Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Club-K Container Missile System and the Russian propaganda machine [Part 2]

[Ed. Note: You can read Part 1, here.]

Russian propagandists are wasting no time in responding to recent media reports concerning a Russian weapons manufacturer that is marketing a devastating new cruise missile system, called "The Club-K", a weapon which could easily be used by rogue elements to wipe out US aircraft carriers and military installations.

Western defense experts say the missile system - manufactured by Novator, and its parent company, Concern Morinformsystem-Agat - is designed to be concealed as a standard 40ft shipping container that cannot be identified until it is activated. Iran and Venezuela have already shown an interest in the Club-K Container Missile System. A marketing film [produced by the company] shows Club-K containers stowed on ships, trucks and trains as a neighboring country prepares to invade with American style military equipment. (Telegraph - UK)

Novator, has already agreed to provide Iran - the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism - with the S-300 long range surface-to-air missile system.

Nevertheless, despite all evidence to the contrary [including the aforementioned marketing film], Concern Morinformsystem-Agat, issued both a brazen and disingenuous press release on Monday asserting that the 'Club-K' can not be used from a "container ship or truck" and that the "system eliminates the possibility of unauthorized arms transfer to the terroristic organizations and regimes.":
The Club-K System is designated first of all for installation on the ships called up for military service in the case of threat. The professionals understand perfectly well that it is impossible to use such system from any container ship or truck.
Apparently, the marketing film showing the missiles being fired from ordinary trucks and trains was merely a practical joke. Ahem... It should be noted, though, that the company's own website explicitly states that the "Club-K Missile System can be installed on... railway and automobile platforms." Hmmm... Oh, well, back to the press release:
The development of Club-K System was based first of all on the fact that not all the countries are able to afford such expensive “toys” for their fleet as corvettes, frigates, destroyers, cruisers and other vigorous ships equipped with missile weapon. But nobody has the right to deprive it of the opportunity to have its power of sovereignty. Moreover the potential aggressor should keep in mind that he can suffer unacceptable damage. [Hmmm...]

In Russia there is the strictest export control system that prove-outs clearly the process of selling of weapon and dual technologies, this system eliminates the possibility of unauthorized arms transfer to the terroristic organizations and regimes.

Hereby to our point of view the Club-K Container Missile System does not only promote terrorism, but on the contrary it is designed for effective counter measures of state terrorism.
That last sentence appears to be a Freudian slip of the tongue. Let's read that one more time:
The Club-K Container Missile System does not only promote terrorism, but on the contrary it is designed for effective counter measures of state terrorism."
Hmmm. In any case, I think what they're trying to say is that they have no intention of selling the S-300 and the Club-K to countries that sponsor terrorism, but rather to countries like Iran, who desperately need these weapons to defend themselves against state sponsors of terrorism. Ahem....

I'm happy the company was able to clear that one up.

Related News: 'Al-Hayat': Russia Supplied Syria With S-300 Missiles

Previous Post: The Club-K Container Missile System, Obama successfully resets US-Russian relations

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Club-K Container Missile System, Obama successfully resets US-Russian relations

[Ed. Note: You can read Part 2, here]

"Less than two years ago, in the wake of the Russian-Georgia war, many of us here today worried about the very real danger of a steady adversarial drift between Washington and Moscow... Today, the difference in outlook is striking. Promising a "fresh start," President Obama and President Medvedev set the tone for a new relationship!"
Daniel A. Russell, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, addressing the World Russia Forum - April 26, 2010

From the New York Times - April 26, 2010:
A Russian company is marketing a devastating new cruise missile system which can be hidden inside a shipping container, giving any merchant vessel the capability to wipe out an aircraft carrier.

Potential customers for the formidable Club-K system include Kremlin allies Iran and Venezuela, say defense experts. They worry that countries could pass on the satellite-guided missiles, which are very hard to detect, to terrorist groups.

"At a stroke, the Club-K gives a long-range precision strike capability to ordinary vehicles that can be moved to almost any place on earth without attracting attention," said Robert Hewson of Jane's Defense Weekly, who first disclosed its existence...

"The idea that you can hide a missile system in a box and drive it around without anyone knowing is pretty new," said Hewson, who is editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons. "Nobody's ever done that before."...

"Unless sales are very tightly controlled," he said, "there is a danger that it could end up in the wrong hands."...

Russia is one of the world's top arms exporters, selling a record $8.5 billion of weapons last year to countries ranging from Syria and Venezuela to Algeria and China. Its order book is estimated to top $40 billion.

"Potential clients [of the Club-K] include anyone who likes the idea," said [Mikhail Barabanov, a defense expert at Russia's Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies]. "It is known that the United Arab Emirates has shown interest in buying the Club."...

"It's a carrier-killer," said Hewson of Jane's. "If you are hit by one or two of them, the kinetic impact is vast...it's horrendous."
From the Telegraph UK:
Iran and Venezuela have already shown an interest in the Club-K Container Missile System which could allow them to carry out pre-emptive strikes from behind an enemy's missile defences.

Defence experts say the system is designed to be concealed as a standard 40ft shipping container that cannot be identified until it is activated.

Priced at an estimated £10 million, each container is fitted with four cruise anti-ship or land attack missiles. The system represents an affordable "strategic level weapon".

Some experts believe that if Iraq had the Club-K system in 2003 it would have made it impossible for America to invade with any container ship in the Gulf a potential threat. Club-K is being marketed at the Defence Services Asia exhibition in Malaysia this week.

Novator, the manufacturer, is an advanced missile specialist that would not have marketed the system without Moscow's approval. It has released an emotive marketing film complete with dramatic background music.

It shows Club-K containers stowed on ships, trucks and trains as a neighbouring country prepares to invade with American style military equipment.

The enemy force is wiped out by the cruise missile counter attack.

Russia has already prompted concern in Washington by selling Iran the sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missile system that would make targeting of Iranian nuclear facilities very difficult. [Ed. Note: Debka points out that the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is manufactured by Novator, the same company that is producing the Club-K system]

"This Club-K is game changing with the ability to wipe out an aircraft carrier 200 miles away. The threat is immense in that no one can tell how far deployed your missiles could be," said Robert Hewson, editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, who first reported on the Club-K developments.

"What alerted me to this was that the Russians were advertising it at specific international defence event and they have marketed it very squarely at anyone under threat of action from the US."

Reuben Johnson, a Pentagon defence consultant, said the system would be a "real maritime fear for anyone with a waterfront".

"This is ballistic missile proliferation on a scale we have not seen before because now you cannot readily identify what's being used as a launcher because it's very carefully disguised.

"Someone could sail off your shore looking innocuous then the next minute big explosions are going off at your military installations."
Putin and Medvedev are attempting to offset the United States' military advantage in an effort to weaken the U.S., so that Russia can not only reclaim its former glory as a world superpower, but become the dominant superpower in the world. Undoubtedly, this is why the Russians are assisting Iran with its nuclear program and why they're supplying Iran and its ilk with highly sophisticated and advanced weaponry. Obama, in all likelihood, agrees with the Russians, because he strongly ascribes to the notion that all nations must be equal militarily and that the U.S. has no right to retain its military supremacy.

Ah yes, Obama is 'resetting US-Russian relations!' His diplomatic prowess is clearly unmatched by any of the previous US Presidents!

"Hope" & "Change" at last! How refreshing, indeed!

Video of the Club-K Container Missile System below:

Also read the latest post: The Club-K Container Missile System and the Russian propaganda machine [Part 2]

Related News: 'Al-Hayat': Russia Supplied Syria With S-300 Missiles

NY Mag: Obama Doesn’t Need You, White Men

From New York Magazine:
Unless you're young! But older white men — forget it. At least that's what President Obama himself says in a new video released by the DNC, in which he rallies his supporters for the 2010 elections. "It will be up to each of you," Obama says directly into the camera, "to make sure that the young people, African Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again." Maybe these are the most important demographic groups for the Democrats this year, but by mentioning basically everyone except for white men, it sounds like Obama doesn't really care about the support of white men. (Also, Asian-Americans might feel kind of slighted.)

This seems like a strange message to send to a group that's already fleeing to the Tea Party movement in response to the Obama presidency. Here's another reason for you to look warily at Obama, white guys! And besides, white men did help push Obama to victory in 2008 — he received 41 percent of the white male vote, which is the highest percentage for a Democratic presidential candidate in twenty years, and a four-point boost over John Kerry's 2004 share. As white men accounted for over a third of all votes cast in 2008, that 4 percent boost mattered.
Other News: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer attended a rally for Majority Whip Jim Clyburn on Friday. "Steny Hoyer couldn't resist asking the DJ, 'Do you do the Electric Slide down here?', a blogger explained. And lo' and behold, he performed the Electric Slide flawlessly, well, almost flawlessly - VIDEO.

News to Peruse

More Global Warming Profiteering by Obama Energy Official

Where is Bill Clinton? This ain't no Tea Party!

Deficit Commission co-chair: Obama said "Everything is on the table" - Despite his own campaign tax pledge

Obama urges supporters to begin preparing for 2010 midterm elections

About those lower insurance costs we promised.....

Video: Nike's controversial Tiger Woods Commercial: A Voice from beyond - The late Earl Woods speaks to his son, Tiger

Video: A voice from beyond: Obama Health Care Mistake

Friday, April 23, 2010

Obama vs Gibbs on the Value Added Tax

"I know that there's been a lot of talk around town lately about the value added tax. That is something that has worked for some countries. It is something that would be novel for the United States. And before I start saying, this makes sense or that makes sense, I want to get a better picture of what our options are."
President Obama, in an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - Video

"Well, I think I directed an answer to this the other day by saying that it wasn’t something that the President had under consideration."
White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, Wednesday April 21, 2010, responding to a to a reporter who asked him whether the President would consider implementing a valued added tax.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blagojevich, Obama, Rezko and Jarrett, a tangled web of crime & corruption - Will Obama be exonerated? - UPDATE: Redacting docs and protecting Obama

The defense team for deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich has moved to subpoena President Barack Obama to testify at Blagojevich's corruption trial.

According to the Huffington Post, one of the accusations included in a blacked-out portion of the document [the motion] alleges that the Obama campaign accepted "a large [and illegal] sum of cash" from convicted felon and government witness Tony Rezko.

The document states among other things:
Rezko “has stated in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich. … Further, the public official denies being aware of cash contributions to his campaign by Rezko or others and denies having conversations with Rezko related to cash contributions... Rezko has also stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official ... [Although Rezko claims that] the public official rejected the offer, the public official denies any such conversation...
A footnote to this allegation reads: 'The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama,' suggesting that it coincides with elements of Rezko's claims", the Huffington Post reported on Thursday.

The document also alleges that President Obama suggested Valerie Jarrett [a senior adviser to the President] get his old seat, and that he contacted labor union officials about lobbying the Governor's office on her behalf, the Huffington Post noted.

From CBS news:
Obama has stated publicly that he was "confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat," a motion to issue the subpoena states. Yet the motion contends that "President Obama's public statements contradict other witness statements." It specifically cites statements from a labor union official whom Blagojevich met with and believed to be in contact with the president..."
The unredacted document - cited in the Huffington Post - can be read below. [I have left out most of the footnotes.] There's plenty of info in this document that would seem to implicate the President of - among other things - lying to Government Agents [the FBI] (18 U.S.C. Section 10010) and violating election laws by accepting large [and thus, illegal] sums of cash from convicted felon, Tony Rezko. Obama comes out looking like a blatant liar and a veritable crook. But sadly, we know the President, in the end, will [inequitably] be absolved of all wrongdoing.

Update: The Huffington Post notes that although the document had been redacted, HuffPost Chicago managed to extract the redacted portions of the document and reconstruct the full subpoena. Apparently, as others have noted, by copying and pasting the entire motion into a text file the blacked-out portions become viewable.

Nevertheless, one can't help but notice how the redacted material in the document just happens to be the part that is most detrimental to the President. Apparently, the Feds were trying to protect Obama, which doesn't surprise me at all.

The redacted document can be read here. Here's the unredacted version:

Now Comes Defendant Rod Blagojevich, by and through his counsels and hereby requests this court issue a subpoena ad testificandum for President Barack Obama. In support of said motion, defendant states the following:

1. President Barack Obama was elected November 4, 2008 and was inaugurated January 20, 2009. Before being elected President, Mr. Obama was a United States Senator from Illinois.

2. As a result of the election of Mr. Obama, his Senate seat was open for appointment by Governor Rod Blagojevich.

3. The charges against Mr. Blagojevich stem from his appointment of President-elect Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

4. According to media reports, President Obama was interviewed by two United States attorneys and two FBI agents for two hours. (Although it is the defense’s position that all tapes and sealed information be made public, to comply with the Protective Order of April 14, 2009, portions that contain sealed information provided by the government have been redacted. The defense, however, urges this Court unseal the entire motion...)

5. On December 19, 2009, the defense filed a Motion for Discovery. In that motion, the defense requested all notes, transcripts, and reports generated from the government’s interview of President Barack Obama.

6. As of today’s date, the defense has not received any notes, transcripts, or reports from President Obama’s interview with the government.

7. The government alleges that Defendant Rod Blagojevich met “with a labor union official who he believed to be in contact with the President-elect in regard to the vacant Senate seat, and suggested to the labor union official that Rod Blagojevich would appoint Senate Candidate B to the vacant Senate seat in exchange for Rod Blagojevich being named Secretary of Health and Human Services.” (Indictment p. 101, para. 10(c)).

8. President Obama has stated publicly that he was “confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat.”

9. Yet, despite President Obama stating that no representatives of his had any part of any deals, labor union president told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to labor union official on November 3, 2008 who received a phone message from Obama that evening. After labor union official listened to the message labor union official told labor union president “I’m the one”. Labor union president took that to mean that labor union official was to be the one to deliver the message on behalf of Obama that Senate Candidate B was his pick.

10. Labor union official told the FBI and the United States Attorneys “Obama expressed his belief that [Senate Candidate B] would be a good Senator for the people of Illinois and would be a candidate who could win re-election. [Labor union official] advised Obama that [labor union official] would reach out to Governor Blagojevich and advocate for [Senate Candidate B].. . . [Labor union official] called [labor union president] and told [labor union president] that Obama was aware that [labor union official] would be reaching out to Blagojevich."

11. According to Senate candidate B, on November, 4 2008, Senate Candidate B spoke with labor union official about the Senate seat. Labor union official said he spoke to Obama. Labor union official said he was going to meet with Blagojevich and said “he was going to push Blagojevich hard on this. According to Senate Candidate B, labor union official’s language could have been stronger than the language that she was reporting to the government.”

12. On November 5, 2008, Blagojevich told John Harris that labor union official "talked to Barack Obama, wants to come and see me.” Blagojevich then told Harris that labor union official “was very explicit with me, “I talked to Barack about the Senate seat. Can I come and see ya? Can I do it tomorrow?’ I said, sure.” (Blagojevich Home Phone Call # 261).

13. A supporter of Presidential Candidate Obama suggested that she talk to the wife of Governor Blagojevich about Senate Candidate B for Senator. Supporter of Presidential Candidate Obama is mentioned in a phone call on November 3, 2008, having offered “fundraising” in exchange for Senate Candidate B for senator (Blagojevich Home Phone Call # 149).

14. President Obama has direct knowledge to allegations made in the indictment. In addition, President Obama’s public statements contradict other witness statements, specifically those made by labor union official and Senate Candidate B. It is anticipated that labor union official will be a witness for the government. His accounts of events directly related to the charges in the indictment are contradicted by President Obama’s public statement.

15. [However], the prosecutor in this case indicated “there’s no allegation that the president elect – there’s no reference in the complaint to any conversations involving president elect or indicating that the president-elect was aware of it.”

16. There are two conflicting stories and the defense has the right to admit evidence that contradicts the government’s claims. Only President Obama can do this.

17. President-elect Obama also spoke to Governor Blagojevich on December 1, 2008 in Philadelphia. On Harris Cell Phone Call # 139, John Harris and Governor’s legal counsel discuss a conversation Blagojevich had with President-elect Obama. The government claims a conspiracy existed from October 22, 2008 continuing through December 9, 2008. That conversation is relvant to the defense of the government's theory of an ongoing conspiracy. Only Rod Blagojevich and President Obama can testify to contents of that conversation. The defense is allowed to present evidence that corroborates the defendant's testimony.

18. President-elect Obama also suggested Senate Candidate A to Governor Blagojevich. John Harris told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to President’s Chief of Staff on November 12, 2008. Harris took notes of the conversation and wrote that President’s Chief had previously worked as Blagojevich's press secretary. Obama's Chief of Staff told Harris that Senate Candidate A was acceptable to Obama as a senate pick. (Harris handwritten notes, OOG1004463) President’s Chief of Staff told the FBI that “he could not say where but somewhere it was communicated to him that” Senate Candidate A was a suggested candidate viewed as one of the four “right” candidates “by the Obama transition team.” Harris told Blagojevich Obama's suggestion on November 12, 2008.

19. President-elect Obama was also involved in other senate candidate choices. On December 8, 2008, John Harris’ secretary’s call log noted President’s Chief of Staff called at 10:47 am and wrote “needs to talk to you asap” President’s Chief of Staff told the FBI that he had a conversation discussing the Senate seat with Obama on December 7, 2008 in Obama’s car. President’s Chief of Staff told the FBI “Obama expressed concern about Senate Candidate D being appointed as Senator. [President’s Chief of Staff] suggested they might need an expanded list to possibly include names of African Americans that came out of the business world. [President’s Chief of Staff] thought he suggested Senate Candidate E who was the head of the Urban League and with President’s Chief of Staff’s suggestion."

20. President Barack Obama has direct knowledge of the Senate seat allegation. President Obama’s testimony is relevant to three fundamental issues of that allegation. First, President Obama contradicts the testimony of an important government witness. Second, President Obama’s testimony is relevant to the necessary element of intent of the defendant. Third, President Obama is the only one who can say if emissaries were sent on his behalf, who those emissaries were, and what, if anything, those emissaries were instructed to do on his behalf. All of these issues are relevant and necessary for the defense of Rod Blagojevich.

21. Tony Rezko is one of the government’s main witnesses.Mr. Rezko’s credibility is extremely relevant in this trial. In many instances, Mr. Rezko is the government’s crucial witness to prove up their allegations. Mr. Rezko wrote a letter to a federal judge stating “the prosecutors have been overzealous in pursuing a crime that never happened. They are pressuring me to tell them the “wrong” things that I supposedly know about Governor Blagojevich and Senator Obama. I have never been a party to any wrongdoing that involved the Governor or the Senator. I will never fabricate lies about anyone else for selfish purposes.”

22. However, the defense has a good faith belief that Mr. Rezko, President Obama’s former friend, fund-raiser, and neighbor told the FBI and the United States Attorneys a different story about President Obama. In a recent in camera proceeding, the government tendered a three paragraph letter indicating that Rezko “has stated in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich. … Further, the public official denies being aware of cash contributions to his campaign by Rezko or others and denies having conversations with Rezko related to cash contributions. … Rezko has also stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official, whereby the lobbyist would hold a fundraiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action, but that the public official rejected the offer. The public official denies any such conversation. In addition, Rezko has stated to the government that he and the public official had certain conversations about gaming legislation and administration, which the public official denies having had. [Footnote No. 10 - The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama. See, “Obama on Rezko deal: It was a mistake”, Dave McKinney, Chris Fusco, and Mark Brown, Chicago Sun Times, November 5, 2006. Senator Barack Obama was asked: “Did Rezko or his companies ever solicit your support on any matter involving state or federal government? Did Al Johnson, who was trying to get a casino license along with Tony Rezko, or Rezko himself ever discuss casino matters with you?” Senator Obama answered: “No, I have never been asked to do anything to advance his business interest. In 1999, when I was a State Senator, I opposed legislation to bring a casino to Rosemont and allow casino gambling at docked riverboats which news reports said Al Johnson and Tony Rezko were interested in being part of. I never discussed a casino license with either of them. I was a vocal opponent of the legislation.” Obama’s involvement with Tony Rezko and this legislation coincides with the three paragraph summary the government has provided to the defense referenced above.]

23. President Obama is the only one who can testify as to the veracity of Mr. Rezko’s allegations above.

24. President Obama has pertinent information as to the character of Mr. Rezko. President Obama can testify to Mr. Rezko’s reputation for truthfulness [ahem] as well as his own opinion of Mr. Rezko’s character.

25. Based on the relationship that President Obama and Mr. Rezko had, President Obama can provide important information as to Mr. Rezko’s plan, intent, opportunity, habit and modus operandi. [Ed. Note: Yep, Obama is quite familiar with Rezko's habit and modus operandi. Heh.] For example, in June 2005, President Obama purchased a house for $1.65 million, $300,000 below the asking price. On the same day Tony Rezko’s wife, Rita, paid full price -- $625,000 -- for the adjoining land. In January 2006, Obama paid Mr. Rezko $104,500 for a strip of the adjoining land. The transaction took place when it was widely known that Mr. Rezko was under investigation. President Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko is relevant and necessary.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Obama's Allies: PACS, Lobbyists, Bundlers and Big Oil!

At a White House Press briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary and master rhetorician, Robert Gibbs, was asked by a reporter: "Has anyone inside the White House suggested that the Obama campaign might want to give back any donations that came from Goldman Sachs personnel?"

Obama raised $996,595 from Goldman employees during the Presidential campaign.

Gibbs responded: "The President doesn’t take, and didn’t in the campaign, take PAC money, [and] doesn’t take money from registered federal lobbyists."

The American Thinker, in a July 2008 post entitled, "Obama The PAC-Man", noted that the SEIU's PAC "spent over $9 million during a crucial three month period to help Obama secure the Democrats' nomination." CNS News reported that "the SEIU political action committee made more than $27 million in independent expenditures in support of Obama’s presidential campaign, according to a filing the PAC made with the Federal Election Commission."

$27 Million! MERCY!

But apparently, "independent expenditures" don't count, as far as Obama and Robert Gibbs are concerned. Hmmm...

The FEC defines "independent expenditures' as follows:
An independent expenditure is an expenditure for a communication 'expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate that is not made in cooperation, consultation, or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, a candidate's authorized committee, or their agents, or a political party or its agents.
The American thinker makes the following observation:
FEC rules require that such so-called "independent expenditures" by political committees be limited to communications, such as the ubiquitous TV spots and newspaper ads to which we have all become accustomed, but SEIU's PACs have paid for such campaign essentials as door-to-door canvassing for Obama, voter identification and registration, and even bus rental and food for pro-Obama rallies.
The American Thinker also notes:
By opting out of accepting cash donations directly from PACs -- just as he became the first major party candidate to opt out of federal funding and the restrictions that come with it -- Obama steered the committees who support him, and whose support he [sought], down a path which allows limitless spending on his behalf. And has he ever benefited from it!

Federal records show that Obama has been the beneficiary of "independent" expenditures from Moveon.org, NARAL, the United Food & Commercial Workers International, and other PACs. But the Big Daddy to the Big O has been SEIU...

The SEIU announced on June 24th that they plan "a budget of $85 million for the [2008 Presidential] election, targeting swing states for Obama's presidential campaign" and other candidates...

As if to intentionally add new heights to political hypocrisy, the announcement followed by mere days Obama's pronouncement that the Democratic National Committee "won't take another dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. They do not fund my campaign. They will not fund our party."

He even managed to say it with a straight face.

Now that is audacity.
From the USA Today, April 16, 2008:
Obama tied to lobbyists, but boasts of not taking money

Barack Obama often boasts he is "the only candidate who isn't taking a dime from Washington lobbyists," yet his fundraising team includes 38 members of law firms that were paid $138 million last year to lobby the federal government, records show.

Those lawyers, including 10 former federal lobbyists, have pledged to raise at least $3.5 million for the Illinois senator's presidential race. Employees of their firms have given Obama's campaign $2.26 million, a USA TODAY analysis of campaign finance data shows.

Thirty-one of the 38 are law firm partners, who typically receive a share of their firm's lobbying fees. At least six of them have some managerial authority over lobbyists.

"It makes no difference whether the person is a registered lobbyist or the partner of a registered lobbyist, if the person is raising money to get access or curry favor," said Michael Malbin, director of the Campaign Finance Institute, a non-partisan think tank.
FactCheck. org noted that although Obama claimed that he never accepted money from lobbyists, this is ultimately "a bit of hair-splitting." Obama might not have received contributions from individuals who were registered lobbyists of the federal government, but he did accept money from "their spouses and from other individuals at firms where lobbyists work. And some of his bigger fundraisers were registered lobbyists until they signed on with the Obama campaign."

Earlier this year, when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions have no limits on how much they can spend on campaign ads, President Obama stated: "With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans."

Yet, despite all the rhetoric, the Obama campaign raked in $20 million from the health care industry.

During the Presidential campaign Obama stated emphatically: "I don’t take money from oil companies", and yet he accepted more than $213,000 in contributions from individuals who work for, or whose spouses work for, companies in the oil and gas industry.

Two oil industry executives, who bundled money for Obama, were listed on his Web site as raising between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama's presidential campaign.

According to the Center for Responsible Politics, "campaign bundlers" directed at least $76,500,000 to Obama's Presidential campaign.

USA Today noted that many of these bundlers currently occupy key positions in the Obama administration:
More than 40% of President Obama's top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas.

Twenty of the 47 fundraisers that Obama's campaign identified as collecting more than $500,000 have been named to government positions, the analysis found.

Overall, about 600 individuals and couples raised money... to help fund Obama's presidential campaign. USA TODAY's analysis found that 54 have been named to government positions...
Incidentally, according to the Center for Responsible Politics [June 2008], securities and investment companies contributed $7.9 million to Obama's Presidential campaign.


To borrow part of a statement issued by the President in January regarding the Supreme Court's decision to roll back campaign spending limits [the statement was cited earlier in this post]:
The Presidential campaign of Barack Obama [in 2008] "has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Freedom thrives at DADT White House Protest!

From the Politico:
Police chased reporters away from the White House and closed Lafayette Park today in response to a gay rights protest in which several service members in full uniform handcuffed themselves to the White House gate to protest "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

People who have covered the White House for years tell me that's an extremely unusual thing to do in an area that regularly features protests.

A reporter can be seen in the YouTube video [below] calling the move "outrageous" and "ridiculous."

Park Police arrested several gay rights protestors who had handcuffed themselves to the fence in front of the White House. Capt. P.J. Beck of the Park Police said they were arrested for "failure to obey a lawful order" and that they would be taken to the Anacostia station to be processed.

According to a release from GetEQUAL, the gay rights group that organized the protest, there were six service members arrested. Police uncuffed them and slowly led them away one by one. Lt. Dan Choi, who was arrested here in a similar protest on March 18th, was the last to be handcuffed. GetEQUAL also organized that protest, and was also behind the group of protestors who interrupted President Obama's remarks at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Los Angeles Monday night.
Apparently, the White House decided to close off Lafayette Park to the protesters today to retaliate for the heckling the President received at the DNC fundraiser last night. Or, perhaps Obama simply can't take the heat and the bad press.

Meanwhile, Libtalker Ed Schultz went berserk today when someone called into his radio program and criticized the President for evincing a lack of openness and transparency during the time he was pushing his healthcare bill.

"President Obama couldn't have been any more transparent!" Schultz hollered. "He couldn't have been any more open!"

Schultz also claimed to have read through the 2000 page health care bill.

Iranian missile may be able to hit U.S. by 2015

From Reuters:
Iran may be able to build a missile capable of striking the United States by 2015, according to an unclassified Defense Department report on Iran's military sent to Congress and released on Monday.

"With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015," said the April report...
An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery. - Source - Wikipedia
[Additionally], the [Defense Dept.] report cited recently uncovered caches of weapons that Iran's Qods Force gave to Afghan militants. They contained "large amounts of Iranian-manufactured weapons," including 107 mm rockets.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Revolution Muslim - 'No Red Flags'?

In the aftermath of both the Fort Hood attack and the attempted Christmas Day bombing, the Obama administration asserted it was doing everything within its power to protect the American people from future attacks. However, if the administration's assertion is true, then why are members of the radical [New York-based] Islamic group, Revolution Islam, currently roaming around freely in the US? Why haven't they been arrested and sent to prison?

On the group's website, in a post entitled, "What Can The West Do To Protect Its Civilians?", Revolution Islam states as follows:
"It should be noted that the default ruling on killing a civilian is that it is haraam (forbidden). However, there are situations in which it is permissible to target civilians in some situations, or ignore the risk of killing them in others. Furthermore it should be noted that the definition of a civilian or a non-combatant in Islam is different from that of the West’s . In Islam we do not consider CIA operatives responsible for planning drone attacks as civilians. We do not consider armed security personnel as civilians... We consider anyone who is not reasonably suspected of directly aiding in the fight against the Muslims to be a civilian or a non-combatant."
Sounds eerily similar to the ideology of the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hasan.

Additionally, CNN is reporting that Revolution Islam "is going after the creators of the TV cartoon series "South Park" after an episode last week included an image of the Prophet Mohammed in disguise.":
Revolution Muslim, based in New York, was the subject of a CNN investigation last year for its radical rhetoric supporting “jihad” against the West and praising al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden...

On Sunday, Revolution Muslim posted an entry [on its website] that included a warning to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that they risk violent retribution – after the 200th episode last week included a satirical discussion about whether an image of the prophet could be shown. In the end, he is portrayed disguised in a bear suit...

The posting [on the website] says: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”...

Theo van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered by an Islamic extremist in 2004 after making a short documentary on violence against women in some Islamic societies. The posting on Revolution Muslim's website features a graphic photograph of Van Gogh with his throat cut and a dagger in his chest.
If indeed an attack is perpetrated against the South Park creators, the Obama administration will likely issue the following statement [or something to this effect]:
We vehemently condemn all acts of violence, whether perpetrated in the name of a particular religion or/and as a result of a particular grievance that an oppressed and despairing individual, or group of individuals, has against an abhorent group of people that are deserving of extreme and harsh retribution.

We hereby affirm - similar to the affirmation we made earlier in the year with regards to the Fort Hood attacker, Nidal Hasan - that no red flags have ever been raised about the conduct or the activities of members of the "Revolution Muslim" organization ". In fact, up until the recent inadvertent attack, the aforementioned group had been regarded as a morally upright and peaceful organization.

It should also be noted that the perpetrators of this misguided attack are currently undergoing intense psychological testing and mental evaluation in order to ascertain and better comprehend what led these fine young gentlemen to engage in an unintended and brutal attack of this nature. Consequently, the public should avoid jumping to conclusions and refrain from making premature judgments with regards to the motives of the attackers until we have completed our ongoing and never-ending investigation.

To members of the Homeland Security & Governmental affairs Committee, we request that you refrain from issuing subpoenas to members of the Justice Dept. and other members of the administration, as this will likely impede with our interminable and futile investigation.

Please rest assured that we are doing everything within our power to keep the American people safe.
Related News: Holder, Gates subpoenaed in Fort Hood case

Friday, April 16, 2010

McChrystal: Signs some Taliban trained in Iran

From the AP:
The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan says there are signs that some Taliban fighters are training in Iran.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal also says some weapons and ammunition have entered Afghanistan from Iran. But the numbers "are not operationally significant (and) they have not changed the fight."

McChrystal said Friday at France's IHEDN military institute that he has no proof that the Iranian government is channeling fighters or equipment to Afghanistan.

He says he would be concerned if flows increase.
Hmmm... I'm not sure why McChrystal seems so intent on playing down the Iranian/Taliban alliance. Here's what the US State Dept., in its annual report on State Sponsored Terrorism, wrote in April of last year:
Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism... The Qods Force, an elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.... Iran’s IRGC Qods Force provided assistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Qods Force provided training to the Taliban on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire weapons. Since at least 2006, Iran has arranged arms shipments including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives to select Taliban members.
Clearly, Iran’s IRGC Qods Force, "the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad", has been channeling a significant supply of weaponry to the Taliban. For McChrystal to say "he has no proof that the Iranian government [regime] is channeling" arms to Afghanistan and that the number of weapons and ammunition entering Afghanistan from Iran "are not operationally significant", seems a bit odd.

It is highly unlikely that Iran's support of the Taliban could have changed so dramatically since the State Department issued the aforementioned report last year. Perhaps the General's been hanging around Obama a little too much. The Iranian appeasement bug, after all, can be quite contagious if one does not take the necessary precautionary measures to avoid catching the dreaded disease. Excessive consumption of the Obama Koolaid has also been found to cause catastrophic side effects. I'm not a physician, but nevertheless, I would advise Gen. McChrystal to get plenty of rest and, in the future, to avoid any kind of direct - or indirect - contact with Obama administration officials.
Last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of "playing a double game" by nurturing relations with Afghanistan while supporting insurgents to undermine U.S. and NATO troops.

Obama's $1M from Goldman in 2008 was a record for any company

From the San Francisco Examiner:
President Obama has portrayed himself as the scourge of Wall Street, but that's not how Goldman Sachs's employees and executives saw him in 2008. In his successful White House bid, Obama had no better source of funds: He raised $996,595 from people identifying Goldman as their employer:

Let's put that number in perspective:

It's the most any politician has raised from a single company since campaign finance reform.

It was four times what John McCain raised from Goldman.

It's more than the combined Goldman Sachs total of every Republican in 2008 running for President, House, and Senate.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taliban claim Victory after US leaves 'Valley of Death', Obama says US making progress in Afghanistan

From the AFP:
Taliban militants on Thursday claimed victory after the US military withdrew this week from a rebel-infested area in eastern Afghanistan that became known as the "Valley of Death".

Troops pulled back from Korengal, a rugged mountainous region in Kunar province bordering Pakistan, as part of what NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said was its new "repositioning" strategy....

The Taliban, the main insurgent group that controls several districts in southern and eastern parts of the country, were quick to seize on the US withdrawal, after years of fierce fighting in the sparsely populated valley.

"It's a great victory for us," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"The area is very, very important for us. Its mountains provide us a good hideout, it can be used as a training ground and lead our operations across the region from there," he said.

"US troops fled under our constant attacks."...
From Voice of America:
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States is making progress in Afghanistan, and his plan to withdraw U.S. forces next year is on track.

In an interview with Australian public television broadcast Thursday, Mr. Obama said the U.S. has seen "a blunting of the momentum of the Taliban."...

Federal Judge rules National Prayer Day is unconstitutional

From the Washington Times:
A federal court in Wisconsin decided Thursday that the country's National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional because it calls on citizens to take part in religious activity.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb [an apointee of former President, Jimmy Carter] ruled that the statute that created the National Day of Prayer violates the Constitution's prohibition against the government establishment of religion...
Even though the Obama administration apparently did not concur with this ruling, it is worthy to note that the President, last year, opted not to have a prayer service in the White House.

Other news:

Benazir Bhutto 'left to mercy of assassins by security chief'

Lieberman, Collins warn they'll issue subpoenas over Ft. Hood shootings if the administration fails to turn over information

Sen. Collins told reporters today:
“Sadly, for the past five months, we have been stymied by this Administration in our attempt to gain access to the documents and people that we need to interview in order to better understand what the government knew about Major Hasan prior to the attack. We have taken step after step, made offer after offer, to accommodate any legitimate concerns expressed by the Administration. Unfortunately, what we’re dealing with are not legitimate concerns, but rather what seems to be an inexplicable determination to stalemate and slow-walk our investigation.”

"I want to just emphasize again that we do not take the step of issuing subpoenas lightly. When I was chairman of the [Homeland Security & Governmental affairs] Committee we were forced to issue five subpoenas of Bush administration officials, and I took that step very seriously as well. But once again, we have come to a point where we're not going to be able to carry out our very important independent, bipartisan investigation without the access to these documents and individuals. Therefore, we've concluded that we have no choice but to issue the subpoenas unless the situation changes dramatically over the weekend."
Other News:

From The Foundry - 'Tax Day' coincidence?
The Associated Press reported last week: “Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions, but for nearly half of U.S. households it’s simply somebody else’s problem. About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009.”

A new Gallup poll out this week finds that 45% of Americans believe “the amount of federal income tax you have to pay” are “about right.”

47% of Americans pay no taxes and 45% believe what they pay is about right. What are the odds that these are the same Americans?
Other News:

McCain Throws Down the VAT [Value-Added Tax] Gauntlet

Issa Demands Answers from Holder on Investigation of CIA Agent Photos Found in Guantanamo Detainee Cells

Wants to know what measures have been taken to ensure the investigation is free of politics and conflicts of interest.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has asked Attorney General Eric Holder for more details on press reports that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has been asked to investigate whether attorneys defending terrorist suspects currently held at Guantanamo Bay provided photographs of CIA employees to their clients.
In a letter to Mr. Holder, Rep. Issa states:

"I write to ask that the Dept. of Justice provide this committee with information about efforts the Depatment is undertaking to investigate alleged actions which, if proved true, will almost certainly endanger individuals associated with the CIA.

"According to press reports, at the behest of defense attorneys some covert CIA employees and/or contractors have been surreptitiously photographed in public while they undertake routine personal activities. The defense attorneys have allegedly shown these photographs to detainees held at Guantanam Bay. The apparent purpose of this effort is to allow the detainees to identify covert intelligence operatives with whom they may have been in contact with at Guantanamo. Assuming this is the case, then it is possible that the identifications have become known outside of Guantanamo, including by members of terrorist groups. If this is true, it is intolerable and must be addressed."

Issa, among other things, requested that the Attorney General provide information about reports that Patrick Fitzgerald has been asked to investigate the photos of CIA operatives, and if so, what resources within DOJ will be made available to Fitzgerald to conduct the inquiry.

Additionally, Issa asked Holder "what arrangements have been instituted to ensure that political appointees in the Department of Justice (including but not limited to the Office of Attorney General and National Security Division) who may have had some association with the issues under investigation [AHEM] prior to assuming their positions, are insulated from reviewing, evaluating [and] influencing the inquiry being undetaken by Mr. Fitzgerald?"

Good question!

Click here to read the letter in its entirety - PDF file

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grassley's 'Mafia' retort was on the mark, His defense of Eric Holder and the 'Al Qaeda 7' was uncalled for

During a Senate Judiciary Hearing on Thursday, Sen. Chuck Grassley asked Attorney General Eric Holder if he'd be willing "to provide the names of political appointees of the [Justice] Department who previously represented [Guantanamo] detainees or advocated on detainee issues?"

Mr. Holder replied:

"With all due respect, senator, and I know that your request comes from what I would call a good place, yours was an honorable request, [however], there has been an attempt to take the names of people who represented Guantanamo detainees and to drag their reputations through the mud. There were reprehensible ads used to question their patriotism."

The Attorney General was referring to an ad - released in March by Keep America Safe, a group headed [co-founded] by former Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, Liz Cheney - that called upon Mr. Holder to release the names of seven Justice Department officials who had worked on behalf of Guantanamo detainees. The term 'Al Qaeda 7' was used in the ad to describe the aforementioned officials. Holder was, in essence, taking a swipe at Liz Cheney and those who have dared to criticize him and the rest of the terrorist sympathizers currently working at the Justice Dept.

Mr. Holder went on to say: "I'm not going to allow these KIDS -- I'm not going to be part of that effort! And so, with all due respect, their names are out there now. The positions that they hold are out there. That's all been placed in the public record. I am simply not going to be a part of that effort… I will not allow their reputations to be besmirched. I will not be a part of that."

The Washington Examiner notes that "Holder's use of the word 'KIDS' to describe the Justice Department lawyers struck some ears as odd":
Two of the employees Grassley originally asked about were Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Neal Katyal, who works on terrorism issues despite his previous legal representation of Osama Bin Laden’s driver and bodyguard, and Jennifer Daskal, who serves in the National Security Division after a long history of advocating for detainees at Human Rights Watch. Katyal is 40 years old; Daskal is a couple of years younger.
In any case, Grassley had an interesting response to Holder's tirade:

"Well, remember that this is a request from this committee," he said, "and I think all the people on it were very sincere about it, so I'll move on. You recently said that attorneys representing [these] clients are patriots. I want to comment though that I doubt you would share the same feelings for lawyers representing the Mafia."

Nice comeback, Sen. Grassley!

But unfortunately, Senator Grassley felt the need to concur with Holder's criticism of the 'Al Qaeda 7' ad:
[The video] went too far when it referred to [Justice Dept. officials] as the 'Al Qaeda 7,' U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters in a conference call Wednesday...

In prepared remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Grassley [said] “I want to be clear with the Attorney General that I have never called into question the integrity of any employee at the department. In fact, I agree with the department that personal attacks on the integrity of department employees are uncalled for.”

Afterward, he told reporters that he’d seen the Keep America Safe video and that it was out of bounds.

“It went overboard,” Grassley said.
Apparently, Mr. Holder appreciated Sen. Grassley's denouncement of the ad, which is why, at the hearing today, he responded so respectfully to Grassley's request.

However, with all due to respect to Sen. Grassely, he needn't ingratiate himself with the likes of Eric Holder. Bear in mind that Mr. Holder is an individual who, previously, as lead attorney for Chiquita Brands International, defended the company against charges it funneled more than $1.7 million to terrorist groups and asked that charges be dismissed because, as he unabashedly and shockingly explained: "There is no clearly defined rule of international law prohibiting material support of terrorism. Indeed, there is not even consensus on the definition of terrorism."

Additionally, in 1999, when former president Clinton pardoned 16 members of the FALN terrorist organization, Eric Holder [then-deputy attorney general] not only supported the pardon, he actually pushed for it - starting as far back as 1997.

Hence, Sen. Grassley did not need to defend himself from the likes of Neal Katyal, the Justice Dept. official who represented Osama Bin Laden’s driver and bodyguard, or Eric Holder, who had the audacity to proclaim that "there is no clearly defined rule of international law prohibiting material support of terrorism".

No reason to play defense with terrorist sympathizers and no reason to prop up the 'Al Qaeda 7'.

China to sell gasoline to Iran

Dana Milbank, in the Washington Post Wednesday, launched a scathing attack against President Obama for restricting media access to the nuclear summit this week:
"World leaders arriving in Washington for President Obama's Nuclear Security Summit must have felt for a moment that they had been transported to Soviet-era Moscow... Obama -- occupant of an office once informally known as 'leader of the free world' -- [put] on a clinic for some of the world's greatest dictators in how to circumvent a free press.

The only part of the summit, other than a post-meeting news conference, that was visible to the public was Obama's eight-minute opening statement, which ended with the words: "I'm going to ask that we take a few moments to allow the press to exit before our first session."
Nevertheless, one of the advantages of limiting media access to various high level meetings, including the nuclear summit in Washington this week, is that the President is afforded the opportunity to offer his own spin on current events because the media has no way of disproving his rhetoric.

Case in point: The New York Daily News on Wednesday reported as follows:
A day after the White House announced Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed to cooperate with the drafting of sanctions against Iran, it was clear China had not made a total commitment to squeezing Tehran.

Hu has agreed only to send negotiators to New York for talks aimed at crafting economic sanctions, [but he remains concerned about keeping the oil China buys from Iran flowing].
Moreover, China is apparently moving to fill the void left by European suppliers, who halted gasoline sales to Iran earlier this year:
A state-owned Chinese refiner plans to ship 30,000 metric tons of gasoline to Iran after European traders halted shipments ahead of possible new UN sanctions, according to Singapore ship brokers.

Beijing has growing commercial and political ties with Iran and has resisted US pressure for sanctions to press Tehran to abandon its nuclear program. Chinese officials say the country is entitled to energy trade...

A deputy Chinese foreign minister, Cui Tiankai said Tuesday that... Iran's legitimate right to have energy trade with other countries should not be undermined as the world pursues a settlement of the nuclear standoff. Beijing's position on energy could make it more difficult for the United States and China to resolve differences on Iran...

President Barack Obama is having difficulty getting agreement on a new set of UN sanctions. He said Tuesday that his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, assured him that Beijing would participate in drafting sessions at the United Nations on strong sanctions...
Similarly, Reuters reported today as follows:
A Chinese state oil company has sold two cargoes of gasoline to Iran, industry sources said on Wednesday, underlying Beijing's distaste for any sanctions on Tehran that could damage economic ties...

State-run Chinaoil appeared undeterred [by the proposed sanctions], selling a total of about 600,000 barrels of gasoline worth around $55 million to the Islamic Republic, the industry sources said.

The cargoes were Chinaoil's first direct sales to Iran since at least January 2009, according to Reuters data. Chinese firms have previously sold through intermediaries, traders said.

"As long as there is money to be made, and economic benefits to be taken advantage of, Iran will always find ready sellers of gasoline from the international market," a trader said. "The politicians don't understand markets ...SANCTIONS ARE COSMETIC."...

Another Chinese company, Sinopec, is also poised to sell gasoline to Iran for the first time in six years, trade sources said, and Iran appeared confident it could weather any storm.

"We have no problem to meet the country's petroleum demand ... We are familiar with sanctions and sanctions will have no impact on our oil industry," the SHANA news agency quoted Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi as saying on Wednesday.
And so, the question arises: Is the Chinese government outfoxing Obama? Or is Obama outfoxing the American public?


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Syria transferring long-range missiles to Hezbollah, Obama continues to re-engage with Syria

“We have seized the opportunity,” President Obama said during a news conference at the conclusion of a two-day summit on nuclear security in Washington. “The American people will be safer and the world will be more secure.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the President is pushing forward with his re-engagement strategy with Syria, despite the latest reports indicating that the Syrian government has transferred long-range Scud Missiles to Hezbollah. The President, after all, is on a crusade to make the world more secure, hence, he can ill-afford to meddle in Syria's internal affairs, nor can he afford to weaken the Syrian/Hezbollah alliance:
Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has transferred long-range Scud missiles to the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah in a move that threatens to alter the Middle East's military balance, Israeli and U.S. officials alleged...

U.S. President Barack Obama has made engaging Mr. Assad's government a cornerstone of his Mideast policy, arguing Syria can be engaged in a regional peace process and lured from its strategic alliance with Iran.

A senior U.S. official involved in Mideast policy said Washington was uncertain why Mr. Assad would escalate tensions with Israel...

Detractors of the White House's policy of engagement with Damascus seized on the news Tuesday as evidence Mr. Assad has no intention of breaking Syria's strategic ties to Tehran and Hezbollah.

"It's increasingly hard to argue that the engagement track has worked," said Andrew Tabler, a Syria analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Officials briefed on the intelligence said Israeli and American officials believe Lebanon transferred Scud D missiles to Hezbollah that were built with either North Korean or Russian technology.

The Scuds are believed to have a range of over 430 miles, placing Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel's nuclear installations at Dimona all within range of Hezbollah's military forces...

Israeli officials said this week that Scud D missiles were "game-changing" armaments that marked a new escalation in the Mideast conflict...

In February, President Obama nominated a career diplomat, Robert Ford, to be the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus since 2005. The Bush administration pulled its chief envoy to Syria following the assassination of former Lebanese Minister Rafik Hariri, which was widely blamed on Syrian intelligence officials. Damascus has denied the allegations.

Mr. Ford's appointment was part of a phased U.S. reengagement with Syria that was to be tied to Damascus's cooperation in Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, according to U.S. officials...

Congressional officials said Tuesday that Republicans were now seeking to place a hold on Mr. Ford's confirmation, which was initially expected to pass the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week.

U.S. officials stressed, however, that the White House wasn't second-guessing its engagement strategy and was pushing forward with Mr. Ford's nomination...
Scuds be damned! Engagement is the name of the game, baby!

Update: The Kuwaiti daily, Al Rai is now reporting that the White House has made an about-turn and has decided to delay the appointment of its new ambassador to Damascus in response to the weapons' shipment.

It remains to be seen whether this report is true.

A change of heart by the Obama administration?

I don't think so. The President and his cronies have probably come to conclusion that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will refuse to confirm Mr. Ford's appointment as long as the Syrians continue to arm Hezbollah with scuds. Hence, they've decided - at least for the present moment - not to push forward with Mr. Ford's nomination, since it would ultimately be a losing proposition.


Monday, April 12, 2010

How should Obama respond to Ahmadinejad's 9/11 tirade?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, asking him to launch an investigation into the 9/11 attacks, the AFP reported on Monday:

"The minimum expectation from your excellency is to set up an independent and trusted fact-finding group to comprehensively investigate the real factors behind September 11," Ahmadinejad said in the text of the letter...

The hardliner, who in March dismissed 9/11 as a "big lie," said in the letter that the attacks "were the main pretext for attacks" by NATO on Afghanistan and Iraq.

Several times Ahmadinejad has questioned the accepted version of the Al-Qaeda strikes on New York and Washington which killed nearly 3,000 people.
Last Month, Iranian state TV quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that "September 11 was a big lie and a pretext for the war on terror and a prelude to invading Afghanistan." He went on to call the attacks a "complicated intelligence scenario and act."

Clearly, Mr. Ahmadinejad is an avowed 9/11 'truther', hence, he is requesting that the UN launch an investigation into the 9/11 attacks.

The question arises: How should President Obama respond to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's ridiculous allegations?

Answer: He should send him a copy of a letter he wrote to a 9/11 'truther' in February of 2007, in which he opined as follows:

Dear Penny,

Thank you for contacting me regarding your belief that the US government was complicit in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. I appreciate hearing your passionate views on this matter.

While I do not believe the US government was complicit in the attacks, I do think it should be held accountable for the unacceptable mistakes it made in the run-up to that terrible day. The blunders that occurred prior to the 2001 attacks were inexcusable and often outrageous. The series of clear warnings about the potential use of hijacked planes as weapons is just one example of why the “surprise” of 9/11 should have been anticipated. In my view, proof of government complicity is not necessary when making the argument that the US should accept some responsibility for what happened on 9/11.

Thank you again for writing.

Sincerely, Barack Obama
The aforementioned letter may not satisfy Ahmadinejad completely, but he will, nevertheless, find some consolation in learning that both he and Obama concur that the US is, at least, partly responsibile for what happened on 9/11.

As Obama so eloquently stated in the letter: "Proof of government complicity IS NOT NECESSARY when making the argument that the US should accept some responsibility for what happened on 9/11."

Pearls of wisdom, indeed, from our revered President.

In a related development, Vice-Chairman of the Iranian Parliament on foreign policy and security, Ismael Kousari, said Monday that the US and western countries should remain committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and destroy all their nuclear weapons, the Iranian News Agency reported on Monday.

Mr. Kousari was also quoted as saying that President Obama’s "allegations" [regarding Iran and its nuclear ambitions] have no sign of war or conflicts, adding that they [Obama & Company] will swiftly withdraw from their stands as they know that Iran is determined to vindicate its legitimate rights.

They know that they are too weak to confront Iran, he pointed out.

[Mr. Kousari also stated that the US had sent a message to Iran calling for permission ["PRETTY PLEASE"] for their warships and naval fleets to sail in the Persian Gulf region.]

Related News: Four Yemenis on trial for spying for Iran and plotting attacks against security installations on behalf of Iran

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Obama's 'Cost-Effective' Health Care Dooms Overseas Aids Victims; A Harbinger of things to come under Obamacare?

From the Boston Globe:
US officials have asked some AIDS clinics overseas to stop enrolling new patients in a US-sponsored program that provides lifesaving antiretroviral drugs, in a bid to stem the rising costs of one of the most ambitious US assistance programs, according to interviews with doctors and official correspondence.

The move, which was prompted by tighter budgets as well as a debate over how limited global health care dollars can be spent most effectively, has sparked fears among AIDS advocates that the Obama administration is curtailing its commitment to a program that provides lifesaving drugs for 2.4 million people and that many view as President Bush’s most successful foreign policy legacy...

The effects of the cost-cutting measures are beginning to be felt in parts of Africa. For patients arriving at some front-line AIDS clinics in Africa, the limits have the same effect as a cap, critics say.

“Virtually every day, we have to turn away patients who need treatment, including breast-feeding women,’’ said Dr. Peter Mugyenyi, a prominent AIDS specialist in Uganda. “We have to tell them ‘There is a freeze.’ ’’

Mugyenyi is in many ways a symbol of how much has changed since the program began in 2003...

The night that Bush announced the massive new program during the 2003 State of the Union address, Mugyenyi was seated next to Laura Bush. In the years that followed, his research facility, the Joint Clinical Research Center in Kampala, Uganda, received millions of dollars to test and treat patients...

In the early years, as US officials struggled to meet the president’s aggressive targets, they celebrated when clinics exceeded their enrollment goals. But last July, Mugyenyi’s facility received a sharp e-mail warning: “USAID have clearly communicated . . . to stop enrolling new patients.’’

In October, other facilities in Uganda received a similar memo from the program, which is commonly known by its acronym, PEPFAR...

The warnings about taking on too many new patients can be traced to a debate within the administration over the expense of the program. Although viewed as a major success at helping slow the spread of the disease, enrolling millions of new patients who require drugs for the rest of their lives — at a cost of $300 to $2,000 a year each — the program is seen in some quarters as prohibitively expensive...

In Obama’s first year, the growth of funding for the AIDS program slowed. Obama campaigned on a pledge to add $1 billion a year, but asked Congress for an increase of only $366 million for 2010 because of the recession. That has pushed thousands of people onto waiting lists for the drugs, including children, according to interviews with more than two dozen health care providers across Africa.

At some clinics in Uganda, opportunities to receive the drugs are so limited that some enrolled patients are sharing their drugs with relatives, which could increase the spread of drug-resistant HIV strains, according to health specialists.

“Basically, they are telling families, including kids who want to test for HIV, that if you test positive, you are going to have to sit on a waiting list for months and we can’t give you any assurance that you will ever get the drugs you need,’’ said Asia Russell of Health GAP, an AIDS advocacy organization.
In December of 2009, All Africa.com reported as follows:
Activists are expressing disappointment with President Barack Obama's plans for the Aids treatment programme in Africa, charging that he has fallen short of the achievements of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

"President Obama has all but failed to fulfil his commitments to wage an aggressive battle against global Aids," a coalition of Aids-focused groups declared last week, assigning him a grade of D+ for his performance to date.

Gregg Gonsalves, a leading US anti-Aids campaigner, warned an audience in New York last week, "I am about to say something shocking: I miss George W Bush...[President Bush's] Emergency Programme for Aids Relief (Pepfar), despite its flaws, saved millions of lives around the world."

Obama, by contrast, is not providing the resources needed to sustain the rate of growth in the number of HIV-positive Africans who receive ant-viral treatments through Pepfar.

That trend prompted Dr Peter Mugyenyi, director of a Uganda Aids clinic, to express fear that "the carnage of Aids will once again surge and the obvious success we have seen of Pepfar may begin to be reversed."...

Under Obama's recently announced five-year Pepfar strategy, the average annual rate of growth would slow [from 5000,000] to 320,000.

By 2014, according to this new plan, about 4 million people worldwide will be receiving anti-viral drugs through Pepfar.

That's roughly 1 million fewer than would have gained access to the life-extending treatments had the Bush-era growth rate been sustained...
Ah yes, the virtues of cost-effective & quality health care - compliments of the Obama administration!

Related Post: Obama: 'End-of-Life' Care Too Costly

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Obama's outreach to the Muslim world is paying off...NOT

So says Ace of Spades' blogger, Gabriel Malor.

Here's his proof:

From the AP:
Yemeni forces are not going after a radical U.S.-born cleric who has reportedly been added to the CIA's list of targets to be killed or captured, the foreign minister said Saturday...

Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said Saturday that al-Awlaki is not a terrorist and is not on Yemen's own wanted list...

"Anwar al-Awlaki has to us been always looked at as a preacher rather than a terrorist and shouldn't be looked at as a terrorist unless the Americans have evidence that he has been involved in terrorism," al-Qirbi said.
When you stop and think about it, al-Qirbi has a legitimate point! If Barack Obama considers Jeremiah Wright to be a genuine preacher, rather than a radical demagogue, then al-Qirbi, too, has every right to look upon Anwar al-Awlaki as an authentic and bona fide preacher, rather than the blood-thirsty terrorist that the infidels allege him to be!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Obama administration denying visas to Israel's nuclear scientists

From Israel National News:
The United States has begun denying visas to Israel's nuclear scientists, according to the Hebrew-language daily Maariv. Workers at the reactor in Dimona told the paper that they had been treated poorly by US representatives, and had been told they could not travel to the States.

For the past 20 years it has been common for scientists working at the Dimona reactor to travel to universities in the U.S. to enhance their knowledge in the fields of physics, chemistry, and nuclear engineering.

The only reason the Dimona scientists' visa requests were refused was their work at the reactor, sources in the military establishment said. None of the researchers has had any trouble with the law, in Israel or America.

A former Dimona worker told Maariv that the problems between Israel and America went beyond denied visas. The US has also created a “de-facto embargo” on equipment needed in the Dimona reactor, he said.

The refusal to sell Israel certain parts began after current US President Barack Obama took office, he said. When it comes to certain other pieces of equipment, he added, the US now permits sales only if Israeli officials explain exactly what the part will be used for.

"And yet, when it comes to those who manufacture nuclear terrorism, we hear a lenient approach, even though the entire world can see that Iran's leaders are making a joke out of the US,” he said.

Professor Zev Alfasi of the nuclear engineering program at Ben-Gurion University confirmed the statements made by the anonymous former Dimona worker. “Some people are not getting visas to the United States for the sole reason that they work at the Dimona reactor,” he said. In addition, he said, “The US does not sell a single piece of nuclear-related equipment to the Dimona reactor... [According to
Pajama's Media, even the sale of radiation detectors has been banned]. They sell to the universities, but they refuse to sell equipment to the reactor.”

On Friday morning, spokesmen for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that he would not attend a Nuclear Security summit in the US as previously planned, but would send a senior minister in his place. Netanyahu apparently decided not to attend the summit due to concerns that he would face pressure over Israel's nuclear program. The visa refusals may have been another factor leading to his concerns.
However, according to the Politico, the White House is denying the Visa story.

So what's the real deal?

Since the Obama administration is, unarguably, the most upright and honest administration EVER, I am compelled to offer up the following explanation to resolve the apparent conflict:

The Obama administration - adhering to it's fiscally responsible policies - decided to deny Israel's nuclear scientists the right to obtain Visa credit cards. The naive scientists, however, thought they were being denied US Visas.

An honest misunderstanding between two allies - nothing more, nothing less......

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Obama: On Nuclear Issues, I'll take take my advice from Robert Gates, not Sarah Palin - Hmmm....

From Newsmax - Jan 27, 2009:
Obama, Gates Argue Over New Nuclear Weapons

President Barack Obama is at odds with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others in the military over America’s need for a new generation of nuclear warheads.

While serving as President George W. Bush’s defense secretary, Gates repeatedly spoke in favor of the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program because the country’s weapons, mostly produced in the 1970s and 1980s, are aging and their effectiveness may be in the question, Time magazine reports.

“Even though the days of hair-trigger superpower confrontation are over, as long as other nations possess the bomb and the means to deliver it, the United States must maintain a credible strategic deterrent,” Gates wrote in an article for Foreign Affairs, after Obama tapped him to remain as defense secretary.

But Obama said after taking office, as he had during the campaign, that the new administration “will stop the development of new nuclear weapons.”...
From Reuters - April 8, 2010:
President Barack Obama on Thursday made clear he was not going to take advice from Republican Sarah Palin when it comes to decisions about the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Palin, the former vice presidential candidate, has not been shy about criticizing Obama's policies and this week weighed in on his revamped nuclear strategy, saying it was like a child in a playground who says 'punch me in the face, I'm not going to retaliate.'

"I really have no response to that. The last I checked, Sarah Palin is not much of an expert on nuclear issues," Obama said in an interview with ABC News.

Pressed further on Republican criticism that his strategy restricts the use of nuclear weapons too much, Obama added:

"What I would say to them is, is that if the secretary of defense [Robert Gates] and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff are comfortable with it, I'm probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin."

Obama unveiled a new policy earlier this week that restricts U.S. use of nuclear weapons and renounces development of new atomic weapons.