Posts Tagged ‘Clinton’

Now we know why Foley wasn’t rescued.

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The Delta Force raid on the Syrian ISIS camp failed to rescue any hostages. They had been moved. Now we know why.

Anthony Shaffer, a former lieutenant-colonel in US military intelligence who worked on covert operations, said: “I’m told it was almost a 30-day delay from when they said they wanted to go to when he finally gave the green light. They were ready to go in June to grab the guy [Foley] and they weren’t permitted.”

This is a reflex reaction of Obama to any call for action. He delays and thinks and worries about the politics. It has been reported that Obama delayed the bin Laden raid three times.

President Barack Obama — at the urging of senior adviser Valerie Jarrett — canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden three times before finally approving the May 2, 2011, Navy SEAL mission, according to a book scheduled to be released next month.

In “Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors who Decide for Him,” Richard Miniter writes that Obama canceled the mission in January 2011, again in February, and a third time in March, The Daily Caller reports

It isn’t just the conservative press but Hillary Clinton even says so.

Through weeks of sometimes heated White House debate in 2011, Clinton was alone among the president’s topmost cabinet officers to back it. Vice President Biden, a potential political rival for Clinton in 2016, opposed it. So did then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

The optics and the political fallout were most of his concerns. In the case of Captain Phillips of the ship hijacked by Somali pirates, reports have circulated that Obama delayed the SEALS raid several times as he agonized over the decision.

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How the Left Lies to Itself

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Here is the latest post on Political Animal, a leftist blog sponsored by Washington Monthly, a leftist magazine.

Political Animal
Blog

August 06, 2011 11:05 AM
A timeline of events
By Steve Benen

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

1980: Ronald Reagan runs for president, promising a balanced budget

1981 – 1989: With support from congressional Republicans, Reagan runs enormous deficits, adds $2 trillion to the debt.

Reagan did not have a Republican Congress during his two terms. He did have a Republican Senate for his first six years. Bob Dole was Majority Leader, which was no help in cutting spending.

Lie #1

1993: Bill Clinton passes economic plan that lowers deficit, gets zero votes from congressional Republicans.

Bill Clinton passed a tax increase which Republican predicted would slow economic growth. Bush had also raised taxes at the insistence of Democrats and a recession cost him re-election.

1998: U.S. deficit disappears for the first time in three decades. Debt clock is unplugged.

The fact is that Republicans took over both houses of Congress in 1995, the House for the first time since the post-war era. The stock market took off and revenues poured in from a good economy and the internet bubble which burst in 2000.

2000: George W. Bush runs for president, promising to maintain a balanced budget.

2001: CBO shows the United States is on track to pay off the entirety of its national debt within a decade.

In fact, the national debt kept climbing and the “surplus” was on paper only. Bush inherited the recession that followed the bursting of the internet bubble in 2000.

2001 – 2009: With support from congressional Republicans, Bush runs enormous deficits, adds nearly $5 trillion to the debt.

The Bush deficits were declining the last two years of his term and the Democrats took over Congress in 2007. The Bush deficit in his last year was 10% of the present deficit. Notice Steve Benin doesn’t provide numbers.

That shows the deficits Obama inherited. Notice the increase after the Democrats took Congress in 2007.

2002: Dick Cheney declares, “Deficits don’t matter.” Congressional Republicans agree, approving tax cuts, two wars, and Medicare expansion without even trying to pay for them.

This is a matter of policy choices. I am no fan of Bush in the spending department. He should have vetoed some spending bills that Hastert told him to sign. It was no fluke that Hastert’s district, after he retired from Congress, was won by a DEmocrat.

2009: Barack Obama inherits $1.3 trillion deficit from Bush; Republicans immediately condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.

The condemnation was of his plans to spend wildly.

2009: Congressional Democrats unveil several domestic policy initiatives — including health care reform, cap and trade, DREAM Act — which would lower the deficit. GOP opposes all of them, while continuing to push for deficit reduction.

No one with any economic knowledge would believe that Obamacare and Cap and Trade would lower the deficit. The most serious effect Obama has had thus far is the avalanche of regulation that has descended on business making anyone with money unwilling to invest. That is where jobs come from and the economy is stalled.

September 2010: In Obama’s first fiscal year, the deficit shrinks by $122 billion. Republicans again condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.

The economy may have begun to recover on its own, which is what usually happens in the absence of an activist government. Then came the impact of Obama’s and Pelosi’s spending.

October 2010: S&P endorses the nation’s AAA rating with a stable outlook, saying the United States looks to be in solid fiscal shape for the foreseeable future.

An exaggeration.

November 2010: Republicans win a U.S. House majority, citing the need for fiscal responsibility.

December 2010: Congressional Republicans demand extension of Bush tax cuts, relying entirely on deficit financing. GOP continues to accuse Obama of fiscal irresponsibility.

The left does not understand that government does not create wealth. Raising taxes in a recession is what Hoover did. I wouldn’t think they would want to copy him but they learn nothing.

March 2011: Congressional Republicans declare intention to hold full faith and credit of the United States hostage — a move without precedent in American history — until massive debt-reduction plan is approved.

July 2011: Obama offers Republicans a $4 trillion debt-reduction deal. GOP refuses, pushes debt-ceiling standoff until the last possible day, rattling international markets.

This is another lie. Obama and Boehner were close to an agreement and then Obama insisted on tax increases after agreeing not to do so. He responded to complaints from the left which is fixated on tax increases.

August 2011: S&P downgrades U.S. debt, citing GOP refusal to consider new revenues. Republicans rejoice and blame Obama for fiscal irresponsibility.

Another lie. The S&P report said the debt levels are too high and the agreement did not do enough to cut spending.

The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to ‘AA’ within the next two years if we see that less reduction in spending than agreed to, higher interest rates, or new fiscal pressures during the period result in a higher general government debt trajectory than we currently assume in our base case.

There have been several instances since the mid 1990s in which I genuinely believed Republican politics couldn’t possibly get more blisteringly ridiculous. I was wrong; they just keep getting worse.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

There was a time when Democrats understood economics. Those days are over. They have convinced themselves that money grows on trees. They are destroying this nation’s finances, with help from many Republican professional politicians. The only hope is the tea party and turning Obama out in 2013.

The following essay expresses my feelings better than I can.

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The White House Insider Series

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Roger Simon has links to a series running on another blog that is alleged to be interviews of a White House insider in the Obama administration who has become disenchanted. The interviewee is, of course, anonymous and there are doubts about the authenticity but it rings true to me. I will make comments about some of the statements.

The first installment is here.

White House Insider on Obama: “the President is Losing It.”

Quite a title.

When I asked this insider if the media gave candidate Obama an assist throughout his campaign, it elicits a sly smile. Sure – we definitely had people in the media on our side. Absolutely. We went so far as to give them specific ideas for coverage. The ones who took that advice from the campaign were granted better access, and Obama was the biggest story in 2008, so yeah, that gave us a lot of leverage.

Could Obama have succeeded without the media’s help? Yeah, I think so. As I said, on the campaign trail he is very-very good. The opposition didn’t have near the energy, or the celebrity attraction that Obama brings. Plus, the country was burned out after eight years of Bush. We knew that going in. We knew that if we won the Democrat nomination, we were likely going to cruise our way to the White House – and that is exactly what we did.”

This sounds authentic to me. I’m not sure Obama could have won without both the press and the flow of anonymous money that has yet to be explained but he was good with a teleprompter and Bush was unpopular.

But after Obama was sworn in, things began to change? Almost immediately. Obama loved to campaign. He clearly didn’t like the work of being President though, and that attitude was felt by the entire White House staff within weeks after the inauguration. Obama the tireless, hard working candidate became a very tepid personality to us. And the few news stories that did come out against him were the only things he seemed to care about. He absolutely obsesses over Fox News. For being so successful, Barack Obama is incredibly thin-skinned. He takes everything very personally.

And you state he despises Joe Biden? Oh yeah. That is very well known in the White House. Obama chose Biden for one reason – to have an older white guy with some international policy credentials. Period. If Biden has all of this international experience that Obama found so valuable, why has he buried him under the pile of crap that became the stimulus bill? What does Joe Biden know about budgets and economics? Not much – but Obama didn’t care. Give Joe a job and get him the hell out of my hair – that pretty much sums up the president’s feelings toward Joe Biden.

Read the rest. This is only the first segment.

What about Hillary Clinton? Obama is scared to death of Hillary. He doesn’t trust her – obsesses over her almost as much as he does Fox News. He respects her though, which might be why he fears her so much as well. He talks the game, but when it comes down to it, she has played the game on a far tougher level than he has, and Obama knows that.

I include this only because I think the anonymous interviewee is a Hillary staffer. Watch his comments on the Clintons. For example:

How about Bill Clinton? I never heard Obama say anything about Bill Clinton personally, though I was told he has cracked a few jokes about the former president since getting into the White House. I have heard that Bill Clinton does not like Barack Obama. That really started when Obama played the race card against him during the primary campaign. Apparently Clinton was apoplectic over that and still hasn’t gotten over it. If there is one thing I have learned in this town – don’t make an enemy of Bill Clinton.

So if Obama doesn’t appear interested in the job of president, what does he do day after day? Well, he takes his meetings just like any other president would, though even then, he seems to lack a certain focus and on a few occasions, actually leaves with the directive that be given a summary of the meeting at a later date. I hear he plays a lot of golf, and watches a lot of television – ESPN mainly. I’ll tell you this – if you want to see President Obama get excited about a conversation, turn it to sports. That gets him interested. You start talking about Congress, or some policy, and he just kinda turns off. It’s really very strange. I mean, we were all led to believe that this guy was some kind of intellectual giant, right? Ivy League and all that. Well, that is not what I saw. Barack Obama doesn’t have a whole lot of intellectual curiosity. When he is off script, he is what I call a real “slow talker”. Lots of ummms, and lots of time in between answers where you can almost see the little wheel in his head turning very slowly. I am not going to say the president is a dumb man, because he is not, but yeah, there was a definite letdown when you actually hear him talking without the script.

That sounds like you are calling Obama stupid to me. No – I am not going to call him stupid. He just doesn’t strike me as particularly smart. Bill Clinton is a smart guy – he would run intellectual circles around Barack Obama. And Bill Clinton loved the politics of being president. Obama seems to think he shouldn’t have to be bothered, which has created a considerable amount of conflict among his staff.

The second installment is here and just as interesting.

So you still wish to keep your name hidden from the public? Why? I intend to remain working in this town for a bit longer. A public disclosure might complicate that just a bit given who is in power right now. But I won’t be the last one from the current administration coming forward. After the midterms, there will be a number of us speaking about what is really going on in the Democrat Party, if for nothing else because it’s such a damn mess right now.

What do you mean “it’s a damn mess”? I mean just what I said. The Democrat Party is the most chaotic I have ever seen it – and that goes back almost 30 years.

So who is to blame? We all are. By we I mean those of us who were working within the party power structure the last ten years or so. We got so caught up in the hate Bush mentality, we let the party get hijacked by our own far left. That was disaster the moment it happened. The disaster that will be the midterm election in 2010 started in November of 2006 when Pelosi and Reid took over the Democrat Party. Those two have only brought trouble to the Democrat Party since day one of that time.

This again rings true to me. And this is a revelation to me.

What scares you more as president – Sarah Palin or Barack Obama? (Hands to head) Oh boy. What a choice! People would kill me for saying this – actually you know what, there are more and more of us Democrats saying what I am going to say in one form or another… Sarah Palin understands America more than Barack Obama. Yes, she has a minority of our far left who hates her, and some in our media are part of that group, but overall, she seems to get America. Americans aren’t a complicated people, and neither is Sarah Palin, so that probably works in her favor. But President Obama is just out of touch. He really doesn’t understand what America is. What it’s about. Or who it is. And that is a real problem for him – and the Democrat Party at this moment in its history.

Are you saying you would vote for Sarah Palin over Barack Obama? No, I don’t think I could do that. As much as I admire Palin’s ability to connect with the American people, I just can’t stand her politics. I am a pro-choice Democrat. I support unions. I support welfare programs. Sarah Palin understands America, but that doesn’t mean she understands the best parts of America. That being said, I think President Obama understands hardly any of America. That is probably a big reason he appears so lost these days.

That is quite an interesting admission if the interview is legitimate. The third segment is here.

Why is he doing this ?

I am doing it for me, for my party, and for my country. In my own small way – maybe it’s insignificant, maybe not, I want to see Democrats move ahead of this mess that we are in right now. It is a mess of our own making, so we need to be the ones to clean it up. If we don’t, this country is going to continue hurting, and too many people out there are really hurting these days.

Ok…but how does giving me some apparent insider information going to help the country, or help your political party? Simple – it lets others know it’s time to start talking. It’s time to get the word out. It’s time to challenge the inept status quo that is currently running things. People are scared – hell, I’m a bit scared myself. But enough is enough – this political train has got to get back on its tracks. And I’ll tell you this, my talking to you, and your little blog stories, is already helping. More people are ready to talk. It’s already happening. And more is coming. The media won’t be able to ignore it anymore. This administration, the leadership in Congress, they need to account for how they have totally mishandled the responsibilities given to them. That accounting is coming soon enough in November – we are going to get what we deserve. But I am still hopeful it is not too late to save 2012.

He is talking about Congress and I agree that somebody has to.

We are literally killing our political futures out of some need to keep supporting an administration that has in no way, shape, or form shown itself to be worthy of that support.

Those are strong words – but what exactly to do you mean by that? What do I mean!? (Voice rising) What I mean is exactly this – we got Congressmen and Senators running for re-election right now whose political careers are about to be ended because they supported a president and a Democratic Party leadership that told them to do so. They trusted they would be politically protected, that the American people would agree with the agenda. Well guess what? That hasn’t happened. Good people, good Democrats, are being tossed aside like so much trash – and this White House DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN. In my eyes that is absolutely unforgivable. You just don’t do that to your own people. And some of these politicians are talking. They are – but for the most part the media is ignoring them because they don’t want to hurt the administration. To that I say enough! Do your damn job. Report what is going on within the Democratic Party. We need to clean up this mess, and it starts by getting the truth out there. That is my motivation.

The shift of independents to the Republicans is evidence that he is correct. Hell, I don’t even trust the Republican party after the past ten years. The 1994 revolution petered out in politics as usual. Tea party people are cringing in anticipation of the new “Contract” that the Republican leadership is preparing to release tomorrow.

This White House doesn’t give a damn for the concept of loyalty, dedication, sincerity. This White House is the most self-centered, arrogant, and ignorant…they just don’t care to know what they are doing. And when they do it – consequences mean nothing to them. NOTHING. And that is not to say it’s all bad at the White House. There are some very bright people working there. But you know what, those people have been marginalized, pushed aside, and are now leaving. You watch – the exodus from this White House will prove to be of historical proportions.

The exodus is already starting. It will be interesting to see how large it gets. Even the interviewee is frightened of what Obama could do to the country.

For most of the last year, you want to know what question keeps playing in my head?
What question was that? WHAT THE HELL HAVE WE DONE? Now that may come off terribly disrespectful to the president, but so be it. What have we done? We were led to believe this man was one thing, but everything I have seen, heard, and understand, points to the indisputable fact he is not what we hoped for. Not what we were promised. Maybe he might have been. Maybe a full term or two in the Senate and he would have had the experience and maturity to handle the job of President of the United States. But right now – the man is simply not up to the task, and yet it is loyal Democrats who are paying the price for his incompetence and incoherence. The health care bill? Do you know I was told he has never read the bill? Not one part of it? NOT ONE. Sounds like something you would hear on one of the talk radio shows, right? And I wouldn’t normally consider such a possibility, but this came directly from one of those good Democrats who might now see their political careers ended because they supported that bill and now its being used against them like some political sledgehammer. How is that supposed to make someone who put their career on the line feel? Betrayed. A whole lot of us are feeling betrayed these days and it just pisses me off.

As for all the accusations that the Congress hadn’t read the health care bill ?

they pushed it a bit further – suggested the president could do some town meetings and answer questions about the bill, alleviate all the concerns and fight back against the conservative chatter that was being put out there. Guess what they were told regarding that? They were asked one question – did they read the bill? This Congressperson admitted they hadn’t. Like a lot of them, they had voted for it, but hadn’t read it. That was a mistake, sure, but the thing is over 2000 pages, right? Well, after admitting they didn’t read the bill they are told in a laughing way mind you, “That’s ok – neither has the president, so you can’t expect him to take on a bunch of town meetings on it, right?” So that was it. Nice, huh? Bye-bye, thanks for playing, and good luck with the -explitive- storm coming your way this summer.

Anybody who has been around legislatures knows that bills are written by staff and lobbyists but you could at least expect them to read it before voting. Why healthcare ?

Was everyone on his staff on board with the president pushing so hard for healthcare? Absolutely not. There were some who voiced concerns. Some who pushed for a more clear economic agenda. Apparently Obama wanted none of it – he was obsessed, absolutely obsessed with getting some kind of healthcare legislation. And the ones who did voice concerns…they are, or will be, among the first to go. And it’s coming sooner rather than later.

And now, what may be the motive for this interview.

Any ideas as to an acceptable alternative? Hillary Clinton perhaps? (Smiles) The Clinton angle was not missed in your last two articles, was it? I make no attempt to hide my admiration for President Clinton. Unfortunately, Bill Clinton cannot run for another term as this country’s president. As for Hillary, I do not know her as well, but I do admire her – a lot, and now regret not having been a part of her own run for president. My ties to the2008 Obama campaign feel more and more these days like a dishonorable victory.
But would you like to see her run in 2012 if President Obama, as you put it, fails to improve? Yes. I would support Hillary Clinton over Obama in 2012 if the need was still there to help ensure President Obama was given only one term. But Hillary Clinton is not the only possibility for the Democrats. We are a party with many fine leaders – many, many potential candidates for president who I would gladly support.

Personally, I think Hillary is no more competent than Obama to be president and I think she is just as far left but it is interesting to see the developing split between the progressives and what is left of the Democratic Party.

Read all three installments. I have only posted the sections that most interested me. There is a lot more, including some about Michelle that is interesting.

Can the Obama Democrats keep the coalition together ?

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

A book came out in 2002 that was based on Bill Clinton’s experience in electoral politics. It was called The Emerging Democratic Majority and its premise was that Clinton had created a new coalition of interest groups that would keep the Democrats the majority for years to come.

In support of their thesis they argue that the electorate is becoming increasingly diverse, with growing Asian, Hispanic and African-American populations-all groups that tend to vote Democratic. On the other hand, the number of white Americans, the voting population most likely to favor Republicans, remains static. Further, according to the authors, America’s transition from an industrial to a postindustrial economy is also producing voters who trend strongly Democratic. Judis and Teixeira coin the word “ideopolis” for the geographic areas where the postindustrial economy thrives. They also argue that other changes, specifically the growing educated professional class and the continuing “gender gap,” will benefit Democrats, whose political ideology is more consonant with the needs and beliefs of women and professionals.

This was a reasonable premise and Clinton had done well with it. Now, there is an analysis of the Obama election on this party coalition. The two off year governor elections are analyzed, especially that in Virginia.

But this group remained at least in play for the Democrats. Clinton inherited a coalition consisting of minorities, liberals, urban voters, and a decent remnant of Jacksonian voters in the Ohio River Valley and the South, who still preferred a moderate-to-conservative Democrat to a Republican. This coalition became a majority coalition when Clinton used a combination of fiscal conservatism and social moderation to bring suburban voters on board. This was a huge innovation for Democrats; suburbs like Nassau County, NY, Orange County, CA and Fairfax County, VA had fueled the rise of the Republican parties in those states. Clinton moved them substantially toward his side. This coalition allowed him to win by eight points in 1996; absent Perot and a last-minute fundraising scandal, he probably would have won by more.

Clinton intuited that suburban voters are, generally speaking, culturally cosmopolitan – they don’t like it when you call someone “macaca,” and aren’t crazy about the religious right. But they’re generally not particularly socially liberal either, and are fans of “law and order.” They like taxes low and appreciate economic growth, but like good schools and a clean environment. Having to balance a bunch of spending priorities with somewhat limited income in their daily lives, balanced budgets are the ultimate “good government” indicator for these voters.

I think this is true and, had the Democrats continued with Clinton’s example, they might well be looking at a long period of ascendency. Instead, they chose the progressive route and it is affecting the political future.

By 2008, Democrats held most of the suburban districts around major metropolitan areas, and were threatening in the exurbs. The right Democratic candidate probably could have put together a massive 2008 Presidential majority, combining minorities, liberals, Jacksonians, Catholics, and suburbanites. The mood of the country was certainly right for a 1920/1932/1952/1980 result.

But the Democrats nominated Barack Obama. The party’s grip among Jacksonians had weakened since Clinton left the stage, but they abandoned Obama completely. Jay Cost and I have detailed this here. This movement is why Obama received 53% of the vote, instead of the 60% or so we might expect given the voters’ attitude toward Bush’s Presidency.

Of course, the left will call this evidence of racism. I think it is ideology but we will see what the result is.

You only get to elect the first black President once, and governing a coalition of suburbanites, poor blacks, and upper class liberals isn’t easy. It is hard to keep that enthusiasm up. And with the Jacksonian wing of the party gone, if that enthusiasm dissipates, or if one of the coalition groups becomes disgruntled and starts to shuffle out the door, the party isn’t left with much.

I think this is correct and he hasn’t even mentioned the union problems that Democrats will have to face as pensions bankrupt municipalities all over the country. His premise is that the “Emerging Majority” of 2002 is looking already in decline. There is considerable detail on the politics of the two states in the article and it is worth reading in full. He has a discussion of the effects of the health care bills that I have linked in another post.

The Democrats seem to be on several precipices at the same time.

Afghanistan may be lost

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

UPDATE: We can all relax. John Kerry is going to Afghanistan to see what needs to be done. I guess he must know a lot about these things from his friends, the North Vietnamese.

Watching the last two weeks or so in the White House, gives me the sense that the decision is going to be the wrong one. There are three possible choices that Obama has; one is to take his hand-picked general’s advice and send 40,000 more troops. It will stress our military and the logistical challenges are serious. Afghanistan is land-locked and the neighbors are not friendly. Russia will try to create problems, as they already have in Kyrgyzstan. They do not want us to succeed yet they may fear total failure. In the meantime, they are making serious trouble.

Another option for Obama is to abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban and withdraw the troops. That goes against all of his, and the Democrats’ rhetoric during the campaign about how Iraq was a “war of choice” but Afghanistan was the “necessary war.”

The third option, and the one I fear is coming, is to muddle through much in the fashion of Lyndon Johnson after his advisors lost confidence in Vietnam and the mission there. That will sacrifice our all volunteer military for political purposes and it is already becoming apparent to the troops that they are not being supported. Morale is plummeting.

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan are depressed and deeply disillusioned, according to the chaplains of two US battalions that have spent nine months on the front line in the war against the Taleban.

Many feel that they are risking their lives — and that colleagues have died — for a futile mission and an Afghan population that does nothing to help them, the chaplains told The Times in their makeshift chapel on this fortress-like base in a dusty, brown valley southwest of Kabul.

“The many soldiers who come to see us have a sense of futility and anger about being here. They are really in a state of depression and despair and just want to get back to their families,” said Captain Jeff Masengale, of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2-87 Infantry Battalion.

Remember, these are not draftees and most have families. I should add to rebut a comment, that the soldiers have very high morale among themselves. This is typical in combat where they rely on others in the unit. Even in the Second World War, where the US Army was no match for the German Army man-for-man, soldiers would do almost anything to avoid letting down their friends and “team.” They are losing faith in the leadership, just as the Army did in Vietnam. Those are two different things. Forty years later, a penis is still referred to as a “Johnson” in the military.

More important than whether or not Obama will send in the 40,000 troops the generals are asking for is what constraints the troops on the ground will be asked to follow. Dropping leaflets on a population is futile when the population is illiterate. Explaining democracy to a people that have no conceptual understanding of liberty is equally difficult. Many Americans today view counterinsurgency operations chiefly as “hearts and minds” operations involving the handing out of teddy bears and candy bars. But the first step in isolating the enemy from the people is protecting the population from those who wish to destroy it. If you keep people safe, you gain their trust. McChrystal is not a man who will shy away from a fight. The surge in Iraq killed hundreds of insurgents using special operatives and regular infantry.

But the current rules of engagement (ROE) in Afghanistan are simply far too constrictive to eliminate large pockets of threat. The people of Afghanistan don’t trust their government and their police forces. We are years away from relying on them as we have with their Iraqi counterparts. The ROE are a direct reflection of that: We are forced to be gentle because of the barbaric manner in which the Afghanis treat their own people. This may make us feel good, but we choose this tactic at the risk of our young men and women.

The chief problem with our Afghanistan strategy is the craven politicians who want to micromanage the war. Moveon.org opposed the escalation of force in Afghanistan eight years ago. Since 2004, however, the Left has turned about-face, bellowing that we “took our eye off the ball” in Afghanistan by fighting the war in Iraq.

I think we are about to see a craven and mistaken decision to let the troops hang out there rather than accept the responsibility for losing the war. This seems to be the patterns of Democrats at war since the New Left took over in 1972. Bill Clinton avoided this in Serbia and Kosovo by bombing from 20,000 feet. It didn’t accomplish much but it did avoid the fate of Johnson and, I fear, Obama.

If the decision is to abandon the commitment to Afghanistan, do it openly and bring the troops home. No one will be fooled by anything else. The rest of the Army officers certainly aren’t fooled.

The hallways at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center buzzed with sympathy for McChrystal, who has said the U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan risks failure without a rapid infusion of additional forces. Obama and his advisers are now debating strategy in Afghanistan, with some officials arguing against additional deployments.

“It was definitely a hand slap,” one Army officer said of the statement last weekend by national security adviser James L. Jones, a retired Marine general, that military officials should pass advice to President Obama through their chain of command. The Army officer, like others attending the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army, spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the politically sensitive issue.

A number of senior Army officers compared McChrystal to Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff who warned before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 that it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure the country — advice that was dismissed as “wildly off the mark” by then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz.

Yes, but that was Bush and his administration. It now looks as though the Obama pullout will be called Pakistan first.

One of the ideas the Obama administration is considering in response to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan reportedly is called “Pakistan First.” Championed by Vice President Biden, the idea is to focus U.S. efforts on attacking al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas with drones or Special Forces, while backing the government’s efforts to pacify and develop the lawless areas where al-Qaeda and the Taliban are based. The battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, meanwhile, would be put on the back burner.

“Pakistan First” would excuse President Obama from having to anger his political base by dispatching the additional U.S. troops that his military commanders say are needed to stop the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan. It would nominally focus U.S. efforts on a nuclear-armed country that is of far greater strategic importance.

Yes, it would be a lie, of course, but a useful lie. One that keeps him from “angering his base.” Pakistan, however, isn’t fooled.

If the likes of Mullah Omar take over in Afghanistan, it will have serious implications for Pakistan,” Mr. Qureshi said. “They have a larger agenda, and the first to be impacted by that agenda is Pakistan. . . . Whether they do it in Pakistan or whether they do it in Afghanistan, it will have implications on Pakistan and it will have implications on the region.”

Well, you can’t please everyone.

The special relationship

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Last week, British PM Gordon Brown paid a visit to president Obama. There were a number of indignities foisted on the PM, including denying him a joint press conference, leaving the British press excluded from the meeting and, finally, his gift to the PM. I didn’t believe this story when I first heard it, thinking it a joke. Alas, it was true.

President Obama gave Prime Minister Brown a 25-DVD box set of classic American films. Prime Minister Brown obviously sees the gift as something of an indignity. The Daily Mail reports that “No 10 had tried to keep the present a secret, refusing to answer reporters who asked what President Obama had given to mark the reaffirmation of the special relationship.” Compared to the gifts brought for Obama by Brown, the DVDs are an embarrassment. Couldn’t Obama at least have thrown in an an autographed copy of The Audacity of Hope?

Brown, being the leader of a great country and aware of his role, gave Obma several fine gifts with real meaning.

The Prime Minister gave Mr Obama an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet. The unique present delighted Mr Obama because oak from the Gannet’s sister ship, HMS Resolute, was carved to make a desk that has sat in the Oval Office in the White House since 1880.

Mr Brown also handed over a framed commission for HMS Resolute and a first edition of the seven-volume biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.

In addition, Mr Brown and his wife showered gifts on the Obama children giving Sasha and Malia an outfit each from Topshop and six children’s books by British authors which are shortly to be published in America.

An additional insult is the fact that PM Brown is blind in one eye and has diminished vision in the other. The visit was a disaster and followed Obama’s return of a bust of Churchill that had graced the White House for years.

Really showing them that old Chicago class, aren’t we.

Fortunately, we have a highly talented Secretary of State, although her Russian could use some work.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her first extended talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by giving him a present meant to symbolize the Obama administration’s vow to “press the reset button” on U.S.-Russia relations.

She handed a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift: a red button on a black base with a Russian word peregruzka printed on top.

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton asked.

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said.

Instead of “reset,” Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.”

Yes, we have an administration of all the talents.

UPDATE: we have two explanations now. One is that the president is “overwhelmed.” The other is that Britain is not so special.

The Telegraph’s story contains this suggestion that Obama’s slight of the British Prime Minister may have been intentional, at least in part:

The real views of many in Obama administration were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.”

Obama’s economic policy

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Today we see the culmination of the wild speculation in the credit markets that has gone on the past ten years. A summary is here. A few highlights.

Last June, Obama vice-presidential selection co-chair Jim Johnson had to resign after his links to the Fannie Mae collapse became public. Who was Jim Johnson?

Johnson created the Fannie Mae Foundation where he served with distinction as its chairman and CEO from 1991 to 1998. In 1999, he became CEO of Fannie Mae.

As of 2006, Johnson is a vice chairman of the private banking firm Perseus LLC, a position he has held since 2001. He is also a member of the American Friends of Bilderberg, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Trilateral Commission.

Johnson earned the Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in 1968, and the Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1965.

What was his finance background ?

Well, he has worked for Democrat politicians.

Johnson began his career as a faculty member at Princeton University, later moving on to the United States Senate as a staff member and to the Dayton-Hudson Corporation (now Target Corp.) as director of public affairs. He was executive assistant to Vice President Walter Mondale during the entire Carter Administration (1977-1981). Later, he founded and headed Public Strategies, a private consulting firm, from 1981 to 1985 before leaving for Lehman Brothers.

Does that sound like finance ?

How about Franklin Raines ? Well, he at least has some background in finance, although his chief claim to fame is working for Democrat politicians again.

A statement issued by Raines said of the consent order, “is consistent with my acceptance of accountability as the leader of Fannie Mae and with my strong denial of the allegations made against me by OFHEO.”[4]
In a settlement with OFHEO and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Fannie paid a record $400 million civil fine. Fannie, which is the largest American financier and guarantor of home mortgages, also agreed to make changes in its corporate culture and accounting procedures and ways of managing risk.

In June 2008 Wall Street Journal reported that Franklin Raines was one of several politicians who received below market rates loans at Countrywide Financial because the corporation considered the officeholders “FOA’s”–”Friends of Angelo” (Countrywide Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo). He received loans for over $3 million while CEO of Fannie Mae. Franklin Raines is currently one of Barack Obama’s economic advisers.

What about Jamie Gorelick ? Well she works for Democrat politicians. What is her finance background ?

Well, she worked for Clinton. Isn’t that enough ?

But it was the Clinton administration, obsessed with multiculturalism, that dictated where mortgage lenders could lend, and originally helped create the market for the high-risk subprime loans now infecting like a retrovirus the balance sheets of many of Wall Street’s most revered institutions.

Tough new regulations forced lenders into high-risk areas where they had no choice but to lower lending standards to make the loans that sound business practices had previously guarded against making. It was either that or face stiff government penalties.

The untold story in this whole national crisis is that President Clinton put on steroids the Community Redevelopment Act, a well-intended Carter-era law designed to encourage minority homeownership. And in so doing, he helped create the market for the risky subprime loans that he and Democrats now decry as not only greedy but “predatory.”

Yes, the market was fueled by greed and overleveraging in the secondary market for subprimes, vis-a-vis mortgaged-backed securities traded on Wall Street. But the seed was planted in the ’90s by Clinton and his social engineers. They were the political catalyst behind this slow-motion financial train wreck.

And it was the Clinton administration that mismanaged the quasi-governmental agencies that over the decades have come to manage the real estate market in America.
As soon as Clinton crony Franklin Delano Raines took the helm in 1999 at Fannie Mae, for example, he used it as his personal piggy bank, looting it for a total of almost $100 million in compensation by the time he left in early 2005 under an ethical cloud.

Other Clinton cronies, including Janet Reno aide Jamie Gorelick, padded their pockets to the tune of another $75 million.

Raines was accused of overstating earnings and shifting losses so he and other senior executives could earn big bonuses.

In the end, Fannie had to pay a record $400 million civil fine for SEC and other violations, while also agreeing as part of a settlement to make changes in its accounting procedures and ways of managing risk.

But it was too little, too late. Raines had reportedly steered Fannie Mae business to subprime giant Countrywide Financial, which was saved from bankruptcy by Bank of America.

Well, there must have been a Republican somewhere in there. Well, McCain tried to get legislation passed in 2005 that would have reined in the out-of-control mortgage giants.

Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae’s regulator reported that the company’s quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were “illusions deliberately and systematically created” by the company’s senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae’s former chief executive officer, OFHEO’s report shows that over half of Mr. Raines’ compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac.

The OFHEO report also states that Fannie Mae used its political power to lobby Congress in an effort to interfere with the regulator’s examination of the company’s accounting problems. This report comes some weeks after Freddie Mac paid a record $3.8 million fine in a settlement with the Federal Election Commission and restated lobbying disclosure reports from 2004 to 2005. These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform.

For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs–and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.

It didn’t work and Obama, who took over 120,000 dollars from Fannie Mae is now trying to blame McCain for the debacle. Take a look at the chart.

A preview of the presidential campaign

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Senator Obama’s speech last night, after he gained the majority of delegates for the Democratic nomination even while losing both primaries, is analyzed here and shows a preview of what to expect this fall. His radical associations with Weathermen terrorist BIll Ayers and race-baiting Reverend Wright and Father Pfleger are off-limits. That’s religion which is unfair to consider.

The suggestion that he visit Iraq to see what has happened since his two-day visit in 2006 ? No, McCain needs to tour the US.

Maybe if he went to Pennsylvania and met the man who lost his job but can’t even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he’d understand that we can’t afford four more years of our addiction to oil from dictators. That man needs us to pass an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future—an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. That’s the change we need.

OK. Here are two items before us for consideration. Our addiction to oil from foreign dictators might be reduced if we drilled for oil in our own country, like ANWAR and the coastal shelf. Brazil has leased most of the world’s deep ocean drilling rigs to look for oil off its own shores. Why can’t we drill in our known reserves ?

Nuclear power provides over 75% of France’s electricity. Why are we not building lots of nuclear power plants ?

Canada has vast oil reserves, much of it in oil shale and tar sands. Why aren’t we developing refineries and exploration techniques to use this source from a close and friendly country that is not a “dictatorship” ? The Democrats in Congress have passed legislation that prohibits the government from using alternative fuels that have a larger carbon footprint than conventional oil. Greenhouse gases trump economics.

I wonder how willing the oil companies, which have world-wide operations, will be to turn over their profits to Obama ? I suspect they will simply move away, leaving us to get our energy from president Obama’s speeches.

How much success has Obama had in those states with economic troubles ? Not that much.

Clinton’s popular-vote victories thus far include the three biggest Electoral College prizes: California (a solid Democratic state), New York (another sure bet for the Democrats), and Texas (a solid Republican state). (Although Obama won more delegates in Texas, Clinton’s vote total exceeded Obama’s by nearly 100,000 votes.) However, her victories also include several of the largest swing states that both parties will be battling to win in November: Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as wins in the disputed Florida and Michigan primaries. As a result, Clinton’s 20 states represent more than 300 Electoral College votes while Obama’s 28 states and the District of Columbia represent only 224 Electoral College votes.

Obama won the nomination in caucuses, usually dominated by the more left wing sector of the Democratic Party, and early primaries before his awkward associations came to light. He hasn’t won a primary, except for Oregon, in the last month of the campaign. Oregon is a reliably Democrat state. The question is, can he win Ohio ?

The Left only wants to invade where it doesn’t matter

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

We now have great enthusiasm on the left for an invasion of Burma. While Burma is a humanitarian disaster, it is of no strategic significance to us. George Bush I was pressed to land troops in Somalia in 1991 to protect food that was being stolen by gangs from UN famine relief efforts. The left was wholeheartedly in favor of that invasion.

Then Bill Clinton decided to do some nation building and got his nose bloodied when sluggish generals got too predictable and the Ranger force was ambushed. Clinton quickly beat a retreat and Osama bin Laden decided we were a paper tiger.

Clinton loudly criticized Bush’s reluctance to intervene in Bosnia, although, when it came his turn to use force, US soldiers were ordered to patrol with empty machine guns on their humvees. When three were captured, Clinton decided to avoid ground troops in any subsequent action against Serbia. The result was civilian casualties that no one complained about and bombs hitting the Chinese embassy. Notice that all these stories use “NATO” as the source of the bombs. Do you think the press would have been so delicate if George W Bush had been president ?

Even Foreign Affairs, no right wing source, called the policy what it was: Foreign Policy as Social Work. Democrats do not care about strategy and national security; they want to “do good works.” Consequently, when George W Bush takes on a foreign policy dilemma like Iraq was in 2001 and makes a decision to “cut the Gordan Knot,” he gets hammered by the Left.

Such is politics in the US in the 21st century. God knows what a president Obama would have in store for us. He would probably invade Canada to stop them from refining oil shale.

Post American world II

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Last week, I posted a link to a Fareed Zakaria essay, an excerpt from his new book, that looks at the future of America with both hope and some reservations. Today, he has another piece in Newsweek that is based on the other essay with some additions. He has one big problem, however. Zakaria is a supporter of the Democratic Party.

How does he reconcile this:
The global economy has more than doubled in size over the last 15 years and is now approaching $54 trillion! Global trade has grown by 133 percent in the same period. The expansion of the global economic pie has been so large, with so many countries participating, that it has become the dominating force of the current era. Wars, terrorism, and civil strife cause disruptions temporarily but eventually they are overwhelmed by the waves of globalization. These circumstances may not last, but it is worth understanding what the world has looked like for the past few decades.

with this:

Much of the criticism was initiated by Clinton. But it assumed a life of its own as Obama struggled to explain why a Canadian government memo quoted one of his aides as saying Obama’s opposition to NAFTA was for political show.

and this:

PITTSBURGH – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told manufacturers and union workers on Monday that her husband made mistakes related to the North American Free Trade Agreement that she plans to fix. Her comment came in response to a question by a union worker at a summit sponsored by the Alliance for American Manufacturing. The worker said President Clinton had tricked them when he championed NAFTA during his presidency.

Zakari has to deal with the paradox that the party he supports is isolationist and irresponsible on issues like  regulation and taxes. He comments in the article that London is now the world financial capital because of litigation and new laws like Sarbanes-Oxley that drive financial business away from our country. He comments that we have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, ignoring the fact that his favorite candidate for president has just said he would raise the capital gains and corporate tax rates even if they lost money for the government.

Zakaria has a valuable new book but he must reconcile his preferred party’s policies with the world that he sees. It will be a problem.