Morning Open Thread is here every morning at 6:30 EDT.
Quote of the Week:
“Rick Perry’s statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds. They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view. Our governor should reflect our Texas values. Sadly, Gov. Perry fails that test.”
(Note: This is how a woman from Texas responds to an Asshole).


It wouldn't be Monday morning without our weekly homage to Orwell!

orwell photo: orwell orwell.jpg

Soon the NSA will be able to snoop in your underwear...while you're wearing it.

Prepare for....the Internet of Things.

Doors that magically unlock as you approach. Clothes that advise you when they're out of style, then tell your car how to get to the nearest sale. Cough medicine that tells you when it's time to go to the doctor. This magical, futuristic world now called the "Internet of Things" is coming straight from science fiction into your home. Like "the cloud," the "Internet of Things" is largely a marketing term designed to create buzz around a series of not-yet-ready-for-prime time technologies, and also like the cloud, you won't be able to avoid hearing about it soon.
If you are even the slightest bit worried about the federal government reading your email, how concerned will you be that it could create a database of every bowel movement? Far fetched? Imagine what the National Institute of Health could do with such data.

Every one of these computer things will collect data that could end up in the hands of law enforcement, marketing companies, or even hackers, and at the moment, there is little to stop that. This worries Kevin Mahaffey, who runs mobile security company Lookout Inc.

"There are two possible ways this works. A world where everything you do is surveilled, and everything is potentially hacked by someone,” Mahaffey said. "But the alternative way is a world where you as an individual can control this data. And that's a pretty exciting world, a world where you can have the benefit of the technology, but not some Orwellian dystopia, where even in your own home you aren’t safe from the Internet-connected pen."


And before we leave Mr. Orwell for the week, here's a good example of why NSA spying on us all is hazardous to the nation's health:

When asked by journalist Katie Couric to describe any "requests" he's had from the NSA, Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter, waffled, stuttered and basically refused to answer (the video is contained in the link above; Couric's questioning begins around the 4:30 mark).

Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic comments:

The CEO of a leading American company isn't legally permitted to say if he's been approached with government requests for information on Americans that he regards as abusive... He is left to squirm under questioning, because to tell the truth would imperil his freedom.
That kind of legally mandated secrecy is dangerous, and ought to have no place in the American system, which has always flourished in part because power isn't concentrated exclusively in government. Besides the checks and balances built into the Madisonian framework, the press, the business community, churches, and various associations of citizens all have [had] the power to speak out when they believe that the government is abusing its coercive power.

We now move to a Republican Party desperate to make itself relevant to an electorate that increasingly regards it as a museum exhibit:

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The GOP's brilliant strategy to maintain their relevance in 2016? Attack Hillary Clinton's age.  After alienating most women and nearly all racial minorities, it seems only fitting that the GOP would seek to mock yet another huge voting demographic, Seniors, and in particular, Senior women:

The 2016 election may be far off, but one theme is becoming clear: Republican strategists and presidential hopefuls, in ways subtle and overt, are eager to focus a spotlight on Mrs. Clinton’s age. The former secretary of state will be 69 by the next presidential election, a generation removed from most of the possible Republican candidates.

Despite her enduring popularity, a formidable fund-raising network and near unanimous support from her party, Mrs. Clinton, Republican leaders believe, is vulnerable to appearing a has-been.

Alarmed over President Obama’s success with younger voters in the last two White House campaigns, Republican officials are bickering over how to appeal to them, with some advocating moderation on social issues like same-sex marriage and others focusing on improving tactics and the use of technology. But there is an emerging consensus that the party stands a better chance by contrasting a younger nominee with Mrs. Clinton, a Goldwater girl turned Watergate investigator.
Aside from the obvious irony coming from the Party that idolizes Ronald Reagan (age 69 when elected), the strategy of painting someone who could be the first female President in the country's history as "out of touch" seems risky if not ridiculous.

But by all means, GOP, please proceed.

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(More on the GOP's Hillary ageism from New York Magazine here).


Finally, corporations continue to find clever ways to screw over American workers:

A growing number of American workers are confronting a frustrating predicament on payday: to get their wages, they must first pay a fee.

For these largely hourly workers, paper paychecks and even direct deposit have been replaced by prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards, which work like debit cards, at an A.T.M. to withdraw their pay.

But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards

Devonte Yates, 21, who earns $7.25 an hour working a drive-through station at a McDonald’s in Milwaukee, says he spends $40 to $50 a month on fees associated with his JPMorgan Chase payroll card.

“It’s pretty bad,” he said. “There’s a fee for literally everything you do.”

Many employees say they have no choice but to use the cards: some companies no longer offer common payroll options like ordinary checks or direct deposit.

Some of the biggest offenders are Taco Bell, Walgreen's, Walmart and McDonald's.  The article notes that in many companies, employees are "opted in" to this method of payment and must fill out voluminous paperwork in order to "opt out."

Ronald mcDonald photo: Ronald McDonald Ronald_McDonald_Comes_Out.jpg

This is the Monday Morning Open Thread.

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