Organizing for America executive director claims OFA “not a partisan organization”

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Riiiiight. And I’m Martha Stewart.  Via The Politico:

Top donors, volunteers and organizers for President Barack Obama’s new nonprofit met Wednesday at a Washington hotel to discuss how the group can stay active and relevant in the president’s second term — but Obama and the group’s leader swears the effort is nonpartisan.

“I want to say a word about what we aren’t: We are not a partisan organization,” said Jon Carson, a former White House official who is now serving as the executive director of Organizing for Action.

“We are here to move this shared progressive agenda forward,” he added. “We will advocate to Democrats to move that agenda forward. We will advocate to Republicans. But issues are our focus.”

Obama is scheduled to speak Wednesday evening, but he told House Republicans at a closed-door meeting Wednesday afternoon on Capitol Hill that OFA is meant to address issues, not politics.

“OFA is organized around issues rather than 2014,” Obama said, according to a source in the room.

Obama said Democrats aren’t so savvy to always be thinking about the next election.

“We are not that smart,” Obama said. “We’re not thinking in those ways.”

But while the group has vowed to remain nonpartisan, the lineup of speakers featured a raft of former White House, campaign and administration officials — all Democratic partisans.

Duh.  Just who do these people selling the White House think they’re fooling? Outside of their gullible base, that is …. oh wait, that’s the point.  My bad.

Obama Treasury Dept. to open bank records to US intelligence agencies?

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**Posted by Phineas

"Watching you."

“Watching you.”

Under things that make me a bit uncomfortable, we find:

The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.

Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of “suspicious customer activity,” such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The FBI already has access to FinCEN, and intelligence agencies can make requests to get access on a case-by-case basis. There’s no doubt this kind of information is useful in our war with Islamic terrorists: they need money to carry out their operations, and suspicious transactions can be an early warning that something’s afoot, as well as revealing how they’re getting their funds. In fact, the US and its allies have had great success disrupting terrorist finance since 9/11 by data mining international bank records, at least until the operation was exposed by the press in 2006. (Don’t worry. The revelation came under a Republican president, so the press was only doing its duty.)

And the fact is we are still at war against an enemy who’d dearly love to give us another 9/11; in such times, the boundaries between liberty and security shift a bit toward security. Trust me, I’m a national security conservative, not a doctrinaire “Big L” libertarian on this issue. I remember how the failure to share information was one of the big weaknesses that let al-Qaeda’s plan work.

BUT…

More than 25,000 financial firms – including banks, securities dealers, casinos, and money and wire transfer agencies – routinely file “suspicious activity reports” to FinCEN. The requirements for filing are so strict that banks often over-report, so they cannot be accused of failing to disclose activity that later proves questionable. This over-reporting raises the possibility that the financial details of ordinary citizens could wind up in the hands of spy agencies.

Emphases added. In other words, the financial institutions, to avoid trouble with Washington, shovel all they can at the Feds and tell them to sort it out.

I’m sure we can all imagine the problems arising from that, such as database errors leading to people being misidentified as possible terrorists or their bag-men. We’ve heard enough stories about “no fly” list mistakes to know it’s bound to happen. Imagine waking up one day to find all your accounts frozen while investigators paw through your life. And this is without even considering the broader Fourth Amendment implications inherent in intelligence agencies searching through all the information the financial institutions dump on them, in order to find the worthwhile material.

“Privacy? What’s that?”

So, like I said: “uncomfortable.” This is a case where Congress could very usefully fulfill its investigatory functions by hauling the relevant officials before a couple of committees and letting some skeptics of central government power (Hello, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul!) ask some pointed questions to make sure proper safeguards are in place.

via Bryan Preston

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

A Hillary Clinton/Michelle Obama ticket in 2016? Say it ain’t so – please!

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Stop the insanity! Via the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard at the Washington Secrets blog:

Hillary Clinton hasn’t stepped into the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries yet and there’s already buzz growing for the ultimate grrl power ticket: Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama.

“All due respect for President Obama and Vice President Biden, but that would truly be a dream team for America,” said former Clinton spokeswoman Karen Finney. “Both women are proven effective leaders who’ve raise children, so dealing with Congress would be a snap!” added Finney, also a former Democratic Party spokeswoman.

“More than anything else, this reflects the growing awareness that it is time for the glass ceiling of the last old boys club to be firmly shattered,” added Democratic strategist Chris Lehane.

It’s not just talk. Bumper stickers reading “2016-Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama,” and “Hillary-Michelle 2016 First First Lady Ticket For President” are popping up. Cafe Press said sales of the Hillary-Michelle bumper sticker saw a 60% increase from December to March, with the largest uptick in March.

I can barely stomach the current First Lady let alone the former First Lady-turned Senator-turned Sec. of State.   Having the two of them as running mates during the 2016 Presidential election would be too much to bear – especially after going through eight disastrous years of our celebrity President and Joe Gaffetastic Biden.

Let’s hope that all this is is just fantasy talk from the left – and nothing more.  In the event something does become of this, however, pollster John Zogby doesn’t think it would go over well with the American people:

Pollster John Zogby, however, questions if the ticket would sell. “Hillary and Michelle are both very popular and accomplished, but this smacks of too much celebrity and is a tad too dynastic for American voters,” he said. “An interesting reality show, yes. A ticket, no.”

I’ll pass on them teaming up for a reality show, too.  After Obama’s last term in office is over, I’m praying both of the Obamas, along with the Clintons, fade out of the spotlight for a while.    A very long while.

Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama

Clinton-Obama 2016? Noooooo…..
Photo via USA Today

(Hat tip: Memeorandum)