The Summer That I Became A Republican

One of my granddaughters had once asked me why I was a Republican. I answered her easily and quickly. This is that story.

* * * *

I was born and raised in Anaheim, California.  When I was very little it was still an agricultural town.  There were less than a dozen kids in my first grade class.  However, after Disneyland the town became a large city in huge Orange County.  There were almost 900 kids in my high school graduating class.

I didn’t know what to do after high school.  So at my mother’s urging, I enrolled at nearby Fullerton Junior College – a fifteen-minute drive to the next town.  I registered as an “undeclared” major and took a broad collection of classes which were guaranteed transferable to any of the nearby four-year colleges regardless of my final major.

But during that first college year I did make one long-term big decision that changed my world view forever.  I enlisted in a United States Marine Corps officer candidate program called the Platoon Leaders Class.  The training would not interfere with college since it all would take place during summer months at Marine Corps Schools in Quantico, VA.

These were pre-Vietnam years and our military was held in high regard by everyone I knew.  My girlfriend had bragged to her friends about my being a Marine, and the varsity wrestling coach told me, “Yep.  That suits you.”  I had also really never been anywhere.  My father referred to my trip to Virginia as going “back-east.”

As my freshman year ended I received my official active duty orders and the first airline tickets I had ever seen.  My mother and father, who also had never been on a plane were especially impressed.

After the third week of training the Marine Corps gave us our first liberty.  We could leave the base immediately after the Friday morning inspection and not return until 1800 hours Sunday evening.  Five of us from my platoon were now special friends and had agreed we’d share some costs and travel together to Washington, DC on the earliest available train.

After a 22-mile bus ride from Camp Upshur we arrived at the historic Quantico train station (built in 1872) in the unincorporated little town of Quantico, Virginia.  We purchased round trip tickets to Union Station in Washington and had been sitting in the station waiting room about ten minutes when the uniformed station master entered the waiting room.

The station master walked over and told the five of us while he nodded at Eddie, the only African-American in our group, “Boys, your friend can’t stay in here.” Before we could say anything, Eddie shrugged, picked up his overnight bag and went outside without saying anything to the rest of us.  Two of us followed him outside, but Leo and I confronted the station employee.  Our conversation was short and went as follows (I paraphrase):

ME: “What’s this all about.”

HIM: (Pointing at a small “White’s Only” sign) “Can’t you see it’s posted?”

LEO: “But he bought a ticket.”

ME: “And he’s a Marine.”

HIM: (Acted irritated) “That doesn’t matter.  It’s posted.  It’s the law.”

LEO: “Who’s stupid law?”

HIM: “The city’s law.  And Prince William county’s law.  And the State of Virginia’s law.

ME: “Can’t you make an exception?”

HIM: (As he walked back into the ticket office) “No, I cannot.” I am ordered to enforce it here.”

Eddie took the bus back to camp Upshur that day and didn’t go to Washington with us.

That wasn’t the last time that I saw “whites only” signs that summer.  However, I didn’t see them in Washington.  President Eisenhower (a Republican) had pledged during his first State of the Union address in 1953 to end public facility and school segregation in the nation’s capital, and did so.  The rest of the country wouldn’t match Ike’s achievement for a few more years, and at the time every level of government in Virginia had a Democrat majority.

When I returned home I was asked a lots of questions by my friends and family about my experiences.  I told everyone two things. The first was about the pride I personally felt by having become a Marine.  The second was about the shame I felt toward my country’s Democrat party and why when I became old enough to vote I would never vote for the Democrat party to control anything in my country.

I have not changed either of these two decisions.

The post The Summer That I Became A Republican appeared first on Alpha News.

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NSA admits to collecting more than 534 million phone calls and text messages from Americans last year

The U.S. National Security Agency collected more than 534 million records of phone calls and text messages from American telecommunications providers last year, tripling the amount of data it collected in 2016, according to a report released Friday.

Service providers like AT&T and Verizon are providing much of the data. That includes records of phone calls received and made, but not the actual contents of what was said, according to the report from the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Why did it triple?

The report does not explain why the increase in data collection was so large.

Alex Joel, the office’s own chief civil liberties officer, told the New York Times it may be due to the amount of data companies are keeping, whether a target uses multiple phones, how the telecommunications industry creates records and duplicate records.

The triple increase was dismissed as a fluctuation.

“Based on what we have learned from this data, we expect it will continue to fluctuate from year to year,” Joel said.

Joel also said the NSA had not “reinterpreted legal restrictions” on how it collects data.

In 2015, Congress made changes to how the NSA can access domestic telecom data. The changes were made to end an NSA bulk collection program that vacuumed up billions of phone records from Americans per day. Under a new system, phone companies keep bulk records but the NSA has access to all records that target an individual and anyone that person has contacted, according to reports.

What led to this?

The NSA’s mass data collection efforts date back to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and were exposed in 2013 by Edward Snowden, a former intelligence contractor and CIA employee who became a whistleblower. Snowden publicly released a series of classified documents that set off a national and international debate on government surveillance and citizens’ privacy rights.

Privacy advocates have long warned that Section 702 allows the NSA to spy on internet and telephone communications of Americans without warrants.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation explains:

Section 702 is a surveillance authority passed as part of the FISA Amendments Act in 2008. That law amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

Section 702 is supposed to do exactly what its name promises: collection of foreign intelligence from non-Americans located outside the United States. As the law is written, the intelligence community cannot use Section 702 programs to target Americans, who are protected by the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. But the law gives the intelligence community space to target foreign intelligence in ways that inherently and intentionally sweep in Americans’ communications.

The report released Friday “did not disclose the volume of Americans’ communications or metadata gathered by the NSA’s work abroad, where its activities are regulated by Executive Order 12333, not the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and it is permitted to engage in bulk collection,” the Times reported.

One concern is that foreign intelligence could be used for domestic law enforcement purposes in a way that evades traditional legal requirements.

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