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FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 26, 2008


By Jerry Holbert

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert




By Scott Johnson

Michael Ledeen highlights this stirring account of Marines fighting in Afghanistan:

FARAH PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- In the city of Shewan, approximately 250 insurgents ambushed 30 Marines and paid a heavy price for it.

Shewan has historically been a safe haven for insurgents, who used to plan and stage attacks against Coalition Forces in the Bala Baluk district.

The city is home to several major insurgent leaders. Reports indicate that more than 250 full time fighters reside in the city and in the surrounding villages.

Shewan had been a thorn in the side of Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan throughout the Marines' deployment here in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, because it controls an important supply route into the Bala Baluk district. Opening the route was key to continuing combat operations in the area.

"The day started out with a 10-kilometer patrol with elements mounted and dismounted, so by the time we got to Shewan, we were pretty beat," said a designated marksman who requested to remain unidentified. "Our vehicles came under a barrage of enemy RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and machine gun fire. One of our 'humvees' was disabled from RPG fire, and the Marines inside dismounted and laid down suppression fire so they could evacuate a Marine who was knocked unconscious from the blast."

The vicious attack that left the humvee destroyed and several of the Marines pinned down in the kill zone sparked an intense eight-hour battle as the platoon desperately fought to recover their comrades. After recovering the Marines trapped in the kill zone, another platoon sergeant personally led numerous attacks on enemy fortified positions while the platoon fought house to house and trench to trench in order to clear through the enemy ambush site.

"The biggest thing to take from that day is what Marines can accomplish when they're given the opportunity to fight," the sniper said. "A small group of Marines met a numerically superior force and embarrassed them in their own backyard. The insurgents told the townspeople that they were stronger than the Americans, and that day we showed them they were wrong."

During the battle, the designated marksman single handedly thwarted a company-sized enemy RPG and machinegun ambush by reportedly killing 20 enemy fighters with his devastatingly accurate precision fire. He selflessly exposed himself time and again to intense enemy fire during a critical point in the eight-hour battle for Shewan in order to kill any enemy combatants who attempted to engage or maneuver on the Marines in the kill zone. What made his actions even more impressive was the fact that he didn't miss any shots, despite the enemies' rounds impacting within a foot of his fighting position.

"I was in my own little world," the young corporal said. "I wasn't even aware of a lot of the rounds impacting near my position, because I was concentrating so hard on making sure my rounds were on target."

After calling for close-air support, the small group of Marines pushed forward and broke the enemies' spirit as many of them dropped their weapons and fled the battlefield. At the end of the battle, the Marines had reduced an enemy stronghold, killed more than 50 insurgents and wounded several more.

"I didn't realize how many bad guys there were until we had broken through the enemies' lines and forced them to retreat. It was roughly 250 insurgents against 30 of us," the corporal said. "It was a good day for the Marine Corps. We killed a lot of bad guys, and none of our guys were seriously injured."  Tuesday, November 25, 2008




By Nate Beeler

Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler




By Ed Morrissey

Global-warming skepticism has apparently gone mainstream enough to get the attention of Politico.  On the cusp of getting the most progressive Congressional leadership in history, the science used to argue for central control of energy production may disappear along with the warming that by all accounts stopped ten years ago:

Climate change skeptics on Capitol Hill are quietly watching a growing accumulation of global cooling science and other findings that could signal that the science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation.

While the new Obama administration promises aggressive, forward-thinking environmental policies, Weather Channel co-founder Joseph D’Aleo and other scientists are organizing lobbying efforts to take aim at the cap-and-trade bill that Democrats plan to unveil in January. ….

The National Academy of Sciences and most major scientific bodies agree that global warming is caused by man-made carbon emissions. But a small, growing number of scientists, including D’Aleo, are questioning how quickly the warming is happening and whether humans are actually the leading cause.

Armed with statistics from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climate Data Center, D’Aleo reported in the 2009 Old Farmer’s Almanac that the U.S. annual mean temperature has fluctuated for decades and has only risen 0.21 degrees since 1930 — which he says is caused by fluctuating solar activity levels and ocean temperatures, not carbon emissions.

Data from the same source shows that during five of the past seven decades, including this one, average U.S. temperatures have gone down. And the almanac predicted that the next year will see a period of cooling.

The global-warming movement exists to provide cover for statists who demand central control over energy production.  That’s an inconvenient truth that has begun to emerge as global temperatures fail to meet expectations of increase.  Rather than admit that more research is needed, global-warming activists have increased the hysterical tone of their efforts, demanding immediate action and giving dire predictions of catastrophe without it.

Their cause did not get helped by the Goddard Institute’s mishandling of data.  Not only did they mistakenly use the wrong month’s data, they failed to catch the error before publication.  In the controversy that erupted, Goddard — the primary source for the most hysterical global-warming advocates — admitted that they don’t do any independent verification of the data they receive, making their conclusions all but worthless.

Over 31,000 scientists have now signed onto the Global Warming Petition Project, demanding more skepticism and a return to scientific inquiry into climate change rather than political propaganda.  They face an uphill battle in convincing the beneficiaries of research dollars from Washington to risk their funding by acting like scientistsTuesday, November 25, 2008




By Eric Allie

Political Cartoons by Eric Allie




By John Hinderaker

It seems that the pace of the Minnesota Senate recount is slowing, with 82 percent of the ballots reportedly now recounted. It seems pretty clear that the votes the Franken campaign had hoped to uncover aren't there, so far. By the Minneapolis Star Tribune's count, Norm Coleman's lead has lengthened slightly to 231 votes.

The Franken campaign now claims that it has learned of several hundred "missing ballots" around the state--all cast for Franken, no doubt, should they ever be "discovered." The Coleman campaign senses Franken's desperation. It released a statement today that said, in part:

While our team remains steadfastly committed to ensuring this is a fair, full and transparent process, we are seeing a calculated strategy steadily emerging from the Franken campaign. Multiple times now they have pointed blame at local officials for what the Franken Campaign calls the "failed" effort to do their job.

In the next 24 hours or so, and throughout the remainder of the recount, expect to hear additional complaints and finger-pointing from Team Franken as they attempt to raise doubts and suspicions about the recount. Most analysts are expecting to see the Franken campaign attempt to take this issue as far through the court system as they can when the recount doesn't end the way they want.

As Larry Jacobs, the well-respected Director of the University of Minnesota's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance said this morning in a Minnesota paper, "Things are clearly moving in the wrong direction for Franken."

We understand that their pattern of activity is in run-up to the statewide canvassing board meeting that will occur tomorrow, during which the board will take up the issue of rejected absentee ballots. We fully expect the board to follow the long history of precedent in referring these rejected absentee ballots to the courts where they are properly handled, and we don't expect any new ground to be broken in this respect.

So far, we are comfortable with the way things are going and that is a product of the hard work and tireless efforts of the many local election officials and countless volunteers working on behalf of both campaigns. We hope that this recount- which is just that, a recount of all the legally cast votes- will become a textbook example for the whole nation to see how this process should be done...the Minnesota way.

Franken's last resort will be a lawsuit to try to force reconsideration of absentee ballots that were rejected by local officials. It's impossible to say whether this is a pure "Hail Mary" effort, or whether the Democrats have some reason to think the rejected ballots can actually put them over the top. In the first place, there is little public information about how many rejected absentee ballots there are or how they are distributed among the counties. (Franken's campaign claims to have gotten information from 66 counties and to be aware of around 6,400 rejected absentee ballots.) Nor is there any information available about the grounds on which absentee ballots have been disqualified.

Without this basic information, one can only speculate about whether, even if Franken wins the right to seek reconsideration of the rejected ballots, he has a realistic chance of overcoming Coleman's lead. Coleman's lead, of course has already been reduced by the fraudulent ballots that Democrats cast on November 4. I, for one, am becoming increasingly optimistic that if the Democrats couldn't steal the election on November 4, any shenanigans Franken may pull from here on won't make the difference, either.


By John Hinderaker

A correspondent who has been working non-stop in the trenches since the Senate recount began describes Al Franken's most recent strategy: document every "error" or "problem" that occurs in the course of the recount, to prepare to attack the process if Franken loses:

Being involved daily on the count I can see Franken's strategy has changed from upping the frivolous challenges to meticulously documenting the mistakes in each precinct. They are increasing the number of "lead" volunteers in each counting room. Only one "lead" can be on the floor at any given moment, but they have several at the ready. They don't observe at the tables - they spend their time taking copious notes about each issue that arises. Yesterday I saw them pass on a challenge opportunity, only to document the incident at length. I assume at the end of this they are going to publish a laundry list of every hiccup. They will try to throw the entire process into question by throwing the City Clerks and election judges under the bus.

If you noticed the Strib picked up the Crystal story today, claiming the ballots were added to the count when in fact they were challenged - and after I talked to the campaign I would guess they might have been subpoenaed.

In fact here is how I see Franken's strategy has gone so far:
Count St. Louis County first and get the early lead (failed)
Challenge more ballots to get a lead (failed)
Start talking about the rejected absentee ballots and press for those to be canvassed (in process)
Document all failures now that the gap may never be made up.

The Franken campaign is starting to seem desperate; let's hope their desperation is well-founded.  Tuesday, November 25, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama supported the Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise known as Card Check, as a means to get vigorous union support in the general election.  The Democratic Party wants it passed to gain a stronger revenue stream from increased union dues.  But can they get Rust Belt and Southern Democrats to play along?  Politico wonders whether some new Democrats might wind up joining Republicans for a filibuster:

Forget the Republican filibuster and the race to 60. The real fight in the next Congress is Democrats vs. themselves.

With nearly complete control of Washington for the first time in three decades, Democrats are entering a treacherous power zone in which many of their priorities could easily be undone by the geographic, demographic and ideological factions that compete for supremacy within the party.

Unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can whip their caucuses into unity, numerous fault lines will be revealed: Southern Democrats vs. Northern liberals on labor law; California greens vs. Rust Belt Democrats on global warming; socialized medicine adherents vs. go-slow health care reformers; anti-war liberals vs. cautious centrists on national security. And don’t forget the anti-bailout crowd vs. the powerful Michigan Democrats in both chambers when it comes to money for Detroit.

Republicans insist they will fight for their issues when they can, but they also might simply take a front-row seat to see if Democrats implode.

Card Check may provide one of the fault lines for the Democratic caucus.  Southern Democrats have to win votes from the center-right, who won’t like stripping the secret ballot from organizing elections.  On the other hand, in a straight vote, they may not need the Southern Democrats, considering the size of their majorities.

The question then hangs on the filibuster in the Senate.  Will Republicans have enough seats in the Senate to maintain one?  And on certain issues, such as FOCA and Card Check, will a few Democrats join them, or at least decline to vote at all on cloture, which would have the same effect?  I suspect a few may do the latter, especially those from normally red states like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and North Carolina’s Kay Hagan.

This makes the Georgia and Minnesota races key to keeping the Obama administration’s Leftist impulses in check.  The EFCA especially will kneecap Republicans for decades as well as allow intimidation of American workers by unions.  With millions of dollars at stake, those workers need the safety of the secret ballot.  Perhaps some Democrats will follow George McGovern’s example and oppose their party on principle.  Tuesday, November 25, 2008




By Richard Fernandez

Peter Brookes, a former deputy Undersecretary of Defense, examines the case for missile defense in an article for the Hoover Institution. The existing evidence strongly implies that despite denials, Iran, North Korea and a number of states are working to acquire a nuclear weapon and a missile delivery system. Not just the ‘nuclear genie’, but the ‘missile genie’ is out of the bottle.

Ten years ago, there were only six nuclear-weapons states. Today there are nine members of the once-exclusive nuclear-weapons club, with Iran perhaps knocking at the door. Twenty-five years ago, nine countries had ballistic missiles. Today there are 28 countries with ballistic missile arsenals of varying capability.

The key difference between the Cold War world and today is that nuclear weapons and their delivery systems are becoming, from the point of view of availability, ordinary weapons.  That will change the politics of nuclear weapons, but we haven’t realized that yet. What Brooke’s article doesn’t emphasize enough is how much of the current thinking about missile defense is rooted in Cold War politics. Missile defense, for example, was regarded as a destabilizing element in the US-Soviet balance of deterrence. MIssile defense carried the political baggage — at least in the left — of being associated with Ronald Reagan. But in a world where nuclear armed missiles are proliferating, the politics should change; and missile defense ought to be no more sinister than a lock on your front door or the body armor on a cop. It’s no different from high boots in a field full of snakes.

What about uninventing the danger? Brookes explains why this is particularly difficult. He shows that the know-how to build a nuclear weapon is out there, never to be recalled. Then he describes how the “long pole” in the building of a weapon, the production of fissile material, is a technology which can be slowed down by sanctions but has never been wholly stopped. Finally, he demonstrates that ICBM technology is inseperable from a peaceful space program. In general technological progress since the 1940s means that these once unattainable weapons are now within the reach of whoever is determined to get them.

In the calculus of probabilities, if Barack Obama’s “world without nuclear weapons” is less likely than intercepting a rogue missile inbound, it may be time to put a little more money on the missile defense technology and not to trust entirely diplomats and politicians.

While the Bush administration has taken significant steps to develop sea- and land-based missile defense systems, the next White House and Congress should continue supporting missile defense programs to enhance our national security. Indeed, just this summer, the Washington Post broke a story claiming the international nuclear smuggling ring once run by the prodigious Pakistani proliferator A.Q. Khan had also managed to acquire the blueprints for an “advanced nuclear weapon.”

Owned by three Swiss members of Khan’s international cabal, a laptop containing 1,000 gigabytes of data (roughly equivalent to the information contained in a local library) on designs and engineering for nuclear weapons was discovered by investigators. Regrettably, according to the story, the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (iaea) believes the nuclear weapons designs found on the laptop could be mated — in theory — to the ballistic missiles used by “more than a dozen developing countries.”

In fact, the iaea, which reportedly verified the destruction of the data by Swiss authorities, cannot guarantee the nuclear warhead designs were not shared with others, according to a report by David Albright, a weapons expert who has been investigating the Khan network. While North Korea, Iran and Libya — the three states with which Khan had the most intimate contact — are the most likely recipients of the Pakistani’s atomic assistance, there may be others who received this nuclear know-how as well, although some experts view the report as alarmist. (Not surprisingly, Khan, who has been under house arrest in Pakistan since 2004, denied that he was involved in any way in proliferating nuclear weapons designs. Of course, others in his nuclear network may have done so.)  Tuesday, November 25, 2008




By Charles Johnson

The UN’s blind watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei is pushing hard to continue helping the Syrians build a nuclear reactor, despite new evidence that they were conducting a clandestine nuclear project. ElBaradei says that just like individuals, countries should be considered innocent until proven guilty: ‘Don’t prejudge Syrian nuclear program.’

“There are claims against Iraq, which proved to be bonkers, but only after a terrible war,” ElBaradei said after the US and its allies questioned Syria’s right to his agency’s help in planning a power-producing atomic reactor.

“There is one thing called investigation, another called clear-cut proof of innocence or guilt ... and all of you, even if you are not lawyers, know that people and countries are innocent until proven guilty,” he said. ...

Syria denies hiding nuclear activities. But the report strengthened both concerns that it might have something to conceal and arguments from the US and its allies that Damascus should not be offered agency help in planning its civilian reactor. Beyond helping the Syrians develop expertise, the $350,000 aid project would send the wrong signal about a country under investigation by the IAEA, critics like the Americans argued.

In Washington, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said it was “totally inappropriate, we believe, given the fact that Syria is under investigation by the IAEA for building a nuclear reactor outside the bounds of its international legal commitments.” ...

But ElBaradei disagreed, saying there was no legal basis to cancel or postpone the program.

Commenting on ElBaradei’s scrappy stance, a senior diplomat with good connections to IAEA staff said the agency chief personally sent text messages to key aides telling them to stand tough on the Syria issue. He demanded anonymity because his information was privileged.  Tuesday, November 25, 2008




By Paul Mirengoff

Max Boot surveys Obama's national security team and writes, "only churlish partisans of both the left and the right can be unhappy with the emerging tenor of our nation's new leadership." I guess that makes me a churlish partisan.

It's been clear to me since before Obama named anyone to his national security team that the incoming administration would not, in the short run, rock the boat on foreign policy and national security matters. As I have written, our foreign policy is on fairly solid ground now, and it would be foolish for Obama to spend political capital to change policies that a majority of Americans are not upset with, particularly at a time when we face massive problems on the domestic front. Obama is no fool and I'm happy that he is not.

But this doesn't mean conservatives shouldn't be unhappy about the prospect of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Boot thinks Clinton will be a powerful voice for "neo-liberalism" which, he adds, is not so different in many respects from "neo-conservativism". Both, Boot notes, "support humanitarian interventions in places like Darfur and Bosnia."

Yet for most conservatives I know, including neo-conservatives, Darfur and Bosnia are not issues the handling of which makes us happy or unhappy with the general course of U.S. foreign policy. And labeling Hillary Clinton a "neo-liberal" provides litte comfort that she is sound on the issues that make the most difference to many of us. Foremost among these issues are the willingness of the U.S. to project power in order to protect our interests without being constrained by the international community and, more generally, our willingness to stand up to attempts by the international community to restrict our right to self-government through various treaties and other entanglements.

There is plenty of reason to fear that Hillary Clinton is unsound on these issues. In fact, Citizens for Global Solutions, a leftist, "one-world" style organization, gave Hillary Clinton an "A" grade based on her Senate record. Chuck Schumer received only a B+. Obama also got an A. The only A+ grades went to Senators Boxer, Feinstein, Durbin, Kennedy, and Menendez. Our friends Orrin Hatch and John Cornyn both picked up Fs. So did John McCain.

To be sure, Clinton voted for the resolution that authorized military action against Iraq. But so did John Kerry. It's also true that during the 2008 campaign, Clinton opposed negotiating with Iran without preconditions. But this tells us little about the kind of deal she might ultimately be willing to strike with Iran.

I don't mean to suggest that conservatives should be distraught based on things the Obama-Clinton team might do but have not yet even proposed. But neither should we be sanguine about the direction in which U.S. foreign policy is likely to evolve under Obama-Clinton. Some of Obama's more extreme positions during the campaign, e.g., negotiations without pre-conditions, are dead on arrival. Obama took them, I always thought, in order to position himself to the left of Clinton. He maintained (but fudged) them in the general election because, I assume, he calculated that the cost of flip-flopping was at least as great as the cost of adhering to the positions.

However, Obama seems quite serious about the importance of moving the U.S. into the international mainstream. There is no reason to suppose that Clinton, friend of Citizens for Global Solutions, will serve as a counterweight to this desire which, to most conservatives, is a recipe for great mischief and possibly for disaster.

Elections have consequences, as we like to say. The consequence of this election is that conservatives have lost their ability (already greatly diminished during President Bush's second term) to influence our foreign policy going forward. Now, our foreign policy will be heavily influenced by Hillary Clinton. This seems like legitimate grounds for unhappiness.  Tuesday, November 25, 2008




Pakistani forces under the command of the paramilitary Frontier Corps killed 25 Taliban fighters and captured during operations north and west of the provincial capital of Peshawar, according to security officials.

The two-week long operation is the Pakistani security forces' second attempt to clear the Taliban from the region outside of Peshawar since July.

The operation took place in the triangle region made up of the settled districts of Charsadda and Peshawar, and the Mohmand tribal agency, the provincial Inspector General of Police told reporters on Nov. 24. Pakistani forces worked to secure twenty-five villages in the Manichi region that had been overrun by Taliban forces. Twenty-one of the 25 villages have been secured during the operation, which resulted in the death of a police constable and two Frontier Constabulary personnel.

Most significantly, the military said the Manichi villages would become part of the settled region of the Northwest Frontier province. "The legal status of the 25 disputed villages in Machini would be changed and these would be considered as settled area where law-enforcement agencies would set up checkpoints to maintain law and order," Dawn reported. This would remove the villages from the collective punishment system of laws known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations.

Security forces discovered "artillery and mortar shells, anti-tank rockets, 82m mortars, a variety of watches used in time-bombs, audio cassettes and literature, guide books for preparing explosives, suicide jackets, machines for preparing explosives and 20 cans of acid used in explosives," Dawn reported.

Second operation to secure Peshawar

Pakistani security forces launched an operation last July in an attempt to clear the eastern regions of extremist forces under the command of Lashkar-i-Islam's Mangal Bagh. Almost 100 suspected extremists were detained, none of them senior leaders, while the government classified the Lashkar-i-Islam as an illegal organization.

Ten days after the operation started, the government negotiated with Bagh, and signed a "peace agreement" that ended the fighting. The Lashkar-i-Islam was left intact.

The July operation did little to halt the Taliban encroachment in Peshawar. Attacks on police and military personnel continued, while suicide attacks and the kidnapping of foreign diplomats and aid workers increased.

Attacks in Peshawar continue to this day. Five rocket-propelled grenades were fired in Peshawar today. Yesterday, a bombing wounded several people at an Imam Bargah, or religious center, inside Peshawar. Police also upped the security contingents for diplomatic personnel.

The Taliban’s encroachment of the provincial capital demonstrates its reach has extended far beyond the tribal areas.  Tuesday, November 25, 2008


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