- Schaffer vs. Udall
- View From A Height
- Thinking Right
- Mt. Virtus
- Rocky Mountain Right
- Slapstick Politics
- Daily Blogster
- Hugh Hewitt
- Hot Air
- Fox News
- Real Clear Politics
- Rocky Mountain News
- Denver Post
- Debka Files
- Talking Points Memo
The Senate Race
Rocky Mountain Alliance of Blogs, 2.0
My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|With a Grain of Salt
I just watched a portion of Greta Van Susterin's show in Fox, in which Monsoor Ijaz put forward the idea that the mullahs in Iran are cooperating with the US by pushing elements of al-Qaeda out of their country towards the Afghan-Pak border, where the US military is waiting to mop them up. In return, the US would drop its insistence on the end of the mullah's regime.
Boy, wouldn't that be nice. Of course, I'm finding that Mr. Ijaz has about the same track record for accuracy as Drudge or Debka, so. . . And I'm only partly convinced that al-Qaeda targets are worth selling out a freedom movement. Nonetheless, if he's right, then that would be a tribute to the efforts of this administration, and Sec Powell in particular, to work with another government to solve one of our problems.
Maybe I should rethink that. If two of the targets are Osama and Mullah Omar, than maybe it could be worth it. Of course, a free Iranian society would likely hand over the Mullah and OBL on its own. Well, what a quandary.
Damn. I'm afraid I'm starting to sound like John Kerry. Somebody stop me. . .
|Is This How Embedded Reporters Feel?
My day job is teaching. I know, kind of an odd thing for a conservative, but actually much less rare than you might think.
At any rate, I've had a number of somewhat bizarre experiences lately, which I'd like to rant about for a bit. So, indulge. . .
I was at a community meeting a few days ago which involved teachers and parents (mostly those with students who have very limited command of English) and others. One of the activities, to help establish a sense of community, was to have each adult in the group explain what their vision is and what their highest values are. Now, given the setting, certainly you would not be surprised that the dominant answer to the question of vision was "world peace;" this was followed by "optimism," though in a distinct minority. The answers to values were dominantly "family" and "respect," though, to my surprise, the words "honor" and "God" also came out.
And, more than any event in my recent memory,this crystallized for me the difference between the mindset of conservatives and liberals. I think I can say with come comfort that I was the only conservative in the room, and I did not offer up my vision and values for the group (not really my role in that setting). But the word that absolutely leapt to mind for me in the question of vision was "opportunity." Sure, peace would be nice, but there are things that I despise more than conflict. As far as what am I willing to invest what little spare time and energy I have, the pursuit of peace is futile, and the pursuit of opportunity is both achievable and necessary to create peace.
I love the idiocy of the bumper sticker "There can be no peace without justice." Well, sure, but there is even less chance of there being any justice without freedom. You see, I am coming to believe that the left wants the ends so badly that they are willing to claim the moral high ground on any point in between and leave it at that, regardless of the futility of their plan. The left wants peace so badly that it is willing to forego self-governance, security, and prudence, while counting on the good graces of the "moral example" to magically create the ends without taking any of the steps down the right road. To abuse a pop icon, it's as if the left is content to stay in the field of poppies, while the right is insistent on going step-by-step down the yellow brick road. And if memory serves, one of those who has recently been hailed for his "moral example" is responsible for the most embarrassing episode in American foreign policy in the last 50 years and also for making America the greatest dupe and diplomatic cuckold since Chamberlain. Just in case I'm the only one who can follow my train of thought, I am referring to Jimmy Carter, who was thanked by Howard the Duck for his "moral example."
Just in case you were wondering, on the question of values I would have been unique, as well. Certainly, Faith, Family and Honor are at the top of my list, but I include Achievement and Indomitable Spirit as well. I think this separates the left and right, as well. I would never doubt someone's commitment to God or to the their family based on their political ideology, but you very rarely hear the left commend grand achievements--in fact, the only time they pay attention to that is when they can tax it! And an Indomitable Spirit would never be content living on the welfare of the state, also antithetical to the left's worldview.
What is most troubling to me about these revelations are the implications for the country: if, as some have posited, it is a 50-50 country, that means that half of the country would rather chase pipe dreams with platitudes than work to guarantee the future. That, to me, is simply an unacceptable world for my daughters to grow up in. Which is why, as disappointed as I have been with the recent moves on immigration, Medicare, and now the NEA, I will work to get this President re-elected.
In a related thought, I'm taking some classes right now, and a good part of every class seems to be devoted to criticism of the No Child Left Behind Act and the CSAP (Colorado's testing program). Don't ask me what we're supposed to be learning from these discussions--I can't answer that. At any rate, there is a palpable dislike from the teachers in the room for anything that has anything to do with Republicans. It's as if there is no such thing as a good Republican idea. I know, not a big surprise, right. What would surprise is how non-representative this is of how good teachers actually teach. Think back. . . what was the number one, most important lesson every great teacher in your past taught you? Multiplication tables? Historical Timelines? Of course not. The really great teachers teach self-reliance above all else. Any really good student at some point learns that the only way to learn is to take responsibility for themselves, and to dedicate themselves to their pursuits. Teachers become mentors, sherpas and tour guides in this world, while weak students insist on their teachers being nannies and confessors.
The point is that teachers have really marginalized themselves with their knee-jerk reactions in the political arena, and that troubles me. What we're talking about is a group of people who have devoted themselves to the service of the youth of the country, and in the process have become hijacked by an ideological mindset which guarantees that their contributions will be minimalized.
So how do I co-exist? I tend to choose party affiliation and ideology based on philosophical compatability, whereas most teachers choose their party based on their own self-interest. Sure it can be disgusting, and the marginalization is well-deserved. Until teachers see the schism between practice and philosophy, public education will continue to be an easy target for derision.
|From Out of the Blue
I understand that suicide bombers are under the impression that 72 virgins await them in Heaven if they give their lives for Allah. But what's the promised reward for female suicide bombers? Is the Islamic world really so repressed that a woman would be happy with 72 virgin lovers? Or does she get the man after he's had the 72?
Just asking. . .
|Sticks and Stones
Sure, John Kerry is riding high right now. But he has yet to be the main target of anyone, either candidate or media. I expect (especially after today's shake-up) that the Dean campaign is going to start throwing big bricks at Sen. Kerry, and then we'll see how he weathers the storm. Not to mention the media scrutiny which has been known to shake candidates in the past.
In a note of self-congratulations, I heard Chris Mathews posit the same endorsement-for-VEEP idea that I threw out there yesterday. So I got that going for me. . . Of course, I'm not so sure its a good thing to be on the same page as Chris Mathews, but. . .
|So I Was Wrong
Yeah, I was off just a little bit on my predictions for the NH primary--maybe not so much as others, but still pretty far off.
What's really great about the whole thing, even though I was wrong, is that Clark is not dead. His third place finish is enough to convince the already delusion candidate that it is worth it to keep on fighting. Even Joe Leiberman has promised to keep going. That leaves five viable candidates--okay, that leaves John Kerry plus four VP wannabes--still going at it. In fact, with Al Sharpton's numbers still decent in South Carolina, and Denis Kicinich's pledge to stay in it all the way to the convention, that really leaves the field still rather full. Which, in the long run, means Kerry still has to share stage time in the debates with people of no stature. At least Dick Gephardt had the grace to recognize the inevitable.
As for next week and Gephardt, chew on this idea: Gephardt endorsed Kerry, guaranteeing a win in Missouri, plus the organized labor help in the steel belt. In return, Gephardt gets the nod for Veep--guess if he can't win Speaker he'll gladly settle for being handed Pres Pro-Tem.
Just a thought.
As for Kerry, he frightens me less and less as a candidate the more I see of him. Or, more specifically, the more I learn about him. Twice author of bills cutting the Intel budget by $1 bil, LT Gov to Michael Dukakis. . . I wonder how he voted on the Iraq Liberation Act? And every time he tries to explain voting for the war, but opposing it, then voting down the $87 bil for reconstruction, he takes on a cartoon aspect. Yeah, he doesn't really frighten me.
Though if him beeing the nominee means Ted Kennedy coming to Denver to campaign, that might cause me a little trepidation.
|Eye On the Ball
David Kay gave an interview on the Today Show this morning. When asked if he thought, in retrospect, the decision to go to war was a prudent one, he replied "Absolutely." Amazingly, I can't find the transcript of the interview anywhere on the web. In fact, the NBC homepage doesn't even have an article link to the interview. Remarkable.
I suspect this is one of the biggest stories going wildly underreported right now. Of course, David Kay himself has helped out by obliging all sort of goofy interview requests and being somewhat less than consistent in his comportment. Nonetheless, this is the sort of story that deserves wide play, and I hope someone other than Powerline tries to drive this home.
Ha ha. I know what you're thinking--I was nowhere close in Iowa, and I seem to have reported on the death of Howard Dean a bit, well, prematurely. So if there's any lesson to be learned, it's this: predictions, especially mine, are barely worth the electrons they take to publish.
That said, I look for an interesting night tomorrow. I think we can safely predict the end of Joe Leiberman and of Wesley Clark, but a big three-way battle may be emerging, with Kerry, Dean and Edwards all poised to keep bloodying each other well into February. Numbers? What the heck. Kerry 34, Dean 32, Edwards 20, and looking to South Carolina.
The quiet story here may be the failure of the Clinton candidate, Gen. Clark. And somewhere in the background, Hillary smiles.. .
I have long been a fan of Dennis Miller, since well before he grew up and discovered that national security actually matters. I guess there's something about a guy who can keep three metaphors in the air at the same time and somehow land them on their feet (even if half the audience doesn't get it).
So I tuned in for large portions of his MSNBC debut tonight with Gov. Arnold, and I was pleased. He seems to have gotten over his need to insert himself (a la Monday Night Football), but he still pulled a few good chuckles out. Unfortunate timing, though, that his re-broadcast is opposite Brit Hume's re-broadcast. I may have to alter my news gathering schedule.
You'll hear a lot for about half a day about the votes in Hart's Location and Dixville, the first two places in New Hampshire to cast votes. And most of what you'll hear will be "Clark Won." But if you look really close at the cover photo for the MSNBC story, you'll notice that President Bush has more votes than anyone else.
Just in case you believe in omens.
|Quick note on the polls
I'm learning to distrust them more and more. Especially anything like this in any way affiliated with Newsweek. Even in a state with such a small possible sampling as New Hampshire the polls show significant inconsistencies in their final numbers. So I'm trying not to get very worked up about polls just about now.
Michael Barone has a very good piece on the state of the electorate as it relates to the November election. There is reason, in his analysis, to be both comforted and wary. The key point is the actual numbers from 2002--GOP advantage in the Congressional vote by 51%-45%. Couple that with the increases that others have reported in GOP registrations across the country, and you have a good picture shaping up.
As long as nobody takes anything for granted.
|The Essence of Leadership
Reuben Navarrette's piece got me thinking about one of my favorite topics: Leadership.
The number one characteristic, in my opinion, in a successful leader is a sense of humility with regard to the service that they owe those who follow them. In other words, the central characteristic of leadership is, actually, service.
This is why the first few years of the Bush administration were marked by such success--he behaved as if his sense of duty to the country were a much greater consideration than his re-election prospects. He chose to serve the country by giving it back more of its money, by riding out to meet our enemies on their turf instead of ours, and by pushing fundamental reform of the public schools. Many can argue that these weren't the right choices, but they were hard choices, all of them, and his choosing to tackle them marked him as a strong leader. This is also why I think that perception may be slipping just a little: his latest moves on immigration and, to a lesser extent, prescription drugs, don't ring true to service to the country--they seem like pandering for votes. This is compounded by his relative weakness at articulating how these initiatives serve the greater good.
Compound that with the daily grumbling of the oxygen-sucking Dem Presidential candidates, and you have the makings of a soft center of the electorate. And this is where elections are won and lost. I hope that once the President has one opponent to concentrate on, he is able to regain his stride and display the sort of selfless leadership that marked his early months.
|Beaten to the Punch
I watched most of the debate tonight (a Double Gulp of Mountain Dew at hand), and not much stood out to me. Kerry was adequate, Leiberman looks like a strong man searching for a party, Clark is slick and slippery, Edwards is in a little over his head, and Dean. . .
Dean lost his chance to resurrect his campaign. As Hugh laid out, he had one chance to embrace his Iowa meltdown and make it go away, and he failed to do so. Besides which, he still showed a little imbalance. I had many good analogies at hand, but Hindrocket beat me to the punch, so I suggest you look his way.
Edwards suggested we need to talk more about the voters and the people out there, and he painted a pretty bleak picture. I don't see it, and I think most Americans are starting to be more optimistic. I think they, as a whole, begin to paint themselves into a corner as pessimistic and out of touch if they fail to acknowledge the things that are starting to go well. Nobody denies that we've just come through a tough time, but it's tough to look at the Index of Leading Economic Indicators, the Stock Market, or the actions of the Fed lately and conclude that the picture is bleak. Continuing to talk as if it were starts to sound naggy--like your dear old aunt who's afraid of everything and doesn't want you to play outside because you might put your eye out.
|Final Thoughts on the State of the Union
I heard one of the pundits last night ask "Did the President hit a home run?" Clearly, I think, the answer is no.
However, I don't believe he needed to hit a home run. To beat the baseball metaphor to death (which I love to do) it's still very early in the game--say, the third inning. And if the polls mean anything, he's got a lead of two or three runs. With Saddam in the bag and the economy upticking, he's got a couple runners on base. All he really needed to do was make solid contact--hit the ball hard somewhere and let the runners begin. Besides, with Terry McAuliff and Howard Dean and Wesley Clark in the outfield, all he's really got to do is put the ball in play and let the circus begin. And that, he did--a hard-hit gap double that should bring two runs around. Not enough to close the deal, but enough to rest the bullpen for awhile.
Not that those of us in Colorado have seen a bullpen resting in recent years. . .
But back to the point: President Bush's performance Tuesday night was enough to do the job that needed doing at this stage in the game. Not to mention that he took the cameras off the Dems for a while, and they obliged by putting the perpetually surprised Nancy Pilosi and the cartoon scary (with a nod to Hugh) Tom Daschle.
|State of the Union Reactions
I sat and watched the whole of the speech tonight (with a small interruption to get the girls out of the bathtub), and overall impression was very positive. This President knows how to play his strong suit-security. He seemed very assured, very strong, even defiant while defending his foreign policy, and smartly addressed a great many of his key applause lines straight to the center camera--in effect, to the American public. He did seem to lose some of his momentum when he turned to domestic issues. Though it would be dry, anybody still listening would have been well served to hear a listing of the key economic indicators, all of which are pointing up. He could have simply bludgeoned the opposition with facts, hoping that they would point towards better job numbers soon (Powerline has a good analysis of an underreported aspect of the jobless numbers--well worth the read). Nonetheless, I was gratified that his laundry list of new programs was pretty short, his defense of new tax cuts pretty forceful, and that he called for a limit to the growth of spending.
The big message that I came away with was simple: I like this job, I'm good at this job, I have much left to accomplish, and even though I'm going to try to appear above the fray, I'm going to fight like hell to keep this job.
Favorite Moment: when he paused after "Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire. . .", he handed out just enough rope to the Dems--who took the opportunity to applaud inappropriately--so that he could hang them with the line "The terrorist threat will not expire on the same timetable." Very nice, and just a little feisty.
Funniest Picture: every time the camera panned to Ted Kennedy, he was shaking his head from side to side. I started to wonder if he was listening to the speech or just upset at the quality of Scotch sitting in from of him.
Who's In Charge: after taking the time to list the allies involved in our efforts in Iraq, he pointed out to his detractors that they should never be dismissive of their sacrifices--a gentle slap on the wrist to the "unilateralist" crowd.
"Huh?" Moment: charging professional sports with cleaning up steroid use. Not sure this is his province, or that it deserves to be on the same podium as national security (though it was nice of Tom Brady to take a few hours off from his Super Bowl preparation to be a prop).
Out of Her League: Nancy Pilosi has so little business leading one of the major parties in this country. . . The look of perpetual surprise on her face strikes me like a Berkeley liberal suddenly realizing that more than half the country goes to a church on a regular basis (Oh, wait. . . that actually pretty much describes her. . .).
|Godot Speaks. . .Sort of
Just days after I hypothesized that Gary Hart liked his current role and status too much to give it up for a Senate run against Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the good former Senator comes out of hiding to write two essays. The first one, for the Denver Post trying to make the case through old pabulum and historical fancy that for Dems to regain their stature they must fight against Caesar/Bush. And the second,in the Washington Post, saying we could have had the Libya thing taken care of if Bush the senior had taken my advice twelve years ago (never mind that there was a totally different administration in the intervening times that would have loved such a foreign policy coup). My own read is that the first article is pointless posturing and the second borders on Dean/Clark scale delusion--not any way to announce a run for Senate. Which just reinforces my opinion that he'll stay out.
Also in that edition of the Denver Post is an interesting essay by former Gov. Dick Lamm arguing that the Dem identity needs to be tied up in domestic social programs. And while he does his usual job of ticking off the old, he does have a few very salient points about Social Security reform and Dem beholdenness to their special interests.
|Learn your History
Is anybody else a little surprised by the notably populist posture John Kerry took in his victory speech tonight? The last guy who tried that was a known quantity running against an unknown, with a history of (loose) attachment to peace and prosperity, with a great organization behind him. Remember him? Al Gore? His message attacking "powerful interests" was insufficient to carry 2000--what makes anybody think it will do better in 2004?
|And Then There Were Four. . .
I think it's safe to say that the final results from Iowa tonight were a tremendous surprise, tantamount to an electoral earthquake. John Kerry "The Dead" back from the grave to collect 38%; John Edwards "Pretty Boy" out of nowhere to get 32%; Howard "The Duck" a grim and disappointing 18%; and Dick Gephardt throwing it in after an abysmal 11%.
The race is now in full swing, and still four candidates remain viable. Howard Dean still has the money and the organization, plus--for now--is still ahead in the NH polls (for whatever that seems to be worth). Wesley Clark also has money, is steadily climbing in the polls, and has had a couple weeks all to himself in NH, plus he has regional strength beyond. John Kerry should be able to ride this momentum to at least repay his own donations to his campaign, plus should show decently in NH. And John Edwards. . . I'm just stunned by his showing. . . has regional support, plus with Gephardt out SC could easily be his for the taking. In other words, projecting two weeks out and predicting off of current polls (a bad technique) Dean takes NH, South Carolina, Delaware, New Mexico and Oklahoma; Clark gets Arizona; and I'm projecting that Kerry is the main beneficiary in Missouri of Gephardt droppin out. But it's equally plausible to project a scenario where Kerry gets NH and Missouri, Dean gets Delaware and New Mexico, Clark gets Oklahoma and Arizona, and Edwards takes South Carolina. Which leaves the Dems two weeks from now in pretty much the same boat they're in right now--nowhere.
But in the meantime the President will have delivered a State of the Union and been busy running the country. And not a single head-to-head poll has yet to suggest that any of these candidates is at all capable of displacing the President, much less after a protracted nomination battle. So while the Dems are trying to "find themselves," the President (who very much knows where he is) can run the country, articulate a bold vision for the future, and attach himself to all kinds of good news.
A pretty good picture for November.
|Not to Gloat, But. . .
A While back I blogged the hypothesis that Howard Dean actually thinks he is Jed Bartlett of the West Wing (as far as I know, it's just a theory--it can't be proven. . .but it is an interesting theory). So imagine my surprise to find Martin Sheen on the stump with Howard Dean this week.
Also on the stump with the Duck is Meathead--Rob Reiner. I'm trying to picture the two of them offloading the bus together. The picture that jumps to mind is of Andre the Giant and the little guy from "The Princess Bride" (with, of course, Howard Dean being the little guy (INCONCEIVABLE!!)).
The Rocky Mountain News runs a column by Swanee Hunt every Saturday. This week she tries to make the point that were we to try to encourage the poor to stay in school via a payment program like some of our neighbors to the south employ, we could create a massive disincentive for terrorism.
First of all, I hesitate to take any example involving education from the Central and South Americas. Secondly, lack of education isn't the problem with Islamists--its their Madrasa-driven education that absolutely is the problem.
Just more naivete from a former diplomat.
Much Ado has been made in the last few weeks of the report to the Army War College by Jeffrey Record title "Bounding the Global War on Terror." In particular, some local liberal talk nags have been touting this as "evidence" that their view of the situation has been vindicated by the Army War College. So I spent the day absorbing and dissecting this report--here's what I've come up with:
It occurs to me that I should give the conclusion first, and then anybody who wishes to can read the points of analysis below. In short, this is a biased report which is not sanctioned by the Army War College, and should not be assumed to be reflective of the majority of thought within the ranks of the military. Record's obvious point is to say the the Iraq War was a bad idea which does nothing for achieving the goals of the Global War On Terror (GWOT). Many of his points betray a willingness to ignore obvious facts, and to draw unsubstantiated conclusions from a loosely-linked array of administrative statements.
(Editorial note: while it is certainly true that pulling specific quotes out of a lengthy article can create false or misleading impressions of content, I will strive to stay within the context of the report and not distort)
The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, . . .
So much for official sanction.
Jeffrey Record. . .served as Legislative Assistant for National Security Affairs to Senators Sam Nunn and Lloyd Bentsen
Two former Senators with strong military credentials, to be sure; nonetheless, two Democratic Senators.
Terrorism is a recourse of the politically desperate and militarily helpless, and, as such, it is hardly going to disappear.
Early on Record reveals what I consider to be a mind-numbing naivete with regard to the nature of terrorism. To call them "politically desperate" assigns to them some political ambition; Al-Qaeda has none. Its ambition is the destruction of Western Civilization, and its means is the killing of as many non-combat people (women, children, the aged, the sick) as it possibly can. His analysis assigns them victim status, and that is abhorrent.
The ultimate measure of success in the GWOT will be diminished incidence and scope or terrorist attacks--i.e. nonoccurring events. From an analytical standpoint, however, this is an unsatisfactory measure of success.
Not to me, it's not unsatisfactory. No more attacks on US soil--success! And, sure, we want to also prevent attacks elsewhere, but we're in this because of an attack on US soil that killed 3,000, and this President's job is to protect Americans. So if there is a slight uptick in terrorist activity in distant lands, then that is tragic and unfortunate, but not necessarily our concern.
The current U.S. national security strategy defines terrorism as simply "premeditated, politically motivated violence against innocents." This definition, however, begs the question of who is innocent and by what standards is innocence determined.
Again, Record plays a little moral equivalence card. I don't think anybody doubts that the children buried in the rubble of the daycare of the WTC were innocent--some "standards" are pre-cognitive and are readily understood by anybody not handicapped by overthink.
The definitional mire that surrounds terrorism stems in large measure from differing perspectives on the moral relationship between objectives sought and means employed. . . .Condemning all terrorism as unconditionally evil strips it of political context and ignores its inherent attraction to the militarily helpless.
This is a difficult point--is Record trying to say that a.)targeting and killing babies is not evil because it is "inherently attractive" or that b.) were these people militarily not helpless they would not resort to these means? I think we saw while the Taliban was in charge of a country that a lack of "helplessness" does very little to molify the acts of evil men--indeed, it only legitimizes them.
Was Jewish terrorism against British rule in Palestine, such as the 1946 Irgun bombing attack on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem justified as a means of securing an independent Jewish state?
Another clever equivalency argument. If memory serves, the King David Hotel was headquarters of the British Occupying Force, and thus a legitimate military target. It's not as if the Jews waited for the wedding of the British General and walked in with an AK-47 and an explosive belt. Likewise, "terror" as employed by the West (for instance, the French Resistance in WWII) tends to target legitimate targets, like supply lines and communications, which have strategic importance; terror, in the modern Islamist context, targets life and the symbols of life.
The President thus postulated, at least with respect to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, a monolithic, direct terrorist threat to the United States in the form of undeterrable WMD attacks.
Here, and elsewhere, Record tries to say that Iraq would initiate an attack in exactly the same way that al-Qaeda did. Not true--the point the administration made all along was that the two were linked, that Saddam had demonstrated a willingness to mass killing, and that the idea that he develop the weapons and then freeliy distribute them to the terrorist networks was unacceptable. Surely Iraq was never going to invade the US; that was never the fear. The fear was what he would give to those who were willing to attack the US.
. . .rogue states. . .are subject to effective deterrence and therefore do not warrant status as potential objects of preventive war and its associated costs and risks.
Ah, yes. Effective deterrence. Like Hussein with the U.N. North Korea with SecState Albright. Again, the point isn't what they would do to the US; it is what they would do to their neighbors and with their friends that we would be powerless to prevent if WMD's were a player.
There was no substantive intelligence information linking Saddam to international terrorism.
I guess the payments he made to the families of successful terrorists isn't enough information. Or the Ansar al-Islam camps in the north of Iraq. Or the airline fuselage he kept outside of Baghdad for training purposes. I guess the point Record would make is that even though he gave financial support to, provided a haven for, and provided training facilities for terrorists, he would never go that next step to provide them with weapons, were he to have them. Nope, that's one line he just wouldn't cross. Gimme a break.
Historically, moreover, transition from autocracy to stable democracy has more often than not been protracted and violent;but There was not a single act of politically-motivated violence against American occupation forces during the 7 years of U.S. military governance in Japan.
So which is it, Dr Record? In the historical context you put this in, 7 years in not a long time at all, and bloodless. Perhaps proving the point of unique American ability to handle this sort of thing. Or, if the first postulate is more the case, then why the panic after only 8 months of occupation?
Quoting Yassir Arafat The difference between a revolutionary and a terrorist lies in the reason for which he fights. For whoever stands by a just cause and fights for the freedom and liberation of his land from the invaders, the settlers and colonialists, cannot possibly be called a terrorist.
Which does nothing to explain 9/11.
Preventive war, though a substitute for deterrence, would actually reinforce deterrence. In fact, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM appears, at least so far, to have had the opposite effect on North Korea and Iran.
How do you figure? North Korea has made overtures to come back to the table, Iran is going to subject itself to inspections, and, just for good measure, Libya has opened its doors to inspections, as well. There is no substitute, I suppose, for deliberate ignorance of facts.
American competence and staying power will be keys to achieving both goals, . . .
Um, yeah. Duh. At least he managed to land on one obvious correct statement.
. . .they convey the magnitude of the federal fiscal crisis that lies ahead if the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are not rescinded, . . .
Isn't this the same argument Howard Dean is making--pay for the war by reinstituting (read:raising) taxes? Just so you know where Jeffrey Record is coming from.
Okay, that's enough. I think you get the point. The reading of this report leaves an overwhelming impression of someone attempting to use the Army War College to legitimate an argument that has not been in the ascendency of late. And, insofar as his logic is tortured, Record makes his point with somewhat less effect than the President and Tony Blair.
|I don't really know where to go tonight. Too much to cover with too little actual facts, and all speculation. The polls are interesting, but I'm becoming increasingly jaded about their value--if memory serves, one of the last polls in 2002 had Sen. Allard losing, and he won by five points. Not a big margin, to be sure, but not recount fodder, either.
What's really interesting is the increasing meltdown from the Dems. Dean's numbers are crumbling, Clark keeps adding ammo for his defeat by his own foolishness and his long-term memory problems (see Powerline's analysis of his testimony before Congress just 16 months ago), Gephardt has no real strength beyond Iowa and Missouri, Kerry doesn't have the numbers to sustain beyond his early targets, and Edwards' new numbers have to be some sort of statistical anomaly. As I posited last night, these guys are likely to spill so much of each others' blood in what will be a nasty primary fight that the winner can only stagger through the finish line and into the general election. To their credit, Kerry has at least remained consistent with his defense of his Senate vote for the war resolution (no matter how convoluted the intellectual calisthenics) and Gephardt has stayed strong on the issues that divide him from the field.
But I suspect the last two left in the ring will be Dean and Clark, and both of these guys have proven to be so goofy and volatile that there's no credible way the Dems can fight a sustained battle without massive party flight. Whoever wins should consider signing on Ted Kennedy as veep, just to act as a chaperone.
|Waiting for Godot
Gary Hart still hasn't decided whether he'll challenge Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) for the Colorado Senate seat. I think I heard yesterday a poll (maybe it was 9News, if somebody can find it) that showed Campbell with a fairly comfortable margin. Given Hart's history of teasing the Democrat powers that be, my bet is that he'll stay out, and try to maintain his reputation as a strong international relations/defense guy who commands pretty nice speaking fees. That leaves the field empty of political experience.
Meanwhile, the contest for a challenger for Bob Beauprez's seat is a bit thin, with the leading contender a guy whose name was made by the Columbine investigation (deserved or not, the association with that event does not play well).
It might be a tough year for front range political activists looking for something to do. It's too early to say for sure, but I'm thinking most of the Colorado GOP efforts will need to be devoted to defending Marylin Musgrave's seat and finding a good replacement for Scott McInnis. How about it, guys? The 96-hour campaign headquarters in Grand Lake?
|One Down. . .
Carol Moseley Braun has decided to throw in the towel, and will endorse Howard Dean.
Well, lucky for him--that ought to add seven or eight votes to his grand total. That may be just enough to stop the bleeding.
It's only a matter of time before Kucinich and Sharpton follow, with their support likely also going to Dean (another 12 votes). I don't see the Rev. Al dropping until after South Carolina, where the strong black vote should be enough to leverage him into a strong speaking engagement at the convention, but he'll go soon enough.
Looking at polls (a dubious way to predict behavior, to be sure), and following some of the analysis (esp. Carl Cameron's) it's possible (not likely, but possible) that Gebhardt takes Iowa, Clark takes NH, and Feb 3rd splits for Dean, Leiberman and Kerry, with maybe Edwards showing strong enough to keep going. In other words, in the GOP "perfect storm" scenario, by the end of the first wave of Terry McAuliff's brainchild there are still six viable candidates alive and kicking, and the survival crucible will be the ability to spend more money (which will leave less for the general, not to mention the down-ticket stuff). Meanwhile, George Bush hasn't spent a dime, and the six empty Senate seats in the south still aren't getting any contest from the national Democrats because they're still at the cannibal feeding frenzy.
How's the adage go? When your enemy is busy hanging himself. . . I think I'll just pop some popcorn and sit back for the show.
|Good News Hitting Close to Home
I just got done looking through the mail (yeah, pretty long day). In today's mail was my Tax-Sheltered Annuity statement. And, lo and behold, my TSA gained over 9% in value last quarter. Well, after listened to the soundbytes from the Dem debate a couple days ago, imagine my surprise!! I was expecting to actually owe my TSA company, what with the loss of value the Dems have been going on about.
At some point, even the denser parts of the electorate are going to notice the disconnect between the rehetoric and the numbers in front of them. And with somewhat over 50% of Americans now invested in the stock market in some way, this message will get out far and wide.
If it is true that people vote their pocketbooks (and their portfolios), 2004 should be a very good year for the President.
Every once in a while something is just so absurd that it manages to make its way on to the evening news and into the newspapers. It seems a 15 yr old thinks it is mean to use animals for entertainment (based, I suppose, on all the accumulated wisdom of her years). Sadly, this girl isn't even from Boulder.
Jonathan gives this "story" a pretty thorough dressing down. I can't improve on his points.
Except to add a hearty "ha ha ha."
|On the Supreme Court. . .
Huh. SCOTUS actually decided to pass on a chance to oppose a Bush administration anti-terror effort. Color me surprised. I guess Justice O'Connor must have been out of town. At the very least, I was expecting SCOTUS to make a big spectacle out of it. But, credit to them, they simply passed on it. Hmmm.
|On the Primaries/Caucuses Race. . .
Three trends I've noticed. One, the number of undecideds in almost every poll from every state (see RealClearPolitics) is between 25 and 30%. This is astounding. It also seems to indicate that there will be a great deal of movement soon. Two, Howard the Duck cannot get his numbers any higher--he's peaked. Now, sure, he's still in the lead almost everywhere, but the real question is which way do the undecideds break and where does the support for the dropouts fall. And three, the person doing the best in recent polling, while being nearly invisible, is Wesley Clark. Perhaps a lesson?
When the best way to make inroads to this Dem nominating process is to just shut the heck up, you know there's a bit of a problem with the message.
|On Paul O'Neill . . .
So, a man who was fired doesn't particularly care for the leadership style of the man who fired him. Really?
So, a man who was fired for opposing tax cuts wants to 'expose' his boss shortly after those tax cuts seems to be really doing the trick. Er. . .
So, a high level official gets fired and somehow manages to leave the building with thousands of pages of documents. ??
So the administration of the USA had a plan in place for the invasion of Iraq three years before actually going to war (and, coincidentally, eight years after being at war). Mon Deiu!! Of course, never mind that we probably have in place scenarios for the invasion of a dozen other hot spots around the world.
I don't think this means very much. Reagan's first Treasury Sec did the same sort of thing after being removed from the job. And the veracity of some of O'Neill's "evidence" has already been fairly thoroughly debunked (thanks to Powerline). The idea of investigating him doesn't seem to have any political upshot, but it could be kinda fun, I suppose.
Paul O'Neill needed his day in the sun. Great. I bet he'll be surprised at how quickly his newfound "friends" dump him after about a week. And the long-range effect will be negligible. Way to go, Paul--good idea.
Big thanks to Richard for a heads up on updating my template.
You will begin to notice bigger changes to this sight in the days to come, as I attempt to stretch my techincal knowledge. And where that falls short, the other members of RMAB have been very generous in offering ideas to bring this up to specs. I appreciate it, guys.
|Speaking of Limbs. . .
I, as I imagine most, was disappointed at the job growth numbers from this morning.
Now, this is not my field. . . But is it possible that these numbers are somehow masked. If memory serves, the first weekend of the Holiday shopping season featured a massive blizzard which slowed down retail sales across the board. Could it be that this event, and its effect on sales, also put a mute on the seasonal hiring?
Again, this is not my field. It's just that the numbers were so surprising, given the other economic numbers, that some explanation has to be out there. And I'm not just trying to find a spin--before my other interests, I try to find truth. So if this is somebody's field, and you can explain this outlier to the economic news of late, please feel free to enlighten me.
|Fish In A Barrel
At this rate, the President can just start transferring his campaign stash out to Senate candidates. One day after pulling ahead of John Kerry for the first time, Wesley Clark goes and jumps on the same rhetorical limb Howard the Duck (with a nod to Jonathan) has been living on all these weeks.
What is it with these guys? I'm actually starting to feel bad for Joe Leiberman--not only does he have to share the stage in this incessant stream of "debates" (with a generous definition of the term) with the likes of Kucinich, Braun, and Sharpton, but then two of the serious candidates start sounding like Raelians (did I spell that right?). And, of course, with John Kerry almost always sounding like a Raelian, it really makes you wonder about the demise of this party.
Leiberman's got to feel like the guy who scores tickets to the Super Bowl but gets caught in a StarCon crowd and can't find his way out.
Which leads me to another line of thought: let's start identifying the Dem candidates with villians from SciFi. I'll start: Dennis Kucinich as the Ric Moranis Darth Vader from "Spaceballs: The Movie."
You know, it was inevitable that this late-night posting would unbalance me eventually.
|A Thought and a Prayer. . .
for the souls and to the families of our servicemen killed in action today in Iraq.
I'm horrified by the reports from Georgia about Jerry William Jones. I have two girls, and by the time they were ten months old they owned me--a ten month old smiles, laughs, some of them walk, they have distinct personalities, and they respond to the sight of daddy. I cannot imagine any circumstance that could push a father to the extreme of strangling your own infant. I am just very happy and thankful that the three remaining girls were found unharmed (at least, physically).
Normally not a big death penalty guy, I tend to go along with Jaredon this one. At any rate, a short stint in prison ought to take care of this guy, in much the same way that Jeffrey Dahmer was taken care of.
There is a special cell in the lowest level of Hell reserved for this monster.
|Give Me A Tall Ship. . .
I am very excited about the idea of the President pitching for a renewed space exploration program. When the electron was discovered, nobody had any idea what it could be used for; nowadays, I get to ramble on so anybody can read it only because of the electron. I don't know what's in space; I don't know if a colony on the moon is even feasible, much less useful. But I don't really care--the very idea of expanding our horizons will lead us to think bigger and to create a new sense of what people can accomplish.
And is it any coincidence that this President is the one to push for this? If nothing else, George W. Bush is a leader of boldness and vision. He has staked his Presidency on Iraq, with surprising positive results in Libya, Korea, and the Indian subcontinent. And this idea is the sort that Americans can rally around, and can inspire our idea of what we are like nothing since "Tear down this wall."
|Fly On The Wall
First, Howard Dean claims a (thin--anorexic, in fact) religious basis for his civil union support; then, late in the day I hear word of him turning down requests for interviews because his campaign staff won't let him. Coincidence?
Wouldn't you love to be at campaign headquarters every morning as the new reports of "what he said yesterday" come out? It must be deeply amusing to watch a team that has put together one of the more professional campaigns in recent memory try to deal with the least professional candidate anyone can imagine. Makes you think that this is a movement that was searching for a candidate and found Dean, rather than Dean being the serious impetus behind this--seriously, anybody this undisciplined has absolutely zero chance of putting together this organization.
Putting aside the obvious and easy dissection of the scientific premise for his claim, the best analysis I've seen of the "tin ear" aspect of this comes from Hugh Hewitt (no surprise). This is the sort of arrogance that kills candidates. Americans like swagger; they despise conceit, and claiming to know the mind of God is the ultimate conceit.
|More On Gay Marriage
I had the opportunity today to re-read the Massachusetts Court ruling from two months ago on gay marriage. A few new points occur.
Many hold equally strong religious, moral, and ethical convictions that same-sex couples are entitled to be married
Really? Religious convictions? Based on what religious text? No, these people hold no such moral positions--in fact, moral positions are repugnant to these people. This is one example of many in this ruling of arguments thrown in with no basis in fact or argument. Just to highlight the argumentative skills of this Court.
The only reasonable explanation is that the Legislature did not intend that same-sex couples be licensed to marry.
So who empowered the Judiciary to act in exactly the opposite manner of the intent of the Legislature? Once the intent of the law is understood, I thought it was the Judiciary's job to interpret, and ensure compliance with guaranteed Rights. The Right to Marriage is not one of these.
Exclusive marital benefits that are not directly tied to property rights include the presumptions of legitimacy and parentage of children born to a married couple.
Yeah, and State recognition of the marriage of two lesbians certainly increases the presumption of legitimacy and parentage of children of the couple. Right.
These are just a few examples of the silliness in this ruling. But the main point for me is this: if the Court decides that the State decides has no role to regulate marriage, than the state should get out of the marriage business altogether.
Here's my point of view. Consistent with my upbringing (as I mentioned earlier), I see marriage as a Sacrament--a Holy Union entered into by two persons with the blessings of the Almighty and facilitated by one of His disciples on Earth. The Grace bestowed on the married couple comes directly from God, and it is that Grace which gives the couple the strength to build a life together. The State has no role in this--its role is strictly licensing. So let the State grant licenses for those rights people wish to share with a partner, but don't call it marriage. The Justice of the Peace is not a representative of God, but of the State, so let him or her say "By the power vested in me I declare the State recognizes this contractual obligation."
"Marriage" is between two people and God. The state would be well served to get out of it and treat any such issue as a strictly contractual situation.
I expect this will draw some ire from some of those on the Right. That's okay--I welcome the debate. If this is to be a hot-button issue, I think we need to get on top of it.
By the bye, in the interest of full disclosure, one of my wife's close relatives is gay, and I have no issue with that and her. However, this relative is not happy, has not been able to maintain a stable relationship, and it seems that that is consistent throughout that community. That may not be the case for all gays and lesbians, but my own observations tend to reveal that there is nothing mainstream about that community that would justify overturning Common Law to accomodate very few who would take advantage of it.
In last nights' posts I referred to the Academic Bill of Rights (authored by Colorado Senate Majority Leader Jon Andrews (R)) 'goofy.' That might not be the right word, but let me elaborate on my thinking on this issue.
I was raised Catholic, went to public schools, got my undergrad at U fo Colorado-Boulder (the Peoples' Republic), my post-grad at Northern Colorado, and work in the field of education. By all rights and expectations, I should be a flaming liberal--but I'm not. At some point in this process, the rational thought process kicked in and I saw the world for what it is, which has led me to espouse the views that I have. And the facts show that those who are not still in the campus environment and have had to actually produce in the real world tend to go more Conservative (look up the 'education gap' from the 2000 election--Dems dominate with those who don't have degrees or diplomas). In fact, Victor Davis Hanson wrote a great piece a couple months back on how the generation that just ran roughshod over Iraq is the same generation that two years ago was just a motley collection of directionless, foul-mouthed, disrespectful punks.
I think the point I'm trying to make is twofold: 1. no matter how liberal-dominated the campuses are, there is little evidence of an overwhelming long-term effect on students' views; 2. at any rate, the campuses are, by and large, a self-selected environment which the government should do as little as possible to mold.
My father-in-law and I have discussions frequently about who's the greater threat to liberty--the right or the left. For reference, he's a labor-type Kennedy-style Dem. I make the case that the PC police from the left are the ones who are the greatest threat to our liberty. When we in the center-right start creating our own thought police, my argument loses a lot of power. Let Boulder, Berkeley and Boston be what they are--when the kids return to Arvada and Lakewood and have to earn a living, they'll figure out what's real.
|Howard Dean Then. . .
Jonathan has unearthed an interesting tidbit of a speech from responsible member of the Democratic Party. This member said that the war would be hard, and long, and we should answer the call of our generation like others before us. We'll call this responsible Democrat Howard Dean Then. Like the fiscal conservative Howard Dean Then who governed Vermont to balanced budgets during the economic boom of the 90's.
But, wait, which is the Howard Dean Then who so disregarded the Bible he knows so well to preside over the nation's first civil union law? Or, was the Howard Dean Then the one who doesn't want the election to be about "Guns, God, and Gays"? Or, maybe that was the pre-Now Howard Dean. Which leaves room for the Howard Dean Now that is a committed believer who prays daily.
Or is that Howard Dean Next?
All of which gives credence, in my opinion, to the idea that Howard Dean is running to the left for purely political calculus. Right now, in that Democratic Party, the only way to push the envelope and separate from the field is to go far afield. I doubt that will leave him the credibility to work his way back to the center come general election time.
Or, at least, it will geometrically increase the humor as he verbally contorts his way out of Howard Dean Then and Howard Dean pre-Now and all the others.
No wonder Al Gore endorsed him--this is the one candidacy that has the potential to erase the memories of his pathetic campaign.
|Doings in the Colorado Senate
The Majority Leader of the Colorado State Senate, Jon Andrews (R), said today that he will introduce legislation and a Constitutional Amendment that will begin to pare back some of the powers the judiciary holds in this state, and introduce the idea of accountability to the bench.
This has the potential to be the most far-reaching and important piece of business the legislature has to deal with this year (certainly far outstripping the goofy Conservative Affirmative Action on Campus action).
I was going to soon write an essay on the importance of balance, of the dangers of one-party rule (ref. California), and the reality that Colorado, though elected offices are dominated by the GOP, will never be one-party because of the judiciary. This act, on its face, would not remove the input of the liberal dominated bench, but simply restore it to its proper place in the balance of things. All you need to do to know the extent of the liberal leanings of the Colorado bench is consider the two recent rulings on redistricting and vouchers.
As a student (novice) of Eastern thought, I am a strong believer in the importance of balance. George Will has written that balance tends to reduce the ability of legislatures to enact laws, which tends to be a good thing. And, as we've seen in California, one party Democratic rule tends to be a debacle. We now have in both Washington and Colorado one party Republican rule; but until the judiciary stops acting as a separate liberal legislative body, there is a weak sort of balance. The point is, we've never seen true one-party GOP rule.
I, for one, am curious to see what would happen in that instance. I'm open to changing my mind about the need for balance.
|A Word on the MoveOn.org Ad
I've heard only one pundit--Dennis Prager--make the real point at the crux of the offensiveness of this ad. Certainly the comparison, made many times before, of George W Bush to Adolf Hitler is silly. Simply pointing out the similarities between the war powers the two leaders assumed is the total depth of that argument, totally ignoring the fact that Hitler was on record (Mein Kampf ring any bells?) with his hatred of the Jews and his intent to purge the Germans of them.
But the real point--and, in fact, one which carries the most weight with liberals--is the INSENSITIVITY of the comparison. To compare the incarceration in a time of war of hundreds of people who were captured while shooting at American troops to the annihilation of six million Jews is both absurd and offensively trivializing of the scope of the Holocaust.
As Hugh Hewitt is fond of pointing out, once you go for the Hitler card, you're admitting the weakness of your argument. This has now become the stock and trade of the far left, further marginalizing that movement.
Oh, and, Howard Dean supporters, all.
|I spent the hours after the drubbing the Broncos got handed them by the Colts contemplating another stupidity of sports: the BCS.
I get that the bowls want their revenue, and the conferences want their revenue from the bowls. But seriously, how did the Humanitarian Bowl get a January date? And when some very good matchups and interesting games get buried in the frenzy of too many bowls on one day, it just seems so natural to try to do something more logical with this whole system.
Would it really be that hard to define the seven most prestigious bowls, and set up a three-round playoff system, culminating on January 3-5? The bowls wouldn't start until after finals, the bowls would continue to exist, and in many ways have their value increased, and the revenue stream would continue uninterrupted. The lesser bowls, which everybody knows are meaningless now, can carry on in their same meaningless way, with money for everybody. Why is this so hard?
After watching a devastating defense bottle up the high-powered Sooners three days after an explosive offense ran roughshod over the Wolverines, I would love nothing more than to see a LSU-USC game to settle the score.
Of course, there is a value to a split championship: the only National Title my Buffs lay claim to is a shared one with Georgia Tech, so. . .
|A quick word on the successful Mars landing: YIPPEE!! I am a big fan of exploration, and I think the need to find out what's out there is as central to the human condition as shelter, sustenance, and companionship.
And, in a note of nationalist pride, note the success of a US mission in the same fortnight as a frustratingly inconclusive European effort.
Quick thanks, and a link to the other members of the Rocky Mountain Alliance of Blogs: View from a Height, Exvigilare, Mangled Cat, Exultate Justi, and Damascus Road.
|Rich over at Exvigilare has drawn my attention to this test, which is a much expanded version of the Political pH test I am attempting to create.
It is an interesting test, and certainly much more thorough than what I am attempting. However, I think it errs when it divides the world into only economic and authority concerns. Where is security? For that matter, where's foreign policy altogether? That is the one dimension notably lacking in this version (which may explain my proximity to Jacques Chirac on the graph), though it does shed great light on some of the same ideas I'm approaching. I would also take issue with where they decided to place the axes, but that's just quibbling.
|Only a Matter of Time
You had to know that somebody was going to make the case that the recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling on gay marriage was a simple case of small-government conservative judicial action. It's such a silly argument that I won't even comment on it--the piece ridicules itself.
Courtesy of RealClearPolitics
|Let's Add One More
This editorial in the Rocky Mountain News today reminds me of another issue:
THE ENVIRONMENT 0: member of PETA; 1: appreciate the natural beauty of the world (especially here in Colorado) but understand the necessity to life of things like mining and logging; hoping to achieve balance 2: Saruman; progress and development is worth any price
The idea espoused in the link is that PETA has gone so far out of touch with reality that not only do they equate the Holocaust with chicken farms, but that they are so far gone as to condone violence against people in defense of their "cause."
I wonder how many of these people are Howard Dean supporters?