Friday, September 30, 2011

Obama Calls America “Soft,” Offers To Whip Nation Into Shape | Fox News

Obama Calls America “Soft,” Offers To Whip Nation Into Shape | Fox News

Obama Calls America “Soft,” Offers to Whip Nation Into Shape


Published September 30, 2011


Obama Embraces National Decline Narrative

"The way I think about it is, you know, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn't have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track."

-- President Obama arguing for his third stimulus package in an interview with NBC affiliate WESH of Orlando, Fla.

Vice President Joe Biden told a public radio station in Miami that while the state of the economy might be the fault of the previous Republican administration, the public is still understandably angry at the party in power for the dismal state of the economy.

His message to his interviewer and a liberal audience: Blaming Bush isn’t helping and is “not relevant” right now, so cut it out.

Biden, though, offered hope to his audience that the time would come again soon in which Democrats could profitably attack Republicans on the economy.

“Right now -- understandably, totally legitimate -- this is a referendum on Obama and Biden and the nature and state of the economy. It's soon going to be a choice," Biden told public broadcasting listeners.

Biden’s implicit promise is that once he and Obama have a Republican with whom to draw contrasts, it will be easier to remind Americans which party is really to blame for the sour situation of the nation. The vice president summed up the Obama 2012 message: We may be no picnic, but the other guys are worse.

It’s an improbable-seeming strategy in which voters must first be convinced that the current president and his team did the best they could in dire circumstances and that while things are bad now, they could have been much worse.

While the vice president was reaching out to the base in Florida, President Obama was talking to a larger audience in the Sunshine State in an interview with the NBC affiliate from Orlando as part of his effort to shore up his deteriorating status in the swing state.

In the interview, Obama shed some light on how he aims to pull off the “it could have been worse” pitch for 2012. The answer seems to be that the administration will embrace the idea of America as a declining power as a way to lower the expectations for his governance.

Telling the TV station that America has gotten “a little soft” over the past two decades, Obama promised that his program will help burn off the flab and pump up the national fitness. By spending money to shore up government payrolls at stimulus levels and fund public works projects the president aims to rebuild the nation’s muscle tone while simultaneously burning off some of the fat by pumping up the tax rates on those earning over $200,000.

The president as personal trainer concept is an idea that means Obama must convince voters that they really are out of shape and that their country has gone to pot. This declinist sentiment is common across the political spectrum as figures on the left like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg openly ponder the chances for the unemployed rioting in the streets of the nation’s largest city and those on the right frequently express their worry that the country is following the same path to ruin that Europe has followed.

Embracing this same declinist line of thinking has electoral appeal for Obama because it allows Obama to argue that he has not succeeded in office because the problems are simply too big. It wasn’t just the Panic of 2008 but decades (including under Bill Clinton) of the government failing to spend enough on public works and being too easy on fat cat capitalists.

As Peggy Noonan points out today, in Ron Suskind’s new book “Confidence Men,” the president is seen obsessing over the failure of him and his team to establish a “narrative” for the electorate that would explain the continually weak economy, the seemingly unrelated move to enact a national health law and other controversial polices.

“We didn't have a clean story that we wanted to tell against which we would measure various actions,” Obama is quoted as saying.

Declinism could be this kind of “clean story” for Obama, one that would set new a new threshold for presidential performance. If the American people can be convinced that the nation really has been heading for a fall all these years and Obama, like the rest of them, is a victim of generational failure, it would take pressure off the president. And, if they can then be convinced that the root cause is a lack of domestic spending and low taxes on the wealthy, Obama could dramatically reverse his own declining fortunes.

The problem for Obama is that most declinists today attribute the end of American awesomeness to many causes other than insufficient domestic spending and too-low tax rates. Many are concerned that Americans have lost what the Founders called “virtue,” the good character required for a people to be self-governing. Many others believe that the flabbiness that most imperils the nation is that of an unaffordable government that taxes and spends beyond healthy levels.

For Obama to shift the blame to infrastructure and low taxes will be a difficult lift, especially since his first two stimuli are now widely seen as failures. While the administration argues that they prevented a disaster, voters aren’t sure that they were better than nothing.

But by far the biggest problem for a declinist president is that voters will more deeply associate him with that decline. Obama is looking to tell a “clean story” that casts blame back over a generation, not just his presidential predecessor, and in that way lower the expectations for his own tenure. But voters, who disapprove of Obama’s performance at increasingly higher levels, may just conclude that the dude is a downer.

American-Born Terrorist Killed in Yemen: Whodunnit?

“We made an important start with getting rid of bin Laden… I do believe that if we continue this effort we can really cripple al Qaeda as a threat to this country.’

-- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talking to reporters in Afghanistan this summer about the effort to kill Anwar al-Awlaki.

Power Play assumes that since Yemen lacks a functional government and has dissolved into a few warring tribal factions that’s its air force is not exactly a wonderland of technological marvels.

But somebody managed to blow up New Mexico-born terrorist Anwar al-Alwaki with an air strike while he was riding along out in the Yemeni boonies. While the Obama administration and Pentagon confirm that he is dead, nobody is talking about the details. FOX News confirms that it was U.S. jets and drones, but that's as far as it goes.

It’s a far cry from the leak-a-minute moments after Seal Team Six snuffed Usama bin Laden this summer and there will, presumably, be no situation room photos of the commander in chief released.

But al-Awlaki has been on the CIA’s hit list for more than a year and it has been widely reported that the U.S. continues to escalate its remote-control air campaign against al Qaeda in the woebegone Arabaian nation. Al-Awlaki has been directly connected to the Sept. 11 attacks as one of the spiritual advisers to the hijackers and has since worked from Yemen to encourage lone wolf attacks like the one that killed 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood. So why no official fist pumping?

The answer is that for an administration that has long insisted on providing full legal rights to foreign nationals who commit terrorist acts against the U.S., it’s a little icky to be rubbing out a U.S. citizen overseas on allegations of terrorism. Kahlid Sheik Mohmmed must be tried in Manhattan, but Awlaki, born in Las Cruses, N.M. and who led a mosque in Virginia, can just get whacked in Yemen?

Hawks won’t lose too much sleep over the idea of the dual citizen who openly plotted against the U.S. being killed in what they see as an ongoing war without borders, but the doves who helped lift Obama to the White House and who had misgivings even about the bin Laden hit, will not be happy about the new standard for the exercise of lethal force.

Pass This Bill… Or Not… Whatever

“The oil-producing state senators don’t like eliminating or reducing the subsidy for oil companies. There are some senators who are up for election who say I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people. So, we’re not gonna have 100% Democratic senators. That’s why it needs to be bi-partisan and I hope we can find some Republicans who will join us to make it happen.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, R-Ill., in an interview with Chicago radio station WLS.

Democratic opposition to President Obama’s proposal for stimulus spending and tax increases has been deeper than expected.

Even the items that administration officials said were bipartisan no-brainers have seen little support. In one surprise, Democrats have increasingly take up against the president’s plan to expand and extend payroll tax cuts. Sen. Joe Manchin and others have complained that the plan reduces funding for the already insolvent Social Security trust fund and has been seen to provide little actual hiring stimulus.

The president has had a difficult relationship with his former Senate colleagues, but the latest friction has been damaging to the president’s re-election campaign. Obama has made running against a do-nothing Republican House the centerpiece of his current Trumanic swing-state campaign blitz. But if Senate Democrats won’t push his bill forward, Obama loses his central piece of evidence on a do-nothing claim.

The White House has begun to scale back expectations for the package as the Democratic Senate has sat on the plan. It may have been a lack of coordination by the White House or simply a decision by Senate Democrats to stiff the leader of the party, but Obama has gotten no backup while he’s been out on the campaign trail.

And Now, A Word From Charles

“The problem here is the problem with all crony capitalism. It’s inefficient and its resistance – ultimately – to being corrupted is almost zero. It’s inefficient because experts or insiders who pick winners and losers are inevitably and almost always less efficient and wise in choosing investments than the market is. But apart from the inefficiency is corruption… There is no way in which proximity to power and having supported the president is not going to influence decisions of who gets the money and who is at the table when money is changing hands. Corruption is inherent to the process.”

-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

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Two U.S.-Born Terrorists Killed In CIA-Led Drone Strike | Fox News

Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency of the...Image via WikipediaTwo U.S.-Born Terrorists Killed In CIA-Led Drone Strike | Fox News

Thank you, again, David Patraeus, as no one gave you the credit due for Bin Laden.
Bless our Troops!

Terror - US

Two U.S.-Born Terrorists Killed in CIA-Led Drone Strike

By Jennifer Griffin & Justin Fishel
Published September 30, 2011
Senior Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and another America-born militant were killed in Yemen early Friday morning by a CIA-led U.S. drone strike, marking the highest-profile takedown of terror leaders since the raid on Usama bin Laden's compound.
Fox News has learned that two Predator drones hovering above al-Awlaki's convoy fired the Hellfire missiles which killed the terror leader. According to a senior U.S. official, the operation was carried out by Joint Special Operations Command, under the direction of the CIA. A total of four people were killed in the attack.

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President Obama called the strike a major "milestone" in the fight against Al Qaeda and its affiliates.
"The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al Qaeda's most active operational affiliate," Obama said Friday. "He took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans ... and he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda."
He said the strike is "further proof that Al Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world."
Al-Awlaki was a U.S.-born Islamic militant cleric who became a prominent figure with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the network's most active branch. He was involved in several terror plots in the United States in recent years, using his fluent English and Internet savvy to draw recruits to carry out attacks. President Obama signed an order in early 2010 making him the first American to be placed on the "kill or capture" list.
The Yemeni government and Defense Ministry announced al-Awlaki's death, without giving details. But American sources confirmed the CIA and U.S. military were behind the strike on al-Awlaki, whom one official described as a "big fish."
The strike hit a vehicle with other suspected Al Qaeda members inside, in addition to al-Awlaki. According to a U.S. senior official, the other American militant killed in the strike was Samir Khan, the co-editor of an English-language Al Qaeda web magazine called "Inspire."
Khan, in his 20s, was an American of Pakistani heritage from North Carolina. His magazine promoted attacks against U.S. targets, even running articles on how to put together explosives. In one issue, Khan wrote that he had moved to Yemen and joined Al Qaeda's fighters, pledging to "wage jihad for the rest of our lives."
The strike comes after a heavy presence of U.S. drones was spotted in the skies over the region over the last couple weeks, one source told Fox News.
The strike underscores the expanding nature of the drone program, which has migrated beyond the borders of Pakistan into Yemen, Somalia and other countries.
Yemeni security officials and local tribal leaders also said al-Awlaki was killed in an air strike on his convoy that they believed was carried out by the Americans.
Al-Awlaki would be the most prominent Al Qaeda figure to be killed since bin Laden's death in a U.S. raid in Pakistan in May. In July, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Yemeni-American was a priority target alongside Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden's successor as the terror network's leader.
The 40-year-old al-Awlaki had been in the U.S. crosshairs since his killing was approved by President Obama in April 2010 -- making him the first American placed on the CIA "kill or capture" list. At least twice, airstrikes were called in on locations in Yemen where al-Awlaki was suspected of being, but he wasn't harmed. In May, U.S. forces were able to track his truck but were unable to take him out.
Al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, was believed to be key in turning Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen into what American officials have called the most significant and immediate threat to the United States. The branch, led by a Yemeni militant named Nasser al-Wahishi, plotted several failed attacks on U.S. soil -- the botched Christmas 2009 attempt to blow up an American airliner heading to Detroit and a foiled 2010 attempt to send explosives to Chicago.
A former intelligence official said that with al-Awlaki gone, the branch "still retains a lot of capability."
But Richard Miniter, author of "Losing bin Laden," told Fox News that al-Awlaki's role will be "hard to replace."
"He understood American society very well. He understood American idioms and pop culture and how to appeal to Americans," he told Fox News. "It's very hard for them to replicate this."
Known as an eloquent preacher who spread English-language sermons on the Internet calling for "holy war" against the United States, al-Awlaki's role was to inspire and -- it is believed -- even directly recruit militants to carry out attacks.
He was not believed to be a key operational leader, but as a spokesman. His English skills gave him reach among second and third generation Muslims who may not speak Arabic.
Yemeni officials have said al-Awlaki had contacts with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the accused would-be Christmas plane bomber, who was in Yemen in 2009. They say the believe al-Awlaki met with the 23-year-old Nigerian, along with other Al Qaeda leaders, in Al Qaeda strongholds in the country in the weeks before the failed bombing.
In New York, the Pakistani-American man who pleaded guilty to the May 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt told interrogators he was "inspired" by al-Awlaki after making contact over the Internet.
Al-Awlaki also exchanged up to 20 emails with U.S. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, alleged killer of 13 people in the Nov. 5, 2009, rampage at Fort Hood. Hasan initiated the contacts, drawn by al-Awlaki's Internet sermons, and approached him for religious advice.
Al-Awlaki has said he didn't tell Hasan to carry out the shootings, but he later praised Hasan as a "hero" on his Web site for killing American soldiers who would be heading for Afghanistan or Iraq to fight Muslims. The cleric similarly said Abdulmutallab was his "student" but said he never told him to carry out the airline attack.
In a statement, the Yemeni government said al-Awlaki was "targeted and killed" 5 miles from the town of Khashef in the Province of al-Jawf. The town is located 87 miles east of the capital Sanaa.
The statement says the operation was launched on Friday around 9:55 a.m. It gave no other details.
The Yemeni Defense Ministry also reported the death, without elaborating, in a mobile phone SMS message.
Top U.S. counter terrorism adviser John Brennan says such cooperation with Yemen has improved since the political unrest there. Brennan said the Yemenis have been more willing to share information about the location of Al Qaeda targets, as a way to fight the Yemeni branch challenging them for power. Other U.S. officials say the Yemenis have also allowed the U.S. to fly more armed drone and aircraft missions over its territory than ever previously, trying to use U.S. military power to stay in power.
Fox News' Catherine Herridge and Mike Levine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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