William Thien

Archive for June 2013

I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve brought up the subject of social welfare in a discussion and the costs to society the socialist (Democrat) response has almost always been, “Yeah, well what about corporate welfare?”

Those of us who follow a more conservative path must realize that in order to address the matter of social welfare, something we all know is thoroughly abused, we must also address the subject of corporate welfare. Because as long as the socialists can respond to our calls for smaller government and fewer social welfare programs, as long as socialists can respond with, “Well, what about corporate welfare?”, we conservatives won’t make any ground. Why?

Because the socialists have a legitimate point.

Now, I am pro-business. I am a capitalist. But when nonsensical legislation and tax loopholes allow corporations to undermine the American working class by shipping jobs outside of US borders or special tax categories allow certain businesses to remain in business long after they are viable or competitive, I believe the United States tax code requires reform. Because it is at that point philosophically that there is no distinction between social welfare programs for people and corporate welfare. No distinction whatsoever!

So in a sense, not only do particular tax loopholes and write-offs for corporations undermine the American working classes by shipping jobs outside of the country, for example, it is the existence of massive forms of corporate welfare (too big to fail bailouts that end up as $1,000,000 bonuses as another example), it is the massive forms of corporate welfare that undermine our attempts as conservatives to curtail social welfare programs for people and the massive abuses and misuses that come with them. One only needs to ask a socialist.

Corporate welfare begets social welfare.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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One of the most drastic problems with the current status of illegal immigration in The United States is that industry benefits thoroughly from NAFTA while the citizenry suffers from the same legislation as it undermines their economic position. Yet the burden of maintaining the border or paying for the benefits obtained by illegal immigrants is still passed on to the citizen. Industry covers none of that while it simultaneously ships jobs just outside of our country’s borders due to favorable tax loopholes for doing so.

William Thien

A co-worker of mine asked me rather indirectly to address the matter of illegal immigration in the United States. I’ve been putting it off.

So I’ll get right to the point. We only have two choices really. Either seal off the border and do it right…or we will have to implement a European Union type solution.

Already with NAFTA (North American Free Tree Agreement) we are trading amongst North American countries for all practical purposes tariff free. Because of NAFTA, which of course devastated the job market in The United States, the framework is already there for a North American Union of some type. Our industry profits from the close proximity of foreign countries but the citizenry pays thoroughly in the form of taxes for benefits obtained by illegal immigrants while industry covers none of those costs, AND at the same time our citizenry endures loss of employment as jobs…

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Another interesting aspect of the Snowden revelation about The NSA is that it really isn’t all that exceptional with regard to levels of surveillance. For instance, other US security agencies have been acting at the same level of surveillance as The NSA since 9/11, enacting a “nationwide blanket search warrant” you could say.

If as I’ve described previously two teenagers in one situation and an elderly woman in another were concerned that for some reason the government was going to potentially view them as terrorism suspects because of a text message, perhaps it is because when the teenagers or the elderly woman use the airport for example, The TSA (Transportation Security Agency) has been searching them, searching young children even, searching them physically.

Essentially, there is no difference between what The NSA or The TSA are doing when you consider the scope or breadth of intrusion or level of surveillance. Every American is and for over a decade now has been considered a potential terrorist if one considers the extent of search.

It raises an important question, “What is more threatening to a country’s liberty and social condition, something such as a blanket search warrant of all of its citizens or the mere profiling of a small, frequently foreign in origination and historically dangerous segment of the population which lies therein?”

I think the answer is rather obvious.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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In a public venue the other day I heard two teenagers discussing a text message to someone. I happened to overhear one of them say, “No way, dude. The NSA!” He whispered with raspy emphasis. Later in the week I overheard a conversation in a public place where an elderly lady said to a middle-aged man, “No, I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want the government thinking I’m a terrorist.” The elderly lady was clearly over seventy years old.

I had to laugh a bit. If teenagers and seventy year old ladies are concerned about being monitored by The NSA and being labeled terrorists, that may be the very definition of “a chilling effect,” a chilling effect in its purest form.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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No doubt revelations about The NSA spying on all of us have a chilling effect, but I can’t help noticing that nobody is paying attention any longer to how corporations spy on us to the same or greater extent as The NSA, trade the information they obtain about us wholesale, and nobody bats an eyelash about that.

William Thien

I have to admit that given the current political climate the matter of the government using The NSA to compile all of our phone records and the collection of all of our credit card transactions, our internet activity, and the impending governmentalization of our medical records, I have to admit the matter is chilling.

But I think it would be unwise to disregard the same behavior by corporations, those corporations that place “cookies” and viruses on your computer to track your internet activity, those companies that monitor your cell phone activity, the trading of information regarding your purchases, and all of your other public activity, all of it, whatever it may be. It is spying, espionage, corporate espionage. As a country we are naturally concerned about what our government has The NSA doing yet we seem almost apathetic about corporations that are doing essentially exactly the same thing.

I believe…

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I telephoned Sen. McCain’s office in Tucson, AZ today asking that he work to facilitate the trade between the Afghan Taliban for our soldier Bowe Bergdahl. Being a former P.O.W. himself, I believe Sen. McCain can provide the expertise of his experiences regarding the matter.

The Taliban have offered to trade Bowe Bergdahl for five of their senior operatives imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

I believe the trade is crucial as we head in to the next phase of the war in Afghanistan, peace talks with The Taliban, and though many believe such talks are not advisable, trading the five Taliban operatives for Bowe Bergdahl is a good faith gesture from The Taliban that we should not disregard.

“Leave no one behind.”

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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Where I reside the state legislature is scheduled to vote on a budget package that includes a provision authorizing law enforcement to take DNA from someone upon arrest. I telephoned my local legislator expressing my concern about taking DNA upon arrest rather than conviction. The budget is structured as a package and the provision with regard to taking DNA upon arrest cannot be removed from the budget as it is written.

Upon the advent of fingerprinting as a forensic tool there was a corresponding decrease in crime as investigators were able to make connections between criminal events and arrest the correct suspect. That is likely to be the case with the implementation of a DNA database. We would like to see that law enforcement has every tool at its disposal to solve crimes and DNA extraction is one of the most effective methods.

My problem though with extracting DNA upon arrest is that the DNA is going to the government. Unlike fingerprints, which are an external characteristic of a person, DNA is internal and the grand structure or design of a person. With today’s technology DNA can be altered, replicated, and manipulated for any number of reasons.

There is a sort of “creational,” theological value to DNA in a sense because it is believed by some that within the complexities of the DNA may lie the engine or source of the soul. To me, a theologian might find that the matter of DNA extraction by the government is a matter of the separation of church and state. Honestly, at this time I am not certain as to who, whom, or what I would choose, church or state, as the arbiter of such matters. Both choices concern me.

So, perhaps it is better to wait for a conviction before taking a person’s DNA. This may be one time the acquisition of evidence should occur later rather than sooner. The less time the government has your DNA, the less time it has to manipulate the DNA if it so chooses. My concern does not lie with the fear that the police themselves will somehow adulterate the DNA evidence but rather that the DNA will get into the wrong hands somehow once a database is constructed.

With your DNA material in the hands of the government, there is no telling what will be done.

Governments have been known to become monsters with such power and so too have religions.

Note: You should know that my DNA is on file with a branch of The US Military and was taken during a military physical a couple of years ago to be used to identify my remains. So I am not entirely against the process of using DNA for the purposes of identification.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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I have to admit that given the current political climate the matter of the government using The NSA to compile all of our phone records and the collection of all of our credit card transactions, our internet activity, and the impending governmentalization of our medical records, I have to admit the matter is chilling.

But I think it would be unwise to disregard the same behavior by corporations, those corporations that place “cookies” and viruses on your computer to track your internet activity, those companies that monitor your cell phone activity, the trading of information regarding your purchases, and all of your other public activity, all of it, whatever it may be. It is spying, espionage, corporate espionage. As a country we are naturally concerned about what our government has The NSA doing yet we seem almost apathetic about corporations that are doing essentially exactly the same thing.

I believe such behavior by corporations can or may be just as dangerous to the public’s well-being, especially when there are no restrictions on how such information is traded from one business desirous of that information to the next. Some corporations have annual budgets in the multiples of states and small countries. Naturally, they will do anything in their power to maintain those annual revenues. Those corporations are governed and run by people, and so we must not forget human nature.

What the government has directed The NSA to do really requires a blanket search warrant, something The Constitution says is illegal. What corporations are doing is no different. Again, we are concerned about how the government has tasked The NSA, yet we allow corporations to do the same thing with no such legal requirement as a search warrant. And this is why I think this episode may have something to do with being a bit of a diversion. For a long time most of us have known the government was compiling our communications records under provisions of The Patriot Act. Then, just a couple of months ago the country was in the throes of a discussion about how private entities, corporations and businesses were tracking our internet activity, our credit card transactions, you name it, and even selling that information on the open market. What, I ask you, is more dangerous to your liberty?

So, while we are debating the government programs with the stated intent of preventing terrorism we must not forget that there are other powerful entities out there with unbridled interests and with power in a public sense equal at least to substantial segments of our government.

In fact the thought occurred to me that this entire episode and public debate about what the government is doing through the auspices of The NSA may be a diversion meant to halt or quell the debate which was recently invigorated about just that, that corporations are trading information about the citizen and their internet activity and cell phone activity wholesale and nobody seems to care. Or do they care yet some don’t want us to care and they are changing the subject. Shall I add a question mark to the previous sentence or shall we just leave it at that?

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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A while back I added to this blog a favorable recommendation for a book written by Charles Adams titled Those Dirty Rotten Taxes, The TAX REVOLTS that BUILT AMERICA.

I wanted to include here an excerpt from the book where Mr. Adams quotes Lao Tsu, the revered founder of Taoism (A Chinese philosophy and system of religion). In the quote we may see one unspoken reason for the government’s implementation of the blanket search of all of our communications using the NSA (National Security Agency).

Mr. Adams quites Lao Tsu:

“The more one governs, the less one achieves the desired result….The more restrictions and prohibitions there are in the world, the poorer the people will be….The more laws are promulgated, the more thieves and bandits there will be.

When taxes are too high, people go hungry.
When government is too intrusive, people lose their spirit.
Act in the people’s benefit. Trust them, leave them alone.”

I placed the crucial part of the quote in bold letters in order to provide what may be the justification for such massive and intrusive spying on the American public by our own government other than the stated goal of preventing acts of terrorism, which has always been the responsibility of our government, even prior to 9/11. Perhaps the real reason the government is spying so thoroughly on the public is due to the desire to tap the spirit of the citizen so that the citizen will accept any type of governmental behavior.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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I blogged recently about what I believe is happening with regard to The NSA’s program to surveil the telephone records of all Americans. I concluded that due to the success of the 9/11 attackers and that of The Boston Bombers, even though our intelligence analysts had advanced information on both events, the fact that both attacks were still successful indicated that the focus of the surveillance (collection of telephone records) by The NSA on all Americans may not be couched entirely in a desire to prevent further terrorist activity. Such flags as a heads up from a foreign intelligence agency (from Russia on The Boston Bombers) or the report about a pilot not wanting to learn how to land a jetliner (regarding the 9/11 attackers) only to fly the jetliner, such reports and information are the holy grail of the intelligence business. If someone looked the other way it was because they were told to do so. When you discover something like that while working in the intelligence business, it often merits a promotion. There are accolades and back slapping. And why not? Look what can be prevented with such knowledge? But more importantly in those cases, look what wasn’t.

Now, let me add that I have worked for The NSA (See my “About Page”) while on assignment from The US Army. In my experience, The NSA doesn’t simply just start collecting information on particular targets and the thought that they should start wiretapping or collecting information on all US Citizens on their own accord is absurd. These along with all of the other recent developments, The I.R.S. scandal, all have political origins, I am certain.

In fact my experience with such matters leads me to recall a situation where a number of us, all analysts, were asked if we should re-direct the focus of a multi-capability surveillance satellite over the country’s border to collect information on drug activity of a particular type. Of the ten or so of us sitting in the secure facility, all said we should not do so. With the technology we had at the command of what was basically a joystick, we could have easily done so, I must tell you. There were members of all US Armed forces present and members of several agencies as well. Not one person voted to turn the satellite in the direction of The United States. That tells you something about the very highest caliber of members of The US Armed Forces, then. This was in the early nineties. Instead, the information about the targets was given to the state police of said state and forwarded to domestic agencies.

That sentiment, that we should not surveil our own country due to the charter of The NSA may have changed since 9/11. But I doubt it. Why? The screening process to become an employee of The NSA or work in my capacity at the time in The US Army on assignment there at an NSA post is very thorough and involves numerous and lengthy questionnaires with cross-referenced questions, often a series of polygraph examinations with members of The Department of Defense visiting your neighbors, former employers, and going to schools you attended. The process frequently takes months, sometimes more than a year. My Top Secret SCSI Clearance took seven or eight months to complete. The older you are, the longer it takes because there is more footwork for the investigators to do.

Getting back to the point though, I believe that there is a political component to The NSA’s surveillance of all US Telephone records. I believe this because information obtained by said surveillance is transferred to local authorities. The federal government can’t be everywhere in a physical sense if it can in fact be everywhere in an electronic sense, which is what all of the databases, the telephone records, the credit card transaction records, the internet activity records, it is what all of the records allow, a sort of electronic omniscience. But since the federal government can’t be everywhere, they must utilize local resources to accomplish certain activities. Whoa! Where are you going with this?

The answer to the question that is forming in your minds is a definite, “yes.”

What is happening at a certain level is that the federal government is tasking local authorities with the responsibility to collect information on your physical activities if you make “the list” you could say.

But even more importantly, The Patriot Act, that legislation which authorized the expansion of wiretapping and such activities as you have now become aware of, also allows something much more insidious, the “sneak-and-peek” (entry) of your residence, with a warrant but unannounced (they do it when you are not there). Who knows when they will decide to tell you or how often they enter? In other words, someone deemed to be suitable to the task (may even be someone who is duly deputized due to a certain skill set such as a locksmith), someone deemed suitable is authorized to enter your dwelling in your absence and search it. But does it stop there? Do they sabotage your things during the search? Do they take things? You will never know unless you notice something yourself, because The Patriot Act authorizes such governmental intrusion.

The real problem in my estimation with such activity though is that anyone with a badge or any type of governmental authority can probably get away with doing what I’ve just described and you would never know and with no authority from the federal government. Your neighbors may even be aware, and you wouldn’t have a clue if they didn’t tell you. Things get bumped during such searches. Perhaps you noticed something was disturbed. Do your neighbors have a key to your apartment? What is happening here?! See what I’m talking about? I’ve blogged in the past about putting an end to The Patriot Act. Why? Not only does the Patriot Act undermine The Constitution (which may have been temporarily necessary, but that is unlikely), The Patriot Act also undermines the social well being of the country.

Just as importantly, The Patriot Act makes no real distinction between foreign and domestic terrorism and that is the catch (Read the link I’ve included from The ACLU further on).

Are you an outspoken conservative that wants to downsize government (maybe you went on the “possible terrorist” list)? 2nd Amendment Activist (possible terrorist)? Who knows how long the list is and who or what defines it? Did you recently buy some ammunition online? How about a firearm? Do you blog as I do? Do you like to read blogs like mine? Do you write to your elected officials with your suggestions (this is a crucial one because it immediately becomes a national security matter, almost certainly if you express any disgruntlement and dissatisfaction with their performance)? Isn’t everyone disgruntled about the performance of the government? Hold it, isn’t just about everyone disgruntled?

Lo and behold, suddenly we discover we are all under surveillance.

Enough said.

But don’t take my word for it. And I’m not the greatest fan of these people, but read this http://www.aclu.org/national-security/surveillance-under-usa-patriot-act

Note: the only other reason I can offer for the oversight which missed the obvious regarding The Boston Bombers is that now that the US Government has tasked intelligence agencies to monitor all of our activities, search old ladies and children at the airport, what have you, there is so much information coming in that the intelligence agencies are overwhelmed with a sort of white noise of information and unable to completely function or focus on certain threats. There is essentially information overload at the intelligence agencies. But to me the prior scenario seems more likely. Nevertheless, our intelligence agencies don’t just start spying (as our elected would have us believe), they don’t just start spying on us en masse without direction from our elected, Congress in particular. And this is why I’ve written to the effect that we should once again start profiling and leads to the title of that essay on profiling, Welcome to Post 9/11 America: The United States of Police States. An Argument for Profiling.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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