My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


A Simple Thought

To those who have served, and to those who serve still. . .

Thank You. God Bless. And God Speed.


Hear, Hear!

I cannot recommend strongly enough P.J.O'Rourke's column from today.

Clearly, O'Rourke writes toungly planted firmly--and angrily--in cheek. Yet, even with the license created by affectation, he leaves out one crucial element of a new US policy: send the U.N. to Brussels (or Bonn, or Paris--or even someplace more representative of its membership like Mogadishu). Frankly, I don't care where the UN finds its new headquarters, it just shouldn't be in New York.

Seriously, though, there is some intense value in making the world contemplate an existence without the US. Europe wants to challenge US supremacy? Here you go, fellas--now's your chance.

Bold Rescue

Looks like the Saudis are taking terrorist pretty seriously. This raid and rescue seems to be a good indication of their willingness to confront the enemies within.

I wonder if they're going to let Americans (or anyone else) interrogate these guys. Wanna lay odds?

WWII Memorial

Jim has the President's speech posted at his site--worth the read (for those, like me, who missed the telecast).


Simple Observation

This morning I heard the Fox Morning Show interview of Bob Dole in relation to the dedication of the World War II Memorial. And something struck me. . .

At the risk of treading on touchy ground. . .I was struck by the difference between the Bob Dole generation's humble approach to its genuine heroism and the self-serving nature of John Kerry's approach to his service.

NOT to say that those who served in Vietnam weren't heroes or anything like that. Stories such as those of Ric Rescorla and "We Were Soldiers Once" resonate like anything from any generation. And the treatment of those who served in Vietnam by the American public--led by the likes of John Kerry--is a scar on the psyche of the nation.

But it is unimaginable to me to think of those veterans of WWII running an ad extolling the personal courage of their service--in complete denial of post-service follies--to score cheap politcal points.

I don't begrudge John Kerry his service 33 years ago; in fact, I honor it. But that does not immunize him from his actions of 32 years ago, or 20 years ago, or 13 years ago, or one year ago.

He would do well to imitate the quiet dignity of his predecessors.

Lighter Note

I was so psyched tonight--here I was, the family asleep, me on my own with a cigar (an occasional vice), some Scotch, and a Rockies game. And much to my surprise and joy, a game the Rockies were owning--up 2-0 going into the 9th. Hand it over to the closer and get it over with, a road shutout, happy happy joy joy. . .

Oh. A walk, another walk, a productive out, a bloop single, and Barry Bonds.

Oh, well. Still had the cigar and Scotch.


An Analogy

I was as critical, I think (though I may not have blogged it) about the military's choices in Fallujah and Najaf as anybody in recent months. Now, based on the relative quiet (though it could still just be a bad guy stronghold) in Fallujah and today's news out of Najaf I seem to have been proven wrong.

The analogy that comes to mind, and what I think may be a more useful way to think about things, comes from the martial arts. Americans tend to prefer a Karate/Taekwon-
Do model, in my opinion; that is, lots of fast movements, impressive athleticism, sharp, obvious strikes and kicks. I grew up on the movies of Bruce Li (I know--Jeet Kune Do: read his book--its a hybrid non-form (brilliant in its complex simplicity)) and Chuck Norris, and when given the opportunity, it is that art that I studied. But I think the military looks at things from a more Jiu-Jitsu perspective. If you ever watch a Jiu-Jitsu master at work (the Gracie family comes to mind), its a little bit ugly, not impressive, very slow and subtle. It really doesn't even look like they're trying to do anything. . .

And then all the sudden their opponent is screaming in pain with a joint about to snap or tapping out, unable to breathe.

The US military, as near as I can tell, took a very Jiu Jitsu approach to these two troubled cities. Particularly in Najaf, where the offensive was never overwhelming, never "impressive"--just relentless, unforgiving, and slowly constricting. Before Sadr knew what was going on, he suddenly couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't summon any support--and the city remains standing with a population clearly not in open rebellion.

Could there be anything more fearsome on earth than an opponent with an overwhelming ability to destroy you and limitless patience to let you do it yourself? That is what the US military seems to be.

I am hoping that patience will pay the same dividends with regard to bin Laden and with regard to Zarqawi in the next. . .say, six months.

Al Gore

Al Gore spouted off again today.


This guy has quickly become a poster child for how not to retain your dignity following a close loss.

Nonetheless, notice how he got the bulk of the news coverage today. . . NOT John Kerry. Today Gore, last week Pelosi, before that Kennedy--this guy is so boring that even the friendly media doesn't give him top billing.

I now understand why Florida Senator Bill Nelson's name has been floated as a Vice Presidential candidate--he may be the only person alive who can make John Kerry look dynamic in comparison.


The President's Speech

I didn't watch the speech, so I'll have to take others' word for it that it was well-delivered.

But I did read it. I thought it was thorough, hitting the high points of what needed to be accomplished. But it was still a little bit milquetoast, lacking the sort of line that would guarantee morning news coverage.

Like what sort of line might do that, I hear you ask. Well, if I wrote the speech (he he he--thank God, huh?) I might have included a line like this:

after "Our terrorist enemies. . .commit dramatic acts of murder to shock, frighten and demoralize civilized nations, hoping we will retreat from the world and give them free rein" I would have including something to the effect of:

They hope through their unimaginable acts to cause American willpower to waver. Already, they take comfort in those in America who advocate for failure; who seek to absolve the terrorists of their crimes by laying them at the feet of our policy and of our aberrents. They hope to induce us into the same weakness we showed in 1973, when we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and abandoned a friend and ally to the brutality of a misunderstood and misrepresented ideology.

But the America of today is different than it was 30 years ago. America today understands that we are vulnerable on our own shores; that we have a responsibility to safeguard freedom around the world as our best line of defense at home; and that there is no honor in retreat from a just, but difficult war, while there is great dishonor in blindly denying the truth in the interest of fleeting peace.

Something like that. And not a single "yet".

Missed the Debate. . .

Is there any way to get a transcript of the Coors-Schaffer radio debate from this morning? As much as possible, I like to go to primary sources of info (that is, sources unobstructed by the media slant).

If not, I'll be very interested to read others' opinions of the event.

In a related story, it looks like Mike Miles is giving Ken Salazar a serious push for the Dem nomination. Of course, he can't win. . .(or can he?) but he can certainly force Salazar to come out to play, which is the best thing that could happen this cycle.


Might Be Interesting

Newsweek is running a series of articles on the MSNBC website linking the lessons of Churchill and FDR to Pres. Bush and the current situation. While it is rife with the obvious politics we've come to know and love from Newsweek, it could be interesting to see where they take this.

In particular, I am fascinated by the figure of Winston Churchill. The Last Lion was brilliant, morose, witty, depressed, and--above all--fiercely independent. His years 'in exile' are perhaps history's greatest tribute to perseverence as a personality trait, and I will be curious to see if his lonely voice warning about the Nazis compares--or is compared to--George Bush's stance on Islamic terror.

Of course, it could be. . .not a huge stretch to equate the two. What will be interesting is if they do.

By the bye, I find it reassuring that this President has, as one of his historical heroes, the man I consider most responsible for the free world of the 21st century.


Headline Problems

Ben linked this story also, with the comparison to the Post version.

Me, I'll stick to the News.Today's headline: No. 2 in job growth; the lead graf: Colorado added 14,500 new jobs last month - the second-fastest growth rate in the nation - evidence that state employment is finally starting to rebound. However, the caption: State adds 14,500 positions in April but slump persists.

It's the "slump persists" that got to me. Way to find the cloud within the silver lining, boys!

Report From CD7 Convention

Went to the 7th Congressional District GOP Convention today. Interesting event. Of course, I saw Ben and his lovely wife, there working for Bob Schaffer. Really not all that many people there (maybe 500), and it was all done and under wraps by noon.

Of course, the big business was to nominate Bob Beauprez as the GOP candidate in CD7. Kinda a foregone conclusion, so not a lot of drama. However, Beauprez gave a very effective stump speech (he's gotten a lot better in the last two years) which had both raw meat for the party faithful and the sort of optimistic vision-thing that could easily break through to independents. He also gave a fiery acceptance speech that drew very clear distinctions between the GOP and the Dems, and made the point that nothing is for granted this time around and the only thing that could assure victory for our ideas was hard work. Pretty impressive.

The most interesting thing, at least to me, were the two speeches by the candidates for Senate. Both Bob Schaffer and Pete Coors were given the opportunity to speak, and there are pretty clear differences. First and foremost, Pete Coors is not used to the stump yet. His speech was disorganized, sounded unrehearsed, and was, frankly, kinda amateurish. But he comes across as a nice guy with an interest and a passion, if not experience. Schaffer, on the other hand, was well-represented by an organization on the scene, had a solid speech which he delivered with authority, and is clearly the more polished candidate. He also came out swinging--his third line was "I'm the only conservative in this race." I think it was obvious that he has the support of the activist faithful in the room, and he seemed to announce his intention to run to the right.

Which doesn't help my dilemma at all. I do think--and no offense to Ben or anyone else out there--that this Senate seat is too damned important to get hung up on the perfect at the expense of the good. I am very much a Hugh Hewitt Republican on this one--I will support the most conservative candidate that can win. So, though his credentials are good and he has polish, I remain unconvinced that an unapologetic conservative can win state-wide election in Colorado with the DSCC and its surrogates planning on pumping $12-15 million into the state. I know, I know. . .what about Bill Owens? Well, first of all, let's keep in mind that he's run against a couple warm bodies lateley, and that his unapologetic conservatism lost the GOP control of the State Senate in 2000. Also keeping in mind that neither Allard or Campbell are traditional, right-wing Republicans, and I'm concerned that a Schaffer candidacy meets the same fate as the Bill Simon candidacy in California in 2002. On the other hand, if this seat is that important, do you really want to turn it over to an amateur? Coors has simply got to convince me that he has more going for him than massive personal wealth, and today he was not up to the task.

So I remain undecided in the Senate race. I think my tendency is going to be give Coors the benefit of the doubt and hope he can get his feet under him. If he can't by primary time, then I'll support Schaffer.

And, more importantly, work to get him elected. Like I said, I'm one issue on this one. . .


This Just Came To My Attention

Apparently one of the last acts of the State Legislative session was the passage of HB04-1403.

This bill, with the unwieldy title "Longitudinal Measurement of Student Academic Growth," annually calculates the amount of each student's and each school's academic growth. In other words, as I posted about at great length earlier, the state's assessment of a school's performance will now be based on the progress of each student and student group as it ages, rather than different sets of kids in the same grade level in different years.

In other words, right now a school's "grade" is based on the following model: in 2002 the third grade at Purgatory Elementary had 58% of the students proficient or advanced; in 2003 the third grade at Purgatory Elem had 54% of the students proficient or advanced; therefore, Purgatory Elem must have been doing a bad job because the number of third graders Pro or APro declined.

See a problem with this model? Of course--you're comparing two different sets of kids. The third graders in 2002 were, of course, in fourth grade in 2003, so the comparison is not one that accurately reflects reality.

Under HB04-1443, Purgatory Elem will now be graded based on the performance of the fourth graders in 2003, the fifth graders in 2004, and so on. In other words, we would now base our assessment of a school's success on its ability to effect kids achievement over time. This is much better scientific design, and would be a much more useful tool in assessing the schools.

I will be writing an e-mail to the Governor encouraging him to sign this bill into law. I would hope that others would see this as a sensible reform of the Colorado Schools' Assessment Program, and would join me.


This Just Won't Go Away

48 Lawmakers have asked the Bishops to shut up about abortion.

The actual issue aside, what does it tell you about the character of these lawmakers that they would put their political interests above their faith?

New Kerry Ad

Saw the new Kerry spot during the evening news tonight--Service and Strength.

Gotta admit, first impression is that this is a good ad and a good line of attack. It's smooth, paints a very positive picture, and the uninformed are going to appreciate the positivity and the message.

So somebody better fill in some of the blanks. For instance, the ad says (not verbatim)John Kerry volunteered to serve his country in war, and when he returned he fought to end that war. Conveniently leaving out the piece that the way he fought to end that war was by propogating lies and distortions to convince Americans to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Also leaves out the piece of how, had he had his way, the Cold War would have also ended at the business end of a Kalishnikov after America unilaterally disarmed.

Nonetheless, a good ad--fairly easy to counter, though.


On A Lighter Note

There are 30 major league baseball teams, and each one of them plays 162 games every year. And major league baseball has been keeping statistics since, I don't know. . . the Peloppenesian Wars (little know historical fact: Trojan War actually a dispute over the use of the designated hitter. . .).

Which means when Randy Johnson threw only the 16th perfect game in Major League history (is that really the number? I heard that on ESPN and my jaw dropped) tonight against Atlanta, he accomplished a feat of extraordinary rarity.

One of the things I really like about sports, and baseball in particular: you never know as you're watching just when you're going to see history.


So Much News. . .

Too little time tonight. So I'll leave it at one quick hit.

I found the juxtaposition today of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board with the commencement of gay marriage in Massachussetts a laughable irony. Brown was not allowed to go to school; he was not allowed to eat in a restaurant; he was not allowed to free life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; he was not allowed to vote (symbolically speaking, in some states). By contrast, gays are not allowed to . . . get a piece of paper recognizing their marriage. Seriously? This is the uproar and the great civil rights battle of our time?

Kinda pales in comparison.



This one slipped under the radar a couple days ago: the FEC is not going try to regulate the 527 Independent Expenditure Committees. So I thought I'd pose a few ideas for ads that a good conservative 527 could run that the national committee--and especially the Bush/Cheney campaign--could never run.

:Clip of John Kerry saying he'll get the UN involved; clip of headlines about the UN Oil-for-Food scandal; Query--is this the organization American national security should be turned over to?

:Clip of John Kerry extolling the virtues of our "alienated allies"; clip of reports that a number of governmental people and agencies in France and Russia were benificiaries--to the tune of billions--of the Oil-for-Food slush fund; query--what would John Kerry have done that would have convinced France and Russia to forego the money?

:Clip of jihadists standing over the body of Nick Berg; clip of Ted Kennedy saying "the torture chambers are reopened under new management--US management"; clip of John Kerry saying he disagreed with how Kennedy "framed" that issue; query--is this the sort of moral leadership we want in the White House?

:Clip of GW consoling young woman in Cincinnatti last week; clip of GW standing in the rubble at ground zero; clip of GW breaking up in press conference shortly after 9-11; clip of GW among the troops at Thanksgiving; clip of Afghan women working in public; clip of Iraqi children in school; clip of GW promising to protect us "whatever it takes;" quote from Zell Miller about the importance of re-electing this President for the safety and protection of his grandchildren.

:photo of Miguel Estrada--"no vote allowed by Senate Dems"; photo of Janice Rogers Brown--"no vote allowed by Senate Dems"; rapid series of photos of other judges--'no vote allowed by Senate Dems"; clip of Mass gay marriage ruling; clip of Pledge of Allegiance case; "the Courts have never played a more central role in shaping life in America; tell the Democrats that nominees deserve a vote by voting for somebody else."

Come on, everybody. Play along. Let's have some fun.


I've been getting quite a bit of positive feedback for my post of a few days back "Why I Teach." First of all, thanks.

Secondly, every bit of feedback seems to indicate not just a respect for what I wrote about, but for teaching in general. In fact, one comment-er mentioned considering teaching for a next career (by all means, Joshua--you'll never love something so much that frustrates you so much (with the exception of family)).

This strikes me as very contrary to conventional wisdom. CW holds that Republicans hate public education and hate teachers. Of course that's wrong--Republicans actually reserve their ire for the union, which is actually not all teachers. But we play into that by our rhetoric, and distance ourselves from a huge portion of the electorate by not publicly acknowledging our respect for teachers.

So, for what it's worth, a bit of advice for Jessica Corry, Bob Shaffer, Pete Coors, and others running for office: talk to teachers. Don't assume because the union is way out to the left that you can't get teacher votes. This assumption also distances you from 'soccer moms' whose top issue is their child's education. TALK TO TEACHERS! Get to know what they think--you might be surprised. Sure, there's a bunch who you'll never reach; but there's a lot more who think about a lot of things and would love to have somebody listen to them.


Next Round of "The Catholic Thing"

I wanted to wait 24 hours to comment on the Pastoral Letter from Bishop Sheridan of Colorado Springs. If you've missed it, the thesis is "Sheridan singles out politicians who support abortion rights, stem-cell research and euthanasia, saying those candidates "ipso facto place themselves outside full communion with the Church and so jeopardize their salvation."" The reason for my delay was, for one thing, I wanted to wait and hear the response from the political class; for another, I needed to chew on what he said for a little while to see how I stand on it.

A key line from early in the letter:
For many, conscience is no more than personal preference or even a vague sense or feeling that something is right or wrong, often based on information drawn from sources that have nothing to do with the law of God. Keep this in mind when politicians who claim Catholicism say they vote on issues based on their understanding of the Constitution or the Supreme Court's rulings.

I don't, however, want to get too bogged down in a doctrinal debate. The first point of interest for me is how the political class will respond to this. To pull a few quotes out of the Post and News stories:

from Mike Miles, Democratic Senate Candidate (and non-Catholic): The notion of clerics or some other religious leaders really controlling a political situation is anathema to democracy. . .Right now, we have people fighting to build a democracy in Iraq, and we don't want to see religious clerics controlling their political system. . .I don't think that's too great a stretch or a false analogy" Except for that whole forced worship thing. Catholics do have a choice to stay in the church or not--Iranians and Saudis really don't.

from Bill Ritter, Democratic DA of Denver (a Catholic): "I just think this is a tragic direction for the bishop to take," Ritter said. "My great fear is that it will drive Catholics away from the church, Catholics who abide by the church teaching in everything they do,. . ." You know, perhaps except when they're exercising their greatest right in our democracy--VOTING.

from Terry Kelly, Denver attorney (and Catholic): "American bishops are neither equipped by education nor life experience to understand democracy, especially the concept of woment's rights within a democracy. If anybody has left the church, these guys have. They've gone Taliban." Taliban? Really? I'm trying to remember the last time I saw a group of thugs strutted around under the auspices of the Church beating and stoning women for having an abortion, much less the far more heinous crime of . . .SHOCK. . . not covering their heads. Besides which, is the Post trying to intimate by running this quote that there are those who think Bishops are stupid?

Curiously, Ken Salazar was silent on the issue. Might have learned a lesson or two a couple weeks ago, huh?

Predictably, Democrats who identify themselves as Catholics are going to be apoplectic about this. And not just because it's inconvenient. If I may slip on my amateur psychiatrist hat for a moment, I think the reason for their discomfort is much more fundamental: this, and Archbishop Chaput's recent writings, have forced an internal crisis within these Catholics. At some point, at some level, they have to look in the mirror and decide if their Faith is more important than their politics. This will force an examination of paradigms, and that is never a comfortable pursuit. Perhaps, just perhaps, this will drive lefties away from the Catholic Church; or, perhaps, this will cause a slow seismic shift in the way the country looks at abortion.

On the second level, I am not quite as comfortable with this statement as with earlier statements from bishops. For one thing, I think voters tend to vote on a variety of subjects, and while abortion is one of them, I'm not sure it is a top-three consideration. Even Catholic voters, who tend to think in very socially liberal ways, especially with regard to social spending and the governmental safety net, only split their vote in 2000. For my part, reducing the election process to one issue dramatically oversimplifies things; besides which the edict about denying communion will be impossible to enforce. The Catholic Church also opposes the death penalty--why wasn't this mentioned by the Bishop? There is a justification within Church doctrine, that of institutional and societal self-defense, but this is still a point of deviation.

Bottom line is I applaud the Bishop for his bold stance (though, granted, it doesn't effect me), and I think more religious leaders ought to try to point out the connection between personal morality and electoral choice. However, I don't think this will, in the long run, be good for either the Church or the pro-life movement.


Sound Advice

I followed the advice of Hugh and others and read the Victor Davis Hanson piece at NRO today. I was going to pull out the 'money quote' and put it here for your perusal; unfortunately, the piece is rather dense with 'money quotes. So you're just going to have to go read it for yourself.

If you've never read VDH, do yourself a favor: seek him out regularly. He seems to be one of the few voices, and certainly the most eloquent, capable of looking at the whole thing with a very long view. Quite refreshing--and bracing.

To Back Up An Earlier Idea . . .

About a week ago I wrote that the White House seems to be weak in the arena of controlling a story line, as evidenced by sending Rumsfeld to the Hill on the same day as a staggeringly good jobs report.

Well, here's this off the Rasmussen Reports home page, home of the Rasmussen Tracking Poll:

As Americans assess the economy, geopolitical events have overwhelmed Friday's report of job creation. The Rasmussen Consumer Index, a daily measure of the nation's economic confidence, has fallen for four straight days. Normally, that Index would have made double digit gains following a better than expected employment report.

It's not just that the media is intent on burying good news for the White House; it's also that the White House makes it so darn easy on them.

Why I Teach

I had a remarkable evening a couple nights ago. As many of you know, I am a teacher--and not just an ordinary classroom teacher: I teach elementary music. Two nights ago I had my program--150 students representing 5 schools in a highly impacted part of Jefferson County.

What made that night remarkable was that the performance ended with a standing ovation from the parents in the audience. And not to be self-congratulatory--I had little to do with this. These students who performed get to see me twice a week for 30 minutes, and that's only when they're not going to field days, or on field trips, or taking tests, or doing one of the thousand other things which keeps them from coming to my class. So, really, whenever they perform well its merely the result of decent planning on my part and a lot of hard work, effort and concentration on their part.

What does a standing ovation say? Well, among other things, it says to the students that their parents cared enough about them to come out to a performance tonight. It says to the parents that their children had enough pride in themselves and their performance to put it together and perform it well. It says to the gathered community that music is a common value of theirs and that they recognize its importance and its role in their children's education. And it says to a kid "you've accomplished something estimable--feel good about yourself"; and it says to the parent "your child has accomplished something estimable--feel good about yourself."

Now, let's be honest--this was a performance by students who have been playing one or two years. No matter how good it was, it was still just that--a very young band and orchestra performance, which brings with it an inherent degree of sonic pain. But to see a student's reaction to their parents give them a standing O, or to see the pride in a parent's face as they are delivering the standing O, is worth all the pain. Totally. Well, almost totally.. .

My point is, teaching gives me an opportunity to be a part of some very special moments in the formation of the next generation. And frankly, I don't care how many of them continue to play their instruments for the rest of their lives. I hope they play and enjoy it for many, many years, but the lessons of hard work, energy investment, performance, and reward are far more important. These are what I hope stick with the students--these are the skills that transfer to "real life".

At both the RMAB BBQ a few weeks ago and at the JeffCO Assembly, I got strange looks when I told people what I do. "A teacher, an artist, and a center-right Republican?" Yes. Teaching is important; it is our best hope for changing the world. And, as my friend and fellow trumpet player Rich Duston (Exvigilare) can attest, music performance is very Republican: when you put the horn up to your face, it's go time. You and you alone are responsible for what comes out the other end of the instrument, and if you haven't done your preparation, you're going to have a miserable experience. And, from a market perspective, if you can't play, you won't work. Even though we all get playing jobs based on who we know, the fact is you don't get a second job if you can't play. It is the ultimate meritocracy.

So, while I believe the teaching profession is screwed up perhaps beyond hope, the actual job of teaching is great. And I think, contrary to perception, 70-75% of teachers are very much like me--they just want to do good things for kids. Sadly, there's the 10-15% of social engineers who want to turn schools into ideological Petrie Dishes, and another 10-15% of incompetents and burn-outs who hide behind the skirts of the union. And it's that 25-30% that the public hears about and hears from the most; the 70-75% are too busy to make headlines.

Wrong Question, Wrong Interviewee

I just caught a little snippet of Neil Cavuto tonight. At the top of the show he had on a rep from CAIR and one from the Islamic Anti-Defamation Organization and an Imam from the Central Florida Islamic Something-or-other; he asked the Imam if he found it curious that the newsapers in the Islamic world were barely covering the Nick Berg murder, or if they were, they had it on an equal standing with the Abu Graib story.

My first reaction was "Why would this be curious? Look at the American media?" I find it interesting and troubling that somebody as smart as Cavuto would take the position that Islamic papers should somehow be any more balanced or responsible than US papers. Or, leaving Cavuto out it, even more troubling that Islamic papers, it turns out, are actually about as balanced and responsible as the NYTimes, the WaPost, and the LATimes.

America's fifth column is taking a remarkably strident and obvious position in this contest--the one for America's soul. I hope there is something that we--the 'red-staters'--can do to balance that position. I just fear that Joe Sixpack voter is a little too disconnected to look for the truth themselves.



In your mind, try to juxtapose these four images:

:The meat grinders in Saddam's prisons, through which he and his henchmen regularly fed limbs off of living people and children while their parents were forced to watch

:The images we have seen of the abuse of prisoners in Abu Graib; if you like, extrapolate out and make those images even worse

:Ted Kennedy on the floor of the Senate saying "Saddam's torture chambers are reopened under new management; US management"

:and the image of a screaming, writhing Nick Berg right before the third and ultimately fatal blow struck

Now, let's try to put these images on a scale of horrors from one to ten, ten being an inhuman act of barbarism, zero being normal behavior. Honestly, and not to belittle them, but do the pictures out of Abu Graib, next to the two others, even register a six or a seven? Five? Of course not. And what's the difference? The American authorities will throw the full weight of the military justice system at those guilty in Abu Graib, and the so-called "moderate Arabs" will say nothing and do nothing about the far more heinous crime committed against Nick Berg.

I wanted to wait 24 hours before commenting on Nick Berg (may God be merciful on his soul). I wanted to see how the story played out. And, having waited, my conclusion is this: we are not at all serious about this war. For a brief instant after 9-11, I thought we were serious. That is long gone. A quick review of a few different media today could make my point: one reliably lefty radio show was going on about how the murder of Berg was Rumsfeld's fault for not preparing better for the after-war; Chris Mathews had Lim Lehrer on, and five minutes into their conversation had still not asked about Berg but had spent five minutes on Abu Graib; the MSNBC website doesn't even have a story linked about the murder; and channel 9 news in Denver, after 6 minutes at the top of the broadcast, had not addressed the issue.

So half the country is wilfully ignorant and pathologically incapable of recognizing that they are in a death match against an enemy that is wholly without scruples, without boundaries, and without any common ground from which to negotiate. That half of the country also thinks if we just talked to them long enough they would leave us alone--against all evidence. And that half of the country has roughly half of the power to decide what direction this country takes.

Again, WE ARE NOT AT ALL SERIOUS ABOUT THIS WAR. And the problem is, it's entirely possible that the result of that may someday mean my daughters have to face a horrible death.


Time To Speak Out

I have been reluctant to comment on the Abu Graib/abuse thing. I'm not really sure why--mostly because the whole thing shows Americans being repugnant and I hope that these Americans face the full force of the military legal system.

That said. . . ENOUGH WITH THE APOLOGIES ALREADY! And I'm getting pretty damn tired of the concern for the "Arab Street."

Saturday Dan Caplis had a discussion about the release of the new, worse photos and videos out of Iraq, and his point was that these should be repressed because it could cost Americans lives. While I love the motive, the logic doesn't hold. What? If the "Arab Street" sees these are they suddenly going to start targeting civilians for murder? Oh, no, wait--they already do that. Well, maybe they'll be so angry that they'll start indiscriminately blowing stuff up. Oh, no--doing that already, too. Well, it make them so mad that they kill people, burn their bodies, behead them, drag them through the streets, and then hang them from bridges. Oh, no--did that one too. Well maybe they'll stab them, then shoot them, then beat them, then kick them, then burn them, then kill them. . .

My point is, I don't think the monsters engaged in the insurgency really give a rip about what Americans do to prisoners.

However, in that the worst front of this war may be the domestic political front, I think these pictures could do irreparable damage. Already we've seen some monumental bloviating in the Senate (Al Jazeera headline: Senior US Senator Announces "Saddam's Torture Chambers Open For Business), and a big bloc of Senators refusing to support the funding of the war effort. If these pictures become a My Lai-type rallying point for the Dems, then the domestic support for this war could collapse and THAT ENDANGERS AMERICAN SOLDIERS' LIVES, not to mention the potential damage to defending the homefront.

I hate censorship. But consider the American support of the war effort had pictures of mothers and children lying in the streets of Dresden been front page stuff in 1944 or 45--would we have had the stomach to finish the war then? I'm pretty sure our stomachs are more delicate today. And this war is too important to back away from because it's messy.


Hire A New Communications Guru

Sometimes the Bush White House seems so intent on not seeming political that it just seems inept. A couple weeks ago the President schedules a press conference on the same day that AG Ashcroft is set to testify before the 9-11 Commission. Surely the White House knew that the AG was going to drop the bombs on Jamie Gorelick's head the way he did; and they also had to know that a Presidential press conference would dominate the news cycle. So why didn't they put the presser off for a day so that the headlines could have been "Ashcroft Points Out Gorelick's Role in Building Wall" instead of "Bush Speaks to the Press; Faces Tough Questions and Calls For Apologies". Yeah, sure, the Ashcroft thing was in the papers--on page six. That, however, could have been an important public relations moment that just got blown.

The same thought occurred to me today. I'm not sure exactly how much flexibility the SecDef had in scheduling his testimony on the Hill, but on a day in which the headlines should read "Recovery No Longer Jobless--288,000 New Jobs In April; Over 1 Million New Jobs This Year" the headlines will, of course, be all about Rumsfeld before Congress.

Hugh Hewitt wrote this week of the Pentagon's need to streamline its message manufacturing abilities. I would argue that that is a need throughout the administration--from the White House to the Pentagon to the State Dept and throughout.

I have always preached to my teams and groups that in a large setting, the voices of dissent will always be there--the trick is for the voices of assent to be louder. Right now the voices of dissent in this country, amplified by the mainstream media, are virtually uncontested, while the voices of assent are bumbling and slow. And as effective as the blogoshpere and talk radio are, they generally work best preaching to the choir. The undecideds have to hear both sides of the debate articulated well, and I'm not sure that that's the case right now. Face it--most of the news on just about every front lately has been very positive. But because that message is not being shouted out, we get treated to a five day feeding frenzy over Abu Graib.

This President is a strong leader with some remarkable men and women in his team around him, and they are accomplishing amazing things in the world. But they are not controlling the debate right now. And as encouraging as the polls are, given those circumstances, the undecideds will turn away from the President if his team can't get its act together. They can't rely on John Kerry being a complete boob for the rest of the year--if they do, November 2 could be a long night.

Again With the Stock Market Logic


Stocks Fall Following Strong Jobs Data

"Investors succumbed again to interest rate fears Friday, sending stocks tumbling after the government reported blistering job growth in April that far exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day with a loss of 123.92 points, or 1.2 percent.

The jobs data gave further credence to predictions that the Federal Reserve would hike the benchmark lending rate by at least a quarter percentage point at its next meeting in June. Many analysts expressed frustration that the market’s weeks-long angst over rates was distracting investors from a very positive economy and strong corporate earnings.

“Eventually, we’re going to have to come to the realization that the reason rates are rising is because of solid economic growth,” said Chris Conkey, deputy chief investment officer at Evergreen Investments. “The Fed has clearly indicated that they’re going to raise rates, and maybe that will let us start the transition into other opportunities.""

Yeah. Again. So, bad news is bad (though there hasn't been much of that lately on the economic front); mediocre news is bad because is makes us uncertain; and good news is bad because is fuels fears of the inevitable.

I'm so glad I didn't choose stock speculating for a career.

Still No Dents

You all know how I feel about polls. But it is interesting that even after the whole Iraqi prisoner abuse thing is going on, a Fox poll shows the Prez still holding a small lead and a NBC/WSJ poll that was conducted Sunday night and Monday night (this story broke Monday) has the Prez in the lead, as well.

At some point, George Bush's imperviousness to the attacks and bad news has to wear off--perhaps when the Dems nominate a real candidate. Seriously, an independent walks into a room and sees a leper and John Kerry, and would still rather walk over to the leper to strike up a conversation.

Just Nuts

First, sprinkle in little Tom Harkin and Charles Rangle; next pile on a helping of Nancy Pilosi and Joe Biden; add to the mix the 49 Dems' refusal (courtesy of Powerline) to "commend the troops"; then bring the whole thing to a . . . room-temperature mix. . .over the interminable utterances of John Kerry, and VOILA!! You have a national security disaster.

I know we have our share of nuts on the Right, as well. The difference is, when one of our nuts goes over the line, he or she gets called on it. When one of the nuts on the left goes over the line, they get invited to the table; they get a speech at the Convention; or they get put in party leadership.


Trying To Wrap A String

As I was driving around today, I was trying to consider what the likely reaction of the major education constituencies might be to my post from last night. What I realized was that it might be a lot easier to list the proponents of my idea--they would fit on one hand (maybe one finger (I'll let you decide which finger)).

For instance, let's guage the reaction of teachers to annual testing for all grades which has consequences to both student progression and teacher evaluation: BOOOO! I think even with the recent example of the Denver Teachers' Union approving a performance-pay plan, I do believe teachers unions would come out against this very strongly. Why? For a couple of reasons. The increased pressure on the teachers in the younger grades runs counterintuitive to the majority education mindset. Secondly, it removes their primary excuse: If I'm working in a room in which I know all the students can function at a third grade level, then I have no excuse for not delivering the third grade curriculum in a way that the students can absorb and perform. Thirdly, from a union standpoint, the numerical ability to demonstrate incompetence would increase the pressure on the union to be more supportive of dismissals for incompetent teachers, and that is anethema to the union.

How about parents? BOOOOO! First of all, it lays a portion of the responsibility at their feet, and nobody wants that when they can credibly avoid it. Imagine the outrage of the two career family who has raised their child on a steady diet of sitcoms and cartoons, who is suddenly informed at the end of Kindergarten that their child is not ready for first grade and will have to repeat Kindergarten--AND HERE'S THE TEST SCORE TO DEMONSTRATE THAT. Or, more likely, imagine the non-English speaking parent who is told the same thing. You can hear the outraged cries of "racism" from here, if you try. Or think older in life: the parent of a thirteen year old girl, who is in the middle of an ugly divorce, who is told that their child's repeated discipline issues have made it impossible for her to keep pace with her class, and so she did not pass the test and will have to repeat seventh grade. The point is, if you take the choice of promotion away from people and make it the conditional on specifically measurable criteria, then you will have a huge public relations problem with parents who do not want to deal with the fact that their child is only minimally able to function at their intellectual age. Also, generally speaking, I would say the Parent Teacher Organizations are only slightly less liberal than the teachers' unions, so anything that disrupts their carefully simbiotic status quo is reflexively rejected.

Would school administrators like this idea? I think there are some who would--until the parade of outraged parents arrive at their doorstep and they are confronted with a handful of teachers whose class performance demonstrates incompetence. On the other hand, a very creative person who is willing to extend themselves and create a revolutionary program design in a building could have a heyday with this. Seems custom-made for a charter school environment (which is another thing that will tick off the teachers' unions). Generally, though, I don't think administrators would be terribly happy to have so many decisions taken out of their hands.

How about the community at large? Perhaps some support here. Certainly local businesses might like the fact that there will be a segment of the workforce with employable skills immediately after completion of high school. I think a lot of people out there who don't have children in the schools would appreciate the accountability of the plan on all levels--though the grandmothers and grandfathers would be especially outraged if their own little angel were one of the first held back. There is a precedent for community support of such an idea: only five years ago Jefferson County approved a massive mill levy increase but only on the condition of test scores improving from year to year. But it is hard to say how widespread that support would be.

The only group I can imagine that would be uniformly amenable to my idea would be the parents of students who are high-achievers and who really feel stunted in the public school arena. These people could take advantage of the idea that college tuition could be partially handled by the state via the PPOR.

Perhaps I'm having a cynical day, but I do believe my plan could manage to anger a huge portion of the electorate.

Which, of course, does not mean it's a bad plan.


A Not-At-All Modest Proposal

I wrote at length last night about CSAP scores; it was prelude to a deeper discussion of education reform.

At current, schools are funded by a combination of sources (federal, state, local, user tax. . .) that funnel through the state, which then delivers to the school district a "Per Pupil Operating Revenue" (PPOR) from which is functions. The district then uses this money to pay for a variety of goods and services, including transportation, salaries and benefits for employees, and maintenance expenses. The district then passes on to the school an amount that represents each student in the school to fund programs, buy materials, and provide for building-level decisions about curriculum and support personnel.

To put some numbers to that: JeffCo Schools receives $5,776 per student from the combination of sources mentioned above. Incidentally, this is rather low compared to the average of the other six metro-area school districts, but I digress. . . Kindergarteners are funded by the state at 50% of that. In effect, the state gives between $5,000 and $6000 dollars every year for as long as the child is in the public schools, plus $2500-$3000 for that first year, to the school district for the purpose of funding one child's education (for context, I heard on the radio today that the PPOR in New York City is on the order of $14,000). And while a great deal of that money comes from local resources (property taxes, etc. . .) a large enough chunk comes from the state and federal governments that those bodies exert enormous influence and oversight on local school districts. Thus, local districts and individual schools are bound to make Adequate Yearly Progress, as measured by the CSAP test, and to meet Accountability Goals to the state and district.

Still with me? I know this is tedious, but it is necessary. The meat is coming up.

The big battle over standardized testing is how results of the test effect the monies the school and school district receive. Outstanding schools get rewarded, poor schools actually also get rewarded, but if they remain poor for too long they lose their standing, and the middling schools troll along as ever. When you tie financial incentives to schools for performance, the schools kick things into high gear pretty quickly, though that does not always translate all the way to the classroom. But built into this whole system is the assumption that the school is the only variable in the equation. Therefore, all incentives and punishments are geared at the schools and the teachers, with little or no meaning for the students.

The CSAP is a test that reports only in terms of a meaningless raw score, and how that score compares to the criteria for the test (Exceeds Proficient, Proficient, Partially Proficient, Unsatisfactory). Unfortunately, there is no method for reporting the progress students make, which, as I posted last night, is the best indicator of the effectiveness of the school and the teacher. For example, a fourth grader who enters the grade reading at a first grade level, and who reaches a third grade level by the end of the year still shows up on the test as Unsatisfactory--a black mark on the school and the teacher that are not indicative of how that year actually went. Again, little or no incentive for the student.

What I propose is an expansion of the testing program to encompass all thirteen grades. (I know, Kindergarteners and tests are a touchy subject, but we should know if a kid who is in Kindergarten is ready for first grade, and we can probably do this in a way that fits with what we know about 6-year olds). Reporting of test scores should now be given in terms of the developmental level of the student; for instance, a child reading at the level of a fourth grader in their 6th month would get a score of 4.6 (this method of reporting is in place and effective in Tennessee).

The performance of a school will now be given in terms of how many grade levels the average student in the school progresses in a single year, and a teacher will be evaluated on the progress that the individuals in their classroom make in a single year. It is a clean system, it is neat, and it provides specific accountability to the schools and teachers for the work that they are doing.

Here's where things get different. The state, for its part, will enact a contract with the students of the state that it will fund 12.5 years of education at the going PPOR--period. In addition, no student will be placed in a classroom until they have successfully completed the requirements of the previous grade, as measured by the test. So a student reading at 4.5 and doing math at 4.7 would never be placed in a sixth grade class room. On the other hand, an 8 year old reading at a 5.2 could very easily be placed in a fifth grade classroom to work among their intellectual peers.

The test must be made available at any time during the year so that students making extraordinary progress can attempt to 'test up' to the next grade level when they are ready. For those content to stay with their class, the test will still be administered generally at the end of the year.

Of course, there must be a safety net. If a student lags behind his or her age group for three consecutive years, despite intervention efforts by the school, at any time after the sixth grade, they should be re-routed into a technical or trade school. This must happen in time for them to learn a functional skill and be employable by the time their 12.5 years of funding runs out--assumedly, about when they turn 18. How much better would it be for the student and society as a whole to pass an eighteen year old with a Trade Certificate in hand and an employable skill than to turn them loose, as we do now, with a meaningless piece of paper and no prospects?

On the flip side of that, for students who are ambitious, if they happen to complete the twelfth grade test early--say, when they are only fifteen--then the state agrees to transfer the PPOR for that student to a state institution of higher learning for the duration of the 12.5 years of funding.

In other words, there is now only one graduation requirement: proficiency on the state test. This proficiency may be demonstrated at any time the student feels ready, but cannot happen after the 12.5 years of funding has expired.

For the schools, incentives must be created to guarantee that every student makes one years' progress in one years' time. For the school district, the onus of pushing schools along to make one years' progress--and to provide resources to make this happen--is squarely on them. And for the teachers, the clear numerical demonstration of their students' progress under their care will act (or should, with the help of the schools) to drive them to reach every kid.

For the students, the expectation and value of remaining with their peers will create a powerful incentive to come to school to work and actually learn. For the parents, the incentive is similar--and so much more powerful for them to properly prepare their children for school!

In this way, the burden of educating children is shared among the schools, the teachers, the parents and the students. This would truly be a partnership effort where the everybody at the table can focus on the learning of the student, which is, I would submit, the actual mission of public education. The state is relegated to a funding body with oversight of testing requirements, but little curricular control beyond that.

Tomorrow, I will attempt to shoot holes in my own plan. In particular, I will try to identify many of the groups that would vehemently oppose such a system, and, perhaps, address some of those concerns.


A Little Background

The state released the results of the 3rd Grade Reading CSAP today, and the news is mixed: 74% of the state's 3rd graders read at or above grade level. Now that's, frankly, an abyssmally low number, but it is better than last year's number. So we got that going for us. . .

In the days and weeks you will start to hear the usual suspects weighing in on the matter, I am sure. And the commentary will be fairly predictable: the Left, led by the teachers' unions, will decry the pressure of the tests and the lack of resources to accomplish their mission; the Right will renew their calls for school choice to get students out of "failing" schools, which will be notable in their presence in the news accounts of these results.

What will be missing from the equation, as usual, is any sense of student or home accountability for the student's failure to read. Seriously, by the time a child is done with third grade, not only should the classroom teacher know they can't read, and be doing something about it, in conjunction with a reading specialist, who will know the child can't read, and be doing something about it. But, in addition, the parents of an eight-year old child should know whether or not their student can read. And if they can't, there should also be efforts made at home to rectify the situation.

Unfortunately for everybody involved, the vast majority of these 26% of third graders who cannot read will be passed along to the fourth grade with a notation in their file that they need special help, and off they go. In many cases, between now and next fall, these third graders who cannot read will change schools, and the new school will have to take several weeks at the beginning of the next school year establishing what the child's strengths and weaknesses are so they can provide the proper level of assistance. Of course, in some cases, by the time the new school is able to make that assessment the student will change schools again. And whatever program they were running with to start the year--whether it worked or not--will likely be discarded as they change environments.

A crucial piece of information that is missing from the picture of third grade test scores is how well those students were performing at the end of second grade, and, for that matter, first grade and Kindergarten. I know it seems ridiculous to many out there, but when a student enters Kindergarten not knowing their colors or their alphabet or even how a book works in a mechanical sense, the odds of them being caught up to all of their colleagues by third grade are not especially good. So when you look at a school's third grade numbers by themselves, you may be looking at the result of a wonderful faculty doing great work with sub-par clientele, or you may be looking at an incompetent faculty working with a very strong client base. The point is, there is absolutely no way to tell from one set of numbers, and people who draw conclusions about a school based on those numbers are foolish and short-sighted.

The only way you can look at the numbers and have them mean anything in relation to quality of the faculty is if you look at cohort groups--the performance of the same set of students as they progress from grade to grade. That will tell you if the faculty is doing their job; if a cohort group shows substantial improvement over time, it is a safe assumption that they are improving under the tutelage they are given. It is much like a medical procedure--you don't start giving a drug therapy and at the end of six weeks measure how patients respond; the first step is to measure where they are to begin with. That way you are able to make a judgement about whether the therapy has an effect.

So I would encourage everybody out there not to get too worked up over these first set of numbers. Without historical context, they mean very little; and since Colorado does not test first or second graders, there is no historical context.

Tomorrow I will pose a radical reformation of education and testing procedures that would leave in place accountability for schools and teachers, while shifting a portion of the responsibility to the students and the parents.

We are fond of saying that education is a home/school partnership--I'd like to invite the home to the table. And not simply by giving the home its money back to take their kid somewhere else.


Good Fun

Well, the Nuggets may be eliminated, and the Avalanche are fighting their way back from the brink. But the Red Wings are out!!! I just got to watch most of the Wings-Flames overtime, and it was really good hockey--up and down the ice, good goaltending, hard hitting. Everything you want in hockey, with a Red Wings elimination loss to boot!

I just don't understand why this sport hasn't caught on more. Seriously, they're about to enter the big time, too, with a work stoppage slated for next Fall.


Further Thoughts On Nightline

I really didn't find Ted Koppel's recitation of the list of dead as offensive as, I think, some--read to my posts below for a full explanation.

However, I do find Mark Steyn's column on the issue both incisive and important. And Fox News is answering Steyn's charge--at some point this week (see the listings--I didn't hear the specifics) they are going to do a similar recitation. Only theirs will be of the important things that have been accomplished in Iraq in the last year.

I think it would only be appropriate to lament the dead--to wail and gnash teeth and cry about how unnecessary the war is--once we know the totality of what they died for. My guess is, the ledger will show that their uncommon valor bought an extraordinary transformation.

Ooops. . .My Bad

As I'm looking at last night's post, I realize I misspelled someone's name. So, the correct spelling is Jessica Corry, and the correct link would be here.


JeffCO GOP Assembly Day

I spent an envigorating morning in the fieldhouse at the School of Mines with 1000 like-minded citizens. It was a very interesting day for me, having only attending one other--2002--and that as an alternate. I was pleased to see Ben and his wife there; actually, I saw a number of people who I know. Which, I suppose, is saying quite a lot, being a teacher and all.

In my humble opinion, Jessica Correy (State Senate 19) gave the best speech of the morning--it stuck to the rules (Be Brief, Be Precise, Be Seated). Bob Schaffer gave an impassioned speech defending his electability. While I think it is impressive that he got 80% of the vote in his district in 2000, I am mindful that he was an incumbent in a heavily Republican district. I'm not sure those numbers have any ability to translate state-wide. Still, his speech was better than Pete Coors, who did not stick around to give a speech. I wish he would have--I would like to have something to go on to compare these two gentlemen. Maybe another day.

Jefferson County Schools was surprisingly well represented today. I had the pleasure of sitting one row in front of C.Hereford Percy, the second-newest member of the School Board. We had a good conversation about a number of education issues. He brings a strong background in finance to the School Board, and has a great attitude about his role. (Jessica Correy, if you happen upon this, he is in your district and could bring a wealth of ed info into your campaign). In the hallway I bumped into Jane Barnes, another new School Board member, and I saw Vince Chowdhurry--yet another school board member--canvassing the house for votes in the State House 22nd. Not surprisingly, I did not see any of my teaching friends there, though surely there were teachers in attendance.

Sadly, I had to leave a little early--one must honor promises to ones' wife. But I was happy to be a part of the process, and saw just how much work goes on behind the scenes in the county party. I even thought of a couple possible roles to volunteer for next time around. It really is all local.

I Like This Comparison

On the Right, we have the Kerry Flip-flops; on the Left, we get one of these (thanks to Powerline): Pinnochio, a chicken or a mule.

You know, for all the superiority of the Left that theirs is the creative, imaginative part of the spectrum, I do believe the Right takes this round, hands down.

From the Ranks Of "Bet You Didn't Hear This Excerpt"

Bob Woodward, whose book is this week's 'rage of the left' exposing the President, actually says that--at most--the President took at face value the repeated reassurances of George Tenet. According to the Wall Street Journal, who, it seems, actually bothered to read the whole book, Tenet called the WMD issue a "slam dunk" and the President was a "thoughtful and critical consumer of such intelligence."

Two things here: no wonder the White House has endorsed this book; and this still does no account for the WMDs. I think we got some inkling where some of them might have been a couple weeks ago (ahem. . .Jordan), but I have no problem believing that they are still out there somewhere (ahem. . .Syria).


I tuned in to the Nightline broadcast about ten minutes in, so I didn't hear any of Ted Koppel's commentary. However, sitting through about fifteen minutes of it, I found it to be inoffensive, and also rather antiseptic--kind of like listening to the list of graduates receiving their diploma on graduation day. In other words, I'm certain it's very meaningful to the person whose son or daughter is named, but I'm not sure it, after a while, means much to most people.

The one thought that kept coming back to me during this was "and these were all volunteers." These people paid the ultimate price because they served out of choice. Again, I think this next generation has the stuff of greatness in it.

Watching that also helped get the creative juices flowing to join the Tillman-tribute-through-poetry thing for Tarzana Joe. I don't, however, have the cajones of some of colleagues to put what I wrote out for general consumption, just yet.

Tactical Retrograde?

I'm not sure what to make of the pullout from Fallujah. I trust the commanders on the ground to know what is best, but. . .

I can't help but think this is going to cost us a lot of credibility in the Muslim world--and on a day with the whole prison-thing erupting, we don't need this kind of help.

On the other hand, if this general taking charge has the ruthlessness and dispatch to treat the terrorists in a way that we couldn't, perhaps this is a VERY good thing in the long run. Unfortunately, I doubt he will act how we would want him to.

Tactical Retrograde?

I'm not sure what to make of the pullout from Fallujah. I trust the commanders on the ground to know what is best, but. . .

I can't help but think this is going to cost us a lot of credibility in the Muslim world--and on a day with the whole prison-thing erupting, we don't need this kind of help.

On the other hand, if this general taking charge has the ruthlessness and dispatch to treat the terrorists in a way that we couldn't, perhaps this is a VERY good thing in the long run. Unfortunately, I doubt he will act how we would want him to.

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