Skip to main content

Good Morning!

Photo by: joanneleon.

Photo by: joanneleon.


Grateful Dead Breakout "Casey Jones" RFK 1992

News & Opinion

Wow. Three drone strikes on Thursday alone.  A festive holiday.  I think that makes eight drone strikes this week. Another detail has been revealed about the uncovered plot that has allegedly sparked this escalation of drone strikes -- the plot is "plot were reminiscent of the suicide attack on the USS Cole...".  There are a few other details revealed in this article, things that look like top secret classified info, from an anonymous "senior security official". Will he or she be charged with espionage? Capital crime of aiding the enemy?  Based on the feedback on Twitter and not surprisingly, some people in Yemen are really distressed and they have been distressed since this initiative began, but yesterday seems to have taken it to a new level.  Emptywheel has had a number of posts about it, wondering there is really something else going on. And I've seen a number of articles saying that this emergency in the Middle East has placed the NSA programs in a new context and made people realize why they are necessary, and a lot of discussions have resulted, about whether or not al Qaeda is really crippled and how it has morphed and is still a big threat.  

It almost feels like there has been a renewal of both the War on Terror and the Cold War with a side order of the new CyberWar in the past few weeks.  Also, the amount of information and level of detail that has been leaked (presumably administration sanctioned leaks, presumably top secret info) about this latest threat from AQ and what kind of surveillance was used and what was discovered.  I don't ever recall these kinds of disclosures so quickly before, especially when the same govt is arguing that Snowden's disclosures will cause terrorists to know how we intercept their communicaitons and how that is a grave threat to national security.

Yemen official: US drones kill 12 in 3 airstrikes

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The U.S. has sharply escalated its drone war in Yemen, with military officials in the Arab country reporting 34 suspected al-Qaida militants killed in less than two weeks, including three strikes on Thursday alone in which a dozen died.
The drone strikes have become a near-daily routine since they began July 27. So far, they have been concentrated in remote, mountainous areas where al-Qaida's top five leaders are believed to have taken refuge.

But drones also have been seen and heard buzzing for hours over Sanaa, worrying residents who fear getting caught in the crossfire.
Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale declined to comment Thursday and would not confirm the existence of a military drone program in Yemen. The CIA also declined to comment.
Details of the plot were reminiscent of the suicide attack on the USS Cole in 2000 in Aden harbor that killed 17 American sailors.

I thought this was snark when I first saw it.
The NSA Intends To Fire 90% Of Their System Administrators To Eliminate Future Leaks

(Reuters) - The National Security Agency, hit by disclosures of classified data by former contractor Edward Snowden, said Thursday it intends to eliminate about 90 percent of its system administrators to reduce the number of people with access to secret information.
"What we're in the process of doing - not fast enough - is reducing our system administrators by about 90 percent," he said.
Before the change, "what we've done is we've put people in the loop of transferring data, securing networks and doing things that machines are probably better at doing," Alexander said.

Well, I guess it's a good thing I don't work for the government. How long before all citizens will be reported for things like this and considered an insider threat? Oh wait, a "high threat".  But this is not at all like the Stasi.  How dare you make that comparison!  The game that DISA created is openly available online.   So it looks like Matt Sledge at HuffPo took a closer look at the insider threat program documents that were reported on by McClatchy some weeks ago, and checked out the "Cyber Challenge" game and did some further reporting on it.  HuffPo also contacted the Defense Dept. with some questions.
Unhappy With U.S. Foreign Policy? Pentagon Says You Might Be A 'High Threat'


DISA's test, dubbed the "CyberAwareness Challenge," was produced in October 2012, a month before the Obama administration finalized its Insider Threat policy. The slide about Hema is included in a section of the training about "insider threats," which are defined by an accompanying guide as "threats from people who have access to the organization's information systems and may cause loss of physical inventory, data, and other security risks."

Both Hema's travel abroad and her political dissatisfaction are treated as threat "indicators." Versions of the training for Defense Department and other federal employees are unclassified and available for anyone to play online.

"Catch me if you can," the training dares.

One of the things that can make someone an insider threat in that govt. agency program is if that someone "speaks openly of unhappiness with U.S. foreign policy". Cenk Uygar.
Disagree with U.S. Policy? You May be a 'High Threat' to the Pentagon

We're supposed to have freedom of speech in the U.S., but if you're a government employee, you might not. According to documents, federal employees are told to view coworkers as "insider threats" if they disagree with government policy, and this could even amount to treason. Is this the result of this administration's obsession with leakers? Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

So, is "target" another word that has been redefined by the intrepid intelligence community without bothering to tell Americans about it? Charlie Savage has a new piece in the NYT. This article got a lot of play yesterday.  I'm not sure if it was in yesterday's print version of if it will be in today's.

N.S.A. Said to Search Content of Messages to and From U.S.

To conduct the surveillance, the N.S.A. is temporarily copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most e-mails and other text-based communications that cross the border. The senior intelligence official, who, like other former and current government officials, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said the N.S.A. makes a “clone of selected communication links” to gather the communications, but declined to specify details, like the volume of the data that passes through them.
The official said the keyword and other terms were “very precise” to minimize the number of innocent American communications that were flagged by the program. At the same time, the official acknowledged that there had been times when changes by telecommunications providers or in the technology had led to inadvertent overcollection. The N.S.A. monitors for these problems, fixes them and reports such incidents to its overseers in the government, the official said.
“There is an ambiguity in the law about what it means to ‘target’ someone,” Mr. Edgar, now a visiting professor at Brown, said. “You can never intentionally target someone inside the United States. Those are the words we were looking at. We were most concerned about making sure the procedures only target communications that have one party outside the United States.”
The rule they ended up writing, which was secretly approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, says that the N.S.A. must ensure that one of the participants in any conversation that is acquired when it is searching for conversations about a targeted foreigner must be outside the United States, so that the surveillance is technically directed at the foreign end.

Americans’ communications singled out for further analysis are handled in accordance with “minimization” rules to protect privacy approved by the surveillance court. If private information is not relevant to understanding foreign intelligence, it is deleted; if it is relevant, the agency can retain it and disseminate it to other agencies, the rules show.

Greg Sargent at WaPo prints a statement from ACLU's Jameel Jaffer addressing the new revelations by Charlie Savage and his anonymous intelligence official.

Jameel Jaffer, a senior civil liberties attorney with the ACLU, emails over a comment on the above:

The program described by the New York Times involves a breathtaking invasion of millions of people’s privacy. The NSA has cast a massive dragnet over Americans’ international communications, collecting and monitoring all of them, and retaining some untold number of them in government databases. This is precisely the kind of generalized spying that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit.

The latest revelations will likely add to Congressional pressure for reform, which is likely to happen eventually, though how transformative it will be remains to be seen.

ACLU also issued a statement on their web site. Take note of the last paragraph.
NSA Casts Massive Dragnet Over Americans' International Communications

"The government's scrutiny of virtually every international email sent by Americans will have extraordinary consequences for free expression. Americans will inevitably hesitate to discuss controversial topics, visit politically sensitive websites, or interact with foreigners with dissenting views. By injecting the NSA into virtually every cross-border interaction, the U.S. government will forever alter what has always been an open exchange of ideas."

Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the government's surveillance program brought by the American Civil Liberties Union after the government contended that the plaintiffs' allegations of a dragnet surveillance program were speculative.

It looks like Lavabit, an email service, has shut down rather than comply with things that NSA/US govt require of them.  This is causing quite a big stir in the alternative media. We'll see if the corporate/state TV media orgs even touch it (Maybe we should change MSM to CSM). When Snowden set up a meeting with journalists at the airport in Moscow, he emailed a human rights activist, Tanya Lokshina, and she published his email address on Facebook.  That was not as long as six weeks ago though, so if this action was related to Snowden's email, it happened before she published that email address, but that's how we know he used Lavabit.  For all we know, it's happening to many service providers.  And if so, they can't talk about it. It's clear that Ladar Levison has been gagged.
Lavabit Shuts Down
My Fellow Users,

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

Ladar Levison
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC

Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund here.

Here are some comments over at Reddit about Lavabit shutting down.
Ladar is a real patriot; THIS is the decision more people in positions of authority need to make when confronted against the U.S. government's illegal and freedom-suppressing activities.
Thank you Ladar! I very much appreciate your decision.
This move was incredibly badass, no doubt, but how scalable is this course of action? Do you really expect Google to shut down services when confronted with an NSL?
They should. The economy would grind to a halt if Google stood up for freedom, but they don't have the balls or the sense to do it. It's easier for them to protect their empire by partnering with the government and ignoring the fact that they are complicit in compromising every one of their customer's personal liberties.
Kevin Poulsen has some interesting thoughts on the subject:
Court records show that, in March, Lavabit complied readily with a search warrant targeting a child pornography suspect in a Maryland case. That suggests that Levison isn’t a privacy absolutist. Whatever compelled him to shut down now must have been exceptional.
and from his Twitter account:
Lavabit ordered to (1) let FBI take over Snowden's account? (2) Send >Snowden a 0-day? (3) Something to do with Freedom Hosting? Lavabit was also a hosting company. I missed one obvious possibility. Freedom Hosting may have run its hidden services there.
Really frightening stuff. I feel bad now complaining to their support service about the frequent downtime in the last few weeks. (Edit: added links)
Given that this is NPR, and they've gone over to the propaganda side to a sad extent,  this is a BFD, I think.
Report: NSA Is Searching 'Vast Amounts' Of Americans' Emails

NSA spokeswoman Judith Emmel does not directly address the Times' reporting, but does tell the newspaper that "in carrying out its signals intelligence mission, NSA collects only what it is explicitly authorized to collect. ... Moreover, the agency's activities are deployed only in response to requirements for information to protect the country and its interests."

President Obama told NBC-TV's Jay Leno this week that "there is no spying on Americans."

"There Is No Spying On Americans" He actually said this with a straight face. Was that planned? Does he believe that himself?  Does he even know the difference when he's lying or when he's telling the truth anymore? Seems that when he tells the truth nowadays it's the anomaly.  Then he accused Russia of slipping back into a Cold War mentality.  Again, is this guy okay? Seems like there's some serious projection going on there because that's exactly what his administration has been doing. Putin's? Not so much. He made Snowden's asylum conditioned upon Snowden not releasing any more documents that would damage the U.S.  Does that sound like Cold War Russia?  

Another strange thing about the Leno appearance is that he emphasized that he'd be attending the G-20 summit in Russia in September.  Then the very next morning, the White House released the breaking news that he was canceling his one-on-one meeting with Putin during that summit.  Is mixed messaging, confliciting messages part of the plan to keep people confused and/or give everybody the thing they want to hear? Or are things like that just the result of an overloaded administration trying to keep too many balls and too many lies and too much spin in the air at any given time?

Obama To Leno: 'There Is No Spying On Americans'

President Obama defended the U.S. government's surveillance programs, telling NBC's Jay Leno on Tuesday that: "There is no spying on Americans."

"We don't have a domestic spying program," Obama said on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. "What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack. ... That information is useful."

Here is one segment (part 2) of the Leno appearance focusing on surveillance.  The first segment (part 1) has a lot about the situation in Yemen and terrorism.  This YouTube channel has it broken into six segments.  It's easy to find the rest of them of you have this one.  It's interesting to watch.  He talks the talk very well and always has.  If you don't know the details about the walk he actually walks, some of it would probably be quite believable.
President Barack Obama, Part 6 - The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Good thing I don't watch MSNBC anymore. To think I used to watch their evening shows almost every night... ugh. Mediate (quite a good site).  Is he for real? Are these MSNBC folks just losing it like the admin is or is this an act?  The impression I've gotten of O'Donnell over the years is that he doesn't have that much control over his emotions, so I think this might be real.  I'm sure he's got the admin and/or party talking points, but when pressed for a yes or no answer, I'd have to say no, this is not an act.  Julia Ioffe is expert on the subject, by the way. But she's also a grrrllll! so maybe that has something to do with it.  Who knows?  Has he been hanging out with @20committee or something or was he a member of the IC at some point? He sounds just like them.
Lawrence O’Donnell And New Republic‘s Julia Ioffe Scuffle Over Snowden

O’Donnell couldn’t believe what he was hearing, telling Ioffe Russia has “complete power over his every breath in that country.” Ioffe told him, “I think people who haven’t been to Russia tend to overestimate their abilities.” But what really set O’Donnell off was when Ioffe said Putin is not personally writing scripts for news anchors, merely sends a “signal” out to government-controlled media outlets.

O’Donnell half-shouted, “We’re getting absurd now!” Ioffe wryly asked, “Have you reported out of Russia?” O’Donnell shot back, “Let’s not be ridiculous about this!”, stating firmly, “The Kremlin owns them, Julia!”


Digby's commentary on O'Donnell's fit of... I don't know what... Cold War fever? Is she using the all caps word "MAD" in a double entendre way?  I hope this version of Digby stays around for awhile and that she doesn't start reporting on every incidence of "Mittens" or "Newtie" having toilet paper on their shoe again.  

You know, I grew up with the Cold War propanda too.  Every bad guy in every tv show or movie was a Russian or had a Russian accent.  All other foreigners had British accents no matter what country they were supposed to be from, it seemed, but the villains always had Russian accents, didn't they? I went through all of it.  But I also remember waking up to news on the radio about the fall of the USSR, and everything that came after in subsequent years.

I'm not afraid to watch RT as if it's some evil propaganda that will worm its way into my brain.  ZOMG, don't watch it!  I also remember when I was afraid to even pull up the Al Jazeera site on the web for fear I'd be tracked as some kind of terrorist and I didn't know much about AJ at all, but it was characterized as Terrorist TV just a decade ago.  And look what has happened now.  Qatar, who owns Al Jazeera, is our close ally (they were back then too, I thought, CENTCOM overseas headquarters have been in Qatar since 2002... but wtf?) During the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera English (AJE) was the "go to" channel and no longer a bomb target like it was under the Bush admin.  And now we've got Al Jazeera America (that's another story for another time and I will stick to AJE instead of Americanized AJ). Anyway, I've been digressing too much lately...  I think these MSNBC commentators and the hyperpartisans must have slept through all that, or something.  

Lawrence O'Donnell is MAD

I don't know where this Cold War nostalgia is coming from but it's so consistent among a certain set of MSNBC commentators, particularly those who are favorites of the administration, that I can't help but assume it's emanating from Democrats rather than the neo-con faction. The talking points are very consistent.

Honestly, I think a lot of these people like O'Donnell have been waiting all their adult lives to beat up on the Russians since they were forced to play the role of doves as youngsters and always felt emasculated by it. As for the younger liberal commentators I can only assume they watched some movies and have internalized Cold War propaganda but don't quite understand the details. Krystal Ball and Joy Reid and others seem to be of the opinion that the Soviet Union still exists and that an invasion of Czechoslovakia is imminent. But nothing compares to watching Lil' Luke Russert angrily proclaim that Putin is "sticking his finger in the eye of the United States."  I half expected him to take off his shoe and pound it on the table...

h/t to Digby: "Oh dear God, this is so great:  Julia Ioffe responds to O'Donnell in language even he should be able to understand. Thank you!"  See, I told you it might have something to do with the fact that she's a grrrrl!  Here's an excerpt, but it's really worth reading the whole thing and the way it flows, etc.
Dear Lawrence O'Donnell, Don't Mansplain to Me About Russia

[...]I am an expert on Russia. In fact, it is how you introduced me: "Previously, she was a Moscow-based correspondent for Foreign Policy and The New Yorker." I'm not going to toot my own horn here, but I was there for three years, I'm a fluent, native speaker of Russian, and, god damn it, I know my shit.

Which is why I wish you'd let me finish answering your bullshit question [...]

[She adds detailed answers here]

My main beef with O'Donnell is not that he wouldn't let me make these 11 points—because, let's face it, that's not what the TV is for—but that he did exactly the same shit Russians did to me when I was in Russia. They assumed that the U.S. and its government was one sleek, well-functioning monolith, that Obama was omnipotent, and that everyone in the world, including other important (and nuclear!) world leaders, act and must act as Russia demands it should, using Russian foreign policy calculus, and with only Russian interests in mind.

[...] And if you don't have the good sense and education or, hell, the reporting experience to know better, then just let the guests you invited on speak.

Otherwise, don't waste my fucking evening.

And another thing! Russia denies Visas to US Officials involved in Torture, including Yoo, Addington

A less remarked-on round in this game of tit for tat (which so far doesn’t rise to the level of being very serious) is the government’s decision last April to deny visas to American officials and former officials who had something to do with torture at Guantanamo, where Russian citizens have been held.

The Moscow Times reports

“The list of banned officials released by the Foreign Ministry in April included former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington, former U.S. Justice Department adviser John Yoo and various other Justice Department officials alleged to have violated Russian citizens’ human rights. United States Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson, the former head of the Guantanamo prison, was denied a Russian visa in January, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.”
I mostly think these prickly diplomatic snubs are most unhelpful and that both countries should take a deep breath and step back. But actually, the banning of US personnel involved with torture is only right, especially since the US government is never going to prosecute these monsters. You hope that Russian authorities are making sure not to replicate American mistakes.
Is it possible to create a situation even more f'd up than the one that brought down the economy the last time?  Why yes, yes I do believe it is not only possible, but part of the president's new plan.  I'd love to know which genius came up with this one.  Nominally it's a bipartisan plan by Senators Corker and Warner.  But I seriously doubt that's where it originated.  This article is by David Dayen.  Do read the whole thing.  He makes a complicated subject very understandable.
Obama's Plan for Fannie and Freddie Just Repeats Old Mistakes
A Home for Every American Family? No!

Imagine you have hundreds of millions of dollars in disposable income. (Congratulations!) You’re looking to find a safe place to keep it, and maybe earn a decent yield. Along comes a prospectus for a new product, to invest in the MBS Ice Cream Corporation. It comes from the same people who pitched you on MBS Ice Cream a few years ago, only they lied to you about the quality of their rancid ice cream, did nothing as the company imploded, and paid you back just pennies on the dollar when you sued them. Now, they want to sell you on this investment again, without any meaningful changes to the ice cream.

You used to be able to invest in Freddie & Fannie’s Sorbet, Inc., which the government backed with a guarantee. But that doesn’t exist anymore, so your alternative, if you’re a frozen dessert mogul, is MBS, where you'll have to take the losses yourself. You can take out insurance on the investment, but last time you did that the insurer couldn’t handle all the claims after MBS’s failure, and they went out of business.

I’m guessing that, given you’re a smart investor, you’d ask the government for some kind of subsidy, a little grease, to get you into MBS Ice Cream. Otherwise you’d be completely out of your mind to purchase it. And it seems pretty illogical for the government to have to pay you, a multi-million-dollar investor, to invest in an ice cream company. What’s so important about a robust ice cream manufacturing market that we have to bribe investors to fund it?

That’s basically the impulse behind President Obama’s plan, released yesterday, to subsidize the purchase of private-label mortgage-backed securities (MBS), the most corrosive financial product in the U.S. economy over the past 80 years. Obama, like many in Washington, is concerned about the massive $4.2 trillion portfolios of government-sponsored mortgage purchasers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the subsequent taxpayer risk if the market stumbles.
The boosters of these plans claim that explicitly insuring private capital against losses will lure investors back. First of all, that would make the system no different than Fannie and Freddie, just under a different name. [...]

I have very mixed feelings on this subject.  There are some very good points to be made about how real freedom might be the ability to rent and more easily move around. But I think it depends on the person and their situation.  There is definitely something special and deeply grounding to owning your home, creating special spaces, living there for years (especially when you have kids) that some of the people writing these articles, some of them are young and don't have children, for instance. But there are a lot of really good points being made about Americans putting everything into their homes and the way banks and servicers have abused homeowners, and how 30-year mortgages are hugely expensive, and how the economy is too dependent on the housing sector.  And I've been conditioned to believe that renting is throwing money away while you could be putting that same money toward the mortgage and owning the property. But so much of that monthly payment goes toward interest. There is a lot of psychology in that conditioning that doesn't make a lot of sense, I admit.  Anyway, more in this article.
Time to Rethink Home Ownership

The Obama administration's response to the housing problems that have plagued the country since the financial crisis struck have been, to put it mildly, underwhelming. As part of his series of speeches touting "middle out" economics, President Obama decided to give the issue another whack yesterday, this time focusing on the future of housing finance.

Obama deserves points for wading into one of the thorniest public policy issues out there. Though there is consensus that government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – which currently support almost 90 percent of the U.S. mortgage market – need to go, there is little agreement on what to replace them with. Dueling bills in the House and the Senate approach the problem in different ways, with the Senate preserving some federal role in the market, while the House, unsurprisingly, eschews federal support altogether. (John Griffith and Andrew Jakabovics of Enterprise Community Partners have a good brief on this, for those who want to get into the weeds.)

But the difficult questions regarding what to do with U.S. housing policy were made clear by the tension inherent in Obama's speech, which ultimately got bogged down by its adherence to two great American traditions that need to be re-thought: the benefits of home ownership overall and the existence of the 30-year mortgage.
Such rhetoric is a bipartisan tradition. President George W. Bush had his "ownership society," while President Bill Clinton had the "National Homeownership Strategy: Partners in the American Dream."  But what did the push for homeownership buy us, other than incentives for banks to prey on unwitting consumers and a mortgage bubble that burst with catastrophic consequences?

Brazilian Senators Don 'Snowden' Masks To Protest NSA Surveillance

During the fight over ACTA in Europe, you may remember that a key turning point was when Polish politicians donned Guy Fawkes "Anonymous" masks to show their disapproval of ACTA and its non-transparent process. We may have just had a similar moment down in Brazil. Glenn Greenwald, who testified before the Brazilian Senate concerning NSA surveillance, noted that a bunch of activists showed up at the Senate with Ed Snowden masks and some Senators borrowed the masks and wore them during the hearings. There don't appear to be any pictures of this yet (see update below), but there are some photos of the activists with the mask (thumbnail snippet below, click for the full version):

I often wonder if every generation of women (or every other) will have to relearn why safe, legal abortion is so critical.  If so, that's tragic.  It does seem like more young women are stepping up lately.  But it's still men who want to and do decide this fate, which is just so wrong.  If we can't have control over our own bodies and reproductive choices, we will never progress and instead will regress.  Many of the feminist generation who won these rights for us are retiring or will be passing away. Will there be enough more who will step up?  Even the Democratic party allows the rights to be eroded now, except when they want to pretend to be a champion of women just before the elections, riding on the laurels of party leaders and accomplishments of the past but not walking the walk.
The Anti-Abortion Agenda Explained (Here's a Hint: It's Not About Women's Safety)

Bryars' response: "Of course it is."

Finally an honest politician! Or at least an honest former political aide.

Bryars goes on to say:

"Our goal should remain, as Williams said, to make all abortion illegal and inaccessible in Alabama. And our strategy and arguments should always support that long-term goal…"

OMG, I'm shocked.  Thanks, Obama!  Bill Black: "So this, first, is a civil suit, not a criminal prosecution and even in the civil suit, the Dept. of Justice has refused to sue any of the senior officers, who according to this complaint, became wealthy through leading this massive fraud by Bank of America."
Bank of America Escapes Criminal Charges for Securities Fraud

This is just not credible at all. Tight deadlines? They've had five years to implement this.  And yet, when they wanted to cut taxes and make most of the Bush tax cuts permanent, they got that bill done in a couple of days, during the holiday season, and somehow the IRS implemented it immediately.  This is a disgrace.   And the "information security" excuse seems rather convenient given the news of the day.  They are saying that this might not affect the implementation but any further missed deadlines would.
Security concerns jeopardize October opening of health insurance marketplaces

WASHINGTON — The opening of the health insurance marketplaces in October – key to Obamacare – is in jeopardy because of looming questions about information security. The problem stems from tight deadlines that must be met to ensure the security of data moving through an information system that supports the marketplaces, sometimes referred to as exchanges, according to a new government watchdog report.

At a cost of $394 million, the federal data-services hub will route requests from the marketplaces to existing federal and state databases.

The Obama administration had expected Tony Trenkle, the chief information officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to decide Sept. 4 whether information routed through the hub was secure from hackers and identity thieves. But a new report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services says that decision now is expected Sept. 30, only a day before open enrollment on the marketplaces is scheduled to begin.

I think that Charles Blow is one of the best opinion writers at the NYT.  And I'm truly shocked to see this column of his about rising life expectancies without any discussion of the effect of poverty on life expectancies and the way that these averages don't tell the whole story and the way that the poor and minority population get screwed disproportionately when the 1% wants to bump these ages up. This column plays right into the hands of the people whose goal is to undermine the New Deal, raise retirement ages for Medicare and Social Security (again) and cut "entitlements".  This is a bad sign, imho, and a signal that the next blast of austerity or grand bargain propaganda is coming.  This fall is going to be hellish.
Radical Life Extension

The point is that we are living longer and our life expectancies are predicted to keep rising. This presents real challenges for us as a society and an economy.

So let me get this straight. The purpose of the legislation was reform for the big three Wall Street ratings agency monsters, and one of the ratings agency monsters wrote some of the bill? So basically, they've made it very difficult for any new competitors to get into the game, when bringing new players into the game was the very purpose of the bill.  The three ratings agencies that are paid by the banks whose products they rate, and who rubber stamped junk securities with a gold standard investment grade AAA rating that were really toxic assets and caused investors, including pension funds to be swindled, still dominate the industry and in 2011 rated 97% of the securities in the system.  And all of this as Wall Street and Wall Street's guy in the White House are preparing to reinflate the housing bubble and open up the mortgage backed casino again.  
Industry wrote provision that undercuts credit-rating overhaul

WASHINGTON — Moments before the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to overhaul the credit ratings industry seven years ago, Republican and Democratic sponsors took turns touting its promise for ending an entrenched oligopoly.

The bill, they said, should break the viselike dominance of three agencies – Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, Moody’s Investors Service and the smaller Fitch Ratings – in an industry that serves as a crucial watchdog over the nation’s financial system.

What’s escaped public scrutiny until now, however, is that the law’s tough criteria defining when a newcomer could join the industry weren’t written by Congress. They were crafted by a yet-to-be-identified official of one of the big three ratings agencies, a former aide to the Senate Banking Committee has told McClatchy.
The industry-written criteria, they say, weakened a law meant to spur competition in the estimation of the default risks of bonds and other securities. [...] Perhaps most importantly, little competition has emerged in rating the kinds of complex home-mortgage securities whose implosion led to the 2007 financial crisis. The market for those securities has shrunk, but it’s expected to rebound.

Here is the WaPo article about Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974, the day after he announced his resignation to be effective at noon on Friday.  
Nixon Resigns

By Carroll Kilpatrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 9, 1974; Page A01

Richard Milhous Nixon announced last night that he will resign as the 37th President of the United States at noon today.
While the President acknowledged that some of his judgments "were wrong," he made no confession of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" with which the House Judiciary Committee charged him in its bill of impeachment.
An hour before the speech, however, the President broke down during a meeting with old congressional friends and had to leave the room.

He had invited 20 senators and 26 representatives for a farewell meeting in the Cabinet room. Later, Sen. Barry M. Goldwater (R-Ariz.), one of those present, said Mr. Nixon said to them very much what he said in his speech.

"He just told us that the country couldn't operate with a half-time President," Goldwater reported. "Then he broke down and cried and he had to leave the room. Then the rest of us broke down and cried."



Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

The Evening Blues

More Tunes

Grateful Dead - Turn On Your Love Light (live at Woodstock 1969)

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site