Obama in 2002: Toppling Brutal Dictator a ‘Dumb War’

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama pauses during his speech on America's energy security, in this photo taken Wednesday, March 30, 2011, at McDonough at Gymnasium Georgetown University in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama, as an Illinois state senator in 2002, said that using military force to topple a murderous dictator amounted to a “dumb war” and should be opposed.
The “dumb war” Obama was criticizing was the planned invasion of Iraq and the murderous dictator was its leader, Saddam Hussein. Obama, speaking at an anti-war rally in Chicago on Oct. 2, 2002 said that while Saddam was a brutal tyrant, that was not enough to justify using military force to remove him from power.
“Now, let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein,” said Obama in his speech. “He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied U.N. resolutions, thwarted U.N. inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.”
"... After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again," said Obama. "I don't oppose all wars.  ... What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne."
Obama argued that deposing Saddam militarily was not necessary, because Iraq posed no “direct threat” to the United States. Obama also cited Iraq’s weakened economy and the fact that it was still possible to contain Saddam’s aggression, repudiating the Bush administration’s rationale that Saddam posed too great a threat to American interests and his own people to be left in power.
“But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military is a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history,” said Sen. Obama.
However, as president of the United States, Obama has discounted those same arguments he once made against using military force against brutal dictators.
In his March 28, 2011 speech justifying his decision to attack the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Obama cited Gadhafi’s record of brutality, saying that allowing Gadhafi to continue his brutality was not an option.
“Qaddafi declared he would show ‘no mercy’ to his own people,” said President Obama.  “He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day.
“Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city,” Obama said. “We knew that if we waited, if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
Gadhafi, apparently unlike Saddam, needed to be stopped because he would kill his own people to maintain his own power, an act that this time posed a threat to America’s “interests and values,” Obama said.
“But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act,” said Obama. “That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.”
Obama, in his 2002 speech, said that instead of deposing Saddam through force, America should “fight” for democratic reforms in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, stronger international nuclear safeguards, and energy independence.
“Those are the battles that we need to fight,” Obama said in 2002. “Those are the battles that we willingly join – the battles against ignorance and intolerance, corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.”
By 2011, however, Obama had come to endorse the use of military power to enforce America’s “responsibility as a [global] leader” arguing that the United States was “different” and therefore had no other choice but to attack Libya.
“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and, more profoundly, our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” he said. “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”

Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret help for Libya rebels

WASHINGTON | Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:16pm EDT
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
Obama signed the order, known as a presidential "finding", within the last two or three weeks, according to government sources familiar with the matter.
Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. This is a necessary legal step before such action can take place but does not mean that it will.
As is common practice for this and all administrations, I am not going to comment on intelligence matters," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement. "I will reiterate what the president said yesterday -- no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya."
The CIA declined comment.
News that Obama had given the authorization surfaced as the President and other U.S. and allied officials spoke openly about the possibility of sending arms supplies to Gaddafi's opponents, who are fighting better-equipped government forces.
The United States is part of a coalition, with NATO members and some Arab states, which is conducting air strikes on Libyan government forces under a U.N. mandate aimed at protecting civilians opposing Gaddafi.
Interviews by U.S. networks on Tuesday, Obama said the objective was for Gaddafi to "ultimately step down" from power. He spoke of applying "steady pressure, not only militarily but also through these other means" to force Gaddafi out.
Obama said the U.S. had not ruled out providing military hardware to rebels. "It's fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could. We're looking at all our options at this point," he told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted to reporters that no decision had yet been taken.
U.S. officials monitoring events in Libya say neither Gaddafi's forces nor the rebels, who have asked the West for heavy weapons, now appear able to make decisive gains.
While U.S. and allied airstrikes have seriously damaged Gaddafi's military forces and disrupted his chain of command, officials say, rebel forces remain disorganized and unable to take full advantage of western military support.
People familiar with U.S. intelligence procedures said that Presidential covert action "findings" are normally crafted to provide broad authorization for a range of potential U.S. government actions to support a particular covert objective.
In order for specific operations to be carried out under the provisions of such a broad authorization -- for example the delivery of cash or weapons to anti-Gaddafi forces -- the White House also would have to give additional "permission" allowing such activities to proceed.

The New York Times Prays to God That Obama Gets Lucky in Libya


RUSH: I hold here, ladies and gentlemen, in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers today's column in the New York Times by Thomas L. Friedman. Can I read to you the last line of this piece? This is hilarious, but that doesn't do it justice.
z"Dear Lord, please make President Obama lucky." That's the last line of the lead foreign policy columnist in the New York Times today, and it's all about please get rid of Khadafy. Khadafy has to go. Please, God, make President Obama lucky. "Which is why, most of all, I hope President Obama is lucky. I hope Khadafy’s regime collapses like a sand castle, that the Libyan opposition turns out to be decent and united and that they require just a bare minimum of international help to get on their feet. Then US prestige will be enhanced and this humanitarian mission will have both saved lives and helped to lock another Arab state into the democratic camp."

Not even his staunchest allies are made comfortable and confident by what Obama's doing. They are praying to God in the New York Times. Do you understand, ladies and gentlemen, the depths to which they have plunged? They are praying to God on the op-ed page of the New York Times, and they are praying for luck for Obama, as though he has no control over the events. Dear God, please let something good happen to him. It's not very inspiring here. We'll get into Khadafy and air forces and NATO and so forth in a minute. There are other things that I want to do here, folks, 'cause we are loaded with things. Even as the program started here I'm trying to still organize what did I want to start with.

For example, UK Daily Mail Online, it's about Trump, the birth certificate controversy. You know, birth certificates are in the news and Trump released a birth certificate. The first one was not official. So he had to release a second birth certificate. Now Mr. Trump's lawyer has defended Trump's New York origins by pointing out there are hospitals named after the Trumps in New York City. The only things named after Obama are in Africa, according to Trump's lawyers. (laughing) The only thing named after Obama -- well, there was a school, but it closed. I don't know that his brother's hut has a name. We've got Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times on the op-ed page praying to God, praying to God-d for luck for Obama. You know what the New York Times thinks of people who pray. You know what the New York Times thinks of people who believe publicly, happily, proudly in God-d. And now the New York Times is asking.

Prepared text of Obama’s address on Libya – March 28

To be completely honest, I have not had time to watch any news at all in the last week or even the president’s address on Libya last night, but I know Jim will be discussing it on the big radio show today. Here is the video and text of the speech -- as it was prepared -- for President Obama.

March 28, 2011 at the National Defense University

Tonight, I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya — what we’ve done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.

I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength. Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved.

Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al-Qaida all across the globe. As commander in chief, I’m grateful to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and to their families. And I know all Americans share in that sentiment.

For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.

Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt — two nations that inspired the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant --Moammar Gadhafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world — including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.

Last month, Gadhafi’s grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. As one Libyan said, “For the first time we finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over.”

Faced with this opposition, Gadhafi began attacking his people. As president, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens, so we evacuated our embassy and all Americans who sought our assistance. Then we took a series of swift steps in a matter of days to answer Gadhafi’s aggression. We froze more than $33 billion of Gadhafi’s regime’s assets. Joining with other nations at the United Nations Security Council, we broadened our sanctions, imposed an arms embargo, and enabled Gadhafi and those around him to be held accountable for their crimes. I made it clear that Gadhafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power.

In the face of the world’s condemnation, Gadhafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people. Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. Water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misrata was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques were destroyed, and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assaults from the air.

Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition and the Arab League appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. And so at my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass a historic resolution that authorized a no-fly zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.

Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Gadhafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.

At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Gadhafi declared he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we wanted — if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.

It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.

We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Gadhafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit Gadhafi’s air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gadhafi’s deadly advance.

In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies — nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey — all of whom have fought by our sides for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibilities to defend the Libyan people.

To summarize, then: In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. It took us 31 days.

Moreover, we’ve accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge.

Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and the no-fly zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday. Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Gadhafi’s remaining forces.

In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role — including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation — to our military and to American taxpayers — will be reduced significantly.

So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: The United States of America has done what we said we would do.

That’s not to say that our work is complete. In addition to our NATO responsibilities, we will work with the international community to provide assistance to the people of Libya, who need food for the hungry and medical care for the wounded. We will safeguard the more than $33 billion that was frozen from the Gadhafi regime so that it’s available to rebuild Libya. After all, the money doesn’t belong to Gadhafi or to us — it belongs to the Libyan people. And we’ll make sure they receive it.

Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will go to London, where she will meet with the Libyan opposition and consult with more than 30 nations. These discussions will focus on what kind of political effort is necessary to pressure Gadhafi, while also supporting a transition to the future that the Libyan people deserve — because while our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people.

Now, despite the success of our efforts over the past week, I know that some Americans continue to have questions about our efforts in Libya. Gadhafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous. Moreover, even after Gadhafi does leave power, 40 years of tyranny has left Libya fractured and without strong civil institutions. The transition to a legitimate government that is responsive to the Libyan people will be a difficult task. And while the United States will do our part to help, it will be a task for the international community and — more importantly — a task for the Libyan people themselves.

In fact, much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all — even in limited ways — in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing needs here at home.

It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country — Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Gadhafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

Moreover, America has an important strategic interest in preventing Gadhafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful — yet fragile — transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security. So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America.

Now, just as there are those who have argued against intervention in Libya, there are others who have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people, and do whatever it takes to bring down Gadhafi and usher in a new government.

Of course, there is no question that Libya — and the world — would be better off with Gadhafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.

The task that I assigned our forces — to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone — carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. It’s also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.

As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do — and will do — is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Gadhafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Gadhafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Gadhafi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on Gadhafi’s side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.

Let me close by addressing what this action says about the use of America’s military power, and America’s broader leadership in the world, under my presidency.

As commander in chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. I’ve made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests. That’s why we’re going after al-Qaida wherever they seek a foothold. That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops from that country.

There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security — responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us. They’re problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

In such cases, we should not be afraid to act — but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.

That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in Libya. Of course, even when we act as part of a coalition, the risks of any military action will be high. Those risks were realized when one of our planes malfunctioned over Libya. Yet when one of our airmen parachuted to the ground, in a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States — in a region that has such a difficult history with our country — this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to those men who are protecting the skies.”

This voice is just one of many in a region where a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer.

Yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a time. Progress will be uneven, and change will come differently to different countries. There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes. And then there will be places, like Iran, where change is fiercely suppressed. The dark forces of civil conflict and sectarian war will have to be averted, and difficult political and economic concerns will have to be addressed.

The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that. But we can make a difference.

I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms: our opposition to violence directed at one’s own people; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people.

Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way. Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. Ultimately, it is that faith — those ideals — that are the true measure of American leadership.

My fellow Americans, I know that at a time of upheaval overseas — when the news is filled with conflict and change — it can be tempting to turn away from the world. And as I’ve said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength here at home. That must always be our North Star — the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring for our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.

But let us also remember that for generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer, our own future is brighter, if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity.

Tonight, let us give thanks for the Americans who are serving through these trying times, and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward. And let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

Ron Reagan Jr.: My Father Is A “Fetish Object For The Far Right”…

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In a new interview with the BBC, Ron Reagan, Jr., son of the late president, called his father “a fetish object for the far right.” Expanding on his point, the younger Reagan calls President Ronald Reagan “sort of the rubber bustier of the far right.”

Reagan Jr.’s remarks came when the BBC’s Matt Frei asked him, “Are you happy the way [Ronald Reagan] is remembered in this country, especially by the conservatives?”

“Oh, I just think it’s inevitable,” Reagan Jr. responded. “Who else are they going to remember that way? Richard Nixon? I don’t think so. Warren Harding? Maybe. But he is a fetish object for the far right, he’s sort of the rubber bustier of the far right — you know, they all have to go and touch him, as it were.”

href="http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/2011/03/ron-reagan-jr-my-father-fetish-object-far-right?utm_source=feedburner+BeltwayConfidential&utm_medium=feed+Beltway+Confidential&utm_campaign=Feed:+BeltwayConfidential+(Beltway+Confidential)feed&utm_content=feed&utm_term=feed#ixzz1I8wt6yEX" >Keep reading…

SHOCKING DISCOVERY: The Day After 9-11 Van Jones Led Rally Where They Cheered American Killers (Video)

Hero of the Left–
Kristinn Taylor and Andrea Shea King reported recently at Big Government on a long lost video of Van Jones leading a rally in Oakland, California the day after 9-11 where they cheered the American killers.

BizzyBlog reported on this video back on September 8, 2009. But, Kristinn just recently captured some of Jones’ remarks at the rally. The video also shows one speaker praising the 9-11 attackers as heroes.

Disgusting… Yet this radical activist is still a hero on the left.

From the video:
At a rally in Oakland on the night after the 9/11 attacks Van Jones (at about the 4:38 mark; HT to NewsBusters.org commenter Merkava) tells a far-far-left audience that ….

- “It’s the bombs that the government has been dropping around the world that are now blowing up inside the U.S. borders.”
- “We’ve got something stronger than bombs, we have solidarity. That dream of revolutionary change is stronger than bombs.”
So, was the White House aware of this when they hired this awful thug?

Morale Sinks As Libyan Rebels Lose Ground (Video)

NBC's Richard Engel reports Qaddafi forces are now using jeeps (similar to the rebels) instead of tanks to avoid detection and making it very difficult to be spotted by the air. Engel says the rebels have no communications, no commanders. They have mortars and surface to surface rockets but have no idea how to use them, they even fired rocket in the wrong direction into a civilian area. They are losing the fight...

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Low Levels of Radiation Found in US Milk

Washington state...

yahoo news
WASHINGTON – Very low levels of radiation turned up in a sample of milk from Washington state, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday, but federal officials assured consumers not to worry.

The FDA said such findings were to be expected in the coming days because of the nuclear crisis in Japan, and that the levels were expected to drop relatively quickly.

Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex began leaking radiation after it was damaged by a devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this month.

Results from a March 25 milk sample taken from Spokane, Wash., showed levels of radioactive Iodine-131 that were still 5,000 times below levels of concern set by the FDA, including levels set for infants and children.

"Radiation is all around us in our daily lives, and these findings are a miniscule amount compared to what people experience every day," said Patricia Hansen, senior scientist.at the FDA. "A person would be exposed to low levels of radiation on a round-trip cross-country flight, watching television, and even from construction materials."

EPA said it was increasing the level of nationwide monitoring of milk, precipitation and drinking water.

Spokane, a city of 208,000 residents, is located more than 300 miles east of the Pacific coast. Kim Papich, spokeswoman for the Spokane Regional Health District, said the agency was aware of the EPA report and preparing to issue a statement to residents.

"This is not a major health concern," Papich said

Handmade Interview: Anna Clifton

For this installment of the Handmade Interview we have Anna Clifton, her website is at annaclifton.com.

You can also find her on twitter and facebook.

Please introduce yourself and your business

I’m a 34 year old mum of 2, wife and designer/maker of jewellery. I have a degree in jewellery and silversmithing and design and make innovative pieces of jewellery, using precious and recycled materials.

Q #1: When did you start your handmade business and what inspired you to do so?
I properly started my business in 2006 when my daughter was 2 years old. I’d gone back to work as a teacher full time when she was only 6 months old, mainly because we “thought at the time” that I couldn’t afford not to. I love teaching but I really wanted to try and make my business ideas work and maybe becoming a mum helped me to take a risk and leave my permanent teaching job in order to concentrate on being a “proper” designer!

Q #2: Do you have to balance your business with work, children, both? How do you do it?
Yes, as already mentioned, I have 2 young children and I also teach jewellery making part time so it’s all a bit of a juggling act!

Q #3: What is your usual work day like?
I don’t think I have a “usual” work day at the moment. Maybe when my youngest starts at pre-school after Easter things will get a little easier, but for the time being, I usually get 1 day a week where I can get to my workshop and spend a few hours there. On these days, I start work at around 9am, after dropping off the kids at school/childminder and work until 4.30pm when I have to pick them up again. This time usually gets taken up with making orders and commissions so any new pieces/website updates etc etc have to be fitted in in the evenings – hence filling this in at 10.45pm!

Q #4: What is your favorite thing about running your business?
Can I have 2? 1: Being able to drop off/pick up my children from school at least on most days! 2: Being able to make money out of designing and making beautiful things!

Q #5: What is your biggest challenge?
I’ve just been accepted into the Devon Contemporary Craft Fair in Bovey Tracey in June. It’s a really prestigious event so everything will have to be right.

Q #6: How do you market your business?
Word of mouth, arts and crafts markets, magazine advertising, social networking – twitter/facebook.

Q #7: What is one mistake you've made in your business that you've learned from?
When I first started up, someone rang me out of the blue and said how wonderful they thought my work was and how by paying to be part of a free CD ROM on the front of a wedding mag would make me £1000’s! It didn’t but it taught me to think very carefully before committing to expensive advertising campaigns.

Q #8: What has been your biggest success and why do you think it's been so successful?
My Mendhi jewellery seems to have been really successful, as has my recycled ranges. I think my biggest success though is with commissions as I can design and make something the my customer’s exact requirements.

Q #9: What is the one thing you'd most like to tell someone just getting started?
Get some good photos taken and invest in a good website. I ALWAYS check the web first when looking for something so I can’t be “too” much different to lots of other people.

Q #10: What goals do you have for the future of your business?
I’d like to really develop my recycled ranges as well as setting up some regular jewellery making classes in and around Malvern, where I now live.

Q #11: Anything else you would like to tell the readers?
Thanks for reading all this and watch this space!

Reasssessing the Notion of a "Brain Drain"

The idea of a drain hardly ever evokes a positive reaction especially in the context of the siphoning of intellectual capital from developing countries. The impact of the “brain drain” phenomenon has been hotly debated in development circles, particularly in relationship to the flight of health care workers who emigrate from countries facing incredible public health challenges. This has been discussed previously on the ANPA blog here and here. Outside of the usual culprits – corruption, bad governance, and the like – some are wont to place the blame of Nigeria’s health care struggles on the backs of doctors and nurses who participate in destabilizing the healthcare infrastructure by abandoning the country. Nearly one in ten Nigerian physicians practices in the United States or Canada. To add insult to injury, reports surface indicating that foreign-trained health professionals in developed countries, at times, outperform their home-grown counterparts – begging the question, why have we (Nigerians) not benefited from the fruits of our labour (that is, educating such professionals)? One may come to conclusion that while developing nations invest resources into the training of its professionals, developed nations are unfairly poised to reap the benefits of such harvests. However, this line of reasoning requires a serious rethink. In full disclosure, I must admit that I am a somewhat biased, since I am a product of Nigerian intellectual refugees, and would not wish it any other way. But, I cannot help but highlight a number of incorrect assumptions made by the above argument that may debunk the notion of the brain drain as the critical destabilizing force in Nigerian healthcare.

I’ve struggled with how best to say this without being offensive, but, the idea of that the Nigerian government has and continues to lose out on its investment into the training its healthcare force, is, quite simply, laughable. Investment, ke? When overall health infrastructure spending falls at a paltry 4% of a nation’s total budget, one can only imagine that how much less is “invested” into training the healthcare force – in terms of financial assistance for education and future career support. For the overwhelming majority of Nigerian physicians practicing both in Nigeria and abroad, the heavy lifting of such support primarily rested on self, family, benevolent communities and non-governmental organizations. Furthermore, the American Medical Association reports that more than half of African born physicians practicing in the United States spent a significant portion of their educational careers at American universities and hospitals.

While doctors and nurses play an irreplaceably essential role in a nation’s overall healthcare, one must remember that the success of any national healthcare system depends on far much more than its healthcare workers. The World Health Organization identifies a number of key components of an effective healthcare system, of which, interestingly, health care staff play a merely supporting role. Of chief importance are, again, good governance and financing, but also functioning information systems, diligent public health surveillance and access (to be distinguished from availability) to essential drugs and technologies. While the desire to return home and practice medicine in Nigeria remains a strong desire for many a Nigerian physician in the US, packing up and re-inserting oneself into a virtually non-existent health system may prove frustrating to both healthcare provider and patient. It goes without saying that organizations such as ANPA have and continue to contribute to the welfare of Nigerian patients and some Nigerian physicians in America, have in small groups, given back to their homelands, whether in financial assistance, educational support, or short-term projects. Though not yet quantifiable, doctors in the West may be contributing far more than they could have while in Nigeria and a mass exodus back to Nigeria, may prove counterproductive, particularly in the absence of policies and structures. It is critical, therefore, to reassess what is actually being drained and what the consequences are of haphazardly reversing that process.

Where's the Funding: Rural Health Care

Health Care is an important issue for everyone in Saskatchewan.

Our taxes are meant to provide everyone with REAL access to doctors, home care, hospitals and long term care services so that we can get the right level of care at the right time.

So why are people who live in Rural Saskatchewan being asked to pay an additional tax to get the same access that people in Urban areas receive?

The excuses from government are un-ending.

But there is no real plan in order to save our health care and keep it in good shape for our children.

It’s time to tell your MLA and the Health Minister of Saskatchewan that you won’t accept a two-tiered health plan.

Help put a stop to the under-funding of health care in this province.

Add your voice by sending an email now.

Budgetary Allocation to Health: Shame of a Nation

The lack of commitment on the part of the federal government of Nigeria to increasing the budgetary allocation needed to improve the health of Nigerians remains a disturbing one. Recently, it was reported that Nigeria earmarks 3.5 per cent of its national budget to the health sector. With the well documented intrigues surrounding the release of budgetary allocations, no one is even sure if all the earmarked funds are ever gets released, and if released what percent is spent on services or lining pockets. With this level of allocation, Nigeria ranks just above Burundi in Africa in budgetary allocation to health. It is shameful that a nation that ten years ago hosted African Heads of State and Government at a conference in Abuja and led in the pledge for governments to allocate at least 15 per cent of their national budgets to health does not even allocate a paltry 5 percent of its budget to care for the health of its citizens. According to Ademola Olajire, a Nigerian and the Director at the Social Affairs Department at the African Union Commission, only six countries have achieved the target set in Abuja. It sure must break Mr. Olajire’s heart to provide such information that gives Nigeria a black eye. The six countries, namely Rwanda, Botswana, Republic of Niger, Malawi, Zambia and Burkina Faso that have passed the 15 per cent mark are all less endowed than Nigeria. Leader of Africa, who are you leading.

Did someone say “Cry my beloved country”, oh no I am the one who said it. As a healthcare professional, the healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria breaks my heart every time I think of it. As one of my colleagues said “because we all have parents and relatives in Nigeria who depend on this healthcare system and cannot afford to fly them out to countries with better facilities every time they fall ill, we cannot fold our hands and watch without doing anything.” The question is what can we do as non-politicians to force the hand of the government to allocate more resources to delivery of healthcare services to Nigerians? At a National Association of Resident Doctors’ roundtable in 1987, Nigerian physicians were called out for forgetting the “Hippocratic Oath” and not insisting on receiving needed resources when they become commissioners or ministers of health. It will be recalled that the late Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti extracted a committment from Babangida before he accepted the position of Minister of Health that the resources needed by the ministry will be provided to ensure that programs are implemented. He remains the only minister in recent memory to have done this. He got most of what he wanted albeit during a military regime.

In an interview with The Guardian after delivering a speech at the on-going Conference of African Ministers responsible for Finance, Economy, Planning and Economic Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Nigeria’s Minister of Health Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu said “funds allocated to security and the electoral system, among other competing needs in Nigeria, might have robbed the health sector of much-needed higher allocation in the budget.” The minister’s statement does not provide any succor to many Nigerians who still rely on government provided healthcare. In addition, the minister’s assertion that government's per capita expenditure on health was rising steadily and it's about $20 contradicts independent sources including the Africa Public Health Info which puts the figure at $10.

This is not surprising as anyone following the political debates and campaigns in Nigeria would have noticed that none of the candidates at the local, state, or national levels including the presidential candidates have mentioned or articulated any strategies to improve the health of Nigerians or arrest the decay that is the Nigerian health infrastructure. As the elections are conducted, winners announced, and executive councils formed, it is time for the Nigeria Medical Association that have done a good job of insisting on physicians running the ministry of health to go a step further to insist on improved allocation to the health sector and preventing its members from accepting health commissioner and minister positions as a form of protest if government allocation is not increased. Professor Olikoye did it and it still can be done if the focus is on the overall interest of Nigerians and not on holding a political position. When it is all said and done, physicians are going to be reminded that they presided over the decay of the Nigerian healthcare system.

Dr. Stephen R. Keister : Health Care and the Congress from Bedlam

Birth of the Republican Congress: "The Interior of Bedlam" (Bethlem Royal Hospital), from A Rake's Progress by William Hogarth, 1763. Image from McCormick Library, Northwestern University / Wikimedia Commons.

The Congress from Bedlam:
Health care and American priorities

By Dr. Stephen R. Keister / The Rag Blog / March 30, 2011
"I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America." -- Alexis de Tocqueville.
One might conclude that the current Republican Congress was spawned in Bedlam.

The nation faces what could become the worst financial crisis since the creation of the republic, and a health care crisis second to none. Yet the legislative goals of the Republican Congress, encouraged by the fundamentalist Christian Right and the Tea Party movement, appear to be (1) abolishing Obama’s health care program, (2) curtailing abortion rights, (3) defunding Planned Parenthood, (4) defunding NPR, and (5) declaring English as America's official language.

I find the attack on the health care law beyond comprehension since it was negotiated in secret between the Obama administration and two of the industries that are financial keystones for the Republican Party -- the health insurance cartel and the pharmaceutical industry.

Not only does the legislation guarantee greatly increased profits to these corporate entities, but the entire plan is modeled on the Mitt Romney program under which the Commonwealth of Massachusetts still suffers from higher health costs and no decrease in the number of personal bankruptcies for those unable to pay their medical bills.

Recent information indicates that the insurance companies nationwide have been able to increase their rates by 20-60 percent since passage of the legislation. Little improvement has been made in providing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions because of excessive premium costs, while 50 million Americans are still uninsured and thousands still die from lack of health care.

What is it that creates such fury in Republicans that they wish to do away with the legislation? One might think we had enacted a low cost, inclusive, all-encompassing health care plan like those in most of the nations of the free world.

The near total failure of this legislation is discussed in detail by Kevin Zeese in a Truthout article entitled "One-Year Anniversary: The Incredible Shrinking Obama Health Care Law."

Our Republican friends should also gain great satisfaction in the fact that the personal physician, the traditional family doctor, will soon be replaced by hospital-based doctors, thus increasing the cost to the average citizen and concurrently increasing profits to the hospital industry.

For instance, a stress test may well increase in cost from $170 to $240, a study for sleep apnea will increase from $780 to $1,140, and a Caesarean Section from $2,700 to $3,420.

In my home, Erie, Pennsylvania, we have been watching the evolution of this phenomenon for some years. Here, most medical practices are now under the aegis of two traditional hospitals. As the older practitioners die or retire, options will be increasingly restricted.

This is pushing us further into a corporate structure that idealizes profits rather than professional medicine. This process is discussed in detail in an article at Smart Money, in entitled "Say Farewell to the Family Doctor."

The one bright spot on the horizon is the passage of a universal health care bill by the Vermont House -- The Vermont Health Care Authority -- by a vote of 89-47. The Governor has expressed his approval for the legislation, which still must pass the Senate. The law has been contested by all of the corporate interests that one would anticipate.

Much work is yet to be done, but there is cause for encouragement. The physicians are pleased as punch, and many other doctors may look to Vermont as a good site to move their practices.

Unhappily one can anticipate little movement from the American public in the direction of intelligent economic or health care policies. The average American, sadly, has little knowledge of the state of national affairs and the workings of government -- or what is really in his or her own interest.

Newsweek recently published a survey where 1,000 Americans were given the U.S. Citizenship test, a test taken by new immigrants at the time of naturalization, and 38 percent of current citizens failed it. European tourists with whom I talk know more about current affairs in the United States than do many of my neighbors.

One other bit of encouragement is Rep. Anthony Weiner's move to attach a "public option" to the current federal law. I feel that Rep.Weiner is one of a handful of honest elected representatives in Washington, and I admire his diligence and honor; however, I greatly fear that he is talking to the sea. The organization, Physicians for a National Health Program, continues its efforts and I would encourage those who can donate to do so. Hopefully, one day, it will be more than a voice in the wilderness.

Another positive note is the slowly increasing public attitude favoring the legalization of cannabis. A number of states have approved use of the plant for medical purposes, and many far-sighted individuals are beginning to see a bright side to decriminalization – like increased tax revenue in the billions of dollars, and the elimination of the tremendous expense of incarcerating those convicted for possession. Three more states, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, are close to arriving at rational decisions.

I tend to support the legalization course, as well as national laws permitting prescription cannabis, though I have never experienced the drug personally. Patients, and relatives of patients, have told me repeatedly that smoking a joint gives much more relief from pain caused by chronic or terminal illness, than prescription opiates.

My underlying fear is that the pharmaceutical industry will get on board the prescription cannabis train and at the same time lobby against legal, government-regulated, individual use of pot, leading to “prescriptions for profit” while individual use continues to be a felony.

I fear, as well, that the lobbies for the liquor industry will do their best to prevent sale of a drug much less physically and psychologically harmful than most alcoholic beverages. I would urge that all who have a rational Congressperson contact him/her and encourage the movement for national legalization.

[Dr. Stephen R. Keister lives in Erie, Pennsylvania. He is a retired physician who is active in health care reform and is a regular contributor to The Rag Blog.]

Dr. Kevin Patterson on Western Diets and Health

A few readers have pointed me to an interesting NPR interview with the Canadian physician Kevin Patterson (link). He describes his medical work in Afghanistan and the Canadian arctic treating cultures with various degrees of industrialization. He discusses the "epidemiological transition", the idea that cultures experience predictable changes in their health as they go from hunter-gatherer, to agricultural, to industrial. I think he has an uncommonly good perspective on the effects of industrialization on human health, which tends to be true of people who have witnessed the effects of the industrial diet and lifestyle on diverse cultures.

A central concept behind my thinking is that it's possible to benefit simultaneously from both:

The sanitation, medical technology, safety technology, law enforcement and lower warfare-related mortality that have increased our life expectancy dramatically relative to our distant ancestors.

The very low incidence of obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and other non-infectious chronic diseases afforded by a diet and lifestyle roughly consistent with our non-industrial heritage.

But it requires discipline, because going with the flow means becoming unhealthy.

Top doctor says health care needs to move off of the election waiting list

CALGARY - The president of the Canadian Medical Association wants health care moved from the waiting list to the top of the agenda in the federal election campaign.

Dr. Jeff Turnbull told a Calgary audience that Canada's health-care system is at a crossroads and the federal government needs to expand its role.

"That's why, in this newly launched federal election campaign, Canada's doctors will be pressing to put health care on the agenda," Turnbull said Wednesday in a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

"Canadians have identified health care as their priority and I would like to see our elected officials now starting to have that debate and I'd like to see a much greater conversation about how we're going to transform health care for future generations."

So far, says Turnbull, the federal parties are offering nothing more than "piecemeal initiatives" instead of a picture of what the system should be in the future.

The system as it stands now is inefficient, he said, and it should be run more like a business so that the money saved from any efficiencies can be funnelled back into the system.

The current federal-provincial health accord is set to expire in 2014 and Ottawa needs to take a bigger role, he said.

"Some people want you to believe that the federal role is just as a funder. It is absolutely not. The federal government is the custodian of the Canada Health Act," Turnbull added.

"It delivers services to military, RCMP, First Nations and Inuit. It should be responsible for facilitating the best health care within your jurisdiction, for your communities. I do believe there is a role for the federal government in ensuring medicare is pan-Canadian, rather than 14 separate systems."

The Canadian Medical Association has been consulting with Canadians about the future of health care for more than three months through its website. What it's heard so far from 50,000 respondents has not been good.

"They're having trouble getting access to primary care, congested emergency departments, cancelled surgery, trouble getting into home-based care or long-term care," Turnbull said.

"Canadians are expressing to us on an ongoing basis and the Canadian doctors who are charged with the responsibility of giving effective care and serving their communities — they're coming to us and saying please fix this health-care system."

He's not suggesting one giant superboard overseeing all the provinces and territories but he said there should be national standards to make sure everyone receives good health care.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said he supports the idea of a more universal approach to health care.

"That's fine. Stand shoulder-to-shoulder across Canada and bring about changes. We can't do this province-by-province nor can we follow the same process we did in the past," said Stelmach.

"When the Canada Health Act was passed in Ottawa it was a 50-50 split on health care. Today as an Alberta taxpayer you are providing more than 80 per cent of health-care costs. Other provinces are in similar situations."

Mental health concerns mount as Japan tsunami realities sink in

Via Reuters: Mental health concerns mount as Japan tsunami realities sink in. Excerpt:

Japanese tsunami survivors mourning lost loved ones and struggling to replace shattered homes and workplaces also face daunting mental health concerns, experts warn.

Three weeks after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami left more than 27,500 people dead or missing, shock and awe at sheer destruction can give way to despondency and depression as the gravity of the survivors' loss sets in.

"For a lot of people who up until this point have been able to ignore reality and what actually happened, as they get back on their feet they realise that, for instance, their house is gone, or their children are dead, and they're being forced to confront these facts," said volunteer doctor Toru Hosada.

"A lot of them are extremely uncertain as to what they can do," he said during rounds at a shelter in the shattered port city of Yamada in Iwate prefecture.

A tour of some 150 km (90 miles) of the devastated coast of northern Japan showed brisk efforts to house, feed and bathe thousands of people made homeless by the wave -- but worries that "kokoro no care" (mental health treatment) was coming too slowly.

"Many people cannot sleep well at night as they are afraid of earthquakes. They have lost many things so they are psychologically hurt," doctor Keiichiro Kubota told Reuters at a makeshift clinic in Kesennuma.

The difficulty of comforting survivors is compounded by the more than 350 aftershocks recorded since March 11.

"I am sleeping with my regular clothes on. I am always feeling an earthquake. Even when a car passes by, I think it's an earthquake," said Toshie Fukuda, 64, a survivor in Rikuzentakata, one of the cities hit hardest by the tsunami.

At the main disaster evacuee center in Rikuzentakata, a junior high school, the psychological counseling center is a curtained-off 4 square metre (36 sq ft) corner of a classroom.

"Do you suffer from headaches, stomach aches, diarrhea? Are you easily agitated and unable to sleep? Do you have no appetite, suffer nightmares about the disaster, or lack your normal energy? Are you irritated by the smallest sound, unable to stop crying and unable to relax?" reads a clinic poster.

"These feelings are not at all unusual -- they are the normal reaction of people who have received a severe shock," the poster said. "Talk to a specialist to lighten your burden."

Public health caravan dispatched to help southern victims

BANGKOK, 31 March 2011 – The Ministry of Public Health has dispatched a caravan carrying consumer supplies and 30,000 sets of medical kits in an urgent effort to aid flood victims in the southern region.

Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit stated that the public health caravan is bringing the necessities to eight southern provinces currently suffering from serious flooding. The provinces are Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Surat Thani, Trang, Chumphon, Phang Nga, Songkhla and Krabi.

Mr Jurin also reported that 7,237 flood victims have so far received medical treatment from the mobile unit. Most of them came with flu, tinea pedis and small fresh wounds.

The minister reported further that the death toll from the disaster currently stands at 20 while 44 villagers have reportedly been injured from the recent landslides in Krabi. A group of eight medical staff members from Vachira Phuket Hospital has been sent to take care of the patients.

According to Mr Jurin, 77 hospitals have been devastated by the severe flooding thus far. Out of that number, three are seriously hit with high flood water that nearly submerges their one-floor buildings. Those hospital are Po Daeng Hospital in Chumphon, Sai Thong and Song Phraek Hospitals in Surat Thani.

Quotes of the day

“I don’t know what motivates people who insist on doubt here,’ said Brooks Jackson, director of FactCheck.org, who went on to say that Obama’s U.S. citizenship had been proven “beyond any reasonable doubt.… But it’s natural human tendency to believe what you want to believe and ignore any evidence that would make you change your mind.
“‘Some people believe in UFO cults, and there’s a whole group who thinks George W. Bush was behind 9/11; you’re not going to convince them otherwise,’ Jackson continued. ‘Trump has obviously decided — and he’s certainly succeeded — that he’ll get more ink saying this than something else, because if there’s one thing Donald Trump loves, it’s attention.’”


Hillary to Congress on not seeking authorization for Libya war: Too bad

I don’t know how else to read this except as the White House telling Congress that they don’t want to hear from them going forward, period. And based on the reactions from both Republicans and Democrats at the briefing, sounds like they don’t know how else to read it either.
They said one dynamic was very clear: The administration doesn’t much care what Congress thinks about the actions it’s taken so far.
Challenged on whether Obama overstepped his constitutional authority in attacking Libya without congressional approval, Clinton told lawmakers that White House lawyers were OK with it and that Obama has no plans to seek an endorsement from Congress, attendees told POLITICO…
“If they didn’t need congressional authorization here in these circumstances, can you tell me under what circumstances you’d ever need congressional authorization if we’re going into a war? Nobody answered [that] question,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). “The administration and its lawyers believed they had the authority under the War Powers Act.”…
Without a vote, it’s impossible to tell whether a majority of members would support more intense action in Libya, but it’s clear the administration has done little to assuage its critics. Lawmakers expressed skepticism that they’d even be consulted if the administration were to take such action.
“Now he wants people like me to support him,” said one moderate Democrat. “Quite frankly, I can’t.”
Isn’t he required under the War Powers Act to seek congressional authorization after 60 days of hostilities? Or is this guy so intent on waging war whether Congress likes it or not that he’d go to court to try to have the WPA ruled unconstitutional? Normally I’d dismiss that possibility as insane given that he did, after all, run in ’08 on his anti-war cred and that not even a Republican president would dare pull a move like that amid bipartisan clamoring for accountability, but I don’t know that anything can be safely ruled out at this point.
No wonder Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intel Committee, is now drawing a very sharp line on arming the rebels:
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said in a late Wednesday interview that the Obama administration’s top national security officials were deeply split on whether arming the rebels was a good idea. In a classified briefing Wednesday with lawmakers, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Rogers said it was clear that there were deep divisions between the cabinet officials regarding the wisdom of arming the rebels.
“I’ve never seen an uneasiness amongst their national security cabinet members as I have seen on this. It’s kind of odd,” said Rogers. He declined to say which cabinet members were supporting arming the rebels and which were opposed, but he said it was obvious that they disagreed…
“Any covert action that happens would have to get the sign off of the intelligence chairmen, by statute. You won’t get a sign off from me,” Rogers said referring to National Security Act 47. “I still think arming the rebels is a horrible idea. We don’t know who they are, we only know who they are against but we don’t really who they are for. We don’t have a good picture of who’s really in charge.”
I won’t pretend to know offhand whether he has the right to block The One under the NSA, but if we’re no longer abiding by the War Powers Act, why bother with that one either?
Seriously, what’s Obama’s angle in all this? The last thing he wants with an election around the corner is full blame if things go badly wrong in Libya. As I’ve argued before, rationally, he should be looking to get Congress involved in all this to provide himself with some political cover. Even if they refuse to play along and deny him authorization, that’s okay too. That’s his exit strategy from all this — just blame Congress for tying his hands and then that’s the end of it. Why would President Present want to finally take sole responsibility for a policy measure when it’s as dicey as this one?
Update: Cold comfort: Obama’s apparently not the only western leader half-assing this thing by refusing to consult with important advisors.
Sarkozy won a fair measure of praise for being the first leader to recognize the Libyan opposition as the legitimate leadership of the country – but even that may come back to haunt him if things go wrong. Sarkozy’s decision was taken almost on the spur of the moment, and under the spectacular brow-beating of mediagenic philosopher Bernard-Henri LÉvy, who decided to make crusading to protect the Libyan opposition a re-make of his 1990 campaign as the savior of the Bosnians during the Balkan war. Sarkozy reportedly did so without even consulting his newly-named Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppe (who was said to have been both hostile to the move and aghast that a media star had taken his role as France’s top diplomat). “There may heavy consequences,” says Bitar, “when a president makes decisions based on input by celebrities.”

ABC: GOP, Dems reach tentative budget deal involving “at least $33 billion” in cuts; Update: No deal?

So there’s the secret top-line figure we knew of but didn’t have a number for. $33 billion — and maybe a bit more — pegging this just north of half of the GOP’s target for the year.
Good enough, tea partiers?
Sources tell me that budget negotiators on Capitol Hill have tentatively agreed on a deal that would involve at least $33 billion in spending cuts from this year’s budget. That’s $23 billion dollars more than Democrats have previously agreed to in short-term continuing resolutions, and $28 billion less than Republicans previously passed in the House…

The deal could still fall apart over the composition of the cuts, or policy “riders” previously passed by the House. These include issues like de-funding Planned Parenthood and President Obama’s health care legislation. It’s also not clear that this compromise will fly with rank-and-file House Republicans, which means that the $33 billion goal could still climb by a few billion. But this is most significant progress since the beginning of negotiations.
Riddle me this. Given how intent the base is to not see the leadership cave and accept smaller cuts, even if it means a shutdown, why would Boehner signal that he’s willing to accept smaller cuts before a firm deal has been struck? It’s one thing to irritate grassroots righties if you’re winning centrists in the process by nailing down a compromise, but if negotiations end up collapsing over O-Care or PP funding, then he’s got angry conservatives on the one hand and disillusioned moderates on the other. Lose/lose.
Before you throw up your hands and decide that it’s third-party time, though, here’s a bit of breaking news from The Hill: “Senate Republicans will finally unveil their balanced budget amendment tomorrow, this time with leadership (I.e., McConnell) on board.” That’s the way they’re going to sell this to Republican voters, I guess — by accepting a deal on this year’s budget and then going nuclear on the next, replete with entitlement reform and a BBA. Works for me, but for non-RINOs? We’ll see.
Update: Dan Foster at NRO says to beware of Democrats bearing compromises:
“They are setting us up by saying there is a deal,” the [Republican] source says, “so when there isn’t one by 4/8, they can claim they had a deal but we backed out.”

CNN: US changing war “strategy” to all-out attack on Gaddafi forces

Is this really a change? For the last eleven days, the US has attacked Libyan military targets almost exclusively under the wide definition of “protecting civilians,” which looks more like air cover for the rebellion. It hasn’t worked very well to stop Moammar Gaddafi, as the rebels now have begun falling back along a long line, losing Ras Lanuf today after retreating in disarray from Sirte yesterday. Misrata is now under “intensified” attack from government forces despite the no-fly zone and its air-to-ground strategy, which has Congress worried about the likelihood of a “stalemate”:
Opposition members in Libya said Wednesday their fighters are working to regain momentum in the face of punishing assaults by forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi.
After days of dramatic advances by rebels, government forces have cranked up their firepower, pushing from Bin Jawad to Ras Lanuf, a key eastern oil town that the opposition seized Sunday, and launching escalated strikes in the western town of Misrata.
Now the US says that NATO may start attacking Tripoli itself, presumably to get to Gaddafi’s command and control functions, which makes perfect sense if the mission objective was regime change. There are no reports of massacres in Libya’s capital at the moment, at least none which NATO or the White House have publicized.If the mission is the protection of civilians, which is what the UN mandate states (which Obama said he would not exceed in his speech Monday night), how will bombing Tripoli accomplish that?  We will increase the odds for significant collateral civilian losses, not decrease them.
The only explanation that makes sense is an attempt to decapitate the regime, a legitimate goal if we knew the nature of the rebels and what would follow afterward.  CNN reports the “flicker of al-Qaeda” testimony from Admiral Stavridis yesterday in a dismissive fashion without mentioning that one of the rebel commanders was captured by the US in Afghanistan in 2002 fighting for the Taliban.  John McCain insists that the rebellion isn’t hoisting the AQ flag, but even Stavridis wouldn’t say that yesterday.
Clearly, air power alone won’t stop Gaddafi unless we just happen to get lucky and kill him, and the shift in momentum back to the government on the ground won’t encourage military units to defect any time soon, either.  We’re either looking at stalemate or escalation, as Obama and the West can’t afford to leave Gaddafi in power after these efforts to dislodge him.  We’ll end up with another Saddam Hussein in North Africa, right where he can wreak a lot of havoc in the underbelly of Europe.

Q-poll puts Obama approval at 42%, 48% disapproval

We can officially call the post-New Year bump in Barack Obama’s job approval ratings finished.  A new poll out this morning from Quinnipiac of over 2000 registered voters nationwide puts Obama’s approval level at 42%, the lowest in any Q-poll for Obama, with 48% disapproving.  His re-elect number is actually even lower:
American voters disapprove 48 – 42 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing and say 50 – 41 percent he does not deserve to be re-elected in 2012, both all-time lows, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
This compares to a 46 – 46 percent job approval rating and a 45 – 47 percent split on the President’s re-election in a March 3 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. In a hypothetical 2012 matchup, President Obama gets 36 percent of the vote to 37 percent for an unnamed Republican challenger.
Democrats approve 80 – 13 percent of the job Obama is doing, but disapproval is 81 – 9 percent among Republicans and 50 – 39 percent among independent voters. Men disapprove 52 – 41 percent while women split 44 – 44 percent.
Quinnipiac’s Peter Brown notes that the post-election bump has entirely dissipated, and puts the blame on Obama’s handling of “the budget deficit, the economy, foreign policy, health care, and energy policy.”  That leaves out the Lily Ledbetter Act, of course, as the White House will surely point out in a press release, but otherwise comprises just about every priority issue voters have. It shows in the crosstabs, where Obama only gets a 39/50 job approval among independents.
Libya certainly didn’t help.  The survey was conducted entirely before Obama’s speech, so he may have a bump coming this week.  Clearly, though, his administration failed to make the case for American action; voters oppose involvement in Libya, 47/41.  By a significant majority of 58/29, respondents say that Obama has not clearly stated American goals for Odyssey Dawn.  Almost three-quarters of voters (74%) are concerned that the action will lead to a long-term engagement, not “days and not weeks” as Obama promised. Most worrisome for Obama is the nature of the support he is getting on Libya; 50% of Republicans support the action, but only 38% of Democrats and independents follow suit.
This isn’t the only poll showing a slide for Obama, either.  A new Gallup poll shows his marks on leadership are still barely in the majority but at a new low:
Americans have grown increasingly less likely to view President Obama as a strong and decisive leader since he took office. Roughly half now believe this aptly describes, him compared with 60% a year ago and 73% in April 2009. …
Altogether, Obama’s ratings on being a strong and decisive leader are down a total of 21 percentage points since taking office, compared with a 15-point decline on understanding Americans’ daily problems and a 9-point decline in sharing their values. Obama’s overall job approval rating declined 16 points over the same time period.
Normally, a military action allows a President an opportunity to demonstrate those leadership qualities.  Obama squandered that opportunity by leaving the country without addressing the nation as he sent the American military into a fresh conflict.  His speech ten days later might undo some of that damage, but if it doesn’t, Obama is in serious political trouble.  Few Presidents win a second term on a 41/50 re-elect number, especially when seem as a weak leader on top of it.

Boeing to Upgrade Australia’s MHFCS

26 Maret 2011
Australia's High Frequency Communications System (photo : BDA)

Boeing Receives AUS$15.5M MHFCS Support Services Contract

BRISBANE, Queensland – Boeing [NYSE: BA] on March 11 received a $15.5 million Support Services Contract (SSC) from the Commonwealth of Australia for the Modernised High Frequency Communications System (MHFCS).

Under the SSC, Boeing will sustain and upgrade the operational capability of MHFCS, which the company also developed. The system is used to securely exchange information within the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for the command and control of deployed forces.

“SSC will provide the Australian Department of Defence with the specialised engineering support it needs to maintain this strategically important communications asset,” said Michael Aylward, head of the Electronic Systems Division for the Commonwealth of Australia’s Defence Material Organisation.

“SSC is a huge vote of confidence from the Commonwealth in Boeing’s ability to ensure MHFCS remains at the cutting edge of high frequency (HF) communications technology,” said Mike Scott, general manager of Network & Space Systems for Boeing Defence Australia. “We’ve worked very closely with the Commonwealth to ensure SSC will deliver maximum value and the most effective support to the ADF.”

Boeing received “project complete” status from the Commonwealth for MHFCS on June 16, 2010. The company delivered the system in two phases, identified as the core system and the final system.

The core system, delivered in 2004, replaced three ageing HF communications systems used by the Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), with a single integrated system consisting of four HF radio stations and two purpose-built control centres.

The final system, which was introduced into ADF service on Sept. 24, 2009, provided greater levels of automation, performance and capability for ADF users, a back-up network management facility at Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory, and Generic Mobile Upgrade Systems for land-and-sea and air platforms.

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