Monday, October 15, 2012

Quick Hits - October 15, 2012

The Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, is asking one of the dozens of questions that American newspapers are neglecting to ask over the Libya terror attack scandal - Why did the State Department outsource the Benghazi security contract to a small British firm that only had a few months of experience operating in Libya?
Blue Mountain, which is run by a former member of the SAS, received paper work to operate in Libya last year following the collapse of Col Muammar Gaddafi's regime. It worked on short term contacts to guard an expatriate housing compound and a five-star hotel in Tripoli before landing the prestigious US deal.

Other firms in the security industry expressed surprise that Blue Mountain had won a large, high profile contract from the US government. One industry executive said the level of service Blue Mountain provided did not appear adequate to the risks presented by a lawless city.
How did this firm get the US contract?  Whom at State was responsible for this decision?  What even put this firm on the radar screen?

These questions are just as important to get answered for the American people as to the ones as to whom in the State Department did not escalate the multiple requests for additional security up and over to the White House - as well as this very disturbing element of the scandal that reflects badly on the State Department, the fact that State is sitting on $2.2 billion in funds already authorized for upgrading security at US embassies and consulates worldwide.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) says the State Department is sitting on $2.2 billion that should be spent on upgrading security at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide, but the Obama administration will not spend the funds.

Issa made his comment during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” to discuss the recent attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, held a highly partisan hearing on the incident last week.

Issa claims the State Department will not spend the already approved funds because they didn’t want to the appearance of needing increased security.

“The fact is, they [the State Department.] are making the decision not to put the security in because they don’t want the presence of security,” Issa said. “That is not how you do security.”

This is not the last example today of the utter incompetence of the State Department.  We also have new evidence of just how utterly clueless the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is.  I have often referenced that one of the traits of the naive progressives, in the Administration and supporting the Administration, is that when it comes to foreign policy, they only see what they want to believe as opposed to believing what they are seeing.  During a speech Friday at the Center of Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, SecState Clinton demonstrates she only sees what she wants to believe...
During a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., on Friday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Arabs have “firmly rejected the extremist argument.”

“By starting down the path of Democratic politics, Libyans and Arabs across the region have firmly rejected the extremist argument that violence and death are the only way to reclaim dignity and achieve justice,” Clinton said.
Really?  Is that why Tunisia and Egypt have just elected Islamist governments?  Or that the Islamists in Egypt are threatening violence if Egypt's new Constitution doesn't define Sharia as the legal basis for the country?
Jama’a al-Islamiya hinted Friday that it may be willing to resort to violence in order to see Sharia adopted in the latest draft of the constitution from the Constituent Assembly.

The group called on Egyptians to collect funds for what it described as a battle against “secularists and liberals.”

Jama’a al-Islamiya leader Mohamed Salah is a member of the Jurisprudence Commission for Rights and Reform, which is comprised of a number of Islamist figures, including Khairat al-Shater, deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Salah said during a conference in the Ain Shams neighborhood that Egyptians should “support Islamic Sharia in the Egyptian constitution,” and that “Jama’a al-Islamiya will fight for the application of God’s law, even if that requires bloodshed.”

He called on Islamist movements to organize mass demonstrations to “trap secularists inside the place where the Constituent Assembly holds its meetings, so that everyone knows that the people want an Islamist [state].”
I think the SecState's comments are probably the dumbest on Islamic fundamentalism since DNI James Clapper defined the Muslim Brotherhood as a 'mainly secular organization'.

Tomorrow's second Presidential debate will focus on the topic of foreign policy.

President Obama is reported to be taking his debate preparation very seriously in the wake of his dismal performance on Oct. 3rd during the first debate.  For that debate, the President undertook his debate prep at a Las Vegas area golf resort - and visited a local campaign office where he told campaign staff and reporters that the debate prep was 'a drag'.

For this debate, the President is prepping at a Virginia golf resort.  On Friday, he did a major radio interview... with a Rap music DJ on a Miami radio station while again visiting a local campaign office and bringing pizzas.  No word if he still considers the prep 'a drag' or on how many rounds of golf he was able to squeeze in.  I know he didn't do any interviews regarding the Libyan fiasco - but did he attend his daily national security briefs?

I expect that the President, if asked a question on Libya by tomorrow's debate moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley, will continue down the path established by Jay Carney, David Axelrod, and Joe Biden, that he did not know of the threats against the consulate or Ambassador, or of the requests made by those in Libya for additional security.  In other words, that he will continue to deflect attention from his failures by pointing the finger of blame at the State Department and intelligence community.  In today's NY Post, Michael Walsh writes that the State Department is already starting to push back from being tossed under the bus...
Indeed, State has already started the pushback. It has pointedly released the transcript of an Oct. 9 media briefing in which Brad Klapper of the Associated Press asks what “led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?”

Someone described only as “Senior State Department Official Two” answers, “That is a question you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion.”

Of course, Biden and Obama spokesmen like Jay Carney have been claiming that “the intelligence” the White House received at first had blamed the attack on the video.

This part of the blame game will fail because it just doesn’t make any sense. The American IC is not infallible, but what part of it — the CIA? The National Security Agency? State’s own Bureau of Intelligence and Research? — would have leaped to such a ridiculous conclusion?

Mere hours after the attack, the nation’s spooks knew this was terrorism, not amateur movie criticism. There had been ample warning — including an assault on the British ambassador as well as earlier attacks on our consulate — that something was coming.

And yet the White House — which as recently as Oct. 8 was still insisting that a resurgent al Qaeda is “on its heels” — has chosen to stick to another exonerative fairy story: that it was unaware that Ambassador Chris Stevens had begged for more security at the beleaguered Benghazi compound.
Speaking of Candy Crowley, she did little to hide her progressive bias and cheerleading while appearing on CNN yesterday -

- calling the Romney / Ryan ticket the 'death wish ticket'.  She would go onto say that she sees her role as moderator is to take an active role in the debate - hinting she will be more like Martha Raddatz who frequently interrupted Paul Ryan in the VP Debate than Jim Lehrer who was castigated by the left for his passive role in the first Presidential debate.

While there is considerable focus on foreign policy in preparation for the debate, the Romney campaign continues to push Barack Obama on his economic record.  This is the latest hard hitting campaign ad - Fiscal Discipline...

Political cartoonist Michael Ramirez has a great take on last week's Vice Presidential debate in today's cartoon....

A number of commentators over the weekend highlighted last Friday's release of the September Retail Sales numbers - which showed a very strong increase of 1.1%.

But when books are being regularly cooked to present a record / view of the economy that is intended to provide a political boost to the President's reelection campaign, data points like this which tout far better news than expected deserve a deeper look.  Zerohedge does this deeper look and finds that the books are still being cooked.
Just when we thought we may finally get one decent economic data point which even we could get excited about, we decided to look at the Non-Seasonally Adjusted September retail sales data. After all the $4.7 billion seasonal increase in headline retail sales was the second highest ever (in absolute terms, second only to 2004). Turns out our curiosity was an enthusiasm-dowsing mistake, as a number which on the surface looked good, was hardly validated by the Not-Seasonally Adjusted number, which plunged by $31.9 billion. How does this September sequential change compare to previous years? See the chart below and decide for yourselves if the massive NSA plunge in September 2012 merits the second best seasonally adjusted retail sales increase in history.

Cooking the books is still not just limited to economic data either.  The Washington Post is highlighting their latest ABC News / WaPo poll which is showing President Obama still leading by 1 point on a national basis even after the President's dismal showing at the first Presidential debate.  But as Hot Air's Ed Morrissey notes, an examination of the poll beyond the headline provides some bad news for the President as well as continued evidence that these pollsters are cooking the books.

According to this poll, Mitt Romney is leading Barack Obama by 6 points among independents.  In 2008, Barack Obama won independents by 8 points over John McCain, on his way to a 7 point victory.  One of the questions that this poll has to raise is how can Mitt Romney, with a 14 point swing in the support by independents, be trailing Barack Obama by 1 point if he leads Independents by 6?

That can only happen if one significantly oversamples Democrats - which is what ABC News / WaPoo does yet again - this time fantasizing a D+9 turnout model for this election.  In 2008, with the full on Obama orgasm taking place, the turnout model was D+7.  In 2010, when the tide turned significantly against the President in the wake of Obamacare and the failure of 'recovery summer', the turnout model was even.  Yet, the nattering nitwits at the WaPoo expect us to believe that the Democrats are even more enthusiastic today than they were during the 2008?

This is clearly a delusional sample.  But the delusional sample also hammers some grim news for the President just three weeks out from Election Day.  Even with the sample skew, the President's 'lead' is within the margin of error.  His plurality also remains below 50%.  None of that is good news for Barack Obama.

Politico and George Washington University also released a poll today which shows the President holding onto the slim 1 point lead on a national basis - but trailing Mitt Romney by 2 points in the 10 swing states that Politico is tracking.  The swing states will be the deciders in the election - so having blue states like California or New York skew the national standing is not very important.

This poll, featuring a D+4 sample, also has some real challenges despite their far closer to reality party split.  Even though only 4 points more Democrats participated in the poll than Republicans, the poll models a Republican turnout that is the same level as 2008 and well behind that of 2010 - hinting of a real lack of Republican enthusiasm towards this year's election.  None of that is matched by enthusiasm numbers shown by other pollsters over the last several months - or the crowds that are attending Romney / Ryan campaign events.

Within the poll, more bad news for the President - he's losing seniors by 17 points and independents by 8 points - which then begs the question, with these demographic splits, how real is that 1 point lead?

One of the key plans of a Mitt Romney Presidency is to undertake a substantial and major reform of our tax code.  The goal is to reduce tax rates across the board by 20% to stimulate growth while closing deductions and loopholes to offset the tax reduction.

This ambitious plan is under considerable fire from the left - and the Wall Street Journal is reporting that NY Senator Chuck Schumer (D), a hard line progressive, is already saying that he will do all he can to prevent this tax reform plan from being implemented....
The polls say voters want more bipartisanship, and one possibility in 2013 is tax reform that trades lower rates for fewer loopholes. Well, so much for that. The man who wants to be the next leader of the Senate Democrats has declared that this "old-style of tax reform is obsolete."

The antireformer is Chuck Schumer, the Senator from Wall Street, er, New York, who averred at the National Press Club last week that his party will have nothing to do with tax reform of the kind that Ronald Reagan negotiated with Democrats in 1986, or that the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission proposed in 2010, or that the Gang of Six Senators have been working on. It's Chuck's way or no way.

Mr. Schumer says the only way to reform is to broaden the tax base and raise tax rates. If you're wondering how this differs from a plain vanilla tax increase, good question. The Democrat says that all revenue from any tax loophole closing must go to "reduce the deficit, which is strangling our economic growth."

That's a good one coming from a Senator who has never met a spending increase he didn't like and who has led the fight against spending cuts offered by House Republicans in the last two years. When he says all revenue should go toward "deficit reduction," he's merely offering political cover for more future spending. Without a change in the tax code or permanent changes in the structure of entitlements, there is no way to prevent Congress from spending every dime raised from loophole closing.

Mr. Schumer's real agenda is betrayed by his other reason for opposing tax reform—income inequality. The affluent simply make too much money, so they must have more of it taken away and redistributed by . . . Mr. Schumer.
This is a reminder why the GOP has to take control of the Senate - where they can use reconciliation to push through tax reform and start the process to turn the economy around.

Yesterday, former Senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, died at the age of 82.  Specter served in the US Senate for 30 years - rising to chair the influential Senate Judiciary Committee during the years of GOP majority control of the Senate.

Many are touting Specter's tenure in the Senate as a principled 'moderate'.  However, this tenure was tainted by the Senator's role in the 'borking' of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork during the Reagan Administration as he sided with rabid progressives like Teddy Kennedy to defame / defeat his nomination.

Specter again raised the ire of conservatives in April 2009 when he switched from the GOP to the Democrat party, providing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with a 60 vote filibuster-proof supermajority which was instrumental in passing many Obama initiatives during 2009-2010.  This move was far less about ideology and far more about Specter's ego and focus on himself rather than representing the people of Pennsylvania.

The people of Pennsylvania rewarded Arlen Specter in the summer of 2010 by sending him to defeat as he sought the Democrat Senate nomination...and then electing the conservative Pat Toomey to his seat in November 2010.

My impressions of interviews of Specter in the wake of the primary defeat was of a person who was 'shocked' [ as in Captain Renault 'shocked' ] that the people of Pennsylvania had rejected him after his self-serving party change - unwilling to see how his own large ego damaged his reputation - and that his 'moderate' positions had very little to do it.

Today in History

1863 - C.S.S Hunley, the first successful combat submarine, sinks during a test run killing its inventor, Horace Hunley, and 7 crew members.  The boat would be recovered and relaunched with a new crew in February 1864.  During that month, the boat would enter Charleston Harbor and sink the USS Housatanic with a torpedo in the first successful submarine attack in history.  The Hunley failed to return to port and was lost in the attack.  In 2000 the Hunley was raised from the bottom of Charleston Harbor and is now displayed in Charleston, SC museum.

1917 - Mata Hari, the archetype seductive female spy, is executed for espionage by a French Army firing squad in Vincennes, France - just outside of Paris.

1945 - Pierre Laval, the former leader of Vichy France and a puppet of Nazi Germany, is executed by a French firing squad for treason against France.  Laval had been nursed back to health from a suicide attempt two weeks earlier in an effort to cheat the firing squad.

1946 - Hermann Goering, the head of the German Luftwaffe, President of the Reichstag, and designated by Adolf Hitler as his successor, commits suicide via a cyanide capsule he had hidden from his guards to avoid being executed by hanging after being found guilty of war crimes against humanity by the Nuremberg Tribunal.

1991 - Clarence Thomas is confirmed by a close 52-48 vote in the US Senate to the post of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  He is the second African-American to serve on the Supreme Court.  His confirmation hearings were highly contentious as Anita Hill, a former aide of Mr. Thomas, stepped forward at the urging of progressive liberals opposed to the conservative nominee, and accused him of sexual harassment.  After 4 days of televised hearings on accusation, the Senate took the vote on the accusation.  In many ways the jihad against Clarence Thomas was very similar to the efforts to defame and derail the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987.  This was a clear example of the partisan divide fueled by progressive liberals that was becoming entrenched in Washington DC.

No comments:

Post a Comment