Mr. Obama, a Modest Suggestion

Dear Mr. President,

I am listening to your present speech. You stated that Sony as a private company can decide what is best for it, but you wish that they had contacted you first. You also stated you would have advised them not to bow to such blackmail and think of the future impacts of such blackmail, and that you would be in favor of releasing the movie so as to thwart the goal of the hackers to censor freedom of expression in the USA.

I have a suggestion. Since this is an act of war (cyber style) on a US Company, and since the USA has many powers in such circumstances, including the taking of private property: Declare that this is a national security issue. Under Eminent Domain, take the movie (and compensate Sony for the reasonably expected revenues from showing it), and then place it in the public domain.

In this way the effort to intimidate and sensor a US company is thwarted, yet Sony need not take the fall for it. It also shifts any attempted ‘reprisals’ from Sony to the U.S. Government and our military; who, when faced with acts of war, are empowered to counter attack…

All in all, I think that would be a win for the USA, a win for US Freedoms, a win for you as a champion of those freedoms, and a win for Sony who gets let off the hook. The people of the world get to see the film (even if on youtube, where the revenues from ads ought to repay the cost to seize it). The only losers are the N. Koreans and their hackers.

Think about it…



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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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12 Responses to Mr. Obama, a Modest Suggestion

  1. punmaster52 says:

    A win for the USA: don’t care.
    A win for US Freedoms: don’t care.
    A win for Sony: don’t care
    A win for me: Excellent
    As champion of those freedoms: don’t care

    Thank you for your suggestion. We here at the White House are always happy to hear from the American people.

  2. M Simon says:

    So the US Government should pay for bad security at Sony? I see a moral hazard there.

  3. Sandy McClintock says:

    Great suggestion ;)
    By releasing the movie in the public domain it produces much more adverse publicity for Mr Kim than would have been the case if there had been no cyber attack

  4. philjourdan says:

    OUTSTANDING! I wish I had thought of that (public domain). It is one time I would actually VOTE for a purpose for my taxes.

    But Obama again shows his 2 faces. He did not defend Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, so we are left to wonder why he is such a racist. Clearly you have a nice pasty white company (Sony, albeit owned by the Japanese) that he cries about their cowardly behavior. But let an Arab ( as well as a Christian in this case) make a movie that does NOTHING, and Obama has him locked up!

    Your suggestion is a great poke in Un’s eye. Obama is flailing him with a wet noodle.

  5. Jason Calley says:

    If, in fact, North Korea, did the hacking, you make an excellent suggestion. I am not convinced that they are guilty. Let me stress my conviction that the people running North Korea are evil. Sadly, they are not the only evil people running natioal governments. I think it is at least as likely that the hacking was done by US three letter agencies as that it was done by NK. Why? The government is very poorly regarded right now. Nothing makes a government popular so quickly as a new and reviled enemy to hate.

  6. The problem here is not “North Koreans” who would welcome the opportunity to work with the USA for mutual benefit.

    The problem is a maniac called Kim Jong-Un. Any sanctions imposed should harm the maniac without affecting anyone else. Ronald Reagan showed his displeasure with Ghaddafi by making a spirited attempt to kill him. Probably that kind of action is not appropriate in the face of what is a minor provocation…………..a provocation that would have absolutely no effect but for the cowardice of movie theaters in particular and Hollywood in general.

    The best response is to show our contempt for pipsqueak dictators by launching the movie. If Kim Jong-Un considers that an “Act of War” the next move is up to him. Most likely he will fold like a cheap suit………….just as Hitler would have if his invasion of the Rhineland had been opposed.

    WAKE UP AMERICA! How could you forget 9/11? Freedom is not free.

  7. @JasonCalley,
    “Let me stress my conviction that the people running North Korea are evil. Sadly, they are not the only evil people running national governments.”

    That is an amazingly profound statement (I corrected your typo). How many governments are/were in the hands of good people? I can’t think of very many and most of them happened long ago. John Acton summed up the problem:
    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

    Sadly, all forms of government, including ours tend towards Oligarchy.

    We are already suffering from oligarchies that are metastacising into political dynasties such as the Bushes, the Clintons etc. Today voters are wasting their time…….it does not matter which dynasty is elected……….policies will continue to favor elites while the great unwashed suffer the consequences regardlee of which party is elected. There is nothing mysterious about this. It is not a huge conspiracy run by the Bilderbergers or the Illuminati.

    Everything in American politics today can be explained in simple terms. The people who are in power are running things to favor their own interests. Outsiders (e.g. Ross Perot or Herman Cain) have no chance of gaining significant political power so things so real change is highly unlikely. That ensures that our future is moral decay, cultural suicide and economic collapse.

    Fortunately, in the grand scheme of things it won’t matter. Nations decay as Oliver Goldsmith noted:

    When great nations such as ours decay there is always another that will “Step Up” and do something remarkable.

  8. Ooops…..too much Glenfiddich can cause typos.
    Worst of all I left out the Oliver Goldsmith link. So here it is:

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    Try Aberfeldey

    Just had some of the 12 year (shown a bit down the page in the link). Nice, smooth, …

    I’ll need to look more into that oligarch ‘law’. Seems to fit history.


    Nice ;-)


    While it looks clear that only the N. Koreans have a reason, the Chinese are darned good at arranging “let’s you and him fight” moments, and misdirection of actions is pretty much standard procedure in spook circles. Worth exploring. But I’d not mind the U.S. poking at Un anyway ;-)

  10. p.g.sharrow says:

    It looks to me to be the work of a North Korean team in a Chinese hacker boiler room operation. A pay back to CIA/NSA attacks on Iran and China. Same kind of destructive intrusions, not just stealing of information.You no longer need explosives to conduct international war. Those of us in the street will need our “bomb shelters” of cyber protection. pg

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    One, simple and quick, behaviour is just to put your data on removable media. I use a variety of USB drives (large data sets, deep archives, bulk stuff and backups), USB sticks (fast available copies, bootable systems, misc. bits), and SD Cards (lots of photos, some bootable systems especially R.Pi, some archives of special purpose things, backup copies of links / bookmarks, etc.)

    IF you are ever hacked and / or data corrupted or deleted, it is mostly just your boot system / OS and any very recent data, not the whole works.

    (The one exception to this is email, where, thanks to Government mandates, keeping copies around is as much risk as benefit. There I left everything on the providers system… something that cost me ‘recently’ when the service provider essentially tossed out my account for a while, then didn’t put the data back when the account awakened again. I’d work to get it restored, but for that point about governments wanting copies to hurt you with… so it is something of a feature to have the mail history gone, though I hate it…)

    At any rate, using a “defense in depth” backup copies offline process, you can minimize any intrusion damage.

    I also often use a dedicated “browser box” with nothing much on it but some saved links, and some downloaded climate stuff (pdfs of papers and data copies – though even there I put them on a removable USB stick…) So any “hack” of the box would get a bunch of publicly available data and pdfs… but maybe they would learn something from the process ;-)

    This doesn’t require more hardware. Simply using a bootable USB / CD / DVD with Linux on it and you are “good to go”. I also isolate the phone from the pad… So my tablet computer can browse and save data (to a removable mico-SC card…) but has NO built in telco service. I can tether it off of a phone, or via a public WiFi was desired. But when NOT deliberately so connected, it is isolated from network connections, so is safe from probe / attack.

    Yes, you give up the convenience of “one box to bind them all” together, and you get to “connect and disconnect” things a lot; but the reward is that most all the time well over 95% of every bit of data I have is “air gap secure” and even when connected, it is to the “box du jour” that can’t be predicted and is often a “fresh install” or “new SD flash” of an OS, so any “buggering” has to start all over again from scratch to a new IP and a new profile of machine.

    “Rotate the shields!”… plus air gap is a potent combination all by itself.

    So take my ChromeBox. Had it a few months now. I’m comfortable with it. Right now it has a USB dongle in it with the collected PDFs I’ve downloaded to date, some temperature data, and an extract of bookmarks from a prior browser / system. That’s about it. Nothing on the box of interest to others, really. Yet somewhere in the next couple of months I’ll be loading up a linux (or 2 or 3 or…) onto that box. Add some VMs under linux. At that point there will be about a half dozen different “computer” profiles that have a half dozen different browsers and half dozen different file systems (mostly full of ‘stock’ release stuff) that any potential exploiter would need to profile and / or hack. Even then, each one has little of interest and is sinking their time and effort. Just to be replaced / overwritten in another month or three…

    Now, if, someday 6 months from now, I were to connect the USB stick with my photo archive or with the spreadsheet of my budget or with the word doc of my “Great Novel”, any attacker has to try to figure out where, to what system, with what protections, with what system update / replace just before use, etc. before they can get to the goods. Oh, and most of the time that connection of the data to the system will happen when the internet connection is shut off anyway… (Why have an internet connect up for looking at a spreadsheet?…) Often shut off both at the box (software, or just pulling the plug or taking the WiFi dongle out…) and at the router (power down, or pull the plug, or… I also often run two levels of network in the house so I can leave up the basic internet / media connection stuff and just pull the plug to my office / lab space…)

    Now somebody wants to get past all THAT, at just the right time to get to my stuff, they get to deal with the rest of security… but by that time it’s likely a TLA level of skill needed anyway.

    Maybe sometime or other I’ll write up this process more cleanly…

  12. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; thanks for the update. My grandson just sent me home with a Pi-B that he set up. I will have to see what he put in it. One more thing to wrap my mind around.
    The only WiFi I have around here is off of our 4 routers as things are spread out around our satellite dish. Not much worth hacking or stealing in my system for the effort of breaking in. But at my Lady’s business in the middle of town is a whole different thing. She and others that use that system are a prime example of “John Q Public” They should be a good test bed for any attempt to create a secure system. I bought 2 clean WinDoz7 units for them last spring, networked them behind a locked router, and they managed to garbage them up in a few months. Modern Internet stuff is such fun to use but is a damn sharp 2 edge sword to use! Hackers dull its’ effectiveness quickly. Then the users complain that their computer is worn out or is flaky. IT IS a FEATURE! of the operating system! I Need to make things Idiot Proof. ;-(
    I guess we will not get bored from lack of things to do. ;-) pg

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