Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why doesn't she stop the Hillary in 2016 drive?

The pundits continue to shower accolades on our departing secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and speculate about her future. Gail Collins at the NY Times is urging her take a bow on her way out of the Obama Administration and possibly on to greater things whether in the private or the public realm.

Collins writes:

Friday is Hillary Clinton’s final day at the State Department. As we’ve all been reminded, over the past four years she’s traveled 956,733 miles to 112 different countries in order to conduct 1,700 meetings with world leaders. While consuming 570 airplane meals.

And then, of course, there was the race for president, in which she campaigned through 54 primaries and caucuses. After she lost, she urged her followers to take a break and “go to the beach.” But she went out and campaigned for Barack Obama. And then to the cabinet and the 112 countries. 

So it’s understandable that people are questioning how long the resting part of her future will last. There is already a Hillary-in-2016 PAC. Although Clinton has nothing to do with it, she could certainly stop it, as she could end all the presidential speculation by simply saying that she would not, under any circumstances, accept a nomination. 

She hasn’t. 

But we really ought to get through the first year of President Obama’s second term before we declare him a lame duck and start discussing a replacement. 

Meanwhile, if the last several decades are any indication, whatever Clinton does will involve extraordinarily diligent-but-unglamorous work, coupled with occasional hair-raising disasters, which she will overcome with a steely resolve that will make the world swoon. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Finally - the UN investigates our nation's use of drones and targeted assassinations

America's Predator drone.
We've been saying for some time here that Barack Obama, who won the Nobel peace prize for his good intentions, has been leading the U.S. down the road toward becoming the biggest terrorist nation of all with its increasing reliance on drones and targeted assassinations.

We note the irony in our president's recent leadership on the gun control issue in opposition to violence in our own backyards and school buildings while he continues to violate international boundaries to murder those he judges - without trial - our enemies.

Whereas the Obama Administration continues to ignore the outcries of sane members of our society against the use of drones, we can only applaud the UN's decision to intervene in the matter:

WASHINGTON -- The United Nations opened a major new investigation on Thursday into the United States' use of drones and targeted assassinations.

The U.N. investigation, led by special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights Ben Emmerson, is expected to focus on the legal justification for America's expansive drone program, which has largely remained secretive and unexamined.

"The exponential rise in the use of drone technology in a variety of military and non-military contexts represents a real challenge to the framework of established international law," Emmerson said in a statement released by his office.

"It is therefore imperative that appropriate legal and operational structures are urgently put in place to regulate its use in a manner that complies with the requirements of international law, including international human rights law, international humanitarian law (or the law of war as it used to be called), and international refugee law."

Human rights observers have long objected to the use of drones to target suspected terrorists because they often result in wider civilian deaths than administration officials have acknowledged.

But more practical concerns -- about the legality and efficacy of the program, as well as the White House's lack of transparency -- have also been growing.

The United States is by far the leading user of drones and unmanned vehicles for targeted assassinations, but it is not the only one. Drone use is expected to expand widely around the world -- China and Iran already are known to have the capability -- and there have been growing calls for the U.S. to clarify its own internal rules for the appropriate use of the technology.

Read more:


After yesterday's appearance on the Hill, poll shows Sec. Clinton more popular than ever

Official portrait.
The Washington Post's Dana Millbank summarizes exquisitely Hillary Clinton's final appearance on the Hill as she lets her critics have it while winding up her tenure at the State Department. Millbank also reports the results of a new Washington Post-ABC poll showing the Secretary of State is more popular than ever.

Millbank writes:

 They blamed her mismanagement for the death of Americans in Benghazi, Libya. They accused her of a cover-up. Some even suggested that she faked an illness to avoid testifying about the attack.

On Wednesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton finally had her chance to respond to critics, and the outgoing secretary of state served up a potent brew of righteous outrage. 

She began her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with restraint, and even remorse. She choked up as she described receiving flag-draped caskets at Andrews Air Force Base and hugging relatives of those killed.

But her anger boiled over when rookie Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) demanded to know why she and her aides didn’t immediately call those evacuated from Benghazi to find out whether a protest had preceded the attack.

Clinton replied that she didn’t want to interfere with the FBI’s investigation — which is almost certainly what Republicans would have accused her of doing. 

“That’s a good excuse,” Johnson said, scornfully. 

“Well, no, it’s a fact,” Clinton retorted, growing irritated. Waving her index finger, she pointed out that much of what happened in Libya on Sept. 11 remains unknown. 

“No, no, no, no,” Johnson rejoined. “We were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that, an assault . . . and the American people could have known that within days.”

Clinton raised her voice. “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” she shouted at the lawmaker. Waving her arms and then pounding the witness table with her fist, she continued: “Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Johnson stopped interrupting as Clinton continued. “It is, from my perspective, less important today looking backward as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice,” she said. 

Johnson didn’t attempt a rebuttal. “Okay, thank you, Madam Secretary.”

Read more:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Secretary Clinton sets the record straight on Benghazi (video)

One can no longer be surprised by the extremes Hillary Clinton's foes will go to in their attempts to disparage her outstanding service as secretary of state.

Nor should we be surprised at how ably and emphatically the secretary responds to her critics (watch video below).

Kate Norcera at Politico reports:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took responsibility for the attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning.

(PHOTOS: 10 quotes about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi)

She visibly choked up as she spoke of the four dead Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack.

“For me, this is not just a matter of policy… it’s personal,” she said. “I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.”

In her opening statement, Clinton also reiterated that she took responsibility for the attack.
“As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility. Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure,” Clinton said.

(PHOTOS: 10 slams on Obama and Benghazi)

“Taking responsibility meant moving quickly in those first uncertain hours and days to respond to the immediate crisis and further protect our people and posts in high-threat areas across the region and the world. It meant launching an independent investigation to determine exactly what happened in Benghazi and to recommend steps for improvement. And it meant intensifying our efforts to combat terrorism and support emerging democracies in North Africa and beyond.”

Clinton said that immediately after the attack she “stayed in close contact” with officials both here and in Libya.
Clinton answered sometimes pointed questions from senators on the timing of the attack, new threats in Northern Africa, and funding for security in embassies around the world.

Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) questioned Clinton’s role in coming up with talking points used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and why administration officials initially characterized the assault as spontaneous rather than deliberate.

Clinton said she was not involved in the selection of Rice to speak on the Sunday talk shows. She added that it was clear to her, as she said the day after the attacks, that “heavily armed militants assaulted our compound.” But with several simultaneous protests happening around the world, it was difficult to understand the exactly why the attack occurred.

“I personally was not focused on talking points, I was focused on keeping our people safe,” she said.

Read more:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2016: Hillary! Hillary! We want Hillary!

Secretary Clinton holds a flag ceremony for U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney, at the Department of State.
The drum beat for Hillary in 2016 just gets louder all the time. Here's Paul Alexander at the Daily Beast:

The day after she returned to her job as secretary of state following a month-long medical leave, Hillary Rodham Clinton held a press conference, her first since she had sustained a concussion, due to a fall, that lead to her absence. When one reporter asked if she was going to retire once she left the State Department, Clinton countered: “I don’t know that that is the word I would use, but certainly stepping off the very fast track for a little while.”

 For Clinton watchers who parse each of her comments for any clues about a possible 2016 presidential bid, this one delivered. “Hillary Clinton Rules Out ‘Retirement,’” one headline read. “Onwards to the White House?” another asked. By the end of the week, despite her recent health problems, a poll showed  Clinton the prohibitive frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination and a formidable challenger to Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, in a possible general-election match-up.
Friends close to Clinton say that her longstanding plan has been to take a break after leaving her post as secretary of state before laying the groundwork for a second run for the presidency. Her recent medical episode underscores her need for a sabbatical. At the same time, though, rarely has there been such a palpable groundswell of anticipation for a politician’s potential run for office.
The reason is simple: Women see in Clinton a female candidate who could not only run for but win the presidency.

Read more:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

MLK jr: "guided missiles and misguided men"


What would Martin Luther King, Jr. have to say about Obama's escalation of the use of drones in four countries to murder - without benefit of trial - those our president declares as America's enemies?

Yes, Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama has outdone George W. Bush in his use of drones, thereby reminding us of MLK's warning about "guided missiles and misguided men."

At the Huffington Post, Norman Solomon highlights the use of drones by a president who campaigned on his superior judgment in opposing the Iraq War Resolution (never mind that he was not a US Senator at the time the resolution passed.)  

Solomon begins:

A simple twist of fate has set President Obama's second inaugural address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.

Obama made no mention of King during the inauguration four years ago -- but since then, in word and deed, the president has done much to distinguish himself from the man who said "I have a dream."

After his speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, King went on to take great risks as a passionate advocate for peace.

After his inaugural speech in January 2009, Obama has pursued policies that epitomize King's grim warning in 1967: "When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men."

But Obama has not ignored King's anti-war legacy. On the contrary, the president has gone out of his way to distort and belittle it.
In his eleventh month as president -- while escalating the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, a process that tripled the American troop levels there -- Obama traveled to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. In his speech, he cast aspersions on the peace advocacy of another Nobel Peace laureate: Martin Luther King Jr.

Read more:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Do you need an assault weapon in the arsenal you maintain at home?

Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly don't think Americans need assault weapons lying around their homes in order to protect themselves. On the two-year anniversary of the Arizona shooting, Giffords, who still has a long way to go in her recovery, and Kelly are launching their Americans for Responsible Solutions initiative to help raise money to support greater gun control efforts and take on the powerful gun lobby.

Recognizing that neither the Obama Administration or today's Congress is likely to take action even in the aftermath of the Newtown travesty, Giffords and Kelly have now taken the lead in opposing the NRA.

How many more school children will need to die before America wakes up and calls a halt to the carnage?

Credo asks us to sign their petition to ban assault weapons - it's a step in the right direction. I've signed it, how about you?

Ban assault weapons now

CREDO Action
The petition reads:
"Immediately pass a ban on military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, and high-capacity ammunition magazines."
Automatically add your name:
Take action now!
Dear Virginia,
The shock and trauma from the images and stories from Newtown are still very much with us, and it is impossible to put into words the pain still being felt by families and friends of the victims.
Now is the time to demand action from legislators in Congress. In the wake of the massacre of 20 first graders and six educators, there is clear momentum for passing common sense gun control regulations to ban the Sandy Hook mass murderer's weapon of choice.
Two bills to be introduced in the Senate could ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) plans to introduce a new assault weapons bill,1 while Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has pledged to re-introduce his bill to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines.2
Since the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, even legislators who received "A" ratings by the National Rifle Association have shown interest in supporting restrictions on the military-style weapons and high-capacity ammo magazines like the ones used in the Newtown massacre.3
The gestures from these legislators are welcome signs, but we need more than sympathetic words. We need real leadership to overcome the death-grip the NRA has on Congress and begin the vital work of addressing the senseless gun violence that threatens our communities.
The federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, banned the sale of guns like the AR-15 that was used in many high-profile mass killings including the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.4 And Lautenberg's bill banning high-capacity ammunition magazines would have made it illegal for anyone to buy or own the type of ammunition magazine Adam Lanza used in the attack Newtown attack.5
CREDO members worked to pass the federal assault weapons ban in 1994. And we fought to stop its expiration in 2004. We continue to advocate for passing and enforcing sensible federal gun laws restricting ready access for civilians to assault weapons. Massacres on the scale of the tragedy in Newtown happen in part because our federal gun laws make it easy for civilians to obtain military-style firepower.
We're not so naïve as to think that sensible gun laws are all that's needed to stop the killings. There are many things that need to change in American culture to stop the next Newtown-like massacre. But we do know one thing we should put at the top of the list: keeping military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines out of the hands of civilians.
It's long past time to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons, and institute a new ban on high-capacity magazines.
Tell your senator: Support a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Click the link below to sign automatically.
Thank you for speaking out against gun violence.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Automatically add your name:
Take action now!
Learn more about this campaign
1.Sean Sullivan, "Feinstein will introduce assault weapons ban in Senate." The Washington Post, 12/16/12.
2. Steve Strunsky, "Lautenberg renews bid to ban high-capacity ammunition." The Star-Ledger, 12/17/12.
3. Josh Israel, "Meet The 10 Gun-Touting Lawmakers Willing To Consider Gun Control In Aftermath Of Shooting." ThinkProgress, 12/18/12.
4. Zack Beauchamp, "Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting." ThinkProgress, 07/20/12.
5. Steve Strunsky, "Lautenberg renews bid to ban high-capacity ammunition." The Star-Ledger, 12/17/12.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hillary's breakneck pace as secretary of state

Hillary Clinton will continue to serve as secretary of state until the end of January when her successor John Kerry will take over.This is good news for it will give Hillary the opportunity to say a proper good by to the State Department and the Obama Administration before departing for a much needed rest. In the meantime, of course, her fans continue to urge her to run for president again in 2016.

Mark Landler at the NY Times reports that  Hillary's recent concussion and subsequent blood clot have added to fears that her work has "taken its toll." Landler writes:

WASHINGTON — When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton fractured her right elbow after slipping in a State Department garage in June 2009, she returned to work in just a few days. Her arm in a sling, she juggled speeches and a trip to India and Thailand with physical therapy, rebuilding a joint held together with wire and pins.  

 It was vivid evidence of Mrs. Clinton’s indomitable stamina and work ethic — as a first lady, senator, presidential candidate and, for the past four years, the most widely traveled secretary of state in American history. 

 But after a fall at home in December that caused a concussion, and a subsequent diagnosis of a blood clot in her head, it has taken much longer for Mrs. Clinton to bounce back. She was released from a hospital in New York on Wednesday, accompanied by her daughter, Chelsea, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. On Thursday, she told colleagues that she hoped to be in the office next week. 

Her health scare, though, has reinforced the concerns of friends and colleagues that the years of punishing work and travel have taken a heavy toll. Even among her peers at the highest levels of government, Mrs. Clinton, 65, is renowned for her grueling schedule. Over the past four years, she was on the road for 401 days and spent the equivalent of 87 full days on a plane, according to the State Department’s Web site.  

Read more:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Both Hillary Clinton and I hospitalized lately

Photo courtesy of
Hillary Clinton and I have both been hospitalized lately. I was recovering from knee replacement surgery when my doctor advised me to get an ultrasound of my knee to rule out a blood clot. X-rays in the ER following the ultrasound revealed a fractured femur directly above my "new" knee. The fracture required yet another surgical procedure and two more weeks in the hospital. I'm now home with a non-weight bearing left leg for the next four weeks.

Hillary also received a one-two punch:

Clinton was discharged Wednesday from a New York hospital, three days after doctors diagnosed a blood clot during a follow-up exam stemming from a concussion she suffered in December. Doctors are treating the clot with blood thinners and say they expect she will fully recover.

I'm hopeful that both Hillary and I will soon be good as new!