theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year to All!


Thank You All For Your Readership! Keep Up the Good Fight...

theodore miraldi

Grandpa beaten by 2 thugs

GRANDPA PUSHING WIFE IN WHEELCHAIR HAS RUN-IN WITH TWO OF THE ‘SCUMMIEST THINGS’ HE’S EVER SEEN AFTER TRYING TO PROTECT THE NEIGHBOR KIDS



A 70-year-old Florida man trying to protect neighborhood kids from cars he felt were driving too fast ended up in the hospital after two of the “scummiest things I’ve ever seen” disagreed with his tactics.
James Gorman from Bradenton, Fla., stepped toward a car from the sidewalk where he was pushing his wheelchair-bound wife. His granddaughter was also walking nearby, Friday evening, according to WTSP-TV.
Instead of slowing down, heeding Gorman’s gestured advice, the car came to a full stop and two men stepped out. A third man was described as an occupant of the car as well.
“He grabbed my hands and proceeded to beat the daylight of out me. He knocked me out,” Gorman told WTSP. He did apparently get a punch in of his own, but it wasn’t enough to stop the onslaught.
james gorman
James Gorman, 70, suffered more than black eye after he stepped out from the sidewalk, trying to get a speeding car to slow down. The occupants of the car stopped and beat him instead. (Image source: WTSP-TV)
“They are about the scummiest things I’ve ever seen,” Gorman continued. “It takes two young men to beat up a 70-year-old man.”
Gorman told the Bradenton Herald that he regained consciousness when the men were pulling awayand saw his wife fallen out of her wheelchair trying to help him. Neighborhood children who witnessed the beating were crying.
Gorman suffered a black eye, torn rotator cuff muscle and broken glasses in the attack. Since the incident, he told the news station he has had headaches.
But it could have been even worse. Gorman’s daughter, who witnessed the beating as it occurred a few houses down, said the young men tried to pull the 70-year-old into their car, according to the Herald.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. The attackers are described as two black males in their 20s.
But Gorman, a resident of the neighborhood for 27 years, is more worried about what the children had to witness.
“I am more worried about my grandbaby, she is still pretty shook up,” Gorman told the Herald. “That bothers me more than anything, that kids had to witness that. That wasn’t necessary.”

Obama: The Law Giver



by J. D. Longstreet

All this time I have been laboring under the false impression that the Congress was constitutionally assigned the duty of making and changing (amending) law(s) for the country.

Silly me!  I am SO embarrassed!  Just shows how dumb a poor ole swamp rat like yours truly can actually be, I suppose.

Anyway, Mr. Obama has set me straight on that.  He has shown me that HE has the power to make law, and change law, and enforce law or -- choose NOT to enforce law -- as HE chooses.

Why, Mr. Obama has changed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) some 19 or 20 times now (For more on Obama's changes to Obamacare visit politifact.com  ) all without any aid from the national legislature -- the Congress.  
All things considered, one must ask WHY we even have a Congress?  Couldn't we save major bucks by just dissolving the Congress and have done with it?   I mean, heck, we've got Obama -- The Law Giver as our President!  What need have we of a Congress?
With Obama it is all give and take.  He gives -- AND -- he takes.  The man refuses to acknowledge his limitations under the constitution. He just ignores it in part or in whole -- as the notion strikes him.
This is not just wrong, gentle reader, this is ILLEGAL.
Playing fast and loose with the US Constitution, under normal circumstances, would get one placed UNDER the jailhouse!  No longer.
But these are not normal times.  We live now in a "post constitution era" in America. We find ourselves in the short-lived period between freedom and slavery.  Once a nation begins a slide into slavery the pace quickens and doesn't take very long to find an entire people clasped in the bonds of involuntary servitude.
I find it ironic that Obama, a black man,  is so intent on leading his people, white and black, into tyranny induced slavery in America. There's something just plain vulgar about that.
The Obama administration is proving to be more corrupt that the Grant, the Harding, or the Nixon administrations.  I was not around for the first two, but I lived every minute of the Nixon administration  and I can tell you the American people never sensed a threat to their freedom from Nixon as they do from Obama.
When Nixon's party, the Republican Party,  realized the enormity of his misdeeds, they quickly formed a committee and paid Nixon a visit and read him the riot act.  They told him, flat out, that he was going to be impeached and the Congress WOULD find him guilty and he WOULD be removed from office in disgrace, unless, he resigned -- and resigned immediately.  Nixon resigned and managed by doing so to save SOME face and enough dignity to gracefully exit the White House while staff and a few members of his administration stood clustered near the helicopter LZ looking on in tears.
It was a trying time for the republic, but we survived and the constitution proved, once again, its value and worth as a foundation document and the protector of freedom.
On December 31st, 2012, the non-partisan Judicial Watch released its annual "Most Corrupt Politicians in Washington List." On that list were:  President Obama and key members of his Democrat cabinet like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and UN Ambassador Susan Rice.  They were among the top ten names on the list.  That was last year.  We can hardly wait for this years list to be released.  Judicial Watch is a public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption.  See the entire list. 
Let's see.  Right now, Americans are attempting to deal with a host of Obama administration scandals:  The NSA scandal, the IRS Scandal, the Navy Seal scandal, the Benghazi scandal,  and the Fast and Furious Scandal. 
Then there is Obamacare. 
Obama and his minions have trashed the constitution.  Mr. Obama claims to be a constitutional scholar, indeed, taught constitutional law in college.  Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years!  Seems to me that with that sort of background he should know better!
In an article at Front Page Magazine, Arnold Ahlert says the following:  "Perhaps the most contemptible effort in that regard is President Obama’s transparently unconstitutional effort to suspend various parts of the Affordable Healthcare Act. How Americans feel about that piece of legislation is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that Congress passed the law, including the part that calls for its implementation beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, and the president signed it. There is no Constitutional way the president can simply choose to ignore sections of a law he doesn’t like, or go around Congress completely when they won’t kowtow to his agenda.

Yet that’s precisely what Obama and other administration officials have done. In 2012, the president unilaterally decreed that the same DREAM Act rejected by Congress 18 months earlier would be implemented for the children of illegal aliens. He also gutted part of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, in clear violation of the statute. Obama is still ignoring a ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and federal appeals courts in D.C. and Philadelphia, all of whom ruled his “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were unconstitutional.
" --  SOURCE:  Front Page Magazine   (We strongly recommend you read this article in its entirety.)
Let's cut to the chase. There is a serious shortage of intestinal fortitude in Congress today.  There is a palpable lack of guts within the ranks of the GOP in the House of Representatives.  A Bill of Impeachment ought to be introduced, voted on, and passed in the House ASAP. 
Having said that, please understand that I am not so foolish as to believe that the US Senate, controlled by the President's own party The Democratic Party) , therefore by Obama, himself, will find him guilty.  But this administration's corruption needs to be documented, publicly, and made a part of the historical record of the country for future generations.  With the phalanx of protection the Mainstream Media has thrown up around their president, the ONLY way that will happen is -- through impeachment.
In the meantime, things in America are only going to get worse.
Every time Obama gets away with a violation of the constitution, it emboldens him, it becomes easier for him to so it again and again.  I am concerned Congress has already waited too long. I suspect many in Congress fear an uprising of civil unrest (riots) among the black population of the country should they impeach Obama.  Then so be it.  NOTHING should get in the way of doing the RIGHT thing. 
Impeaching Obama IS the right thing to do. The rape of the constitution must be ended.

France: Looming Battle over Muslim Integration



by Soeren Kern

Among the long list of recommendations...the panel says that public schools in France should be taught in Arabic and African languages rather than in French.
"It would no longer be up to French immigrants to adopt French culture, but for France to abandon its own culture, language, history and identity to adapt to other people's cultures." — Jean-François Copé, UMP Party.
Instead of integration, "parallel societies are forming that continuously distance themselves from each other." — Alain Finkielkraut, author of L'identité malheureuse.
A panel appointed by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to review France's integration policies has urged the government to implement a "new form of secularism" that would raise the profile of Islam in public life—in order to improve the integration of Muslim immigrants.
Among a long list of recommendations aimed at "recognizing the richness of multiple identities," the panel says that public schools in France should begin allowing Muslim pupils to wear headscarves in class (clothing that has been outlawed since 2004), and that courses should be taught in Arabic and African languages rather than in French.
The panel also recommends a number of other multicultural changes that would provide greater recognition to the "Arab-oriental dimension" of France's national identity. These include changing street and place names, overhauling the history curriculum taught in schools and creating a special day to honor the contribution of immigrant cultures.
More notably, the panel says that authorities and the media should be prohibited from referring to people's nationality, religion or ethnicity in public, and that the government should create a new law that would make "racial harassment" a punishable offense.
The controversial recommendations are contained in a series of five documents that were discretely posted on the prime minister's official website in November, but only came to public attention on December 12, after an exposé by the French daily newspaper, Le Figaro.
Not surprisingly, the proposals to develop an "inclusive secularism" in France have sparked a firestorm of criticism.
Jean-François Copé, the leader of France's main opposition party, the conservative UMP, said in a statement that the proposals are "explosive and irresponsible" because they replace "the one and indivisible French Republic with a motley assembly of communities, ethnicities and groups of all kinds." According to Copé:
This report is an attempt to make multiculturalism the new model for France. It would no longer be up to immigrants to adopt French culture, but for France to abandon its own culture, language, history and identity to adapt to other people's cultures...I cannot accept that we build a society where 'responsibilities' are completely replaced by 'rights.' French voters should know that in this report the word 'responsibility' appears only 13 times, while the word 'right' is repeated 440 times.
Copé also accused the government of using the report to deliberately drive voters towards the anti-immigration National Front (FN) party in order to weaken the UMP.
The leader of the FN, Marine Le Pen—who has attained record-breaking popularity due to her criticism of runaway immigration—said the report's recommendations are "a very grave provocation" and implementing them would be tantamount to "a declaration of war on the French people."
The negative reaction to the report has put the ruling Socialists on the defensive.
French President François Hollande—the most unpopular French president on record, with approval ratings well below 30%—has distanced himself from some of the more explosive recommendations contained in the report, which he says do "not at all represent the government's position." Hollande also denies that the ban on Islamic veils in schools will be reversed.
Ayrault, who originally commissioned the report in July 2013 to recommend ways to "get the republican model of integration working again because it has broken down," said there are no plans to drop the headscarf ban. "Just because I receive a report does not make it government policy," he said.
Nevertheless, the report's recommendations are supposed to form the basis of future reforms ostensibly aimed at better integrating Muslim immigrants. These reforms will eventually be put to a vote in the French Parliament sometime during 2014.
In the face of public outcry, however, Ayrault cancelled a public seminar that had been planned to discuss the report's recommendations, which will now be debated in a closed-door meeting tentatively set for January 9, 2014.
Other key Socialists have also distanced themselves from the recommendations, including Thierry Mandon, the spokesman for the Socialist group in the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament.
"I do not envision that we will return to the law on the veil," said Mandon, who compared Hollande and Ayrault to over-eager students who go too far and end up with "extremist" formulas that will lead to the "de-Republicanization" of France.
In any event, the report has opened yet another chapter in the long-running debate over multiculturalism in France, which has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe.
The debate pits the Socialist supporters of multiculturalism in France against the Conservative republican camp, which is concerned about the steady disintegration of French society due to mass immigration, and which is calling for the return to the traditional values ​​of the French Republic.
Opinion polls show that a majority of people in France believe that multiculturalism has gone too far.
According to a poll published by Le Figaro in October 2012, 60% of French people believe that Islam has become "too visible and influential" in France and 43% consider the presence of Muslim immigrants to be a threat to French national identity, compared to just 17% who say it enriches society.
In addition, 68% of people in France blame the problems associated with Muslim integration on immigrants who refuse to integrate, and 52% blame it on cultural differences. The poll also shows a growing resistance to the symbols of Islam. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of French people say they are opposed to Muslim women wearing the veil or Islamic headscarves in public, and only 18% say they support the building of new mosques in France.
France has a long tradition of secularism in public institutions, especially in public schools where the absence of religion has long been considered essential to the country's ideals of equality and freedom of conscience.
In September 2013, the government introduced a "secularism charter" for schools. The document—which is to appear in a prominent location in all of the 55,000 public schools in France—would serve to remind students and teachers of a list of secular principles underpinning the separation of mosque and state.
Although the initiative has enjoyed a generally positive reception, many observers say they doubt Hollande has the political will actually to enforce secular principles in French schools, with or without a charter.
This skepticism stems from the circumstance that Muslim children constitute an increasingly large proportion of the 10 million students in the French public school system—and because Muslim parents make up an increasingly important voting bloc in French politics. Muslims, in fact, cast thedeciding vote that thrust Hollande into the Elysée Palace in May 2012.
With major municipal elections in France coming up in March 2014 and European parliamentary ballots in May, speculation is rife that the flailing Hollande is seeking to leverage the debate over multiculturalism to further endear himself to Muslim voters.
But the French philosopher and essayist Alain Finkielkraut says multiculturalism and runway Muslim immigration are responsible for the destruction of French national identity.
In a politically incorrect interview with the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel on December 6 to discuss his latest book, "L'identité malheureuse" [The Unhappy Identity], Finkielkraut says European elites have consistently misrepresented multiculturalism as the model for the future. Instead, he says, "mistrust prevails, communitarianism is rampant—parallel societies are forming that continuously distance themselves from each other."
According to Finkielkraut:
Immigration used to go hand-in-hand with integration into French culture. That was the rule of the game. Many of the new arrivals no longer want to play by that rule. If the immigrants are in the majority in their neighborhoods, how can we integrate them? … Many Muslims in Europe are re-Islamizing themselves. … The left does not want to accept that there is a clash of civilizations.
Finkielkraut sums it up: "I am of the opinion that our generation's task is not to recreate the world, but to prevent its decline. … I become sad and feel a growing sense of anxiety. Optimism would seem a bit ridiculous these days. I wish the politicians were able to speak the truth and look reality in the face. Then, I believe, France would be capable of a true awakening—of contemplating a policy of civilization."

Inequality -- Crisis or Scam



Pat Buchanan

When President Richard Nixon arrived in Beijing in 1972, Chairman Mao Zedong -- with his Marxist revolution, Great Leap Forward and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution -- had achieved an equality unrivaled anywhere.
That is, until Pol Pot came along.
There seemed to be no private cars on Beijing's streets. In the stores, there was next to nothing on the shelves. The Chinese all seemed dressed in the same blue Mao jackets.
Today there are billionaires and millionaires in China, booming cities, a huge growing middle class and, yes, hundreds of millions of peasants still living on a few dollars a day.
Hence, there is far greater inequality in China today than in 1972.
Yet, is not the unequal China of today a far better place for the Chinese people than the Communist ant colony of Mao?
Lest we forget, it is freedom that produces inequality.
Even a partly free nation unleashes the natural and acquired abilities of peoples, and the more industrious and talented inevitably excel and rise and reap the greater rewards. "Inequality ... is rooted in the biological nature of man," said James Fenimore Cooper.
Yet for many people, from New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to President Barack Obama to Pope Francis, income inequality is a curse in need of a cure, as there is today said to be an intolerable measure of such inequality.
But let us first inspect the measuring rod.
Though a family of four with $23,550 in cash income in 2013 qualified as living in poverty, this hardly tells the whole story.
Consider the leveling effect of the graduated income tax, about which Karl Marx wrote glowingly in his "Communist Manifesto."
The top 1 percent of U.S. earners pay nearly 40 percent of U.S. income taxes. The top 10 percent pay 70 percent. The top 50 percent pay more than 97 percent of income taxes. The poor pay nothing.
Surely, trillions of dollars siphoned annually off the incomes of the most productive Americans -- in federal, state and local income and payroll taxes -- closes the gap somewhat.
Secondly, though 15 percent of U.S. families qualify as poor, measured by cash income, this does not take into account the vast assortment of benefits they receive.
The poor have their children educated free in public schools, from Head Start to K-12 and then on to college with Pell Grants. Their medical needs are taken care of through Medicaid. They receive food stamps to feed the family. The kids can get two or three free meals a day at school.
Housing, too, is paid for or subsidized. The poor also receive welfare checks and Earned Income Tax Credits for added cash.
In the late 1940s, our family had no freezer, no dishwasher, no clothes washer or dryer, no microwave, no air conditioning. We watched the Notre Dame-Army game on a black-and-white 8-inch DuMont.
Among American families in poverty today, 1 in 4 have a freezer. Nearly half have automatic dishwashers. Almost 60 percent have a home computer. About 2 in 3 poor families have a clothes washer and dryer. Eighty percent have cellphones.
Ninety-three percent of the poor have a microwave; 96 percent a color TV, and 97 percent a gas or electric stove. Not exactly les miserables.
Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation added up the cost in 2012 of the means-tested federal and state programs for America's poor and low-income families. Price tag: $927 billion.
There are 79 federal programs, writes Rector, that provide cash, food, housing, medical care, social services, training and targeted education to poor and low-income Americans.
"If converted to cash, means-tested welfare spending is more than sufficient to bring the income of every lower-income American to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, roughly $44,000 per year for a family of four."
Then there are the contributions of churches, charities and foundations.
Where in history have the poor been treated better?
Certainly not in the USA in the 1950s or during the Depression. Why, then, all this sudden talk about reducing the gap between rich and poor?
A good society will take care of its poor. But envy that others have more, and coveting the goods of the more successful, used to constitute two of the seven capital sins in the Baltimore Catechism.
At Howard University in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson declared, "We seek not just ... equality as a right ... but equality as a fact and equality as a result."
Yet the only way to make people who are unequal in talents equal in rewards is to use governmental power to dispossess some and favor others.
Alexis de Tocqueville saw it coming:
"The sole condition which is required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community, is to love equality or to get men to believe you love it. Thus, the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced ... to a single principle."
Get people to believe you are seeking the utopian goal of equality of all and there is no limit to the power you can amass.

Rangel: Tea Party “Cult” Suffering from an “Illness”



Michael Schaus

Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY) recently expressed his puzzlement over the conservative wing of the Republican Party. In between incoherent ramblings and fragmented sentences, the congressman explained that the tea party is a “cult” group that suffers from an apparent “illness”.
“Politics is (sic) changing for me at this late age, to have to deal with a cult-type of group of people,” said the man who recently allocated millions of taxpayer dollars to a New York library named in his honor. (Maybe he’s speaking out of jealousy?)
“When a handful of people [I assume he is referring to the tea party coalition in the House of Representatives] can control a larger number of people, to repeal a law that has been passed by the House, the Senate, and declared constitutional by the courts - and they campaign on the issue that it should be repealed- this is past Civics 101. This is illness,” said the Congressman who has inexplicably remained in office since 1971. (Whoa…Talk about mental illness!)
Watch the video of the congressman taking a stab at coherent political dialogue:
Well, Mr. Rangel, since you brought it up, maybe we should discuss a little about Civics 101: Obamacare’s individual mandate, judged by the Supreme Court to be amassive tax increase rather than a mandate for commercial engagement, was ruled Constitutional (hat tip to John Roberts)… But there are many other legal challenges pending against the 2,700 page bill and the tens of thousands of regulations that have yet to be fully implemented. Oh… And “Constitutional” does not mean “good” or “well-advised”. Regardless of a few Supreme Court rulings, Obamacare remains a burden on economic vitality and individual liberty.
Of course Rangel’s a congressman… So we clearly can’t expect him to grasp American politics with any degree of adequacy. In addition to stumbling over a butchered sense of civics and constitutional law, the honorary* congressman (*I’m assuming no-one votes for this guy on purpose) took a couple of shots at the tea party.
Apparently the tea party is a “cult”… I always thought of it more as a collection of like-minded individuals who have banded together (almost like a “party” of some sort) for political clout… Ya know, like the Democrat party, the progressive movement, the Republican Party, the Communist Party, the Libertarian Party, the conservative movement, the constitutional movement, or for that matter any other faction of American political ideology in the last 200 years. I mean, heck, it’s not as if the tea party has routinely re-elected a man who used taxpayer funds to build a conference center, public service center or library in his own honor(Ahem*Rangel*ahem). Now that would be cult-like.
Then there’s Rangel’s laughable assertion that repealing laws is an illness; a statement that deserves a prominent spot on the liberal-lunacy highlight reel of 2013. I’m willing to bet there were plenty of Jim Crow era laws that deserved repeal. And I find it hard to believe that most of America was mentally ill when it decided to repeal the 18th Amendment, thus ending prohibition.
In fact, if mental illness is to be judged by traditional metrics, the case could be made that supporters of Obamacare are the ones suffering in today’s political climate. How else can it be explained that they think handing healthcare over to the same folks who run the DMV, the IRS, and the Social Security Administration will somehow improve things for average citizens? I mean, it’s not as if the government has excelled at everything else it attempts to regulate into perfection. (Education, finance, mortgages, student loans, retirement assistance, etc… Do we need to continue with this list?)
While the most recent utterances from one of America’s career-congressman are relatively inconsequential (much like his censure for ethics violations), they illustrate a growing trend in American politics: The belief that small government advocates are radical, dangerous, and mutinous to government action.
Well, the same thing was said about small-government advocates in the 18thcentury… So, I guess Rangel is putting the tea party in good company. The self-obsessed (and ethically challenged) New York Democrat might have just given the tea party quite the compliment. After all, if he is the poster-child for “sanity” in DC, I guess I’d like a few more crazies to get elected in 2014.

Egypt arrests 4 Al Jazeera journalists for Brotherhood ties

Egypt’s government has detained four journalists working for the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera English news channel, arresting them during raids on a five-star hotel and at least one private residence Sunday night.
The journalists, including an Australian national, are accused of “harming national security” through links to the recently banned Muslim Brotherhood organization, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The arrests are the latest development in a rapidly escalating crackdown on the Brotherhood, an Islamist group that the government last week declared a “terrorist organization.”
Egyptian police said the Al-Jazeera English bureau — which had been broadcasting from a suite at the Marriott hotel following the closure of its Arabic-language sister channel during a military coup in July — was being used as a meeting point and media center for members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s military-backed government has long accused Al-Jazeera, whose Qatari patrons are allies of the Brotherhood, of being a mouthpiece for the organization.
The hotel occupants were “broadcasting news that threatens internal security and spreading false news,” the Interior Ministry said. Police said they also found literature that implicates the journalists in the organization of recent protests that were illegal under a new law that sharply restricts public demonstrations.
Al-Jazeera English identified the journalists who were detained as correspondent Peter Greste, an Australian national; producers Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy.
Greste is an award-winning journalist who previously worked for Reuters, CNN and the BBC, Al-Jazeera said. Mohamed and Fawzy are Egyptians. Fahmy holds both Canadian and Egyptian citizenship, according to biographical information in a book he wrote in English, titled “Baghdad Bound: An Interpreter’s Chronicles of the Iraq War.”
In a statement posted on its website, Al-Jazeera demanded the immediate release of the journalists.
Security forces have arrested hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in recent weeks as fresh demonstrations and an uptick in militant attacks have again reignited the battle between the Islamist movement and the state.
The interim cabinet declared the group a terrorist organization last week after a deadly car bomb attack on a security building north of Cairo, for which the Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis asserted responsibility. Government officials have since admitted they do not have direct evidence linking the Brotherhood, whose leaders are in jail, to the bombing.
The terrorist designation has given rise to tensions ahead of a referendum on Egypt’s new constitution, planned for next month. Authorities had hoped the vote would advance the country’s transition to a new government and usher in a period of stability.
In a report released Monday, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists named Egypt one of the most dangerous places to work as a journalist in 2013.

NYT editor defiant on Benghazi

NYT editor defiant on Benghazi report amid lawmaker criticism

A New York Times editor on Monday staunchly defended a controversial report on the Benghazi attack which largely backed the State Department's narrative, amid withering criticism from congressional Republicans and others. 
The State Department, as might be expected, also spoke in defense of the New York Times article. 
"Much of what's in this in-depth investigation ... tracks with what the [internal review board] found and with our understanding of the facts," spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday. 
The lengthy Times report and the subsequent fallout represent the latest battle over the public narrative of what happened the night of Sept. 11, 2012. Even the State Department's internal review did not offer a definitive explanation of what caused the attack and who was behind it. 
The Times investigation, though, aggravated some of the department's toughest critics by concluding there was no involvement from Al Qaeda or any other international terror group and that an anti-Islam film played a role in inciting the initial wave of attacks. 
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told "Fox News Sunday" that the intelligence community would dispute that. He said the story was "not accurate." 
But in a defiant column, Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthalchallenged -- in an almost-mocking tone -- those Republicans, whom he claimed "ran screaming to television studios" to air their complaints with the story. 
He argued that those trying to claim Al Qaeda was involved were doing so for strictly political reasons. 
"For anyone wondering why it's so important to Republicans that Al Qaeda orchestrated the attack -- or how the Obama administration described the attack in its immediate aftermath -- the answer is simple. The Republicans hope to tarnish Democratic candidates by making it seem as though Mr. Obama doesn't take Al Qaeda seriously," he wrote. "They also want to throw mud at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who they fear will run for president in 2016." 
Rosenthal also described as "hilarious" the suggestion that the article was meant to give Clinton a boost in 2016. "Since I will have more to say about which candidate we will endorse in 2016 than any other editor at the Times, let me be clear: We have not chosen Mrs. Clinton. We haven't chosen anyone. I can also state definitively that there was no editorial/newsroom conspiracy of any kind, because I knew nothing about the Benghazi investigation article until I read it in the paper on Sunday," he wrote. 
However, while Rosenthal focused only on Republicans' criticism of the article, the piece also generated considerable pushback from Democrats as well asU.S. personnel on the ground in Libya
California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff told Fox News that the "intelligence indicates Al Qaeda was involved." 
Part of the dispute over Al Qaeda's involvement centers on the definition of Al Qaeda. 
Few have tried to claim the attack was an operation directed by Al Qaeda's central leadership. Harf indeed reiterated Monday that there are "no indications, at this point, that core Al Qaeda directed or planned what happened in Benghazi." 
But some lawmakers say the militants involved clearly have Al Qaeda ties, including the group Ansar al-Shariah 
"It's a distinction without a difference," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said. 
Lawmakers also objected to the conclusion about the anti-Islam film. 
That conclusion conflicts with testimony from Greg Hicks, the deputy to ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the attack. Hicks described the video as "a non-event in Libya" at that time, and consequently not a significant trigger for the attack 
Sean Smith, a foreign service officer, and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were also killed in the 2012 attack. 
But Harf, while not going so far as to say the Times article vindicated the department, defended the conclusion that the video played a role. 
"It was clear to anyone watching what happened around the Muslim world on that day that the video clearly in places inspired protests and violent protests in some places," she said. "What role that played in the attack, that's obviously all part of the ongoing investigation, but we certainly always said from the beginning that this was complicated, there was a lot at play here, that the video clearly inspired anger and in some places violence." 
The video was linked to protests around the world, before the attack. But the State Department initially claimed that the Benghazi attack sprung out of a similar protest -- only to later admit there was no protest on the ground before the attack.

Monday, December 30, 2013

NEWS! Saudis: Obama stabbed us in the back

Saudis lament, 'we have been stabbed in the back by Obama'



Arabs don’t trust Obama either.
As 2013 ends, President Obama has lost credibility with many people who trusted him at the start of the year. Thanks to the Healthcare.gov debacle, polls find support for the president among women and independents has dropped to the lowest ebb of his presidency. Obama's words -- promising Americans they could keep their doctors under his health care plan -- didn’t match his deeds.
Surprisingly, the same thing is happening on the other side of the world among Arabs in the Middle East and for the same reason.
Too often, Obama’s speeches and actions don’t match.
"We are glad the Americans are here," said Ahmed al-Ibrahim, an adviser to some of Saudi Arabia's royals and officials, when I met with him recently, "but we fear that the president has lost credibility after Syria."
Astonished Saudi officials are contrasting Obama's quick actions in South Sudan with his unwillingness to act in places like Syria or in Bahrain.
The Saudi official is referring to Obama’s “red line” vow of military action if the Syrian dictator Bashir Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Assad did and Obama didn’t. Saudi officials were stunned.
Next came the revelation earlier this year that Obama was secretly negotiating with Iran, the mortal enemy of both Israel and Saudi Arabia. Officials in both nations have told me that they simply don't believe that the president can sweet-talk the mullahs out of the weapons they have coveted for years.
“The bond of trust between America and Saudi Arabia has been broken in the Obama years," al-Ibrahim said. "We feel we have been stabbed in the back by Obama."
"Every time that Obama had to choose between his enemies and his friends, he always chose his enemies," he said. "We don't know what he's putting in his tea."
Al-Ibrahim also pointed to Obama's “dangerous inaction” during violent Iran-backed uprisings in Bahrain, and now his negotiations with Iran, and his separate, secret negotiations with Iran's terrorist proxy Hezbollah. Since American officials cannot legally negotiate with terrorist groups and Hezbollah is a State Department-listed terror organization, the administration has been using British diplomats to carry messages to Hezbollah. The Obama administration reportedly favors a "warm up to a direct relationship in the future" with Hezbollah.
Obama is sending conflicting messages. In Washington, the president says negotiations are all we need to meet the Iranian threat. He issued a rare veto threat to try to halt tougher sanctions against Iran.
At the same time, in the Middle East, the president has dispatched more than 40 U.S. Navy vessels (including a carrier-strike group) and sent his secretary of defense to detail America's vast military assets in the region.
Speaking to Arab defense ministers, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel itemized America's military commitment to immediately respond to Iranian aggression:
• More than 35,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in the theater;
• Even after exiting Iraq, the U.S. Army maintains more than 10,000 forward-deployed soldiers as well as tanks, artillery, and attack helicopters;
• America's most advanced fighter jets, including F-22s, are deployed less than an hour's flight time from Iran;
• American surveillance aircraft, ground listening stations, satellites, and sea patrols continue to scan for threats across the region;
• America's missile defense systems--on ground, sea, and air--remain on high alert. That includes the U.S. Navy's ballistic missile defense ships, Patriot missile batteries, and phased-array radars.
“The Department of Defense will work with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on better integration of its members’ missile defense capabilities. The United States continues to believe that a multilateral framework is the best way to develop interoperable and integrated regional missile defense. Such defenses are the best way to deter and, if necessary, defeat coercion and aggression," Hagel told the Gulf News on Dec.18.
With little fanfare, Obama has also quietly lifted the ban on selling sensitive missile-defense technology to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies living within reach of Iran's new Shahab-3 missiles. The Shahab-3's range is 1,242 miles--placing Israel and most of America's Arab allies within striking distance.
However, Obama's quiet efforts to provide new missile defenses and renewed security guarantees may be too little, too late.
The Saudis are now seeking their own military arrangements because they no longer trust the U.S. The GCC, a regional alliance of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, recently announced the creation of a joint military force based in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. 
“There will be a unified command of around 100,000 members, God willing,” Prince Miteb bin Abdullah told reporters. This new force represents a massive expansion of the 30,000-strong Peninsula Shield force.
"We no longer believe that America alone can safeguard our freedom from Iranian aggression," said al-Ibrahim, "that's why we are expanding our forces and integrating our missile defenses with our neighbors."
He added, "the world should understand that the GCC will not stay quiet and leave our member-states vulnerable to bad actors and bad deals in the region. It is our duty to protect our region."
And now, astonished Saudi officials are contrasting Obama's quick actions last weekend in South Sudan with his unwillingness to act in places like Syria or in Bahrain where thousands of U.S. troops and the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet are based.
"The president has shown that he can take action when he chooses to. He chose not to act after the chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but as soon as things started to go wrong in South Sudan, Obama jumped on it," said al-Ibrahim.
On Saturday, Obama dispatched three CV-22 Osprey aircraft, the sort that can fly like an airplane and an helicopter, to South Sudan to evacuate Americans caught in ongoing violence in the city of Bor. The aircraft came under small arms fire and were forced to retreat as they attempted to land. Four U.S. service members were injured in the attempted evacuation. American citizens were rescued successfully on Sunday using civilian and U.N. helicopters.
In his June 4, 2009 Cairo speech, the first American president raised in a Muslim land came to offer a bold promise: "I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect." Four and a half years later, Arab leaders like al-Ibrahim say that "mutual interest" is sundered and "mutual respect" squandered.

If the Saudi exasperation sounds familiar, it is because it is the same tone you hear in Tel Aviv and in Washington.