Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Political Digest July 28, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

A Question of Command
A book review I wrote has been published in the August issue of Leatherneck Magazine. Excerpt: I have been disappointed that Dr. Moyar has not rapidly followed up his excellent history of the early years of Vietnam, Triumph Forsaken, with the promised second volume. But after reading A Question of Command, all is forgiven. It is a valuable addition to military history in general, and to the history of insurgent or irregular warfare in particular. That alone would make this book a welcome addition to the library of any historian or military leader. But A Question of Command is far more than a history book. Given the wars of the foreseeable future, it’s a service to the Republic. Moyar uses meticulously researched case studies of nine insurgencies to provide a must-read guide for military leaders dealing with insurgencies on the ground, from squad leaders to theater commanders, and for politicians and bureaucrats directing the effort. I wish I could afford to buy a copy for every member of the president’s cabinet and the congress.

Important Column: Remembering “Gravitas”
Excerpt: In a July 22 op-ed column for the Wall Street Journal, titled, “The Vast Left-Wing Media Conspiracy,” Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes responded to reports that he had been targeted for a “racist” smear by liberal journalists during the 2008 General Election. In a series of reports by conservative commentator Tucker Carlson of the Daily Caller, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent is quoted as saying, “If the right forces us all to either defend (Barack Obama’s pastor Jeremiah) Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them… Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares… and call them ‘racists.’ This makes them ‘sputter’ with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.” Ackerman went on to say, “What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a right winger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear… ” This leftist rant, frighteningly suggestive of the Nazis’ Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), in which Hitler’s brownshirts smashed the windows of Jewish-owned shops and businesses all across Germany, was presented for consideration by members of an Internet listserv called JournoList, comprised of some 400 liberal journalists, academics, and think-tank propagandists assembled by Washington Post writer Ezra Klein. As an indicator of the level of hatred that is the norm for this conglomeration of leftist thinkers and writers who, taken together, represent the moral center of the progressive movement, Sarah Spitz, a National Public Radio producer, shocked even herself by the level of hatred she harbors for Rush Limbaugh. She said in an email that she would, “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as he writhed in torment from a heart attack. “I never knew I had such hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.” …. I have often been asked why those who are politically liberal tend to flock to the journalism profession. There is no good answer for that question, just as there is no good answer to the question of why such a high percentage of our best doctors and lawyers are members of the Jewish faith. My friend, Ted Kavanau, former senior executive producer for CNN and CNN Headline News, has ventured an opinion on why the most radical of academics come mainly from the departments of English, fine arts, and other social sciences… including, presumably, the faculties of essentially every school of journalism. Kavanau suggests that, “What is unspoken among them is that they have great doubt, even a sense of inferiority, about the value of what they have to offer,” compared to the theoretical sciences such as medicine, engineering, etc. Kavanau goes on to explain, “So they elevate their importance (to themselves as well as to their students) by assuming possession (of) a ‘special knowledge’ which overlays what they are otherwise supposed to be teaching. That supposed ‘special knowledge’ of man and how the world should be ordered gives them their needed justification and is reinforced by the same beliefs among their peers. It is what helps produce the radicalized army of students they graduate into society.” Although I have no direct evidence of how it’s done… I’ve never been invited to attend one of their meetings… I remain convinced that there is political coordination among leftists in the U.S. that transcends all ethical and professional boundaries. Those who participate represent the Democratic Party, the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate, the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, the UAW, AARP, the teachers unions, radical environmentalists, trial lawyers, gays, lesbians, and more than likely a few selected members of JournoList. (What's funny about this is that my four years of Latin and my studies of the Roman Empire made me very familiar with the word "gravitas". This was the hallmark characteristic of the classic Roman citizen, that he was a very serious person, who took the events of the world around him seriously, gave things serious thought, and then seriously undertook action to meet whatever challenge had presented itself. From it comes the English adjective "grave" and in "doing that will have grave consequences". The commentator above makes a perfect point of how that word, unknown to 99.99% of the population, suddenly came into broad use in a very short time and only as applied to one person. Hell of a coincidence! –Del)

Sarkozy Vows Revenge After al-Qaida Beheads Man
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. Excerpt: French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed today to seek revenge on the North African wing of al-Qaida for beheading an elderly French aid worker after a joint Franco-Mauritanian raid to rescue him last week failed. Michel Germaneau, 78, a retired engineer who had been helping build a school for Tuareg nomads, was kidnapped April 19 in northern Niger. The area is in the volatile "Red Zone" on the southern rim of the Sahara desert. His captors told French officials on July 11 that they would kill him in two weeks unless France agreed to a prisoner exchange. "I condemn this barbarous act, this odious act which has put an end to the life of an innocent man who was there to help the local population," Sarkozy said today in a televised address. "This crime committed against Michel Germaneau will not go unpunished."

Disclose Act seen as balm to soothe left
Nice liberal, calm down. The One is in charge, all will be well. Excerpt: Democratic leaders hope to rally their rank-and-file troops this week by dealing with controversial campaign finance legislation just before lawmakers hit the campaign trail. Liberal voters, who have grumbled over a litany of failures and legislative compromises that have hurt the left’s agenda, will be crucial to Democratic hopes in November. President Obama and Senate Democratic leaders want to show their attentiveness to those complaints with a Tuesday Senate vote on campaign finance reform, one of the left’s priorities.

GOP leadership will hold fire on Rangel
House Republican leaders intend to keep their powder dry as the public ethics trial of embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) unfolds. Throughout the 111th Congress, House GOP lawmakers have offered measures targeting Rangel. But don’t expect one this week. Republicans are employing a don’t-get-in-the-way-of-your-enemies-when-they-are-destroying-themselves strategy, the same game plan Democrats employed as Republicans grappled with ethics scandals in 2006. According to several leadership sources, top-ranking Republicans hope that the former Ways and Means Committee chairman fights charges of ethical wrongdoing. “We want him fighting this tooth and nail. The more defiant he is, the better it is for us,” a GOP leadership aide told The Hill on Monday.

Hoyer: Rangel must decide alone whether to resign or face inquiry
Translation: Please go away Charlie and don’t remind voters that we took over the House campaigning against the “Culture of Corruption.” Excerpt: The House’s second-ranking Democrat on Tuesday said Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) will decide on his own whether to resign his seat or go forward with Thursday’s ethics inquiry. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters he did not know what Rangel’s decision would be. The Ethics Committee on Thursday is scheduled to convene publicly to spell out its charges against the New York Democrat. Rangel is coming under growing pressure to resign. Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) became the second House Democrat to say the veteran New Yorker should give up his seat in a report published Monday. Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), another vulnerable Democrat facing a difficult reelection contest, told The Hill that Rangel should resign on Friday. Despite those calls, Hoyer indicated House leaders aren’t inclined to force Rangel’s hand — at least not overtly.

Rep. Rangel expects Thursday ethics hearing to go forward
This is now so out there, it will cost them dearly if they let him off easy, as hey would prefer to do. Excerpt: Rep. Charles Rangel told reporters Tuesday he expects an ethics organization hearing on his trial to go forward on Thursday. “I hope that justice, fair play and equity prevails,” Rangel (D-N.Y.) said in response to a question about whether he was seeking a settlement. Asked if that means there is no settlement, Rangel said, "I don't know." Asked whether he thought his ethics hearing would go forward, Rangel replied, “yes.” Rangel is coming under increasing pressure to agree to a deal with the ethics committee to avoid a public trial that Democrats fear could hurt their party. The trial would be expected to take place just weeks before the midterm elections.

Despite defeats, liberals see hope in remaining primaries
The left version of the Tea Party, call it the pee Party. We can only wish them well in dragging the Dems so far to the left the conservative majority will defeat them. Excerpt: Liberal Democrats battling the party hierarchy have met with limited success this primary season. Thus far their record is more of high expectations and at least one really close call than of actual success. But nationally, liberal and progressive groups remain undaunted — looking ahead on the primary calendar and touting candidates they think have the potential to upend the party establishment.

Republicans and the U.S. Chamber target new tax-reporting rule in health law
Small business creates most new jobs, so, naturally, the liberals love to stomp on it. Excerpt: Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) this week continued his push to eliminate a controversial tax-reporting provision of the new healthcare reform law, vowing to offer his repeal bill at every turn. “I will file this amendment on every viable vehicle that comes to the Senate floor,” Johanns said Monday at a healthcare forum hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Sooner or later, we’ll get a vote and we’ll see who stands with our job creators and who does not.” Under the Democrats’ new healthcare reform bill, companies, nonprofits and government offices are required to file 1099 forms with the IRS when goods purchased from another business exceed $600 in a year. Under previous law, the reporting requirement pertained only to services exceeding that amount. The new mandate goes into effect at the start of 2012. Conservatives on Capitol Hill have joined many in the business community in slamming the provision, arguing that it will hobble small businesses with onerous new paperwork mandates amid a fragile economy when the resources would be better spent hiring new workers. “The most routine business expenses will be subject to this new burdensome paper trail,” Johanns said Monday. “This mandate has nothing to do with improving the healthcare of this country and should not be part of this law or any other.”

Plugging the Leaks
We used to shoot traitors—now we reward them. Excerpt: On New Year’s Eve in 2005, a small group of CIA officials had their evening plans cut short by an urgent message from the White House. President Bush’s advisers had learned that James Risen, a reporter at the New York Times, was about to blow the lid on the CIA’s five-year-long plan to derail Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Risen had devoted a chapter in his new book, State of War, to a covert operation called Merlin, which involved a high-stakes gamble to feed the Iranians blueprints for a nuclear-triggering device. The blueprints contained a hidden flaw, and the CIA bet that Iranian engineers would waste years trying to build the component to no avail. The agency thought Merlin was the United States’ best chance of keeping Iran from building an atomic weapon. To expose Merlin now would tip off Iran to what America’s spies had been doing and what they might try in the future. Bush’s White House aides looked for a way to stop Risen’s book from reaching the shelves. They considered whether his publisher, Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, could be persuaded or even required to halt the release. But the book was due to go on sale in three days. Short of standing in the way of the delivery trucks, there was no way of keeping the information from public view. The White House made photocopies of Risen’s chapter on Merlin and sent the pages to the CIA’s headquarters in Langley. There, the senior officers who’d been “read in” to the Merlin program were shocked by Risen’s detailed account of it. He revealed that the agency had used a former Soviet nuclear engineer, a post–Cold War defector, to deliver the blueprints to Iranian diplomats in Vienna at Iran’s mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Russian was to pose as an unemployed scientist, hoping to sell nuclear secrets. Once the Iranians saw what the Russian carried, the CIA thought Iran would be eager to buy the plans for Tehran. But Risen also revealed that the flaw in the blueprints wasn’t well hidden. The Iranians could disregard it and use the rest of the design to accelerate their weapons program, which was the opposite of what the CIA had intended. Risen’s chapter read like a spy novel. Written partly from the scientist’s perspective, it contained his personal thoughts and misgivings as well as dialogue the scientist had had with his CIA handlers. “My God,” thought one CIA official who had worked on the program as he read Risen’s chapter, “who gave him all this information?”

WikiLeaks and the Afghan War
Excerpt: Reports on the use of surface-to-air missiles by militants in Afghanistan are intermingled with reports on the activities of former Pakistani intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, who reportedly continues to liaise with the Afghan Taliban in an informal capacity. At first glance, it is difficult to imagine a single database in which such a diverse range of intelligence was stored, or the existence of a single individual cleared to see such diverse intelligence stored across multiple databases and able to collect, collate and transmit the intelligence without detection. Intriguingly, all of what has been released so far has been not-so-sensitive material rated secret or below. The Times reports that Gul’s name appears all over the documents, yet very few documents have been released in the current batch, and it is very hard to imagine intelligence on Gul and his organization, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, being classified as only secret. So, this was either low-grade material hyped by the media, or there is material reviewed by the selected newspapers but not yet made public. Still, what was released and what the Times discussed is consistent with what most thought was happening in Afghanistan. The obvious comparison is to the Pentagon Papers, commissioned by the Defense Department to gather lessons from the Vietnam War and leaked by Daniel Ellsberg to the Times during the Nixon administration. Many people worked on the Pentagon Papers, each of whom was focused on part of it and few of whom would have had access to all of it. Ellsberg did not give the Times the supporting documentation; he gave it the finished product. By contrast, in the WikiLeaks case, someone managed to access a lot of information that would seem to have been contained in many different places. If this was an unauthorized leak, then it had to have involved a massive failure in security. Certainly, the culprit should be known by now and his arrest should have been announced. And certainly, the gathering of such diverse material in one place accessible to one or even a few people who could move it without detection is odd. Like the Pentagon Papers, the WikiLeaks (as I will call them) elicited a great deal of feigned surprise, not real surprise. Apart from the charge that the Johnson administration contrived the Gulf of Tonkin incident, much of what the Pentagon Papers contained was generally known. Most striking about the Pentagon Papers was not how much surprising material they contained, but how little. Certainly, they contradicted the official line on the war, but there were few, including supporters of the war, who were buying the official line anyway. In the case of the WikiLeaks, what is revealed also is not far from what most people believed, although they provide enormous detail. Nor is it that far from what government and military officials are saying about the war. No one is saying the war is going well, though some say that given time it might go better. The view of the Taliban as a capable fighting force is, of course, widespread. If they weren’t a capable fighting force, then the United States would not be having so much trouble defeating them. The WikiLeaks seem to contain two strategically significant claims, however. The first is that the Taliban are a more sophisticated fighting force than has been generally believed. An example is the claim that Taliban fighters have used man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) against U.S. aircraft. This claim matters in a number of ways. First, it indicates that the Taliban are using technologies similar to those used against the Soviets. Second, it raises the question of where the Taliban are getting them — they certainly don’t manufacture MANPADS themselves. If they have obtained advanced technologies, this would have significance on the battlefield. For example, if reasonably modern MANPADS were to be deployed in numbers, the use of American airpower would either need to be further constrained or higher attrition rates accepted. Thus far, only first- and second-generation MANPADS without Infrared Counter-Countermeasures (which are more dangerous) appear to have been encountered, and not with decisive or prohibitive effectiveness. But in any event, this doesn’t change the fundamental character of the war.

Uncle Sam Has Worse Woes Than Greece
Excerpt: But the United States is in much worse shape, because the CBO's projections that reveal the 12.2 percent fiscal gap already assume a 7.2 percent of GDP belt-tightening by 2020. But the assumptions underlying this 7.2 percent adjustment are highly speculative, including a substantial rise in the share of taxpayers facing the alternative minimum tax, once called the "millionaires tax" for targeting only the rich. The CBO also assumes that real wage growth will push all workers into much higher tax brackets, and that Congress will slash discretionary spending as well as greatly limit growth in Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Each supposition runs counter to recent experience, says Kotlikoff. Wishing won't fix America's fiscal mess. The United States is one foot away from a deep and permanent economic grave. It is far past time to do meaningful long-term fiscal planning, level with the public and implement radical reforms that permanently put America's fiscal house in order, says Kotlikoff.

Among House Democrats in Rust Belt, a sense of abandonment over energy bill
Excerpt: When Democratic Rep. John Boccieri went home to Ohio early this year to talk with voters in his Canton-based district, he figured he would have to do battle with at least some constituents over his support for health-care reform. And the economic stimulus. And the auto company bailouts. But at a meeting with business leaders, he had to come up with fast answers on something completely different: Why, the businessmen wanted to know, had Boccieri voted for a bill last summer to cap carbon emissions, which they feared would drive up their energy bills in the middle of a recession? Boccieri said he was tired of wars based on "petrol dictators and big oil." "If I can take a tough vote today, I'm going to take that vote," said the freshman lawmaker, an Air Force reservist who flew C-130s over Iraq for more than a year. But 13 months after that tough vote, Boccieri and dozens of other House Democrats along the Rust Belt are not at all happy with the way things have turned out. The White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had assured reluctant members that the Senate would take up the measure. Although Senate passage wasn't a sure thing, House Democrats hoped to go back home to voters with a great story to tell -- about reducing dependence on foreign oil, slowing climate change and creating jobs.

Peru declares state of emergency due to record-breaking cold spell
The people telling us the current heat wave in North America proves Global warming need to tell us what is happening in Peru? Excerpt: Peru President Alan Garcia enacted a legislative decree to declare a 60-day state of emergency in 11 of Peru’s 24 departments Thursday as temperatures in the Andes region continue to drop dramatically and claim the lives of residents. As Peru remains in the grip of intense cold — meteorologists have registered temperatures dipping to -22°C, or 7.60 F — the cold weather death toll continues to rise. Sixty-one children have died since April 13. And, according to Peru’s Health Ministry, more than 50,000 suffer from acute respiratory tract infections and 4,851 from pneumonia.

Obama urges passage of small-business initiatives
So BO gets more money from Wall Street than McCain, but the Republicans are the party of wall Street. And many are dumb enough to believe this stuff. Excerpt: President Obama on Tuesday urged lawmakers to move forward on a series of Democratic initiatives before they leave next week for their summer break, saying voters "sent us here to represent their interests, not our own." His comments came after an hour-long, Oval Office meeting with congressional leaders from both parties. Obama called the meeting "productive," but in his remarks, he repeatedly accused the Republicans of blocking legislation for political gain. "We shouldn't let America's small businesses be held hostage to partisan politics," Obama said as he continued an effort to portray Republicans as the party of big corporations and Wall Street firms.

Morgan freeman solves the race problem

Marine Impersonator Taken Into Custody
I was going to say you never see anyone impersonating a journalist, but then I thought, maybe they all are? Excerpt: An Arizona man convicted in absentia of fraud and forgery after his past as a U.S. Marine was revealed as a fabrication was taken into custody in California. Authorities said John Rodriguez, 31, of Scottsdale had claimed to be a decorated Marine sergeant and used the lie to gain access to military bases, obtain discounts on airline tickets and attend the Marine Corps Ball in Las Vegas, The Arizona Republic reported Monday. Rodriguez posted $5,400 bail after his arrest and failed to show up for court hearings, leading him to be convicted in absentia earlier this month of 12 felony counts of fraud and forgery. Most of the counts carry prison sentences of 2 to 3 years.

A 9/11 Hero's Outrage
Excerpt: And it’s not the way to treat a hero—one who has an anti-terrorism award named after him. Maybe the investigators at CBP don’t know his story. Maybe they don’t know that from the minute Melendez-Perez laid eyes on Kahtani in the run-up to 9/11, the veteran immigration inspector knew something wasn’t right. Kahtani shot him arrogant, dirty looks. He pointed his finger in Melendez-Perez’s face, shifted his story, and refused to answer questions under oath. Sensing Kahtani was malafide (a bad actor) but lacking any proof, Melendez-Perez nonetheless refused to approve the young Saudi’s attempt to enter the country. Colleagues warned him of the potential consequences of turning away Saudi nationals, who were known to wield considerable political clout. But he refused to budge. “I have to do my job, and I cannot do my work with dignity if I make my recommendations for refusals [or] admissions based solely on someone’s nationality,” he would later tell the 9/11 Commission. As he boarded his return flight to London, Kahtani turned around, caught Jose’s eye, and said, “I’ll be back.” Jose remembered that moment when the planes struck the Twin Towers on the morning of September 11. Kahtani was later apprehended after fighting alongside the jihadists surrounding Osama bin Laden at the battle at Tora Bora. He was shipped to Guantanamo Bay. The 9/11 Commission determined that while Melendez-Perez was interrogating Kahtani, Mohammed Atta was waiting to pick up the young Saudi. And because the immigration inspector rejected Kahtani, United Airlines Flight 93 was short-handed on 9/11. It was the only aircraft hijacked by four terrorists, not five.

An interview with South Carolina’s Tim Scott: A black congressional candidate who thinks the Tea Party — not CBC — might be his kind of caucus
Excerpt: Excerpt: Tim Scott will likely change the fact that there are no African-American Republicans in Congress, but don’t automatically count on him to join the Congressional Black Caucus when he does. “I’ve thought about it,” the South Carolina congressional candidate said Monday during an interview on Capitol Hill with The Daily Caller. “But I haven’t come to a solid decision. I’m probably leaning against it.” Yet there’s another caucus the staunchly conservative state representative from Charleston finds “intriguing and interesting.” That would be the Tea Party Caucus, founded last week for House members who believe in the ideals of the conservative movement by Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann. “I’d love to see all the tenets of the caucus, but on the surface it’s certainly something that I wouldn’t say no to at this point,” Scott said. (...) If he wins the general election, he’ll be the first black Republican since J.C. Watts of Oklahoma retired in 2003 to serve in the House. He’d be the first black GOPer elected in the South in more than a hundred years. But that narrative, he said, is much more appealing to news editors in Washington D.C. than to the voters in the Palmetto State’s first congressional district. “I think all news media sees it as an opportunity to create a headline. For us, it’s not really that interesting,” he said while beginning to smile. “I’ve been black for a long time.”

Gear oil failures in windmills
Not only is wind fairly inefficient, it can fail just like anything else. Interesting pictures.

Perfect: Manmade Global Warming: The Solution
Excerpt: Manmade global warming, like so many other social and economic issues, has become hopelessly politicized. Each side has dug in its heels and has accused the other of acting irresponsibly and dishonestly. For the believers, the other side has become the equivalent of Holocaust deniers; and for the doubters, the other side has become a cult intent on manipulating mankind to remake the world in some sort of natural Utopian image. The divide has become so great, it seems virtually impossible to bridge the gap. However, I’m not writing for Ricochet merely to outline problems; I’m here to offer real solutions. And I’m not just blowing carbon dioxide. Let’s assume that a third of the world’s population really believes mankind has the power to adjust the Earth’s thermostat through lifestyle decisions. The percentage may be higher or lower, but, for the sake of this exercise, let’s put it at one-third. Now it seems to me these people have a special obligation to change their lives dramatically because they truly believe catastrophe lies ahead if they don’t. The other two-thirds are merely ignorant, so they can hardly be blamed for their actions. Now, if those True Believers would give up their cars and big homes and truly change the way they live, I can’t imagine that there wouldn’t be some measurable impact on the Earth in just a few short years. I’m not talking about recycling Evian bottles, but truly simplifying their lives. Even if you were, say, a former Vice President, you would give up extra homes and jets and limos. I see communes with organic farms and lives freed from polluting technology. Then, when the rest of us saw the results of their actions—you know, the earth cooling, oceans lowering, polar bears frolicking and glaciers growing—we would see the error of our ways and join the crusade voluntarily and enthusiastically. How about it? Why wait for governments to change us? You who have already seen the light have it within your grasp to act in concert with each other and change the world forever. And I hate to be a scold, but you have a special obligation to do it because you believe it so strongly. Then, instead of looking at isolated tree rings and computer models, you’d have real results to point to, and even the skeptics would see the error of their ways and join you. So start Tweeting each other and get the ball rolling. We’ll anxiously await results. See, I told you I had the solution. My work here is done.

Why they won't stop shooting in Chicago
Last night, 9 were shot in one gunfight. A few weekends ago, 8 were killed and 44 wounded. If the shooters are mostly minorities, so are the victims—but if you crack down it’s racism! Excerpt: It's told by the wounded, the accused and the officers who were on the street during a weekend in April 2008 when 40 people were shot, seven fatally. Two years later, the grim reality is this: Nearly all of the shooters from that weekend have escaped charges. "You don't go to jail for shooting people," says Dontae Gamble, who took six bullets that weekend, only to see his alleged shooter walk free.

From a Marine
As a Marine and operations officer preparing for the deployment of my infantry battalion to Afghanistan in a few short weeks, I am flabbergasted by the growing crescendo of opposition to our involvement in Afghanistan. Just like Iraq, men and women who have no concept or appreciation for the delicate balance of strategic imperatives and national power, have started to Monday morning quarterback our goals and objectives with little understanding of the enduring impact of failure in the long war….. This fight is designed to chip away at the ability of terrorists organizations, not just AQ or the Taliban, to kill innocent civilians and impose their ideology on the powerless. This is a fight designed to set the conditions for peace, one community at a time. This is a fight that can only be successful if we steel ourselves against the short term advantages of comfort based decisions, risk aversion and instead focus our efforts on creating lasting and mutual supporting relationships with real people. Remember Anbar?.... There is relatively little fighting going on in Afghanistan. There were more people shot on the South Side of Chicago last weekend (50) than all of the Coalition Forces wounded in the entire country in Afghanistan in the same 48 hour period. Should we then, by the same logic, abandon the South Side of Chicago?.... Terrorism cannot be eradicated, it can only be managed. The only way to manage terrorism is to align the people that live with and among the terrorists against them and with us. This is nothing more than community policing on a grand scale. We can't do that without boots on the ground. Despite what you read and see in the American media, this fight is about non-kinetic fires; it is about building trust, lasting relationships and committing ourselves to establishing an oasis of security, stability and peace where terrorists and tyrants live and breathe. Afghanistan is not the end, it is only the beginning….. I hate to be so blunt, but Americans need to shut up and color. If you don't agree, don't serve. But I believe and I've volunteered to fight. My family is at home without me for 10 months so my kids don't have to go back in 10 years. If America doesn't want to see their sons, daughters and grandchildren still in the sandboxes of Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, etc, etc 50 years from now, support me and my mission…. Hard is not hopeless….. My battalion's motto is ‘find a way or make one!’ The only way we will fail, is if my fellow Americans turn their backs on me, my brothers and sisters in uniform and give the Taliban and AQ in Afghanistan the I/O victory they strive for every minute of every single day.”

Elton John's choice words for boycotting musicians
Excerpt: Elton John didn't mince words in slamming his fellow musicians for boycotting Arizona over the controversial SB 1070 immigration law. From the stage at his sold-out Tucson Arena concert Thursday night, John savored a few choice, not-so-family-friendly words: "We are all very pleased to be playing in Arizona. I have read that some of the artists won't come here. They are (expletive)wits! Let's face it: I still play in California, and as a gay man I have no legal rights whatsoever. So what's the (expletive) with these people?"

Review of WikiLeaks docs sees no smoking gun
Excerpt: An ongoing Pentagon review of the massive flood of secret documents made public by the WikiLeaks website has so far found no evidence that the disclosure harmed U.S. national security or endangered American troops in the field, a Pentagon official told NBC News on Monday. The initial Pentagon assessment is far less dramatic than initial statements from the Obama White House Sunday night after three major news organizations – The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel — published what was touted as an unprecedented “secret archive” of classified military documents relating to the war in Afghanistan. The documents appear to show, among other matters, close collaboration between elements of the Pakistani intelligence service and the Taliban — an awkward issue that U.S. intelligence officials have strenuously complained about for some time but are loath to talk about publicly. (Three points: first, MSNBC is unlikely to find fault with anything that doesn't conflict with their liberal and dovish agenda; second, as is stated repeatedly in the article, this is the result of a preliminary review; third, the most sensitive documents are still to come. And, obviously, they don't count embarrassing allied governments to be disruptive or damaging to anyone at all. Ron P.)

Dienhart: Our nation's welfare may depend on the 'Saracuda'
Excerpt: Swing is more than just a dance, or a playground activity. Georgians saw an unprecedented swing during the Republican gubernatorial primary. Fifteen points of swing for Karen Handel, mostly at the expense of state insurance commissioner John Oxendine. According to a Mason-Dixon poll released on July 11th, Commissioner Oxendine held an eight point lead. Then something happened. The next poll showed Ms. Handel up by seven points. That is a surge that would make General David Petraeus proud. In fact, the Handel surge was far less likely than our success in Iraq. As a former political consultant, I would first ask what Oxendine did to drop in the polls like that. A 15 point electoral swing doesn't occur very often, and certainly not without scandal. So what did "Ox" do? Nothing. He worked the election as he had every other election. He kissed babies and shook hands. He made friends and was careful to make no new enemies. He was the consummate candidate. All was going well. So, if Ox didn't mess up, what did Ms. Handel do? She also kissed babies and shook hands, but that doesn't get you 15 points. Frankly, she could have pulled Falcons QB Matt Ryan out of a burning building and not picked up 15 points amongst Falcon fans, let alone likely voters. Don't get me wrong -- I didn't vote for Oxendine. I actually voted for Handel. I'm a conservative, and I like Handel's stance on just about everything. My intent is not to belittle her achievement. My intent is to give credit where credit is due, but there is more to it than that.

US cannot account for $8.7B in Iraqi funds
Excerpt: A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for over 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation. The $8.7 billion in question was Iraqi money managed by the Pentagon, not part of the $53 billion that Congress has allocated for rebuilding. It's cash that Iraq, which relies on volatile oil revenues to fuel its spending, can ill afford to lose. "Iraq should take legal action to get back this huge amount of money," said Sabah al-Saedi, chairman of the Parliamentary Integrity Committee. The money "should be spent for rebuilding the country and providing services for this poor nation." The report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction accused the Defense Department of lax oversight and weak controls, though not fraud.

Alan west for Congress
I’m a contributor.

Obamacare’s Negative Prognosis
Excerpt: The trillion dollar Obamacare experiment to reform America’s health system won’t work. But the primary reason why it won’t work is not what you may think. Although a majority of Americans want nationalized health care repealed, that probably won’t lead to the demise of the law. A July 19 Rasmussen Reports poll found 60 percent of voters want the law overturned. And 61 percent of voters think health costs now will go up, not down. Sixty-two percent thought the federal deficit will increase, with 54 percent believing the law is “bad for the country.” Still, repeal seems unlikely. Congress would need a two-thirds majority to both pass a repeal and then override the presumed veto. Only a new President, friendly to repeal, could kill the law, a Fox story noted. What about the doctor shortage? “Aging baby boomers will create a growing demand for medical services,” said The Foundry June 18. “Nearly 40 percent of doctors are 55 or older and on the cusp of retirement—and the number of students on track to graduate from medical and nursing schools will not be adequate to replace them.” Obamacare expands health coverage by adding 16 million more people to the Medicaid rolls. Medicaid pays doctors notoriously low reimbursement rates, usually not enough to cover the cost of seeing the patients.
3,000 terrorists for India battle: Pak Taliban
Didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: Pakistan's Taliban claims it has organised 3,000 terrorists for its declared battle against India, the Taliban spokesperson tells Tahir Ali in Islamabad. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has declared it is training terrorists to launch an attack on India. The TTP is the Pakistan counterpart of Afghanistan's Taliban and has been blamed for several terror attacks in that country. TTP spokesperson Azam Tariq told this correspondent in a telephone interview that the TTP has vowed to capture "Hindustan". "India is our jageer (domain)," Tariq said, "and we will attack to take possession of it. We are training lots of fighters and suicide bombers who will be used for this purpose."

Muslim cleric accuses Pakistani Christian minister of committing blasphemy
Gee, a cleric who doesn’t realize that “Islam is a religion of peace.” Excerpt: Allama Ahmed Mian Hammadi, a Pakistani Muslim cleric, has claimed that Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities has himself committed blasphemy by branding the recently murdered Christian brothers as victims of Pakistan blasphemy laws. Bhatti had spoken out about the murder last week of Rashid Emmanuel, 30, and his brother Sajid, 27, by unidentified masked gunmen inside a courthouse in Faisalabad. The brothers had been accused of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad earlier this month, a charge they had both denied. According to Mr Hammadi's statement, published in Daily Jasarat, a Pakistani Urdu daily newspaper, the Muslim cleric said that Muslims cannot tolerate blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. "It is not a cruelty to kill blasphemers, rather blasphemy itself is such an enormous brutality that the one who commits it neither has got a right to live in this world nor is there any pardon for the blasphemer," Daily Jasarat quoted Mr Hammadi as saying.

US paying Pakistan to kill American troops?
Excerpt: In effect, the chronicles suggested that Washington was blindly paying Pakistan massive amounts of money for access to Afghanistan even as Islamabad uses its spy agency, ISI, to plot the death of American and Nato troops, allied Indian personnel, and undermines US policy. The most devastating leaks showed that Pakistan allows representatives of its spy service, ISI, to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize attacks against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders, including President Hamid Karzai.

Iran stoning case woman fainted on hearing sentence, says cellmate
I wonder if Hollywood would still love them if we allowed them to stone adulterers there? Excerpt: A former cellmate of a woman sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, who spent two years in prison with her and accompanied her to the court when she received the news of her punishment, has told the Guardian how the woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, fainted in shock after hearing the verdict. "It was in mid-November 2008 when the guards woke us up unexpectedly and told Sakineh and me that we should get ready for the court," said Shahnaz Gholami, 42, whose political activities in support of Azari minorities put her in jail for more than four years in Iran. Gholami, an active blogger, is seeking asylum in Paris. Later that morning, the officials handcuffed Mohammadi Ashtiani and Gholami and took them to the court. Gholami said: "During the 15-minute journey to the court from the prison, she was just worried for her children, but she was not expecting anything even a bit close to the stoning. When we met once again after the court, she was appalled, absolutely speechless."

You Want to Talk About Scandal?
Excerpt: Forget Wikileaks. For genuine scandal, check out the newly released letter from the U.S. embassy in London to Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond. It reveals a) the Obama administration’s passivity in the run-up to Scotland’s release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, b) the administration’s deception in claiming to have had no foreknowledge of Megrahi’s release, and c) the administration’s inability to persuade other governments of anything. Although President Obama previously said that he was “surprised, disappointed and angry” about Scotland’s release of Megrahi, the letter makes plain that there was no surprise whatsoever. The anger and disappointment now belong firmly to the American people.

Interior Dept. Inspector General Investigating post facto falsified statements from engineers on drilling moratorium
Excerpt: While this isn’t our normal fare here at WUWT, I found it interesting and relevant, since WUWT covered the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling spill story early on here, with several follow ups. This story is a result of that spill. – Anthony US Department of Interior Inspector General Kendall is now investigating claims by seven members of the National Academy of Engineers that Interior falsified statements by them in order to support the Obama Administrations arguments for a moratorium on offshore oil drilling in the wake of the BP oil spill. As you may recall, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was asked by President Obama for recommendations on new drilling safety recommendations. On May 27th, Obama announced a six month moratorium on offshore drilling based on Salazar’s report, the top recommendation of which was a moratorium on drilling. The Department of the Interior later said it didn’t intend to imply that the experts had supported the moratorium. Oh dear, that must make it all better. After all, good intentions helped the hockey team get away with their climategate related actions. Fortunately, the courts aren’t having any of this sort of argument. The engineers complaints are also a central part of the federal lawsuit against the moratorium, which to date, has gone badly for the Obama administration.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: more revelations to come
Excerpt: The Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, said today that the organisation is working through a "backlog" of further secret material and was expecting a "substantial increase in submissions" from whistleblowers after one of the biggest leaks in US military history. Speaking in London after his website published more than 92,000 classified military logs relating to the war in Afghanistan, Assange said that he hoped for an "age of the whistleblower" in which more people would come forward with information they believed should be published. Assange said that the site, which currently operates with a small dedicated team but has a network of about 800 volunteers, had a "backlog" of more material which only "just scratched the surface." While he would not be drawn into commenting on the nature of the material, he said that the organisation held "several million files" that "concern every country in the world with a population over 1 million".

A Journolist for climate change?
In terms of climate change, we all evidently live in Lake Wobegon, where the rate of temperature rise is always above average. Tom Nelson aggregates climate change news on his blog, and has compiled a long list of locations reported to be warming faster than everywhere else. The North Pole, the South Pole, Africa, Europe, China, Tibet, Spain, the Korean peninsula, the Himalayas, the western United States, and the Lake Superior area are each the fastest-warming area on the planet. A quick search revealed a new item for Tom’s list - the upper elevations of Hawaii, where it’s “getting hotter here faster than anywhere else in the world.” It’s difficult for lay people to get a handle on the science when it’s continually hyped. This isn’t a new development - changes in climate have been poorly reported for more than a century. The catch is that it’s alternated between warming and cooling four times, and whether the trend is warming or cooling, the stories over the last hundred years use very similar verbiage. It’s always a crisis. Soon it will be irreversible. The end is near! You would almost think there was a Journolist for climate change.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky: Public option will reduce deficit
Excerpt: Do you remember when Rep. Jan Schakowsky bragged that Obama’s nationalized health care plan would destroy the insurance industry? Now this radical leftist is out telling supporters that the public option will reduce Obama’s record deficit.

Anna Fermanova Is America's New Sexy Russian Spy
Excerpt: Mere weeks after America banished sexy Russian spy Anna Chapman, another has surfaced: 24-year-old Anna Fermanova is accused of smuggling military technology to Moscow. She has a bellybutton ring and poses in bikinis on Facebook. Meet America's new sexy spy. The Smoking Gun reports that Fermanova is under house arrest in Texas awaiting trial for "knowingly and intentionally" exporting contraband weapons-grade night-vision scopes to Moscow. (She denies this, and says the scopes were for big game hunters.) She has an American cosmetology license and teaches English languages in Moscow. According to her booking papers, Anna is 5'6" and has a belly ring. According to Facebook, she likes slutty Halloween costumes and pointing at the camera when she's drunk. Anyway, here are a bunch of screen grabs from Anna's Facebook page, featuring commentary like "You put the RAAWR in RAAWUSSIAN" and "One very hot sexy Jew indeed. ;)" Is this a viral marketing campaign for Salt, or something? (Hard to believe. There must be easier--and far less risky--ways to acquire night scopes if they are actually for military use. She may have gotten greedy for something easily sold for a big profit on the other end. That would make her stupid and greedy, but not necessarily a spy. –Ron. P.)

1 comment:

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