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Rocky Mountain Alliance of Blogs, 2.0
My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|Media Hits and Misses . . . [UPDATE]|
as in "hit pieces" and "mis-representations"
Front page coverage of the good economic news from today around the online newspapers:
NYTimes: [sound of crickets]
WashPost: U.S.Economy Gains Strength
WashTimes: Bush Assails "Income Inequality"
USAToday: [crickets in the headlines, but halfway down the page there's this:] Fed Holds Interest Rates Steady
The Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post morning editions are not online yet, so I can't really comment on local coverage, though I did notice the the local NBC affiliate, KUSA Channel 9, said very little about the robust economy on the 4 o'clock news.
Robust economy? What robust economy? you may ask.
That is, you would ask if your only source of news was the bigs. Here--let me tell you something:
:the Federal Reserve Board left the prime interest rate unchanged again today
:the 4th quarter Gross Domestic Product (the best measure of the strength of the economy) showed a surprisingly robust 3.5% growth
:the personal price index, an important measure of inflation, actually DECLINED at the fastest rate since 1954
:the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit yet another new all-time high on the heels of the Fed's announcement
:and there's going to be a new jobs report out on Friday, and some economists are predicting that the unemployment rate is going to drop below 4% in 2007
And yet, of the big four newspapers, the front page coverage is silent, misdirective (at best), neutral, and one positive. Shameful.
UPDATE: What's on the front page of the Comcast website? as in, what's the "top news" via the wires as decided by the Comcast gatekeepers? 2006 Personal Savings Drop to 74-Year Low
By the way, the Denver Post reports the economy with the sound of crickets on the front page, and the Rocky Mountain News seems to have missed the story, as well.
Honestly, if it had been the Democrats in power and responsible for this economy in November, they would have built a supermajority on the backs of the media. Only in this media environment could the strength of the economy remain a secret because of who's responsible.
|Update on Ritter's Critters|
"Ritter's Critters" What do you think? I'm not sure I like it. Whatever it may or may not gain in alliterative value, it loses in . . . what? level of discourse? I'm not sure I want to sink to their level, you know? Anyway . . .
This is an update on the goings-on down at the state house, now that the Democrats are in control of both chanbers of the legislature and the Governor's Mansion. Of particular interest will be whether Bill Ritter manages to keep his promise to govern "all Coloradans" from the center, whether he will be a check on the "cockamamie schemes" (as the Rocky Mountain News put it),or whether he will payoff his big donors and be who we all thought he would be during the mock campaign.
Let's see . . . .where to begin.
How about House Bill 1072? This is a law that would repeal Colorado's Labor Peace Act, which basically guarantees a Labor "open house" in the state. It is one of the reasons that Colorado's business climate has been among the strongest in the region and the country in the last ten years.
How bad is this bill? It cleared the state House of Representatives on a straight party-line vote. Every--EVERY--Republican state senator and representative has signed a letter to the governor urging him to veto this bill. The Rocky Mountain News has editorialized against this bill in fairly mocking terms. Even the Denver Post has "encouraged" the Governor to sit on this bill, though it's objections are more procedural than substantive. The Chamber of Commerce hates this bill, and is ready to give itself the "Sucker of the Year" Award.
So . . . . will Governor Ritter keep his campaign promises? Not likely, according to certain indications he's given.
Ben has a pretty good read on this one.
Oh, this goes prominently under the heading "Cockamamie Schemes."
Senate Bill 46 would put Colorado in an interstate agreement to elect the president by popular vote, instead of the electoral system currently in place.
Never mind that the voters of this state rejected this idea in the last election; never mind that it would completely neuter Colorado's influence in the elections, and hand it over to the large coastal cities; and never mind that . . . oh, never mind. This one sucks. And it passed.
And, what else?
Oh, yes. There's this lovely act of Incumbent Protection.
The bill aims to strengthen state fundraising disclosure for 527s, named for the Internal Revenue Service code that defines them, to help identify the corporations, unions and wealthy individuals who fund them.
Currently, 527s are only required to file six financial reports with the IRS in election years. This provides a critical window just before elections when 527s can unleash a barrage of negative ads, without identifying who gave money and how it was spent until after the election.
I hate to say "I told you so," but . . . I told you so.
Now that they've got power, they're going to move to protect their flank.
All in all, a pretty good week for the Democrats.
By the way, GOP, watch this very carefully. THIS is how a party in power acts. As much as I hate the results, you gotta admire the ruthless efficiency with which the Dems act. And, in their defense, it's not like any of their actions are--or should be--a surprise to anybody.
Now, let's just sit back and see if they overplay their hand.
cross posted at Political Avalanche
|I Really Didn't Want to Blog Tonight|
Honestly, I wanted to take the night off, watch a couple episodes of "24," and get ready to make my way into the weekend.
And then I read this:
Sen. John McCain announced Thursday he will try to set benchmarks for ending the violence.
"I'm trying to put something together that exercises congressional oversight that would provide some comfort to the American people and that certain benchmarks are being met as far as measuring progress or lack of progress is concerned," McCain, R-Ariz., a potential 2008 presidential competitor, said of the resolution he is crafting.
I'm not sure how it is possible that a man like John McCain does not understand that the ONLY benchmark that means anything at all is victory--total, absolute, and without condition.
But, as usual, John McCain can be counted on for nothing if not finding a way to insert himself squarely into the spotlight of whatever important conversation is ongoing, and finding a way to guarantee that HIS INTERESTS are served.
I have written before that I believe John McCain is pathologically unsuitable to be the President; I would add this little episode as Exhibit . . . Q in this demonstration.
I think John McCain has read the tea leaves, saw the fundraising success Mitt Romney had a couple weeks ago, noticed that FoxNews (assumedly what the base was watching) and the Today Show turned first to Rudy Guiliani for SOTU reaction and has come to the conclusion that he will never be the Republican nominee for President in 2008. Which means he has nothing to gain by keeping the base happy.
Which means John McCain intends to split from the Republican Party and run as an Independent candidate for President in 2008.
Whither goest the Whig . . . ?
|Sign The Pledge|
This message must be sent.
Below is the text of two letters I sent tonight. Feel free to borrow from them as much as you like or as you see fit. Or feel free not to.
But contact your representatives. NOW!
Senator Chuck Hagel
My name is Michael xxxxxxx, and though I am not a citizen of Nebraska, I am an active participant in Republican Party politics in Colorado. I have worked on the past three election campaigns in my great state, and intend to continue working for people and causes I believe in.
I am writing you today as someone who is mindful of your possible intention to run for President in 2008, or the possibility that you might be selected to be a running mate for John McCain or somebody else. Certainly, I know you will have to run for re-election to the Senate in 2008.
I am writing you today to express my dismay at your voting with the Senate Democrats in committee today in favor of a resolution opposing the President’s plan for Iraq. Without offering a better way forward, you have accomplished two things with your vote today: first, you have freely given political cover to a caucus that would prefer a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, regardless of the inevitable consequences of such a move; and you have given comfort to the forces in opposition to America in Iraq, who will read the headlines in the American papers tomorrow and believe that the American will to continue this fight has been broken.
As a veteran of combat, you, of all people, should understand the consequences to our troops on the ground of such a vote.
I understand that you do not represent me, and, as such, probably won’t give much thought to my opinions. Nonetheless, I would encourage you in the strongest possible terms to reconsider your vote when it comes time to repeat it on the floor of the Senate.
While you do not represent me, I am still perfectly capable of writing to Tom Osborne, and encouraging him to run against you in the 2008 primaries. I am perfectly capable of driving from my home outside of Denver to Nebraska to volunteer on behalf of whoever opposes you in the primary. I am perfectly capable of working on behalf of ANYBODY else for President in the Colorado Republican primary. And, should you be the #2 man on the 2008 ticket, I am perfectly capable of staying at home with my family, rather than working phone banks, stuffing envelopes, and walking neighborhoods.
This is far beyond mere party politics. Your vote today both emboldens terrorists around the world, and cuts to the heart of the will of the American fighting man and woman. Not only that, but this vote makes you culpable in the inevitable genocide should America be forced to withdraw from Iraq after the collapse of Congressional support.
Please reconsider your vote when this resolution comes to the floor of the Senate.
TO: Senator Ken Salazar, Senator Wayne Allard, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, Congressman Mark Udall
My name is Michael xxxxxx, and I live in Arvada. I grew up in Lakewood, went to school in Boulder, and have lived and worked as a public school teacher in the western suburbs of Denver ever since. I am married and have xxxxx children, with a xxxxx on the way.
I tell you all of this so that you will understand that I am a very normal citizen of Colorado. I live a middle class life, pay my taxes, perhaps pay attention to the news a little more closely than some, and spend most of my time simply trying to make life better for my children and my community.
I am writing you today because I am DEEPLY troubled by one of the initiatives that seems poised to come out of this Congress. In the next days and weeks, you will each have an opportunity to vote on a “non-binding” resolution expressing disagreement with the President’s plan to increase force levels in Baghdad and Anbar Province. I urge you with all possible seriousness to vote against such a measure.
Before articulating my reasons for such a vote, I would first ask each of you this: what do you want Iraq to look like in one year? Five years? Ten years? Because the answer to that question MUST be addressed before any such resolution can be contemplated with the seriousness it deserves. And further, if you have an idea what you want Iraq to look like, then tell me how you would go about achieving that end.
It is simply not enough—in fact, it is downright irresponsible—to merely oppose the President’s plan. Unless and until a better alternative is proposed, this is the plan that the Commander in Chief has ordered, and which the General now charged with executing it has endorsed as the best way forward. To oppose this plan is to endorse the status quo, which, everybody agrees is unacceptable.
Let me say that again: a vote in support of this resolution is a vote to oppose the President’s plan, which is a tacit endorsement of the status quo on the ground.
What follows, logically, and according to the testimony of Gen. Patraeus, is an entirely predictable tale of three armies. The forces of both al-Qaeda in Iraq and the sectarian militias will be emboldened by a perceived lack of will among the American people, and they will step up their attacks; the American forces on the ground will suffer a crushing blow to their esprit de corps, recognizing that the American people no longer support their mission (a mission which they are re-enlisting at extraordinary numbers to complete); and the Iraqi army, which supporters of the resolution say must step up to claim their own country, will recognize that the assistance of the Americans is almost at an end, and they will move to stake their own territory in what will soon follow. The bloodshed will increase, the clamor to bring all the troops home will grow even louder, and what might have been a salvageable situation will spiral out of control into a genocidal civil war, with Iran and Syria waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces. The real tragedy at the end of this story is that the millions of purple-fingered Iraqis who stared down the forces of hatred in their own country to cast free ballots will have been betrayed and left to the violent whims of men like Zarqawi, al-Sadr, and Ahmedinijad. History teaches us that such settings ALWAYS end with slaughter on a Biblical scale.
Do not attempt to justify a vote for this resolution on the grounds that it is “non-binding;” there is nothing the enemy loves more than a public relations victory! It helps with their financing, their recruitment, and their ability to find state allies. It is sad that we Americans are so willing to hand them so many easy victories.
And do not justify a vote for this resolution by arguing that the President was wrong to invade Iraq in the first place, or that the post-invasion was botched. Even if those things were true, IT WOULD NOT ABSOLVE YOU OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE GENOCIDE THAT WOULD ENSUE following an American Congressional Declaration of Defeat!
I urge you all, I implore you, as the men who either represent me, or would represent me in two years, in Congress, to vote against ANY resolution opposing the President’s plan going forward. It would be an embarrassment to our great state, and would, in one fell swoop, prove correct Osama bin Laden’s assessment of America as a “paper tiger.”
|Stream of Consciousness Reaction to the SOTU|
Not exactly live blogging, but more overall impressions as they are being formed. Be aware that many of these thoughts will be incomplete or only partially articulated.
Leading up to this, I have to say that I am not looking forward to what I'm going to hear, based on what I have heard reported ahead of time.
7:12 About three minutes of applause, and then he puts an end to it by turning to Nancy Pelosi and saying "are you ready?" Either he's anxious to get started, or he's just eager to get the Pelosi tribute out of the way.
At first look, he appears fresh, his interactions are effusive and, I think, genuine. He doesn't have any of the grim, almost fatigued, seriousness of a couple weeks ago. But aybe that's just by comparison to Dick Cheney sitting behind him--does anybody on the face of the earth project grim seriousness the way the Vice President does?
Hillary makes me laugh. They just panned on to her during the talk of a balanced budget, and the expression on her face was like someone whose Prozac just kicked in. Somebody must have old her how bad she looked a couple years ago.
And McCain is jumping up a little too quick, with a little too broad a smile, and too--I don't know--obvious an attempt at winking to somebody. I think he's trying to project an impression of youth, even as he's pushing 70.
And Kennedy is in a drunken stupor--"Oh, my aching head!"
7:22--I wonder why he's spending the first part of the speech entirey on the domestic agenda. That big elephant in the room isn't going away, and pushing it off to the second part of the speech just makes it look like he's trying to change the subject, when what he should be doing is a full frontal assault on the Surrender Caucus.
Is it just me, or is nobody in the chamber actually listening to the speeh. Tey're all looking at their copies of it as if there are notes in the margin telling them when to clap, when to stand, when to sit, how long to clap, etc . . .
If he wanted to make the case about . . .hey, there's Tancredo! . . .anyway, if he wanted to make the case about how tough the borders are, why doesn't he share the stories about Mexican Army aiding illegals, and the recent attacks on border patrol agents.
Anybody else notice how stone-faced the Joint Chiefs were at the mention of reducing our use of gasoline?
Cheney's got a wierd smirk on his face--is somebody doing a good puppet show in the upper gallery? And didn't anybody tell him not to take a drink at the same time as the President? That just looks wierd--very Giapetto-esque.
Why are the Dems standing at "take the fight to the enemy?" They aren't in favor of that! They, in fact, don't think we should try to fight them at all.
It is about time we got a litany of successes in the war on terror. It would be even better if he would have said "our allies' ability to monitor the phone conversations of the enemy . . ."
He is smart to talk about the nature of the enemy, but it's entirely too antiseptic--he needs to remind us of the the beheaded Daniel Pearl, and of the blown up pregnant women who strap bombs around their wombs. But he is laying strong foundation for a policy of war on Islamic facism.
How much of the country do you suppose actually watchs this speech? It's really not a bad speech--he's better tonight than most nights. But that isn't going to do him any good if the only excerpts that show up on the Today Show are from Hillary's rebuttal, and the wishy-washy domestic stuff at the front of the speech.
Oops . . .McCain's asleep. Think that shot might show up a few times in the primaries?
He is working hard to point to Iran and Syria as the problem.
Why do the Dems not even bother to stand at the idea of victory? Do they wish for us to lose? Do they hope for American failure? THAT very mentality has become the enemy--that mentality gives aid and comfort to the real enemy, which makes it the enemy.
Tomorrow morning is going to be McCain's time: if he has any interest in being President, he will go on every morning show and forcefully make the case that victory is not just possible, but an absolute necessity. He MUST become the face of the aggressive military strategy is he has any hope of getting back the base of the Republican Party.
Well, now--there's a gauntlet. "Support the troops". That call had better be followed up upon in every media for every day of the next six weeks. The White House can not go back to its default position of reaction--they must get on every news outlet for the next six weeks and define the story and get inside and live inside the Democrats' OODA Loop.
Hey!! There's Dikembe Motumbo! What a stud! I can't wait to see the picture of him standing next to Laura Bush--heh heh heh. HAAA HAAA HHAA--there's that picture!!! I love it. the best photo of the night! I knew I liked him.
Wesley Autry should be on every coffee mug in the country. Not just an incredible story of heroism, but the humility he shows, the genuine emotion he displays, and the way his words honor the heroes of our military. We need more of him.
C'mon--use this setting to wrap up with a call upon our higher angels! You can't draw attention to Wesley Autry and to our troops without challenging our political class to act in at least as honorable a fashion.
Or maybe not.
Too bad. He really had the chance, I think, to push hard at the Surrender Caucus.
Overall, not too bad. It was a fairly good speech, but will be completely meaningless if the rest of the GOP and the White House doesn't get WAY out in front of the cameras in the next days and weeks.
Not what I would've written, but . . . There may just be a reason I don't write speeches for a living.
|What I Hope To Hear in the SOTU Tomorrow Night|
My Fellow Americans:
Article 2, Section 3 of the United States Constitution mandates that the President, from time to time, report to Congress on the state of the union. Tonight, I am troubled to report that the state of that Union is not that strong.
Yes, even though we have ridden out the volitility of the energy sector to see gasoline prices return to very normal levels; and even though unemployment in this country now stands at 4.6%--well below historical averages; and even though the average wage taken home by a working man or woman in the last year has increased by over 4%, while inflation remains below 3%; and even though our economy continues to grow by over 2-1/2 %; and even though our budget deficit has been cut in half three years ahead of schedule, I am still troubled.
Over the course of the last couple years, we in Washington have allowed policy disagreements to metastasize into shameful, foolish, and dangerous behaviors.
Newspapers that disagree with American policy have revealed the details of top secret national security programs. People--elected officials, some--who do not believe in the course of action we have undertaken, but who have yet to propose a better idea, regularly dismiss the ideas and plans of those they disagree with in the most derogatory tones. Former top officials of government have been prosecuted for removing and destroying important historical documents in a fashion described as "reminiscent of a Cold War-era dead drop. " Generations-old traditions, such as "politics ends at the water's edge", have been cast aside for the naked pursuit of political power. We have watched, aghast, as scandals involving inappropriate sexual behaviors and bribery rock both sides of the political aisle. We have seen how prosecutors from around the country have regularly embarked on politically-charged but evidentially weak prosecutions for the forwarding of their own political agendas. And even our language has been degraded: we have recently witnessed the spectacle of a former President calling the actions of one of our closest allies "apartheid."
Ladies and gentlemen, if we in Washington, your elected officials, are unable to summon the civility to address each other with courtesy, and to uphold the dignity of our elected offices and the oaths taken thereto, and if we cannot find a way to agree to disagree in a way that does not give our enemy hope for their cause, than I am afraid I must report that our union is not very strong right now.
Our union has gone through troubling periods before in our history. The country was torn apart by the divisiveness of the War in Vietnam; during World War II, to our shame, we put many of our citizens in internment camps based solely on their ethnic heritage; the Great Depression left lasting marks on every person who went through it; World War I drew a reluctant country into a brutal war that was the occasion for many horrific acts; we have had six Presidents attacked, two of them murdered; and, but for the courage and steadfastness of one man, this country--this great union--would now be two countries divided north and south.
There are many lessons that can be drawn from our past. One lesson that gives me great comfort is that this great experiment, founded on the notion that all men are created equal, CAN, indeed, long survive. It seems a great destiny of this country to come through periods of divisiveness stronger and more certain of itself than it was at any time during the crisis. If America has truly become the one remaining superpower, the "indispensible nation," as some have described it, than it must be true that it has only become that way through the blessings of the Almighty and the indomitable spirit and character of its people.
This face that we put on for the rest of the world, that is subject to 24-hour news channels and constantly shows our worst and most contentious side, is not the America that I know. It is not the America that brought together billions of charitable donations for its own people devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but as importantly, brought together billions also for a tiny nation halfway around the world devastated by a tsunami. This face is not the face of leaps out onto a subway rail, seemingly oblivious to the impending danger, and saves a complete stranger from certain death. This face is not the face that runs into a burning building to pull a child out of the smoke and flames. This face is not the face that puts on a blue uniform every morning and goes and tries to stand between the forces of evil and anarchy and good people going about their business.
And this face we present to the rest of the world is, sadly, NOT indicative of the can-do, never-say-never spirit of the American farmer, and rancher, and teacher and coach and welder and entrepeneur. The face of the America I know is best seen in the quiet heroism of young men and women who volunteer for service to their country; who put on a uniform every morning and salute the stars and stripes before slogging off to do what is hard, what is tedious, what is dangerous, and also what is merciful, and compassionate, and heroic.
Many of these quiet heroes have given their lives over the course of the last five years to fight to re-shape the world as we know it into something greater, something safer, and something better than the world they were handed when they turned 18. And we know that many of them do not agree with the policy, but, nonetheless, they do their jobs because their buddies in the foxhole, or the Humvee, or the Huey, count on them. We also know that an inordinate number of them believe enough in what they are doing to sign back up to do it some more--to put their lives on the line in the hope that they can coax to life a vision of a better world.
We in Washington MUST recognize and acknowledge that the courage and sacrifice of these quiet heroes is only meaningful when the political class has the courage and patience to see the mission through to its inevitable conclusion. We in Washington have an obligation to do, and to speak, and to act in a responsible fashion that not only bolsters the faith of our fighting man and woman, but forces the enemy to calculate the hardness of our response. We in Washington have a responsibility to make certain that our REAL heroes have not just the best equipment for the fight, but are equipped with the greatest shield we can provide: a fighting spirit. When we denigrate all servicepeople as the equivalent of Saddam's torture squads, or like the brutal apparatuses under Pol Pot or Joseph Stalin, we slice away at the armor around the spirits of our soldiers.
So, tonight, I am asking the men and women of this grand Assembly, to join me in re-affirming our belief in not just the terrible prowess of our fighting men and women, but in the promise that America holds out for the whole world. Join me in sending a message to our REAL enemies abroad that America will stand in the breach and not allow them to end civilization. Join me in recognizing, and trying harder to project to the world, the real face of America--the same America that cast off tyranny, spread across a continent, held itself through a Civil War, helped end tyranny twice around the world last century, built the best economy in the world, put men on the moon, and now confronts lawless, countryless, conscience-less murderers.
Our union will survive--it is our destiny; when we in Washington remember to trust the spirit of the people, we will do much more than merely survive. But Abraham Lincoln reminded us that malice has no place when you are healing a nation; we must move forward on the principles that Lincoln espoused in 1865.
My policy initiatives for the coming year will reflect my belief in the strength of the American people. You will not hear how the government will do great things for the people; instead, you will hear how government will work to help YOU achieve great things. . . . .
And so on and so forth through the laundry list.
Of course, we'll hear no such thing. The stupidity of the White House will release a dry, passionless speech to the press four hours in advance so that they can line up all thier opposition, and the spech will fly over like a lead balloon. With all the inspiration of a . . .well, lead balloon.
But maybe, just maybe, I'm willing to hold out a glimmer of hope that the President will show just a little bit of life and confront his opposition head-on tomorrow.
Our troops deserve a little courage from their Commander in Chief.
|Two Critically Important Letters|
Hugh has posted two letters on his website. The first is from a 26-year active duty combat veteran; the second is from an Army Lieutenant who gave the last, full measure of devotion just last week explaining his reasons for volunteering to go to Iraq (technically, it's not a letter--it's a MySpace page, but whatever). Here are two key excerpts:
Republican Senators such as Chuck Hagel, John Warner and Olympia Snowe have publicly stated that the president’s planned strategy adjustment will not work and that they will not support it. I challenge each of these august public servants to go over to Bethesda Naval Hospital TODAY, find a seriously wounded Marine and say to him, “Son your sacrifice was in vain.” GO TODAY Senator. Stand up and be counted. If your vote for the war was wrong, say so today and do what any decent officer would do, resign. Resign immediately. What we are witnessing is a replay of the Vietnam War NOT on the battlefield where we continue to have successes albeit slowly, but in the gelatinous spines of our public servants and political masters. Remember Senator we serve but we are not YOUR servants. We swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution and the survival of America, not your political career which far too many of you associate with defending America. We serve because we believe in America, its founding principles and we believed our leaders, mostly Republicans but some Democrats, would support us and use our capabilities well. Now Republicans risk shredding the trust that fully 66% of servicemen and women have given them since 1968. They risk the future of their party but far more importantly they risk the all-volunteer force and with it America’s security future.
And then this:
My fellow "humanists" and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America's historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade. And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are. So that is why I joined.
I would submit that the same Senators confronted in the first letter have done no more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights than any of Lt. Mark Daily's comrades-at-arms, but their incessant preening before the cameras do vastly more to fuel our enemy's impression of us as weak, corrupt, and self-important than any entire brigade of our nation's finest.
God Rest Your Soul, Lt. Daily: some of us believe your sacrifice was NOT in vain.
|Of Politics and Artificial Deadlines|
I've been thinking a lot in the last couple of days about the state of War on Terror, as it presently stands in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
And, frankly, I shouldn't do that. It depresses me.
Ten days ago the President went on national TV, prime time, to make a case directly to the American people that we can win this war, and that we have a new plan to achieve this.
And the President's numbers have, well, not exactly surged.
And now the Senate is about to pass a resolution opposing the new strategy, and it even has a couple Republicans supporting it.
And then there's this lovely poll, which shows that barely half of those identifying themselves as Democrats even WANT the strategy to work, much less think it will do so.
All of which leads me to the conclusion that the American public no longer has the intestinal fortitude for this war, or is tired of the President's schtick, or--most likely--both. Which leads me to the further conclusion that this new strategy has to--HAS TO--work in fifteen months.
That's right: fifteen months.
And when I say work, I don't mean a decrease in sectarian violence; I don't mean power in Baghdad operating at 70%; and I don't mean the turn over of a couple more provinces to Iraqi control.
I mean WORK, as in American presence being substantially drawn down already, and plans on the table for the return of almost all of the rest of them.
By April, 2008.
Why such a strict, artificial timeline? you might ask.
Because the reality of American politics makes it so. Because by April, 2008, both the Republicans and the Democrats will, most likely, have chosen their candidates for President. And if the war isn't basically over by then, the Democrat will win; if it is, the Republican will win if he has been a supporter of this strategy.
I could take the time to work all the way through the logic of my conclusion, but, instead, I am going to go into hypothetical speech writer land. My reader for the day: any of the hundreds of Islamicist militant leaders/Immams/martyrs addressing his followers.
By the bye, the following is in no way intended as a parody of Islam, a direct insult of Islam, or any sort of disrespectful expression. But the reality is that the enemy is Muslim, so to capture the voice, I must adopt some affectation.
Dear Brethren, Holy Warriors, Jihadists, and Fashion Consultants:
Today, Allah has blessed us with the opportunity to destoy the infidel Imperialist.
The infidel has no stomach for the Holy War we bring to them; already, he shows signs of weakening. Starting with the glorious campaign in Spain, which caused them to run away; then Italy; in England, the criminal Blair--may Allah curse him--has been driven from power and replaced by those who do not have a fight in them. And our greatest success, against our greatest enemy, is already starting to take shape.
Just months ago, the cowardly American people threw out of power the men who would make war on Islam; now, in their decadent halls of power, they have grand debates over what price is too great a price to pay for war, and what number of warriors is too great to commit to this great battle, and whether or not they should use any means to protect themselves.
But they are WEAK! These debates of theirs serve nothing but to prove to the worthy how cowardly they are. We have no such weakness: WE WILL COMMIT EVERY RESOURCE, EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD, AND WE WILL USE EVERY WEAPON ALLAH HAS PUT BEFORE US TO STRIKE DOWN THE INFIDEL AND SPREAD THE CALIPHATE ACROSS THE GLOBE!!!
Now, is a critical time for our great cause. The Great Satan proposes to send 20,000 more soldiers to fight for Iraq, but he has no stomach for fighting our Holy Army. These 20 thousands, and all of the rest of them, will go back to America in a coffin, or with their tails between their legs like the cowardly dogs they are.
But we must be shrewd like a fox, brothers. The American believes they can end this holy battle in a few months--we must not let that happen. The American will be choosing a new President next year, and if we prevail in Iraq, the next President will be one who WILL NOT fight. And the next body of leaders will be even less likely to fight than this one now.
We must keep the pressure on, brothers. We need all martyrs to take their place in Allah's garden, if they must, to show the American people that WE ARE THE STRONGER. We need every Muslim to commit to making this war last until the spring of next year--if the American people are still wailing over their dead sons and brothers, they will never again choose a leader who will challenge the Armies of Allah anywhere in the world.
Brothers, this fight must last until next year. We must have martyrdom operations every day to be broadcast on CNN to show the American people that they cannot win. These extra soldiers are nothing to us but more targets for our great Jihad.
I must ask you, holy warriors, to pray to Allah for the strength and courage to see this battle through until its glorious conclusion with the cowardly retreat of the American. Allah asks us to fight this war until the infidel is crushed and humiliated! We must answer the call!!
Then we can return to our regular lives of plotting to obliterate Israel and topple the infidel governments all through the caliphate.
Or something like that.
The point is, the President, General Patraeus, and all of our great soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines have a deadline for this war to succeed. The 2008 elections will, once more, be a referendum on Pres. Bush: if the war is going well, the GOP will be okay; if the war is not going well, the GOP could be dumped to minority status for a generation, and we will have a replay of 1972 all over again. And, as I think we saw this past election, opinions harden early--think how the high price of gas in the spring never allowed the country to realize that the economy is SMOKIN' by election night.
So I think April, 2008 is the new drop-dead date for Iraq. Not because our troops cannot succeed at a later date than that, but because, if they haven't succeeded by that date, their new civilian leadership will not allow them to succeed beyond that date.
Good luck, Gen. Patraeus et al.--many of us out here will be praying for you.
|Early Musings on the Now Open Senate Seat|
I will follow up my fellows in throwing some thoughts out about the 2008 Senate race in Colorado.
First of all, I am sad to see Sen. Allard go. I think, though he hardly manged to "tower over Colorado electoral politics," Sen. Allard proved to be a hardy candidate who seemed to remain truly humble in office. And humility is a trait the Senate is sorely lacking these days-on BOTH sides of the all.
As to the front runners . . .first from the Left. And when I say left, I mean WAAAY Left. Mark Udall is the announced candidate of the Democrats, and if ever there was a candidate who truly represents the People's Republic of Boulder, it is Udall. Inasmuch as Boulder is a punchline for the rest of the state, Udall should be easy to mark as hard Left.
Unfortunately, Udall has three irrefutable advantages going forward. One, he is likely to be unopposed in a primary, which both saves him money and gives him an empty stage with which to define himself for the rest of the state. Two, he is a seasoned, political professional--he is unlikely to make the sort of mistakes and gaffes that derailed the GOP's last two statewide candidates. And C, he is likely to have a LARGE warchest. Early estimates are that this race could cost in the range of $5-10 million; I suspect that that figure is only candidate's money. My guess is that, once you factor in Tim Gill and Pat Stryker, the figure a GOP candidate is going to have to counter is closer to $20 million.
Of course, once you factor in the right-leaning 527s, that number probably drops to . . oh, say . . . $19.6 million.
Given those factors, I'm going to lay out what I think are the primary characteristics of the best candidate the GOP can put forward in 2008.
1. It needs to be somebody known, liked, and trusted within the state GOP. That, by no means, would lessen the likelihood of a primary challenge; but it is likely that such a person may be able to control the dabate, at least to some degree, and prevent it from becoming a gift to the Udall campaign (see "Both Ways Bob" for an example of such a gift).
2. He/She needs to be a seasoned media or political player. Somebody charismatic, somebody who can deliver a message with punch and, hopefully, humor, and somebody who is good on their feet in front of a camera. Look, the odds are the media is going to be . . . ha ha ha, I almost got that "odds are" line out with a straight face . . . the media is going to be openly hostile to the Republican candidate; he or she MUST know how to handle themselves and shut down the sharks. Again, hopefully, with humor.
3. He/She needs to be an unparalleled fundraiser. But, let's be realistic: in Colorado, we'll never compete with the Left in straight-out fundraising. Honestly, the best thing that could happen is to have a candidate [and I HATE to say this] who is willing to sink millions of their own dollars in to this race.
That list leaves very few viable candidates. Bob Schaffer? I question his ability to win the money primary. Bob Beauprez? I like Bob a lot--I've worked for him on two campaigns--but he fails on the second count. Bill Owens? I consider that unlikely at this time--nor does he meet the third criteria. John Suthers? Mmmmm . ..maybe. AG to Senator has worked before; unfortunately, I'm not sure he meets the third criteria, either. Dan Caplis? Unproven--as either a candidate or a fundraiser, though he is likely to be the best possibility as far as good on his feet. Mike Coffman? HUGE possible upsides, given his military service, but I don't know how well he plays on TV or as a fundraiser. Scott McInnis? I don't know about his fundraising acumen, and the long knives are already out for him. Tom Tancredo? Don't make me laugh. Oh, wait, he already did that by announcing for President.
Who does that leave?
John Elway. Who has never been a candidate fo political office, and whose honeymoon with half of Colorado will likely end as soon as he announces he's a Republican.
But we know he's good on TV, and we know he has the money to fund a good run--he's also pretty funny naturally. But things change when the prize is political office, and if you don't think his marital problems are going to be brought up early and often, you're kidding yourself.
Basically, . . . color me pessimistic about this Senate seat.
If the tide of politics across the country turns back around by 2008, there are a lot of GOP candidates who would be viable in this race, though tey're going to need a lot of money to do it; if the tide looks at all like does right now, or like it did last November, kiss this one good-bye.
|So We Have A New Governor|
I've only just today been able to get around to reading Gov. Bill Ritter's State of the State Speech. I was, naturally, curious to see if he enumerated a list of priorities reflecting his promise to govern from the middle.
First, the basics. Paragraph 4:
Let me also take a minute to thank the previous legislature, former Gov. Owens and former Lt. Gov. Norton for their significant accomplishments. I hope we can keep moving forward.
A bit cursory and perfunctory, but, you know . . . whatever. Let's just say he's not exactly reachinng out.
As I approach this job, I start with a simple promise to all of you: I will always listen. I will always seek your cooperation and a thoughtful commitment to meaningful solutions. We won't always see eye to eye. But from me you will always get responsible debate, not partisan rhetoric. I ask you for the same, regardless of whether there's a D or an R after your name.
He goes on in the course of the speech to list eight legislators who have proposed ideas he likes. Seven of the eight are Democrats.
I guess that eans he's only 3/4 of the way twards the far left. I guess that's his idea of governing from the center.
Anyway . . . as to those priorities.
1. The New Energy Economy. His solution: an Executive Order adopting a resolution calling for a 20 percent improvement in the efficiency of electricity use, doubling the renewable energy requirements of Amendment 37, and a Colorado Clean Energy Fund.
2. Health Insurance. His solution: the Colorado Health Plan, a multi-state drug purchasing pool, and significant investment of tobacco settlement dollars (which, by the way, are diminishing faster than expected).
3. Transportation. Solution: A Transportation Summit, to come up with more ideas like FasTracks. I guess he didn't see the same report that showed up on the front page of the Rocky today
RTD is falling behind on key studies required for FasTracks and also is trying to figure out whether the rapid transit system can be built the way it was advertised and for the cost that was promised.
4. Economic Development. Solution: devote 25% of his time to improving economic opportunities in Colorado.
5. Education. Goals: cut the dropout rate in half within ten years, and cut the "achievement gap" in half in ten years. How? "We're going to listen to our teachers" READ: we're going to let the unions write legislation. Also, there's this line:
We need one system that provides meaningful data in a timely fashion so we can improve student learning.
READ: we're going to get rid of the CSAP test. Just wait.
For a better, more thorough discussion of the education portion of the speech, check in with Ben.
6. Public Safety. Solution: develop programs to cut recidivism. Of course, those already exist, but they're religion-based, so we can't do those.
Six main priorities. Do you notice that there's exactly ONE solution to all of them?
There is, of course, no way that government can provide for all of the things the Governor wants to do with it. Especially in light of TABOR.
So expect a year-two attempt to eliminate or significantly weaken TABOR.
This speech reads to me like one given by a person comfortable and confident in the power he wields. If you thought the GOP rode herd in its better days, wait until you see how the Democrats respond to control. This could be a scary couple of years.
|I Guess My Pessimism Was Justified|
Let me start about tonight's speech by addresing the Democratic response from Dick Durbin. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a link to the full text, so I'll start with a paraphrase of what stuck out the most to me.
Trying to quote from memory:
"Americans have already paid a huge price for Iraq. We have paid an enormous price in the blood of our young men and women. We have paid a huge price in treasure and materiel . . . ."
or something like that.
One thought leapt to mind as I was listening to this claptrap: not exactly Kennedy-esque. No, not the bloated drunkard, the other one. You know, "pay any price, bear any burden . . ."
And, while that was disturbing and mind-numbing, it was also COMPLETELY PREDICTABLE. And here is here my title for this post comes in: if this sort of response was completely predictable, WHY does the President refuse to take this sort of thing head-on?
Seriously, he could shut the Democrats up in five minutes by reminding them that, once upon a time, they had a President who guaranteed the American people that America would pay any price, bear any burden to ensure success of liberty. WHY DOESN'T HE?
So, here's where my fears came to bear out: if the President is not, at this critical juncture, willing to engage his political opponents on this, why should we have any reason to think that he will actually allow our troops to engage the enemy? Especially when those same political opponents are the ones who will scream the loudest when we kill the enemy.
On style, the President was, maybe, I think, worse than usual. Stiff, grim, tired, and rhetorically . . . well, himself.
And Durbin . . . .WHOA! what a treasure trove for a terrorist. If I were the new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would be using Durbin's speech as a recruiting video, and I would escalate my attacks over the next two months to GUARANTEE that the Democrats refuse to fund the troop surge. Durbin's speech is everything the terrorists believe we are: weak-willed, feckless, and impotent.
Not a great night for America.
|Reasons for Pessimism|
I've written a lot in recent days and weeks about what I hope the President will say and what I think the President should say in his prime time speech tomorrow night.
Some of the news from today makes me skeptical that he will say anything of the sort.
First, from the AP:
The first of up to 20,000 additional U.S. troops will move into Iraq by month's end under President Bush's new war plan, a senior defense official said Tuesday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged to hold a vote on the increase, which many Democrats oppose.
On its face, as I've said before, I don't think sending in more troops in and of itself is a bad idea. But, so far the units set to deploy seem to be more "big army" than SpecOps, and there's no indication that the Rules of Engagement are likely to change, so I really don't think this is going to change much. Except provide the terrorists with more targets to shoot at.
Second, via Powerline:
William James Haynes, William Myers, and Terrence Boyle reportedly have told the White House they do not wish to be renominated to the federal judiciary. Another nominee, Michael Wallace, recently withdrew.
I seem to remember getting involved in the 2000 and 2004 campaigns for Bush specifically because of the issue of judges. The President wasn't willing over the last couple years to fight forcefully for his judges--which WAS a winning issue with the electorate; under what circumstances should we expect that he'll fight for Iraq--which is NOT a particularly winning issue at this time ?
And, thirdly, from Hugh Hewitt:
[The full extent of Berger's document removal, however, is not known, and never can be known. The Justice Department cannot be sure that berger did not remove original documents for which there were no copies or inventory. On three of Berger's four visits to the Archives, he had access to such documents.]
Berger should have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and certainly should not now be appearing on panels to proclaim his vision of America's national security policy.
Be very clear WHY Sandy Berger was not prosecuted to the full extent of the law: because the Bush Justice Department did not push the case. Hell, the Bush campaign did not even make a sufficient play of this information to discredit the 9/11 Commission and the Democrats in the last two election cycles.
Oh-for-three in today's news cycle. Given the President's--shall we say . . .--lack of rhetorical polish, I'm not particularly hopeful that tomorrow night's speech is likely to end the slump.
|A Little Brilliance From My Good Friend Matt|
Weather Bulletin - Denver
Up here, in the "Mile-High City," we just recovered from a Historic event --- may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions"--- with a historic blizzard of up to 44 inches of snow and winds to 90 MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to tens of thousands.
George Bush did not come.
FEMA did nothing.
No one howled for the government.
No one blamed the government.
No one even uttered an expletive on TV.
Our Mayor did not blame Bush or anyone else.
Our Governor did not blame Bush or anyone else, either.
CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC did not visit - or report on this category
5 snowstorm.[ed: except that it affected travel to LA and NY]
Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.
No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House.
No one looted.
Nobody - I mean Nobody - demanded the government do something.
Nobody expected the government to do anything, either.
No Larry King, No Shepard Smith, No Oprah, No Chris Mathews and No Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.
No Sean Penn, No Barbra Streisand, No Hollywood types to be found.
Nope, we just melted the snow for water.
We sent out caravans of SUV's to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars.
The truck drivers pulled people out of snow banks and didn't ask for a penny.
Local restaurants made food and the police and fire departments delivered it to the snowbound families.
Families took in the stranded people - total strangers.
We fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Coleman lanterns.
We put on extra layers of clothes because up here it is "Work or Die".
We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for 'sittin at home' checks.
Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early, we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.
"In my many travels, I have noticed that once one gets north of about
48 degrees North Latitude, 90% of the world's social problems evaporates."
It does seem that way, at least to me.
I hope this gets passed on.
Maybe SOME people will get the message. The world does Not owe you a living.
Of course, Matt hits it square in the sweet spot. This is the essence of Reagan Conservatism: THE WORLD--THE U.S. GOVERNMENT--DOES NOT OWE YOU A THING!!
This, from Matt, finally crystalizes the real reason the GOP lost this Fall.
In the 80s, Reagan piled up huge deficits in service to one priority: end the threat of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union eventually did collapse, and in the process the size of government managed to shrink if you exclude the military. Reagan's message: we will protect you; most of the rest is really your deal.
In the 90s the GOP swept to power based on a very tight, fiscally conservative message: shrink government, including (sadly) the military in the wake of the collapse of the USSR. Hell, even the Democratic President announced that the era of big government was over. Newt Gingrich and the CWA insisted that the government operate on budget, and managed to reform one of the major entitlement programs in the process. Winning by telling people that they are responsible for themselves.
In this decade, the GOP--led by George W. Bush--has fallen back on Big Government in the guise of "compassionate Conservatism." The implicit message is that the government exists to solve your problems. And that worked in the shadows of 9/11. But when you combine telling people that the government will do for them, with the inescapable theme that the government will do for themselves first (by refusing to end benchmarks), you open yourself up to all kinds of attacks. When Iraq struggles to get on its feet, you look like you can't solve somebody else's problems; when Katrina gets bungled by local, state, and federal authorities, you look like you can't solve your own problems, either (if the federal government didn't exist to solve everybody's problems, then the blame would have more accurately been distributed among state and local authorities, as well.)
If the government exists to solve everybody's problems, and they can't pull it off, then the governing party must be incompetent, . . .
and they deserve to lose elections.
|Is This A Playbook, Or What?|
From Captain Ed, with reportage from CBS.
[The gunship flew from its base in Dijibouti down to the southern tip of Somalia, Martin reports, where the al Qaeda operatives had fled after being chased out of the capital of Mogadishu by Ethiopian troops backed by the United States. ]
The Ethiopians did us a big favor by dislodging the Islamists from Mogadishu. Once on the run, the US could bring all of its technological assets on line to track them, and the Air Force waited long enough for all of them to run into the trap. The Navy positioned the USS Eisenhower in the waters nearby Somalia just in case it finds even more targets to strike.
So, let me see if I have this right. An indigenous force moves on a terrorist stronghold with superior firepower--AND LIBERAL RULES OF ENGAGEMENT--and drives them out into the open, where American air power, backed up by the Navy, hastens their journey to the next life.
Hmmmm . . . I wonder if that approach could be used elsewhere.
Or have we "trained" the Iraqi army to wait until two of theirs are dead before they open fire, too.
|Oh, The NCAA's Gotta Hate This|
There's one team left standing undefeated now that Ohio State got CREAMED! tonight, and it's not the team that's going to be crowned "national champions."
Is there anybody--ANYBODY--who at this point wouldn't like to see Florida, Boise State, LSU, and Wisonsin (or maybe USC) play a three-game tournament for all the marbles? Coulda happened pretty easily . . .
but for the greed of the University Presidents.
|If I Had Enough Money To Buy Advertising Time . . .|
I'd put this ad on during the evening news on all three major local outlets this week.
[set: fake newscast, appropriately coiffed and made-up female newscaster]
And now, in news from the world of science . . .
Researchers at Harvard and Wake Forest Universities are reporting that they have found a way to isolate stem cells from embryonic fluid. The stem cells the researchers have found are the same type of cells, called "pluripotent", that have the capaility of mutating into whatever type of cell environment they are introduced into. This is same sort of capability that researchers have been pursuing without results with embryonic stem cells, but without any of the ethical issues involved in harvesting embryonic stem cells from viable embryos.
Stem cell research has begun paying dividends for the medical research community. Stem cells harvested from umbilical cords have been utilized in over 6000 transplant procedures worldwide, and stem cells harvested from adults have already been successfully used on humans to relieve symptoms of Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. In recent weeks a research team has found a method to extract stems cells from human embryos without leading to that embryo's destruction, and this newest method of harvesting stem cells has already produced laboratory results that are free from the tumors that embryonic stem cells tend to produce.
In related news, Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote for Thursday to allow the U.S. Government to devote billions of dollars to embryonic stem cell research.
And now, we turn to . . . [fade from newsset to black]
[overwrite onto black screen] Call the office of Ed Perlmutter, and ask him to stop the ideologically-driven push to public funding of embryonic stem cell research. Ask him: if he is so driven to finding cures, why not devote the money to therapies that are producing results?
If I had the money . . .
|If The Democrats Weren't Going To Raise Your Taxes . . . |
then why would they change the rules to make it easier to do so?
|Maybe The President Should Listen To Them|
The Democratic Leadership has sent the President a letter:
Dear Mr. President:
The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together [READ: do what we want you to do and we'll work together] on the critical issues confronting our country [like increasing the taxes on oil companies]. No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of the war in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark.
The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they do not believe your current Iraq policy [or, at least, what we let the mainstream media tell them about your Iraq policy] will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people. We understand that you are completing your post-election consultations on Iraq and are preparing to make a major address on your Iraq strategy to the American people next week [so we're going to do a really stupid thing and let the whole world know our dissent strategy ahead of time].
Clearly this address presents you with another opportunity to make a long overdue course correction [like Columbus should have done in the desperate weeks before reaching the new world]. Despite the fact that our troops have been pushed to the breaking point and, in many cases, have already served multiple tours in Iraq [including the huge numbers of them that have re-enlisted after their tours], news reports suggest that you believe the solution to the civil war in Iraq [ha ha ha, notice how we just call it that and take it as a given] is to require additional sacrifices from our troops and are therefore prepared to proceed with a substantial U.S. troop increase.
Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed [again with the assumptions just slipping through]. Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution [and that would be for you to capitulate your Constitutional responsibilities as Commander-In-Chief].
Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain. And it would undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. We are well past the point of more troops for Iraq.
In a recent appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid, [who you just fired] our top commander for Iraq and the region, said the following when asked about whether he thought more troops would contribute to our chances for success in Iraq:
“I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the Corps commander, General Dempsey. We all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is, because we want the Iraqis to do more. It's easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.”
Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months [see, we told you we wouldn't ask for an immediate retrea . . er, withdrawal], while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror. A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond [let's ask the Iranians, the Russians, and the Congolese to intervene], is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement. In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.
Our troops and the American people have already sacrificed a great deal for the future of Iraq. After nearly four years of combat, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, and over $300 billion dollars, it is time to bring the war to a close [with a nice, neat declaration of defeat] . We, therefore, strongly encourage you to reject any plans that call for our getting our troops any deeper into Iraq. We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, [since we have power now, we don't really care that much] like many of our senior military leaders, we do not believe that adding more U.S. combat troops contributes to success.
We appreciate you taking these views into consideration.
Actually, I think the surge the President is apparently thinking about is a pointless act of futility.
In fact, the President should give them credit. Let's hear something a little like this:
My fellow Americans:
Last week, in anticipation of my announcement of a new Iraq strategy, the Democratic Speaker of the House and Majority Leader of the Senate sent me a letter with some advice. Their advice was to refrain fom increasing troop strength in Iraq.
And I thank them for their advice. In the grand spirit of bipartisanship, I have decided to accept their advice, and NOT increase troop strength.
Instead, I have ordered our generals to alter our approach to the problem of Iraq in two very specific ways.
First, I have ordered them to rewrite the Rules of Engagement for our troops. It is ludicrous, dangerous, and criminally stupid that our troops are more afraid of the paperwork they have to file after a shooting incident, or that they will end up on the front page of the New York Times, than they are of the enemy. The enemy are, by and large, fools and cowards who target the innocent and have no stomach for direct engagement with our troops. It is time for us to stop trying to fight them with one hand tied behind our collective backs.
Secondly, I have ordered the redeployment of several divisions to the border regions of Iraq. Their one purpose: shut down the borders of Iran and Syria by whatever means necessary. The evidence of Iranian and Syrian intervention in Iraq--by which I mean the murder of Americans and Iraqis--is incontrovertible. Therefore, the most important step we can take to protect the American troops in theater and the Iraqi people is to end the ability of Iran and Syria to stir the pot of sectarian violence in Iraq.
The enemy will adjust; the enemy will stage women and children in the middle of battle zones; the enemy will ship arms materiel in convoys populated by women and children. The American people need to understand that, as hard as we try not to hurt innocents, sometimes the enemy gives us no choice in the matter. There will be stories about unfortunate individuals hurt by our new approach, and we regret that.
But we regret even more that our brave American soldiers and Marines are dying right now--alongside innocent Iraqis--because we are trying to fight a war nicely.
So, to sum up, here is the change in strategy: we are going to resume fighting this war to WIN. All other purposes will be served best--rebuilding the power grid, securing the oil fields, and building a civil society--after we end the enemy.
Thank you, and God Bless America.
Or something like that.
|Just So We're Clear On Their Priorities|
Newly minted Speaker of the House Pelosi has outlined her very specific goals for the first 100 hours of this Congress. In case you missed them, here they are:
:Ethics Reform (already voted out today)
:Enact the 9/11 Commission Recommendations (watch this space closely)
:Increase the Federal Minimum Wage
:Allow Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research
:Negotiate for Lower Prescription Drug Prices
:Cut the Interest Rates on federal Student Loans
:Increase Taxes on Oil Companies
Those are their priorities.
It is easy to argue that this is a much more ambitious agenda than the Republicans managed to put forward after the 2004 elections; in fact, that's probably why the Democrats get to make the agenda this time around.
But notice that none of their priorities involve protecting the American people, empowering intelligence or law enforcement to do their jobs better, or providing for the military in order to facilitate their missions overseas.
"But what about enacting the 9/11 Commission?" you might ask. Like I said, watch this space. I'm willing to go way out on a limb here and predict that the Democrats will very specifically cherry pick the 9/11 Commission's recommendations in ways that increase oversight and bureaucracy and limit the power of the Executive. And, by the way, probably have very little to do with protecting the American people.
They, like John Edwards, have put forward an ambitious agenda which is one terrible event away from being completely irrelevant.
Hopefully, somebody out there (maybe someone with a bully pulpit. .. .ahem!) will keep everybody focused on the real ballgame, not this third-tier politicking.
Yeah, I'm not holding my breath, either.
|Media Hits and Misses. . . |
as in "hit pieces" and "misrepresentations"
Tonight's entry comes from the latter category.
Did anybody see this in their nightly newscast [courtesy The Kestrel]?
Iraq war protesters broke up a press conference by House Democrats on Wednesday with chants to bring American troops home from Iraq. . . .
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., cut the press conference short when protests drowned out his voice through a dozen microphones set up to record his comments.
Yeah. I didn't either.
You weren't ACTUALLY expecting the media to cover something like this, were you? Had it come off as planned, the story would have been "Democrats set to eact bold agenda, put first woman in Speakership." They would never run a story that would have to be titled "Loonies who put them in power shout down incoming Democratic leadership."
The media would never--WILL never--show the American people the loopiness of the Democratic base. That task will fall to us in the 'sphere.
|Gotta Love the Double Standard|
On the Lawful Execution of Saddam Hussein:
British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott: "unacceptable"
L'Osservatore Romano (The Vatican's Daily): "making a spectacle" of the execution had turned capital punishment into "an expression of political hubris."
Italy is going to renew efforts at the U.N. to ban capital punishment.
Even Cuba called it "an illegal act", and felt it had the " . . .moral duty to express its point of view about the assassination committed by the occupying power."
Keep in mind, all of this consternation is because of the dissemination of a bootlegged videophone recording of the execution by somebody inside the execution chambers. It was neither made by the U.S. or Iraqi governments, nor sanctioned nor distributed. And, given the method, it is fairly clear that, had those governments known about it, it would probably never have gotten out.
Funny, I don't remember similar statements of outrage and moral superiority at the DELIBERATELY MADE AND DISTRIBUTED televised recordings of the gruesome beheadings of a number of American soldiers and contractors in the first two years of the war. And, all of these sources have, somehow, gone quiet at the truly despicable acts of mass murder that happen every day in Iraq.
I think we've truly lost our way as a civilization when the just execution of one truly evil man draws more international outrage than the murders of women and children just going about their daily lives.
Encouragingly, at least the new U.N. General Secretary got it right:
Saddam Hussein was responsible for committing heinous crimes and unspeakable atrocities against Iraqi people and we should never forget victims of his crime, . . .The issue of capital punishment is for each and every member state to decide."
|In Defense of a Good Company|
My friend over at Mangled Cat has posted a strong defense of his company, Starbuck's, which is getting a bit of a bad rap right now about copyright stuff. Read it, and consider whether it's fair that today's society has declared "open season" on successful companies--even Lefty ones.
Now, whether or not it's moral to get me hooked on $4 cups of coffee is an issue for further debate . . .
|This Should Embarrass the Pentagon|
And, for that matter, every agency even vaguely related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As the last remaining stronghold of the Islamic group was overrun by government troops backed by Ethiopian tanks and MiG fighter jets, the net began closing on suspected al-Qaida militants believed to be sheltered by the hard-line group.
Neighboring Kenya vowed to seal its frontier to prevent any extremists, now wedged against the sea and their border, from escaping the 13-day military offensive.
THIS is how you fight a war.
And, since Mark Steyn (who else?) has already said it better, I'll just quote and link.
One difference between the Ethiopians in Somalia and the Americans in Iraq is that the former aren't fighting with one hand behind their back just in case some EU ally or humanitarian lobby group or fictitious Associated Press source leaks some "war crime" or other to the media. In fact, the Ethiopians have the advantage of more or less total lack of interest from the Western media. So they're just getting on with it. . . .
Note to Pentagon for 2007: THEY WILL LIKE US WHEN WE WIN!