(03/08/2007): The world's richest man, Bill Gates, testified
before Congress yesterday and epitomized the view that only if
Congress would allow unlimited numbers of visas to foreign
engineers and software folks, that somehow all the world's
problems would be solved and that the United States would
automatically be set on the road to greatness. How does Bill
know this? Just look at the contributions of Albert Einstein!
Mr. Gates also emphasized, that these jobs are high paying jobs,
implying salaries of $100,000 or more per year, that Microsoft
currently had 1000s of these jobs available and promised that if
Congress modified our current Visa programs to accommodate his
views, that the United States would see more miracle companies
Gate's referral to Google was prophetic. It is well known
throughout the industry that Microsoft has lost some of its best
talent to Google, and it has nothing to do with the work, its
all about the money. Microsoft lost its sheen due to its size and
the resulting impact on its stock performance. And it is also
well known throughout the industry that recent college graduates
do not command salaries anywhere near that $100,000 figure. In
fact, recent grads in the computer engineering field from abroad
command salaries more than $10,000 cheaper than their American
counterparts. The drop in pay is significantly higher, if that
foreign engineer remains in their home country.
And you need not travel far to see that this is true, just visit
job postings on sites like DICE, you'll see plenty of advertisements for jobs that
require expertise in every aspect of software design, expertise
not attained through a college degree alone and those jobs pay
around $55,000/year. It is ironic, that Gates and others lament
the diminishing talent pool of engineers here at home, blaming
the shortage on our educational systems at the high school level
while completely ignoring the severe degradation of pay that the
importation of hundreds of thousand of foreign engineers has
Gates also implied, that somehow these foreign engineers are
smarter that our local talent, a slap in the face, all to
promote the idea that software engineering is a job that
Americans can't do. No, this is all about supply and demand.
While it is true that America lags behind the rest of the world
in the sheer numbers of engineers produced, it is not true, that
those foreign engineers are bigger, smarter, and better.
It is true, that they will work for far less money.
(11/18/2006): They say 9/11 changed everything. I still remember
that morning, switching on my television and getting my first
glimpse of that black smoke curling out of a very large
building. O.M.G., is that the World Trade Center?
It would be several years before I realized the significance of
that black smoke.
I remember eagerly waiting for news that we had entered
Afghanistan, to go after those evil perpetrators. Then,
un-expectantly, we watched as Osama escaped through
Tora Bora and the Bush administration turned it's focus toward
While I had difficultly with the reasoning, I, with millions of
other patriots, gave our President the benefit of the doubt, he
was after all, the President.
Then the reasons fell apart, all of them. Along with this
fallout some disturbing legislation came to pass, starting with
the anthrax induced Patriot Act and a myriad of secret programs
that traded our liberties for security. As the chasm between the
words and actions of our administration widened, I began to
wonder if all that wonderful stuff I learned about America as a
child, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Pledge of
Allegiance, etc, wasn't all a bunch of crap.
"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will
within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I
do not add ‘within the limits of the law’, because law is often
but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights
of the individual." - Thomas Jefferson
So it was. I began watching the History Channel and CSPAN,
attending more congressional committee meetings than most of our elected
Congressional members, and surfing the Internet for hours upon
end, trying to put the
pieces of the puzzle together.
Is America waking up? Despite
clear evidence that the 2006 Congressional elections were hacked, the
Democrats are now in power with a mandate for changing the
course. Only time will tell if the much needed Congressional
oversight begins to take hold and we once again become the home
of the land of the free, the home of the brave.
(09/28/2006): It's a common ritual for me, falling asleep
watching our Congress in action late night on C-SPAN. C-SPAN live starts
early on the west coast, even so, nothing wakes my slumber
quite so quickly, as hearing the voice of the Honorable Senator
Arlen Specter. Senator Specter has been instrumental in
reminding Congress of their Constitutional oversight
Earlier this year, we learned that the Bush
wire tap and prisoner detention programs may not have been
Interestingly, our administration finally admitted to the
transgressions at the prodding of the Supreme Court. In a
typical Roveian tradition, never to be bothered by legality
or truth, the administration gave Republicans, facing stiff
re-election races, a political stick to take home, to beat
the drum of the war on terror, for the benefit of the American public.
The Bush administration sent two bills to congress, in essence,
legalizing their activities and seeking retroactive legal
protections for their past, and future actions.
The Senate Armed Services Committee had been hard at work since
Hamdan, and successfully reported a bill out of committee,
with bi-partisan support, well ahead of this week's scheduled congressional recess. After
a meeting between the Administration and Senate Republican
leaders over the weekend, the committee bill was essentially replaced by the Administration's
bill and it was the modified committee bill that was the subject of debate today, on the Senate floor
Commonly noted about the Bush Administration, is their continued
unitary executive authority and their current bill is
no exception. At issue is whether Congress may pass a statute
preempting a provision of the U.S. Constitution.
The United States Constitution, states, "The Privilege of the
Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in
Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require
it." (Article One, section nine).
While the political spin is that we need this new law to counter
terrorism, the proposed solution over-reaches the
problem, by granting more power to the executive branch, powers
inconsistent with our Constitution, since the statute ignores
the requirement of a constitutional amendment.
When the bill is signed and passes into law, 10s of millions of
people now living in our country without the benefit of
citizenship, could be subject to indefinite imprisonment,
at the discretion of the President. In addition, the bill has
been reported to redefine 'pilfering' so that illegal property
occupancy and theft may also be declared as a form of an enemy
combatant, in fact, the definition of an enemy combatant is at
the President's discretion, regardless of citizenship.
Our most senior Senator, the Honorable
Senator Byrd, witness to the flow of political tides for
5 decades, introduced an amendment to sunset
the bill 5 years hence. Senator Warner, the chairman of the
armed services committee, offered up numerous straw men in
opposition to the amendment, even though an identical provision
in the Patriot Act failed to result in the perceived ills, that
of giving terrorists a time table in which to act. Of course,
the amendment failed.
In the world of scientific faith, it is often useful to defer
taking exception, unless there is a discernable pattern of
problems, or untruths. In terms of philosophical faith, there is
a segment of our population that subscribes to authoritarian
viewpoints, often times ignoring patterns of deception until it
is too late. Their leaders are supported through thick and thin,
regardless of the state of the real world.
WMD, aluminum tubing, and mushroom clouds are the first few of a
very long list of untruths told to the American public over the
years by our Administration. The situation has become so
Chris Matthews of MSNBC, has been actively asking
his guests why, when Cheney has been so consistently wrong, why
our Administration remains so unashamed about repeating the
untruths, time and time again.
Let's be clear, ALL AMERICANS want to win the war on terror and
we have been extremely patient with our current administration,
giving our support and sacrificing our freedoms beyond any
before seen in our history.
It is also clear, that if we
dismantle our Constitution in the
name of the war on terror, it matters little, whether we win
While it appears that S3930 will become law (the house passed a
similar measure yesterday), the
administration's wire tap program appears headed for defeat
Congresswoman Jane Harman, ranking member of the
Intelligence Committee, managed to delay the passage of the administration's
wire tap bill in the House, just long enough to preclude a Senate vote.
record, that strong California Democratic leadership helped save
our 4th amendment, for now.
We also got a chance to see and hear Congresswoman Heather
Wilson, the author of HR5825. The Congresswoman reminded us that
her bill was not crafted along our administration's policy, was
written prior to the administration's bill and only seeks to
facilitate the monitoring of the direct communications of our
I am sorry to note, that Wilson seems to have missed the
And while our administration firmly believes, that history will
record, that our administration's illusions of grandeur will
triumph, it is much more likely, that history will trace, the
origins of the beginning of the fascist New World Order, which
depends on the destruction of our Constitution, to our current
(09/12/2006): Almost hidden this week by the political specter
that was our fifth anniversary of 9/11, C-SPAN treated us to two
subcommittee meetings held by the House Judiciary Committee on
Terrorism chaired by California's Congressman Dan Lungren. Both hearings related to the legislation proposed by the Bush
Administration (Wilson Bill,
The Honorable Senator Spector, the Chairman of the Judiciary
Committee, has also worked out a bill (Senate Bill
2453) with the Bush
Administration. In fact, I enjoyed his enthusiasm for his deal
with the White House, whenever the deal was questioned as
'trivial' in constitutional terms during his Judiciary committee
meetings. Getting the President to agree to discuss the issue
was, at the time, monumental.
Both bills seek to legalize the currently secret domestic
wiretap programs. The legislation also seeks Congressional
approval of the powers of unitary executive theory. e.g. that
congress does not have the right to regulate the inherent powers
of the executive branch, a decision best left to the Judicial
branch of government.
Confusion over the jurisdiction of the many virtual domains that the
Internet has created, - pose serious constitutional issues. That
is, the Virtual Domains that legislation seeks to
govern. While everyone agrees that our Administration has every
right to monitor foreign to foreign communications, in fact we
demand it, the technology which carries these communications,
many times, is not located on foreign soil, but on the domestic
soil of the U.S.A..
During the second hearing,
Administration representative John Eisenbury repeated their
earlier claims that
the virtual locations of foreign to foreign phone calls, now
located in sovereign physical space, subjects them to
FISA and intolerable delays during times of war.
To cure this ill, the administration's legislation calls for broad authority to
monitor the communications of any American citizen, if that
citizen engages in communications with a foreign source and
based on the sole judgment of the Administration, may be related
to the war on terrorism.
Although administration officials continued to deny the
committee any hint of the details of the wiretap program,
stating that they only need to brief (without oversight) the Intelligence
committees, it is clear that the NSA program involves
capturing a complete slice of communications between two
physical locations, one foreign, one domestic, and then applying
their secret algorithms to the data. Individual American
citizens are then assured of their 4th amendment rights through
executive order 12333, commonly referred to as 'twelve
Trust - I'm not sure I remember that word used in our
Constitution, perhaps, maybe, 'In God We Trust'?
Does trust comprise our Constitution's definition of checks and
And is not trust enhanced, through our rigorous system of checks
The legality of the domestic wiretap program certainly
hinges on whether our 4th amendment protections are predicated
on 'probable cause' as written, or whether our
protections hinge on 'reasonable suspicion' as stated by
Michael Hayden, our current CIA director, who seems to believe
that owning a phone is a reason for suspicion.
from the Center
of National Security Studies, reminded the committee that
4th amendment protections require individual determinations.
Thus, before NSA could run a blanket sweep of communications,
they would first need to obtain FISA warrants for all American
citizens caught up in the surveillance. This is the unspoken basis for
the Administration's claim of intolerable delays during times of
Bruce Fein, Constitutional Law Attorney form Washington, DC,
stressed that the affirmation of unitary executive theory
contained in the proposed legislation effectively renders the
bill null and void, since the executive branch could choose to
completely ignore the bill if it deemed an encroachment on their
With a vested interest in commerce over the Internet, I become a
bit concerned when I routinely scour my log files for traffic
data. Significant traffic to my Lake Tahoe websites are from
foreign sources. Worse yet, are the logs from my mail servers, as
the vast majority of SPAM sources are located overseas. How do I
know? I trace SPAM for blacklisting, thus generating a domestic
to foreign communications in response to a foreign to domestic
Prior to the media leak of the domestic wire tap program, I
did observe, that my trace routes were directed through
facilities that were not of my primary ISP, to a domain name
containing the letters 'defender'.
So Osama likes my website, or one of those Taliban creeps is
trying to make some cash spamming my email server. Am I then subject
to the enormous data gathering techniques of the NSA? Do I have
a right to expect privacy with any of the data generated by
legitimate business activities on the
The administration also claims that the minimization
(decomposition) techniques in
use, strip enough information from the communications records,
so that individual American citizens cannot be identified,
therefore the 4th amendment is inapplicable. Due to the highly
secret nature of the program, it is impossible to determine the
mathematical validity of this assertion, the absence of
lossless joins. It is clear, that if the purpose of the
program is to identify terrorists through domestic wiretaps, you
must be able to identify the caller and would be prevented from
eliminating the information as claimed, therefore the 4th
amendment is in full force.
Will Americans live their freedoms? Or see their freedoms slowly
leached away by what our Administration is declaring, is our
goal of the 21st century, the never ending war on terror?
I wish to thank the committee for the informative hearing and I
hope to continue to see a non-partisan effort to address the
serious constitutional issues we face. I also sympathize with
the committee, which has been asked to mark up a bill on a
secret program that they are denied knowledge of, based on
claims of national security.
oversight in the Congress is a critical component ensuring our
security and freedom.
(05/11/2006) The senate judiciary committee broke from their
busy itinerary to discuss today's revelation that the NSA, with
the help of AT&T, Verizon, and Bell South has tapped into call
records of 10s of millions of US citizens. Of course, some
indignant claims of damage to national security were heard
despite the fact that the
Electronic Frontier Foundation filed suit against AT&T last
January 31, 2006.
The lawsuit also alleges that AT&T has given the government
unfettered access to its over 300 terabyte "Daytona" database of
caller information -- one of the largest databases in the world.
To my disappointment, several Republican senators (Kyl, Cornyn,
& Sessions) believe that the information contained in a database
like "Daytona" is the equivalent of the information found on the
outside of a postal envelope, therefore there are no claims to
4th Amendment protection.
If these databases are as benign as proponents claim, they why
do proponents also claim that the Domestic Spying Program is one
of this country's most important secrets?
Supporters of the "NSA Domestic Spying" program have long
directed their spin patriotically, flatly demanding that
American citizens give up their pre 9/11 notions of privacy, for
the fight on terror. A notable part of this spin has served to
provide the American public with the necessary distractions,
buying time for the program.
Databases like "Daytona" contain much more data than call logs
and billing information. They also contain data, that with the
right technology, would allow the NSA to track the movements of
American citizens in real time, and at a minimum, allow the NSA
to reconstruct your movements throughout time.
A recent series of cases have reviewed whether the
government has the right to track it's citizens, through the
use of cell phones, without probable caused as defined in our
4th Amendment. Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, President Bush's
current nomination for the head of the CIA and one time head of
the NSA, is on public record as believing that the 4th Amendment
does not define the protection of our privacy in terms of
probable cause, stating the bar is much, much lower...
I would like to congratulate the Honorable
United States Senator Arlen Specter for allowing the
judiciary committee time to discuss this important issue which
was best summed up by
United States Senator Dianne Feinstein. Senator
Feinstein has correctly pointed out that our government's
actions and explanations are confusing
and are not understandable interpretations of the protections
provided by our 4th Amendment.
It is time to put to rest the notion that the only path to
defeating terrorism is to give up the freedoms we have fought
for, for so many years. This notion of defeatism is un-American,
surrendering our freedoms to a gang of backward looking
terrorists living in caves. Mr. President, America deserves
better. Where is our leadership?
I will be looking forward to the testimony of AT&T, Verizon,
Southern Bell and of the current and past AGs, and especially
that of the confirmation of Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden whose
current understanding of our 4th Amendment makes him unfit for
the CIA chief.
Thank you once again, Senator Specter, for your superb