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Belmont Club


October 27th, 2013 - 8:28 pm

Although German newspaper reports say that President Obama authorized the bugging of German chancellor Angela Merkel from at least 2010, administration officials now say the President was completely unaware of the program. The BBC reports:

German media say the US has been tapping the chancellor’s phone since 2002, and Mr Obama was told in 2010. …

A report in German tabloid Bild am Sonntag claimed that Gen Alexander had told the president about the bugging himself. An NSA source told the paper that Obama had not stopped the operation, and had wanted to know all about Mrs Merkel as “he did not trust her”. …

However a statement from the National Security Agency on Sunday denied the reports in Bild.

“[General] Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel,” NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said.

The Wall Street Journal adds that President Obama was unaware that the NSA was spying on 35 world leaders until he read about it in the press.

“These decisions are made at NSA,” a senior U.S. official told WSJ. “The president doesn’t sign off on this stuff.”

Of course. The exception of course being George W. Bush. Betcha he signed off on it as the one and only exception to the rule. Him and Dick Cheney.  Poor president Obama simply got caught holding the bag from the evil Bush years.

Still, the president’s advisers are not doing a very good job of keeping him the loop, judging by the results. For example, health Secretary Sebelius said the President was unaware that the Obamacare website was having problems until two days after the launch. It will be recalled that President Obama was also unaware that anyone had threatened the survivors of the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi with reprisals until it was mentioned to him.

60 Minutes has a special on Benghazi and they’ve concluded it was a actually overt al-Qaeda attack that the security people had been warning about for weeks. However, the administration believed for many days afterward it was in response to a YouTube video produced in LA, a story which Susan Rice told all the talk shows in the days that followed. Of course the president would have been unaware of it at the time. Dang! Now CBS tells him.

It’s disturbing that there’s so much he doesn’t know.

But his lack of recollection may simply be due to the fact that he skips his briefings. In September 2012 Marc Thiessen, writing in the Washington Post noted that president Obama attended less than half of his intelligence briefings. “During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent.”

A 38 percent attendance means President Obama picks up only slightly over one in every three characters in the stream of data passed before him. “We tapped Merkel’s phone” comes out as “We phone” — so who can blame the president for being unaware of what that really meant?  Moreover, there was a when time president Obama, laboring under the heavy duties of state, got his briefings on an Ipad without benefit of human intervention. Around the period leading up to the attack on Benghazi he began to rely on this device, according to a blog in the New York Times.

Starting earlier this year, some information was provided to him through the iPad.

But as the campaign season has intensified, he has been on the road a lot more and some intelligence officials have noticed there are fewer in-person briefings. A review of the president’s public schedule shows that Mr. Obama received his briefing in person at the White House 13 times in April, the month before he formally kicked off his re-election drive. By August, he received it in person at the White House 10 times. By the time of the attack in Libya and protests in Egypt, he had gone a week without an in-person briefing, since Sept. 5.

He could genuinely say, when informed the Benghazi consulate was burning, ‘what consulate?’ But the lack of briefings were probably offset by the president’s superlative intelligence, which were vividly characterized by Valerie Jarrett. “I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. . . . He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. . . . So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. . . . He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”

The Atlantic Wire builds off a NYT article which examines why Obama’s Syria policy went off the rails. The picture it paints coincides at many points with Jarrett’s characterization of the president: brilliant on the heights, less than engaged in the nitty gritty. When Assad began to face unrest Obama at first thought Syria would be a walk-over and did not bother to make any detailed plans to ensure his fall.

According to the report, the first mistake in Obama’s deliberations was assuming that Assad’s regime would fall as quickly as other governments had during the Arab Spring, such as those in Egypt and Libya. When Obama called for Assad to step down in August 2011 and made his infamous “red line” comment, the administration still had no clear idea of what its strategy should be. Instituting a no-fly zone would have been too arduous and the C.I.A. was pushing to covertly train rebels in Jordan.

When discussion turned to the details Obama’s eyes glazed over. “Even as the debate about arming the rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient or disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum.”

“He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do” — like read his intelligence briefs or put in the groundwork. Barack Obama is a special person. Angela Merkel should, given Obama’s singular nature, cut him some slack. If there’s one person who may have known her phone was tapped and not known it was him. He is not necessarily consistent which is the hobgoblin of small minds, nor does he need to be veracious. Obama’s beyond petty truth.  He lives in a grander arc. Alles may not be in ordnung, but you can bet your bottom dollar that ordnung is in alles.

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Top Rated Comments   
But it's so convenient to not know anything when the brown stuff hits the fan, to be able to act innocently outraged that he had to learn about the latest crisis by reading the newspaper.

What asinine garbage Jarrett is spewing!

This stupid slacker may have been bored all his life, but by God, it's his JOB to know these things, and by screwing around, smoking dope, and playing golf, he's endangering all of us. This lazy bastard needs to be IMPEACHED!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Walter Russell Mead calls the Syrian bloodbath "Obama's Rwanda moment"

Now I know there have been those who believe the President is a Muslim, perhaps even an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. But the record speaks for itself. He can't be a closet Muslim.

The man has single handedly trashed the entire Arab world. Consider. The Muslim Brotherhood is hunted in Egypt, which is about to starve.. Libya is a Mad Max state. People are killing each other for all they are worth in Syria. Jordan and Lebanon are overrun by refugees. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are on the brink. Iraq has slid back into chaos. Afghanistan is due to be handed back to the Taliban. With any luck there will be nuclear war between Iran and Israel.

Can you beat that? Can anybody beat that? The administration's foreign policy is the nothing but the international version of Obamacare. Or maybe vice versa. Those debacles leave out China, Russia and the angry Europeans.

But just with what he's got now. Man ain't that something. And he's got three years to go. Valerie Jarrett was right. Obama is like something nobody has ever seen before. And to think he's unaware! All this is happening and when you ask him, he's unaware.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
He's had s much smoke blown up his ass he's a high risk for colon cancer.

Another word for "bored to death"- lazy!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (69)
All Comments   (69)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It’s a little disturbing these past few months that I keep getting warnings that a “Java Exploit” keeps being blocked when I first open up your blog and then many times its followed by a “Flash Script” access attempt. My AV and Malware scanners seem to catch them but today who really knows anymore!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
--i got that java exploit virus too --several times. Just keep dumping it and reloading the newest, eventually it irons out --
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
CharlesW, assuming you use Windows XP or later, get the Malware Bytes scanner from here:

It is about the best killer of the sort of thing you described. The free version should do the trick. Make sure you have the latest Java version and uninstall any earlier versions on your system. And, of course, make sure your system is up to date with Windows update.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dunno why but I keep seeing Schwarzenegger in loin cloth looking up at the snake temple, while the crowd about him chants: 'Chooooom'.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wretchard: "The only conceivable exit from this dilemma is the printing press and debasing the currency and/or debt."

That is an exit only for the Political Class -- Look! We promised you $1,500/month pension, and here is your $1,500. But that debased $1,500 will no longer even cover the cost of the pensioner's dog food & candles. Not an exit for those who trusted the Political Class. Meanwhile, the Political Class will pay themselves in "inflation adjusted" dollars.

The only real exit would be to expand production -- so that there are more goods & services to be distributed. And that would require rolling back excessive regulation, reining in the lawyers, and simplifying tax regimes -- i.e. gutting everything the Political Class has spent decades building.

And so we are likely to end up with the other way out -- lamposts & ropes, liberally applied. And I mean applied to liberals.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

I spoke to a woman named Valerie the other day who gushingly said that Barack Obama was the most brilliant man who ever lived, and she was ecstatic that she lived at the same time as he, for there would never be another such brilliance for a thousand years.

And so his brilliance fevered shines
And lights the skies for miles around
He deigns to speak with lesser minds
And loves when someone stands his ground
Life’s problems seem to him so small
The larger picture claims his thought
The mundane interests not at all
And even briefings count for naught
So far above our intellect
What happens is of no concern
He never seems to recollect
What took so many years to learn
God gave him talents none before
Had ever claimed or would again
He knows his lofty IQ score
Is higher than all mortal men
He’s happiest when truly taxed
A challenge wakens up his brain
A brain that’s never fully maxed
But knows to come in from the rain
And yet we wonder why this man
Endowed with heaven’s greatest gift
Makes such mistakes in short a span
And leaves our friends so sorely miffed

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
I wish, I wish he'd go away..."

Hughes Mearns
(Hat tip-Neo-Neocon)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

Paying interest on derelict and closed schools.

Detroit — A Wall Street deal backed by former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick that helped push the city into bankruptcy bankrolled a three-year spree of alleged corruption, according to federal court records and pension officials.

The spending cheated Detroit retirees out of more than $84 million, led to criminal charges against six people and compounded the impact of a money-losing Wall Street deal, which could eventually cost the city more than $2.7 billion.

From The Detroit News:
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
He doesn't seem to be bored with appearing on TV talk shows, golf, honoring sports teams, hosting WH soirees and other no-brain activities. Let me get this straight-he's bored by being commander-in-chief of the world's superpower but enthused by the mundane?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
O/T - Venezuela's cash flow from the Citgo refinery in Lemont IL is going to crash due to a fire in the crude tower.

"The crude unit, whose capacity matches that of the 170,500-bpd refinery, is visibly leaning, the people said. The Oct. 23 fire occurred while a malfunctioning pump was being replaced, the people said."

From Citgo (AKA PDVSA) website

"In September, 1986, Southland sold a 50 percent interest in CITGO to Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., (PDVSA), the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. PDVSA acquired the remaining half of CITGO in January, 1990 and the company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary. With a secure and ample supply of crude oil, CITGO quickly became a major force in the energy arena."

Nicolás Maduro is going to have severe political problems without the flow of oil money.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sixteen cents on the dollar for pensions in Detroit?

"On Friday, city financial consultant Kenneth Buckfire ... a Detroit native and investment banker with restructuring experience, later told the court the city plans to pay unsecured creditors, including the city's pensioners, 16 cents on the dollar. There are about 23,500 city retirees."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
OWS posts: We are standing with the workers of #Detroit outside the Federal Courthouse demanding NO CUTS to pensions! #OWS

But the Detroit bankruptcy managers say you can't fight math, a proposition I can sympathize with.

The Blue Model wrote check it couldn't cash and now its bounced. OWS says "it can't bounce!" Boing, boing, boing.

The only conceivable exit from this dilemma is the printing press and debasing the currency and/or debt.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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