President could get power to turn off Internet

Obama Internet kill switch plan approved by US Senate

President could get power to turn off Internet

By Grant Gross | Published: 11:02 GMT, 25 June 10

A US Senate committee has approved a wide-ranging cybersecurity bill that some critics have suggested would give the US president the authority to shut down parts of the Internet during a cyberattack.

Senator Joe Lieberman and other bill sponsors have refuted the charges that the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act gives the president an Internet “kill switch.” Instead, the bill puts limits on the powers the president already has to cause “the closing of any facility or stations for wire communication” in a time of war, as described in the Communications Act of 1934, they said in a breakdown of the bill published on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee website.

The committee unanimously approved an amended version of the legislation by voice vote Thursday, a committee spokeswoman said. The bill next moves to the Senate floor for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled.

The bill, introduced earlier this month, would establish a White House Office for Cyberspace Policy and a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications, which would work with private US companies to create cybersecurity requirements for the electrical grid, telecommunications networks and other critical infrastructure.

The bill also would allow the US president to take emergency actions to protect critical parts of the Internet, including ordering owners of critical infrastructure to implement emergency response plans, during a cyber-emergency. The president would need congressional approval to extend a national cyber-emergency beyond 120 days under an amendment to the legislation approved by the committee.

The legislation would give the US Department of Homeland Security authority that it does not now have to respond to cyber-attacks, Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said earlier this month.

“Our responsibility for cyber defence goes well beyond the public sector because so much of cyberspace is owned and operated by the private sector,” he said. “The Department of Homeland Security has actually shown that vulnerabilities in key private sector networks like utilities and communications could bring our economy down for a period of time if attacked or commandeered by a foreign power or cyber terrorists.”

Other sponsors of the bill are Senators Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat.

One critic said Thursday that the bill will hurt the nation’s security, not help it. Security products operate in a competitive market that works best without heavy government intervention, said Wayne Crews, vice president for policy and director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an anti-regulation think tank.

“Policymakers should reject such proposals to centralize cyber security risk management,” Crews said in an e-mail. “The Internet that will evolve if government can resort to a ‘kill switch’ will be vastly different from, and inferior to, the safer one that will emerge otherwise.”

Cybersecurity technologies and services thrive on competition, he added. “The unmistakable tenor of the cybersecurity discussion today is that of government steering while the market rows,” he said. “To be sure, law enforcement has a crucial role in punishing intrusions on private networks and infrastructure. But government must coexist with, rather than crowd out, private sector security technologies.”

On Wednesday, 24 privacy and civil liberties groups sent a letter raising concerns about the legislation to the sponsors. The bill gives the new National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications “significant authority” over critical infrastructure, but doesn’t define what critical infrastructure is covered, the letter said.

Without a definition of critical infrastructure there are concerns that “it includes elements of the Internet that Americans rely on every day to engage in free speech and to access information,” said the letter, signed by the Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups.

“Changes are needed to ensure that cybersecurity measures do not unnecessarily infringe on free speech, privacy, and other civil liberties interests,” the letter added.

 


http://news.techworld.com/security/3228198/obama-internet-kill-switch-plan-approved-by-us-senate/

The Crotch Salute Returns

 IT FIGURES                               

At the Ft. Hood Memorial

 Service… 
The Crotch Salute Returns 


I’m sorry folks, but is this the turkey that was elected President of our country?  You know, the United States of America ?  I do believe that saluting the flag goes with that, and also to honor the servicemen who died, or is he above that?  He sure as hell knows how to bow to our enemies.  Shower us all with flowery words and dazzle us with B.S. , but actions speak louder.  May it only last 4 years and may our country survive it.

Four-stars no match for Obama’s four-star ego

Four-stars no match for Obama’s four-star ego

Camie Davis

General McChrystal, it’s your own fault. You should have seen it coming.In a world of sound-bites, when perception trumps reality, how else was an image sensitive White House supposed to respond to the Rolling Stone byline, “Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.”

It’s your fault, General, that you believed your experience was more important than Obama’s ego. Les Gelb, of the Council on Foreign Relations said of Obama, “He is so self-confident that he believes he can make decisions on the most complicated of issues after only hours of discussion.” Hours of discussion vs. real-life warfare experience. It’s clear, General, who should be making national security decisions. Four-stars can hardly stand up to the experience of community organizing and bowing to foreign dignitaries.

It’s your fault, General, that you believed Obama might whole-heartedly support your role in ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban. With his heel on their throat, ready to kick some BP ass, one could easily see how you would expect Obama to support you in your role. But didn’t you get Brennan’s memo? Jihad is really just a “holy struggle, a legitimate tenant of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.” Perhaps your biggest mistake was not asking for 40,000 yoga mats for the jihadists “purifying” Afghanistan.

It’s your fault, General, to think that Obama could handle any criticism from you. Did you fail to understand how fragile his emotions already were? Sarkozy called him an insane, madman. Putin publicly scorned his vision of a world without nukes. Zuckerman labeled him as incompetent and amateur in U.S. News & World Report. Then you come along and have the audacity to say that Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated by the roomful of military brass.” There’s only so much one man can take.

Your “scathing” remarks most assuredly did “undermine the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system and erode the needed trust on the president’s war team.” Suddenly our democratic system is important. It’s your fault, General, that you assumed Obama didn’t give a damn about the democratic system after he pushed through Obamacare.

Americans will sleep better tonight knowing that a four-star General, who has his own opinion about a community-organizer-turned-president’s rank in a room full of military brass, has been removed.

Perhaps you will sleep better too, General, knowing that Obama’s decision was made “with considerable regret.” And once you have time for reflection, you will most likely agree with his reasoning that the job in Afghanistan could not be completed under your leadership since your critical remarks displayed “conduct that doesn’t live up to the necessary standards for a command-level officer.”

Start playing more golf, General. That’s the kind of right stuff that real command-level leaders are made of.

Camie Davis can be followed on Facebook at Wake Up and Smell the Falafel.

Obama vs. the U.S. ArmyJune 24th, 2010

Obama vs. the U.S. ArmyJune 24th, 2010

By Patrick J. Buchanan, Human Events

In confiding to Rolling Stone their unflattering opinions of the military acumen of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, Dick Holbrooke and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff were guilty of colossal stupidity.

And President Obama had cause to cashier them. Yet his decision to fire McChrystal may prove both unwise and costly.

For McChrystal, unlike Gen. MacArthur, never challenged the war policy — he is carrying it out — and Barack Obama is no Harry Truman.

Moreover, the war strategy Obama is pursuing is the McChrystal Plan, devised by the general and being implemented by the general in Marja and Kandahar, perhaps the decisive campaign of the war.

Should that plan now fail, full responsibility falls on Obama.

Read More

Was McChrystal set-up to be smeared?

Was McChrystal set-up to be smeared?

Ann Kane

NBC’s Brian Williams covered President Obama’s smackdown speech in the Rose Garden yesterday calling the McChrystal affair “a crisis” to add to the crisis in the Gulf.  Absurd. There is no comparison. High level flaps happen all the time, and they don’t decimate the landscape.

This leads us to conjecture about the hidden agenda of the mainstream press and Rolling Stone Magazine.  The way the mainstream media spun the remarks of McChrystal’s team has some in the blogosphere speculating that the Left set out to smear the general and cause him to lose his job.

Details are scant about who said what to whom, and how the magazine got access to the highest command unit in Afghanistan. Here’s a post from Larry Johnson’s blog, No Quarter:

This was a set up of General McChrystal. While I’m not a personal friend, I worked under his command for several years and know that he frowned on sharing anything with the media. In fact, I’m certain he did not invite the Rolling Stone reporter into his lair.

[snip]

Here’s what I think happened. Rolling Stone asked someone at the White House or DOD for permission to do a piece on the counter insurgency progress in Afghanistan. McChrystal was told to let the reporter accompany them. He thought that the piece being done was on the counter insurgency. Boy, was he wrong.

Who’s to say what really happened, but it could be a blessing in disguise for a well-loved general.  Even a tough guy like Gen. McChrystal could use a break from a detached, uninterested Commander-in-Chief.

The long, hot Summer of Corruption

Michelle Malkin 

Lead Story

The long, hot Summer of Corruption

By Michelle Malkin  •  June 2, 2010 09:40 AM

The resurrection of Rod Blagojevich
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2010

We’ve had the Summer of Love and the Summer of the Shark. Now, are you ready for the Summer of Corruption? On Thursday, jury selection begins in the federal trial of disgraced former Democrat Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois. The timing couldn’t be worse for Blago’s old Chicago pals in the White House. Just as Team Obama tries to bury one job-trading scandal, another one resurfaces.

It’s a useful reminder that Washington didn’t turn Obama into a business-as-usual politician. He was born and bred among the slimiest in their class.

At the center of the Blago trial is the convergence of the Chicago political machine – the corrupt Democratic Party establishment, Big Labor heavies at the Services Employees International Union, and Team Obama.

In December 2008, the political ties that bind them all came under national scrutiny when federal prosecutors publicly released their criminal complaint against Blagojevich. SEIU figured prominently in Blago’s secretly taped musings on how to profit from his power to appoint Obama’s Senate replacement. So did a larger union umbrella federation, Change to Win, led by SEIU secretary-treasurer Anna Burger. Blago hatched a plan to snag a $300,000-a-year job as head of Change to Win in exchange for appointing a union-friendly successor to Obama.

Like Obama, Blago enjoyed massive campaign donations and on-the-ground support from the SEIU’s Purple Army. Like Obama, Blago repaid his Big Labor backers with labor-friendly executive orders and legislative largesse to facilitate union organizing and carve out major portions of the health care industry for them. At the time of his arrest, Blago was preparing another executive order to expand the union power grab over an even larger portion of home health care workers targeted by the SEIU.

Blagojevich did the country an extraordinary unintended favor. As health care analyst David Catron wrote: “He has made it clear to the meanest intelligence that Obama emerged from a hopelessly corrupt political culture. Barack Obama oozed from the same stinking Chicago swamp that produced Blagojevich, and a man whose formative years were spent wallowing in the muck with such creatures isn’t likely to be long in White House before the stench of pay-to-play politics begins to pervade the place.”

Fast-forward. Nearly two years later, Obama’s legal fixers can’t mask the Chicago-esque odor of Sestak-gate. The president’s legal team, led by chief fixer and legal counsel Bob Bauer, orchestrated a Memorial Day weekend document dump intended to squash mounting public criticism of the administration’s alleged government job offer to Pennsylvania Democrat senatorial candidate Joe Sestak. Bauer’s memo acknowledged that “options for Executive Branch service were raised with him” through former President Bill Clinton, whom White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel enlisted to woo Sestak.

Blago knows all about working with Team Obama through intermediaries to explore, ahem, “options.” Blago’s then-chief of staff, John Harris, allegedly mapped out “three-way deal” to give the White House a “buffer” obscuring the obvious quid pro quo. SEIU would assist Obama with Blago’s appointment of a union-friendly candidate; Blago would get his cushy union job; and SEIU would be rewarded down the road with favors from the White House. Team Blago reached out to the SEIU. An unnamed SEIU official agreed to float their plan and “see where it goes.”

The Senate candidate Blago allegedly approached was top Obama adviser and Chicago political godmother Valerie Jarrett, who removed herself from the running when she took a top White House adviser post instead. Who was the “SEIU official” Team Blago spoke with and met? Internal communications in December 2008 fingered President Obama’s longtime Chicago pal, SEIU Local 1 president Tom Balanoff. Balanoff, not coincidentally had been appointed by Blago to the llinois Health Facilities Planning Board.

Two days before Christmas 2008, legal counsel Greg Craig released an official, self-exonerating report outlining contacts between Team Obama and Team Blago. Balanoff, it turns out, had indeed spoken with Jarrett. The Obama defense? Despite her much-touted political brilliance, the legal team argued, Jarrett “did not understand the conversation to suggest that the Governor wanted the cabinet seat as a quid pro quo for selecting any specific candidate to be the President-Elect’s replacement.” The Blago subpoena of the president filed last month begs to differ – and directly implicates Obama:

“…despite President Obama stating that no representatives of his had any part of any deals, labor union president [presumably SEIU’s Andy Stern] told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to labor union official on November 3, 2008 who received a phone message from Obama that evening. After labor union official listened to the message labor union official told labor union president “I’m the one”. Labor union president took that to mean that labor union official was to be the one to deliver the message on behalf of Obama that Senate Candidate B was his pick.”

It’s going to be a long, hot summer of Chicago corruption.

President Obama Skips Arlington for Chicago BBQ – Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam Thugs Skirmish with Secret Service and Press pool

ATLAS EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Skips Arlington for Chicago BBQ – Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam Thugs Skirmish with Secret Service and Press pool

UPDATED: SCROLL SCROLL SCROLL: UNCLEAR IF FARRAKHAN WAS THERE SKIRMISH BETWEEN  NATION OF ISLAM PARAMILITARY AND SECRET SERVICE AND PRESS POOL

How did the President of the United States spend his Memorial day weekend? Honoring the glorious dead by laying a wreath at Arlington cemetery? ? Not a chance.

It is unclear but he may have  pow-wowed with race baiter, Jew-hater Louis Farrakhan, a frequent visitor to the White House. Back in March, Farrakhan blamed the Jews for O’s woes.

“The Zionists are in control of Congress,” Farrakhan said  as he listed off a slew of Jewish economic advisers, adding that the “bloodsuckers of the poor” were rewarded with a bailout.

UPDATED: What is clear is that the paramilitary wing of the Nation of Islam, Fruit of Islam, skirmished with Secret Service and the White House press pool.

America is in trouble.

Jackie Calmes, a New York Times reporter who covers the White House, was in Chicago covering the President’s visit there this weekend. On Saturday night, she was one of the reporters who was assigned to the White House pool of reporters covering the President on his evening out having dinner at what appears to be, according to the Chicago reporters on site, the home of  Louis Farrakhan. The official line is that it was the home of Marty Nesbitt (treasurer of OFA — Organizing for America), but the house is “is tax exempt for being a religious institution.” The press pool van was parked nearby.  UPDATE: It appears to have been Nesbitt’s home.

Here is what Jackie Calmes reported on behalf of the press pool:

Sent: Sat May 29 21:08:47 2010
Subject: Pool Report 5

At 7:20 local time the pool was holding at Woodlawn and 49th, next to a large sandstone mansion that the Chicago reporters say is the home of one Louis Farrakhan. Our Secret Service agent allowed us off the bus (Air!) and as a dozen of us congregated on the sidewalk, inevitably some shoes touched grass. Immediately a polite man in jeans and Tshirt emerged to ask us to stay off the grass. Though this grass was the curbside city property, we obliged.
 Soon, however, he was pacing and talking on a cell phone. He went inside the mansion’s black wrought iron fence, crossed the well-landscaped yard, lifted a water bucket behind rose bushes and, voila!, a walkie-talkie. He was heard to refer to “the CIA” once he began speaking into it.

Soon he approached our agent, asking him to move the van and its occupants, though your pooler could not hear much else he said. But the agent said, “How is this a security breach?” And he asked if the house was a government property. The man said something else and at that point the agent stuck out his hand to shake hands and introduced himself as a Secret Service agent. He added, “Sir, I can assure you that we will do nothing to interfere with whatever is going on in there.”

  The man is back to pacing and talking on his cell, walkie-talkie in hand.

  A co-pooler searched the Internet for the address and found it listed on a Web site called NotForTourists and another called Taxexemptworld.com.
 Indeed, another pooler found a county Web site that confirmed this property is tax exempt for being a religious institution.

 Reinforcements arrived–three men in Tshirts reading “Wide or Die!” One surly man has been staring daggers at us. Asked if this is Minister Farrakhan’s house, he just stared at your pooler. Asked again, he said, “I don’t have no comment.”
  You should have the WH statement on top kill’s failure. At nearly 8 pm local time we are still holding while POTUS and family remain at the Nesbitts.

Sent: Sat May 29 22:07:24 2010
Subject: Pool Report 5a

 It’s 8:45 and nearly dark; your pool has retreated back inside the van. We’re outnumbered now by roughly a dozen Fruit of Islam agents for the Nation of Islam. As each casually dressed man arrives, he exchanges elaborate handshake/hug/double air-kisses with others. Two walked by your pooler chanting “Islam.”
  Several have filmed and photographed your poolers, the van and its license plates with their cell phones.
  One came and stood close to a couple poolers and OUR agent. He asked if he could help. No answer. He asked again. The man said no. The agent said, “Secret Service — Please move away from this group of people.”
  He did.
  Soon the agent asked us to go in the bus.
  We did.
  But several poolers, hearing the call of nature, are asking whether they might ask the Fruit about using their bathroom.
  Still holding. No pun intended.

And now, have a look at how mainstream media (AP) covered this story (and remember, AP feeds all the news outlets throughout the world. This is what they are hearing about, not Farrakhan.) The media is covering all this up.

Back in Chicago, Obamas enjoy weekend barbecue

APCHICAGO — President Barack Obama and his family are enjoying their hometown holiday weekend with barbecue Saturday night at a friend’s home.

The First Family, led by Obama and his mother-in-law Marian Robinson, left their residence in the Hyde Park neighborhood shortly after 4 p.m. They headed to dinner a few blocks away at the house of Chicago businessman Marty Nesbitt.

Obama was dressed casually in a pair of jeans, sandals and blue, button-down collared shirt. He was joined by wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, who was walking Bo, the family dog.

Also in attendance were Obama’s brother-in-law Craig Robinson and his wife.

The Obamas are in Chicago for the Memorial Day weekend. Earlier, Obama played basketball at the University of Chicago Lab School.

The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America

UPDATE: The Fruit of Islam, by the way, is the paramilitary wing of the Nation of Islam.

UPDATE: Byron York has nore now that the story has gotten out. Was Farrakhan there?

It might be assumed that an assurance from the Secret Service would be enough to satisfy any security-minded guardian of Louis Farrakhan.  But not in this case.  Calmes continues:

The man is back to pacing and talking on his cell, walkie-talkie in hand.

A co-pooler searched the Internet for the address and found it listed on a Web site called NotForTourists and another called Taxexemptworld.com. Indeed, another pooler found a county Web site that confirmed this property is tax exempt for being a religious institution.

Reinforcements arrived — three men in T-shirts reading “Wide or Die!” One surly man has been staring daggers at us. Asked if this is Minister Farrakhan’s house, he just stared at your pooler. Asked again, he said, “I don’t have no comment.”

At nearly 8 p.m. local time we are still holding while POTUS and family remain at the Nesbitts.

More time passed.  The men in T-shirts were joined by even more men,  from the Fruit of Islam, Farrakhan’s security force.  From Calmes:

It’s 8:45 and nearly dark; your pool has retreated back inside the van. We’re outnumbered now by roughly a dozen Fruit of Islam agents for the Nation of Islam. As each casually dressed man arrives, he exchanges elaborate handshake/hug/double air-kisses with others. Two walked by your pooler chanting “Islam.”

Several have filmed and photographed your poolers, the van and its license plates with their cell phones.

One came and stood close to a couple poolers and OUR [Secret Service] agent. He asked if he could help. No answer. He asked again. The man said no. The agent said, “Secret Service — Please move away from this group of people.”

He did. Soon the agent asked us to go in the bus. We did.

At that point, the Secret Service was badly outnumbered by the Fruit of Islam, who apparently believed that some sort of “security breach” had occurred.  Were Farrakhan’s men armed?  Were there more on the way?  The Secret Service agent called for backup.  From Calmes:

9:20 local time and our agent got reinforcements from three Secret Service agents. One shook hands with one of the 22 Fruit members we now can count from the van. After a short discussion the three Secret Service agents walked away again.

No word on when we get to leave. We’re guessing POTUS is watching the Blackhawks game at the Nesbitts’ home.

While this was happening, word of the standoff apparently got around as a result of Calmes’ pool reports (they were sent out piecemeal by email).  Someone who had read the reports got in touch with Farrakhan to let the Nation of Islam leader know that the people waiting outside were just covering Obama.  From Calmes:

The power of pool reportage! Standoff ends, apparently with help of intermediary in Detroit:

Your pooler got a call at about 10:15 local time from a pool report reader who identified himself as the Rev. Gary Hunter, a Baptist minister in Motown who writes and blogs for the Detroit Times. He said he had called Minister Farrakhan and his son and asked them to have the Fruit stand down.

“I told him you were good people,” Rev. Hunter said. “He said he didn’t know you all were just waiting for the president.”

As it happens, the Fruit of Islam indeed had mostly gone by then. The Rev. Hunter apparently is remembered by [White House social secretary staffer Samantha] Tubman, and he said he knows our frequent press rustler Ben Finkenbinder from past travels with Obama.

Anyway, at 10:33 we pulled away and we are at the Obama residence. Never saw POTUS at all.

And that was the end of it.  Some observers will make light of the whole thing — just a little misunderstanding with those weird Nation of Islam guys — but the fact that Farrakhan’s security force is close to the president’s home is likely a matter of continuing concern to the Secret Service.  And on Saturday night, the two forces ran into each other.

Weird Nation of Islam guys – it’s the paramilitary arm on the Nation of Islam. The whole story stinks. Did Obama see Farrakhan or not?

Kagan: Some speech can be ‘disappeared’–Wanted ‘societal costs’ counted against 1st Amendment rights

LAW OF THE LAND

Kagan: Some speech can be ‘disappeared’

Wanted ‘societal costs’ counted against 1st Amendment rights


Posted: May 10, 2010
9:10 pm Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2010 WorldNetDaily


Elena Kagan

 

NEW YORK – President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, argued certain forms of speech that promote “racial or gender inequality” could be “disappeared.”

In her few academic papers, Kagan evidences strong beliefs for court intervention in speech, going so far as to posit First Amendment speech should be weighed against “societal costs.”

In her 1993 article “Regulation of Hate Speech and Pornography After R.A.V,” for the University of Chicago Law Review, Kagan writes:

“I take it as a given that we live in a society marred by racial and gender inequality, that certain forms of speech perpetuate and promote this inequality, and that the uncoerced disappearance of such speech would be cause for great elation.”

In a 1996 paper, “Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Governmental Motive in First Amendment Doctrine,” Kagan argued it may be proper to suppress speech because it is offensive to society or to the government.

 That paper asserted First Amendment doctrine is comprised of “motives and … actions infested with them” and she goes so far as to claim that “First Amendment law is best understood and most readily explained as a kind of motive-hunting.”

 Kagan’s name was also on a brief, United States V. Stevens, dug up by the Washington Examiner, stating: “Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs.”

 Kagan’s academic writings are sparse – just nine articles, two of which are book reviews.

 Her stand on free speech could become a hot button issue as the Senate convenes to confirm her. If approved, Kagan would give the high court three women justices for the first time. She would be the youngest member on the current court and the first justice in nearly four decades without any prior judicial experience.

WND has reported that in her undergraduate thesis at Princeton, Kagan lamented the decline of socialism in the country as “sad” for those who still hope to “change America.”

WND also reported Kagan has advocated for an increased presidential role in regulation, which, she conceded, would make such affairs more and more an extension of the president’s own policy and political agenda.

Kagan was nominated as U.S. solicitor general by Obama in January and confirmed by the Senate in March. She was a dean of Harvard Law School and previously served alongside Obama as a professor of law at the University of Chicago.

A former clerk to Abner Mikva at the D.C. federal appeals court, Kagan was heavily involved in promoting the health-care policy of the Clinton administration.

Obama praised her because while he said a “judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law,” she has evidenced a “keen understanding of the impact of the law on people’s lives.”

The president said she has a “firm grasp on the nexus and boundaries between our three branches of government.”

But more importantly, she understands, “behind the law there are stories, stories of people’s lives,” Obama said.

Kagan said the law is “endlessly interesting” and also “protects the most fundamental rights and freedoms.”

With research by Brenda J. Elliott.

Failure-in-Chief

Failure-in-Chief

Posted 05/05/2010 ET

 

The controversies over the Arizona immigration plan and the Obama Administration’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf may not seem related, but they have a key common characteristic: both originate in the failure of Washington.

In both cases, President Obama faces a real danger of a political backlash from which he will be unable to recover.

More importantly, they are both part of a rapidly evolving pattern of big government failure that will be a fundamental challenge to our country over the next quarter century.

Federal Failure on Immigration and Border Control

Before anyone criticizes the citizens of Arizona who are worried about their lives and their safety, they should focus on the abject failure of the federal government to control the border and enforce our immigration laws. 

Consider the facts on the ground:

• 15% of Arizona’s state prisoners are illegal immigrants;
• The number of kidnappings in Phoenix, Ariz., has exploded as the Mexican drug cartels have brought their violence North of the border;
• Two Phoenix police officers have been killed in recent years by illegal immigrants;
• A cattle rancher near the Mexican border was recently killed by a drug smuggler;
• Just last week a deputy sheriff was wounded in a gun battle with men suspected of being drug smugglers from Mexico.

In response to the dangers they perceived from Washington’s failure, 64% of Arizonans overwhelmingly support their new immigration law.

Nationally, 51% of Americans who have heard of the law support it, with 39% opposed

This is despite the frequent distortions and flat-out lies about the facts of the bill being reiterated in the mainstream media (Byron York and Andy McCarthy have been especially good at setting the record straight.)

The Obama Administration will alienate the vast majority of Americans if it insists on attacking the Arizona law instead of solving the problems of an uncontrolled border and a failed immigration system.

The right answer for Washington is to meet its responsibilities: 1) Control the border; 2) Pass common sense immigration reform, including a guest worker program and intense enforcement aimed at illegal employers (without whom there would be no magnet to draw in people outside the law); and 3) Ensure that all Americans can live in safety in a law abiding country.

At that point the Arizona law would become moot and unneeded.  Let’s solve the problem, not the symptom.

Federal Failure in Louisiana…Round 2

President Obama faces another challenge in the controversy surrounding the federal government’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf.

Of course, this controversy has echoes of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, which was enabled by government, both in the failure to maintain the levee and pumping system and in taking too long to respond. 

The Bush Administration’s inability to recognize these failures and fix them was a major factor in its loss of public support (which never recovered to pre-Katrina levels).

Today, it is not yet clear what degree of responsibility the federal government has for the oil spill disaster.  But every day we get new pieces of information that suggest this spill could have been contained if the federal government had acted swiftly and competently.

We know that Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said the Deepwater Horizon was inspected less than two weeks before the explosion.  However, without knowing the cause of the accident, it is impossible to know if something was missed that would have prevented the explosion or failure of the “blowout preventer” that should have shut off the oil flow.

We also know that it took over eight days for federal government to deem the spill a disaster of “national significance” and fully devote federal resources to the problem.  In fact, on April 23, the Coast Guard was still claiming there was no leak.

Last week, Louisiana lawmakers including Gov. Bobby Jindal pointedly criticized the federal government’s slowness in committing quantifiable resources to containing the spill. 

Furthermore, Ron Gouget, who formerly managed the oil spill recovery department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has made the point that there has been an oil spill clean-up plan on the books since 1994, but federal officials took a full week before attempting to execute that plan.  This is partly because, despite this standing plan, the federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand to execute it.

Even the liberal New York Times has called the timetable of the government’s response “damning”.  

The Obama Administration now faces dual challenges in the Gulf and in Arizona. If it misunderstands and fails to respond effectively to these challenges, it could suffer an equally serious loss of public support.
 
The Future of Offshore Development

This analysis does not in any way exclude British Petroleum (BP) from responsibility.

Even though the rig was owned and operated by a private contractor and the cause of the explosion and equipment failure is not yet known, BP has rightly pledged to pay for the Gulf spill’s cleanup. 

The spill will cause enormous environmental and economic damage to the Gulf region.  Worst case estimates suggest that the spill could reach the East Coast.  Millions of Americans who make their living from the ocean will be affected. 

However, despite this disaster, it is clear that offshore development must continue. 

In fact, it must expand.

The spill, while tragic, does not change any of the underlying facts about America’s current or future energy and national security needs:

• Offshore drilling is still a viable source of new jobs for a struggling economy.  One study shows that expanded offshore drilling could create as much as a million new jobs a year over the next three decades
• Offshore drilling is still a key source of potential revenue for states struggling to balance their budgets.  In 2009, offshore drilling generated more than $2.7 million for Gulf states, as well as nearly $1 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund;
• Offshore drilling is still an essential component of a strategy to supplant the 11 million barrels of oil per day ($935 million) we import from other countries, including dangerous dictatorships that fund terrorism.

This is why the cynical attempts from the left to use this disaster as an excuse to stop all development in the Gulf and elsewhere are so misguided.

There are over 3,500 oil platforms in the gulf producing 1.2 million barrels a day.  They support tens of thousands of jobs, with about 35,000 workers engaged in Gulf offshore activities at any one time.  At the current price of $85 a barrel, shutting down all offshore drilling in the Gulf would force us to send an additional $102 million every day to foreign countries.  That number will only increase as the summer approaches.

Those analysts who note this was the first American offshore well disaster since 1969 indirectly make the case for continued development. A once in 41-year event is something to be prepared for, not something that should be allowed to increase our dependence on foreign dictatorships for energy.

Similarly, those who point to the Exxon Valdez spill often fail to note that shipping oil is more likely to lead to a spill than drilling.

Investigate. Fix.  Move Forward.

Ultimately, this is a question about the character of America.

Will our response to this disaster be to stop, litigate, and lose our nerve?

Or will it be the historic American response to challenges such as these: investigate, fix, and move forward with a safer system than before? 

When two airliners collided over the Grand Canyon in 1956 with disastrous fatalities, followed by two similar accidents in 1958, the answer was not shutting down the commercial airline industry.  The answer was developing the air traffic control system which has made commercial air travel much, much safer than driving a car.

After the 1979 incident at Three Mile Island nuclear plant, an independent commission was appointed to investigate exhaustively the cause of that event.  The response was not to abandon nuclear power, which produces 20% of electricity in the United States.
After the levees failed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, an independent investigation determined that new levees should have specific engineering upgrades, more erosion protection, and that there should be better communication between the federal and local governments. The response was not to force residents to abandon New Orleans forever.

Similarly, we should take the BP disaster very seriously.  Yesterday, American Solutions called for an independent commission to investigate the spill, paralleling the commissions that investigated Three Mile Island and the Challenger explosion.

Those who favor offshore development must respond with greater intensity than those who oppose development and have the luxury of unthinking opposition with no thought to the economic and national security consequences.

We should support a vigorous investigation that determines what investments could have avoided it and what the most effective cleanup system would have been.  And then we should support a lean, effective government to implement those findings.

Effective Government, not Big Government

The Founding Fathers were for limited but effective government.

Peter Drucker, the great information age management expert, warned again and again that big government was inevitably bureaucratic and ineffective.

Alvin and Heidi Toffler have repeatedly warned that government is getting slower while the modern world is getting faster.

I have written and spoken before about how government has become the fourth recent bubble (after IT, housing, and the derivatives market — it is overleveraged, underperforming, and fundamentally dishonest about its underlying stability. The collapse of the government bubble will be even more disruptive than the previous three.

More and more, we are seeing that ever growing government is no longer just a threat to our wallet; it is a threat to our personal safety. Both in Arizona and the Gulf, we are being reminded that a massive federal government has been massively ineffective.

A limited federal government can better focus attention and resources on its core responsibilities, which absolutely include controlling the border and large scale disaster recovery.

It is time to reform Washington by returning power and responsibility back to the state and local governments. 

Your friend,

Newt