Republicans can’t wait till Scalia is in the ground — to say “NO”

News of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death is just beginning to reverberate across the political world this evening, as the 79-year-old’s passing at a West Texas resort on Saturday was confirmed a short time ago…

Doing away with any attempt to appear even remotely respectful and seizing upon the obvious political earthquake that is the passing of the Supreme Court’s most conservative justice in the final year of President Obama’s presidency, Ted Cruz got nakedly political in his reaction to Scalia’s death, tweeting that Americans “owe it” to Scalia and ourselves to block Obama from nominating a successor…

Even Donald Trump showed more tact when reacting to Scalia’s death…But Marco Rubio repeated Cruz’s crock that the people deserve a voice in naming Scalia’s replacement via the 2016 election while dismissing the results of the 2012 election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who once argued in favor of a president’s prerogative to nominate justices who share his ideology but has since vigorously opposed Obama’s federal judicial nominees — refusing to hold confirmation hearings for a historic amount of nominees, released a statement emphasizing his political take on Scalia’s death and demanding that this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President

The Party of NO now has an opportunity to double down on their fear of Constitutional democracy. Not only can they prevent useful legislation from getting through Congress, they can shut down the Supreme Court by refusing to confirm whoever President Obama nominates.

Rightwing talking heads recognize the risk they’re setting themselves up for. The SCOTUS has been dominated by Republican appointees for over 40 years. That’s not good enough for today’s piss-ant Republicans. Instead of weighing in on a likely centrist candidate they are willing to chance a pissed-off electorate not only voting a Democrat into the White House but taking control of the Senate away from conservatives.

If President Obama has the smarts, the cojones to confront Republicans on their intransigence, he will nominate a Center-Left constitutional champion a few weeks after Scalia is buried. Regardless of the ignorance of CNN, the record for the longest confirmation for a justice is not held by Clarence Thomas but someone whose ethnicity and politics made Republicans more furious than Democrats stewing over an ultra-conservative Uncle Tom. That record goes to a Wall Street sheriff and trust-buster who was a Jew, Louis Brandeis. His confirmation took 125 days.

And Obama will be around a couple hundred days longer than that.

Let’s hear that “NO”

Harvard study confirms Tim Cook is right = encryption bans and backdoors won’t work

Efforts by the FBI and certain lawmakers seeking to ban Apple and other U.S. companies from selling products with real encryption will not be effective, note researchers in a study citing 865 encryption products already available in 55 countries — two thirds of which originate outside the U.S.

❝The study for Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, conducted by cryptography expert Bruce Schneier and colleagues Kathleen Seidel and Saranya Vijayakumar, surveyed the availability of encryption products worldwide, compiling findings that make it clear that U.S. laws to weaken domestic encryption wouldn’t stop malicious users from obtaining foreign encryption, but would put U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage.

Schneier noted that an earlier form of the same findings were published back in 1999, when the Federal Government was considering whether to continue classifying strong encryption as a “munition” banned for export outside the U.S…

Now, do we expect real findings to mean a damned thing to politicians and obedience pimps?

Seventeen years later, an updated version of the same survey discovered 546 foreign encryption products, “44% of which are free,” and “34% are open source.”

It noted, “there is no difference in the advertised strength of encryption products produced in or outside the US. Both domestic and foreign encryption products regularly use strong published encryption algorithms such as AES. Smaller companies, both domestic and foreign, are prone to use their own proprietary algorithms.”

The report added, “some encryption products are jurisdictionally agile. They have source code stored in multiple jurisdictions simultaneously, or their services are offered from servers in multiple jurisdictions. Some organizations can change jurisdictions, effectively moving to countries with more favorable laws…”

❝”Any mandatory backdoor will be ineffective simply because the marketplace is so international. Yes, it will catch criminals who are too stupid to realize that their security products have been backdoored or too lazy to switch to an alternative, but those criminals are likely to make all sorts of other mistakes in their security and be catchable anyway.

Add into that particular equation the government snoops and lazy-ass coppers too full of donuts to push themselves away from a desk and try useful work.

For a change.

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook has made privacy—and the encrypted security protecting users’ privacy from corporate, government or terrorist snooping—into a key issue.

A year ago, Cook stated in an interview that “none of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information,” adding, “This is a basic human right. We all have a right to privacy. We shouldn’t give it up. We shouldn’t give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally don’t understand the details.”

“Terrorists will encrypt. They know what to do,” Cook said. “If we don’t encrypt, the people we affect are the good people.

Elizabeth Warren asks for marijuana to be classified as legal alternative painkiller

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to consider the role legal marijuana could play in the prescription opioid epidemic.

Warren asked for more research into medical marijuana and painkiller addiction in a letter to the CDC director, Thomas Friedan…

Her request comes as politicians, including the presidential nominees, search for the best response to the opioid epidemic…

Warren applauded the CDC’s actions so far to curb the epidemic but called on the agency to look at whether medical marijuana could be an alternative painkiller.

She also urged the agency to quickly finalize its guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain and called for increased collaboration between the CDC and other federal health agencies to determine the long-term effects of opioid use in children and the increased use of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Nestled in with these recommendations is a call to consider the role of marijuana legalization in the crisis.

Specifically, Warren requested the agency to provide more information on “the use, uptake and effectiveness of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain treatment in states where it is legal”.

She also asked them to look into “the impact of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on opioid overdose deaths”.

Medical marijuana is illegal under federal law, which is a significant hurdle for any federal agency hoping to study its effects, and makes it impossible to prescribe through a pharmacist.

But using the plant for some medical purposes is legal in 23 states, including Massachusetts, plus Washington DC. Marijuana is also legal for recreational use in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska.

The facts are already clear in states allowing medical marijuana. It is a sound treatment for opioid addiction. And, essentially, prescription of medical marijuana for many pain-centered conditions has already reduced the risk of opioid addiction.

Of course, that alternative reduces profits for many of the pharmaceutical corporations producing addictive drugs.