— Politi.us

Political Analysis of Today's Events

Over the last three decades and as the internet blossomed into a normal part of everyday life, public concern over individual privacy has grown exponentially in significance. The topic started creeping into board room discussions which gave way to formal company policies and eventually became so ubiquitous that legislation now governs the use, storage, and transmission of all personally identifiable information (PII) companies collect. With modern privacy laws targeting corporations and other reckless actors, one might also reasonably expect to feel that our privacy is a little safer and more protected, but wisely, most of us really don’t.

As early as 1996 before most people even knew what a website was, congress passed the HIPAA act which included the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The rule was, among other things, designed to provide standards for maintaining patient confidentiality and remains a cornerstone of privacy rights today. Meanwhile, other bodies have passed sweeping legislation protecting all aspects of consumer data including its retention, transmission, accessibility, and transferability. This would include, for example, the EU’s GDPR regulation and similar laws in the US and elsewhere. Violators can pay heavy fines under the regulation reaching well into 8 figures.

It’s against this backdrop of privacy legislation and supposed corporate efforts to protect consumers we find ourselves both satiated yet terrified. Why? Because at the same time that were working furiously to guard our private data, we’re also freely giving most of it away to the biggest and least accountable organizations in the country. It’s a giant contradiction and in any case, protecting privacy in today’s world is something of a fool’s errand. It’s like trying to hold back the fog. Your PII is already out there in numerous ways and stunning detail, and there’s really very little you can do to shield it.

Consider Google, Microsoft, and Apple, the ‘big 3’ of risk factors to your privacy. Microsoft and Apple create the operating systems on most personal computers in today’s world, and Google and Apple create the operating systems on most tablets and phones. Simply put, they have theoretical access to everything you do online or off. These are private companies, folks, and as such are rarely subject to any type of public inspection or oversight like a government entity would be. All decisions including those that affect consumer privacy are made by unelected corporate officers behind closed doors and with the ultimate goal of making a profit. Whether or not they take unsavory liberties with your private data, it’s important to note that they can if they want. And we’re all just basically required to agree to trust them completely or not use a computer. Let that sink in for a moment.

Their access includes all your connected physical devices and the information stored within – which translates to everything you do on your computer or phone. That means nearly every email you’ve ever written or ever will write, every file you download, every video you watch, and everything you create or invent. All three companies make their own browsers and have access to every website you’ve ever visited, all your online communications, and everything else you’ve ever seen or done online. I’m not saying they take advantage of this access, of course. I’m merely pointing out that they could if they wanted to. Worse, they’d enjoy little chance of being discovered.  

And you’re not just depending on these 3 company to behave nicely. Each company has thousands of employees, many with access to your PII, and any of whom may be the loose cannon that abuses that access. Then there are dozens of other companies in addition to the big 3 that have varying amounts of your PII stored on their servers around the world – often on servers that fall short of data privacy law compliance, even if merely a result of their misinterpretation of governing regulations. In other words, the laws that govern privacy are so complex these days, many companies don’t even realize what they need to do to be in compliance – especially the smaller ones. The same is often true of their security posture.

If the risks of having your entire digital life subject to scrutiny by unaccountable people at private companies isn’t scary enough, there’s more. Let’s turn our attention to the your cell phone carrier. We all love our cell phones, right? I freely admit I love mine. I take it everywhere as it has become unthinkable to leave it behind. But at what cost to privacy? The device has a microphone, a high resolution video camera, and a GPS chip. I’ve not only bugged myself with a more-than-adequate audio/video device, but I’m also carrying around a tracking beacon that gives yet another private company my real-time location 24 hours a day. Many cell phone carriers store this data meaning that if someone wanted to put together a comprehensive record of everywhere I’ve been last year, it’s probably possible without breaking a sweat. Again, we’re required to simply trust the phone carrier with this information, or refrain from using a normal phone.

So, with countless details of our lives freely handed over to an array of private companies and their employees, we can now turn our attention to the topic of government data collection and storage. As we all know, the government tracks each citizen literally from birth to death with various licenses and certificates. The DMV, for instance, tracks a considerable amount of our PII including our past and present addresses, our physical characteristics like height and eye color, and even some medical information. And of course, there are many other government entities at all levels that track PII. Even the plans to my home are tracked by the local government along with a detailed terrain map of the property. It goes without saying that the government also knows how much we all earn, how we earn it, and can even audit our financials if they decide they want to.

Privacy vulnerabilities don’t even end there. While we mostly enjoy using social media, it’s also important to remember that with every post, we’ve grown accustomed to sharing private details of our lives and thoughts with more private company like Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter (sorry, the letter formerly known as Twitter) for the world at large to consume. And while we’re posting pictures of ourselves visiting Aunt Tess, we’re also being photographed any number of times since Cameras are so ubiquitous. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to avoid being photographed multiple times during any excursion from one’s home even if it’s just by the cameras installed above stoplights.

Enter artificial intelligence. As if the many threats to personal data privacy detailed above aren’t enough to convince you that privacy is probably dead, AI has come along just in time. AI isn’t just for writing high school book reports anymore. It can be used to steal a person’s essence. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but it’s kind of true. With just a few seconds of analysis, new AI engines are capable of recreating a person’s voice complete with personalized intonations. A random stranger is now able to synthesize audio of me speaking, sometimes realistically enough to fool someone who knows me.

So yeah, we’re all screwed and we mostly do it to ourselves. If all the information we’ve shared about ourselves is ever compiled into a single source, those with access would probably know just about everything there is to know about a person. And with some handy AI, they could probably even create a better (electronic) version of me than I ever could be!

Drakula’s Renfield

Gretchen Whitmer was recently the target of a kidnapping plot where they were planning to “try and execute” her. Here the president’s advisor is tweeting ‘rise up’ to Trump followers in Michigan because the state is trying to slow the third wave which is evidently at risk of overwhelming hospitals.

Is it just me, or is this one of the most insane, irresponsible, even criminal things we’ve seen anyone do? I wish I could say I was shocked, but this is Trump’s hand picked, infectious disease experience lacking lackey. He’s only doing what Trump wants, like some kind of evil lieutenant Renfield. What ever happened to normal, reasonable rhetoric like “we disagree with their approach”?


Jax: Future head of NASA

After the election, and heading into a third wave of coronavirus infections as the weather cools, our idiot in chief has just hinted at firing Dr. Fauci. Never mind that he could very well be the most experienced person on Earth dealing with pandemics, as he’s been around through AIDS, SARS, Swine Flu, Ebola and other major outbreaks. None of that seems to be important.

The problem, it seems, is that he’s far more popular that President Turd and far more honest in his assessments. Accordingly, he has been deemed insufficiently loyal and designated a low IQ individual by the President. Exit Fauci, stage left.

Replacing Dr. Fauci is likely candidate Dr. Scott Atlas, an intelligent physician with no relevant experience in infectious disease whatsoever – but he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express recently, so there’s that.

After the election, and in addition to firing Dr. Fauci, President Turd has plans to replace the head of NASA with Jax from the Sons of Anarchy due to his clear mechanical abilities, love of speed, and reputation as a rebel.

Also under serious consideration is a replacement at the FDA where the president wants to install Turd loyalist Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame due to his extensive experience with pharmaceuticals.

Chachi from Happy Days will become the new Director at the FBI. Asked about his lack of experience, President Turd curtly replied, “Well, he’s white”.

The end of the first debate between Vice President Biden and President Trump was telling. In Biden’s final remarks, he made the case to the American people to get out and vote, which seemed normal. His plan is to turn out as many people as he can.

But did anyone notice anything about Trump, because I did. He didn’t ask anyone to vote in his final comments. He didn’t stress the importance of turning out. He didn’t ask us to show up at the polls even one time in his entire closing statement. He he didn’t tell his followers that he needs them.

And do you know why? Seems obvious in retrospect. Getting them to vote is not his plan. If it was, he’d have implored his voters to come out and show us how they feel. But, nope. This was not even an afterthought.

So what is Slippery Don’s plan? Well, let’s recap what he actually did say. He said he vote is a fraud. Not just any fraud. The biggest fraud in the history of big frauds. The most evil fraud in the history of evil frauds. That was his message. That was his topic, laser-like focus.

In Don’s mind, he’s looking forward to contesting the results, and so it’s irrelevant if he loses. His plan is simple. If he wins, it was fair. If he loses, it was massive fraud on a scale never before seen. So asking you to vote is meaningless and a waste of his precious time on stage. But telling you the vote is rigged? Well, that’s planting the seeds of doubt in the minds of his cult like followers, and that’s all he needs from them right now.

And that’s why he spent his entire closing argument telling his supporters not that they should vote, but to be “standing by”, as he put it, to contest the vote.

I would never wish black lung disease on anyone, but the irony of this article is difficult to ignore:


The worst part of the story is that this person reportedly fought against health benefits and laws designed to protect workers.

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

I read an article published by Robert Reich earlier today that really made a lot of sense. It described the Trump presidency in incredibly lucid and almost primal terms. Robert takes a look at the psychology of the us versus them mentality that exists in the country and, without making a prediction, paints the upcoming election in stark, yet understandable terms.

Robert has a good understanding of the state of the nation, and his article is a good read:


Have you seen the coronavirus numbers today from the CDC? Over 800,000 infections (that we know about) and 46,000 deaths. Not to mention the myriad and oft overlooked other afflictions that sufferers endure including everything from ‘covid-toes’ to strokes.

Those numbers are huge and getting huger (is that a word?). Especially compared to 0 where were last year at this time, and every other year before that. So when I hear about a gradual easing of restrictions and politicians speaking about “opening things up”, I wonder to myself, “in what universe?”. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. In order to open back up we need to have the following things at a minimum:

  1. Universally available testing for both antibodies and the virus itself so we know who’s got and has had what.
  2. Universally available personal protective equipment so we can feel safe out in public.
  3. A vaccine, or at the very least, an effective drug therapy to fight the infection.
  4. A solid understanding of the virus’ true penetration numbers in our society.
  5. An executive branch that works better with, and with less acrimony towards our state and local governments.
  6. A sustained negative trend in known infections – we’re not even flat at this point.

Right now, we don’t have any of that stuff. And it’s unlikely, given the flat-footed nature of our national response, that we’ll have it any time soon. Plus, some of these things on our wish list take time. Vaccines need to be developed, tested, augmented, tested again, etc. Many versions fail, and some make things worse. We also have no idea if there’s any immunity for those with antibodies, and if there is, we don’t know how long that will last. We don’t know if the virus will mutate next flu season. We don’t know lots of important things at this point.

When I hear politicians talking about “opening things up” it reminds me of the person who buys low and sells high. We’re not better off than we were 6 weeks ago. About the only thing we’ve managed to do is educate the public, who routinely wear masks and form socially distant lines at the grocery store – at least near where I live. But elements of the public are still lax in their observance. Right now, many states have conservative groups protesting and blatantly ignoring distancing guidelines. Others are fighting for the right to congregate at churches and other venues, public health be damned.

Can anyone here say “second wave” or “latest hot-spot” or “this might last a while”? Because I don’t see anything that would prevent it, do you?

Donald Trump, faced with a spiraling catastrophe that is arguably partly of his own making, has a new approach battling coronavirus. Pretend it’s not really his problem at all and blame as many other people as possible for the failings of the federal government. While America now has the most COVID-19 cases on Earth and the prospect of a quarter million dead citizens, the White House has figured out exactly where all the fault lies. Pretty much with everyone but Trump.

First, the White House is blaming each individual state for not being prepared for a pandemic on their own. ‘The federal government isn’t responsible‘ is their new argument. Trump’s White House is also blaming the Obama Administration, who left office over 3 years ago. Clearly it’s that administration’s fault for the Trump government’s failure to prepare or even notice they weren’t prepared for a challenge. And he’s blaming the Chinese even though we had ample warning of the disease before virus came here and began infecting people. And he’s blaming the impeachment, of course, even though it was over long before March of 2020 when cases went from close to 30 to a quarter million or more.

But I’m not done. There’s more blame to go around. There’s the media for having the audacity to raise the red flag and start telling Americans about a dangerous virus circulating in Asia long before it made it to American shores. Then there’s the democratic party for amplifying those timely and necessary warnings. There’s also the individual governors of states like Michigan and Washington where Trump doesn’t like the person in charge and can’t get over it long enough to help his own citizens. There’s blame for Nancy Pelosi who Trump hasn’t spoken to in almost a half year because he’s, you know, mad.

What a shit show.

But when you ask Trump how much blame is his? None, absolutely zero. How dare you for asking? How dare you for insulting the United States Government with aggressive and treasonous questions, you bastard.

By now you probably know I’m not fan of Donald Trump. But honestly, folks, is this the guy we really want running things when there’s a global pandemic? We’re talking about Donald Trump here–a guy more interested in maintaining his dyed hair and unnaturally white smile than the welfare of the half of the country who doesn’t like him.

First of all, Trump is well known for ignoring experts and acting impulsively. People come and go from his revolving door administration and science-based institutions under his rule, like the FDA, are being attacked from within. He has already publicly doubted his own expert’s information based on his personal hunches. Climate change is just a myth and for the first several weeks of this pandemic, so too was COVID-19 – at least according to the president. How might things be different today if the United States had taken this more seriously when it began?

Second, we know Trump is a ruthless, narcissistic leader who openly deals out unapologetic retribution to the disloyal. He recently fired a decorated lieutenant colonel’s brother after his sibling dared to testify in front of the US Congress during the impeachment hearings. We know many others have been treated similarly and it shocks no one that many of the employees that leave his administration are castigated as outright enemies of Trump. Look at how he treated Jeff Sessions just last week when Trump tweeted out a glowing endorsement of his former AG’s senate campaign opponent. Sessions wasn’t out to get Trump when he recused himself from the Russia investigation. He just did what he thought was lawful and appropriate at the time. But Trump demands unwavering fealty and he’ll show no mercy if he doesn’t get it.

Recently, and in the midst of this unfolding crisis when seriousness should have been the top priority, Trump referred to Gov. Jay Inslee as ‘a snake’ after a meeting with the Vice President and others over the COVID-19 response. This at a time when our leaders need to be pulling us together more than ever before. Is it that farfetched to wonder aloud whether he would use his power to delay aid and allow Washington State residents to suffer or die as a way to pay Inslee back for some perceived slight? What about others with whom he has a bone to pick? Trump’s very impeachment was over holding back aid to Ukraine. Why not Washington or California or Michigan?

I’ll be frank: Trump is not the right man for this job. At all. He doesn’t have the right temperament. He’s not willing to work with those who have opposed him and he’s openly and ruthlessly vindictive. If Americans are going to get through the next twelve months of this coronavirus, we’re going to need to pull and work TOGETHER, and Donald Trump hasn’t shown the desire or ability to make that happen. Trump supporter or not, no one could make the argument that this isn’t the most polarizing time in a generation. He’s divided the country and whether it was intentional or not isn’t really important anymore.

Like it or not, we’re stuck with this guy – for now — but I wish we weren’t. And we all need to make sure there’s an election in November. Virus or not.

While conservatives are only too happy to tell us there was no war in the Middle East with Iran, and a terrible person was eliminated (to use an antiseptic term for assassinated), they seem oblivious to the recklessness of the entire, surreal episode. Let’s be clear: Killing Soleimani could have sparked a war, and anyone who thinks the violent fallout has passed is sadly naive.