Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Political Digest September 2, 2009

This post includes links to several interesting pieces on Afghanistan, sent to me by Marine Greg Johnson, who’s son is serving in that little slice of paradise. Keep him & all our troops in your prayers and thoughts. This is a good place to repeat that I include pieces I find interesting, but do not necessarily agree with.

A Heroic Death, Without the Headlines (A Must Read)
Excerpt: 31Aug09 - Marine Capt. Matthew Freeman made his last trip across the U.S. Naval Academy in the company of friends the other day. Yes, there were admirals and generals, colonels and majors, captains of the Navy and the Marines among the hundreds who joined him. But there are moments when the strictures of rank are loosened by the greater bond of brotherhood. This was one of them. Four thousand and seventy-four days had passed since Matt arrived here as a kid, had his head shaved and was sworn in as a Navy midshipman. Two thousand six hundred and fifty-one days had gone by since he hurled his hat into the air at graduation and became a Marine. It had been 47 days since he married Theresa, his high school sweetheart, and 34 days since he headed to Afghanistan. And it was just 19 days after he led his men onto a rooftop that provided the only high ground in a nasty firefight with the Taliban in a hamlet in a rugged, desolate northeastern province.

We're Not the Soviets in Afghanistan and 2009 isn't 1979
Excerpt: Unsurprisingly, large sections of the Afghan people fought bitterly against the invaders who were fighting on behalf of a puppet government that they had installed and that had the support of virtually no one. The most bitter fights were in the north, especially in Tajik areas. The Soviets tried repeatedly to clear the Panjshir Valley but could never do so. They fought ferociously to maintain freedom of movement through the Salang Tunnel, which was the target of continuous insurgent interdiction attempts. In the south, Jalalluddin Haqqani's forces isolated the Afghan and Soviet garrison in Khowst, cutting the Khowst-Gardez road and requiring the Soviets to resupply the garrison by air. The Soviets fought the largest battle of the war to open the K-G road during Operation MAGISTRAL (MAINLINE) in 1987. The commander of the Limited Contingent, Colonel General Boris Gromov, personally oversaw the operation. The Soviets were able to resupply the garrison by road, but the insurgents cut the road again as soon as the Limited Contingent withdrew its forces from the area. Urban legend has it that the introduction of American Stinger MANPADs led to Soviet defeat. In fact, Stingers did not show up until 1986, and the Soviets had already lost the war by then and, indeed, taken the decision to leave. The advent of Stingers did not defeat a Soviet strategy that was working; it accelerated the collapse of a strategy that was failing.

Marines Fight Taliban With Little Aid From Afghans
Excerpt: American Marines secured this desolate village in southern Afghanistan nearly two months ago, and last week they were fortifying bases, on duty at checkpoints and patrolling in full body armor in 120-degree heat. Despite those efforts, only a few hundred Afghans were persuaded to come out here and vote for president on Thursday. In a region the Taliban have lorded over for six years, and where they remain a menacing presence, American officers say their troops alone are not enough to reassure Afghans. Something is missing that has left even the recently appointed district governor feeling dismayed. “I don’t get any support from the government,” said the governor, Massoud Ahmad Rassouli Balouch.

Could Afghanistan become Obama's Vietnam?
Excerpt: President Obama had not even taken office before supporters were etching his likeness onto Mount Rushmore as another Abraham Lincoln or the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Yet what if they got the wrong predecessor? What if Mr. Obama is fated to be another Lyndon B. Johnson instead?

Fixing Afghanistan
Excerpt: He suggests that we simply buy up the poppy crop (cost: $2 billion to $3 billion), stop "trying to prop up an inevitably corrupt and feeble Kabul central government," and "support the tribes that have cheerfully and courageously driven out all foreign intruders for thousands of years, not try to build a national government that they will equally cheerfully massacre." I'm not sure what Blankley means by "support" them, since it appears to me that the most effective thing we can do is leave them to their own devices. But he's on the right track that if the choices are either to spend decades, and hundreds of billions of dollars, creating a democratic Valhalla based in Kabul, or start winding down our presence while allowing some sort of province-by-province, warlord-based (and in the south, Taliban-leaning, Pashtun) local fiefdoms to emerge, then I'd pick Option Two.

Suicide of the West? By Thomas Sowell, PhD
Excerpt: Britain's release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi-- the Libyan terrorist whose bomb blew up a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people-- is galling enough in itself. But it is even more profoundly troubling as a sign of a larger mood that has been growing in the Western democracies in our time. In ways large and small, domestically and internationally, the West is surrendering on the installment plan to Islamic extremists. The late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put his finger on the problem when he said: "The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles."… But getting other people killed so that you can feel puffed up about yourself is profoundly immoral. So is betraying the country you took an oath to protect.

In Afghanistan, Knowing When to Stop,_knowing_when_to_stop
Excerpt: "Yesterday," reads the e-mail from Allen, a Marine in Afghanistan, "I gave blood because a Marine, while out on patrol, stepped on a (mine's) pressure plate and lost both legs." Then "another Marine with a bullet wound to the head was brought in. Both Marines died this morning." "I'm sorry about the drama," writes Allen, an enthusiastic infantryman willing to die "so that each of you may grow old." He says: "I put everything in God's hands." And: "Semper Fi!"

A Hero's Death in Afghanistan, and the Question 'Why?'
Excerpt: The deceased, an Alexandria resident, was unknown to most Americans, but he did no less for his country than his old boss -- and, gauged by the last full measure of devotion, he did even more. He went from his job working for Kennedy in the Senate to become, at various points, a Washington journalist and a failed congressional candidate. But it was the Sept. 11 attacks that inspired Cahir, at age 34, to get an age waiver from military recruiters in 2003 and enlist in the Marines. That brave and fateful choice ultimately landed Sgt. Cahir on the horse-drawn caisson at Arlington on Monday, two weeks after he took a bullet to the neck while on patrol in Afghanistan. Cahir's widow, pregnant with his twin daughters, accepted the folded flag from his casket.

Bill Cahir Memorial Fund
Burke & Herbert Bank
c/o Mark Ragland
P.O. Box 268
Alexandria, VA 22313.

Jihad/martyrdom bombers who killed 95 at Iraqi government ministries had recently been freed from US custody
Thanks BO!

Florida: Muslim girl sits for Pledge of Allegiance. Non-Muslim girl asks her why she doesn't act proud to be an American. Guess who got suspended.
Excerpt: The teen says an issue over the American flag is why she was written up and handed a five-day suspension from Springstead High School this week for criticizing a Muslim student. Heather says the other girl was sitting down during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Jihadist who blew himself up on Saudi prince's private jet hid explosives in his anus
Excerpt: It said the attacker concealed the explosives in his anus, allowing him to evade detection. The network also quoted an expert as saying that the method of concealment aimed the blast away from the target, while blowing the bomber to bits.... (Well, we knew they were…..)

A Sober Look At Ted Kennedy
Excerpt: As we celebrate fifty years of GQ, we take a look at some of the best journalism the magazine has published. In 1990, Michael Kelly—who later became the first American reporter to die in the Iraq war—gave us this memorable and devastatingly candid portrayal of the last Kennedy brother

What We Are Learning About the Age of Obama
Excerpt: Candidate Obama once in an interview seemed to agree that greater revenue ensued for the federal treasury, but he felt that such benefits were not worth the empowerment of so many to become so wealthy. In other words, higher taxes were good for those who make money — and avoiding or cutting them was unpatriotic and greedy. We now witness Rep. Charles Rangel, who not only somehow on a congressman’s salary compiled hundreds of thousands in cash in various accounts, but also seems to have skipped out on almost every conceivable tax on such lucre. We know the tired story of Treasury Secretary Geithner, who not only skipped his FICA taxes, but pocketed the cash allowances allotted precisely for them. Whether a Chris Dodd or Tom Daschle, the story is the same — insider perks from low interest mortgages to free limousine service were never reported and never taxed. There are two ways of making sense of this paradox. One, such liberals assume that their cosmic humanitarianism and brotherly egalitarianism exempt them from following mere mortal laws (e.g., as in “We are so divine on the important stuff that we deserve a pass on small, insignificant matters”.) And two, in order to enact state planning, and superimpose an overarching government plan onto our own messy agendas, we must bow to a technocracy…. The Good Life. Obama vacations in Martha’s Vineyard, Bush in Crawford Texas. Nancy Pelosi wants twice the private jet that the prior Denny Hassert enjoyed. Edwards’s two nations really mean his mansion and those down the road. The really tony environmentalist pundits and activists think slapping on some solar panels on a five-car garage, or putting up a windmill out in front of the gazebo, is an “offset.” I used to think that the elite left’s obsession with the good life was an amusing act of hypocrisy (gone are the Democrat’s Harry Trumans), but lately it seems far more interesting and complicated. It is almost a personality quirk: the more one desires to have private jets, influential friends, the status that comes with the right location, right schools, and the right job, the more likely one is to mouth the “correct” ideology. Elite liberalism, as we see with the Obamas and their cohorts (and with the Clinton clique as well), is no contradiction. If anything, privilege is the proper compensation for being “good” and “right” on things.

Another Failed Presidency
Excerpt: But, there is something more seriously wrong: How could a new president riding in on a wave of unprecedented promise and goodwill have forfeited his tenure and become a lame duck in six months? His poll ratings are in free fall. In generic balloting, the Republicans have now seized a five point advantage. This truly is unbelievable. What's going on?

The clock is ticking on tax cheat Charlie Rangel
Excerpt: It hasn't gotten much attention amid news of Ted Kennedy, Obamacare and the worsening outlook in Afghanistan, but an extraordinary situation is developing in the House of Representatives. With each passing day, it's becoming more clear that the powerful committee chairman in charge of writing America's tax laws is a financial wheeler-dealer, a serial asset-hider, and a tax offender. Rep. Charles Rangel has been in the House since 1971. He's as old bull as you get in the Democratic hierarchy, and he waited through 12 long years of Republican rule to take over as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in 2007. Along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democratic power brokers Henry Waxman and Barney Frank, Rangel is playing a key role in the effort to push the president's health care, environmental, and financial initiatives through the House.

Senate Democrats likely to go it alone on health plan

National Emergency?
Excerpt: Barack Obama won’t use the phrase “War on Terror.” He no longer wants to do an annual memorial for September 11th. He does not think we are, in any way, at “war.” But faced with a $9 trillion deficit of his creation, a stimulus that has not worked, the buyout of General Motors, a $2 billion over budget Cash for Clunkers program, and a healthcare plan that will add another $2 trillion to the national debt, Barack Obama is finally declaring that there is a national emergency.

Mercury fallout from cash for clunkers
Excerpt: The intent all along was to shunt money-hemorrhaging expenses like mercury reclamation to a zombie company that could go belly-up without also killing General Motors. So don’t expect the administration to do anything about this. Although I suspect that the hand of the government that was establishing the GM reorganization [did not know] what the hand that was putting together Cash-for-Clunkers was doing.

NYT Editorial on HCR
Excerpt: Essentially, the New York Times is advising the Democratic Congress to expose itself to enormous political risk for the sake of health care reform, and gives no recognition that the fundamental political baseline of health care reform has been reset. The go it alone on health care reform blindly ignores the divides within the Democratic Party on health care reform.

Study Raises Questions About Cost Savings From Preventive Care
Excerpt: Preventive services for the chronically ill may reduce health-care costs, but they are unlikely to generate the kind of fantastic savings that President Obama and other Democrats have said could help pay for an overhaul of the nation's health system, according to a study being published Tuesday.

Union only in federal construction?
Excerpt: Barack Obama and his administration are about to significantly drive up the costs of federal building construction. This is an astonishing reach. The Office of Management and Budget has directed that any federal construction over $25 million benefit unions. The order would make all federal construction projects 10-20% more expensive by requiring all contractors to either use union workers or apply inefficient union apprenticeship and work rules to their employees. Contractors would also be required to make contributions to union pension funds and other union programs that non-union workers will never benefit from.

Have You Heard Ken Gladney's Story?
Excerpt: Last week, a black gentleman named Kenneth Gladney went to a town-hall meeting hosted by Rep. Russ Carnahan, Missouri Democrat. While passing out "Don't Tread on Me" flags, he was viciously attacked by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members. One called him a "nigger." These union thugs were directed by the White House to go to the protests and "punch back twice as hard." And they did. While the attack was captured on video and is available on YouTube, Mr. Gladney's horrifying story is absent from MSNBC's 24/7 media cycle. Mr. Krugman has yet to write about it. And Mr. Cooper has yet to condemn the attack. (As Skip Gates should have said, “This is what happens to a black man in America who thinks for himself.)

"Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent." –Adam Smith

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