the America Emperor

the President of the United States of America

  "Government of the people; by the elected officials and appointed bureaucrats; for the elected officials, appointed bureaucrats and special interest groups that helped them get into power!

    Michael Kaery

Romney screwed the gays just like Obama did!!!

Romeny like Obama promised to support gay rights, but screwed over the gays after he got their votes

Remember in this Presidential Election both Romeny and Obama will be promising to support gays. They are both liars. If you want change vote for the Libertarian guy!


As governor, Romney faced challenge on gay marriage

By Matea Gold and Melanie Mason, Washington Bureau

April 29, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Ten months into his term as Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney was abruptly confronted with an emotionally charged issue: The state's highest court ruled that gays had the legal right to marry, thrusting the state into the forefront of the same-sex marriage debate.

Romney, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, faced one of the biggest challenges of his four years in office. His response would alienate constituencies on both sides and contribute to criticisms that he shifted positions for political gain, a charge renewed in his two bids for the White House. At minimum, Romney's handling of the gay marriage ruling — laid out in interviews with key players and state documents — provides a window into his decision-making style and political tactics.

Romney had vowed while running in Massachusetts to defend and expand the rights of gays and lesbians, although he opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions. When the court ruled, he initially promised to follow its decision, while also seeking a state constitutional amendment to overturn it.

But soon he devoted his attention to trying to block the ruling. Among his moves: resurrecting a 90-year-old state law, aimed in part at preventing interracial marriage, to keep same-sex couples from flocking to Massachusetts for weddings.

The battle served to boost his national profile and conservative credentials in the years leading to his first presidential run in 2008.

To supporters, he emerged as a steadfast defender of traditional marriage. But critics and some onetime allies believe that Romney's national ambitions — and a resulting need to tack to the right — eventually drove the way he dealt with Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health.

"He needed issues that would help him pivot," said Rich Tafel, who founded the national gay rights group Log Cabin Republicans and advised Romney how to secure the state chapter's endorsement in his unsuccessful 1994 Senate bid.

Tafel watched with dismay as Romney used his opposition to the Goodridge ruling to appeal to conservative groups around the country. "I think he truly does oppose gay marriage, but the speed with which he jumped on and rode that issue struck me as political," he said.

Aides to Romney reject that judgment, saying that as governor he was motivated solely by his belief that marriage should remain between a man and a woman, and that the court was overstepping its bounds.

"His position remained constant from the very day that the decision was issued," said senior advisor Peter Flaherty, who was Romney's deputy chief of staff and helped craft the administration's response. "To say that it had to do with anything other than his performing his duties as governor of Massachusetts in compliance with the law and consistent with his executive role is baseless."

When it comes to gay marriage, Flaherty added, "I have never seen a change in tone, a change in approach, a change in purpose."

Romney sought office twice in Massachusetts — challenging Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 1994 and running for governor in 2002. Both times, he paired his opposition to gay marriage and civil unions with strong support for other gay rights. During the race against Kennedy, he told the Log Cabin Republicans that he would "provide more effective leadership than my opponent." He promised to co-sponsor a federal nondiscrimination act and support efforts to allow gays and lesbians to serve "openly and honestly" in the military.

"If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern," he wrote in an October 1994 letter. "My opponent cannot do this. I can and will."

In his 2002 campaign for governor, Romney declined to back a proposed state constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage because, he said, it would also have outlawed domestic partnership benefits. At one point, after his Democratic opponent said she would sign a bill legalizing gay marriage, Romney promised to make domestic partner benefits a "hallmark of my leadership as governor," the Boston Globe reported at the time.

Then came the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling in November 2003 that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry. In its 4-3 decision, the court gave the Legislature 180 days "to take such action as it may deem appropriate."

Opponents of same-sex marriage — citing a quirk in the state's colonial-era Constitution that gave the governor authority over matters related to marriage — argued that the court's decision was not binding and urged Romney to ignore it.

But Romney did not want to trigger a constitutional crisis — seeking, his advisor Flaherty said, to be "respectful of the law and respectful of people at the same time." Initially, he struck a balanced tone with his two-track move to find a legislative solution that would satisfy the court while corralling support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

"We certainly have to follow the law, and the Supreme Court has laid down what we must do," he said on NBC's"Today" show the day after the ruling. "But in my view, the right action is to follow two courses at the same time."

But the governor quickly dropped all talk about complying with the ruling. Behind the scenes, Romney advisors worked to come up with ways to head it off, according to those involved. They consulted conservative constitutional experts such as historian Matthew Spalding, who works closely with former Reagan Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III at the Heritage Foundation.

It was soon clear that Romney could not push a gay marriage ban through the state's liberal-leaning Legislature. So he helped persuade Republicans to support a compromise amendment that barred same-sex marriage but legalized civil unions.

It was a purely tactical move: The Supreme Judicial Court had already said that civil unions would not satisfy its ruling. But the Romney administration hoped to use the amendment — which required additional approval by the Legislature in 2005 and voters in 2006 — to persuade the court to postpone the start of gay marriages.

The maneuver failed when then-Atty. Gen. Thomas Reilly, a Democrat, declined to ask the court for a stay. Romney ultimately abandoned his support for the compromise measure, calling it "muddied," and endorsed a separate citizens' petition for an amendment to ban gay marriage. Still, some conservative activists criticized Romney for opening the door to civil unions.

"He was everywhere on this issue," said C.J. Doyle, executive director of Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, a group that worked to pass the marriage ban.

As the court's deadline neared, Romney tried another tactic: he seized upon a 1913 law that barred out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if the marriage would not be recognized in their home state.

The measure was originally drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws — a state-backed group of judges, lawyers and scholars who write model legislation — amid national anxiety about interracial marriage, then illegal in about half the country. The African American heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson had recently made headlines by marrying a white socialite from Brooklyn. Soon afterward, a federal amendment to ban miscegenation was introduced in Congress.

That same year, Massachusetts — which had legalized interracial marriage in 1843 — passed the conference's Uniform Marriage Evasion Act, a law crafted in part to keep people from skirting their home state bans on interracial marriage, said Joanna Grossman, a professor at Hofstra Law School who studies marriage regulations.

In 2003, the statute was still on the books, but had been largely forgotten until it was mentioned in a footnote in the Goodridge decision. Romney aides said there was little debate internally about the merits of using it to blunt the ruling's effects.

"We didn't think we were stretching the bounds of legal reasoning to apply it in this case — it was stated in the very decision that legalized gay marriage," Flaherty said.

In late April 2004, less than a month before gay marriages were set to begin, Romney announced that the state would begin checking the residency of all couples seeking marriage licenses.

"Massachusetts should not become the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage," he told the New York Times, a line he has repeated frequently on the campaign trail this year as he touts his efforts to stop gay marriage. "We do not intend to export our marriage confusion to the entire nation."

The administration sent town clerks a thick document detailing the marriage laws in 55 states and territories. Romney warned that those who accepted marriage applications that violated other states' laws would be subject to "appropriate enforcement action," which under Massachusetts law could include fines or jail time. (Some town clerks defied Romney, but none were punished.)

David J. Rushford, the Worcester town clerk, continued to grant licenses to out-of-state couples. He said Romney used "the power of an executive office to twist the spirit of the law and to intimidate those people whose job it is to carry out the law."

Four years later, Romney's Democratic successor, Gov. Deval Patrick, signed a bill repealing the 1913 statute, which he called discriminatory.

Allies believe Romney's ultimately unsuccessful efforts to stop gay marriages in Massachusetts were driven in part by a personal conviction shaped by his faith as a devout Mormon.

"It's not just a political issue — he stands for something he believes in, his wife believes in," said Kris Mineau, head of the conservative Massachusetts Family Institute, a group that worked closely with Romney on the citizens' amendment to ban gay marriage. (The measure failed in the Legislature after Romney left office.)

But the issue also gave Romney a national perch. For the first time, he began calling for a federal marriage amendment and testified before the Senate about the need to "protect our societal definition of marriage." His staff started conferring regularly with advisors in the White House and Romney became one ofPresident George W. Bush's main surrogates against his 2004 Democratic opponent, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.

A year later, as he prepared for his first White House bid, Romney touted his opposition to gay marriage when he addressed conservative audiences.

"From Day One, I've opposed the move for same-sex marriage and its equivalent, civil unions," he told South Carolina Republicans in 2005. Calling the ruling "a blow against the family," he said that some gay couples "are actually having children born to them."

Romney backed up his rhetoric with money, donating $10,000 from his political action committee to a 2006 campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in South Carolina. The same year, he directed tens of thousands of dollars from his personal family foundation to several conservative groups, including $10,000 to the Massachusetts Family Institute. Mineau said the funds helped defray the $500,000 the group spent on its petition drive for the constitutional amendment.

Romney did not return to his campaign promises of expanding protections for gays and lesbians.

"He didn't care about his constituents and their rights," said Julie Goodridge, one of the lead plaintiffs in the original court case, who sued after her partner was barred from her hospital room while she underwent emergency surgery. "He cared about his future as a presidential candidate."

CIA Interrogator say Obama is more brutal then Bush????

CIA Interrogator say Obama is more brutal then Bush????

I never supported Emperor Obama, but I was hoping things under him would be better then under Bush or war monger John McCain. But sadly Democrat Obama seems to be as much of a sadistic brutal war monger as Republicans Bush and John McCain.


Ex-CIA Interrogator: Obama's War on Terror Is Less Ethical Than Bush's

By John Hudson

The Atlantic Wire

Ex-CIA Interrogator: Obama's War on Terror Is Less Ethical Than Bush's

The former head of the CIA's Clandestine Service Jose Rodriguez says President Obama is waging the nation's war against radical Islam in a far more brutal manner than his predecessor President George W. Bush.

"We don't capture anybody any more," Rodriguez told 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl on Sunday. "Their default option of this Administration has been to ... take no prisoners ... How could it be more ethical to kill people rather than capture them? I never understood that one."

Those remarks by Rodriguez have been largely overshadowed by his more controversial defense of "enhanced interrogation techniques," which is laid out in his new book out today called Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives. But what was interesting to observe last night was the overlap in views by advocates of enhanced interrogation (a.k.a. torture) such as Rodriguez and opponents of such tactics, like your Glenn Greenwalds and Ron Pauls, who essentially agree on one important point: It's better to capture suspected terrorists and draw out information from them than assassinate them without due process.

The latest high-profile case to raise this issue was the assassination of American-born YouTube preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by Hellfire missiles fired from a drone in September. There wasn't a move to attempt to interview al-Awlaki, he was just blown to smithereens. And to many civil libertarians, that exercise of power against an American citizen is far more threatening than what we saw from the Bush administration. "How can anyone who vocally decried Bush’s mere eavesdropping and detention powers without judicial review possibly justify Obama’s executions without judicial review?" Greenwald wrote at the time. "How can the former (far more mild powers) have been such an assault on Everything We Stand For while the latter is a tolerable and acceptable assertion of war powers?"

It's a valid point and will likely continue to gain traction as Rodriguez launches his book tour. Clearly, however, it's not the focus of Rodriguez's spiel, which is a larger defense of enhanced interrogation. On that front, he's got more of an uphill battle. As Reuters reported Friday, Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats are about to end their almost three-year-long investigation of "enhanced interrogation" and will report that it had little success in eliciting intelligence. "One official said investigators found 'no evidence' such enhanced interrogations played 'any significant role' in the years-long intelligence operations which led to the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden last May by U.S. Navy SEALs," reported Mark Hosenball. While that report doesn't bode well for Rodriguez's case, neither did his vague pronouncement that the enhanced interrogation "saved lives." With the lack of specifics in his 60 Minutes interview, supporters of torture had probably better hope there's more in his book to make the case. See the interview that aired last night below:

Obama is using his war mongering skills to get reelected in 2012!!!

Sounds like Obama is using his war mongering skills to get reelected in 2012!!!

Since the US Constitution says that treaties have a higher priority then other laws Congress makes I suspect with Emperor Obama signing this treaty it will guarantee that the American Empire be in Afghanistan for many years to come.


Obama in Afghanistan to sign security pact

by Ben Feller - May. 1, 2012 01:35 PM

Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan -- President Barack Obama slipped into Afghanistan Tuesday night on the anniversary of the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and signed an agreement cementing U.S. commitment to the nation after American combat troops leave.

Alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama declared, "Together, we're now committed to replacing war with peace."

The partnership spells out the U.S. relationship with Afghanistan beyond 2014, covering security, economics and governance. The deal is limited in scope and essentially gives both sides political cover: Afghanistan is guaranteed its sovereignty and promised it won't be abandoned, while the U.S. gets to end its combat mission in the long and unpopular war but keep a foothold in the country.

The deal does not commit the United States to any specific troop presence or spending. But it does allow the U.S. to potentially keep troops in Afghanistan after the war ends for two specific purposes: continued training of Afghan forces and targeted operations against al-Qaida. The terror group is present in neighboring Pakistan but has only a nominal presence inside Afghanistan.

Obama was also to give a speech designed to reach Americans in the U.S. dinnertime hour of 7:30 p.m. EDT. It will be 4 a.m. here when Obama speaks.

He flew to the site of America's longest war not only as commander in chief but also as an incumbent president in the early stages of a tough re-election campaign. Nor were the two roles completely distinct.

His presence was a reminder that since taking office in 2009, Obama has ended the war in Iraq and moved to create an orderly end for the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan.

In the political realm, he and Vice President Joe Biden have marked the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's death by questioning whether Republican challenger Mitt Romney would have ordered the daring raid that penetrated the terrorist leader's Pakistan hide-out. Republicans are accusing the president of politicizing the event, and Romney is insisting that he would indeed have ordered U.S. forces into action.

At a signing ceremony in Kabul with Afghan President Karzai, Obama said the agreement paves the way for "'a future of peace" while allowing the United States to "wind down this war."

Karzai said his countrymen "will never forget" the help of U.S. forces over the past decade. He said the partnership agreement shows the United States and Afghanistan will continue to fight terrorism together.

Obama was greeted upon arrival at Bagram Air Field by Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. Obama then flew by helicopter to the presidential palace in Kabul, where he was to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and sign the strategic partnership.

Officials have previously said as many as 20,000 U.S. troops may remain after the combat mission ends, but that still must still be negotiated.

The United States does promise to seek money from Congress every year to support Afghanistan.

Obama was to be on the ground for about seven hours in Afghanistan, where the United States has been engaged in war for more than a decade following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The trip carries major symbolic significance for a president seeking a second term and allows him to showcase what the White House considers the fruit of Obama's refocused war effort: the demise of bin Laden.

Air Force One touched down late at night local time at Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base here.

Media traveling with Obama on the 13-plus-hour flight had to agree to keep it secret until Obama had safely finished a helicopter flight to the nation's capital, Kabul, where Taliban insurgents still launch lethal attacks.

Obama is joining Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the agreement that will broadly govern the U.S. role in Afghanistan after the American combat mission stops at the end of 2014 -- 13 years after it began.

The president's Tuesday night address was coming exactly one year after special forces, on his order, began the raid that led to the killing of bin Laden in Pakistan.

Since then, ties between the United States and Afghanistan have been tested anew by the burning of Muslim holy books at a U.S. base and the massacre of 17 civilians, including children, allegedly by an American soldier.

Obama's overarching message will be that the war is ending on his watch but the U.S. commitment to its ally is not.

Politics, too, set the tone for what the White House hoped would be a positive message and image for Obama: the commander in chief setting a framework to end the war while reassuring Afghanistan, on its soil, it will not be abandoned.

Aides said the anniversary of bin Laden's killing was not a focus of the trip. But they do not mind that Obama's mission will serve as a reminder, six months before Election Day.

More than 1,800 U.S. forces have been killed and 15,700 more have been wounded in Afghanistan.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined have cost almost $1.3 trillion. And public support for keeping troops in Afghanistan seems lower than ever.

Obama has gone twice before to Afghanistan as president, most recently in December 2010, and once to Iraq in 2009. All such trips, no matter how carefully planned, carry the weight and the risks of considerable security challenges. Just last month, the Taliban began near-simultaneous assaults on embassies, government buildings and NATO bases in Kabul.

Still, it would have been unusual for Obama to sign the "strategic partnership" agreement without Karzai at his side.

The deal is essential for locking in America's commitment and Afghan's sovereignty when the post-war period comes. Negotiations have dragged as Afghan officials have demanded specific assurances, financial and otherwise.

Both sides have scrambled to get a deal before the NATO conference in Chicago later this month. Negotiators seemed to clear the way for Obama and Karzai by finding agreement over the conduct of night raids and authority over detainees.

The president was to travel back from Kabul to the Bagram base to spend some time with troops.

He was then to give his speech in a straight-to-camera delivery reminiscent of an Oval Office address, before flying back to the U.S. He is expected back in Washington on Wednesday afternoon.

The United States has 88,000 troops in Afghanistan. An additional 40,000 in coalition forces remain from other nations.

Obama has already declared that NATO forces will hand over the lead combat role to Afghanistan in 2013 as the U.S. and its allies work to get out by the end of 2014.

One important unsettled issue, however, is how many U.S. troops may remain after that.

U.S. officials are eying a residual force of perhaps 20,000, many in support roles for the Afghan armed forces, and some U.S. special forces for counterterror missions. The size and scope of that U.S. force -- if one can be agreed upon on at all, given the public moods and political factors in both nations -- will probably have to be worked out later in a separate agreement.

Support for keeping American troops in Afghanistan is dropping all along the political spectrum, a new Pew Research poll says. And just 38 percent of people say the military effort is going well, down from 51 percent only a month ago.

Overall, polling shows, Obama gets favorable marks compared to Romney in handling terrorism, and the president's public approval for his handling of the Afghan war has hovered around 50 percent of late.

The trip allows Obama to hold forth as commander in chief in the same week he plans to launch his official campaign travel with rallies in Virginia and Ohio.

"We've spent the last three-and-a-half years cleaning up after other folks' messes," Obama said at a fundraiser last weekend. "The war in Iraq is over. We're transitioning in Afghanistan. Al-Qaida is on the ropes. We've done what we said we'd do."

Gun grabber Obama wants to export more weapons???

Gun grabber Obama wants to export more weapons???

I suspect this is just a phony political ploy to make the gun crowd think Obama is pro-gun. I suspect Obama will flip flop on this and continue his anti-gun presidency.


Obama plan would ease weapons export rules

By Sari Horwitz, Published: May 2

The Obama administration is crafting a proposal that could make it easier to export firearms and other weapons to certain countries in an effort to boost sales for U.S. companies, increase trade and improve national security, according to senior government officials.

The plan, which is part of President Obama’s overhaul of U.S. export rules, is being debated by several agencies and it could be months before a final rule is proposed, according to officials.

At least two federal agencies — the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department — have expressed concerns that the changes in the export rules could make it easier for drug cartels and terrorists to obtain weapons and make it harder to stop firearms trafficking.

Homeland Security raised its objections in an internal memo, saying that the proposed changes could hurt the ability of its agents “to prevent or deter the illegal export/transfer of lethal items such as advanced firearms to criminal groups, terrorist organizations or enemy combatants.”

But a senior official described the president’s Export Control Reform Initiative as “a work in progress” and said the concerns raised by Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies were being addressed.

“We are confident that the final outcome will represent the consensus of all agencies involved,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the process is ongoing.

A Homeland Security official Wednesday played down the agency’s memo, saying it was written months ago and “the portion of the draft rule over which DHS had expressed concerns has changed significantly.” He would not elaborate.

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Justice Department, declined to comment on the export rule proposal or his department’s concerns.

The proposed changes, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, would affect a range of items, including firearms and drones.

The president’s export control efforts are an attempt to reform a system that operates under 1970s-era rules and was designed to address the challenges of the Cold War period, according to an official familiar with the overhaul plans. The official also said that the proposal is an effort to improve national security by imposing controls on some exports but at the same time helping the nation’s allies.

Currently, two export control lists are administered by two departments, Commerce and State, under different statutory authorities with different requirements.

The State Department runs the U.S. Munitions List, which imposes tight restrictions on certain weapons, sales of which must be licensed. Under the proposed rules, some high-powered weapons, not including automatic or military weapons, could be moved from the Munitions List to a Commerce list, where they would be governed by fewer restrictions.

An official said it was not clear whether sales of weapons on the Commerce list also would need to be licensed.

“We’re still working through that,” said an administration official, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “Some items will require a license and some won’t.”

Several members of Congress said they are concerned about the changes in the export rules, which could relax the restrictions on high-powered firearms.

“These are serious issues that have been raised, and the White House will have to address them,” said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Lawrence Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents firearms manufacturers, said the current export control system is “broken and antiquated.”

“Our industry supports the White House Export Control Reform Initiative,” said Keane, who is a member of a committee that advises the State Department on export control issues. “We hope to see our products move from the U.S. Munitions List to the Commerce Department list.”

In new figures released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. manufacturers exported 242,000 firearms in 2010. Firearms exports were at their highest in 1993, when the figure was over 431,000. Imports of firearms climbed to 3.2 million last year, according to the ATF.

Obama playing the hawk and the dove to get reelected in 2012!!

Hypocrite Obama playing the hawk and the dove to get reelected in 2012!!!

Of course Obama isn't any more of a hypocrite and liar then other politicians. They will all lie and say anything they think will get them elected.


A Delicate New Balance on National Security


Published: May 2, 2012

WASHINGTON — One moment he boasts about taking out America’s No. 1 enemy, and the next he vows to bring home troops from an unpopular war. For President Obama, the days leading up to his re-election kickoff have been spent straddling the precarious line between hawk and dove, and possibly redefining his party for years to come.

For four decades, Democrats have been confounded by a deeply ingrained soft-on-security image that has hurt them at the ballot box. But in a country now tired of war yet still seeking to project strength, Mr. Obama is trying to reposition his party on national security, much as Bill Clinton did on economic and domestic policy in the 1990s, triangulating between two poles.

The blend, captured by an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Tuesday that ended in a nationally televised address, has frustrated critics on both left and right. Many in his party’s liberal base have grown disenchanted with Mr. Obama for tripling troop levels in Afghanistan, carrying over many of President George W. Bush’s counterterrorism policies and in some ways even expanding them. Many conservatives, on the other hand, argue that behind the raid that killed Osama bin Laden lies a fundamentally weak approach to rivals and rogue states like Iran, North Korea and Russia.

If it seems to some like the doctrine of having it both ways, it has scored well with a broad cross-section of the country, as measured by polls and focus groups. And Mr. Obama’s advisers have made clear in recent days that they believe he can play offense on national security as no other Democratic presidential candidate has since the Vietnam War.

“The post-9/11 paradigm that existed for several years, where you were either all in with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or you were not sufficiently hawkish, I think no longer applies,” said Benjamin Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to the president. “He’s demonstrated that you can end those wars while actually more effectively targeting our enemy.”

Republicans see it as more calculation than conviction, more about winning an election than making America safe. “He’s in an odd position, sort of betwixt and between, and he can’t really figure out which way he wants to go,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican member of the Armed Services Committee and chairman of his party’s Senate campaign committee.

Of course, the innovations of drone warfare make it easier for a president to be tough at little cost to Americans, or to his political standing. Mr. Cornyn said that Mr. Obama denounced harsh interrogation techniques but evinced no hesitation about killing suspected terrorists — even an American citizen — from the skies. “It looks kind of superficial to me,” he said, “and looks expedient.”

Mr. Obama has long expressed a complicated view of national security that did not neatly fit into old boxes, but it was initially obscured by his strong opposition to the Iraq war. As a candidate in 2007 and 2008, he cited that stance as his central argument against his rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Less widely noticed was his attempt to balance that with vows to send more troops to Afghanistan and unilaterally strike inside Pakistan if necessary to capture or kill Bin Laden. At the time, many analysts thought those positions were more about avoiding the historical trap that past antiwar Democrats had fallen into. But four years later, Mr. Obama has presided over a national security policy that has married elements of both parties.

“What you’re seeing is carrying out a very well thought-out and very effective foreign policy — more than anything it’s pragmatic and practical,” said Representative Adam Smith of Washington, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. “He has done exactly what he said he was going to do.”

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last month showed that Mr. Obama had neutralized the traditional Republican advantage on national security. Fifty-nine percent expressed confidence in Mr. Obama’s ability to be an effective commander in chief, slightly more than the 56 percent who had confidence in that area in Mitt Romney, the putative Republican nominee.

“I think it has worked politically, but it is the type of thing that stops working the day after the election,” said Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University professor who worked on Mr. Bush’s national security staff. “If the policies are unwise, and I think they are at least fraught if not unwise, then those chickens come home to roost eventually.”

Politically, at least, Republicans in recent days struggled to come up with an effective counterpunch. They complained that Mr. Obama was politicizing national security when his campaign released a video last week hailing the Bin Laden raid. But if the video struck some as unseemly, including some in the White House who worried it was undignified, it kept the conversation focused for days on what the Obama team wanted to focus on.

As late as Tuesday night, former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Fox News that Mr. Obama’s order launching the raid was not “a tough decision,” and that it “would just be dumbfounding” to decide otherwise. Democrats on Wednesday gleefully circulated a newspaper article reporting that Mr. Rumsfeld once pulled the plug on a raid to capture top Qaeda figures because it was too risky.

After initially saying that Mr. Obama was exploiting the raid, Mr. Romney and other Republicans pivoted by Wednesday to a more measured reaction to the president’s trip to Afghanistan. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, told a home-state radio station that “the only qualms I have about anything the president said is emphasizing to our enemies exactly what our next military move is, or the lack of a military move.” Mr. Obama, he said, is “misleading the American people” if he leaves the impression that the war on terrorism is over.

Mr. Obama, who campaigned on Sunday with Mr. Clinton, seems to be following his Democratic predecessor’s playbook. After a generation of Democrats alienating voters with liberal domestic positions, Mr. Clinton moved the party toward the center on issues like trade, welfare and deficit spending.

Recent focus groups conducted by Third Way, a Democratic-leaning group dedicated to that shift, found some success for Mr. Obama in doing the same for national security. “His brand on security has been very, very strong, and there’s no doubt that has been a radical shift in the way people think about Democratic presidents,” said Matt Bennett, the group’s senior vice president.

But it was limited to Mr. Obama. When it came to Democrats generally, Mr. Bennett said: “We heard the same thing we heard in ‘08: they’re weak, indecisive, afraid to use force. It just isn’t enough to completely change the brand. I think he’s done everything he can possibly do. It’s not his fault. It’s just it can’t be fixed in one term.”

Michelle Obama's Expensive Fashion Rivals That Of Ann Romney

Personally I don't have anything against rich people, like many of the socialists and lefties that are members of the Democratic party. Nor do I have anything against rich government rulers. Although I do have a problem with government tyrants who are rich or poor.

But I thought Emperor Obama was trying to portray himself as a member of the 99 percent rather then a member of the rich 1 percent?

And of course this article seems to says that Emperor Obama and his wife Michelle Obama are members of the rich top 1 percent!


Michelle Obama's Expensive Fashion Rivals That Of Ann Romney

By Mary Bruce | ABC OTUS News – 2 hrs 19 mins ago

While the political fashionistas had a field day this week with Ann Romney's nearly $1,000 blouse, she is not the only presidential candidate's wife with expensive taste. Despite her penchant for more affordable clothing, First Lady Michelle Obama also has a pricey wardrobe.

From Balenciaga and Helmut Lang to Michael Kors and Marchesa, the first lady has been known to wear some big name, and expensive, designer fashions. Last week alone, Mrs. Obama was spotted in two different L'Wren Scott cardigans, priced between $2,000 and $3,000.

Last Thursday, Mrs. Obama wore the designer's peach embroidered cardigan to a Take Your Child to Work Day event at the White House. The very next day she wore another, similar version in white with red embellishment to greet troops at Fort Stewart, in Georgia, with the president.

It should be noted, however, that Mrs. Obama is also well-known for boosting sales at the more affordable J. Crew and has been seen shopping at the discount store Target.

Mrs. Romney's decision to wear Reed Krakoff's silk bird-printed design on morning television raised eyebrows earlier this week. The blouse retails for $990. With the state of the economy a key campaign theme for their husbands, both women's fashion choices will likely be heavily scrutinized in the run-up to election day.

Mrs. Obama is familiar with the public tweaking for her pricey choices. During her Hawaiian vacation last December, the first lady was spotted wearing an almost $2,000 sundress by designer Sophie Theallet to church on Christmas day. Later, she allegedly donned a $950 Comme des Garcons skirt for a visit with troops and their families.

Obama - Vote for me and I will give you lots of free stuff!!!!


Obama - Vote for me and I will give you lots of free stuff!!!!

From Obama's reelection web site which is titled

"The Life of Julia"
and is at this URL:
Of course Obama forgot to say that he stole his socialist Obamacare welfare system from Mitt Romney's Massachusetts welfare plan. Romney doesn't like the plan either because it makes him look like the same socialist Obama is.

And Obama forgot to say that he also has a corporate welfare program for multimillion dollar defense corporations just like Mitt Romney does. If you are a defense contractor Obama will give you millions and perhaps even billions to help the American Empire murder women and children in Afghanistan, Iraq and other third world countries we invade.

And probably most important Obama forget to say that President's don't make up the laws like this web site claims. Presidents only sign or veto laws that CONGRESS passes. So President Obama is lying when he says he is going to give us all these socialistic programs if he gets elected.

Here is the stuff from Obama's "The Life of Julia" reelection web page, minus all the cute drawings.

Take a look at how President Obama's policies help one woman over her lifetime—and how Mitt Romney would change her story.

Under President Obama: Julia is enrolled in a Head Start program to help get her ready for school. Because of steps President Obama has taken to improve programs like this one, Julia joins thousands of students across the country who will start kindergarten ready to learn and succeed.

Under Mitt Romney: The Romney/Ryan budget could cut programs like Head Start by 20%, meaning the program would offer 200,000 fewer slots per year.

Under President Obama: Julia takes the SAT and is on track to start her college applications. Her high school is part of the Race to the Top program, implemented by President Obama. Their new college- and career-ready standards mean Julia can take the classes she needs to do well.

Under Mitt Romney: The Romney/Ryan budget would cut funding for public education to pay for tax cuts for millionaires.

Under President Obama: As she prepares for her first semester of college, Julia and her family qualify for President Obama's American Opportunity Tax Credit—worth up to $10,000 over four years. Julia is also one of millions of students who receive a Pell Grant to help put a college education within reach.

Under Mitt Romney: The American Opportunity Tax Credit would be allowed to expire, and Pell Grant funding would be slashed for 10 million students.

Under President Obama: During college, Julia undergoes surgery. It is thankfully covered by her insurance due to a provision in health care reform that lets her stay on her parents' coverage until she turns 26.

Under Mitt Romney: Health care reform would be repealed—Romney says he'd "kill it dead."

Under President Obama: Because of steps like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Julia is one of millions of women across the country who knows she'll always be able to stand up for her right to equal pay. She starts her career as a web designer.

Under Mitt Romney: He has refused to say whether he would have vetoed or signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Under President Obama: After graduation, Julia's federal student loans are more manageable since President Obama capped income-based federal student loan payments and kept interest rates low. She makes her payments on time every month, keeping her on track to repay her student loans.

Under Mitt Romney: Under the Romney/Ryan budget, interest rates on federal student loans would be allowed to double, affecting Julia and 7.4 million other students.

Under President Obama: For the past four years, Julia has worked full-time as a web designer. Thanks to Obamacare, her health insurance is required to cover birth control and preventive care, letting Julia focus on her work rather than worry about her health.

Under Mitt Romney: Romney supports the Blunt Amendment—which would place Julia's health care decisions in the hands of her employer—and repealing health care reform so insurance companies could go back to charging women 50% more than men.

Under President Obama: Julia decides to have a child. Throughout her pregnancy, she benefits from maternal checkups, prenatal care, and free screenings under health care reform.

Under Mitt Romney: Health care reform would be repealed.

Under President Obama: Julia's son Zachary starts kindergarten. The public schools in their neighborhood have better facilities and great teachers because of President Obama's investments in education and programs like Race to the Top.

Under Mitt Romney: The Romney/Ryan budget could force steep cuts in federal funding for schools in all 50 states.

Under President Obama: Julia starts her own web business. She qualifies for a Small Business Administration loan, giving her the money she needs to invest in her business. President Obama's tax cuts for small businesses like Julia's help her to get started. She's able to hire employees, creating new jobs in her town and helping to grow the local economy.

Under Mitt Romney: The Romney/Ryan budget could cut programs like the Small Business Administration by 20%.

Under President Obama: Julia enrolls in Medicare, helping her to afford preventive care and the prescription drugs she needs.

Under Mitt Romney: Medicare could end as we know it, leaving Julia with nothing but a voucher to buy insurance coverage, which means $6,350 extra per year for a similar plan.

Under President Obama: Julia retires. After years of contributing to Social Security, she receives monthly benefits that help her retire comfortably, without worrying that she'll run out of savings. This allows her to volunteer at a community garden.

Under Mitt Romney: Julia's benefits could be cut by 40%.

Obama ad strikes ‘don’t blame me’ tone on economy

Obama - If it's good I want credit, if it's bad, don't blame me!!!!

Obama is a typical lying politician.

Anything good that happens is a result of his administration, while anything bad that happens is because of the previous administration.

Of course Obama forgot to mention that his administration's trillion dollar bailout, or better said trillion dollar corporate welfare program for Wall Street and the auto industry was a dismal failure at fixing the economy.


New Obama ad strikes ‘don’t blame me’ tone on economy

By Olivier Knox

The Ticket

President Barack Obama's campaign released a new ad on Monday that takes aim squarely at his greatest vulnerability: the sour economy. The ad emphasizes that the president inherited the financial disaster when he took office and insists that, thanks to his policies, "we're coming back."

The minute-long message, dubbed "Go," will air in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, Florida and Colorado—all seen as battleground states in the November election.

The ad opens with "2008: An economic meltdown" and highlights spiking unemployment rates, foreclosures, plummeting stocks and then emphasizes that they came "all before this president took the oath." The video goes on to talk about Obama's decision to champion the automobile industry bailout opposed by Mitt Romney. It then takes viewers on a foreign policy detour, showcasing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden with what appears to be night-vision footage of a military operation, as the narrator boasts of "our greatest enemy brought to justice by our greatest heroes." It also touches on the troop withdrawal from Iraq, then pivots back to the economy.

"Instead of losing jobs, we're creating them. Over 4.2 million so far," it says, before acknowledging that "we're not there yet … it's still too hard for too many." But "we're coming back."

The ad is notable in part for what it doesn't show: Romney never appears, and opposition to Obama is reduced to a few images of tea party rallies, including one shot of a demonstrator in colonial garb with a "Shut 'Er Down" sign. Obama's two signature domestic policy achievements, his health care overhaul and the Dodd-Frank rewrite of Wall Street rules, are missing, as is the $800 billion stimulus package he championed as necessary to revive the economy.

The ad drew a quick response from the Romney campaign, with spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg charging that Obama's policies "have wreaked havoc on the middle class."

"After a doubling of gas prices, declining incomes, millions of foreclosures, and record levels of unemployment, Americans know they're not better off than they were four years ago," Henneberg said in an emailed statement. "Mitt Romney's pro-growth agenda will get America back on track and stop the middle-class squeeze of the Obama economy."

And the Republican National Committee seized on Obama's strategic insistence that he inherited this troubled economy. "President Obama spends a lot of time looking backward and blaming others for the state of the American economy," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who charged that "Obama may want you to forget he's been president for the past three and a half years."

Recent polls have shown that many Americans think the economy is still in recession, and that more people have confidence in Romney than in Obama when it comes to spurring growth. The economy tops the list of issues most on voters' minds. At his first major rallies of the 2012 campaign, the president explicitly sought to steer the debate over the weekend away from the classic political question "are you better off than you were four years ago?" and asked Americans to "keep believing in me."

President Obama hates gays????

Obama hates gays like Bush and Mitt Romney??? But he doesn't want to admit it cuz it will cost him a few vote???


Obama is drawing scrutiny for vague gay-nuptial stand

by Julie Pace - May. 7, 2012 11:12 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's election-year vagueness on gay marriage is coming under fresh scrutiny.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan broke ranks with the White House on Monday, stating his unequivocal support for same-sex marriage one day after Vice President Joe Biden suggested that he supported gay marriage, as well.

Obama aides worked to manage any political fallout. They said the back-to-back remarks by two top administration officials represented personal viewpoints and were not part of a coordinated effort to lay groundwork for a shift in the president's position.

The aides also tried to use the latest flare-up in the gay-marriage debate to shine a light on GOP rival Mitt Romney's history of equivocating on some gay-rights issues, an attempt to turn a potential political problem into an opportunity.

Obama, who supports most gay rights, has stopped short of backing gay marriage. Without clarification, he has said for the past year and a half that his personal views on the matter are "evolving."

The White House held firm on Monday to that position, which polls indicate puts the president increasingly at odds with his party and the majority of Americans on gay marriage. But with Biden's and Duncan's comments reinvigorating the debate, Obama is likely to face renewed pressure to clarify his views ahead of the November election.

Throughout his first term, he has sought to walk a fine line on same-sex marriage. He is trying to satisfy rank-and-file Democrats by supporting a range of gay-rights issues without alienating crucial independent voters who could be turned off by the emotional social issue.

The president's aides acknowledge that his position can be confusing.

In states where gay marriage already is legal, the president says married gay couples should have the same rights as married straight couples. But he does not publicly support the right of gay couples to marry in the first place.

Duncan, a longtime friend of the president as well as a member of his Cabinet, made clear Monday that his position on gay marriage is not in lockstep with the White House. Asked in a television interview whether he believes gay couples should legally be allowed to marry, Duncan said simply, "Yes, I do."

His comments followed Biden's assertion Sunday that he was "absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties."

Obama aides said Duncan was speaking about his personal views on the issue and was not under orders from the White House or the campaign to take the president's position.

As for Biden, White House and campaign officials said the vice president's remarks were no different from what he and Obama have said in the past.

"They were entirely consistent with the president's position, which is that couples who are married, whether they are gay or heterosexual, couples are entitled to the very same rights and very same liberties," said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the Obama campaign.

The latest political dustup over gay marriage came just before North Carolina voters were to weigh in on a ballot initiative that would ban gay marriage in that state.

Obama opposes the ban, as does former President Bill Clinton, who has recorded automated phone calls ahead of the vote. Obama was heading on Tuesday for Albany, N.Y., where lawmakers voted last year to approve gay marriage in that state.

Romney favors a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Obama - I love gay marriages!!!

Obama will say anything to get your vote!!!!

Haven't we heard this before. Obama said he supported gay during his run for President in 2008. And after Obama got elected in 2008 he sold the gay folks out.

Obama also sold out the the anti-war folks that he claimed to support in 2008.

And Obama sold out the people who want to legalize marijuana whom he claimed to support in 2008.

Let's fact it Obama will say anything to get re-elected.


President Obama: Gay marriage 'should be legal'

by Julie Pace - May. 9, 2012 02:34 AM

Associated Press

Equivocal no longer, President Barack Obama declared his support for gay marriage on Wednesday in a historic announcement that instantly elevated a polarizing social issue to a more prominent role in the 2012 race for the White House.

The announcement was the first by a sitting president, and Obama's Republican rival, Mitt Romney, swiftly disagreed with it. "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman," Romney said from Oklahoma.

Gay rights advocates cheered Obama's declaration, which they had long urged him to make. Joe Solomonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said it "extends that message of hope" to gays and lesbians.

Obama announced his shift -- he had said for years that his views on gay marriage were "evolving" -- in an interview with ABC in which he cited a blend of the personal and the presidential. [Yea, sure - evolving is political double talk for I will say anything to get elected!!!]

He said "it wouldn't dawn" on his daughters, Sasha and Malia, that some of their friends' parents would be treated differently than others, and added that he had thought of aides "who are in incredibly committed monogamous same-sex relationships who are raising kids together."

He added he had also thought about "those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf, and yet feel constrained even though now that 'don't ask, don't tell' is gone because they're not able to commit themselves in a marriage."

The president's decision to address the issue came on the heels of a pair of events that underscored the sensitivity of the issue.

Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview on Sunday that he is completely comfortable with gays marrying, a pronouncement that instantly raised the profile of the issue. White House aides insisted the vice president hadn't said anything particularly newsworthy, but gay rights groups cited Biden's comments in urging the president to announce his support. [I suspect Biden's comments were a timed political ploy, and planned to be said before Obama's change of heart, all for political purposes]

On Tuesday, voters in North Carolina -- a potential battleground in the fall election -- approved an amendment to the state constitution affirming that marriage may only be a union of a man and a woman.

While the nation appears roughly divided on the issue, the political cross-currents are tricky.

Some top aides argued that gay marriage is toxic at the ballot box in competitive states like North Carolina and Virginia because, as Tuesday's vote demonstrated, the issue remains a reliable way to fire up rank-and-file Republicans. It also could open Obama up to Republican criticism that he is taking his eye off the economy, voters' No. 1 issue.

Other Democratic supporters claim Obama's decision could energize huge swaths of the party, including young people. He also could appeal to independent voters, many of whom back gay marriage, and he could create an area of clear contrast between himself and his Republican rival as he argues that he's delivered on the change he promised four years ago.

Obama touched on that in the interview.

He said he sometimes talks with college Republicans on his visits to campuses, and while they oppose his policies on the economy and foreign policy, "when it comes to same sex equality, or, you know, sexual orientation, that they believe in equality. They are more comfortable with it."

On Tuesday, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, told Obama to "man up" and take a position on gay marriage. The president had already supported a number of initiatives backed by gays, including an end to "don't ask, don't tell," and decided not to defend in court a federal law that was designed as an alternative to gay marriage.

Maggie Gallagher, co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage and a leading supporter of the constitutional amendment approved in North Carolina on Tuesday, said she welcomed Obama's announcement at the same time she disagreed with it.

"Politically, we welcome this," she said. "We think it's a huge mistake. President Obama is choosing the money over the voters the day after 61 percent of North Carolinians in a key swing state demonstrated they oppose gay marriage."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi instantly sought political gain from the president's announcement. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued an email in her name that asked recipients to "stand with President Obama." Such requests are often followed by future requests for campaign donations.

In the interview, Obama said, "I have hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient." He added, "I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word 'marriage' was something that invokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth." [Translation - I want it both ways! I want to support civil unions because it will get me the vote of people that support gays. I also am against gay marriage because it will get me the vote of the folks that hate gays!]

Now, he said, "it is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married."

Obama said first lady Michelle Obama also was involved in his decision and joins him in supporting gay marriage.

"In the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people," he said. [Well, not really. He just wants to get re-elected in 2012!]

Acknowledging that his support for same-sex marriage may rankle religious conservatives, Obama said he thinks about his faith in part through the prism of the Golden Rule -- treating others the way you would want to be treated.

"That's what we try to impart to our kids and that's what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I'll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I'll be as president," Obama said.

Romney has not generally raised the issue in his campaign. He said earlier Wednesday that "I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name. My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate but that the others are not."

Public opinion on gay marriage has shifted in recent years, with most polls now finding the public evenly split, rather than opposed.

A Gallup poll released this week found 50 percent of all adults in favor of legal recognition of same-sex marriages, marking the second time that poll has found support for legal gay marriage at 50 percent or higher. Majorities of Democrats (65 percent) and independents (57 percent) supported such recognition, while most Republicans (74 percent) said same sex marriages should not be legal.

Six states -- all in the Northeast except Iowa -- and the District of Columbia allow same sex marriages. In addition, two other states have laws that are not yet in effect and may be subject to referendums.

Poll on Obama's flip flop on gay marriage

Here is an interesting poll I took on Obama's flip flop on gay marriage. When I took the poll it was about 2 days old and about 20,000 people had responded to it.
Do you think President Obama's position on same-sex marriage is based on campaign politics or personal conviction?
Campaign politics 71%
President Barak Obama is against gay marriage - sounds like it!!!
President Barak Obama is against gay marriage - sounds like it!!!
Personal conviction 29%

Around world, Obama's first term discouraging

In the Arizona Republic this article was titled "Around world, Obama's first term discouraging"


Disappointment aside, Europe's backing Obama

He didn't deliver on his potential, but the bad memories of the Bush years linger abroad.

May 13, 2012

By Don Melvin and Rod McGuirk

Associated Press

In Europe, where more than 200,000 people thronged a Berlin rally in 2008 to hear Barack Obama speak, there's disappointment that he hasn't kept his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, and perceptions that he's shunting blame for the financial crisis across the Atlantic.

In Mogadishu, a former teacher wishes the president had sent more economic assistance and fewer armed drones to fix Somalia's problems. And many in the Middle East wonder what became of Obama's vow, in a landmark 2009 speech at the University of Cairo, to forge a closer relationship with the Muslim world. Story continues below.

In a world weary of war and economic crises, and concerned about global climate change, the consensus is that Obama has not lived up to the lofty expectations that surrounded his 2008 election and Nobel Peace Prize a year later. Many in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America were also taken aback by his support for gay marriage, a taboo subject among religious conservatives.

But the Democrat still enjoys broad international support. In large part, it's because of unfavorable memories of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, and many people would still prefer Obama over his presumptive Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

"We all had high hopes for him," said Filomena Cunha, an office worker in Lisbon, Portugal, who said she was struggling to make ends meet. "But then things got bad, and there's not much he can do for us over here."

Obama's rock-star-like reception at Berlin's Victory Column in summer 2008 was a high point of a wildly successful European campaign tour. The thawing of harsh anti-Americanism that had thrived in Europe was as much a reaction to the Bush years as it was an embracing of the presidential hopeful.

Those high European expectations have turned into disappointment, largely because of the continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Obama's failure to close Guantanamo Bay in the face of congressional opposition.

Foreign policy expert Josef Braml, who analyzes the United States for the German Council on Foreign Relations, said many Germans give Obama too much of the blame because they don't understand the limits of his powers.

"There's a lack of understanding both of how the system of checks and balances works - or doesn't work any longer - and a lack of understanding of how big the socioeconomic problems in the United States are which cause the gridlock," Braml said in a telephone call.

Mehmet Yegin, a specialist in Turkish-American relations at USAK, the International Strategic Research Organization in Ankara, said Europe still saw Obama as superior to Romney, "because they primarily evaluate Romney as a Republican and their memories about George W. Bush linger."

Many in the Mideast also would like to see Obama win a second term, though they feel he has not lived up to his Cairo speech, in which he extended a hand to the Islamic world by calling for an end to the cycle of suspicion and discord.

Obama has been the U.S. president "least involved in the Palestinian issue," said Mohammed Ishtayeh, an aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Emperor Obama escalates clandestine war in Yemen


U.S. escalates clandestine war in Yemen

May 16, 2012 | 5:15 pm

WASHINGTON -- In an escalation of America’s clandestine war in Yemen, a small contingent of U.S. troops is providing targeting data for Yemeni airstrikes as government forces battle to dislodge Al Qaeda militants and other insurgents in the country’s restive south, U.S. and Yemeni officials said.

Operating from a Yemeni base, at least 20 U.S. special operations troops have used satellite imagery, drone video, eavesdropping systems and other technical means to help pinpoint targets for an offensive that intensified this week, said U.S. and Yemeni officials who asked not to be identified talking about the sensitive operation.

The U.S. forces also advised Yemeni military commanders on where and when to deploy their troops, two senior Obama administration officials said. The U.S. contingent is expected to grow, a senior military official said.

The Obama administration’s direct military role in Yemen is more extensive than previously reported and represents a deepening involvement in the nation’s growing conflict.

The military and CIA are coordinating a separate but related campaign of airstrikes against members of the group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which U.S. intelligence officials say poses the greatest threat to America. The Yemen-based group was implicated this month in a failed effort to put a suicide bomber on a U.S.-bound airliner, the latest of several failed bombing attempts.

John Brennan, White House counter-terrorism advisor, flew to Yemen last weekend to meet its new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The administration considers Hadi, who took office in February, an ally and is seeking to support a political transition toward democracy.

U.S. officials remain wary of being drawn into Yemen’s factional political struggles, but they expressed confidence in Hadi.

"There are ways of checking their homework," a senior defense official said of the Yemeni government. "They’ve been trusted partners."

In a show of support for Hadi’s government, President Obama issued an executive order Wednesday giving the Treasury Department authority to freeze U.S. assets of those who "threaten the peace, security and stability" of Yemen. The order, which does not name any individual, is meant to discourage political meddling by those still loyal to the nation’s former dictator, officials said.

U.S. special operations troops were withdrawn from Yemen last year amid the violent protests that toppled Hadi’s predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh, but Pentagon officials disclosed last week that they had returned. The officials described the deployment as a limited training mission for Yemeni security units fighting Al Qaeda, similar to past efforts.

Once the U.S. forces arrived, however, Hadi was more willing than Saleh to let the Americans work directly with Yemeni military forces outside the capital, Sana, officials said.

The current military offensive coincides with an increase in U.S. military and CIA airstrikes against Al Qaeda leaders in Yemen. They have relied, in part, on intelligence gathered by CIA operatives and contractors in the contested tribal areas, according to a U.S. source with knowledge of the secret operation.

At least 18 U.S. military and drone strikes have been reported against targets inside Yemen since early March, including three in the last week, an upsurge from previous months. U.S. forces have conducted a total of 35 such airstrikes since 2009, according to Long War Journal, a website that tracks the attacks.

Although it has drawn far less attention, the U.S. counter- terrorism effort in Yemen has become broader than the decade-old pursuit of Al Qaeda in Pakistan. The CIA has launched hundreds of deadly drone strikes against militants there, but Pakistan’s government has not permitted the U.S. military to conduct or coordinate operations on its territory.

The White House insisted Wednesday that the U.S. military role in Yemen is limited in scope and will not drag the U.S. into a broader conflict.

"We’re pursuing a focused counter-terrorism campaign in Yemen designed to prevent and deter terrorist plots that directly threaten U.S. interests at home and abroad," said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council. "We have not, and will not, get involved in a broader counterinsurgency effort. That would not serve our long-term interests and runs counter to the desires of the Yemeni government and its people."

About 20,000 Yemeni government troops supported by warplanes continued to attack Al Qaeda positions in southern Yemen on Wednesday, killing at least 29 militants, the Associated Press and other news agencies reported, citing Yemeni military officials.

The AP’s Yemen correspondent first reported Tuesday that U.S. special operations forces were assisting Yemeni military forces, citing Yemeni military officials.

Last month, the White House approved broader targeting guidelines for CIA and military airstrikes in Yemen. U.S. airstrikes may now target militants whose names are not known but who have been deemed a threat to U.S. interests.

Obama said in 2010 that he had "no intention of sending U.S. boots on the ground" to Yemen. But Army Gen. David Petraeus, now head of the CIA, offered to secretly put U.S. special operations troops in the country, leaked State Department cables show. Then-President Saleh rebuffed his proposal, the cables show.

Obama later authorized a small team of special operations trainers to help Yemeni forces take on Al Qaeda. Based mainly in the capital, those trainers were withdrawn last year but apparently began to filter back early this year.

On March 1, Al Qaeda claimed to have assassinated a CIA officer in southern Yemen. The Pentagon disputed that, but it acknowledged that gunmen opened fire on a "U.S. security training team."

Teams of CIA officers and U.S. contractors have operated in Yemen for some time, hunting Al Qaeda militants and developing intelligence for drone strikes, according to a source with knowledge of the operation. They have recruited tribal militants to provide security, the source said.

U.S. officials declined to comment on that account.

"We do conduct operations with the Yemenis to get after terrorist targets," Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said this week. "We’re not going to go into the details of that."

President Obama - a pot smoking hypocrite!!!!!

Obama’s high school pot-smoking detailed in Maraniss book

More of the old "Do as I say, not as I do" from our government masters.

Of course now former pot smoker Obama is allowing his jackbooted DEA thugs to arrest harmless pot smokers and pot growers. What a hypocrite.


Obama’s high school pot-smoking detailed in Maraniss book

By Olivier Knox | The Ticket

Bill Clinton he was not. When it came to smoking pot, the teenage Barack Obama had rules. You had to embrace "total absorption" or face a penalty. When you smoked in the car, "the windows had to be rolled up." And he could horn his way in, calling out "Intercepted!" and grab the joint out of turn.

Best-selling author David Maraniss' "Barack Obama: The Story" describes the future president's teenage antics, notably his copious marijuana smoking, details of which were published early Friday by Buzzfeed. While the book won't be released until June 19, vast sections of it were already available Friday on Google Books.

Starting on page 293, the reader begins to get the dope on high school-age Obama's group of basketball- and fun-loving buds, who dubbed themselves the "Choom Gang," from a verb meaning "to smoke marijuana."

"As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called 'TA,' short for 'total absorption.' To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton's claim that as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled," writes Maraniss, author of a biography of the 42nd president.

"When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang from marijuana, meaning "numbing tobacco") instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around. "'Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated,' explained one member of the Choom Gang, Tom Topolinski, the Chinese-looking kid with a Polish name who answered to Topo."

Obama also made popular a pot-smoking practice that the future president and his pals called "roof hits." When they smoked in the car, they rolled up the windows, and "when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling," Maraniss writes.

Obama "also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted 'Intercepted' and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind," according to the text.

Maraniss details how the Choom Gang relaxed at a spot they called "Pumping Stations" partway up Mount Tantalus on Oahu.

"They parked single file on the grassy edge, turned up their stereos playing Aerosmith, Blue Öyster Cult, and Stevie Wonder, lit up some 'sweet-sticky Hawaiian buds,' and washed it down with 'green bottled beer' (the Choom Gang preferred Heineken, Beck's, and St. Pauli Girl)," according to Maraniss.

"No shouting, no violence, no fights; they even cleaned up their beer bottles. This was their haven, in the darkness high above the city and the pressures of Punahou," he writes.

They also operated by consensus (NATO-style!), with any member able to "veto" a suggestion. "Whenever an idea was broached, someone could hold up his hand in the V sign (a backward peace sign of that era) and indicate that the motion was not approved. They later shortened the process so that you could just shout 'V' to get the point across," says Maraniss.

Sure, they drove around in a VW bus nicknamed the "Choomwagon." And their dealer was a "freakin' scary" guy named Ray who met a grisly end. "Many years later they learned that he had been killed with a ball-peen hammer by a scorned gay lover." (On his yearbook page, Obama says "Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.")

But Maraniss also suggests that Obama, like, oh, everyone in the world, embellished his mischief.

"Later in life, looking back on those days, Obama made it sound as though he were hanging out with a group of misbegotten ne'er-do-wells, what he called the 'club of disaffection.' In fact, most members of the Choom Gang were decent students and athletes who went on to successful and productive lives as lawyers, writers, and businessmen," the author says.

Obama was a solid student, and adept at what some readers might know as "osmotic learning."

"He seemed nonchalant, yet performed well. How did he do it? He told his Choom Gang mates that the trick was if you put the textbook under your pillow the night before you would perform better on an exam. 'It never worked for me,' said Topolinski."

More on President Obama's pot smoking days

More on Emperor Obama's pot smoking days

I wonder how many kilos of weed the White House goes thru each week, while Emperor Obama has his jackbooted DEA thugs jail medical marijuana patients?


The Choom Gang: President Obama’s pot-smoking high school days detailed in Maraniss book

Posted by Natalie Jennings at 03:20 PM ET, 05/25/2012

Political blogs went to pot on Friday.

The Internet is buzzing after the Washingtonian published a review of Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss’s forthcoming book “Barack Obama: The Story,” including an excerpt about President Obama’s high school clique and their favorite pastime.

Let’s just say jobs weren’t the president’s first green initiative. The group of friends smoked marijuana frequently enough to nickname themselves the “Choom Gang.”

But enough of my bad weed puns. Here’s what other blogs are writing about the excerpts.

Yahoo: Bill Clinton he was not. (article)

BuzzFeed has a handy “User’s Guide To Smoking Pot With Barack Obama” compiled from excerpts in Maraniss’s book. (article)

Time’s post is titled the “Audacity of Dope.” (article)

And NPR has “Inhale to the chief” (article)

ABC’s Jonathan Karl reminds us Obama has previously written about his drug use:

In his 1995 memoir “Dreams of My Father,” Obama writes about smoking pot almost like Dr. Seuss wrote about eating green eggs and ham. As a high school kid, Obama wrote, he would smoke “in a white classmate’s sparkling new van,” he would smoke “in the dorm room of some brother” and he would smoke “on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids.”

He would smoke it here and there. He would smoke it anywhere.

Conservative outlets are especially having fun with the new fodder.

Hot Air writes, “Apparently, we elected Pauly Shore.” And Reason’s headline is Obama Still Bogarting Nation’s Joints, Man.”

Since you stuck around this long, here are a few of the high-interest excerpts from Maraniss’s book:

Maraniss notes that Obama spent a lot of time at the Punahou School in Hawaii with a “self-selected group of boys who loved basketball and good times and called themselves the Choom Gang. Choom is a verb, meaning “to smoke marijuana.”

“As a member of the Choom Gang,” Maraniss writes, “Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends.”

One of those was: “Total Absorption” or “TA”.

“TA was the opposite of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled,” explains Maraniss. If you exhaled prematurely when you were with the Choom Gang, “you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.”

One of Obama’s old friends at the school, Tom Topolinski, told Maraniss: “Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated.”

Obama helped popularized the concept of “roof hits,” as well, writes Maraniss.

“When they were chooming in a car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.”

Maraniss also says Obama was known for his “Interceptions”: “When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted ‘Intercepted!,’ and took an extra hit.”

Maraniss notes that Obama, looking back later in life on those days, made it sound as though he was hanging out with a group of misbegotten n’er-do-wells, what he called “the club of disaffection.”

“In fact,” Maraniss writes, “most members of the Choom Gang were decent students and athletes who went on to successful and productive lawyers, writers and businessmen,” Maraniss writes. One notable exception was Ray, the group’s pot dealer who, known for his ability “to score quality bud,” would years later be killed by a scorned gay lover armed with a ball-peen hammer.

Maraniss notes that Obama, in a high school yearbook, acknowledged the hippie drug dealer, Ray, who sold the Choom Gang pot, but didn’t acknowledge his own mother.

“Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray,” Obama wrote, “for all the good times.”

Obama using White House web site to get reelected

Obama using White House web site to get reelected


Reagan: White House website gone wild

Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2012 8:14 am

Guest Commentary by Michael Reagan

We’ll never know what Ronald Reagan would have done with, the official website of the White House. But I know my father wouldn’t be abusing it the way Barack Obama is. is owned and operated by the federal government, but the incumbent gets to run it and design it to his own political tastes.

Like nearly anything the federal government touches, the White House website is a decent idea gone bad.

It should be a handy place where the average over-taxed citizen or liberal newsman can find the latest news and information about the outrageous doings of the current president and his administration. But it’s become just another political tool — a permanent campaign ad for the incumbent.

You know how newly elected mayors rush out and get their names painted on all the city benches and trash cans? is the same principle on a federal level, done virtually.

The Obama regime’s contains all the basic stuff — the president’s schedule, recent photo ops, proclamations, executive orders, his latest appearance on “The View,” plus his detailed positions on dozens of domestic and international issues.

Give it credit. The site is a slick, partisan and effective propaganda weapon. President Obama’s name and photo are plastered on every page.

And it’s riddled with Obama-aggrandizing whoppers like “The President overcame furious lobbying by big banks to pass the most far reaching reform of Wall Street in history, which will prevent the excessive risk-taking that led to the financial crisis....”

Though it’s all politics and spin, is impressively comprehensive. The only thing missing, besides the transcripts of what the president whispers to his donors on Wall Street, is his list of favorite golf courses. It must be somewhere. Maybe under “Lavish Vacations.”

But let’s get serious. Presidents have had their own White House websites to puff themselves up since 1994. But under the stewardship of the Narcissist in Chief, has reached a new low.

It has stooped to misrepresenting history to make it look like some previous presidents, including Ronald Reagan, would support President Obama’s big-government ideas or policies.

On the website, under “The White House” menu, are brief, non-partisan biographies of every president. Tagged on to the end of almost every bio since Coolidge is a little feature called “Did you know?”

For instance, the tag for FDR reads, “Did you know? On August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Today the Obama Administration continues to protect seniors and ensure Social Security will be there for future generations.”

Fair enough, considering Obama’s New New Deal policies.

But here’s part of the “Did you know?” at the end of my father’s bio: “In a June 28, 1985 speech Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multi-millionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffet Rule.”

Is Obama kidding? The Buffet Rule is an act of class warfare designed to punish successful people with higher taxes in the name of fairness.

My father’s tax policy — which simplified the tax code and lowered top marginal rates from 70 percent to 28 percent — had nothing in common with the Buffet Rule. It was about lowering everyone’s taxes and providing incentives for all, not punishing the already successful few.

Ronald Reagan wouldn’t agree with any part of Obamanomics. The Obama regime has already proved it can’t be trusted with the economy. By trying to make it seem that my father was the founding father of the Buffet Rule, it proves it can’t even be trusted with history.

Mr. Obama, if you would like to debate this I am available 24/7.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Rev0olution” (St. Martin’s Press, 2011). Visit his website at, or e-mail comments to Copyright 2012 Mike Reagan. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

Barack Obama: Drone Warrior


Barack Obama: Drone Warrior

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: May 31

A very strange story, that 6,000-word front-page New York Times piece on how, every Tuesday, Barack Obama shuffles “baseball cards” with the pictures and bios of suspected terrorists from around the world and chooses who shall die by drone strike. He even reserves for himself the decision of whether to proceed when the probability of killing family members or bystanders is significant.

The article could have been titled “Barack Obama: Drone Warrior.” Great detail on how Obama personally runs the assassination campaign. On-the-record quotes from the highest officials. This was no leak. This was a White House press release.

Why? To portray Obama as tough guy. And why now? Because in crisis after recent crisis, Obama has looked particularly weak: standing helplessly by as thousands are massacred in Syria; being played by Iran in nuclear negotiations, now reeling with the collapse of the latest round in Baghdad; being treated with contempt by Vladimir Putin, who blocks any action on Syria or Iran and adds personal insult by standing up Obama at the latter’s G-8 and NATO summits.

The Obama camp thought that any political problem with foreign policy would be cured by the Osama bin Laden operation. But the administration’s attempt to politically exploit the raid’s one-year anniversary backfired, earning ridicule and condemnation for its crude appropriation of the heroic acts of others.

A campaign ad had Bill Clinton praising Obama for the courage of ordering the raid because, had it failed and Americans been killed, “the downside would have been horrible for him. “ Outraged vets released a response ad, pointing out that it would have been considerably more horrible for the dead SEALs.

That ad also highlighted the many self-references Obama made in announcing the bin Laden raid: “I can report . . . I directed . . . I met repeatedly . . . I determined . . . at my direction . . . I, as commander in chief,” etc. ad nauseam. (Eisenhower’s announcement of the D-Day invasion made not a single mention of his role, whereas the alternate statement he’d prepared had the landing been repulsed was entirely about it being his failure.)

Obama only compounded the self-aggrandizement problem when he spoke a week later about the military “fighting on my behalf.”

The Osama-slayer card having been vastly overplayed, what to do? A new card: Obama, drone warrior, steely and solitary, delivering death with cool dispatch to the rest of the al-Qaeda depth chart.

So the peacemaker, Nobel laureate, nuclear disarmer, apologizer to the world for America having lost its moral way when it harshly interrogated the very people Obama now kills, has become — just in time for the 2012 campaign — Zeus the Avenger, smiting by lightning strike.

A rather strange ethics. You go around the world preening about how America has turned a new moral page by electing a president profoundly offended by George W. Bush’s belligerence and prisoner maltreatment, and now you’re ostentatiously telling the world that you personally play judge, jury and executioner to unseen combatants of your choosing and whatever innocents happen to be in their company.

This is not to argue against drone attacks. In principle, they are fully justified. No quarter need be given to terrorists who wear civilian clothes, hide among civilians and target civilians indiscriminately. But it is to question the moral amnesia of those whose delicate sensibilities were offended by the Bush methods that kept America safe for a decade — and who now embrace Obama’s campaign of assassination by remote control.

Moreover, there is an acute military problem. Dead terrorists can’t talk.

Drone attacks are cheap — which is good. But the path of least resistance has a cost. It yields no intelligence about terror networks or terror plans.

One capture could potentially make us safer than 10 killings. But because of the moral incoherence of Obama’s war on terror, there are practically no captures anymore. What would be the point? There’s nowhere for the CIA to interrogate. And what would they learn even if they did, Obama having decreed a new regime of kid-gloves, name-rank-and-serial-number interrogation?

This administration came out opposing military tribunals, wanting to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York, reading the Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights and trying mightily (and unsuccessfully, there being — surprise! — no plausible alternative) to close Guantanamo. Yet alongside this exquisite delicacy about the rights of terrorists is the campaign to kill them in their beds.

You festoon your prisoners with rights — but you take no prisoners. The morality is perverse. Which is why the results are so mixed. We do kill terror operatives, an important part of the war on terror, but we gratuitously forfeit potentially life-saving intelligence.

But that will cost us later. For now, we are to bask in the moral seriousness and cool purpose of our drone warrior president.

Obama ordered cyberattacks on Iran!!!!

Obama ordered cyberattacks on Iran!!!!

Screw that little part of the Constitution that says only Congress can declare war. Emperor Obama thinks he has the power to initiate force against any government he feels like without the approval of Congress.


Obama stepped up cyberattacks on Iran: report


WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama accelerated cyberattacks on Iran's nuclear program and expanded the assault even after the Stuxnet virus accidentally escaped in 2010, the New York Times reported Friday.

The operation, begun under president George W. Bush and codenamed "Olympic Games," is the first known sustained US cyberattack ever launched on another country, and used malicious code developed with Israel, the Times said.

The Times said the article was based on 18 months of interviews with current and former US, European and Israeli officials, and was adapted from the book "Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power," by David Sanger, set to be published next week.

The cyberattack, aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and keeping Israel from launching a preventive military strike, sowed widespread confusion in Iran's Natanz nuclear plant, the Times said.

However, top administration officials considered suspending it after Stuxnet -- a complex virus developed jointly with Israel -- "escaped" the facility and began appearing in computer systems in several countries, the Times said.

Obama eventually ordered the attacks to continue, and within a week of Stuxnet's escape a newer version of the bug temporarily brought down 1,000 of Iran's 5,000 nuclear centrifuges spinning at the time, the Times said.

Experts have long suspected that Stuxnet, which targeted computer control systems made by German industrial giant Siemens, was of US and Israeli origin, but neither country has admitted to having a hand in it.

A Pentagon spokesman, Captain John Kirby, declined to comment in detail on the article but said that Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have put a priority on the cyber realm.

"As we've said many times and the president and secretary made clear, cyber domain is a domain that we need to constantly evaluate and constantly assess and try to improve the range of capabilities that we have in cyberspace," Kirby told reporters.

The United States and Israel have long accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons in the guise of a civilian program, charges denied by Tehran, which insists its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes.

The Times article comes days after experts at Russia's Kaspersky Lab, a top anti-virus software firm, discovered "Flame," a sophisticated virus several times larger than Stuxnet that also seems to have been aimed at Iran.


Obama Ordered Computer Virus Attacks Against Iran

Decided Program Would Continue After Stuxnet Disaster

by Jason Ditz, June 01, 2012

Adding fuel to the speculation that the Flame Virus is a government-created weapon, new reports reveal that President Obama ordered the launch of “cyberattacks” using computer malware as one of his first acts as president.

US dalliances into this sort of attack are of course well established, with the 2010 leak of the Stuxnet worm causing worldwide havoc. The worm, a joint creation of the US and Israel, was meant to target Iran’s uranium enrichment facility and was developed to attack Siemens computers. After its escape, it was altered by other groups and attacked Siemens computers worldwide, including in the United States.

Apparently even getting caught out on the Stuxnet disaster didn’t phase Obama, who ordered the program to continue even after this. The US is also said to have used viruses to attack Iran’s Russian built Bushehr power plant, bizarre since the president has insisted that the US doesn’t object to the energy program.

After initial confirmation from unnamed officials in the media, the US has denied any role in the Flame Virus, which is spreading across the Middle East. The virus, one of the most advanced ever seen, allows the attacker to capture keystrokes and screenshots, and even to turn on the microphones of affected systems to record conversations happening nearby.


Obama Ordered Stuxnet Virus, Part of Organized Cyberattacks Against Iran

By Colin Lecher Posted 06.01.2012 at 1:01 pm 23 Comments

Cyberattacks Escalated Obama's cyberattack order significantly expands the historical use of cyberweapons in the United States. Wikimedia Commons

According to a report today in the New York Times, President Obama secretly ordered accelerated cyberattacks against the computers running Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities.

Started by the Bush administration in 2006, the stealth operation went under the handle "Olympic Games" and a major part of the project, a worm planted by spies meant to knock out enrichment facilities, went public in the summer of 2010 when the worm escaped Iran's Natanz plant because of a programming error and made it into the Internet. The president and other members of the administration then considered shutting it down, but ultimately let it continue. Two new versions of the worm hit the plant in the coming weeks and at one point shut down 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran was using to purify uranium. After that, the worm was discovered -- though its source was unknown -- and named Stuxnet. Observers marveled at how advanced the malware was.

According to the report, it's since been shut down, but Olympic Games as a whole is marching on.

New presidential duty: The 'kill list'

Emperor Obama really does sound like an Emperor!!!!


New presidential duty: The 'kill list'

By Susan Walsh, AP

The nation learned details this week of a new and deadly presidential duty: The 'kill list."

Early in his term, President Obama, counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, and Gen. James Cartwright formed what author Daniel Klaidman calls "a kind of special troika on targeted killings" of suspected al Qaeda members and other terrorists.

"The three men were making life-and-death decisions, picking targets, rejecting or accepting names put forward by the military, feeling their way through a new kind of war -- Obama's war," Klaidman writes in his forthcoming book, Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency.

It's another sign of the new times in war. It involves not battalions on open battlefields, but intelligence gathering, legal analysis, and unmanned drones aimed at specific targets. The list can range from Osama bin Laden to al Qaeda foot soldiers whose names are virtually unknown to the American public.

In a book excerpt published in Newsweek magazine, Klaidman writes that Obama has made "brutally difficult" decisions that have taken a toll on him and his staff.

Writes Klaidman:

In quiet conversations with his advisers, the president would sometimes later reflect on whether they knew with certainty that the people they were targeting posed a genuine and specific threat to American interests.

Similar angst and debate was coursing through the administration as a whole. Every targeted killing, in fact, had to be lawyered -- either by the CIA's attorneys, in the case of agency operations, or by other lawyers when the military was involved.

The New York Times also provided details of a process in which "Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret 'nominations' process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical."

Obama often looks over yearbook-like charts with pictures, bios, and allegations against potential targets, the Times reports:

He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding "kill list," poring over terrorist suspects' biographies on what one official calls the macabre "baseball cards" of an unconventional war.

When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises -- but his family is with him -- it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.

Purcell: If Obama told the grads the truth

To be honest, I don't think that Emperor Obama is any worse then Emperor John McCain would have been, or any worse the Emperor George W. Bush was.

Hey, they are all just a bunch of crooked government thieves and war mongers who steal our money and give it to the special interest groups that helped them get elected.


Purcell: If Obama told the grads the truth

Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 7:41 am

Guest Commentary by Tom Purcell

Students, faculty and parents, it is my honor to deliver a commencement speech today. I am about to do something I have never done as president: tell it like it is.

Back in 2008, I was nothing but an idea — a blank canvas upon which millions painted whatever image they wanted to see.

Americans were frightened then, as the U.S. and the world came frighteningly close to an economic meltdown.

My words reassured millions. I told you I was going to bridge the political divide, bring people together, get America’s fiscal house in order, get the economy going and cut our massive deficit in half by the end of my first term.

You elected me. Suckers!

The first thing I did, under the guise of greatly improving the economy, was the largest stimulus package in world history.

Those ninny Republicans wanted to stimulate the economy through massive temporary tax breaks and credits.

I preferred the old Chicago-Democrat method, using nearly $1 trillion in taxpayer funds to pay off unions and other supporters.

By my own measure — I promised the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8 percent — that program failed.

Still, my poll numbers were high. I could have used my sizable political capital to tackle our real problems — a muddled tax system that holds back growth and an explosion in entitlement spending that will soon cripple America — but I had no time for that.

So I punted. I established the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, co-chaired by Republican former Sen. Alan Simpson and Democrat former Sen. Erskine Bowles, and let them figure out what to do about tax reform and entitlement spending.

After all, I had more important fish to fry: my legacy!

I had Democrat majorities in the House and the Senate and an irresistible opportunity to be the first president to create the crown jewel of entitlements: health care for all!

Sure, I burned through my political capital in the process. Many were unhappy about government meddling with their relationship with their doctors. Now, the Catholic Church is grumbling about government meddling with religious freedom (by me telling it what provisions better be in its employee health policies).

Common people, who cling to religion and guns, will never understand hope and change.

I single-handedly created the tea-party response to my policies. Republicans gave Democrats a shellacking in the 2010 elections and took over the House.

Soon after those elections, the Simpson-Bowles commission released a blueprint for tax and entitlement reform -- solid ideas that both parties could find common ground on.

It gave me a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate real leadership to bring both parties together to reform taxes and entitlements and contribute mightily to badly needed growth.

But I didn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. Truth be told, this is the hardest job in the world and I really have no clue what I am doing.

As the economy stumbles, unemployment is high, revenues are flat, spending is out of control and our deficit is frightening, my only hope of a second term is to confuse, obfuscate, point fingers and change the subject.

In any event, Class of 2012, here is my advice as you enter the worst job market in years: Good luck because you’re going to need it.

And despite the fact that your generation will be saddled with years of high taxation and sluggish economic conditions thanks to my policies, I thank you for your continued support.


Woodward and Bernstein: 40 years after Watergate

Government hasn't change much since the corrupt Nixon White House days. Source

Woodward and Bernstein: 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought

By Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, Published: June 8

As Sen. Sam Ervin completed his 20-year Senate career in 1974 and issued his final report as chairman of the Senate Watergate committee, he posed the question: “What was Watergate?”

Countless answers have been offered in the 40 years since June 17, 1972, when a team of burglars wearing business suits and rubber gloves was arrested at 2:30 a.m. at the headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate office building in Washington. Four days afterward, the Nixon White House offered its answer: “Certain elements may try to stretch this beyond what it was,” press secretary Ronald Ziegler scoffed, dismissing the incident as a “third-rate burglary.”

History proved that it was anything but. Two years later, Richard Nixon would become the first and only U.S. president to resign, his role in the criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice — the Watergate coverup — definitively established.

Another answer has since persisted, often unchallenged: the notion that the coverup was worse than the crime. This idea minimizes the scale and reach of Nixon’s criminal actions.

Ervin’s answer to his own question hints at the magnitude of Watergate: “To destroy, insofar as the presidential election of 1972 was concerned, the integrity of the process by which the President of the United States is nominated and elected.” Yet Watergate was far more than that. At its most virulent, Watergate was a brazen and daring assault, led by Nixon himself, against the heart of American democracy: the Constitution, our system of free elections, the rule of law.

Today, much more than when we first covered this story as young Washington Post reporters, an abundant record provides unambiguous answers and evidence about Watergate and its meaning. This record has expanded continuously over the decades with the transcription of hundreds of hours of Nixon’s secret tapes, adding detail and context to the hearings in the Senate and House of Representatives; the trials and guilty pleas of some 40 Nixon aides and associates who went to jail; and the memoirs of Nixon and his deputies. Such documentation makes it possible to trace the president’s personal dominance over a massive campaign of political espionage, sabotage and other illegal activities against his real or perceived opponents.

In the course of his five-and-a-half-year presidency, beginning in 1969, Nixon launched and managed five successive and overlapping wars — against the anti-Vietnam War movement, the news media, the Democrats, the justice system and, finally, against history itself. All reflected a mind-set and a pattern of behavior that were uniquely and pervasively Nixon’s: a willingness to disregard the law for political advantage, and a quest for dirt and secrets about his opponents as an organizing principle of his presidency.

Long before the Watergate break-in, gumshoeing, burglary, wiretapping and political sabotage had become a way of life in the Nixon White House.

Nixon’s first war was against the anti-Vietnam War movement. The president considered it subversive and thought it constrained his ability to prosecute the war in Southeast Asia on his terms. In 1970, he approved the top-secret Huston Plan, authorizing the CIA, the FBI and military intelligence units to intensify electronic surveillance of individuals identified as “domestic security threats.” The plan called for, among other things, intercepting mail and lifting restrictions on “surreptitious entry” — that is, break-ins or “black bag jobs.”

Thomas Charles Huston, the White House aide who devised the plan, informed Nixon that it was illegal, but the president approved it regardless. It was not formally rescinded until FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover objected — not on principle, but because he considered those types of activities the FBI’s turf. Undeterred, Nixon remained fixated on such operations.

In a memorandum dated March 3, 1970, presidential aide Patrick Buchanan wrote to Nixon about what he called the “institutionalized power of the left concentrated in the foundations that succor the Democratic Party.” Of particular concern was the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank with liberal leanings.

On June 17, 1971 — exactly one year before the Watergate break-in — Nixon met in the Oval Office with his chief of staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, and national security adviser Henry Kissinger. At issue was a file about former president Lyndon Johnson’s handling of the 1968 bombing halt in Vietnam.

“You can blackmail Johnson on this stuff, and it might be worth doing,” Haldeman said, according to the tape of the meeting.

“Yeah,” Kissinger said, “but Bob and I have been trying to put the damn thing together for three years.” They wanted the complete story of Johnson’s actions.

“Huston swears to God there’s a file on it at Brookings,” Haldeman said.

“Bob,” Nixon said, “now you remember Huston’s plan? Implement it. . . . I mean, I want it implemented on a thievery basis. God damn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.”

Nixon would not let the matter drop. Thirteen days later, according to another taped discussion with Haldeman and Kissinger, the president said: “Break in and take it out. You understand?”

The next morning, Nixon said: “Bob, get on the Brookings thing right away. I’ve got to get that safe cracked over there.” And later that morning, he persisted, “Who’s gonna break in the Brookings Institution?”

For reasons that have never been made clear, the break-in apparently was not carried out.

2. The war on the news media

Nixon’s second war was waged ceaselessly against the press, which was reporting more insistently on the faltering Vietnam War and the effectiveness of the antiwar movement. Although Hoover thought he had shut down the Huston Plan, it was in fact implemented by high-level Nixon deputies. A “Plumbers” unit and burglary team were set up under the direction of White House counsel John Ehrlichman and an assistant, Egil Krogh, and led by the operational chiefs of the future Watergate burglary, ex-CIA operative Howard Hunt and former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy. Hunt was hired as a consultant by Nixon political aide Charles Colson, whose take-no-prisoners sensibility matched the president’s.


To read the full article go to the Washington Post.

U.S. reveals accusations against Secret Service

More of the old "Do as I say, not as I do" from our royal government masters.


U.S. reveals accusations against Secret Service

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. government on Friday revealed details of serious allegations against Secret Service agents and officers since 2004, including claims of involvement with prostitutes, leaking sensitive information, publishing pornography, sexual assault, illegal wiretaps, improper use of weapons and drunken behavior. It wasn't immediately clear how many of the accusations were confirmed to be true.

The heavily censored list, which runs 229 pages, was quietly released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to the Associated Press and other news organizations following the Secret Service prostitution scandal that erupted in April in Colombia. It describes accusations filed against Secret Service employees with the Homeland Security Department's inspector general.

Some of the accusations occurred as recently as last month. In many cases, the government noted that some of the claims were resolved administratively, and others were being formally investigated.

The new disclosures of so many serious accusations lend weight to concerns expressed by Congress that the prostitution scandal exposed a culture of misconduct within the Secret Service. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan apologized for the incident during a hearing in May but insisted that what happened in Colombia was an isolated case.

Secret Service officials did not immediately respond Friday to questions about the accusations.

The complaints included an alleged sexual assault reported in August 2011. In the heavily censored entry, an employee was accused of pushing a woman who also worked for the agency onto a bed during a work trip. The employee "got on top of (censored) attempting to have sex," even though the woman "told (censored) 'no' several times." The entry noted that supervisors described the accused as "a conscientious and dependable employee." The incident was closed with an "administrative disposition" in February.

They also included an anonymous complaint in October 2003 that a Secret Service agent "may have been involved with a prostitution ring," noting that two telephone numbers belonging to the agent, whose name was censored and who has since retired, turned up as part of an FBI investigation into a prostitution ring. In 2005, an employee was reported to the Washington field office for being arrested on a charge of solicitation in a park. Documents do not reveal the outcome of that case.

In 2008, an on-duty uniform division officer was arrested in a Washington prostitution sting. The officer, who was driving a marked Secret Service vehicle at the time, was placed on administrative leave, the records show. Sullivan said during the May hearing that the officer was later fired.

Some of the allegations were obviously spurious, such as a complaint in August 2010 that a Secret Service agent had performed experiments and implanted stimulators in a citizen's brain. The list also included dozens of complaints about fraudulent emails that circulate widely on the Internet and appear to come from the Secret Service.

A dozen Secret Service officers, agents and supervisors were implicated in the Colombia scandal and eight have been forced out of the agency. At least two employees are fighting to get their jobs back.

F*ck those public record laws, I'm the President!!


Obama invokes executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents

By Richard A. Serrano

June 20, 2012, 8:18 a.m.

WASHINGTON — Just as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was about to vote Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena for documents in the flawed Fast and Furious gun-tracking case, President Obama asserted executive privilege and backed up the attorney general’s position in refusing to turn over the material.

The fast-moving events Wednesday morning at the White House and on Capitol Hill significantly ratcheted up a growing constitutional clash between the two branches of the federal government, one that ultimately may not be resolved until it reaches the courts.

The Republican-led committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), will ask the full House for a floor vote holding Holder in contempt and requesting the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., or a special prosecutor to force the attorney general to produce the documents.

“The committee has uncovered serious wrongdoing by the Justice Department,” Issa said of his investigation into Fast and Furious, in which several thousand firearms were deliberately circulated along the Southwest border and ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. “That wrongdoing has cost lives on both sides of the border.”

Moments before the committee hearing, the White House announced that Obama had formally exerted executive privilege in the matter, giving Holder cover from releasing the material to the committee.

“We regret that we have arrived at this point,” Deputy Atty. Gen. James M. Cole told Issa in a letter that arrived on the Hill just before the committee went into session.

He said making the documents public “would have significant, damaging consequences,” but he did not disclose whether Obama has been briefed or had another supervisory role in Fast and Furious.

In a separate letter that Holder wrote to Obama shortly before the committee session, asking for executive privilege, the attorney general said he had “concluded that you may properly assert executive privilege over the documents at issue, and I respectfully request you do so.” Holder also did not mention any involvement by Obama in Fast and Furious.

According to the Obama White House, President George W. Bush asserted executive privilege six times during his two terms, and President Bill Clinton 14 times during his eight years in Washington.

“In fact,” said Eric Schultz, an Obama White House spokesman, “dating back to President Reagan, presidents have asserted executive privilege 24 times. President Obama has gone longer without asserting the privilege in a congressional dispute than any president in the last three decades.”

Republicans said Obama's move raises serious questions.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked how Obama could assert executive privilege "if there is no White House involvement?"

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said Obama's move "implies that White House officials were either involved in the 'Fast and Furious' operation or the cover-up that followed."

"The administration has always insisted that wasn't the case. Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?" Brendan Buck said.

Staff writer Michael A. Memoli contributed to this report

Ain't no "executive privilege in the Constitution!!!

Ain't no "executive privilege in the Constitution!!!


What is executive privilege?

by Connie Cass - Jun. 20, 2012 02:55 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Presidents dating back to George Washington have claimed a murky power to keep the inner workings of their administrations secret from Congress.

That authority -- known as executive privilege -- isn't in the Constitution. It hasn't been clearly defined by the courts. Yet invoking it has proven effective for presidents determined to keep witnesses or documents away from congressional investigators.

President Barack Obama is the latest to assert the privilege: He refused Wednesday to turn over some Justice Department documents about a botched anti-smuggling operation that allowed hundreds of guns sold in Arizona to end up in Mexico. Because of the standoff, the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee then voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. The committee's recommendation next would go to the full House for a vote.

A look, in question and answer form, at executive privilege and the fuzzy state of the law regarding showdowns between Congress and a president:

Q: How can a president shrug off a subpoena from a congressional committee?

A: Presidents say they should be free to engage in private decision-making with their advisers without fearing how their words or internal memos might look to Congress or the public. Several presidents have argued that this authority also extends to the work of high-level agency officials, even if they weren't communicating with the president or White House about such work.

Q: Where does the idea of executive privilege come from?

A: It's a principle based on the constitutionally mandated separation of powers -- the idea that the executive branch, Congress and the courts operate independently of each other.

The concept of executive privilege dates at least to 1792, when Congress was probing a disastrous battle against American Indians that cost the lives of hundreds of U.S. soldiers. President George Washington and his Cabinet decided the president had the right to refuse to turn over some documents if disclosing them would harm the public. In the end, Washington gave lawmakers what they sought. But the idea of executive privilege took root.

Q: Didn't the Supreme Court settle the issue when it ordered President Richard Nixon to hand over the Watergate tapes recorded in the White House?

A: Not really. The court ordered Nixon to surrender the tapes in that case -- a criminal investigation. But the justices also found a constitutional basis for claims of executive privilege, leaving the door open for presidents to cite it in future clashes with Congress.

Q: Do presidents claim executive privilege often?

A: Most reach for it sparingly. Wednesday was Obama's first time in his 3 1 / 2years in office. His predecessor, George W. Bush, cited it six times in eight years. Bush's father invoked it only once in his single term.

The administration of President Bill Clinton, who faced investigation of his Whitewater land deals and then a sex-and-lies scandal, asserted executive privilege 14 times. Some of those claims were kept quiet and quickly dropped, however.

Q: What comes next for Obama?

A: Probably more negotiation. In the past, presidents and lawmakers have been loath to let an executive privilege fight escalate into a court battle.

Q: Why not go to court to settle questions about executive privilege once and for all?

A: There's too much risk. Presidents worry that if they lose, courts will take away a valuable tool and weaken the power of the office. If the lawmakers lose, they could permanently weaken Congress' subpoena power when it investigates executive branch blunders.

Q: What if the White House and Congress can't reach a compromise?

A: The next step is a contempt of Congress vote in the full Republican-controlled House. Full House approval would send the case to the local U.S. attorney for enforcement. Who is that U.S. attorney's boss? Holder and, ultimately, Obama, who appointed him.

That's why the Justice Department traditionally declines to pursue such criminal contempt of Congress cases.

Q: Is there something else Congress could do?

A: If, as history suggests, the Justice Department won't prosecute a criminal case against Holder, the House could hire its own lawyer and file a civil lawsuit in federal court in hopes of winning an order for Holder to turn over the documents. But in addition to the risk of losing, a court fight certainly would be long and drawn out, making that an unappealing option.

The Democratic-controlled House filed suit in 2008 seeking to compel testimony from a former White House counsel to George W. Bush. The lawsuit was dropped a year and a half later, after Bush's term ended and a newly elected Congress had been seated. Congress did get some of the documents it sought, however.

Voters not buying Obama's BS???


Voters not buying Obama's positive spin on economy

Democratic strategists say voters unconvinced on economy's progress

By Christi Parsons

June 12, 2012, 7:55 a.m.

President Obama is hitting hard this week on the idea that the economy is making progress under his stewardship.

A series of interviews with local news outlets already this week makes his point clear, featuring the word “progress” several times in relation to the economy.

Advisers to the president say the argument is based on fact, and it clearly forms the heart of their message this summer.

“We have made some substantial progress,” White House press secretary Jay Carney says. “We have seen the economy grow. We have seen it produce almost 4.3 million private sector jobs.”

But the approach is coming under some critical review -- not just from Republicans, and not just as a result of the flap over Obama’s choice of words in describing the job creation on his watch. (It was clear from the context that he didn't mean the economy was "doing fine," but that unfortunate choice of words has come back to haunt him nonetheless.)

A new paper from Democracy Corps, founded by Democratic strategist James Carville and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, argues that key voters don’t believe the economy is on the mend. Democrats will face “an impossible headwind” this fall if they don’t move to a new narrative, they contend in the paper, "Shifting the Economic Narrative."

The report is based on findings from four focus groups, convened in late May and made up of targeted voters – independents, weak Democrats and weak Republicans in Columbus, Ohio,and Bala Cynwyd, Penn.

“These voters are not convinced that we are headed in the right direction,” the report concludes. “They are living in a new economy – and there is no conceivable recovery in the year ahead that will change the view of the new state of the country.”

“They actually have a very realistic view of the long road back and the struggles of the middle class,” the authors write, “and the current narrative about progress just misses the opportunity to connect and point forward.”

Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court upholds key parts of Obama healthcare law

Sure Obamacare sucks. The only good thing that could come of this is if it makes modern Americans think of Emperor Obama like the British Tea Tax made historic Americans think of King George. Hopefully it paves the way for a 2nd American Revolution where Americans can get rid of an evil government that is far worse then King George's.


Supreme Court upholds key parts of Obama healthcare law

Jun. 28, 2012 07:59 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul.

The decision means the huge overhaul, still only partly in effect, will proceed and pick up momentum over the next several years, affecting the way that countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care. The ruling also hands Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court's judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.

The justices rejected two of the administration's three arguments in support of the insurance requirement. But the court said the mandate can be construed as a tax. "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," Roberts said.

The court found problems with the law's expansion of Medicaid, but even there said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states' entire Medicaid allotment if they don't take part in the law's extension.

The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.

Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. "The act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying non-consenting states all Medicaid funding," the dissenters said in a joint statement.

Obamacare is a government welfare program for doctors, hospitals and the medical industry.

Hospital stocks jump after health care ruling


Hospital stocks jump after health care ruling

by The Associated Press - Jun. 28, 2012 07:23 AM

Stocks of hospital companies are moving sharply higher after initial reports said the Supreme Court upheld the individual insurance requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

HCA Holdings stock is up 10 percent. Community Health Systems is also up 10 percent.

Stocks of drug companies and medical device makers are slightly lower for the day as analysts sort through the Supreme Court's ruling. Stocks of the biggest insurance companies are also lower.

Health care ruling a political victory for Obama


Health care ruling a political victory for Obama

by Steve Peoples - Jun. 28, 2012 07:33 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Barack Obama's sweeping health care law is a crucial election-year victory for the Democratic incumbent.

It also marks a pivotal point in the presidential race.

For Obama, the decision vindicates his most significant legislative accomplishment.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney opposes the health care overhaul and is expected to double-down on his campaign pledge to repeal the law if he is elected.

The high court announced Thursday that it was upholding the individual insurance requirement at the heart of the health care overhaul.

For more updates on Obamacare check out this


For updates on Obamacare check out this URL.

Charles Krauthammer - Why Roberts did it


Why Roberts did it

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: June 28

It’s the judiciary’s Nixon-to-China: Chief Justice John Roberts joins the liberal wing of the Supreme Court and upholds the constitutionality of Obamacare. How? By pulling off one of the great constitutional finesses of all time. He managed to uphold the central conservative argument against Obamacare, while at the same time finding a narrow definitional dodge to uphold the law — and thus prevented the court from being seen as having overturned, presumably on political grounds, the signature legislation of this administration.

Why did he do it? Because he carries two identities. Jurisprudentially, he is a constitutional conservative. Institutionally, he is chief justice and sees himself as uniquely entrusted with the custodianship of the court’s legitimacy, reputation and stature.

As a conservative, he is as appalled as his conservative colleagues by the administration’s central argument that Obamacare’s individual mandate is a proper exercise of its authority to regulate commerce.

That makes congressional power effectively unlimited. Mr. Jones is not a purchaser of health insurance. Mr. Jones has therefore manifestly not entered into any commerce. Yet Congress tells him he must buy health insurance — on the grounds that it is regulating commerce. If government can do that under the commerce clause, what can it not do?

“The Framers . . . gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it,” writes Roberts. Otherwise you “undermine the principle that the Federal Government is a government of limited and enumerated powers.”

That’s Roberts, philosophical conservative. But he lives in uneasy coexistence with Roberts, custodian of the court, acutely aware that the judiciary’s arrogation of power has eroded the esteem in which it was once held. Most of this arrogation occurred under the liberal Warren and Burger courts, most egregiously with Roe v. Wade, which willfully struck down the duly passed abortion laws of 46 states. The result has been four decades of popular protest and resistance to an act of judicial arrogance that, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “deferred stable settlement of the issue” by the normal electoral/legislative process.

More recently, however, few decisions have occasioned more bitterness and rancor than Bush v. Gore, a 5 to 4 decision split along ideological lines. It was seen by many (principally, of course, on the left) as a political act disguised as jurisprudence and designed to alter the course of the single most consequential political act of a democracy — the election of a president.

Whatever one thinks of the substance of Bush v. Gore, it did affect the reputation of the court. Roberts seems determined that there be no recurrence with Obamacare. Hence his straining in his Obamacare ruling to avoid a similar result — a 5 to 4 decision split along ideological lines that might be perceived as partisan and political.

National health care has been a liberal dream for a hundred years. It is clearly the most significant piece of social legislation in decades. Roberts’s concern was that the court do everything it could to avoid being seen, rightly or wrongly, as high-handedly overturning sweeping legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.

How to reconcile the two imperatives — one philosophical and the other institutional? Assign yourself the task of writing the majority opinion. Find the ultimate finesse that manages to uphold the law, but only on the most narrow of grounds — interpreting the individual mandate as merely a tax, something generally within the power of Congress.

Result? The law stands, thus obviating any charge that a partisan court overturned duly passed legislation. And yet at the same time the commerce clause is reined in. By denying that it could justify the imposition of an individual mandate, Roberts draws the line against the inexorable decades-old expansion of congressional power under the commerce clause fig leaf.

Law upheld, Supreme Court’s reputation for neutrality maintained. Commerce clause contained, constitutional principle of enumerated powers reaffirmed.

That’s not how I would have ruled. I think the “mandate is merely a tax” argument is a dodge, and a flimsy one at that. (The “tax” is obviously punitive, regulatory and intended to compel.) Perhaps that’s not how Roberts would have ruled had he been just an associate justice and not the chief. But that’s how he did rule.

Obamacare is now essentially upheld. There’s only one way it can be overturned. The same way it was passed — elect a new president and a new Congress. That’s undoubtedly what Roberts is telling the nation: Your job, not mine. I won’t make it easy for you.

Supreme Court didn't agree with Obama


Column: Supreme Court didn't agree with Obama

By Jonah Goldberg

Last Thursday, President Obama walked before the cameras and said, "Good afternoon. Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act— the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago. In doing so, they've reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on earth — no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin."

A bit later, Obama added, "Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance."

The casual listener might take Obama to be saying that the Supreme Court agrees with him and that the ruling was a ringing endorsement of what Obama takes to be the core "principles" of ObamaCare.

But that's not the case, at all.

The dissenting opinion written by four justices found the whole thing to be an affront to the Constitution. And the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, held that the law is constitutional for reasons the president — a famous teacher of the Constitution — passionately rejected.

"You reject that it's a tax increase?" George Stephanopoulos asked the president in a now legendary interview in 2009. "I absolutely reject that notion," replied Obama.

In Roberts' words

Obama might respond that regardless of how they got there, the justices did affirm the principles of ObamaCare. Nope. "We do not consider whether the act embodies sound policies," Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the majority. "That judgment is entrusted to the nation's elected leaders." And again, Roberts writes of ObamaCare: "It is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness."

This was Justice Roberts' diplomatic way of paraphrasing Oliver Wendell Holmes' famous defense of judicial restraint: "If my fellow citizens want to go to hell, I will help them. It's my job."

No doubt, Obama is delighted with the court's decision. The court might have repudiated the president's own opinions, but as a political matter there's little doubt Obama welcomes such repudiation.

Still, it's telling that Obama's fraudulent claim that the Supreme Court agrees with him is not so unusual. The president has a well-known habit of insisting that not only is he right, but also that all smart people agree with him.

For instance, in a 2009 discussion of the economic stimulus, Obama toldTheWashington Post's Fred Hiatt, "Whatever arguments may be made by the critics at this point, there was no economist out there who thought we didn't need to do (it)." Or, in a speech about energy last March: "What I just said about energy, by the way, is not disputed by any energy expert. Everybody agrees with this."

Let the record show that there are, in fact, economists and energy experts who disagree with Barack Obama. Really.

Beyond what this tendency says about the president's own character, it certainly reveals the arrogance of liberalism itself. There is something about the nature of liberalism that causes its adherents to argue as if it is the one true faith. But rather than speak the language of faith, they instead speak the vocabulary of expertise. They claim "sound science" and the support of "all experts" as if their opponents are devoid of facts and reason.

Contempt for democracy

There's a troubling contempt for democracy in this approach to politics because it assumes that your opponents have nothing of substance to contribute to the discussion. Moreover, this assumption inexorably leads liberals to think that if we could just let the experts run things, then everything would be great.

This was the faith of the original progressives who pushed, in the words of legendary news commentator Walter Lippmann, the "mastery" of scientific governance over the "drift" of messy markets and disorganized democracy. The New Deal and the Great Society were grounded in the same vision of infinitely capable technocrats.

Even John F. Kennedy argued that the problems facing the country "deal with questions which are now beyond the comprehension of most men" and should therefore be left to the experts to settle without subjecting them to divisive democratic debate.

Just last year, Peter Orszag, former Obama Office of Management and Budget director, was making the same argument. "We need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions," Orszag argued, "by making them a bit less democratic." The answer to our problems, Orszag proclaimed: "Automatic policies and depoliticized commissions."

It's no wonder that this mindset led to the creation of ObamaCare. Indeed, this is the real principle at the core of the act: the idea that if we can just give the experts, the commissions, the panels and boards enough power to do "what all experts" believe, then everything will be great, particularly if we can force citizens and businesses alike to heel.

In fairness, the court didn't affirm that principle either, but it did say that if the voters want to go to that corner of hell, we can.

Jonah Goldberg, a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors, is the author of The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.

Emperor Obama wants 6 more years of "drug wars" in Mexico!!!!

And sadly the American taxpayers wills spend billions financing Obama's drug war in Mexico, which has caused the murder of 50,000 to 60,000 Mexicans depending on which numbers you think are correct.


U.S. must boost drug-war aid to stop the cartels

by Robert Weiner and George Clingan - Jul. 3, 2012 12:00 AM

Our Turn

With the Mexican presidential election concluded Sunday and the ruling party's candidate coming in third, the country finds itself at a crossroads against the drug cartels. New President Enrique Peña Nieto will choose whether to continue the fight or make the more popular decision to strike a deal.

Peña Nieto's decision will bear significant consequences for the United States. The Mexican drug cartels are not just gangs that can be easily sacked; they are sophisticated, transnational criminal organizations that threaten Mexican sovereignty and U.S. security.

The cartels control 980 local governments in Mexico and have distribution networks in 230 U.S. cities, according to the Department of Justice National Intelligence Center. There are seven Mexican supercartels that dominate supply, trafficking and distribution of most illicit drugs in the United States

Arizona in particular is increasingly threatened. Phoenix and Tucson are major distribution centers for the United States. Half of all marijuana seized at the border goes through Arizona. Last November, in one bust, Arizona and federal border agents cracked the Sinaloa cartel's Arizona arm, which had moved nearly $2 billion of marijuana, cocaine and heroin into the United States over a five-year span.

A White House report of President Barack Obama's call to Peña Nieto on Monday cites a discussion of "common goals, including democracy, economic prosperity and security," but does not mention fighting drugs.

It is critical that we reaffirm our commitment to weaken the supercartels by sending a strong message to the new Mexican president, whose position on the drug war has been vague. Peña Nieto wants "better regulation of the military" and stated that Mexico "should not subordinate to the strategies of other countries."

Mexico receives too little credit for fighting this war. The drug kingpins have caused 55,000 deaths in Mexico since 2006. "Mexico has eradicated more drugs than any nation on Earth," former U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey says.

Calderon reformed government institutions that had been unreliable and corrupted by the cartels. After indicting over 20 percent of federal police (their FBI) for corruption, Calderon disbanded the force in favor of a new 35,000-officer force with anti-corruption training and standards.

The United States would do well by doubling anti-drug aid to Mexico, but contingent on Peña Nieto's continued efforts to win the drug war. However, we don't even give them what we promise. Of $1.4 billion authorized since 2008 under the Merida Initiative, we shorted Mexico by a third in real dollars. The least we should do is "fully fund" our cooperation. Mexican officials assailed our "slow deliveries while the bodies kept building up in Mexico."

Mexico itself has spent $35 billion on the drug war while we've given them less than $2 billion to solve our main crime and social problem. More than two-thirds of U.S. arrestees test positive for illegal drugs.

Still, President Felipe Calderon made remarkable inroads by intercepting cartel communications, disrupting distribution networks and targeting leadership. Mexico killed or incarcerated 40 cartel leaders in the past three years.

However, Mexico's top cop, Genaro Garcia Luna, estimated that the cartels invest $100 million to bribe state and municipal police officers each month -- $1.2 billion every year. The Mexican army will need to remain on the streets until the government is actually in control.

Since 9/11, the U.S., understandably at first, has dropped the ball. We have given Mexico drones as requested by the government for drug surveillance and intelligence. But, unlike Afghanistan and Pakistan, where we target al-Qaida for kills, the drones are not taking out the mass-murdering cartel leaders.

The U.S. should give a far more realistic dollar support level to Mexico's anti-drug efforts and far more focus to the effort. It will take the combined efforts of Mexico and the United States to deal a fatal blow to these too-big-to-fail cartels who threaten us daily.

Robert Weiner was the spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Policy and the U.S. House Committee on Narcotics. George Clingan is Latin American policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates.

California medical marijuana operation targeted by feds


California medical marijuana operation targeted by feds

By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times

July 11, 2012, 9:10 p.m.

The federal government is moving to shut down the nation's largest and highest-profile medical marijuana dispensary operation, filing papers to seize properties in Oakland and San Jose where Harborside Health Center does business.

Copies of the federal Complaint for Forfeiture were taped to the front doors of the two dispensaries Tuesday, alleging that they were "operating in violation of federal law."

Medical marijuana advocates, as well as some state and local officials, decried the action, saying it hurts patients in legitimate need of the drug and breaks repeated promises by President Obama's Justice Department that it was targeting only operations near schools and parks or otherwise in violation of the state's laws.

The U.S. attorney for Northern California, Melinda Haag, said she now found "the need to consider actions regarding marijuana superstores such as Harborside" because they presented unique opportunities for abuse.

Harborside was co-founded by outspoken marijuana activist Steve DeAngelo in 2006 and was the subject of a reality show, "Weed Wars," on the Discovery Channel last year. While other dispensary operators have sought a low profile since California's four U.S. attorneys began cracking down on the industry in October, DeAngelo has consistently railed against the federal intervention, advocated for better state regulations and become a leader in the movement.

"People are not going to stop using cannabis, they're just going to buy it in the illegal marketplace … on the streets," he said Wednesday in an interview. "Why are federal prosecutors using their discretion to do something so profoundly destructive?"

DeAngelo said that he would fight the Justice Department "openly and in public" and that he would resist any effort by his landlords to evict the dispensaries in response to the federal complaint — which targeted the property owners, not the tenants.

While all marijuana use and sales are illegal under federal law, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee last month that federal agents were targeting only those large-scale growers and dispensaries that have "come up with ways in which they are taking advantage of these state laws, and going beyond that which the states have authorized."

In a statement released late Wednesday, Haag suggested "superstores such as Harborside" fit that bill.

"The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state's medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need."

She noted that Harborside claims to have "over 108,000 customers."

California's medical marijuana laws are nebulous in regard to how the drug is to be distributed and courts have yet to settle the matter. Still, marijuana activists often hail Harborside as a model of professionalism and compliance. Its main facility in Oakland is one of four independent enterprises permitted and strictly regulated by the city.

"If Harborside is not in compliance with state law, no one is," said DeAngelo, 54.

The Oakland dispensary was awarded its permit in 2006 after the city put out a request for proposals. DeAngelo says it does about $22 million in annual sales, and the San Jose shop does about $8 million. Together they pay about $3 million in city and state sales taxes, and employ more than 100 people.

The state Board of Equalization estimates it collects $58 million to $105 million in annual sales tax from dispensaries.

"If we continue to drive everything underground, we're going to create an unsafe environment for patients who need this product … and lose revenue," board member Betty Yee said.

This week's move against Harborside further highlights the continuing conflict between local and federal officials over the drug.

"The city of Oakland has developed a system to assure such distribution occurs according to state law in a fair and orderly process," Nancy Nadel, member of the Oakland City Council and vice mayor of the city, said in a statement. "It is most unjust to our citizen patients and distributors who have followed local guidelines to be harassed and treated as criminals by federal officials."

Medical marijuana advocates said the Obama administration has repeatedly reneged on its promises that it would not meddle with the state laws.

"This is the most obvious and significant step by the federal government in attacking completely law-abiding dispensaries," said Kris Hermes, spokesman for the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. "It becomes more untenable for them to say they are just going after certain facilities and not just undermining the state's marijuana laws."

Hermes said the Justice Department has sent more than 200 letters to dispensaries and their landlords, threatening to seize their property if the shops do not close. It has been an effective strategy. With the letters, raids by the Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS audits, the government has forced more than 400 to close in the state, Hermes said, including the nearby Berkeley Patients Group, which was also seen as a model in the industry and closely regulated by local officials.

He knew only of half a dozen cases in which federal prosecutors actually filed an asset forfeiture complaint, as they did with Harborside.

Already, Harborside was embroiled in a battle with the IRS, which was seeking $2.5 million in back taxes, using an obscure provision of the tax code to say dispensaries cannot deduct routine expenses such as rent and wages.

Under Haag's supervision, agents and prosecutors have targeted a number of leaders in the medical pot movement. In October, DEA agents raided the Mendocino County marijuana farm of Matthew Cohen, who helped push for permitting and regulating cannabis cultivation in that county. And in April, they targeted a pot trade school and dispensary run by Richard Lee, who put the legalization measure Proposition 19 on the ballot in 2010.

In her statement, Haag said: "The filing of the civil forfeiture complaints against the two Harborside properties is part of our measured effort to address the proliferation of illegal marijuana businesses in the Northern District of California."

Obama admits he hasn't solved our problems!!!

Well as least Emperor Obama admits he hasn't solved any of Americas problems. But of course he wants you to vote for him again, because only HE can solve Americas problems in the next 4 years. Something which neither him nor Romney will do after one of them is elected.

Sadly the only thing folks in government can guarantee you is that they will steal your money and micromanage your life. But don't count on them to solve any of your problems.


Obama: 'Washington feels as broken as it did four years ago'

By Richard A. Serrano

July 15, 2012, 11:19 a.m.

WASHINGTON – As senior aides for President Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney stepped up their political attacks, the president said he was frustrated that he had failed to change the toxic political atmosphere in Washington after he was elected in 2008.

“Washington feels as broken as it did four years ago,” Obama said Sunday in a taped interview on the “CBS This Morning” show.

“And if you asked me what is the one thing that has frustrated me most over the last four years, it’s not the hard work. It’s not the enormity of the decisions. It’s not the pace. It is that I haven’t been able to change the atmosphere here in Washington to reflect the decency and common sense of ordinary people – Democrats, Republicans and independents – who I think just want to see their leadership solve problems.”

He added, “There’s enough blame to go around for that.”

Yet on other Sunday talk shows his top supporters, along with those for former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, continued to argue whether the presumptive Republican nominee had a role in shipping jobs offshore when he was a businessman, and used lucrative tax loopholes unavailable to most Americans.

David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist, said that when Romney ran Bain Capital, a Boston-based private equity firm, he was “involved in outsourcing” jobs and that he has shielded investments in offshore tax havens and kept a now-closed Swiss bank account.

“I’m not suggesting that based on what we know, he’s done anything illegal,” Axelrod said. “But what I am suggesting is that he's taken advantage of every single conceivable tax shelter and loophole that we can see.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) alleged that Romney is trying to distance himself from his record running Bain Capital because of mounting questions about whether the firm advised some companies to lay off U.S. employees and replace them with workers overseas.

“Why is Mitt running away from his company, Bain Capital, like a scalded cat?” the Senate majority whip asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Although Securities and Exchange Commission documents list Romney as CEO of Bain through 2002, Romney insisted in TV interviews last week that he had no active management role at the company after February 1999, when he left to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. Bain’s known involvement with companies that moved jobs overseas came after 1999.

Ed Gillespie, Romney’s campaign adviser, said on “Meet the Press” that outsourcing continues in the current U.S. economy partly because the Obama administration has imposed “excessive regulations” and has insisted on a high corporate tax rate.

He added that the political attacks against Romney’s business record were a “distraction” from more burning issues, like improving the U.S. economy.

“This president will say or do anything to keep the highest office in the land, even if it means demeaning the highest office in the land,” Gillespie said.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) echoed that charge. “This is not the 2008 Barack Obama we thought we were getting,” said Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman and a potential Republican candidate for vice president. “This is not the candidate of hope and change.”

Rather, he said, “This is a candidate who is hoping to change the subject by attacking his opponent with attacks that have already been labeled by independent fact checkers as deceitful and untrue.”

As the campaign aides continued to spar, Obama said that if reelected, he hopes to shore up jobs, end the economic downturn, and give new hope for the middle class.

“The question right now for the American people is which vision, mine or Mr. Romney’s, is most likely to deliver for those folks, because that is where the majority of American people live,” he said.

Both candidates otherwise took the day off. Obama went golfing at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, while Romney attended church in Wolfeboro, N.H., with his wife Ann, his sons Josh and Matt and their children. He spent the day at his family retreat on nearby Lake Winnipesaukee.

Egyptians pelt Clinton motorcade with tomatoes

Hillary Clinton gets the welcome she deserves in Egypt!!


Egyptians pelt Clinton motorcade with tomatoes


By Arshad Mohammed and Marwa Awad

CAIRO (Reuters) - Protesters threw tomatoes and shoes at U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's motorcade on Sunday during her first visit to Egypt since the election of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

A tomato struck an Egyptian official in the face, and shoes and a water bottle landed near the armoured cars carrying Clinton's delegation in the port city of Alexandria.

A senior state department official said that neither Clinton nor her vehicle, which were around the corner from the incident, were struck by any of the projectiles.

Protesters chanted: "Monica, Monica", a reference to Former President Bill Clinton's extra-marital affair. Some chanted: "leave, Clinton", Egyptian security officials said.

It was not clear who the protesters were or what political affiliations they had. Protesters outside Clinton's hotel on Saturday night chanted anti-Islamist slogans, accusing the United States of backing the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power.

The assault on her motorcade came on a day Clinton spoke at the newly re-opened U.S. consulate in Alexandria, addressing accusations the United States, which had long supported former President Hosni Mubarak, of backing one faction or another in Egypt following his ouster last year.

"I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which of course we cannot," Clinton said.

Clinton also met the country's top general, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, on Sunday to discuss Egypt's turbulent democratic transition as the military wrestles for influence with the new president.


The meeting came a day after she met Mursi, whose powers were clipped by the military days before he took office.

Mursi fired back by reinstating the Islamist-dominated parliament that the army leadership had disbanded after a court declared it void, deepening the stand-off before the new leader even had time to form a government.

The result has been acute political uncertainty as the various power centres try to find a way to get along in a country that still has no permanent constitution, parliament or government more than a year after Mubarak's downfall.

In their hour-long meeting, Clinton and Tantawi discussed Egypt's political transition and the military's "ongoing dialogue with President Mursi," a U.S. official travelling with Clinton said in an email brief.

"Tantawi stressed that this is what Egyptians need most now - help getting the economy back on track," the official said.

Clinton "stressed the importance of protecting the rights of all Egyptians, including women and minorities".

The talks also touched on the increasingly lawless Sinai region and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Speaking after the meeting, Tantawi said the army respected the presidency but would not be deterred from its role of "protecting" Egypt.

"The armed forces and the army council respects legislative and executive authorities," he said in a speech to troops in the city of Ismailia. "The armed forces would not allow anyone to discourage it from its role in protecting Egypt and its people."


Ties with the United States, which provides Egypt with an annual $1.3 billion in military aid, were strained this year when Egyptian judicial police raided the offices of several U.S.-backed non-governmental organisations on suspicion of illegal foreign funding and put several Americans on trial.

The spat ended when Egyptian authorities allowed the U.S. citizens and other foreign workers to leave the country.

During her speech, Clinton said: "When we talk about supporting democracy, we mean real democracy."

"To us real democracy means that every citizen has the right to live, work and worship as they choose, whether they are man or woman, Christian or Muslim."

"Real democracy means that no group or faction or leader can impose their will, their ideology, their religion, their desires on anyone else."

That was a message she is likely to have repeated in meetings on Sunday with women and Christians, both groups that fear their rights may be curtailed under a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government.

"She wanted, in very, very clear terms, particularly with the Christian group this morning, to dispel that notion and to make clear that only Egyptians can choose their leaders, that we have not supported any candidate, any party, and we will not," a senior U.S. official told reporters.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

No medical pot for PTSD, White House says

Emperor Obama is a drug war tyrant!!!


No medical pot for PTSD, White House says

by Patricia Kime - Jul. 18, 2012 10:31 AM

Military Times

WASHINGTON -- An effort to persuade the Obama administration to legalize marijuana for sufferers of post-traumatic stress has met with a sound rejection from the White House.

Responding to a petition signed by 8,258 people on the White House website, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske wrote last month that marijuana is not a "benign drug" and does not meet standards of safe or effective medicine.

"When the President took office, he directed all his policymakers to develop policies on science and research, not ideology or politics," Kerlikowske wrote.

The White House usually requires 25,000 signatures before it will respond to such petitions.

The "Allow United States Disabled Military Veterans Access To Medical Marijuana To Treat Their PTSD" petition was launched last year by former Air Force Sgt. Mike Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.

Krawitz said he launched the drive partially out of concern that veterans sometimes risk losing their Veterans Affairs Department medical coverage if they are found to smoke pot.

"For many, cannabis not only treats PTSD, it's a lifesaver," Krawitz told Military Times in October.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for medicinal purposes, but it remains illegal under federal law.

The Obama administration has held steadfast in enforcing federal laws applicable to medical marijuana production, sales and distribution. Kerlikowske said the administration maintains that marijuana use is associated with cognitive impairment, respiratory illnesses and addiction.

"We know from an array of treatment admission information and federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms," he wrote.

He added that the administration supports research on the phytochemicals in marijuana that might have medicinal value.

Politics - It's all hot air and BS!!!!

Most politicians will lie and says anything to get your vote.

Of course once elected they will keep all the promises they made to the special interest groups that helped them get elected and break all the promises they made to the voters that get in the way of helping the special interest groups that helped get them into power.


A vacuous squabble over outsourcing

Perhaps I’m just getting old and grumpy, but this presidential campaign seems particularly vacuous.

Take the squabble over outsourcing that has taken over the debate.

This sorry saga actually begins with Mitt Romney claiming that, under President Barack Obama, China has cleaned the United State’s clock in trade and he would get tough with it if elected.

Every presidential challenger since Bill Clinton has vowed to get tough with China if elected. And when elected, every one has turned into a pussycat.

If Romney is elected, it is to be expected, and hoped, that he would do the same. If Romney actual did what he says he would do regarding China, the U.S. manufacturing and retail sectors would openly revolt.

The reason tough-talking presidential candidates wilt when taking office is because there are too many large unintended consequences to the kind of aggressive action candidates without actual governing responsibilities can casually threaten on the campaign circuit. And because, more than any other country in the post-World War II era, China doesn’t care what the U.S. thinks. It’s not a country over which the U.S. has much influence or leverage.

Lately, Obama has been trying to make a very big deal of Bain Capital, which Romney founded and led, investing in companies that allegedly outsourced American jobs to foreign countries, including China.

There has been a lot of unproductive back and forth about whether Romney was calling the shots at Bain when these investments were made. But in a sane world, this would be a huge yawner.

Bain is an investment company. I can’t imagine there is a single U.S. investment firm that hasn’t made big bets in emerging markets. The growth in emerging markets was, and is, the economic trend of our time.

Nevertheless, the Obama campaign calls Romney the outsourcer-in-chief. Romney’s campaign responds that it’s really Obama, because of all the stimulus money that went to foreign firms and operations.

Now Obama is clutching a silly study that purportedly says that Romney’s corporate income tax reform would produce 800,000 jobs in foreign countries and none in the United States. That’s supposedly because Romney would eliminate U.S. taxes on foreign earnings for U.S. companies.

That happens to be the norm among developed countries. The United States stand virtually alone in taxing money not earned domestically. However, the U.S. defers the taxes as long as the money remains deployed in other countries, creating a disincentive for repatriating the earnings.

Romney’s proposal to eliminate taxation on foreign earnings is hardly unusual or extreme. In fact, Obama’s own debt commission recommended the same thing.

Instead, Obama proposes that a minimum tax be imposed on the foreign earnings of U.S. corporations irrespective of whether they are repatriated. In other words, he wants to put U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage in foreign markets. How that would create jobs in the United States is unclear, to put it generously. The evidence suggests that the success of U.S. firms in foreign markets creates domestic jobs.

The loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States has been a dislocating experience. One of the major bridges to the middle class for those without a college education has been eroded.

But blaming trade or those who invest in emerging markets is neither accurate nor productive.

The United States continues to make and export more stuff. Manufacturing exports have steadily grown at a healthy pace. Technology innovations simply allow us to do it with far fewer people. And our imports have grown even more rapidly than our exports.

That’s not surprising, since the U.S. has the most robust consumer market in the world. Nor is it likely to change, unless there is a significant restoration of a savings ethic in this country. Neither candidate is talking about that, however, since it temporarily would create slower (but more sustainable) GDP and job growth.

The emergence of a large, state-directed economy such as China in international trade and the dislocating effect of the loss of American manufacturing jobs are big issues.

The discussion of them in the presidential campaign is small.

Why gun lovers still fear President Obama


Why gun lovers still fear President Obama

by Darrem Samuelsohn - Jul. 19, 2012 06:51 AM


President Barack Obama hasn't done much of anything to curb Americans' gun rights.

Despite his 2008 campaign pledges, he hasn't pushed to reinstate the assault weapons ban. And he hasn't tried to force background checks on people who buy firearms from unlicensed dealers at gun shows.

In fact, he's barely said a word about guns during his presidency, other than urging "the beginning of a new discussion" on the issue after then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot.

But the National Rifle Association and many gun enthusiasts still deeply distrust and fear him.

The powerful gun rights group -- which is setting aside at least $40 million to defeat Obama in November -- claims he would gut the Second Amendment in his second term through a series of domestic or international moves that he's been hesitant to advance over the past three-plus years.

Gun and ammunition sales, which rocketed when Obama took office, are again on the rise as owners stockpile weaponry in part because they're afraid those won't be available if he wins reelection, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade group.

"He's his own stimulus plan for the gun industry," Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said.

"I get the [NRA] magazine. I think he's on the cover nine out of 10 times," added Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska).

There is no more dramatic illustration of gun owners' disdain for Obama than the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal.

The NRA and its political allies have used the botched operation to rile up their base, claiming the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives purposefully allowed guns to land in the hands of Mexican drug cartels as a way for Obama to push new gun restrictions, including the assault weapons ban. The NRA scored the contempt vote in the House last month against Attorney General Eric Holder.

In 2008, the NRA went after Obama with a $15 million ad campaign aimed at gun enthusiasts in a dozen swing states, plus $25 million more for member communications about the election. A similar plan for the next four months is expected to revive Obama's four-year-old comment that Americans in rural and poor parts of the country "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion."

"A lot of people are still angry about that statement," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said.

The NRA has its 2008 campaign website and is ready for round two with a widely circulated flier listing "Ten Reasons Why Obama Is Bad News For The Second Amendment."

In an election likely to be decided by which candidate has a more energized base, conservatives say gun issues could have an outsized impact in critical swing states such as Colorado, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the NRA has a large membership base.

"It's not the money. It's the message. Educated, pissed-off, angry gun owners vote. And that's what they do. Educate. Get them to the polls," said Richard Feldman, a former NRA lobbyist and president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association.

Gun rights enthusiasts are especially worried about the possibility of Supreme Court vacancies, saying that any additional Obama appointees could potentially overturn the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller ruling that affirmed an individual's rights to have gun in the home.

Obama's opponents also are on alert over U.N. negotiations scheduled to conclude at the end of July over a new treaty that could tighten controls on the international import, export and transfer of conventional arms.

Administration officials insist the accord would not undercut the Second Amendment or U.S. gun laws. Still, the lack of details has the right on edge. Conservative blogs have dedicated significant attention to the negotiations. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told the U.N. last week that the treaty must eliminate all references to civilian firearms.

Yet none of these issues approach the furor over Fast and Furious, the scandal Republicans say will help them at the polls after Obama invoked executive privilege to block the disclosure of some Justice Department documents.

Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly, whose Northern Virginia district houses NRA headquarters, said the GOP-led investigation is a "cynical ploy to exploit a tragic death from a program whose antecedent was in the Bush administration."

"People view it as a really horrible screw-up for which people need to be held accountable when you have Brian Terry dead," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), referring to the U.S. Border Patrol agent killed in 2010.

The Conservative Caucus in an ad published Wednesday in the Washington Times offered a $100,000 reward to any whistleblower who can provide "Verifiable Evidence of White House Involvement" in Fast and Furious. "This is your opportunity to save yourself before Operation Fast & Furious comes crashing down like Watergate," the ad reads, offering a toll-free number.

GOP pollster Whit Ayres said Obama's record on Fast and Furious and other gun issues continues to resonate. He also cited an August 2010 survey he conducted for the NRA of 800 gun owners: 76 percent said the president was "anti-gun."

"That's about all you need to know about what gun owners think of the president and how energized they're likely to be," Ayres said. "I've rarely seen a politician rated more negatively by a large group of Americans than Barack Obama is among gun owners."

Obama has taken pains not to upset gun enthusiasts.

He has backed away from several of his 2008 campaign promises on the issue, including a repeal of a longstanding Republican-sponsored budget rider requiring the destruction of background check records and prohibiting the public disclosure of crime gun trace data. Obama hasn't pushed for legislation to close the so-called "gun show loophole" that permits unlicensed private firearm sellers to skip the background checks and reporting requirements that registered gun dealers must deal with.

The White House hasn't tried to reauthorize a Bill Clinton-era ban on semi-automatic assault weapons that lapsed during the George W. Bush administration.

Obama has even signed laws permitting Amtrak passengers to carry guns in their checked baggage and to carry loaded, concealed guns when visiting national parks and wildlife refuges.

Unlike Clinton, Obama hasn't sought major new gun laws in the wake of major acts of gun violence. After the January 2011 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left six people dead and 13 others injured, including Giffords, Obama made no public address specifically on the issue of guns. Instead, he called for more rigorous enforcement of current gun laws in an Arizona Daily Star op-ed that reiterated his support for the Second Amendment as the Supreme Court-affirmed "law of the land."

"The fact is, almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible," Obama wrote. "They're our friends and neighbors. They buy their guns legally and use them safely, whether for hunting or target shooting, collection or protection. And that's something that gun-safety advocates need to accept. Likewise, advocates for gun owners should accept the awful reality that gun violence affects Americans everywhere, whether on the streets of Chicago or at a supermarket in Tucson."

Inside his administration, the word from up top is to stay away from gun talk. After Holder told reporters in February 2009 that the administration would push to reinstate the assault weapons ban, Rahm Emanuel, then White House chief of staff, sent a message to DOJ that Holder should "shut the f---- up" about guns, according to Newsweek special correspondent Daniel Klaidman's 2012 book "Kill or Capture."

Obama's caution has done little to placate gun-safety advocates.

In 2009, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave Obama an "F" for his gun record. The group has met with Obama since, but it still is frustrated. "I can tell you we're very disappointed with his lack of leadership on this issue," Brady Campaign President Dan Gross said.

Democrats insist Obama isn't scared of the gun lobby. "Absolutely not," said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz , chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and one of Giffords' closest friends.

Wasserman Schultz said Obama had "done a good job on guns" but insisted in an interview that his focus has rightly been on the economy.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a gun owner and tea party favorite, said Obama's support for the Second Amendment smells of politics. "He's focusing on pandering to voters and not splitting off votes," DeMint said. "He's going to stay away from gun rights. It's a loser for him if he goes one way or another. It splits his base. The less said the better is probably good for him politically. But those of us who've watched him know he's certainly not friendly to the Second Amendment."

Fears over Obama's intentions on guns seem to be driving more conservatives to become politically engaged than Mitt Romney's record on the issue.

In Romney's 1994 Senate campaign, he said he didn't line up with the NRA. As Massachusetts governor, he signed a state assault weapons ban but had backing from the gun lobby because it allowed people to appeal a denial of a gun permit. Romney also approved increasing gun license fees from $25 to $100, though he pressed Democratic lawmakers to raise it to $75.

As Romney prepared for his first presidential run in 2006, he signed up as a lifetime NRA member. During the 2008 campaign, he answered a debate question by saying he'd been hunting for "small varmints." He shared more about his outdoor exploits during another GOP debate in January when he talked about hunting for pheasant and elk during a trip in Montana.

In April, Romney told the annual NRA conference that Obama's Second Amendment attacks haven't come through the front door.

"The right to bear arms is so plainly stated, so unambiguous, that liberals have a hard time challenging it directly," Romney said. "Instead, they've been employing every imaginable ploy to restrict it."

Romney warned the gun crowd to be mindful of Obama's Supreme Court picks, a point emphasized again this month by campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

"Governor Romney will protect the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, and he will appoint justices who will do the same," she said.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt defended the president's record on gun issues while challenging Romney over his own background. "The president's record makes clear that he supports and respects the Second Amendment, and we'll fight back against any attempts to mislead voters," LaBolt said. "Mitt Romney is going to have difficulty explaining why he quadrupled fees on gun owners in Massachusetts, then claimed falsely that he was a lifelong hunter in an act of shameless pandering. That varmint won't hunt."

Some Democrats and gun-safety advocates shrug off the NRA efforts, calling the group a wing of the GOP that doesn't have much political potency. After all, 11 of the 13 states that the group targeted with attack ads in 2008 still went for Obama.

"You're talking rabid far-right extremists who aren't going to vote for Obama for a number of issues," Gross said.

But Connolly said the NRA has influence over the political debate -- even if it lacks a solid record of knocking off Democrats.

"Sadly, what has taken hold here in Congress is that they are all-powerful and therefore you dare not cross them," Connolly said. The Republic is a member of the Politico network

Obama - Successful people owe their success to the government

Successful people owe their success to the government.

Yea, if you believe that I have some land I want to sell you in Florida.

This editorial by Michael Barone seems to say that Barack Obama thinks the only reason people are successful in America is because they received help from the government.

I suspect Obama knows that is a crock of BS. But then Obama uses that to justify the government's theft of successful people's income.

You know, if the government gave successful people the money, then it has the right to steal the money back. So I guess Emperor Obama thinks we are dumb enough to believe that justifies his governments stealing 90+ percent of rich people income.


Obama Believes Success Is a Gift From Government

Posted: July 19, 2012 in Featured, Political

Perhaps the rain made the teleprompter unreadable. That’s one thought I had on pondering Barack Obama’s comments to a rain-soaked rally in Roanoke, Va., last Friday.

Perhaps he didn’t really mean what he said. Or perhaps — as is often the case with people — when unanchored from a prepared text he revealed what he really thinks.

“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back,” he began, defending his policy of higher tax rates on high earners. “They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

In other words, Steve Jobs didn’t make Apple happen. It was the work of a teacher union member — er, great teacher — and the government agencies that paved I-280 and El Camino Real that made Apple happen.

High earners don’t deserve the money they make, Obama apparently thinks. It’s the gift of government, and they shouldn’t begrudge handing more of it back to government.

And that’s true, as he told Charlie Gibson of ABC News in 2008, even if those higher tax rates produce less revenue for the government, as has been the case with rate increases on capital gains. The government should take away the money as a matter of “fairness.”

The cynical might dismiss Obama’s preoccupation with higher tax rates as an instance of a candidate dwelling on one of his few proposals that tests well in the polls. Certainly he doesn’t want to talk much about Obamacare or the stimulus package.

Cynics might note that he spurned super-committee Republicans’ willingness last year to reduce tax deductions so as to actually increase revenue from high earners, without discouraging investment or encouraging tax avoidance as higher tax rates do.

But maybe Obama’s Captain-Ahab-like pursuit of higher tax rates just comes from a sense that no one earns success and that there’s no connection between effort and reward.

That kind of thinking also helps to explain the approach taken by Sen. Patty Murray in a speech at the Brookings Institution Monday. She wants a tax rate increase on high earners so badly she said she’d prefer raising everyone’s taxes next year to maintaining current rates.

Murray was first elected in 1992 as a state legislator who had been dismissed by a lobbyist as “just a mom in tennis shoes.” But in 20 years she’s become an accomplished appropriator and earmarker.

“Do no harm,” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told members of Congress at a hearing yesterday, urging them to avoid the sharp spending cuts and tax rate increases scheduled for year’s end.

But Murray is threatening to do exactly that kind of harm. Those prattling about how irresponsible Republicans are might want to ponder her threat.

And to consider that Republicans remember what happened to the last Republican who agreed to such rate increases, George H.W. Bush in 1990. Seeking re-election in 1992, he won only 37 percent of the vote. Republicans won’t risk that again.

The Obama Democrats seem to believe that there’s no downside risk in threatening huge tax increases for everyone and in asserting that if you’re successful “someone else made that happen.”

But The Wall Street Journal’s Catherine McCain Nelson reported yesterday how affluent Denver suburbanites have soured on Obama. Obama tied John McCain 49 to 49 percent among voters over $100,000 income in 2008, but in NBC/WSJ polls this year they’ve favored Mitt Romney 50 to 44 percent.

Affluent voters trended Democratic over two decades on cultural issues. But economic issues dominate this year, and they may not appreciate Obama’s assertion that they don’t deserve what they’ve earned.

Did the state make you great?

More on Obama's nonsense that people are successful because of government!


Did the state make you great?

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: July 19

“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

— Barack Obama,

And who might that somebody else be? Government, says Obama. It built the roads you drive on. It provided the teacher who inspired you. It “created the Internet.” It represents the embodiment of “we’re in this together” social solidarity that, in Obama’s view, is the essential origin of individual and national achievement.

To say that all individuals are embedded in and the product of society is banal. Obama rises above banality by means of fallacy: equating society with government, the collectivity with the state. Of course we are shaped by our milieu. But the most formative, most important influence on the individual is not government. It is civil society, those elements of the collectivity that lie outside government: family, neighborhood, church, Rotary club, PTA, the voluntary associations that Tocqueville understood to be the genius of America and source of its energy and freedom.

Moreover, the greatest threat to a robust, autonomous civil society is the ever-growing Leviathan state and those like Obama who see it as the ultimate expression of the collective.

Obama compounds the fallacy by declaring the state to be the font of entrepreneurial success. How so? It created the infrastructure — roads, bridges, schools, Internet — off which we all thrive.

Absurd. We don’t credit the Swiss postal service with the Special Theory of Relativity because it transmitted Einstein’s manuscript to the Annalen der Physik. Everyone drives the roads, goes to school, uses the mails. So did Steve Jobs. Yet only he created the Mac and the iPad.

Obama’s infrastructure argument is easily refuted by what is essentially a controlled social experiment. Roads and schools are the constant. What’s variable is the energy, enterprise, risk-taking, hard work and genius of the individual. It is therefore precisely those individual characteristics, not the communal utilities, that account for the different outcomes.

The ultimate Obama fallacy, however, is the conceit that belief in the value of infrastructure — and willingness to invest in its creation and maintenance — is what divides liberals from conservatives.

More nonsense. Infrastructure is not a liberal idea, nor is it particularly new. The Via Appia was built 2,300 years ago. The Romans built aqueducts, too. And sewers. Since forever, infrastructure has been consensually understood to be a core function of government.

The argument between left and right is about what you do beyond infrastructure. It’s about transfer payments and redistributionist taxation, about geometrically expanding entitlements, about tax breaks and subsidies to induce actions pleasing to central planners. It’s about free contraceptives for privileged students and welfare without work — the latest Obama entitlement-by-decree that would fatally undermine the great bipartisan welfare reform of 1996. It’s about endless government handouts that, ironically, are crowding out necessary spending on, yes, infrastructure.

What divides liberals and conservatives is not roads and bridges but Julia’s world, an Obama campaign creation that may be the most self-revealing parody of liberalism ever conceived. It’s a series of cartoon illustrations in which a fictional Julia is swaddled and subsidized throughout her life by an all- giving government of bottomless pockets and “Queen for a Day” magnanimity. At every stage, the state is there to provide — preschool classes and cut-rate college loans, birth control and maternity care, business loans and retirement. The only time she’s on her own is at her grave site.

Julia’s world is totally atomized. It contains no friends, no community and, of course, no spouse. Who needs one? She’s married to the provider state.

Or to put it slightly differently, the “Life of Julia” represents the paradigmatic Obama political philosophy: citizen as orphan child. For the conservative, providing for every need is the duty that government owes to actual orphan children. Not to supposedly autonomous adults.

Beyond infrastructure, the conservative sees the proper role of government as providing not European-style universal entitlements but a firm safety net, meaning Julia-like treatment for those who really cannot make it on their own — those too young or too old, too mentally or physically impaired, to provide for themselves.

Limited government so conceived has two indispensable advantages. It avoids inexorable European-style national insolvency. And it avoids breeding debilitating individual dependency. It encourages and celebrates character, independence, energy, hard work as the foundations of a free society and a thriving economy — precisely the virtues Obama discounts and devalues in his accounting of the wealth of nations.

Mitt Romney is a gun grabber just like Barack Obama!!!!

Sounds like Romney is a gun grabber just like Obama

"Romney signed a ban on assault weapons as Massachusetts governor. But as the presumptive Republican nominee, he now bills himself as the candidate who will protect gun owners' rights."

Jesus those crooks will say anything to get elected.

Last with a gun grabber like Romeny running for President how can the NRA support him over a true pro-gun candidate like the Libertarian candidate for President.


Obama, Romney views have evolved toward gun rights

Associated PressBy CONNIE CASS | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney both have softened their positions on gun restrictions over the years. As they expressed shock and sorrow over the bloodshed at a Colorado movie theater, neither suggested that tougher gun control could make a difference, a notion that has faded from political debate.

Romney signed a ban on assault weapons as Massachusetts governor. But as the presumptive Republican nominee, he now bills himself as the candidate who will protect gun owners' rights.

Obama called for reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons during his 2008 presidential campaign. But since his election, he hasn't sought to get that done or pushed other gun control proposals, either.

Neither man is likely to raise gun control as a campaign issue — beyond Romney's insistence that an Obama presidency is bad for gun owners. Both say they'll protect the Second Amendment right to bear arms. A look at the evolution of the candidates' positions and where they stand on guns:


1997-2004: As an Illinois state senator, Obama supports banning all forms of semiautomatic weapons and tighter state restrictions generally on firearms, including a failed effort to limit handgun purchases to one per month.

2005: In the U.S. Senate, Obama votes against protecting firearms makers and dealers from lawsuits over misuse of their products by others. The bill is signed into law by President George W. Bush.

2008: During his first presidential campaign, Obama supports a return to the federal ban on assault weapons, which began during the Clinton administration and expired under Bush. He also endorses requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows. The National Rifle Association attacks him as an anti-gun zealot — a stand the group continues to take today.

April 2008: Obama is criticized for elitism after sounding dismissive of gun owners in a talk to campaign donors. He said voters in struggling small towns in Middle America "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them" to explain their frustrations.

September 2008: Obama seeks to reassure gun owners: "I believe in people's lawful right to bear arms. ... There are some common-sense gun safety laws that I believe in. But I am not going to take your guns away." Nonetheless, gun sales go up when Obama wins, apparently because of fear that new restrictions are imminent under his administration.

2009: As president, Obama signs a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons in the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and other national parks and wildlife refuges and another that lets people carry guns in their checked bags on Amtrak trains.

2010: The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives Obama a grade of "F'' for failing to push even the gun restrictions he supported while campaigning.

2011: Obama says the shooting that severely wounded then-Rep. Gabriel Giffords, D-Ariz., and killed six people should lead to "a new discussion of how we can keep America safe for all our people." He calls for "sound and effective steps" to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, including strengthening background checks on gun buyers. But he's short on specifics, and the Obama administration hasn't proposed any new gun initiatives since then.

March 2012: Obama calls the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida "a tragedy," saying Americans should do some soul-searching and "examine the laws" to figure out why it happened. He hasn't called for any legal changes in response to the case, which mostly brought attention to some states' "stand your ground" laws making it easier for a shooter to claim self-defense. Indeed, most gun regulations are imposed by states. The primary federal law is the Brady law requiring background checks on firearms purchasers.

July 20: Obama says he's heartbroken by the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre and calls for Americans to unite in prayer for the victims: "If there's anything to take away from this tragedy it's the reminder that life is very fragile, our time here is limited and it is precious."

Asked whether the mass shooting should prompt a new review of gun laws, White House spokesman Jay Carney declines to comment beyond reiterating Obama's existing stance in support of "common-sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights of Americans, while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing law do not get them."



1994: In his unsuccessful challenge to liberal Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Romney sounds moderate on guns, supporting an assault weapons ban and insisting, "I don't line up with the NRA."

2002: Running for governor of Massachusetts, Romney says he supports and will protect the state's "tough gun laws." The NRA gives his Democratic opponent a higher rating on gun-rights issues and makes no endorsement in the race.

2003: As governor, Romney upsets gun owners by signing a law that quadruples the state's gun-licensing fee — from $25 to $100 — as part of a widespread effort to eliminate the budget deficit.

2004: Romney signs a Massachusetts ban on assault weapons. He mollifies many gun rights advocates by coupling it with looser rules on gun licenses and an extension of the duration of licenses, reducing the effect of the earlier fee increase.

2005: Declares May 7 as "Right to Bear Arms Day" in Massachusetts.

2006: As he prepares for his first presidential run, Romney becomes a lifetime NRA member.

2007: While campaigning, Romney declares he sometimes hunts "small varmints" — a comment ridiculed by some as an awkward attempt to pander to pro-gun voters.

2008: In a Republican primary debate, Romney says he would have signed the federal assault weapons ban if it came to his desk as president, but he opposes any new gun legislation.

2011: Making his second presidential bid, Romney's campaigns on a promise to protect and promote the Second Amendment.

2012: Romney tells gun owners that Obama wants to erode their rights. "We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners," Romney told the National Rifle Association's annual convention. "President Obama has not. I will."

July 20: Like Obama, Romney avoids talking politics on the day of the Aurora shooting. He says Americans are coming together in their sorrow: "There is something we can do. We can offer comfort to someone near us who is suffering or heavy laden, and we can mourn with those who mourn in Colorado."

Rob Robb on "Did the state make you great?"

More on Obama's comment that successful people owe their success to the government.


Obama inadvertently frames campaign

From the political notebook:

* Barack Obama may have inadvertently framed the presidential campaign with remarks he made while campaigning in Virginia a little over a week ago.

In making his usual case that successful people haven’t become that way on their own, Obama used a formulation that will be endlessly repeated and parsed for the remainder of the political season. This is the official White House transcript of what he said:

“Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

There’s been more attention to the word “that” in that formulation than to any word since Bill Clinton pondered the deeper epistemological mystery of “is”.

Republicans pounced on the statement, claiming that the “that” refers to “business” and Obama was saying business owners didn’t build their own businesses.

I think that’s nonsense. From Obama’s delivery, the “that” pretty clearly refers to “roads and bridges” in the previous sentence.

But it doesn’t really matter. The entire riff was a denigration of the centrality of individual initiative in individual achievement. According to Obama, people don’t succeed because they are smart and hardworking. That’s not what distinguishes those who succeed from those who don’t. He said that pretty plainly.

Now, there’s a certain amount of truism to what Obama is saying. Individuals do depend on living and working within a system in which individual initiative can matter. And that system is, for the most part, collectively provided through government. But it’s fatuous for him to suggest this is something that somehow divides the parties.

The Ryan budget would increase federal spending from $3.6 trillion to $4.9 trillion over 10 years. At the end of the 10 years, federal spending would still be 20 percent of GDP. That’s still a whole lot of collective providing.

But it’s becoming increasingly clear that Obama believes that what we do collectively is at least as important to our success as what we do individually, perhaps more so.

That’s not the way Americans have historically viewed themselves or their country. Downplaying the role of individual initiative in individual achievement goes against our grain.

This could be a very big deal.

* I doubt that Republicans are going to get very far in their efforts to convince judges to invalidate the redistricting maps adopted by the Independent Redistricting Commission. But they have produced some very strong circumstantial evidence that the lines were finagled to favor Democrats.

All districts are supposed to have the same population. On the congressional map, the IRC hit the mark on the button. For the legislative map, there were some substantial deviations and there was a distinct pattern to the deviations.

Of the 12 districts with less than the average in population, 10 have a Democratic plurality in registration. Of the 18 districts that are overpopulated, 16 have a Republican plurality.

So, the effect of the population deviations is to stuff more Republicans in Republican districts, advantaging Democrats in the remainder.

The IRC in its court response claims this is to create more districts where Latinos can influence the outcome. The Republican statistical analysis, however, convincingly disputes this, leaving the partisan effect as the primary outcome.

The map still tilts Republican, which is inevitable so long as the Voting Rights Act requires racial gerrymandering. But the Democratic pickup from the population deviations could amount to 3,000 votes or so in some districts.

Courts tend to turn a blind eye to finagling the lines for partisan advantage so long as minority voting strength isn’t weakened in the process.

But the partisan effect of the population deviations makes the IRC’s claim of political neutrality hard to accept.

* In ordering Secretary of State Ken Bennett to process the signatures for the sales tax initiative, Judge Robert Oberbillig reportedly said that the case was “silly.” That suggests a judge that didn’t seriously consider the important legal issue at stake. Bennett owes it to the state to appeal to some judges who might.

State law requires that, before an initiative is circulated, proponents fill out an application provided by the Secretary of State that includes the text of the initiative. The application is only available in paper form. Proponents of the sales tax initiative filled out that paper form and included a paper copy of the text of the initiative.

They also gave the Secretary of State an electronic version of the initiative that differed materially. They then circulated the electronic version rather than the version that was officially filed in compliance with state law.

According to Oberbillig, Bennett should have just ignored the version that was filed with the paper application. He cited no constitutional or statutory authority for Bennett to do so.

Whether an official text of an initiative has to be filed before being circulated and what constitutes the official text aren’t silly matters.

Obama using the Colorado murders to get reelected in 2012?

Vote for me, because those Colorado murders have made me much sadder then they will ever make Mitt Romney. Or at least that what I suspect the Obama line of BS will sound like.


Obama mourns with Colorado community looking for answers

By Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY

AURORA, Colo. – President Obama visited Sunday with families of the victims of the movie-theater massacre and some of the survivors as the suburban community mourned its losses and investigators tried to find a motive for one of the worst cases of gun violence in U.S. history.

President Obama speaks Sunday at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colo., following a visit with victims and family members of Friday's shootings.

"Words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but my main task is to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know we are thinking about them and will continue to think about them each and every day," Obama said. "The awareness that not only all of America but much of the world is thinking of them might serve as some comfort.''

Obama went to the University of Colorado hospital here, where 23 of the 70 victims were treated. He praised a "magnificent'' effort by local police and singled out the story of one young woman's heroic action to stop a wounded friend's bleeding as the gunman continued firing.

Twelve people were killed and 58 more were injured in the attack inside a crowded movie theater. Police Chief Dan Oates said the man being held in the shooting, James Holmes, 24, was not cooperating with authorities. "He lawyered up. He's not talking to us," Oates said.

A recent dropout from a neuroscience graduate program, Holmes has been assigned a public defender. He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance today.

Holmes, taken into custody outside the theater early Friday morning, is being held without bond in solitary confinement on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder.

Oates said it may take months for police, FBI and behavioral analysts to determine a motive for the bloody rampage in a theater filled for a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

In San Diego, where Holmes graduated from high school, Jerry Borgie, pastor at Peñasquitos Lutheran Church, recalled Holmes as "a little on the shy side."

"I don't think that he had a lot of friends,'' Borgie said.

"It's sickening that somebody could just do that," said Brian Pettee, 35, who attended an evening vigil for the victims with his son Austin, 14. It was held at Aurora Municipal Center, within sight of the theater.

A Spiteful New Policy at Guantánamo Bay


A Spiteful New Policy at Guantánamo Bay

Published: July 22, 2012

The Obama administration’s latest overuse of executive authority at Guantánamo Bay is a decision not to let lawyers visit clients in detention under terms that have been in place since 2004. Because these meetings pose little risk and would send a message about America’s adherence to the rule of law, the administration looks as if it is imperiously punishing detainees for their temerity in bringing legal challenges to their detention and losing.

In one case, the administration is saying that the Yemeni national Yasin Qasem Muhammad Ismail no longer has the right to meet with his counsel, David Remes, because his plea to be released was “terminated.” The Justice Department will only let them meet, it said in an e-mail to Mr. Remes, if he signs a new memorandum giving the government what Mr. Remes calls “absolute authority over access to counsel.”

A military officer would decide each time whether lawyer and client could meet. Mr. Remes could not use classified information he developed for the client without permission. He could not share what he learned from his client with other lawyers of detainees, as he could previously. He could not use it to help defend his client against criminal charges if the government brings them. He could not advocate for him with human rights groups.

Mr. Remes refused to sign. He and colleagues filed a motion this month with the federal magistrate handling disputes about lawyer-client visits at Guantánamo Bay. They argue that while their client is detained, “he retains the right to pursue any available legal avenues to obtain his release” and without “a full and fair opportunity to meet with counsel in a confidential privileged setting,” his “right to challenge his detention” means nothing.

Four years after the Supreme Court ruled that “the privilege of habeas corpus entitles the prisoner to a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that he is being held pursuant to ‘the erroneous application or interpretation’ of relevant law,” the government may be calculating that it can decide what “meaningful” means.

But if the wars where detainees were captured have been to defend American interests, surely the country has an interest in an unequivocal commitment to the rule of law, including full legal representation for detainees.

Obama uses shooting to get reelected???


Obama visits Colorado to console victims' families

Jul. 22, 2012 03:13 PM

Associated Press

AURORA, Colo. -- President Barack Obama arrived in Colorado to deal with the horror of the movie theater massacre in in person Sunday, making a brief stop in a shattered town to comfort families of the victims senselessly gunned down while viewing a blockbuster movie.

Air Force One touched down late Sunday afternoon at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, where two of the shooting victims were stationed.

The impossible-to-understand killings -- apparently the work of an unhinged former doctoral student -- briefly silenced the presidential campaign over the weekend. Both Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney cut short their schedules late last week and closed down their television advertising in Colorado out of respect for the victims and their families.

"We need to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address.

The president planned just a brief visit to Aurora -- a bit under 2 1/2 hours -- during which he was also scheduled to meet with local officials in the Denver suburb, where the shots rang out at a multiplex theater early Friday. Twelve of the victims died, 58 were injured.

"I think the president coming in is a wonderful gesture," said Aurora's mayor, Steve Hogan. "He's coming in, really, to have private conversations with the families. I think that's totally appropriate."

Hogan told ABC television's "This Week" that it "certainly means a lot to Aurora to know that the president cares."

After the Colorado stop, Obama is flying to San Francisco, where on Monday he'll begin a previously scheduled three-day campaign trip that includes a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nevada, multiple fundraisers in California, Oregon and Washington state, and a speech to the National Urban League convention in New Orleans.

Aides said Obama received updates Saturday from his homeland security adviser, John Brennan, on the investigation into the shooting and the attempts by authorities to gain access to the suspect's apparently booby-trapped apartment.

For Obama, the Colorado visit was to be his second to the state in just over three weeks. Last month, he flew to Colorado Springs to share the pain of homeowners whose houses had been turned to charred heaps by a record outbreak of wildfires.

Obama and Romney used previously scheduled campaign appearances on Friday to focus attention on the need for national unity in the aftermath of the shootings. Their campaign teams rescheduled Sunday television news show appearances by top aides and surrogates, essentially providing a break in what has been an increasingly negative campaign.

The Colorado rampage injected a new tone into the campaign after Obama and Romney had clashed repeatedly over the economy, health care programs for the elderly, and the Republican candidate's tax returns.

Obama was set to start his second day of events in Florida when the shootings occurred, prompting his team to address the violence at a previously scheduled rally in Fort Myers, Florida, and scrapping an event in suburban Orlando. Obama told supporters in Fort Myers that the shootings served as a "reminder that life is very fragile."

"Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it's not the trivial things," he said. "Ultimately, it's how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another."

Romney echoed Obama's call for unity, saying at a previously scheduled event in Bow, New Hampshire, that he joined with the president and first lady in offering condolences for those "whose lives were shattered in a few moments, a few moments of evil in Colorado."

"The answer is that we can come together. We will show our fellow citizens the good heart of the America we know and love," Romney said.

Yet, beyond the calls for a higher purpose, the shootings could raise the profile of gun rights in the presidential campaign, an issue which has played a minor role so far.

As a senator, Obama voted to leave gun makers and dealers open to civil lawsuits, and as an Illinois state lawmaker he supported a ban on all forms of semiautomatic weapons and tighter state restrictions generally on firearms.

Following the killing of six people and wounding of then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011, Obama called for a series of steps to "keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place."

Among those steps was a better federal background check system. The administration said Friday that it has indeed improved the amount and quality of information poured into that system, allowing background checks to be more thorough.

But the administration has offered no detailed, public explanation of how it is following up on all of Obama's previous promises, and it had no comment about any need for new legislation.

Romney backed some gun control measures when he was governor of Massachusetts. When he challenged Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 1994 he declared, "I don't line up with the NRA." In April, Romney told the National Rifle Association, an influential lobbying group representing gun owners, he was a guardian of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That amendment guarantees the right to bear arms.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the Republican candidate believes that the "best way to prevent gun violence is to vigorously enforce our laws."

Obama shovels the BS in Oakland!!!!


Obama stirs supporters, protesters in East Bay

By Josh Richman and Matthew Artz

Posted: 07/23/2012 07:52:00 PM PDT

OAKLAND -- President Barack Obama told about 2,000 adoring supporters he needs a second term to finish delivering on his promises of restoring the American dream for all. [Obama didn't come thru on any of the things he promised during his first campaign, I doubt if we can believe that he will keep any promises he makes now!!!]

"This country was not built from the top down, it was built from the middle class up," he said at Oakland's Fox Theater. "That's how we became the most prosperous nation in the history of this world. That's the path you can choose in this election. And that's why I'm running for a second term as president." [Sorry this country was build by hard working honest people, despite the crooked politicians in the government.]

Supporters paid from $100 to $7,500 each to attend the event, which was the third of three fundraisers he did Monday in the East Bay.

"Frankly, the other side knows they can't sell their ideas, so what they're going to try to do is distort my vision," he said, calling Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney out by name for recent efforts to twist Obama's words about small businesses. [Give me a break, Romney is just as much of a crook as Obama]

"I believe the free market is the greatest source of prosperity in our history," but any business owner will also tell you success requires workers with the right skills and education, and a strong middle class that can buy products and services, Obama said. [Sounds like a repeat of Obama's line that successful people owe their success to government bureaucrats]

"Mr. Romney's plan is to gut these investments just so he can give more tax breaks to millionaires and those who are shipping jobs overseas," he said. "I've got to tell you, Oakland, he is dead wrong.

"There's only one way to grow our economy for the long run. That's what I'm fighting for," Obama said. "I'm running because I believe you can't reduce the deficit ... without asking folks like me who've been incredibly blessed to give up the tax breaks we've enjoyed for a decade.

"I'm running because after a decade of war, it's time to do some nation-building here at home," he said. [Of course Obama didn't mention he is responsible for 3 of those years of war. Nor did Obama say that he is almost a carbon copy clone of Bush who started those wars]

"I told you in 2008 that I wasn't a perfect man and I wouldn't be a perfect president ... but that I would wake up every single day fighting as hard as I can to make your lives a little bit better, because I saw myself in you," he said. "And Oakland, I have kept that promise every day ... I have been thinking about you and fighting as hard as I know how." [Huh??? I though that back in 2008 both Obama and McCain claimed to be the perfect candidates for President who would rescue us from the other guy who was Satan? Like they always claim.]

Obama earlier had addressed about 60 supporters who had paid $35,800 each to attend dinner at the Piedmont home of attorney/activist Quinn Delaney and real estate developer Wayne Jordan; Jordan is among the president's foremost fundraising "bundlers." [OK, now we get to the meat of this article. It's all about MONEY]

There, the president had said the GOP platform calls for tax cuts for the rich and stripping away regulations from Wall Street and corporate polluters. "It's a theory we've tested for a decade and it didn't work."

"This debate plays itself out across the board, on almost every issue," he said, noting that because California isn't a battleground state, many in the audience haven't seen the attack ads that are flying back and forth elsewhere in the country. "I'm comfortable that the American people will make the right choice.

"Americans are strong and they're resilient and they're optimistic about their futures and their kids' futures," he said, although they know of and are concerned about dysfunction in Washington, D.C., and a sluggish economy. "All they want to see is that their leadership shows the same decency and common sense that they try to apply every day in their own lives." [Yea, and were are we going to get that? In the 200+ years of American government we have had noting but a bunch of crooks and thieves in Washington D.C.]

Among those in the dinner crowd were: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; former state Controller and major Obama supporter Steve Westly; prominent Bay Area attorneys Bob Van Nest and Steve Kazan; founder and Alta Partners co-founder Garrett Gruener; philanthropists and cleantech investors Jim and Gretchen Sandler; and real estate investment manager Dorine Streeter.

Obama's visit stirred both his most ardent supporters and fiercest foes. Hundreds of medical cannabis advocates, angry over a recent federal crackdown on dispensaries, marched through downtown Oakland, passing equally thick crowds of Obama fans waiting in line to get into the Fox. [Which reminds me one of the promises Obama broke in his first term was the one to stop jailing medical marijuana patients. And allow gay marriage!]

Medical cannabis advocates are angry with the president for allowing federal prosecutors to shut down dispensaries across California after he had pledged during his first campaign not to target the industry in states where it is legal.

In April, agents raided the Oakland properties of former Oaksterdam University Chief Richard Lee, who bankrolled a failed 2010 state proposition to legalize cannabis. Two weeks ago, prosecutors moved to shut down Oakland's Harborside Health Center, the nation's largest dispensary.

Obama supporters paid little attention to the protesters as they lined up on Broadway to get into the Fox. "It means a lot that the president has come to Oakland where I live and not up in the hills where the millionaires are," Mada Hudson said.

By early evening, most of the cannabis protesters had departed, and more than 100 demonstrators with Occupy Oakland and various anti-war groups had amassed one block from the theater at 19th and Broadway. Several of the protesters covered their faces, and many were standing in Broadway, blocking traffic. They marched to 20th and Telegraph Avenue and later dispersed after the crowd left the Fox Theater.

After traveling to Colorado on Sunday, Obama flew to spend the night at San Francisco's InterContinental Hotel. He flew to Reno on Monday morning for a previously scheduled event, and arrived back at Oakland International Airport at 2:34 p.m.

"This is the first time the president has come to the East Bay, and he told us that he would come, and he acted on his promise," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said, greeting the president at the airport. "This is Obama country; we love him and support him."

The president's motorcade then brought him to the Scottish Rite temple near Lake Merritt for a round-table with about 25 tech leaders, for which tickets cost $35,800 a person; reporters weren't allowed into this event. He went from there to the Piedmont dinner.

Secret Service tells Newport Beach to take a hike!!!


Secret Service won't pay Newport Beach for police at Obama event

By Mike Reicher, Los Angeles Times

July 30, 2012, 2:30 a.m.

A Secret Service official said Newport Beach city administrators are asking the wrong people to pay for police protection at presidential campaign events.

It's the service that is responsible for the candidates' security, not the campaigns, said Max Milien, an agency spokesman. Any cost concerns should be directed to the agency.

Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff billed the campaigns of President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney for police security at their separate fundraisers this year in the city.

Now that the Romney campaign paid its bill, the city is left in the awkward position of trying to collect from Obama.

"We cannot reimburse any agencies," Milien said. "We make that clear from Day 1."

Milien explained that an advance team works with local law enforcement to plan road closures and other measures before a candidate's visit. If the local agency cannot afford to pay for extra security or overtime, the local officials should inform the Secret Service ahead of time, he said.

In that case, Milien said, the Secret Service would seek help from other law enforcement groups — county or state police, for example, who would not charge for the service.

"There is adequate time if an agency cannot assist us and is strapped for manpower," he said, adding that the Secret Service does not have the budget for that type of expense.

Kiff says the Police Department did raise the issue with the Secret Service before the president's visit.

"At that time, our staff was told that the Secret Service would not reimburse the city," Kiff wrote in an email, "and that we should check with the president's campaign or the DNC."

The Romney campaign paid its bill last week, about a month after the city sent its invoice. The Obama bill, on the other hand, was sent in May and has not been paid.

City spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said the city's billing system would be sending past-due notices.

About three weeks ago, the Democratic National Committee contacted the city and told officials to deal with the Secret Service.

The DNC and the Republican National Committee split their Newport Beach event proceeds with the respective campaigns.

"Any local law enforcement organization contacted by the Secret Service to assist in security should discuss matters related to costs and how to effectively manage those costs with the Secret Service," DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell wrote in an email Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Kiff would like the issue to go away.

"I am very tired of this story, but it will have legs again," Kiff wrote in an email to the City Council after the Orange County Register inquired about the Romney campaign's payment.

The city was "honored" to have the president in town, Kiff said, but he viewed the campaign fundraisers as private events.

"Had this been a 'business trip' — if the president came to Newport Beach to talk about one of his policies with our residents — the city would not have sent an invoice," he wrote in an email.

Newport Beach is in strong fiscal shape, with about $98 million in reserves.

The city's Finance Department recently emailed the Obama campaign a reminder about the bill instead of turning to the Secret Service, Finnigan said. City administrators did not return messages asking about their next steps.

Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, a Republican, said, "It's the city's intention to apply its usual policies and send the bill to collections."

Obama spoke at a private home in Corona del Mar in February, and Romney held his May fundraiser at the Balboa Bay Club. The $35,000 bill for Obama was more than three times as much as Romney's. Kiff said the difference was due to the added street closures and additional security requirements for the president.

Costa Mesa police did not bill the Romney campaign for an event this week because it did not require additional police personnel, city spokesman Bill Lobdell said.

"Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" the Obama version?

Remember in the 2008 election when we made fun of war monger and Presidential candidate John McCain for singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of a Beach Boys song.

Sadly Emperor Obama has turned out to be just as much of a war monger as John McCain and in fact in this article President Obama may very well end up bombing Iran.


Panetta, in Israel visit, stresses that U.S. military action against Iran remains an option

By Greg Jaffe, Updated: Wednesday, August 1, 7:30 AM

ASHKELON, Israel — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta stressed Wednesday that if economic sanctions do not compel Iran to end its nuclear program, the United States would have to consider military options to destroy it.

Panetta’s repeated emphasis on pursuing other options if diplomacy fails did not mark a change in policy but gave his remarks a harder edge than his previous statements.

Iran’s quest to possess nuclear technology: Iran said it has made advances in nuclear technology, citing new uranium enrichment centrifuges and domestically made reactor fuel.

His comments came amid deepening concern that Israel could launch a unilateral strike on Iran. They followed a series of visits to Israel by senior Obama administration officials, who are pressing the Israelis to give economic sanctions more time to persuade the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions.

Panetta described the recently imposed economic sanctions as “the toughest Iran has ever faced” and insisted they were working. “The most effective way to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is for the international community to be united, proving to Iran that it will only make itself less secure if it continues to try to pursue a nuclear weapon,” he said.

The defense secretary’s statements also come as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is making the Obama administration’s policy toward Iran a campaign issue. During his visit to Israel this week, Romney used sharp language, saying that “any and all measures” should be considered to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Panetta appeared with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a jointly funded U.S.-Israeli anti-rocket battery in southern Israel, then met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Even as Panetta emphasized the Obama administration’s deep opposition to Iran’s nuclear program and the United States’ close partnership with Israel, the differences in the American and Israeli views regarding the need for urgent military action were clear.

Barak told reporters that the likelihood of sanctions curbing Iranian nuclear ambitions is “very, extremely low” and suggested that the Iranians were stalling for time as they moved quickly to enrich the uranium they would need for a nuclear weapon.

“We have clearly something to lose by this stretch of time on which sanctions and diplomacy takes place because the Iranians are moving forward,” he said, standing next to Panetta.

Netanyahu reiterated that message in a brief statement after his meeting with Panetta. “However forceful our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping them,” Netanyahu said. “Right now, the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program. This must change quickly, because the time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out.”

In remarks that appeared designed to increase pressure on the Iranians and reassure the Israelis, Panetta said repeatedly that the United States had developed military options to thwart the Iranian nuclear program if sanctions fail.

“We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Period,” Panetta said after his meeting with Netanyahu. “And we will exert all options in the effort to ensure that that does not happen.” In his appearance with the Israeli defense minister, Panetta said it was his responsibility to “provide the president with a full range of options, including military options, should diplomacy fail.”

Unlike the U.S. military, the Israel Defense Forces do not have tankers capable of refueling warplanes in flight, nor is Israel’s arsenal of bunker-busting bombs thought to be as effective as that of the United States at taking out deeply buried targets. Those shortcomings could limit the effectiveness of any unilateral action by the Israelis against the Iranian nuclear program.

Panetta spent the morning touring an anti-rocket battery developed by the Israelis with the assistance of the United States and more than $200 million in U.S. aid. Last week, President Obama pledged an additional $70 million to help Israel bolster the Iron Dome system, which is designed to shoot down short-range rockets from Gaza and Lebanon. Panetta called the system a “game changer” for the Israelis and said it had shot down more than 80 percent of the rockets fired in recent months at Israeli cities.

The anti-rocket system would not be effective against longer-range Iranian missiles, which can be countered only with more sophisticated theater missile-defense systems.

A unilateral Israeli strike on the Iranian program would be likely to trigger large reprisal strikes by Iran against Israel and U.S. targets in the Middle East. There would be intense pressure on the Obama administration to provide for Israel’s defense.

Panetta’s quick tour of the Iron Dome system was designed to highlight the close partnership between Israel and the United States.

“This is the strongest alliance that we have . . . and we will continue to strengthen the military relationship,” Panetta said.

Obama administration doesn't to live up to its transparency promise???

Sounds like President Obama is just as much of a police state thug as President Bush was.


Obama administration struggles to live up to its transparency promise, Post analysis shows

By James Ball, Friday, August 3, 8:25 AM

In its first year, the Obama administration vowed an increase in transparency across government, including through the Freedom of Information Act; the proactive release of documents; and the establishment of a new agency to declassify more than 370 million pages of archived material.

Three years later, new evidence suggests that administration officials have struggled to overturn the long-standing culture of secrecy in Washington. Some of these high-profile transparency measures have stalled, and by some measures the government is keeping more secrets than before.

Media organizations and individuals requesting information under FOIA last year were less likely to receive the material than in 2010 at 10 of the 15 Cabinet-level departments, according to an analysis of annual reports of government agencies by The Washington Post.

The federal government was more likely last year than in 2010 to use the act’s exemptions to refuse information. And the government overall had a bigger backlog of requests at the end of 2011 than at the start, due largely to 30,000 more pending requests to the Department of Homeland Security.

The FOIA went into effect in 1967 to provide public access to undisclosed, unclassified federal government information. The law requires the information to be released unless the government determines that it can be withheld under one of nine exemptions.

The Post’s analysis of the handling of FOIA requests comes as the administration and Congress are trying to exert new control over access to government information. A Senate committee last week approved tough legislation aimed at stopping leaks of classified information, and the administration has prosecuted six cases against government employees accused of misusing secret information.

The trends appear to run against the direction set out by the president in the earliest days of his government. On his first full day in office, Jan. 21, 2009, President Obama issued a presidential memo on freedom of information, telling agencies: “The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.”

The early results seemed promising. In 2010, response rates to FOIA requests increased and the use of exemptions to refuse requests fell. Federal departments also reduced the backlog of pending requests.

Since then, the Post analysis shows, progress has stalled and, in the case of most departments, reversed in direction. The analysis showed that the number of requests denied in full due to exemptions rose more than 10 percent last year, to 25,636 from 22,834 the previous year.

Similarly, the pledge to declassify archived material has run into major delays. The National Declassification Center (NDC) was established by the president in December 2009 to review and declassify 371 million pages of material by December 2013.

In its latest progress report, issued last month, the center said that it had completed the review process for 51.1 million pages, less than 14 percent of the total. Of that number, 41.8 million pages were made available to researchers and the public.

The center’s director, Sheryl Senberger, acknowledged in an interview that it will have “issues” meeting the 2013 deadline. She blamed legal complexities and a lack of resources at some agencies.

“I don’t like to admit defeat, so I really absolutely must not say that we will not meet the deadline,” she said. “I would prefer to say that we’re going to show great progress, and we will absolutely accomplish certain steps in our progress. But if a person only associates accomplishment of the goal with all 372 million pages made available to the public — no. ”

Senberger said one reason for the delay is funding. Spending last year on declassification across the government, excluding intelligence agencies, was $52.8 million, according to the Information Security Oversight Office, the federal agency that oversees the classification system. That was less than 1 percent of the budget for classifying material, which rose 12 percent year-on-year to $11.36 billion.

Indeed, while the declassification effort appears certain to miss its deadline, the volume of material being classified jumped 20 percent last year. The oversight office cited better record-keeping as a reason for the increases of recent years.

Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said The Post analysis on FOIA shows that the administration “can be credited or blamed for agency performance only up to a certain point, and no further.”

“It’s all part of a larger picture that warrants attention,” he said. “The NDC piece of it is particularly noteworthy as they were assigned a job by the president, and it looks like they’re not going to complete it, which is a shocking development, or it ought to be.”

Others were more critical. Hina Shamsi, director of the National Security Project for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the administration has failed to live up to its promises to deliver transparent government.

“I think that in the first months President Obama and his administration took some very important and historic steps to provide transparency,” she said. “The reality is that governments generally have a tendency to secrecy, and after initially pledging a new era of transparency, the Obama administration has backtracked in critically important areas. . . . I think it has sent a message through government into the country that is quite disturbing about valuing secrecy in the national security context over transparency.”

Shamsi added: “We recognize that there are genuine instances in which secrecy is both legitimate and necessary. . . . But claims that are too broad in their sweep undermine the very system itself.”

Remember the war in Afghanistan? Obama and Romney don’t seem to

I guess this means I am right about President Barack Obama being just as much of a war monger as President Bush and wanna be Presidential hopeful John McCain.

Sadly Mitt Romney seems to be just as much of a war monger as President Obama.

If you are anti-war don't waste your vote on the Republicans or Democrats. The only party that hasn't screwed you yet is the Libertarian Party. Vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson in the 2012 Presidential Election. And hey, in addition to his desire to want to stop murdering innocent women and children in Afghanistan he wants to legalize pot.


Remember the war in Afghanistan? Obama and Romney don’t seem to.

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Published: August 3

There are still almost 80,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and each month brings a few dozen home in coffins — more than 2,000 since 2001. Hundreds more arrive on medical evacuation flights, many of them without a limb. The war will cost taxpayers more than $100 billion this year. The Taliban, which enjoys sanctuary in nuclear-armed Pakistan, continues to conduct devastating attacks on the Afghan government and the civilian population.

But you wouldn’t know any of it from listening to President Obama and Mitt Romney on the campaign trail. They may not agree on much, but when it comes to the decade-old conflict, they have adopted the same strategy on the stump: Say as little as possible — sometimes not a word — and quickly change the subject.

Romney rarely mentions the war in his speeches at public campaign events and fundraisers. When he does, his comments usually are devoid of specifics. At a Republican National Committee event in Arizona in April, he said that Obama has made “a number of errors in the way he managed our relationship there,” but he did not provide details or say what he would do differently.

The president is almost as taciturn. In remarks to supporters and donors, he often cites the war, but usually in just one sentence that emphasizes how he is seeking to scale back U.S. involvement. (His two favored versions of that sentence: “We’re transitioning out of Afghanistan” and “We’re winding down the war in Afghanistan.”)

He rarely tries to make the case that his troop surge succeeded, that the more than 50,000 troops he sent over in 2009 and 2010 have pummeled the Taliban and increased the Afghan government’s chances of holding onto large swaths of the country.

The candidates have a shared reason for ignoring Afghanistan. It has stretched into the longest war in U.S. history, and Americans are tired of it. With an anemic economy on the home front, pollsters say that voters want to hear a substantive discussion about jobs, taxes, government spending and health care — not about a murky conflict half a world away.

But even if voters wanted to confront the war, each candidate would still have his own motives to run from it.

Obama doesn’t want to remind his liberal base that he more than doubled the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. His decision in late 2009to send 30,000 more military personnel — made over the objections of Vice President Biden and several of his most senior White House advisers — was deeply unpopular with Democrats, even though he pledged to begin reducing forces in 2011.

If Obama were to include a discussion of Afghanistan in his speeches, he would inevitably have to address the troop increases. He could argue that the surge forces did succeed in beating back the Taliban in parts of southern Afghanistan, giving the Afghan government and its army a chance to take charge of those places. But those gains occurred against a backdrop of escalating violence elsewhere. In my recent book on the Afghan war, “Little America,” I write that a CIA assessment conducted last year concluded that the surge’s successes in the south had been offset by losses in the east and that the country was “trending to stalemate.”

Presenting the case that the surge worked in a few provinces doesn’t make for a rousing victory speech. It is even more difficult when the Taliban continues to attack, sometimes spectacularly, and the Afghan government remains inept and corrupt.

Casting the Taliban as a critical security threat to the United States poses its own challenges for the president. He has long maintained that his principal reason for the surge was to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But Osama bin Laden, who had been hiding in Pakistan, is now dead — the result of a daring mission for which Obama can claim credit — complicating the case for continued large-scale operations in Afghanistan.

Romney’s principal line of attack is that the president rejected a recommendation from the former top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, to wait until the end of this year to bring home all the surge troops. Instead, Obama ordered them out of Afghanistan by the end of September.

“I have been critical of the president’s decision to withdraw the surge troops during the fighting season, against the advice of the commanders on the ground,” Romney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars last month. “President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions is arguing for endless war. But the route to more war — and to potential attacks here at home — is a politically timed retreat.”

Those remarks were Romney’s most detailed public statement on the war since becoming the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. But making a repeated case for a delayed drawdown has potential peril for him: Recent polls, including one conducted in April by The Washington Post and ABC News, show that a narrow majority of Republicans now think the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting. Among independents — to whom Romney must appeal — disapproval of the war jumps to 66 percent. No surprise that when Romney went overseas last month, he stopped in London, Jerusalem and Warsaw, not Kabul.

The candidates’ relative silence on the war contrasts with the other two presidential elections since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. When he campaigned in 2008, Obama had no reservations about addressing Afghanistan. It was, he said repeatedly, “a war we must win.” His Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, was unafraid to remind voters about his support for the troop surge in Iraq, even though much of the public had soured on the war there.

In 2004, President George W. Bush did not shy from talking about Iraq despite public support for the mission falling below 50 percent that summer.

If Obama and Romney spent more time discussing the war in Afghanistan, what would voters learn? Both of them have said they want to transition responsibility for the country’s security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014 — a deadline agreed upon by NATO allies — but they have been vague about how many troops they would withdraw next year. (By Election Day, there will be about 68,000 uniformed U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan.) Both say they would consider conditions on the ground and listen to the advice of commanders.

But what are their gut feelings? Does Romney plan to suspend further troop reductions next year, as some Republican lawmakers have urged? When Obama said this year that he wants to “effectuate this transition in a way that doesn’t result in a steep cliff at the end of 2014,” did he foreshadow an intention to order significant drawdowns next year?

There is an even more important reason that both men should be talking about Afghanistan: The war is not going away anytime soon. It will continue for the first half of the next presidential term. Then the situation gets even more complicated. The Pentagon will probably want to keep some troops there to conduct counterterrorism missions and continue training the Afghan army. And the Afghan government is going to need substantial U.S. financial support to sustain its security forces, run its ministries and provide basic services to its people.

That could cost as much as $4 billion a year, by some estimates. Given the size of the tab — about $1 billionmore than we provided last year to Israel, the next-largest recipient of U.S. assistance — whoever resides in the White House next year will need to make the case to Congress and the American people about the importance of supporting Afghanistan.

This is the time to begin laying that groundwork. If voters in both parties do not start hearing about the need to help the Afghans once our troops leave, it will be much harder for the winner to generate the political consensus to secure the funding, especially during a time of domestic economic crisis.

It sounds expensive, but it is far cheaper than $100 billion a year. If some of the gains in security and governance that have resulted from the surge are to be sustained, and if the United States wants to decrease the chances of Afghanistan slipping into another civil war, it will have to keep writing checks to Kabul.

Both camps should remember the lesson of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989. The communist government in Kabul did not collapse overnight. It fell in 1992, after the Soviet Union collapsed and Moscow stopped bankrolling President Najibullah.

American officers and enlisted personnel across Afghanistan have told me that they yearn for a meaningful conversation back home about the war, a discussion they would far prefer over obligatory remarks thanking them for their service.

Although he skipped Afghanistan on his foreign trip, Romney still could deliver a speech that addresses the war in a more substantive way.

For Obama, a golden opportunity awaits in September. He has awarded the Presidential Unit Citation — the highest military honor that can be bestowed upon a group of troops — to the Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, one of the first units to deploy to Afghanistan under his signature in 2009. The 10,000-strong brigade engaged in pitched fighting as it sought to push insurgents out of the Helmand River Valley, suffering 90 fatalities.

The White House has not told the Marine Corps whether the president will travel to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to present the award in person. Several Marine officers who served in the brigade are hoping he will make the short trip from Washington.

“The least these Marines are owed is an in-person thank you,” said John Kael Weston, a former State Department officer who served as the brigade’s political adviser. “It’s the right thing to do.”

By awarding the citation himself, Obama “will remind the nation that there’s still a war going on,” Weston said. “He needs to do that, even if he rightly wants to end this war.”

After serving for seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan — more consecutive time in those combat zones than any other U.S. diplomat — Weston has joined the ranks of those who believe this war needs to end.

“But it needs to end in a responsible way,” he said. “You don’t end a war by encouraging the American people to ignore it.”

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a senior correspondent and associate editor at The Washington Post, is the author of “Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan.”

Emperor Obama’s coming: Close the beach!

If you ask me President Obama should be called Emperor Obama based on the way he is treated and based on the money that is spent to protect him.

Three things to note.

The Secret Service asked two government owned beaches to shut down for the day to give Emperor Obama privacy and protect from the serfs he pretends to be a "public servant" to. That will mean thousands of people will be denied access to the beach on a hot sweltering summer day, because Obama is afraid his serfs will attempt to assassinate him, and because Obama wants the beaches for his party.

Second the Secret Service refuses to pay local cities for the protection services they provide to the President.

Third and last, neither the Secret Service or the White House even mentioned paying the thousands of people who's time will be wasted, lost and inconvenienced by the Presidents visit.

And of course that seems to make my point that the President of America over time has evolved into an American Emperor that would make Cesar jealous of the way he is pampered, protected and treated like royalty.


Obama’s coming: Close the beach!

By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket

President Barack Obama flies to Connecticut on Monday for a star-studded fundraiser at movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's sprawling beachfront estate in Westport. The event means about $2 million for Obama's campaign—and traffic disruptions and beach closings, plus a surge in overtime pay for the town of some 26,000 people. gave its readers a peek at what it means for the locality to play host to a presidential fundraiser, this one a $35,800-per-guest soiree featuring "The Dark Knight Rises" star Anne Hathaway, "The West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Actress Joanne Woodward, Hollywood icon Paul Newman's widow, is also expected to attend. In 1999, Newman, Woodward and Martha Stewart--all then-Westport residents--co-hosted a fundraiser at Weinstein's home for Sec. of State Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign.

Security for the most powerful man in the world means traffic delays as local police close off his motorcade route. Westport's Marine Police Unit will patrol the shoreline near Weinstein's home, while area firefighters and other emergency workers will be at the ready.

These kinds of preparations are not Obama-specific: Any sitting president can count on the full mobilization of local law-enforcement and first responders. Likewise, partisans on both sides of the aisle reliably express outrage about the costs related to high-profile political visits by the opposing party.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said the town expects to incur some overtime costs as part of its role in providing security for the visit.

"That's been the pattern in the past and unfortunately we do not anticipate the Obama campaign—just like those of previous president—to help us out with the overtime tab," he said. [Well then why don't you tell Emperor Obama and the Secret Service to take a flying leap and pay their own protection costs!]

While overtime costs are nothing new to municipalities that host a president, the report noted another disruption that might make a dent in Obama's local approval ratings: "The Secret Service asked that state-owned Sherwood Island State Park and town-owned Burying Hill Beach be shut down for the day, leaving thousands without access to Long Island Sound waters on a hot summer day."

Obama's trip to Connecticut comes as Mitt Romney raised $101.3 million for his campaign and the Republican National Committee in July, ending the month with nearly $186 million in the bank.

With that kind of cash, Romney, whose personal wealth is estimated at around $250 million, could buy Weinstein's $15.5 million estate six times over. Here's how the Hartford Courant describes the movie mogul's digs:

Weinstein, the Oscar-winning producer of "Shakespeare in Love," among other films, bought the property at 26 Beachside Ave. in 1994 for $4.2 million, according to property records for The Warren Group. The two-story, 8,900-square-foot Colonial-style house was built in 1909.

Weinstein later bought neighboring 28 Beachside in 2000 for $4 million. That property includes two smaller houses, described in town records as a Cape and a ranch, together totaling about 2,500 square feet.

The main house includes six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and a spacious stone terrace. It's topped off by a heated pool. Each property has nearly doubled in market value since Weinstein purchased them, according to town records.

Yahoo News' Dylan Stableford contributed to this report.

No matter who gets elected we are screwed!!!!


Romney, Ryan bet U.S. is ready for an adult debate

by Robert Robb, columnist - Aug. 15, 2012 12:00 AM

The Republic |

Everyone is saying that the choice of Paul Ryan to be Mitt Romney's running mate offers the country a stark choice between competing visions for the country's future. Even the campaigns and the candidates are saying it.

But on the issue for which Ryan is most relevant -- fixing the federal government's finances -- that's not really accurate. That's because President Barack Obama doesn't have a plan to fix the federal government's finances. He proposes to leave them unfixed.

Right now, total federal debt exceeds 100 percent of gross domestic product. Four years ago, it was 70 percent. During the Reagan years, which were supposedly a period of undisciplined deficit spending, it barely got above 50 percent. The last time federal debt exceeded GDP was World War II.

So, we're in unprecedented territory.

Economic historians say that when sovereign debt gets above 90 percent of GDP, it adversely affects the performance of the private-sector economy and raises questions about the ability of the government to pay it back.

So, we're in unprecedented, dangerous territory. Getting federal debt back below 90 percent of GDP should be an urgent national priority.

Obama's proposed budget plan for the next 10 years doesn't get national debt below 90 percent of GDP. In fact, it never gets debt below 100 percent. After 10 years, the country would still be in the same unprecedented, dangerous debt territory we are in now.

It is very important to note that this isn't some conservative critique of the president's budget. The conclusion isn't from some conservative think tank or the calculations of a conservative scribbler. It's what Obama's own budget says.

If every tax increase Obama proposes is enacted and raises to the penny what Obama says it will raise, and if the federal government spends to the penny what Obama proposes on every program for the next 10 years, and if the economy responds precisely as Obama's economists predict it will respond, federal debt after 10 years will still exceed 100 percent of GDP.

It gets worse. If Obama's budget proposal were enacted in its entirety, what the country spends to service the national debt would increase from around $225 billion today to $850 billion in 2022. Again, that's the projection of Obama's own budgeteers.

In short, Obama's budget will lead the country into a debt trap similar to the one many European countries are trying to escape, in which debt never gets retired and the cost of servicing it constantly increases. Given that much of U.S. debt is short-term and has to be continuously refinanced, that's a reckless vulnerability to the bond markets.

The Ryan plan, far from being radical, barely gets the United States out of the danger zone on debt. Ryan's budget wouldn't get the country's debt below 100 percent of GDP until 2016. It wouldn't dip below 90 percent until 2020. At the end of 10 years, it would still be at 85 percent. That's out of the danger zone, but it's far from healthy.

And far from a starvation diet, federal spending under Ryan's plan would increase from $3.6 trillion today to $4.9 trillion in 2022.

There are plenty of other ways to get the federal government out of the danger zone on debt. Taxes could be increased by more than Obama is proposing. An argument could be made for less military spending and more domestic spending than is in Ryan's budget.

The point, however, is that Obama isn't proposing alternative ways to get the country out of the danger zone on debt. He is proposing that the country stay in it.

I have no idea whether the selection of Ryan as his running mate makes it easier or harder for Romney to get elected president. But it makes victory, should it come to pass, more consequential.

And it says something important about Romney. He's betting that the country is ready for a grown-up conversation about debt and the tough choices involved in getting it under control.

Obama is betting that it isn't.

Reach Robb at

Special ops group attacks Obama over bin Laden bragging, leaks


Special ops group attacks Obama over bin Laden bragging, leaks

By Mark Hosenball | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of former U.S. intelligence and Special Forces operatives is set to launch a media campaign, including TV ads, that scolds President Barack Obama for taking credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden and argues that high-level leaks are endangering American lives.

Leaders of the group, the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc, say it is nonpartisan and unconnected to any political party or presidential campaign. It is registered as a so-called social welfare group, which means its primary purpose is to further the common good and its political activities should be secondary.

In the past, military exploits have been turned against presidential candidates by outside groups, most famously the Swift Boat ads in 2004 that questioned Democratic nominee John Kerry's Vietnam War service.

The OPSEC group says it is not political and aims to save American lives. Its first public salvo is a 22-minute film that includes criticism of Obama and his administration. The film, to be released on Wednesday, was seen in advance by Reuters.

"Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden, America did. The work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not," Ben Smith, identified as a Navy SEAL, says in the film.

"As a citizen, it is my civic duty to tell the president to stop leaking information to the enemy," Smith continues. "It will get Americans killed."

An Obama campaign official said: "No one in this group is in a position to speak with any authority on these issues and on what impact these leaks might have, and it's clear they've resorted to making things up for purely political reasons."

Obama has highlighted his foreign policy record on the campaign trail, emphasizing how he presided over the killing of bin Laden, as well as how he ended the war in Iraq and set a timeline for winding down the war in Afghanistan.

However, Obama has come under sharp attack from Republican lawmakers who have accused his administration of being behind high-level leaks of classified information.

They have pointed to media reports about clandestine drone attacks, informants planted in al Qaeda affiliates and alleged cyber-warfare against Iran that Republicans say were calculated to promote Obama's image as a strong leader in an election year.

The White House has denied leaking classified information.

The president of Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc, Scott Taylor, is a former Navy SEAL who in 2010 ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for a congressional seat in Virginia.

Calling itself "OPSEC" for short - which in spy jargon means "operational security" - the anti-leak group incorporated last June in Delaware, a state that has the most secretive corporate registration rules in the U.S.

It also set itself up as a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)4 of the U.S. Tax Code, allowing it to keep donors' identities secret. Spokesmen for the group declined to discuss its sources of financing.

Several group representatives say their main motivation for setting up OPSEC was dismay at recent detailed media leaks about sensitive operations.

In an interview, Taylor denied OPSEC had any political slant. He described the group as a "watchdog organization" but added that the current administration "has certainly leaked more than others."

OPSEC spokesmen said the group has about $1 million at its disposal and hopes to raise more after the release of its mini-documentary, entitled "Dishonorable Disclosures," which aims, in spy-movie style, to document a recent spate of leaks regarding sensitive intelligence and military operations.

Following the film's release, OPSEC's spokesmen said, the group expects to produce TV spots on the anti-leak theme that will air in a number of states, including Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada - key battleground states.

Fred Rustmann, a former undercover case officer for the CIA who is a spokesman for the group, insisted its focus on leaks was "not a partisan concern." But he said the current administration had been leaking secrets "to help this guy get re-elected, at the expense of peoples' lives.... We want to see that they don't do this again."

Chad Kolton, a former spokesman for the office of Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration who now represents OPSEC, also said the group's message and make-up are nonpolitical.

"You'll see throughout the film that concern about protecting the lives of intelligence and Special Forces officers takes precedence over partisanship," he said.

Responding to criticism about the president taking credit for the bin Laden raid, an Obama campaign official pointed to an interview with CNN last month in which Admiral Bill McRaven, commander of the raid, said: "At the end of the day, make no mistake about it, it was the president of the United States that shouldered the burden for this operation, that made the hard decisions, that was instrumental in the planning process, because I pitched every plan to him."

"I think Admiral McRaven knows more about the President's role in the bin Laden operation than this group," the campaign official said.

White House videographer a stealth campaign worker


Taxpayer watchdog: White House videographer a stealth campaign worker

The Daily Caller – Thu, Aug 9, 2012

The National Taxpayers Union criticized official White House videographer Hope Hall on Wednesday, alleging that her position blurs the line between legitimate government functions and political campaigning.

Both Hall and her predecessor, Arun Chaudhary, produced videos for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, according to The Washington Guardian.

The videographer’s role is similar to that of the White House photographer, filming the President during speeches, meetings with foreign leaders, White House celebrations, and other events. When those events are closed to reporters, the White House videographer has exclusive access.

The videographer compiles clips from her footage each week into a short video called “West Wing Week,” which appears on the Obama administration’s website.

Pete Sapp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union, told The Daily Caller that he fears taxpayers are subsidizing the President’s reelection campaign. ”West Wing Week” often matches the messages of the Obama’s re-election ads.

“There’s always been a degree of controversy over how a president separates purely official duties and business from campaigning,” Sapp said. “The first step here would at least be to get some cost transparency so that citizens can weigh whether something like this is worth the expense.”

David Almacy, the White House Internet director under President Bush, told TheDC he has similar concerns. “It is taxpayer-funded and the videographer has the ability to take scenes and edit them the way they wish,” he said, “and when you have a White House press corps that’s hundreds of feet away from the Oval Office.”

“The videographer is a federal employee,” Almacy adds, “[and] the power of editing could cause some concerns about perceived propaganda. With average views between 5,000 and 10,000 for most ‘West Wing Week[lies],’ one could argue that the costs associated with producing the weekly installments aren’t providing much value to citizens, especially in tough economic times when Congress and the White House are looking for ways to cut the budget.”

More than a dozen White House officials have refused to comment on the program or identify the specific federal budget line utilized to fund it. In an interview with the Washington Guardian, Chaudhary said he was paid as a federal employee.

When asked about the funding for Chaudhary’s salary and the production of “West Wing Weekly,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz wrote Tuesday, “I just don’t think we’re going to engage here.”

Neither Obama nor Romney get that separation of church thing

Obama doesn't seem to get it about that separation of church and state thing.
"Obama highlighted cooperation between government, which has the resources religious groups often lack, and religious groups, which understand local needs in a way government often fails to do"
I guess that is Obama's way of saying he doesn't have a problem with the government giving religious groups tax dollars to solve the problems religious groups think are important.

Of course Romney doesn't seem to get that that separation of church and state thing either.

"We are a nation 'Under God,' and in God, we do indeed trust," Romney said.

Obama: Not my job to convince folks I’m a Christian

By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket

President Barack Obama says convincing doubters that he is a Christian isn't part of his job description. Mitt Romney tells skeptics of his faith: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind" and pleads for tolerance.

The two White House contenders addressed the issue of persistent questioning of their religious beliefs as part of a wide-ranging exchange with National Cathedral's "Cathedral Age." The magazine asked Obama and Romney to weigh in on the role of faith in public life and politics as well as in their personal lives.

Public opinion polls have repeatedly found large numbers of Americans who say they think Obama, a practicing Christian, is secretly a Muslim. And some conservative Christian groups reject Romney's Mormon faith.

So "how do you respond" to those who "have questioned the sincerity of your faith and your Christianity?" the magazine asked?

"You know, there's not much I can do about it," Obama said.

"I have a job to do as president, and that does not involve convincing folks that my faith in Jesus 
is legitimate and real. I do my best to live out my faith, and to stay in the Word, and to make my life look more like His. I'm not perfect. What I can do is just keep on following Him, and serve others—trying to make folks' lives a little better using this humbling position that I hold."

"I am often asked about my faith and my beliefs about Jesus Christ," Romney said.

"I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. Every religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These should not be bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree."

Favorite Bible passage? Romney cited Matthew 25:35-36--"For 
I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me."

Obama pointed to Isaiah 40:31 ("But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" in the King James Bible) and Psalm 46.

Asked different questions about the role of religious faith in public life, both men noted its central role in national struggles like the civil rights movement, and in calls for compassion and service. And what do you know about a political leader from his faith?

"A political leader's faith can tell us a great deal or nothing," Romney said. "So much depends on what lies behind that faith. And so much depends on deeds, not words."

"I think it is important that we not make faith alone a barometer of a person's worth, value, or character," said Obama. The president also highlights former president George W. Bush's faith, calling it a factor in his decision to step up U.S. efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and urging immigration reform.

Can government and religious groups work together while respecting the First Amendment and the principle of separation of church and state?

Obama highlighted cooperation between government, which has the resources religious groups often lack, and religious groups, which understand local needs in a way government often fails to do.

"The constitutional principle of a separation between church and state has served our nation well since our founding—embraced by people of faith and those of no faith at all throughout our history— and it has been paramount in our work," Obama said.

"Clearly the boundaries between church and state must be respected, but there is a large space in which faith-based organizations can do good for the community in which they serve," said Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor warns against those whom he said take the separation of church and state "well beyond its original meaning" and aim "to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God."

"We are a nation 'Under God,' and in God, we do indeed trust," Romney said.

Atheist Billboards at Presidential Conventions

According to these article the atheist billboards put up at the Republican and Democratic National Presidential Conventions had to be removed because of threats of violence against the employees of the billboard companies.

Boy those Christians are a bunch of hypocrites. They preach love and peace, but they threaten to kill anybody that doesn't believe in their Jesus God.

Secret Service Agent leaves gun in plane bathroom


Agent leaves gun in Romney plane bathroom

By David Jackson, USA TODAY

TAMPA -- Some embarrassment for the Secret Service on the campaign trail.

An agent accidentally left an unattended gun in a bathroom aboard Mitt Romney's charter plane, and a reporter found it.

The agent has been pulled from Romney's security detail.

The incident occurred Wednesday as Romney traveled from the Republican convention in Tampa to a speech in Indianapolis.

In a statement, the Secret Service said, "we take the care and custody of our equipment, especially firearms, very seriously. We will deal with this matter internally and in an appropriate manner."

Reports CBS News:

The weapon, presumably left behind in the bathroom by accident, was discovered by a CBS News/National Journal reporter, who alerted a flight attendant about the gun. A member of the Secret Service on board the plane was informed and retrieved the gun.

Romney has traveled with Secret Service protection since early February and has an armed detail assigned to him at all times. His wife, Ann, was just assigned her own detail -- albeit a smaller one -- last Friday.

Will Obama bomb Iran to get reelected???

Will Obama bomb Iran to get reelected and prove he is a bigger war monger then Romney???


Israelis huddling with U.S. over Iran

Moves suggest imminent attack less likely

by Josef Federman - Sept. 4, 2012 11:03 PM

Associated Press

JERUSALEM - Israeli officials said Tuesday they are in close discussions with the United States over how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program, seeking to ease tensions that have emerged between the two allies over a possible Israeli military strike against Iran.

The dialogue, in which Israel is looking for President Barack Obama to take a tough public position against Iran, suggests the odds of an Israeli attack in the near term have been reduced.

Israel, convinced that Iran isn't taking seriously U.S. vows to block it from acquiring nuclear weapons, believes that time to stop the Iranians is quickly running out. A series of warnings by Israeli officials in recent weeks has raised concerns that Israel could soon stage a unilateral military strike. In response, senior American officials have made clear they oppose any Israeli military action at the current time.

After tense exchanges with the Americans, Israeli political and defense officials said Tuesday that the sides are now working closely together in hopes of getting their positions in sync.

Clearer American assurances on what pressure it is prepared to use against Iran, including possible military action, would reduce the need for Israel to act alone, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a security matter.

There was no immediate American comment Tuesday, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu huddled with his security cabinet for a daylong briefing by military intelligence on Iran's nuclear program.

Netanyahu has criticized the international community for failing to curb Iran's nuclear program. In recent days, he has called for the world to set a clear "red line" for the Iranians. His comments were seen as veiled criticism of President Barack Obama.

Israel has not publicly defined its own red lines, which might include a deadline for Iran to open its facilities to U.N. inspectors or a determination that Iran has definitively begun enriching uranium to a weapons-grade level.

Israel believes Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge the Iranians deny. The U.S. has said it doesn't know what Iran's ultimate plans are for its nuclear program.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Sunday played down any differences, saying "there is absolutely no daylight between the United States and Israel when it comes to the necessity of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."

"The best way to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon is through a diplomatic process that results in Iran finally agreeing to, in a completely verifiable way, give up its nuclear weapons ambitions and abide by its international obligations. But that window will not remain open indefinitely," Carney said.

He emphasized that Obama "has insisted that all options ... remain on the table."

A U.N. report last week showing continued progress in the Iranian nuclear program reinforced the Israeli view that negotiations and economic sanctions are not persuading Iran to change its behavior.

The U.N. report found that Iran has moved more of its uranium enrichment activities into fortified bunkers deep underground and impervious to air attack. Enrichment is a key activity in building a bomb, though it has other uses as well.

Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as a mortal threat, citing Iranian calls for Israel's destruction, Iran's development of missiles capable of striking the Jewish state, and Iranian support for hostile Arab militant groups.

Israel's timeline for military action is shorter than that of the United States, which has far more powerful bunker-busting bombs at its disposal.

Feeling so vulnerable, Israel needs strong assurances from its key ally, said Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and confidant of Netanyahu.

"We have to hear something a lot more concrete, a lot more public from the U.S., which is the leader of free world. What is it going to do?" Gold told the Army Radio station.

Israeli officials said they are discussing the possibility of tightened economic sanctions on Iran. They also want Obama to make a strong public statement of American unwillingness to tolerate a nuclear Iran, perhaps at the U.N. General Assembly later this month or even sooner.

"What we'd like to see is President Obama saying something in the next few days or weeks, something serious," said one official.

"It could be (a declaration) of red lines, or some forceful statement," he said.

"The point is not to convince Israel, but to convince the Iranians, that we, the United States, mean business. We will tighten sanctions. There's a military option. ... The Iranians have to understand unequivocally that the Americans are serious about preventing them from acquiring nuclear weapons."

Obama has repeatedly said he would not allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons and has said the U.S. would be prepared to use force as a last resort.

But many Israelis are skeptical. Obama is also believed to be unwilling to launch a risky military operation in the run-up to presidential elections. An attack could send global oil prices skyrocketing and endanger U.S. troops in the region.

The Israel Hayom newspaper, widely considered to be a mouthpiece for the Netanyahu government, wrote in an analysis Tuesday that Obama "does not believe in a military strike on Iran."

"Obama could have long ago resolved the entire matter in the simplest fashion: Had he posed the Iranians with an ultimatum, even for a date after Nov. 6 (U.S. presidential elections), he would have allayed Israel's concerns, he would have shown the Iranians that he was resolute," commentator Boaz Bismuth wrote. "But Obama has not done that for now, not because he can't, but simply because he doesn't want to."

Israel Hayom is a free tabloid financed by American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a friend of Netanyahu's and a major donor to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign.

Strains between Washington and Israel have been exceptionally apparent in recent weeks, with the top U.S. military official, Gen. Martin Dempsey, twice speaking out against a go-it-alone strike.

Last week he said he would "not want to be complicit" in such an assault.

At the same time, many in Israel suspect Israel's leaders are bluffing in order to compel the world to get serious about the issue. An array of retired military officials have said Israel should not act on its own, reasoning that it can depend on Washington to act if necessary. Also, they warn of a harsh response by Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza in the event of an Israeli strike.

Obama won't remove "In God We Trust" from American money

Sounds like Obama is clueless about that First Amendment thing that says no mixing of government and religion.


Obama aides mock Romney talk of taking ‘God’ off currency

By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket

President Barack Obama smiles during a campaign event at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida …"The president believes as much that God should be taken off a coin as he does that aliens will attack Florida."

That's the response from Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki to Mitt Romney's apparent suggestion at a Virginia Beach, Va., rally on Saturday that Democrats hope to take "In God We Trust" off American money. There is no such effort.

"I will not take God off our coins and I will not take God out of my heart. We're a nation that's bestowed by God," the Republican standard-bearer said.

"Look, this is nothing more than a desperate attack based on a false premise by the Romney team, and it's sad that the debate has been driven to this level of discourse," said Psaki. "It's an absurd question to be raised."

(White House press secretary Jay Carney piled on, saying that, in presidential campaigns, "there's a period when the argument is not going your way… and you begin to see random issues thrown up like spaghetti against the wall to see if anything can stick.")

Romney's riff came after embarrassed Democrats gathered at their national convention in Charlotte, N.C., restored the only reference to God in their party platform after dropping it.

Psaki and Carney's remarks were collected and shared by pool reporter Reid Epstein of Politico.

Will Obama bomb his way to reelection in 2012?


Attacks shift presidential campaign focus to foreign policy

by Richard Wolf and Jackie Kucinich - Sept. 12, 2012 11:21 PM

USA Today

WASHINGTON - A presidential campaign that's been all about the economy shifted suddenly to foreign policy Wednesday following the murderous attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya, giving President Barack Obama an advantage over a challenger who has yet to start receiving national security briefings.

By criticizing Obama's response to the killings and a violent protest in Egypt, Republican challenger Mitt Romney opened himself up to warnings from officials in both parties that politics should "end at the water's edge," in the words of former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.

While Obama was condemning the attacks, vowing justice against the perpetrators and consoling the victims' families and State Department colleagues, Romney doubled down on a statement he initially released Tuesday night accusing the administration of sympathizing with the attackers. His accusations were aimed at a statement issued from the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Tuesday, in the midst of the protest, which sought to soothe anger among Muslims at a video blaspheming the prophet Mohammed. The statement condemned rhetoric that "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."

"I think it's a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values," Romney said Wednesday during a press conference in Florida, accusing the administration of sending "mixed messages to the world."

His running mate, Paul Ryan, said in Wisconsin that the administration's "weakness" and "moral equivocation" emboldens America's enemies.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence, said the foreign policy contrast is "probably a fair debate to have in this upcoming election." But now, he said, is a time to focus on "the fact that we lost a United States ambassador."

After holding its fire for most of the day, the White House later released part of Obama's interview with CBS' 60 Minutes in which he said Romney "didn't have his facts right."

"Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later," Obama said. "And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that, that it's important for you to make sure that the statements you make are backed up by the facts, and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them."

Unless the situation in the Middle East spins out of control, the attack and Obama's denunciation and actions in response could strengthen his hand, experts say, since he has successfully waged war on al-Qaida throughout the Middle East and northern Africa.

Obama & Romney Grow More Reliant on Big-Money Contributors

It's not about good government, it's about cold hard cash!!!!
Government of the people, by the elected officials, and appointed bureaucrats, for the elected officials, appointed bureaucrats and special interest groups that helped them get into power.

Michael Kaery


Obama Grows More Reliant on Big-Money Contributors


Published: September 12, 2012

Kirk Wagar, a Florida lawyer who has raised more than $1 million for President Obama’s re-election bid, had his choice of rooms for the Democratic convention at Charlotte’s Ritz-Carlton or Westin hotels and nightly access to hospitality suites off the convention floor.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood producer, and his fund-raising partner have brought at least $6.6 million combined for the ’08 and ’12 bids.

Jay Snyder, a New York financier who has raised at least $560,000 for Mr. Obama, was entitled to get his picture taken on the podium at the Time Warner Cable Arena.

And Azita Raji, a retired investment banker who has raised over $3 million for Mr. Obama — more than almost anyone else during the last two years — could get pretty much anything that she wanted last week in Charlotte: briefings with senior Obama officials, invitations to post-speech parties, along with “priority booking” at the city’s finest hotels.

In the race for cash, Mr. Obama often praises his millions of grass-roots donors, those die-hards whose $3 or $10 or $75 contributions are as much a symbol of the president’s political identity as they are a source of ready cash. But his campaign’s big-dollar fund-raising has become more dependent than it was four years ago on a smaller number of large-dollar donors and fund-raisers.

All told, Mr. Obama’s top “bundlers” — people who gather checks from friends and business associates — raised or gave at least $200 million for Mr. Obama’s re-election bid and the Democratic National Committee through the end of May, close to half of the total up to that point, according to internal campaign documents obtained by The New York Times.

The documents provide a detailed look into the intricate world of presidential fund-raising, which Mr. Obama and his team have mastered, and donor-stroking, which some supporters complain they have not. The campaign closely monitors its top bundlers, rating them by how much each individual or couple has raised and donated each year going back to 2007.

Officials used that amount, in turn, to offer donor packages of access and entertainment for the convention last week, themed to the location in North Carolina: “OBX” (bumper-sticker shorthand for the Outer Banks) for those raising at least $1 million, down to “Carolina on My Mind” for those who have donated merely $75,800 to Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee, the maximum allowed under federal law.

“It confirms everything we’ve always believed about the role of big money in politics,” said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group that tracks political fund-raising. “The more you give, the more you gather, the more you get.”

Each individual or couple is also assigned a lifetime Obama total. Topping the list is Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood producer, who, along with his fund-raising partner, Andy Spahn, has brought in at least $6.6 million combined for the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, according to the documents.

The top fund-raiser for 2011 and 2012 is Andrew Tobias, a Miami-based author who is treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and a major bundler for Mr. Obama among gay donors. Terry McAuliffe, a former party chairman and Bill Clinton loyalist, shot into Mr. Obama’s top bundler ranks this year after he and Mr. Clinton agreed to hold a Virginia fund-raiser for Mr. Obama. He has raised about $2.2 million for Mr. Obama, according to the documents, more than all but a few supporters.

Because not all of Mr. Obama’s bundlers are represented through the end of May, the documents may understate the total that top supporters have raised for Mr. Obama. But even so, they reveal how dependent even Mr. Obama — whose grass-roots fund-raising machine is unrivaled in political history — is on a relative handful of wealthy individuals raising millions of dollars on his behalf, often while having significant business or legal interests before the Obama administration.

Among the top 10 fund-raisers on the list for 2012, for example, are Steve Spinner, a former Department of Energy official who pushed the White House to approve a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, the failed solar power company.

DreamWorks Animation, the studio Mr. Katzenberg leads, is among several in Hollywood that earlier this year were notified of an investigation into whether entertainment companies had made illegal payments to officials in China in connection with their dealings there.

Mitt Romney has fielded an equally formidable high-dollar fund-raising machine this year and could raise as much or more than Mr. Obama during the election cycle. Like the Democrats, Republicans offered big donors an array of perks at their convention, held in Tampa, Fla., last month, including choice hotel access, boat trips and access to Mr. Romney himself.

Mr. Obama already makes public the names of his bundlers, along with ranges for how much they have raised, a practice not required by law. Mr. Romney has declined to release such information, though monthly disclosures filed by his campaign suggest that he is even more dependent than Mr. Obama on big bundlers and donors who have given the legal maximum.

“Our major volunteer fund-raisers, as well as the ranges of contributions they raised, were previously made public because unlike Governor Romney, we disclose them on our Web site,” said Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama’s publicly disclosed categories stop at the $500,000-and-up level, however. The internal documents show that at least 60 individuals and couples reside in an even more elite club, having raised more than $1 million for Mr. Obama and the party.

They include Frank White Jr., a technology entrepreneur who has raised $2.3 million for Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign; Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, who has raised $2.7 million; Robert Wolf, a former executive at UBS Americas, the banking company, who has raised about $1.3 million; and Reshma Saujani, a lawyer who is running for New York City public advocate next year and is active among young larger donors, who has raised about $1 million.

About 260 of the bundlers did not raise any money for Mr. Obama during his 2008 campaign, according to the document. That reflects the extraordinary effort Mr. Obama made to recruit new fund-raisers for his re-election effort, as former supporters lost enthusiasm or moved on to other pursuits.

But it also reflects the number of former fund-raisers whom Mr. Obama appointed to ambassadorial and other posts, leaving them barred from political activities.

Administration warns of 'destructive' budget cuts

From this article it sounds like President Obama is more loyal to the government bureaucrats that work for him, then the "taxpayers" he pretends to work for.


Administration warns of 'destructive' budget cuts

Associated Press

September 14, 2012, 12:29 p.m.

A new White House report issued Friday warns that $110 billion in across-the-board spending cuts at the start of the new year would be "deeply destructive" to the military and core government responsibilities like patrolling U.S. borders and air traffic control.

The report says the automatic cuts, mandated by the failure of last year's congressional deficit "supercommittee" to strike a budget deal, would require an across-the-board cut of 9 percent to most Pentagon programs and an 8 percent cut in many domestic programs. The process of automatic cuts is called sequestration, and the administration has no flexibility in how to distribute the cuts, other than to exempt military personnel and war-fighting accounts.

"Sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions," the report says.

The cuts, combined with the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts at the end of the year, have been dubbed the "fiscal cliff." Economists warn that the one-two punch could drive the economy back into recession.

The across-the-board cuts were devised as part of last summer's budget and debt deal between President Barack Obama and Capitol Hill Republicans. They were intended to drive the supercommittee — evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans — to strike a compromise. But the panel deadlocked and the warring combatants have spent more time since then blaming each other for the looming cuts than seeking ways to avoid them.

The White House report continues in that vein, blasting House Republicans for an approach to avoiding the sequester that relies on further cuts to domestic programs while protecting upper-bracket taxpayers from higher rates proposed by the president.

In advance of the report's release, White House press secretary Jay Carney went on the offensive, blasting "the adamant refusal of Republicans to accept the fundamental principle that we ought to deal with our fiscal challenges in a balanced way."

In advance of the election, rival Democratic and GOP sides are dug in, unwilling to make the required compromises and unable to trust the other side. It's commonly assumed that there will be more serious efforts to forestall the cuts in a postelection lame duck session, though it may only be for a short time, to give the next Congress and whoever occupies the White House a chance to work out a longer-term solution.

If not, sharp cuts are on the way.

The report warns that the Pentagon faces cuts that "would result in a reduction in readiness of many nondeployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts and reductions in base services for military families." [What rubbish! American spends more on it's military then all of the other countries of the world combined!!!]

On the domestic front, the White House warns of dire effects as well.

"The number of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, Customs and Border Patrol agents, correctional officers and federal prosecutors would be slashed. [Sounds like a great time to end the drug war and fire all the cops, prosecutors, and prison guards that are used to arrest and imprison people for the victimless crime of pot smoking] The Federal Aviation Administration's ability to oversee and manage the nation's airspace and air traffic control would be reduced," the report says. "The Department of Agriculture's efforts to inspect food processing plants and prevent foodborne illnesses would be curtailed."

Many big programs, like Social Security, Medicaid, federal employee pensions and veterans' benefits and health care would be exempted. Medicare would be limited to an $11 billion, 2 percent cut in provider payments.

Also cut would be $14 million to treat emergency responders and others made ill as a result of the 9/11 attacks; $33 million for federal prosecution of violent crimes against women; and $2.5 billion for medical research and other work by the National Institutes of Health.

Other cuts would include $5 million from Obama's own office at the White House; $140 million from financial aid for college students; $216 million from efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons; $471 million from highway construction and $1 billion from aid for handicapped and children with other special needs.

The 394-page report, however, simply lists the dollar amount of the cuts but fails to address their real-world impact. For instance, it would cut the number of food inspectors and air traffic controllers on the job. But when asked on a conference call, a top White House official wouldn't say whether such cuts would require closing meatpacking plants or shutting down smaller airports.

"The report makes clear that sequestration would cause great disruptions across many vital services, from cancer research at NIH to food safety efforts at the Department of Agriculture, and public safety at the FBI to lowered military readiness," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the Budget Committee's top Democrat. "It's time to stop the political games and start working together to prevent the sequester, protect the economic recovery and get our fiscal house in order."

U.S. scrambles to rush spies, drones to Libya

Will Obama invade Libya to help him get reelected in 2012????


U.S. scrambles to rush spies, drones to Libya

Sept. 15, 2012 12:31 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. is sending more spies, Marines and drones to Libya, trying to speed the search for those who killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, but the investigation is complicated by a chaotic security picture in the post-revolutionary country, and limited American and Libyan intelligence resources.

The CIA has fewer people available to send, stretched thin from tracking conflicts across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

And the Libyans have barely re-established full control of their country, much less rebuilt their intelligence service, less than a year after the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The U.S. has already deployed an FBI investigation team, trying to track al-Qaida sympathizers thought to be responsible for turning a demonstration over an anti-Islamic video into a violent, coordinated militant attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Ambassador Chris Stevens, and three other embassy employees were killed after a barrage of small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars tore into the consulate buildings in Benghazi on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of 9/11, setting the buildings on fire.

President Barack Obama said in a Rose Garden statement the morning after the attack that those responsible would be brought to justice. That may not be swift. Building a clearer picture of what happened will take more time, and possibly more people, U.S. officials said Friday.

Intelligence officials are reviewing telephone intercepts, computer traffic and other clues gathered in the days before the attacks, and Libyan law enforcement has made some arrests. But investigators have found no evidence pointing conclusively to a particular group or to indicate the attack was planned, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, adding, "This is obviously under investigation."

Early indications suggest the attack was carried out not by the main al-Qaida terror group but "al-Qaida sympathizers," said a U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

One of the leading suspects is the Libyan-based Islamic militant group Ansar al-Shariah, led by former Guantanamo detainee Sufyan bin Qumu. The group denied responsibility in a video Friday but did acknowledge its fighters were in the area during what it called a "popular protest" at the consulate, according to Ben Venzke of the IntelCenter, a private analysis firm that monitors Jihadist media for the U.S. intelligence community.

The U.S. had been watching threat assessments from Libya for months but none offered warnings of the Benghazi attack, according to another intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about U.S. intelligence matters.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, questioned whether the consulate had taken sufficient security measures, given an attempt to attack the consulate in Benghazi a few months ago.

Carney said that given the 9/11 anniversary, security had been heightened.

"It was, unfortunately, not enough," he said.

That paucity of resources also applies to the intelligence officers available to monitor Libya on the ground.

With ongoing counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, as well as the civil war in Syria, the CIA's clandestine and paramilitary officer corps is simply running out of trained officers to send, U.S. officials say, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deployment of intelligence personnel publicly. The clandestine service is roughly 5,000 officers strong, and the paramilitary corps sent to war zones is only in the hundreds, the officials said.

Most of the CIA's paramilitary team dispatched to Libya during the revolution had been sent onward to the Syrian border, the officials said.

The CIA normally hires extra people to make up for such shortfalls, often retired special operators with the requisite security clearance, military training and language ability. But the government mandate to slash contractor use has meant cutting contracts, according to two former officials familiar with the agency's current hiring practices.

To fill in the gaps in spies on the ground, the U.S. intelligence community has kept up surveillance over Libya with unmanned and largely unarmed Predator and Reaper drones, increasing the area they cover, and the frequency of their flights since the attack on the consulate, as well as sending more surveillance equipment to the region, one official said.

But intelligence gathered from the air still needs corroboration from sources on the ground, as well as someone to act on the intelligence to go after the targets.

The Libyan government, though it claims it is eager to help, has limited tools at its disposal. The post-revolution government has been slow to rebuild both its intelligence capability and its security services, fearful of empowering the very institutions they had to fight to overthrow Gadhafi. They have made a start, but they lack a sophisticated cadre of trained spies and a large network of informants.

"The Libyans in just about every endeavor are just learning to walk, let alone run," said Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA official and author of the book "Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy."

"There is confusion and competing elements within the new provisional government which complicates the task of creating new institutions, including the intelligence service," he said.

"There are still some aspects of the intelligence services that still work," says Barak Barfi of the New America Foundation think tank, including eavesdropping on cellphone calls and spying on computer traffic using equipment from the Gadhafi era. Barfi spent months with members of Libya's transitional government as they tried to rebuild the nation's services and infrastructure.

But the Libyans have not yet even taken full command their own security services almost a year after Gadhafi's fall, Barfi said. That's given the tens of thousands of militiamen who helped overthrow Gadhafi the time they needed to organize and seek new targets, especially Western ones, he said.

Associated Press writers Eileen Sullivan and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

Get ready for Obamacare, bend over and open your wallet!!!!


Tax penalty to hit nearly 6M uninsured people


WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 6 million Americans — significantly more than first estimated— will face a tax penalty under President Barack Obama's health overhaul for not getting insurance, congressional analysts said Wednesday. Most would be in the middle class.

The new estimate amounts to an inconvenient fact for the administration, a reminder of what critics see as broken promises.

The numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office are 50 percent higher than a previous projection by the same office in 2010, shortly after the law passed. The earlier estimate found 4 million people would be affected in 2016, when the penalty is fully in effect.

That's still only a sliver of the population, given that more than 150 million people currently are covered by employer plans. Nonetheless, in his first campaign for the White House, Obama pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000.

And the budget office analysis found that nearly 80 percent of those who'll face the penalty would be making up to or less than five times the federal poverty level. Currently that would work out to $55,850 or less for an individual and $115,250 or less for a family of four.

Average penalty: about $1,200 in 2016.

"The bad news and broken promises from Obamacare just keep piling up," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who wants to repeal the law.

Starting in 2014, virtually every legal resident of the U.S. will be required to carry health insurance or face a tax penalty, with exemptions for financial hardship, religious objections and certain other circumstances. Most people will not have to worry about the requirement since they already have coverage through employers, government programs like Medicare or by buying their own policies.

A spokeswoman for the Obama administration said 98 percent of Americans will not be affected by the tax penalty — and suggested that those who will be should face up to their civic responsibilities.

"This (analysis) doesn't change the basic fact that the individual responsibility policy will only affect people who can afford health care but choose not to buy it," said Erin Shields Britt of the Health and Human Services Department. "We're no longer going to subsidize the care of those who can afford to buy insurance but make a choice not to buy it."

The budget office said most of the increase in its estimate is due to changes in underlying projections about the economy, incorporating the effects of new federal legislation, as well as higher unemployment and lower wages.

The Supreme Court upheld Obama's law as constitutional in a 5-4 decision this summer, finding that the insurance mandate and the tax penalty enforcing it fall within the power of Congress to impose taxes. The penalty will be collected by the IRS, just like taxes.

The budget office said the penalty will raise $6.9 billion in 2016.

The new law will also provide government aid to help middle-class and low-income households afford coverage, the financial carrot that balances out the penalty.

Nonetheless, some people might still decide to remain uninsured because they object to government mandates or because they feel they would come out ahead financially even if they have to pay the penalty. Health insurance is expensive, with employer-provided family coverage averaging nearly $15,800 a year for a family and $4,300 for a single plan. Indeed, insurance industry experts say the federal penalty may be too low.

The Supreme Court also allowed individual states to opt out of a major Medicaid expansion under the law. The Obama administration says it will exempt low-income people in states that opt out from having to comply with the insurance requirement.

Many Republicans still regard the insurance mandate as unconstitutional and rue the day the Supreme Court upheld it.

However, the idea for an individual insurance requirement comes from Republican health care plans in the 1990s.

It's also a central element of the 2006 Massachusetts health care law signed by then-GOP Gov. Mitt Romney, now running against Obama and promising to repeal the federal law.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Wednesday the new report is more evidence that Obama's law is a "costly disaster."

"Even more of the middle-class families who President Obama promised would see no tax increase will in fact see a massive tax increase thanks to Obamacare," she said.

Romney says insurance mandates should be up to each state. The approach seems to have worked well in Massachusetts, with virtually all residents covered and dwindling numbers opting to pay the penalty instead.

The Afghan Surge Is Over

Whoopee!!! We won the war in Afghanistan!!!!

Well at least that's what Emperor Obama says.

I suspect our victory in Afghanistan will be pretty much like our victories in Iraq and Vietnam. Anywhere from a few days to a few months after the American troops leave, the puppet governments the America Empire installed will collapse.


The Afghan Surge Is Over

So did it work?


The U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan ended last week. You'd be forgiven if you didn't notice. There was no proclamation of success from the White House, no fanfare at the Pentagon, no public expression of gratitude from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. It fell to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was traveling in New Zealand, to announce that the last of the 33,000 surge troops, dispatched by President Obama in late 2009 at the behest of his military commanders, had left Afghanistan.

In stating that U.S. troop levels had dropped to 68,000, Panetta told reporters traveling with him that "this is an opportunity to recognize that the surge did accomplish its objectives." A few days earlier, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, stated that the surge was "an effort that was worth the cost."

Are they right? In my new book, Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan, I explore what really happened over there -- and in Washington -- after Obama decided to surge. The real story of the surge cannot be reduced down to a soundbite. It exacted a significant cost on the United States -- in lives, limbs, and dollars. Sure, the surge did have some positive impacts: The Taliban were pushed out of large stretches of southern Afghanistan, the influx of U.S. resources accelerated the development of the Afghan security forces, and the billions that were poured into the country in the name of reconstruction did provide short-term employment to thousands of young men. But did the surge really achieve its objectives? And were the gains worth the cost?

The now-retired commanders who pressed Obama to surge in 2009 -- Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. David Petraeus, and Adm. Mike Mullen -- all insisted at the time that more troops, coupled with a protect-the-population counterinsurgency strategy, would have a good chance of turning around a failing war. They believed a surge had saved Iraq, despite strong evidence that the reasons for the improvements in security there were far more complex. In Afghanistan, they argued, the additional troops would allow the military to protect key parts of the south from Taliban advances; once that mission was completed, they would swing east to pacify areas around Kabul. The surge force also would provide a valuable opportunity to expand the Afghan army, disburse reconstruction assistance and create -- in conjunction with the State Department -- local governments in places were there had been very little government influence, reasoning that generating Afghan-led security and an indigenous civil administration would convince people to stop supporting the insurgency.

All of this nation-building was intended to accomplish a very narrow goal set by Obama: "To disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda" in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It did not matter much to the generals that most of al Qaeda's remaining core was in Pakistan, where it could -- and would -- be targeted with drones. The commanders insisted that they needed to beat back the Taliban because, if they returned to power, they would once again be able to provide sanctuary to al Qaeda operatives.

For the surge and its accompanying countersurgency strategy to prevail in Afghanistan, four main things needed to occur: The Afghan government had to be a willing partner, the Pakistani government had to crack down on insurgent sanctuaries on its soil, the Afghan army had to be ready and willing to assume control of areas that had been cleared of insurgents by American troops, and the Americans had to be willing to commit troops and money for years on end.

Did all of that happen? Let's examine them one by one:

1. Karzai never agreed with America's war strategy. U.S. officers and diplomats argue that tribal rivalries, an inequitable distribution of power at the local level, and the government's failure to provide even the most basic services are all factors pushing many Afghans into the Taliban's arms. Back in 2009 and 2010, they believed the remedy was a comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign. But in Karzai's eyes, the principal problem was and still is the infiltration of militants from Pakistan -- not the corruption and malfeasance of his government -- and he has long wanted U.S. and NATO forces to focus on the border. By mucking around in the districts of Kandahar and Helmand, the United States and its coalition partners were disrupting what he believed was a natural system of self-regulating Pashtun governance. Through all of his flare-ups, Karzai "is sending us a message," a senior U.S. military official told me. "And that message is 'I don't believe in counterinsurgency.

2. Pakistan failed to meaningfully pursue Afghan Taliban. After the Taliban leadership relocated to Pakistan in late 2001, they were provided safe harbor by Pakistan's spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate. Talibs were allowed to meet and reorganize and even reestablish networks inside Afghanistan, but the Pakistani spies initially refrained from giving them overt assistance. Although ISI officials regularly met with a handful of senior Talib mullahs, Taliban commanders had to raise their own capital from drug trafficking and foreign donations, and they had to acquire their own munitions, which wasn't all that difficult in Pakistan. But in mid-2009, as American surge forces began flooding into southern Afghanistan, the ISI adopted a far more hands-on strategy. Concerned that U.S. gains on the battlefield would hobble the Afghan insurgency, ISI spymasters began interacting with far more Taliban commanders, often providing them arms and intelligence via civilian intermediaries. According to one assessment, at least half of all insurgent commanders were working closely with ISI operatives by the spring of 2011.

3. Afghan soldiers decided to hang back and let the Americans do the fighting. Instead of compelling Afghan soldiers into action, the surge sent the opposite message. What was supposed to be a kick in the pants -- or at least a golden opportunity to work in tandem with the Americans -- turned into a crutch. And that doesn't even take into account the recent spike in "green-on-blue" attacks; they are due, in part, to infiltration of the security forces by the Taliban, which accelerated during the rushed effort to expand the Afghan army.

4. The American people balked at the price tag. It costs $1 million to keep one American service member in Afghanistan for a year. That meant the annual bill for the war last year was about $100 billion. The surge also exhausted American patience, coming when the war was already in its eighth year. Even though many Americans shared the president's view that Afghanistan was a "war of necessity," only a slim majority of Americans supported his decision to send more troops. Popular support is essential for any drawn-out campaign involving tens of thousands of troops, hundreds of monthly casualties, and almost-daily fatalities. Had all the other factors played out differently -- had Karzai been a true partner, had the Pakistanis taken meaningful action against the Taliban, and had the U.S. economy not gone into reverse -- then perhaps the public could have rallied around such a large war effort. But when all those indicators pointed down, public opinion soon followed. Now, even a majority of Republicans believe the war is no longer worth fighting.

Still, despite all the misguided assumptions U.S. commanders held going into the surge, U.S. and NATO troops have made remarkable progress in the past three years. Parts of southern Afghanistan that were once teeming with insurgents are now largely peaceful. Schools have reopened, as have bazaars. People in some of those places are living as close to a normal life as possible. But Afghanistan as a whole is not fully secure. Eastern parts of the country are still in the grip of the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction that Mullen has called a "veritable arm" of the ISI. And in the south, a critical question lingers: Will the Afghans -- the government, the army and the police force -- have the will and the ability to take the baton from American troops? Will the Afghans sustain the gains? Will all of the blood and treasure the United States has expended have been worth it? Or will Afghanistan slip back to chaos?

None of this means the Talibs will be able to roll into Kabul with the same ease as they did in the 1990s; the Kabul government won't fall as Saigon's did in Vietnam. The Afghan army, it appears, should be able to protect major cities and other critical areas. But the insurgents almost certainly will expand control of rural districts, and they will retain the ability to conduct frequent attacks against government and civilian targets. The foreseeable future will be messy and chaotic. But many Americans may well see it as acceptable. Osama bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaeda is on the ropes. The Taliban leadership has taken a beating.

Could all of that have occurred without a surge? Could the United States have achieved a similarly messy but good-enough outcome without hundreds more dead Americans and thousands more gravely wounded? More than 1,100 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan since the first troops arrived in Afghanistan in January 2010. Of course, many hundreds of Americans likely would have been killed had Obama held troop levels at the pre-surge level of 68,000.

Surge proponents insist that the influx of troops was essential to reversing the Taliban's momentum and creating enough breathing room to build the Afghan army. But accomplishing those goals did not require large conventional Army and Marine brigades tromping through the desert. Special Operations forces deserve a lot of the credit for the pummeling of the Taliban. Their numbers -- and those of the training force for the Afghan army -- could have been augmented without a full-on surge. All it required was reallocating the mix of troops already on the ground.

Commanders insist that the large surge force was crucial to assembling the necessary intelligence for special operators to conduct their raids. I don't buy it. The vast majority of the night raids conducted in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 were based on signals intelligence -- mobile phone calls, text messages, and conversations on walkie-talkies that were vacuumed up by the National Security Agency and the U.S. military eavesdropping aircraft that continuously circled over the country -- not on information provided by villagers who suddenly felt safer because American troops were around. The intelligence analysts who assembled "target packets" -- the material given to Special Operations teams that identified where individual insurgent leaders were hiding -- had a bias against tips from Afghans who walked up to U.S. bases. More often than not, the supposed bad guy was simply a member of a rival tribe or someone who had a dispute with the tipster. It was a lesson the Americans had learned the hard way: Too often, in the early years of the war, U.S. troops had unwittingly been pulled into local conflicts. By relying on phones and radios, they avoided that problem.

So what should the president have done back in 2009? Well, I'm not one of those who think we should have just packed up and left. Had we done that -- or if we do that today -- it likely would condemn Afghans to the hell of a prolonged insurgency or another civil war. When the United States launched the war in 2001, Washington made an implicit promise to the Afghan people: that if they stood with America against the Taliban, we'd give them a shot at a better, freer life. But that didn't require a counterinsurgency strategy and a surge that tired us out.

One of the protagonists in my book, a former State Department officer named Kael Weston who spent seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan -- more than any other American diplomat -- argued that instead of going big or going home, we should have gone long. The president needed to determine how many troops he was willing to commit to Afghanistan for a decade or more, and then he needed to pledge that level of support to the Afghan people. That meant no surge. But Weston was convinced that a smaller but enduring force would be smarter on all fronts: It would appeal to the Afghans, who chafed at the presence of so many foreign soldiers on their soil; it would compel the Afghan army to more quickly assume responsibility for fighting the Taliban and securing the population; it would encourage the Taliban to come to the negotiating table; and it would force the Americans to focus on only the most essential missions instead of grand nation-building projects. Afghanistan, he often told me, is a marathon, not a sprint. The surge was a sprint. And America got winded too quickly.

White House widens covert war in N. Africa


White House widens covert war in N. Africa

by Kimberly Dozier - Oct. 2, 2012 10:26 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Small teams of special operations forces arrived at American embassies throughout North Africa in the months before militants launched the fiery attack that killed the U.S. ambassador in Libya.

The soldiers' mission: Set up a network that could quickly strike a terrorist target or rescue a hostage.

The White House signed off a year ago on the plan to build the new military counterterror task force in the region, and the advance teams have been there for six months, according to three U.S. counterterror officials and a former intelligence official.

The effort indicates that the administration has been worried about a growing threat posed by al-Qaida and its offshoots in North Africa.

Too new for Benghazi

But officials say the military organization was too new to respond to the attack in Benghazi, where the administration now believes armed al-Qaida-linked militants surrounded the lightly guarded U.S. compound, set it on fire and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Republicans have questioned whether the Obama administration has been hiding key information or hasn't known what happened in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

On Tuesday, leaders of a congressional committee said requests for added security at the consulate in Benghazi were repeatedly denied, despite a string of less deadly terror attacks on the consulate in recent months. Those included an explosion that blew a hole in the security perimeter and another incident in which an explosive device was tossed over the consulate fence.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Congress in a letter responding to the accusations that she has set up a group to investigate the Benghazi attack, and it is to begin work this week.

As of early September, the special operations teams still consisted only of liaison officers who were assigned to establish relationships with local governments and U.S. officials in the region. Only limited counterterrorism operations have been conducted in Africa so far.

The White House, the CIA and U.S. Africa Command all declined to comment.

"There are no plans at this stage for unilateral U.S. military operations" in the region, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Tuesday, adding that the focus was on helping African countries build their own forces. Proceeding with caution

The go-slow approach with the unit run by Delta Force -- the Army's top clandestine counterterrorist unit -- is an effort by the White House to counter criticism from some U.S. lawmakers, human rights activists and others that the anti-terror fight is shifting largely to a secret war using special operations raids and drone strikes, with little public accountability.

The administration gets buy-in from all players who might be affected, such as the ambassadors, the CIA station chiefs, regional U.S. military commanders and local leaders.

Eventually, the Delta Force group is to form the backbone of a military task force responsible for combatting al-Qaida and other terrorist groups across the region with an arsenal that includes drones. But first, it will work to win acceptance by helping North African nations build their own special operations and counterterror units.

And nothing precludes the administration from using other military or intelligence units to retaliate against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 consulate attack in Benghazi. 'Haven't moved fast enough'

But some congressional leaders say the administration is not reacting quickly enough.

"Clearly, they haven't moved fast enough to battle the threat," said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich.

While Rogers would not comment on the special operations counterterrorism network, he said, "You actually have to hunt them (terrorists) down. No swift action, and we will be the recipient of something equally bad happening to another diplomat."

Only Yemeni al-Qaida attempted attack so far

The Obama administration has been concerned about the growing power and influence of al-Qaida offshoots in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and North Africa.

Only the Yemeni branch has tried to attack American territory directly so far, with a series of thwarted bomb plots aimed at U.S.-bound aircraft.

A Navy SEAL task force set up in 2009 has used a combination of raids and drone strikes to fight militants in Yemen and Somalia, working together with the CIA and local forces.

Presidential debate draws tweets for Big Bird

Sure a 0.01 percent chunk of pork for one special interest group ain't much, but you get 10,000 of them and that's why Congress is bankrupting America and we have an $11+ trillion national debt


Presidential debate draws tweets for Big Bird

by Michael Clancy - Oct. 4, 2012 04:59 PM

The Republic |

Arizona's PBS station Channel 8 (KAET) lately has been running a spot that shows Big Bird picking up a child, then touring the world Forrest Gump-style.

In sort of the same vein, Big Bird walked into the presidential debate Wednesday evening, and on Thursday, it was the talk of the town.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney, noting that he would cut any government program that requires borrowing from China, said he likes Big Bird and moderator Jim Lehrer, longtime PBS news anchor, but he would cut funding to their employer anyway.

Twitter and Facebook lit up, as they did only a few other times during the debate.

Eight times during the debate, the number of tweets passed the 120,000-per-hour mark. Three of them marked squabbles that President Barack Obama and Romney had with Lehrer. The Big Bird remark resulted in 135,000 tweets per minute, according to the social-media website.

Many of them were along the lines of "Save Big Bird."

Kelly McCullough, general manager of Channel 8 in Phoenix, the PBS station, noted that Republican attacks on public broadcasting happen occasionally.

"Every decade or so, someone tries to go after our meager but vital subsidy," McCullough said.

It's a relatively tiny amount of the federal budget, just 0.01 percent, and it is popular with the public, he said

Channel 8 gets 16 percent of its budget from the subsidy, he said.

Robbie Sherwood, a Democratic political analyst who blogged about the debate on Wednesday on, said conservatives believe public broadcasting, especially National Public Radio, is too liberal.

"When asked how he would make massive budget cuts, it was the only detail (Romney) gave," Sherwood said.

Generally, Sherwood said, Romney steered away from the conservative line he took during the primary to take a more centrist position in the debate.

"The more he talked, the more he alienated the base, so the PBS thing was like throwing a bone to them," he said.

Republican consultant Chuck Coughlin said the public-broadcasting line is "red meat" to the most conservative members of the party.

"It grabs the attention of a certain portion of the electorate," he said. "The most highly partisan Republicans already distrust the media, and when you throw in public funding, they dislike it even more."

At least, Coughlin said, Romney did not trash Sesame Street's most iconic figure.

"He delivered the line with at least some reverence for Big Bird."

Obama asks businesses to break law so he can get reelected!!!!

More of the old "do as I say, not as I do" from our government masters.

Look I think it's a silly law that should be repealed, if it's not unconstitutional.

But Obama is asking employees to break the law to help him get reelected.

"The Obama administration has told defense contractors anticipating possible layoffs ... not to issue 60-day notices as is usually required by law"

"Political analysts have speculated that White House officials did not want warnings of mass layoffs by defense contractors being issued just before the Nov. 6 general election"


Massive defense layoffs in limbo

Employers told not to give 60-day notice

by J. Craig Anderson - Oct. 6, 2012 02:31 PM

The Republic |

The looming threat of automatic defense-spending cuts in January has sparked a political battle over a law that requires large employers in Arizona and elsewhere to notify workers in most cases at least 60 days before instituting massive layoffs.

The Obama administration has told defense contractors anticipating possible layoffs as a result of the scheduled budget cuts, known as sequestrations, not to issue 60-day notices as is usually required by law.

Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., are calling the White House Office of Management and Budget's instructions a violation of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act, a law passed by a veto-proof majority of Democrats during the Reagan administration.

They say the lack of proper notification could place the financial burden of additional severance pay and legal costs on taxpayers if widespread layoffs occur.

"It's totally illegal. And they're saying that the taxpayers will pick up the tab for any legal problems that they have," McCain told The Republic. "I mean, that's the most outrageous thing I've ever seen."

Last week, several defense contractors, including BAE Systems, a British company with operations in Arizona, backed off threats to issue layoff notices to employees in the coming weeks, a move they had said might be needed given the threat of federal budget cuts mandated by 2011 legislation related to raising the national debt ceiling.

The change in direction was prompted by a White House memo issued in late September that directs contractors to follow the guidance of the Labor Department. In a July letter, the department said the WARN Act does not require contractors facing sequestration to send notices to workers that they could be let go.

In its new guidance, the White House said that if sequestration occurs and an agency terminates or changes a contract that results in a plant closing or mass layoff, the contractors' liability and litigation costs under the WARN Act would be "allowable costs" covered by the contracting agency.

Political analysts have speculated that White House officials did not want warnings of mass layoffs by defense contractors being issued just before the Nov. 6 general election.

Other contractors, including the Boeing Co., which also has significant operations in Arizona, said they never had planned to issue WARN Act notices prior to the automatic cuts actually taking effect.

Dan Beck, director of international business development and strategy communications for Boeing, said it has been the company's position all along not to issue WARN notices until after it receives detailed information from government customers about specific programs that would be cut.

That probably would not happen until after automatic cuts go into effect, if they go into effect at all, which many defense-industry insiders believe will not happen.

"It was never our intent to issue sequestration-related WARN notices prior to the general election," Beck said.

As one of the nation's top employers of defense and aerospace workers, Arizona faces a serious economic threat if Congress fails to meet its self-imposed January budget deadline to avert billions of dollars in automatic federal-spending cuts.

To accomplish that, Congress must pass a budget that reduces the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, either through spending cuts, revenue increases or both. Political analysts say it's likely Congress will take up the issue in its lame-duck session after the November elections.

If lawmakers fail to reach a compromise by the end of the year, they also could vote to extend the deadline for sequestrations by six months, a year or even longer.

Many political observers and economic experts, and some lawmakers, are confident there will at least be a short-term solution. But no one in the defense industry is taking it for granted.

If Congress fails to reach a deal to avoid the required $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts over the coming decade, including $500 billion in defense-spending cuts, the fallout could lead to more than 49,000 layoffs in Arizona and a $4.95 billion loss to the gross state product based on proposed spending cuts over nine years and their continuing ripple effect, according to a report by George Mason University in Virginia.

Robert J. Samuelson nails Obama for his $5 trillion dollar lie.

But sadly almost all the candidates running for office will lie and say anything to get your vote.

Romney is just as guilty of lying as Obama is.


The $5 trillion tax cut that isn’t

By Robert J. Samuelson, Published: October 10

Let’s review again the math of Mitt Romney’s proposed tax cuts to show why — contrary to the rhetoric from President Obama’s campaign — they do not amount to a $5 trillion tax cut for the rich. We all understand that campaigns involve self-serving exaggerations, simplifications and partial truths. But if politics is to retain any integrity, a line must be drawn at statements and innuendoes that are demonstrably false.

That’s happened here. The Obama campaign has distorted the results of a study by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group, and created a fictitious $5 trillion tax cut. Some news organizations have embraced the distortion. The TPC should issue a statement saying its results have been twisted, leaving no doubt. News organizations that bought into the fabrication should retract their previous reporting. Topping the list is NBC News, which is in the awkward position of having one of its broadcasts inserted in an Obama TV spot.

Let me emphasize that my criticism of Obama’s campaign is not an endorsement of Romney’s tax plan, many of whose features I oppose. Among other items, I dislike his proposals (a) to continue taxing “capital income” (dividends and capital gains) at lower rates than labor income; (b) to abolish taxes on capital income for taxpayers with incomes less than $200,000; (c) to eliminate the estate tax. Ditching these proposals might make it possible to achieve a simpler income tax system with a top rate of 30 percent.

The Tax Policy Center report concluded that Romney can’t cut tax rates 20 percent while raising the same amount of tax revenue and not increasing taxes on the middle class. Something would have to give, the TPC said, because Romney has put too many loopholes for the rich off-limits. But even if the TPC is broadly correct — as I think it is — it does not follow that Romney plans a $5 trillion tax cut for the rich.

The $5 trillion figure never appears in the report. Rather, the report estimates the cost of Romney’s plan for 2015. Altogether in 2015, his proposed rate cuts would reduce tax revenues by $456 billion, the TPC reckons. Multiplying that by 10, and assuming some inflation and economic growth, gives a roughly $5 trillion estimate for a decade.

Here’s why this isn’t a $5 trillion cut for the rich. Start with the $456 billion in 2015. Only $360 billion of that reflects reductions in individual tax rates. The rest involves the corporate tax and isn’t analyzed by the TPC. The study assumes — perhaps implausibly — that any lost revenues from lower corporate rates would be offset by fewer corporate tax breaks. Over a decade, that’s slightly more than $1 trillion of the $5 trillion off the table.

It’s true that most individual rate reductions would go to wealthier taxpayers, because the wealthy pay most federal taxes. (In 2012, the 4 percent of taxpayers with incomes exceeding $200,000 paid nearly 45 percent of federal taxes, the TPC says.) Still, Romney’s proposed rate cuts also benefit those with incomes of $200,000 or less; that’s one dividing line between upper-middle class and wealthy. The TPC estimates that these rate cuts are worth $109 billion for 2015. Over a decade, that’s slightly more than another $1 trillion not going to the rich.

The remaining rate cuts for the wealthy equal about 60 percent of the $5 trillion over a decade, or $3 trillion. Romney contends that closing existing tax breaks would recoup lost revenues. Not so, says the TPC. There aren’t enough. Still, the TPC estimates that two-thirds of the lost revenues might be offset by fewer tax breaks. If so, this eliminates another $2 trillion over a decade available for tax cuts for the rich.

The remaining $1 trillion is still a lot of money, and Romney can be harshly criticized for making more promises than he can keep. Which ones would he break? In the first debate, he was emphatic. He wouldn’t propose any tax cut that increased the deficit or the middle class’s tax burden. One way to keep these pledges is to pare back rate cuts for the rich or attack some tax preferences put off-limits by Romney. Then, the net tax cut for the rich would be zero.

The TPC never claimed to find a $5 trillion giveaway to the rich. News organizations peddling this line have unwittingly enlisted in the Obama campaign.

Will Obama bomb Libya to get reelected???

Will Obama order drone strikes on Libya to get reelected in 2012?

From this article it sounds like Emperor Obama is considering drone strikes against Libya, thinking they may help him get reelected in 2012 by being "tough on terrorists".

Of course drone strikes on Libya would be an illegal act of war by the President violating both the U.S. Constitution and International law.

But don't count on the President obeying the law. American Presidents have routinely violated both the U.S. Constitution and International Law many times since World War II, when the American Empire has invaded or bomb countries through out the world.


White House mulls how to strike over Libya attack

Oct. 15, 2012 03:45 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The White House has put special operations strike forces on standby and moved drones into the skies above Africa, ready to strike militant targets from Libya to Mali -- if investigators can find the al-Qaida-linked group responsible for the death of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya.

But officials say the administration, with weeks until the presidential election, is weighing whether the short-term payoff of exacting retribution on al-Qaida is worth the risk that such strikes could elevate the group's profile in the region, alienate governments the U.S. needs to fight it in the future and do little to slow the growing terror threat in North Africa.

Details on the administration's position and on its search for a possible target were provided by three current and one former administration official, as well as an analyst who was approached by the White House for help. All four spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the high-level debates publicly.

The dilemma shows the tension of the White House's need to demonstrate it is responding forcefully to al-Qaida, balanced against its long-term plans to develop relationships and trust with local governments and build a permanent U.S. counterterrorist network in the region.

Vice President Joe Biden pledged in his debate last week with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan to find those responsible for the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

"We will find and bring to justice the men who did this," Biden said in response to a question about whether intelligence failures led to lax security around Stevens and the consulate. Referring back to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden last year, Biden said American counterterror policy should be, "if you do harm to America, we will track you to the gates of hell if need be."

The White House declined to comment on the debate over how best to respond to the Benghazi attack.

The attack has become an issue in the U.S. election season, with Republicans accusing the Obama administration of being slow to label the assault an act of terrorism early on, and slow to strike back at those responsible.

"They are aiming for a small pop, a flash in the pan, so as to be able to say, 'Hey, we're doing something about it,'" said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rudy Attalah, the former Africa counterterrorism director for the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush.

Attalah noted that in 1998, after the embassy bombing in Nairobi, the Clinton administration fired cruise missiles to take out a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan that may have been producing chemical weapons for al-Qaida.

"It was a way to say, 'Look, we did something,'" he said.

A Washington-based analyst with extensive experience in Africa said that administration officials have approached him asking for help in connecting the dots to Mali, whose northern half fell to al-Qaida-linked rebels this spring. They wanted to know if he could suggest potential targets, which he says he was not able to do.

"The civilian side is looking into doing something, and is running into a lot of pushback from the military side," the analyst said. "The resistance that is coming from the military side is because the military has both worked in the region and trained in the region. So they are more realistic."

Islamists in the region are preparing for a reaction from the U.S.

"If America hits us, I promise you that we will multiply the Sept. 11 attack by 10," said Oumar Ould Hamaha, a spokesman for the Islamists in northern Mali, while denying that his group or al-Qaida fighters based in Mali played a role in the Benghazi attack.

Finding the militants who overwhelmed a small security force at the consulate isn't going to be easy.

The key suspects are members of the Libyan militia group Ansar al-Shariah. The group has denied responsibility, but eyewitnesses saw Ansar fighters at the consulate, and U.S. intelligence intercepted phone calls after the attack from Ansar fighters to leaders of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, bragging about it. The affiliate's leaders are known to be mostly in northern Mali, where they have seized a territory as large as Texas following a coup in the country's capital.

But U.S. investigators have only loosely linked "one or two names" to the attack, and they lack proof that it was planned ahead of time, or that the local fighters had any help from the larger al-Qaida affiliate, officials say.

If that proof is found, the White House must decide whether to ask Libyan security forces to arrest the suspects with an eye to extraditing them to the U.S. for trial, or to simply target the suspects with U.S. covert action.

U.S. officials say covert action is more likely. The FBI couldn't gain access to the consulate until weeks after the attack, so it is unlikely it will be able to build a strong criminal case. The U.S. is also leery of trusting the arrest and questioning of the suspects to the fledgling Libyan security forces and legal system still building after the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

The burden of proof for U.S. covert action is far lower, but action by the CIA or special operations forces still requires a body of evidence that shows the suspect either took part in the violence or presents a "continuing and persistent, imminent threat" to U.S. targets, current and former officials said.

"If the people who were targeted were themselves directly complicit in this attack or directly affiliated with a group strongly implicated in the attack, then you can make an argument of imminence of threat," said Robert Grenier, former director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center.

But if the U.S. acts alone to target them in Africa, " it raises all kinds of sovereignty issues ... and makes people very uncomfortable," said Grenier, who has criticized the CIA's heavy use of drones in Pakistan without that government's support.

Even a strike that happens with permission could prove problematic, especially in Libya or Mali where al-Qaida supporters are currently based. Both countries have fragile, interim governments that could lose popular support if they are seen allowing the U.S. unfettered access to hunt al-Qaida.

The Libyan government is so wary of the U.S. investigation expanding into unilateral action that it refused requests to arm the drones now being flown over Libya. Libyan officials have complained publicly that they were unaware of how large the U.S. intelligence presence was in Benghazi until a couple of dozen U.S. officials showed up at the airport after the attack, waiting to be evacuated -- roughly twice the number of U.S. staff the Libyans thought were there. A number of those waiting to be evacuated worked for U.S. intelligence, according to two American officials.

In Mali, U.S. officials have urged the government to allow special operations trainers to return, to work with Mali's forces to push al-Qaida out of that country's northern area. AQIM is among the groups that filled the power vacuum after a coup by rebellious Malian forces in March. U.S. special operations forces trainers left Mali just days after the coup. While such trainers have not been invited to return, the U.S. has expanded its intelligence effort on Mali, focusing satellite and spy flights over the contested northern region to track and map the militant groups vying for control of the territory, officials say.

In northern Mali, residents in the three largest cities say they hear the sound of airplanes overhead but can't spot them. That's standard for drones, which are often invisible to the naked eye, flying several thousand feet above ground.

Residents say the plane sounds have increased sharply in recent weeks, following both the attack in Benghazi and the growing calls for a military intervention in Mali.

Chabane Arby, a 23-year-old student from Timbuktu, said the planes make a growling sound overhead. "When they hear them, the Islamists come out and start shooting into the sky," he said.

Aboubacrine Aidarra, another resident of Timbuktu, said the planes circle overhead both day and night. "I have a friend who said he recently saw six at one time, circling overhead. ... They are planes that fly at high altitudes. But they make a big sound. "

Battery maker's bankruptcy gives Obama critics more ammunition


Battery maker's bankruptcy gives Obama critics more ammunition

By Don Lee

October 16, 2012, 1:09 p.m.

WASHINGTON -- Exposing President Obama to further criticisms of his administration's economic policies, a leading electric-car battery maker that received a large federal grant filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday and said it was selling its auto-business assets.

A123 Systems Inc., a company built with innovative MIT-developed technology and a $249-million grant under Obama's 2009 economic stimulus program, said it signed a deal to sell its two Michigan manufacturing plants and some other assets to Johnson Controls Inc. in a deal valued at $125 million.

The announcement by A123, coming on the day of the second presidential debate, could be seized by Republican challenger Mitt Romney to further his attacks on the administration's stimulus and in particular its use of federal dollars to help certain companies as a boost to the nation's green technology.

Another advanced-battery maker that received a federal grant, Ener1, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. And Obama took considerable heat after the demise of Solyndra, a solar company that lost $527 million in government money.

Two Republican senators immediately pounced on the news Tuesday.

"A123 is yet another example of President Obama gambling with taxpayer dollars and picking winners and losers in the green energy world," said John Thune of South Dakota, who joined with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa in issuing statements questioning whether the Energy Department had done adequate due diligence before making the grant.

The Energy Department, in a memo Tuesday that seemed to anticipate renewed criticisms, said the advanced-battery market was continuing to expand significantly in the U.S. and around the world, and that A123's sale will allow it to remain a vital part of the industry in America.

"Four years ago, virtually all advanced vehicle batteries were built overseas, and it looked like the United States might miss out on this enormously important, rapidly expanding market," the memo said in explaining why the Energy Department began making investments to jump-start the industry.

The memo said the department, with bipartisan support, awarded $2 billion in grants to 29 companies to build or retool manufacturing facilities for advanced-battery manufacturers and other companies making parts for electric cars. As for A123 and its promising lithium-ion technology, the memo said, the company has a long history of having garnered bipartisan support.

The Chapter 11 filing by A123, which is based in Waltham, Mass., came a day after it said it couldn't make a $2.8-million interest payment to bondholders due Monday. In August, the company struck a deal for a $75-million loan with an American subsidiary of Chinese auto-parts giant Wanxiang Group, but A123’s chief executive, David Vieau, said in a statement Tuesday that there were "unanticipated and significant challenges to its completion."

Obama wants to murder suspected criminals

Hunt down criminals and arrest them??? Hell no, Obama plans to murder them. Screw that fair trial thing!

Targeted killing is now so routine that the Obama administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain it.

The only question I have is when will the President allow the DEA to add names of suspected drug dealers to his murder list.

Of course first it will only be suspected drug dealers in foreign countries, then over time suspected drug dealers in America will be added to the list.


Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists

By Greg Miller, Published: October 23

Editor’s note: This project, based on interviews with dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others, examines evolving U.S. counterterrorism policies and the practice of targeted killing. This is the first of three stories.

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.

Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.

“We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a necessary part of what we do. . . . We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.’ ”

That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism. Targeting lists that were regarded as finite emergency measures after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are now fixtures of the national security apparatus. The rosters expand and contract with the pace of drone strikes but never go to zero.

Meanwhile, a significant milestone looms: The number of militants and civilians killed in the drone campaign over the past 10 years will soon exceed 3,000 by certain estimates, surpassing the number of people al-Qaeda killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Obama administration has touted its successes against the terrorist network, including the death of Osama bin Laden, as signature achievements that argue for President Obama’s reelection. The administration has taken tentative steps toward greater transparency, formally acknowledging for the first time the United States’ use of armed drones.

Less visible is the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war. Spokesmen for the White House, the National Counterterrorism Center, the CIA and other agencies declined to comment on the matrix or other counterterrorism programs.

Privately, officials acknowledge that the development of the matrix is part of a series of moves, in Washington and overseas, to embed counterterrorism tools into U.S. policy for the long haul.

White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is seeking to codify the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists, part of a broader effort to guide future administrations through the counterterrorism processes that Obama has embraced.

CIA Director David H. Petraeus is pushing for an expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, U.S. officials said. The proposal, which would need White House approval, reflects the agency’s transformation into a paramilitary force, and makes clear that it does not intend to dismantle its drone program and return to its pre-Sept. 11 focus on gathering intelligence.

The U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, which carried out the raid that killed bin Laden, has moved commando teams into suspected terrorist hotbeds in Africa. A rugged U.S. outpost in Djibouti has been transformed into a launching pad for counterterrorism operations across the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.

JSOC also has established a secret targeting center across the Potomac River from Washington, current and former U.S. officials said. The elite command’s targeting cells have traditionally been located near the front lines of its missions, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. But JSOC created a “national capital region” task force that is a 15-minute commute from the White House so it could be more directly involved in deliberations about al-Qaeda lists.

The developments were described by current and former officials from the White House and the Pentagon, as well as intelligence and counterterrorism agencies. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

These counterterrorism components have been affixed to a legal foundation for targeted killing that the Obama administration has discussed more openly over the past year. In a series of speeches, administration officials have cited legal bases, including the congressional authorization to use military force granted after the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as the nation’s right to defend itself.

Critics contend that those justifications have become more tenuous as the drone campaign has expanded far beyond the core group of al-Qaeda operatives behind the strikes on New York and Washington. Critics note that the administration still doesn’t confirm the CIA’s involvement or the identities of those who are killed. Certain strikes are now under legal challenge, including the killings last year in Yemen of U.S.-born al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son.

Counterterrorism experts said the reliance on targeted killing is self-perpetuating, yielding undeniable short-term results that may obscure long-term costs.

“The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and Obama counterterrorism adviser. “You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”

An evolving database

The United States now operates multiple drone programs, including acknowledged U.S. military patrols over conflict zones in Afghanistan and Libya, and classified CIA surveillance flights over Iran.

Strikes against al-Qaeda, however, are carried out under secret lethal programs involving the CIA and JSOC. The matrix was developed by the NCTC, under former director Michael Leiter, to augment those organizations’ separate but overlapping kill lists, officials said.

The result is a single, continually evolving database in which biographies, locations, known associates and affiliated organizations are all catalogued. So are strategies for taking targets down, including extradition requests, capture operations and drone patrols.

Obama’s decision to shutter the CIA’s secret prisons ended a program that had become a source of international scorn, but it also complicated the pursuit of terrorists. Unless a suspect surfaced in the sights of a drone in Pakistan or Yemen, the United States had to scramble to figure out what to do.

“We had a disposition problem,” said a former U.S. counterterrorism official involved in developing the matrix.

The database is meant to map out contingencies, creating an operational menu that spells out each agency’s role in case a suspect surfaces in an unexpected spot. “If he’s in Saudi Arabia, pick up with the Saudis,” the former official said. “If traveling overseas to al-Shabaab [in Somalia] we can pick him up by ship. If in Yemen, kill or have the Yemenis pick him up.”

Officials declined to disclose the identities of suspects on the matrix. They pointed, however, to the capture last year of alleged al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame off the coast of Yemen. Warsame was held for two months aboard a U.S. ship before being transferred to the custody of the Justice Department and charged in federal court in New York.

“Warsame was a classic case of ‘What are we going to do with him?’ ” the former counterterrorism official said. In such cases, the matrix lays out plans, including which U.S. naval vessels are in the vicinity and which charges the Justice Department should prepare.

“Clearly, there were people in Yemen that we had on the matrix,” as well as others in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the former counterterrorism official said. The matrix was a way to be ready if they moved. “How do we deal with these guys in transit? You weren’t going to fire a drone if they were moving through Turkey or Iran.”

Officials described the matrix as a database in development, although its status is unclear. Some said it has not been implemented because it is too cumbersome. Others, including officials from the White House, Congress and intelligence agencies, described it as a blueprint that could help the United States adapt to al-Qaeda’s morphing structure and its efforts to exploit turmoil across North Africa and the Middle East.

A year after Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta declared the core of al-Qaeda near strategic defeat, officials see an array of emerging threats beyond Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — the three countries where almost all U.S. drone strikes have occurred.

The Arab spring has upended U.S. counterterrorism partnerships in countries including Egypt where U.S. officials fear al-Qaeda could establish new roots. The network’s affiliate in North Africa, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has seized territory in northern Mali and acquired weapons that were smuggled out of Libya.

“Egypt worries me to no end,” a high-ranking administration official said. “Look at Libya, Algeria and Mali and then across the Sahel. You’re talking about such wide expanses of territory, with open borders and military, security and intelligence capabilities that are basically nonexistent.”

Streamlining targeted killing

The creation of the matrix and the institutionalization of kill/capture lists reflect a shift that is as psychological as it is strategic.

Before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States recoiled at the idea of targeted killing. The Sept. 11 commission recounted how the Clinton administration had passed on a series of opportunities to target bin Laden in the years before the attacks — before armed drones existed. President Bill Clinton approved a set of cruise-missile strikes in 1998 after al-Qaeda bombed embassies in East Africa, but after extensive deliberation, and the group’s leader escaped harm.

Targeted killing is now so routine that the Obama administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain it.

This year, the White House scrapped a system in which the Pentagon and the National Security Council had overlapping roles in scrutinizing the names being added to U.S. target lists.

Now the system functions like a funnel, starting with input from half a dozen agencies and narrowing through layers of review until proposed revisions are laid on Brennan’s desk, and subsequently presented to the president.

Video-conference calls that were previously convened by Adm. Mike Mullen, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been discontinued. Officials said Brennan thought the process shouldn’t be run by those who pull the trigger on strikes.

“What changed is rather than the chairman doing that, John chairs the meeting,” said Leiter, the former head of the NCTC.

The administration has also elevated the role of the NCTC, which was conceived as a clearinghouse for threat data and has no operational capability. Under Brennan, who served as its founding director, the center has emerged as a targeting hub.

Other entities have far more resources focused on al-Qaeda. The CIA, JSOC and U.S. Central Command have hundreds of analysts devoted to the terrorist network’s franchise in Yemen, while the NCTC has fewer than two dozen. But the center controls a key function.

“It is the keeper of the criteria,” a former U.S. counterterrorism official said, meaning that it is in charge of culling names from al-Qaeda databases for targeting lists based on criteria dictated by the White House.

The criteria are classified but center on obvious questions: Who are the operational leaders? Who are the key facilitators? A typical White House request will direct the NCTC to generate a list of al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen involved in carrying out or plotting attacks against U.S. personnel in Sanaa.

The lists are reviewed at regular three-month intervals during meetings at the NCTC headquarters that involve analysts from other organizations, including the CIA, the State Department and JSOC. Officials stress that these sessions don’t equate to approval for additions to kill lists, an authority that rests exclusively with the White House.

With no objections — and officials said those have been rare — names are submitted to a panel of National Security Council officials that is chaired by Brennan and includes the deputy directors of the CIA and the FBI, as well as top officials from the State Department, the Pentagon and the NCTC.

Obama approves the criteria for lists and signs off on drone strikes outside Pakistan, where decisions on when to fire are made by the director of the CIA. But aside from Obama’s presence at “Terror Tuesday” meetings — which generally are devoted to discussing terrorism threats and trends rather than approving targets — the president’s involvement is more indirect.

“The president would never come to a deputies meeting,” a senior administration official said, although participants recalled cases in which Brennan stepped out of the situation room to get Obama’s direction on questions the group couldn’t resolve.

The review process is compressed but not skipped when the CIA or JSOC has compelling intelligence and a narrow window in which to strike, officials said. The approach also applies to the development of criteria for “signature strikes,” which allow the CIA and JSOC to hit targets based on patterns of activity — packing a vehicle with explosives, for example — even when the identities of those who would be killed is unclear.

A model approach

For an administration that is the first to embrace targeted killing on a wide scale, officials seem confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit.

During Monday’s presidential debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney made it clear that he would continue the drone campaign. “We can’t kill our way out of this,” he said, but added later that Obama was “right to up the usage” of drone strikes and that he would do the same.

As Obama nears the end of his term, officials said the kill list in Pakistan has slipped to fewer than 10 al-Qaeda targets, down from as many as two dozen. The agency now aims many of its Predator strikes at the Haqqani network, which has been blamed for attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

In Yemen, the number of militants on the list has ranged from 10 to 15, officials said, and is not likely to slip into the single digits anytime soon, even though there have been 36 U.S. airstrikes this year.

The number of targets on the lists isn’t fixed, officials said, but fluctuates based on adjustments to criteria. Officials defended the arrangement even while acknowledging an erosion in the caliber of operatives placed in the drones’ cross hairs.

“Is the person currently Number 4 as good as the Number 4 seven years ago? Probably not,” said a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official involved in the process until earlier this year. “But it doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous.”

In focusing on bureaucratic refinements, the administration has largely avoided confronting more fundamental questions about the lists. Internal doubts about the effectiveness of the drone campaign are almost nonexistent. So are apparent alternatives.

“When you rely on a particular tactic, it starts to become the core of your strategy — you see the puff of smoke, and he’s gone,” said Paul Pillar, a former deputy director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center. “When we institutionalize certain things, including targeted killing, it does cross a threshold that makes it harder to cross back.”

For a decade, the dimensions of the drone campaign have been driven by short-term objectives: the degradation of al-Qaeda and the prevention of a follow-on, large-scale attack on American soil.

Side effects are more difficult to measure — including the extent to which strikes breed more enemies of the United States — but could be more consequential if the campaign continues for 10 more years.

“We are looking at something that is potentially indefinite,” Pillar said. “We have to pay particular attention, maybe more than we collectively have so far, to the longer-term pros and cons to the methods we use.”

Obama administration officials at times have sought to trigger debate over how long the nation might employ the kill lists. But officials said the discussions became dead ends.

In one instance, Mullen, the former Joint Chiefs chairman, returned from Pakistan and recounted a heated confrontation with his counterpart, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Mullen told White House and counterterrorism officials that the Pakistani military chief had demanded an answer to a seemingly reasonable question: After hundreds of drone strikes, how could the United States possibly still be working its way through a “top 20” list?

The issue resurfaced after the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden. Seeking to repair a rift with Pakistan, Panetta, the CIA director, told Kayani and others that the United States had only a handful of targets left and would be able to wind down the drone campaign.

A senior aide to Panetta disputed this account, and said Panetta mentioned the shrinking target list during his trip to Islamabad but didn’t raise the prospect that drone strikes would end. Two former U.S. officials said the White House told Panetta to avoid even hinting at commitments the United States was not prepared to keep.

“We didn’t want to get into the business of limitless lists,” said a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official who spent years overseeing the lists. “There is this apparatus created to deal with counterterrorism. It’s still useful. The question is: When will it stop being useful? I don’t know.”

Karen DeYoung, Craig Whitlock and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Obama piles the BS as deep as he can pile it.

Re-elect me and I will fix the deficit problem and border problem overnight - Honest!

Don't worry after 4 years in office and doubling the National Debt (or something like that), he is going to fix it overnight if you vote for him again. Same for for the border problem. After 4 years in office and doing nothing to stop Mexicans from sneaking across the border he guarantees if you vote for him again he will fix the problem overnight. [Of course I don't think we have a border problem, if I was President I would fire everybody in the INS and rip down the fences that separate Mexico and Canada from the USA]

Of course I don't think Mitt Romney is any better. He probably shovels the BS just as good as Emperor Obama.

I'm voting for the Libertarian guy, Gary Johnson for President.


Obama vows swift results on deficit, border if he wins

By Peter Wallsten Washington Post Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:41 PM

President Barack Obama, facing criticism that he has failed to offer a vision for a potential second term, has begun sketching out his agenda with greater specificity in recent days, including a pledge to solve the nation’s intractable budget problems within “the first six months.”

In an interview made public Wednesday, Obama said he would pursue a “grand bargain” with Republicans to tame the national debt and would quickly follow that with a push to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.

With less than two weeks until Election Day, Obama chose to highlight two issues that have bedeviled him during his presidency: the debt, which has soared past $16 trillion on his watch, and immigration legislation, which never got off the launching pad over the past three years. Both are politically significant, with the debt a concern among independent voters and immigration important to the Hispanics who could decide whether Obama carries swing states such as Colorado and Nevada.

The interview, conducted Tuesday with the editor and publisher of the Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in Iowa, also marked an unusual moment in the president’s dealings with the news media.

Obama had initially insisted that the exchange, which he conducted by phone from a stop in Florida, be off the record. Then on Wednesday, his campaign abruptly decided to release a transcript after the newspaper’s editor, Rick Green, wrote a blog post calling the interview terms a “disservice” to voters. Obama is seeking the influential paper’s endorsement.

The transcript gave a surprising glimpse of Obama as political pundit, gaming out timetables and calculations for his dealings with Capitol Hill Republicans. He predicted, for instance, that an expectedly poor showing by challenger Mitt Romney among Hispanics would put pressure on GOP lawmakers to ease their opposition to an immigration overhaul that offers a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

“Since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt,” Obama said at one point. “Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community.”

With polls in swing states showing the race tightening, Obama appears to be shifting away from a strategy dominated by attacks on his opponent to one that includes a rationale for skeptical voters to re-elect him.

The Obama campaign is distributing brochures that repackage his proposals to hire more teachers, promote manufacturing and raise taxes on the wealthy.

Aides said the push to define the president’s second term also includes direct mail and a new 60-second TV ad featuring Obama looking into the camera and laying out his views on manufacturing, energy and other issues. “Read my plan,” he says.

At the top of the priority list: a promise to forge a bipartisan compromise that reduces rampant government borrowing and makes long-postponed decisions about taxes and spending. In the interview, Obama called a budget deal “one of the best things we can do for the economy.”

“We’re going to be in a position where, I believe, in the first six months, we are going to solve that big piece of business,” Obama said. “It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in taxes, and work to reduce the costs of our health-care programs.”

Obama offered no details of how he would approach negotiations with congressional Republicans. But with Washington facing a January deadline to undo more than $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts next year, Obama said, “There’s going to be a forcing mechanism to deal with what is the central ideological argument in Washington right now, and that is: How much government do we have, and how do we pay for it?”

Republicans reacted with a yawn to the news that Obama is ready to reengage on a grand bargain if he wins the election.

They noted that his proposal for a cuts-to-taxes ratio of $2.50 to $1, embodied in his most recent budget request, was roundly rejected in both the House and Senate.

Secret American Drone Warfare Base in Africa


National Security

The Permanent War

Secret ops expand at U.S. base

Remote U.S. base at core of secret operations

By Craig Whitlock, Published: October 25

This is the third of three articles.

DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti — Around the clock, about 16 times a day, drones take off or land at a U.S. military base here, the combat hub for the Obama administration’s counterterrorism wars in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.

This transcript recounts the moments before the crash of an armed drone in Djibouti on May 17, 2011. Four others have crashed since drone traffic was stepped up at the clandestine U.S. base.

Some of the unmanned aircraft are bound for Somalia, the collapsed state whose border lies just 10 miles to the southeast. Most of the armed drones, however, veer north across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen, another unstable country where they are being used in an increasingly deadly war with an al-Qaeda franchise that has targeted the United States.

Camp Lemonnier, a sun-baked Third World outpost established by the French Foreign Legion, began as a temporary staging ground for U.S. Marines looking for a foothold in the region a decade ago. Over the past two years, the U.S. military has clandestinely transformed it into the busiest Predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone, a model for fighting a new generation of terrorist groups.

The Obama administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal the legal and operational details of its targeted-killing program. Behind closed doors, painstaking debates precede each decision to place an individual in the cross hairs of the United States’ perpetual war against al-Qaeda and its allies.

Increasingly, the orders to find, track or kill those people are delivered to Camp Lemonnier. Virtually the entire 500-acre camp is dedicated to counterterrorism, making it the only installation of its kind in the Pentagon’s global network of bases.

Secrecy blankets most of the camp’s activities. The U.S. military rejected requests from The Washington Post to tour Lemonnier last month. Officials cited “operational security concerns,” although they have permitted journalists to visit in the past.

After a Post reporter showed up in Djibouti uninvited, the camp’s highest-ranking commander consented to an interview — on the condition that it take place away from the base, at Djibouti's lone luxury hotel. The commander, Army Maj. Gen. Ralph O. Baker, answered some general queries but declined to comment on drone operations or missions related to Somalia or Yemen.

Despite the secrecy, thousands of pages of military records obtained by The Post — including construction blueprints, drone accident reports and internal planning memos — open a revealing window into Camp Lemonnier. None of the documents is classified and many were acquired via public-records requests.

Taken together, the previously undisclosed documents show how the Djibouti-based drone wars sharply escalated early last year after eight Predators arrived at Lemonnier. The records also chronicle the Pentagon’s ambitious plan to further intensify drone operations here in the coming months.

The documents point to the central role played by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which President Obama has repeatedly relied on to execute the nation’s most sensitive counterterrorism missions.

About 300 Special Operations personnel plan raids and coordinate drone flights from inside a high-security compound at Lemonnier that is dotted with satellite dishes and ringed by concertina wire. Most of the commandos work incognito, concealing their names even from conventional troops on the base.

Other counterterrorism work at Lemonnier is more overt. All told, about 3,200 U.S. troops, civilians and contractors are assigned to the camp, where they train foreign militaries, gather intelligence and dole out humanitarian aid across East Africa as part of a campaign to prevent extremists from taking root.

In Washington, the Obama administration has taken a series of steps to sustain the drone campaign for another decade, developing an elaborate new targeting database, called the “disposition matrix,” and a classified “playbook” to spell out how decisions on targeted killing are made.

Djibouti is the clearest example of how the United States is laying the groundwork to carry out these operations overseas. For the past decade, the Pentagon has labeled Lemonnier an “expeditionary,” or temporary, camp. But it is now hardening into the U.S. military’s first permanent drone war base.

Centerpiece base

In August, the Defense Department delivered a master plan to Congress detailing how the camp will be used over the next quarter-century. About $1.4 billion in construction projects are on the drawing board, including a huge new compound that could house up to 1,100 Special Operations forces, more than triple the current number.

Drones will continue to be in the forefront. In response to written questions from The Post, the U.S. military confirmed publicly for the first time the presence of remotely piloted aircraft — military parlance for drones — at Camp Lemonnier and said they support “a wide variety of regional security missions.”

Intelligence collected from drone and other surveillance missions “is used to develop a full picture of the activities of violent extremist organizations and other activities of interest,” Africa Command, the arm of the U.S. military that oversees the camp, said in a statement. “However, operational security considerations prevent us from commenting on specific missions.”

For nearly a decade, the United States flew drones from Lemonnier only rarely, starting with a 2002 strike in Yemen that killed a suspected ringleader of the attack on the USS Cole.

That swiftly changed in 2010, however, after al-Qaeda’s network in Yemen attempted to bomb two U.S.-bound airliners and jihadists in Somalia separately consolidated their hold on that country. Late that year, records show, the Pentagon dispatched eight unmanned MQ-1B Predator aircraft to Djibouti and turned Lemonnier into a full-time drone base.

The impact was apparent months later: JSOC drones from Djibouti and CIA Predators from a secret base on the Arabian Peninsula converged over Yemen and killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric and prominent al-Qaeda member.

Today, Camp Lemonnier is the centerpiece of an expanding constellation of half a dozen U.S. drone and surveillance bases in Africa, created to combat a new generation of terrorist groups across the continent, from Mali to Libya to the Central African Republic. The U.S. military also flies drones from small civilian airports in Ethiopia and the Seychelles, but those operations pale in comparison to what is unfolding in Djibouti.

Lemonnier also has become a hub for conventional aircraft. In October 2011, the military boosted the airpower at the base by deploying a squadron of F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets, which can fly faster and carry more munitions than Predators.

In its written responses, Africa Command confirmed the warplanes’ presence but declined to answer questions about their mission. Two former U.S. defense officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the F-15s are flying combat sorties over Yemen, an undeclared development in the growing war against al-Qaeda forces there.

The drones and other military aircraft have crowded the skies over the Horn of Africa so much that the risk of an aviation disaster has soared.

Since January 2011, Air Force records show, five Predators armed with Hellfire missiles crashed after taking off from Lemonnier, including one drone that plummeted to the ground in a residential area of Djibouti City. No injuries were reported but four of the drones were destroyed.

Predator drones in particular are more prone to mishaps than manned aircraft, Air Force statistics show. But the accidents rarely draw public attention because there are no pilots or passengers.

As the pace of drone operations has intensified in Djibouti, Air Force mechanics have reported mysterious incidents in which the airborne robots went haywire.

In March 2011, a Predator parked at the camp started its engine without any human direction, even though the ignition had been turned off and the fuel lines closed. Technicians concluded that a software bug had infected the “brains” of the drone, but never pinpointed the problem.

“After that whole starting-itself incident, we were fairly wary of the aircraft and watched it pretty closely,” an unnamed Air Force squadron commander testified to an investigative board, according to a transcript. “Right now, I still think the software is not good.”

Prime location

Djibouti is an impoverished former French colony with fewer than 1 million people, scarce natural resources and miserably hot weather.

But as far as the U.S. military is concerned, the country's strategic value is unparalleled. Sandwiched between East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, Camp Lemonnier enables U.S. aircraft to reach hot spots such as Yemen or Somalia in minutes. Djibouti’s port also offers easy access to the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

“This is not an outpost in the middle of nowhere that is of marginal interest,” said Amanda J. Dory, the Pentagon’s deputy assistant secretary for Africa. “This is a very important location in terms of U.S. interests, in terms of freedom of navigation, when it comes to power projection.”

The U.S. military pays $38 million a year to lease Camp Lemonnier from the Djiboutian government. The base rolls across flat, sandy terrain on the edge of Djibouti City, a somnolent capital with eerily empty streets. During the day, many people stay indoors to avoid the heat and to chew khat, a mildly intoxicating plant that is popular in the region.

Hemmed in by the sea and residential areas, Camp Lemonnier’s primary shortcoming is that it has no space to expand. It is forced to share a single runway with Djibouti’s only international airport, as well as an adjoining French military base and the tiny Djiboutian armed forces.

Passengers arriving on commercial flights — there are about eight per day — can occasionally spy a Predator drone preparing for a mission. In between flights, the unmanned aircraft park under portable, fabric-covered hangars to shield them from the wind and curious eyes.

Behind the perimeter fence, construction crews are rebuilding the base to better accommodate the influx of drones. Glimpses of the secret operations can be found in an assortment of little-noticed Pentagon memoranda submitted to Congress.

Last month, for example, the Defense Department awarded a $62 million contract to build an airport taxiway extension to handle increased drone traffic at Lemonnier, an ammunition storage site and a combat-loading area for bombs and missiles.

In an Aug. 20 letter to Congress explaining the emergency contract, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said that 16 drones and four fighter jets take off or land at the Djibouti airfield each day, on average. Those operations are expected to increase, he added, without giving details.

In a separate letter to Congress, Carter said Camp Lemonnier is running out of space to park its drones, which he referred to as remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), and other planes. “The recent addition of fighters and RPAs has exacerbated the situation, causing mission delays,” he said.

Carter’s letters revealed that the drones and fighter aircraft at the base support three classified military operations, code-named Copper Dune, Jupiter Garret and Octave Shield.

Copper Dune is the name of the military’s counterterrorism operations in Yemen. Africa Command said it could not provide information about Jupiter Garret and Octave Shield, citing secrecy restrictions. The code names are unclassified.

The military often assigns similar names to related missions. Octave Fusion was the code name for a Navy SEAL-led operation in Somalia that rescued an American and a Danish hostage on Jan. 24.

Spilled secrets

Another window into the Djibouti drone operations can be found in U.S. Air Force safety records.

Whenever a military aircraft is involved in a mishap, the Air Force appoints an Accident Investigation Board to determine the cause. Although the reports focus on technical questions, supplementary documents make it possible to re-create a narrative of what happened in the hours leading up to a crash.

Air Force officers investigating the crash of a Predator on May 17, 2011, found that things started to go awry at Camp Lemonnier late that night when a man known as Frog emerged from the Special Operations compound.

The camp’s main power supply had failed and the phone lines were down. So Frog walked over to the flight line to deliver some important news to the Predator ground crew on duty, according to the investigators’ files, which were obtained by The Post as part of a public-records request.

“Frog” was the alias chosen by a major assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command. At Lemonnier, he belonged to a special collection of Navy SEALs, Delta Force soldiers, Air Force commandos and Marines known simply as “the task force.”

JSOC commandos spend their days and nights inside their compound as they plot raids against terrorist camps and pirate hideouts. Everybody on the base is aware of what they do, but the topic is taboo. “I can’t acknowledge the task force,” said Baker, the Army general and highest-ranking commander at Lemonnier.

Frog coordinated Predator hunts. He did not reveal his real name to anyone without a need to know, not even the ground-crew supervisors and operators and mechanics who cared for the Predators. The only contact came when Frog or his friends occasionally called from their compound to say it was time to ready a drone for takeoff or to prepare for a landing.

Information about each Predator mission was kept so tightly compartmentalized that the ground crews were ignorant of the drones’ targets and destinations. All they knew was that most of their Predators eventually came back, usually 20 or 22 hours later, earlier if something went awry.

On this particular night, Frog informed the crew that his Predator was returning unexpectedly, 17 hours into the flight, because of a slow oil leak.

It was not an emergency. But as the drone descended toward Djibouti City it entered a low-hanging cloud that obscured its camera sensor. Making matters worse, the GPS malfunctioned and gave incorrect altitude readings.

The crew operating the drone was flying blind. It guided the Predator on a “dangerously low glidepath,” Air Force investigators concluded, and crashed the remote-controlled plane 2.7 miles short of the runway.

The site was in a residential area and fire trucks rushed to the scene. The drone had crashed in a vacant lot and its single Hellfire missile had not detonated.

The Predator splintered apart and was a total loss. With a $3 million price tag, it had cost less than one-tenth the price of an F-15 Strike Eagle.

But in terms of spilling secrets, the damage was severe. Word spread quickly about the mysterious insect-shaped plane that had dropped from the sky. Hundreds of Djiboutians gathered and gawked at the wreckage for hours until the U.S. military arrived to retrieve the pieces.

One secret that survived, however, was Frog’s identity. The official Air Force panel assigned to investigate the Predator accident couldn’t determine his real name, much less track him down for questioning.

“Who is Frog?” one investigator demanded weeks later while interrogating a ground crew member, according to a transcript. “I’m sorry, I was just getting more explanation as to who Frog — is that a person? Or is that like a position?”

The crew member explained that Frog was a liaison officer from the task force. “He’s a Pred guy,” he shrugged. “I actually don’t know his last name.”

The accident triggered alarms at the upper echelons of the Air Force because it was the fourth drone in four months from Camp Lemonnier to crash.

Ten days earlier, on May 7, 2011, a drone carrying a Hellfire missile had an electrical malfunction shortly after it entered Yemeni airspace, according to an Air Force investigative report. The Predator turned back toward Djibouti. About one mile offshore, it rolled uncontrollably to the right, then back to the left before flipping belly up and hurtling into the sea.

“I’ve never seen a Predator do that before in my life, except in videos of other crashes,” a sensor operator from the ground crew told investigators, according to a transcript. “I’m just glad we landed it in the ocean and not someplace else.”

Flying every sortie

The remote-control drones in Djibouti are flown, via satellite link, by pilots 8,000 miles away in the United States, sitting at consoles in air-conditioned quarters at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada and Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico.

At Camp Lemonnier, conditions are much less pleasant for the Air Force ground crews that launch, recover and fix the drones.

In late 2010, after military cargo planes transported the fleet of eight Predators to Djibouti, airmen from the 60th Air Force Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron unpacked the drones from their crates and assembled them.

Soon after, without warning, a microburst storm with 80-mph winds struck the camp.

The 87-member squadron scrambled to secure the Predators and other exposed aircraft. They managed to save more than half of the “high-value, Remotely Piloted Aircraft assets from destruction, and most importantly, prevented injury and any loss of life,” according to a brief account published in Combat Edge, an Air Force safety magazine.

Even normal weather conditions could be brutal, with summertime temperatures reaching 120 degrees on top of 80 percent humidity.

“Our war reserve air conditioners literally short-circuited in the vain attempt to cool the tents in which we worked,” recalled Lt. Col. Thomas McCurley, the squadron commander. “Our small group of security forces personnel guarded the compound, flight line and other allied assets at posts exposed to the elements with no air conditioning at all.”

McCurley’s rare public account of the squadron’s activities came in June, when the Air Force awarded him a Bronze Star. At the ceremony, he avoided any explicit mention of the Predators or Camp Lemonnier. But his narrative matched what is known about the squadron’s deployment to Djibouti.

“Our greatest accomplishment was that we flew every single sortie the Air Force asked us to fly, despite the challenges we encountered,” he said. “We were an integral part in taking down some very important targets, which means a lot to me.”

He did not mention it, but the unit had gotten into the spirit of its mission by designing a uniform patch emblazoned with a skull, crossbones and a suitable nickname: “East Africa Air Pirates.”

The Air Force denied a request from The Post to interview McCurley.

Increased traffic

The frequency of U.S. military flights from Djibouti has soared, overwhelming air-traffic controllers and making the skies more dangerous.

The number of takeoffs and landings each month has more than doubled, reaching a peak of 1,666 in July compared with a monthly average of 768 two years ago, according to air-traffic statistics disclosed in Defense Department contracting documents.

Drones now account for about 30 percent of daily U.S. military flight operations at Lemonnier, according to a Post analysis.

The increased activity has meant more mishaps. Last year, drones were involved in “a string of near mid-air collisions” with NATO planes off the Horn of Africa, according to a brief safety alert published in Combat Edge magazine.

Drones also pose an aviation risk next door in Somalia. Over the past year, remote-controlled aircraft have plunged into a refugee camp, flown perilously close to a fuel dump and almost collided with a large passenger plane over Mogadishu, the capital, according to a United Nations report.

Manned planes are crashing, too. An Air Force U-28A surveillance plane crashed five miles from Camp Lemonnier while returning from a secret mission on Feb. 18, killing the four-person crew. An Air Force investigation attributed the accident to “unrecognized spatial disorientation” on the part of the crew, which ignored sensor warnings that it was flying too close to the ground.

Baker, the two-star commander at Lemonnier, played down the crashes and near-misses. He said safety had improved since he arrived in Djibouti in May.

“We’ve dramatically reduced any incidents of concern, certainly since I’ve been here,” he said.

Last month, the Defense Department awarded a $7 million contract to retrain beleaguered air-traffic controllers at Ambouli International Airport and improve their English skills.

The Djiboutian controllers handle all civilian and U.S. military aircraft. But they are “undermanned” and “over tasked due to the recent rapid increase in U.S. military flights,” according to the contract. It also states that the controllers and the airport are not in compliance with international aviation standards.

Resolving those deficiencies may not be sufficient. Records show the U.S. military is also scrambling for an alternative place for its planes to land in an emergency.

Last month, it awarded a contract to install portable lighting at the only backup site available: a tiny, makeshift airstrip in the Djiboutian desert, several miles from Lemonnier.

A CIA veteran transforms U.S. counterterrorism policy

Wow! America has turned into a police state as evil as any police state the world has ever seen. Sure we haven't murdered as many people as the Nazis, Soviets or Red Chinese, but give Obama and the next guy time and we very well could.


A CIA veteran transforms U.S. counterterrorism policy

By Karen DeYoung, Published: October 24

This is the second of three articles.

In his windowless White House office, presidential counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is compiling the rules for a war the Obama administration believes will far outlast its own time in office, whether that is just a few more months or four more years.

The “playbook,” as Brennan calls it, will lay out the administration’s evolving procedures for the targeted killings that have come to define its fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It will cover the selection and approval of targets from the “disposition matrix,” the designation of who should pull the trigger when a killing is warranted, and the legal authorities the administration thinks sanction its actions in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond.

“What we’re trying to do right now is to have a set of standards, a set of criteria, and have a decision-making process that will govern our counterterrorism actions — we’re talking about direct action, lethal action — so that irrespective of the venue where they’re taking place, we have a high confidence that they’re being done for the right reasons in the right way,” Brennan said in a lengthy interview at the end of August.

A burly 25-year CIA veteran with a stern public demeanor, Brennan is the principal architect of a policy that has transformed counterterrorism from a conventional fight centered in Afghanistan to a high-tech global effort to track down and eliminate perceived enemies one by one.

What was once a disparate collection of tactics — drone strikes by the CIA and the military, overhead surveillance, deployment of small Special Forces ground units at far-flung bases, and distribution of military and economic aid to threatened governments — has become a White House-centered strategy with Brennan at its core.

Four years ago, Brennan felt compelled to withdraw from consideration as President Obama’s first CIA director because of what he regarded as unfair criticism of his role in counterterrorism practices as an intelligence official during the George W. Bush administration. Instead, he stepped into a job in the Obama administration with greater responsibility and influence.

Brennan is leading efforts to curtail the CIA’s primary responsibility for targeted killings. Over opposition from the agency, he has argued that it should focus on intelligence activities and leave lethal action to its more traditional home in the military, where the law requires greater transparency. Still, during Brennan’s tenure, the CIA has carried out hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan and opened a new base for armed drones in the Arabian Peninsula.

Although he insists that all agencies have the opportunity to weigh in on decisions, making differing perspectives available to the Oval Office, Brennan wields enormous power in shaping decisions on “kill” lists and the allocation of armed drones, the war’s signature weapon.

When operations are proposed in Yemen, Somalia or elsewhere, it is Brennan alone who takes the recommendations to Obama for a final sign-off.

As the war against al-Qaeda and related groups moves to new locations and new threats, Brennan and other senior officials describe the playbook as an effort to constrain the deployment of drones by future administrations as much as it provides a framework for their expanded use in what has become the United States’ permanent war.

“This needs to be sustainable,” one senior administration official said, “and we need to think of it in ways that contemplate other people sitting in all the chairs around the table.”

There is widespread agreement that Obama and Brennan, one of the president’s most trusted aides, are like-minded on counterterrorism policy.

“Ever since the first couple of months, I felt there was a real similarity of views that gave me a sense of comfort,” Brennan said. “I don’t think we’ve had a disagreement.”

But the concentration of power in one person, who is unelected and unconfirmed by Congress, does not sit well with critics.

To many in the international legal community and among human rights and civil liberties activists, Brennan runs a policy so secret that it is impossible for outsiders to judge whether it complies with the laws of war or U.S. values — or even determine the total number of people killed.

“Brennan says the administration is committed to ‘greater transparency,’ ” Human Rights Watch said in response to a speech he gave in May about drones. But despite “administration assertions that ‘innocent civilians’ have not been injured or killed, except in the ‘rarest of circumstances,’ there has been no clear accounting of civilian loss or opportunity to meaningfully examine the administration’s assertions.”

Although outsiders have criticized the policy itself, some inside the administration take issue with how Brennan has run it. One former senior counterterrorism official described Brennan as the “single point of failure” in the strategy, saying he controls too much and delegates too little.

A former top Defense Department official sounded a similar note. “He holds his cards incredibly close,” he said. “If I ask for the right one to be seen, he’ll show it to me. But he’s not going to show me everything he’s got in his hand.”

Michael E. Leiter, who headed the National Counterterrorism Center until mid-2011, described Brennan as a forceful leader and “a critical player in getting this president comfortable with the tools of the trade.”

Leiter said that he and Brennan “disagreed not infrequently” on fleeting issues, including interpretations of a piece of intelligence or how to respond to a specific threat. But there was a more significant issue: Leiter said Brennan was less focused on root causes of radicalization, in part because of how Brennan and the White House defined his job.

Leiter was one of the few people who allowed his name to be used among the nearly dozen current and former senior national security officials interviewed for this article. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity under restrictions imposed by the administration or because they were not authorized to discuss certain issues.

For each of Brennan’s critics, there are many associates who use the words “moral compass” to describe his role in the White House. It is Brennan, they say, who questions the justification for each drone attack, who often dials back what he considers excessive zeal by the CIA and the military, and who stands up for diplomatic and economic assistance components in the overall strategy.

Brennan’s bedrock belief in a “just war,” they said, is tempered by his deep knowledge of the Middle East, Islam and the CIA, and the critical thinking forged during a classic Jesuit education.

Some White House aides describe him as a nearly priest-like presence in their midst, with a moral depth leavened by a dry Irish wit.

One CIA colleague, former general counsel John Rizzo, recalled his rectitude surfacing in unexpected ways. Brennan once questioned Rizzo’s use of the “BCC” function in the agency’s e-mail system to send a blind copy of a message to a third party without the primary recipient’s knowledge.

“He wasn’t joking,” Rizzo said. “He regarded that as underhanded.”

Brennan, 57, was born in the gritty New Jersey town of North Bergen, across the Hudson River from Midtown Manhattan. His Irish-immigrant parents, now in their early 90s, were strict and devout Catholics, traits his brother Tom said Brennan embodied from an early age. “It was almost like I had two fathers,” Tom Brennan said.

John Brennan’s formative experiences at Fordham University, where he earned a degree in political science, included a summer in Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, and a junior year at the American University in Cairo, where he studied Arabic and the region that would dominate his intelligence career and greatly influence his White House tenure.

In 1980, soon after receiving a master’s degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin, Brennan answered a CIA recruitment ad in a newspaper. By the middle of the decade, he had spent two years in Saudi Arabia and was among the agency’s leading Middle Eastern analysts.

“He was probably the hardest-working human being I ever encountered,” said a former senior CIA official who worked for Brennan on the Middle East desk. Brennan, he said, was regarded as insightful, even imaginative, but had a seriousness that set him apart.

In 1999, after a second tour in Saudi Arabia as CIA station chief, he returned to headquarters as chief of staff for then-Director George J. Tenet. In 2001, he became deputy executive director, just months before a team of al-Qaeda operatives — most of them from Saudi Arabia — used four hijacked U.S. airliners to kill nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11.

‘I . . . do what I think is right’

Brennan’s belief in his competence and probity has sometimes led to political blind spots. Tenet tapped him in 2003 to build the new CIA-based Terrorist Threat Integration Center to bridge pre-Sept. 11 intelligence gaps. But Brennan was bypassed by the Bush administration a year later for two key jobs — head of the National Counterterrorism Center and deputy to the new director of national intelligence — largely because of his criticism of the Iraq war.

As a private citizen after leaving government, Brennan spoke publicly about counterterrorism controversies of the day. He defended the CIA’s rendition of suspected terrorists as “an absolutely vital tool” but described waterboarding as within “the classic definition of torture.” Brennan also criticized the military as moving too far into traditional intelligence spheres.

His career in government appeared to be over until he was invited in late 2007 to join the nascent presidential campaign of Barack Obama. Although Obama and Brennan did not meet until after the election, their first conversation during the transition revealed profound harmony on issues of intelligence and what the president-elect called the “war against al-Qaeda.”

But when Brennan’s name circulated as Obama’s choice to head the CIA, he again came under political fire — this time from liberals who accused him of complicity in the agency’s use of brutal interrogation measures under Bush. Spooked by the criticism, Obama quickly backtracked and Brennan withdrew.

“It has been immaterial to the critics that I have been a strong opponent of many of the policies of the Bush administration such as preemptive war in Iraq and coercive interrogation tactics, to include waterboarding,” he wrote in an angry withdrawal letter released to the media.

Several former intelligence colleagues said that, although Brennan had criticized the CIA interrogation methods after he left the government, they could not recall him doing so as a senior executive at the agency.

Brennan was given responsibility in the White House for counterterrorism and homeland security, a position that required no Senate confirmation and had no well-defined duties. At the outset, colleagues said they wondered what his job would be.

But to a young administration new to the secret details of national security threats and responsibilities, Brennan was a godsend.

And for the man passed over for other posts, it was vindication. “I’ve been crucified by the left and the right, equally so,” and rejected by the Bush administration “because I was not seen as someone who was a team player,” Brennan said in the interview.

“I’m probably not a team player here, either,” he said of the Obama administration. “I tend to do what I think is right. But I find much more comfort, I guess, in the views and values of this president.”

Brennan and others on the inside found that Obama, hailed as a peacemaker by the left and criticized by the right as a naive pacifist, was willing to move far more aggressively than Bush against perceived extremists.

Yemen is a ‘model’

From the outset, Brennan expressed concern about the spread of al-Qaeda beyond South Asia, particularly to Yemen, according to administration officials involved in the early talks.

U.S. counterterrorism policy had long been concentrated on Pakistan, where the Bush administration had launched sporadic CIA drone attacks against senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. Within two years, Obama had more than tripled the number of strikes in Pakistan, from 36 in 2008 to 122 in 2010, according to the New America Foundation.

Eventually, Obama and Brennan decided the program was getting out of hand. High-value targets were becoming elusive, accusations of civilian deaths were rising, and strikes were increasingly directed toward what the angry Pakistanis called mere “foot soldiers.”

But with Pakistan’s adamant refusal to allow U.S. military operations on its soil, taking what was considered a highly successful program out of CIA hands was viewed as counterproductive and too complicated. Although CIA strikes in other countries and military strikes outside Afghanistan require Obama’s approval, the agency has standing permission to attack targets on an approved list in Pakistan without asking the White House.

Although the administration has “wrestled with” the Pakistan program, it was always considered an initiative of the previous administration, a senior official said. In Yemen, the Obama team began to build its own counterterrorism architecture.

The turning point came on Christmas Day in 2009, when a Nigerian trained by Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist group, penetrated post-Sept. 11 defenses and nearly detonated a bomb aboard a Detroit-bound airliner.

In the wake of the failed attack, Brennan “got more into tactical issues,” said Leiter, the former NCTC head. “He dug into more operational stuff than he had before.”

Brennan made frequent visits to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, its closest neighbor and the dominant regional power. He used his longtime contacts in the region to cement a joint U.S.-Saudi policy that would ultimately — with the help of Yemen’s Arab Spring revolt — bring a more cooperative government to power. He often spoke of the need to address “upstream” problems of poverty and poor governance that led to “downstream” radicalization, and pushed for economic aid to buttress a growing military and intelligence presence.

Yemen quickly became the place where the United States would “get ahead of the curve” on terrorism that had become so difficult to round in Pakistan, one official said. As intelligence and military training programs were expanded, the military attacked AQAP targets in Yemen and neighboring Somalia using both fixed-wing aircraft and drones launched from a base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

Despite Brennan’s professed dismay at the transformation of the CIA into a paramilitary entity with killing authority, the agency was authorized to operate its own armed aircraft out of a new base in the Arabian Peninsula.

Beginning in 2011, discussions on targeting, strikes and intelligence that had been coordinated by a committee set up by Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were gradually drawn into the White House under Brennan, who, according to several accounts, struggled to pare back increasingly expansive target lists in Yemen. At one meeting last year, one senior official said, Obama weighed in to warn that Yemen was not Afghanistan, and that “we are not going to war in Yemen.”

Today, Brennan said, “there are aspects of the Yemen program that I think are a true model of what I think the U.S. counterterrorism community should be doing” as it tracks the spread of al-Qaeda allies across Northern Africa.

As targets move to different locations, and new threats “to U.S. interests and to U.S. persons and property” are identified in Africa and elsewhere, Brennan described a step-by-step program of escalation. “First and foremost, I would want to work through local authorities and see whether or not we can provide them the intelligence, and maybe even give them some enhanced capability, to take action to bring that person to justice,” he said.

For those governments that are “unwilling or unable” to act, he said, “then we have an obligation as a government to protect our people, and if we need then to take action ourselves . . . we look at what those options are as well.”

In late August, Brennan said he saw no need “to go forward with some kind of kinetic action in places like Mali,” where al-Qaeda allies have seized control of a broad swath of territory. Since then, Brennan and other officials have begun to compare the situation in Mali to Somalia, where drone and other air attacks have supplemented a U.S.-backed African military force.

An opaque process

Where Obama and Brennan envision a standardized counterterrorism program bound by domestic and international law, some others see a secretive killing machine of questionable legality and limitless expansion.

Many civil libertarians and human rights experts disdain claims by Brennan and others that the drone program has become increasingly transparent, noting that the administration has yet to provide even minimal details about targeting decisions or to take responsibility for the vast majority of attacks.

“For more than two years, senior officials have been making claims about the program both on the record and off. They’ve claimed that the program is effective, lawful and closely supervised,” Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said last month in appealing repeated court refusals to force the administration to release more information.

Some critics have described it as immoral, rejecting the administration’s claims that few civilians have been among the nearly 3,000 people estimated to have been killed in drone attacks. There is ample evidence in Pakistan that the more than 300 strikes launched under Obama have helped turn the vast majority of the population vehemently against the United States.

None of the United States’ chief allies has publicly supported the targeted killings; many of them privately question the administration’s claim that it comports with international law and worry about the precedent it sets for others who inevitably will acquire the same technology.

To the extent that it aspires to make the program’s standards and processes more visible, the playbook has been a source of friction inside the administration. “Other than the State Department, there are not a lot of advocates for transparency,” one official said. Some officials expressed concern that the playbook has become a “default” option for counterterrorism.

The CIA, which declined to comment for this article, is said to oppose codifying procedures that might lock it into roles it cannot expand or maneuver around in the future. Directors at most national security agencies agree on targeting rules that are already in place, an official close to Brennan said. But “when it’s written down on paper, institutions may look at it in a different way.”

The CIA, which is preparing a proposal to increase its drone fleet, considers Brennan “a rein, a constrainer. He is using his intimate knowledge of intelligence and the process to pick apart their arguments that might be expansionary,” a senior official outside the White House said.

Two administration officials said that CIA drones were responsible for two of the most controversial attacks in Yemen in 2011 — one that killed American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a prominent figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and a second a few days later that killed his 16-year-old son, also an American citizen. One of the officials called the second attack “an outrageous mistake. . . . They were going after the guy sitting next to him.”

Both operations remain secret and unacknowledged, because of what officials said were covert- action rules that tied their hands when it came to providing information.

Some intelligence officials said Brennan has made little substantive effort to shift more responsibility to the military. But Brennan and others described a future in which the CIA is eased out of the clandestine-killing business, and said the process will become more transparent under Defense Department oversight and disclosure rules.

“Deniable missions” are not the military norm, one official said.

Said Brennan: “I think the president always needs the ability to do things under his chief executive powers and authorities, to include covert action.” But, he added, “I think the rule should be that if we’re going to take actions overseas that result in the deaths of people, the United States should take responsibility for that.”

One official said that “for a guy whose reputation is focused on how tough he is on counterterrorism,” Brennan is “more focused than anybody in the government on the legal, ethical and transparency questions associated with all this.” By drawing so much decision-making directly into his own office, said another, he has “forced a much better process at the CIA and the Defense Department.”

Even if Obama is reelected, Brennan may not stay for another term. That means someone else is likely to be interpreting his playbook.

“Do I want this system to last forever?” a senior official said. “No. Do I think it’s the best system for now? Yes.”

“What is scary,” he concluded, “is the apparatus set up without John to run it.”

Greg Miller and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Spending $2 billion for a job that pays a lousy $400,000

Wow they are spending $2 billion to get a job that pays a measly $400,000 a year.

If you ask me it's not about the lousy pay, or for patriotism, but because they can use the job to rob the American people blind.

I'm sure you can say the same thing about the jobs in the US House and Senate. Those guys get paid a measly $174,000, but routinely spend millions to get elected to office.

Again it ain't about the lousy $174,000 a year pay, but because you can use the job to rob the American public blind.


Presidential race most expensive campaign ever

By Jack Gillum Associated Press Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:15 AM

WASHINGTON -- The 2012 presidential campaign was expected Thursday to pass the $2 billion mark in fundraising, according to accounting statements submitted to the government, thanks to an outpouring of cash from both ordinary citizens and the wealthiest Americans hoping to influence the selection of the country’s next leader.

The eye-popping figure puts this election on track to be the costliest in history, fueled by a campaign finance system vastly altered by the proliferation of “super” political committees that are bankrolling a barrage of TV ads in battleground states.

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney had brought in more than $1.5 billion through the end of September, according to previous fundraising reports submitted before the final pre-election accounting statements were due Thursday night.

Obama hadn’t yet disclosed his fundraising for early October, but Romney’s campaign said it raised $111.8 million in the first two weeks. Added to that: more than $230 million in donations involving super PACs since 2011.

The largest of those were two pro-Romney groups. American Crossroads, a Republican-leaning super PAC with ties to former President George W. Bush’s longtime political counselor Karl Rove, reported raising at least $68 million through September.

Restore Our Future, founded by former Romney aides, reported raising $110 million so far. Priorities USA, a pro-Obama group founded by two former aides to the president, reported raising $50 million through last month.

The $2 billion fundraising figure doesn’t include nearly $130 million spent on political ads by non-profit groups that aren’t required to file campaign finance reports or disclose their donors.

Such so-called social welfare organizations are governed by tax laws, not election laws, although they are often affiliated with established super PACs.

No limits

Presidential candidates in 2008 raised more than $1.8 billion in inflation-adjusted figures. This time, new factors have contributed to the sharp escalation in the campaign money chase.

This year marked the first time that both major party candidates opted out from the public financing system established to set limits on how much a presidential candidate can raise and spend.

Both Obama and Romney would have been eligible for about $100 million in taxpayer money to support their campaigns through the general election, but both gambled — correctly — that they could raise and spend far more.

In 2008, Obama became the first presidential contender to refuse all public financing while his Republican rival, Arizona Sen. John McCain, accepted the government funds.

The lopsided result — Obama outspent McCain by more than 2-to-1 in the general election — effectively ended public funding as an option for serious candidates.

With the 2012 election so tight, both Obama and Romney have spent considerable time at high-dollar fundraising events courting wealthy donors.

Both Obama and Romney have raised considerable cash from small donors, too, especially the president. His campaign reported that more than 2 million donors have contributed at least $427 million to his campaign.

Federal election regulators have raised the limit on individual contributions to candidates, which means campaigns can solicit more money from donors than they have in the past. Individual donors can now give a total of $5,000 in the primary and general elections to a candidate, compared to just $2,000 in 2000.

Close race drives donations

But the emergence of super PACs and other outside groups, unleashed partly by the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in 2010, has done more than anything else to reshape the contours of presidential campaign fundraising.

A handful of federal court cases have broadly eased campaign finance regulations, allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited sums. Most of the money has been funneled to super PACs, which can raise and spend money on behalf of candidates as long as they don’t coordinate expenditures or strategy with the campaign.

“The distinctive factor in this election is the outside money being spent and the corrupting money financing it,” said Fred Wertheimer, a longtime campaign finance reform advocate. “It’s a symbol of the disastrous campaign finance system we have and the undue influence relatively few well-financed individuals and interest groups now have over government decisions.”

Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is the top super PAC donor this year. Adelson has contributed more than $40 million to Republican super PACs, including those backing Romney. the IRS in some ways reflects that similar discomfort.”

Obama gets "C" on separation of church and state

Secular Coalition for American selects Gary Johnson as best choice for President

In this questionnaire given to the Presidential candidates about their beliefs on separation of religion and government Libertarian Gary Johnson came out at the top of the list.

In this comparison of Presidential candidates by the Secular Coalition for American, Libertarian Gary Johnson came in first with a B, followed by President Obama who got a C and Romney came in last with an F.

Jill Stein who is the Green Party candidate didn't get a grade because they were not able to identify her position on separation of church and state based on the answers she gave.

It's too bad the NRA and other gun groups don't include the Libertarian candidates in their surveys. Libertarians who believe in the Libertarian Party's NIFF party positions would always beat or tie Democrats and Republicans.

Here is the survey.

Obama gets Latino vote, despite screwing them!!!

It's interesting how people will continue to vote for politicians that screw them.

Obama pretty much broke all of the promises he made to the Latinos when he was elected to his first term.

But that didn't prevent the Latinos he screwed over from voting for Obama a second time.

Obama also screwed over the gays, marijuana users and anti-war folks by not keeping the promises he made to them when he was elected in 2008. I wonder if they also voted for him a second time?


Latino votes key to Obama’s victory

A Latino Decisions/America’s voice poll of 5,600 voters in 11 states, including Arizona, found that 66 percent of Latino voters said they felt like President Barack Obama cared about the Latino community while 74 percent of Latinos thought Republican candidate Mitt Romney didn’t care about the Latino community or considered him hostile to Latinos.

While the poll showed that Latinos overwhelming supported Obama over Romney in Arizona, efforts to dramatically increase the number of Latino voters in Arizona appear to have fallen short.

Before the election, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials projected that 359,000 Latinos would vote in Arizona’s general election, up from 291,000 in 2008.

Early estimates based on exit polls show that about 300,000 Latinos voted in Arizona this year out of a total of about 1.6 million votes cast, said Evan Bacalao, senior director of civic engagement at NALEO.

Petra Falcon, director of Promise Arizona, an organization that worked to increase the number of Latino voters in Arizona, said it is too early to tell how many Latinos voted in Arizona because of the thousands of provisional ballots that haven’t been counted.

Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., won election to the Senate with 17 percent of the Latino vote in Arizona, according to the Latino Decisions/America’s Voice poll. His Democratic opponent, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who is a Latino of Puerto Rican descent, received 83percent of the Latino vote in Arizona. Flake defeated Carmona by less than 5percentage points, according to unofficial results. By Daniel González and Dan Nowicki The Republic | Wed Nov 7, 2012 11:17 PM

Despite failing to deliver immigration reform as promised in his first term and deporting a record number of immigrants, President Barack Obama received 75 percent of the Latino vote in Tuesday’s national election, exceeding the 67 percent he received in 2008.

The support likely played a major role in Obama’s re-election — and, conversely, in Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s defeat, analysts say.

It could also serve as a catalyst to jump-start bipartisan talks on comprehensive immigration reform, which have stalled in Congress for more than a decade, analysts say.

For Obama and Democrats, the push makes sense: Their successes at the ballot box in recent years have been buoyed by Latino voters, and they have campaigned on the promise of immigration reform. For Republicans, many of whom have taken a hard-line anti-immigration stance in recent years that many Hispanic voters perceive to be anti-Latino, a push for reform could be politically advantageous.

“The Republican Party, the new guard, is going to be coming after those Latino voters because they know they need them to win an election,” said Joe Garcia, director of the Latino Center at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy. “I still think this is going to be the decade of the Latino because both parties are going to be courting the Latino vote.”

Statistics show how critical the Latino vote was in Tuesday’s presidential election. For the first time in history, the Latino vote can plausibly be credited with playing the decisive role in a presidential election, said Gary Segura, a political-science professor at Stanford University and a principal at the polling firm Latino Decisions.

If the estimated 11.8 million Latinos who voted nationally on Tuesday had split their votes evenly between the two parties, Obama would not have won, Segura said Wednesday in a computer conference call.

Latinos played a pivotal roll in several battleground states, including Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Ohio, that went for Obama, helping him gain the electoral votes needed to defeat Romney, Segura said.

Garcia said Latinos’ overwhelming support for Obama showed they were willing to “forgive him” for failing to pass immigration reform and for deporting a record number of illegal immigrants. What helped, Garcia said, was Obama’s announcement in June that he would allow young undocumented immigrants to receive work permits and remain in the country temporarily without the fear of deportation under a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“I think they gave him a little bit of a benefit of the doubt and said, ‘OK, we are going to forgive you for not keeping your promise on that first term but fully we expect something happening early in this second term,’ and I think Obama will push for immigration reform in this term,” Garcia said.

A Latino Decisions/America’s Voice poll of 5,600 voters in 11 states, including Arizona, found that Obama’s stance on immigration helped him win support among Latino voters who were turned off by Romney’s stance.

Romney opposed allowing illegal immigrants to gain legal status and opposed the Dream Act, a bill that would allow young undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship by attending college or serving in the military. Romney also supported Arizona’s employer-sanctions law, which requires all employers to use a federal database to check whether new hires are authorized to work in the U.S.

In Arizona, Obama’s support among Latino voters skyrocketed from 56 percent in 2008, when Arizona Sen. John McCain was the Republican nominee, to 79 percent this year, according to the Latino Decisions/America’s Voice poll.

But he still lost Arizona to Romney by 11 percentage points, unofficial results show. That margin could narrow when all 602,000 uncounted provisional and early ballots in the state are tabulated in the coming days.

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant-advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that pushes comprehensive immigration reform, said he believed some Republicans in the Democrat-controlled Senate would likely be willing to work with Obama and Senate Democrats to pass bipartisan immigration reform.

“They know their chances of wining the White House in 2016 will be lower without the support of Latino voters,” Sharry said.

In 2006, McCain helped lead a bipartisan attempt to pass immigration reform, followed by an attempt in 2007 led by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl. Both failed.

Rep. Jeff Flake, a six-term GOP congressman who on Tuesday was elected to replace the retiring Kyl, once was a strong advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. In 2012, he pivoted to a position that would require border-security upgrades to the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.

While he still wants any solution to include enhanced border-security measures, Flake told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday that an effort “to effectively deal with the Dream Act issue” likely could pass easily with strong bipartisan support.

“I remain convinced that as Republicans we’ve got to do more on this issue, not just because it’s good policy, but because it’s obviously necessary politics as well,” he said. “When you look at demographics, we cannot continue as Republicans to alienate such a significant portion of the electorate.”

Kareem Crayton, a political scientist and associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said Democrats and Republicans both have something to gain from revisiting immigration reform.

“If the Democrats intend to extend their level of support from the Latino community, they’re going to have to make good on this,” Crayton said. “They can’t fail at this.”

For their part, Republicans need to come to terms with demographic challenges, he said.

“I thought they would have recognized this four years ago, but ginning up the White vote just won’t do the trick,” Crayton said. “They’re not going to be a successful national party if they are simply going to try to compete between the lines of the Old Confederacy. It’s just not going to work. … The numbers just aren’t there for them, and the largest and fastest-growing population among the non-White groups are Latinos.”


Obama - The Diversion - But don't worry, Mitt Romney is just as guilty of this nonsense

You didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. President Obama telling Bobby and Lucy that the government is responsible for their successful lemonade stand

King George build the road? Obama says that all people that are successful are successful because of the government

A naked President Obama standing in front of a mirror tells us his new and different plan for his 2nd term. Hey, can't you see, it's a different color!!!!

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