Friday, September 5, 2008

Update on Bob Novak

Some readers may be familiar with columnist and pundit Bob Novak, but whether you are or not you'll find his recent column interesting. Novak discovered after a minor traffic accident last July that he had a life-threatening brain tumor, in fact he was told he had only a few months left to live. He resigned from his career as a syndicated columnist, but has reemerged with this column that tells the story of his disease and the outpouring of graciousness from people he never guessed would be kind to him. It's a lovely account and reflects well on a lot of people in Washington and not so well on a few others.

You can read it here.


Keep Digging

It would be worth a couple of hearty guffaws were it not so disheartening. Some in the media, specifically CBS, CNN, and the New York Times, are spreading a story they evidently gleaned from Daily Kos that, contrary to what Sarah Palin said in her acceptance speech about being an advocate for special needs children, she actually cut the Alaska state budget for such programs by 62%.

This will doubtless disappoint those suffering the fevers of what Michelle Malkin calls Palin Derangement Syndrome (PDS), but the charge is false. In fact, the Special Education Services budget actually rose by 12% last year under governor Palin.

What happened was that one of the programs that had formerly been folded into Special Education Services, the Alaska Youth Challenge Program, was taken out of special needs and put elsewhere in the budget. This made it look at first glance as though the special needs budget had been slashed by 62% when in fact the Youth Challenge Program actually experienced a 12% increase in funding.

It took one stay-at-home mom about 30 minutes of googling on the internet to discover the explanation that eluded the vast resources of the media organs who are spreading the false information. It makes one wonder why everyone doesn't just get their news from the internet.



Climate change seems to have come to Pakistan, at least the security climate seems to have changed. President Musharaff, an unsteady ally at best in the war on terror, is gone, and the new regime seems much more committed to rooting out the Taliban and ending their ability to function as a fighting force. Stephen Brown at FrontPageMag writes that:

Finally, it's all-out war against the Taliban in Pakistan.

While the world's attention was focused on the conflict in Georgia, Pakistan's military launched a full-scale assault against the Pakistani Taliban. With former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf now out of the way, Pakistan's new military chief, General Ashfaq Kiyani, wasted little time in sending the army in force against the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (the Pakistani Taliban's proper name).

For the Bush administration, the offensive fulfills a long-desired American objective to eradicate the Taliban and al Qaeda bases in Pakistan's tribal regions. These rear areas provide major support for the enemy in the Afghan war, and it is hoped their destruction will substantially reduce that conflict's intensity, if not end it.

The severity of the fighting and the government's success can be judged by the fact the Pakistani Taliban has been "routed" in the Bajaur tribal agency, a Taliban-al Qaeda stronghold. The Pakistan army reported killing more than five hundred Taliban combatants while another 3,000 have fled into Afghanistan and 300,000 civilians have become refugees. Government forces almost nearly captured Ayman al Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda's second-in-command. On the army side, 20 soldiers are dead with another 50 missing.

Suffering setbacks, the Taliban had asked for a ceasefire, which the government, to its credit, rejected. Reflecting the new attitude in a post-Musharraf Pakistan towards Islamist militancy, the Pakistani government says it will not negotiate with the Tehrik-i-Taliban until it lays down its weapons.

The rest of the article explains the reasons for Musharaff's reluctance to go after the Taliban. Check it out if doings in the Middle East interest you.