In a Time of Universal Deceit, Telling the Truth is Revolutionary.
Thursday, December 2, 2021

U.S. spends $75 billion a year on intel

Intelligence activities across the U.S. government and military cost a total of $75 billion a year, the nation’s top intelligence official said on Tuesday, disclosing an overall number long shrouded in secrecy.

Dennis Blair, the U.S. director of national intelligence, cited the figure as part of a four-year strategic blueprint for the sprawling, 200,000-person intelligence community.

In an unclassified version of the blueprint released by Blair’s office, intelligence agencies singled out as threats Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea’s “erratic behavior,” and insurgencies fueled by militant groups, though Blair cited gains against al Qaeda.

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Rangel: Obama screwed up

A key House committee chairman says proposals President Barack Obama set out in his health care speech are causing problems for Democrats trying to finalize health legislation in the House.

Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel of New York says House Democrats would have to slash subsidies to the poor to get their bill to the $900 billion, 10-year price tag Obama specified.

Rangel also noted that the president didn’t mention the new income tax on the wealthy that House Democrats want to use to pay for their bill, favoring a different approach instead. The congressman said “the restrictions that the president has given in his speech as well as the proposed discussions in the Senate has caused us more problems.

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Bernanke: Recession ‘is very likely over’

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday the worst recession since the 1930s is probably over, although he cautioned that pain — especially for the nearly 15 million unemployed Americans — will persist.

Bernanke said the economy likely is growing now, but he warned that won’t be sufficient to prevent the unemployment rate, now at a 26-year high of 9.7 percent, from rising.

“From a technical perspective, the recession is very likely over at this point,” Bernanke said in responding to questions at the Brookings Institution. “It’s still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time because many people will still find that their job security and their employment status is not what they wish it was.”

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Panel recommends keeping color alert codes

After a 60-day review of the nation’s terror-alert system, a special task force is expected to recommend that the Obama administration keep color-coded alerts, but reduce the number of colors — or levels of risk.

There are currently five colors in the coded terrorism advisories, long derided by late night TV comics and portrayed by some Democrats as a tool for Bush administration political manipulation.

A bipartisan task force is expected to recommend reducing that to three colors, an official familiar with the review told The Associated Press. The official did not provide details of spoke on condition of anonymity because the results of the review have not publicly been released. The review period concludes Tuesday.

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Memo to Barack: Take what you can get

There are times in any legislative endeavor when you should take what you can get and hope to win the rest later. That’s the point President Obama is fast approaching in regard to health care reform. His constant, full-campaign-mode jawboning has probably run its course in effectiveness.

He apparently understands that the public insurance option is a non-starter despite paying it some lip service to appease the Democratic ultra liberal base that favors it as the first step toward a single payer system leading ultimately to the real goal — socialized medicine. Majority Democrats in Congress are divided over it, and the Republican minority and an increasing majority of Americans want none of it, if the polls are correct.

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Obama hedges on Afghan war

The Obama administration is holding off major decisions that could put its military forces on a firmer war footing in Afghanistan even as doubts grow about whether the United States can win there.

Many military and diplomatic leaders have urged President Barack Obama to send thousands more Marines, soldiers and pilots to try to reverse Afghanistan’s crumbling security situation.

But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has said no decision about adding troops is expected for “weeks and weeks,” following what he described as intensive evaluation. The troop decision will be a first indicator of whether Obama intends to double down in Afghanistan, becoming a wartime president in earnest.

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Dems not happy with Baucus health plan

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has been trying for months to write a health care bill that could win Republican support. If he succeeds he may find it’s fellow Democrats he has to worry about.

Baucus, D-Mont., said Monday that “we’re getting very close” to finalizing sweeping health legislation to enact President Barack Obama’s priorities of extending coverage to most of the 50 million uninsured and holding down spiraling health care costs.

Following weeks of closed-door negotiations with two other Democratic senators and three Republicans, Baucus plans to unveil his bill Wednesday, and he hopes Republicans are with him. Such a bargain could mark a turning point for Obama’s top domestic priority.

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Can Obama back up his threats?

The Associated Press account of the president’s lecture to Wall Street begins:” “President Barack Obama sternly warned against returning to reckless and unchecked behavior that had threatened the nation with a second Great Depression.”

Or else what?

A year ago was the nadir of the financial meltdown. Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. So did Washington Mutual. There was the fire sale of Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns. The massive bailout of AIG. The government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As Obama noted, $5 trillion of American household wealth evaporated in just three months.

The outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration vowed never again. We had learned our lesson.

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Obama caves to big labor

This didn’t take long. Late Friday President Obama imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese-made lower price tires and by Sunday China had announced it was considering tit-for-tat tariffs on imports of U.S. chicken and auto products.

It’s hard to see this as anything other than Obama currying favor with organized labor and Rust Belt Democrats at a critical point in his drive for health-care reform. The United Steel Workers had sought the tariff, saying 5,000 jobs had been lost in the industry since 2005. But U.S. tire makers had opposed it. They had largely gotten out of the low-end market and both Goodyear and Cooper make tires in China for sale in the United States.

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Wilson faces rebuke from House

Barring a last-minute apology to Congress, Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina faces what is likely to be a partisan vote scolding him for shouting “You lie!” at President Barack Obama.

Democratic aides said House leaders were preparing to introduce a resolution of disapproval Tuesday afternoon, with a vote likely later in the day.

Democrats confirmed Monday night that they were moving forward with the rebuke.

Wilson has apologized to the White House for his outburst last week during Obama’s speech to Congress. But Democrats say Wilson also should apologize to Congress for what they call an unprecedented breach of decorum.

Wilson has refused to do so, saying his initial apology was sufficient.

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