Audit Reveals Huge Security Gaps In USDA Data Network

An audit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Universal Telecommunications Network released Thursday by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reveals that almost half of the independent contractors sourced through an agreement with AT&T to manage the USDA’s data network do not have security clearances.

That shortcoming, the audit advised, leaves both beneficiaries of USDA programs (such as food stamps), as well as the agency itself, open to theft, abuse, sabotage and error.

The audit placed part of the blame on AT&T for failing to install “required network security features” and noted that “inadequate and outdated” billing practices, in combination with insufficient security checks, had led to $1.9 million in improper billing. It also fingers the USDA’s Chief Information Officer’s office for neglecting to enforce the terms of the $350 million contract to ensure the government was getting its money’s worth.

From the summary:

The White House Is Starting To Take Obama Impeachment Threats Seriously

The White House on Friday said that it is taking Republican threats to impeach President Barack Obama seriously. White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer said that the threat of Obama impeachment would increase if the President takes executive actions to keep illegal aliens in the country.

“The President acting on immigration reform will certainly up the likelihood that [Republicans] would contemplate impeachment at some point,” Pfeiffer told attendees of a breakfast forum hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.

Obama’s longtime advisor also told the audience that the days of the Administration laughing off impeachment talks have ended, with the President’s dismal polling numbers and a lawsuit against Obama promised by House Speaker John Boehner.

Polling data out this week from CNN/ORC reveals that 33 percent of Americans support the idea of impeaching the President and 41 percent said that the House GOP should move forward with a lawsuit against Obama.

But, according to The Monitor, Boehner denied that his suit was designed to set the wheels of impeachment in motion.

“This is a fundraising exercise for Democrats,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told the outlet. “It is telling, and sad, that a senior White House official is focused on political games, rather than helping these kids and securing the border.”

Report Questions Motives Behind Post-Midterm Timing Of Obama Administration’s Next Wave Of Regulations

A new report from the American Action Forum (AAF) suggests President Barack Obama may have had this year’s midterm elections in mind when coordinating the implementation of a bevy of new environmental, health, finance and labor regulations.

“After reviewing the administration’s most recent agenda of federal rulemakings, it appears there are at least 15 major regulations scheduled for release after the upcoming midterms,” AAF wrote in a report released Thursday. “Combined, just six of these rules could impose more than $34 billion in costs.”

AAF, which describes itself as a “center-right policy institute,” noted the $34 billion estimate may be a very conservative one. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ground-level ozone standards plan, scheduled to be published in December of this year, “actually does not have an attached cost,” AAF noted, observing that the same standards, which Obama vetoed in 2011, were projected at the time to cost $90 billion.

The report acknowledges that many of these regulations have been in the works for a long time. However, the White House has already demonstrated — as it is now doing with the EPA’s controversial carbon proposals, which are still in the public comment phase — that it may have had politics in mind, all along, by coordinating with Federal agencies to ensure unpopular policies won’t be enacted until after Election Day.

Senate NSA Bill Could Come As Early As Next Week

A Senate compromise on how the government should dial down its out-of-control surveillance could be revealed as early as next Tuesday, according to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy.

Leahy (D-Vt.) says that the bill, which is “within inches” of completion, would place “clear cut guidelines” on what the Nation’s intelligence gatherers “can and cannot do” while also offering measures to ensure that “the American people know that their privacy is going to be protected.”

Leahy sponsored the Senate version of the House USA Freedom Act, which was passed by lawmakers in the lower chamber earlier this year. The Senator, however, has vowed that his version will include stronger reforms than the bill passed in the House, which was disavowed by many supporters after lawmakers watered it down.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation told supporters in May:

Ben’s (And Barry’s) Big Huge Week

political cartoon

Taylor Jones, Politicalcartoons.com

While settling into my new Friday digs here at Personal Liberty Digest™, I realized that I have a lot more information through which I must sift before chucking it all to type out 1,500 words on why I’m worried that my computer’s spell-checker recognizes “Kardashians,” but has never heard of “Angela Merkel.” Perhaps the next Microsoft Office® update will include the new National Security Agency “European allies” database. Actually, spending an entire week watching headlines scroll by gave me not only a sense of the sheer enormity of what nearly 7 billion people are capable of doing in seven days, but the monstrous nature of those who would purport to rule those 7 billion.

That’s right, kiddies. While you watched President Barack Obama eat hamburgers, crack a few “jokes” and then hit the links at Fort Belvoir, some serious stuff transpired. But don’t worry; I’m on it. And if Obama misses this piece, he’ll hear all about the stories behind it when he catches up with his designated newsgatherers. I think they’re sneaking in a quick chat three Tuesdays from now in Martha’s Vineyard — after the morning mom jeans fitting and before the afternoon bike ride.

Maine Governor Curbs Public Assistance To ‘Able-Bodied’ Recipients Unless They Work

Acting on the order of Republican Governor Paul LePage, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the State would stop administering Federal food stamp benefits to capable residents who do not hold jobs, receive job training or do volunteer work.

In a statement, the Governor explained his rationale, saying people in need “deserve a hand up, but we should not be giving able-bodied individuals a handout… We must protect our limited resources for those who are truly in need and who are doing all they can to be self-sufficient.”

According to Portland NBC affiliate WCSH-TV, the new rule, set to take effect on Oct. 1, applies to adult food stamp recipients who do not claim any dependents. It will require them to work or volunteer for 20 hours per week in order to continue receiving food stamps, now formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Recipients can also meet the requirement by participating in the Maine Department of Labor’s Competitive Skills Scholarship Program, which trains residents in developing practical job skills.

The SNAP program is funded by the Federal government but is administered by the States. LePage’s plan would affect approximately 12,000 Maine residents.

FEC Commissioner Warns Of Government Mission Against Conservative Media

This week, Federal Elections Commission Chairman Lee Goodman called out Democratic colleagues for making attempts to regulate book publishing by conservatives. The FEC attempts are only the latest in a series of government maneuvers to tamp down on conservative media.

The criticism came after Democrats on the FEC attempted to deny Representative Paul Ryan’s leadership PAC, Prosperity Action, the ability to buy copies of the book written by the Republican lawmaker from Wisconsin — The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea — to give away to supporters.

Washington Examiner explains:

In the case of the Ryan book, publisher Grand Central Publishing sought the broad media exemption from regulation, but Democrats rejected that and pushed for a different, commercial, exemption that imposes rules over the publisher’s politics and book pricing. Republicans went along and the commission approved that 6-0.

The commission also ruled that while Ryan can have his campaign and PAC buy books to give out, the promotion on his websites has to be limited to two sentences. There were concerns raised by Weintraub that Ryan was trying to profit off sales of the book promoted on his websites. Republicans carried that to victory in a 4-2 vote.

Robbers Use Gun On Gun-Free Campus To – What Else? – Rob Four Ohio Students

Guns are forbidden on the campus of the private Case Western University in Ohio, so it has some built-in value as a safe place for anybody with criminal intent against person and property.

Over the weekend, three guys concealed their faces with hoodies and bandannas, came into a common area for on-campus housing, pulled out a handgun, and robbed four unlucky (and obviously unarmed) students.

The affair took place in the middle of the day Saturday. No one was injured and, according to a reporter for the Northeast Ohio Media Group, “most of” the victims’ possessions were recovered at a nearby house.

Case Western responded predictably, issuing a statement the following Monday saying “we feel compelled to take significant immediate, short- and long-term action to increase security on campus.” The short-term answer was to place a security guard in Wade Commons, the group area where the robbery occurred and to order keycard-activated locks.

Long-term steps involve installing a door buzzer and security camera, as well as to “assess the university’s entire 500-acre campus’s perimeter, which borders several economically stressed neighborhoods in Cleveland and East Cleveland,” according to a follow-up report.

There was no mention of reevaluating the university’s gun policy.

Lawmaker: Ivory Ban Could Lead To Confiscation Of Antique Guns, Instruments

A Tennessee Senator is worried that a new Obama Administration Fish and Wildlife Service mandate aimed at stopping the trade of ivory could lead to the confiscation of antique firearms and other goods.

“For those of us who are concerned that this administration is trying to take away our guns, this regulation could actually do that,” Senator Lamar Alexander (R) said Wednesday.

“If this regulation is approved, when you decide to sell a gun, a guitar or anything else across state lines that contains African elephant ivory, the government would actually take them away — even if you inherited them or bought them at a time when the sale of ivory was not illegal,” he added.

Gun owners along with musicians, whose antique instruments sometimes contain ivory, have argued against the rule which bars the trade of materials containing African elephant ivory. In addition to criminalizing the trade of legitimate antiques, musicians have complained that the law makes it more difficult for them to tour outside of the U.S. with antique instruments.

Obama Dinner Fire Sale: Price Of Seats Slashed At President’s California Fundraisers

President Barack Obama’s fundraising junket on the west coast has reportedly hit a wall, with per-plate prices for the Democratic fundraising dinners which he headlines tanking from a previous high of $32,400 to as little as $5,000.

That’s getting into hoi polloi territory.

Why the price cut? Donor fatigue, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“President Obama hit the Bay Area for a fast cash-and-grab fundraising drive Wednesday, but there were signs that even in one of the nation’s most reliable Democratic ATMs, donor fatigue is setting in,” the Chronicle reported this morning.

“Democratic donors who were invited to the San Francisco event, at the Four Seasons Hotel on Market Street, said they had initially been asked to donate as much as $25,000 to sit down with Obama. One who balked at the price said organizers had offered a cut-rate deal of as little as $5,000,” the report also revealed.

A San Francisco event also reportedly began offering tickets at a deep discount, even though similar events in the past have routinely enjoyed ticket prices of $32,400 per guest.

Send The Invasion Of Illegals To Beverly Hills And Georgetown

Hi! I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. The massive illegal immigrant invasion of our southern border is more than just a national crisis. It’s part of the greatest conspiracy in world history — a purposeful attempt to create catastrophe, overwhelm the system and force the American people to make a dreadfully wrong decision under duress.

Barack Obama wants our good-hearted Christian Nation to see women, children and families begging for help, begging to live the American dream. He wants immigrants to be in the worst possible shape after a long journey from Central America — starving, injured, diseased and in such terrible shape our hearts break and we agree to take them all in.

He is purposely creating a crisis, hoping to force us to overreact by agreeing not only to help these new arrivals, but to grant amnesty for 12 million other illegals already here.

He wants us to approve government expansion and billions of dollars in new spending. Will he use that money to “solve” the crisis? No! He’ll use it to pay for lawyers for each illegal immigrant (to prevent deportation) and to hand them billions of dollars in welfare, food stamps, aid to dependent children, education and, of course, free meals at school — all paid for by the middle class.

GOP Offers Immigration Proposals, Democrats Want Money Without Policy Change

Republican lawmakers are working to produce an alternative to President Barack Obama’s proposal to spend $3.7 billion in taxpayer money to deal with the illegal immigration crisis along the U.S.’s southern border. A GOP plan discussed Wednesday would provide less than half of the President’s requested funding (offset by budget cuts), increase border security and change U.S. immigration laws.

A key provision of the Republican plan would require changes to the 2008 anti-trafficking law that requires government officials to give special treatment to illegal immigrant children from Central America.

“We need to close the loophole in the current law that incentivizes trafficking and send a clear message to smuggling organizations while still maintaining all due process and legal protections for immigrants,” Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said in a statement.

House GOP lawmakers have introduced the proposals in hopes of passing border legislation before Congress leaves for a five-week recess set to begin July 31.

In addition to changing the trafficking law, the Republican plan would set aside $1.5 in spending to beef up immigration-related law enforcement and judicial resources. The GOP plan also provides a plan for National Guard deployment to strengthen security along the border.

Someone Finally Acknowledges Obama’s Transcendent Power Over The Moral Universe

In a spasm of progressive wordsmithing that may have inadvertently forged a new slogan for MSNBC, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, rhapsodically greeted President Barack Obama for a party fundraiser Wednesday by declaring that Obama is “bending the arc of the moral universe forward.”

Some of us understand metaphors and such; but, try as we might, we have no idea what this means. It vaguely sounds like something Jesus might have done.

For Inslee, evidently, worship is the idea. In a midterm election cycle that has seen incumbent Democrats divided over whether to acknowledge their President and risk offending voters who don’t approve of Obama or whether to run from him — even if it means skipping out on your own fundraiser to avoid having your picture taken with him — Inslee is all in.

With two years remaining before voters have the chance to elect another Governor (Inslee scraped by Republican Rob McKenna in the 2012 election), maybe Inslee feels like there’s time enough to disassociate from Obama when it counts.

The Governor’s paean to Obama came at the home of a Seattle real estate developer, where Obama himself took the mic to repeat his threat of executive action to circumvent obstructionist Republicans in Congress, comparing them with luddites who wouldn’t have sent a man to the moon.

Don’t Believe Those Lying Job Numbers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the United States gained 288,000 jobs in June, and Barack Obama couldn’t have been happier.

“Make no mistake,” he gloated. “We are headed in the right direction.”

What a crock! A closer look at the numbers proves that instead of the economy getting better, it is a disaster for people who lack a job and want one.

First, about those so-called job gains: It turns out the economy actually lost 523,000 full-time jobs last month. That’s an absolute tragedy! The only way the Obama Administration could claim any gains was because of an increase of 811,000 part-time jobs. And this is the “victory” that Obama wants to celebrate?

There are two reasons why employers are offering more than three times as many part-time jobs today as full-time ones. The first is because of Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act mandates that anyone working 30 hours a week or more must be provided with company-paid-for health insurance. More and more employers are hiring part-time workers to keep from falling under that legislation’s dictates.

Justice Kennedy Needs A History Lesson

Speaking at the annual conference of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy declared the reason he serves as the Supreme Court’s “swing” vote. He considers the U.S. Constitution “a flawed document” susceptible to interpretation.

The framers, Kennedy said, “were wise enough to know that they could not foresee the injustices” of the future, “so they used general language.” He believes the framers wanted principles that could be reinterpreted by justices of the future.

Kennedy needs to study up on his history, for the framers believed quite differently.

James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, two-time member of the Continental Congress and one of the first six original Supreme Court Justices, served on the Committee of Detail, which produced the first draft of the Constitution. He said, “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.”

That seems to leave little wiggle room for the argument that the Constitution is a “living document.”

America The Divided: Everyone Knows We Have Problems But There Is Very Little Agreement On Solutions

Argument - Public DomainA house divided against itself will surely fall.  America is more divided today than it has been in decades, and the deep divisions that are tearing us apart continue to get even worse.  In fact, a newly released Rasmussen Reports national survey discovered that 67 percent of voters believe that America is even more divided now than it was four years ago.  We are angry, we are frustrated and we love to fight with one another, but none of this strife and discord is getting us anywhere.  What most Americans can agree on is that we are facing tremendous problems as a nation.  One average of recent polls found that only 26 percent of Americans believe that this country is heading in the right direction and 63.8 percent of Americans believe that this country is heading in the wrong direction.  Unfortunately, there is very little agreement on what the solutions to our problems are.  That is where the division is.  As a nation, we no longer have a shared set of values or principles that provides a foundation for our decisions.  Everyone just kind of does whatever is right in their own eyes, and the result is chaos.  At a minimum, the U.S. Constitution was supposed to bond all of us together, but it has become clear that very few of our lawless politicians have any respect for that document at this point.  And the American people must not have too much respect left for the Constitution either, because they keep sending the very same politicians back to Washington over and over again.  Unless a miracle happens, everyone is going to keep pulling in different directions, and that is going to continue ripping our country to shreds.