Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just A Note - Sonia SotoMayor Lied During Her Senate Confirmation Hearings

As we go through the Kagan circus, it's worth noting that people out of the mainstream and on the far Left have no problem fibbin' to make themselves seem more centrist when it comes to getting that life time job..

Here's the Wise Latina on the Second Amendment case during her confirmation hearings on DC vs. Heller which declared unconstitutional the ban on firearms in Washington DC and recognized individual gun rights:

I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller.

Ah, but she's got the job now. So, let's see how the Wise Latina justified voting against the recent 5-4 McDonald vs. Chicago decision, which used Heller as a precedent and simply extended that decision to make state-level gun bans unconstitutional:

In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self defense.

Having scammed her way through her hearings, she'll now be on the Court as a reliably Leftist, activist voice for a couple of decades.

Just a reminder to consider this when you listen to any assurances coming out of Elana Kagan's mouth right now.

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Ex Justice Dept Lawyer Says AG Holder Dropped Black Panther Voting Case for Racial Reasons

Some of you may remember a fairly blatant case of voter intimidation in Philadelphia during the 2008 elections carried out by the New Black Panther Party that was caught on video, with the Panthers using nightsticks, military style uniforms and racial slurs to "make sure a black man wins this election."

About a year ago, President Obama's justice department overruled career DOJ prosecutors and forced them to drop the case against the Panthers, even though The Obama administration won a default judgment in federal court in April 2009 when the Black Panthers didn't appear in court to fight the charges.

Now, J. Christian Adams, now an attorney in Virginia says he and the other Justice Department lawyers working on the case were ordered to dismiss it.

"I mean we were told, 'Drop the charges against the New Black Panther Party,'" Adams told Fox News, adding that political appointees Loretta King, acting head of the civil rights division, and Steve Rosenbaum, an attorney with the division since 2003, ordered the dismissal.

Asked about the Justice Department's claim that they are career attorneys, not political appointees, Adams said "obviously, that's false."

"Under the vacancy reform act, they were serving in a political capacity," he said. "This is one of the examples of Congress not being told the truth, the American people not being told the truth about this case. It's one of the other examples in this case where the truth simply is becoming another victim of the process."

Ever since the case was suspiciously dropped, the United States Commission on Civil Rights has been investigating the department's decision at the request of Republican congressmen who are concerned that this sets a precedent for an escalation of voter intimidation.

In the interview, Adams also accused Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of lying under oath to Congress about the facts in the decision to drop the case when he testified before the commission in May.

"At a minimum, without sufficient proof that New Black Panther Party or Malik Zulu Shabazz directed or controlled unlawful activities at the polls, or made speeches directed to immediately inciting or producing lawless action on Election Day, any attempt to bring suit against those parties based merely upon their alleged 'approval' or 'endorsement' of Minister King Samir Shabazz and Jackson’s activities would have likely failed," Perez told the commission.

'Sufficient proof?' All they had were videos of the unlawful activity,eyewitness accounts and a prima facie conviction based on failure to appear!

Anybody remember how we were lied to and told that Barack Hussein Obama was going to be 'the post racial president'?

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Watcher's Council Nominations - June 30th, 2010

The Watcher's Council is a group of some of the most incisive blogs in the`sphere. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one of their own and one from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best posts, with the results appearing on Friday.

So, let's see what we have this week...

Council Submissions

Non Council Submissions


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Uh Oh - Kagen Caught Altering Evidence On Partial Birth Abortion

Well, I suppose that was to be expected, considering that the president that nominated her supports infanticide over and beyond the usual abortion debate.

Back in 1996 during her days in the Clinton White House, Kagan apparently wrote a memo specifically designed to distort a physicians group’s opinion of whether partial-birth abortion is medically necessary.

A major bit of evidence cited by pro-partial birth abortion advocates is a report issued by a "select panel" of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a supposedly nonpartisan medial organization. That report said that the partial-birth abortion procedure "may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman." The Supreme Court used the ACOG statement as the major example of medical opinion when it struck down Nebraska legislation outlawing partial birth abortion.

Shannen Coffin was a deputy attorney general during the Bush administration which later instituted legislation curtailing the practice, the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Act. He was the lead attorney who defended the Bush Administration's federal partial-birth abortion act in court.

As he reveals in his NRO article, the initial draft of the report said that the ACOG panel "could identify no circumstances under which this procedure . . . would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman." So Kagan set about fixing the 'problem' by altering the language of the report itself:

Once the rabidly pro-abortion Elena Kagan, then a deputy assistant to President Clinton for domestic policy. This is what Kagan wrote in a memo to her superiors in the Clinton White House:

Todd Stern just discovered that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is thinking about issuing a statement (attached) that includes the following sentence: "[A] select panel convened by ACOG could identify no circumstances under which [the partial-birth] procedure ... would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman." This, of course, would be disaster -- not the less so (in fact, the more so) because ACOG continues to oppose the legislation. It is unclear whether ACOG will issue the statement; even if it does not, there is obviously a chance that the draft will become public.

So Kagan took matters into her own hands: incredibly, she herself appears to have written the key language that eventually appeared in the ACOG report. Coffin writes:

So Kagan set about solving the problem. Her notes, produced by the White House to the Senate Judiciary Committee, show that she herself drafted the critical language hedging ACOG's position. On a document [PDF] captioned "Suggested Options" -- which she apparently faxed to the legislative director at ACOG -- Kagan proposed that ACOG include the following language: "An intact D&X [the medical term for the procedure], however, may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman."

Kagan's language was copied verbatim by the ACOG executive board into its final statement, where it then became one of the greatest evidentiary hurdles faced by Justice Department lawyers (of whom I was one) in defending the federal ban. (Kagan's role was never disclosed to the courts.)

Her answers when she was asked about it by Senator Orin Hatch could almost be part of a Monty Python Routine:

Hatch: “Did you write that memo?”

Kagan: “Senator, with respect, I don’t think that that’s what happened — ”

Hatch: “Did you write that memo?”

Kagan: “I’m sorry — the memo which is?”

Hatch: “The memo that caused them to go back to the language of ‘medically necessary,’ which was the big issue to begin with — ”

Kagan: “Yes, well, I’ve seen the document — ”

Hatch: “But did you write it?”

Kagan: “Uhh, the document is certainly in my handwriting.”

What we're looking at here is a process by which The federal courts were scammed and deliberately deceived by an almost obscene manipulation of not only the scientific evidence by the legal system. And it was done by someone who wants a lifetime job as a justice on the highest court of the land - Elena Kagan.

Lagniappe: Conservative doyen Phyliss Schlafly has a superb piece in Investors Business Daily that explains exactly how an appointment like Kagan's endangers the Constitution.


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Tiger Sets Another Record - $750M Divorce Settlement For Elin Nordegren

Tiger Woods has reportedly come to a final divorce settlement with his ex-wife Elin Nordgren.

She gets physical custody of the kids, together with $750 million, the largest divorce payout in history. They will share legal custody, so she can't relocate them to Sweden or elsewhere without his OK. Additionally, he's not allowed to let any of his girlfriends near his three-year -old daughter Sam, three, or his one-year-old son Charlie during visitation. The only way any future relationship of Tiger Woods gets to interact with the children is if he remarries.

In exchange, Elin has agreed never to speak publicly about the divorce or the events leading up to it, so there will be no tell-all interviews or book deals.

Elin's silence was obviously a big part of the deal, leading a lot of people to speculate that there are a lot of sordid details that never made it into the press. The deal was also affected by the fact that Elin hired decent lawyers who ferreted out a lot of Tiger Wood's hidden assets, so it turned out he was actually worth more than she thought.


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US Accepts International Help On Gulf Spill


All it took was a mere 70 days.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Kagan Hearings

The confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan are proceeding, and there's very little doubt in my mind that what we essentially have here is a rubber stamp for President Obama.

What Obama did here was to take a lesson from his own past and pick someone who, as much as possible, is simply a factual enigma. Someone about whom it takes real digging to unearth how far Left and out of the mainstream they actually are.

I especially liked the part where Senator Jeff Sessions asked her if she agreed with the assessment of Ron Klain, an adviser to Al Gore in the Clinton administration, that she was a "legal progressive," and of Greg Craig, the former White House counsel in the Obama administration, that she was a "progressive in the mold of Obama himself" and she responded 'Uh, I'm not sure what that is'.

I guess she's been taking private lessons on dissembling from her old boss Mr. Bill.

Even funnier, she contradicted herself out of her own mouth when she stated a minute or so later "My politics would be, must be, have to be completely separate from my judging."

Having never been a judge, not even having any practical legal experience, how exactly is she determining that 'distance'? And if she claims not to know what a legal' progressive' is, why else would she almost immediately say that? And as for her politics being separate...does anyone actually think she would have gotten the nomination from Obama if they actually were?

She's still defending her illegal discrimination against military recruiters at Harvard over 'don't ask don't tell' claiming that she was trying to 'find a balance' between access for the military recruiters and Harvard's stance on non-discrimination.

Which gives rise to some followups...

'Don't ask don't tell' was the brainchild of Mr. Bill's administration, and based on a law passed by Congress that her old boss signed. Why was the military the only federal agency discriminated against by Harvard?

Why the misstatement of fact on her part that military recruiters did not have access as Kagan said, when in fact they actually didn't because no campus group sponsored them or gave them office space? And if it was 'balanced', why did Harvard's then President Larry Summers ultimately quash her when the university was threatened with penalties under the Solomon Amendment?

If Elena Kagan was so exercised about gay rights while she was a Harvard dean, why didn't she scream bloody murder about Harvard accepting a mere $20 million from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi Royal family to establish a center for 'Islamic Studies' and shariah law - which mandates the death penalty for gays?

Her commitment to the First Amendment also came under fire as the GOP members of the Judiciary Committee,notably Orin Hatch took apart her advocacy of quashing freedom of speech in her advocacy of the Obama Administration's side of the Citizens United ruling.

Elena Kagan may very well end up getting confirmed, but no one should be under any illusion of whom she is and what we're getting.

Just as the Wise Latina was a deliberate attempt to replace David Souter who was relatively center left with a far left ideologue, Kagan's nomination is an attempt to replace a very activist, left leaning justice with one whom is even more so.

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Dems Decide To Ignore WV Law To Fill Byrd's Seat With Party Hack

Well, the fix is in.

Per Democrat Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, instead of having the special election the law clearly mandates now, they'll have it in 2012...for the five or six weeks left in Byrd's term (Nov. 2012 to Jan. 2013) after the next primary! And then they'll have a general election for the new term starting in January 2013.

Meanwhile Governor Joe Manchin will just appoint some chair-warmer to hold the seat until 2012 and vote for Obama's agenda until Manchin runs for the seat himself.

Nicely scammed, unless someone sues.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

US Arrests 10 Russian Spies

The FBI arrested and charged 10 people yesterday with acting as spies for Russia.

Eight out of a cell of 10 were arrested Sunday for allegedly carrying out long-term, deep cover assignments in the US . Two are apparently still at large.

The arrests came as the result of a long FBI investigation into the network of U.S.-based spies, and federal agents actually intercepted messages from Russian intelligence headquarters in Moscow to two of the accused, Richard and Cynthia Murphy.

None of the group was charged with espionage. Instead, each of the 10 was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Nine of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum 20 years in prison.

Several factors here. Obviously, if we intercepted messages, we broke the Russian's code and we have a good idea not only where they came from but from whom. It will be interesting to see if any Russian 'diplomats' suddenly get transferred out of the US over this.

Second, according to some of the intercepted messages, the perps had a deep cover assignment "to fulfill your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US and send intels."

Obviously if this was a long term investigation as the FBI says, its probable that at least some progress was made in that particular mission. So...whom were the spies in contact with, who was introducing them around and who was aiding and abetting?

Wouldn't you like to know who it is in 'policy making circles' that's being protected?


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LATMA's Latest Video: "The Muslim War Council"

Featuring Syria's Basher Assad, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan and as a special treat, Hezbollah's Sheikh Nasrullah!

Do yourself a favor and don't watch this with a mouthful of liquid.

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French Company TOTAL Stops Gas Shipments To Iran

In an obvious response to the unilateral sanctions passed by the US Congress, French energy company TOTAL says it has stopped all gasoline sales to Iran.

Those sanctions, which are much tougher than the ones imposed by the UN have yet to be signed by President Obama, by the way.

I suppose he's been busy - or seeking ways to water them down.

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Illinois Senate Candidate Giannoulias Suppoened In Blago Trial

As if Alex Giannoulias didn't have enough problems already, he's joined President Obama and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on the suppoena list for ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial.

It's going to be an interesting bit of testimony.

The White House apparently wanted to put Obama crony and White house adviser Valerie Jarrett in Barack Obama's senate seat, the one Blagojevich is alleged to have attempted to sell (and probably did eventually sell to Roland Burris).

Governor Blagojevich allegedly used an SEIU connection of his to go to Giannoulias, an old Obama crony and fund raiser for an introduction/inquiry to Valerie Jarrett about the seat...which could mean that Jarrett went to the White House and asked them to 'bid' for her if this is the way things went down.

Apparently Giannoulias was actually at the meeting between Jarrett and Blagojevich's SEIU envoy. But of course, he claims to remember nothing about it!

Giannoulias has a history of being at meetings like this and then claiming he doesn't remember anything and wasn't involved in any subsequent proceedings. Blagojevich's lawyers can be expected to grill him pretty thoroughly...which is not good news for Giannoulias' already faltering Senate campaign.

This bit of Chicagoland theater is going to get even more entertaining as it goes on.

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Senator Byrd Dies - And Leaves One Final Controversy

Senator Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving member of the Senate died early this morning. He was 92, and had held his seat since 1959.I extend my condolences to his family.

There's apparently some confusion on filling the seat. According to West Virginia law, if a Senate vacancy occurs more than 2 1/2 years before the term ends, a special election is supposed to be held to fill the seat. There were exactly two years, six months and five days left in Byrd's term when he died.

This could open a legal challenge,prevent current Governor Joe Manchin III, a Democrat from just appointing a successor and force a special election this November, similar to the ones in Delaware and New York to fill the seats vacated by Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton.

Byrd's death also leaves the future of President Obama's so-called financial reform bill up in the air, because it's unclear now whether the Democrats have enough votes to overcome a GOP filibuster to pass it without being able to wheel the late Senator Byrd into the Senate chambers. Four Republicans - Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Susan Collins of Maine and Charles Grassley of Iowa - initially voted for the Senate version of the bill in May, but two Democrats - Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin - voted against both cloture to end debate and the bill itself.

Meanwhile, Brown was quoted as having changed his mind after seeing the House version, which slaps $19 billion in bank fees on financial institutions and raises not only consumer costs but taxes.

There's also a time factor involved, because of the July 4th recess that's just around the corner.

An interesting end to a long and interesting career!

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Supreme Court Extends Gun Rights Nationwide

In a landmark case, the Supreme Court has ruled that gun bans like the one in the city of Chicago violate the 2nd Amendment and are unconstitutional.The 5-4 decision voids the 1982 ordinance, one of the nation's strictest, which barred city residents from owning handguns for their own use, even in their own homes.

This is a followup to a ruling two year ago, when the Court ruled in a case from Washington, D.C. that the 2nd Amendment protects the rights of individuals to have a gun for self-defense. Since Washington DC is not a state, the court chose not address at that time whether to extend the ruling to apply to other municipal ordinances or state laws.

In today's decision, the court ruled that the 2nd Amendment's constitutional protection extends to city and state laws.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dick Cheney 'Markedly Improved'

Things looked a little dicey for a bit after the former Vice President was removed to a hospital for heart trouble, but he's recovering famously and his daughter Liz says he may leave the hospital in a day or so.

Reports are that he's getting up to speed by catching bullets in his bare hands, leaping tall buildings with a single bound and outracing locomotives...

I may have made that last part up. But not by much!

Here's to the the Dark Lord - may he recover quickly and return to his full power to scare the you-know-what out of the Left.

G-d, I've missed having him in Washington for the last two years..

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Israeli Ambassador To The US: Israel-US Relations In 'Tectonic Rift'

Al-Guardian is reporting that Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the US briefed Israeli diplomats in Jerusalem on the sharp deterioration in the relationship between the two countries as Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu makes preparations for a White House visit early next month.

According to what Oren reportedly said, the situation has moved past a crisis that eventually passes. "There is no crisis in Israel-US relations because in a crisis there are ups and downs," he told the diplomats in Jerusalem. "Relations are in the state of a tectonic rift in which continents are drifting apart."

So how accurate do I think this is? Hard to say, especially when you try to follow Michael Oren. Just three weeks ago, Oren told Fox News that Israel's relationship with the US was 'very close and very cooperative and very open, today he's talking about a tectonic rift?

Here's what I think the reality is.

Unlike other US presidents, Barack Obama has made no secret about the fact from day one after he was elected he basically considered Israel a distasteful colonial outpost and favored appeasing the Muslim world by deconstructing the alliance between the two countries. I'm sure that's still his objective, but due to Israel's support in Congress and the fact that appeasing the Muslim world didn't go quite as planned, he's realized that Israel is still a strategic asset in that part of the world. And closer to home, he's also realized that his political support and that of this party among American Jews is not what it was, and with midterms coming on he feels the necessity of at least doing a little fence mending - for now.

That explains why the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen just completed a trip to Israel to confer with them on security matters, and why the anti-Israel rhetoric out of the White House has ramped down a bit, even if very little else has really changed.

Added to the mix is President Obama's ill-concerned dislike of Benyamin Netanyahu and Israel's center/right government - which is why Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack from Israel's Left wing Labour Party is President Obama's preferred interlocutor between the White House and the Israeli government, even though his party has only twelve seats in the Knesset and no one elected Ehud Barack to anything.

When Netanyahu comes to DC, there may be smiles and a few photo-ops, unlike last time. But Barack Obama undoubtedly plans to ignore any attempts to realistically discuss Iran and will concentrate on trying to wring further Israeli concessions on Gaza and on building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem out of Netanyahu.

How that's going to go is anyone's guess.

UPDATE: Oren has denied making the above statement claiming he said 'shift' instead of rift and that his description of the US/Israel relationship was much more benign than was reported by whatever anonymous sources leaked his briefing.

The mind boggles.

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Civil Rights Groups Question Obama Nominee Kagan's Record

It's seems you can't please everybody, no matter what. President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is under fire from a number of civil rights groups because of what some of them see as an insufficiently supportive record on diversity, racial profiling and affirmative action.

The National Bar Association, the main association of black lawyers, refrained from endorsing Kagan, giving her only a lukewarm 'qualified' rating. The group's president, Mavis T. Thompson,was quoted as saying that the group "had some qualms" about Kagan's positions on crack-cocaine sentencing, as well as on what it termed her inadequate emphasis while the dean of Harvard Law School on diversity.

A number of black and Latino groups have focused on the fact that while Kagan was dean, not a single black or Latino faculty member was hired into a tenure-track position, academia's lifetime employment goldmine. These decisions are made by committee, and there's no evidence that Kagan voted against any prospective black or Latino candidates, or even that there were any qualified black or Latino qualified applicants available. But the fact that none were appointed during her tenure as dean is being laid at Kagan's feet.

Other questions have surfaced based on the limited records made available from Kagan's sojourn in the Clinton White House, and several black academics who worked with her in the Clinton White House have gone public on matters like her stance against incorporating a ban on racial profiling into president Clinton's 1999 race initiative, and her attitudes, described by one of them as 'skeptical' and 'argumentative' towards the Civil Rights Commission.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)is also questioning Kagan's record on Latinos, and wants questions raised about a note by Kagan in which she described discussions on how to deal with Central Americans displaced in 1998 by Hurricane Mitch as "lots of legal gobbledygook".

MALDEF President Thomas Saenz said that as far as he's concerned "there are certain absences in the record" on Kagan. "And, therefore, there are questions to be asked."

What to make of all this?

There are plenty of good and sufficient reasons to oppose Elena Kagan becoming a Supreme Court Justice, but I doubt that racial insensitivity is one of them. She was, after all, hired to work at the White House by two Democratic presidents who counted minority support as an important part of their political coalition. And she was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Obama.

If I had to guess, there are two motivations behind these groups' questioning of Kagan's bonifides. First, I think that there's some disappointment that President Obama didn't nominate another black or Hispanic to the court, and this is a way of expressing it without actually saying so. Second, these groups want to use the hearings as an excuse to get Kagan down on the record as supporting their agenda, regardless of any Constitutional or ethical considerations involved.

Live by identity politics, die by identity politics.

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Video: Christians Arrested For Distributing Gospels Outside Dearborn Arab Festival

Let's see...on a public street, in the United States of America...and arrested by the Dearborn, Michigan Police for disorderly conduct - because they were handing out copies of the Gospel of John in Arabic and English.

The arrest was filmed, at least until the Dearborn Police confiscated the cameras.

The four Christians who were arrested are free on bond and are now being represented by the Thomas More Law Center. Their press release is here.

According to the Evangelist's attorney Robert Muise, his client's First Amendment rights were egregiously violated, and his letter to Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad requesting the return of his client's confiscated cameras and tapes has not yet been answered.

According to sharia law, proselytizing to Muslims or criticizing Islam in any way is haram, forbidden. And Muslims leaving Islam are subject to a death sentence.

What we're seeing here is an American police Department making the decision to enforce sharia over our Constitution. And they're even willing to pay damages in a lawsuit they can't possibly win to do it.

(hat tip, Hot Air)

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Proof Homer Simpson Exists In Real Life...


A drunk driver trapped after overturning his car cracked open another can of beer while he waited for emergency crews to rescue him, a New Zealand court was told.

Paul Nigel Sneddon, 47, pleaded guilty to careless driving and drunken driving after being nearly three times over the legal alcohol limit in a district court in the city of Palmerston North, the Dominion Post newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Police found Sneddon, a former baker, trapped in his overturned Ford Laser on June 1, drinking a can of beer after he failed to take a corner properly and crashed through a wooden barrier, flipping his vehicle.

Defense lawyer Peter Young said that when Sneddon found he could not open the doors, "he had nothing else to do at that point, so he had another beer."

(Love the Lionell Hutt-style defense!)

When asked by police how much he had consumed, Sneddon replied: "Plenty, I've been drinking for four days straight."

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Hezbollah Joining Mexican Drug Cartels

Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-SC) has formally requested that the US Department of Homeland Security investigate the involvement of Hezbollah with Mexican drug cartels.

This is not news to anyone who's been following Hezbollah and Iranian activity in Latin America, or who is aware that Hezbollah has long made narcotics a key part of its financing. The Hezbollah stronghold in the Bek'aa Valley in Lebanon is one of the largest drug producing areas on earth.

It's also well known that Hezbollah is deeply entrenched in the 'triangle', the area where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet, operating drug trafficking rings with tentacles that stretch all through Latin America.

A suspected Hezbollah financier, a Lebanese national named Moussa Hamdan was just arrested in exactly this area, in a city with a significant Arab population called Ciudad del Este.A US warrant is outstanding for his arrest and Interpol is still in the process of deciding whether to honor the US request to extradite him

Myrick, who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee said that according to her information Hezbollah's agents have bases in Venezuela with the support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, where they learn Spanish, train and obtain false papers identifying them as Mexican citizens. She also cited reports that members of drug cartels imprisoned in South America have been spotted tattooing Persian script on their bodies.

Aside from involvement in the Mexican drug cartels, many of which were originally armed and trained by the US,there's another consideration. There are existing Hezbollah cells and sympathizers here in America, as terrorism expert Steve Emerson has documented in his book, American Jihad.

It's not hard to imagine a scenario where Hezbollah fighters come in through our porous southern border armed with explosives and arms to link up with the cells and sympathizers already here.

Those of you who find this far-fetched might remember that two of the jihadis convicted of the attempted terrorist attack on Fort Dix were non-Hispanic Muslims who came into the US illegally in exactly that fashion.

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Watcher's Council Results!

The Council has spoken! Here are the results of our weekly Watcher's Council contest.

This week's council winner was Bookworm Room for Israel hasn’t changed; the world has, an excellent and revealing look at world perceptions of Israel and the Middle East then and now.

Our non-council winning post was Pajamas Media/Zombie - Radicals, Islamists and Longshoremen blockade Israeli ship in Oakland , an excellent example of how the Left and the Islamists are becoming involved in a dangerous alliance.

Here are the full results:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

As always, congratulations not only to the winners but to the participants.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Interesting Interview With Michael Hastings, Writer Of The McChrystal Piece

It's been some week for you. Were you surprised to see the impact your story would have? Did you anticipate that kind of reaction?

Yeah, it seems to have gotten some attention. No, I didn't expect it. It's unusual for Afghanistan to get any attention. What I thought was that it will probably cause a headache for [General] McChrystal for a couple of days but that it would only be watched by those who follow Afghanistan closely.

Where were you when you first started to hear about the story's ripple effects?

I was in Kandahar. It was Monday and I'd been on an embed all day. I was sun-burned as hell. I was on the Kandahar air base, interviewing pilots, who were basically fighting every day IN THEIR helicopters. I went to bed, plugged my phone in to charge and all of a sudden I got this text message saying the AP picked up the story. I thought that was interesting.

I went out the next day with these helicopter pilots and while that was happening, by the end of that day - Tuesday - [the story] appeared to take on some momentum. I spent a lot of time on the phone. Later that night, I went out on a helicopter mission. At 3 a.m., I had to go out and meet these helicopter guys again. That morning, it was a mission where I followed these helicopters called Kiowa Warriors -- and they get called down for this gun battle between insurgents and Americans. The fighting was intense, two insurgents were killed... Then we went back to base. I had no Internet. I knew that I was getting a lot of phone calls, I was running out of batteries and had horrible reception.

McChrystal had issued his apology earlier in the day and then I learned he had been called back to Washington. It was understood that it was due to my reporting in the story, and I figured it would be good to get back to Kabul because of the fact that it looked like Gen McChrystal would resign. On Wednesday evening, I went back to Kabul... Sometimes, it's hard to get flights out of military bases, but it was pretty easy this time. They were like, "This ride's for you, man!" I was late to the flight but they got me on the flight anyway. And there were soldiers reading the story around me, reading printouts, and they didn't know who I was. That was a strange experience...

Some of the soldiers must have made the connection, hearing your name and knowing that it was you?

It was funny -- one of the soldiers I was talking to said, 'Hey, did you hear this story about McChrystal. And I said, 'Yeah, I have. I wrote it. He just said, 'That's fucking crazy, man."...

What story are you working on now - the Kandahar offensive?

That's the story I've been working on.

How is that offensive going?

I think it's in trouble, in serious trouble. The fighting is really, really heavy and they've postponed the heaviest fighting till the fall. But it's going to be nasty. This June has been the deadliest month of the war. You have this problem where we told our Afghan partners, if you don't want it , then we don't have to do it, and they said no and we said, well, we're doing it anyway. Now we're in situation where we are eventually going to do it and we don't have the popular support of the locals.

What was your reaction to McChrystal's resignation? And Obama accepting it? Were you surprised?

I was very surprised. I thought Gen. McChrystal was unfireable, that his position was secure. What is telling is that our story demonstrates this tense relationship between Pres. Obama and Gen. McChrystal and the way the WH responded confirms this. They could have swept it under the rug but they drove it... obviously McChrystal's political opponents took advantage of this opportunity to relieve him of his command, though that's just my speculation.

I didn't think Obama would do it. Essentially the story calls him out for being weak and not having control of his Afghan policy. If he had let him stay, it would have confirmed this idea in the story. He had to prove that he was in control. I wasn't sure that he was willing to do that. I was shocked that he was -- not because I don't think Obama is courageous, but because it involved some political drama... It was so fast, both right and left seemed to get together to call for his resignation. There was no one defending McChrystal.

Do you think it was the right decision?

Obviously, I have significant doubts about the [military] campaign anyway. The most important decision is not whether I think Obama made the right decision but whether his firing will satisfy the soldiers. Over here, soldiers were happy that he got fired. I've had a number of people come up to me, I got an email from Marine this morning [Thursday]: 'Hey man, you did great work. All the guys in my company think it's good McChrystal is not there because he was putting our lives at risk...

Petraeus is sort of a genius. He managed to turn what could have been catastrophic defeat in Iraq into a face-saving withdrawal. That's his mission in Afghanistan, to make it look like we didn't get run out. {emphasis mine - RM) He's a master at playing the game... the soldiers look up to him and respect him.

Will Petraeus continue this counterinsurgency offensive?

Yes. And Petraeus has the ability to communicate this strategy in a way that is more effective... I have a scene in the story [in which McChrystal goes to meet some soldiers in a unit who were angry with the general for putting them in harm's way by limited their range of responses, which led to the killing of one of their own]. The reason those guys are so angry [with McChrystal] is that Corporal Michael Ingram was killed because they weren't allowed to tear down this house [an abandoned home long considered a security risk in the area they were patrolling]. It was a total failure to communicate his vision.

The trash talking has gotten a lot of attention but the more damaging part [of the story] for McChrystal was how the soldiers would be portrayed. He pulled me aside after the meeting [at which McChrystal went to meet with Ingram's unit to hear their concerns and to explain his strategy] and said that for them the wound is still raw. They [McChrystal's staff] were under the impression that I would make the soldiers look like they did not understand counterinsurgency but what was clear to me instead is that McChrystal's command had an issue. They thought he won them over but he didn't. He knew they were angry and upset. I had a quote from a soldier saying, 'We don't even want McChrystal to come here' which I didn't include in the story.

Read the rest here. As my regular readers know, I agree with most of what Hastings has to say here.

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The Way Forward In AfPak

Now that President Obama has assigned General David Petraeus to command in Afghanistan, it's worth taking a look at what this entails and what the future is likely to hold.

Obama is being praised for making a brilliant choice, but its worth noting that this same crowd enthusiastically endorsed the idea not so long ago that General 'Betray us' was lying to Congress and the American people when he was advocating his strategy for the of the U.S.-led surge in Iraq.

Strange days, children...seeing General Petraeus photographed standing next to Barack Obama and Joe Biden, two ex-Senators who insulted him to his face almost at will and did everything they could to sabotage him only three years ago now calling on him to save our efforts in Afghanistan....

In truth, Obama had very little choice except to assign General Petraeus to pull things out of the fire. If he hadn't selected General Petraeus, Obama was pretty much limited to the following list:

  • General Ray Odierno, our current commander in Iraq
  • General Martin Dempsey, in charge of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Virginia
  • Lieutenant General Rick Lynch, the current commander of the Army's Installation Management Command
  • Lieutenant General William Caldwell, McChrystal's deputy in Afghanistan
  • General James Mattis, the Marine who directed the Fallujah campaign in 2004.

  • Ordierno is still badly needed in Iraq, Dempsey, Lynch and Mattis would need a certain amount of time we don't have to get a feel for the ground and adjust to Afghanistan and Caldwell is tainted by being part of McChrystal's team. So General Petraeus was pretty much the only real choice.He is, after all, the author of the COIN strategy we're now following, for better or worse. And if anyone is going to be able to implement it on the ground or modify it so it would work in a place like Afghanistan, it will be General Petraeus.

    Additionally, General Petraeus is well known and respected not only in the military but by the American public at large. If things go badly in Afghanistan in spite of General Petraeus' best efforts and we need to do a precipitous pull out, Obama will be able to derive political cover for a failure the president engineered by sharing the blame with America's best known commander.

    What Obama is really hoping for, of course, is that General Petraeus will in fact be able to replicate his feat in Iraq, where he came into a failed situation and engineered not a victory, but something that looked enough like one so that we could begin to pull out honorably.

    President Obama wants the same result in Afghanistan, so he can pound his chest and take the credit.

    General Petraeus is going to have quite a challenge ahead of him.

    First of all, he's going to have to come up with some realistic, clear cut strategic objectives that President Obama can sign off on. At present, we don't have them. And as that granddaddy of strategic thinking Clauswitz wrote years ago, going to war without them is a recipe for disaster.

    He's going to have to take a good look at the restrictive Rules of Engagement and see about revising them, again by convincing President Obama. Not only have they resulted in more US casualties without any appreciable increase in pro-US sentiment among the Afghans, they have seriously affected the morale of our troops.Indeed,he may have to take a look at the entire COIN strategy.

    He's going to have to somehow resurrect a decent relationship with Hamid Karzai, and/or our own relationship with the Afghan warlords and tribal chiefs, something I suggested over two years ago. This will involve, among other things, cold hard cash just as it did with the Iraqi Sunni leaders who became part of the Awakening movement...except it will be more difficult, because the Taliban are fellow Pashtuns and respect the local tribal chiefs that don't obstruct or fight against them to a certain degree. In Iraq, the al-Qaeda insurgents had a large complement of foreigners and brutally terrorized the locals to the point where throwing in with the Americans became a better option when the price was right.

    One avenue for this might be our getting involved in controlling the opium trade to choke off a major part of the Taliban's financial support.

    He will need to solve the problem of Pakistan, a failed basket case of a state that shares a 1600 mile border with Afghanistan where the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies have essentially regrouped and are able to attack us in Afghanistan at will - and then fade back over the borders to bases they maintain there, with the connivance of Pakistani army, ISI intelligence service and political figures. Billions in bribes have not been effective so far at anything much beyond keeping the major supply artery of the Pakistani port of Karachi to the Torkum Pass open for our convoys.

    Almost 80% of our war supplies come over this route through hostile territory, there's no effective alternative and the Pakistanis know they have us over a barrel.

    Finally, he's going to have to win the war waged behind his back at home. He's under the command of Democrats who bear him no great love and who cheerfully tried their best to stab him and our troops under fire in the back not so long ago out of sheer partisan political expedience. Rest assured that there will be similar efforts going on now, and some of them may even emanate from the White House. President Obama and General Petraeus have never exactly been chummy.

    All in all, this is going to be the greatest challenge of the general's military career. It's going to be a difficult rabbit to pull out of the hat, but if anyone can do it, it's General David Petraeus, and even Obama recognizes that.

    I can only wish General Petraeus good luck and G-dspeed in trying to make something positive out of this mess. He's going to need it.

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    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Obama's SCOTUS Nominee - Sharia Friendly?

    Yet another interesting factoid has surfaced about President Obama's prospective Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan. It appears she has an unduly tolerant view of sharia law...which of course directly contradicts our Constitution in numerous ways.

    As I've mentioned before, Ms. Kagan, as Dean of Harvard Law School sued to keep military recruiters off campus in violation of the Solomon Amendment because she was so incensed over the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy towards gays.

    But as Senator Jeff Sessions, the top ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary revealed, at the same time she was throwing a tantrum over military recruiters, Elena Kagan had no problem with the University accepting $20 million from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi Royal family to establish a center for 'Islamic Studies' and shariah law.

    According to shariah, homosexual activity is a capital crime, and in countries like Iran gays are routinely hung. But Elena Kagan had nothing to say about Harvard accepting a huge check to promote shariah. Is hostility towards gays OK with her provided the pay out is big enough? Do we want that kind of selective morality sitting on the highest court of the land - for life?

    Even worse, there's a more direct connection to Elena Kagan and the advancement of sharia. She personally officiated in 2003 over the creation of an "Islamic Finance Project" at the law school itself. It's express purpose is to promote shariah-compliant finance by training and indoctrinating law students at Harvard to be advocates for it. As Frank Gaffney reveals, this is a lot more insidious than it seems, and is thought of by jihadists as a gateway agenda, a way to introduce sharia concepts as a way to later encourage submission to the entire agenda:

    Shariah-Compliant Finance dates back to the 1940s, when it was invented by leading figures in the Muslim Brotherhood. This international organization has as its stated mission "destroying Western civilization from its own miserable hand." SCF is designed to further these seditious purposes by: legitimating Shariah in non-Muslim societies; compelling non-Shariah adherent Muslims to use SCF, rather than conventional financial products (in particular, arrangements that involve charging or paying interest); and diverting funds through techniques known as "zakat" (tithing) and "purification" to support jihad. In fact, one of the driving forces behind the SCF industry, Qatari Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi has actually called SCF-generated zakat "jihad with money."

    Ms. Kagan's Islamic Finance Project has also played a prominent role in encouraging the U.S. government to endorse Shariah-Compliant Finance. Notably, a founding advisor to the Project, Harvard professor Samuel Hays III, conducted a "seminar for the policy community" in November 2008. It was sponsored by a former Goldman Sachs executive-turned-Assistant Treasury Secretary, Neel Kashkari, who at the time was responsible for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The signal thus sent could not have been clearer, either to Kashkari's colleagues in government or those in the financial sector: At a moment when the very viability of major banks and investing institutions critically depended on this individual's favor, it would be advisable to embrace Shariah-Compliant Finance.

    I wonder if Kagan went on any of the lavish Saudi-paid junkets that were doled out to select members of the Harvard faculty during this period?

    This just adds something else to the accumulating evidence that Elena Kagan is not only unqualified for the Supreme Court, she might just be downright dangerous.

    (hat tip to Debbie over at Right Truth for steering this my way. And click on the link to read her fine piece on the State of Oklahoma's efforts to ban sharia law)

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    Blago Trial Bombshell: Obama Knew Price For Senate Appointment Of Valerie Jarret

    Heh! I knew this would end up being entertaining:

    A top aide to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he believed Barack Obama knew of Blagojevich's plot to win himself a presidential Cabinet post in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate.

    John Harris, Blagojevich's former chief of staff, testified Wednesday in the former governor's corruption trial that three days after the Nov. 4, 2008, presidential election, the ex-governor told Harris he felt confident Obama knew he wanted to swap perks.

    "The president understands that the governor would be willing to make the appointment of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he's asked for. . . . The governor gets the Cabinet appointment he's asked for," Harris said, explaining a recorded call.

    Harris said Blagojevich came away believing Obama knew what he wanted after having a conversation with a local union representative, who in turn spoke with labor leader Tom Balanoff, with whom Blagojevich met to discuss a Jarrett appointment. Jarrett, now a White House adviser, was seeking the appointment to Obama's Senate seat.

    Defense lawyers say Harris' testimony contradicts the government's previous public statements that Obama knew nothing about deal-making involving the Senate seat appointment.

    The defense on Wednesday moved to force the prosecution to turn over FBI reports of Obama's interview with federal agents in December of 2008. Obama is not accused of wrongdoing.

    "Testimony elicited by the government from John Harris and wiretaps played in court raise the issue of President Obama's direct knowledge and communication with emissaries and others regarding the appointment to his Senate seat," lawyers wrote in the filing.

    The filing came on the trial's third day of the extensive playback of recordings in which Blagojevich is heard repeatedly discussing ways to personally capitalize on his Senate seat appointment power. Blagojevich could be heard plotting to try to head up a charity; swearing and snapping at his wife, Patti, and dismissing the possibility of a federal position that pays $190,000 a year.

    "I make $170 . . . So Fred, that has no appeal to me . . . I want to make money," Blagojevich tells national Democratic consultant Fred Yang. "I might as well go out and find a way to make money."

    Obama's 2008 internal report about his staff's contacts with Blagojevich at the time indicates that Balanoff relayed to Jarrett that Blagojevich was interested in a Health and Human Services Cabinet post.

    Now I wonder...does Rahm Emanuel's connection with all this have anything to do with persistent rumors that he's going to be leaving the White House after the midterms?

    After this, I find it very difficult to imagine that a judge wouldn't want the president at least deposed under oath.

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    A New Definition Of 'Liberal'

    Unwittingly revealed by the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, discussing General McChrystal's firing:

    Even more about McChrystal: now it can be told. The story about him voting for Obama is not contrived. He is a political liberal. He is a social liberal. He banned Fox News from the television sets in his headquarters.

    Yup, banning ...that's sooo liberal in the modern, corrupted sense of the word. Ambinder just told us something about himself.

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    A Palace Coup In Oz As Australia Gets Its First Woman PM

    (Eh, I just cut down the Tall Poppy!)

    The Labour Party savaged its own leader yesterday, with PM Kevin Rudd resigning in an emotional farewell less than three years after his 2007 election victory as he was ousted in favor of 45-year-old Julia Gillard, who will be Australia's first female prime minister.

    Gillard is widely credited with engineering her party leader's Rudd's demise.

    What cut Rudd down was controversy over his shelving of a carbon-trade scheme of the type beloved by the Left everywhere and his attempt to implement a huge tax increase on Australia's mining industry that sparked widespread protests among companies, workers and members of Rudd’s own party. Another issue was Rudd's failure to move against an influx of boat people illegally entering Australia.Rudd was tanking in the polls, and his fellow Labour Party members were concerned about being tossed out in the next election.

    Gillard has pledged to resurrect the carbon trade initiative and negotiate with the miners, which has made her popular with her own party. Also , as Australia's first female PM, she's something of a novelty and likely to attract the votes of the sheilas, who are quite excited at her ascendancy to power.

    If this sounds a bit like Obama, I note the similarity, but being as it's Australia, the Labour Party generally is not quite as far Left as our Democrats, although Gillard is definitely in the party's Left wing.

    In terms of Australia's chief trading party, China and its chief security partner, the US, things are unlikely to change much.

    Gillard will be squaring off in the elections against the Liberal Party’s Tony Abbott, a former Rhodes scholar and priest trainee. Remember, in Oz the Liberals are the conservative party.

    Her success may very well depend on whether she can negotiate successfully with the mining industry and to what degree she's willing to moderate her views more towards the center.

    UPDATE: According to Isi Liebler Gillard is a proven friend of Israel.

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    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Dems: 'Faggedabout Obama's $250K Tax Ceiling Campaign Pledge .. Squeeze 'Em All!'

    They're not even making a pretense of lying about it anymore:

    The majority party on Capitol Hill does not feel bound by that pledge, saying the threshold for tax hikes will depend on several factors, such as the revenue differences between setting the threshold at $200,000 and setting it at $250,000.

    “You could go lower, too — why not $200,000?” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “With the debt and deficit we have, you can’t make promises to people. This is a very serious situation.”

    Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, concurred, saying, “I don’t think there’s any magic in the number, whether it’s $250,000, $200,000 or $225,000.

    “I’m not hard and fast on $250,000,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). “Quite frankly, it could be somewhat lower than that. $250,000 — is that the top 1 percent of Americans, or half a percent? I mean, come on!”

    Household income data compiled by the Census Bureau in 2008 shows that families earning over $250,000 fall into the top 2 percent.

    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) hinted in a speech Tuesday that House Democrats do not consider family incomes of $250,000 an inviolable threshold, despite Obama’s pledge.

    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) hinted in a speech Tuesday that House Democrats do not consider family incomes of $250,000 an inviolable threshold, despite Obama’s pledge.

    He said at the event sponsored by the Third Way think tank that “at a minimum,”the House would not extend the tax cuts to taxpayers above $250,000.

    Hoyer argued that higher taxes would be necessary to address the $1.5 trillion federal deficit and downplayed threats that such action would hamstring the economic recovery.

    “The Democrats used all the revenue in this place on healthcare reform and they can’t do anything else unless there’s more revenue,” said a senior Republican aide.

    Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) acknowledged that using popular offsets to pay for healthcare reform has made it tougher to find ways to pay for other legislation

    No mention of course on where that huge deficit came from.

    What we have here is an out of control Democrat administration and Congress that simply think your money is rightfully theirs, to spend on whatever they like.

    Just remember that most of it can be undone with the right results in November.Don't get fooled again.

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    McChrystal Relieved Of Command..Petraeus Demoted To Take His Place

    Well this turned out in an interesting way.

    McChrystal being fired was no surprise, and I actually think it's what he wanted. But General David Petraeus taking his place...I have to wonder if he was given any choice in the matter or was simply ordered to do do by Obama, his commander-in-chief.

    Actually, this is a step down for General Petraeus, who will go from being commander of CENTCOM to being our commanding General in Afghanistan as Obama appoints a new commander of CENTCOM who will be Petraeus' superior.

    In a sense, Obama is doubling down and covering himself on Afghanistan by putting America's best known general in direct command.If it fails, Petraeus will share the onus.

    Thus the question on whether Petraeus agreed to take this on or was simply ordered to do so. If he took it on voluntarily, he has to believe that this war can somehow be won. The first thing I'll be looking for is to see whether Petraeus changes the ridiculous Rules Of Engagement when he gets in. I'll also be watching to see what he does with the tribal chiefs and the opium traffic.

    A key to understanding Petraeus' thinking is to look at his testimony before Congress on Afghanistan just last week about Obama's written-in-stone July '11 deadline.
    "It's important that July 2011 be seen for what it is, the date when a process begins based on conditions, not the date when the U.S. heads for the exits," said Petraeus. "Moreover, my agreement with the president's decisions was based on projections of conditions in July 2011.

    From Obama's standpoint, if things go seriously south in AfPak he has a scapegoat. If they go well and Petraeus comes back next year to report on whether conditions are right to start withdrawing next year, Congress and the American people are going to believe him.

    Best of luck, General.

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