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


Back From . . . The Kitchen

What better for a long holiday weekend than for a . . . remodeling project?

Yes, the last five days--and resultant blog silence--have been totally occupied with tearing down a wall, mudding up the hole, re-mudding the hole, painting the hole, trying to texture the ceiling to hide the hole . . .

Sound like fun?

On the other hand, my house looks about 100 sq. feet bigger, and the wife is reasonably happy, so . . .

Of course, this is just phase 1; as with all projects, it leads into another project, which leads into another project, which . . .

You get the idea.

All of which is my way of explaining my silence the last few days.

So, to re-enter the fray, I commend to you the much-commented on op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Senator Joe Leiberman. A pretty significant piece of writing, don't ya think?

I then commend to you the MSM coverage of this piece and the Senator's presser today.

NYT: nothing (at least not online as of 12:18 am MST)
WaPo: a short (in terms of column-inches) article in today's based on the Monday conference call
DenverPost: nothing (as of my press time)

Again, what liberal bias? A prominent Democrat, one-time candidate for Veep, writes an op-ed chastising some for trying to snatch "defeat from the jaws of victory" and he gets almost no press; another prominent Democrat, a decorated war hero, calls for an immediate withdrawal a couple weeks ago and he's got all the press for three days.

No wonder the country has no idea what's going on in Iraq.


Public Disconnected From Elites On Iraq War

Or so the headline would have you believe.

Negative press coverage of the war in Iraq in recent weeks has emphasized rising pessimism among the American public about the conflict. But a new survey found that 56 percent of the public thinks that efforts to establish a stable democracy in the country will succeed.

The survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press -- which also plumbed opinions of journalists, university presidents and others in academe, diplomats, government officials, religious leaders, members of the military, scientists and international security specialists -- revealed a marked disconnect between the perceptions of the general public and many of the so-called opinion leaders. [emphases mine]

When asked whether they thought democracy would succeed in Iraq, only 33 percent of the journalists agreed that it had a chance. The number was even worse in academe -- 27 percent of respondents thought the effort would succeed. Among the military, however, the number stood at 64 percent.

So, I suppose this is what Laura Ingraham is talking about when she mocks "elites."

But reading a little further reveals something quite interesting: the Pew Center's choices of "elites" all but guarantees a leftward skew among them. Among the findings:

:The Foreign Affairs sample was randomly selected from the membership roster of the Council on Foreign Relations.

:For the religion sample, leaders of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim organizations with membership over 700,000 each were sampled.

:The military leaders sample was drawn from a Lexis-Nexis search of retired generals and admirals quoted in American news sources in the past year.

Powerline did such a nice job picking apart the choices that I'll simply direct your attention to them for all the necessary information.

But, as an aside, have you noticed how this survey has gotten NEXT TO ZERO play in the MSM?


In The Words Of Our Greatest President

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. . .

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable [war] in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

Wherever you and yours are spending this Thanksgiving, may God continue to bless you and make his face to shine upon you. And, as you sit to feast, be sure to say a blessing on the men and women far from home in the service of their country.

[as an aside, anybody want to venture a guess whether or not the ACLU was in business in 1863?]

Long Weekend Straw Poll

Hugh Hewitt has up a strawpoll to occupy our thoughts over the weekend.

For the record, I changed my vote in this straw poll. Up until now I had given a slight nod to Sen. George Allen of Virginia, changing that to support Condi Rice in the "fantasy" poll.

But no more. No Senators need apply.

Clearly there is a tremendous vacuum of leadership in the Senate right now, and until that gets sorted out in a satisfactory fashion, I repeat, NO SENATORS NEED APPLY.

Therefore, I have cast my (completely meaningless) ballot for Rudy Guiliani. Is there anybody else anywhere that has the record of true leadership that Rudy has? I can't think of anyone right off the top, and that's why he jumped to the top of my list.

Follow the link above and give voice to your own thoughts.


Democracy Is Taking Hold Faster Than I'da Thought

This is encouraging:

Iraqi leaders at a reconciliation conference reached out to the Sunni Arab community by calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces and saying the country's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance. . .

The communique condemned terrorism but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists . . . [emphasis mine]

Not terrorists? Why, it would seem they've come even further down the road to true,
American-style democracy than we could have ever come to expect. Why, such clear-headed use of language sounds positively . . .


By the way, if you didn't know it already, I am being QUITE sarcastic as I post this. However, that sort of dithering about language is awfully PC for people who are defending their country from people who drive explosive-laden trucks into crowds of children. Quite senatorial.

Of course, that's not exactly what the article says; that IS, however, how I've heard it reported twice today. The completion of that sentence is:

The communique condemned terrorism but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if they don't target innocent civilians or institutions that provide for the welfare of Iraqis.

That's a pretty useful "if" clause. Does, however, make one wonder why it's getting reported the first way. Hmmmmm . . . . .


This Speaks For Itself

As of 10/31/05, Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Cash on Hand: $9.1 million
As of 10/31/05, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Cash on Hand: $20.5 million

(via Hugh Hewitt via Byron York via PoliticalMoneyLine)

As adept a fundraiser as Chuck Schumer is, there is almost NO chance that this is due strictly to his acumen. Also, given the other numbers (which show both the RNC and the RCCC well out in front of their Dem counterparts) there is very little chance that this is an indicator of a fundamental shift in the body politic.

No, this is almost certainly the result of an inept and rudderless Senate GOP. Those who give their money are those who, very likely, gave their money two years ago and four years ago, both in the expectation that judges would get confirmed, ANWAR would be opened up, tax cuts would become permanent, and the Senate would be firm in its support of the President in the War on Terror. NONE of those things have happened with the regularity it should have.

When you don't deliver on your promises, people don't pony up their support so willingly.

I wonder what the Colorado picture looks like. (anyone, anyone?)


OOPS. Heh-heh, My Bad

Or so Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would have you think.

An audiotape in the name of al-Qaeda in Iraq threatened on Friday to chop off King Abdullah II's head and bomb more hotels and tourist sites.

The speaker on the tape, identified as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also said the group's suicide bombers did not intend to bomb a Jordanian wedding party at an Amman hotel last week, killing about 30 people. . . .

He underlined that al-Qaeda in Iraq is not targeting fellow Muslims. "We want to assure you that ... you are more beloved to us than ourselves," he said, addressing Jordanians.

Hmmmmm. Guess a little popular backlash against Zarqawi from within the Muslim world has the ability to force him to backtrack a little bit. THERE'S A LESSON IN THAT, IRAQIS!

Of course, he did also threaten to cut the head off of King Abdullah, so probably a little less chastened than one would hope.


That was the vote on a "Sense of the House" resolution put forward by the House GOP leadership on the heels of John Murtha's call for a withdrawal from Iraq yesterday.

403-3. Guess that newfound courage of the Democrats couldn't quite survive the bright lights of day.

I watched some of the debate--hardly Lincoln-Douglas, let me tell you. The basic Dem line was "it's not right to question the patriotism of a man who served his country for 37 years in the Marine Corps." Of course, nobody questioned his patriotism; we all questioned his judgement. My favorite moment was from a younger member of the GOP caucus who came to the podium, said "Rep. Murtha is a friend of mine, I respect his service, and I think he's a great American. But this isn't about his service, this is about his headline." And then proceeded to show the translated version of the Al Jazeera headline from today. Pretty devastating.

Maybe we can all enjoy our Thanksgiving with a little bit of quiet from the Seft.

Yeah. I don't think so, either.

This Patient Can't Be Saved--Just Make Him Comfortable

I'm sure that somewhere, in some incarnation of the TV medical drama, some story has been told about a person who refuses to do what is good for him until he has bled out so much that he couldn't be saved. It sounds very "ER" to me, but I can't think of the exact episode. But you can picture it--brave and noble but foolish character continues to take abuse from some slob until it finally gets to be too much; sadly, by the time he fights back, enough internal damage has been done that the character cannot be revived despite the heroic efforts of the TV doctors who unsuccessfully apply an experimental procedure which is his only hope.

Or something like that. But I digress . . .

Consider that story line in light of the President's current poll numbers (via RealClearPolitics). Today's RCP average has the President's approval down at 38.8%; Rasmussen, the only service that runs a daily tracking, ticked slightly upward last weekend after the President's Veteran's Day salvo, but has since slipped back to his all-time lows at 42%.

What does this mean? In my opinion--scholarly and informed as it is--this means that the President waited WAY too long to deliver a defense of himself and his policy. The constant drip of anti-Bush rhetoric, starting with the whole Cindy Sheehan fiasco in August, finally bled him out enough that even fighting back did nothing to recoup the state of the Presidency.

Is it final? Of course not. Facts on the ground constantly change, and anything can affect the perception of the President's job. But, unfortunately, in the process of not defending himself, the President has allowed his strengths to be eroded; in particular, the public perception of his truthfulness and trustworthiness to defend the country are now both in the negative range.

And that sort of thing is hard to recover from.

It will take some sort of major event--the death or capture of Zarqawi or bin Laden--to recover from this malaise, I fear. I know the President (being a baseball man) is taking the long view of events: three years to go before he has to pass the torch to someone else, with three years to continue strengthening Iraq, holding elections, and, hopefully, pulling back the U.S. involvement. And with luck, three years is enough time to manufacture a major event. But there is a pretty big thing going on in the interim (a little thing called an election) which consequences (SCOTUS, the larger GWOT, tax relief) are pretty darned important, also

The Surrender Caucus Has Announced

or . . .

How Far We Have Fallen

One of Congress' most hawkish and influential Democrats called Thursday for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, sparking bitter and personal salvos from both sides in a growing Capitol Hill uproar over President Bush's war policies.

"It's time to bring them home," said Rep. John Murtha, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, choking back tears during remarks to reporters. "Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty."

Now, I realize others, most notably the Instapundit, have found the record of Rep. Murtha going this route once before. But I don't remember it getting the MSM attention that this little flight of fancy got, and I don't think it came as a response to an aggressive campaign by the White House to defend its policy, except in the context of the campaign. At any rate, there is no way around the reality that this got major play in the media tonight, which makes this the Democratic position, for now.

In other words, until Joe Lieberman, or someone like him, comes out and says that the Democratic Party is not in favor of an immediate withdrawl,this is the latest default position: surrender.

I'm so proud.

Of course, buried in that statement are two little nuggets that the good Representative needs to be questioned about further. One: does he really feel that the military has accomplished its mission? and, if so, how does he feel about those in his party who have accused the military of atrocities and failure? And two: choking back tears? Really? When did the U.S. Congress become such a haven for men getting in touch with their inner child/feminine side? First Voinivich, then the Ted Stevens meltdown, now this? It's all quite worrisome.

Which brings me to the next point--how far we have fallen.

Let's just take a look at the analogy the Democrats want to draw to Vietnam. And let's for the sake of the argument, say that the signing of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is the "official" start of the major U.S. involvement. So let's compare where we are now, roughly 30 months into Iraq, with a similar status at about February, 1967.

Troop strength: Iraq--150,000 (all volunteers)
Vietnam--over 385,000, plus some 60,000 offshore (all volunteers)

Casualties: Iraq--roughly 2,100
Vietnam--over 8,000 by the end of 1966; another 11,000 KIA in 1967

Status: Iraq--regime change; two successful elections; some domino effect around region
Vietnam--no notable victories or political progress

American response: Iraq--some small protests evident, but not regular or widespread; Democratic Party preparing for abandonment
Vietnam--small campus protests evident; major protests did not begin until 1969 when draft was reinstated; political support solid but wavering; real calls to get out of Vietnam not evident until after Tet Offensive in Jan 1968.

The point I'm trying to make with these numbers is that we are in far, far better shape right now in Iraq then we were at a similar stage during Vietnam. And yet, there are those who are already calling for us to surrender, a thing which did not happen during the Vietnam War for another couple years from this point in the conflict.

I suppose it's easy to say that our forebears were made of sterner stuff than we are today, though I'd like to think that that current weakness is mostly confind to Washington; I suppose it would be easy to say that the cut-and-run caucus has learned well the lesson of thirty-five years ago about eroding support through a relentless barrage of wrong reporting and shouting louder than the other guy.

The problem is that the enemy has learned those lessons as well, and, unfortunately, that can only mean every goofball statement by one of the Democrats give hope and encouragement to the enemy that their efforts are not going unrewarded and that they will achieve their ends if they only wait us out.

Again, I'm so proud.


So, I Guess Joh Edwards Is Running Again

John Edwards all but announces his candidacy in 2008 in Sunday's WashPost.

He starts with an "explanation" of his vote to go to war, and says "I was wr . .wr . . .wr . I'm s-s-s. . .s . . . Okay, but it was HIS fault!"

I was wrong.

Almost three years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and what many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't as Fonzie-esque as I portrayed it. But, then, isn't the next logical question "Why would he do this?" Simple: he has to make peace with his base while not seeming delusional about historical realities a la John Kerry.

And then what? He offers a plan. Thank God, 'cuz what we were really lacking in this whole thing was HIS plan. Who needs Joint Chiefs and Generals and Soldiers and former soldiers when we can get the opinion of a former trial lawyer and senator?

A plan for success needs to focus on three interlocking objectives: reducing the American presence, building Iraq's capacity and getting other countries to meet their responsibilities to help.

First, we need to remove the image of an imperialist America from the landscape of Iraq. American contractors who have taken unfair advantage of the turmoil in Iraq need to leave Iraq. If that means Halliburton subsidiary KBR, then KBR should go.

Ah, yes--it's Halliburton. THEY'RE the cause of all the Iraqi's troubles.

Second, this redeployment should work in concert with a more effective training program for Iraqi forces. We should implement a clear plan for training and hard deadlines for certain benchmarks to be met.

Whew. I was wondering when someone would get a good idea about how to better train the Iraqis. Who'd a thunk it would come from the plasticine Veep-to-be?

Third, we must launch a serious diplomatic process that brings the world into this effort.

Now, why didn't Condi think of that? Probably too busy schmoozing the Halliburton executives while in Mosul.

Seriously, though, I can't think of a single more unqualified person to give this sort of advice who would actually be given column-inches by the WaPo than John Edwards. What a pointless exercise in trying to steal back a little of the stage that people who have jobs right now are occupying.

If the administration is serious about taking off the gloves, if Friday's speech wasn't just lip-service to engaging in the domestic war, then someone from the administration will be on every Sunday show swatting this tripe out of midair. And then someone should write a strongly worded rebuttal in the WaPo on Monday morning. And then Scott McClellan should go to the podium Monday morning and turn John Edwards into a punchline.

That is, if the administration is serious about engaging in the domestic war.


About Frackin' Time!!

The President today responded to his critics--FINALLY. Some highlights:

Last month, the world learned of a letter written by al Qaeda's number two leader, a guy named Zawahiri. And he wrote this letter to his chief deputy in Iraq — the terrorist Zarqawi. In it, Zawahiri points to the Vietnam War as a model for al Qaeda. This is what he said: "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam — and how they ran and left their agents — is noteworthy." The terrorists witnessed a similar response after the attacks on American troops in Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993. They believe that America can be made to run again — only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences. . . .

With the greater economic, military and political power they seek, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction; to destroy Israel; to intimidate Europe; to assault the American people; and to blackmail our government into isolation. . . .

Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. They are fanatical and extreme — but they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life." (Applause.) And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously — and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.

Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions in Iraq — claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001. (Applause.) The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom — and, yet, the militants killed more than 150 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan. . . .

The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. . . .

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. . . .

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination — and they wish to make everyone powerless, except themselves. . . .

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples — claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. . . .

And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure. . . .

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

I call this a good start in the counter-offensive. If anything, it may have been a bit too mild--I would have quoted one or more of the most irresponsible rhetorical flourishes from one of the Senate Dems and called them on it. But I do take this as a good sign that maybe the White House is getting off of its butt and engaging in this front of the War.

I found it very interesting how the President drew the analogy to the Cold War in all this. Perhaps he's positioning himself as the heir to the foreign policy legacy of Ronald Reagan, but it does also drow to mind the reality that the defeat of communism took over 40 years. A long and difficult struggle, indeed, and one that can only be won by a committed and realistic America.

Which is a point the White House should take to heart--they need to commit to this front of the War and be realistic that they MUST stay engaged and use the bully pulpit to overwhelm the lies of the Left.

My Favorite Actor--Must Read

Sorry, I hate to simply copy/link someone else's work, but this matters.

If you didn't see the Bruce Willis/Michael Yon segment on Rita Cosby's new MSNBC show last night (c'mon, show of hands: anyone? anyone?), you MUST read this transcript, courtesy of The Corner.

COSBY: Getting stories out of Iraq is not easy. Bruce Willis found that out firsthand when he went over to visit U.S. troops serving in Armed Forces. Tonight, we are rejoined by an independent blogger who is bringing back some amazing pictures and stories from Iraq, Michael Yon. And also again with us is actor Bruce Willis, who is back with us on the phone. It's great to have both of you here. You know, Bruce, I want to start with you. Last night, we talked a little bit about what's happening over in Iraq. You said the media isn't covering the full story. What are we missing?

BRUCE WILLIS, ACTOR: I am baffled to understand why the things that I saw happening in Iraq, really good things happening in Iraq, are not being reported on. [ed: easy--MSM guys are SCARED to go out where the real story is] Michael has been over there, was embedded with the members of the Deuce Four, you know, the battalion that actually won the battle for Mosul, that -- Michael, correct me if I'm wrong -- these are the guys who allowed the election to take place, the election that happened just, you know, a couple months ago, to take place, which is, you know, just a monumental thing. And it's not being reported on.

COSBY: You know, Bruce, you know, let's face it. A lot of celebrities have not been over there. A lot of folks in Hollywood have been very critical of what's happening in the war. Do you think, if a lot of your colleagues in Hollywood went over there, saw it for themselves, they'd have a different opinion?

WILLIS: I absolutely think that. I think we live in a global world. And I think that -- I think America is just too isolationist. And a lot of big choices are being made. You know, to say this is not our fight, when this is the same fight that this country fought 60 years ago and the entire world fought 60 years ago, for the same kind of terrorism, the same kind of thing. This is not a new war. This is not a new kind of fighting. This is the same fight. And it's back. And it's time for it to stop.

COSBY: You know, we've seen some of these amazing pictures that we're showing here. You know, Michael, there's a photo I want to show of a soldier and a baby girl, in particular. Here it is. Why is this photo so meaningful, Michael?

MICHAEL YON, EMBEDDED BLOGGER: Well, I shot that photo on a day when a suicide or homicide car bomber ran into one of our Stryker vehicles, injured a couple of our soldiers, and, unfortunately, there were a lot of children who had crowded around to wave at our people. And the attackers had every opportunity to just wait a couple of blocks and attack our guys later, without the children being around, but instead chose to attack straight through the children. And Major Bieger, who is in the photo, found the little girl -- her name is Farah -- and decided he wanted to get her to the hospital as quickly as possible. And so he picked her up, wrapped her in a blanket, and loaded her into one of our vehicles and started to take her to the hospital as fast as possible. And unfortunately, little Farah died en route. We went back to that neighborhood the next day, and the people there actually welcomed us with open arms. They welcomed us into their homes. We got into a firefight there again the next day. And the people in that part of the city began to give us more and more information about the terrorists until it got to the point where -- it's very dangerous to be a terrorist now in Mosul, because...

COSBY: You know, it's incredible to hear these stories, Michael. I mean, it's amazing what you went through firsthand. And, you know, Bruce, you know, as you're hearing these stories from Michael, I understand why your jaw just dropped when you saw these pictures. Are you thinking, maybe at some point, you know, playing a role with the Deuce Four? Is that something maybe you'd consider?

WILLIS: We are talking about that right now. But it's not really about the film. It's about these guys. It's about these guys who do what they are asked to do for very little money to defend and fight for what they consider to be freedom. And it's not just for this country. It's for the world. It is time for terrorism to stop. And the United States is the country that can stop it. And that's what they're doing over there. And there is -- I have no idea why this country is not getting the information that Michael Yon has, you know, access to, is, you know, showing people. It's just not getting out, and it's baffling.

COSBY: You know, Bruce, in 2003, you admirably offered $1 million for the capture of Saddam. I have to ask you, because just last night we had on our show so many of those pictures, those horrific pictures of what happened in Jordan. And right now, we've got three thorns in our side. We've got Zawahiri, of course, who is Osama bin Laden`s right-hand guy. You've got Osama bin Laden himself. And then you've got al-Zarqawi, the Iraqi who everyone believes is behind the mastermind of the attack, just those horrible attacks on three hotels just last night. Are you prepared even right now to maybe offer $1 million for one of them?

WILLIS: Well, that was a conversation I was having with members of the military. I've since been told that military men and women cannot accept any reward for the job that they're doing. It was more about my passion for trying to stop Saddam Hussein.

COSBY: Would you offer that if somebody else, let's say a civilian, is willing to turn one of them in and finally put this to an end?

WILLIS: Yes, I would. Yes, I would. I want to live in a world, and so do the Iraqi people want to live in a world, where they can move from their homes to the market and not have to fear being killed. And, I mean, doesn't everybody want that? Who doesn't want that?

COSBY: You bet. And, Michael, I'm going to give you just a few seconds. What are you most proud of? I mean, your pictures just really show the heart and soul there.

YON: I'd actually like to say something about Bruce Willis. He's one of the men who has had the courageous to stand behind the troops. And the troops absolutely respect and love Bruce Willis. He came out to the Deuce Four redeployment ball in Seattle. And I wonder if he realizes just how much they appreciated that. And it's just so good to see a man of his stature throwing his entire weight behind our people who are in harm's way.

COSBY: It's terrific.

WILLIS: Thank you so much, Michael.

COSBY: And hats off to both of you guys, not just Bruce. And, Bruce, thank you so much for being with us. And, Michael, keep up the great work you're doing. Those pictures are amazing. And please come back, both of you, anytime. Thank you.

WILLIS: Thanks very much. Keep it up, Mike.

YON: Thanks, Bruce.

WILLIS: OK, buddy.

COSBY: Thank you guys very much.

YON: Bye, Rita.

COSBY: Thank you.

On Veteran's Day

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America , do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 , as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.

Hear, hear.

Thank you, Dad; thank you, John; thank you, Jeff; and to my many uncles and grandfathers who wore the uniform in their time, thank you, as well.

The New Agenda, part II

Last week I began talking about a series of specific measures that the GOP could begin trying to push to re-invigorate the party. With a nod to the Alito nomination, I began with Border Security as the starting point of the new agenda. Tonight, I will continue the series with . . . .

[cue drumroll]

Energy Reform.

While I think the Congressional GOP's failure to get drilling in ANWaR is a colossal failure of leadership and another discouraging sign of party confusion, I don't, in the long run, consider it to be much of a long-term loss. Why?

Because my thinking is that by the time ANWaR was pumping out a noticable amount of oil, our dependence on oil as a source of energy should be dramatically reduced. That's right, I think the President, and every Republican candidate for anything ought to be talking about finding a replacement source of energy to reduce our need for oil.

And I'm not talking about merely increasing fuel efficiency by 30 or 40, or even 50 percent in our cars. Do you really want to see a revolution? Increase fuel efficiency by 30 or 40 FOLD.

You don't want drilling in ANWaR? Fine. But you do want home heating bills reasonable--especially in light of our local energy supplier, Xcel Energy, saying heating bills this winter should increase by an average of 33% --right? So, how you gonna do that?

I'm not delusional. I'm not imagining some Star Trek-like discovery of matter/anti-matter interaction that could be an endless source of energy (though that would be cool, wouldn't it?) By the same token, in 1961, President Kennedy said we should go to the moon--AND WE KNEW NOTHING! But, by the end of the decade, the Eagle had landed. So, I'm not automatically going to write off American inventiveness in the face of a crisis. But, in the meantime, it seems like there are a series of steps that could be taken to improve our lot.

Number One: start using other sources of energy. Specifically, nuclear power. France right now generates 76% of its electricity from nuclear power; do you suppose such a contribution from a non-fossil fuel source just might--MIGHT--lower the costs?

Number Two: increase current refining capacity simply by standardizing the oil used throughout the country. Yes, that is a government mandate "from on high;" but it is absurd that current refineries have to devote so much of their time and resources to accomodating some 23 different gasoline mixtures that the different states around the country require. Force-cut that list down to 5, and see if the country's oil refining doesn't get more efficient.

And Number Three: devote serious resources to coming up with new technologies to dramatically reduce our need for oil--not just foreign oil, either. Oil. I don't know what's out there, and I don't think anybody else does, either; but isn't it time we got serious about looking?

First of all, why this? Well, we've all seen the drag that oil prices have on our economy. And even though the current price at the pump is back down to pre-Katrina levels (I drove past two gas stations tonight whole price is $2.26 for reg Unleaded), the effect on the stock market of the past couple months was noticeable; and, just as importantly, the effect on the psyche of the American consumer was profound. At the same time that this one commodity holds such an inordinate sway on our economy, most of that oil comes from a region of the world that is, at best, unstable and, at worst, openly hostile to us. So why not find a way to send less of our money to that part of the world? Finding an alternative to fossil fuels could have both a significant benefit to our domestic economy, while at the same time having a tremendous effect on our security.

Benefits? Other than the obvious, here's where politics comes into play. The building of and operation of nuclear power plants generates jobs and stimulates local economies. And, frankly, there's plenty of empty land in Colorado, and while some of that is spectacularly beautiful, some of it is also mind-numbingly barren. On top of that, it just so happens that Colorado is home to the National Renewable Energies Laboratory; what better triumph for a Congressman or Governor to say that they've secured an addition $15 billion (or whatever) for the local economy thanks to a huge increase in federal funding for NREL. And, if it so happens that NREL discovers something significant, you would imagine that that would have its first testing ground somewhere in the vicinity of the actual laboratory.

I realize it is not a perfect plan--for instance, there's the issue of nuclear waste. But right now we have smog and greenhouse gasses--there's always a price which we have to figure out. In the meantime, somebody needs to get this debate started, and put it on the agenda as a problem to be solved, rather than an issue to be wring our hands about.


New Group Project

The Rocky Mountain Alliance is devoting our combined energies to covering the GOP primary for Colorado Governor in 2006. You can read all the news, the insight, the brilliant analysis--and even a few things by me--at Holtzman v. Beauprez.

All I can say is, thank God some among us have technical skills (ahem, Joshua, ahem).

We Should Treat Them HOW?

Suicide bombers carried out nearly simultaneous attacks on three U.S.-based hotels in the Jordanian capital Wednesday night, killing at least 57 people and wounding 115 in what appeared to be an al-Qaida assault on an Arab kingdom with close ties to the United States and a common border with Iraq.

The explosions hit the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn hotels just before 9 p.m. One of the blasts, at the Radisson, took place inside a wedding hall where 300 guests were celebrating.

Some reports have both the father of the bride and of the groom being among the dead.

You wonder if the bomber bothered to take part in the dollar dance (or whatever) before detonating. Maybe enjoyed a sip of the bubbly, or a piece of cake before permanently ending the celebration.

And THESE are the people we are not supposed to even question forcefully? THESE people get three-square a day according to THEIR laws and are provided with hermetically handled copies of the Koran and prayer mats.

I wonder how many children are numbered among the dead. I wonder how many Islamic children are numbered among the dead.

I don't lose any sleep at night wondering about how we're treating detainees.


Not So Easily Dismissed

There are those who would be tempted, I think, to look at the defeats in New Jersey, Virginia, and California tonight (though the results of the latter are not official), coupled with the passage of Referendum C in Colorado last week, as not a big deal. Not a bellweather of anything to come--New Jersey has always been blue, Virginia has a Dem gov now, California is . ..well, California, and Colorado was under extraordinary circumstances.

So, many on the right will be tempted to not get very worked up about these results.

I am not one of them.

Such a string of defeats for conservatism--not necessarily the President or the GOP--are a very bad indicator, indeed. And for those of you tempted to dismiss these all so easily, ask yourself this:

is there any chance that a visit from President Bush to any of these states on behalf of candidates or issues three years ago would have had negligible effect on the outcome?

And yet the President goes for a late rally in Virginia last night, and the GOP loses there; not only that, but the President goes for a late rally after being persona non grata during most of the campaign. And, of course, in Colorado any attempt to prop up TABOR based on its restrictions on government spending would have been laughed out of state for the utter hypocricy of it all.

And you know what? This will continue unless the White House begins to show some life [see below] Leadership isn't just keeping your eye on the ball; sometimes you have to know where your opponent is and neutralize them, as well. And right now the White House is, in effect, trying to run with the national security ball without any blockers.

They look weak, which makes the party look weak, which makes the philosophical underpinnings looks wrong . . . .

which leads to defeat.


Find The Commonalities

What do these two stories have in common?

A. France declared a state of emergency Tuesday to quell the country's worst unrest since the student uprisings of 1968 that toppled a government, and the prime minister said the nation faced a "moment of truth" over its failure to integrate Arab and African immigrants and their children.

Rioters ignored the extraordinary security measures, which began Wednesday, as they looted and burned two superstores, set fire to a newspaper office and paralyzed France's second largest city's subway system with a gasoline bomb.

The measures, valid for 12 days, clear the way for curfews after nearly two weeks of rioting in neglected and impoverished neighborhoods with largely Muslim communities.
[emphasis mine]

B. Senator Harry Reid today:
"The manipulation of intelligence, to sell the war in Iraq, Vice President Cheney is involved in that. The White House energy policy, that puts Big Oil ahead of the American consumer, Vice President Cheney is behind that. Leaking clasified information to discredit White House critics, the Vice President is behind that. Halliburton, contracting abuse, the list goes on and it goes on. Certainly America can do better than that."
Which was met with silence from the White House.

Okay, I might have tipped my hand a little bit with that last editorializing, but perhaps not.

NO, I am not trying to equate overheated rhetoric from Democrats to violent outbursts from unassimilated youths in densely packed urban areas (which, by the way, has its own set of lessons for America).

What I am pointing out is that both instances of what some of us see as over-the-top behavior is in many ways enabled by, encouraged by, and the natural result of nonexistent, weak, and/or completely ineffectual response by the governments in power.

Never, in a million years, did I think I would be equating, on any level, George W. Bush to Dominique de Villepin. But here we are.


More Election Fallout

I think, to emphasize the first point I made earlier, that Friday's Denver Post makes it pretty clear how Referendum C got over the hump in the last few days--MONEY.

A $570,000 contribution from three of Colorado's biggest Democratic donors to support Referendums C and D was a precursor to next year's big-money battle over control of the state legislature and the governorship, analysts said.
In the campaign's waning days, billionaire heiress Pat Stryker gave $280,000 and technology millionaires Tim Gill and Jared Polis gave $250,000 and $40,000, respectively.

Remember these names? This is the same cadre that ponied up about $600k last year to buy back the state legislature. Guess they're planning on making it sort of an annual thing.


And the Rocky lent some space to all three announced gubernatorial candidates this morning. I'll try to give you the gist of each:

Bob Beauprez: a mild call to streamline state processes services following a fairly simple (but surprisingly little-used) crucible of should it be done? by whom? and who pays?

Bill Ritter: a similarly mild call to improve how government does what it does, while clearly recognizing the cautious nature of the permission slip the voters gave the state last week

Marc Holtzman: following a brief attack on Bob Beauprez, he hit some of the same specific policy ideas he discussed with us RMA-ers on Thursday. In this, he is far ahead of his opponents, in that his policy ideas are very specific and are the result of effort on his part, not just theorizing.

As a complete aside, the more I see and hear from Bill Ritter, the more I'm convinced that there's a major Democrat lurking in the wings to jump into the governor's race. I just don't see this guy making that step--he just doesn't fit the profile. I guess that's too bad for the Dems--I actually think Ritter is sort of candidate who could credibly hold the middle.


Media Bias? What Media Bias?

Just for fun, try something this morning. While reading your morning paper, flip on the morning news, and compare the coverage of two similar stories.

Story A: the riots at the Summit of the Americas; Story B: the riots outside of Paris, France.

Now, look at the relative importance of these stories. Story A is predictable (remember Seattle?), stars all the usual suspects (complete with a prominent cameo by Hugo Chavez), and will go away as soon as the summit breaks up. Story B has come out of nowhere and has lasted now for eight nights, stars large groups of young Moslem men attacking a bastion of western civilization, and shows no signs of weakening, either by interdiction or boredom.

Now, which story SHOULD get more coverage? And which one does?

By the way, every time the media flashes to Central America, listen closely for the reference to the historical pattern of protesting this and similar events, including some pretty violent protests of Bill Clinton.


RMAB With Mac Holtzman

I, along with Joshua and Ben, had the opportunity to sit down this afternoon with Republican Gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman.

First things first, a huge debt of gratitude to Annie and Laura, who made this event happen. And to Marc Holtzman, who was very engaged with we "pajamahudeen," and EXTREMELY generous with his time.

It will take me some time to let all of the candidates' views congeal into a coherent narrative to write about, so I won't even attempt at this pass, to say much about the content of the interview. But rather, I should prefer to pass along some impressions of the candidate and the campaign.

The first impression Marc Holtzman makes--and today was the first time I've ever met the man--is that of a person engaged in something he feels very passionate about. The way he listens to every question, the depth of thought he's put into every issue, and the enthusiasm with which he conveys his beliefs are quite engaging. The first topic of conversation was, of course, the passage of Referendum C, and what it would mean to a potential Holtzman administration. And I was impressed with the depth of knowledge Holtzman brings to the table with regard to state finances, with regard to asset management, and his understanding of a variety of models currently in practice around the world of how to do government better. At several points, he even tried to cut himself off from getting too in-depth into the minutae. In that regard, there were points of the conversation that felt as much like graduate seminar as candidate interview.

And that level of enthusiasm carried over into every topic of conversation, not just finance. It is very clear that this is a man not content with reading bullet points and spewing simple answers. He truly seems to bring to every issue an energy borne of a deep passion.

The other overwhelming impression I came away with today was of the professionalism of the campaign operation. Laura Teal sat in on the whole meeting, and filled in a lot of the information about the nuts and bolts of the campaign, and I have to say I'm impressed with where they are at. If I didn't have a calendar, walking in and looking at the set up would make me believe that they were entering the last six months of a campaign, rather than being one year out.

If the campaign is as effective at highlighting the natural strengths of Marc Holtzman as it seems to be, this could a formidable candidacy.

Not to seem like this is just a love letter, I think a couple points need to be made. Holtzman seems to understand very well, and be realistic about, his underdog status; he seems to almost embrace it. And I also think that the campaign has decided to target the traditional GOP base, trying to capitalize on some of the frustrations of the Colorado GOP. It will be interesting to watch that play out this time around: Bob Schaffer played the same strategy two years ago, and the party sent instead a more "centrist" who couldn't explain himself and eventually got beaten. Perhaps the party will be more inclined to run a conservative this time around.

In fairness, I am (was) inclined toward Bob Beauprez in this race, more out of a loyalty to a man I've worked for on two campaigns than anything else. But I am now strongly reconsidering, though it's WAY too early to talk endorsements yet.

What I do know is that Marc Holtzman is impressive. But don't take my word for it--check out his website for dates and times of local events, and go listen to the man. He is talking about things that nobody else is talking about, and saying things that nobody else has the courage to say.

Election Analysis

I've had some time to mull over the results of last night's votes on Ref C and D, and, while my analysis is by no means expert, I will share my impressions nonetheless.

Reasons C won:

1. Money, money, money, MUUU-NEE-EEY! John Andrews yesterday, on KHOW with Dan and Craig, estimated that the pro-C forces had spent about $6 million on the ref, while anti-C had only been able to raise about $2 mils. When you couple that with the endorsements of nearly every newspaper in the state, and factor in the bipartisan support for the measures coming from the Statehouse (ahem, Gov Owens . .. ), it's a miracle that it was just a four point race. This could EEEasily have been a ten- to fourteen-point win.

2. Losing the Catchy Slogan War. pro-C had "Move Colorado Forward", anti-C had "Vote No, It's Your Dough." The one invokes the entire state and implicitly calls on a sense of civic necessity; the other not only invokes our "best" isolationist urges, it makes it remarkably easy to caricature opponents (read: Republicans) as selfish, greedy, and not civic-minded. When faced with that choice, I think a lot of people guilt themselves into doing what they've been told is "best" for the whole community; in this case, if the last batch of polls are to be believed, the undecideds split in the last two weeks almost two to one FOR Ref C. I believe a lot of that is out of a misplaced sense of civic duty.

Look, why should they have complicated this? I suggested long ago "Ref C: The $3 bil solution for the $1 bil problem." It doesn't rhyme, has no cadence, but immediately puts the pro-C on the defensive and (appropriately) paints the politicians as over-reaching. And it frames the debate in terms of the politicians, not the average citizen.

3. Losing the Spokesperson War. Pro-C had Gov. Owens, Hank Brown, and several memorable ads from Mayor John Hickenlooper; anti-C had John Caldara, Jon Andrews, and Marc Holtzmann. Two Republicans who have won statewide races and a quirky, charismatic political chameleon versus a liberatarian think-tank operator, a former state senator and a former President of local university. On both stature and reputation, not to mention Hick's watchability, the pro-C side had it all over the anti-C side. Joshua has some good thoughts on the wisdom of having John Caldara front this effort.

Reasons D Lost:

1. Coloradans need therapy. Jared agrees.

Why one, and not the other, since they were tied to one another? Who on earth knows. Commentators are fond of fawning over the state's long history of, shall we say, schizophrenic political decisions, and they often point to the state's tendency to vote for both liberal and conservative causes as evidence of its sophistication. Sure...we may be sophisticated, and, as a one-time Presidential wannabe might have said, nuanced, but then again, we may simply be prone to idiocy.

But, it's all over now. I suspect I will barely notice the change, since I'd grown accustomed to not getting that refund check. One thing to ask of the candidates for Governor next year, in indeed of the sitting Governor, is "how far are you willing to go to limit fiscal excesses by the legislature in light of Ref C?"


"Maybe If We Invite Them To "March" On The Champs Elysse . . ."

Sometimes, their own words are all you need.

In a seventh consecutive night of skirmishes, young people threw rocks at police Wednesday in six suburbs in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris — about a 40-minute drive from the Eiffel Tower (search). In one of them, Le Blanc-Mesnil, about a dozen cars burned and curious residents, some in slippers and bathrobes, poured into the streets. . .

The violence cast doubt on the success of France's model of seeking to integrate its large immigrant community — its Muslim population, at an estimated 5 million, is Western Europe's largest — by playing down differences between ethnic groups. But rather than be embraced as full and equal citizens, immigrants and their French-born children often complain of police harassment and of being refused jobs, housing and opportunities.

"If French society accepts these tinderboxes in its society, it cannot be surprised when they explode," said Claude Dilain, the Socialist mayor of the Clichy-sous-Bois suburb. . .

President Jacques Chirac told a weekly Cabinet meeting that "the law must be applied firmly" but "in a spirit of dialogue and respect" to prevent "a dangerous situation" from developing.

Umm, Jacques? I think that ship has sailed.


Election Night

Well, it looks like Referendum C has passed tonight. For a while it looked like it was closing a little bit--probably enough to make some people nervous--but it never got closer than about 35,000 votes, and right now it looks like about a 46,000 vote margin.

However, in typical Colorado fashion, the voters of this state have managed to split the baby. That is, they seem to have defeated Referendum D, though by a very close margin. My knowledge of Colorado campaign laws is limited, but I think the current margin is too wide for an automatic recount. That doesn't mean some of the deep pockets won't fund a recount, but we'll see.

The political ramifications of this are really hard to predict. First of all, it's sort of a split decision; secondly, the big issue, C, did pass, but not by very much--certainly not by a margin reflective of the 3-1 spending advantage supporters enjoyed; and third, it's hard to say that Dems, who unanimously supported this, gain any advantage because two of the three most effective advocates for C were Republicans--Gov. Owens and Hank Brown. I think it may be pretty safe to say that Mayor Hickenlooper is a winner in all this, and I think it's also safe to say that the split in the state Republican Party bodes very ill for next year.

I'm not as frustrated as Clay, but I am thinking the state party is in pretty close to disarray, and is in need of some strong leadership.


Vote now if you haven't already. Referenda C and D, school boards, city councils, various municipal (fire and police) infrastructure items, all up for consideration this first Tuesday in November. Make your voice heard.

A New Agenda

I noted last night that the President should begin to attack on several new fronts in an attempt to re-claim the second term of this Presidency.

Today was a good start--a very good start. Though I was hoping for a Luttig appointment, I really have no reason to prefer one over the other, and by all accounts Judge Alito is an outstanding jurist very much in the mold I would be hoping for.

Tomorrow the President is announcing his administration's plan for dealing with the potential outbreak of avian flu. Okay--sort of a pre-emptive reaction to events, but out in front on a pending issue. That's good.

By the way, can anybody explain why Russert calls it "evian flu," like the bottled drinking water? Are we going to be threatened by our supply of snooty water?

Anyway . . .

I think the next step is one that has broad support, both popularly AND politically: the President should announce an increase in funding and training for the border guard. Though it will be difficult, it is an absolute must from the perspective of national security and of fiscal responsibility to close the borders.

The political will does not exist at this time--that is, a consensus has not formed around--a guest worker program, or a broad deportation approach. However, there is very little dissent about the need to get control of the traffic of illegal immigrants into this country. In conjunction with this, he could and should announce new private-sector investments and economic investments in Mexico (if there are jobs there, they won't come here).

And it needs to happen fairly soon--gotta keep control of the aganda.

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