Tag Archives: National Security

Herman Cain Warns China Is Seeking ‘Nuclear Capability’

Someone needs to advise Mr. Cain that China has had ‘nuclear capabilities” for almost 50 years!

TPM2012

Herman Cain may have some surprises at his first national security briefings should he win the presidency.

In an interview with PBS, Cain appears to suggest that Americans should consider China dangerous in part because they’re pursuing “nuclear capability.” In fact, China tested its first nuclear device in 1964 and has had a stockpile of warheads for decades.

The relevant passage:

HERMAN CAIN: I do view China as a potential military threat to the United States.JUDY WOODRUFF: And what could you do as president to head that off?

HERMAN CAIN: My China strategy is quite simply outgrow China. It gets back to economics. China has a $6 trillion economy and they’re growing at approximately 10 percent. We have a $14 trillion economy — much bigger — but we’re growing at an anemic 1.5, 1.6 percent. When we get our economy growing back at the rate of 5 or 6 percent that it has the ability to do, we will outgrow China.

And secondly, we already have superiority in terms of our military capability, and I plan to get away from making cutting our defense a priority and make investing in our military capability a priority, going back to my statement: peace through strength and clarity. So yes they’re a military threat. They’ve indicated that they’re trying to develop nuclear capability and they want to develop more aircraft carriers like we have. So yes, we have to consider them a military threat.

Hotair, one of the blogs to catch Cain’s comment, suggests there is some slight ambiguity there — that he may be referring to nuclear-powered aircraft carriers — but the context makes it a close call at best.

Cain’s foreign policy knowledge has been a liability in recent months and he’s downplayed its importance overall.

“I’m ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions, and they’re already starting to come,” Cain said in a CBNinterview last month. “And when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I’m going to say you know, I don’t know. Do you know?”

h/t Hotair

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Al Qaeda No. 2 Killed In Pakistan This Week

U.S. troops in Afghanistan

Image via Wikipedia

Many people see President Obama as many things, but what they can’t accuse him of is being soft on defense…

TPM News

Al Qaeda’s new second-in-command was killed earlier this week in Pakistan, U.S. officials said Saturday, in a major blow to the group still reeling from the death of Osama bin Laden.

Atiyah abd al-Rahman, a Libyan national, rose to the number two spot when Ayman al-Zawahri took the reins of al Qaeda after bin Laden was killed in May in a U.S. raid in Pakistan.

One U.S. official said Rahman was killed in a strike by an unmanned drone on August 22. He was killed in Waziristan in northwest Pakistan where intelligence officials believe members of al Qaeda are hiding, other U.S. officials said.

“Atiyah’s death is a tremendous loss for al Qaeda, because (Zawahri) was relying heavily on him to help guide and run the organization, especially since bin Laden’s death,” one U.S. official said.

“The trove of materials from bin Laden’s compound showed clearly that Atiyah was deeply involved in directing al Qaeda’s operations even before the (May) raid. He had multiple responsibilities in the organization and will be very difficult to replace,” the official said.

U.S. and Pakistani intelligence ties have been strained since the unilateral American strike against bin Laden, and Pakistani intelligence did not confirm Rahman’s death. Sources in Pakistan said four people known to have been killed in a U.S. drone strike on August 22 were local militants and not al Qaeda.

Although most U.S. officials described Rahman as al Qaeda’s No. 2, one said his rank wasn’t as clear, saying he could be considered one of the top three leaders of the organization.

Regardless, Rahman’s death, if confirmed, would signal another significant setback for al Qaeda’s core group just days before the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In the past decade, al Qaeda’s affiliates have become a greater concern, with its Yemen-based off-shoot now seen in Washington as the bigger threat to the United States.

Continue reading here…

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West Wing Week: 3/25/11 or “OCONUS II – Mamalluca”

The White House

This week, President Obama remained focused on Libya, receiving secure communications from his national security team as the first family visited Latin America. The President made stops in Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to promote American exports and economic cooperation among the neighbors in our hemisphere.

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NEW ! The 244 ACCOMPLISHMENTS of PRESIDENT OBAMA

This list will undoubtedly have some points that cross over to the “other” list published here two days ago, but BOTH serve it’s purpose in showing that this President has not been sitting on his butt doing nothing.

Click here for an updated version of President Obama’s accomplishments!

B4B News

ETHICS

• Ordered the White House and all federal agencies to respect the Freedom of Information Act and overturned Bush-era limits on accessibility of federal documents (2009)

• Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and transparency as much as possible (2009)

• Placed limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House (2009)

• Placed limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration (2009)

• Signed a measure strengthening registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists (2009)

• Ordered that lobbyists must be removed from and are no longer permitted to serve on federal and White House advisory panels and boards (2009) * Note: After saying he would not hire lobbyists, a few have been hired in the Administration

• Companies and individuals who are delinquent on their taxes or owe back taxes are no longer allowed to bid for federal contracts (2009)

• Initiated the “e-Rulemaking Initiative” (in cooperation with Cornell University) to allow for online public “notice and comment” of federal laws and initiatives (2010)

• Issued the “Open Gov Directive” ordering all Cabinet departments to promote transparency and citizen participation in their policies (2010)

• Signed extensions on banning lobbyists from serving on agency boards (2010)

• Developed the “Don Not Pay List” with data on contractors and recipients of federal funds who are deemed to be ineligible because of fraud and abuse (2010)

GOVERNANCE

• The White House website now provides information on all economic stimulus projects and spending, along with an unprecedented amount of information on our government (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era practice of circumventing established FDA rules for political reasons (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era practice of having White House staff rewrite the findings of scientific and environmental regulations and reports when they disagreed with the results (2009)

• Limited the salaries of senior White House aides (salaries cut to $100,000) (2009)

• Has urged Congress to adopt “Pay-Go” (whereby each dollar of spending is offset by a dollar in cuts or revenues, which was used in the `90s but abandoned in the `00s) (2010)

• Has been holding open meetings with Republican leaders, although they complain of a lack of access and information (2010)

• Signed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (2010) * Note: To curb wasteful spending

• Tasked federal agencies to develop plans for disposing of unneeded real estate and then to eliminate unnecessary or non-economical lands, properties, etc. (2010)

NATIONAL SECURITY

• Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane (which wasn’t even used in Iraq/Afghanistan) and other outdated weapons systems (2009)

• Announced his intention to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay (2009) * Note: The closure has been delayed due to massive opposition but it remains on the agenda.

• Stated his interest in housing terrorists at a new federal “super max” facility in the US (2009) * Note: this has been delayed in the face of massive opposition but it remains on the agenda

• Cut the expensive Reagan era missile defense program, saving $1.4 billion in 2010 (2009)

• Cancelled plans to station anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic (2009)

• Replacing long-range, expensive missile systems with more efficient smaller systems (2009)

• Increased US Navy patrols off the Somali coast in response to pirating (2009)

• Established a new cyber security office and appointed a cyber security czar (2009)

• Ordered the first nation-wide comprehensive cyber threat assessment (2009)

• Instituted a new Nuclear Posture Review, revising US nuclear deterrence policy to encourage more nations to join the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2010) * Note: Components of the policy include: a pledge to stop nuclear testing; a pledge to not build a new generation of nucs; identifying nuclear terrorism, rather than a launch from another nuclear state, as the major threat; a pledge to not use nucs on a non-nuclear state in a conventional conflict; etc.

• Executive orders to block payment, transfers, exports, etc… of individuals and organizations support the regimes of North Korea, Iran, Somali pirates, and other foreign threats (2010)

• Presidential Memoranda to extend certain provisions of The Trading with Enemies Act which was to expire in September 2010 (2010) * Note: This includes freezing assets and banning trade that benefits the Cuban regime; however further efforts at normalizing travel to Cuba are supported

• Signed bill for southwest border security and increased funds and agents on the Mexican border (2010)

• Signed the Comprehensive Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act to deal with foreign regimes like Iran and North Korea (2010)

IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN

• Began the phased withdrawal of US troops from Iraq (2009); continuing the withdrawal (2010)

• Changed the US military command in the Afghan conflict (2009)

• Tasked the Pentagon to reorganize US policy in Afghanistan; the new policy includes 30,000 additional troops deployed, priority training of Afghan forces, developing agriculture and infrastructure, limiting aerial bombing, etc. (2009)

• Ordered the Pentagon to send additional helicopters to assist US Marine units and Special Forces in Afghanistan (2009)

• Increased unmanned drone strikes on Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Afghanistan (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era “stop-loss” policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date (2009)

MILITARY & VETERANS

• Ordered the Pentagon to cover expenses of families of fallen soldiers if they wish to be on site when the body arrives back in the US (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era “blackout” imposed on media coverage of the return of fallen US soldiers (2009) * Note: The media is now permitted to cover the story pending adherence to respectful rules and with the approval of the fallen soldier’s family

• Ended the Bush-era “black out” policy on media coverage of war casualties (2009) * Note: Full information is now released for the first time in the War on Terror

• Ordered better body armor to be procured for US troops (2009)

• Funding new Mine Resistant Ambush Vehicles (2009) * Note: The old Hummers were very vulnerable to roadside explosives and an alarming percentage of our soldiers lost in Iraq were on account of IEDs

• Working to increase pay and benefits for military personnel (2009)

• Improving housing for military personnel (2009)

• Initiating a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses (2009)

• Ordered that conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other neglected military hospitals be improved (2009)

• Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military to a post-Cold War, modern fighting force (2009) * Note: Bush announced in 2001 his intention to do this but backed off the reforms after 9/11, which include: new procurement policies; increasing the size of Special Ops units; deploying new technologies; creating new cyber security units; etc.

• Ended the Bush-era practice of awarding “no-bid” defense contracts (2009)

• Improving benefits for veterans as well as VA staffing, information systems, etc. (2009)

• Authorized construction of additional health centers to care for veterans (2009)

• Suspended the Bush-era decision to purchase a fleet of Marine One helicopters from suppliers in favor of American made helicopters (2009)

• Ordered a review of the existing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military (2010)

• New GI Bill for returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan (2009)

• Signed bill providing assistance for caregivers of veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan (2010) * Note: The omnibus bill does the following: Training, funding, and counseling for caregivers; promoting pilot childcare programs for women vets under treatment at the VA; independent oversight to prevent abuse; readjustment counseling for National Guard and reservist units; etc.

• Eliminated co-payments for veterans who are catastrophically disabled (2010)

• Fulfilled campaign promise to have combat troops (90,000) out of Iraq by August 31, 2010 (2010)

• Established a new interagency task force to assist veterans owning small businesses (2010) * Note: The efforts include promoting federal contract opportunities, improve access to loans and capital, mentor assistance programs, etc.

• Signed The Families of Fallen Heroes Act, which covers the moving costs of immediate family members of those lost in service (military, intelligence, and security personnel) (2010)

FOREIGN POLICY

• Closed the Bush-era “secret detention” facilities in Eastern Europe (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy allowing “enhanced interrogation” (torture); the US is again in compliance with Geneva Convention standards (2009) * Note: Obama has permitted some controversial interrogation techniques to continue

• Restarted international nuclear non-proliferation talks and reestablished international nuclear inspection protocols (2009) * Note: Bush withdrew from non-proliferation talks and dismantled the inspection infrastructure

• Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic (2009) * Note: These were suspended under Bush

• Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions (2009) * Note: These were suspended under Bush

• Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office (2009)

• Banned the export of cluster bombs (2009)

• Overturned Bush-era plans to increase the US nuclear arsenal (2009)

• Authorized the Navy SEALS operation that freed by force the US shipping captain held by Somali pirates (2009)

• Restored the US commitment to the UN population fund for family planning; overturned the ban on providing funds internationally for family planning (2009) * Note: The family planning efforts were suspended under Bush

• Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return “home” to visit families (2009)

• Extended an offer of engagement (free from sanctions and penalties) to Iran through December 31, 2009 (Iran did not accept the offer) (2009)

• Sent envoys to the Middle East and other parts of the world, reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy (2009)

• Authorized discussions with North Korea and the private mission by former president, Bill Clinton, to secure the release of two Americans held in prisons (2009)

• Authorized discussions with Myanmar and the mission by Senator Jim Web to secure the release of an American held captive (2009)

• Renewed loan guarantees for Israel (2009)

• Signed the USIFTA trade agreement with/for Israel (2009)

• Authorized a $550m advance for Israel (six months prior to the scheduled date) in order to accommodate Israeli’s economic and financial needs (2009)

• Continued agreements with Israel for cultural exchanges, immigration, etc. (2009)

• Spoke on Arab television, spoke at an Egyptian university, and met with Arab leaders in an effort to change the tone of US-Arab relations (2009)

• Ordered the US to finally pay its dues to the United Nations (2009)

• Attended the Summit of America’s meeting in Trinidad and Tobago (2010)

• Dispatched several envoys and initiated talks with numerous nations (2010)

• Signed a nuclear limitation treaty with Russia (2010) * Note: The agreement calls for both countries to reduce their nucs by one-third (1,500) and launch systems by half (800)

• Hosted nuclear non-proliferation summit for several nations (2010)

• Executive Order to establish support offices in the State Department to assist the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan (2010)

• Presidential Memoranda to continue drug interdiction support with Columbia (2010)

ECONOMY

• Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) (2009) * Note: Bush was the first president since Herbert Hoover to not make infrastructure a priority

• Authorized the US auto industry rescue plan and two GMAC rescue packages (2009)

• Authorized the housing rescue plan and new FHA residential housing guarantees (2009)

• Authorized a $789 billion economic stimulus plan (2009) * Note: 1/3 in tax cuts for working-class families; 1/3 to states for infrastructure projects; 1/3 to states to prevent the layoff of police officers, teachers, etc. at risk of losing their jobs because of state budget shortfalls

• Instituted a new rule allowing the public to meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (in as quickly as one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying (2009)

• Authorized a continuation of the US financial and banking rescue plans initiated at the end of the Bush administration and authorized TARP funds to buy “toxic assets” from failing financial institutions (2009)

• Authorized the “Cash for Clunkers” program that stimulated auto sales and removed old, inefficient, polluting cars from the road (2009)

• Convened a “jobs summit” to bring experts together to develop ideas for creating jobs (2009)

• Ordered the FDIC to beef up deposit insurance (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy of protecting credit card companies (2009) * Note: In place of the old policy, new consumer protections were instituted and the industry’s predatory practices were banned

• Authorized the federal government to make more loans available to small businesses and ordered lower rates for federal loans to small businesses (2009)

• Placed a 35% tariff on Chinese tires and a few other products such as pipes after China was found to be illegally “dumping” exports below cost (2009) * Note: Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan all refused to “get tough” on China’s predatory trade practices; Bush II refused four times during his presidency

• In November 2009, Obama extended unemployment benefits for one million workers

and expanded coverage for some existing homeowners who are buying again (2009)

• Called on Congress to deliver a “Jobs bill” (2010)

• Credit card companies are prohibited from raising rates without advance notification or arbitrarily if customers are paying bills on time (2010)

• Signed a bill to extend unemployment benefits set to expire (2010)

• Signed historic Wall Street reform bill (2010) * Note: Designed to reregulate and end abusive practices and promote consumer protections

• Signed the HIRE Act to stimulate the economic recovery (2010) * Note: The bill includes: tax cuts for small businesses who hire someone unemployed for at least two months; small businesses can write off their investments in equipment this year; etc.

• National Export Initiative established to enhance federal support (technical assistance, training, trade missions, etc.) and coordination efforts to help US businesses export products and services (2010)

• Initiatives to promote a “Wireless Broadband Revolution” (2010) * Note: Among other things, broadband is finally being considered as necessary infrastructure, with efforts to expand use, access, and spectrum…

• Expanded agricultural credit to farmers during current economic crisis (2010)

• Signed bill – US Manufacturing Enhancement Act (2010)

• Signed bill – Single Family Housing Mortgage Insurance (2010)

TAXES

• Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks to permit the US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs (2009) * Note: The new policy promotes in-sourcing investments to brings jobs back to the US

• Signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which provides small tax cuts for 95% of “working families” (2009) * Note: The tax cuts were not as big as was suggested during the 2008 campaign

• Convened an advisory board that is looking into simplifying the tax code (2009)

• Ordered the closing of offshore tax safe havens (for individual and business tax evaders) (2009)

• Reduced taxes for some small businesses to stimulate the economic recovery (2009)

• Extended the Home Buyers Credit for first-time home buyers (2009)

• Proposed doubling the child tax credit (2010)

• Called for the repeal of the capital gains tax for small businesses (2010)

• Proposed rolling back the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (2010) * Note: This would be for families earning over $250,000/year and would return their tax rates to the 1990’s level

BUDGETING 

• Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut federal spending (2009)

• Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify wasteful spending and practices (2009)

• Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient (2009)

• Overturned the Bush-era practice of not listing certain federal programs in the federal budget (2009) (2010) * Note: Bush did this (so did Reagan) in an effort to hide programs and make the budget look smaller; such “off budget” items are now included in the annual budget

• Full appropriations for war are now included in the budget (2009) (2010) * Note: Bush did not list many of the appropriations for Iraq, Afghanistan, and War on Terror

• Funds for emergency appropriations are now included in the budget (2009) (2010)

• Proposed a three-year freeze on federal discretionary spending beginning in 2011 (2010)

• Is in the process of cutting 120 federal programs identified as either wasteful or unnecessary (2010)

• Established a bipartisan commission on fiscal responsibility, staffed by House and Senate members and private citizens, tasked with submitting proposals to balance the budget (2010) * Note: In the face of Republican opposition, the powers of the commission were watered down

• Established a bipartisan commission on the future of Social Security, tasked with submitting proposals to preserve and strengthen Social Security (2010) * Note: In the face of Republican opposition, the powers of the commission were watered down

• Cut $20 billion from federal budget and has pledged to cut at least this much every year (2010)

• Ultimately decided to cancel planned new presidential helicopter fleet and stick with marine One (2010)

• Freezing all discretionary spending for next three years, except on national security (2010)

• Presidential Memoranda to freeze discretionary awards, bonuses, etc. for federal political appointees (2010)

• Beginning to use “Pay-As-You-Go” (Pay-Go) to offset budget expenditures with budget cuts or revenue enhancements (2010)

HEALTHCARE 

• Removed Bush era restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research (2009)

• Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research (2009)

• Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children (2009)

• Established an independent commission to make recommendations on slowing the costs of Medicare (2009)

• Reversed some of the Bush-era restrictions that prevented Medicare from negotiating with pharmaceutical firms for cheaper drugs, allowing government to again competitively bid (2009) * Note: Obama had promised to lift all restrictions but, while he did negotiate with drug companies for them to lower their costs the deal only lifted some restrictions

• Expanding government vaccination programs (2009)

• Issued new disease prevention guidelines and priorities for the CDC (2009)

• Authorized the FDA to finally begin regulating tobacco (2009)

• Tasked federal labs to prioritize research on and deployment of H1N1 vaccines (2009)

• Asked multiple congressional committees to bring forward a healthcare reform bill; held dozens of public hearings and town halls on the issue (2009) (2010)

• Established a new council on National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health to be chaired by Surgeon General and charged with promoting healthy lifestyles and integrative healthcare (2010)

• When accusations to the contrary arose, an Executive Order was signed to reaffirm that federal funds are not to be used for abortion services (2010)

• Historic healthcare reform bill signed – $940 billion over 10 years (2010) * Note: 32 million additional Americans will receive healthcare coverage and costs will be lowered for most Americans, but many of the goals are phased in over four years

Components of the bill 

- Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals/family members with pre-existing health conditions; a temporary plan is being developed to cover high-risk individuals with pre-existing conditions until the full reforms go into effect in 2014

- Prevents insurance companies from placing lifetime limits on benefits

- Bans “rescission” so insurance companies can’t cancel coverage if individuals keep their policies current or if they become ill

- An individual’s out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are capped

- Closes the “donut hole” (Part D) for Medicare prescription drug coverage (under Bush, Medicare helped pay for drugs up to $2,600 and above $4,550, but individuals had to pay 100% of the costs in between these amounts); now Medicare helps cover costs irrespective of the amount – seniors will now pay only 25% of drug costs up to $4,550 and only 5% of drug costs above that amount

- In 2010, an emergency provision will offer seniors a $250 rebate on the costs incurred within the “donut hole”

- Individuals living at or below the poverty line were eligible for healthcare under Medicaid, but by 2014 individuals/families living slightly above (making up to $14,404/$29,327) the poverty line will also be eligible for benefits

- Individuals/families making less than $43,320/$88,200 per year will qualify for government subsidies to help purchase health insurance

- All individuals must have health insurance or face a government fine; all large (over 50 employees) employers must offer health insurance to employees or pay a fine

- Small businesses can get a tax credit if they offer health care

- There are hardship exemptions if individuals can’t afford health insurance

- Families can keep their children in college on their plans through age 26

- Promotes health insurance “exchanges” so consumers can buy “wholesale”

- Creates consumer assistance offices to help consumers file complaints or appeal decisions from insurance companies; beginning in 2011, insurance companies can no longer make excessive rate hikes without justification and approval, and those doing so may be barred from participating in new health insurance exchanges

Funding sources:

- Large employers (over 50 workers) that don’t offer health benefits will be charged a $2,000/worker fee; if the employer offers coverage but employees instead purchase federally subsidized insurance the fee is $3,000/worker receiving federal subsidies or $750/worker (whichever is lower)

- Annual fees on pharmaceutical companies ($27 billion), health insurance companies ($60 billion), and medical device-makers ($20 billion)

- Annual penalties on individuals who do not have health insurance (up to a maximum of $695/person)

- Increase in the Medicare payroll tax from 1.45% to 2.35% for individuals making $200,000+ and families making $250,000+

- 3.8% tax on unearned income for millionaires

- Insurance companies will be subject to a tax on each high-end insurance plan (so-called “Cadillac” plans) they offer

Miscellaneous:

- Illegal immigrants are not eligible for insurance or subsidies

- By Executive Order, such federal funding can’t be used for abortion

- The federal government will assist states by covering all of the increased expenses of expanding Medicaid coverage (90% of costs after 2020)

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT 

• Removed a ruling that now allows individual states to enact automotive fuel efficiency standards above federal standards (2009)

• Offered attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles (2009)

• Overturned Bush-era rule that weakened the Endangered Species Act (2009)

• Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government (2009)

• Ended the Bush-era policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions (2009)

• Signed a measure requiring energy producing plants to begin producing 15% of their energy from renewable sources (2009)

• Announced that the federal government would reengage in the long-delayed effort to clean up “Superfund” toxic waste sites (2009)

• Announced the long-term development of a national energy grid with renewable sources and cleaner, efficient energy production (2009) * Note: Much of Obama’s energy reform was killed by Senate Republicans

• Proposed a new refuge for wild mustangs (2009)

• Cancelled several Bush-era mountain-top removal and mining permits (2009)

• Reengaged in international treaties and agreements to protect the Antarctic (2009)

* Note: Bush had withdrawn from such efforts

• Asked Congress for an energy reform and “cap and trade” bill (2009) * Note: The Congress failed to pass such a bill

• Developing plan to lease US coastal waters for wind and water-current energy production (2009)

• Overturned Bush-era policies that allowed uranium mining near national parks such as the Grand Canyon (2009)

• Expanded the Petrified Forest National Park (2009)

• Signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act that protects millions of acres of scenic, historic, and recreational lands and trails (2009)

• Requiring that government buildings and facilities be retrofitted to save energy costs (2009) * Note: These green retrofits are moving very slowly

• Authorized studies in several western states to determine how to support large-scale solar installations (2009)

• Attended the Copenhagen talks and, after the talks were stalled, negotiated an international (voluntary) agreement on reducing carbon emissions and raising funds to assist developing nations in offsetting carbon emissions (2009)

• Banned importation of pythons in response to a growing population of pythons damaging the Florida Everglades (2009)

• Committing the federal government to increasing research and use of renewable, clean energy sources such as wind, biomass, etc. (2009)

• Executive orders establishing a federal initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all federal operations (2009) (2010)

• Called for exploring the possibility of additional off-shore oil drilling in the Gulf, Atlantic, and off Alaska (but not in ANWR) (2010)

• Agreed to consider increases in nuclear energy production and requested a study on the feasibility of nuclear power plant construction (2010) * Note: Nearly all energy initiatives were defeated by Republican opposition in Congress

• Increased investment in clean energy projects (2010)

• Executive Order to develop a new strategy for and commitment to ocean and lake resources, and for scientific research on water quality (2010)

RIGHTS

• Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women (Lilly Ledbetter Bill) (2009)

• Appointed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina, to the Supreme Court (2009)

• Held the first Seder in White House (2009)

• Appointed a diverse Cabinet and diverse White House staff (2009)

• Spoke at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization (2009)

• Signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation that includes acts of violence against gays under the list of federal hate crimes (2009)

• Reversed the Bush-era practice of politicizing Justice Department investigations and prosecutions against political opponents (2009)

• Pushing for some of the 9/11 perpetrators to be tried in federal court (2009) * Note: The process has moved at a snail’s pace and, in the face of opposition, Obama has remained quiet

• Signed an extension of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Bill to provide federal research and support for treating the disease (2009)

• Allowed the State Department of offer same-sex benefits for employees (2009)

• Proposed that the Pentagon repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; placed a “freeze” on current efforts to remove alleged homosexuals from the military (2009)

• After eight years of neglect, the Justice Department and EEOC are again enforcing employment discrimination laws (2009)

• Convened the White House Tribal Nations Conference, inviting representatives from 564 federally-recognized Indian tribes (2009)

• Provided increased school projects for Indian lands and increased funds for the Indian Health Service (2009)

• Signed an Executive Order mandating that his Cabinet develop plans to work with and consult Indian tribes on issues impacting Indian lands (2009)

• Commissioned a study to develop alternatives to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010)

• Called for federal agencies to look into recognizing gay partnerships in terms of benefits (2010)

• Signed an Executive Order for the President’s Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2010)

• Increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2010)

• Signed Executive Order to promote the federal government as a “model employer” when it comes to hiring the disabled (2010) * Note: This includes new efforts to increase the recruitment, hiring, and training for the disabled

• Programs to assist Spanish speakers with the US Census (2010)

• Elena Kagen appointed to Supreme Court (2010)

• Tasked all federal agencies to develop new strategies to address HIV/AIDS (2010)

• After organizing studies on the topic in 2009, tasked the Pentagon to eliminate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2010)

• Signed Fair Sentencing Act (2010) * Note: The Administration continues to deescalate marijuana interdiction and raids; increased dramatically the amount of cocaine one must possess to be sentenced to jail; eliminated mandatory sentencing for first-time drug abusers and simple possession

EDUCATION

• Authorized construction funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access in K-12 public schools (2009)

• Increased funding for school construction (2009)

• Increased funding available for student loans (2009)

• Expanded the national youth service program (2009)

• Streamlined the federal student loan process to save $87 billion over the next 10 years (2009)

• Changed the rule to allow students struggling to make college loan payments to refinance their loans (2009)

• Beginning discussions with Congress for education reform (2009) * Note: Much of Obama’s education reform has been sidelined by opposition in Congress

• Initiated a “Race to the Top” competitive federal grant program for states who develop innovative policies (2009)

• Instituted a “judgment review” allowing families with student loans to petition to have their current financial status determine the loan rather than the previous year’s finances (2009)

• Launched “Educate to Innovate,” a public/private partnership making $236 million available for science, mathematics, and technology education programs (2009)

• Proposed capping the maximum amount students must pay on student loans (as percentage of their income) (2010)

• Proposed reducing student loan obligations for individuals going to work in community and public service jobs (2010)

• The federal government will offer direct student loans, cutting out the cost of private banks (“middle man”) who increase the costs in order to make a profit (2010)

• Increased investment in technologies for schools/education (2010)

DISASTER RESPONSE

• Ordered a review of hurricane and natural disaster preparedness (2009)

• FEMA once again reports directly to the president (2009) * Note: Bush removed FEMA (prior to the Hurricane Katrina disaster) from this status

• Demonstrated an immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters (2009)

• Ordered that funds be released and red tape be streamlined for the ongoing Hurricane Katrina recovery effort in the Gulf Coast (2009)

• Timely and massive relief effort in response to the January 2010 earthquake and ensuing humanitarian crisis (2010)

Components of the response:

- The FBI’s National Center for Disaster Fraud was tasked to look into possible fraud with organizations soliciting funds for relief

- Announced the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund

- Established an emergency Haiti Task Force in the State Department

- Established a website with information, resources, and a posting of a “person finder” online to help families and friends to locate loved ones

- Joint aid and relief planning with the U.K.

- Sponsored a resolution in the UN Security Council for additional security and police forces in Haiti

- Dispatched the US Navy floating hospital (USNS Comfort) and, within 5 days, 9 naval and relief ships, 5 Coast Guard cutters, 8 Coast Guard aircraft, and 12,000 US military personnel

- Initial dispatch of several ships and cargo planes full of humanitarian aid and supplies, 6 search/rescue teams (500 personnel), and 265 Department of Health & Human Services personnel for emergency medical and aid support

- Established a mobile US air traffic control center at the destroyed airport in Port-au-Prince

• After the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a freeze was placed on new deep water projects (2010)

• Executive Order to establish new security measures to minimize accidental release of bio and chemical agents; new strategies for public health and bioterrorism response (2010)

• Established a national commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon spill to examine facts and report a plan of action; new efforts to prevent offshore spills (2010)

• After a slow start in responding to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the White House is promoting a long-term plan to reconstruct the damaged Gulf and negotiated with BP the establishment of a multi-billion dollar trust fund for victims of the spill (2010)

• Extended national flood insurance program for those in need during current economic crisis (2010)

OTHER INITIATIVES

• New federal funding for science and research labs (2009)

• Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program (2009)

• Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program (2009)

• Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud (2009)

• Ordered the DEA to stop raids on medical marijuana usage (2009)

• Ordered a review of existing “mandatory minimum” prison sentencing (2009)

• Signed an order to limit airport tarmac delays and the time passengers had to sit in the plane/on the tarmac during delays (2009)

• Restored the EPA to “Cabinet level” status (2009) * Note: Bush removed the EPA from this status

• Beginning discussions with Congress for comprehensive immigration reform (2010)

* Note: Much of Obama’s immigration reform had been stalled by opposition in Congress

• Commissioned expert panels and reports from NASA; announced a new direction for human space flight that involves funding a new heavy lift-launcher and jettisoning the Ares 1 program; boosting NASA’s budget by $1 billion in 2011 (2010)

• Ordered a ban on text-messaging for all commercial truck and bus drivers (2010)

• Signed bill – FAA Air Transportaiton Modernizatin and Safety Improvement Act (2010)


P.S. IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING…

• The Obamas paid for the renovations of the private living quarters in the White House with their own money rather than using the funds provided to all new first families (2009)

• The Obamas reused many Christmas ornaments from previous White House trees rather than buy new ones (2009)

• The Obamas used LED energy-saving lights on White House Christmas tree (2009)

• Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; donated the award money for the prize to several charities (2009)

• Planted a garden for the White House’s vegetables and flowers (2009)

• Installed a swing set/playground for the Obama daughters and children of White House employees (2009)

• Held over 150 public town halls, press conferences, interviews, etc. in first year in office (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not available on such things, but this seems to be a new record high

• Less than 30 days of vacation in first year in office (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not readily available on such things, but this seems to be a new record low

…And A FAMILY MAN !

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Obama Confirms Terror Plot

I’m certain Fox News will spin this to make this incident look like Obama’s fault.  One can’t deny that they are masters of deception and propaganda.  However, I’m hard-pressed to see if they could pull it off.  Obama and Homeland Security were on top of this thanks to credible intel…unlike the previous administration who blamed everything on the CIA’s faulty intel.

 

The Daily Beast

President Barack Obama and counterterrorism officials said Friday that U.S. officials had broken up a terrorist plot to attack cargo planes in the U.S. and two Jewish sites in Chicago. Officials said a new arm of al Qaeda, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was responsible for the plot. “Going forward, we will continue to strengthen our cooperation with the Yemeni government … to destroy this al Qaeda affiliate,” Obama said in a press conference.

Packages containing explosives were discovered in Dubai and the East Midlands airport in Britain; he said that flights in Newark and Philadelphia were checked as precautions, though he did not say anything about the commercial plane that was escorted by fighter jet to JFK. Officials said these packages originated in Yemen. Several members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have been arrested in other plots, and the U.S. donated $150 million to help Yemeni forces fight the group.

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Filed under Homeland Security, Middle East Terror Plots, President Obama, Terrorism

Flashback: Bush National Security Strategy Said We Must Be ‘Able To Absorb The Impact’ Of A Terrorist Attack

Official White House Photo of U.S. Vice Presid...

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Lately Fox News has blasted President Obama based on a revelation in Bob Woodward’s new book, where the President said that America would be able to “absorb the impact of a terrorist attack”.  Apparently the former Vice President’s daughter, Lynn Cheney is appalled at President Obama for having such a “fatalist” view of our country.

Think Progress gives us an earlier perspective on that very same topic:

In an interview with Bob Woodward earlier this year, President Obama said, “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever. … We absorbed it and we are stronger.” That confident portrayal of American resilience has been seized upon by right wing pundits. As Ken Gude notes on the Wonk Room, “conservative critics won’t tolerate this kind of reasoned leadership” from Obama. For instance, consider the following statement Liz Cheney released today:

This comment suggests an alarming fatalism on the part of President Obama and his administration. Once again the President seems either unwilling or unable to do what it takes to keep this nation safe. The President owes the American people an explanation.

Recall, Cheney’s father — the former vice president of the United States — told Meet the Press’s Tim Russert in 2002 that another terrorist attack was “almost a certainty.” He added it that it was only a matter of time before the U.S. got hit again:

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: The prospect of another attack against the United States is very, very real. It’s just as real, in my opinion, as it was September 12.

TIM RUSSERT, NBC News: Not a matter of if, but when?

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Not a matter of if, but when.

Is Liz Cheney outraged that her father stated that another terrorist attack on the homeland is a certain eventuality? She’s probably unaware that the Bush White House put out the following national security document that laid out a strategy of being “better able to absorb the impact” of a terrorist attack:

For each CI/KR [critical infrastructure and key resources] sector, we must collectively work to ensure the ability of power, communications, and other life sustaining systems to survive an attack by terrorists, a natural disaster, and other assessed risks or hazards. In the past, investments in redundant and duplicative infrastructure were used to achieve this objective. We must now focus on the resilience of the system as a whole – an approach that centers on investments that make the system better able to absorb the impact of an event without losing the capacity to function.

Perhaps Liz Cheney should demand an explanation from her father.

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Obama Relieves McChrystal Of His Duties – Patraeus Replaces McChrystal

Dave Weigel – Washington Post

Twenty-four hours ago, Weekly Standard editor-in-chief William Kristol recommended that Gen. Stanley McChrystal be removed from his role as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and be replaced by Gen. David Petraeus.

If Gen. McChrystal does step down, there are undoubtedly many able general officers who could replace him. Here’s one unconventional suggestion, though: Ask Gen. David Petraeus to give up his CENTCOM post and take command of the war in Afghanistan.

The president has now accepted McChrystal’s resignation and Petraeus is on track to take over in Afghanistan. Don’t expect the rest of Kristol’s advice (the firing of civilian ambassadors) to be adopted right now, but take note of the conservative commentary on this issue. I saw no one argue that McChrystal did not, at least, need to offer his resignation — the argument was between commentators such as Charles Krauthammer, who argued that Obama should not accept it, and commentators like Kristol, who argued for Petraeus to move in.

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Rolling Stone editor: All quotes dissing Obama admin came from McChrystal’s “inner circle”

I personally have mixed emotions about General McChrystal’s dilemma.   On the one hand, there is a consensus out there that says he’s the best man to be commander of the forces in Afghanistan.  He is a dedicated soldier who wants to “complete the mission”, even in light of the Commander-in-Chief’s plan to start phasing out troops in about one year.

I believe the stress and strain of the job may outweigh the fact that he is a consummate soldier.  One cannot be that much of a soldier and break the rules of the Military Code of Conduct.  Again, I don’t envy the POTUS.  It will be a hard decision and a tough call, whichever way he goes.

Washington Post – The Plum Line

Here’s another reason why it’s going to be very tough for Stanley McChrystal to survive tomorrow’s meeting with the President: According to Rolling Stone’s managing editor, all the quotes dissing Obama and his administration came directly from members of McChrystal’s inner circle.

That’s not too surprising, but it’s worth noting, because the article itself isn’t totally clear on where the worst quotes came from.

For instance, the “bite me” quote slamming Joe Biden, and the one hitting Middle East envoy Jim Jones as a “clown,” are both sourced to “aides.” The quote ripping Richard Holbrooke is attributed to a “member of the general’s team.” And the source for the damning assertion that McChrystal was “disappointed” by Obama is described as an “adviser.”

Those who do this stuff for a living know full well that journalists often use terms like this to describe people who are not necessarily in the loop or even close to an article’s subject at all.

But Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana tells me that all of them come from people who have been very close to McChrystal for a long time.

“These are high level people in McChrystal’s inner circle,” Dana says. “It’s a very close knit group. They see themselves as a real team. They are connected like an offensive line in a football team. These are people who have been loyal to him.”

This makes the whole mess worse. It makes it even clearer that McChrystal tolerated such a tone among his closest advisers, people who he interacted with daily. And it makes it more likely that McChrystal had a pretty clear sense of what was happening as this profile was being reported.

Dana tells me: “In the world of McChrystal it was permissible to speak that way.”

How does Obama keep him?

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Furious Obama summons McChrystal to explain W.H. slams

Politico

The top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has been summoned to the White House to explain biting and unflattering remarks he made to a freelance writer about President Barack Obama and others in the Obama administration.

 The face to face comes as pundits are already calling for McChrystal to resign for insubordination.

 McChrystal has been instructed to fly from Kabul to Washington today to attend Obama’s regular monthly security team meeting tomorrow at the White House.

An administration official says McChrystal was asked to attend in person rather than by secure video teleconference, “where he will have to explain to the Pentagon and the commander in chief his quotes about his colleagues in the piece.”

 Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have spoken with McChrystal. Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for Mullen, said “the chairman spoke to Gen. McChrystal last night and expressed his deep disappointment with the article and with the comments expressed therein.”

 McChrystal and his top aides appeared to let their guard down during a series of interviews and visits with Michael Hastings, a freelance writer for the magazine Rolling Stone.

 The article, titled “The Runaway General,” appears in the magazine later this week. It contains a number of jabs by McChrystal and his staff aimed not only at the president but also at Vice President Joe Biden, special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Karl Eikenberry, the ambassador to Afghanistan, and others.

McChrystal described his first meeting with Obama as disappointing and said that Obama was unprepared for the meeting.

 National Security Adviser Jim Jones is described by a McChrystal aide as a “clown” stuck in 1985.

 Others aides joked about Biden’s last name as sounding like “Bite me” since Biden opposed the surge.

McChrystal issued an immediate apology for the profile, advance copies of which were sent to news organizations last night.
Read more…

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Oliver Willis: Yes, Let’s Go There

Oliver Willis:

Erick Erickson, of Red State and CNN fame, links to some stories of the attempted terrorist caught by law enforcement under Obama and juxtaposes it with a comment from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer discussing Democratic toughness and performance on fighting terrorism. Hoyer says “we’ve been more successful”, and Erickson asks “Does Hoyer really want to go there?”.

Sure, why not.

The worst terrorist attack in U.S. history was presided over by a Republican president. 9/11 happened on Bush’s watch, he responded to the attack by going to war in an unrelated nation, Iraq. Thousands of Americans died via terrorism under a Republican president. More than we have ever lost.

Sure, let’s go there.

I agree with Erickson and Willis, Mr. Hoyer, by all means, “lets go there”.

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