Balance the Budget

The New York Times has a nifty web calculator for experimenting with proposed tactics for reducing the federal budget deficit. Although simplistic, it is an interesting exercise that counters the idea that the budget deficit can’t be fixed without privatizing social security or eliminating the Department of Energy and/or Education. I’d like to see a larger interactive budget calculator that allows you to tweak all aspects of federal taxation and expenses. It might reveal some interesting results. Here is what I came up with.

Representative Wimmer Speaks Out on Open Primaries

Representative Carl Wimmer courageously speaks out on why Democrats need an open primary.

OK, Time for opperation chaos Utah style. Utah Democrats have an open primary election, so EVERY Republican in the Utah 2nd Congressional District needs to go and vote for Claudia Wright against Matheson. She is very liberal, and would give Morgan Philpot an almost certain victory in that district.

Mike Lee Campaign Apology

The Mike Lee campaign called me this afternoon to apologize for asking me to shut off my video recording. Apparently they have been visited more than once by someone with a video camera who is there only to disrupt the campaign, and both the staffer and the campaign communications director had no idea that this individual was not me, so they assumed the worst. The campaign promised to give me some time, on camera, with Mr. Lee if I come to a future event.

I appreciate their apology and I will try to take up their offer at another time.

I went to a Mike Lee “Meet & Greet”

Seeing Mike Lee was going to do a “Meet & Greet” in Salt Lake City today, I went to see for myself what this Republican candidate for U.S. Senate was all about. I asked him several questions and got answers that I agreed and disagreed with. I would tell you more about our discussion of his endorsers, the 4th & 14th amendments, his desire for term limits but his repeated votes for Hatch and Bennett, and why our government is a “tyranny” in spite of the supremacy clause of the Constitution, but unfortunately his campaign wouldn’t allow me to record anything.

It’s the 21st century boys. Get used to being on camera. Trying to block people from recording what your candidate says doesn’t bode well for being transparent and accountable in Washington.

To Republican and Democrat State Delegates

I am sending the following letter to as many Republican and Democrat State delegates that I can find.

    During this last legislative session, I was a vocal opponent to House Bill 150, “Administrative Subpoena Amendments”. This bill expanded an already unconstitutional practice of bypassing a warrant when demanding customer information from an Internet Service Provider. I do not believe that the founding fathers did not care about crimes against children, nor deem that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution was overly broad and needed to be disregarded in case of new technologies. As the president of XMission Internet, I have personally responded to hundreds of warrants in a professional and expedient fashion. As a citizen of this country it is my duty to respect law enforcement’s requests when they properly follow the Constitution. If I didn’t respond to a warrant, then I am committing a crime in itself.

    My customer information is part of my papers and effects, protected by the Fourth Amendment. If I was a gunsmith in revolutionary America, a list of my customers would provide a lot of valuable information to the British. Under HB150, all you need to do is make a threat against the government on the Internet, and suddenly you are suspected of cyberstalking. Your Internet identity is laid bare for any individual in law-enforcement to uncover, without the oversight of a third-party judge. New technologies require us to respect the Constitution more, not less. Administrative Subpoena proponents in the Attorney General’s office believe that lack of a warrant for customer data is not unconstitutional because it has been ruled so by a variety of court opinions. The legislature exists to affirm and uphold the Constitution and not the courts. The AG’s justification for passing HB150 is precisely the opposite.

    Protecting our children is always a top priority. But under HB150, criminals may have the ability to walk free when evidence is uncovered without a proper warrant. Is this really how we want law-enforcement operating? Haphazardly, without the necessary approval of a judge? The best way we can prosecute criminals is by following the letter of the Utah and U.S Constitutions.

    I wrote much about HB150 while it was being rammed through the legislature by the Attorney General’s office and the bill’s sponsors. I ask that you read my criticisms while considering your vote for these individuals and the governor who signed it into law.

    Thank You,

    Pete Ashdown
    XMission

Here is a list of the sponsors and “yes” votes for HB150.

    Representative Bradley M. Daw
    Representative Jackie Biskupski
    Senator Margaret Dayton
    Governor Gary Herbert

    Representative Douglas C. Aagard, Representative Sheryl L. Allen, Representative Johnny Anderson, Representative Roger E. Barrus, Representative Jim Bird, Representative Melvin R. Brown, Representative Brad L. Dee, Representative John Dougall, Representative Jack R. Draxler, Representative Rebecca P. Edwards, Representative Ben C. Ferry, Representative Janice M. Fisher, Representative Julie Fisher, Representative Lorie D. Fowlke, Representative Craig A. Frank, Representative Gage Froerer, Representative Kerry W. Gibson, Representative James R. Gowans, Representative Richard A. Greenwood, Representative Keith Grover, Representative Christopher N. Herrod, Representative Gregory H. Hughes, Representative Fred R. Hunsaker, Representative Don L. Ipson, Representative Christine A. Johnson, Representative David Litvack, Representative Rebecca D. Lockhart, Representative Steven R. Mascaro, Representative Kay L. McIff, Representative Ronda Rudd Menlove, Representative Carol Spackman Moss, Representative Merlynn T. Newbold, Representative Michael E. Noel, Representative Curtis Oda, Representative Patrick Painter, Representative Kraig Powell, Representative Paul Ray, Representative Phil Riesen, Representative Jennifer M. Seelig, Representative Kenneth W. Sumsion, Representative Evan J. Vickers, Representative Brent C. Wallis, Representative Christine F. Watkins, Representative Curt R. Webb, Representative Ryan D. Wilcox, Representative David Clark

    Senator Stuart Adams, Senator Curtis S. Bramble, Senator D. Chris Buttars, Senator Allen M. Christensen, Senator Jon J. Greiner, Senator Lyle W. Hillyard, Senator David P. Hinkins, Senator Scott K. Jenkins, Senator Patricia W. Jones, Senator Peter C. Knudson, Senator Daniel R. Liljenquist, Senator Karen W. Morgan, Senator Wayne Niederhauser, Senator Ralph Okerlund, Senator Jerry W. Stevenson, Senator Dennis E. Stowell, Senator John L. Valentine, Senator Michael G. Waddoups

“It’s Just A Name”

Publius, Junius, American Farmer, Common Sense, Silence Dogood, Caesar, Senex, Phocion, Historicus, The Sons of Liberty

If these names had been connected to individuals, the American Revolution may have never happened. If these names had not written letters, handbills, columns and essays under pseudonyms, the public may not have come together against the tyranny of the British crown.

John Adams estimated that his cousin Samuel Adams used between 50 and 100 pseudonyms from the beginning of the American Revolution to its end. Samuel Adams himself said there were too many to count. If the pen is mightier than the sword, anonymity is its shield. Transparency is the key to accountability in government and law-enforcement. If that accountability can only come through the anonymity of a whistle-blowing citizen, then so be it. How many dissidents in Iran wish to have their names connected to their Twitter accounts right now? There is no difference between an anonymous blogger and someone handing out paper 245 years ago. The Fourth Amendment was written for this reason.

If I was a gun maker in revolutionary America, a list of my customers would be valuable information for the British. Would that list be included in my “papers and effects”? What makes the same information recorded by computer on a hard drive any different? The founding fathers demanded warrants be issued with very specific instructions because they had been subjected to the tyranny of inspections and seizures without cause or notice. New technologies do not require the reduction of old protections.

The Attorney General’s office has been twisting arms on the senate floor in a full court press to get HB150 through. The way this bill has been rammed through the House and committee meetings is evidence in itself that something is askew. Representatives of the AG’s office have not only discounted that I am the only Internet Service Provider protesting this bill, they have insinuated that I knowingly harbor child pornographers.

The last line of defense from the AG is that HB150 is actually good for Internet Service Providers. That ISPs can easily refuse an administrative subpoena and fight it in court. I’m not sure how going to court to defend my customers’ Fourth Amendment rights is actually easier than law-enforcement following the letter of the Constitution. I can tell you the latter costs me a lot less time and money.

Enlarging law-enforcement powers by writing a bill with “child predators” at the top is an easy task. What legislator in their right mind is going to stand against that? They aren’t going to be praised for upholding our constitutionally protected liberties, they’re going to be eviscerated for being soft on the lowest form of criminal. This is how these administrative subpoenas snuck out of government as an internal tool between departments and into our daily lives as a bypass of U.S. and Utah Constitutions. The justification is made that this type of information request has been upheld in the courts as constitutional. The Fourth Amendment is a single sentence made up of 54 words. In spite of these judicial opinions, I read warrantless requests for any amount of information as otherwise. With the constant cry that activist judges are shredding our constitution, it is up to our legislature to affirm our rights. They have repeatedly done so on the 2nd and 10th Amendments this session. They cannot turn around and punch a hole right through the 4th just because the Attorney General claims it’s easy.

Thank you to The Eagle Forum, The Sutherland Institute, The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board and The Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for publicly opposing this bill.

If you do one thing today, call or write the Utah Senate.

HB150 to the Senate EDUCATION Committee

What I don’t know about the sausage-making on capitol hill could fill a book, but if you were to ask me where a bill regarding law enforcement powers would be heard in the Utah Senate, it would be a Judicial Committee, just like when it was first heard in the Utah House. However, this bill is instead headed for the Senate Education committee. I’m sure there is a perfectly understandable reason as to why this might be. Maybe the Judicial Committee has more believers in Fourth Amendment protections than the Education Committee.

In any case, it will be heard tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM in 415 State Capitol.

Call and write the committee members now.

Senator Curtis S. Bramble Cell: (801) 361-5802
Senator Margaret Dayton Home: (801) 221-0623
Senator Brent Goodfellow Cell: (801) 556-4871
Senator Lyle Hillyard Office: (435) 752-2610
Senator Scott Jenkins Office: (801) 621-5412
Senator Howard Stephenson Office: (801) 972-8814

HB150 Passes House

Today the bill that extended warrantless demands for customer information from Internet Service Providers, HB150, was brought back as a substitute bill. It narrowed its scope to two crimes, child kidnapping and cyberstalking and threw some dogfood to ISPs who are afraid they might actually be held responsible for their actions.

It still remained a violation of Fourth Amendment rights, discriminatory against small ISPs, and filled with potential for abuse. All you need to be investigated for is cyberstalking before you are exposed on the Internet in Utah. Whistle blower? Political dissident? Afraid of discrimination? Pray your enemies don’t claim you are a cyberstalker in Utah, for the bill passed out of the House today, 48 – 20.

A representative who voted for the bill stated, “Crimes against kids that are happening through the Internet are not easy to combat because we can’t find who has these Web sites.” “All we’re asking for is the information so we can find out who we’re investigating — then we can pursue warrants.” Where does getting a warrant fail in getting information about ownership of websites? I can tell you one way, when it isn’t in the United States, otherwise a warrant works just fine. How about a minor’s identity on the Internet? Should that be open to any law-enforcement agent who can fill out a form? Is law-enforcement prescient about who is and who is not a minor on the Internet? Is that otherwise not worth protecting? Is it entirely possible that “information” about website ownership could harm a law-abiding citizen? This information is worth protecting, and it is protected by the Fourth Amendment.

This bill now goes to the senate. It will come before the Judiciary Committee, but I do not know when. I will post that here when I know. It also wouldn’t hurt to give your senator a heads-up on this bill and how you feel about it.

I extend my thanks to the courageous representatives who resisted the attorney general’s fear mongering and remembered that getting a warrant for information from anyone is an essential protection of our U.S. Constitution. You should thank them too: Trisha Beck, Laura Black, Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Stephen Clark, Tim Cosgrove, Susan Duckworth, James Dunnigan, Neil Hansen, Wayne Harper, Lynn Hemingway, Brian King, Todd Kiser, John Mathis, Marie Poulson, Stephen Sandstrom, Jay Seegmiller, Mark Wheatley, Larry Wiley, and Carl Wimmer.

As for the rest, mail them a copy of this and keep them in your memory around election time.

ISP Immunity for Violating Your Privacy!

HB150 is back on the floor in the form of a substitute. As far as I can see, the primary difference aside from including the modifications and amendments is this text:

113        (7) There is no cause of action against any provider or wire or electronic
114 communication service, or its officers, employees, agents, or other specified persons, for
115 providing information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with the terms of the
116 administrative subpoena issued under this section or statutory authorization.

Which essentially means they won’t hold the ISP liable for violating your privacy without a warrant. How sweet of them. However, this was not in any of my original concerns. It remains unconstitutional and should not be passed.