Saturday, July 11, 2015

Some Common Sense

Yesterday Congress barked the head of a major government department out of her tree: Katherine Archuleta resigned from the Office of Personnel Management after first standing firm and saying she had more work to do. Twenty-one million government employees got there data compromised. That's a pretty major deal by any measure. But Marcy Wheeler's first reaction got no notice as far as I could see:

...Given Congress’ responsibility for failing to fund better IT purchasing, consider agency weaknesses during confirmation, and demand accountability from the intelligence community...

This is typical. A couple of days ago Senator McCain was having his weekly conniption over the underfunding of some important military feature, without ever acknowledging that underfunding is always the problem of the Congress, and that this Congress, ever since it undertook in the first by-election of the Obama Presidency, to refuse utterly to deal with adequate funding of the government through taxes, has been nothing less that derelict. McCain was trying to add some special non-sequester rules military budget. The Joint Chief he was interviewing said not to do this would lead to "catastrophe." Really. But it was patently a catastrophic idea to ever entertain sequestration as a solution to anything, and Mr. Obama presented it reasoning that his logic was entirely obvious, and that his Congressional opponents, when faced with that choice (in was it 2011, so long ago now!) would surely begin at last to govern rationally. Ha. "Obama cooties" trumped all, including common sense.

Ms Wheeler's great analysis is worth reading in full. Over and over again our press reports these discrete moments, punctuated with various "viewed with alarm" expressions from the Republicans. Yet nothing larger is noticed. The fundamental absurdity of the Republican position, that there will be no tax increases, ever, remains, as it did even back in the early George W. Bush days, when the whole Iraq war was somehow funded "off the record." Well, yes, pallets of cash actually vanished off the tarmac in Iraq, but I'm not even talking about that.

The Republicans remain the very definition of un-serious, yet they are the other major political party, and charged to produce a possible government at each election. Donald Trump leads the field. And if you think he's a joke, let me remind you of a bad, B-movie actor who ended up being President for the '80s. A lot of folks thought Mr. Reagan was a joke too. I sure did.

We might be watching the advent of our own Berlusconi era. We might be watching the run up to the election of George Wallace, Junior, Donald Trump, the pure id of American authority worship. So what if he's gone bankrupt four times and he gets his ties made in China. That's just bidness, he sneers. That's in fact Trump's answer to all criticism. "I'm a businessman, you don't know about bidness, chump." It solves all his "issues." Gave money galore to the Clintons? Bidness. Bankruptcy? Fool, that's just a business tactic, part of the big game. They loaned me money, they knew the risks. Now I'm worth $9 Billion, but my books are my bidness.

Here's Wheeler's conclusion:

A number of people online have suggested that seeing Archuleta get ousted (whether she was forced or recognized she had lost Obama’s support) will lead other agency heads to take cybersecurity more seriously. I’m skeptical. In part, because some of the other key agencies — starting with DHS — have far too much work to do before the inevitable will happen and they’ll be hacked. But in part because the other agencies involved have long had impunity in the face of gross cyberintelligence inadequacies. No one at DOD or State got held responsible for Chelsea Manning’s leaks (even though they came 2 years after DOD had prohibited removable media on DOD computers), nor did anyone at DOD get held responsible for Edward Snowden’s leaks (which happened 5 years after the ban on removable media). Neither the President nor Congress has done anything but extend deadlines for these agencies to address CI vulnerabilities.

Our house of virtual cards, so convenient in so many ways, may be waiting only for the next puff of wind. Meanwhile, the planetary crisis of rapid global climate change has been so repressed from the media and politics that even the scientists are despairing of any solutions. We are looking at the problem of 100 million people in Bangladesh being driven into refugee status, their whole country becoming in a few short years a flood plain:

At least the racist flag has been removed from Columbia's government grounds. That must be a little something? Shall we now march into Ethopia, triumphant?

Wanna bet Trump Towers don't have it's own electrical generating equipment down in the sub-basement, to keep the air running cool.

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