Saturday, January 09, 2010
THE CONSEQUENCES OF OBAMA: TERRORISM IS BACK
Rev. Jeremiah Wright said that the "chickens came home to roost" on 9-11. He was wrong. But they have now, indeed, come home to roost as we witness the results of the unilateral disarmament President Obama has practiced in the war on terror. Beset once more by terrorism on our soil and in our airspace, we find ourselves suddenly overmatched by those who the Bush Administration kept away from our shores for seven years.
This new onset of terrorism is not the product of any change in the international environment or some new "systemic" flaw in our intelligence operations. It is due to the policy of President Obama in letting down our guard and inhibiting those charged with our protection.
Under Obama, the hunters have become the hunted as America inverted her priorities. Those who have been working to keep us safe have, themselves, come under scrutiny for profiling, harsh interrogation techniques, and a failure to give terrorists constitutional rights they don't have.
The result is predictable: Timidity and caution have become the order of the day in our intelligence community. In a world where hunch, guesswork, and a willingness to leap to conclusions by imagining the worst are vital to success, a cover your butt mentality has taken over. If you come to the wrong conclusion, if you profile without adequate justification, if you accuse incorrectly, you are finished. Your career and your pension will be gone. Guess right and you are accorded anonymity. Guess wrong and you're through.
The failure of the intelligence operatives to pass along the information about the Ft. Hood shooter or the airline bomber did not flow from a blind spot or a lack of co-ordination, they stemmed from terrorism of a different sort -- the terror of making a mistake and falling on the harsh mercies of Eric Holder.
Now Nigerian terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutall sits, lawyered up, in a federal prison. His interrogation will proceed, if at all, under the watchful eye of his counsel. He will not finger other operatives nor warn us of other impending attacks. He will receive the full panoply of constitutional rights, none of which he is entitled to.
Barack Obama does not seem to understand that these terrorists come here to use our laws and our system, not to protect us, not even to shelter themselves, but to destroy us.
Abdulmutall should be interrogated by the military, without benefit of counsel. The evidence we obtain should not be admissible in a court of law nor used as the basis for his sentencing. But it must be used to ward off future threats and attacks.
But Obama is a true believer. His persistence in downgrading the war on terror to a criminal investigation will continue. And we will experience more and more attacks. Because pessimism is the bodyguard of liberalism, he will explain to us that the world has become more threatening and that he is doing all he can to keep us safe. But the truth will be that it will have been his policies and priorities that are leaving us exposed. And the attacks will continue.
When War Is Not Metaphor
My dinner partner at the holiday table was home on leave from Army Ranger training. He had been living outdoors, learning to be at home in the rain and the mud, eating to lose weight and build muscle through rigorous sleep-deprived maneuvers. He could run, jump and do push-ups in numbers that would embarrass the regulars at the local gym who pump iron and swim their laps in the comfort of indoor luxury.
He was looking forward to deploying to Afghanistan. I wasn't sure I heard him right, so I asked him to repeat himself. Yes, he was looking forward to deploying to Afghanistan. He had been an ROTC cadet at one of our elite Eastern universities. He was sure that none from his class could be happier than he was. He wanted to be an Army Ranger because it would give his life meaning and purpose. He wasn't sure many of his classmates in other professions would say that. He wanted a part of ensuring the future of his country.
With neither sentiment nor arrogance, he talked of taking seriously the defense of country. He regards al-Qaida-trained terrorists as a deep and lethal threat to everything he holds dear...
President Obama observed the obvious in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, but it was a needed reminder: "Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida's leader to lay down their arms." He reminded his Norwegian hosts that many of their countrymen feel "deep ambivalence about military action today."
What he didn't talk about was the deep ambivalence many Americans as well feel toward military action. It's those ambivalent Americans the president yielded to in granting the Christmas Day bomber a civil rather than a military trial. Why the man with explosives in his underwear should be dealt with differently than, say, the eight Nazi saboteurs who arrived on the Atlantic shore in 1942 with explosives in a suitcase is a puzzle. They got their day in a military court, and though they never managed to detonate a single bomb, six were executed in the electric chair, one was sentenced to life in prison and the other was sentenced to 30 years.
Some of our most squeamish citizens cannot grasp the reality that the war on terror is not metaphor, that neither a saboteur nor a terrorist is entitled to the rights of a common criminal. Their arguments are weak and predictable. "We have nothing to be ashamed of, little to fear and much to be proud of treating captured foreign terrorists as we would treat any upstanding American who tried to blow up an airplane full of people," writes Michael Kinsley in The New York Times.
Such reasoning is easy for those who intend no sacrifice, and patently absurd. There's a huge difference, obvious to most of us, between a domestic shooter serving his own ends and a terrorist recruited in the Third World, radicalized in London and trained in Yemen to blow up innocents and spread fear. Our law recognizes such difference, and only a fancy double-talker would try to equate them.
More return to fight after leaving Gitmo
One in five terror suspects released from the Guantanamo Bay prison has returned to the fight, according to a classified Pentagon report expected to stoke an already fierce debate over President Barack Obama's plan to close the military prison. The finding reflects an upward trend on the recidivism rate, although human rights activists who advocate closing the prison have questioned the validity of such numbers.
Early last year, the Pentagon reported that the rate of released detainees returning to militancy was 11 percent. In April, it was 14 percent. The latest figure was 20 percent, according to a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report had not been declassified and released.
Critics of the reports say there is so little information in the assessments that they are nearly impossible to verify independently. Civil rights advocates say the number of fighters suspected of or confirmed as returning to the battlefield is likely to be much smaller.
According to a senior administration official, the White House has not been presented with information that suggests that any of the detainees transferred during the Obama administration has returned to the fight.
Meanwhile, Republicans say the rising number suggests the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot be closed because that would mean either releasing hardened terrorists back into the fight or moving them into U.S. prisons, which many Americans oppose. "Guantanamo remains the proper place for holding terrorists, especially those who may not be able to be detained as securely in a third country," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
Although Obama said Tuesday that he still wants to close the detention facility, Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell suggested Wednesday that such plans were on hold. Congress has put severe limits on the endeavor. "We are right now left without either the money or the authority to move detainees from Guantanamo Bay," Morrell said.
Under significant political pressure, Obama has said he won't release any more detainees to Yemen because of al-Qaida's grip on that nation. Nearly half of the remaining 198 detainees at Guantanamo Bay are from Yemen.
Following the Irish Example
While American politicians continue to indulge the unsustainable excesses of a federal government already littered with unnecessary functions, other nations have wisely begun to read the handwriting on the wall.
What does it say? “Cut, cut, cut!”
Take Ireland, which (like America) found itself buried under a mountain of deficit spending in 2009 as the global economic recession crippled income and revenue growth. Making matters worse, a huge speculative housing boom swept across the nation just prior to the bottom falling out of the global economy, which has made its recession even more severe. In fact Ireland’s unemployment rate is currently 12.8% – the third highest rate in all of Europe.
Things got so bad that at one point last year, the Irish government was borrowing €400 million ($575 million) a week just to keep its head above water, with its deficit rapidly approaching 20% of its gross domestic product. At that level, “the very financial survival of Ireland would have been at risk,” according to the country’s finance minister.
Sound familiar? It’s almost exactly what’s happening in America, albeit on a smaller scale. Yet while American politicians are pushing new socialist spending sprees and bigger government power grabs in 2010, Ireland’s government is doing exactly what the country’s businesses and families have been forced to do as a result of the downturn – find ways to make ends meet.
In addition to slashing salaries for more than 400,000 government workers (including its top administration officials), Irish leaders have also shown a willingness to trim back numerous social welfare programs. All told, the Irish cuts will save as much as $6 billion this year – and as much as $22 billion over the next four years.
Ireland is not making these decisions in a vacuum. In fact, the country has already learned the hard way that unchecked government growth does not translate into “recovery.” During the 1980’s, a massive expansion of government debt (and a failure on the part of political leaders to make cuts when they were necessary) spawned anemic economic growth, soaring interest rates and an unemployment rate that soared to nearly 20%. Irish economists refer to this period as “the lost decade.” “In the 1980s, we saw what can happen when you ignore the problem of overspending,” Alan Ahearne, a special adviser in Ireland’s Finance Ministry, told The Washington Post in December. “We’re not going to make that mistake again.”
American politicians, on the other hand, are tripping over themselves in a headlong rush to make precisely that same mistake – on a much larger scale. Not content with a dramatic expansion of the size and scope of the federal government, President Barack Obama and his Congressional allies are planning to pour billions of additional taxpayer dollars down the sinkhole of state government bureaucracies in 2010 – this in spite of clear and compelling evidence that such spending has failed miserably to stimulate economic “recovery.”
Meanwhile, a seemingly un-scalable mountain of government debt grows even higher – while the taxpayers’ ability to repay it is further hamstrung. In fact, according to a recent report from the Heritage Foundation, Obama’s budget proposals would impose $13 trillion in deficit spending over the coming decade, bringing annual budget deficits in America to more than $2 trillion and the U.S. public debt to more than $20 trillion.
This is beyond reckless – it is courting economic calamity on an unprecedented scale. Yet unlike leaders in Ireland, politicians in America appear incapable of grasping the fundamental reality that nations cannot borrow their way out of debt – or borrow their way into prosperity. The longer America’s current leaders refuse to acknowledge this self-evident truth, the deeper the hole gets for the American taxpayers.
Some REAL hopey change
Politicians, businessmen and labor union spokesmen have whined about the decline in U.S. manufacturing. Before looking into what they say is the sad decline in U.S. manufacturing, let's examine what has happened in agriculture. In 1790, farmers were 90 percent of the U.S. labor force. By 1900, only about 41 percent of our labor force was employed in agriculture. By 2008, less than 3 percent of Americans are employed in agriculture. What would you have Congress do in the face of this precipitous loss of agricultural jobs? One thing Congress could do is outlaw all of the technological advances and machinery that have made our farmers the world's most productive. Our farmers are so productive that if needed, they could feed the entire world.
Let's look at manufacturing. According to Dr. Mark Perry's Department of Labor employment data, in his article "Manufacturing's Death Greatly Exaggerated", U.S. manufacturing employment peaked at 19.5 million jobs in 1979. Since 1979, the manufacturing workforce has shrunk by 40 percent and there's every indication that manufacturing employment will continue to shrink. Before you buy into the call for Congress to do something about manufacturing job loss, there are some other facts to be considered.
According to the Federal Reserve, the dollar value of U.S. manufacturing output in November was $2.72 trillion (in 2000 dollars). Today's manufacturing worker is so productive that the value of his average output is $234,220. Output per worker is three times as high as it was in 1980 and twice as high as it was in 1990. For the year 2008, the Federal Reserve estimates that the value of U.S. manufacturing output was about $3.7 trillion (in 2008 dollars). If the U.S. manufacturing sector were a separate economy, with its own GDP, it would be tied with Germany as the world's fourth richest economy. The GDPs are: U.S. ($14.2 trillion), Japan ($4.9 trillion), China ($4.3 trillion), U.S. manufacturing ($3.7 trillion), Germany ($3.7 trillion), France ($2.9 trillion) and the United Kingdom ($2.7 trillion).
These facts put a lie to claims we hear about how we are a country that "doesn't produce anything anymore," and how we have "outsourced our production to China," and there's been a "demise of U.S. manufacturing." U.S. manufacturing has gone through the same kind of labor-saving technological innovation as agriculture. Should we discard that innovation in the name of saving jobs?
Israel says tests on Iron Dome missile shield have been a success: "Israel has announced the successful testing of its Iron Dome anti-missile system, said to be capable of intercepting rockets launched by militants in Gaza and South Lebanon. The shield, which fires missiles at incoming threats that it identifies by radar, is being called a “gamechanger” in the way that Israel can conduct its defences. The system can estimate where a missile will land, targeting those that will hit populated areas while ignoring missiles heading for open ground, military experts said. Iron Dome would stop missiles with a range of between 4 and 70 kilometres (2.5 and 45 miles), spanning smaller mortar shells from Gaza to the Iranian-made Fajr rockets fired by Hezbollah in Lebanon."
The French discover Churchill: "President Sarkozy may have cooled to Gordon Brown, but France has just fallen for the charms of another British leader — Sir Winston Churchill. “Le Vieux Lion,” as the British leader was known, has found new popularity thanks to two bestselling books — a fresh translation of his Second World War memoirs and a prize-winning biography. Enthusiasm for Churchill is being fed by new interest in the war era among a generation born since France preferred to forget the trauma of the Nazi occupation. Recent war documentaries, including a spectacular colour series on the France2 channel last autumn, have brought the period closer to modern France, said François Kersaudy, author of the new biography Winston Churchill. “The younger generation knew very little about Churchill but they are beginning to discover him through the memoirs,” Mr Kersaudy told The Times. His book, which won the Grand Prix for political biography last year, depicts the Prime Minister as a towering figure in European history."
'Wrong type of snow' halts Anglo-French train AGAIN: "A Eurostar train broke down in the Channel Tunnel today, leaving 256 passengers stranded, after the wrong type of snow affected its electrical system. A rescue team was immediately despatched to rescue those on board, with all other services halted as a precaution. The train was towed from the tunnel by a diesel locomotive this morning. Eurostar 9113 ground to a halt around six miles from the British entrance to the tunnel at Folkstone after heavy snow in northern France affected the electrics. As happened during severe delays over Christmas, the snow melted as it entered the warmth of the Tunnel, so causing severe condensation which affected the train’s electrics, said engineers in France. The breakdown follows a three-day halt to Eurostar services just before Christmas after the wrong type of ‘fluffy’ snow caused a series of stoppages.
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Posted by JR at 12:09 AM