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The Rundown

8 a.m. ET: The unemployment rate remains over 10 percent, the way forward in Afghanistan is uncertain and the attack at Fort Hood last week provided a fresh reminder of both the toll of war and the potential threat of homegrown extremism. In that gloomy context, it's worth asking: Is the U.S. depressed?

"The euphoria of 2008 is over: America is in a funk," the Associated Press writes as the lede to its story on the latest AP-GfK poll, which found: "People were more pessimistic about the direction of the country than in October. They disapproved of Obama's handling of the economy a bit more than before. And, perhaps most striking for this novice commander in chief, more people have lost confidence in Obama on Iraq and Afghanistan over the last month. Overall, there's a malaise about the state of the nation." AP's results track those of other surveys. On the overall direction of the country, Pollster.com has the average "wrong track" response ticking up to 55 percent in recent weeks, while Obama's average job approval has gradually slid down to the 50 percent mark.

If at least some of that decline is driven by Afghanistan, can Obama halt the slide by making -- and selling -- a firm decision on the way forward in that war? Obama meets Wednesday with his top advisers to hone in on a decision, and the Wall Street Journal writes he "will consider a new compromise plan for adding troops to Afghanistan that would deploy 30,000 to 35,000 new forces, including as many as 10,000 military trainers, over the next year or more. ... A senior military official said this hybrid option is now drawing the most attention at the Pentagon." But the New York Times reports that while Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and Mike Mullen "are coalescing around a proposal to send 30,000 or more additional American troops to Afghanistan ... Obama remains unsatisfied with answers he has gotten about how vigorously the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan would help execute a new strategy." The Hill writes, "Republican Senate leaders blasted reports ... that Obama is leaning toward recommending slightly fewer than the 40,000 troops said to be requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal," while "Democrats pointed to Obama’s careful deliberation, saying they sense the decision is well-researched."

Five days after the horrific attack and one before Veterans' Day, Obama led a somber memorial service at Fort Hood. John Dickerson says Obama's speech "was a small masterpiece. ... The president had great material and he knew not to get in its way." "Obama took on the role of national eulogist on Tuesday for the first time since assuming office," the New York Times writes, adding that the president "chose not to address in detail the haunting questions raised by the Fort Hood killings. ... Did the government miss warning signs when it did not follow up on his communications with a radical cleric in Yemen? How does an American soldier become so radicalized? Did this constitute domestic terrorism?"

On the investigative front, The Washington Post writes, "finger-pointing in Washington intensified Tuesday about whether officials at several agencies had failed to coordinate as they tracked the suspect's activities or to react to possible warning signs in the months before the attack." The Los Angeles Times adds, "Two high-profile anti-terrorism task forces did not inform the Defense Department about contacts" between the suspect, Nidal Hasan, and a radical Islamic cleric. ABC News quotes a "senior government official" as saying Hasan "more unexplained connections to people being tracked by the FBI" than just the cleric, Anwar al-Aulaqi.

On health care, President Clinton visited Senate Democrats Tuesday and urged them to cut a deal soon, not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Harry Reid said he planned to bring the reform bill to the chamber floor next week and hoped to finish it by Christmas, though the jury is still out on whether that is doable. Abortion continues to be a flashpoint, and Politico writes that the health-care fight has shattered "the delicate cease-fire that has governed the abortion issue during the Obama era." Watching the health-care debate, Steven Pearlstein compares Congress to the proverbial frog in the pot of water that is gradually boiled to death. Lamenting the "wholesale disregard for majority rule, Pearlstein writes: "All of this, course, has developed so gradually that Washington insiders are inured to the undemocratic nature of the House and the Senate. Most days they are so caught up in the gamesmanship it has spawned that they barely notice how utterly ridiculous and ineffective the legislative process has become."

While the media's glare has focused elsewhere, the effort to pass financial regulatory reform has plodded forward, with Chris Dodd introducing his overhaul plan Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal says the plan "would impose sweeping curbs on the Federal Reserve, posing the biggest legislative challenge to the central bank in decades and illustrating how divided Capitol Hill remains about the future of financial regulation." Ben Bernanke, meanwhile, "was schooled last month in how to handle the increased political demands of his job," the New York Times reports, as "the Fed chairman agreed to reduce his own visibility on the issue" of whether the Fed should be audited so Barney Frank could strike a compromise.

By Ben Pershing  |  November 11, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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COMMENTS

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ATTN. SENATOR LIEBERMAN (Staff, please forward):
Was the Fort Hood Shooter a Target of THIS -- And Did It Lead Him to Violence?

SECRET MULTI-AGENCY FED PROGRAM SILENTLY TORTURES, IMPAIRS, PERSECUTES U.S. CITIZENS WITH MICROWAVE/LASER RADIATION AND LOCAL VIGILANTISM, SAYS MAINSTREAM JOURNALIST

* Thousands of Americans, deemed to be "dissidents" or undesirables, targeted by Bush legacy program for debilitating microwave/laser assault, held hostage in their own homes to fed-supported vigilante "community policing" stalking units, equipped with warrantless GPS devices, who vandalize and terrorize as local police look the other way.

* "Directed energy weapons," portable units and a nationwide installation employing cell towers and satellites, induce weakness, exhaustion, head and body aches, physical and neurological impairment, strokes, aneurysms, cancer -- and many victims do not realize what is making them sick.

* Regional Homeland Security- administered "fusion centers" reportedly serve as command centers for covert electromagnetic radiation attacks, pervasive surveillance, financial sabotage of those identified as "dissidents," "trouble-makers" or slandered as threats to society.

* Use of microwave weaponry to torture and impair political opponents recently confirmed by deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya.

* Pleas for justice, to local police and FBI, go unanswered -- as do demands for a Department of Justice Civil Rights Division investigation and congressional hearings.

"These are crimes against humanity and the Constitution, being perpetrated under the cover of national security and 'safe streets' by multiple federal and local agencies and commands -- an American genocide hiding in plain sight, enabled by the naivete of those who think 'it can't happen here.'" -- Victor Livingston, former reporter for WTXF-TV Philadelphia, Phila. Bulletin, N.Y. Daily News, St. Petersburg Times; producer/host, MSG Network Sports Business Report; columnist, NowPublic.com/scrivener.

JOURNO TO FBI: TAKE CONTROL OF DHS-RUN FUSION CENTERS
TO STOP SILENT MICROWAVE / LASER ATTACKS ON U.S. CITIZENS

http://nowpublic.com/world/govt-tortures-me-silent-microwave-weapons-ousted-s-prez
http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america OR (if links are corrupted / disabled): http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | November 11, 2009 8:43 AM

The basic problem is that many Americans are not used to having to face problems. Obama was handed an unbelievable set of problems when he took office. He has repeatedly stated that it would take time to get things on the right track. Americans are not patient nor are they selfless concerning doing what is good for the country in the long run. This may be a time of testing to see what we are made of. Previous generations have been willing to make sacrifices to make the U.S. a great country. Do we have the same stuff today? I don't know but it is questionable that we do. The media feeds this entitlement mentality.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | November 11, 2009 9:14 AM

The constant tearing down of President Obama by Fox and Limbaugh, now becoming constant mainstream noise with Palin, Bachmann and Beck - that has led many to feel "in a funk".

yes, and to have U.S. senators deny global warming after just denying evolution and basic science - that is a little discouraging, too.

To have the Washington Post become a propaganda tool and not even police their own treatment of the President, but encourage the hatred and violent talk of the reactionary elements - the destructionists have been given voice.

And topping it all off, is the fact that our beloved country has still not brought to justice any of the torturers, any of the corruptors of our foreign relations nor held to account the crimes of people acting for the U.S. Government (like Blackwater and various contractors who committed atrocities.)

Are you in a little funk from just that much? I am. And it goes on, and on, as if our ideals were gone.

Posted by: rowens1 | November 11, 2009 9:26 AM

In a funk? Absolutely, but my own personal "funk" began in 2004, with the re-election of George Bush. I have been apolitical most of my life and generally oblivious to the state of the nation. I survived, as did most of us, by adapting to conditions. However, beginning with Bush's election in 2000, that began to change. The 2004 elections made me more dissatisfied, and the direction in which the country spiraled through 2008 just added to my unhappiness. But I don't blame Bush for every wrong. I do, however, blame my fellow Americans.

Never have I seen such a lack of civility or willingness to compromise. Never have I seen such polarity -- and I lived through the '60s. No one is willing to admit that someone else might have a valid point on any subject, be it political, religious or economic. For many of us, ours is the lone vaild point, and woe to those who suggest otherwise.

I'm also thoroughly disgusted with our unwillingness or inability to suppress the urge to want everything, right now. We want change, but we want it yesterday. It's simply irrational to think that any president, Democrat, Republican or Independent, can affect change overnight, especially when faced with a multitude of problems, each seemingly more pressing than the last. A recalitrant opposition party doesn't help. Nor does a Congress peopled by men and women who seem more afraid of losing office than of working with their peers to achieve something for the good of the country.

Vote 'em all out? You don't need a degree in mathematics to understand that if we change the direction of the country 180 degrees every four years, we arrive at the same place every eight years. Maybe not "one step forward, two steps back," but just like Alice in Wonderland's White Rabbit -- "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!"

It is indeed a depressing time. Obama alone can't save us, but I am increasingly pessimistic that we can save ourselves. If I'm lucky, I may have 25 more years to live; I may die before things get really bad. But my son is 20, and I fear for his future.

Posted by: djmolter | November 11, 2009 9:28 AM

djmolter expressed many of the same feelings I've had. My funk really took off in 2004 also. Though I think that Pres. Bush finally started being a "President" in the last 3 years in office instead of deligating the job to Cheney (who I believe would have us fighting in a 3rd theater in Iran if he had been allowed to continue in power). The state of the Union is so disheartning because I firmly believe the Republican party made a politically stratigic decision to oppose any and all majority legislation. That they made a decision to intentionally start a war of words by using misinformation, inuendo and lies in their attempt to sway the country away from the mandate we earned in the election. People have really short term memories and already polls show the Republicans have had some modicum of success with their rhetoric. The right wing has decided to stop participating in the process governing and not only are they the party of "No" but the party of No idea how to fix the mess they created over the last 12 years.

Posted by: dncevans | November 11, 2009 5:18 PM

It's so much like the Roman Empire it's not funny. Don't play the moral card, but what's true is that Americans don't really care about being American anymore.

One of the downfalls of being a success is that you forget what made you one.

Posted by: Randally2 | November 11, 2009 8:50 PM

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