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Archive for January, 2013

Hillary Clinton 1-23-2013 Benghazi hearing

“What difference, at this point, does it make?” asks Secretary of State Clinton when questioned as to why our administration lied about the terrorist attack at the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.

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On January 23, 2013 Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, appeared before the Senate and House investigative committees to present her testimony on the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which claimed the lives of US Ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador’s assistant, Sean Smith, and two former US Navy Seals, Tyron Woods and Glen Doherty, who went in to defend the consulate while it was under attack.

In her first appearance before congress addressing the situation in Benghazi, Clinton displayed a wide variety of emotions but gave no new information as to why the administration of the United States of America chose not to send in available military aid in an attempt to rescue Americans under attack in Benghazi. Clinton further appeared to be confused as to why anyone should be concerned if the administration lied to the American people about the nature of the attack by insisting that it was a YouTube video censorship protest gone awry. Nearly two weeks after the attack the administration finally admitted that it was a pre-planned terrorist attack linked to Al Qaida affiliates and not a spontaneous protest as they had initially claimed.

Clinton’s testimony before congress was delayed for over four months while she recovered from health issues ranging from the flu, to a concussion, to concern over blood clots in her brain. She did exhibit a wide range of symptoms which could indicate brain injury, including volatile emotions and irrational thinking.

While reigning Democrats each used their five minutes of investigative question and answer time to give a public display of their adoration of Clinton (which she received with smiles and generous nods) and to express their hopes that she will run in the presidential election of 2016, Republicans seemed to understand the point of the hearings. They were eager to discover what happened in Benghazi, occasionally adding to Clinton’s headaches with serious questions pertaining to security issues there.

In response to a question begging to understand why the State Department didn’t use Marines at their disposal to protect the consulate, Clinton responded with, “The Marines….most of them are very young.” It appeared to be an insinuation that she didn’t think U.S. Marines were as capable of defending our consulate as the hired Libyan nationals. She also neglected to address the pertinent issue that most of the Libyan nationals contracted by the State Department for security purposes at the consulate appeared to have either been in league with the terrorists or too afraid to resist the attack as they opened the gates and fled.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R) of South Carolina admonished her for saying she was ‘clear eyed’ about the situation in Benghazi with the retort, “Madame Secretary, you let the consulate become a death trap.”

The most dramatic moments of the testimony came when Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R) questioned her concerning why it took so long for the administration to admit that it was a terrorist attack. Clinton raised her voice and gestured dramatically, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

In light of the fact that Clinton may indeed be suffering brain damage from which she may never recover, here are some points addressing why it does make a difference:

  • Four Americans were killed in a terrorist attack, which the Libyan President is on record as having said he forewarned the United States of America about days before 9/11.
  • Our administration is responsible for security lapses at the consulate.
  • Appropriate action was not taken to protect our Ambassador and citizens.
  • To have not taken heed of the warning about an impending attack, or sent available military aid to assist our citizens under attack, is a treasonous violation of this administration’s sworn oaths to protect Americans.
  • Lying about it after the fact for political gain is shameful and cowardly.

Clinton has repeatedly stated that she takes ‘full responsibility’ for what happened in Benghazi, but her testimony on Wednesday was more of a ‘the buck stops somewhere around here’ proclamation while she attempted to side step each serious inquiry into the topic at hand.

For information on 9/11/2012 terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya visit: http://www.facebook.com/DemandingAnswersForTheBenghaziEmbassyAttack

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Disney Magic at Port

In September we embarked on a tremendously enjoyable 7-night RT vacation aboard the Disney Magic for a Western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston which included stops at ports in Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. This was our first Disney cruise and hopefully not the last!
Since we have cruised before (can’t remember if this was our 6th or 7th cruise), we will compare the Disney cruise experience with those of Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. We’ve never met a cruise we didn’t like, so there won’t be much in the way of complaints-just comparisons.
We are actually starting to think that cruising may be the best possible vacation option. It is so convenient to arrive at the port and let someone else take it from there! Here is how we rated the Disney Magic (on a 5 star scale):

Hospitality *****
Cabin *****
Dining ****
Entertainment *****
Ports and Excursions ****
On board amenities *****

Hospitality-Disney does indeed know how to make YOU feel welcome! Starting with the check-out counter as we handed the smiling lady our passports, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience,” she says. She steps away from the counter briefly and returns with someone presumably up the chain of command who with a few strokes to the keyboard smiles and reveals, “We are so sorry for your delay but your passport has been flagged to receive a free upgrade to an ocean view cabin adjoining your daughter and son-in-law.” PLEASE, inconvenience me all day! And later when somehow our $50 per cabin onboard credit had not been applied to our Key to the World card (which is your cabin key and also used for all on board purchases), “We apologize for this inconvenience! Please accept $75 per cabin as our gift to you.” Yes, yes, it is quite alright. No problem at all…

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But beyond the amazing Disney customer service is the genuine, “We are so happy you have joined us!” attitude which emanates from each crew member you encounter. Are they all putting on an act? Perhaps, (they are called Cast Members for a reason I’m sure) but they are very convincing. Towel animals and chocolates on the bed sent me to sleep each night with a smile on my face…
Although cruise lines all generally excel in the hospitality department Disney is a step above and knows how to bring the ‘happiest place on earth’ feeling with them even on the open sea.

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Cabin-We give the Magic another 5 stars for cabin design and efficiency. It is amazing how they take those tiny spaces and transform them into convenient and livable areas! There were 4 of us in the cabin and the children had the ‘living area’ with the couch and TV. The couch converted into a bed and a top bunk unfolded from the wall magically each night thanks to our cabin steward. A curtain was available to allow for some privacy. A great feature is the separate toilet and shower rooms! Really we were all so comfortable that we thought we could live that way forever. This was the best cabin layout we have experienced on all the cruise ships we have sailed on.

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Dining-although we are only bestowing 4 stars on the Magic for dining it should be known that I am allergic to wheat, rice, barley, rye and sesame seeds. AND I have an aversion to most fish and meats. So…do I really even know what I’m talking about here? First, here is what I really enjoyed about dining on the Magic. Fresh fruit and salad! Even outside the dining room I could get food that I could eat. It was also great to rotate between the 3 different dining rooms rather than being assigned to one dining room for the entire trip. But even the children agreed that while the fare was children friendly, there did not appear to be the same variety that we have enjoyed on other cruise lines. However, when our waiter discovered that I loved (and could eat!) the gluten free butternut squash soup, there was a bowl of it at my place for every dinner after that whether it was on the menu or not! We all agreed that Royal Caribbean has impressed us the most with their culinary prowess but certainly whichever line you cruise with, you are likely to leave feeling as though you could not have eaten that well anywhere else for the price you paid for the cruise.

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Entertainment-5 stars + is how we would rate the onboard entertainment! Mostly on cruise ships I avoid the Las Vegas style entertainment because 1) I like to go to bed early and 2) I’m a mother of 3 girls who like to dance and I’m always hoping that they will NOT end up as dancers on a cruise ship! OK, I know I’m an old fogey but I really don’t want to see anyone else’s daughter dressed up and dancing that way either. But on the Disney Magic the entertainment is family friendly and costumes are more modest and the choreography is more along the High School Musical standard and a lot less like Vegas Showgirls. Even so, seating for shows was filled and the audience ranged from 2 years old to who knows how old and standing ovations were regular. Besides the live entertainment, cinemas were filled with Disney favorites old and new and included 3D technology. There is no lack of quality entertainment on board the Disney Magic.

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Ports and Excursions-4 stars for the ports and excursions we stopped at, means that while we had a fun time we weren’t over-wowed with our experiences. We enjoyed our stops in Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, and Cozumel, but all three ports seemed to still be recovering from devastating hurricanes a few years back and were not totally up to snuff. Costa Maya has a Dolphin Discovery program right at the port were we docked and Cozumel has a fantastic Dolphin Discovery facility which we enjoyed several years back as well. In Grand Cayman we took a fun Island Tour which included at stop at the Turtle Farm and ended with an hour or so at the beach where we were reminded that even on the sandy beaches of the Caribbean nothing is free. Hammocks, beach chairs etc on the public beach… were all for rent. This is a good reason to pay to go to a private beach where you can enjoy all the amenities without reserve.

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Onboard Amenities-receive a full 5 stars on the Magic. The gym/spa was clean and busy but available. Exercise equipment was in good working order and plenty of help was on hand for support and many classes and personal trainers were available as well. I took advantage of our cabin credit and made an appointment for a massage in the spa. After my first hour of the treadmill I managed to get a blister on my foot on the first full day at sea. Luckily I discovered the walking/jogging track on deck 4 where I could walk each day in my sandals to avoid irritating it further. This track is open air (besides where it bends around the fore and aft of the ship) and gives a great view of the ocean but avoids much of the wind. I found it to be the perfect spot for watching sunrises and sunsets. Shopping was also pleasant onboard and items were what one would expect in Disney quality and price. Our 16 year old loved hanging out with the ‘Vibe’ group and our 11 year old preferred to just hang out with mom and dad.

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While we all agreed that the cruise on the Disney Magic was probably the best cruise ever, we did think that perhaps the reason for that was traveling with us (in our adjoining cabin)-our granddaughter who celebrated her second birthday on board. The joy on her face as she met and greeted her new friends on the ship was truly a priceless experience. Mickey and the Gang where all there and as far as she could tell they had all come to meet her. Special memories were had by all and we give all thumbs up for taking your family on a Disney cruise!

Tammy from Kingdom Konsultants was very helpful with making arrangements for this trip and we highly recommend her services.

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SarahRose’s Mural

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Here are a few images from the mural we created for SarahRose’s room.

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