Is it Worse if Obama Knew or Didn’t Know About Merkel Spying?

Merkel and Obama

As is always the case with political scandals, we have two conflicting reports. On one hand, you have an anonymous National Security Agency official saying that US President Barack Obama was briefed on the spying efforts against 35 world leaders and allowed it to continue. The response from the NSA is that he was told a short time ago and had the operations ceased. Neither option is good for the President or the United States.

According to Fox News:

The Economic Times writes the “high-ranking” NSA official spoke to Bild am Sonntag on the condition of anonymity, saying the president, “not only did not stop the operation, but he also ordered it to continue.”

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The account suggests President Barack Obama went nearly five years without knowing his own spies were bugging the phones of world leaders. Officials said the NSA has so many eavesdropping operations under way that it wouldn’t have been practical to brief him on all of them.

If one were to apply logic, it could be assumed that operations that included illegal tapping the communications of important world leaders, including allies, would not be “lost in the mix” and avoid the President’s attention, in which case he has known about it for a while and allowed it to continue. There is, of course, the possibility that logic was defied once again in Washington DC, in which case he did not know that his spy agency was listening in on conversations (some of which could have been with him) and that he really has completely lost control of the people charged with keeping the country safe.

It’s a tough call as to which is worse. Is he devious or impotent? If he knew about it, he’s not the transparent president that his voters thought they were getting. If he didn’t know about it, he’s not the competent president that his voters thought they were getting. Either way, either his actions or his ignorance have truly cost the country a big chunk of the waning credibility that we have with the international community.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Is This Edward Snowden Shopping for Groceries in Russia?

Edward Snowden in Russia

The Russian news site Life News has published a picture of who they report to be NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Here is the roughly (and poorly) translated report:

Former U.S. intelligence officer Edward Snowden is indeed in Russia. Available Life News was made ​​in Moscow, a unique photo fugitive programmer .

It is evident that the American otovarilas in one of the supermarkets: Snowden quietly goes with shopping carts and more like a Muscovite than the man being hunted U.S. intelligence services .

Unfortunately, the number of the machine, which is suitable for Snowden, visible not very good and it is difficult to determine in which region it is registered. But it is obvious that this is a Russian number.

As can be seen, a former intelligence officer for the American tradition scored a cart full of products – goods are clearly not in one thousand rubles.

It should also be noted that the Russian traffic rules Snowden does not comply with: somewhere behind him is a zebra , and he crosses the street in the wrong place.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Obama Disables AMBER Alert Website, Leaves Michelle O’s Exercise Website Intact

AMBER Alert

I have to admit that I’m not one of those who gets outraged over things such as national parks or monuments being shut down. Don’t get me wrong – I understand their importance – but it’s not high on my list of “essential government functions” that should be immune to a shutdown.

When AMBERAlert.gov is on the list of websites that the Obama administration wants to use to leverage for political purposes, they’ve gone too far.

There are those who would blame Congress for the shutdown and they might be right. However, the ultimate decision on what gets shut down and what stays open is ultimately the choice of the executive branch. Case in point – they decided to keep Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” website up instead of the AMBER Alert website.

AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert is a child abduction alert system that, despite the acronym, was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old who was abducted and murdered.

The secondary .com site is still active, but if people use Google to search for “Amber Alert”, it’s the shut down .gov site that appears at the top. This is the most common method that people would use to get to the website if they are looking for information about abducted children.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Don’t Trust Iran

Ayatollah Khamenei

It’s a simple answer to an extremely complex situation. The world in general wants Iran to come to the table and truly negotiate to rejoin the world and cease their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that this can really happen.

While President Hassan Rouhani is making positive overtures towards the west, even accepting a call from US President Barack Obama, the real seat of power lies with the Ayatollah Khamenei. The man that continues to call America the “great satan” and Israel the “little satan” has been hoping for all of his 24 years as Supreme Leader of Iran to have access to nuclear weapons. As close as he finally is to realizing his dream, it is hard to believe that this could possibly end well.

Even in light of the positives associated with the new president, the Ayatollah was still not pleased with the situation with America.

“We are pessimistic about Americans and have no trust in them. The American government is untrustworthy, disloyal, considers itself superior and breaks its promises,” he said.

The upcoming talks are a way to try to make just enough promises in order to have sanctions lifted. That’s it. Regardless of what is promised, they will not abandon their nuclear weapon project. They will just do what they can to make it harder to find. They know that the United States will not act in a military manner and they know that it will be hard for Israel to act alone. Knowing this, they have nothing to lose. The worst that they can perceive happening if they go back on whatever agreement they make concerning these weapons is that the sanctions will be imposed again.

Here’s my commentary on the situation:

Enhanced by Zemanta

What the US Government Can Learn from Israel About Budgeting

Netanyahu Face the Nation

This morning on Face the Nation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a lot to say about Iran and the potential for lifting sanctions without a firm agreement in place about nuclear weapons. That was standard an expected, but he did have one sound byte regarding the budget that’s worthy of discussion.

The concept is pretty simple:

“We introduced one change. If you don’t get a budget by the end of the year, an automatic budget goes into place, 1/12th each month of last year’s budget. If you don’t get a budget within six months, you go to elections. Guess what, Bob – we always get a budget.”

When American jobs are at stake, there are roadblocks, leveraging of positions, a mad blitz in the press, and petty bickering. When the politicians’ jobs are at stake, the situation would likely be remedied quickly. If the US government took a cue from our allies in the Middle East, perhaps there wouldn’t be hundreds of thousands of Americans not working, children not getting their clinical trials for cancer, and national parks closed.

Just a thought.

Enhanced by Zemanta

SEALs Raid Leader of Group Responsible for Nairobi Mall Attack

Nairobi Shopping Mall Attack

A Navy SEAL team raided the villa where a senior leader of the Al-Shabaab Islamic militant group is believed to have been. The Somali installation is in the town of Baraawe. The leader is believed to have been killed but they were unable to confirm due to heavy fighting that some reports put at over an hour.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the Nairobi shopping mall attack that left 60 killed.

This is the first major operating the United States has performed in Somalia in four years. The Somali government was informed prior to the attack.

U.S. Navy SEALs carried out a daring predawn raid Saturday on the Somali seaside home of a leader of the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab, U.S. officials said, an operation that suggests how worried Washington has become about the threat posed by a group that recently carried out an attack on a shopping mall in neighboring Kenya.

Read More: Washington Post

Enhanced by Zemanta

Krauthammer is Right About Poor Republican Strategy

Krauthammer

The good news is that  Republicans in Congress are finally starting to stand up and demonstrate the conservative principles that guided the party until the mid- to late-90s. The bad news is that they handled this situation like silly schoolboys too shy to make the right move at the right time, so they botched it mightily when they finally asked a girl to dance.

They could have, should have, been courting the American people over the debt ceiling. The upcoming debate already has most Americans believing that the government should not continue to raise the debt ceiling whether Obamacare defunding is attached or not. Had they used this popularity as leverage to make a win out of the eventual backwards step of raising the debt ceiling once again, the American people would have heralded it as a properly played political move and would have participated in having action taken. Instead, the Republicans shot their argument out there prematurely over and are now faced with a lose-lose situation.

The longer they keep going with the government shutdown, the more they’ll lose. The moment they relent (and they will relent) is the moment that the White House wins.

This whole situation was handled about as poorly as the last presidential election campaign. Here’s the video:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Undocumented Driver’s Licenses: For Illegal Immigrants, the Law Isn’t Really Law Unless it Helps Them

Illegal Immigrants

California legislators are sending a clear message. It isn’t just okay to cross the border illegally and to usurp the law, hurt the US economy, and cause racial tension. The message from the lawmakers is that if you do break the law and cross the border to become an “undocumented” portion of America, they’ll protect you on the street.

The message is most clear in this statement in the article from the Sacbee:

By extending licenses to undocumented immigrants, Alejo said, California would open a legal umbrella for everyone on the road to prevent situations in which immigrants face arrest, heavy fines and car impoundment when they are pulled over.

The article details how the California State Legislation has passed a measure to allow driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. The extension of the message that they are sending is that as long as you can make it over the border, you’ll be fine. No need to worry about American law enforcement. They can’t do anything to you even if they pull you over.

Illegal immigrants have broken the law by crossing the border illegally. The very idea that they should be protected from arrest for any reason including driving a car is absolutely insane.

If an American citizen breaks the law, they can be arrested under any circumstance. If someone who is not supposed to be in the country breaks the law, they are protected. What sort of backwards society are we heading towards?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Where Will Syria Sit in Obama’s Historical Legacy

Obama's Legacy

To date, President Barack Obama’s greatest foreign relations claims to fame are the killing of Osama bin Laden and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The former was a great accomplishment, albeit a combined effort over the years by the intelligence communities of his and the former administration. The latter was earned before any action was actually taken by the president.

Since then, it has gone down hill. Gitmo is still around. Afghanistan is in worse shape than it was. Iraq is in worse shape than it was. Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia have relationships with the United States that are more strained than they’ve been in decades.

Syria was an opportunity for the President to leave a mark. It came at a time when the United States and the rest of the world is war-fatigued, making decisive action a challenge for the president who had drawn a red line. When that line was crossed, he was unable to react appropriately. The “appropriate” reaction is up for debate, but one thing is clear – his actions so far have been hesitant, have changed mercurially, and have yielded no results.

If he does attack, how will the world react? What will be the results in Syria? What will be the responses from Russia, Iran, and Syria itself?

If he does not attack, he will go down in history as drawing a line that a foreign country crossed, them backtracking on this line and failing to act decisively.

This is not a good situation for the president’s legacy, something that has been shown to be extremely important to him. His actions are those of a man that is trying to be more than just the first minority president. He wants to be remembered for being a great president. At the end of the, bin Laden and Obamacare may be his only claims to fame in a time when the administration has simply not been able to accomplish much at all.

With Obamacare on a trajectory course towards disaster, is it too early to say that this will be the worst two-term president in history? That’s always hard to say considering that we may have just had the worst one in the last administration, but Obama’s making a very convincing case.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Diplomats Walking on Eggshells Over Syria

Kerry Lavrov

Something needs to be done about Syria. Nobody disagrees with that. The points of contention being discussed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as the rest of the world centers around how the response should be delivered.

Is it a strong condemnation over the use of chemical weapons? Is it a demand to hand them all over and have them destroyed? Is it limited strikes, either from the United States or other members of the United Nations? Is it something completely different?

The opinions are wide-ranging and the debate is fierce. As a result, everyone is apparently being very careful with their proposals as well as the way they’re handling the situation as representatives of their own country.

According to CBS:

“We are not going line-by-line” through the draft resolution floated by the French and outlined by their foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, the diplomat said. “We were discussing concepts, because the fundamentals have been agreed to, but how and if we get there is still very shaky.”

This isn’t just about Syria. Countries like Iran and North Korea are testing the bounds by proxy, learning how the world will react to Syria, their actions, and the response of the rest of the world, to help determine how far they will be able to go in the future. The region could blow up at any moment. The world could be propelled into a war. Everyone is tense over the situation and rightfully so.

Enhanced by Zemanta