Reports such as the one below are doubtlessly causing erections galore among "truthers" but they should not. There are innumerable examples of intelligence warnings being ignored because the decision-makers simply didn't WANT to believe them.
For instance, the excellent Soviet spy apparatus gave Stalin ample warning that Hitler was going to attack Russia but Stalin refused to heed or act on the warnings -- probably because he a had a treaty with Germany and did not believe that Hitler could be as treacherous as he was.
And the events of 9/11 were so outlandish and unprecedented that it was reasonable to discount them as just scaremongering from Middle Eastern blowhards
Former President George Bush was given a series of direct warnings throughout 2001 about the possibility of a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda - but failed to take them seriously, it was claimed today.
On the eleventh anniversary of the atrocity, it has been reported that the White House received multiple briefs between May and August that year about an attack with explosives and numerous casualties.
But the president continually failed to take any significant action and questioned the thoroughness of the briefings - leading to huge frustrations within the CIA.
The retrospective report was lambasted as 'unfair' and a 'disservice to history' by George Pataki, the New York state governor during 9/11 who praised Bush's leadership in the months after the attacks.
But it shows the repeated warnings came before the famous top secret briefing - which has previously been reported - given to Bush on August 6 with the heading 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S'.
Just a few weeks later on September 11, terrorists smashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York City - killing nearly 3,000 people and horrifying the world.
Details of the other briefings given to Mr Bush and his administration - which have never been made public - have now been revealed by The New York Times.
However, the new neoconservative leaders at the Pentagon told the White House that the CIA had been fooled. They believed that Bin Laden was pretending to plan an attack to distract the U.S. from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Following the devastating attacks on 9/11, the White House - which was receiving criticism it had ignored CIA warnings - said it had never been told when or where the attacks would take place.
Yet many have claimed that if the government had been on high security alert over that summer they may have found out about the planned attack - and saved the lives of thousands.
The Democrats' Fake Freedoms
The 2012 Democratic platform includes 1,400 words on "Protecting Rights and Freedoms." Among the alleged rights that the Democrats promise to defend: freedom from "discrimination in the workplace and other settings," "paycheck fairness" for women, "job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons," "evidence-based and age-appropriate sex education," government subsidies for Planned Parenthood and taxpayer-supported health care, including "free access" to "prenatal screenings, mammograms, cervical cancer screening, breast-feeding supports and contraception." These items all amount to promises of other people's money or demands that they be compelled to enter into contracts they would otherwise eschew.
Even "putting Americans back to work" -- a rather vague mandate that presumably means whatever President Obama says it does -- appears in the section on "rights and freedoms," specifically as a women's issue.
Why? Because "the challenges of supporting and raising a family are often primarily a woman's responsibility." All right then.
The platform does mention a few real rights, including "the individual right to bear arms." I also give the Democrats credit for "freedom to marry," since they argue (persuasively, in my view) that equality under the law means the government should not discriminate between couples based on sexual orientation.
Similarly, "a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion," is based on a constitutional argument -- not a very sound one, at least as laid out in Roe v. Wade, but nevertheless an argument about the proper relationship between government and the individual. True to form, the Democrats immediately add that women have a right to obtain abortions "regardless of ability to pay," once again conflating freedom from coercion with a claim on other people's resources. If the right to arms does not entail a right to gun subsidies, why would a right to abortion entail a right to abortion subsidies?
This fundamental confusion about rights was on display throughout the Democratic convention. Although Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, opposes legal restrictions on contraceptives, Fluke warned that a vote for him would be a vote for "an America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it." Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards likewise claimed that if you question government subsidies for her organization, or if you think insurers and employers should not be forced to offer health plans that cover contraceptives, you "want to end access to birth control."
Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, declared that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act shows Obama "believes in a woman's right to make her own decisions." Yes, as long as the woman is not an insurer, an employer or a consumer interested in a health plan that does not meet the government's specifications.
Keenan also praised Obama for defending Fluke's "right to tell her story." At last: an actual right! Fluke surely should be free to tell her story, but that does not mean we have to listen.
Forward to What, Democrats?
"Forward" is a perfectly appropriate slogan for progressives. Progress suggests forward or upward motion. That's why revolutionaries and radicals as well as liberal incrementalists have always embraced some derivation of the forward trope. So ingrained are these directional concepts in our political language, we often forget they are mere geographic metaphors applied -- and often misapplied -- to policy disputes.
For instance, some on the left might see enrolling more people on food stamps as a step in the right direction, moving us "forward" to a more generous and all-encompassing welfare state. But other self-described progressives might see a swelling of the food stamp rolls to be a step backward, either in strict accounting terms (we are, after all, broke) or even in cultural terms. Some Democrats have even been known to brag when they've gotten people off the food stamp rolls.
In other words, even for progressives, what counts as moving forward depends entirely on where you want to go -- and where you think you've been.
And that's where the Democratic Party, and liberalism itself, tends to get horribly confused. According to President Obama and the whole team of Democratic all-stars, we've been moving forward to a better place these last four years.
Joe Biden shouted from the podium, "America is coming back, and we're not going back!"
"Back to what?" you might ask. The answers to that question are usually no less vague for being passionately stated. Perhaps the ugliest answer, an insinuation really, came from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement. He seemed to suggest that a vote for Mitt Romney was a vote to return to the Jim Crow era and the beatings Lewis endured to overturn it.
A more common answer came from Obama. "After all that we've been through, I don't believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand or the laid-off construction worker keep his home," he explained to a enraptured crowd. "We have been there, we've tried that, and we're not going back."
This is an appeal to the mythology of the Bush years as some kind of anarcho-capitalist dystopia in which "market fundamentalism" reigned and Republicans tried to shrink government to the point where "we can drown it in the bathtub" (to quote anti-tax activist Grover Norquist).
This was always a bizarre liberal hallucination. Government grew massively under President Bush. He was a bigger spender than any previous president going back to Lyndon Johnson. He massively expanded entitlements, grew food stamp enrollment (almost as much as Obama) and nearly doubled "investments" in education. He created a new Cabinet agency -- Homeland Security -- and signed into law sweeping new regulations, like No Child Left Behind, Sarbanes-Oxley and McCain-Feingold.
This, according to Democrats, amounts to telling Americans "you're on your own."
Ironically, it was Bill Clinton who mocked Republicans last week for conjuring an "alternative universe" where Americans are self-reliant individualists. The real truth is that Democrats rely on fantasy worlds -- including a past that never was -- in order to make walking in circles seem like progress.
Uncle Sam: Chief persecutor of Americans living abroad
Legal shackles push expatriate Americans to keep their money in their mattresses
There are many things American residents do not realize about their 6 million or so countrymen living abroad. One of them is that the United States—unlike every other country in the world except Eritrea—taxes its citizens based on passport, not residence. If my French-American daughter moved to Lyon tomorrow and lived there for the rest of her life, she would be obliged to file a U.S. tax return every year, including all those aforementioned intimate and convoluted banking details. (So convoluted that my paid tax preparer this year contemplated the TD 90-22.1 form used to report holdings in foreign financial institutions, shrugged, and handed me a highlighter pen in case I could figure the damned thing out.)
But it gets worse for our expatriate friends. That’s because in 2010 a revenue-starved populist Congress passed an abomination of a law called the Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (or—you guessed it!—FATCA) “to combat tax evasion by U.S. persons holding investments in offshore accounts.” The law jacked up the penalties for those of us above the $10,000 threshold and created a new form-filling threshold at the $50,000 level ($100,000 for joint filers). It also charged IRS agents with determining whether the foreign assets Americans report were properly taxed before being parked abroad. “Underpayments of tax attributable to non-disclosed foreign financial assets,” the IRS website warns, “will be subject to an additional substantial understatement penalty of 40 percent.” Worse, FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to disclose information about their American customers to the IRS and send 30 percent of assets believed to be untaxed directly to the U.S. government.
Close your eyes for five seconds and imagine what “unintended” consequence might result from such an unprecedented power grab in the name of bringing rich tax outlaws to heel. Yes, that’s right: Nonrich Americans the globe over can no longer open bank accounts.
A group called American Citizens Abroad collected dozens of stories from such Americans for an April 2012 letter to the IRS. Here’s an American retiree and former nongovernmental organization employee who has lived in Geneva for all but four years since 1973: “Just since the beginning of the year, I have been informed by one of Switzerland’s two largest banking institutions that due to the fact that I am an American, I had to divest myself of all my investment holdings in their financial institution. Another bank agreed to accept my investments; then, just this month, on the day that I went to sign the papers, I was informed that the authority to do this had been withdrawn.…I feel that I now am being squeezed between my country of citizenship and my country of residence and they are forcing me to choose my mattress as the only site where I can place my savings. I am an American who loves my country. I always have filed my U.S. income tax return.…I do not understand why my government is treating me this way.”
Suddenly (and I mean “why doesn’t my ATM card work anymore?” suddenly), expatriate Americans are discovering they can no longer use banks where they live. Some are opting to renounce their U.S. citizenship rather than continue dealing with the hassle. A presumed record of at least 1,788 Americans turned in their passports in 2011. We know that number because the IRS publishes a “name and shame” list of citizenship renouncers it suspects of evading taxes each year.
Who are these hateful tax evaders? Some are billionaires, such as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, a longtime Singapore resident and dual national who renounced his U.S. citizenship in advance of his company’s initial public offering. But many are guys like Peter Dunn, a dual American-Canadian citizen, married to a Canadian, who has lived abroad for a quarter of a century, and who (according to a Reuters article) “felt American citizenship had become more of a liability than a privilege.”
“If it was just me then it would be one thing,” Dunn told Reuters in April. “Disclosing joint accounts I hold with my wife and anyone I ever want to do business with—that’s just too much. My wife’s account is none of their business.” FATCA is “making life difficult for a lot of people,” he said. “It’s driving us away.”
What’s the upside of such harassment? The U.S. Treasury projects that increased FATCA enforcement will bring in a little less than $1 billion a year. The federal government spends about that much every two and a half hours. And in case the cost-benefit formula isn’t whacked enough, consider that Swiss and other European expatriate executives who live and work in America are seeing their home-country bank accounts unceremoniously shuttered by financial institutions that just don’t want to deal anymore with anything involving the United States. In an age of globalization, when countries that trade are countries that thrive, Washington is making it much more difficult for Americans to live abroad and for the best and brightest foreigners to live here.
A note on U.S. air travel
All that I hear about air-travel in the U.S. these days makes me glad I did my travelling in the U.S. years ago when the world was young (i.e. before the TSA and other modern decrements in comfort and civility). But I was still not quite prepared for the report from family members travelling in the USA at the moment accompanied by their young baby (Matthew, 1 year old). This is what the father wrote:
The DELTA Airlines flight from L.A to New York was really Budget and scary! Scary because the inside of the plane was just not looked after. Gaping holes, huge visible cracks and grubby. This last leg seemed also to drag but I managed to get 1 hour sleep. Matthew had no bassinette so we had him on our laps but he slept almost the whole way. We asked the stewardess about the “baby seat belt” used to attach to our seat belts. We are required to use these on our Aussie flights. The stewardess said “Oh we don’t have those – you just hold him” :-O
Worse than I thought -- JR.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)