Friday June 19th, 2015

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metctalf


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World & National     
Shutdown showdown kicks off with Democrats' defense spending filibuster
             

Senate Democrats filibustered the annual defense spending bill Thursday, marking the beginning of shutdown summer — a monthslong battle between Republicans who want to increase government spending by some $40 billion next year and Democrats who say at least twice that is needed.

It’s a major reversal from the recent past, when shutdown showdowns were precipitated by fights over how deeply to cut.

This year, fed up with the depth of defense spending cuts they have had to endure and finally able to do something about it with control of both chambers of Congress, Republican leaders have gone the other direction, proposing a major boost for the Pentagon.

 


Repealing Obamacare would boost economy, but drive deficits deeper says CBO

Repealing Obamacare would spur the economy, adding more than half a percent to the gross domestic product at the beginning of the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said in a new analysis Friday that still found repeal would be bad for the federal deficit.

The dual findings could both boost and hurt GOP leaders’ case as they prepare for one last major effort to repeal President Obama’s signature law before he leaves office.

Tens of millions of Americans would lose coverage they’d have under the Affordable Care Act over the next decade, but that loss would chase many of them back into the labor pool, where they would both get insurance through their jobs, and would lead to other current workers putting in more time on the job.



Ending Obamacare Would Cost $137 Billion

Repealing President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul would increase the federal budget deficit by $353 billion over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Ending the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would increase spending on Medicare while reducing outlays for health- insurance subsidies, Medicaid and coverage for poor children, the agency said in a report Friday. Repealing the law would probably boost the economy as more people sought work to get health insurance, reducing the net cost to $137 billion, the CBO said.

The report is a blow for Republican lawmakers who have sought to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ever since its passage in 2010. If the law were undone, about 19 million more people would become uninsured in 2016, rising to 24 million by 2025, the CBO said.



BORDER IMMIGRATION In Turmoil
             

ICE Director says no one fired for releasing more than 65,000 criminal aliens

As Twitchy reported earlier today, testimony from a House Oversight hearing on a massive security compromise of federal computer systems led a number of people to ask just what it would take for a federal employee to be fired, or at the very least shamed into resigning. Office of Personnel Management director Katherine Archuleta was reportedly offered chances to apologize and resign but “declined to do either.”

This afternoon, House subcommittees on national security and on health care, benefits, and administrative rules met to discuss President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration, which allowed illegal aliens to apply for deferred action status, which protected them from deportation and authorized them to work legally in the United States. Those aliens would then be eligible to obtain Social Security numbers and other government benefits.



Germany will negotiate with Athens 'until last minute'

Berlin will negotiate with Athens "until the last minute", a senior ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel told Germany's Inforadio on Friday, but stressed that Greece must be prepared to carry out reforms.

Euro zone leaders will hold an emergency summit on Monday to try to avert a Greek default after bank withdrawals accelerated and government revenue slumped as Athens and its international creditors remain deadlocked over a debt deal.

Peter Altmaier, Merkel's chief of staff, said he still believed it was possible that Athens and its international lenders could reach a solution to Greece's debt crisis.

"We will negotiate until the last minute," Altmaier told Inforadio, adding that the German government did not want "the people in Greece to be disadvantaged because their government possibly did not recognize in time that the hour has come."



Charleston shooting prompts gun-rights supporters to call for more concealed-carry at church

He was a young gunman bent on shooting as many worshippers as possible, but Matthew J. Murray never got as far as Dylann Roof, the suspect in Wednesday’s South Carolina church massacre.

Murray had already shot and killed two people in the parking lot when he burst into the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Before he could pull the trigger again, however, the 24-year-old shooter was gunned down by Jeanne Assam, a volunteer security guard with a concealed-carry permit.

That was eight years ago, but even though Ms. Assam was credited for saving as many as 100 lives that day, a dozen states continue to restrict the carrying of concealed firearms in churches — including South Carolina.



Russia nears deal to supply China with 24 Su-35 fighter jets
             A Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35S (Wikimedia Commons) **FILE**

The Chinese military is close to signing a deal with Russia for 24 Su-35 fighter jets supplied by United Aircraft Corp.

Yuri Slyusar, who heads the Russian company, acknowledged the planned sale but would not discuss its status.

“The question should go to the federal service on military cooperation, not us. Our position is that we still believe that we will sign the contract to sell 24 aircraft this year,” Mr. Slyusar told reporters at the Paris Air Show, Military.com reported Friday.



New Russian cruise missiles prompt Pentagon to build better shield for U.S. cities


The Pentagon is building a better U.S. missile defense shield as officials try to gauge the threat posed by advanced Russian cruise missiles.

Military officials are working on ways to better protect U.S. cities that involves F-16 fighter jets working in concert with sensor-laden aerostat balloons and warships, Defense One reported Thursday. A critical component of the plan includes new radar sensors for F-16s that patrol Washington.

“We’re devoting a good deal of attention to ensuring we’re properly configured against such an attack in the homeland, and we need to continue to do so,” Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said May 19 in Washington, Defense One reported Thursday.



 WikiLeaks to Leak More than 500,000 Saudi Documents

WikiLeaks is in the process of publishing more than 500,000 Saudi diplomatic documents to the Internet, the transparency website said Friday, a move that echoes its famous release of U.S. State Department cables in 2010.

WikiLeaks says in a statement that it has already posted roughly 60,000 documents. Most of them appeared to be in Arabic.

There was no immediate way to verify the authenticity of the documents, although WikiLeaks has a long track record of hosting large-scale leaks of government material. Many of the documents carried green letterhead marked "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" or "Ministry of Foreign Affairs."



The candidate who says the darndest things

We need the comic relief, and like little children, Donald Trump can always be counted on to say the darndest things, usually about himself. The Donald often blows hard, but he’s funny, sometimes even witty, and says things a lot of people think and would like to say, but are afraid. First Amendment or not, talking out loud can be risky in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The Donald is very, very rich — just ask him — so he can afford to stick his thumb in anybody’s eye that deserves a thumb. He can fire people but nobody can fire him.

The Donald is guaranteed press, some of it good and some of it not so good, but there’s always lots of it. The political correspondents usually operate without an institutional memory — history was first recorded only six months ago — and with little context. The Donald can be used to make Republicans look mean, snarky and foolish. He’s what newspapermen used to call “good copy.” He says whatever pops into his head, looking for an exit. Frankness can be amusing, depending on who’s on the other end of the taunt.



Time for New Strategy in Iraq, Syria

It's time for a new strategy in Iraq and Syria. It begins by admitting that the old borders are gone, that a unified Syria or Iraq will never be reconstituted, that the Sykes-Picot map is defunct.

We may not want to enunciate that policy officially. After all, it does contradict the principle that colonial borders be maintained no matter how insanely drawn, the alternative being almost universally worse. Nonetheless, in Mesopotamia, Balkanization is the only way to go.

Because it has already happened and will not be reversed. In Iraq, for example, we are reaping one disaster after another by pretending that the Baghdad government — deeply sectarian, divisive, and beholden to Iran — should be the center of our policy and the conduit for all military aid.



Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
GeneTrerally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
The first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to Private JACOB PARROTT.The last award of the Medal of Honor was made September 15, 2011 to Sergeant DAKOTA MEYER.

Since then there have been:  • 3458 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
    • Today there are 85 Living Recipients of the Medal of Honor.


BENAVIDEZ, ROY P.
Rank: Master Sergeant
Organization: U.S. Army
Company: Detachment B-56
Division: 5th Special Forces Group


 
BENAVIDEZ, ROY P.
 
Citation

Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez' gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.




From the Archives

American Fairness to a Fault — a Deadly One
Tuesday, 10 Nov 2009 02:28 PM

American’s tragic flaw is our unbridled fairness, which has been corrupted ever more by the cancer of political correctness to the point we put ourselves at risk rather than create even the perception of prejudice.

Sometime after the VOLAR (all volunteer) Army, the military veered from the “yes sir, yes sir, three bags full” blind adherence to all orders to the concept of refusing “unlawful orders” and that was ostensibly a good thing.

However, the uniformed services do not set or get to pick and choose foreign policy. The civilian leadership sets foreign policy, and the U.S. military enforces it — with a big, honking combined arms stick.

Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters has been one of the rare pundits with the courage to target the “culture of political correctness” in leadership of the military. In at least two interviews on Fox, Peters (correctly) blamed the culture of political correctness for the Army’s diffidence in taking action against Nidal Malik Hasan in the wake of knowledge of the problem.

Many mechanisms exist for dealing with matters of deep conscience — all without killing those one might think disagree with in principle.

However, it is not prejudice to discriminate based on threat facts in evidence. Refusal to act judiciously for fear of a tainted perception is just plain dumb.

Notwithstanding the articulated fears of the Army chief of staff and the secretary of Homeland Security, officials made an epic mistake in handling suspicions about Hasan. A mistake founded on political correctness and sustained by diffidence that cost the lives of innocents.

Reportedly, U.S. intelligence agencies were aware (months ago) that Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al-Qaida. He spoke openly to too many people about his angst and misdirected sympathies. He was apparently a poster child for suspicion, and the Army failed bigtime to intervene.

“It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al-Qaida figures," the officials said.

But you damnbetcha they SHOULD have done so.

Investigators want to know whether Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a Web site that promotes jihad around the world against the United States.

In a recent blog posting titled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing," Awlaki calls Hasan a "hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."

Increasingly we are told people who knew or worked with Hasan say he seemed to become gradually more radical in his condemnation of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Subordinates and superiors had a responsibility to flag the inappropriate rhetoric, and they apparently did not.

The fear to speak out is a symptom of the PC disease fueled by recriminations and implied threats of discrimination — a fear that indirectly resulted in mayhem.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman said, "If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have a zero tolerance," and despite the echo of shutting the barn door after the horse got out, he is right.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr. is concerned that speculation about the religious beliefs of Hasan could “cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.” He’s right, but such a backlash would be a direct result of the failure of command — not prejudice.

When confronted about whether he thought the Army “dropped the ball” in not responding to warning signs, Casey replied that the Army needs to be careful not to jump to conclusions based on early tidbits of information.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., both of whom are veterans, took pains to say that Muslims have served honorably in the military and at risk to their lives.

“At the end of the day, this is not about his religion — the fact that this man was a Muslim,” Graham said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

But, hey, it is (kinda/sorta) about religion (when the FBI says 10 percent of American Mosques preach jihad) — at least from a risk analysis perspective.