Tuesday June 23rd, 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     

Republicans Give Him Power
               


The Senate on Tuesday voted to advance President Obama’s trade agenda, approving a measure to end debate on fast-track authority.

The 60-37 motion sets up a vote on final passage on Wednesday. If the Senate approves fast-track or trade promotion authority (TPA), it would then be sent to Obama’s desk to become law.

Fast-track authority would allow Obama to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes. The White House wants the authority to conclude negotiations on a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.



Bipartisan distrust of Obama threatens trade deal,  remainder of term


Global warming has emerged as the newest battleground on trade, with opponents on both the right and the left trying to use the hot-button issue to sink President Obama’s quest for a legacy-building free trade deal.

Conservatives argue that Mr. Obama will use trade negotiating powers to write a binding climate deal into any agreement and say that alone is reason to deny the White House fast-track negotiating powers. Liberal opponents of a trade deal say they don’t think the agreement gives the president enough power to work on trade.

The confusing dichotomy underscores the distrust of Mr. Obama on both sides of the political spectrum — and the intensity of opponents determined to scuttle the emerging deal.
 


Ted Cruz: Obamatrade Enmeshed in Corrupt, Backroonm Dealings
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The American people do not trust President Obama.  And they do not trust Republican leadership in Congress.  And the reason is simple: for far too long, politicians in Washington have not told the truth.

Both President Obama and Republican leadership are pressing trade promotion authority, also known as TPA, or “fast-track.” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) both oppose it.

As a general matter, I agree (as did Ronald Reagan) that free trade is good for America; when we open up foreign markets, it helps American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers.

But TPA in this Congress has become enmeshed in corrupt Washington backroom deal-making, along with serious concerns that it would open up the potential for sweeping changes in our laws that trade agreements typically do not include.

'Fed up' conservatives plot revenge...
Mexico to Overtake Russia by 2050 as USA Slides; Projected Shakeup Of World Order...



McConnell asks senators to cast pro-trade vote once more
             

Backers of President Barack Obama's trade agenda are imploring key senators to stand by their previous votes when they revisit the issue in a showdown set for Tuesday.

Opponents meanwhile are mounting an equally emotional push to keep Obama from obtaining "fast track" authority to negotiate trade agreements with Pacific Rim countries and others.



The Roberts Court's Surrising Move Leftward

The Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been a conservative court. But even conservative courts have liberal terms – and the current term is leaning left as it enters its final two weeks.

The court has issued liberal decisions in 54 percent of the cases in which it had announced decisions as of June 22, according to the Supreme Court Database, using a widely accepted standard developed by political scientists. If that trend holds, the final percentage could rival the highest since the era of the notably liberal court of the 1950s and 1960s led by Chief Justice Earl Warren. The closest contenders are the previous term and the one that started in 2004 and ended with the announcement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement.



Obama to ease rules against ransom of U.S. hostages

President Obama is expected to announce Wednesday that the government will no longer threaten criminal prosecution of families of U.S. hostages held by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State if they attempt to pay ransom.

The reversal is intended to fix what the administration believes is a broken policy on American hostages, a senior administration official told The New York Times.

Mr. Obama plans to issue an executive order to make clear that, although he isn’t changing federal policy against making concessions with hostage-takers, the government can communicate and negotiate with captors holding Americans or help family members trying to gain the safe return of loved ones, the paper reported.



Obama extending amnesty to illegals in prisons, jails

The Obama administration has ordered agents to begin ignoring many of the illegal immigrants they encounter in local prisons and jails, as the president begins to implement a lesser-known part of his deportation amnesty program — a move that’s not sitting well with either side in the immigration debate.

The move is a nod to sanctuary cities, who had begun to refuse to cooperate with federal authorities on immigration enforcement. After having court challenges, Mr. Obama bowed to those cities, counties and states and announced the changes as part of his November 2014 amnesty policy.



Trump Surges in Popularity in N.H.


He’s dismissed by the political professionals, but there is no denying that the appetite for Donald Trump among Republican primary voters is real.

The New York developer and reality television star is second among 2016 presidential candidates in a new Suffolk University poll of New Hampshire Republicans – behind only former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The poll of 500 likely GOP presidential primary voters found 14% back Mr. Bush. Mr. Trump is right behind at 11%. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio come next, with 8% and 7%, respectively. The poll tested 19 GOP candidates – a rare survey that included ultra-longshots like Mark Everson and former Govs. Bob Ehrlich and Jim Gilmore.



Letting no tragedy to to waste

The funeral processions to the graveyards in Charleston will be crowded unless the families can keep out the interlopers, exploiters and other cheap opportunists. The easy riders have hitched up their hobbyhorses for the big parade.

Some of the long riders want to shoot down the Confederate flag. Others have oiled their long rifles for the promised cavalry charge against the National Rifle Association. Even the Arabs, who have never distinguished themselves on a battlefield, want to join the mob to avenge murder of Christians at Charleston.

The soldiers of CAIR, the loudest Muslim lobbying organization, joins the crusade to tear down the Confederate flag wherever they find it, as “a fitting memorial to those slain in one of America’s deadliest acts of racist violence.” CAIR needs help with American history. Massacre at the World Trade Center, where more than 3,000 Americans were slain for the sin of being Christians, Jews and unbelievers, set the standard for massacre. Punks and crazies eager to get their names in the Guinness Book of Records will be shooting at 9/ll for decades to come.



Obama's coming epidemic of drugs

When he assumed office in 2009, President Obama inherited a drug policy success of unprecedented dimensions. Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and misused opiate prescriptions were all under control or declining. The drug threat, especially for youth, was substantially smaller. That tide of achievement is now reversing.

At the end of the Bush years, youth use of marijuana had declined 25 percent, aided by an effective national media campaign. Youth use of cocaine and heroin had also declined, while psychedelics had plummeted even further, as Ecstasy and LSD collapsed. These achievements, measured by surveys, were corroborated by nationwide workforce drug testing, where rates of positives were in decline.

Nationally, prescription opiate misuse peaked in 2006, and the Combat Methamphetamine Act of 2005 resulted in steep declines in not only meth use but in the number of toxic labs that produced it.



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.