Tuesday, September 8, 2009

4 U.S. Marines die in Afghan Ambush

Nothing good can come from this war at this point. Time to start getting out. This story is reminiscent of Vietnam. It's a quagmire. If we're pulling out from Iraq then we should also do so from Afghanistan. President Obama has a different agenda. He, like Kennedy, don't want to be seen as soft on communism Jihadism.

We walked into a trap, a killing zone of relentless gunfire and rocket barrages from Afghan insurgents hidden in the mountainsides and in a fortress-like village where women and children were replenishing their ammunition.

"We will do to you what we did to the Russians," the insurgent's leader boasted over the radio, referring to the failure of Soviet troops to capture Ganjgal during the 1979-89 Soviet occupation.

Dashing from boulder to boulder, diving into trenches and ducking behind stone walls as the insurgents maneuvered to outflank us, we waited more than an hour for U.S. helicopters to arrive, despite earlier assurances that air cover would be five minutes away.

U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines — despite being told repeatedly that they weren't near the village.

"We are pinned down. We are running low on ammo. We have no air. We've lost today," Marine Maj. Kevin Williams , 37, said through his translator to his Afghan counterpart, responding to the latter's repeated demands for helicopters.

Four U.S. Marines were killed Tuesday, the most U.S. service members assigned as trainers to the Afghan National Army to be lost in a single incident since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Eight Afghan troops and police and the Marine commander's Afghan interpreter also died in the ambush and the subsequent battle that raged from dawn until 2 p.m. around this remote hamlet in eastern Kunar province, close to the Pakistan border.

Three Americans and 19 Afghans were wounded, and U.S. forces later recovered the bodies of two insurgents, although they believe more were killed.

The Marines were cut down as they sought cover in a trench at the base of the village's first layer cake-style stone house. Much of their ammunition was gone. One Marine was bending over a second, tending his wounds, when both were killed, said Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer , 21, of Greensburg, Ky. , who retrieved their bodies.

Colleges Are Failing in Graduation Rates

More proof of a crumbling society:

"If you were going to come up with a list of organizations whose failures had done the most damage to the American economy in recent years, you’d probably have to start with the Wall Street firms and regulatory agencies that brought us the financial crisis. From there, you might move on to Wall Street’s fellow bailout recipients in Detroit, the once-Big Three.

But I would suggest that the list should also include a less obvious nominee: public universities.

At its top levels, the American system of higher education may be the best in the world. Yet in terms of its core mission — turning teenagers into educated college graduates — much of the system is simply failing."

It should be no surprise that if our schools are crumbling then so is our infrastructure:
Failing infrastructure is not just an L.A. problem. Further north, workers scrambled to reopen the 73-year old Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland after finding a crack in a steel beam. The bridge was severely damaged and refurbished after the 1989 earthquake.

But it's not just earthquake-prone California that's falling apart. And it's not just bridges and water mains, but also airports, dams, roadways, sewers and more.

In their annual report card, the nation's civil engineers give the whole country poor grades for infrastructure.

Laura Bush: "Everyone" Should Respect the President

Laura Bush appeared on Larry King today and seemed to understand what her fellow Republicans (I'm assuming she is) don't. The office of President of the United States should be treated with some respect. Republicans do not seem to have any right now.

Laura: Well, that's they're right, you know that certainly is the right of parents to choose what they want their children to hear in school, but I think really what people were unhappy about were the guidelines that went out with the... before the.. speech went out with the, um, and I think those have been changed and I think its also really important for everyone to respect the President of the United States.

Zain: Do you think that it is fair that Obama is criticized as a socialist?

Laura: I'd have no idea whether it is fair, do you think I thought it was fair when President Bush was criticized? Not really. So I guess not.

Zain: President Bush was criticized, he was called by many in the left a fascist. What kind of advice would you give to President Obama in how to handle the situation...

Laura: Well I wouldn't give him any advice you know, I don't think I need to give him any advice, but I think I think it's just what happens and people know it in our country is the cause of our very really safe Congressional districts everywhere in our country, we're polarized in the sense that a lot of people are on the right, a lot of people are on the left and we've seen that for the last eight years certainly and we're still seeing it and that's just a fact and I think it is important for everybody who is elected -- Republicans, Democrats and independents to really be bipartisan and to come together and its difficult.

These are really admirable words. Why aren't other Republicans saying the same thing? Why aren't there more voices calling for greater civility? Where is the leadership? Why does everything coming from the GOP have to be a conspiracy theory? Why do Republicans sound like the Southern Democrats during the civil rights movement? And where are voices saying that this continued Obama bashing could lead to his assassination, as it did with Kennedy?

The Republicans are so busy attacking that when they stop and decide to make proposals the GOP is clueless.
A source close to Republican Sen. Charles Grassley tells CNN he intends to offer counter proposals to Sen. Max Baucus tomorrow morning, as the Senate Finance Committee chair requested.

What changes he will offer is still unclear. He and his aides will work on it tonight.

Sounds like something Grassley should be telling his constituents:
Michael Vick, speaking to a group of Philadelphia high school students Tuesday, warned against the dangers of peer pressure and offered himself as a cautionary tale of what can happen when someone is a follower instead of a leader.

Obama Talks to Students at Wakefield High School (9-8-09)

Read the complete transcript of Obama's words to the Virginia High schoolers:

OBAMA: So that’s the main message that I want to send is take advantage of the opportunity. If -- if you are hungry for learning, you will find teachers that want to help you, you will -- you know, your parents will be there for you, the community will be there, you will be able to finance college, you will be able to get a good job, you will be able to have a successful career. But you’ve got to want it. And that’s the main message that we want to send.

So, with that, we’ve got about 20 minutes just to go back and forth. And I know, like I said, it’s a little intimidating having these folks around. But it’s not every day that you get a chance to talk to the president, so.


I’m not going to call on anybody. Just whoever has a question or a comment, a suggestion, an idea about what you think would make school better, things that you think make it tough for some kids, even if it’s not you, but things that you’ve heard, that you think we should know. Questions about Bo, my dog, that’s OK, too.


You know, whatever -- whatever comes to mind.

So who wants to start off? I know -- there you go (inaudible). We’ve got a mike so everybody can hear you.

Introduce yourself.

QUESTION: How has your life changed?

OBAMA: What’s your name?


OBAMA: Jimmy.

How’s my life changed?


OBAMA: Well, you know, when you -- when you announce that you’re running for president -- first of all, I was a U.S. senator before I was a president, so people already sort of knew me, but just in Illinois, in my home state, in Chicago. And when you announce that you’re running for president, suddenly a lot more people know you. And then, slowly, you get Secret Service. And then, when you win the nomination, you get more Secret Service.

OBAMA: And then, when you become president, then everything just shuts down.

And so, you know, one of the biggest changes in my life is that I can’t just do things normally like I used to be able to do them. And that’s hard sometimes.

I mean, you know, I can’t just get in my car, go to the store, pick up, you know, some whatever it is that I feel like picking up.


I can’t go take a walk without shutting down a whole bunch of roads and really inconveniencing a lot of people.

And so, in terms of my own personal life, I think the biggest change is that I’m inside what’s called the bubble, you know. I can’t just do things on the spur of the moment.

And that’s actually the toughest thing about being president. Because, you know, you want to just be able to interact with people normally, right?

And these days, either people are waving and really happy to see me or they’re booing me, saying, you know...


But -- but nobody just, kind of, interacts with you in a -- in a normal way.

The good thing about being president is I’ve got this really nice home office called the Oval Office.