Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Department of Homeland Security

The Feds are trying to regulate the Bitcoin – good luck

Senators attending this week’s hearing entitled “Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats and Promises of Virtual Currencies” being held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee already knew what they were going to hear: the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was going to make the case that

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The Messy First Day of Obamacare

This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013:

 

The president anticipated glitches when his key legislative centerpiece was rolled out on Tuesday, and he got them:

In the first week, the first month, the first three months, I would suspect that there will be glitches.

This is 50 states, a lot of people signing up for something. And there are going to be problems. And I guarantee you, there will be problems….

Even fawning CNN had to admit there were problems: “We tried in about 20 different states’ [exchanges]. In 12 of them we hit glitches. Sometimes it made it impossible to sign up. There were error messages….”

And then Obama had the chutzpah to compare the Obamacare roll out with the recent Apple roll out of its new operating system:

Consider that just a couple of weeks ago, Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system and within days they found a glitch, so they fixed it.

I don’t remember anybody suggesting [that] Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads or threatening to shut down the company if they didn’t.

There’s just one tiny problem with this analogy. I don’t remember any government agent holding a gun to my head forcing me to buy an iPhone.

But the Obamacare Kool-Aid has affected others, not just Obama. HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius called the glitches a great success:

We have had a few slowdowns, a few glitches, but it’s sort of a great problem to have. It’s based on the fact that the volume has been so high.

Unspoken is the assumption that Obamacare hits on exchange websites is so high because Obamacare is so popular. Isn’t that like saying that paying income taxes must be popular because so many people file income tax returns?

The problems were rife, all across the country. The moment New York’s new healthcare website was launched at 8AM, it crashed. Seekers “were greeted with error messages … [and] the links for employers, employees and brokers also experienced periodic problems,” according to CBS News. In California an insurance broker scheduled an appointment with two of his clients to be the first in the state to sign up for Obamacare, but had to cancel the appointment when he discovered that he wasn’t “approved” to sign them up, and he couldn’t tell his clients how much they would have to pay for the insurance anyway – the premium calculation bot wasn’t working. Besides, he learned later that his customers’ applications wouldn’t be received by the insurance companies for at least a month. Aside from that, things went well.

In Washington, DC, people trying to determine if they were eligible either for Medicaid or for subsidies to purchase insurance on its exchange will have to wait. In Vermont, that state’s exchange won’t be able to accept premium payments until sometime in the middle of November. In Oregon, only a few specially selected individuals were allowed to get online as its rollout was only a “beta test” – the real rollout would be taking place later.

The administration admitted that its own website was suffering a delay in its online shopping system for small business owners, along with a delay in its Spanish-speaking site. In Colorado, its exchange, Connect for Colorado, was forced to delay certain computer functions, and applicants had to call a hotline to complete the process. In Iowa there were no certified “navigators” to take those calls. Reuters noted that these glitches showed up in 24 of the state exchanges. Maryland’s exchange was delayed for four hours, and Minnesota said it would be late in the day when it would be able to confirm its connection to the federal data base.

So much for the triumphant start. As Joel Ario, a health care consultant who used to work at the Department of Health and Human Services, said: “Nobody is going to say we’re not starting on October 1st. But in some situations you have seen a redefinition of what ‘start’ means.”

Sarah Kliff, a writer for the Washington Post who has been tracking the Obamacare launch for months, said that yesterday wasn’t really “the big day” after all – it was just the beginning of a “soft launch”:

Instead, it’s January 1st, the day that the individual mandate takes effect and any plans purchased on the [exchanges] actually kick in.

The space between October and December is viewed … as a soft launch: the time to make the new web sites live, sort out the kinks and get the sites in prime condition for the beginning of 2014.

Enrollment started on Tuesday but any insurance purchased won’t become effective until January 1. And for those who delay, they have until March 15th to make their purchases or else be faced with paying a fine – oops, a tax, not a fee.

There are some other problems, too. According to the Kaiser Foundation, more than three quarters of those without insurance didn’t even know that the launch date was October 1st. And how about this for a marketing problem: the insurance companies will have to persuade healthy young people to buy insurance they don’t want in order to offset the costs of unhealthy people pouring into the system. Here’s how the Associated Press explained it:

One of the biggest challenges to the law’s success is the ability of insurers to persuade relatively young and healthy people to buy insurance as a way to balance the costs for the sicker people who are likely to get their coverage as quickly as possible.

Previous such rollouts have hardly been successful. When Massachusetts opened its version of Obamacare in late 2006, it took a total of 18 separate interactions – web visits, emails, or phone calls – before an individual could get coverage. After 9/11, the FBI tried – for 12 years – to upgrade its computer system. It began with its Virtual Case File system which was given up for lost in 2005 after $600 million of taxpayers’ money, in favor of its Sentinel system, which finally went live last year.

The task with Obamacare is equally daunting: hooking up the national databases at the Department of the Treasury (the IRS) and the Department of Homeland Security with each of the states’ exchanges. As James Pethokoukis, a writer for the American Enterprise Institute, asked: “What could possible go wrong?”

All of these glitches may be considered in another light: they build the case for a national single-payer health care system that would do away with insurance companies and those messy and confusing state exchanges. Harry Reid, bless his statist heart, was interviewed on Las Vegas’ PBS program “Nevada Week in Review” last month, and was asked “where do we go from here?” Reid, for once, was crystal clear:

What we’ve done with Obamacare is [take] a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever.

When pressed by one of the panelists about whether that meant that Obamacare was just one more step towards a single-payer, insurance- and exchange-free health care system run entirely by the government, Reid said: “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”

For totalitarians like Reid, Obama, Sebelius, and others, those glitches truly signify success after all.

————————–

Sources:

The Washington Post: Reports of problems precede launch of Obamacare

Associated Press: Under fire, ‘Obamacare’ going live — with glitches

The National Review Online: Obamacare: Wrong in Practice, Wrong in Theory

Reason.com: Eight Things That Could Go Wrong With Obamacare

The Washington Post: The White House says Obamacare begins on Oct. 1. Not really.

The Las Vegas Sun: Reid says Obamacare just a step toward eventual single-payer system

Politico: President Obama: Expect months of ‘glitches’

Reuters: Obamacare launch hits early hitch as web traffic snarls up sites

Associated Press: ‘Obamacare’ exchanges start up as gov’t shuts down

Politico: Obamacare D-Day becomes a soft launch

The Wall Street Journal: FBI Files Go Digital, After Years of Delays

Natural News: Obamacare exchanges hit with over 50 percent fail rate; feds claim the worse the glitches, the bigger the success!

Glitches, as Anticipated, Plague First Day of Obamacare

California insurance broker Jason Andrew planned to help a couple of his clients sign up for Obamacare on Tuesday, the first day of the federal health care roll out, but couldn’t, for two reasons: first, he hadn’t yet been certified by the state to do so, and secondly, he couldn’t get accurate quotes from the state exchange’s computer. Andrew just laughed it off:

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District Court Judge Rules New York City’s “stop and frisk” policy is unconstitutional

In District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin’s ruling in Floyd v. The City of New York on Monday, there was both good news and bad news. The good news is that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy, with the enthusiastic cooperation of his police commissioner Ray Kelly, violates both the Fourth and the Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The bad news is that,

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Backpacks, Pressure Cookers and Baloney

When Michele Catalano blogged yesterday using the title “Pressure Cookers, backpacks and quinoa, oh my!” it didn’t gain purchase until it was picked up by the Guardian. From there the story jumped to The Atlantic which, 24 hours later, had more than a third of a million views.

Catalano used to be the music editor for Forbes but now

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Blurring the Line between Police and Military

The Mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, Cheye Calvo, was taking a shower in his home late Tuesday afternoon, July 29th, 2008 in preparation for a meeting he had that night. He heard a loud explosion at the front door of his home followed by the screaming of his mother-in-law who

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Obama and Senate Democrats Win Huge Victory, GOP Emasculated

This article first appeared at McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 19th, 2013:

 

After months of stalling and threats of a filibuster against Obama’s radical nominees to various agency posts, Senate Republicans have given up and are letting President Obama nominate the devil himself, if he chooses.

In a surprisingly underreported event, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won a major victory in the Senate by threatening to

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Surveillance State to be Extended Nationally if NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly Replaces Napolitano at DHS

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013:

 

Although President Obama says he has many strong candidates to replace Janet Napolitano as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, it’s clear that NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly has the inside track. If Obama is determined to complete building the surveillance state nationally, Kelly is just the man

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NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly on Inside Track to replace DHS Napolitano

Within hours of Janet Napolitano’s announcement of her resignation as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security names of people to replace her surfaced, but none with the credentials of NYPD Commission Raymond Kelly. Or the political connections. Said Senator Charles Schumer:

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DHS’ Napolitano Leaves Legacy of Corruption, Lies, Lawsuits and Waste

Many were surprised at Janet Napolitano’s announcement that she was leaving her position as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the end of August to become President of the University of California. Chosen from more than 300 candidates vying for the position, Napolitano managed to keep her interest in, and her successful bid for, that position from the public until Friday.

She issued the usual departure appreciation statement:

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Is There an Agenda Behind an Insurance Company’s Unwillingness to Insure Schools with Armed Teachers?

This article first appeared at the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 24th, 2013:

 

When Bernie Zalaznik, the Resident Vice President of the Wichita Branch Office of EMC Insurance Companies sent a letter to Kansas school districts on May 15th, just two weeks before Kansas Law 2052 takes effect, alarm bells went off. The letter said:

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DHS Spokesman Waffles over Huge Ammo Purchases

At a hearing at the House of Representatives on Thursday a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did his best to defuse growing concerns about excessive purchases of ammunition for its 72,000 agents. These purchases were needed, said Nick Nayak, because of

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Those “dangerous fundamentalists” need to be watched

Ron Trowbridge is the Undersheriff of Prowers County, Colorado, located at the extreme southeast corner of Colorado, with a population of fewer than 20,000 souls. He decided to attend a training session in La Junta on April 1st, along with about 2o others, to learn about Sovereign Citizens and

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Furor over new Colorado law giving Secret Service agents police powers continues

The furor over the signing into law of Senate Bill 13-013 earlier this week by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper went viral following the publishing of an article by Mike Opelka at theblaze.com. Opelka suggested that the new law could be “used to

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Asa Hutchinson runs the NRA’s National School Shield Program

I’m intrigued by the people put into places of influence, wondering who they are and how they got there. More importantly, what  their background might portend for the program they’re heading up. Hutchinson, the man Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, tapped to lead its National School Shield Program, has an interesting background.

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Advice from the DHS: See an Active Shooter? Run and Hide

A 4-minute instructional video just released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “Active Shooter Situation: Options for Consideration” is filled with numerous suggestions for people confronting an “active shooter” such as

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A Rand Paul/Mike Lee Ticket for 2016?

Bernie Quigley, writing at the Pundit’s Blog for The Hill on Wednesday, considered the fiscal cliff bill that became the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) as a “touchstone…a benchmark…to mark the progress of history.” He considers the law as a

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Obama Spokesman Suggests the End of the War on Terror?

In a speech characterized by The Washington Post as “thoughtful,” Post writer Fareed Zakaria was inordinately hopeful that it signaled the beginning of the end of Washington’s 12-year-old War on Terror. He wrote that:

For the first time since Sept. 11, 2001, an administration official has sketched a possible endpoint…

Phasing out or modifying these emergency powers should be something that would appeal to both left and right.

Zakaria invoked the warning James Madison gave about the dangers of unending eternal warfare:

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes…

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Zakaria reviewed, perhaps too hastily for complete accuracy, some of the impact the war has had on America: bloated military budgets, new unconstitutional agencies (especially the Department of Homeland Security which now employs a quarter of a million people), the building of 33 new intelligence facilities in the Washington, D.C. area alone (equivalent to three Pentagons), an Afghan war that has cost trillions of dollars and nearly 60,000 American casualties related to the war on terror.

Zakaria was hopeful that Johnson’s speech was a turning point, that it signals the end of the war on terror, and that life in the US can return to normal:

It is a good idea that the United States find a way to conduct its anti-terrorism campaigns within a more normal legal framework, rather than rely on blanket wartime authority granted in a panic after Sept. 11.

That “blanket wartime authority” which was granted 7 days after the September 11 attacks, made passing and twisted reference to the Constitution, and then gave the president virtually unlimited power to prosecute the war. From that Joint Resolution:

Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens, and…

Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled…

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

What Zakaria saw in the speech which Jeh Johnson, the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, gave at the Oxford Union, Oxford University on November 30th, was this snippet:

But, now that efforts by the U.S. military against al Qaeda are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves: how will this conflict end?…

I do believe that on the present course, there will come a tipping point – a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al Qaeda and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, such that al Qaeda as we know it, the organization that   our Congress authorized the military to pursue in 2001, has been effectively destroyed.

At that point, we must be able to say to ourselves that our efforts should no longer be considered an “armed conflict” against al Qaeda and its associated forces…

And from that Zakaria concluded that this was “the possible endpoint” of the war on terror.

Unfortunately he didn’t read the rest of Johnson’s remarks. The essence of those remarks was that the war on terror was going to continue indefinitely, but without the name. In fact, less than two months after his first inauguration, President Obama ordered the Defense Department to refrain from using the phrase “War on Terror” and instead start calling it the “Overseas Contingency Operation” (COC).

Johnson’s credibility came into question within minutes of his opening remarks when he noted that he favored a quote from the pro-war Brookings Institution that motivates his public service: “The Founding Fathers believed in a democracy…”.(emphasis added)  From there on out his speech was a celebration of the success the military has had in putting into effect that “blanket wartime authority”:

We ended the combat mission in Iraq.

We increased the number of combat forces in Afghanistan and have reversed much of the Taliban’s momentum in the country…

We banned “enhanced interrogation techniques,” consistent with the calls of many in our country, including our own military, that great nations simply do not treat other human beings that way…

And, finally, we have, in a manner consistent with our laws and values, taken the fight directly to the terrorist organization al Qaeda, the result of which is that the core of al Qaeda is today degraded, disorganized and on the run. Osama bin Laden is dead. Many other leaders and terrorist operatives of al Qaeda are dead or captured; those left in al Qaeda’s core struggle to communicate, issue orders, and recruit.

At this point in his speech, Johnson might have suggested that it was time to pack up and go home: Job One is Done.

Not a chance.

There is still danger and there is still much to do.  Al Qaeda’s core has been degraded, leaving al Qaeda more decentralized, and most terrorist activity now conducted by local franchises…

So, therefore, in places like Yemen, and in partnership with that government, we are taking the fight directly to [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], and continually disrupting its plans to conduct terrorist attacks against U.S. and Yemeni interests.

We have made clear that we are not at war with an idea, a religion, or a tactic. We are at war with an organized, armed group — a group determined to kill innocent civilians.

The war on terror, or the Overseas Contingency Operation, or whatever Johnson now calls it, will continue:

Al Qaeda’s radical and absurd goals have included global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate, terrorizing the United States and other western nations from retreating from the world stage, and the destruction of Israel. There is no compromise or political bargain that can be struck with those who pursue such aims.

In the current conflict with al Qaeda, I can offer no prediction about when this conflict will end…

It’s too bad that the writer from The Washington Post didn’t read the rest of Johnson’s speech. It was hardly a signal that the war on terror was ending. It was instead a confirmation that it will continue indefinitely into the future.

 

 

 

Obama, Yes! Freedom, No!

John Stossel

John Stossel (Photo credit: C o l i n)

John Stossel is about as pessimistic as I’ve seen him. Freedom lost last Tuesday. Totalitarianism got stronger:

Some people with records of supporting liberty were elected: Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona and U.S. Reps. Justin Amash and Kerry Bentivolio in Michigan and Thomas Massie in Kentucky…

Also, Washington and Colorado voted to allow any adult to use marijuana…

But overall, the results were bad for freedom.

He says we should “fix” government the way we “fix” our cats and dogs: spay them, neuter them.

How does he propose to do that? Term limits! That’ll work, you bet:

Term limits would be good. When we give politicians power, they should know they don’t get to keep it forever. They have to bring that power right back to us and drop it at our feet. “Good boy. Now go back outside!”

But don’t we already have term limits: two years for members of the House, six years for members of the Senate, four years for the President? How is that working?

Stossel thinks that, for the moment, gridlock will

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New High-Tech Body Scanners Courtesy of the CIA

English: Millimeter wave technology. Gen 2 sca...

Millimeter wave technology. Gen 2 scanner manufactured by Brijot of Lake Mary, Fla. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest piece of terrifying technology, the Picosecond Programmable Laser scanner from Genia Photonics, will be able to identify gunpowder residue on an individual’s shoes, and what he had for breakfast along with his adrenaline levels, according to the anonymous author of Gizmodo.com.

The portable unit, about the size of a breadbox, is described as “robust” and “mobile,” meaning it could not only be used in airports to supplement  the invasions of privacy already being performed by the TSA but also in mobile units, such as police cruisers, roaming the streets, looking for suspicious “wavelength patterns and sequences.” According to anonymous:

The machine is ten million times faster—and one million times more sensitive—than any currently available system. That means that it can be used systematically on everyone passing through airport security, not just suspect or randomly sampled people…

The small, inconspicuous machine is attached to a computer running a program that will show the information in real time, from trace amounts of cocaine on your dollar bills to gunpowder residue on your shoes. Forget trying to sneak a bottle of water past security—they will be able to tell what you had for breakfast in an instant while you’re walking down the hallway.

All of this is being provided through a grant system set up in 1999 by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) when it was discovered that the agency was falling behind the technology curve and decided to do something about it. According to the CIA:

By the 1990s, however, especially with the advent of the World Wide Web, it is the commercial market that is setting the pace in IT [information technology] innovation. And, as is the nature of a market-based economy, the flow of capital and talent has irresistibly moved to the commercial sector, where the prospect of huge profits from initial public offerings and equity-based compensation has become the norm.

In contrast to the remarkable transformations taking place in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, the Agency, like many large Cold War era private sector corporations, felt itself being left behind. It was not connected to the creative forces that underpin the digital economy and, of equal importance, many in Silicon Valley knew little about the Agency’s IT needs. The opportunities and challenges posed by the information revolution to the Agency’s core mission areas of clandestine collection and all-source analysis were growing daily. Moreover, the challenges are not merely from foreign countries but also transnational threats [such as drug cartels].

And so, in coordination with Congress which provided some start-up funds, a quasi-private venture capital company was set up, called In-Q-Tel, with major intellectual input provided by

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.

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