Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hard on Baker

Dean Barnett takes a serious whack at James Baker along with his "findings" as the ISG recommendations move ever closer to becoming official. Whether deserved or not I personally think he's a little hard on Baker personally, though there is no lack of 2 x 4's with which the recommendations don't deserve pummelling:

WE KNOW WHO’S GOING to love the Baker Commission recommendations. The Democrats at home who think getting out of Iraq is the only thing that matters will jump aboard the report as an intellectual life raft. Bereft of any ideas of their own for the past five years, Democrats will seize on the report as cover for getting our illiterate children in the armed forces home.

But the Iranian mullahs will be even happier. The Baker Commission report will give them the same feeling that Hitler got in Munich – these men will not fight. They will see a solid chunk of the American body politic eager to sell out an ally while making concessions to our enemies without requiring those enemies to fire a single shot.

But here’s the killer part: Even if President Bush does the right thing and shoves this report in a part of James Baker’s anatomy where the sun don’t shine, the Commission will still do incalculable harm. The media, the Democrats and even many Republicans have already given the Baker Commission the sheen of omniscience once wrongly bestowed upon the 9/11 Commission. Regardless of the obtuseness of the Baker Commission’s recommendations, they will be hailed as genius and indisputable by wide swaths of the public.

And America will have her "honor" and her soldiers will come home. But I wonder, will the lives we save in soldiers be less than what we risk giving Iran and Syria a new free hand in Iraq and elsewhere in the ME?

Waiting for the Nuts to come out

Walmart has approached the city of Lompoc about putting in a super-center down the street from their current location at the north end of town. Don't tell my wife...

Lompoc city officials confirmed Tuesday that Wal-Mart representatives have inquired about the possibility of building a “super center” on 40 acres fronting West Central Avenue at V Street.
Wal-Mart representatives presented a preliminary site plan to the city Planning Department on Nov. 17, and are scheduled to meet again with planning officials this morning, apparently to discuss development procedures.

The preliminary site plan showed that Wal-Mart is considering a store with 207,505 square feet and with seven other lots on 15.49 acres that could hold various retail shops. The largest of the outlying parcels is 6.11 acres.Plans also include a gas station on the site.

The site is zoned for “Business Park” and would have to be changed to “Planned Commercial Development” to accommodate a super center, said Arleen Pelster, city community development director. A General Plan amendment also would be required, she said.

City Administrator Gary Keefe emphasized the preliminary nature of the inquiry and said that no application has been filed with the city.

Meanwhile, I anxiously await the kooks who will invariably be drawn to town in an effort to stop evil Giant.

Bad Press Good Press

Bad Press: Capping years of intense debate, astronomers resolved Thursday to demote Pluto in a wholesale redefinition of planethood that is being billed as a victory of scientific reasoning over historic and cultural influences.

Good Press: Pluto stands proudly here at this corner in the yet-to-be-completed Phase II at Providence Landing.

Sunday's walk with the dogs through the streets revealed many a completed home with no owner. If only I could squeeze some decent money out of our place...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sim was Right?

A Washington D.C. observation:

An old Democratic friend of mine stopped by the Monocle last week and while there ran into a Democratic senator of long acquaintance. The Senator was, of course, quite pleased with the outcome of the election and is looking forward to the perks and responsibilities that go with being in the majority.

The two talked for a few minutes, but the Senator was more than a little taken aback when my friend asked him what he and his fellow Democrats intend to do with the war they managed to acquire with their new majority. "What do you mean?" he said. "Iraq is Bush's war and his problem." "Oh, no," my friend responded, "it was his war until Nov. 9, but your party ran condemning the war, Bush's management of it and promised to end it in one way or another. Now, you guys are going to have to come up with a plan because you are in the majority and with the majority comes responsibility … especially on problems voters believe you promised to solve."

It was a sobering thought and the senator was momentarily speechless, but then got very, very cautious and assured my friend that most Democrats believe it would be dangerous to do anything precipitous. Fortunately, there was no one from MoveOn.Org at the next table.
To be fair, my friend overstated the degree to which Democrats have to single - handedly solve the
Iraq problem, but voters are not likely to long tolerate their pre - election act of attacking Bush at every turn while offering nothing, or less than nothing, in the way of a realistic alternative.

Was there a method to Sim's voting madness?

More Pushback

On Monday, US Central Command officially responded to AP reporting in Iraq with a strongly worded statement. Today, the pushback continued:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED


I have just learned from Mr. Costlow, mentioned below, that Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the official Ministry of Interior spokesmen, will begin his regularly scheduled press conference at noon tomorrow with a statement that Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee.

As Stephen Spruiell says, the ball's back in AP's court. Prove you're right. Or resign yourselves to looking like the dumb mark who got played.

Personal is Political

Jim Webb seemingly went out of his way recently to make the personal political. As recounted by the WaPo, it went something like this:

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.


"I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall," Webb said in an interview yesterday in which he confirmed the exchange between him and Bush. "No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. [But] leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is."

Why such a reaction? I don't rightly know other than to observe that Democrats sometimes make a habit of making the personal political.

The question itself is not out of bounds, it's not rude nor was it asked rudely. In fact, it shows a kindly empathy from one father to another. The answer however, does not.

From personal experience I can tell you that the President's reaction--"That's not what I asked you"--should not be viewed as out of line either. It's only polite to answer when you're asked a question and preferably to answer the question asked, something my wife routinely reminds me of.

If the Senator-elect truly dislikes the President that much, that's fine. But then quit with the pretension of "I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration," because your actions appear to speak louder than those particular words.

It didn't take long for reactions to come in. Before the day was done, George Will had weighed in and flat-out called Webb a boor.

Other reactions include this from a former Marine and of course the nutroots always has a say, in this case in the words of Markos the Angry. If anyone knows petulance, it's Markos.

Seventeen, again

You know I had to. And actually, I was more like 15.

Had a friend a couple of years behind me in HS...the Buggles were her favorite band at the time. This is perhaps more notable for that than for it's overworn use as the answer to Pop Culture Trivia questions.

Don't argue with me about it

The other day I got in a small tiff with a gentleman of the Iraq-is-Vietnam persuasion about whether or not Iraq is a civil-war. My opening salvo questioning the use of the term "civil war" met with more than a bit of consternation and a dash of snark.

I was accused of deflecting by re-defining terms down in an attempt to avoid the reality on the ground in Iraq. Hardly, I must say. I simply wondered whether the term was historically accurate in describing the troubling situation there.

I'm apparently not the only one. The British Military historian John Keegan wondered the same thing in this upcoming month's Prospect magazine piece:

Objectively, it must be concluded that the disorders in Iraq do not constitute a civil war but are nearer to a politico-military struggle for power. Such struggles in Muslim countries defy resolution because Islam is irreconcilably divided over the issue of the succession to Muhammad. It might be said that Islam is in a permanent state of civil war (at least where there is a significant minority of the opposing sect) and that authority in Muslim lands can be sustained only by repression if the state takes on a religious cast, since neither Shia nor Sunni communities can concede legitimacy to their opponents.

The Lebanese civil war of 1975-90 offers perhaps the closest example of the sort of outcome towards which Iraq might be heading. An Iraqi civil war, with seven main factions (pro-Iranian Shias, nationalist Shias, Islamist Sunnis, Baathist Sunnis, pro-state secularist forces, and two major Kurdish mini-governments), would very likely offer the confused and confusing array of shifting allegiances and foggy front lines that characterised much of the Lebanese conflict. Without the clarity of blue versus grey, red versus white, or roundheads versus cavaliers, and no one faction capable of winning, the Lebanese civil war went on for 15 years and ended with a broad negotiated settlement. The factions were fighting for authority, for the most part, especially the Christian Phalange, and the others for smaller nationalist projects. Ultimately the country settled into the uneasy equilibrium touched by an endless succession of flare-ups that we know today.

Full democracies are the states least prone to violent civil disorder; autocracies are the second most orderly. It is intermediate democracies and transitional states that are the least orderly. Iraq, of course, is both a transitional and an intermediate democracy. Even without the peculiarly violent character that has been endemic to Mesopotamia since history began there 6,000 years ago, Iraq would still be in the sweet spot for chaos. Yet apart from the Salafists, the state forces are the only player in the current phase of Iraq's domestic violence that aspires to replace the current constitutional arrangement with its own sole rule. These forces, of course, are the only ones that can have that aspiration, for they are the only players who combine the various sectarian identities, and thus the only ones who possess a theory of rule that might work. The individual sectarian tendencies are too weak to replace the current constitutional order in any foreseeable scenario. So what are they fighting for? Revenge, criminality, ideology and political advantage, but not sole authority over the state.

That's his conclusion and of course getting there is important also. The summarized version is simply (and read the whole thing for an understanding of the elements), the historical elements of a civil-war don't exist at all or are currently not in place. At least at this point.

So why does it matter? Well, words matter, definitions matter when you have two sides of argument trying to pin down what exactly is going on over there. We can both look at it and know it isn't good, but whatever we identify it as ought to be as accurate as we can make it.

Time has not allowed for my researching of another prominent Military historian, Victor Davis Hanson's writings on the subject.

This matters a lot in light of Matt Lauer's attempted Walter Cronkite moment and the NBC screen cap so prominently displayed on Today's Monday broadcast. Supposed experts on Vietnam should have no trouble understanding why.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thank you very much-o!

I'm driving along today listening to the radio and one minute I'm a respectable professional out making sales calls, the next I'm 17-years old watching the last few months of High School pass by.

Internet Truisms

Michael Kinsley submits a thoughtful essay on the Internet, anonimity, hubris and triviality.

Money money:

There is something about the Web that brings out the ego monster in everybody. It's not just the well-established tendency to be nasty. When you write for the Web, you open yourself up to breathtakingly vicious vitriol. People wish things on your mother, simply for bearing you, that you wouldn't wish on Hitler. But even in their quieter modes, denizens of the Web seem to lug around huge egos and deeply questionable assumptions about how interesting they and their lives might be to others.

Simian "The Greatest" Logician.


Another look at what's going on in big media's reporting of Iraq:

The key question that must be answered is where the funding will come from for a major, credible examination of major media reporting in Iraq? It's not coming from the major media, or J-schools, or J-journals. Their paychecks depend upon not revealing the Emperor's illusory threads.


Who needs it? We gave the gift of Madrid on 11/7 by putting a party in position to make withdrawal from Iraq a potential reality.

Why would anyone need to "create" one?

Monday, November 27, 2006


'Bout Durn Time! CENTCOM pushes back at AP over the identity of sources and other aspects of the news agency's reporting:

Dear Associated Press:

On Nov. 24, 2006, your organization published an article by Qais Al-Bashir about six Sunnis being burned alive in the presence of Iraqi Police officers. This news item, which is below, received an enormous amount of coverage internationally.

We at Multi-National Corps - Iraq made it known through MNC-I Press Release Number 20061125-09 and our conversations with your reporters that neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident after investigating it and could find no one to corroborate the story. A couple of hours ago, we learned something else very important. We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee. We verified this fact with the MOI through the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team.

Also, we definitely know, as we told you several weeks ago through the MNC-I Media Relations cell, that another AP-popular IP spokesman, Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq, supposedly of the city’s Yarmouk police station, does not work at that police station and is also not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP. The MOI has supposedly issued a warrant for his questioning.

I know we have informed you that there exists an MOI edict that no one below the level of chief is authorized to be an Iraqi Police spokesperson. An unauthorized IP spokesperson will get fired for talking to the media. While I understand the importance of a news agency to use anonymous and unauthorized sources, it is still incumbent upon them to make sure their facts are straight. Was this information verified by anyone else? If the source providing the information is lying about his name, then he ought not to be represented as an official IP spokesperson and should be listed as an anonymous source.

Unless you have a credible source to corroborate the story of the people being burned alive, we respectfully request that AP issue a retraction, or a correction at a minimum, acknowledging that the source named in the story is not who he claimed he was. MNC-I and MNF-I are always available and willing to verify events and provide as much information as possible when asked.

There's some additional detail over at Gateway Pundit.

Frankly, it's more than a day late and hopefully not more than a dollar short in terms of pushing back and demanding better information and reporting from news organization(s). I'd like to believe that it's a first step in the U.S. getting it's act together on the Information front.


Two new thingies here at My Dogs...this most interesting of sites now added to the News-&-other-fun-stuff-roll and discover who's celebrating a Blogiversary today!

Sharing a Brain

Charlie Rangel and John Kerry are of one mind it seems on the issue of servicemen. Read Rangel's statement from his FNS appearance then laugh at Allah's characterization:

I want to make it abundantly clear: if there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.

And the glorious retort: This won’t get as much attention as what Lurch said (or was understood to have said) a few weeks ago. Rangel’s neither as prominent nor as unlikeable as Kerry, nor do vets bear him a grudge the way they do Waffles for his Winter Soldier testimony. But they’re both talking out of the same ass.

Splendid! Rangel is wrong just like Kerry was and for the same reason. The data--as much as we currently know anyway--doesn't support any of the assertions about US military men as dummies. Members of Congress on the other hand...

Barney Frank: "I'm out of my mind!"

That may not be what he's saying, but it ought to be. From today's FNS interview on his 'Grand Bargain':

WALLACE: Congressman Frank, what's this about a grand bargain with corporate America, where you would agree to cut regulations and pass free trade deals if corporations, if businesses, would agree to raise wages and increase job benefits?

FRANK: We're in a gridlock economic position right now. All the things that you listen to the financial community tell us are important for economic growth are kind of stalled. In some cases, I think the stalling is appropriate, because they weren't the things that were wise. In other cases, I agree with them.

The president tried to do something on immigration and it was stopped by the right wing of his own party, but also a lot of general unhappiness about the economy. We can't get a good bill through to reorganize how we deal with foreign investment, again because of these concerns.

What we've had is this: The economy has shown some growth in the last few years, but according to both Alan Greenspan and
Ben Bernanke and virtually everybody else, the growth has been more uneven and more unequally distributed than in any time in recent American memory.

And so what you've got is the average American saying, look, don't tell me that I should implement productivity and I should go into trade deals, because those may have a short-term negative effect on me. You say they'll be good for the economy as a whole, but I'm not the economy as a whole. I'm me.

What we've got is at the same time, they're blocking unionization, they've got a very anti-labor National Labor Relations Board, they won't accept a minimum wage increase, health care has become a great burden for working people. And what I say is let's put it all on the table, let's get together, and let's do some things that will help growth, but in a way that does not promote more inequality. And I'm hoping that the business community will be responsive to that.

Granted, I was getting ready to leave the house while he was speaking so I wasn't paying the closest of attention, but WTH!? This was something first discussed publicly a week ago.

One economic mind with a response here. As for mine, what economy has Barney been looking at I wonder?

Blacker than Black indeed!

I wondered on Saturday about how this year's version of Black Friday went for retailers. Day-after reports indicated things went rather well. Frankly, I didn't find that overly surprising, as I work with large retailers and big spenders and had an idea that things were looking pretty good heading into the Holidays.

MKH took a day-after-the-day-after look at the numbers and found all kinds of exciting stuff! All of it can be summarized with this one graph:

Gone are the "black clouds," the "challenging economy," and "reluctance." Funny, the economy was "challenging" and "cloudy" pre-Nov. 7, according to the press.

I guess it's been a hell of a three weeks. Three cheers for Democrats and their Black-Friday-Fixin', Reluctance-Banishing, Cure-All Economic Elixir!

Of course, she wasn't talking about the numbers, rather she was nailing the reporting of numbers by a press who apparently have lost all signs of storm clouds on the economic horizon. Everythings coming up Sunshine, baby!

Sunday, November 26, 2006


It's something I wish more people had when it comes to the cost of Iraq. No death is small, and the 2800 US service men & women killed there are a high-price to pay. Especially at a time when we must wonder what exactly they will have given themselves to pay for.

At the risk of being crass, however, I would note taking a bigger perspective demands that such numbers be put in context. We've accomplished much though not nearly all in Iraq in 3 1/2 years. It has come at a price, but not as high as we've paid in the past.

This link, though I wish it could be done without the sarcasm, makes the point more forcefully:

"On a related note, at the current rate the US military death toll will surpass that of the 1.5-year long Mexican War (13283) in another 10 or 12 years or so."

On yet another side note, that means we'll hit Vietnam in about another 30 years after that.

My New Strategery

(Or, How I came to Hate Fantasy Football)

I've stumbled upon a new, almost exciting idea. I think next week when I fill out my starting lineup, I'll leave the QB spot empty. It couldn't hurt me anymore than the mostly-pathetic numbers I've gotten all year from 4 different guys.

On the bright side...the streak ended today. The fact that it was against the Niners is gravy.

UPDATE: Rex the Wonderdog strikes again...this'll pretty much seal the deal. Numbers don't lie:

Passer Rating: 23.5 Pass: 15/34/3/175 TD: 0 Rush: 2/1 TD: 0 Fumble: 1

All good for a grand total of 2 points in league play. Though I guess there's still hope--those numbers will still be finalized before final posting on Tuesday morning.

Iraq is still Vietnam

Someone else notices what I've said off and on for a while now. It doesn't have to happen. Iraq doesn't have to be Vietnam, but apparently a lot of us want it to be.

UPDATE: Breaking out all the catch-phrases, Senator Hagel partying like it's 1973...unfortunately for the Senator, much more than our 'honor' is and was ever at stake in Iraq.

A Sunday Thought: Happens to the best of 'em

According to Joan Felt, her father--Watergate's Deep Throat--a near life-long atheist has moved to a very different place in his life:

My father never set foot in the church door during all the years I was growing up. Imagine, therefore, what a surprise it's been to me to hear him start to talk now about God with simple, glad-hearted faith in his elder years.

It comes up in our conversations on lots of topics. It came up after the recent sad and sudden death of Dad's caregiver, Bola, from a heart attack.

While he hasn't explained the change, I think Dad is feeling an innate love for "that which is great," that which transcends mortality, fear, suffering, factions, war, hate and all the rest of the mess of this human world.

As his reasons not to believe have faded, a prior and underlying intuition of God has re-emerged. And in living with him, our whole family benefits from this proof of the possibility of transformation and renewal - at any age.

Scripture speaks directly to this process of understanding:

20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

The warning is simple it seems; not even the most earnest of unbelievers is immune from God's grace and majesty.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Black as night?

A huge Black Friday according to this report in the Rocky Mountain News:

U.S. retailers opened to "huge" numbers of shoppers as they offered early-bird specials and staged stunts to kick off the holiday shopping season today.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, opened at 5 a.m. with 42-inch plasma TVs for under $1,000 and cashmere sweaters for $29 for the first six hours. Target Corp. hired magician David Blaine to escape from shackles while dangling five stories over New York’s Times Square to draw attention to a two-day sale starting today.

The longer hours and price cuts may help retailers raise holiday sales 5 percent this year to $457 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. The season starts the day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday because at one time it was considered the day retailers turned profitable for the year. It will probably be the second-biggest shopping day this year.

"It is a huge day for traffic," NRF President Tracy Mullin said in a statement today. Retailers are "encouraged by the amount of excitement and traffic that their Black Friday promotions have generated."

Locally, it was a good day too. Members of the editorial staff that came in later in the day reported good-size crowds at the stops they'd made in the morning but nothing too crazy. We reported the local shopping as a 'swarm':

For longtime store employees and veteran Black Friday shoppers, the crowds at local retail stores were expected.

For new Santa Maria Sears shoe sales employee Isaac Tobias, however, the early Friday morning stampede left him “shocked.”

“Actually, people were running through the store, trying to get what they needed to get,” said a wide-eyed Tobias several hours after the rush subsided. "I've been a salesman for six years, but I've never seen anything like that,” he said.

Aside from lines when Sears opened at 5 a.m., shoppers and employees there reported an apparent increase in shoppers from last year but fairly typical of Black Friday - a term given to the Friday after Thanksgiving by retailers whose sales that day will put them “in the black” for the year.

I contemplated hitting a few of my larger retail advertisers in town to gauge how things were going there but a surprise lunchtime visit from my in-laws who drove up for a mini shopping-spree of their own put the kibosh on that. And when lunch was over, it was back to Operation Paperwork Reduction for the rest of the afternoon.

Dogs are dogs

And they act like dogs. The Left is the Left and there are always it seems those who will always act like it.


UPDATE: And Firedogs are Firedogs: Jane Hamsher on centrists:

1) Those "centrists," the people who can be convinced to swing Democratic in one election and Republican in the next, who don't make up their minds until the night before an election or just run in the voting booth and pull all the top levers are probably not engaged in the political dialog to the point that they will want to "interact" with those who bring them their news. They might be stupid, apathetic or working three McJobs just to make ends meet but they're probably not going want to spend their leisure time shootin' the shit with VandeHei. People who are engaged political junkies tend to have strong opinions and they want to interact online with others who are like minded. If there were a great gaping demand for a moderate site, Joe Gandelman would be a rich man.

Jane represents much of what's wrong with the Kos-types. Namely, an incredible lack of judgment married to unending rage that doesn't care who it insults.

Friday, November 24, 2006

How does that Realism work?

Jim Geraghty has a thought or two on the subject. The Reader's Digest Condensed Version? It's called "assassination":

There's a reason Americans are generally skeptical of international institutions and their laws, rules, and regulations. They generally stink.

Besides the revelation that "Grosse Pointe Blank" was an inadvertent documentary, the current assassination chic reveals that democratic reformers, the international order, civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time, etc., are doomed, at least as long as they play by these rules. The Syrians, the KGB, terror groups, etc. ignore all rules and laws and simply do what is necessary to kill anyone who stands in their way.

The "good guys" not only don't use the same tactics, they've pledged to never consider it, through executive orders and death penalty bans. It's funny how Rep. Charlie "Let's Reinstate The Draft Specifically Because It Will Make the U.S. Military Less Effective" Rangel can lament the "assassination" of Uday and Qusay. The killing of Abu Zarqawi was also often described as "an assassination" in the U.S. press. Sadly, a hellfire missile coming out of the sky does not pause to read the target his rights.

I made the mistake of watching "Munich" last week, in which I learned that assassinating members of Black September who helped plot a terrorist attack is "not righteous." That it's not something that good Jews do. No, good Jews lay down and die for their assailants, apparently. Or they live safely in Hollywood like Spielberg and make movies about how immoral it is for Israelis to assassinate terrorists.

In a world in which the innocent are not safe while eating in Britain, or driving through the streets of Beirut, or running for office in Ukraine or working in skyscrapers in New York City, I turn to my social betters, the ones so quick to lament the blood on our hands from "assassination" and ask, "Okay, how do you want to fight this war?" Or perhaps, more specifically, "how do you want to win?" The bad guys are out to win, and will put out all the stops.

And if they say "international tribunal," they might as well come out and say, "we're okay with dying."

Because, you know, waterboarding is mean. Much meaner than poisoning someone or shooting up his car.

Additionally, there's this piece at the Weekly Standard that touches on the larger issue of realism in foreign policy. The discussion goes no better and leaves no better taste in the mouth when finished:

So let's add up the "realist" proposals: We must retreat from Iraq, and thus abandon all those Iraqis--Shiite, Sunni, Kurd, and others--who have depended on the United States for safety and the promise of a better future. We must abandon our allies in Lebanon and the very idea of an independent Lebanon in order to win Syria's support for our retreat from Iraq. We must abandon our opposition to Iran's nuclear program in order to convince Iran to help us abandon Iraq. And we must pressure our ally, Israel, to accommodate a violent Hamas in order to gain radical Arab support for our retreat from Iraq.

This is what passes for realism these days. But of course this is not realism. It is capitulation. Were the United States to adopt this approach every time we faced a difficult set of problems, were we to attempt to satisfy our adversaries' every whim in order to win their acquiescence, we would rapidly cease to play any significant role in the world. We would be neither feared nor respected--nor, of course, would we be any better liked. Our retreat would win us no friends and lose us no adversaries.

Again I is this 'realistic' approach to the circumstances we find ourselves in vis-a-vis Iraq and the ME in general leave us any better off? How is it in our best interest to extract meaningless promises from Iran and Syria that we realistically have no means of obtaining in the first place?

Are we that selfish? Is it really that we have no stomach for the fight?

Making Strange Bedfellows

Victor Davis Hanson speaks insightfully about the Middle East. More so than just about anybody going these days, he is well-versed in history of the region, history of it's conflicts and he does so with a degree of moral clarity missing from too much of what passes as meaningful commentary.
His Tuesday appearance on Hugh's radio program was another example, as they discussed the assassination of Pierre Gemayel in Lebanon. His observations are insightful and clear as they make a point about exactly who it is we're dealing with in the ME:

HH: I thought we might have a month away from the bad news, but as Beirut descends into crisis tonight, it appears as though the bad guys sense an opening.

VDH: Yeah, they do, and I think this should be a wake up call for everybody in the United States who wants to bring in the 1990's realist team, that anybody who thinks that they can have some sort of reconciliation with Syria and Iran are missing the entire problem in the Middle East. The problem is those two countries, and those two governments.

HH: Victor Davis Hanson, if you had a chance to visit with the President tonight, what would you be telling him?

VDH: Don't give up. Don't weaken. Don't hesitate. Don't pause. Do not cut a deal with those two governments. They're killing American soldiers through surrogates in Iraq. They're trying to destabilize Lebanon like they did in the 1980's. They're the source of most of the evil that's now causing us problems from Afghanistan to Iraq. And this idea that you're going to bring James Baker back, and that team back who gave us everything from Iran-Contra to jobs, jobs, jobs as the only reason we're going to go into the Middle East, to flank the Jews. I could go on, but it's a very sensitive point with me. I think a lot of us, Hugh, stood by this administration through thick and thin when the paleocons turned on them, when the liberal hawks turned on them, when the neocons are starting to bail. But my God, if you're going to go into the Middle East, and put 130,000 Americans in harm's way, fighting for democracy, and then you turn around and you appease those two governments who are killing people, I don't think a lot of us are going to stand for that.

HH: Is this an Archduke Ferdinand moment with the assassination of Gemayel?

VDH: I think it may be. I really do. I think that Syria realizes that as soon as they saw that the United States was going to cease pressure on them, it was time to go in and start killing non-Shia politicians, reporters especially. They've killed journalists, they've killed's not just this Gemayel. It's not just a Christian politician. They've been doing this for two years, killing, systematically, any critics. And they sense that they get a green light from us when we pull back. And I think it should be a wake up call for the United States, that when you go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, you don't go to war in a half measure. You either go to war or you don't go to war. And we're in a war in Iraq, and we're in war with, as the President said, Islamic-facism, and autocracy and dictatorship, and there's no better examples than Iran and Syria.

HH: Victor Davis Hanson, earlier, talking with Claudia Rosett, I said, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go to war with the Congress you have, and now we've got a left-leaning Congress coming in. Does the President have the ability to wage aggressive war with a pacifist Congress?

VDH: I think he does, but let's be candid, Hugh. The problem right now isn' may be the left wing Congress, but he's got another problem, and that is he's bringing in Robert Gates, and he's bringing in the Baker realism, and that doesn't have a good record. That's the people who said don't talk to Yeltsin. Let's stick with Gorbacev. Let's not go to Baghdad. Let the Shia and Kurds die. Let's arm the Islamisists to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and then leave. It's not a good record. It's short-term expediency at the expense of long-term morality. And it's not in the interest of the United States to do that, to cut a deal with these countries.

HH: Now tell me something. If you and I see this as we do the same way, and almost inevitably, it's a very clear picture what's going on here. How could "realists" persuade themselves, Victor Davis Hanson? And I haven't seen Baker do this yet, so I'll withhold judgment. I haven't seen Gates do it yet, so I'll withhold judgment. But how could any realist step up and say the thing to do is to negotiate with the Syrians? What's madness.

VDH: I don't know. I think they think that these two countries, it's almost a prima facia admission that these two countries are backing, in various ways, the Shia and Sunni insurgents in Iraq, and then maybe we can cut a deal, and let them have some leeway at the expense of what? Another democracy in Lebanon? So they won't topple our democracy in Iraq? You can't do that. It'd be like asking the Soviet Union to allow a democratic Ukraine, or Hitler to allow Czechloslovakia to have elections. That's not what those countries do. They exist to destroy democracies, and I don't understand it. But I do think if they appease these two countries, they're going to lose a lot of support of people like ourselves, who've been with them thick and thin, when everybody else has bailed.

These remarks also touch a point that I intended on writing about some time ago but never did. The post just never came together, so I scrapped it.

A few months back, after watching Pat Buchanan's most recent interview on Today I began a post I titled Buchanan as Fetish. The point being simply that I've come to believe that to a certain degree at least, Anti-Bush sentiments on the Left have led more than a few folks to hitch their wagons to horses they'd otherwise have nothing to do with, a la the Paleocon's Paleocon, Patrick J. Buchanan.

I sensed in reading Hanson's comments here, a similar thought:

HH: Victor Davis Hanson, earlier, talking with Claudia Rosett, I said, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go to war with the Congress you have, and now we've got a left-leaning Congress coming in. Does the President have the ability to wage aggressive war with a pacifist Congress?

VDH: I think he does, but let's be candid, Hugh. The problem right now isn' may be the left wing Congress, but he's got another problem, and that is he's bringing in Robert Gates, and he's bringing in the Baker realism, and that doesn't have a good record. That's the people who said don't talk to Yeltsin. Let's stick with Gorbacev. Let's not go to Baghdad. Let the Shia and Kurds die. Let's arm the Islamisists to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and then leave. It's not a good record. It's short-term expediency at the expense of long-term morality. And it's not in the interest of the United States to do that, to cut a deal with these countries.

If in fact the Baker-Hamilton recommendations are a return to 'realism', is it in our best interests? If it is, how? And why do the people in punditry who appear most interested in it's return advocate for it when they were--in it's last incarnation--opposed to the idea of pragmatic, amoral and interest-driven foreign policy?

I'm left wondering if it's their bitter, passionate dislike for the current President that makes for such strange bedfellows. Why else do they quote a man like Kissinger--a loathed man in many environs for his policies--when he tells us all is hopeless? When they're not busy telling us how bad a President George Bush is, they're busing telling us how this same Kissinger is a war criminal.

As to the point of the conversation that Hugh and Mr. Hanson were having on Tuesday, the notion that we can negotiate something of meaning with Iran and Syria on the subject of terrorism-at-large or Iraq seems absurd on it's face and obviously so. At least to me. Why we would even consider the thought of it as serious policy is befuddling.

It's not a word

My wife the English major has worked hard over the last few months at breaking me of a bad habit. I for some time have used a word that really isn't one.

Countless times in the course of making an argument, I've been known to throw out the word 'irregardless' as a qualifier. I've come to see the light as she's worked with me patiently to force the word out of common usage in this household.

So on Wednesday during a conference call at work with a Logistics contact while discussing a refused shipment of ad materials, it was all I could do not to laugh out loud when the man starts a sentence "Irregardless...," right there in front of God and everybody.

Dude, it's not a word!

Black Friday

It most certainly is. Because, you see, I'll be at work.

Why people in Advertising think anybody'll be doing business on the day after Thanksgiving makes no sense to me. But then again, there are alot of things about Advertising that don't make sense.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Thanksgiving Nap

Dinner was good!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Picture of Irony

The sitting US Secretary of Education lost on Jeopardy. Weird Al would be proud...

Reading is Fundamental

The gentlemen at Hugh Hewitt have, for some time now, been hammering the idea that serious candidates for President and even those running for Congress need to be reading. Specifically, they need to be learning as much as they can from as many sources as they can find about Islam, about Jihad, about Terror in general.

Hugh adds the exclamation point this morning:

...Team Giuliani, Team McCain, and Team Romney plus all the other teams would do well to distribute the six tomes with a note that there will be a test. The coming campaign will very much center on the war, and the challenge in all of its incredible complexity. Five of these books explains aspects of that challenge: Wright provides a genealogy of one-half of the enemy. Steyn tackles the demographics and the vast Stockholm syndrome suffocating the West. Kaplan charts the extraordinary accomplishments of the American military around the globe, and the historians Roberts and Ferguson place the current crisis in its historical context.

And Doris Kearns Goodwin's remarkable read tells us that America has survived much more difficult times, and the sort of leaders who allowed her to do so.

Would-be presidents and their advisors should arrive at the starting gate in January fully prepared to talk early, often and seriously about the war. It is not only the way to win, but the way to deserve to win.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste...

Critical thinking in a sentence

Donald Sensing took a whack at Charles Rangel's draft bill. After going through the bill's provisions, it seems the entire enterprise can be summed up in the close:

Finally, can you imagine the enormous mischief six million or so 18-20 year old men and women will cause on America if they are loosed to do something, darn it, to earn their keep? Do what? No, really - apart from the two million military members, what are six million teenagers going to do every year working for the government. What?

And as a completely off-topic aside, when blogger spell-checks 'Rangel', the only option offered is 'rankle'...very apropos if you ask me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Unscientifically speaking

The Draft is getting it's butt kicked in this Insta-poll.

Stupid people doing stupid things

AS points out the ridiculousness of what recently happened to Ryan Sager at the hands of the Heritage Foundation:

Wednesday night, libertarian Ryan Sager spoke to a little free-market group on the Hill called the Prosperity Caucus. Heritage often plays host to their events. But when Heritage found out that Sager was the speaker this month, the Prosperity Caucus was asked to take things elsewhere.

I don't think many Republicans and conservatives have come out of denial yet about what was done to conservatism in Bush-Rove-DeLay years. Or perhaps the first stage of coming out of denial is anger at those who came out of it years ago.

Heritage was flat out wrong; it was a stupid thing to do. But I marvel at Andrew's inability to stop at just condemning the act. It of course must turn into an indictment of conservatives at large.

Deserving Better

Glenn posts some thoughts on outgoing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, "the Generals" and History. Enlightening, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, while there's certainly criticisms to make, I can't help but think the man deserved better than he got from critics certainly, but even some of his erstwhile supporters.

The reader email sums it up nicely and I couldn't have said it any better:

So apparently, Don Rumsfeld, who was constantly accused of not listening to his commanders in the field, took the rap because he was . . . er, listening to his commanders in the field! I guess he fell on his sword for appearances' sake, so that when General Abizaid said what he's evidently been saying all along, it would get reported as if it were something new. Nice.

Revenue boost

Our ownership group is one of seven hitching their wagon to Yahoo's HotJobs platform. The move looks to boost on-line revenue for the participating papers significantly. That's certainly our hope:

Wachovia analyst John Janedis said newspaper companies are partnering with tech-centric companies for greater reach, which is a sharp turn in strategy.

"A potential Yahoo linkup with several newspaper companies suggests a change in mind-set," Janedis wrote in a client note.

Our participation was announced at yesterday's sales meeting to a unanimous cheer. "Yay for us!"

Monday, November 20, 2006

All it took was a Democratic Congress

So we go out and elect Democrats to a majority in both Houses of Congress and we get all kinds of exciting things. Such as?

Well, that long-expected return to the Military Draft that had every 18-year old in the country scared half-to-death in 2004:

Question: Do some newly ascendant Democrats have a political death wish? Do some seem to want to take the blank slate of imagery the election provided them and scribble a silly or alarming political caricature on it so it will be seized by opponents, then held up as the face of their party as a whole?

It certainly sounds that some of them do:

Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 under a bill the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee says he will introduce next year. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars.Rangel's public comment also will require that if Democrats defend it they come up with some political amnesia: in 2004 John Kerry charged that it was George Bush who was going to revive the draft. The charge was dismissed by the White House.

Kerry told The Des Moines Register, "With George Bush, the plan for Iraq is more of the same and the great potential of a draft."Mr. Bush vowed in the second presidential debate that, if he's re-elected, "We're not going to have a draft, period."

So this was idea deemed alarming enough for Kerry to raise, claiming that Bush was thinking about it.

But perhaps Kerry's psychic powers merely picked up the wrong wave length: it was Rangel thinking of it all along.

Well, yes it was. You'll recall that the bill that got an epic slapdown to the tune of 402-2 was sponsored by Rangel, not Kerry and most certainly not President Bush.

It's all politics, all the time. Stupid politics to boot. Nobody seriously wants this, nor is it truly necessary.

What is necessary is the only decent idea John Kerry had in 2004, namely adding at least two (or 5, maybe another 10) combat divisions to the US Armed Forces. That can be done without a draft.

So, what else are we getting you ask? Wages are up, everybody's rakin' in the dough!:

American paychecks are rising again at a pace not seen since the 1990s.

The pay increase amounts to 4 percent on average over the past 12 months, and it comes at a very helpful time for millions of households.

For three years, pay increases haven't kept pace with the rising cost of living. Then came this year's housing slowdown, which has further squeezed family finances.

Those setbacks, however, are now being offset by rising income. Four percent may not sound like much, but you have to look back to 1997 to find a calendar year with a gain that big.

Equally significant, tamer energy prices mean that the "real" wage gains, after inflation, are above 3 percent for the past 12 months. That, too, hasn't happened since the 1990s, even though the economy has been expanding over the past five years.

"The striking feature of this expansion has been that ... real wages for the typical worker haven't risen that much," says Richard Berner, US economist at the investment bank Morgan Stanley in New York. But with real incomes rising, he says, "you get a picture of an economy that can weather this housing storm."

The risk of recession hasn't disappeared, he and other economists say. But with a fairly tight job market and low unemployment, many expect that paychecks will keep rising solidly in 2007.

And if you're like me, you can't wait to see Congress do it's best to put a dent in all that good news with a minimum-wage increase next year. I understand the argument for it, but it seems they never quite get the argument for how it helps kill an economy's forward momentum.

Living in California, I recall fondly the days that we set the pace for many trends, including even economic ones ( be recession-proof again!). Since we've done our best to get ahead of the curve on this I guess we'll play the canary in the coal mine. I'll let you know how the economy's going sometime in February when we're in the middle of the new Quarter.

Glenn ties the package neatly together with a reader's observation: Reader Brian Gates, who sends the link, comments: "Less than 2 weeks after the Democrats gained control of Congress, wages are increasing. Imagine how much upward wage pressure there will be after the labor pool is cut by a million men due to Rangel's draft."

If I'd known that all it took was a Democratic Congress to bring about such potentially-disastrous policy decisions, I'd have advocated a Democratic sweep in '02!

The Dreamworld of John Kerry

John Kerry came out of hiding yesterday morning for the first time since the botched joke flap with an exclusive at Fox News Sunday. It was it's own complete and superbly done little expose on how never to be President of the United States. This guy just doesn't get it.

Kerry has the political instincts of a rock, and they're all on display in this one brief interview. To the issue of an apology, Kerry insists on making the same point, numerous times:

WALLACE: Senator...

KERRY: Yes, but why didn't you play the part where I said, "It was a botched joke, and I never intended to insult anybody, especially not the troops"?

WALLACE: But why didn't...

KERRY: Because that was part of what I just said.

WALLACE: ... apologize. The question is...

KERRY: I apologized...

WALLACE: The question is, why not just stop the bleeding right away...

KERRY: Sure, Chris, I've apologized. And this is now clear to everybody, that it was a botched joke; I own it.

He made that statement, "I own it," more than once, yet never really did. Every time the subsequent explanation does not address the issues raised by the joke, it is in each attempt a deflection onto Republicans in Congress and/or the President. Every time.

The only exception was his reply to the mother of dead Marine, Cory Palmer:

[KERRY]: Now, I am deeply sorry for that woman, for her. And I have asked my staff to find anybody that I can contact--I've contacted people in the military, because I feel this so profoundly.

Even the joke itself wouldn't make sense for the simple reason that we do have a volunteer army and you have to be smart to get into it. So, even that runs counter to what they did.

But even here it's about what everybody else did, not about the poor judgment that allowed for such a dumb line in the first place.

The Senator saved his best for last and shows yet again the Dems predilection for negotiating-for-negotiations-sake:

KERRY: I have confidence in the generals. I think they've been put in a very, very difficult position.

What I don't have confidence in is the policy. And General Abizaid is giving us a diagnosis that is based on the current policy. But that policy has to change, and it can change.

I believe that if you pursue--I know that if you pursue legitimate diplomacy, the way Henry Kissinger did when he made multiple trips, night after night, day after day, twisting arms, working; if you make the effort that Jim Baker did to build a legitimate coalition, I'm confident we can do what's necessary to get the neighborhood--and I include in that Iran and Syria--to take greater stakes in what they realize they have a stake in.

What does he believe we can get from the likes of Iran and Syria on the issue of terrorism generally and on Iraq specifically? What hand does the US have to play that can coax and/or force what we're looking for there?

Those are my questions to the Senator, as I'd be glad to see another means of settling things down in Iraq. But does he honestly believe this can be accomplished? If he does, do we not deserve an elaboration on the idea, something with some details?

Frankly, this is about the only kind of negotiating ploy that I can think will work with Iran. What would the good Senator have to say about it, I wonder.

In the meantime, this man continues living in his own little dreamworld where his mistakes are all somebody else's fault. His horrible instincts and rotten political judgment--and I don't think I'm going out on a limb here--have ensured that he will never see the Presidency.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Not a sprint, but a Marathon?

Late in the week I was prepared to declare Congressional Republicans winners of a perceived race to 'Stupid.' It appears this race, this mad rush to make ridiculously stupid decisions that negatively impact the prospects for both political parties moving forward might not be the 100-yd dash I thought it.

Glenn noted yesterday with this post, what he referred to as a Democrat "circular firing squad." Indeed:

FANS OF ALCEE HASTINGS are spreading rumors about Jane Harman that don't seem to be true. Tom Maguire is on the case, remarking: "let me offer a steaming mug of reality to the reality based community, from the NY Times, with helpful emphasis added."

I'll just note that, true or not, the Democrats don't seem to have waited long before descending into circular-firing-squad mode.

UPDATE: Plus, Ann Coulter acquires the power to bend space and time, and incidentally to turn lefty bloggers into Emily Litella. Well, it's not the first time that's happened.

The TM post is especially interesting reading as it devolves into a bizarre little contest in the comments, featuring a cameo by the King of the Sockpuppets himself, Glenn Greenwald with a rehashing of old arguments that nobody's making about Jane Harman as head of the Intelligence Committee.

So apparently this race to be the dumbest leaders in Congress will be longer than I thought. Just when I was ready to declare the Republicans as the winner, we enter turn 2 and see the Dems about to retake the lead.

How will it all end?

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers and a gracious thank you to Glenn for noticing. I hope you'll all notice that this post wasn't an attempt at dumping on Democrats. I've been doing my fair share of calling Republicans dummys for the better part of the last week as well. I'd just hate to see others make the same mistake this commenter did.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Summarizing McCain

Hugh has a great post here discussing the albatross that hangs around John McCain's neck. Likely the one that costs him any real shot at the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

It's all about the judges that didn't get confirmed, or for that matter didn't even get a vote. That, barring any surprising incidents over the next 2 years, will wholly define him. Ultimately, whether that's a good or a bad thing for the GOP is debated in the comment thread and makes for interesting reading as well.

Hugh has always been of the mind that the Republican Senate squandered the hard work and effort of the base in '04 when it acquiesced to the Gang of 14 in the Spring of '05. Did that cost us in '06? Certainly some, but it was just one of many things that slowly but surely began to turn the base off and served as the first signal that Republicans had become concerned with something other than acting like conservative Republicans, despite the fact many of us made a point of sending more Republicans to Congress in 2002 and again in '04 for precisely that reason.

I hope the Senator is proud. He appears to be. I only wonder if he truly understands though what a lot of conservatives think it is that he accomplished. Dollars to doughnuts that we have differing views on the subject.

The question is, however, whether in two years time he'll think it still something worth bragging on. My hope is it won't be.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Pouty John

Somebody needs to go back to their room, take a time-out and come back when they can play nice. K-Lo's take was funny.

May your family Holiday Photo-ops be a bit less dysfunctional!

More of the Same

We don't seem capable of learning a damn thing. Republicans in the House have re-elected John Boehner Majority Leader this morning. If Blunt maintains his post as Minority Whip, the Republicans will have won the race to 'Stupid,' despite Speaker-elect Pelosi's best attempt at getting their first.

UPDATE: No sooner did I post it, but it appears to have happened. I'll be spending the morning reflecting upon one searing question. Who is dumber? The chumps in Congress or I who desires to back them all as an alternative to Democrats.

One America

It turns out there really is only One America, not Two. This One America is a place where even a well-to-do ex-Senator lives to take advantage of Walmart's low prices. So on the same day Edwards vocally criticized America's largest retailer, one of his aids is asking for "help" in tracking down a PS3 for the Senator's youngest kids:

"My wife, Elizabeth, wanted to get a Playstation3 for my young children. She mentioned it in front of one of my staff people," Edwards said. "That staff person mentioned it in front of a volunteer who said he would make an effort to get one. He was making an effort to go get one for himself.

"Elizabeth and I knew nothing about this. He feels terrible about this. He made a mistake, and he knows he should not have used my name," Edwards said.

Edwards said the volunteer was "a young kid" unaware of what he called flawed Wal-Mart policies. He called the Wal-Mart statement an effort to divert attention from its own problems.
After Wal-Mart this summer hired Edelman executive Leslie Dach as its public relations director and put him on the company's executive team, analysts said the retailer would likely become more aggressive toward its critics.

Wal-Mart had noted in a news release Thursday that on the same day Edwards was criticizing the company in a conference call with union- backed activists, the volunteer staff member had asked a Raleigh, N.C., electronics department manager to obtain a PS3 for the ex- senator's family.

Some things are so ridiculously dumb that you couldn't make them up.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's as though Lincoln Chafee never existed

I'm amazed at this bit of what Michael Ledeen called demagougery. I just found it absurd.

From a commentary at

Nancy Pelosi showed us something important about herself this week. If Tip O'Neill thought that all politics was local, Pelosi's view is that it's personal. But what may have more significance in the long run is what her caucus showed her — that, unlike the Republicans they are replacing, they will not march lockstep at every dictate from their leaders.

Actually, what she showed was that personal loyalty trumps smart politics. Meanwhile, her membership showed quite the opposite is true by a near 2-1 margin.

And I loved Ledeen's close:

Riiight, Karen. The insurrections against Harriet Meiers and the Bush immigration scheme never happened. Lord knows McCaine never ever challenged Frist or the White House. Snowe and Collins always did what they were told. And Specter was always in lockstep with his colleagues. It was stormtroopers marching in lockstep, all the time.

It is or it isn't

But it is not both. For every day it seems that Iraq is Vietnam, we get things like this that tell us it is not. After carrying pretty much every anti-Iraq Democrat's water, the NY Times gave us a piece from Michael Gordon yesterday regaling us with tales of Generals who don't want the US to leave. Yes, many of the same ones who've declared it a lost cause and called for the ouster of Donald Rumsfeld for two years:

But this argument is being challenged by a number of military officers, experts and former generals, including some who have been among the most vehement critics of the Bush administration’s Iraq policies.

Anthony C. Zinni, the former head of the United States Central Command and one of the retired generals who called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, argued that any substantial reduction of American forces over the next several months would be more likely to accelerate the slide to civil war than stop it.

Instead of taking troops out, General Zinni said, it would make more sense to consider deploying additional American forces over the next six months to “regain momentum” as part of a broader effort to stabilize Iraq that would create more jobs, foster political reconciliation and develop more effective Iraqi security forces.

I'm incredulous, and I must confess to incredulity as my initial reaction to such a statement. I'm left thinking that Zinni's criticism over the last years was truly the grinding of a personal ax. I hope I'm wrong.

Over at Instapundit, Glenn has a roundup of thoughts; his and others:

SO WE HAD THESE HEARINGS ON IRAQ, and generals Abizaid and Zinni are arguing against timetables for withdrawal, which has been the Democrats' main policy proposal.

Did the Democrats know beforehand that this is what the generals thought? If so, were they dishonest in not taking it into account? Maybe they were relying on this sort of thing to keep from having to do what the MoveOn crowd wants, but what they know is wrong?

Or did they not know, making them clueless? Neither one's impressive. But since the big criticism of Rumsfeld, which led to his defenestration, was that he "didn't listen to the generals," what are the Democrats to do now that the generals have spoken?

He quotes Dave Price echoing that very sentiment with a very acute observation: The bedrock political strength of Bush's Iraq policy is that it rests on the advice of the military, in which public trust runs deep and wide, whatever they may think of the war itself or the decision to invade. Democrats may have no qualms about calling Bush incompetent, but witnessing how quickly they ran away from Kerry's perceived knock on U.S. troops, it's safe to assume they will be very wary about voicing similar opinions regarding the commanders on the ground in Iraq. That public view of the military as nearly sacrosanct is a major difference between now and Vietnam, and it puts the Dems in an awkward position when they advocate a position the military vehemently disagrees with.

The obvious media-slam aside, Glenn's point about this coverage is well taken. Or at least should be: It's too bad, though, that the media neglected this stuff -- along with a lot of other things -- before the elections, as part of their effort to deliver Evan Thomas's 15 percent to the Democrats. Still, better late than never.

Not surprising though somewhat infuriating.

So is it or isn't it? I don't know. It's beginning to get where I can't keep up with it. At the risk of bad analogy making, with the way this has gone back-and-forth it's beginning to look like the team who has the ball last wins this argument.

Kids say the darndest things

So do politicians. I'd be glad to hear this from anyone else. Allow TM to fill in the details:

John Murtha defends his reported characterization of a proposed ethics reform bill as "total crap":

" is total crap that we have to deal with an issue like this when we’ve got a war going on and we got all these other issues."

Right, then - so when Henry Waxman, muckraking chair of the Government Reform Committee, announces that he hopes to probe, per the Sun-Times, "the response to Hurricane Katrina, government contracting in Iraq and on homeland security, decision-making at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, and allegations of corporate profiteering", we can expect Murtha to denounce the effort as "total crap". We need to look forward, not backward, yes?

That gets my vote for absurdity of the day. But it's barely even 7 AM, so we got lots of day left...

Who the heck does Murtha think he's kidding?

Meanwhile, with the obligatory Hat Tip to Glenn Reynolds, here is of the Murtha-esque state of affairs in the House:

Today offers the kind of spectacle that is a small consolation prize for a party out of power: the victors pummeling each other over the spoils. The election having been lost, today's majority leadership race is a win-win.If Pelosi wins, she exalts John Murtha, an extreme anti-war zealot with a "Kick Me" sign taped on his back. This will clearly define the stakes in one of the most critical issues Americans face today. Our place in the world.

A Murtha win the day after Gen. John Abizaid told Congress the United States needs to maintain troop levels and boost advisors and training for Iraqi forces should send a clear message to American voters what their narrow, fickle majorities have wrought. Murtha brings the added benefit of a right-leaning record on issues such as abortion and gun rights. Combined with a lot of harumphy codgerness, that may offset the San Francisco agenda but, we can only hope, will drive a lot of his rank and file crazy.

Sit back and enjoy.

We've got a war goin' on, don't you know!

Stick that in your Pipe and Smoke it!

Scott Adams takes one-upsmanship to the extreme.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Young Guns vs. The Old Dogs

John Shadegg on the virtual-stump for House Minority Whip:

Yet, in defeat there is a real opportunity for Republicans. We now have an opportunity to evaluate, unite, and change course. We must learn from the mistakes of the Democrats after their loss in 1994, and not spend the next 12 years in the minority. They kept the same leaders and not until they made the necessary changes eight years later did they begin to find a road toward success. If we want to return to the majority soon, we must take corrective action now. We cannot, as they did, count on the others side to make mistakes.

To be successful, our leaders must believe in the principles they are espousing. Paying lip service to reform and principle won’t be enough. The voters saw through it last week and they’ll see though it again. We need new ideas, a shared vision for real reform, and strong, principled, policy positions.

Being a part of the Revolutionary Class of ’94 instilled a sense of optimism and hope in me that still remains. We believed then that we could return our government to the people, and I still believe it now. The American people share the Republican vision for America, but now we must earn back their trust.

We need leaders with new ideas and new energy to reignite our efforts and reclaim our rightful place as the governing party of reform and individual empowerment. These principles will be the keys to our success. We will not regain the majority without them.

At the same time, the Corner notes a hint of Pencementum. The young guns are pushing; whether they have what it takes to win remains to be seen.

Lastly, Roy Blunt makes a strong case for his election as Minority Whip:

In a nine-page memo that will be sent to his fellow Republicans later today, and obtained exclusively by NRO, Blunt writes that, “We must force the Democrats to be Democrats,” and hang together as a caucus so “their team feels the pain.” And just what pain is the former Baptist college president talking about inflicting?

The kind that comes in forcing House Democrats from moderate and conservative districts to either support the “San Francisco agenda” of their new Speaker, and “show who they really are,” or to “vote with us."

“Either way, we win,” Blunt writes.

The targets? Those 60 Democratic members from districts where President Bush won in 2004. In an indication of just what an advantage incumbency is in these contest, Blunt then lays out, according to just how red-leaning their districts are, exactly which Democratic members will be at the top of their list when the roll is called. And how will it be done?

Through amendments and substitutes that could be politically damaging for these moderate and conservative Democrats to oppose. Blunt lists ways to hold feet to the fire on the line-item veto, minimum wage, drug prices, taxes and spending.

I'm of the mind that the taint of '06 needs getting rid of and that would include a guy like Blunt. But the man definitely has a plan and it is a specific one. I like that.

First one to 'Stupid' loses!

Dean Barnett is calling it a dumb-off. While Nancy Pelosi is determined to appoint two of the most ethically-challenged Democrats going to key committee chairmanships, the Republicans have taken a step backward with the election of Trent Lott to Senate Minority Whip.

The Readers' Digest Condensed Version of why this is a stupid idea goes as follows:

The Republican brand is damaged. They've been tossed out of power for poor behavior across a number of fronts, to the point that Dems are currently trusted more on historically Republican/Conservative issues.

To solve the problem Republicans in the Senate have reached back in time to old management, asking former Majority Leader Trent Lott to help right the ship. Only problem is Lott is part of the same management team that got Republicans where they are now.

His ham-handed handling of the Strom Thurmond Birthday comments not withstanding, Lott's view on pork and grassroots efforts to limit earmarks helped perpetuate behavior for which the Republican majority was soundly beaten last week. Why would you invite that man back to a position of importance at a critical time for the Party?

The election of McConnell as Minority Leader is a wise choice I believe. And he, more than Lott, will be the face of the party in the Senate but will he successfully offset the potential harm done by a seemingly unrepentant Lott at the Number 2 spot?

Only time will tell.

Kill the Bad Guys

Ralph Peters today:

With Iraqi society decomposing - or, at best, reverting to a medieval state with cell phones - the debate in Washington over whether to try to save the day by deploying more troops or withdrawing some is of secondary relevance.

What really matters is what our forces are ordered - and permitted - to do. With political correctness permeating our government and even the upper echelons of the military, we never tried the one technique that has a solid track record of defeating insurgents if applied consistently: the rigorous imposition of public order.

That means killing the bad guys. Not winning their hearts and minds, placating them or bringing them into the government. Killing them.

If you're not willing to lay down a rule that any Iraqi or foreign terrorist masquerading as a security official or military member will be shot, you can't win. And that's just one example of the type of sternness this sort of fight requires.

With the situation in Iraq deteriorating daily, sending more troops would simply offer our enemies more targets - unless we decided to use our soldiers and Marines for the primary purpose for which they exist: To fight.

I'm already on record as saying we don't have the will for what's truly necessary for bringing order to Iraq. We just don't.

And yet that we would even contemplate leaving before getting this fixed is astounding to me. I'd hoped against it, but every day we get closer to January makes Iraq look a whole lot more like Vietnam.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Ghost of '94

Dean Barnett spent the afternoon on a number of blogger conference calls with Republican candidates for the House Minority leadership positions. To hear him tell it, it's quite an odd way to spend a day:

I've spent most of the afternoon on conference calls with Republican congressmen who are vying for leadership roles in the 110th Congress. Since I had previously dismissed such events as "reliably dull as dishwater," you're no doubt wondering why a man with a life as rich and full as mine (giggle) would spend his afternoon in such a fashion.

All self-depricating humor aside, Dean goes on to offer a summary of the various calls and his take-aways from each. Having already gone on the record as a Shadegg apologist, I must note the difference that even Dean includes:

Following Lungren, we were visited by the ghost of 1994 in the person of John Shadegg who is opposing Roy Blunt in the minority whip race. Shadegg came to office in '94, and the fire of that revolutionary year still burns within him. Shadegg rightly pointed out that if as a party we return the same leadership to office, we'll send an unmistakable message to the public. It won't be a good one.

Shadegg also brimmed with big ideas. He knows that we need to bring our health care system back to free market principles. He knows that given the sense of entitlement that has sprouted around health care, as a nation we've become trained to feel not responsible for our own health needs. Taking on this matter is critical, and a long process.

Shadegg understands the need to take Congress back in '08 when the first-time Democratic victors from last Tuesday will be most vulnerable.

It is indeed, the Ghost of '94. Shadegg was there, he knows first hand how it was done. Most importantly, he's not lost in his 12 years in the House, the principles that he and that class stood and won on.

Perhaps it's a pipe-dream that thinks that unique moment in time can somehow be recaptured that drives me to support Shadegg's candidacy and vision. I don't know for certain.

All I do know is, I cannot but help want that man in the House Leadership come January. The old guard is in large part responsible for losing the majority and it must either make demonstrably clear that it understands it's ercommitment to correcting them or be pushed aside, making way for people with the commitment and vision for conservative governance.

Truly (Un)Surprising

CBS creates a different impression than the one given by Marine Corps Commandant Mike Hagee. The Captain elaborates:

CBS News has an interview on their website with Marine Corps Commandant General Mike Hagee, which it promotes with the headline, "Top Marine: No Plan For Post-Saddam Iraq". The article that fronts this interview makes the claim that Hagee admits that the Pentagon had no plan at all for security in the post-invasion period:

As Commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force during the lead-up to the war, Hagee was in charge of planning for the Marines' original push to Baghdad. So I asked him about one of the enduring mysteries of the invasion — why there was no real plan for running the country once Saddam Hussein fell from power.

Unfortunately, Hagee's comments only deepen the mystery. He says he was deeply concerned about who would take charge of major Iraqi cities, like Najaf, as the Marines pushed through them on their way to Baghdad.

Hagee says he asked his boss again and again who would take charge of those cities. He wanted to know what the plan was for Phase IV — military terminology for the phase that follows the end of major combat operations. Phase IV is, in other words, what comes after "mission accomplished." Hagee says that he sent his questions up the chain of command, as they say in the military — and never heard back.

Well, that sounds pretty damning -- but that's not what Hagee says in the portion of the interview that CBS has, a 7:27 segment in which Hagee explains what happened. The connection is poor and no transcript is provided by CBS (what a shock!), but be sure to watch the video for yourselves. CBS and David Martin misrepresent Hagee in this superficial web report.

Imagine that! CBS it seems has tweaked the context of Commandant Hagee's comments and in so doing creates an impression that was not conveyed by the actual comments. A review of the piece makes it clear what Hagee was talking about, specifically:

Hagee also gives the time frame of his assessments; he talks about his forces being removed by July 2003. What Hagee discusses is the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Saddam's government, not the three years afterwards. CBS makes it sound like Hagee is talking about the entire post-invasion effort and sticks words in his mouth. In their blurb below Hagee's picture, they caption it with a "fast fact": Gen. Michael Hagee says he asked his boss again and again who would take charge of major Iraqi cities, such as Najaf.

Of course, it is CBS and they have a history of valuing memes over facts, but this is ridiculous.

Stop Political Predators

Over the weekend, the LA Times interviewed Lane Hudson, proprietor of Stop Sex Predators where the Foley IM's first found the light of day. Color me shocked:

The AllahPundit highlights the absurdities of the Lane Hudson story.

Yes, a lot of this struck me as obvious at the outset - now ask me about my uncanny ability to predict sunrises.

Allah's basic take? Simple: Who is Lane trying to kid?

Down on the Avenue

Last night the Lompoc City Planning Commission met and reviewed plans for a drug and alcohol rehab center proposal from Good Samaritan, Inc.:

At press time, the Commission was still considering the plans, which would require a zoning change and a conditional use permit. Opponents had not yet spoken.

Neighboring residents have expressed concern about the drug and alcohol recovery program, which would serve women recovering from abuse. It would also service their children.

A main concern of residents is that students often pass by the area of the Avenue Flower Shop to pass to and from Lompoc Valley Middle School.

The meeting did indeed run long and was apparently quite heated, however it did not run all night and the commission gave unanimous approval of the plan shortly after 11:00 pm.

I have much more to say on the subject but I cannot. I'm deep within the "cauldron" on this one and saying too much wouldn't be appropriate.

Suffice it to say, this is a good thing!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hometown boy

The Arizona Republic endorses John Shadegg for Minority Whip:

Boehner and Blunt are fine people. But if the minority Republicans are to make a case that they matter politically, they will have to do it by addressing first principles, and that includes returning to a fiscal conservatism they have not demonstrated in the majority.

Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana has declared his intent to run for House minority leader, following current House Speaker Dennis Hastert's announcement that he will step out of a leadership role. Pence and Shadegg, as the leaders of their party in the House, could make a strong statement that, yes, a message did in fact get through to the GOP Congress. Emulating Democrats is not going to impress enough voters to make the Republicans a majority again.

The GOP may be in the congressional wilderness for a long time. It will be a far longer trek if they fail to take cues from the guy with the fiscal compass, John Shadegg.

They're a bit behind the curve, but welcome none the less!

Abbott and Costello

Our headline for this story today made a reference to that dynamic duo. I don't see it, but maybe that's just me:

The pair addressed the 25,000-plus people attending the National Association of Realtors convention in New Orleans Saturday night, drawing at least six standing ovations and almost continuous applause.

Bush, 82, told the crowd that retirement has been good, but he acknowledged missing some of the perks of the presidency, saying he even missed the large groups of demonstrators he once had to deal with.

He recalled a demonstration that was on hand for his arrival in San Francisco, describing it as big, and led by the "ugliest woman I've ever seen in my life."

The woman approached his limousine with a sign and shouted 'stay out of my womb,"
"I thought 'Lady, there's absolutely no problem," Bush said.

Clinton bemoaned that his punishment for beating Bush in 1992 elections was that he was "condemned for the rest of my life to be his straight man."

"If I'd told that ugly woman womb joke, the New York papers would kill me," Clinton laughed.
Although he has retired, Bush said certain things have not faded in memory.

"After 14 years, no one forgets if you throw up on the Japanese premier," he said. In 1992, Bush vomited on Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and collapsed at a state dinner in Tokyo because he was ill with a virus.

Next stop, SNL!

Making no sense

Mel Martinez as head of the RNC?

Even discounting the reports last week about the fantasy-appointment of Michael Steele to the same post, this is the best we can come up with?!

  • Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels
  • Evangelical Outpost
  • One Hand Clapping
  • Camp Katrina
  • TPMCafe
  • Dodger Thoughts
  • Boy of Summer
  • Irish Pennants
  • tabletalk
  • Fire McCain
  • My Sandmen
  • Galley Slaves
  • Michelle Malkin
  • myelectionanalysis
  • Iraq the Model
  • Mystery Pollster
  • A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage
  • Right Truth
  • The Fourth Rail
  • Counterterrorism Blog
  • Just One Minute
  • Broken Masterpieces
  • Kudlow's Money Politic$
  • Econopundit
  • Tapscott's Copy Desk
  • The Blue State Conservatives
  • Palousitics
  • Christian Conservative
  • Outside the Beltway
  • The Belmont Club
  • Froggy Ruminations
  • The Captain's Journal
  • Argghh!!!
  • Chickenhawk Express
  • Confederate Yankee
  • Reasoned Audacity
  • Taking Notes
  • ThisDamnBlog
  • Three Knockdown Rule
  • Dogwood Pundit
  • Dumb Looks Still Free
  • Unfettered Blather
  • Cut to the Chase
  • Alabama Improper
  • Austin Bay Blog
  • Michael Yon-Online
  • The Trump Blog
  • A Lettor of Apology
  • GM Fastlane Blog

  • Powered by Blogger

    Listed on BlogShares Who Links Here