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Tags: United Nations

Hom-Assad-al Maniac



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Epic Morning Jolt to start the week: More warnings Obamacare isn’t ready, why your ex who works at the National Security Agency might be checking up on you, and of course . . . 

Hom-Assad-al Maniac

Big day in the Middle East: “U.N. weapons experts are due on Monday to inspect a site where poison gas killed many hundreds of people in Damascus suburbs, amid calls from Western capitals for military action to punish the world’s worst apparent chemical weapons attack in 25 years.” We’re informed subsequent shelling and warfare may have eroded the evidence.

Bit of a hitch, just as this newsletter is about to be sent out: “Vehicle of UN Syria ChemicalWeapons team hit by sniper fire. Team replacing vehicle & then returning to area.”

Sounds like our government’s convinced: [A senior Obama administration] official, in a written statement, said that “based on the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, witness accounts and other facts gathered by open sources, the U.S. intelligence community, and international partners, there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident.”

Airstrikes coming? “Royal Navy vessels are being readied to take part in a possible series of cruise missile strikes, alongside the United States, as military commanders finalise a list of potential targets. Government sources said talks between the Prime Minister and international leaders, including Barack Obama, would continue, but that any military action that was agreed could begin within the next week.”

I see everyone on the Right and their brothers giving Samantha Power grief about a spectacularly ill-timed Irish vacation:

Mystery solved. America’s ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power was in Ireland on a personal trip when she missed an emergency meeting on the alleged chemical gas attack in Syria, U.N. sources tell Fox News.

A day earlier, State Department officials were mum when asked for information on Power’s whereabouts. She had come under fire for missing Wednesday’s urgent U.N. Security Council meeting, where delegations weighed how to respond to charges that the Assad regime had just committed the deadliest chemical weapons attack in the country’s two-year civil war.

The meeting, and her absence, came just 19 days after Power assumed the U.N. leadership post.

Keep in mind, her boss is this guy, who was on his yacht the day Egypt’s military decided to hit CONTROL-ALT-DELETE on the Arab Spring:

“‘Here I come to save the day!’

That means that John Kerry’s on the way!

Yes sir, when there is a wrong to right, John Kerry will join the fight!

On the sea or on the land, he has the situation well in hand!”

 

Question: What’s really the bigger problem — that Power is texting in statements from her vacation, or that she actually thinks the United Nations is going to do anything serious in response to a Syrian chemical-weapons attack? Or, more specifically, anything that might actually influence the actions of Bashir Assad?

Oh, and if you’re one of those folks arguing the United States should steer clear of any role in the ever-widening, ever-worsening mess that was once known as Syria . . . well, too late:

As part of that, intelligence agents from Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Jordan and other allied states are working at a secret joint operations center in Jordan to train and arm handpicked Syrian rebels, according to current and former U.S. and Middle Eastern officials.

The CIA has put unspecified limits on its arming efforts. But the agency has been helping train rebels to better fight. Earlier this year it also began making salary payments to members of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, U.S. and Arab officials said. There are now more CIA personnel at the Jordan base than Saudi personnel, according to Arab diplomats.

Americans in our part-time economy may have trouble finding salaries, but at least Free Syrian Army leaders can collect salaries — courtesy your tax dollars. But I’ll bet it’s just a matter of time before these guys start complaining that Obamacare loused up their health-care benefits, too.

Tags: Samantha Power , United Nations , Syria , John Kerry , Barack Obama

Obamacare, a Bigger Worry Than the Sequester



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After the 2016 questions, the Quinnipiac pollsters ask Pennsylvania voters what they think of Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act.

A total of 53 percent of Pennsylvania voters “somewhat disapprove” or “strongly disapprove” of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, while 37 percent “strongly approve” or “somewhat approve.” 

ACA will hurt them personally 40 percent of voters say, while 13 percent say it will help and 42 percent say it will have no effect.  There is little difference among income groups.

Compare this to recent national polling on views of the sequester:

Nearly half — 49 percent — of registered voters said the current cuts will have no impact at all on them or their families. Another 39 percent said the cuts would have a negative impact, and 10 percent said they would have a positive impact.

Tags: Obamacare , United Nations

Spared by the Sequester: The Pentagon’s $146 Flashlights



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Today’s edition of “Spared by the Sequester . . .”

On March 8, the Defense Logistics Agency awarded a contact worth $331,000 to Giga, Inc., for flashlights.

According to a form listed with the award notice, the quantity of flashlights ordered was 2,256.

(That’s a decimal point between the “6” and the first “0,” so it’s not an order for 2.2 million flashlights.)

Spending $331,000 for 2,256 flashlights comes out to $146.71 per flashlight.

Now, maybe these are really good flashlights. Maybe they’re special flashlights, which have to be up to some sort of Department of Defense standard that ordinary civilian flashlights can’t meet.

Over on the Giga web site for GSA contracting, they list several different types of flashlight ranging from $30 each to $156 each; that top-priced version comes with an AC charger.

(Photo courtesy Mag-Lite.)

If you Google, you can find online retailers offering Maglite flashlights with AC chargers for $90 or so. Wal-Mart offers it for $89.97 online, although they’re reporting it’s out of stock at the moment. NalPak is offering it for $78, although that’s probably before shipping and handling.

UPDATE: A reader who works at the Defense Logistics Agency writes in:

DLA, and the services, are bound to procure by the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations  (DFAR)…

This is a five year contract, and the total amount of the contract is the $331,000 you mention. However, this specific contract is an indefinite quantity contract, with one base year, and four option years.  DLA has estimated that the average annual quantity is approximately 2256 per year.  And it appears that the negotiated price per unit for the first year is, $13.22.

…DLA has always complied and will always comply by the laws, regulations, etc, they are governed by. Unfortunately, our politicians seem to forget this, and start blasting away at the “waste”, when they ultimately are responsible for the rules the DoD must abide by.

Tags: United Nations

Romney: I Said I Wanted to Add a Sense of ‘Drive’ to This Campaign



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The Romney campaign has to be pretty happy with the front page of the Durango Herald this morning:

Of course, the endorsement of former Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway is going to be terrible news for the Romney Get-Out-The-Vote effort in Cleveland . . . and perhaps Baltimore as well.

Tags: Colorado , United Nations , Mitt Romney

No Future for ‘Those Who Slander the Prophet’?



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Also in today’s Jolt, a look at Obama’s speech at the United Nations, declaring who must own the future and who must not own the future.

President Obama: If You Slander Islam’s Prophet, You Forfeit Your Ownership of the Future

So, what are we to make of the President of the United States speaking before the United Nations and declaring:

The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shia pilgrims. It is time to heed the words of Gandhi: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies. That’s the vision we will support.

First, notice the trademark Obama passive voice. What does it mean, “the future must not belong to” a particular group?

Does it mean these people won’t be around in the future?

That in the future, their viewpoint will be marginalized? Out of style? Unpopular? Suppressed? That sometime between now and “the future,” they will have changed their mind? That at some point in the future, no one will feel like slandering the prophet of Islam? Is the First Amendment still in effect in this envisioned future, or has it been rewritten or modified on this topic?

How does “the future” belong to one group instead of another? Maybe I have too much of a background in musical theater by non-Mark-Steyn-pundit standards, but anytime I hear somebody declaring, with great emphasis, that tomorrow belongs to them, I start muttering, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

(Another helpful hint: in a Hollywood movie, if you see a character who emphasizes that he and his kind are the future, and those who are different no longer matter, that character is probably the villain.)

I think Matt Welch, over at Reason, speaks for a lot of us here:

[Obama’s speech] deteriorates rapidly from there:

I believe [the video's] message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.

So many things wrong in so few words. Why this video, and not Theo Van Gogh’s Submission, or Lars Vilks’s animation of Mohammed wanting to go to a gay bar, the “Super Best Friends” episode of South Park, or Funny or Die’s “How to Pick a Pocket“? Is it the degree of the insult, the craptasticness of the production values, the size of the release, or the vociferousness of the outrage expressed?

Given the track record of our past two administrations, I think we know the answer to that question, which suggests another thing terrible about this sentence: As Eugene Volokh recently pointed out, “Behavior that gets rewarded, gets repeated.” If all it takes to earn a White House call for global condemnation of a single piece of expression is some violent protests outside a dozen or two diplomatic missions, then the perpetually aggrieved know exactly what to do the next time they pluck out some bit of cultural detritus to be offended by.

It is not any politician’s job, and certainly not any American politician’s job, to instruct the entire world on which films to criticize.

Also, how much of the above remarks are going to flow out through the corners of the Muslim world? How many accounts will just quote the first sentence, that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”?

(So, with the president going before the world and declaring that Mohammed-mockers have no future, is it a bad time for me to remind everyone that Obama’s favorite television show is Showtime’s “Homeland,” in which a captured POW is revealed to be a sleeper agent for al-Qaeda? This year’s storyline? The captured POW is now in American politics, and appears to be on a fast track to the highest levels of power.)

Obama’s not a Muslim, no matter what Madonna might say.

Tags: Barack Obama , Islam , United Nations

Biden, Just Flat Wrong on Pressure on Iran in 2008



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Vice President Biden, today: “When we took office, let me remind, there was virtually no international pressure on Iran. We were the problem,” the vice president said. “We were diplomatically isolated in the world, in the region, in Europe.”

Of course, the facts are that the United Nations Security Council passed five resolutions against Iran between July 2006 and September 2008, banning the import of nuclear-related materials, freezing assets, expanding the freeze of assets, calling for the search of Iranian ships and planes, and so on.

Then, of course, throughout President Bush’s final year in office, diplomatic efforts generated new levels of pressure on Tehran.

March 2008: “The UN security council today approved a third round of sanctions against Iran with near unanimous support, sending a strong signal to Tehran that its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment is unacceptable and becoming increasingly costly. For the first time, the resolution bans trade with Iran in goods that have both civilian and military uses. It also authorises inspections of shipments to and from Iran by sea and air that are suspected of carrying banned items.”

June 2008: “Even as Bush won new support from the Europeans, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran responded by mocking attempts to rein in his country’s nuclear program, which Iran maintains is for peaceful development of nuclear energy.”

June 23, 2008: “European Union states agreed on June 23 to impose new sanctions on Iran, including an asset freeze on its biggest bank, over its refusal to meet demands to curb its nuclear programme.”

In August 2008: “The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany have agreed to seek further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program after the Islamic state missed a deadline to respond to council incentives, the State Department said Monday.”

And then in October 2008, “Australia has imposed targeted autonomous sanctions in relation to Iran’s proliferation sensitive nuclear and missile programs and efforts to contravene United Nations Security Council sanctions.”

So besides the ugly, knee-jerk claim that until President Obama took office, the United States was “the problem” in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, Biden is just plain wrong on the facts.

But hey, at least Obama can tout the tough new sanctions in place today, and how his diplomacy has unified the world on cutting off Iran… oh, wait, what’s that on foreign television?

Ah, an Iranian trade delegation visiting Indian officials in New Dehli, discussing ways to “overcome U.S. and European sanctions.”

Then again, Jeanne Kirkpatrick warned us about Biden’s type: “They always blame America first.”

UPDATE: The Romney campaign distributes Policy Director Lanhee Chen on Vice President Biden’s comments on Iran that “we were the problem.”

“All too often, President Obama and his administration have sought to blame America first, yet Vice President Biden’s reckless statement today blaming America for – of all things – the progress of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, has reached a new low. The problem is not America.  It is the ayatollahs who oppress their people, threaten their neighbors, and are pursuing nuclear weapons. President Obama’s naïve approach to Iran has given the regime valuable time to get closer than ever before to a nuclear weapons capability. Vice President Biden’s comments are wrong and completely inappropriate. Mitt Romney will stand up for America and our allies, and he will not apologize for America’s leadership role in the world.”

Tags: Barack Obama , George W. Bush , Iran , Joe Biden , United Nations

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