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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An Op Ed: About That Hack

About That Hack
by Philip Smith
webmaster, Conservatives Of The Upstate

As many of you are aware, the Governor of South Carolina, along with South Carolina Law Enforcement [SLED], has announced that over the last month a "cyber attack" was made by "a foreign source" on the State's income tax database. The security breach has resulted in more than three and a half million Social Security and portions of credit and debit card numbers being exposed to potential identity theft.

First, know that a lot of media is hyping this up to scare you.

The Governor's Office seems to be hyping this up for reasons of ignorance of the issue.

I won't accuse Governor Haley of manufacturing a re-election crisis to show the public that she can handle it. Nor will I accuse her of potentially favoring a business in the remedy of the situation that may have helped her in election bid.

I'm a supporter of our Governor and I voted for her, but something about only getting service from one (and only one) particular source of identity protection is fishy to me. There are hundreds of companies who may be more efficient, cheaper, or more comprehensive in their protection.

I have a source that is a good friend and is VERY close to the situation. They tell me that the situation may be getting blown out of proportion. 

Here's why …

Apparently, those affected by the breach will receive a mailed letter by tomorrow (Wednesday October 31, 2012) if their information was compromised.

I'm told, by a trusted source, that if you do not get refunds and or did not pay your taxes by credit card - most likely you were not affected.

The breaches include information dating back to 1998. To note about stolen numbers - all credit card numbers expire after 4 years and the average lifespan of a checking account is 5 years - so older info is less risky … still an issue, but less of one.

In April of 2011, more than 25 million credit card numbers were stolen from Sony in connection to their Playstation Online Gaming network. Sony offered a similar 1 year of credit/identity protection free of charge to customers that wanted to take advantage of it. A similar situation has occurred at CitiBank and Bank Of America.

Not a single case of theft has been reported in the media in connection with these breaches ~ which each was on a scale of nearly 900% larger!

What needs to happen?

I think an investigation of the practices of these "Credit/Identity Protection" companies needs to take place at the Federal level in this country. It is my supposition that the results of the investigation may be similar to computer viruses being created by the virus protection software companies from a few years back.

A lot of concern has arisen from the fact that the governor has authorized the use of a certain credit and identity protection service free of charge for one year. What about after the year? I believe, if you can determine that your information was not compromised in another database, you have the law and reason on your side.

Something else to take into account. In order to use the information, "the hackers" will have to have more than just the numbers they got. They'll need security codes, addresses, phone numbers, maiden names, and possibly more.

I fielded concerns on facebook about "the hackers" being able to use the information to fill in other important data.

This is a concern, but I would reiterate the results of the Sony breach.

I'd also say that, in some cases, not all … a hacker does such a thing as a test for larger scale breaches - maybe as a test run. A hacker also usually does hacks for fun (to them) or personal satisfaction.

Here's a private message I received from a facebook friend:
"Stunt or not, I take my credit info very seriously and the fact that the information stored on state computers is not encrypted concerns me.

If the state is offering to pay for one year of monitoring out of taxpayer funds, that also concerns me. Even at $7-10 per acct, even if only a small number take advantage, is still a huge expense. It would have cost less to encrypt the data.
Still, I'll take them up on their offer. The activation code is "scdor123" and it's a generic code.

I'm most concerned about protecting my child. Seems savvy hackers are targeting teens because they can get away with the id theft for a few years before they ever apply for credit and by that time it's already too late."
What can you do?

If you receive the letter, OR as a general precaution …

• You can go this week to the bank and get a new account number and a new debit card - usually free of charge.

Yes this will be an inconvenience. But, IF anything results from this data breach, imagine the inconvenience of fixing the problem. This is a simple step you can take. Remember to adjust your accounts if you pay bills online. If you can't do this, get help from a savvy younger adult that you trust.

• You can add extra safeguards to your accounts …

Example: With my AT&T account I'm able to add a "parental passcode" that is not my social security number.

• DO NOT BE TAKEN IN BY FREE CREDIT REPORT WEBSITES. You are entitled to a free credit report from each reporting agency every three years.

To obtain yours … visit this government sponsored website ... 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Place Where He Said The Thing About ...

Many of you have asked where Obama said this or that …

Here's a video for you to share that gives exact speeches where Obama said things such as …

[Speaking of G.W. Bush] "It's unpatriotic to have so much debt!"

 [On the campaign trail] "I will reduce our budget deficit in 1/2 in my first term."

 Link to Youtube video:

Misconceptions ...

By Philip Smith

#1 ... The stock market is doing better than it was 4 years ago.

Actually, it's stagnant. The Dow Jones replaced a number of stocks in its average and they are outperforming the previous stocks tracked within the average.

Example: if Apple Computer had joined the Dow Jones as proposed ... The Dow would be at 19,000+

Apple (and a few other tech stocks) that have risen several 100 points each are artificially pumping up the NASDAQ average.

#2 ... Unemployment has reduced in the last few months.

Actually the people that have been unemployed so long are no longer being counted.

Some part time wage earners are also counted in new estimates and were not before.

Facts are facts. The number of people on government assistance has doubled in the last 4 years. This alone is an artificial stimulus ... People on government assistance get upwards of $500 a month for just groceries! That's what my family spends in two months <-- and we eat VERY well and pretty much whatever we want!

#3 ... Home building is up.

Actually, natural disasters and property destruction are up. People are taking advantage of low interest rates right NOW to rebuild.

Low interest rates are killing people (Seniors) that depend on investment income.

#4 ... Car sales are up.

Actually car sales ARE up. Many people are being forced into downsizing to more fuel efficient cars. While this is mostly a good thing ... car sales will plummet after a "renewed American fleet". Truck manufacturing facilities are laying off workers.

#5 … Renewable energy is the key to solving our problems.

I've researched this ad naseum just to see if I could personally benefit from solar or or wind and the available technology just isn't there. If you buy solar/wind/renewable tech right now you are merely supporting an industry or a cause - not really saving money or making an investment that will provide a return.

Solyndra (solar panels) got $525 million from the federal govt and is bankrupt and liquidated.

A123 (electric car batteries) just filed for bankruptcy last week. They got $235 million.

Many many companies are dropping usage of solar and wind because it just isn't as efficient as planned (or portrayed) and doesn't generate profit (Seimens announcement).

The investments in failed renewables in this country by this current President amount to more than $1.4 BILLION.

Don't you think every state in the union would have been better off with a check for $20 Million instead?

#6 … We need to tax the top 3% more.

If we taxed them 100% of their income we'd STILL have a budget deficit.

That's a fact! 

It may seem like a lot of money but the number 1 TRILLION is an unimaginable number.

At one number per second (and that gets difficult after 100,000) it would take you roughly 31709 years to count to 1 trillion!

Let that soak in.

Research any or all of this. Be informed. Don't just vote over one issue. Don't just vote selfishly over one or two issues that ultimately don't move this country forward.

Please don't be complacent this election.

EVERY OFFICE - even the Sheriff has importance to these issues mentioned above.

Philip Smith

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Skelton No Show Provides Opportunity For Harris At Candidate Forum

With nearly 75 in attendance, State House District 3 Candidate, Ed Harris answered questions at a forum Thursday night while his opponent was represented by a photo in a chair.

Current District 3 State Representative B.R. Skelton, who is seeking re-election in House District 3, had told organizers just prior to the event he would not show. Harris won the Republican Primary held in June, but was challenged by Skelton before the SC State GOP Executive Committee. Harris' win was overturned due to a question about his filing of a statement of economic interests - both paper and electronic as required by new law designed by incumbents. Harris qualified as a petition candidate by a healthy margin above the required threshold to appear on the ballot by name.

Ed Harris will appear on the November 6, 2012 ballot along with Skelton's.

Harris, a conservative Republican, says he is running to give the people a clear choice.

Many of the questions at the forum that were directed at Harris involved education.

Harris stated that he is against unfunded mandates from Washington and supports good pay for teachers. Harris cited that Pickens County has a good school and that decisions on education should remain local.

Harris is selling pictures of the forum including the photo of Skelton in a chair to fundraise in the last few weeks before the election.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Reminder: Pickens County Senate Debate October 23, 2012

Tuesday October 23, 2012 @ 6:30PM

Larry Martin currently represents Pickens County in the South Carolina Senate.

Rex Rice, a former SC House Representative, was a Republican candidate for the Senate seat who was knocked off the primary ballot in June, giving Martin the win by default.

Rice will be on the ballot listed as a petition candidate.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Want To Give Input On Proposed Textbooks?

Want To Give Input On Proposed Textbooks?

The public is invited to review textbooks and instructional materials that have been proposed for use in South Carolina’s public schools.

The instructional materials are on display at 25 colleges and universities throughout the state.  The materials will be on display from Monday October 15 through Friday November 23, 2012, with instructions for submitting comments available at each site.  State Board of Education members will review citizens’ comments before a final decision is made on adopting the materials.

For more information on where to view the materials, click here to head to the SC Department of Educations website.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Conservatives Of The Upstate Is Watching Out For You ...

After much research and consternation, I have finally located all the parties involved in the "Rails to Trail" of the Pickens Railroad (commonly called the Doodle Railroad).

It is obvious from reading the forms submitted to the STB (Surface Transportation Board) that the City governments of Pickens and Easley do not care about the property owners along the railroad. In fact, the home and property owners are never mentioned in the pleadings.

Studies made by the filing agencies only reference concern for the people by saying "the railroad is located in a low-density, sparsely populated, area".

Along with The Conservatives of the Upstate, the people along the railroad have …

• Met with & gotten signatures from 115 folks against the bicycle trail.

• It should be noted that another 25 couldn't make it to our signature meeting, but are against it.

• 93 out of 95 selected at random at the Pickens Flea Market, disapproved of the trail when asked face to face whether they approved or disapproved of the matter.
Internet surveys are biased. Many people vote more than once. There often is no tracking of residency or location.

• One survey, designed by proponents, simply asked …

"Would you like to have a nice bicycle trail in Pickens County?"

The survey didn't ask … "Would you like to have a bicycle trail running on an old railway inches from your backyard or house or through the middle of your property?"

A few other facts ...

• Since the Swamp Rabbit Trail has been installed, obesity levels in Greenville have climbed from 52% to 59%.

• The officers/executives/board members of Upstate Forever got the trail moved and rerouted around their residences.

• The STB report identifies an "element occurrence" of the black-spored quillwort, with no mention of concern for the adjacent property owners.

The filing with the STB includes many errors …

• Such as non-existent "existing right of ways".

• There are no right of ways for many of the properties that can be found!

• The filing states that none of the properties are important farmlands.

• The filing says, "The Doodle Line is a good candidate for a rails to trails conversion because Pickens County is a tourist destination."

Will the homeowners just have to bear the bikers talking and yelling as they pass?

How does economic activity come from bikers who notoriously don't buy anything?

There may be an endangered plant, but the people don't count?

The claim has been made …

"The towns are rural and sparsely populated." 

This just simply isn't true, just ask the 115 property owners that have come out against the trail.

Watch out property owners!

This is Agenda 21 at its best.

Don't back your neighbors and the next time it will be your property.

Junius Smith
President, Conservatives of The Upstate

Controversy Brews Over Obama Campaign Use Of American Flag

A controversy has been stirring over the last three weeks after offered a limited edition lithograph with depiction of the American Flag with the blue square and white stars removed ~ replacing them with Obama's campaign "Horizon 'O'". U.S. Flag Code - Title 4
"The American Flag should not bear any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature."
Chapter 1, Section 3 prohibits
"the use of the flag for advertising purposes." 
Of course there's always the "fair use clause" for satire or unique (but unaltered) use in events or promotion of events.

Use by the President of The United States should technically be strict.

Obama not only endorses his official campaign website but personally approved this artwork for sale.

Then, there was also this recent incident at a Democratic Headquarters office …

Monday, October 1, 2012


Reminder ... The Pickens County Election Office at The Pickens County Administration building in Pickens, SC will be open Saturday, October 6, 2012 (8AM to Noon) for the Voter Registration Deadline

Easley School Board Candidate Debate