Dec 29, 2011

In Our Future: Background Checks for Laptop Purchases?

On the morning of December 15th, 2011, the Drudge Report ran a headline story about how Iran reportedly hijacked a U.S. drone while it was still over Afghan territory and forced it to land in Iran where they captured it. The article Drudge linked to disclosed that the U.S. military has diagnosed a major current flaw in their surveillance drones. It concerns the GPS signals which are apparently very weak.

The article went on to recite statements made by a certain Professor Andrew Dempster at a GPS vulnerability conference in Australia. Dempster commented that: "GPS signals are weak and can be easily outpunched [overridden] by poorly controlled signals from television towers, devices such as laptops and MP3 players, or even mobile satellite services." He later added "This is not only a significant hazard for military, industrial, and civilian transport and communication systems, but criminals have worked out how they can jam GPS."

American citizens should become alarmed at this finding, especially as anti-freedom acts such as the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) and the poorly named Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) come closer to becoming law.

In NDAA, American citizens can be detained by the military indefinitely without trial just because someone in an authority position 'suspects' them of anti-American sympathies or planned activities. It frighteningly conjures up images of martial law being enacted in the United States in the very near future and American citizens being sent to prisons such as Guantanamo indefinitely.

In SOPA, extremely broad legal language in the regulations allows the government to kill any website or domain name on the internet because of a mere complaint of some copyright infringement (or something of that nature) by a well-connected business or individual. It is basically internet censorship on a large scale.

The reason Americans should be becoming alarmed at the finding about the GPS signals is this. If NDAA and SOPA become law, and the federal government determines that criminals and terrorists can use laptops, MP3 players and other such things to disrupt U.S. military technology, then how long will it be before it becomes necessary to go through something like a six month federal government background check in order to buy a laptop computer, MP3 player or some other electronic device? What if you go through this background check, and because of some speeding ticket or minor zoning violation, the federal bureaucracy decides to disqualify you from buying some electronic device, even though you have no intention of using it to interfere with U.S. Government technology? My Fellow Americans, is this freedom?! Is this where we are headed?!

Just twenty years ago this would have been thought unthinkable, but it may be closer then we think. Unless the over-regulation and dangerous powers of the federal government are curbed soon, we could be seeing many of our everyday actions and desires becoming dangerous 'actions against the state.' The federal government then could use these actions as justification to conduct random background checks on us or to send us to waste our lives away in some prison away from the free land our Founding Fathers gave us. This makes our fight for freedom today even more important.

© 2011 New Agora and The Subsidiarity Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without written permission from blog author.

Dec 27, 2011

Why Michele Bachmann is Wrong on Iran

The heated exchange between Ron Paul (R-TX) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) at the December 15th 2011 debate in Sioux City, Iowa clearly laid forth the differences between the constitutionalists and those defined as supporting the 'status quo' on the issue of foreign policy.

The issue which ignited this exchange concerned Iran's nuclear program, its relationship with Israel and what the American response should be. At the beginning of the foreign policy section of the debate, moderator Bret Baier posed a question to Ron Paul about a 'hypothetical' scenario regarding Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon which seemed, from the way the question was asked and structured, to be an attempt to link Ron Paul with Barack Obama in a negative light.

In responding to the question, Ron Paul clarified that more evidence pointed to the fact that Iran did not have a weapon and were not trying to acquire one. Paul also brought up the fact that a recently retired head of Israeli security had said it would make no sense to go after Iran and that many other Israelis were not very much in favor of attacking Iran. Then, in his strongest argument, he emphasized that America was running the risk of getting involved in another Iraq-like war if they overreacted and attacked Iran just based on the war propaganda and that it would be wiser to be more cautious when dealing with such issues.

Baier, seemingly unable to grasp that Paul had answered the question, again repeated the question, emphasizing the hypothetical side of it. In response Paul addressed the hypothetical side of the question with an explanation of why it would be perfectly natural for Iran to seek a nuclear weapon if indeed they decided to, because their neighbors all own nuclear weapons and so owning such a weapon would gain them some respect on the international stage in the Middle East. Ron Paul also added that though Iran would have nuclear weapon(s), they would effectively be deterred from using them by the existence of the nuclear weapons of several of their neighbors, especially Israel.

Still not seeming to understand how Paul was approaching the issue, Baier then brought up the recent news that Iran was planning exercises which would practice closing the Straits of Hormuz and the economically-important trade routes which run through the straits. He then asked Paul what the U.S. response would be if Iran took that action and did close the Straits. Paul explained that the exercises appeared to be Iran's way of sending a warning message to the West that "If Iran is bombed by the West, we are prepared to close the Straits of Hormuz and impact the oil market and the global economy." Paul then warned that such an act would be very effective in disrupting the global economy and that it would be wiser to try a diplomatic approach in solving the issues with Iran. Baier, unable to push the issue any longer, resorted to chiding Paul for taking too much time to answer the question before moving on to former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA). (Interestingly enough, Santorum also went way over time on his answer to the foreign policy question Baier posed to him and was
not similarly chided by Baier for taking too long to answer.)

Some minutes later, Michele Bachmann came at Ron Paul with an attack of her own on the foreign policy question. Bachmann stated that the United States knows "without a shadow of a doubt that Iran will take a nuclear weapon, they will use it to wipe our ally Israel off the face of the map and they've stated they will use it against the United States of America." She later implied that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "an avowed madman" and referenced a report from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) which, she claimed, said Iran was within months of obtaining a nuclear weapon. When Paul pointed out the IAEA report only produced information which led her to believe that and that there was no actual evidence in the report of Iran's trying to obtain a nuclear weapon, then Bachmann simply answered, "If we agree with that, the United States people could be at risk." A classic fear-mongering, war-hawkish response.

In response, Paul brought up an example from history where diplomacy had worked in removing a much graver threat to the United States than that supposedly posed by Iran. Paul hearkened back to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis where America was dealing with nuclear missiles stationed in Cuba by the Soviet Union and recalled how diplomatic talks between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had led to the withdrawal of those weapons from Cuba. He then made a statement which summed up his stance on the whole situation: "We cannot solve these problems with war" and suggested America would be better off by rethinking the theories about America's supposed enemies around the world.

Congresswoman Bachmann really needs to investigate the facts and come to a more complete understanding of the foreign policy situation. Her statements have no factual backing and some of her language regarding the Iranian President was very insulting and not befitting of a candidate for the highest executive office in the United States. No one makes friends on the international stage by calling a fellow world leader "an avowed madman"; it is very un-presidential language.

Bachmann's statement of "we (the United States) know without a shadow of a doubt that Iran will take a nuclear weapon, they will use it to wipe our ally Israel off the face of the map and they've stated they will use it against the United States of America" has been made before. She made that very same statement in a debate on November 22nd and at a campaign event back in October. However,
a check of that statement by the website after the November 22nd debate showed it to be completely false. Bachmann is well aware of the PolitiFact website as seen by her claim at the Sioux City debate that PolitiFact had stated that everything she had said was true, a statement which has been strongly refuted by This makes Bachmann's repetition of that refuted statement about Iran an inexcusable blunder.

Bachmann's claim of the IAEA report saying that Iran was within months of obtaining a nuclear bomb was also proven false by a check of the actual report.
The check of the report by the Associated Press showed that the IAEA suggested Iran could have conducted secret experiments concerning nuclear weapons, but laid forth no nuclear bomb timeline and did not produce any evidence to definitively say Iran was developing a bomb.

Finally, if the United States still has problems with the current Iranian regime, it would appear that they are not alone. Iran was affected by the 'Arab Spring' just as almost every other nation in the Middle East and Northern Africa has been. There have been many protests by the Iranian people against the current government, but ever since the United States began exerting more pressure on Iran, the protests have seemed to lose steam. Indeed, they should have been expected to do so. For when anger is directed against a perceived external enemy, the people of any nation automatically unite to oppose the external threat. Only when a nation has no external threat do the people of a nation turn against oppressors inside their nation or in their own government.

This phenomenon of people not criticizing their government when threatened externally can be seen many times throughout history. Following 9/11, all of the talk of President Bush 'stealing the 2000 election' disappeared and all Americans united behind him and his actions. Only when the problems at home became more serious, such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 Financial Collapse, did the people turn their anger against President Bush and his party again. In 1982, the unpopular Argentinian government tried to re-focus the anger of the Argentinian people away from the government and against Britain by invading the Falkland Islands. They succeeded in re-directing the people's anger until Argentina lost the conflict and then the people turned against the government again and helped bring it down. Based on these, and many other historical examples, the fact stands that as soon as the external threat disappears, the people turn against their government if their government is unpopular.

Iran has had much internal disorder since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 and the protests have continued, albeit in a more subdued and less reported manner, to this day. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that if the United States were to back off and leave Iran alone, then the Iranian people would be encouraged to turn more strongly against the government and push to have Ahmadinejad step down.

These protests against Iran's current government also point towards a possible more friendly Iran in the near future. Ahmadinejad's presidential predecessor, Mohammed Khatami, was a reformist who made the reform movement for a freer and more democratic Iran very popular among the Iranian people, which, in turn, helped lead to the protests against Ahmadinejad's election in 2009. In addition, as part of that movement, Khatami sought to repair relations with the United States in 2003 and was open to a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian question which would allow Israel to continue existing as a nation in the Middle East. If the reform movement in Iran was given the opportunity, by the absence of an external threat to Iran, to focus all of its efforts on removing Ahmadinejad from power and putting the reform movement in charge of the Iranian government, then there is a very strong possibility that Iran would cease to be a major problem in the Middle East to its neighbors and that stability would begin to return to the region.

Based on these facts, it can be seen that Congresswoman Bachmann is wrong about what America's policy should be towards Iran. She does not fully understand the issues or the politics of the region and does not know what historical experience says about internal and external politics, especially when it concerns unpopular governments.

© 2011 The Subsidiarity Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without written permission from blog author.

Dec 16, 2011

A Question for Sean Hannity

Following the December 15th, 2011 Republican debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Fox News commentator and radio talk show host Sean Hannity interviewed Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) and asked him the question which the media has been pestering him with for the past several months since Paul started winning straw polls and rising in the primary polls: "Will you promise if you don't win this nomination... that you will support the Republican nominee and not run third party?" Paul's response was the same, saying that while he does not deal in absolutes with politicians, he has no intention of running third party and no plans to do so.

With Ron Paul clearly stating that he does not intend to run third party, a crucial question should be asked of Sean Hannity, especially now that the polls show Paul has a very real chance of winning the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries in early January. The question that will now be posed to Mr. Hannity and his friends such as Mr. Mark Levin, is as follows: "If Ron Paul wins the Republican nomination for President, will you pledge to support him and not back a third party candidate who will split the vote and possibly help re-elect President Obama?"

This question deserves a real answer, not a "Ron Paul cannot and will not win the nomination" answer. Remember, the same 'cannot and will not win' statements were made against Harry Truman in 1948 and Ronald Reagan in 1980 and they both went on to win, not only their party's nomination, but also the general election. As a fair warning, if Mr. Hannity and his friends give the "Ron Paul cannot and will not win the nomination" answer, then it will be assumed that they will back a third party candidate if Ron Paul is nominated for President by the Republican Party.

Mr. Hannity has stated repeatedly that Ron Paul's stances on certain issues such as foreign policy 'scare' him and he repeated that feeling of his when he interviewed Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) after the December 15th Sioux City debate. In addition, Mr. Hannity has a long-standing friendship with businessman and TV personality Donald Trump, who has been a frequent guest on Mr. Hannity's radio and television shows and has even publicly discussed with Mr. Hannity on his radio show about giving Mr. Hannity gifts in the past, such as a collection of dress ties. Trump made an announcement last week that he was reserving his right to run as an independent candidate for president if he did not like the Republican presidential nominee and he already has a very low opinion of Ron Paul as was evidenced by his response to Paul's decision not to attend the debate Trump planned to moderate. Based on these facts it is possible that, if Ron Paul or someone he were to endorse were to win the Republican nomination, Trump would declare his own independent bid for the presidency. If that were to happen, could Mr. Hannity pledge that he would not support Trump's independent bid which could potentially help lead to President Obama's re-election?

Ron Paul's answer to the talk of a third party bid has always been the same since the question was first broached. Indeed, the National Review Online posted an article the day before the Sioux City debate titled 'Cool the Third Party Talk' in which the author, a certain Andrew Stiles, debunked the prospects of a Ron Paul third party candidacy. In the article, Stiles makes a well-reasoned argument, based on how the Republican primaries will be working in 2012 and the way the election laws are structured, that Paul will be a major force at the Republican convention in Tampa at the very least and that he will take any opportunity to advance his ideals into the mainstream thought of the Republican Party. Faced with these facts and the man's own statements, it can safely be said that Ron Paul will not leave the Republican Party and knows that it would be unwise to do so.

In contrast, Donald Trump has stated repeatedly that he would consider an independent bid for the presidency and has made it clear that he has remained out of the Republican Party primary race in order to keep that possibility available. If Ron Paul were to become the nominee, the chances are very strong that Trump would declare his own independent bid and then Mr. Hannity would have to make a decision on whether to support his friend Trump and thereby potentially split the vote or turn away from his friend and support the nominee of his party.

So Mr. Hannity, what is your answer? "If Ron Paul wins the Republican nomination for President, will you pledge to support him and not back a third party candidate who will split the vote and possibly help re-elect President Obama?"

© 2011 New Agora and The Subsidiarity Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without written permission from blog author.