Sunday, August 30, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Taliban Are Winning: U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Warns of Rising Casualties." Thus ran the startling headline on the front-page of The Wall Street Journal. The lead paragraph ran thus:
"The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency's spiritual home."
Source for the story: Gen. Stanley McChrystal himself.
The general's spokesman in Kabul was swift to separate him from that headline and lead. They "go too far," he said: The general does not believe the Taliban are winning or "gaining the upper hand."
Nevertheless, in the eighth year of America's war, the newly arrived field commander concedes that U.S. casualties, now at record levels, will continue to be high or go higher, and that our primary mission is no longer to run down and kill Taliban but to defend the Afghan population.
What went wrong?
Though U.S. force levels are higher than ever, the U.S. military situation is worse than ever. Though President Karzai is expected to win re-election, he is regarded as the ineffectual head of a corrupt regime. Though we have trained an Afghan army and police force of 220,000, twice that number are now needed. The Taliban are operating not only in the east, but in the north and west, and are taking control of the capital of the south, Kandahar.
NATO's response to Obama's request for more troops has been pathetic.
Europeans want to draw down the troops already sent. And Western opinion has soured on the war.
A poll commissioned by The Independent found 52 percent of Britons wanting to pull out and 58 percent believing the war is "unwinnable."
U.S. polls, too, have turned upside down.
A CBS-New York Times survey in late July found 33 percent saying the war was going well and 57 percent saying it was going badly or very badly. In a CNN poll in early August, Americans, by 54 percent to 41 percent, said they oppose the Afghan war that almost all Americans favored after 9-11 and Obama said in 2008 was the right war for America to fight.
The president is now approaching a decision that may prove as fateful for him and his country as was the one made by Lyndon Johnson to send the Marines ashore at Da Nang in December 1965.
Obama confronts a two-part question:
If, after eight years of fighting, the Taliban is stronger, more capable and closer to victory than it has ever been, what will it cost in additional U.S. troops, casualties, years and billions to turn this around? And what is so vital to us in that wilderness land worth another eight years of fighting, bleeding and dying, other than averting the humiliation of another American defeat?
From Secretary Gates to Gen. Petraeus, U.S. military and political leaders have been unanimous that the Afghan war does not lend itself to a military victory. Unfortunately, the Taliban does seem to believe in a military victory and triumphal return to power, and imposing upon the United States the same kind of defeat their fathers imposed upon the Soviet Union.
Whatever we may say of them, Taliban fighters have shown a greater willingness to die for a country free of us Americans than our Afghan allies have shown to die for the future we Americans envision for them.
In days, McChrystal is to provide the president with an assessment of what will be required for America to prevail.
Almost surely, the general's answer will be that success will require thousands more U.S. troops, billions more dollars, many more years of casualties. And if Obama yet believes this is a war of necessity we cannot lose, and he must soldier on, his decision will sunder his party and country, and put at risk his presidency.
If he refuses to deepen the U.S. commitment, it is hard to see how the United States can avoid what is at best a bloody stalemate.
But if he chooses to cut America's losses and get out, Obama risks a strategic debacle that will have our enemies rejoicing and open him up to the charge that he, the first African-American president, lost the war that America began as retribution for 9-11 and fought to prevent a second 9-11.
Had we gone into Afghanistan in 2001, knocked over the Taliban, driven out al-Qaida and departed, we would not be facing what we do today.
But we were seduced by the prospect of converting a backward tribal nation of 25 million, which has resisted every empire to set foot on its inhospitable soil, into a shining new democracy that would be a model for the Islamic world.
Now, whatever Obama decides, we shall pay a hellish price for the hubris of the nation-builders.
Mr. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, "The Death of the West,", "The Great Betrayal," "A Republic, Not an Empire" and "Where the Right Went Wrong."
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
August 11, 2009
In Case You Missed It…
Washington view: Texas economy shining brightly despite recession
By Don Brunell
August 10, 2009
The federal government is borrowing a trillion dollars to fund its massive stimulus plan, California is broke, the feds have taken over car companies and banks, and the national unemployment rate is 9.5 percent and rising. Nevertheless, bills moving through Congress would spend an additional $1 trillion on health care reform — an expenditure President Obama says is crucial to the nation's economic recovery. This, say supporters, is the only way to return the U.S. to prosperity.
Really? Perhaps they should take a look at what's happening in Texas
In Texas, business is booming. In 2008, 70 percent of all jobs created in the United States were created in Texas. That same year, Texas was named America's Top State for Business in CNBC's second annual study that scored states on 40 different competitiveness measures. Texas now surpasses New York as home to the most Fortune 500 companies, and Texas dominated Forbes' "Best Cities for Jobs in 2008" list with five cities in the top 20.
While the nation's unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, the rate in Texas is 7.5 percent. And while our state faces a $9 billion deficit, Texas has a $9 billion surplus. Instead of raising taxes, Texas is cutting them.
How did they do it? Gov. Rick Perry says holding the line on taxes, having a reasonable regulatory structure and offering economic development incentives such as the Texas Enterprise Fund and Texas Emerging Technology Fund have attracted hundreds of employers to Texas. He notes that 7,300 new jobs were created in Texas in November 2008 alone.
"We set the state up for it back in 2003," says Perry, "when we came in here and had about a $10 billion budget deficit. We were able to cut that deficit without raising taxes, passed the most sweeping tort reform in the nation, and people paid attention."
In fact, new businesses and doctors have flooded into the state in the wake of the lawsuit abuse reform legislation, which capped non-economic damages at $250,000. According to the Dallas Morning News, the average award prior to tort reform was $1.21 million; now it is $880,000.
Malpractice lawsuits have plummeted. In 2003, in a last-minute rush before lawsuit reform took effect, 1,108 medical liability suits were filed in Dallas County. Only 142 cases were filed the following year. In 2007, 184 cases were filed.
To ensure protection for patients, the legislature beefed up the power of the Texas Medical Board and disciplinary actions against doctors have nearly tripled since 2001.
Holding the line
Lawsuit reform has had a major impact on the state's economy. In addition to the influx of new businesses, more than 7,000 doctors have moved to Texas in the past three years. According to the Texas Medical Association, malpractice insurance premiums for Texas doctors have dropped more than 30 percent since 2003 and 15 new insurance companies have entered the Texas market. Regrettably, the federal health care reforms moving through Congress include nothing about lawsuit reform.
In addition, Gov. Perry is adamant about holding the line on costs. In fact, in the face of intense federal pressure, he refused to accept $550 million in unemployment insurance payments as part of the stimulus plan because it would have mandated a permanent expansion of unemployment benefits. "There was going to be a mandated tax on our small businesses of $75 million a year. And I said no."
Granted, Washington has also said "no" — no to major tort or lawsuit reform legislation, including efforts to adopt damage limits.
But we've also said "yes" to the unemployment money in the federal stimulus package and the resulting future increase in employer costs. And yes to energy policies that ignore hydropower, one of our most abundant natural resources and strongest competitiveness factors. And we're toying with other issues that might further erode our attractiveness to employers — cap and trade, paid family leave and employer gag rules, just to name a few.
There's an old proverb: "nothing succeeds like success." Before our state and our nation mortgage our children's (and grandchildren's) future on costly experiments, they should consider adopting some of the policies that have made Texas an economic powerhouse in the midst of a national recession.
Don Brunell is president of the Association of Washington Business, Washington state's chamber of commerce.
Angelika Concessions benefit the NTFB
August 7- September 3
Help the Angelika Film Center raise money for the North Texas Food Bank this August! The Angelika will donate $1 for every combo sold between August 7 and September 3. Remember, $1 feeds four people, so come by, check out Julie & Julia (Opens August 7) and buy a combo! Get tickets online at www.AngelikaFilmCenter.com.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
A Political Action Memo :
– Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”
– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”
– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions