Wednesday March 18, 2015

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World & National     

Rahm Emanuel Needs Republican Help
Obama’s former tough-talking chief of staff has been humbled, and he’s desperate for support, wherever he can find it, in his reelection campaign.
                   
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is about as partisan a Democrat as there is in this country. But to win a second term and avoid a humiliating defeat, he'll need to win over and turn out the small number of Republicans in the city.

Emanuel isn't openly telegraphing his runoff strategy, but signs of his reliance on the party he has worked to oppose his whole career are everywhere. Gov. Bruce Rauner, a longtime acquaintance of the mayor's, has been working behind the scenes to help his friend, while GOP Sen. Mark Kirk warned this month that Chicago could become like Detroit if Emanuel isn't reelected. Rahm's most recent ad comes straight out of the Mitt Romney playbook, accusing his outspokenly liberal opponent, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, of wanting to hike Chicagoans' taxes by supporting $1.9 billion in spending programs. Several of the top donors to Emanuel's Chicago Forward super PAC are conservative Republicans, including hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin, a top Romney supporter and a Crossroads contributor, and investor Muneer Satter, who spent more than $1 million over the past few years on behalf of top Republican candidates and is backing Jeb Bush's campaign for president.



Trump to launch exploratory committee

                 

Donald Trump is set to launch a presidential exploratory committee Wednesday, a day before he returns to the early voting state of New Hampshire, according to a pair of reports.

Trump will not renew his NBC contract for the "Apprentice" reality TV series, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported late Tuesday, citing an unidentified senior adviser. WMUR confirmed the news Tuesday.

In a statement obtained by the Union Leader announcing the committee, Trump mentions politicians who are "all talk and no action," points to his own business record and casts himself as "the only one who can make America truly great again!"



US sets new recrod for denying, censoring government files

The Obama administration set a new record again for more often than ever censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn't find documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.



Netanyahu hails 'a great victory for our people,'
PM promises to build ‘national camp’ coalition as quickly as possible; Zionist Union not admitting defeat; TV exit polls show Likud well-placed to build coalition; 71.8% turnout highest since 1999

TV exit polls Tuesday night showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud set to retain the Israeli leadership at the end of a bitter election campaign. Netanyahu claimed victory early Wednesday morning, though his rival Isaac Herzog did not concede defeat.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and Israeli citizens headed for the ballots to vote for Israel’s 20th Knesset. Polls from the end of last week had left options open for a tight race. The TV exit polls were published at 10 p.m., as polling stations closed, after which official results began to roll in. The official final results won’t be publicized until Thursday.
White House Avoids Congratuatling BiBi
Netanyahu Sweeping Victory
Wasn't Even Close
Hard Right Shift Delivers Election to Netanyahu


Shocking number of Dems pressure Warren to take on Hillary
                Illustration on Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren        The Washington Times

More than two dozen Democratic power brokers in a key early primary state are pleading with Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for the Democratic presidential nomination against scandal-scarred Hillary Clinton.

Twenty-seven current and former state lawmakers in New Hampshire have signed onto a letter urging Sen. Warren of Massachusetts to run for president, calling Ms. Warren a “fighter for middle class and working families” and that contested primaries ensure progressives have a chance to make their voices heard.

“We need leaders who aren’t afraid to tell the truth, and fight back — no matter what powerful interests say — and we need all the candidates in the primary to offer a bold vision for an economy that works for all Americans,” the letter reads. “Contested primaries test and strengthen candidates and ensure progressives have a chance to make our voices heard. Having a real debate is what democracy is all about.”



Militants kill 8 in attack on major Tunisian museum, take hostages

Militants shot and killed at least eight people at a leading museum in Tunisia Wednesday and have taken several more people hostage, the country’s interior ministry said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said on Radio Mosaique that only one of the dead in Wednesday's attack was a Tunisian. He did not provide nationalities for the others. Poland's Foreign Ministry announced that three Poles were among the wounded.

Security forces filled the area around the National Bardo Museum in Tunis after the attack. Tunisia's parliament building, near the museum, was being evacuated, according to a tweet by parliament member Sayida Ounissi.



GOP budget repeals Obamacare, cuts $5.5 trillion

House Republicans unveiled a 2016 budget Tuesday that would cut $5.5 trillion from spending over the next 10 years, repeal Obamacare and change Medicare into a voucherlike system — key parts of a fiscally punishing blueprint designed to end red ink in less than a decade.

Budget watchdog groups praised the deficit-cutting goal but warned the GOP is using gimmicks and politically impossible cuts to get there. Democrats insisted they’ll do everything they can to stop the budget, arguing it cuts too deep, taxes too little and hurts the poor who depend on government assistance.

In two key moves, Republicans tried to boost defense spending by shifting money from the regular budget to one-time war costs, and included a plan to permanently patch Medicare, eliminating the need for annual infusions of cash to make sure doctors don’t see their payments cut, which would force them to drop Medicare patients.



EPA 'burning the Constitution' with carbon rules, Harvard scholar says

As President Obama forges ahead in his fight against climate change, a leading Harvard Law School scholar says a central piece of the president’s strategy is akin to “burning the Constitution” merely to advance an environmental agenda.

In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence H. Tribe said the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants is built on a shaky legal foundation. The proposal, Mr. Tribe argues, far exceeds EPA’s authority under federal law and strikes a blow to the 10th Amendment by essentially making states subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters.



Democrats filibuster trafficking bill; GOP to delay Lynch nomination


Senators found a new way to achieve partisan gridlock Tuesday as Democrats filibustered a bipartisan anti-human trafficking bill, and Republicans countered by saying they won’t confirm Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s pick to be the new attorney general, until he convinces his party to drop its blockade.

Democrats say the GOP pulled a fast one by slipping a provision into the human trafficking bill prohibiting federal money from paying for abortions for trafficking victims. Republicans say the language is boilerplate, and say they’ve been stunned by the filibuster on a bill that a dozen Democrats are actually co-sponsoring.



Maryland's gun permit commissioner 'schooled' by Second Amendment advocates

The former commander of the Maryland State Police Licensing Division admitted he was “schooled” by residents seeking concealed carry gun permits.

Jack McCauley, a former state trooper, told legislators he initially thought pro-gun activists and Second Amendment advocates were scary — but quickly changed his mind.

“When I met them, they schooled me,” Mr. McCauley said.

“They not only schooled me — they embarrassed me. They humbled me. I was wrong. I was completely wrong.”



The Lee-Rubio tax blueprint

Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida have released a blueprint for federal tax reform called “The Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Plan.” First, we should not embrace the language of progressive socialism in believing tax reform should have as a goal to advance “family fairness.” The plan should simply be entitled “The American Growth and Opportunity Plan.” That said, the Lee-Rubio plan is a great improvement over the current system.

For the individual tax structure, the plan introduces a two-tier system to replace the current seven tax brackets. This plan moves America from a progressive tax structure to a bifurcated flat tax. All income earned up to $75,000 for singles and $150,000 for joint filers would be taxed at 15 percent. All income earned over those thresholds would be taxed at 35 percent. While a two-tiered system moves us closer to a flat tax, the 35 percent bracket could raise the tax burden for households earning less than $200,000 a year, compared to the current system. A top rate of 22 percent to 25 percent would be less burdensome.



Wanted: A budget cutting president

After Obama, restoring fiscal responsibility should be Job One

The candidate who wins the presidency in 2016 will be the one who vows to wage all-out war on a bloated, inefficient, corrupt government in need of a top-to-bottom, budget-cutting revolution.

Next to an underperforming economy, the problem that concerns most Americans is the government’s $18 trillion debt, fueled by six years of budget deficits saturated in red ink (including four consecutive years of trillion dollar plus deficits), and spending scandals as far as the eye can see.

I think we’ve reached the tipping point when legions of angry voters are ready to rally behind a complete overhaul of government spending practices that calls for the end of waste-ridden, unworkable, needless programs and shrinks total expenditures down to a more manageable, affordable size.



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.