The confirmation in December that former CIA Director Leon Panetta let classified information slip to “Zero Dark Thirty” screenwriter Mark Boal during a speech at the agency headquarters should result in a criminal espionage charge if there is any truth to Obama administration claims that it isn’t enforcing the Espionage Act only against political opponents.
I’m one of the people the Obama administration charged with criminal espionage, one of those whose lives were torn apart by being accused, essentially, of betraying his country. The president and the attorney general have used the Espionage Act against more people than all other administrations combined, but not against real traitors and spies. The law has been applied selectively, often against whistle-blowers and others who expose illegal, corrupt government actions.
After I blew the whistle on the CIA’s waterboarding torture program in 2007, I was the subject of a years-long FBI investigation. In 2012, the Justice Department charged me with “disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities.” I had revealed no more than others who were never charged, about activities — that the CIA had a program to kill or capture Al Qaeda members — that were hardly secret.
PHOTOS: From the Fed to GM, 5 top-tier women trying to fix man-made messes
Eventually the espionage charges were dropped and I pleaded guilty to a lesser charge: confirming the name of a former CIA colleague, a name that was never made public. I am serving a 30-month sentence.
Before and during World War II, hundreds of thousands of German Jews seeking safe harbor in the U.S. were unceremoniously turned away and returned to certain death in the Nazi Holocaust.
“Never again,” has been the popular refrain for Jews ever since.
Jews had to found a well-defended state of their own to protect themselves against similar horrors.
Maybe the next time it will be Christians.
Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Harold Ramis, one of America’s greatest satirists, and like so many other comedic geniuses, a proud product of Chicago’s Second City. When we watched his movies - from “Animal House” and “Caddyshack” to “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog Day” - we didn’t just laugh until it hurt. We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings. Our thoughts and prayers are with Harold’s wife, Erica, his children and grandchildren, and all those who loved him, who quote his work with abandon, and who hope that he received total consciousness.
Seriously, this President is one of us.
Have you seen this one?
“Basically I’m here to announce that we’re building Iron Man,” he said, drawing laughs at a White House event. “I’m going to blast off in a second.”
“Not really. Maybe. It’s classified,” he joked.
Knowing what comic books the Prez collects, I know what that suit would look like:
I have seen for myself what solar is like to try and implement at a sizeable commercial location. Unfortunately the issues overcame the advantages, and I’d like to share why, and add the context of the LA Times article. This is not a merely an anecdote. This is an example of where solar became impractical. The location I refer to is a large outdoor recreational facility with limited night use and just two buildings. One point of sales office and one retail store. Both are the size of a small house or less.
What I learned is that if you are building up from scratch, you can design your systems for unstable sources like solar and wind power. Your design includes the regular 24 hour a day reliable grid and can handle spikes and drops in your installation.
For a company to make that kind of a commitment the whole thing needs to be as solid as say how other utilities are like water and gas. The final deal killer was we could not get the assurances from our existing electrical provider to move forward.
If however you are trying to upgrade an older building, particularly commercial buildings you have a hornets nest of considerations unless you are very, very solid for cash resources. Even with the tax breaks and incentives.
There are a few solar business models that are proposed, from zero cost and discounted electricity to the opposite. The install and hardware is free.
Another model is where you bear the hardware and install costs and enjoy the tax breaks in full, and have your electricity for just the cost of maintaining your system. And of course there are models that borrow bits from each and split the incentives, the burden and the monies.
You probably know that already. What you might not know is how costly the upgrade to your existing 110v systems are. And that becomes the problem. That will almost surely escalate the permits required which will escalate the requirements, which raises costs that are not subsidised.
Add the less than rock solid reputation or stability of the solar installers and equipment makers and you have some serious thinking to do. The negatives are adding up as fast or faster than the upside.
And so we come back to the old wisdom of upgrades and expansion. The pioneers get the arrows the settlers get the farms. Maybe. If you adopt solar today you are more of a pioneer than a settler. As a progress report we have a mixed conclusion. The future prospects look good, but that can be said of so many alternative energy sources it’s a distant & uncertain forecast.
I’m not done, just waiting out the arrows. One day that facility will go alternative energy.
Five years after the Obama administration’s renewable energy initiative touched off a building boom of large-scale solar power plants across the desert Southwest, the pace of development has slowed to a crawl, with a number of companies going out of business and major projects canceled for lack of financing.
Of the 365 federal solar applications since 2009, just 20 plants are on track to be built. Only three large-scale solar facilities have gone online, two in California and one in Nevada. The first auction of public land for solar developers, an event once highly anticipated by federal planners, failed to draw a single bid last fall.
“I would say we are in an assessment period,” said Amit Ronen, director of the George Washington University Solar Institute. “Nobody’s going to break ground on any big new solar projects right now — utilities want to see how farms coming online this year fit into the grid, and developers are waiting for more certainty about state policies and federal tax credits.”
Utilities had been willing to pay more because many states, including California, require them to derive a significant percentage of their power from renewable energy sources. But now utilities in many states are on track to meet those requirements, giving them less incentive to buy higher-priced solar energy —especially as a steep decline in natural gas prices has cut the cost of power from gas-fired generators.
WASHINGTON — The world’s most expensive science project — the $100-billion-plus International Space Station — is poised to get four more years in orbit. According to documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, NASA plans to announce this week that it has White House approval to extend the station’s operations through 2024.
The decision follows years of pressure by top NASA officials, who consider the station a crucial steppingstone to future exploration. But a four-year extension probably would cost NASA about $3 billion a year from 2021 to 2024. That’s a major chunk of the agency’s annual budget of about $17 billion, and a longer mission could force NASA to make tough financial decisions in the future.
The Obama administration’s approval, however, doesn’t guarantee that the station, which has been continuously occupied since 2000, will survive past its current end date of 2020. At some point, Congress must approve a NASA budget that includes an extension of the station’s life. The plan also must get the support of whoever wins the White House in 2016, though the backing of President Obama now might make it harder for the next administration to say no.
Today, the Obama administration announced that people whose insurance plans were cancelled this year will “temporarily” be exempted from the law’s individual mandate. Here’s how they’re doing it — and what it means for the law.
This puts the first crack in the individual mandate. The question is whether it’s the last. If Democratic members of Congress see this as solving their political problem with people whose plans have been canceled, it could help them stand against Republican efforts to delay the individual mandate. But if congressional Democrats use this ruling as an excuse to delay or otherwise defang the individual mandate for anyone who doesn’t want to pay for insurance under Obamacare, then it’ll be a very big problem for the law.
This is paged to discuss the website rollout. Not the ACA itself. All bold is my addition. I tend to think CBS overplays this. Few critics if any want to admit that there are no contemporary examples of a really smooth rollout of a website in this complex atmosphere of 50 states, HIPAA and laudable goals for change.
What say you?
In an in-depth investigation into the implementation of the president’s health care law, the paper’s reporters describe the creation of a jalopy built by a deeply flawed system. The problems piled up over years, flowing from both Republican obstructionism and the hyper political sensitivity of the Obama administration. This mix led to decisions based on politics instead of efficiency, which created the complexity and delay that contributed to the problems the president is scrambling to fix today.
Healthcare.gov’s collapse touches on the big issues of the Obama administration because the website represents a multiyear effort to implement the president’s greatest vision. As the Washington Post outlines, three years before the site became an embarrassment, the seeds of its destruction were evident. The ingredients are familiar: partisan hurdles thrown up by the GOP, the jumpy political instincts of administration aides, administration insularity, spin that borders on deception, bureaucratic clots, and the bold and sprawling scope of the project. The question at the heart of this story—and, in a sense, of the entire Obama administration—is, what percentage of each element contributed to the ultimate outcome?
The hero of the Post narrative is David Cutler of Harvard, an Obama adviser who wrote a four-page memo in 2010 outlining a number of structural flaws he saw in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Many of those structural flaws led to the public mess we’re now witnessing. “I am concerned that the personnel and processes you have in place are not up to the task, and that health reform will be unsuccessful as a result,” he wrote to the president’s top economic adviser, Larry Summers. The memo would seem to refute those who suggest that the failure of healthcare.gov is simply the kind of rocky rollout that attends any product launch.
The problems were deep and predictable. Cutler suggests one big flaw was that there was no central person leading the charge who had experience implementing anything of that size and complexity in the nongovernmental world. This critique gets to the heart of the question about the difference between campaigning and governing. The modern political campaign is seen as a proxy for governing. For most of American history, it was seen as the opposite, because the talents of one often have little to do with the other. Can the team that runs a successful campaign—whether it’s for office or selling a piece of legislation—also run a successful product launch? If the team members can’t, do they know enough to bring in a person who can? When healthcare.gov imploded, the president knew to call in the experts and put a seasoned troubleshooter at the head of the cleanup effort. Why wasn’t that done before?
Quoted in entirety, because it’s mine.
Okay, since I only hit FB about once a month, I decided to make it worth it.
This is the post when you unfriend me. ;)
PRO-CHOICE: Note the second part of that hyphenated word. “Choice.” Personally, I believe one should choose life, but my beliefs should not hold true for everyone. It’s a choice.
NO GOD IN GOVERNMENT: The USA was made to be welcoming to everyone, no matter their race, religion, or beliefs. People may be motivated by their personal religious beliefs, but there’s no acid test for religion built into the Constitution. (All you folks who want to reforms laws to a “Biblical standard” should probably contrast and compare that idea with “sharia,” because you’re talking the same damn thing.)
OBAMA IS NOT THE DEVIL: In fact, he’s a hyper-conservative Democrat, or a slightly liberal Eisenhower Republican. Take a moment to read/watch some history.
OBAMACARE IS NOT THE DEVIL: In fact, will probably not affect most people reading this. It just makes healthcare more available to people who couldn’t get it before. The “no block for pre-existing conditions” has been a boon for dozens of my friends already. It’s a Republican health plan by the Heritage Foundation, implemented as Romneycare in Massachusetts, and works fine. Quit bitching.
THE NSA: Really, everyone should stop talking about it and its leaks. For the most part, it’s simply real-politik, and for the other part is people yammering on about secret clearances and intercepts they know nothing about. Here’s some facts:
* The Obama administration is better with the FISA court than the Bush admin.
* The whole clearance thing breaks down into secret (general stuff), top secret (most stuff), and compartmentalized secret (specific stuff). There is almost no one who has access across the board.
* The whole job of the org is to listen for threats. And some are bitching about that basic idea? Ridiculous.
WE SPEND TOO MUCH ON DEFENSE, AND NOT ENOUGH ON INFRASTRUCTURE: Not only that, but we spend too much money on the wrong things in defense. Sure, it’s nice to have a spiffy new bomber, but I’d rather our soldiers on the ground have better body armor. My opinon: we need a new WPA movement to help fix our crumbling railways, bridges, roadways, and electrical grid. That’ll make us more resilient to attack or natural disaster.
QUIT BITCHING ABOUT UNIONS: Unions helped make this country stable from about 1920 to 1970, providing working people with a living wage and protections. Yes, unions got a little wacky in the early 70s, but that’s a call for reform, not elimination.
READ/VIEW MORE THAN ONE SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Never rely on a single paper/channel/show to give you the truth. Read outside of it. Read the opposing view. Get all the facts, and make your own decision.
The Associated Press ran a skeptical piece Sunday about the Obama administration’s public case for military intervention in Syria in response to a reported Aug. 21 chemical attack.
The AP’s Zeina Karam and Kimberly Dozier wrote that “the U.S. government insists it has the intelligence to prove it, but the public has yet to see a single piece of concrete evidence produced by U.S. intelligence — no satellite imagery, no transcripts of Syrian military communications — connecting the government of President Bashar Assad to the alleged chemical weapons attack last month that killed hundreds of people.”
The Obama administration has released videos to make its case, but the AP noted that it’s requests for additional evidence the government claims to possess have been denied:
The Obama administration, searching for support from a divided Congress and skeptical world leaders, says its own assessment is based mainly on satellite and signals intelligence, including intercepted communications and satellite images indicating that in the three days prior to the attack that the regime was preparing to use poisonous gas.
But multiple requests to view that satellite imagery have been denied, though the administration produced copious amounts of satellite imagery earlier in the war to show the results of the Syrian regime’s military onslaught. When asked Friday whether such imagery would be made available showing the Aug. 21 incident, a spokesman referred The Associated Press to a map produced by the White House last week that shows what officials say are the unconfirmed areas that were attacked.
The Obama administration maintains it intercepted communications from a senior Syrian official on the use of chemical weapons, but requests to see that transcript have been denied. So has a request by the AP to see a transcript of communications allegedly ordering Syrian military personnel to prepare for a chemical weapons attack by readying gas masks.
The AP has been especially skeptical of the Obama administration’s claims, a reflection of how the media’s failure in the run-up to the Iraq War still lingers.
Last week, AP investigative editor Ted Bridis urged reporters and editors to “dive deep into questions about quantifying and understanding the U.S. government’s justification for military intervention in Syria, which increasingly seems inevitable,” according to a memo obtained by The Huffington Post.
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the use of chemical weapons in attacks on civilians in Syria last week was undeniable and that the Obama administration would hold the Syrian government accountable for a “moral obscenity” that had shocked the world’s conscience.
In some of the administration’s most strident language yet, Mr. Kerry accused the Syrian government of cynically seeking to cover up the use of the weapons, rejected its denial of responsibility for a “cowardly crime.”
Mr. Kerry’s remarks, in a prepared statement he read at the State Department, reinforced the administration’s toughening stance on the Syria conflict, which is now well into its third year, and he suggested that the White House, in consultation with America’s allies, was moving closer to a military response.
“The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity,” Mr. Kerry said.