Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Al Qaeda unhappy with Ahmadinejad's 9/11 conspiracy theories

The 9/11 Commission, in its June 16, 2004, report concluded that Al Qaeda and the Iranian regime had maintained close ties with one another well before the 9/11 attacks - as far back as 1991.

The report also went on to say that, "Between eight and ten of the fourteen" hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks "passed through Iran in the period from October 2000 to February 2001". According to the aforementioned report, "Iran had a history of allowing Al Qaeda members to enter and exit Iran across the Afghan border. This practice dated back to October 2000."

And, according to a US State Department report, Iran's Qods Force have been training the Afghan Taliban on the use of small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives.

Additionally, the New York Times reported several months ago that the US Treasury Dept. had asserted that "the Iranian government had entered into an agreement with operatives of" Al Qaeda and "was allowing the country [of Iran] to be used as a transit point for funneling money and people from the Persian Gulf to Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Hence, in light of Al Qaeda's close ties to the Iranian regime, it is not surprising that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would assert - in his speech to the UN General Assembly last week - that the Bush administration, and not Al Qaeda, was behind the 9/11 attacks.

Nevertheless, while Mr. Ahmadinejad, in his UN remarks, certainly had Al Qaeda's best interest in mind, his terrorist allies were not impressed. Quite the contrary, they were deeply offended that the Iranian President was discrediting their work.

In the latest edition of Al-Qaeda's online magazine, in a section entitled, 'Iran and the Conspiracy Theories', the terrorist organization expressed its displeasure with Mr. Ahmadinejad's remarks.

"The Iranian Government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that Al Qaeda was behind 9/11, but rather, the US Government," the terrorists wrote in their online magazine. "So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?"

Al Qaeda is clearly puzzled by Mr. Ahmadinejad's remarks, which reminds me of the following parody - from 2008:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Liberal Newsweek Editor concedes: Obama 'Wasn't Ready' to Be President

From Newsbusters:
During an appearance on Morning Joe, Tuesday, Newsweek editor Tina Brown made an off-hand remark about Barack Obama, conceding that the politician "wasn't ready" to be President. Brown has previously attacked Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives for daring to oppose Obama.

While discussing whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will change his mind and run for President, the former New Yorker editor blurted, "Actually, I just hope he doesn't, because in the end, you know, his tremendous misgivings, maybe he is right. I mean, We had this with Obama. He wasn't ready, it turns out, really."

MTV gives Obama the cold shoulder

From the New York Post:
President Obama’s re-election campaign wants to connect with young Americans and reached out recently to MTV for help -- but the cable network turned them down, sources tell The Post.

The president’s Get Out the Vote campaign... concerned the high unemployment rate of the so-called millennial generation would turn them off to their candidate, asked the network of “Jersey Shore” about helping to supply them with ideas on how to deal with their, er, situation.

MTV Scratch... works across all the MTV Networks and helps marketers such as General Motors and Dr. Pepper understand the mind-set of young people...

“The youth initiative is having trouble with big donors and youth votes,” said a person familiar with the discussions. “They asked, ‘Can you tell us how we should be talking to them?’ ” one source noted.

Viacom’s unit took a few weeks before getting back to the campaign to decline its invitation, saying that it doesn’t do political work.

Sources familiar with the campaign’s efforts said it didn’t try to hire MTV or MTV Scratch. Executives at Scratch had no comment.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Doug Edwards donated $9000 to The Committee For Change in 2008; Democratic bigwig invited him to Linkedin townhall

Doug Edwards, the former Google employee who asked President Obama, during a Linekdin town hall meeting Monday, to "please raise my taxes", donated $9,000 to the Committee for Change in September of 2008.

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Democratic donors - who had already contributed to candidate Obama and the Democratic Party [and other committees like the Obama Victory Fund] the maximum amount allowed - desperately sought additional methods by which they could fill up Obama's campaign coffers. Hence, the Committee for Change was created in July of 2008 to allow those who had already maxed out on their Obama campiagn contributions to dish out additional cash to the Democratic Presidential nominee.

Contrary to popular legend, Obama received most of his campaign cash from affluent donors, like Doug Edwards, and not from those who donated smaller sums of money over the Internet.

Mr. Edwards on Monday told reporters that a friend, with links to the Democratic Party, had invited him to attend the Linekdin town hall event. The aforementioned friend, who apparently is a Democratic bigwig, has yet to be identified. Nevertheless, it seems that Obama's decision to call on Mr. Edwards was nothing more than a pure coincidence - a random turn of events. Wink, wink...

Related Video: Surprise! 'Would you please raise my taxes, Mr. President?' - Linkedin town hall

Surprise! 'Would you please raise my taxes, Mr. President?' - Linkedin town hall

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Obama shelves populist rhetoric while speaking to affluent donors

During his latest string of fundraising events, the President has been alternating the theme of his speeches according the audiences' economic status. While speaking to less affluent donors, Mr. Obama has been employing the use of populist rhetoric. However, while speaking to wealthier constituents, these populist themes are conveniently discarded.

From the LA Times:
The self-styled warrior for the middle class on Sunday took his reelection campaign straight into the maw of the super-rich.

President Obama opened a three-day Western trip with a fundraising brunch at the 23,000-square-foot Seattle-area home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley, where guests paid $35,800 for the chance to see the president and toss him questions.

He stood in a vast, high-ceilinged room filled with sculpture and paintings, a space that could have doubled as a floor of a modern art museum. In the speech he delivered before the press was ushered out, he shelved the populist rhetoric and focused on the political paralysis in Washington. No mention of "millionaires and billionaires." No references to Warren Buffett’s favorable tax status.

Instead he asked for help in pressuring Congress to shed the partisan animosity....

Obama will appear at no fewer than seven fundraising events over the next two days. The trip puts him in something of a delicate spot. He is raising millions from some of the same economic elites he says are flourishing under an unfair tax code.

Just last week, in a visit to Cincinnati, he proclaimed himself a "warrior for the middle class," a populist turn that his advisors hope will rally the Democratic base.

It seems Obama may be tailoring his speeches to the audience's economic station. Later in the afternoon he went to another event in Seattle where anyone could get in for the price of a $100 ticket. Speaking to 1,750 people at the Paramount Theater, he reverted to populist form.

He resurrected the "warrior" line. He inveighed against efforts to "bust unions." And he bemoaned a system that doles out tax breaks to the richest Americans while telling "everyone else that you're on your own."

Much as he is aligning himself with the middle class this political season, Obama will never be mistaken for a shot-and-a-beer guy. He seemed awed by the Shirley home.

"What a spectacular setting...," he said at the brunch. "I was saying to Mark [that was a slip; he meant to say, "Jon"] that I wish I had time to just roam around. Because this is as beautiful a collection as I've ever seen."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Brent Spence Bridge and the Magic of Obama

Yesterday I noted that the President's speech in front of the Brent Spence Bridge, a bridge that connects the two states of Ohio and Kentucky, was nothing more than a political maneuver targeting two GOP congressional leaders, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, who just happen to represent the states of Ohio and Kentucky respectively.

The President has said that, as part of his new stimulus package, he will use billions of tax payer dollars to repair the bridge. White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney said last week that the bridge is considered “functionally obsolete” because of its need for repairs.

Earlier this week, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer stated: "We are going to the place that connects these two states of these two leaders and we're going to talk about the American Jobs Act and what it would do for the country but also for those two states."

But I noted yesterday that it would take years for the Brent Spence Bridge project to be ready, hence the aforementioned project could not possibly create a significant number of jobs anytime soon.

However, the LA Times blog adds the following tidbit: There aren't even any plans in the pipeline to repair the Brent Spence Bridge; the plan is to build another bridge nearby. Construction on that bridge, however, is not set to begin until four years from now!
The Brent Spence Bridge... doesn't really need repairs. It's got decades of good life left in its steel spans. It's just overloaded. The bridge was built to handle 85,000 cars and trucks a day, which seemed like a lot back during construction in the Nixon era.

Today, the bridge sort of handles more than 150,000 vehicles a day with frequent jam-ups.

So, plans are not to repair or replace the Brent Spence Bridge. But to build another bridge nearby to ease the loads.

But here's the problem... The president's jobs bill is designed for "immediate" highway spending. And the new $2.3 billion... bridge is not scheduled to even start construction for probably four years... And without delays, it wouldn't be finished until 2022...
Job creation? Heh....

Nevertheless, the President is clearly a master of illusion who is capable of performing incredible feats of magic before our very own eyes. And, today, he was able to use the Brent Spence Bridge as a prop to perform another one of his magical tricks. However, as shocking as this may seem, when it comes to performing magical tricks with bridges, there is another individual who is even more skilled than the Magician-in Chief. Case in point: The London Bridge. Watch the video below in its entirety, and you be the judge!:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

President's visit to Ohio River bridge strictly a political maneuver

From the Washington Post:
The Brent Spence Bridge spans the Ohio River from Cincinnati to Covington, Ky. In terms of political clout, you can’t do much better than this bridge: It connects the home states of the most powerful Republicans in the nation: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

So perhaps it is not a coincidence that the White House says President Obama will make the Brent Spence Bridge the next stop on his tour to sell the American Jobs Act to the public.

On Thursday, Obama will appear at the bridge to make the case for “much-needed investments in infrastructure projects across the country” that can “put more Americans back to work,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

He added that the bridge, on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America, is considered “functionally obsolete” because of its need for repairs.

Carney insisted that no politics were involved in the location selection... [snip]

In his speeches on the jobs tour, Obama regularly tells his audiences that Republicans are playing politics with the economy... Yet it is Obama who has strategically scheduled his jobs tour in a very political way.

His first stop was Richmond, Va., the home district of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R)... Then he went to Columbus, Ohio, to tour a school on Tuesday, making his first stop in Boehner’s state. On Wednesday, Obama was in Apex and Raleigh, N.C., his third visit in a row to a crucial electoral swing state.

Obama carried Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina in 2008, but George W. Bush carried them in 2004. His stops in those states this month are a tacit acknowledgment that his jobs package is as much a political gambit as a policy proposal...
And despite Carney's insistence that politics did not play a role in the location selection, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on Tuesday seemed to suggest otherwise.

The Brent Spence Bridge location "was notable," Pfeiffer said, "because it connects Ohio and Kentucky."

"We are going to the place that connects these two states of these two leaders," Pfeiffer added, "and we're going to talk about the American Jobs Act and what it would do for the country but also for those two states."

Nevertheless, the AP quoted One Republican Ohio congressman as saying that while an overhaul of the bridge is necessary, and has bipartisan support, GOP officials question whether it should come through new taxes and spending, and say it will take years for the project to be ready to put enough people to work to dent high unemployment rates.

It should ne noted, however, that whether it takes years for the project to be ready or not is not really important. For ultimately, Mr. Obama is trying to build a bridge to the 2012 Presidential election, and that bridge, right now, just happens to be the Ohio River bridge. True, the bridge won't be ready for repairs anytime soon, and thus it can not create jobs anytime soon. But the President can still use the bridge as a talking point to help himself get re-elected, and then he will have saved at least one job in 2012...

Intimidation: Obama’s Dept. of Labor To Supply Replacement Worker’s Names AND Addresses to Union Thugs

From Stop The ACLU:
“Since 1975,” a study of union violence says, there has been “more than 9,000 reports of union violence.” With that in mind, wouldn’t it scare you if you were told that your name and address would be made public knowledge if you were hired as a temporary or replacement worker during a union strike? If you had any sense you sure would.

Well, now that is exactly what the Obama administration wants to do. Obama’s Department of Labor wants to make a new rule that businesses must disclose the names and addresses of individuals that are hired during strikes to replace unionized workers, whether permanently or temporarily.

With the long, long history of murder, property damage, beatings, and general harassment that unions have engaged in since unions came to this nation, the idea of having a worker’s name and address released to these union thugs so that unions can create hit lists of employees to attack is unconscionable...

Read the full post

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Columbia University students to dine with Ahmadinejad on Wednesday

Members of CIRCA, a Columbia University student organization, will not be attending a dinner with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday as planned, not because they don't want to attend the dinner, but because the Iranian mission to the UN rescinded the invitation.

The Iranian President is currently in New York to attend the 66th UN General Assembly session. Student members of Columbia's international relations group [CIRCA] received an invitation to dine with Mr. Ahmadinejad, but, much to the chagrin of the students, the Iranian mission to the UN later revoked the invitation due to the negative media coverage and controversy that erupted over the matter.

Nevertheless, CIRCA members said that other students from Columbia University are planning to attend the dinner, which, no doubt, will gladden Mr. Ahmadinejad's heart and provide the students with the opportunity to meet their iconic hero in person and up close.

Columbia University deserves much credit for inviting the Iranian President to speak before the student body last year; a move which not only imbued the students with an appreciation for Mr. Ahmadinejad, but also instilled within their hearts a yearning and an unbridled desire to dine with the legendary head of state.

Kudos to Columbia University!

BP oil not breaking down on Gulf floor, despite White House claims to the contrary

Despite repeated reassurances from the White House that oil from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill is all but gone and no longer poses a threat to the surrounding coastal areas, researchers from the University of Auburn, Alabama say this is not the case.

White House officials asserted that the oil had either been captured, burned, skimmed or broken down by bacteria. Not so, say the Auburn scientists:
Researchers say tar balls washed on to Gulf of Mexico beaches by Tropical Storm Lee prove that oil left over from last year's BP spill isn't breaking down as quickly as some assume.

Auburn University said today that its study shows the tar that hit Alabama beaches earlier this month appeared relatively fresh and unchanged from when oil first poured into the Gulf during the spill.

The study concludes that mats of oil are still submerged on the seabed, and it says the material could pose a long-term threat to coastal ecosystems.

Afghan peace council head killed by Taliban 'Peace Negotiator'

From Reuters:
A Taliban suicide bomber on Tuesday killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Afghan president and head of a council tasked with trying to negotiate a political end to the war, in what analysts called a blow to [so-called] peace efforts.

The killing underscored doubts over the ability of fledgling Afghan security forces to protect even the most prominent politicians as U.S.-led forces ready to pull out by 2014.

"A Taliban member who went to Rabbani's house (in the heavily guarded diplomatic enclave) for peace talks detonated a bomb hidden in his turban," a statement by the Kabul police chief's office said...

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, saying that the killer had gone to Rabbani's home for talks.

"As soon as Rabbani came three steps forward to hug Mohammad Masoom, he triggered his explosive-filled jacket killing Rabbani..."

Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen, called the killing "another outrageous indicator that, regardless of what Taliban leadership outside the country say, they do not want peace, but rather war".

AP Fact Check: Data disputes Obama claim that millionaires pay less in taxes than secretaries

From the AP:
President Barack Obama makes it sound like there are millionaires all over America paying taxes at lower rates than their secretaries.

"Middle-class families shouldn't pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires," Obama said Monday. "That's pretty straightforward. It's hard to argue against that."

The data tells a different story. On average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.

There may be individual millionaires who pay taxes at rates lower than middle-income workers. In 2009, 1,470 households filed tax returns with incomes above $1 million yet paid no federal income tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service. That, however, was less than 1 percent of the nearly 237,000 returns with incomes above $1 million.

In his White House address Monday, Obama called on Congress to increase taxes by $1.5 trillion as part of a 10-year deficit reduction package totaling more than $3 trillion. He proposed that Congress overhaul the tax code and impose what he called the "Buffett rule," named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

The rule says, "People making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay."

"Warren Buffett's secretary shouldn't pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. There is no justification for it," Obama said. "It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million."

Buffett wrote in a recent piece for The New York Times that the tax rate he paid last year was lower than that paid by any of the other 20 people in his office.

This year, households making more than $1 million will pay an average of 29.1 percent of their income in federal taxes, including income taxes and payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent of their income in federal taxes.

Lower-income households will pay less. For example, households making between $40,000 and $50,000 will pay an average of 12.5 percent of their income in federal taxes. Households making between $20,000 and $30,000 will pay 5.7 percent.

The latest IRS data is a few years older — and it's limited to federal income taxes — but it shows much the same thing. In 2009, taxpayers who made $1 million or more paid on average 24.4 percent of their income in federal income taxes, according to the IRS.

Those making $100,000 to $125,000 paid on average 9.9 percent in federal income taxes. Those making $50,000 to $60,000 paid an average of 6.3 percent.

Obama's claim hinges on the fact that, for high-income [Correction: any income] families and individuals, investment income is often taxed at a lower rate than wages. The top tax rate for dividends and capital gains is 15 percent. The top marginal tax rate for wages is 35 percent, though that is reserved for taxable income above $379,150.

With tax rates that high, why do so many people pay at lower rates? Because the tax code is riddled with more than $1 trillion in deductions, exemptions and credits, and they benefit people at every income level, according to data from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress' official scorekeeper on revenue issues.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that 46 percent of households, mostly low- and medium-income households, will pay no federal income taxes this year.
Why did a Liberal Media outlet like the AP suddenly decide to split with Obama on this issue? I don't know.

Monday, September 19, 2011

LightSquared: Second witness says White House sought changes to his testimony

From the Daily Beast:
First it was a four-star general, and now a federal agency official says the White House sought changes to his testimony on a wireless project tied to a prominent Democratic donor....

The issue of LightSquared and the White House OMB’s [Office of Management and Budget's] interest in testimony came to light last week... Gen. William Shelton, the four-star general in charge of the Air Force Space Command, told House lawmakers in a classified briefing that he felt pressured by the White House to change his testimony on LightSquared. [The testimony pertained to the company's proposed network of satellites and land-based cell towers which Pentagon officials fear could interfere with sensitive military GPS systems. The White House OMB urged Shelton to testify before the House oversight committee that he anticipated testing for GPS and LightSquared interference would take only 90 days.]

Shelton ultimately rejected the White House suggestions and delivered his own testimony last week...

On Monday, a second witness, Anthony Russo, director of the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, told The Daily Beast that he too was asked by the OMB to insert the 90-day timeframe into his testimony before the House Science Committee, but he refused...

Russo said he objected to [the White House's request] because “I have low confidence that we can complete all of the testing in 90 days.” He estimated that such testing would take at least six months...

House Republicans now want to know whether LightSquared has received special treatment because Falcone [who owns a majority financial stake in the company] and his wife have made tens of thousands of dollars in contributions in the last few years to the Democratic party. [LightSquared’s CEO Sanjiv Ahuja also contributed $30,000 to the DNC in September 2010.]...

Harold Furchtgott-Roth, a former Republican-appointed FCC commissioner, said it was highly unusual to put a timeline on [these] kinds of technical tests...

“Primarily these types of tests sometimes have a finite end and sometimes they don’t,” he said. “Sometimes they go on for long periods of time. To pick a number and say the tests have to end by a certain date is not consistent with commission precedent. Secondly, you don’t know what you will find when you do the test; you can’t predetermine that you will absolutely be finished after 90 days.”

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), the chairman of the House Science Committee’s subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, said he was troubled that four out of the five government witnesses before his Sept. 8 hearing had “identical language in their written testimony reflecting the administration’s view of the LightSquared project. The language diminished the otherwise blunt assessments the witnesses articulated during the hearing when pressed by committee members.”...

Furchtgott-Roth questioned the process by which the FCC granted a waiver to LightSquared so that it may use its initial license for satellite bandwidth to service terrestrial mobile devices.

“In January the commission said LightSquared could use its license for exclusive terrestrial purposes,” he said. “That decision from January was an unprecedented and surprising development. That they would make this decision at the bureau level and not at the full commission level is just stunning.”
See earlier post for more detailed information on LightSquared and the Philip Falcone/White House connection.

Military groups slam Obama plan to raise co-pays

Addressing the American Legion's Annual National Convention in Minneapolis last month, President Obama pledged that he would not balance the federal budget on the backs of military veterans:
The bond between our forces and our citizens must be a sacred trust. And for me and my administration, upholding that trust is not just a matter of policy, it is not about politics. It is a moral obligation.

As a nation, we are facing some tough choices as we put our fiscal house in order. But I want to be absolutely clear. We cannot, we must not, we will not balance the budget on the backs of our veterans. As Commander-in-Chief, I won’t allow it.
But, apparently, the President didn't really mean what he said; he was only kidding.

From the USA Today:
President Obama would raise pharmacy co-pays for military families and hike medical coverage fees for military retirees as part of his debt-reduction plan unveiled Monday.

"We are all in this together, and all of us must contribute to getting our economy moving again and on a firm fiscal footing," President Obama said in a statement regarding his latest economic plans.

Service groups representing millions of veterans moved quickly to criticize the proposals. Peter Gaytan, executive director of the American Legion, which has 2.4million veterans as members, said his organization opposes any hikes without offsetting cost-of-living increases in pensions.

Veterans of Foreign Wars, with 1.5million members, and the Military Officers Association of America, also oppose the changes...

The Obama plan would introduce a $200 annual fee for retired military families who wish to continue with Tricare-for-Life program that supplements Medicare for retirees over 65...

The administration also wants to encourage military families and retirees to use less expensive options when buying prescriptions under current coverage. The deficit plan would eliminate co-pays for generic mail-order drugs, while instituting a percentage co-pay rather than a small flat fee for drug store purchases...

On a subject that has upset military careerists, the administration is looking to save money by revamping the Defense Department pension plan. Obama calls for a commission to produce changes to the current system.

The Pentagon would then modify as it sees fit and — just as previous administrations dealt with the controversial issue of base closures — the retirement reforms would have to be accepted without changes for approval by Congress.
Video: "We will not balance the budget on the backs of our veterans":

Obama's Balanced Approach: $3 In Tax Hikes For Every $1 In Spending Cuts

From the Washington Times:
President Obama on Monday proposed a deficit reduction plan that calls for about $3 in new tax increases for every dollar in additional spending cuts as he seeks to put his imprint on the ongoing talks with Congress over reducing the government’s staggering debt...

The White House argues his plan totals $4.4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years, though $1.1 trillion of that comes from savings on war-fighting expenses that all sides agree were going to happen anyway as the U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan shrink. Another $1.2 trillion has already been signed into law in last month’s debt deal and another $430 billion comes from lower interest payments because of the potential lower debt.

Yet another $450 billion comes from the tax increases the president proposed last week — and has already accounted for in new spending he wants on infrastructure, and other tax cuts.

That means in terms of actual new proposals, the president’s plan totals about $1.2 trillion, of which the lion’s share comes from his longstanding vow to raise taxes back to Clinton-era rates on the top income brackets. The rest is $580 billion in reductions to formula-driven entitlement programs such as Social Security, with much of the savings coming from reducing overpayments and finding waste.

Those $580 billion in newly proposed cuts are dwarfed nearly three-to-one by the $1.5 trillion in additional taxes the president wants to see going forward.
"We can’t just cut our way out of this hole. It’s going to take a balanced approach."
President Obama - September 19, 2011

h/t - Ace of Spades

U.S. troops increasingly unhappy with Obama's handling of Afghan War and his overall job performance

From the Military Times:
After a decade of war in Afghanistan, many troops are losing confidence in the long-term likelihood of success for the U.S. military mission there, and their overall support for President Obama has slipped, according to the latest Military Times annual reader survey.

Slightly less than half of readers said the U.S. is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to succeed in Afghanistan...

That has slipped steadily from 2007, when more than 75 percent of readers surveyed said the U.S. was “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to succeed in Afghanistan.

Support for his handling of the war has dropped significantly since the last Military Times survey in January 2010, with about 41 percent of active-duty respondents disapproving. That’s up from 34 percent in 2010, shortly after Obama announced a surge of 30,000 additional troops for the war effort.

When asked how Obama was handling his job as president, 53 percent disapproved, up from 51 percent in 2010.

When asked superficially about Obama’s handling of his job as commander in chief, 45 percent of active-duty readers disapproved, up from 40 percent in 2010...

The growing pessimism among troops about the war in Afghanistan may reflect doubts about America’s long-term commitment to the herculean task of executing a counterinsurgency strategy.

“People wonder if we really have the commitment to follow this through,” said retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall, who was the top enlisted service member for the NATO mission in Kabul in 2009 and 2010. “I think everybody knows that we can be successful over there. But it’s going to take time and presence and commitment, and I think folks are worried that we go over there, we sacrifice our families and we work hard — but are we going to follow through? Or is this all going be for naught?”...

In a series of interviews, some troops say the mission there is fraught with a sense of futility driven by several factors, including a belief that the Afghan security forces are unmotivated.

“A lot of [the Afghan security forces] are just kind of like, ‘Well, we’ll fight with you here today and if tomorrow you all leave, then we’ll just fight for the next guy who comes along,’ said a 33-year-old Army captain who deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and worked as a mentor to Afghan security forces.

The pessimism is also fueled by a belief that the country is hopelessly corrupt. A 31-year-old Army sergeant who deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 said many troops believe the Afghan central government and many tribal leaders play both sides of the fence.

“Everybody knows that a majority of them still have ties with the Taliban,” said the sergeant...

Many respondents had different sentiments about Iraq. Some 70 percent say the war there has been a success. The figure was slightly higher among troops who have deployed to Iraq...

Opinions on Obama’s handling of Iraq, [however], remain unchanged. About 40 percent of troops approve, the same level shown in the 2010 reader survey...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Porkulus Bill to rear its ugly head in West Virginia?

The Charleston Daily Mail reported last week that the state of West Virginia stands to receive more than a half billion in federal dollars as part of President Obama's new stimulus package [i.e. Job creation bill]. $162 million is earmaked for teachers, police officers and firefighters.

However, the Daily Mail noted the following:
Some of the money that is supposed to go to teachers is meant to prevent layoffs. But West Virginia doesn't have any plans to lay off teachers.

"I'm not sure; would they just send us the money instead?" said state budget director Mike McKown.
Likewise, the West Virginia daily, The Intelligencer, notes:
When was the last time you heard of a school system in West Virginia laying off teachers because of a budget shortfall unrelated to lower enrollment? You probably don't recall such a situation because, for all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist in this state.

Yet if President Barack Obama's "jobs program" is approved by Congress, West Virginia will receive $162 million to pay teachers, police officers and firefighters. Other states, including some like ours where prudent fiscal management prevented layoffs of public employees, will get money, too. Some will receive billions of dollars...

The bottom line - as was the case with Obama's previous "stimulus" program - is that West Virginia doesn't need money to avoid laying off public-sector workers.

If we get the money and use it as the White House is likely to insist, hundreds of new educators, law enforcement officers and firefighters may be hired. Then, in a year or two when the federal funding runs out, local and state entities will have the choice of laying them off or raising our taxes to keep them on the payroll...

The White House plan, spending billions of dollars states don't need to create jobs that will disappear in, at most, a couple of years, is absurd...

If the president is determined to spend money on bigger government, a better idea would have been block grants the states could use as they see fit. But neither that nor job creation ever was Obama's plan.

The $457 billion "jobs plan" is nothing more than a political scheme to grow federal government and please Obama's supporters. Congress should reject it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

LightSquared - Congressional oversight committee workforce should be increased to help probe endless White House corruption

Congressman Michael Turner Thursday said he will ask Rep. Darrell Issa, the head of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, to open an investigation into alleged misconduct by the White House in its efforts on behalf of wireless start-up company, LightSquared. The company is owned by an investment group run by billionaire Democratic donor Philip Falcone.

LightSquared plans to provide high-speed [wireless] Internet service throughout the US. But Pentagon officials have raised concerns that the company's proposed network of satellites and land-based cell towers could interfere with sensitive military GPS systems, threaten aviation safety, impede with military rescue operations and hinder cell phone reception.

According to recent media reports, LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja made a $30,400 contribution to the Democratic Party on the same day that two of his deputies requested a meeting with top technology advisers to President Obama. But there's more to this story, much more:
[The aforementioned] Phil Falcone, the founder of hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, is currently under criminal and civil investigations by the Security Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan for allegedly failing to disclose $113 million in personal loans he took from his hedge fund to pay personal taxes. The Wall Street Journal has also reported that investigators are looking into allegations that Mr. Falcone allowed some clients to redeem funds from his hedge fund during the financial crisis of 2008, while preventing others from doing so.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Falcone and Harbinger scored big gains for investors in 2007, but the fund has since shrunk from $26.5 billion to $9 billion from losses and client withdrawals. As of last November, the fund was off 15% for the year, and investors... had put in requests to withdraw funds.

Also important, investors have expressed increasing concerns over Falcone’s plans to launch the LightSquared venture. The majority of Harbinger’s declining assets are pledged to this venture, which many believe is risky and underfunded...

None of Falcone’s plans would be successful, however, unless the Administration and the FCC intervened on his behalf. Over the past year, a series of unusual decisions, questionable meetings, and procedural anomalies at the FCC and the White House highlight Falcone’s growing influence in the government.

Without going into pages of detail here, the FCC delayed publicly disclosing some of its dealing with Harbinger/LightSquared for weeks or months, and still has not disclosed some of them at all. An April 21, 2010 letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski, from Senators Hutchinson, DeMint, Vitter and Brownback resulted in nothing more than a non-responsive letter from Genachowski on May 10. (Some of that has to do with a Harbinger/SkyTerra merger that is a critical piece of the LightSquared venture.)

Meanwhile, Falcone developed his government influence. According to White House visitor access logs, on September 22, 2009, Falcone and LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja personally visited the White House and met with the Chief of Staff at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). One day later, the Harbinger/SkyTerra merger agreement was signed.

On September 30, 2009, one week after his September 2009 White House visit, Falcone contributed $30,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the maximum legal individual contribution limit to a party committee. His wife, Lisa Falcone, contributed an additional $30,000 to the DSCC on the same day. LightSquared’s CEO Sanjiv Ahuja also contributed $30,000 to the DNC in September 2010.

On January 21, 2010, Falcone visited the White House again, this time for an appointment with John Holdren, the Director of the OSTP.

In addition to well-timed political contributions to the DSCC at the height of merger review discussions, Falcone/Harbinger also secured the assistance of a lobbying firm, the Palmetto Group, via Harbinger’s legal counsel, to lobby Congress and the FCC. Steve Glaze, lobbyist with the Palmetto Group, was registered to lobby the FCC directly on mobile satellite services on Falcone’s/Harbinger’s behalf. Steve Glaze is married to Terri Glaze, a senior staffer at the FCC.

On January 12, 2011, the National Telecommunications and Information Authority (housed within the Department of Commerce) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski, objecting to the waiver. There was also a letter from Danny Price, Director of Spectrum and Communication Policy at the Department of Defense, stating that the FCC should defer action on the waiver request and place the application under a Notice of Prosed Rule-Making (NPRM).

The United States GPS Industry Council (USGPSIC) also raised concerns in a letter. Notable, that letter included serious concerns about interference with E911 and law enforcement GPS applications.

Nonetheless, the FCC, on delegated authority, officially granted LightSquared’s request for a waiver. In granting the waiver, the FCC chose to issue a license modification for LightSquared because of what they term “unique” circumstances, instead of modifying its rules to apply to all providers. That essentially guarantees that Falcone, and only Falcone, receives this special treatment.

We can only speculate whether or not these “unique” circumstances are related to Falcone’s September 30, 2009 meeting with the White House, and subsequent political contributions to the DSCC. But the outcome of the FCC’s action means that other companies will not be able to take advantage of the same loophole.

In addition to the GPS issue, the ramifications of the FCC’s favoritism to Falcone and LightSquared are enormous. Consider other competitive nationwide mobile providers. Take Clearwire, for example. They purchased terrestrial spectrum at auction for substantial sums, and they have invested millions more to build out their 4G network. And now, thanks to the FCC, their competitor LightSquared is given the same terrestrial spectrum for free, and is essentially exempt from requirements to invest and build out a competing network. The message to companies like Clearwire is clear: Companies who play by the rules, create jobs, and invest in building out competing networks are now at risk of seeing their plans entirely upended by the FCC’s arbitrary “unique” circumstances in favor of a competitor who developed the right political influence and who made the right political financial contributions.
And, according to recent media reports, Air Force Gen. William Shelton told lawmakers during a classified briefing last week that the White House tried to pressure him to change his testimony before congress to make it more favorable to Lightsquared.

Conclusion: With new allegations of White House misconduct popping up each and every day, the congressional Judiciary and Oversight committees would be well-advised to expand their work-force by increasing the number of lawmakers in their respective committees. This would provide much-needed relief to the committees which carry the enormous burden, and responsibility, of probing the endless stream of corruption emanating from the White House.

Of course, an expansion of the Judiciary and Oversight committee workforce would draw fierce opposition from White House officials, who no doubt would cite an argument often used by the GOP, namely that Big Government stinks, and that an expansion of government power, when it pertains to congressional oversight of the White House, is not in the best interest of the US.

Nevertheless, this perpetual stream of corruption is clearly unprecedented in the annals of US Presidential politics.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Many Congressional Democrats Are Balking at Obama’s Jobs Bill

From the New York Times:
President Obama anticipated Republican resistance to his jobs program, but he is now meeting increasing pushback from his own party. Many Congressional Democrats, smarting from the fallout over the 2009 stimulus bill, say there is little chance they will be able to support the bill as a single entity, citing an array of elements they cannot abide.

“I think the American people are very skeptical of big pieces of legislation,” Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said in an interview Wednesday, joining a growing chorus of Democrats who prefer an à la carte version of the bill despite White House resistance to that approach. “For that reason alone I think we should break it up.”

Senator Harry Reid..., the majority leader, has said he will put the bill on the legislative calendar but... [he] has set votes on disaster aid, extensions for the Federal Aviation Administration and a short-term spending plan ahead of the jobs bill.

Democrats... are divided over their objections, which stem from Mr. Obama’s sinking popularity in polls, parochial concerns and the party’s chronic inability to unite around a legislative initiative, even in the face of Republican opposition.

Some are unhappy about the specific types of companies, particularly the oil industry, that would lose tax benefits. “I have said for months that I am not supporting a repeal of tax cuts for the oil industry unless there are other industries that contribute,” said Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana.

A small but vocal group dislikes the payroll tax cuts for employees and small businesses. “I have been very unequivocal,” said Representative Peter A. DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon. “No more tax cuts.”...

There are also Democrats, some of them senators up for election in 2012, who oppose the bill simply for its mental connection to the stimulus bill, which laid at least part of the foundation for the Republican takeover of the House in 2010.

“I have serious questions about the level of spending that President Obama proposed,” said Senator Joe Manchin III, a Democrat from West Virginia... Mr. Manchin said he also questioned “the actual effectiveness some of these policies will have when it comes to creating jobs and restoring confidence in our economy.”

...Mr. Reid, who is known for trying to protect Democrats from casting tough votes, may be delaying the bill to insulate his party...

As he barnstormed again on Wednesday, Mr. Obama told voters in North Carolina, “If you love me, you’ve got to help me pass this bill,” but even some members of Congress from that state may prefer to stay just friends...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Brian Williams Slams Republicans during Obama Interview

NBC's Brian Williams slammed Republican lawmakers during an interview with President Obama earlier this week. Williams' remarkable display of unbiasedness, it should be noted, is not unusual for distinguished media outlets like NBC News:

Taliban attacks school bus, killing four children and wounding 15

From Reuters:
A Pakistan schoolbus filled with children has been attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade and assault rifle fire. Four children and the driver died in the assault, which took place in Peshawar and was admitted by the Taliban. Eighteen others, 15 of them children, were wounded...

At Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, children, their uniforms soaked in blood, lay in beds with shrapnel and bullet wounds from the bus attack, which happened yesterday.

“We were in the van, going home like every day. Suddenly I heard an explosion and gunfire,”said eight-year-old Sabir...

US embassy attack makes peace talks with Taliban seem "absurd", says Western Official

From the New York Times:
Heavily armed insurgents wearing suicide vests put the [US] embassy in [Kabul, Afghanistan] and the nearby NATO headquarters in their cross hairs, showing the Taliban’s ability to enter even the most heavily fortified districts in the country.

The nearly five-hour siege was one of several attacks that hit the capital on Tuesday afternoon. American civilians fled to their bunkers — a rocket penetrated the embassy compound — and Afghan government offices and the capital’s center emptied as the insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades and NATO and Afghan troops returned fire.

The attacks confirmed the ability of the Taliban, with a small number of men, to use guerrilla tactics to terrify the population, dominate the media and overshadow the West’s assertions that the Afghan government and security forces will soon be able to handle the insurgency on their own. ...

The assault... was all the more dismaying because it suggested the involvement of many people who allowed heavily armed men to enter the city and get through the cordon that surrounds the capital’s center...

Tuesday’s attack, which began around 1:15 p.m., was the latest in a string of attacks that have chipped away at a tenuous sense of security in the capital...

“The nature and scale of today’s attack clearly proves that the terrorists received assistance and guidance from some security officials within the government who are their sympathizers,” said Mohammed Naim Hamidzai Lalai, chairman of Parliament’s Internal Security Committee.

“Otherwise it would be impossible for the planners and masterminds of the attack to stage such a sophisticated and complex attack, in this extremely well-guarded location, without the complicity from insiders.”

A Western official said the attack made the talk of a peace deal with Taliban seem “absurd.” [Absurd???]

“This doesn’t show reconciliation
, it does show determination,” the official said. “If the Taliban can do this with five guys perched in a building and they can alternate it with these vehicle-borne I.E.D.'s” — car bombs — “which they have been doing more of, well, then this won’t be the last time.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration declared that it wouldn't allow Tuesday's attack to deter the American mission in Afghanistan, the AP reported. In other words, the White House won't allow the violence in Afgahnistan to deter peace negotiations with the perpetrators of the violence.

Pentagon press secretary George Little, a Leon Panetta appointee, said the attack would not alter US and NATO plans to gradually hand over control to Afghan security forces, which he said were increasingly capable, the AFP reported.

"There's absolutely no change in our commitment to transition," said Little.

Chris Matthews: Obama Jobs Speech vs NFL Game - Ratings - 'The Big Number'

Monday, September 12, 2011

Obama endorses plans for Taliban to open Political HQ in Qatar

Is it just a coincidence that this story broke only after the President wrapped up his tributes to the victims of the 9/11 attacks on Sunday? Clearly, this latest piece of news isn't sitting too well with many of the families who lost loved ones on 9/11. Had this story broken earlier, Obama might have received a less cordial reception at the memorial ceremonies.

From the Times of London:
America has given its blessing for the Taliban to be brought in from the cold with a critical step towards reconciliation as the world paused to mark the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The Times has learnt that Washington has endorsed plans for the Islamist network to open political headquarters in the gulf state of Qatar by the end of the year.

The move has been devised so that the West can begin formal peace talks with the Taliban.

Hopes of an eventual truce came as President Obama and George Bush attended a memorial ceremony at Ground Zero, where relatives read the names of the 2,977 victims of the al-Qaeda attacks.
Reports of negotiations between the Obama administration and the Taliban, including a proposal by the Taliban to establish a political office in Qatar as a venue for formal negotiations, have been swirling for quite some time. [And, apparently, the talks had commenced even before Osama Bin Laden had been killed.]

The Washington Post reported in May:
The administration has accelerated direct talks with the Taliban, initiated several months ago, that U.S. officials say they hope will enable President Obama to report progress toward a settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July.

A senior Afghan official said a U.S. representative attended at least three meetings in Qatar and Germany, one as recently as “eight or nine days ago,” with a Taliban official considered close to Mohammad Omar, the group’s leader...

The Taliban... has proposed establishing a formal political office, with Qatar under consideration as a venue [for formal talks], according to U.S. officials...
Related Video: Obama excoriated Pakistan over Taliban talks - '08

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Union boss Trumka to attend President's speech shortly after Union thugs wreak havoc upon Washington State port

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is among the various guests who've been invited to sit alongside First Lady Michelle Obama during the Preisident's jobs speech to a joint session of Congress this evening, the White House revealed earlier today.

Meanwhile, the AP is reporting that hundreds of Longshore union protesters [about 400] "stormed the Port of Longview [in Washington State on Thursday], overpowered security guards, damaged rail cars and dumped grain at the center of a labor dispute that has spread to Seattle and Tacoma ports."

Reuters reported that "Early on Thursday, the protesters stormed the EGT facility, smashed guard shack windows, pushed a security vehicle into a ditch, cut brake lines on several rail cars and dumped grain from some cars onto the ground."
The incident came a day after several of Longshoremen were arrested after blocking a train from arriving at the newly constructed facility owned by EGT...

The Longshore and Warehouse Union [ILWU] said it had an agreement with the Port of Longview that required the hiring of workers from the local ILWU chapter to man the facility. The EGT grain terminal planned to hire workers from a different union...
Perhaps, Mr. Obama, in his address to Congress tonight, can throw in a few words of encouragement to the ILWU union thugs, who no doubt would appreciate a few kind words from the President.

And while Obama is voicing solidarity with the ILWU thugs, the TV network cameras can then zoom in on Mr. Trumka, who, on cue, will rise to a loud round of applause from Democrats in Congress. The cameras can then zoom back in on Mr. Obama as he flashes a wide grin to Mr. Trumka and gives him a big wink. The PR theatrics could then be consummated with a union attendee waving a huge sign showing Wisconsin governor Scott Walker with a bullseye-crosshairs on his face, or a sign depicting Mr. Walker as a Nazi.

Another union attendee, perhaps, could hold up a large photo showing Communications Workers of America vice president, Chris Shelton, likening NJ governor, Chris Christie, to Adolph Hitler.

These small, but significant, gestures of civility and solidarity - on prime time TV - no doubt would boost Obama's poll numbers and rekindle the love affair that Democrats once had for the President.

The Obama camp can choose to ignore these suggestions if they so desire, but ultimately it will be their PR loss...

Al Gore praises / assails Obama on the environment

President Obama on Friday directed EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw proposed air quality legislation that would have tightened smog standards, citing the need to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses during the current economic downturn when job creation is of utmost importance.

By withdrawing the proposed legislation, Mr. Obama is clearly acknowledging that excessive environmental regulations are in fact job killers. But only now, with the 2012 Presidential election right around the corner - mindful that excessive regulatory measures would pull the economy further down the proverbial abyss and harm his re-election bid - is Obama willing to concede to this fact. Otherwise, it seems that crippling the job market and the economy with constricting and crushing environmental regulations would be of little concern to Obama.

Nevertheless, the President's reversal on the environment isn't sitting too well with former Vice President Al Gore, who assailed Mr. Obama in a blog post on Wednesday - a far cry from his warm endorsement of Obama in June of 2008, when he extolled the then-Democratic Presidential nominee as a candidate who has the ability, and the capacity, "to solve" the so-called "climate crisis."

Al Gore praises / assails Obama on the environment - Video:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Libyan rebels raping black African migrants

From McClatchy:
When the sun sets on the refugee camp for black Africans that has sprung up at the marina in this town six miles west of Tripoli, the women here brace for the worst.

The rebels who ring the camp suddenly open fire. Then they race into the camp, shouting "gabbour, gabbour" — Arabic for whore — and haul away young women, residents say.

"You should be here in the evening, when they come in firing their guns and taking people," one woman from Nigeria said Wednesday as she recounted the nightly raids on the camp. "They don't use condoms, they use whatever they can find," she said, pointing to a discarded plastic bag in a pile of trash.

As she spoke, other women standing nearby nodded in agreement.

There is no way to know how many women have been raped here, where hundreds of Africans have settled in and around the boats of a marina. No one keeps statistics in the camp, and foreign aid workers say they are prohibited from discussing the allegations on the record...

But the story that women tell is part of a larger picture of abuse of black Africans in Libya that is emerging in the wake of the rebel victory, born of allegations that Gadhafi often hired sub-Saharan Africans to fight for him.

Hundreds of black Africans have been swept up and are being held in makeshift prisons awaiting some sort of judicial finding of whether they were mercenaries or not. Thousands more are trapped in refugee camps. They can't leave the camps, they say, for fear they'll be targeted on the streets. They do not feel safe inside the camps, either...
"The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator."
President Barack Obama - August 21, 2011

Petraeus to Military personnel: Please Cheer for Obama

Perhaps the military officers felt it was a formal occasion, hence they deemed it inappropriate to cheer the President. Then again, the band was playing "Hail the Chief", which seemingly would be the perfect time to cheer and 'hail the chief'...

Libyan missiles looted; "they could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly-zone"

The AP reported in late August that, with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi essentially ousted from power, concerns have arisen over the "Libyan government's weapons stockpiles, including a stew of deadly chemicals [mustard gas etc.], raw nuclear material and some 30,000 shoulder-fired rockets that officials fear could fall into terrorists' hands in the chaos of Moammar Gadhafi's downfall..."

Well, apparently those concerns were well-founded, for indeed some of these weapons are already missing:
A potent stash of Russian-made surface-to-air missiles is missing from a huge Tripoli weapons warehouse amid reports of weapons looting across war-torn Libya.

They are Grinch SA-24 shoulder-launched missiles, also known as Igla-S missiles, the equivalent of U.S.-made Stinger missiles...

Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch emergencies director, told CNN he has seen the same pattern in armories looted elsewhere in Libya, noting that "in every city we arrive, the first thing to disappear are the surface-to-air missiles."...

"We are talking about some 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in all of Libya, and I've seen cars packed with them." he said. "They could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone."...

Western officials worry that weapons from the storage sites will end up in the hands of militants or adversaries like Iran.

The governments of neighboring Niger and Chad have both said that weapons from Libya are already being smuggled into their countries, and they are destined for al Qaeda. They include detonators and a plastic explosive called Semtex. Chad's president said they include SA-7 missiles....

Bouckaert said one or two of the missing artillery rounds are "enough to make a car bomb."...
No doubt about it, the Libyan uprising is already netting positive results....

Related news: Report: Al-Qaeda branch has acquired Libyan surface-to-air missiles, threatening air travel

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Epiphany! Obama suddenly realizes Iran is a destabilizing force in Iraq!

During the Democratic presidential debate in July of 2007, Barack Obama proclaimed that he would be willing to meet, "without precondition", with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.

"I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them," said a defiant Obama. "We've been talking about Iraq. One of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses. They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region."

Iran and Syria 'are going to to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region'? You got to be kidding.

Well, that was then. But after a few years of on-the-job training, Obama at long last has come to realize that, contrary to the absurd and convoluted line of reasoning he once proffered, Iran is actually a destabilizing and highly dangerous force in the region.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that "U.S. military commanders and intelligence officers are pushing for greater authority to conduct covert operations to thwart Iranian influence in neighboring Iraq."

It is still unclear whether the President will approve this request. Obama, after all, has consistently avoided taking any kind of action - or saying anything - that might antagonize the Iranian regime. But, nevertheless, the Obama administration, apparently, is now suddenly concerned about Iran's increasing influence in Iraq.
[The proposal put forth by U.S. military commanders and intelligence officers] comes amid growing concern in the Obama administration about Iran's attempts in recent months to expand its influence in Iraq and the broader Middle East and what it says is Tehran's increased arms smuggling to its allies...
To suggest that Iran has only recently ["in recent months"] begun to expand its influence in Iraq is an outright lie, but par for the course, I suppose.
Compounding the urgency is the planned reduction in the US military presence in Iraq by the end of the year, a development that many fear will open up the country to more influence from Iran, which also has a majority Shiite population.

If the request is approved by the White House, the authorization for the covert activity in Iraq likely would take the form of a classified presidential "finding." But unlike the secret order that authorized the CIA's campaign against Al Qaeda in 2001, the current proposal is limited in scope, officials said.

Still, such a step would reflect the U.S.'s effort to contain Iranian activities in the region. Ending the U.S.'s involvement in the Iraqi conflict was a central promise of President Obama's 2008 campaign, and the administration wants to ensure it doesn't withdraw troops only to see its main regional nemesis, Iran, raise its influence there.
Well, maybe that explains the sudden concern emanating from the White House. After all, the 2012 election is right around the corner.

Now, what was it that Obama said during the 2007 debate?
"We need to talk to Iran and Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses... If we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region."
And, the last sentence I quoted from the Wall Street Journal was...
"The administration wants to ensure it doesn't withdraw troops only to see its main regional nemesis, Iran, raise its influence there.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Obama Speech - Is the GOP debate less important than an ordinary television show?

Newsmax reported:
After a Republican outcry Wednesday against the White House's Sept. 7 choice for [President] Obama's televised address to a joint session of Congress, Obama moved it back a night. The original date had put it head to head with the televised Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library in California.
In 2010, President Obama considered moving the date of his State of the Union address to February 2 in the hope that his health care reform bill would pass both chambers of congress by then and that he'd be able to flaunt the passage of the bill during his primetime address to the nation.

However, had the State of the Union address been pushed to February 2, ABC would have had to reschedule the premiere of the final season of the popular Lost TV series - which was scheduled to be aired on February 2.

Hence, then-White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs reassured the American people that the scheduling of the President's speech would not preempt the Lost season premiere.

From CNN's Marquee blog:
“Lost” watchers, all is right with the world again: President Obama will not interrupt the long-awaited episode by giving a national address the same night.

Fear gripped the hearts of fans when it was announced that the president wanted to push back the annual State of the Union address – typically held in late January – to February 2, which everyone should know by now is the premiere of the ABC drama’s final season....

But White House press secretary Robert Gibbs assured viewers Friday he “doesn’t foresee a scenario in which millions of people that hope to finally get some conclusion [with] ‘Lost’ are preempted by the president..."

The time slot for “Lost” may be secured, but still no word on what day the president will deliver the State of the Union.
The President, ultimately, delivered the State of the Union address in January.

However, the question arises: Is the GOP debate less important than an ordinary television show?