Friday, November 16, 2012

Quick Hits - November 16, 2012 - UPDATE #3 ADDED

After announcing the mobilization of 30,000 reservists yesterday, the Israeli Defense Minister has called for the additional mobilization of 75,000 more in the wake of continuing rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns launched by Hamas and other Islamic terror organizations in Gaza.  Yesterday, one major 'red line' of Israel was crossed as Hamas fired on the Israeli city of Tel Aviv - and earlier today, several long range missiles from Gaza struck Jerusalem - another 'red line' defined by the Israelis.

Today, the Egyptian Prime Minister visited Gaza - demonstrating 'solidarity' with the terrorist thugs who continue to pummel Israel with rockets - including those with warheads comparable to that of a 500 pound bomb.  Leading anti-Israeli groups and media outlets, including the BBC and the New York Times, are focusing their attention on the Israeli counter-fire against the hundreds of missiles being launched per day - with numerous propaganda photo-ops of Palestinian 'civilian' casualties while ignoring the toll of the Palestinian missiles which have killed 4 Israeli civilians and wounded well over one hundred.

Also lost within the biased reporting from the region - the common tactic of the Palestinian terror organizations of basing / hiding their missile batteries, launch sites, and missile storage facilities in extremely close proximity to civilian structures like schools, playgrounds, apartment flats, and mosques...

In the above photo released by the IDF - one major missile launch site was half a block away from a mosque and playground, in addition to a gas station and factories occupied by Palestinian workers.  It is a standard operating principle of Hamas and other terror organizations to use their own civilian population and civilian structures as shields in an effort to protect their terror operations against Israel.

With the continued escalations of Hamas and other groups in firing their missiles, it is more likely that this weekend will see a full-fledged invasion of Gaza by the IDF as the terror organizations continue to refuse to halt their constant rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

These actions make it perfectly clear that these organizations, and by extension the Palestinian leadership, has no interest in a peaceful resolution to the issues in the region or recognition of the Israeli right to exist.  They will continue to fire missiles and hide behind their own women, children, and the useful idiots of the mainstream media as they provoke retaliation.

Hostess Brands Inc is petitioning their bankruptcy judge for permission to close and liquidate the company as the 6,000 member strong Baker's Union, the company's second largest union, continues to strike and oppose a court approved plan to restructure the current union contracts to lower costs to the company in an effort to keep the company solvent, competitive, and operational.  Unlike the Teamsters, the company's largest union, the Baker's Union is opposing a plan to reduce wages and benefits over the next five years in exchange for a 25% equity stake in the company and an equal representation on the company's Board of Directors.  The union is claiming [unsubstantiated] that when they took a pay and benefit reduction during a previous trip into bankruptcy - the management rewarded themselves with massive pay increases and bonuses.

Because the Bakers Union is insisting on trying to get blood from a stone, and preventing the company from operating today, 18,500 employees are going to lose their job because of the intransigence of the Union leadership / membership.

The Teamsters, somewhat surprisingly, is laying the full blame on the decision to close the 82 year old company firmly at the feet of the Baker's Union - noting in their statement that the Baker's Union sandbagged  both company management and the Teamsters by walking out on strike as opposed to voting on the court approved resolution which was a major step to permit the company move beyond its bankruptcy filing.

Hot Air has some specifics on the deal that the leadership of the Baker's Union is refusing to accept - 
The proposed new labor deal consists of an immediate 8% wage cut and work rules more favorable to the company. Employer contributions for health insurance would decrease 17%. Hostess contributions to multi-employer pension plans would cease until 2015, at which point the current required level of funding would plummet from $100 million to $25 million. According to Rayburn, the proposal has been endorsed by Hostess’s key secured lenders, which are led by hedge funds Silver Point Capital and Monarch Alternative Capital. One estimate put cost savings for Hostess in the neighborhood of $200 million.

For their part, the unions would receive two seats on a restructured nine-member board of directors and 25% of equity. That would make the unions part of Hostess’ capital structure for the first time.
The stupidity of the union leadership is just unfathomable.  Rather than accept a reduction in wages and benefits in exchange for roughly an equal equity stake in the organization, the unions would prefer 0% wages, 0% benefits, and 0% equity stake not only for themselves, but the other 2/3rds of the company's employees.

Since the progressives like to harp on 'fairness' as their mantra - here's my recommendation for 'fairness' regarding the decision by the clueless nimrods of the Baker's Union:

If you are a member of the Baker's Union at Hostess Brands, you are not entitled to ANY PUBLIC ASSISTANCE in ANY FORM.  No unemployment.  No food stamps.  No welfare.  No job transition training.  NOTHING.  Meanwhile, all of the others at Hostess Brands who lose their jobs get all of the public assistance that they are entitled to.

These safety net programs are designed and intended for those who lose their jobs from no fault of themselves.  But if your own greed, arrogance, stupidity, and intransigence is such that you cost yourself your job - then you get bupkis.  Decisions have ramifications people.  Live the ramifications of your assinine decision - and the knowledge that you not only effed yourself over - but 12,500 of your fellow employees.

Now, Hostess Brands will become the latest example of what is wrong with unions- and their unwillingness to partner with anyone to save a company already in bankruptcy and trying to claw their way out.

Earlier this morning, David Petraeus testified before the House of Representatives on the Benghazi terror attack, the timeline, the causation of the attacks, and the Administration's deliberately confusing and misleading communication regarding the attack as they spun the meme for political expediency.

Key around the testimony are the spinning of the Administration around the terror attack which killed four Americans, including the US Ambassador to Libya.

Despite real-time video and radio communications from the US Consulate and Annex facilities during the attack which clearly show that the attack was not a spontaneous demonstration sparked by an obscure You Tube video that turned violent - the primary message of the Obama Administration for two weeks after the attack was that this was a spontaneous demonstration sparked by a video on You Tube seen by some to be anti-Islam.

Messages from the President, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and infamously, the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice to half a dozen Sunday news programs, all stressed that the attack was not a terror attack and the result of a demonstration sparked by the obscure video.  Only when more detailed information and testimony before Congress took place in mid to late October did the real truth become fully known - that the  attack was a deliberate terror attack on the anniversary of 9/11 launched by an affiliate / surrogate of al-Qaeda which had been expanding its power and influence in Benghazi since the end of the Libyan revolution.

But even as the President, who on September 25th told the viewers of the ABC program, The View, the spin that this was a demonstration sparked by the video, he reversed course three weeks later in the second debate when he contended he 'correctly' called the attack a terror attack on Sept. 12th from the Rose Garden.  He never called it a terror attack until the evidence that it was became public and could no longer be spun by the Administration.

I've long contended that the President and Administration were lying about the terror attack from the start for the reason of pure political expediency.  At that time, the President's standard campaign stump speech focused on the 'positive nature' of the Arab Spring replacing Arab dictators, 'establishing democracy' in the region, and the success of the President's policies in reducing Islamic terror and putting al-Qaeda 'on the run'.

All of this would implode under the reality of the circumstance - where the Arab Spring replaced secular dictators with radical Islamic fundamentalists who hold the US and the West as their primary enemy, where 'democracy' is a joke, and where al-Qaeda is being resurgent in the region and increasing its violence against the US / West.

In yesterday's QH, I detailed what we have learned since the resignation of David Petraeus - and the information / timeline that the his resignation had more to do with his decisions to not provide CIA cover for the Administration's efforts to lie to the American people for political expediency.  The fawning and feckless mainstream media is ignoring their responsibility to question the President and other Administration officials on the obvious discrepancies in the Administration's spin.  As the President himself noted to the silence of the press, Ambassador Susan Rice was selected by the White House to spin her story to the American people even though 'she had nothing to do with Benghazi'.

The 'excuse' offered for Ambassador Rice's pathetic spin was that she spoke based on the current and best intelligence the Administration had from the CIA that the Benghazi attack was a demonstration sparked by the You Tube video that spontaneously turned violent.  CBS News highlighted the CIA talking points earlier this week - as the Administration sought to toss the CIA under the bus to protect itself.

As Director of the CIA, David Petraeus, strongly opposed the tossing of the CIA under the bus when State Department officials had already testified that it was known DURING the 8 hour long attack that it was a terror attack launched by an al-Qaeda affiliate.  This opposition brought him into conflict with the incompetent Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who is not only a loyal political minion of Barack Obama, but known best for calling the Muslim Brotherhood a 'largely secular institution' during the Egyptian Arab Spring.

Now out of his position as the Director of the CIA, and with little left to lose, David Petraeus testified behind closed doors today.  In his testimony, according to statements from members of Congress at the hearings, he stressed two primary points.

First, he testified that he believed from the first that the Benghazi attack was a deliberate terror attack planned against the Consulate and Annex facilities timed for the anniversary of 9/11.  Not only was this a deliberate terror attack, but al-Qaeda was ultimately behind the terror attack as an al-Qaeda affiliate / surrogate conducted the attack.

Petraeus noted that the initial attack on the Consulate was more disjointed and uncoordinated than the later attack on the heavily defended Annex which included heavy weapons (mortars).  One possible explanation for the lack of coordination on the earlier attack was that the attackers met far less resistance than expected and were unprepared to easily breach the main residence and key outbuildings - needing time to organize themselves as to what they would do.

The second major point is that the initial CIA talking points / assessment of the attack as provided for briefing other Administration officials - like Ambassador Susan Rice - differed significantly from the talking points that were later released and claimed by Ambassador Rice and others to be basis of their comments.  The initial assessment referenced terror and al-Qaeda - but someone within the Administration or CIA 'altered' the talking points to fit the political message the Administration was pushing.

The alteration of intelligence determinations to fit a political agenda / viewpoint is not unknown.  Democrats accused the Bush Administration of doing this repeatedly throughout 2002-2008.  But while there was / is no concrete evidence of this being done - we do have evidence of 'shadow warriors' within the CIA selectively leaking / preparing materials intended to politically embarrass the Bush Administration.  Therefore, it is not much of a surprise that another of these 'shadow warriors' or politically motivated operatives buried within the CIA would alter the initial CIA assessment of Benghazi so that it would match the politically expedient message of the Obama White House as it was deep within an election campaign.

David Petraeus said that he does not know who within the chain of command who was working on the CIA assessment made the change - but was adamant that the Administration altered the talking points to fit the preconceived meme of a video sparked demonstration that spontaneously turned violent.

This is a major point - and reflects yet another callous and arrogant decision by the Administration to embark on a politically motivated CYA to hide their incompetence, fecklessness, and agenda despite the cost in lies.

Fast and Furious is the DoJ program to 'justify' increased gun controls resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths from the weapons that the DoJ gave Mexican Drug Cartels.  When exposed, the Administration embarked on a massive cover-up to hide the details about this feckless program and protect key Administration members.

Now we have a similar undertaking with regards to the Benghazi terror attack, and the refusal of the Administration to do it could to protect / rescue American lives because to do so would expose the naive and incompetent Administration policies towards the Middle East and terrorism.

We now know that the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, was selected by the White House to lie to the American people because they knew she would be a loyal political operative and do so.  We also know that the White House / Administration altered determinations by the CIA around the cause of the attack in order to protect the political expediency of the Administration.

Unlike Watergate, the massive cover-up by the Nixon Administration undertaken to protect President Nixon, people died because of the machinations of the Obama Administration in Fast and Furious and Benghazi.  Members of the Obama Administration lied in order to protect their responsibility and accountability around those deaths - proving once again how laughable it is to believe this is the 'most ethical and transparent' Administration ever.

For this, we have to hold the President fully accountable as he dared us to do in his press conference earlier this week.  And if the President is so arrogant as to nominate Susan Rice to replace the outgoing Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, we owe it to the four dead Americans to oppose her confirmation as Secretary of State.  We need a diplomat in that role - not a partisan political hack.

Update I - Unsurprisingly, pathetic wankers like the third highest ranking Democrat in the House, James Clyburn, and other House Democrats are wasting little time playing the race card against those who want to hold Susan Rice accountable for her willingness to shill and lie to the American people.  No one is going after Rice because she is an African-American woman.  We are going after Rice because she shilled for the Administration and lied to the American people in order to promote the politically expedient spin of the Administration.  Her race and gender has nothing to do with it.  It's her lack of judgment and ethics.  We do not need a political dupe in the role of either SecState or US Ambassador to the UN - but that seems to be the requirement of the Obama Administration - that all senior officials need to be political dupes first and foremost.

Playing the race card in this manner only highlights that those who do play this card are reprehensible scoundrels - and that we are on the right path in our investigation and affixing accountability and responsibility.

Update II - In an interview between Fox News Megyn Kelly and Congressman Peter King, the Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, the initial CIA talking points / assessment left Langley (the CIA Headquarters) containing the conclusion that the attack was a deliberate terror attack.  At some point outside of the CIA - when the material was in the control of the Administration / White House (National Security office / State Department / White House proper), the references to the attack being a terror attack conducted by an al-Qaeda surrogate were removed.  This places even stronger blame on Barack Obama and his Administration for their efforts to lie to the American people and mask their accountability / responsibility in the deaths of four Americans all in the name of selfish political expediency.

Update III - While several Democrat's, including California Representative Adam Schiff have rushed out to counter the testimony of David Petraeus by denying the former CIA Director testified behind closed doors that the CIA assessment had been altered once it was received by the White House - more information comes out to confirm this from a separate House Intelligence Committee briefing by Director National Intelligence James Clapper and acting CIA Director Mike Morell:
Fox News was told that neither Clapper nor Morell knew for sure who finalized [the talking points the White House initially relief on]. And they could not explain why they minimized the role of a regional Al Qaeda branch as well as the militant Ansar al-Sharia despite evidence of their involvement.
Could not explain why they minimized the role of a regional al Qaeda branch despite evidence of AQIM's involvement....

Let that sink in for a minute. 

How hard can it be to make this determination?  It's about as hard as determining who gave the orders to NOT send relief forces to rescue the two security personnel trapped on the roof of the Annex and under heavy attack by the regional al-Qaeda branch. Someone has to give a 'Go' order - someone has to give a 'Do Not Go' order.

Someone, in or around the White House, is actively working to not only write al-Qaeda out of the Benghazi attack, but lie to all of us about the utter fecklessness and failures of the Obama Administration ranging from their observations and assessments of the region to their incompetence / unwillingness to protect American lives - finding that protection is less necessary than providing political cover for the President and his agenda / campaign talking points.

Someone is clearly lying here [not to mention in full on CYA mode] - and it doesn't appear to be David Petraeus or the Congressional Republicans who are asking for public hearings on the decisions and actions of the Administration.  Hearings only threaten the incompetent and guilty.

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