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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Germany's Spy Agency Used NSA Software To Spy On Germans (And Helped The NSA Spy On Germans Also)

Do you remember how angry the Germans got when they found out the NSA had spied on Germans, (even Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone was bugged)? According to German Newspaper Die Zeit , Germany's national intelligence agency secretly traded information with the National Security Agency in return for gaining access to NSA's most powerful software surveillance program to spy on locals.

The software the Germans wanted to get their hands on is called XKeyscore, which the NSA once described in a training manual as its "widest-reaching" Internet surveillance system.

Die Zeit obtained secret documents between the German and U.S. spying agencies outlining the controversial cooperation. It is unclear whether those documents were provided to the paper by Snowden, Hillary Clinton's email, or some lesser known method.

According to the paper, the German intelligence agency vowed "to the maximum extent possible to share all data relevant to the NSA's mission." Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND, also signed on to the deal, the paper said.  In other words the German spy agency helped the NSA spy on Germans. Additionally the paper suggests the deal between the two spy agencies may have been made "with little external or political oversight." But by passing confidential information along to the NSA without consulting other government agencies the German spy agency may have violated German law. At the very least they helped the US spy agency do what angered the German politicians.

XKeyscore, was originally revealed two years ago by the Guardian in the UK as part of their release of the secrets stolen by Edward Snowden.  The program allows analysts to check though large databases of emails, browsing histories, online chats and webcam photos, or as the newspaper described the software's capabilities, it can collect "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet."  Die Zeit reports that the version of XKeyscore provided to German spy masters them to analyze the Internet metadata of a domestic suspects under national security surveillance.  And of course the German spies "pinky-swore, crossed their heart promised "to utilize XKeyscore in a manner consistent with German law and in a manner reasonably likely not to result in the targeting of U.S. persons (just like the NSA swore never to spy on the Germans)"

In the end this revelation is bound to have a bigger outcry in Germany than the entire NSA scandal had here in the U.S.. After all, fresh in the Germans collective memory are the secret domestic spying programs during the Nazi era, and the even more recent spying during the communist East German regime, all of which led to other domestic atrocities.

141 U.S. Counties Have More Registered Voters Than Living People

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is threatening 141 counties across the United States with lawsuits under Section 8 of the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) because those counties have more registered voters than people alive.  

But wait, that cant be true, after all the Democrats say that any attempt to clean up voter rolls or require voters to show ID is just a GOP plot to suppress minority voters.

The PILF is sending letters to each of the counties:
The letters inform the target counties that it appears they are violating the NVRA because they are not properly maintaining the voter rolls. The NVRA, (also known as Motor Voter) requires state and local election officials to properly maintain voter rolls and ensure that only eligible voters are registered to vote. Having more registrants than eligible citizens alive indicates that election officials have failed to properly maintain voter rolls.

States with counties which received a notice letter are (# of counties): Michigan (24), Kentucky (18), Illinois (17), Indiana (11), Alabama (10), Colorado (10), Texas (9), Nebraska (7), New Mexico (5), South Dakota (5), Kansas (4), Mississippi (4), Louisiana (3), West Virginia (3), Georgia (2), Iowa (2), Montana (2), North Carolina (2), Arizona, Missouri, New York (1 each). Federally produced data show the letter recipients have more registrants than living eligible citizens alive. (A sample letter can be found here.)
Of course, the Department of Justice, can also can bring lawsuits to fix corrupted voter rolls but that has no chance of ever happening under the Obama administration.
“Corrupted voter rolls provide the perfect environment for voter fraud,” said J. Christian Adams, President and General Counsel of PILF. “Close elections tainted by voter fraud turned control of the United States Senate in 2009. Too much is at stake in 2016 to allow that to happen again.”
J. Christian Adams you may remember is the former DOJ official who testified about the racism under Eric Holder, the department refused to bring charges against minorities who suppressed the white vote as in the case of the New Black Panther case.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation will monitor responses by the 141 counties and remedial clean-up efforts. Federal law requires that a party sending a notice letter wait 90 days before filing a lawsuit. The entire list of counties who received the notice letter can be found here.

Defense Analysts Being Pressured To Lie About Progress of U.S. ISIS Effort

One of the issues of the Vietnam War was the federal government didn't give our soldiers what they needed to do their jobs and then follow-up by telling the public that the war was going better than it was actually was.  Now in an example of presidential deja vu The Obama administration is blocking the truth about our tepid campaign to destroy ISIS. 

According to a report in the Daily Beast as analysts report that the effort isn't going well, top brass send back their reports asking them to "re-think" their conclusions. At other times analysts "knew the program" before submitting their reports and self-censored the details and conclusions.
“The phrase I use is the politicization of the intelligence community,” retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Daily Beast when describing what he sees as a concerted push in government over the past several months to find information that tells a preferred story about efforts to defeat ISIS and other extremist groups, including al Qaeda. “That’s here. And it’s dangerous,” Flynn said.

At U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, analysts have been frustrated for months that as their reports make their way up the chain, senior officers change them to adhere more closely to the administration’s line. Three U.S. officials and analysts spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters.

The analysts said it was unclear who was leading the pressure to adjust their assessments, which more than one referred to as “spinning.” Some called it a result of a climate of the culture their commanders create. How such reports travel from CENTCOM headquarters to the senior reaches of the government and the military, and who reads them along the way, varies. Some reports go directly to the White House. More often, they go through several internal organizations and checks to determine what information is most useful to top officials.
Understand this is coming a very liberal source, the Daily Beast, and they are reporting that the top brass are pressuring the lower analysts because the policymakers do not want to see anything which conflicts with their view that our anti-ISIS campaign is working.
The CENTCOM analysts say they’ve concluded that the campaign isn’t going well, but that the senior officials want all reports on ISIS to see “eye to eye” and to avoid analyses that reach widely different conclusions.

“I think it comes from the seniors that interact with the policy folks [meaning senior administration officials] and it filters its way down,” one of the analysts said.

In the past, the CENTCOM intelligence commander buffered the analysts from outside pressure but in the last two years that protection has been less reliable, the official said.

“You get this pressure. It’s a very subtle approach but it is effective,” he said.
On Tuesday the NY Times Reported the Pentagon's inspector general's office is already looking into the charges:
The investigation began after at least one civilian Defense Intelligence Agency analyst told the authorities that he had evidence that officials at United States Central Command — the military headquarters overseeing the American bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State — were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama, the government officials said.
I worked for Disney during the late 90s near the end of the Michael Eisner reign. During that time the company began to perform poorly because instead of telling top management what was really happening, low and middle management was sending reports up the line that told Eisner what he wanted to hear.  The same thing is happening in our battle with ISIS--except in this case the reports do not put the sales fate of a cartoon mouse in danger, in this case we are putting our heroes who have volunteered to protect our country in danger.

It's time for Obama to put a stop to the false reports, listen to the truth and give our heroes what they need to defeat ISIS, anything short of that is just another example of why this administration is a Mickey Mouse operation.

Quinnipiac Poll The 1st Word People Think Of About Hillary: LIAR!

YIKES...This is gonna leave a mark.   The latest Quinnipiac Poll came out on Thursday morning and if I was Hillary Clinton I would be worried.

One of the questions asked was
What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton? (Numbers are not percentages. Figures show the number of times each response was given. This table reports only words that were mentioned at least five times.)
Respondents weren't given suggestions the were just asked to spit out the first word that comes to their minds. The first three answers were liar, dishonest, and untrustworthy.  Trust is a difficult thing to regain when running for president, especially when the email scandal never seems to end. (the above is a word cloud of the answers).

As far as the Democrat's preference Clinton leads the Democratic field with 45 percent, down from 55 percent July 30, with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at 22 percent and Biden at 18 percent. No other candidate tops 1 percent with 11 percent undecided. This is Sanders' highest tally and closest margin.

On the GOP side Donald Trump leads the crowded Republican field with 28 percent, up from 20 percent in a July 30 national survey. This is the highest tally and widest margin for any Republican so far in this election. Ben Carson has 12 percent, with 7 percent each for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Scott Walker takes 6%, followed by John Kasich and Carly Fiorina with 5% each, and Chris Christie with 4%. Mike Huckabee rounds out the top ten with 3%.

The same kind of "what's the first thing that comes to mind question was asked about Trump and the responses for Trump were..very Trump. (Word cloud is above) Respondents though he was arrogant, blowhard and an idiot.
On the bright side for the  Donald his lead in the GOP primary race is growing.  Trump leads the GOP field with 28 percent, up from 20 percent in the July 30 national survey. This is the highest tally and widest margin for any Republican so far in this election. Ben Carson has 12 percent, with 7 percent each for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Match-ups among all American voters show, that Biden does better against GOP candidates than Clinton:
  • Biden tops Trump 48 - 40 percent. He beats Bush 45 - 39 percent and gets 44 percent to Rubio's 41 percent.
  • Clinton edges Trump 45 - 41 percent. She gets 42 percent to Bush's 40 percent and gets 44 percent to Rubio's 43 percent.
  • Sanders edges Trump 44 - 41 percent and edges Bush 43 - 39 percent. Rubio gets 41 percent to Sanders' 40 percent.
Obviously this is too early for predictions, but it does serve as a warning to the Clinton folks--Hillary is not as Teflon as her husband the former president Bubba.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Donald Trump Talks About His Faith And His Mother

The Bombastic Billionaire of Birtherism, Donald Trump was a guest on Wednesday night's Hugh Hewitt show, but it was a different kind of interview.  Sure Hugh started with the usual stuff, will he promise not to run via a third party, his conflict with Jorge Ramos, China etc.  But the middle section of the interview focused on something I had never heard "The Donald" talk about before, his religious mother (even Donald Trump has a mother),  his faith, and how his faith influences his life and how would it influence his presidency. Kudos to Hugh Hewitt for taking him in a different direction than the average interviewer. 

Below is the transcript of the faith part of the Trump interview, and a video of the entire Hewitt/Trump interview:
Hewitt: Oh, you know what the most interesting part of that presser was, Donald Trump, when you brought up Normal Vincent Peale.

Trump: Oh, yes.

Hewitt: Now I know about Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. Many people might not. How often did you hear him preach? Do you have a favorite book of the Bible or a favorite verse? And do you have a favorite hymn? If you were a churchgoer at the Marble Collegiate Church, that’s a big deal.

Trump: Yeah. Well, I was, and I just, I just Norman Vincent Peale. You know, he would talk, and we go to church, and you go to church, and as good as we are, sometimes, you know, you could, you can leave church and you’re not so upset. I used to be, I used to love his sermons. I used to love his, he would speak, and he’d bring things from the Bible, Hugh, he would bring them into modern day territory. I remember he was talking about Alfred Sloan, who had tremendous difficulties as a young man. He founded General Motors. And he would talk about Alfred Sloan, who was a friend of his, a great friend of his. He had great friendships with very substantial people. And he’s talk about him, and Alfred Sloan had an alcohol problem, and he had lots of difficulties. And he got rid of these difficulties, and he’d bring it into sort of a modern day feeling, meaning, you know, bring it updated. And he would give, he was one of the best speakers I’ve ever seen. And you would literally leave church, and you would say I could listen to another three sermons. I was there when he made his last sermon, and it was very sad, because he became, you know, he was very old, and he was almost unable to finish the sermon. He was clutching, you know, the podium. And he was reading, and he was clutching, and he said, I can’t go on any further. I was there in that room. You know, the amazing thing about Norman Vincent Peale, when some churches were empty, his church always had overfill areas. Maybe that’s why I’m always glad that I always have overfill areas, right?

Hewitt: Did he leave you…

Trump: But he would always have, they had rooms throughout the church, Marble Collegiate Church, where they’d have like cameras, they’d have closed circuit televisions. And if you didn’t get there early, you wouldn’t be able to sit in a fairly large church. You’d have to sit on one of the rooms, one of the conference rooms where they had the closed circuit. But he was a fantastic speaker, a wonderful speaker.

Hewitt: And given that, that you had this great preacher all those years, and your mom was a Scots émigré, I learned. Did you get your reformed roots from her?

Trump: I would say maybe. I mean, she was religious, and my father was religious. I was actually Presbyterian, which is interesting. I actually, my first church was First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, which is in Queens, because I didn’t join Marble Collegiate until much later. And that wasn’t Presbyterian, but it was just a church that I liked, and I liked him.

Hewitt: It was reformed, yeah.

Trump: But I was actually Presbyterian, and then I came into Manhattan, and I joined Marble Collegiate.

Hewitt: So what was your mother like?

Trump: Well, she was from Scotland, and she came over at 19, met my father. They were married for, I guess, about 65 years. They had a great marriage. She was a terrific woman. She was a very beautiful woman, they tell me, as a young man. They said she was like a real beauty, of great beauty, and my father was a builder in Brooklyn, in Queens, And he was build houses, and they met, and she never went back to Scotland. Now she would go back to Scotland every year. She loved Scotland. But she never officially went back, because she married my father, and they had five children.

Hewitt: But she was the religious one.

Trump: And it was a terrific marriage, actually.

Hewitt: What I’m trying to get at, if she’s the religious one, do you think today the Gospels have any role in shaping public policy? You said you’re doing very well with the Evangelicals.

Trump: Well, the Evangelicals, they’re sort of interesting. I mean, I am a religious person, I would say not formally like some might be, you know, like some would talk about it. But I am, you know, somebody that believes, and I am, it’s very interesting, because I noticed that the polls came out. The one in New Hampshire, Public Policy Polling, where it said 35%, and it sort of said it leads across with Tea Party, with Evangelicals, with moderates, with just about everything. They even said with Democrats, I mean, just lead straight across the board. And I think a lot of people were surprised. They thought it would be very conservative, and which I lead big in the very conservative. But I lead straight across. And one of the things that made me very happy was that I actually lead, and you’ve seen this even in Iowa where I lead with Evangelicals. And I was so happy to see that, because they think that’s the real me, but I don’t think people see that as me.

Hewitt: Do you think they expect you to, but do you think the Gospels have some way of informing your public policy choices? Or is that just a different category?

Trump: I don’t know. I think that maybe so, you know, down deep, maybe they do. I think what’s happening in the country where it just seems that you know, the word Christmas is being taken out. I see these stores like Macy’s and so many others. They’re afraid to use the word Christmas now. Maybe they can’t use it, legally. What’s going on is outrageous, and I would try and, not only try, I will do things about it. You’re going to have to go through court systems. That’s the problem. I mean, you have to go through actually courts now to use names that you should be able to use automatically. But you know, the whole thing is changing, Hugh, so much toward religion and what you can say and what you can’t say, and what you can put up in a beautiful public area, where for years you’d have the manger, and you’d have, you know, Mary and Jesus, and now you’re not allowed to do it.

Hewitt: Well, now in Denver.

Trump: And I think it’s terrible. I think it’s terrible.

Hewitt: I’m on the campus of a Colorado Christian college today. In Denver, where we’re close to, their city councils have said Chick-Fil-A, maybe they can’t build at the Denver International Airport because their founders are Evangelical and have traditional marriage views. It’s blatantly unconstitutional.

Trump: Wow. Wow.

Hewitt: Have you heard that story, yet?

Trump: I haven’t heard it, but it doesn’t surprise me. It’s horrible. What’s going on is horrible. I mean, you can’t do, you can’t do anything having to do with really deep-seated, incredible beliefs that really, to a large extent, made our country great. You know, these, the beliefs in the Bible had a lot to do with our country. And I mean, a week doesn’t go by where there’s not some negative ruling on something having to do with Christianity. It’s getting, I think it’s outrageous, and I’ll tell you what.