After defiant speech, Obama plugs tech jobs in Republican heartland

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Behind the pantomime.

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in Washington.(Photo: Mandel Ngan/AP) This president has governed through crisis after crisis — successfully, I might add — despite unrelenting attacks from a Republican Party that has grown dramatically more radical during his six years in office.

Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. As predicted, Republican responses to the speech ranged from dismissal to anger—or rather, mock anger; since it has always been clear that Republicans would reject anything Mr Obama were to offer up, their condemnations of his failure to reach out were pantomime too. Boehner (R-Ohio) invited Israel’s prime minister to address Congress next month on Iran and the controversial role that U.S. sanctions should play in the difficult relationship with the Islamic government in Tehran. Mike Lee, a Republican senator from Utah, inadvertently captured the circular logic of the situation: “For him, it’s all 2016 partisan politics now, and Republicans shouldn’t waste time debating the merits of the president’s political talking points.” Of course, if Republicans are unwilling to debate the merits of Mr Obama’s proposals, one can hardly expect him to deliver anything other than political talking points.

And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.” It was a rallying cry for greater “cyber security.” But according to many security experts, “security” and the specific cyber-security proposal the president unveiled last week could be a pretext for expanded, unchecked surveillance that may not actually make the nation safer. The ideas in the proposal face no strong political resistance especially since the information collection organism would not be the government itself but rather private companies reporting user information to the government. Middle-class tax cuts, free community college, immigration reform, extended sick leave for working families and infrastructure investments are all ambitious and just goals. In a meeting with his House GOP colleagues, Boehner said that if the president “expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran,” he was going to be disappointed: “Two words: ‘Hell no!’ ” Boehner said. “We’re going to do no such thing.” According to Republican aides, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has a famously strained relationship with Obama, has accepted the offer. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.

The president has been restrained in his discussions of what some consider to be the most significant cyber attack on a US entity in recent memory, the Sony hack. (Sony Pictures is a sub unit of Sony America and is still ultimately part of the Sony parent company, which is Japanese.) Obama called the hack an act of “cyber vandalism” not tantamount to war. The invitation follows Obama’s threat to veto any new congressional sanctions on Iran while his team is negotiating an agreement that would prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The key component of the proposal is, indeed, “integration.” Specifically, it affords private companies liability protection to share information with the Homeland Security Department’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.

But for progressives watching the president’s speech on Tuesday, there was also a longing for what we haven’t been able to accomplish in the Obama era. Obama has been battling with lawmakers, including some members of his own party, to forestall congressional action imposing sanctions before the negotiations are completed. President Obama’s speech may appear defiant, but it is fatuous if not disingenuous to challenge a Republican Congress to reformulate the tax code so as to place a heavier burden on the top earners with the benefit accruing to the middle class. It was, in popular if clichéd Washington, DC parlance, “a game changer.” Joyce was not alone in that assessment. “We had seen cyber attacks but we’ve never seen a nation-state…destroy data,” former Rep. It’s true that campaigning and governing are wholly different exercises, but I don’t believe the president is good at one at the expense of the other.

So far this year, Obama has stiffed the GOP agenda.”) Those of us sick of all this talk of empathetic nods and inches given or stiffed would prefer to find some way to talk about the content of governance. At this moment – with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production – we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.

But one can look at its political reception to gauge whether this is an issue that effectively advances the Democrats’ attempts to force Republicans to take unpopular stances. President Obama takes credit for lower oil prices, but conveniently does not mention the role played by shale oil production, which would not play well with his “green” constituency.

But during his tenure, where he served as the head of the House Intelligence Committee, he earned a reputation as one the National Security Agency’s most stalwart allies at the agency’s moment of greatest shame. At a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez slammed Obama for not being tough enough on Iran. “I have to be honest with you, the more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.” Netanyahu, who is the midst of a competitive election, is expected to make the case for taking a harder line on Iran in an effort to wrest concessions from the country’s leaders. “There is a serious threat that exists in the world, and the president, last night, kind of papered over it,” Boehner said, meeting with reporters Wednesday. “The fact is, is that there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran.” The invitation to Netanyahu seemed to be a deviation from normal diplomatic practice, in which the executive branch — and not a legislative leader — would coordinate the visit of a head of state. If so, it will be more likely to play a role in the party’s profiling over the next two years, as it readies its stance for the 2016 presidential elections. The bill that perhaps best characterized that reputation, House Resolution 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, never actually became law, having stalled in the Senate after passing the House.

Since the only hope of getting significant legislation passed in America now seems to be winning an electoral trifecta and gaining control over the presidency and both houses of Congress, the first key question to ask about any proposed legislation is whether it furthers that goal for the party that proposed it. He brags about our force reduction in Iraq and Afghanistan, without mentioning the active military role the United States continues to play in both countries. It was an idea that predates Rogers and CISPA—in 2008, the Bush White House put out National Security Presidential Directive – 54 that outlined the US interest in information sharing in the name of cybersecurity. The Congress can make this decision on its own,” he said. “I don’t believe I’m poking anyone in the eye.” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the administration would reserve judgment on Netanyahu’s visit “until we have an opportunity to speak to the Israelis about their plans for the trip and about what he plans to say.” The Israeli prime minister’s unusual visit may offer a model of how Republicans plan to use their new majorities in the House and Senate to pressure the president to take stronger action, not just in Iran, but in places like Iraq and Syria, where Islamic State militants have taken control over several major cities. Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another – or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?

This has caught most conservatives off guard, since with their gains in Congress, they truly believed that the president was greatly weakened and reduced to a jellylike substance, the next best thing to impeachment. CISPA would give companies the freedom to share user data with DHS where the info could then go to virtually any other law enforcement agency for use in any investigation related to crimes from drug trafficking to copyright infringement. It sent a clear message to some of America’s biggest companies: “We need you to do our spying for us.” Privacy advocates argued that the bill’s language was too broad. Obama’s foreign policy struggles could also provide an opening for Republicans, who have had their traditional advantage in national security matters eaten away in recent years by the long and unpopular war in Iraq.

For example, is the Earned Income Tax Credit still the best way to address inequality, or does it fail to reach the poorest because they are unemployed? Moreover, information sharing, while an essential component of comprehensive legislation, is not alone enough to protect the Nation’s core critical infrastructure from cyber threats. The key, though, is to look at policy proposals not in isolation, but as moves in a long game that gradually determine the shape of policy proposals on each side. Shareable information does include anything that falls under the category of cyber threat indicator, which includes any data relating to “malicious reconnaissance, including communications that reasonably appear to be transmitted for the purpose of gathering technical information related to a cyber threat,” which could mean everything from attempting to access restricted files to—possibly—asking fairly routine questions about how a site runs or what a company does with user data. “The White House proposal relies heavily on privacy guidelines that are currently unwritten. Hailing from the more libertarian wing of the GOP’s foreign policy plank, Paul has sometimes angered conservatives by supporting a less stringent approach than traditional hawks like Graham.

Privacy protections and use restrictions must be in effect before information sharing occurs,” Harley Geiger, the senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology said in a press release following the announcement. Ben is back in construction – and home for dinner every night. “It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.” America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. But it’s a pantomime of actions and attitudes that are real, or may eventually become real if one side amasses the power to push legislation through America’s hopelessly creaky, antiquated, broke-down political system. Rather than consider any views other than his own, the “outgunned but combative” president is advised to “resist his instinct to follow the false promise of compromise” so as not “to confuse the voters as to where the responsibility lies.” More disturbing for many in the technology community was a provision in the legislation to amend RICO laws in a way that could charge hackers, computer scientists, or just curious users with felonies just for finding—or searching for—security errors in web sites or services.

You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. In that case there probably isn’t much point paying attention to American democratic politics at all, and I recommend switching to a good hockey match. Unless there is a carve out for research, the liability for clicking on links to security tools alone is worrying…even more so if RICO style laws are applied due to their broad nature and potential for abuse by aggressive prosecutors. We have had many decades to get used to prosecuting organized crime, but prosecuting technical computer crime is newer and harder to explain to juries. Hidalgo, discuss an experiment where they took a random sample of 1.5 million cell users over 15 months and found that, when locational cell phone data is anonymized, just four data points—information created by the anonymous user—was enough to effectively reveal the users identity for 95% of all users. “I agree, 100%.

One of the key benefits of sharing cyber information with other investigative bodies is affixing attribution, which permanent anonymization would undermine. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. Moreover, the information that the public shares with DHS, if it is in fact related to some future cybersecurity event, would likely be shared with the NSA. According to the White House, that sharing, or integration, would be “as close to real time as possible.” How do we know that the NSA would be one of—if not the—main recipient? Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.

We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, who represents parts of San Jose (Silicon Valley) told The Hill: “I fear we may have taken the wrong lesson from these recent high-profile attacks.

Both political and public concerns about privacy and overreaching agencies have given way to worries about lost data and remotely hijacked infrastructure. “We are entering the post-Snowden era,” he claimed. Rogers himself was more cautious but he acknowledged that the involvement of the president in passing cyber-sharing legislation was a “significant change,” possibly enough to push something through. In discussing the potential changes in RICO law, he was dim on any proposal that might harm cyber security research. “We don’t want to limit that. Like millions of hardworking Americans, Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout, but she is asking that we look for more ways to help families get ahead.

In fact, at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot. This is one of those areas where reasonable people can be reasonable people.” Following the event at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Rogers loitered for a bit to glad-hand friends and fans who wished him well in his new career. That’s what middle-class economics is – the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.

During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority – so this country provided universal childcare. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.

And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. But things like child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage – these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families. Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago – jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.

Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come. 21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair. Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine – one that delivers the right treatment at the right time.

I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world. I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs – converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military – then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world.

We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies. Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition.

Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small – by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people.

As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba. Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola – saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules – in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, and how they participate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief.

And no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice – so it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse.

It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws – of which there are many – but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it. I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for – arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision. A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.

We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs. Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth – that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.

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