Friday, October 30, 2015

Lois Lerner, the IRS, and the Department of "No Justice"

It's Saturday politics. In what seemed an effort to bury the news during the media frenzy over Hillary Clinton's testimony before the House Select Benghazi Committee, the Justice Department sent a letter ten days ago to Congress informing it that the DOJ is closing its two-year investigation into whether the IRS improperly targeted tea party and conservative groups. In the letter, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik wrote the probe found : “substantial evidence of and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime. We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution. We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice. Based on the evidence developed in this investigation and the recommendation of experienced career prosecutors and supervising attorneys at the department, we are closing our investigation and will not seek any criminal charges.” ~~~~~ So, Lois Lerner, who referred to tea party organizations in emails as “crazies” and said they were working to bring about “an end to America,” will not be prosecuted. The DOJ also said no one on Lerner's staff will be charged. She resigned from the IRS in September 2013 and has since received her full pension. When the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was investigating whether the IRS targeted organizations because of their political views, Lerner exercised her Fifth Amendment right not to testify in order not to incriminate herself. During the investigation, the IRS claimed to have lost many of the emails to and from Lerner, making congressional and DOJ probes difficult. ~~~~~ So, we now know what the Department of “Justice” did for Lois Lerner. Its investigation was headed by a Democrat donor, and its report declared that Lerner did not deserve to be charged criminally, even though Lerner, who has been held in contempt of Congress, called conservative talk radio hosts “a**holes” in a 2012 email, and violated privacy laws by giving IRS information to the FBI. Lerner herself, in a February 2012 email, noted she expected consequences if her actions came to light. The evidence led a judge to rule in April that 300 conservative nonprofit groups could join in a class action lawsuit against the IRS. National Review’s Kevin Williamson wrote, the situation leaves us “one banana short of a republic.” ~~~~~ But, refusing to be ridiculed by the Obama DOJ without a fight, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Jason Chaffetz, began an impeachment process against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Tuesday, accusing him of misleading the public and destroying documents sought under a congressional subpoena. Among the charges listed by Chaffetz and the Committee were that Koskinen, appointed by President Obama in December 2013 after the targeting scandal broke, misled Congress when he said he had turned over all of former IRS senior executive Lois Lerner’s emails and that he oversaw destruction of evidence when his agency destroyed backup tapes that contained the emails. The impeachment resolution says the IRS knew as early as February 2014 that Lerner’s messages were missing because of a reported computer hard drive crash, but the agency didn’t notify Congress until June, and the backup tapes were destroyed. ~~~~~ Governor Mike Huckabee said : "There are two sets of rules in this country, one for those in power and one for all the rest of America who are getting their government whether it's their taxes, whether it's the criminal justice system, and Americans are fed up....the IRS is a criminal enterprise that should be put to death." ~~~~~ And, dear readers, are we ready for the same kind of Obama DOJ "justice" that Hillary Clinton will probably receive for her 2012 re-election Benghazi cover-up.

Time to Reduce the Size of the GOP Candidate Group

Despite the National Journal's long article in favor of Senator Rubio -- " Marco Rubio Made a Big Splash at the Third GOP Debate" -- one informal on-line poll shows Donald Trump winning with 43.8% of the 5,000 voting in the pick-a-name poll. Rubio was second with 18.5%, followed by Senator Ted Cruz at 9.5%. The Newsmax on-line poll shows Trump leading with 46%, followed by Cruz at 20%, Carson at 16% and Rubio at 10%. The others were all below 2%, with Jeb Bush last at 0.31%. Given Trump's quiet performance last night - he was a bystander most of the time - it's hard to understand Trump's extremely loyal following or what, if anything, might dislodge him. ~~~~~ Last night, my reaction was that Ted Cruz won, with Rubio in second place. And, although practical political considerations would make a Cruz-Rubio ticket unlikely, last night they gave voice to the two overriding principles driving GOP politics now -- respect for and adherence to the Constitution, and creating a low-tax job-generating environment in which all Americans have a fair chance to live the American Dream. I gave Cruz the edge because he has an aura of authority and gravitas that Rubio needs time to develop. Being Vice President under a President Cruz would give him that time. ~~~~~ I would urge Governor Jindal, former governors Pataki and Huckabee and former Senator Santorum to withdraw. They bring nothing unique to the GOP campaign and are either out of step with today's GOP or throwbacks to another era. Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich and Lindsey Graham have important things to say and should continue. Jeb Bush must decide soon if the pull of his family's political clan will keep him in a race he clearly has no heart or talent for. ~~~~~ That said, and putting aside the media attacks -- everyone knows the mainstream media is quasi-socialist like the Democratic Party they favor, and so we also know that conservatives need tough skin and a get-over-it attitude to be in politics today -- most of the GOP candidates were in tune with the political goals of America yesterday -- small government, fair lower taxes, protection of seniors and veterans, secure borders, a strong military, and constitutional government that roots out favoritism and presidential overreaching while re-balancing the powers of the three branches of government. ~~~~~ What is at issue are tactics. For example, there is voter and media opposition to Senate filibusters used by Senators Cruz and Paul to stop financial bills that include spending and debt ceiling increases. The tactic caused a 2013 partial government shutdown that penalized the GOP in voter polls, although the 2014 congressional elections increased the GOP House majority and gave the party a Senate majority, albeit non-veto-proof. A Republican President will fix that, making it possible to fulfill the goal of all Republicans to reduce the debt, balance the budget and revitalize the middle class. ~~~~~ Dear readers, the Iowa caucuses will be here in less than 100 days. It is time to put the breezy days of summer behind us. All candidates should be held to the one imperative -- provide detailed financial, social and security/military platforms. America is electing a President. The time for personality cults, feel-gooders and re-treaded losers is over. Bring on the main course. America needs GOP meat and potatoes, not cotton candy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

GOP Debate -- Cruz and Rubio

Tonight we watched the third Republican presidential debate. ~~~~~ The FIRST DEBATE featured the four candidates with the lowest average poll ratings over the past several months. ~~~~~ Senator Lindsey Graham, with a great sense of humor, is the candidate most concerned about America's security and military strength and in supporting her soldiers. He promises to protect Social Security and reform immigration policy. ~~~~~ Former Senator Rick Santorum is the Republican candidate whose policies most often favor blue collar Americans - flat tax plan and support for the Ex-Im Bank in terms of how they will help US workers and their families succeed. ~~~~~~ Governor Bobby Jindal is the free market conservative. He favors shrinking government so that individuals, families and businesses can make their own decisions about health care, education, religion and job creation. ~~~~~ Former Governor George Pataki embraces climate change as partly manmade and wants non-carbon energy development to impact climate change. ~~~~~ For me, and in viewer polls, Lindsey Graham (53%) was the strongest candidate in the first debate. ~~~~~ The SECOND DEBATE featured the candidates with the top ratings recently. It was a passionate, lively debate on issues -- despite, as Ted Cruz pointed out, the efforts of the moderators to make personal attacks on the candidates and to set them against one another. Instead of trying to repeat the candidates' words, I strongly urge you to watch and listen to a replay. The words of the GOP candidates clearly show why America must elect a Republican in 2016. ~~~~~ So, dear readers, here is my ranking of all the Republican candidates, and the role I think each would be best at in a 2017 Republican presidency. (1) Ted Cruz - President. (2) Marco Rubio - Vice President. (3) Chris Christie - Attorney General. (4) Carly Fiorina - Treasury Secretary. (5) Lindsey Graham - Defense Secretary. (6) Mike Huckabee - UN Ambassador. (7) Ben Carson - Health and Human Services Secretary. (8) Rand Paul - Senate Majority Leader. (9) Jeb Bush - probably would not be available.. (9) John Kasich - Labor Secretary. (10) Donald Trump - White House Senior Advisor without Portfolio and contract to build the wall. (11 etc. ) Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki - thank you and safe trip home.

Iraq - Obama's Vietnam?

The Pentagon has long denied the US is moving troops into combat roles in Iraq. The entire Obama team said Sergeant Joshua Wheeler was in Iraq under Operation Inherent Resolve, the name for President Obama's "non-combat" strategy to "degrade and defeat" ISIS that includes airstrikes. At a press briefing last Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook rebuffed questions about US "boots on the ground." He said only that US troops supporting Iraqi forces "are allowed to defend themselves, and also defend partner forces, and to protect against the loss of innocent life. And that's what played out in this particular operation," Cook said, referring to the joint Delta Force-Iraqi raid in which Sergeant Wheeler was killed. ~~~~~ Four years after Obama withdew US troops from Iraq in 2011, to make good on candidate Obama's promise to end the Iraq war, there are 3,550 US military personnel in Iraq under President Obama's orders. How did it happen? In June 2014, Obama deployed 300 Special Forces troops to Iraq to train Iraqis fighting ISIS, saying : “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region and American interests as well.” Two months later, Obama approved 130 more US troops for northern Iraq to rescue thousands of Yazidis trapped by an ISIS advance on Mount Sinjar. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said : “Very specifically, this is not a combat, boots-on-the-ground operation.” In September 2014, Obama began airstrikes against ISIS and sent another 475 troops to Iraq, taking the total to 1,518 : “As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission. We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” In November 2014, the White House announced another 1,500 troops for Iraq “in a non-combat role to train, advise, and assist Iraqi security forces, including Kurdish forces.” And last June, Obama sent another 450 troops to “train, advise and assist” Iraqi forces in Anbar province, saying : “These additional US troops will not serve in a combat role and will augment the 3,100 U.S. troops who have already deployed to Iraq.” ~~~~~ As with most Obama statements about Iraq, his "no combat" troop fantasy has hit the wall of reality. Just days after White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said Friday that the raid authorized by Carter “is consistent with our mission to train, advise and assist Iraqi forces," we learned today what Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday. Carter told the Committee the US will begin "direct action on the ground" against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria, to intensify pressure on the terrorists. Carter told the Committee : "We won't hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground." ~~~~~ Dear readers, finally, after months of denying that US troops would have any combat role in Iraq, Carter late last week acknowledged that the rescue raid was combat : "This is combat and things are complicated." Then, Carter told the Committee that Wheeler "was killed in combat." White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz predictably insisted the Obama administration has "no intention of long term ground combat." He added that US forces will continue to robustly train, advise and assist. Senator Lindsey Graham said the US Syria effort is a "half-assed strategy at best," and said the US is not doing a "damn thing" to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Carter pushed back but General Dunford acknowledged that the "balance of forces" has tilted in al-Assad's favor. So, Obama has capitulated to reality - he does have combat boots on the ground in Iraq - and Syria. But, Obama still has no strategy. He has simply put more US soldiers in greater danger with no sense of their real mission. Legacy? Russia? Iran? Or Obama's Vietnam?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler, American Patriot

Master Sergeant Joshua L. Wheeler, 39, became the first American soldier to die in combat against ISIS in Iraq. He is survived by his wife and four sons. Wheeler, a 20-year army veteran and Oklahoma native, was killed on Thursday, October 22, 2015. The US Delta Force service member, killed during a raid in Kirkuk Province in northern Iraq, is reported to have died from wounds received by enemy small-arms fire during an operation in which he and 27 US special operations commandos and 48 Kurdish militia raided a compound near the city of Kirkuk, freeing 70 Iraqi prisoners who were in imminent danger of being executed. ~~~~~ Sergeant Wheeler enlisted in the army as an infantryman in May 1995, and was deployed three times in combat operations to Iraq and Afghanistan before 2004. He was later assigned to Headquarters US Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and deployed another 11 times to Iraq and Afghanistan. Wheeler was a heavily decorated soldier who received 11 Bronze Stars and numerous other commendations. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart. The fatality marks the first US service member death from hostile fire in Iraq since President Obama ordered a training mission there in June 2014, although nine US service members have died from "non-hostile" causes in Iraq since 2014. ~~~~~ US officials said the plan had called for the elite Delta Force to stay back from the prison compound and let the Kurds do the fighting. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wheeler rushed into a firefight to defend his Kurdish partners, enabling the mission to succeed. However, a helmet camera video of the raid later released by the Kurdish peshmerga militia seems to show a greater US presence in the operation. US authorities said the raiders killed and captured a number of militants and recovered what the Pentagon called a trove of valuable intelligence about the ISIS terrorist organization. ~~~~~ Sergeant Wheeler's death has refocused attention on the role of US troops in what the Obama administration has always emphasized is not a “combat” but a "training" mission. During a press briefing at the Pentagon on Friday, Secretary Carter said he envisaged more such Special Forces raids, but added it “doesn’t represent us assuming a combat role” but instead marks a “continuation” of the mission to train and assist Iraqi forces fighting ISIS. But later during the same briefing, referring to the raid that cost Sergeant Wheeler’s life, Carter said, “This is combat - things are complicated.” He warned Americans not to be under “any illusions” that US troops attached to Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq will not be in harm’s way : "We do not have combat formations there the way we had once upon a time in Iraq, or the way we have had in years past in Afghanistan. But we do have people who are in harm’s way, and who evidently have shown a willingness to put themselves in harm’s way in order to have mission success.” [Note: this sounds eerily like Hillary Clinton's statements trying to avoid responsibility for Ambassador Stevens' Benghazi death]. US Commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland agreed with Carter, stressing in a statement that the raid did not represent a change in US military policy in Iraq. White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz concurred on Friday. These comments came one day after Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said the prison raid was “a unique circumstance in which very close partners of the United States made a specific request for our assistance.” ~~~~~ Dear readers, according to the security council of the Kurdistan Regional Government, 48 Kurdish officers and 27 US Special Forces members were involved in the operation, 68 hostages were freed and 20 ISIS terrorists killed. By whatever name President Obama chooses to call it, Sergeant Wheeler gave his life in a successful Delta Force operation that saved 70 bloodied and terrorized Iraqis from mass execution. He is a hero in an undeclared war against jihadist terrorist evil. Combat is combat is combat is....

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hillary's Deceit

On Friday, the day after Hillary Clinton testified before the House Select Benghazi Committee, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled "She Knew All Along." The WSJ explained : "Thanks to Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony on Thursday, we now understand why the former secretary of state never wanted anyone to see her emails and why the State Department sat on documents. Turns out those emails and papers show that the Obama administration deliberately misled the nation about the deadly events in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012....Mrs. Clinton complained in her testimony on Capitol Hill that past Congresses had never made the overseas deaths of U.S. officials a “partisan” issue. That’s because those past deaths had never inspired an administration to concoct a wild excuse for their occurrence, in an apparent attempt to avoid blame for a terror attack in a presidential re-election year." ~~~~~ Damning acts by Mrs. Clinton that led to years of lies, cover-up and contempt for America, its diplomats and the families of the Americans killed in the Benghazi terrrorist attack because they were abandoned by their leader, the conniving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. ~~~~~ America has felt this from the beginning. But, on Thursday, the House committee clearly exposed, without room for another Hillary/Barack barrage of lies, the awful truth of their wilful, corrupt deception. On the night of September 11, 2012, four Americans died in Benghazi. Hillary and the President blamed the attack on an anti-Moslem video -- Hillary did it first at 10:30 pm on the 11th, after talking by phone with the President at the White House. Then she went home to bed. President Obama then became incommunicado - probably sleeping, according to Defense Secretary Panetta. So, Obama made his first statement the next day, connecting the attack to the video. At the September 14th ceremony at Base Andrews when the bodies of the four dead Americans returned to US soil, with President Obama at her side, Secretary Clinton lied : "We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.” She then promised the father of one of the victims that the administration would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.” ~~~~~ And on Thursday, Judicial Watch revealed a new cable, sent the day after the attack, September 12th, from the Defense Intelligence Agency to the State Department Command Center, explaining that the attack was made by a “Salafi terrorism group” in “retaliation for the killing of an Al Qaeda operative.” The cable says : “the attack was an organized operation with specific information that the U.S. Ambassador was present.” The cable included details about the group’s movements and the weapons it used in the assault. Nevertheless, the Obama administration blamed "the fog of war," and “confusing” and “conflicting” information during its two-week spin. That was Mrs. Clinton’s flimsy excuse at the hearing. But her own conversations prove she had no doubt about what happened - while it was still happening. Democrats on the committee used the hearing to complain that it was a waste of money. To the contrary -- the hearing was invaluable because it provided the key to Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's lies -- they considered lying justified to further the re-election of Obama and the future presidential run of Clinton. ~~~~~ Dear readers, I raise the lies and deceit of Hillary Clinton for only one reason. I do not care whether she deals in lies since I am not her spiritual advisor. I do care about the future of America. Clinton used her testimony to spin the committee and her supporters. But, FBI investigators must have been listening for any attempts to hide the truth, because it's not just perjury — it’s a felony. The Obama Justice Department may refuse to indict Mrs. Clinton. But in 2016, US voters can rid American politics of Hillary and her lies forever.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday Politics - Hillary vs the Truth

It's Saturday politics and the hot topic is Hillary Clinton's testimony before the House Select Benghazi Committee. As I followed commentaries, one thing was apparent. Most people think Hillary wasn't touched by the Republican majority on the committee and that she was badly treated. ~~~~~ Wrong. That's the spin put on her testimony by a Democratic Party stuck with her now that Joe Biden has decided not to run -- and by the mainstream leftist media that would find a way to deify Mrs. Clinton no matter how much she lies to cover up her guilty acts. ~~~~~ What did the 11-hour session establish? By the way, she had coffee breaks and lunch. Ambassador Stevens and the Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, spent 11 hours under fire, being burned out of their diplomatic compound and dying. Don't cry for Hillary; remember what Americans who worked for her went through on that tragic night in Benghazi. ~~~~~ We learned from her testimony that : (1) Mrs. Clinton knew within an hour that the Benghazi attack was a pre-planned terrorist act. But Hillary lied to America for 8 days, saying it was caused by a video. The committee read an email she sent to her daughter Chelsea several hours after the attack began, telling her that an al-Qaeda-like group had killed the Ambassador. Hillary also told the Egyptian Prime Minister the day after the attack : “We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack. Not a protest.” (2) Hillary said she cared deeply about her "good friend" Ambassador Stevens : “I would imagine I’ve thought more about what happened than all of you put together. I’ve lost more sleep than all of you put together.” Really? She didn't lose sleep on the night of September 11, 2012 -- she testified that she went home to bed, saying she had to prepare for a rough rest of the week. (3) Mrs. Clinton testified that her "good friend" Chris Stevens didn't have her private email address or phone number, and said she could recall no conversations with him after she swore him in as Ambassador. The night of his death, she wrote an email with the subject line: “Chris Smith,” mixing up the deaths of Chris Stevens and diplomat Sean Smith. (4) Hillary exchanged hundreds of emails with Sidney Blumenthal, who was banned from the Obama administration for his corruption and a Clintonian past. Hillary said his emails were unsolicited. Chairman Gowdy corrected her, quoting her emails to Blumenthal : “You wrote to him, ‘Thanks and please keep them coming,’ ‘Greetings from Kabul and thanks for keeping this stuff coming, any other info about it?’ ‘What are you hearing now?’” Hillary then said the emails "began" as unsolicited. The truth is Blumenthal was Hillary's advisor - kept secret because it was against President Obama's direct order - and she routinely emailed him. Her denial is a lie. (5) Mrs. Clinton lied to defend her own conduct by saying Ambassador Stevens knew the risks of his job, accepted the risks, and died knowing those risks. She said Stevens “felt comfortable” in Benghazi. If this is true, why did the State Department team in Libya ask for more security 600 times. Hillary said she didn’t receive any of those requests, and blamed her security team for not granting more security. (6) The worst lie was Hillary's spin on Stevens' email asking whether the Benghazi compound would be closed, saying he was joking : “One of the great attributes that Chris Stevens had was a really good sense of humor, and I just see him smiling as he’s typing this because it’s clearly in response to the email down below talking about picking up a few ‘fire sale items from the Brits.’” When told the “fire sale items” were security barricades, she answered, “Well, I thought it showed their entrepreneurial spirit." ~~~~~ Dear readers, Charles Krauthammer nailed Hillary : “We’re not going to get the facts, we’re not going to get the real story underlying it. We’re living in an age where what you say and its relation with the facts is completely irrelevant." Trey Gowdy hopes to prove that facts count.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hillary Clinton Appeared but Did She Testify?

Hillary Clinton testified under oath on Thursday before the House Special Committee on Benghazi. Her goal was obvious -- defend her actions as Secretary of State during and after the terrorist attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. ~~~~~ The Democratic minority members of the Committee acted as her palace guard, taking every possible chance to paint conditons in 2012 in Benghazi, Cairo, Tunis and elsewhere around North Africa as dangerously volatile -- and to show that Secretary Clinton's actions were proper, professional and even heroic. ~~~~~ The Committee's Republican majority led by South Carolina Representative Trey Gowdy tried to find out why the US Benghazi diplomatic compound was so under-secured that Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans serving in Benghazi were assassinated and the compound razed, followed by an attack and the razing of an adjunct CIA building. ~~~~~ Republican Chairman Gowdy and GOP Representatives Lynn Westmoreland (Georgia), Mike Pompeo (Kansas), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Peter Roskam (Illinois), Susan Brooks (Indiana), and Martha Roby (Alabama) did yeoman work, trying to establish Hillary Clinton's pivotal role as Secretary of State when Benghazi went up in murderous flames, asking : (1) what she did and did not do that led to refusals to add security to the Benghazi compound and for Ambassador Stevens -- (2) what she did not do to stop the attack and save American lives once informed that an attack was occurring -- (3) what she did not do to stop the State Department, Defense Department, Obama White House and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice from continuing for one week to blame the attack on a demonstration in reaction to a video film when she knew within an hour that there was no demonstration and that the attack was a pre-planned terrorist attack -- (4) what she did not do to make State Department documents and senior personnel available to earlier Democrat and Republican House and Senate investigations -- (5) what she did to hide taking Libya advice from Sidney Blumenthal, a Bill Clinton White House advisor and Clinton Foundation advisor with business interests in Libya, who was blackballed by President Obama when she asked to hire him at State -- (6) what she did to hide her official correspondence relating to all her tenure as Secretary from both Congress and the State Department -- (7) and what all the above had to do with the 2012 re-election of President Obama only 55 days after the Benghazi attack, especially because one pillar of Obama's re-election campaign was his boast that al-Qaida and related terrorism was defeated. The Benghazi Special Committee report will answer these questions. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Representative Susan Brooks asked Hillary Clinton if she ever personally called Chris Stevens from May 2012 when she swore him in as Libyan Ambassador until he was assassinated in September. Brooks noted that the Committee has found not even one such official call log. Mrs. Clinton answered : "I don't remember." That is the summation of Hillary Clinton and her testimony. She had total recall of State Department procedures and State's relationship with the Defense Department and CIA. She had total recall of her phone call to the president of Tunisia. But Hillary Clinton cannot remember calling her "dear friend" Ambassador Stevens even once to ask if he was safe -- presumably because she didn't care. And just as President Obama left the Situation Room on September 11, 2012, to leave Benghazi to his staff, Secretary Clinton went home, leaving Benghazi to her staff. She didn't speak to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dempsey or CIA Director Petraeus until the next day, September 12th. She spoke to none of the Benghazi survivors for weeks or months. When it comes to the avoidable Benghazi tragedy, Hillary Clinton, like Barack Obama, was Absent Without Leave...AWOL.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Europe's Religious Turmoil

To finish our discussion about Europe's refugee crisis and Chancellor Merkel's effort to engage Turkey in a solution, we should look at the decades-old culture clash in Europe - made more volatile by the influx of Middle East refugees. ~~~~~ The clash often is a confrontation between European traditional Christians and post-Christians and skinheads - a clash used by extremist Moslems. Media reported early this year that Christian churches are under increasing attack all over Europe. The Observatory, a Vienna-based group that monitors such attacks, reported that Christian churches have been vandalized in Switzerland and Italy, and Christian churches and graves desecrated in France. Some of the vandalism is carried out by post-Christians who oppose Catholic teachings on homosexuality. Early this year, someone vandalized a Catholic Church in the Swiss Jura Canton north of Geneva, writing, “Jesus is Gay,” and spraying satanic symbols on the outside church walls. In the same period, in the Calvados region of France, dozens of Christian symbols in a graveyard were vandalized. The Observatory also reported that the Church of Saint John the Baptist in the Italian town of Lecce was spray painted with “God is a transgender.” Other graffiti indicated that the attack was related to a nearby pro-family conference. The Observatory said that in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, 700 church burglaries occur each year, with damages of $3 million. Not only Christian buildings in Europe, but also Christians themselves, are under attack. A year ago, leftist activists attacked Christian parents protesting against a new German sex-ed curriculum. The Observatory said the parents were spit at, and : “Pages were ripped out of the Bible and used to wipe backsides then formed into a ball and thrown at the parents.” In France, during huge demonstrations against same-sex marriage, in which one million Christians marched in Paris, peaceful demonstrators - men, women, children, and at least one former French Cabinet minister - were tear-gassed by French security forces. In Sweden, the national coordinator against violent extremism for the Swedish Ministry of Justice reportedly compared a midwife who refused to participate in abortion to ISIS terrorists. It must be noted that The Observatory is not a marginal organization - it was founded to provide information on discrimination against Christians to the institutions of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the UN. ~~~~~ Now, see the influx of Moslem refugees through the prism of a confrontational Christian/post-Christian Europe that is also debating how to manage the growing millions of Moslems already there. Many Europeans believe extremist Moslems who attack Middle East Christians and churches will infiltrate Europe with the refugee flood and accelerate the "moslemization" of Europe, as well as attacking Christians. In Italy last May, a recently-arrived Moslem boy of African origin beat a 12-year-old girl at school because she was wearing a crucifix necklace. Italian police didn't charge the boy because he is a minor. On Sunday, May 10, after Mass, a group of young Moslem migrants harassed a Catholic first communion procession, shouting insults and threats as the group passed in front of the Islamic Cultural Center in Conselice, a town in Romagna. On New Year's Day, an unstable Moroccan man, 67, mumbling verses from the Koran, used an iron rod to severely damage statues of the Virgin Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child, and destroy the altars and baptistry in the church of Santa Maria Assunta in Cles, Trentino. ~~~~~ Dear readers, multiple attacks on European Christianity come at the same time that European governments are being pressured by extreme Islam in Europe to integrate Islamic customs and Sharia into Christian Europe's schools and society. The volatile mix has sent European nationalists into the streets and increased their political power. Europe faces a religion-based tipping point and Turkey may help avoid it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Europe Is Being Flooded with Refugees

German Chancellor Merkel has good reason seek a Realpolitik solution with Turkey to ameliorate Europe's refugee wave. ~~~~~ Half a million asylum seekers have arrived in Greece this year, most by boat on Aegean island beaches -- 8,000 people arrived on Monday, bringing the total number to 502,500, the UNHCR refugee agency says. The total number of arrivals in Europe via the Mediterranean is over 643,000 this year. ~~~~~ Now, thousands of refugees are stuck on the northern Serbian border in cold wet weather, prompting complaints by aid agencies. So on Monday, Slovenia admitted 5,000 migrants from Serbia, despite previously saying it would take no more than 2,500 a day. But, Slovenia’s parliament is expected to approve the use of its army to manage the flow of migrants entering the tiny former Yugoslav republic, a change in the army's mission that will remain in effect for three months. Officials say 18,469 migrants have entered Slovenia since last Friday, with 5,092 people crossing the border yesterday. The migrants entering from Croatia are overwhelming the country, Prime Minister Miro Cerar said : “It is wrong to foster the illusion that it is possible for a small nation of two million people to stop, solve, and rectify a situation where even much bigger EU member states have failed.” Croatia also let in 3,000 people from Serbia yesterday, despite previously announcing a border crackdown. ~~~~~ Central European countries trade blame for the refugee bottleneck in Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans. Slovenia says Croatia ignored its quotas and is transporting large groups of people to its border. Croatian officials say Slovenia has often changed the number of migrants it says it is willing to accept, and accuses Greece of not doing enough to slow the flood of people entering Europe. Hungary blames everyone. ~~~~~ The problem is the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the fighting in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. They hope to reach Germany and other EU countries whose governments have been open to receiving them. It is the worst European migrant and refugee crisis since World War II. ~~~~~ Monday, thousands of marchers in Dresden protested against Germany's open-door refugee policy. The march was organized by the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida), to mark the one-year anniversary of the anti-Islam movement. The demonstrators chanted slogans against German chancellor Angela Merkel before the march turned violent. Placards included "Money for our children instead of money for your asylum seekers." Crowds also shouted "Merkel has to go." German authorities reported clashes with a counter-march, with one Pegida supporter seriously injured. On Sunday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told public broadcaster ARD that Pegida's leadership are "hard far-right extremists." Merkel has in the past described Pegida leaders as having "prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts." At its height, Pegida attracted over 25,000 people. Organisers say around 40,000 showed up on Monday. Others say the figure is between 15,000 and 19,000. The movement had shrunk, but it is growing again after the German government said it expects 1 million asylum seekers this year. Violence against refugees and people supporting them in Germany has unsettled authorities. In August, protesters from the militant National Democratic Party (NPD) threw rocks at buses of arriving refugees in a town near Dresden. Last weekend, a pro-refugee candidate for the mayor of Cologne was stabbed in the neck prior to her election victory. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Europe has been overwhelmed by the number of migrants at its door. Merkel and other EU leaders look to Turkey to control the refugee flow. Merkel's pledge to advance Turkey’s long-delayed bid to join the EU in return for cooperation in dealing with the unprecedented refugee crisis may be her last card before closing EU external borders. And there are 12 million internally displaced Syrians trying to get out. How could the EU ever handle them? Or Turkey, for that matter?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Chancellor Merkel's Turkish Realpolitik

"Realpolitik" is a German word coined by a German politician in 1853 to refer to politics or diplomacy based on considerations of power, and practical and material factors, rather than ideological, moral or ethical premises. Often, it's referred to as political "pragmatism." Realpolitik is also used negatively to imply politics that are coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian. ~~~~~ German politics in the last half of the 19th century was dominated by Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (b.1815, d.1898) known as Otto von Bismarck, whose political policies and tactics came to epitomize Realpolitik so fully that the word has become inextricably associated with him. He was a conservative Prussian statesman who controlled German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890. In the 1860s, he engineered a series of wars that unified the German states (excluding Austria) into a powerful German Empire under Prussian leadership. From that base, he skillfully used balance of power diplomacy to preserve German hegemony in a Europe which, despite recurring disputes and war scares, he kept at peace. ~~~~~ Why should we care about 19th century German Realpolitick? Because now, as then, Germany is holding Europe together politically, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the modern personification of German Realpolitik. She forms political goals and finds practical means to achieve them. She then pronounces, not expecting or tolerating dissent. As Bismarck, she is honored because she alone has mastered the art of Realpolitik required in Europe. And she is feared because she has the German popular support and money needed to hold the EU together. ~~~~~ Chancellor Merkel on Sunday offered Turkey her support for faster progress on its bid to join the European Union in return for cooperation in halting the flow of migrants and taking back those rejected by Europe. Speaking in Istanbul at a news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Merkel said Germany could help accelerate the path to visa-free travel to the EU for Turks and push forward Turkey's longstanding EU membership bid. In return, she said she expects Turkey to agree more quickly to take in migrants sent back by the EU, so-called "readmission agreements" that Davutoglu has said he will agree to only if there is progress on liberalizing the visa regime. After meeting the Turkish premier, Merkel said : "I think we have used the crisis we are experiencing, through a very disorderly and uncontrolled movement of refugees, to again achieve closer cooperation on many issues, both between the European Union and Turkey, and between Germany and Turkey." Merkel, who only 10 days ago said again she is opposed to Turkey joining the EU, said on Sunday the talks were "very promising." ~~~~~ Faster Turkish accession may be a bitter pill for some in her conservative party, strongly opposed to Turkish EU membership. Criticized by them and some German media because of their frustrations over the refugee crisis, she has resisted pressure to close Germany's borders and refuse refugees arriving from Austria, although Germany expects 1 million new refugees this year. Merkel wants to cement a European deal with Turkey in return for help in encouraging refugees in Turkey to stay there. But Davutoglu said several issues remained to be resolved, including : "...sharing of the refugee burden should be fair. The amount of secondary." He wants Turk visa-free travel to the EU to begin in July 2016 instead of 2017. He also wants a Turkish seat at EU summits. Merkel's answer was clear : "Germany is ready to offer support. If we take the question of visa liberalization, we can talk in the German-Turkish working group ...about specific possibilities to push through visa facilitation." ~~~~~ Dear readers, that is Realpolitik at work -- practicality over hidebound policy. America has not been good at Realpolitik, seeing it as a denial of principle. But Realpolitik could seek common interests - in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. Kissinger understood Realpolitik. Kerry doesn't.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Obama Signs Executive Order for Iran Deal - Will It Work Better than His Syria Red Line?

President Obama signed an order yesterday telling his administration to begin issuing waivers to Iran nuclear sanctions. The waivers will only go into effect after Iran meets its obligations to limit its nuclear program. The executive order marks what is called "adoption day" for the agreement intended to roll back Iran's nuclear program. It is, according to administration officials, a calendar-driven formality. Obama directed Secretary of State John Kerry to issue the waivers and "take all appropriate additional measures to ensure the prompt and effective implementation of the US commitments." The Iran sanctions were originally authorized by Congress but implemented by executive order, so Obama can waive the executive orders because Senate Democrats filibustered a September resolution that would have blocked the agreement. ~~~~~ The agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will be implemented after the International Atomic Energy Agency certifies that Iran has reduced its stockpiles of enriched uranium, dismantled 2/3 of its centrifuges, and halted construction of new nuclear facilities. Western officials say this will take six months. ~~~~~ The JCPOA - signed by the US, the UK, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran - requires Obama and the European Union to order the issuance of waivers on adoption day so businesses will know what sanctions are being waived, a senior State Department official said. Most of the sanctions being lifted apply only to non-US citizens and companies doing business with Iran. Separate sanctions imposed on Iran because of its support of terrorism and its human rights violations will still apply to US citizens. But sales of civilian passenger aircraft and handicrafts, mostly carpets, will be allowed. The US Treasury Department is also expected to issue some waivers for non-US businesses that want to do business in Iran, mainly banking, oil purchases, and investments in certain economic sectors, officials said. ~~~~~ Iran’s parliament voted last Tuesday to support the JCPOA, despite hard-line attempts to derail it, indicating the accord will be carried out. The Iran bill will now be reviewed by Iran’s 12-member Guardian Council - senior clerics who could return it to lawmakers for more discussion. However, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the final say on key policies, has said Parliament should decide. ~~~~~ The Iranian bill gives responsibility for implementation to Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, headed by President Rouhani. It allows Iran to withdraw from the JCPOA if world powers don't lift sanctions, impose new sanctions or restore previous ones. The bill says : “The government is obligated to stop its voluntary cooperation if the other side fails to remain committed." It also requires the Iranian government to work toward the nuclear disarmament of Israel, which is widely believed to have the region’s only, if undeclared, nuclear arsenal. The bill also says the government should take “necessary measures” to prevent the US and the West from penetrating Iran through the JCPOA, something Khamenei has mentioned. ~~~~~ Dear readers, adoption day comes amid heightened tensions with Iran over its Syrian civil war involvement and test launch on October 10 of a ballistic missile reportedly capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. But, Obama maintained Friday that those issues are separate from the more urgent need to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon : "This is something that I made very clear during the debate around the Iran nuclear deal: [It] solves a specific problem, which is making sure that they don't possess a nuclear weapon....we are going to have to...indicate to them that there are costs to bad behavior in the region and around the world." It seems clear the Iran nuclear deal is here to stay. But, if Obama, the UN and the EU do as well with Iran as they are now doing with Russia in Syria, we can expect Iran to soon brandish nuclear weapons that threaten an even more unstable Middle East and world.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Saturday Politics : the Democratic Party Is Socialist

It's Saturday politics. This week, it's the Democratic Party that's in troubled waters. ~~~~~ R. T. Rybak, a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the former mayor of Minneapolis, told the New York Times that after “flat-out not true” comments from DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, he had doubts about her ability to run the organization. Rybak called Wasserman Schultz the equivalent of a liar on Thursday, as the organization was in turmoil over the presidential primary process. ~~~~~ What is it all about? Earlier this week, when Representative Tulsi Gabbard, another DNC vice chair, publicly asked Wasserman Schultz for more debates than the six scheduled, she says that she was told she’d been uninvited from the debate. Wasserman Schultz told CNN that Gabbard’s statements were “simply not true.” On Thursday, Rybak added weight to his version, telling the NYT’s Maggie Haberman he was stunned that Wasserman Schultz “would knowingly say something that is flat-out not true.” Rybak said Wasserman Schultzied when she insisted that she had consulted with DNC officials, saying that they had not been consulted about the small number of debates with Democrat presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and others. The NYT also reported that Amy Dacey, the DNC chief of staff, confirmed Rybak and Gabbard’s account, saying that vice chairmen were “notified,” but not consulted as part of the decision making process. ~~~~~ The DNC internal fight occurred around last Tuesday’s Democrat presidential debate, in which Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee gave their plans for America. Webb was the quasi-Republican - he really ought to consider why he remains a Democrat. Chafee promised to “close the gap” between the haves and have nots - without one detail about how he would do it except to shut down everything that causes "climate change." O'Malley touted his Maryland record - one that left the state so vulnerable as to lead to the Baltimore racial upheaval. Self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders decried the rigging of the American economy to favor the 1% - his solution is to break up banks and shut down Wall Street, the US seat of world financial markets. We all can agree that Bernie's proposals would shut down everything for 100% of the world. Hillary Clinton promised to “save capitalism from itself” and address “the kind of inequalities we’re seeing in our economic system” - Hillary obviously skipped reading the part of 20th century history that documents the failure of centrally controlled distribution of wealth to achieve equality, an approach known as socialism or USSR Communism. But, we also know Hillary never lets facts influence what she says. ~~~~~ The Wall Street Journal noted, “The end of a two-term Presidency is typically a time for taking credit, celebrating achievements and promising to continue successful policies." But, the debaters never mentioned anything positive achieved by Obama in 8 years. They reflected Obama's and the Democrats' failure : a near-doubling of the national debt that under Obama has soared from 60% to over 100% of GDP, a crisis point for anybody but Democrats. O'Malley noted the shrinking middle class : “Our poor families are becoming poorer, and 70% of us are earning the same, or less, than we were 12 years ago. We need new leadership, and we need action.” He should have said 8 years because 12 years ago under President Bush the middle class did well. When debate moderator Anderson Cooper asked how they would differ from Obama, the candidates offered more Obama - a “right” to government health care; amnesty and Obamacare for all illegal immigrants; free college tuition for all (even the UK has halted this); paid family leave; and a $15 minimum wage. ~~~~~ Dear readers, the Democratic Party's socialist ideas may sound good. But they lead inevitably to drab Soviet tenements, subsistence-level state-controlled jobs and elite-led government, with citizens searching for a way out to freedom. That is Socialism. Do not be fooled.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Obama Reverses Course in Afghanistan

President Obama announced Thursday that the United States will not continue its military withdrawal from Afghanistan, instead keeping 9,800 troops in the country through 2016. He is thus prolonging the American presence in a war that has gone on for 14 years. Obama said he doesn't support the idea of “endless war” but is convinced the decision is vital to Afghanistan’s future and to the national security of the United States. Obama said : “While America’s combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures. I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again.” The 9,800 troops will be cut back to 5,500 at the end of 2016 or in early 2017, the end of Obama's presidency. Obama called it a “modest but meaningful expansion of our presence” in Afghanistan : “In key areas of the country, the security situation is still very fragile, and in some areas, there is risk of deterioration.” After 2017, he said, American forces will remain in several Afghan bases to “give us the presence and the reach our forces require to achieve their mission.” ~~~~~ President Obama has made it a central point of his presidency to end America’s Iraq and Afghanistan wars before he leaves office, but, making the announcement, he covered his reversal, saying he is not disappointed because he has always known there could be adjustments in troop levels as the military withdraws. Obama said Afghan forces are not fully ready to protect their country. While the President said the Taliban's seizing and holding of the northern city of Kunduz for more than two weeks was not relevant, it is clear that events in Kurduz and the growing re-emergence of the Taliban had to have influenced his decision. ~~~~~ Obama did not mention Iraq, where the full and rapid US troop withdrawal he ordered in 2011 has led to a violent takeover of much of Iraq by ISIS, a much more active role in Iraq for Iran's military, and the recent Russian regional military power play. Yet, Obama seemed to try to defend his Iraq decision by saying the mission in Afghanistan had the benefit of a clear objective, a supportive government and legal agreements that protect American forces - three factors not present in Iraq : “Every single day, Afghan forces are out there fighting and dying to protect their country. They’re not looking for us to do it for them. If they were to fail, it would endanger the security of us all.” ~~~~~ Critics say Obama’s actions do not go far enough to confront al-Qaida and other threats. Representative Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement : “While this new plan avoids a disaster, it is certainly not a plan for success." House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement he is “glad the administration finally admits President Obama’s arbitrary political deadlines are ‘self-defeating.’ The President’s half-measures and failed leadership have emboldened our enemies and allowed for ISIS’s rise. It’s time for a change.” ~~~~~ Dear readers, after the announcement, White House press secretary Josh Earnest nodded toward the 2016 presidential election, saying the next President - Democrat or Republican - will inherit a situation in Afghanistan that is a “dramatically improved one when compared to the situation that President Obama inherited.” It's strange the White House should choose these words. They represent exactly what President Bush left Barack Obama in Iraq. Obama destroyed everything he had been given and then almost destroyed the US effort in Afghanistan. Thursday's decision prolongs America's Afghanistan presence, but will it be enough to contain the Taliban until January 2017. Obama's decision seems more his effort to save his legacy by not losing the war he considers his own. It's sad that he will not admit his Iraq error and create a plan to save it, too -- not likely because Obama's disdain for President Bush makes Iraq somebody else's war, even if that means ISIS, Iran and Russia's rampages, instead of America as Iraq's protector.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Saudi Inhumaine Punishments as It Takes Chair of UN Human Rights Council

Two news stories from Saudi Arabia are again raising serious human rights questions about sharia law applied by the Wahhabi school of sunni Islam in the Kingdom. ~~~~~ First, US President Obama is being asked to save Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, sentenced to be beheaded and crucified for attending anti-government protests. Nusra al-Ahmed, the mother of the Saudi teenager, has begged Obama to intervene to save her son from a punishment she described as “savage” and “backwards in the extreme.” Amnesty International and British Prime Minister David Cameron have called for clemency to stop Nimr, who was 17 when arrested, from being beheaded and crucified. His mother said he was detained after joining shiite demonstrators in the coastal city of Qatif, seeking equal religious rights in sunni-majority Saudi Arabia. The official charges against Nimr included attending a protest, using his phone to encourage further support for the demonstrations and possessing a gun, an accusation which the family strongly denies. Nimr's mother said her son showed signs of torture when she visited him. She says she still has hope her son can be saved from being beheaded and his decapitated body hung from a cross in public. ~~~~~ Second, Prime Minister David Cameron will write to the Saudi Arabian government about a UK retiree imprisoned for possessing alcohol - which is illegal in Saudi Arabia - because of concerns from the children of Karl Andree that the 74-year-old will receive 360 lashes for the crime. But BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said Saudi and UK officials have assured him "there was never any question" of Andree being flogged, adding that Saudi officials had given private assurances to the UK Foreign Office. Andree has already spent more than a year in prison since his arrest by Saudi religious police. His daughter, Kirsten Piroth, told BBC News her father would not survive the punishment lashes. She said he was transporting homemade wine in his car in August 2014 when he was pulled over and arrested. Cameron's official spokeswoman said this was an "extremely concerning" case, and the government had already raised the matter with the Saudi government "several times." But she denied there was any connection between Andree's case and the UK government's cancellation of a £5.9 million prisons deal with Saudi Arabia. Andree's one-year prison sentence is now complete and Piroth said her family had been "led to believe" the lashes would not be given due to her father's age and health. But she said there now "seems to be some question mark" about it. Piroth said : "He's an old man, he's 74, he's survived three types of cancer with very strong cancer treatments, he's asthmatic, he has gout - he's not very well. He's got a great spirit but his bodily health is not great and I just feel like he received his sentence and he did his time and I just want him home now." The BBC quoted a Foreign Office spokesman : "Our embassy staff are continuing to assist Mr. Andree, including regular visits to check on his welfare, and frequent contact with his lawyer and family. Ministers and senior officials have raised Mr Andree's case with the Saudi government and we are actively seeking his release as soon as possible." The Foreign Office website warns that penalties for alcohol possession in Saudi Arabia are "severe." ~~~~~ Dear readers, the flogging and death sentences come as Saudi Arabia faces increasing diplomatic scrutiny over the severity of its penal system as it takes over the chair of the UN Human Rights Council. For almost 70 years, Saudi Arabia has been a vital US ally in the Middle East. But, recently, the Obama rapprochement and nuclear deal with Iran has strained the relationship and the Kingdom has sought alliances to balance that with the US. The US-Saudi relationship will continue, including self-imposed US reticence about Saudi human rights abuses. But, private diplomacy might arrange that pardons of Nimr and Andree would be repaid by not commenting on the ridiculous Saudi assumption of the UN Human Rights Council chairmanship.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Democrat Debate - Leftist Lemmings Following Bernie into the Socialist Sea

Dear readers, the first Democratic presidential debate just ended. To generalize -- **Senator Bernie Sanders is tough, consistent...and wrong. **Former Governor Martin O'Malley is a lot like Ohio GOP Governor Kasich, he has done everything so just accept that he's the best Democrat for the job. **Lincoln Chaffee should go home and figure out who he is. **Former Senator Jim Webb is obviously ill at ease speaking but his policies are the best of the five debaters, and he is so much more moderate than the others that he would probably be more at ease as a Republican. **Hillary Clinton was at her "Well...let me tell you" best, followed by not answering but changing the topic, and she was very hawkish on foreign policy but very progressive on social issues. But, perhaps the besy thing about the debate was CNN moderator Anderson Cooper, who was well-prepared and asked tough pointed questions. Unfortunately, most of his questions were ignored. ~~~~~ At the end of the debate, we can say that it's still Bernie and Hillary...or Bert and Ernie...who cares? Here are some of their comments : HILLARY -- "I will do all I can to heal the divide in America.....I have a range of views...but yes, I'm a progressive....Every so often in America we have to rein in the excesses of capitalism, but we shouldn't turn our back on it....Senator Sanders position on gun control does not go far enough....We got a lot of business done with Russia when Medvedev was president. Then Putin was re-elected....We need to make it clear that we oppose Russia being in Syria. We need to be stronger....ISIS poses a threat to the Middle East and beyond. We need a strong coalition....A no-fly zone in Syria would be useful to get Russia to the negotiating table....The Benghazi Committee is an arm of the Republican National Committee....We need a new New Deal for black Americans....I would not be a third term of President Obama because I'm a woman." BERNIE : "A socialist wants...what Denmark, Sweden and Norway have done for their people....Republicans win when there is a low turnout....Gun control - I am for strong common sense gun control, against assault weapons and the gunshow loophole and I am for instant background checks and for better mental health services....We should not get into the quagmire that is Syria....We need coalitions...I am against America acting alone....Mr. Putin is going to regret what he has done in Syria....America is sick and tired of hearing about Hillary's emails....The greed and recklessness of Wall Street in the 1990s under Clinton destroyed the lives of middle class Americans....We need a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants." ~~~~~ To sum it up, the five Democrats all agree that for whatever big-government program they propose, they say "the wealthy will pay for it." And whatever the economic problem is, they say "it is Wall Street's fault." And for each of them, Republicans are the big bad wolves at the door who don't care about issues or Americans or America. So, what else is new? The Democrats never change. They want to spend, tax and keep their constituency dependent on them for everything. In case you didn't subject yourself to the Democrat debate, you'll be happy to know that they are still leftists who have now decided to be Leftist Lemmings marching behind Bernie Sanders into the Socialist Sea.

McConnell and Buggy Whip Filibusters (Sorry..System Troubles)

The American buggy whip industry was made obsolete by the arrival of Henry Ford's Model Ts. There are political buggy whips, too, and GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in danger of becoming a buggy whip. ~~~~~ But, McConnell has formed a task force to look at reforming Senate filibuster rules, and that may save him from obsolescence. The task force will examine whether filibuster rules should be revised. It's proof that Republicans are pressuring McConnell to do whatever is necessary to get legislation through Congress and on to President Obama's desk. ~~~~~ The Senate filibuster is used by the minority party to stop legislation from proceeding to a Senate vote or to the process of amending legislation before it goes to the Senate floor. Changes to the filibuster rules are being demanded by Republican House and Senate members elected in 2010 and 2012 as conservative reformers, and who are increasingly angry because their GOP congressional majority is unable to break through filibusters by Democrat Senators protecting President Obama from having to veto popular GOP bills. Senator Lamar Alexander, a close ally of McConnell, told The Hill : "We’re going to take a serious look at whether Senate rules ought to be changed in order to make the Senate work more effectively. A number of the new Senators have come in looking around saying, ‘Why are we doing things this way and not that way.'" ~~~~~ Filibusters - continuous speaking marathons - require 3/5 of the Senate (60 votes, called "invoking cloture") to stop the filibuster and proceed to debate on the legislation. In 1789, the first US Senate adopted rules allowing the Senate to "move the previous question," which meant ending debate and proceeding to a vote. Former Vice President Aaron Burr argued in 1806 that the motion regarding the previous question was redundant, had only been exercised once in the preceding four years, and should be eliminated. The Senate agreed, recodified its rules, and the potential for a filibuster was created because the Senate enacted no alternative rule for terminating debate. The filibuster remained theoretical until 1837 when the first Senate filibuster occurred. In 1841, a defining moment came during debate on a bill to charter the Second Bank of the United States. Senator Henry Clay tried to end debate via majority vote. Senator King threatened a filibuster. Other Senators sided with King, and Clay backed down. In 1917, a rule allowing the cloture of debate was adopted by the Democratic Senate at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson, after a group of 12 anti-war Senators killed a bill that would have allowed Wilson to arm merchant vessels in the face of unrestricted submarine warfare by Germany. ~~~~~ In the past decade, the existence of the filibuster has meant that most major legislation (apart from budgets) requires a 60-vote of all Senators eligible to vote to bring the bill or nomination to the floor for a vote. So, the majority has preferred to avoid filibusters by moving on to other business when a filibuster that has 60-vote support is threatened. The removal or substantial limitation of the filibuster is called the constitutional option by proponents and the nuclear option by opponents - the two positions change depending on which party is the Senate majority. For example, in November 2013, the Democrat-majority Senate under Harry Reid voted, 52 to 48, to require only a majority vote to end a filibuster of certain executive and judicial nominees, not including Supreme Court nominees. A 60-vote majority is still required to end filibusters not related to such nominees. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Majority Leader McConnell refers to Senate tradition to defend the 60-vote filibuster rule. But, Senate filibuster tradition has varied widely. Instead of defending questionable tradition, he should change the rule -- to make the GOP majority functional and support the legislative program the GOP Congress was elected to enact. Otherwise, McConnell may become a buggy whip cast aside by his GOP Senate caucus focused on winning in 2016.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Columbus Day Thoughts 2015

It was 524 years ago that Christopher Columbus discovered America - as we put it popularly. Columbus said of his voyage : "Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World." ~~~~~ America was for many years simply called the New World. It was settled by Spaniards to the south and west and by English to the north and east. The Spanish brought Catholic Christianity, baroque European architecture and a class-ordered society to the New World. The English brought religious tolerance, local self-government and a commitment to education. And, the English turned those ideals into the greatest governing document ever created by man -- the United States Constitution. It has been copied by more governments - both scoundrels and democrats - than any governing document in history. And it has guided the United States through 227 tumultuous years. ~~~~~ Today, America is, in the view of many experts and also most American citizens, at a critical crossroads. Fundamental decisions demand to be made and Americans are divided into two broad camps as never before. One camp wants to make America a non-religious, neo-European socialist country where the individual is sacrificed for the State. This requires treating the Constitution and its foundation of personal liberties and religious morality as an historical artifact no longer useful in today's America. The other camp wants give new life to an America based on religious principles, personal liberties and a market economy where the individual controls the State. This requires treating the Constitution as the living, breathing soul of today's America. ~~~~~ Dear readers, you know that I stand with the latter camp. But, the battle between the two views is far from over. Those who prefer constitutional government with limits on state power must find ways to take the Constitution's message to every American. The stakes are as high as they were in 1776 or 1789 or 1861. The same determination and courage are essential. The sun still lights the way to that shining city on the hill that is the home of Americans, not Europeans. The beginning is today. As Christopher Columbus said : "You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday Politics : Democrats Exaggerate GOP Problem

It's Saturday politics, and the glee coming from Democrat politicians and the mainstream media would make you think the death of the Republican Party is imminent. Their favorite description of what's going on in the GOP House caucus is "chaos." ~~~~~ Not really. It's about the House Republican majority seeking a new candidate for Speaker. Just before the vote for Speaker Thursday, GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told his colleagues he didn't have enough support on the House floor to be elected on GOP votes alone -- so he bowed out of the race in order to avoid owing favors to Nancy Pelosi if he had needed Democrat votes to win. Speaker John Boehner, who announced recently he plans to resign from Congress October 30, told the caucus Friday that he'll stay on as Speaker until the conference unites around a successor. House members went home Friday for a scheduled week recess, and now they'll be spending time explaining this week's events to their constituents. A majority leans toward Representative Paul Ryan, who prefers to stay in his position as Ways and Means Committee chairman to finish his work on tax reform and a full revision of the tax code. But with lots of coaxing, including a call from Mitt Romney, Ryan is considering running for the leadership job because he is acceptable to all the groups in the GOP caucus. ~~~~~ Representative Darrell Issa of California said yesterday he may enter the race, but Issa agreed all eyes are on Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential running mate. "Ryan should make a definitive decision "soon," GOP sources told the Washington Post. Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who was already a candidate, said he will withdraw from the race if Ryan decides to run. Also in the race is Representative Daniel Webster of Florida, who is backed by the House Freedom Caucus, the influential group of 50 GOP conservatives. ~~~~~ Dear readers, the imminent death of the GOP has been greatly exaggerated. Republicans will agree on a Speaker, and the caucus will rally around him to get busy on the debt ceiling and the rest of the conservative legislative agenda they were elected to carry out - an agenda that often made Speaker Boehner uncomfortable. Instead of clucking like hens over the GOP situation, the Democrats would do better to worry about their own seemingly insurmountable problems : a nonfunctional President who is out-of-step with the great majority of Americans, and two lamentable presidential candidates - Hillary Clinton whose polls are collapsing as she faces possible criminal indictment and Bernie Sanders who is so far to the left that he calls himself a socialist. Worse, the only Democratic solution is to trot out 73-year-old VP Joe Biden, who has already failed twice as a wanabee President and whose most notable attributes are slightly off-color gaffs and ogling women. Now, tell me, which party is in chaos?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Hillary Can't Rewrite the Constitution

Hillary Clinton's remark on the House Select Committee on Benghazi : "If I were President ... I would have done everything to shut it down." ~~~~~ Before going any farther in her goal to live in the White House, Mrs.CIinton needs a refresher course on the constitutional separation of powers, so she doesn't try to eliminate the legislative powers of Congress as Barack Obama has ceaselessly tried to do. ~~~~~ The US Constitution, Article I, Section V, clause 2, gives each House of Congress the right to create and enforce its "Rules and Proceedings." The first House of Representatives committee was appointed on April 2, 1789, by the First Congress to "prepare and report such standing rules and orders of proceeding" and the duties of a Sergeant-at-Arms to enforce those rules. It was a select committee assigned to prepare and report standing rules and orders for House proceedings. It lasted five days, dissolving after submitting its report to the full House. Since then, Congress has always relied on committees to doe its work. The second committee room upstairs in Congress Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is preserved. Visitors can see its rectangular wooden table and ten wooden chairs. Other House temporary committees were created, as needed, to review specific issues for the full House. The House relied primarily on the Committee of the Whole to handle the bulk of legislative issues. Because of the House's need for more detailed advice on certain issues, specific committees with broader authority were established. One of the first was a three-member committee on April 29, 1789, "to prepare and report an estimate of supplies...and of nett [sic] produce of the impost." The Committee on Ways and Means followed on July 24, 1789, during a debate on the creation of the Treasury Department, over concerns of giving the new department too much authority over revenue proposals. The House felt it would be better to establish a committee to handle the matter. The first Committee on Ways and Means had 11 members and existed for just two months. It became a standing committee in 1801, a position it still holds. The committee structure of Congress was codified and has been amended several times as part of the U.S. Code. ~~~~~ Because standing committees handle specific enumerated duties (rather than the general duties of Congress), their members develop specialized knowledge of the matters under their jurisdiction. Standing committees monitor governmental operations, identify issues for legislative review, gather and evaluate information, and recommend courses of action to either the House or Senate. In addition, House committees vote to bring bills onto the floor with a committee report. ~~~~~ A select or special committee is appointed to perform a special function that is beyond the authority or capacity of a standing committee. A select committee is usually created by a resolution of the whole House or Senate that outlines its duties and powers and the procedures for appointing members. Select and special committees are often investigative, rather than legislative, though some select and special committees have the authority to draft and report legislation. A select committee generally ceases to exist on completion of its designated duties, although they can be renewed. Several select committees are treated as standing committees by House and Senate rules, and continue from one session of Congress to the next. Examples of this are the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House and the Select Committee on Intelligence in the Senate. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Hillary Clnton was referring to the House Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Trey Gowdy, that will interview her on October 22 to learn what she knows about the tragic attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. There is nothing a President can do to interfere with the constitutional power of Congress to create committees to carry out the people's business. Mrs. Clinton made her Benghazi bed, now she must lie in it by testifying under oath.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Time Is Runnng Out in Syria

Time is running out for President Obama and Defense Secretary Carter to do something more than talk about the Russian campaign in Syria. Obama and Carter have been whining about Russia's takeover of the Bashar al-Assad war against the Free Syrian Army and other moderate rebel groups supported and armed by the US and coalition Arab states. They cry 'foul' because Russian President Putin says his forces are attacking ISIS, whereas only 10% of Russian air strikes have been against ISIS targets. Early yesterday, that changed spectacularly when four Russian warships in the Caspian Sea launched 26 long-range rockets at ISIS in Syria, traversing Iranian and Iraqi airspace to hit targets a thousand miles away. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin confirmed the strikes in a joint TV appearance. ~~~~~ While Putin exercised bragging rights over the rocket hits, Russian air strikes had already destroyed the main weapons depots of a US-trained Syrian rebel group, their commander said on Wednesday, describing an expansion of Russian attacks on US coalition-backed moderate Syrian rebels. The Liwa Suqour al-Jabal, whose fighters have attended CIA military training programs in Saudi Arabia and Qatar - a program separate from the Pentagon's failed program to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. The latest strikes hit the group's main weapons depots in Aleppo province, completely destroying them late Tuesday, its commander Hassan Haj Ali told Reuters yesterday. Liwa Suqour al-Jabal operates in areas of western and northern Syria targeted by most Russian air strikes but where ISIS has no significant presence. The group has coalition-supplied guided anti-tank missiles that have had significant impact on the battlefield. Liwa Suqour al-Jabal has also been fighting attempts by ISIS to advance in areas north of Aleppo near the Turkish border, where it was also targeted last week by Russian air strikes. In addition, under Russian air cover, on Wednesday the al-Assad army and militia, likely Hezbollah, carried out ground attacks on rebel positions. ~~~~~ Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said that on Tuesday Russia had summoned (summoned???) foreign military attaches in Moscow and suggested they supply Russia with any intelligence on ISIS positions : "Today we are expecting a reply from our colleagues and we hope they will tell us about those targets which they have," he said. Shoigu also said Russia was ready to agree a document with the United States to coordinate actions in Syria. But, Secretary Carter said yesterday that while the US is willing to hold technical discussions with the Russians to secure the safety of US pilots : "We are not prepared to cooperate in a strategy which as we explained is flawed, tragically flawed, on Russia's part," again accusing Russia's strikes of not focusing on ISIS militants. "Despite what the Russians say, we have not agreed to cooperate with Russia so long as they continue to pursue a mistaken strategy and hit these targets," Carter said. ~~~~~ Dear readers, if Putin's swaggering Syrian power play seems familiar, it is. In Ukraine, he was less public while taking military control of the eastern provinces, but he marched boldly into Crimea. The result was a Russian total takeover. If Obama does not act decisively soon - which he refused to do in Ukraine - Russia's takeover of al-Assad-controlled Syria, followed by the creation of a Syria-Iraq-Iran axis, will be a reality that Obama will not be able to alter, short of direct confrontation with Russia. Obama's "leading from behind" strategy is a case study in naivete that has destabilized the world and destroyed the Middle East. Can the US military, NATO, Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia make Obama see reason? The Wall Street Journal recently called him 'unteachable' : "History will remember Barack Obama as the President who conducted foreign policy less as a principled exercise in the application of American power than as an extended attempt to justify the evasion of it."

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Syrian Refugees - Where Is the Moslem World

At night, with heavy police security, a 6-foot granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments was removed from the Oklahoma Capitol grounds after judges said its location on government land violated state laws and US Constitutional provisions against government support of religion. The monument will be placed at the offices of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative public policy group near the Capitol. ~~~~~ While neither the Obama White House nor mainstream media speaks about it, students at the Umpqua Community College in Oregon were martyred if they answered "yes" to the mass killer's question: Are you a Christian? It must have been a simple answer for the first student, but that first murderous shot in reply must have made the "yes" of the following student martyrs a heroic affirmation that their Christian faith was more important to them than their lives. The New York Times only said the shooter inquired about people’s “religions.” A TV news channel said the shooter’s motive was unclear. Afterward, President Obama, instead of talking about religious tolerance, delivered an out-of-control tirade on gun control. ~~~~~ The Obama administration granted US asylum to 1,519 previously ineligible aliens involved in terrorism - saying their crimes were committed “while under duress” -- after an Obama rewriting of law by a 2014 “Exercise of Authority” of the Department of Homeland Security and State Department that amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to remove a zero-tolerance rule for asylum seekers involved in any material support for terrorism. Yet, 15 of 27 Iraqi Christian refugees held at a California detention center for six months will be deported, despite support from US-citizen Iraqi Christian family members. Obama again manipulated the law by determining that only people “persecuted by their government” qualify as refugees, so Christians fleeing ISIS killing fields in Iraq are ineligible for asylum, but Moslems from Syria and other countries who have provided limited material support to terrorists gain entry. ~~~~~ In Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan -- Christians face serious violations of religious freedom and persecution ranging from murder, rape and torture to repressive laws, discrimination and social exclusion. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Christian nations have an unalienable right to practice their religion and preserve their Judeo-Christian culture. That is why Western nations should accept only Christian refugees from the Middle East. Some countries, such as Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Cyprus, and Australia, are defying progressive dogma by trying to accept Christian refugees only. Progressives cry “racism,” but from a humanitarian viewpoint, Christians should receive top priority because they are the most persecuted group in the Middle East. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said : "Christian minorities are being persecuted in Syria and even if the conflict were over they would still be persecuted.” Yes. Christians are targeted by Middle East Moslem mobs, individuals, regimes, and terrorists, for the same reason : Christians are Infidels. Conversely, Moslem refugees are not fleeing persecution. They flee conflict caused by violent jihadist teachings within their own Islam religion. Moslem refugees could be easily assimilated in safe Moslem countries - not easy in Western countries because of great cultural differences. The West would continue to provide financial support for resettling these refugees in Moslem countries. But this won't happen. Western progressives favor fantasy over reality, so Christians are at the bottom of the refugee asylum list - the US has a 2015 asylum ratio of six Moslems for each Christian - because it makes progressive Western governments and individuals feel enlightened and multicultural. It also allows those Moslems with a mentality that believes in killing “infidel” Middle East Christians to be welcomed into the West. Where is the touted Moslem world compassion for its own?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Putin's Plan for the Middle East

Events in Syria are taking the shape of a John Le Carre spy novel. ~~~~~ (1) US Defense Secrerary Ash Carter admitted Monday that Russia has escalated Syria's civil war by targeting moderate opposition supported by the US coalition. He said Moscow's attacks bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (2) Russia's move into Syria is the largest foreign deployment of Russian forces since the collapse of the USSR, which was instrumental in rebuilding Syria’s military after its disastrous wars with Israel in 1967 and 1973. Syria provides Russia’s only Mediterranean naval facility at Tartous. Since 2011, Russia has been the chief backer of al-Assad, protecting him from UN resolutions and stepping up arms deliveries. (3) Russian President Putin says Russia is fighting ISIS. But, 40 Syrian insurgent groups, including some of the most powerful groups fighting al-Assad, who are armed by Arab states, called on regional states to form an alliance against al-Assad, Russia and Iran, saying regional cooperation is needed to stop "the Russian-Iranian alliance" occupying Syria : "Civilians have been directly targeted in a manner that reminds us of the scorched earth policy pursued by Russia in its past wars." (4) The US and NATO denounced Russia yesterday for violating Turkish air space along the Syria frontier. Turkey, a NATO member, threatens to respond if provoked again, raising the possibility of direct confrontation between two Cold War enemies. NATO held an emergency member meeting to respond to what Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called "unacceptable violations of Turkish air space." NATO members "strongly protest" and "condemn incursions into Turkish and NATO territory, call on the Russian Federation to cease and desist, and immediately explain these violations," NATO said in a post-meeting statement. The Obama administration responded in weaker terms, saying the US and its allies were "quite concerned" about the incursion. Turkey, with NATO's second biggest army, scrambled two F-16 jets on Saturday when a Russian aircraft entered its air space near its southern Hatay province, the Turkish foreign ministry said. In a second incident, the Turkish military said a MiG-29 fighter - an aircraft used by both Russia and Syria - harassed two of its F-16s on Sunday by locking its radar on to them as they patrolled the border. The Russian Defense Ministry said an SU-30 fighter aircraft had entered Turkish air space along the border with Syrian "for a few seconds" on Saturday and told Turkey it was a mistake that wouldn't happen again. An unnamed senior US defense official said Washington doubted the incursions were an accident. (5) The Jordanian Al Bawaba news website described this weekend the Russian troop contingency in Latakia, Syria. A video appears to show the barracks where Russian soldiers are housed, with mobile kitchen units, sleeper bunks and fresh bread with "flour shipped in from Russia." And, a Reuters report in September quoted Lebanese sources saying small numbers of Russian troops were conducting military operations alongside Syrian troops. Then last week, the Russian parliament approved the use of ground forces in Syria to support President al-Assad. Yesterday, CNN reported that aerial images suggest Russian troop units have left Latakia for western Syria sites near Homs province, although CNN said there is no indication of engagement. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Putin is filling the void left by Obama's collapse into catastrophic indifference. Putin's goals? Show Russian military power as a reminder to the EU and NATO not to interfere in Ukraine or Syria. Push NATO away from eastern Turkey and prevent the creation of a no-fly zone that would slow the destabilizing refugee flow iņto Europe. Displace the US as the Middle East dominant outside power, and take back its key role in the Middle East lost when Sadat kIcked the USSR out of Egypt in 1972. Putin is also warning extremists not to attack Russia. An ambitious tough-guy plan. And, it unmasks Obama, the wannabe-President with no plan.

Monday, October 5, 2015

US Military Budget Policy Fight Coming between Senate and Obama

At a Senate Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee hearing on May 6, retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, said the world is in the most uncertain global security environment he has seen in his 40 years of service. The military understands it must get costs under control, he said. But, he added, it can't be more important than protecting the nation : "In my judgment,...we are at the bottom edge of our manageable risk in achieving and fulfilling our national security strategy, as it is currently designed.” ~~~~~ Congress members have lined up to stop an Army plan to cut 40,000 troops and reduce the force from 490,000 to 450,000 by 2018. "People who believe the world is safer, that we can do with less defense spending and 40,000 fewer soldiers, will take this as good news. I am not one of those people," Representative Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, says. The House Armed Services Committee has consistently warned about the size and pace of reductions in both end strength and defense spending and the negative impact on the country's national security. Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the Army's plan a "dangerous consequence of budget-driven strategy. With global instability only increasing, and with just 33% of the Army's brigade combat teams ready for deployment and decisive operations, there is simply no strategic basis to cut Army force structure below the pre-9/11 level of 490,000....Any conceivable strategic rationale for this cut to Army end-strength has been overturned by the events of the last few years from the rise of ISIS, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and more," McCain said. ~~~~~ Now, Republicans are heading for a veto showdown with President Obama over the defense bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will focus the Senate on the $612 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week, despite a White House veto threat. Obama has threatened to veto every defense bill for the past six years, but has never done so. But, the White House says that because the bill contains many policy fights, the President will hold firm this year. After lawmakers released their conference bill, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called it an “irresponsible way to fund our national defense priorities.” Senate Republicans seem ready to try to force the President to issue his fifth veto - this time on legislation they say is vital to national security. Senator McCain said : "If the President vetoes the NDAA, at this time of mounting global threats, he will be prioritizing politics and process over the security of our nation and the well-being of our armed forces." Republicans say Obama shouldn’t veto the defense bill, since, while it outlines Pentagon policy, it doesn’t appropriate money. Democrats say the extra $38 billion provided through the overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund will let the Pentagon circumvent congressionally mandated budget caps. They demand a long-term deal to increase funding for defense and - a significant red flag - nondefense programs. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter also recommends that Obama veto the bill : “It attempts to evade the question of overall fiscal responsibility with the so-called OCO gimmick which is objectionable to me and to others in other agencies.” Once again, Senate Democrats could stop the bill, as they recently blocked a bill to fund military construction and veterans’ benefits, by preventing the 60 votes needed to bring the bill to the Senate floor. ~~~~~ Dear readers, it is unthinkable for Democrats to vote against military-readiness policy and veterans' benefits without incurring the wrath of American voters. But so far, they have escaped. It highlights the real GOP problem -- it needs a leader able to speak with authority on key issues. The maxi-field of 2016 candidates spews me-first views that the Democratic Party and its mainstream media cherrypick to back-attack and smother the GOP's voice on issues vital to America's future.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Saturday Politics...Hillary and her Emails

It's Saturday politics and here's an interesting emailbag question : What's the real possibility that Hillary escapes her felonious email activity? Will a Clinton-appointed judge pigeonhole her problems with some legal maneuver?" ~~~~~ Hillary leads in polls ranking Democratic 2016 candidates, but is behind key Republican candidates. She's also seen as the least trustworthy candidate and is described as a liar. The Clintons know they must end the email scandal. So, Bill is on TV telling America how honest Hillary is and what a good President she'd be, in the "aw shucks" style he masters, adding that he's been out of politics so long he doesn't know what's going on - like the fox doesn't know where the chicken coop is. ~~~~~ How dangerous was Hillary's use of a private email server? National Security Agency chief Admiral Mike Rogers told a Senate hearing last week it would be an “opportunity” for spy agencies if the foreign minister of Russia or Iran used a private email server for official business. Senator Tom Cotton said he wanted the NSA director’s “professional opinion," asking whether Rogers considered the communications of top presidential advisors, even if unclassified, a top priority for foreign spy agencies. “Yes,” Rogers said. ~~~~~ Hillary's email spin : (1) She used a private server because : “I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.” But, Clinton’s team admitted she had an iPad and BlackBerry as Secretary of State, both on her private email server. (2) Hillary said she gave her emails to the State Department because it "sent a letter to former secretaries of state, not just to me, asking for some assistance in providing any work-related emails that might be on the personal email.” In truth, department spokesman John Kirby said “in the process of responding to [the Congress Benghazi investigation], State Department officials realized they had access to relatively few email records from former Secretary Clinton.” So State contacted her “during the summer of 2014 to learn more about her email use and the status of emails in that account.” The department also noted missing emails from other secretaries and contacted them in October 2014. (3) Clinton said : “I provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related.” In June, her advisor Sidney Blumenthal gave Congress his Clinton emails, including many she hadn’t given to State. Last week, the Defense Department found emails Hillary sent to General Petraeus that she hadn't provided. Her team now says there's a two-month gap at the start of her tenure at State when she used her private email address but not her personal server. All emails from that period are missing. The Clinton team doesn't know where they are. (4) Clinton said : “It was my practice to communicate with State Department and other government officials on their .gov accounts so those emails would be automatically saved in the State Department system to meet record-keeping requirements." Yet, Clinton top aides chief of staff Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin had private email addresses Hillary routinely used. (5) Clinton said : “There is no classified material” on the private server. With the latest State Department email release, there are 400 Clinton emails containing classified information. (6) Clinton said the server “was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches.” The last State email release shows her server was attacked five times by hackers linked to Russia. Her server was also stored at a private data center accessible to people with no security clearance. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Judge Andrew Napolitano said recently : “...when she certified under oath, ‘under penalty of perjury,’ to a federal judge that she had surrendered all her emails to the State Department, in fact she had not.” Napolitano believes the FBI will recommend indicting Clinton over her email use at State. Federal judges have various legal philosophies, but they are honest and don't bend to pressures, even from Clintonland.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Better to Stand with Israel than Fly a Palestinian Flag

During the Crusades, 1095 to 1291, European Jews were in danger of being killed. There are documented accounts of Christians who tried to protect Jews from marauding Crusader groups attempting to kill them because some mideast Jews had fought to defend their towns, and Jerusalem, from the European armies. In the German city of Trier, the local bishop attempted to protect the Jews, but he was weak, and so as the Crusaders attacked, the bishop abandoned the Jews. He then gave them the choice of becoming Christians or being forced to leave town. Other German cities like Mainz had local burghers fight against the incoming Crusaders. Another German town, Cologne, hid all local Jews among their Christian neighbors. ~~~~~ More than 800 years later, Jews are still in danger. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, to plea yet again on behalf of the Jewish people, calling the nuclear deal with Iran a marriage of militant Islam and nuclear weapons. He described widespread international praise for it as a grave misjudgment : “I wish I could take comfort in the claim that this deal blocks Iran’s path to nuclear weapons. But I can’t, because it doesn’t.” Netanyahu didn't abandon his disagreement with the Obama administration now that the Iran nuclear agreement is finalized : "The vast majority of Israelis believe that this nuclear deal with Iran is a very bad deal. And what makes matters even worse is that we see a world celebrating this bad deal, rushing to embrace and do business with a regime openly committed to our destruction. Iran is setting up dozens of terror cells. Imagine what they will do after the sanctions are lifted.” Netanyahu answered his own question : “Unmuzzled,” Iran will “go on the prowl, devouring more and more prey,” he said, reminding the UN that Iran is spending billions on weapons and satellites. “Do you think Iran is doing that to advance peace?” he asked, responding to Obama’s claim that the Iran deal will ensure that their nuclear program is “peaceful.” Netanyahu rejects this argument, saying the agreement does nothing to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon : “When bad behavior is awarded, it only gets worse.” Netanyahu acknowledged that "well-intentioned people" believe the deal is the only way to block Iran’s path to the bomb. Yet, “the best intentions don’t prevent the worst outcomes." Netanyahu directly addressed the nations in attendance, challenging them : "If Iran’s rulers were working to destroy your countries, perhaps you’d be somewhat less enthusiastic about the deal. If Iran’s terror proxies were firing thousands of rockets at your cities, perhaps you’d be more measured in your praise. And yet the response from every one of you here, utter silence," he said. "Deafening silence.” After those remarks, Benjamin Netanyahu stood at the podium and glared at the delegates around the room for 45 seconds in silent condemnation of the UN, indeed condemnation of the world. ~~~~~ Dear readers, to emphasize the anti-Israeli character of the United Nations, the Palestinian flag was raised for the first time at UN headquarters on the same day that Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said it was a "proud day." Abbas warned that the PA no longer feels bound by agreements with Israel he claimed are "continually violated....we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements and Israel must assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power." Netanyahu's office said Abbas's speech was "deceitful and encourages incitement and lawlessness in the Middle East." The General Assembly passed a motion earlier this month to raise the Palestinian and Vatican flags. Israel voted against it, with the United States and six other countries, while 45 countries abstained. In 2012, the General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine's status to that of a "non-member observer state" - the same status the Vatican holds - only fitting since the Vatican just recognized the "state of Palestine." Far better to stand with Israel.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Syrian Moderate Rebels Once Again Caught in the Middle

Russia wasted no time asserting itself militarily in Syria. An hour after a Russian general appeared at the US Embassy in Baghdad yesterday, President Putin unleashed air strikes against Syrian targets. The question is whether the strikes hit the common enemy, ISIS, or a moderate rebel area supported by the US-led coalition, as the US and France say. Russia said it hit ISIS targets in response to an al-Assad request, an assertion rebuffed by America. The Russian defense ministry said it carried out 20 flights in Syria, hitting eight ISIS targets, and destroying an ISIS command post and an operations center in a mountainous area, according to Russian news agencies. But, Syrians in moderate rebel-held areas of Homs province said the Russian air force unleashed devastation on their towns, flying at high altitudes to drop silent bombs, killing 36 civilians, including children. Homs is crucial to al-Assad's control of western Syria because rebel control of Homs would bisect the Assad-held west, separating Damascus from the coastal cities of Latakia and Tartous, where Russia has a naval facility. Russian jets struck after the Russian parliament gave Putin unanimous backing for strikes, acting on a request for military assistance from al-Assad. The last time the Russian parliament gave Putin an okay to use military force abroad, required under Russian law, he seized Crimea from Ukraine, where Russia is still active militarily, so that a Russian presence in Syria could stretch resources. But, Putin says Russia's military involvement in the Middle East will involve only its air force and will be temporary...?? ~~~~~ Defense Secretary Carter said he has directed US military officials to meet with their Russian counterparts "as soon as possible" to discuss ways to make sure they don't come into conflict. Carter said : "It does appear that they were in areas where there probably were not ISIS forces, and that is precisely one of the problems with this whole approach." Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State Kerry said the meeting may occur this week. ~~~~~ The State Department said the Russian general in Baghdad also warned American aircraft engaged in daily bombings against ISIS positions to avoid Syrian airspace. Kerry said the warning was ignored and US air strikes continue. He added that if Russia is genuinely committed to fighting ISIS : "we are prepared to welcome those efforts and to find a way to deconflict our operations and thereby multiply the military pressure on ISIL and affiliated groups." ~~~~~ Russia's intervention turns the Syria conflict from a proxy war, with outside powers arming and training Syrians to fight each other, into an international conflict in which the world’s main military powers -- Russia, the US, its Arab allies, Turkey, France, Iran, Israel, and Britain if it gets parliamentary approval -- are directly involved in fighting - with no coordination. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to the US : 'I'm especially concerned because there has been no real effort by the Russian side to deconflict the Russian air strikes in Syria with the ongoing US-led coalition fighting in Syria." ~~~~~ Dear readers, nature abhors a vacuum, and the vacuum created by President Obama's posturing while Syria burned was finally filled by President Putin. Obama's speeches at the UN did nothing to change the course of events in Syria - and we can bet, soon in Iraq - because Putin knows Obama is all words and no action. In 2009, Obama challenged the Middle East to toss out the old elite leaders. The Arab Spring followed...Obama did nothing. The Moslem Brotherhood took over Egypt...nothing...the Egyptians finally acted. Al Qaida became ISIS...Obama did nothing. Libya collapsed...nothing. Al-Assad used chemical weapons...nothing. ISIS took northern weapons for the Kurds...only an air strike coalition. Henry Kissinger said : "To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything or nothing about it." My guess : Obama knows nothing about the Middle East or Putin.