The Paradox and Absurdities of Carbon-Fretting and Rewilding

Herschel Smith · 28 Jan 2024 · 4 Comments

The Bureau of Land Management is planning a truly boneheaded move, angering some conservationists over the affects to herd populations and migration routes.  From Field & Stream. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a draft plan outlining potential solar energy development in the West. The proposal is an update of the BLM’s 2012 Western Solar Plan. It adds five new states—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming—to a list of 11 western states already earmarked…… [read more]

The Border Is Not Secure

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 2 months ago

Glenn Reynolds links Mickey Kaus writing at The Daily Caller on the border fence.  Mickey links and discusses observations by Mark Krikorian.  Mark’s report is a mixed bag, and I recall reading it with some skepticism.  Mark’s report, which Mickey views as “balanced,” discussed how the larger fences have been more effective (even if the smaller ones aren’t).  The border situation, says Mark, is “better.”  Sorry, but I’m not buying it.  The pitiful parts of the fence are still pitiful, and the larger parts of the fence – well, you can judge for yourself.

Also, here is something to watch for in upcoming debates about the border situation.  Napolitano says that things at the border have gotten far better.  But the Border Patrol (and DHS) is under-reporting “got-aways.” Why would they do this?  Well, soft metrics can make things look better than they really are.

Napolitano cited some specifics of the new index, which she wrote would include “traditional measures” but also other indicators.

“This index would take into account traditional measures such as apprehensions and contraband seizures, state and local crime statistics on border-related criminal activity, and overall crime index reporting,” the testimony states. “But to fully evaluate the condition of the border and the effectiveness of our efforts, this index would also incorporate indicators of the impact of illegal cross-border activity on the quality of life in the border region.”

“This may include calls from hospitals to report suspected illegal aliens, traffic accidents involving illegal aliens or narcotics smugglers, rates of vehicle theft and numbers of abandoned vehicles, impacts on property values, and other measures of economic activity and environmental impacts,” says Napolitano’s testimony.

I mostly agree with the normally clear-thinking Mark Krikorian.  In this case, I continue to advocate U.S. Marine Corps arming orders and patrols along the Mexican border.  Build large fences, but enforce border security by arms.

Obama Would Sell Out America On Nuclear Weapons

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 2 months ago

Concerning the recent open mic moment with lackey Dmitri Medvedev, Glen Tschirgi has suggested that the relationship of Mr. Obama with America is analogous to one of an attorney representing a client he really doesn’t want, or doesn’t believe in, or doesn’t like … or something.  It’s hard to tell with Obama because his actions are so inexplicable concerning the projections of American power, at least for a President of the U.S.  This sounds right, but I’ll expand the observations to include the notion that he always intended to sell out America on nuclear weapons and missile defense.

In spite of repeated warnings by the Department of Defense concerning an aging nuclear stockpile, Obama has always said that he would target a reduction in nuclear weapons.  He continues to press for a “world without nuclear weapons,” and regarding the U.S. nuclear arsenal, there are more cuts coming if he is reelected.

“My administration’s nuclear posture recognises that the massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the Cold War is poorly suited to today’s threats, including nuclear terrorism,” he said.

The administration was now conducting a “comprehensive study of our nuclear forces,” added Mr Obama, saying: “Even as we have more work to do, we can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need.”

America currently has about 1,950 deployed nuclear warheads, compared with 2,430 for Russia.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Laura Holgate is an Obama adviser on weapons of mass destruction.  Her CV describes her position on nuclear weapons.

Ms. Holgate joined the office of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinator at the National Security Council in 2009 as the Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism and Threat Reduction. In this role, she oversees and coordinates the development of national policies and programs to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons; detect, identify, secure, and eliminate nuclear materials; prevent malicious use of biotechnology; and secure the civilian nuclear fuel cycle.

From 2001 to 2009, Ms. Holgate was the Vice President for Russia/New Independent States Programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. The Nuclear Threat Initiative is a public charity devoted to reducing toward zero the risk that nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons will ever be used, and to preventing their proliferation. Working closely with governments and international organizations, Ms. Holgate led NTI’s activities to secure and eliminate fissile materials, develop new employment for former weapons workers, reduce risks of the nuclear fuel cycle, and enhance national threat reduction programs.

Prior to joining NTI, Ms. Holgate directed the Department of Energy’s Office of Fissile Materials Disposition from 1998 to 2001, where she was responsible for consolidating and disposing of excess weapons plutonium and highly enriched uranium in the U.S. and Russia …

Burning Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX, produced from the weapons program) in commercial reactors is a nice idea, but only because we don’t intend to use it for anything else and don’t really believe in deterrents, and need to use the Plutonium for something.  The biggest contributor to world peace since the mid-20th century has been the existence of nuclear weapons.  Untold millions of lives have been saved and immeasurable misery prevented because America sought power and force projection, specifically with nuclear weapons.

Our current goal is to rid ourselves of that power, and yet it should be remembered that it was always Mr. Obama’s goal.  The only reason that you hire an adviser who believes in zero nuclear weapons is because that’s where you want to go too.

A Lawyer’s Perspective on Obama’s Open Mic (aka: Selling Out Your Client)

BY Glen Tschirgi
12 years, 2 months ago

By now most everyone has heard or read about the latest Obama mess– the “off the record” conversation between Obama and outgoing Russian President Dimitry Medvedev inadvertently caught by at least one microphone that the two thought had been turned off.  A friend referred to it this incident as a “gaffe,” but that is far too generous a term.  This incident is one of those rare, clarifying moments when the heavily painted facade of a charlatan mistakenly falls away and the audience is allowed a brief glimpse at the truth.

And by now as well, everyone has heard or read various analyses of the incident, none of which are dire enough for my taste.  But there is not much to add.

Now we have reached the aftershocks of this White House temblor where Obama and his sycophants attempt to spin the story and explain it away.

In this reverberation, this assault on our intelligence and patience by El Presidente, William Kristol over at The Weekly renders us all a great service in pointing out the many levels of duplicity and shocking arrogance:

Obama is being disingenuous: His private comments to Medvedev were not about reducing nuclear stockpiles. They were about missile defense: “On all these issues, particularly on missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space,” he said. And Obama didn’t just ask for “space” until after Election Day. He promised: “After my election I have more flexibility.” So Obama was promising more accommodation to Vladimir Putin’s Russia next year, not simply reiterating his commitment to nuclear weapons reduction.

Obama’s new comment is also revealing. What does Obama mean by saying that the current environment isn’t conducive to “thoughtful consultations” with the Pentagon, as well with Congress? Obama is, it seems, suggesting he’ll be able to override military advice more easily once he gets past the election. That’s good to know. And that his consultations with the Pentagon fall for Obama into the same category as negotiations with congressional leaders from the other party. This is revealing—and scary.

Finally, Obama doesn’t seem at all aware of how inappropriate his whole line of discussion with Medvedev was. It’s one thing to acknowledge election year imperatives when discussing domestic issues at home. It’s quite another to do so when discussing foreign policy with a foreign leader. A president of the United States, meeting with a foreign leader abroad, should surely maintain the posture that he’s acting in the best interests of the United States at all times. Others can explain election year considerations sotto voce if necessary. But it’s deeply inappropriate for the president to discuss election year considerations—especially with a foreign leader whose country is often hostile to U.S. interests.

(Emphasis mine)

This is all very true and very well put by Kristol, but when I read these paragraphs I experienced an instantaneous connection with my other life as a trial attorney that puts Obama’s behavior in a very comprehensible light.

As most civil trial attorneys will tell you, there is often precious little, actual trial work.  The truism that most cases settle before trial is, not surprisingly, true.   How a case reaches a settlement, however, is a little known and surprising secret.   In my experience– anecdotal and possibly unrepresentative though it may be– cases settle very often because the attorney representing the other side sells out his client. Beyond the fact that this behavior is blatantly unethical and goes against the very heart and soul of the attorney-client relationship, I am constantly amazed at how attorneys will, for example, reveal damaging information about their client, or express frustration or even open hostility toward their client, all in the pursuit of the magic Settlement Agreement.   The Agreement that will allow them to move on to less taxing, more rewarding, more interesting work for someone else who always seems to pay better or have a better claim on their time.

Why would an attorney do this?  I am not sure.  An educated guess is that these attorneys are perhaps lazy and do not want to be bothered by the time and effort required to bring a case to trial.  Or perhaps these attorneys have taken on too many, other cases and are desperate to reach a Settlement that will mean one, less case to worry about.  Many of these attorneys I deal with express regrets about taking on their clients (“they don’t/can’t pay me” or “they are completely out of control” etc…).   In any event, after reading William Kristol’s piece, I immediately identified Obama’s behavior with the double-crossing attorneys I often encounter.

This is what I contend Obama was caught doing with President Medvedev: selling out his client, the United States of America, in order to achieve some kind of magical Settlement Agreement with the Russians.   Why?  Again, I can only guess but probably the same reasons apply to Obama as with the trial attorneys:  he doesn’t like his client, he is annoyed or even desperate to move on to other, more interesting or personally profitable work.   Reaching the magic Settlement Agreement may, in Obama’s mind, reinforce his egoism– the all-important Legacy.

That Obama appears willing to sell out the U.S. to Russia is a terrible thing, indeed.  But even worse (if that’s possible) is the certain knowledge that someone who will sell out his client in one case will do so again and again in other cases.   Just as Obama was caught by Danish television telling a string of visiting Nordic leaders the same, hokey line about “punching above their weight,” you can bet that Obama has been having the same, Medvedev-like conversation with other world leaders who are every bit (if not more) hostile to the U.S. than Russia.

Does anyone think, for example, that Obama has not already told President Erdogan of Turkey that he will be much more “flexible” after re-election to sell out Israel?   What about selling out U.S. interests to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?  Iran?  Syria?  China?  In all of these cases, Obama desperately wants that magical Settlement Agreement.   And like the attorneys I deal with all too often, Obama will sell us all out to get the deal he wants and needs.

The Taliban Goal Of Global Islamic Domination

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 2 months ago

From Pakistan Today:

One of the top leaders of the movement of the Taliban in Pakistan said the terror group sought to overthrow the Pakistani government, impose sharia, seize the country’s nuclear weapons, and wage jihad until “the Caliphate is established across the world”.

The statements were made by Omar Khalid al Khurasani, the al Qaeda-linked leader of the Taliban in Pakistan’s branch in the Mohmand Agency, in a video that was released on jihadist web forums.

The video, which also discussed the history and evolution of the Taliban Movement in Pakistan, was released by Umar Studios and has been translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

As we have previously observed, a decade or more of exposure to the transnational religious insurgency has inculcated globalist ideologies and intentions within a group that, whether these intentions existed before, certainly owns them now.  The Afghanistan Taliban isn’t far behind, and they swim in the same waters as the Pakistan Taliban.

Mohamed Merah, the French citizen of Algerian origin, perpetrator of the Toulouse shootings, had trained with the Taliban despite French denials of connection.  There may be some question whether he was incarcerated in Kandahar, and it appears that it may have been an indigenous Afghan by that same name that escaped in 2008.  But his radicalization, or at least part of it, occurred during two trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan.  He was also on the U.S. no-fly list because he had been in custody in Afghanistan.

As for other potential shooters?

More than 80 French nationals are training with the Pakistan Taliban in the law-less northwest of the country, according to an insurgent commander, raising fears of a renewed campaign against Western targets. A senior commander with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, an al-Qaida-affiliated group that has its stronghold in North Waziristan, said 80 French citizens were training “mostly in North Waziristan but some in South Waziristan.

Perhaps this is just bluster to hide the fact that their reach doesn’t yet match their ambitions.  But perhaps not.  “French intelligence sources said about 30 French fighters trained by the Taliban were believed to have taken part in attacks on Western forces in Afghanistan.”

At a time when most of America has tired of the global Islamic insurgency, it would appear that “the long war” is just beginning.

Is Iran Trying to Develop Nukes? Don’t Ask U.S. Intelligence Agencies

BY Glen Tschirgi
12 years, 2 months ago

According to a front-page story by James Risen in The New York Times, those crazy mullahs in Iran have U.S. intelligence agencies dumbfounded:

WASHINGTON — While American spy agencies have believed that the Iranians halted efforts to build a nuclear bomb back in 2003, the difficulty in assessing the government’s ambitions was evident two years ago, when what appeared to be alarming new intelligence emerged, according to current and former United States officials.

Intercepted communications of Iranian officials discussing their nuclear program raised concerns that the country’s leaders had decided to revive efforts to develop a weapon, intelligence officials said.

That, along with a stream of other information, set off an intensive review and delayed publication of the 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, a classified report reflecting the consensus of analysts from 16 agencies. But in the end, they deemed the intercepts and other evidence unpersuasive, and they stuck to their longstanding conclusion.


We have an authoritarian regime in Iran that has repeatedly attacked the United States and its allies over the last 30 years.  They have invested billions of petro dollars (at the expense of their shaky economy and massive public unrest) in order to build elaborate, underground facilities with state of the art centrifuges to enrich uranium.  They are known to have consulted with A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist key to the Pakistani Bomb.  They are known to have consulted with North Korea on nuclear weapons including, according to one recent article, the testing of a uranium nuclear device in North Korea.   Their attempts to develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear payloads was recently exposed when the testing facility suffered enormous explosions.  The Regime leadership regularly threatens to obliterate Israel.

And yet the collected wisdom of U.S. intelligence agencies, according to Mr. Risen, remains unchanged from the controversial 2007 N.I.E. that concluded that Iran had stopped pursuing nuclear weapons in 2003.  They found the evidence of Iranian intentions “unpersuasive.”

How can this be?  And bear in mind that the N.I.E. believes that the Iranians have still not re-started their nuclear program.  Let that sink in.   Our intelligence agencies best information leads them to believe that the Iranians have had their nuclear weapons program on hold for almost 10 years now.

What has our intel services so stymied?

The picture emerging from Risen’s article is incredibly troublesome.   To hear Risen tell it, the U.S. lacks any meaningful human intelligence sources inside of Iran and relies, instead, upon signals intelligence– intercepted telephone calls and emails, recon photos and sensitive detection devices.   Israel, we are told, has human intelligence sources in Iran, but the U.S. agencies give them little credence, seemingly afraid of the shadows of Iraq intelligence failures.

Worse, U.S. agencies cannot seem to figure out the complex structure and hierarchy of Iranian leadership:

“In large part, that’s because their system is so confusing,” he said, which “has the effect of making it difficult to determine who speaks authoritatively on what.”

And, he added, “We’re not on the ground, and not having our people on the ground to catch nuance is a problem.”

This is a systemic failure in so many respects that it defies belief.   It almost seems like a farce at times.

Consider the apparent basis for concluding in 2007 that Iran had stopped their nuke program:

Just as in 2010, new evidence about the Iranian nuclear program delayed the National Intelligence Estimate in 2007, the last previous assessment. Current and former American officials say that a draft version of the assessment had been completed when the United States began to collect surprising intelligence suggesting that Iran had suspended its weapons program and disbanded its weapons team four years earlier.

The draft version had concluded that the Iranians were still trying to build a bomb, the same finding of a 2005 assessment. But as they scrutinized the new intelligence from several sources, including intercepted communications in which Iranian officials were heard complaining to one another about stopping the program, the American intelligence officials decided they had to change course, officials said. While enrichment activities continued, the evidence that Iran had halted its weapons program in 2003 at the direction of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was too strong to ignore, they said.

One former senior official characterized the information as very persuasive. “I had high confidence in it,” he said. “There was tremendous evidence that the program had been halted.”

Is this a joke?  “Intercepted communications in which Iranian officials were heard complaining… about stopping the program” ?  And other, apparent evidence that Khamenei directed that the program be halted?  I am obviously not a professional intelligence analyst but if all the physical evidence (enrichment, secret, underground facilities, contacts with nuclear rogue states) points to a burgeoning nuclear weapons program and there are intercepted communications saying the program has stopped, I am going to believe the physical evidence and dismiss the intercepts as so much misinformation.

Can it really be so easy to deceive U.S. intelligence?  Apparently so.

One final note.   Risen claims that Israeli intelligence mainly agrees with the U.S. assessment.   I do not buy this for one moment.   Not a single Israeli source is cited in the article (and on the whole, the article relies upon unnamed and anonymous sources).   We have hearsay from an unnamed source that Israel’s Mossad is on board with the U.S. view.   This runs so contrary to every report being published that it should not be trusted unless and until a source is named.

It is, of course, quite possible that the NYT article is a planted piece by the Obama Administration to take some of the pressure off of Obama to take any decisive action on Iran as well as further undercut any building consensus in Israel to take action on its own.   It is even possible that the intelligence agency chiefs are willing participants in an effort by the Administration to undersell and downplay the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.   Either way, it stinks and this moment should be marked down as yet another step in the path to a very violent and rude awakening.

Where Counterinsurgency Hath Brought Us

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 3 months ago

Courtesy of reader Šťoural.  The COIN dance.

Maj. Gen. John Toolan turned over the reins of Regional Command Southwest yesterday to Maj. Gen. Charles Gurganus, who will lead Marine forces in Helmand and Nimroz provinces this summer.

Toolan has repeatedly praised Mohammad Gulab Mangal, Helmand’s provincial governor for his leadership. The general cited Mangal jumping to action as one reason why Helmand didn’t have the same kind of violent protests other parts of the country did after U.S. soldiers burned Qurans at Bagram Air Base last month.

To thank Mangal and other top Afghan officials for their year-long partnership, Toolan held a farewell dinner last week at the Afghan Cultural Center at Camp Leatherneck. And as you can see in the photograph above released by the Corps, the general threw himself into the mix completely, dressing in traditional Afghan garb and joining others on the dance floor.

Observe where population-centric counterinsurgency hath brought us … and left us.

Marines In Afghanistan Told To Disarm Prior To Panetta Speech

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 3 months ago


In an unusual move, around 200 U.S. Marines were asked to leave their weapons outside the tent where U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was set to speak during his trip to Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Although the military said the order was not given in response to the Sunday’s shooting of 16 Afghan civilians allegedly by an American soldier, it possibly underlined how high tensions were running after the incident.

Major General Mark Gurganus told reporters at Camp Leatherneck that he had given the order because the two dozen Afghan soldiers also there were unarmed and he did not want to treat them differently.

“You’ve got one of the most important people in the world in the room,” he told reporters, dismissing concerns related to the shooting. “This is not a big deal.”

“All I know is I was told to get the weapons out,” Sergeant Major Brandon Hall told The New York Times. Asked why, he replied, “Somebody got itchy, that’s all I’ve got to say. Somebody got itchy; we just adjust.”

Panetta’s visit comes after Sunday’s shooting that left 16 Afghan civilians dead, including nine children. Some of the bodies were reportedly burned. The suspect, who hasn’t been named, is in U.S. custody.

According to the newspaper, the Marines, who were waiting to hear Panetta’s speech, were abruptly told by their commander to get up, leave their weapons, including M16 and M-4 automatic rifles and 9 mm pistols, outside and return unarmed. Hall said he was acting on orders from superiors, the Times reported.

Disarming in this way was noteworthy, according to NBC News’ chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski.

He told NBC’s Chuck Todd that the move was “highly unusual” and that Marines in a combat zone are always supposed to have weapons within their reach.

Without going into too much detail, what the Marines were told to do violates everything about Marine Corps doctrine, from top to bottom, concerning not only self protection but protection and security that Marines provide to other Marines.  It runs counter to what they are taught in Boot Camp, School of Infantry, and as a fleet Marine.  And to have 200 Marines completely disarmed in a combat zone is worse than just stolid or ignorant.  It is immoral.

But as for Panetta, let’s be clear.  If his plane were to crash on the way back to the states, requiring us to find a new Secretary of Defense, the world would not come to an end.  Time moves on, as does daily events and decisions.  This is true of me, readers, and even “one of the most important people (sic) in the world.”  But doctrine is for little people. While the Marines were armed Panetta was in one of the safest places on earth – i.e., around 200 armed Marines.  With the Marines disarmed, Panetta unwittingly placed himself and his entourage in mortal danger.

The only analogue I can think of is new gun owners.  If they cannot bring themselves to become trained and practice and trust in their muzzle and trigger discipline, then perhaps they shouldn’t own guns.  If the Secretary of Defense is nervous about being around firearms, perhaps he should have just stayed home and avoided this photo-event.  It would have been better for him and the Marines.

Be A Victim

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 3 months ago

Emily Miller has documented quite a fiasco at The Washington Times concerning her attempt to legally procure a handgun in D.C., even after the Supreme Court Heller decision.  The most recent direction to her from the D.C. police (concerning ammunition) was incorrect, as was their counsel concerning whether she could conceal or open carry her weapon into Virginia (I could give much better counsel).  But even though the D.C. council recently voted to relax firearms regulations (a rare victory for gun owners in D.C.), the contumacious atmosphere in D.C. towards gun owners remains.  Now, officials want D.C. residents simply to become victims.

But one doesn’t have to go all the way to D.C. to find such things.  Recall Sheriff Wright in Spartanburg County, S.C., who after a sexual assault recommended that women obtain guns and concealed carry permits?  Well, not all is well in Spartanburg politics.

In late October, Sheriff Chuck Wright, reacting to recent violent crime, told Spartanburg residents to arm themselves, but have those comments impacted crime rates?

Numbers provided by the sheriff’s office tell two different stories when it comes to crime trends.

For instance, from October 31, 2011 (when the sheriff urged people to get guns) through January 24, 2012, certain violent crimes spiked, while others stayed the same or even dropped, as compared to the same time period the year before.

From 10/31/2011 – 1/24/2012 there was one murder, 21 forcible rapes, 28 robberies, and 95 aggravated assaults (any assault where a weapon was used or where there was a serious injury).

A year earlier between 10/31/2010 – 1/24/2011 there were four murders, 21 forcible rapes, 42 robberies, but 66 aggravated assaults.

So after the sheriff’s comments, the murder rate decreased, the rape rate stayed the same, robberies decreased, but aggravated assaults spiked.

Whether the dramatic increase (450%) of concealed weapon permits since the sheriff’s comments played a role in those numbers, no one can be for sure, not even the sheriff.

“But I guarantee you there are fewer victims out there,” Wright said Wednesday.

But Wright has begun to receive criticism from other elected officials who say the sheriff is sending the wrong message.

“To continue to promote a climate in which we’re asking or even advocating for an increase in concealed weapons permits then you’re asking for an increase in weapons themselves,” said Spartanburg County Councilman Michael Brown.

Brown called the sheriff’s continued remarks “irresponsible” and said law enforcement should be the ones enforcing the laws.

Brown further said “I think it’s irresponsible, irreprehensible (sic) and of course incendiary if you keep on making these types of comments.”

Now, I’m fully capable of finding the first and second moments of a set of statistical data, as well as inferring conclusions from it.  But to do this is the play the social engineer’s game.  When they invoke groups of people and social affects rather than personal liberties and rights, they require something that even God Himself doesn’t require (Exodus 22:2).  They require that you sacrifice your personal safety and security for the benefit of select interest groups.

Because this invades your personal rights and the security of your family in order to effect certain socially engineered ends (those ends themselves being in question), this is fundamentally an evil thing.  It is redistribution from one segment of society to another, but this time on the most personal and valuable level imaginable.  Your own life.

The Incorrigible Corruption In Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 3 months ago

From NYT:

For the past few months, possibly the most intriguing poker game in Kabul has been taking place in the sprawling pink sitting room of the man at the center of one of the most public corruption scandals in the world, the near collapse of Kabul Bank.

The players include people tied to President Hamid Karzai’s inner circle, many of whom have profited from the crony capitalism that has come to define Afghanistan’s economic order, and nearly brought down Kabul Bank. The game’s stakes “aren’t too big — a few thousand dollars up or down,” one of the participants said.

Betting thousands of dollars a night in a country where most families live off a few hundred dollars a year would seem like a bad play for Sherkhan Farnood, the founder and former chairman of Kabul Bank, the country’s biggest. His assets are supposed to be frozen, and he is still facing the threat of prosecution over a scandal that could end up costing the Afghan government — and, by extension, the Western countries that pay most of its expenses — almost $900 million, a sum that nearly equals the government’s total annual revenues.

But Mr. Farnood, who in 2008 won about $143,000 at a World Series of Poker event in Europe, appears to know a good wager when he sees one. Despite years of urging and oversight by American advisers, Mr. Karzai’s government has yet to prosecute a high-level corruption case. And now many American officials say that they have little expectation that Mr. Farnood’s case will prove to be the exception — or that Washington will try to do much about it, especially after violent anti-American protests in recent weeks have sowed fresh doubts in the Obama administration over the viability of the mission in Afghanistan.

As Americans pull back from Afghanistan, Mr. Farnood’s case exemplifies how the United States is leaving behind a problem it underwrote over the past decade with tens of billions of dollars of aid and logistical support: a narrow business and political elite defined by its corruption, and despised by most Afghans for it.

And thus is Afghanistan perfectly set up for the return of the Taliban when we leave.  The Taliban will deal with corruption from the barrel of an AK-47.  They will do it quickly, effectively and without mercy.

Our strategy of marginalizing the Taliban, imprisoning their mid-level commanders, and creating a legitimate central government that would take the place of Taliban governance doesn’t seem too smart now, huh?  It would have been better to have killed the Taliban all along.

Oh, and all of those mid-level Taliban commanders will soon be released from their prisons only to take charge of their fighters once again as the U.S. leaves and the Karzai government tries (unsuccessfully) to keep from perishing by kowtowing to the demands of the Taliban (thereby hastening the return of the very elements that will end the Karzai government).

You couldn’t have scripted a darker tragedy with pen, paper and any amount of time.

Obama Mocks Romney On Iran

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 3 months ago

The Obama apparatchiks mock Romney on Iran.

The Obama campaign mocked Mitt Romney Wednesday, warning that if the Republican pacesetter cowed before talk radio top dog Rush Limbaugh, he would be easy prey for Iran’s firebrand president.

Campaign aides to President Barack Obama were clearly enjoying the spectacle of Romney’s prolonged battle for the Republican nomination, after the former Massachusetts governor failed to kill off his rivals in Super Tuesday contests.

Obama political guru David Axelrod laid into Romney for his somewhat tepid response after Limbaugh said a Georgetown University student who wanted her college health plan to pay for birth control was a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

“If you don’t have the strength to stand up to the most strident voices in your party, how are you going to stand up to (president Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad?” Axelrod asked on a conference call with reporters.

Obama on Tuesday criticized the campaign bluster of Romney and other Republican candidates on Iran, saying “this is not a game” and cautioning against casual talk of war.

Limbaugh is the undisputed champion of the fiery conservative talk radio circuit and wields outsize influence in the Republican Party thanks to his huge audience built up over years of five-day-a-week broadcasts.

Democratic leaders however like to portray the multi-millionaire king of the airwaves as the “de-facto head of the Republican Party” in the knowledge that his brand of conservatism is unpopular with some moderate voters.

Romney’s response to Limbaugh’s attack on student Sandra Fluke, for which he has apologized,” was judged too timid by liberal observers, when he said merely that he wouldn’t have used such “language.”

Now, I’m not particularly a fan of Romney.  Jonah Goldberg thinks he’s “frustratingly anodyne and undefined.”  I think he’s a cardboard cutout that waves and smiles.  But to see the Obama camp mock Romney in light of their own record with Iran is truly hilarious.


Having sent the Iranian people a video greeting on their New Year, President Obama is now inviting them to help celebrate a quintessentially American holiday, the Fourth of July.

Last Friday, the State Department sent a cable to its embassies and consulates around the world notifying them that “they may invite representatives from the government of Iran” to their Independence Day celebrations — annual receptions that typically feature hot dogs, red-white-and-blue bunting and some perfunctory remarks about the founding fathers.

Administration officials characterized the move as another in a series of American overtures to Iran. The United States has not had relations with Iran since the American Embassy in Tehran was seized by protesters in 1979; the country’s diplomats have not been formally invited to American events since then.

“It is another way of saying we are not putting barriers in the way of communicating,” said one administration official. “It is another way of signaling that there is an opportunity that should not be wasted.”

 And then to show them what a bunch of bad asses we really are?

It was an attempt by President Obama to reach out to Iran with a classically American invitation: celebrate July 4 with hot dogs and hale fellowship at United States embassies worldwide. Now, hot-dog diplomacy is the latest casualty of the bloody clashes in Tehran.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had authorized diplomatic posts earlier this month to invite Iranians to their Independence Day parties, sent out a cable rescinding the invitations.

“Unfortunately, circumstances have changed, and participation by Iranian diplomats would not be appropriate in light of the unjust actions that the president and I have condemned,” she said. Embassies that had already invited Iranian diplomats were instructed to disinvite them.

It is not clear this will be much of a snub to the Iranians. The State Department spokesman, Ian C. Kelly, said he was not aware of a single diplomat who had R.S.V.P.’d, anywhere in the world.

David Axelrod.  Providing a circus act since, well, a long time ago.

26th MEU (10)
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