Friday, November 21, 2014

Flip Flop? White House Concedes Obama Shift on Immigration Action

November 18, 2014

More ABC US news | ABC World News

President Obama has long declared he does not have the legal authority to do what he is about to do on immigration: bypass Congress and extend legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants through an executive order.
“I am president, I am not king. I can't do these things just by myself,” Obama said Oct. 25, 2010.
“I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed,” he declared three years later on Feb. 14, 2013.
Later that year on Sept. 17: “[I]f we start broadening that [the deferred action program for undocumented immigrant youth], then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally," he said. "So that's not an option.”
How could the president now do what he plainly said was illegal as recently as last fall?
That’s what I asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at today’s White House briefing. In what appears to be a rare acknowledgement of a presidential flip flop, Earnest explained “obviously there are some things that have changed on this.”

KARL: Does the president still stand by what he said last year when he said, quote, I am not the emperor of the United States; my job is to execute laws that are passed. Is that still operative?
MR. EARNEST: Absolutely.
KARL: He’s not a king either.
MR. EARNEST: That’s right.
KARL: Because he was asked very specifically about the idea of expanding the deferred action executive order for the dreamers to their parents. And he said Sept. 17 last year, Telemundo, very clearly, 'If we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that would make it very difficult to defend legally, so that is not an option.' Is that still operative when the president had said specifically that expanding the DACA executive order is not an option because it would be ignoring the law? Does he still believe that?
MR. EARNEST: Well, Jon, I don’t want to get ahead of what any sort of announcements that the president may make before the end of the year about executive actions that he may take to fix our broken immigration system. Since this interview aired, the president did direct the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a review of the law to determine what, if any, authority he could use to try to fix some of the problems that House Republicans have refused to address. So this is something that has been under consideration for some time by the attorney general of the United States and by the security of Homeland Security. And, you know, it --
KARL But just to be clear, so you’re saying that this is no longer operative because we’ve had a review. So when the president said that expanding DACA to apply to the parents of the dreamers, for instance, would be broadening and essentially ignoring the law in a way that would be difficult to defend legally, that it’s not an option, that statement is no longer operative?
MR. EARNEST: Well, what I’m saying is we’ll have an opportunity to evaluate the actions that the president has chosen to take after he’s announced them.
KARL: But I’m not asking about the options. I’m just saying, does the president still stand by what he said in that interview in September of last year?
MR. EARNEST: Well, Jon, there – obviously, there are some things that have changed in this. Obviously, there have – some things that have changed, right? We have been in a situation where the president has ordered a broader, in-depth review of the existing law to determine what sort of executive authority does rest with the presidency to determine what kinds of steps he could take on his own.
The other thing that we’ve seen is we’ve seen House Republicans refuse to act even on common-sense legislation that would fix so many of the problems of our broken immigration system in a way that would strengthen border security, reduce the deficit and be good for the economy.
KARL: But they had already refused to act at this point.
MR. EARNEST: Well, I guess – I guess it’s fair to say they’ve been refusing to act for quite some time. At that point it had only been a few months that they’d been refusing to act. Now it’s been almost a year and a half.


November 20, 2014
Sharyl Attkisson
Judicial Watch is looking to crowdsource the huge pile of documents finally delivered by the Obama Administration in response to their Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on Operation Fast and Furious.  (In the unlikely event the mainstream media decides not to embargo this story, I don’t want to catch any of you claiming that it was a FOIA request.  The request got ignored by the Most Transparent Administration In History, so they had to file a lawsuit.  The document production is occurring under the stern gaze of a federal judge.)
Here’s a little taste of what has already been discovered, offered by Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton as a bit of catnip for aspiring crowd-source helpers interested in searching through the 42,000 pages of documentation President Obama risibly concealed by asserting executive privilege:
We are posting these documents for the public to review and hope that crowd-sourcing our investigation will lead to more accountability for the Fast and Furious outrage.  The documents are explosive.  For instance, our initial review of the documents shows the DOJ and White House targeted then-CBS journalist Sharyl Attkisson:
On October 4, 2011, Holder’s top press aide Tracy Schmaler tells White House Deputy Press Sectary Eric Schultz, “I’m also calling Sharryl’s [sic] editor and reaching out to Scheiffer. She’s out of control.
Schultz responded, “Good.  Her piece was really bad for the AG.”
Schultz also detailed to Schmaler that he was working with a journalist (Susan Davis, formerly of the National Journal) to target Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA), the House Republican leading the charge on Fast and Furious:
“And I sent NJ’s Susan Davis your way. She’s writing on Issa/FandF and I said you could load her up on the leaks, etc.”
(Davis authored a critical profile of Issa a few weeks later.)
This one email chain implicates both the Obama White House and the Department of Justice in an effort to secretly undermine a congressional investigation and to suppress critical media reporting of the Obama administration.  No wonder Obama waited until after he was safely reelected (and even after this year’s elections) to finally release this material that documents obstruction and abuse at the highest levels.
The documents show that Obama made the extraordinary assertion of executive privilege over emails between Eric Holder and his wife, Sharon Malone.  The emails show that Holder sent his spouse internal DOJ emails about Fast and Furious developments.  There is nothing that would have been covered by executive privilege in these or other key records that show Barack Obama abused his power to keep them secret during his reelection campaign up until now.
According to Attkisson’s website archive, her last published story before the Attorney General’s press aide decided she was “out of control” on October 4, 2011 was entitled “Memos Contradict Holder on ‘Fast and Furious.’”  It was about incontrovertible proof that Holder was made aware of Operation Fast and Furious much earlier than he claimed to Congress.  Holder would later avoid perjury charges with his amazing Incompetence Defense, in which he claimed he doesn’t read his mail and didn’t see all those earlier briefings about an out-of-control program that got people killed.  I wonder if that’s the report that led his office, and the White House, to decide Attkisson was a loose cannon that needed to be more firmly lashed to the deck by her editors.  After all, the primary function of mainstream media news departments in the Obama era is to suppress news that might confuse the poor little voters.
How’s that grab you, champions of the fourth estate?  The White House teamed up with the Attorney General to take out a troublesome reporter and gin up some dirty coverage for congressional investigators.  A patently bogus claim of executive privilege was used to keep politically-damaging documents under wraps until the President was safely beyond the reach of irate voters.  You’d have been totally cool with Richard Nixon doing something like this, right?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bruce Springsteen Launches Archival Concert Download Service

BY  | 

This week, it went from the drawing board to reality with the launch of The site is offering downloads of most shows from the 2014 High Hopes Tour, a complete performance of Born To Run from a recent show in New Zealand and, in the first volume of their archival series, the launch of the Wrecking Ball tour at New York's Apollo Theater on March 9th, 2012. The shows are available via MP3 ($9.95), lossless ($12.95), HD-Audio ($19.95) and CD ($23).

This new live series was put together by, an organization that's previously worked with Pearl Jam, Phish and Metallica on their own live downloads. In an interview with Backstreets, the site's founder and CEO Brad Sterling said he initially reached out to Springsteen's camp in 2009 and got turned down, but when he tried again this year, they were suddenly interested. It turns out that Springsteen changed his mind when he realized just how many of his shows were available on YouTube.

"He was like, 'We can do better than this. We own the masters!" said Sterling.  "What's great is, he wasn't saying, 'Fuck those guys. Take that stuff down. Screw YouTube.' It was, 'If this is happening, we should be doing it officially.'"

The archive series may be starting with a relatively recent show, but expect them to dig deeper into Springsteen's history with future releases. "It's very exciting to think about the different eras that will be covered," said Sterling. "And what's really interesting is where the tapes are coming from. What's in the vault; what isn't. Not all of it is in their archives, so they are sourcing material now."

Future plans are vague, but Sterling indicated they are likely to offer famous 1970s shows that have circulated for decades. Those will presumably include Philadelphia 2/5/75Passaic, NJ 9/19/78 and San Francisco 12/15/78. While most shows will likely be sourced from soundboard tapes, multi-track tapes and radio broadcasts, Sterling indicated that audience tapes have been used on past projects and they might be used again at some point for a Springsteen release.

It's also possible the series will release music that predates Springsteen's 1973 debut album. "I had a whole other career as a heavy-metal guitarist that never came out on record anywhere," he said earlier this year when asked about the possibility of releasing archival material. "There's tons of music. I never close the door on any of it."

In addition to concert recordings, the new website also offers high-resolution downloads of every album in Springsteen's catalog.

Today's Tune: Bruce Springsteen - Outlaw Pete (Live 2009)

Bruce Springsteen on ‘Outlaw Pete’ and not sheltering kids from the realities of life

November 3, 2014
Bruce Springsteen has expanded his portfolio to include a new picture book — possibly suitable for children. (Kevin Winter/Getty)
With the publication of his not-quite-for-children children’s book, “Outlaw Pete,” Bruce Springsteen has surprised even himself. Writing such a book “was the last thing I saw coming,” he says, never mind the many other rock stars who have delved into the children’s section lately — including, most recently, Keith Richards with “Gus & Me.”
The Boss says “there’s no grand plan behind this.” Still, he admits publishing the book, inspired by his song of the same name, is a kick, and in a phone interview joked, “maybe I’ll have a whole series now.”
Despite the many Springsteen songs that might make a good children’s story — he admits that “Blinded by the Light,” with its antic rhymes, “would be fun to read” — this book is not the first of a series. “Outlaw Pete,” which comes out Tuesday, was a bit of a lark, and, he writes in the afterword, “I’m not sure this is a children’s book.”
Indeed, the book deals with some heavy themes — death, violence and abandonment among them — and does not sugarcoat them. The book’s illustrations, by cartoonist Frank Caruso, include vivid scenes of a knife fight and a man lying dead in a pool of blood.
Essentially an illustrated version of the song from his 2009 album “Working on a Dream,” the 50-page picture book begins with Pete, as a 6-month-old, robbing a bank and follows him through the course of a life as “an outlaw killer and a thief.” Wherever he goes, “women wept and men died.” About midway through the story, Pete seeks redemption, marrying a Navajo girl and having a child.
But for him there is no escape from who he is — “I’m Outlaw Pete” is the refrain he repeats more fervently as the book moves into its dark second half. A bounty hunter comes to remind him, “you think you’ve changed but you have not.” And to prove the point, Pete kills him. “We cannot undo these things we’ve done” are the man’s final words. Pete rides off into the proverbial sunset — in this case an icy ledge — into legend, a bereft young girl calling out after him: “Outlaw Pete! Outlaw Pete! Can you hear me? Can you hear me?”
The story, Springsteen writes in the afterword, “is not easy.” But, he adds “I believe children instinctively understand passion and tragedy. And a 6-month-old, bank-robbing baby is a pretty good protagonist.”
On the phone, he describes the book as a cross between the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone and “Goodnight Moon,” a favorite book of his three children, Evan, Jessica and Sam, who are in their 20s.
“The characters are outlandish. They’re not real. They’re mythical. The tale is a fable,” he says. And while it has an admittedly a challenging lesson “about the difficulty of redemption,” this shouldn’t scare off kids — or their parents.
“If ‘Bambi’ is for kids, this is fine,” he says. “If ‘Lion King’ is for kids, this will be fine also.”
“The act of growing up is filled with so much raw passion and tragedy that they can’t escape it,” he says. “Children’s lives revolve around these things, and as parents we do our best to guide them through these things, but we can’t protect them from occurring.”
As a friend once told him, he recalls, “Parents give their kids the best they have to offer, and the world takes care of the rest. There’s no escaping from the blues or whatever you want to call it.”
Springsteen had no plans to make a book — children’s or otherwise — out of the song until he heard from Caruso. The cartoonist was immediately drawn to the dark tale when he first heard the song version in 2009.
“I stopped what I was doing and thought it was like a story being read to me,” Caruso says. “Everyone’s got to be seeing this.”
He made some pencil sketches and presented them to Springsteen and Caruso’s mutual friend, music critic Dave Marsh. About a year and a half later, Caruso got a call out of the blue one Sunday morning from Springsteen, who was excited about the project. “This was the first time anyone has approached me to do a book of this kind,” Springsteen says.
The collaboration went smoothly, according to both the writer and the illustrator, with about three or four dummy copies of the book passing back and forth between them. “He dug the pencil drawings,” Caruso says of Springsteen. “It was just a matter of tweaking a color to get the right emotion.”
On the eve of the book’s publication, Springsteen says he feels the work has a universal appeal.
“It’s a very human story,” he says. “We start carrying some of the baggage of our past as small children. And then at some point we either try to sort it out or outrun it. You can’t outrun it, which is what this character tries to do. And it’s very difficult to sort it out. But it’s the only way to go.”

'The Burning Room' and Bosch: A Talk With Michael Connelly

November 3, 2014
Michael Connelly is the award-winning bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Harry Bosch detective series and the Mickey Haller novels.
His latest Harry Bosch novel, The Burning Room, has Bosch setting his sights on a cold case that began a decade earlier when the victim was shot. With the victim having just died, the act is now considered murder, even though the case is ten years old. Bosch has been assigned a new partner, rookie detective Lucia Soto, and with retirement just around the corner, Harry does his best to teach Lucia the ropes of detective work and solve this ten-year-old case.
Harry Bosch is nearing the end of his career. Is this the last novel in which we will see him?
No. I think developments in the The Burning Room give me some opportunities to take Harry in a new direction.
Will we now also be following Lucia Soto's career?
I really like her and will bring her back. I always ask myself if I've said all I want to about a character, and with Lucy, the answer is no. There's unfinished business with her. She and Harry connect with each other as dedicated detectives. That was one aspect I really liked about her.
Bosch is a police procedural television series produced by Amazon Studios and scheduled for release in 2015. How did this project happen?
Harry's had a checkered history when it comes to Hollywood. Early on, there was interest in him. I sold the rights for a film in the 1990s. It was a long-term deal. Even though nothing came of it, I don't regret it, because it was Hollywood money that permitted me to become a full-time writer. It allowed me to focus on Bosch's character in the books, which is a big part of why I'm still able to write about him. It was something of a deal with the devil, but I would do it again.
Years went by, and I finally got the rights back. By that time, I'd written many books about Harry Bosch. It seemed clear that if I went back to Hollywood, the best way to tell the story would be in a television series. You know, in Hollywood, word leaks out and Amazon came calling. A partnership was formed. From my standpoint, it was easy and painless. I wasn't drifting around Hollywood, trying to sell Harry Bosch. It all kind of fell in my lap.
Beyond the connection to book-selling, Amazon wanted me involved in the TV series. That's quite unusual in Hollywood. Normally, they take a book and say, "Be a good little fella and run along. We'll take care of this." But Amazon wanted my involvement to help nurture the visual recreation of the character with whom I'd spent twenty years of my life. The prospect of participating was very attractive to me, and it was a no-brainer. The first season of Bosch will be ten episodes which can be streamed on television. It will premiere in February of 2015. It'll be a binger's delight, filled with Harry Bosch.
What's your involvement in the television series?
I co-wrote the pilot with the show-runner. In television, the show-runner is the creative boss. I don't have experience with television, so we wanted to get someone who did and whose creative mindset was similar to mine. We went to Eric Overmyer, who'd worked on The Wire and Treme, and who's worked on other shows I've loved. So, he's the boss -- the show-runner. I'm his lieutenant. He runs stuff by me to get my take and make sure we're on point with Harry Bosch's stories.
Harry Bosch is played very effectively by Titus Welliver. I don't recall elaborate physical descriptions of Harry in the novels. How do you feel about this physical representation of Bosch?
First of all, you're right. There are nineteen Harry Bosh books, and someone told me if you add up the descriptions of Harry from all of them, it would come to less than three pages. He's very elliptically described over the two decades during which the novels occur. I did that by intention. I write the way I read. I like to imagine and build characters in my head. I trust the readers to build their own visual images. To me, that's part of the wonder of reading.
But with television, we have to apply flesh and blood to the character. I'm glad I had a say in the decision about depicting Harry on the screen. I'd seen Titus Welliver in a few shows and felt he had some inner demons in his portrayals, as does Harry Bosch. That's a key trait for Harry. The few physical descriptions of Harry in the books are mere window dressing. The real challenge is for an actor to portray a guy with the inner demons of Harry Bosch. In Titus, I saw the ability to do that. After all the auditions, we decided to go with Titus, and I'm very happy with him. We're six episodes into the filming of the first season, and Titus really owns that part.
In the pilot, I noticed flashbacks implying that as a kid, Harry was beaten and abused. I don't recall that from the novels.
The novels don't hit it on the head as much as the pilot does, but they do contain references to Harry's growing up in foster homes. It can be inferred that there was physical abuse in his childhood. In writing on the page, you can be a bit elliptical, but on TV, you can't dance around stuff. You either show it or you don't. We decided to show it in the series.
In the shift from page to screen, were there any important changes made to Harry Bosch and his world?
Yes. Basically, the novels provide a twenty-year palate from which to choose. In the books, Harry ages in real time. If we're lucky and have a successful show, we might have a five- or six-year run. We have more information in the books than we need. We're picking and choosing what we want for the series. For example, the books begin in 1992 with Harry being forty-two years old. In The Burning Room, he's sixty-four. He has a seventeen-year-old daughter in the book. In the show, Harry's forty-eight and has a thirteen-year-old daughter. We move in time for what we need. The first season of the series hits heavily on two books and touches lightly on a third book. To develop the best first season possible, we take a bit from here and there in the novels. And we can create new stuff with our cadre of writers. So we're not going to have a rigorous adaptation of the books. We're using the novel City of Bones as the mainstay for the first season. That story is the ninth or tenth in the Bosch series, so we're not conforming to the order in which the novels were written. We chose the story for the first season that we thought best showed what Harry Bosch is all about, what draws out his inner demons.
Will Harry age in real time, assuming the series continues for six years?
Yes, he will, because Titus will age. [Laughter.] But it's a smaller microcosm. My books are always set in the year they're published, even in the month they're published. Every subsequent novel involves Harry one year later. With television, it might not be that linear. In fact, we incorporated some later books into this first season in order to transition right into season two and hit the ground running.
I understand you're participating in writing the TV series. As a seasoned novelist, how does co-writing screenplays differ from writing novels?
It's hugely different on at least two levels. The first is what you lose when you go from writing novels to writing for television. In the books, Harry's a very internal guy. One reason he's been around for twenty years is that people like the way he thinks. In a television depiction, you can't go inside his head as you can with a novel. Everything on TV is about what he says and does, which is how a viewer determines whether or not he's likable. I think Harry has a kind of "Everyman's" sensibility with which people connect. In the books, it comes out in his thinking process, but with television, it's really all about what he says and does. That's a big transition for me.
The other aspect is for twenty-five years I've been in a room by myself, writing these books. Of course, I get edited when I turn a book in, but for the year during which I'm writing, it's me against the machine. For the television series, I'm in a room with writers, and all four walls are covered with 3-by-5 cards showing every scene from each episode. It's very much committee work until everything's nailed down and plotted out. Then, different scripts are assigned to various writers who go off and work on those episodes. It's very different from the way I write. I don't even use an outline. Now I can go into a room and see every act and each beat of a scene, an episode, or the entire season right there on the wall. By the time I go off to write a script on my own, I pretty much know everything.
How are you adapting to this sea change in circumstances?
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but for me, it's been a real breath of fresh air. I feel that after twenty-five years in a room by myself, I'm now writing differently. I'm having a great time with it. I think it's going to carry through in my writing future books.
In the pilot episode, Harry seems to be a more edgy guy than in the novels. Was that done as a concession to today's TV audience?
In writing a book, you have to connect quickly with your readers. You also have to instill a momentum in your story. In TV, you have to hit the ground running because there's so much else going on. You're right, in the TV series, Harry's edgier than in the books. This was our choice. We chose a story we knew would have Harry connecting with a case at the very beginning of the series. When a homicide detective gets involved with a case that resonates with his own past -- that taps into his inner demons -- he's going to be more on edge because he really wants to find who did this.
Dumb question: In The Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller is driven around in a 1986 Lincoln town car. In the pilot episode of Bosch, Harry drives around in an old-model Cadillac. Does this reflect your preferences in cars?
No, but I do like the idea of wisdom coming from experience and age. In the opening scene of the pilot, Bosch is sitting in an undercover car -- that old Cadillac. I didn't choose the vehicle; a props person did. But I'll take your question further and say that Harry would never drive a sports car. He'd drive an old, reliable machine.
How do you now apportion your writing time while working on a novel and television series?
I don't know if it's going to work; we'll have to see. The production company knows my priority is writing books. When we went into pre-production, I wasn't around a lot and was able to finish The Burning Room. When we started production, I was totally dedicated to the series. We'll finish the last episode of the season before Thanksgiving, and after that, I'll be starting my next book. So I'm hoping things won't interfere with each other.
So will the next book be a Harry Bosch or Mickey Haller novel?
Right now, I believe it will be both. The story will have Bosh, Haller, and Lucia Soto in it. But as I said before, I don't outline. Right now, I have an idea for the novel but won't begin writing until December, so who knows what will come of it? Things change, and I might get hit by the lightening of another idea and just go with that.
Mickey Haller is my favorite fictional character. Is another Mickey Haller novel coming?
I think what you connect with is that Mickey's more of an outsider. Harry carries a badge and represents the state, but Mickey's outside that rarefied coterie. In some respects, he's almost an outcast, and that can make him very likable. Recently, I've found myself more fascinated by Mickey's stories, and I want to get back to him.
I don't know how long I'm going to keep writing, but I see my writing life as orbiting around Harry. There's still a great deal more I can say about him. When I look back at the nineteen Bosch books, at about every sixth one, a curve ball comes that resuscitates and sustains the series. I think that happened with The Burning Room. So I'm excited about the possibilities for Harry Bosch's next decade.
Congratulations on another Harry Bosch novel, The Burning Room, and a television series that's sure to be a streaming blockbuster and TV binger's delight.
Mark Rubinstein is the author of Mad Dog HouseMad Dog Justice and Love Gone Mad.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why the World Did Not Know about WMD in Iraq

Posted By Carter Andress On November 19, 2014 @ 12:51 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 2 Comments

The yellow cake was found in Iraq in 2003, shortly after a US-led invasion of the country [AP]

After U.S. Central Command called on us to help transport from Iraq enough yellowcake uranium to make several atomic bombs stored at Saddam’s nuclear weapons complex, I realized why neither the Pentagon nor the White House advertised the presence of this WMD precursor: safety and security.

Before the U.S. military moved in to secure the facility after the 2003 invasion, looters had been there first. Even though the universally recognized yellow-and-black radioactivity warnings were posted on the bunkers, locals had ripped open the storage areas and stolen casks of yellowcake with many sickened as a result. More importantly, we did not want the insurgents alerted to the exposed stockpile as they might attack the facility. This is also why the George W. Bush administration did not crow about the approximately 5,000 chemical munitions that U.S. forces uncovered throughout Iraq, as recently reported by the New York Times. That is a serious quantity of WMD, by any standard. Interestingly, the Bush team could have diluted near-uniform shock at the failure to find WMD by highlighting these discoveries instead of allowing the narrative we all know to solidify: “no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq found except a few dozen old, mustard-gas artillery shells left over from the 1980s Iran-Iraq War.” Yet President Bush and his advisors chose to protect the troops and the mission rather than score political points back on the war’s second front, the American body politic. (None of this, however, mitigates any unpreparedness by the Pentagon to treat service members exposed to chemical weapons.)

Before my company arrived to provide guards and to build and operate a base camp for U.S. Department of Energy scientists dissecting Saddam’s nuclear weapons facility, the American Army had occupied the site with almost a company of infantry. This was quite a bit of combat power tethered to a non-populated, static location when needed to actively defend the people against the elusive al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists and Iranian-allied militias rampant until early 2008 when the American Surge forces and the Sunni Arab “Awakening” had turned the tide delivering our victory in the Iraq War. The limited number of combat troops available did not permit fixing them at every site where WMD were found or might be found. Hence the requirement to not advertise that Saddam had left thousands of chemical weapons lying around, potentially under any mound in mostly flat Iraq. That would have set off a dangerous treasure hunt—and if found, a tremendous threat to American troops and everyone in Iraq especially if weaponized nerve gas had ended up with al-Qaeda.

We were able to move the yellowcake successfully because of our proven relationships with the tribes along our supply line to the nuclear weapons facility, located at the center of an area known as the “Triangle of Death,” due to extensive U.S. combat fatalities suffered there. Because of our and other U.S. government contractors’ employment of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, we helped drain the swamp (or “sea” in Maoist terms) whence the al-Qaeda insurgency sprung. The uranium operation caused us, as usual, to rent trucks from the surrounding tribes with comprehensive war-loss insurance (meaning if a truck got blown up then the owner took the loss). This in turn caused the tribes to look outwards on the convoy movements to protect their expensive tractor trailers instead of inwards—searching for a chance to attack. Doing business for the tribes with the American government, and then the Iraqi government, turned out to be safer than supporting the nihilistic, totalitarian jihadis and the traitorous Sadrists, minions of Iran.

Regardless of what position one takes on the U.S. invasion, the world could not abide by large quantities of nuclear weapons precursor in the hands of the genocidal tyrant in Baghdad. As we are seeing with the current, seemingly endless negotiations with Iran, the millionaire mullahs of Tehran are using the pretext of “peaceful” nuclear power generation in order to assert that the denial thereof is a direct assault on a nation’s sovereignty. Consequently, the concept that we could have gotten the yellowcake removed from Iraq as a part of lifting the rapidly degrading sanctions and truly certifying the country clean of all chemical weapons without the overthrow of Saddam defies logic and experience. The continued possession by Iraq of approximately 5,000 chemical warheads undiscovered after almost eight years of aggressive UN inspections along with the existence of enough yellowcake uranium to make 14 or so nuclear bombs with technology that the Iranians and Libyans already possessed calls for a new coda to replace “Bush lied, people died.” Certainly, we should look to the reinstatement of a principle justification for the American invasion of Iraq.

Carter Andress is president of AISG, Inc. (American-Iraqi Solutions Group) and the author, with Malcolm McConnell, of Victory Undone: The Defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Its Resurrection as ISIS (Regnery, October 2014).    

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Christa Harmotto returns to Hopewell with a new kind of medal

U.S. Olympic silver medalist Christa Harmotto Dietzan appeared at Hopewell High School on Wednesday for a Q&A session and autograph signing.

HOPEWELL TWP. -- Ten years ago, Christa Harmotto brought gold medals back to Hopewell High School from both the WPIAL and PIAA Volleyball championships.

When she returned Tuesday night, she brought a different gold medal back – one from the world championships that she won as a member of the US National Team.
“After winning those gold medals in high school, I had no idea how far my career would have gone,” said Christa, who also brought a new last name back to Hopewell. After her recent marriage, she is now Christa Harmotto Dietzen. “I knew I was going to college but I didn’t know about anything beyond that.
“Wherever I’ve gone, I’ve been thankful for the support of everyone who has helped me along the way.”
Along the way, Christa has built on the three WPIAL and one PIAA titles from Hopewell, winning two national titles at Penn State and while being named an All-American four times while there, and won a silver medal as a member of the 2012 Olympic team.
Before talking to local volleyball players for an hour about setting goals and values, Hopewell gave Harmotto Dietzen another honor – her number 20 was retired with a plaque to go alongside other Hopewell greats such as Tony Dorsett and Joe Colella in the Hopewell lobby.
“I didn’t know that was going to happen,” said Harmotto Dietzen. “My roots mean so much to me. They’ve been so important in making me the person I am, that blue collar work ethic and the values that were instilled in me.”
Harmotto Dietzen reflected those values in the hour she spent talking to the student-athletes in attendance. There were no volleyball strategies discussed and no plays diagrammed. The only volleyballs in the gym were ones students (and coaches) brought to be signed.
She told the crowd to set goals but expect peaks and valleys – growth happens in the valleys. She told the crowd that she was thankful for her injuries because they made her mentally stronger and how the rehab made her even better at time management.
She told the crowd that no matter where she played and no matter how big the event, the court was always the same size she played on at Hopewell and the ball was the same size, so to filter through all the other distractions and to focus on that.
“I’ve wanted to do something like this, to talk to student-athletes on their level,” Harmotto Dietzen said. “I’ve done Q&A sessions with club teams before in southern California but I appreciate the boosters setting this up so I could share about goals, values, and leadership.”
Considering that volleyball has taken her to the highest level of her sport and sent her all over the world, some may have found it surprising that Christa was adamant that the student-athletes not just focus on one sport but to play as many different sports as possible, to avoid burnout both physically and mentally.
“I played all the sports, I played soccer, I was in gymnastics until I got too tall for it, and I played basketball,” she shared after the program. “I loved basketball and I can remember how tough it was to give up basketball before my junior year. It was my first major decision and my parents were out of town and I can remember calling and telling them.
“I had just reached the point where I felt I had to make a decision to concentrate on the US junior national team. It was a really difficult decision.’
The decision, though, has worked out, obviously, very well, and it doesn’t look like the end to its effect is near.
“Yes, there is another Olympics (2016) in my plan,” Harmotto Dietzen said with a smile. “After that, we’ll see. Mr. Borkovic (her high school coach, Terry Borkovic) asked me if I’d ever get into coaching and I had to say yes.
“I can’t imagine ever dropping out of volleyball.”
For good reason – it’s been an amazing 10 years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More Beheadings, More Denial

Posted By Robert Spencer On November 18, 2014 @ 12:55 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 16 Comments

All you have to do is change the name of the victim, and this could be a story from August, or September, or October: the Islamic State has beheaded yet another hostage, this time Peter Kassig, aka Abdul-Rahman Kassig, and Barack Obama has declared yet again that the beheading has nothing to do with Islam. Obama might as well have a form ready for the next jihad beheading or mass murder attack: all he will have to do is fill in the blank and then take to the airwaves to say that the latest bloodshed has nothing to do with Islam. If the victims are British, he can lend his form to David Cameron.

But all this repeating of the political elites’ “Islam is peace” meme will never make it so. And the constant repetition of this falsehood is doing nothing less than endangering Americans. It keeps people ignorant who might otherwise get a clear idea of the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat. It fosters complacency. It makes all too many Americans assume that this kind of behavior is restricted to the “extremists” of the Islamic State, and could never happen here.

It could happen here. It could happen anywhere that people read the phrase “when you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks” (Qur’an 47:4) as if it were a command of the Creator of the Universe. But to point out that simple and obvious fact nowadays only brings down upon one’s head charges of “hatred” and of “demonizing all Muslims,” when in a sane society it would bring honest explanations from Muslims of good will of what they were doing to ensure that no Muslim ever acted on that verse’s literal meaning.

In reality, they’re doing nothing. No Muslim organization, mosque or school in the United States has any program to teach young Muslims and converts to Islam why they should avoid and reject on Islamic grounds the vision of Islam – and of unbelievers – that the Islamic State and other jihad groups offer them. This is extremely strange, given the fact that all the Muslim organizations, mosques and schools in the United States ostensibly reject this understanding of Islam. And even stranger is that no American authorities seem to have noticed the absence of such initiatives, much less dared to call out Muslim groups about this.

On the contrary, instead of calling on Muslim groups to take some action to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future, Obama’s latest denial was even more strenuous in its dissociation of the beheading from Islam: “ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own.”

“Least of all”! As if it were possible that the Islamic State’s actions represented Buddhism, or Methodism, or Christian Science, or the Hardshell Baptists, or the Mandaeans, to greater or lesser degrees, but the most far-fetched association one could make, out of all the myriad faiths people hold throughout the world, would be to associate the Islamic State’s actions with…Islam. The Islamic State’s actions represent no faith, least of all Islam – as if it were more likely that the Islamic State were made up of Presbyterians or Lubavitcher Hasidim or Jains or Smartas than that it were made up of Muslims.

Why do not just some, but all of the political leaders in Western countries cling to this outlandish fiction? Because reality indicts them. Not only do they insist that Islam is a religion of peace despite an ever-growing mountain of evidence to the contrary; they have made that falsehood a cornerstone of numerous policies. They have encouraged mass immigration and refugee resettlement from Muslim countries, without even making an attempt to determine whether or not any of the people they were importing had any connections to or sympathies with jihad groups.
Their governments have for years partnered with and collaborated with groups with proven ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. They have favored and aided the Brotherhood and groups like it to attain power in the Middle East and North Africa, deeming them “moderate” because they claimed to eschew violence, and blithely ignoring that their goals were the same as those of groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

If Barack Obama or David Cameron admitted that Islam was not a religion of peace, all these disastrous policies and others would be called into question. Cameron’s government might, quite deservedly, fall, and Obama’s would be crippled.

However, the primary reason why Obama and his cohorts continue to stand athwart the pile of beheaded bodies shouting that Islam is a religion of peace is because if they didn’t, the mainstream media – following its own policies as delineated by the Society of Professional Journalists – would immediately denounce them as “racists,” “bigots,” and “Islamophobes,” and their career not just as politicians but as respectable people would be over. It’s not that bad, you say? Just look at how the sharks are circling Bill Maher and tell me that.

Nonetheless, the Big Lie, however ascendant it may be today, is foredoomed. The fact that it is repeated, and must be repeated, so often is evidence of that. No one has to run around insisting that Christianity is a religion of peace, because Christian leaders are reacting to the escalating Muslim persecution of their brethren by opening up their churches to Muslim prayer and muting their criticism of that persecution out of deference to their Muslim “dialogue” partners. If anything says “religion of peace,” it’s Christians forcibly ejecting a Christian woman from a Christian cathedral for proclaiming Christ, so that Muslims could deny him there.

“Religion of abject surrender” might be more apt, but in any case, no one thinks contemporary Christianity is a religion of war. All too many Muslims worldwide, however, energetically go about illustrating every day that Islam is not a religion of peace, and so they keep Obama’s printer busy turning out denial forms, ready for him to fill in the blanks with the name of the next victim: “The murder of _________ has nothing whatsoever to do with the great religion of Islam…”

But this is a counsel of despair. The truth will get out; indeed, it is already abundantly out. We can only hope that not too many more will have to feel the blade at their necks before Obama and the rest can no longer avoid taking realistic and effective action.

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