Showing posts from October, 2009

Venezuela's poster child for failure of socialism

Reuters: Five months after Venezuela nationalized dozens of oil service contractors in Zulia state, the once-bustling industrial dock on Lake Maracaibo is nearly abandoned, and the 16 red flags raised to celebrate the takeovers are already tattered and faded. A few small groups of workers remain, hoping to get the jobs they were promised after the expropriations. "We demand our jobs. Because we haven't gotten an answer, we're still here," said Demostenes Velasquez, who for months has lived under thescorching sun in a tent improvised from remnants of oil union election pamphlets. Like Velasquez, many workers on the eastern shores of the lake have protested or gone on hunger strikes to demand jobs promised them after President Hugo Chavez's government expropriated 76 oil services companies on the Maracaibo Lake. The western region has a long history of oil production. As part of his drive to install socialism in the OPEC nation, Chavez e

About those green jobs--China builds wind turbiens for Texas

Popular Science: Clean tech has seen a boost as the U.S. pours government funding into renewable energy, and China looks set to reap much of the benefits. Latest example: a Chinese wind-turbine company has just become the exclusive supplier for one of the largest wind-farm developments in the U.S. The Shenyang Power Group has signed on to supply 240 of its massive 2.5-megawatt wind turbines to a 36,000-acre development in West Texas. The Wall Street Journal reports that the wind farm is also slated to receive $1.5 billion in financing from the Export-Import Bank of China. This comes as the U.S. has increasingly out-sourced much of its wind turbine development. Less than a quarter of wind turbine components installed in the U.S. came from domestic production, and Europe currently holds the lion's share of turbine manufacturing. A Norwegian firm launched the world's first full-scale floating wind turbine this September. ... I suppose the Chinese would like to drill for natural

Marines find Taliban retreat leaving only bombs behind

Sunday Times: Under the harsh sunlight, a lone grey donkey sauntered across one end of a silent street; halfway down the far end, a US marine lay in the dirt, exposed and alone — brushing the dust from a pressure plate linked to a massive bomb. A few days ago this town, deep in Taliban territory, was thronged with up to 800 residents and traders. This is Helmand’s biggest drugs market, but today all but a handful of Kuchi, the Afghan nomads, have vanished. Somehow the Taliban knew the marines were coming. Rather than fight openly, they left behind a booby-trapped ghost town littered with improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Since July, two bomb disposal technicians attached to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance battalion have been killed in such circumstances. For all the techniques they employ, this work still boils down to one man of courage making a lonely walk. The man I was watching asked not to be named. “I am just glad to be helping save lives,” he told me

UK rationed health care snuffs out whistle blower statements

Independent on Sunday: NHS whistleblowers are routinely gagged in order to cover up dangerous and even dishonest practices that could attract bad publicity and damage a hospital's reputation. Some local NHS bodies are spending millions of taxpayers' money to pay off and silence whistleblowers with "super gags" to stop them going public with patient safety incidents. Experts warn that patients' lives are being endangered by the use of intimidatory tactics to force out whistleblowers and deter other professionals from coming forward. The IoS has learnt of children in Stoke-on-Trent needlessly losing organs after safety issues highlighted by a senior surgeon – who was suspended after coming forward to voice concerns – were ignored. In one of more than 20 serious incidents, a newborn baby girl needed an ovary removed after a standard procedure to remove a cyst was delayed because of staff shortages. According to Public Concern at Work (PCaW), two-thirds of doctor

Dems--Let's spend a couple of trillion and then worry about deficit

NY Times: Faced with anxiety in financial markets about the huge federal deficit and the potential for it to become an electoral liability for Democrats, the White House and Congressional leaders are weighing options for narrowing the gap, including a bipartisan commission that could force tax increases and spending cuts. But even the idea of a panel to bridge the partisan divide has run into partisan objections. Many Democrats, including in the White House, are loath to cede such far-reaching decisions to a commission and doubt Republicans’ willingness to compromise. And most Republicans remain adamantly opposed to tax increases, leaving the prospects for any bipartisan approach limited at best. The proponents, however, are pressing for a Senate vote this month. “If we have the same process and the same people, we are going to get the same results,” said Senator Evan Bayh , Democrat of Indiana, who recently met with Mr. Obama to discuss the idea. “The Democratic Party wants to spend

Scozzafava suspends campaign in NY-23

The Hill: State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R) announced on Saturday she would suspend her campaign to fill former Rep. John McHugh's open House seat, just days before the much-hyped special election. Her exit from the race offers serious momentum to Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate who has stolen from Scozzafava a slew of important GOP endorsements and donations in recent weeks. "Today, I again seek to act for the good of our community," Scozzafava wrote in a letter to supporters, obtained by the Watertown Daily Times. "It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support. Consequently, I hereby release those individuals who have endorsed and supported my campaign to transfer their support as they see fit to do so." "I am and have always been a proud Republican," Scozzafava added. "It is my hope that with my actions today, my party will emerge stronger and our district and our nation

A rationed health care preview

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann: How can the government pretend that it can manage, overhaul, streamline and reform the health care system in the United States when it can't even deliver enough flu shots to prevent a pandemic? We have seen the H1N1 virus coming for over a year. It is no surprise that much of America needs vaccination. It was no secret that the flu season was approaching. But, now that it is upon us, we find ourselves pathetically short of shots. One year ago, the government told us that we would have hundreds of millions of vaccinations available. Then, over the summer, the prediction was that 40 million would be on hand by the end of October. Last month, the estimate was scaled back to 28 million. And, as of late last week, only 11.5 million had been delivered, leaving tens of millions vulnerable and, tragically, likely leading to hundreds of preventable deaths. Given the tendency of the virus to strike the young, many of those deaths will be among children. ... We

"All war is based on deception." —Sun Tzu

Warren Kozak: In the summer of 1962, the leader of the great Soviet empire, Nikita Khrushchev, faced a serious problem. His huge intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) didn't work. Their launchers were unreliable, their aim was off and the fuel used to rocket them skyward was so volatile that they had to be stored empty. In case of an attack, they would first have to be tanked up before being fired. The Soviet premier understood that since his ICBMs were a crucial part of his nuclear balance with the U.S., this put him at a major disadvantage. However, Khrushchev did have a smaller, intermediate-range missile that was dependable, accurate and quite deadly. But it was too small to hit the U.S. all the way from Russia. So Khrushchev, the chess enthusiast, thought up a bold countermove. He decided to secretly place his smaller but more reliable missiles within range of the United States and, thus, in one stroke, completely level the playing field. Under a false manifest, he sen

School 'stimulus'

NY Times: The best symbol of the $787 billion federal stimulus program turns out not to be a construction worker in a hard hat, but rather a classroom teacher saved from a layoff. On Friday, the Obama administration released the most detailed information yet on the jobs created by the stimulus. Of the 640,239 jobs recipients claimed to have created or saved so far, officials said, more than half — 325,000 — were in education. Most were teachers’ jobs that states said were saved when stimulus money averted a need for layoffs. Although the stimulus was initially sold in large part as a public works program, only about 80,000 of the jobs that were claimed Friday were in construction. Of course, counting jobs that were saved can be a squishier proposition than counting jobs that were created. Teachers have been laid off in some areas — and budget officials say that there would have been more layoffs without the stimulus money — but it is difficult to say with certainty how many teachers wo

Pelosi plan--Raise taxes, cut Medicare

William Kristol: ... Until now. With Barack Obama as her front man, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi--the real power in the Democratic party--has gone Clinton and Gingrich one better. Clinton tried to hike taxes. Gingrich sought to cut Medicare. Pelosi wants to do both at once. This is quite a feat: She's combined the most unpopular Democratic and Republican proposals of the last generation in one piece of legislation. And her timing is impeccable. Pelosi has decided to raise taxes and discourage employment just as joblessness approaches 10 percent. She's decided to cut Medicare reimbursements just as seniors' retirement accounts have shrunk. She's decided to advance a huge spending bill just as the deficit is at historic highs. She's decided to insist on federal funding of abortion just as the issue seems to have reached some sustainable middle ground. And she's decided to put forward a 2,000-page piece of legislation with a mind-boggling array of scary instances o

Left can't bare exposure

Ralph Peters: The Obama administration's un-American attempt to vilify Fox News only increased the network's popularity. But this White House debacle can't be judged in isolation: There's a global leftwing assault on the freedom of information. Intense leftist sentiment in most of the international media isn't enough. Extremists seek total control. The one thing leftists just can't bear is criticism. (Mass murder's fine, but don't stray from the party line.) As early as the French Revolution, the left grasped that a free press is inherently subversive to its doctrines. The Obama administration's aborted Fox hunt simply aligned our government with the hounds of the global left. Our Constitution and common sense frustrated the White House apparatchiks -- but other leftist and radical regimes are crushing press freedoms, murdering dissenting journalists and turning the media into a state weapon. In country after country where Obama's been ta

Honduras and those who tried to thwart its consttution

Opinion Journal: The big news in Honduras is that the good guys seem to have won a four-month political standoff over the exile of former President Manuel Zelaya. Current President Roberto Micheletti agreed yesterday to submit Mr. Zelaya's request for reinstatement as president to the Supreme Court and Congress, and in return the U.S. will withdraw its sanctions and recognize next month's presidential elections. Mr. Zelaya, whose term would have expired in January, isn't likely to be reinstated, given that the court has twice ruled against his right to remain in office. The Honduran Congress, which voted in June to remove Mr. Zelaya, will then use that high court's opinion to decide if he should be restored to power. There is a risk that Venezeula's Hugo Chávez and other Zelaya allies will try to buy support for their man and stir other trouble. But Hondurans who have rightly stood up to enormous U.S. pressure to reinstate Mr. Zelaya aren't likely to be intimi

Control freak liberals ruin toy business for some

NY Times: For 35 years, William John Woods has made wooden toys for children. Each one of the 2,000 or so he makes each year passes through his hands at his shop in Ogunquit, Maine, and no child, he said, has ever been hurt by one of his small boats, cars, helicopters or rattles. But now he and others like him — makers of small toys and owners of toy resale shops and boutique stores — say their livelihood is being threatened by federal legislation enacted in the last year to protect children from toxic toys through more extensive testing. Big toymakers, including those whose tainted imports from China led to the recall of 45 million toys and spurred Congress to take action, have more resources and are able to comply with the new law’s requirements. “This is absurd,” said Mr. Woods, whose toys are made of maple, walnut and cherry and finished with walnut oil and beeswax from a local apiary. He estimates it would cost him $30,000 — a figure he calculated from having to pay $400 in requ

Dream car for wounded soldier

Muskegon News: Grown men wept. Veterans of war and soldiers on active duty stood shoulder to shoulder, clutching small American flags, trying to hold onto their emotions. Women in the crowd issued silent prayers, immediately sending them heavenward to protect others stationed in harm’s way. When U.S. Army Spec. Brendan Marrocco wheeled into Hot Rod Harley-Davidson in downtown Muskegon Friday, pushed in his wheelchair because he has no hands and no legs, a casualty of the war in Iraq, men who have seen the horrors of war up close dissolved into tears. “Welcome home, soldier,” called out an emotional David Eling, who was a medic in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Eling is executive director of Muskegon County’s Department of Veteran Affairs. “Thank you for serving,” he said, his voice thick with tears. And with that, people from all corners of the community erupted into spontaneous applause, their way of thanking the 23-year-old Marrocco for his sacrifice and service. Marrocco was

Women handle combat pain better than expected

NY Times: Do women feel more pain than men? For years, researchers have puzzled over that question, and more often than not, have answered the question yes. So one might expect a study of pain among women in the military to reach a similar conclusion. Not quite, researchers in New Haven found. In a review of the records of veterans of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Connecticut Health Care System found that women were less likely than men to report any pain, 38.1 percent to 44 percent. By a smaller margin, 18 percent to 21.2 percent, the women veterans were also less likely than the men to report having persistent pain. However, in a finding that did correspond to gender studies of pain among civilians, the researchers found that among veterans with pain, women more often reported significant (as opposed to mild) pain, 68 percent compared to 62.6 for men. ... Dr. Haskell, who is also works in women’s health

Taliban rebuke Democrat strategy

CNN: A top Taliban political leader delivered a message Friday to President Obama, calling his attempt to lure away Taliban fighters with money "an old weapon that has failed already." "The Mujahedeen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan are not mercenaries and employed gunmen like the armed men of the invaders and their surrogates," Mullah Brader Akhund said in the statement. "This war will come to an end when all invaders leave our country and an Islamic government based on the aspirations of our people is formed in the country." Akhund is the deputy emir of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which is the political arm of the Taliban. He was referring to the Taliban reintegration provision, part of the $680 billion defense appropriation bill that Obama signed Wednesday to pay for military operations in the 2010 fiscal year. The provision would separate local Taliban from their leaders, paying the fighters to quit the organization, replicating a pr

Qatar makes conservative investment in Hollywood

Telegraph: The Qatari media group, Alnoor Holdings, said a new fund would finance up to 15 films over the next five years and the first project would be announced within days. It will be a welcome relief in California where film productions have been leaking away abroad or to other US states offering financial incentives like tax credits and rebates. The Qatari group is considering which projects to back and is likely to go for family-friendly films that do not include sex senes or political controversy. ... Most of the real bombs recently have been left wing anti war puke films so these guys are smart to avoid that crowd. It sounds like they would be comfortable with the Disney films. The other good news is that they are unlikely to give financial support to liberal Democrats. It appears that the left wing films have achieved my objective of defunding Democrats to some extent.

What worries military experts about Obama

David Brooks: ... They are not worried about his policy choices. Their concerns are more fundamental. They are worried about his determination. These people, who follow the war for a living, who spend their days in military circles both here and in Afghanistan, have no idea if President Obama is committed to this effort. They have no idea if he is willing to stick by his decisions, explain the war to the American people and persevere through good times and bad. Their first concerns are about Obama the man. They know he is intellectually sophisticated. They know he is capable of processing complicated arguments and weighing nuanced evidence. But they do not know if he possesses the trait that is more important than intellectual sophistication and, in fact, stands in tension with it. They do not know if he possesses tenacity, the ability to fixate on a simple conviction and grip it, viscerally and unflinchingly, through complexity and confusion. They do not know if he possesses the o

Democrat miscalculation on health care

Robert Robb: My guess is that Democrats have badly miscalculated the politics of health care reform. They were in a political bind to begin with. Democrats are motivated by a sincere and deep desire to extend coverage to those without it and provide all Americans with much greater health care security. Politically, however, they felt that they could not disturb the employer-provided care with which Americans are generally satisfied. Hence the incessant promise: If you like what you have you can keep it. But only if it still exists. And the way the Democrats are reshaping the incentives in the health insurance market, it is much less likely that the employer-provided health insurance people are satisfied with and want to keep will still exist. Oddly enough, the reason why begins with the weakening of the mandate that individuals purchase health insurance. One of the pillars of the Democratic health care reform is the requirement that insurance companies accept all applicants regardle

Tea Party fear haunts Pelosi healt care announcement?

Washington Times: House Democrats blocked the public from attending the unveiling ceremony of their health care bill Thursday morning, allowing only pre-approved visitors whose names appeared on lists to enter the event at the West Front of the Capitol. The audience at the crowded press conference included Hill staffers, union workers, health care providers and students, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who thanked them for attending. ... The West Front of the Capitol -- where President Obama was inaugurated -- is traditionally open to the public. But the entrances were blocked off Thursday morning by metal fences, with Capitol Police officers standing next to staff members holding clipboards with lists of approved attendees. ... Videos posted on YouTube, including by Mr. Cantor's office, showed people being turned away by staffers or police. In the video from Mr. Cantor's office, a police officer tells a Republican staffer they are being denied access "per the speaker

New taxes in Pelosi health care bill

Americans for Tax Reform have a pretty impressive list.

Detroit Muslim gang run by prisoner in SuperMax

Time: ... According to documents filed in U.S. District Court here earlier this week, Abdullah, 53, called his followers to an “offensive jihad,” rather than a “defensive jihad,” and urged them to carry, and use, firearms and swords. The documents note the group was evicted from its Detroit mosque earlier this year because it failed to pay property taxes. The precise origins of the Ummahs are unclear. Its national leader is Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, a militant former civil rights activist also known as H. Rap Brown . In 2002, he was convicted of fatally shooting two Georgia police officers. He is serving a life sentence at a federal prison. ... This raises even more serious questions about the Obama administration's policy of bringing al Qaeda detainees into the US prison system including the SuperMax facilities. Surprisingly, Time did not mention this aspect of the case. It should be an issue that Obama and his attorney general must address. H. Rap Brown is a pretty notorious fig

Iran backs out of nuke 'deal'

NY Times: Iran told the United Nations nuclear watchdog on Thursday that it would not accept a plan its negotiators agreed to last week to send its stockpile of uranium out of the country, according to diplomats in Europe and American officials briefed on Iran’s response. The apparent rejection of the deal could unwind President Obama ’s effort to buy time to resolve the nuclear standoff. In public, neither the Iranians nor the watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency , revealed the details of Iran’s objections, which came only hours after Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , insisted that “we are ready to cooperate” with the West. ... Did anyone ever really believe they would honor the agreement if they signed onto it? I certainly didn't. I have always expected bad faith from this regime and have never been disappointed. The only value of a so called "engagement" strategy is that it gives the world a chance to see the bad faith in the headlines of the med

The childish blame Bush administration

Charles Krauthammer: Old Soviet joke: Moscow, 1953. Stalin calls in Khrushchev. "Niki, I'm dying. Don't have much to leave you. Just three envelopes. Open them, one at a time, when you get into big trouble." A few years later, first crisis. Khrushchev opens envelope 1: "Blame everything on me. Uncle Joe." A few years later, a really big crisis. Opens envelope 2: "Blame everything on me. Again. Good luck, Uncle Joe." Third crisis. Opens envelope 3: "Prepare three envelopes." In the Barack Obama version, there are 50 or so such blame-Bush free passes before the gig is up. By my calculation, Obama has already burned through a good 49. Is there anything he hasn't blamed George W. Bush for? The economy, global warming, the credit crisis, Middle East stalemate, the deficit, anti-Americanism abroad -- everything but swine flu. It's as if Obama's presidency hasn't really started. He's still taking inventory of the

Agreement in Honduras?

NY Times: A lingering political crisis in Honduras seemed to be nearing an end on Friday after the de facto government agreed to a deal that would allow Manuel Zelaya , the deposed president, to return to office. The government of Roberto Micheletti , which had refused to let Mr. Zelaya return, signed an agreement with Mr. Zelaya’s negotiators late Thursday that would pave the way for Congress to restore the ousted president and allow him to serve out the remaining three months of his term. ... “The accord allows a vote in Congress on Zelaya’s possible restitution with the prior approval of the Supreme Court,” Mr. Micheletti said in televised comments late Thursday. “This is a significant concession on the part of our government.” “We are satisfied,” Mr. Zelaya said, according to Reuters. “We are optimistic that my reinstatement is imminent.” ... If the Congress and the Supreme Court vote against Zelaya again, then what? They have both been adament that the earlier votes were co

Anti energy hits Colorado

NY Times: Standing in a canyon in hilly terrain, Ken Neubecker cast his fly into a cold stream. Minutes later he had a bite. Thrashing at the end of his line was a speckled green fish, a scarce Colorado cutthroat trout. Mr. Neubecker was fishing on the Roan Plateau, a high stretch of terrain beloved by hunters, fishermen and hikers for its clear streams, herds of deer and elk, and rugged beauty. “There just aren’t many places like this in the West,” Mr. Neubecker said. “It’s a real gem.” Energy companies are looking at the Roan Plateau, too — through entirely different eyes. Vast deposits of natural gas are believed to lie beneath the stretch on which Mr. Neubecker was fishing, and the companies want to drill. “What is really special about the Roan Plateau, these lands in particular, is the incredible energy density beneath it,” said Duane Zavadil, vice president of Bill Barrett Corporation , a Denver energy company that holds drilling rights to the Roan. The company’s plans are at th

Another failure for lawfare with light sentence for al Qaeda op

Washington Post: An al-Qaeda sleeper agent who arrived in the United States on Sept. 10, 2001, was sentenced to eight years and four months in federal prison Thursday, ending a legal saga that focused on the ability of the government to hold people indefinitely without criminal charges. U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm rejected prosecutors' request that Ali Saleh Kalah al-Marri be sentenced to the maximum 15-year prison term. The lesser sentence essentially credits Marri, 44, for enduring six-and-a-half years in a U.S. Navy brig in what his lawyers had called "a legal black hole." As the sole remaining enemy combatant on American soil, Marri drew international attention from legal scholars and human rights advocates. His case was singled out in an executive order issued in the first days of the Obama administration. And the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to hear Marri's arguments about indefinite detention, a process that was averted in February when new Justice De

Inside the Taliban lair

Guardian: ... ... On a wooded hilltop Brigadier Tayyeb pointed to a cloud of white smoke rising from a village. "The miscreants are sitting there. The fight is going on," he said. Tayyeb has led the drive towards Kanniguram, a Taliban hub five miles away. It is one of three axes of attack the army is following. A few moments later, he urged a group of journalists to move back inside a walled compound. "This place is still dangerous; there is a possibility of sniper fire. But by evening, inshallah [God willing], we will clear it," he said. Inside the compound, his troops had laid out a selection of militant paraphernalia which, they said, was seized from Taliban compounds in nearby Shelwasti village. Soldiers had neatly laid out stacks of artillery shells, piles of antiquated rifles, jihadist banners, broken computers, Islamist propaganda books and, most intriguing of all, a stack of passports and photos said to belong to foreign militants. There were explosives man

A Newsy look at the violence in Pakistan

I still think that the media needs to focus on the war crimes aspects of the Taliban attacks. Not one of the commentators mentioned that the deliberate mass murder attacks on noncombatants is a war crime. If the US or Israel launched a similar attack that discussion would be part of the news. The only way this double standard is going to stop is if the government calls the Taliban on the issue.

Pakistan finds 9-11 suspect passport

CNN: A passport bearing the name of Said Bahaji, a suspect linked to the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, has been found in a town captured by the Pakistani military. The passport was found in South Waziristan, where the Pakistani military has been battling to wrest territory from the Taliban in Pakistan . It contained a Pakistani visa issued in August 2001 showing that the bearer entered Pakistan on September 4, 2001, and appeared unusually new for a document eight years old. CNN has not independently confirmed its authenticity. Bahaji is suspected of having fled Germany for Pakistan on September 3, 2001, after receiving a tip that the attacks were imminent. The photo in the passport resembles images of Bahaji posted on Interpol's Web site. It shows a clean-cut man wearing a red sweater. Bahaji, 34, is alleged to have been a member of the Hamburg, Germany-based cell that provided money to the hijackers who carried out the September 11 attacks, which killed a

Just in time for Halloween

Halloween and Democrats seem to go together.

Clinton questions why Pakistan can't find al Qaeda

Reuters /Washington Post: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's said on Thursday it was "hard to believe" that no one in Pakistan's government knew where al Qaeda leaders were hiding, striking a new tone on a trip where Washington's credibility has come under attack. Scores of al Qaeda leaders and their operatives, including Osama bin Laden, are believed to be in hiding in the rugged border territory that divides Pakistan and Afghanistan , but both countries routinely accuse the other of being the main sanctuary "I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to," she told a group of newspaper editors during a meeting in Lahore. "Maybe they are not 'get-at-able'. I don't know," she said. ... I think it is a good question that we should see the answer to as the ongoing operation in Wazirstan plays out. Pakistan had largely abandoned the area for

Liberals out of touch with Afghan war

Nicholas Kristoff: Dispatching more troops to Afghanistan would be a monumental bet and probably a bad one, most likely a waste of lives and resources that might simply empower the Taliban. In particular, one of the most compelling arguments against more troops rests on this stunning trade-off: For the cost of a single additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for one year, we could build roughly 20 schools there. ... The hawks respond: It’s naïve to think that you can sprinkle a bit of education on a war-torn society. It’s impossible to build schools now because the Taliban will blow them up. ... The hawks are right. There may be a few schools that the Taliban have not blown up, but many of them are occupied by our troops. The Taliban are control freaks who will prevent girls from getting an education and will limit teaching to their own bigotry. The argument that our troops are feeding the insurgency is based on a false premise. The absence of our troops does not mean an absence

Iran test Obama, it looks like he will flunk

Robert Kagan: Watching the Obama administration launch its " new era of engagement " over the past 10 months, most seasoned observers have pondered two questions: First, if engagement fails, will the Obama team ever acknowledge that it has failed? And what then? The first question is about to be answered. The main object of the "new era of engagement," Iran, has settled back into its old game-playing. The joint proposal agreed to by the United States, France and Russia, to have Iran ship 70 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia this year, was a compromise, as administration officials acknowledge. It might theoretically have delayed Iran's bomb program by a year or so -- assuming we know everything about that program -- and thus bought some time to get a better and more definitive agreement with Tehran. But it would not have stopped Iran from continuing to enrich uranium, which has been the goal of the United States and Europe for the better part of a de

The Valerie Jarrett train wreck

Tony Harnden writes: ... Within the space of a minute, Jarrett said of Fox that “of course they’re biased”, then that “I don’t want to just generalise all Fox is biased” (sorry, but you just did – eight seconds ago) before finally settling on the preposterous “we’re actually calling everybody out”. That’s, er, calling out “everybody” whose name is made up of two words, second word news, first word beginning with F and ending in X. In the middle of all this patent nonsense, Jarrett blurted out the truly bizarre notion that “what the administration has said very clearly is that we’re going to speak truth to power”. Poor plucky little Barack Obama, United States commander-in-chief and leader of the Free World taking on Goliath. They may still act as if the election campaign is still on but it might be a good idea for Jarrett and Co to reflect that they are power. As David Zurawik notes : “such a phrase from our collective past that has real resonance because it was once loaded with su

Europe notices the dithering in Afghanistan

Claus Christian Malzahn: Afghanistan and Pakistan are being shaken by attacks, and the Taliban is dictating the course of the war. US President Obama has been silent about the situation for far too long and European countries like Germany and France are correct to demand better American leadership on the issue of Afghanistan. The most important piece of news from the most recent meeting of NATO defense ministers was that there was no news. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pointed out the dangers of failure on the part of the Western military alliance in Afghanistan. The war effort is already underfunded to the tune of several hundred million euros. Nevertheless, the costs of defeat will be much higher than the costs of the mission, Rasmussen said at the NATO summit in Bratislava, Slovakia last week. His warnings fell on deaf ears, with only Great Britain agreeing to a slight increase in troop strength. All other NATO defense ministers, including, of course, the Germ

The pain of Democrat health care

Scott Gottlieb: It's increasingly clear that the initial impact of President Obama 's health-care reform will be to raise the cost of health insurance and the number of uninsured Americans, perhaps sharply. You see, the parts of the reform package that promised to reduce insurance costs, and get more people insured, kick in years after the legislation would start imposing hefty new costs on consumers. Obama has endorsed the bill produced by the Senate Finance Committee, which is being tweaked for a vote by the full Senate. The plan's core element — the creation of state-based exchanges for the purchase of subsidized coverage — won't change, nor will the basic schemes on how Democrats plan to pay for it. Yet it prescribes added pain first, and promised relief only later. Starting in 2010, the bill would impose annual fees of $2.3 billion on brand-name drugs and $4 billion on medical devices, plus $6.7 billion on certain insurance providers — and more than $100 billio

Obama micro management in Afghanistan

Washington Post: President Obama has asked senior officials for a province-by-province analysis of Afghanistan to determine which regions are being managed effectively by local leaders and which require international help, information that his advisers say will guide his decision on how many additional U.S. troops to send to the battle. Obama made the request in a meeting Monday with Vice President Biden and a small group of senior advisers helping him decide whether to expand the war. The detail he is now seeking also reflects the administration's turn toward Afghanistan's provincial governors, tribal leaders and local militias as potentially more effective partners in the effort than a historically weak central government that is confronting questions of legitimacy after the flawed Aug. 20 presidential election. "This is obviously a complicated security environment in Afghanistan, and the president wants the clearest possible understanding of what the challenges are

Tuesday election and the Democrats

Karl Rove: Democratic enthusiasm for President Barack Obama's liberal domestic agenda—particularly for a government-run health insurance program—could wane after the results of the gubernatorial elections next Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey. GOP victories in either state will tell Democrats in red states and districts that support for Obama's policies is risky to their political health. The more significant is the open race for governor in Virginia, a purple state. The Washington Post poll released Monday showed 55% support for Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell and 44% for Democratic State Senator Creigh Deeds. The president is trying to reverse these numbers by stumping the state for Mr. Deeds. Mr. McDonnell has relentlessly focused on the economy, transportation and education. Mr. Deeds tried to make the race about abortion and his opponent's supposed animus toward working women. But Mr. McDonnell understood that anti-Obama, anti-Washington sentiment was not

Fighting wildfires in DC

Washington Times: Congressional lawmakers Wednesday rebuked the Forest Service for spending stimulus forest firefighting money on D.C. green-jobs programs, but gave the city the money anyway. The decision reverses a vote of the full Senate, which last month stripped the $2.8 million in wildland fire-management funds for the District, calling it a waste of critical firefighting funds. House and Senate negotiators made the move while hammering out a final public lands spending bill. They said they didn't want to recall the money, but in strongly worded language blasted the Forest Service for a "lack of transparency" and insisted future funds be spent solely to reduce fire threats. But the fact that they allowed the D.C. money to be spent on jobs programs in a city with a low risk of forest fires angered lawmakers who called it an affront to Western states scorched by wildfires this year. ... This is just another example of the lack of commitment to spending restraints by t

Iraq arrest check point guards in car bomb attack

NY Times: Iraqi officials said on Thursday they had arrested 61 army and police officers in connection with the bombings in central Baghdad on Sunday that killed 155 people and wounded hundreds more. The attacks, in which suicide bombers were seen on film passing through numerous security checkpoints before detonating their vehicles in front of three government buildings, spurred angry criticism and accusations of corruption among the officers manning the checkpoints. Maj. General Qassim Atta , who announced the arrests, did not say whether the officers were accused of complicity in the attacks or negligence in preventing them. ... Unfortunately for Iraq, either charge seems credible. I am leaning slightly in favor of incompetence. Iraq still has not developed the leadership it needs in the military to command the kind of work needed to defeat the terrorist. When they were working with competent American officers, they were able to do a better job. Now they are just not g

Shooting at FBI arrest team ends badly for imam

NY Times: Federal agents on Wednesday fatally shot a man they described as the leader of a violent Sunni Muslim separatist group in Detroit. The 53-year-old leader, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, was killed in one of three raids conducted in and around the city, in which six followers of his were taken into custody. Mr. Abdullah, whom the agents were trying to arrest in Dearborn on charges that included illegal possession and sale of firearms and conspiracy to sell stolen goods, refused to surrender and began firing at them from a warehouse, according to a statement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States attorney’s office in Detroit. He was shot in the return fire, the statement said. Mr. Abdullah, the authorities said, led a faction of a group called the Ummah, meaning the Brotherhood, which advocates the establishment of a separate nation within the United States governed by Islamic laws. He was one of 11 men from Detroit and Ontario whom the authorities had charged