McChrystal’s real offense

By: Byron York

There is a lot of uproar about Gen. Stanley’s McChrystal’s disrespectful comments about his civilian bosses in the Obama administration, and President Obama would be entirely justified in firing McChrystal for statements McChrystal and his subordinates made to Rolling Stone. Obama is a deeply flawed commander-in-chief who doesn’t want to be fighting a war on terror, but he is the commander-in-chief. He should have a general who will carry out his policies without public complaint until the voters can decide to change those policies.

But the bigger problem with McChrystal’s leadership has always been the general’s devotion to unreasonably restrictive rules of engagement that are resulting in the unnecessary deaths of American and coalition forces. We have had many, many accounts of the rules endangering Americans, and the Rolling Stone article provides more evidence. In the story, a soldier at Combat Outpost JFM who had earlier met with McChrystal was killed in a house that American officers had asked permission to destroy. From the article:

The night before the general is scheduled to visit Sgt. Arroyo’s platoon for the memorial, I arrive at Combat Outpost JFM to speak with the soldiers he had gone on patrol with. JFM is a small encampment, ringed by high blast walls and guard towers. Almost all of the soldiers here have been on repeated combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and have seen some of the worst fighting of both wars. But they are especially angered by Ingram’s death. His commanders had repeatedly requested permission to tear down the house where Ingram was killed, noting that it was often used as a combat position by the Taliban. But due to McChrystal’s new restrictions to avoid upsetting civilians, the request had been denied. “These were abandoned houses,” fumes Staff Sgt. Kennith Hicks. “Nobody was coming back to live in them.”

One soldier shows me the list of new regulations the platoon was given. “Patrol only in areas that you are reasonably certain that you will not have to defend yourselves with lethal force,” the laminated card reads. For a soldier who has traveled halfway around the world to fight, that’s like telling a cop he should only patrol in areas where he knows he won’t have to make arrests. “Does that make any f–king sense?” Pfc. Jared Pautsch. “We should just drop a f–king bomb on this place. You sit and ask yourself: What are we doing here?”

Federal Judge Blocks Obama’s Offshore Drilling Moratorium in Gulf of Mexico/Will Obama Summon Him to the White House?

A federal judge in New Orleans on Tuesday blocked a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects imposed in response to the massive Gulf oil spill.

The White House promised an immediate appeal. President Obama’s administration had halted approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling of 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama believes strongly that drilling at such depths does not make any sense and puts the safety of workers “at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford.”

Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium, arguing it was arbitrarily imposed.

Feldman agreed, saying in his ruling the Interior Department seemed to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.

“An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths of over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country,” Feldman wrote.

The moratorium was imposed after the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 workers and blew out the well that has spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf.

The Interior Department said it needed time to study the risks of deepwater drilling. But the lawsuit filed by Hornbeck Offshore Services of Covington, La., claimed there was no proof the other operations posed a threat.

Company CEO Todd Hornbeck said after the ruling that he is looking forward to getting back to work.

“It’s the right thing for not only the industry but the country,” he said.

The moratorium was declared May 6 and originally was to last only through the month. Obama announced May 27 that he was extending it for six months.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal and corporate leaders have said the moratorium will force drilling rigs leaving the Gulf of Mexico for lucrative business in foreign waters.

They say the loss of business will cost the area thousands of lucrative jobs, most paying more than $50,000 a year. The state’s other major economic sector, tourism, is a largely low-wage industry.

In its response to the lawsuit, the Interior Department said the moratorium is necessary as attempts to stop the leak and clean the Gulf continue and new safety standards are developed.

“A second deepwater blowout could overwhelm the efforts to respond to the current disaster,” the Interior Department said.

The government also challenged contentions the moratorium will lead to long-term economic harm. Although 33 deepwater drilling sites were affected, there are still 3,600 oil and natural gas production platforms in the Gulf.

Catherine Wannamaker, a lawyer for environmental groups that intervened in the case and supported the moratorium, called the ruling “a step in the wrong direction.”

“We think it overlooks the ongoing harm in the Gulf, the devastation it has had on people’s lives,” she said. “The harm at issue with the Deepwater Horizon spill is bigger than just the Louisiana economy. It affects all of the Gulf.”

Mexican Gangs Maintain Permanent Lookout Bases in Hills of Arizona

By Adam Housley

Mexican drug cartels have set up shop on American soil, maintaining lookout bases in strategic locations in the hills of southern Arizona from which their scouts can monitor every move made by law enforcement officials, federal agents tell Fox News.

The scouts are supplied by drivers who bring them food, water, batteries for radios — all the items they need to stay in the wilderness for a long time

“To say that this area is out of control is an understatement,” said an agent who patrols the area and asked not to be named. “We (federal border agents), as well as the Pima County Sheriff Office and the Bureau of Land Management, can attest to that.”

Much of the drug traffic originates in the Menagers Dam area, the Vekol Valley, Stanfield and around the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation. It even follows a natural gas pipeline that runs from Mexico into Arizona.

In these areas, which are south and west of Tucson, sources said there are “cartel scouts galore” watching the movements of federal, state and local law enforcement, from the border all the way up to Interstate 8.

“Every night we’re getting beaten like a pinata at a birthday party by drug, alien smugglers,” a second federal agent told Fox News by e-mail. “The danger is out there, with all the weapons being found coming northbound…. someone needs to know about this!”

The agents blame part of their plight on new policies from Washington, claiming it has put a majority of the U.S. agents on the border itself. One agent compared it to a short-yardage defense in football, explaining that once the smugglers and drug-runners break through the front line, they’re home free.

“We are unable to work any traffic, because they have us forward deployed,” the agent said. “We are unable to work the traffic coming out of the mountains. That traffic usually carries weapons and dope, too, again always using stolen vehicles.”

The Department of Homeland Security denies it has ordered any major change in operations or any sort of change in forward deployment.

“The Department of Homeland Security has dedicated unprecedented manpower, technology and infrastructure resources to the Southwest border over the course of the past 16 months,” DHS spokesman Matt Chandler said. “Deployment of CBP/Border Patrol and ICE personnel to various locations throughout the Southwest border is based on actionable intelligence and operational need, not which elected official can yell the loudest.”

While agents in the area agree that southwest Arizona has been a trouble spot for more than a decade, many believe Washington and politicians “who come here for one-day visit” aren’t seeing the big picture.

They say the area has never been controlled and has suddenly gotten worse, with the cartels maintaining a strong presence on U.S. soil. More than ever, agents on the front lines are wearing tactical gear, including helmets, to protect themselves.

“More than 4,000 of these agents are deployed in Arizona,” Chandler says. “The strategy to secure our nation’s borders is based on a ‘defense in depth’ philosophy, including the use of interior checkpoints, like the one on FR 85 outside Ajo, to interdict threats attempting to move from the border into the interior of our nation.”

Without placing direct fault on anyone, multiple agents told Fox that the situation is more dangerous for them than ever now that the cartels have such a strong position on the American side of the border.

They say morale is down among many who patrol the desolate area, and they worry that the situation won’t change until an agent gets killed.

Government launching plan to halt homelessness, promising new approaches and coordination……laughable and scary

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is launching a sweeping plan to try to end homelessness over time, promising smarter coordination among the many agencies that try to help people find stable housing and economic
security.

The plan suggests a big shift is needed so that programs targeted to solve homelessness are integrated with health, education and human services efforts.

The goals are ambitious. This effort calls for the end of chronic homelessness — the problem of people cycling through shelters and hospitals — in five years. It seeks to end homelessness among veterans in five years.

And it calls for preventing and ending homelessness among families and children in 10 years.

Cabinet secretaries and other leaders will announce the plan Tuesday at the White House.

Lies, damned lies and immigration

FBI data show that crime is up in the border regions of Arizona. Shown here are suspected illegal immigrants and human smugglers arrested earlier this year. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

Fourth-generation Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was found murdered March 27, slumped over his all-terrain vehicle, a murder victim. Authorities traced the suspected killer’s footsteps to the Mexican border 15 miles from Krentz’s ranch. The killing shocked Arizonans, many of whom were already fed up with problems created by illegal immigration. Less than a month later, state lawmakers passed and Gov. Jan Brewer signed a new immigration enforcement statute. The law takes significant steps toward doing in Arizona what the federal government hasn’t done, which is enforce current federal laws against the flood of illegal immigrants coming into this country from Mexico. Arizona has since become the target of boycotts, and, as we recently learned from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview with Ecuadorean television, will soon become the defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by President Obama. The Obama suit will charge that Arizona’s statute is unconstitutional because it usurps federal immigration enforcement laws.

Meanwhile, critics insist that Arizona’s law is unneeded and reactionary, as seen in a recent New York Times article, “On Border Violence, Truth Pales Compared to Ideas.” The Times reported that FBI crime statistics showed crime declined in Arizona between 2000 and 2008 and inferred from that data that there is no connection between increased illegal immigration and crime. “Krentz’s death nevertheless churned the emotionally charged immigration debate points to a fundamental truth: Perception often trumps reality, sometimes affecting laws and society in the process,” wrote Times reporter Randal C. Archibold.

Indeed, perception often trumps reality, especially when statistics are involved. FBI figures do show crime declining over an eight-year period in Arizona, as it did across the country overall. But blogger Tom Maguire at Just One Minute took a closer look at the stats. Crime in Arizona was down 20 percent in the larger cities, but it was up outside of the major metropolitan areas and in rural counties, 39 percent and 45 percent, respectively. Clearly, FBI data demonstrates that crime is up significantly in the border regions of Arizona.

As any good statistician will tell you, correlation doesn’t equal causation. But surely we can agree that those in the Arizona statehouse have a better vantage point to assess the causes of the problems in their own backyard than newspaper offices in midtown Manhattan or Pennsylvania Avenue. Much of the immigration debate concerns issues that are subject to legitimate disagreement, but the concrete link between that illegal immigration and rising crime isn’t one of them

Nebraska city says bans illegal immigration

FREMONT, Neb. – This small Nebraska meatpacking town has joined Arizona at the center of a national debate about illegal immigration after voters approved a ban on hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants, but an expected court challenge could keep the measure from ever taking effect.

The American Civil Liberties Union already has promised to file a lawsuit to block enforcement of the proposal roughly 57 percent of Fremont voters supported Monday.

“In a community of 25,000, it’s going to be hard to take on the whole country, and it will be costly to do so,” said Fremont City Councilman Scott Getzschman, who opposed the measure but said city leaders would support the results.

Fremont’s vote is the latest chapter in the tumult over illegal immigration across the country, including a recently passed Arizona law that will require police investigating another incident or crime to ask people about their immigration status if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” they are in the country illegally.

The Fremont measure will require would-be renters to apply for a license from the city. Officials must refuse to issue a license to applicants found to be in the country illegally. The ordinance also requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify database to ensure employees are allowed to work.

The city, which is about 35 miles northwest of Omaha, has watched as its Hispanic population surged in the past two decades, largely due to the jobs available at the nearby Fremont Beef and Hormel meatpacking plants.

Supporters argued the measure is needed to make up for what they see as lax federal law enforcement. Opponents said it could fuel discrimination.

Linda Nafziger said she voted for the ordinance because she doesn’t think the community should be supporting illegal immigrants. But she acknowledged the measure won’t end illegal immigration.

“They’ll just move somewhere else and be somebody else’s problem,” she said.

Trevor McClurg said the measure is fair because it’s aimed at people who aren’t legally in the U.S.

“I don’t think it’s right to be able to rent to them or hire them,” McClurg said. “They shouldn’t be here in the first place.”

Some residents worry that jobs are going to illegal immigrants who they fear could drain community resources.

Kristin Ostrom, who helped organize opposition to the measure, said she was never convinced of that. Fremont’s unemployment rate matches the Nebraska rate of 4.9 percent, and both remain well below the national rate of 9.7 percent.

“It’s unfortunate that the majority of voters didn’t understand that we really don’t have an illegal immigration problem in Fremont,” she said.

The Hispanic population in Fremont, including both legal and illegal residents, surged from about 165 in 1990 to 1,085 in 2000, according to census expert David Drozd at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He said an estimated 2,060 Hispanics lived there last year.

Communities that have passed similar laws have struggled to enforce them because of legal challenges. Hazleton, Pa., passed an ordinance in 2006 to fine landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny permits to businesses hiring them. The Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch also has tried for years to enforce a ban on landlords renting to illegal immigrants. Federal judges struck down both ordinances, but both are on appeal.

The ACLU of Nebraska promised to sue over the Fremont measure even before Monday’s vote.

“Not only do local ordinances such as this violate federal law, they are also completely out of step with American values of fairness and equality,” said Laurel Marsh, executive director of ACLU Nebraska.

Kansas City, Mo.-based attorney Kris Kobach, who helped write the Arizona law, worked on the ordinance in Fremont and has said he thinks it could withstand a court challenge. He is also running for secretary of state in Kansas.

Is U.S. Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny?

By THOMAS SOWELL

When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler’s rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

“Useful idiots” was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.

In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

The president’s poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.

Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.

And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP’s oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated.

But our government is supposed to be “a government of laws and not of men.”

If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion — or $50 billion or $100 billion — then so be it.

But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without “due process of law.”

Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.

With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don’t believe in constitutional government.

And, without constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a “crisis” — which, as the president’s chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to “go to waste” as an opportunity to expand the government’s power.

That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country’s wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard’s restrictions on the printing of money.

At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law “for the relief of the German people.”

That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP’s money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed “czars” controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.

Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power — vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom — are the “useful idiots” of our time. But useful to whom?

THE GOVERNMENT CANNOT FIX OUR ECONOMY

I mean, that is a pretty simple statement .. the government cannot fix our economy. It can’t. Because as of right now, the idea of “economic stimulus,” according to the government, is adding more employees to the government dole. But who ultimately pays for those government employees? The taxpayers. Eventually, the taxpayers will not be able to foot the bill for all of these employees. So there are two options. First, you fire some employees. Yeah, right. Like that will ever happen. The second option is that you create more jobs. Eventually the only way this will be able to happen is by the government essentially taking over more and more of the private sector. It has to find more things for people to do.

OK .. so what got me onto that? I read an article in Investors Business Daily which reminded me of this scary little fact: The U.S. will need to add about 8 million jobs just to get back to the December 2007 peak, when the recession started. With people rolling off the census jobs, employers would need to average nearly 300,000 new jobs a month for the next 27 months just to get to the pre-recession peak by the end of 2012. If that doesn’t happen .. and it won’t so long as we have these bozos in Washington running the show .. the current downturn in the economy could be the longest since World War II. Yet we keep hearing all of these reports of more stimulus bills and more money that the Community Organizer wants to direct to government jobs and government unions. Perhaps he needs to read this little study on how government spending will kill, not save, our recovery.

Unlikely. After all, I am getting the sneaking suspicion that recovery isn’t really Barack Obama’s goal. While I would like to assume that he truly has our nation’s best interest at heart, the cynical side of me is starting to believe that government power and pleasing government unions may mean more to Obama and the Democrats than actually turning this economy around.

McChrystal Apologizes for Remarks in Profile, Summoned to White House

May 10: General Stanley McChrystal speaks during a press briefing with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, left, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry at the White House

The top U.S. war commander in Afghanistan is being called to the White House for a face-to-face meeting with President Obama after issuing an apology Tuesday for an interview in which he described the president as unprepared for their first meeting.

In the article in this week’s issue of Rolling Stone, Gen. Stanley McChrystal also said he felt betrayed and blind-sided by his diplomatic partner, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.

McChrystal’s comments are reverberating through Washington and the Pentagon after the magazine depicted him as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration.

It characterized him as unable to convince some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the nation’s longest-running war and dejected that the president didn’t know about his commendable military record.

In Kabul on Tuesday, McChrystal issued a statement saying: “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.”

McChrystal has been called to the White House Situation Room on Wednesday to explain his comments to the magazine directly to the president, a senior administration official told Fox News. Normally, he would appear on a conference call for a regular strategy session.

McChrystal also called Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen late Monday to apologize. Mullen told the general he was deeply disappointed, according to a senior military official at the Pentagon.

The article says that although McChrystal voted for Obama, the two failed to connect from the start. Obama called McChrystal on the carpet last fall for speaking too bluntly about his desire for more troops.

“I found that time painful,” McChrystal said in the article, on newsstands Friday. “I was selling an unsellable position.”

It quoted an adviser to McChrystal dismissing the early meeting with Obama as a “10-minute photo op.”

“Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. The boss was pretty disappointed,” the adviser told the magazine.

Obama agreed to dispatch an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan only after months of study that many in the military found frustrating. The White House’s troop commitment was coupled with a pledge to begin bringing them home in July 2011, in what counterinsurgency strategists advising McChrystal regarded as an arbitrary deadline.

McChrystal said Tuesday, “I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome.”

The profile, titled “The Runaway General,” emerged from several weeks of interviews and travel with McChrystal’s tight circle of aides this spring.

It includes a list of administration figures said to back McChrystal, including Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and puts Vice President Joe Biden at the top of a list of those who don’t.

The article claims McChrystal has seized control of the war “by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.”

Asked by the Rolling Stone reporter about what he now feels of the war strategy advocated by Biden last fall – fewer troops, more drone attacks – McChrystal and his aides reportedly attempted to come up with a good one-liner to dismiss the question. “Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal reportedly joked. “Who’s that?”

Biden initially opposed McChrystal’s proposal for additional forces last year. He favored a narrower focus on hunting terrorists.

“Biden?” one aide was quoted as saying. “Did you say: Bite me?”

Another aide reportedly called White House National Security Adviser Jim Jones, a retired four star general, a “clown” who was “stuck in 1985.”

Some of the strongest criticism, however, was reserved for Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The boss says he’s like a wounded animal,” one of the general’s aides was quoted as saying. “Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he’s going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous.”

If Eikenberry had doubts about the troop buildup, McChrystal said he never expressed them until a leaked internal document threw a wild card into the debate over whether to add more troops last November. In the document, Eikenberry said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was not a reliable partner for the counterinsurgency strategy McChrystal was hired to execute.

McChrystal said he felt “betrayed” and accused the ambassador of giving himself cover.

“Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books,” McChrystal told the magazine. “Now, if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so.”‘

There was no immediate response from Eikenberry. The Associated Press requested comment through an aide after business hours Monday in Kabul.

Eikenberry remains in his post in Kabul, and although both men publicly say they are friends, their rift is on full display.

McChrystal and Eikenberry, himself a retired Army general, stood as far apart as the speakers’ platform would allow during a White House news conference last month.

Fox News’ Justin Fishel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.