Saturday, May 18, 2013

Can we not agree that the Obama administration has established a culture conducive to the type of stereotypical thinking that could lead to the IRS scandal?

It's disgraceful that government bureaucrats, whether on their own initiative or at the direction of superiors, singled out anyone for special scrutiny, but what their selection criteria were makes it even worse 
writes David Limbaugh.
Reportedly, the IRS field office in charge of evaluating applications for tax-exempt status decided to focus on groups making statements that "criticize how the country is being run" and those that are engaged in educating Americans "on the Constitution and Bill of Rights."

 … If the First Amendment means anything, it is that the full force of the federal government will be used to safeguard, not suppress, the liberties of American citizens to utter political speech, especially speech critical of the government. But instead, this IRS sought for abuse groups that criticized the administration and groups that wanted to teach people that under our Constitution, such government officials have no right to do this type of thing.

But speaking of this effort to pass the buck to "low-level" players: Can we not at least agree that the Obama administration has established a culture conducive to the type of stereotypical thinking that could lead to this? Didn't the Department of Homeland Security under this administration list right-wing groups as extremists and potential terrorists? Hasn't President Obama himself referred to tea partyers as "tea baggers"? Haven't other Democrats deliberately depicted tea party groups as violent extremists who are a hair trigger away from armed revolution?

Liberals have been trying to vilify conservative talk radio for years now, suggesting that its strong political opinions lead to violence. That is preposterous, but if we were to apply the same type of standard to Obama, we could say that he has personally fomented a climate of hate against conservative groups, such that the IRS targeting was completely foreseeable. Surely, it's fair to hold the president to his own standard.

Consider: Obama's "bitter clingers" remark, his statement that conservatives who want a "small America" are dragging America into "a race to the bottom where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards," his calling Republican congressmen "hostage takers" for opposing his tax policies (does that ring a bell, i.e., those who criticize the government?), his despicable statement that Republican leaders are "willing to compromise (their) kids' safety so some corporate jet owner can get a tax break," Vice President Joe Biden's saying Republicans "have acted like terrorists" and are using threats of shutting the government down as a "weapon of mass destruction," Obama's looking on with approval as Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa said of the tea party, "Let's take these sons of b----es out," and his spiritual adviser the Rev. Jim Wallis' saying, "And to be blunt, there wouldn't be a tea party if there wasn't a black man in the White House."
In my book "The Great Destroyer," which was published in 2012 … I reported that some were alleging that "the Obama IRS (was) 'using the routine process of seeking and granting tax exemptions to undertake a sweeping, top-down review of the internal workings of the tea party movement in the United States.'" I added, "Recall that Obama's own campaign organization, Organizing for America, once labeled tea party opponents of Obamacare 'right-wing domestic terrorists.' ... If Team Obama views tea partyers as a dangerous threat, would it really be surprising to learn that it treats them as such?"

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Very Reason

Regarding the IRs's targeting of the Tea Parties and of group wanting to teach the constitution…

…needless to say, this along with the attendant big government (and big spending) ramifications, is precisely — not paradoxically — what gave birth to the Tea Parties in the first place

Hot Trailer From Depardieu Film on a DSK-Type: Du sexe, du sexe, et encore du sexe

Gérard Depardieu won't be a earning a single dollar for playing a Dominique Strauss-Kahn type in the movie Welcome to New York (the movie's trailer), which is based on the DSK scandal in the the Big Apple's Sofitel. He's doing it for the pleasure of working with Abel Ferrara.

Photos from the New York set appeared in The Daily Mail (merci à Duncan) recently, as the French movie star as the Russian movie star and the rest of the crew reenact the media storm surrounding the sexual assault trial in the company of Jacqueline Bisset co-starring as his then-wife, the French TV reporter Anne Sinclair.
In an interview with Swiss Television RTS last year, Depardieu revealed he agreed to play the part because he found his fellow countryman 'arrogant and smug', adding: 'He is very French. I will do it, because I don't like him.'

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Defenders of Benghazi Are All-Knowing, and Have the Military, and Every Little Detail, Figured Out

In response to Meghashyam Mali's Hill article on the Robert Gates defense of Obama's Benghazi response, claiming critics have a “cartoonish” view of U.S. military capabilities, leftists keep making a variant of this argument:
Nobody from the other bases could have gotten there in time to do anything.
Each attack was only about 20 minutes. And they were 7+ hours apart. Nobody from the other bases could have gotten there in time to do anything.
How do you — how does anybody (!) — know that?!?!

This is hindsight, pure'n'simple (and hardly accurate hindsight at that).

How about a building on fire? Do firefighters conduct an in-depth study before they send their men in?! Do they know precisely how long the fire will last or how long they have to save people inside?


you receive a call from Benghazi, what, 5 (10?) minutes after the attack has begun — How do you know, how does Obama know, how does Hillary know, how would Bush know, how would Cheney know, how does the special forces commander know, how do the Pentagon generals know, how does anybody know… how long the attack will last, and/or how long those poor souls in Libya will hold out?

Is it 20 minutes? Is it 7 hours? Is it 2 days? Is it a week? Is it ten days (the Alamo)? Is it 20 seconds?

The purpose of military, especially the special forces — any of their members would tell you (as well as Robert Gates) this — is to put themselves in harm's way when the call comes, and hit fast'n'hard — that's what they signed up for and that's what they train for.

Then we are told as follows:
And if we sent few more people and if we lost more lives due to that … if we sent another dozen or two people there against thousands, could we avoid the incident or we would have lost few more brave soldiers?
And it is conservatives who allegedly have a cartoonish view of the military?!

Yes, in typical Hollywood fashion, the bad guys, just because they are so bright and because they snarl so much, and because those evil genius' evil minds have everything so well planned out, they succeed in almost effortlessly wiping out an entire platoon, an entire company, of baby-faced teen-agers in uniform, as if the American soldiers were nigh-defenseless children…

When the call comes, 5 minutes after the attack — the military will tell you (as well as Monsieur Gates, or BHO, or either Clinton) — that is the exact moment that you start reacting! You send the choppers into the air, you send the planes towards the target (with — naturally — all options open, including the one to call the raid off as they approach the city when the Marines or what have you are — what? — within say 15 miles of their target).

Sorry, but the option to stay put, hundreds of miles from Benghazi, is indefensible.

Update: Reader Radegunda points out that two of the reasons given by the Obama defenders cancel each other out:
Here are two excuses that were given:
1. We couldn't go into an uncertain situation.
2. We would have gotten there too late to make a difference.
Those two lines are mutually exclusive.
And neither is plausible on its own.
Mike Dd adds:

Then why did over 700 retired Special Oprations servicemen send a letter to the congress requesting an investigation? These people are told a lot of things 'off the record' by their buddies still in the thick of it, they know what is going on....and they do not have a cartoonish few of the military.

Gates said: “To send some small number of special forces or other troops in without knowing what the environment is, without knowing what the threat is, without having any intelligence in terms of what is actually going on on the ground, I think, would have been very dangerous,”

There was a drone flying overhead for most of the attack...and when you don't know what is going either send in a small recon force of a probing force. The assertion that they did not know what was going on during an ATTACK means that you do SOMETHING to find out what is going on, not sit and wait to see what is going to happen next. The sum of the difficulties with this incident is that there seems to have been a failure to take any action followed by the whole storyline about some utube video that has proven false.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Obama Administration Hired al-Qaida-Linked Group to Defend Benghazi Mission

The Libyan militia group that the State Department hired to defend its embattled diplomatic mission in Benghazi had clear al-Qaida sympathies,
writes John Rosenthal in a Newsmax exclusive,
and had prominently displayed the al-Qaida flag on a Facebook page some months before the deadly attack. 
That organization, the February 17th Martyrs Brigade, was paid by the U.S. government to provide security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. But there is no indication the Martyrs Brigade fulfilled its commitment to defend the mission on Sept. 11, when it came under attack.
  … Several entries on the militia’s Facebook page openly profess sympathy for Ansar al-Sharia, the hardline Islamist extremist group widely blamed  for the deadly attack on the mission. The State Department did not respond to a Newsmax request for an explanation as to why the February 17th Martyrs Brigade was hired to protect the mission.

 … Perhaps the biggest question is why the State Department would hire a group that openly displayed its admiration for al-Qaida, and ask it to participate in the defense of its diplomatic mission.

The banner, or “cover photo” of one of the group’s Facebook pages, shows an Islamic fighter, or mujahid, with a portable rocket launcher resting on his shoulder.

The distinctive black flag of al-Qaida can be seen fluttering to the man’s right, attached to the vehicle in which he is riding. The mujahid wears a headband based on the design of the al-Qaida flag. The flag in question features the shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith, and a white circle that is sometimes described as the “seal of Mohammed.”

 … Throughout the summer leading up to the attack, embassy officials repeatedly asked the State Department for additional security. But the State Department actually reduced security, pulling out a military detachment responsible for defending diplomats in Libya.

One reason the requests for additional security may have been denied: They did not fit into the administration narrative that al-Qaida elements no longer posed a threat to U.S. interests.

One diplomatic cable to the mission indicated that the U.S.-based deputy assistant secretary for diplomatic security was “reluctant to ask for [additional security] apparently out of concern that it would be embarrassing to the [State Department] to continue to have to rely on [Defense Department] assets to protect our mission.”

When the mission’s regional safety officer expressed an interest in July 2012 asking State Department official to permit the military security team to continue to protect the mission, Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary in charge of diplomatic security, sent an e-mail that responded: “NO, I do not [I repeat] not want them to ask for the [military security] team to stay!”

Republicans have complained in recent weeks that the Obama administration has been stonewalling their investigation.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"We are trying to change the mentality in France" says entrepreneur who rails bluntly against the country’s established classes

Xavier Niel is not what you would expect in a billionaire
writes Kevin J O'Brien in the New York Times.
Mr. Niel, the French Internet entrepreneur, is a slightly disheveled 45-year-old fond of jeans and open-collared shirts. He is a high school graduate from a working-class Paris suburb who rails bluntly against the country’s established classes and a business elite culled from a handful of grande écoles — elite educational institutions. 

But over the past two decades, Mr. Niel has amassed a net worth estimated by Forbes in March at $6.6 billion, emerging as France’s most influential technology entrepreneur, an opportunistic, controversial visionary whose low-cost Internet service provider and mobile network have made the Internet affordable for millions of French consumers. 

To many struggling in France’s stagnant economy, Mr. Niel is a hero. But to a French business establishment grappling with the competitive disruptions of the Internet — not to mention the same stagnant economy — he is an unwelcome threat, a destroyer of profit margins. 

“He represents the Internet world and the Internet economy, something that is not really appreciated in France,” said Cedric Manara, a law professor at Edhec, a business school in Paris. “He is not one of them. He represents what scares them — the big battlefield between the old and new economy.”

Mr. Niel says his goal is no less than to instill a Web-based entrepreneurial culture in France. 

If people like us don’t start to change things in France, nothing is ever going to change,” Mr. Niel said. “Today France is the fifth-largest economy in the world. But if we don’t change things, we will be the 25th biggest in just 10 years.”

 … In 1993, when he was 25, Mr. Niel created France’s first Internet service provider, WorldNet, which he sold seven years later, just before the dotcom bubble burst, for more than $50 million. In 2002, his second Internet service business, Free, sold the world’s first triple-play package of phone, television and Internet. The Freebox service cost just €29.99 a month, or about $40 at current exchange rates, about a third less than the going rate. The triple-play would not arrive in the United States until three years later. 

Free has since added a Blu-ray disc player, a digital recorder and unlimited domestic mobile calls to the Freebox package, but it still has not raised the basic price. The company is France’s second largest Internet service provider, behind Orange, owned by the former telephone monopoly, France Télécom.
But the ISP business was only a warm-up. In January 2012, he created Free Mobile, which became France’s fourth cellphone network operator. In another break with convention, Free sold a no-strings-attached SIM card service with unlimited calls, text and Internet for €19.99 a month, less than half what the other three — Orange, SFR and Bouyges Télécom — had been charging. 

This came after the three bigger operators had tried unsuccessfully to persuade the European Commission to block Free’s mobile license. Since its inception, Free Mobile is estimated to have cost the top three operators millions in profit, as all created new, lower-cost plans to compete. 

That does not bother Mr. Niel too much. In December, the French competition regulator, Autorité de la concurrence, fined Orange and SFR, which together have about three-quarters of France’s mobile users, €183 million for abusing their size by offering free on-network calls to their own customers since 2005. 

The operators are appealing the ruling. But for Mr. Niel, who spoke during a wide-ranging interview on the top floor of his headquarters in central Paris, the case was another example of the cartel-like relationship among industry leaders that pervades the French economy and in which profit trumps the needs of consumers

Free Mobile signed up 5.2 million customers during its first year of business, grabbing almost 8 percent of the French mobile market. Sales reached €844 million but the business generated a €46.1 million loss in 2012 before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. The new enterprise increased annual revenue at Mr. Niel’s holding company, Iliad, by 49 percent to €3.2 billion last year. Iliad had a market capitalization Friday of €10 billion. 

“Our goal is to bring Internet to everyone in France,” he said, speaking in a heavily accented English. 
But in parts of France, Mr. Niel remains controversial.

 … For 10 years, Mr. Niel has been investing tens of millions of euros in technology startups. Each week, his venture capital company, Kima Ventures, invests in two more. Some of the money goes to French companies like Deezer, the streaming music service, but much has also gone to U.S. start-ups, like Square, a maker of free credit card readers for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices that is based in San Francisco. 

Last month, Mr. Niel announced plans to open a tuition-free Web developer academy for 1,000 students. He has received 10,000 applications from students, each of whom spent four hours filling out a test of computer logic posted on the Web. 

Tellingly, the test did not ask applicants for their academic credentials. Mr. Niel said he was looking for people like himself — qualified, but unprivileged and lacking the right connections — to give them a leg up. 

“We are not just trying to change business,” he said. “We are trying to change the mentality in France.” 

 … As Mr. Niel’s influence and public stature grows, some are worried he may become a part of what he hates — the establishment. They point to the fact that in 2010, Mr. Niel was one of three investors who bought a controlling interest in Le Monde, the country’s flagship daily newspaper. 

“I think secretly he wants to become part of the establishment,” said Mr. Godard, the Enders analyst.
Mr. Manara, the Edhec professor, said he was not so sure. 

“In France, we like to burn our idols,” Mr. Manara said. 

Mr. Niel said he had no desire to join the establishment. He ruled out pursing a political career.
“I like being an outsider,” he said. “It is better in France on the outside.”