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FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, October 24, 2008


PAKISTAN AIMS FOR AN AWAKENING

By Ed Morrissey

The Pakistani government has taken a new step in asserting itself in the lawless tribal regions on its border with Afghanistan.  They have armed anti-Taliban tribal fighters, known as lashkars, with AK-47s and given them free rein to conduct operations against the Islamist radicals.  The Gilani government in Islamabad wants to emulate the Awakening movement in Iraq by building a grassroots effort against terrorism:

Pakistan plans to arm tens of thousands of anti-Taliban tribal fighters in its western border region in hopes — shared by the U.S. military — that the nascent militias can replicate the tribal “Awakening” movement that proved decisive in the battle against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The militias, called lashkars, will receive Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifles and other small arms, a purchase arranged during a visit to Beijing this month by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistani officials said.

Many Bush administration officials remain skeptical of Pakistan’s long-term commitment to fighting the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups ensconced in the mountains near the border with Afghanistan. But the decision to arm the lashkars, which emerged as organized fighting forces only in the past few months, is one of several recent actions that have led the Pentagon to believe that the Pakistani effort has become more aggressive.

Undoubtedly, this will help in the federally-administered tribal areas (FATAs) like the Waziristans and the NWFP.  The lashkars already have almost 30,000 men ready to fight, and the Taliban has already taken notice of them.  They have begun to conduct suicide operations against the lashkars and have beheaded eight of them in the last few weeks.  Until now, the lashkars used old weapons with little firepower, but the AK-47s will help close the firepower gap with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

There are some significant differences between Iraq and Pakistan on this issue, though.  The central government has almost no presence in the FATAs, and the tribal mix is more complicated.  In Iraq, most of the destruction came from outsiders brought into the Sunni areas by AQ, whereas in Pakistan, most of the combatants are natives.  This Awakening will look less like a grassroots police action than a civil war, or perhaps more accurately, a tribal war pitting Pashtuns against everyone else in the region.

Pakistan needs to assert its sovereignty in the FATAs if it hopes to end the fighting, and not just militarily.  People in the FATAs have grave concerns about food and infrastructure security, which tends to create more radicals.  Unfortunately, as in Afghanistan, this becomes a vicious-cycle problem, because one cannot build food security and infrastructure while radicals target everything in sight, and the lack of food security creates more radicals.

In Iraq, we broke the cycle by putting a dominant military presence on the ground.  Pakistan eventually will have to do the same thing, or have someone else do it for them.  Given the mountainous terrain and the isolation of the tribes in these regions, that’s going to be a very difficult proposition.  Until then, perhaps the lashkars can get lucky and take out the Taliban/AQ leadership by reaching where government troops cannot.  A similar strategy worked for us in 2001 with the Northern Alliance.  Thursday, October 23, 2008

http://hotair.com

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PRICELESS

By Jerry Holbert


Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

www.townhall.com/funnies  


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COCAINE JIHAD

By John Hinderaker

Colombian authorities announced today that they have broken up a drug and money-laundering ring that apparently financed Hezbollah terrorists:

More than 100 suspects were arrested in Colombia and overseas on charges they trafficked drugs and laundered cash for Colombia's Norte del Valle cartel and for outlawed paramilitaries in a network that stretched from South America to Asia, the attorney's general office said.

"The criminal organisation used routes through Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, Middle East and Europe, bringing in cash from the sale of these substances," the statement said.

Among those arrested in Colombia were three people suspected of coordinating drug smuggling to send some of their profits to groups such as Hezbollah, the office said.

Those suspects -- Chekry Mahmoud Harb, Ali Mohamad Abdul Rahim and Zacaria Hussein Harb -- used front companies to send drug cash overseas, it said without providing further details.

Mahmoud, Mohamad and Hussein--not the names we traditionally associate with Latin American drug smugglers. What we're seeing here, I think, is another sign of the emerging Russia/Iran/Venezuela axis. This unholy alliance could be the major foreign policy challenge of the next four years.

If that's right, it is dispiriting to realize that we likely will have a President so hostile to America's ally Colombia that he doesn't want American manufacturers to be able to sell their goods there free of tariffs. Nor are we sure what his attitude is toward our bitter enemy, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. If he's ever been critical of Chavez, who refers to the President of the United States as "the Devil," I haven't seen it. Moreover, in 2006 Obama's friend and collaborator Bill Ayers traveled to Venezuela to address Chavez and fellow party members as "comrades" and praise Venezuelan education because it is thoroughly politicized and endeavors to perpetuate socialism. Ayers said that he wants American education to follow that socialist model. Who has funded Ayers' radical educational projects? Barack Obama.

It would be nice if, during the next four years, we had a President who 1) understands who are America's friends and who are America's enemies, and 2) is on the side of America and its friends. Right now, that doesn't seem likely.  October 22, 2008

www.powerlineblog.com


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REUTERS: RACISM EVERYWHERE, YET SPORADIC AND ISOLATED

By Charles Johnson

The mainstream media are absolutely relentless with this overblown nonsense: Ugly election incidents show lingering US racism.

Now there’s an unbiased headline.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Reuters) - Two weeks before an election that could install the first black U.S. president, scattered ugly incidents have reflected a deep residue of racism among some segments of white America.

A cardboard likeness of Barack Obama was found strung from fishing wire at a university, the Democratic presidential nominee’s face was depicted on mock food stamps, the body of a black bear was left at another university with Obama posters attached to it.

Though the incidents are sporadic and apparently isolated, they stirred up memories of the violent racial past of a country where segregation and lynchings only ended within the last 50 years.

So let’s recap. In the world of Reuters, a tiny number of scattered, sporadic, isolated incidents proves that there is a “deep residue of racism” among white Americans.

How do they look at themselves in the mirror after writing such garbage?

AYERS REPUBLISHED HIS REVOLUTIONARY MANIFESTO IN 2006

By Charles Johnson

Yesterday we linked to Zombie’s new report on “Billy” Ayers’ and Bernardine Dohrn’s 1974 communist declaration of war against the United States.

Little did we realize that Ayers actually republished this book dedicated to Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan ... in 2006: Sing a Battle Song: The Revolutionary Poetry, Statements, and Communiqus of the Weather Underground 1970 - 1974: Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Jeff Jones: Books.


Outraged by the Vietnam War and racism in America, a group of young American radicals announced their intention to “bring the war home.” The Weather Underground waged a low-level war against the U.S. government through much of the 1970s, bombing the Capitol building, breaking Timothy Leary out of prison, and evading one of the largest FBI manhunts in history.

Sing a Battle Song brings together the three complete and unedited publications produced by the Weatherman during their most active period underground, 1970 to 1974: The Weather Eye: Communiques from the Weather Underground; Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism; and Sing a Battle Song: Poems by Women in the Weather Underground Organization

Sing a Battle Song is introduced and annotated by three of the Weather Underground’s original organizers-Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, and Jeff Jones-all of whom are all still actively engaged in social justice movement work. Bernardine Dohrn, who during her years underground was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, today is a child advocate and professor of children’s law and international human rights. Bill Ayers, education professor and author of numerous books on democratic education is the author of a memoir, Fugitive Days. Jeff Jones, an environmentalist, fights global warming and other environmental threats that disproportionately harm the lives of the world’s poor.

Idealistic, inspired, pissed-off, and often way-over-the-top, the writings of the Weather Underground epitomizes the sexual, psychedelic, anti-war counterculture of the American 1960s and 1970s.

About the Author Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and Jeffrey Jones are former leaders of the Weather Underground. Dohrn teaches law and runs the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University

UPDATE: For more info on this violent work, Zombie’s report has been updated with some new sections: William Ayers’ forgotten communist manifesto: Prairie FireThursday, October 23, 2008

http://littlegreenfootballs.com


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THE RULES

By Robert Arial


Political Cartoons by Robert Arial

www.townhall.com/funnies  


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NY TIMES = JUNK

By John Hinderaker

The New York Times continues its downward spiral to oblivion:

The New York Times Co. reported a steep drop in third-quarter profits on Thursday, the latest gloomy earnings report in an industry battered by online competition and falling print advertising revenue.

The New York Times Co. said net profit fell by 51.4 percent in the third quarter to 6.5 million dollars, or five cents per share, from 13.4 million dollars, or nine cents per share, in the same period a year ago. ...

Shortly after the release of its results, Standard & Poors said it was lowering the Times's credit rating to "BB-," or junk status, while Moody's Investors Service said it was placing it on review for possible downgrade.

Moody's changed the rating outlook for the company to negative from stable in July. A further downgrade would reduce it to junk status.

It's been said that the entire value of the New York Times Company is represented by its building in Manhattan--that the twenty or so papers the company owns, including the New York Times and the Boston Globe, have zero value. I'm not sure whether that's right, but if it is, Power Line is worth more than the New York Times--financially, as well as intellectually. We don't make much money, but we're in the black.  Thursday, October 23, 2008

www.powerlineblog.com


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POLL: MURTHA'S LEAD DOWN TO FOUR

By Allahpundit

Dare we dream?

Democratic Rep. John Murtha leads retired Army Lt. Col. William Russell by a little more than 4 percentage points, within the Susquehanna Poll’s 4.9-point margin of error. The poll of 400 likely voters was conducted for the Tribune-Review on Tuesday, amid uproar over Murtha’s statement that some of his constituents are racist.

Stanley Shemanski, 67, a retired meat cutter who lives in Apollo, said he’s undecided about the congressional race. He doesn’t know much about Russell, but he’s upset with Murtha’s comment that racism in the district could hurt Democrat Barack Obama’s chances.

“I didn’t like that at all. He shouldn’t have said it,” Shemanski said…

About 54 percent of voters among those polled say it’s time for someone else to represent them in Congress. About 35 percent say Murtha deserves to be re-elected…

“I’ll probably vote for (Russell) just to vote Murtha out,” said Mary Eileen Churchel, 58, of Washington. She added that she still doesn’t know much about the challenger, but thinks Murtha has been in office too long. Churchel, who plans to vote for Obama, said Murtha’s comment about racism was “the last straw for me.”

Russell’s actually outraised him by $400K but he has less cash on hand at the moment, so you know what to do. Who knows? If Happy Jack craters and Coleman can inch ahead of Stuart Smalley up in Minnesota, I might not even have to sedate myself for election night.

Here’s Russell’s new ad. Why he’s reminding people of how much money Murtha’s dumped into the district instead of hitting him again on the racism comments, which obviously have some traction, is beyond me.

Buzz up!

DEMOCRATS TO KILL 401(K)S FOR ... PRIVATIZED SOCIAL SECURITY?

By Ed Morrissey

In 2005, George Bush proposed privatizing a portion of Social Security contributions to allow workers to control their own funds and hopefully outperform the woefully inadequate entitlement system.  The partial privatization would eventually have helped postpone or eliminate the insolvency of Social Security, but Democrats screeched that the GOP wanted to steal benefits from Grandma and effectively killed the debate.  To this day, they accuse Republican candidates of supporting Bush’s partial privatization plan as though it were the equivalent of Teapot Dome.

So why are Democrats now looking to partially nationalize existing 401(k) plans into the exact same kind of private/public pension system?

Powerful House Democrats are eyeing proposals to overhaul the nation’s $3 trillion 401(k) system, including the elimination of most of the $80 billion in annual tax breaks that 401(k) investors receive.

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-California, and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, are looking at redirecting those tax breaks to a new system of guaranteed retirement accounts to which all workers would be obliged to contribute.

Hmm …. “a system of guaranteed retirement accounts to which all workers would be obliged to contribute.”  That sounds very, very familiar, doesn’t it?  Don’t we already do this with Social Security?

A plan by Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic-policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, contains elements that are being considered. She testified last week before Miller’s Education and Labor Committee on her proposal.  …

Under Ghilarducci’s plan, all workers would receive a $600 annual inflation-adjusted subsidy from the U.S. government but would be required to invest 5 percent of their pay into a guaranteed retirement account administered by the Social Security Administration. The money in turn would be invested in special government bonds that would pay 3 percent a year, adjusted for inflation.

The current system of providing tax breaks on 401(k) contributions and earnings would be eliminated.

That means your employer can no longer write off their contributions to your 401(k), and your capital gains would be taxable year-on-year.  In other words, it becomes just another investment or savings account, with no tax benefit at all, and no employer contribution.  Instead, Uncle Sam would give you your “matching” funds — up to a whopping $600 per year!  Whoopee!

As Michelle Obama says, you could buy a pair of earrings every year … except, of course, you can’t.  It’s in The Lockbox, defined by politicians as Locked Away from You but Accessible to Us.  It goes there along with 5% of your gross earnings, apparently to play with the 7% of your gross earnings that already goes to Social Security.  And what do they do with the money?  They give you government bonds as your only investment option.

Maybe you’ll be lucky, and they’ll have Franklin Raines running the agency issuing those bonds.

The Democrats want to end the private retirement system that has allowed Americans to become a vast investor class and put them back in thrall of the federal government.  This is nothing more than a second welfare system that would sit on top of the crumbling Social Security entitlement.  It would leave the American working and middle classes with no retirement option other than a government handout.

If the Democrats control both Congress and the White House, kiss your 401(k)s goodbye, and get into the bread lines first before the crowd arrives. (via Q&OThursday, October 23, 2008

http://hotair.com


*

THE HIDDEN HAND

By Chuck Asay


Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

www.townhall.com/funnies 


*

ARGENTINA SPREADS THE WEALTH

By Scott Johnson

Monica Showalter is the South America expert on the editorial staff of Investor's Business Daily. Yesterday I wrote her asking for her thoughts the proposed expropriation of private pension funds by the government of Argentina. Tomorrow's paper will carry her editorial, which she has kindly authorized us to excerpt:

...U.S. Democrats in Congress are mulling like-minded moves to scrap 401(k)s and transfer them into government-managed "guaranteed retirement accounts" with a 3% return, according to James Pethokoukis of U.S. News & World Report (full disclosure: Pethokoukis is a former IBD reporter).

Before they charge ahead, they should look what happened since Argentina's announcement: Its stock market lost 23% of its value in two days, for a 57% loss since January. The losses spread to other markets in Brazil, South Africa, and Spain.

Markets don't like expropriation of private property -- including savings. And this takes away a key source of private capital. Moreover, one quarter of private pension assets were by law invested in Argentine stocks, making up about a quarter of the bourse's value. So the seizure of pensions amounts to government ownership across the entire private sector.

"It's a stealth nationalization of every single business in the country," explained Diana Mondino, an Argentinian economist at Universidad del CEMA in Buenos Aires. "Will (the government) influence those companies? I would think so -- anyone who owns 25% of a company will have a lot to say about how it's run."

***

Nationalization may pay the bills now, but it poisons prospects for growth. For that reason, Argentina's sovereign bonds now trade at 25 cents to the dollar and yield 30%.

With no growth, another default becomes more likely after the pension move. The market is acting accordingly.

Yet Congress resists reforming the U.S. public pension system as its liabilities pile up as baby boomers start to retire.

If the next president sees private corporations as the class enemy and taxpaying as "patriotic," and Congress continues to look at private 401(k) assets as a public piggy bank, there's little doubt the same mess in Argentina could happen here, too. It's worth thinking about.

Monica's editorial is particularly valuable for the lesson it draws for interested Americans, which is the portion of her editorial I have excerpted above.  Thursday, October 23, 2008

www.powerlineblog.com

*

Pakistan's parliament has unanimously passed a 14-point resolution on combating the rise of terrorism and extremism. The document is being hailed by Information Minister Sherry Rehman as a "major signal for terrorists that our nation rejects their agendas," but it falls short on a plan to confront the Taliban and al Qaeda's grip on power in the violent northwest.

The resolution was passed by parliament at the end of a two week long joint session where the main focus was the deteriorating security situation in the country. After numerous briefings from senior leaders in the military, intelligence services, police, and government officials, a panel made up of representatives from Pakistan's 16 major parties drafted the agreement.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the pro-Taliban chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, was a member of the panel. Rehman was described as "a spokesman for Taliban" during the parliamentary debate.

The government aimed for "consensus" to grant legitimacy to the resolution. To get it, Rehman had to sign the agreement. This led to a vague resolution that does not define the "extremists" and "militants," and placed the emphasis on talks.

The 14-point resolution is long on calls for negotiations and short on calls for action. The document stresses "dialogue" while barely making mention of the need to dislodge the Taliban through a concerted counterinsurgency campaign.

Talk, not action against the Taliban is paramount. "Dialogue must now be the highest priority, as a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution," the document states. "Dialogue will be encouraged with all those elements willing to abide by the Constitution of Pakistan and rule of law." There is no discussion on what to do if dialogue fails.

While Pakistan "stands united to combat this growing menace," it is to be done through "a strong public message condemning all forms and manifestations of terrorism..." The government is asked to restore its writ, immediately withdraw the military from the region and replace them with local security forces.

The parliament said Pakistan cannot be used as a launch pad to attack neighboring countries, and that "foreign fighters, if found, shall be expelled from our soil." Pakistan's territorial integrity - a reference to recent US strikes in the tribal areas - must be protected at all costs.

The Pakistani government has touted the resolution as a major achievement. “The October 22 resolution is a new chapter in the parliamentary history of Pakistan," said Rehman. "After a long time, this is a major national policy that has the endorsement of all political forces ... all parliamentary forces arose above party lines to put a united front against the most important threat to our national security and the resolution closes the chapter on any ambiguities on this issue."

Full text of the resolution, from the Associated Press of Pakistan:

This in-camera joint session of Parliament has noted with great concern that pose a grave danger to the stability and integrity of the nation-state. It was recalled that in the past the dictatorial regimes pursued policies aimed at perpetuating their own power at the cost of national interest.

This House, having considered the issue thoroughly and at great length is of the view that in terms of framing laws, building institutions, protecting our citizens from violence, eradication of terror at its roots, re-building our economy and developing opportunities for the disadvantaged, we all commit to the following:

1.That we need an urgent review of our national security strategy and revisiting the methodology of combating terrorism in order to restore peace and stability to Pakistan and the region through an independent foreign policy.

2.The challenge of militancy and extremism must be met through developing a consensus and dialogue with all genuine stakeholders.

3.The nation stands united to combat this growing menace, with a strong public message condemning all forms and manifestations of terrorism, including the spread of sectarian hatred and violence, with a firm resolve to combat it and to address its root causes.

4.That Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity shall be safeguarded. The nation stands united against any incursions and invasions of the homeland, and calls upon the government to deal with it effectively.

5.That Pakistan’s territory shall not be used for any kind of attacks on other countries and all foreign fighters, if found, shall be expelled from our soil.

6.That dialogue must now be the highest priority, as a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution. Dialogue will be encouraged with all those elements willing to abide by the Constitution of Pakistan and rule of law.

7.That the development of troubled zones, particularly the tribal areas, and NWFP (Pukhtoonkhwa), must also be pursued through all possible ways and legitimate means to create genuine stakeholders in peace. New economic opportunities shall be created in order to bring the less privileged areas at par with the rest of Pakistan.

8.That a political dialogue with the people of Balochistan, the redressal of grievances and redistribution of resources shall be enhanced and accelerated.

9. That the state shall maintain the rule of law, and that when it has to intervene to protect the lives of its citizens, caution must be exercised to avoid casualties of non-combatants in conflict zones.

10.That the federation must be strengthened through the process of democratic pluralism, social justice, religious values and tolerance, and equitable resource sharing between the provinces as enshrined in the Constitution of 1973.

11.That the state shall establish its writ in the troubled zones, and confidence building mechanisms by using customary and local communities (jirga) and that the military will be replaced as early as possible by civilian law enforcement agencies with enhanced capacity and a sustainable political system achieved through a consultative process.

12.That Pakistan’s strategic interests be protected by developing stakes in regional peace and trade, both on the western and eastern borders.

13. That mechanisms for internal security be institutionalised by: paying compensation for victims of violence; and rehabilitate those displaced from their homes as soon as possible; that spill-over effects of terrorism be contained throughout the country and that public consensus be built against terrorism through media and religious participation.

14.That a Special Committee of Parliament be constituted to periodically review, provide guidelines and monitor the implementation of the principles framed and roadmap given in this Resolution. This House authorises the Speaker to constitute the said Committee in consultation with the parliamentary leaders of both Houses. The Committee will frame its own rules upon meeting.  Thursday, October 23, 2008

www.longwarjournal.org




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