No Duh!

Michael V. Hayden – Obama admnistration takes several wrong paths in dealing with terrorism – washingtonpost.com

We got it wrong in Detroit on Christmas Day. We allowed an enemy combatant the protections of our Constitution before we had adequately interrogated him. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is not “an isolated extremist.” He is the tip of the spear of a complex al-Qaeda plot to kill Americans in our homeland.

In the 50 minutes the FBI had to question him, agents reportedly got actionable intelligence. Good. But were there any experts on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the room (other than Abdulmutallab)? Was there anyone intimately familiar with any National Security Agency raw traffic to, from or about the captured terrorist? Did they have a list or photos of suspected recruits?

When questioning its detainees, the CIA routinely turns the information provided over to its experts for verification and recommendations for follow-up. The responses of these experts — “Press him more on this, he knows the details” or “First time we’ve heard that” — helps set up more detailed questioning.

None of that happened in Detroit. In fact, we ensured that it wouldn’t. After the first session, the FBI Mirandized Abdulmutallab and — to preserve a potential prosecution — sent in a “clean team” of agents who could have no knowledge of what Abdulmutallab had provided before he was given his constitutional warnings. As has been widely reported, Abdulmutallab then exercised his right to remain silent.

And why did we get it wrong?

Because our government thinks that al-Qaeda are criminals along the lines of street gangs or the Mafia. They are not.

They are loosely connected Muslim fanatics that actually think that Allah commands them to kill unbelievers. They believe this with the same certainty that Keith Olbermann has that Bill O’Reilly is the devil. Maybe even stronger than that.

They do not consider death or imprisonment a deterrence, it is the will of Allah and not punishment.

This sets us up for a tiger ride. Do we continue to handle them with legalistic kid gloves and learn to live with the attacks? If so, they will certainly try to make them more and more horrible. Or do we squeeze them and hunt them, which will lead to them attempting more and more horrible attacks. But succeeding less.

It’s a war. And wars are nasty things that result in the death and maiming of thousands of innocent (or not so innocent) people. But not fighting a war results in the death and maiming of thousands of innocent (or not so innocent) people you know. It’s a Tiger tail situation. Do we hang on and hope we aren’t eaten, or do we let go and hope we can kill the tiger before it eats us?

Hmmm. This May Explain Why The Stock Market Is So Crappy Right Now.

Strategies – How Political Leanings Can Affect Investing – NYTimes.com

YOU’RE likely to feel more confident about the economy when your political party is in power. That’s no surprise. But a new study has found that your feelings probably affect the way you invest your stock portfolio.

The study, which has been circulating in academic circles since December, found that when an investor’s favored political party held power in Washington, he or she generally increased holdings of risky stocks, shifted from foreign to domestic companies and traded less often. The opposite occurred when the preferred party was out of office. And the patterns held whether an investor was a Republican or a Democrat.

I guess the Democrats are confident right now that they’re going to smash the Capitalist system and institution a fairer system where rewards are based on Party Membership.

The Republicans are withholding their investments because they’re afraid that the Democrats and liberals might succeed. The Democrats are withholding their investments because they don’t want to support private enterprise.

Bottom line…little or no investment and no recovery.

As long as the economy is bad the Democrats think they can win by making things “fairer”; which means taking from those who have and doling it out to Democrat voting groups; unions; ‘non-profits’; and the ‘poor’.

America’s Softer Foreign Policy Pays Off

China’s strident tone raises concerns among Western governments, analysts – washingtonpost.com

China’s indignant reaction to the announcement of U.S. plans to sell weapons to Taiwan appears to be in keeping with a new triumphalist attitude from Beijing that is worrying governments and analysts across the globe.

China has found that there’s no down side to ignoring America.

Obama’s new, less bellicose foreign policy has let China and others know that the worst they can expect from the United States when they misbehave is a diplomatic protest backed up by…another diplomatic protest.

The world is like Kindergarten, without the teacher. The bigger kids grab what they want and if other big kids don’t stop them, they grab more.

The U.S. has announced that they will no longer try to be the biggest kid in the playpen. But there’s always got to be someone that is dominant, and the Chinese think that it should be them.

Who’s going to tell them different? Hillary?

John Kerry – A Really Really Bad Judge Of Character.

“This Isn’t the Person I Campaigned With Back Then,” Kerry Says of Edwards, Per Source – Political Punch

In July 2004, Kerry announced that Edwards would be his vice presidential running mate, saying, “I have chosen a man who understands and defends the values of America…a man whose life has prepared him for leadership and whose character brings him to exercise it.”

Kerry said that Edwards, “like me, is blessed with a remarkable wife: a strong, brave woman, Elizabeth Edwards. And Teresa and I will be proud to stand with the Edwards family…Anyone who knows them — and America will get to know them — knows that this is a family that loves each other and loves America. He has honored the lessons of home and family that he learned in North Carolina. And he brings those values to shape a better America together with all of us.”

But he is a really good judge of women, or at least their financial reports.

He has achieved his status as the richest man in the Senate (All ready known as a ‘millionaires’ club) the old fashioned way, by marrying wealthy women. Twice.

His current wife’s fortune is what she inherited from her first husband, a Republican Senator and heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune. So he actually owes his fortune to a Republican.

Kind of makes you snicker when he lambastes “the rich”.

The Things Liberals “Know” That Aren’t Necessarily So

The Blue Assumptions

Among those blue-state voters who do put some effort into their politics, I find there are four mistaken assumptions about government that guide their thinking. Government is an exercise of authority, so it’s wise to have a clear understanding of the nature of authority before voting to expand government.The first, and perhaps most dangerous, assumption is that authority confers virtue. This seems to have become rooted in the American psyche after the exhilaration of victory in World War II, and the perceived success of the New Deal. Many people automatically assume liberal politicians are selfless servants of the people, who only want what is best for everyone. The media actively cultivates this mindset through its worship of bold Big Government initiatives, and the heroic statesmen who make them possible. If solving the problems of society is a noble endeavor, and the only solutions are titanic government programs, then the proponents of such programs must be noble!

And remember tow other things as well. Just because something is desirable doesn’t meant it is possible; and because things are possible doesn’t mean they are desirable.

“Progress” may take you places you don’t want to go.

Reality Is Never As Good As Fantasy

The author and the reviewer may agree that the outcome of the Cold War in Europe could have been better if we had just listened to Gorbachev. But the real world would not allow that to happen. As much as we may want pretty ponies and cotton candy clouds, (not that I do particularly) real life has a way of jumping us up and biting us in the ass.

Book Review – ‘1989 – The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe,’ by Mary Elise Sarotte – Review – NYTimes.com

Two decades later, Europe is divided between Russia and an expanded West. Between them lies a zone of unstable, nonallied states like Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine that witness sporadic wars and other showdowns. There are still nuclear missiles aimed across the continent. It’s hard to imagine that it could have been otherwise — but, Sarotte shows us, it could have been.

It’s true, it could have been imagined different. But imagination is one think, reality is another.

Her imaginary world in which everything would have been just fine if we had just trusted Gorbachev and the East Germans has no basis in history. That’s a path that lead to disaster every time it was tried. But we shoulda done it anyway?

It Must Be the Air.

When David Brooks started writing in the NYT I thought he was, not a conservative, but someone slightly right of center. After reading his latest I am starting to think that there is some time of mind altering substance in the atmosphere at the newspaper.

His latest on Barack Obama;

Op-Ed Columnist – The Pragmatic Leviathan – NYTimes.com

A year ago, the country rallied behind a new president who promised to end the pendulumlike swings, who seemed likely to restore equilibrium with his moderate temper and pragmatic mind.

In many ways, Barack Obama has lived up to his promise. He has created a thoughtful, pragmatic administration marked by a culture of honest and vigorous debate. When Obama makes a decision, you can be sure that he has heard and accounted for every opposing argument.

But just a paragraph later;

Americans, with their deep, vestigial sense of proportion, have reacted. The crucial movement came between April and June, when the president’s approval rating among independents fell by 15 percentage points and the percentage of independents who regarded him as liberal or very liberal rose by 18 points. Since then, the public has rejected any effort to centralize authority or increase the role of government.

Trust in government has fallen. The share of Americans who say the country is on the wrong track has risen. The share who call themselves conservative has risen. The share who believe government is “doing too many things better left to business” has risen.

The country is now split on Obama, because he is temperate, thoughtful and pragmatic, but his policies are almost all unpopular. If you aggregate the last seven polls on health care reform, 41 percent support it and 51 percent oppose.

So, Americans are rejecting his policies because he is “temperate, thoughtful and pragmatic”? The actions of his Cabinet members and his surrogates are marked by a culture of honest and vigorous debate?

Is that why all the Republican amendments to the Healthcare bill are voted down on Party line votes if they get any vote at all? Are the backroom deals and blatant payoffs of supporters considered honest? Is his idea that “bipartisanship” means allowing your opponents to slavishly support your legislation, otherwise they are “obstructing”?

I think that Brooks would be wise to skip the luncheons with the editorial staff and other columnists. They have slipped something in his salad.