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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Don't give up on our troops and the surge

It was with good reason that the Founding Fathers determined that once Congress declared war or authorized the President to conduct military operations, it is the Executive branch that prosecutes the war (with the President as Commander in Chief) and conducts foreign policy. Can you imagine if the Congress had some executive role? With the likes of Murtha, Pelosi, Dodd and the hideous Senate Majority Leader Reid in charge, how could we ever expect to have any credibility in the world? Frankly, it doesn't help that Republicans Hegel and Warner (both retiring) have gone wobbly, and that the Bush people emphasize the withdrawal timetable (without committing to it) to appease the left (it won't). Better to emphasize the major point of General Petraeus's report (as WSJ and redwavemusings readers have been reading for weeks or more) that the surge has been working, that it should not be unwound on any timetable but rather based on its success level, and that even the Sunni insurgents have now joined us in fighting al Queda, whom they now recognize to be the worst of evils. If Congress was responsible, they would simply be supportive - that's the way to support the troops. They are undermining them now, and I would not hesitate to use the "T" word to characterize certain members and their supporters such as Moveon. Sorry, that's pretty blunt, but the truth hurts.

If we turn Iraq into another Vietnam, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the USA might as well turn into another France, and just cower in an isolationist corner from now on. We will have no compelling role in what Norman Podhoretz in his brilliant WSJ op ed piece today called World War IV (the Cold War being number III). This is not about whether you love or hate the President, it's not even about whether the move into Iraq was correct strategy or not in the anti-terrorist war, it's about the fact that our men are there now, they have drawn al Queda to the battleground in large numbers, and the opportunity is there to deal the Islamo-fascists a great defeat. Turning tail, as the D's would have us do, just doesn't make sense now that the battle has turned our way.

Of course, one of the disconnects here has been that shortly after the shock of 9/11/2001 wore off, and seeing how that issue made the President more popular, the D's determined there was no real war against terror after all. They decided terrorists should be prosecuted as if they had disturbed the peace or committed some routine felony that our courts should dispose of, after giving them all the rights of U.S. citizens. One can only hope they watched the reruns today of that horrible day and rethought those positions, but of course, that's impossible, it's all about power and winning back the White House.

The two senators who had it right from the beginning were McCain and Lieberman (now an outcast in his own party) and they still have it right. They knew Iraq was the right move, but correctly questioned and criticized the Bush administration concerning the size of the troop commitment. Here are excerpts from the recent op ed they wrote in my favorite newspaper. Regarding the report by General Petraeus, they wrote "We hope that opponents of the war in Congress will listen carefully to the evidence that the U.S. military is at last making real and significant progress in its offensive against al Queda in Iraq.

"As facts on the ground in Iraq have improved, some critics of the war have changed their stance. Congressman Baird, who voted against the invasion, wrote after returning from Baghdad: 'The people, strategies, and facts on the ground...justify changing our position on what should be done."

" while critics are right that improved security has not translated into sufficient political progress at the national level, the increased presence of our soldiers is having a seismic effect at the local level. Thanks to the changed security calculus, the Sunni Arab community - which was largely synonymous with the insurgency a year ago - has been turning against al Queda from the bottom up, and beginning to negotiate an accommodation with the emerging political order. Sustaining this political shift depends on staying (on) the offensive against al Queda - which in turn depends on not stripping Gen. Petraeus of the manpower he and his commanders say they need.

"The Bush administration clung for too long to a flawed strategy in this war, despite growing evidence of its failure. Now advocates of withdrawal risk making the exact same mistake by refusing to re-examine their own conviction that Gen. Petraeus's strategy cannot succeed and that the war is "lost," despite rising evidence to the contrary. The Bush administration finally had the courage to change course this year. After hearing from Gen. Petraeus today, we hope congressional opponents of the war will do the same."

It only took one week of the regular season to remind me why I am not much of a football fan. Both the Jets and Giants looked awful, and they are both banged up with key injuries after only one game. And I am already bored.

On September 5, I bought 100 shares of Avistar (AVSR) at 1.20 and the next day, bought another 1600 shares for 1.31. Obviously this was a "0 buy" and a bungled execution, thanks to starting off with a limit order (wouldn't you think I would know better?) so an explanation is in order. The idea was that when buying 1700 shares, a few cents difference in price would matter, but naturally, hardly anything executed Wednesday at the limit price. So after the order expired (and another commission became inevitable), I put the rest in at market and got the high price I deserved. Just to make the experience perfect, the stock traded as low as 1.15 today. I guess I should be forced to write on the blackboard 100 times, "I will use market orders." Yesterday, I bought 100 shares of Manpower (MAN) at the depressed price of 63.96. This price is discounting the possibility of recession and its impact on employment, even temps. I am not sure we are going into recession (though I acknowledge the possibility) and even if we do, it's questionable that Manpower's business will really be hurt as much as people think.

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