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August 31, 2009

Everything You Wanted to Know About Why Government Health Care is a Rotten Idea


Via NRO. Enjoy!

Posted by Tom at 9:42 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 29, 2009

The Obama - Holder War on the CIA II

No time for a full post with my own analysis, but there are several good articles out there that deserve mention, and they say it all themselves anyway.

First up is Dr. Krauthammer who approaches the subject of terrorist interrogations with uncommon common sense:

The idiocy of imagining that if you capture Aymen al-Zahiri, one of the cruelest terrorists in world history, you would actually think of saying to him . . . that he doesn't have to actually tell you anything, is insane. Of course he doesn't have a right to remain silent. This man barely has a right to live. You capture him, you make him talk.

Bingo. Let the ACLU and lefties whine.

Krauthammer goes on to say that this doesn't mean that we adopt an "anything goes" interrogation-wise, but if we read him his Miranda rights we are guaranteed to learn nothing.

For those under the delusion that the CIA was a rogue outfit under the Bush-Cheney neocon regime torturing people at will, the The Wall Street Journal sets the record straight:

Whoever advised people to be skeptical of what they read in the papers must have had in mind this week's coverage of the documents about CIA interrogations. Now that we've had a chance to read the reports, it's clear the real story isn't the few cases of abuse played up by the media. The news is that the program was thoughtfully developed, carefully circumscribed, briefed to Congress, and yielded information crucial to disrupting al Qaeda.

In other words, it worked--at least until politics got in the way.

That's the essential judgment offered by former CIA Inspector General John Helgerson in his 2004 report. Some mild criticism aside, the report says the CIA "invested immense time and effort to implement the [program] quickly, effectively, and within the law"; that the agency "generally provided good guidance and support"; and that agency personnel largely "followed guidance and procedures and documented their activities well." So where's the scandal?

There isn't one. President Obama and Attorney General are out to appease the nutbag left. As the WSJ editorial goes on to conclude

CIA officials well understood that they might be second-guessed years later by politicians. "During the course of this review, a number of Agency officers expressed unsolicited concern about the possibility of recrimination or legal action resulting from their participation. . . . officers expressed concern that a human rights group might pursue them for activities . . . they feared that the Agency would not stand behind them." Another said, "Ten years from now we're going to be sorry we're doing this . . . [but] it has to be done."

The outrage here isn't that government officials used sometimes rough interrogation methods to break our enemies. The outrage is that, years later, when the political winds have shifted and there hasn't been another attack, our politicians would punish the men and women who did their best to protect Americans in a time of peril.

Or is that all there is to it? Former assistant US. attorney and author Andrew McCarthy thinks that Eric Holder is pursuing a hidden agenda of transnationalism

Why is Holder (or, rather, why are Holder and the White House) instigating this controversy?

I believe the explanation lies in the Obama administration's fondness for transnationalism, a doctrine of post-sovereign globalism in which America is seen as owing its principal allegiance to the international legal order rather than to our own Constitution and national interests.

Recall that the president chose to install former Yale Law School dean Harold Koh as his State Department's legal adviser. Koh is the country's leading proponent of transnationalism. He is now a major player in the administration's deliberations over international law and cooperation. Naturally, membership in the International Criminal Court, which the United States has resisted joining, is high on Koh's agenda. The ICC claims worldwide jurisdiction, even over nations that do not ratify its enabling treaty, notwithstanding that sovereign consent to jurisdiction is a bedrock principle of international law....

Obama and Holder were principal advocates for a "reckoning" against Bush officials during the 2008 campaign. They realize, though, that their administration would be mortally wounded if Justice were actually to file formal charges -- this week's announcement of an investigation against the CIA provoked howls, but that's nothing compared to the public reaction indictments would cause. Nevertheless, Obama and Holder are under intense pressure from the hard Left, to which they made reckless promises, and from the international community they embrace.

The way out of this dilemma is clear. Though it won't file indictments against the CIA agents and Bush officials it is probing, the Justice Department will continue conducting investigations and releasing reports containing new disclosures of information. The churn of new disclosures will be used by lawyers for the detainees to continue pressing the U.N. and the Europeans to file charges. The European nations and/or international tribunals will make formal requests to the Obama administration to have the Justice Department assist them in securing evidence. Holder will piously announce that the "rule of law" requires him to cooperate with these "lawful requests" from "appropriately created courts." Finally, the international and/or foreign courts will file criminal charges against American officials.

Foreign charges would result in the issuance of international arrest warrants. They won't be executed in the United States -- even this administration is probably not brazen enough to try that. But the warrants will go out to police agencies all over the world. If the indicted American officials want to travel outside the U.S., they will need to worry about the possibility of arrest, detention, and transfer to third countries for prosecution. Have a look at this 2007 interview of CCR president Michael Ratner. See how he brags that his European gambit is "making the world smaller" for Rumsfeld -- creating a hostile legal climate in which a former U.S. defense secretary may have to avoid, for instance, attending conferences in NATO countries.

The Left will get its reckoning. Obama and Holder will be able to take credit with their supporters for making it happen. But because the administration's allies in the antiwar bar and the international Left will do the dirty work of getting charges filed, the American media will help Obama avoid domestic political accountability. Meanwhile, Americans who sought to protect our nation from barbarians will be harassed and framed as war criminals. And protecting the United States will have become an actionable violation of international law.

I'm betting that's the plan.

He may be right. Obama has so far proven to be far more left wing than most people thought he'd be. It was only those dastardly neocon right-wingers like me who sounded the alarm.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

While wasting precious time and energy going after our intelligence agents, the Obama Administration has quietly dropped the cases against the New Black Panther Party and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

My own congressman, the wonderful Frank Wolf (R-VA10) has been on the forefront of the first case. From a July 31 press release:

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10), the top Republican on the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice, today called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to re-file a voter intimidation case that his department dismissed in May involving members the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia. In a letter to Holder, Wolf said that given growing press reports of improper political influence in the dismissal of the case, and the disclosure of new memos from the department's Appellate Division arguing for proceeding with the case, the only proper action is to allow the career attorneys on the trial team to re-file the case and allow an impartial judge to rule.

"It is imperative that we protect all Americans right to vote," wrote Wolf, who is originally from Philadelphia. "This is a sacrosanct and inalienable right of any democracy. The career attorneys and Appellate Division within the department sought to demonstrate the federal government's commitment to protecting this right by vigorously prosecuting any individual or group that seeks to undermine this right. The only legitimate course of action is to allow the trial team to bring the case again and allow our nation's justice system to work as it was intended - impartially and without bias."

I'm not holding my breath that Holder does anything, but you gotta try, and Rep Wolf is trying.

I haven't been following the Richardson case so don't know details, but it sounds awfully fishy. From an Associated Press story carried by Fox News:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former high-ranking members of his administration won't be criminally charged in a yearlong federal investigation into pay-to-play allegations involving one of the Democratic governor's large political donors, someone familiar with the case said.

The decision not to pursue indictments was made by top Justice Department officials, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because federal officials had not disclosed results of the probe.

"It's over. There's nothing. It was killed in Washington," the person told The Associated Press....

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Albuquerque said he had no information about the Justice Department's decision and couldn't comment.

Maybe Richardson really is innocent, but the case involving the New Black Panther party is a travesty. What is shows is the priorities of this administration, and they do not involve defending us from the jihadists who would destroy us.

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The Obama - Holder War on the CIA

Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 26, 2009

The Obama - Holder War on the CIA

Here we go, folks; Obama and Holder have decided to go to war on our own intelligence services. Get ready for 9-11 Part II, because it's going to come. The jihadists can read the newspapers and they know that if their agents are caught they're much less likely now to reveal secret information, thus compromising operations, than when George W. Bush was in office. As such, no doubt they're licking their chops with glee, dusting off old plans that had been shelved for years.

The lefties are happy too. They've always seen the United States as the real enemy, and "this terror-jihadist thing" as a fiction invented by the Bush Administration to take away our civil liberties. Not that this is anything new for them. Having observed the left from the late 1970s on, I know how they thought much the same thing about the Soviet-led communist threat. They shows their true colors with the distain they showed for Reagan's attempt to root out communism in Central America. Che tee shirts are still all the rage for this outfit.

Here's the summary of what's happening from Fox News

After months of consideration, Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday appointed a special prosecutor to examine allegations that terror suspects were abused at the hands of their CIA interrogators.

The highly controversial decision comes as the Department of Justice released a 2004 report from the CIA's inspector general detailing allegations of harsh interrogation practices -- which Holder cited in his decision.

"As a result of my analysis of all of this material, I have concluded that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations," Holder said in a written statement Monday.

If you prefer your news via TV here's that, too

As anyone might have predicted, this move by the Obama Administration has "increased tension between the agencies and prompted a sense of betrayal among some CIA officers." No doubt that'll make the lefties feel happy too.

As is often the case the Wall Street Journal has the politics of it right

Mr. Holder had it right the first time. His about-face yesterday, compounded by his release of a 2004 internal CIA report on that agency's handling of terrorists, opens a political war that President Obama, the CIA and above all the country will live to regret.

This is a trap the Administration set for itself. Mr. Obama and his team have attempted to appease their political left by publicly denouncing the Bush Administration's national security policies, even as they claimed to want to forget the past. Their disparagement has only fed the liberal demand for Bush prosecutions and increased the pressure on Mr. Holder to appoint a prosecutor....

By threatening to prosecute CIA officials, the Obama Administration is taking ownership of future troubles in a way that will only do itself harm. Like the Church and Pike probes of the 1970s, Americans will once again see that the Democratic Party cares as much or more about settling scores against fellow Americans as it does about fighting the war on terror. Mr. Holder yesterday acknowledged that his decision to reopen the old CIA wounds would be "controversial." He will soon learn how much.

Yup. This whole thing is mostly a move to appease the hate-America left, just as I outlined above.

Liberals needn't get their panties in a wad, though. While I'm ok with waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a few others, and I'm also fine with the "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" there's no doubt that at times CIA agents went too far. Threats of using a power drill and retaliation against family members violated the agencies own standards. But guess what the CIA did? Current Director of Central Intelligence Panetta explains in a letter released on Monday:

The CIA referred allegations of abuse to the Department of Justice for potential prosecution. This Agency made no excuses for behavior, however rare, that went beyond the formal guidelines on counterterrorism. The Department of Justice has had the complete IG report since 2004. Its career prosecutors have examined that document-and other incidents from Iraq and Afghanistan-for legal accountability. They worked carefully and thoroughly, sometimes taking years to decide if prosecution was warranted or not. In one case, the Department obtained a criminal conviction of a CIA contractor. In other instances, after Justice chose not to pursue action in court, the Agency took disciplinary steps of its own.

So the situation was taken care of and there's no need for a special prosecutor who will only give our enemies aid and comfort through the glee of watching a politially motivated investigation.

Although the president is in hiding in Martha's Vineyard, no doubt trying to avoid taking responsibility for the announcement of a special prosecutor in case the whole thing backfires, the fact is that Obama has been planning this since at least 2007.

The only "good guy" in this administration seems to be Leon Panetta:

A "profanity-laced screaming match" at the White House involving CIA Director Leon Panetta, and the expected release today of another damning internal investigation, has administration officials worrying about the direction of its newly-appoint intelligence team, current and former senior intelligence officials tell ABC News.com...

According to intelligence officials, Panetta erupted in a tirade last month during a meeting with a senior White House staff member. Panetta was reportedly upset over plans by Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation of allegations that CIA officers broke the law in carrying out certain interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed "torture."

Good for him. Panetta may be a partisan Democrat and a liberal, at least on domestic issues, but he knows that this investigation will do lasting harm to our national security. At least someone has their head screwed on straight in this administration.

Our New Fifth Column

If Attorney General Holder really wants someone or something to go after, how about a special prosecutor to< investigate the ACLU? Michelle Malkin has the story:

Last week, The Washington Post reported on a Justice Department inquiry into photographs of undercover CIA officials and other intelligence personnel taken by ACLU-sponsored researchers assisting the defense team of Guantanamo detainees. According to the report, the pictures of covert CIA officers -- "in some cases surreptitiously taken outside their homes" -- were shown to jihadi suspects tied to the 9/11 attacks in order to identify the interrogators.

The ACLU undertook the so-called "John Adams Project" with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers -- last seen crusading for convicted jihadi assistant Lynne Stewart. (She's the far-left lawyer who helped sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, convicted 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind, smuggle coded messages of violence to outside followers.)

Working from a witch-hunt list of 45 CIA employees, the ACLU team tailed and photographed agency employees or obtained other photos from public records. Then they showed the images to suspected al Qaeda operatives implicated in murdering 3,000 innocent men, women and children on American soil.

But no doubt this will be celebrated by the left.

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"Obama Administration's Assault on the American Warrior Commences"

The release of the CIA memos

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Edward M Kennedy, 1932 - 2009


Ted Kennedy

Using the justification of "never speak ill of the dead" I'll keep this post short. Love him or hate him, Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932 - August 25, 2009) was the most important legislator of late 20th century America. He got more legislation passed that has changed our country more, than any other single person.

It is really for this that he is so vilified on the right. During the 2004 election it came out that fellow Massachusetts Senator John Kerry had a more liberal voting record than did Kennedy. This was met with no small amount of surprise, as being more liberal than Kennedy was a pretty touch accomplishment. But the reason we were so surprised is that Kerry had virtually no legislative accomplishments under his belt despite having been in the Senate since 1985.

As for me, I think most of what Ted Kennedy did was very harmful to the United States. His advocates will reply that he "helped" the poor and downtrodden, and in a limited sense he did. But his legislation.... ah but I'm violating the pledge I took at the start so I'll stop.

Politics aside, Kennedy was a Christian and in the end that's all that matters. His family is in my prayers.

Posted by Tom at 7:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 24, 2009

The Glenn Beck Boycott and Whole Foods

So in addition to boycotting Fox News in general the left has taken after radio talk show host and Fox News host Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck returns to Fox News Channel on Monday after a vacation with fewer companies willing to advertise on his show than when he left, part of the fallout from calling President Barack Obama a racist.

A total of 33 Fox advertisers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., CVS Caremark, Clorox and Sprint, directed that their commercials not air on Beck's show, according to the companies and ColorofChange.org, a group that promotes political action among blacks and launched a campaign to get advertisers to abandon him. That's more than a dozen more than were identified a week ago....

e was actually on another Fox show July 28 when he referred to Obama as a racist with "a deep-seated hatred for white people." The network immediately distanced itself from Beck's statement, but Beck didn't. He used his radio show the next day to explain why he believed that. He would not comment for this article, spokesman Matthew Hiltzik said.

ColorofChange.org quickly targeted companies whose ads had appeared during Beck's show, telling them what he had said and seeking a commitment to drop him. The goal is to make Beck a liability, said James Rucker, the organization's executive director.

"They have a toxic asset," Rucker said. "They can either clean it up or get rid of it."

The insane hypocrisy of the left knows no bounds.

Whether Beck's comment was over the top of not is not the issue. I disagree and I don't think Obama is a racist, but he certainly has no problem associating with anti-white and anti-Semitic racists. He did, after all attend Trinity United for 20 years, all the while admiring Jeremiah Wright, and only left when it became politically expedient to do so.

After almost decade of listening to "Selected, not Elected, "Bush lied, people died, "impeach Bush," "Bushitler," "Chimpy McHitler," and about a zillion other comparisons of George W Bush to Hitler and Republicans to Nazis, I am in no mood to sit back and listen to liberals whine about something a radio and TV talk show host said.

Here we have Keith Olbermann call Bush and Republicans Fascists, and the anti-religious hatemonger Bill Maher spewing his venom, all the while egged on by the left, and I'm supposed to be upset about Glenn Beck? Please. Given all that we on the right have had to put up with everyone from Olbermann and Maher to Roseanne Barr and Janeane Garofalo, Beck's comment was about as unremarkable as it gets.

And we all know that the same leftist idiots who want to throw Beck off the air and shut down Fox News would be the first to scream that their First Amendment rights were being violated if the shoe was on the other foot.

So to claim that Beck is so over-the-top that he should be taken off the air is liberal lunacy pure and simply.

Speaking of boycotts, the left is engaged in yet another boycott, that of the trendy leftie Whole Foods chain. Whole Foods founder and CEO had the temerity to - gasp - go against the leftist party line in an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago. Now the lefties are all up in arms and are boycotting his stores.

Andrew Breitbart hits another home run today in his editorial in today's Washington Times, so we'll just quote in in full:

Boycotting the boycotters

Andrew Breitbart

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

John Mackey - the founder, CEO and marketing genius behind Whole Foods - finds himself in an organic, unsustainable mess with his carefully cultivated affluent, liberal customer base after penning an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal titled, "The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare."

For starters, Mr. Mackey opens with a line from known-liberal-allergen Margaret Thatcher that features the dreaded "S" word: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." Then he goes on to provide eight sensible free-market solutions gleaned from his company's well-regarded employee health care program.

Mr. Mackey, a free-market libertarian, is now at the mercy of an unforgiving grass-roots mob intent on destroying his company. More than 25,000 people have signed on to a Whole Foods boycott on Facebook.

"Whole Foods has built its brand with the dollars of deceived progressives," the online petition reads. "Let them know your money will no longer go to support Whole Foods' anti-union, anti-health insurance reform, right-wing activities."

A complementary Web site, WholeBoycott.com, features unintentionally comical video testimonials from aggrieved former customers. The mainstream media have picked up on the story and fanned the flames.

The success of Whole Foods is largely built on Mr. Mackey's understanding of the liberal mind. It wants the good life - but with instant absolution for the sin of conspicuous consumption. Whole Foods is marketing at its best. Iconography and slogans throughout the store - not unlike those Barack Obama used to win the presidency - tell the shopper they are saving the planet in large and small ways.

The product is so good even conservatives and skeptics are willing to play along.

But Mr. Mackey missed the key ingredient of modern liberalism: intolerance to the ideas of nonliberals. And this miscalculation may prove to be devastating to his multibillion-dollar business.

Everywhere one looks these days, the intolerance of self-avowed liberals is on display. Especially since Mr. Obama came to power.

The purportedly open-minded and empathic among us who now run everything - save for NASCAR and Nashville - openly wage war against those who dare disagree.

Witness Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi's joint-penned editorial in USA Today in which the House's two top Democrats describe those publicly questioning Mr. Obama's proposed health care system overhaul as "un-American."

One need not go back too far in the political time machine to recall a time when the same people were claiming that the term "un-American" was being tossed at liberals for opposing the Iraq war, and that Republicans were stifling free speech.

Examples were rarely, if ever, given. It just was. And we were told this was a very, very bad thing.

The Dixie Chicks brilliantly used this sob line to become a Rolling Stone magazine cover staple, a blue-state crossover and an international cause celebre. A chorus line of would-be liberal celebrity martyrs took a similar marketing tack proclaiming McCarthyism was again afoot - as conservative Hollywood kept its collective mouth shut knowing that support for President Bush or the war was an instant career-killer.

Yet amid the cries of "dissent is patriotic" - a phrase seen on the bumper stickers of cars in the Whole Foods parking lot - the antiwar movement grew and grew, unfettered by the war's supporters or by the party in power.

As the Hollywood Left churned out antiwar film screeds, it was creating a narrative of its victimhood as it victimized Mr. Bush and his administration with the false accusation that dissenters were being persecuted. But now that they are in power, Democrats are brazenly wielding punitive weaponry against dissenting Americans and are using the power of the state to shut up citizens.

The Democratic leadership - and its friends in the mainstream media - seem determined to brand opposition to the president's legislative agenda as illegitimate, even racist in origin. Individuals and grass-roots organizations are helping the statists' cause by advocating boycotts and other means of stifling dissent.

The strategy is clear: Intimidate people from speaking up or from attending public protests by telegraphing that anyone can be made a demon for standing up and exercising basic, constitutional rights.

To call these people hypocrites would be a grave insult to those who fail to live up to their own standards. Liberalism has never been about establishing a universal standard. Liberalism is simply intellectual cover for those wanting to gain political power and increase the size of the state.

For free-speech principles to be reinforced and free-market ideas to win the day, more people are going to have to stand up and be heard.

Mrs. Pelosi and the Whole Foods boycotters are on the wrong side of history.

The way to stand up to them is to go to "tea parties," raise a ruckus at health care debates and - buy organic garlic, herb fresh goat cheese and three-bean salad with quinoa at your local Whole Foods store.

This time, you really could be saving the planet.

• Andrew Breitbart is publisher of the news portals Breitbart.com and Breitbart.tv. His latest endeavor, Big Hollywood (http://bighollywood.breitbart.com), is a group blog on Hollywood and politics from the center-right perspective.

Posted by Tom at 9:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 23, 2009

Barack Obama Does Think We're Stupid

Today's Washington Times reports that President Obama used his Saturday weekly radio address to tackle health care reform rumors:

Some of the statements about the pending health care reform are "phony claims meant to divide us," President Obama said Saturday during his weekly radio address....

"It should be an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions, spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are," the president said.

"Lets start with the false claim that illegal immigrants will get health insurance under reform. Thats not true," he said, a few days after his former campaign apparatus now run by the Democratic National Committee started a Web site to combat rumors.

Mr. Obama said the legislation would not establish "death panels" and that nothing will alter the ban on using taxpayer money for abortions.

As National Review editor Rich Lowry said the other day, Obama is counting on the American people to be stupid, because not a single thing he said in his radio address is true.

Illegal Aliens

Obama claims that illegals won't get insurance coverage under this plan. However, Democrats have worked to make sure that no one who applies for the "public option" with have his or her immigration status checked. Republican Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV)offered amendments that "would have enforced income, eligibility, and immigration verification screening." However, all Democrats voted against the amendment.

Get it? Apply for the public option and you won't have your immigration status checked. Obviously, people in the country illegally are going to apply, knowing that their secret is safe. Democrats surely know this. The only plausible reason that they voted against the safeguards is that they secretly want benefits to go to illegals.

Death Panels

President Obama says that "the legislation would not establish "death panels"."

This one is a bit more complicated, and I'm indebted to Mike's America for this

(Obama) insisted that it was an "extraordinary lie" to suggest that there would be "death panels" to decide who gets care and who dies. Sarah Palin has already debunked that nonsense and the Senate acknowledged the problem by removing that provision in their version of the bill. And what's more, we have Obama's own words in an interview he gave to the New York Times on April 28 in which he discussed end of life care:
THE PRESIDENT: So that's where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that's also a huge driver of cost, right?

I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.

Q: So how do you -- how do we deal with it?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that's part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It's not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance. And that's part of what I suspect you'll see emerging out of the various health care conversations that are taking place on the Hill right now.

This one is complicated, but I also think that Andy McCarthy and Mark Steyn have it about right. It's important to understand that no, there won't be panels that decide "A lives and B dies," but that they will decide that "this level of care isn't necessary, and gee, it will also save money." Obama and his Democrats are determined to save money, and they're going to do it by cutting end of life care.

Abortion

The president says that "the legislation would not... alter the ban on using taxpayer money for abortions."

Again, not true. As the AP explains,

Health care legislation before Congress would allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortions, a decision that would affect millions of women and recast federal policy on the divisive issue...

A compromise approved by a House committee last week attempted to balance questions of federal funding, personal choice and the conscience rights of clinicians. It would allow the public plan to cover abortion but without using federal funds, only dollars from beneficiary premiums. Likewise, private plans in the new insurance exchange could opt to cover abortion, but no federal subsidies would be used to pay for the procedure.

"It's a sham," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life. "It's a bookkeeping scheme. The plan pays for abortion, and the government subsidizes the plan."

More from the National Right to Life:

As amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30 (the Capps-Waxman Amendment), the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions. Obama apparently seeks to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government-collected premiums. But these are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies. The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions -- this would not be optional. The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government. These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion. In 2007 Obama explicitly pledged to Planned Parenthood that the public plan will cover abortions (see the video clip here). Some journalists have reported that Obama "backed off" of this commitment in an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, broadcast July 21, but Obama actually carefully avoided stating his intentions -- instead, he simply made an artful observation that "we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care." It is true that there is such a tradition -- which Obama has always opposed, and which the Obama-backed bill would shatter. On August 13, NRLC released a detailed memo explaining the provisions of the pending bills that would affect abortion policy, with citations to primary sources. Many of the "factcheck" articles that have appeared in the news media in recent weeks reflect, at best, unsophisticated understandings of the provisions they purport to be explaining, and also give evidence of a weak understanding of Obama's history on the policy issues involved. The memo is downloadable in PDF format here.

See the trick? The bill doesn't explicity allow for abortions, and technically taxpayer funds don't pay for it. But in the end whether it's a "premium" or a tax it all comes out the same in the end. When asked about it directly,

An Obama administration official refused Sunday to rule out the possibility that federal tax money might be used to pay for abortions under proposed health care legislation.

Peter R. Orszag, the White House budget director, asked whether he was prepared to say that "no taxpayer money will go to pay for abortions," answered: "I am not prepared to say explicitly that right now. It's obviously a controversial issue, and it's one of the questions that is playing out in this debate."

Given the Obama is one of the most pro-abortion politicians in Washington, I think that we can conclude that any public option will cover and pay for abortions.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 20, 2009

Obama Plays the Religion Card on Healthcare

Seeing his cherished healthcare bill going down the drain, President Obama has gotten desperate:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday tried to retake the upper ground in this month's healthcare debate by casting reform as a "moral conviction" in a conference call with religious leaders. "The one thing that you all share is a moral conviction," Obama said. "This debate over healthcare goes to the heart of who we are as American people... This is part of an ethical and moral obligation that we look out for one another.

"In the wealthiest nation on Earth, we are neglecting to live out that call," the president said.

Obama asked religious leaders to help him "spread the truth" about reform, and also took the opportunity to push back against critics...

More than 30 religious groups have banded together to support the Democratic-led reform efforts, including the progressive group Catholics United, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Baptist Convention U.S.A., the National Council of Churches in Christ and the United Church of Christ. The group sponsored Wednesday's call and describes itself on its Web site as "an effort from the faith community to make clear to Congress that quality, affordable health care for every American family is a moral priority for millions of people of faith."

Can you imaging the outcry if George W. Bush had done this?

What's ironic is that it's the liberals who always accuse the conservatives of mixing politics with religion, or of using religion to advance their political agenda. But during the last campaign it wasn't the GOP injecting religion into politics. It was the Democrats.

Consider these two events:

1) In June of 2007 John Edwards, Barak Obama, and Hillary Clinton participated in discussion on an Presidential Forum on Faith, Values and Poverty. The event was hosted by the Sojourners, and was broadcast on CNN (transcript here).

2) Then, in April, then-Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton participated in a "Compassion Forum" at Messiah College in Grantham Pennsylania. Messiah College is a private Christian institution. CNN broadcast the event.

As I said at the time, I was glad to see the Democrats get religion. I think it only common sense that your religious convictions will influence your public policy.

But using religion as your philosophical basis for public policy is different than using organized religion to promote a cause, or from using it to beat up your political opponents, which is what Obama is doing

Victor Davis Hanson has it about right:

There is something creepy about the sudden invocation of Christian morality by the president to galvanize support for his state-run health care plan, as if his opponents are suddenly to be seen as somehow selfish or even un-Christian. This is an unfortunate, counter-productive tactic for at least four reasons:

1) The moral argument comes at the eleventh hour, rather than the first, of public debate, as if it is a desperate fall-back position intended to shame opponents who happen to think that massive state intervention will make health care worse rather than better;

2) Ironically, the religious trope would argue against the entrance of the state that would relieve citizens of their own moral responsibilities to help out family and friends in times of illness. It is no accident that secularism, agnosticism, and atheism are strongest in socialist Europe, where the government has relieved citizens of traditional moral responsibilities emphasized by religion;

3) This contrived use of religiosity (e.g., "There are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness.") has a Reverend Wright flavor of mixing politics and religion in cynical fashion to bolster Obama's fides as an authentic moral figure. And isn't the use of religion as a political tool precisely what Obama and others have objected to in the Christian Right?;

4) Rather than demonize opponents as callous and disingenuous, all the president has to do to refute their supposed scare tactics is to explicitly assure the public that abortion receives no state funds in his program, that illegal aliens are not included in his proposed new blanket coverage, and that autonomous government panels will not withhold federal health-care coverage, in the case of the elderly, on the basis of perceived cost-benefit considerations.

I think we are seeing a sort of presidential meltdown. As Obama's polls free-fall, and threaten wider political damage, it causes him a certain novel exasperation that for the first time in his life soaring hope-and-change rhetoric for some strange reason no longer substitutes for a detailed, logical, and honest agenda. The problem right now is not with un-Christian opponents, but dozens of congressional Democrats who simply do not wish to run on state-run medical care (as well as higher taxes, larger deficits, cap-and-trade, etc.), and no longer sense the president's popularity trumps the unpopularity of his agenda and gives them cover with the voters.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Conservative Idiots Toting Rifles

Of course you've seen this story abut a hundred times:

PHOENIX - About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday -- the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.

Gun-rights advocates say they're exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen.

Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday's event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn't need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.

The man with the rifle declined to be identified but told The Arizona Republic that he was carrying the assault weapon because he could. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms," he said.

You've probably also heard any number of conservative idiots on the radio defending this as "it's perfectly legal!" and "they're just exercising their Second Amendment rights!"

Oh please.

Don't be blinded by partisanship. A grand total of two times some conservative had a gun - legally - at or near an Obama rally, and now every liberal columnist in the country includes this in their editorial denouncing the right. Liberal bloggers are going nuts.

Don't give the other side... ammunition. Carrying a gun near a Democrat rally, or defending those who do so, plays into the worst liberal stereotype of conservatives.

The issue is not whether this is intimidation or a veiled death threat, or racism, or militia members in disguise, or whatever. Any reasonable person could see this as intimidation.

I've been a member of the NRA for at least 20 years, own several guns including an AR-15, and am quite vociferous in defending our gun rights, do don't give me any Second Amendment crap.

The issue here is perception and public relations. If you act like a nut, if you're loud and offensive, you lose in the court of public opinion no matter how logical or legal your case may be. And at the end of the day if you lose elections you don't get a chance to enact your agenda

Carrying a gun and toting outside an event where anyone is speaking is stupid in the extreme and makes us look like a bunch of redneck racist gun freak militia anti-government kooks.

Look at what's happening. There have been what, two instances of this happening? And yet the media (and I suspect most leftie bloggers) are trying to say that this is typical behavior from the right. We can complain about media bias, but the situation is what it is, and complaining doesn't help. We must use the media to our advantage, and not let it set the agenda. By doing stupid things does not help our cause. Cut it out.

Posted by Tom at 7:11 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 17, 2009

Alinsky's Rule 12: Destroy the Individual

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

Hillary Clinton used to complain about "the politics of personal destruction," but the Republicans of the 1990s had nothing on the radicals of today. Other than the occasional observation by Rush that Chelsea Clinton wasn't going to win any beauty contests, she didn't have to worry about her child or extended family.

But these liberals today are something else. For almost eight years they say that George W. Bush is another Hitler, and then whine when anyone compares their healthcare plan to the German plan under the Nazis. We heard one despicable attack on George W. Bush after another, and all the time the media stayed silent. But anyone says anything about their messiah Obama, or puts up an offensive poster, and you'd think the world had come to an end if you watch the liberal news.

Speaking of news, these liberals can't take any dissent. On the left side of broadcast media you have CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS. There's a grand total of one on the right, Fox News, and they can't stand the idea that it even exists. Sure, for decades conservatives have lamented liberal bias in the news. But I never saw the sheer hatred toward any network that I see for Fox. They want it off the air, and over at Democrats.org they're actually getting some companies to drop their advertising.

To this day they attack every single member of Sarah Palin's family with apparent impunity from criticism from the media.

We saw how after the defeat of Proposition 8 in California the brown shirts of the "gay rights" movement attacked Mormons, storming their churches and issuing the most vile slanders and attacks.

Carrie Prejean gave one of the most unoffensive and nice answers I've ever heard to a question on gay marriage, yet was subject to the most vile and insane attacks from everyone from hollywood media types to Keith Olbermann.

Even Anderson Cooper, supposedly a "serious" CNN anchor, made "tea bagging" "jokes" with his guests, referring to a gay sex practice too disgusting for me to explain here.

And all of this is considered quite normal for liberals, from what I can tell. Olbermann and Cooper are still employed at their respective networks.

As Sister Toldjah asked last week, "Since when the hell did the MSM ever give a damn about Hitler comparisons?"

Andrew Breitbart nails all this and more in his column today in The Washington Times, which I am reproducing in it's entirety:

George W. Bush-by-proxy syndrome
Andrew Breitbart

There is an extensive body of writing from both sides of the political aisle that has analyzed the extraordinary depths of hatred leveled at former President George W. Bush.

His birth into a wealthy and politically connected family is where a lot of the animus starts. His rejection of his Connecticut roots and adoption of a rugged Texan persona naturally riled his birth-constituency. His disjointed speaking style also alienated many others - especially those who covered him in the Northeastern media. Naturally, some of his initiatives were controversial. His allies say he didn't do enough.

But all presidents make mistakes, pursue unpopular ideas, possess off-putting personality traits and don't do enough to appeal to their core supporters. Something far more insidious was at work in the hatred of our most recent former president.

Now that Mr. Bush is quietly going about his retirement, this strain of rage - the GWB43 virus - has spread like wildfire, finding unsuspecting targets, each granting us greater perspective into what not long ago seemed like a mysterious phenomenon isolated only on our 43rd president.

The first person to catch the virus was Sarah Palin, whose family also was infected, including, unforgivably, her children.

Then it was Joe the Plumber, for asking a question.

Next were the Mormons.

Then it was Rush Limbaugh - who hit back.

Next, tax-day "tea party" attendees were "tea bagged."

Then there was a beauty contestant.

And a Cambridge cop, too.

And now we have town-hall "mobs."

Smile ... you've been "community organized."

When put on the media stage, these individuals and groups have been isolated for destruction for standing in the way of a resurgent modern progressive movement and for challenging its charismatic once-in-a-lifetime standard-bearer, Barack Obama.

This is their time, we've been told. And no one is going to stand in the way.

The origins of manufactured "politics of personal destruction" is Saul Alinsky, the mentor of a young Hillary Rodham, who wrote her 92-page Wellesley College senior thesis on the late Chicago-based "progressive" street agitator titled, "There Is Only the Fight."

Mr. Obama and his Fighting Illini, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, have perfected Mr. Alinsky's techniques as laid out in his guidebook to political warfare, "Rules for Radicals." In plain language, we see how normal, decent and even private citizens become nationally vilified symbols overnight - all in the pursuit of progressive political victory.

"Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)"

With the complicity of the mainstream media and abetted by George Soros' money and netroots nation, Mr. Bush never stood a chance.

But the more the virus spreads, the more we study it and, perhaps, find the cure. The repetitive use of the same technique against anyone who would dare stand up and oppose the progressive movement and especially its leader has exposed the game and rendered its tactics less effective.

In fact, one could make the argument that the Republican Party, usually slow on the uptake, has finally figured it out. There are no major Republican targets out there opposing Mr. Obama and his aggressive agenda. The conservative movement appears leaderless, but perhaps for the best.

Maybe that is the strategy: Standing back and letting the Obama machine flail in its pursuit of its next victim.

A grass-roots movement of average Americans has stood up, making it extremely difficult to isolate and demonize an individual.

Mr. Alinsky noted in "Rule 12" that it is difficult to go after "institutions." And attacking "tea baggers" and "mobs" has only created more resistance and drawn attention to the left's limited playbook. Even Americans expressing their constitutionally protected right to free speech are open game.

Now that many people are Googling the Alinsky rule book and catching up with the way Chicago thugs play their political games, Mr. Obama and the Fighting Illini are going to be forced to create new rules - or double down on the old ones.

Worse yet, as his approval ratings descend rapidly - Rasmussen has him at 47 percent, the lowest of his presidency - angry citizens may be turning the tables on him, using Mr. Alinsky against him.

They won't have to "freeze" and "personalize" him either. He's got 3 1/2 years left with the klieg lights focused on him. And if Mr. Obama can't get the economy rolling and continues to demonize everyday folks for his failures, he will be further isolated from sympathy and even ridiculed.

Yes, it's cruel - and effective.

Ask Mr. Bush, the magnanimous guy who gave the new president a heartfelt hug the day he took office. He knows.

Boy, I wish I could see his famous smirk right about now. I always loved how much they hated that.

The Democrats made a classic error after the last election by overestimating their mandate. A majority of voters wanted the Republicans out, and thought they'd give the Democrats a chance. But they didn't buy into the entire socialist-left Democrat agenda, and they're finding this out the hard way now.

In the end, I think Andrew might be right; the left has overplayed it's hand. The American people are waking up and we're seeing it at the town halls. More, the town halls are showing that liberal-left tactics of intimidation aren't working anymore.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 15, 2009

The "Nazi/president" Selective Outrage of the Left

Sister Toldjah asks

Since when the hell did the MSM ever give a damn about Hitler comparisons?

If you're like me, you're pretty disgusted and close to nauseous over hearing the repeated "outrage" from the mainstream mediots about the alleged comparisons the "mobsters" at the ObamaCare town halls are making between Hitler and Obama. Ever since Pelosi's "swastika" crack, the MSM (and their cohorts at far left liberal blogs) have been scouring town halls across the country looking for any evidence whatsoever of signs made by alleged "conservative mobsters" featuring swastikas and/or images of Hitler and Obama together, in desperate attempts to prove how diehard conservatives have supposedly "lost it" over Obama and thus should be ignored when it comes to the discussion and debate over ObamaCare.

As the sister relates, it was Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer started all this earlier this week when she called critics of Obama's health care plan "un-American, and even accused them of "carrying swastikas and symbols like that" to meetings.

Liberals also have their panties on a wad over comments Rush Limbaugh made, and pull out the "how dare anyone call Obama a socialist!" meme.

Oh the outrage. Nevermind that Rush didn't say Obama was equivalent to Hitler or Pelosi Himmler. What he said was that socialist health care in Germany was started by Bismark and completed by the Nazis, and that the Democrats are doing the same thing. Historically he's right. But whether you like that or not, these same liberals weren't so outraged during years of "Bushitler" hate.

Like, oh, this one via Michelle Malkin:

Or these, which you can find simply by googling for "Bushitler" while set on "images:

Bushitler1


Bushitler2


bushitler3


Not to mention this video of protesters with Bush-Nazi signs at Bush's second inauguration


Recall any outrage over this?

Zombietime has about a zillion photos of Bush-as-Hitler from various leftist protests. Where was the media outrage then?

For that matter, I've seen tons of Bush-the-Nazi signs in every anti-war protest I observed in Washington DC over the past four years. Pictures are all over the internet.

Now, I'll never say that conservatives are saints. Too many buy into the Barack Obama birth certificate nonsense. And when we actly badly it is reported gleefully by the press. All we're asking for is some even-handedness.

Bill Sammon of Fox News relates how the press ignored these constant references to Bush as Hitler:

News outlets that are focusing on the incendiary rhetoric of conservatives outside President Obama's town hall meeting Tuesday ignored the incendiary rhetoric -- and even violence -- of liberals outside an appearance by former President George W. Bush in 2002.

When Bush visited Portland, Ore., for a fundraiser, protesters stalked his motorcade, assailed his limousine and stoned a car containing his advisers. Chanting "Bush is a terrorist!", the demonstrators bullied passers-by, including gay softball players and a wheelchair-bound grandfather with multiple sclerosis.

One protester even brandished a sign that seemed to advocate Bush's assassination. The man held a large photo of Bush that had been doctored to show a gun barrel pressed against his temple.

"BUSH: WANTED, DEAD OR ALIVE," read the placard, which had an X over the word "ALIVE."

Another poster showed Bush's face with the words: "F--- YOU, MOTHERF---ER!"

A third sign urged motorists to "HONK IF YOU HATE BUSH." A fourth declared: "CHRISTIAN FASCISM," with a swastika in place of the letter S in each word.

Although reporters from numerous national news organizations were traveling with Bush and witnessed the protest, none reported that protesters were shrieking at Republican donors epithets like "Slut!" "Whore!" and "Fascists!"

Frank Dulcich, president and CEO of Pacific Seafood Group, had a cup of liquid thrown into his face, and then was surrounded by a group of menacing protesters, including several who wore masks. Donald Tykeson, 75, who had multiple sclerosis and was confined to a wheelchair, was blocked by a thug who threatened him.

Protesters slashed the tires of several state patrol cruisers and leapt onto an occupied police car, slamming the hood and blocking the windshield with placards. A female police officer was knocked to the street by advancing protesters, badly injuring her wrist.

The angry protest grew so violent that the Secret Service was forced to take the highly unusual step of using a backup route for Bush's motorcade because the primary route had been compromised by protesters, one of whom pounded his fist on the president's moving limousine.

All the while, angry demonstrators brandished signs with incendiary rhetoric, such as "9/11 - YOU LET IT HAPPEN, SHRUB," and "BUSH: BASTARD CHILD OF THE SUPREME COURT." One sign read: "IMPEACH THE COURT-APPOINTED JUNTA AND THE FASCIST, EGOMANIACAL, BLOOD-SWILLING BEAST!"

Yet none of these signs were cited in the national media's coverage of the event. By contrast, the press focused extensively on over-the-top signs held by Obama critics at the president's town hall event held Tuesday in New Hampshire.

The lead story in Wednesday's Washington Post, for example, is headlined: "Obama Faces 'Scare Tactics' Head-On."

"As the president spoke, demonstrators outside held posters declaring him a socialist and dubbing him 'Obamahdinejad,' in reference to Iran's president," the Post reported. "People screamed into bullhorns to protest a bigger government role in health care. 'Nobama Deathcare!' one sign read. A young girl held up a sign that said: 'Obama Lies, Grandma Dies.' Images of a protester wearing what appeared to be a gun were shown on television."

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that a Democratic congressman discovered that "an opponent of health care reform hanged him in effigy" and was confronted by "200 angry conservatives." The article lamented "increasingly ugly scenes of partisan screaming matches, scuffles, threats and even arrests."

No such coverage was given to the Portland protest of Bush by The New York Times or the Washington Post, which witnessed the protest.

But if anyone shows up at a conservative protest with one sign that's out of place, and the media and liberal politicians go nuts.

Sorry, but I'm having a hard time taking the liberal outrage seriously.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 14, 2009

Iraq Briefing - 11 August 2009 - Breaking the Cycle of Sectarian Violence

This briefing is by Major General Robert Caslen, Commander of Multi-National Division-North. On Tuesday he spoke from Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Iraq via satellite with reporters at the Pentagon, providing an update on ongoing security operations in Iraq.

Most of Iraq is relatively calm, but insurgents remain in the northern provinces. If sectarian violence breaks out again, most likely it will either be in Baghdad or in the north. As such, it is important to pay attention to what goes on in this area.

From the website of Multi-National Force-Iraq, "MND-North is also known as Task Force Lightning. Responsible for an area including the cities of Balad, Kirkuk, Tikrit, Mosul, and Samarra, MND-N is headquartered by the 25th Infantry Division from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii." Maj. Gen. Caslen and the 25th ID started their current deployment in November of 2008.

Contingency Operating Base Speicher was named after Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher. He was killed when his plane was shot down, while flying a combat mission over western Iraq, January 17th, 1991, during Operation Desert Storm.

General Caslen reports to Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq. Jacoby reports to General Odierno, commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq. Odierno reports to Gen. Petraeus, now commander of CENTCOM. Petreaus reports to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The latest Order of Battle can be found at The Institute for the Study of War.

This and other videos can be seen at DODvClips. More news and videos are at The Pentagon Channel.

The transcript is at Defenselink.

GEN. CASLEN: ...Our partnership has disrupted insurgent and extremist networks; it's degraded insurgent attack capabilities. The Iraqis are fully in the lead. And through the security agreement, Iraq continues to capitalize on these security gains...

This chart, current as of May 2009, seems to confirm these trends, though it looks like there have there have been a few spikes since then.

Iraq Security Incidents May 2009

In response to a question Gen. Caslen sais that "in Mosul the numbers that we're tracking is that before 30 June, the attacks per week were averaging 42. That was a six-month average before then, but it was pretty consistent during that time. And after 30 June, it's down to 29."

In a briefing last April, Col. Gary Volesky of MND-North used the term "mini-surge" then to describe how they were attacking AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq): Iraq Briefing - 14 April 09 - Mini-Surge in Mosul. General Caslen uses this term too.

In this first exchange, note how General Caslen makes clear that the objective is not just to destroy the insurgents but to break the cycle of retaliatory violence between sects, tribes, and ethnic groups:

Q Hi, General. This is Courtney Kube from NBC News. You mentioned at the end of your opening statement about the attacks yesterday. Can you talk a little bit about your assessment of al Qaeda's strengths in Nineveh province and in Mosul, if any military assessment has recently found that al Qaeda is spreading out away from Mosul or if that continues to be a center point of their strength in Iraq?

GEN. CASLEN: Thank you, Courtney. No, I think al Qaeda of Iraq, which also has teamed up with Islamic State of Iraq, or ISI, as we call it, still remains centered with its leadership and its financial capability in northern Iraq, primarily in Mosul.

What we did is we went after them pretty aggressively when we first got here, with kind of a mini-surge, which started right around January and February. We brought a significant amount of combat power. And over the first five or six months, we had steady attack levels, and then right before 30 June, they dropped off significantly. And we were very encouraged by that. Plus the intel reports said that there were some significant issues that they had, particularly with regard to their financing.

And then after the 30 June transition, there were some spikes in some of their capabilities that you saw, and especially some of the VBIEDs and the S -- the suicide VBIEDs, and the one that you saw yesterday -- which means that they have the capacity and they still have the capability, and they remain a -- I would say a resilient force that has the capability to regenerate their combat power as necessary. So we put a lot of pressure on them. I think that's very evident. But like I said, now that the Iraqi security forces are inside the city, they do remain some sort of resilience and they do have capability of conducting some attacks, as you saw yesterday.

Q You mention they have the capability to conduct attacks. Do you think they also still have the capability to incite a new round of sectarian tension or violence in that area?

GEN. CASLEN: Well, that's an excellent question. The attacks that they had were primarily directed against sectarian sort of issues, like the Shi'a mosque, that you had on Friday, and then the Shi'a population, that you saw yesterday. And some of the attacks in Kirkuk were also on minorities as well.

What you found, though, is -- what's interesting is, what kind of sectarian reaction or retaliation that occurred or failed to occur. You know, what's significant about the surge that occurred in 2006 and 2007 was how the United States forces, working with the Iraqi leadership, broke the cycle of violence. And they broke the cycle of violence by going after leadership, and they convinced the sectarians, once they were attacked, that we can go after their leadership, as opposed to attacking massively against, you know, the -- a retaliatory-type attack.

So what we're doing right now is, when these attacks occur, we'll talk to the leadership and -- of who was attacked, and then we will put together the necessary plans, working with the Iraqi security forces, to go after who conducted that attack and the leadership of that attack, in order to continue to break that cycle of violence, so you don't get the retaliations that you saw a couple years ago.

So AQI is down but not out. They're trying to reignite sectarian violence but haven't succeeded. Yet, anyway. This is in keeping with what Bill Roggio said in April.

Despite the importance of stopping the cycle of retaliatory violence between Shia and Sunni Arabs, just as important are tensions between Arabs and Kurds, and keeping that from turning into sectarian violence.

Q General, hi. Anne Gearan from the Associated Press. Can you talk a little bit, please, about the tensions between Arab Iraq and the Kurdish areas, how close you see that -- -- that -- how close that tension is to actually becoming a shooting war, and tell us a bit about what the American forces do as intermediaries?

GEN. CASLEN: Okay, Anne. Thank you, because that -- (chuckles) -- we spend a lot of time and a lot of energy in that particular area, and that's one of the problems that exists right in MND-North that we address a lot.

I personally think that the Kurd-Arab issues and the tension that exists is probably one of the most dangerous courses of action for all of Iraq and could certainly resolve (sic) in an ethnic lethal-force engagement between Kurds and Arabs.

The issue, as you know, is the resolution of the land that exists between the Kurds and the Arabs, of which both claim to that. And in order to resolve that, there's an article in the constitution that maps the way to try to resolve that. It's called Article 140, and I assume many of you are familiar with that.

But our goal in working with this -- and we're working with it at the tactical level -- and that is to build transparency and also to try to bring both the peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army forces together. And we do that at various institutions, like checkpoints and at our command centers, and we even bring them into our own command centers, and we also bring them into the -- even the police stations, so that they're together. And by being together, they conduct combined checkpoints, combined operations, and what that does is, that builds trust and that builds confidence.

But none of this is going to get resolved unless it's going to get resolved at the senior-most levels within this country, and that's in Baghdad and in Erbil.

And I believe they have the capacity and the capability of resolving it. I think it's going to take leadership from -- the senior-most leadership from this country to get it resolved.

I've been encouraged over the last week when Prime Minister Maliki went to Kurdistan and met with President Barzani. That was very encouraging, has a tremendous rippling effect throughout the entire force, both the peshmerga and the Iraqi army. And so I'm encouraged by that. And I'm also very encouraged by my boss, General Odierno, and General Jacoby and their works to try to continue to bring this towards resolution.

Certainly if anyone can solve the problem it's General Odierno, the "Patton of Counterinsurgency" himself. Counterinsurgency warfare is about not just killing insurgents, but legitimizing the government and building civil society so as to give the people incentive to reject the insurgents. It's all about self-interest.

Q (Daphne Benoit - Agence France-PresseTo follow up, are you confident that the Iraqi security forces are able to face such a violence in Mosul, especially if it goes on at the rate we're seeing right now?

GEN. CASLEN: That's -- no, that's an excellent question. It's a fair question. It may be too early after 30 June to make an assessment or to make a call at this particular point.

If you look at the -- let me give you some statistics on the attacks that have occurred in Mosul. Prior to 30 June, the average number of attacks per week was around 40 to 42. And then if you look at each one of the six or so weeks past 30 June, the average attacks have dropped down to 29. So overall, believe it or not, the number of attacks in Mosul have decreased. We see that as very encouraging.

What has increased, however, is the capabilities to conduct the high-profile attacks, and the attacks are primarily focused on Iraqi security forces, like police. So the number of attacks against Iraqi security forces have increased, and the high-profile attacks, which are these VBIEDs or the suicide vests, especially the VBIEDs, they have increased.

And the VBIEDs are the ones that are really focused after the local nationals and are the high casualty producers. So you see an increase in numbers of casualties post 30 June, but you also have a decrease in the number of attacks.

What we need to do is get in there and break the networks of the SVBIEDs and -- primarily -- and some of the networks that actually do the high-profile attacks, similar to how we had done that prior to 30 June.

Concern about high-profile attacks is something I've heard time and again from commanders. They have been able to reduce the daily level of violence considerably, but stopping the one big attack is always difficult. See for example

Iraq Briefing - 08 May 09 - General Ray Odierno Reports
Iraq Briefing - 18 August 2008 - "al Qaeda is in disarray"

Next, Gen. Caslen discusses the "build" part of the counterinsurgency strategy of "clear, hold, and build," including the all-important issue of the legitimacy of the Iraqi government. He does so in the context of the Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP), Provisional Reconstruction Teams (PRT) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

GEN. CASLEN: ...When we first got here, our primary effort -- in the counterinsugency strategy of clear, hold and build -- in the build phase was to look at the essential service infrastructure....This is a very effective program. It's not only produced a significant number of jobs, but it's got the infrastructure in a lot of areas up and running. And what it does in the end is that it gives the provincial government legitimacy to the Iraqi people; because in order for a government to be legitimate, it's got to provide security and essential services and rule of law, and essential service is a critical component of that. So we're making a lot of progress, and I'm very glad to see it. It's very effective.

That it is critical for the government to be seen as legitimate by the people is straight out of Petraeus' U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24. Follow the link for a important quotes from the manual.

Finally, to the all important question, will the gains hold?

Q Yeah. General, considering that -- what you just said about al Qaeda and also what you said earlier, that -- I think you said that the potential for violence between the Arab and Kurd forces is maybe the greatest threat to stability in Iraq. And then you also said that the progress is fragile.

So my question is, how fragile is it? We've been hearing this word now for over a year, since things started to turn around in Iraq. So how fragile is it? How large or small do you think the potential is for either Arab-Kurd civil war or sectarian violence?

GEN. CASLEN: Well, those are -- a great question. They're two separate problem sets.

The problem set of the insurgency is significant. But what you're seeing is the pressure that we put on the insurgence -- United States and coalition forces -- that pressure now is being transitioned to Iraqi security forces, both their conventional forces, their special operating forces, as well. It's already been transferred in the city, and eventually it's going to be transferred, you know, a year from now, across -- when all combat forces come out -- across all of Iraq. And what we're finding is the Iraqi security forces, with some hiccups, are able to maintain the pressure on the networks.

I feel -- this is my personal opinion -- I feel that the networks have degenerated enough that with sustaining the pressure by the Iraqi security forces, they'll be able to maintain the lid on them, and you're not going to get this tremendous resurgence of sectarian counteractivity that you saw back in 2006 and 2007. That -- you know, that's just what I see.

If, however, the Iraqi security forces either degenerate or whatever, and you -- or they are focused on the wrong directions, and there is a capability of one of these networks to gain some energy, that may not be the case. But I'm more confident in what the security forces have been able to do, in what they will do in the future.

The problem set with the Kurd-Arab issues is another entirely different problem set, and that is, you know, the strategic question I always ask is, are the Iraqis -- once the United States leave, are they capable of resolving their ethnic differences peacefully, at the peace table? And when I first got here, I was -- you know, I was concerned about that. But based on some of -- because the answer is, they have the capability to do it. The question is whether their senior leadership will exert the leadership necessary to do that. And I'm very encouraged by the last couple weeks, when I've seen both the prime minister and the president, from President Barzani, get engaged and have -- has exerted some leadership to move this thing forward. I'm also very encouraged by the leadership that our embassy and General Odierno are exerting at this time as well.

So I'm -- so the answer to the second question is, I'm encouraged that we will get this resolved. If we do not get it resolved, then yes, it has potential to go towards lethal contacts, you know, in small separate areas.

Cautious optimism.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2009

M. Zuhdi Jasser: A Muslim Who Gets It

It's easy to become depressed when it seems that so few Muslims are willing to take a public stand against the jihadists who seek a resurrection of the caliphate and the spread of Islamic law. It's all very fine to denounce terrorism, but what I'm really interested in are Muslims who will denounce groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

But there are true reformers, and I've profiled many of them on this blog. Of all of them Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy , is perhaps the one who is the most effective. He is articulate and outspoken, and gets a reasonable amount of attention from the press.

Time and again on this blog I've said that the best way to combat radicalism is to support reform minded Muslims. Muslims deserve a religion that is not dominated by a radical jihadist element just as much as they deserve civil liberties in Muslim countries.

Today he had a letter to the editor in The Washington Times taking President Obama and his top homeland security and counterterrorism official, John Brennan, to task for his idiotic statement the other day that we mustn't use "jihad" and "War on Terror," but only that "at war with al Qaeda." Here it is:

According to John Brennan, head of the White House's homeland security office, the war on terrorism is over. From now on, the administration will never use terms like "jihadists" and "global war" because doing so, as Mr. Brennan said, "risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve." He insisted that the U.S. is at "war with al Qaeda" ("U.S. no longer at war with 'terrorism' ," Page 1, Friday).
Could we be more blind? Acts of terror are rooted in the aspirations of Islamists to create an Islamic state and impose their version of Shariah law.

As a devout Muslim who, like many others across the world, is dedicated to fighting Islamism and its radical offshoots, I believe there is nothing more dangerous to our security in the long term than the leader of the free world remaining in categorical denial about the essence of this ever-so-real contest of ideas.

Al Qaeda had nothing to do with the string of radical Islamists arrested across the country -- from North Carolina to New York, Oregon and New Jersey (to name but a few) -- in the last year alone. The only thing these radicals have in common is their belief in a militant version of political Islam.

I certainly can understand the concern of making this a clash of religions, but that should not lead to outright misinformation. There is a civil war happening within the Muslim consciousness -- between those who advocate for the Islamic state (Islamists) and those who believe in secular liberal democracies.

It certainly is not the role of any administration to determine who are "good" and "bad" jihadists. Not calling them exactly what they call themselves makes the White House the arbiter of who is and who is not a Muslim. This avoidance behavior allows American Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood's front groups in Washington, to continue to deny their responsibility to lead the Islamic reform effort against Islamism and its role in radicalization -- the real existential threat to the West.

The last administration used a term far too vague, labeling the tactic of terror as the enemy rather than the ideology of militant Islamism. Now we have swung the other way, targeting a single group that is but one manifestation of a global movement. The movement radicalizes Muslims and remains an ever-present danger to our citizenry and it should be identified as such.

M. ZUHDI JASSER

President

American Islamic Forum for Democracy

Phoenix AZ

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 12, 2009

Stalemate in Afghanistan

There has been some stories in the news recently indicating that the war effort is going poorly in Afghanistan. Earlier this week Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen had this to say to the editors of The Washington Times

The top U.S. uniformed military officer Wednesday offered a bleak assessment of the war in Afghanistan, saying that years of neglect before the Obama administration had starved the U.S.-led effort of funds and diplomatic heft - a condition he called "a culture of poverty."

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times that nearly eight years after the war began, the U.S. military is still digging its way "out of a hole" and has not reached "year zero" in the campaign to turn back Taliban advances and gain the trust of the Afghan people...

Yesterday we saw something very similar in the Wall Street Journal

The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency's spiritual home.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that means U.S. casualties, already running at record levels, will remain high for months to come.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the commander offered a preview of the strategic assessment he is to deliver to Washington later this month, saying the troop shifts are designed to better protect Afghan civilians from rising levels of Taliban violence and intimidation. The coming redeployments are the clearest manifestation to date of Gen. McChrystal's strategy for Afghanistan, which puts a premium on safeguarding the Afghan population rather than hunting down militants.

Are these assessments accurate?

Dealing with the second story first, there's some dispute as to what exactly Gen. McChrystal actually said in the briefing. Jim at Blackfive followed up on the article by contacting the public affairs people at ISAF and he got this back

Jim--I sat in on the interview, and the Journal article overstated Gen McChrystal's position. The Commander did not say the Taliban was winning in his interview, as suggested by the headline. Asked by the reporter if the Taliban had the upper hand, he explained that International Security Assistance Forces are facing an aggressive enemy, employing complex tactics, that has gained momentum in some parts of Afghanistan. During the course of the interview he also observed that ISAF has had some success in reversing the initiative, and that insurgents in Afghanistan face their own long-term problems in terms of public support, group cohesiveness and their ability to sustain morale and fighting capacity. There was much more nuance to his analysis than made it into the Journal article.

Tadd

TADD SHOLTIS, LTC, USAF (OF-4)
Public Affairs Officer for the Commander, ISAF
Headquarters, International Security Assistance Force

This sounds more balanced. To be sure, we aren't winning, as Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, Commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101 pretty much said in a briefing back in September of last year.

We heard similar warnings in briefings I covered this year, including these two:

Afghanistan Briefing - 20 March 2009 - "We've Just Run Out of Troops"
Afghanistan Briefing - 04 February 2009 - Not Enough Progress

Journalist/blogger Bill Roggio takes this (and all the other information he gathers and concludes that we're at a stalemate.

Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War says that the Taliban are winning...for now:

The war in Afghanistan has not been going well, and it is no surprise that Americans are frustrated. Many observers can rightly point to signs of progress: the functionality of specific Afghan government ministries and programs, the slow growth of the Afghan National Army, the building of major infrastructure such as roads and dams, and agricultural improvements. These accomplishments, however, have not created the conditions that the United States has aimed to achieve: an Afghan state with a competent government considered legitimate by its people and capable of defending them, such that Afghanistan can no longer function as a safe haven for Islamist terrorist groups. Indeed, as Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of coalition forces, recently suggested, the situation shows signs of deteriorating: Afghan enemy groups remain highly capable, have gained momentum, and have expanded their areas of operations. Violence against coalition forces is rising. So the question is: Why haven't we been winning in Afghanistan?

Although I served on McChrystal's assessment team, I do not know how he would answer this question, nor could I speculate about his recommendations for the strategy going forward. But after much research, as well as two visits to Afghanistan this year, I personally think that the military operations themselves are failing because there has been no coherent theaterwide counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. Despite U.S. President Barack Obama's newly announced "Af-Pak" strategy, the U.S. and coalition campaign this summer is a continuation of the poorly designed operations from 2008. And the sheer inertia of military operations means that it will be hard to turn this supertanker around for the better part of this year. But turn it around we must, starting with correcting the following flaws in the strategy that McChrystal and his team inherited from their predecessors.

Kagan then issues several recommendations, which are more than I can quote here and are somewhat detailed and technical. Let's go straight to her conclusion, where she answers the all-important question; Can we win?

Some answer simply and sharply in the negative: They claim that Afghanistan has never been centrally ruled (which is wrong) and that it has been the "graveyard of empires" (which is true in only a specific handful of cases). Failure is not at all inevitable. The war in Afghanistan has suffered almost from the start from a lack of resources, especially the time and attention of senior policymakers. The United States prioritized the war in Iraq from 2007 until 2009, for strategically sound reasons. Some of this parsimony also comes from flawed theories of counterinsurgency: U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, for example, misreads the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, which has consistently led him to argue incorrectly against expanding the size of the force there, claiming that it increases the risks of failure.

We can win in Afghanistan, but only if we restructure the campaign and resource it properly. Adding more resources to the military effort as it has been conducted over the past few years, without fundamentally changing its conception, design, and execution, would achieve little. This was also the case in Iraq before the surge, and the change in strategy and campaign plan that followed was as important to success as the additional resources. This explains why McChrystal might adopt a different campaign design -- perhaps requiring additional military resources -- when he submits his formal assessment to the U.S. secretary of defense and NATO secretary-general sometime after the Afghan elections.

The fact that we have not been doing the right things for the past few years in Afghanistan is actually good news at this moment. A sound, properly resourced counterinsurgency has not failed in Afghanistan; it has never even been tried. So there is good reason to think that such a new strategy can succeed now. But we have to hurry, for as is often the case in these kinds of war, if you aren't winning, you're losing.

I'm with Kagan in that I too reject the "minimalist" approach, as well as the attitude expressed in some quarters that "more U.S. troops only lead to more insurgents." This was what Generals Casey and Abizaid thought about Iraq in 2006, and they were proven very wrong by Petraeus, Odierno, and the surge of troops the next year.

I supported President Obama when he committed more troops to Afghanistan in March. I wasn't sure if he had committed enough troops, but at the time didn't have the knowledge to say one way or the other.

The bottom line is that if General McCrystal wants more resources we need to give it to him and not nickle and dime him. We could not afford to lose in Iraq, and we cannot afford to lose in Afghanistan. As I wrote in Afghanistan and the Long War, this one is going to take a long time to win, but win it we must.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Iraq Briefing - 06 August 2009 - Stability in the South

This briefing is by Major General Robert Nash. He spoke via satellite from Forward Operating Base (War) Eagle with reporters at the Pentagon last Thursday

Maj. Gen. Nash is the commanding general of Multi-National Division South, which is headquartered by the 34th Infantry Division from Rosemount, Minnesota. The 34th Divison deployed to Iraq in May

MND-South is also known as the Red Bull Division. Their mission is to "assist Iraqi Security Forces with security and stability missions in the area south of Baghdad ranging from Najaf to Wasit provinces extending to Basrah."

General Nash reports to Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq. Jacoby reports to General Odierno, commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq. Odierno reports to Gen. Petraeus, now commander of CENTCOM. Petreaus reports to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The latest Order of Battle can be found at The Institute for the Study of War.

This and other videos can be seen at DODvClips. The Pentagon Channel also has videos and news stories, so visit it as well.

The transcript is at DefenseLink.

From General Nash's opening remarks:

GEN. NASH: ... Our mission here in Iraq is to build civil capacity and transition security to the Iraqi security forces. We do this through partnerships with three subordinate brigades and their Iraqi Security Force counterparts.

It's been just over one month since all U.S. combat forces have been out of the cities. No combat forces in the cities has been the norm in the southern nine provinces here for quite some time. And the Iraqis are fully in the lead to secure their country and their population. My forces are in a supporting role.

Pretty straightforward, brief, and nothing unexpected there. On to the Q & A. Some excerpts:

Q Three members of the -- this is Eric Roper with the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Three members of the 34th were killed last month in a rocket attack. Is that emblematic of the environment out there, or is that sort of an anomaly for what you're seeing?

GEN. NASH: That's a -- that's a great question, because I spent time last week with our Family Readiness Group back -- communicating with them back in Minnesota, with the loss of our three specialists, Specialists Wertish, Wilcox and Drevnick -- and explained to them that we still live in an environment that we cannot totally control: indirect fire. And that's what killed these three great Americans.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but I'm impressed that Gen. Nash knew their names off the top of his head.

Q General, this is Shin Shoji from NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Of all the extremists working within your region, how much of attacks can you attribute to al Qaeda or to Muqtada al-Sadr or some of those Shi'ite elements?

GEN. NASH: In the south, the AQI, unless it's up in the northern borders of northern -- northwest Babil, northwest Wasat province and the southern belts of Baghdad, that's where -- if there is an AK -- AQI cell working -- cells working, that's where they would predominately be, and not necessarily here in the south.

The violent extremist networks that we look at come from all walks of terrorism, if you will, that are still trying to disrupt the government of Iraq and the sovereignty of the government of Iraq and cause doubt in the minds of the Iraqi people about the Iraqi security forces.

But the atmospheric that we've taken here in the south is that the people feel very well secure with the Iraqi security forces, with the police and the army. And we're seeing tip lines being used to the Iraqi police for suspected extremists that are attempting to move back, especially back here into the Basra province. So we're seeing the locals really reinforcing, if you will, now the Iraqi security forces across the southern portion of Iraq here in our nine provinces.

My recollection is that that the last holdout of AQI is in the area of MND-North, so this isn't too surprising. What's interesting is that the general doesn't name any specific groups but indicates that they are fragmented.

Most of the questions in this briefing were softballs, which tells me the reporters can't find much to question in Gen. Nash' story. Hopefully that's the reason, anyway.

One more exchange

Q General, it's Luis Martinez with ABC News. You mentioned that Iraqi security forces didn't want you to abandon them, as you said, in the cities. What's the dynamic between the Iraqi security forces and political leadership with regard to maybe them trying to minimize these -- their level of reliance on U.S. forces? Are you seeing that down there in your area?

GEN. NASH: Well, I would have to answer that -- that is the case. Again, each province in different. Each one wants some degree of help. A lot of them have become independent, if you will, and we respect that. We do joint patrols with them when required. We'll respond to an event, an IED event, if you will, to do site exploitation of things that may be there left as residue that we can work together as a crime scene and be able to work out those networks -- so somewhat more of that, somewhat less of that.

And again, we're working with two ministries, the minister of defense, with the Iraqi army, and the minister of interior, with the Iraqi police, and then the minister of border enforcement, again with our border force. So we have to be able to work with each one of those ministers, what they're looking for. And again, they're in the lead, and we want to be sure that they're taking full credit for all the great things that we're doing, and if we can support them in any way, we'll do that.

We back off when they think that they want to do it on themselves -- by themselves. And they're certainly capable of doing unilateral operations, and we acknowledge that.

Gen Nash is not about to say anything that contradicts the official line from Washington, and for him to directly say "they want us to stay" or even "they don't want us to abandon him" would get him in trouble, so we have to filter his responses through that lens.

Some will say that commanders whitewash the problems in Iraq. Washington Post correspondent and fellow Tom Ricks says that Iraq is unraveling. Journalist/blogger Bill Roggio demurs, saying that Ricks cherry picks incidents. Both are knowledgeable, and both pretty honest, I think. I tend to think that Roggio has it more right this time, but we shall see. My guess is that violence will increase as we withdraw, but that it will be manageable. Either way, as Roggio says, it's too soon to say.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 8, 2009

Obama Declares Defeat In War on Terror

Ok, he didn't exactly declare defeat. But he may as well have.

From yesterday's Washington Times:

It's official. The U.S. is no longer engaged in a "war on terrorism." Neither is it fighting "jihadists" or in a "global war."

President Obama's top homeland security and counterterrorism official took all three terms off the table of acceptable words inside the White House during a speech Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

"The President does not describe this as a 'war on terrorism,'" said John Brennan, head of the White House homeland security office, who outlined a "new way of seeing" the fight against terrorism.

The only terminology that Mr. Brennan said the administration is using is that the U.S. is "at war with al Qaeda."

"We are at war with al Qaeda," he said. "We are at war with its violent extremist allies who seek to carry on al Qaeda's murderous agenda."

This is insane. We are moving backwards. President Bush got a lot wrong, and even he understood the full nature of the jihadist threat facing the West. But at least he seemed to know that it went beyond al Qaeda. Obama and his minons don't even get that.

And this is why I titled the piece as I did; the jihadists are engaged in a war against us on many levels. If you don't fight back, or even recognize that they're fighting you, you've effectively surrendered.

With all else that's in the news, this story didn't get a whole lot of attention, at least that I saw. Maybe that's because months ago we heard rumors that he had dropped or was going to drop "war on terror," maybe because we just expect this type of thing from him, or maybe because people are burned out on the whole thing. It's some of all three, but mostly the latter, I think.

I've written so much about this before I'm not going to rehash it all here. See Creeping Sharia, Iran, Islam, Jihadism and the War of Ideas, and War on Islamic Fascism under "Categories" at right. For now suffice it to say that at war against us are men who call themselves "men of jihad." The Sunni side consists of Salafists who are divided into Wahhabists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Deobandiists. On the Shiite are the Khomeinists. al-Qaeda is a neo-Wahhabist organization that is at the head of it's own global insurgency. The Sunnis want to recreate the Caliphate, and the Shiites want to establish a regional Imamate.

What's going on is a combined assault against the West, of which bomb throwing is only one tactic. The objective for the Sunnis is the Caliphate. The method by the "realist jihadists" is a sort of creeping sharia by which they take advantage of our traditions of tolerance and diversity to force an intolerant system on us.

On the one hand, Obama's spokesman says that we are "at war with al Qaeda" yet then denies that it is a global war. As mentioned above, al Qaeda sits atop a global insurgency of jihadist organizations, something explained by Lt. Col (Dr) David Kilcullen in his groundbreaking 2004 work Countering Global Insurgency. So even if you wanted to limit the threat to terrorism, it's not just al Qaeda that's after us.

Much of it is what Walid Phares calls a "War of Ideas." Which idea will take hold among more people; that life in a liberal democracy of one sort or another is better, or life under Sharia governed by a Caliph? The victor isn't the one that wins 51% of the vote or poll, it's the one whose cadres are the most clever and determined.

Either way, we can't win if we're not fighting. And Obama doesn't even think we're in a war of ideas. To him and his type it's just a big criminal investigation.

Again, from the story in the Times :

Mr. Brennan said that to say the U.S. is fighting "jihadists" is wrongheaded because it is using "a legitimate term, 'jihad,' meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal" which "risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve."

Mr. Brennan has bought into the jihadist propaganda. The proper definition of jihad is more along the lines of

"Constant effort on behalf of Allah" to spread the faith. "Historically, jihad was a state tool for war mobilization under Arab and Ottoman caliphates and various Muslim dynasties." Although "spiritual jihad" is "theoretically and philisophically possible, jihad throughout history was a state public policy on war and peace, and it was sanctioned by religious edicts."

Mr Brennan has bought into the notion that there is a "good jihad" of spiritual warfare, and a "bad jihad" which is the violent type. It's all a lot of nonsense. Walid Phares explains the propaganda message in the first paragraph and who developed it and why in the second:

The good holy war is when the right religious and political authorities declare it against the correct enemy and at the right time. The bad jihad, called also Hiraba, is the wrong war, declared by bad (and irresponsible) people against the wrong enemy (for the moment), and without an appropriate authorization by the "real" Muslim leadership. According to this thesis, those Muslims who wage a Hiraba, a wrong war, are called Mufsidoon, from the Arabic word for "spoilers." The advocates of this ruse recommend that the United States and its allies stop calling the jihadists by that name and identifying the concept of Jihadism as the problem. In short, they argue that "jihad is good, but the Mufsidoon, the bad guys and the terrorists, spoiled the original legitimate sense."

When researched, it turns out that this theory was produced by clerics of the Wahabi regime in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood as a plan to prevent jihad and Jihadism from being considered by the West and the international community as an illegal and therefore forbidden activity. It was then forwarded to American- and Western-based interest groups to be spread within the Untied States, particularly within the defense and security apparatus. Such a deception further confuses U.S. national security perception of the enemy and plunges democracies back into the "black hole" of the 1990's. This last attempt to blur the vision of democracies can be exposed with knowledge of the jihadi terror strategies and tactics, one of which is known as Taqiya, the doctrine on deception and deflection.

President Obama has done more to set us back in our war against the jihadists in six months than President Carter did against he Soviets in his first two years in office. That's quite a record.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The "One-War Only" Fallacy

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen had this to say yesterday:

The top U.S. uniformed military officer Wednesday offered a bleak assessment of the war in Afghanistan, saying that years of neglect before the Obama administration had starved the U.S.-led effort of funds and diplomatic heft - a condition he called "a culture of poverty."

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times that nearly eight years after the war began, the U.S. military is still digging its way "out of a hole" and has not reached "year zero" in the campaign to turn back Taliban advances and gain the trust of the Afghan people....

He said a strategy devised since President Obama took office is intended to reverse these negative trends and hinted that another assessment to be completed late this month or in September might assign more military and civilian personnel to the war and to Afghan development.

Three points here

One, it is true that we did not send enough troops and material to Afghanistan when Bush was president, and I am glad that Obama has reversed this. We should have paid more attention to what was going on there and done whatever it took financially to provide more resources. As part of this I am glad that President Obama rejected a minimalist approach and last March announced that he was sending more resources to our commanders.

Two, let's still be clear that this is an insurgency in one of the poorest nations on the planet and not World War II. I've written the how and why about this a zillion times here on this blog, and go here for details, but if you're hoping for a quick victory in any insurgency you're going to be disappointed. They've long by their very nature, and for various reasons the one in Afghanistan will probably be on the long end of long insurgencies.

Three, let's get over this ridiculous notion that we cannot fight two wars at the same time.

During WWII we fought two high-intensity wars on opposite sides of the world at the same time. We took on Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy (ok we could have beat them with a brigade of Boy Scouts) and the Empire of Japan all at once. It was hard and took everything we had, but we produced hundreds of warships, thousands of transport and merchant ships, and put twelve million men in uniform. And we did it with a far smaller population and coming out of the Great Depression.

Our strategy during the Cold War was to fight two and a half wars at the same time. The idea was that if the balloon went up we'd fight one in Europe against the Soviets, one in the Pacific against the Soviets and China, and a half war somewhere else like Central America or against Cuba. The details of this changed over time, and some argued that it was beyond our reach, but at least we tried to provide resources for it.

Since 2003 we have been told by some that we can't even to fight two low-intensity wars that are very near each other simultaneously. One of the primary arguments against Iraq was that it we couldn't fight it and Afghanistan simultaneously.

Now, as I said earlier, it's legitimate to argue that Bush took his eye off of Afghanistan while concentrating on Iraq. But the conclusion I take from that is that he should have been able to fight both. It is silly to say that we can only concentrate on one at a time.

If we could fight World War II and the Cold War on multiple fronts, we can certainly fight two insurgencies at once.

Posted by Tom at 8:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 6, 2009

Afghanistan Briefing - 04 August 2009 - New Rules of Engagement

This briefing is by Major General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander of Combined Joint Task Force-82 and Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division, who on Tuesday spoke via satellite with reporters at the Pentagon.

What is important for this briefing is that the new commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, instituted new and more strict Rules of Engagement (ROE). Briefly stated, ROE determine not only when we can and cannot shoot, but when a commander must consult a higher authority, and so on.

To understand the command structure, we'll just quote Scaparrotti from the briefing:

Two months ago, the 82nd Airborne Division Headquarters replaced the 101st Airborne Division Headquarters -- that was Combined Joint Task Force 101 -- during the 3 June transition of authority ceremony at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Since then, Combined Joint Task Force 82 has worked hard to build on the work of the 101st with Afghan government officials and Afghan National Security Forces within the 14 provinces of Regional Command East. Although predominantly Army, we have significant contributions from the Navy, Marines, Air Force and Special Operations.

This and other videos can be seen at DODvClips. The Pentagon Channel also has videos and news stories, so visit it as well.

The transcript is at DefenseLink.

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: ... Here in RC East, our main priorities are to protect the population, to help build the Afghan government's capacity to serve its people, and to help enable sustainable development to improve the lives of all Afghans. The security of the Afghan people is our main focus, and we carry that out through close partnering with Afghan government officials and Afghan National Security Forces.

A key part of our approach is information, which we see as the key domain in counterinsurgency. We understand that the true center of gravity is not the Taliban but the willing support of the Afghan people. Here in RC East, we're working hard not only to counter the enemy's propaganda and misinformation, but to anticipate and expose them. We are doing this by taking a proactive approach to seize and retain the initiative by preempting events and exploiting opportunities. We see the information line of operation as our primary line of operation.

This is straight out of Gen. Petraeus' U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24 (released Dec 2006). The mistake we made before the change in strategy that accompanied the "surge" in Iraq was that we thought that the insurgents were the center of gravity. In retrospect this was a mistake, as you cannot shoot your way out of an insurgency, and chasing them around the countryside is just what they want.

Of all the lessons in FM 3-24, the most important is that victory is completely dependent on winning over the people:

A-60 ...Whatever else is done, the focus must remain on gaining and maintaining the support of the population. With their support, victory is assured; without it, COIN efforts cannot succeed.

The general again;

GEN. SCAPARROTTI: ...This month, Afghans will go to the polls to choose their next president. The Afghan elections are one of the most important things that will happen during our deployment. Close to 1.5 million people in RC East are now registered as first-time voters for the upcoming election on 20 August.

The purpose of elections, of course, is to establish legitimacy. If the people perceive that their government is legitimate, cares about them and is concerned about their interests, counterinsurgents can win. If not they the insurgents will win.

On with the Q & A. We'll only look at one exchange.

As mentioned at the beginning, newly installed General McChrystal issued new Rules of Engagement (ROE) designed to reduce civilian casualties.

From an AP story last month:

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan will soon order U.S. and NATO forces to break away from fights with militants hiding among villagers, an official said Monday, announcing one of the strongest measures yet to protect Afghan civilians.

The most contentious civilian casualty cases in recent years occurred during battles in Afghan villages when U.S. airstrikes aimed at militants also killed civilians. American commanders say such deaths hurt their mission because they turn average Afghans against the government and international forces ...

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who took command of international forces in Afghanistan this month, has said his measure of effectiveness will be the "number of Afghans shielded from violence" -- not the number of militants killed.

Many on the right bemoan any restrictions on the use of force by our troops, seeing them as hindering their ability to fight and win. "Take the gloves off!" is a typical refrain.

Part of this is a reaction to Vietnam, where our air forces were restricted in what they could attack because policy makers feared killing Russian advisers and thus sparking World War III. The lessons of the Korean War were also paramount, where we turned an eight month victory over North Korea into a three year slugfest with China.

Part also is ignorance. FM 3-24 is the result of almost two years of intense research into all 20th century insurgencies, and one of it's key findings was that

1-150 SOMETIMES, THE MORE FORCE IS USED, THE LESS EFFECTIVE IT IS Any use offeree produces many effects, not all of which can be foreseen. The more force applied, the greater the chance of collateral damage and mistakes. Using substantial force also increases the opportunity for insurgent propaganda and to portray lethal military activities as brutal. In contrast, using force precisely and discriminately strengthens the rule of law the needs to be established. As note above, the key for counterinsurgents is knowing when more forces is needed - and when it might be counteproductive....

It worked in Iraq. While Afghanistan is different, the same general principles apply.

Those interested in serious discussion of these new ROE along with many links to others who generally know what they're talking about should go to The Captain's Journal.

To be sure, it would be helpful if we had an Afghan president who tried to explain our tactics to his people rather than just complain every time a civilian is killed. I understand that he does this partially to maintain legitimacy among his people, and this is important and not to be dismissed. That said it would be helpful if he coupled his criticism with an explanation of what we're tying to do and a frank admission that some civilian casualties are unavoidable.

With all this in mind, let's look at the relevant exchange

Q General, it's Luis Martinez with ABC News. General McChrystal issued a tactical directive recently. Can you explain what impact that may have had on the operations of your forces in your region since that directive came out? Or has this been something that -- has -- have you followed a consistent pattern even before that directive came out? GEN. SCAPARROTTI: Well, I'll take the first part. The tactical directive was issued, and General McChrystal's intent -- the center of that is the protection of the Afghan people. That's the intent of the order. And, as you probably know, it deals with the measured use of force, primarily having to do with air power, indirect fire and munitions that can cause greater property and personal damage. But, again, it is the measured use of that in order to protect the Afghan people.

In terms of the impact on operations, we have been very deliberate about our use of any munition, and, in particular, large munitions, always with the view toward being careful, that we employ munitions where we would not endanger noncombatants.

We have refocused our efforts as a result of the tactical directive, being additionally cautious in this regard.. I think that in some cases it may have slowed the pace of our operations, in the sense that we take more time. We allow a situation to develop, to ensure that we know whether or not civilians are in the area.. We may maneuver a little more, to gain a more advantageous position where we know that we can exclude any civilian casualties. We may in fact back off and cordon an area, and then call out the enemy, for instance.

So it impacts it in the sense of the pace of operations. But I would tell you that, given the predominance of our force, that we can have tactical impatience -- tactical patience, and still defeat the enemy.

Finally, the protection of the people is more important than the pursuit of an insurgent. And that's really the -- the crux of the tactical directive.

Only time will tell as to whether McChrystal's new ROEs are wise or will have to be changed. He did a good job in Iraq, where his work led to the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq in June of 2006. We'll give him some time here, and then reassess.


Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 5, 2009

I Thought that "Dissent was the Highest Form of Patriotism"

How many times during the Bush Administration did you hear that "dissent is patriotic" or "dissent is the highest form of patriotism," or some such? Too many times to count.

In my post yesterday taking President Obama to task for talking out of both sides of his mouth on single-payer, I failed to notice this tidbit from the White House website titled "Facts are Stubborn Things"

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov

Should I report myself? Or will my liberal commenters do it for me? No doubt much of what I've published counts as "disinformation" to Obama and his supporters.

At least one United States Senator, John Cornyn (R-TX) has posted an open letter to the Administration, demanding that they stop this program and asking what exactly they intend to do with information they gather about private citizens.

As I think we're all aware, citizens have been swamping "town hall" meetings set up by congressmen. Many angry comments, questions, and yelling have been directed at Democrats who voted with Obama.

Here's one in which Congressman Steve Kagen's (D-WI) "Listening Session" turned into something of a shouting session. (h/t both videos Mike's America)

Here's another, in which turncoat Arlen Spectre and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius get an earful from Pennsylvanians

Now, I'm very much against shouting speakers down. And if that occurs I condemn it. There's nothing wrong though with speakers angrily making their views known, and there's nothing wrong with a few catcalls from the audience.

Here's a DNC ad attacking these people as "an angry mob"

And indeed in a statement issued by the DNC

The Republicans and their allied groups - desperate after losing two consecutive elections and every major policy fight on Capitol Hill - are inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right wing extremists funded by K Street Lobbyists to disrupt thoughtful discussions about the future of health care in America taking place in Congressional Districts across the country....

The right wing extremists' use of things like devil horns on pictures of our elected officials, hanging members of Congress in effigy, breathlessly questioning the President's citizenship and the use of Nazi SS symbols and the like just shows how outside of the mainstream the Republican Party and their allies are. This type of anger and discord did not serve Republicans well in 2008 - and it is bound to backfire again.

As Michael Goldfarb asks, "Am I missing something or isn't this exactly the kind of behavior that Democrats encouraged for the last, oh, five or so years of the Bush administration. ...And are Democrats really going to complain about people using Nazi imagery to criticize a sitting president?"

Only problem is that it wasn't so long ago that Obama organized just these sorts of angry mobs himself.

During the campaign Obama told his supporters that

"I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face," he said.

And were told incessantly that Obama's experience as a "community organizer" uniquely qualified him to be president. Guy Benson at NRO's Media Blog links to a March 2007 story in The New Republic titled "The Agitator." From the TNR story:

...After Obama arrived [in Chicago], he sat down for a cup of coffee in Hyde Park with a fellow organizer named Mike Kruglik. Obama's work focused on helping poor blacks on Chicago's South Side fight the city for things like job banks and asbestos removal. His teachers were schooled in a style of organizing devised by Saul Alinsky, the radical University of Chicago-trained social scientist. At the heart of the Alinsky method is the concept of "agitation"-- making someone angry enough about the rotten state of his life that he agrees to take action to change it; or, as Alinsky himself described the job, to "rub raw the sores of discontent."

...[Organizer] Kruglik remembers this episode as an example of why, in ten years of training organizers, Obama was the best student he ever had. He was a natural, the undisputed master of agitation...he could be aggressive and confrontational.

Also linked to by Benson is a September 2008 story by Stanley Kurtz in the New York Post titled "O's Dangerous Pals." Following are excerpts:

One key pioneer of ACORN's subprime-loan shakedown racket was Madeline Talbott - an activist with extensive ties to Barack Obama. She was also in on the ground floor of the disastrous turn in Fannie Mae's mortgage policies. Long the director of Chicago ACORN, Talbott is a specialist in "direct action" - organizers' term for their militant tactics of intimidation and disruption. Perhaps her most famous stunt was leading a group of ACORN protesters breaking into a meeting of the Chicago City Council to push for a "living wage" law, shouting in defiance as she was arrested for mob action and disorderly conduct. But her real legacy may be her drive to push banks into making risky mortgage loans.

...And no one has been more supportive of Madeline Talbott than Barack Obama. When Obama was just a budding community organizer in Chicago, Talbott was so impressed that she asked him to train her personal staff.

In those years, he also conducted leadership-training seminars for ACORN's up-and-coming organizers. That is, Obama was training the army of ACORN organizers who participated in Madeline Talbott's drive against Chicago's banks.

More than that, Obama was funding them. As he rose to a leadership role at Chicago's Woods Fund, he became the most powerful voice on the foundation's board for supporting ACORN and other community organizers. In 1995, the Woods Fund substantially expanded its funding of community organizers - and Obama chaired the committee that urged and managed the shift.

Barack Obama is getting a small taste of his own medicine, and it is bitter indeed.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"Saving children from depravity"

I don't normally discuss the culture wars here but it is an issue of some importance. As such, I thought this editorial by Rebecca Hagelin in last Friday's Washington Times to be quite good. I don't have any children of my own so I won't comment further myself but will let her say it for me:

Our teenagers are more sexually active than any generation of youth before them. They also are consuming more pornography and compromising basic moral standards more often. It seems that many of them have lost not only their innocence, but their conscience, too.

The plethora of negative and immoral behaviors glorified by a media world that's gone stark raving mad - combined with graphic, nonjudgmental sex education and a highly sexualized culture, in general - causes many of them to lose understanding of what is wrong and what is right.

When a young child's sensibilities are constantly violated, and he or she begins to ignore the natural pangs of guilt after yielding to cultural pressures, he or she can end up being miserable and begin to develop a hard heart and weak spirit.

If we as parents blindly turn our own hearts away from them because we're scared of confrontation, or because we're too lazy to do "the hard stuff" like fight for their integrity, we have a hand in dooming their young spirits to inner torment. And, ultimately, if the pattern continues, to the loss of basic decency and sensitivity to evil.

In chapter 32, the Psalmist reflects on the misery that comes with ignoring a guilty conscience:

"When I kept things to myself/I felt weak deep inside me./I moaned all day long./Day and night you punished me./My strength was gone as in the summer heat."

Do you really want your child to live that way?

How To Save Your Family from a loss of conscience

It's critical as a parent to take control and do everything in your power to make certain that the culture does not molest your child's young mind. Setting standards for media consumption can help avoid a lot of regrets, especially when it comes to the evil of pornography. But because we are all sinners, we also need to learn to recognize when our children might be feeling uncomfortable and guilty - and offer them hope and a way out of their despair.

Talk often about God's miracles of forgiveness, redemption and restoration. These concepts are foreign to our modern world, yet they are as tranformational today as they were for the Psalmist and when God offered his forgiveness to a sinful world as He sent His son to atone for the sins of all who would accept Him.

I John 1:9 promises: "When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Our children experience the beautiful gifts of wisdom and grace when we help them develop their conscience and teach them how to respond to feelings of guilt. We need to be bold about sharing with them the life-giving power and joy that comes with confession. Tears of repentance over wrongs done makes our hearts strong, yet malleable in the hands of a a loving God. Ignoring our sins turns us into desperate, weak souls with hearts of stone.

In Psalm 32, the author actually begins the passage with what we can look forward to when we confess our sins to the loving and merciful God:

"Happy is the person whose sins are forgiven/Whose wrongs have been pardoned./Happy is the person whom the Lord does not consider guilty,/And in whom there is nothing false."

The forgiveness and joy that comes with sincere repentance is the best news mankind has ever heard! Have your own children heard it?

• Rebecca Hagelin is a family advocate and the author of the best-seller "30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family." For more family tips, visit HowToSaveYourFamily.com or e-mail Rebecca@HowToSaveYourFamily.com.

Posted by Tom at 8:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 4, 2009

Obama Talks Out of Both Sides of His Mouth on Single-Payer

In this clip from 2003 we hear President Obama say pretty clearly that he wants a single-payer healthcare system:

"I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that's what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that's what I'd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House."

Sounds pretty straighforward to me.

In case you've been living in a cave, "single-payer" means replacing private health insurance with a government program similar to Medicare. All doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers are paid from this government fund. Universal or near-universal coverage is usually a feature. Doctors do not directly get their salaries from the government, so it is said that this is not a socialist system, but since the government pays for all covered procedures, it seems a distinction without a difference.

But let's not get off track. In response to the above video, the Obama Administration has fired back with this

Opponents of health insurance reform may find the truth a little inconvenient, but as our second president famously said, "facts are stubborn things."

Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet, breathlessly claiming, for example, to "uncover" the truth about the President's health insurance reform positions.

In this video, Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House's Health Reform Office, addresses one example that makes it look like the President intends to "eliminate" private coverage, when the reality couldn't be further from the truth.

Ok, so which is it? Obama directly contradicts himself the videos. In the one from 2003 he is quite clear that he wants single payer. In the one below he just as emphatically denies it.

In the White House video, Communications Director Linda Douglass tries to tell us that those dastardly right-wingers "taking sentences and phrases out of context and cobbling them together" to leave a false impression. They "take a phrase here and there and they cherry pick..."

This is patent nonsense. There was nothing taking out of context in the first video. Obama spoke at length and was very clear in what he meant.

The fact is that Barack Obama is a leftist more radical than he let on during the campaign, where he tried to paint himself as a moderate. This should have been no surprise to anyone who simply looked at his record. His pastor, Jeremiah Wright, wasn't shy about stating his views, and Obama sat and listened to him for 20 years. Obama also knew all about Bill Ayers but didn't find his background too objectionable to not associate with him.

Once again Obama has been caught in a video in which he revealed his true colors, and all the White House spin in the world won't change that fact.


Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 3, 2009

Is Health Care a Right?

Is heath care a right? Short answer; no.

Consider our Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Did you read it? I hope so.

Now consider Franklin Delano Roosevelts' proposed Second Bill of Rights, sometimes called his "Economic Bill of Rights"

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

Thankfully this was never formally adopted. Unfortunately some of it it has been adopted in practice, which was Roosevelt's intent. He was not one to let the Constitution stand in his way.

The difference between the two is striking. The first tells us what the government cannot do to us, the second what it should do for us. The first simply requires it to stay out of the way, the second to proactively interfere in our lives. The first describes what the government must do in cases where it wishes to charge a citizen with a crime, the latter what it must do to make us happy.

Today we are told by the left that health care is a right. The government may or may not have an obligation to provide it, but it most certainly is not a right as properly defined.

Theodore Dalyrymple has some thoughts in his piece in last week's Wall Street Journal that are well worth pondering.

If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that "someone" is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.

People sometimes argue in favor of a universal human right to health care by saying that health care is different from all other human goods or products. It is supposedly an important precondition of life itself. This is wrong: There are several other, much more important preconditions of human existence, such as food, shelter and clothing.

Everyone agrees that hunger is a bad thing (as is overeating), but few suppose there is a right to a healthy, balanced diet, or that if there was, the federal government would be the best at providing and distributing it to each and every American.

Where does the right to health care come from? Did it exist in, say, 250 B.C., or in A.D. 1750? If it did, how was it that our ancestors, who were no less intelligent than we, failed completely to notice it?

If, on the other hand, the right to health care did not exist in those benighted days, how did it come into existence, and how did we come to recognize it once it did?

When the supposed right to health care is widely recognized, as in the United Kingdom, it tends to reduce moral imagination. Whenever I deny the existence of a right to health care to a Briton who asserts it, he replies, "So you think it is all right for people to be left to die in the street?"

When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence. He cannot think of one.

Moreover, the right to grant is also the right to deny. And in times of economic stringency, when the first call on public expenditure is the payment of the salaries and pensions of health-care staff, we can rely with absolute confidence on the capacity of government sophists to find good reasons for doing bad things.

The question of health care is not one of rights but of how best in practice to organize it. America is certainly not a perfect model in this regard. But neither is Britain, where a universal right to health care has been recognized longest in the Western world.

Not coincidentally, the U.K. is by far the most unpleasant country in which to be ill in the Western world. Even Greeks living in Britain return home for medical treatment if they are physically able to do so.

The government-run health-care system--which in the U.K. is believed to be the necessary institutional corollary to an inalienable right to health care--has pauperized the entire population. This is not to say that in every last case the treatment is bad: A pauper may be well or badly treated, according to the inclination, temperament and abilities of those providing the treatment. But a pauper must accept what he is given.

Universality is closely allied as an ideal, ideologically, to that of equality. But equality is not desirable in itself. To provide everyone with the same bad quality of care would satisfy the demand for equality. (Not coincidentally, British survival rates for cancer and heart disease are much below those of other European countries, where patients need to make at least some payment for their care.)

In any case, the universality of government health care in pursuance of the abstract right to it in Britain has not ensured equality. After 60 years of universal health care, free at the point of usage and funded by taxation, inequalities between the richest and poorest sections of the population have not been reduced. But Britain does have the dirtiest, most broken-down hospitals in Europe.

There is no right to health care--any more than there is a right to chicken Kiev every second Thursday of the month.


Posted by Tom at 9:41 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack