Panetta Spreads ‘Cyber-Pearl Harbor’ Fear

The term “Cyber-Pearl Harbor” conjures up some ridiculous imagery, but the fateful military attack that led the United States full force into World War II is what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta invoked last week to make a case for passing online security bills like the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which has been widely criticized by privacy advocates.

Panetta, during a speech at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, said that America is in a “pre-9/11 moment” and should do everything in its power to secure its “national interests in cyberspace.”

Panetta said that in order to avoid a “Cyber-Pearl Harbor that would cause physical destruction and the loss of life, an attack that would paralyze and shock the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability” Congress must pass a bill that enables the Federal government to freely obtain personal online information about Americans from businesses. CISPA, which does just that, was voted down by Congress after complaints from online freedom and privacy advocates who said it violated the 1st and 4th Amendments. The Barack Obama Administration, however, has not ruled out passing the legislation via executive order.

Panetta pinpointed China, Russia and Iran as the nations most likely to launch a damaging cyberattack against the United States. Panetta said (emphasis is the author’s own):

An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches. They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.

Panetta also argued that the U.S. government needs the ability to launch offense operations against cyber-actors it deems as threats to national security.

Kid Rock To Sean Penn: ‘Suck It, Commie’

With a vulgar and bizarre public service announcement posted to YouTube last week, musician and noted right-leaner Kid Rock joined lefty actor Sean Penn to send a message to America: Don’t let politics divide us.

“Don’t let politics divide us,” the short film’s tagline reads. “Thinking differently is what made this country great.”

The video starts out with the two getting into a confrontation at a bar, as Rock’s “Born Free” performance at a Mitt Romney event is playing on the television. The two insult one another feverishly and quite vulgarly until a breaking news report plays on the television in the background telling of troop deaths in the Mideast. The grim news pulls the two political opposites together, and they embark on a political stereotype-laden journey to better understand one another’s political views.

“It reminds us that what really matters is that we’re all Americans, with diverse thoughts, opinions and stances on issues,” the video’s YouTube description reads. “We are millions of unique, individual parts, the sum of which comprise a whole that is the shining beacon of freedom throughout the world.”

The video may be of dubious political value during an election season that many Americans believe will determine the direction of the Nation in coming decades, but it serves well to point out the often ridiculous stereotypes that the politically observant on both sides often foist upon their opposition.

Watch the video below, but be warned it contains some serious vulgarity.

 

Condescending Biden, Collected Ryan And A Continuing Horse Race

Following President Barack Obama’s assertion that he lost the first Presidential debate to Republican Mitt Romney because he was too polite, it appears as though the Democratic Party told Joe Biden that he needed to carry a decidedly “no more Mister Nice Guy” attitude to the Vice Presidential debate on Thursday.

A few dozen snickers, interruptions and condescending “look here, little boy” moments directed at Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan later, and Biden succeeded at one thing during the debate: emboldening Democratic voters. Despite Biden’s lively performance, Ryan offered a portrait of someone who could calmly defend Romney’s proposals and firmly point out where the Obama Administration has failed, appealing to Republicans and undecided voters alike.

Biden, famous for his foot-in-mouth moments, likely left many people watching the event in hopes of catching one of the Vice President’s verbal missteps disappointed; the gaffe-prone politico managed to keep his comments clean. Ryan was also able to avoid any verbal missteps, and pundits appear to agree that his first nationally televised debate performance was a resounding success.

“I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground,” Ryan said to Biden at one point referencing the President’s poor debate performance last week as the reason the Vice President rudely interrupted him during the showdown.

When Biden attempted to take a cheap shot at the Republican ticket by bringing up Romney’s now infamous “47 percent” remarks, Ryan downplayed the controversy and issued a scathing rebuke of his opponent saying: “As the Vice President very well knows, the words don’t always come out of your mouth the right way.”

Though debate moderator ABC News foreign correspondent Martha Raddatz attempted to coax specificity from both candidates, they largely stuck to party line talking points throughout the night.  What did come as a surprise to many pundits watching the debate was the candidates’ heavy focus on foreign policy. The Obama Administration has attempted to avoid the topic in recent weeks in the wake of disastrous Afghan attacks on U.S. soldiers and the terrorist assault on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

“What we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making the world more chaotic and us less safe,” Ryan said, seizing the issues to reinforce a Romney assertion that Obama foreign policy is making the United States a weak world power.

Criticizing the Obama Administration on the Libya attacks, Ryan issued a handful of critiques on Obama foreign policy that Biden could do little to defend.

“It took the President two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack,” Ryan said.

“Look, if we’re hit by terrorists, we’re going to call it for what it is: a terrorist attack. Our ambassador in Paris has a Marine detachment guarding him. Shouldn’t we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place where we knew that there was an al-Qaida cell with arms?” he went on.

The Vice President’s rebuttal admitted foreign policy mistakes while making promises for the future.

“I can make absolutely two commitments to you and all the American people tonight. One, we will find and bring to justice the men who did this. And secondly, we will get to the bottom of it; and whatever – wherever the facts lead us, wherever they lead us, we will make clear to the American public, because whatever mistakes were made will not be made again,” Biden said.

In discussing a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014, Biden declared that the Obama Administration would stick to the schedule no matter what and said that the Afghans would fulfill their responsibility to providing proper security in the country until the U.S. military leaves.

“We are leaving. We are leaving in 2014. And in the process we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion,” Biden said.

Ryan was less willing to call 2014 a concrete withdrawal date, saying that it was imperative that the United States not lose gains made over the past decade in the region by leaving too hastily.

Biden attempted to capitalize on American weariness about further Mideast conflict by painting the Romney/Ryan foreign policy plan as a hawkish guarantee of more ground wars in the region in coming years. He accused the Republicans of loose talk with regard to Syria and said that Republicans would put the country’s dictator, Bashar Assad, in a position that made U.S. conflict with the nation unavoidable.

Ryan denied that there were plans to put American forces in Syria to stabilize the nation, but doubled down on tough talk about the dangers of allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapon capabilities. He said that the Obama Administration’s sanctions on the country have been too weak and put the Iranians four years closer to their goal of nuclear armament.

When pressed by Raddatz for a precise plan to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat, Ryan was largely mum. Political pundits speculate that the candidate’s silence was likely necessary to avoid an answer that would be unpopular with Americans tired of fighting in the Mideast: a military attack on Iranian nuclear sites.

When the candidates talked about the defense budget, Ryan denied the much-publicized claim that a Romney Administration would add $2 trillion to the military budget over the course of the next decade (which the Romney Budget does advocate). Ryan said, however, that Romney would simply not allow the kind of automatic military spending cuts for which the Obama Administration was prepared.

Biden rebutted that the military Joint Chiefs of Staff had no issue with the cuts and were in fact “in favor of a smaller, leaner military.”

The Vice President capitalized on criticism from economic policy wonks who say the Romney/Ryan budget proposals contain math that doesn’t exactly add up.

Ryan said that the Romney tax plan closes enough loopholes in the tax code to provide for an across-the-board tax cut for Americans. He attempted to drive home the point that the Obama/Biden plan would raise taxes on the middle class and small businesses making more than $250,000 a year.

“There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for their spending,” he said. “Watch out, middle class. The tax bill’s coming for you.”

Biden protested that the Romney plan was “not mathematically possible.” In defense, Ryan invoked John F. Kennedy’s tax plan, which accomplished some of the things that the Romney/Ryan plan would if implemented.

Ending the exchange, Biden used a debate trick and interrupted Ryan with the quip: “Oh. Now you’re Jack Kennedy.”

For what it lacked in specific answers, the Vice Presidential debate made up for in vitriol with the two men constantly at the throats of one another’s policy. Following the event, polls indicated something of a tie in the debate with preference for the candidates split mostly along party lines.

In a CNN poll following the debate, 48 percent of respondents said Ryan won; 44 percent chose Biden. A poll by CBS claimed Biden had 50 percent preference and Ryan 31 percent.

Pundits say the debate and following polling results indicate that the election is becoming more and more a Presidential horse race that will likely boil down to a photo finish.

NYPD Hints Of Possible Iran Attack

Late last month, pro-Israeli lobbyist Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy floated the idea that a Pearl Harbor-style attack on America was the best way to get U.S. citizens on board with the idea of going to war with Iran. This week, the New York Police Department said that it is concerned about an Iranian threat to the city’s heavy Jewish population.

New York City is home to the largest Jewish population in any city outside of Israel with 1.5 million Jews spread throughout the metropolis.

Speaking at an anti-terrorism conference this week, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said that tensions between Israel and Iran could have deadly implications for the Big Apple if the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah terrorist group sets its sites on the city’s Jewish population.

“We’ve been concerned about Iran for a while, and I think the history of those events throughout the world since January give us cause for concern,” Kelly said.

Early last month, reports broke of ties between the Israeli government and the NYPD when New York’s finest opened a new branch, in Israel.

Obama And Civil Liberty

President Barack Obama said earlier in the week that he wants civil liberties to be brought forth as a more important topic of debate in the few remaining weeks before the Presidential election.

“We haven’t talked about what’s at stake with respect to civil liberties,” Obama mused during a campaign speech at the Los Angeles Ritz Carlton.

Obama critics would likely agree that, despite the President’s comment, a real conversation about civil liberties under his Administration would not likely gain him any favor with civil libertarians. While Mitt Romney isn’t exactly known for his love of civil liberty and his party certainly isn’t after the Patriot Act-laden reign of George W. Bush, what Obama has done (and has failed to do) is more alarming to libertarians than anything Romney might do.

In examining Obama’s record over the past four years alongside statements he made before he took office, it almost appears as if the President does not remember anything he has done with regard to civil liberties in nearly four years.

Obama said this in December 2007:

I reject the view that the President may do whatever he deems necessary to protect national security, and that he may torture people in defiance of congressional enactments. I reject the use of signing statements to make extreme and implausible claims of presidential authority. Some further points:

The detention of American citizens, without access to counsel, fair procedure, or pursuant to judicial authorization, as enemy combatants is unconstitutional.

Warrantless surveillance of American citizens, in defiance of FISA, is unlawful and unconstitutional.

The violation of international treaties that have been ratified by the Senate, specifically the Geneva Conventions, was illegal (as the Supreme Court held) and a bad idea.

The creation of military commissions, without congressional authorization, was unlawful (as the Supreme Court held) and a bad idea.

Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, a law that allows for “the detention of American citizens, without access to counsel, fair procedure, or pursuant to judicial authorization, as enemy combatants.” Though he claims to have “had reservations” about it.

Obama’s Administration not only continued Bush-era domestic spying programs, but dramatically increased warrantless electronic surveillance.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Justice monitored 37,616 phones in 2011 and increased its tracking of email and social networking data by 361 percent under Obama.

The President also embraced the use of the very military commissions that he once abhorred.

Furthermore, the “transparent” Obama Administration has waged all-out war on whistle-blowers because the President claims that “state secrets” have been put into danger.

If the President wants a conversation about civil liberty that makes him look better than the prospect of a Romney Administration, he has a great deal of bad policy to undo before November.

Rand Paul Slams Romney Foreign Policy

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) criticized Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on foreign policy in a column Wednesday published by CNN.

Romney, who got the Senator’s endorsement to the dismay of Ron Paul supporters earlier in the campaign, has been heavily critical of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy in recent weeks and has called for increased defense spending and more Mideast intervention. But the younger Paul says he cannot support Romney in certain areas of foreign policy.

Here’s an excerpt from the column:

Romney chose to criticize President Obama for seeking to cut a bloated Defense Department and for not being bellicose enough in the Middle East, two assertions with which I cannot agree.

Defense and war spending has grown 137% since 2001. That kind of growth is not sustainable.

Adm. Michael Mullen stated earlier this year that the biggest threat to our national security is our debt.

If debt is our gravest threat, adding to the debt by expanding military spending further threatens our national security.

While I would always stand up for America and preserve our ability to defend ourselves, a less aggressive foreign policy along with an audit of the Pentagon could save tens of billions of dollars each year without sacrificing our defense. To dismiss either idea is to miss the very compromise that will enable us to balance our budget. That compromise would be for conservatives to admit that not every dollar spent on the military is sacred or well-spent and for liberals to admit that not every dollar spent on domestic entitlements and welfare is necessary.

In North Africa and the Middle East, our problem has not been a lack of intervention. In the past 10 years we have fought two full wars there, and bombed or sent troops into several others.

Racist Morons Everywhere You Look

Racism in America is alive and well, but perhaps we should call it something different.

Race has been a hot topic in America in the years since the Nation’s “first black President” was elected (not Bubba but Barack) and has received heightened attention in headlines over the past year. In electoral politics accusations of racism have been flung from both sides of the aisle. In coverage of tragedies like the shooting of the black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by the Hispanic (white if you work in media) George Zimmerman, racism has been exploited as a sensational motive. And just yesterday, the Supreme Court heard a case involving a word that should have long ago been thrown in the trash bin with “nigger,” “spic” and “kike”: affirmative action.

After President Barack Obama was elected nearly four years ago, cries of jubilation from the hope-and-change peanut gallery were idealistic in tone and hinted of a new, improved post-racial American future. In fact, a poll released by Gallup in the summer following the President’s ascent to power showed that a little more than half of the population felt optimistic that the division of the past between blacks and whites in the Nation was closer than ever to being forgotten.

The results of that particular Gallup poll offer interesting, albeit heavily anecdotal, evidence of who more strongly believes that America can remove race from the success/failure equation and replace it with merit. As in “he didn’t hire me because I am black do not have enough experience in the field for the job” or “I wasn’t accepted into the University of Texas because the school couldn’t add more white students and still meet diversity requirements didn’t feel my application was as strong as others.”

That particular poll noted that while 59 percent of whites saw the election of a “black” President as a boon to American race relations, only 50 percent of black respondents shared the same view.

Since Obama took office, it has become harder and harder to tell who the most egregious racists in America are, save the obvious examples like the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nation and The New Black Panther Party which have given unfortunate merit to the race-baiting existence of organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center for decades. The examples of outright racism that are not so easily pointed out are those that burden the person pointing them out with proving that he is not indeed a racist himself.

If you’re white, criticizing the President is ridiculously likely to get you called a racist.

And pointing out that Huffington Post dedicates an entire portion of its website to black people — that’s racist — is a surefire way to elicit a response like the one of an impassioned young Occupy Wall Street Trotskyite forever immortalized on YouTube (the video, by the way, has an impressive number of views): “Are you a white man? If you’re a white man, then shut the f**k up about race because you don’t know s**t other than how to rape and kill.”

He goes on to mutter something about white people criticizing black people for criticizing the “power structure” — it is all so very Black Panther circa 1960s, but I digress.

Along with HuffPost’s “Black Voices” section, you can visit “Latino Voices” and “Gay Voices” if you are feeling incredibly minority-tastic. In honor of Columbus Day on Monday, one of the publication’s esteemed “Black Voices” columnists (a black man) penned a wonderfully racist column about “underwhelming” white people. The list, entitled “The 15 Most Overrated White People”, includes the likes of Elvis Presley, Ronald Reagan, the entire National Hockey League (except Wayne Simmons, a black Canadian), William Shakespeare, Joel Osteen, Sarah Palin and Bill Clinton.

The list includes such fallaciously sarcastic observations as this bit about Palin: “Although her political career is likely over, Palin continues to be a powerbroker among Right wing extremists. Despite her lack of knowledge of policy or strategy, Palin is still a go-to pundit on conservative media outlets. No one destroys the myth of white supremacy more effectively than Sarah Palin.”

While some of the author’s observations are actually spot on (Palin is no policy genius, and Osteen is a bit of a shameless self-promoter), imagine the racially charged vitriol coming from a white columnist in a similarly named article “The 15 Most Overrated Black People.” In the spirit of fair play, a few names come immediately to mind: Obama, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, many others whose names are preceded by “The Reverend,” Lil Wayne, Kanye West, the Congressional Black Caucus and anyone involved in the production of one of those dreadful Tyler Perry films.

Of course, you’ll never read that column because it would be an incredibly racist and culturally misguided critique of black culture coming from a white pundit.

The simple fact that the columnist in question felt the need to write about “overrated white people” in an all-black forum on Columbus Day demonstrates perfectly the damage that affirmative action, political correctness and the perpetual myth that white people are always trying to tread upon black people are doing to the Nation. Columbus Day has become a popular time for bleeding hearts to remind everyone that bad things happened in the past and will continue to happen as a result of evil and hate. And that’s fine, but picking selective racial battles only to self-embolden black identity is no noble endeavor. Perhaps a better article would have been “The 15 Most Underrated Native Americans Killed By European Settlers.” Of course, HuffPost has yet to add a “Native American Voices” section.

There is no shortage of white racists in America, but they by no means have the monopoly on hate and closed-mindedness. And so, because racist has always been such a white-centric term and “reverse racism” is an idiotic one, perhaps it is time to find another word that could encompass both the ignorant white man in his hood and robe and the spiteful black man who blames pigment for all of his problems. Luckily, we already have one: moron.

A Cup Of Tea To Battle Terrorism

New research indicates that a powerful weapon in the fight against bioterrorism could be a simple cup of tea.

The favorite English beverage has shown in studies the ability to kill certain deadly microorganisms and deactivate toxins. According to Dr. Simon Richardson, senior lecturer in Biopharmaceutical Sciences at the British University of Greenwich’s School of Science, and his team of researchers, a principal component of black tea can neutralize ricin, a highly toxic substance that has been used in a number of attempted bioterror attacks.

Ricin is a waste byproduct of the extraction of oil from castor beans.

“One cup of char [British slang for tea] won’t cure you if you have been poisoned, but compounds extracted from tea could, with further research, provide an antidote to poisoning following a terrorist attack,” said Richardson. “I’ve been working on neutralizing ricin poisoning for about six years as a by-product of my work in drug delivery…The next stage, as well as securing more funding, is seeing if other components of tea have a greater effect.”

There is currently no treatment for ricin poisoning. A number of failed terror attempts in the United States and abroad have involved the bioterrorism chemical in recent years.

In 1978, Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian journalist and activist living in London, was famously killed by a man with an umbrella rigged to inject a poison ricin pellet under Markov’s skin.

If refined into a terrorist or warfare agent, ricin could be used to expose people through the air, food or water.

Israel Early Elections And Attack Talk

At a press conference in Tel Aviv Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for early parliamentary elections in his country.

According to some analysts, Netanyahu wants to move forward with elections while his approval rating in the country is relatively good. He hopes to avoid allowing other Israeli parties to strengthen their platforms.

Some also suggest Netanyahu is worried about possible diplomatic retaliation if President Barack Obama is re-elected following the Israeli Prime Minister’s apparent support for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. The early Israeli elections could come as soon as January.

The report comes just after Foreign Policy magazine published a piece detailing American and Israeli consideration of a joint surgical strike on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities. The article’s author, David Rothkopf, quotes “a source close to the discussions,” writing:

Advocates for this approach argue that not only is it likely to be more politically palatable in the United States but, were it to be successful — meaning knocking out enrichment facilities, setting the Iranian nuclear program back many years, and doing so without civilian casualties — it would have region wide benefits. One advocate asserts it would have a ‘transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come’.

…To get to buried Iranian facilities, such as the enrichment plant at Fordow, would require bunker-busting munitions on a scale that no Israeli plane is capable of delivering. The mission, therefore, must involve the United States, whether acting alone or in concert with the Israelis and others.

Dismal Winter Gas Prices May Be Coming

Gas prices on the West Coast hit record-breaking highs on Monday, averaging nearly $4.67 in much of California.

Breaking records set in 2008, the recent surge in gasoline prices has been attributed to a series of pipeline and refinery problems that are slowing fuel production.

Prices throughout the rest of the United States have also reached historic highs for this time of year at about $3.82 per gallon as of Monday. Usually, October means falling gas prices throughout the Nation. Although prices tapered off in 30 States, they went up in 16 others. The most drastic increase has been in California where motorists have seen the price of gas jump an average of 50 cents since Oct. 1. In some parts of that State, gas costs more than $6 a gallon.

Some analysts predict that prices will continue to rise in coming weeks, meaning that some voters could have to stop for some more-than-$4-a-gallon gas on the way to the polls in November.

Conservative commentator Mike Huckabee slammed the mainstream media yesterday, saying news coverage has not paid nearly as much lip service to the rising gas prices under President Barack Obama as it did under the George Bush Administration.

“When George Bush was president, we heard about gas prices every time,” Huckabee said on FOX News’ Fox & Friends. “And they would take cameras to the pumps and have someone almost tearfully explaining that they were paying almost two dollars and fifty cents a gallon. It’s amazing how quiet the media has been when gas prices are double what they were when President Obama took office. They’re the highest in the country’s history.”