Encryption and the NSA

Redmond Magazine has a new article entitled Microsoft To Add Data Encryption in Response to Gov. Snooping at


which they summarize in the first sentence as

Microsoft yesterday announced that it is taking steps to guard against government surveillance of its customers’ data.

Which made me laugh…sorta.

Previously, we couldn’t have secure systems and communications for two reasons: First, that would make it difficult for Corporate America to creep on you whether in your role as worker, consumer, or competitor. Secondly, making that security available represented an additional “cost” to America’s operating system vendors and/or their major corporate customers and/or America’s communications equipment vendors/carriers. (Three reasons, depending upon your level of cynicism/awareness: You cannot overcharge for encryption “add-ons” if encryption is commonly available in operating systems.)

Consequently, those who wanted to penetrate information technology in America didn’t have much of a challenge. Everybody knows about attacks carried out over the internet – the easiest scapegoat – but that isn’t the only penetration route. Everything – from a penetration perspective – gets easier if you have physical access to the databases, systems, and/or communications lines storing or carrying the information that you’re interested in. Potential attack…effectors…aren’t artificially limited to somebody sitting in a basement miles, nations, or continents away; they include Americans who have the head start of physical access to data systems/communications lines within CONUS if/when they have an ethos bounded by dollar signs, Americans who have loyalties to what they see as being a “greater cause”, and H-1Bs whose loyalties unsurprisingly remain offshore.

That ability to attain physical access would, obviously, also encompass those who are beneficiaries of outsourcing/offshoring. Offshoring is a particularly golden opportunity for those who are interested in profiting from/driving the decay/destruction of America as the entire decision process in America centers upon “shareholder value”/(compensation in the executive suite)…that is, the decision process centers upon whether the corporation in question can increase margins by even a hair through offshoring, which means it devolves down to whether or not a nation has the lower cost of living – in terms of America’s dollar – required to make their labor rates “cheaper” (again in terms of the American dollar).

Thus a nation-state has only to rig their currency exchange rates – or have operatives within a nation-state that rigs its exchange rate – to guarantee physical access to almost inconceivable volumes of American data. (Don’t do a web search for “The Maoist insurgency, which began in the eastern state of West Bengal in the late 1960s, has spread to more than one-third of India’s more than 600 districts.” if your compensation/rate of wealth accumulation depends upon your ability to profess plausible deniability to your publicly-held corporation’s consumers and/or your shareholders.  “History” gets recorded, ya know.)

Such sloppy security/willingness to make assumptions if the course of action is “profitable” is understandable given earlier ignorance on the part of the general public about the risks (uh…plausible deniability) that result from the combination of greed and complacency-because-change-costs-money that controlled the “corporate persons” in America…at least before the “NSA wake-up call” (if you will).

Prior to the consequence of the “We should grant those who control corporations which own politicians the ability to define ‘secure’ as it applies to national security in terms of their own profits.” decision that is Snowden, Corporate America’s perception was that “only” their customers (a.k.a. “the American people”), their workers (a.k.a. “the American people”), and the safety and security of these United States (a.k.a. “the American People”) were being placed at financial, economic, and physical risk by the poor security that they permitted in the name of avoiding costs/increasing profits.

Hence my amusement at the news of Microsoft’s plan to make encryption readily available now that the probability that “the government” might be able to see and record efforts to evade taxes and/or criminal acts committed in the name of increasing “shareholder value”/(the compensation of the executive suite) has become unavoidably known to Wall Street and its sphere of influence.

But…it is annoying. We might get security only now that acts committed by the individuals who have absolute control over America’s irresponsible and un-convictable “corporate persons” might be going into retrievable electronic storage????

lolll…only now that Americans who are considered to be “important” by those who control America’s “corporate persons” – that is, America’s CEOs and major shareholders themselves – might be exposed to risk, suddenly “We, the People” might just attain the ability to increase our own, individual security?

If, that is, you are willing to assume both that whatever encryption systems/methods are deployed to the general public do not have vulnerabilities built in pre-deployment and that all cryptographic keys will be under your control alone.  In my opinion, those assumptions are invalid at a minimum – and may well be especially foolish – given that America cannot go a week without reading or hearing of one corporation or another insisting that their attempts to capture, record, and analyze your data – and even use it to manipulate you – are “different” from the NSA’s efforts because Corporate America does it to make money from compromising the security of your personal data/intellectual property while the NSA does it to ***protect national security.

That is, Corporate America – and the right, and the right’s media – insists that their collecting of data about you is “OK” because they’re doing it to enhance their ability to transfer your wealth (and so, under capitalism, your power) from you to them but the NSA’s collection of data in order to defend these United States and our people “against all enemies, foreign and domestic” is…somehow wrong.

An argument which makes a whole helluvalotta sense, eh? Or not.

There is another, significant issue: Do you seriously think that America’s “corporate persons” will/do not hand the results from Corporate America’s unprecedented invasion of privacy – and the consequential ability to leverage/manipulate the American people in their roles of worker, consumer, and voter – over to those politicians/political entities/media arms which promise to increase the rate of wealth accumulation/retention of those who control or own large enough chunks of those “corporate persons”? No matter which of the principles outlined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights they wish to compromise?

Something else to bear in mind: Propaganda – in America, the word is almost always a synonym with lies conveyed as political advertising or opinion-as-“News” – is targeted at vulnerable audiences and shaped to manipulate that audience through its biases and beliefs. For that, you have to collect data on your audience in order to find their vulnerabilities; the data Corporate America collects by invading your privacy is invaluable for propaganda purposes. For Corporate America to suddenly make encryption and the protection of your privacy their priority flies in the face of Corporate America’s behavior since OPEC and the subsequent arrival of media-owning proof that American citizenship isn’t necessarily earned…or justified. Americans would do well to research multiple encryption technologies…particularly those which are not the products of Corporate America.

The American people would further do well to remember that Corporate America’s evangelists (e.g., GE’s Jack Welch…and all of Wall Street – which in turn effectively/pragmatically means all publicly-held corporations) have asserted that they have no moral or ethical obligation/reason (which would include patriotism, obviously; an inescapable conclusion given their exportation and subsequent manufacturing of dual-use technology to/in nations having systems of government which are inimical to democracy and liberty) to follow any dictate other than increasing “shareholder value”/(the compensation of the executive suite).

In practice, that means that Corporate America has and will continue to directly harm their workers, consumers, the environment, and the safety and security of the United States of America if that course of action increases “shareholder value”/(the compensation of the executive suite).

To close (finally…lolllll), the fact that Wall Street and everybody in their chain of command/sphere of influence – to include their tool, the Republican Party – is suddenly getting encryption-conscious since they learned that the NSA is actually doing its job should tell you something…should tell you a lot…about both Wall Street’s/Corporate America’s present activities and what they wish to do in the future.

(***Note: Yeah, “protect” – IMHO – is the correct term for what the NSA is doing; discounting even the real and present danger of external enemies who have in the past and may yet be operating internally, I hold that economic sabotage [such as the mortgage-backed securities pyramid scam] is also a threat to national security as it compromises the tax base it takes to buy ammo for our military.  Does the NSA have that same perspective? I don’t know…but I believe that they should.

Obviously Corporate America now fears that the NSA does have that perspective.)

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Current Science Fiction Memes Are Obsolete

They almost always make the same assumption:  Earthlings will come together to fight off a common enemy and so ultimately prevail.

But if this past Presidential election should have taught America anything, it is that being able to depend upon all Americans – let alone all humans – to stand together in a time of great need is a misconception.  What did we see, but Bain Capital – Bain Capital, Romney’s own company – selling Sensata to the communists in the PRC right smack in the middle of Romney’s run for the White House?


There is a simple and clear lesson in that action:  You should not rely upon the modern American right – whether they call themselves Republicans, Tea Party, or Libertarians – to stand with their fellow human beings against an invading alien species or even an invading communist army.   Not if the price offered by those invaders is right.  Which it would be, if those invaders have been watching – or already dealing with – our right for any time at all.

To put it another way, there is absolutely no evidence that suggests that the modern American right will stand with you unless there is something in it for them.  Which begs the logical next question:  Do you – do we – have enough to make them stand with you/us?  The American right has looted America pretty harshly these last 40 years…now they’re down to trying to take money out of the American people’s hides – literally out of their lives.  Words like loyalty, patriotism, “the right thing to do”; those are but dry and empty husks in the mouths of the power structure of the American right.  The essence of their value system – and you can hear it in what they say over and over again on the subjects of taxes and entitlement spending – is “I am not my brother’s keeper!”.

So say America or the Earth were to be invaded.  Given a choice between fighting – that is, placing their own lives at risk – or selling America out, what do you think our modern American right would do?  What?  You think they’d fight?  Have you forgotten that such as Cheney who “had better things to do” than answer those draft notices nevertheless rose to prominence within the power structure of the modern American right?  Doesn’t that seem odd, that a right that had no problem “swiftboating” somebody who showed up like Kerry could be steered by a multiple-offender draft dodger?

Have you forgotten that someone who bypassed a draft notice with a religious deferment and a trip to Paris rose to the very top of the modern American right’s power and financial structure?  And then that someone – Romney – said nothing as his company moved yet more American dual-use technology into the hands of a communist power that is rapidly increasing its tactical and strategic offensive arsenal of war?

Can you not see that what ordinary Americans call “values” mean nothing at all to the modern American right?

lollll…no, you cannot – for you keep voting for the modern pseudo-American right…even though the modern pseudo-American right continues to sell America out.  Now, our right is so confident that they have broken the American people that they are willing to do it right in the middle of our elections.

It is enough to drive me mad…for it appears that the right’s confidence is merited.

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How you can tell the American people still trust Republicans as if they shared common values

Consider this quote from a Business Insider article entitled

Chesapeake Energy:  The Great Natural Gas Supply Glut is Coming to an End

McClendon said the company hopes to reduce its dry gas wells to 7 or 8 in the next 12 months — compared with the dozens it currently has active.  McClendon said the company would not seek to move back into natural gas production until prices moved back to $5.

That is, it would appear that they’re curtailing production to drive the price of energy up.  Now consider yet another Business Insider article:

The Untold Story of How Banks Took Over the Oil Market

“In the mid-1990′s, the participants and performance of oil trading slowly started to change, and by 2003, the dominating forces in oil trader were no longer with the oil companies.  The list of NYMEX seat owners again shows just how deep the change was.  Right before going public in 2006, only 22 seats remained in the hands of the oil companies that had direct involvement in the buying and selling of oil and oil products.  But a much more significant percentage of seats were owned by companies that ostensibly had nothing to do with the buying and selling of physical oil.

In short, to my way of thinking the banks levy private taxes on energy, and those private taxes on energy – affecting, as they do, every single purchase and activity the American people pursue whether for pleasure or simple survival – are simultaneously more effective at manipulating the economy, controlling the job market, and increasing or – as is the norm – decreasing the standard of living of the American people than anything the Fed can or does do.  If you pay attention, I believe that you’ll observe a curious synchronicity:  Anything approaching good news for the American people, and speculation drives the price of energy up.

The actions such as Chesapeake and the energy speculators – big banking, in particular – are taking provide, in my judgment, indisputable evidence of what a great lie Big Carbon and the Republicans told when they said that placing the nation’s ecosystem – the land, air, and water our children will inherit – at risk with rampant and effectively unrestrained energy exploration would yield a “bonanza” for the American people in terms of reduced costs for energy-vulnerable activities such as home heating and manufacturing.

I would further argue that it will be extremely difficult – if not, in fact, impossible – to offset the rigged currency exchange rates that nations like the communist People’s Republic of China use to ensure competitive primacy with the promised influx of cheap energy from shale gas and near-shore oil exploration when both Big Carbon and the investment banks/speculators see our currently inescapable requirement for hydrocarbons as an unsurpassed platform for extortion – and so continually move to curtail supply or levy private taxes that eliminate any margin benefits resulting from cheap energy.

Now add the additional fact that corporations such as Cheniere Energy are finding that those same banks will fall all over themselves in their eagerness to assist corporations to build LNG export facilities – in fact, Cheniere has ALREADY secured at least $3.6 billion in financing for two liquefaction trains at their Sabine Pass facility.

Cheniere Partners Closes $3.6B Credit Facility for Sabine Pass Liquefaction Project

And finally add the fact that 44 Democratic and Republican congressmen from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas are now demanding that the Department of Energy expedite yet more permits for the exportation of America’s natural gas…her energy future:

Oil State Congressmen Ask Chu to Expedite LNG Export Permits

Me, I conclude that Big Carbon and Big Banking have lost none of their ability nor any of their desire to sell the future of the American people and the safety and security of the United States of America right out from under us all in the name of accumulating a little more wealth for themselves before they kick off (hey…I wonder if they heat hell with oil, coal, or natural gas?) and leave the wreckage of America’s future for somebody else to worry about.

So in conclusion it is my opinion that the American people would be wise to watch how they spend their pennies:  If Big Carbon or the Big Banks scent any money in their pockets, the end effect is the same as chumming for sharks – except you get bit at the gas pump and the heating oil furnace instead of in the water.

I would close with a question you might find yourself interested in answering:   Who provides the majority of the funding for the Republican Party?

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My experience with Highpoint RAID controllers

2012/6/19 7:44:9 Disk ‘SAMSUNG HD204UI-S2H7J1BZ#####’ at Controller1-Channel1-Device5 failed.
2012/6/19 7:44:9 Disk ‘SAMSUNG HD204UI-S2H7J1BZ#####’ at Controller1-Channel1-Device4 failed.
2012/6/19 7:44:9 Disk ‘SAMSUNG HD204UI-S2H7J1BZ#####’ at Controller1-Channel1-Device3 failed.
2012/6/19 7:44:9 Disk ‘SAMSUNG HD204UI-S2H7J1BZ#####’ at Controller1-Channel1-Device2 failed.
2012/6/19 7:44:9 Disk ‘SAMSUNG HD204UI-S2H7J1BZ#####’ at Controller1-Channel1-Device1 failed.

Repeat.  Ad infinitum.  Ad nauseum.

Only happens when you’re attempting to write massive amounts of data…which is only a problem if you’re using RAID to safely store massive amounts of data while providing fast access to that data.  As I do.

Although I admit to being vulnerable to accusations that the drives I’m using are not on  the “recommended” list (I don’t know if they are, or not), when all four drives are knocked out of a RAID 1+0 set and the standby spare drive is dumped, too, rather than losing just one drive or just one mirror set because of TLER, I suspect the RAID controller – a RocketRAID 620.

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Why I do this…why you should do this.

Someone somewhat startled me on one website by expressing appreciation for comments I had made on yet another website…which caused me to consider the amount of time I spend – and the distances and places I go – to combat the lies of the American right.  So I responded with this:

I never meant to devote such time to this in so many places…but as the internet (the influence of, that is) grew, the number of propagandists who were willing to fox up the truth – or just flat-out lie – on behalf of the so-called “conservatives” and their knowing and/or beguiled allies among the American right proliferated in kind.

I can’t stand to see the American people being lied to…and as a veteran, I have this (corny, perhaps) allegiance to an oath that I swore that encompassed all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Internal or external…motivated by greed or ideology….I see no effective difference between them when their common intent is to destroy democracy and oppress the American people.

The United States of America is the American People.  This country’s Founding Fathers created a nation wherein all “are created equal”; all “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”, and all are entitled to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

Now the so-called “conservatives” and the American right wish to restrict “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” to just those who have existing wealth and power.  Now the American right is trying to bind the length and quality of life to the money you possess while continually raising the threshold amount of money required.  Now the American right is trying to restrict opportunity and economic mobility – that is, the pursuit of “happiness” and, in a capitalistic system, life itself – to those who are already wealthy.  Now the American right is creating a two-tiered justice system wherein the wealthy and the fictional “people” that are corporations not only have more power than the many, they have the right to kill the many with toxic pollution in the name of profit.  What greater assault upon liberty is there than to have your life sacrificed in the name of somebody else’s greed?

In short, the American right is replacing the aristocracy the American People rebelled against in 1776 with themselves.

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”—Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

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President George W. Bush addresses the White House Conference on Increasing Minority Homeownership at The George Washington University Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2002

THE PRESIDENT: …. I appreciate your attendance to this very important conference. You see, we want everybody in America to own their own home. That’s what we want. This is — an ownership society is a compassionate society.

More and more people own their homes in America today. Two-thirds of all Americans own their homes, yet we have a problem here in America because few than half of the Hispanics and half the African Americans own the home. That’s a homeownership gap. It’s a — it’s a gap that we’ve got to work together to close for the good of our country, for the sake of a more hopeful future.

We’ve got to work to knock down the barriers that have created a homeownership gap.

I set an ambitious goal. It’s one that I believe we can achieve. It’s a clear goal, that by the end of this decade we’ll increase the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families. (Applause.) … And it’s going to require a strong commitment from those of you involved in the housing industry. …

I appreciate so very much the home owners who are with us today, the Arias family, newly arrived from Peru. They live in Baltimore. Thanks to the Association of Real Estate Brokers, the help of some good folks in Baltimore, they figured out how to purchase their own home. Imagine to be coming to our country without a home, with a simple dream. And now they’re on stage here at this conference being one of the new home owners in the greatest land on the face of the Earth. I appreciate the Arias family coming. (Applause.)

We’ve got the Horton family from Little Rock, Arkansas, here today. … They were helped by HUD, they were helped by Freddie Mac. …

Finally, Kim Berry from New York is here. She’s a single mom. You’re not going to believe this, but her son is 18 years old. (Laughter.) She barely looked like she was 18 to me. And being a single mom is the hardest job in America. And the idea of this fine American working hard to provide for her child, at the same time working hard to realize her dream, which is owning a home on Long Island, is really a special tribute to the character of this particular person and to the character of a lot of Americans. So we’re honored to have you here, Kim, and thanks for being such a good mom and a fine American. (Applause.)

I told Mel Martinez I was serious about this initiative… And the good news is, Mel Martinez believes it and means it, as well. He’s doing a fine job of running HUD, and I’m glad he has joined my Cabinet. (Applause.)

And I picked a pretty spunky deputy, as well, Alphonso Jackson — my fellow Texan. (Applause.) I call him A.J. …

I see Rosario Marin, who’s the Treasurer of the United States. Rosario used to be a mayor. Thank you for coming, Madam Mayor. (Applause.) She understands how important housing is. …

All of us here in America should believe, and I think we do, that we should be, as I mentioned, a nation of owners. Owning something is freedom, as far as I’m concerned. It’s part of a free society. And ownership of a home helps bring stability to neighborhoods. You own your home in a neighborhood, you have more interest in how your neighborhood feels, looks, whether it’s safe or not. It brings pride to people, it’s a part of an asset-based to society. It helps people build up their own individual portfolio, provides an opportunity, if need be, for a mom or a dad to leave something to their child. It’s a part of — it’s of being a — it’s a part of — an important part of America.

Homeownership is also an important part of our economic vitality. If — when we meet this project, this goal, according to our Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, we will have added an additional $256 billion to the economy by encouraging 5.5 million new home owners in America; …

Low interest rates, low inflation are very important foundations for economic growth. The idea of encouraging new homeownership and the money that will be circulated as a result of people purchasing homes will mean people are more likely to find a job in America. This project not only is good for the soul of the country, it’s good for the pocketbook of the country, as well.

To open up the doors of homeownership there are some barriers, and I want to talk about four that need to be overcome. First, down payments. A lot of folks can’t make a down payment. They may be qualified. They may desire to buy a home, but they don’t have the money to make a down payment. I think if you were to talk to a lot of families that are desirous to have a home, they would tell you that the down payment is the hurdle that they can’t cross. And one way to address that is to have the federal government participate.

And so we’ve called upon Congress to set up what’s called the American Dream Down Payment Fund, which will provide financial grants to local governments to help first-time home buyers who qualify to make the down payment on their home. If a down payment is a problem, there’s a way we can address that. And when Congress funds the program, this should help 200,000 new families over the next five years become first-time home buyers.

Secondly, affordable housing is a problem in many neighborhoods, particularly inner-city neighborhoods. … I’m doing is proposing a single-family affordable housing credit to encourage the construction of single-family homes in neighborhoods where affordable housing is scarce. (Applause.)

Over the next five years the initiative will provide home builders and therefore home buyers with — home builders with $2 billion in tax credits to bring affordable homes and therefore provide an additional supply for home buyers. …

And we’ve got to set priorities. And one of the key priorities is going to be inner-city America. …

Another obstacle to minority homeownership is the lack of information. You know, getting into your own home can be complicated. It can be a difficult process. I had that very same problem. (Laughter and applause.)

Every home buyer has responsibilities and rights that need to be understood clearly. And yet, when you look at some of the contracts, there’s a lot of small print. And you can imagine somebody newly arrived from Peru looking at all that print, and saying, I’m not sure I can possibly understand that. Why do I want to buy a home? There’s an educational process that needs to go on, not only to explain the contract, explain obligation, but also to explain financing options, to help people understand the complexities of a homeownership market, and also at the same time to protect people from unscrupulous lenders, people who would take advantage of a good-hearted soul who is trying to realize their dream.

Homeownership education is critical. And so today, I’m pleased to announce that through Mel’s office, we’re going to distribute $35 million in 2003 to more than 100 national, state and local organizations that promote homeownership through buyer education. (Applause.)

And, of course, one of the larger obstacles to minority homeownership is financing, is the ability to have their dream financed. Right now, we have a program that all of you are familiar with, maybe our fellow Americans are, and that’s what they call a Section 8 housing program, that provides billions of dollars in vouchers to help low-income Americans with their rent. It encourages leasing. We think it’s important that we use those vouchers, that federal money to help low-income Americans go from being somebody who leases to somebody who owns; that we use the Section 8 program to not only help with down payment, but to help with continuing monthly mortgage payments after they’re into their new home. It is a — it is a way to help us meet this dream of 5.5 million additional families owning their home.

I’m also going to encourage the lending industry to develop a mortgage market so that this script, these vouchers, can regularly be used as a source of payment to provide more capital to lenders, who can then help more families move from rental housing into houses of their own. …

Last June, I issued a challenge to everyone involved in the housing industry to help increase the number of minority families to be home owners. And what I’m talking about, I’m talking about your bankers and your brokers and developers, as well as members of faith-based community and community programs. And the response to the home owners challenge has been very strong and very gratifying. Twenty-two public and private partners have signed up to help meet our national goal. Partners in the mortgage finance industry are encouraging homeownership by purchasing more loans made by banks to African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities.

Representatives of the real estate and homebuilding industries, through their nationwide networks or affiliates, are committed to broadening homeownership. They made the commitment to help meet the national goal we set.

Freddie Mae — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — I see the heads who are here; I want to thank you all for coming — (laughter) — have committed to provide more money for lenders. They’ve committed to help meet the shortage of capital available for minority home buyers.

Fannie Mae recently announced a $50 million program to develop 600 homes for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. Franklin [Raines], I appreciate that commitment. They also announced $12.7 million investment in a condominium project in Harlem. It’s the beginnings of a series of initiatives to help meet the goal of 5.5 million families. Franklin told me at the meeting where we kicked this office, he said, I promise you we will help, and he has, like many others in this room have done.

Freddie Mac recently began 25 initiatives around the country to dismantle barriers and create greater opportunities for homeownership. One of the programs is designed to help deserving families who have bad credit histories to qualify for homeownership loans. …

There’s all kinds of ways that we can work together to meet the goal. Corporate America has a responsibility to work to make America a compassionate place. Corporate America has responded. As an example — only one of many examples — the good folks at Sears and Roebuck have responded by making a five-year, $100 million commitment to making homeownership and home maintenance possible for millions of Americans. …

The non-profit groups are bringing homeownership to some of our most troubled communities. …

The other thing Kirbyjon told me, which I really appreciate, is you don’t have to have a lousy home for first-time home buyers. If you put your mind to it, the first-time home buyer, the low-income home buyer can have just as nice a house as anybody else. And I know Kirbyjon. He is what I call a social entrepreneur who is using his platform as a Methodist preacher to improve the neighborhood and the community in which he lives.

And so is Luis Cortes, who represents Nueva Esperanza in Philadelphia. I went to see Luis in the inner-city Philadelphia. … But he also understood that a homeownership program is incredibly important to revitalize this neighborhood that a lot of folks had already quit on. …

Again, I want to tell you, this is an initiative — as Mel will tell you, it’s an initiative that we take very seriously. … Thank you for coming. May God bless your vision. May God bless America. (Applause.)

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at the Department of Housing and Urban Development
Washington, D.C.
June 18, 2002, 10:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all very much for that kind welcome. I’m here for a couple of reasons. First, I want to thank you all for your service to the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. (Applause.) I’m here to celebrate National Homeownership Month, because I believe owning a home is an essential part of economic security. And I’m concerned about the security of America. (Applause.)

HUD is an “important agency,”. I had the pleasure on June the 12th of speaking to the last President who visited HUD. I wish number 41 a happy birthday. (Applause.) And I’m glad you’ve invited me here today, I really am. I first am really proud of Mel Martinez and Alphonso Jackson. I’ve known Mel for a while, I’ve known Alphonso for a long time. There was no question in my mind that these two fine Americans would do a great job in leading this important agency. (Applause.)

I want to thank all those who have assumed leadership roles, who have left your states and your friends to come and serve America. And that’s important. Service to our country is an incredibly important part of being an American.

I want to thank all those who have worked here for a short time and long time, who will be here after we leave. I want to thank a man named Larry Thompson, who has worked here for — where’s Larry? (Applause.) Larry’s been here for 30 years. And I want to — appreciate your service, Larry, and thank you for setting such a fine example for many others inside this building who serve the country.

Let me first talk about how to make sure America is secure from a group of killers, people who hate — you know what they hate? They hate the idea that somebody can go buy a home. They hate freedom; that’s what they hate. They hate the fact that we worship freely. They don’t like the thought of Christian, Jew and Muslim living side by side in peace. They don’t like that at all. And therefore, they — since they resent our freedoms, they feel like they should take out their resentment by destroying innocent lives. And this country will do everything we can possibly do to protect America. (Applause.)

And that’s going to mean making sure our homeland is secure, and I appreciate the progress we’re making on setting up a Department of Homeland Security. I know it’s going to be hard for some in Congress to give up a little power here and there, but I think it’s going to happen because people realize we’re here to serve the American people, not here to serve a political party or turf in the United States Congress. (Applause.)

But the best way to secure the homeland is to hunt them down one by one. And I mean hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice, which is precisely what America will do. (Applause.)

I want to thank the choir for coming, the youngsters for being here. I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace. We want there to be peace. We want people to live in peace all around the world. I mean, our vision for peace extends beyond America. We believe in peace in South Asia. We believe in peace in the Middle East. We’re going to be steadfast toward a vision that rejects terror and killing, and honors peace and hope.

I also want the young to know that this country, we don’t conquer people, we liberate people — because we hold true to our values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The security of our homeland, the need to make sure that America is safe and secure while we chase peace is my number one priority for the country.

But I’ve got another priority, as well. I not only want America to be safer and stronger, I want America to be better. (Applause.) I want America to be a better place. I worry about our economy, because there are people who can’t find work who want to work. In this town, people look at numbers all the time — you know, such and such a number dropped, or this number increased. What I worry about are hearts and souls. That’s what I worry about. And if somebody is trying to find work who can’t find work, we need to continue to expand our job base. (Applause.)

We also have got to understand, in this land of plenty, there are pockets of hopelessness and despair. You know, I mentioned the word American Dream in Atlanta. I also recognize that some people aren’t sure that dream extends to them. Some people don’t even know what the dream means. And our job — our jobs, our collective jobs, is to make sure that notion of the American Dream extends into every single neighborhood around this country. (Applause.)

I know this isn’t the right department when I talk about education, but education, making sure every child is educated and no child is left behind, is part of making sure the American Dream extends to every single neighborhood in America. (Applause.) And we’re making progress in a practical way when it comes to educating children, because, you know what, for the first time the federal government says, if you receive money, you need to let us know whether the children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. And if they are, we’ll praise the teachers and praise the parents and praise the administrators. But if not, if our children can’t read and write and add and subtract, instead of just hoping something changes, we’re going to use the accountability system to insist upon change, so every child has a chance to realize the dream in America. (Applause.)

But I believe owning something is a part of the American Dream, as well. I believe when somebody owns their own home, they’re realizing the American Dream. They can say it’s my home, it’s nobody else’s home. (Applause.) And we saw that yesterday in Atlanta, when we went to the new homes of the new homeowners. And I saw with pride firsthand, the man say, welcome to my home. He didn’t say, welcome to government’s home; he didn’t say, welcome to my neighbor’s home; he said, welcome to my home. I own the home, and you’re welcome to come in the home, and I appreciate it. (Applause.) He was a proud man. He was proud that he owns the property. And I was proud for him. And I want that pride to extend all throughout our country.

One of the things that we’ve got to do is to address problems straight on and deal with them in a way that helps us meet goals. And so I want to talk about a couple of goals and — one goal and a problem.

The goal is, everybody who wants to own a home has got a shot at doing so. The problem is we have what we call a homeownership gap in America. Three-quarters of Anglos own their homes, and yet less than 50 percent of African Americans and Hispanics own homes. That ownership gap signals that something might be wrong in the land of plenty. And we need to do something about it.

We are here in Washington, D.C. to address problems. So I’ve set this goal for the country. We want 5.5 million more homeowners by 2010 — million more minority homeowners by 2010. (Applause.) Five-and-a-half million families by 2010 will own a home. That is our goal. It is a realistic goal. But it’s going to mean we’re going to have to work hard to achieve the goal, all of us. And by all of us, I mean not only the federal government, but the private sector, as well.

And so I want to, one, encourage you to do everything you can to work in a realistic, smart way to get this done. I repeat, we’re here for a reason. And part of the reason is to make this dream extend everywhere.

I’m going to do my part by setting the goal, by reminding people of the goal, by heralding the goal, and by calling people into action, both the federal level, state level, local level, and in the private sector. (Applause.)

And so what are the barriers that we can deal with here in Washington? Well, probably the single barrier to first-time homeownership is high down payments. People take a look at the down payment, they say that’s too high, I’m not buying. They may have the desire to buy, but they don’t have the wherewithal to handle the down payment. We can deal with that. And so I’ve asked Congress to fully fund an American Dream down payment fund which will help a low-income family to qualify to buy, to buy. (Applause.)

We believe when this fund is fully funded and properly administered, which it will be under the Bush administration, that over 40,000 families a year — 40,000 families a year — will be able to realize the dream we want them to be able to realize, and that’s owning their own home. (Applause.)

The second barrier to ownership is the lack of affordable housing. There are neighborhoods in America where you just can’t find a house that’s affordable to purchase, and we need to deal with that problem. The best way to do so, I think, is to set up a single family affordable housing tax credit to the tune of $2.4 billion over the next five years to encourage affordable single family housing in inner-city America. (Applause.)

The third problem is the fact that the rules are too complex. People get discouraged by the fine print on the contracts. They take a look and say, well, I’m not so sure I want to sign this. There’s too many words. (Laughter.) There’s too many pitfalls. So one of the things that the Secretary is going to do is he’s going to simplify the closing documents and all the documents that have to deal with homeownership.

It is essential that we make it easier for people to buy a home, not harder. And in order to do so, we’ve got to educate folks. Some of us take homeownership for granted, but there are people — obviously, the home purchase is a significant, significant decision by our fellow Americans. We’ve got people who have newly arrived to our country, don’t know the customs. We’ve got people in certain neighborhoods that just aren’t really sure what it means to buy a home. And it seems like to us that it makes sense to have a outreach program, an education program that explains the whys and wherefores of buying a house, to make it easier for people to not only understand the legal implications and ramifications, but to make it easier to understand how to get a good loan.

There’s some people out there that can fall prey to unscrupulous lenders, and we have an obligation to educate and to use our resource base to help people understand how to purchase a home and what — where the good opportunities might exist for home purchasing.

Finally, we want to make sure the Section 8 homeownership program is fully implemented. This is a program that provides vouchers for first-time home buyers which they can use for down payments and/or mortgage payments. (Applause.)

So this is an ambitious start here at the federal level. And, again, I repeat, you all need to help us every way you can. But the private sector needs to help, too. They need to help, too. Of course, it’s in their interest. If you’re a realtor, it’s in your interest that somebody be interested in buying a home. If you’re a homebuilder, it’s in your interest that somebody be interested in buying a home.

And so, therefore, I’ve called — yesterday, I called upon the private sector to help us and help the home buyers. We need more capital in the private markets for first-time, low-income buyers. And I’m proud to report that Fannie Mae has heard the call and, as I understand, it’s about $440 billion over a period of time. They’ve used their influence to create that much capital available for the type of home buyer we’re talking about here. It’s in their charter; it now needs to be implemented. Freddie Mac is interested in helping. I appreciate both of those agencies providing the underpinnings of good capital.

There’s a lot of faith-based programs that want to be involved with educating people about how to buy a home. And we’re going to have an active outreach from HUD. (Applause.)

And so this ambitious goal is going to be met. I believe it will be, just so long as we keep focused, and remember that security at home is — economic security at home is just an important part of — as homeland security. And owning a home is part of that economic security. It’s also a part of making sure that this country fulfills its great hope and vision.

See, I tell people — and I believe this — that out of the evil done to America will come some incredible good. (Applause.) You know, they thought they were attacking a country so weak and so feeble that we might file a lawsuit or two, and that’s all we’d do. (Laughter.) That’s what they thought. We’re showing them the different face of America. We’re showing them that we’re plenty tough. When it comes to taking somebody trying to take away our freedoms, we’re tough, and we’re going to remain tough and steadfast. (Applause.)

But I also want people to see the deep compassion of America, as well. I want the world to see the other side of our character, which is the soft side, the decent side, the loving side. I want people to know that when we talk about dreams, we mean big dreams. And when we talk about a free society, we want a society in which every citizen has the chance to advance, not just a few.

And part of the cornerstone of America is the ability for somebody, regardless of where they’re from, regardless of where they were born, to say, this is my home; I own this home, it is my piece of property, it is my part of the American experience. It is essential that we stay focused on the goal, and work hard to achieve that goal. And when it’s all said and done, we can look back and say, because of my work, because of our collective work, America is a better place. Out of evil came incredible good.

Thank you all for coming by.

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