Archive for July, 2012

Romney Booed by the NAACP

Posted in Political Issues on July 14, 2012 by admin

One thing you can say about Mitt Romney, he’s the only GOP candidate to criticize the Black candidate to the faces of the NAACP. Perhaps he was pandering, but to another group. Romney was booed several times, including when he indicated he was the best President for African Americans .  However, the spin could be that Romney was gutsy in advocating an agenda that opposes most of what Black voters support. In the opinion of Tara Wall, the campaign’s black-outreach adviser, “…I think Governor Romney’s message was bold, he’s said things that needed to be said, he’s said things he’s always said…” This conservative version of ‘telling truth to power’ certainly has to appeal to the more reactionary factions of Romney’s base. Does that perspective have that ‘put them back in their place’ feel to it?

Yet even in this case there are more implications of deception on the part of Romney. In the link to the Washington Post article above, Romney is quoted as saying, “I don’t give different speeches to different audiences, all right?” Romney said. “I gave them the same speech. When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare, they weren’t happy. . . . That’s okay. I want people to know what I stand for, and if I don’t stand for what they want, go vote for someone else. That’s just fine.” These are Romney’s comments at a fundraiser in Montana. On the other hand, Bill Negrin notes “He pitched his candidacy to the NAACP in a speech sprinkled with … reminders of his own cooperation with Democrats during his time as governor in liberal Massachusetts, and promises to lead on civil rights if elected… it was a speech he never could have delivered during the radical GOP primary, when the mere mention of bipartisanship was all but a disqualifier.” Someone might argue that it’s obvious you tailor your speech to your audience. While this is true in a general way, at the highest levels of governance, everything must stand up to extra scrutiny.

There are those who think of Romney speaking before the NAACP was an act of stepping above politics. The spin on the appearance, to quote Kasie Hunt of the Associated Press, is designed to “… show independent and swing voters that he’s willing to reach out to diverse audiences, while demonstrating that his campaign and the Republican Party he leads are inclusive.” Never the less, the correlation between the comments of the various Republican representatives reveals the existence of nothing more than talking points. CNN Political Reporter Shannon Travis wrote, “ ‘I think it does send a very strong message of inclusiveness,’  said CNN contributor and Republican strategist Anna Navarro. ‘It’s not easy to go into a tough crowd and Mitt Romney is showing that he can reach out to a tough crowd. He will go in and say the same thing to different groups even if it’s not popular.’ ” She echoes the spin that he talks the same talk everywhere. Present also is the spin that speaking at the NAACP was an opportunity to stand in front of the Blacks and tell them the way it will be.  Romney represents a return to a society that said essentially, we don’t like you and if you don’t like the way the country treats you, leave.

Who is Watching You? Everybody!!!

Posted in Privacy on July 14, 2012 by admin

Terrorism is usually the word that justifies all kinds of violations of privacy and personal rights. The problem is that the opportunity for abuse is coupled with a society that is full of all kinds of bias and discrimination. Even worse are the situations where the decision about who is being suspicious is given over to a computer . AIsight is software created by a company called BRS Labs, documents and catalogues actions and behaviors of persons observed by your typical surveillance cameras. Based on a set of parameters in a computer program, and individual is flagged for suspicious behavior. Part of the problem is that personal attitudes and biases can enter into the parameters (ie, how dark is the person’s complexion). We have already seen the use of wearing a hoodie as an indicator of criminal activity by a Black person.

For those who would argue that these concerns are only suppositions, they are naïve, in denial and uninformed. Police routinely use cell phones to track people, and misuse of the system has already been acknowledged. To quote the New York Times article, “One police training manual describes cellphones as ‘the virtual biographer of our daily activities,’ providing a hunting ground for learning contacts and travels.” Furthermore, “law enforcement officials said the legal questions were outweighed by real-life benefits.” Lastly, “In Nevada, a training manual warned officers that using cell tracing to locate someone without a warrant ‘IS ONLY AUTHORIZED FOR LIFE-THREATENING EMERGENCIES!!’ The practice, it said, had been ‘misused’ in some standard investigations to collect information the police did not have the authority to collect. ‘Some cell carriers have been complying with such requests, but they cannot be expected to continue to do so as it is outside the scope of the law,” the advisory said. “Continued misuse by law enforcement agencies will undoubtedly backfire.’” The article also comments on the ability of police to download text messages from phones that aren’t even turned on.

There are serious concerns regarding the privacy that we all used to enjoy. Some might argue that loss of that privacy is the price we pay for an interconnected world. Some might argue that since the world is interconnected, all spaces, places and communications are public. However, the core of the Fourth Amendment  to the US Constitution is the existence of privacy. The Fourth Amendment does not make distinction between what is public or private; if it belongs to you it is private and protected form search and seizure without probable cause. These rights must be fought for rigorously because they are easier to protect than they are to get returned once taken away.

Do You See What I See? Big Brother Does!

Posted in Privacy on July 14, 2012 by admin

Your YouTube and Vimeo video clips often provide more information than you may have intended. You may see a guy walking past in the background of your video shot, but others see that as documenting where that person was. The neilsen  produced a paper in 2011 documenting the buying power of African Americans . According to the paper, 23.9 million African Americans were online in the month of July 2011 alone; and most were on social networking/blog sites. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect that a fair amount of video uploads took place during those several millions of site visits.


Agencies such as Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) agency are working hard to piece together your uploaded videos to create a panorama that can be used to observe and identify individuals. An article I read in the print version of July 2012 edition of Popular Science  called Over Seen  provides details regarding the work of these groups to use data from civilian video uploads and surveillance video from domestic drones. Combining this data with off the shelf biometric technology, they can identify an individual and track their movements. They are currently seeking ways to identify the location of the camera (i.e., where YOU are) based on images in the video that you record. So Big Brother can not only follow someone in your video, they can know when and where you are when you shoot the video.


Uploading videos is certainly a fun way to share your experiences. However, every shred of information you provide must be scrutinized and reviewed to insure that you share only what you want to share.

Using Women To Create an Enslaved Underclass

Posted in Sexism and Gender Issues on July 8, 2012 by admin

Many people debate the reasons why the Republican/Conservatives have been promoting an agenda that serves to circumscribe the rights, liberties and potentialities of women. Dahlia Lithwick makes an argument that there are those who that the issue regarding gender equity is about the lack of trust by the white male conservative base, which doesn’t trust women to do the right thing. To suggest a woman would fake a rape to gain access to abortion certainly supports that opinion. In fact, I think Ms. Lithwick has many good points. While there is obviously truth to that perspective, I see another component. The fact remains that the reason that these initiatives that help to level the playing field exist in the first place is because that conservative base cannot be trusted. They can’t be trusted to not create an old boys system that seeks to reinstate the feudal systems of the south where wives where little more than concubines who had to accept sharing the marriage bed with the plantation owners female slaves.  The 2011 introduction of a bill to redefine rape as occurring only when force is applied goes far beyond limiting abortion. It would set the stage for limiting what could be prosecuted as rape. Despite the fact that the initiative was beaten back do you really think they won’t try again? By merely reflecting on Ms. Lithwick’s discussion regarding the debate about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), one possible result would be immigrant brides that their domestic husbands could over-bear and force in to compliance and submission with no recourse for the women to seek relief from their oppression.  Michelle Chen  presents a very informative discussion of how female oppression would increase without VAWA.  If women have no legal protection from force, might and beatings administered to elicit obedience, their lives would be better only in the sense that the slaves’ and concubines’ very lives could be taken without repercussion.

If we couple the above with the very well written analysis  of a Romney Presidency  performed by Nancy L. Cohen it becomes easy to see that in addition to reducing women to little more than birthing devices, the Republican/Conservative agenda would also increase the number of women and children in poverty and without health care. That is another of the glaring hypocrisies of these people; they want to force women to bear children but don’t want to provide means to assist taking care of them. Sally Kalson wrote an article that outlines the Republican/Conservatives efforts to force women to have children by limiting access to contraception. It’s as if they want a nation of desperate women and children they can easily manipulate and control. I guess that would make it easier for them to have the affairs, mistresses, and concubines that they criticize guys like Bill Clinton, whom women generally like, for having. Women are the primary caregivers for children, and if they are repressed and suppressed in terms of their rights and freedoms, it is the children who inherit these limited opportunities. Moreover, when their children grow up, because they have had limited access to prenatal care and under funded and under supported public schools, they become less capable to succeed in society. They then become the perfect candidates for the prison industrial complex, the only form of legalized slavery in America.