Magic Numbers in Politics

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Thomas Sowell

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, two Russian economists who had never lived in a country with a free market economy understood something about market economies that many others who have lived in such economies all their lives have never understood. Nikolai Shmelev and Vladimir Popov said: “Everything is interconnected in the world of prices, so that the smallest change in one element is passed along the chain to millions of others.”

What does that mean? It means that a huge increase in the demand for ice cream can mean higher prices for catchers’ mitts, among other things.

When more cows are needed to produce more milk to make ice cream, then fewer cows will be slaughtered and that means less cowhide available to make baseball gloves. Supply and demand mean that catchers’ mitts are going to cost more.

While this may be easy enough to understand, its implications are completely lost on many people in politics and in the media. If everything is connected to everything else in a market economy, then it makes no sense to have laws and policies that declare some given goal to be a “good thing,” without regard to the repercussions, which spread out in all directions, like waves that spread across a pond when you drop a rock in the water.

Our current economic meltdown results from the federal government, under both Democrats and Republicans, declaring home ownership to be a “good thing” and treating the percentage of families who own their own home as if it was some sort of magic number that had to be kept growing– without regard to the repercussions on other things.

We are now living with those repercussions, which include the worst unemployment in decades. That is the price we are paying for increasing home ownership from 64 percent to 69 percent.

How did we get from home ownership to 15 million unemployed Americans? By ignoring the fact that there was a reason why only 64 percent of families owned their own home. More people would have liked to be home owners but did not qualify under mortgage lending standards that had been in place for decades. Continued…TownHall.com

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Keep It Simple- What a Republican health-care plan should look like.

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: health care | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Jeffrey H. Anderson

The American people haven’t been shy about expressing their views on health-care reform. In the polls and at public events nationwide, they’ve made it clear that they don’t want a behemoth bill that would fundamentally transform a health-care system that works well for most Americans and which offers a level of care that is largely the envy of the world. But they are also understandably concerned about health care’s rising costs, its lack of portability, and the ten percent of Americans who are uninsured. They want to see these pressing problems be addressed, but in a sensible and moderate way.

The bill proposed by Senator Max Baucus does not answer Americans’ call. The Baucus bill is the real health-care bill, the bill on which the Obama administration is implicitly pinning its hopes. But it defiantly turns a deaf ear to the American people.

Seniors have been quite vocal in their concern that health-care legislation would degrade the quality of Medicare, yet the Baucus bill would gut the popular Medicare Advantage program and would pay for its own huge price-tag primarily through cuts to Medicare and related federal health programs. Seniors won’t relish robbing from Medicare to pay for BaucusCare, especially when Medicare is perhaps already the least fiscally solvent program in the United States. But the Baucus bill treats Medicare as if it were a money tree, providing a steady supply of cash to spend elsewhere.

Americans have said that they want more choice and freedom in health care, yet the Baucus bill would mandate that all Americans buy a government-approved insurance plan and would fine them if they don’t. Americans are weary of the federal government’s profligate spending and intrusiveness, yet the Baucus bill is full of Byzantine regulations that only a lawyer could love, and–according to the Congressional Budget Office–it would cost a mind-boggling $2.9 trillion over 20 years while increasing taxes by $2.0 trillion over that same span.

Furthermore, Americans want insurance to be more affordable. Yet the Baucus bill’s requirement that insurers cover all comers–at the same price, at any time–would lead millions to pay the government its fine (still much less than the cost of a premium), quit carrying insurance year-round, and repurchase it only when the immediate need arises. Everyone else’s insurance premiums would skyrocket.

The American people don’t want any of this. They don’t want a huge bill. Instead, they want a small bill that addresses their central concerns without opening the door to far greater..

Read more at the Weekly Standard.com

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President Obama’s Porpoise Show

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Obama | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Harold Witkov

When I was in elementary school back in the early 1960’s, I remember my entire 5th grade class going on a fun field trip to Brookfield Zoo.  The highlight of the trip was something that had only come recently to the zoo, and that was the Porpoise Show.

I remember the Porpoise Show audience being virtually all teachers and students, and the whole lot of us sitting together shoulder to shoulder like sardines in a can. I remember the porpoise tricks, the leaps, the playing with the ball, and the intentional and playful splashing, all to the delight of the crowd. Most of all, I remember studying the trainer with his voice commands and hand signals to the porpoises awaiting instruction.  I remember the trainer’s nearby bucket and the fish chunk rewards he liberally doled out to each porpoise after every trick.  “How cool to be a porpoise trainer,” I thought.

When the show was over the crowd filed out, passing near the edge of the pool. As fate would have it, I was able to get the attention of one of the porpoises. I raised my right hand to shoulder height and, pretending I had a piece of fish between my closed fingers, I began a horizontal zigzag motion with my wrist.  To my shock and astonishment, the porpoise began vertically rising out of the water.  With my classmates screaming and my teacher turning menacingly to see whom it was causing the commotion, I lowered my hand down by my side as quickly as I could and the porpoise correspondingly dropped in the water.

The excitement was over as fast as it had begun.  But what I remember most of the incident was the porpoise watching me as I filed out of the complex with the rest of my classmates.  I could swear that porpoise was giving me the dirtiest of looks for not having tossed him his duly earned fish chunk.

Looking back at my experience, I see it as a type of metaphor for today’s political situation.  I see the porpoise trainer as President Barack Obama, the audience representing the world, and the porpoises in the pool as the American people.

Plucked from the freedom of some vast ocean and to the cheers and delight of the world, President Barack Obama is taking away our liberties and training us to be world pleasers, rather than world leaders. Look how entertaining we can be with every trick he gets us to perform.  Through his techniques of behavior modification, look how he weakens our military, takes over our banks, our auto companies, and before you know it, our health care! Watch us jump through his hoops and make a big splash. Do what he says and get your fresh stimulus fish chunk handouts. Be careful though. If you do not perform to his liking or choose to cause trouble, you might just go without. 

Read the rest at The American Thinker.com

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Obama WH falsely downplaying risks of retreat in Afghanistan: Military, intel sources

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

by Ed Morrissey

Sources within both the intelligence and military communities tell McClatchy that Barack Obama’s White House has not been honest about the risks of moving away from a robust strategy of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.  Obama and his advisers have begun publicly discussing the Taliban as a moderate alternative to al-Qaeda in terms of enemies, but the latest intelligence shows just the opposite.  Taliban leadership and AQ have integrated even more tightly than ever since 9/11 and act in concert on strategy and tactics:

As the Obama administration reconsiders its Afghanistan policy, White House officials are minimizing warnings from the intelligence community, the military and the State Department about the risks of adopting a limited strategy focused on al Qaida, U.S. intelligence, diplomatic and military officials told McClatchy.

Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have found that the Taliban and other Pakistan-based groups that are fighting U.S.-led forces have much closer ties to al Qaida now than they did before 9/11, would allow the terrorist network to re-establish bases in Afghanistan and would help Osama bin Laden export his radical brand of Islam to Afghanistan’s neighbors and beyond, the officials said.

McClatchy interviewed more than 15 senior and mid-level U.S. intelligence, military and diplomatic officials, all of whom said they concurred with the assessments. All of them requested anonymity because the assessments are classified and the officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Bob Kerrey openly wonders why the White House has begun to tread the ground of retreat, in an op-ed for today’s Wall Street Journal:

Yet despite these setbacks, our leaders must remain focused on the fact that success in Afghanistan bolsters our national security and yes, our moral reputation. This war is not Vietnam. The Taliban are not popular and have very little support other than what they secure through terror.

Afghanistan is also not Iraq. No serious leader in Kabul is asking us to leave. Instead we are being asked to withdraw by American leaders who begin their analysis with the presumption that victory is not possible. They seem to want to ensure defeat by leaving at the very moment when our military leader on the ground has laid out a coherent and compelling strategy for victory.

When it comes to foreign policy, almost nothing matters more then your friends and your enemies knowing you will keep your word and follow through on your commitments. This is the real test of presidential leadership. I hope that President Obama—soon to be a Nobel laureate—passes with flying colors

Read the rest at HotAir.com

 

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Congress’ Secret Plan to Pass Obamacare – CONFIRMED

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

Leaders in the House and Senate have a plan to pass President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care plan by Thanksgiving without any significant participation by the American public. CNS News has confirmed the details in our September 22nd titled “Passing a Shell of A Bill: Congress’ Secret Plan to Ram Through Health Care Reform.” Nicholas Ballasy reports “a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told CNSNews.com that it is ‘likely’ that Reid will use H.R. 1586—a bill passed by the House in March to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses paid to employees of certain bailed-out financial institutions—as a ‘shell’ for enacting the final version of the Senate’s health care bill, which Reid is responsible for crafting.”

This story confirms the four part scenario that would railroad the bill through the Senate using a very unusual closed door procedure to craft the bill with no input from the American people.

The four stage plan to pass Obamacare has been publicly confirmed and is ready to be implemented. The following is a comprehensive update:

Step One: “The Senate Finance Committee will finish work on the marking up of Senator Max Baucus’ (D-MT) conceptual framework for legislation by this Friday.” Progress on this had been stalled and the bill was not passed by the end of last week. Foxnews.com is reporting that the Congressional Budget Office score of the bill will be released later today and a high score may further stall progress on the Committee’s Vapor Bill.  Senate Finance Committee’s progress on passing something out of committee – INCOMPLETE

Congress’ Secret Plan to Pass Obamacare – CONFIRMED

Leaders in the House and Senate have a plan to pass President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care plan by Thanksgiving without any significant participation by the American public. CNS News has confirmed the details in our September 22nd titled “Passing a Shell of A Bill: Congress’ Secret Plan to Ram Through Health Care Reform.” Nicholas Ballasy reports “a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told CNSNews.com that it is ‘likely’ that Reid will use H.R. 1586—a bill passed by the House in March to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses paid to employees of certain bailed-out financial institutions—as a ‘shell’ for enacting the final version of the Senate’s health care bill, which Reid is responsible for crafting.”

This story confirms the four part scenario that would railroad the bill through the Senate using a very unusual closed door procedure to craft the bill with no input from the American people.

The four stage plan to pass Obamacare has been publicly confirmed and is ready to be implemented. The following is a comprehensive update:

Step One: “The Senate Finance Committee will finish work on the marking up of Senator Max Baucus’ (D-MT) conceptual framework for legislation by this Friday.” Progress on this had been stalled and the bill was not passed by the end of last week. Foxnews.com is reporting that the Congressional Budget Office score of the bill will be released later today and a high score may further stall progress on the Committee’s Vapor Bill.  Senate Finance Committee’s progress on passing something out of committee – INCOMPLETE.

Step Two: Next, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will take the final product of the Senate Finance Committee and merge it with the product of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. CNSnews.com has confirmed that “the actual final text of the legislation will be determined by Reid himself, who will consolidate the legislation approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the still-unapproved legislation from the Senate Finance Committee. Reid will be able to draft and insert textual language that was not expressly approved by either committee.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will write the final version of Obamacare to be considered in the Senate with no input from the American people. This is an extremely complex procedure that will not be done in public, or in the form of a hearing, or a public conference committee, and only Senator Harry Reid, some other Senators chosen by Reid and Obama Administration officials will be allowed to read the bill before the Senate debate starts. Merger of the bills – IN PROGRESS.

Read the rest Blog. Heritage.org

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ACORN Paycheck Aside, Patrick Gaspard is a Radical

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Kyle Olson

Several days ago, Capital Research Center’s Matthew Vadum published research here indicating an ACORN alumni in the White House (other than the president): Political Director Patrick Gaspard.  As I did three weeks prior at ACORNcracked.com, Matthew used a Wade Rathke blog as the source, which Rathke, the founder of ACORN,  immediately changed after Vadum’s report, citing “memory tricks.”  Politico led the way in poo-pooing the connection once Rathke played cover-up.

Rathke said it not only on his blog, but also at a book signing in New Orleans, which was recently covered in the Fox News Special: The Truth About ACORN.”  While we attended that book signing and were not able to get that portion on tape, the Fox documentary crew did.  Sadly, the remarks apparently ended up on the cutting room floor.

The fact is, Patrick Gaspard, Obama’s “Glue Man,” is more important than Van Jones ever hoped of being.  The fact is, one of the most critical and influential jobs in a White House, the Director of Political Affairs, is occupied by a former SEIU health care lobbyist and ACORN organizer.  To be exact, he was Executive Vice President–the #2–at SEIU 1199 in New York City.

After Gaspard was appointed to the White House, Carribbean Voice quoted him as saying, “I grew up in 1199…and I will always be an 1199er wherever I am.”  SEIU’s luxury is that now taxpayers are paying for it.

 

Wade Rathke, current organizer with SEIU Local 100 (in New Orleans) and ACORN International (now “Community Organizations International”), called Gaspard a “great friend” on his ChiefOrganizer.org blog. Additionally, Rathke theorized how Gaspard was likely instrumental in working with SEIU to bring “big health care operators” to the table.  [Figuring once scrutiny came to someone high-level in the White House, the evidence would be changed, we turned Rathke’s blog posting into a PDF.]

That is curious, given the Obama Transition team’s pledge that Gaspard would refrain from issues he had lobbied previously.  According to the Washington Post, a transition spokesman said, “Patrick and Mark [Gitenstein] have jobs on the campaign that are general in nature, but per the unprecedented ethics policy laid out earlier this week they will recuse themselves from the fields of policy or agencies they lobbied in the previous 12 months.”

So we are to believe the Political Director of the White House—one of the most important players in the administration—is sitting on his hands while Obama attempts to salvage his biggest “reform” yet, and likely ever?  Ethics schmethics.

When Sean Bell was shot by New York City police in 2007, Al Sharpton reached out to Patrick Gaspard (while he was at SEIU 1199) to formulate a response.  According to Politicker NY, “In December 2006, Mr. Sharpton asked Patrick Gaspard to help him assemble an emergency meeting of about 300 activists, black nationalists, union and political leaders to decide on an appropriate response to the police shooting…”

Sharpton used the SEIU 1199 office to hold a protest organizational meeting.  According to The Observer, the union was represented by Gaspard at the meeting.

The People’s Organization for Progress, along with the New Black Panther Party, organized protests against the New York City police department, carrying signs saying such things as “KILL THE PIGS THAT KILL OUR KIDS.”

Read the rest at Big Government.com

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The Noble ‘Sacrifice’ Of Michelle Obama

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

By Michelle Malkin

It’s hard out there for a first lady of the United States. Take it from travel-weary Michelle Obama. On Tuesday night, she boarded a luxury 757 for Copenhagen. Think of the stairs she had to climb. Oh, the agony of the feet!

Upon arrival, Mrs. O, her “chit-chat buddy,” Chicago-based talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey, and Chicago powerbroker/interest-conflicted real estate mogul/senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett immediately embarked on a grueling, grip-and-grin campaign to secure the Olympics for their hometown. Our smile muscles ache in sympathy.

You will be comforted to know that the gracious FLOTUS feels your pain for her pain. “As much of a sacrifice as people say this is for me or Oprah or the president to come for these few days,” the first lady told a group of fellow Chicago 2016 boosters, “so many of you in this room have been working for years to bring this bid home.” Translation: Thank me, thank you, for all we do.

Never has self-congratulatory gratitude been raised to such an art form, but there was no time for loyal subjects to dwell. The selflessly indefatigable Michelle Obama had to rush off for an 800-meter wine-and-cheese dash with International Olympic Committee members, followed by a rigorous aerobic Heads of State luncheon hosted by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and another high-heeled trek to the IOC Opening Ceremony at the Copenhagen Opera House.

Of course, it’s not entirely clear which “people” out there are saying that the Obamas’ jaunt to Denmark is a “sacrifice.”

Certainly not the families of the 43 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have died in Afghanistan since Gen. Stanley McChrystal called for more reinforcements.

Certainly not the families of the nearly 40 children and teens in Chicago who lost their lives on the out-of-control streets of the Windy City so far this year.

The first lady’s slip of self-absorption reminds me of a useful passage in Washington Post writer Liza Mundy’s biography of Mrs. Obama. After graduating from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, the bitterly oppressed Michelle Obama headed back to her native Chicago to join the high-powered law firm of Sidley Austin — the ninth largest in the world. There, Mundy’s book reported, the future first lady griped about having to do the duties of a second-year associate while she was a second-year associate — demonstrating the trademark attitude of entitlement and inflated ego that led the law partner who recruited her to later describe her as “perennially dissatisfied.”

Doing her first job was a burden then. Enjoying the perks of her current job is a “sacrifice” now.

Read the rest of Michelle Malkin on GOPUSA

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ACORN Hired People ‘Still In Prison’ Convicted of Identity Theft For Canvassing Voters

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , |

by Jim Hoft

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, a democrat, told Eric Shawn on FOX News that ACORN was hiring convicts still in prison -CONVICTED OF IDENTITY THEFT- for canvassing voters.

Ross said that by executing a search warrant at ACORN headquarters in Nevada the authorities were able to substantiate charges and have a very solid case against ACORN. They believe they can prove that it’s not just a few bad apples it went much higher up in the organization. Ross believes that ACORN and the regional director should be held accountable for the criminal activity that took place in the state.

Ross told FOX News that they found prisoners on the ACORN payroll:

Ross Miller: Obviously we believed that it went much higher on the food chain. That ACORN had a quota system in place and they were paying individuals this black jack. That encourages voter registration fraud and that is why it is important that we go after them and charge them criminally and try to obtain a conviction. They constantly say we have a bad apple. We have a bad a bad employee like most people do. Clearly that’s not the case. This is an organization that came to Nevada and hired people that were still in prison convicted of identity theft that were on work release programs for canvassing voters.

Eric Shawn: Wait a minute… Hired people that were still in prison?

Ross Miller: Correct. There’s a transitional housing facility, Casa Grande, down there. ACORN approached them. They hired individuals that were still in prison. Some of them were convicted of serious offenses, identity theft. A violation of state law that these inmates should not have had contact with people’s personal information. Those were the individuals that were our canvassing people.

See the Video at Big Government.com

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Obama’s Adviser: Afghanistan Not In Imminent Danger of Falling to Taliban

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

Retired Gen. James Jones made the comments on the same day eight U.S. soldiers were killed near the Pakistan border and as many as seven Afghan forces in one of the fiercest battles of the eight-year war.

Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling to the Taliban, President Obama’s national security adviser said Sunday as he downplayed worries that the insurgency could set up a renewed sanctuary for Al Qaeda.

Retired Gen. James Jones made the comments after eight U.S. soldiers were killed near the Pakistan border and as many as seven Afghan forces in one of the fiercest battles of the eight-year war. On Saturday morning, several hundred militant fighters streamed from an Afghan village and a mosque and attacked a pair of remote outposts. 

Jones said the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai must improve and give hope to the people of Afghanistan. He added that he believes the government has a chance to succeed, with the aid of a strong effort by the U.S. to train the Afghan army and police.

“I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban. Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling,” Jones said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“The Al Qaeda presence is very diminished,” he said. “The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.”

Jones’ view differs from that of the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal has called for an infusion of thousands more U.S. troops, saying that insurgents are gaining strength in Afghanistan and that the U.S. is in danger of failing if more forces are not sent to the fight.

Senators appearing on “FOX News Sunday” were divided on whether to send more troops.

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., said he would support a troop increase if it leads to a strong central government and competence Afghan police force.

“But there’s a real question, given the lack of history in that country of a strong central government — it’s riddled by corruption and incompetence today — about whether that ultimate goal is achievable or not,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. said no troop increase would guarantee more violence and instability.

“The one thing I can tell you, if we don’t add more troops, you’re going to see more of what happened yesterday,” he said, referring to the battle that left eight U.S. soldiers dead. “The security situation’s going to get worse. And any hope of better governance is lost, and the Taliban will re-emerge.”

From Fox New.com

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Al Qaeda’s Diminished Role Stirs Afghan Troop Debate

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: military | Tags: , , , , |

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG in Islamabad and SIOBHAN GORMAN in Washington

Since first invading Afghanistan nearly a decade ago, America set one primary goal: Eliminate al Qaeda’s safe haven.

Today, intelligence and military officials say they’ve severely constrained al Qaeda’s ability to operate there and in Pakistan — and that’s reshaping the debate over U.S. strategy in the region.

Hunted by U.S. drones, beset by money problems and finding it tougher to lure young Arabs to the bleak mountains of Pakistan, al Qaeda is seeing its role shrink there and in Afghanistan, according to intelligence reports and Pakistani and U.S. officials. Conversations intercepted by the U.S. show al Qaeda fighters complaining of shortages of weapons, clothing and, in some cases, food. The number of foreign fighters in Afghanistan appears to be declining, U.S. military officials say.

For Arab youths who are al Qaeda’s primary recruits, “it’s not romantic to be cold and hungry and hiding,” said a senior U.S. official in South Asia.

In Washington, the question of Al Qaeda’s strength is at the heart of the debate over whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan. On Saturday, eight American troops and two Afghan soldiers were killed fighting Taliban forces — one of the worst single-day battlefield losses for U.S. forces since the war began.

Opponents of sending more troops prefer a narrower campaign consisting of missile strikes and covert action inside Pakistan, rather than a broader war against the Taliban, the radical Islamist movement that ruled Afghanistan for years and provided a haven to al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden. Their reasoning: The larger threat to America remains al Qaeda, not the Taliban; so, best not to get embroiled in a local war that history suggests may be unwinnable.

Military commanders pressing for extra troops counter that sending more forces could help translate the gains against al Qaeda into a political settlement with less ideologically committed elements of the Taliban. And, they argue, that would improve the odds of stabilizing Afghanistan for the long run.

A key point of contention in President Barack Obama’s review of war strategy is the ability of al Qaeda to reconstitute in Afghanistan. Some officials, including aides to Richard Holbrooke, the U.S.’s special representative to the region, have argued that the Taliban wouldn’t allow al Qaeda to regain its footing inside Afghanistan, since it was the alliance between the two that cost the Taliban their control of the country after Sept. 11.

More in The Wall Street JOurnal

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The deadly siege at Kamdeysh

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Michelle Malkin

This Sunday, keep these troops — and all our men and women serving in uniform — in your thoughts and prayers (via the Washington Post):

Firing rockets and rifles, Taliban militiamen attacked American and Afghan military outposts in a daylong siege on Saturday that killed eight U.S. soldiers and two Afghan security forces in one of the deadliest battles in months, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

The fighting began early Saturday morning and raged throughout the day in a remote region of eastern Afghanistan in Nurestan province, which borders Pakistan. Staging their attack from steep mountainsides that overlook the outposts in the valley below, on a morning when weather made visibility poor, the Taliban fighters attacked the small American and Afghan bases using rifles, machine guns, grenades and rockets, according to U.S. military officials.

By Sunday morning, when the U.S. military made the attack public in a statement, the area was “largely secure but I do think there is still some activity,” said Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, a U.S. military spokeswoman.

In addition to the eight soldiers killed, several others were injured, Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, but he did not specify the number. The American soldiers called in ground reinforcements, along with attack helicopter, airplanes and surveillance drones during the fighting. U.S. forces eventually repelled the attack while inflicting “a significant amount of casualties” on insurgents, Smith said.

Due to the “very challenging terrain,” the insurgents had “pretty effective firing positions,” Smith said. “It was obviously a very, very difficult day.”

…The U.S. military said it was not immediately clear how many insurgents were involved in the fighting. The attack involved Taliban fighters and appeared to be led by a local commander of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin insurgent group, which is run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former mujaheddin leader during the Soviet war in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

The attack took place in a sparsely populated area of forested mountains near the town of Kamdeysh. The deputy police chief of Nurestan province, Mohammad Farouq, said the insurgents intended to seize control of the Kamdeysh area and that hundreds took part in the fighting. He said more than 20 Afghan soldiers and police have gone missing since the fighting began and may have been taken hostage.

***

Thanks to all of you who gave generously to Lt. Daniel Cnossen’s support fund last week. Lt. Cnossen lost both legs while on a mission in Kandahar and is recovering at NNMC Bethesda — where he recently received both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for Valor. I heard from LT Brian Ray, his best friend and website administrator, who e-mailed that “directly through your link we were able to raise enough money to move Dan’s mom and sister into an apartment to be near him during his recovery.”

A reminder that you can contribute right here. Michele Malkin

Posted in: Afghanistan
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The Biden Plan

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: military | Tags: , , , , , |

The Biden Plan

NYT:

WASHINGTON — President Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday

Among the alternatives being presented to Mr. Obama is Mr. Biden’s suggestion to revamp the strategy altogether. Instead of increasing troops, officials said, Mr. Biden proposed scaling back the overall American military presence. Rather than trying to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban, American forces would concentrate on strikes against Qaeda cells, primarily in Pakistan, using special forces, Predator missile attacks and other surgical tactics.

The Americans would accelerate training of Afghan forces and provide support as they took the lead against the Taliban. But the emphasis would shift to Pakistan. Mr. Biden has often said that the United States spends something like $30 in Afghanistan for every $1 in Pakistan, even though in his view the main threat to American national security interests is in Pakistan.

Mr. Obama rejected Mr. Biden’s approach in March, and it is not clear that it has more traction this time. But the fact that it is on the table again speaks to the breadth of the administration’s review and the evolving views inside the White House of what has worked in the region and what has not. In recent days, officials have expressed satisfaction with the results of their cooperation with Pakistan in hunting down Qaeda figures in the unforgiving border lands.

A shift from a counterinsurgency strategy to a focus on counterterrorism would turn the administration’s current theory on its head. The strategy Mr. Obama adopted in March concluded that to defeat Al Qaeda, the United States needed to keep the Taliban from returning to power in Afghanistan and making it a haven once again for Osama bin Laden’s network. Mr. Biden’s position questions that assumption.

Mrs. Clinton, who opposed Mr. Biden in March, appeared to refer to this debate in an interview on Monday night on PBS. “Some people say, ‘Well, Al Qaeda’s no longer in Afghanistan,’ ” she said. “If Afghanistan were taken over by the Taliban, I can’t tell you how fast Al Qaeda would be back in Afghanistan.”

Read the rest @www.JulesCrittenden.com  Forward Movement-

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Opposition to Health Care Reform Grows

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

FOX News Poll: Opposition to Health Care Reform Grows

A majority of Americans oppose current health care legislation and think the plans being considered cost too much, give too much power to Washington and take decisions away from them and their doctors.

As Congress takes action on health care reform, public opinion on the issue remains divided and, at times, contradictory. The latest FOX News poll shows a decline in support for health care reform over the past two weeks.

Currently, one-third favors the legislation being considered (33 percent) and a slight majority (53 percent) opposes it. This compares to 38 percent favoring and 48 percent opposing the legislation two weeks ago (15-16 September 2009).

Americans are split along party lines in their support of health reform. A majority of Democrats favors the legislation (60 percent) while a large majority of Republicans opposes it (85 percent). Independents, an important swing group, are more likely to oppose health reform than favor it (57 percent oppose and 27 percent favor).

Click here to see the poll.

The poll was conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corp. from September 29 to September 30 for FOX News among 900 registered voters. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

Americans’ beliefs about what would happen if health care reform legislation were to pass sheds light on why opposition may be growing. Majorities agree the plans being considered cost too much money (62 percent), give too much power to Washington (60 percent) and take decision-making away from them and their doctor (54 percent).

This last number is particularly important. The failure of President Clinton’s attempt at health care reform is often attributed to the public’s belief that it would lead to a loss of personal control over health care decisions.

However, while Americans are concerned about what will happen to their own health care if reform passes, they are also concerned about what will happen to others if reform does not pass. Three out of four are concerned that Congress will pass reform legislation that is bad for them and their family (49 percent very concerned and 25 percent somewhat concerned).

At the same time, a large majority (70 percent) is concerned that if Congress fails to pass health reform, many Americans will be left without insurance (41 percent very concerned and 29 percent somewhat concerned).

A majority of Americans are also willing to pay more for their health insurance in order to provide insurance for all Americans (60 percent). Just over one in three would pay $100 more per year (35 percent), while about one in five would pay $500 or more (25 percent). One-third of Americans (33 percent) volunteer the fact that they would pay nothing extra.

Click here for the raw data.

Tami Buhr is a senior project manager at Opinion Dynamics Corporation Fox News.com

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Does Obama Have a Republican Problem?

Posted on September 30, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , |

We all know that President Obama has a Republican problem, namely the 200 or so Republican members of Congress who refuse to go along with his health care reform plans. However, I think he might also be developing a republican problem. Namely, I think he is having trouble keeping his ego within the boundaries of an office that fundamentally reflects the republican quality of this country.

It is difficult to nail down precisely what “republicanism” means. It has had different meanings in different places at different times. In the United States, it conjures up the notion of self-government: the people are capable of ruling themselves, and the authority of the leaders derives from the consent of the governed, rather than some aristocratic pedigree or superior position in life.

The evidence of American republicanism is all around us. Consider, for instance, the title of address for the President of the United States. Originally, Federalists like John Adams desired a grand title, something like “His Highness.” However, the simple phrase “Mr. President” was ultimately adopted.

Read the rest By Jay Cost –  From Real Clear Politics

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