Should Police Be Able To Search Your Cellphone?

d13c4308-33a2-4369-a3a7-d352625b0a29-460x276A great op-ed by Yochai Benkler on the arguments heard today by the Supreme Court regarding two cases revolving around the question of whether or not police should be able to search your cellphone without a warrant if you are arrested.

While arguing against warrant-less searches of ones smartphone, he asks the question will the Court become a technical legalistic court, or a broad constitutional-vision court able to keep up with the fast-moving technology of today and tomorrow.

Read Here.




Piketty On The “American Dream”

thomas-piketty-economist-will-huttonA great op-ed in The Guardian by Heidi Moore on Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the 21st Century” which has made Piketty a “rock-star economist”.

It argues that the “American Dream” and meritocracy are not the rule but the exception in Western history among other things that are sure to bring us all down.

The op-ed lists more points made in the book and gives a good summary than that is simplistically listed here. So go read it and, in the interest of full disclosure, I just got through the introduction of the book and it is pretty f’n good.


Koch’s Against Renewable Energy

nytlogo379x64At my workplace many have cited the advertisement mentioned at the end of this NYT Editorial Board op-ed stating that solar power costs consumers, not helps save them money.

This editorial breaks down how the Koch brothers and “big polluters” are behind this “deliberately misleading” ad.

Read Here.


Countering the Right: Two Ludicrous Op-ed Claims by Conservatives for the Day

Oh, the things the right will say to fool people!

First up, Robert J. Samuelson gave us his take on a new book detailing the perils of economic inequality by, of course, pretending like it isn’t a problem.  Buried in his critique was this ridiculousness:

As for the power of the super-rich, they hardly control most democracies. In the United States, where about 70 percent of federal spending goes to the poor and middle class, the richest 1 percent pay nearly a quarter of federal taxes.

Saying that 70% of federal spending goes to the lower classes does seem to back his first point on the surface but not in reality.  What if the GDP was $1 trillion with total government spending being $1,000 and 70% of that spending went to the lower classes?  Would that make it appear as if the super-rich hardly controlled the government and got what they wanted as far as taxes and spending?  Exactly.

A more accurate measure would be percent of GDP spent on social programs.  And where does the U.S. rank among developed countries?  No where near the top and, in fact, below the average (shown here).  As for his point about the richest 1 percent and taxes, I’ve addressed this previously here.

The other preposterous claim for the day comes from the Washington Examiner:

What Fox News found in its most recent public opinion survey was that 61 percent of Americans believe Obama “lies” about important public issues either “most of the time” or “some of the time.” No other president in living memory has conducted himself in a manner that warranted even asking if such a description was appropriate. (Emphasis added)

I’ll ignore the absurd and unscientific question in the Faux News poll and just ask, were the people at the Washington Examiner alive and awake from 2001-2009?

Actually, the question of presidential trustworthiness has been asked plenty of times just not in the stupid way Faux News decided to word it.  For example, this ABC News poll asked whether George W. Bush “Is honest and trustworthy?”  Answer in 2005: about 40% agreed, basically identical to Faux News’ poll for Obama considering margin of error.

And taking into account Bush left office with far worse approval ratings than he had at the time of that poll, safe to say his trustworthiness ratings would have been far worse if people had been asked the same question and given the same options for answers as the recent Faux News poll.

Human Rights Before Animal Rights

b497a83b-32d2-42ac-b538-8b157f9dee52-460x276An op-ed in The Guardian by Sadhbh Walshe brings up a point I’ve been thinking about lately, namely, why does it seem violations against animal rights are becoming more more important than abuses of human rights.

Read Here. 


Sign-Up GOP, Win A Gun

17GOP1_now-tmagSFAn article in the NYT reports that GOP candidates for Congress are conducting “gun sweepstakes,” i.e., running “gun giveaways” (like raffles) for those who sign up on their website with names, e-mail addresses, mailing addresses, etc.

It’s an attempt by far-Right politicians to reach gun nuts who are insane about protecting their second amendment rights.

It reports that the NRA has been conducting these “giveaways” since the 80’s but it is a new phenomenon amongst political candidates.


Read Here.


The Working Poor and Raising Minimum Wage

Blow_New-thumbLarge-v2A powerful argument by Charles M. Blow in the NYT on why the minimum wage should be increased with the rising numbers of the working poor in the “Land of Opportunity.”

He argues that it is about dignity and not being in a state of constant worry over paying one’s bills. He also makes the good argument that the working poor cannot afford to donate to political campaigns and can only reach the voting boot on election day with great effort.

Read Here.


Will Iraq Fracture?

CIRAQaraf600_full_380A great piece in the CSM asking will the country of Iraq fracture into separate nations that will be determined by ethnicity, religion, or simple economic interests.

The piece goes through all of the contributing factors and is well researched with quotes from analysts and Iraqis themselves.

Read Here.



Pushing Against The Surveillance Innocent Muslims

603d16f3-7843-41ce-b8a7-23208b42aa59-460x276The NYPD announced yesterday that it was closing it’s “Demographic Unit.”

If you don’t know about this task force, it was first reported by the AP in 2011 that a special NYPD unit was conducting surveillance of normal Muslims, recording where they worshiped, where they ate, what they talked about at the cafe, etc., in an effort to thwart further terror attacks following 9/11.

This was a ridiculously overblown reaction by the NYPD, post-9/11, and is a violation of civil rights.

So now, according to this report in The Guardian, groups are trying to make sure that other NYPD units are not going to pick up where the Demographics Unit left off.

Read Here.



U.S. Investment in High Finance

Krugman_New-articleInlineA good piece by NYT op-ed columnist, and Nobel Prize Winner, Paul Krugman on how our government’s investments in making things easier for high finance Wall Street swindlers has little return for the ordinary American.

The main point here, as I see it, is that if Wall Street is making big money it does not equate the same thing for the rest of us.

Read Here.