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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hacking the Utah Attorney General's Office


"You're a mean one, Mister Grinch." It would appear to the casual observer that the former Utah Attorney General John Swallow is a crook. Even the Grinch wouldn't beat a legal affidavit out of a guy on his death bed, trying to turn a bribe into an unbribe.* Man, talk about a heart two sizes too small. Sure, Swallow resigned hours ahead of a report on his crookedness, and the wheels of justice are grinding away on his growing litany of shenanigans. But that's not the bad part. The fact is, the Utah Attorney General's office is…well…asleep at the switch. Which is an open invitation for massive miscreant misbehavior. 

Merry Christmas to the LGBT community, who was ready to walk into city hall and have their same-sex marriages licensed and performed by none other than Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker just hours after a federal judge declared Utah's same-sex-marriage ban unconstitutional. A moderately competent attorney general's office would have had the paperwork ready to file for a stay of the decision pending appeal. 

Don't get me wrong. It's not the purpose of this blog to comment on Judge Shelby's ruling or opine on same-sex marriage. The cause of my indigestion is that Utah politicians ought to be paying more attention to operational competence and less attention to diode output of the FOR SALE signs on their lapel buttons. 

So to all you hackers, crackers, and black hats I say, "Come to the Grinch's home state and do some phishing!" U.S. cyber security laws already have us playing with our hands behind our backs. There's not a single person in the U.S. House or Senate that knows a DNS hack from a double hernia. Pay your protection money from a PAC named something like "Decency for the Homeless" and then suck up cash like a Hoover,the vacuum cleaner, not J. Edgar. Heck, if J. Edgar were alive today he'd probably be standing in the marriage license line at the Salt Lake City Hall with his former assistant Clyde Tolson. 

*Swallow had the audacity to cajole Richard M. Rawle into signing an affidavit explaining his arrangement with Swallow just days before Rawle died of cancer in December 2012. Swallow distributed the document as proof that he'd done nothing wrong.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hacking the FDA

Want to see the movie my buddy Jeff Hays is producing that blows the lid off the FDA? Click here if you want your own DVD (and a chance to contribute via indiegogo).

Jeff is one of the five or six smartest guerrilla warfare marketeers I've ever known. I'm glad he's chosen to use his powers for good.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Federal Judge Clark Waddoups Rules Utah Polygamy Law ALMOST Unconstitutional

Author's note: Judge Waddoups and his family have been dear friends of me and my wife for over twenty years. The novel Daddy's Little Felons was written about our now-deceased mutual friend Judge Pat Brian. My wife and I had the Waddoups over to the house for dinner in late September, and I knew that the ruling on The Sister Wives case was about to make some history. The judge couldn't talk at all about the case, but I could tell he was excited about the upcoming ruling. I think my old friend made some history with this one.
My friend Clark Waddoups, who I have reported is the most brilliant cyberlaw jurist on the planet (as he whacked 1800CONTACTS in their lawsuit which was then upheld by the appeals court as they tried to take over commerce on the Internet-see the story here), has just made some history with his ruling on the Sister Wives television show case. Once he filed the ruling, Clark sent me a copy, which I posted on my personal website (see it here). I'll have you know that I spent the evening reading it, and avoiding going to my regular Friday night movie or even watching television. This was hands down the most entertaining evening I've had in ages. To help you gird up your loins to dissect the 91-page document (which I think will become required reading in every law school in the country, not to mention advanced degree programs in history and sociology), let me give you some net nets:

  1. The Utah statute on polygamy was ruled unconstitutional and yet miraculously upheld. How could that be?
  2. Simply, Judge Waddoups upheld the ban against legal recognition of polygamous marriage but did not uphold the criminalizing of polygamous behavior
  3. Since Kody Brown and the "Sister Wives" did not purport to have a legalized polygamous marriage, Judge Waddoups awarded them a summary judgment and rejected the state's summary judgment arguments.
  4. Judge Waddoups got off a couple of knee-slappingly funny characterizations of the state's competence with such lines as (p3) "The court was intrigued by the sheer lack of response in Defendant's filing to Plaintiffs' seven detailed constitutional claims." Or how about…
  5. The state wanted to get out of this so badly that (p7) "…the Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss…and confirmed that the long investigation of the Brown[s] has been closed shortly before the planned summary judgement motions."
  6. In the footnote on page 10, Waddoups gets off another zinger against the state: "The court is not impressed with Defendant's characterization of Plaintiffs' serious and substantial legal arguments in support of each of their Constitutional claims…"
  7. Judge Waddoups took great pains to accentuate the incompetence of Assistant Attorney General Jerrold S. Jensen on pages 59-62 of his ruling when he recounted his dialogue with Mr. Jensen as he went down a list of scenarios, trying to understand Mr. Jensen's logic. Like I say, this should be required reading even at the high school level.
Never have I seen a more compelling and thoroughly reasoned history of not only Mormon polygamy, but (p11) of "the white man's burden—the idea that the civilized white Europeans had a duty to exercise firm but beneficient tutelage over what they regarded as the less advanced, child-like, dark-skinned races and guide them toward civilization." In other words, the reasoning against polygamy was inspired by racism of the most vile nature. Like I say, what a history lesson!

The fine line walked by Judge Waddoups can only be appreciated by another Mormon. Just like Judge Waddoups, my wife has polygamous Utah ancestors. It took some real guts for the judge to swallow hard and uphold the state constitution and federally mandated conditions for Utah to achieve statehood and, at the same time, recognize the reality of modern-day morality. The only nod to the inequity of the Utah law, which he grudgingly upheld, is his footnote on page 84:
"In particular, delegation of part of the amending process of a state constitution to the federal government raises the question of whether the state [of Utah] has been admitted into the Union on an equal footing with sister states." John J. Flynn, Federalism and Viable State Government—The History of Utah's Constitution, 1966 UTAH L. REV. 311, 323 n.89. (citing Coyle v. Smith, 221 U.S. 559 (1911).
Quoting a line from the Movie Top Gun, "Maverick, that's the gutsiest move I've ever seen." Et tu, Your honor!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

IRONY: TIME Magazine names Snowden "Runner-Up" for Person of the Year

My comment to the TIME MAGAZINE story (read it here) on Edward Snowden being named runner-up to their Person of the Year says it all:
Nomination makes sense, given TIME's criteria for naming POTY. We are at the nexus of a big national decision and debate on privacy. The alternative to a NSA/PRISM big brother state is total transparency of a publicly articulated doctrine (like The Morgan Doctrine) where licensed and bonded CYBER PRIVATEERS get aggressive with the bad guys and rogue governments. Trouble is, right now the USA and NSA are the biggest culprits and would therefore put all US assets around the world at risk. Ironic, eh?
The first nation that adopts the privatization of worldwide Internet security could become the new Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, not to mention the high-tech goldmine of all goldmines.

Ironic that it couldn't be the USA.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Anecdote on the State of Internet Trust

When I called Clyde Johnson to confirm he'd won his iPad Mini with Retina Display, I should have immediately identified myself as administering the award from his survey response. Instead, I said, "I'd like to confirm the delivery address for the iPad Mini that you just won."

He said, "Yeah, right."

I immediately realized how I must sound like one of the dozens of telephone scammers that call me every month, so I quickly said, "No, really. You filled out a survey on three thirty-second TV ads for Bingham Memorial Hospital and registered for an iPad drawing. You won. I just want to know where to ship the darn thing."

"Oh!" It suddenly came to him that I was truly on the level, as he remembered the survey.

Which now causes me to muse on what the world would be like, trust wise, if licensed and bonded privateers put a "check" in The Bad Guys' swings with the threat of overwhelming and disproportionate retaliation for misdeeds and thievery.

I'd like that world a lot better than the one we have.