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


News From The Schools 

The results of the Spring, 2007 Colorado School Assessment Program are in.

For those of you unfamiliar with the CSAP, as it's called, this is Colorado's student testing program, which has been in place for about a decade, and which is used to guage Colorado's compliance with No Child Left Behind.

To get the results for a specific school, work through this link.

To get results for an entire district, work through this link.

The overall?

Statewide achievement test scores stayed largely flat this year, with only small, scattered gains, particularly in science and all middle school subjects.

The results of the Colorado Student Assessment Program tests, released today, indicate that school reform is stalling. One- third of students still cannot read adequately and nearly half are substandard in math.

Well, that's discouraging.

I haven't had time to absorb all the numbers or break them down at all. I'll have a lot more to say once I've a chance to do that.

In the meantime, against that backdrop, go read a couple smart people write about one little segment of education. Denise posts some perceptions about what parents need to look for if they're shopping for charter schools; and Richie D has some thoughts on "charter- and home-school apologetics."

No doubt one of these two will have some good thoughts on CSAPs in relation to their little corner of the educational world. And, if not, give me a few days--I'll break it down for you in due time.

The Colorado Four ARE Impressive: 95.8% 

Captain Ed put up a great post last night based on some research from the WaPo.

Both parties like to blame the other for failing to exercise independence in Congress. Their supporters blame the members of the opposite side for excessive partisanship which keeps Washington DC from accomplishing anything for the people. The Washington Post decided to take a look at the 110th Congress to see which party exercises the most partisanship -- and the Democrats win the prize.

In fact, the Democrats take nine of the top ten partisan spots, as well as scoring 8 points higher in partisanship as a party. The lone Republican ties for first, though:

100% - Charlie Norwood (R-GA)
100% - Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 9
9.7% - Nita Lowey (D-NY)
99.4% - Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA)
99.1% - Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
98.9% - Xavier Bacerra (D-CA)
98.7% - Diana DeGette (D-CO)
98.6% - Gary Ackerman (D-NY)
98.6% - Hilda Solis (D-CA)
98.6% - Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)
98.6% - Al Wynn (D-MD)

Of course, Norwood is dead, and has been since February (h/t: The Anchoress). After Norwood, the next Republican comes in at 94.8%. JoAnn Davis (R-VA) has only cast 134 votes, however, as she has missed significant time while fighting a recurrence of breast cancer. She comes in at #174 on the list of partisans -- which means that Democrats occupy all of the previous 173 slots, of those among the living, anyway.

So, it would seem, excessive partisanship is excessively a Democrat phenomenon.

But, to the contents of the title of this post . . .

How do Colorado's four Democrats rate? 95.8%. NINETY-FIVE FRICKIN' PERCENT!!! On 19 of every twenty votes, the Colorado Democratic delegation can be counted on to toe the line.

Way to represent the people of Colorado there, guys and gals.

The individual ratings are as follows:

Degette: 98.7%, good enough to rank 7th in the whole House;
Ed Perlmutter: 95.4% ( I wonder if the 7th Con District agrees with the Dems 95.7% of the time?
Mark Udall: 95.1% so much for that attempt at painting himself as a "moderate"--GET THIS NUMBER OUT THERE, Bob Schaffer!!
John Salazar: 94.8%

Feel well-represented? Feel like your representatives are putting YOUR good above their own or their party's?

Me neither.

So, you probably ask, how do the Republicans fare? Well:

Musgrave: 90.4%
Tancredo: 88.9%
Lamborn: 87.8%

Not exactly rebellious, those Republicans; but a bit more even-handed than their Democrat counterparts.

Want to know why so little gets done in Washington? It's a problem that goes both ways . . .

but one way is a little more pronounced than the other.


Just to Clarify My Position . . . 

I still think it would be a good idea for the GOP candidates to take part in the CNN/YouTube debate.

Contrary to the impression some might have gotten from the debate my brother and I have been having at this site over the last two days, I still hold to my original position that the Republican candidates have an obligation to engage anywhere, any time, in any format, no matter how stupid. I was simply positing that IF they were going to take Hugh's advice and skip the CNN debate, then there is a way to do it, and that's by going after CNN.

All things considered, though, it would be a lot better to go into the belly of the beast and engage directly. As has been noted elsewhere, the questions are available online, everybody really knows what this is about and what's coming . . . so go face it, and be better than it.

That said, if they were going to go their own direction with my townhall meeting idea, I think it would be difficult for their media brothers--even in this environment--to fail to show footage of the townhall meeting right after they talked about the candidates skipping the CNN debate. Imagine:

Thanks, Phil. In national news, the Republicans held their fourth debate last night in Florida, minus all of the top-tier candidates. [insert footage from the debate] Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney decided to avoid the debate, sponsored by CNN and YouTube, citing doubts about the fairness of CNN and the seriousness of the YouTube questions posed online. When asked about the impression they thought it would make to avoid a tough debate while running on a platform of toughness, neither campaign had any comment.

In other news, Governor Romney and Mayor Giuliani held a locally broadcast, but widely picked-up town hall meeting from Jacksonville, which prominently featured questions from military members stationed in Jacksonville . . .

I like the imagery of that.

Nonetheless, it seems like it's becoming a moot point, as both the Romney and Giuliani campaigns are coming closer to agreeing to the debate on a different date.

Good. Let's see who can be funny and strong and smart and combative in the context of an idiotic event. THAT person will be able to be whatever he needs to be when the job gets hard.

Just to Clarify My Position . . . 

Continuation of Revising and Extending 

My brother, who is very smart, disagreed with me on a few points from last night's post. His complete remarks are in the comments, but I thought it worth the time to answer a few of his remarks.

It isn't win-win if the candidate essentially says that CNN is the reason for a non-appearance at a debate, in much the same manner that conservatives clamored at the pull-outs of all the Dem candidates from the Fox-sponsored debate. It's even worse, in fact, because right now the only people who remember the Fox debacle are staunch conservative bloggers; with CNN as the bullhorn reminding everybody within earshot that "the GOP didn't want to debate on our stage"

Well, to begin with, I'm not really sure just what a bullhorn CNN is, and if FoxNews' influence is confined, how much more so is CNN's? Secondly, if the candidate wordsmiths it well, saying CNN is the reason will encourage other media to shine some scrutiny onto CNN. In the meantime, CNN has lost its top draws to their event.

At least in the debate a candidate will not be in the continuous spotlight on the stage--like he would be if he won the job to which he aspires.

Personally, if I were a candidate, at this point, I WANT THE CONTINUOUS SPOTLIGHT. I want every opportunity to convince the American people that I belong on this stage and deserve to be on it for the next four years. This townhall format limits the opportunity for the small candidates to waste our time (Paul/Tancredo/et al. will be trying to stick to free media--how much fun would it be if CNN got left with only Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Anderson Cooper on stage?), while miximizing the opportunity for the big guys to really talk and really engage.

I have a feeling we'll hear from Thompson before this thing comes down the pipe. What better way to kick-start your campaign than being the guy who dared tread where Romney and Giuliani didn't? Assuming he performed well, he essentially would be taking the leadership role of the party in one night.

This is a brilliant point. Thompson could certainly do himself some favors with a huge, bold move like my brother suggests. And, if he performs well, it certainly would vault him to the front of the stage.

But I remain unconvinced. If the threshhold is survival, I see very little upside for Romney or Giuliani. Rather, these guys should be swinging for the fences and doing everything they can to shake up the business as usual of American campaigns.


Permission To Revise And Extend 

Two nights ago I wrote that the Republicans should not avoid the CNN/YouTube debate--that Republicans need to take advantage of every opportunity to talk to the American people as directly as possible.

I now wish to add a proviso for those who do not want to participate in this debate:

Don't use your schedule as an excuse, don't try to justify your non-appearance with fundraising events or other things--tell it like it is.

And then make sure that you're having a very public event at the same time in a different venue, one that is not controlled by CNN.

A statement that would earn my support would sound something like this:

Having watched the Democrats debate last week, and having analyzed the performance of CNN in running that debate, I have decided not to participate in the upcoming debate.

If you look closely at the Democratic debate, you will notice that the difficult and challenging national security questions were steered away from the major candidates; you will notice that, of the all the thousands of questions submitted, CNN did not select a single one challenging the obvious deficiencies of the Democratic candidates on experience or national security; and you will also notice that not only did the moderator NOT challenge any of the obviously faulty premises of the questions, he did not challenge any of the obvious non-answers from the candidates themselves.

A debate of this format does nothing to elevate the level of discourse in this campaign, and, likewise, trivializes the great seriousness of this moment in history.

Instead, I will be arranging for a town-hall meeting in Jacksonville, FL on the same evening; I will be directing my campaign to purchase as much television time as is feasible on one of the major television outlets in that market, so the people of Florida can see and hear this meeting; I will, likewise, invite the other major candidates (and pre-candidates) who are not taking part in the CNN debate to join me that night; and I will be directing my campaign to provide transportation to the town-hall meeting from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, so that the people of Florida, and America, can hear the great intellect and sense of purpose that I am confident will be evident in the questions asked by the men and women who serve our country.

I am hopeful that this format will provide for a much greater opportunity for myself and my fellow Republicans to articulate their vision for the country, and also to answer hard questions about the serious issues facing this country, unfiltered and unbiased. I am also excited at the opportunity to speak directly to the people of Florida, and to hear directly from the men and women of our military what is on their minds.

Thank you.

I, honestly, have no idea how much such an event would cost a campaign; but, I am relatively confident that such a cost would be made back by donations of a Republican base excited that one of these candidates would up the ante in that way.

But this solves Hugh's issue with the event: there will still be an event, it will still feature "ordinary people" [plus our best and brightest and bravest], but it removes the "silly" factor.

In fact, I'll bet more than one campaign would beg for a chance to pay in to this event--it would look bad not to.

The point is, this would both be a bold move that engages the public, and it directly challenges the media's bias throughout the early stages of the campaign.



Why Don't Liberals Want A Debate? 

First, they embrace the Fairness Doctrine.

Now, they're trying to intimidate companies into dropping their ads on Fox News.

Liberal activists are stepping up their campaign against Fox News Channel by pressuring advertisers not to patronize the network.

MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America's Future and liberal blogs like DailyKos.com are asking thousands of supporters to monitor who is advertising on the network. Once a database is gathered, an organized phone-calling campaign will begin, said Jim Gilliam, vice president of media strategy for Brave New Films, a company that has made anti-Fox videos.

I want that database, too . . .because then I'll know which companies to do business with.

And, at the same time, let's all have a little fun trying to figure out what companies advertise on DailyKos, MoveOn, Brave New Films and CAF. I don't want to boycott them, but I bet their leadership would be interested to know the sort of economic blackmail their beneficiaries practice.

But, more importantly, these groups need to be confronted with their cowardice. If you don't like the influence of Fox News, then come up with better arguments to compete with FoxNews' conservatives. How about trying to win a game or two in the battle of ideas, rather than constantly working to change the playing field?

Which is why it's so infuriating when Republicans don't engage--our ideas are better, but nobody knows this if you don't shout them froom the rooftops.


I Understand Pork Spending 

Married men, you know this phenomenon (doot dooooh, da dooh doo!)

You're on your way home from dinner with the family, and your wife reminds you that there's a couple things you need from Wal-Mart.

That's it: just two or three, specific, distinct items.

And yet, once you allow the rest of the carload to come in the store (because they need to "stretch their legs"), two items get a little lost in the process.

And it's not that it's all frivolous or goofy stuff--there's many things that are necessary and needed, and the wife is much better at remembering those things than I am.

But then one of the kids, whose buying a gift or a friend's birthday this weekend, sees something she really wants; then the wife reminds you how she's been really helpful around the house lately; and then another kid thinks "if one, than me too", and the cart gets fuller.

And then there's the "I don't really know what she wants for her birthday" which costs you 25 minutes.

And, as you go to the checkout stand, you look at everything in the cart, you know why it's in the cart, you can even tell yourself how important it was, though you can't, for the life of you, imagine where the last 90 minutes went.

And then it ocurred to me that this is EXACTLY the process Congress must go through. It takes too long, you end up with a lot more than you intended to, and you can find a hundred justifications or all of it.

So, as much as I want to be outraged at appropriations bills that vastly exceed what the President originally submits, I can understand Congress' impulses.

They're just like my 6-year old spending somebody else's money.

Caution: Venting Zone Ahead 

I've been trying to absorb the news of the past 12 hours, and trying to put all the pieces into their place in the big picture, and as I was thinking, I noticed I was getting a little bit angry.

First, here's the news I'm talking about:

:Scott Thomas Beachamp has outed himself as the writer of the psuedonymous "Baghdad Diaries" at The New Republic. The man who reported with cynical humor about he and his unit-mates mocking a disfigured female soldier, and then how one of his buddies kept a piece of a child's skull in his helmet and how he made a point of targeting dogs as he was driving down the street, now reveals that he's a real person.

Unfortunately for him, lots of people are on his trail, including:
:Michelle Malkin
:Dean Barnett
:Scott Johnson
:Mudville Gazette

The big news from all these brilliant searchers is the existence of Scott Beauchamp's blog, which contains . . . .ug . . .poetry. The brilliant likes of which include this revelatory stanza:

but I cant do it without getting through this army experience first, which will add a legitimacy to EVERYTHING i do afterwards, and totally bolster my opinions on defense, etc,

That's important; I'll come back to it.

:Secondly, the GOP top tier seems inclined to skip the CNN/YouTube Debate.

Why do these two pieces of news have me in a tizzy?

Well, first off, the thing about Beauchamp's blog isn't that he's a hopeless lefty--that's not news. The point is that he's using--HE'S USING--the United States Military to "add legitimacy" to his life.

We saw this phenomenon in 2006--go back through all the races Republicans lost in 2006 and add up all the Dems with military experience on the resume. The problem is, IT WORKED! The races in which a Democrat vet--even ones as nutty as John Murtha--ran were ones in which the Republicans lost their best weapon in the battle. We made NO effective effort to cast doubts on these guy's judgement because they fell back on the Veteran argument.

And this is not to cast any aspersions on anybody's service--absent any decent information to the contrary, I assume they all served with honor, and for that, I'm grateful.

But goofballs (and I'm being kind in my choice of adjectives) like Beauchamp saw that phenomenon and decided to "cash in" on it. Clearly, Scott Thomas Beachamp IS NOT SERVING HIS COUNTRY--he's serving himself and his ambitions. Likewise, it seems pretty clear that he is headed for disciplinary action, if not court-martial. Thus, I feel no sense of obligation to honor his service.

But, in the larger sense, this is what the Left sees as an innoculation against later arguments that they're all Eugene McCarthy reincarnate--if they, as did John Kerry, put on the uniform for any length of time, then they believe they can be as naive (Murtha), pathetic (Sheehan), or psychotic (Beauchamp) as they want to with impunity.

And the problem is, again, IT WORKED. And will, likely, continue to work unless we gt our act together on this.

Which brings me to the second story.

I can not disagree more vehemently with Hugh on this one. OF COURSE CNN will skew it far to the Left; OF COURSE there will be a heavy dose of idiocy among the questions; and OF COURSE it's a trap.

But good traps are surprises, and this one isn't.

WE MUST ENGAGE!!! In every medium, in every event, with every spare ounce of intellectual capability we have WE HAVE GOT TO ENGAGE!!!

And, no, not in the stupid and futile ways the administration seems inclined to.

More like the way that Mitch McConnell has engaged the Senate Democrats over the past two weeks.

So, my ire got raised over the combination of two pieces of news which show--to little surprise to me--that WE ARE GETTING WORKED by the Democrats in a strategic sense. They have a strategy, they have the energy, they have the money at this point . . .

and probably fully one-third of all Republicans are waiting on a 60-something actor to dig us out of the mess we're in.

Folks, Fred Thompson is not the answer.

When Abraham Lincoln was in a tough race, he actually showed up at one of his opponent's speeches, and invited the assembled crowd to come back the next night to hear his rebuttal. This led to a series of debates which have become the template for how to have a high-minded, serious discussion of the issues.

A template which hasn't been followed in, oh . . . 46 years.

And some will say "but Lincoln lost that election;" yes, but the respect it earned him led directly to a bit higher office two years later.

The candidates in the field right now CAN NOT afford to miss ANY opportunity to engage the public. When somebody asks an idiotic question, they should be gracious and--God forbid--funny; when CNN picks a stupid Lefty question, they should first knock the hell out of the premise and then re-frame the question into something sensible for the country. At some point, you gotta know the YouTubers are not going to be watching, so somebody's--preferrably EVERYBODY, but I'm not going to hold my breath on Ron Paul--got to make sense to the country.

And then, somebody ought to get on the phone with all the Party Chairs around the country and GET A CANDIDATE LIST OUT THERE. One has to believe that Ed Perlmutter is vulnerable in the Colorado 7th, but I haven't heard any names. I haven't heard any names for the CO 3rd held by the other Salazar, either. And as much as I respect his feistiness, Bob Shaffer has been a bit too quiet for my taste, also.

You don't need money at this point--you need a e-mailing list and somebody willing to send out your message every day. This should be easy--Perlmutter and Udall are two of the Leftiest candidates in competitive places anywhere in the country.


So that's why I'm a bit . . . . ticked today. We are leaving the field of battle empty to people who actually have a plan, even if it's cynical and, well, execrable.

Which makes us complicit in our own defeat.



Avoiding the 800 Pound Gorilla 

The Rocky Mountain News ran a breathless story today about the space crunch in Colorado's prison system. Below are a sample of the explanations given for the crisis--see if you can find the obvious one that's missing:

Unless lawmakers reverse the emphasis on incarceration, analysts now say, prisons can expect to house nearly 28,000 inmates in 2013, compared with 22,519 as of June 30 . . .

said Lance Clem, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Safety. "The crime rate is starting to level off, while the incarceration rate continues to increase." . . .

The state’s inmate population grew 6.8 percent between 1995 and 2005 — much higher than the 2.6 percent rate nationally . . .

Criminal-justice officials cite a variety of possible reasons, including a spike in drug offenses, stricter sentences and a continuing cycle of repeat offenders unable to break free of the prison system. . . .

"For every 1 percent we lower the recidivism rate, it reduces the future needs by almost $5 million over three years," he said. . . .

So there--do you see the problem? The missing link in the story?

So, let's see. If we're looking at a crisis, with numbers increasing from 22,500 to 28,000, that's about 5,500 new prisoners in the next five years.

5,500 . . .5,500 . . .hmmmmm. . .

Can anybody tell me the number of illegal aliens who are getting three-squares of slop and a cot every day on the govenment's dime?

It seems to me, and I may just be spitballing here, but if we just shipped all the illegals who are in prison BACK to Mexico (or wherever), I'll bet we could clear up a little space in the jails.


Not My Words 

After it was over, I for the first time went systematically through my feelings about each candidate. For whatever it's worth, here goes:

Hillary Clinton: Clearly competent and politically savvy, but politics as usual if she gets elected. I got no real sense of a vision for the direction of the country . . .

Barack Obama: pretty much the opposite of Hillary Clinton; . . . Sadly, I still think that America is still too racist and sexist to elect a black man or a white woman.

John Edwards: One trick pony: poverty. It's a great trick and a great pony, but it's not enough.

Joe Biden and Chris Dodd: stay in the Senate, guys. You're doing a good job there.

Bill Richardson: . . . But he just doesn't seem presidential to me; . . .

Dennis Kucinich: one trick pony: end the war. . . .

Mike Gravel: kudos for his stance in Vietnam (I am a vet of that era), but I don't want that anger running the country.

What about stupid drug laws, fighting terrorism by inconveniencing terrorists (that stupid no-fly list, nail clipper confiscation, taking off shoes), the death penalty, media concentration and other antitrust enforcement, clean water and air (global warming is important, but not the only environmental issue), lobbying reform, union organizing, prescription drug importation, .... Maybe the Republican debate will address these things.

This is an excerpt from a liberal's impression of the Monday night debate. Oddly, so many of his impressions are spot-on with what most conservatives would say, also. Except, of course, Obama: it's not that America is too racist to elect a black man, it's that Obama's too inexperienced to trust at the helm.

I did watch a little of the debate--about 20 minutes. That's all I could take. It wasn't just that the people on stage were bad, and that Anderson Cooper was smarmy and out of his depth; it's that the YouTube-generation representatives the CNN people picked to ask questions were SOOO embarassingly naive and self-serving. If this is the kind of person who will populate the corridors of power as interns and assistants if the Dems win the White House, then we are in a heap of trouble.

The people CNN picked to ask questions were in no way representative of the young men and women I've worked with of this generation. Somehow, CNN managed to find every slacker with a grudge and a computer camera.

Which makes sense--the good ones are all a little busy to take part in such navel gazing.

We can hope, as does the author above, that the Republican debate will address the serious issues, and do so with a little more impressive collection of questioners.

Just In Case You Were Relaxing 

The AP is reporting that airports have been warned to look out for terrorists probing our defenses.

Airport security officers around the nation have been alerted by federal officials to look out for terrorists practicing to carry explosive components onto aircraft, based on four curious seizures at airports since last September. . . .

The seizures at airports in San Diego, Milwaukee, Houston and Baltimore included "wires, switches, pipes or tubes, cell phone components and dense clay-like substances," including block cheese, the bulletin said. "The unusual nature and increase in number of these improvised items raise concern."

This seems to work pretty well in conjunction with the great reporting the guys over at Powerline have been doing on the case of the "Flying Imams." (here, here, and here, among others). Remember the salient details of the Imams?

--a group of Muslims were seen in the terminal prior to boarding making meeting and then praying loudly and somewhat oddly
--this group of Muslims then all got onto the same flight, and took seats in a loose 2-2-2 formation similar to the one the 9-11 hijackers used
--some of this group asked for seat belt extensions which they clearly did not need for themselves, and then just left them on the floor in front of them
--they were seen making eye contact and communicating in a suspicious way during the flight, which prompted some passengers to ask for them to be removed.

Sounds a bit like a probe, doesn't it?

There was also that odd incident with the Syrians who were all part of a band (?!?!). For those unfamiliar with the anatomy of musical instruments, I remind you that guitars and all similar instruments come equipped with at least 6 metallic chords, not at all dissimilar from piano wire, which was once the tool of choice for assassins looking to garotte their quarry.

So, there you go . . . Feel better about that cross-country flight you're taking next week?

Churchill Is Gone 

Thank goodness. As tiresome as this guy's act is, the whole story line was beginning to surpass it.

There are those who think this is a good thing for the University, that it somehow salvages the reputation and credibility of the school (and, by the way, my alma mater). I disagree.

I think this firing is, at BEST a belated , last-ditch reach out for spin control. The University has been revealed to have lax hiring policies, shoddy peer review processes, a (completely unsurprising) way-Left ideological bent, and a bureaucratic process gone completely insane. The credibility of the University is, at this point, a bit beyond recovery.

They've just got to be glad it's over. As am I.



Musings From Vacation 

I've been quiet for the past week because I took the wife and family to South Dakota for a week--actually three full days plus two partial days with travel on either side.

It was a really cool trip, if hot and a bit, well, rushed. Much to my surprise, there is WAY more to do in South Dakota than can be fit in in three-plus days. And, really, hat's off to the people and leadership of South Dakota, who, over the years, have really maximized their potential into a massive tourist industry.

Of course, tops on the list of things to do in South Dakota is Mount Rushmore. And, being my first time, I really have to say it is quite an impressive display. Both as a tribute to man's industry in carving a giant sculpture out of raw mountain, and in the sentiment it portrays of pride and raw Americanism, it is VERY impressive.

But, as with most things impressive, it does inspire a variety of thoughts, which I will dispense with in no particular order.

--This could only have been built in the intra-World War era. Consider what would happen if someone tried to build such a memorial today: lawsuits about defacement of natural landscapes; lawsuits about waste and traffic and whatnot through the environment; studies about environmental impact delaying work for years; endless political wrangling about which Presidents to include on the mountain--or if to even put Presidents on it, to begin with; predictable protests from American Indians, African-Americans and others to be sure they get "represented", and so on, and so on . . . I mean, seriously, a society that cannot even manage to get a memorial up to the courage and initiative of the passengers of Flight 93 after 5 years cannot possibly hope to ever decide on a set of people to honor in this way

:Likewise, the Crazy Horse Memorial will never be done in my lifetime. It is impressive in its design, and the fact that you can see a face from the highway a couple miles away is pretty cool . . . but the design is so much more ambitious than the current progress, and the pace of work is so dreadfully slow, that I just don't see any chance that it will ever get done. I think the odds of the mountain being struck by lightning and destroyed are much greater than the odds of the memorial being completed.

:Of course, Rushmore itself is both awesome AND very humbling. Consider--by the time they were my current age, the faces on the mountain had accomplished, among other things, the following: become a lieutenant colonel and led troops into successful battle in the French and Indian War, was a self-educated lawyer who was elected to the House, was a famed historian and commissioner of the New York City Police Commission, and had authored a really famous document . . let's see, what was that called? . . .oh, yeah--the Declaration of Independence. Nothing like being faced with these four guys to feel like a slacker.

:And, it occurred to me, with some sense of political comfort, that all four of those on the mountain were exceptionally controversial figures in their time. The least controversial of these, Washington, had a somewhat undistinguished military history before leading the Continental Army in a disastrous 1776 campaign which offered many fewer successes than Iraq does today; Jefferson was responsible for the most overt act of imperialism in American history with the Louisiana Purchase; Lincoln's stalwart support for the abolition of slavery led to an ACTUAL splitting of the country (unlike the current state of the country); and Roosevelt's actions vis-a-vis Panama earned him great vitriol and the nickname "Emperor Teddy". And yet, all four of them survived their temporary difficulties to be recognized by history (and Gutzon Borglum) as the giants of American history. Now, I'm not in any way ready to put George Bush's face on a mountain--or a pile of mashed potatoes, for that matter--but it seems that there's hope that history will be better to him than the contemporary press.

:All that time as a passenger in a car (yeah, we had company and I did not have to drive) going through Wyoming (yeesh!!) gives a person a lot of time to read. This trip's reading selection? "A Blueprint for Action", Thomas P.M. Barnett's application-centered follow-up to "The Pentagon's New Map." And, boy! does that book get a brain thinking. I'll have many other thoughts about this book in the days and weeks to come; in the meantime, if you get a chance to read this book DO IT! I learned more about diplomacy and world affairs in a few hours in the car than I think I've learned in the whole rest of my life combined.


In Case You Missed It 

That was somebody related to this blog who got a little letter published last week in the Rocky.

And the blog strikes out into Big Media for a spell. . . .

and then retreats back into the basement where he belongs.

Consumer Alert--Update 

A couple nights ago I wrote how Comcast Digital Phone installation had screwed up all my phone service.

Well, today, finally, after five days, we have our phone service back.

Five days later, and the tech tells me that any of the ten different people I talked to over the course of the five days could have solved the problem by a few keystrokes on their computer back in wherever it is these people work.

Which, of course, made my day to hear that.

Again, I would encourage you to ask a lot of questions before subscribing to this service. And then ask a few more.

Denver Post: Here Come The Mormons!! 

The Denver Post had a major, front-page article today on Mitt Romney. The headline is straightforward:

Romney Faces Skepticism

But the caption, which doesn't show up in the online version, is priceless:

Candidate Tries To Bolster Credentials With Some of the base who sees his religion as a cult.

Ah, yes. Let's just slip in the "c" word as early as possible, make it front-page above the fold, and then, for whatever reason, leave it out of the easier-to-find online version.


The article itself is actually fairly balanced. It includes some very nice bio stuff like this:

One of Romney's key strengths is navigating difficult situations. After graduating with an MBA and a law degree from Harvard, Romney made his fortune as a financial consultant first at Boston's Bain & Co., and then he led the charge at Bain Capital. There he solved problems for major companies.

His wealth has been estimated to be about $400 million.

After making his fortune, Romney famously stepped in and turned around the 2002 scandal-ridden, financially troubled Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Then he went on to win a term as a Republican governor in heavily Democratic Massachusetts. In the Massachusetts election, he battled criticism over his state residency, but not over his religion.

And there is quite a bit of good background on LDS, including extensive quoting of Romney himself.

Romney comes off sounding like a man well-qualified for the job; so why would his religion be an issue? Is it because the Leftists in the media see us on the right as so close-minded that it makes easy copy for them? Or is it because the Leftists are actually so close-minded that THEY want to take their shots at him.

Or is it because the Leftists recognize that he could be formidable in the general election, so they want to start tearing at him now.

But what I found troubling about this article, other than the obvious bigotry in the headline, is actually the LACK of evidence for a split between Romney and Evangelicals that would have justified this coverage. In the whole article, they quote James Dobson from an old interview, and then they quote the spokesperson for Focus on the Family.

That's it--basically, ONE Evangelical to question about this.

That's really all they could find? Why, I know a few media types who would be called Conservative/Evangelical Christians (Ben and Jim jump to mind) who could surely provide both intelligent and balanced commentary on the issue. For that matter, I wrote on the subject not very long ago--I would have been happy to comment.

But for some reason the Post builds an entire schism within the GOP base on the commentary of one group.

I'm sure--in fact, I know--there are some Evangelicals who will not vote for a Mormon; just as there are some African-Americans who will never vote for a white man, or Muslims who would never vote for a woman. But each of these groups are but small subsets of the greater group that they represent.

It is irresponsible journalism for the Post to build a whole story on such flimsy evidence: it really wouldn't have been that hard to get more commentary.


Why Are Two of the Big Three Keeping Their Powder Dry? 

The Rocky ran an interesting article about Colorado donations to Presidential campaigns to this point in the cycle. Not surprisingly, Barack Obama is outpacing everybody at this point.

Colorado's financial love affair with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama continued into the second quarter as the senator from Illinois collected $364,000 from donors in the state.

On the Republican presidential side, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain came away with the most campaign cash from Colorado.

Obama has now raised almost $1 million in Colorado since the first of the year. That's by far the most money raised in the state by any of the candidates from either major political party.

His take from the second quarter was more than double the $121,373 that Sen. Hillary Clinton collected from Coloradans or the $133,405 received by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Guiliani's and McCain's financial support in Colorado is on the rise at a time when most Republican candidates saw donations from the state drop.

With the support of former Colorado gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman and broadcaster and former Denver Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe, Giuliani raised $176,810. That is up from the $108,000 Giuliani raised in the first quarter of this year.

McCain raised about the same, $176,108, more than double what he raised in the first quarter.

But, of more interest to me is this little nugget buried deep within the article: the list of Democratic donors.

Obama collected 756 donations in Colorado between April and June. They included $1,000 from attorney Jean Dubofsky, $4,600 each from East West Partners executive Harry Frampton and his wife, and $250 from Progressive Now official Michael Huttner.

Major donors to Clinton included former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, $1,300; the campaign committee of former Denver congresswoman Pat Schroeder, $1,000; and former U.S. Senate candidate Tom Strickland, $2,300.

Richardson said he received $133,405 from Coloradans during the second quarter. Prominent donors include Polly Baca, executive director of the Latin American Research and Services Agency, $250; businessman Tim Marquez and his wife, $4,600; Fort Collins heiress Pat Stryker, $2,300; and former Denver City Attorney Cole Finnegan, $1,000.

Other Democratic candidates split the support of the political establishment in Colorado. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd got donations from nine members of the Denver law firm Brownstein, Hyatt and Farber, while Delaware Sen. Joe Biden got donations from Celestial Seasonings founder Moe Siegel and Strickland. Attorney Norm Brownstein gave to both Dodd and Biden.

Stryker also gave $2,300 to Clinton and to Democratic Party contender John Edwards, who raised $35,912.

Notice that Pat Stryker's name showed up in donations--maximum donations--for three different candidates: Richardson, Clinton and Edwards. An interesting mix, to be sure: the front-runner, and two of the likely Veep possibilities?

But, perhaps, more interesting is the absence from the list of the other members of the Big Three. Where, on the list of donors, are Tim Gill and Jared Polis? Polis, perhaps, can be explained by concentrating on his own quest for the seat being vacated by Mark Udall (though surely his personal wealth is sufficient to both run a campaign and contribute to others').

But where is Tim Gill? Why, one wonders, isn't he spreading his wealth around so early in the process? I mean, really, he's helped but two straight state elections--why not buy a Presidential primary to add to the list?

Or, is it just that he and Polis are sitting on the sidelines for now, waiting to contribute until they can have the greatest effect. I'll be watching the next reports with great interest, to see if these two give their imprimatur to anybody at that point.

On the Day's Main Story 

As somebody once said, anybody can do just about anything if they're willing to die in the process.

Today proves that, to some degree.

I can only thank God that none of the dozens of staff and visitors to the Capitol this afternoon got caught in any crossfire or by a wild spray of shots. It seems quite a stroke of luck that actually NOBODY got hurt outside or inside Gov. Ritter's office this afternoon except the gunman himself.

Which actually raises quite a few questions. If this guy was actually intent on hurting somebody, why did he allow himself to be redirected away from the Governor's office without forcing his way in? Why did he never actually fire the weapon? Why did he comply with orders to move away from the office, but not with the order to drop his weapon? If he was really intent on taking over state government, why do it while the legislature was out of session?

And who is the "emperor"?

Sadly, this sounds all too much like a poor man with a bad mental condition who couldn't pull the trigger on himself, so he committed "suicide by cop"--creating a situation in which the only choice left for the police is to shoot someone.

Of course, that's just speculation from an amateur psychologist.

For some more speculation from an amateur psychologist, I direct you to this page. Dazzling: long before we ever found out the name of the gunman, the Left was already blaming both gun laws and talk radio. How's that for incisive, informed analysis?


Of Blind Squirrels and Vindication 

You know a tax increase was a bad thing when even the Denver Post's Diane Carman recognizes that there's problems.

As this blog pointed out on a couple different occassions before that fateful election (here and here), Referendum C was a boondoggle waiting to happen. It didn't really matter that a Republican Governor was one of its major supporters--it was always a bad idea, and, in fact, it's probably part of the reason we don't now have a Republican governor, as Bob Beauprez's lukewarm support of the measure both angered his base and made him look weak to independents.

But that aside, it's now becoming obvious--even to liberals like Carman--that C doesn't quite deliver what it promised to deliver.

When the campaign for Referendums C and D barnstormed the state in 2005, the overriding message was that the money generated would be spent on health care, K-12 education and higher education, with 10 percent set aside for transportation projects to be financed under Referendum D.

It seemed so straightforward.

That should have been our first clue.

Um . . .yeah. I suppose when the entire political and media establish all line up behind an idea, somebody should be doing a wallet check.

No one anticipated the state economy rebounding as exuberantly as it has.

In point of fact, a few of us noticed the recovery which was already taking place months BEFORE Ref C & D. But, for some reason, that factoid never quite made it into the discourse.
Early estimates of Referendum C revenue over the five years it would be in effect were $3.2 billion. Just before the 2005 election, the figure was $3.7 billion. Now it's $5.9 billion.

If revenues had been lower - as forecast - and didn't bump the general fund over the 6 percent limit, Bird-Arveschoug would still be an obscure quirk in the constitution, and the distribution formula for Referendum C cash wouldn't be so acrimonious.

As it is, the capital construction budget stands to gain a whopping $1.7 billion windfall.

"We didn't realize that the economy would recover so much and that the limit would be pierced so quickly,"

Yes, B-A is an obscure quirk, but one with unintentional and ironically hilarious side effects.

It turns out that the economic Chicken Littles were SO wrong that they ended up being right.

Instead of a $3.2 billion solution to a $1 billion problem, we ended up with a $5.9 billion solution that's actually only a $4.2 billion solution.

But still, it's not enough for liberals, as Governor Ritter has found a way to take another $1.7 billion out of your pockets through a property tax maneuver, and this legislature has created a whole new department to enforce all the new fees they're going to assess you over the next several years.

I wonder how long it will take Carman to notice THAT boondoggle.


Consumer Warning 

We--the bewitching Mrs. BestDestiny and myself--had Comcast install their new digital phone service in our home on Thursday afternoon.

We've haven't had telephone service since, despite several calls to the service center.

And since we were able to make a couple phone calls out of the home immediately after installation, and backed up by Comcast's own internal diagnostics, we know the problem is not in our home.

So, you know, as the commercial says . . .

Your phone calls won't change--because you won't have any more phone calls.

Before you have this service installed, ask LOTS of questions and ask the installer for an honest assessment of troubles they've had with the service.

It's not such a deal if the service is this screwed up.



Perhaps Merrifield Should Visit That "Special Place In Hell" 

Last night I took one quote from Rep. Mike Merrifield and had a little fun with it.

Hey, somebody's got to--God know Democrats don't have any sense of humor.

But, perhaps in doing that, I may have given really short shrift to what he was really saying.

I think Merrifield's underlying point was that increasing Math and Science graduation requirements forces students away from other subjects that we all believe contribute to students' essential human-ness. In the long run, this very likely means important school programs like music, art, and theater dry up and become hollow shells of what they can be.

Those of us in the schools realize that this would be tragic. While it is ABSOLUTELY critical that students be functional in math and science, and necessary for the college-bound to have fairly high proficiencies in those two subject areas, the students on the other end of the spectrum--the ones for whom college is not in the works, but who could really get into life on the right path if they get their diplomas--need alternatives like the performing arts. Not only does it really matter--I mean, REALLY matter--that students have the opportunity to learn how to express themselves in an artistic fashion, but for some students the only reason they come to school is music, art, and theater. And while that is not exactly how we would all design a perfect school program, I think only the most die-hard Darwinist would argue that more dropouts are a good thing.

But Merrifield, as is his wont, makes his point exceedingly clumsily.

And not only that, but Merrifield has a way to accomplish exactly what he wants to. He can have schools that have Fine and Performing Arts requirements; he can have schools that take a more relaxed approach to the "pure" academics; if he wants to, he can have a school that is designed specifically around the research findings of Howard Gardener.

Within the system put in place by a Republican legislature and a former Republican governor, Merrifield could create whatever school he wanted to, and have whatever outcomes he wishes for to demonstrate competence.

The problem is, Merrifield, his Democrat friends, and their "allies" in Big Education have been working overtime to tear down that very system.

In short: Mr. Merrifield, if you want a school with Fine Arts requirements, if you want a school with a creative curriculum that gives equal weight to the Arts and the sciences . . .

start a Charter School.


Rep. Merrifield Continues To . . er . . .Represent 

Ben, as usual, has the goods.

State Rep. Michael Merrifield, a Colorado Springs Democrat who chairs the House Education Committee, called the whole notion of course requirements “out of date, old-fashioned,” and “so 20th century.”

Ah . . . Interesting. "Out of the box," as it were.

I suppose in Merrifield's world, students would show up to school and, what? go where they want, when they want? Sort of an educational buffet?

And what would graduation look like in that world? If we have no course requirements, then would a student have the right to declare him or herself proficient, and move on?


SO Socratic in its implications.

Why, if we have no actual course requirements, then bad or boring teachers would have, presumably, very sparsely attended classes. It's fairly easy to see a scenario in which the worst teachers never have any students show up to class, in which case they would dismissed.

Oh, wait . . . that might upset Merrifield's friends in the teachers' union. Hmmmmm . . . . SUCH a dilemma.

Well, at least internal consistencies aren't necessary for the articulation of a sound philosophy:

On a party line vote today, the Senate Education Committee passed a bill sponsored by Senator Sue Windels (D-Arvada) to mandate standards on Colorado schools that teach sex education.

So, to reiterate: course requirements are out-of-date and old-fashioned, except when it comes to sex ed.

Gotta love the Democrats. These are the people we let into power.



Here They Come Again, Emboldened

The Surrender Caucus in the Senate is making more noise now, with our very own Senator Ken Salazar playing a prominent role.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, proposed legislation with Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., that would order President Bush to begin pulling out troops in 120 days and end combat by April 30, 2008.

Sadly, the Surrender Caucus has a few new members:

Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine said she was considering switching her position and backing the measure. Also considered likely supporters were Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon.

Sen. Susan Collins, Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and other moderates said they were considering an alternative proposal that would demand an end to combat and allow U.S. troops to conduct only a narrow set of missions. The measure would not identify a date.

"What many of us are looking for is a new strategy that would not be a precipitous pullout with all of the problems that would cause, but rather a plan to exit over the next year," said Collins, R-Maine.

In other words, so that it's out of the way before the next election.

And, Sen. Collins, in what way is a one-year pullout NOT precipitous? If there's still Al Qaida on the ground in a year, then a pullout at that time STILL abandons Iraq to the terrorists.

And, oh so lucky for us, Mike Littwin reports that Ken Salazar is going to take a central role in this debate. Sort of. Maybe.

And into the middle of the fight steps, um, one Ken Salazar. Yes, Colorado's own Ken Salazar.

Like you, I'm a little surprised to see Salazar in the thick of a foreign-policy debate. It isn't like he reminds anyone of Metternich (you can look him up), or, for that matter, even Matthew Broderick.

But if Salazar has shown one important talent in his brief time in the Senate, it's for moving himself toward the middle ground on virtually any issue.

Salazar is the co-sponsor of a bill, with (of course) several Republicans, that would basically endorse the Iraq Study Group's recommendations.

I, for one, am glad that Colrado is represented by someone who inspires such confidence on the major issue of our time from one of his ideological allies. Near as I can tell from his website, though, even this is more than our senior Senator, Wayne Allard, is willing to say.

What I think matters here, though, is that on the major issue before the Senate--indeed, before the nation right now--our Senators are either endorsing the lukewarm, bureaucratic non-solution or silent. WE ARE NOT WELL SERVED. Allard may vote the right way--and he almost always does--but he doesn't do anything to move the debate.

And right now, what is needed is a bold statement to move the debate.

Hello, Bob Schaffer? Call your office. Or call my office. Or Channel 9's office.


Hitting the Nail On The Head

In one short post at The Corner, Victor Davis Hansen cuts right to the heart of why we're on the brink of surrendering the War: because we refuse to look the enemy square in the eye.

What is striking about all this savagery—whether with the filmed beheadings of Westerners in Iraq to the recent flaming Johnny Storm human torch at Glasgow, screaming epithets as he sought to engulf bystanders and ignite his canisters — is the absolute silence of the West, either distracted by Paris and i-Phones or suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome and obsessed with Guantanamo.

It is hard to recall an enemy so savage and yet one so largely ignored by rich affluent and distracted elites as the radical jihadists, as we have to evoke everything from mythology to comic books to find analogies to their extra-human viciousness.

For a self-congratulatory culture issuing moral lectures on everything from global warming to the dangers of smoking, the silence of the West toward the primordial horror from Gaza to Anbar is, well, horrific in its own way as well...

When This Is What Your Friends Are Saying About You . . .

maybe you should stop congratulating yourself so much.

Try to guess which media outlet all of these quotes are from.

But that did not stop criticism of the event from many who asked why rock stars — with their jet-setting, high-consumption lifestyles — should be asking others to be more environmentally friendly. . . .

U.S. and British media were generally underwhelmed on Sunday by Live Earth, . . ..

The News of the World tabloid, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, detailed estimates of Madonna’s carbon emissions from nine houses, a fleet of cars, a private jet and the Confessions tour, calling her a “climate-change catastrophe.” . . .

“The last thing the planet needs is a rock concert,” Who lead singer Roger Daltrey recently told a British newspaper. . . .

Still, some — like Muse frontman Matthew Bellamy — have criticized the use of private jets for artists. . . .

[from Chris Rock] “I pray that this event ends global warming the same way that Live Aid ended world hunger,” he said in London.

Got it yet? And without, that is, following all the links?

The source of all these quotes is, arguably, the most Al Gore-friendly media outlet on the face of the Earth--MSNBC.

Yes, Mr. Gore. This is what your friends are saying about your grand event.


Heh, heh, heh.

Houston, We Have A Disconnect

[via Colorado Senate News]

Just so you know:

From the Denver Post:

The Post believes Ritter deserves a chance to weigh in on such a critical issue. Thus, we support the idea of a moratorium. But even if the BLM plan is held up for Ritter's review, some drilling will, and should, begin fairly soon.

That could trigger up to $1 billion as the state share of leasing payments on the land. Additionally, the state could collect $100 million or more annually for the next 20 to 30 years

From the Rocky Mountain News:

The opposition to leasing is sincere and passionate, but we think opponents overstate the downside and fail to appreciate the potential benefits. These would accrue not only to consumers of natural gas - meaning just about everyone - but more specifically to the taxpayers of this state. Penry and White's proposal highlights the boon that Roan could represent for higher education without individual taxpayers being called upon, once again, to finance the rescue operation.

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

short of a highly unlikely act of Congress, gas drilling on the top of the Roan Plateau is all but a fait accomplii

And, finally, the Colorado Springs Gazette:

But since the West’s energy boom began, the “stunning,” “pristine,” “special,” teaming-with-fragile-flora-and-fauna Roan has taken on near-mythical status with the anti-drilling crowd, like some lost world re-discovered. . . .

No politician is stupid enough to support a blanket ban on drilling, especially when energy prices are pinching. They just oppose drilling in the “pristine,” “special,” “irreplaceable” parts of their state or congressional district, which amounts to the same thing. . . .

And with the nation facing a serious energy crunch, the no-drilling option simply doesn’t make sense.

And, then, on the other side:

Rep. Mark Udall:

"Oil shale has potential as an energy source, but Colorado’s Western Slope has had experience with a rush to development that ended up hurting our region’s economy," . . .

My amendment will slow that process down so that we can be thoughtful about oil shale development."

And Sen. Ken Salazar:

“As I have said before, the top of the Roan Plateau is one of Colorado’s special places, and I believe that this unique Colorado crown jewel should not be opened to drilling for oil and gas at this time.

That DOES make it pretty easy to see Udall and Salazar as a bit, well, extreme on this particular issue, doesn't it?

[cross-posted at Schaffer v. Udall]


Rocky Mountain News Follows Domenici Into the Surrender Caucus

Saturday's lead editorial in the Rocky was a disappointment. So much so, in fact, that I'm going to post the whole thing and provide running commentary.

President Bush should heed the advice of Sens. Pete Domenici and Richard Lugar [two men with a combined 64--SIXTY-FOUR--years of tenure in the Senate; experienced? or petrified? (see also: Senatitis). They're not rabble- rousers. They're not out to embarrass the president or his party; they're Republicans themselves, after all. But the respected senators from New Mexico and Indiana believe the time has come - or almost certainly will come this fall - for a new strategy in Iraq, one that removes most U.S. troops from combat even as it preserves a role for training, counterterrorism and support. [while similarly failing to remove any such constrictions from Al-Qaeda--if a soldiers is killed by a bomb while in a "support" role, is it still a combat death?]

"We cannot continue asking our troops to sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is not making measurable progress," said Domenici. [from his plush, air conditioned Washington, D.C. office]

By September, when Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are scheduled to report on the results of this summer's military "surge," it will have been 4 1/2 years since the start of the war. That is not a minor or impulsive military commitment, despite what those who apparently favor an open-ended struggle sometimes seem to suggest. [if a terrorist is willing to make an open-ended commitment to the struggle, does that also suggest they think we are impulsive?]

In the current issue of Time, commentator William Kristol maintains that "a decent outcome - the defeat of al-Qaida in what it has made the central front in the war on terrorism and enough security so there can be peaceful rule by a representative regime - seems to me achievable, if we don't lose our nerve here at home."

Kristol may be right that those outcomes are still achievable, but he shouldn't blame a lack of "nerve" for the fact that a growing percentage of Americans don't share his optimism. [perhaps he should blame a media that works its tail off to hide good news from America] It's not nerve they lack. It's evidence [see previous]- evidence that the Iraqi government is making progress forging a broad coalition capable of pursuing a war against the Islamist enemy and sectarian militias that are hostile to stable, representative authority. actually, they'd probably be just fine if they heard the stories of actual engagements that Michael Yon has been telling, or saw more pictures of the atrocities Al-Qaida commits than they do pictures of Abu Graib]

"We've all been, to one degree or another, disappointed in the Iraqi government," Domenici acknowledged Thursday in a notable understatement ["so we're going to claim defeat and run away to somewhere safe].

Two months ago, we argued against the attempts of some Democrats to impose a timetable for withdrawal on the Bush administration. That is still the path of folly, as Domenici and Lugar both recognize. It is even possible that the September assessment of Petraeus and Crocker will not support Domenici's conclusion that a new strategy is needed [but we're still going to jump on this bandwagon].

Possible, but not likely [based on the extensive military experience and acument of the Rocky editorial board]. Deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto was certainly not trumpeting any transformation of the war this week [in compliance with the express wishes of Gen. Patraeus]. "It is certainly way too early to give any kind of definitive grade on how the surge is doing," he said. "We see hopeful signs of progress. We see hopeful signs of success. We're certainly not in a place to say that the surge has been a success. And we think no one is in a place to say that the surge is not a success either." [especially not members of the media from a mid-market city]

After more than four years of corners supposedly turned and light detected at the ends of tunnels, forgive us for doubting that two more months of the surge - or 10 more - will prove decisive. But Petraeus and his troops are getting their chance to prove the skeptics wrong. [see, we're going to give them two more months].

Kristol, like most of those advocating that America stay the course, rightly points out that "with success in Iraq, progress elsewhere in the Middle East will be easier." A stable, reasonably tolerant government in the heart of the Arab world that respected the vote and rule of law would indeed be a monumental watershed. Like President Bush, we believe that someday such a country will exist, too. [we're just unwilling to commit to its creation]

But if that country is going to be near-term Iraq, its government and tribal and religious leaders must realize that their window of greatest opportunity, as represented by the presence of American combat troops, may start to close as soon as next year - five years, remember, after the start of hostilities. To paraphrase Domenici, Americans cannot ask their troops to sacrifice indefinitely if the Iraqis appear more committed to sectarian domination than to defeating the Islamic radicals in their midst.

Because, what? Americans should run away from this, should abandon our allies to the whim of the Islamic radicals in their midst, should condemn innocents who have helped us and worked with us to atrocities unimaginable by most Americans, and then just hope that a strengthened, rested, and safe-havened Al-Qaida will leave us alone.

Good plan.

Unfortunately, this goes to the heart of the difficulty the administration is now having. When centrist editorial boards like the Rocky's, which has been firm and consistent in regard to the war until now, begin to abandon you, the chance you have to continue to make your case is just about ended. Had the administration been better about making the case that Al-Qaida needs to be ended in Iraq for the last three years, it would be easier to make the case now for holding the course.

Had the administration made the decision to inform the American public to the evil of the enemy, we would not be having this difficulty now. It's not enough to call them evil--pictures are available to show us the evil. If not Michael Yon, certainly others in the military have chronicled the nature of the enemy.

Sadly, the administration has hidden too much. And now its too late to make the case.

Again I say: Gen. Patraeus--hurry.


On The Price Of "Losing" The War In Iraq--ADDENDED 

I have written before about the obvious and foreseeable consequences of losing the War in Iraq--and I'm not talking about the military engagement. I'm talking about the Battle of Ideas back in Washington and elsewhere--though, certainly, parts of the military effort have been bungled..

And I've also laid the blame for losing that battle right at the feet of the White House, which recognized WAY too late that the miltary portion was, at most, only half the battle, and that our public relations enemy was even more skilled than our military enemy.

But now I'm beginning, I think, to understand the real danger to the world, not just to America or to Iraq, of losing the War.

Consider the following (via The Corner):

ZIMBABWE’S leading cleric has called on Britain to invade the country and topple President Robert Mugabe. Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, warned that millions were facing death from famine, unable to survive amid inflation believed to have soared to 15,000%.

Mugabe, 83, had proved intransigent despite the “massive risk to life”, said Ncube, the head of Zimbabwe’s 1m Catholics. “I think it is justified for Britain to raid Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe,” he said. “We should do it ourselves but there’s too much fear. I’m ready to lead the people, guns blazing, but the people are not ready.”

Some parts of Zimbabwe have seen 95% of crops fail, leaving families with only two or three weeks’ food supply to last a year. Prices in the shops are more than doubling every week and Christopher Dell, the American ambassador, predicts that by the end of the year inflation could hit 1.5m%.

Ncube said that far from helping those struggling on less than £1 a week, Mugabe had just spent £1m on surveillance equipment to monitor phone calls and e-mails. “How can you expect people to rise up when even our church services are attended by state intelligence people?

Can you imagine the howls of laughter/scorn/outrage that would ensue should either Gordon Brown (that's actually funny all by itself) or George W. Bush take the Bishop's advice and announce an intervention in Zimbabwe? Or even just a smaller--and, arguably, more justifiable--intervention in Darfur? The very thought of it is laughable, if it weren't so sad.

We've fallen a fair distance, indeed, from that day not all that long ago when Mohammar Qhadafi gave up his chemical weapons program simply because he was afraid of sharing Saddam's fate. And does anybody still remember that in the immediate aftermath of dragging Saddam out of his spider hole Iran announced that was going to allow inspectors back in to its nuclear sites?

The problem with appearing weak isn't just the lack of credibility you have with the rest of the world--it's the blow to the national psyche which robs you of the confidence to act with any initiative at all.

I'm not necessarily advocating massive interventions all over the world to fix the world's problems (though, certainly, there are those that would fall within this doctrine).

I'm just saying that it's sad, pathetic, and maybe criminally negligent that our self-inflicted difficulties in Iraq have made it impossible to act, even if we concluded that it was the right and necessary thing to do.

It's bad when your own weakness paralyzes you into cooperation with evil.


NO, I AM NOT joining Sen. Domenici, et al. in declaring defeat. In point of fact, this seems to provide statistical evidence that things are getting better, and this provides anecdotal evience that things are getting better.

I suppose what I'm saying is twofold: the PR battle is on life support right now, and is losing support all the time--somebody needs to step up to the plate and win an argument; and, second:

Gen. Patreus--hurry. Not to rush you or anything, but, you know . . . hurry.


If The New York Times Had Been Around 144 Years Ago 

Union Suffers Terrible Losses, Fails to Pursue Decisive Victory

The Union Army of the Potomac under the command of Gen. George Meade has lost over 3,000 men over the course of the last three days in a battle on the outskirts of Gettysburgh, Pennsylvania.

Meade's Army seemingly stumbled onto the Army of Northern Virginia on Sunday morning, and has been engaged in fierce combat--often hand-to-hand in close quarters--until late yesterday afternoon.

Union estimates put the number of dead at 3,155, with an addition 14,500 wounded and over 5,000 still unaccounted for.

The Army of Northern Virginia, under the experienced leadership of Gen. Robert E. Lee, has never penetrated as far into Union territory as it had leading up to this battle. It is unclear, in the aftermath, if Lee disengaged Meade's Army to return to Confederate territory or to pursue other objectives in Union territory.

Highly placed War Department sources have told the Times that Meade had an opportunity to destroy Lee's Army in the immediate aftermath of a remarkably courageous but, ultimately, failed charge into the center of the Union lines on Tuesday. The same sources expressed dismay that Meade did not go for the decisive victory at that time.

"It is inexcusable," one source told the Times. "Lee has proven over and over again what a master stategist he is. We finally get him in a tight corner, and just let him slip through our grasp."

The Civil War, which started in 1861 shortly after President Lincoln was elected, after campaigning in what the Southern states decried as "a divisive way," has taken the lives of tens of thousands of Union youths. One analysis put the deaths on a pace to exceed 300,000 by the end of 1865.

The fallout from this engagement is already starting to be known. John Murtha, D-PA, has called for hearings into the actions of the Union Army, and in particular the 20th Maine Regiment under the command of Joshua Chaimberlain, for excessive brutality during the battle.

"There's no excuse," Murtha exclaimed. "American soldiers just do not do that sort of thing. Reports I'm hearing tell of a downhill charge into an exhausted insurgent line to hack them to pieces with bayonets.

"It's simply a failure of leadership that these men could break the conventions of war so naturally."

Other Democrats on Capitol Hill are more openly questioning the wisdom of the President's course of action.

"It's almost laughable," one Senate staffer told us. "He goes through Generals like a drummer goes through sticks! It's no wonder we're seeing no progress.

"And now we've had this engagement on Union soil? I tell you, you have to wonder if he ever gets out of the White House to see what's happening to his country.

"There's just no way that these boys should be dying to keep the cotton and tobacco coming."


Format Fix 

Just a note to any who care: I have fixed one of the little internal glitches in this blog. Now, when I or anybody else links to a specific post I've written, it will come up by itself without any searching around an archive.

Sorry it took so long to figure that out. I is tecknolojiclee gifted.

On Terror and Socialized Medicine

As you are about to be force-fed the Governor's "new" plan for Colorado Health care, keep in mind the results in other places where the government takes over the delivery of health services.

Keep in mind that all these doctors who have been arrested in England over the last few days were imported to England to keep their socialized medicine system functioning.

Ask yourself if, twenty years from now, after twenty years of government-run health care in this state, if it isn't COMPLETELY predictable that Colorado might have to start "importing" its own doctors to keep our system afloat, as the best and brightest in the state "migrate" towards nearby states that have free-market systems which reward doctors for their excellence and give them opportunities to care for patients the way they are supposed to.

For a very thorough discussion of this topic, I refer you to The Corner, which has an excellent running discussion of this topic going today. In particular, read this post, this post, and this post.

And Speaking of Refusing To Acknowledge Evil . . .

you've got to go the Michael Yon's latest dispatch. It's unpleasant, it's uncomfortable, and it will challenge you to re-evaluate whether you think it's worth American lives to pursue and end these people. Just to sample:

Soldiers from 5th IA said al Qaeda had cut the heads off the children. Had al Qaeda murdered the children in front of their parents? Maybe it had been the other way around: maybe they had murdered the parents in front of the children. Maybe they had forced the father to dig the graves of his children.

If the picture that this caption accompanies doesn't move you to revulsion, there's something dead inside you.

Go. Link. Read.

Book Recommendation

I love to read. It is usually the last thing I do every night, and it often is the cause of me getting a lot less sleep than I am supposed to. And I read a lot of different stuff--spy stuff (Clancy, Higgins), Sci-Fi/fantasy (Tolkien, Salvatore), history (esp. Civil War), . . . really just about anything I can get my hands on.

And one of the real surprises, and pleasures, of reading that I've found in the last several years are the works of J.K.Rowling--that's right: the Harry Potter series.

I know what you're thinking: "aren't those kids books?" And the answer is yes.

I first started to read the series when my job assignment changed to include elementary school--I wanted to understand a little of the mind of the students I was going to be working with. But the books just sort of sucked me in, and I've now read all of the ones that are out.

I know there are those in the Evangelical community who avoid the series because they deal with magic and with occult elements. But I would submit that the great majority of the magic of the series comes, not from the spells and potions, but from Rowlings' insight into the mind of a child. The school Harry Potter goes to is very much like every school I've ever been in, complete with odd friendships, outcasts, the "in crowd," bullies, scary teachers and inspirational mentors. The fact that the class list includes "Defense Against the Dark Arts" rather than "Business Math" only changes the atmosphere marginally--in fact, it adds many opportunities for great humor.

I also very much appreciate that the smartest person in the book is almost always the girl, Hermione Grainger, and that the real test of the characters is almost never strictly talent but actual strength of character.

And make no mistake, these books are growing up as the characters are. The sixth book, which I just completed (The Half-Blood Prince) has elements of betrayal, bigotry, deviancy, romance (dealt with very innocently, by the way) and the death of an important character. These are not simply books to get children to read books--there are lessons and morals and tough emotional involvements throughout them. And at the core of every one of the stories is the battle between good and evil, with some victories and losses on both sides--kinda like a real battle.

If you're looking for something fairly easy to read, but which will keep you turning pages, pick up one of these Harry Potter books and give it a chance. Think John Hughes movies without the pathetic angst.

And a quick note about the impending release of The Order of the Phoenix: I'm going to go out on a limb and bet that the critics really dislike this movie. Now, that may, after all, turn out to be because it's not very well made--I have no idea about or insight into that aspect.

But, assuming that the movie is reasonably well-made, and is reasonably faithful to the book, the media should hate this movie. Why? Because the subtext of the whole story is the actions of those who refuse to acknowledge the existence of evil, a press that is complicit with those, and the lengths they will go to to discredit and shout down those who recognize evil.

Probably a pretty uncomfortable story line for the elites in this country.

A Tribute

Bob, the proprietor of The Daily Blogster, is about to deploy.

For those of you who have not had the occasion to come across his writing, so much the sadder for you. He has developed quite a record as a commentator on issues military and political, plus frequently bringing a bit of humor to the blogosphere.

Many of us had strong reactions to 9/11. I, for instance, decided not to just be angry, but to start writing Letters to Editor and, eventually, that led to this blog. Bob, also, became a player in the blogosphere; he, however, took it an extra step, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

Bob, like myself, is a family man, with a wife and children. But whereas the thought of leaving my family to serve my country never seemed like an option to me (even if what the military thought it needed was another short, older man with bad shoulders and knees), Bob was undaunted, and signed up. I understand the calculus: it would be easier, perhaps, to protect my family by going into the proverbial hornet's nest and destroying them there, rather than waiting for them one-by-one here. I just never got beyond the thought of not being here--Bob did.

Now, he is on his way to serve a tour on an aircraft carrier.

His choice, his courage and his honor are humbling. Join me in wishing him Godspeed.

The Daily Blogster will continue under the stewardship of Jim and El Presidente. With luck, Bob will ocassionally be able to contribute thoughts on being a service man in a time of war from onboard ship.

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