits have sold Donald Trump nearly every step of the way. They have raised questions on his origins, intelligence, seriousness, knowledgeability, competence, skill set and any other quality which could be used to berate, belittle and otherwise oppose his candidacy and Trump has proven them wrong at every turn. The question now is whether he can do this one more time in November.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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June 26, 2014

ISIS Revealed in Congressional Research Service Report

The news reports have depicted the relative ease with which the former al-Qaeda offshoot and now solo terrorist army ISIS has sliced their way clearing a large swath across the Sunni dominated central regions of Iraq from Mosul southward and now closing in on Baghdad. There have been comparisons between the ease with which ISIS forces have conquered areas which took the United States many long months to clear out and liberate. Some have even spent some time informing the readers that the ISIS troops are the reanimated remnants of those forces that the United States defeated in those very same areas during the surge and in other fighting. The commander of the ISIS forces is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, one of the persons held by United States forces and released in 2009 from the United States Camp Bucca which was located near Umm Qasr in Iraq. In many ways this story of his release is somewhat misleading and because of the date of his release there are those placing the blame on President Obama but because all of the detainees in Camp Bucca were transferred into Iraqi control by an agreement in 2008 others have placed the blame with President George W. Bush. So, what is the truth in this sordid mess? Well, neither of the two Presidents of the United States placed any hard restrictions against Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being released as he was not of any particular importance and did not hold a senior position or command any forces back in 2008 through 2009 so there was no particular reason to detain him over any other detainee. The people who did permit his release were the Iraqis so if anybody must be placed in the limelight for having released the man who has risen into the position of the most feared and potentially dangerous terrorist leader in the world, I guess it would have to be the same man who is now most threatened by his approaching forces, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Sometimes the natural order in which events play out do actually hold the guilty to be threatened when the rooster comes home to roost, or the terrorist leads his army to your doorstep.

 

This leads us to the report provided to Congress by their research arm, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on the present situation and probable future ramifications of the perceived threats. According to the June 20 report CRS asserts that, “Several leading representatives of the U.S. intelligence community have stated that ISIS maintains training camps in Iraq and Syria, has the intent to attack the United States and is reportedly recruiting and training individuals to do so.” Their report also quotes al-Baghdadi making a threat quoting his declarations where he stated, “Know, O defender of the Cross, that a proxy war will not help you in the Levant, just as it will not help you in Iraq. Soon, you will be in direct conflict, Allah permitting, against your will.” Back to the CRS report, it further states, “ISIS attempts to assert control over the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, and its June 2014 offensive in northern Iraq underscored the group’s lethality and ability to conduct combat operations and manage partnerships with local groups in multiple areas over large geographic distances.”

 

Retired Army officer and military analyst Robert Maginnis talked about how ISIS has prepared to execute such attacks in Western nations, especially within Europe and the United States stating, “It already has many hundreds of jihadists with Western nation passports. Those battle-proven jihadists will eventually return to their Western homelands to carry on the jihad using the violent ways learned in Syria and Iraq. And now that ISIS controls a giant swath of the Middle East, the Western jihadists have a training platform, financing and a cheerleading state sponsor.” Another pertinent set of comments came from spokesman for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby pointed out, “If you look at the map of Iraq, I mean, sort of the central swath going from north of Samarra around Tikrit all the way up to Mosul, that’s ISIS controlled territory, by and large, and we’re seeing them try to solidify those gains and to continue to threaten Baghdad. That’s kind of the general lay down.” In its conclusion, the CRS report stated, “The offensive in northern and central Iraq, led by the Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group ISIS, has raised significant concerns for the United States. These concerns include a possible breakup of Iraq’s political and territorial order and the establishment of a potential base for terrorist attacks in the region or even against the U.S. homeland.”

 

So, what can be concluded from all of these commentaries, reports and other information? The most obvious item is that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has memories of his stay as a guest of the American military at Camp Bucca in Iraq and some of those memories are apparently not the most pleasant. We do not know and likely will never know whether or not he drew any special interest by the CIA and whether he had faced any special handling and questioning. Where the lack of any reported concern or importance being noted thus far we might believe that his detention was no worse or better than any other detainee. Still, al-Baghdadi has a real special hatred for the United States and appears to have special plans for vengeance or simply a strong desire for payback. We also can deduce that he is a person who is driven and knows how to accomplish the goals he sets for himself and those whom he leads and that his troops are highly motivated. As for their level of training, it has been obvious by the assaults made in Iraq and Syria by ISIS that the followers of ISIS are very well trained in explosives and the many forms of terrorist bombing techniques. As for their level of war fighting, we know they had no difficulty defeating the Iraqi military units they faced but reports of those confrontations said more about the lack of motivation and ability by the Iraqi military than they displayed any real abilities of the ISIS terrorist troops. With the dispatch of United States Special Forces trainers, intelligence personnel, logistics oversight and tactical officers, we can hope to see how well the ISIS units perform against determined and motivated military units. Unfortunately for the United States advisors and support personnel being deployed, I have my doubts about the efficiency and abilities of the Iraqi forces. The fact that tens of thousands of Iraqi troops stripped off their uniforms, threw down their weapons and abandoned their heavy weapons along with their armored vehicles and then attempted to blend in with the civilian surroundings does not bode well for the competence of the Iraqis. The cowardice displayed by the Iraqi troops could easily lead one to believe that there was some conspiratorial complicity between the Iraqi troops deployed in the Sunni areas and the ISIS forces which would permit the outright gifting of their equipment and other military assets to ISIS. The slaughtering of so many civilians and presumed troops does place such a theory into doubt and we will never know the truth as dead men tell no tales and those who survived will very likely not desire to present themselves as evidence or witness for fear of retribution from one side or the other.

 

We have also been granted a peek into the measures taken by the forces of ISIS and much of their looting and stealing of cash, gold, silver and other precious items from the banks and stores in Mosul depict well regulated troops who have very good intelligence and have a well figured set of protocols which will maximize their ability to gather funds which can be used to advance their cause and father them more advanced equipment and arms. We are not made aware if ISIS is receiving monetary assistance from the Sunni oil rich nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and others even if such funds were only provided for their efforts in Syria and against Iran and Hezballah. We are aware that they are fanatical and quite willing to murder anybody they meet who they determine are not as religious and devout as they would demand. This was made so very evident by the hundreds if not thousands that they had murdered claiming they had transgressed against Sharia. The one apparent sign of weakness has been the unwillingness or just plain lack of desire on the part of ISIS to tackle the Kurdish militias in the north beyond Mosul and the fact that the Kurdish units were capable of recapturing Kirkuk from ISIS forces. We do know the level of training and proficiency of the Kurdish Peshmarga, and their motivation is almost off the charts high and they have no intention in giving up one inch of the lands they currently hold and may very well prove to be the most proficient troops in fighting against the ISIS terrorists.

 

The other reality we have gained is that ISIS will try to find any means available to attack and injure the United States, both military and civilian targets. Should ISIS take control of a large segment of Iraq then they would have their own area which could act as an actual nation but a nation run by terrorist forces of ISIS much like Lebanon is currently run by Hezballah who have taken control of the government and now also run much of the Lebanese military units. In some ways the fact that Iran is now finding it necessary to fight to save Iraq from the ISIS terrorist military is a special form of payback as it was Iran who financed and assisted al-Qaeda, including the precursors for ISIS when these terrorists were fighting the United States forces during the American efforts in Iraq. So now it looks as if Iranian military forces will be required to fight against the very monster their government created in the efforts to cripple the United States after they overthrew Saddam Hussein. The one fear which should have the majority of Americans watching every deployment of United States military forces is the slow but steady increase of personnel into Iraq. They need to remember that Viet Nam started long before President Johnson escalated the deployment to the massive levels at the climax of the war in Viet Nam with advisors sent to simply train and provide intelligence by President Eisenhower in the late 1950s. The other disaster which at least currently does not appear possible would be the temporary unification between Sunni and Shiites bringing ISIS and Iran troops, including the Iran sponsored terrorists all in one large assault on the West in Europe and the United States. There has been evidence indicating that Iran has plans in place for attacks against the United States and now this evidence that ISIS shares that desire makes one wonder if these two might not simply work together in order to destroy the western nations and their technological advantages. With the United States currently appearing to be in remission, the possibility for these terrorist entities to cooperate increasing their relative strength may not be as impossible as the media would want us to believe. Even if it were the slightest of possibilities, it would be prudent to watch and be prepared should such an alliance be cobbled together, then seeking allies at the last minute would be too little too late. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” a truism stated by Thomas Jefferson.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 6, 2014

Are Privacy Rights Even Possible Today?

The United States Constitution stipulates a carefully constructed and balanced governance with opposing interests and powers separated and posed as checks against the usurpation of excessive power over time by any one branch, individual or small group of individuals. Still, the Founding Fathers were challenged by the representatives of the various states and the people to give stated recognition and formalized structure to the protections of the individual from the power and infringement by the government which resulted in the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. This set of Amendments placed defined limitations on the government and its related institutions as well as defined unabridged rights awarded the people by an authority which superseded the government and any individual, group, corporation or entity. Initially there were a dozen proposed Amendments which were to constitute the Bill of Rights but only ten survived the ratification process. The first of the two Amendments which were not ratified pertained to the number of representatives and the maximum number of citizens they would be permitted to represent all in a sliding scale that increased the ratio as the number of representatives in the House of Representatives is increased as the total passed each hundred. It is easier to read the proposal than explain, so, it reads, “After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.” The other rejected Amendment concerned the rate of payment for members of the House of Representatives and read, “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

 

All that may be interesting but it also has as much relevance to the modern world as do those definitions for the number of citizens each House of Representatives member has in their districts as today that number is in excess of seven hundreds of thousands, not the tens of thousands as was originally thought to be a fair ratio. The idea of personal anonymity and the safeguarding of each person from excessive government intrusion and inspection were considered sacrosanct at the writing and founding of the United States. This was a unique concept whose origins were a recent concept then and now is either a concept that has never been addressed for much of the world and becoming a quaint and dated concept where it originated in the political parlors and by the political philosophers and thinkers leading up to the founding of the United States and the explosion of representative governance in Europe and America. The current debate has taken some twists and turns especially since the revelations introduced into the public conscience through the release of classified information by Edward Snowden about the extent of spying on individual citizens by the United States government. Of course his releases told of what many thought to be excessive intrusions by the NSA and other data gathering government agencies and were perceived as being something relatively new as such unprecedented ability for gathering data, especially electronic data, was thought to be a recently acquired ability for government. The reality is even more frightening than what was revealed by Mr. Snowden as the NSA has been capable of recording virtually every bit of electronic data generated in the United States since somewhere back in the 1970s. This ability has been supplemented and expanded repeatedly going through different names, one of the more memorable being the Echelon System used in the 1980 -90s which also was capable of recording huge amounts of data comparable to the total electronic data output of the United States. It is apparent that the NSA has increased their abilities in, at a minimum, direct correlation to the amount of electronic data capable of being produced by the United States, no small feat. Recent revelation have told of the United States actually recording every e-mail and electronic communication of any one nation in the world in addition to its abilities to monitor the United States electronic output and some have spoken of the ability to record to some extent and level all the electronic communications and generated data of the entire planet. What possibility for privacy remains when measured against such unfathomable abilities?

 

Those who specialize in knowing the extent and depth of the abilities to gather data on an individual often are quoted, though almost always as an anonymous source, telling of borderline or even absolutely mind-boggling abilities possessed by the government spying and law enforcement agencies. There have been cases claiming they have the ability to listen to a conversation in a closed room from as much as a quarter or half mile distant simply by pointing a specialized laser at a window pane and interpreting the changes in the vibration of the glass molecules as long as the window is not covered by a thick, sound dampening set of curtains. There are claims that they can locate people using thermal imaging through walls of almost any building. Many have heard that the spy satellites optics are capable of reading a newspaper that somebody is reading sitting on a park bench. The Soviet Union demanded that their government employees never carry any classified documents outside of buildings unless they were safely contained in a briefcase. Many of the tactics used in the biggest Hollywood films such as listening in on conversations from a distance utilizing parabolic microphones and other such routine spy thriller capabilities are likely outdated by the time we see them in movies. There was a recent report that some government agency was researching some form of determining through observable and easily collected data who would be most likely to commit crimes, what those crimes would be, whom they would target and when the crime would be committed with some degree of dependable accuracy. What is the obligation of the government if they are capable of predicting future criminal events in preventing any harm resulting from such acts and how close are we to replacing the precogs lying in a pool and seeing events referred to as precrimes as in the movie Minority Report except using instruments, computers and software programs to predict such possibilities. Between the abilities of governments for data collection, computing of metadata, and making accurate predictions and profiling individuals, what possibility does anybody have of escaping with even the slightest shred of privacy intact? And what can be done to prevent governments from misusing such data, and even more important, what limits should be placed on private companies when it comes to sharing personal data and forming profiles on individuals which can and are used in targeted advertising and other such abilities. And even if such limitations were to be incorporated into regulations or criminal codes, how would they even be enforced or even could they be enforced and if enforced, what other problems would result from government attempting to gather the proof of such crimes being committed? It becomes mind-boggling just playing out the ever-expanding web resulting from data collection and manipulation.

 

The final area that also is providing insights which may be an even bigger threat is in the area of AI, artificial intelligence. Google and Microsoft are working with the United States government and who knows who else to utilize the data they are able to collect using buying patterns and search terminology used when searching the internet and many other data inputs to formulate a program or set of programs that will be able to predict future trends and reason and think in a manner close to that of a human being. They claim such research is being used to better serve the public and to be able to design robots in the future that will be better enabled to interact with people. What threats to our privacy exist as a result of such research and is there any way we can protect ourselves from such intrusions? The result of everything we are experiencing and that are being reported is that there is no longer anything that even resembles the privacy that the Founding Fathers attempted to give the people guarantees would be held sacred by government. That is looking less and less likely with every revelation. Now the United States is implementing a healthcare system which will posit all the healthcare information into the computers of the IRS, Internal Revenue Service, the tax people. How much power will the government have when the IRS has complete records of your healthcare and your financial situation? How will government use such data and will the government now determine the level of healthcare a person will be entitled to be provided conditional on their financial worth to the society as a whole? This could easily enter an area which at its worst could result in some form of euthanasia and a form of means testing to qualify for healthcare treatments at the least. Thinking too long and too hard on the completeness of the government’s ability to gather every iota of personal information on each and every individual, especially realizing that each of us are potentially ourselves, and to utilize this data to predict our future actions and results of everything in our lives such that they can literally know before we ourselves are aware of what tomorrow holds for each of us and use this ability for nefarious purposes which will compromise every shred of our privacy and most know our most intimate thoughts before we even have them, can any government or person be trusted with such knowledge and the power it imparts. Some of the items which were restricted to the areas of futurist political science fiction such as in Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World are now becoming within the grasp of government and companies making these stories warnings of what is coming soon to our worlds and it will make for many horrifying prognostications on what our lives will become. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely and ultimate power corrupts beyond imagination and what is coming is beyond even that.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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