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TODAY
Friday December 9th, 2016

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metctalf


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World & National
 
"The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people."
-- Justice Hugo L. Black
(1886-1971) US Supreme Court Justice
Giuliani pulls out of consideration to serve in administration

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Friday he had removed his name from consideration for a position in Donald Trump's new administration as the president-elect narrows the field of people he is considering for secretary of state.

Giuliani's withdrawal from consideration came after Trump made clear that he was broadening his search for a secretary of state beyond the four finalists transition aides had identified: Giuliani, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former CIA head David Petraeus and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.

In recent days, Trump has expanded his search for a secretary of state to include additional lawmakers and corporate executives, such as Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil Corp and Alan Mulally, a former executive at Ford Motor Co and Boeing Co.

The Wall Street Journal, citing two transition team officials, said Tillerson had emerged on Friday as the leading candidate for the State Department job. It said some Trump advisers saw Tillerson as a mold-breaking pick who would bring an executive's experience to the post of top U.S. diplomat.





Hypocrisy Personified
Reid calls for limits to his own methods as divisive tenure draws to close

           Sen. Harry Reid, the retiring Nevada Democrat who led the Senate Democrats for a dozen years, implored his party to stay strong in 2017. (Associated Press)

Sen. Harry Reid warned his colleagues not to abuse the filibuster, asked for a return to pork-barrel spending and begged them to find a way to limit the power of interest groups to spend money in elections, saying Thursday that the fate of American democracy depends on it.

The Nevada Democrat who led his party to political heights of a 60-vote majority, then watched as it slipped away over the last six years, delivered a pair of swan song speeches, regretting nothing from his hard-nosed approach to politics, while doling out advice to all who would listen.

He is retiring at the end of this year, capping a 34-year career including four years in the House, then the last three decades in the Senate. He has said he would have stuck around for another term but for an exercise injury in 2015 that left him entirely out of action for weeks and still hobbles him.



House wraps up year with vote to avert government shutdown
          The Capitol Building as seen in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. A day ahead of a government shutdown deadline, Congress scrambled on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, to wrap-up unfinished business, voting decisively to send President Barack Obama a defense policy bill but facing obstacles on a stopgap spending measure. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Democrats’ anger petered out Thursday as the House passed a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open for nearly five more months, paving the way for Congress to wrap up and head home to prepare for a change of power in the White House next year.

The Senate gave final approval to an annual defense policy bill that continues to tie President Obama’s hands on closing Guantanamo Bay, officially ending any last chance he had of making good on his promise to shutter the terrorist prison before he leaves office.

Senators must still approve the final spending deal, but after it was approved 326-96 in the House, the question is when, not if, the upper chamber will give it a final OK.



Obama blames U.S. intelligence for missing rise of the Islamic State
           President Obama said that during his eight years in charge, "no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland." (Associated Press)

As President Obama prepares to leave office without having destroyed the Islamic State, he’s selling the notion that U.S. intelligence agencies failed to warn him promptly about the rise of the terrorist group more than two years ago, an assertion raising howls of incredulity in some quarters.

The White House pushed that version of events Thursday, pointing to an assessment by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper in September 2014 that U.S. intelligence agencies “underestimated” the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS.

“Those are the facts,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

Mr. Obama told CNN in an interview that aired late Wednesday, “The ability of ISIL to not just mass inside of Syria, but then to initiate major land offensives that took Mosul [in Iraq], for example, that was not on my intelligence radar screen.”



Emboldened Iran hawks eager to press Tehran on Nuclear violations

Hawks critical of the Obama administration’s outreach to Iran over the past eight years were in a distinctly upbeat mood as they took over an ornate Senate caucus room Thursday to promote their cause. The incoming Trump administration, many said, understands their case and the threat posed by the regime in Tehran far better than President Obama ever did.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, were among the lawmakers saying Mr. Trump and the team he is assembling will clearly be more skeptical of Iran and ready to call out any violations of the multinational nuclear deal Mr. Obama helped negotiate in 2015.



Optimism on economy, stocks surges since Trump election: CNBC survey

The election of Donald Trump has brought with it a surge in optimism in the United States over the economy and stocks not seen in years.

The CNBC All-America Economic Survey for the fourth quarter found that the percentage of Americans who believe the economy will get better in the next year jumped an unprecedented 17 points to 42 percent, compared with before the election. It's the highest level since President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008.

The surge was powered by Republicans and independents reversing their outlooks. Republicans swung from deeply pessimistic, with just 15 percent saying the economy would improve in the next year, to strongly optimistic, with 74 percent believing in an economic upswing. Optimism among independents doubled but it fell by more than half for Democrats. Just 16 percent think the economy will improve.



Georgia's secretary of state: DHS tried to breach our firewall?

Georgia’s secretary of state has claimed the Department of Homeland Security tried to breach his office’s firewall and has issued a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson asking for an explanation.

Brian Kemp issued a letter to Johnson on Thursday after the state’s third-party cybersecurity provider detected an IP address from the agency’s Southwest D.C. office trying to penetrate the state’s firewall. According to the letter, the attempt was unsuccessful. 

The attempt took place on Nov. 15, a few days after the presidential election. The office of the Georgia Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing the state’s elections.



Obama Orders Review of Election Hacking

President Barack Obama has ordered intelligence officials to conduct a broad review on the election-season hacking that rattled the presidential campaign and raised new concerns about foreign meddling in U.S. elections, a White House official said Friday.

White House counterterrorism and Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco said Obama ordered officials to report on the hacking of Democratic officials' email accounts and Russia's involvement. The report is due to be submitted to the president before he leaves office next month. Monaco did not say if the report would be made public.



Trump's Wall is 'Shovel Ready' and 'Not That Expensive'

President-elect Donald Trump's proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border can be expected next year, and for a low cost, according to the Republican senator who chairs the committee overseeing immigration.

"In terms of federal spending, it's not going to be that expensive and if President Trump when he becomes president is talking about an infrastructure program, well this would be a shovel ready project," Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Friday, according to The Washington Examiner.

Johnson claimed that immigration fees can be imposed or increased to draw in funding from those seeking to enter the U.S., specifically from Mexico. Even with this, the wall may cost "a few billion."


 
Emanuel flips the bird when asked about 2020


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had a fiery response when asked Thursday night whether he would consider running for president in 2020.

The former White House chief of staff to President Obama and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton flipped off consultant Neil Hare — twice — after being posed the question at BLT Steak, prompting laughter from others at the bar.

Emanuel, famed for his coarse language and caustic retorts, was hanging out at the restaurant located blocks from the White House during a swing through Washington this week.



John Glenn dies at 95

Former Sen. John Glenn talks via satellite with the astronauts on the International Space Station in February 2012. In the background is a photo of him in 1962 as he prepared to pilot Friendship 7 around the Earth.

His legend is otherworldly and now, at age 95, so is John Glenn.

An authentic hero and genuine American icon, Glenn died this afternoon surrounded by family at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus after a remarkably healthy life spent almost from the cradle with Annie, his beloved wife of 73 years, who survives.




The killer wind from Hurricane Donald

They said it couldn’t be done, and even if it could, Donald Trump wouldn’t be the man to do it. But a fresh wind from somewhere is blowing through the jungle where the timid, the fearful and the politically correct cower in the shade of the no-no tree.

If the Donald were elected, wise men confidently told us, the economy would collapse, America’s friends abroad would die of diplomatic shock, rivers would run backward and the sun would never shine again. Oh, dear. Woe is us.

But suddenly, it’s woe that’s in retreat. The stock market is booming, Americans are smiling again as investor confidence grows and the Donald’s critics who were only yesterday predicting that the world would end by Christmas are no longer so sure. The world might stumble on until Easter.



The national infrastructure dilemna

It may fail spectacularly if environmental regulations aren’t reformed first

President-elect Donald Trump has proposed as one of his legislative priorities a $1 trillion national infrastructure program (“Trump’s infrastructure program,” Nov. 28). His goal of upgrading and modernizing America’s highways, airports, harbors, inland waterways, railways, electric transmission lines and water pipes and treatment plants — creating two million jobs in the process — is receiving broad bipartisan support. But it may fail as spectacularly as President Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus if the incoming Trump administration and congressional leaders don’t first reform federal environmental regulations.

Much of the infrastructure debate focuses on how to pay for the projects. Mr. Trump’s economic advisers Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro propose to privately finance most of the projects using debt financing, tax credits and future usage fees, such as road tolls. Trump critics consider the debt-financed private investment plan a betrayal of the public interest, forcing regressive user fees on poorer Americans and bypassing pressing needs if they are less profitable to private companies.

Mr. Trump may well achieve a legislative balance that addresses both financing and impact issues. But current federal environmental regulations render nearly impossible the ability to even break ground on any new project, perhaps not until after the end of Mr. Trump’s term.


"It is discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit."
-- Noel Coward
     (1899-1973) British playwright


Medal of Honor
Army Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
GeneTrerally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
The first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to Private JACOB PARROTT.The last award of the Medal of Honor was made September 15, 2011 to Sergeant DAKOTA MEYER.

Since then there have been:  • 3458 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
    • Today there are 85 Living Recipients of the Medal of Honor. 

Citation

Captain Humbert R. Versace distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period of 29 October 1963 to 26 September 1965, while serving as S-2 Advisor, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Detachment 52, Ca Mau, Republic of Vietnam. While accompanying a Civilian Irregular Defense Group patrol engaged in combat operations in Thoi Binh District, An Xuyen Province, Captain Versace and the patrol came under sudden and intense mortar, automatic weapons, and small arms fire from elements of a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged, Captain Versace, although severely wounded in the knee and back by hostile fire, fought valiantly and continued to engage enemy targets. Weakened by his wounds and fatigued by the fierce firefight, Captain Versace stubbornly resisted capture by the over-powering Viet Cong force with the last full measure of his strength and ammunition. Taken prisoner by the Viet Cong, he exemplified the tenets of the Code of Conduct from the time he entered into Prisoner of War status. Captain Versace assumed command of his fellow American soldiers, scorned the enemy's exhaustive interrogation and indoctrination efforts, and made three unsuccessful attempts to escape, despite his weakened condition which was brought about by his wounds and the extreme privation and hardships he was forced to endure. During his captivity, Captain Versace was segregated in an isolated prisoner of war cage, manacled in irons for prolonged periods of time, and placed on extremely reduced ration. The enemy was unable to break his indomitable will, his faith in God, and his trust in the United States of America. Captain Versace, an American fighting man who epitomized the principles of his country and the Code of Conduct, was executed by the Viet Cong on 26 September 1965. Captain Versace's gallant actions in close contact with an enemy force and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect the utmost credit upon himself and the United States Army.


Archives: Geoff Metcalf/NewsMax January 14, 2010

Plunging Approval Shouldn't Surprise Democratic Bullies  
 By Geoff Metcalf  
 
Reasonable people can disagree (or should be able to) reasonably when they honestly consider facts that may contradict their preconceived opinions and prejudices.

 However, unfortunately, especially in the partisan environment of politics, reason, honest analysis, and fairness too quickly become victims of the “us-vs.-them” thing. Politics has become a blood sport in which the only golden rule is “the team with the gold makes the rules.”

 Politicians who were elected to represent the best interests, wants, and desires of their constituents morph into petty, agenda-driven competitors quick to eschew reason for partisanship. Sadly, this axiomatic reality is universal and not exclusive to any one party.

 Politics is supposed to be the art of compromise. However, it increasingly has become a blood sport personifying the absolute worse elements of abuse of power under the color of authority.

President Barack Obama, a year after promising "change" and a kumbaya tsunami of bipartisan cooperation, now reluctantly admits that he has not succeeded in bringing the country together. In a recent People magazine interview, the president begrudgingly acknowledged an atmosphere of divisiveness that has washed away the lofty national feeling surrounding his inauguration a year ago.http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/28/philadelphia-denies-sanctuary-city-status-but-just/

 "That's what's been lost this year. . . that whole sense of changing how Washington works," Obama said.

 "What I haven't been able to do in the midst of this crisis is bring the country together in a way that we had done in the inauguration," he said, referring to last Jan. 20, when hundreds of thousands flooded into Washington to see him sworn in as America's first black president. . . before reality and buyer's remorse.

 The simple reality is that Obama has failed because he and his party's leadership (or, critics will argue, LACK of leadership) have failed — failed to do what they said they would do, and failed to do anything the "way" they promised.

 Notwithstanding lofty eloquence, consensus, and "unity" cannot be mandated by imperial decree. Partisan acrimony is not and cannot be bridled by harangue, bullying, or bludgeon. Politics is the art of compromise, and the facts in evidence demonstrate that this administration and this Democrat-led Congress have not been disposed to engage in compromise.http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/2/have-hillary-clintons-scandals-topped-richard-nixo/

 Rather, the Democrats have embraced a ham-fisted, "our-way-or-the-highway" forced imposition of their will.

Now, in the wake of spelunking poll numbers, rampant buyer's remorse, and a previously unimagined nostalgia for the Carter administration, Democrats seem shocked, amazed, and confused that more than half the country not only does not approve of what they are trying to do but also dislikes how they are doing it.

 Blaming the dark sky and coming ice age on Bush (or Reagan or Nixon or Eisenhower or Lincoln) is a worn-out dog that flat-out ain't gonna hunt.

 When Mr. Cool was promising "change," little did anyone assume that change might result in a Republican's winning Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat. (But that could happen, and soon.)

 It is a sad reality that, at the same time our military significantly has improved the quality of the U.S. troops who serve, the civilian leadership and politicians have regressed to a level reminiscent of uneducated feudal bullies.

 The military is smarter, more fit, better equipped, and as committed as any generation from Valley Forge to Iwo Jima or Pleiku to Bosnia. We have an all-volunteer military that is dedicated to protecting you. Conversely, the political arena is littered with disingenuous, duplicitous partisans who long since have abandoned their constituents for the next political victory (and/or pork-laden earmark).

 I recently re-read Robert Humphrey's "Living Values for a New Millennium" in preparation for a seminar entitled "Clarifying American Core Values" in February.

 In a 1997 speech before professor Humphrey passed away, he said that top leadership, in both our civilian or military government, is afraid even to discuss this apparent decisive need for new thinking both at home and overseas. Thirteen years ago, he observed that the news media and public opinion polls advise, "The people sense a moral bankruptcy in Washington" with a bickering inability in government to face these deeper problems.

Wherever you go, you are little bit safer because of the military and yet more at risk because of the coat-room shenanigans of Congress. Wherever the military sets a boot, everyone has a friend, a defender, and a champion. However, politicians seem more concerned about the next PAC contribution than the wants, needs, or well-being of the very people they were elected to represent.

 Ambrose Evans-Pritchard once wrote, “Moral relativism has set in so deeply that the gilded classes have become incapable of discerning right from wrong. Everything can be explained away, especially by journalists. Life is one great moral mush — sophistry washed down with Chardonnay.”



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