Hackers got 5.6 million fingerprint files, OPM admits

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Already the biggest government hack in US history, the data breach at the Office of Personnel Management keeps getting worse. The agency just admitted the hackers gained access to 5.6 million fingerprint records, five times more than originally thought.

“Of the 21.5 million individuals whose Social Security Numbers and other sensitive information were impacted by the breach, the subset of individuals whose fingerprints have been stolen has increased from a total of approximately 1.1 million to approximately 5.6 million,” the OPM admitted on Wednesday.

This has potentially disastrous ramifications for the individuals affected, since there is no way to change fingerprints once they have been compromised, unlike other personal information stolen in the breach.

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Citing federal experts, the agency cautioned that the opportunities to abuse the captured data are currently “limited,” but that this “could change over time as technology evolves.”

“If, in the future, new means are developed to misuse the fingerprint data, the government will provide additional information to individuals whose fingerprints may have been stolen in this breach,” the OPM said.

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While US officials have blamed China for the hack, Beijing rejects all such allegations.

“China is a strong defender of cybersecurity. China is also a victim of hacking attacks. The Chinese government will not, in any way, participate, encourage or support the theft of commercial secrets by anyone,” Chinese president Xi Jinping said in Seattle on Tuesday, on the first stop of his US visit. He is expected in Washington, DC on Thursday, for talks with US president Barack Obama.

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The OPM breach took place in December 2014, but was only discovered in April this year, and not revealed to the media until June. In the initial statement, the agency said up to four million federal employees might have been affected. By July, however, a second breach was discovered and that number was revised to 21.5 million current and former federal employees and their dependents.

As part of the second breach, the intruders stole the entire federal database of Standard Form 86. The 127-page form is part of a background check to gain a security clearance. It contains highly personal information about the applicant, including possible drug and alcohol abuses, financial and criminal history.

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The latest revelation, made while the media attention was riveted on the visit by Pope Francis I to Washington, has infuriated critics of the government’s handling of the breach.

“Today’s blatant news dump is the clearest sign yet that the administration still acts like the OPM hack is a PR crisis instead of a national security threat,” Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Following the initial reports of the breach in June, the American Federal of Government Employees (AFGE) called the scandal an “an abysmal failure on the part of the agency to guard data that has been entrusted to it by the federal workforce.” The union represents almost 700,000 federal workers.

READ MORE: OPM director resigns over hacks that exposed 21.5 million people’s data

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta resigned from her post on July 10, following the reports of a second breach. She was replaced by Deputy Director Beth Cobert.

The Department of Defense has awarded a $133 million contract to an identity theft protection company, to monitor the hacked data and provide services to the compromised individuals. The DoD also said it would start sending out notices to the individuals affected by the end of September, almost four months since the breach was announced. The notification process is expected to take until November 2015 – almost a year since the hack actually happened.

Newsflash! Bernie Sanders Fans: All That “Free Stuff” Will Break the Middle Class

My latest Townhall column is called, Newsflash! Bernie Sanders Fans: All That “Free Stuff” Will Break the Middle Class. Here’s an excerpt from the column.



Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Similarly, it could be said that for liberals, how the real world works is indistinguishable from magic.

They want “free” birth control, health care, college, “Cash for Clunkers,” free housing for the poor and paid time off for women who are having a child. They want welfare with no preconditions for anyone who wants it, a $15 minimum wage and they want to open our borders to anyone who wants to come here illegally, have a child and live off the American people for the next 18 years.

Unfortunately, as Thomas Sowell has often said, “There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs.”Put another way, giving away “free” stuff may seem appealing, but it often has terrible consequences.

First and foremost among them, if you give too much away, you can go bankrupt. It’s not the least bit controversial to say that even with our current level of spending, we’re on pace to become Greece. You don’t have to take my word for it because even a diehard liberal socialist like Bernie Sanders admits that we can’t keep piling on debt.

“Everyone agrees that over the long-term we have got to reduce the record-breaking $13.7 trillion national debt and unsustainable federal deficit.”

Incidentally, our record-breaking debt is now up to almost $18.4 trillion and Bernie Sanders is proposing another $18 trillion in spending over the next decade on NEW programs. That’s in addition to the deficit spending we’re already doing, all of which is theoretical because at some point in the next decade or two, no one will be willing to loan us any more money and our economy will splatter like a bug on a windshield.

At that point, your kids will be wearing potato sacks, you’ll be bartering your family heirlooms for fuel and the grandparents will be eating their shoe leather after the Social Security and Medicare checks stop coming.

Is that an exaggeration? Maybe, but MAYBE NOT.


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About Half Of LEGAL Immigrant Households Use Welfare


Legal immigrant households dominate immigrant welfare use in the United States, a new study shows.

About half of all legal immigrant households use welfare, and they account for 75 percent of all immigrant household welfare use, reported the Center for Immigration Studies in a follow up to last week’s report that more than half of all immigrants in the United States use welfare.

Using Census Bureau data, CIS estimated 49 percent of households headed by legal immigrants used one or more welfare programs in 2012, compared to 30 percent of households headed by natives and 62 percent of households headed by illegal immigrants.

That number jumps to 70 percent if the legal immigrant households include kids.

There is a worker present in 85 percent of legal immigrant households, but many of them are eligible for welfare because they are not highly educated and earn low wages. Those legal immigrant households that do take advantage of welfare make up 75 percent of all immigrant welfare use.

CIS, an advocate for reduced immigration levels, found a lack of education is a bigger driver of immigrant welfare use than legal status. And because most illegal immigrants are only modestly educated, CIS concludes granting them legal status would increase welfare costs, especially for cash and housing programs. (RELATED: WSJ Admits There IS A Cost To Massive Migration Across Insecure Borders)

Legal immigrant households use more welfare overall and cash, food and Medicaid programs, CIS found. Fourteen percent of legal immigrant households use cash programs, compared to 10 percent of native households. Thirty-six percent of legal immigrant households use food programs, compared to 22 percent of native households.

(Center for Immigration Studies)

And 39 percent of legal immigrant households use Medicaid, compared to 23 percent of native households.

“Welfare use by illegal immigrant households is certainly a concern, but the bigger issue is welfare use by legal immigrants,” report author Steven Camarota, director of research at CIS, said in a statement Thursday.

The U.S. is set to add a bloc of new permanent immigrants — 10 million — in the next decade that is larger than the combined populations of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, if Congress does not reduce the number of green cards issued each year. (RELATED: NYT, Brookings Unwittingly Show How Immigration Affects Wages)

Green cards guarantee immigrants a lifetime work authorization, access to federal welfare, Social Security and Medicare, the ability to obtain citizenship and voting privileges and the immigration of their close relatives.

The U.S. foreign-born population has reached an all time high of 42.1 million — helped along by a rebounding Mexican immigrant population — and is now 13 percent of the U.S. population.

By 2023 the Census Bureau projects the foreign-born population will exceed 51 million — the largest share of total population ever recorded in American history. And nearly one in five U.S. residents will be an immigrant by 2060, largely because of legal immigration, not illegal immigration.

Sanders plans to increase federal spending by one-third

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By Ariel Cohen

Bernie Sanders has already proposed $18 trillion in new spending, putting the United States further in debt and add numerous governmental programs, increasing current government expenditures by one-third.

Sanders sees his social programs as being essential to helping the middle class, but has only proposed enough tax increases to pay for about one-third of them.

The self described Democratic socialist’s plan includes a $15 trillion universal healthcare plan, $1.2 trillion Social Security program and a $1 trillion infrastructure programs to rebuild roads, bridges and airports. He has also outlined a multi-billion dollar college affordability plan, paid leave plan, a pension fund plan, a youth jobs initiative and a yet-to-be-announced child care program.

Additional tax proposals would be offered to offset some of the costs of his healthcare program, the Wall Street Journal reported. But, even with the offset costs, Sander’s $18 trillion plan is still significantly more costly for the the average taxpayer than Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s hundreds of billions in proposed federal programming.

Sanders has admitted that when he launched his campaign less than four months ago, he didn’t think that it would have gained as much success as it has so far, but the Vermont senator has attracted many supporters with his populist message of economic equality and routinely holds rallies across the country with thousands of people. In recent polls, Sanders has overtaken Clinton in both New Hampshire in Iowa.

The Economics of Bernie Sanders

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Sanders shockingly similar to Mussolini

by William L. Anderson | Mises.org | September 3, 2015

As the political campaign of Hillary Clinton continues to run aground, Democrats are flocking to the campaign of Bernie Sanders, the self-described “socialist” US senator from Vermont, who has been a fixture in that state for more than three decades.

Not unlike the presidential campaign of Ron Paul, Sanders is drawing large, enthusiastic crowds who are very receptive to his message of increased state control of the US economy.

Obviously, when a person running a campaign based upon socialist principles is drawing attention and big crowds, we might ask just what does Sanders mean by “socialist,” and what would he do if he were elected president of the United States? To better answer that question, I am taking a closer look at what we would call the “economics” of Bernie Sanders.
What Do We Mean by “Socialism”?

Before looking at Sanders’s platform, however, I believe it is important to note that when socialists speak of “victories” in the economy, they are not talking about actual results, but rather political achievements in the forms of laws being passed that mandate certain policies. Whether or not these policies actually achieve what socialists claim will be accomplished is another story altogether, but results are irrelevant to socialists.

This should surprise no one because, after all, socialism is based upon political control of the economy. True (or at least original) socialists believe that state agents via the “magic” of their authority should allocate all resources to where there is the greatest need for them. Political representatives, not surprisingly, determine what constitutes the greatest need. The state would take ownership of all factors of production and then wisely determine the needs and how production of goods would fulfill them.

Ludwig von Mises in 1920 in his short work, Socialism (three years later expanded into a book), exploded the socialist myth by pointing out that in a world of scarce resources, economies needed private ownership, prices, profits and losses to determine where resources should be directed. The early years of the “experiment” of the Soviet Union proved Mises correct, and socialists then sought to redefine what socialism actually meant.

In the USSR, and later in China and North Korea, the state took ownership of factors of production, but tried to create a parallel economy by using shadow prices and production functions via the mechanisms championed by Polish communist Oskar Lange, who admitted that Mises had pointed out serious flaws in the original plans of socialists. We also know how that “experiment” turned out, which is why there no longer is a USSR, China has abandoned much of the economics of Mao, and North Korea is a failed state where most people live in grinding poverty.

But people like Bernie Sanders, while maybe not rejecting the old socialism spiritually, nonetheless have embraced a “socialism” in which government takes ownership of large portions of what has been produced by private enterprise and transfers wealth from one group of people to another. A look at the Sanders website spells out his brand of “socialism” that he says is based upon what Nordic countries like Sweden, Denmark, and Norway have done, levying high taxes with governments using that funding for social programs like medical care and other public welfare initiatives.
Secondary Socialism

A number of people have pointed out that the Sanders “program” is not socialism per se, but rather is something based upon socializing the results of private enterprise, or what one might call secondary socialism. The Bernie Sanders regime would take control of some of the produce of private enterprise, as opposed to taking outright control of factors of production, which would remain in private hands. If this reminds one of thefascism of the 1930s, that is because Sanders is promoting a version of the governing models of Germany under Adolph Hitler and Italy under Benito Mussolini.

Of the two, Sanders certainly is closer to Mussolini. Like Sanders, Mussolini called himself a socialist and was a leader in the Italian Socialist Party. Like Sanders, Mussolini decried “profiteers” and the wealthy, and spoke out against political corruption. Like Sanders, Mussolini spoke of a larger “national purpose” and sought to harness nationalism as a political force. Like Sanders, Mussolini sought to impose more and more controls on Italian businesses in order to direct production in a way to satisfy political purposes. Like Sanders, Mussolini built political power by appealing to Italian voters by saying that other Italians were well-off because they had gained their wealth on the backs of the poor.

Having similar economic proposals to Hitler and Mussolini does not make Sanders either of those two men and it is important to emphasize that while Sanders regularly employs the powerful political tool of appealing to voter resentment of others, he is not advocating the kind of genocide that ultimately helped to characterize the fascism of Central Europe in the 1930s and 40s. Bernie Sanders is an economic nationalist, and economic nationalism was at the heart of European fascism, but we do not want to make unwarranted accusations against Sanders, either.

At the same time, I do not want to let Sanders off the hook. He promotes economic nationalism and has built his campaign upon resentment, the kind of which Henry Hazlitt wrote in 1966 in his famous, “Marxism in One Minute.” Hazlitt wrote:

The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are. Never under any circumstances admit that his success may be due to his own efforts, to the productive contribution he has made to the whole community. Always attribute his success to the exploitation, the cheating, the more or less open robbery of others. (Emphasis mine)

As one moves through the website for the Sanders campaign, there is plenty of resentment for others. First, there is the ubiquitous “One-Percent” that is the main focus of the typical Sanders stump speech:

This campaign is sending a message to the billionaire class: “you can’t have it all.” You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry. You can’t continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation. Your greed has got to end. You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of America, if you refuse to accept your responsibilities as Americans.

While I would agree wholeheartedly that the US economy is in serious trouble, it is not because of the “greed” of billionaires. It is because the US government, through the Federal Reserve System, has created what David Stockman has called the “casino economy” that has substituted trading of sovereign debt and monetary manipulation for a real economy with interest rates that reflect actual economic fundamentals. Like the Bush and Clinton administrations before it, the Obama administration has promoted political entrepreneurship and demonized market entrepreneurship.
Sanders’s List of Recycled Twentieth-Century “Solutions”

Americans are not jobless because some people are not paying “their fair share” of taxes; they are jobless because the US government insists on directing resources from higher-valued uses to lower-valued uses, as determined by consumer choice. They are jobless because Washington insists on remaking the economy in its own image, and there is nothing in the entire Sanders campaign that would change any of the things that vex the US economy the most.

So, what does Sanders propose to “revitalize” the US economy? Here are some things listed on his website:

Raise taxes on US corporations (ironically, corporate tax rates in the Nordic countries are substantially lower than current corporate taxes in the USA, something that has escaped Sanders’s notice);
Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour;
Expand the reach of labor unions and vastly expand their membership;
Make it illegal for US corporations to manufacture goods abroad, and then sell those goods in the USA;
Impose new taxes on financial transactions;
Spend at least a trillion dollars on building and repairing roads, bridges, and utilities;
Create a “youth jobs program” in which unemployed young people are given government-sponsored jobs (Sanders sees no connection between high minimum wages and youth unemployment);
Enact “equity pay” that will “guarantee” that women are paid the same as men for comparable work;
Break up banks and financial institutions;
Enact a Canada-style single-payer healthcare system;
Provide free tuition for all public colleges and universities;
Expand Social Security benefits;
Require businesses to provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, at least 10 days of paid vacation a year, and seven days per year of paid guaranteed sick leave.

Notice that there is nothing in the Sanders platform that calls for “nationalization” of the means of production, nor does he propose to do away with the price system. In other words, Sanders’s vision of socialism is not what Mao or Trotsky or Lenin proposed, yet there is not one thing in the entire platform that would reverse the dangerous economic trends of the past decade.

Instead, Sanders proposes to direct huge amounts of resources in the direction of constructing something akin to a European welfare state. To put it another way, Sanders wishes to “turn back the clock” to create or promote social and economic structures that already have been undermined by the modern “sharing” economy.

If one reads Sanders’s platform from another perspective, it would be the New Deal. Indeed, there is nothing Sanders has written or said from the stump that would not be reminiscent of a New Deal rally (with the possible exception in appealing to black Americans, which was not part of the Democratic Party agenda in the 1930s, as well as Sanders’s appeal to furthering the Sexual Revolution). Bernie Sanders pushes an economic agenda that is frozen in time.

The problem, economically speaking, is that Bernie Sanders proposes nothing that actually would enable entrepreneurs to help bring about a true economic recovery. In Sanders’s world, entrepreneurs are parasites and employers are oppressors who seek to harm their employees, and wealth is defined by how much governments have in their treasuries.

If I could put the economics of Bernie Sanders into a nutshell, it would be this: Burden private enterprise with one directive after another, and then demonize it when it ultimately falls down under the awful weight of taxes, higher costs, and mandates. While many people believe that instituting the Sanders economic agenda would help turn the USA into another Sweden or Denmark, the more likely outcome would be turning this country into another Venezuela.