Remember that pesky scandal where it was revealed the NSA collects metadata on U.S. citizens? Remember how many people (from both sides of the aisle) blew it off as nothing we should worry about; that it was a vital part of our national security efforts?
Now we learn from the former head of the NSA that the United States uses metadata to decide who to kill. Not in the United States (yet), but definitely overseas.
This is disturbing enough. I thought we actually had, you know, SPIES and such operating throughout the world, intercepting communications, reading letters, etc. Now the NSA is revealing that we don’t actually bother to read what’s in the communications… we will actually kill someone just for communicating with other people.
What’s wrong with that? Some people will ask this question. Unfortunately, Republicans will be among them. There’s a lot wrong with this. Right off the top of my head, I can think of a HUGE problem with this. Want to eliminate someone you can’t get to? How about having a bunch of your Al Qaeda buddies to call him a bunch of times. Eventually the United States will classify him as a major terrorist based on his metadata and off him for you!
Another problem: metadata is “data about data”. Which means the United States is killing people not on evidence, but on “evidence about evidence”. I really hope that I don’t have to explain why this is concerning.
Most worrisome about this article, though, is this single statement by former NSA chief Michael Hayden regarding the domestic collection of metadata:
“It’s really important to understand the program in its entirety. Not the potentiality of the program, but how the program is actually conducted.” (emphasis added)
Hayden is asking us to NOT look at the potential of the program. This is a de facto admission that the potentiality of the program is something we would find “distasteful” to put it lightly. Furthermore, within the context of the overall article, I’d like to know exactly what Hayden means when he says “potentiality of the program.” You would think it is unlikely he means the government may start killing civilians on U.S. soil based on metadata, but who knows?
At the very least, we should be concerned about targeted political character assassinations, using metadata to poison someone’s reputation, or blackmail someone. But metadata could eventually become grounds for granting search warrants, which means search and seizure of private property based on evidence of evidence. Or for things like IRS audits. Metadata could easily become a tool in the government’s bag of bully tricks.
The potentiality of the program concerns the hell out of me. I hope it concerns you too.
At least Obama did something (after enormous pressure) and “officially” abandoned the program. Small consolation considering the potential for “unofficial” collection, and that private entities will maintain the metadata and the government will basically have access to that whenever they want.
The Commander in Chief of the world’s greatest military power seems hell bent on relinquishing that title. The latest on the chopping block are the Hellfire and Tomahawk missile programs. Obama seeks to cut all procurement of new Hellfire missiles from the Navy by 2015, and all new Tomahawks by 2016 — a seemingly inexplicable move considering Obama took so much credit for U.S. involvement in the Libya operation, which relied heavily on Tomahawk missiles.
This is just the latest in a long line of cuts to specific military programs which have occurred or will occur during Obama’s tenure. Now I’m not saying each and every cut was unwarranted, but here is what I know — when your budget has to be cut, you start by looking for way to cut spending with minimal impact to capabilities or quality of outcome.
I’ve worked in organizations funded by the government in the past. They are wasteful — there is no doubt about it. From the seemingly endless bureaucracy, to the fixed budgets that “HAVE to be spent,” the entire system has become a monolithic machine with the primary purpose of perpetuating its own existence. I remember computers and furniture being replaced well before it was necessary, simply because it was “a replacement year”. The old stuff taken to a warehouse and sold for pennies on the dollar.
So my beef isn’t with general cuts to the defense budget. I firmly believe that every single department of the U.S. government could find a way to cut at least 10% of its budget without firing a single person or diminishing the quality of the work or service provided.
I submit for your consideration Senator Coburn’s report on potentially over $60 billion in waste found at the DoD. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I needed to cut the defense budget I would start by rooting out waste and corruption! Then I would move on to other non-essentials, like parties and other perks. Then and only then would I start looking at specific programs.
But Obama and his ilk seem unconcerned with the billions of dollars disappearing in the bureaucratic ether. No doubt this is partly because exposing the waste will expose the very nature of massive bureaucracy, thereby severely weakening the “moral authority of modern big government” which progressives have been diligently creating for the last decade.
But I think something else is going on. Obama’s move to kill off the programs which allowed him to execute the Libya operation without U.S. troop involvement is very telling. Obama specifically seeks to diminish the United States’ ability to execute military operations. Hagel wants to cut the Army to levels not seen since before WWII. The administration has also killed or hamstrung the Air Force’s F35 joint strike fighter, the Navy’s next generation cruiser, and the Marine Corps’ next generation EFV.
Dinesh Dsouza essentially predicted this. He believes Obama is an anti-colonialist who sees the USA as somewhat of a bad guy on the world stage, and the U.S. military as the tool enabling the “bad actions”. Bathed in this light, Obama’s actions make sense.
If you haven’t seen him before, I introduce you to Michael Che. Saw him on one of my DVR’d episodes of Late Night with Seth Meyers. Personally, I think he was funnier than the host.
This is a great bit. The perfect kind of comedy. Sort of a-political, sort of libertarian, very cool. Very refreshing to see a black comedian address the out-of-hand political correctness and fake racism permeating our culture.
Back in 2008, following Obama’s less than compelling reaction on the campaign trail to Russia invading neighboring Georgia, Sarah Palin remarked that Ukraine could be next. The left attacked her, mocked her, called her comments “strange” and “far-fetched”.
Today, the scenario is very real. Russia’s puppet parliament just voted unanimously to approve military action against Ukraine. This after paramilitary forces, likely of Russian origin and backing, have already seized government buildings and airports within the Crimean region of Ukraine.
Which means, all those fawning, sycophantic, Obama-protecting liberals… all those self-righteous, self-described “experts” on foreign policy… all those talking heads on the television were WRONG.
Sarah Palin was right, folks.
I wonder which of those supposed experts has the guts to admit it.
Chris “thrill up my leg” Matthews recently pointed out that Democrats will consider 2014 a good election if they only lose five seats, but that they could potentially lose 10 seats.
If Matthews is bringing this up, you know it’s bad news for the Democrats. So let’s have a look at how 2014 is shaping up:
- In 2014, there are 21 Democrat races to only 14 Republican races
- Only one Republican race is in a 2012 blue state (Maine), while seven Democrat races are in 2012 red states
- Two of the Democrat races in 2012 blue states are open (no incumbent running)
- In 2010, Democrats lost three seats in blue states (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Illinois), while only holding one seat in a red state (West Virginia). It’s worth noting that one seat was Joe Manchin, who some would certainly call Democrat-lite.
If the NAACP was ever actually an organization dedicated to the advancement of colored people, I am certainly too young to remember. Throughout my adult life it seems the NAACP is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the liberal/progressive political wing. If “colored people” happen to align with their politics, great. But anything not part of the official Democrat platform is ignored or outright opposed.
A great example of this last is the NAACP opposition to school choice laws, which have been shown as fairly successful for black children in many communities. You would think an organization supposedly dedicated to helping advance black people would actually want to help advance black children, but since Democrats oppose school choice, you would be wrong to assume so.
In the latest bit of whacky weirdness, the NAACP organized a march to protest voter ID laws. Prior to the march, they distributed a flyer with DOs and DON’Ts. One of the DOs? “Bring photo identification and keep it on you at all times”
In my present state of mind, I am beyond the point of feeling angry about this. The hypocrisy among political power players is so rampant, so obvious, so egregious that I just can’t help but laugh.
Maybe I am laughing the laugh of the damned.
Before the two best teams in the NFL squared off against one another, two political titans entered their own arena to do battle. Here are my five takeaways from the Obama / O’Reilly Super Bowl interview.
1. The entire Obama administration is technologically naive
O’Reilly pressed Obama on the botched Obamacare rollout. Obama repeated multiple times:
“I don’t think anybody anticipated the degree of problems”
Really? Nobody in the entire administration anticipated these problems? I find this incredibly difficult to believe. I work in the web industry. I develop web applications used by hundreds of thousands and even millions of people. I can tell you from personal experience that if my deadline was approaching and the product was not ready, I would be in regular communications with the client discussing crisis mode options.
CGI Federal has taken a lot of heat for the botched rollout. Some of that they deserve, no doubt. But I suspect the #1 problem was a terrible set of specifications delivered from the government. Poor specifications leads to poor product. I also suspect that the middlemen within the Administration did not possess enough tech knowledge to comprehend the extent of the disastrous rollout.
“[Nobody] anticipated the degree of problems.” Obama’s own words. I expected more from the supposedly “most tech-savvy administration in history.”
2. Holding people accountable is now officially meaningless
O’Reilly challenged Obama on Kathleen Sebelius’ continued employment. O’Reilly clearly believes she failed and she should go. I happen to agree. However, Obama’s reassures us:
I promise you that we hold everybody up and down the line accountable.
Okay, but what does this mean? Obama has told us before that he holds people accountable. Other than General Stanley McChrystal, who has Obama actually fired? Only a select few have even resigned.
In the Obama administration, you can oversee the Fast and Furious scandal, lie about the cause of the attack in Benghazi, lie to Congress about the government’s data-collection policies, and even botch the rollout of the President’s signature legislation and your job is secure. But dare to mock Joe Biden and you’re fired!
The following is a conversation with a welfare mother who called in to a radio show. If you haven’t heard it, you must listen. The woman describes how she can smoke marijuana, sit around doing nothing all day, and the checks come every month. Words cannot adequately describe, you must hear it for yourself.
UPDATE: A reader discovered a source saying this was false. Not exactly a hoax, but apparently the woman called back again and said she had been on welfare, but was off it, and was incensed others didn’t do the same. Also that she invented the original story to raise awareness. Now I am left wondering if the retraction is true, or merely the result of worrying that some government official would come after her now that she embarrassed the system. A person who has been on welfare and successfully gotten off it could surely come up with better ways to raise awareness for the PROS and CONS of welfare than by concocting a story which only highlights the CONS of the system.
If any body else finds more to this story, let me know.
Video after the jump because it auto-plays.
A week or so ago, President Obama made headlines by declaring he’s “got a pen” and “got a telephone” and calling 2014 a year of action! My first thought was, “Gee, Batman must be jealous of your high tech gadgets Mr. President.” My second thought was that Obama was actually threatening to bypass the Constitutional role of Congress by acting unilaterally wherever possible.
In case there was any doubt about the President’s commitment to Executive action, the White House has doubled down on its promise to circumvent Congress.
One of the many interesting sub-plots of the 2014 election year is the possibility that Congress may welcome its first openly gay Republican.
Dan Innis is running for a House seat in New Hampshire. He is a businessman, entrepreneur, Dean of the Whittemore School of Business and Economics, and is married to a man. It was his husband who convinced him to run, saying “You’ve got to do this” to see if Innis could “make a difference.”
Richard Tisei is running again for a House seat in Massachusetts. He lost by just 1 point in the general election to John Tierney, and will face him again this time around. He has already served as a state senator. He is also married to a man.
Carl DeMaio is running for a House seat in California. He is a businessman who provided training and consulting specifically to financially-troubled government entities to help them become more efficient. He has also served as a city councilman for San Diego. At the time of writing this I do not know if DeMaio is married to his partner, but it is my understanding they have been together for six years.
None of these men are making their sexuality part of their campaign. It will be interesting to see what the liberals do, should these men make it through the GOP primaries. Kevin has often pointed out that liberals reveal their ultimate hypocrisy when faced with an opponent who would traditionally be a liberal. As a living example, DeMaio and his partner were booed while walking in the Gay Pride parade, because DeMaio is a Republican and was running for Mayor.