Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Political Digest May 25, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with them. I have to say all this to give some of my critics the benefit of the doubt, assuming they are thick, rather than deliberately taking things the wrong way.

Property Taxes in Cook County
We are valued at $45k above what we paid last June. So I offered to sell it to them.

One false move in Europe could set off global chain reaction
Not “if,” “when.” All they can do now is postpone the disaster, because there are not enough young workers to support the entitlement systems. And the Muslim “guest workers” they have been importing bring more people to go on the dole, plus threats of violence. This is Socialism on the Brink, and likely to drag us into the abyss. My original projection was the collapse in Europe would be ten years away, but I may be wrong. Excerpt: If the trouble starts -- and it remains an "if" -- the trigger may well be obscure to the concerns of most Americans: a missed budget projection by the Spanish government, the failure of Greece to hit a deficit-reduction target, a drop in Ireland's economic output. But the knife-edge psychology currently governing global markets has put the future of the U.S. economic recovery in the hands of politicians in an assortment of European capitals. If one or more fail to make the expected progress on cutting budgets, restructuring economies or boosting growth, it could drain confidence in a broad and unsettling way. Credit markets worldwide could lock up and throw the global economy back into recession. For the average American, that seemingly distant sequence of events could translate into another hit on the 401(k) plan, a lost factory shift if exports to Europe decline and another shock to the banking system that might make it harder to borrow. "If what happened in Greece were to happen in a large country, it could fundamentally mark our times," Angelos Pangratis, head of the European Union delegation to the United States, said Friday after a panel discussion on the crisis in Greece sponsored by the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

America's new culture war: Free enterprise vs. government control
Meanwhile, we lurch towards becoming Greece. Excerpt: This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country's future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise -- limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose. It is not at all clear which side will prevail. The forces of big government are entrenched and enjoy the full arsenal of the administration's money and influence. Our leaders in Washington, aided by the unprecedented economic crisis of recent years and the panic it induced, have seized the moment to introduce breathtaking expansions of state power in huge swaths of the economy, from the health-care takeover to the financial regulatory bill that the Senate approved Thursday. If these forces continue to prevail, America will cease to be a free enterprise nation.... Just compare the protests in America with those in Europe. Here, we see tea partiers demonstrating against the government's encroachment on the free enterprise system and protesting the fact that the state is spending too much money bailing out too many people. Why are people protesting in Greece? Because they want the government to give them even more. They are angry because their government -- in the face of its worst economic and perhaps existential crisis in decades -- won't pay the lavish pensions to which they feel entitled. There's no better example of the cultural difference between America and Europe today, yet it is toward European-style social democracy that the 30 percent coalition wants to move us.

Financial crisis threatens Europe's cherished system of social welfare benefits
Meanwhile, the Democrats have convinced the public wee should catch up with Europe. Ugly days are coming, friends. Excerpt: Six weeks of vacation a year. Retirement at 60. Thousands of euros for having a baby. A good university education for less than the cost of a laptop. The system known as the European welfare state was built after World War II as the keystone of a shared prosperity meant to prevent future conflict. Generous lifelong benefits have since become a defining feature of modern Europe. Now the welfare state -- cherished by many Europeans as an alternative to what they see as dog-eat-dog American capitalism -- is coming under its most serious threat in decades: Europe's sovereign debt crisis. Deep budget cuts are under way across Europe. Although the first round is focused mostly on government payrolls -- the least politically explosive target -- welfare benefits are looking increasingly vulnerable. "The current welfare state is unaffordable," said Uri Dadush, director of the Carnegie Endowment's International Economics Program. "The crisis has made the day of reckoning closer by several years in virtually all the industrial countries."

Many disillusioned Pakistanis look beyond U.S. for work, travel and education
Not really good news. Those coming to kill us will still come. Excerpt: A series of international terrorism incidents linked to Pakistanis, including a failed car bombing this month in Times Square, has prompted many Pakistanis who once had deep ties to the United States to look elsewhere for work, education and travel. It has also left some Pakistani Americans feeling uneasy in their adopted homeland. The stress of living under suspicion has had a palpable effect, Pakistani American community leaders say. Travel agents say bookings between Pakistan and the United States are down, and U.S. visa applications for travel from Pakistan appear to be dwindling. Though the U.S. government has ended a policy implemented after an attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing that involved extra scrutiny for travelers from 14 countries, including Pakistan, many Pakistanis still feel they are being watched.

Are You Ready For Global Cooling?
Excerpt: Noted scientists at a Chicago climate conference declare that global warming is not only dead, but that the planet faces a big chill for decades to come. What about those frozen wind turbines? It's not exactly Copenhagen or Kyoto, but the 700 scientists attending the fourth International Conference on Climate Change, sponsored by the Heartland Institute, had some chilling news of their own in the most liberal sense. "Global warming is over — at least for a few decades," Don Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told the gathering. "However, the bad news is that global cooling is even more harmful to humans than global warming, and a cause for greater concern."

Houston: Model City
Excerpt: Do cities have a future? Pessimists point to industrial-era holdovers like Detroit and Cleveland. Urban boosters point to dense, expensive cities like New York, Boston and San Francisco. Yet if you want to see successful 21st-century urbanism, hop on down to Houston and the Lone Star State. You won't be alone: Last year Houston added 141,000 residents, more than any region in the U.S. save the city's similarly sprawling rival, Dallas-Fort Worth. Over the past decade Houston's population has grown by 24%--five times the rate of San Francisco, Boston and New York. In that time it has attracted 244,000 new residents from other parts of the U.S., while older cities experienced high rates of out-migration. It is even catching up on foreign immigration, enjoying a rate comparable with New York's and roughly 50% higher than that of Boston or Chicago. So what does Houston have that these other cities lack? Opportunity. Between 2000 and 2009 Houston's employment grew by 260,000. Greater New York City--with nearly three times the population of Houston--has added only 96,000 jobs. The Chicago area has lost 258,000 jobs, San Francisco 217,000, Los Angeles 168,000 and Boston 100,004. Politicians in big cities talk about jobs, but by keeping taxes, fees and regulatory barriers high they discourage the creation of jobs, at least in the private sector. A business in San Francisco or Los Angeles never knows what bizarre new cost will be imposed by city hall. In New York or Boston you can thrive as a nonprofit executive, high-end consultant or financier, but if you are the owner of a business that wants to grow you're out of luck.

Singapore, Hong Kong surpass US in competitiveness
Thanks, BO. Excerpt: Singapore and Hong Kong are the world's most competitive economies, an annual survey said Friday, demoting the United States from the top spot for the first time since 1993. The study lists 58 economies according to 328 criteria that measure how the nations create and maintain conditions favorable to businesses - a formula that had favored the U.S. for 16 years.

Best and Worst States for Business 2010
Excerpt: In Chief Executive’s annual survey of best and worst states for business, conducted in late January of this year, 651 CEOs across the U.S. again gave Texas top honors, closely followed by North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. They gave the booby prize for worst state to California, with New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts filling out the bottom five-a line-up virtually unchanged from last year. Florida and Georgia each dropped three places in the ranking, but remain in the top 10. Utah jumped six positions this year to sneak into the top 10 at No. 9.

What's really behind SEIU's Bank of America protests?
Excerpt: Every journalist loves a peaceful protest-whether it makes news, shakes up a political season, or holds out the possibility of altering history. Then there are the ones that show up on your curb--literally. Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that -- in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action -- makes his family fair game.

Is This Just a Nightmare, or Did It Really Happen?
Excerpt: During Barrack Hussein Obama's May 19, 2010 joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderón, our president -- constitutionally charged with the duty to defend America from all enemies, foreign and domestic -- earned the scarlet "D": By silence he aligned himself with the invaders of our country and their leader against the citizens of America's own state of Arizona who have been forced by his dereliction to defend themselves. Nearly as amazing, on Thursday, May 20, 2010, that same foreign president, speaking from where Churchill stood during World War II, received a standing ovation from the Democrat members of Congress when he reviled the citizens of Arizona for daring to try to fashion a defense of their part of the American-Mexican border. And the Republicans did not walk out or offer any other visible, dramatic objection.... When America is being invaded by a foreign power, one expects the President of the United States to be on America's side. That's how it's worked in the past, anyway. If that's too steep a demand, could we ask that our president not publicly endorse the enemy's characterization of modest defensive efforts as "discriminatory"? If even that decent silence is too much, could our president at least not provide the invaders' leader with a White House venue to denounce our people and our laws?

Clinton: Situation 'Precarious' on Korean Peninsula
Excerpt: Speaking to reporters in Beijing shortly after the White House issued a statement offering Washington's full and unequivocal support for Seoul, Clinton said all of North Korea's neighbors, including its chief ally China, understand the seriousness of the matter and want to "contain" it. "We are working hard to avoid an escalation of belligerence and provocation," Clinton said. "This is a highly precarious situation that the North Koreans have caused in the region." The U.S. will work with other nations to see that North Korea feels the consequences of its actions and changes its behavior to avoid "the kind of escalation that would be very regrettable," she said.

Harry Reid angles for tea party foe in Nevada
Elections are decided by the uncommitted, low-interest voters in the middle, who tend to be put off by far left or right candidates—which is why BO pretended to be a moderate. Excerpt: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has knocked down his leading Republican challenger, paving the way for a potential fall fight with a tea party favorite who may be easier to beat. Reid’s unceasing attacks on his biggest-name challenger — former Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden — have dragged her down into a tight three-way race with lawyer Danny Tarkanian and former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, who has won the endorsement of the Tea Party Express. A Democratic-funded poll released last week showed Angle edging out Lowden, with Tarkanian in third place. It was the first time in months that Lowden hasn’t held a sizable lead. “Harry Reid very much likes to pick his opponent. He wants to be right in the middle of the Republican primary,” Lowden told POLITICO Friday. “He’s doing everything he can to influence the primary, and he knows I can beat him.”

More mischief in Illinois race
Never happen. Excerpt: Now, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who did not endorse anyone in the Democratic primary, is flirting with the idea of backing Republican nominee Mark Kirk in the general election. “I like Alexi Giannoulias, but I have great respect for Mark Kirk and his service to the people of Illinois,” Jackson told POLITICO. Jackson and Kirk work together on the House Appropriations Committee, on which both are senior members of the subcommittee that provides foreign aid. It’s exceedingly rare for a lawmaker of one party to endorse a colleague of the other party — particularly within the same state — meaning Jackson lending his name to Kirk would be a bit of a shock to the political system and a blow to Giannoulias’s campaign.

Why Kim won't pay
Excerpt: This is the true asymmetry of today's warfare: They kill; we talk. For centuries, until the 20th century's final decades, any provocation of the magnitude of North Korea's sinking of the Cheonan would lead to all-out war. Bloody, cruel and costly, hostilities would end only when the losing side agreed to humiliating conditions. Even in today's rule books -- devised over centuries of warfare and enshrined in the treaties we call "international law" -- the March 26 incident constitutes a clear declaration of war: With no provocation, a North Korean submarine launched a torpedo against the Cheonan, a South Korean vessel patrolling on its own side of the sea border. South Korea, aided by American and other international forensic investigators, issued an exhaustive report last week, establishing the North Korea culpability. But no one expects war. Any hint of renewed Korean War would sink the Seoul stock market. And in an interconnected world already on edge over economic uncertainty, that collapse could easily trigger a worldwide panic. So, in response to Pyongyang's act of war, Seoul is merely planning to drop the remnants of aid it gives to the crazy sister state to its north, and conduct a joint naval exercise with US ships in the region. It's also asking the UN Security Council to convene today to do . . . something.

Mosque unbecoming
Here’s the Muslim BO should have as an advisor. Excerpt: In the 1960s, my parents left their despotic motherland of Syria for the promise of genuine liberty and religious freedom in America. In the decades since, we have led the construction of a number of mosques in the towns where we lived. Some went up without challenge from the local community, but others met with palpable local discontent. In those cases, the law and the natural American affinity for religious freedom eventually paved the way to the ribbon cutting. These were all humble mosques, funded locally by our congregations. It's plain the planned "Ground Zero mosque" is something very different. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, his wife, Daisy Khan, and an investor intend to build "Cordoba House," an ostentatious $100 million, 13-story Muslim community center including a gym, a swimming pool, a performance-arts facility and a mosque. My first concern is whether the financing truly represents the local American Muslim community or comes with strings from foreign Islamists. But that is far from my last concern. I am an American Muslim dedicated to defeating the ideology that fuels global Islamist terror -- political Islam. And I don't see such a "center" actually fighting terrorism or being a very "positive" addition near Ground Zero, no matter how well intentioned.

Bordering on loco: Dems' Calderon ovation
Excerpt: I never expected, in my lifetime, to see a foreign dictator of a corrupt narco state given a standing ovation in the halls of Congress for attacking an American sovereign state…..Even more disturbing is the fact that these same Democrats applauded the leader of a country that's directly responsible for our own country's drug, gang and illegal-immigration problems and who criticized a state law that directly mirrors federal law.

The Bankrupting of America
Excerpt: The American public feels it is drowning in red ink. It is dismayed and even outraged at the burgeoning national deficits, unbalanced state and local budgets, and accounting that often masks the extent of indebtedness. There is a mounting sense that taxpayers are being taken for an expensive ride by public-sector unions. The extraordinary benefits the unions have secured for their members are going to be harder and harder to pay. The political backlash has energized the tea party activists, put incumbents at risk in both parties, and already elected fiscal conservatives such as Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. Over the next fiscal year, the states are looking at deficits approaching hundreds of billions of dollars. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, estimates that this coming year alone states will face an aggregate shortfall of $180 billion. In some states the budget gap is more than 30%. How did we get into such a mess? States have always had to cope with volatility in the size and composition of their populations. Now we have shrinking tax bases caused by recession and extra costs imposed on states to pay for Medicaid in the federal health-care program. The straw (well, more like an iron beam) that breaks the camel's back is the unfunded portions of state pension plans, health care and other retirement benefits promised to public-sector employees. And federal government assistance to states is falling—down by roughly half in the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Jamaica declares emergency in capital after attacks
The drug violence spreads. Every American using illegal drugs is an accessory to murder. Excerpt: Jamaica declared a state of emergency in two parishes of its capital Kingston on Sunday after shooting and firebomb attacks on police stations by suspected supporters of an alleged drug lord who faces extradition to the United States. "A state of public emergency, limited to the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, has been declared and will come into effect at 6:00 p.m. (2300 GMT) today," the government's Jamaica Information Service (JIS) said. The limited emergency in the popular Caribbean tourist destination covered districts of the capital where gunmen on Sunday fired on two police stations and set fire to another. At least one policemen was injured. The attackers were suspected supporters of Christopher "Dudus" Coke whom the government has called on to surrender to face a U.S. extradition request on cocaine trafficking and gun-running charges. (Old joke: “I met a nice girl on that island.” “Jamaica?” “No, but another drink and I would have.”)

Democrats: Learn to Read
Excerpt: The literacy rate in the United States is 99 percent. That means that only 1 percent of people in the United States above the age of 15 are incapable of reading and writing. Apparently, all of them are members of the Obama administration. Attorney General Eric Holder admits that he has not read the Arizona immigration law, which requires law enforcement officers to check immigration status upon stopping people based on reasonable suspicion of illegal activity. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano says she hasn't read the law, either. You can also lump State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley into that group. That did not stop any of them from opining at length on the Arizona law; Holder called the law "a slippery slope" leading to racial profiling, saying he based that opinion on "television, talking to people who are on the review panel." Napolitano called the law "bad law enforcement law." Crowley defended a U.S. diplomat who actually apologized to China for the immigration law -- as though American states should apologize for enforcing their borders to a country that routinely excises and sells the internal organs of its political prisoners.

Obama Exporting Chicago's Misery to a City Near You
Excerpt: If you want to get a good glimpse of what America will look like if President Obama continues to push his “change” agenda, take a close look at Chicago. But brace yourself: it is not a pretty picture. Chicago, as we all know, is Mr. Obama’s home and the place where he served as a community organizer, a state legislator, and a US Senator. Obama championed a variety of jobs creation programs, advanced ideas to reduce crime, and sought earmarks totaling some $800 million dollars to boost the Chicago economy. By all accounts, he was energetic, determined, and successful pushing these programs. But while many, including Obama, have focused almost exclusively on Mr. Obama’s noble intentions, few have focused on the results. Which of Obama’s efforts in Chicago delivered the promised benefits? None. Chicago is a city in crisis. Crime rates have surged despite the many, Obama-led, community-building efforts. The number of Americans murdered in Chicago this year is about the same number of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past year. Two State Senators have argued that Chicago’s crime problem is too big for locals to solve and have called for deployment of the National Guard. Nor is crime the only problem in the windy city. Unemployment is at11.2%, 1.3 points above the national average. Worse yet, minorities are particularly hit by a failing Chicago economy that continues to shed jobs as the unemployment rates among minorities top 20%. Alas, the index of misery in Chicago earned the city the distinction as the third most miserable city in America, as high taxes cripple job growth, innovation, and entrepreneurialism.

Deval Patrick vows support for Muslims
Making the Commonwealth safe for…... Excerpt: In his largest meeting with Boston-area Muslims, Gov. Deval Patrick agreed yesterday to take aim at ensuring their rights and addressing racial profiling. The session came little more than a week after two Bay State Muslims were arrested in a raid following an attempted car bombing in Times Square in New York

Islamists torch summer camp in Gaza
Keeping the world safe from uppity females. Excerpt: Masked gunmen from an Islamist group torched a UN-run summer camp for children and teens in Gaza on Sunday, Army Radio reported, the top UN aid official in Gaza said. John Ging says the assailants tied up the guard early Sunday, burned tents and vandalized bathrooms. UN officials say the attackers left behind three bullets and a note threatening to kill Ging and others unless the UN cancels its activities for some 250,000 Gaza children.

The Commission, Part I.
Excerpt: As alert readers will know by now, President Obama has appointed a commission on the federal debt, mainly focused on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. To signal his seriousness about this venture, the President has gone so far as to put the newly passed health reform bill on the negotiating table — even though the ink on the new law is barely dry. Just to get everyone’s thinking jump-started, let me propose four bold ideas: A regressive increase in taxes. A regressive cut in benefits. A tax on capital income, destined to remove from the economy the funds needed to create jobs and make workers more productive. No change in the Ponzi-scheme structure of these programs — by which we continue to promise benefits we are not willing to pay for. If these ideas do not immediately strike you as appealing, you need to know they are not really my ideas. The bullet points above describe the results of the 1983 Greenspan Commission — a bipartisan effort to “save” Social Security. At least inside Washington, D.C., and in the mainstream media, this effort is universally regarded as a stellar example of how politicians should solve problems. Many hope the commission on the federal debt will follow the Greenspan commission example. More compassionate people, like yours truly, hope they do not succeed.

Massachusetts: Doctors may be forced to accept Medicare rates to stay licensed
Excerpt: Without an adequate supply of primary care physicians, however, the plan cannot guarantee timely access to care, creating a gap between coverage and actual provision of services. As a result, waiting times to see a primary care physician can amount to weeks and even months in some instances. It’s ironic since the health care reform bill in Massachusetts was supposed to stress the importance of preventative care but because of the relative shortage of doctors to deliver preventative care, many patients are seeking primary care from specialists. Unfortunately, specialists also specialize in expensive care. Thus, health reform in Massachusetts has resulted in decreased access to primary care and higher costs. What can Massachusetts do to actually reform their primary care system? Well, they can improve primary care reimbursement or revamp the reimbursement system to reward overall care and good outcomes rather then only rewarding physicians for visits (quantity over quality) or medical school debt repayment. But why pay doctors more for better care when you can just force them to accept lower reimbursement rates (as low as 110% of Medicare rates) “as a condition of their licensure” that would effectively make these physicians employees of the state?

Obama Top Recipient of BP Cash in Past 20 Years
Excerpt: Today on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, one of the topics Governor Palin discussed was the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. She noted that the MSM is largely ignoring the massive amount of money British Petroleum has contributed to Barack Obama over the past several years. To a casual observer, this would seem to be a salient topic to bring up in light of the Obama Administration's slow response to the disaster.

The Paygo Con
Excerpt: A day after beating incumbent Arlen Specter in a Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary contest, Rep. Joe Sestak announced that he would make "enforcement of the pay-as-you-go budget rules" a priority if he wins in November. Good luck to him.
Pay-as-you-go, or paygo, rules require that new entitlement spending and new tax cuts must be paid for dollar-for-dollar with entitlement spending cuts or tax increases. As Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee has noted, the Democrats under Speaker Nancy Pelosi "have violated pay-as-you-go rules by nearly $1 trillion" over the past three years.

Obama asks Congress for added power to slash spending measures
Excerpt: The White House called for a new presidential power Monday to slash spending that would be similar to a line-item veto. The "expedited rescission authority" that President Barack Obama is sending to Congress this week would allow the president to propose a package of cuts to recently signed spending measures and then force Congress to take up-or-down votes on it. Those cuts would become law if they received a majority of votes in both chambers. Here we are a providing a way for the president to give the knife back to Congress for it to cut unnecessary fat," said White House Budget Director Peter Orszag in a conference call.

Combat zone: extracts from Sebastian Junger's War
Excerpt: For 15 months the writer Sebastian Junger was embedded with a US army platoon in the Korengal Valley, the scene of the fiercest fighting in Afghanistan. The writer's aim was to convey the experience of combat as accurately and honestly as possible and, short of carrying a gun, he was as close to the action as the soldiers themselves. In this extract from his book War, he provides an insight into the fear, the trauma and, paradoxically, the all-consuming thrill of battle. Summer grinds on: 100 degrees every day and tarantulas invading the living quarters to get out of the heat. Some of the men are terrified of them and can only sleep in mesh pup tents, and others pick them up with pliers and set them on fire. The timber bunkers at Firebase Phoenix on the upper slopes of the valley are infested with fleas, and the men wear flea collars around their ankles but still scratch all day long. First Squad goes 38 days without taking a shower or changing their clothes, and by the end their uniforms are so impregnated with salt that they can stand up by themselves. The men’s sweat reeks of ammonia because they’ve long since burnt off all their fat and are now breaking down muscle. There are wolves up in the high peaks that howl at night and mountain lions that creep through the Korengal Outpost (KOP) looking for food, and troops of monkeys that set to screeching from the crags around the base. One species of bird sounds exactly like incoming rocket-propelled grenades; the men call them 'RPG birds’ and can’t keep themselves from flinching whenever they hear them. There are attacks almost every day, everything from single shots that whistle over the men’s heads to valleywide firefights that start on the Abas Ghar mountain and work their way around clockwise. In July, Sgt Padilla is cooking Philly cheesesteaks for the men at Phoenix, and has just yelled, 'Come and get it before I get killed,’ when an RPG sails into the compound and takes off his arm. Pte Misha Pemble-Belkin helps load him into a Humvee, and for weeks afterwards he has dreams of Padilla standing in front of him with his arm missing. Seventy per cent of the bombs dropped in Afghanistan are dropped in and around the Korengal Valley. Battle Company is taking the most contact of the battalion, and the battalion is taking the most contact – by far – of any in the US military. Nearly a fifth of the combat experienced by the 70,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan is being fought by the 150 men of Battle Company.

To be proud and inaccessible is to be timid and weak. --Jean Baptiste Masillon

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