Monday, 18 October 2010

OBAMA'S WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: HOW IS IT GOING?

Ken Berwitz

We all know how George Bush's war in Afghanistan went.  The taliban were ousted from Kabul, the terrorist camps were shut down, and we kept things that way with a relatively low number of troops and a relatively low number of U.S. casualties.

But under President Obama, the man who called Afghanistan "a war of necessity"?  We now have almost four times as many troops as President Bush ever put there, and combat deaths for Obama's 20 months are about equal to President Bush's 7 years.

What are we getting for it? 

Read this excerpt from today's article by Yochi Dreazan, writing for nationaljournal.com, and find out just how ugly the answer is:

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Al-Qaida militants are moving back into Afghanistan to plot new attacks here, highlighting the terror group's resilience despite nearly a decade of U.S.-led efforts to prevent its return to the country.

 

Several dozen al-Qaida operatives have left their bases in Pakistan and taken up new positions in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar and Nuristan provinces, remote regions which lie along the porous border between the two countries, according to senior officials with the International Security Assistance Force here.

 

The influx of al-Qaida fighters into Afghanistan, which hasn't previously been reported, could trigger fresh attacks on coalition and Afghan targets and hamper the intensifying push to strike peace deals with moderate elements of the Taliban.

That's right.  The result of President Obama's Afghanistan policy is that, with all those troops and the horrific increase in casualties:

-The taliban that Mr. Obama promised to eradicate is stronger than ever. 

-and osama bin laden, who Mr. Obama bitterly criticized President Bush for not capturing, remains uncaptured.

-In short, under Barack Obama Afghanistan has gone from a difficult military operation to an unmitigated disaster.

You may at this point be wondering why our wonderful "neutral" mainstream media are not screaming bloody murder over this, and why there are not protests at college campuses, in major urban areas, in Washington DC, etc. etc.etc.

If so, good question.  I guess it just isn't as problematic to them when Democrats are in charge.

If you have any better explanation, I would love to hear it.

One other thing:  if Mr. Dreazan actually thinks there are "moderate elements of the taliban", he should consider leaving National Journal and applying for a job in the Obama administration.


OBAMACARE: THE CONSEQUENCES CONTINUE

Ken Berwitz

I don't know how you can be shocked, or even surprised by this.

Here is the beginning of Ricardo Alonso-Zalvidar's article for the Associated Press, on the latest consequences of ObamaCare:

WASHINGTON Aerospace giant Boeing is joining the list of companies that say the new health care law could have a potential downside for their workers.

In a letter mailed to employees late last week, the company cited the overhaul as part of the reason it is asking some 90,000 nonunion workers to pay significantly more for their health plan next year. A copy of the letter was obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

Boeing says that, under its current structure, ObamaCare will prevent the company from being able to compete, especially with foreign companies such as Airbus.  So, will the Obama administration give a waiver to Boeing, the way it did to McDonald's last week? 

 

And if the waiver is forthcoming, how many other major companies will ask for one, and get it for the same reason?  And how ridiculously compromised will this health care horror show then become?

 

On the other hand, maybe the academics and navel-gazing philosophers who overpopulate Mr. Obama's brain trust think that this will all magically work out somehow.  Heck, in ivory towers and classroom models, things like that are always possible.

 

Too bad for Mr. Obama and his navel gazers that health care occurs is in the real world. 

 

And way, way too bad for us.


"FREDDY SEZ": R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

The Brooklyn Dodgers had leather-lunged Hilda Chester.

The Cleveland Indians have that nut in center field banging the big drum.

And, until this week, the Yankees had Freddy Schuman, also known as "Freddy Sez".  If Freddy was not the single most loyal, dedicated  Yankee fan of them all, he surely was in the top three. 

But no more.  On Friday, Freddie Schuman collapsed at the senior center where he lived, apparently suffered a heart attack, and died at the age of 85.

Freddy would walk through the stadium during each game with his Yankee hat, Yankee jacket, a hand-made sign extolling the Yankees -- and what appeared to be a metal frying pan and a ladle he banged the pan with, to make some noise and get the crowd going. 

I saw Freddy just about every time I was at Yankee stadium (which, lamentably, has not been for the past several years).  He was a character and a half, but never annoying or intrusive.  Freddy made a new "go-Yankees" sign for every game he attended (which was every game, period), and it was always fun to see what his new slogan was. 

Fans loved Freddy - especially fans with young children, whom he would give the ladle to so they could bang the pan.  And I read today that, at the end of each game, he gave his sign away to a fan of his choosing (I wish I had one). 

Freddy Schuman was in the old tradition of true, diehard fans.  A throwback.  An anachronism.  And a pure pleasure.

If you never saw and heard him you probably won't understand why, but trust me when I say that he will be greatly missed.

Ken Sez:  May Freddy rest in peace.


HARDBALL - WITH ONE SIDE PLAYING

Ken Berwitz

Chris Matthews did his "Hardball" show on MSNBC from the University of either Kentucky or Louisville tonight.

Frankly, it doesn't matter which one it was.  What does matter is that, with hundreds and hundreds of students visible in the background holding a sea of political signs, every sign held by every person - without any exception that I saw - either supported Democrat Jack Conway for the senate or Democrat John Yarmuth for congress. 

Please understand that I am not exaggerating.  A huge number of signs, big and small, with every one supporting a Democrat.

I have a great deal of difficulty believing that at a Kentucky university, with Republican Rand Paul leading in the polls, not even one student showed up with a Republican sign.   

But I have no difficulty at all believing that the Republicans at that university were in some way(s) discouraged from being on camera during this show.  

Matthews certainly saw the same signs I did.  And he certainly saw them before the show started. 

But did he say a thing about it?  Like, for example, that it seemed implausible for Republicans to be completely unrepresented?  No he did not. 

The only thing Matthews said that I heard, was a casual reference that Conway was "well represented".  What a partisan bozo.

Hardball?  Yeah, right.

================================================================

UPDATE:  I'm unable to watch tonight's hardball (Tuesday, that is), but I just read that Matthews reamed Conway for his TV ad, which essentially attacks Rand Paul based on a 30 year old claim from an anonymous source. 

Fair is fair, so I agree that this partially redeems Mr. Matthews. 

By the way, it is hard to see this ad doing anything but damaging what was left of Conway's chances. Paul is now free to discuss issues, while Conway will spend much of the next two weeks defending a clumsy, counterproductive attack ad he never should have okayed. 

Personally, I'm not at all impressed with Rand Paul, and never was.  But, because of this ad, I have lost a lot of the respect I had for Jack Conway.

WisOldMan MSNBC is simply a pinata held up by the left to serve as a distraction from the calamity they're engineering. And it's not Hardball...it's PillowTalk. (10/19/10)


BARACK SPEAKS

Ken Berwitz

Funny, funny, funny!

Just as I put up that last post, I was sent an email "signed" by President Obama, exhorting Democratic contributors to reach into their pockets again.  These are coming out every single day now - sometimes more than once a day - and "signed" by various Democratic big shots, but this is the first I recall with the President's name.

Here is what he is saying - with my thoughts in a few areas.  He's in rust, I'm in blue:

Dear XXXXXX,

 

You've always defied the cynics.

You overcame the big money special interests. We tackled the big issues. And together, we prevailed over long odds to win the presidency
.  Long odds?  With an unpopular Republican incumbent, a weak Republican challenger, and two million additional Black voters, almost all of whom vote Democrat even without a Black presidential candidate?  Thats long odds?  If I could get odds that long Id be at the race track every day.

The naysayers were wrong then. They're wrong now - but we only have 15 days to prove it.

Now they claim we aren't fired up like before. They say Republicans are riding a wave of frustration and anger all the way to November.

It's time to finish the job we started on that cold D.C. January morning. 
Finish the job?  Thats exactly how Id put it too though I doubt we have the same opinion of what the term means.

I'm counting on the DSCC to win the 15 Senate seats still up for grabs over these last 15 days. But they need $919,100 before midnight Thursday to unleash a massive GOTV blitz this weekend.

Remember, every dollar given today is matched, doubling your impact on Election Day.

Click here to rush $5 or more to the DSCC before midnight Thursday. I'm counting on the DSCC to win the 15 races going right down to the wire, and they need your help.

The last time Republicans were in power, we all saw that their approach just didn't work. Cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires, cutting regulations for special interests, cutting back on investments and education and clean energy: We've been there, done that. 
And now we are doing the opposite, and unemployment is far higher than it ever was the worst day of the Bush administration.  Oh, sorry, I forgot, hes responsible for higher unemployment when youre President too.

These Republicans haven't changed their agenda. They aren't offering new ideas. They're just selling the same old snake oil they've been peddling for years. But the pundits think that they can win anyway - if Democrats like you don't step up. 
Yawn.

I know we're a long way from the hope and excitement we felt when we proved the conventional wisdom wrong two years ago. But that victory wasn't the end of the road - it was the beginning. And the success of our mission depends on what you do in the next 15 days
.  By success, you mean what?  Since unemployment is higher in the Obama administration than when Bush was President, how high will it have to go to be successful?  How many more combat deaths in Afghanistan will we have to sustain, for absolutely no discernible reason, before thats a success (or do you blame your troop surges on Bush too)?  Id love to hear your definition of success.  

The DSCC has already begun to shift momentum in our favor in critical races - but Republicans only need to win 10 of the 15 seats up for grabs to take the majority. I'm counting on you to step up and help the DSCC meet its goal of $919,100 by midnight Thursday. Please give today and your contribution will be matched, doubling your impact.
This is about the 28,354th email youve sent telling us about the 15 close races and begging for more money.  Does it occur to you guys that using the same routine over and over and over again loses a bit of credibility over time?  

 

I know we're being tested right now. But if you keep moving forward in the face of difficulty, we will win this election. We have 15 days to prove the conventional wisdom wrong once again. And, once again, I'm betting on you.  Betting on your donor base?  Or laughing at how much $$$ you can sucker them into sending?

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

 


MURKOWSKI'S MURKY ETHICS

Ken Berwitz

Are you wondering how Lisa Murkowski, who lost the Alaska senate primary to Joe Miller and is not even on the ballot, has gotten so much support that - in the polls, anyway - she might win as a write-in?

Well Timothy P. Carney of the Washington Examiner may have the answer for you.  Here is the beginning of his article:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in candidacy is being funded by $100,000 contributions from a handful of Alaska corporations that have been handsomely subsidized by the federal government. These six-figure donors have pulled in billions of taxpayer dollars thanks to special legislative favors from Murkowski and her mentors -- the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R), and Lisa's father, former senator and governor, Frank Murkowski (R).

 

"Alaskans Standing Together," a special campaign committee, was formed late last month to attack Republican nominee Joe Miller and support Murkowski through ads. In late September AST took in $800,000 from nine Alaska Native Corporations -- unique, privileged, and politically connected for-profit entities created in the 1970s by legislation written by Stevens.

Would you be surprised if Lisa Murkowski's ethics parallel those of her father - the guy who Sarah Palin did Alaskans a favor by unseating as Governor?  If so, why?

It will be very interesting to see how much of mainstream media pick up on this dirty little slush fund.  My guess (and I genuinely hope I'm wrong) is damn few. 

After all, if it hurts the guy Tea Partiers favor, it can't be all bad.


ANTI-DEMOCRAT OR ANTI-INCUMBENT?

Ken Berwitz

I've heard this utter BS that the country's mood is "anti-incumbent" rather than anti-Democrat once too often.

My limit is 31,653 times, and it was exceeded this morning, when one of the so-called "pundits" (who cares which?) said it again. 

Enough already.  Debunking time.

Democrats control 59% of the house, and 59% of the senate.  For simplicity sake, let's call it 60-40 for both bodies.

That means, if the mood is strictly anti-incumbent, about 60% of the house seats and senate seats in play would be Democratic, and the remaining 40 would be Republican. 

Well, according to ABC News, there are 67 house seats where the incumbent is in danger of losing:  63 Democrats and 4 Republicans.  That comes to 94% - 6%, not 60% - 40%.

But, then again, ABC News is just one source.  Are there any others?

Ok, let's look at www.realclearpolitcs.com. In its analysis, Democrats have 123 safe seats in the house of representatives, and 58 "likely" or "leaning" Democrat - a total of 181.  Since Democrats currently have 255 house seats, that leaves 74, which is almost 30% of the Democratic total, either in "toss-up" or "Republican" territory . 

By contrast, Republicans have 163 safe seats in the house of representatives, and 49 "likely" or "leaning" Republican - a total of 212.  Since Republicans currently have 178 house seats, they are at 119% (a gain of 19%) already - with 42 more seats in the "tossup" column. 

Assuming the "likely"/"leaner seats stay where they are, and the toss-ups go equally for both parties, Republicans currently are in line to have 233 seats in the house - a gain of 53 versus Democrats, and more than enough to take control.

In the senate?  Again according to realclearpolitics.com, every Republican incumbent is secure; the only seats in jeopardy are Democratic ones.  No 60/40 split here; the disparity is 100%/0%.  And as things currently stand, Democrats are poised to lose 8-9 of those seats (roughly half of all Democrats up for re-election this year).  They might even lose 10 or more, which would give control to the Republican Party.

Does any of this look like a generically negative reaction against incumbents?  Or does it look far more like a specifically negative reaction against Democrats?  You tell me.

There are only two ways I can see for this to look generic. 1) through a funhouse mirror, and 2) through the eyes of many within our wonderful "neutral" media, who desperately cling to the hope that Democrats are in better shape than they actually are.

Now, for once and for all, please spare me the "anti-incumbent" BS. 

Thanks!!

free` Maybe as it gets closer to the election, the media can claim D's are up in the polls. Then when the D's lose, we can have a nice race/class war in the streets. Because since the media said D's would win, the R's must have cheated. DIEBOLD!!!! (10/18/10)


QUIEN ES HARRY REID? EL HOMBRE ES LOCO

Ken Berwitz

Did you hear the latest Harry Reidism?  If not, keep reading.  You'll love it.

Excerpted from an article at msnbc.com:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has compared President Barack Obama to a trapped Chilean miner.

 

In a speech to supporters in Las Vegas on Sunday night, Reid said that when Obama replaced George W. Bush in the White House he found himself in a "hole so deep that he couldn't see the outside world.

 

"It was like the Chilean miners, but he, being the man he is, rolled up his sleeves and said 'I am going to get us out of this hole,'" Reid said at an "Early Vote GOTV" event.

Regular readers know that I often put up blogs under the general heading "you can't make this stuff up".  Sometimes I think that Harry Reid, all by himself, could serve as the sole source for that heading.

Barack Obama took over a seriously faltering economy, that is true (though, beyond blaming George Bush, there is plenty more to say about why it was faltering -- very much including the fact that Democrats, not Republicans, ran both houses of congress during Bush's last two years in office, and wrote the budgets).

President Obama "rolled up his sleeves", all right.  And, with the help of Reid and his fellow Democrats, passed the so-called "stimulus package" that put us a trillion dollars more into debt -- and made things worse, not better.

Mr. Obama told us unemployment would stop rising and start falling.  Instead, it kept rising.  A lot. 

Mr. Obama also told us that much of the "stimulus" money would be used for "shovel-ready" projects" (Mr. Obama's words, not mine).   He now admits that "there's no such thing as shovel-ready projects".

Was he ignorant last year?  Lying to our faces?  It had to be one or the other - might have been both.

Maybe Mr. Obama should have asked a few of those Chilean miners Harry Reid was blathering about to give him their opinions of the "stimulus package".    Based on how his version turned out, it is a pretty fair bet they couldn't have had a worse understanding of the U.S. economy than Mr. Obama, Mr, Reid and Ms. Pelosi did.


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