A cyber-attack of various government websites by groups of hackers is allegedly underway Tuesday morning, as was warned using social media. A pastebin message begins with, “Let’s hurt them where it’s hurts the most” and the group promises, “Anonymous will make sure that’s this May 7th will be a day to remember” in what the group titles as, #OpUSA. The high profile list of targets includes, Bank of America, Citibank, White House websites, the FBI, among others.
Another message seemingly from a member of one of the hacktivist collectives known as Anonymous states “America you have committed multiple war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and recently you have committed war crimes in your own country. You have killed hundreds of innocent children and families with drones, guns, and now bombs. America you have hit thousands of people where it hurts them, now it is our time for our Lulz. For this you shall pay. Obama you have seen the over three billion dollars worth of damage we have done to Israel in operation Israel. It hasn’t even been a few weeks and the anonymous collective has gotten stronger since then.”
"A group of mostly Middle East- and North Africa-based criminal hackers are preparing to launch a cyber attack campaign next week known as “OpUSA” against websites of high-profile US government agencies, financial institutions, and commercial entities," reports security blog Krebs on Security. "But security experts remain undecided on whether this latest round of promised attacks will amount to anything more than a public nuisance."
Last month, Anonymous launched #OpIsrael, which promised to “wipe Israel off the internet,” and well, that turned out to be a big #OpFail.
In endorsing President Obama this morning, Colin Powell slammed Mitt Romney’s foreign policy as a “moving target.” He said Romney hasn’t thought through national security issues, which is why he’s espousing the “very, very strong neo-conservative views” of his advisers and tried to change all of his extreme positions in the final presidential debate. Powell also cited the President’s leadership on job creation, immigration, education, and health care as reasons for endorsing the President.
"You know, I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012, and I'll be voting for he and Vice President Joe Biden next month," he said on CBS' "This Morning."
POWELL: I signed on for a long patrol with President Obama and I don't think this is the time to make such a sudden change. And not only am I not comfortable with what Governor Romney is proposing for his economic plan, I have concerns about his views on foreign policy. The Governor, who was speaking on Monday night at the debate, was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. So I'm not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy.
O’DONNELL: What concerns do you have about Governor Romney's foreign policy?
POWELL: Well, it's hard to fix it. I mean, it's a moving target. One day he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan, but then on Monday night he agrees with the withdrawal. Same thing in Iraq. On almost every issue that was discussed on Monday night, Governor Romney agreed with the President with some nuances. But this is quite a different set of foreign policy views than he had earlier in the campaign. And my concern, which I've expressed previously in a public way, is that sometimes I don't sense that he has thought through these issues as thoroughly as he should have, and he gets advice from his campaign staff that he then has to adjust to modify as he goes along.
ROSE: Are you concerned about the people that are advising Governor Romney?
POWELL: I think there's some very, very strong neo-conservative views that are presented by the Governor that I have some trouble with. There are other issues as well, not just the economy and foreign policy. I'm more comfortable with President Obama and his administration when it comes to issues like what are we going to do about climate, what are we going to do about immigration? What are we going to do about education? Lots of things like that. I do not want to see the new Obamacare plan thrown off the table. It has issues, you have to fix some things in that plan. But what I see when I look at that plan is 30 million of our fellow citizens will now be covered by insurance. And I think that's good. We're one of the few nations in the world, with our size, population and wealth, that does not have universal health care.
James Carville: “If this had would’ve been a Little League baseball game, they would’ve called the thing after four innings.”
CBS poll: “Well, Scott, the uncommitted voters in our survey - immediately after the debate was over - gave a clear victory to President Obama this evening.”
Neil Cavuto:“I think that Mitt Romney botched a lot of things tonight.”
Larry Kudlow: “I think there’s a little too much valium in the Romney presentation tonight.”
Matt Dowd: “But for the commander-in-chief, strong leader… he actually lost that strong leader tonight to the President.”
Chuck Todd: “They’re not claiming victory tonight… at times I felt like he was giving a book report, that there were a lot of world book facts that would show up in some of his answers.”
John King: “There’s no question debate coaches would score this one for the president.”
Joe Trippi: “I just want to call this debate the big hug, because I think that's what Romney was doing. He decided he was going to hug Obama on policy after policy, not disagree with him.”
Chuck Todd: “I was surprised at how meek at times Mitt Romney was.”
Norah O’Donnell: “He repeatedly said that the President was right on issues, that he concurred with him on a number of issues. In fact, it was President Obama who said that Romney was having a hard time differentiating himself.”
Martha Raddatz: “President Obama humanized what he was talking about. He talked a lot about the troops. He talked about the survivors from 9/11. He talked about the people in Israel. So if, in fact, he was going towards the female vote, he probably got their attention with that sort of approach.”
ABC Fact Check: “One was when Mitt Romney repeated what he said before, that the President went on an apology tour when he became president. We’ve looked at all those speeches on those foreign trips. The President didn't apologize for America.”
Howard Fineman: “The Obama people insist - and I think with some good reason – that Mitt Romney was just flat-out lying, not to put too fine a point on it, on the question of whether he, Mitt Romney, was willing to support direct federal help, the kind of help the President put forth, for the auto industry.”
David Gergen: “I do think that the Democrats and President Obama have a legitimate argument. The guy who came into these debates was not the candidate we saw in the primaries. We go back to the etch-a-sketch.”
In advance of Monday’s presidential debate, Obama for America is laying out Mitt Romney’s five easy steps for crafting foreign policy in a new video. By following this simple plan, Romney is sure to be a blundering success.
Step 1: Get the facts wrong;
Step 2: Undermine long-lasting relationships with your allies;
Step 3: Frequently highlight your lack of experience;
Step 4: Assemble a team of ideologues committed to endless war;
Step 5: Mistake your enemies (“C’mon, Mitt…think!”).
That’s it: five easy steps to successfully lead America on the world stage – blunder by blunder.
Guest Post by Jim Messina, Campaign Manager, Obama for America
For this video, we asked people to compare Mitt Romney's real positions with the ones he's claimed to support in the final weeks of the campaign.
We know Mitt Romney will say anything to win, even if it’s not true – just like he did in Massachusetts and in the first debate. The real Mitt Romney has been running on his “severely conservative” positions for years, but now – just weeks before Election Day – he’s trying to hide them because they’ll hurt the middle class and his chances of winning.
We saw this clearly in the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, as Governor Romney cynically and dishonestly hid the self-described “severely conservative” positions he’s been running on – and there’s no doubt he’s memorizing more deceptions as he prepares for Tuesday’s second debate.
On Tuesday, Romney will be asked some simple questions by Americans from diverse backgrounds about how his plans will impact their lives. So we’ve provided some simple translations to help voters – and the media – interpret the deceptive answers he’s most likely to give in return.
Question #1: What’s your tax plan and what will it mean for middle-class families?
What he’ll say: “I will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on middle-income families.” – Mitt Romney, Denver Presidential Debate, 10/3/12
Translation: As part of his tax plan, Romney has proposed $5 trillion in specific tax cuts. As independent, non-partisan analysts have highlighted, to pay for his plan, Mitt Romney has promised $1 trillion more in tax cuts for the rich than there are tax benefits to close. As a result, he would have to cut popular tax deductions that middle class families rely on, like the mortgage interest and charitable deductions, to pay for $250,000 tax cuts to multi-millionaires. Paying for Romney’s tax cuts would mean the average middle class family with kids would see their taxes go up by $2,000 a year.
Reality under President Obama: The typical middle class family has seen their taxes cut by $3,600 by President Obama over the course of his first term, and he has a detailed plan that would keep income taxes low for 98% of families and 97% of small businesses, while asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share to help create an economy built to last.
Question #2: What about that $5 trillion tax cut skewed toward the wealthiest I’ve heard about?
What he’ll say: “First of all, I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut…I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” – Mitt Romney, Denver Presidential Debate, 10/3/12
Translation: Mitt Romney has detailed a specific tax plan that provides $5 trillion in tax cuts weighted towards millionaires and billionaires – a combination of a 20 percent cut in individual income taxes, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, repealing the estate tax and the high-income Medicare tax, and cutting taxes for corporations by $1.1 trillion. That math is clear, but when it comes to paying for these tax cuts, Romney hasn’t specified a single loophole he’d close. Even if he eliminated every deduction for high-income taxpayers and enough loopholes to pay for his corporate tax cut, he’d still need to increase middle class taxes by $1 trillion to pay for his plan.
Reality under President Obama: President Obama has already signed $1 trillion in spending cuts as part of a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion, while maintaining critical investments in innovation, education, and infrastructure needed to create jobs now and grow our economy in the coming decades.
Question #3: So how can you claim your tax cuts won’t result in more taxes for the middle class?
What he’ll say: “Six studies have guaranteed…that this math adds up…even their own deputy campaign manager acknowledged that it wasn't correct.” – Paul Ryan, Vice Presidential Debate, 10/11/12
Translation: While Romney will cite “studies” to back up his wild suggestion that he won’t raise taxes on middle-class families, independent fact checkers and journalists have noted time and time again, those so-called “studies” are actually partisan op-eds, blog posts and analyses by conservative think tanks. None have disputed the total cost of his plan or the fact that it is a large tax cut for those at the top – so none prove that he can pay for his tax plan without raising middle-class taxes. He’s trying to take statements out of context to get around the truth: he’s proposed $5 trillion in specific tax cuts, and even if he closes every deduction for the wealthy, he’ll still fall $1 trillion short. That means he has to either raise taxes on middle-class families or explode the deficit.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) acknowledged on Wednesday that House Republicans had consciously voted to reduce the funds allocated to the State Department for embassy security since winning the majority in 2010.
On Wednesday morning, CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien asked the Utah Republican if he had "voted to cut the funding for embassy security."
"Absolutely," Chaffetz said. "Look we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have…15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, a private army there, for President Obama, in Baghdad. And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces. When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices. You have to prioritize things.”
During the past two years, House Republicans have continued to deprioritize the security forces protecting State Department personnel around the world. In fiscal year 2011, lawmakers cut $128 million off of the administration's request for embassy security funding. House Republicans drained off even more funds in fiscal year 2012, cutting back on the department's request by $331 million.
Consulate personnel stationed in Benghazi had allegedly expressed concerns over their safety in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Chaffetz and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, have alleged that those concerns were ignored.
A Yemeni man was shot and killed by gunman on his way to work at the U.S. embassy in Sanaa early Thursday morning. The car carrying Qassem Aqlan, who headed an embassy security team, was shot at by masked attackers on a motorcycle. “This (assassination) operation has the fingerprints of al Qaeda which carried out similar operations before,” a source told Reuters. Assassination attempts have been frequent since Yemen’s army cleared Islamist fighters out of many towns earlier this year, while the U.S. has been high alert for its embassy staff overseas since the ambassador to Libya was killed with three others on Sept. 11 in Benghazi.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire want to hear what you’ve got to say. The two stars unveiled a campaign on Monday called Vote4Stuff. It urges voters to use social media to talk about what issues are most critical to them in the upcoming election.
A public service announcement went online Monday, asking: “What stuff is important to you?” Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jonah Hill, Zac Efron, Edward Norton and Ellen Degeneres — among others — also appear in the video.
Anyone interested can submit their own 30-second video about their biggest concerns going into the election. Then, selected videos — in addition to tweets, photos or posts directed at Vote4Stuff — will be incorporated into the campaign later in the month.
The PSA mentions several potential issues to talk about, including jobs, marriage equality, foreign policy, immigration and education. But DiCaprio and the team are encouraging people to be creative.
“Hey, knock us out and we’ll put (the video) in,” Norton says in the announcement.
Failed former GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) -- truly, in her own element sounding alarms over "extremists" in other nations -- went into full attack mode on President Obama and his foreign policies, calling him the "most dangerous president we have ever had," and directly tying his policies to the violence in Egypt and Libya.
Bachmann, in remarks at the Values Voter Summit at Washington's Omni Shoreham hotel, accused the Obama administration of responding to the chaos - which resulted in the death of four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya - with "weakness and lack of resolve."
"This was an intentional act that was done by radical Islamists who seek to impose their set of beliefs on the rest of the world and we will not stand for it," Bachmann continued. "No one here is suggesting that all Muslims are radical (*cough*) but we should not be ignorant of the objective reality that there's a very radical wing of Islam that's dedicated to the destruction of America, of Israel, and Israel's allies, and what we're watching developing before our eyes today are the direct consequences of this administration's policy of apology and appeasement across the globe."
"I'm no master war strategist," (Indeed!) she said, but "appeasement doesn't work."
Bachmann also accused Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of pushing "enforced Islamic speech codes" in U.S. counterterrorism training materials, referring to an FBI probe first reported by Wired Magazine in February that eliminated, wrote Wired, "over 700 pages of documentation from approximately 300 presentations given to agents since 9/11 ... describing 'mainstream' Muslims as 'violent.'"
Those documents, Wired reported, were purged due to "'factual errors'; 'poor taste'; employment of 'stereotypes' about Arabs or Muslims; or presenting information that 'lacked precision.'"
Bachmann then sounded alarms about Egypt's ruling party, the Muslim Brotherhood, before urging the president to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stand in solidarity with Israel:
"And as President Obama needs to get his priorities straight, what he needs to do is cancels (sic) his interview with David Letterman – (cheers, applause) – cancel his meeting with Beyonce – (cheers, applause) – cancel his meeting with Jay-Z and instead agree to meet with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu."(cheers, applause)
Then after tightening up her tin-foil hat, Bachmann declared that the attack on the Libyan consulate this week was part of a 10-year plan “to implement its Sharia-based speech code requirements worldwide.”
A full transcript of Bachmann's rant is below the fold.
Dogs Against Romney gather in Tampa, Florida for the Republican National Convention.
The Code Pink "Vaginas" chant "Hey, Hey GOP! Women want equality!" at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Sunday.
Part One: Fences, Fences, and More Fences from photographer Robert L. Beukema as he explores the sights and sounds of Tampa during the Republican National Convention.
Part Two: Photographer Robert L. Beukema exploring the sights and sounds of downtown Tampa during the Republican National Convention. Businesses boarded up in anticipation of protests, large heave metal fencing everywhere, and armed National Guard troops on patrol. Even the harbor is heavily patrolled by coast guard and sheriff's deputies on water patrol. It all looks like something out of a nightmare.
Part Three of Sights and Sounds from photographer Robert L. Beukema. Ho boy, wait until you get an eye and earful of a tiff between the Dogs Against Romney members, and a Romney supporter who talks the ears off of anyone who will listen to her. The mainstream media gives her time, and plenty of it, to ramble on about everything from Obama ate dog meat as a child (once), the Constitution, and something about how many slaves did you need to make one vote? She wraps her her diatribe telling people to "Look it up!" so, hopefully they will, but somewhere other than on Fox News.
This is the last video for this post, much more to come later. This is a new this morning ad from Moveon.org, showing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan literally stepping on the middle class as they walk to the podium to accept their nomination as President and Vice President of the 1%. Ouch!