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Showing posts from March, 2010

Shipping sand to Iraq--Really

NY Times:

On the very long and expensive list of materials that the American military had to ship to Iraq since 2003 and is now shipping out again one might not have expected to find sand. Yet there it is.This might seem strange for a country that is 10 parts sand to 1 part water, 1 part oil and 0.1 parts electricity. Counterintuitive. Absurd, even.However, American commanders overseeing the drawdown of forces and equipment currently under way from Iraq confirm that Iraqi sand was deemed inadequate for the blast walls that have become perhaps the defining visual feature of post-invasion Baghdad and other cities, stretching for mile upon mile around government ministries, airports, military bases and other important buildings.So, at no little cost, boatloads of more resilient desert had to be floated in from other countries — namely the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. And not just for blast walls.“When you start to ask why does it cost what it cost for this war, you are lik…

The dangers of rush hour?

From the Daily Mail:

Man jumps to death from Empire State Building during rush hour
Stepping out into traffic at that hour can be a killer.

Chechen confesses guilt in Moscow bombings

Telegraph:

In a chilling video posted on an internet website considered to be a mouthpiece for Russia-based radical Islamists, Doku Umarov, a Chechen-born Islamist extremist, said he had ordered the attack on Moscow in revenge for an alleged massacre of civilians perpetrated by Russian special forces in February. The alleged massacre occurred on the border between the southern Russian republics of Chechnya and Ingushetia and saw up to twenty-two people killed.
The authorities said it was a counter-terrorism operation and that the victims were Islamist militants but human rights groups claimed the victims were innocent civilians picking garlic in the forest. “Therefore the war is coming to your streets and you will feel it on your own lives and on your own skins,” Doku Umarov told ordinary Russians in the video broadcast. You will no longer ”serenely watch the war in the Caucasus unfolding on your TV screens, serenely watching and not reacting…

Hutchison postpones retirement to end of term

R.G. Ratcliffe:

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison will announce this morning that she plans to complete her term rather than resign early as she had planned, sources told us.Hutchison had wanted to make the announcement in Dallas, but U.S. Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky were planning to be in San Antonio today for a National Republican Senatorial Committee fundraiser so the event was set for this morning at Landmark Aviation.Hutchison, who was first elected to the Senate in a special election in 1993, won re-election to a third full term in 2006. Her term runs through 2012....
I am not surprised. I am sure her colleagues are happy to have her stay, but I was really looking forward to having Michael Williams take her place. I guess that will have to wait for a couple of years.

Texas cities lead nation in growth

Joel Kotkin:

One of the most ironic aspects of our putative "Age of Obama" is how little impact it has had on the nation's urban geography. Although the administration remains dominated by boosters from traditional blue state cities--particularly the president's political base of Chicago--the nation's metropolitan growth continues to shift mostly toward a handful of Sunbelt red state metropolitan areas.Our Urbanist in Chief may sit in the Oval Office, but Americans continue to vote with their feet for the adopted hometown of widely disdained former President George W. Bush. According to the most recent Census estimates, the Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas, region added 146,000 people between 2008 and 2009--the most of any region in the country--a healthy 2.3% increase.
Other Texas cities also did well. Longtime rival Houston sat in second, with an additional 140,000 residents. Smaller Austin added 50,000--representing a remarkable 3% growth--while San Anto…

Obama and the Tea Party Movement

Jim Geraghty:

...

A guy who has dramatically expanded the federal government’s role in banks, student loans, auto making, health care, real estate, insurance, and energy industries is lamenting that people are calling him a socialist. What more does he have to do before the label becomes less than outlandish, establish SMERSH? Note the not-too-subtle sleight of hand in the way Obama lumps together Birthers with the general opposition to him. I haven’t been to a tea party since last fall, but has anybody seen any signs or chants focusing on the Kenyan Secret Agent theory? Isn’t the general outrage focused a bit more on the here and now and how we’re getting the rawest deal since Arnold Schwarzenegger took on the mob? (Pardon me, I meant the raw f’ing deal, as Vice President Coprolalia would put it.) President Obama, we’ve moved on from your Kenyan birth. It’s time you did the same.
That is an impressive list of take overs. But in many ways, what Obama is doing is worse …

Afghan, Pakistan Taliban at odds

Ralph Peters:

As an intelligence officer or journalist, you've got to know which sources you can trust. And a source who's never let me down told me yesterday that the terrorist multinational based in Pakistan is coming apart. According to this insider's insider, the Pakistan-headquartered Afghan Taliban is furious at the Taliban's Pakistani wing because its assaults on the Islamabad government triggered a stunning backlash. Unleashed at last, Pakistan's military launched a series of offensives aimed at smacking down the domestic Taliban. But those campaigns also crippled the Afghan Taliban's freedom of action -- and the murky Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) has been killing any Taliban leaders who resist its guidance. (As I've noted in past columns, Islamabad intends to dominate any Afghan peace deal.) Now Terrorist Mutt is blaming Terrorist Jeff. The news gets even better. Both Taliban wings are mocking al Qaeda as a bunch of wi…

ACLU endangers Gitmo CIA officers?

Bill Gertz:

A team of CIA counterintelligence officials recently visited the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and concluded that CIA interrogators face the risk of exposure to al Qaeda through inmates' contacts with defense attorneys, according to U.S. officials. The agency's "tiger team" of security specialists was dispatched as part of an ongoing investigation conducted jointly with the Justice Department into a program backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The program, called the John Adams Project, has photographed covert CIA interrogators and shown the pictures to some of the five senior al Qaeda terrorists held there in an effort to identify them further. Details of the review could not be learned. However, the CIA team came away from the review, conducted the week of March 14, "very concerned" that agency personnel have been put in danger by military rules allowing interaction between the five inmates and defense att…

Not too smart

From the AP:

Man fleeing Ohio police jumps fence — into prison
It does not say too much for the quality of the fence or the thinking of this perp.

Obama, Democrats embarrass themselves over corporate disclosure requirements

Opinion Journal:

So the wave of corporate writedowns—led by AT&T's $1 billion—isn't caused by ObamaCare after all. The White House claims CEOs are reducing the value of their companies and returns for shareholders merely out of political pique.A White House staffer told the American Spectator that "These are Republican CEOs who are trying to embarrass the President and Democrats in general. Where do you hear about this stuff? The Wall Street Journal editorial page and conservative Web sites. No one else picked up on this but you guys. It's BS." (We called the White House for elaboration but got no response.)In other words, CEOs who must abide by U.S. accounting laws under pain of SEC sanction, and who warned about such writedowns for months, are merely trying to ruin President Obama's moment of glory. Sure.Presumably the White House is familiar with the Financial Standard Accounting Board's 1990 statement No. 106, which requires businesses …

Offshore drilling approved in Atlantic , Eastern Gulf, off Alaska

NY Times:

The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday.

The proposal — a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations — would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean. Under the plan, the coastline from New Jersey northward would remain closed to all oil and gas activity. So would the Pacific Coast, from Mexico to the Canadian border. The environmentally sensitive Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska would be protected and no drilling would be allowed under the plan, officials said. But large tracts in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea in th…

Rocket scientist new jobs after NASA cuts

Image
Nate Beeler looks at Obama administration's approach to acceleration problems. Click on the image for a larger view.

Pakistan says Afgan's releasing Taliban they capture

Sara Carter:

Afghanistan has been releasing Taliban fighters captured in Pakistan and turned over to the Karzai government, creating a growing rift between the neighbors as they struggle to defeat insurgents, three senior Pakistani officials said.The releases have made Pakistan reluctant to turn over some top Taliban captives, the officials said. The Afghanistan Embassy declined to comment on the allegation.The Washington Examiner reviewed classified Pakistani military case summaries on roughly 1,100 captured or killed Taliban insurgents and suspected al Qaeda fighters.The reports detailed the return to Afghanistan upon the request of the Karzai government of dozens of insurgents. However, upon their return, the classified documents noted that they were "released back to the Taliban as bargaining chips in negotiations."A typical report detailed the case of a suspected Taliban named Maulvi Saeed. He was "a member [of] Taliban Shura in Kunar, planner of suicide…

Smugglers booby trap trails used by borderagents

El Paso Times/Houston Chronicle:

Drug smugglers have apparently set "booby traps" for U.S. Border Patrol agents on roads along the border near Deming, agency officials said Monday. The devices consist of barbed wire stretched like clotheslines across trails used by agents on all-terrain vehicles. The lines, which are difficult to spot, are about four feet off the ground and appear to be intended to knock a rider off the ATV.
...During the weekend, agents using an infrared camera arrested six people carrying 320 pounds of marijuana as they walked from the border toward Interstate 10 near Deming, officials said.
...
I have mentioned before the fight in Juarez is over access to I-10 which is a major distribution route. It is good to see the agents having some success in stopping the smugglers.

I think the agents can defeat the booby traps. They can rig their ATV's to protect them from the barb wire.

Iran nuke scientist defects to US

ABC News:

An award-winning Iranian nuclear scientist, who disappeared last year under mysterious circumstances, has defected to the CIAand been resettled in the United States, according to people briefed on the operation by intelligence officials.

The officials were said to have termed the defection of the scientist, Shahram Amiri, "an intelligence coup" in the continuing CIA operation to spy on and undermine Iran'snuclear program.

...

Amiri, a nuclear physicist in his early 30s, went missing last June three days after arriving in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, according to the Iranian government. He worked at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, which is closely connected to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, according to the Associated Press.

...

According to the people briefed on the intelligence operation, Amiri's disappearance was part of a long-planned CIA operation to get him to defect. The CIA reportedly approached the scientist in Iran through an interm…

UK screws up on transport plane purchase

Daily Mail:

Defence ministers are condemned today for spending up to £12.3billion on a fleet of aircraft that are unable to fly in Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Defence has bought 14 aircraft designed to transport troops and equipment and carry out air-to-air refuelling. But the Airbus A330-200 planes cannot be flown in warzones because they lack proper protection, a National Audit Office report has revealed.
Fitting them with armour, antimissile systems and early warning kit to allow them to operate in ‘high threat environments’ would cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds more, the spending watchdog said.
The programme for the tankers and transport aircraft is already running five-and-a-half years behind schedule. Opposition MPs said it highlighted the ‘utter incompetence’ of Labour’s defence procurement programme.
The delay means the RAF is forced to rely on ‘ageing and increasingly unreliable’ VC10 and Tristar aircraft, which date back to the Cold War. Extra main…

Russia fears cell of 21 Black Widows may strike

Independent:

With rumours surfacing that a cell of suicide bombers was still at large, Vladimir Putin yesterday promised those responsible for planning the Moscow attacks would be "dragged from the bottom of the sewers".The country was mourning the deaths of 39 people in Monday's twin suicide bombings on the capital's underground system, but they were also digesting a report in the Kommersant newspaper that a cell of 21 potential bombers could still strike.Moscow police continued the hunt for three people who are thought to have aided the two female suicide attackers. Photos were released of the bombers' faces, badly disfigured from the blast. One of them appeared to be a very young woman, possibly a teenager.
Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, but all signs point to it being the work of a terrorist group from Chechnya or the wider North Caucasus region.
...Citing security sources, Kommersant reported that Said Buryatsky, a leading ter…

Globo warmers want opponents to shut up

From the Telegraph:

Oil conglomerate 'secretly funds climate change deniers'
The story is about Koch industries spending a few million to support those trying to get the facts out about the globo warmer's scheme to take control of world energy. I think the headline is misleading in that most of those who got money are skeptics and not deniers. There is a difference.

I would also ad that I have not received any money from Koch or any other energy company. My skepticism has not been bought.

I frankly think that those who got the money have an honest skepticism about what the environmental wackos are pushing, and they should have the right to receive funds from any source that supports their point of view.

What groups like Greenpeace want is for people to quit challenging their point of view. That is not going to happen and they need to quit wasting their time on this kind of study and join the debate in a serious way rather than trying to insult and denigrate those who di…

Houston raises health care insurance for retirees by 50%

Houston Chronicle:

Working to close a looming $100 million budget shortfall projected for next year, Mayor Annise Parker has sharply increased the monthly insurance premiums that thousands of retired city of Houston employees must pay, prompting outrage from retirees.Beginning May 1, more than 4,000 retirees under 65 will face a nearly 50 percent increase in their insurance premiums, a budget fix the mayor imposed without consulting City Council. “The city is trying to balance their budget and they're doing so off the backs of the employees,” said Paulia Elam, a former employee of the city's legal, aviation and library departments. “These are people who worked for the city for 25, 30 years, picking up trash, crawling through sewage and, for police and firefighters, risking their lives every day. At a time in their lives when they have the most need for health care, they might not be able to afford the premiums. ...That's a tough pill to swallow.”The change mak…

Democrats resort to violence in Nevada

Fox News:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's hometown of Searchlight, Nev., served as kickoff site Saturday for the latest Tea Party Express tour -- and apparently Reid's supporters weren't too happy about it.The conservative Tea Party activists were there to protest the policies of Reid and other Democratic leaders, and Reid supporters staged their own protest, with some allegedly throwing eggs at a Tea Party Express bus.Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart said he witnessed the egg-throwing while speaking with some of the Reid supporters, though a video of the scene is inconclusive.Breitbart's story was backed up by Levi Russell, a Tea Party Express spokesman....
Democrats have been attacking Republicans with violence since the 2008 election so this is not surprising. Most of the media tends to ignore Democrat violence while suggesting that the Tea Party Movement is made up of angry violence prone people. The movement is made up of passionate people, but th…

Two-thirds say health care bill too costly, too controlling

Susan Page, USA Today:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law last week costs too much and expands the government's role in health care too far, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, underscoring an uphill selling job ahead for President Obama and congressional Democrats.Those surveyed are inclined to fear that the massive legislation will increase their costs and hurt the quality of health care their families receive, although they are more positive about its impact on the nation's health care system overall.Supporters "are not only going to have to focus on implementing this kind of major reform," says Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard. "They're going to have to spend substantial time convincing people of the concrete benefits of this legislation."The risk for them is that continued opposition will fuel calls for repeal and dog Democrats in November's congression…

Causes of Middle East anger toward US

Bret Stephens:

Pop quiz—What does more to galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world: (a) Israeli settlements on the West Bank; or (b) a Lady Gaga music video?If your answer is (b) it means you probably have a grasp of the historical roots of modern jihadism. If, however, you answered (a), then congratulations: You are perfectly in synch with the new Beltway conventional wisdom, now jointly defined by Pat Buchanan and his strange bedfellows within the Obama administration....Now consider Lady Gaga—or, if you prefer, Madonna, Farrah Fawcett, Marilyn Monroe, Josephine Baker or any other American woman who has, at one time or another, personified what the Egyptian Islamist writer Sayyid Qutb once called "the American Temptress."Qutb, for those unfamiliar with the name, is widely considered the intellectual godfather of al Qaeda; his 30-volume exegesis "In the Shade of the Quran" is canonical in jihadist circles. But Qutb, who spent time a…

Waxman's war against reality on healthy care costs

IBD Editorial:

Rep. Henry Waxman vowed to haul CEOs into hearings after they revealed just how much ObamaCare will cost their firms. It's an absurd war on bookkeeping, from a Congress desperate to avoid heat for this fiasco. In the wake of President Obama's presidential signature on the gargantuan Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last Thursday, big companies have crunched their numbers and come up with an ugly picture.In legally mandated filings, AT&T reported that ObamaCare will cost it $1 billion. Deere & Co. reported $150 million in new costs. Caterpillar must cough up $100 million. 3M must pay another $90 million. AK Steel gets to fork over $31 million. Valero Energy will pay $30 million. There'll be more as other companies report anticipated costs to fulfill their requirements to inform shareholders. What it shows is a huge wave of costs rolling over the private sector to pay for this bill.It's the real cost of ObamaCare, a bill House …

Defending Combat Outpost Kowall

Washington Times:

Surrounded by gravel-filled buttresses and manned 24 hours a day by alert American and Afghan gunners, Combat Outpost Kowall appears like an outpost under siege. It is one of the frontline posts in Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's expanded campaign to flush out a resurgent Taliban militia ahead of the major offensive on Kandahar expected in the coming months.

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The troops have reinforced the base and are supported by constant drone- and helicopter-surveillance flights. A recent enemy machine-gun attack carried out from two directions was repelled with more than 1,000 rounds, laying down "an awesome example of firepower that will discourage the Taliban from targeting our outpost again," said 1st Lt. Matthew Fernandez, commander of the base.

...

Locals in Kochnay Manarah, the village adjoining the base, appear of two minds about their new neighbors. In the absence of a school or medical doctor, illiteracy is crushing. The only source of education co…

Alawi's fight for Iraq

NY Times:

Ayad Allawi has seldom spoken publicly about the night more than 30 years ago when a pair of ax-wielding assassins turned his London bedroom into an abattoir.

Now, determined to counter charges by his political enemies that he won Iraq’s national elections by appealing to Baathists, and locked in a struggle with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to assemble a government, he offered up that story in the middle of an interview on Monday. “I was sleeping, you know, I just opened my eyes by sheer luck and saw a shadow by the bed,” he said, describing the early morning hours of Feb. 4, 1978, when he was living in Kingston upon Thames as an exile and medical student after breaking with Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. Mr. Allawi said he kicked out at the man there just as he swung an ax, nearly severing Mr. Allawi’s leg. A bloody struggle ensued, his wife jumping on one of the men’s backs, Mr. Allawi wresting one of the axes away and attacking back, until the second …

Companies looking at new fracking fluids to release natural gas

Bloomberg:

Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger Ltd., trying to forestall a regulatory crackdown that would cut natural-gas drilling, are developing ways to eliminate the need for chemicals that may taint water supplies near wells. At risk is hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process that unlocked gas deposits in shale formations and drove gains in U.S. production of the fuel. Proposed regulations might slow drilling and add $3 billion a year in costs, a government study found. As one solution, energy companies are researching ways to kill bacteria in fracturing fluids without using harmful chemicals called biocides. “The most dangerous part in the shale frack is the biocide,” said Steve Mueller, chief executive officer at Southwestern Energy Co., the biggest producer in the Fayetteville Shale of Arkansas. “That’s the number-one thing the industry is trying to find a way around.” U.S. House and Senate bills introduced in 2009 would force producers to get federal p…

Threat against Cantor leads to DNC charity donation

The Hill:

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) said Monday that it will donate money it had received from a man charged with threatening to kill a top Republican.

A DNC official said it was researching contributions made by Norman Leboon, a Philadelphia man charged Monday with threatening to kill House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and donate any money he had donated to charity.

"We are researching the matter, and any donations made to the DNC or the Obama campaign by Mr. Leboon will be donated to charity," a DNC official said.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show that Leboon had made two, separate donations to then-Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) presidential campaign. The two donations, made in June of 2008, total $505. These are the only federal contributions on record for Leboon.

...
The story indicates he has made threats against Democrats, but apparently they were not as specific as the threat against Rep. Cantor. It is rather ironic that with …

Weather forecasters don't agree with warmers

NY Times:

The debate over global warming has created predictable adversaries, pitting environmentalists against industry and coal-state Democrats against coastal liberals.

But it has also created tensions between two groups that might be expected to agree on the issue: climate scientists and meteorologists — especially those who serve as television weather forecasters. Climatologists, who study weather patterns over time, almost universally endorse the view that the earth is warming and that humans have contributed to climate change. Meteorologists, who predict short-term weather patterns, are not so sure. Joe Bastardi, for example, a senior forecaster and meteorologist with AccuWeather, maintains that it is more likely that the planet is cooling, and he distrusts the data put forward by climate scientists as evidence for rising global temperatures. “There is a great deal of consternation among a lot of us over the readjustment of data that is going on and some of the …

A climate scientist tries insults

From the Guardian:

Humans 'too stupid' to save climate
I know he sounds more like a child who is losing an argument. But he is an old guy who is impatient with those who do not agree with him. I suspect that more such outburst may win him a Nobel prize.

Arrest in murders of consular officials in Juarez

El Paso Times:

The Mexican army has detained an alleged gang leader who is suspected in the March 13 murders of three people with ties to the U.S. consulate in Juárez, Mexican officials said today. Coordinated Chihuahua Operation officials identified the suspect as Ricardo Valles de la Rosa, an alleged Azteca or Barrio Azteca member. Authorities plan to release details of his arrest later today. Earlier this month, armed gunmen shot to death Arthur Redelfs, a detention officer with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office; his wife Lesley Enriquez Redelfs, who worked for the consulate; and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, a maquiladora supervisor and husband of Hilda Antillon, also a consulate employee. Police said the gunmen in two separate vehicles pursued the victims after they had left a children's party at the Barquito de Papel hall in Juárez. The killers used AK-47s and 9mm handguns....
US law enforcement has been putting on a full court press to investigate the killing. They r…

Obama sends enemy reinforcements from Gitmo

Fox News:

Prior to his release in December, Abdul Hafiz was Prisoner Number 1030 at Guantanamo Bay. Now, less than four months later, he's back home in Afghanistan and working for the Taliban -- just the latest of more than 100 released detainees who have returned to terrorism, according to the Pentagon.Hafiz, suspected in the March 2003 kidnapping and murder of an International Red Cross worker, was the "Taliban head of all Madrassas ... responsible for recruiting and sending young men to fight for the Taliban," according to U.S. government memos. He was said to have maintained contacts for Mullah Mohammad Omar, the leader of the Taliban of Afghanistan, and to have admitted to participating in jihad against the Soviets.But despite the list of charges against him, the U.S. government transferred Hafiz to his home country in December. And now, a senior U.S. official tells Fox News, he is back on the battlefield. According to a published report, Hafiz has been …

Russia's Black Widow bombers

CNN:

...

The use of women as suicide bombers or "Black Widows," is one way in which the struggle in Chechnya is different from al Qaeda and more analogous to the military campaign waged by the IRA in Northern Ireland, says Ayers."This war is politically motivated, it is not about a religious ideology as in the case of al Qaeda, so everyone participates and it is ultimately irrelevant if you are a man or a woman," said Ayers."They are not like al Qaeda who might say women should be hidden away and have no role in attacks."The "Black Widows" are believed to be made up of women whose husbands, brothers, fathers or other relatives have been killed in the conflict. The women are often dressed head-to-toe in black and wear the so-called "martyr's belt" filled with explosives. They have beem involved in a number of attacks in Russia and first came to prominence in 2002 when they were part of a group of separatists who threatene…

Military spouse tuition program oversubscribed, shut down

McClatchy:

With her husband deployed in Iraq with a Stryker brigade from Washington state's Joint Base Lewis-McChord, 20-year-old Lauren Silva isn't your typical college student. But when it comes to finding money for tuition, books and other expenses, she's not so different. Silva has scrambled to apply for scholarships and loans to pay for classes at the University of Washington-Tacoma , where she's a junior studying social work. She thought part of her financial problems were solved when she learned of a Defense Department program that pays military spouses $6,000 to help them with their education. Yet just as Silva prepared to apply earlier this year, the military abruptly shut the program down.The Pentagon was overwhelmed by the number of applicants, which had grown from an average of about 10,000 a month to 70,000 in January alone as the nation's economy continued to sputter. Money for the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accoun…

Democrat spending us to disaster

Robert Samuelson:

When historians recount the momentous events of recent weeks, they will note a curious coincidence. On March 15, Moody's Investors Service -- the bond rating agency -- published a paper warning that the exploding U.S. government debt could cause a downgrade of Treasury bonds. Just six days later, the House of Representatives passed President Obama's health care legislation costing $900 billion or so over a decade and worsening an already-bleak budget outlook. Should the United States someday suffer a budget crisis, it will be hard not to conclude that Obama and his allies sowed the seeds, because they ignored conspicuous warnings. A further irony will not escape historians. For two years, Obama and members of Congress have angrily blamed the shortsightedness and selfishness of bankers and rating agencies for causing the recent financial crisis. The president and his supporters, the historians will note, were equally shortsighted and self-centered…

Hatin' Palin, a bipartisan disease

Norman Podhoretz:

Nothing annoys certain of my fellow conservative intellectuals more than when I remind them, as on occasion I mischievously do, that the derogatory things they say about Sarah Palin are uncannily similar to what many of their forebears once said about Ronald Reagan. It's hard to imagine now, but 31 years ago, when I first announced that I was supporting Reagan in his bid for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, I was routinely asked by friends on the right how I could possibly associate myself with this "airhead," this B movie star, who was not only stupid but incompetent. They readily acknowledged that his political views were on the whole close to ours, but the embarrassing primitivism with which he expressed them only served, they said, to undermine their credibility. In any case, his base was so narrow that he had no chance of rescuing us from the disastrous administration of Jimmy Carter....What I am trying to say is not that Sar…

Lawyer's for the enemy

Andrew McCarthy:

Bravely entering the lion’s den — delivering a speech in praise of left-wing, “pro bono” lawyering to a group of left-wing, pro bono lawyers — Attorney General Eric Holder recently declared that “lawyers who provide counsel for the unpopular are, and should be, treated as what they are: patriots.”

Sure they are. After all, Holder explained, they “reaffirm our nation’s most essential and enduring values” — like the value we place on coming to the aid of our enemies in wartime. And let’s not forget the value we place on advocating for the release of those enemies who, as night follows day, then return to the business of killing Americans. Sure, the nation somehow missed these essential and enduring values in the two-plus centuries between the Revolutionary War and the War on Terror, but hey, who’s counting?

The attorney general’s encomium was prompted by critics who had embarrassed him, finally, into disclosing at least some of the names of former Gitmo Bar m…