Republicans React to Obama Surge Speech

The commander-in-chief looked extremely uncomfortable in an auditorium full of West Point cadets as he used them as a prop to announce his military strategy for Afghanistan. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews remarked on the air last night Obama gave the speech in the “enemy camp,” which says a great deal about the radical left.

Obama laid out his Afghanistan plan last night in a speech before America and the world.  And the terrorists.

“We must deny al Queda a safe haven,” Obama said.  For eighteen more months.

“Our resolve is unwavering,” the President said, before listing reasons he’s wavering.  

The speech vacillated between declarative statements that the terrorists killed thousands of Americans on September 11 to admonitions that we cannot afford to pay for a war to defeat them. Coupled with a proposed national cap and trade energy tax, the proposed $2.5 trillion government takeover of health care, the $3.5 trillion Obama budget and the trillion dollar Obama Stimulus I (to name a few elements of the Democrat’s out-of-control spending binge), the President is likely right.

The President also announced his timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan last night, putting the enemy on notice.  They can now retreat to a cave and bide their time for 18 months when Obama seeks to abandon the territory to al Queda.

We waited three months for this?

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, traveled over Thanksgiving break to Afghanistan and Pakistan to meet with American troops and our military and diplomatic leaders in the region.

“If we are to commit even one troop to further engagement in Afghanistan, it should be with the strategy that our commanders believe gives us the best shot at achieving their mission,” Price said in reaction to the speech.  “While I have ultimate confidence in our commanders’ ability to effectively utilize these additional troops, it is troubling that the President rejected General McChrystal’s full request for resources.  Even more concerning, the President managed to declare the beginning and the end of a military operation at the same time. This type of conflicting message does not offer confidence to our allies, gives our friends and enemies reason to doubt the President’s resolve, and is simply counterproductive.”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of American forces in the region, requested 40,000 additional troops for the surge.  Obama pledged three-quarters of the request giving a 30,000 troop commitment.

“As these men and women begin to deploy into theatre, a larger dose of Presidential leadership and backbone will be required to make clear to the world that the United States can and will do what is necessary to degrade the ability of al Qaeda to seriously threaten America again,” Price said.

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence after the speech warned against setting artificial timelines for withdrawal.

“While reinforcements are critical to achieving victory, the morale of our troops and the unequivocal support of those at home is equally important,” Pence said.  “Our brave men and women in uniform need to know that those who send them into battle will stand by them until the battle is won. Congress should resist the temptation to impose artificial timelines for withdrawal or benchmarks as they only demoralize our troops and embolden our enemies. Telling the enemy when your commitment to fight will run out is a prescription for defeat."

Pence also advised against threats made by Democrat leaders to raise taxes to fund the war.

“The American people continue to offer their loved ones and their resources in support of freedom in Afghanistan,” Pence said.  “It is deeply offensive to suggest that they should sacrifice even more because Washington refuses to practice fiscal discipline. Congress should demonstrate its own ability to make the tough choices on spending instead of using the war in Afghanistan as an excuse to further burden American taxpayers.”

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Committee, which will be charged with funding the troop increase and all Department of Defense-related activities in the region, had strong words for the President’s decision to short-sheet McChrystal’s request while the Democrat leadership envisions new taxes for all Americans to pay for Obama’s Afghanistan strategy.

“After three months of indecision, the President now comes up short of what his hand-picked commanding general requested,” Kingston said.  “To further complicate matters, rather than take the billions sitting idly in the failed TARP and ‘stimulus,’ Democrat leaders want to slap a brand new tax on Americans in the middle of one of the worst economies in our history to fight what they called the ‘right war.’”

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, summed up the President’s Afghan strategy speech very nicely.

“War cannot be won from a podium, but it can be lost,” Poe said of the speech.  “Laying out our military tactics for our enemies is not only unwise, but poses a significant threat to the security of our country and the lives of the men and women on the battlefield.  Despite the claims that requests from our military leaders have not been delayed, this announcement comes months after the initial request was made and short of what is needed for a swift and decisive victory.  Our enemies have proven to be patient and steadfast in their determination to wage war on democracy and freedom.  Tonight’s premature announcement of an arbitrary end-date contradicts our commitment to winning the war on terror and reaffirms our enemy’s belief that America will lose its will to win.”

Issa: ACORN Using Bank Information to Charge Fees, Target Republicans

House Republicans hosted a joint forum to examine allegations against ACORN and call for federal investigators to hold the organization accountable.  Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight & Government reform, heard testimony from witnesses involved in investigations in differing parts of the country including Louisiana, Indiana and Pennsylvania.  

New information is making its way into the public as the Oversight Committee also released an 81-page summary of new, incriminating documents including some that were discarded in a dumpster outside of the ACORN offices in San Diego — reportedly in anticipation of a visit from the California attorney general.

The documents contain fliers announcing programs that bring people into the ACORN offices for the first time. “ACORN is working with CitiBank to help homeowners avoid foreclosure,” one flier read.

Anita MonCrief, a former ACORN employee and whistleblower, testified that unsuspecting individuals would come to ACORN for help, fill out a form that included their banking information, not understanding that they were agreeing to a $10 per month membership fee auto-debit from their bank account.

“They did not understand what they were signing,” MonCrief said.

There were printouts in the released documentation of member data forms that included the banking information, and there were handwritten notes, emails and snail mail repeatedly demanding that ACORN stop auto-debiting $10 a month from their bank account.

“Clearly it seems that a great many people thought there bank information was not going to be used for a debit or they thought it would end,” Issa told HUMAN EVENTS at the hearing.  “These people would go into ACORN for a briefing, and they would get their bank information and they would have them sign a membership form.  They would automatically debit $10 a month.  So you have very poor people who find themselves paying $10 a month.  Over time it was a lot of money.”

There were also instances uncovered in the documentation of collusion between non-profit and political entities under the ACORN umbrella.

“According to documents obtained by Oversight staff, it appears that ACORN directed an affiliate, Project Vote, to target Republicans in the 2008 election,” Smith said.  “This kind of political activity is a clear violation of the organization’s non-profit status.  With mountains of evidence, federal law enforcement agencies can no longer ignore the shady actions of ACORN.”
Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita testified about the voter and voter registration fraud investigations of ACORN stemming from the 2008 elections.

“In early October, my office was flooded with reports that Northwest Indiana ACORN ‘dropped’ approximately 5,000 voter registration applications at the lake County Voter Registration Office during the last few days, even hours, of the voter registration period of the 2008 General Election.  Many of these forms appeared to the Lake County Board of Elections and Registration to be suspicious, incomplete, or unverifiable.  Officials at the county voter registration reported that there was hardly enough time to adequately verify the information on the applications, but that on quick review, thousands of the applications appeared invalid.”

Rokita’s office studied copies of 1,483 of the flagged applications and found that 88 percent of the names could not be verified. 61 percent had one or more critical defects rendering them invalid or useless. 26 percent showed evidence that a third party assisted, corrected or altered required data and 22 percent appeared to be multiple applications prepared by the same individual.

According to Rokita’s testimony, ACORN lawyers in Indiana offered tortured interpretations of the law as a defense, further failing to explain any legitimate purpose for collecting then holding onto thousands of voter registration applications for months only to submit them in a large document dump right before or at the close of the registration period.

David Caldwell, the Deputy Director of the Criminal Division of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, took the unusual step of testifying about a few of the details of an ongoing criminal investigation into ACORN in New Orleans.  

“The purpose of our appearance today is to ask for assistance in coordinating any state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies who may be interested in benefitting from a shared investigative effort,” Caldwell said.  “The task of properly investigating almost 400 entities and over 600 bank accounts is massive to say the least.  Estimates we received from an outside computer forensic firm to do even a targeted forensic review of the hard drives and servers obtained indicate a cost of around $3.5 million.  This cost does not include the necessary forensic accounting review of the 600+ ACORN affiliated accounts.  A coordinated effort is the only way to fully and effectively investigate this case.”