Tuesday, 05 October 2010

AFGHANISTAN AND THE STRENGTHENING TALIBAN

Ken Berwitz

If there is one thing our media are not fond of reminding us, it is what Barack Obama campaigned on in 2008.

So let me help.

One of his key campaign thrusts was to attack the Bush administration for not getting rid of the taliban (as if anyone could eradicate a movement that festers in lawless, desolate terrain which no government has any hope of controlling or any army of conquering). 

Well, President Obama has been in office for 21 months now.  And during that time he has quadrupled our troop strength in Afghanistan, at a huge cost of troiop casualties, fatal and non-fatal, and untold billions of dollars. 

What is it accomplishing? 

Here, excerpted from an article in London's Daily Mail (certainly not a major US newspaper), is part of the answer:

Taliban has infiltrated Afghan forces, claims ex-UN official in warning that sleeper cells are awaiting  instructions to strike

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:19 PM on 4th October 2010

A former senior UN official has spoken of his concern that the Taliban has infiltrated the Afghan police and army.

Former executive director of the UN's Office of Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan, Antonio Maria Costa said Taliban sleeper cells had been set up inside the security forces.

According to Dr Costa the Taliban have already carried out a number of attacks and have scheduled further hits on Nato-led troops.

He said: 'We have plenty of evidence we had a number of suicide attacks carried out by people who had been trusted because they were affiliated to either the army or the police.

'Certainly there are sleeping cells, certainly there are individuals who are waiting for instruction to hit and that is one of the biggest problem, which we have seen in Afghanistan as of late.'

The comments come just as the coalition prepares to cede control of the country's security - the transfer should be complete by by 2014 - and the Taliban continue to bristle with intent.

To meet the handover target in four years requires 141,000 new recruits to be found within a year - more than the current size of the Afghan army.

And there are worries that the Taliban are taking the opportunity to enlist insurgents into the ranks.

Earlier today Taliban militants in Pakistan attacked and burned at least 20 tankers carrying oil bound for Nato and U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the third time in three days.

And last Wednesday coalition security officials said that an Al Qaeda terror plot to launch attacks in Britain, France and Germany was still active.

Want to blame President Bush for this?  If so, I don't want to hear it. 

Barack Obama called Afghanistan "a necessary war".  Barack Obama turned the successful containment strategy pursued by President Bush into the mess we are now in.  Not Bush.  Obama.

Did you know that we have suffered about the same number of combat fatalities in the less than two years Barack Obama has been President as we did in the seven years President Bush fought this war?  Well, we have. 

For WHAT?  Is Afghanistan improving?  Is it safer?  Is the government less corrupt?  Are the people better off? 

And, most importantly, has the taliban been held down, or is it clearly gaining strength and status? 

My final question:  When can I read about this in major USA newspapers and see features about it on the USA airwaves?  Why do I have to go to London to get this information?

Do our media have no scruples, no journalistic integrity, no shame at all?

Zeke ..... ..... ...... The Taliban are not a threat to the US. .... ...... We have no national interest in "defeating" them. .... .... .... The whole issue was that the Taliwackers were allowing al-Q'aeda to set up extensive bases and training facilities in Afghanistan. .... ..... GW Bush's limited efforts essentially wiped out al-Q'aeda in Afghanistan. .... .... ..... Limited forces with limitred, but vital objectives. ..... .... ..... Obama decided his Afghanistan policy was "Kick their Ass .... I'm the meanest Mo-Fo in the Hood" ..... ..... Meanwhile, al-Q'aeda has picked up, and moved to the next nation with a power vacuum. ..... ...... (10/05/10)


THE NEW ABC/WASHINGTON POST POLL

Ken Berwitz

The latest ABC/Washington Post poll is out and, for the most part, it provides great news for Democrats.  Barack Obama's approval rating is 50% positive and Democrats are trusted over Republicans on must specific issues.

If I were a Democrat I would be elated........until I read the sample breakdown.

It seems that, when asked which party they usually think of themselves as being part of, the split was Democrats 33%, Republicans 23% (Independents 39%, other 5%).  Looking only at the major parties, that comes to about 50% more Democrats than Republicans (33/56ths = 59%, versus 23/56ths = 41%).

If you believe that Democrats currently have a 10% lead over Republicans, and about 50% more major party loyalty than Republicans, you have every reason to be elated.

If, on the other hand, you look at the data, scratch your head in disbelief, compare them to other major polls and conclude they are way, way out of whack, you might see things a bit differently.

Your call.

free` If, on the other hand, you look at the data, scratch your head in disbelief, compare them to other major polls and conclude they are way, way out of whack, you might see things a bit differently. --------- It is unfortunate but the majority has no idea what you are talking about. All they see is what the MSM shows them. (10/06/10)


THE PARKER SPITZER DEBUT

Ken Berwitz

I was working last night and did not see the debut of CNN's new show, Parker Spitzer.

But here is a swatch of dialogue from one of its guests, the left wing tv and screenplay writer Aaron Sorkin, which I pulled from Brent Baker's blog at newsbusters.org:

Sarah Palin's an idiot. Come on. This is a remarkably, stunningly, jaw-droppingly incompetent and mean woman. (Audio: MP3 clip)

The fact that such a remarkably, stunningly, jaw-droppingly offensive comment went largely unchallenged by Parker and Spitzer should tell you just how diverse opinion is on this show.

In other words, it's CNN.


JACKASS JOE STRIKES AGAIN

Ken Berwitz

Joe Biden in Minnesota, campaigning for the unbalanced (literally, not a sarcasm) former senator and current Gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton:

Vice President Biden told Minnesota Democrats on Tuesday that if more Republicans complain about balancing the budget, he'd "strangle them."

We know how to create jobs, he said at a fundraiser in St. Paul for Mark Dayton, who is running for governor. And we know how to balance the budget.

In case you just got back from a two year trip to Venus, allow me to note that since the Obama/Biden administration took office, unemployment has significantly risen - from 8.1% when the so-called "stimulus package" was enacted to the current 9.6%.  And this year's deficit is estimated at almost two TRILLION dollars.

Not for nothing do I call him Jackass Joe.


PRESIDENT OBAMA'S MIDDLE EAST FIASCO

Ken Berwitz

I have written a great deal about what a complete mess President Obama has made of the so-called "peace process" between Israel and Palestinian Arabs. 

Based on this most recent fiasco, his incompetence and failure has, if anything, worsened.

Following are excerpts from middle east expert Barry Rubin's excellent analysis:

Monday, October 4, 2010

How Can Obama's Ineptness on Middle East Issues Be Explained, Especially When It Makes Him Look Foolish?

A friend who follows these issues closely wrote me to ask a question about something that is confusing him:

"How could Obama, who screwed up so badly before on the settlement issue, have convened a high-profile summit at the beginning of September only to possibly have it blow up in his face just weeks later because he failed to secure a deal on the moratorium [on construction] matter? How could he, and his staff, be so inept?....

"It's just hard to imagine that Obama didn't understand Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's constraints or Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas's weakness (and need to find an excuse to get out of a negotiating process he can't compromise on). ...This is simply incomprehensible, is it not?"

Well, such behavior is quite comprehensible if one understands that it is largely stupid not only from the standpoint of peace and U.S. interests but even in the context of the Obama Administration looking as if it knows what it's doing.  Let me state the issue in one sentence:

Knowing that it was unlikely he'd get a continued freeze and that the PA was eager to get out of negotiations, why did Obama stake so much of his prestige on success; give himself unnecessary self-imposed impossible deadlines; make a breakthrough seem likely and easy (despite giving lip service to the difficulties); and magnify the issue's importance so that a failure seemed all the worse?

Remember, this isn't the first time in the last month that Obama has set himself up for humiliation on the issue. He also made his big UN speech which presented the Israel-Palestinian conflict as the world's most important issue and made the potentially embarrassing prediction that he would resolve the conflict within one year.

So this is an example of incompetence on the part of the Obama Administration, though I've also pointed out how part of it is due to an element of cynical domestic political calculation.

For one thing, the Obama Administration is spoiled in the classical sense of that word. It knows the media won't ridicule it and thus it can get away with big mistakes. And that feeling of safety, in turn, encourages the kind of carelessness that leads to big mistakes.

Another factor is ideology. The administration's officials genuinely--and wrongly--seem to believe that this is the world's most important issue. Thus, the magnify it, an action that puts more pressure on them to solve it. Needing to solve it, they next think they can do so.

Connected with this is another misconception about the conflict, though on some levels they must know better. For example, they really seem to believe that the Palestinians are eager for a deal and Israel is recalcitrant. Almost all of their experience shows the contrary, yet that has no effect on their thinking. After all, it was the Palestinian leadership that killed Obama's September 2009 plan and stalled talks for a whole year.

The U.S. officials can think that if only Israel did more everything would be fine, but they must be aware that Arab states have refused to be helpful and that Abbas has tried to do everything possible to get out of talking. Their shortcoming, however, is that they have not made the leap to comprehending that their paradigm is wrong: the Palestinian leadership neither wants nor can deliver a compromise peace.

As long as they fail to reach that conclusion they keep banging their heads against the wall.

Obama is not doing a very good job on international affairs, as policymakers from countries all over the world know and say in private. Refusing to see that reality means finding it hopelessly impossible to understand what's happening in the world and especially in the Middle East nowadays.

The only thing more pathetic than Barack Obama's serial bungling of this situation is that so many of our wonderful "neutral" media have worked so dilligently to cover it up on Mr. Obama's behalf.  Because of media's complicity, most people have little knowledge beyond a general impression that President Obama is overseeing a peace initiative which may move things forward, and what's wrong with that?  They don't know how completely he is failing or why his failure is occurring.

 

Some things never change.

Zeke .... ..... "The Arabs (Palestinians) never miss an opportunity to Miss an Opportunity (for peace)" ... ... .... Abba Eban (Israeli Foreign Minister. Made after the Geneva peace talks in December 1973) (10/05/10)


INTERVIEWING: MATT LAUER STYLE

Ken Berwitz

Matt Lauer of the Today show interviewed New York Republican Gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino this morning.

I watched the entire segment and, even though I have often written about how partisan Lauer is when he conducts interviews, I was taken aback by how overtly hostile  Lauer was. 

Here is a transcript of the entire interview.  No bold print to influence you, just the verbatim questions and answers.

See if you come away with the level of disgust I do:

MATT LAUER: Carl Paladino is the Tea Party backed Republican candidate for governor of New York. Mr. Paladino, good morning. Nice to have you here.

 

CARL PALADINO: Good morning, Matt. Thank you.

 

LAUER: That's a different guy in those ads than I've seen over the last month or so. You have seemed to embrace the mantle of the angry candidate. Is that what you think voters want right now? 

 

PALADINO: I don't think it's anger. I think it's, it's people that are very frustrated and I'm just a reflection of that frustration.

 

LAUER: But they're frustrated at the status quo-

 

PALADINO: Right.

 

LAUER: What they have seen in Washington and in state houses across this country for years and years. Isn't part of that status quo anger and rage? Isn't it nasty campaigning between candidates that gets people nowhere once an official is elected? 

 

PALADINO: Well we've, we've left that gutter politics. We're interested in talking about the issues.

 

LAUER: How can you turn a corner like that, how can you practice that gutter politics for a long period of time and then all of a sudden say "That's not me any more?"

 

PALADINO: Well that was reaction, okay? The gutter politics came from Cuomo and his surrogates. They came out relentlessly after primary day and attacked, attacked and attacked.

 

LAUER: But you said, even in your own words, you said, this campaign will get nastier, that was a promise.

 

PALADINO: Yeah.

 

LAUER: So, I mean, if it's going to get nastier, are you going to participate in it or have you turned a corner? 

 

PALADINO: If, if, if that's, if that's the direction that he wanted to go in. Now we don't, we, we've decided that we're going to speak issues. We've challenged him to a debate a number of times. We're willing to debate every day from now until Election Day. We want to get those issues out to the people. We want him to answer for Obamacare. We want him to answer for the reckless mandates that are out there right now.

 

LAUER: You are brash, there's no question about it. You speak in blunt terms. One of the things you've said Mr. Paladino is that you're going to take a baseball bat to Albany. That is our state capital here. A lot of politicians have said that kind of thing in the past, "I mean I'm gonna crack heads, I'm gonna change things." And you know what happens? Those candidates get elected, if they're lucky enough, and they go to state houses or the White House and they run into the system and all of a sudden they realize they need not to crack heads, they need to build bridges. For some reason, I look at you, I'm not sure you're a bridge builder. Tell me I'm wrong.

 

PALADINO: No, I bring my own sandbox. You see we've been conditioned over the years to think that government in Albany is the way government should be, three men in a room. That's not the, the representative republic that, that the Constitution outlined. We, we have legislators that sit there and wait for Sheldon Silver to do what, what he, you know to, to listen for, for, to him for the word on what they're to do today. That's not, that's not proper. That's not government.

 

LAUER: But, but in more, in more general terms. Obviously there are a lot of Democrats out there who don't like you, it's a Democratically dominated state. There are some Republicans who don't like you. The state chairman of the Conservative Party said something, and I'm paraphrasing here, that if you won the primary it would be a dark period for the Republican Party. The - Rick, Rick Lazio, who you ran against in the primary won't endorse you. He apparently has a low opinion of you-

 

PALADINO: And I'm not looking for it.

 

LAUER: Okay? But, but who are, who's your base that's going to help you get things done when you actually, if you win and go, go to Albany?

 

PALADINO: My baseball bat is the people. The people. I've been speaking to the people for the last few months. That's why we had that huge plurality in the Republican primary and that's why we're going to have this, this mandate coming to us from the, from the entire electorate. It's the people and nobody wants to listen to the people. These rulers, these rulers in Albany that have been feeding at the public trough for so long, they just don't want to change.

 

LAUER: On a more personal note, you have admitted to sending a series of emails that many people found highly offensive. There was language, there were words, in some of those emails, that were very offensive. There were characterizations, even of President Obama and Michelle Obama that many found highly offensive. You said it showed bad judgment. But you're saying that now, that you're running for governor, you didn't think that, when you pushed the send button on those emails.

 

PALADINO: People want to hear about the high crimes and misdemeanors in Albany. They want, they want an answer as to why Andrew Cuomo get-

 

LAUER: People want judgment.

 

PALADINO: -took a bribe from Farkas.

 

LAUER: People, people want to know if the person they put in Albany as the governor has proper judgment. Can you tell, do you have that proper judgment?

 

PALADINO: I have it. I've illustrated it time and again. I've illustrated it for my entire career. But where's Andrew Cuomo on the Farkas deal? We've, we've asked him to explain his, his actions in taking a bribe of $1.2 million from Andrew Farkas when, when he put his thumb on the prosecution of Andrew Farkas at HUD.

 

LAUER: People think that this midterm election is going to be, in many ways, a referendum on Barack Obama and the first two years of his presidency. Is that the way you see it or is it something else?

 

PALADINO: No I think this is the people in, in New York state, the people are concerned with a government that's recklessly spending their money. That's overtaxing them, that is burdening them with all kinds of rules and regulation and for sure is not paying attention to the creation of good, fulfilling jobs. I will do that.

 

LAUER: Carl Paladino who is running for governor of New York. Mr. Paladino thanks for your time this morning.

 

PALADINO: Thank you.

Is it just me? 

The way I read this, Paladino was fighting to talk about issues while Lauer was fighting to toss as much dirt as he could so that Paladino would have to forgo a discussion of issues and defend himself.

Frankly, I'm not a fan of Carl Paladino's. But the truth is, he handled himself  very well - especially given the overt hostility sneered out by Lauer, who clearly was trying to get a rise out of him any way he could.. 

As Phil Rizzuto used to say, "He showed me something".

free` I am sure lauer will treat cuomo the same way. LOL (10/06/10)


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