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President Barack Obama on Wednesday met with Congressional Republicans to discuss the path forward in order to avoid default, and ultimately raise the debt ceiling.  The meeting went as expected, with both sides basically blaming the other for the impasse.

The most interesting exchange came when House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan said that leaders can either exacerbate the problem of demagoguery or tone it down.  In his words, he thought they were having a year of cooperation with the White House and House Republicans able to work together on preventing the Bush tax cuts from expiring, and a budget for the rest of the year, but President Obama’s GWU speech was the opposite.

Obama, who if you haven’t noticed does not take criticism well, blamed Republicans for demagoguery.  In reply, Obama said he was no stranger to cartoonish depictions, reeling off a list of conservatives’ favorite attack points: “I’m the death-panel-supporting, socialist, may-not-have-been-born-here president,” Obama said, according to people familiar with his remarks.

When Ryan explained point by point his Medicare plan, making note that it was not a voucher program as Obama said in recent speeches (and Jay Carney, the White House Spokesman, said after the meeting), Obama bristled.

In a press conference afterward, Ryan appeared disillusioned.  “I said that we have got to take on this debt, and if we demagogue each other at the leadership level, then we are never going to take on our debt,” Ryan said.

In all honesty, there is fear mongering on both sides.  That is always true.  Republicans deftly used the spectre of Obamacare to convince the public that Democrats did not deserve the control of Congress.

However, right now, this is a President and party that has no plan to solve the debt crisis.  In fact, most of their members refuse to accept that there is any problem whatsoever.  Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, now head of the DNC, as well as Senate majority leader Harry Reid as recently as this week said the whole debt controversy was trumped up.  And frankly, Mr. Obama’s silence on the issue speaks as loudly as any comments from other members of his party.

Of course Mr. Obama, who called for ‘elevating the level of debate’ after Congresswoman Giffords shooting in January, at the time said that members of each party should hold their party for account.  By the way, Mr. Obama…who have you held to account for this?


To Paul Ryan’s credit, he has taken this all in stride.  To the above commercial, he joked, “Well, can you believe I did that all in one take?”  Paul Ryan has not taken the assault lying down, however.  He has spent much of his time recently to defending his plan…and attacking Obamacare’s raiding of the Medicare trust:

Obamacare kills Medicare. Obamacare raids $500B from Medicare to spend on Obamacare, puts in place a 15 member board to ration Medicare – of bureaucrats. Our budget repeals the raiding, gets rid of the rationing board, preserves this program, makes no changes to the program for a person 55 years of age or older, and saves Medicare by reforming it for our generation, but it’s solvent.

The president’s plan does not save Medicare. It allows it to go bankrupt. It rations the program and raids the program. We will stop the raiding, and we save the program from bankruptcy.

At the end of the day, for Republicans to expect an adult conversation from this President is foolish.  Mr. Obama loves to demagogue, despite his other rhetoric.  He will not admit that his statement that Ryan’s plan is a simple voucher plan is false; the plan would give voucher grants to people, who would then go to Medicare to choose which plan they want.  It never proposes to hand people a check, and let them loose in a complete free market.  Politifact itself stated Democrats’ claim (reiterated by the President) that Ryan’s plan would cost the average senior $12,000 more was a complete lie (or in Politifact terminology, ‘Pants on Fire!‘).

Republicans strategy forward is simple.  When they get into the weeds on this issue, they will lose because Democrats will use the fear card.  When they focus the debate on the ever growing debt that Mr. Obama plans to leave our children and grandchildren, with no hopes of paying it off, it is a winner for Republicans.  Additionally, connecting these issues with continued unemployment rates is key.  If Republicans can make that argument, we are in business.


Debt Ceiling: No Retreat, No Surrender

Today, the House of Representatives rejected elevating the debt ceiling.  It was no surprise that Republicans uniformly voted against the measure.  It was more interesting that 82 Democrats also voted ‘No‘.  The Democrat leadership, led by Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, framed the vote as a protest over what they called hyperpartisanship.  Sure..I am sure that is why your Blue Dog coalition voted against the measure. Of course, if they really wanted to protest…why not just vote ‘Present’?  Simple:  they wanted to have political cover as well on the issue.

This furthers the debt ceiling fight, which will quickly come to culmination some time this summer.  The debate is going to get more heated, and a lot more interesting.  The real question is, how will Republicans act?

Last week’s special election in NY-26 has given RINO Republicans more reason to worry.  Replete with self doubt, they are now backtracking from previous support of Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform plan, and overall deficit reduction proposals Republicans have been pushing this year.  Let by Massachusetts Scott Brown, Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska all voted against moving the proposal forward in the Senate, showing the early cracks in Republican support.

Republican elites have always been afraid of the plan.  The Ryan plan is risky, and not just politically.  However, at this moment, it is the ONLY plan in the entire nation, as President Barack Obama’s Administration as well as Congressional Democrats have abdicated all responsibility for the deficit.

I am not a pure political ideologue.  I sometimes think it is worthwhile to make compromises to move forward.

But not now.  Not on this issue.

The budget deficit, and specifically our entitlement programs, are on the verge of threatening the basic foundations of this nation.  For all the trials and tribulations that we have faced over 235 years, we may never have faced a more direct threat to the viability of our nation.

Am I a demagogue for saying this?  I don’t think so.

Medicare and Social Security are growing broke, even by independent assessments by the Congressional Budget Office.  This, in turn, threatens the financial stability of our government, which is struggling to meet its bill payments.  With Obama virtually proposing $1 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see, the only solution without cutting back is massive tax increases…which our stagnant economy cannot afford.  We can either go broke, or we can sustain long term unemployment at unheard of levels.  That is the choice presented by this President.

So we are left with the choices at hand.  We can succumb to liberal attacks about conservatives wanting to kill old people…or be the adults on the political stage.  We all know that Mr. Obama and his Democrat brethren have no intention, this year or any year, to confront the debt crisis.  They are more than happy to live in their delusional world and whistle past the grave.

But we see how that story plays out.  Look at Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain.  No, we are not any of those countries; we have a much more vibrant and productive workforce than any of them.  But at some point, the quality of our workforce and economy must succumb to the tidal wave of debt headed our way.  You can’t avoid reality forever.  These numbers do not lie.

So it is time to draw a line in the sand.  If Mr. Obama wants to ride the deficit train off the cliff…let him.  But we cannot, should not, cannot allow ourselves the luxury of the delusions that perpetuate the political left’s thinking.  If this costs us the House, the Senate, even the Presidency…so be it.  If we cannot stand and fight on this, why bother?  If we are not willing to lose for the sake of future generations of Americans, how can we call ourselves conservatives?

This is the time, this is the place, this is the issue.  No retreat, no surrender.



Memorial Day: Freedom Is Not Free


Memorial Day historically is for those members of the Armed Services who valiantly fought and died for their country.  Many have served and given their lives…but many others lives were taken away, regardless of their service.  I would like to remember our military, as well as all the others, who have given their lives for this country, in one manner or another.

Always remember: FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.




Republican Presidential Field Set?

With the Mitch Daniels announcement that he is not going to run for President, as well as official announcements by Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain that they are running, it appears that the Republican slate of candidates is almost complete.

Politico, citing GOP insiders, says that they do not believe that there are any other major candidates willing to declare for 2012.

“The waiting is over,” said Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and counselor to President George W. Bush. “Things are going to accelerate pretty quickly now.”

“You’re seeing everything you’re going to get,” said a Republican who has talked privately with the leading candidates.

Well, as usual, you wonder if the GOP elites are stating truths or hopes.

I can think of at least two major persons still seriously considering a run.

The biggest, of course, is Sarah Palin, who  has not stated clearly if she is in or out in this year’s campaign.   I thought she was going to pass this time around, but the rumors are swirling.  And with a Palin-approved movie about her life coming out next month, it looks more and more likely she will make the jump.

The second is Texas Gov. Rick Perry.  Conservatives have started clamouring for Perry to make a run, considering their lack of viable choices.  Perry has a strong record in Texas.  Texas is one of the few states that has added jobs over the past decade, and actually continues to this day.  Perry is not beloved by George W. Bush insiders, which may be a positive or negative, depending on which specific population you ask.

Other rumored candidates persist.  Chris Christie’s name pops up, although he vehemently denies even considering a run.  Back in November, Christie famously told reporters, “Short of suicide, I don’t really know what I’d have to do to convince you people that I’m not running.”  Many conservatives would love to see Jeb Bush, but he seems unwilling this go around.  Other names, like Rick Perry and Paul Ryan, simply do not seem to be realistic.  Even Rudy Giuliani, who had one of the most disastrous runs for the Presidency ever last time, has considered taking the plunge.

That said, I say that the field, plus or minus Palin and Perry, is fine the way it is.

This is what always happens to the out of power party.  2008 was the exception, since Republicans did not really have a flag bearer such as Vice President running, and it was basically a no-holds barred run for the White House.  But when you look at most off-cycle Presidential elections, the out of power party struggles to get a big name candidate on the ticket.

But that does by no means bar success.

Two glaring examples exist in modern times.  1980, Ronald Reagan was considered the outsider comparted to George H.W. Bush, and insiders within the Carter Administration were begging to run against the former California Governor.  In 1992, President George H.W. Bush, basking in the glow of the first Persian Gulf War, was running against the ‘seven little dwarves’ of the Democrat Party, once New York Governor Mario Cuomo decided not to run.  And we all know what a little known Governor from Arkansas named Bill Clinton did to Bush in the election.

There are no homerun candidates available to the Republican Party this time around.  And in fact, that is true in most election cycles.  But that by no means lessens the qualified.  2008 was the exception to the rule, where Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or frankly any generic Democrat beat anyone in the Republican Party.

The media continues to promulgate the notion of Barack Obama as a great political force.  I am not so sure.  In 2008, Democrats had the wind behind their backs.  Which Democrat candidate would not have looked invincible with such a wave of resentment against the GOP?

This time around, if anything, Obama faces headwinds.  It will be shocking if the unemployment rate is below 8%, a level which no President has succeeded in winning re-election since FDR.  The rate of adding jobs appears to be slowing.  Foreign policy victories, as they are, such as OBL’s death and the Jasmine revolution, will likely fade into the public’s memory.  And the debt crisis, as well as continued talk about the deficit, will plague Obama for the rest of  his Presidency.

People lament the choices in front of them.  I say embrace them.  I hope Perry and Palin run, just to make it more interesting; the more, the merrier.  And then let the market of ideas decide.  I am confident, with the right choices, any candidate emerging from this group can defeat Obama in 2012.




Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Movie Review

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies have taken an interesting course.  The first movie sounded like another Disney attempt to cash in on old favorites from yesteryear…the Pirate ride being one of the most famous in their amusement park for decades.  Of course, The Curse of the Black Pearl took in an astounding $350 million domestically, and $650 million worldwide, coming in only second to the third Lord of the Rings movie for movie receipts in 2003.  That assured sequels…which were largely disappointing.  The second and third movies suffered from being add-ons to the original, which never intended on making a trilogy in the first place.  The movies had too many characters, too many story lines, and became bogged down in nuance.

When the fourth installment was announced, many fans were simply not that interested.  But Johnny Depp, along with Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, appear to have got their mojo back.

Instead of producing another sequel, they went back to square one, retaining the only part of the original movies worth bringing back:  Captain Jack Sparrow.

In a new adventure that has almost no connection to the first three films, our favorite Captain is on an adventure for the Fountain of Youth.  This should be an entertaining concept…but fails miserably.

This movie simply is not entertaining.  It is a sequel…in the sense that it repeats the mistakes of the second and third movies.  First of all, it simply is not that fun.  The Curse of the Black Pearl was one of the more enjoyable movies over the past decade.  The three movies succeeding it have been bores, including this one.  The plot is meandering and pointless.  And by the end, I really didn’t care what happened to virtually any of the characters, new or old.

Why Johnny Depp would agree to do this movie is beyond me.  None of the characters, Jack Sparrow included, are all that interesting.  Disney will make a good amount of money on this flick, but doesn’t deserve to.  The scary part?  There are rumors that supposedly two more movies coming. I can’t imagine the disasters they will be.

This is the first movie of the season that I recommend taking a pass on.  Sure, rent in on Netflix when you get a chance, but save your eight bucks this weekend, and go enjoy a nice park or baseball game.  This movie simply is not worth your time nor money.



The Real Issue On Harsh Interrogations

The assassination of Osama Bin Laden was a great moment for the United States, as it issued final justice to a man responsible for the death of thousands here at home and abroad.  The intelligence necessary to locate Bin Laden has of course become a political football, as the issue of harsh interrogations once again enters the American political consciousness.

I think the discussions are important, but the focus needs to be on the here and now.

Many have focused on harsh interrogations occurring at the Guantanamo Bay terrorist facility and elsewhere, especially in the 2001-2005 time period.  Frankly, that discussion is useless.  First of all, it is debatable whether those techniques would be legal today, after Congress took action in 2005 and 2006 to restrict interrogation techniques.  But prior to those Congressional actions, they appear to be certainly legal.  The only question of their legality would be by referring to the Geneva Conventions, and many legal experts feel that even using that international statute, it is questionable whether it would have had jurisdiction in America’s War on Terror against Al Qaeda.

An interesting side note is that those same international laws also forbid political assassinations, of which one could argue Osama Bin Laden’s death last week could also constitute a violation of international law. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay demanded “full disclosure of the accurate facts” about the events leading to the assassination.  Two other  UN human rights investigators said although this case may warrant an exception, “the norm should be that terrorists be dealt with as criminals, through legal processes of arrest, trial and judicially decided punishment.”

Fascinating we haven’t heard those arguments from our political left today, isn’t it?

Americans frankly don’t care what the UN High Commissioner says.  And frankly, either does President Obama.  We know, based on our own moral center, that the killing of OBL was just and deserved.  And Obama rightfully didn’t go to the UN for permission to invade Pakistani sovereignty to commit US troops to killing Bin Laden.  International law is important, but never should interfere with any country’s self defense.

That is an argument that the Obama Administration is making today, and that the Bush Administration has made since the days immediately after September 11, 2001.

The more important issue in my humble opinion is the continued attacks against brave members of our intelligence community in their service to our country during the last two Presidencies.  The political left, with head cheerleader Barack Obama leading the way, have largely used the attacks against the intelligence services for political grandstanding and personal gain.  For the most part, these attacks were unfair, as even the Obama Administration has accepted many of the techniques used under the Bush Administration.  Guantanamo Bay remains open and functional, with no plan to close in the near future.  And the military tribunals have now restarted, after a delay of Obama’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s choosing.  Those techniques that have not been used under Obama, such as harsh interrogations, have never been proven to be illegal, and the current administration doesn’t seem to be headed toward any prosecutions in any case.   In fact, one can argue that they were certainly legal until Congress specifically narrowed allowable actions after 2005.

In an Op-Ed from former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Mr. Mukasey makes the key point:

It is debatable whether the same techniques would be lawful under statutes passed in 2005 and 2006—phrased in highly abstract terms such as “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment—that some claimed were intended to ban waterboarding even though the Senate twice voted down proposals to ban the technique specifically. It is, however, certain that intelligence-gathering rather than prosecution must be the first priority, and that we need a classified interrogation program administered by the agency best equipped to administer it: the CIA.

We also need to put an end to the ongoing investigations of CIA operatives that continue to undermine intelligence community morale.

Acknowledging and meeting the need for an effective and lawful interrogation program, which we once had, and freeing CIA operatives and others to administer it under congressional oversight, would be a fitting way to mark the demise of Osama bin Laden.

President Obama would do the country a great service by ending all investigations against the same intelligence services that provided him the key information in locating America’s most wanted terrorist.  One can argue to what degree harsh interrogations were key to killing Bin Laden.  But no one can argue that many of the same people who served with honor during the period that liberals have continued to castigate as a period of torture and illegality were the same individuals who helped provide America with the ultimate justice against the leader of Al Qaeda that we have all waited so long to see.  Putting an end to the inquisition against these proud Americans would be a fine footnote to the end of Osama Bin Laden.



Thor: Movie Review

Thor begins the Marvel comics big push towards the much anticipated Avengers movie, scheduled for next summer.  Along with the upcoming Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, and the previously seen Iron Man, they make up the core of the Marvel Universe’s team of Earth’s Mightiest heroes.

Of those heroes, however, Thor has to be the ugly stepchild.  Thor has always been kind of off-the-wall character in my book.  In many of the comic books, he comes off as…well…insane.  I mean, who is going to believe this guy is a Norse god?  Can you see Robert Downey, Jr. in the guise of Tony Stark accepting that?

Chris Hemsworth, a virtual unknown whose best known role may be playing Captain James T. Kirk’s ill-fated father in the most recent Star Trek movie, turns in a very solid performance of the mythical Thor.  After seeing him play this role, I cannot think of anyone else that would be better suited.

For those of you that don’t know about Thor, here is some background.  Thor, the God of Thunder, is the son of Odin, king of the Norse gods.  Loki is Thor’s brother and future nemesis.  Thor’s power emanates from his famous hammer, Mjolnir.  Early in the movie, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) tells the story of the great conflict between between Asgard, home of the Norse gods, and the realm of Jotunheim, where the Frost Giants live.

Thor’s arrogance is the key to this entire movie, and in many ways, this is another ‘coming of age’ story.  His arrogance allows him to get involved in a potential new conflict with the Frost Giants, thus risking a long held truce.  For that, Odin banishes him from their world…and sets him upon Earth.  Thor is converted into a mortal, and thus begins his ‘fish out of water’ quest in New Mexico.

Thor’s quest for humility and redemption, especially in the eyes of his father, is the key to the storyline.  Along the way, he meets the lovely Natalie Portman, a scientist who coincidentally is studying cosmic phenomenon, and (literally) runs into Thor.

Now all of this to an outsider unfamiliar with the comic books is, frankly, somewhat esoteric, and some would say outright insane for the basis of a major Hollywood movie.  However, somehow, Hollywood, specifically in the name of Director Kenneth Branagh, pulls it off.

You do not need to be a huge fan of the Thor comic series to become engrossed in this movie.  Certainly, you need a solid imagination and the ability to believe in superheroes, gods, and demons.

Those who simply don’t understand the superhero mantra, here is my hint:  stay away.  This is pure, unadulterated geekdom.  Thor has always been one of the geekier of the superheroes.  To believe in him, you have to believe in Norse mythology, which is extreme even for the Marvel universe.  Additionally, Thor is often insane and arrogant to a fault, and not always the most lovable of characters.

However, if you do love superhero movies, I say give this a chance.  The storyline is not smooth, but the plot does come around.  Ultimately, the hero’s confusion about being banished to Earth, and his ability to find humility in his punishment, is enjoyable enough to make this a worthwhile movie to see.



Sec. Rice…Gets The Last Word

You want to watch Lawrence O’Donnell get pummeled on his own show…as he has long deserved?

Key part of the interview?  When Rice destroys O’Donnell’s assertion that Iraq did not have a significant broad based coalition.  The underlying inference was that the coalition was multiple times larger than the one now involved in Libya.

RICE: You have just made a false statement. You said that we couldn’t assemble a coalition. How many countries fought in the coalition in Iraq?

O’DONNELL: Actually fought and had casualties? Actually fought?

RICE: Yeah, how many.

O’DONNELL: Maybe half a dozen actually fought.

RICE: I see. So the Georgians who went there and the Japanese who went there and others –

O’DONNELL: Actually had soldiers firing weapons on the ground?

RICE: This was not part of the coalition. The people who — the British and the Australians and the Poles and all of those — the Canadians, all of those who were ultimately in Iraq, these were not part of the coalition?

O’DONNELL: Yes, they were.

RICE: Yeah. So your statement was just false.

Awesome.  Must see T.V..

This is why I love Condoleeza Rice.  She placed him on the defensive during the entire interview.  She didn’t take any of the liberal nonsense that O’Donnell spews, without push back, on his show.  And finishing the interview basically by calling ‘Crazy Larry’ as ‘ill-informed’?  Priceless.

Long live Sec. Rice.


Bin Laden’s Death: The Politics


He is dead; what next?

With the death of Osama Bin Laden, I hope to see a few weeks of nonpartisan love.  If there is one thing that the two political parties can agree on, it is that the world is a better place today with that monster off the face of the planet.

President Barack Obama clearly had the penultimate foreign policy achievement of his Presidency last night.  Very little,  excluding a 9/11 type disaster itself, could match what last night held in store.  One can argue how much credit goes to whom, but ultimately, successes of the government and the military pass upward to the White House, and thus, Obama deserves the lion’s share of the credit.

However, as 9/11 showed us, the kumbaya moment can only last so long.

Already political hacks are starting the attacks, accusations, and the credit/blame game…as it should be…this is politics!  The question is, after the dust has settled, what will be the effects of Bin Laden’s demise?

1.  A Strong Foreign Policy President?

Liberals would love for us to believe that this completely solidifies Obama’s credentials as a foreign policy President.  I, and would wager most of you, do not agree with this.

Killing one man, any single person, in not an earth shattering event.  Killing Bin Laden was a huge success, but a symbolic one at that.  The War on Terror will go on, with or without the philosophical leader of Al Qaead.

More importantly, killing of any single man is not a diplomatic strategy unto itself.  As we have seen through out the Middle East, the Obama doctrine is simply lacking in definition and clarity. The Jasmine revolution revealed the Obama doctrine for what it is:  a ‘wing-it’ approach to foreign policy.  Additionally, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya continue, and it is questionable when they will come to an end.  Not all of these problems are Obama’s fault…but he is still responsible for them.

Others, many on the right, would suggest that much of this was luck…and rightfully so.  Although I give credit where credit is due, the luck of finding the courier associated with Bin Laden had much more to do with the success of this mission than any decision on the part of the President.  Luck matters in life; here, it helped Obama.  Next time, who knows?

Some liberals have stated that Obama answered his “3 a.m. call’, as Hillary put it.  But was this really the case?  This was months in development, and I am sure that the ‘Vulcan’ Obama went over every scenario time and again; that is much different than an immediate crisis, such as 9/11, which entails decisive action.  Obama acted appropriately in this scenario, but that by no means answers the remainder of the question.

2.  So, about those harsh interrogations…

So, what becomes to the concept of ‘harsh interrogations?  Mr. Obama set out as a candidate to eliminate the process and close Guantanamo Bay.  His failure to do so is a major Achilles’ heel when it comes to his political left.

But if he have learned anything in the last few days, it is that Obama is a true pragmatist on foreign policy.  Even his past actions state this.  Whether it be his choices in Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea…the President has taken the exact same course as his predecessor has.

Now, this success has a direct linear relationship to harsh interrogation.  There is no way to separate the two.  Liberals could potentially argue that the intelligence could have been obtained elsewhere.  However, that is nonsensical, when the facts are what they are.

I will say this:  this may be an argument more about history than on politics.  If, as it now appears, the harsh interrogations were vital to the killing of OBL, then President Bush will at the very least be partially vindicated for his actions regarding interrogation policy and Guantanamo Bay, although many of us don’t believe he needs any vindication whatsoever.  What may be more interesting is if this vindication will further anger extreme liberals who have long argued that Bush is a war criminal, and that Obama has failed to keep his promises is this area.  It could potentially further anger an already unstable Left.

3.  Here comes the poll number bump!

If Obama gets less than a 15 point bump in the polls, I will be shocked.  This is a major event, and that is an understatement.  This was the elimination of a man that largely defined the world and succeeding events for the last decade.

But as usual, people let emotions get ahead of reality.  Numerous liberals are out stating that the GOP is done for 2012.

History shows us that is simply not the case.

George W. Bush saw his poll numbers increase by 8 points when Saddam Hussein was captured in a spider hole in December 2003.

Maybe a more apt comparison is George H.W. Bush.  After winning the first Gulf War, Bush’s poll numbers skyrocketed.  In March of 1991, his popularity peaked at 91%, and remained well over 50% for the rest of the year.  He then lost re-election to Bill Clinton…because of the economy.  Sound familiar?

This is a feather in Obama’s cap, to be sure.  But it is no more than that.

Here is the more painful reality for liberals:  victories are short lived in American politics.  People simply don’t have long term memories.  If this had happened in September 2012, that is a different story.  But occurring 18 months before the election, the assassination of Bin Laden is largely going to be an afterthought on election day.

Ultimately, political hacks on both sides will go to their corners on this issue.  Clearly, any honest evaluation of this event should lead us to believe that this is a huge plus for Mr. Obama.  For most Americans, this is what they will remember of his foreign policy.  But with the economy lagging, the budget deficit growing, and fights over spending, taxes, and entitlement reform coming in the next few weeks, Bin Laden likely will become what he should be:  a faint memory.  The actual effects on the Barack Obama 2012 re-election campaign is likely minimal at best.




The Path To Bin Laden

It has been a long hard slog, that came to fruition yesterday with the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, former President George W. Bush made it a key priority of the United States of America to kill or capture OBL.  He came closest in December 2001 it the mountains of Tora Bora, during the invasion of Afghanistan.  According to reports, because of lack of U.S. troops on the ground, NATO support, and too much dependence on Afghan allies, OBL along with close associates were able to sneak out of the area, and likely migrated to Pakistan.

That led to a multi-year largely futile effort to locate Bin Laden.  Although his realtime capabilities were basically eliminated, OBL remained an existential threat to the U.S..  Rumors swirled about his location, but generally people believed he was in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  That actually ultimately turned out to be false.  But sustained attacks against Al Qaeda basically eliminated OBL from the operational side of Al Qaeda, and for many, he was an afterthought as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq marched on.

The irony is that the biggest break may have come all the way back in 2004, though no one realized it at the time.

Some time after Sept. 11, detainees held by the U.S. told interrogators about a man believed to work as a courier for bin Laden, senior administration officials said. The man was described by detainees as a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and “one of the few Al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin laden.”  This man’s identity was discovered during one of the much criticized harsh interrogations that were ordered by President Bush.

Initially, intelligence officials only had the man’s nickname, but they discovered his real name four years ago.

Two years ago, intelligence officials began to identify areas of Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated, and the great security precautions the two men took aroused U.S. suspicions.

Last August, intelligence officials tracked the men to their residence in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a relatively wealthy town 35 miles north of Islamabad where many retired military officers live.  Officials were stunned by what they found.  The compound was built in 2005, at the cost of approximately $1 million.  It was by far the largest compound in the area, with 12-18 foot walls covered by barbed wire.  A secondary inner wall protected the central housing area.  This was a definition of a military fort less than a house.

On April 29, 2011, President Obama gave the order to go forward.  Navy SEAL teams moved in a helicopter raid.  Two helicopters began the mission, but on failed because of mechanical difficulties; that helicopter was purposefully destroyed by U.S. forces.  Pakistan was not notified beforehand of the operation.

The raid took 40 minutes in total, from beginning to end.  OBL, one of his sons, as well as two ‘couriers’ were killed.  One woman was also killed when she attempted to shield one of the combatants; rumors are that she attempted to save Bin Laden.  Two other women rumored to be wives of OBL and four other men, possibly other sons of Bin Laden, were captured.  Bin Laden was apparently shot in the head at mid range.

Osama Bin Laden’s body was taken for immediate DNA confirmation, which confirmed his identity.  On the morning of May 1st, his body was unceremoniously buried at sea.


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