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dkf

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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 37,305

Journal Archives

So is it the Administration's stance that they thought Benghazi was a terrorist attack from day 2?

Well I hope the record stands up to scrutiny.

State Department official: Negotiations to extend U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan starting soon

Despite statements by Vice President Joe Biden, the State Department is about to begin formal negotiations over the extension of U.S. troops past 2014, a top State Department official said Tuesday.

Last week, U.S. and Afghan negotiators met in Kabul to talk about the Bilateral Security Agreement that will govern the extension of U.S. troops past 2014, when President Barack Obama said the combat mission in Afghanistan will end and the U.S. will complete the transition of the entire country to Afghan government control.

Marc Grossman, the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, explained today that's not the whole story.

Grossman said Tuesday that the point of the upcoming negotiations is to agree on an extension of the U.S. troop presence well past 2014, for the purposes of conducting counterterrorism operations and training and advising the Afghan security forces.

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/16/state_department_official_negotiations_to_extend_us_troop_presence_in_afghanistan_s

CNN: Clinton takes responsibility for Benghazi attack.

Clinton: 'I take responsibility' for Benghazi
From Elise Labott, reporting from Lima, Peru

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the bucks stops with her when it comes to who is blame for a deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

"I take responsibility" for what happened on September 11, Clinton said in an interview with CNN's Elise Labott soon after arriving in Lima, Peru for a visit. The interview, one of a series given to U.S. television networks Monday night, were the first she has given about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Clinton insisted President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not involved in security decisions, Clinton said.

"I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha," she added, noting that it is close to the election.

http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/15/clinton-i-take-responsibility-for-benghazi/

Lol fakey poll sponsored by Citizens United...Akin takes lead.

Akin takes the lead in Missouri in new poll

A Republican polling firm has GOP Rep. Todd Akin up by four points over Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill in their hard-fought Missouri Senate race.

Mr. Akin led his opponent 49 percent to 45 percent in a survey conducted for the Citizens United Victory Fund by Wenzel Strategies, one of just two polls to give him the upper hand after his party all but abandoned him in August for his widely condemned comments that victims of "legitimate" rape are unlikely to become pregnant.

That's because Mr. Akin led among independents by a 50 percent to 41 percent margin, according to the pollster. He also appeared to have stronger support from his own party. Eighty-four percent of Republican respondents said they would vote for him, compared to 82 percent of Democrats for Mrs. McCaskill.

http://m.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2012/oct/15/akin-takes-lead-missouri-new-poll/

Some of this polling is so pathetic. Ugh.

EU Tightens Iran Sanctions in Bid for Deal on Atomic Program

The European Union tightened sanctions on Iran in a bid to persuade Tehran to permit more international scrutiny of its nuclear program and avert a possible military conflict.

EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg today approved extra curbs on trade with Iran and on its finance, energy and transport industries following an oil embargo and a central-bank asset freeze earlier this year. The ministers also froze the assets of 34 Iranian entities to hinder the Iranian government’s ability to raise funds for its atomic program, which the U.S. and EU say is aimed at producing weapons.

The new measures, which complement U.S. restrictions and are meant to close loopholes in existing European sanctions, come after global talks on Iranian atomic activities yielded little progress in recent months and the Israeli government warned of a growing threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. The Islamic republic says its atomic program is for civilian purposes.
“The EU’s message today is clear: Iran should not underestimate our resolve,” U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said in an e-mailed statement. “We will continue to do all we can to increase the peaceful pressure on Iran to change course and to return to talks ready to reach a negotiated solution by addressing the world’s concerns.”

http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-15/eu-tightens-iran-sanctions-in-bid-for-accord-on-nuclear-program.html

Retail Sales in U.S. Climbed More Than Forecast in September

Retail sales in the U.S. rose more than projected in September, reflecting broad-based gains that indicate household spending helped bolster economic growth last quarter.

The 1.1 percent advance followed a revised 1.2 percent increase in August that was the biggest since October 2010 and larger than previously reported, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 77 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.8 percent rise.

http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-15/retail-sales-in-u-s-increased-more-than-forecast-in-september.html

The Mystery of Benghazi

TWENTY-FOUR hours after the American compound in Benghazi was attacked and our ambassador murdered, the tragedy seemed more likely to help President Obama’s re-election campaign than to damage it.

The White House already enjoyed more public credibility on foreign policy than on almost any other issue. When Mitt Romney reacted to the attack with a partisan broadside, portraying a news release sent out by the Cairo embassy before any violence began as a White House apology to the attackers, the president’s path forward seemed clear. He would be disciplined and careful, show anger and steel but also coolness under pressure, and let the rally-round-the-flag effect do its natural work.

What happened instead was very strange. Having first repudiated the embassy’s apology to Muslims offended by a movie impugning their prophet, the Obama administration decided to embrace that apology’s premise, and insist that the movie was the crucial ingredient in the Sept. 11 anniversary violence.
--
In a long profile of President Obama published last month by Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis suggested that the president feared the consequences of even a single casualty during the Libyan incursion, lest it create a narrative about how “a president elected to extract us from a war in one Arab country got Americans killed in another.”

How much more, then, might the president fear a narrative about how our Libyan intervention helped create a power vacuum in which terrorists groups can operate with impunity? That’s clearly happened in nearby Mali, where the ripple effects from Muammar el-Qaddafi’s overthrow have helped empower a Qaeda affiliate. In this context, it’s easy to see why the administration would hope that the Benghazi attack were just spontaneous mob violence rather than a sign of Al Qaeda’s growing presence in postintervention Libya as well.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opinion/sunday/douthat-the-mystery-of-benghazi.html?ref=opinion

Before big meetings the president is given a kind of road map, a list of who will be at the meeting and what they might be called on to contribute. The point of this particular meeting was for the people who knew something about Libya to describe what they thought Qad­da­fi might do, and then for the Pentagon to give the president his military options. “The intelligence was very abstract,” says one witness. “Obama started asking questions about it. ‘What happens to the people in these cities when the cities fall? When you say Qaddafi takes a town, what happens?’” It didn’t take long to get the picture: if they did nothing they’d be looking at a horrific scenario, with tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people slaughtered. (Qaddafi himself had given a speech on February 22, saying he planned to “cleanse Libya, house by house.”) The Pentagon then presented the president with two options: establish a no-fly zone or do nothing at all. The idea was that the people in the meeting would debate the merits of each, but Obama surprised the room by rejecting the premise of the meeting. “He instantly went off the road map,” recalls one eyewitness. “He asked, ‘Would a no-fly zone do anything to stop the scenario we just heard?’” After it became clear that it would not, Obama said, “I want to hear from some of the other folks in the room.”

Obama then proceeded to call on every single person for his views, including the most junior people. “What was a little unusual,” Obama admits, “is that I went to people who were not at the table. Because I am trying to get an argument that is not being made.” The argument he had wanted to hear was the case for a more nuanced intervention—and a detailing of the more subtle costs to American interests of allowing the mass slaughter of Libyan civilians. His desire to hear the case raises the obvious question: Why didn’t he just make it himself? “It’s the Heisenberg principle,” he says. “Me asking the question changes the answer. And it also protects my decision-­making.” But it’s more than that. His desire to hear out junior people is a warm personality trait as much as a cool tactic, of a piece with his desire to play golf with White House cooks rather than with C.E.O.’s and basketball with people who treat him as just another player on the court; to stay home and read a book rather than go to a Washington cocktail party; and to seek out, in any crowd, not the beautiful people but the old people. The man has his stat­us needs, but they are unusual. And he has a tendency, an unthinking first step, to subvert established stat­us structures. After all, he became president.

Asked if he was surprised that the Pentagon had not presented him with the option to prevent Qaddafi from destroying a city twice the size of New Orleans and killing everyone inside the place, Obama says simply, “No.” Asked why he was not surprised—if I were president I would have been—he adds, “Because it’s a hard problem. What the process is going to do is try to lead you to a binary decision. Here are the pros and cons of going in. Here are the pros and cons of not going in. The process pushes towards black or white answers; it’s less good with shades of gray. Partly because the instinct among the participants was that … ” Here he pauses and decides he doesn’t want to criticize anyone personally. “We were engaged in Afghanistan. We still had equity in Iraq. Our assets are strained. The participants are asking a question: Is there a core national-security issue at stake? As opposed to calibrating our national-­security interests in some new way.”

The people who operate the machinery have their own ideas of what the president should decide, and their advice is pitched accordingly. Gates and Mullen didn’t see how core American security interests were at stake; Biden and Daley thought that getting involved in Libya was, politically, nothing but downside. “The funny thing is the system worked,” says one person who witnessed the meeting. “Everyone was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing. Gates was right to insist that we had no core national-security issue. Biden was right to say it was politically stupid. He’d be putting his presidency on the line.”

http://m.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/10/michael-lewis-profile-barack-obama

Young voters crave intelligent discussion about entitlements

Already disproportionately suffering from a weak economy, young Americans say they're not counting on post-retirement government help. And they are not surprised that the debate over the programs is being driven largely by older people who wouldn't suffer under the most serious proposals under consideration anyway.

If politicians did listen, they might be surprised: Recent survey data indicate that Americans ages 18-29, despite being overwhelmingly liberal, support some conservative ideas for changing the structure of entitlement programs.

Roughly 86 percent of them favor allowing workers to put their Social Security taxes into a private account, as some Republicans have proposed, according to a November 2011 survey by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center. That's much more than the 52 percent of seniors who support the idea.

The Pew "Generation Gap and the 2012 election" study also found that 74 percent of millennials support allowing Medicare participants to "use benefits toward purchasing private insurance," another GOP idea, which got backing from just 48 percent of those 65 and older.

http://seattletimes.com/html/politics/2019426427_youngvoters14m.html


I feel very sorry for Ohio residents

At the same time, Romney's campaign and allied "super PACs" have begun pouring money into Ohio's already-saturated airwaves. Four Ohio media markets were among the nation's top 15 for political ads in September; Obama had the advantage in each one, according to data analyzed by the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks campaign advertising.

Last week, Romney and his allies drew even. Sources familiar with the ad buys said the Republican campaign doubled its purchases of time going into this weekend, and Democrats expect to be significantly outpaced in coming days.

That's bad news for the state's beleaguered voters. In addition to the constant ads, "every other phone call during the day is politics," sighed Julie Ruskin, an Obama supporter from Symmes Township, another northern Cincinnati suburb.

The ads on both sides mix general campaign themes — jobs and the economy, Medicaid, taxes — with state-specific appeals. Romney has wooed voters in eastern Ohio coal country with attacks on Obama's environmental policies; Obama fired back with an ad featuring miners who say their bosses pressured them to attend a Romney rally. In recent days, Romney also has charged that the administration's defense policies would cost jobs at a General Dynamics tank plant in Lima.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-ohio-presidential-20121014,0,18510,print.story

Expect small Social Security benefit increase in 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Social Security recipients shouldn't expect a big increase in monthly benefits come January.

Preliminary figures show the annual benefit boost will be between 1 percent and 2 percent, which would be among the lowest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. Monthly benefits for retired workers now average $1,237, meaning the typical retiree can expect a raise of between $12 and $24 a month.

The size of the increase will be made official Tuesday, when the government releases inflation figures for September. The announcement is unlikely to please a big group of voters -- 56 million people get benefits -- just three weeks before elections for president and Congress.



Some of next year's raise could be wiped out by higher Medicare premiums, which are deducted from Social Security payments. The Medicare Part B premium, which covers doctor visits, is expected to rise by about $7 per month for 2013, according to government projections.


http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_21771340/expect-small-social-security-benefit-increase-2013
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