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Is President Obama really not feeling any political pressure from progressives on his looming decision to potentially send tens of thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan?

National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) insisted this morning on CNN's State of the Union that political pressure from Obama's progressive base has nothing to do with the President's decision on whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

"The strategy does not belong to any political party," Jones said. "And I can assure you that the President of the United States is not playing to any political base."

Jones, seeming almost offended by the line of questioning, also said, "I don't play politics, and I certainly don't play it with national security."

Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, took a similar stance today. When asked on Meet the Press whether political pressure might be a factor in the troop decision, she said firmly: "Absolutely not."

Still, the question really doesn't seem to be whether Obama's feeling any political pressure from liberals on Afghanistan, but rather how big of a role it'll play in his deliberation over whether to grant Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's request for additional U.S. troops -- reportedly as many as 40,000 -- or to scale back forces and adopt a counterinsurgency strategy as Vice President Joe Biden is said to advocate.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took another shot at Glenn Beck on Fox News Sunday this morning.

"I'm not saying he's bad for America," Graham said -- adding a moment later that "he doesn't represent the Republican Party."

He has a right to say what he wants to say. In my view it's not the kind of political analysis that I buy into.


A few days ago, Graham said of Beck, "Only in America can you make that much money crying."

Asked on Face the Nation about a New York Times report that Iran has already acquired "sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable" atom bomb, National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) tried to downplay the specifics.

"Whether they know how to do it or not is a matter of some conjecture," he said. "What we're watching is, 'What is their intent?'"

Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, also tried to downplay the Times report on Meet the Press this morning, instead emphasizing the progress made in "intense negotiations" between the U.S. and Iran.

Jones also appeared earlier today on CNN's State of the Union and declared that despite a deadly attack that killed eight U.S. soldiers, the war in Afghanistan is far from lost.

Jones offered a few more details on Face the Nation.

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James Jones Hits Back At McCain: I Don't Play Politics With National Security Appearing on State of the Union, National Security Adviser James Jones fired back at Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who said on the Senate floor that Jones doesn't "want to alienate the left base of the Democrat [sic] Party." Jones responded: "I've known him for many, many years. And he knows that I don't play politics with national - I don't play politics. And I certainly don't play it with national security. And neither does anyone else I know. The lives of our young men and women are on the line. The strategy does not belong to any political party and I can assure you that the President of the United States is not playing to any political base. And I take exception to that remark."

Greenspan: Economic Growth To Be 3%, Unemployment To Go Over 10% Appearing on This Week, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan predicted that the third-quarter economic growth figure will hit 3% -- but that this won't be enough to prevent an increase in the unemployment rate. "But remember, the end of the job loss is not the same thing as if the unemployment rate is going to start down," said Greenspan. "My own suspicion is that we're going to penetrate the 10 percent barrier and stay there for a while before we start down."

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On Friday, we reported the odd happiness with which many conservatives greeted Chicago's -- and America's -- defeat in trying to land the 2016 Olympics. Well, it's still going.

On Fox News Sunday this morning, the gang had a nice little laugh about America's failure to win the 2016 games. Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol suggested that not only did President Obama try to "bully" the IOC, but that he should have been lobbying for Brazil -- which will host the 2016 Games in Rio De Janeiro -- instead of the United States.

There's so many ironies in this. By Barack Obama's view of the world, he should have been rooting for Brazil to get the Olympics. South America's never gotten them. Brazil's never gotten them. It's a rising power. It would help Brazil. We don't need the Olympics. We've had them a million times. Our economy doesn't need the boost of the Olympics.


Right. Because the U.S. economy is just going gangbusters right now.

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Appearing on CNN's State of the Union this morning, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the Senate Ethics Committee, said she's not permitted to offer any details of an investigation of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and his reported flouting of lobbying rules after his affair with an aide's wife was discovered earlier this year. But she did confirm that there is an investigation.

"I can't discuss this with you other than to say that there's a preliminary investigation going on," Boxer said. "And we will look at all aspects of this case -- as we do whenever there's a case before us -- and try to get to the bottom of it as quickly as we can."

CNN's John King turned to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and asked what he thought of the investigation of Ensign. Kyl said he'd follow Boxer's lead.

"That's probably a good practice for all of us, is to wait and see what happens," Kyl said.

On Fox News Sunday today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested that military action against Iran -- while a "last resort" -- is a possibility, and perhaps an eventual necessity.

If sanctions fail, and Iran's going down the road to get a nuclear weapon, every Sunni Arab state that could would want a nuclear weapon. Israel would be more imperiled. The world would change dramatically for the worse. And if we use military action against Iran, we should not only go after their nuclear facilities, we should destroy their ability to make conventional war. They should have no planes that can fly and no ships that can float.


That's a "last resort," Graham said again, before adding that the U.S. should "take military action before they get a weapon."

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Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said on Meet the Press this morning that the United States is in the midst of "intense negotiations" with Iran -- but refused to comment on the accuracy of a New York Times report that Iran already has the knowledge necessary to make a working atom bomb.

"Right now we are in a period of intense negotiation," Rice said. "It's not an infinite period. It's a very finite period."

Rice characterized Iran's meeting with world powers last week as "a constructive beginning," but also emphasized that "it was only a beginning."

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Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said on ABC's This Week this morning that he expects the unemployment rate -- which has already climbed to 9.8 percent -- to top 10 percent before it starts trending downward.

"My own suspicion is that we're gonna penetrate the 10 percent barrier and stay there for awhile before we start down," Greenspan said.

In the meantime, Greenspan said that he thinks the U.S. should extend unemployment benefits and give tax credits to make sure the unemployed are able to keep their health insurance coverage.

"This is an extraordinary period," Greenspan said. "And temporary actions must be taken."

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On CNN's State of the Union this morning, National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.) said that even in the wake of a bloody battle in eastern Afghanistan that killed eight U.S. troops -- the deadliest attack in Afghanistan in more than a year -- the country "is not in danger -- imminent danger -- of falling."

"I don't foresee the return of the Taliban," he said.

Jones also said that "the al Qaeda presence is very diminished" in Afghanistan. "The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country," he said, adding that al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan have no bases or real ability to launch effective attacks.

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