Thursday, May 16, 2013

Old Jarhead's Political SitRep for May 17, 2013

Old Jarhead's Political SitRep for May 17, 2013
Robert A. Hall
Your one-stop-shop for political news and opinion--who needs newspapers or TV? Please forward to friends who need to be informed. This SitRep (Military for “Situation Report”) is created by many readers who send me items for inclusion, which I would have likely missed or skipped. And I can only spend at most three hours a night pulling stuff, plus the healthcare or economic stuff that crosses my desk at work. As always, I—and you—owe them thanks and appreciation. I post articles because I think they are of interest and will stimulate thought and discussion. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article, or that I was able to verify the information presented, which is the responsibility of the author. I try not to post things that are false, or too far a stretch, regardless of the view point, but I don’t always succeed. As always on the Net, or in the legacy media, you must read critically and with skepticism.

Eddie Grabowski's Gift: A Marine Christmas Story
Eddie Grabowski’s Gift is a short novella, with an old Marine’s lessons on life, love and giving. All author royalties are donated to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation to support the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The MCHF receives a larger royalty when you order directly from

Excellent Satire: IRS-gate goes to the top. By Matt Miller

Second IRS official to leave amid tea party scandal
Excerpt: As second top Internal Revenue Service official has announced plans to leave the agency amid the controversy over the targeting of tea party groups.
Obama struggles to get beyond a scandal trifecta
Excerpt: The most corrosive political scandals are the ones that feed a pre­existing story line — which is why the White House could have difficulty putting the current ones behind it any time soon. In the view of President Obama’s adversaries, recent revelations add evidence to arguments that they have been making about the president all along: that he would do or say whatever it took to get reelected; that his is a philosophy of rampant, invasive big government; that he has not acted within the constraints of the Constitution; that he regards those who oppose him with contempt. (Anyone surprised by the scandals must not know that Obama is a Chicago Way politician, nurtured in the bosom of the corrupt Democrat machine. ~Bob.)

Republicans have been given a political gift. Here’s how they can (still) screw it up. By Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan
Excerpt: And yet, there are real concerns within the Republican establishment that members of their party won’t look before they leap when it comes to the right strategic path forward, taking a major political opportunity and blowing it, à la the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. (I think the GOP is likely to blow the advantage these expected scandals give them, as they did with Clinton, turning his perjury into a plus for him. In poker, you overplay and average hand, but you under play a great hand. They can’t seem to learn. ~Bob.)

Dear Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
I need a grant to help me pay the bills while I work on my next book: Omnipotent to Impotent; The Fall Of Barack Obama. –Tom H. (Counteth not thy foul before same are hatched. ~Bob.)

Eric Holder’s abdication. By Dana Milbank
Suddenly, even leftists have problems. ~Bob. Excerpt: As the nation’s top law enforcement official, Eric Holder is privy to all kinds of sensitive information. But he seems to be proud of how little he knows. Why didn’t his Justice Department inform the Associated Press, as the law requires, before pawing through reporters’ phone records?

Excerpt: The White House took a series of steps Wednesday to make up with the Washington press corps. The wooing took several shapes and followed a disastrous press briefing on Tuesday at which White House press secretary Jay Carney was torn apart over the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records.
IRS scandal: First head rolls
Excerpt: Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Steven Miller resigned on Wednesday over his role in the agency’s controversial singling out of conservative groups. President Obama announced the resignation — which Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked for earlier in the day — at the White House. (I wonder if he was made promises or threats to keep him silent. Hard to believe political moves started with a bureaucrat. ~Bob.)

Surprise: Embattled IRS official Lois Lerner’s husband’s law firm has strong Obama connections
Excerpt: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official who apologized for targeting conservative nonprofit groups for extra scrutiny is married to an attorney whose firm hosted a voter registration organizing event for the 2012 Obama re-election campaign, praised President Obama’s policy work, and had one of its partners appointed by Obama to a key ambassadorship. (Gee, who would have guessed? ~Bob.)

IRS exec got $42k in bonuses in three years. By Mark Tapscott
Excerpt: Lois Lerner, the senior executive in charge of the IRS tax exemption department and the federal employee at the center of the exploding scandal over the IRS targeting of conservative, evangelical and pro-Israel non-profits, was given $42,531 in bonuses between 2009 and 2011.

Excerpt: The director of the Internal Revenue Service division under fire for singling out conservative groups sent a 2012 letter under her name to one such group, POLITICO has learned. The March 2012 letter was sent to the Ohio-based American Patriots Against Government Excess (American PAGE) under the name of Lois Lerner, the director of the Exempt Organizations Division.

Conservative group says IRS approved nonprofit status after applying with ‘liberal-sounding name’
Excerpt: When September 2012 arrived with still no word from the IRS, Ryun determined that Media Trackers would likely never obtain standalone nonprofit status, and he tried a new approach: He applied for permanent nonprofit status for a separate group called Greenhouse Solutions, a pre-existing organization that was reaching the end of its determination period. The IRS approved Greenhouse Solutions' request for permanent nonprofit status in three weeks.

Ouster of IRS official isn't ending investigations
Excerpt: Three congressional committees are investigating, and the FBI is looking into potential civil rights violations at the IRS, Attorney General Eric Holder said. Other potential crimes include making false statements to authorities and violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in some partisan political activities, Holder said. (Let me get this straight: The acting IRS commissioner who was in charge when the agency admitted its wrongdoing has resigned, but will keep his pension and there's no sign he will face criminal charges . . . and this is accountability? -- Jim Geraghty. Well, if they take his pension or charge him with criminal conduct, he might start to sign like a canary! ~Bob.)

IRS Employees Disproportionately Donate to Obama: Statistics reveal an imbalance in a nominally nonpartisan agency. By Andrew Stiles
Excerpt: President Barack Obama received more than twice as much in campaign donations from IRS employees in 2012 as did his opponent, Mitt Romney, records show. (Guess they were hedging their bets. ~Bob.)

Play of the Day: A Bad Week for the White House
Excerpt: The Obama administration scandals are too much for hosts. With scandals bubbling up all around Barack Obama’s White House, late-night comedy is taking note. The Tonight Show’s Jay Leno enumerated the scandals, even calling the IRS audit the White House’s “high-tech weapon” in a joke. (Funniest stuff I have heard since 2008. --Don Hank)

Road Trip! President Obama tries to stop the bleeding
Excerpt: Obama’s top staff spent much of early Wednesday locked behind closed doors figuring out the best way to move ahead — without causing any new headaches — on all three fronts. (When things went bad in the movie Animal House, the Deltas had a solution: “Hoover: Christ. This is ridiculous. What are we going to do? Otter & Boon: Road trip.” Watch for another Obama Road Trip to divert attention. ~Bob.)
Worth Reading: Obama’s Second-Term Embarrassments: “Hope and change” is looking more like the 1973 Nixon White House. By Victor Davis Hanson
Excerpt: In Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, he ran to the left of Hillary Clinton as a moral reformer. Obama promised to transcend the old politics and bring a new era of hope-and-change transparency to Washington. Five years later, those vows are in shambles.

You Just Heard Your Name on the Evening News. In a Scandal! WTF Do You Do? By Michael Ledeen
Excerpt: So you’re angry and hurt, but not really worried. After all, it’s easy to see you haven’t done anything wrong, and there’s not the slightest hint of evidence against you. So you’re actually relieved when your department’s inspector general asks if she can drop by for a chat. (…) Wrong! Don’t be relieved. Be frightened. (This also applies in business, end-of-marriage, and many other human contact activities. Sometimes, you simply can’t get a lawyer (how could you explain that to your boss if you’ve done nothing wrong?), or can’t have your lawyer present during the actual interrogation. Most times, you can’t even avoid being questioned. “Tell the truth, but volunteer nothing other than context” is the best advice I’ve ever gotten. Ron P.)

Benghazi and the IRS: Politics by Other Means: Misleading voters about Benghazi worked. Did the IRS’s misdeeds help Team O, too? By Michael Barone
Excerpt: What do the Benghazi cover-up and the IRS scandal have in common? They were both about winning elections under false pretenses. Winning elections, after all, is something Barack Obama is good at.

Excerpt: We held that story until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed. ….The White House had said there was no credible threat to the American people in May of 2012. The AP story suggested otherwise, and we felt that was important information and the public deserved to know it.

AP Challenges Carney: Doesn't Responsibility Rest With President Obama?
Excerpt: The reporter trudged on. "But it's the president's administration. So I wonder, doesn't the responsibility for setting tone and setting direction ultimately rest with the president on these matters?" (In my humble opinion, President Barack Obama learned his Management Style at Harvard Law School – and really hadn’t had any executive experience after that, until he became POTUS. –DHS)

Israel Hints at New Strikes, Warning Syria Not to Hit Back
Excerpt: In a clear warning to Syria to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to Islamic militants in the region, a senior Israeli official signaled on Wednesday that Israel was considering additional military strikes to prevent that from happening and that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, would face crippling consequences if he retaliated.

Baghdad market attacks, shootings in north kill 17
Didn’t get the memo. ~Bob

Nigerian troops on new offensive against Islamists
Excerpt: Nigeria launched a military campaign on Wednesday to flush Islamist militants out of their bases in remote border areas, after President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the northeast. Nigerian troops deployed in large numbers, part of a plan to rout an insurgency by the Boko Haram Islamist group that has seized control of parts of the region.

Eric Holder hints Yemenis held at Guantánamo may be released: Attorney general suggests a number detainees could be sent back to Yemen as Obama attempts to fulfill promise to close camp
The US attorney general Eric Holder hinted on Wednesday that the Obama administration may be planning to act on Yemeni prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay. The release of the Yemenis back to their home country would make a big dent in the overall number of Guantánamo detainees. …Of the estimated 166 detainees left at Guantánamo, an estimated 91 are Yemenis, and many of these have been cleared for release. (If they kill Americans, the families should have a legal clam against him and the DOJ. ~Bob.)

Mayan pyramid in Belize destroyed for road gravel - video
Excerpt: A construction company in Belize bulldozes one of the country's largest ancient Mayan pyramids to extract gravel for a road project. The 2,300-year-old pyramid, which was a sacred ceremonial ground for the Mayans, stands 100ft tall.

Article Alleges Hamas Money Laundering
Excerpt: Hamas has several business fronts operating in Saudi Arabia and Sudan which launder money for the terrorist group, the Arab News claimed in a report Wednesday. The report claims "high-level Gulf sources" confirmed a previous story in Kuwait's al Seyassah about the illicit activity.

Now Justice Department is accused of monitoring lawmakers in House of Representatives CLOAK ROOM
Excerpt: The Justice Department's use of wiretapping has apparently not stopped with journalists, as one lawmaker has accused the agency of keeping tabs of elected officials where they relax. Republican Rep Devin Nunes of California claimed during a radio interview last night that the agency has monitored calls out of the U.S. Congress Republican cloak room - a hangout for members of party on Capitol Hill.

During Rose Garden press conference, Obama refuses to apologize for secretly seizing AP phone records, shifts blame to Congress for Benghazi security lapses, and dodges question about White House IRS knowledge
President Barack Obama dodged questions Thursday about the IRS's targeting of conservative groups, shifted responsibility for the Benghazi attack to Congress, and said 'I offer no apologies' for the Department of Justice's secret seizure of reporter's phone records in search of a classified intelligence leak. In a rain-soaked Rose Garden press conference originally intended to be a victory lap for the United States' relationship with Turkey, Obama stood alongside Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and fielded questions which quickly shifted to the trio of scandals that are engulfing his administration.

Excerpt: Pardon this smirk on my face but I'm having quite the time reading about the liberal main stream media's recent "Obama Scandal Lashing". The wider smile is for Middle America and Conservatives who are glowing in the aftermath of "I told you so", as they see the liberal media jump into the fray and pronounce intense indignation at all of Obama's Chicago like thuggery; the Benghazi cover-ups, the Attorney General's attack on states who tried to assure clean elections by requiring voter I.D., the IRS' role in squashing conservative groups who sought political organization status in order to have their voice heard during the election year, and lastly, Obama's own Attorney General secretly invading the personal files of the Associated Press, in violation of the 1st Amendment!

Worth Reading: It’s Official: Federal Debt Will Never Be Paid. By Mark Hendrickson 
Excerpt: Estimates of total federal indebtedness vary according to the time frame one adopts and various assumptions about the future, but whether the actual figure is nearer $75 trillion of $221 trillion (economist Laurence Kotlikoff’s tally) the true federal debt is multiples of our GNP—an incomprehensibly high figure that can never be paid in full. Contrary to Democratic protestations, our debt problem is essentially a spending problem. Look at this graph from the Federal Reserve:

Why Islam Leads to Violence. By Jack Kerwick 
Excerpt: Despite these fundamental similarities, it is the followers of Islam alone that have never stopped slaughtering in the name of their God. Why? To answer this, I think that we must shift focus from the substance or content of Islamic theology and toward its form or style.

Skynet on the Potomac. By John Hayward 
Excerpt: Obama’s favorite henchman, David Axelrod, deployed the famed Incompetence Defense on behalf of the embattled President during an MSNBC appearance on Wednesday. That’s the hot new line from Obama apologists: he’s so incredibly inept that he can’t be held responsible for anything his Administration does. He golfs, he raises money, he takes a lot of vacations… there’s not much time left over for management. He learns about the crazy misadventures of his subordinates by watching TV news, like the rest of us.

Government’s heavy hand felt in IRS, AP scandals
Excerpt: If there is any thread that unites these scandals, it is government heavy-handedness. …Seizing the phone records of perhaps 100 is a fishing expedition and a form of intimidation. “They’re sending a clear message to our sources,” says National Journal’s Ron Fournier. “Don’t embarrass the administration or we’re coming after you.”

Excerpt: While the debate over immigration reform appears to have taken a backseat in the public’s consciousness with the number of White House controversies suddenly swirling around, it hasn’t escaped the attention of congressional conservatives who aim to kill it. The Senate Judiciary Committee has completed two mark-up sessions on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act with a third scheduled for Thursday.

Excerpt: The attorney general claims he was recused from the case because he was “a possessor of the information that was ultimately leaked.” ….Holder later called the AP scandal “both an ongoing matter and ongoing matter about which I know nothing.” He also quickly said he “certainly did not alert the White House” about the subpoenas.

Excerpt: I visited the Soviet Union twice back in the eighties. …Funnily enough, most of them would eventually take me aside and ask me if I could help them get out of there. …At the end of both of my trips of about two weeks each, I desperately wanted to get the Hell out myself. I hated the place. The Soviet Union was like one giant jail. (Writer comments, “What we have now discovered about Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s America, if we didn’t already know it, is that any belief in a benign and decent government in this country is absolute horseshit.” –Barb)

Obama Lectures Congress On ‘Partisan Agendas’ As IRS Scandal Deepens
Excerpt: A day after the Inspector General released an audit that found the IRS inappropriately targeted Tea Party and conservative groups, President Barack Obama on Wednesday again lectured Congress on bipartisanship, warning members of Congress that their actions in the coming days should not "smack of politics or partisan agendas." In a brief statement in the East Room of the White House, Obama also announced that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew requested--and accepted--the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller. (Reports indicate Miller to step down at end of June, so no biggie per MSM. –Barb)

Congressman: Holder May Have Broken Law In AP Scandal
Excerpt: Attorney General Eric Holder may have violated federal law when he did not put his recusal from the secret Associated Press phone records seizure case in writing, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) suggested during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. Labrador then cited federal law, specifically 28 USC § 591, and noted that it requires the Attorney General to put a recusal in writing in “certain circumstances.” Holder answered that he would consider putting recusals in writing in the future.

Excerpt: In the final days of December 2012, President Barack Obama signed the renewal of the federal government’s warrantless surveillance program under FISA, following a contentious battle in the Senate for the program’s reauthorization. The Justice Department is currently under fire from a May 11 report by The Associated Press that accuses the DOJ of engaging in an unprecedented infringement of press freedom in the U.S. 

Excerpt: The Benghazi-related emails released by the White House late May 15 exclude the critical emails between administration officials that were sent during the crucial the first two days after the deadly jihadi attack that killed four Americans last September. The 100 pages of partially redacted emails also conclude with a dismissive message from CIA chief David Petraeus. “Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this,” Petraeus said about the heavily edited, four-sentence “talking points” that the White House used to downplay Al Qaeda’s role in the Sep. 11 attack on the poorly protected diplomatic compound.

Confirmed: Kathleen Sebelius is an IPAB of one. By Conn Carroll
Excerpt: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has the unilateral power under Obamacare to set Medicare price controls should the Independent Payment Advisory Board fail to submit its own proposal, a Congressional Research Service memo confirms.

Chris Matthews sours on Obama. By Dylan Byers
Excerpt: President Obama "obviously likes giving speeches more than he does running the executive branch," Chris Matthews said tonight. Yes, you read that right: The MSNBC host who in 2008 felt a "thrill going up my leg" after hearing Obama speak has grown disenchanted. Tonight's episode of Hardball saw Matthews delivering a rare, unforgiving grilling of the president as severe as anything that might appear on Fox News. (Matthews is a slow learner. I was way ahead of this in 2008. ~Bob.)

Excerpt: Danny Werfel, the Deputy Director of Office of Management and Budget, will be named director of the Internal Revenue Service, sources tell The Hill.

Meet Florida Conservatives Targeted by Obama's IRS
Excerpt: Several Florida activists claim they or their organizations are victims of the IRS' gone-wild, anti-conservative harassment campaign -- citing everything from individual audits to being burdened with probing, invasive questionnaires and being forced to disclose political beliefs, even seeing unpublished web pages unearthed. 

Justice Dept. faulted over terrorist identities
Excerpt: The government has allowed terrorists into America's witness protection program and has failed to provide the names of some of them for the watch list that's used to keep dangerous people off airline flights, the Justice Department's inspector general says. As a result of the department's failure to share information with the Terrorist Screening Center, some in the witness protection program who were on a "no-fly" list were allowed to travel on commercial flights, the department's watchdog said. (...) The department declined to say how many people in the program actually flew. (This proves it is entirely possible to scream with rage while howling with laughter. Can we giggle while shooting the incompetent bastards responsible for this? Ron P.)

Reject myth of guerrilla fighter's invincibility
Excerpt: Contrary to popular notions, the guerrilla warrior or insurgent has been defeated often in modern warfare and feels deeply the sting of American power, the fear of American military determination, and the resolve of a united home front. In the post-World War II era, U.S. and allied forces bested guerrilla bands in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, to name just the ones in East Asia. It could be the same in Afghanistan. (You can see here a really nice example of the input of Dr. Martin Catino, one of the guys coming up who we can hope will carry on the mission when we are gone. And I don't think I've seen anyone address this topic the way he has, something which really is long overdue. When Zumwalt put out a book titled "Bare Feet, Iron Will" it drove me crazy. Again the myth that somehow the US military were defeated by a bunch of barefoot peasants with old weapons. And he should have known much better than that. It's that damn Narrative again, that is the enemy we face, and it's like Jack's beanstalk, just grown up to the sky, casting its shadow over everything else. Like the truth. --Del)

Excerpt: The IRS may not be the only federal agency singling out conservative groups. Records suggest that the Environmental Protection Agency has made it easier for environmental groups to file Freedom of Information Act requests than conservative organizations.

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