Wednesday, December 13

"off With Their (Political) Heads!" Shouted The Queen Of Hearts

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Any number of recent events have reinforced the notion that many in our political class really do not know what they are doing. The world has gotten so complex but their grasp of it’s realities is so naive. Unfortunately, every time they screw up it usually costs us in wasted tax dollars, lost freedom, or in the Wikileaks scandal, potentially human lives. In an “Alice In Wonderland” world, we could follow the advice of the Queen of Hearts and chop off their political heads and move on, hopefully filling their position with someone more competent.

However, we do not live in Wonderland. But if we did, wouldn’t it be great to chop off the political careers of the following politicians:

– According to Robert Scheer, writing in The Nation, and summarized in the December 20, 2010 issue of The Week magazine, of the $44.4 billion increase in U.S. corporate profits this past quarter, about $33.3 billion of those increased corporate profits went to Wall Street banks and investment houses. Many of these firms are the same ones that were at the center of the financial meltdown with their risky investments and some were saved with taxpayer bailout money. What’s more irritating is that these same financial firms, flush with cash and profits, are not making very many loans to businesses and consumers, loans that might finally get the economy moving again.

Why are they not making any loans? According to John Cassidy, writing in The New Yorker, the banks can make more money “exploiting complex security trading, day-to-day movements in the markets and other financial schemes. They do not have to make traditional loans anymore in order to make oodles of money.

Who were the brilliant politicians who worked on the bailout process that saved many big financial firms, firms that were “to big to fail,” wasted billions of taxpayers dollars, and apparently included nothing in the financial industry reform legislation to prevent the banks from getting bigger and less responsive to the market? Off with their heads!

-Continuing along in the same industry, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, has this wonderful plan to get the economy jump started. It is called quantitative easing but in layman’s terms it means our central bank, the Fed, is going to create $600 billion out of thin air (“print money”) and use it to buy back government bonds owned by the same financial firms discussed in the previous point. His hope is that the banks, flush with this new pile of money, will go out and start making loans, getting the economy growing again.

Hey Ben, I may not be an expert on quantitative easing but won’t these banks and other financial institutions just take the money and use it the way they have been using their own profits and cash, i.e. play the market rather than grow the market? If they can make a lot of money playing with their tens of billions of dollars, imagine how much money they can make playing the market with the hundreds of billions of dollars you are going to give them, apparently with no stipulation that they loan it out. Off with his head!

– Recent results form an Associated Press/CNBC poll indicated that 59% of those surveyed prefer cutting Federal government budgets and services and about half that many (30%) preferred raising taxes. 85% of those surveyed are worried that our high national debt will be harmful to future generations.

Thus, average Americans understand what our problem is, high national debt is really a government spending problem, not a government revenue problem, and the current trend of deficit spending will be detrimental to future generations of Americans. How does our political class respond? They cannot come to a consensus on the President’s Debt Reduction Commission, with only 11 of the 18 members approving the final recommendations of the Commission, three short of the 14 votes that were needed to get put before Congress. Off with their heads, especially the Commission’s Democrats who voted against the plan, stating that there were not enough tax increases and there were too many spending cuts in the recommendations. Apparently they did not get the poll results.

– Let’s talk about the Wikileaks fiasco. An ordinary U.S. Army private logs onto his government computer and with about $5.00 worth of hardware, a blank CD disc and a portable USB drive, downloads hundreds of thousands of documents that expose many valuable secrets of the U.S. military around the world. These documents identified local contacts in countries such as Afghanistan who were working closely with the U.S. military in fighting the Taliban. The documents placed them and our fighting troops in additional danger.

Apparently no computer security firewalls were breached. No complex, online security measures were hacked and undermined. Just a USB drive and a CD disc. How simple can it get? And to my knowledge no one has been fired for such lax security. Yes, the private has been arrested and is in custody, but someone, whether it is the Secretary of Defense or someone underneath him on the organization chart needs to fall on their sword for this one. We spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars a year for the defense Department and is it this simple to expose the entire U.S. military data systems to this soldier’s downloads? Off with someone’s head.

– Wikileaks, Part II. Let’s move over to the State Department where the damage might be even more devastating. Previous State Department documents release by Wikileaks showed how the State Department worked and contained personal references and appraisals by U.S. diplomats of leaders from around the world, often in non-flattering terms. These disclosures have damaged our relationships with world leaders in ways that we have no idea how yet. Why would anyone in a foreign government tell our diplomats anything valuable or personal in the future since the State Department has proven via Wikileaks that we cannot keep a secret from the world?

But it gets worse and the potential damage far more lethal. In a December 6, 2010 Associate Press article, we find that Wikileaks has posted a secret U.S. cable on its website that lists entities worldwide that our government considers critical to our national security. The article quotes U.S. officials fearing that the publication of the cable gives a hit list to terrorists. The cable, “Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative List,” included such things as border crossings, hydroelectric dams, undersea communications lines, food suppliers, shipping lanes, manufacturers of components used in U.S. weapons systems, and vaccine sources.

Here’s the sad part. Hillary Clinton deemed the list so important that if these sites were “destroyed, disrupted, or exploited, would likely have an immediate and deleterious effect on the United States.” In other words. the Secretary of State knew how important and dangerous this list was and still Wikileaks was able to get their hands on it. What do these people use for computer security if they cannot even protect this most valuable piece of intelligence? Unbelievable.

And apparently Wikileaks is not done. The website apparently held back some disclosures as “insurance.” This information was stored and downloaded by multiple people in an encrypted file that can be opened only if the Wikileads head guy, Julian Assange, gives out the password. He claims he kept the really good stuff in that file as insurance for himself. Who knows what other damaging information the State Department has let leak out and now an entire Federal government department is at the mercy of a single man.

As with the defense information leaks, someone, be it Hillary or someone high up at the State department needs to be fired. This breach of security is historic and could be fatal for a lot of people. In real life, outside of politics, people lose their job every day for incompetence. Same thing should apply to government work, especially a screw up this large. If Gates and/or Hillary got fired by Obama for this mess you can bet it would get the attention of a lot of other government bigwigs. I would bet these highly paid folks would  immediately would be taking a long hard look at beefing up their own data security procedures, a hard look that hopefully would be to the benefit of all Americans. Off with their heads!

Maybe the Queen of Hearts had it right, off with their heads. As an alternative to this rather drastic approach, as a nation we need to implement a procedure that would remove any member of Congress sitting on a Congressional committee or subcommittee if the government functions those committees were overseeing fail at executing their responsibilities.

Thus, this procedure would remove those Congressional members from any committee responsible for Defense Department and State Department data security. These leaks will cost us in so many ways including additional tax dollars to repair the damage, lost credibility with world leaders, and potentially lost human lives due the the military and other intelligence that is now in the hands of our enemies. Not only should high ranking  members of these two Departments pay for the leaks but Congressional members also should absorb some kind of negative hit, short of, of course, “off with their heads.”


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