Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Attacks in East Afghanistan up 40 percent, US says

While violence is declining in Iraq it is on the rise in Afghanistan. In fact, attacks on Americans are higher in Afghanistan than in Iraq despite there being far fewer of our troops in the former. The Taliban are taking advantage of our being held down in Iraq, and the chaos in Pakistan, to step up their attacks.

Insurgent attacks in eastern Afghanistan rose by 40 percent in the first five months of this year over the same period a year ago, the U.S. commander of NATO forces in the region said on Tuesday. While insisting NATO was making progress in establishing stability, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser said he was "nowhere near" being able to state those efforts had achieved irreversible momentum.

We can't win there if the people in Afghanistan don't support us:
Frustrated by ongoing violence and uneven development, Afghans have grown sharply more critical of U.S. efforts in their country — and in the beleaguered southwest, support for the Taliban, ousted from power six years ago, is on the rise.

Overall, 42 percent of Afghans rate U.S. efforts in Afghanistan positively, down steeply from 68 percent in 2005, and 57 percent last year. For the first time, this national ABC News/BBC/ARD survey finds that more than half of Afghans disapprove of U.S. efforts.

Is it any wonder given NATOs inability to help the miserably poor people of Afghanistan.
Aid agencies said that up to $10 billion (6.5 billion euros), or 40 percent, of promised aid to Afghanistan has not been delivered by the West. Germany and the EU, however, questioned the organizations' calculations.

Aid agencies said that up to $10 billion (6.5 billion euros), or 40 percent, of promised aid to Afghanistan has not been delivered by the West, and what does arrive bypasses the Afghan government.

Western countries have failed to carry through on their pledges of aid to Afghanistan, according to a report by the Agency Coordinating Body For Afghan Relief (ACBAR). The umbrella group of non-governmental organizations which work in Afghanistan said the international community had pledged $25 billion to Afghanistan since 2001, when the extremist Taliban government was toppled, but that up to $10 billion had not reached the country.

The US government -- the biggest international donor to Afghanistan -- "has one of the biggest shortfalls," providing only half of the $10.4 billion dollars of pledged money until 2008, the report said.

- Related Link:
NBC: U.S. Commanders In Afghanistan ‘Complained To Us’ That They Lack Resources Because Of Iraq

CBS: Israel Prodding U.S. To Attack Iran

The Israelis apparently need help in destroying Iran's nuclear weapons sites. Only the U.S. can guarantee success. It is clear that McCain is not going to be the next President therefore the Israelis want to attack now. Although Bush is a lapdog of the neocons he knows an attack on Iran would lead to his impeachment. And Congress will not give the President the authority to bomb Iran:

Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen leaves Tuesday night on an overseas trip that will take him to Israel, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin. The trip has been scheduled for some time but U.S. officials say it comes just as the Israelis are mounting a full court press to get the Bush administration to strike Iran's nuclear complex.

CBS consultant Michael Oren says Israel doesn't want to wait for a new administration.

"The Israelis have been assured by the Bush administration that the Bush administration will not allow Iran to nuclearize," Oren said. "Israelis are uncertain about what would be the policies of the next administration vis-à-vis Iran."

Israel's message is simple: If you don't, we will. Israel held a dress rehearsal for a strike earlier this month, but military analysts say Israel can not do it alone.

Two Polls Have Obama Beating McCain by 15 Points

We are going to see a Democratic landslide in November. Obama is ahead of McCain even among white voters.

Democrat Barack Obama has opened a 15-point lead in the presidential race, and most of the political trends -- voter enthusiasm, views of President George W. Bush, the Republicans, the economy and the direction of the country -- point to even greater trouble for rival John McCain.

[...]``The Obama voters are much more energized and motivated to come out to vote than the McCain voters; McCain is still struggling to win over some of his core groups,'' she says. ``The good news for Obama is also that he seems to be doing better on the issue that is uppermost in voters' minds, and that is the economy.''

[...]Voters give Obama a 3-to-2 advantage on handling the economy and prefer his health-care and tax plans. They also say they believe he is the candidate who cares most about average Americans and is most likely to change Washington and build respect for the U.S. abroad.

[...]Obama is unifying the traditional Democratic base after the divisive Democratic nomination battle with New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Women, who were Clinton's most loyal backers, now favor Obama by a 54-to-29 percent margin and Democrats give him more than 80 percent support. Obama also has a slight lead over McCain among male voters. White voters, who in the past have tended to favor Republicans, are split between the two candidates in the four-way race.

"The latest NEWSWEEK Poll shows the Democrat with a 15-point lead over McCain."
Overall, voters see Obama as the preferred agent of "change" by a margin of 51 percent to 27 percent. Younger voters, in particular, are more likely to see Obama that way: those 18 to 39 favor the Illinois senator by 66 percent to 27 percent. The two candidates are statistically tied among older voters.

Obama's current lead also reflects the large party-identification advantage the Democrats now enjoy—55 percent of all voters call themselves Democrats or say they lean toward the party while just 36 percent call themselves Republicans or lean that way. Even as McCain seeks to gain voters by distancing himself from the unpopular Bush and emphasizing his maverick image, he is suffering from the GOP's poor reputation among many voters.

Might the The Clintons Help or Hurt the Obama Campaign

Can Barack Obama trust the Clintons to campaign for him without trying to sabotage his chances of winning the White House. They certainly tried during the primaries. Then there is the fact that the track record for Bill and Hillary in getting other people elected is quite dismal. If Slick Willie couldn't help his own wife how could he be expected to help Obama. The former President is a reckless campaigner who is more interested in promoting himself than another candidate. Let's no forget it was Bill and Hillary who cost the Democrats control of Congress. They are directly to blame for the diaster which is George W. Bush. Al Gore lost in 2000 because he was running away from Bill Clinton's presidency:

Former President Clinton on Tuesday offered to help Barack Obama win the White House, although what work he'll do for his wife's former rival remained uncertain.

The Obama campaign is still smarting over some of Bill Clinton's criticism in the primary race, while the last Democratic president remains a popular political draw. But before the two can work together, they have to speak.

Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have taken steps to join efforts in the last three weeks — she met with him privately, endorsed his campaign and will campaign with him Friday. But the former Democratic president and the man running to be the next one haven't talked since the campaign ended.

There are rumors that the Clinton marriage is on the rocks:
Bill Clinton will not be attending the rally with his wife and Obama Friday in the symbolic town of Unity, N.H. McKenna said the former president is in Europe this week to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday, give speeches and work for the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Hillary Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee issued a statement after her husband's that didn't mention him. "Senator Clinton is very pleased with how quickly the party is coming together after the primaries, and she will continue to do everything she can to unite Democrats behind Senator Obama as our nominee," Elleithee said.

Consumer Confidence at Lowest Point in 16 Years

Is there any doubt that we are in a full fledged recession?

An industry group says U.S. consumer confidence fell unexpectedly sharply in June, sinking to the fifth-lowest level ever.

The report Tuesday also said the group’s reading of consumers’ expectations hit an all-time low.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 50.4 this month, down from 58.1 in May. The reading is far lower than economists expected; the consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR was 56.5.

A major factor in the economic crises has to be the bursting of the housing bubble.
U.S. home prices posted record declines in April, extending a painful losing streak for U.S. home prices.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index fell to a record low of 15.3% on a year-over-year basis, and was down 1.4% from March. The 10-city index was down 16.3% year-over-year and 1.6% for the month.

The 20-city index is based on data going back 19 years, while the 10-city index is 21 years old.

Rove: Obama is Snide Country Club Guy

The pot calling the kettle black.

ABC News' Christianne Klein reports that at a breakfast with Republican insiders at the Capitol Hill Club this morning, former White House senior aide Karl Rove referred to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as "coolly arrogant."

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

American Envoy Is Linked to China Arms Deal Cover-Up

It makes you wonder how much the White House knows about this. It is reminiscent of the Reagan administration's selling guns to the Iraninans. It is also an example of the mess increasingly going on in Afghanistan:

An American ambassador helped cover up the illegal Chinese origins of ammunition that a Pentagon contractor bought to supply Afghan security forces, according to testimony gathered by Congressional investigators.

A military attaché has told the investigators that the United States ambassador to Albania endorsed a plan by the Albanian defense minister to hide several boxes of Chinese ammunition from a visiting reporter. The ammunition was being repackaged to disguise its origins and shipped from Albania to Afghanistan by a Miami Beach arms-dealing company.

The ambassador, John L. Withers II, met with the defense minister, Fatmir Mediu, hours before a reporter for The New York Times was to visit the American contractor’s operations in Tirana, the Albanian capital, according to the testimony. The company, under an Army contract, bought the ammunition to supply Afghan security forces although American law prohibits trading in Chinese arms.

McCain Top Advisor Black Apologizes for Saying Terror Attack would be Beneficial

How is this comment not as bad as anything uttered by Rev.Wright. And why hasn't McCain fired Black for this remark. Sounds to me like wishful thinking from a campaign that doesn't have a chance of winning.

John McCain distanced himself Monday from a top adviser who said another terrorist attack on U.S. soil this election year would benefit the Republican presidential candidate. Barack Obama's campaign called the comment a "complete disgrace."

Charlie Black, an adviser already in the spotlight for his past lobbying work, is quoted in the upcoming July 7 edition of Fortune magazine as saying such an attack "certainly would be a big advantage to him." Black said Monday he regretted the comment.

Black is also quoted as saying the "unfortunate event" of the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto earlier this year "helped us."

Questioned about Black's comments during a news conference, McCain said, "I cannot imagine why he would say it; it's not true. I've worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent anther attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear."

[...]Black, interviewed by reporters as he stood outside McCain's fundraiser, said: "I deeply regret the comments. They were inappropriate. I recognize that John McCain has devoted his entire adult life to protecting his country and placing its security before every other consideration."

James Dobson: Obama has a "Fruitcake" Interpretation of the Constitution

This comment will have a backlash. A reporter somewhere should ask McCain whether he condones Dobson's words:

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family -- who has stayed unusually quiet in this election cycle likely due to his loathing of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. -- will tomorrow attack Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, on Tuesday for a speech the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee delivered in 2006 to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal.

The AP was given an advance copy of Dobson's 18-minute radio segment, which has already been taped, and will air Tuesday.

In it, Dobson hammers Obama's views of religion, and says the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is trying to govern by the "lowest common denominator of morality," and calls Obama's views "a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution."

But then again, Dobson doesn't like McCain either:
McCain also has not met with Dobson. A McCain campaign staffer offered Dobson a meeting with McCain recently in Denver, Minnery said. Dobson declined because he prefers that candidates visit the Focus on the Family campus to learn more about the organization, Minnery said.

Dobson has not backed off his statement that he could not in good conscience vote for McCain because of concerns over the Arizona senator's conservative credentials. Dobson has said he will vote in November but has suggested he might not vote for president.

Don Imus Makes Another Racist Remark

He shouldn't have been hired again to do radio. What amazes me is that there was so little opposition to getting a network job again. And why hasn't he been fired already:

Don Imus this morning, on his nationally syndicated WABC-AM morning talk show on Citadel Broadcasting Corporation, made some questionable comments when discussing suspended NFL defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones.

"Here's a guy suspended all of 2007 following shooting at a Vegas nightclub," said sportscaster Warner Wolf. "He's been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005."

"What color is he?" asked Imus.

"He's African-American," said Wolf.

"Well, there you go," said Imus. "Now we know."

- Listen to the audio of the remark by Imus