February 7th, 2012
By Barry Secrest
Barack Hussein Obama...MMMMM....MMmmm....mmmm!
When you listen carefully to our "Stealth- authoritarian-in-Chief," he never fails to amaze, even while his antics seem to continually evade his cheer-leading troupe in the mainstream media. But when it comes to The Blame Game, the President magnificently ekes out a position that's consistently "lame."
In his most recent interview, Obama, rather than reaching back a diminutive four years, to blame former back-up blame-back, President Bush, this time decided to go back over 200 years and nail the Founding Fathers, themselves.
In what should be the quote of the year, Obama begins laying a flawed foundation of excuses by stating this:
"What's frustrated people, is that I haven't been able to force Congress, to implement every aspect of what I said of 2008"
Oh, really? Well, it would appear that the President's words speak to certain truths that he would rather be left unstated. First of all, the people of the United States have no desire to have their grand potentate "forcing" Congress to do anything. It's always been, at least over these prior two centuries, the President's job to lead Congress, not force them. But force, as far as Obama's domestic policy goes, has always been the alternate of primary choice with regard to the Obama White House.
But then, the second point here would be that the President had two years of a completely at-his-will Congress made up of socially Liberal Democrats. And these Democrats were operative at placing virtually every big-brother, big-government policy known to man into action, at least in the time allotted. Perhaps if Obama had played less golf and gone on less vacations, he could have accomplished every bit of his agenda. But, lo and behold, our Constitutional Republic has an answer for a politician with express carte blanche misused, and that answer, being the remedy of all ills, was for the people to let the President know how they felt about his leadership by voting out of office his unanimous Congress, and we did it, and in spades.
However, Obama narcissistically ignored the People's will, even here. You see, what's frustrated us, the people, is not Obama's inability to pass his entire Saul Alinksy agenda, but rather the struggle to figure out a way to stop him from doing it.
Then, Obama adds the cherry on top by stating this:
"Well, you know, it turns out that...Uh...our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change, that I would like sometimes"
Indeed, they did Mr. Obama, and being a Constitutional expert and Lawyer, you also know the reasons as to the "why" the Founders made it so difficult to arbitrarily change things, even as Chief Executive. We do, indeed, understand your not "liking" being limited in the amount of mass chaos you are capable of producing.
However, the "why," Mr. President, was the Founders exact solution, just in case someone came along, who was exactly like "You."
Neat how it works, huh?
February 6th, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Feb 6 (TheWrap.com) - Clint Eastwood is setting the record straight about his improbably controversial Chrysler ad that aired on Sunday's Super Bowl.
The "Gran Torino" director went on the defensive Monday, dismissing suggestions that the ad is a partisan love letter to President Obama.
Speaking to Ron Mitchell, a producer at Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," Eastwood asserted, "I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message ... just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it."
Eastwood, who served as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, in the 1980s, added that he is "not supporting any politician at this time" but noted that, if Obama or any other politician "want to run with the spirit of that ad, go for it."
In the ad -- dubbed "Halftime in America" -- Eastwood extols the resiliency of the American spirit -- as exemplified by the auto industry's efforts to bounce back from its financial woes.
"This country can't be knocked out with one punch, we get right back up again," Eastwood growls in the ad.
This was somehow interpreted by some -- notably among them, former Bush administration senior adviser Karl Rove -- as a show of support for President Barack Obama and the auto-industry bailout.
Declaring himself "offended" by the ad during a Fox News segment, Rove opined that the ad was "a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics."
"I was, frankly, offended by it," Rove said. "I'm a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising and the best-wishes of the management which is benefited by getting a bunch of our money that they'll never pay back."
Rove also suggested that Chrysler, et al, "feel the need to do something to repay their political patrons."
Eastwood's manager, Leonard Hirshan, was also dismissive of Rove and company's claim, telling New York magazine, "He rewrote it to make it suit his needs ... People have to understand that what he was doing was saying to America, 'Get yourselves together - all of you - and make this a second half.' It's not a political thing."
(Editing By Zorianna Kit)
February 6th, 2012
I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.
What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.
Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.
Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.
My arrival in country in late 2010 marked the start of my fourth combat deployment, and my second in Afghanistan. A Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch, I served in Operation Desert Storm, in Afghanistan in 2005-06 and in Iraq in 2008-09. In the middle of my career, I spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs — among them, legislative correspondent for defense and foreign affairs for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
As a representative for the Rapid Equipping Force, I set out to talk to our troops about their needs and their circumstances. Along the way, I conducted mounted and dismounted combat patrols, spending time with conventional and Special Forces troops. I interviewed or had conversations with more than 250 soldiers in the field, from the lowest-ranking 19-year-old private to division commanders and staff members at every echelon. I spoke at length with Afghan security officials, Afghan civilians and a few village elders.
I saw the incredible difficulties any military force would have to pacify even a single area of any of those provinces; I heard many stories of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.
I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government.
From time to time, I observed Afghan Security forces collude with the insurgency.
From Bad to Abysmal
Much of what I saw during my deployment, let alone read or wrote in official reports, I can’t talk about; the information remains classified. But I can say that such reports — mine and others’ — serve to illuminate the gulf between conditions on the ground and official statements of progress.
And I can relate a few representative experiences, of the kind that I observed all over the country.
In January 2011, I made my first trip into the mountains of Kunar province near the Pakistan border to visit the troops of 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry. On a patrol to the northernmost U.S. position in eastern Afghanistan, we arrived at an Afghan National Police (ANP) station that had reported being attacked by the Taliban 2½ hours earlier.
Through the interpreter, I asked the police captain where the attack had originated, and he pointed to the side of a nearby mountain.
“What are your normal procedures in situations like these?” I asked. “Do you form up a squad and go after them? Do you periodically send out harassing patrols? What do you do?”
As the interpreter conveyed my questions, the captain’s head wheeled around, looking first at the interpreter and turning to me with an incredulous expression. Then he laughed.
“No! We don’t go after them,” he said. “That would be dangerous!”
According to the cavalry troopers, the Afghan policemen rarely leave the cover of the checkpoints. In that part of the province, the Taliban literally run free.
In June, I was in the Zharay district of Kandahar province, returning to a base from a dismounted patrol. Gunshots were audible as the Taliban attacked a U.S. checkpoint about one mile away.
As I entered the unit’s command post, the commander and his staff were watching a live video feed of the battle. Two ANP vehicles were blocking the main road leading to the site of the attack. The fire was coming from behind a haystack. We watched as two Afghan men emerged, mounted a motorcycle and began moving toward the Afghan policemen in their vehicles.
The U.S. commander turned around and told the Afghan radio operator to make sure the policemen halted the men. The radio operator shouted into the radio repeatedly, but got no answer.
On the screen, we watched as the two men slowly motored past the ANP vehicles. The policemen neither got out to stop the two men nor answered the radio — until the motorcycle was out of sight.
To a man, the U.S. officers in that unit told me they had nothing but contempt for the Afghan troops in their area — and that was before the above incident occurred.
In August, I went on a dismounted patrol with troops in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. Several troops from the unit had recently been killed in action, one of whom was a very popular and experienced soldier. One of the unit’s senior officers rhetorically asked me, “How do I look these men in the eye and ask them to go out day after day on these missions? What’s harder: How do I look [my soldier’s] wife in the eye when I get back and tell her that her husband died for something meaningful? How do I do that?”
One of the senior enlisted leaders added, “Guys are saying, ‘I hope I live so I can at least get home to R&R leave before I get it,’ or ‘I hope I only lose a foot.’ Sometimes they even say which limb it might be: ‘Maybe it’ll only be my left foot.’ They don’t have a lot of confidence that the leadership two levels up really understands what they’re living here, what the situation really is.”
On Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the infamous attack on the U.S., I visited another unit in Kunar province, this one near the town of Asmar. I talked with the local official who served as the cultural adviser to the U.S. commander. Here’s how the conversation went:
Davis: “Here you have many units of the Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF]. Will they be able to hold out against the Taliban when U.S. troops leave this area?”
Adviser: “No. They are definitely not capable. Already all across this region [many elements of] the security forces have made deals with the Taliban. [The ANSF] won’t shoot at the Taliban, and the Taliban won’t shoot them.
“Also, when a Taliban member is arrested, he is soon released with no action taken against him. So when the Taliban returns [when the Americans leave after 2014], so too go the jobs, especially for everyone like me who has worked with the coalition.
“Recently, I got a cellphone call from a Talib who had captured a friend of mine. While I could hear, he began to beat him, telling me I’d better quit working for the Americans. I could hear my friend crying out in pain. [The Talib] said the next time they would kidnap my sons and do the same to them. Because of the direct threats, I’ve had to take my children out of school just to keep them safe.
“And last night, right on that mountain there [he pointed to a ridge overlooking the U.S. base, about 700 meters distant], a member of the ANP was murdered. The Taliban came and called him out, kidnapped him in front of his parents, and took him away and murdered him. He was a member of the ANP from another province and had come back to visit his parents. He was only 27 years old. The people are not safe anywhere.”
That murder took place within view of the U.S. base, a post nominally responsible for the security of an area of hundreds of square kilometers. Imagine how insecure the population is beyond visual range. And yet that conversation was representative of what I saw in many regions of Afghanistan.
In all of the places I visited, the tactical situation was bad to abysmal. If the events I have described — and many, many more I could mention — had been in the first year of war, or even the third or fourth, one might be willing to believe that Afghanistan was just a hard fight, and we should stick it out. Yet these incidents all happened in the 10th year of war.
As the numbers depicting casualties and enemy violence indicate the absence of progress, so too did my observations of the tactical situation all over Afghanistan.
I’m hardly the only one who has noted the discrepancy between official statements and the truth on the ground.
A January 2011 report by the Afghan NGO Security Office noted that public statements made by U.S. and ISAF leaders at the end of 2010 were “sharply divergent from IMF, [international military forces, NGO-speak for ISAF] ‘strategic communication’ messages suggesting improvements. We encourage [nongovernment organization personnel] to recognize that no matter how authoritative the source of any such claim, messages of the nature are solely intended to influence American and European public opinion ahead of the withdrawal, and are not intended to offer an accurate portrayal of the situation for those who live and work here.”
The following month, Anthony Cordesman, on behalf of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that ISAF and the U.S. leadership failed to report accurately on the reality of the situation in Afghanistan.
“Since June 2010, the unclassified reporting the U.S. does provide has steadily shrunk in content, effectively ‘spinning’ the road to victory by eliminating content that illustrates the full scale of the challenges ahead,” Cordesman wrote. “They also, however, were driven by political decisions to ignore or understate Taliban and insurgent gains from 2002 to 2009, to ignore the problems caused by weak and corrupt Afghan governance, to understate the risks posed by sanctuaries in Pakistan, and to ‘spin’ the value of tactical ISAF victories while ignoring the steady growth of Taliban influence and control.”
How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding and behind an array of more than seven years of optimistic statements by U.S. senior leaders in Afghanistan? No one expects our leaders to always have a successful plan. But we do expect — and the men who do the living, fighting and dying deserve — to have our leaders tell us the truth about what’s going on.
I first encountered senior-level equivocation during a 1997 division-level “experiment” that turned out to be far more setpiece than experiment. Over dinner at Fort Hood, Texas, Training and Doctrine Command leaders told me that the Advanced Warfighter Experiment (AWE) had shown that a “digital division” with fewer troops and more gear could be far more effective than current divisions. The next day, our congressional staff delegation observed the demonstration firsthand, and it didn’t take long to realize there was little substance to the claims. Virtually no legitimate experimentation was actually conducted. All parameters were carefully scripted. All events had a preordained sequence and outcome. The AWE was simply an expensive show, couched in the language of scientific experimentation and presented in glowing press releases and public statements, intended to persuade Congress to fund the Army’s preference. Citing the AWE’s “results,” Army leaders proceeded to eliminate one maneuver company per combat battalion. But the loss of fighting systems was never offset by a commensurate rise in killing capability.
A decade later, in the summer of 2007, I was assigned to the Future Combat Systems (FCS) organization at Fort Bliss, Texas. It didn’t take long to discover that the same thing the Army had done with a single division at Fort Hood in 1997 was now being done on a significantly larger scale with FCS. Year after year, the congressionally mandated reports from the Government Accountability Office revealed significant problems and warned that the system was in danger of failing. Each year, the Army’s senior leaders told members of Congress at hearings that GAO didn’t really understand the full picture and that to the contrary, the program was on schedule, on budget, and headed for success. Ultimately, of course, the program was canceled, with little but spinoffs to show for $18 billion spent.
If Americans were able to compare the public statements many of our leaders have made with classified data, this credibility gulf would be immediately observable. Naturally, I am not authorized to divulge classified material to the public. But I am legally able to share it with members of Congress. I have accordingly provided a much fuller accounting in a classified report to several members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, senators and House members.
A nonclassified version is available at www.afghanreport.com. [Editor’s note: At press time, Army public affairs had not yet ruled on whether Davis could post this longer version.]
Tell The Truth
When it comes to deciding what matters are worth plunging our nation into war and which are not, our senior leaders owe it to the nation and to the uniformed members to be candid — graphically, if necessary — in telling them what’s at stake and how expensive potential success is likely to be. U.S. citizens and their elected representatives can decide if the risk to blood and treasure is worth it.
Likewise when having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose. That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they’ve gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start. AFJ
Latest from the AFJ
February 6th, 2012
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution / By KRISTEN WYATT
DENVER — Long skeptical of Mitt Romney, tea party activists are either warming up to the GOP presidential front-runner or reluctantly backing him after abandoning hope of finding a nominee they like better.
Whatever the reason, the former Massachusetts governor who is coming off of back-to-back victories in Florida and Nevada now is picking up larger shares of the tea party vote than he did when the Republican nomination fight began. And that fact alone illuminates the struggles of the nearly three-year-old movement to greatly influence its first presidential race.
"We haven't gone away," insisted Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the national Tea Party Express. But, in the same breath, she acknowledged lower expectations and a shift in focus to Senate races over the White House campaign. She also pleaded for patience, saying: "Anybody that thinks we are going to change things in one cycle or two cycles is fooling themselves."
Tea party activists across the country entered their first presidential contest this year expecting to hold major sway over the Republican race following a 2010 congressional election year in which their favored candidates successfully knocked off a string of insiders in GOP primaries in Colorado and elsewhere.
The movement influenced the presidential race early on, with candidates from Romney on down parroting the movement's language and promoting its agenda of restrained spending to curry favor with its adherents.
But the coalition was greatly fractured and plagued by infighting. It also watched as one favored candidate after another lost standing or quit the race, among them Georgia businessman Herman Cain and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. The remaining candidates — Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul — have attributes that tea party backers like but they face huge hurdles in knocking Romney off his stride.
That's left many in the tea party shifting focus to Romney, a candidate viewed by many as most likely to unseat President Barack Obama, even if he doesn't vociferously bang the drum of their top issues.
"We're warming up to Romney," said Brian Walker, a tea party member and 62-year-old sheet metal contractor in the Colorado mountain town of Florissant. He raves about Santorum but said he's leaning toward Romney because he wants to support the candidate he views as the likely nominee.
Such perceptions may be one of the reasons Romney has seen a bump in support among tea party followers even though the movement has long been irked by Romney's tentative embrace of it and evolution on several issues it holds dear.
In South Carolina last month, exit polls showed that only about 1 in 4 self-described tea party supporters backed Romney in the primary, which Gingrich ended up winning. But 10 days later, 41 percent of tea partyers in Florida's primary chose Romney as he cruised to victory there. And in Nevada, entrance polls showed that Romney won 47 percent of the tea party vote on Saturday, crushing his rivals in the state.
Romney could perform just as well in Colorado and Minnesota caucuses on Tuesday. He won both four years ago. Since then, both states have been heavily influenced by the tea party.
In 2010, tea party supporters in both states claimed credit for usurping well-funded GOP insiders and producing conservative gubernatorial nominees, Dan Maes in Colorado and Tom Emmer in Minnesota. Both lost the general election, despite big Republican successes elsewhere.
Colorado Republicans also nominated a conservative tea party favorite, Ken Buck, over a better-funded candidate, former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton. But Buck also lost the general election to the appointed Democratic senator, Michael Bennet, who had never before run for political office.
Mindful of the tea party strains in both states, Romney's rivals are playing to the movement in hopes of engineering comebacks.
"I ask you to reset this race. Create an opportunity for someone who can speak to Americans about what America is all about," Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, said Saturday in northern Colorado.
Some tea party activists argue that the GOP puts itself at risk if it ignores conservative critics of Romney, even if tea party influence appears diminished.
"I do not believe in this idea that you vote for the lesser of two evils. The lesser of two evils is still evil," said Erika Vadnas, 48, an engineer from Colorado Springs who attended a Paul rally last week.
Kremer, the Tea Party Express chairwoman, disagreed and predicted that tea party conservatives will recover from divisions between now and November.
"At the end of the day, the movement will come together to defeat Barack Obama," Kremer said.
Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow Kristen Wyatt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt
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February 6th, 2012
The Guardian / Chris McGreal in Washington
Barack Obama has ordered the freezing of Iranian government assets in the US, including transactions by the Iranian Central Bank, in tightened sanctions over Tehran's nuclear programme.
The White House said the executive order by the president "re-emphasises this administration's message to the government of Iran – it will face ever-increasing economic and diplomatic pressure until it addresses the international community's well-founded and well-documented concerns regarding the nature of its nuclear programme".
The new sanctions, which also include the threat of prosecution for foreign financial institutions if they do certain kinds of business directly with Iran, also appeared timed to fit in with measures introduced in other countries, including Britain which has already moved against Iran's banking system by cutting it off from London's financial sector.
The administration had previously shied away from direct action against the central bank fearing that if Tehran is unable to carry through financial transactions necessary to sell its oil, that could force the cost of petroleum up and hit the US economy.
But Congress pushed sanctions against the bank through in legislation attached to the US's annual defence spending bill. The president had the power to stall them but that was politically sensitive with a growing chorus of Republicans and some Democrats demanding stronger measures against Tehran.
Obama said in a statement to Congress that the new sanctions are required in part because the central bank is using "deceptive practices" to get around earlier measures.
"I have determined that additional sanctions are warranted, particularly in light of the deceptive practices of the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian banks to conceal transactions of sanctioned parties, the deficiencies in Iran's anti-money laundering regime and the weaknesses in its implementation, and the continuing and unacceptable risk posed to the international financial system by Iran's activities," he said.
The scale of Iranian official assets in the US is unclear given more than three decades of sanctions since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
In November, the US announced measures intended to limit Tehran's ability to refine its own fuel as well as targeting Iran's Revolutionary Guards' financial interests.
The US and European Union have also imposed additional sanctions on Iran's oil industry in recent weeks.
The new sanctions also come as Obama tries to dissuade Israel from a unilateral strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Last week, US defence secretary Leon Panetta said he believes Israel may launch an attack before June.
On Sunday, Obama said he does not believe Israel has yet made the decision whether or not to attack. But he told NBC that all options remain on the table for US action if Iran presses ahead with developing a nuclear weapon.
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