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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Getting Bin Laden

What happened that night in Abbottabad.

by Nicholas Schmidle

Shortly after eleven o’clock on the night of May 1st, two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters lifted off from Jalalabad Air Field, in eastern Afghanistan, and embarked on a covert mission into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Inside the aircraft were twenty-three Navy SEALs from Team Six, which is officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU. A Pakistani-American translator, whom I will call Ahmed, and a dog named Cairo—a Belgian Malinois—were also aboard. It was a moonless evening, and the helicopters’ pilots, wearing night-vision goggles, flew without lights over mountains that straddle the border with Pakistan. Radio communications were kept to a minimum, and an eerie calm settled inside the aircraft.

Fifteen minutes later, the helicopters ducked into an alpine valley and slipped, undetected, into Pakistani airspace. For more than sixty years, Pakistan’s military has maintained a state of high alert against its eastern neighbor, India. Because of this obsession, Pakistan’s “principal air defenses are all pointing east,” Shuja Nawaz, an expert on the Pakistani Army and the author of “Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within,” told me. Senior defense and Administration officials concur with this assessment, but a Pakistani senior military official, whom I reached at his office, in Rawalpindi, disagreed. “No one leaves their borders unattended,” he said. Though he declined to elaborate on the location or orientation of Pakistan’s radars—“It’s not where the radars are or aren’t”—he said that the American infiltration was the result of “technological gaps we have vis-à-vis the U.S.” The Black Hawks, each of which had two pilots and a crewman from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, or the Night Stalkers, had been modified to mask heat, noise, and movement; the copters’ exteriors had sharp, flat angles and were covered with radar-dampening “skin.”

The SEALs’ destination was a house in the small city of Abbottabad, which is about a hundred and twenty miles across the Pakistan border. Situated north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, Abbottabad is in the foothills of the Pir Panjal Range, and is popular in the summertime with families seeking relief from the blistering heat farther south. Founded in 1853 by a British major named James Abbott, the city became the home of a prestigious military academy after the creation of Pakistan, in 1947. According to information gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency, bin Laden was holed up on the third floor of a house in a one-acre compound just off Kakul Road in Bilal Town, a middle-class neighborhood less than a mile from the entrance to the academy. If all went according to plan, the SEALs would drop from the helicopters into the compound, overpower bin Laden’s guards, shoot and kill him at close range, and then take the corpse back to Afghanistan.

The helicopters traversed Mohmand, one of Pakistan’s seven tribal areas, skirted the north of Peshawar, and continued due east. The commander of DEVGRU’s Red Squadron, whom I will call James, sat on the floor, squeezed among ten other SEALs, Ahmed, and Cairo. (The names of all the covert operators mentioned in this story have been changed.) James, a broad-chested man in his late thirties, does not have the lithe swimmer’s frame that one might expect of a SEAL—he is built more like a discus thrower. That night, he wore a shirt and trousers in Desert Digital Camouflage, and carried a silenced Sig Sauer P226 pistol, along with extra ammunition; a CamelBak, for hydration; and gel shots, for endurance. He held a short-barrel, silenced M4 rifle. (Others SEALs had chosen the Heckler & Koch MP7.) A “blowout kit,” for treating field trauma, was tucked into the small of James’s back. Stuffed into one of his pockets was a laminated gridded map of the compound. In another pocket was a booklet with photographs and physical descriptions of the people suspected of being inside. He wore a noise-cancelling headset, which blocked out nearly everything besides his heartbeat.

During the ninety-minute helicopter flight, James and his teammates rehearsed the operation in their heads. Since the autumn of 2001, they had rotated through Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, at a brutal pace. At least three of the SEALs had participated in the sniper operation off the coast of Somalia, in April, 2009, that freed Richard Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama, and left three pirates dead. In October, 2010, a DEVGRU team attempted to rescue Linda Norgrove, a Scottish aid worker who had been kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan by the Taliban. During a raid of a Taliban hideout, a SEAL tossed a grenade at an insurgent, not realizing that Norgrove was nearby. She died from the blast. The mistake haunted the SEALs who had been involved; three of them were subsequently expelled from DEVGRU.

The Abbottabad raid was not DEVGRU’s maiden venture into Pakistan, either. The team had surreptitiously entered the country on ten to twelve previous occasions, according to a special-operations officer who is deeply familiar with the bin Laden raid. Most of those missions were forays into North and South Waziristan, where many military and intelligence analysts had thought that bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders were hiding. (Only one such operation—the September, 2008, raid of Angoor Ada, a village in South Waziristan—has been widely reported.) Abbottabad was, by far, the farthest that DEVGRU had ventured into Pakistani territory. It also represented the team’s first serious attempt since late 2001 at killing “Crankshaft”—the target name that the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, had given bin Laden. Since escaping that winter during a battle in the Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan, bin Laden had defied American efforts to trace him. Indeed, it remains unclear how he ended up living in Abbottabad.

'On the Path to Destruction'

For those unfamiliar with today's music, Amy Winehouse was a soul/r&b/jazz singer that could not kick her drug & alcohol addiction and it eventually killed her. She was found dead on July 23rd at the age of 27.

Ironically, one of her most famous songs was Rehab. This Ramirez cartoon is a takeoff on Winehouse and Rehab.

Obama is killing America with his spending addiction . - Reggie

click the image for larger view

And there is this from a story in The Telegraph...

Rand Paul: Why I Oppose the Debt Ceiling Compromise

Yesterday, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul posted an open letter detailing his opposition to the bill just passed by the US House and Senate. Even though the bill has passed both houses, I think Senator Paul's letter is worth reading because, unfortunately, he's right. - Reggie

Aug 1, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today Sen. Rand Paul issued an open letter on the subject of the debt ceiling compromise facing the Senate. Below is that letter.

To paraphrase Senator Jim DeMint: When you're speeding toward the edge of a cliff, you don't set the cruise control. You stop the car. The current deal to raise the debt ceiling doesn't stop us from going over the fiscal cliff. At best, it slows us from going over it at 80 mph to going over it at 60 mph.

This plan never balances. The President called for a "balanced approach." But the American people are calling for a balanced budget.

This deal does nothing to fix the overreaches of both parties over the past few years: Obamacare, TARP, trillion-dollar wars, runaway entitlement spending. They are all cemented into place with this deal, and their legacy will be trillions of dollars in new debt.

The deal that is pending before us now:
  • Adds at least $7 trillion to our debt over the next 10 years. The deal purports to "cut" $2.1 trillion, but the "cut" is from a baseline that adds $10 trillion to the debt. This deal, even if all targets are met and the Super Committee wields its mandate - results in a BEST case scenario of still adding more than $7 trillion more in debt over the next 10 years. That is sickening.
  • Never, ever balances.
  • The Super Committee's mandate is to add $7 trillion in new debt. Let's be clear: $2.1 trillion in reductions off a nearly $10 trillion,10-year debt is still more than $7 trillion in debt. The Super Committee limits the constitutional check of the filibuster by expediting passage of bills with a simple majority. The Super Committee is not precluded from any issue, therefore the filibuster could be rendered most. In addition, the plan harms the possible passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment. Since the goal is never to balance, having the BBA as a "trigger" ensures that the committee will simply report its $1.2 trillion deficit reduction plan and never move to a BBA vote.
  • It cuts too slowly. Even if you believe cutting $2.1 trillion out of $10 trillion is a good compromise, surely we can start cutting quickly, say $200 billion-$300 billion per year, right? Wrong. This plan so badly backloads the alleged savings that the cuts are simply meaningless. Why do we believe that the goal of $2.5 trillion over 10 years (that's an average of $250 billion per year) will EVER be met if the first two years cuts are $20 billion and $50 billion. There is simply no path in this bill even to the meager savings they are alleging will take place.

Buried in the details of this bill is the automatic debt limit increase proposed a few weeks ago. The second installment of the debt ceiling increase is initiated by the President automatically and can only be stopped by a two-thirds vote of Congress. This shifts the Constitutional check on borrowing from Congress to the President and makes it easier to raise the debt ceiling. Despite claims to the contrary, none of the triggers in this bill include withholding the second limit increase.

Credit rating agencies have clearly stated the type of so-called cuts envisioned in this plan will result in our AAA bond rating being downgraded. Ironically then, the only way to avoid our debt being downgraded and the resulting economic problems that stem from that is for this bill to fail.

This plan does not solve our problem. Not even close. I cannot abide the destruction of our economy, therefore I vigorously oppose this deal and I urge my colleagues and the American people to do the same.


Rand Paul, M.D.

United States Senator

American Tipping Point

By Jeffrey Lord
8.2.11 @ 6:08AM

Hush puppies and the Tea Party.

The Republican run House of Representatives passed a debt limit plan last night 269-161. With Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords returning from death's door to cast a yes vote. Good for her.

You always think of these things together, right?

No? Well, you should.

Hush puppies, for those coming in late, were once the casual shoe of choice in the late 1950s. By the 1990s they were pretty much vanished, disappeared to the fashion twilight zone along with tri-corner hats and powdered white wigs for men. They sold somewhere in the neighborhood of a pathetic 30,000 pairs a year, usually out of small family-run shoe stores in the small towns of off-the-beaten path America. The company that made them -- Wolverine -- was on the verge of giving up with the once iconic shoe from the Eisenhower-era that was, in 1950s beatnik lingo, "nowheresville" by the time of Bill and Hillary.

And then something peculiar happened. Something very much like what has been happening in the House of Representatives the last several days.

Out of the blue, hush puppies were becoming hip in the hippest clubs and bars of Clinton-era Manhattan. Impatient customers began scouting those small town shoe stores and scooping up the remaining supply. A prominent fashion designer was seen clad in them, another called Wolverine wanting to feature them in his spring collection. So did another. One L.A. fashionista mounted a 25-foot inflatable basset hound (the basset hound the Hush Puppy symbol) on the roof of his store, bought and gutted the building next door and turned it into a hush puppy boutique. One movie star of the day walked in personally to pick up a couple pairs of puppies. By 1995, sales had skyrocketed from the lonely 30,000 sales a year to almost half-a-million. The shoes were winning prizes as "best accessory" from fashion big wigs. And on and on it went.

If you've read author Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling classic of a few years back called The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, you will recognize this hush puppy story as Gladwell's. Along with other seemingly odd topics like Paul Revere's ride or the sudden drop in the crime rate of the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Gladwell posited the idea that:

…the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or, for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.

When three characteristics combine -- "contagiousness, the fact that little causes can have big effects… (and) that change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment" -- a "tipping point" occurs.

Hush puppy sales take off. Crime falls through the floor. A book sails on to best seller list. Or, as Gladwell also notes, a Boston silversmith's determination to spread the news of an impending British attack "mobilizes an entire region to arms" and an entire revolution is launched. And so on.

To which, this morning, it must be said after that 269-161 vote in the House last night: America has reached a new Tipping Point.

An epidemic of conservatism is sweeping America. And thanks to the Tea Party, yesterday disgracefully accused of terrorism by Vice President Biden (he the vice president in an administration terrified of calling real terrorists terrorists -- seriously!), the country will never be the same again.

Let's start with Gladwell's point of contagiousness, or, as he says in illustrating the point, the importance of understanding that epidemics are an "example of geometric progression."

Remembering that some 40 years separated the popularity peaks of the hush puppy, it should be noted that 78 years have separated the serious and seemingly permanent rise of Big Government from today. From Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to the presidency of Barack Obama is a long time. And Big Government -- the idea that, in the vernacular, "tax and spend" can just sail on endlessly -- seemed like an impregnable fortress of an idea.

High on Ozone: The EPA’s Latest Assault on Jobs and the Economy

The U.S. economy won a temporary reprieve with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement last week that new ozone standards, which had been slated for this summer, will be delayed. The EPA’s “reconsideration” of the ozone standards it set in 2008 and issuance of more stringent standards violate all three of the fundamental values EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson pledged to honor: “science-based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency.”[1]

This enormously expensive regulation is unsupported by scientific evidence, violates the Clean Air Act (CAA), and appears timed to evade ongoing judicial review of the rulemaking process. Even the EPA’s estimate that the new rule will impose up to $90 billion in compliance costs annually[2] severely understates the impact on economic development and jobs in communities where attainment of the new standards will be impossible. Congress should make the EPA’s temporary postponement of its new ozone standards a permanent one.


The CAA requires the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone, among other pollutants, at a level that is not “higher than is necessary…to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety.”[3] Areas that are not in attainment must reduce emissions from existing sources and impose stringent controls on new ones. Even areas in attainment must strictly regulate new sources to prevent any increase in emissions.

In 2008, as part of the regular NAAQS review process, the EPA revised the ozone standard to 0.075 parts per million (ppm), down from the 0.080 ppm level set by the Clinton EPA.

In 2009, just months after President Obama took office, the EPA announced that it would “reconsider” and revise the 2008 standard, circumventing the mandatory process for revisions specified in the CAA. On January 19, 2010, the agency proposed to set a primary standard in the range of 0.060 to 0.070 ppm and, in an unprecedented step, introduce a separate and additional secondary standard (intended to protect such things as vegetation) based on cumulative ozone concentrations in summer. The EPA’s case for the new NAAQS is based on its controversial re-analysis of the data from two small studies that even their author states does not support reduced standards. Indeed, Jackson concedes that the scientific support for both the 2008 standards and the current proposal is “limited.”[4]

Unprecedented Expense

Read the full article

Former GAO Head: US Less Than 3 Years Away From Being Greece

The Debt Deal and the Threat to America's National Security

Ambassador John Bolton
By Amb. John Bolton
Published August 01, 2011

Serious questions remain about the national security implications of the proposed deal to raise the federal debt ceiling. With members of Congress essentially being asked to vote immediately to avoid defaulting on the national debt, they are also entitled to immediate and compelling answers to the defense-related questions.

For fiscal year 2012 and 2013, cuts in defense spending remain uncertain, with reductions as much as three percent below last year’s level still possible. Depending on the outcome of further negotiations over the size and allocation of those reductions, these cuts alone may well be quite harmful. The best that can be said is that, for these fiscal years, the issue is still unresolved.

Over the longer term, the outlook is almost certainly much more disturbing. In the deal’s second stage, the yet-to-be-named Congressional Joint Commission will have wide discretion on what to agree on, but if no agreement or only partial agreement is reached, the deal’s sequestration mechanism will be triggered. Broadly speaking, if that happens, defense spending will bear fifty percent of the total cuts, with non-defense spending bearing the remaining fifty percent, up to the amount necessary to raise the debt ceiling by the minimum $ 2.4 trillion required by the deal. This approach risks grave damage to our national security.

There is no strategic rationale whatsoever for cuts of this magnitude. There is, in fact, every strategic rationale to the contrary. While the appropriations process may still be able to decide which specific programs will be cut, this is no consolation. Cuts of this size are effectively indiscriminate.

Defense spending is not just another wasteful government program. Subjecting it to potentially massive, debilitating cuts is rolling the dice in perilous times internationally. Adam Smith himself wrote in "The Wealth of Nations": “the first duty of the sovereign” [is] “protecting the society from the violence and invasion” of others.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Israel 'ready to negotiate borders with Palestinians'

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has bowed to US pressure by agreeing for the first time that a Palestinian state should roughly follow the contours of the 1967 ceasefire lines separating the West Bank from Israel.

The offer, which emerged tonight appeared to represent a major climb-down by Mr Netanyahu, who has consistently refused to discuss specific borders of a future state.

A government official in Jerusalem told The Daily Telegraph the offer was dependent on the Palestinians dropping their campaign for statehood at the United Nations next month and accepting Israel as a Jewish state.

The offer appears to cross Palestinian red lines, and it seemed likely to be rejected — although the onus is now likely to be placed on the Palestinians to present a counter offer.

House Passes $2.4 Trillion Debt Increase

08/02/2011 - UPDATE: Senate passes $2.4 trillion debt increase 74-26

Click here to see the House roll call vote on the spending spree

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)

'Drive Like a Nashvillian'

Time for another break from this depressing decline of America.

Years ago, I lived in Nashville, Tennessee and everyday at 5pm, Y107 (WYHY) would play this parody of Walk Like an Egyptian. If you have ever driven in Nashville, you know these lyrics are true! - Reggie

Bachmann: Debt Limit Deal Means ‘We Embrace Being Greece’

Whats up with Laura Ingraham? She practically went after Michele Bachmann earlier today. Is she one of the RINOs that is being flushed out, now? That's right, Laura - Boehner and McConnell did sell us down the river and Bachmann knows it. 

Man, oh man, the county is full of these useless establishment Republicans! 

Wake up, RINOs! This is not a good deal for America and we will live to regret this day. Thank you, Tea Party members for fighting the good fight. You are the only patriots in Washington. There were just too many RINOs that stabbed you and the rest of the nation in the back. - Reggie

Agenda 21 Update: Family Farms are Under Attack

Is the US government starting to implement the policies of the United Nation’s plan for global management of people and resources known as Agenda 21?  The latest efforts out of the Department of Transportation (DOT) seem to indicate this is happening. And they are starting by targeting America’s farming communities with costly and oppressive regulations.

In Late May, the DOT proposed a rule change for farm equipment, and if it this allowed to take effect, it will place significant regulatory pressure on small farms and family farms all across America – costing them thousands of dollars and possibly forcing many of them out of business. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), part of the Department of Transportation (DOT), wants new standards that would require all farmers and everyone on the farm to obtain a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) in order to operate any farming equipment. The agency is going to accomplish this by reclassifying all farm vehicles and implements as Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs).

(It is also important to note here that DOT Secretary Ray LaHood holds a seat on the newly created White House Rural Council. A powerful group whose members have ties to George Soros and The Center For American Progress.)

The move by the DOT appears to be “legislation through regulation.” By reclassifying all farm vehicles and implements as Commercial Vehicles, the federal government will now be able to claim regulatory control over the estimated 800,000 farm workers in America, at the same time, overriding the rights of the states.

This proposed change literally means family farms could no longer legally allow young workers, not old enough to drive and seniors who no longer drive on the public streets, to operate a tractor… even on the family’s private property.

Waco, TX television station KXXV has the story:

Read the full story here.

Marco Rubio Looks to America's Past to Help Decide America's Future

Last night after the debt deal was announced Senator Marco Rubio went to one of the most famous landmarks in Washington, D.C. searching for 'strength from our past.'

This guy is for real. He believes in America and our Republic Heritage.

I have never been to Washington, D.C. and have wanted to go for years so I could see the sites that Rubio shares with us in his pictures. They are spectacular and worth looking at. - Reggie

Click here to see Rubio's picture of Abraham Lincoln statue

Click here to see Rubio's picture of the Washington Monument

Click here to see Rubio's picture of the Lincoln Memorial