Grind for March 9th, 2019
“Politics is the art of looking trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.”
– Groucho Marx.
The NSA surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden is offline and could be shut down permanently
A controversial surveillance program that collects and analyzes Americans’ phone calls and texts is offline and could be shut down permanently.
“The Administration actually hasn’t been using it for the past six months because of problems with ways in which that information was collected,” said congressional aide Luke Murry during a podcast. “I’m actually not certain the Administration will want to start that back up.”
The NSA has declined to comment on Murry’s statements.
The surveillance program was put into place during the George W. Bush Administration to help the government track down terrorists; it was exposed to the public in 2013 by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The exposure sparked a public debate that ended in 2015 with the passage of the USA Freedom Act. The program was then reworked to end the mass collection of data while preserving the program’s analytical abilities.
The new system allowed the agency to access phone records on a case-by-case basis with permission of a judge (a method it used to obtain data on millions of Americans).
Last year, the NSA decided to purge its entire database after reporting that “technical irregularities” had caused the system to collect millions of records it had no legal authority to collect.
With the controversial program set to expire at the end of 2019, it will be up to Congress whether to renew its legal authority.
“If there is an ongoing program, even if we all have doubts about it, that’s a very different political matter than if the program has actually stopped,” says Daniel Schuman of advocacy group Demand Progress.
Since “the sky hasn’t fallen” without the program running, the burden to push for a renewal now falls on the NSA, notes Schuman.
At this time it remains unclear whether the Trump Administration would be willing to cancel a program that the NSA has long insisted is vital to national security; but as critics have pointed out, the system has never helped the NSA track down a terrorist or foil an attack.
“It seems clear to me that this is not a program that is needed for national security,” says ACLU official Neema Singh Guliani. “One of the goals of the Freedom Act was to limit large-scale collection, and I think there are questions as to whether that law is achieving its goals.”
Thomas Sowell warns: Socialism could prevail in the United States
Conservative commentator and legendary economist Thomas Sowell this week said he feared the United States could succumb to Socialism.
“I do have a great fear that, in the long run, we may not make it,” he said Thursday during an appearance with Fox Business Network’s David Asman.
When it comes to Socialism, says Sowell, people tend to ignore the evidence.
“When you see people starving in Venezuela and fleeing into neighboring countries and realize that this is a country that once had the world’s largest oil reserves, you realize that they’ve ruined a very good prospect with ideas that sounded good but didn’t turn out well.”
Ignoring the evidence is a big issue for New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won a seat in Congress after campaigning on Socialist promises like free education and free healthcare.
If people pay attention to the rhetoric rather than the reality, AOC is a “rising star,” said Sowell.
Similar concerns were expressed last month by Vice President Mike Pence at the 2019 Conservative Political Action conference, where GOP leaders met to discuss the threats posed by Socialism.
“Democrats openly advocate an economic system that has impoverished millions of people around the world,” said Pence.
Speaking about AOC’s Green New Deal, he said: “What Medicare-for-all really means is quality healthcare for none. And the only thing green about the so-called Green New Deal is how much green it’s going to cost taxpayers if these people ever pass it into law.”
The Green New Deal is a watermelon, said one attendee, “green on the outside” but “deep red Communist on the inside.
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… The average housewife walks 10 miles a day around the house doing chores.