Abuse of Power Always Starts with Something that Sounds Reasonable


One of the most common arguments made by those who promote obtuse domestic spying and reduced individual privacy for American citizens is that if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to worry about. There are plenty of people in Washington DC who espouse these concepts, who believe that the NSA and law enforcement should be given free rein on their activities in order to keep us safe.

At what point do the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans get pushed aside for the common good of fighting evils such as terrorism or mass shootings? How much does America have to change in order to deal with the challenges of modern society?

Perhaps the question we should really be asking is whether the measures that have already been put into place are the result of a changing world or are they working to expand the very challenges they were intended to solve. As with most things that happen in American politics, this question does not have a black and white answer. On the surface, it would appear that the solutions are attacking the effect, but if we dig deeper we will find that they are actually part of the cause.

In the future, we’ll discuss how gun control has the exact opposite effect from what the liberals say. For now, let’s examine domestic spying and see if Washington DC is part of the solution or part of the problem.

Truly Fighting Terrorism

One can look at the recent events that happened in Paris, Aden, London, Beirut, and San Bernardino and think that we need to do more to stop terrorism both in the United States and around the world. The knee-jerk reaction is that we need more military action, more domestic spying, and more law enforcement fighting the terrorists.

This can be a dangerous line of thinking if it’s not analyzed beyond the surface. More is not always better. Do we work towards preventing terrorist attacks by expanding the powers of the NSA? Do we play towards our fears of radical Islamic terrorism by taking Donald Trump’s approach of monitoring mosques and blocking Muslims from entering the country altogether? Should we send multiple battalions of troops to Iraq and Syria to eradicate the monster of the Islamic State before it can advance its cause and radicalize people foreign and domestic?

All of these can seem like plausible ideas. All of them have harsh repercussions that would actually contribute to the problem in the long term.

Of the solutions, the expansion of the role of NSA spying is the least noticeable to the public and potentially the most damaging to the country. It’s easy for politicians like Chris Christie and Marco Rubio to say that the tenets of the Patriot Act were necessary evils to keep us safe, but that’s not the story from those who actually fight terrorism. The FBI, which is our first line of defense against terrorists within our borders, do not use the same techniques as the NSA. This is a distinction that must be understood for what it represents.

The NSA has been charged with collecting the data from digital communications and sorting it in a way that can draw meaningful connections between terrorists. In theory, this makes a lot of sense. In reality, the Inspector General’s report declassified this year revealed that “the secrecy surrounding the National Security Agency’s post-9/11 warrantless surveillance and bulk data collection program hampered its effectiveness, and many members of the intelligence community later struggled to identify any specific terrorist attacks it thwarted.”

It’s the FBI through good ol’ fashioned investigating coupled with modern legal suspect monitoring systems that prevent terrorist attacks. Those like Rubio, Christie, and Jeb Bush who claim that promoting the USA Freedom Act somehow contributed to the San Bernardino terrorist attack (or any attack for that matter) either fail to understand the complexities of national security or are pounding on a talking point for the sake of political expediency.

Marco Rubio Jeb Bush

Could your electronic communication records be used to thwart a terrorist attack? If not, why does the government need it? The answer is that they do not. The NSA wants the data for other reasons that have nothing to do with stopping terrorism. As conspiratorial as that sounds, it’s the truth. This data is clearly effective in other areas such as corporate espionage and demographic structuring, but it has never been demonstrated to have an impact on terrorism or terrorist-related crimes. Never.

The natural progression is this: once the government is empowered to gather private information from its citizens, they develop a need for more information to enhance the data they collect. It sounds like circular reasoning because it is. One can speculate that had Edward Snowden not come forth, the NSA’s activities would have grown in scope and grandeur. I am not one who supports what Snowden did, but I’m also not one who believes the government must collect communication and activity data from every law abiding citizen in an effort to find the needles in the haystack. There are better ways to do this which is why the FBI has had tremendous success and the NSA spying operation has been a bust.

Reliance on authoritarian methods to locate potential terrorist threats is a path that Americans should never allow to happen. Law enforcement agencies are equipped with the tools they need to succeed. Pushing for the dismissal of freedoms and privacy is a road that will lead to things much worse than the terrorism that can happen in their absence. It’s important to reiterate that there has never been a terrorist attack thwarted on domestic soil based upon the information gathered through the communication spying promoted by Rubio, Christie, or Bush.

It’s the FBI who has been wildly successful at stopping terrorist attacks after 9/11. With the power of the USA Freedom Act that Rubio, Christie, and Bush opposed, they can gather information from potential terrorists without having to snoop through everyone’s digital activities. I’ve said it twice now but it must be said one more time: the NSA has not been successful with the domestic spying portion of the Patriot Act. It was a miserable failure and one that the FBI never had to rely on. They tried. It didn’t work, so they resumed their proper activities within the confines of the Constitution.

Do not believe those who are selling you on Draconian methods of national security for the sake of their political careers. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have fought this because their ideology is the best way to keep Americans safe. Bush, Rubio, and Christie are selling national insecurity because they hope your fears will make you too blind to see the truth.

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” Those are the words that are literally posted on the NSA’s website. Big Brother wants to be watching. Don’t let him.

NSA Motto



NFL Social Media Power Rankings


We’ve seen some great action on the field in the NFL through the first 10 weeks of the season—including Tom Brady’s return, Adrian Peterson’s resurgence, and DeAndre Hopkins’ coming out party—but how has the NFL performed on social media?

All 32 NFL teams use a multitude of social media platforms to connect and engage with football fans, combining for more than 122 million social fans around the world. Luckily for us, the folks at Sprinklr examined all 32 teams’ social media use through the first 10 weeks of the 2015 NFL season. 

Let’s take a look at what they came up with.

On and Off Field Standings

NFL social media standingsLooking at the on-field standings vs. social media rankings, two of the NFL’s top teams also rank within the top five in terms of social media standings. 

It should be to no one’s surprise that the undefeated Patriots rank No. 2 in the social media standings through the first 10 weeks of the season. Their play on the field—combined with the Tom Brady drama off of it—makes for a lot of social headlines. 

The biggest surprise here?

The Oakland Raiders, who haven’t had a winning season since losing in the Super Bowl to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002. But, as we’ll see later, the data shows that Oakland fans drive a lot of engagement on social media. 

Most Talked About

Most talked about NFL teamsWeek by week, no NFL team is talked about more on social media than Brady’s New England Patriots, as the Pats have dominated seven of the 10 weeks. New England garnered 276.3k mentions in the first week of the season—a game in which Brady was supposed to miss due to suspension. Instead, the Patriots’ quarterback threw four touchdown passes in a 28-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

New England’s Instagram account posted a photo of Brady following the Pat’s win in Week 1, driving more than 96k likes.

Most Followed

Most Followed NFL teams on social media

Somewhere along the way in NFL history, the Dallas Cowboys became “America’s Team.” Now I’m a New York Giants fan so I don’t buy that type of hype, but as you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys are the most followed NFL team on social media, with a combined 11 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Dallas has only made the playoffs twice in the last seven seasons, which is a far cry from their performance in the early 90’s, when the Cowboys won three Super Bowls between 1992-1995.

Moving down, the Patriots come in at second, the Steelers third, the Green Bay Packers fourth, and then the San Francisco 49ers round out the top five, with 6.5 million followers. 

Maybe it’s the cheerleaders that have NFL fans following the Cowboys? They do have their own Instagram account, you know.

Most Engaging

Most engaging NFL social media accountsLooking at which NFL teams drive the most engagement through social media, the trend continues, with the Patriots, Cowboys, and Steelers dominating the top three spots. 

What’s most interesting about this graphic—which was foreshadowed earlier—is the fact that the Oakland Raiders have the best engagement ratio among all 32 professional teams, with an impressive 36%. To me, this proves that the Raiders have a loyal fan base. 

The Arizona Cardinals are having a great season here in 2015, sporting a 7-2 record through the first 10 weeks of the season, which is helping to keep their social media fans interested.

I’m also not surprised to see the Buffalo Bills round out the top three. Anytime you have a controversial coach like Rex Ryan at the helm, it can make for an interesting social media experience.

Most Active

Most active NFL teams on social mediaEarlier, we saw that the Packers were the fourth-most followed NFL team in the league, and when looking at this graphic, we can understand why. Green Bay posts the most each week, with an average of 342 posts across the three major social networks. Posts like this—an Instagram video of Green Bay legends Brett Favre and Bart Star embracing each other on Thanksgiving night—show why fans love following the Packers’ accounts.

You’ll see the Raiders there at No. 2, which is impressive, especially given their No. 1 ranking in average engagement ratio. Oakland posts a lot on social media and the fans eat it up.

Closing out the top five you’ll see my four-time Super Bowl champion New York Giants, posting an average of 288 times per week. It’s posts like this that get me amped up for game time!

Thumbnail image via Shutterstock

NFL social media data and images via Sprinklr

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