National Security And Kindergarten

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is looking for potential future additions to the United States’ massive security/surveillance apparatus; her agency has begun to target kindergarten-aged children with cybersecurity training.

In a recent blog post on the Department of Homeland Security website, Napolitano writes of the importance of recognizing the next generation of government cybersecurity experts:

At DHS, we’re working to develop the next generation of leaders in cybersecurity while fostering an environment for talented staff to grow in this field.  We are building strong cybersecurity career paths within the Department, and in partnership with other government agencies.  We are also creating training and development opportunities to retain our most talented employees and ensure their professional development.  In collaboration with the National Security Agency, we are strengthening the nation’s educational infrastructure by supporting Centers of Academic Excellence across the country.

In addition, we are extending the scope of cyber education beyond the federal workplace through the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, involving students from kindergarten through post-graduate school. And we sponsor the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a program that works with academia and the private sector to identify and develop the best and brightest cyber talent to meet our nation’s growing and changing security needs.

The DHS has been working desperately in recent years to identify young cybersecurity talent to work in what officials say will play a key role in keeping Americans safe.

Obama Wants ‘Secretary Of Business’

President Barack Obama, seeking to embolden his weak record on American business, said that he would appoint a “secretary of Business” if he is elected to a second term in the White House.

The President said in a recent interview that he would consolidate a number of government business agencies to create a “one-stop shop” for business oversight.

“I’ve said that I want to consolidate a whole bunch of government agencies. We should have one secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to SBA [the Small Business Administration] or helping companies with exports,” he said in an interview with MSNBC.

Under a proposal that Obama put forth in January, six government commerce and trade agencies — including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Export-Import Bank — would be combined under one Federal agency. He also suggested the SBA should have a seat in the Presidential cabinet.

Congress was not enthusiastic about the President’s proposal, and the initiative failed to gain the support needed to move forward.

Despite Obama’s attempts to appeal to America’s business community, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is continuing with a message that paints the President as a decidedly anti-business candidate.

Political Opportunism And Sandy

As Hurricane Sandy threatened much of the United States’ Eastern seaboard, political pundits took the opportunity to shout back and forth about which Presidential candidate would cut the most funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Huffington Post dug up a Mitt Romney quote from during the Republican primary. The candidate was discussing the possibility of doing away with FEMA and making emergency management the responsibility of the States.

“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?” Romney said of the agency.

Headlines from various other news organizations ran with the theme touting things like Salon’s “Mitt’s Frankenstorm economics.” That article claimed that Romney has a vision of an America where free enterprise takes advantage of people in helpless situations as a result of privatization.

Conservative publication Breitbart swung back at the Barack Obama apologist media by pointing out that the President’s proposal for the upcoming budget sequester also calls for cuts to FEMA.

The source reports:

Obama’s proposed cuts to FEMA include the following (emphasis added):

  • Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program – $8 million
  • State and Local Emergency Programs (non-defense) – $183 million
  • State and Local Emergency Programs (defense) – $5 million
  • United States Fire Administration and Training – $4 million
  • Salaries and Expenses (non-defense) – $75 million
  • Salaries and Expenses (defense) – $7 million
  • Disaster Relief – $580 million
  • Emergency Food and Shelter – $10 million
  • Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program – $3 million
  • National Pre-disaster Mitigation Fund – $3 million

Supreme Court Hears Wiretapping Arguments

Today, the Supreme Court will consider a matter (Amnesty International v. Clapper) that could take away the National Security Agency’s ability to eavesdrop on Americans’ email and cellular communications without first obtaining a warrant.

Following the events that took place on 9/11, President George W. Bush ordered amendments (FISA Amendment Act) to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — which was originally implemented in 1970 — that allowed the government to monitor the U.S. citizens corresponding with people outside of the country.

Last month, when the U.S. House voted to reauthorize the amendments, civil liberties activists issued harsh criticism of the move.

A legal briefing filed by the American Civil Liberties Union stated: Under the FAA, the government can target anyone — human rights researchers, academics, attorneys, political activists, journalists — simply because they are foreigners outside the United States, and in the course of its surveillance it can collect Americans’ communications with those individuals.

Aside from gripes over the potential 4th Amendment violations, civil liberties activists call the Justice Department’s justification for disallowing challenges to the FISA Amendments bunk. Justice contends that Americans cannot challenge the government’s eavesdropping because they likely do not know whether they have been targeted.

“This law clearly intrudes on constitutionally protected privacy and free speech rights, and the courts have not just the authority but the obligation to intervene,” said ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer, who will appear before the justices. “The Court of Appeals rightly held that our clients have the right to challenge the law, because the substantial risk that their communications will be monitored under it has compelled them to take costly measures to protect information that is sensitive. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree with the Court of Appeals that the constitutionality of the government’s surveillance powers can and should be tested in court.”

Any time information about those targeted for surveillance under FAA has come up, Federal officials have simply stated that national security prohibits them from releasing the information. Furthermore, the government has tried to block courts from determining the Constitutionality of its actions by using its own refusal to provide information as the bulwark to prevent court hearings.

Bill Binney worked at the NSA from 1965 to 2001, and J. Kirk Wiebe worked at the NSA from 1975 to 2001. Last week, the two penned a whistle-blowing column in POLITICO outlining why the NSA has too much power to spy on U.S. citizens:

The NSA cannot be trusted with this power. No agency should be. Since 2001, the NSA has been willing time and again to throw the Constitution overboard and snoop on innocent Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. Using shockingly fast machines called NARUS devices, the NSA can monitor virtually every single phone call, email and text that passes through the United States. The agency can make a mirror image of all those communications, then funnel those copies to massive data vaults. When it wants to, the NSA can then go through and compile a dossier on each and every one of us. That would be well and good if the agency followed the law and tracked only suspected terrorists. But it does not. Under the warrantless wiretapping program and now the FISA Amendments Act, the NSA conducts blanket, dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications, even when there is not even a hint that we’ve done something wrong.

America’s Mighty Drones

The United Nations has its sights set on American drone policy in the Mideast after long condemning the use of drone strikes in areas where civilian casualties often result. Early next year, a U.N. investigative team is set to conduct a thorough investigation of civilian casualties resulting from the strikes.

In a speech last week at Harvard Law School, U.N. special rapporteur Ben Emmerson, who monitors counterterrorism efforts, said that the organization could explore the possibility that the drone strikes are war crimes.

Emmerson said:

[It is] alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. [U.N. consultant, professor of human rights] Christof Heyns … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view.

Also last week, The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials are developing an expanded drone kill list that is “designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the ‘disposition’ of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.”

“The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower,” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and Obama counterterrorism adviser, told The Post. “You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”

The CIA recently also submitted a proposal asking Congress to provide it with more drones for use in the Mideast. The unmanned aerial vehicles are tools that both President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney agree should continue to be used in the same manner which they are now.

CEOs To Pressure Congress On Fiscal Cliff

A group of leading American CEOs has joined together in initiating a campaign to encourage Washington lawmakers to come to an agreement about what should be done to avoid the impending fiscal cliff.

According to The Hill, chief executives from dozens of the Nation’s biggest corporations have joined to coax an agreement to break the fiscal stalemate that has kept the 112th Congress from making progress with regard to the ever-expanding National debt.

“What we’re trying to do is drive support for the radical middle, the 70 percent of us … that really want to do the right thing down the middle and recognize that the only way you can govern is through compromise,” said David Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell.

The executives say they want a deal from Congress that would reform entitlement spending programs to cut the deficit and overhaul the tax code to create more revenue. This would strike balance between Democratic and Republican plans that Congress continues to argue over.

With $40 million in private donations for its cause, the group plans to embark on an aggressive advertising campaign after the elections to pressure Congress. Chief executives joining the cause include the heads of Aetna, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, General Electric and Boeing.

The CEOs were organized by the nonpartisan group Fix the Debt.

Massive Storm Possible On East Coast

Preppers in the Northeast should prepare for some harrowing weather next week as what is being dubbed as a “perfect storm” is predicted by forecasters and could affect people from North Carolina to Nova Scotia.

“It is likely that significant impacts will be felt over portions of the U.S. East Coast through the weekend and into early next week,” the National Hurricane Center said.

On Thursday, Hurricane Sandy battered Cuba before taking a turn that could lead it right up the East Coast. The hurricane could track north just in time not only to cause heavy rains but also to meet a cold weather front, which would make for a potential Hurricane/winter weather hybrid event that could cause up to $1 billion in damage, forecasters say.

Some meteorologists are predicting a mix of steady gale-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and possible snow starting Sunday and continuing past Halloween on Wednesday for people in the eastern part of the United States.

“It’s going to be a high-impact event,” said Bob Oravec, a lead forecaster with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hydro-Meteorological Prediction Center in College Park, Md.

“It has the potential to be a very significant storm with respect to coastal flooding, depending on exactly where it comes in. Power outages are definitely a big threat,” he said.

Officials say that if the storm makes landfall as expected on the Northeastern coast, it has the potential to grow into a storm that will “go down in history books.”

A Third Party Vote Is A Vote For America

On Monday, Americans watched a supposedly liberal candidate for President and a supposedly conservative candidate for President agree on the importance of massive military spending.

Those who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 with the hopes of less American meddling in the Mideast heard him talking about why he has used drone attacks galore in the region, even killing an American citizen in the role of judge, jury and executioner. They heard why we must remain in the Mideast and why America must shun cuts to military spending.

Mitt Romney agreed with Obama on his points and upped the ante, suggesting that not only should cuts be shunned but also that military spending increases should be championed. And conservative voters watched yet another Romney forward-march toward centrist candidate, effectively Etch A Sketch-ing much of the “true conservative” Republican persona that many voters on the right so badly wanted to battle Obama in the coming election.

Oh yeah, and they talked about Israel. And Israel. And Israel. And Israel. It became apparent that the third and final Presidential “foreign policy” debate focused largely on domestic policy. When the candidates did focus on the intended topic, the differences in position were non-apparent.

So the choice — the “direction for America’s future” choice — is clear, and the next four years are going to be a continuation of the past 12: a back-and-forth over taxes at home that never reaches a clear and concrete conclusion to the benefit of anyone; a continued assault on Constitutional civil liberties; a continued boon to the American and International banking cartels; and, without a doubt, a continued effort to line the pockets of America’s ever-expanding military industrial complex, which will take the lives of more American volunteers abroad and continue to double down its domestic expansion.

Often, it seems that these political writings are constantly dismal in tone. But there is no other option, for the readers will continue to lie to themselves until they are no longer allowed a political opinion. But, for all of those who continue to lambaste anyone who suggests that neither Obama nor Romney is the man for the job, here are some points with which you may agree at least slightly.

  • America is financially doomed due to a little more than half a century of government ineptitude.
  • The only way to reverse the coming economic calamity is to implement drastic change and completely alter the way citizens of the Nation view their place in the world and their responsibility at home.
  • This was not a Nation built on the idea that a ruling class has the authority to manipulate a peasant class.
  • The government no longer works for you.
  • Debt cannot be lessened by increasing spending, whether it is on corporate welfare, domestic entitlements or the military.
  • A government with the ability to print money ad infinitum has no reason to tax its citizens’ income.
  • The National Defense Authorization Act, domestic surveillance dragnets set up to catch anyone critical of government, parliamentary police forces and threats to free speech, personal property and the right to personal defense must all be eliminated.

Neither Obama nor Romney agrees with any of these things. They both incorrectly believe that governments can effectively create jobs. They both believe that safety always trumps liberty. They believe in and belong to the ruling class and are surrounded by members of the military-industrial and banking cartels that flourish only when Average Joe flounders. They both believe that increasing government spending in one way or another will help to reduce the government’s debt.

So, say again that a vote for anyone but Romney is a vote for Obama; it doesn’t matter because a vote for Romney is a vote for Obama. A vote for either man is a vote for moving again further from the principles upon which this Nation was founded.

A third party vote may indeed be a fool’s errand, because a vast majority of the population of this Nation is informed only by corporate-controlled (and, thereby, government-controlled) mainstream media that have gone to great lengths to black out any message but that of the two (one) party status quo.

On Tuesday, another debate was broadcast. It wasn’t carried by FOX, MSNBC, CNN or any other major television news networks. It was, however, shown on Russian semi-state-run network RT, as well as C-Span and a handful of online news channels.

The event, sponsored by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, included the Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson, the Constitution Party’s Virgil Goode and the Green Party’s Jill Stein (none of whom you’ve probably heard of) along with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. The debate was refreshing; and, while the candidates agreed on many of the issues of the zeitgeist, they certainly offered a clear collective rebuttal to the ideas of Romney and Obama.

Because most readers probably don’t know much of anything about the aforementioned third party candidates, this column will not pick apart the debate but will rather challenge readers to wake up from the Romney/Obama coma and watch the event below. There are no funny moments or personal attacks, but it looks a lot like what one may expect the Nation’s Founders had hoped for modern political discourse.

*The debate begins at 1:02:55.*


 

Johnson took the night. Though the Libertarian is on the ballots in 48 States, enough to secure an Electoral College victory, it is evident that he won’t win in the Presidential election. America is too lazy to digest anything but FOX/MSNBC mind mush and demand a clear alternative to Thing 1 or Thing 2.

Bernanke May Step Down From Fed

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will likely resign from his position in January 2014, regardless of whether President Barack Obama is re-elected.

Though Bernanke has declined to comment publicly about the possibility of giving up the position he has held since the George W. Bush Presidency, it is reported that sources close to him say he will likely step down.

“I am very focused on my work, I don’t have any decision or any information to give you on my personal plans,” he said at a news conference last month.

Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has already vowed to replace the Fed chairman if he is elected, most likely with Glenn Hubbard, former Bush Administration head of the Council of Economic Advisers and current economic adviser to the candidate’s campaign.

If Obama is re-elected, a possible replacement for the Fed chairman could be Lawrence Summers, who served as Treasury Secretary from 1999 to 2001 and Director of the White House United States National Economic Council until November 2010.

Whoever replaces the current Fed chair, Bernanke’s Keynesian legacy will likely impact American economics for decades to come. The Fed in recent years has given banks about $16 trillion in undisclosed funds, including $3 trillion to foreign banks. It also announced with its most recent round of quantitative easing that inflationary fiat money printing could continue indefinitely.

Sacred Cow Defense Will Kill America

President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney both agree that the United States is in the midst of a historically unsustainable debt spiral; they also both agree that military spending is a sacred cow that can be cut under no circumstance.

Obama has used drones in an unprecedented way that has resulted in the loss of life of not only enemy combatants in war zones, but also civilian casualties in countries like Pakistan where the United States is not at war. And Romney — who, if elected, will take control of the same remote-operated fleet of death machines — applauds the current President’s drone strategy, which has come under fire from many within the human rights community and drawn protest from the citizens and leadership of countries abroad.

“I support that entirely and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology and believe that we should continue to use it to continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation and to our friends,” Romney said when asked about drone policy at the Presidential debate Monday.

Romney also proffered the same 2014 Afghanistan troop withdrawal date that Obama has been touting, despite having criticizing the President in the past for “offering the enemy a timeline.”

The two candidates spent a long time during the debate Monday driving home one point: America is in dire financial trouble, but cannot make defense spending cuts.

Unmentioned, however, was the fact that the budget cuts that the two candidates are so worried about do not actually cut defense spending at all. The focus of the contention is on “sequestration” cuts — automatic spending cuts put into place last year when government again raised the debt ceiling.

The first round of “cuts” has already taken place under sequestration, shaving $487 billion from Pentagon spending over the next decade as defense spending continues to grow at the rate of inflation.

Romney wants to reinstate that money. And Obama said Monday that he, too, would reverse sequestration cuts.

If government doesn’t act by January, an additional $600 billion in defense spending will go into action. But even under complete sequestration, defense spending will continue to rise by about 16 percent.