The United States government has acknowledged that four Americans were killed by counterterrorism drone strikes since 2009. The announcement was made in a letter written by Attorney General Eric Holder to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. In the letter, Holder stated that only one of the four was specifically targeted, but the administration were fully aware of the other three deaths.
Since 2009 the United States has been conducting counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda and other associated forces outside of areas of active hostilities. These four deaths, that were kept classified until now, were apart of those operations in Yemen and Pakistan. Many conclusions can be drawn just by looking at the headline of “four Americans killed in drone strikes” but these so-called Americans were not friendly with the country that they were aligned.
The four individuals that were killed were clearly being labeled as associated with al Qaeda or other terror groups and actively planning to kill Americans. The one direct target of a drone strike on a U.S. citizen was Anwar al-Aulaqi, who was named as a senior operational leader of al Qaeda. In addition to various other planned attacks, al-Aulaqi was also involved in assisting the attempted attack of an airplane headed to Detroit on Christmas 2009.
Three others also killed were Samir Khan, Adul Rahman Anwar al-Aulaqi and Jude Kenan Mohammed. It’s being reported that Khan was killed in the same drone strike that killed al-Aulaqi, the 16-year-old son of al-Aulaqi was killed in a strike two weeks after his father and Mohammed was killed in another strike in Pakistan.
This is just the most current step taken by the Obama administration to keep the public updated on counterterorrism operations. President Obama made a pledge in the State of the Union to ensure more transparency to the American people and to the world in our country’s efforts to combat terrorism. That’s a pledge that will likely be reiterated by the president in a speech planned on Thursday.
Despite the letter, Holder agrees that there still may be some unanswered questions that may be addressed when the president speaks publicly about this and other counterterrorism efforts in the speech.
Not for nothin’ but the threat of terrorism is real. We recently faced a terror attack in Boston, but we are still at war with al Qaeda. If anything, it confirms that we should be more vigilant. Terrorist can and will come in all different shapes and forms. They could be European, Middle Eastern or American. At at times of war, it may not be opportune to capture enemies, but to use lethal force against anyone who poses a continuing, imminent threat to Americans. What’s the problem with that?
If you’ve been paying attention to political and financial news since the election, much of what you’ve been watching has been dominated by talks of the Fiscal Cliff. But for those of us who are not paying close attention, and even some of us who are paying very close attention, it’s still pretty difficult to explain exactly what the hell this “cliff” is and why is it so fiscal. If you do decide to look in to it and not get immediately bored you’re still left with questions like what is the fiscal cliff, what is the fuss all about, why is it so important, and what does it have to do with you? Well, short answer is you probably shouldn’t care as much. They way it’s being talked about though, one could be led to believe that at the end of the year if something (who knows what that may be) isn’t done this country could be headed for disaster. Even the terminology of the imaginary cliff leads us to believe that we could be headed for a stark free fall.
So at this point we only know the political and financial world is coming to an end. How, is the big question though. Starting January 1, 2013 several laws are set to change which would cause tax increases and spending cuts for many. The reduction of what the federal government spends from what is makes would be cut almost in half, which is what’s causing some to call it a fiscal cliff. At the beginning of the year the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011 are scheduled to go into effect. Workers would be taxed an additional two percent, businesses would lose certain tax breaks, additional taxes from the Affordable Health Care Act go in effect, and other items could all effect stock market confidence. But that’s what it’s all about anyway, stock market confidence, that’s the road our economy follows.
Well if you are still with me and those last couple of lines didn’t make you start bashing your head in with your mouse, know there’s good news ahead. Even though it had been termed fiscal cliff by Ben Bernake, when he described what would take place at the start of the new year, many analyst would say it’s not as steep, if you will. A fiscal slope or fiscal hill would be a more proper description. If nothing changed in the laws, we’d see little to nothing happen immediately. The effects would come in the later weeks and months if the United States government cannot get it resolved. So getting it resolved by the end of the year wouldn’t be exactly dire. Again, if an agreement isn’t reached the best we’d see in the first week of January is a drop in the stock market. But that could happen either way.
Not for nothin’ but don’t be fooled. This fiscal cliff is just an excuse to keep politics in the headlines. Often times we’ve seen and heard how our government disagrees, specifically when there’s a president from one party and Congress is controlled by the other party. The two of them don’t see eye to eye on many issues, and the fiscal cliff is another one. It’s not like they’re going to willing allow our country to go down the drain. And if all else fails, they’ll find some extension to take us through to a point like we have now and we’ll see another crisis next year. But if you still have concerns, think back to about a year ago when there was significant talk on another financial issue that our government had to work through. If the debt ceiling doesn’t ring any bells to you now, then this fiscal cliff would likely leave the same impression.
*If you are still not sure what the fiscal cliff is, don’t worry you’re not dumb because the majority of the population isn’t sure either. And don’t feel bad for not caring.
Tuesday we had our second presidential debate of the 2012 general election. The Republican candidate Mitt Romney took on the incumbent President Barack Obama. The first debate, from two weeks ago, had all sorts of mixed reviews, but the bulk of them had Mitt Romney looking good and the president not as much. All week long people talked about how bad the president performed in the first televised debate. Post debate polls had Governor Romney taking a slight lead among likely voters. The vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan provided some relief for Democrats as Vice President Biden seemed to attack more and be more of a debater. This time around, Obama needed a positive result, and it looked like it worked. For those of you scoring at home, it would seem that Governor Romney won the first one and President Obama won the last one. So let’s take a look at those who are keeping score.
According to a new CNN poll, out of 457 registered voters, 46% say President Obama won the debate Tuesday night, as opposed to 39% for Governor Romney. Another group of 430 people who were polled after the first debate on October 3rd had the debate 67% to 25% in favor of Romney. It is known that some people intend on watching the debates objectively, but others of course are rooting for their candidate of choice. By now, the majority of America has their mind made up on who they will be voting for in November. Typically we fall along party lines and vote with whoever aligns best with our ideologies. These debates serve to try to convince those voters otherwise and to capture the vote of the undecided voter, the people who have not committed their vote one way or another. These people are the ones who’s “scorecard” matters most.
We’ve seen undecided voters play significant parts in recent elections. Several states such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia have great populations of voters who sometimes vote Democrat and sometimes vote Republican. How have they been watching and gauging the debate between the two candidates is the question. The lay person can watch the debate, and no matter who they admit to performing best, they’re still probably going to vote for whoever is in their party. The so-called “winner” of the debate is allegedly decided by the non-committed voter. If one poll leaned toward one candidate after the first debate, then those polled were those who could be swayed. If the other candidate won the following debate then those same swayed voters would have to come back the other way. If undecided voters were watching attentively then they will decide the ultimate winner of the debate on Tuesday, November 6th.
Not for nothin’ but can someone really win without a score? There’s no official count in debates, and this is definitely not a game. So why must we declare a winner; just to appease the undecided voter and the public for an outcome? You win when you vote. Decide on whoever you want to win, if you haven’t done so already, and vote. Most of us have decided. A debate will probably not influence us any further. If I’m a 49ers fan, and they lose a game, I’m still going to like the 49ers and think their the best team ever. And with the way voter turnout is these days, the undecided voter is losing the “voter” part of their name. Usually it’s people who are not going to vote, don’t care to vote, or who don’t know what they are voting for. These are the people who are going to decide who the president will be?
This week the Obama campaign is starting to roll out their newest campaign strategy in their fresh television ad featuring longtime child television icon, Big Bird. The puppet from Sesame Street is part of Obama’s ad referencing his opponent’s campaign calling the bird a “menace to our economy.” The first presidential debate from last week brought us new high and low-lights that media are now recognizing. One of those lowlights is the resurgence of Big Bird. During last week’s debate, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said he’d cut funding from Public Broadcasting Service, including a direct threat to Big Bird. Since then the comment has been turning heads and became a new focal point to his opposition. It’s only natural for the Obama campaign to take advantage of it, no matter where to would lead.We’ve seen campaign strategies use symbols before, and even mention their opponents shortcomings to their advantage. Since the giant bird’s name was evoked, Romney has received some backlash. One of the first reported instances was in the form of a letter sent to his campaign and to the Huffington Post. The letter addressed to Governor Romney was allegedly written by an 8-year-old girl, upset that the candidate mentioned that he’d cut funding to Big Bird. In an elementary style rant, the child wrote, “You find something else to cut off!” Likely the highlight of the debate the next day, the letter was the main topic of discussion from the whole debate. President Obama has gone to campaign events joking about how Romney wants to crackdown on Sesame Street, getting a rise out of crowds, but sneers from the other side.
The ad, which is now running on cable stations around the country, is being frowned upon by PBS who has already asked the campaign to remove Big Bird. The ad that mocks Romney for his memorable line is the latest event in this general election season where we’ve seen the race almost at a dead heat. Mitt Romney, who is widely accepted to have won the debate, despite threatening Big Bird, is finding new life and gaining ground against President Obama. The Obama campaign is using this one so-called misstep as a way to save face, but it’s turning this race to the range of outrageousness.
Not for nothin’ but if Big Bird is becoming an issue in the election, then outrageous would mean flat-out desperate. In the last presidential election cycle we had John McCain using all sorts of desperation moves to help his campaign come out on top. In 2008 we saw other symbols like Joe the Plumber, comparing Obama to celebrities, Tito the Builder and of course the all-time Hail Mary of his vice presidential pick. There are new polls that are showing Romney with a post-debate lead, but did that first debate cause that much of a difference? And will Big Bird be enough for the Obama campaign to hold over until the next debate. But if Obama has another performance like he had last week, he’ll need more than just Big Bird to help. Maybe Mighty Mouse will be able to save the day?
To view the Obama for America TV Ad featuring Big Bird, click here.