Views on the News
November 21, 2009
Views on the News*
Obama is pursuing, with unprecedented vigor, the same policies that have for decades undermined our industrial base and yoked us to an unsustainable consumer/credit driven economy. This doubling down on Washington's past failures is destroying jobs at an alarming rate. The September trade deficit surged by 18.2%, the largest gain in ten years, and much of the deficit resulted from Americans spending “Cash-for-Clunkers” stimulus money on imported cars or "American" cars loaded to the sunroof with imported parts. In exchange for more domestic debt, we have succeeded only in creating foreign jobs. The foreign outsourcing of component manufacturing has led to consistent overstatement of U.S. GDP and productivity. The connection goes a long way to explain why we keep losing jobs even as GDP is apparently expanding. The flaw in GDP calculation allows the output of those foreign workers to be included in our domestic tally. Since we count the output but not the worker responsible for it, government statisticians attribute the gains to rising labor productivity. As long as the government props up failed companies, soaks up all available investment capital, discourages savings, punishes employers, and chases capital out of the country, jobs will continue to be lost. Anything the government does to raise the cost of employment, such as a higher minimum wage, mandated health care, or greater regulatory burdens, not only prevents new jobs from being created but also causes many that already exist to be destroyed. When the government pays people 50% to 60% of their previous wage to stay home for a year or more, many of them do just that. The stimulus bribed states to extend benefits, which have now been stretched to an unprecedented 79 weeks in 28 states and to 46 to 72 weeks in the rest. Before mid-2008, by contrast, only a few states paid jobless benefits for even a month beyond the standard 26 weeks. When you subsidize something, you get more of it, so extending unemployment benefits from 26 to 79 weeks was guaranteed to leave many more people unemployed for many more months. Now we are hearing about mistakes in the inflated “saved or created” jobs numbers that seem to be pervasive and almost cry out as being an orchestrated deception! Anything that diminishes the profit potential of extra hiring will diminish the number of job opportunities that are created. Obama has spent more money on new programs in nine months than Bill Clinton did in eight years, pushing the annual deficit to $1.4 trillion. It will be tough for many Democrats to sell themselves as deeply concerned about spending after voting for the stimulus, the bailouts, the health care legislation and a plan to address global warming, four enormous government programs. The big question for Obama and the country is whether the sudden concern about deficits will be more rhetoric than reality once his first State of the Union address concludes. Obama said "If we keep on adding to the debt . . . people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession." That's a great line, but not from a guy who plans to "keep on adding to the debt" as a conscious strategy.
There is good reason to be skeptical of this White House on its commitment since the White House has not dropped plans for an aggressive global warming bill early next year that will be loaded with new spending on green technology and jobs – that would be paid for with tax increases. Additionally, there is no evidence Democrats are willing to aggressively cut the biggest parts of the budget, such as entitlement programs and defense. If the President's summit truly intends to find the root cause of unemployment, his advisers don't need Bureau of Labor statistics or complex modeling software, just the courage to drop their dogmatic belief in central planning and embrace the laws of economics.
(“After spending binge, W.H. says it will focus on deficits” by Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei dated November 13, 2009 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29471.html
“Job Losses Demystified” by Peter Schiff dated November 14, 2009 published by Campaign for Liberty at http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=358
“The ‘stimulus’ for unemployment” by Alan Reynolds dated November 17, 2009 published by New York Post at http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/the_stimulus_for_unemployment_Q082yIXFBCIxk41lqXXt6H
“The Vacuum of American Leadership” by Mark Steyn dated November 20, 2009 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=513085 )
Instead of forthrightly dealing with the fundamental health care problems, discussion is dominated by rival factions struggling to enact or defeat President Barack Obama's agenda. What started as a plan to find ways to cover people who don't have insurance transformed into thousands of pages of new regulations, mandates, prohibitions, oversight and general central control. Our health-care system suffers from problems of cost, access and quality, and needs major reform. Tax policy drives employment-based insurance; this begets over-insurance and drives costs upward while creating inequities for the unemployed and self-employed. Meanwhile a regulatory morass limits innovation and deep flaws in Medicare and Medicaid drive spending without optimizing care. The various bills do deal with access by expanding Medicaid and mandating subsidized insurance at substantial cost, and thus addresses an important social goal. However, there are no provisions to substantively control the growth of costs or raise the quality of care, so the overall effort will fail to qualify as a “reform.” The near unanimity of opinion that, whatever its shape, the final legislation that will emerge from Congress will markedly accelerate national health-care spending rather than restrain it. Nearly all agree that the legislation would do little or nothing to improve quality or change health-care's dysfunctional delivery system. The system we have now promotes fragmented care and makes it more difficult than it should be to assess outcomes and patient satisfaction. The true costs of health care are disguised, competition based on price and quality are almost impossible, and patients lose their ability to be the ultimate judges of value. Worse, currently proposed federal legislation would undermine any potential for real innovation in insurance and the provision of care. It would do so by over-regulating the health-care system in the service of special interests such as insurance companies, hospitals, professional organizations and pharmaceutical companies, rather than the patients who should be our primary concern. In effect, while the legislation would enhance access to insurance, the trade-off would be an accelerated crisis of health-care costs and perpetuation of the current dysfunctional system—now with many more participants. Ultimately, our capacity to innovate and develop new therapies would suffer most of all. There are important lessons to be learned from recent experience with reform in Massachusetts: insurance mandates similar to those proposed in the federal legislation succeeded in expanding coverage but despite initial predictions increased total spending. Whether the final bill includes a government-run "public option" or not, the new regulations on private policies amount to more or less the same thing as the government actually running the plan. The "health choices commissioner" will be able to approve or deny premiums, dictate coverage levels and "negotiate" prices, so the government will decide what coverage you can have, what it will cost and how much providers will get paid. The only real objective that the Obama administration has is to pass anything, so the Democrats may congratulate themselves on reducing the number of uninsured, while quietly understanding this can only be the first step of a multiyear process to more drastically change the organization and funding of health care in America.
(“Health ‘Reform’ Gets a Failing Grade” by Jeffrey S. Flier dated November 17, 2009 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704431804574539581994054014.html
“The new health care bureaucracy” by Charles M. Arlinghaus dated November 18, 2009 published by New Hampshire Union Leader at http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=How%20to%20contact%20the%20New%20Hampshire%20Union%20Leader&articleId=54f821da-e0f9-4391-929d-3537c92fa838 )
There is an air of absurdity to what Obama mistakenly calls "health-care reform,” since everyone knows that the United States faces massive governmental budget deficits as far as calculators can project, driven heavily by an aging population and uncontrolled health costs. As we recover slowly from a devastating recession, it's widely agreed that, though deficits should not be cut abruptly (lest the economy resume its slump), a prudent society would embark on long-term policies to control health costs, reduce government spending and curb massive future deficits. Their far-reaching overhaul of the health-care system -- which Congress is halfway toward enacting -- would almost certainly make matters worse. It would create new, open-ended medical entitlements that threaten higher deficits and would do little to suppress surging health costs. But reconciling blatantly contradictory objectives requires Democrats to engage in willful self-deception, public dishonesty, or both. The campaign to pass Obama's health-care plan has assumed a false, though understandable, cloak of moral superiority. The pretense of moral superiority further erodes before all the expedient deceptions used to sell Obama's health-care agenda. The president says that he won't sign legislation that adds to the deficit. One way to accomplish this is to put costs outside the legislation such as the $250 Billion “doc fix” to hide the total costs in the budget. Another way to disguise the costs is to count savings that, though they exist on paper, will probably never be realized in practice. Equally misleading, Obama's top economic advisers assert that the present proposals would slow the growth of overall national health spending even though outside studies disagree. Three studies (two by the consulting firm the Lewin Group for the Peterson Foundation and one by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency) conclude that various congressional plans would increase national health spending compared with the effect of no legislation. The studies variously estimate that the extra spending, over the next decade, would be $750 billion, $525 billion and $114 billion. The reasoning: greater use of the health-care system by the newly insured would overwhelm cost-saving measures (bundled payments, comparative effectiveness research, tort reform), which are either weak or experimental. Though these estimates could prove wrong, they are more plausible than the administration's self-serving claims. The House and Senate health-care plans are not "comprehensive," as Obama and the New York Times (in its news columns) assert, because it slights cost control. Obama is choosing to emphasize the politically appealing path of expanding benefits rather than first attending to the harder and more urgent task of controlling spending.
(““ObamaCare: Buy Now, Pay Later” by Robert Samuelson dated November 16, 2009 published by Real Clear Markets at http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2009/11/16/obamacare_buy_now_pay_later.html )
Far from providing "affordable" care for everyone, ObamaCare would come at a painful price - higher insurance premiums, more and higher taxes, fewer jobs, lower wages, a reduced standard of living and an erosion of privacy and individual liberty. Here's the real cost of ObamaCare:
· Higher Premiums - Billions in new taxes and fees would be imposed on health insurers and companies and costs which would be passed on to the consumer as higher premiums.
· Higher Taxes -Paid for with "huge tax increases" - raise taxes by $2.3 trillion over the next two decades.
· Lower Wages/Fewer Jobs - New taxes and fees imposed on businesses would discourage companies from hiring or continuing to employ low-income and moderate-income workers.
· Standard of Living Erosion - The massive government spending required to finance national health care would explode the federal deficit with ruinous consequences for every American's standard of living.
· Medicare Benefit Cuts - Cuts to Medicare Advantage could lead many plans to limit the benefits they offer, raise their premiums, or withdraw from the program, devastating seniors' health-care options and cuts in Medicare's price controls will cause many doctors to quit the program.
· Loss of Privacy - Requires a larger, more powerful IRS, and ensures that more of your personal information is shared with more people.
· Loss of Freedom - Requires, under threat of penalty, every American to have insurance, fundamentally altering the relationship between citizen and state.
ObamaCare won't save us money, nationally or individually. Public support for the bill will plummet as details are revealed, notably:
· The $400 billion cut in Medicare.
· The inevitable scarcity that will result from the addition of 35 million new patients with no new doctors or nurses.
· The fine on the uninsured of 2.5% of their income if they don't buy insurance.
· The high cost of these mandatory insurance policies ($15,000 per family).
· The low level of subsidy available for the uninsured (only after they pay 8% to 12% of their incomes).
· The likelihood of a $1,700 increase in the average family's premiums.
· The possibility of up to five years in prison for failing to buy insurance or pay the fine.
· The taxation of medical devices like pacemakers, wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, hearing aids, etc.
· The tax on sick people (increasing the threshold for deducting medical expenses from 7.5% to 10% of income.
· The additional fiscal burden on the states of the increase in Medicaid eligibility.
· The 40% tax on health insurance premiums that will effect households earning more than $75,000 by the fifth year of the plan.
ObamaCare will increase insurance premiums, raise taxes, depress wages, siphon jobs, explode the deficit, reduce our living standard, rob us of privacy and erode our personal liberty.
(“No Free Lunch: The True Cost of ObamaCare” by Matt Patterson dated November 13, 2009 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/MattPatterson/2009/11/13/no_free_lunch_the_true_cost_of_obamacare
“Defeat ObamaCare in Detail” by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann dated November 14, 2009 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/DickMorrisandEileenMcGann/2009/11/14/defeat_obamacare_in_detail )
By proposing a health-care bill of their own, Republicans can throw the extraordinary weaknesses of the Democratic bills into stark relief. In the wake of the Congressional Budget Office’s recent scoring of aspects of the House Republican bill, there is now an opening for Republicans to provide a clear contrast with the proposed Democratic overhaul. The overwhelming margin of 50% to 9% of Americans think they would personally have to pay more if the Democrats pass a bill. The Senate Republicans should take the House Republican bill and add a $2,000 per person ($4,000 per family) tax credit, refundable, advanceable, and usable only to buy insurance, for those without employer-based health coverage. The relative strengths and weaknesses are very apparent, and here is the comparison:
· The Democrat bill would raise taxes and fines on Americans by over half a trillion dollars; the Republican bill wouldn’t impose any new taxes or fines.
· The Democrat bill would provide strong incentives for people not to buy insurance until they are already sick or injured, raising premiums for everyone else in the process; the Republican bill would provide strong incentives and opportunities for people to buy insurance, letting them shop across state lines for the best values from coast to coast.
· The Democrat bill would fail to end runaway medical-malpractice suits, which cause doctors to practice costly defensive medicine, stop practicing in certain areas, and pass along expensive malpractice premiums to patients; the Republican bill would end such runaway suits saving Americans in health costs.
· The Democrat bill would funnel those without employer-provided insurance into government-run exchanges, where plans would look similar because the government would tell companies how they have to look; the Republican bill would keep alive and even expand the private market.
· The Democrat bill would require younger Americans to subsidize the premiums of older Americans, banning private companies from offering plans to younger people at their true price; the Republican bill would not impose this heavy burden on young adults.
· The Democrat bill would limit the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs); the Republican bill would encourage HSAs, private control, and price-consciousness.
· The Democrat bill would result in an additional 27 million Americans having insurance, at a cost of $31,000 per newly insured American; the Republican bill would result in about 15 million more Americans having insurance, at a cost of less than $15,000 per newly insured American.
· The Democrat bill would siphon over $400 billion out of already-barely-solvent Medicare; the Republican bill wouldn’t touch Medicare.
· The CBO is skeptical if the Democrat Congress will actually cut Medicare payments causing deficits to increase by over $300 billion; the Republican bill would be deficit-neutral and would even provide a slight surplus.
· The Democrat bill would likely raise Americans’ insurance premiums substantially; the Republican bill would lower Americans’ insurance premiums significantly.
The Republican bill would have no obvious weaknesses. Aside from inefficiently and expensively increasing the number of insured, the Democrat bill would have no obvious strengths. Republicans could offer an extraordinarily popular health bill that meets both widely stated goals of health-care reform: lowering costs and decreasing the number of uninsured, and it would do so sensibly, affordably, and unobtrusively. In comparison, the Democrat bill would appear all the more plainly irresponsible, profligate, and counterproductive.
(“Roadmap to Victory” by Tevi Troy and J.H.Anderson dated November 19, 2009 published by National Review Online at http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MmFmNzA3MzNlOWRmYTJjY2YwYTk4MmZmZDc2NjJlMDk= )
Even with everything else on its agenda, the Obama administration has declared itself ready to plunge forward on an issue likely to be as contentious and exhausting to the nation as health care reform, namely a new effort to restructure our immigration laws. The Obama administration will insist on measures to give legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants as it pushes early next year for legislation to overhaul the immigration system, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. Napolitano said that the Border Patrol had grown by 20,000 officers and that more than 600 miles of border fence had been finished, meeting security benchmarks set by Congress in 2007. She said a sharp reduction in the flow of illegal immigrants into the country created an opportunity to move ahead with a legalization program. Obama is likely to leave the current misnamed ‘family unification' system of awarding visas as the cornerstone of our immigration policy and spend virtually all of his political capital on finding ways to negotiate an acceptable compromise about the fate of illegal immigrants. Meanwhile other countries tilted their policies toward focusing on those with skills and talents most likely to succeed in and contribute to a late 20th century developed economy. Laying out the administration’s bottom line, Napolitano said officials would argue for a “three-legged stool” that includes tougher enforcement laws against illegal immigrants and employers who hire them and a streamlined system for legal immigration, as well as a “tough and fair pathway to earned legal status.” Napolitano unveiled a double-barrel argument for a legalization program, saying it would enhance national security and, as the economy climbs out of recession, protect American workers from unfair competition from lower-paid, easily exploited illegal immigrants. Under the administration’s plan, illegal immigrants who hope to gain legal status would have to register, pay fines and all taxes they owe, pass a criminal background check and learn English. Comprehensive immigration reform was defeated in 2007 because most people did not believe that amnesty for illegal immigrants will work any better than the last time it was tried in 1987, so expect another Tea Party-like response to this attempt to inflict another bad liberal idea on America.
(“White House Plan on Immigration Includes Legal Status” by Julia Preston dated November 14, 2009 published by The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/14/us/politics/14immig.html?scp=1&sq=white%20house%20plan%20on%20immigration&st=cse
“Now, On to Immigration Reform” by Steven Malanga dated November 18, 2009 published by Real Clear Markets at http://www.realclearmarkets.com/printpage/?url=http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2009/11/18/and_now_on_to_immigration_reform_97515.html )
We are witnessing the voluntary relinquishment of superiority by an American President too awash in political correctness, too disaffected to understand the significance of their country's important role in historic human events, and too spoiled by freedom and success to understand the responsibility inherited from their ancestors. Barack Obama, socialist, conciliator, passivist, (and consummate bower) is not a student of history, let alone an individual with love for his country. Much has been written about his past associations, his socialist upbringing, his Muslim connections, and his inexperience. Notwithstanding, he was elected to the highest office in the land and he is the leader of the free world in fact. His inexperience, his passivity, and his ignorance of history permeate his foreign policy strategies to date. The freedom loving people the world over who are, and will continue to be, the ones who will pay the price for his misguided decisions. In Obama's vision of the world, rich people are the enemy. Individuals who have taken advantage of hard work, capitalism, and entrepreneurial opportunities epitomize evil in the eyes of the decision-makers in the White House. People are starting to notice that what Barack Obama touches does not turn to gold; it turns to rust and quickly fades away:
· When Barack Obama determines that he will instill peace in the Mideast on his own very naďve, uneducated terms - the result is a prolonged conflict, greater levels of violence, and disruption to the elected government of Israel (perhaps his goal).
· When Barack Obama determines that he will support the illegally elected government in Iran at the expense of the freedom loving citizens of that nation - the result is the death and imprisonment of innocent civilians and popular resentment rather than support of America; and the continued unhindered development of nuclear weapons, the abduction of United States tourists to be used as negotiating tools, and the continued shipment of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist organizations across the globe.
· When Barack Obama sends his minions into our peaceful ally in Central America in order to influence its sovereign constitutional determination to oust a power-grabbing dictatorial president - the result is an extended conflict and complete disarray lasting months longer than had we not meddled in the country's domestic affairs; and the increased confidence of dictators Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro to continue to oppress their people without interference from the United States.
· When Barack Obama decides to renege on missile defense agreements with the Czech Republic and Poland - the result is a lack of trust in America's word across the globe and the risk of further aggression by neighboring Russia.
I have no idea what Barack Obama stands for other than a weakened America based on his resentment of perceived inequities of its citizens, but he has a responsibility as our President to also further the values on which this country was founded.
(“Hit the Reset Button on Obama’s Foreign Policy Agenda” by Lauri B. Regan dated November 18, 2009 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/hit_the_reset_button_on_obamas.html )
The announcement that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and other top al-Qaeda terrorists will be transferred to Manhattan federal court, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, for civilian trials neatly fits Eric Holder’s hidden political agenda. The continuing investigations of Bush-era counterterrorism policies (i.e., the policies that kept us safe from more domestic terror attacks), coupled with the Justice Department's obsession to disclose classified national-defense information from that period, enable Holder to give the hard Left the "reckoning" that he and Obama promised during the 2008 campaign. Terrorists are not even entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention, much less the Constitution of the United States. The current special military tribunals were created by the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which was adopted with bipartisan Congressional support after the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision obliged the executive and legislative branches to approve a detailed plan to prosecute the illegal "enemy combatants" captured since 9/11. Before the Obama Administration stopped all proceedings earlier this year, the tribunals at Guantanamo had earned a reputation for fairness and independence. Nothing results in more disclosures of government intelligence than civilian trials. Trials are a banquet of information, not just at the discovery stage but in the trial process itself, where witnesses and intelligence sources must expose themselves and their secrets. We need to remember that KSM and his confederates wanted to plead guilty and have their martyrs' execution last December, when they were being handled by military commission. Their lawyers are certain to challenge all evidence obtained after KSM's March 2003 capture on grounds that it was produced by "torture," if you call “waterboarding” torture. KSM said at a hearing in 2007, "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z," but even that admission will probably be challenged on grounds that the trauma of his "torture" means he wasn't capable of "informed consent." Moreover, KSM has no defense. He was under American indictment for terrorism for years before there ever was a 9/11, and he can't help himself but brag about the atrocities he and his fellow barbarians have carried out. So we are now going to have a trial that never had to happen for defendants who have no defense. When defendants have no defense for their own actions, there is only one thing for their lawyers to do: put the government on trial in hopes of getting the jury (and the media) spun up over government errors, abuses and incompetence. It will be a soapbox for al-Qaeda's case against America. Since that will be their "defense," the defendants will demand every bit of information they can get about interrogations, renditions, secret prisons, undercover operations targeting Muslims and mosques, etc., and, depending on what judge catches the case, they are likely to be given a lot of it. The administration will be able to claim that the judge, not the administration, is responsible for the exposure of our defense secrets. The circus will be played out for all to see, in the middle of the war. By granting a civil trial to KSM, while Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who bombed the USS Cole in Yemen, will receive a military tribunal, the U.S. telegraphs this message to terrorists: Wherever possible, attack our civilians. You'll get more lawyering and a better deal than if you attack our military. This trial will provide endless fodder for the transnational Left to press its case that actions taken in America's defense are violations of international law that must be addressed by foreign courts and will not make America any safer or justice to be served!
(“Holden’s Hidden Agenda” by Andrew McCarthy dated November 13, 2009 published by National Review Online at http://corner.nationalreview.com/
“KSM Hits Manhattan - Again” dated November 14, 2009 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703683804574533622533459520.html
“Holder’s True Motive” by Mona Charen dated November 20, 2009 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/11/20/holders_true_motive_99239.html )
The mounting evidence that the Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was motivated by Islamist beliefs, the media has turned to Middle East studies "experts" for enlightenment who proceeded to obfuscate and defend his actions. President Obama told the media in Alaska that he opposes a congressional investigation into the Fort Hood massacre, saying that we must “resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into political theater.” Yet, even as he was posturing against political theatrics, he had just decided that the prosecution of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would proceed on the greatest of public stages, New York City. The Obama administration has a clear agenda here:
· Stop people from focusing in how his administration permitted the worst domestic terror attack in eight years.
· Avoid a national airing of how liberal policies, restraints on the intelligence community, political correctness in the armed forces, might have inhibited the military from reining in Hasan.
· Re-ignite a firestorm on the left and abroad against the aggressive anti-terror policies of the Bush administration.
Instead, what the media, and, by extension, the American public, has received is the moral relativism and obfuscation that too often meets any effort to address Islamism or jihadism in an intellectually honest manner. Major Hasan came to the attention of the FBI in December 2008 as part of an unrelated investigation being conducted by one of our Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs). JTTFs are FBI-led, multi-agency teams made up of FBI agents, other federal investigators, including those from the Department of Defense, and state and local law enforcement officers. Investigators on the JTTF reviewed certain communications between Major Hasan and the subject of that investigation and assessed that the content of those communications was consistent with research being conducted by Major Hasan in his position as a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Medical Center. If they had performed even a cursory, unobtrusive examination of this man, his contacts, and his radical views, they would have quickly turned up a great deal of troubling information. If not for the politically correct environment created by apologists such as CAIR, Mattson, and her academic cohorts, the numerous warnings from Hasan's colleagues about his predilection for fanatical and threatening commentary might not have gone unheeded or been met with naďveté and incompetence. When people are afraid to speak the truth for fear of being branded racists or "Islamophobes," it can have dire consequences. In fact, the U.S. military invested significant resources in Hasan's lengthy career, and trusted him with the mental health of its soldiers, only to be rewarded by treason and mass murder. Instead of explaining events like the Fort Hood shooting to the American public, all too often Middle East studies academics refuse to state the obvious and choose to obfuscate rather than clarify the events at hand. The seriousness of this atrocity, the acuteness of the intelligence failure, and the administration's demonstrated commitment to political correctness over honest inquiry all demand a comprehensive external investigation.
(“Fort Hood and the Academic Apologists” by Cinnamon Stillwell dated November 15, 2009 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/fort_hood_and_the_academic_apo.html
“Why Obama Nixed the Ft. Hood Probe” by Dick Morris dated November 17, 2009 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2009/11/17/why-obama-nixed-the-ft-hood-probe-by-dick-morris/
“Connecting the Dots” by Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn dated November 23, 2009 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/017/225edzea.asp )
It is understandable that Obama wants to think carefully before almost doubling our force in Afghanistan as requested by LTG Stanley McChrystal, but the President’s deliberations have begun to take on an element of farce. Don’t forget: McChrystal is Obama’s hand-picked general, sent to Afghanistan to carry out the “comprehensive” strategy Obama announced in the spring. Obama isn’t drilling down on a strategy that has failed, as Bush had to do in Iraq at the end of 2006, he’s reconsidering his own strategy before it’s been given a chance to work. It is hard to see how Eikenberry and McChrystal can work together effectively with the ambassador so publicly on the record against the general’s strategy. One of the reasons the surge worked in Iraq is that LTG David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker forged a nearly seamless working relationship that should be studied in textbooks for years. Eikenberry’s cable gambit is the latest instance of an Obama diplomat making a mockery of “smart power.” Between Dick Holbrooke’s becoming basically persona non grata in Afghanistan, Christopher Hill’s leaving a vacuum in Iraq, and George Mitchell’s rushing the Mideast “peace process” to a worse place than it was when he started, Obama’s team has managed an early record of glaring diplomatic ineptitude that suggests “smart power” is neither. The Obama administration would be much better advised to consider Karzai a flawed partner rather than a punching bag. If we want Karzai to improve, we’ll need to work through problems with him rather huff-and-puff with ultimatums (pulling out, or drawing down) that we can’t follow through on without damaging our own interests. Improvement in security is not going to happen in Afghanistan unless McChrystal gets his additional troops. Obama gives every sign of wanting to flinch from this fact and find a clever way around it. According to news reports, Obama has been evaluating troop numbers province-by-province in Afghanistan, a level of detail that should be well beneath his pay grade, and above his experience and competence. All of this is needlessly complicating what is a momentous but relatively simple decision. If the Afghan war is important enough that we need to win it, and if counter-insurgency is the only way to do it — conclusions that most members of Obama’s national-security team, from Hillary Clinton to Bob Gates to chairman of the joint chiefs Admiral Mullen, already have reached — then McChrystal must get his troops. Incredibly enough, the cost of the war has reportedly become a major element of the White House’s deliberations. Obama nearly tripled the projected national debt over ten years in the first few months of his administration without a second thought, and desperately wants to add more with his dubiously financed health-care plan. Obama is not searching for a victory strategy, but a strategy that will ensure an American departure, preferably before he leaves office. President Obama’s apparent reluctance to pursue the fight does not inspire confidence and troop morale is plummeting while he dithers on what to do in Afghanistan: run, hide, or surrender? He obviously is trying to lower political expectations with an artificial timetable for retreat to satisfy his leftist base, which is quickly translated into a Taliban timetable for victory. Like all battle plans, any timetable must be held in secrecy to deny enemies any advantage. The question is whether Obama wants to devote time and energy to defending the war, when he has priorities he cares about much more — namely expanding the size of government here at home as rapidly as possible.
(“Fumbling on Afghanistan” dated November 16, 2009 published by National Review Online at http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDMwNTc2NWFkOGIxODVjY2I1NjdlOTA4OTZhY2MwZDY=
“The President’s Timetable for Retreat” dated November 18, 2009 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=512842 )
The Mainstream Media tries to cast Sarah Palin as the most polarizing and unpopular politician in the country, but polls show that she represents the core principles that make America exceptional. The irony is that her appeal has increased in the wake of her catastrophic political expeditions. The answer lies beyond the realm of polls and punditry in the political psychology of the movement that animates and, to a great degree, controls the Republican grass roots -- a uniquely evangelical subculture defined by the personal crises of its believers and their perceived persecution at the hands of cosmopolitan elites. The best thing she has done is to abandon the liberal Mainstream Media as her primary communications vehicle and instead embraced the internet for broadcasting her messages. By emphasizing her own crises and her victimization by the "liberal media," Palin has established an intimate bond with adherents of that subculture -- one so visceral it transcends rational political analysis. As a result, her career has become a vehicle through which the right-wing evangelical movement feels it can express its deepest identity in opposition both to secular society and to its representatives in the Obama White House. Palin’s book tour takes a page right out of Ronald Reagan’s political playbook and Sam Walton’s economic playbook: “go where there's demand and the competition ain't.” Her tour focuses on mainstream America, outside the major urban areas, since “heartlanders” are feeling awfully ignored and used by Washington politicians. Palin is perceived by its leaders, and followers, not as another cynical politician or self-promoting celebrity, but as a kind of magical helper, the God-fearing glamour girl who parachuted into their backwater towns to lift them from the drudgery of daily life, assuring them that they represented the "real America." As Obama comes up on his first year in office, Sarah Palin still has more executive experience as a former mayor and a governor. The Democrats are terrified of Palin since she has more government experience than Obama did when he was elected, and her principles resonate with mainstream America. Sarah Palin has tapped the psyche of the American silent majority and now represents the GOP party future, whether they realize it or not yet!
(“Sarah Palin, the GOP’s blessing and curse” by Max Blumenthal dated November 15, 2009 published by The Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-blumenthal15-2009nov15,0,2142138.story
“Sarah Palin’s Walmart Strategy” by Robert Smith dated November 16, 2009 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/sarah_palins_walmart_strategy.html )
* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Individual issue updates this week include:
· Politics at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/top/politics.php
· Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php