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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Running on Empty": Who Is Responsible for the "Laxness" in Washington?

You want to know how an intruder with a knife managed to hop the fence protecting the White House and make it all the way into the East Room, and how a security contractor with a concealed pistol, who had three convictions for assault and battery, managed to ride on an elevator with Obama? Thomas Friedman has the answer. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Running on Empty," subtitled "The Secret Service and the Political Class," Friedman explains that he feels a "laxness" in Washington today:

"I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but you feel today in Washington a certain laxness, that anything goes and that too few people working for the federal government take pride in their work because everything is just cobbled together by Congress and the White House at the 11th hour anyway.

. . . .

When the people governing us become this cynical, polarized and dysfunctional, it surely seeps down into the bureaucracy. As above, so below."

A "laxness"? Tom makes certain not to mention Obama's "latte salute" or how the president ran off to a Martha's Vineyard golf course within 20 minutes of delivering a speech decrying the beheading of James Foley by ISIL.

And how does this "laxness" relate to America's response to ISIL, which is so much in the news today? Would-be Middle East expert Friedman tells us:

"We’re at war in the Middle East, with American military lives on the line, but Congress could not stir itself to return from a pre-election recess to either debate the wisdom of this war or give the president proper legal authorization, let alone take some responsibility."

No mention by Friedman of the imminent fall of the Syrian city of Kobani, which is being defended by lightly armed Kurds against an Islamic State onslaught. In an exclusive interview with ABC News’s Martha Raddatz, US General Martin Dempsey declared in response to a question concerning ISIL's siege of the Syrian city of Kobani:

"In fact, I just got off the phone with my Turkish counterpart about it. . . . Well, they are obviously tracking it just like we are. They've got forces on their side of the border that will prevent ISIL from making any incursions into Turkey, but of course ISIl is smart enought not to do that. I am fearful that Kobani will fall. We have been striking when we can. ISIL is a learning enemy, and they know how to maneuver and how to use populations and concealment. So, when we get a target we'll take it."

"Striking when we can"? Rubbish! Kobani has been under attack for several weeks already, and there has been absolutely no coordination of American airstrikes with the city's Kurdish defenders. Why? Because the Turks, who are fearful of the Kurds (some 18 percent of Turkey's population, many of whom want independence), won't allow it.

When Raddatz asked about the possibility of 5,000 Kurds being slaughtered if Kobani falls, Dempsey replied:

"I heard that estimate. We think that most of the residents have actually fled, so whether there are still 5,000 people there or not is a matter of conjecture at this point. But I have no doubt that ISIL will conduct the same kind of horrific atrocities if they have the opportunity to do so."

Friedman wants to talk about "laxness"? How is it possible that the US military, the most powerful army in the world, cannot prevent Kobani from falling? What an embarrassment!  A "matter of conjecture" whether 5,000 Kurds will be murdered? That's obscene.

In fact, the US is not really waging war against ISIL. It's a mere "holding action" on the part of Obama, the Procrastinator-in-Chief, as America's midterm elections approach. As stated in a Washington Post editorial entitled "U.S. air campaign against Islamic State isn’t achieving its aims":

"For now, the U.S. operation in Iraq and Syria is defined mainly by its limitations. The restrictions Mr. Obama has imposed on his commanders are not compatible with the objectives he has asked them to achieve."

Yesterday, on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated that he also feels something:

"There is a feeling and I have a feeling that the leadership and the president have given up on the big issues facing this country whether it's immigration or a budget deal or infrastructure funding or trade or energy. There is a sense that you can't deal with that. This country needs that. They can't give up."

Bottom line: If the president has "given up," is it any wonder that federal workers feel the same way?

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